Friday, February 17, 2012



Bob Dylan has been a major figure in music for five decades. He pioneered several  schools of songwriting, from confessional singer/songwriter to winding, hallucinatory, stream-of-consciousness narratives. He evolved in the 60s as a chronicler and reluctant figurehead of social unrest. His songs became anthems for the US civil rights and anti-war movements. His lyrics incorporated a variety of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences. Starting out as a folk singer inspired by Woody Guthrie, his music evolved into electric rock and roll, fusing poetry and music into his own ever-changing style. His work has incorporated folk, blues, country, gospel, rock and roll, jazz, swing, and Irish folk music. In 1965, Dylan made a huge stylistic leap with Bringing It All Back Home, featuring his first recordings with electric instruments. Subterranean Homesick Blues contains free association lyrics and expressed the manic energy of Beat poetry and was a forerunner of rap and hip-hop. The B Side consisted of four long songs on which Dylan accompanied himself on acoustic guitar and harmonica. Mr. Tambourine  Man became one of Dylan's best known songs. It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) delivers stream-of-consciousness lyrics in a fast continuous flow. "He who is not busy being born is busy dying." Bob Dylan's influence is incalculable on all of the folk and rock music that has come after. 


All of The Beatles albums are excellent, but probably the most important rock album ever is Sgt. Pepper's because it opened up the door for total anything goes experimentation.
A Day In The Life is the ultimate Lennon-McCartney song collaboration. The final song on Sgt. Pepper's, it sounds as if the world is falling apart. Lennon's lyrics come from a newspaper report about a car wreck, and also alludes to things in his own life. Lennon wrote the basic song, but thought it needed something else. McCartney had a song fragment that was inserted into the middle (Woke up, got out of bed) with orchestral elements including a cacophonous interlude between their two parts that seamlessly connect, what are almost two completely different songs. The whole thing ends with another orchestral buildup and a 53 second piano crash and a weird vocal fragment. Its a strange, unique, intense, experimental song that also has a sweeping emotional impact. The first five Beatle albums were basically rock and roll love songs done extremely well. Rubber Soul and Revolver is where the song structure experiments started, coming to full expression on Sgt. Pepper's. It is a great album among many great ones by the Beatles, and they went on to make several more including The White Album, which I covered on an earlier post. Like Bob Dylan, The Beatles impact and influence is too great to measure.


After the Beatles hit America on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, the next band that made a huge impact was The Rolling Stones. They had a rawer and tougher look than the Beatles and were influenced by primitive blues typified by Chess Records' artists such as Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. They developed a sound that was gritty and hard-driving but their early work was mostly covers of songs written by their influences. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards started writing their own compositions and the song that really vaulted them into the limelight was   (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction which was recorded in May 1965. It appeared on the album Out of Our Heads which contained six songs written by Jagger and Richards including the excellent ballad Play With Fire. Satisfaction is one of the greatest rock songs ever and is known for Richard's fuzzbox guitar riff that makes it sound like a saxophone. The other members of the band included Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts, who always made interesting contributions. The Stones went on to create many excellent albums including Aftermath, Between The Buttons, Beggar's Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile On Main Street.


The Doors burst onto the scene with their first record simply entitled The Doors in 1967. The album contained many excellent songs including the breakout hit Light My Fire, Alabama Song by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, and Back Door Man by Willie Dixon and first performed by Howlin' Wolf. The album starts off with Break On Through (To The Other Side) which is appropriate as they took their name, The Doors, from the Aldous Huxley book The Doors of Perception, which itself was a reference to a William Blake quotation: " If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite." The album ends with the song The End which is a beautiful and haunting and over 11 minutes in length and contains an Oedipal spoken-word section delivered by Jim Morrison. The Doors were heavily influenced by poetry and jazz and often had extended instrumental passages in their songs by Ray Manzarek on keyboards, Robbie Krieger on guitar, and John Densmore on drums. The Doors were controversial, due mostly to Jim Morrison's wild, poetic lyrics and charismatic but unpredictable stage persona. Heavily into alcohol and drugs, Morrison died in Paris in 1971, after the band had completed 6 studio albums and 1 live album. All of the records are excellent and include Strange Days, Waiting For The Sun, The Soft Parade, Morrison Hotel, Absolutely Live, and LA Woman. The Doors produced music that was powerful, poetic, dynamic, innovative, and unique.


