When Little Richard died a few days ago, everyone was quick to rightfully hail him as the true king of rock and roll (which he was always quick to crown himself). But he was also the queen (which he would also sometimes declare).
David Bowie is often identified as the great leper messiah who made unapologetic gender fluidity acceptable in rock and roll, but he (and countless others) got their inspiration --and costume and makeup tips-- from Little Richard. James Brown, Bowie, Prince, Elton John, Marc Bolan, Jagger, Plant, Rundgren, Alice Cooper, and all the rest of them, even John Waters' mustache, owe an immense debt to Little Richard (who...um...owes his own great debt to Esquerita). Richard had nearly as much of an impact on the style, preen and swagger, and the transgressive posturings of rock and roll as did his music.
Hail the Queen!
Read a bit more on the subject (and see some cool pictures) in this article in The Guardian.
Image: Anna Bleker, Public Domain Read the rest
In the mid-nineties it was easy to get an acquaintance with Little Richard. All you had to do was haunt the bar at the Hyatt Hotel on Sunset where he lived and at one time or another you would find yourself talking to him over a drink…talking about how he discovered rock and roll or a new project…listening and watching a legend perform in front of you, as if you were at Carnegie Hall.
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Paul McCartney is admittedly biased, but here he is on The Howard Stern Show on Tuesday explaining why he thinks The Beatles were a better band than the Rolling Stones.
"Their stuff is rooted in the blues. When they're kinda writing stuff, it's to do with the blues, y'know. We had a little more influences[...]
“We started to notice that whatever we did, the Stones sort of did it shortly thereafter. So, like we went to America and we had huge success.Then the Stones went to America. And then we did Sgt. Pepper, the Stones did a psychedelic album. There was a lot of that. But we were great friends, still are, kind of a thing. We admire each other." Read the rest
As part of Rolling Stone's "In My Room" series, the legendary UK singer-songwriter, Nick Lowe, and his son, Roy, play a number of Lowe's recent compositions and his classic "(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding." He ends the 14-minute set doing a beautiful rendition of “I Read a Lot,” the title track to his 2011 album, The Old Magic.
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Metropolis Kid by Model Decoy
I've known Doron Monk Flake and Ari Sadowitz since high school, and it's been an honor to watch their musical prowess grow and grow and grow. Their current project, Model Decoy, pumps out Prince-like post-punk jams, full of sick rock riffs and soaring jazzy vocals that bring gravitas to clever lyrics that are mostly about their favorite nerdy comic books and movies.
Their newest single, "Metropolis Kid," is a perfect example of this. It makes you want to tap your feet as you croon along with Superboy (being young Kon-El, the misfit clone of Superman and Lex Luthor, not that cranky bastard Superboy-Prime
You can find the band's back catalog on Spotify, but they just released "Metropolis Kid" and two other new songs exclusively on Bandcamp, which is waiving their fee today (March 20) so that struggling bands can get 100% of the proceeds of their music during this quarantine.
(If you're feeling generous, you can buy some tunes from my own band, the Roland High Life, too — we're not as funky as Model Decoy, but we do have some good banger about Spider-Man and, uhh, conspiracy theorists.)
Model Decoy on Bandcamp
Image: Pat Loika / Flickr (CC 2.0) Read the rest
Every so often I have to return to this wonderful performance of the Chairman of the Bored on the 4/24/1979 episode of Old Grey Whistle Test. The band (Iggy, Scott Thurston, Glen Matlock, Jackie Clark, Klaus Kruger) played four tracks that night: The Fortune Teller, New Values, I'm Bored, and I Wanna Be Your Dog.
An iconic Iggy moment with an amazing band line-up from the New Values period.
Bonus track: Here's Iggy last week, doing a tribute duet to Serge Gainsbourg with Jane Birkin (Gainsbourg's former collaborator and partner) on The Tonight Show. What can we say, the Iguana has serious staying power and range.
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YouTuber and dad Matt MacMillan picked an unusual way to cover AC/DC's "Thunderstruck." He spent a year recording his baby son's cooing, sneezing, and other random noises and pieced it together to make the song. He writes, "It took forever."
And when you see HOW he arranged it all, you'll see why it took so long — it's really quite a feat!
If you're not familiar with the original song (I wasn't), here it is for comparison:
(Geekologie) Read the rest
Spotify may not be literally damaging our brains, but he's not entirely wrong, either.
Cordell Jackson started out playing on her father's radio show in the mid-1930s at the age of 12; she was a talented musician who'd already mastered the guitar, piano, and upright bass; she continued to play and went on to found Moon Records (a play on Memphis's iconic "Sun Records") where she was the first woman sound engineer in the country.
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Over at Riff Magazine, my old pal David Gill looks back at the birth of distortion and its position as "central to rock and roll as the sex and the drugs." From Riff:
In March 1951, a 19-year-old Ike Turner was recording his saxophonist Jackie Breston’s song “Rocket 88,” an ode to the Oldsmobile 88 (and later inspiration for Public Enemy’s “You’re Gonna Get Yours”). (Listen above.) Turner played his guitar loud, so loud, in fact, that his amplifier couldn’t handle it. The resulting distortion is the stuff of legend in the fable of rock and roll, giving voice to the intensity of the times.
