On "keeping it real" and the end of an era

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On "keeping it real" and the end of an era

Postby Piggly Wiggly » 19 Jan 2005, 10:04

"We do not use any original material - after all, can you imagine a British composed R&B number - it just wouldn't make it."
- Mick Jagger, Jazz News


For a music lover of my disposition and vintage (I was born in 1969), the mid sixties seems like an almost impossibly adventurous, optimistic, forward thinking and accelerated era in popular music. By today's glacial standards, such progress and ambition seems almost too good to have actually happened within such a brief time span. Yet, if I am to believe history (and my record collection), it most certainly did.

Did the journey from "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" to "I Am The Walrus" really only occur within less than three years? And did it also encompass "See My Friends", "Norwegian Wood", "Eight Miles High", "Friday On My Mind", "Wouldn't It Be Nice", "Ballad Of A Thin Man", "Seven And Seven Is", "Pictures Of Lily", "Summer In The City", "I'm Only Sleeping", "Reach Out (I'll Be There)", "Good Vibrations", "Visions Of Johanna", "Third Stone From The Sun", "I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night", "Penny Lane", "Light My Fire", "See Emily Play", "White Rabbit", "A Day In The Life", "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago", "Itchycoo Park", "Expecting To Fly", "A Whiter Shade Of Pale", Forever Changes, Odessey And Oracle, "Paper Sun", "I Can See For Miles", Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, "2000 Light Years From Home", and many more too numerous to mention?

(One need only consult the seemingly endless number of LPs in the Nuggets, Pebbles, and Rubble series for a seemingly bottomless well of diamonds in the rough. In the CD age, many of these highlights are collected in handy boxed sets. And, for fans of the era, there are countless new gems to discover. I myself only heard Timebox's stunning "Gone Is The Sad Man" less than two years ago.)

Seen with hindsight from an era when You Are The Quarry follows on 6 or 7 years after Maladjusted (is Morrissey mope rock's own Axl Rose?), and even the comparatively brisk pace of the Strokes, White Stripes, or Flaming Lips (a mere 2 or 3 years between LPs) reveals no great progress or seeming connection with any forward moving collective gestalt, the "psychedelic era" seems downright incredible. And more than a little inspiring/inspired.

There is no debating that the delusional hubris of psychedelic drugs played some part in the rapidly changing landscape of pop (circa 66-67), and even an enthusiast like myself is happy to concede that trendiness and cynicism infected some portion of this snowballing evolution - yet, I don't consider "Pictures Of Matchstick Men" (Quo), "She's My Girl" (The Turtles), "Incense And Peppermints" (Strawberry Alarm Clock), "Good Thing" (Paul Revere And The Raiders), "Journey To The Center Of The Mind" (Amboy Dukes), "It's Wonderful" (Rascals), "I Saw Her Again" (The Mamas and Papas), "Reflections" (Diana Ross and The Supremes), "Green Tambourine" (The Lemon Pipers), "Fakin It" (Simon And Garfunkel), "Colour My World" (Petula Clark), or "Porpoise Song" (The Monkees) anything less than glorious relics of a time when seemingly everyone (bar Dave Clark, perhaps) was carrying the torch for a colourful naive ambition which seemingly knew no bounds. Yes, even the squares were looking for new sounds.

Does much of it sound quaint now? Well yes...and no. There is an element of "Listen To The Flower People" or "Cups And Cakes" in much of Donovan's work, and I can chuckle snidely in my own knowing way at "My Friend Jack" (The Smoke) with its thinly veiled and clumsy drug shorthand. Yet - and let there be no mistake about it - "My Friend Jack" absolutely fucking rocks! Was it naive? No more so than any other optimistic movement in popular music. XTC's Dukes Of Stratosphere LPs may be a good laugh, and may conceal some knowing snideness within ticklish and playful lyrics like "2033/ Cannabis in tea/What in the world/Acid is free" - but considering that it was this very exercise which eradicated the very dreary dead-end of The Big Express, I'd like to think that the Swindon mob were looking back somewhat fondly and wistfully at such a hopeful and experimental age.

Based on the evidence above, one could accurately state that pop musicians (certainly the likes of the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Hendrix, and Dylan - and in their own way, even the likes of the Bee Gees and Jimmy Webb) were on a rapidly expanding course of boundless optimism, experimentation, and forward momentum.

So, what went wrong?

