Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Nineties to the present ...

Ninties was the period of Grunge and Indie-rock ...
However rock has been fading since the 90's, and its hip-hop that dominates the music scene now ...

By late 1980’s rock-music was dominated by aging rock artists, commercial pop-rock and hair metal. Any trace of Rock as rebel-music or with punk-ethics was lost in corporate sponsored and mass-marketed musical products. But some young musicians rejected this glamour-oriented posturing and created a crude and sometimes angry music. This new trend emerged mostly in Seattle and the style was dubbed as GRUNGE.
- It is mostly associated with Generation X in the US. GenX [1965-75] is the generation following the baby boomer generation …
- It is closely associated with the DIY culture …
- The lyrics were typically angst filled: anger, frustration, sadness, fear and depression …
- As a style of music it is often associated with “dirty” guitar, strong riffs and heavy drumming …

In many ways grunge was to the 90’s what punk was to 70’s. It provided a welcome return to the garage band sound of the 60’s. Early grunge bands are Alice in Chains and Soundgarden. Grunge remained mostly a local Northwest American phenomenon, until the breakthrough of Nirvana in 1991. Nirvana was an instant sensation worldwide and with its emergence, hair-metal almost completely faded from mainstream. Other bands that emerged on grunge scene are: Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, Skin Yard ….However it remained short-lives. Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994, Soundgarden broke in 1999 and others were not strong enough to carry the torch…
Some hits:
Smells like teen spirit – Nirvana
Come as you are – Nirvana
Daughter - Pearl Jam
Rooster – Alice in chains

Indie Rock stands for “Independent Rock”. Most of its artists sign to independent record labels, rather than major ones. Indie Rock evolved from “Alternative Rock” of the 80’s. The term coined to describe punk-rock inspired music geners of its times; which did not fit into mainstream genres of its time; so alternative rock. But in the 1990’s they broke into mainstream and achieved commercial success; and as alternative generes became commercialized, the term “indie Rock” began to be used. Notable Indie Rock bands are REM, Sonis Youth, Red Hot Chillie Peppers…

However, by 1990’s hip-hop started dominating the charts. Bands like 50cents, Snoop Dog, Puff Daddy, Nelly, Eminem, JayZ , Kanya West … now rule the music scene. There’s also presence of “Nu-meta” l with bands like Linkin Park, Slipknot and Mushroomhead. Some notable new rock-artists are … Green Day, Avril Lavigne … But the classic rockers still rule; and "Top Tours" of year 2005 is dominated by names of old rock-bands/artists like ... U2, the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Eagles, Motley Crew and Bruce Springsteen!!!

MTV and the Digital Revolution ...

This "relatively" new trend had to be mentioned ...
in my attempt to chronicle the evolution and metamorphosis of the phenomenon called Rock N Roll ...

MTV [Music television] founded in New York in 1981 and by mid-80’s had nation wide expansion. Since its inception, it's been a driving force in the popular culture. A large number of Rock-stars in the 80’s and 90’s have been popularized by MTV; including Duran Duran, Bon Jovi, Michael Jackson and Madonna. In 1985, MTV launched Video Hits [VH1]; which now is more popular than MTV!

Digital revolution: Though internet has been around for a long time, music downloads became popular only around 1996, with the advent of MP3 players as Winamp. The appearance of Napster in 1999 revolutionized music downloads and file-sharing became hugely popular. Though Napster was eventually shut-down by the music industry, but music downloads did not die. New technology called Peer-to-Peer (P2P) developed and many file-sharing networks emerged like Kazaa, Morpheus, Gnutella and Grokster. Now many “legal” downloads sites have opened-up …. and a vast majority of songs are brought on paid download sites as singles /song-by-song basis; rather than full album basis ....

