While Chuck Berry was certainly a rock and roll survivor, his recent passing reminds us that nothing is forever, and that the roots of rock and roll are now a number of generations away. It is also fair to say that without him, there may well not have been the Beatles, Beach Boys or even Dylan in form that gave him worldwide acclaim. The Beatles covered his songs; Brian Wilson used on one of his melodies as a basis for the hit that set the Beach Boys off. While others may have made rock and roll into art, Chuck Berry gave it the original backbeat. And for that, we say thank you and goodbye to the one of the main pioneers.
Archive for the ‘General Music’ Category
1. Train Tracks for Wheezy - A Little Orchestra and Haiku Salut
2.Let’s Live Before We Die - The Beach Boys
3. Why – The Beach Boys
4. Bobby Left Me – Brian Wilson
5. Kahuna Sunset - Buffalo Springfield
6. Falcon Lake (Ash On The Floor) – Buffalo Springfield
7. What Makes You Stay – Deana Carter
8. Here You Come Again- Dolly Parton
9. All Our Dreams Are Coming True- Gene Page
10. Christmas Makes Me Cry- Kacey Musgraves
11. Present Without a Bow – Kacey Musgraves
12. Perfect World- Katie Melua
13. All-Night Vigil ( Nunc Dimittis) -Katie Melua
14. Two Bare Feet -Katie Melua
15. Walking Down Madison -Kirsty MacColl
16. Soho Square - Kirsty MacColl
17. In Amsterdam – Paul Weller
18. Discover A Lovelier You -Pernice Brothers
19. Alpine Crossing – Swing Out Sister
20. Caipirinha -Swing Out Sister
21. I’m in Love -Teenage Fanclub
22. The First Sight -Teenage Fanclub
23. Will You Be Staying After Sunday -The Peppermint Rainbow
Regular readers of the blog will know that the music of Prefab Sprout and Paddy McAloon is very much up there as one of my favorite artists. As Paddy has suffered both sight and hearing problems, any music from him is a special gift, and the unexpected 2013 album Crimson/Red could have been seen as a swansong. But he is back with a Youtube video , and even if it is a one-off, the subject matter could hardly be more relevant in the strange post-2016 world. There is also a great write-up on the song and it’s background on the Guardian.
A lot of people are revealing the 10 records that influenced them most as a teenager, so I thought I would join the bandwagon and list mine. You may notice this is a Brian Wilson/Beach Boys free list, as my love for the group only emerged in my 20s. The list probably reflects more the acts that impacted me the most, with the albums being the ones that the have had the longest lifetime impact.
1) Beatles -Abbey Road
2) Simon & Garfunkel-Bookends
3) Bob Dylan- Blood On The Tracks
4) The Jam- Sound Affects
5) The Smiths- The World Won’t Listen (I know technically a compilation…)
6) Kane Gang- The Bad And Lowdown World Of The Kane Gang
7) Bruce Springsteen- Born To Run
8) George Harrison- All Things Must Pass
9) David Bowie- Hunky Dory
10) Paul McCartney & Wings- Band On The Run
I have two recommendations to add to your seasonal album collection in what has been a good year for Christmas music. First of all, Kacey Musgraves, who should be known to Brian Wilson fans for Guess You Had To Be There from Brian’s latest album, has released her first holiday album, A Very Kacey Christmas which promises a Christmas classic. There are some sassy versions of Christmas chestnuts, but the real meat is the originals, especially Christmas Makes Me Cry, which takes the season to a deep, emptional level.
Katie Melua may have less direct Brian Wilson connections, but her well-crafted pop may well already have a few fans on this page. Her Christmas album, In Winter, takes her to her Georgian roots with the Gori Women’s Choir and it is a lovely combination, with some truly transcendental moments, particularly on the more traditional songs such as the Ukrainian carol The Little Sparrow and Nunc Dimitis.
They say that Quentin Tarantino is directing 2016, but even he surely couldn’t script the absurdity of a year which makes you believe anything is possible, and then kills off so many more realistic dreams. When 1 in 5000 outsiders Leicester won the English Premier League, we believed even the most impossible dreams could become realities -when the Chicago Cubs broke a down 108 year drought, we believed that anything could change -when Bob Dylan won the Nobel Literature Prize, we saw one of the 60s greatest voices move from popular culture to highbrow acceptance.
And yet, as our heroes pass away in quantities that may be actuarially plausible but feel like the worst of Tarantino’s gorefests, the baby boomer generation that defined the 60s counter-culture may still be anti-establishment, but now seem to be voting for walls and division, rather than peace and love. Every major vote this year seems to be for pulling the world further apart, even when conventional wisdom and the reality of the internet age suggest a world that has to be evermore connected.
