Sunday, March 29, 2009

'Let It Be' by The Beatles - The End of a Legendary Band

Cover of "Let It Be"Cover of Let It Be

The Beatles' 'Let it Be' Caps a Career by Vince P Platania

The Beatles 'Let It Be' is a song which has come to define not only the melodic uplifting style of Paul McCartney but also to encapsulate the emotions surrounding the breakup of the Beatles as a band.

'Let It Be' was included on the album of the same name, and released in 1970. It was produced by Phil Spector, the famous originator of the 'Wall of Sound' that had dominated the girl group style in the early part of the 1960's. Centering around a barebones piano arrangement onto which layers were gradually added, the end of the track gave listeners the impression that they had borne auditory witness to a great spiritual transformation. As some critics put it, 'Let It Be' was McCartney's greatest hour in terms of imparting his fans with the feeling of sharing in some mystic knowledge buried deep in the words and lyrics of the song.

The song was written during the recording sessions for an album that was originally titled 'Get Back', but the group was quite dissatisfied with the results of the recording and mixing sessions, and even after extensive re-working, the album was put on the back burner for quite some time. In fact, the album 'Abbey Road' was the final Beatles album ever recorded, even though it was released before 'Let It Be'.

A documentary surrounding the making of this album was filmed, and it captures the tension that existed between the band members at this point in their careers. George Harrison actually tried to leave the group during the rehearsal sessions just prior to recording, and all band members were unhappy with the personal dynamics that existed in the group at the time. These feelings are foreshadowed by the poor performances initially captured while recording the Beatles 'Let It Be', and none of the group were ever happy with how the record turned out.

While the album itself might have been under a dark cloud, the single 'Let It Be' was able to shake the negativity and reach #1 in the US and #2 in England. McCartney claimed that his inspiration for the song came from a dream he had wherein his deceased mother visited him during the peak of the difficult album sessions. The song is often compared to other McCartney ballads like 'Hey Jude', although the theatrics of the 'Let It Be' arrangement were largely a function of Phil Spector's vision, and not McCartney's express wishes. is the mystical rehearsal studio for rockers DEMON TWEAK. Listen as they prepare for battle with the evil trickster Loki by playing home brewed classic rock direct from Ragnarok. Also read articles on your favorite classic rock band written by resident historian VIRGIL THE STORYTELLER.

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Marvin Gaye - Motown Icon of the 1960s

Marvin Gaye(Marvin Gaye via

Marvin Gaye - Enduring Legend by Robert D Hill

Marvin Gaye had one of the most recognizable voices in music history. Even thirty years after his death his voice is a fresh as the first day he signed to Motown Records in Detroit. His style and tone has made him an icon in rhythm and blues history and he is known as the quintessential example of cool. Gaye's three octave vocal range put him above his class of contemporaries at Motown and made him one of the most popular musicians of our time even this long after his death.

Marvin Gaye started out his career in a group called the Moonglows in the late 1950's. After deciding to go solo, Gay signed with Motown Records as a session drummer. Pretty soon his vocal talent earned him a recording contract and he became Motown's number one selling vocal artist. He was often called the Prince of Motown and the Prince of Soul. As a true artist, Gaye fought against the norm of the record industry's system of separating song writers from performers and began producing his own records as well as performing on them. This opened the door for other Motown legends like Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder.

There is probably just about no one living in the United States who doesn't know at least one of Marvin Gaye's hits. Heard it through the Grapevine, Let's Get It On, What's Going On and of course the monster hit Sexual Healing have been the backbone of R&B's success as a music genre in this country. He is also credited with being a progenitor of slow jams and urban adult contemporary genres. In the late seventies, Gaye lived in Europe coming back to the US in 1982 to release Sexual Healing on the album Midnight Love.

Unfortunately, Marvin Gaye was gunned down by his own father in 1984 making for a very premature end to his magnificent career. In 1987, Gaye was posthumously inducted into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. Marvin Gaye was a major influence on countless artists throughout the years he was making music and even after he died. He is put in a league with other titans of R&B like Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross and the Jackson 5. Motown wouldn't be what it is today if it wasn't for the smooth melodic sound of Marvin Gaye's voice. His legend will live on.

For the opportunity to shop for books, music, videos, apparel or for the opportunity to learn more about Marvin Gaye or Motown, check out You can also watch YouTube videos, view the latest Motown news and comment on our blog.

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Diana Ross - 1960s and 1970s Motown Legend

The Supremes(The Supremes via

Diana Ross - Truly the Boss by Robert D Hill

When Motown celebrates its 50th anniversary, one of the names that will be talked about as synonymous with the shaping of Motown history will be Diana Ross. Diana Ross is not just the singer of The Boss, she could figuratively be called one of the first bosses of Motown as far as the impact she had on the label. As the lead singer of The Supremes who started out as the Primettes, Ross hit the rhythm and blues scene with a power and force that can be felt right up until today.

