Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Secret to Livin' on the Edge

How does a group of punk-rock kids from Boston become the legendary rock stars and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees known as Aerosmith? Change with the times. 

Aerosmith is one of the most widely known rock bands of the 80s and still astonishingly popular today. Merchandise printed with red wings and guitars are sold in virtually any retail store, the classic logo recognized by all. Though established as a band in the early 70s with their debut album released in 1973 (featuring popular hit "Dream On"), Aerosmith continued to release albums well into the 90s. The rockers continue their legacy through the many concerts and events they currently offer for their millions of fans and followers. 

Beginning as a hard-rock band in the 70s, Aerosmith proceeded to evolve its music style in accordance with their fans and popular music uprising. The band's slightly different new style is evident in their songs, which differ over the span of the two decades. Sticking true to their classic rock roots, the rockers persisted with their distinct style into the early 90s and continue to perform for live audiences filled with fans of all ages. Simply 'Amazing'. 

Janie's Got a Timeline

1970 Aerosmith is formed, composing of members Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, Brad Whitford, and Joey Kramer (relax, Seinfeld fans - not related)
1972 Begins recording with Columbia Records
1973 Debut album is released, featuring hit single of 1976 "Dream On"
1975 Toys in the Attic album released, featuring top hit "Walk This Way"
1978 Aerosmith makes the daring move to recreate The Beatles' "Come Together" with success. It is a hit on the charts. 
1979 Joe Perry and Brad Whitford abandon Aerosmith for individual endeavors
1980 Greatest Hits album released
1985 Aerosmith reunites; sign contract with Geffen Records
1986 In accordance with Joe Perry and Steven Tyler, Run DMC releases a remake of "Walk This Way", blending rap with rock; Steven Tyler wraps up the final stages of his drug rehabilitation program
1987 Permanent Vacation album released, featuring "Dude" and "Rag Doll"
1989 Pump album released, featuring "Love in an Elevator" and "Janie's Got a Gun"
1993 Get a Grip album released, featuring "Livin' on the Edge", "Cryin'", and "Amazing"
1994 Big Ones album released; includes another set of greatest hits
1995 Aerosmith re-signs with Columbia Records
1999 Rock n' Roller Coaster at Disney's Hollywood Studios is built, featuring the band's history and music
2001 Live Superbowl performance in Tampa Bay, FL; Aerosmith is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (museum located in Cleveland, Ohio)
2008 Special Aerosmith edition of Guitar Hero (video game) is released

The pictures below showcase items on display - behind glass - inside the waiting area for the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster (featuring Aerosmith) at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The waiting areas for this ride are equally as awesome as the ride itself. :)
Gibson Les Paul Standard electric guitar
Microphones through the years
Disc Cutter

Mix Console (1920s/30s)
Signed picture of Aerosmith posing in front of the iconic red electric guitar facade of the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster in Disney's Hollywood Studios. This picture (of a picture) was taken in the hallway leading out of the merchandise store by the ride.
Rock 'n' Roller Coaster featuring Aerosmith entrance at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Friday, April 17, 2015

Not Just Any Brick in the Wall

Those who stray from the beaten path are met with either resistance or cordial welcome. Those who stray from the beaten path and make a name for themselves out of passion for something are met with an everlasting legacy. Pink Floyd, a classic rock band founded in 1967 with their debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, spun the world of psychedelia toward a larger audience that still exists today. A different style, however, set Pink Floyd apart from other bands of the time preaching much of the same messages through their lyrics.

Floating through the decades

Wish You Were Here (1975) album
The Pink Floyd legends began their professional careers at Abbey Road Studios, London, in 1967 with their producer Norman Smith - sound familiar? Indeed, Syd Barrett, Rick Wright, Nick Mason, and Roger Waters met and recorded with the Beatles in their younger years. The young band was short-lived; January 20, 1968, was Syd Barrett's last performance with his fellow musicians before being abandoned by them for his behavioral issues. Even yet, Pink Floyd continued to impact fans in both the U.S. and the U.K. without the star guitarist, and is still associated with the iconic group. With Barrett's capricious behavior, David Gilmour stood in as guitarist and eventually joined Pink Floyd permanently. The new lineup was a smash. In 1972, the band's most famous album, Dark Side of the Moon, was released and reached and maintained a number one spot on the list of top hits of the 70s. After releasing many more albums over the next decade, Roger Waters decided to split from the band in 1985 due to his personal anxieties. In fact, Pink Floyd's The Wall is based entirely on Waters' personal trauma and childhood. David Gilmour, though a late addition to the band, ironically is the current face of Pink Floyd and still active in the music industry. He is currently touring around the world and releasing solo albums.
The Division Bell (1994) album

In the 21st century, the band continued to perform in live concerts featuring visual displays for their audiences. Their impact on classic rock and music fans is evident in today's society; at most retail stores, Pink Floyd shirts are sold to today's young generation of music lovers who may lack an understanding of the history but share an appreciation for the music. 

'Comfortably Numb' and equally impactful

All Pink Floyd fans have experienced the eccentric movie The Wall (1982), written by Roger Waters himself. The film portrays the band's strange and eclectic identity through their fears, interests, secrets, and deepest thoughts. Imagine delving into the deepest, darkest corner of these masterminds' minds and finding a treasure chest of morbid thoughts and insecurities, then molding it into a 95-minute film. In almost all of Pink Floyd's songs, all of which include seemingly oddly placed sound effects and audio clips, elements of the film are detectable, such as Pink Floyd's famous song quote, "How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?" Also, in the first video below, spotlights are used to simulate helicopters, a sound component of "Another Brick in the Wall". Pink Floyd's distinct psychedelic style can be detected even in some of today's music with the creation of "neo-psychedelia". 

