Thursday, February 26, 2009

50's, 60,s or 70's Rock Bands

On the last post I told you about the all time greatest rock singles. Today I would like to talk to you about Rock Bands from the 50's, 60,s and 70's.

There's always been a debate circling which era produced the best Rock n Roll, some say it's the 50's with rock greats like Elvis, or the hippie inspired 60's rock bands, some will go on and prop up the 70's hard rock bands and so on and so forth. When someone asks me which generation of Rock n Roll artists I think were the best, my answer is always the same, 'That depends on your frame of reference'.

Ok, I admit that answer is a bit aloof, and rightly so, on rare occasions I can get away with saying that one liner while my victim looks on, perplexed. I smile and pat myself on the back, feeling all full of myself for stunning another unsuspecting customer. But because I love talking about rock music I usually elaborate, 'That depends on your frame of reference. Every generation will embrace whichever music is popular at the time. And because it's all based on a frame of reference, you can never really support an argument that one generation of music tops another."

Although my explanation seems a little legalized, to me there's no other way. You can't reference an emotional state, as it relates to the music, if everyone has distinct personal likes and dislikes. No one can ever win an argument when it comes to talking about the unknown realm of feelings, unless that is, you've got none.

All of the above mumbo jumbo aside, for me, the 70's Rock bands were the best. Although I loved Rock n Roll of the 50's I always found the music a little too safe. I think the music back then was safe because there was an entire nation of up-tight conservatives who did not let the music evolve freely, so that if a rock artist wanted to get his or her music played, they ended up playing by the rules of the political mood at the time. That said, the 50's Rock n Roll artists were the ones who turned the lights on. They made it happen in a big way, laid the foundation for the next generations.

Moving on to the 60's Rock n Roll bands, I do love the music, have no doubt. But, I always felt that the artists of the 60's were still restrained by the political mood at the time. Whether it be the anti-war campaigns, or the constraints of a conservative American home life. For me, the 60's built on the foundation of the house of rock, but they were more involved in the frame of the house.

In my opinion, it wasn't until the 70's Rock bands came into the scene that rock n roll took that big leap forward into the unknown. With the foundation laid out by the 50's rock n roll pioneers, and the framework of the 60's inspired hippie scene, the 70's rock bands could no go ahead and add volume and texture to what had been created before them. The house of rock became a textured, multi-dimensional structure that you could see, touch and feel because it was finally standing on its own.

Below is a list of my all time favorite Rock n Roll bands that, in my opinion, were at their greatest in the 70's.

Led Zeppelin
Pink Floyd
The Eagles
Rolling Stones
Black Sabbath
Deep Purple
Van Halen
The Who
Lynyrd Skynyrd
The Doobie Brothers
Allman Brothers
Bachman-Turner Overdrive
Bad Company
Blue Oyster Cult
Fleetwood Mac
The Velvet Underground
The Clash

And the list goes on and on and on. But there you have it, in a nutshell, the bands that in my opinion changed the sound of Rock n Roll music forever, embracing their own brand of individuality. The 70's, in my opinion, is where the texture of rock n roll was formed and it was in the 70's rock bands that we owe for today's rock n roll sound.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

All Time Greatest Rock Singles

Last post I told you about rock covers. This post I will talk to you about All Time Greatest Rock Singles.

Although the idea of music singles has a very long history dating back to the gramophone record in the late 1800's, to me a rock single is still the good old 7 inch 45 rpm records that were introduced in 1949. These discs were just slightly larger than today's CD's but carried a lot less music, usually only 1 song on the A side and another on the Flip side. Unlike music today, where singles are immediately available for download online, back in the day you either purchased the complete album, the single or wait for it air on the radio. While I was growing up, there was always someone in the neighborhood who had purchased a 45 or the complete LP and we would all get together and play the tunes. There was no rushing, we didn't expect everything right away, and information overload didn't exist. There were fewer selections of music for us to choose from, and in this way, we enjoyed our rock singles all the more.

Fast forward 30 years and I now see a music industry that is saturated with globs of music, to the poing of overkill. Rock Singles don't really mean all that much anymore, often because the music that we listen to on the radio is mostly industry generated crap, but also because the idea of a single is irrelevent, all the music and bands seem to have amalgamated into one big genre that it's often difficult to tell who wrote what, and the fact that the music is all online, ready to be downloaded from Napster or I-tunes makes the picture even fuzzier.

