New Wave Mod Bands – a section from Rock Routes – a book on Rock Music by Opher Goodwin

New Wave Mod Bands

 nb. – I have included the Jam with Punk in an earlier section.

The Mod Scene, which had never really died out, saw a big revival towards the end of the 1970s. Once again scooters could be seen popping along the roads, sparkling with chrome, headlights, aerials and festooned with fur accessories. Seaside resorts, such as Brighton, Clacton and Scarborough, favourite hunting grounds of the 1960s, were once again smothered with hordes of roving Mods decked out in fur-trimmed parkas complete with Who, Jam and Union Jack insignia.

A whole slew of Mod Bands sprang up sporting their traditional Italian Cut suits and smart layered hair and playing their brand of high speed punky music. They were led by the Jam and others included the Lambrettas, Purple Hearts and Secret Affair.

 

Artist Stand out tracks
Secret Affair Time for action

Let your hearts dance

My world

Sound of confusion

Lambrettas Go steady

Poison ivy

D-a-a-ance

Another day another girl

Purple Hearts Millions like us

Frustration

Jimmy

 

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Second Generation Punk – extract from Rock Routes – a Book on Rock Music by Opher Goodwin

Second Generation Punk

Many of the original Punk Bands had split up (as with the Sex Pistols), become commercial (as with Adam Ant), or absorbed new styles (as with the Clash – reggae & Hard Rock). It left a gap that needed to be filled. Many people claimed that Punk was dead. They were rudely silenced by a second and even more aggressive, vulgar and violent generation of Punk Bands. These include bands such as Gang of Four, Discharge, Penetration, G.B.H, UK Subs, Exploited, Anti-Pasti, Anti-Nowhere League, Professionals, Peter & the Test-tube Babies, and Cockney Rejects.
The Gang of Four are the most interesting. They fused a number of styles into their hard hitting sound. The bass and strident guitars were not standard Punk. There were lots of styles. The lyrics were very developed and thought provoking. They focussed on social issues.
Another important post-punk punk band was the Fall. Championed by John Peel with Mark E Smith on vocals and featuring heavy repetitive guitar riffs over which Mark sings, and recites his lyrics. Mark’s influences were Captain Beefheart and the Velvet Underground. John Peel claimed them as his favourite band. Their output has been, through thirty studio albums, of a consistently high standard despite huge numbers of personnel changes. Mark claimed it would always be the Fall even if it was just him and his grandma on bongos.
Many of these bands set out to be more provocative, uncompromising and nihilistic than the first generation had been. They were vying with each other to be more outrageous. It was extremely unlikely that any of them would receive any media coverage but they were able to flourish in both live performance and a level of record sales and built up large cult followings.
In the battle for extreme vulgarity it is possible that the Anti Nowhere League won with their version of ‘So What’ but that is open to conjecture.
These new bands revitalised the Punk image as the epitome of rebellion with their multicoloured Mohicans, studded dog collars, ammunition belts, bog chains and a new level of snarling aggression.

Artist Stand out Tracks

Gang of Four Anthrax
I love a man in a uniform
At home he’s a tourist
Return the gift
Paralysed
A hole in the wallet
The history of the world
To Hell with poverty
Capital (it fails us now)
We live as we dream (alone)
Not great men
The Fall Rebellious jukebox
Industrial estate
An older lover
How I wrote elastic man
C.R.E.E.P
Slates, slags etc
Hip priest
Who makes the Nazis?
Mr Pharmacist
F-olding money
The theme from Sparta FC
50 year old man
Anti Nowhere League So what
Streets of London
GBH City baby attacked by rats
Sick boy
War dogs
Leather bristles studs and acne
UK Subs C.I.D
Stranglehold
Tomorrows girls
Discharge Why?
Visions of war
Hear nothing see nothing say nothing
Protest and survive
Penetration Don’t dictate
Firing squad
Life’s a gamble
Exploited Punk’s not dead
I believe in anarchy
Army life
UK 82
U.S.A
Let’s start a war (Said Maggie one day)
Professionals Just another dream
1-2-3
Join the professionals

New Wave and the Stiff Label – an extract from Rock Routes – a book on Rock Music by Opher Goodwin

