Tag Archives: Music

60’s Pop Music – Lost in the Shuffle

Hermans Hermits The Turtles Happy Together

In the wake of the Fab 4’s explosion onto the music scene, many, many bands with shaggy hair, strong harmonies, and sweet love songs got signed to record labels. A few of them were really good bands who happened to have the misfortune of living in The Beatles considerable shadow.

The bands and songs on this list are some of my favorites from the era. History has not been kind to most of these bands. When you think of ‘60’s music, the socially conscious, protest, and hippie stuff springs to mind first. While in retrospect, that music probably had the strongest impact on society and music, it was not necessarily the most popular music at the time. Take the top songs of 1965:

Billboard Top 10 songs of 1965
01.Wooly Bully » Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs
02. I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) » Four Tops
03. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction » Rolling Stones
04. You Were On My Mind » We Five
05. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ » Righteous Brothers
06. Downtown » Petula Clark
07. Help! » Beatles
08. Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat » Herman’s Hermits
09. Crying In The Chapel » Elvis Presley
10. My Girl » Temptations

One Rolling Stones song, and one Beatles song. Petula Clark, the Four Tops, and Elvis were still very popular. This reinforces the point that while the boomer generation may want to remember the ’60’s as a time of social consciousness and musical exploration, simple pop music ruled the roost.

The following list highlights some of my favorite music from the era that history has chosen to overlook. So, hop over Youtube, Pandora or Spotify and listen to some of these bands/songs that represent the best of ’60s pop music.

The Turtles “Elenor”, “Happy Together”
The Zombies “She’s Not There”, “Tell Her No”
Herman’s Hermits “I’m into something good”, “There’s a kind of a hush”
Grass Roots “Midnight Confessions”
Tommy James & The Shondells “I Think We’re Alone Now”
The Monkees “Steppin’ Stone”, “Daydream Believer”, “You just may be the one”

Music Blog – Bellydancing Music? Really?

beats Antique Lindsey Stirling Yoshida Brothers

(Pandora – ScottWeberwriter: World Beats station)

I have a need to see, hear and think things that I have not done so before. You could say I am mentally very restless. Many people consider this an admirable trait that represents curiosity and results in a life of learning. That might be true, but it also has downsides. I get bored with things easily, I have very little tolerance for repetition, and I can be dismissive of others opinions if I have already thought of and rejected them. Those are not great behviors for the work world, or for parenting. So, I try to channel my restlessness into certain areas. I devour news, I take up and drop hobbies, and I am constantly on the search for new music. Again, here is where Pandora is like a super heroin for me. And that finally leads us to the actual topic – Belly Dancing Music.

It all started when I was listening to a channel I created called “Techno-Rave Indulgence”. It started with Paul Oakenfield, Juno Reactor and a couple of others. It’s good enough when I am in that mood. Then, Pandora surprised me by playing something I had never heard before – Slow Techno with a Japanese feel. This was the Yoshida Brothers. They play the Tsugaru shamisen which is a three stringed Japanese folk instrument a bit like a banjo, only they play it as if Hendrix was born in Osaka and was schooled in Jazz, New Age, and Rock. I liked it so much I created a station based on just Yoshida Brothers. What I got was a whole set of things I hadn’t heard of or thought of before. I got to hear Techno-Classical Violin, Indian Dance/Rap, Balkan party music, and finally belly dancing. Hope you Enjoy.

Lindsay Sterling – She made a name for herself on YouTube and as a quarterfinalist on America’s Got Talent. She combines classical music training with strong beats, mixes in a big dose of actual dancing, then sprinkles in just the right amount of geek. The music is great to listen to, and I keep expecting her to land some music score gigs. For the full experience check out her Youtube videos. If you have bit of the geek in you, don’t miss the Skyrim ones.

Punjabi MC – He was born in Coventry England, he raps in English and Punjabi, and he might be the best long term result of English Imperialism. I am pretty late to this game, as he had his first hits in the late ‘90’s in Europe and early ‘00s. He works often as a mixer and collaborator for other artists.

Balkan Beat Box – A Romanian-Israeali drummer/producer meets an Isreali saxophonist in Brooklyn and they find a shared interest in Gypsy, Balkan, and electronica. Yes, of course all those things should come together. All I can say is that this music sounds like the soundtrack for fun, kinda like Ska but wearing more wool.

Beats Antique – Finally we come to the belly dancing music. This band was put together to make music for Bellydance Superstars, a troupe of professional bellydancers that tours internationally. A connection with dancer Zoe Jakes led to collborations that blended their sound with Jakes personal style of dance. The combine very traditional parts of middle eastern music with trance, electronica, reggae, and more.

