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!