Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The World Will Miss You, Lou

The Velvet Underground & Nico
The Velvet Underground & Nico (Wikipedia)
by Matthew Coleman, The Music Court: http://musiccourtblog.com/2013/10/28/the-world-will-miss-you-lou/

“There’s only X amount of time. You can do whatever you want with that time. It’s your time” - Lou Reed.

I was watching TV around a week ago when I heard the instrumentation of Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" in a Playstation 4 advertisement.

In it, two friends take on different competitive video game roles and sing the song to each other.

Considering that the deceptively complex song is most likely about some combination of Reed's sexuality and drug use, I found it funny that it was used in a commercial about mindless simulation.

A week later, Reed is dead, and I am here writing a post I do not want to write.

Seventy-one years fit the variable in Reed's apt quotation, and, while the years seem cut off too soon, Reed once stated that he always believed he had something important to say, and there is absolutely no doubt that he said it.

Without Lou Reed, music is radically different. The underground New York rock scene of the 1960s - an extension of the crafty Beat generation - was instrumental in dynamically changing the face of music as an art form, and Reed had perhaps the grandest impact on this.

One of the main reasons behind this shift was Reed's uncensored lyrics. His sobsersided voice crooned about unconventional topics like heroin, drug dealers, withdrawal, and sex.

While some musicians in the mid-1960s hid these elements under cheeky metaphor and symbolism, Reed just came out and said it.

The Velvet Underground's debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico, saw barely any commercial success, but is now considered one of the greatest albums of all time.

Reed, who wrote all of the songs (by himself or with other bandmates), scripted songs that still penetrate listeners like the cold tip of a needle.

"Heroin," for example, features lyrics like: 'Cause when the smack begins to flow Then I really don't care anymore Ah, when the heroin is in my blood And that blood is in my head Then thank God that I'm as good as dead Then thank your God that I'm not aware And thank God that I just don't care.

Lyrics like these were unheard of. Reed was the unmitigated voice of a popular underground of perpetual drug users, prostitutes, and eccentric virtuosos.

The album, aptly recorded during Andy Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable tour, was a work sticky with Warhol's artful experimentation (including the iconic album cover) and, despite its small initial draw, was so inspirational that Brian Eno once famously proclaimed that of the 30,000 albums sold, 30,000 bands were created.

Quite simply, Reed and his bandmates (especially viola player John Cale) were almost fatidic - like musical Nostradamus.' They bent conventions and complacency and engendered the youth to rise up and talk openly about topics that were affecting them.

It should come to no surprise to anyone that Punk aficionados consider Reed to be a Godfather figure.

Not enough can be made of Reed's impact and intelligence. He was a rare breed of musician - a transformer. He shook away common conventions and formed his own music to tackle his own personal feelings and demons.

His religion was rock 'n' roll and guitar, as he said, and he was damn good at it. And while Reed was the first to admit that everything happens for a reason and when it's your time it's your time, it still is very hard to say goodbye to a musical legend like Reed.

His music will forever live with every clandestine artist, closeted individual, and so-called misfits, helping those in consternation understand that the only people who have issues are those who spew hate. He opened up a safe, artistic community for everyone living in the "underground."

So ... while there may be no consensus on what "Perfect Day" is explicitly about, I will reach to the lyrics "you just keep me hanging on" and hold on to Lou Reed as a musical inspiration. The world will miss you. I hope you are enjoying your walk on the wild side.
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Monday, October 28, 2013

VIDEO: Lou Reed - Velvet Underground Frontman, Influential Solo Musician - Dead at 71

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2013/10/lou-reed-dead-at-71.html

Rolling Stone is reporting that Lou Reed, whose music career began with The Velvet Underground in the 1960s, before becoming an influential solo artist in the 70s, has died.

He was 71 and had undergone a liver transplant back in May. Whether that’s related to the cause of death remains unknown. We will follow up with a lengthier reflection on the life and times of Lou Reed.

But, for now, we want to make you aware of this sad news and present some of our favorites clips of Reed and the VU. We start you off, above, with Reed singing a live funk version of “Sweet Jane,” a song first released on VU’s 1970 album, Loaded.

It was performed in Paris in ’74, with Prakash John playing bass and Steve Hunter on guitar.

To delve deeper into Reed’s career, we suggest you watch the 1998 documentary, Rock and Roll Heart. It’s from PBS’s American Masters series and runs 75 minutes.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

VIDEOS: The Music Court iPod Shuffle – “Bike” by Pink Floyd

by Matthew Coleman, The Music Court: http://musiccourtblog.com/2013/10/26/the-music-court-ipod-shuffle-bike-by-pink-floyd/

Have you ever wondered how the Music Court comes up with its vast variety of comment? Are you saying the blog does not have diverse content? Who are you invisible, detached voice and why must you always negate me! 

Ok, I'll stop my idiocy, but it is apt that I get into a disturbed state of mind prior to discussing Pink Floyd ... usually. 

I emphasize usually because today we will be discussing "Bike," which despite its unique oddness is a childish piece that is purposely humorous because of its psychedelic simplicity. 

Oh ... and the answer to the somewhat haughty initial question is songs in our head and, today, as the title of this post suggests, a shuffled iPod.

"Bike" was written and recorded during the greatest year of rock 'n' roll in the history of ever - 1967. Argue with me all you want, but 1967 has the insuperable crown. It will forever reign as rock 'n' roll's greatest year unless we have another musical renaissance, which doesn't seem to be coming anytime soon.
Syd Barrett, the lead vocalist, guitarist, and primary songwriter of Pink Floyd prior to his forced departure from the band in 1968, may have very well been a tortured soul with mental illness ranging from schizophrenia to a cognitive disorder like autism, but "Bike" does not maintain that disturbed flavor. 

It is psychedelic. There is no question about that. The song is driven by eccentric percussion transitions (gun shots?), an oscillating theremin, and an eerie piano that sounds like it is right out of an ironic horror movie. 

But the tortured Syd Barrett who inspired almost all of Roger Waters' songwriting for some time ("Brain Damage," "Wish You Were Here," "Shine on You Crazy Diamond," etc.) does not permeate through this piece ... which is a purposely childish love song.

Less than two minutes of utter goodness. The song was actually written for Barrett’s girlfriend at the time. Yes, “Bike” was written for a girl … the song with the line, “I know a mouse, and he hasn’t got a house. I don’t know why. I call him Gerald. He’s getting rather old, but he’s a good mouse.”

