Bowie’s Next Day

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It’s always difficult for a fan to wait for their favorite artist to release a new album. In the case of David Bowie, we have waited 10 years. David Bowie has struggled to amaze me since the Berlin years of “Low”, “Heroes” and “Lodger”. I winced at his top 40 years of “Let’s Dance”.

Although I did enjoy “Heathen” and parts of some of his other works, it’s been a while since I got excited about his music.

Enter “The Next Day”, the new album released today. The cover of a white box in front of the album cover “Heroes” gives you an indication of what we might be in for. then again, David has been known to surprise us.

Not this time.

After three consecutive listens, I have discovered that Bowie has not broken any new ground. It looks, feels and sounds exactly as advertised. The fourth album in the Berlin trilogy. I am not completely disappointed in this revelation, since I enjoyed that period. Glam-rock Bowie fans will be gravely disappointed. There is not even a shred of that era here. Only a tinge in a poppy song called “Valentine’s Day” shows David in glam style voice.

I have always considered Bowie his own genre of music. He was known for his ability to change like a chameleon from album to album.

Not this time.

He sticks to the genre he feels most comfortable in. Dark, guitar driven rock. Gone is the tongue in cheek, sexually charged, glitter rock God we saw in the 70’s. Ziggy, Aladdin Sane and the Diamond Dogs are long gone.  He has given up ch-ch-ch changes for formula.

Lyrically, he is reminiscing about the past, concerned about the future, and kind of pissing and moaning about the present. He sounds a little cranky. The Bowie mystique has evaporated.

This album will sell like hotcakes. He may even get a couple of hits, or at the very least movie and television soundtrack bites. The younger generation, enamoured by Bowie and aware of his enormous influence, will eat this up. Us old Bowie enthusiasts will be underwhelmed. I suspect I may not be listening to this album in a month. Most of it is good, some very good, not great.

Should I cut him some slack for being so old at 66 and being able to walk without breaking a hip? I refuse to subscribe to that ridiculous notion. Art is art at any age. No excuses.

John Cale released an artistic album last year without recognition. Adam Ant released a new album this year that explored newer territory than Bowie. Hard to imagine, but it’s true.

“The Next Day” is not an artistic work, it’s just merely the next day. He waited 10 years to play it safe?

It’s hard to complain since today’s music all blends together. It is still nice to hear David’s voice and songs again, even though it makes me long to hear the album “Space Oddity”. I miss that wild-eyed boy from Freecloud.

David Bowie – Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud http://youtu.be/gDCor7efUOc

Caveman Garage Rock

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The Beatles changed everything. We all know that. They didn’t only introduce us to a new form of pop music, they opened the door and let in all the garage bands from England. I would imagine bands were forming daily during those days. The thirst for new music from Britain was insatiable.

Garage rock was evident in The Rolling Stones and of course The Kinks. Two bands I love to death. However, they had more a of a polished sound focused on songwriting prowess and melody.

However, the one British invasion band I would consider fits the category of garage rock the most are The Troggs.

Called “caveman rock” due to their grungy features and photos of them in caves, and also that sound of their first mega hit, “Wild Thing”. Reg Presely, the vocalist, sang with a lustiness and decadence that turned on millions.

However, The Troggs also had a softer side. A beautiful pop song “Love Is All Around”, was also a hit. Other hits included “A Girl Like You”, “Night Of The Long Grass’, and “I Can’t Control Myself”, cemented The Troggs legacy as pioneers of the garage rock sound of the British Invasion.

Sadly, Reg Presely died this year. The group broke up long ago, but their songs are staples on oldies radio, and Wild Thing is probably one of the most covered songs in history.

Great band.

Have a listen:

“I Can’t Help Myself” http://youtu.be/rzHpGjvRgTc

“A Girl Like You” http://youtu.be/3WOdnA3TMGU

“Love Is All Around” http://youtu.be/m_HnBac5jWs

“Wild Thing” http://youtu.be/icAOfeNsatc

Frat Rock

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Elvis brough rock n roll into the mainstream, but the real sound of rock n roll belonged to guys like Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. Unfortunately, racism and incest kept those three giants from getting the amount of airplay they deserved.

