Wednesday, November 20, 2013

True or False: Rock is Dead

1973:

2013:

37 comments:

david_b said...

It's like sayin' Jazz or Classical is dead..

FALSE.

Growing up, for every Stones group, you had a Rick Springfield or some 'lollypop-rock' group on the AM dial.

Historically, you had R&R until (some say) Elvis joined the Army, then you had the TAMI Show which seemed to be the last movie where their was a virtual melting pot of different styles, pop/blues/rock/surf/James Brown (in a class all his own.., obviously), then from there R&R became 'Rock'..

People tend to confuse Popular Music and Rock way too much. As an illustration..: Pop 'wants' to be Rock, Rock simply slams the door on little brother Pop, tellin' him to stop buggin' him.

Anonymous said...

I suppose I'm lucky that I have no clue who those guys in the second picture are.

Alan

Edo Bosnar said...

I think I first heard someone claim that "rock is dead" back when I was a preteen in the late '70s. Well, if it's been dead since then, that's a pretty vigorous corpse...
(Obviously, I'm going with false here.)

Matt Celis said...

The music lives, its popularity is in the toilet.

Doug said...

In regard to new music, I'll confess to being lazy and set in my ways. To me rock music still lives as MP3s of Led Zeppelin, the Who, Aerosmith, AC/DC, and on into other fringe genres such as John Mellencamp, CSNY, etc.

I just don't put forth the effort these days to discover, know, or appreciate current artists. And I know -- shame on me.

Doug

david_b said...

Funny story off what Doug said..:

I've done gigs in the past where I gather some guys I've seen play who may/may not have played together before, just to infuze some new synergy into the mix. I was walkin' along the lake with the mrs one day and I came across a bass player I've used. I told him I just got down the fills and lead guitar parts for the Beatles 'Drive My Car'. He looked at me quizzically and asked, 'Don't you learn ANY songs from the last 20yrs..?'

I asked back.., 'Why should I...?'

J.A. Morris said...

False, but it feels like it's on life support.

Karen said...

I just don't think there is a lot of actual rock music around any more. The vast majority of stuff (I can't call it music) being played is this over-produced, manufactured pop that seems completely forgettable and interchangeable. It's all singers and not bands any more.

In 1969 the top three albums were the Beatles' Abbey Road, Led Zeppelin II, and the Stones' Let It Bleed. Think about that. And there were a ton of other great records produced that year. But at some point, rock itself became absorbed by the mainstream. it became conventional, instead of the scruffy, rule-breaking rebel. I mean, look what happened to the Stones. They went from being outlaws to businessmen. They're still hanging around, like ghosts of themselves, or worse, vultures feeding of their own past.

The few groups out there that manage to make decent records are buried under a pile of crap, which is what the general public seems to prefer. So, yeah, you can see I'm going with True on this.If rock isn't dead yet, it's gasping for breath.

themiddlespaces said...

There was never any such thing as rock. It is a meaningless category, often used to create a position from which to posit a false dichotomy.

There have been (and still are), however, bands that rock (in various ways) and I appreciate them.

A lot of contemporary pop music does seem rather homogenized - but to me that just means when something sticks out from it it is all the more compelling.

david_b said...

Karen, Karen, Karen, you say 'over-produced' like it's current and a bad thing. :)

Did George Martin 'over-produce' the Fabs..?

The Monkees were certainly the undisputed industry posterchild of 'over-produce', until they fired Donny Kirchner and did their own stuff.

(Not like the Byrds, Beach Boys, Animals, and all the other top groups didn't do the same thing, just never got the flak for it..)

Aaaand, what's wrong with becoming businessmen..? You mean....{gasp} 'maturity'...?

Sure beats 'em from ending up broke geezers dating girls 40yrs younger (..um.. ok, scratch that..), and they still pack the stadiums and theaters. I do know what you mean and do agree with it to an extent.

Again as I mentioned, folks thought R&R was dead when Elvis joined the Army and folks like Brian Epstein were being told by record execs 'guitar groups were on their way out..'.

