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Ongoing History of New Music

Ongoing History of New Music

Ongoing History of New Music looks at things from the alt-rock universe to hip hop, from artist profiles to various thematic explorations. It is Canada?s most well known music documentary hosted by the legendary Alan Cross. Whatever the episode, you?re definitely going to learn something that you might not find anywhere else. Trust us on this.

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The History of Alt-Rock: Chapter 9

It had taken a few years, but by the middle 1980s, the underground music scene in north America had reached some kind of a tipping point...enough people had discovered punk, new wave and all the sub-genres associated with both so that things started to become really interesting...

Campus radio stations began to have more clout...the more support they gave to these non-mainstream bands, the more they were appreciated and the more power they wielded...

And as these stations began to communicate with each other through publications and charts and conventions, their influence and reach grew even more...turns out that a surprising number of people were really tired of whatever the mainstream rock industry was pumping out...each day, the ?alternative? scene?that?s what we were calling it by the mid-80s?attracted more fans who were only too happy to evangelize the epiphanies that led to their conversion...

Yes, college radio helped...so did all the bands willing to tour alt-friendly clubs...and so did independent record stores which set themselves apart from the big chains by stocking more of the weird stuff....

But we can?t forget the roll of MTV and any channel or show that played videos from all those weird, new telegenic bands from the UK...

If you spent any time at all watching music videos in the middle 80s, it was obvious that as interesting as the growing alt-rock scene was in north America, there was something just as interesting happening on that cold, rainy rock in the north Atlantic...and it was all happening so fast...

This is the complete history of alt-rock, chapter nine...

 

 

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2022-07-31
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Songs of Protest

Sometimes people get so pissed off or so inspired by something that they just have to sing about it?this is the protest song and it?s been with us for centuries?

It?s music that encourages political and social change? and if done right?and if circumstances are correct?the song can mobilize people to take action, lift spirits and annoy (or even scare) authorities of the establishment?

Protest music comes in all forms:  classical, folk, reggae, pop, hip hop and, of course, rock?it can rail against war, demand social justice, call out politicians and petition for greater rights for women, minorities, labour and the marginalized?

The singers and musicians behind this music may be regarded as thought leaders, social influencers and even prophets?and least for a time?

What i?d like to go is go through the history of protest in song from the world of alt-rock, those times when a loud guitar becomes tool for making things better?for everyone?

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2022-07-27
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The History of Alt-Rock: Chapter 8

When punk rock first appeared in the middle 1970s, the major record companies in north America really didn?t care...they were happily making millions and millions of dollars from big rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles.....

And there was millions more coming in from disco...which was sweeping the world....it was like a plague?but a profitable one...so why would they bother with this weird stuff bubbling up from tiny, scary clubs on both sides of the Atlantic?...they were too busy going to big stadium shows and getting down at Studio 54...

But this new music wouldn?t go away...so when Led Zeppelin broke up and the Stones and The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac disappeared up their own buts and the disco bubble finally burst the record execs tried to tame it......marketing the gentler and less intense bands under the umbrella of something they called ?New Wave?.

Oh, they tried with punk, but they got it really, really wrong...you gotta wonder what was going through that executive?s head when The Ramones were picked to open shows for toto....

No, seriously...The Ramones were the opening act for Toto on one tour...I swear I didn?t make that up...it happened in Lake Charles, Louisiana...January 26, 1979...they were also paired up with Foreigner and Blue Oyster Cult...

But we have to be fair....the general public just didn?t get punk....when The Sex pistols appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in the fall of 1977, it was one of their poorest-selling issues, ever....mind you, the headline read ?rock is sick and living in London?...the story began with a quote from Isaiah 3:24: ?instead of perfume, there will be rottenness?....

After that, most Rolling Stone writers were instructed to stop writing about this music...it was bad for business...really bad...

But there were people who got it....and frankly, fans of non-mainstream music were quite happy to be left alone...they were into this new music precisely because they hated the mainstream...and over the next dozen years, the musical underground was allowed left to gestate undisturbed......it slowly mutated and evolved into something very unique---very powerful...this is the complete history of alt-rock, chapter 8...

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2022-07-24
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10 Unusual Things About Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam is one of the most-documented bands of the last 30 years?even before the internet came along, fans were obsessive about cataloguing everything the band did?tour schedules, setlists, bootleg recordings, news stories?

Pearl Jam encouraged this, too?a big part of their long-lasting appeal has been this relationship?this covenant?they?ve had with their fans about collecting and archiving stuff?

The band understands this because they?re collectors, too?all you have to do is look at the 20th anniversary box set for the ?Ten? album that came out in 2009?it came with things like a replica of Eddie?s notebook at a cassette designed to be just like the one Eddie used to audition for the band back in 1990?

The band?s stories have been told many times, but you get the sense that the history of Pearl Jam is so deep that there still must be more to learn about theme?imagine what it might be like for a fan to dig through all kinds of Pearl Jam emphera to see what unusual things can be found there?

That?s been done?and i?m here to report back?

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2022-07-20
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The History of Alt-Rock: Chapter 7

Before we go any further with our history of alt-rock, a lesson in cosmology is in order...sometime around 16 billion years ago, there was this infinitely dense and infinitely tiny thing called a ?singularity?...don?t ask where it came from or who made it...that?s just asking for trouble...

The best anyone can tell is that one day?well, there weren?t ?days? back then because time didn?t exist (again, let?s not go there)?this thing just exploded...astronomers call this ?the big bang?...

This explosion moved outward in all directions, stretching space (well, creating space?but that makes the brain hurt)....then started to cool, got lumpy and clumpy and eventually coalesced into stars, planets, people and goats...

Everything we see and perceive is the result of that big bang...sorry, creationists...the world isn?t flat, either...and don?t send me emails...

Now it?s time for a wild but very apt analogy...if we look at the punk rock of the middle 1970s, we can think of it as a musical big bang...the ideas and attitudes it generated spread out in all directions and eventually began to coalesce into new ideas and attitudes...they were all made up of the same basic elements, but they combined to form totally new life forms...and there were probably goats involved somewhere, too...

This is the story of some of those new life forms...it?s chapter seven of the complete history of alt-rock...

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2022-07-18
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10 Unusual Things About Nirvana

Nirvana is one of those bands where it seems we know everything?when they broke through with the ?Nevermind? album in 1991 and 1992, there was a rush to learn everything we could about them?and then we Kurt died?which happened roughly at the same time the internet began to be a thing with the general public?that interest exploded?

Now, in the decades since nirvana ceased to exist, study of the band, its history, its individual members and its influence can best be described as scholarship?that?s how deep we are into the band?so what?s there left to learn, really?