New Wave and the Stiff Label

The Stiff label was the home of the largest stable of New Wave artists in Britain. It was a small independent label set up by Jake Riviera and Dave Robinson in 1976 with a £400 loan from Lee Brilleaux of Dr Feelgood. Its premise was to sign up the reservoir of talent neglected by the major labels, give them a good production inspired by the Punk bands, and try to make a success out of it. They claimed they were ‘Undertakers to the industry – if they’re dead – we’ll sign ‘em’.
They became famous and successful for two reasons. Firstly there was the reputation they got for discovering great talent – Ian Dury, Elvis Costello, Wreckless Eric and Madness etc. Secondly there were the brilliant publicity campaigns including the notorious ‘If it ain’t Stiff it ain’t worth a Fuck!’ buttons.
By the end of 1980 they had a £3,500,000 turnover.
The idea for the label was almost entirely Jakes. He had thought it up in 1975 when he was tour manager for Dr Feelgood on their big US Tour. He had noticed that each town seemed to have its own independent label that promoted local talent and got it aired on local radio. If an act was successful locally it then got picked up by the big national companies. By the end of his tour he had formed his own idea of a similar independent label in Britain. He had worked out the logistics and already thought up a number of the publicity stunts that were to capture the public’s attention. All he required was someone with a little experience and money to get it off the ground. He found that man in Dave Robinson.
Dave Robinson had started out as tour manager for Jimi Hendrix in the 1960s. He went on to form the ill-fated Fame pushers promotion company who crashed after their over-hype of Brinsley Swartz. After the collapse of this venture Dave set about creating a studio and recording local talent from the London club scene. He discovered Graham Parker & the Rumour and became so impressed with them that he took over their management. By the time Jake happened upon him he had built up a vast knowledge of local talent and was in a good position, having already recorded most of them, to advise Jake on who was available, what they were like, what their potential was and who to contact.
At the time the London Pub scene was thundering along with the Pub Rock groups – Brinsley Swartz, Dr Feelgood, Chilli-Willi, Graham Parker & Rumours, Eddie & Hotrods and Kilburn & the Highroad. They were exciting and talented but almost completely passed over by the major companies.
Dave and Jake got together and compiled a list of artists that they considered neglected and set about forming a label to promote them. They aptly called it the Stiff label.
Their aim was laudable.
They set out with the intention of treating people as people and not products; to try to show a profit on each release; to avoid paying huge advances that could not be recouped; to promote their artists, give them favourable production, and record them when they were at their peak, It was to pay off. In six years they had released 150 singles and 30% of them had made the charts.
The early work of the label featured a range of work and artists including old-timers like the Pink Fairies and Dave Edmunds, heavy sounds like New Wave Hard Rockers Motorhead, pub rockers recycled such as Ian Dury from Kilburn & the Highroads, Graham Parker & the Rumour, Wreckless Eric, Two-Tone Ska with Madness and newcomers like Elvis Costello, Wreckless Eric, Kirsty McColl and Lene Lovitch, along with a lot of old-timers such as Larry Wallis, Magic Michael, Nick Lowe, Jona Lewie and Mickey Jupp, and US imports such as Rachel Sweet.
At first the label was a small concern with the first singles being released by mail order or off the back of Lorries with only a few independent outlets. But their wise choice of acts soon brought them to attention and they handed over their distribution to Island Records in 1977. It had hit just right – emerging with the rise of Punk. Although none of the acts were strictly Punk they all fed off the energy that was generated by it. It reflected in their production techniques. A good New Wave sound was produced that was more than acceptable to the kids despite the age of some of the artists.
An essential part of the Stiff promotion, apart from the slogans, buttons and T-shirts, was the tremendous Stiff Tours. These ran along the lines of the old package tours of the 1960s. They put all the artists on a bus and set off round the country. The 1977 tour had the amazing line-up of Ian Dury, Elvis Costello, Wreckless Eric, Nick Lowe and Larry Wallis. Apart from the sheer strength of the acts was the importance of the family feeling generated between the bands. It was a feeling that manifested itself to the audiences. There was a great camaraderie between the groups, not only did they travel on the same bus, but stayed in the same hotels, shared the P.A.s, had the same length sets, alternated the billing from night to night and ended the night by jamming together. It was to prove incredibly successful catapulting Ian Dury and Elvis Costello to super-stardom and establishing all the others. It was followed in 1978 with another successful tour featuring Lene Lovitch, Wreckless Eric, Rachel Sweet, Jona Lewie and Mickey Jupp. However a similar type of tour in 1980 – called the Son of Stiff Tour – failed to achieve the same standard of acts or degree of success.
The label survived its first crisis in 1978 when Jake left to form his own Radar Record Label taking Elvis Costello, Yachts and record producer and artist Nick Lowe with him. The label bounced back with Madness, Ian Dury and the Belle Stars and the hits continued.
Stiff will be remembered for the adventurous music it has produced with novel arrangements on numbers such as ‘Lucky Number’ by Lene Lovitch and ‘Sex and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll’ by Ian Dury.
Ian Dury had been crippled by polio at the age of seven and ended up in an institution for severely handicapped children, an experience that was to traumatise him. His personality carried him through art school and teaching as well as performing with Kilburn & the Highroad. The Kilburns went on to become one of the top Pub Rock bands. They broke up in 1976 and Ian and Chas Jankel took a year off to work on ideas. They signed to Stiff in 1977 and their first release was ‘Sex and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll’ which set the pace. It was a step up from anything with the Kilburns and the production was in a different class. It would have been a hit, despite lack of airplay, except that the fact that Stiff had not pressed enough copies. Success came following the first Stiff tour where audiences were won over to his highly original stage act. He used a lot of theatrical props, producing lots of scarves from various pockets like a conjuror, chains, jujus and assorted clothing and paraphernalia. He had shaved his head and used manic stares and gestures. It was a Chaplinesque routine tinged with vaudeville, clowning and theatre, all backed up with a highly proficient funky Rock band. His songs and lyrics were unique. The single ‘Sweet Gene Vincent’, a homage to his idol Gene Vincent who also had a gammy leg, just failed to take off but ‘What a waste’ hit the charts and ‘Hit me with your rhythm stick’ got to number one. The album ‘New Boots and Panties’ was one of the classic albums of that era. Many of his songs were cockney based sex ditties but others were perceptive insights and idealistic wishes. Together they created a lexicon of quality and originality both in lyric and sound.
Elvis Costello was the other major new talent discovered by the label. His real name was Declan Patrick Macmanus. He holds the distinction of being one of the very first acts to be signed by the label in 1976. That came about when he turned up at the label’s office with a demo and his talents were instantly recognised. His strengths lay in the novel arrangements of his songs coupled with his distinctive vocals and imaginative lyrics. He released a number of singles ‘Less than zero’, ‘Alison’ and ‘The angels want to wear my red shoes’ without success. Then he scored with the album ‘My aim is true’. Following the success of that album and the media attention lavished on the Stiff tour he hit the charts with ‘Watching the detectives’. His diminutive size and Buddy Holly looks became a household fixture. He left Stiff with Jake Riviera and proceeded to have a number of big hits with ‘(I don’t want to go to) Chelsea’, ‘Pump it up’ and ‘Oliver’s Army’. He tried his hand at production with the Specials first album. Since then he has broken America, set up his own label and recorded albums in a range of styles including Country.
Of the other Stiff artists many of them had successful singles and albums but none were as unlucky as Wreckless Eric. Despite a string of brilliantly original songs – ‘Whole wide world’, ‘Pop song’, ‘Semaphore message from the graveyard’, and ‘Reconnez Cherie’ – failed to establish himself and take off into a long term success. Even so his nasally tinged Hull accent and crazy stage act has made him a cult figure with a big following. Besides it is impossible to imagine anyone like Eric becoming a super-star.
Mickey Jupp came out of the Southend Rock scene in 1963 in the Orioles and then Legend before emerging on Stiff for a short run with a ten piece band and then disappearing again.
Jona Lewie, who has a Bsc in Sociology, went out to the USA in the 1960s and played with many of the old Blues singers such as Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup. On returning to England he played with Brett Marvin and the Thunderbolts and then had a minor hit with ‘Seaside Shuffle’ under the name Terry Dactyl & the Dinosaurs. He joined Stiff in 1978 and immediately had hits with ‘In the Kitchen at parties’ and ‘Stop the cavalry’.
Lene Lovitch was born in the USA with the name of Mariene Premilovich. They moved to Hull and she grew up in Hull where she had the distinction of going to school with Sue Goodall. At eighteen she moved to London and tried to get involved with the theatre but ended up busking and Go-Go Dancing. She joined Stiff in 1977 following an introduction from Charlie Gillet and hit with ‘Lucky Number’ and ‘Say when’. On tour she impressed with her elaborate costumes, weird hairstyles, theatrical movements and distinctive vocal style. She then toured on the continent and returned to find the weird theatrical niche she had occupied taken over by the likes of Toyah, Hazel O’Connor and Kate Bush.
Kirsty MacColl was the daughter of the Folk singer Ewan. She left a couple of times and returned and had a number of hits as well as writing songs for Tracey Ullman and doing a lot of backing vocals. She went on to have more success with Polydor. She was tragically killed in a boating accident in Mexico.
Rachel Sweet was born in Akron Ohio and entered Show-Biz at the age of eight when she starred in a commercial. She went on to record a minor Country hit when she was twelve and while she was still a young girl, dragging her Mum round as chaperone, she signed to Stiff and straight away set off on the British tour following that up with the hit ‘B-A-B-Y’.
Nick Lowe started out in the 1960s with Kippington Lodge and then Brinsley Schwartz, which although it failed as a Progressive Rock Band did well as a Pub Rock band. He split from them in 1975 and joined Stiff as both a recording producer and artist. He has the distinction of recording Stiff’s first single ‘So it goes’. Nick also produced records by non-Stiff artists such as Dr Feelgood and Graham Parker & the Rumour. He left Stiff with Jake in 1977 to set up Radar Records and had success with ‘Breaking Glass’.
Stiff records had an exuberance and energy about them. It was a rougher sound with more artistic licence and clear sound production. Like most independent labels it allowed a more radical approach to music and a greater degree of individuality through not censoring or restricting extremes. At times this approach can come across as amateurish but this is compensated for by the energy and commitment of the performance. The ‘feel’ of the label comes across on the ‘Be Stiff’ album. Every artist produced their own version of the Devo number ‘Be Stiff’ in their own individual style.
Whenever there is a boom in independent labels there is a burst of creativity as the undiscovered grassroots find expression and their ideas are allowed to develop rather than being stifled in the middle-of-the-road, ultra-safe policies of the major record labels that prevents individuality and ends up with a bland product.
Stiff were not the only source of British New Wave music but they dominated the market.
The retrospective box set of Stiff records was very interesting. The first disc is vibrant and as you progress you can almost feel the energy drain away. You don’t play the fourth disc.

