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Posts Tagged ‘music

“Pop music has been exhausted”*…

 

 

… and so it becomes the subject of art.

A year ago, local artist Elle Luna challenged artists from around the world with her “100-Day Project,” an idea with a simple premise: do the same thing every day for a hundred days — draw a doodle, write a poem, whatever — and document the results.

San Francisco–based designer Katrina McHugh responded by making infographics based on popular song lyrics that reference the natural world, mirroring the style of vintage encyclopedias she inherited from her grandfather. The project, titled “100 Days of Lyrical Natural Sciences,” is a gorgeous and hilarious exercise in taking metaphor too literally…

Try your hand at identifying the songs in question at “Classic Pop Songs, Reimagined as Infographics.”

* Brian Wilson

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As we tap our toes, we might spare a thought for Cabell “Cab” Calloway III; he died on this date in 1994.  A master of scat singing and led one of the United States’ most popular big bands from the start of the 1930s to the late 1940s, regularly performing at the Cotton Club in Harlem.  His band featured performers including trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Adolphus “Doc” Cheatham, saxophonists Ben Webster and Leon “Chu” Berry, New Orleans guitar ace Danny Barker, and bassist Milt Hinton.  His “Minnie the Moocher” was the first jazz record to sell 1 million copies.

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Written by LW

November 18, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Don’t hate the media; become the media”*…

 

Joan Jett (Runaways), Debbie Harry (Blondie), David Johansen (New York Dolls), and Joey Ramone (Ramones)

As a city that represents endless possibilities, New York has long been the setting for the dawning of new movements, styles, and musical genres. And perhaps no music origin story has inspired as much appreciation, celebration, and imitation as the birth of punk rock in New York City in the 1970s.

In [an] excerpt from his new book New York Rock, Steven Blush gathers interviews with many of the artists, critics and original scenesters who witnessed first-hand the formation of punk’s distinctive subculture—a unique prism of influences, crosscurrents, and psychoactive distractions that coalesced around groundbreaking artists like The Ramones, Television, Richard Hell, Talking Heads, and Blondie…

Read on: New York Rock: The Birth of Punk, an Oral History

* Jello Biafra

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As we make our way to the mosh pit, we might recall that it was on this date in 1975 that the Sex Pistols made their live debut at St Martin’s School Of Art in central London, supporting a band called Bazooka Joe, which included Stuart Goddard (the future Adam Ant).  The Pistols’ performance lasted 10 minutes.

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Written by LW

November 6, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Now everybody’s sampling”*…

 

Long-time readers will know of your correspondent’s fascination with the world’s fascination with “The Final Countdown” (Original music video here.)  See, for example, here, mashed up brilliantly with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and here, performed on the Kazookelele.)

Today, another entry: Pawel Zadrozniak a.k.a. “Silent” has programmed the electronic orchestra of sixty-four floppy drives, eight hard disks and two scanners contained in his wonderful Floppotron to play an incredible, if not slightly eerie version the classic…

Via Laughing Squid.

* Missy Elliot

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As we get down, we might recall that it was on this date in 1967 that the UK’s first national pop radio station, BBC Radio 1 was launched in the UK.  It was an effort by the BBC to take over from the very successful pirate radio stations forced off-air by the Government.  Former pirate DJ Tony Blackburn (from Radio Caroline) was the first presenter on air; The Move’s “Flowers In The Rain,” the first record to be played.

Written by LW

September 30, 2016 at 1:01 am

“That tactile feel of flipping through a stack of vinyl remains one of life’s simple pleasures”*…

 

Nearly everyone interested in records will have, at some point heard the news that there is a Brazilian who owns millions of records. Fewer seem to know, however, that Zero Freitas, a São Paulo-based businessman now in his sixties, plans to turn his collection into a public archive of the world’s music, with special focus on the Americas. Having amassed over six million records, he manages a collection similar to the entire Discogs database. Given the magnitude of this enterprise, Freitas deals with serious logistical challenges and, above all, time constraints. But he strongly believes it is worth his while. After all, no less than a vinyl library of global proportions is at stake…

An interview with master collector Zero Freitas: “Inside the World’s Biggest Record Collection.”

* Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top)

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As we drop the needle, we might send harmonious birthday greetings to Jean-Philippe Rameau; he was born on this date in 1683.  One of the most important French composers and music theorists of the Baroque era, he replaced Jean-Baptiste Lully as the dominant composer of French opera and is also considered (with François Couperin) the leading French composer for the harpsichord of his time.

