My Favourite Bands from the ’60s (and 70s)

As one might guess, I grew up to a soundtrack of  ’60s and ’70s tunes. And the love of mid-20th-century tunes held by 5-year-old me has well and truly stuck! So today, I’m going to write about my favourite bands from the ’60s and ’70s, and why I like them — so in no particular order…

The Doors

the doors

The Doors are an extremely interesting band. For one, their sound was a little jazzier than their contemporaries. And Ray Manzarek, John Densmore and Robby Krieger were all impeccable musicians. (Especially Ray Manzarek! That man was a genius on the organ!) And of course, Jim Morrison. His voice was incredible, and you really don’t hear anything like it from any other band from the era. And not to even mention his lyricism! His poetry is a huge thing that makes The Doors unique. He touched on themes like love, death, individuality, life and the human race in general, and I really enjoy listening to his writing. The Doors were certainly very unique, in the best possible way!

The Doors are one of two bands on this list that I’ve known for as long as I can remember. One of  my earliest memories involves a very young me being appalled at Jim’s inclusion of the word ‘damn’ in the song ‘LA Woman’, and the album of the same name was in frequent rotation during my early childhood. These days, The Doors are one of my favourite bands!

FAVOURITE ALBUMS: The Doors (1967), Waiting For The Sun (1968) + LA Woman (1971)

Pink Floyd

pink floyd

Pink Floyd’s ’60s-era work is not their better-known stuff, but it’s really cool. Their first album, The Piper At The Gates of Dawn (1967), was their only album with major input from founding member Syd Barrett, who left in ’68. The album is very psychedelic, as one would expect, and there are some awesome guitars and keyboards and effects! (I especially dig ‘Astronomy Domine’! And ‘The Gnome’.) I also really like Syd Barrett’s lyrics — his writing’s quite direct and the vocab is quite simple, but it really works! A few of them read like fairytales, too, which gives them a certain air of magic.  So the ’60s Pink Floyd are probably my favourite by a smidgeon — but that’s not to say that I don’t like the ’70s Floyd, too! Wish You Were Here, for example, is one of my favourite albums of all time. ‘Welcome To The Machine’ is one of my favourite Floyd songs, and the many parts of ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ are plain awesome, and I think ‘Wish You Were Here’ speaks for itself…

I started to get into Pink Floyd after listening to Wish You Were Here on vinyl last November, and my mind was blown! I’ve been listening to Floyd quite a bit, lately. Really groovy!

FAVOURITE ALBUMS: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967) + Wish You Were Here (1975)

The Velvet Underground

the velvet underground and nico

Laden with biting guitars, avant-garde instrumentation, controversial lyrics and everything else ‘art rock’, The Velvet Underground are a band I love! Though not many people paid attention to their work in the ’60s, their music now receives the recognition it deserves. The early Velvet Underground were very avant garde in their sound — founding member John Cale was a classically-trained violist, and often played it on tracks. Their innovative guitar-ing and drumming (and Lou Reed’s singing) also helped to influence countless punk and indie bands! In my opinion, The Velvet Underground are one of the quintessential ’60s alternative bands.

My mum introduced me to The Velvet Underground. One day mid last year, she played me ‘Sunday Morning’, and I was hooked! Soon after, we got a copy of The Velvet Underground and Nico, and The Velvet Underground quickly became one of my very favourite bands…

FAVOURITE ALBUMS: The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967) + White Light/White Heat (1968)

The Who

the who

At the moment, the band I’ve been listening to the most is probably The Who. One thing I really love about them is how each member was/is extremely good at their role in the band; Roger Daltrey is an amazing singer, Pete Townshend is an amazing guitarist, John Entwistle was an amazing bassist and Keith Moon was an amazing drummer! I also think that Pete is one of the greatest songwriters ever — it’s only after I attempted to play a few songs from Tommy that I realised how complex his stuff is.  And along with The Kinks, The Who created the rock opera. Listening to Tommy and Quadrophenia and following their stories is a wonderful experience! And that’s not even mentioning the fact that their innovative usage of guitar amps, or their live shows…

I first listened to The Who after getting a best-of CD back in December. It was only in March when I really got into them, and since then, I’ve become a huge fan!