Artist Stand out tracks
Elvis Costello Alison
The angels want to wear my red shoes
Miracle man
Welcome to the working week
Blame it on Cain
I’m not angry
Waiting for the end of the world
Pump it up
Little triggers
(I don’t want to go to) Chelsea
You belong to me
Lip service
This years girls
Lipstick vogue
Oliver’s army
Accidents will happen
Senior service
Watching the detectives
Goon squad
Two little Hitlers
Busy bodies
Sunday’s best
I can’t stand up for falling down
Men called uncle
5ive gears in reverse
Beaten to the punch
I stand accused
Black and white world
Motel matches
New Amsterdam
Secondary modern
Clubland
A good year for the roses
Almost blue
Ian Dury Sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll
Billericay Dickie
What a waste
Sweet Gene Vincent
Wake up and make love to me
Hit me with your rhythm stick
Reasons to be cheerful pt 3
Plaistow Patricia
Clever Trevor
I’m partial to your abracadabra
My old man
Inbetweenies
Quiet
Don’t ask me
This is what we find
There aint half been some clever bastards
Lullaby for Francis
Common as muck
I want to be straight
Sueperman’s big sister
Pardon
Delusions of grandeur
Yes and no (Paula)
Hey, Hey Take me away
Oh Mr Peanut
Fucking Ada
That’s not all
You’ll see glimpses
Spasticus Autisicus
Really glad you came
Wreckless Eric (I’d go the) whole wide world
Reconnez Cherie
Semaphore signals
Be stiff
Personal hygiene
Take the cash
I wish it would rain
Veronica
A Popsong
Mickey Jupp Old Rock and Roller
Pilot
Lene Lovich Lucky number
Say when
I think we’re alone now
Bird song
Rachel Sweet B-A-B-Y
Kirsty Kirsty MacColl There’s a guy works down the chip shop swears he’s Elvis
They don’t know
A new England
Days
Miss Otis Regrets
What do pretty girls do
Don’t come the cowboy with me sonny Jim
Fairy tale of New York
Jona Lewie You’ll always find me in the kitchen at parties
Stop the cavalry

Other New Wave acts

Artist Stand out tracks
Squeeze Up the junction
Cool for cats
Labelled with love
Pulling Mussels (from the shell)
Tempted
Black coffee in bed
Take me I’m yours
Slap & tickle
Goodbye girl
Flying Lizards Money
Pretenders Brass in pocket
Tattooed love boys
Stop your sobbing
I go to sleep
XTC Making plans for Nigel
Senses working overtime
Generals & Majors
Eurythmics Sweet dreams
Love is a stranger

British 1970s Punk Music – a section from Rock Routes – a book on Rock Music by Opher Goodwin.

British 1970s Punk Music

 

The British Punk Scene started up in 1975 as a reaction to the deterioration in Rock music. By the mid 1970s the revolution had gone out of music. The rebellious and exciting bands of the 1960s generation had either been wiped out or had become increasingly sophisticated or commercial. The raw excitement had dissipated. The ‘stars’ had become millionaires, jet setting around, totally divorced from their roots and the lives of ordinary people. These ‘revolutionary rebels’ were now courted by Princesses, Heads of State and assorted dignitaries. Their concerts were held in massive stadia where for a huge price you could stand in discomfort to watch some distant specks on a stage perform some distorted versions of past hits. They might enliven the experience with fireworks, lasers, lighting and props but much of the music had become so orchestrated and pseudo-complex that it was no longer stimulating or easily accessible. It did not relate to life on the street. You might as well buy the album, put on the headphones and listen to it in comfort. It was no longer Rock Music. Rock had lost the intimacy of live performance, the gut excitement and the ‘stars’ had lost their street credibility and James Dean craziness.

1975 and 1976 were the years of hope and optimism. While the future looked bleak; unemployment was rife and the kids no longer had a voice; they were cut off from the emotional release of Rock Music; there was hope.

For young kids they could not relate to the sophisticated intellectual qualities of TechnoFlash and could not conceive they would ever become good enough to perform it. It left them with no impetus to join in. There was nothing but morbid nostalgia for times that had not been theirs. The only avenue open or performance was the Pub Rock scene with its diet of R&B standards.

This was when the Sex Pistols, rapidly followed by a host of similar bands, burst upon the scene. They were manna from heaven.

