On Broadway

It isn’t usual for a jazz musician to make it on the pop charts. But George Benson did in the 1970s. He is still playing guitar, which is a good thing.

This is “On Broadway” by George Benson, from his 1978 album Weekend in L.A. It hit number 7 on the Billboard Charts. (Use the link provided when YouTube discovers the privacy extensions in your browser and tells you the video is unavailable.)

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Beneath Broken Earth

Gothic Metal is a melding of Gothic Rock and Heavy Metal. I can never decide if it is too brooding, or if I just need to catch it when I’m in the right mood. And since Paradise Lost was a “pioneer” of Death-Doom music…

This is “Beneath Broken Earth” by Paradise Lost from their 2015 album The Plague Within. Lyrics are at this link, since Death Metal can be tough to understand, even when they are singing in English. When YouTube trips over the privacy extensions in your browser, and tells you the video is unavailable, use the link to the song title – 1st link above. (Alphabet/Google/Whoever really, really hates privacy.)

The Warehouse, and the Origins of House Music

It occurs to me that most people don’t know The History Of House Music. Maybe you don’t care. If so, page down for today’s offering.

House Music, because “Warehouse Music” was too long. The Warehouse was a dance club, in Chicago’s West Loop, where under head DJ/Music director Frankie Knuckles House Music was born. Disco had been going on for 10 years, and it was firmly in the hands of the suits in the American Music Industry, and it ended – justly – in the Disco Sucks campaign and the Disco Demolition. But people still wanted to dance. So some of the European electronic influences were picked up (think of as Depeche Mode) and a new club scene emerged. House Music.

A similar evolution was going on at the Paradise Garage, in New York City, but it was different too.

Right from the start there was a difference in approach between New York and Chicago. “All of the records coming out of New York had been either mid or down tempo, and the kids in Chicago wouldn’t do that all night long, they needed more energy” commented Frankie Knuckles after his move to Chicago. The Windy City was seduced to a far greater extent by the European sound and when the records started to come, it showed.

Techno (from Detroit) grabbed some of the aspects of House, and influenced the whole rave scene, including industrial dance music (Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, and maybe My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult are probably the only groups you’ve heard of.)

Jamie Principle was one of the early producers of House Music, but he actually never got much credit at the time; Knuckles ended up with a lot of the credit, mostly because it was played at the club he was managing. That changed some eventually, when a couple of record labels were stared to specifically get some of the music on vinyl.

This song is “It’s a Cold World” by Frankie Knuckles featuring Jamie Principle. As far as I can tell it was originally released in 1987. It’s a little hard to listen to today, but the 1980s also brought us Post Punk/New Wave (Take a listen to Bauhaus, or early Talking Heads.)

Black Water

People go on and on about the Doobie Brothers, but I can only think of one of their songs that I really like. And that was from the early phase, when Tom Johnson was lead singer, and they had sort of a folk/country feeling going on.

This song is “Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers from their 1974 album What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits. (Use the link above when YouTube trips over the privacy extensions in your browser.)

Jim Dunlop – Inventor of the Wah Pedal – has passed away

If you are old enough, you know the sound, even if you don’t know it. The Passing of Another Rock Music Giant You Never Knew.

It has been said that the sound of modern rock was invented by a handful of guys.

  • Les Paul for inventing the iconic guitar bearing his name. It has almost become a class of guitars with kit makers referring to the body shape as an LP guitar
  • Leo Fender for inventing the Telescaster and Stratocaster guitars as well as vacuum tube amplifiers that are still sought after for their tone
  • Jim Marshall The Father of Loud, for his amplifiers. Often informally called a Marshall Stack.
  • Seth Lover for inventing the “humbucker” pickup that overcame the horrible line frequency audio hums that haunted early electric stage performances.

I find it easy to accept the argument that Jim Dunlop should be added for the Wah pedal. With his passing, all five of these greats are no longer with us.

The list of people who use the Wah pedal – Cry Baby – is a list of some great bands. Alice in Chains, Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Dave Matthews, Slash (Guns n’ Roses), Justin Chancellor (The bass player for TOOL) and anyone who wanted to imitate their styles.

Hendrix’s Voodoo Child is unrecognizable without the Wah pedal, as is the guitar solo in Chicago’s 25 or 6 to 4 and hundreds or thousands of more songs. (BTW, I’d recommend you just listen to the sound track on Voodoo Child and not watch the random, disconnected video).

I usually find the videos distracting, even when they aren’t this random.

Crimson Bow and Arrow

Symphonic Metal always throws people for a loop. Classically trained sopranos, often complete orchestras, or at least string sessions. (But then most people think Thrash Metal is all of Heavy Metal.) And despite all of that, there are plenty of screaming guitar riffs, and lots of drums.

This song is “Crimson Bow and Arrow” by Epica from the 2017 album Epica Vs Attack On Titan Songs. They are a Dutch Symphonic Metal band started by Mark Jansen after he left After Forever. (Though they do have a touch of Death Metal and Progressive Metal in some songs.) Google hates privacy, so when they tell you the video below is “unavailable” it is because they despise the privacy extensions in your browser. Use the link above.

Lives In The Balance

One of the things I really like about WXRT’s Saturday Morning Flashback, is that I get to discover music I never listened to when it was first released. In the mid-1980s, Jackson Browne wasn’t really on my musical radar. I knew who he was, but was more into the Post Punk scene (think Talking Heads.)

This song is “Lives In The Balance” by Jackson Browne. It is the title song from his 1986 album. (Google. Browser privacy extensions. “Not available.” Use the link above.)