What? Can’t you feel the love? Come on! This or “How Deep Is Your Love” by the Bee Gees? Your choice.

Barrett wrote this song like a child because it is supposed to be a child’s love song. Think about it. The lyrics are utterly random, but the chorus constantly repeats “You’re the kind of girl that fits in with my world. I’ll give you anything, ev’rything if you want things.”

Barrett takes on his inner elementary school child and writes a hilarious love song for a first crush. It’s almost genius if you think about it.

By the way, tell me the video above is not hilarious. So … now that you have this love song stuck in your head for the rest of your Saturday, go find a bike and ride it if you’d like, but remember I can’t give it to you because I borrowed it.

Friday, October 25, 2013

VIDEO: Ginger Baker Stirs Up Jazz Confusion

ginger-bakerby , Psychedelic Sight: http://psychedelicsight.com/1122-ginger-baker-jazz/

Even while pounding out the heaviest of psychedelic rock, drummer Ginger Baker touched on his jazz influences - down to the double bass setup he copped from Louie Bellson.

At 74, the drummer of top psychedelic-era bands Cream and Blind Faith has resurfaced with his jazz combo, crossing the U.S. for a half dozen dates in October.

Baker’s last high-profile visit to the States came eight years ago, with the Cream reunion shows at Madison Square Garden in October 2005.

Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion brought the drummer back to New York for a gig at the Iridium club. “What you get … is essentially African cross-rhythms through the filter of a pianoless jazz group - or vice versa,” the New York Times noted in its Ginger Baker review.

“It’s not fussy, as the heavy, elegant rhythm rises up. It seems as if the band could set up in a village square almost anywhere in the world and do business.”

Jazz Confusion includes the Ghanaian percussionist Abass Dodoo, tenor sax man Pee Wee Ellis (of James Brown fame), and English bassist Alec Dankworth.

In Phoenix, New Times said of one number: “Magical was how it all came together - like four friends serendipitously meeting on a street corner, at night, under mysterious and perhaps threatening circumstances. …

“Baker was the first drummer to incorporate African percussion dialects in rock music - he performed with Afrobeat founder Fela Kuti as he lived in Nigeria in the early 1970s - and his fascination and openness to exploit these sounds has always carried over into his jazz bands,” Glenn BurnSilver wrote in his review of the Oct. 21 show.

Both reviewers made note of Baker’s legendary crankiness (he advised talkers in New York to shut up and crabbed about some poorly timed applause in Phoenix).

No wonder the documentary profile of him was dubbed “Beware of Mr. Baker” - the title taken from a sign outside his South African residence.

The Jazz Confusion mini-tour wrapped in Seattle and continues in the new year in Europe. Here are several more shots of the New York show, all by music photographer Arnie Goodman:

Ginger Baker playing jazz in NYC 2013

Jazz Confusion group with Ginger Baker

From a 2012 show in the U.K. …

VIDEO: Cheech & Chong - "Up In Smoke"

by Steve Hammer

Monday, October 21, 2013

VIDEOS: The Time Neil Young Met Charles Manson, Liked His Music, and Tried to Score Him a Record Deal

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2013/01/the_time_neil_young_met_charles_manson.html

Waging Heavy Peace - it’s not your average rock star biography. There’s not much sex and drugs. There’s some rock ‘n’ roll.

But mostly, there’s a lot of Neil Young being an ordinary guy, hanging out with family and friends, tinkering with toy trains, and refurbishing old cars. It’s a decidedly down-to-earth autobiography, so far as autobiographies go. But it’s not entirely devoid of fantastical stories.

Like the time when, during the late 1960s, Young stopped by the Los Angeles home of Dennis Wilson, the drummer of The Beach Boys. There, Wilson was living with three or four girls who had an “intense vibe” and a “detached quality about them.” Young continues:
After a while, a guy showed up, picked up my guitar, and started playing a lot of songs on it. His name was Charlie. He was a friend of the girls and now of Dennis. His songs were off-the-cuff things he made up as he went along, and they were never the same twice in a row. Kind of like Dylan, but different because it was hard to glimpse a true message in them, but the songs were fascinating. He was quite good.
Young then adds:
I asked him if he had a recording contract. He told me he didn’t yet, but he wanted to make records. I told Mo Ostin at Reprise about him, and recommended that Reprise check him out … shortly afterward, the Sharon Tate-La Bianca murders happened, and Charlie Manson’s name was known around the world.
After the murders, Manson kind of got a record deal. His recordings were commercially released on the album Lie: The Love and Terror CultBelow we have one bizzarely upbeat song from the collection, “Home Is Where You’re Happy.”

Sunday, October 20, 2013

VIDEO: Neil Young Busking in Glasgow, 1976: The Story Behind the Footage

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/neil_young_busking_in_glasgow_1976_the_story_behind_the_footage.html

Neil Young - Old Laughing Lady (1976) by Julos77

The day was April 2, 1976. Neil Young was flying into Glasgow, and a local camera crew was waiting at the airport to meet him. 

Director Murray Grigor and cinematographer David Peat had been hired by Young through his record company. As they waited there, at the airport, they had no idea what to expect.

“The irony,” Peat told Open Culture, “is that neither Murray or myself were particularly knowledgeable about the rock world, and we knew little of this guy Neil Young. So we turned up at the airport in sports jackets and ties to meet him!”

Neil Young
Neil Young
Young’s scheduled flight from London arrived, but he wasn’t on it. When a second flight came in, Peat and Grigor watched anxiously as all the passengers cleared the terminal. Still no Young. 

Finally, said Peat, “this tall bloke in a long coat came ambling down the corridor.” The filmmakers introduced themselves to Young and asked what he wanted. “Just give me some funky shit footage,” said Young. “Nae bother, as we say in Scotland,” Peat said. 

So the filmmakers tagged along as the musician and his band, Crazy Horse, headed into the city.

At this point Murray Grigor picks up the story: “Our filming got off to a tricky start. When Neil and the band finally made it to their lunch in the Albany Hotel’s penthouse, one of them set fire to the paper table decorations, which we filmed. ‘Just like Nam,’ another one said as he warmed his hands over the small inferno lapping up towards the inflammable ceiling.”

At that moment, Peat added, “this very Scottish floor manager leapt in and completely cowed them with her rage.” The woman turned to the nearest person and demanded to know what was going on.