As for the Dartford Delta (aka the Stones..), young rock writers were saying the same thing about the 'aging-neanderthal stadium events' like Zeppelin and the Stones in the mid-seventies, when punk started emerging.. I know 'Exile on Main Street' seemed distant by then, but at least they cranked out 'Some Girls' by some stroke of luck.

Greg said...

I tend to agree with Karen on this. When I saw the question my gut answer was sadly, true. But then I thought well it's not really dead, there are still bands recording and touring, etc but yeah life support isn't far off the mark.

To me the biggest shame is the lack of diversity now. I mean the 70's had Bad Company and Ambrosia and Bee Gees, just to give examples- you had rock, disco, punk, AM gold, whatever. In the 80's you might hear Phil Collins, then Twisted sister, then Billy Idol then Talking Heads. Diversity.

Now it feels like its all for kiddies- over produced stuff 1D and all that. Obviously I'm painting broad strokes- I'm sure there's plenty of talent and musicianship out there, but where is the diversity of styles like we had in those previous decades?

I miss guitar riffs and rock bands on tour. :)

Doug said...

If I can add a curmudgeonly comment...

I do close readings in my Social Injustice class on two songs: Everyday People by Sly and the Family Stone and Hotdogs and Hamburgers by John Mellencamp. We analyze the lyrics, etc., and I of course play the songs for the kids to hear. And then I never fail to ask them: "You hear that? It's the sound of real people playing real instruments!"

They just look at me...

Doug

david_b said...

It kinda depends on what stations you listen to and how they're programmed, Greg..

A new person moved in a cube nearby me and has her 'classic rock' station playing. I hear Mumford and Sons, Jumpin' Jack Flash, some Who, I fairly good mix (except when I'm REALLY trying to concentrate sometimes or when I have my Bach cello stuff playing..).

Ah, as for guitar riffs, I SO AGREE that we haven't had decent guitar riffs for quite a long long time. I was invited to see McCartney this last summer, and I still find myself wishin' he'd do a decent riff. Same goes to any other classic band still touring.

Guitar riffs were always the hallmark of a classic rock song. Good mention, Greg.

Anonymous said...

For a second, I thought you were asking about the Who song...Actually, I think there is some pretty cool music around these days, you just have to look for it (and probably not in the Top 40).

Mike W.

Matt Celis said...

Folks say " overproduced" but they mean "poorly produced" in my estimation.

There's also a huge irony factor of oldsters not liking the youngsters' music.

themiddlespaces said...

Also in counterpoint to the images above:

1973


2013

Steve Does Comics said...

I think it depends what's meant by, "Rock."

If it means things like Poodle Rock, AOR and Heavy Metal, for some of us that stuff's been dead since the moment it was born.

If it means just stuff that's rough around the edges, then I don't see any reason to think it's dead.

I certainly wouldn't agree that there's no variety anymore. I'd say there's more than ever, it's just that the whole music scene is more fragmented than it used to be, so you have to cast your net wider in order to hear a wider variety of sounds but there's people out there making pretty much every genre of music that's ever been invented.

The big danger is in only listening to the charts and thinking that's somehow typical of what's being released each week, when it mostly only reflects what twelve year olds are listening to right now.

Karen said...

One thing I was trying to get at by pointing out the top albums in 1969 is that there was a time when good solid rock music was the rule, not the exception. You didn't have to "seek it out" because it was everywhere. Now if I want to hear new rock, I usually listen to Underground Garage on Sirius XM, and if I hear a group I like I'll follow up on that.

But these are typically bands that are eking by. The most popular "artists" out there are the synthetic, auto-tuned singers and boy bands that I frankly despise.

David, the Pre-Fab Four might have been manufactured, but they had some solid songwriters behind them. I still find their songs very listenable. I wouldn't put them up there with the Stones but it's still good stuff.

Although as I've said before, I wish the Stones had decided to disband after Some Girls. I don't think they've done anything truly worthwhile since then, and they've only diminished their legend as they've gone on and on with their bloated stage shows. I'm sure Keith could've found projects to pursue -Charlie certainly did. And Mick could've made money some way. It seems to be his primary interest now, not music.

david_b said...

Ah, Karen, I miss having great discussions with you on Rock, I truely do..