Monday, November 28, 2005

Eighties Metal

ROCK N ROLL / Rock - Music emerged in mid-1950's ...
50’s: Rockabilly
60’s: Surf-rock, Garage-rock, Psychedelic-rock, Progressive-rock, Glam-rock
70’s: Heavy-metal, Soft-rock, Folk-rock, Disco, Punk-rock
80’s: Thrash-metal, Death-metal, Black-metal, Gothic-metal, Hair-metal
90's: Grunge-rock, Indie-rock


Some 80's hits:
• Smoke on water: Deep Purple
• Back in black - AC/DC
• Sunday bloody sunday - U2
• I still havent found what I'm looking for- U2
• Another one bites the dust - Queen
• Walk this way - Aerosmith with run DMC
• Dude looks like a lady - Aerosmith
• Legs - Z Z Top

I got to have a shot of what you got is oh so sweet,
You got to make it hot, like a boomerang I need a repeat,
Gimme all your lovin', all your hugs and kisses too,
Gimme all your lovin', don't let up until we're through....
[Gimme all your love - Z Z Top]

In late-60's and early-70's; Heavy metal emegered with the "Second Wave of British Invasion"; under the influence of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Cream... But Black Sabbath is considered as the first true Heavy Metal band. Throughout the 80's several heavy metal bands ruled the music scene: Alice Cooper, Queen, Aerosmith, Uriah Heep, AC/DC, ZZ Top and Ted Nugent. However the late-70's saw a " New Wave of British Heavy Metal" [ NWOBHM] with the coming of of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Motorhead! Some American bands to join this new trend include the names of Van Halen and Metallica among others ....
By early 1980's heavy metal spawned several sub-generes:
- Speed metal/ Thrash metal,
- Death metal
- Black metal
- Gothic metal
Though I've loves a few songs; but these sub-genres dont particularly interest me; so I'll just cover a few names associated ... Metallica, Megadeth, Venom, Death, Possessed, Slayer, Anthrax, Massacre, Napalm Death, Incantation, Celtic Fest...
Some hits:
• Killer of giants - Ozzy osbourne
• And justice for all - Metallica
• Master of puppets- Metallica
• Angel of death - Slayer
• Ace of spades - Motorhead
• Black Metal - Venom
• Welcome to hell - Venom
• Feel the fire - Overkill
• Blood of heros - Megadeth

Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerers of death’s construction
In the fields the bodies burning
As the war machine keeps turning
Death and hatred to mankind
Poisoning their brainwashed minds,
oh lord yeah!
[War Pigs - Black Sabbath - AWESOME song!!!]

Another sub-genre of metal-rock that was popular throughout the 80's was "Hair-Metal". It reminds of the Glam Rock of the early 70's. Bands associated with hair-metal: Van Halen, Motley Crew, W.A.S.P, Ratt, Bon Jovi, Def leppard, Poison, Cinderella, Dokken, Scorpions, Guns N 'Roses ..Hair metal was aggressive, with lyrics often on drinking, drug-use n occult. Musically songs often featured distorted guitar, frenzied drumming and complimentary bass.. By mid-80's a discernible formula developed; in which hair-band had two hits: one power ballad and one hard-rocking anthem.

Some hits:
• Rock you like a hurricane - Scorpions
• Eruption - Van Halen
• Running with the devil - Van Halen
• Girls girls girls - Motley Crew
• Welcome to the jungle - Guns N' Roses
• Sweet child o mine - Guns N' Roses
• Pour some sugar on me - Def leppard
• Bad medicine - Bon Jovi
• Wanted dead or alive - Bon Jovi
• Every rose has its thorn - Poison

Every rose has it’s thorn
Just like every night has it’s dawn
Just like every cowboy sings his sad, sad song
Every rose has it’s thorn
Yeah it does
[Every rose has its thorn - Poison ]

But by 1990, the popularity of hair metal declined, with the emergence of GRUNGE - ROCK with the emrgence of Alice in Chains, Nirvana and Pearl Jam in the musical scene....

• 1980: John Lennon murdered in front of this New York apartment
• 1985: "We are the world", is recorded by 46 US artists in support of suffering people in Africa
• 1991: Freddie Mercury dies of AIDS
• 1992: Seattle becomes core of Grunge Rock with Nirvana and Pearl Jam
• 1994: Kurt Cobain commits suicide
• 1995: Rock and Roll Hall of fame and museum opens in Cleveland

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Super Seventies ...

