Lonnie Mack, one of rock & roll's earliest guitar heroes, role model to Stevie Ray and a fine singer to boot, passed yesterday at 74.
After ten years, six albums, and widespread critical acclaim, Screaming Females are still as hard working and viciously independent as when they began in New Brunswick’s basements in 2006. Such staying power is no small feat in a music industry where independent artists make less and less each year as the stars on the top absorb more and more of the entertainment dollar. Yet here’s a band that has found a way to make a small living, consistently create meaningful music, and all the while never sacrifice their ethical grounding. It hasn’t been easy. As with most jobs, achieving sustainability has meant constant struggles for health care, decent wages, and respect. We talked with the band about how they’ve taken on these obstacles, and what needs to happen to improve conditions for artist-workers across the industry.
Indie auteur Richard Linklater pleasantly surprised audiences with his charming 2003 comedy School of Rock, in which a struggling musician (High Fidelity co-star and Tenacious D frontman Jack Black) hijacks a 4th grade prep school class and inspires them to become a killer rock band. Buoyed by likeable characters, a great soundtrack, remarkably talented kid musicians, and Black's lengthy, irrepressible, almost improvisational classroom scenes, the film earned rave reviews and inspired scads of copycat programs around the world (as featured in the '05 documentary and reality series Rock School). But while the cast kicked ass at their ten-year reunion concert in 2013, plans for a sequel fell through. Everyone loves an encore, though. And so this weekend saw the Broadway debut of the Andrew Lloyd Webber stage musical starring Alex Brightman, with a TV adaptation to air on Nickelodeon next year. Because there's no way you can stop... the School of Rock. [more inside]
The Killer at Peace: Jerry Lee Lewis's Golden Years
In the living room, directly above Lewis' chair, is a framed photo from the day in December 1956 when Lewis, Cash, Carl Perkins and Presley – a.k.a. "the Million-Dollar Quartet" – hung out and recorded at Sun. Elvis is at the piano, looking upward, eyes fixed on Lewis. Above the bar is a photo from the sessions for the Class of '55 LP, a 1985 reunion of Lewis, Perkins, Cash and Roy Orbison. "All of them, really good friends," he says quietly. "All gone." Lewis took his survival as a point of pride by naming his 2006 comeback LP Last Man Standing. "A lot of people didn't like it when I said that. But they had to accept it."Jerry Lee Lewis is still alive and rocking, having just released his third album in the 2000s, titled Rock & Roll Time, though his most raucous days are behind him.
A 30-minute Youtube video of 550 artists (musicians and actors) asked a simple question: Lennon or McCartney?
So there's this UK punk band. First wavers, '77. Cohorts of Gang of Four (whose pictures were inadvertently printed on the back of their first album). Rivals of The Clash, to whom their first single was an answer record. Their energy is so gregarious, their working-class politics so pointed but relatable, they make a mark for themselves despite the limitation of barely being able to play. They get to the part where they're supposed to break up or fade away. Instead, they learn to play, to play very well, even. They become an ever-shifting collective, picking up new members, people from The Rolling Stones, or people who'd played with The Buzzcocks, Elvis Costello, The Cure. They made roaring post-punk records, shimmering power pop, pint-raising Irish/British folk, and booze-saturated country records. They found a fascination with folk music, American country music in particular. Actually, they may have accidentally invented alt-country. Lester Bangs says they're "The most revolutionary group in the history of rock n' roll." Hyperbole? Nah. Hyperbole was when he called them "better than the Beatles." 37 years in, they're still making records that odds are, you either love dearly, or have never heard of at all. They're The Mekons, friend, and Joe Angio's new documentary looks at them in all of their shambling, lovable, raucous glory. [more inside]
Studio engineer Matt Ross-Spang wasn't even born when most of Sun's most famous records were cut. Nonetheless, he's thought a lot about what makes them sound the way they do (transcript). Matt has been buying up old gear for a few years, returning the Sun Records studio to a vintage state (with a few exceptions), and he is still practicing "sonic archaeology," trying to figure out how Sam Phillips made records sound like Sun Records. There's more to it than the Sun tape echo. [more inside]
Without You I'm Nothing: The Believer looks at the memoirs of the wives and girlfriends of rock stars.