The bands were made up of young kids, many of them from working class backgrounds, who had completely broken with past music traditions. They were up to their ears with frustration, anger and rebellion. They were bursting with pent-up energy and looking to vent it. They had a lot to kick against. They were the written off generation. They emerged like an army of James Dean Visigoths.

In defiance of the established Rock Bands they coined the derisory term Punk which had been a derogatory term used to describe young kids who did not know what was going on. The term had been deployed previously when describing the Garage Punk bands of the 1960s. A music that was brash, rough and ready, produced by young American kids in response to the British Beat bands. Punk had become synonymous with rebellion and that was just what the British Punk scene was all about.

Punk music was a break with the past, an attempt to produce something new, basic, exciting and angry. They did not go back to their roots or even learn to play too well. They just got up on stage and played how they felt – angry. The songs were about being lied to, cheated, misled, bored, disillusioned and violent. The emphasis was on speed. The quality of the playing did not matter so much as the power. Though, contrary to popular mythology, many of them were quite proficient. The numbers were short and basic with no drawn out solos.

The bands played in the small clubs and pubs and were crude and vulgar. They did not play the usual Music Biz games. They made up heir own rules. The establishment panicked.  After the Sex Pistols swore on Thames Television on Bill Grundy’s Today show there was outrage. The Tory Bernard Brook-Partidge they’d be vastly improved by sudden death and the Daily Mirror had the headline ‘The Filth & the Fury!’ Punk Rock was up and running.

However there was a brief hiatus. Using the pretext of violence and anarchy councils banned them, promoters backed off and established stars and the music press ridiculed them. They were portrayed as unmusical thugs, a passing phase of no consequence. They were too crude and vulgar.

But then the music press and record labels had vested interests in promoting their ‘stars’. The entire scene was written off before it even got going. Where was the product? These Punk Bands were churning out an antagonistic ‘noise’ on cheap gear in small halls. They were not producing music that was easily assimilatable by the media and was not going to be commercial. It did not appeal to the average punter. Punk was thrusting two fingers up at the whole music establishment. The establishment was based on profit. How were you going to make money out of something that couldn’t get played on the Beeb or Top of the Pops? How was it going to sell and make money?

They hadn’t reckoned with the anarchic marketing skills of McLaren or the fervour of the kids. They were bursting for something new they could call their own.

As with the 1960s hippie generation there was suddenly an ‘Us and Them’. Members of the old guard were ‘Boring old farts’ and there were the instantly successful slogans ‘Never trust a Hippie’ and ‘Anarchy’. Suddenly the old revolutionaries were part of the establishment and were as much a focus for rebellion as any Tory Minister.

The kids had something they could identify with. The bands were theirs. They came from the same streets. They lived the same lives. They could see them, get near them, touch them and be part of the same scene as them. The music was so basic that anyone could pick up a guitar, learn a few chords, plug in and join in. It was Skiffle all over again – this time with anarchy. A whole generation found that they had a new means of expression and could kick out at all the crap they despised.

No matter how original or how much something wants to cut off from its roots nothing comes from nowhere. Punk was no exception. It had been bubbling under with Pub Rock, building up a head of steam waiting for the right stimulus to propel into full blooded flight. That stimulus came from the New York scene and in particular the New York Dolls. The man that initiated it with the adoption of the sound, attitude, style and fashion was, love him or hate him, Malcolm McLaren.

Fresh from his management of the New York Dolls Malcolm was the owner of a Chelsea Road clothes boutique that went under the provocative name of ‘SEX’. It specialised in bondage gear but Malcolm, working with his girlfriend Vivienne Westwood, began pushing the Punk style of slashed clothing, safety pins and spiked hair he had stolen from Richard Hell. He also set about trying to establish a live club scene similar to New York’s and wanted to put together a band that epitomise this Punk philosophy.

Fortunately for McLaren there were already a bunch of up and coming musicians who were impressed with the New York scene and had begun experimenting with their own aggressive style. When Malcolm started to introduce individuals with a view to putting together the Sex Pistols he was working within a frame that was already beginning to coalesce. He was merely the best at promoting it.

The marketing was essential but it was what Malcolm was good at. He sorted the confrontational name from the name of his shop partly as a means of promoting the shop as much as the band. The clearly identifiable fashion was equally important and had to be identified with a clear philosophy – in this case Anarchy and a clear schism with everything that had gone before.

Spreading out from Malcolm’s SEX boutique, fuelled by the notoriety of the Sex Pistols, a fashion craze strongly associated with the new youth anarchic stance began to sweep the nation. Once again it was easy to recognise your subcultural tribe from the overt signals – Spiky hair, safety pins, leather jackets, chains, razor blades, swastikas, torn clothes, tight jeans, shoes painted silver. The kids loved it. Overnight the long hair, flares and hippie paraphernalia were dumped. It was all associated with grunts of ‘Boring’, a snarling indifference, general vulgarity, and a disdain for anything that moved. It just could not fail.

It was totally uncompromising, rebellious, arrogant and wild and its ethos was summed up in the Pogo dancing and practice of spitting at the bands. They were openly courting outrage.

What started off as a minority appeal festering in the doldrums of Pub Rock, took off in a blaze of publicity surrounding the rise and fall of the Sex Pistols. It took off to undreamed heights as the bands ventured forth from their small number of places like the 100 Club and Roxy.

Even though the Pistols were soon banned from appearing just about anywhere the genie was already out of the bottle.

The movement was fanned by New York bands who came across to London – the New York Dolls, Ramones, Heartbreakers and Patti Smith all made ecstatic appearances. There were also the highly provocative singles released by the Sex Pistols and the title of their first album ‘Never mind the bollocks’. It threw petrol on the fire. The Pistols swore and snarled their way to number one and stormed the country. They ended up with a series of top ten singles and made a film ‘The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle’ exposing all the inner workings of the music business. In the process they created a whole Youth Subculture, got signed by a number of record company’s who got jumpy and dumped them with large compensation, and made a brilliant and highly controversial in ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ in which they could write extremely good and perceptive lyrics. They also unleashed both Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious on to an unsuspecting public. Despite all this they died the death in America.

The American tour brought things to a head and they split up amid chaos and anarchy. The remnants, minus Johnny, going on to record a last swan song with the bank robber Ronnie Biggs. Sid went solo and then got arrested for stabbing his girlfriend Nancy Spungen to death and was then found dead from an overdose of heroin. You can’t get much more Punk than that.