“That happened to be our sound recordist, Louis Kramer,” said Grigor. “She then shouted at them to get everything burning into the bathroom–and generally gave them all a dressing down.” As Grigor explained, “Neil and the band were all stoned out of their skulls.”

When the smoke had cleared at the Albany Hotel, the crew followed Young out onto the streets, where he began accosting passersby. “Excuse me,” he said. “Could you tell me where the Bank of Scotland is?”

He soon settled on a different destination. “It was entirely Neil’s idea,” Grigor told us, “to flop down at the entrance to Glasgow’s Central Station and then wait and see who would recognize him.”

With a scarf wrapped around his neck and a deerstalker hat pulled down over his face, Young took out his banjo and harmonica and sat on the pavement. Peat, whose forté is observational filmmaking, panned his camera back and forth between the famous street musician and the people passing by.

Kramer’s sound recording provided the continuity that made it possible for Peat to move around and cover the scene from different angles. He noticed that Young was singing about an “Old Laughing Lady,” so when he saw one, he filmed her. The whole thing lasted only a few minutes.

Later that evening, Young and Crazy Horse opened their show at the Glasgow Apollo with “The Old Laughing Lady.” It was the last concert of their European tour. The film crew documented the crowd going into the Apollo and the show itself.

When it was over, Young asked Grigor to synchronize the sound and film for later editing. Local editor Bert Eeles did the synch work, Grigor sent in the film, and that was about the last they ever heard of it. ”I always understood Neil commissioned it for his own use as a kind of ‘home movie,’” said Peat.

The fire scene from the Albany Hotel resurfaced in Jim Jarmusch’s 1997 film, Year of the Horse: Neil Young and Crazy Horse Live. When the busking scene at Central Station recently appeared on the Internet, Peat was happy to see it, but disappointed with the state it was in (see above).

“The quality is poor and the sound appears to be slightly out of sync,” he said. “It looks as though the material is in black and white, but I’m sure I shot it in color.”

Peat and Grigor collaborated on a number of other projects, including the 1976 Billy Connolly documentary Big Banana Feet, which was screened at the Glasgow Film Festival last Sunday for the first time in decades, and the 1983 film, The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Architecture has been a major focus of Grigor’s work. Last month he received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to architecture and film. Peat is the subject of an upcoming special on BBC Two, A Life in Film: David Peat.

The strange assignment to shoot “funky shit footage” for a strung-out rock star was a minor footnote in Peat’s long career, but he looks back on it with fondness. “The footage of Neil has achieved a sort of iconic status in Glasgow,” he said.

“I was in a music/video store recently trying to find out if it existed on any published DVD, and the guy behind the counter nearly fell over when I revealed I had shot it. He probably just saw an old bloke with a beard instead of the lithe young man who used to dance around with a camera!”

H/T Dangerous Minds

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

MOVIE REVIEW: ‘The Source’: LSD’s Long Strange Trip

Albert Hofmann in documentary The Substance
Albert Hofmann
by , Psychedelic Sight: http://psychedelicsight.com/9581-source-lsd-movie/

“High” on LSD doesn’t quite cover it.

The hallucinogenic drug provided such a mind-altering experience that almost all users of the 1960s swore off the stuff, sooner or later.

Mostly sooner.

As a social phenomenon (and widespread social problem), LSD’s run lasted only a few twisted years in the 1960s. But its influence lingers, like some never-ending flashback.

Martin Witz’s splendid documentary “The Substance: Albert Hofmann’s LSD” artfully incorporates archival footage, new interviews and clips from anti-drug propaganda films - feeling at times more like a science fiction film than documentary.

It tracks the bizarre drug from its first synthesis in a Swiss laboratory in 1948 to modern-day efforts to use it in treatment of people with terminal illnesses.

Icarius Films has released the 90-minute “The Substance” on DVD. It includes a 27-minute interview with filmmaker Witz shot at a German film festival. Audio and video are good enough.

The Swiss documentarian said he took on the project after wondering why no one from his nation had tackled the story of chemist Albert Hofmann (pictured) and his “slightly strange Swiss export.”

“This substance traveled all over the globe, causing massive upheaval,” Witz says. Yet, before long “it disappeared completely.”

Neither permissive nor judgmental in approach, Witz nevertheless found himself a target of critics who said his film was championing the drug (he says he’s tripped, but was never a member of the “esoteric community” of habitual LSD users).

Witz pursued Hofmann, who lived in relative seclusion at age 102, finally arranging an interview. Hofmann died the day they were to talk. “The Substance” therefore relies on a satisfying interview filmed in 2008, shortly before the chemist turned 100.

Of the thoughtful Hofmann, Witz says, “he had the class to pay attention” to what he had wrought. He was not “a guru or a holy man.”

Hofmann says in the film, “I think that a chemist who is not a mystic is not a real chemist.” There are clips of Hofmann journeying deep into Mexico, sharing his LSD with a tribe of Indians whose religious rituals involved natural psychedelics. No one seemed to notice a difference.

Hofmann said he never thought LSD would hit the streets. He wrote U.S. professor Timothy Leary - of “turn on, tune in, drop out” fame - accusing him of forcing LSD on young people by advocating its use.

LSD remained an untested drug, Hofmann told Leary, and its startling experiences required “a certain maturity” to handle. A characteristic in short supply in the hippie culture of the late 1960s.

Leary emerges in “The Substance” as a villain of sorts, or at least a fool, with TV personality Art Linkletter denouncing him as “a poisonous evil man” (Linkletter blamed the death of his 20-year-old daughter on LSD).

The film also spends time with an unapologetic Nicholas Sand, the man who produced and mass marketed “orange sunshine” acid.

Sand spent time in more than a dozen prisons over the years and continued to make hallucinogens for decades. “Am I a criminal? Of course I’m a criminal,” the Buddhist says.

“The Substance” skims over the link between LSD and creativity, but there are clips of the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix in their acid-influenced periods. We fly over the city of mud that was Woodstock, and listen to the Grateful Dead in a San Francisco park.

“Mountain Girl” (Carolyn Elizabeth Garcia), the widow of Jerry Garcia, unveils the Merry Pranksters’ famed Furthur psychedelic bus, stored away in a barn, and talks about the early days of LSD in the Bay Area:

“LSD came along - it was hey, here’s another direction to go in,” Garcia says. “We got very deep into it ourselves. Magic carpet rides inside our minds. Everybody wanted some.” As the media spread the word, the whole scene went to hell in about a week, she says.