With The Supremes, Diana Ross helped make Motown in the 1960's. They were arguably the top female group at the time and went far beyond what they ever dreamed of when they formed The Primettes in 1958. America loved Diana Ross and the Supremes and Motown loved the success they brought in. Indeed, this all female R&B group rivaled the Beatles in international popularity. This is a popularity which has always been attributed to Ross's incredible lead vocals. She was indeed the power behind the group's success. So much so that Motown's Berry Gordy decided to re-name the group Diana Ross & The Supremes.

Capitalizing on her success Diana Ross began her solo career towards the end of the '60's and began a whirlwind career of success as a solo artist. With the production team behind her of Ashford and Simpson, Diana Ross went on to become the most successful female singers in the rock genre.

She was one of the few female vocalists to successfully cross over into film winning a Golden Globe and garnering nominations throughout the 70's and 80's. Her hit The Boss has been covered by many prominent artists including Ashford and Simpson who wrote the song for Ross. In her career she has sold over 100 million records and was the first female artist to have six number one hits.

Diana Ross is a staple of American R&B success stories and was instrumental in helping spring Motown as a label onto the American Music scene. With The Supremes as well as her successful solo career, Ross has become a symbol of Motown and an icon of American music. Ms Ross has delivered over 5 decades of hits and has become a cultural behemoth to her fans as well as aspiring female musicians. Diana Ross is an American treasure and Motown is an American success story.

For the opportunity to shop for books, music, videos, apparel or for the opportunity to learn more about Diana Ross or Motown, check out You can also watch YouTube videos, view the latest Motown news and comment on our blog.

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Great Women of R&B Soul Music

Aretha Franklin (Aretha Franklin via

Great Women of R&B Soul Music by Tex Johnson

When you think of soul music, names such as Luther Vandross, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, and the like come up. But, come on, where would soul be without those women singers? Some of the biggest hits that brought R&B soul into the mainstream limelight, and stirred the biggest passions within the listeners, were from women. All women could relate to the troubled times of early soul female artists and the artists reflected these times from the Vietnam War to the struggles of women in the world.

The early blues singer paved the way for all later female vocalists. Numerous R&B female artists have made a strong impact in the music industry and set the stage for many more such as Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner.

Aretha Franklin

What piece on the Great Women of Soul Music would be complete without the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin? Aretha Franklin (born March 25th, 1942) began her R&B Soul path as a child singing gospel music in her childhood church. She was considered a child prodigy. The influence of the gospel music she grew up singing was undoubtedly a prime influence on her later soul music career.

Ms Franklin has 20 number one rhythm and blues hits to her name. She is known as one of the most honored by the Grammy Awards, as well as being the recipient of a Living Legends Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award. Aretha Franklin also belted out her sultry voice as recently as the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States of America - Barack Obama.

Tina Turner

Though she is known more recently as a soloist, Anna Marie Bullock (Tina Turner) is known as yet another great soul performer, along with her ex-husband Ike Turner. While still in high school, Bullock would go with her sister to area nightclubs and through much prodding by her sister, Bullock auditioned for Ike Turner and became a part of Turner's R&B soul band as an occasional vocalist with the Kings of Rhythm at his club. This was the stepping-stone for Bullock's career in R&B at the age of 18. Bullock went on to marry Ike Turner and changed her name to Tina Turner.

Her first opportunity in mainstream Soul music came in 1960 when the singer scheduled to sing "A Fool in Love", "It's Gonna Work Out Fine", "I Idolize You", and the groundbreaking "River Deep, Mountain High" didn't show for the recording. Young Tina was chosen to record it instead. However, her most memorable hit was a cover of CCR's "Proud Mary."

Some other fantastic female R&B soul singers are Chaka Khan, Patti Labelle, Whitney Houston, Anita Baker, Patti Austin, Barbara Mason, Martha and The Vandellas, Denise Williams, and so many more. Many of these strong female artists started from simpler and harder lives yet through it all, they overcame all obstacles, prevailing with grace, and known now as some of the best female rhythm and blues vocalist to date.

Tex Johnson runs the highly popular R&B and Rare Soul Grooves website featuring Soul Music TV. Want to watch FREE 24 hour Soul music Internet TV and receive 4 FREE Rare Soul CD Samplers? Then visit:

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R & B's Northern Soul

Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan album coverImage via Wikipedia

The R & B's Northern Soul by Tex Johnson

The term Northern Soul was termed by Dave Godin, a journalist for the "Blues and Soul" magazine back in 1968. Godin came up with the term when helping employee's stock music on the shelves of his record shop in London England.