If I'm being realistic, any number of factors could be seen to have contributed to the hasty retreat of the experimental brigade.

Yet, what received wisdom (certainly that of the music press) now tells me is that (and I'm being horribly over simplistic and broad about this) seemingly every one of these musicians heard the Band's Music From Big Pink and immediately felt outdated and insincere.

Suddenly, it was time to discover/return to one's roots (which I mostly consider a crock of shit. If one truly has roots, they'll flourish and inform one's work without being deliberately emphasised). With great haste.

Psychedelia and ambition were out. Traditional and decidedly non-baroque plaintive stylings were in. Mellotrons were out. The blues and country were in. Sitars were out. Beards were in. Unusual melodies, chord changes and harmonies were out. Acoustic guitars and hillbilly song structures were in. Studio experimentation was out. Affected rural/regional accents were in.

(I quote the following excerpts from John Harris' masterful and highly recommended article on the effects of Big Pink/Basement Tapes in MOJO 121: "....(this) music played the key role in wrenching London's musical aristocracy out of the glassy-eyed reverie of psychedelia, and pointing the way back to an altogether more timeless approach." "Suddenly the quest for endless novelty, lysergic visions, and ever-more strange sounds seemed strangely behind-the-times." "Cellophane flowers, mice called Gerald, and people who could hear the grass grow now seemed like totems of an altogether different age.")

Indeed, there was a new trend - and it seems that all but a few of pop's princes were racing each other to get there first.

Witness the shift between The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society (see "Phenomenal Cat") and Arthur (see "Brainwashed"). Davies' newfound mushmouth vocal technique underlined this transistion quite nicely.

The Bee Gees (once dark lords of mid sixties experimentation - "Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You", "New York Mining Disaster") even turned in their own cack-handed hillbilly/Band readymade ("Marley Purt Drive") on the shell shocked Odessa.

Eric Clapton, of course, seems the most vocal and prominent turncoat of them all. He immediately disbanded Cream, and time and time again he has credited the Band with forcing his hand (I'm sure it has nothing to do with Cream's inherent naffness, right?). A friend of mine who has no love for Big Pink claims that intial exposure left him proclaiming "That sounds like Clapton. I hate it!"

What do we think happened here? Was Clapton merely following his muse? Or is/was he (as I've always suspected) one of those musicians whose insatiable quest for "authenticity" prevents them from making any worthwhile contributions to the forward momentum of popular music (not to be churlish, but - absent a Keith Relf, Jack Bruce or Duane Allman - Clapton was generally a sideman in frontman's clothing)? Or was he merely hiding from the far more advanced, singular, and gifted Jimi Hendrix - who almost cruelly appeared on the London scene within months of the "GOD" graffiti? This last question is not entirely without merit - to this very day, Clapton bitterly (and somewhat inaccurately) whinges in interviews about how Cream could scarcely get arrested in the US because fans and the press were so besotted with Are You Experienced? Did Clapton have to change his game plan and fast?

Luckily, the Rolling Stones were just hitting their stride - and (despite great efforts to pander to the new rootsy approach) couldn't help but produce one lyrical, singular, and forward looking masterpiece after another ("Sympathy For the Devil", "Gimme Shelter", "Jumping Jack Flash", "Midnight Rambler", "Honky Tonk Women", "You Can't Always Get What You Want"). As far as I'm concerned, they got lucky. They were just too good to fuck up at this point. Left to their own worst magpie tendencies, they'd have plunged head first into this new rootsy abyss faster than you can say "Sing This All Together".

As for the fabs - well, they held out briefly. The Beatles was no less accomplished than what had preceeded it (to my ears, "Happiness Is A Warm Gun", "Hey Jude", "I'm So Tired", "Revolution 9", "Julia", "Martha My Dear", et. al. demonstrate an older/wiser continuation of their tireless progress). Get Back/Let It Be, however, was an ill conceived rootsy dead end for which they paid dearly.

(I can leave Brian Wilson out of this, as he seemingly abandoned the race for newer things well in advance of Basement Tapes/Big Pink/John Wesley Harding.)

