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Posts Tagged ‘music

“Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about rock-n-roll”*…

 

Readers may recall our recent visit to The Internet Arcade, an online repository of payable versions of old arcade games.  Now, also from Internet Archive, an incredible collection of vintage MS-DOS computer games.  From Oregon Trail (from which, many readers will have known, the above image comes) to Prince of Persia, there are 2,400 of them available to play for free at Software Library: MS-DOS Games.

Shigeru Miyamoto

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As we relearn the arrow keys, we might recall that it was on this date in 1964 that the Beatles entered the U.S. pop charts for the first time, when “I Want to Hold Your Hand” debuted at #35 on the Billboard Hot 100; it went to #1 the following week.  The single had already ascended to the pinnacle of the British charts: indeed, with advance orders exceeding one million copies in the U.K., “I Want to Hold Your Hand” would ordinarily have hit the top of the British record charts on its day of release (November 29, 1963), but it was blocked for two weeks by the group’s first million-seller, “She Loves You.”  The release order was reversed in the U.S.; “I Want to Hold Your Hand” held the number one spot for seven weeks before being replaced by “She Loves You.”  “I Want to Hold Your Hand” remained on the U.S. charts for a total of fifteen weeks, and remains the Beatles’ best-selling single worldwide.

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Written by LW

January 18, 2015 at 1:01 am

“American music starts here”*…

 

The story of Paramount Records is a fascinating one—the beginning is set about 100 years ago, in a Wisconsin furniture company that began pressing records in hopes that’d help them sell record players, which in their early years were indeed whoppin’ big ol’ pieces of furniture. The middle sees that furniture company curating and releasing a jaw-dropping and still legendary catalogue of classic early jazz and Delta blues 78s by the likes of Charley Patton, Ma Rainey, and Blind Lemon Jefferson. The end of the story sees the closing of the company and disgruntled employees flinging those now priceless shellac records into the Milwaukee River and melting down the metal masters for scrap. The whole story can be found in greater detail online, or in the books Paramount’s Rise and Fall and Do Not Sell At Any Price.

What concerns us here are the label’s print ads, which ran in The Chicago Defender. I’ve tried mightily to find the names of the artists who drew these. People in a better position to know than I assure me their identities are lost to the years, though they may have been staff illustrators at a Madison ad agency. The loss of that knowledge is a damned shame, because without knowing it, those artists altered the history of underground comix, by serving as an acknowledged influence on that form’s grand pooh-bah, Robert Crumb. Even a superficial glance at some of these ads reveals a precursor to Crumb’s famous signature style (it’s strikingly evident in the slouching posture of some of these characters), and Crumb paid direct homage to these artists in a series of trading card sets that have been compiled into the book R. Crumb’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country—the comix artist’s abiding passion for the music of the early recording era has never been a secret…

Appropriately, this slideshow of Crumb’s blues-inspired works is set to a Paramount record, Charley Patton’s “Down the Dirt Road Blues”:

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More of the Paramount story– and more examples of the extraordinary ads– at “The Amazing Old Paramount Records Ads that Inspired R. Crumb.”

[TotH to friend Ted Nelson]

* Michael Ventura, in the wonderful essay “Hear That Long Snake Moan

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As we re-track our lives to twelve-bar blues, we might recall that it was on this date in 1956 that Richard Wayne Penniman– better known as Little Richard– entered the U.S. pop charts for the first time with “Tutti Frutti,” a song he’d recorded four months earlier.  As History.com reports,

Tutti frutti, good booty…” was the way the version went that Little Richard was accustomed to performing in his club act, and from there it got into lyrical territory that would demand censorship even by today’s standards. It was during a lunch break from his first-ever recording session that Little Richard went to the piano and banged that filthy tune out for producer Bumps Blackwell, who was extremely unhappy with the results of the session so far. As Blackwell would later tell it, “He hits that piano, dididididididididi…and starts to sing, ‘Awop-bop-a-Loo-Mop a-good Goddam…’ and I said ‘Wow! That’s what I want from you Richard. That’s a hit!'” But first, the song’s racy lyrics had to be reworked for there to be any chance of the song being deemed acceptable by the conservative American audience of the 1950s.

An aspiring local songwriter by the name of Dorothy La Bostrie was quickly summoned to the Dew Drop Inn [in New Orleans] to come up with new lyrics for the un-recordable original, and by the time they all returned from lunch, the “Tutti frutti, all rooty” with which we are now familiar was written down alongside lyrics about two gals named Sue and Daisy. In the last 15 minutes of that historic recording session on September 14, 1955, “Tutti Frutti” was recorded, and Little Richard’s claim to have been present at the birth of rock and roll was secured.

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Written by LW

January 14, 2015 at 1:01 am

“In memory everything seems to happen to music”*…

 

 

What do you hear when you mix the easy sounds of ambient music with the insistence of a police scanner?  Listen to San Francisco, or to any number of other cities

… at YouAreListeningTo.