I've put together a list of my favorite rock singles, these are all in alphabetic, not chronological and not based on my most favorite to my least favorite rock singles. They're just there, from top to bottom. When I put this list together I was worried that I would miss some important song, or group, and if I remember I'll add them later. Enjoy my rock singles selection.

(Don't Fear) the Reaper, Blue Oyster Cult
(Sittin on) the Dock of the Bay, Otis Redding
(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock, Bill Haley and His Comets
A Day in the Life, The Beatles
Ain't It a Shame, Fats Domino
Alison, Elvis Costello
All Along the Watchtower, Jimi Hendrix
All Apologies, Nirvana
All Shook Up, Elvis Presley
Anarchy in the U.K., The Sex Pistols
Bad Moon Rising, Creedence Clearwater Revival
Band On The Run, Paul McCartney and Wings
Black Dog, Led Zeppelin
Black Hole Sun, Soundgarden
Blowin' in the Wind, Bob Dylan
Blue Suede Shoes, Carl Perkins
Blue Suede Shoes, Elvis Presley
Blueberry Hill, Fats Domino
Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen
Born to Be Wild, Steppenwolf
Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen
Breakfast In America, Supertramp
Brown Eyed Girl, Van Morrison
Buddy Holly, Weezer
Bye Bye Love, The Everly Brothers
California Dreamin', The Mamas and The Papas
California Girls, The Beach Boys
Call Me, Blondie
Can't Help Falling in Love, Elvis Presley
Changes, David Bowie
Come As You Are, Nirvana
Come Together, The Beatles
Comfortably Numb, Pink Floyd
Crazy, Patsy Cline
Creep, RadioHead
Crying, Roy Orbison
Dance to the Music, Sly and the Family Stone
Dancing in the Street, Martha and the Vandellas
Dirty Deeds, AC/DC
Do You Believe in Magic, The Lovin' Spoonful
Don't Be Cruel, Elvis Presley
Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, The Animals
Don't Worry Baby, The Beach Boys
Dream On, Aerosmith
Dreamboat Annie, Heart
Eight Miles High, The Byrds
Eleanor Rigby, The Beatles
Enter Sandman, Metallica
Epic, Faith No More
Even Flow, Pearl Jam
Every Breath You Take, The Police
Fortunate Son, Creedence Clearwater Revival
Free Bird, Lynyrd Skynyrd
Free Fallin', Tom Petty
Georgia on My Mind, Ray Charles
Gimme Some Lovin', The Spencer Davis Group
Go Your Own Way, Fleetwood Mac
God Save the Queen, The Sex Pistols
Good Golly, Miss Molly, Little Richard
Good Lovin', The Young Rascals
Good Riddance Time of Your Life, Green Day
Good Vibrations, The Beach Boys
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John
Great Balls of Fire, Jerry Lee Lewis
Heart of Glass, Blondie
Heart of Gold, Neil Young
Heartbreak Hotel, Elvis Presley
Help!, The Beatles
Heroin, The Velvet Underground
Hey Joe, Jimi Hendrix
Hey Jude, The Beatles
Higher Ground, Stevie Wonder
Highway to Hell, AC/DC
Hot Fun in the Summertime,Sly and the Family Stone
Hotel California, The Eagles
Hound Dog, Elvis Presley
House of the Rising Sun, The Animals
How Soon Is Now?, The Smiths
I Can See for Miles, The Who
I Can't Explain, The Who
I Fought the Law, The Bobby Fuller Four
I Got You Babe, Sonny and Cher
I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Marvin Gaye
I Put a Spell on You, Screamin' Jay Hawkins
I Shot the Sheriff, Bob Marley and the Whailers
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, U2
I Walk the Line, Johnny Cash
I Wanna Be Sedated, The Ramones
I Want to Know What Love Is,Foreigner
I'm Eighteen, Alice Cooper
Imagine, John Lennon
Jailhouse Rock, Elvis Presley
Johnny B. Goode, Chuck Berry
Just My Imagination, The Temptations
Kashmir, Led Zeppelin
Kicks, Paul Revere and the Raiders
Knocking on Heaven's Door, Bob Dylan
La Bamba, Ritchie Valens
Layla, Derek and the Dominos
Lean On Me, Bill Withers
Let It Be, The Beatles
Let's Get It On, Marvin Gaye
Let's Stay Together, Al Green
Light My Fire, The Doors
Like a Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan
Little Red Corvette, Prince
Lola, The Kinks
London Calling, The Clash
Loser, Beck
Losing My Religion, R.E.M.
Love Shack, The B-52's
Love Will Tear Us Apart, Joy Division
Lust for Life, Iggy Pop
Mack the Knife, Bobby Darin
Maggie May, Rod Stewart
Man in the Box, Alice in Chains
Maybe I'm Amazed, Paul McCartney
Midnight Train to Georgia, Gladys Knight and the Pips
Miss You, The Rolling Stones
Money (That's What I Want), Barrett Strong
Moondance, Van Morrison
More Than a Feeling, Boston
Mr. Tambourine Man, Bob Dylan
Mustang Sally, Wilson Pickett
My Generation, The Who
My Girl, The Temptations
My Sweet Lord, George Harrison
New Year's Day, U2
No Woman, No Cry, Bob Marley and the Wailers
Nothing Compares 2 U, Sinead O'Connor
Oh Darling, Supertramp
Oh, Pretty Woman, Roy Orbison
Oh, What a Night, The Dells
Ohio, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
One Way or Another, Blondie
One, U2
Paint It, Black, The Rolling Stones
Papa Was a Rollin' Stone, The Temptations
Papa's Got a Brand New Bag, James Brown
Paranoid Android, Radiohead
Paranoid, Black Sabbath
Peggy Sue, Buddy Holly
Penny Lane, The Beatles
Personality Crisis, New York Dolls
Piano Man, Billy Joel
Plush, Stone Temple Pilots
Purple Haze, Jimi Hendrix
Purple Rain, Prince
Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win), Fleetwood Mac
Rock & Roll Music, Chuck Berry
Rocket Man, Elton John
Roll Over Beethoven, Chuck Berry
Roxanne, The Police
Runaway, Del Shannon
Runnin' With The Devil, Van Halen
Satisfaction, The Rolling Stones
School's Out, Alice Cooper
Shattered, Rolling Stones
Sh-Boom, The Chords
She Sells Sanctuary, The Cult
She's Not There, The Zombies
Shine, Collective Soul
Should I Stay or Should I Go, The Clash
Sloop John B, The Beach Boys
Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nirvana
Smoke on the Water, Deep Purple
Somebody to Love, Jefferson Airplane
Something, The Beatles
Son of a Preacher Man, Dusty Springfield
Spirit in the Sky, Norman Greenbaum
Stairway To Heaven, Led Zeppelin
Stand By Me, Ben E. King
Summer in the City, The Lovin' Spoonful
Sunshine of Your Love, Cream
Superstition, Stevie Wonder
Surrender, Cheap Trick
Suspicious Minds, Elvis Presley
Sweet Child O' Mine, Guns N' Roses
Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), Eurythmics
Sweet Emotion, Aerosmith
Sweet Home Alabama, Lynyrd Skynyrd
Sweet Jane, The Velvet Underground
Sympathy for the Devil, The Rolling Stones
That's All Right, Elvis Presley
The Boys Are Back in Town, Thin Lizzy
The Boys of Summer, Don Henley
The End, The Doors
The Great Pretender, The Platters
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, The Band
The Thrill Is Gone, B.B. King
The Times They Are A-Changin', Bob Dylan
The Tracks of My Tears, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
The Weight, The Band
The Wind Cries Mary, Jimi Hendrix
There Goes My Baby, The Drifters
Tiny Dancer, Elton John
Unchained Melody, The Righteous Brothers
Under Pressure, Queen
Under the Boardwalk, The Drifters
Under The Bridge, Red Hot Chili Peppers
Up on the Roof, The Drifters
Us And Them, Pink Floyd
Waiting On A Friend, Rolling Stones
Walk on the Wild Side, Lou Reed
Watching The Wheels, John Lennon
We Gotta Get Out of This Place, The Animals
What's Going On, Marvin Gaye
When a Man Loves a Woman, Percy Sledge
While My Guitar Gently Weeps, The Beatles
White Rabbit, Jefferson Airplane
White Room, Cream
Whiter Shade of Pale, Procol Harum
Who'll Stop the Rain,Creedence Clearwater Revival
Wild Horses, The Rolling Stones
Wild Thing, The Troggs
Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd
Wonderwall, Oasis
Won't Get Fooled Again, The Who
Woodstock, Crosby Stills And Nash
Would, Alice in Chains
Yesterday, The Beatles
You Can't Always Get What You Want, The Rolling Stones
You Really Got Me, The Kinks
Young Americans, David Bowie
Your Cheatin' Heart, Hank Williams
Your Song, Elton John
You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin', The Righteous Brothers
Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rock Covers

Last post I told you about album collection wish list. On this post I will discuss Rock covers.

As I look at my rock collection I'm constantly reminded at how musicians inspire one another to make rock covers. I bet every single rock musician in my rock collection has had a rock idol who has been a source of inspiration in their quest for rock glory, most likely inspired through rock covers.

Often, people forget that musicians are people just like us who get inspired, often by the same music we do. This is most obvious when rock bands do a cover of another rock artist's song, this is the ultimate tribute that a band can pay another. The thing with cover songs is that there is rarely a musician who thinks that their version will be better than the original, it's not often about competition but about paying homage to the original artist. Occasionally though, something great happens and the cover song ends up sounding better than the original. This can often be a double edged sword for the artist doing the rock cover, because although the song itself may be a source of fame for the artist, it will also awaken the so-called music critics who tend to come out of the wood work specifically to trash the rock cover. As the saying goes, everyone's a critic.

The key to doing a rock cover and not awaken the dead is to cover a song that isn't well known, so that most people will think the artist doing the cover is also the writer. This may sound terrible, but it's just the way things work in the real world, and many bands have propelled their own music careers with rock covers.

I have gathered a list of rock covers that I think are great, and in many cases have helped the rock artist gain fame. You may be surprised how many rock greats existed almost elusively on the music of others. Does that mean that they did not have talent? Of course not, often, their version was much more popular than the original. For example, let's take Rock Great Eric Clapton as an example. Many of Clapton's greatest hits, the songs that people know him by, were written by other artists. Here's a list of well known Eric Clapton Hits:

After Midnight Eric Clapton (1970) written by J. J. Cale (1970)
Cocaine Eric Clapton (1977) written by J. J. Cale (1976)
I Shot the Sheriff Eric Clapton (1974) written by Bob Marley (1973)

But Clapton wasn't the only big name who made a lot of money doing Rock Covers, take Jimi Hendrix, for example:

Come On (let the good times roll) Jimi Hendrix (1968) written by Earl King (1960)
Hey Joe Jimi Hendrix (1966) written by Performed by The Leaves (1965) Written by Billy Roberts (1962)
All Along The Watchtower Jimi Hendrix (1968) written by Bob Dylan (1967)

Still not convinced? Let's take the kings of the Back beat, The Beatles. Early in their careers, the Beatles borrowed extensively from other artists, for example:

Dizzy Miss Lizzy Beatles (1965) written by Larry Williams (1958)
Honey Don't Beatles (1964) written by Carl Perkins (1956)
Long Tall Sally Beatles (1964) written by Little Richard (1956)
Please Mr. Postman Beatles (1963) written by The Marvelettes (1961)
Roll Over Beethoven Beatles (1963) written by Chuck Berry (1956)
Twist And Shout Beatles (1963) written by Top Notes (1961)
You Really Got A Hold On Me Beatles (1963) written by The Miracles (1963)

The Beatles were a virtual cover band early on, before they found their own musical paths. Most if not all Rock n Roll giants covered other people's music. Some bands became rock stars by covering other rock band's music, take for example the following:

Blinded By The Light Manfred Mann's Earth Band (1976) written by Bruce Springsteen (1973)
Black Magic Woman Santana (1970) written by Fleetwood Mac (1968)
Blueberry Hill Fats Domino (1956) written by Gene Autry (1941)
Cum On Feel The Noize Quiet Riot (1983) written by Slade (1973)
Drift Away Uncle Kracker (2003) written by Doby Gray (1973)
Hard To Handle Black Crows (1989) written by Otis Redding (1968)
If You Don't Know Me By Now Simply Red (1989) written by Harold Melvin & Blue Notes (1972)
Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood The Animals (1965) written by Nina Simone (1964)

And the list goes on and on and on. I'm sure that most people would not consider any of the bands that I've listed as mediocre. Lets face it, some of those mentioned above are considered the kings of rock n roll, but there they are, getting famous doing rock covers. So the next time you see a new band covering an old tune, give them some space and appreciate the fact that they are doing something that has been done from day one, good old rock covers.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Album Collection Wish List

On the last post I discussed Gregorian Monk Chants. On this post I will talk about Album Collection Wish Lists.

A couple of posts ago I described how I went about organizing my rock collection. More specifically, I organized my CD collection, but have not touched my Vinyl album collection. The main reason for this is that I have duplicates of many of my Vinyl LPs in CD, and also, my wish list for my album collection has always been to duplicate all of my albums in CD form. The problem is, to convert the album collection over to CD would require thousands of dollars, and I'm not about to spend that much money.

