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Posts Tagged ‘rock

“Time takes it all, whether you want it to or not”*…

 

From the moment Elvis Presley landed, we wanted every piece of him. This turned his old records into vinyl and shellac gold. While the value of discs by other popular mid-century artists such as Cliff Richard and Frank Sinatra dropped as time passed, Elvis’s didn’t. As an omnipresent figure, the prices of the King’s records rose to astronomical levels.

Unearthing an original “That’s All Right” record became a £4,000 lucky strike; a set of five original Sun singles at one time fetched £25,000. This made them a sort of pension for many collectors. They packed items away, hoping one day to exchange them for a caravan in the Dordogne. However, this has all begun to change…

As the King’s fans die of old age, and their collections hit the second-hand market, vintage Elvis records have never been cheaper: “Can’t help falling in price: why Elvis memorabilia is plummeting in value.”

* Stephen King

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As we feel our age, we might recall that it was on this date in 1957 that Chuck Berry recorded “Rock & Roll Music” at the Chess Studios in Chicago.  (Some websites report a recording date of either May 6 or May 21, but Steve Sullivan’s Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings affirms May 15 as the date of record.)

The tune reached number 6 on Billboard‘s R&B Singles chart and number 8 on its Hot 100.  But its impact continued to grow: it was covered by dozens of artists including Bill Haley & His Comets, the Beatles, the Beach Boys (who had a top ten hit with the song in 1976), Dickie Rock and the Miami Showband, REO Speedwagon, Mental As Anything, Humble Pie, Manic Street Preachers and Bryan Adams.  In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Berry’s version number 128 on its list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”; and the song is included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.

 

Written by LW

May 15, 2017 at 1:01 am

“For every prohibition you create you also create an underground”*…

 

In November 2016, this former public toilet, once known as “ground zero” to locals, was reopened in downtown Reykjavik to do what it was maybe always meant to do: tell the story of Icelandic punk…

A tiny museum with a sizable collection– visit the “Icelandic Punk Museum.”

* Jello Biafra

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As we muse on moshing, we might recall that today is April Fools’ Day.  A popular occasion for pranks and hoaxes since the 19th century, it is considered by some to date from the calendar change of 1750-52— though references to high jinx on the 1st of April date back to Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (1392).

“The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.”

– Mark Twain

An April Fools’ Day hoax marking the construction of the Copenhagen Metro in 2001

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Written by LW

April 1, 2017 at 1:01 am

“There is in souls a sympathy with sounds”*…

 

We know that there is sound on planets and moons in the solar system – places where there’s a medium through which sound waves can be transmitted, such as an atmosphere or an ocean. But what about empty space? You may have been told definitively that space is silent, maybe by your teacher or through the marketing of the movie Alien – “In space no one can hear you scream”. The common explanation for this is that space is a vacuum and so there’s no medium for sound to travel through.

But that isn’t exactly right. Space is never completely empty – there are a few particles and sound waves floating around. In fact, sound waves in the space around the Earth are very important to our continued technological existence. They also they sound pretty weird!…

More– including another, different opportunity to listen in and info on how you can help– at “What does empty space sound like?

* William Cowper

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As we prick up our ears, we might recall that it was on this date in 1956 that American International Pictures released Shake Rattle and Rock!, a comedy-drama (featuring the music of Fats Domino) directed by Edward L. Cahn, who went on to notoriety, if not fame, two years later with It! The Terror from Beyond Space, the film that inspired the 1979 film Alien.

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Written by LW

December 1, 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

“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

“I certainly was one of the originators, but I don’t think you can blame me for everything”*…

 

In advance of an appearance at London’s ICA (which, in the event, didn’t happen),  a conversation with Mark Smith, musician (The Fall) and founder of the legendary punk fanzine Sniffin’ Glue— which quickly became a vital outlet for punk in the 70s.

It’s different today because you’ve got the internet. If we want to have our say on anything we can go straight online to our blog, our Facebook page, our Twitter. But remember, in the 70s there wasn’t any of that. If you wanted to get your voice out there, you had to actually do something. When you started a fanzine in the old days, you had to actually cut and paste. You used felt-tip pen and cow gum to physically cut and paste it together. And then you’d go down the local photocopying shop. In those days, nobody had their own photocopiers. I mean, nowadays most printers can photocopy and in those days, you had to get up off your bum and go down the photocopying shop. It was more of a hands-on process. I don’t think there’s any need for fanzines, in the same way, these days because people can just start blogs and that, can’t they? You can put it all on YouTube. There are more ways of getting your voice out there nowadays and in the 70s there wasn’t, so you had to go and start a fanzine…

More first-hand history– and more cover art– at “Tracing the beginnings of the punk fanzine.”

* Mark Smith

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As we we give ourselves over to Submission, we might spare a thought for Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington; he died on this date in 1974.  A composer, pianist, and bandleader, Ellington is generally credited with elevating the perception of jazz to an art form on a par with other more traditional musical genres.  In a career that spanned 60 years (he wrote his first song,”Poodle Dog Rag,” in 1914, at the age of 15 while working as a soda jerk in the Poodle Dog Cafe in Washington, D.C.), Ellington wrote more than one thousand compositions– the largest recorded personal jazz legacy– many, many of which become standards (“Mood Indigo,” “It Don’t Mean A Thing [If You Ain’t Got That Swing],” “Take the A Train,” and many, many others).   As a performer, his career spanned continents, and ran from The Cotton Club to Carnegie Hall.  As a recording artist he sold millions of records and won 12 Grammy Awards, plus the Grammy for Lifetime Achievement and membership in the Grammy Hall of Fame (among many other Hall of Fame memberships and musical laurels).  He won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969, was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize in 1999.

And, as regular readers may recall, he had something to teach us all about the fine art of eating.

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Written by LW

May 24, 2016 at 1:01 am

“We have laboured long to build a heaven, only to find it populated with horrors”*…

 

The view of London’s skyline from the dome of St. Peter’s today (below) and visualized to reflect the completion of all currently-approved skyscrapers (above)

436 new skyscrapers could be popping up in London soon: 114 are at the pre-planning stage, 233 have received approval prior to construction, and 89 are actually being built. A new set of extremely-detailed renderings from Visualhouse and Dan Lowe offer an idea of how this high-rise future might actually look. More (and larger) photos and more background at “A Striking Visualization of London’s Future Skyline.”

* Alan Moore, Watchmen

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As we reach for the sky, we might recall that it was on this date in 1975 that a bill headlined by Kevin Coyne and Procol Harum played the “Closing Show” at London’s Rainbow Theater.  Built in 1930 as a cinema, it became a major concert venue in the 1960s:  The Rainbow was where Jimi Hendrix first burned a guitar, and where The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Queen, Genesis, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Little Feat, Kool & the Gang, the Ramones, and many others recorded live material for albums, television, and film.

The Rainbow was used again, sporadically, for concerts beginning in 1977.  But it was subject to a Historic Preservation Order, the maintenance standards of which the owners couldn’t meet; their plans to convert the space into a bingo parlor fell through, and the venue went dark in 1982.  It stayed vacant until the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, a Brazilian Pentecostal order, converted into the church that it is today.

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Written by LW

March 16, 2016 at 1:01 am

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