FAVOURITE ALBUMS: My Generation (1965), The Who Sell Out (1967), Tommy (1969) + Quadrophenia (1973)

The Rolling Stones

the stones

Though The Stones were probably the first band I was ever aware of, it was really only 6 or so months ago that I really started to get into them. But it’s the Stones from the ’60s that I love. Their very early stuff is biting and fresh and has the blues written all over it. And by the mid ’60s, Brian Jones’s multi-instrumental genius made a number of their songs from good to absolutely wonderful! (Take a listen to the marimba on ‘Under My Thumb’, the sitar on ‘Paint It Black’, the recorder on ‘Ruby Tuesday’, the Mellotron on ‘2000 Light Years From Home’; that’s all Brian!) That stuff is my favourite — hence why I’m one of the few that likes Satanic Majesties! I also really like the stuff from Beggar’s Banquet, and Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out is my favourite live album of all time.

Like The Doors, I’ve known The Stones for as long as I can remember. My dad is a fan, so they’ve always been around the place. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know the names of Brian Jones, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. And excepting a brief period in 2013 when I thought that all Beatles fans had to hate The Stones, I’ve had a favourite Stones song since I was 8 or 9. (I think it was ‘Get Off My Cloud’.)

FAVOURITE ALBUMS: The Rolling Stones (1963), Aftermath (1966), Between The Buttons (1967) + Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967)

The Beatles

rubber-soul-uncropped

As much as I adore the other bands on this list, The Beatles will always remain my favourite. There is something very special about them. Very. How they went from ‘Love Me Do’ to ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ to ‘Revolution’ to ‘The Long and Winding Road’ (and everything in between)  in EIGHT years is mindblowing. And of course, each Beatle played their instrument really uniquely and it sounded fab! And The Beatles had four lead singers, too, and three songwriters; they each brought a different perspective to their eager listeners, and that set them apart. I also consider The Beatles some of the greatest lyric-writers, especially in the later days. And that’s not even mentioning how they not only influenced music, but how they turned the world on its head; pretty much every rock band since 1964 has been influenced by The Beatles someway or another. Their immense cultural impact changed everything, too. And the fact that nearly everyone knows who they are 53 years later says quite a lot!

The Beatles changed everything for me. I’ve been a fan since February, 2013, when I decided that they were more than just a band that’s on the radio all the time. And ever since that fateful day, my life has never been the same!

FAVOURITE ALBUMS: Everything Rubber Soul onwards!

Special mentions go to Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, The 13th Floor Elevators and The Kinks, the songs of whom I’m currently exploring and enjoying but don’t know well enough to write about…

What are your favourite bands from the ’60s and ’70s? Be sure to send me a postcard, drop me a line…

Hope you all have a great day, and good day sunshine ’till next post! 🙂

The Rise and Fall of The Beatles’ Apple Boutique

The infamous Apple Boutique mural

The infamous Apple Boutique mural

There are some buildings and businesses in Beatles history which are so infamous and essential to their story, the musical associations and memories of which will long outlive the business or building itself. One of these could be the NEMS shop, the Epsteins’ business in Liverpool. AKA the shop where a “Raymond Jones” requested a copy of Tony Sheridan’s (and The Beatles’) ‘My Bonnie’, thus prompting Brian Epstein to discover The Beatles. Another of these in the infamous Apple Boutique, opened in 1967 around the birth of Apple Corps. The boutique is particularly well-known for a wildly psychedelic mural painted on its exterior. It, however, closed up shop less than a year later.

The Apple Boutique was situated on 94 Baker Street in London, and first opened its doors in December 1967. The concept behind the shop was to have everything in the shop for sale. A place of psychedelia, flower-power, gorgeous clothing and hippy-dom in general, Paul described it as “a beautiful place where beautiful people can buy beautiful things” when it opened. It’s documented that there was other reasoning, too, than just setting up a shop for the sake of it. They were told by Clive Epstein (Brian Epstein’s brother, who managed the band for a short while after Brian died) that if The Beatles didn’t spend a whole heap of money almost immediately, most of it would be lost to the taxman. They decided to open a business to spend the money, and decided that if they were going to do so, they might as well create a business about something they all liked. And hence how the Apple Boutique came about…