A happier ending seems to come from Johns Hopkins University’s 21st century experiments with the use of psilocybin mushrooms by terminal cancer patients suffering from depression.

The psychedelic experience makes the approach of death “quite manageable for them.” Psychiatrist Stanislav Grof says the patients are able to “radically change their concept of death” - making the passing into an adventure. He calls the study “very moving.”

Friday, October 18, 2013

OPINION: Led Zeppelin Top Five

English: Jimmy Page; Robert Plant; John Bonham...
Led Zeppelin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Eoghan M Lyng

This is, quite possibly, the hardest article that I have ever had to write.

Having been a hardcore Zeppelin fan since I was fourteen years old, it pains me to try and decide what their finest compositions were.

Having come up with several drafts, the finished result still feels incomplete.

If this article could have included more songs, "When the Levee Breaks", "Ten Years Gone", "Ramble On", "Trampled Under Foot" and "Dazed and Confused" would almost certainly have been included.

In fact, anything from "Led Zeppelin" (1969) to "Physical Graffiti" (1975) represent a consistently high prolific standard that no other band, not even the Beatles, could rival.

To compile a list that includes only five songs, therefore, is understandably heartbreaking, but the task has been achieved at a great expense. The chosen songs were chosen out of artistic merit, musical influence and technical brilliance. Led Zeppelin`s five finest songs, therefore, are:

#5 Black Dog (featured on their untitled fourth album - 1971): Written by Jones/Page/Plant

Inspired in part by "Oh Well (Parts 1 and 2)" by Fleetwood Mac, this rocker features vocalist Robert Plant singing almost operatically over a backlash of duelling guitars.

The riff originated with bassist John Paul Jones, who initially boasted that the timing was so irregular that only he could play along to it. Although it may be Jones`s riff, it is Jimmy Page who truly shines on this track.

Reverting from scratchy rhythm guitars to melodic lead parts in an effortless manner, the track sounds both psychedelic and bluesy. Plant truly plays the part of a hungry, sexual deviant when singing his a Capella leads.

One of Zeppelin`s highlights in concert, it is a rock song that has rarely been rivalled in the forty years since its initial release. Strangely enough, the only reference to a dog in the song is at the beginning when Page creates a barky reverberated sound effect.

#4 No Quarter (Houses of The Holy - 1973): Written by Jones/Page/Plant

The word multi-instrumentalist is over-used these days, but in the case of John Paul Jones, it is justifiable. Capable of playing bass guitar, guitar, piano, mellotron, flutes, recorders, mandolin and other keyboard instruments too numerous to mention, he could have created his own one man band.

This song would become one of his staple solo opportunities in concert. Containing an eerie keyboard sound and featuring lyrics that deal with medieval war craft, it features Zeppelin at their proggiest. It is truly a breathtaking piece of work.

The highlight of the song is the point in which Page`s distorted guitar arrives as an orchestration for Jones`s keyboard playing. An amazing song and a nice break from their usual guitar orientated work.

#3 Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin 2 - 1969): Written by Bonham/Jones/Page/Plant/Dixon

If there was ever a song that defined the band, it was this song. Featuring a metallic hammer on from Page`s guitar playing and an exuberant vocal performance from Robert Plant, the song would become Zeppelin`s first true classic.

Utilising the DAGGAD tuning that would be used on successive songs such as the two underneath this column; the song is the type of anthem every band craves.

Unfortunately for the band, the aggression in which Page played the riff gave critics the long awaited opportunity to label a band as a heavy metal band.

This is an erroneous statement: John Bonham`s loose backbeat drumming and John Paul Jones`s bass playing display a dance groove that James Brown could have used. You would not find that on any Black Sabbath songs!

The song is also noted for its risque bridge. Commonly referred to as "The Orgasm Section", it features Plant moaning over a bunch of hammers being hit, plus a Theremin being used for windy effect.

Before this song, Jimmy Page was an adequate producer. This song showed that he was, in fact, a technical genius. For years, audiences would recognise this song as the opening theme for Top of The Pops, which was ironic considering that the band had no interest in the show!

#2 Kashmir (Physical Grafitti - 1975): Written by Bonham/Page/Plant

Mother of God! The sixth track on Zeppelin`s double LP Physical Graffiti is an orchestrated work of genius. A song with an eastern feel, the song has been noted by Robert Plant on many occasions as his personal favourite Zeppelin song.

And he has every reason to be proud of the song: Kashmir has the perfect ingredients of a great song. Featuring a drum beat that uses the loud dynamics that would befit a stringed orchestra, a multitude of colourful guitars, lyrics of a mystic nature and an Indian orchestra, the song is a grandiose epic.

The only member who does not receive a song writing credit is John Paul Jones, which is harsh considering that his keyboard playing has an awful lot to do with the oriental qualities of the song. Despite the multitude of instruments, each musician can be heard clearly.

John Bonham, in particular, is very impressive. His mighty crashes are the stuff of Gods. To date, no drummer has been able to replicate his sound since his death in 1980, making these fantastic drumming moments more precious to saviour.

#1 Stairway to Heaven (featured on their untitled fourth album - 1971): Written by Page/Plant

It is an awful shame that Jimmy Page and Robert Plant are rarely praised as a song writing unit in the same way that John Lennon-Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger-Keith Richards, Burt Bacharach/Hal David and Johnny Marr/Morrissey are.

The fact of the matter is that these two complemented each other in many ways. Plant`s lyrical genius was the perfect counterpart to Page`s brilliant melody writing.

Over seven albums, they used their brilliant partnership to its greatest potential. But nowhere was it more successful than on Zeppelin`s magnum opus "Stairway to Heaven".

This is a work that procures the usage of a twelve string acoustic guitar, three recorders (performed by John Paul Jones), an electric piano and two electric guitars. Oh, and the greatest guitar solo ever recorded.

Jimmy Page must have sold his soul to the devil to come up with a solo that has the greatest tone, tempo and dynamic of any rock song. Then there are the lyrics.

On top of Page`s plaintive opening acoustic guitar, Plant sings about a lady who is so snobbish that she thinks all "that glitters is gold", who can "with a word, get what she came for".

Commencing as a criticism of snobbery (similar to Bob Dylan`s "Like A Rolling Stone"), it turns into an oratorio that talks about the mysteries of life.