Monday – Lindsey Sterling “Crystallize”, “Moon Trance”

Tuesday – The Yoshida Brothers “Storm”, “Kodo – Inside the Sun Remix”

Wednesday – Punjabi MC “Mundian”, “Snake Charmer”

Thursday – Balkan Beat Box “Habibi Min Zaman”, “Sunday Arak”

Friday – Beats Antique  “Beauty Beats”, “Tabla Roy”

Bonus – go to Pandora and search on ScottWeberwriter. The station I have there that features this music is called “World Beats”

Music Blog – Songs That Don’t Fit

Welcome to my music blog. In these entries I will highlight a particular genre, time period, or artist and give you a week’s worth of listening as examples. You can go to Pandora, Spotify, or your favorite music site to listen to or download the music.

I wish I could say each list was the result of years of research, my own musical experience, and critical consensus  of critics, but they aren’t. They are just things I find interesting. I listen to many types of music, but I tend to love to find overlooked bands/songs or bands that were big but that history has kind of forgotten.

There will be glaring omissions, egregious inclusions, and outright mistakes. If you agree or disagree, want to clue me into other possibilities, or explain some odd point of music history, please leave a comment.

Otherwise, sit back and enjoy the music.

Nick Cave The Modern Lovers The Replacements

Songs That Don’t Fit

I have a warm spot in my heart for oddball bands and oddball songs. A lot like my love for strange cars and cult movies. Pieces of artistic expression that show a strong sense of the artist’s point of view, but that are completely out of step with the times. There is probably a personal life metaphor in there somewhere, but I’d really rather not think about it.

The songs on this list are ones that are really hard to classify, but one that also have touched me in some way (I’m not going to discuss that metaphor either). Some are spooky, some are silly, and others are just very tender and honest. I don’t know if they were made out of some deep desire on the part of the artist, or if they were a lark, or if they were drug fueled indulgences caught on tape for posterity. All I know is that I like them.

Nick Cave – Nick is from Australia and was part of a pioneering goth group called “The Birthday Party”. He formed a group of former punk artists called “Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds” and proceeded to blaze an experimental trail across the ‘80s. He has recorded with the band and solo since then and has continued to be experimental. The song “Red Right Hand” is one of the creepiest, and most cinematic songs I have ever heard.

The Bad Examples – A Chicago band popular in the ‘90s. They were strong regionally, playing somewhere constantly, but never managed to break into the national scene. They were fueled by Ralph Covert’s catchy tunes, and his twisted pop sensibilities. The band slowed down after the death of the lead guitarist (heart attack, odd for rock n roll), and Ralph launched into a very successful career in childrens music.

Little Feat – By all rights they should have been a southern band in the tradition of the Allman Brothers, or /38 Special, but their main creative force, Lowell George, was never content to write arena rock. They toured constantly, refining their sound and building an audience, but when Lowel died in ’79 the wheels fell off the bus. This song “Dixie Chicken” is one of my all time favorites.

The Modern Lovers – While they had their moment in the clouded sun during the punk years, it is hard to call them punk. They were much more of an underground or cult band in the vein of the Velvet Underground. Through the ‘70s they always seemed on the edge of semi-stardom, but never got there. The original band went through many changes, but the creative lead Jonathan Richman remained and the band ended up being his vehicle.

Billy Bragg – Folk music generally makes me want to pull a Belushi and smash the guitar, but I find that when folk artists sing about love, relationships, or just don’t get preachy I kind of like them. Bragg spent time doing work in the ‘80s for liberal causes like political rallies, strikes and benefits. Through this he built up an audience for his crisp guitar work and concise biting lyrics.

The Replacements – Prince cast a long shadow over the ‘80s music scene in Minneapolis. This frozen land isn’t known as a musical hotbed, but for a few years during the Regan administration it was on the map. The Replacements were kind of a post punk band, but tempered with Midwestern and pop sensibilities. They were supposed to be the next big thing, until a disasterous drunken performance on Saturday Night Live showed they were not ready for the limelight. Paul Westerburg went on to have a fairly successful solo career, but I will always mourn what could have been.

Monday – Nick Cave “Red Right Hand,  Warren Zevon “Werewolves of London”

Tuesday – The Bad Examples “Sammy the Dog”, “She Smiles like Richard Nixon”

Wednesday – Robert Palmer “Hey Julia”, Little Feat “Dixie Chicken”

Thrusday – The Modern Lovers “Pablo Picasso”, Billy Bragg “A New England”

Friday – Nora Jones “Man of the Hour”, The Replacements “Skyway”

Bonus – Devo “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” – Yes, I like it better than the original. Not even close.