The Pre-Fab 'may' have had solid writing and production (adapted from the Tin Pan Alley just a few short years earlier, even Jan and Dean), but they obviously had no organic music roots, quality being a very different argument from musical roots and integrity (if the kids even know what that means these days..). Without the show, they would have had little traction

Stones bloated shows..? Umm, that started on their 1975 tour.., 3yrs before 'Some Girls', like Mick's NSFW floatation devices shown below..:

http://www.lissgallery.com/bob_gruen/Rolling_Stones/gallery_photos/Giant_Phallus_NYC_1975.jpg

http://www.timeisonourside.com/inconcert12.jpg

Mick in 1974..:

http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/Kktm9rwz-dE/hqdefault.jpg

Great to see Ronnie Wood join for that one (still sorry Taylor left...), but it was probably the lamest-looking tour they ever did.. Keith was really at his worst on coke, Mick with all his mascara, etc..

And I'd mention that for all the 'classic' albums that came out in the 'glory years of rock', there were dozens released by other top bands that were still dreck.

Doug said...

Whoa, Osvaldo...

That Donnie Osmond was sexy, wasn't he? And he was, after all, a little bit rock and roll.

Doug

Horace said...

"Rock is dead they say. Long live rock." - The Who ("Long Live Rock")

The Golden Age of rock & roll was the mid-60's to the end of the 70's. A period that started with the appearance of The Beatles on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW in 1964 and ended with the death of John Bonham in 1980. It was fueled in large part by the rise of the LP as an art form. That era is long gone. It's never coming back.

However, rock & roll isn't dead. It's still vital to many. This year I paid to see acts like The Who, the Rolling Stones, Tom Petty and John Fogerty in concert. They still RULE. Rock may not seem as dominant as it used be, and maybe it isn't. But, it's still a cultural force.

-Horace Austin

Graham said...

As long as the old guys are still rocking, then Rock is not dead.

However, I don't picture any of today's rock fans lining up in 40 years to see any of today's "rockers" getting their groove on when in their 60's and 70's, like people do with stars of the past.

There's just too much cookie cutter crap on the radio these days while innovative bands like Tedeschi Trucks and Robert Randolph & the Family Band can't get heard by the masses.

Doug said...

I don't know anything about them, but I have some colleagues at school who like a band called "Trampled by Turtles".

That's an awesome name.

Doug

Karen said...

David -I too enjoy the chance to discuss our old rock gods, now either dead or perhaps better off...

Agreed, the bloat began in the mid-70 for the Stones. That's when they began to buy into their own hype. But still, the stuff they created prior with Mick Taylor (yeah, I could've done entirely without Ron Wood) was just so good. It's a shame that Keith's ego essentially forced him out of the band. Some Girls was the first 'new' Stones album I bought, and even then I knew it wasn't quite a classic, but it was pretty good. But the next was Emotional Rescue, then Tattoo You and well the long slide had begun. The boys were diving into their closets to find old tapes to plunder and coming up with a lot of half-assed 'new' stuff. I haven't bothered to buy a Stones album since, although I've heard songs from each of their releases, and never felt the need to buy them. I'll just keep playing Let It Bleed, Exile, etc...

And Osvaldo? Even though I wouldn't want to spend more than ten seconds listening to them, I can at least respect Donnie and Marie -they actually sang on their albums. I don't know that these auto-tuned "singers" today could harmonize if their lives depended on it!

Yeah, I'm old and cranky...

Edo Bosnar said...

Reading over all of these comments, I have to say that I can agree that a certain era, or really eras, of rock may be dead. But I stand by my "false" vote. Like Horace, I think it's still alive, still out there and still a cultural force.

Ace Frehley Jr said...

False...theres still lots of great bands out there...MUSE quickly comes to mind!

Matt Celis said...

let us not forget Michael Nesmith wrote, produced, performed his own material from Day One with the Monkees before we paint with broad strokes. personally I find him more talented than most "rock" bands.

Fred W. Hill said...