This is a recent concert (1994), but a great example of Pink Floyd's use of light to portray certain emotions or feelings in their songs... they are known for their visual portrayals at concerts. Most of their songs are difficult to interpret without help, so feel free to look up the meanings of some of their songs. This performance features "Another Brick in the Wall"... it's just a glimpse of how epic their concerts are. Enjoy the laser light show.

"Echoes" as part of Pink Floyd's "Live at Pompeii" performance. You may skip through the first minute or so of this video... it is mostly footage of the band setting up. As you skim through the video, notice the extremely psychedelic elements included and eerie overall mood. Most of their music videos are similar and demonstrate the effects of drugs on the 70s. 

Feel free to check out Pink Floyd's official website for the band's history, art, and music.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

America's Most Beloved Highway

In the '70s, classic rock was considered an American culture. After its introduction in the previous decade, the genre evolved into a veritable form of self-expression and free speech while appealing to the American public. Among others, one notable band emerged and left an impressive mark in the still-wet concrete of early classic rock. America, consisting of Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell, and Dan Peek, was considered a soft rock band while incorporating elements of  folk rock. As mentioned before, the three hippies took wise advantage of the "British invasion" and made their mark in America (no pun intended). Though born in America and raised acquainted with American culture, the trio lived predominantly in Britain as youngsters. Their nostalgic view of America and its liberties as a country led them to the name of their band.

One of America's most classic and popular songs is "I Need You", their first intended single for radio as well as the first song written by Gerry Beckley. Today their songs remain popular among classic rock enthusiasts and those with an appreciation for the mellow tunes and meaningful lyrics used by these three musicians. Other hit songs are as follows: "Ventura Highway", "Sister Golden Hair", "A Horse with No Name" (first and biggest hit in the United States), "Sandman", "Chasing the Rainbow", "Tin Man" (one of my favorites as far as lyrics go), and more.
After nine days I let the horse run free'Cause the desert had turned to sea.There were plants and birds and rocks and things,There was sand and hills and rings.The ocean is a desert with its life underground,And a perfect disguise above.Under the cities lies a heart made of ground,But the humans will give no love.
~"A Horse with No Name" (1971) 
After many phases of new members entering and leaving the group, the three British musicians remained a part of the band until their breakup in 1977.  (As seen in the below pictures, George Martin, producer for the Beatles, also produced for America.)  In 2011, Dan Peek died at the age of 60. As an example of the intense drug and alcohol abuse during this psychedelic era, Peek dedicated the rest of his life to Christian music as a source of comfort after splitting off from his fellow musicians. As a whole, America was one of the few bands to start and end humbly and maintain simple appearances toward the public, unlike the more exaggerated media-imposed domination of the Beatles.

Enjoy viewing the pictures and videos below featuring America. Notice the hip and time-appropriate style that is evident in nearly all of their photos... jeans, jeans, a t-shirt, jeans, long hair, and more jeans.

America as depicted in their 1972 Live Concert Album
Left to Right: Dewey Bunnell, Dan Peek, Gerry Beckley
Left to Right: Dan Peek, Gerry Beckley, Sir George Martin, and Dewey Bunell


July 3, 1976: Bi-Centennial concert performed with the Beach Boys and Santana at Anaheim Stadium

"I Need You"
"Sister Golden Hair"

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Kings of Classic Rock: The Beginning of a Music Revolution

In any club, at most parties, and along numerous city streets, loud techno and 21st century pop music can be heard, blaring from stereos and speakers. Young people across the globe listen passionately to today's hits, download digital music albums, watch their favorite bands on YouTube, and attend concerts. Music is heavily ingrained in our country's culture, beginning notably at the turn of the 20th century. Though today's generation is familiar with less modern styles of music, there is a lack of understanding of its history, which germinated from the seed of new technology and social change. As Blues-inspired Rock 'n Roll phased out, a new genre of music was born from the kings of classic rock: The Beatles. 

Even today, in the midst of a generation in love with erratic beats and computer-generated tunes, The Beatles are one of the most famous bands in the history of music. As the British quartet introduced a new genre to the American music industry, they birthed a new era of music. Media release, records, concerts, and the meanings of songs themselves took a revolutionary turn. Music began to stray from the superficial topics of Rock 'n Roll towards topics of social concern and influence. Since then, artists have taken bigger steps forward in the direction of true self-expression while revolutionizing media and advertising techniques.

These artists’ daring moves left a lasting impression on their fans, giving rise to several music fan “groups”. The hippies and rockers of the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s were deeply influenced by the classic rock they enjoyed, inspiring grand-scale events calling for peace and love, such as Woodstock (1969). At the turn of the seventh decade in the last century, disco became the pop of the ‘70s, with many classic rock enthusiasts swearing by “Death Before Disco,” a slogan used to express loyalty toward classic rock and distaste for the more upbeat dance music. Nonetheless, American culture adopted a new meaning of music.

Moreover, with the recent introduction of television, hosted shows such as "The Ed Sullivan Show" featured emerging bands. When the Beatles participated in the so-called "British invasion," they too were featured on The Ed Sullivan Show, thus kick-starting their career in America. Numerous bands and artists before then also gave rise to their careers through this show, beginning with the age of Rock 'n Roll in the '50s; thus began the revolution of the music industry. 

Take a stroll down Abbey Road to discover the impact and influence of various classic rock artists. Delve into the recent history of music, the lives and secrets of the artists, and the meanings of their creations. Enjoy the fun facts and videos included in the blog... "Dream On"!