The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in 10 Songs – Greil Marcus

 

Greil Marcus selects ten songs recorded between 1956 and 2008, then proceeds to dramatize how each embodies rock ’n’ roll as a thing in itself, in the story it tells, inhabits, and acts out—a new language, something new under the sun.

The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in 10 Songs is available for purchase in stores and online. Disregard the September 2, 2014 availability date. I saw it on the shelf today at Barnes & Noble, Inc.

The Facebook page for this book is being managed by the Publisher, Yale University Press. It’s quite informative in positioning the 10 songs and includes the YouTube links for each song.

 

The Rewarding Influence of Richard Hell

Last month I wrote an extensive A-Z music journalist series. The tree of music journalism I planted continues to harvest fruit.

I commenced InterWeb reading this morning with Robert Christgau’s Barnes and Noble Review column Rock & Roll &. I was rewarded with a thought-provoking essay about Richard Hell’s new book, I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp.

The more I dug into Richard Hell, Television, his (s)exploits and writing prowess the more intrigued I became.

I have tried to find  copy of the book at my local Barnes & Noble Stores so I can give you a closer perspective but no luck thus far.

I add this book to my ever-increasing music book reading list.

There is a tie-in event with Richard Hell, Fashion and Punk that I also want to share with you. The exhibit takes place at the Metropolitan Museum of Art May 9-August 14, 2013.

PUNK: Chaos to Couture will examine punk’s impact on high fashion from the movement’s birth in the early 1970s through its continuing influence today. Featuring approximately one hundred designs for men and women, the exhibition will include original punk garments and recent, directional fashion to illustrate how haute couture and ready-to-wear borrow punk’s visual symbols.

Focusing on the relationship between the punk concept of “do-it-yourself” and the couture concept of “made-to-measure,” the seven galleries will be organized around the materials, techniques, and embellishments associated with the anti-establishment style. Themes will include New York and London, which will tell punk’s origin story as a tale of two cities, followed by Clothes for Heroes and four manifestations of the D.I.Y. aesthetic—HardwareBricolageGraffiti and Agitprop, and Destroy.

Presented as an immersive multimedia, multisensory experience, the clothes will be animated with period music videos and soundscaping audio techniques. – Description Courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art 2013

A book, Punk: Chaos to Couture, by Andrew Bolton, with an introduction by Jon Savage, and prefaces by Richard Hell and John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols), will accompany the exhibition. This publication will be illustrated with photographs of vintage punks and high fashion. Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the $45 catalogue (hard cover only) will be distributed worldwide by Yale University Press.

Five 2013 Blogging Projects

I love the time I get to spend between Christmas and New Year reflecting upon and renewing commitments to an ongoing pursuit of the arts. Its treasured down time from a perpetual teaching schedule that runs day and night, all year round.  I try to spend the time productively, teaching myself new software, preparing for certification exams, etc. I also spend time listening to music that escaped my grasp during the year, reading through my significant music magazine and book pile, visiting Barnes & Noble to stay vibrant and aware.

As a result I have accumulated some meaty writing topics for the coming year. They represent more substantive research into genres/artists I want to explore more in-depth, hopefully across multiple blog posts. This is my revised approach to professional blogging in 2013, which I hope my readers will like and seek to learn along with me (or teach me something new they know in these areas).

The five 2013 art blogging projects are:

  • Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Corgan – I just heard Billy Corgan‘s interview with Howard Stern on Sirius XM. Oceania is a recording I did not do justice to in 2012. I have discovered more about the Smashing Pumpkin/Corgan direction as well as the various side projects by past/current members. The Teargarden by Kaleidyscope initiative interests me greatly. Time to do some justice about the art of Smashing Pumpkins in the music of our heart.

Oceania

  • I was leaving through the current newsstand issue of Uncut Magazine last week at Barnes & Noble when I discovered a review of Joni Mitchell‘s box set, Studio Albums 1968-1979. The box set is a UK import via Rhino that is presently stocked out on Amazon. Once I can get my order fulfilled and I have given these 10 CDs a thorough listening I will write a blog series about that experience.

Studio Albums 1968 - 1979

  • I was browsing the music book section when I discovered the On The Road: The Official Movie Companion trade paperback. This stirred my sentiment about The Beats. I realized very quickly I had not really delved effectively into the writings of Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and Allen GinsbergPatti Smith has galvanized the poetic pentameter in the music of our heart for this halcyon period of art. I resolve to see the movie On The Road in New York City  before the wider theater release. I also make a commitment to read more of Kerouac, Ginsberg and Burroughs books (and of course Patti Smith’s poetry books until her new book(s) come out!). I also plan to get some of the books by the “authoritative” researchers/biographers of The Beat, most notably Ann Charters. I must follow through on this as my core initiative for the arts in 2013. The movie has become the impetus for renewing my kinship with The Beats.

