"The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved
with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus.
Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music."
-Shakespeare (Merchant of Venice)
I hate people who quote Shakespeare, but I always liked that one and it's my blog, so go fuck yourself. I have talked to a lot of people who say they love music, and it's always a funny thing because a lot of the time they mean one or two genres. I think most genres have something that's good (except show tunes, there are no good show tunes so just shut up), and I don't mean to cover all of them here because I don't need to prove it-- especially to you-- but music is a very polarizing topic. I know that if someone likes certain things, I will probably get along with them pretty well, and I'm usually right. Also, liking everything or most things in a certain genre means you're boring and have no perspective. No genre is wholly great, unless you are referring to before 1975. All popular music was pretty good before then or at least listenable (So what happened? Cocaine? An existential malaise born out of the futility of Vietnam? The demoralization of a public realizing that it's government lies to them? These are questions that are loftier than the scope of this blog but it is interesting to think about).
Some people make the mistake of thinking that because they like something, it must mean that it's "good". I like a lot of things that are not considered "good", I just like them and I don't give a shit if that means that my taste is questionable, because you know what? Anyone who only listens to THE BEST kind of music usually takes themselves too seriously and by default, sucks. Meaning, there is plenty of so-called "bad" music that is enjoyable. I am not going to list it on my OKCupid profile (ha! as if) but who doesn't like a little Hall and Oates? (admit it!) Or Rapper's Delight? Sure, we've all heard it a million times, but it is catchy as HELL, and if you can sit straight during it then you should check your pulse. And I KNOW that you middle-aged white men have a secret place for Journey. Or Rush! Not good bands. Technically, maybe Rush is superior to Journey, but they are trash. Oh, here's a good one-- Pearl Jam! They suck, they have one song that they've milked into like ten albums. All their songs are the same. Listen again.
Anyway, there are way too many things I like to just write one blog about, hence this is the Vintage Edition of Hidden Gems... Stay tuned for a hip hop edition, a movie soundtrack edition, a ladie's (fuck yeah) edition, and probably more as I think of them.
I know that most of you probably love The Stones and know a lot about them. I actually got in a debate with a dude in my coffee shop (who's in "a band") who admitted he didn't like them. He was like, "If I have to listen to Under My Thumb one more time, I'll go nuts," and I was like, if you are basing your opinion on the songs that got strong radio play, then you can't really make that statement. Exile on Main Street is one of the best crafted albums ever, but Metamorphosis is also really terrific. This is my favorite song from the album, not surprisingly, written by Stevie Wonder:
(Here is the Stevie version which I actually think is better. Stevie transitioning out of being Little Stevie.)
Speaking of Stevie, and it is easy to get me started, here is a wonderful, wonderful live performance on a German Bandstand-y type of show from the 70's called Musikladen (also called Beat Club?). He is fully in control of the band, seamlessly guiding them in and through and around his songs. My favorite part of the set is when he takes it down and just bursts into a song he wrote for Roberta Flack. Fast forward to 14:19 (I've never been able to find a version of it anywhere but on Youtube). Of course I recommend that you watch the entire thing, as it is super groovy, holmes.
Going back to The Stones, another band who is credited as sounding like them but who never got ANY airplay are The Flamin Groovies. They went through a few hardships and the band members couldn't really agree on a sound (or much else), which may have detracted from their success. Nonetheless, they are still touring and still sound fucking great. The Stones even admit that their version of Jumpin Jack Flash is superior. Won over yet? No? Listen (make sure you have it turned up to eleven). You can find their live album Slow Death, on Spotify, which has their version of Jumpin Jack Flash.
Keeping in the same time period, everyone knows Ike and Tina, but THIS. I wish there was a live version somewhere.
Oh, so you've heard everything by Otis Redding? Really? Okay...
I put this on Twitter the other day, but I'm putting it here too, because it's fucking great. And come on, it's Soul Train.
I think UFO eventually turned into some Tangerine Dream kind of prog rock band, but in the early 70's, they fucking shredded. Even shirtless. And yes I said shredded.
I find The Who to be especially polarizing. Personally, I don't care for them, but before they reincarnated themselves as The Who(fucking cares) they were The High Numbers- a little mod band who sang a lot of covers of blues numbers in people's basements. Also, they were awesome. Check it:
Whenever I talk to someone about this band they're like, oh no, you mean The Faces-- with Rod Stewart-- and I'm like, NO, the Small Faces. They eventually turned into The Faces though. The video is edited weird, but you get the idea.
Finally, Esquerita taught Little Richard to play piano and if you listen to it, a few other things. Allegedly they were lovers for a time and he was also drag queen. Hands down, one of the most interesting rock personalities that ever existed. This is a good one: