The Diversifyin’ Late 60s/Early 70s, Part II: Never Mind The Sex Pistols

Truly, as far as punk rock is concerned, we must remember two things:
1) Never say you like punk because you like The Clash. That’s like saying you like rap because you like Run-DMC. Of course you like The Clash. They rule. That goes unsaid. Saying you like The Clash is going to make people think you don’t know what you’re talking about.
2) The Sex Pistols are awful. If you haven’t heard their one record displaying how truly bad and nonsensical their music is, don’t bother, because the Pistols are not the end all, be all of punk. Near the end of the punk’s prominence, a London clothier fabricated this band to capitalize on the punk fashion scene.

The Diversifyin’ Late 60s/Early 70s, Part I: The Name of The Band Is Yes

Most people (rightfully) believe rock music came from the hybridization of country and blues music. After all, the early rock and rollers like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis played nothing more than twelve-bar blues with a country backbeat. But toward the end of the sixties, rock music had a sub-genre explosion, with rock and roll giving way to [blank]-rock (the blank filled with some adjective, e.g. “hard,” “country,” “blues,” and cetera.) Progressive rock, though, while still in the blanket term of “rock,” has little to no blues background. Yes, especially by the time they hit their stride with The Yes Album and Fragile, were little more than a classical music ensemble playing rock instruments.

IBM 1401

In 1971, the father of Icelandic musician and composer Johann Johannsson, bemoaning the deaccession of his office IBM 1401, and in one of the earliest examples of techno-romanticizational archival preservation(TM), made a recording of the sounds and electromagnet waves that the 1401 produced, utilizing a radio receiver and a reel-to-reel tape machine. It was nearly 30 years before his son rearranged these recordings, combined them with excerpts from an original audio instruction manual, and set the whole thing to a post-modern orchestral score. IBM 1401: A Users Manual is the result. You can click here to read a story from NPR's Song of the Day and listen to a sample track from the album.

The Only Band That Matters

The Band went from backing Ronnie Hawkins as The Hawks to backing Bob Dylan when he did his electric tour to being the most unsung band out there. While they achieved popularity in their time, scored hits, and certainly had the respect of all of their contemporaries, history unfortunately hasn’t yet brought Music From Big Pink and The Band to the forefront of classic rock must-haves like Let It Bleed, Who’s Next, or any The Rutles record.

Graduation by Kanye West

Graduation is the third installment in Kanye West's "education" series. This CD is fresh and innovative (and even somewhat eclectic). If you like hip-hop music, you will love Graduation. In my opinion, it is the best hip-hop CD of 2007!

I Don't Feel Like Dancing

As far as my musical tastes go, I have two main tenets. Firstly, I hold that Queen is the greatest band that ever was or will be. Second, I don’t much fancy music in the "Dance/Electronica" genre: just not my cup of meat. That being said, I tuned into Saturday Night Live back in 2004 and saw the obscurely obscenely named band Scissor Sisters. Taking one look at their falsettoed lead singer wearing a onesie and listening to the music, I realized something. These people love Queen almost as much as I do, because “Take Your Mama” (the song I was hearing) could easily be on any of Queen’s records.

Her name is Vega

American contemporary folk artist and popular musician Suzanne Vega is performing live at The Ark in Ann Arbor on Saturday, September 29. Vega began releasing albums in the mid- 1980s and her first big success came with the singles “Luka” and “Tom’s Diner” (you know, that song that always got stuck your head.) Her latest release, Beauty & Crime, brings further proof that she’s got something to say that’s worth listening to. You can see more of Vega at her website.

(Standing In The Shadows Of) Motown

The Funk Brothers, Motown’s house band, had as much to do with the signature Motown Sound as anybody else at the studio. The group of jazz and blues musicians integrated their non-pop musical background into creating the arrangements and style now associated with Motown. Also, like Booker T. and the MGs—their Stax Records equivalents—they were an integrated band, a rarity in the late 50s, early 60s. Their story is outlined in the insightful, rocking, and occasionally touching documentary Standing In The Shadows of Motown.

Cheer Up Sleepy Jean: The Monkees Story

The National Broadcasting Corporation formed a band in 1965 called The Monkees. Their moptop haircuts, singer/tambourinateer with a British accent, jangly rhythms, tight harmonies, and misspelled-animal-as-band-name were all bold and revolutionary... when The Beatles did it. Combine the fact that their first two albums—More of the Monkees and The Monkees—featured little to no original material and studio musicians playing the backing tracks, and the band that doesn’t it make it easy for music snobs to like them. But once this band, which consisted of two very extraordinary musicians and two… other people, had the reigns of their career, they went forth to produce some very fine and very overlooked material.

If you like Irish music....

This Friday evening, September 14, Liz Carroll, fiddler extraordinaire will be performing with equally talented guitarist, John Doyle at The Ark. Carroll's and Doyle's joint performances, in concert and on cd have been described by the Irish Echo as "...a magnificent balance of virtuosity, drive, and finesse .... Carroll's bowing and Doyle's picking represent a kind of soloing in sync, each supporting and inspiring the other without a whiff of self-indulgence."

Check them out, if there are still tickets left. And look for a sizeable collection of Irish music at the Library.

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