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Dr-David-Banner

George Harrison Slammed Modern Pop

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Dr-David-Banner

The Beatles is one of my pet subjects. I recall being fascinated and hooked on the band at age 13 after hearing Strawberry Fields Forever. The music still influences me today. In itself the story is fascinating as The Beatles were all "different" and always on the fringe of early sixties Liverpool. Odd-balls. The plan was to just do rock and roll in working class clubs rather than do the nine till five. Brian Epstein saw John on stage and was in awe of his presence. Brian had been bullied out of his national service and other jobs so was an outsider too. Yet his decision to manage and package The Beatles changed the history of pop and rock. I think the early records were kind of simple tracks the average working classes could relate too. I guess The Beach Boys were doing the same with beach and surf tracks. Around 1966, Beatles music got serious. They adopted psychedelic from The Byrds and wrote more creatively. Above all, the pop fans of the era got into the whole experience and demanded more experimentation in sound. Looking carefully around the period 1967 - 1969 , I found some groups who were impressive, judged on their music. The Flower Pot men did two tracks I totally love: Let's Go To San Francisco and The Cooks Of Cake And Kindness. They were a psychedelic group with great vocals and song-writing. Another band from Birmingham, The Californians never won over the south, but did great covers (cooks of cake and kindness, follow me and Mandy). Another band called Fire I like a lot. With such bands you notice the bass is pretty lively, lead guitar decent and vocals in the sixties easily surpass modern bands. This I think is because only having guitars and keyboards, groups at that time needed strong vocals. Check out early Beatles and it's clear the vocals form a huge part of the sound. Music of course needs vocals. I always think vocals make the track communicative and real. 

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Dr-David-Banner

Psychologists ought to consider how music can be used to evaluate social development. Plus the effect it may have on us. What modern pop tells me at a quick glance is (1) it is not changing or evolving and (2) the mass population is playing basically the same material. So it points to conservatism and conformity. I am sure there will be musicians around today with creative talent but they cannot be in any way popular as society is too "stuck in one groove". Would Jimmy Hendrix make it on X Factor or get huge downloads from public mobile phones? I very much doubt it. Speaking of Jimmy, he was typical of the sixties music scene, doing stuff differently and "feeling" his guitar. Setting new trends and pushing the boundaries. So the sixties generation appreciated change and new experiences. They protested policies, searched for deeper meaning and followed music as a form of expression and shaking off conservatism. I'm really not afraid to bash modern music. I don't care if people accuse me of being somehow "out of touch". I think George Harrison as an ex Beatle had every right to react critically. Had John Lennon survived to this modern era I think he'd have been saddened. Lennon did predict rock and roll would die out. He hated it when the early Beatles had to wear suits and ties. Seeing music turned into a quick sales global market simply removed grass root art from the working classes or social outsiders. The only positive is there's lots of great music to dig back to. From Louisiana jazz to progressive there are some great bands of bygone years.

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Dr-David-Banner

Music marks me out as being totally different from the general population. When I go to supermarkets, I take a cheap set of earphones. While the supermarkets play plastic, synthetic, XFactor type  music or car drivers churn out the same Americanised rap, I escape back to 1969. What percentage of people even heard of (let alone play)the band Crotcheted Doughnut Ring? Their hit Happy Castle has a slight Beach Boys ring to it but is just a happy kind of song. I took it as a light hearted swipe at middle class well-to-do men and money chasing. I would absolutely pass out on the street ifI ever heard some car driver play Happy Castle or any such track. The question is though why are neurotypicals so unable to break free from following the pack and make more personal choices? Yes, there was some of this in the sixties where it was "the done thing" to "like" The Who or The Stones or Bowie in the seventies. I repeat the question though: Why does the population just follow music others say is good? Why not Beethoven, Chekov, New Orleans jazz or blues? Why do people simply dismiss music of the past for fear of being out of the trend or fashion? I am just glad being autistic allows me to make my own choices and do what "resonates" personally.

