The Beatles debut album Please Please Me was released in England on EMI/Parlophone Records in March 1963, under the direction of Sir George Martin, who turned 87 earlier this month.  Martin had joined EMI in 1950 and oversaw the Parlophone label, which released the early Beatles albums in the UK.  The label also featured several other major acts, including the HolliesCilla Blackand Billy J. Kramer
However, Capitol Records was slow to lock up the Beatles recordings in this country – apparently learning nothing from Decca Records’ disastrous decision in 1962 not to give the band a recording contract in the UK, giving as their reason the boneheaded prediction that “guitar bands were on their way out”. 
This allowed small American labels to release many of the band’s early singles, notably “She Loves You b/w “I’ll Get You” on Swan Records, but also including Please Please Me b/w “From Me to You” and “Do You Want to Know a Secret” b/w “Thank You Girl” on Vee Jay Records, plus “Love Me Do” b/w “P.S. I Love You” and “Twist and Shout” b/w “There’s a Place” on Vee Jay’s subsidiary Tollie Records.  In fact, during that remarkable week in April 1964 when all of the top 5 songs on the Billboard singles chart were Beatles songs – in order, they were “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “Twist and Shout”, “She Loves You”, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, and Please Please Me – just 2 were Capitol releases (#1 and #4).  Vee Jay was even able to get their million-selling Introducing . . . the Beatles album released 10 days before CapitolMeet the Beatles (though it was originally scheduled for a July 1963 release).  Needless to say, considerable lawsuits were both brought and threatened over that period. 
Over the ensuing years, the Beatles financial entanglements only worsened.  This occurred, in part, because of the somewhat bitter and highly public break-up of the band; but for the most part, it was simply ill-advised business practices as I understand it.  Continued standoffs by the band and the other representatives in charge of their recordings – whose owners by then included Michael Jackson – kept thBeatles canon from being available via online sales until 2010.  With the acquisition of EMI by Universal Music Group in 2012 and the subsequent creation of a new Capitol Records subsidiary to oversee the Beatles catalogue, perhaps the matter is finally settled. 
The Beatles somewhat anti-capitalist stance over this period is hardly driven by some sort of Marxist-Leninist tendencies as the band’s detractors might imagine, but it is rather a natural reaction to the scandalously brutal plundering of royalties from even top recording artists that had become routine among recording industry practitioners for decades.  As one of the most egregious examples, one of the Rolling Stones managers, Allen B. Klein tricked the band into signing over the rights to all of the music that they had recorded (through 1971) with Decca Records.  (The Stones were Decca’s lucrative consolation prize when they passed on signing the Beatles).  Klein’s label, ABKCO Records is frequently encountered on Stones records, including one of their rarest albums, Metamorphosis
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Another tragic example is that of Creedence Clearwater Revival; their recording contract with Fantasy Records is widely regarded as the worst ever of any major recording artist in this country.  CCR is one of the few rock bands that was adept not only at crafting irresistible singles, but also at placing them on albums that, if anything, were even better – the extended jam on their first major hit song “Suzie Q” in 1968 (their only major hit that was not written by bandleader John Fogerty – the Rolling Stones is one of many artists that had previously recorded the song) is just a sample of those that await discovery on the band’s albums during their long hitmaking period. 
The acrimony among the bandmembers started not long after Suzie Q became a hit.  Rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty (John’s younger brother) in particular had long felt ignored within the band and finally left the group for good in January 1971.  Eventually, John Fogerty refused to work with Fantasy at all, and he made only minimal contributions to the band’s final album in 1972Mardi Gras, insisting that he would not sing any of the songs written by the two other bandmembers, bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford.  The album was panned by the critics, with Rolling Stone reviewer Jon Landau marking it as “the worst album I have ever heard from a major rock band”.  The only reunion of Creedence Clearwater Revival with all four original members occurred at Tom Fogerty’s wedding in 1980.  Remarkably, Tom Fogerty sided with Fantasy Records during his brother’s bitter disputes with their label. 
