A Mu­si­cal Jour­ney Back in Time with Kevin Rak


As mu­sic lovers, we love to ex­pand our mu­si­cal hori­zons by dis­cov­er­ing bands and artists that we’ve never heard of be­fore. Some­times that means dis­cov­er­ing re­cently recorded mu­sic, while other times we look through the pages of his­tory. In this ar­ti­cle, I peer back in time at some of the stand­out artists and events in mu­sic over the last sev­eral decades. Marty - make sure the flux ca­pac­i­tor is charged up and set the tar­get date for 1969.

On June 1, 1969, Trout Mask Replica by Cap­tain Beef­heart & His Magic Band is re­leased.

If you are not fa­mil­iar with this record, or artist, you’re prob­a­bly bet­ter off, bet­ter ad­justed and some­what sane. For those who know this record­ing, or per­haps even en­joy it, there’s prob­a­bly lit­tle hope left for you. This record is by far the strangest, most bizarre record I own, and, I’m not the only one who feels this way. Rolling Stone wrote that the al­bum was “most un­usual and a chal­leng­ing mu­si­cal ex­pe­ri­ence”. Matt Groen­ing of The Simp­son’s fame thought “it was the worst al­bum I’d ever heard”. But, after sev­eral lis­tens “it clicked, and I thought it was the great­est al­bum I’d ever heard”. Stranger still, in 2011, the record was added to The United States Na­tional Record­ing Registry by The Li­brary of Congress. Either way, it’s an “in­ter­est­ing record” to check out, but don’t be sur­prised if it just leads to head scratch­ing and per­pet­ual puz­zle­ment. In MOJO Mag­a­zine’s 50 Weird­est Al­bums Ever, this record clocks in at num­ber one!

July 25, 1965 is mu­si­cally his­toric in that the acous­tic folk-set and the elec­tric Rock N’ Roll set col­lided… hard! That sum­mer evening, Bob Dy­lan walked out on stage at the New­port Jazz Fes­ti­val with a Fender Stra­to­caster elec­tric gui­tar, in­stead of his usual six string acous­tic. “Folkies” were hor­ri­fied and booed him, oth­ers wel­comed the change, as well as new elec­tric and full band ren­di­tions of his tunes. Con­se­quently and co­in­ci­den­tally, he did not per­form again at New­port un­til 2002.

On Au­gust 15 - 18, 1969, in Wood­stock, NY, ar­guably the big­gest and most in­flu­en­tial mu­si­cal event of the last sev­eral decades took place. Three days of peace, love and mu­sic. Mu­si­cally, it moved a gen­er­a­tion, both fig­u­ra­tively and lit­er­ally, as half a mil­lion plus trav­eled to Max Yas­gur’s farm in the Catskill Moun­tains. In­ci­den­tally, the fes­ti­val closed the chap­ter on the six­ties, iron­i­cally, end­ing the peace and love move­ment as­so­ci­ated with that decade.

Five years later, al­most to the day, ev­ery­thing changed, spear­headed by a hand­ful of new bands, with new at­ti­tudes. In Au­gust of ‘74, one of those bands jumped on stage in the dive bar of dive bars in New York City called CBGBs. Rock N’ Roll mu­sic piv­oted, and punk rock was un­leashed, ex­ud­ing the op­po­site of “peace and love”. The Ra­mones went on to be­come the sound and look of ir­rev­er­ent Amer­i­can punk rock. Iron­i­cally, these days, an over­whelm­ing amount their mu­sic helps sell soft drinks, ex­er­cise equip­ment, au­to­mo­biles and bank­ing, just to men­tion a few.

On Au­gust 1st, 1981, video of­fi­cially be­gan killing the ra­dio star. MTV was launched and it changed the way pop­u­lar mu­sic was seen, pro­moted and con­sumed. Nat­u­rally, the first video played was “Video Killed the Ra­dio Star” song by The Bug­gles. It only made per­fect sense. These days, MTV is more syn­ony­mous with “train wreck” re­al­ity shows, which, in of it­self, is a sad re­al­ity.

I be­lieve that The Bea­tles were one, if not the most pro­lific, con­sis­tent and imag­i­na­tive bands of all time. They were sim­ply able to crank out an amaz­ing amount of great songs, in a rel­a­tively short time span. To this day, not many have come close. I’ve al­ways been amazed by the out­come of serendip­ity and have of­ten thought of how lucky we were that Len­non and Mc­Cart­ney ended up meet­ing and form­ing a tour de force band. With that said, on July 6, 1957, Mc­Cart­ney met Len­non just be­fore Len­non was to per­form on stage with The Quar­ry­men. Shortly after, Mc­Cart­ney was in­vited to join the band, they be­came The Bea­tles, and the rest is mu­si­cal his­tory. To­day, their mu­sic still sounds fresh and modern. Re­mark­able!

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