As newer Rhythm and Blues (R&B) music was arriving, he wanted to be able to differentiate the smoother sounds of early R&B from the newer funkier sounds that was hitting the airwaves. The term northern soul now refers to the golden oldies of Rhythm and Blues that are played at many of the most popular nightclubs in the North.

Back in the 60's when most clubs where changing up their beats to the more modern genres of music, many Northern England nightclubs chose to keep the rare soul music beats. This has not slowed business down for these well-established clubs today, if anything it brought in more patrons then ever before. Patrons knew what they liked and did not feel the need to follow the fads of the time.

Northern Soul music played a huge role in the beginning of the DJ culture in England. The United States was filling up with R&B artists and England opened up a whole new venue for artists to not only collect on, but for some, to make it big in the music industry who wouldn't have had a chance otherwise in the States due to the huge amount of R&B artists already circulating. Artists like Tammi Lynn, The Fascinations, The Velvelettes, The Tams, and many others made top hits in the UK due to the love of Northern Soul.

So just who makes up the Northern Soul genre one may ask? The answer is simple yet vast, as thousands make up the Northern Soul genre. This genre includes top R&B artists to one hit wonders. Northern Soul music isn't a style, voice, musical instrument choice, or even topic of song, northern soul music is a feel, a beat, and the ability to dance to it. Some of the Northern Soul choices are very rare and even hard to come by today, others more popular, some had a slow groove beat while others have a upbeat tempo.

Remember Kool and the Gang, Bill Withers, or Gwen Guthrie; they all added to the Northern Soul movement in the northern parts of England as well as several hundreds to thousands more R&B artists. Names such as Randy Crawford, Bobby Womack, Gerald Levert, and even the O'Jays still play a part on the dance floors in nightclubs around the world. More current artists such as Kenny G, Whitney Houston, and Chaka Khan also play a large role of the northern soul genre. If the feet can be put to the beat of the Rhythm and Blues, more then likely it has become a part of the Northern Soul genre.

Tex Johnson runs the highly popular R&B and Rare Soul Grooves website featuring Soul Music TV. Want to watch FREE 24 hour Soul music Internet TV and receive 4 FREE Rare Soul CD Samplers? Then visit:

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R&B Soul Music Legends of the 1970s

Ray Charles(Ray Charles via

R&B Soul Music Legends by Tex Johnson

Some say that the only difference between the rhythm and blues (R&B) and gospel is with gospel you sing "Oh Lord," while with Rhythm and Blues soul music you sing "Oh Baby." Gospel music was the root beginnings of soul music however it is not merely the root that make R&B what it is today.

R& B soul music came to life as its own genre during the 50's. While its origins may have began around the northern cities of America like Chicago it wasn't long before other cities followed suit like Memphis, Detroit, New York, Florence, and Philadelphia.

Many artists throughout the years helped develop what is known as R&B soul music such as Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Barry White, Luther Vandrose, James Brown, and Issac Hayes to mention just a few.

Soul music origin's came from the influence of gospel music and the more traditional R&B sounds. The R&B soul sound of Memphis was more influenced by the gospel mix in cities like Memphis, than was the rhythm and blues soul of Detroit, which came up to become the smooth, polished sounds of Motown by artist such as Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, and Marvin Gaye.

If were to have to pick the top ten all time best R&B Soul artists one would be hard pressed to limit the list to ten. You could take into consideration the artists contributions to the music industry, however, most R&B artists have contributed in one fashion or another.

Early top soul artists would have to include Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Sam Cooke, and Elvis. Then as soul music took on a bit more groove to it and became known more by Motown/Soul in the late 60's and 70's you would have to add artists names such as Nina Simone, Jackie Wilson, Etta James, Ray Charles, Little Richard, and James Brown.

However, that leaves out a lot of influential R&B soul artists that have contributed so much to the still existing sound of rare soul music found in may of the more current soundtracks of today's artists like Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Al Green, Gladys Knight, Chaka Kahn, Brian McKnight, Kenny G, and R. Kelly. The list could go on forever, as I am sure many of you are aware. That is not even mentioning the soul artist groups that helped to keep the love alive. There is something about some good old rare soul music that will never leave you, and always have you wanting more.

Tex Johnson runs the highly popular R&B and Rare Soul Grooves website featuring Soul Music TV. Want to watch FREE 24 hour Soul music Internet TV and receive 4 FREE Rare Soul CD Samplers? Then visit

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Psychedelic Soul and Funk of the 1970s

Bootsy Collins(Bootsy Collins via

Funk, Soul and Rhythm and Blues by Tex Johnson

In 1970, a new strand of Rhythm and Blues (R&B) was hitting the airwaves, funk music. Rhythm and Blues artists like Little Richard, James Brown, Parliament Funkadelic, and the Meters helped to pave the way to R&B Funk topping record charts and filling nightclubs with a funky new beat.