John Fogerty refused to perform any of his Creedence Clearwater Revival songs for many years in order to prevent any future proceeds from going to Fantasy Records owner Saul Zaentz, and this naturally hampered his efforts to start a solo career in the early 1970’s.  Ultimately, John Fogerty signed away all of his rights to the Creedence material in the mid-1970’s, in exchange for being able to get out from under the CCR’s onerous recording contract – the band still owed the label eight (!) more albums at that point. 
Still, his second solo album in 1975John Fogerty spawned a minor hit “Rockin’ All Over the World”.  Also, Status Quo – a solid British rock band whose decades of blockbuster recording output are virtually unknown in this country (other than their 1967 psychedelic hit song “Pictures of Matchstick Men”) – earned a 1977 hit album, Rockin’ All over the World in the UK with Fogerty’s song as the album’s title track.  The song gained even wider exposure when Status Quo opened their set at the 1985 Live Aid concert with “Rockin’ All Over the World"; they were just the second band to perform at the London portion of the event (in Wembley Stadium), and the song was used by the BBC to promote their coverage of what is one of the best known rock concert events to this day. 
When David Geffen’s Asylum Records purchased his recording contract for $1,000,000 from Fantasy Records (later joined by Warner Bros. Records) – though those rights applied only for North America; Fogerty’s worldwide rights remained with Fantasy – John Fogerty finally was able to re-establish himself as a major rock artist with his 1985 hit album Centerfield.  The title track, “Centerfield” quickly became one of the best-loved baseball songs in the country.  Fogerty couldn’t resist tweaking his old nemesis Saul Zaentz at Fantasy with two other tracks, “Mr. Greed” and “Zanz Kant Danz” (about a pig who can’t dance but would “steal your money”); after a while, he was forced to change the name of the latter song to “Vanz Kant Danz”. 
Saul Zaentz perhaps sought revenge by suing John Fogerty for $1,000,000 over another hit single from the same album, “The Old Man Down the Road”, alleging that the song basically had the same chorus as the 1970 Creedence Clearwater Revival song “Run through the Jungle” – essentially, Fogerty was being sued for plagiarizing himself!  After John Fogerty was able to establish in court that the two were separate songs, he then counter-sued Saul Zaentz for his legal expenses – a case that went all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court.  Tom Fogerty ultimately died in 1990 of complications from AIDS via tainted blood transfusions, and the brothers hadn’t been on speaking terms for years previously. 
With all of that animosity as background, it is small wonder, then, that John Fogerty refused to perform with his surviving former bandmates, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford when Creedence Clearwater Revival was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, though he did perform several CCR songs with a different backing band that night.  Cook and Clifford did start a band in 1995 called Creedence Clearwater Revisited that still tours widely. 
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I can’t end this story about Creedence Clearwater Revival without mentioning the Vietnam Veterans Tribute Concert near Washington, D.C., on July 4, 1987.  Sadly, this event – which was nationally televised on HBO – seems to be largely forgotten today; it is even omitted from the “1987 in music” article in Wikipedia.  I took the concert to be, in large part, an apology from the 1960’s counter-culture for their disgraceful treatment of Vietnam Veterans (if I am not mistaken, even Jane Fonda put in an appearance), though no one was taking back anything that they had said about the politicians and many of the generals. 
Several of the performers that had appeared at the original Woodstock Music & Art Fair in 1969 were in attendance:  Richie HavensCountry JoeJohn Sebastian, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (at least individually, with Stephen Stills and Neil Young appearing in a reformed Buffalo Springfield).  By the way, hardly anyone knows that Creedence Clearwater Revival was also a headliner at Woodstock; however, their subpar performance didn’t start until 3:00 a.m. (after the Grateful Dead) and was omitted from the film and concert albums (though they did make the 1994 box set).  Other musicians at the Vietnam Veterans Tribute Concert included James BrownStevie Wonder, the Byrds, Bonnie RaittKris KristoffersonLinda RonstadtFrankie Valli, and the Four Tops; and there were also speeches by John RitterLouis Gossett, Jr.Whoopi GoldbergOliver Stone, and Ed Asner
In spite of the stellar line-up, the promoters of the Vietnam Veterans Tribute Concert could hardly contain themselves whenever they spoke of John Fogerty and his performance at long last of several of his Creedence Clearwater Revival songs for basically the first time in 15 years.  His set included “Born on the Bayou”, “Down on the Corner”, “Who’ll Stop the Rain”, and “Fortunate Son”.  That performance is truly one of the most thrilling concerts that I have ever seen – on television or in person.  In-between songs, John Fogerty made a heartfelt speech to the veterans that also showed that he was beginning to come to terms with his own painful history: 
“I just want to tell you something real short and sweet.  I’m talking to vets here.  I myself had gone through about 20 years of pain, and I finally faced that pain.  I looked it right in the face and said, well, you got a choice:  You can do it for 20 more years, or you can just say, ‘That’s what happened.’  You can’t change it, that’s just what happened.  So I’m telling you guys, that’s what happened.  You got the shaft.  You know it, we know it, it’s reality.  So drop it.  In fact – [crowd reaction] You got it.  Send me a letter, Berkeley, California, but you promise me something:  You send the letter, you drop it in the box, and then you drop all that s--t you been carrying around.  Is that a deal?  And get on with it, buddy!” 
