The important thing to know is that I LOVE music and always have - even from infancy. Yes, I am a musician, and I also published a music magazine for a number of years called "Rock On" which supported, reviewed, interviewed and promoted our local musicians as well as bigger names. I have long been an avid record collector (at one time having had a collection of about 6,000 albums and singles) (all of it being music I enjoyed) and more recently I have taken up collecting CDs.
I think it is important to support the bands and music artists you enjoy. Downloads, YouTube and freebees are nice, but without income many artists will have to give up making music. A few already have done so. Some have announced it and complained and others have just quietly given up releasing new music to the public. You may have noticed that there is less and less NEW product coming out and that those still putting out new music are doing so much less often.
Art for art's sake is fantastic and a motivating force in all musicians wishing to express themselves. But publication and sharing of that music - including putting the time, love, care and effort into it - without some sort of pay-off, if only enough to pay the costs of releasing one's music and the cost of instruments, and the tools of the trade, promo copies to radio stations and the media etc… That can be a real kick in the groin. It is nice to be loved and appreciated, but it's also nice to be ABLE to afford to be a musician.
Rent still has to be paid, food still costs money, etc… It would be nice if we could all live on love and praise, but musicians who can't pay their bills have to give up making music and take other work in order to do so.
I don't wish to use this column as a soapbox, so I will just leave it at that and urge you - if you enjoy any artist in the business - to support them by purchasing their product now and then. Those purchases are what fuel the music industry. Bigger acts can get by through merchandising, concert fees, t-shirt sales, posters, and a long list of ways, but for many indi bands and lesser known artists - new acts in particular - a career in music can be a real struggle without some sales and airplay royalties now and then.
We now live in a world where a huge amount of great music has already been created. Music which is fast aging as "classics", so you may notice at times that there isn't much "new" music in my charts. That however is not my choice. I've pointed out a few of the reasons behind this above.
I would love to turn people on to all sorts of new music, but very little is being made these days - and what is being made is often corporate cookie-cutter amateur hour type stuff that I could not in clear conscience recommend to anyone.
This is largely because the tv industry has taken over the music industry. Idols are churned out - as Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits fame once said in an interview "like plastic elephants - all cast of the same mold".
Hold a talent contest on tv or grab the star or someone from a Disney tv show and turn on the star machine. If you've got the look kid - we'll make you a star. Marc Bolan used to talk about how they tried to do this with him in the 1960's. This mentality has only become more and more enshrined in the music industry as time marches on.
The corporations and the suits have taken over.
Seldom these days do you see people who LOVE music just forming their own bands and going out and doing it - regardless of if they have the approval of the masses in a talent contest. When you form a band you soon learn your strong points and weaknesses. The people best suited for singing generally end up doing so. Good bands need good musicians too though. People who can play guitars, drums, and so on. And if you love music you should never let anyone tell you to get out of the business or stand in the way of your dreams.
There are people whose job it is to TELL YOU what you like and what it cool. Why do you think that after some 30 or 40 years now - some people still think rap and hip-hop are some "cool" new thing?
Roger Whittaker was doing this sort of thing back in 1977. Listen to his song "From The People To The People" some time to see the true roots of rap. Others better known in the field have been at it since 1983.
Why do you think it is that some people think that wearing a ball cap backwards is somehow hip?
About as "hip" and "trendy" as bell-bottom blue jeans and zoot suits people.
What IS hip and trendy people? NOTHING! Nothing new under the sun.
Nobody has bothered to put the effort into it these days. It's all rehash. Some days I think people feed in catch-phrases of the day into a computer song writing program that writes songs for the current crop of music stars these days.
Can't sing on key, no problem - there is a program that will take a tone-deaf lazoon (watch some old Fireball XL5 cartoons people) and make it sound like Elvis Presley, Tina Turner or anyone of your choice. Can't play an instrument, the computer will compose a bland, lifeless, unoriginal, pedestrian melody for you - complete with drum machines, synthesizer instruments etc… Oh, and of course - the over used Cher "I Believe" vocal effect.
Fine on that song, but every song isn't Tommy James And The Shondells classic "Crimson & Clover" with its catchy tremolo laden vocal bits, or Cher's "I Believe". Vocal effects as a gimmick only work so often without sounding REALLY CHEESY AND DATED.
Bland song - oh well - everybody is doing them these days. Give the public two piles of crap and the one that stinks the least wins. Give them something good and a pile of crap to choose from and suddenly you are upsetting the applecart and encouraging real art and competition. The suits can't have that…
So - in a nutshell - be your own brand of cool - decide for yourself what is hip. Don't let others (myself included) dictate your hip to you or harsh on your choices.
But do make up your own mind - don't let a handful of people and corporate heads with money invested in the music and fashion industry decide for you.
If you truly ARE cool you will look cool and more importantly you will BE cool and others will pick up on that. You can't fake cool by wearing the latest out-dated fashions dictated to you by a room full of corporate suits bent on manipulation.