The Sex Pistols might have been the fulcrum for all the other Bands involved in the Punk explosion but they were amply supported by a series of other bands who had evolved along similar lines, at the same time, in a kind of parallel evolution. These were rapidly joined by a host of newcomers who were rapidly formed to crawl out of the woodwork.

One of the first Punk bands was London SS. They were almost mythical having Mick Jones, Tony James and Bryan James who later turned up in the Clash, Generation X and the Damned respectively. They formed in 1975 and based their sound on East Coast bands the MC5, Stooges and New York Dolls. They folded in January 1976 without even playing a proper gig but their influence was extensive and legendary.

There were five major other bands in the beginning – the Stranglers, Damned, Clash, Sham 69 and Stiff Little Fingers.

The Clash were the most poetic and political favouring an aggressive delivery and anarchic working class anger expressed articulately on early numbers such as ‘White riot’ and ‘London’s burning’. Their message was easy to assimilate: they were tired of being on society’s slagheap; they wanted the kids to stop complaining about it, get up off their arses and do something about it. They mixed in a measure of reggae which they recognised as having a similar message. They went out of their way to express complete disdain for like lifestyles of Rock Stars like Mick Jagger saying that they should use their wealth to do something for the kids who had given it to them.

The Stranglers were a different sort of band. They were older to the others and had a history of playing pub R&B. Their music was consequently less thrash and bash and more sophisticated. They used a range of styles and tempos. The main reason they were so closely associated with Punk was because of their menacing image, the aggression and violence. It often spilt out on to the dance floor.

The Damned released the first Punk single on the Stiff label with ‘New Rose’. The Damned used a theatrical approach with Dave Vanian dressed up as Dracula, Rat Scabies cultivated uncouthness and Captain Sensible’s fairy suits.

Sham 69 were created by Jim Pursey in Hersham, Surrey. They were one of the originals at the 100 Club and gained a cult following with their aggressive act and uncompromising stance. They finally broke through in 1978 with ‘Borstal Breakout’ and split in 1980 after having been adopted by racist skinheads and having violent outbursts at their gigs.

Stiff Little Fingers were championed by John Peel who was quick to latch on to Punk music and push it through his shows. They came over from Ireland with a series of furious songs reflecting the Irish ‘Troubles’. The experience of living in such a torn society resonated perfectly with the Punk scene and they launched into it with passion and fury. Their songs reflected the frustration of what it was like to be caught up in the midst of such conflict.

They were joined by a host of other excellent bands – Siouxsie & the Banshees, the Skids, Ruts, Angelic Upstarts, Adverts, X-Ray Specs, Boomtown Rats, 999, Buzzcocks, Only ones, Lurkers, Varukers, Vibrators, Skids, Adam & the Ants, Jam, Boys, Patrick Fitzgerald, John Doctors of Madness, Generation X, Rezillos, Undertones and Slits. Some of these like the Boomtown Rats, who took their name from a gang in Woody Guthrie’s ‘Bound for Glory’, and were formed by Bob Geldhof in Ireland, the Buzzcocks from Bolton with Pete Shelley’s great lyrics, and the Jam, Paul Weller’s Mod band, went on to achieve considerable chart success. The others settled for cult status but they were all contributors to a phenomenon that shook the world. The Doctors of Madness were a proto-punk band put together by Richard Strange AKA Kid Strange with Urban Blitz on electric violin, Stoner on bass and Peter DiLemma on drums. They created a sound that was redolent of the Velvet Underground and used a lot of theatre, make-up and costumes. They were supported by the likes of the Sex Pistols and should have been a lot bigger. They were ahead of the time.

The success of the Punk scene drew a lot of energy back into the scene and set up a rich field of Independent labels. This took the power away from the major labels whose policy of going for the lowest common denominator had the effect of always playing safe and watering down the music to cater for a mass market. The independents were passionate and raw. They were content with a niche market. They were idealistic and extreme.

As soon as it was apparent hat this was more than a passing phase the Major labels were all over it looking to sign up the new talent. It revitalised the music business and provided fertile soil for the emergence of British New Wave bands.

The result of Punk was fourfold:

  1. A number of US New Wave bands received a new lease of life and gained an audience in Britain – Ramones, Patti Smith, Iggy & the Stooges, MC5, Heartbreakers, New York Dolls, Blondie, Talking Heads and Runaways.
  2. There were a number of British New Wave bands who were inspired by the energy of Punk – Ian Dury & the Blockheads, Elvis Costello & Attractions, Nick Lowe, Wreckless Eric, Pretenders, Pogues, Billy Bragg, Kirsty McColl, Jonah Lewie, etc.
  3. The music industry received a much needed kick up the backside.
  4. The US Punk and New Wave bands got off the ground – Devo, Dead Kennedy’s, Black Flag, Geza X, Bad Brains, Flipper and D.O.A.

 

Punk went forward into a second generation of Punk bands in the 1980s, none of whom achieved the success of the first wave. It got more extreme – people cutting themselves with glass or razors, biting heads off lizards, urinating and defecating, Nazi slogans, OI and skinhead racism, and anything that tried to outdo the Sex Pistols, shock or was in extreme bad taste.

 

Artist Stand out tracks
Sex Pistols Pretty vacant

God save the queen

Holidays in the sun

EMI

No feelings

Problems

Liar

Bodies

Submission

Anarchy in the UK

Stepping stone

Lazy sod

No fun

I wane be me

Clash London’s burning

I’m so bored with the USA

White riot

Career opportunities

Garageland

Police and thieves

Hate and war

Tommy gun

Julie’s in the drug squad

(White man) in Hammersmith Palais

Stay free

London calling

Rudie can’t fail

Spanish bombs

Guns of Brixton

Brand new Cadillac

Lost in the supermarket

Jimmie Jazz

The magnificent seven

Police on my back

Know your rights

Straight to hell

Rock the Casbah

Should I stay or should I go

This is radio clash

Damned Neat neat neat

New rose

Stiff Little Fingers Alternative Ulster

Suspect device

Barbed wire love

State of emergency

Wasted life

White noise

Johnny was

No more of that

Doesn’t make it alright

Nobody’s hero

I don’t like you

Fly the flag

Gotta get away

Wait and see

Bits of kids

Is that what you fought the war for?

You can’t say crap on the radio

Bloody Sunday

Buzzcocks Oh Shit!

Ever fallen in love with someone

Fast cars

Orgasm addict

What do I get?

Noise annoys

I don’t mind

Sham 69 Borstal breakout

If the kids are united

Hurry up Harry

Hersham boys

Tell us the truth

Who’s generation!