I'll vote False and take the stance that "rock" will never truly die, even may never dominate the music scene as it did circa 1964 - 1973 (say the Silver Age of Rock if the era from the release of Rock Around the Clock in 1954 until about 1959, when Elvis was in the army and Buddy Holly died in a plane crash, is rock's Golden Age).
Disco was dominant when I was in high school in the late '70s, but there was still a lot of great rock -- both "main-stream" and punk & post-punk (I'm listening to some Clash just now).
To be honest, I'm not a purist -- I like a variety of musical styles, including classical, Celtic new age (i.e., Enya & Clannad), folk, classic rock and the various genres that were part of the mix of "alternative" music in the late '80s & '90s. Over the last decade I stopped listening to commercial radio stations, mostly just whatever's on NPR or my collection of about 1,300 cds & maybe 50 vinyl lps that are still in good condition & that I haven't replaced with cds yet.
I'm sublimely unaware of what the big hitmakers of the 21st century thus far have been, but I suspect some of the best music of this era just doesn't get a lot of play on the radio and you have to find it on your own somehow or know someone who does keep up.

Redartz said...

I must go with "false". As several others have pointed out,, there is some quality music being made out there. I'm enjoying "Of Monsters and Men", and Ace mentioned "Muse". I have found numerous good bands on YouTube ; not so much on the Billboard charts. The optimist in me hopes the love for good music and good Rock will bring it back to greater public attention . But perhaps it will simply remain a niche; a genre, offering great rewards to those who seek it out.

Dave Otterby said...

There is a great rock scene going on in Portland right now. Pretty much every band on Dirtnap records is great. ie, Dog Party, Big Eyes, Mean Jeans, Bad Sports, Guantanamo Baywatch, Mind Spiders, Sugar Stems, The Goodnight Loving etc ...

Anonymous said...

Nope, it's not dead. The problem is I'm turning into an old fart and I don't like new things much anymore...
But when I started going to college in 1990, I was still listening to a lot of old stuff, pretty much the same stuff Doug mentioned, disillusioned by the crap from the '80's. Then I heard college radio, and all the fantastic bands coming out like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, etc., etc...and I knew rock wasn't dead.
Horace quoted "Long Live Rock," by the Who, and I think what Townsend was implying was that rock is always gonna be around in some incarnation or another, like Dr. Who.
But that damn Justin Bieber...boy, somebody really needs to kick that kid's ass. It's getting out of hand.

Edo Bosnar said...

Since others mentioned some newer bands they like to prove the "not dead" point, I'll add the Jim Jones Revue and - although they're not purely rock, rather more a fusion of several styles - Gogol Bordello.

And Fred, nice to see someone else who appreciates Clannad, although I prefer their older, pre-synthesizer era (which is why I don't really like wayward member Enya that much).

Dave (Otterby), thanks for the tips on those bands. Nice to know that cool things are still coming out of what I considered the Mecca of all things cool when I was a kid (i.e., Portland). Otherwise, I'm only a bit familiar with Guantanamo Baywatch; I love that surf meets the Cramps sound. Speaking of nouveau surf, you might like a Croatian band called the Bambi Molesters - just pop that name into YouTube and you'll find a bunch of videos.

Garett said...

I don't think rock is dead, but there is something to what Karen said about "scruffy, rule-breaking". There seemed to be revolution in the music at the time, a combination of "let it all hang out" with "shoot for the moon". There's good music out there now, but is it playing it on the conservative side?

Here's Focus with Hocus Pocus, rocking and experimental and wacky all rolled into one:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4ouPGGLI6Q

Horace said...

An addendum to my earlier post.

1980 was a pivotal year in rock & roll. Not only because of Bonzo's death and end of the Led Zeppelin, but also because of John Lennon's death. I should have said that earlier.

1980 - truly the end of an era.

-Horace Austin

Graham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

If you ask me, rock has gotten better over the years. People always judge me because I love today's rock and country music, and because I listen to pretty much everything except classic rock. I just can't get into it. Unlike modern rock and country, classic rock really doesn't have any depth or substance.

So, I say false.

DEATH TO CLASSIC ROCK!

Garett said...

Can you give examples of new bands you like Anonymous, and classic bands you dislike?

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