Music Consumption in the MP3 Era
Music Consumption in the MP3 Era

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Name: uao
Location: California

uao is also a contributor to Blogcritics.org, Rhapsody Radish. and FIQL.com.

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Feel free to dig through the Deep Freeze for more, but stuff dated before mid-March 2005 is still formative and impressionistic, and not really worth the effort.

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I grew up reading Robert Christgau, Village Voice, and Lester Bangs, Creem, Punk, various others.

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Note: the copyrighted audio material on this site is for listening only, and is not downloadable. It is provided as illustrations to the articles, and to interest people in the legal purchase of these artists' material. Any copyright holder who would like their material removed should contact me, and I'll remove it.

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Friday, February 04, 2005
 

Long Time Gone

The Beatles: Something New [U.S.] (1964) The Rolling Stones: England's Newest Hitmakers [U.S.] (1964)
The Byrds: Fifth Dimension (1966) Sly & The Family Stone: Stand! (1968)


So far, we've looked at the 70's, the 80's, the 90's, and the 00's at least to a degree. But we haven't talked about the 60's yet, much.

A lot, a whole inescapable lot, has been written about the 60's, both historically and musically. Hyperbole flies like beer bottles; a lot of people alive at the time (including musicians) stake their entire lives on what was 'achieved' in the 1960's.

They'll tell you that it's when things mattered; as if the present and future were merely incidental. They'll tell you people were active back then, unlike kids today, particularly that ne'er-do-well bad seed, Generation X. They'll tell you that people were creative and free then, not uptight and boring like they are now.

They'll truck out a roster of names: The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Who, Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Rolling Stones. They'll offer this as proof that nothing ever happened in music since Nixon was re-elected.

The Doors: The Doors (1967)  James Brown: It's A Man's Man's Man's World (1966)   The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground And Nico (1967)  Jefferson Airplane: Crown Of Creation (1968)

No, they'll never grow up. And if they aren't listening to Death in Vegas or Spiritualized yet, and few of them are, I suspect they never will. Classic Rock radio suits them just fine; if it means listening to All Along The Watchtower for the 9000th time, then that's what they'll listen to.

Alas, they do the 60's no service, musically or historically, when they cast it in such a groovy light. Because in their musical conservatism they overlook what made the 60's a real raw, exciting, creative, and heavy musical era in ways that transcend time, that really can be heard in the music, even 40 years later.

Which was partly the shock of the new: advancing technology that made sonic exploration feasible in the first place. Part of it was life during wartime, which lends the artifacts of the era a new commonality to our day and age. Part of it was ignorance on the part of the recording industry, who were squares after all; they didn't quite get why the kids went wild over a bunch of fuzzy wuzzies like the Dead, but if they did, they'd give the bands the benefit of the doubt, and give them freedoms they never do now.

I always thought the biggest reason why those 60's bands cast such a long shadow was because in those days, you only had an AM transistor and the Ed Sullivan Show to let you know what was happening out there. Everybody who liked rock liked the Beatles and the Stones; not a whole lot of them were ever exposed to the Seeds or Moby Grape even at the time; there was no music press, no internet, no FM radio, no MTV, no satellite.

The United States of America: The United States of America (1968) Bob Dylan: Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964) Moby Grape: Moby Grape (1967) Neil Young: Neil Young (1969)


The Baby Boom lived in a mass-culture America, at least until the hippies went underground. Gen X lives in a fragmented time.

Rock music, pop music, and all music wouldn't exist as we know it without the changes and experimentation the 60's brought. And the best of the 60's bands, like the best from any era, truly are important for their legacy and contribution to music's development.

But don't let an old timer ever convince you that the 60's were in any way better than any other era, like they are often prone to do. If they do, start throwing names like Saggitarius, the Neon Philharmonic, Freddy and the Dreamers, and Gary Lewis and the Playboys back in their face. They may not get the references, but you'll have made the point.

All decades are created equal.

Much more on the 60's in the weeks to come, but for now, let's take a nice, broad overview.

Tonight's auto-generated random playlist will be taken from titles with date tags 1964-1970. I choose 1964 as my starting point because a lot of the Baby Boom does; it's the year the Beatles arrived in America, the year following Kennedy's assassination, and the last year babies were born as "Baby Boomers". From a pool of 4776 titles.

No genre or other filters; let's see what comes up, good stuff and junk.