Containing some fantastic images - "faces of those who stand lonely", "spirit crying", "voices of those who stand looking" - Plant rivals Roger Waters and Pete Townshend as rock`s finest lyricist.

Jones and Bonham shine also, creating rhythm parts that support, but do not overthrow, the songs melody. The four geniuses within the band (Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham) came up with what is possibly the greatest song of all time.

It is unlikely that Queen would have come up with Bohemian Rhapsody had it not been for Stairway, nor would Radiohead have released Paranoid Android either.

Stairway has been covered by artists as diverse as Frank Zappa and Rolf Harris. In 1971, Led Zeppelin unveiled a song that could only be described in one way: magical. Forty one years later, it still maintains that spell on its listeners.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Eoghan_M_Lyng

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

REVIEW: Ouch! The Rutles Returning on Blu-Ray

Eric Idle’s faux Fabs return in “The Rutles: Anthology,” a Blu-ray/DVD pack that hits these shores Dec. 3.

Included, of course, is “All You Need Is Cash,” the original 1978 TV special, which was produced by “SNL” chieftain Lorne Michaels.

The rock mockumentary is widely credited as inspiration for the more ambitious (and more successful) “Spinal Tap.”

The title is making its bow in HD and on Blu-ray, sourced from the original film stock. The telefilm last was digitally restored for its 30th anniversary in 2008, followed by a DVD rerelease.

The four Rutles were played by Monty Python’s Idle, Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band comic Neil Innes, Beach Boys veteran Ricky Fataar and drummer John Halsey.

Innes wrote the lion’s share of those spiffy Beatles parody songs, such as “Cheese and Onions” (“A Day in the Life”), “Ouch!” (“Help!”) and “Piggy in the Middle” (“I Am the Walrus”).

He was in the John Lennon role, with Idle as Paul McCartney (who apparently wasn’t amused). Idle’s pal Harrison plays an interviewer in the 76-minute telefilm.

Other real rock stars going along with the joke in “All You Need Is Cash” - often just called “The Rutles” - include George Harrison, Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, David Bowie and Ron Wood.

John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Gilda Radner made the “Saturday Night Live” connection. Bill Murray played Bill Murray the K.

The band originally was introduced by Idle as part of his post-Monty Python BBC2 satire “Rutland Weekend Television,” an “SCTV”-like series that co-starred Innes.

Broadway Video’s “The Rutles: Anthology” also offers a new interview with Idle, 2004′s sequel “The Rutles 2: Can’t Buy Me Lunch” and the original “Rutland Weekend” sketch from “Saturday Night Live” that aired in 1976 when Idle hosted the late-night show.

The package “is remixed and restored to all its glory,” the video label says. SonicPool Post Production provided film cleaning, HD formatting and picture restoration for the project.

The Rutles’ music of 1978 was collected on “The Rutles” CD in 1990. “Archaeology,” a 1996 collection of “outtakes” (new recordings made without Idle) was last remastered and re-released in 2007.

“Magical Mystery Tour,” the Beatles’ own experiment in television films, for better or worse, was released on Blu-ray in the summer of 2012.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

VIDEOS: Led Zeppelin Plays One of Its Earliest Concerts (Danish TV, 1969)

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2013/04/led_zeppelin_plays_one_of_its_earliest_concerts.html

Here’s a great record of what Led Zeppelin looked and sounded like in the first year of the band’s existence. The date was March 17, 1969.

The group’s debut album, Led Zeppelin, had been out in America for almost three months but would not be released in the UK for a couple more weeks.

Led Zeppelin was on a tour of the UK and Scandinavia when they stopped by the TV-Byen studios in Gladsaxe, Denmark, a suburb of Copenhagen, to play four songs from the new album: “Communication Breakdown” “Dazed and Confused” “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” “How Many More Times” Zeppelin had only been together a little more than half a year when the TV show was recorded (the band’s first gig, on September 7, 1968, also happened to have been in Gladsaxe) but they sound tight.

Some of the band’s trademark theatrics are already in place, including Jimmy Page’s ethereal violin-bow guitar solo. Page is playing his classic 1959 Fender Telecaster, a gift from Jeff Beck that Page had painted a dragon on and used as his main guitar during his days with the Yardbirds.

Only a month before this broadcast, during Zeppelin’s kickoff tour of America, Joe Walsh had given Page a Gibson Les Paul.

By the time Led Zeppelin II was finished, Page had switched to the Les Paul and basically retired the Telecaster, though he played it on his famous 1971 solo in “Stairway to Heaven.”

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

VIDEOS: Keith Moon, Drummer of The Who, Passes Out at 1973 Concert; 19-Year-Old Fan Takes Over

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2012/08/keith_moon_drummer_of_the_who_passes_out_at_1973_concert_19-year-old_fan_takes_over.html

In November 1973, Scot Halpin, a 19-year-old kid, scalped tickets to The Who concert in San Francisco, California. Little did he know that he’d wind up playing drums for the band that night - that his name would end up etched in the annals of rock ‘n’ roll.

The Who came to California with its album Quadrophenia topping the charts. But despite that, Keith Moon, the band’s drummer, had a case of the nerves. It was, after all, their first show on American soil in two years.

When Moon vomited before the concert, he ended up taking some tranquillizers to calm down. The drugs worked all too well, not least because the tranquillizers actually ended up being PCP. During the show, Moon’s drumming became sloppy and slow, writes his biographer Tony Fletcher.

Then, halfway through “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” he slumped onto his drums. Moon was out cold (see it all happen above). As the roadies tried to bring him back to form, The Who played as a trio. The drummer returned, but only briefly and collapsed again, this time heading off to the hospital to get his stomach pumped.

Scot Halpin watched the action from near the stage. Years later, he told an NPR interviewer, “my friend got real excited when he saw that [Moon was going to pass out again]. And he started telling the security guy, you know, this guy can help out.

And all of a sudden, out of nowhere comes Bill Graham,” the great concert promoter. Graham asked Halpin straight up, “Can you do it?,” and Halpin shot back “yes.”

When Pete Townshend asked the crowd, “Can anybody play the drums?” Halpin mounted the stage, settled into Moon’s drum kit, and began confidently playing the blues jam “Smoke Stacked Lighting” that soon segued into “Spoonful.”

It was a way of testing the kid out. Then came a nine minute version of “Naked Eye.” By the time it was over, Halpin was physically spent.