Here’s another post; in an attempt to understand the musical phenomenon:
ROCK N' ROLL !!! It evolved in the mid-50’s …
50’s: Rockabilly
60’s: Surf-rock, Garage-rock, Psychedelic-rock, Progressive-rock, Glam-rock
70’s: Heavy-metal, Soft-rock, Folk-rock, Disco, Punk-rock
Next: 80’s rock
*** 80's Rock would be the last in this series ... HOPEFULLY !!!!

By seventies, the term Rock-N-Roll had become obsolete and substituted by just “Rock-music”. The chaotic events of the sixties [Vietnam war, social changes, womens movements] continued in the seventies. In fact the decade is full of tragic events:
• Jimi Hendrix died - 1970
• Janis Joplin died - 1970
• The Beatles break-down - 1970
• Jim Morrison died - 1971
• Elvis Presley died - 1977

However, Rock was ever popular in the 70's and a multitude of styles emerged:
• hard rock / heavy metal
• soft rock
• folk rock
• punk rock
• disco
Many forms of rock that emerged in the late sixties carried to early seventies, like folk rock, progressive rock and heavy metal ...

HEAVY METAL: It is characterized by heavy instrumentation- especially guitar, dark themes and aggressive up-tempo rhythms. The names Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple are associated with early heavy metals The coming of these groups to the US is termed as the "Second Wave of British Invasion". Soon many bands joined this form of music: Blue Oyster, Uriah heep, UFO, Cult, Kiss, Queen, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Z Z Top ...

There's a lady who's sure
All that glitters is gold
And she's buying a stairway to heaven
When she gets there she knows
If the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for
And she's buying a stairway to heaven
[Stairways to heven: Led Zeppelin]

By mid-70's heavy metal was languishing into obscurity by mid-70's. [However few bands maintained large following - Led Zep, Queen, AC/DC, Aerosmith]

Backstroke lover always hidin' 'neath the covers
"Gonna talk to you" my daddy say
Said "You ain't seen nothin' till you're down on a muffin
Then you're sure to be a changin' your ways"
[Walk this Way : Aerosmith]

But by 1978, a "New Wave of British Heavy Metal" NWOBHM emerged with the coming of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Van Halen and Metallica ...
By 80's hair metal evolved with ... Def leppard, Poison, Van Halen, Motley Crew, Bon Jovi, Ratt ...
[*I will cover Metal Rock in details later]

SOFT ROCK / Lite-rock / Easy-rock / Mellow-rock
With the demise of Beatles as a group, other bands and groups took to soft-rock format, with focus on lyrics and ear-pleasing music. Major Acts: Phil Collins, Bread, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Carole King, Barry Manilow, Billy Joel, Carpenters, Gloria Estefan ...

FOLK ROCK: It was a rage in the seventies, popularised by Bob Dylan . Other bands include: The Byrds, Donovan, The Everly Brothers, Jim Corce, Joni Mitchell, The Eagles ....

DISCO: By 1973 many hits featured danceable disco beats. During this period, for the first time electronic instruments where used for commercial music on a mass-scale . This genre includes names like KC and the Sunshine Band, The O'Jays, Barry White, ABBA, Sister Sledge, The Jacksons, Donna Summer,Gloria Gaynor, Boney M . Disco reached its pinnacle with BeeGees music in 1977 film , "Saturday Night Fever". By the end of 70's there was huge anti-disco backlash. …

Whether you're a brother or whether you're a mother
you're stayin' alive, stayin' alive
Feel the city breakin' and everybody shakin'
and we're stayin' alive, stayin' alive
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive, stayin' alive
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive
[Staying Alive : The BeeGees ]

PUNK ROCK: Emerged as reaction against disco and progressive rock. Early punk borrowed heavily from garage bands. Punk was triipped down three chord music that could be played easily!. Major acts : Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Clash, New York Dolls, The stooges …
[ Already discussed …]

... Hopefully that ends this series ...