Angels with dirty faces

Ruts In a rut

Babylon’s burning

Jah wars

Staring at the rude boys

Boomtown Rats I don’t like Mondays

Looking after No. 1

Mary of the 4th form

She’s so modern

Rat trap

Someone’s looking at you

Jam In the city

Modern world

David Watts

Down in the tube station at midnight

The Eton rifles

Going underground

That’s entertainment

All round the world

A Bomb in Wardour Street

News of the world

When you’re young

All Mod Cons

Wasteland

Little boy soldiers

Start

Town called Malice

Undertones Jimmy Jimmy

Teenage kicks

My perfect cousin

It’s going to happen

Adverts One chord wonders

Bored teenagers

Gary Gilmour’s eyes

Skids Sweet suburbia

Into the valley

X-Ray Specs I am a cliché

Bondage up yours

The day the world turned day-glo

Germ-free adolescents

999 Emergency

Homicide

Stranglers Down in the sewer

No more heroes

Peaches

Go Buddy Go

Goodbye Toulouse

Hanging around

(Get a) Grip (On yourself)

Choosie Susie

Peasant in the big shitty

I feel like a wog

Something better change

Bring on the nubiles

Nice ‘n’ Sleazy

Nuclear device (Wizard of Aus)

(Don’t bring) Harry

Just like nothing on Earth

Golden Brown

La Follie

Siouxsie & Banshees Hong Kong Garden

Helter skelter

Overground

Poppy day

Christine

Spellbound

Rezillos Flying saucer attack

Somebody’s gonna get their head kicked in tonight

Top of the pops

Slits Typical girls

Instant hit

Vibrators We vibrate

Baby baby

Stiff little fingers

Automatic lover

Boys Sick on you

I don’t care

First time

Adam & the Ants Antmusic

Dog eats dog

King of the wild frontier

Doctors of Madness Doctors of madness

Sons of survival

Billy watch out

Mainlines

Saints (Australian) I’m Stranded
Tom Robinson Band 2-4-6-8 Motorway

(Sing if you’re) Glad to be gay

Don’t take no for an answer

Right on sister

Ain’t gonna take it

I’m alright Jack

Martin

Up against the wall

Too good to be true

Better decide which side you’re on

Power in the darkness

Bully for you

Winter of ‘79

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The Underground Folk/Acoustic Movement of the late 1960s – An extract from Rock Routes – A Book on Rock Music by Opher Goodwin

Everything you need to know about Rock Music.

The Underground Folk/Acoustic Movement of the late 1960s

 

The radicalisation of Folk music by Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs ensured that it was seen as a viable music form by 1960s Freaks. It inspired many new and established artists to begin producing their own material and move away from the more traditional Folk and Folk/Blues. There was a greater social and political message along with a different perspective. They were reflecting the philosophy of the new alternative culture. In part they were following in the tradition of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie but this was tinged with a unique point of view. These artists were not Folk singers. They had evolved into singer-songwriters who just happened to use an acoustic guitar to express their art.

The Greenwich Village scene had reached out to inspire people across the world. Both the young undiscovered Dylan and Paul Simon visited London and exchanged ideas. The British scene was very different to the American version.

The scene was a little schizophrenic with old Folk/Blues and contemporary interpretations of Traditional British Folk sitting cheek and jowl with the new contemporary songs. Davy Graham was producing new and complicated instrumentals like Anji and Bert Jansch ‘Needle of Death’ and ‘Do you hear me now?’.

Folk clubs like Les Cousins would feature both but began to push the scene more towards the contemporary side. A new generation of singer-songwriters were appearing on the scene led by Roy Harper, Jackson C Frank, Al Stewart, Ralph McTell, Michael Chapman, Sandy Denny and John Martyn. They were joined by the likes of Paul Simon who dropped in from the States prior to his later success.

As well as this there was the rise of the Folk Bands with their brands of Folk Rock. These included the Strawbs, Incredible String Band, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Fotheringay, Fairport Convention, Pentangle, Blonde on Blonde and Lindisfarne.

Donovan had by this time moved out of the acoustic scene into Rock, psychedelic, jazz and Pop.

Roy Harper was one of the most influential exponents on the British Underground and, in his own sometimes very stoned and zany way, articulated the feelings and philosophies of the day with a sparkling poetic, articulate edge. He was outspoken inventive and musically proficient with a biting, caustic social observation. He interspersed his aggressive social tirades with the most beautiful love songs and occasional comical songs a la a zonked George Formby. His stage act was not geared towards commercial success and neither were many of his epic songs. They were firmly aimed at the Freak counter-culture. His marathon songs like McGoohan’s Blues were poetic masterpieces of scathing diatribe and perceptive social observation but choosing to work in such a large canvas and intricate setting made it less accessible to the commercial market. Songs of up to thirty minutes in duration were unlikely to attract a lot of radio play even if they were brilliant.

Coupled with this Roy treated a gig as if it was his front room. He chose to interact with the audience in a real way instead of putting on a performance. He would stop mid-song to explain an idea that had come into his head. He would ramble between songs for longer than the duration of the song itself. For true aficionados this was a fascinating insight but for more casual listeners this was frustrating. They expected a slick performance not a sharing of minds. To top this off, right when Roy was on the brink of success, he would stop a performance to run down a popular music journal or castigate the journalists attending the concert. He even went so far as to admonish the Beeb during a live BBC radio show. It did not endear him to the powers that be. He refused to produce Pop ditties for the record company or tone down his more extreme numbers. There were none of the show-biz games necessary to gain stardom. What you saw was what you got. There was no polished performance or barriers between stage and audience. His albums contained poetry and bizarreness. He was outspoken and unrepentant and even occasionally a complete lunatic. It all added up to a totally committed musical genius who was destined, despite the large number of converts rallying to the cause – Jimmy Page, Keith Moon, John Bonham, Dave Gilmour, Ian Anderson,, Chris Spedding, Ronnie Lane and the rest – to remain a cult figure of considerable importance, a musical pathfinder and producer of an exceptional art but not achieve the breakthrough and recognition his music deserved. To many he was the outrageous loony who utterly rejected compromise or concession.

It was all part of the complex psychiatrically confused personality that was the result of a string of events. His mother had died shortly after his birth, he’d run away from home at the age of fourteen, joined the army, got two girlfriends pregnant, become imprisoned, got committed to a mental home, broke out, bummed round Europe busking, committed acts of vandalism, graffitied the Town Hall, and finally settled to become a tortured maniac on the music scene lauded by the Who, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. The biggest mystery of his career is how he had managed to survive for so long and continue to produce music of such incredibly high quality. He used the fabric of his amazing life, his loves, hates and experiences, to illustrate his songs. They were torn from the depths of his life. To listen to a Harper song was to glimpse a mind that was clear and able to pierce the reality of society with an objective pair of scalpels. He dissected it out in front of you.