An invitation to the opening of the boutique

An invitation to the opening of the boutique

The Apple Boutique opened its doors for the first time on the 5th of December, 1967. There was an official opening party, with invitations like the above sent out to various people. These invitations told the invitee to come at 7:46, and that a fashion show will be at 8:16. Wikipedia points out the irony of these exact times, as the Apple Boutique was not exactly known for its organisational techniques (more on that later…) John and George were the only two Beatles who attended the opening, and since the shop didn’t have an alcohol licence, apple juice was the drink served at the night. The boutique was managed by John’s childhood friend, Pete Shotton, and Pattie Boyd’s sister Jenny.

fool22

The Beatles were digging a Dutch design collective called The Fool, at the time. The Fool had painted John’s and George’s cars,and John’s and Paul’s pianos, and had designed the Sgt Pepper inner-sleeve… So it isn’t surprising that The Beatles decided to employ The Fool to help with the boutique. The design collective were given 100,000 pounds to stock and decorate the boutique.

In my humble opinion, the clothes that The Fool designed for the ill-fated boutique were absolutely exquisite! The shop was opened in the height of psychedelia and consequently, the clothes that were designed consisted of extravagant silks, velvet and vinyl of bright blues, pinks, reds, yellows and oranges, strings of colourful beads, bell-bottomed trousers (and sleeves!), gorgeous patterned textiles, crop tops, mini dresses, maxi skirts, kaftans…

Some designs...

Some designs…

More...

More…

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An original design

However, the tags attached to the clothing were made of silk. And the clothes themselves were also made of expensive threads. Due to this, the garments sold at the Apple Boutique were outrageously expensive. The boutique was often extremely busy, but actual purchases being made was quite rare. Theft, however, was alarming common in comparison. And it wasn’t just customers stealing the clothes — staff did, too. The shop was quickly losing money, probably because the entire business was so disorganised. Much like Apple Corps itself…

The expensive tags...

The expensive tags…

In 1968, a film called Hot Millions featured a scene filmed in the Apple Boutique. This scene provides one of the only ventures into the interior of the boutique, and also shows a couple of the designs:

However, the most famous thing about the Apple boutique is probably the mural painted on its exterior.

The mural.

The mural.

Fool member Barry Finch designed the mural for the leased shop, and got a bunch of art students to paint it on the facade of the building. The mural was inspired by a similar painting in Carnaby Street, though the Apple version was much more colourful. The mural gained the boutique a lot of attention, obviously!

However, the Westminster Council had not given The Beatles permission to paint the mural. Nor had the landlord of the building. Due to a bunch of complaints from other spoilsport shop-owners, they were told to paint over the mural. And when they didn’t, they were threatened with eviction. The mural was sadly painted over in minimalist white. Very much a sign of the generation gap.

After the mural

After the mural

Five months into to boutique venture, The Beatles bought up another ’60s boutique called Dandie Fashions, which had been frequented by themselves, The Stones and The Who in previous years. They renamed it Apple Tailoring. It closed down within a couple of months, with the boutique.

Dandie Fashions...

Dandie Fashions…

...into Apple Tailoring.

…into Apple Tailoring.

But the Apple Boutique wasn’t turning a profit. Theft was still way more common then actual purchases, and the shop venture was quickly sending The Beatles into bankruptcy. And so The Beatles decided to close down the boutique. But to get rid of the stock, they didn’t just have a sale or something of a similar ilk. On the closing day, everything in the shop was infamously to be given away. Apparently each customer was limited to 1 thing, but this wasn’t managed… By the end of the day, the shop was completely stripped.

apple_boutique

The building where the boutique was is now knocked down. In its place is now a Beatles memorabilia shop, and a Sherlock Holmes museum.

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Hope you all had a great week, and I shall post soon! Good day sunshine 🙂

 

Six Ways The Beatles Changed The World

Do not ask me what they are doing with that plastic sheet, but they look cute, and that is all! :-)

Do not ask me what they are doing with that plastic sheet, but they look cute, and that is all! 🙂

Everyone knows that without John, Paul, George and Ringo, the world would be a very different place – but how many people really know how they changed the course of pop-culture? Today, I thought I’d do a post on how those four lads made the world into what it is today, following on from a speech I wrote for a Public Speaking unit in English earlier this year. So, take a plunge into the Beatles ‘revolution’ (cue crunchy overdriven guitars), and enjoy!