However, the kids knew the scene. They were not only gobbling up the surf music and the rock n roll giants, they were using it as a mechanism to just go crazy. Frat rock was a product of those two genres.

The Rivingtons were a doo-wop group from the early 60’s that released one of the most popular novelty songs of all time “Pa Pa Oom Mow Mow”. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it was the precursor of a hit by The Trashmen called “Surfin’ Bird”.  This crazy song along with The Sufaris – “Wipe Out” describe Frat Rock. Wipe Out was THE song to test drummers. “Can you play Wipe Out” became a mantra of this era. Surfin Bird was covered by The Ramones and The Cramps. It regained popularity when it was featured on an episode of Family Guy. I always found the song quite annoying, but people responded to it.

Other bands that joined this craze are The Rivieras with  “California Sun” and The Kingsmen with their mega hit “Louie Louie”, also covered by just about everybody. It was one of the early songs that had incoherent lyrics. Adults were certain it contained indecent lyrics. The song was banned on many radio stations, which only increased it’s popularity.

The surf rock/frat rock craze was hitting the mainstream. These were the songs of summer back in the early 60’s and remain as staples of summertime music on many of today’s oldie stations.

Before long, bands like The Ventures had hits. The Tornados had a huge hit with an instrumental that fit in nicely with the space age. It’s one of my favorite instrumentals of this period. “Tellstar”

The Rivingtons – Pa Pa Oom Mow Mow – http://youtu.be/4gqiZ7DBgaA

The Trashmen – Surfin’ Bird – http://youtu.be/OB_fDwBMkCQ

The Sufaris – Wipe Out – http://youtu.be/p13yZAjhU0M

The Kingsmen – Louie Louie – http://youtu.be/1RZJ4ESU52U

The Tornados – Tellstar – http://youtu.be/YuA-fqKCiAE

Surf Rock

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I can’t think of a better place to start Garage Rock month than with Surf Rock. After the death of Buddy Holly and the drafting of Elvis to the war, then later to Vegas schmaltz rock, pre-fab four arrival, surf rock was at its peak.

This was the counter-culture of the early 60’s. Kids on the beach surfing and ducking B-Movie creatures from the sea. It was psycho beach party and beach blanket bingo and the music was like something from another planet. Like far out man.

Guys like Link Wray, a 50’s rockabilly rebel and Dickie Dale were the pioneers of the surf rock sound. Loud twangy guitars with just a bit of fuzz to make it dangerous. Link Wray would later join Robert Gordon in the late 70’s for a rockabilly revival. Saw them a few times back then. Amazing shows.

Mostly instrumental in sound but even more in setting the path for what was to become the greatest surge of garage rock.

I love this music and it makes me feel like I am back in time to a place I was too young to remember.

There are quite a few decent compilations of the surf rock explosion. But if you want to get a real feel listen to bands like The Iguanas (featuring drummer James Osterberg, later known as Iggy Pop), The Swanks, The Wailers, The Lively Ones, The Markettes.

You can also find this music on just about any Quentin Tarantino soundtrack. He knew how to mix surf rock with his film genre.

Surf rock made its way into the mainstream with Jan & Dean, The Ventures and of course The Beach Boys but it was the early sound that I still find so appealing.

Here are a couple of staples:

Link Wray – Rumble http://youtu.be/0lo_YinURnY

Dickie Dale – Misirlou http://youtu.be/ZIU0RMV_II8

The Lively Ones – Pipeline http://youtu.be/6_27q9Uujz0

The Wailers – Tall Cool One http://youtu.be/6dKrVQ8QvXA

The Iguanas (feat. Iggy Pop) – Surfin’ Bird http://youtu.be/AWoAmo3ILeY

The Swanks – Ghost Train http://youtu.be/m-BoT5Zlh2c