ROCK HISTORY : FROM R&B TO ROCK N ROLL – ESSENTIAL SONGS

Rhythm & Blues is the bedrock of much of modern rock and pop music. Basically R&B is a genre of popular African-American music that originated in the 1940s. The term was coined in the post-war years to replace “Race Music”, meaning – “a catchall term referring to any music that was made by and for black Americans”.

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ROCK HISTORY: ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG

2016 will forever be notorious for the number of celebrity deaths that occured during its 12 months.  We are not of the view that there is anything too distinctive about the number of deaths this year, except to opine that this seeming increase in celebrity deaths may be down to a function of age and perhaps drug/alcohol abuse – though that does not quite explain Keith Richards’ remarkable longevity. We want to take this time to look back in rock history and remember the musicians who died much too young – before even turning 30 (the end of youth perhaps).

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ROCK HISTORY: IF NINETIES ROCK WAS SIXTIES POP

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In our humble opinion, the Nineties represented perhaps the final great rock decade before being utterly overwhelmed by hip-hop music as the defining modern cultural zeitgeist. But what is interesting to note is that in many ways, much of the rock music made in the Nineties reflected nostalgically the pop music of the Sixties. Here are some examples for your consideration.

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ROCK HISTORY: FROM SEVENTIES PROG TO EIGHTIES POP

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Punk. 1977. Ground zero.

The torn t-shirts, the spiky coloured short hair, the spitting and most of all the back-to-basics retro-pop caused a seismic shift in musical tastes and styles that was not fully felt till the early 80s. US bands like The Stooges and New York Dolls paved the way ultimately for British punks like The Sex Pistols, The Clash and the Damned. In the wake of punk, a new approach to pop-rock (variously labelled ‘post-punk’ or ‘new wave’) emerged making superstars of the likes of Blondie, The Cars, The Police et al.

But what about the 70s prog rockers? Well, they had to adapt to stay relevant. Here are examples of 80s pop songs made by progressive rockers.

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PoP ROCKS! AN INTRODUCTION

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Once upon a time, pop and rock came together and made a baby, and its name was Pop-Rock. Very strictly speaking, Pop-Rock is a fusion genre that mixes a catchy pop style and light lyrics in its (typically) guitar-based rock songs. Other genres that bear similar traits would be Powerpop, Melodic Rock, Soft Rock, Jangle Pop, Glam Rock, New Wave, Indie Pop and of course, Rock ’n’ Roll.

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7 AND 7 IS: WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING TO R.E.M.

R.E.M.

Yet another new feature at the bi-polar webzine, “7 and 7 is” in honour of Love’s seminal proto-punk masterpiece. Basically seven reasons why you should be listening to a band/artist that I am intent on recommending to you, dear reader. Well, actually seven of my favourite tracks of that particular band/artist – you get the general idea. This week: R.E.M.

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ROCK HISTORY: SIMPLE MINDS – ONCE UPON A TIME (1985)

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Simple Minds (viz. Jim Kerr – vocals/Charlie Burchill – guitar/Michael MacNeil – piano, synthesizer/Mel Gaynor – drums, vocals/John Giblin – bass) formed in 1977 in the wake of punk & would establish themselves in the UK as a prominent art-rock outfit, highly influenced by David Bowie (their name came was lifted from “Jean Genie”) & Roxy Music.

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ROCK HISTORY: LOVE – REEL TO REAL (1974)

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The late Arthur Lee and Love (the band Lee led & fronted) remains one of the most under-rated bands from the 60s/70s. Well, at least compared to their peers. Already well-documented is the fact that the likes of Jim Morrison (The Doors), Jimi Hendrix and Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) were massive fans of this ground-breaking iconoclastic band. Certainly, the backward gazing bands of the 90s British indie scene owed a thing or two to Love.

One of the most freewheeling eclectic 60s bands, Love (which also included guitarist-songwriter Bryan Maclean, lead guitarist Johnny Echols, bassist Ken Forssi & drummer Michael Stuart) were never constrained by genres or styles and dabbled in folk, baroque pop, psychedelia, acid rock and even proto-punk (check out “7 and 7 Is” is below).

Not only that but the band can lay claim to producing one of the bona fide rock masterpieces of all time – the magnificent Love Changes.

However, due to drug problems and internal disagreements, the band’s commercial success dissipated in the late 60s, with Lee fronting a new set of musicians, but this incarnation of Love never garnered the widespread acceptance or acclaim of the original group.

Reel to Real was Love’s final official album and until now, has never been issued on CD! By the recording and release of this album, Love was essentially Lee with an assortment of session musicians but despite its marginalisation in rock history, deserves serious re-examination.

Not least for its daring coverage of a multitude of styles, despite its primary focus being on soul, R&B and blues-rock, one could imagine the young Prince, Lenny Kravitz or Terence Trent D’Arby listening to Reel to Real and copping one or two musical ideas.

Whilst modern pop fans would probably find themselves grooving to soulful gems like “Time is Like a River” and “Stop the Music”, alternative rockers might take a shine to off-beat numbers like “Singing Cowboy” and “You Said You Would”, which sound like Hendrix channeling Buck Owens! And that last song – “Everybody’s Gotta Live” – is the Lennonesque anthem Noel Gallagher wished he was smart enough to rip off!

The new reissue has rather illuminating outtakes which on occasion outshine the original tracks with their spontaneity and raw energy. There’s also a sloppy studio rehearsal of that classic Forever Changes outtake “Wonder People” for all your Love completists out there.

A hidden treasure re-discovered. Essential!

Buy now!