Friday, November 18, 2005


All the power's in the hands
Of people rich enough to buy it
While we walk the street
Too chicken to even try it

Everybody's doing
Just what they're told to
Nobody wants
To go to jail!

Are you taking over
or are you taking orders?
Are you going backwards
Or are you going forwards?
[White Riot - The Clash]

Punk rock is kind of an anti-establishment movement started by about mid-seventies.
- Interestingly British punk coincided with the rise of Thatcherism and nearly all Brit-punks reflect attitude of anger and social alienation

- Part of reaction was against certain tendencies that had overtaken popular music of the seventies like the grandiose progressive rock and also the superficial “disco” music.

- The punks also rejected the hippie counterculture of the sixties.

London calling, now don't look to us
Phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust
London calling, see we ain't got no swing
'Cept for the ring of that truncheon thing
[London Calling : The Clash]

- The punks embraced a new fashion; characterized by highly theatrical use of cosmetics with bold eye-make-up and spiked hair-style [Mohawk]. The clothing was usually torn pants and shirts, put together with tapes or safety-pins. Leather or vinyl clothing was also common. Punk band like “minor threat” began with slogans like “no drink, no smoke, no f@#$” and created a counter-culture to the counter-culture!

- It is also associated with the DIY [do it yourself] attitude. Form your own band, write own lyrics and even become music journalist and critic.

- It is said to have origins in:
- The Garage Rock of the mid-sixties ; with bands such as The Sonics, The Seeds ...
- The Glam /Glitter rock of late sixties ...
- Some politically confrontational bands like the Stooges, MC5 ...

Punk Rock originated in about mid 70's, by bands like The Ramones in US and Sex pistols and The Clash in the UK. Some other acts: New York Dolls, Sonic Youth, the Pretenders, Blondie, Dead Kennedys ...

It emphasized simple musical structure with short songs; usually less than three minutes; confrontational lyrics and use of simple three-cords. Extolling DIY ethic they insisted that anyone can start a punk band. [This is a chord, this is another, and this is the third. Now form a band]

Hey ho, let’s go hey ho, let’s go hey ho, let’s go hey ho, let’s go
They’re forming in straight line they’re going through a tight wind
The kids are losing their minds the blitzkrieg bop
[Blitzkreig Bop: Ramones]

RAMONES: Blitzkreig Bop, I wanna be sedated, Sheena is a punk rocker, Pin head, I wanna be your boyfriend
SEX PISTOLS: Anachy in the UK, God save the Queen
THE CLASH: Complete control, London calling, Rock the casbah, White Riot, Should I stay or should I go, Death or Glory,
STOOGES: Search n Destroy
NEW-YORK DOLLS: Personality Crisis

Stuck in the sixties ...

Though I've talked about "Psychedelic Rock" earlier; here's some other rock-forms that evoled in the sixties:

In the early sixties, one of the most popular form of rock was “Surf Rock”. It evolved in the West coast; and is characterized by heavy instrumentation; especially electric guitar and innovative percussion.
Major Acts: The Surfaris, Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, The Ventures

In mid-sixties a new trend, when many performers rehearsed in the family “garage”. The music usually had simple chord progression, pounding drums and short repetitive lyrics. It is said to have influenced several punk rock groups, that emerged in the seventies; especially Ramones.
Major Acts: The Seeds, Shadows of Knight, Question Mark …

It emerged in the mid-sixties and was an attempt to capture the hallucinating effects of drugs…
[Discussed earlier]
Major Acts: Velvet Underground, Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Pink Floyd

It’s a grandiose style of rock that emerged in the late sixties and peaked in its popularity in early seventies. It is a mostly fusion of classical music and jazz. It began in England and is largely a European movement, as against American rock, which is more influenced by R&B and country music. Progressive rock is said to be closest to Classical music form.
Main characteristics:
- Long compositions: many times over 20 minutes.
- The theme was mostly sci-fi, fantasy, war, history, religion
Major Acts: King Crimson, Yes, Jethro Tull, Genesis, Pink Floyd

It emerged in the late sixties and declined by mid seventies. It is more distinguished by its costume and stage acts of performers, rather than any particular aspect of music. The performers put glittery make-up and wore outrageous costumes. “Take a stylish stroll through the early seventies, when boys would be girls and girls would be boys.”
Major Acts: David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Mott the Hoople, New York Dolls, T.Rex, Kiss, Queen.