Music Blog – Lesser Led Zeppelin

Welcome to my music blog. In these entries I will highlight a particular genre, time period, or artist and give you a week’s worth of listening as examples. You can go to Pandora, Spotify, or your favorite music site to listen to or download the music.

I wish I could say each list was the result of years of research, my own musical experience, and critical consensus  of critics, but they aren’t. They are just things I find interesting. I listen to many types of music, but I tend to love to find overlooked bands/songs or bands that were big but that history has kind of forgotten.

There will be glaring omissions, egregious inclusions, and outright mistakes. If you agree or disagree, want to clue me into other possibilities, or explain some odd point of music history, please leave a comment.

Otherwise, sit back and enjoy the music.

Zeppelin 1 Zeppelin 2 Zeppelin 3

Much of my musical taste was formed by the music of the ‘70s, despite being in high school in the early ‘80s. Part of it was that I started seriously listening to music around ’77 or so, a few years before most of my peers. Another explanation would be that I grew up in the Midwestern flatlands – anything of any cultural consequence took three to five years to filter in from the coasts. Anyway, I have a deep and abiding love for the huge pre-arena rock sounds of the ‘70s. I have already professed my love for UFO, and April Wine on these pages, and have very fond memories of the first Aerosmith album, early Foreigner, Boston and Kansas. All these bands I consider second generation Rock bands, after the Big Four – The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Led Zeppelin.

The Big Four each shaped and defined Rock music. The Beatles all but invented the concept of the album (Rubber Soul is possibly the first real album, argue at will). The Stones create made rock big with their tours and the made it bad with their behavior. The Who gave us the rock opera and the early concept album. Led Zeppelin gave us, well I like to think they gave us everything else.

Zeppelin is my all-time favorite band. I have all of their songs on my playlist, I have all of their albums. I have bought the first album 4 times, changing formats or replacing worn out ones. I could go on and on, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that they loom large in the formation of my musical tastes. They also figure heavily as a musical influence for all the Hair Bands of the ‘80s (Great White is often considered a flea market knock off of Zeppelin) as well as for Grunge in the early ‘90s.

You have probably heard their music if you are over 30, or have spent time with classic rock radio. My selections this week feature some of their lesser known, lesser played songs from the first three albums. Three albums recorded in less than 18 months that changed music, and set the stage for one of the most influential albums of all time, Zeppelin 4. I hope you enjoy these bluesy, folky tracks that didn’t make it on the radio much then and won’t ever make it now.

Monday – “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”, “Your Time is Gonna Come”

Tuesday – “How Many More Times”, “I Can’t Quit You Baby”

Wednesday – “What is and What Should Never Be”, “Thank You”

Thursday – “The Lemon Song”, “Bring It on Home”

Friday – “That’s the Way”, “Since I’ve been Loving You”

Music Blog – Early ’70s Alt Country

Grievous Angel Panama Red Pieces of me

In the wake of the Hippies, Civil Rights, Acid Rock, Anti-War, Political Upheaval, and the Young adult years of Rock N Roll, a small offshoot of musicians held onto the simplicity of folk music and  re-introduced it to it’s country music offspring. This musical family reunion took place in southern California and brought with it many of the trappings of the rock n roll business there. This was the first flowering of what later became Alternative Country, but they called it Country Rock, when they bothered to give it a name.

Country music came from Nashville. Everybody knew that. It was the 11th commandment that nobody ever talked about because there was no controversy to it. Country music came from Nashville. But, out west, way west, I mean so far west that your cowboy hat would float, they were playing music with a twang. The Grateful Dead, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Townes Van Zandt, and The New Riders of the Purple Sage were all blazing a dusty trail that looked east but stayed in the California sun.

The Grateful Dead – In  most people’s mind, the picture the Dead as a bunch of drug addled, poorly bathed and groomed freaks who play music and are followed by a legion of devoted and equally poorly bathed and groomed freak fans. While that isn’t the whole picture, that is part of it. The Dead got together in the late ‘60s in San Francisco bonded by a common love for Folk Music. They developed a strong local following by giving free concerts in the parks and by being an founding part of the local music scene. They are well known for long shows (3-4 hours), constant touring, and for allowing their fans to record their concerts. As a result, there are thousands of “bootleg” Dead albums to listen to. While some songs are soundtracks for acid trips, they also have an impressive catalog of country, cowboy, and folk songs that the general public isn’t always aware of.

