Tag: rock music

And now we’re stuck with him: Charlie Watts, Keith Richards, and The Jazzy Soul of Rock and Roll

 

Even for a band that has suffered more ups and downs than ten others combined in its 59 years, this has been an exceptionally difficult few days for The Rolling Stones, maybe the most difficult. On Tuesday, their drummer, Charlie Watts, passed away at the age of 80. There has been an outpouring of tributes for him, and support for his bandmates and family, and doubtless, there will continue to be scads of well-deserved writing dedicated to his abilities, offbeat personality, and place in music history. I’d like to do something a little different here. One of the rarest and most precious things in music is an enduring partnership, particularly one where the participants like each other as much as the notes they play five or fifty years on. Keith Richards and Charlie Watts, two men who couldn’t appear more opposite, had that, and made the world a better, more swinging place with it. 

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ДДТ/DDT is a musical institution in Russia and the former Soviet Union, perhaps second only to Кино/Kino in international fame as a outstanding representation of the Russian language rock scene. New bands and fads (and political regimes), have come and gone, but DDT remains, and has chronicled the last 40 years of Soviet/Russian history with […]

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In Korea, if you live in apartment, you can’t blast music through speakers. And, if you’re on the go all the time, you’ll be listening either through earbuds, or, like me, you’ll look like a mental patient with cartoonishly big over-the-ear headphones. But having music delivered this way has its benefits. Korea is a NOISY […]

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What If The Beatles Didn’t Break Up? Imagining Their ‘Next’ Album

 

One of the most entertaining hypotheticals for Beatles’ fans to discuss is what the Beatles would have sounded like or recorded if they had stayed together after the release of Let It Be.* In a sense, this is an even more fruitless counterfactual than another popular one: What songs would have been on The White Album if it hadn’t been a double album (which I have already covered). Unlike the case of that what-if, the songs the Beatles would have done together were never released as Beatles songs. And to imagine the Beatles staying together after 1970 is to wish away the centrifugal forces that had by that point already largely torn the four musical titans at the band’s center apart.**

But Beatles’ fans such as myself speculate nonetheless, aided by morsels such as collaborations between members after the break-up (most notably in the almost-Beatles song “I’m the Greatest!”), and demos of songs that later became solo work but were conceived or sometimes even recorded while the Beatles were still together (e.g., much of George Harrison’s first post-Beatle solo album, All Things Must Pass).

Recently, news has emerged that whets this speculative appetite even more. In a September 8 story in The Guardian, Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn revealed the contents of a heretofore undiscovered tape from almost exactly 50 years ago, in which the Beatles (sans an unwell Ringo Starr, for whom the recording was made) discussed their future plans. This despite the fact that, as Lewisohn points out, the Beatles had, at that time, already wrapped production on Abbey Road, which would be their last recorded album (though not the last released). And yet, on the tape, the three discuss plans to get a single ready for a Christmas release…to promote their next album! Learning this, I again returned to my own idle speculations, a cold comfort I create for myself in a world in which the Beatles did, in fact, break up. And so, in the Yesterday-esque spirit of Beatles hypotheticals, here is my attempt to imagine what the “next” Beatles album, which I have called Inward and Outward, would have looked like:

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If you are around, or below, the half-century mark, then “Ice Cream Man” likely calls to mind David Lee Roth at his most outrageous, over-the-top hair and spandex rock stardom. The live performances cannot be linked, for language strewn around the introductions, but here is the studio version, with all its California rocker swagger: Now […]

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Jeff Lynne’s ELO Recaptures (Most of) ELO’s Peak 70s ‘Strange Magic’

 

ELO bros.

On Tuesday, July 9, I was in a panic. A non-D.C. friend of mine texted me asking if I would be going to the ELO concert in two days (well, technically, the Jeff Lynne’s ELO concert; more on that in a bit).

Although I am a Millennial (with a podcast!), and ELO’s critical and commercial peak came when my parents were in high school (though their greatest hits, like “Mr. Blue Sky” and “Evil Woman” have had a long cultural shelf life), I nonetheless have long been a huge fan of this Beatlesque symphonic pop-rock group. I have written about ELO’s output at Ricochet and even got to discuss it for two hours on an episode of National Review’s excellent Political Beats podcast.

‘Yesterday’: A Cute Beatles Fairy Tale You Shouldn’t Think Too Much About

 

Yesterday is really two movies, one better than the other.

The better movie in Yesterday, the latest by director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), with a script by Richard Curtis (Love Actually), is a light, cute, modern fairy tale that assumes one’s love of the Beatles* (yes, this movie could not get more British). It presents a simple yet striking what-if: Jack** Malik (Himesh Patel), a struggling, mediocre musician, suddenly enters a world that resembles our own in (almost) every way but one: Only he remembers The Beatles.*** Through a series of convenient but credibly implausible circumstances, he then rides this newfound knowledge to astronomical success, doling out hit after hit seemingly from divine inspiration to all around him, while only he (?) knows the truth.

Yesterday hits all the classic beats of the rise-to-fame morality tale. Success soon forces Jack to abandon his friends and family in England. Most important of all these to him is Ellie Appleton (Lily James), a teacher, his part-time manager while he was still playing at bars and empty tents at music festivals, and–much to his dismay–not quite his love interest. Meanwhile, he struggles to maintain his integrity against the wages of commercialism in the music industry, embodied with enthusiastic cynicism by Kate McKinnon, playing a cutthroat record executive. 