Origin of the * term* Rock n Roll:
The word rocking was used by gospel singers of American South, to mean something akin to “spiritual rapture”. By 1940’s it was used as double entendre with hidden sexual references. During the fifties when a new wave of music evolved; which was fast paced and drew heavily on R&B; a Cleveland disc jockey, used the term “Rock-n-Roll” to describe the rollicking music on the airwaves … and the name Rock-n-roll stuck …
However later it was referred only as Rock-music.

“First Ever” Rock Song:
There is some controversy as to which song can be termed “first-ever” R-n-R song; contenders being:
• “Rock Round the Clock” (Bill Haley n his Comets - 1954)
• “That’s All Right, Mama” (Elvis Presley -1954)
• “Maybellene” (Chuck Berry - 1955) …
However, the magazine “Rolling Stones” declared "Rock Round the Clock" as the first ever Rock song.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The British Invasion

As much as Rock-N-Roll has its roots in the African American music; it also drew heavily from European immigrants; especially the British!!! The term "British Invasion" is used to describe the phase when scores of British groups made their way to America and with their influence changed the musical scenario here:
First Wave : 1964-69
Second wave: 1970's

The “FIRST WAVE” British invasion is said to have begun with coming of the Beatles to America. They made their television debut on the Ed Sullivan shows, in Feb 1964, with 5 songs; and later each one of them became a super hit. These are: All My Loving, Till there was you, She loves you, I saw her standing there, I want to hold your hand …
Soon they produced a string of hits and earned the name “The Fabulous Four” .
Some Hits: And I love her so, If I fell, Cant buy me love, I feel fine, Yesterday, I’m a loser, Strawberry fields forever, Help!, Hey Jude, Revolution, Come together…

Well, she was just 17,
You know what I mean,
And the way she looked was way beyond compare.
So how could I dance with another (ooh)
And I saw her standin’ there

Soon after Beatles landed in America; a rush of other British musicians
• THE ROLLING STONES: Time is on my side; No satisfaction, Start me up
• THE ANIMALS: House of Rising Sun
• THE KINKS: Lola, You really got me going, Taking care of business
• THE WHO: My Generation, Anyway, anyhow, anywhere
• THE YARDBIRDS: For Your Love , White Summer

To thrill you with delight,
I'll give you diamonds bright.
There'll be things that will excite,
To make you dream of me at night…
[For your love – Yardbirds

The sixties was also the time-period of some of the best AMERICAN ROCK-STARS:
• JIMI HENDRIX: Purple haze, Foxy lady, Little Wing, Angel, Stone free
• JANIS JOPLIN: Me and Bobby McGee, Kozmic Blues, Try
• THE DOORS: Riders on the storm, Light my fire, Roadhouse blues, Crystal ship
• STEPPENWOLF: Born to be wild, Magic carpet ride, Rock n Roll rebels
• SIMON & GARFUNKEL: I am a Rock, Homeward Bound, Bridge over troubled water
• BOB DYLAN: considered to be one of the most influential names in the American popular music. Singer n lyricists, he changed the complexion of rock music and proved that conventional good voice is not a precondition for success. Bringing in elements of folk music, he popularized "Folk Rock". Interestingly, in the initial phase, he had kept his distance from this new wave of rock music and said to have called the Beatles as “bubblegum” group.
Hits: Like a rolling stone, Times they are a-changing, Blowin in the wind.