Psychedelic soul hit the music industry in the late 60's giving the R&Bs a blend of rock and soul with that had an upbeat tempo that one could move their feet to on the dance floor. It was the crack that led to the opening to funk and disco a few years later.

Funk music could be classified as a mixture of soul music with a dash of jazz, and R&B, with a strong rhythmic groove built from the electric bass, drums, and the electric guitar. They often have a strong horn section as well where the sax added the soul and the trumpets and trombone accented the rhythmic beats.

When taking a trip down funk music memory lane you can't help think back to the 70's artists such as Rufus Feat, Chaka Khan, Earth, Wind & Fire, Eric Burdon & War, Tower of Power, Average White Band, The Commodores, and Kool & the Gang. The thing with funk music back in the 70's and still today is that no one band or artist was bound to just that one style of music. These same artists and many more also played other genres of music such as disco and rare soul music. Funk just opened the doors to new venues as well as new genres of music such as disco beats, hip hop, and go-go and punk music.

By the early 80's funk took on a bit more of a spin and became more sultry and sexual in content with the help of artists such as Prince. After all, the initial oncoming of funk was based from the idea of getting your groove on or sexual intercourse to be more direct. A song would start with a slow rhythmic groove working up to a harder, pounding, and more insistent and demanding rhythm.

The 80's also brought musical instrument changes to the traditional funk sounds with the exchange from live horn sections to synth keyboards. Organs and pianos were replaced with electronic machines and synthesizers as well. Even the drums were replaced by electronics taking a good part of the show out of funk today. Lyrics that used to be innuendos of sexual content have become straight out obvious sexual content.

The late 80's and early 90's brought funk into yet another light as rock bands started incorporating funk sounds to their venue calling it funk rock or funk metal. However through all the changes of Funk R&B influences that earlier performs such as James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, Curtis Mayfield, The Meters, The Funk Brothers, and Bootsy Collins still remain.

Tex Johnson runs the highly popular R&B and Rare Soul Grooves website featuring Soul Music TV. Want to watch FREE 24 hour Soul music Internet TV and receive 4 FREE Rare Soul CD Samplers?

Then visit:

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"Rock and Roll" by Led Zeppelin - An Iconic 1970s Track

Cover of "Led Zeppelin IV (aka ZOSO)"Cover of Led Zeppelin IV (aka ZOSO)

Led Zeppelin Rock and Roll in Tribute to Their Heroes by Vince P Platania

Led Zeppelin IV was a turning point for the band. The year was 1971, and the group realized that they were interested in penning more than straight ahead rock and roll songs and long, extended blues jams.

For some bands, this would have posed a problem, as there are sometimes songwriting elements in a group that are locked into a certain style and are unwilling to move in new directions. As a result of these 'creative differences', it was not, and is still not, uncommon for band members to leave and pursue their own artistic direction. Label pressure to keep on churning out the same old tried and true hits is also a heavy factor when a crossroads like this is reached.

Luckily, Led Zeppelin was far from a normal band. In fact, the group discovered that they were comfortable having multi-part rock epics share the same album side as blistering 12 bar blues rock. For Led Zeppelin Rock and Roll was their way of keeping in touch with their roots while at the same time stretching their branches to reach for the stars.

The genesis of the song lies in the simplicity of its title. While jamming in the studio, drummer John Bonham kept subjecting the band to the introductory cymbal and snare parts of the Little Richard song 'Good Golly Miss Molly'. This prompted guitarist Jimmy Page to retaliate by composing an accompaniment on the spot, and the riff for 'Rock and Roll' was born. The band liked the song so much that they immediately decided to record it and include it on the album.

The spontaneity of the song can definitely be felt while listening to it. The track breathes with a life of its own, and is the perfect second half of the one-two punch that opens the album, after the down and dirty blues workout of 'Black Dog'. The basic arrangement of the track belies the power of early rock and roll, and for Led Zeppelin Rock and Roll was a way for them to give new energy to the past creations of the musical pioneers that had brought them to their current career stage.

Recorded in 15 minutes, 'Rock and Roll' proves that sometimes the best music is that which does not suffer from agonizing second guessing and endless overdubs. Its position on the same album side as 'Stairway to Heaven' in no way diminishes the song's stature as one of classic rock's shining moments. is the mystical rehearsal studio for rockers DEMON TWEAK. Listen as they prepare for battle with the evil trickster Loki by playing home brewed classic rock direct from Ragnarok. Also read articles on your favorite classic rock band written by resident historian VIRGIL THE STORYTELLER.