Ah, yes. Bob Dylan - to what degree is he culpable? I think the fact that he sat out 1967 is significant. The mystique built up around him must have been incredible. Whereas the average pop fan might not have been looking to Dylan for "the next big thing", you know Jagger, Lennon, Harrison, Hendrix, and Clapton did. Were my heroes more in thrall to him than I would like to admit (seeing as Bowie ruins a perfectly good album with the imaginitively titled "Song for Bob Dylan", I think this question is largely hypothetical)? Was he the uber "followed leader"? Would pop's vanguard all have gone prog if Dylan had surfaced with In The Court Of The Crimson King instead of Basement Tapes/John Wesley Harding?

And what of the british beat enthusiasts who refused to back down? Tommy was, presumably, well under way when the likes of Clapton and the Stones were licking their wounds, and Townshend had a long, long way to go (Who's Next, Quadrophenia) before his own quest for the new was tempered by mid 70's rock bloat and a gargantuan identity crisis. Townshend may have paid lip service to the idea of "good old rock and roll" during this changing of the guard, but the records don't lie - he was on a mighty quest, and stood his experimental and futuristic ground.

It seems worth noting that black popular music - at least in America - kept right on progressing*. Motown - slightly timewarped, perhaps - grew ever more baroque and experimental (neither Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gaye seemed too fussed about something as spurious as "roots" or "authenticity" - their evolution into a more genuine place seemed nothing short of highly ambitious and forward thinking). The likes of the Chi Lites, Delfonics, Stylistics, and Dramatics seemed to be hitting a glorious post-psychedelic peak in the early 70's. Ditto Isaac Hayes, Sly Stone, George Clinton, Curtis Mayfield, and Barry White. Perhaps Clapton, et. al. were following the wrong leaders and watching the wrong parking meters.

Was this a good thing? Does the fact that an "I Am The Walrus" would have been out of step just a few months after release speak well or ill of a fickle and seemingly very trendy pop music scene? Does the rapturous response granted to the likes of Soft Bulletin, OK Computer, or Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in later years indicate that people, in the main, wanted this naive momentum back and felt shortchanged by the rustic search for credibility and roots?

And where did all of this "back to the roots" business ultimately lead, anyhow? Sha Na Na? 461 Ocean Blvd.? Wolfman Jack? Jonathan Edwards? Rock 'N' Roll? Singer/songwriters? The Eagles? Urban Cowboy? UNCUT's Americana CDs? The dreadful "Unplugged" craze? Sheryl Crow? Riding With the King?

Is it possible that - had things taken a more linear course - the likes of today's electronic music would have surfaced at an earlier point in pop's evolution? Would post-punk have been pre-punk? Did all of this "keeping it real" serve only to derail and backtrack the front guard of modern music, postponing healthy inevitable developments for many years?

Had the drug culture become more ugly, and therefore begun to taint the music with unpleasant associations? Was the link between psych and prog (specifically virtuosity) frightening to mere mortal musicians (eg. Clapton vs. Hendrix)? Was the very notion of authenticity so romantic and irresistable to the likes of Clapton and the Stones (see Jagger's quote at the top of this post for salient evidence of their desire to be more "real" and "worthy" than they ultimately perceived themselves to be), that "modest" and "reverent" became the new "ambitious" and "modern"? Was this new gambit every bit as facile, trendy, and cynical as the most garish excesses of psychedelic music had been a few months earlier? Was the modernism/futurism of 65-67 as boundless as it appears to me, or as finite as this changing of the guard suggests? And, lastly, are constructs like "authenticity" immaterial in the face of genuine inspiration?

As you might imagine - my own view is that a most exciting and provocative era of music was abandoned almost TOO hastily and traded for a new set of clothes that I find considerably less attractive and compelling. My post on this subject is composed mostly of questions - and a great number of gaping holes. I have no great theory to share, merely one query after another, posed to a group of people who often write quite informatively and insightfully about music.

I look forward to reading this thread.

*Also, due credit to the Brazilians and Germans (among many others I'm sure). Groups like Can and Os Mutantes were seemingly comfortable enough in their own aims to resist the farmboy makeover that had halted their (largely) English and American peers.

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Postby Deebank » 19 Jan 2005, 10:28

Fantastic post, lots of questions indeed. Couple of things to add...

The Stones never really got the hang of psycadelia did they, so maybe that helped them come out the other side.

And just to add another bunch of questions, how much did Altamont and Manson do to kill off the optimism of 67? After Manson every hippy guru was a potential murderous mind bending cult leader and ever hippy his mindless murdering slave. Just check out some of the TV of the time, Hawaii 5O was full of brain washing cults and mad eyed hipsters (if memory serves). And at ALtamont the great free festival free love we're all brothers and sisters myth died along with Meredith Hunter.