SECOND WAVE of British Invasion – 70’s
The 70’s marks the second wave of British invasion:
• CREAM: Sunshine of your love, Crossroads, Spoonful
• LED ZEPPELIN: Stairways to heaven, Black dog, Dyer maker, Kashmir
• BLACK SABBATH: Paranoid, Iron man, War pigs, Bloody Sabbath
• DEEP PURPLE: Smoke on the water, Perfect strangers, Woman from Tokyo
With this emerged the phase of “Heavy Metal” Rock...

Can't get enough of sixties ...

There are many groups of the 60’s; though not as successful as the Beatles, Rolling Stones or Bob Dylan ; have produced some amazing songs.
Here’s a list of a few songs, that I really enjoy and most of them have a 50’s feel!


HOLLIES: Bus Stop, On a carousel, Carrie Ann, Stop-stop-stop, Long cool woman in black dress

ZOMBIES: Time of the season, Tell her no, She’s not there

SEARCHERS: Love portion No 9, Sweets for my sweet, Sugar n spice, Wishin n hopin’

THE MONKEES: I’m a believer, Last train to Clarksville,

DONOVAN: Sunshine superman, Mellow Yellow, Jennifer juniper

HERMAN’s HERMITS: I’m into something good, No milk today, Mrs. Brown , I’m Henry VII, Years may come years may go, Leaning on a lamp post


SHIRELLES: The first major female group of the era.
Will you still love me tomorrow, Mama said, Soldier boy

THE TURTLES: Happy together, Let me be, Your baby

THE BYRDS: Mr. Tamborine man, Turn turn turn, Eight miles high

THE EVERLY BROTHERS: Bye bye love, Cathy’s clown, All I have to do is dream, Wake up little Susie

THE RASCALS : Beautiful morning, Grooving, Good lovin’, Its wonderful

Saturday, November 05, 2005


If you can just get your mind together
Uh-then come on cross to me
We’ll hold hands and we will watch the sunrise
From the bottom of the sea
But first, Are you experienced?
Uh-have you ever been experience –uh? Well I have

“Are you experienced”; the ageless classic by Jimi Hendrix …
I used to think the song is about sex. Later, reading more I learned it is about the use of drugs. Some even claim that the song is about being at peace with oneself. Wotever !!! One thing is crystal clear; it is definitely a song that belongs to the “Psychedelic Rock” genre.

The word “psychedelic” is coined from Greek words: Psyche (mind) and delein (manifest)
“Psychedelic Rock “; as a musical form; evolved in about the year 1966-67. Those were the halcyon days of counterculture revolution; when young adults were increasingly using drugs as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and hallucinogenic as LSD, psilocin n mescaline. These drugs affect a person both physically and psychologically. “Physical effects “include: dilated pupils, blurred vision, elevated heart rate, palpitation … whereas “Psychological effects” include alterations in the way brain interprets time space and the reality around oneself ... There are illusions, loss of control, confusion, anxiety, mood-swing of happiness, sadness...

Psychedelic Rock; evolved as an attempt to capture these mind-altering qualities of drugs. The ‘lyrics’ often described visions of dreams, illusions n hallucination and the ‘instrumentation’ became long as they tried to replicate the drug-induced experience with distortions, delayed, prolonged and amplified guitar riffs …
Psychedelic Rock also came to be known as Flower Power, Acid Rock or Hard Rock.

The sixties is characterized with increased use of hallucinogenic drugs; especially LSD.
Three names are prominently linked with this phenomenon.
• Dr. Albert Hoffman; who in 1943; created a new drug “LSD” (acid) in Switzerland.
• Timothy Leary, a Harvard professor; known as “guru of LSD”; who popularized this drug, in America.
• Aldous Huxley; who authored of the famous book “The Doors of Perception” [from which the group “The Doors” takes its name]

Leary’s advise “turn in, turn on and drop out”- became an anthem of the counterculture generation. LSD alters a person’s perception of space and time, with an “out of the body” experience. People took drugs, partially to get high and escape reality and also to expand their minds and consciousness. Taking drugs and getting stoned, became a symbol of solidarity.