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Hey Jude: Icon Song of the 1960s

“Hey Jude” coverImage via Wikipedia

The Beatles Hey Jude Strikes a Chord 40 Years Later by Vince P Platania

Most people are unfamiliar with the story of the origin of the Beatles Hey Jude. John Lennon, prior to his relationship with Yoko Ono, had been married to Cynthia Lennon. After meeting and having an affair with Yoko, John and Cynthia got divorced. Their son, Julian, was only 5 years old at the time, and Paul McCartney was concerned with how he would be able to deal with the sudden separation.

Having been close to the family, he went to visit the mother and son a few weeks after the divorce became final, and on the way there he began to compose a song that he thought might comfort Julian. Originally titled 'Hey Jules', the song touched Cynthia, who was surprised at how much McCartney cared for their welfare. Young Julian never made the connection that 'Jude' had originally been 'Jules', and didn't find out that the Beatles Hey Jude had been written for him until almost 20 years later.

Interestingly, John Lennon thought that the song had actually been written to comfort him! He heard a similarity between the name Jude and his own name, and given the circumstances he found himself in at that period in time, he asked McCartney if it was indeed supposed to be about him. McCartney, protective of Julian and Cynthia, merely told John that he was singing about himself.

'Hey Jude' was one of the most unlikely Beatles hits, due to the fact that it was quite long. In 1968, the year the song was released, radio was not accustomed to playing songs that lasted much longer than 3 minutes. Due to a very, very long sing-along style fadeout, the Beatles Hey Jude lasted more than 7 minutes. Upon initially hearing the record, some critics at the time felt that McCartney had written the song as a satire of using fadeouts to end a song, but in fact that was never the case. The outro included a 36 piece orchestra, and was painstakingly recorded according to McCartney's instructions.

The first release on the new Beatles-owned Apple records, 'Hey Jude' spent 2 weeks at number 1 in the UK but managed an astonishing 9 week reign at the top of the American charts. 'Hey Jude' held the distinction of being the longest number 1 single in British history until 1993, when it was usurped by Meat Loaf and his revival of the rock epic. is the mystical rehersal studio for rockers DEMON TWEAK. Listen as they prepare for battle with the evil trickster Loki by playing home brewed classic rock direct from Ragnarok. Also read articles on your favorite classic rock band written by resident historian VIRGIL THE STORYTELLER.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Beatles Yellow Submarine - A Psychedelic Icon?

Cover of "Yellow Submarine [Region 2]"Cover of Yellow Submarine [Region 2]

The Beatles Yellow Submarine Sets Sail For Psychedelia by Vince P Platania

Ringo Starr was never really given his due as a creative influence in The Beatles. While he was vastly overshadowed as a songwriter by the divine combination of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Starr was an extremely talented drummer who had shone in various bands around Liverpool before being asked to join the Beatles. Starr was one of the most popular Beatles amongst fans, and he sang on several tracks for the band, many of which could best be described as novelty songs. One of the most memorable of these is the Beatles Yellow Submarine.

Yellow Submarine was released on the album 'Revolver' in 1966. Revolver was somewhat of a turning point for the band, as it was a mix of the rock and roll and folk-oriented rock they had previously performed, along with the harder edged and somewhat strange psychedelic sound that would come to define their next few years' output. The album contained straight-ahead rockers, meticulously arranged string pieces, and fuzzed out sitar explorations, and was one of their strongest efforts to date.

The Beatles Yellow Submarine told the tale of a man who set out to live underneath the ocean, and it detailed the animals and people he encountered on his journey. The song is heavily laced with hallucinogenic imagery and overtones, and the theme of the track was loosely adopted 2 years later for the animated film 'Yellow Submarine' - produced at the height of the bands interest in mind-altering substances.

From the film, a soundtrack record was produced, as well as a 6-track EP called 'Yellow Submarine' which was more of a collection of previously-recorded odds and ends than a proper record. In fact, the second side of the record doesn't feature any Beatles songs at all, and is instead a showcase for the songwriting of producer George Martin.

'Yellow Submarine' suffered from negative publicity upon its release, relating to the flamboyant comments made by Lennon about Jesus Christ. It failed to reach number one but rather quickly achieved gold record status. Revolver, on the other hand was a huge commercial success, and has been widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best album released by the Beatles. Ignoring the possible drug connotations, the child-friendly image of 'Yellow Submarine' created a family-friendly image in the mind of many for Ringo Starr, and later in life he was able to parlay this into a successful children's acting career. is the mystical rehearsal studio for rockers DEMON TWEAK. Listen as they prepare for battle with the evil trickster Loki by playing home brewed classic rock direct from Ragnarok. Also read articles on your favorite classic rock band written by resident historian VIRGIL THE STORYTELLER.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Beatles "Revolution"

John Rehearses Give Peace A Chance By Roy KerwoodImage via Wikipedia

The Beatles Revolution Sparks a Rock Resurgence by Vince P Platania

The Beatles Revolution was one of the wake-up calls to rock musicians in the 1960's who were looking for a way to add a harder edge to their sound. The song was written by John Lennon in 1968, and has been recorded in a several different versions. The most familiar one, however, begins with a heavily distorted guitar riff and a piercing scream. The track then moves into a sludgy shuffle, led by raunchy mid-range crunch on the lead guitar and a heavy drum beat.

