Almost six years ago to the week I wrote a blog post about the neglected genius of ‘The Green Album’ – Eddie Jobson’s solo rock/pop/synth/prog hybrid. I say neglected simply because, outside of the prog sphere, where it is actually quite highly regarded, it is completely unknown (unfortunately, a bit like Eddie Jobson’s career).
Considering the high profile bands that Eddie has been involved with, it always amazes me how little known he is. Roxy Music, King Crimson, Yes, Jethro Tull, Frank Zappa, and Curved Air – all household names in their day and all benefiting from his involvement. This situation – his apparent position as the ultimate sidekick musician – is probably due to the fact that he was rarely a full-time or long standing member of any of these groups. Also, when he did form his own band (U.K.) it only lasted two studio albums and changed it’s sound considerably from the first to the second.
So why am I revisiting an album that I have already reviewed? At the time of writing I lamented the fact that it was impossible to obtain the music in any format in the western world (CD, Digital or Vinyl). It was possible to buy it for an over inflated price on CD from Japan, but I for one didn’t want to risk it – what if it was just a rip from a vinyl copy (which I already had). I wanted a proper, official, fully-remastered edition which I could buy with confidence and know that what I was getting was the best sound quality available. Well, my wish has finally come true! It’s here and available in a three disc set. As well as ‘The Green Album’ the set includes his 1985 solo album ‘Theme of Secrets’ and a short booklet. As mentioned in the online description:- ” All tracks have been remastered for this special 3-disc 2CD and high-fidelity blu-ray audio re-release (24bit/96k stereo).”
This post is not going to dwell on the audio quality, or make judgements on whether the new release is better or not than the original vinyl. I am not an audio expert, to me just sounds fantastic. What I want to comment on is the revelations revealed (to me at least, maybe not to Eddie Jobson insiders) about the inspiration for the album.
Having not had access to any information about the genesis of the album, it’s origins were completely shrouded in mystery. Beyond the fact that there was an intended follow-up album (as mentioned in the lyrics “The Pink is next”), nothing else was known, so I ventured my interpretation of what it was all about (which you can read here).
I interpreted the theme of the album as a science fiction story about a person living on a dystopian, polluted earth, who eventually retreats into his own memories or into an ideal vision of a ‘clean’ world. The fact that it starts with ‘Transporter’ and ends with ‘Transporter II’, to me at least, suggested a science fiction theme. I couldn’t have been further from the truth. Unfortunately, the reality of the inspiration for the album is surprisingly mundane and thoroughly 80’s in concept. As Eddie writes in the liner notes:-
“the story became about ambition and it’s positive and negative consequences; one man’s (or woman’s) journey to leave their wholesome small-town relationships and take on the big city – a competitive world of success/fame/wealth/greed – and reflect on who they have to become…”
So in effect, it’s the life journey of a Yuppie! This surprising revelation has of course no effect on the quality of the music; but sometimes, where once was mystery, the truth, when revealed, can be a significant disappointment (to say the least!).
He also notes that “this was the broad story template” and “more to create the atmosphere of the story rather than to literally convey it.” Which obviously leaves the album open to wide interpretation, and I am quite happy to stick with my version of the story.
It is interesting that on the new release the album cover art for ‘The Green Album’ does not mention Zinc, as it did on the original. I think it is generally known that Zinc was going to be the name of a new band. Unfortunately, as the album was recorded over a number of years (begun early 1980 and released in 1983), and with a long gap in the middle for a tour with Jethro Tull, a band never actually materialised. Considering that Eddie wrote all the tracks and even drew the cover art and text, it is undeniably an Eddie Jobson album more than a band effort. This a shame in some ways, because if a band had stabilised we may well have seen ‘The Pink Album’ released and possibly other colours to follow (apparently, inspired by Picasso’s Blue period, Eddie liked the idea of colours suggesting concepts – although what ‘Pink’ may have represented is not revealed).
Although ‘Theme of Secrets’ is included in this release I wanted to concentrate on ‘The Green Album’ (I may review that album at a later date). If you would like to buy the set, which I highly recommend I would order it from Burning Shed which is, as they say on their website:- “an online label and store specialising in Singer-Songwriter, Progressive, Ambient/Electronica and Art Rock music” and interestingly “All rights remain with the artists and the aim is for more profits to go directly to artists than with sales generated elsewhere.” by the way, it’s also cheaper there than through Amazon at the moment.
It would be remiss of me not to include an example of the music. So here is Eddie’s favourite track form the album and one of mine too – ‘Resident‘.
As an aside:- I’ve found an interesting interview with Eddie Jobson, here. He deservedly won the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ at the 2017 ‘Prog Magazine Awards’ in the UK. While in America, he was also inducted into ‘HBO’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’ as a part of Roxy Music, earlier this year.