While, you might be surprised?here are ten unusual and little known things about one of the best documented bands in the history of rock?

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2022-07-13
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The History of Alt-Rock: Chapter 6

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a group of young French film makers decided to mess things up...they insisted on more artistic control and less meddling by the studios......this free-form attitude, they said, was necessary to advance the art of film.....                          

It worked...lots of praise and success.....and in the process, their movement acquired a name: ?nouvelle vague?.....film historians now say that this style and attitude was one of the most important developments in the history of motion pictures.....

Punk rock was dying...it had burned itself out after just a couple of years...but its legacy was still valid: that a free-form attitude towards music was the only way to advance the art of rock?n?roll..... It was  ?nouvelle vague? all over again.....only this time, they used the English translation....they called it ?new wave?...This is chapter six of the complete history of alt-rock...

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2022-07-11
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Driven By Her: History of Female Drummers

In this episode of "Driven By Her," presented by our friends at Porsche Canada, Alan Cross and Ongoing History of New Music explore a subject that has fascinated Alan since he saw Karen Carpenter play a drum solo in the band's first television special in 1976. Turns out Karen considered herself a drummer who could sing and she had to fight to prove her legitimacy and talent to the rest of the world, especially in the male-dominated music industry. But if there was one woman who could play this well, there had to be others? were there more?

During the mid-70s the answer was "not really" but there were a few and in the decades that followed, more and more appeared, and today, female drummers are everywhere comprising a worldwide sisterhood some have called "chicks with sticks".

They were drummers, driven by that one thing that they needed more than anything else in the world. The one thing they were truly passionate about... in all cases it was the one thing that made them feel truly free. It's what drove them to singularly focus on crafting their unique talent and chase their dreams down whatever road it led them. 

But the road wasn't easy... there were a lot of roadblocks, plenty of skepticism, and loads and loads of sexism... Barriers that needed to be broken, attitudes that needed to change abilities that needed to be proven time and time again... This is the story of women with rhythm who changed the way we look at music. 

In partnership with Porsche Canada.

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2022-07-07
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The Ongoing History Book of Firsts

I started thinking about ?firsts? the other day, so I started looking things up?the first McDonald?s was in san Bernardino, California?the first guy to literally walk around the world on foot was Dave Kunist?it took him four years to walk 14,452 miles ?the first person to be killed in an automobile accident was Bridget Driscoll of Surrey, England?in 1896, she was hit by a car traveling at 4 miles per hour?the first porn film?...?Bedtime For The Bride,? 1895?

We can get weirder?the first thing ever sold on ebay was a broken laser pointer for $14?the first video on YouTube is still up there?it?s called ?Me At The Zoo??the first person with a Facebook account outside the company who wasn?t a friend of Mark Zuckerberg was a guy from India named Sachine Kumar?

The more I looked at famous firsts, the more I started wondering about firsts in music?.

Who was the first person to perform on a guitar run through an amplifier?...the first song downloaded from iTunes?...who was the first to drop an intentional f-bomb on record?...what was the first song to fade out instead of having a definite ending?...

You see where I?m going with this, right?...I started compiling a list of ?firsts? in music?and then I set out to find some answers?which I did?prepare yourself?this could be the first time you hear about this stuff?

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2022-07-07
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The History of Alt-Rock: Chapter 5

Every once in a while, humankind has one of those pivotal years where everything changes...

325 AD and the council of Nicea...1215 and the signing of the Magna Carta...the discoveries of 1492..The revolutions of 1789...1919 and the Treaty of Versailles...the great stock market crash of 1929...the dark days of World War II in 1942...the unrest of 1968...the fall of the iron curtain in 1989...

In there somewhere is 1977...okay, so to say it was as important to world history as some of these other years might be stretching it...but still, a lot happened...

On January 3, a new company called ?Apple Computer? was incorporated and the Apple ii went on sale that June...in October, Atari released the ground-breaking 2600 video game console...and in November, boffins running a computer network called Arpanet successfully test something called ?tcp/ip? which lay the foundation for the internet...

As for music, most of the planet took notice when Elvis Presley died that summer...a big story, yes?but it?s not the music story that I?m thinking of...for that, we have to go to England where a perfectly good royal celebration was sullied by four clots called The Sex Pistols...and for that, we should be very grateful...

This is the complete history of alt-rock, chapter 5...

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2022-07-03
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The History of Nerd Rock

Nerd?noun?a foolish or contemptible person who lacks social skills or is boringly studious?definition 2: a single-minded expert in a particular technical field...example: a computer nerd?

It?s an old word, too?the, er, nerds at google have a thing called ?the ngram viewer? which scans the text of books going back to 1500?in other words, pretty much right back to the inventing of the printing press?

According to these nerds, ?nerd? (the word) shows up for the first time in an book called ?a true discourse of the assault committed upon the most noble Prince, Prince William of Orange, County of Nassau, Marquesse De La Ver & C,? by John Jarequi Spaniarde: with the true copies of the writings, examinations, and letters for sundry offenders in that vile and diuelifh (i have no idea what that word is) attempt??

I can?t tell you what ?nerd? referred to in that book because it?s written in old Spanish and i couldn?t be bothered to find a translation?I?d need a real etymological nerd for that?

The word fell into disuse after about 1725 returning into the popular lexicon thanks to Dr. Suess in 1950?to him, a ?nerd? was some kind of creature found in a zoo?

But the following year, Newsweek magazine reported that ?nerd? was being used in Detroit to describe an awkward sort of dude who wasn?t very cool?it kind of lingered in the slang world for the rest of the 50s and into the 60s before it really took off in 1974 with the TV series ?Happy Days??Fonzie was always calling Richie and Potsie ?nerds? for being uncool dorks?so props to Henry Winkler?

By the end of the 70s?and coinciding with the rise of the culture around the personal computer, consumer technology and ?Star Wars? and other science fiction pursuits?the use of ?nerd? became even more widespread?remember the ?Revenge of the Nerds? movies in the 80s?...

But now in our technological society, being called a nerd is a compliment?people aspire to be like Bill Gates and Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg?look at shows like ?The Big Bang Theory? and ?Silicon Valley??we?re actually celebrating nerddom?people want to be nerds ?cause?well, it?s kinda cool?the geeks have truly inherited the earth?

This brings me to music?nerdishness is now so widespread that nerds even have their own genre of music?and as you might guess, it falls squarely in the world of alternative music?

This, then, is a short history of what we unreservedly, unashamedly and unironically call ?nerd rock??

