MONDAY, APRIL 20, 2015
WEEK 16: CLASSIC ROCK
If you lived through the late sixties or seventies, you would never have heard the term classic rock used to describe any music of the day. Unlike psychedelia, proggy or glam, it was not a term used at the time but one bestowed in retrospect when the era itself had ended. In the early eighties, American youth (because classic rock is a wholly American invention) was ambushed by the new phenomenons of MTV, hair metal and British pops exotic, bright young things.
No longer besotted by the music of their older brothers and sisters or God forbid, their parents, there was no room in their lives for any hoary old rockers and in an age when being pretty was an absolute necessity, no room for any ugly new ones either. Yes kids, MTV really did kill the radio star and had a damn good go at killing off the radio stations too. As ratings dropped alarmingly, in sheer desperation some bright marketing exec conceived the concept of classic rock to lure back middle-aged folk only too happy to wallow in the warm, fuzzy glow of their be-denimed youth.
And that should have been that, except what no-one predicted was how this clever rebranding of rocks illustrious yet unhip past would attract such a massive new audience. Incredibly, in the absence of any peer pressure to identify with new genres or generations of music, American kids turned to the safety net of the past rather than the uncertainty of the future. And they continue to do so over thirty years later, despite most of those bands being either dead or drawing their pensions.
Now forget those holy deities The Beatles or Dylan, the birth of classic rock can be pinpointed exactly to December 1966 and the release of Cream’s debut Fresh Cream. There would be many better records, not least by Cream themselves, but it remains a landmark long player, representing the birth of the power trio and a move away from the cheap thrill of the single to the long term allure of the album.
Over the next fifteen years or so the parameters of rock would be stretched as far as they could go, from singer songwriters to southern rock to no nonsense riffola. Yet there was only the briefest of moments in the mid seventies when rock, in the classic sense, crossed my radar. Then again, all records have a weird habit of coming round again years later, when what was once scorned becomes cool and collectable for no apparent reason.
It was in the early noughties that I first heard some vaguely familiar sounds blasting from my son’s bedrooms and began to wonder if maybe I’d misjudged some of those Whistle Test bands with their greasy long hair, big flares and hairy chests. Much to my surprise I found the records, from such a different world to the one I’d inhabited, strangely fascinating. The songs here are the result of all that, my glimpse into a sound from my early teenage I knew little about, but one that in an Almost Famous kind of way provides me with an alternative soundtrack of the times.
01 CREAM ‘I Feel Free’ (Fresh Cream LP December 1966)
02 BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD ‘For What It’s Worth’ (A Side January 1967)
03 THE MOODY BLUES ‘Ride My See Saw’ (In Search Of The Lost Chord LP July 1968)
04 DELANEY & BONNIE ‘Dirty Old Man’ (Accept No Substitutes LP July 1969)
05 JOE COCKER ‘Bird On The Wire’ (Joe Cocker LP October 1969)
06 THE WHO ‘The Seeker’ (A Side February 1970)
07 VAN MORRISON ‘Into The Mystic’ (Moondance March 1970)
08 THE BAND ‘Stage Fright’ (Stage Fright LP August 1970)
09 LEON RUSSELL ‘Alcatraz’ (Leon Russell & The Shelter People LP May 1971)
10 WISHBONE ASH ‘Leaf And Stream’ (Argus LP May 1972)
11 TIM BUCKLEY ‘Move With Me’ (Greetings From LA LP October 1972)
12 STEELY DAN ‘Dirty Work’ (Can’t Buy A Thrill LP November 1972)
13 ELTON JOHN ‘Midnight Creeper’ (Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player LP January 1973)
14 LITTLE FEAT ‘Dixie Chicken’ (Dixie Chicken LP February 1973)
15 DR JOHN ‘Right Place Wrong Time’ (In The Right Place LP March 1973)
16 LYNYRD SKYNYRD ‘I Ain’t The One’ (Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd LP September 1973)
17 ERIC CLAPTON ‘Steady Rollin’ Man’ (461 Ocean Boulevard LP July 1974)
18 BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN ‘10th Avenue Freeze Out’ (Born To Run LP September 1975)
19 PETER FRAMPTON ‘All I Want To Be (Is By Your Side)’ (Frampton Comes Alive LP January 1976)
20 FLEETWOOD MAC ‘Gold Dust Woman’ (Rumours LP February 1977)
21 TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS ‘Anything That’s Rock’n’Roll’ (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers LP May 1977)
22 WARREN ZEVON ‘Werewolves Of London’ (Excitable Boy LP January 1978)
23 PINK FLOYD ‘Hey You’ (The Wall LP December 1979)