Album #363 – Oxygene

Album #363

Jean-Michel Jarre is a name most people in North America don’t know. But, among other things, he has broken the Guinness World Record of performing to the largest outdoor audience not once, but three times!!! Nobody else can claim that title, not even Springsteen. Jarre’s album Oxygene rolled the wheels in motion for his huge success in France and beyond. This album is the biggest selling album by a French artist. And yet, it’s roots are very humble. Jarre recorded this album for eight months in his kitchen, using several synthesizers. Now, in 2013, a recording like this happens is a no brainer. Many musicians just starting out will do recordings in their bedroom with a computer. But, back in 1976, this feat was almost never done. Jarre recorded everything with his eight track recorder. There was no console and no sweetening. What you hear is done by one person. This is an amazing feat for any musician. But, Jarre did not get much support from record labels. They found the lack of any singing and the six part nature of the album as inaccessible.  Boy, were they wrong!!! This album went on to make Jarre a household name in France and known throughout the world. He helped make synths more accessible and showed all the power they had. Each part of Oxygene is like a painting and takes you places you never thought you would go. Oxygene IV ended up being a huge hit in the UK, going to number 4 on the singles charts. It didn’t hurt that the melody of Oxygene IV was taken from the Popcorn Song!!! Yes, that song made famous by Hot Butter in 1972. But, Jarre’s version is much more low key and laid back. That melody is interwoven within Oxygene IV. Oxygene V is also important because it has a small part in Canadian television history. When CHAN-TV in Vancouver hired talk radio icon and journalist Jack Webster to host a daily, hour-long talk show in 1978, they needed a theme. Someone decided to take a small portion of Oxygene V and use it as the theme for his landmark program. The theme ended up becoming synonymous with Webster and went hand in hand with his greeting of “nine am precisely” for several years. I was so excited when I found out that it was a piece of Jarre’s Oxygene that served as the theme. My jaw literally dropped. I had no idea this was coming. I know this is very trivial but makes Oxygene much more special to me. I really enjoyed this album and the moods and directions that Jarre took me as I was listening. A album that definitely deserved to see the light of day. Overall, I give Oxygene 5 out of 5.

Next: Ramones’ self-titled debut album!!!

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