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2022-06-29
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The History of Alt-Rock: Chapter 4

In the middle 1970s, Britain was a mess...like the rest of the west, the country was blindsided by the Arab oil embargo...it was a recession that just wouldn?t end...

And to make matters worse, everyone seemed to be going on strike; from coal miners to gravediggers...unemployment was high, especially amongst young people...

The once mighty British Empire was in big trouble...there was a sense that it was all over...done...there was no future...

Complicating this was the class system...those at the top (including the Monarchy) kept on doing whatever they wanted to do while everyone else?well, let them eat cake, essentially...(I know I?m getting my countries and monarchies mixed up, but you get the point)...

Something had to blow, especially with the young...and when it did, it blew up real good...

This is the complete history of alt-rock, chapter 4...

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2022-06-26
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Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before

A few years back, the Ongoing History took a "break".

It's a long and somewhat complicated story, but we eventually picked up where we left off. 

This episode is the start of OGH v2.0 and a catch up from Alan's "Walk about" in the 3 years between the original radio episodes 691 and 692 of which this Podcast is based on. 

So please don't be confused if the radio episodes and podcast episode numbers don't add up. We're just digging into our vault to see what we can find and share. 

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2022-06-22
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The History of Alt-Rock: Chapter 3

The early 70s were like a bad hangover from the 60s...the hippie generation had its victories–civil rights, women’s rights, the pill, the end of the draft and the Vietnam war–but it there was also a sense that the whole “peace and love” approach to social change had played itself out...

Meanwhile, the 60s generation had grown up, graduated, moved on, settled down and basically got on with the business of being adults and dealing with the first oil crisis, inflation, recession, the cold war, unemployment, the shootings at Kent state and a corrupt American president who was forced to resign...

Rock music–which had been a big part of these sweeping social changes–was tired...the good vibes of Woodstock were destroyed by the violence of Altamont...the Beatles had broken up...Jim, Jimi and Janis were dead...and the last thing that people seemed to want was music with any kind of message...

But underneath this sombre, conservative mood, something radical was happening...sometimes things have to get really, really bad before someone says “right!  That’s enough!  I’m going to do something about it!”....and that’s exactly what happened....

This is the complete history of alt-rock, chapter 3...

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2022-06-19
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The Last Hours Of...

At some point, all of us will shuffle off this mortal choir and join the choir invisible…doesn’t matter who you are, how much money you may have or how famous you might be…in the end, we’re all mortal…

This really hits home when musicians we love disappear forever…it’s not like we personally know these people, but because their music helps us know ourselves, a little piece of us dies with them…

The circumstances of their passing’s vary…misadventure, accidents, overdoses, suicide…some can be explained away while other deaths will forever remain a mystery…

With that in mind, let’s take a look back on the last hours of some of those musician’s who have left us…

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2022-06-15
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The History of Alt-Rock: Chapter 2

As rock’n’roll approached its sweet 16 birthday in the early 1970s, it was obvious that it had grown up quite a bit...with each passing year, rock was becoming more sophisticated in both sound and execution...the first wave of rockers from the 50s and 60s had grown up.....they were now better musicians and could do more than play simple three-chord songs....

Rock was also becoming more complicated because it had the tools...by the early 70s, a four-track recording studio was hideously antiquated...people wanted to use studios with 16- and 24-track consoles and big tape recorders and racks of machines that could add cool effects to music...

Guitar amplifiers were bigger and more powerful, allowing for fatter chords and longer sustains and cooler feedback...and guitarists now had a huge array of foot pedals and other gear to help them create individual signature sounds...

And let’s not forget about everyone at home...home stereo systems began to improve... “hi-fi” wasn’t just for electronics geeks anymore...everyone was looking to get big amps with huge speakers...

You could even listen in the car...yeah, 8-tracks were clunky, but for the first time, you didn’t have to depend on the radio for music when you were on the road...

But then again, your city might have been lucky enough to have a progressive FM rock station.....imagine: music on the radio that was in stereo...

But for some, things were getting a little too sophisticated, the musicianship a little too accomplished, the recording a little too slick......there were those who felt that the road to technical perfection was not a good one.... something had been lost...it was time to get primal again...this is the complete history of alt-rock, chapter 2...

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2022-06-12
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Gorillaz - A History

Everything is virtual these days…outside of the stuff you’ve got in your pocket, money is nothing but a bunch of zeroes and ones…we shop online at virtual stores…we read virtual books on our tablets…

Even our relationships have gone that way because of Facebook and twitter and Instagram…

A lot of our music is virtual, too…it’s been that way since we started ripping our cds and trading mp3s online...then came stores like iTunes with its digital tracks and albums and metadata…

So it stands to reason, that we should have virtual artists, performers that don’t exist in real life…sure, there’s some human component, but the stay in the background where we rarely (if ever) see them…

Back in the 60s, we had the Archie’s, who were followed by Josie and the Pussycats…then Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem on “The Muppets” …

Dethklok, The Chipmunks, Prozzak, Crazy Frog, The Banana Splits….Mistula is from the Philippines and represented by a bunch of female dools…the bots are all cg creations…Hatsune Miku is a Japanese hologram…then there’s Jen and the Holograms…

They all have their appeal, but there is one virtual group that eclipses them all…not only have they had hit singles and multi-platinum albums, but they also tour…they’re even listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most-successful virtual band of all time…

This is the story of The Gorillaz…

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2022-06-08
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The History of Alt-Rock: Chapter 1

Today, we can choose from an infinite array of music...there are so many songs and so many artists from so many genres over so many years that none of us will ever come close to experiencing it all...

But that’s okay because most of us have a favourite style of music...we tend to find a sound we like and stick with it over all others...for all kinds of very personal reasons, it becomes our favourite brand of music...

For example, if you’re listening to me right now, you’re probably a big fan of rock music...more specifically, you’re listening to this show on this station because at least some of your preferences lie in the realm of new rock, modern rock, alt-rock, indie music, alternative music–whatever you want to call it...there is a specific aesthetic and sensibility when it comes to rock music that seems to, well, move you...

But what, exactly, is that aesthetic?...how did these sensibilities and styles develop?...where did they come from?...why do we consider one band “alternative” and another one to be something else entirely?...and why are we so tribal when it comes to our choices in music?...

These are complex questions...and the answers can only be found by examining 60 years of rock history....this is the complete history of all-rock, chapter 1...

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2022-06-05
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I Did Not Know That

It's another trip back into the Ongoing History vault to find this episode all about things you many not have known about some of your favourite Alt-Rock musicians. 

