Welcome to Rock of Agers

Welcome to Rock of Agers

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Making the List: The Best of the British Invasion

Lists. In rock, there are set lists, and song lists, and performers lists, and equipment lists. I've always liked lists. In fact, in most of the bands I performed in, I was the one who compiled the song list and designed the set lists. So here in Rock of Agers, I'm going to make and share all types of rock-related lists. If you disagree with some of the list choices, let us know in the comments section. Or submit a new list of your own. We can all learn from lists. And they're fun to argue about.

My Top Ten British Invasion Bands
  1. The Rolling Stones
  2. The Animals
  3. The Kinks
  4. The Beatles
  5. The Yardbirds
  6. The Spencer Davis Griup
  7. The Who
  8. The Small Faces
  9. The Zombies
  10. The Searchers

Saturday, July 30, 2016

1966: A Great Year in Rock - Day Tripper

If you're a long-time music lover, you probably have a favorite music year, a period when the songs stand out for multiple reasons. For me, that year is 1966
In 1966, I was 14 years old and a freshman in the South Jersey high school I attended. 
Although I didn't know it at the time, it would prove to be one of the greatest years for garage rock, a type of music named because bands just starting out would learn and practice these 3- and 4-chord songs, which were relatively easy to rehearse and then perform live at local dances. And most of these bands would rehearse either in the garage or the basement of whatever member had the most tolerant parents.
I should probably add one more thing here. 1966 was the year I joined one of these garage bands as a keyboard player. It's a role I would find myself in off and on for the next 40 years. And even though I'm no longer performing live, I still keep a couple of keyboards set up for my enjoyment in my writing office.
So periodically here in Rock of Agers I want to highlight some of my favorite songs from 1966. I'll tell a little about the tunes and sometimes a little about myself. But more importantly, thanks to YouTube, you can listen to the artists and see if you can hear some of what I and the rest of my generation first heard then.  
Day Tripper - The Beatles


I don't know if this would be #1 (it can change regularly), but I know this tune is definitely one of my top 10 favorite Beatles' tracks.

The title "day tripper" was the first overt reference to drugs in a Beatles' song. John Lennon who provided the bulk of the writing with help from Paul McCartney also gave a second meaning for the phrase.
"Day Tripper was [written] under complete pressure, based on an old folk song I wrote about a month previous. It was very hard going, that, and it sounds it. It wasn't a serious message song. It was a drug song. In a way, it was a day tripper - I just liked the word." -- John Lennon in the notes for The Beatles Anthology
"That's mine. Including the lick, the guitar break and the whole bit. It's just a rock 'n' roll song. Day trippers are people who go on a day trip, right? Usually on a ferryboat or something. But it was kind of - you know, you're just a weekend hippie. Get it?" -- John Lennon in All We Are Saying by David Sheff
In later years, McCartney said that the phrase "she's a big teaser" was originally supposed to be "she's a prick teaser" but he and Lennon decided against recording it like that.

The song was released in late 1965 as a double-A side with "We Can Work It Out."

"Day Tripper" contains one of the great opening guitar riffs in classic rock and Jimi Hendrix would sometimes include his version of the tune in his concerts.  

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Name That Band - AC/DC

As a rock band, before you can play in the tiniest club or tour the world in largest venues, you must have a name. Ideally, the name reflects something about the type of music you play. As someone who played in rock bands for more than 40 years, I know a little about about naming bands.
 In this ongoing series Name That Band, we'll briefly highlight how some of the biggest bands of classic rock got there names. And just for a change of pace from time to time, I'll tell you a little about how some of the unknown bands I was in got their name, too.
AC/DC


 One of the members of the  original band saw the letters AC/DC on a sewing machine. It stood for Alternating Current/Direct Current. The other members agreed that it would make a good name.