I think some did continue the experimental trajectory and (disapointingly perhaps) prog rock in all its forms is the result.

The most important thing you brought up though is how increadibly creative the period was compared to now.... and you didn't even mention the Velvet Underground.

PS - for the downside of the 60s dream check out Gary Valentine's excellent book Turn Off Your Mind... if you haven't already.
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Re: On "keeping it real" and the end of an era

Postby Brother Spoon » 19 Jan 2005, 10:45

Loveless wrote: For a music lover of my disposition and vintage (I was born in 1969), the mid sixties seems like an almost impossibly adventurous, optimistic, forward thinking and accelerated era in popular music. By today's glacial standards, such progress and ambition seems almost too good to have actually happened within such a brief time span. Yet, if I am to believe history (and my record collection), it most certainly did.



Congratulations on that post. It takes your usual excellent standards even higher.

My response will be tiny, due to time- and brainconstraints.
For a music lover like myself (born in 1979), the midsixties seem very much like you have described as well. The difference is that for me the definite change of climate is not burdened with all sorts of pejorative associations.
Yes, the midsixties seem to have been adventurous, optimistic and forward thinking. The late sixties and early seventies do not. But is good music defined by these qualities? You seem to assume they are (of course you're free to set your own esthetic criteria).

I can think of much music which is adventurous and visionary etc., but that doesn't change the fact that it is bad music. Is it so hard to assume there is also much music which isn't very visionary (in the sense you accord to it) but is still very good.
You seem to put a lot of the weight of responsibility for the shift on Bob Dylan. 'John Wesley Harding' and the 'Basement Tapes' contain some of my favorite Dylan music (as does 'Nashville Skyline' btw which is perhaps an even better example). To just brand this music as 'farmboy makeover' seems inconsiderate to me considering how good this music is.
That is my first point: even if this music isn't visionary/ completely original/... perhaps it can still be good. Perhaps it can even be just as good.

My second point: is this "farmboy makeover" really as conservative as you make it seem. Much of it undoubtably was, but much '60s psych sounds equally ridiculous now. To me those Dylan records and a lot of other records, despite being very much informed by what has come before in way of traditional musical forms, sound unlike any music made before. There are no country albums made before 'Music from Big Pink' (not my favorite Band album either btw) which sound like that album. It was something new, but built up of ancient bricks. And there are many albums like this. Does Big Star really sound that much like anything that came before? Or Neil Young's '70s albums?

Anyway, feel free to trash my arguments, but I could not let a great first post go unanswered.

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Postby Deebank » 19 Jan 2005, 10:56

Perhaps the changes you refer to were the inevitable result of the 'back to the country, let's live in a tipi' movement. :lol:
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Postby Piggly Wiggly » 19 Jan 2005, 11:02

Deebank wrote:The Stones never really got the hang of psychedelia did they, so maybe that helped them come out the other side.


I suspect they were relieved to move on.

And just to add another bunch of questions, how much did Altamont and Manson do to kill off the optimism of 67? After Manson every hippy guru was a potential murderous mind bending cult leader and ever hippy his mindless murdering slave. Just check out some of the TV of the time, Hawaii 5O was full of brain washing cults and mad eyed hipsters (if memory serves). And at ALtamont the great free festival free love we're all brothers and sisters myth died along with Meredith Hunter.


Sure - just as the Kennedy/MLK/Chicago democratic convention/continuing Vietnam carnage probably dispelled a bit of the fairy dust.

and you didn't even mention the Velvet Underground.


Yes - an unfortunate omission. Those first two VU records are as striking and modern as ANYTHING pre-68.

PS - for the downside of the 60s dream check out Gary Valentine's excellent book Turn Off Your Mind... if you haven't already.


Thanks for that. I will.