Townes Van Zandt – Over a 30 year career that influenced everyone from Gram Parsons and EmmyLou to Steve Earle and the Cowboy Junkies, he never had anything that resembled a hit. He toured dive bars and honky tonks most of his adult life when he wasn’t in the studio trying to turn his talent into success. Years of drug use, alcohol, and mental illness probably didn’t help his chances.

The New Riders of the Purple Sage – This band was originally formed by the Grateful Dead as a way for them to indulge their love of country and western music. Over time, it developed into it’s own band but never really developed much of a fan base past the Dead’s huge following. They released albums in between Dead albums and tours.

Emmylou Harris – It is awfully hard to listen to Emmylou without developing a deep, deep crush on her. Go ahead, listen to that voice a while. There, now you see what I mean. She sang on Gram Parson’s first two albums. This magic pairing was short lived as Parsons’ drug use caught up with him. She picked up and got a recording deal and the rest is history.

Gram Parsons – American music is filled with self-destructive artists, self-indulgent brats, and self-deluding fools. It is also full of flawed people who made beauty but died too young. Gram Parsons is a bit of all of these. Gram came from an affluent southern family that wasn’t always supportive of his love for music. He played throughout his teen years, but then went off to Harvard to study theology. That lasted all of a semester before he formed a band and took off. He found his way to California and soon became a part of the music scene there. He played briefly with the Byrds, formed the Flying Burrito Brothers, and did drugs with the Rolling Stones. He came into his own with two albums, G.P. and Grievous Angel. Then, he died of a drug overdose.

Monday – Grateful Dead “Friend of the Devil”, “Ripple”

Tuesday – Towns Van Zandt “Poncho & Lefty” , “If I Needed You”

Wednesday – The New Riders of the Purple Sage “Lonesome LA Cowboy”, “Panama Red”

Thursday – Emmylou Harris “If I Could Only Win Your Love”, “Luxury Liner”

Friday – Gram Parsons “She”, “Return of the Grievous Angel”

Bonus Tracks: Flying Burrito Brothers “Sin City”, New Riders of the Purple Sage “One Too Many Stories”

EmmyLou Harris “Jambalaya”

Music Blog – Uh, what the hell is that?

Uh, what the hell is that?

They Might Be Giants Flood Warren Zevon Excitable Boy

I’ve always had a soft spot for original bands. Bands that just don’t sound like other bands. When the whole musical world was doing a Zig, these guys were way past Zag – more like Omphlslatz with Horshradish. Whether or not these bands are actually original is up for interpretation. One can argue that all musicians simply build on what came before, combining and recombining what has already happened into something that feels new. While that may be true, these bands did it in such a way that they stood out from the crowd.

They Might Be Giants – I like to think of these guys as “if Devo were born  as Gen X instead of Boomers”. Two childhood friends meet  back up in New York and form a band, combining their extra years of formal education with a drum machine and vaudeville humor to form a band. Not exactly textbook a Rock n Roll biography. They eventually landed a minor record deal by creating a dial-a-song line using their own answering machine to get their music heard. To call them quirky is a massive understatement. Through the years they’ve sung about Racists, The Alphabet, and even Turkish geography. Loads of Fun.

Cake – If the previous band had grown up with more sunshine, more pot, and attended class less, they might have become Cake. Cake is a thinking stoner’s band, unpretentious, clever, note wildly ambitious but still delivering a solid music and lyric combination.  They can be a bit detached, ironic and melancholy, like much of the ‘90s was, but they still sound like they’ve got a little hope. Yeah, I realized that all is really contradictory, but I’m sticking to it.

The Violent Femmes – If the previous band…no, um, if the Beatles had..no…if Dylan had a major brain trauma while huffing the powder from Pixie sticks…no, not even that describes them correctly. How about slow, emotionally damaged but fairly literate punks transcribe their therapy sessions and put it to music? That’s all I got. You have to hear it to believe it. Actually I do have something to say. Back in my college fraternity days (don’t laugh, it happened) we would have “socials” with the sororities. They would come over to our house and we would have a big party. This was the early ‘80s, so Prince and Michael Jackson were the order of the day. If we were not having a good party, we would put in their first album and the girls would be gone in less than 15 minutes. Then we could call up people we knew and re-start the party. Such is the power of the Vilolent Femmes. While I have trouble listening to Prince or Michael Jackson now, this band is still on my playlists

Warren Zevon – From the banality that was southern California in the mid ’70, rose up so many strong singer songwriters. My favorite is Warren Zevon. You’ve heard “Werewolves of London” many times, but you probably haven’t heard the rest of his oddball writing, combined with rock solid musicianship. He bounced around from  Chicago to NY, to SoCal, to Spain, and back to SoCal while rubbing elbows with Igor Stravinsky, Lindsey Buckingham/Stevie Nicks,  and the Everly Brothers. Yeah, read that list again and try to put it all together. Cynical, with a bit of heart and a lemon twist.