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2022-06-01
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Deep Dark Secrets of Nine Inch Nails

This time, we take a trip way back into the Ongoing History vault and dig out a show from April of 2000.
What follows is the story of the trials and tribulations of the early days of Nine Inch Nails, and up to the release of the Broken/Fixed EP's. And a lot of this story is told by Trent himself. 
These are the deep, dark secrets of the early days of Nine Inch Nails.

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2022-05-25
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The Trews: In Their Own Words

When a band forms, there’s little expectation that this could be a long-term endeavour...I mean, being a professional musician is hardly a sure thing...so many things could go wrong...

But sometimes, a group will gain a little bit of traction...suddenly, a year passes and things are still happening...then two...then five...then ten...and if things are just right when it comes to the music and the audience and the industry and technology and plain stupid luck, the band might wake up one day to find that they’ve been professional musicians for 25 years...

This is exactly what happened with The Trews...

A band’s silver anniversary is cause for celebration...that’s a long time to be in business...so it’s a good time to get everyone together to tell some stories...this is The Trews in their own words...

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2022-05-18
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Using Music as a Weapon

Music is one of the greatest gifts the universe has bestowed on humanity...it provides so much joy and comfort and inspiration and enjoyment and motivation... It’s used in ritual and worship...and it allows us to communicate when words fail us...

Every culture we’ve ever known has had music...an existence without music?...inconceivable...

But like everything in this life, even the best things can be perverted and corrupted for malevolent purposes...and that includes music...

It can be something as simple as your brother or sister annoying you by playing their awful music at high volume...or music can be employed as a weapon, a tool of war, an instrument of torture, a form of intimidation, and a way of inflicting pain and distress...

And to be fair, it can also be used as gentle non-lethal retaliation against some kind of incursion or attack...no bullets may be fired, but a point will be made...

This use of music in these ways is almost as old as music itself...and this history isn’t pretty...welcome to the story of using music as a weapon...warning: this could get loud...

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2022-05-11
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The History of Hardcore

One of the things that makes rock great is the energy and the power that comes with the music..and depending where you go, that energy and power varies from place to place...

If you’re looking to exorcise a little aggression and anger and frustration, you have several choices...there are various flavours of metal that can serve your purpose, ranging from the melodic (Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” for example) along with Sabbath and Ozzy to the straight-from-hell insanity of black and death metal...

Industrial music is another option...guitars, synthesizers, and driving beats from acts like Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, and Ministry...

A third option is punk rock...it comes in many flavours, so there’s almost something for everyone...

But if you really want pure adrenalin, something aggressive, something super-physical, something primal, and something that can be dangerous and violent, there’s one particular part of the punk world that you’ll find very attractive...

It’s a space where things can’t be too hard, too fast, or too angry... And for many people, it’s become a lifestyle and even a lifesaver...it isn’t for everyone, but as we’ll see, its influence has extended far, far beyond just a bunch of guys yelling over loud guitars...misunderstood?...maybe...important?...definitely...this is the history of hardcore...

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2022-05-04
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Late Bloomers

It’s never too late to follow your dreams…here are a few inspiration examples…

Anna Mary Robertson was born in New York in 1860…for years, she worked as a housekeeper before moving to farm work with her husband, Thomas Moses…they had ten children…

When Thomas died, Anna needed something to occupy her time, so she took up painting…she was 78 years old…Anna became known as “Grandma Moses” and is one of the most celebrated American painters of the 20th century…she’s also held up as an example of never being too old to follow your dreams…

Then, early in 2022, I ran across the story of Ruth Slenczynska…she was the last surviving pupil of classical legend Sergei Rachmaninov…Ruth first met him when she was declared a child prodigy many, many, many decades ago, back in the 1920s…

She recorded some classical records for Decca in the 50s and very early 60s, but that was it…the contract lapsed and wasn’t renewed—that is until early 2022 when she signed a brand new record deal with Decca for a solo album entitled “my life in music”…Ruth Slenczynska got this record deal at the age of 97…

This got me thinking…rock is supposed to be for the young…new artists are almost always in their teens or early 20s…but not always…sometimes it takes a little longer and a lot more work before certain artists were able to get their big break…some had to wait until their 30s—ancient by any measure when it comes to the contemporary music business…

And given the ageism that persists throughout contemporary music, these accomplishments are all that more impressive…

Let’s take a look at the late bloomers of rock’n’roll…

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2022-04-27
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18 Bands Who Changed Lead Singers

When someone in your band decides to leave, gets fired, or heaven forbid, dies, you have a problem…this is an issue if any member leaves, but if we’re talking about your singer, that’s a hurt on an entirely different level…

Your front person is an integral part of your sound…it’s the voice of your music…and there is nothing important to your music than its voice…

It gets worse, too…your front person often provides the central image of your band…that person is the one out front…that person takes centre stage live…that person is the one the camera follows in a video…that person is the one photographers focus on…and chances are, it’s that person’s name that comes to mind first with fans…

So what do you do when that person bails?...you have two choices…fold your tent and go home and maybe come back in a different form with a different name…or you suck it up and risk replacing that singer with someone else…

That is hard on so many levels…again, I go back to the notion of “voice”…you could find a sound-alike like we’ve seen with journey, a period of time with Judas Priest, and perhaps Queen…but the fans know you’ve just plugged that whole with a reasonable facsimile at best or a out-and-out fake at worst…

Instead, it’s probably best to focus on skills and chemistry…so maybe the new person does sound like the old one…but maybe they bring something new to the table, some intangible talent that not only dressed the wound but makes the body as a whole stronger?...

That’s really, really, hard…but it can be done…and here are 18 examples of bands who have done just that…

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2022-04-20
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Imagine Dragons

I get a lot of email from young musicians looking for advice…they all ask pretty much the same questions: how to do I get more people to know about my music?...how do I get them to listen to my music?...how do I get my songs on the radio?...how do I get a record deal?...listen, if I had the definitive “silver bullet” answers to any of these questions, I’d not only be rich, I’d be worshipped as a God—which, come to think of it, would be kinda cool…

It has always been hard to make it in the music business…you need to not just be good but great…and—never discount this—you have to be lucky, to be in the right place in the right time with the right sound and image and attitude…

And since the internet disrupted everything, it’s become even harder…at the moment, there’s a split when it comes to artists…the majority of them made their bones and established their reputations before the internet hit the music industry around 2000—and everyone else…

The internet—free-flowing digital files, streaming, social media, YouTube, and all that ilk—has not only made music more accessible to everyone, but it’s also increased competition amongst musicians exponentially…it has never been harder for a new act to be heard about the noise of everyone else…

Here’s an exercise: name all the rock bands who have emerged since 2000 who are capable of filling an area as a headliner today…Arcade Fire, for sure…Muse, is another…Linkin Park, although they’re no longer with us…White Stripes and Jack White…and after that, you start to run out of names…

Here’s one more: Imagine Dragons…they were formed in 2008 and have since become a major alt-rock band…and yes, they can fill an arena…how did they do that?...let’s investigate….