James Marshall Hendrix is considered the greatest electric guitarist in musical history, and one of the most influential musicians ever. The Jimi Hendrix Experience first achieved acclaim in England and Europe and then in America after their performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. Later he headlined Woodstock (1969) and The 1970 Isle of Wight Festival. Hendrix liked to use raw overdriven amplifiers with high gain and treble and developed a technique of using guitar amplifier feedback. Along with Eric Clapton, he popularized use of the wah-wah pedal which he used to deliver an exaggerated sense of pitch in his solos, particularly with high bends, complex playing, and use of legato. As a producer he broke new ground using the recording studio as an extension of his musical ideas. Hendrix was influenced by blues artists such as BB King, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Albert King, and Elmore James, R&B and soul players Curtis Mayfield and Steve Cropper, and jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery. He also once stated he wanted to do with his guitar what Little Richard did with his voice. Are You Experienced was the first record released by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, which also included the British rhythm section of Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell. The 1967 album highlighted Hendrix's R&B based, psychedelic, distortion, and feedback style of playing and launched him as a major new international star. The record contained many excellent songs including Purple Haze, Hey Joe, The Wind Cries Mary, and Fire and is considered one of the greatest rock albums of all time. Hendrix also released the records Axis: Bold As Love and Electric Ladyland which both included great songs, great playing, and an experimental use of the wah-wah pedal and studio effects. After performing at Woodstock, Hendrix created a new group which included Billy Cox and Buddy Miles. They made the monumental recording Band of Gypsys which was a live album recorded at The Fillmore East in New York on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day 1969-1970. Later in 1970, Hendrix died after passing out from drinking and ingesting pills and the world was robbed of one of its greatest musicians. Jimi Hendrix set the bar for all guitar players to come, as he investigated just about every sound the instrument could produce. His legacy continues as many posthumous albums have been released over the years. His influence on music and on playing the guitar is incalculable.


The Velvet Underground caught the attention of Andy Warhol and he gave them a spot as the house band at his studio The Factory. Lou Reed was inspired by many of the characters at the Factory and wrote about them in his songs. In 1967, The Velvet Underground and Nico was released by Verve Records and it gained notoriety for its experimental sound performances and its focus on controversial subject matter. Largely ignored upon release, the album is now seen as one of the finest and most influential rock records ever produced. It is credited with opening the door to glam rock, punk, post punk, goth rock, and shoegazing. I'm Waiting for the Man describes a man's effort to obtain heroin. Venus in Furs is inspired by the 19th century novel of the same name and deals with S&M. Heroin details an individual's use of the drug and the experience of feeling its effects. Femme Fatale, All Tomorrow's Parties, and I'll Be Your Mirror were sang by Nico and had a dark romantic quality. Reed wrote most of the lyrics and was inspired by such writers as Raymond Chandler, Nelson Algren, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Hubert Selby, Jr. and felt a literary approach could work with rock music. John Cale was responsible for much of the album's experimental sound. He was influenced by La Monte Young, John Cage and the early Fluxus movement who believed in alternative ways of producing sounds. Reed was already experimenting with alternative tunings and on Venus in Furs and All Tomorrow's Parties the guitars were tuned down a whole step, which produced a lower, fuller sound. Cale also used his viola on several songs using a drone technique where a single note is sustained over a long period of time. He would vary his attack, speed, and add other notes on top to make the sound have a different tone while maintaining the same pitch. The album cover was known for the recognizable banana print by Warhol on white. The Velvet Underground and Nico is simply an album that should be in all rock record collections. The band went through changes and conflicts, but released three other albums. White Light, White Heat came out in 1968 and mixed gentility with anti-beauty. The raw, distorted, and feed-back sound of Sister Ray was a great influence on punk and experimental rock. The Gift contains a recital of a short story against a loud rock sound. Lady Godiva's Operation is about a transsexual's botched lobotomy and the title track describes the use of amphetamines. The last two records became more of a vehicle for Reed's songwriting. The Velvet Underground came out in 1969, and Loaded came out in 1970. The latter contained two of Reed's most successful songs, Rock and Roll, and Sweet Jane.