Psychedelic Music: The early groups to experiment with capturing the drug-induced state-of-mind in a musical form are said to be The Grateful Dead and Velvet Underground. But soon many more groups joined and by 1966 almost every group was producing psychedelic songs.. Some early hits are:
White Rabbits - Jefferson Airplane;
Eight Miles High – Byrds
Sunshine Superman – Donovan

The name of group “Pink Floyd” needs a special mention here. They brought out songs with wild instrumentation, eerie sounds, electronic screeches, loud amplification... music that people had never heard before. Their popularity can be gauged from the fact that just after the “ Live 8” show, where the group reunited after 24-years; their record sale saw a phenomenal surge. Sales of “The Wall” increased by 3600%, “Wish You were here” – 2000%;
Echoes by 1343% ….

Here is a list of few psychedelic hits (25)
I am the Walrus; LSD; Tomorrow Never Knows - The Beatles
Magic Carpet Ride – Steppenwolf
Light my fire - The Doors
Are you experienced, Purple Haze, If 6 were 9 - Jimi Hendrix
Dazed and Confused – Led Zeppelin
Eight Miles High - The Byrds
Good Vibrations- The Beach Boys
Sunshine Superman, Season of the Witch - Donovan
White Rabbits - Jefferson Airplane
Venus in Furs, Heroin, Femme Fatale, Run Run Run - Velvet Underground
Echoes; Ummagumma; Interstellar overdrive, The Great Gig In the sky,
Wish you were here, Comfortable Numb, Us and Them
– Pink Floyd

*It took me long to write this; cause …
I made a point to re-hear each of the songs that I’ve mentioned here…
and each one of them is awesome!!!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Old Time Rock N Roll

Visual imagery can be so powerful!
My early childhood was almost devoid of any influence of Western Music. Once, when I was quite grown up, I saw this movie, “Risky Business” in which the then sane Tom Cruise, who looked fresh and cherubic, danced wildly with an imaginary guitar, to the famous upbeat tunes by Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock-n-Roll”:

I Just take those old records off the shelf
I’ll sit and listen to ’em by myself
Today’s music aln ’t got the same soul
I like that old time rock ’n’ roll

I reacted with a WOW and I wanted to learn more about *Old Time* R-n-R!!!
This always evoked in me vivid images of “hippies”; who sported a very amusing fashion-taste of long hair, short-skirts, and bell-bottom or rather preferred being partially nude; who adhered to and advocated free expression of love-n-sex and were totally cool with the liberal use of psychedelic drugs. These images were so interesting and so overpowering, that it ushered in me, an interest to dig into the origins of this musical form, in the socio-political-economic set-up in which it evolved...
My impression is still sex-drugs-Rock-n-Roll ... BUT much more...

R-n-R evolved in the US, in around mid-50. So what was the mainstream culture at that time? After 15 years of depression and world war, there was relative stability, soldiers were returning home, there was economic surge and all this created conditions for birth of baby-boom generation (1946-64). Alongside, the "civil rights movement" - for equality in races - was gaining momentum. It was the time of Martin Luther King and of increased protests against segregation of Blacks n Whites in buses, schools and public-places.! The atmosphere of integration was beset with a lot of resistance and violence. This was the milieu, at the cusp of the most historic musical revolution: The emergence of Rock n-Roll. Not surprisingly, this new genre combined elements of music that was hitherto enjoyed separately by Blacks and Whites; and fused them together; to be enjoyed by both!!! So R-n-R has origins in gospel, R&B, boogie-woogie and country music of the time...