Musicians had for some time been experimenting with ways to create a heavier guitar sound. The most common method used was to overdrive a guitar amplifier by turning the gain up very high until it was so loud that it began to distort the amplifier's speaker cone. Some bands, such as the Kinks, even began vandalizing their equipment to get the tone they were looking for, slashing speakers in order to make them dirty up the audio signal.

No-one, however, had released anything that matched the sheer aggression inherent in the guitar backing The Beatles Revolution. Interestingly, the song was originally far slower than the one that was included as a B-side to 'Hey Jude'. Lennon had been keen to release the milder, lyrically identical version as a single itself, but other band members felt it was far too slow to achieve any success.

Irritated, Lennon set out to make a virtual caricature of the original song that he had written, channeling all of his stifled rage and energy into the primal scream that precedes the opening verse. Whether this proved to be therapeutic for Lennon or not is unknown, but he was appeased by having his original version of the song, re-titled as 'Revolution 1', released on 'The White Album'.

The words to The Beatles Revolution were decidedly political. Lennon claims to have been inspired by the 1968 revolt in France, and the track bears his typical caustic evaluation of events, letting people know that while he considers real political change to be welcome, using the tools of violence to achieve that change is far from acceptable. The release of this song marked the beginning of a new period in Lennon's songwriting, one that was more focused on the external world and less interested in navel-gazing and emotional exploration. It was also the beginning of the tensions that would plague the band as it tried to balance political expression, fame, and internal discord. is the mystical rehearsal studio for rockers DEMON TWEAK. Listen as they prepare for battle with the evil trickster Loki by playing home brewed classic rock direct from Ragnarok. Also read articles on your favorite classic rock band written by resident historian VIRGIL THE STORYTELLER.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

'Bloody Hippies'

Cover of "Easy Rider [Region 2]"Cover of Easy Rider [Region 2]

When I was 18, in 1986, my last year of school, for me the culture of the late 60s was akin to oxygen. People thought I was crazy. Said I was living in the past. Personally, I saw my passion for the 60s as a necessary enrichment of my present in an age when, on a brand-new thing called MTV, the most important thing about a pop song was now the video not the music.

Were the people of the Italian Renaissance living in the past by delving back into Classical ideals to lift themselves up out of the Dark Ages? And why isn’t Mozart considered ‘retro’ whereas The Doors are?

For the original hippies – the Baby Boomers – the film they saw as defining the spirit of their generation was ‘Easy Rider’. What was that defining film for us Generation Xers? Oh, yes… ‘The Breakfast Club’. What a wonderful icon of a Golden Age it wasn’t. Perhaps Freddy Kruger targeted my age group precisely because we were so lame.

Indeed, Generation X seems to have been defined by its resentment of the original hippies. Why this resentment, this Gen X retro cringe at the youth of the Psychedelic Era? Because they believed that something as ephemeral as pop music just might change the world? Stop a war? Because this belief was hopelessly naïve and doomed to failure from the start? Of course it was.

But you have to keep in mind that the pop music of the 60s was of such high quality that it had the youth of the 1960s believing the illusion. And the First World youth of the 1960s weren’t ignorant apparition-seeing hill-dwellers either. They were the best educated generation in history. And their pop music was so intoxicating that it had them believing the Impossible might be Possible.

Ken Kesey, influential figure of late 60s hippy culture, gave us his book ‘One Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest’, the story of a lone individual’s struggle against an oppressive regime. Immortalised in film with Jack Nicholson in the lead role as asylum inmate, Randal McMurphy, one of the film’s key scenes has McMurphy trying to pull off the impossible: In front of all the other inmates, he puts his whole being into an attempt to rip out the asylum’s concrete water bubbler. Of course, he fails. And the inmates see him fail. But then he turns to them: “But don’t y’see?! At least I TRIED.”

Perhaps the defining pop song of Generation X was Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. (It seems I was the single person on the planet who wasn’t moved by this band.) But many times did I hear Cobain fans effuse how the song ‘really captured the spirit of a generation’. In fact, I heard this line so many times that I had a prepared reply for it. ‘In what way?’ I would always ask.

The thing is, every time I asked this, I always (always) got the same answer.