The show ended with Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle and Scot Halpin taking a bow center stage. And, to thank him for his efforts, The Who gave him a concert jacket that was promptly stolen.

As a sad footnote to an otherwise great story, Halpin died in 2008. The cause, a brain tumor. He was only 54 years old.

Monday, October 14, 2013

VIDEO: The Fundamentals of Jazz & Rock Drumming Explained in Five Creative Minutes

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2013/10/the-fundamentals-of-jazz-and-rock-drumming.html

Two weeks ago we posted CDZA’s “Journey of the Guitar Solo,” an entertaining tour of 50 years of rock and roll guitar playing.

Now we’re back with the group’s follow-up, a fast and fun introduction to drums. New York-based drummer Allan Mednard takes us on a quick tour of the instrument, demonstrating the basic differences between jazz and rock drumming and showing how they have evolved over time.

CDZA, short for Collective Cadenza, is an experimental music video project of a group of highly skilled musicians in New York. For more examples of their work, visit the CDZA Web site.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Library of Congress Releases Audio Archive of Interviews with Rock ‘n’ Roll Icons

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2012/11/bowie_calls_jagger_conservative_in_music_execs_collection_of_intimate_interviews_.html

Kate Rix writes about digital media and education. Read more of her work at katerixwriter.com and thenifty.blogspot.com.

Back in the mid-to-late 1980s, some of the figures we consider Rock and Roll icons were near or at the nadir of their popularity.

With Duran Duran, The Police and Michael Jackson at the top of the charts, artists like George Harrison, Bob Dylan and even David Bowie had put out their last great records and were waiting for the nostalgia wheel to turn.

Enter Joe Smith, recording industry executive and former disc jockey.

Over two years in the late 80s, while president of Capitol Records/EMI, Smith recorded nearly 240 hours of interviews with a catalog of major musical artists from Mick Jagger, Bowie and Paul McCartney to Yoko Ono, George Harrison and Linda Ronstadt.

Smith used excerpts of the interviews for the book Off the Record, published in 1988. Now retired, he has donated the archive of unedited audio interviews to the Library of Congress. The Joe Smith Collection will feature talks with more than 200 artists.

As an industry insider Smith had extraordinary access. It’s not that these artists aren’t already heavily interviewed and documented. It’s the intimate tone of the conversations that pleases and surprises.

In a leisurely conversation with Smith, David Bowie talks about taking classes from Peter Frampton’s father in art school. Yoko Ono, interviewed in late 1987, comes across as still living in the shadow of her late husband.

By now, Ono has a bigger reputation as an artist in her own right. Linda Ronstadt, who Smith signed to a recording contract, reflects on her years performing at L.A.’s Troubadour nightclub during the rise of country rock.

By now each of these superstars has written his or her memoir and the golden era of major labels has been dissected by musical diggers. So listening to these interviews from the 1980s takes on a nostalgic feel of its own.

Smith’s questions sound naive now. Isn’t it amazing, he remarks to the legendary producer George Martin, that the Beatles were so heavily influenced by African-American blues?!

It’s sweet to hear legendary artists and an industry insider stumble upon observations like that one, which have now been so thoroughly digested.

Smith transitioned from broadcast radio to record promotions, eventually rising to executive ranks as president of Warner Brothers, Elektra/Asylum and Capitol Records/EMI.

He signed the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix and Van Morrison, so it’s no surprise that Mickey Hart is interviewed, sharing an intimate story about his father.

So far, audio for only 25 interviews is available on the library’s site. More interviews will be uploaded over time, including one with Smith himself in which he talks dirt about his relationship with former business partner Frank Sinatra.

Friday, October 11, 2013

VIDEO: Classic Jazz Album Covers Animated, or the Re-Birth of Cool

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2011/07/classic_jazz_album_covers_animated.html

Hi-Fi from bante on Vimeo.

Back in 2009, Blue Note Records, the influential jazz label, was celebrating its 70th anniversary. And The Bella Vista Social Pub, looking to promote its own summer jazz concerts in Siena, Tuscany, came up with a smart idea.

Why not pay tribute to Blue Note (and promote the Italian concert series) by animating the cool cover designs that graced Blue Note albums during its heyday.

These cover designs were the work of Reid Miles, a graphic designer who moved from Esquire magazine to Blue Note around 1955, then designed hundreds of aura-creating covers until he left the label in 1967.

The animated video above, called Hi-Fi, brings Miles’ work back to life. Graphicology has more on the nostalgia-inducing clip here.

via HolyKaw

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Beatles: History and Album Guide

by Brian C Westland

Front cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Clu...

The Beatles are almost universally regarded as the greatest act in the history of post-war popular music, and that claim is hard to deny when one considers their status as the biggest selling musical act in history, their universal critical acclaim, and the never duplicated hysteria that surrounded the band during the height of "Beatlemania" in the Sixties.

The cult of the Beatles is alive and well around the world more than 40 years after the band's demise.

The group got its start in Liverpool, in the Fifties, as a John Lennon-led skiffle band called the "Quarrymen."

Lennon was a rebellious Liverpool youth who had been introduced to rock and roll music from the recordings brought across the Atlantic and into Liverpool by English merchant sailors.

It was from these recordings that Lennon and his generation in England were first introduced to the likes of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Little Richard, Fats Domino, and other early fathers of the music.

Eager to emulate his new heroes and make a name for himself, Lennon recruited some schoolmates to join him in his new band. Members would come and go until the band settled with a lineup of Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe, and Pete Best, a drummer.

The band changed their name to the Silver Beetles for a time and then finally settled on "The Beatles." The band acquired an avid local following in Liverpool and became a fixture at the Cavern Club, where they performed inspired sets on a regular basis.

While the band was playing clubs in Hamburg, Germany, Sutcliffe fell in love with a German girl and decided to stay behind, leaving the Beatles a four man outfit. Sutcliffe would die of a brain hemorrhage at age 21 in 1962.

The group made its first recording as the backing band for singer Tony Sheridan on the single, "My Bonnie," which received airplay in Liverpool area.

The popularity of this record inspired Liverpool record shop owner Brian Epstein to attend one of the Beatles' Cavern shows, and when Epstein witnessed the wild reaction of the audience, he convinced the group to take him on as their manager.

Epstein convinced the band to drop drummer Pete Best from the group in favor of Ringo Starr from a rival Liverpool band, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.