6. Guitar Feedback Usage

Take a listen to the above song (the music clip was filmed in late 1965, by the way) – in particular, that noise at the start, just before that infamous riff begins. That ‘noise’ at the start is called ‘feedback’, and is created by plucking a guitar too close to its amp. Feedback was used a lot in the late-1960s/1970s by artists such as The Who, Jimi Hendrix, The Velvet Underground and The Grateful Dead. But guess who the first artist(s) to use such a thing was (were)? The Beatles, of course! Here’s what Wikipedia had to say about the innovation:

“I Feel Fine” starts with a single, percussive (yet pure-sounding) feedback note produced by plucking the A string on Lennon’s guitar. This was the very first use of feedback preceding a song on a rock record. According to McCartney, “John had a semi-acoustic Gibson guitar. It had a pickup on it so it could be amplified . . . We were just about to walk away to listen to a take when John leaned his guitar against the amp. I can still see him doing it . . . it went, ‘Nnnnnnwahhhhh!” And we went, ‘What’s that? Voodoo!’ ‘No, it’s feedback.’ Wow, it’s a great sound!’ George Martin was there so we said, ‘Can we have that on the record?’ ‘Well, I suppose we could, we could edit it on the front.’ It was a found object, an accident caused by leaning the guitar against the amp.”[3] Although it sounded very much like an electric guitar, Lennon actually played the riff on an acoustic-electric guitar (a Gibson model J-160E),[8] employing the guitar’s onboard pickup.

Later, Lennon was very proud of this sonic experimentation. In one of his last interviews, he said, “I defy anybody to find a record… unless it is some old blues record from 1922… that uses feedback that way. So I claim it for the Beatles. Before Hendrix, before The Who, before anybody. The first feedback on record.” [11]

The other Beatles song to extensively use feedback was the six-minute (or eight, depending on the version) psychedelic work-of-art ‘It’s All Too Much’, which was penned by George. As most people will recall, it was the last song (excepting the reprise of ‘All Together Now’) used in the 1968 animated masterpiece Yellow Submarine, and appears over an equally-psychedelic animation sequence almost bursts off your screen! Feedback was also used in the Toronto Rock & Roll Revival Festival performance of Yoko’s ‘John, John (Let’s Hope For Peace)’. Hmm… I was watching the footage of TR&RF the other day (thank you to my godparents for recording it!), and I absolutely loved it – especially John’s bit – until Yoko started screaming her head off. Now, I like/respect Yoko as an artist (as physical art that you can see) and as someone who made John very, very happy, but her “music” (if you can call it that) is too avant-garde for me – and that’s coming from someone who’s a bit quirky, herself! I’ll put ‘It’s All Too Much’ below, but I’ll spare you Yoko…

 

5. Stadium Concerts

The Beatles playing the first-ever stadium gig in the history of the world - AKA Shea Stadium!

The Beatles playing the first-ever stadium gig in the history of the world – AKA Shea Stadium!

I’m sure that most people reading this have seen a music gig at a large stadium – here in Adelaide, the Stones were coming to open our new Adelaide Oval (our stadium), but Mick Jagger’s girlfriend tragically committed suicide, so they’re playing in October. But the first stadium concert is not credited to the Stones, but to their ‘rivals’ (not really…), The Fab Four! The Beatles – having performed in numerous halls/theatres/clubs for about seven years – played to a full house of 55,600 fans at Shea Stadium (a sporting stadium in the city that would later become John’s home, New York) on the 15th of August, 1965! Brian Epstein almost stopped this milestone from happening, as he was worried that the tickets wouldn’t sell out – but they did! The Shea Stadium crowd – apart from beginning a trend that would go on for decades to come – was the largest crowd The Beatles ever played to. But we all know it’s not the largest crowd they ever received – that’s reserved for my town, Adelaide! Oh, and how could I forget those gorgeous suits – they all look so darn handsome! Here’s a clip from that historic concert – hope you don’t mind screaming girls!