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Dr-David-Banner

Just a note about Rock and Roll. You never hear it today - only the offshoot of heavy metal. Lately I listened to some plain rock to maybe get some ideas how to make the same sound. Rock tends to use a steady beat, guitar strumming (electric) and often harmonica with clapping. I think the early Stones had it nailed perfect. Rock I see as real grass roots and gutsy music created by musicians with a feel. Hendrix of course did his share of it with hits like Hey Joe.

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Dr-David-Banner

I downloaded a bit of Jefferson Airplane who got really big in San Francisco. Playing live on TV shows they seemed pretty impressive and psychedelic. Grace Slick led as vocalist and has a gritty and individual voice. She's now seventy something. 

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Dr-David-Banner

Jefferson Airplane - mid sixties.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myVzaR8cmDA

"AHHH the ERA.... the memories.... you have not lived if you haven't lived in this era... Care free and tripping on peace :-)....."

 

Edited by Dr-David-Banner

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StarlessEclipse

You aren't just blinded by nostalgia. As a 21-year-old with no possible nostalgic bias towards decades I didn't live through, it's self-evident that mainstream music today is more banal, homogeneous and dumbed down than at any other point in the recording industry's relatively brief history. All scientific research into the subject clearly indicates that mainstream popular music has suffered a drastic and measurable decline in terms of melody, harmony, rhythmic complexity, timbral diversity, lyrical intelligence and dynamic range over the past fifty years. An alarming percentage of what we hear on mainstream pop radio is written and produced to order by the same clique of four corporate songwriters.

On public transport, it's becoming infuriatingly common for kids & teenagers to blast music loudly out of smartphone speakers with no regard for those around them; invariably bland, ugly, soulless, generic, manufactured trash. However, the most interesting thing is that they never, ever listen to any one track from beginning to end. They'll play one song for ten seconds, then move onto the next for another ten seconds, then another, then play a game for 20 seconds, then watch the first few seconds of a YouTube video before getting bored, and so on. Irritating though they are, I can't help but feel sorry for the profound damage inflicted upon their attention spans.

I must admit, I was surprised to discover that even the early to mid '70s fit into the wider pattern of decline, but then again my love for that era is largely down to the progressive rock & jazz fusion scene, so it would make sense that my perception of what was mainstream at the time is somewhat distorted. The corporate crackdown on creative freedom first becomes noticeable to me around 1977. It's perhaps not so apparent at such an early stage in more conventional rock acts, but if you're a prog fan, you'll surely have noticed that an uncanny number of the genre's major pioneers very abruptly ran out of steam around 1977 and 1978, producing listless, uninspired albums which strain for conciseness and simplicity, quite obviously against the sincere inclinations of their creators. Speaking of George Harrison, he notably spent a large portion of the '80s on hiatus from the music industry after being treated appallingly by Warner Bros. during the recording of his "Somewhere in England" album. If even someone of his status could be pushed around, what hope would an experimental band with a smaller cult following have? Fundamentally, corporate greed is to blame.

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Dr-David-Banner
On Saturday, May 25, 2019 at 7:05 AM, StarlessEclipse said:

You aren't just blinded by nostalgia. As a 21-year-old with no possible nostalgic bias towards decades I didn't live through, it's self-evident that mainstream music today is more banal, homogeneous and dumbed down than at any other point in the recording industry's relatively brief history. All scientific research into the subject clearly indicates that mainstream popular music has suffered a drastic and measurable decline in terms of melody, harmony, rhythmic complexity, timbral diversity, lyrical intelligence and dynamic range over the past fifty years. An alarming percentage of what we hear on mainstream pop radio is written and produced to order by the same clique of four corporate songwriters.

On public transport, it's becoming infuriatingly common for kids & teenagers to blast music loudly out of smartphone speakers with no regard for those around them; invariably bland, ugly, soulless, generic, manufactured trash. However, the most interesting thing is that they never, ever listen to any one track from beginning to end. They'll play one song for ten seconds, then move onto the next for another ten seconds, then another, then play a game for 20 seconds, then watch the first few seconds of a YouTube video before getting bored, and so on. Irritating though they are, I can't help but feel sorry for the profound damage inflicted upon their attention spans.