The 1950s in America were the best of times and the worst of times. A victory in World War II and the spoils that came with it led to a baby boom, sprawling suburbia, rising standards of living, and a new thriving middle class, while at the same time racism, sexism and economic exploitation lingered in this landscape of opportunity. America also clung to its puritanical origins, cultivating a Victoria-era disdain for exuberance and physicality into a repressed and buttoned-down society that mocked, scorned and punished deviation from the norm.
As the 1950s progressed, the rising wave of progressive hedonism embodied by the new musical phenomenon of rock and roll crashed on the limitations of American culture. That tension is evident in Turner’s guitar tones, in its refusal to obey or to conform.
"Professor Music: Like ‘This is Spinal Tap,’ this column goes to 11" (Riff)
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I'm delighted to report that Boing Boing pal Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü) has a new rock and roll platter on its way February 8! Above is the title track from the punk pioneer's new album, Sunshine Rock. If this catchy psychedelic number is any indication, expect the album to be a burning light of gritty punk optimism in these dark times.
“To go from [2011 autobiography] See a Little Light to the last three albums, two of which were informed by loss of each parent, respectively, at some point I had to put a Post-It note on my work station and say, ‘Try to think about good things,'" Bob says. "Otherwise I could really go down a long, dark hole. I’m trying to keep things brighter these days as a way to stay alive.”
Bob Mould plays the history Fillmore in San Francisco on March 2 as part of the Noise Pop Festival 2019. More tour dates here.
Below, Bob Mould on Boing Boing Video, an interview and performance from 2014 produced by the talented team at Remedy Editorial:
photo: Alicia J Rose Read the rest
Angel Nene created this montage showing how the Rolling Stones' faces and music evolved over the years. I got sad about one minute in (1969) when Brian Jones died.
Below, my favorite of Nene's morphing animations of aging rock stars, "The Beatles Aging Together (1960-2017):
(via Laughing Squid)
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Death Cab for Cutie release their new album, "Thank You For Today," on Friday and right now NPR is streaming the whole thing. It's a gorgeous, cohesive, and fresh collection of soulful songs brought to life with startling arrangements and dazzling production. I'm proud of my friends. Have a listen!
"First Listen: Death Cab For Cutie, 'Thank You For Today'" (NPR)
And in case you missed it, below is the video for the first single from the album, "Gold Rush," featuring a sample of Yoko Ono's "Mindtrain."
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In 1982, Bruce Springsteen recorded this raw, dark demo of "Born in the USA" during the sessions that would spawn his Nebraska album, my favorite of all his releases. "Born in the USA" is about the impact of the Vietnam War on America and the country's mistreatment of veterans upon their return. Of course the familiar version of the song ultimately released in 1984 has been reinterpreted by many as a patriotic anthem because, y'know, who pays attention to lyrics.
(via r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest
Alex Chadwick and his 1958 Fender Strat present one hundred great guitar riffs of all time in one 12-minute take. (The only riff here I can play is Blitkreig Bop, but fortunately, it's the best one.)
From Open Culture:
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So central is the riff to the catchiness of a song that one could write an entire history of rock ‘n’ roll in riffs, which is exactly what Alex Chadwick has done in the video above, opening with the groovy jazz lick of 1953’s “Mr. Sandman” and wrapping up with St. Vincent’s “Cruel.” Though the more recent riffs might elude many people—having not yet become classic rock hits played at hockey games—nearly all of these 100 riffs from 100 rock ‘n’ roll songs will be instantly familiar. The video comes from music store Chicago Music Exchange, where employees likely hear many of these tunes played all day long, but never in chronological succession with such perfect intonation.
Covering Alex Van Halen's drumming on "Hot for Teacher" has become its own YouTube genre, but few have nailed it as well as 13-year-old Mia Morris. Read the rest
One May day in 1968, The Beatles gathered in Esher, London at George Harrison psychedelic bungalow Kinfauns to make music. They jammed through numerous songs written during or after their time hanging with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India. Those demos are the skeleton of what would become the White Album. Some of those acoustic renditions have since been officially released or made their way to YouTube. Over at Rolling Stone, Jordan Runtagh takes us through the "Esher Tapes." Here are two of the tracks with Runtagh's commentary:
"Revolution" Read the rest
Anti–Vietnam War demonstrations, Prague Spring, the assassination of Martin Luther King – John Lennon pondered the tumultuous events of early 1968 from his bucolic hideaway in the shadow of the Himalayas. "I had been thinking about it up in the hills in India," he told Rolling Stone in 1970. "I still had this 'God will save us' feeling about it: 'It's going to be all right.'" The sentiment would because a positive mantra in one of Lennon's most enduring songs; one he hoped would shake the youth out of the dreamily complacent Summer of Love era. "I wanted to put out what I felt about revolution. I thought it was time we fucking spoke about it." In the band's early days, he felt gagged by the unofficial code of silence that prohibited celebrities from speaking out about political matters for fear of antagonizing their audience. "For years, on the Beatles' tours, [manager] Brian Epstein had stopped us from saying anything about Vietnam or the war.