On the Road: The Official Movie Companion

  • I picked up another of The Ultimate Music Guide’s from the publishers of Uncut Magazine. This one is about The Kinks. The 146 page special collector’s edition covers each album in the Kinks discography, the solo albums from Ray and Dave Davies, rarities and singles. It is just the compendium I had looked for about The Kinks. I plan to summarize this satisfying publication in a later blog post article.

Uncut presents The Kinks: The Ultimate Music Guide

  • I am continually impressed by the quality and substance of the British magazine publications. I need to get that iPad 4 with Retina so I can electronically subscribe to Uncut and NME. The magazine I’ve had in my hands twice now at Barnes & Noble is the The Story of Joy Division and New Order. I readily admit I don’t know enough about this band. Realizing I should correct that problem makes this my fifth blogging project for 2013.

NME - Joy Division - Collectors Magazine

Steven Wilson – Prog Rock

I thought it proper to continue the prog rock series with Steven Wilson. The intersection with yesterday’s King Crimson blog post underlies Steven Wilson’s passion for the technological expanse of their music. He has done a superlative job remixing their catalog. Steven Wilson acknowledges that listening to Robert Fripps’s approach and the notes that he chooses has shaped his style of guitar playing.

I plucked this quote from Steven Wilson’s biography on Spotify.

Thanks to a prolific work ethic, self-taught producer, engineer, and multi-instrumentalist Steven Wilson has gradually become one of the U.K.’s most critically acclaimed artists.

imgI decided to stop off at Barnes & Noble to see if I could find a music magazine to fortify my research for this week’s prog rock series. I was searching for Prog Rock Magazine but little did I realize hiding with the jazz magazines would be a copy of Guitar Player Magazine‘s August 2012 issue. I smiled reassuringly to see Steven Wilson with his Gold Paul Reed Smith Custom 22 on the cover. The cover quote solidified my convictions, “Steven Wilson, Reimagining Progessive Rock”.

My inherent sixth sense of music had led me to find a validated discovery. Steven Wilson has forged a major link  in the chain between the 70’s electric fusion of Miles Davis and King Crimson’s Robert Fripp. This linkage is forged by the the fact that Steven Wilson chose King Crimson’s Lizard as the first remixing effort. Steven Wilson states that he realized how integral jazz was to Lizard and King Crimson. Lizard was made with musicians from the British jazz scene in a very analogous fashion to Miles Davis process with Bitches Brew.

I have listened throughout the day to Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson’s solo efforts. I didn’t intend to over look his other work with No-Man, I.E.M., Bass Communion or Blackfield. It was a capacity issue for me to try to assimilate all of his group projects in a day 😉

I found the Porcupine Tree recordings mesmerizing, equally wildly chilling as they were rich in innovative tonalities.

I became further intrigued by Steven Wilson’s Insurgentes, part documentary/part surreal road movie.

Steven Wilson said this about his second solo album, Grace for Drowning:

‘Insurgentes’ was an important step for me into something new. This record takes that as a starting point, but it’s more experimental and more eclectic. For me the golden period for music was the late sixties and early seventies, when the album became the primary means of artistic expression, when musicians liberated themselves from the 3 minute pop song format, and started to draw on jazz and classical music especially, combining it with the spirit of psychedelia to create “journeys in sound” I guess you could call them. So without being retro, my album is a kind of homage to that spirit. There’s everything from [Ennio] Morricone-esque film themes to choral music to piano ballads to a 23 minute progressive jazz –inspired piece. I’ve actually used a few jazz musicians this time, which is something I picked up from my work remixing the King Crimson records”[8]


Get All You Deserve, is a new high-definition audio-visual set from Steven Wilson. Directed by long-time visual collaborator Lasse Hoile, Get All You Deserve was filmed in Mexico City during the recent Grace For Drowning Tour. The set captures the spectacular live experience that Wilson and Hoile created for the tour on Blu-ray, DVD and 2CD.