Frank Zappa was one the most interesting musicians and composers of the 20th Century. He produced a diverse body of work that included elements of rock, jazz, classical, and electronic music. He also created experimental sound collages and was an excellent and original electric guitarist. In 1966, Zappa and The Mothers were gaining attention in the LA underground music scene. At this time The Mothers of Invention recorded the groundbreaking double album Freak Out! The album mixed R&B, doo-wop, musique concrete, and experimental sound collages that captured the freak subculture of LA at that time. Freak Out! had a raw, but sophisticated sound and established Zappa as a radical new voice in rock music. The lyrics had dada elements, praised non-conformity, and questioned authority and were influenced by the Beats like Allen Ginsberg and comedians like Lenny Bruce. In 1969, Zappa released his masterpiece jazz/rock fusion album, Hot Rats. The album fuses the compositional sophistication of jazz with rock's down-and-dirty attitude. There is a loose and gritty quality to the extended jams and a tight elegance to the shorter pieces. Besides some great guitar work by Zappa, there are also great contributions by Ian Underwood, Jean-Luc Ponty, Lowell George, and Don "Sugarcane" Harris, as well as an amazing vocal by Captain Beefheart on Willie The Pimp. The song's greasy blues riffs work perfectly with Beefheart's Howlin' Wolf theatrics. Peaches en Regalia is a beautiful instrumental of shifting instrumentation. The album peaks with The Gumbo Variations with sizzling sax work by Underwood. This is simply a great album, and Zappa would continue to make many more until his death in the early 1990s.


The Grateful Dead was one of several bands that emerged from the San Francisco counter-culture music scene of the late 1960s, that also included The Jefferson Airplane, Santana, and Janis Joplin. The Grateful Dead had a unique, eclectic style which fused elements of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country, improvisational jazz, psychedelia, and space rock. These influences were distilled into a diverse whole that made them the Godfathers of the jam band world. The original lineup included Jerry Garcia (guitar, vocals), Phil Lesh (bass, vocals), Bob Weir (guitar, vocals), Ron "Pigpen" McKernan (keyboards, harmonica, vocals), and Bill Kreutzmann (drums). A second drummer Mickey Hart was also added, a second keyboardist, Tom Constanten played with them from 1968-1970. They produced several excellent records in this period including Anthem of the Sun, Aoxomoxoa, Live Dead, Skull and Roses, and two excellent country folk influenced studio albums, Workingman's Dead and American Beauty. This period is summed up with the great live album Europe '72, which contains songs in all of the different styles the band had incorporated into their sound. There is a great jam that leads into Morning Dew and on Volume 2, there is a nearly 1 hour jam of Dark Star, Drums, and The Other One. Another excellent record is Ladies and Gentleman that was recorded in April, 1971, but not released until 2000. It contains excellent versions of many of their staple songs including a knockout Hard To Handle with Pigpen on vocals and smoking guitar solos by both Weir and Garcia. Pigpen died in 1973, and Keith and Donna Godchaux came into the group and they continued to produce good records, including Wake of The Flood, and the continued to perform long dynamic concerts. Just about anything from the 70s is good and can be found on the various live recordings that have been released over the years. Eventually, after Garcia's death in 1995, the group disbanded, but can still be seen in various configurations including The Dead, Rat Dog, and Further.