This week we mourn the passing of Leonard Cohen and Leon Russell, but that wasn’t anywhere close to the biggest news. A man who seemed to stand for division, for disconnecting America with the world, for inflaming old and new hatreds got the most powerful job in the world. A woman who seemed qualified for the job, and breaking a hoodoo that seemed far easier than the Cubs, just missed out on the job. Division seems to beat togetherness, irrational emotion trumped rational thinking -and the world, and at least half of America felt more uncertain.
It doesn’t feel like a time for easy answers or false hope. The generation that was supposed to change the world seems to want to change it back to around 1850. A new millennial generation, exposed from their youth to international contact and the notion that people are fundamentally the same are likely to eventually reverse the drift we seem to have from each other. I also understand that those who love Brian Wilson are a broad church and many Brian fans may well have voted Trump and see him as a saviour. So I end by going back to the message that is core of Brian’s shows, the same message that is core of the Gospels of Christ, the message of love and mercy. If we all practice that, surely we can get through these crazy times and move forward.
The big music news at the moment has nothing to do with the music itself – it’s all about Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for literature. Whatever you think about the merits of Dylan winning the particular prize, it remains a recognition for the cultural impact that music had on the 60s and beyond. And while Brian Wilson as a lyricist will never win such a high honor, one can never deny the emotional impact of the combination of his music and his and others lyrics on many people, and indeed also on culture, something Dylan himself as acknowledged.
This has also been the week that Brian Wilson has (re)joined the world of literature himself through his second autobiography, but first outside the influence of Landy. I Am Brian Wilson came out on the 11th, with a wave of publicity and interviews now overshadowed by Dylan’s award.
It’s also the week that the Pet Sounds tour was extended well into 2017 -not quite Dylan’s Never-Ending Tour but one that now goes even past the 50 year anniversary of Smiley Smile. There’s more talk around the rock-and-roll album coming out soon, and no evidence of slowing down in the year Brian turns 75.
1. Dancing On the Sun – Bahari
2. Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder) -The Beach Boys
3. For No One -The Beatles
4. Skylark -Bob Dylan
5. Atomic Number – case/lang/veirs
6. Supermoon -case/lang/veirs
7. Why Do We Fight -case/lang/veirs
8. How Can You Find Someone To Love -Citizen Helene
9. Women of Ireland -Dexys
10. How Do I Live -Dexys
11. The Town I Loved So Well – Dexys
12. New York Is My Home – Dion & Paul Simon
13. Together -The Explorers Club
14. California’s Callin’ Ya -The Explorers Club
15. Gold Winds -The Explorers Club
16. No Strings Attached -The Explorers Club
17. Before I’m Gone -The Explorers Club
18. See the Sky About to Rain -Neil Young
19. L.A. -Neil Young
20. Love In Mind – Neil Young
21. Tired Eyes -Neil Young
22. New Dawn (Synth Layout for Cut Scene) – Scott Walker
23. She Makes Me Laugh -The Monkees
The quick answer to the question in the blog title is yes, it was the year of Pet Sounds. But it’s worth considering what else came out in that pivotal year – we had the classic 60s trilogy of Revolver, Aftermath and Blonde On Blonde, all pivotal albums by three of the key artists of the 60s. 1966 saw Eight Miles High from the Byrds while Buffalo Springfield recorded For What It’s Worth (actual release was in the early days of 1967. Bacharach wrote and recorded Alfie, and the Walker Brothers released the classic The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore. And I’m sure we can go on.
Proving the best year music would take a lot effort in both statistical analysis and justifying one’s own personal taste. But 1966 can certainly make a strong case, without going into the detail.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the UK release of Revolver, the 7th Beatles album. Back in 1966 , it may have seemed something of a natural progression that could be seen in all the Beatles albums since Please Please Me, with a little help from Messers Wilson and Dylan. Looking back, it actually feels like a more innovative record than Sgt. Pepper and a landmark in rock innovation, as the basic guitar and drums pop rock evolved into psychedelia (I’m Only Sleeping), harder rock (She Said, She Said and others) , balladry (Here, There And Everywhere), soul (Got To Get You Into My Life) and even into songs eschewing anything conventional in rock with the classical (Eleanor Rigby) , Indian (Love You To) and experimental (Tomorrow Never Knows). George even gets three songs for the first and only time on a single Beatle record, and yet, even in all experimentation, there remains a commitment to melody and meaning. No-one may be able to definitely say which is the best Beatles record, but in retrospect, this was the biggest step forward musically for them , and for rock music.