About fifty years ago, the governor of Indiana received a letter complaining about obscenity in the lyrics of a rock'n'roll song, and passed that letter on to the FBI. For the following two years, FBI agents examined potential lyrics of the song (which were incomprehensible on the recording, partly due to the singer's braces) to find grounds for an obscenity prosecution. They ultimately failed, but produced a 140-page report, listing numerous possible obscene readings of what the lyrics could be, and in doing so, turned Louie Louie by The Kingsmen from a footnote into a bona fide rock'n'roll rebel anthem. [more inside]
After appearing on the season premiere of Saturday Night Live (is that Colin Stetson back there on sax?), Arcade Fire aired a strange but alluring late night special called Here Comes the Night Time, featuring Bono, Michael Cera, James Franco, Ben Stiller, Zac Galifianakis, Bill Hader and a nightclub in Montreal. [more inside]
The goal of Color Me Impressed is to share every known Replacements (and related) live recording available.
Out of the ashes of 1970's Detroit rock came Sonic's Rendezvous Band. One part Iggy and the Stooges and one part MC5, they only released one single, same song on both sides of the record.City Slang [more inside]
"Hi. My name is Eric. I come up with band names constantly. If you're starting a band, might I suggest using one of these names..."
In 1965 (or 1966, or...1964, depending on your source), three northeast garage rock bands came together to create the definitive early garage rock Christmas Album that time has since forgotten. Merry Christmas from The Sonics, The (Fabulous) Wailers, and The Galaxies features everything from Bob Dylan sound-alikes, fantastic originals, sincere classics... and weird goof-arounds. [more inside]
On Nov. 25th, Ken Regan, iconic photographer of rock icons such as Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones (among many others) died of cancer. A spokesperson for his studio declined to give Regan's age, calling him "ageless." A GQ interview from late last year. A gallery of 16 of his images, and another gallery of 25 images. His (Flash required) web site's biography and portfolio. A one hour phone interview (warning: insufferable 3-1/2 minute pre-interview ad).
I just moved into my new house today1, moving was hard but I got squared away2. When bells starting rings and chains rattled loud,3 I knew I'd moved in a haunted house4. Still I made up my mind to stay,5 nothing was a-gonna drive me away.6 When I seen something that give me the creeps,7 had one big eye and two big feet.8 [more inside]
If you wouldn't mind just watching this guy play 100 famous guitar riffs in one take, I'm feeling a sudden urge to grab my Fender Stratocaster.
Closed Frontier: Is rock over? "Rock ’n’ roll is to 21st-century America what the Wild West was to 20th-century America: a closed frontier, ripe for mass mythology....Exciting new music still thrives in the subgenres, but modern musicians draw increasing amounts of inspiration from tradition, not originality. The sexagenarian Rolling Stones do serial victory laps around the world, just as an aging Buffalo Bill toured America and Europe in the 1880s and 90s, performing rope and horse tricks alongside Annie Oakley and Sitting Bull."
The Atlantic explores whether Michael Jackson's contributions, like those of other black artists, are minimized because of his skin color.
"Okay. The reason I’m bringing all this up again is because Iggy Pop was once attacked by a gorilla during a live performance. But the gorilla turned out to be Elton John.... The Creem photograph documenting the event is hilarious, showing James Williamson transfixing the uppity ape with a malevolent glare that signals, he says, his intent to 'take him out.'" [more inside]
Ye olde rock and roll time machine, part two: recently found photos of a Stooges performance at a suburban Detroit high school from 1970.