I must admit, I was surprised to discover that even the early to mid '70s fit into the wider pattern of decline, but then again my love for that era is largely down to the progressive rock & jazz fusion scene, so it would make sense that my perception of what was mainstream at the time is somewhat distorted. The corporate crackdown on creative freedom first becomes noticeable to me around 1977. It's perhaps not so apparent at such an early stage in more conventional rock acts, but if you're a prog fan, you'll surely have noticed that an uncanny number of the genre's major pioneers very abruptly ran out of steam around 1977 and 1978, producing listless, uninspired albums which strain for conciseness and simplicity, quite obviously against the sincere inclinations of their creators. Speaking of George Harrison, he notably spent a large portion of the '80s on hiatus from the music industry after being treated appallingly by Warner Bros. during the recording of his "Somewhere in England" album. If even someone of his status could be pushed around, what hope would an experimental band with a smaller cult following have? Fundamentally, corporate greed is to blame.

The 1970s had a few prog jazz musicians like Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays. Lyle has packed in music despite his legendary talent. He now does architecture because music was not practical and profitable. Stanley Clarke I thought was really good. I also found and downloaded Escalator Over The Hill from 1970 - a strange double prog jazz album. 

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Dr-David-Banner

What logically discourages me from music is not the money aspect but the lack of interest and awareness in society. The penny dropped months ago when the track A Day In The Life was switched off a factory radio (after hours of modern slush and American rap). That told me what a Rolling Stone already stated - "Neither The Beatles or Rolling Stones would have made any impact today." The idea of being a musician is to share inspiration with others which means being around the same vibe. If the public isn't musically inclined or just accustomed to synthetic chewing gum music, any experimental musician is wasting his or her time. In the past this has happened to a lesser degree where Pet Sounds was initially rated poorly and EMI dropped John Denver. These days it is just so much worse because society is bogged down with download audio that never changes direction. Plus it says nothing and has no connection to popular movements - even akin to Bob Geldoff's Feed The World famine awareness. I chat to younger people a lot and hand on heart can say they can't debate music. I will play them some Jefferson Airplane track and they find this odd. Why dig up music per se if everybody else is ignoring it? Why not just like what the pack follows as the latest trend? Surely music is like a TV soap add that vaguely catches 25 per cent of your attention as you send a text message? Well, I recall how I used to skip school as a kid, wander up town and go into Boots. There they literally had shelves packed with cassette and vinyl albums. All were grouped. People actively browsed the big names of punk, new wave and even reggae bands. 

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Dr-David-Banner

There is a paradox here that is very weird. Never have musicians had such an opportunity to produce awesome music and publish on a minute budget. If I wanted I could add software to my synth, autotune my vocals or just use the latest technology. No need to be taken by a record label and hire a studio. Yet ironically just at the time of most opportunity, the opposite effect took place. People stopped learning piano, bass, guitar or even synth. They figured auto chords and software eliminated that requirement. Record labels disappeared as did vinyl albums and incomes for streamlined bands. As more and more dross was produced by ex-cons or talentless joy riders, the overall quality of pop and rock sank as more talented bands were just eclipsed in a sea of fast downloads and X Factor superficiality. The old saying goes "necessity is the mother of invention". Anything made easy and requiring little effort tends to create mediocrity. Challenge on the other hand inspires imagination and creativity. Given most sixties groups had to rely on guitar, bass, keys and a drum kit, they had to develop strong vocal skills and contrived effects (backward tape feedback or bottle neck and slide). I find inventiveness in the analogue studios still outdoes digital pads and software due to authenticity. So there is a paradox here. For pop music to be good ever again we need a competitive market of elite bands and a musically aware population of consumers. If that will ever return is hard to say. 

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