* Tennessee Williams

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As we tune in, we might send forcefully-metered birthday greetings to Kenneth Patchen; he was born on this date in 1911.  A poet and novelist who experimented with form (most notably, with incorporating jazz into his readings), Patchen was widely ignored by the cultural establishment in his lifetime; but (with his close friend Kenneth Rexroth) became an inspiration for the young poets–  Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, and others– who became known as the Beat Generation.  In 1968, near the end of his life, The Collected Poems of Kenneth Patchen was published– and Patchen was embraced by the Establishment. The New York TImes called the book “a remarkable volume,” comparing Patchen’s work to that of Blake, Whitman, Crane, Lawrence, and even to the Bible.  In another review, the poet David Meltzer called Patchen “one of America’s great poet-prophets” and called his body of work “visionary art for our time and for Eternity.”

The lions of fire
Shall have their hunting in this black land

Their teeth shall tear at your soft throats
Their claws kill

O the lions of fire shall awake
And the valleys steam with their fury

Because you have turned your faces from God
Because you have spread your filth everywhere.

– from “The Lions of Fire Shall Have Their Hunting”  The Teeth of the Lion (1942)

Allen Ginsberg (left) and Kenneth Patchen (right) backstage at the Living Theatre where Patchen was performing with Charlie Mingus, New York City 1959. Photo copyright © Harry Redl 1959, 2000.

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Written by LW

December 13, 2014 at 1:01 am

“The more I see, the less I know for sure”*…

 

This is a serious subject, not a joke, and this site is here to expose the actions of those who exploited these young men and defrauded us their fans. It is to defend the honor of everyone involved who did not take part in it willingly. It has become apparent to us in this extensive and painstaking research that there were never just four individual people known as “John”, “Paul”, “George”, and “Ringo” who comprised one Rock & Roll band known as “The Beatles”, and rose to fame as the world’s first supergroup. For all intents and purposes as far as we can tell, no one such group ever existed.

The Beatles Never Existed Dot Com

The Paul-Is-Dead meme has been kicking around for decades now, based on discrepancies in certain photos and fueled by the free-floating paranoia of the White Album; Paul looks a bit taller in the later photos, it turns out, and maybe the Abbey Road cover looks a bit like a funeral procession. The only reasonable explanation, the theory goes, is that Paul was killed in 1966 and replaced by a double, canonically known as William Campbell.

But recently, a site has suggested taking the theory one step further. If there was no Paul—that is, no singular person responsible for the musical output of “Paul McCartney” between 1942 and the present—then there couldn’t really be a Beatles either. Everyone had to be in on it, which suggests they were either doubles themselves or sufficiently threatened by the threat of double-replacement that they kept quiet about it all. The Beatles as we know them, the four smiling lads having a great time playing music and being famous, never existed. It was all just a parade of doubles, orchestrated by a sinister British music establishment.

It’s a bizarre thing to think, but it’s basically right: The idea of The Beatles has been a tissue of lies for a while now, and if we have to go through a bunch of Paul Is Dead shenanigans to finally acknowledge that, then so be it…

Decide for yourself whether the Fab Four is in fact the Faux Four at “The Beatles Never Existed.”

* John Lennon

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As we wonder if this is what John was hinting at when he compared the Beatles to Jesus, we might recall that the Beatles (whoever they were) entered the UK pop charts for the first time on this date in 1962, with their first single, “Love Me Do” (B side: “P.S. I Love You”).

Love Me Do

 

 

Written by LW

October 26, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Four legs good, two legs bad”*…

 

Manchester-based design firm Dorothy commissioned illustrator Tracy Worrall to create “Rock ‘N Roll Zoo.” It’s a collection of prints featuring 77 fantastical animals inspired by song titles. Included are playfully literal depictions of The Doors’ Peace Frog, Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell, and other strange beasts rock stars have used as lyrical metaphors… animals are grouped by species, so the Pixies’ “Monkey Gone to Heaven” gets to hang out with the Beastie Boys’ “Brass Monkey,” the Kink’s “Apeman,” and the Goodies’ Funky Gibbon; while the various pigs of rock–the Beatles’ “Piggies,” Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” and Pink Floyd’s “Pigs on the Wing”–are lumped into the same sty…

In addition to the full print, [there are] boxed set collections, including the Indie Kid collection (featuring “Elephant Stone” by The Stone Roses, “Monkey Gone to Heaven” by Pixies and “Beetlebum” by Blur) and [as below] the ’80s collection (featuring “Bat Out of Hell” by Meatloaf, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, and “Hungry Like a Wolf” by Duran Duran)…

More at “An Illustrated Guide To Every Animal In Rock Music.”

Just as our ancient ancestors drew animals on cave walls and carved animals from wood and bone, we decorate our homes with animal prints and motifs, give our children stuffed animals to clutch, cartoon animals to watch, animal stories to read.

- Diane Ackerman

* George Orwell, Animal Farm

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As we walk the dog, we might recall that it was on this date in 1998 that a federal judge in St. Louis ruled that the Fort Zumwalt High School marching band would not be allowed to play Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” in its ’60s medley.  The song had been banned by the high school superintendent on the grounds it promoted drug use…. even as one waxes nostalgic, one notes that “White Rabbit” was the nickname of Owsley Stanley, the Bay Area’s preferred purveyor of LSD.

