It’s Winter Time, and what the hell are music lovers supposed to do with themselves? Since there are very few big releases in the early part of the year, and for 2012 there doesn’t seem to be that many big releases down the pipeline. What do those thirsting for new music do? Well they just have to try alternatives. And my alternative has always been to look back, and discover something new in the decades of older music that’s out there.
Last year, I kinda gave the Indie’s a little more of my attention, but I remember in 2008 I went full steam in discovering music from the 1960’s. It was such a eye opening (or ear opening?) year for me, and it solidified that decade as the best of all-time (imo) for Music. It’s when Music got a little more inventive and daring. By the time I got to the mid and late 60’s there was so much creativity, risk and experimentation the likes of which I don’t think we’ve seen in the industry since.
Sly of Sly & The Family Stone
Not only did I discover a lot of great artists, albums and singles but listening to those tunes within the context of the times was also very refreshing. I learned that songs don’t always translate well on their own, especially when you are coming from a whole different decade and generation. Their true beauty comes out when you listen to the entire album it comes from.
Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones
How I started the “discovery” was getting full albums from the iconic acts like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Sly & The Family Stone and the like. Listening to their full albums made me appreciate some of the singles I previously didn’t care for. In your discovery, you’ll quickly find trends and music patterns of the time, and eventually you’ll automatically start to hear if a song brought something new and innovative to the industry. And vice versa for some copy cat songs.
Another thing I learned in my discovery, music gives a great overview of the vibe and tone of the people in any given decade. The 1960’s are a great example, because the music of the time started by being very clean and fresh. Than as things in the world started to change thanks to Civil Rights, Vietnam, and other issues that divided the older generation from the Counter Culture; you felt artists trying different things from different cultures, with a mix of angst and hopefulness in the lyrics that totally reflected the people who were buying the music at the time.
As I moved on to the 1970’s, the aftermath of the 1960’s seemed to leave people very depressed as the music of the first half seemed to reflect a very somber melancholy mood. In R&B there were loads of protest songs, and songs that just painted a picture of the urban communities (a lot of “baby-makin-music” was spawned from this decade as well — Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Isaac Hayes and the like).
While Pop was favoring Singer/Songwriters like Carole King, James Taylor, Carly Simon and Jim Croce who offered very detailed stories about real people that listeners could relate to. There are very nice songs that came out of the early part of the 70’s (and some GREAT Funk music), but the feel of that time was a little boring and sedate.
There were some exceptions as the decade kept going though. The underground Punk, and early New Wave stuff of The Ramones, Brian Eno, Roxy Music and The Buzzcocks for example were exciting just because it was something completely new. David Bowie‘s continued experimentation with different genres through the 70’s was also very intriguing and an interesting alternative. And towards the middle part of the 70’s acts like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Queen turned up the volume and Epic-ness in mainstream Rock music with amazing progressive albums that really tested listeners to expand their minds a bit to new soundscapes.
And than of course, there’s Disco which actually re-ignited my “disovery” this time. The genre gets a pretty bad wrap and that’s because once it totally took over the mainstream, it became really similar to the Electro-Pop sound of today which is incredibly lazy with no real effort or imagination and absolutely no depth (“Disco Duck” anyone!).
Donna Summer "The Queen of Disco"
However there is actually Good disco with beautiful arrangements, dynamic vocals (think Donna Summer The Queen of Disco, Thelma Houston, Bee Gees, K.C. & The Sunshine Band even Barry White and surprisingly Rod Stewart gave us some artistic Disco sounds) and a weird underlying darkness and grittiness about them. And that’s where I’m at right now, working on my late 70’s and early 80’s music collection.
I’m a child of the 80’s (born in 1980) and coming from a pretty musical family, I am aware of a lot of music from Prince, Madonna, Michael Jackson and the like.
Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart make up The Eurythmics
However I’m exploring more of the music from acts like Duran Duran, Billy Idol and The Eurythmics. Just like with the 60’s, I have a lot of “Greatest Hits” albums from these artists but I’m beginning to get full albums and see really how great (or not) they are. I’m only about two weeks in, but I’m loving what I’m hearing so far, and it really is fulfilling as somebody who writes about music to expand my music history knowledge.
Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell"
This is why I urge people to discover older music, especially younger readers. Surprisingly enough the older albums are actually easier to get than newer releases online. That is, if you are one of those who get your music from free download sites (tsk tsk tsk… lol!!), but of course iTunes is also a great tool, thankfully they have 90 seconds previews of songs these days so you do get a better sense of a song that way. But there are dozens of music sites where you can listen to older music, and on YouTUbe you can even see some of those older acts live in the flesh (something I haven’t really gotten into save for The Rolling Stones).
Just knowing that there is an endless music library right at your fingertips is amazing, and shouldn’t be taken for granted. So Discover away!!