Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Great Voices

Kudos to NPR for their year-long series 50 great voices! Anyone who even moderately appreciates music should check this out and continue to listen weekly for the next "voice".  The exercise started with a request for nominees to create a series of 50 great voices of all time...As expected, thus far each voice has crossed generation and culture to the heart of the series... the voice.
The first of the series was Iggy Pop, which already told me that this was going to be a non biased exploration of music.  Successive artists have spanned many cultures and genre with a common thread:  appreciation for the beauty of the voice.  What an education it has been thus far...the episodes I have missed I catch on the web site npr.org in the music tab under the heading 50 great voices.  A most recent instalment has been about Nat King Cole and the soothing quality of his voice.  Explore the website and there is a tab about the nominees, and I must say there is most always agreement with the choices!  I look forward to next week with anticipation..... Visit the website and listen to all of the installments thus far..You'll thank me later

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Huckster or Visionary?

April 8th saw the passing of what many consider the PT Barnum of our century... Malcolm Mclaren.  Mclaren is long thought of as the "godfather of punk", managing the most of the influential acts of the time most notably the Sex Pistols.  Before the time of the Sex Pistols, he managed the New York Dolls, which is long thought of as the frontrunners of modern punk music, with their outrageous stage presence and costumes (encouraged by Mclaren).  It was during his management of the Dolls that he first saw the Neon Boys (which included Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell later of Television). In 1975 Mclaren returned to London and opened a clothing store called "SEX" specialising in clothing of a particularly shocking nature.  It was from this springboard he put together the Sex Pistols, and became their manager.  Never wanting to be behind the curve, Mclaren always moved to new and interesting ideas in music, fashion and art.  Adam and the Ants as well as Bow Wow Wow were part of his "stable".  Mclaren also dabbled as an artist in early Hip Hop with singles "Buffalo Girls" and "Double Dutch" (both widely sampled later by rap artists).  Mclaren is also said to have consulted early in the career of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, who turned down his offer of management. Long hailed as an opportunist, Mclaren blazed many inroads to popular music and culture.....he was 68.  See also: "the great rock n roll swindle" and "the filth and the fury"(excellent documentaries about the Sex Pistols)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Dying Breed

The other day I was working my way through YouTube's music area and it kind of made me sad...I remember as a teenager, especially when I first moved to the DFW area (about 1976), there was something called AOR (album oriented radio for the youngsters).  It was a beautiful thing because it appealed to a wide range of music and not just the popular singles, but deeper unheard cuts off a particular band's album.  So in other words music was not programmed in neat little "compartments" based on what demographic it fits.  It was through this format I expanded my appreciation of all music...for example on any given day, Jackson Browne may be followed by Eric Clapton, followed by Gino Vanelli, followed the Allman Brothers followed by Little Feat followed by Stanley Clarke, followed by Led Zepplin....I think you get the idea.  I know you are thinking  "why that's one of our classic rock stations!"  This is where there is a difference:  the classic rock stations of today typically rotate the same list of songs over and over with little or no attention to variety, while AOR would see to it that one would not hear the same song twice in one day!  Trust me  I would often times listen the whole day especially during summers and weekends.  Has the radio industry become so pressured by the music industry that the bottom line is about quantity rather than quality? Is it about burning something out to make room for another "next big thing"?  I think so...I rarely listen to much radio outside of our two NPR-based stations, or the independent Texas Music station KHYI.  The rest of the time, especially in the car, I will listen to CD's where I have the option of digitally "building" my own radio station.  Maybe this is something we can all do with our mp3 players, but in my day (yikes I've become my father) it was more of a community playlist, than one we don't share with others..