The progressive rock chain link will continue tomorrow when I write about the prog rock sub-genre progressive metal and the collaboration between Porcupine Tree‘s Steven Wilson and Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt on Storm Corrosion It has been described as being “the last part in the odd trilogy of records completed by (Opeth’s) Heritage and Steven Wilson’s brand new solo album Grace for Drowning.[21][22]

The Oxford American – Thirteenth Annual Music Issue

I made a great musical find last night browsing at my local Barnes & Noble book store. I saw out of the corner of my eye a copy of Oxford American magazine sitting by its lonesome. It was calling me to pick it up. I noticed that my favorite music journalist, Peter Guralnick had contributed an article, “Sam Phillips‘s Greatest Discovery” to the publication. It’s a story about Howlin Wolf and its reallllllly good!

I have developed a discerning taste for music journalism over the decades. The Oxford American, thirteenth annual Southern music issue surpasses my expectations with its content. It is a treasure chest of well articulated and researched music literature. The publication adds tremendous depth to the importance of our rich American heritage, the music of the South.

One of my major bucket list items is to take an extended vacation on the Southern blues trail(s). The Oxford American is the magazine I will be taking with us on that journey.

So forgive me as I rub my hands with glee here this morning. I have this great magazine to hunker down with and learn from this weekend.

Life is sweet 😉

Seattle & Pearl Jam Twenty Years On

Photograph by Dean Fox, Photolibrary

Twenty years ago this summer I was working for Microsoft Corporation. I experienced Seattle, Washington as a beautiful sprawling metropolis for the first time in the fall of 1992. Little did I realize it would become the most visited city (exclusive of New York City) I would travel to and cherish in the United States. I have been to Seattle 14 times in the past 20 years. Seattle is an exciting and vibrant place to experience. I developed an affinity for Pearl Jam that year as their album, Ten was gaining momentum in parallel to my new career. The city was living and breathing a unique music art form that Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Soundgarden were evidencing to the world.

I love travelling back to Seattle and visiting the Experience Music  Project, a Rock and Roll Museum in Seattle Center, next to the Space Needle and Seattle Center Monorail. The architecture of the building is amazing. The exhibits give extensive information about the Seattle music scene. It cements the understanding and the linkage Seattle, Washington has with rock music history. We are members of this museum and love the affinity we have with the art and pop culture it expounds.

I have spent time with the music and history of Pearl Jam. We had intended to attend the premier of the Cameron Crowe documentary Pearl Jam Twenty but Snowtober disrupted our plans by knocking out the power to the theater in our market. Biding my time I took advantage of my Barnes & Noble Christmas gift card that my loving wife gave me. I purchased the Pearl Jam Twenty book(at a 60% discount!) and the companion DVD. This will be my weekend music sojourn. I look forward to digging in deep to learn more about the musical evolution of Pearl Jam and the music of related groups in Seattle.

It’s time!

1000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die, By Tom Moon, Daily Post 2011, #22

I received the perfect book for an obsessive/compulsive music junkie like myself ;), 1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die by Tom Moon. The book has been in print for 2 1/2 years now (August 2008). I’ve picked it up a dozen or so times at Barnes & Noble in the past,  now I finally own a copy. It’s a great book to hunker down with and study. Its becoming an invaluable desk reference for the Microsoft Zune Web listening I love to do.

My perception was that as an avid music collector for 45 years I would probably own about 400 of the 1,000 recordings. I was quite surprised to learn I only own about 130 of what Tom has listed or 13%.  Granted my collection is more focused on rock, blues and jazz as main genres, where Tom Moon’s book covers the following genres.

Jazz, Opera, Hip-Hop, Rock, Gospel, Musicals, Country, Classical, Blues, World, Heavy Metal, Vocals, Swing, Celtic, Samba, Pop, Songbook, Folk, R&B, Dance, Punk, Doo-Wop, Psychedelic, Fado (What’s Fado?,  I learned something new today about a music genre I never knew existed…), Bluegrass, Zydeco, New Wave, JuJu, Electronica, Bossa Nova, Reggae, Soul, Rap, Rockabilly, Dub, Techno, Ska, Funk, Salsa, 39 genres in total.

This book will stretch my musical curiosity in many ways and directions. That’s my first pleasant surprise about one of the dimensions this book presents the reader.  I find Tom’s book very well researched and coördinated.

I take issue with some of Tom’s choices of the “definitive” or “essential” recordings of certain artists.  For example, he lists for R.E.M. Fables of the Reconstruction, Murmurs and Up as their essential recordings. He overlooks Automatic for the People which I find the most playable, durable recording in my entire collection.

Differences of opinion when it comes to personal musical taste comes with the territory. All in all its a great book Tom, thanks for authoring it and for the companion Web site where we can keep in touch with you.