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Written by LW

September 25, 2016 at 1:01 am

“I don’t know how music works, I’m just glad that it does”*…

 

Long time readers will know of your correspondent’s fascination with Sun Records, it’s presiding spirit, Sam Phillips (c.f., “So you wanna be a rock and roll star…“), and the acts–a pantheon of early rockers– that Sun birthed (c.f., “Collecting is my passion“).  Turns out, there was a very particular method to the madness…

If rock and roll is a religion, then Sun Studio is one of its holiest temples. The walls of this garage-turned-recording-studio in Memphis reverberate with the echoes of the past. This is where Elvis became king, Cash walked the line, and Perkins put on his blue suede shoes. This is where Roy Orbison, B.B. King, Ike Turner, and Jerry Lee Lewis all got their start. This is where rock and roll was born.

Behind every guitar riff, drum beat, and lyrical innuendo, there was the man in the control room who engineered it all. Sam Phillips helped turn poor boys, sharecroppers’ sons, and ex-servicemen into legends, icons, and superstars. “He was always trying to invent sound,” says Sam’s son, Jerry Phillips, “He felt the studio was his laboratory.”

The inside story: “How Sam Phillips Invented the Sound of Rock and Roll.”

* Lou Brutus

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As we swivel our hips, we might sing a doleful birthday ditty to Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup; he was born on this date in 1905 (though some sources give the date as August 24).  A Delta blues singer, songwriter and guitarist, Crudup is probably best known today as the writer of “That’s All Right (Mama),” the A side of Elvis Presley’s first single (recorded, of course, by Sam Phillips at Sun), and for “My Baby Left Me” and “So Glad You’re Mine,” also covered by Elvis (and many others).

Southeastern Louisiana University rock historian Joseph Burns suggests that “That’s All Right (Mama)” is the world’s oldest rock and roll song, and notes that it contains (what is probably) the first ever guitar solo break.

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Written by LW

August 26, 2016 at 1:01 am

“A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.”*…

 

Decode the pictures above– and experience synesthesia– at “This Is What Musical Notes Actually Look Like.”

* Leopold Stokowski

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As we move to the music of the spheres, we might send tuneful birthday greetings to Louis Armstrong; he was born on this date in 1901.  A trumpeter, composer, singer (and occasional actor), he was a foundational influence in jazz, shifting the focus of the music from collective improvisation to solo performance, and helping to pioneer scat singing.  Nicknamed Satchmo or Pops, he has 11 records in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

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Written by LW

August 4, 2016 at 1:01 am

“I get so lonely, I could die”*…

 

Elvis, with the Gold Record he received for his first Number One single

The story has been repeated thousands of times, with minor variations, in magazines, books, blogs and documentaries. In some versions, the heartbroken man shoots himself; in others, he leaps to his death from a hotel window. There are occasional references to a failed romance and to the destruction of all traces of identification before the fatal act. There’s always a one-line suicide note: “I walk a lonely street.”

But there’s never a name. For 60 years, the true identity of the man whose death inspired “Heartbreak Hotel” has remained a mystery. Florida songwriters Tommy Durden and Mae Boren Axton always claimed the creative spark for Elvis Presley‘s first-ever Number One hit was a 1955 newspaper story about an anonymous man’s suicide and his cryptic note about that “lonely street.” (The paper cited is usually The Miami Herald.) And yet, no one has ever turned up the article, or even provided much clarifying detail.

This is surprising, considering that “Heartbreak Hotel” had a colossal impact – both on Elvis’ career and on rock & roll history. It was Elvis’ first nationwide hit after a string of regional successes, and it changed the lives of countless future stars – John Lennon, George Harrison, Keith Richards and Robert Plant have all proclaimed its transformative effect. Elton John, recalling the day he first heard the song, said, “That weekend, my mum came home with ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ and that changed my life. … Elvis Presley changed everyone’s life. I mean, there would be no Beatles, there would be no Hendrix. There would be no Dylan.” Paul McCartney once declared it nothing less than the most important artistic creation of the modern era…

Finally, the full story at: “Solving the Mystery of ‘Heartbreak Hotel’.”

* From “Heartbreak Hotel,” written by Tommy Durden and Mae Boren Axton.

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As we walk down a lonely street, we might recall that it was on this this date in 1961 that Bill Harry’s pioneering English music paper, Mersey Beat, announced that the Beat Brothers had signed a recording contract. The Beat Brothers?  They had performed with another British musician, Tony Sheridan, in Hamburg for several months earlier that year; but while the partnership worked, Sheridan chose to remain in Germany when the quartet returned to Liverpool. We know the group better by the name they soon after adopted: The Beatles.  Two years later, on this very day, they would go to No. 1 on the U.K. album chart for the first time.

The Beat Brothers in Hamburg (with Pete Best on drums); Tony Sheridan, seated

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Written by LW

July 20, 2016 at 1:01 am

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