The Allman Brothers Band made two excellent studio albums, The Allman Brothers Band and Idlewild South, before their breakthrough live album At Fillmore East that came out in 1971. The album contained extended versions of their songs In Memory of Elizabeth Reed and Whipping Post as well as versions of classic blues songs. The band was originally formed by the brothers Duane Allman (slide and lead guitar) and Greg Allman (vocals, organ, songwriting), and supported by Dickey Betts (guitar, vocals, songwriting), Berry Oakley (bass guitar), Butch Trucks (drums), and Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson (drums). While they are considered the principle architects of Southern Rock, they also incorporate elements of blues, jazz, and country music into their music and perform live shows in an improvisational jam style. Eat A Peach was released in 1972, and contained both live and studio music and cemented Duane Allman as one of rock's finest guitarist along with Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. Unfortunately, Duane was killed in a motorcycle accident in late 1971, as was Berry Oakley a little over a year later. The album Brothers and Sisters came out in 1973 and was their largest commercial success. The band continued on for many years through changes and turmoil, but finally solidified again in the 2000s and still performs excellent concerts today. They added the two excellent guitarists in Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks who perform with the original three Greg Allman, Butch Trucks, and Jaimoe. Often in performance they will be joined by other great musicians including Eric Clapton, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, and Dr. John. Every year they have a 10 night run at The Beacon Theater in New York City in which the extended version of Dreams is a highlight. 


Leonard Cohen has been making music and songs for over four decades and outside of Bob Dylan is one of the most accomplished and influential singer/songwriters to emerge in the late 20th Century. He started as a writer and this literary quality informed his songwriting. His first album Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967) was an artfully constructed masterpiece of poetic beauty. The songs depict a world dominated by love and lust, rage and need, and compassion and betrayal. The relationship of men and women are often the framework of Cohen's songs, with love as the catalyst to go deeper into humanity's frequent use of mental and physical abuse, and its occasional use of kindness. Songs of Leonard Cohen creates a stark portrait of men and women trying to come to terms with these relationships. It is mostly acoustic guitar and Cohen's voice, but there are some subtle musical effects used to create dark, beautiful, and emotionally moving songs.The album includes the excellent songs Suzanne, Master Song, The Stranger Song, Sisters of Mercy, and So Long, Marianne. My favorite record by Leonard Cohen is Songs of Love and Hate (1971) which established him as the master of erotic despair. The album is made up of eight emotionally intense songs and encompassed the physical, emotional, and spiritual side of love as expressed in Last Year's man (the physical), Famous Blue Raincoat (the emotional), and Joan of Arc (the spiritual). The hate, anger, and contempt manifest themselves in Avalanche and Dress Rehearsal Rag where the despair reaches suicidal proportions. The venom that comes out in these songs can only come from someone who once cared deeply. The production on the album is also different in that Cohen's voice is deeper and closer, and the added musical elements of orchestra and a children's choir add an emotionally resonant punctuation to the songs. Still the album's framework allows Cohen's lyrics and voice to be the main focus. More than anything this album is an emotional powerhouse, one of those records that has an effect on me every time I listen to it.


Neil Young was one of the great singer-songwriters who emerged in the 60s, along with others that included Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, and of course Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. Young first achieved acclaim with Buffalo Springfield, a band he founded along with Stephen Stills. They had a monumental hit with Stills' For What Its Worth which was aided by Young's melodic harmonics played on electric guitar. Young wrote three songs with the band that set the path for his later solo work. Mr. Soul, Expecting To Fly, and Broken Arrow which all share deeply personal and idiosyncratic lyrics, and presented three different approaches to arranging a folk song. After the group disbanded, Young made his first album, simply called Neil Young. He wasn't totally happy with the production, but it does have two excellent songs on it, The Loner and The Last Trip To Tulsa. Next came Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere, in which Young brought in Crazy Horse as his band and who still play with him today. The album contained the great songs Cinnamon Girl, Cowgirl In The Sand, and Down By The River, the latter two consisting of lengthy jams with Young's unique guitar solos. Young joined Crosby, Stills, and Nash in 1969, and they played Woodstock and produced the excellent album Deja Vu and a live album called Four Way Street. At this time he wrote the classic protest song Ohio, which was written about the Kent State massacre. Young returned to his solo career, and his next two records were masterpieces. After The Goldrush came out later in 1970, and contained songs about drugs, interpersonal relationships, and environmental issues. His bitter condemnation of racism was manifested in the heavy blues song Southern Man. Other excellent songs on the album included Tell Me Why, Don't Let It Bring You Down, and the title track. After an acoustic tour where many new songs were first played, Young brought out Harvest in 1972, that contained some of his greatest songs including Heart of Gold, Old Man, A Man Needs A Maid, and the powerful song about addiction, The Needle and The Damage Done. Neil Young is incredibly prolific and made several other albums in the 70s including Tonight's The Night, Comes A Time, and Zuma that contained the haunting song Cortez The Killer. Rust Never Sleeps and LIve Rust were also quite good and featured Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black) which would become one of his signature songs. Other major albums from later parts of his career include Freedom, Ragged Glory, Sleeps With Angels, and the excellent live album Weld. Since the turn of the century Neil Young has continued to make interesting and vital music including Living With War, and Le Noise which was an electric solo album. I was lucky enough to see him perform solo in 2011 at Avery Fisher Hall, where he played a variety of songs from throughout his career. It was a powerful, emotional, and dynamic performance and a night to remember.