The final roster of the Beatles was set with Lennon and Harrison on guitar, Paul McCartney on bass, and Ringo Starr on drums. The group would record the moderately successful single, "Love Me Do," before the end of 1962.

Epstein then began to search for a record label to sign his band. After numerous rejections, the band was finally signed by the Parlophone label. The Beatles recorded their first album for the label, "Please Please Me," in 1963.

The album was recorded in a single day, apparently to capture as close as possible the immediacy of their live shows. Although Epstein had trouble finding a U.S. label to sign the band, he managed to get the Beatles booked on the Ed Sullivan TV Show in April, 1964.

New York disc jockey, Murray the K, hyped the Beatles upcoming TV appearance, setting the stage for the birth of Beatlemania. The Beatles appearance on the Sullivan show was a sensation seen by millions of Americans, and the Beatles become international superstars overnight.

The Beatles thus began an exhausting two years of near constant recording and touring. The early Beatles records were released separately in the U.S. and U.K., sometimes with different titles.

For example, "Please, Please Me," the band's first U.K. album was released in the U.S. as "Meet the Beatles." The names of the albums don't matter much as everything this band recorded is essential, and any collection of Beatles music is guaranteed to be of high quality.

Titles to look for from the 1964 albums are:" With the Beatles," "Twist and Shout," "A Hard Days Night," "Beatles for Sale," and "Beatles 65."

The Beatles' music would soon change from light poppy love songs to darker and more introspective fare as the group attempted to expand its musical horizons.

With the release of the album, "Help" (1965), the Beatles began the process of reinventing themselves. The title track, "Help," "Yesterday," and the very Dylanesque, "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," saw the group moving into previously uncharted territory.

Their songs were still just as catchy, the harmonies still as sweet, but the material had become darker and more intriguing.

This artistic growth continued on the next album, "Rubber Soul" (1965), and for the next five albums. This string of albums represents the Beatles' best work and some of the best albums of popular music ever recorded.

On Rubber Soul, the band begins to experiment musically with the inclusion of sitar on "Norwegian Wood," and several songs such as "Michelle," "If I Needed Someone," and "In My Life" which could easily be classified as "folk rock."

The Beatles' following studio release, "Revolver" (1966), sees the Beatles at the peak of their powers.

Revolver is an astonishing collection of songs representing a myriad of styles from the art rock of "Eleanor Rigby" and "Good Day Sunshine" to the hard rock of "Taxman" and full blown psychedelic experimentation in "Tomorrow Never Knows."

The release of Revolver coincided with the band's retirement from live performances. Freed of life on the road, the Beatles would dedicate themselves to experimentation in the recording studio.

With the able support of their producer, George Martin, the group would again reach new heights of creativity in the studio with "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (1967).

This album's overt experimentation was an attempt by John Lennon and Paul McCartney to outdo the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson who had raised the studio bar with his work on the Beach Boys' classic recording, "Pet Sounds," during the previous year.

"Sgt. Pepper," which is often cited as the Beatles' magnum opus, is every bit as thrilling as Revolver with epic songs such as "Lovely Rita," "For the Benefit of Mr. Kite," "She's Leaving Home," and 'A Day in the Life."

The Beatles kept rolling with the double album simply titled, "The Beatles" (1968). Its unadorned, solid white cover earned it the nickname, "The White Album," among fans. The album is amazingly eclectic and contains nary a bad tune amid its myriad of tracks.

Among the album's classic tunes are, "Blackbird," "Mother Nature's Son," "Revolution," "Back in The USSR," and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

In 1969, The Beatles would release their last true studio album, "Abbey Road." Group in-fighting that had lasted for several years was becoming intolerable and Paul McCartney was tiring of holding things together.

McCartney would later signal the demise of the band by releasing his first solo album in 1970. Abbey Road was another brilliant effort that contained classic tracks such as "Come Together," "Here Comes the Sun," and most impressively, the medley of short, connected songs that finishes the album.

"Let It Be," which was recorded prior to Abbey Road, would be released in 1970 with the title track, "Let it Be," and Lennon's "Across the Universe" as standout tracks.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Brian_C_Westland

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

VIDEOS: The Story of the Guitar: The Complete Three-Part Documentary

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2012/08/story_of_the_guitar.html

It started back in the 1950s. Bill Haley and Elvis burst onto the scene. Rock ‘n’ roll was born. The guitar took center stage, and it never left.

How the guitar came to “dominate the soundtrack of our lives” is the subject of The Story of the Guitar, a three part documentary narrated by the BBC’s creative director Alan Yentob.

The story of the guitar is, of course, a big one. The instrument, and its stringed precursors, goes way back - all the way to the Greeks. And the influence of the guitar can be felt far and wide.

It plays a lead role in classical music in Spain (and China); jazz in France (think Django); the blues in the Mississippi Delta, and beyond.

Yentob paints the bigger picture for you in the first segment, “In the Beginning” (above). Part II (Out of the Frying Pan) focuses on the big moment when the guitar went electric. And Part III gets you up close and personal with the masters of the electric guitar.

The documentary features interviews with Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, The Who’s Pete Townshend, Iggy Pop, and The Edge from U2 (Part 1Part 2 and Part 3), to name a few.
H/T Mental Floss

Part 2: Out of the Frying Pan

Part 3: This Time it's Personal

Unfortunately, Part 3 has been blocked by YouTube.

Friday, October 4, 2013

VIDEO: Here Comes The Sun: The Lost Guitar Solo by George Harrison

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2012/01/here_comes_the_sun_the_lost_guitar_solo_by_george_harrison.html

Here Comes the Sun - it’s one of George Harrison’s contributions to Abbey Road (1969). And, among the many great Beatles’ songs, it’s my sentimental favorite.

While we’re feeling sentimental, let me bring you this - Dhani Harrison, the son of the late guitarist, returns to the recording studio (presumably at Abbey Road) with George Martin, the Beatles’ legendary producer, and Martin’s son Giles.

Together, they play with the mix of “Here Comes the Sun,” and then the wondrous little moment of discovery happens. They stumble upon the long lost guitar solo that never made the final cut. Enjoy!


Thursday, October 3, 2013

VIDEOS: Alan Lomax’s Music Archive Houses Over 17,400 Folk Recordings From 1946 to the 1990s

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2013/10/alan-lomaxs-music-archive.html

The work of folklorists and musicologists like Alan Lomax, Stetson Kennedy, and Harry Smith has long been revered in countercultural communities and libraries.