By the mid 50's the first batch of Rock-n-Roll songs was out. There is some controversy as to which song can be termed “first-ever” R-n-R song; contenders being:
“Rock Round the Clock” (Bill Haley n his Comets - 1954);
“That’s All Right, Mama” (Elvis Presley -1954)
“Maybellene” (Chuck Berry - 1955) …
Some other landmark songs of this era are; Peggy Sue (Buddy Holly);
Shake, Rattle n Roll (Big Joe Turner), Tutti-Frutti (Little Richards) …
This new music style was flashier, more upbeat, fast-paced, and people could swing n dance to the beats. It was termed as ROCKABILLY and is said to be the earliest form of Rock-n-Roll music, but almost died by end of 50’s!!!

The entry of Elvis Presley, in the mid-50’s; later to be crowned “The King”; is said to be the most significant development in music-world. Not only did he bring R-n-R into mainstream culture but also opened the doors of Black music in White population His versatile range, pulsating beats, hip-swiveling, pelvic thrusts, bizarre dress-sense, hair-style was like nothing that people had ever seen before. His early hits are rock-classics: Heartbreak Hotel, Hound Dog, Don’t be Cruel, Love Me Tender, Jailhouse Rock, All Shook Up …

Well, since my baby left me,
I found a new place to dwell.
It’s down at the end of lonely street, At heartbreak hotel.
You make me so lonely baby, I get so lonely, I get so lonely I could die.

The 60's brought in new developments and so evolved R-n-R! Main events can be summed as The British invasion (Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, Kinks....); Vietnam War (1965-73); advancements in medicines resulting in birth-control pills ( ushering sexual-revolution); increased use of drugs and coming of age of the oldest of baby-boomer generation !!! This mix of factors was the breeding ground of a new culture of “hippies”. They stood for everything that adult culture loathed. They rebelled against taboos: adopted a lifestyle of free sex n drugs; were anti-Christ; but most of all … they embraced Black music (although even played by White acts)!!! Adults hated it, teenagers loved it. These teenagers formed a distinctive culture and by their sheer number (baby-boomers) exerted tremendous social impact. They were politically active taking anti-war stance – with demonstrations against the Vietnam War. They stood against ostentatious life-style and favored simple bohemian living. This Hippie-Generation rightly earned the name as “Counterculture Generation”!

Along with hippie culture Rock- music entered the next stage and now the lyrics were more diverse on love, peace, anti-war, anti-racism, anti-Christ, serious messages, satires, humor, drugs … almost everything ..
Some hits of this era, reflect these developments:
- Protest songs (Give Peace a Chance - John Lennon; Unknown Soldiers - The Doors)

Ev'rybody's talking about ministers, Sinister, Banisters
And canisters, Bishops, Fishops,
Rabbis,and Pop eyes, Bye, bye, bye byes
All we are saying is give peace a chance.

- Satiric social commentary on the life-style of show and ostentation.
(I Can Get No Satisfaction – Rolling Stones, Dedicated Follower of Fashion – Kinks)

He flits from shop to shop just like a butterfly.
In matters of the cloth he is as fickle as can be,’
cause he’s a dedicated follower of fashion

- Songs that reflected the ideology and values of this new generation
(My Generation - The Who; Times They Are A-Changing - Bob Dylan)

Come mothers and fathers all over this land
And don't criticize what you can't understand
Your sons and your daughter are beyond your command
Your old role is rapidly aging
Please get out of the new one if you can't lend a hand
For the times they are a changing

With the increased use of drugs evolved a new style of Rock-music: PSYCHEDELIC /Acid-Rock/ Hard-Rock. It was an attempt to replicate the mind-altering experience of drugs. It reached its peak popularity by about 67-68; with almost all rockers producing music which depicted this psychedelic experience. Some names stand out; Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd …. Some famous songs; (Strawberry Fields Forever - Beatles; Sunshine Superman – Donovan; Purple Haze – Hendrix; Psychedelic Shack – Temptations; Eight Miles High – Byrds……)

The high-point, or the ultimate climax of the hippie culture n Rock-n-Roll was Woodstock, 1969!!! It is said that over 500,000 attended the concert. Rains, drugs, nudity But remarkably no violence are highlights of this event.

(This write-up has been my attempt to understand the environment in which R-n-R evolved development from about mid-50 … to …70’s….)