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Postby Earthling » 19 Jan 2005, 11:37

Loveless is right on one point.
There is a difference between say the Stones getting back to their roots from 'Beggars Banquet' thru to 'Exile', and the Byrds going country, in the wake of Dylan and the Band and goaded by Gram.
Soon we had America, Bread, the Doobies and Eagles, who got a lot of mileage from 'no fuss, take it easy/nice and breezy', all very commercial and clean but hardly progress. Their music never really 'said' anything to me.
With the Stones and others who flirted with psyche before tossing it aside, their music still meant something. It retained its authenticity.
Family, Jethro Tull, King Crimson and the Floyd continued to develop and mature beyond pysche/prog fantasy, mining new musical lodes.
As for the other point in your argument Loveless; "was the desire to experiment and be bold and provocative abandoned too quickly" ?
I'm not sure it was in any complete way. What happened is that country/folk and other traditional forms, started challenging the established order more prominently and stole some market share.
Drugs may/may not have been an issue. Certainly the casualty rate started kicking in: Al Wilson. Janis, Jimi, Morrison, but this on its own shouldn't have necessarily stalled momentum.
I think the late '60's/early '70's was just another part of the whole music cycle. Remember too, we had the rise of heavy metal, and glam in this period, so it wasn't totally marking time. For every Eric C and Glenn Frey you had a Bowie,Bolan ,Chilton or Ferry.

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Postby Phenomenal Cat » 19 Jan 2005, 15:32

I'll answer more completely after I get off work, but first off, fine work Loveless.

I think one main point that is being overlooked by those who have responded is that events like the Tate murders and Altamont occurred near the end of this cycle. Why the major transition between 1967 and 1968? Really, that's what I grapple with when I think of the advent of Band-stylings. For most of the bands we claim as the classics, this radical shift dropped like a giant hay bale on a bowl of sugar cubes. What the Hell? Outside of Syd, how many people really burnt out on the lysergic enough to acquire a mandolin?

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Postby The Black Shadow » 19 Jan 2005, 15:55

I'm too intimidated to read all of your post, let alone reply.
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Postby Charlie O. » 19 Jan 2005, 16:11

The Black Shadow wrote:I'm too intimidated to read all of your post, let alone reply.


I promise to do both later, when I'm not running late for a lunch date (yes, I have some definite opinions on this topic)...

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Postby Guest » 19 Jan 2005, 16:44

I always wondered how Woodstock fit in to all of this. And surely a lot of them saw the film when it was released in 1970. Did they not notice how dreadful everyone was? How incredibly naive they all were? And how fucking awful the music was? I thought that it would have been a wake up call for how far the music was taking a step back. It was all about drugs and sex. But maybe in the end that is all they ever wanted, hence the excess of the 1970's. I dunno.

Would I rather experiment in the studio or would I rather screw my brains out (or do that lovely and sweet heroin)?

Me, I chalk it up to laziness and excess even though they say they were going back to their roots. Thank god for Lou Reed and his disdain for the whole movement. He kept the seed growing. Experimentation took a backseat but it seems to rear it's head every 10 years or so with another changing of the guard. Granted, it will never be as prolific as the mid-60's because it was just all so new.

And surely the enormous success of Led Zeppelin in the US fucked us over forever. As good as their records were, experimental they were not. After them everyone just wanted to play loud and hard and make sure that their penis was presented in an obtuse manner. Yes, I blame Led Zeppelin for the US scene in the 1970's. An utter cock wasteland of filth and bullshit.

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Postby Matt Wilson » 19 Jan 2005, 17:00

Great post, John. All good questions. Some thoughts:

Music From Big Pink was, as you say, incredibly influential but Dylan had already started the back to the roots movement with John Wesley Harding. Plus, they both had done the Basement Tapes while the rest of the world was psyching out so neither Dylan nor the Band can ever be said to have entered the psych movement at all. I realize this doesn't negate what you said, still, I thought I'd mention it.

I don't think the Stones were as revolutionary as you imply. Beggar's Banquet is another reactionary back to the roots album (in their case, blues) just like everybody else was starting to make at the time. I'm sure they were influenced by the Band like their contemporaries. The Stones always seemed to be followers and not leaders when I think of it. This isn't to say their music was anything less than great but original? Not in my book. After all, when psych was fashionable in '67 they made a psych album. When acoustic leanings were the thing in '68 they came up with Beggar's.

Also, things tend to have a yin yang effect in pop culture. As soon as everyone starts to do something then it's no longer cool. When everybody and their grandmother went psych then others decided a roots approach would be the way to go, etc. After that most of the acid-fried dropped what they were doing and they went back to basics. I know this sounds cynical but there you have it.