A blank stare.

Justin Sheedy
New Author

Saturday, March 21, 2009

OPINION: What is 'Cool'?

Muddy Waters (Muddy Waters via

WHAT is "Cool"?

One aspect of Cool is the knack of being (fanatically) un-original. At one’s outset…

Take the Rolling Stones.

Evidently some minor pair of this history-changing clutch met on a train station somewhere on a drizzly day on some God-forsaken suburb of England, and saw in each other's schoolboy satchels, each other's record collections… And connected.

And they connected because they felt they were taking a stand against the dominant paradigm at the time.

Cliff Richard who began Rock and Roll in England with the first bit of it allowed IN by the music moguls at the time, a great little song called "Move It", which even Ringo Starr said was the first clear Rock thing on UK radio since the BBC had been invented. Cliff Richard was the UK Elvis for about 6 months. Still going, evidently…

So, how were this drizzled-upon pair of the Rolling Stones being fanatically unoriginal?

Because in their schoolboy satchels were strange, old vinyl records…

Muddy Waters. Howling Wolf. Chuck Berry… Just like, in any really excellent chef's mind, are strange, old (very traditional) recipes that no-one knows about…

Which is what the Rolling Stones were so fanatically unoriginally into.

Thank Christ.

In a nutshell, the Rolling Stones, (at their outset), guided Rock and Roll by rejecting their present and their local culture as they saw it.

In trying to be faithful to their cultural gods, they tried to play like their gods. But you can never replicate (or indeed BE) your god, so they ended up being Their Influenced Selves.

And THAT is cool.

By Justin Sheedy

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Friday, March 20, 2009

A Tribute to The Kinks

The KinksThe Kinks (via

The Kinks by Russell Shortt

Ray and Dave Davies were only teenagers when their R&B group, The Ravens were signed by Shel Talmy of Pye Records who changed their name to The Kinks. Talmy successfully captured the raw, youthful energy of the group in You Really Got Me (1964) which topped the UK charts and stormed the US charts. This song, and it's follow-up All Day and All of the Night, featured the compellingly curious vocal style of Ray and the amp-slashed, first heavy rock riffs of Dave. Definitely, this was a band with a difference.

However, the subsequent albums received a lukewarm reception, coupled with a ban from re-entering America following a tour which was marred by conflicts with promoters over money and concert venues. So, while the rest of rock convened in San Francisco and New York, Ray and Dave stayed put in England becoming introspective and well, English of course.

It resulted in a slew of classic hits - Dedicated Follower of Fashion, Sunny Afternoon, Dead End Street, Waterloo Sunset, Autumn Almanac and Days. However, these whimsical, carefree, poetic songs belied the hideous reality of a band in crisis, fighting with it's publishing company, it's management and indeed amongst themselves. Through all this though they continued to release remarkable albums which remained aloof and different from the contemporary scene but perhaps because of this sales remained low.

The tide turned with the 1970 album Lola Versus The Powerman And The Money-Go-Around, Part One receiving financial and critical success. This was the peak of the band, however, they signed to RCA and began flirting with rock opera and theatrical projects. Towards the late 1970s, they did enjoy something of a revival Stateside with the albums Sleepwalker (1977), Misfits (1978), Low Budget (1979), Give The People What They Want (1981) and State of Confusion (1983).

Russell Shortt is a travel consultant with Exploring Ireland, the leading specialists in customised, private escorted tours, escorted coach tours and independent self drive tours of Ireland. Article source Russell Shortt:

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tribute to The Grateful Dead

Cover of "Aoxomoxoa"Cover of Aoxomoxoa

Who Are the Grateful Dead? by Russell Shortt

The Grateful Dead are legendary, more of a symbol than a band. Indeed the majority of people know the brand more than the music, are more familiar with Jerry Garcia & Co.'s antics than with the albums. They were the most famous, most celebrated, most mischievous of hippie bands and indeed, they stuck around the longest. They converted legions and legions of scenesters into hardened Deadheads.

They grew out of the union between singer/songwriter/lead guitarist Jerry Garcia, songwriter/rhythm guitarist Bob Weir and keyboardist/singer Ron 'Pigpen' McKernan. The three began as folkies before going electric and teaming up with classically trained avant-garde/electronica graduate Phil Lesh on bass and Bill Kreutzmann on drums. Their first gigs were rather appropriately as the house band at Ken Kesey's notorious LSD parties. They followed these gigs by holding a series of free concerts where they combined folk and country with blues. However, their debut album The Grateful Dead (1967) failed to capture the band's eclecticism nor the excitement of their live concerts.