So that is a bit of a dilemma, let's face it, vinyl albums are much more fragile, prone to scratching and warping and therefore in need of replacement. My best option was to find some sort of software that I could use to convert all of the remaining vinyl from my rock collection into digital format on my PC. I've heard that this was possible to do but I'm not that technically inclined so the idea seemed difficult. I found an interesting tutorial on the net, and it seems easier than I had first thought. Basically, all you need to do is to connect stereo RCA or RCA to 1/8-inch cables from your stereo receiver to the back of your video card, and then using free software called Audacity recording your vinyl album to your computer should be snap.

Ok, I admit that I haven't yet given it a go and that's because I realized that the needle on my record player had mysteriously disappeared, so I'm unable to actually play any of my LPs at this moment. Not sure where the record needle went, but I must admit that I've neglected that old record player for years, I like the way digital CD's sound. Actually, I like the fact that there are no scratching and white noise on the CDs and that's the primary reason that I converted most of my album collection to CD in the first place. Yes, I admit, I'm guilty of ignoring some of the albums in my collection, but frankly I just have not been in the mood to listen to the Carpenters or Beethoven piano concertos in a while, yes yes, I know, you're probably thinking "dude this isn't rock n roll", but as I've mentioned before, my music tastes vary and I'm always curious of adding new musical sounds to my repertoire.

To make a long story short, I'm going to see if I can fix my record player and then convert the rest of the album collection to my computer. Don't know when I'll get this done, cause I'm a pretty lazy dude, but when I do then I'll let you know how it worked.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Gregorian Monk Chants In My Rock Collection

On the last post I told you about how I organized my rock collection. Today we'll talk about Gregorian Monk Chants.

As I sit here looking at my rock collection, I often ask myself what it all means. My music collection is a representation of me, but why did I decide to purchase 'Gregorian Monk Chants' for example? Was it my desire to expand the wealth of my musical horizons? Or was it my wish to explore different genres of music so that I could extract and learn from these genres to expand my own repertoire of music playing? Or perhaps I really enjoy listening to 13th century Gregorian Monk Chants.

All of the above are plausible explanations why Gregorian Monk Chants ended up in my Rock Collection, but I'll put forward another reason why I believe I purchased it, Blind Sheepdom. It was hard for me to admit at first, that I was in fact herded like sheep into purchasing the Monk Chant Disk. That's not to say that I despise Monk Chants, in fact I think they're pretty cool and for those of you who like to explore your musical diversity, Gregorian Monk Chants offer a wealth of cool Harmonization techniques, but alas that is not the reason I purchased the disk.

I believe it was the early nineties, right after the Electronic/Contemporary Rock Group Enigma came out with their MCMXC a.D. in 1990. The songs on those albums, although tame by today's standards, caught on like wild fire, fueled by mainstream media's refusal to play Enigma's sexually inspired religious videos, MTV wanted nothing of it at the time. Did you know that Enigma's album was banned in several countries? Which I guess is a lesson to all you kids looking to make a splash on the music scene, get a half-decent album create a religious inspired sex-fest and get out your nets, because the money will fall from the sky.

Enigma's MCMXC a.D. CD seemed to inspire people, including the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo, I presume. Soon after that album, I noticed a plethora of religious inspired chant CD's bursting into the music scene, and people were loving it. This is a very good example of secondary/complimentary purchases where a demand is created for one product because of popularity of another, and something that the Music Industry has yet to figure out. I digress, back to the reason why Gregorian Monk Chants have made it to my Rock Collection. Beside the examples that I've outlined above, which are in fact valid, because I genuinely did get a lot out of that music, I admit that it wasn't the real reason I purchased it. I, like millions of other sheep, got caught up in the moment of the music, yes, shame on me. I got caught up in the movement, which is what music is all about. I can't stress this enough, don't be afraid to diversify and listen to new music, regardless of the genre. Do not assume for one moment that your favorite Rock n Roll Idols haven't done the same. Many great songs have come out of popular rock groups because of this, whether it be the Beatles fascination with Classical music, or Led Zeppelins country inspired ditty's, music becomes fresh and alive when people explore the boundaries of their own musical tastes.

Take it from me, the next time you see a new Music movement on the horizon, grab hold of it and make it your own. Embrace it and love it and let that new music take hold of you, regardless of your apprehensions and lack of familiarity, don't sit on a fence. You'll be glad that you have let a new form into your life, that is after all what Rock n Roll is all about, the creation of new ideas through the mixture of old ones. New music will truly enrich your music collection, much like the Gregorian Monk Chants did for my own Rock Collection.