A lady, back in 1957, addressing the camera in an elegant evening gown, fit for some grand society ball, had this message for the oldsters: "Now, whatever you think of rock and roll, I think you have to keep a nice, open mind about what the young people go for." She then proceeded to announce Buddy Holly and the Crickets, who obligingly performed their hit Peggy Sue for the ballroom dancers' pleasure and edification. That same Buddy Holly would've been quite the oldster himself, had he lived to see today, his 75th birthday. So, if you have a little time on your hands today, you might like to learn more about Buddy by viewing The Real Buddy Holly Story 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. Cause, hey, Buddy was not only one of the most unique and vital voices of the early days of rock'n'roll, but he wore the same glasses that every other hipster in Berlin is wearing right now.
Jerry Leiber, one of the greatest rock and roll songwriters to ever ply the trade, has died aged 78. Along with songwriting partner Mike Stoller, he was responsible for so many hits, including but not limited to: Love Potion No. 9 by The Coasters, Stand By Me by Ben E. King, Hound Dog by Big Mama Thornton, later popularised by Elvis Presley, and, solo, in conjunction with Phil Spector, Spanish Harlem, as sung by Aretha Franklin.
Pop quiz! What do these musicians have in common: Lou Reed, E Street Band keyboardists Roy Bittan and Danny Federici, rhythm section Andrew Bodnar and Stephen Goulding of The Rumour, dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, erstwhile SNL bandleader G.E. Smith, session horn section the Brecker Brothers, LaBelle alum Nona Hendryx, guitar virtuoso Adrian Belew, and David Johansen of the New York Dolls? Answer: they were (most of) the studio band on the 1981 album Escape Artist by Garland Jeffreys. Which raises the question, "Garland who?" [more inside]
30 years later, Neil Peart breathlessly recounts, track by track, the making of Rush's seminal album Moving Pictures.
Inside Pop - The Rock Revolution is a CBS News special, broadcast in April 1967. The show was hosted by Leonard Bernstein and is probably one of the first examples of pop music being examined as a 'serious' art form. The film features many scenes shot in Los Angeles in late 1966, including interviews with Frank Zappa and Graham Nash, as well as the now legendary Brian Wilson solo performance of "Surf's Up." (MLYT) [more inside]
1. Tin Huey T-Shirt. 2. A silk-screened poster from the Sept. 22, 2000, Mary Timony (of Helium) concert in Oberlin, Ohio. 3. "Crazy Rhythms" by the Feelies (on white vinyl). 4. A big-ass dining room table. 5. The Futon. 6. One audio MiniDisc of the Black Keys' first live performance, July 2002. 7. 7. One black-and-white photo of Patrick and me, taken in 2003, at Apple Studios. A marriage, and divorce, in seven mementos.
Boston has two Upper Crusts. One plays rock & roll music (think AC/DC [NSFW] meets French nobility). The other makes pizza and doesn't like overtime.
"Having vaulted from the fringes of pop culture into the mainstream after a newly atomic America became obsessed with films about mutants and aliens, SF literature matured and flowered throughout the '60s and beyond, just as rock 'n' roll did the same. It was inevitable that the two would mix."
In August 1990, when Spin magazine was still an edgier cousin to Rolling Stone, it published a list of the 35 Greatest Moments in Rock 'n' Roll Television. [more inside]
King of the rock critics Lester Bangs has been written up in here before, but TheHoundBlog provides us a rare, detailed look at the man behind the myth, both the good and the bad. [more inside]
US Crude Oil Production vs. Rock Music Quality, by year. Is Rockism the cultural equivalent of Hubbert Peak Theory?