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2022-04-13
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Remembering Taylor Hawkins

Back in 2014, I was invited to the foo fighters headquarters...this is 606 studios, the band’s hangout and nerve centre in Van Nuys, California...I was there to talk about the new album and TV series, “Sonic Highways”...

I got there before anyone from the band arrived...first to roll up was Taylor Hawkins...he was driving the same beat-up 1986 Toyota 4 x 4 pick-up truck that he bought for $400 when he was in high school...he could have taken his other truck, which was a 2005 Subaru Baja...

“not a very rock star ride,” I said when he got out...Taylor smiled—of course, he smiled—and said “it gets the job done”...Taylor was never much for the trappings of rock stardom... Here’s a quote: if you want to play music, play because you want to play music, not because you want to be rich and famous”....

We went inside where I noticed a poster on the wall for an obscure solo album by Queen drummer, Roger Taylor...it was a 1981 release called “Fun in Space”...what was that doing here?...

Taylor came alive... “Roger Taylor, man!...my favourite drummer ever!...Queen was my first concert and I’ve always been a fan of the guy...I mean, just the way he plays”...

And that’s how the conversation went until everyone else arrived and we had to start the interview...but during those 15 or 20 minutes, Taylor made me feel at home, a welcome guest in this sacred and very private Foo Fighters space...

I forgot that was talking to the drummer of one of the biggest bands on the planet...he was just this goofy, fun surfer dude who wanted to talk about music...I think he even made me an espresso...

That’s what I thought of when I heard that Taylor had died...he wasn’t just the Foos’ drummer and a beloved member of the band, he was a nice, normal guy, who wanted to do nothing more than be a dad and play rock’n’roll...

Let’s spend some time remembering Taylor Hawkins...

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2022-04-06
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From Broken Record: The Red Hot Chili Peppers Reunite

We’re thrilled to share a special preview of the Broken Record podcast from Pushkin Industries. In honor of the Red Hot Chili Peppers new album, Unlimited Love, the band members sit with their legendary producer Rick Rubin to share exclusive insights about the band’s dynamic. In this preview,  Rick, John, and Anthony discuss John rejoining the band after a 10 year hiatus and how right it felt to be playing together again. You can hear the full episode, and more from Broken Record at https://podcasts.pushkin.fm/brokenrecordrhcp?sid=ongoinghistory.

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2022-04-05
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The Rock Explainer

I’m going to explain why you might get frustrated at spellcheck on your phone or computer…and the answer has to do with a guy named Noah… no, not that Noah from the bible with the ark…another one…

Noah was annoyed…as a proud new American, he believed that his new country needed to set itself apart from its former colonial masters in every way possible so they new nation could truly be different and independent and separate…

By 1828, there was no need to take up arms anymore, so Noah picked up his pen…as an author of schoolbooks, his annoyance had to do with the way the British spelled some of their words…why could “colour” have that extra “u?”…the proper way to spell “centre” was “c-e-n-t-e-r,” not “r-e”…everywhere he looked, he saw what he believed to be nonsensical spellings…

He made a list of such annoyances…and in 1828, at the age of 70, Noah Webster published his “American dictionary of the English language”…and it was a hit—largely because Noah was already that guy with all the spelling books being used in school…

And so came to pass that Noah’s preferred spellings—again, modifications to the original British versions of these words—became adopted by America…and these spellings are what’s accepted today as correct in the U.S…

That means if you have a computer or a phone or whatever and you have your default language set to “English,” it’s most often means “American English” by default…and that means if you try to spell certain words the British or the Canadian or Australian way, you get a squiggly line underneath…

That really annoys me (and maybe you, too)—almost as much as when my iPhone insists that I mean to spell “ducking”…but that’s another story…but this story does explain why your device seems to hate your spelling skills…it goes back to grumpy Noah Webster and his nationalistic demands on language…

Rock music has been with us since the early 1950s…that’s long enough for many things to become entrenched, familiar, and basically just part of the scenery…there are so many things about rock that we just accept and don’t really question or wonder about…

But just like the spellcheck on your phone, if you start thinking about some of these things, you might wonder where they came from, why we do it, or who came up with the idea in the first place…let’s see if I can help…I call this episode “the rock explainer”…

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2022-03-30
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Billy Talent In Their Own Words: Part 3

It’s hard being in a band…all that time close together, day and night, in cramped vans and crappy dressing rooms…record company issues, personal issues, personnel problems and the general fragile state of the human condition…it’s no wonder so many groups break up...after a while, it’s just too much trouble. But there are exceptions, bands that somehow manage to stay together in the same form forever, no matter what happens… the Radiohead that we know today is really the only Radiohead there’s ever been…U2 hasn’t had a lineup change since 1978… ZZ Top has been the same three guys since 1969…

And here’s another one to add to the list: Billy Talent…same four guys since 1993…how have they managed that?...well, if you want the truth, go to the source…

This is Billy Talent: in their own words, part 3

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2022-03-27
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The Concept of Selling Out: Part 2

Artists make art because they have it…there’s something in their hearts that forces them to turn what they feel inside into something the rest of us can see and hear and feel ourselves…

It supposed to be this pure thing…the pursuit of beauty for beauty’s sake…undistilled human emotion designed to create a reaction, to spread a profound messages, to make the universe a better and wiser and more joyful place…

Yeah…those are nice thoughts…but the universe being what it is, things don’t work that way…

Artists need to eat…they need to pay the rent…they need tools and supplies…they may need to travel from place to place…and they may need help from others—people that demand payment…

In other words, artists need money to survive…they may find that money from donations…maybe they have a patron…but in the modern world, what they really need is a regular income…

It used to be that musicians would play gigs and sell their music to the public…if they got it on the radio, then that was revenue stream…then came selling t-shirts and other merchandise…

But around the turn of the 21st century, things began to change…economic realities surrounding the evolution of the music business forced musicians to look at different ways of bringing in income…

What was once considered compromising artistic principles and destruction of your integrity of music by prostituting yourself to soulless multi-national corporations (and the like) started to look like not just like a pretty good idea but a very necessary one…

Oh, sure, you can reject the evil lure of money to maintain the purity of your music, but that’s not going to take you far if you’re homeless and hungry…and after a while, you realize that the shame levied upon you for finding new ways of making a living is actually the result of the audience’s idea of artistic purity…the audience expects you to do what they believe is the pure thing for their entertainment…