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Postby Quaco » 19 Jan 2005, 18:49

I've just got two words for you -- The fuckin change happened at fuckin Rishikesh when a) there was no acid, and b) when London was revealed not to be the center of the world after all! If the Beatles hadn't approved the shift from experimentation to the back-to-Dylan approach*, it wouldn't have been so complete.

More later. Really good writing, John. A fine intro to a book on "Revolution 9"....




* And really, besides psychedelic wordplay (which gets old quickly), what else could Dylan have done in the experimental vein? He was a folk singer at heart. John Wesley Harding, strange as it may have seemed at the time, was merely Dylan being himself. Of course it's different from psychedelia; it's a folk record. It was just a weird situation, where a folk artist was so influential. It would never happen today.
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Postby Charlie O. » 19 Jan 2005, 20:44

Consider that until 1967 (at least), the pop scene was much more competitive, and that's largely down to singles (rather than albums) being the primary medium. If you were a pop artist, you had to have a hit - a big one (god help you if your new record only gets to #4 when your last one made it to #2) - every three months or so, or you were considered history (especially in England). It didn't matter if you were The feckin' Beatles - any band could come out of nowhere with a great record and score a #1, and they might be just a one-shot, or they might be the new kings. Who knew?

So everybody worked their balls off, trying to at least keep up with and hopefully to best their competitors (not to mention their own previous work). If they weren't recording, they were touring, or they were doing TV, or they were doing interviews, or they were writing, or they were doing all of the above, all the time - like, every waking moment, practically. And because The Beatles and a few others happened to be especially forward-looking (you didn't take it back far enough, Loveless - consider how short a time it was between "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "I Feel Fine"!), that meant everybody had to be.

So my theory is that by 1967 or so, virtually everyone who had been a part of this Great Race was simply too exhausted to continue with it. (And the acid may have accellerated the burn-out.)

The Beatles were the first (unless you want to make a case for Brian Wilson, which you sorta could) to poop out - they quit touring, and while their musical standard remained almost untouchable, their schedule of releases slowed to a trickle (relatively speaking). They started fragmenting as a band (though hardly anyone consciously knew that at the time). And since they were the leaders (and given that The Kinks stopped having hits, and the Stones were having their own myriad crises), the whole pop scene lost some competitive momentum.

Factor in the shift (in popular perception) to LPs as the Important medium. You couldn't be expected to have a hit LP every three months, even if you weren't exhausted. (Well, Creedence more or less managed that in 1969, but look how quickly they burned out!)

Now factor in John Wesley Harding and Music From Big Pink.*

And now, factor in the gradual shift of drugs-du-jour, among pop-no-Rock musicians, from LSD to cocaine and heroin.

I don't wanna get all soapboxy, but coke and smack are anti-creative drugs - they kill the creative spirit (whatever that is). I cannot prove this - I have only mountains of circumstantial evidence to back it up. Go ahead, tell me I'm fullashit, but you can do it yourself: name any musician that was ever worth a damn, figure out when their dalliance with coke started, then consider the Before and After. The change isn't always an immediate one... but it often is. And it's usually, seemingly, irreversible. (The only exception to the rule I can think of is Neil Young, but he probably never let himself get too hung up on it anyway.)


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*By the way - I may be alone in this, but I think Music From Big Pink is quite psychedelic, in its own unique way. It may not have a lot of phasing and backwards guitar solos and whatnot, but it is very inventive, very mysterious (disorienting, even), and unlike their second album does not sound like a buncha farmboys jamming in the basement...
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Postby The Modernist » 19 Jan 2005, 20:59

I can't believe I've read such a long post and agreed with every single word. You've nailed it Loveless. Can you do The Meaning of Life next?

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Postby The Modernist » 19 Jan 2005, 21:14

Matt Wilson wrote:
I don't think the Stones were as revolutionary as you imply. Beggar's Banquet is another reactionary back to the roots album (in their case, blues) just like everybody else was starting to make at the time. I'm sure they were influenced by the Band like their contemporaries. The Stones always seemed to be followers and not leaders when I think of it. This isn't to say their music was anything less than great but original?


Well I'll pick you up on this Matt. For all the rootsiness of something like Salt Of The Earth, there was also risk taking and originality. For me one of the best things about The Stones in 68-69 was that they combined this rawness and rootsiness with their earlier experimentation (think the droning siitar on JJF for example). This is why I prefer this period to Exile because by then they'd ditched the experimentalism and taken a more pragmatic, conservative approach to their music.
If they were followers rather than leaders, why didn't anything else sound like Jumping Jack Flash or Sympathy For The Devil in pop music then? I think for a short time they were arguably the most innovative band on the planet.