Harry Nilsson – Not sure it’s fair to list this guy here. Afterall, he had one of the biggest hits of the ‘70s when he sang “Everybody’s Talkin” from Midnight Cowboy (oddly enough, he didn’t write that song). He worked nights at a bank in the early days of electronic funds transfers. He actually supervised the transferring of millions of dollars each week. During the day he would write songs and try to get a record deal. He was mentioned by the Beatles as one of their favorite artists, and interest exploded. He wrote “One” for Three Dog Night, “Cuddly Toy” for the Monkees,  as well as most of his own songs. He never performed a concert or toured. He was one part LA, one part Tin Pan Alley, and two parts bad timing. He hit it big as the stars of the ‘60’s all hit their drug/alchohol years, and he hung around all of them. But he did leave some wonderful tunes.

Monday – They Might Be Giants “The Sun is a Ball of Incandescent Gas”, and  “Istanbul (not Constantinople)

Tuesday – Cake – “Rock n Roll Lifestyle”, “Sheep Go to Heaven”

Wednesday – The Violent Femmes – “Blister in the Sun”, “Add it Up”

Thursday – Warren Zevon –  “Lawyers, Guns, and Money”, “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me”

Friday – Harry Nilsson – “Jump Into the Fire”, “Me and My Arrow”, “Moonbeam”

Friday Bonus Material – “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” – Warren Zevon

“Short Skirt, Long Jacket” – Cake

“Nightmares” – Violent Femmes

Music Blog – Oddball British Bands

British Oddballs

 Nazareth hair of the dog Humble Pie Thin Lizzy

‘70s Rock really was a mix of American and English bands. Theses baby boomers, casting off the sad remainders of the ‘60s, embraced the emotion of blues, capitalized on the power of the amplifier, and turned it up so the crowds in the big stadiums could hear it. The big bands of the time came to define “Rock” in the day, and to a large extent set the mold that so many rock acts, particularly the hair bands, worked in and struggled with in the eras to come after. The seminal bands of this era are The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Led Zeppelin. They were huge, they were wildly influential, and I’m not going to talk about them.

I’m going to talk about some 2nd tier British band, because as we have seen before, I love the bands that were good, but not great. Theses bands were big enough to have hits, big hits in fact, but are ones who over time have been forgotten, overlooked, or just didn’t live long enough to have a ton of impact.

Nazareth was from Scotland, land of kilts, sheep, and cold weather. They had some early hits in England, but really came alive with the “Hair of the Dog” album. The cover art alone was worth buying the album. This blues soaked album sprung a monster hit, Love Hurts, and kept the band in drug money for years.

Humble Pie came from England and was put together from the scraps of Small Faces and Spooky Tooth, with future mega-star Peter Frampton playing the guitar. They struggled for years, nearly cracking the top ten but never quite doing it with their constant line up changes and shifting sound.

Uriah Heep (maybe one of my favorite bands names) was an early combination of Prog Rock and Heavy Metal, but managed to not sound like either genre. This band is always held out as having gone through the greatest number of line-up changes in it’s short history. That probably didn’t help the sound or success much.

Thin Lizzy came from Ireland and are arguably one of the most underappreciated bands of the era, though not by musicians. Many musicians mention the bands lead, Phil Lynott, as an influence. Then again, his death (drugs, depression, tortured artist…) fits the rock story that many find so appealing, as long as they aren’t the ones in it. They had a working class feel and spoke about simple pleasures of being young.

Monday – Nazareth: “Hair of the Dog”, “Whiskey Drinkin Woman”

Tuesday – Humble Pie: “30 Days in the Hole”, “I Don’t Need No Doctor”

Wednesday – Thin Lizzy: “Dancing In the Moonlight”, “Jailbreak”

Thursday –  Uriah Heep: “Stealin”, “Easy Livin”

Friday –  Friday – Nazareth : “This Flight Tonight”, Thin Lizzy: “Cowboy Song”