Whoa…these are complicated concepts…let’s proceed with part two of “the concept of selling out”…

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2022-03-23
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Billy Talent In Their Own Words: Part 2

I’ve done hundreds of interviews with individual artists over the year…it’s relatively easy...all you have to do is get one person in a room, turn on the recording devices and you’re set…

When it comes to interviewing a band, you’re lucky to get two members in the same place and the same time… 

But getting every member of a band in the same place at the same time for an interview is next to impossible…I’ve only managed to be so lucky a couple of times… U2, Kings of Leon, Foo Fighters, Green Day, Blink-182—and that’s about it…

And lemme tell you something: each of these interviews required extraordinary efforts under extraordinary circumstances…

Such circumstances miraculously presented themselves with Billy Talent…all four guys around the same table in the same studio…the purpose?...to get them to tell the story of the band in their own words…this is part two of our conversation…

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2022-03-20
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The Concept of Selling Out: Part 1

One of the worst insults you can throw at an artist is to accuse them of “selling out”…the most basic definition is when the pursuit of money compromises, corrupts or otherwise interrupts the pursuit truth and beauty and all the purity and goodness that is supposed to flow from art…

But that’s an awfully broad definition which can be applied in a billion different highly subjective ways…at one extreme, some people believe that taking money for any kind of art is perverse…at the other, anything and everything has its price, high or low, depending on the circumstances…

And the world has changed…making any kind of art costs money…competition for attention among artists have never been greater…and we’d like to thing that great art inevitably and naturally rises to the top, but it just doesn’t…in a true meritocracy, it would…but we all know that’s not true…

And ever since the internet started shaping the way we find and consume music, the value ascribed to it—that is, how much we’re willing to pay for it—has dropped to near zero…thanks to streaming and YouTube, almost all the music ever created in the history of humankind is available for free…

But there are costs to making music…musicians (and those associated with its creation) have a right to make a living…where does the money come from?...

From a lot of different places, as it turns out…the sources of this working capital may be distasteful to some, but if you want to be a working musician these days, some creative and philosophical compromises need to be made…

What I’m trying to say is that “selling out” ain’t what it used to be….here…let me show you

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2022-03-16
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Billy Talent In Their Own Words: Part 1

The best way to construct a profile on an artist is to round up everyone together, put them in a studio and get them to tell their story themselves…

But that can be difficult, especially with a band…beyond touring and recording schedules, everyone has their own lives and may even live in different cities…putting everyone in the same place could be impossible…

It took a while, but we did it…i have all four members of Billy Talent in one place…and they’re here for one purpose: to tell their story in their own words…

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2022-03-13
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Infamous Hotels and Hotel Rooms

In the days before Covid, I was always on the road…if it wasn’t a music conference in Singapore, it was an interview in London, the Juno’s in—wherever, or a concert in Los Angeles…this means I have seen more than my share of hotel rooms—everything from five-star luxury spots to sub-one-star establishments that come with a complimentary dead hooker under the bed…

This means I’ve developed a certain attitude toward hotels…

First thing you do when you get into the room is ditch the bedspread…they are never, ever cleaned…just tear it off, pile it in the corner, and then wash your hands…then try not to imagine what’s happened on that couch…

At night, there’s the sound of the air conditioning, the noises coming from the hallway…and what are they doing in the room next door?...

Then in the restaurant and the bar and the fitness room, you run into fellow guests…who are they?...what are they doing here?...what’s their story?...occasionally, I’d find out—like the time I ran across a Nobel prize winner who was living in this Asian hotel because he was too ill to fly back home…

Hotels are fascinating places where things happen that don’t happen anywhere else…strangers come together from everywhere to do things that they might not do anywhere else…no wonder so many books and TV shows and movies are set in hotels…I am fascinated with these places…

Here’s the segue: rock stars spend a lot of time on the road, meaning that they spend a lot of nights in hotels…and some of the rooms they stay in end up become part of rock’n’roll history…let’s take a look at some of them, shall we?...

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2022-03-09
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Modern Rock Feuds

There are some people who just can’t get along…it could be the result of politics, religion, philophies, property, honour, a personal slight, a perceived insult, or—well, a million things, really…

The most famous feud in history might be the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s who fought each other along the border between Kentucky and West Virginia in the late 1800s…it started over a hog…did it belong to Floyd Hatfield or Randolph McCoy?...in the end more than a dozen people were killed on both sides of the feud, largely over a pig…

Here’s something a little more relatable…German brothers Adolf and Rudolf Dassler co-founded a shoe company in their mother’s basement…when U.S. sprinter Jesse Ownes used their shoes for the 1936 Berlin Olympics, sales blew up…

But the brothers couldn’t deal with the success and kept fighting and fighting and fighting…finally, in 1948, they couldn’t take it anymore and the company split in two…Adolf called his company “Adidas”…Rudolf named his “Puma”…

 

And this is a good one…R2D2 and C3PO never liked each other…Anthony Daniels (C3PO) was a classical trained actor and never really like the fact that he had to play this robot…meanwhile, Kenny Baker, the little guy inside R2D2 was a circus performer…Daniels never, ever let Baker forget that he’d never been in the same league as him…

And that’s just one of many different feuds to be found in the performer arts…when artistic types have a beef, it can get very, very weird…

The Beatles vs. The Stones (although that was a manufactured fight…they were actually very good friends…but after the Beatles broke up, Paul and John scrapped a lot in the media…Ray and Dave Davies in The Kinks…no love lost there…David Gilmour vs. Roger Waters in Pink Floyd…Brian Love and Mike Wilson in The Beach Boys…

And think of all the rap beefs…Biggie vs. Tupac, Kanye vs. Drake, Nas vs. Jay-Z…that list is endless…

But what about more contemporary rock feuds, fights that have happened over the last couple of decades?...thanks for asking because here they come.

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2022-03-02
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History Concert Sound

Ever been to a concert and wondered "How do they make all of this work?". "How have I not gone deaf?" or "Why does the dude on stage wearing what looks like a pair of ear-buds?"

Well we're here to answer those questions and more as we delve deep into the history of concert sound...

