Drew and I have been busy prepping for our show, but in the course of doing that we had a great email conversation this week, along with Cory, about the development of rock & roll; highlights below.
I was listening to Roxy Music last night, and got to thinking about how weird it was that the album (Stranded) came out in 1973, just four years after Woodstock, and how totally different the music sounded. That sent me on a quest through my iTunes library to try and identify where my dividing line is between Hendrix and late-period Beatles on one hand, and clearly 70s stuff like mid-period Bowie, Roxy Music, Sabbath, etc. on the other. I’m a nerd for the genre tag, so I ended up with three genres for rock:
- “Rock & Roll,” which is everything up through about Rubber Soul: early Beatles, Buddy Holly, rockabilly stuff, etc.
- “Rock 66-71,” late Beatles, Hendrix, early Zep
- “Rock,” some stuff from ’71 and everything ’72 and after, until punk/alternative/indie start splitting off in the later ’70s. (I start punk with the first Ramones record, indie with the first R.E.M. record, and… I can’t remember what the earliest thing I labeled “alternative” is. I use “alternative” with a wide scope meaning anything post-punk that isn’t twee at all, but isn’t metal (defined broadly) either.)
What do you think? -h
Sounds good I s’pose. How are you handling metal? How do you categorize Blue Cheer and early Sabbath? How does the Kinks’ trajectory compare to the ’71/’72 line that you have drawn? I wanna say Lola came out around that time. Right after Arthur? I think there’s a noticeable difference between those two records.
How about the Stones? Ruby Tuesday single was released in January ’67, so I guess I’ll give you that one on the ’66 dividing line. After that they got more psychedelic, til Beggars Banquet. Exile on Main St. came out in ’72. Not sure where that one falls. Not exactly late sixties British rock, not exactly distinctly 70s. Just really bluesy and American sounding IMO.
It sounds like England is defining most of this. Probably justified, but consider the American artists of those periods. I don’t even know where to start there. I only listen to the English bands. I don’t know precisely when Fleetwood Mac started sucking. They were really good for a while, til that coke freak bitch got involved.
For now, I have metal starting with Sabbath’s first. Not quite sure how to handle Zep… for now, I have them split between the Rock 66-71 and Rock genres; I-III in the earlier, IV on in the later. They could almost be metal instead (like I said, I cast a really wide net for “metal”).
(I should state for the record that my whole purpose, here, is to use the “Genre” field to organize music into sets that sound good together on shuffle. Nothing more; it’s just interesting to me how fast music was changing.)
The Kinks are going to cross all three genres! On the later side, I’d put “Muswell Hilbillies” with the 66-71 golden age stuff, probably. Stones are goona cross all three, too. On the later side, you just have to decide where “Sticky Fingers” (’71) belongs.
(OH! Cory! I heard The Association’s “Never My Love” on Bones last night!)
I don’t have any early Fleetwood Mac, so I’m spared that decision for the moment… -h
I’m not saying that those artists shouldn’t cross periods. I’m saying that their respective catalogs should influence your historical dividing lines. I don’t know that they all coincide with each other. For a while, the Beatles and the Stones did, because they were directly competing with each other.
I’ll bet that your theory holds up pretty well, with a tolerance of plus/minus 9 months.
WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT
Drew has a salient point about the drugs!
I love classic rock and classic metal and all sorts of stuff but I am the SHITTIEST music historian, as in I have no idea when shit came out or which songs were on which records. I listen to them, I am just way too much of a lazy space-case to pay attention to any of it. So I can’t help you out in that dept! Buuuut, intuitively, I can definitely see the time-period dividing lines totally making sense! I especially completely agree with the dividing line between early/late Beatles. It seems pretty stark to me, and I think Rubber Soul is the obvious cut-off record. It hints at what’s to come with “Michelle” and a few others, but the other songs are kind of cheesy in that old Beatles way: “What goes oooooooon, in your heart! I don’t give a fuck, Ringo!”
I think the most interesting part of all of this is honing in on that 9-month period that Drew mentioned, and try and figure out what was going on in America/England at the time that the music revolved around. Maybe not even anything big like the Kennedy assassinations or the Civil Rights stuff or whatever, but even just kind of big news stories or controversies.
I do think Rubber Soul/Pet Sounds/Odessey and Oracle are cool records that sort of represent the switch from old classic rock to weirdo psychedelic sorta fucked up classic rock. I guess those are all about ’68 right? Who knows! ‘Nam!
I fucking LOVE later cheesy Fleetwood Mac! I listen to “Everywhere” at least once a week, probably. That period does just sound like Stevie Nicks doing coke off of a tambourine, though.
I understand why people like Stevie Nicks. But I think that the Peter Green era is so much awesomer. Totally different kind of music, I guess.
Shit I forgot about the Beach Boys.
Yeah, Peter Green FM and Stevie Nicks FM are two different bands, in my opinion. The Peter Green stuff is more like classic rock, and the Stevie Nicks music is just like… Prom Night Blow-Doing/Getting music. It’s so glittery, it just sounds like a unicorn fucking a snare drum.