The Boomers Won Again with Electric Light Orchestra

 

One of the running themes of Young Americans, my Ricochet podcast, is the stubborn half-life of Baby Boomer pop culture. The movies, TV, music, etc., that were popular when the Baby Boom generation was growing up, and the pop culture they created, still seem dominant even as that generation ages into retirement. Star Wars movies still clean up in theaters. Bruce Springsteen tours sell out. Hawaii Five-O gets a TV remake. Et cetera.

Ordinarily, it is my job as a 25-year-old host of a podcast of young people to resent this fact. I bristle beneath the bridle of the Baby Boomers, who refuse to relinquish their stranglehold on pop culture. And I call on younger generations to start creating their own pop culture to liberate us from the Boomer reign.

Yeah, this is what I’m supposed to do. But I’ve got to hand it to you Boomers: You made some good stuff. And so, when I recently appeared on Political Beats, a National Review podcast that performs deep dives on the favorite bands of political personalities (which is what I guess I am now…), I chose Electric Light Orchestra.

Revisiting (and Revising?) The White Album on Its 50th Anniversary

 

Last Thursday was the 50th anniversary of The Beatles, a.k.a., The White Album, The Beatles’ sprawling 1968 double-LP. I took the occasion to record a podcast on The Beatles’ musical legacy, which you can listen to here.

In the course of that podcast, I made the case for The Beatles’ greatness, even though they are most decidedly a product of the Baby Boomer culture that refuses to relinquish its death grip on us all. But I don’t think they’re entirely beyond criticism, though I wouldn’t dare make it on my own meager authority. Which is why I here invoke George Martin, who made so much of The Beatles’ music possible (as I explained here), and who believed that The White Album should have been just one album and not a double LP.

Sin Bin

 

The other evening, I approached an intersection as the light turned red. A white Dodge Ram 1500 custom van in the right lane caught my eye. As we slowed, I picked up on the silver and blue-gray swirling details air-brushed along the side, below the passenger rows windows. Instantly, “sin bin” popped into my head, along with memories of road-tripping, to a Lou Reed concert in Munich, Germany.

If “sin bin” does not have meaning to you, consider the following:https://i.pinimg.com/736x/90/07/be/9007be091d3b271558584924b60ec3a5--chevy-vans-custom-vans.jpg

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I listen to rock radio a lot lately. Some of the songs sound pretty cheesy, good but cheesy. I compiled several I think fit the category of cheesy rock songs. Some have corny lyrics; others just feel cheesy because they’re being played over and over. Van Halen “Jump” Preview Open

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Cambodian Popular Music

 

I recently introduced Cambodian popular music to a few friends. One thought the Khmer language sounded odd but the songs sounded interesting, and the other two thought it was okay. So I thought I should do the same to my fellow Ricochet members.

From the late 1940s to 1975, Cambodia had a pretty thriving pop music scene. Our pop music is influenced by our traditional and folk music as well as French, English, and Japanese Enka. Cambodian popular music consists of pop, rock, and dance songs. Dance songs are based on several of our folk tunes. We sing and dance to these folk-based pop songs on New Year Days and at wedding receptions. All songs are pre-1975, and since all songs are pre-1975, the majority of the artists are dead.

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So I was just about to write a post about how my feelings about Ted/ Donald/Marco/Jeb!/Hillary!/Bernie are best expressed by Billy Idol in his song White Wedding but since it’s a nice day to start again, I realized, “hey, when was the last time we talked about the best heavy guitar riffs?“. What are your […]

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. . . an earthshaking revelation and the critical role played by Larry Graham and Arthur C Clarke While doing some research on Larry Graham, bassist for Sly & The Family Stone, regarding his innovative “slap-pop”* style of playing on a pop single (listen to Thank You (Falenttinme Be Mice Elf Agin)), I stumbled across […]

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Most of this is something I posted on my blog a couple of years ago and I think rather fitting for Thanksgiving. It started when I came across an article First Things on the rock composer and performer, Warren Zevon.  First Things is a rather high brow religious magazine (mostly traditional Christian and to my […]

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I never thought I would be a metalhead.  Wasn’t heavy metal a bunch of growling about the devil and Nazis?  I like being able to hear what the vocalist is singing about.  Then I heard a friend play some intense rock music, and asked what it was… Heavy metal is a genre that has almost […]

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If not for “Sweet Home Alabama”, Alabama probably wouldn’t be a name recognized throughout the world. Lynyrd Skynyrd might be a high point of the genre, but Southern rock didn’t end in the ’70s. During the late 80s and early 90s, several bands from around the country fused Southern sounds with the hard rock, heavy […]

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The Newbury Park Sound

 
The Neighbourhood

The Neighbourhood.

It’s been said that most of us stop listening to new music — especially by new bands — when we turn 25.  And by the time we’re 40 we are hopelessly behind the Zeitgeist when it comes to the Latest Thing. So, how about a quick tutorial to make you cool with your kids on one of the hottest new sounds on the pop charts —  courtesy of my son, Tad?