They ironed out this problem on the follow-up album Anthem of the Sun (1968) with its psychedelically improvisational sound collages helped by the addition of a second drummer Mick Hary and a second keyboardist Tom Constanten. They continued their aural experimentation through Aoxomoxoa (1969) which marked the beginning of their collaboration with non-performance band member Robert Hunter.

It was on their double-album Live/Dead that same year that everything came together and they finally managed to capture what The Grateful Dead were about. Once they mastered this and proved themselves they debunked to the studio, recording two classic albums - Workingman's Dead and American Beauty both on which they explored their country, folk and blues roots.

Russell Shortt is a travel consultant with Exploring Ireland, the leading specialists in customised, private escorted tours, escorted coach tours and independent self drive tours of Ireland. Article source Russell Shortt

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

OPINION: Who is Cool?

Ray Charles (Ray Charles via

"Cool" - Who Is, Who Isn't, Who Wants to Be and Who Can Never Be - Music Part 1 by Julian Huntly

I looked up "cool" in the dictionary, which is actually a pretty uncool thing to do and this is what I found: "fashionable, stylish, chic, up-to-the-minute, sophisticated; informal trendy, funky, with it, hip, big, happening, groovy, phat, kicky, fly."

Which to be honest is not very helpful, I then remembered the Monks of Cool from the Terry Pratchett novel Lords and Ladies. In their passing-out test a novice monk must select the coolest thing to wear from a room full of clothes. The correct answer is "Hey, whatever I select", which I think gives me the right to write this article and tell you all who I think is cool and who is not, and my reasons for doing so.

Lets start with the world of Music.

Where to start, well I suppose one of the longest running arguments in music is Stones vs. Beatles. Well obviously the Rolling Stones are cool and the Beatles are not. Why is this? Both bands got busted for drugs, both bands made a massive worldwide impact with their music. The Beatles were arguably more inventive and creative than the Stones, but that does not make a band cool.

First, the Beatles had Paul McCartney (The Frog Song) and Ringo Starr who John Lennon said wasn't even the best drummer in the Beatles. Sure the Stones had Bill Wyman who was sleazy and pretty uncool but I think the Beatles lose on that one.

Secondly, the Stones had two very cool things happen early in their career, the death of their self proclaimed leader Brian Jones under mysterious circumstances in his own swimming pool and the murder of an audience member at their open air gig at Altamont by the coolest of gangs, The Hells Angels. The Beatles went to India and got ripped off by the Maharishi, and then played on a roof.

Thirdly the Stones had the newspaper headline "Would you let your daughter go out with a Rolling Stone" every mother would have loved their daughter to marry a Beatle. I suppose to totally nail the argument, one band has Keith Richards who despite falling out of trees remains the gold standard for Rock Cool.

So who is next, Ray Charles so cool, Stevie Wonder not. Ray Charles was a pathfinder a rebel, a true genius and although it could be argued that Little Stevie Wonder was a child prodigy and that his work between 72 and 76 was incredibly creative, Innervisions, Talking Book and my favourite Songs in the Key of Life, it only takes one slip to become un-cool and lets be honest "Ebony and Ivory" and "I Just called to say I love you" were definite slips and a duet with the UK boy band Blue put the nail in the coffin. The movie Ray was awarded with an Oscar; a movie of Stevie's life would probably be quite boring.

Aerosmith are so cool, Bon Jovi so not. Here is an example of two bands, same genre, both from the East coast, playing the same venues at the same time. Alright one started in the 70's and the other in the 80's but I think the comparison stands as they have both been going well over 25 years, and one is still cool and the other just isn't. Maybe it is because the writing team of one got the name the "toxic twins" or because Jon Bon Jovi starred in some pretty rubbish movies including the U-571 and National Lampoons Pucked, and one gave us Liv Tyler, but for me the argument is made simply by the fact that Jon appeared as a guest on American Idol.

Jay Z or Sean "Diddy" Coombs. Well I am no expert on Hip Hop but I think it is pretty clear Jay Z is the man, great music, Beyonce for a girlfriend, runs his own record label within the massive Universal Music Group, whereas "Diddy" for us in the UK is the most stupid nickname anyone would choose outside of primary school. He claims to be a ladies man but with a name like Diddy it must be the money attracting them.

U2, it is claimed by some, are in a class of their own. This may be so but they are deeply un-cool. Any band that is around for as long as these guys have been, tend to have some pretty near scrapes with the law. Not U2, strike one. The preaching on poverty when they have a combined personal wealth of a small country. And then there are the celebrity friends and the sucking up to the rich and the powerful.

I could go on and probably will in another article, I am sure many of you will agree with my musings on who's cool and who's never going to be, and I am sure there will be an equal number who disagree, well share your thoughts.

I will leave you with this question, do you agree that Johnny Cash was so much cooler than Elvis?

Julian Huntly, Digital Music Marketing Consultant:

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