The Beach Boys are fucking weird. Not just because they’re completely different from every other band, but because of how creepy/out-there the music got in a short amount of time. Songs like “Fun, Fun, Fun” and “Surf on my Dick” sort of make me want to shoot myself, but then “God Only Knows” and “Don’t Talk” and “Good Vibrations” and “Heroes and Villains” are way more complex and moody and stuff. And THEN, you have “Kokomo” from the 80s, which is a completely different thing altogether!
Come to think of it, “Fun, Fun, Fun” then “God Only Knows” then “Kokomo” sort of represents the three time-periods themselves. “Kokomo” fits right in with Roxy Music!
Seriously, playing “Barbara Ann” in the middle school band sorta made me resent the Beach Boys to the point where I got into them way too late.
Finally, Mars Lights should do a song called “Coke Homo,” pronounced like “Kokomo.”
Lots of points I want to pick up… but real quick, I remembered a band that isn’t sliding easily into my paradigm; the MC5. Formed in ’64, released “Kick Out The Jams” in ’69, which seems so early!
I don’t have much Iggy/Stooges, but without looking at their discography, I think they might present the same issues. -h
I figured the Stooges would actually fit pretty neatly into the pre-’71 rock sound. I know they’re “punk” and everything… They had all the hallmarks of the rock bands of that time, they just were technically not great musicians and didn’t give a fuck.
MC5 is like Stooges, but with face melting chops.
My “I only listen to the British bands” statement is pretty wrong, I guess. Stooges are my favorite band of that era. I always kinda considered them to be in an alternate universe. However, for these purposes, I would put them into the ’66-’71 group. Raw Power came out in ’73, though that was a different lineup. The record was under “Iggy and the Stooges” and Ron Asheton played bass, while James Williamson played guitar. It fits into that mid-late 70s punk wave in my opinion, but was several years sooner. Kind of a different band.
Let me emphasize that I DON’T REALLY KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT. But I like the Stooges a lot and that’s how I’d handle it.
Also, if you look up some of Iggy’s mid 70s performances on Youtube, then they bare a lot of resemblance to the Raw Power album. There’s a really awesome performance of “Sixteen” somewhere out there. That was on an album he did w/ Bowie, but it’s performed like Raw Power Stooges. Raw Power is pretty different from Funhouse and the S/T album.
Also, Velvet Underground. Not really psychedelic. Pretty damn punk. Then John Cale left and they suddenly fit more cleanly into some kind of 1970s pop rock genre. Loaded is pretty classic rock. White Light/White Heat sounds like no wave compared to everything else from that period.
There were other weirdo bands around that time. One’s on the tip of my tongue, but can’t remember. Also, I wanna say that some German bands were getting super krauty as early as 69. Amon Duul 2, Neu, Can… I know some of that stuff came out before 71.
I forgot about VU! I have “VU and Nico,” which came out in 67, which is weird because of how completely weird it is. T-Rex is kind of an interesting band too, since they were like 67-77, spanning that weird time-frame!
Drew, is one of those weird bands 13th Floor Elevators? I’ve hardly heard them, I have just seen them mentioned before… Big Star is a pretty cool representation of the 71/71-on rock genre!
T Rex is a bit of a wildcard… though I think if you look at the discography there was a bit of a change around ’71, when Electric Warrior came out. Slider came out in 72 or 73. The weirdo band I was thinking of is The Monks. 13th Floor Elevators fit into the 67-71 psychedelic period, though they had a pretty awesome R&B backbone.
Yeah Big Star totally represents my mental image of the 70s.
I thought there’d be a stronger argument for the MC5’s and Stooges’ music belonging with the post-’71 group due to their sounds, in spite of their release dates…
Let me reiterate that my starting point was listening to Roxy Music from ’73 and thinking how different it felt from Hendrix or the Beatles from ’69; from there I looked at what was in my library and thought about how I felt about it, ’66 and ’71 emerged as the borderline years to my ears. If I hear Buddy Holly and Sgt. Pepper or Sticky Fingers in the same shuffle, that seems off to me. Likewise Hendrix and, oh, mid-period Fleetwood Mac or Boston or Roxy seems weird together.
I am woefully ignorant of MC5 and Stooges: I have heard Funhouse exactly once, and I’ve heard some MC5, buuuut, yeah, I don’t really know much about them. wah wah waaaaaaaaaaah
I think of the Stooges and MC5 as “late 60’s/early 70s guitar rock, kinda weird but not weird enough to actually not be called rock.” It’s rock n roll music, proto punk, whatever. It’s not the Ramones, or even the Iggy and the Stooges Raw Power album.
Also, I think it’s kinda weird that Stooges and MC5 are always thought of as being out of place in their time period. Their music was an honest reaction to what was going on in their lives, in their late teens/early 20s in Detroit. Can’t they be a natural, though somewhat enigmatic extension of their era? Also, they kinda had a “scene” of their own. Granted, people hated the Stooges and threw shit at them on stage, but they weren’t exactly in a vacuum. Just a counter-argument.
Which MC5 record should I listen to if I listen to one?
Also, this is completely unrelated, but I look at it every year:
Pass the gravy!
KICK OUT THE JAMZ MUTHAFUCKAZ
So what should I call the genres? I’ve got “Rock & Roll” for the first one, and “Rock” for one of the other two… but the third?