(From an auto-generated playlist, first ten titles selected are profiled, Jam tags, 1-5 stars follow):

1. Jefferson Airplane: White Rabbit (Live at the Monterey Pop Festival, 1967) *****
Jefferson Airplane: Jefferson Airplane Loves You [Box](1992)
"White Rabbit" is the classic Alice in Wonderland on LSD trademark song with a bolero rhythm, here done live at Monterey. Grace Slick earned her reputation as first lady of rock with this tune, one she had done earlier with the Great Society. The live version bears her reputation up. It's sad that Jefferson Starship was such a crappy band, because it misleads people about the Airplane, one of my five favorite bands of any era.

2. Procol Harum: Conquistador (original recording) ****
Procol Harum: Procol Harum (1967)
Best known for their unusual blues/classical hybrid, England's Procol Harum scored biggest with "A Whiter Shade Of Pale". Conquistador was their second biggest, in re-recorded form, in 1972. This original version from their 1967 debut has a lighter production than the arguably superior later version.

3. The Yardbirds: Stroll On *****
The Yardbirds: Having a Rave Up (1965)
From the Jeff Beck version of the band, after Clapton left and before Jimmy Page came in. This song was featured in Michelangelo Antonioni's classic study of sensory reality, Blow Up, and is essentially the same song as the more well-known blues Train Kept A Rollin', with new lyrics. The playing definitely lives up to the album title, with frenetic guitars and frantic energy and sloppiness that sounds great, 40 years later.

4. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young: Everybody I Love You **** Crosby Stills and Nash: Deja Vu (1970)

For better and worse, you cant get much hippier than CSNY. This is an album cut tucked at the end of their best LP, Deja Vu, and benefits from some stellar guitar from Neil Young and Stephen Stills, a burbling, bouncing bassline and the trademark harmonies and love generation lyrics. One of their best cuts, better than some of their hits.

5. Led Zeppelin: What Is And What Should Never Be *****
Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin II (1969)
Rolling Stone mercilessly panned these guys for three albums, while championing James Taylor. Meanwhile, the strengths of this band (and this song, one of their classics) was obvious to Teen Planet at the time. The guitar wallops and crunches, Plant's voice sometimes almost taking on the harmonics of a guitar itself, Bonham's prehistoric tub-thumbing beat.

6. The Rolling Stones: High Heeled Sneakers (studio outtake) ****
No Album Cover Available
Unreleased. Very sober, straightforward mid-sixties run through of the familiar early rock n roll title. Nice harp, respectful playing. Would have fit in on any of the band's earlier albums, but missing a certain spark to the performance. Brian Jones was still functional at this time, and his playing is bluesy and rocking, just what he was born to play.

7. Sandie Shaw: (There's) Always Something There To Remind Me ***
Sandie Shaw: The Collection (1990)
Burt Bacharach-penned ditty, more well known for Naked Eyes' early 80's synth-pop version. No synthesisers here in this 1966 version; almost a Motown-esque arrangement for the British Shaw, who was a poorman's Dusty Springfield. Horns, strings, wall-of-sound knockoff production. Worth it if you're a sucker for these kind of tunes, or a collector. Better than Naked Eyes. Keep an eye out for Shaw's once super-rare version of Led Zep's "Your Time Is Gonna Come" I've seen it circulating on p2p very recently. Wonder what Dusty could have done with that one.

8. Iron Butterfly: Most Anything You Want ***
Iron Butterfly: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (1968)
Iron Butterfly will forever be known for one single cut; the gargantuan 17-minute acid-rock beads 'n' incense workout "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida". This is another cut from the same album, displaying the same heavy doodling organ and psychedelic guitar, but a much poppier vocal and structure. Fairly catchy in its own way, but there's no escaping how badly the production has aged. Recommended to acid-rock diehards and 60's schlock-pop fans.

9. Poco: Short Changed ***
Poco: Pickin' Up The Pieces (1969)
Poco were among the first country-rock bands to emerge in the wake of the Byrds genre-defining Sweetheart of the Rodeo LP the previous year. Poco was never as good as the Byrds, or the Eagles, who muscled in on their racket a few years later. Still, their debut LP is one of the better 60's entries to the genre, and this one sounds like Crosby Stills and Nash minus Neil Young. A little lame in the lyric department, but the chorus is a big gigantic hook.

10. The Small Faces: I Can't Dance With You ****
The Small faces: Anthology 1965-1967
If you've never listened to the Small Faces, you missed a very important chapter in 60's rock history. The Small Faces were mods, in a similar vein as The Who and very nearly their equals. Like The Who, the Small Faces (so named because the tallest was 5'8") specialized in gritty guitar dance stompers, of which this cut is one. Steve Marriott went on to front Humble Pie; the others evolved into the Faces, with Rod Stewart as their new frontman.

We're not done with the 60's by any stretch of the imagination, but we had to begin somewhere. We'll start exploring the genres together soon.