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2022-02-23
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The Story of the Electric Guitar - Part 3

In assessing popular music in the last half of the 20th century, rock music was a massive cultural phenomenon…initially driven by young baby boomers, rock grew bigger and stronger, starting in the middle 60s, eclipsing all other genres…and central to this conquest was the electric guitar…

That sound, with all its power and distortion and infinitely diverse tonalities, can still drive music fans into ecstasy,

For many, the electric guitar is a symbol of rebellion and liberation…it was a new vehicle for freedom of expression…and it opened the doors to new types of creativity…and it was because of the electric guitar that rock went global…

Its history is a complicated one involving musicians, inventors, tinkerers, happy accidents, big multinational companies and lone wolves…some names are well known while others, despite their contributions to the decades-long evolution of instrument, languish in obscurity, known only to guitar geeks and obsessives…

And while there have been many occasions where pundits have declared that rock (and by extension, the tools to make this music) is dead, the electric guitar has proven to be extremely adaptable and has (so far) been able to take on all comers, especially when placed in the hands of radicals and rule-breakers…

If a power chord played through a Marshall stack has ever given you chills, then you’re in the right place…this is the history of the electric guitar, part 3…

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2022-02-16
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The Story of the Electric Guitar - Part 2

For centuries, music was nice and clean…while different instruments gave notes different timbres, the frequencies of those notes was expected to be clear and pure…yes, you could add a little umph by playing fortissimo, but the dogma was “let’s not overdo it”…

But sometimes the situation called for overdoing things…banging a piano turns a melody and a beat into some stompin’ boogie-woogie…a raspy, hard-blown saxophone brings energy to a performance…

But creating pleasant distortion with either of these  instruments—and we can name a few others—is limited to the abilities of the human body…volume and distortion and all the energy that comes with playing this way is restricted by how hard you can hit or blow into something…

The electric guitar has no such limitations…it can be played so that the notes are pristine…or you can summon all demons of hell with volume, distortion, power, and glory and that is cool…

The electric guitar is one of humankind’s greatest musical inventions…starting in the 1950s, it revolutionized many types of popular music: country, the blues, jazz, and most of all, rock…after it appeared, nothing was ever the same—and the sound of music changed forever…it’s impossible to imagine what today’s music would sound like had the electric guitar not been invented…

But how did we get here?...let’s pick up the story….this is the story of electric guitar, part 2…

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2022-02-09
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The Story of the Electric Guitar - Part 1

There are few instruments more powerful than the electric guitar…when the first primitive models appeared in the 1920s, no one gave them much thought…the electric guitar was brand new, unproven, and completely lacking in any of the kinds of traditions and gravitas enjoyed by the piano, the violin, or any number of brass instruments…

Besides, unlike all the other musical instruments in use, these required electricity, a concept that was still quite new…electric household appliances were just starting to catch on…and having a radio was still a novel thing…

But over the next 30 years, the electric guitar found its place in music, helped along by technology, the need for volume, changing social conditions, and the ever-evolving musical tastes of the public…

By the 1960s, the electric guitar was regarded as one of the most powerful musical inventions of all time…it was the sound behind rock’n’roll and all the social and cultural changes it created…it was the sound of freedom, power, rebellion, joy. heartache, aggression, and more…

In short, the electric guitar defined music for the latter half of the 20th century…it’s still an essential part of popular culture…and despite several challenges to its supremacy over the decades, it’s not going away anytime soon…

But how did a semi-obscure acoustic instrument get electrified in the first place? Who were the inventors and promoters? What technological innovations were needed? And of all the noisemakers you could choose, how did it become the foundation of rock’n’roll?...

This is the story of the electric guitar, part 1…

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2022-02-02
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Rock'n'Roll Tattoos

The human body is a remarkably good piece of construction…it has its quirks and shortcomings, but for the most part is a pretty cool thing: functional, durable, and to other humans, attractive…

But there’s always room for improvements and modifications and decorations…archeologists have found mummified remains that are thousands and thousands of years old that’s sport tattoos…

There’s a guy named Otzl that was found in the Swiss Alps when a glacier melted…he’d been there for over 5,000 years—and the dude had 61 tattoos…

Egyptian mummies plus pacific islanders, members of ancient African communities, bodies dating to iron age Britain, early Japanese societies, and the Indigenous people of North and South America have all engaged in this kind of body art…

Tattoos have also been used to identify prisoners and slaves, to display religious connections, and associations with armies, navies, bikers, and criminal gangs…and for many people tattoos still carry some kind of stigma…only deviants and weirdos got tattoos…

But that’s changed a lot in the last 60 years—especially since the beginning of the 21st century…tattoos have long gone mainstream…in fact, in some circles, if you don’t have any ink, you’re the outsider and the weirdo…

This brings me to the world of rock’n’roll…tattoos are everywhere…and almost no one stops with one or two…the last time anyone counted, Travis Barker of Blink-182 has 117 different and distinct tattoos from the top of his head right down to his toes…

We’ll get to Travis in a bit…but let’s begin with a look at the history—the whole phenomenon—of rock’n’roll tattoos…

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2022-01-26
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14 Important Canadian Punk Bands

We’ve all heard the stories about where punk came from…the New York Dolls and a few other bands start playing in a crappy area of New York that attracted musicians, artists, and degenerates with low rent…

This leads to the opening of CBGB, a club that becomes the centre of a music scene that gave a home to bands like television, Blondie, The Talking Heads, The Heartbreakers, and, most importantly, The Ramones…

In July 1976, The Ramones fly to London and play a show attended by curious kids who then either continue on with their punk plans—that would be The Sex Pistols, The Clash, and a few others—or inspire others to form their own groups…and from there, punk spreads across the world…

That’s a nice succinct look at punk’s origin story…what’s missing is Canada’s involvement—and believe me, the great white north had a lot to say about punk in those early days…and I mean, a lot…

Toronto was like the third leg of a punk triangle that extended to New York and London…ideas and trends and music was constantly exchanged…meanwhile, out on the west coast, there was a fierce Vancouver scene that worked mostly along north-south routes into the U.S.

And then across the country, there were pockets of punk that had their own influence…

This history needs to be told…and we’re going to do it by looking at the stories of 14 incredibly important Canadian punk bands from back in the day…

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2022-01-19
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More Musical Offspring

Whether we want to admit it or not, each of us is product of our parents…we are like mom and/or dad…and that may manifest itself in different ways…

Maybe one of them was a great cook and that’s led to a life-long love of food…maybe they introduced to travel and now you spend all your extra money on airfare…or maybe one of them had some kind of craft that you gravitated towards…carpenter, knitting, gardening…

And chances are if you have musical parents, you’re going to end up musical, too—at least to some extent…it’s again that combination of nature and nurture…

Now imagine that your mom or dad is a famous musician…cool people are always dropping in…there are tours and time spent in the studio and parties and industry events…for anyone else, that would be mind-blowing…but for you, it’s just how life is…

And because that’s how your life is, you just fall into the lifestyle…you learn to play and write and perform…and because the parents have some connections and relationships, you might have the inside line on establishing a career…

Others without famous parents will cry foul, but that’s just the way it is…you’re a member of the lucky sperm club…

Some of these sons and daughters have actually done very well for themselves…Sean and Julian Lennon, son of John…four of five of Frank Zappa’s kids have had musical careers…R&B singer Stella Santana, daughter of Carlos…Norah jones is the daughter of Ravi Shankar, the Beatles’ favourite sitar player… and more recently, we have Wolfgang Van Halen, son of Eddie…

Here’s one that you may have missed…Redfoo of lmfao (he’s the one with the afro and the big glasses) is the son of Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown…think he was able to parlay dad’s contacts into something?...and here’s one I missed for years…Gary Lewis and the playboys was a big 60s pop group…Gary is the son of Jerry Lewis, the comedian…

What other parent-children connections are out there?...let’s have a look…this is another edition of musical offspring…

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2022-01-12
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What's The Big Deal About Elvis Costello

With the way the music industry operates, this guys career should have been dead and buried long ago. I mean no offense…but look at this dude.