Along with Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton is one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time. He started off playing with The Yardbirds, but left to play with British blues artist John Mayall. They produced a few singles and one excellent album John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers Featuring Eric Clapton. Next Clapton formed the power trio Cream with Ginger Baker on drums and Jack Bruce on bass. They were groundbreaking with their hybrid sound of blues rock and hard rock, combining psychedelia-themed lyrics, Clapton's blues guitar playing, Bruce's voice and distinctive bass playing, and Baker's jazz-influence drumming. They made four albums titled Fresh Cream, Disraeli Gears, Wheels of Fire, and Goodbye. They produced many excellent songs including Im So Glad, I Feel Free, Toad, Strange Brew, Tales of Brave Ulysses, Sunshine of Your Love, White Room, and Badge. They also covered several blues classics including Sitting On Top of The World, Born Under A Bad Sign, and Crossroads. Clapton's next group was Blind Faith which formed in 1969 and also included Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood, and Rich Grech. They produced only one album but it was excellent and controversial for its cover a topless pubescent girl. Clapton toured as a sideman with Delaney and Bonnie and The Plastic Ono Band, before working on his first solo album. Simply titled Eric Clapton it had several excellent musicians on it including Delaney and Bonnie, Leon Russell, and Stephen Stills. The album produced the hit After Midnight that was written by JJ Cale. Clapton also played on George Harrison's masterpiece All Things Must Pass, and of course had earlier contributed an excellent guitar solo on Harrison's While My Guitar Gently Weeps on The Beatles' White Album. Derek and the Dominos formed in 1970 and produced the major recording Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, which was heavily blues influenced and featured the twin lead guitars of Clapton and Duane Allman, with Allman's slide guitar being a key ingredient of the sound. The album contained several excellent songs including Layla, Key To The Highway, and Little Wing. Clapton struggled with alcohol and drug addiction in the early 70s and was affected by the deaths of many friends including Jimi Hendrix and Duane Allman. In 1974, he resumed his solo career with 461 Ocean Boulevard which included more compact songs and fewer guitar solos. On the album, he covered Bob Marley's I Shot The Sheriff, which help bring reggae to a wider audience. Eric Clapton still produces fine albums and still performs concerts showcasing his great blues-influenced guitar playing.


The Who rose to fame with a series of top ten singles beginning in 1965 with I Cant' Explain. The albums My Generation (1965), A Quick One (1966), and The Who Sell Out (1967) followed with their first hits in the US being Happy Jack and I Can See For Miles. Their fame grew with energetic performances at Monterey Pop, Woodstock, and The Isle of Wight. In 1969 they produced Tommy which is considered the first rock opera, and was about a deaf, blind, and dumb boy who becomes the leader of a messianic movement. The album like most of The Who's work was composed by Pete Townsend who also played an excellent guitar. Roger Daltry was the vocalist, John Entwistle was the bassist, and Keith Moon was the drummer. There were several standout songs on the record including Pinball Wizard, I'm Free, and See Me, Feel Me. The next release by The Who was the excellent live album Live At Leeds, which came out in 1970. It contains many live versions of their early hits, plus covers of classic blues songs such as Young Man Blues, Summertime Blues, and Shakin' All Over. Who's Next came out in 1971, and became a masterpiece with several excellent tunes including Won't Get Fooled Again, Baba O'Riley, and Behind Blue Eyes. The album had a dynamic and unique sound because of Townsend's use of early synthesizers and modified keyboard sounds. They were used with a sequencing drone effect as Townsend was influenced by the minimal composer Terry Riley. There was also a use of violin and piano on certain songs as well. In 1973, The Who brought out Quadrophenia, which was another rock opera about a boy named Jimmy who tries to establish his identity against the conflict of the mods and rockers in early 60s Britain. The album incorporates sound effects into the dynamic hard rock and powerful ballads. The Who would go on to make many other fine records and continue to perform live, even though Keith Moon died in 1978 and John Entwistle passed away in 2002.