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Written by LW

October 23, 2014 at 1:01 am

“In many ways, classic rock became bigger than mainstream rock”*…

 

Led Zeppelin is classic rock. So are Mötley Crüe and Ozzy Osbourne. But what about U2 or Nirvana? As a child of the 1990s, I never doubted that any of these bands were classic rock, even though it may be shocking for many to hear. And then I heard Green Day’s “American Idiot” on a classic rock station a few weeks ago, and I was shocked.

It was my first time hearing a band I grew up with referred to as “classic rock.” Almost anyone who listens to music over a long enough period of time probably experiences this moment — my colleagues related some of their own, like hearing R.E.M. or Guns N’ Roses on a classic rock station — but it made me wonder, what precisely is classic rock?…

Follow FiveThirtyEight’s deep– and diverting– dive into the data at “Why Classic Rock Isn’t What It Used To Be.”

 

* Chuck D

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As we roll around in our roots, we might spare a thought for another variety of classic:  it was on this date in 1930 that Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington recorded his first big hit, “Mood Indigo.”  Ellington was fond of saying, “Well, I wrote that in 15 minutes while I was waiting for my mother to finish cooking dinner.”  With lyrics added by Mitchell Parish in 1931 (but credited to Ellington’s manager Irving Mills), “Mood Indigo” became a vocal as well as an instrumental standard, recorded by Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Nina Simone among many, many others.

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Written by LW

October 15, 2014 at 1:01 am

“If it weren’t for Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of television, we’d still be eating frozen radio dinners”*…

 

Edward R. Murrow

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There’s no denying that newspapers are in jeopardy; emerging electronic media have eaten away at both their audiences and their advertising revenue.  But lest we count them altogether out, we might remind ourselves that folks have been predicting their demise for decades.

From the March 1922 issue of Radio News magazine:

Seated comfortably in the club car of the Twenty-first Century Flyer — fast airplane service between London and New York — the president of the Ultra National Bank removes a small rubber disk from his vest pocket and places it over his ear. A moment hence, he will receive by radiophone the financial news of the world. Simultaneously, millions of other people all over the globe will receive the message. At designated hours, news of a general character will also be received.

The broadcasting of news by radiophone had long displaced the daily newspaper, and…

Don’t scoff! The day may be nearer than you suspect. In Hungary, a wire “telephone newspaper” has been successfully conducted for more than 25 years. For nearly a year, financial news direct from the Amsterdam Bourse has been broadcasted by radiophone to 200 banks and brokerage firms in Holland. And within a few months the German Government has installed near Berlin a wireless telephone station for the broadcasting of general news on a regular daily schedule throughout the entire country.

More on the premature reports of the death of the newspaper at “1922: Radio Will Kill the Newspaper Star.” (See also “The Newspaper of Tomorrow: 11 Predictions from Yesteryear.”

* Johnny Carson

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As we strap on our jet-packs, we might recall that it was on this date two years earlier, in 1920, that Scientific American got a forecast powerfully right; in an issue cover-dated the following day, it made then-bold prediction that radio would be come an important medium for delivering music.

It has been well known for some years that by placing a form of telephone transmitter in a concert hall or at any point where music is being played the sound may be carried over telephone wires to an ordinary telephone receiver at a distant point, thus enabling those several miles away to listen to the music. Such systems have been in use in London between a number of the theaters and hotels for many years, but it is only recently that a method of transmitting music by radio has been found possible.

It has now been discovered that music can be transmitted by wireless in the same manner as speech or code signals and as a result of research work on radio telephony at the Bureau of Standards it has been proven that music sent by this means does not lose its quality. It is, therefore, obvious that music can be performed at any place, radiated into the air through an ordinary radio transmitting set and received at any other place, even though hundreds of miles away. The music received can be made as loud as desired by suitable operation of the receiving apparatus. The result is perhaps not so very different from that secured by means of the ordinary telephone apparatus above mentioned, but the system is far simpler and does not require the use of any intermediate circuit. The entire feasibility of centralized concerts has been demonstrated and in fact such concerts are now being sent out by a number of persons and institutions. Experimental concerts are at present being conducted every Friday evening from 8:30 to 11:00 by the Radio Laboratory of the Bureau of Standards. The wave length used is 500 meters. This music can be heard by any one in the territory near the District of Columbia having a simple amateur receiving outfit. The possibilities of such centralized radio concerts are great and extremely interesting. One simple means of producing music for radio transmission is to play a phonograph into the radio transmitter. An interesting improvement upon this method is being utilized in the experiments at the Bureau. The carbon microphone, which is the mouthpiece of an ordinary telephone, is mounted on the phonograph in place of the usual vibrating diaphragm. As a result the phonograph record produces direct variations of electric current in the telephone apparatus instead of producing sound; thus while the music is not audible at the place where the phonograph record is being played, it is distinctly heard at the different receiving stations.

 

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Written by LW

October 1, 2014 at 1:01 am

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