The other artists on the British Folk scene were less challenging.

Bert Jansch had come down from Glasgow to create a raw Folk/Blues sound that suited both interpretations of Folk Blues stuff. He became a fixture at Les Cousins and the Troubadour with strong political songs like ‘Anti-Apartheid’ and ‘Needle of death’. His popularity increased when Donovan did a cover of his ‘Do you hear me now?’ on his ‘Universal Soldier’ EP. He teamed up with the mellower John Renbourn and their styles gelled. They ended up performing together and recording ‘Bert & John’. They later joined with Jacqui McShee, Danny Thompson and Terry Cox to form Pentangle. Bert’s third album ‘Jack Orion’ was, unusually for the time, mainly traditional songs.

John Renbourn was a more traditional type of Folk Blues guitarist and recorded a number of more traditionally based albums with Bert and later with Pentangle.

Anne Briggs was a wild and free spirit who exercised a great deal of influence without ever realising her potential. She was so erratic that she had a habit of missing gigs, getting drunk and doing crazy stunts. She did not enjoy public performance and did not record much either. Her first album was mainly traditional songs done a cappella but her second album was her own songs with acoustic guitar.

Al Stewart first appeared as a second guitar on the Jackson C Frank album. He went on to develop his own songs on ‘Bedsitter images’, ‘Love Chronicles’ which featured the infamous long title track which was the first recorded track to feature the word fucking, and the ‘Zero she flies’. It made him a regular favourite on the scene. The Melody Maker seemed to delight at pitching him against Roy Harper in a sort of battle of the Folkies. It was no contest. Al went on to his with ‘Year of the Cat’ in the 1970s. Roy produced a superior body of great songs.

David McWilliams was a singer songwriter who was not part of the Folk scene but was pushed by the Pirate Radio stations and had a hit with ‘Days of Pearly Spencer’.

Ralph McTell had a pleasant easy going nature and became successful with ‘Streets of London’. He wrote his own songs but was also keen on traditional ragtime.

Davey Graham was a pioneer of the acoustic guitar. He fused Moroccan music to his acoustic folk blues to create a new style seen on numbers like the incredible ‘Anji’. He later joined forces with the traditional singer Shirley Collins to produce a groundbreaking collusion ‘Folk Blues and Beyond’. Davey’s dalliance with heroin put an end to the development of his career.

Michael Chapman from Hull achieved a cult status with the albums ‘Rainmaker’ and then ‘Fully qualified survivor’.

Nick Drake was largely unrecognised in his own time. He recorded three albums but disliked public performance and rarely did gigs consequently never really promoted them. He suffered badly from depression probably not helped by his heavy use of Hash and committed suicide in the mid 1970s. Only later was the true worth of his genius appreciated.

John Martyn blended Folk and Blues as can be heard on his first album ‘London Conversation’ but then began adding Jazz elements as on Solid air – a homage to Nick Drake. He formed a partnership with his wife Beverley and after a series of albums, divorced, hit the drink and drugs and self-exploded

Jackson C Frank came across to England from Canada in search of classic cars in 1965. He had been badly burnt in a fire at his High School and was after spending the compensation pay-out. He recorded a ground breaking album that set the whole tone for contemporary music. It was melodic and hugely different from anything that had come before. He befriended Roy Harper, shacked up with Sandy Denny and settled into the Folk scene. Unfortunately he seemed to get a block and no new material ensued. He left England for America, got married, divorced and became a vagrant, had his eye shot out and died in the mid 1970s; such a tragic life for such a talented, gentle individual.

Martyn Carthy is like the father of the traditional contemporary style. Although he mainly sang traditional songs he did them in a very modern way and his guitar style was extremely well developed. Bob Dylan learnt a lot of old traditional songs and melodies that he later used as the basis of a lot of his songs.

As well as these home grown singer-songwriters the scene was visited by a number of American luminaries. Bob Dylan came over early on in his career and Paul Simon stayed a while recording his first solo album ‘The Paul Simon Song Book’. In the late 1960s the guitarists Stefan Grossman and John Fahey were regulars.

 

 

Artist Stand out tracks
Bert Jansch Needle of Death

Veronica

Strolling down the highway

It don’t bother me

Do you hear me now

Ant-Apartheid

Oh how your love is strong

Courting blues

Soho

Angie

John Renbourn Louisiana blues

Down on the Barge

Beth’s song

Nobody’s fault but mine

The wildest pig in captivity

Another Monday

The Earle of Salsibury

Anne Briggs Black water side

Wishing well

The time has come

Roy Harper China girl

Sophisticated beggar

Forever

My friend

Freak Street

You don’t need money

McGoohan’s Blues

She’s the one

All you need is

What you have

Aging raver

In a beautiful ramblin’ mess

Circle

I hate the Whiteman

Another day

Francesca

Tom Tiddler’s ground

East of the sun

How does it feel

Al Stewart Pretty golden hair

Samuel oh how you’ve changed

A long way down from Stephanie

Love chronicles

Life and life only

In Brooklyn

Ballad of Mary Foster

Old Compton Street Blues

My enemies have sweet voices

Zero she flies

Gethsemane again

David McWilliams Days of Pearly Spencer

Hiroshima

Jackson C Frank Just like anything

Dialogue

Blues run the game

Michael Chapman Postcards of Scarborough
Ralph McTell 8 frames a second

Zimmerman blues

Streets of London

Michael in the garden

Factory girl

Clown

Davy Graham Anji
Sandy Denny Who knows where the time goes
Nick Drake Time has told me

River man

Way too blue

Fruit tree

The thoughts of Mary Jane

Hazy Jane

Northern sky

Bryter Layter

Pink moon

John Martyn I’d rather be the Devil

Solid air

May you never

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Rock Routes – Later Sixties New York Scene – a Book on Rock Music by Opher Goodwin.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Rock Music!

Later New York Scene

 

The New York street culture was very different to the more laid-back style of the West Coast San Franciscan scene. New York was urban, bleak and tough. Here the underground seemed a long way from the Peace and Love of San Francisco. The alternative culture here was more likely to be based round crime, prostitution, homosexuality, transvestism and hard drugs. The music would be harsher to reflect this.