Even when he was young, he looked dorky. Bad glasses and poor posture. This was a guy who was a computer programmer for a cosmetics company. And in the age of Punk when everyone had safety pins stuck to their clothes, and leather jackets….this guy insisted on wearing a sport coat.

Yet he’s still here…still making music…and not only does he have the respect and admiration of many generations of fans, he’s collaborated with everyone from Paul McCartney to Burt Baccarat.

He’s delved into punk, sting quartets, jazz ensembles, and more…so how does he do it. And what’s the big deal about Elvis Costello?

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2022-01-05
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What's The Big Deal About The Smiths

Although they were around really for just 4 years, The Smiths succeeded in becoming the most influential British indie band of the 1980's. They hastened the deal of tech-pop, and laid the foundation of what was to become Britpop. 

But how exactly did that happen and really, what is the big deal about The Smiths?

 

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2021-12-29
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Joe Strummer: A Remembrance

Back in the day, they called The Clash "the only band that mattered" and few voices are more important or influential in the history of rock than that of Joe Strummer. Without Joe and The Clash, we wouldn't have a fraction of the bands and musicians that we do today. Put simply;  Joe Strummer is one of the most significant musicians in the history of rock. Full stop.

December 22nd, 2021 marks the 19th anniversary of Joe's sudden passing at just 50 years old. To mark the occasion, and honour Joe, we go back into the Ongoing History achieves and present our profile of Joe that first aired in the spring of 2003. 

This is our tribute to the legend of Joe Strummer...

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2021-12-22
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60 Mind-Blowing Things About Music: 2021 Edition

Is it really almost the end of 2021?...if I’m honest, it’s all been a blur, almost like 2020, with covid on my mind 24/7…it’s just reality…

You know how I’ve been spending my time?...I’ve spent almost two years in my office, throwing myself into work…I think i’ve read a record number of books…my iPad tells me that my screen time is up 23%...and I’ve posted somewhere around 2500 stories on my website…

Now that the end of the year is approaching and we’ll soon be into the holidays, it’s time for the annual office clean-up…

There are post-it notes everywhere with little tidbits of information I’ve found…i’ve bookmarked a ton of sites…there’s a little journal filled with scribblings…books with pages turned down and e-books with passages highlighted…

Much of this has already been turned into (or will be turned into) “ongoing history” programs and posts…but there’s also all kinds of fascinating stuff that I couldn’t use…they just didn’t fit in with anything that I’ve done in 2021…it’s orphaned material…

But I can’t throw out any of stuff…it’s too interesting, too important, to ignore…this information needs to be disseminated to the public at large…knowledge is power, right?...this material needs to be set free…

So once again it’s time for the annual data dump known as “60 mind-blowing things about music in 60 minutes”…

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2021-12-15
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Alt-Rock's Most Mysterious Musicians

Once upon a time, before social media and the internet, all musicians were mysterious…outside of seeing them live, our only connections with them were through their music, the liner notes and album artwork, and stories in music magazines…

Yes, there were the occasional tv appearances, but those were quite rare…in fact, it wasn’t really until music videos started to be a thing in early 80s that fans began to grasp what their idols looked like in a major way…

And consider this: it wasn’t until MTV and MuchMusic started interviewing musicians that we began to discover what their speaking voices sounded like…

Today, though, there are no more secrets…artists are in constant touch with their fanbase through social media…fans are constantly trading news online…camera phones are everywhere…we live in a world of oversharing and tmi…

Hell, even kiss—a band that spent its first decade hiding behind makeup as a way of creating myth and legend and essentially invented the concept of the mysterious, unknowable rock star—gave up on that idea in the 80s…

However, I’m happy to report that there are still some mysteries, artists who have managed to main a degree of anonymity…some have successfully obfuscated their identifies through disguise and subterfuge…others have disappeared into a hermit-like existence where they remain beyond the reach of the general public while still releasing material and maintaining a fanbase…

Who are these artists?...and how did they managed to stay out of the limelight?...these are alt-rock’s most mysterious musicians…

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2021-12-08
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The Strokes

I remember being in London in the summer of 2001…I made my usual pilgrimage up to the original Rough Trade records store on Talbot Street, off Portobello Road in Notting Hill…

I was a little bummed out with music at the time, so I was hoping for some inspiration…the mainstream was awash in pop music…spice girls, backstreet boys, Britney Spears…

And alt-rock had kinda lost its way after grunge burned out…the big acts were searching for direction…there were far too many one-hit wonders…and nu-metal, the biggest thing at the time, was very, very polarizing…you either were really into it or you hated it…

It also seemed that this new genre dubbed “electronica” was siphoning off a lot of rock fans…music made the old-school way with guitars, bass, drums, and vocals seemed old-fashioned, out of date, and played out…

But that couldn’t be true, could it?...in the past, every time rock was declared dead, someone or something came along and breathed new life into everything…

I told this story to Nigel, the guy at the desk of the tiny shop… “Give me something that is exciting, new, and fresh,” I said… “Give me hope”…

Nigel reached under the counter and pulled out a cd single… “Here, mate,” he said, “This should cure all your ills”…it was a song from The Strokes.

Turns out he was right…The Strokes were one of the very, very first new bands behind the indie-rock revival that began at the tail end of the 90s and blew up over the next couple of years…nice one, Nigel…

But why The Strokes?...where did they come from?...and why was this guy in London telling me about a band from New York?...this requires some explanation…

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2021-12-01
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Album Artwork

This time we go deep into the vaults for an episode about the now seemingly long lost concept of "Album Artwork".

We'll look at some of the most famous of all time, and look into why this concept has all but faded away.

 

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2021-11-24
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