It also occasionally reaches mainstream audiences in, for example, the Coen Brother’s 2000 film Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? and its attendant soundtrack, or the playlists of purists on college radio and NPR. But their recordings are much more than historical novelties.

Archives like Lomax’s Association for Cultural Equity - which we’ve featured before - help remind us of our origins as much as bottom-up accounts like Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States.

Lomax and his colleagues believed that folk art and music infuse and renew “high” art and provide bulwarks against the cynical destitution of mass-market commercial media that can seem so deadening and inescapable.

That is not to say that notions of authenticity aren’t fraught with their own problems of exploitation. Approaching folk art as tourists, we can demean it and ourselves.

But the problem is less, I think, one of gentrification than of neglect: it’s simply far too easy to lose touch, a much-remarked-upon irony of the age of social networking. Lomax understood this.

He founded ACE “to explore and preserve the world’s expressive traditions with humanistic commitment and scientific engagement.” The organization resides at NYC’s Hunter College and, since Lomax’s retirement in 1996, has been overseen by his daughter, Anna Lomax Wood.

Through an arrangement with the Library of Congress, which houses the originals, ACE has access to all of Lomax’s collection of field recordings and can disseminate them online to the public.

Lomax’s association has also long been active in repatriating recorded artifacts to libraries and archives in their places of origin, giving local communities access to cultural histories that may otherwise be lost to them.

Lomax underscored the significance of his organization’s name in a 1972 essay entitled “An Appeal for Cultural Equity,” in which he lays out the importance of preserving cultural diversity against the “oppressive dullness and psychic distress” imposed upon “those areas where centralized music industries, exploiting the star system and controlling the communication system, put the local musician out of work and silence folk song.”

Are we any more improved forty years later for the shocking monopolization of mass media in the hands of a few conglomerates?

I’d answer unequivocally no but for one important qualification: mass media in the form of open online archives allows us unprecedented access to, for example, the awesome late-seventies film of R.L. Burnside (top), who like many Mississippi Delta bluesmen before him, would only achieve recognition much later in life.

Or we can see native North Carolinian Cas Wallin (above) sing a version of folk song “Pretty Saro” in 1982, a song Bob Dylan recorded and only recently released.

Then there’s one of my favorites, “Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor,” picked and sung below by Mississippian Sam Chatmon - a song played and recorded by countless black and white blues and country artists like Mississippi John Hurt and Gillian Welch.

These and thousands of other examples from the ACE archive bring musicologists, historians, folklorists, activists, educators, and everyone else closer to Lomax’s ideal - that we “learn how we can put our magnificent mass communications technology at the service of each and every branch of the human family.”

The ACE catalog contains over 17,400 digital files, beginning with Lomax’s first tape recordings in 1946, to his digital work in the 90s.

The archive includes songs, stories, jokes, sermons, interviews and other audio artifacts from the American South, Appalachia, the Caribbean, and many more locales.

The archive features recordings from famous names like Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly but primarily consists of folk music from anonymous folk, representing a variety of languages and ethnicities.

And the archive is ever-expanding as it continues to digitize rare recordings, and to upload vintage film, like the videos above, to its YouTube channel.

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness
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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

VIDEOS: Remembering Janis Joplin: Some Classic Live Performances and Previews of a New Joplin Musical

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2012/10/remembering_janis_joplin_some_classic_live_performances_and_previews_of_a_new_joplin_musical.html

Piece of My Heart
Piece of My Heart (Wikipedia)
Janis Joplin died forty-two years ago this month at age 27 of the same excesses that killed many of her peers and at the absolute height of her career.

But in the mid-nineteen fifties, Joplin was a misfit kid with terrible acne living a lonely existence in Port Arthur, Texas.

Then she discovered the blues, and it transformed her. Bessie Smith and Leadbelly, Odetta and Aretha Franklin.

By 1964, she was living in San Francisco and recording blues standards with future Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen.

She rose to prominence and found herself a place to fit in with psychedelic pioneers Big Brother and the Holding Company.

Big Brother didn’t initially take to Joplin’s soulful rasp, but she eventually won them over, and won millions of fans over to the band, particularly with their second album Cheap Thrills, which spawned the single “Piece of My Heart,” and my favorite, her rendition of blues classic “Ball and Chain.”

Joplin broke away from Big Brother shortly after Cheap Thrills and formed a solo act, touring and recording with The Kozmic Blues Band, with whom she recorded just one album, I Got Dem ‘Ol Kozmic Blues Again Mama!.

Critics didn’t love it, but this transitional phase was important for Janis since it enabled her to work in a more blue-based sound better suited to her dramatic persona. Kozmic draws on the classic Stax/Volt records template, with horns and backing vocals as prominent accompaniment.

The record’s strongest moments are probably the Bee Gees-penned “To Love Somebody” and the funk-soul “Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)” (above in Frankfurt, Germany).

In the last year of her life, Joplin headlined the all-star Festival Express train tour through Canada, with Buddy Guy, The Band, The Grateful Dead, and others.

The tour was documented by Academy Award winning cinematographer Peter Biziou and the footage has been acquired by Historic Films Archive, who are digitizing almost 96 hours of film from the tour, including, they claim, the only known live footage of Joplin singing “Me and My Bobby McGee.”

Joplin continued, through most of that year, to elevate her art, recording the best-selling, posthumously-released Pearl with new backing band Full Tilt Boogie. This is the Joplin most casual fans know - of “Me and My Bobby McGee” and “Mercedes Benz,” and for good reason.

One of her final public appearances was on The Dick Cavett Show in June of 1970 (below), where she performs several live numbers with Full Tilt Boogie.

In Cavett’s interview with her, Joplin returns to her painful teenage years, saying that her high school classmates “laughed me out of class, out of town, and out of the state.”

While the final period of Joplin’s life saw her produce some incredible work, her name occasionally becomes a shorthand for rock and roll excesses that obscure her amazing, if all-too-brief, career.

In an effort to celebrate her life, rather than dwell on her death, the producers of the new show One Night With Janis Joplin (currently at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC) elide the drug abuse that killed her and focus on the music.

Joplin’s brother Michael talks about their musical upbringing in the video below, which also includes clips from the loosely-plotted musical, with Mary Bridget Davies as the star.

Josh Jones is a doctoral candidate in English at Fordham University and a co-founder and former managing editor of Guernica / A Magazine of Arts and Politics.
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