Sister Sue, tell me baby what are we gonna do. She said take two candles, and then you burn them out. Make a paper boat, light it and send it out, send it out now ... Willy DeVille (formerly William Dorsay), died of pancreatic cancer on August 6, at the age of 58. So much of his music evoked the languid heat of a city night. This might be a good evening to turn it up loud. [more inside]
My Beat Club has a whole ton of classic rock perfomance videos, mostly from old German TV shows Musikladen and Beat Club. Among the videos on offer are Small Faces' Tin Soldier, Chuck Berry's School Days, Ike & Tina Turner's River Deep, Mountain High, The Who's My Generation, Country Joe McDonald's I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag, The Everly Brothers' All I Have to Do is Dream, The Ramones' Sheena is a Punk Rocker, Mungo Jerry's In the Summertime, T. Rex's 20th Century Boy, New York Dolls' Looking for a Kiss, The Byrds' So You Want to Be a Rock n' Roll Star, Thin Lizzy's Whiskey in the Jar, Slade's We'll Bring the House Down, The Jimi Hendrix Experience's Purple Haze and so much, much more!
Metafilter's own COBRA! has been producing a great comic about a rock band for quite awhile; and now it's been released as a book! Get to know the Awesome Boys in Nowhere Band.
Of all the pretenders to the throne of "British Elvis" in the pre-Beatles UK music scene, none had the swagger or moves quite like Vince Taylor. [more inside]
Looking for the graphic "The Genealogy of Pop/Rock Music" I remembered from Tufte, I found HistoryShots. [previous mention]
Whether you want to learn to lace shoes, tie shoelaces, stop shoelaces from coming undone, calculate shoelace lengths or even repair aglets, Ian's Shoelace Site has the answer!
WFMU's The Hound has been delighting record geeks for the past few decades with sets of some of the wildest, wooliest rockabilly, R&B, blues, gospel, garage rock, and punk that can be dug out of crates. His site offers full podcasts, and individual mp3's under the show links, and organized by artist, and title. Bo Diddley singing to Kruschev! Blues songs about the Kinsey report! The Cashmere's talking about the hop! Brownie McGee singing about baseball's integration! Roughly 4 million variations on 'The Twist!' And that;s just the tip of this glorious iceberg. [more inside]
NickCaveFilter: Fifty years ago this very day, Nicholas Edward Cave [previously] crawled from the womb and started to plot. At 16 he formed his first band which evolved quickly into the Boys Next Door [Shivers]. This in turn mutated into the Birthday Party (1980) who terrorised the post-punk soundscape in Australia and the UK [Release the Bats | Nick the Stripper]. The Birthday Party relocated to England and in 1984 the band imploded in an orgy of drugs and booze. Shortly after Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds were born [The Ship Song - video & solo live | The Mercy Seat - video & live | Where the Wild Roses Grow], and 23 years and 11 studio albums later (not to mention a best selling book, a great screenplay, some acting and several soundtrack projects) he is still going strong. But, instead of sitting on his musical laurels he decided to get back to basics and, in 2006, grew a huge moustache and formed Grinderman – a four piece with a primeval hybrid Birthday Party/Bad Seeds sound [No Pussy Blues | Honey Bee]. Fellow Mefites, I ask you to raise a glass to Mr. Cave… And, especially if you are not familiar to his work, don’t forget to “look inside” for my primer on the enigma that is Nick Cave, one of the finest song-writers on the face of this miserable planet. [more inside]
Christs, Communists, & Rock 'n' Roll is an excellent introduction to a tradition of anti-rock writings and recordings by the Religious Right. In the 1960s, there was David Noebel who wrote Communism, Hypnotism, & the Beatles and The Marxist Minstrels. In the early 1970s, Reverend Riblett constructs a seven-foot cross out of rock music records and sets it aflame with gasoline. Michael Mills finds hidden Satanic messages in Bow Wow Wow and the Grateful Dead, while Bob Larson valiantly debates Mandy, a 13-year-old fan of the Cure. The motherlode is probably the cassettes of John Todd, who traveled the fundamentalist circuit in the 1970s claiming to be a former witch and a member of the Illuminati, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. (more inside)
Cracked Pepper by ccc and ill chemist is a mash-up of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and an amazing array of songs you know. While not quite on par with the focus and sheer audacity of DangerMouse's Grey Album, Cracked Pepper is a smart, rich, and rewarding listen. Available track by track or as a torrent. See inside for tracks sampled.
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