I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that everybody thinks of the Beatles as the most influential rock and roll group of the 20th century. And as there were no rock and roll groups in the 19th century and there aren’t any as influential or universally beloved as the Beatles in the 21st century, it feels safe to call them the most influential pop band of all time. Indeed, it was John, Paul, George and Ringo who invented the self-contained band–a handful of musicians who would write, sing and play their own songs exclusively. During the 60s, the Fab Four were the biggest thing since sliced bread, but after their dissolution and into the 1970s, rock music took increasingly more theatric and ludicrous turns. Acts like Led Zeppelin opened the door for progressive rock (prog rock henceforth) and heavy metal, two genres less focused on songs and more focused on performances. These genres took skill and years of practice to get into, and were only amassing global popularity in the early 70s.
It was into this musical landscape that the second most influential rock and roll group of the 20th century was born. It was a time of guitar virtuosos and organ solos. When performers took to the stage, it was frequently in elaborate outfits. Rock music became less about rebellion and more about hobbits or satan. This was the environment surrounding four “middle class” New York boys determined to make their impact on the world. And to think, all Tom Erdelyi wanted to do was start a band. When he met John Cummings, Douglas Colvin and Jeffry Hyman through their mutual fandom for The Stooges, the pieces were in place for the Ramones to take over the world. Tommy had found Johnny, Dee Dee and Joey. All that was left was for them to convince him that he should play drums instead of being the manager. (He’d stay on as producer for their first four albums.)
Their passion came out of the New York Dolls, the Stooges and a rebellion (at least on Johnny’s part) against the idea that excessive displays of skill were a necessary part of being a rock band. Unlike their primary influences’ focus on clothing and makeup, the Ramones played strictly in jeans and leather jackets with outgrown Beatles haircuts. Their first shows were at a hole-in-the-wall bar in a New York abandoned by young urban professionals headed for the suburbs. CBGB was the only bar that would have them, and even then, their audience at their first shows was mostly comprised of the members of Television, Blondie, the Talking Heads. Being entirely unique in their style, there was no competition with the Ramones. Read more…
If you’ve known me long enough, or know me in real life, or were linked here from Facebook (those three things should cover all of you who know this by now) you know that I love Devo. It took a long time, but as I started watching Devo Live 1980 this afternoon, I realised suddenly that these guys are my favourite band of all time. At least, right now. But they will likely continue to be into the future. These badasses of rock’n’roll spit on the graves of mere mortal musicians with the contempt usually reserved by hippies for their corporate masters.
Devo recognised the instant they formed that music wasn’t heading toward a hippie free-sharing utopia, although we have that in our underground pirate networks. No, they saw that music was corporatized; music was a product to be exported and sold to the masses on whatever media the corporation deemed profitable this week. And instead of rebelling against their new corporate overlords like cowards, they instead used their fascination with synthesizers and robotic riffs to infiltrate the corporations they wanted to bring down, writing satire so perfect it sounds like the real thing. Devo are not a band. They are the representatives of a cultural singularity that wouldn’t happen for over twenty years. All of this, you see, was in 1974. Read more…
We’re going there to have a chat, but it just so happens that the instruments are sort of there as well, so… who knows?
– Jimmy Page summarizes the entire movie.
On January 23, 2008, [Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White] came together to discuss the electric guitar.
– It Might Get Loud summarizes itself.
It’s been said that music isn’t the notes themselves, but the spaces between the notes. Just like the best music you can remember, this movie has more truth and insight with regards to music, musicians, the guitar, and rock’n’roll in the little moments between answers than can be written by everyone involved in the production. To say that I could watch this movie every day for the rest of my life and never have it grow stale doesn’t feel like hyperbole. Read more…