Don't forget that scene in "A Hard Day's Night" where George Harrison tells the p.r. guy "They're all rubbish, I wouldn't be caught dead in any of them" and the guy responds "you can be replaced chicky baby" to which the ever cool Harrison responds "I Don't Care."
When people like Chuck Berry and Little Richard had 10 years under their belts they were doing "Rock'n'Roll Revival Shows" and groups like The Beatles and Rolling Stones were the hip new sound of the day.
Yet very dated and old-hat sounds are being pushed and promoted to us today because new sounds and talents are drying up thanks to the mismanagement of the music business by the corporations and the suits.
There are others whose job it is to MANIPULATE YOU into buying product x as opposed to product b. There are people at record companies who pay people at radio stations to play music by certain artists only. If some acts are not pushed then the new album by so and so isn't delivered to the station, money does not change hands, etc…
One conservative media company in America (who I won't name for legal reasons) owns nearly every radio station in America and Canada. If you write a political song in favour of peace over war (like John Fogerty does now and then) you will be blacklisted on all of their stations.
In 1983 I was living in London England for a while. I used to love going shopping in all the record shops. I made rounds daily, often times buying things to send home to my brothers. Sometimes window-shopping, sometimes buying for myself. I began to notice this guy - this same guy, would show up at all the record shops (it was not unusual for me to see him at 4 different London record shops in the same day) in his Rolls Royce, dressed in a nice pin-striped suit.
He would go over to the record bins that had new releases by bands on a particular label (I don't recall which one off hand, but I did notice at the time that every time it was bands on a particular record label) - he would then grab about 20 or 30 copies of the same albums by the same artists, pay for them and leave. He would go to every record shop in London and do this regularly.
For those who don't "get it", what was going on here is this. The guy worked for the record label. He would go around to each London (possibly other cities as well) record shop and purchase about 20 or more copies of each release. Those sales would be noted and as a result, some unworthy band who couldn't sell anything under normal circumstances was charting in all of the British music papers… Sounds, N.M.E., Record Mirror etc… The music trade papers.
People would read these papers to see what was new, hip and what people were listening to. As a result, a band doing well on these charts would gain momentum, end up on tv shows like The Tube, Top Of The Pops etc… and their careers would be enhanced. Some very unworthy acts were promoted and gained huge attention as a result.
The guy in the Rolls, he could write off the cost of what he did as a business expense then bring those very same records back to the very same record shops (himself or via others) once they needed to purchase new stock because he'd bought out the old stock.
In the end he was out nothing and he had found a clever way to hype unworthy acts high up the British charts.
Don't think for a second that people in the business over here are any less devious in what they do.
This is the sad state of the music world today.
A scientific study was conducted about 2 years ago which showed that most people listen to music chosen by their peers and a limited number of (mostly paid off) music directors on a few radio stations - as part of peer pressure and because such people want to fit in and be "cool" or seen to be cool by the people they associate with. This is a well-known part of our human nature in fact.
The study took two groups of young people and they segregated one group so they would not be influenced by anyone. The study found that the group who was removed from the influence of others made better choices and chose better music than the other group.
All too often we are not given much choice when it comes to what we get to listen to. Radio stations have tight, sometimes segregated playlists of one particular type of music only, and as I mentioned some shenanigans and back-room deals take place.
These charts reflect my taste. A taste developed by musical exploration, not through being dictated to or by being told what I should like. These charts may not reflect your taste, as taste in music is a very personal thing and even people with very similar tastes in music will often have different likes and dislikes. I can respect that no problem.
I would urge you to check out these songs and if you like even just one, look into more music by that artist.
If I have turned you on to one good song or one band you would never have discovered before. Then - well done I say. If not, keep trying and keep listening. Keep exploring and discovering new sounds. To my view any sound you've never heard before is a new sound to you.
And keep checking out these charts. Some day you may find me recommending something you do like, or even something you have created.
Listen to as much music as you can by as many artists as you can think of. At worst you may have wasted a moment of your time and at best you will discover some music you love that you never otherwise would have discovered if you relied on the powers that be to turn you on to music today.
I generally find it takes me all of 4 seconds to know if I'm going to like a song or not. That 4 seconds begins from the point at which the vocals begin. If a song catches your ear, it will generally do so the first time you hear it. It should. There are always those exceptions, but the more music you listen to the more likely the music you gravitate to will be the music YOU love as opposed to what others would hype, push, and shove down your throats.
Take control and be your own judge of what you enjoy!
If you are a musician and want to get some attention (what musician does not want this?) feel free to forward your music to me in care of this website and I will give it a listen. IF I like something it WILL make it to one of my charts. I cannot promise I will like anything you send me, but I will listen to it and if there is anything that sets my toes tapping or catches my ear - I will give it the attention it deserves.
Take Care & Rock On!