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Postby Quaco » 19 Jan 2005, 21:23

Charlie O. wrote:I don't wanna get all soapboxy, but coke and smack are anti-creative drugs - they kill the creative spirit (whatever that is). I cannot prove this - I have only mountains of circumstantial evidence to back it up. Go ahead, tell me I'm fullashit, but you can do it yourself: name any musician that was ever worth a damn, figure out when their dalliance with coke started, then consider the Before and After. The change isn't always an immediate one... but it often is. And it's usually, seemingly, irreversible. (The only exception to the rule I can think of is Neil Young, but he probably never let himself get too hung up on it anyway.)

I think of Bowie as another exception. When he got into coke (around Diamond Dogs?), he still produced good work -- and for a long time afterwards as well. In fact, though I can't prove it, coke seemed more suited to his temperament than hash (The Man Who Sold the World). Something about it being perceived as more extreme (Bowie likes the dark side, cf. the sexy sliminess of "Sweet Thing/Candidate") and, of course, the wired alienation in can produce.

But now we're getting into the '70s, which was (it seems) a decade of alienation, so coke fit in better.

Was there ever any footage shot in 1960s clubs like the Ad Lib, the Scene, etc. of what it actually looiked like to see The Beatles, et al. partying (other than the 24-Hour Technicolor Dream stuff)?
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Matt Wilson
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Postby Matt Wilson » 19 Jan 2005, 21:27

The Holy Goof wrote:
Matt Wilson wrote:
I don't think the Stones were as revolutionary as you imply. Beggar's Banquet is another reactionary back to the roots album (in their case, blues) just like everybody else was starting to make at the time. I'm sure they were influenced by the Band like their contemporaries. The Stones always seemed to be followers and not leaders when I think of it. This isn't to say their music was anything less than great but original?


Well I'll pick you up on this Matt. For all the rootsiness of something like Salt Of The Earth, there was also risk taking and originality. For me one of the best things about The Stones in 68-69 was that they combined this rawness and rootsiness with their earlier experimentation (think the droning siitar on JJF for example). This is why I prefer this period to Exile because by then they'd ditched the experimentalism and taken a more pragmatic, conservative approach to their music.
If they were followers rather than leaders, why didn't anything else sound like Jumping Jack Flash or Sympathy For The Devil in pop music then? I think for a short time they were arguably the most innovative band on the planet.


I love the album too. But I'm not talking about the era so much as that album--and "Jumping Jack Flash" isn't on that particular record. No, they always were doing pretty much what other UK acts did. When it was fashionable to cover US R&B or blues tunes then the Stones did that, when psych came in the Stones gave it a try, when that was no longer acceptable then the roots music came to the fore and the Stones made Beggar's. Imagine Beggar's Banquet in 1967--now that would have been ahead of it's time, but 1968? Nah. When reggae became something that white bands would attempt, so did the Stones, etc. Disco, too...

I will say "Sympathy for the Devil" was original though. But the rest of the LP doesn't sound like that. As great as they were they just don't seem like trendsetters to me. Now you and Loveless may like the album more than Music from Big Pink or whatever but it doesn't mean they were breaking any new ground.

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natch
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Postby natch » 19 Jan 2005, 21:32

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Last edited by natch on 12 Jun 2014, 05:43, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Earthling » 19 Jan 2005, 21:41

Can somebody explain what 'perceived lack of progression' has to do with 'laziness'?
The Stones were great imitators, sure, but they did it with a panache and style that was totally their own. Where is that being lazy?
While berating the Stones 'for going back to their roots' no-one has given a clue as to WHAT should have been the next Great Leap Forward?

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Postby The Modernist » 19 Jan 2005, 22:10

Herr Moyno wrote:Can somebody explain what 'perceived lack of progression' has to do with 'laziness'?
The Stones were great imitators, sure, but they did it with a panache and style that was totally their own. Where is that being lazy?
While berating the Stones 'for going back to their roots' no-one has given a clue as to WHAT should have been the next Great Leap Forward?


Well my point was that they combined this with an experimentalism/innovation. Most of their great songs from this period don't really sound like anything else. And I don't think they're rooted in the traditionalism of say The Band.