The Velvet Underground, Fugs and Holy Modal Rounders reflected this. The Fugs, who took their name from the William Golding novel ‘Lord of the Flies’, started up in 1963 and were a left-over bunch of Beat Poets and Film makers from Greenwich Village who at times incorporated the Beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso. They finally settled around a nucleus of Ed Sanders, Tuli Kupferberg and Ken Weaver. They set out to outrage and subvert pushing back the boundaries of sex, drugs and social politics. Right from the start they adopted street theatre and extreme appearance to shock the establishment and push the boundaries. They made the Mothers of Invention look extremely sophisticated. They set out to protest about the war and celebrate sex under the slogan ‘Grope for Peace’. Their album ‘The Fugs’ was ground-breaking and their 1968 album ‘It crawled into my hand, honest’ was one of the great albums.

The Velvet Underground were the house band at Andy Warhol ‘The Exploding Inevitable’. They were an amazing diverse collection of individuals – the German Model – Nico – the Garage Punk – Lou Reed – the guitarist – Sterling Morrison – the Avante-Garde classically trained musician – John Cale – and the female drummer – Mo Tucker. The intermingling of John Cale’s weirdness to the Garage Punk of Lou’s song writing, with Nico’s drawled and heavily accented vocals, held together by Sterling and Mo created a unique sound that was to prove extremely influential to the future Punk sound of the mid 1970s New Wave. The subject matter was to do with heroin, transvestism and sado-masochism.

The Holy Modal Rounders (Peter Stampfel & Steve Weber) started life as a Folk Blues duo, then joined up with the Fugs and reformed in the late 60s as a Psychedelic Folk band. Their music was featured on a couple of tracks in Easy Rider.

 

Artist Stand out tracks
Velvet Underground Heroin

Waiting for the man

Run run run

White light white heat

Sunday morning

I’ll be your mirror

There she goes again

All tomorrow’s parties

Venus in furs

Femme fatal

Here she comes now

Candy says

Pale blue eyes

Beginning to see the light

Sweet Jane

Fugs Boobs a lot

Kill for peace

Wide wide river

Doing alright

Dirty old man

I couldn’t get high

Nothing

My baby done left me

Slum Goddess

War kills babies

Supergirl

Coca cola douche

Saran Wrap

Turn on Tune in Drop out

Life is strange

Johnny Pissoff  meets the red angel

Life is funny

Crystal Liaison

Marijuana

The divine toe

Holy Modal Rounders Don’t Bogart that joint

The STP song

The Bird song

Soldiers joy

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The Early Greenwich Village Bands of 1964-1965 – an extract from Rock Routes – a book on Rock Music by Opher Goodwin

The Early Greenwich Village Bands of 1964-1965

 

In the early 1960s there were four main groups that were heavily inter-related. They were the Journeymen, The Big Three, the Halifax Three and the Mugwumps.

 

Personnel:

 

Journeymen Big Three Halifax Three Mugwumps
John Philips

Scott McKenzie

Dick Weissman

Cass Elliot

Jim Hendricks

Tim Rose

Denny Doherty

Zalman Yanovsky

Pat Lacroix

Cass Elliot

Jim Hendricks

Denny Doherty

Zalman Yanovsky

 

There was much movement between the various bands. People came and went and Michelle Gilliam, John Philips wife, joined. After a spell working in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico the Mugwumps headed to LA to join the Folk Rock scene and morphed into the Mamas and Papas. Zalman Yanovsky stayed in New York and joined up with John Sebastian to form the Lovin’ Spoonful. The Lovin’ Spoonful took off in New York and played in Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco helping kick the West Coast scene into ignition.

 

Artist Stand out tracks
Lovin’ Spoonful Younger generation

Nashville cats

Daydream

Do you believe in magic

You didn’t have to be so nice

Summer in the city

Did you ever have to make up your mind?

Mugwumps Searchin’

You can’t judge a book by its cover

Big Three It makes a long time man feel bad
Halifax Three Bull train

The man who wouldn’t sing along with Mitch

 

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Rock ‘n’ Roll Music – Rock Routes – a book on Rock Music

Rock ‘n’ Roll Music

Rock ‘n’ Roll is nothing more than black Rhythm & Blues played by white musicians with a bit of Country & Western thrown in for good measure. There are exceptions to this but this definition allows us to see the complicated interwoven relationship that exists between the music that became known as Rock ‘n’ Roll and its black cousin Rhythm ‘n’ Blues. Throughout their short evolution the two styles have become so closely associated that it is almost impossible to distinguish one from the other. Indeed there is a great deal of confusion as to which type of music an artist is playing within the confines of a single performance or album.
Does it matter?
Not really. It only matters if you want to explore the various avenues that lead to the stuff you love.
You might find a few more things to get enthusiastic about.
You may get to understand why you appreciate it.
It is possible to trace the roots of Rock music right back to the 18th and 19th centuries with the introduction of African rhythms and beat to the European Folk Tradition. This was a meeting of spirits that was to reach fruition in the Southern States of America, particularly New Orleans in Louisiana and Memphis Tennessee. It was a merger that first gave rise to Country Blues, Cajun and Gospel. It led to Rhythm ‘n’ Blues, Jazz, Bluegrass, Honky Tonk and Country Boogie. In the early part of the 1950s it gave birth to a vigorous hybrid that came to be known the world over as Rock ‘n’ Roll.
It took the world by storm and altered all our lives. It was a revolution. It was strongly allied to the prevailing youth culture of teenagers that emerged after World War 2.
The very name itself set the whole tone for everything that followed. It was coined by Alan Freed who borrowed it from the black slang for sex. It set generation against generation and rocked the world. It instigated a sexual revolution and social change on unheard of proportions. It upset the prevailing racial and gender attitudes and provoked the move to equality and freedom that prevails today. It set in motion a climate of questioning that altered the deferential way people thought about politicians.
The moment Elvis shook his hips the world would never be the same. Even Elvis did not have a clue that would happen. He was as bemused as everyone else. It took on a life of its own. It was powerful.

To understand where it began and where it went we have to go back to the very beginning. The story of Rock begins with the fusing of the two cultural traditions in the latter part of the 19th century to produce a new type of music that we now refer to as Country Blues. This was first written about by W C Handy who recalls hearing a black musician playing this style of music at the railway station in Tutwiler Mississippi in 1903. He was playing an old guitar by running up and down the frets with a penknife. W C Handy was hearing Country Blues, bottle-neck style, for the first time. He was captivated.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Rock Music!

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