 

4. Heavy Metal

Yes, The Beatles were the first major band to write songs that would now be classed as ‘proto metal’ – all those crashing drums and bass and guitars! No doubt about that. There is, however, an argument between Beatles fans as to which Beatles song was the first heavy metal tune. Most people know about ‘Helter Skelter’ – the heaviest song around at the time of its recording – and its influence on bands like Black Sabbath and Motley Crue, but two other Beatles songs have also been credited with the invention of a genre. The first is ‘Ticket To Ride’ – the first song ever to involve stormy drums and heavy guitar/bass lines, important components in heavy metal. People such as Richie Unterberger, Ian MacDonald and John himself (plus me!) say the record was influential in the evolution of heavy metal, and because it was recorded three years before ‘Helter Skelter’ and four years before ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ (the other song up there), it is sometimes named the first heavy metal record. Now for ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ – this is arguably the heaviest song recorded by The Fab Four, and appears on Abbey Road. The music magazine Guitar World says that it may “have inadvertently started doom metal” – listen to the song, and you’ll see why. It’s heavier than ‘Helter Skelter’ and ‘Ticket To Ride’ put together, and that ending is very metal-ish. So, as you can see, that although people who favour Paul say argue that ‘Helter Skelter’ began metal, and Lennon Lovers argue back with ‘Ticket To Ride’, The Beatles invented a genre. And the rest is history.

One thing that really irritates me is when people call The Beatles a pop group, when – in actual fact – they rocked dead hard. Even their pop-iest song – ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ – has a rocky rhythm guitar/bass part, and early songs such as ‘It Won’t Be Long’ and pretty much the whole of Please Please Me rock real hard, too. And when people call them poppy, they seemingly forget about every song they recorded after 1964, and those songs I just mentioned. In my (and many others’) opinion, they were just as much a rock band as The Rolling Stones and other 1960s cited as ‘rock’. In fact, those songs above are three of the hardest-rocking songs recorded in that period, if not of all time…

 

3. The Three-Minute Pop-Song (Breach Of)

Ah, ‘Ticket To Ride’ strikes again! In 1965, it was the unspoken rules of music that a pop song must not go over three minutes long. But The Beatles being The Beatles, this didn’t matter (I salute you for not conforming, John, Paul, George and Ringo!). They recorded ‘Ticket To Ride’ in early 1965, which – apart from arguably being the first heavy metal song (see above) – went for a rebellious 3:10 minutes (gasp!)! This was the first pop song to go for an amount of time longer than three minutes, and thus was the basis for all sorts of late-1960s psychedelia!

 

2. “Long” Hair and “High-Heeled” shoes (for men, that is)

The Beatles sporting moptops - or long hair (if only the world could see them in 1969!)

The Beatles sporting moptops – or long hair (if only the world could see them in 1969!)

And an advertisement for Beatle boots from the '60s!

And an advertisement for Beatle boots from the ’60s!

Sure, in the early 1960s, the world’s definition of long hair (for men, anyway) was quite different, but The Beatles were really the first rock band to wear long hair! Their moptops were outrageously long for the 1960s, at first – but of course, they changed that! As everyone knows, their hair got longer and longer as time went by, and because of this, society’s perception of the appropriate length of men’s hair dissipated. This eventually amounted to John and George’s Jesus looks in 1969, and because those two’s earlier pioneering, nobody cared. And as for the Cuban heels… here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

Beatle boots are tight-fitting, Cuban-heeled, ankle-length boots with a pointed toe which originated in 1963 when Brian Epstein discovered Chelsea boots while browsing in the London footwear company Anello & Davide, and consequently commissioned four pairs (with the addition of Cuban heels) for The Beatles to complement their new suit image upon their return from Hamburg, who wore them under drainpipe trousers.[11]

 

1. The Music Clip

Those two video clips above were made in 1967, but The Beatles first started making music clips (or ‘promos’, as they were then called) in late 1965, to substitute for live performances. This eventually amounted from black-and-white footage of the band miming to colour clips of them parading around the grounds of an English mansion (and still miming), the latter of which used for accompanying clips for their new single, ‘Paperback Writer’/’Rain’ in early 1966. These clips hit their peak in 1967 when the mad masterpieces used for promotion of ‘Penny Lane’, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and ‘Hello Goodbye’ were produced. Because of these (and the song-sequences in each Beatles film), the world now has the modern music clip. The rest, as we all know, is history.

 

So there we go – a list of just six of the hundreds of ways the four lads from Liverpool revolutionised the world. I’ll leave you with one final picture of The Fab Four, but good day sunshine for now! 🙂

:-) !

🙂 !