An investigation into the story of a popular music that is often said to be made to be heard, but not listened to. The film looks at easy listening's architects and practitioners, its dangers and delights, and the mark it has left on modern life.
An investigation into the story of a popular music that is often said to be made to be heard, but not listened to. The film looks at easy listening's architects and practitioners, its dangers and delights, and the mark it has left on modern life. From its emergence in the 50s to its heyday in the 60s, through its survival in the 70s and 80s and its revival in the 90s and beyond, the film traces the hidden history of a music that has reflected society every bit as much as pop and rock - just in a more relaxed way. Invented at the dawn of rock 'n' roll, easy listening has shadowed pop music and the emerging teenage market since the mid-50s. It is a genre that equally soundtracks our modern age, but perhaps for a rather more 'mature' generation and therefore with its own distinct purpose and aesthetic.
Given Bob Mould's reputation for searing electric rock & roll, it may be easy to think that the title of File Under: Easy Listening is ironic, and it is to a certain extent. But beneath the loud guitars lie the friendliest, most relaxed pop songs Mould had ever written. "Your Favorite Thing" and "Can't Help You Anymore" are two of Mould's most direct, pop-oriented songs, driven by instantly memorable melodies and hooks; they are also the most conventional songs on the record. The best moments come when Sugar push the boundaries a bit, whether it's on the country-rock of "Believe What You're Saying," the swirling "What You Want It to Be" and "Company Book," the searching ballad "Panama City Motel," or "Explode and Make Up," which bristles even at its most delicate moments. Mould throws in one classic spite-fueled rocker, "Granny Cool," but the record's finest moment is "Gee Angel," a powerhouse melodic scorcher.
SHM-CD reissue. Comes with a mini-description. Features new remastering if it comes from Parlophone. The gentle genius of guitarist Johnny Smith – perfectly captured in this late nite trio session from the 50s! There's a lot more jazz here than you might guess from the "easy listening" title – and Johnny's working with drummer Charlie Mastropaolo and bassist George Roumanis, in a style that's very much in keeping with his other best Roost work at the time. Smith has this way on the strings that's like few other players of his time – a style of playing the guitar that's so gentle, so spacious, the notes come off the instrument almost by themselves – with a lightly ringing quality that's the best part of the unique Johnny Smith tone.