The band didn't realize at the time that AC/DC was also slang for bi-sexual activity. Obviously, that concept cause a few problems in the early days. But hits like "Highway to Hell" and "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" quickly took care of any gender misidentification.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Under the Covers - All Along the Watchtower

For some reason, I have always enjoyed listening to how other artists create cover versions of original songs. Maybe it's because so many of the British Invasion songs that I began listening to in 1964 were covers. Anyway, in this ongoing series of Under the Covers posts, we will offer 2 songs from YouTube, one by the original artist and the other a cover. Hope you enjoy.
All Along the Watchtower - Bob Dylan


All Along the Watchtower - Dave Mason

Thursday, July 21, 2016

1966: A Great Year in Rock - The Sound of Silence

If you're a long-time music lover, you probably have a favorite music year, a period when the songs stand out for multiple reasons. For me, that year is 1966
In 1966, I was 14 years old and a freshman in the South Jersey high school I attended. 
Although I didn't know it at the time, it would prove to be one of the greatest years for garage rock, a type of music named because bands just starting out would learn and practice these 3- and 4-chord songs, which were relatively easy to rehearse and then perform live at local dances. And most of these bands would rehearse either in the garage or the basement of whatever member had the most tolerant parents.
I should probably add one more thing here. 1966 was the year I joined one of these garage bands as a keyboard player. It's a role I would find myself in off and on for the next 40 years. And even though I'm no longer performing live, I still keep a couple of keyboards set up for my enjoyment in my writing office.
So periodically here in Rock of Agers I want to highlight some of my favorite songs from 1966. I'll tell a little about the tunes and sometimes a little about myself. But more importantly, thanks to YouTube, you can listen to the artists and see if you can hear some of what I and the rest of my generation first heard then.  
 The Sound of Silence - Simon and Garfunkel 


"Hello darkness, my old friend.
I've come to talk with you again".

"The Sounds of Silence," one of the great classics of alienation and people's lack of communication with others in modern-age society, would probably have never made the charts except for the fact that it was re-recorded as a folk rock electric song in 1965 and re-released. It hit #1 on the charts on New Year's Day 1966.

"It (alienation) wasn't something I was experiencing at some deep profound level," songwriter Paul Simon told National Public Radio (NPR). "It's a thought I gathered from some college reading material or something. Nobody's listening to me, nobody's listening to anyone. It was post-adolescence angst and it had some level of truth to it and it  resonated with millions of people."

I think the song contains one of my favorite back-to-back stanzas in all of rock:

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said “The words of the prophets
Are written on subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sounds of silence

Thursday, July 7, 2016

How Much Are New Memories of Old Rock Music Worth?


This article 1st appeared in Sixty and Me

Unless you’ve been living alone in a desert for the last few months, you’ve probably heard about the impressive Desert Trip concert, scheduled for this fall. It’s a 3-day mega-event in California featuring per­formances by 6 of the greatest artists or groups of the Classic Rock era – The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, The Who, Neil Young, and Roger Waters, formerly of Pink Floyd.
But if you don’t have your ticket or ready access to a really large entertainment budget, don’t plan on attending.
It’s sold out.
To read the complete article click here

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy July 4th 2016: Here's Some Red, White, and Blue American Bands Just for You

To kick off a Rock of Agers special July 4th post, let's bring on Grand Funk live.


Of course, Grand Funk, or Grand Funk Railroad as it was originally called, isn't the only American band coming to your town to party down. Here is an A to Z list of some great American classic rock/soul bands. Which one(s) is your favorite? Do you have a band you would substitute for one of ours?

A - The Allman Brothers
B - The Beach Boys
C - Creedence Clearwater Revival
D - The Doors
E - The E Street Band (w/Bruce Springsteen)
F - The Famous Flames (w/James Brown)
G - The Grateful Dead
H - The Heartbreakers (w/Tom Petty)
I - Iron Butterfly
J - The Jefferson Airplane
K - Kiss
L - Lynard Skynard
M - Mountain
N - The Neville Brothers
O - The Outsiders
P - Parliament Funkadelic
Q - ? and the Mysterians
R - The Ronettes
S - Sly and the Family Stone
T - The Temptations
U - The Union Gap (w/Gary Puckett)
V - Vanilla Fudge
W - Johnny Winter And
X - The 'Xperience (w/Jimi Hendrix)
Y - The Young Rascals
Z - ZZ Top