Pink Floyd music used philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, innovative album art, and elaborate live shows to establish themselves as one of rock's best psychedelic and progressive bands. The band original members consisted of Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Richard Wright, and Syd Barrett. Under Barrett's leadership they produced the psychedelic pop songs Arnold Layne and See Emily Play and their first album The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn in 1967. Barrett had to leave the band because of severe mental illness and David Gilmour came into the group as the lead guitar player. Roger Waters took over as the band's lyricist and main conceptual leader. Their second album A Saucerful of Secrets still had contributions from Barrett and also contained haunting and hypnotic songs like Set The Controls For The Heart of the Sun. They continued to experiment through several recordings including Ummagumma, Atom Heart Mother, Meddle, and Obscured By Clouds. The Dark Side of The Moon came out in 1973 and became one of the largest selling albums of all time. Pink Floyd had taken all of their experimentation and combined it with beautiful and excellent songs into a seamless concept album without the extended space jams of the earlier work, even though there is no space between songs. It is dark and haunting and full of sound effects and tape loops and centers around the themes of conflict, greed, the passage of time, death, and insanity. The tracks on the album reflect various stages of human life, beginning and ending with a heartbeat and exploring the nature of human experience. It is simply a great mind-expanding album. Dark Side was a hard act to follow, but in 1975 Pink Floyd brought out Wish You Were Here which explores the themes of absence, the music business, and Syd Barrett's mental decline. It has a minimal, melancholy feel and is anchored by the long piece Shine On You Crazy Diamond. Pink Floyd's second masterpiece The Wall came out in 1979. The album is a rock opera that centers around a character named Pink that is based on Waters and Barrett. Pink's life experiences begin with the loss of his father during WWII, and continue with abuse and ridicule from his schoolteachers, an overprotective mother and finally, the breakdown of his marriage. All of this leads to self-imposed isolation from society, represented by a metaphorical wall. Roger Waters is on a world-wide tour performing The Wall this year.


Led Zeppelin's first two records, with their heavy guitar-driven blues rock sound, led them to be cited as the progenitors of heavy metal and hard rock, even though they were influenced by various musical styles. The band consisted of Jimmy Page who had played guitar with The Yardbirds, Robert Plant on vocals, John Paul Jones on bass and keyboards, and John Bonham on drums. Their first record Led Zeppelin was released in 1969, and is memorable for its guitar riffs, lumbering rhythms, psychedelic blues, and hints of English folk. The album had heavy tunes like Good Times, Bad Times, Dazed and Confused, and Communication Breakdown, but also featured Page's use of a steel-string guitar on Black Mountain Side, and a combination of acoustic and electric on Baby I'm Going To Leave You. There were also covers of blues classics such as You Shook Me and I Can't Quit You Baby by Willie Dixon. Led Zeppelin II continued the direction of the first album and was heavy, hard, brutal, and direct. The album incorporated other ideas into the music such as the psychedelic sound collage in the middle of Whole Lotta Love and the pop influence on Thank You. Page makes a major contribution with great playing all over the album including his signature solo on Heartbreaker where he first played his 1959 Gibson Les Paul. Led Zeppelin III, was strongly influenced by folk and Celtic music and showcased the band's versatility, and contained the songs Immigrant Song, Tangerine, and Since I've Been Loving You. Led Zeppelin IV, also known as Zoso was one of the largest selling albums of all time and included the monster hit Stairway To Heaven which fused folk and fantasy elements with their signature hard rock. Led Zeppelin went on to create several more albums including Houses of The Holy and Physical Graffitti, until Bonham's death in 1980. Led Zeppelin are considered one of the greatest and most influential rock bands of all time.


King Crimson was formed in 1969, and are considered one of the foundation progressive rock bands. They incorporated a diverse influence and instrumentation into their music including jazz, folk, classical, experimental rock, psychedelic rock, hard rock, and electronica. The band's line-up always went through many changes, but has always centered around the great and amazing guitar player Robert Fripp. Between 1970-1974 they produced several excellent albums including In The Court of The Crimson King, Lizard, Larks' Tongues In Aspic, and Starless and Bible Black. In The Court of The Crimson King came out in 1969, and was called an uncanny masterpiece by Pete Townsend of The Who. The track 21st Century Schizoid Man provided the groundwork for alternative rock and grunge. Greg Lake was the vocalist on this album and Jon Anderson appeared on one track on Lizard. In contrast to the blues-based rock of most British and American bands, King Crimson presented a more European sound that blended antiquity and modernity. The music included the elements of romantic and modern classical, folk, jazz, and ambient and electronic improvisation. King Crimson produced very interesting, beautiful, unique, and powerful music even though they were never a great commercial success.


Bob Marley remains the most widely known and revered performer of reggae music, and is credited with spreading both Jamaican music and the Rastafarian movement to a worldwide audience. Marley incorporated elements of ska, rocksteady, and reggae and was heavily influenced by the social issues of his homeland. Bob Marley & The Wailers first started in 1963 and recorded many singles. In 1972, Marley started recording for Island Records and produced the groundbreaking album Catch A Fire. The album marked the first time a reggae band had access to a state-of-the-art studio and were accorded the care that was given to their rock peers. Chris Blackwell was the producer and wanted to create a more drifting, hypnotic feel. Marley travelled to London and supervised the final cut. It was released in 1973, and the reggae sound went worldwide, even though some reggae purists didn't like the more polished production. Later that year Burnin' came out which included the stand out songs Get Up, Stand Up and I Shot The Sheriff and Marley's music was now being listened to by rock audiences all over the globe. Bob Marley went on to record many excellent albums including Natty Dread, Rastaman Vibration, Exodus, Kaya, Survival, and Uprising which contained the beautiful Redemption Song. In 1981, he died at the age of 36 of cancer. His legacy lives on in the music he left behind and reggae had a major influence on rock. His son, Ziggy Marley is still recording great music and performing today.


Bruce Springsteen came onto the scene in 1973 with the release of Greetings From Asbury Park. It was in the tradition of Bob Dylan, folk-based tunes arranged for an electric band featuring piano, organ, and 50s style saxaphone breaks, topped with acoustic guitar and Springsteen's voice singing lyrics of detailed imagery. His street scene could be haunted and tragic as on Lost In The Flood or full of romanticism and youthful energy as on Spirit In The NIght. Later that year he brought out his second album The Wild, The Innocent, and The E Street Shuffle. It was an ambitious project that expanded Springsteen's sound into jazz and other elements. It was the realization of Springsteen's poetic vision that would soon be tarnished by disillusionment. The album creates a street-life mosaic of working class society that synthesizes popular musical styles into complicated, well executed arrangements. The songs become cinematic (especially Rosalita) and point to what would come with Born To Run. Born To Run exploded in 1975 and took a sonic leap from his first two records. The songs were sweeping and dramatic. The album was full and highly produced with layers of guitar, layers of echo on the vocals, lots of keyboards, and thunderous drums. Springsteen was saying goodbye to his romantic vision of his teenaged street life and a darker, more bitter vision was setting in. Thunder Road, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, Born To Run, She's The One, and Jungleland present a powerful, grand, and exalting musical work. Springsteen took a different direction with his next record, Darkness On The Edge Of Town. It had the power of Born To Run, but the songs were stripped down and bleaker. He combined this with his own stories of those who are struggling to survive. The album starts off with Badlands which was inspired by the film of the same name by Terence Malick and refers to a rocky desolate area in South Dakota. Adam Raised A Cain is short, intense, and angry. Some hope is expressed with the uplifting The Promised Land. Factory is a ballad about the hard life and dignity of the working man. The title cut ends the album and expresses an emotional climax to a great album. Bruce Springsteen is still going strong today, producing fine albums and performing dynamic live concerts.

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