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Mostly though, it was African-American R&B, blues and soul musicians who were most mercilessly driven penniless by the heartless bastards who ran the recording industry in the bad old days.  That is a saga that I will save for another time.  Whatever else you might think of the corporatization of popular music, those kinds of practices have evidently come to an end at least. 
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The British Invasion caught American recording artists flat-footed; they were not used to any overseas competition to speak of.  Creedence Clearwater Revival and a revitalized Beach Boys are two of the responses by American recording artists to the British Invasion.  But that was hardly the only reaction:  American teenagers (mostly white suburban kids) were also invigorated by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and all the rest; and they responded by launching a counter-assault, when seemingly every kid in America wanted to be in a band.  This era is now known as the garage rock era (that was the most available practice space for most of these would-be rock stars, hence the name); this time period also saw the beginnings of the psychedelic rock movement on both sides of the Atlantic.  I didn’t know exactly what I was hearing at the time, but the music by bands like the SeedsBlues Magoosthe Electric Prunes, Question Mark and the Mysteriansthe StandellsCount Five, and Strawberry Alarm Clock (among many other bands) was grabbing me almost immediately.  I don’t know that I even realized immediately how bizarre many of these American band names were, as compared to those of British Invasion bands like the AnimalsFreddie and the Dreamers, and the Dave Clark Five
Thankfully, in 1972 (though if I’m not mistaken, the album was actually not released in the US until 1976), Lenny Kaye – later the guitarist for the seminal Patti Smith Group – helped assemble hit songs by all of these diverse bands plus plenty more into what is now regarded as one of the greatest compilation albums of all times:  Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968.  It remains one of my favorite records, and I have spoken of it several times before in these posts. 
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But that turned out to be just the beginning.  Though many other Nuggets compilation albums would follow that concentrated on the better-known American bands of the garage rock era, it remained for music historian and legendary record collector Greg Shaw to begin to unearth an astonishing wealth of 45’s released by local American bands on tiny labels that almost no one had heard of before.  Beginning in 1978, and under the Pebbles name, Shaw’s AIP label and his alias BFD label put out close to 100 compilation albums.  While the Nuggets bands had the backing of major record labels, a lot of the Pebbles songs sounded like they had actually been recorded in a garage. 
But it wasn’t just garage rock and psychedelic rock either:  The Pebbles, Volume 4 LP and the Pebbles, Volume 4 CD showcased rare surf music, illustrating that there was a lot more to the surf scene than the mellow sounds that were hitting the radio in those days by the likes of the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean; while the Pebbles, Volume 6 LP – subtitled “The Roots of Mod” – included several rare British beat bands.  Greg Shaw later followed up with that album with the now-deleted English Freakbeat Series
Greg Shaw’s Pebbles output also included a vinyl-only series called Highs in the Mid-Sixties – which was nearly as long as the original Pebbles series and focused on particular states and regions – plus a subset of Pebbles called The Continent Lashes Back that put the spotlight on music from continental Europe.  The Netherlands in particular has a rich musical scene that rivals the UK
In the decades since, many hundreds if not thousands of additional garage rock and psychedelic rock compilation albums have been released from the seemingly inexhaustible supply of unknown 45’s, not just from America but from around the world. 
Though punk rock had already begun to take off, many critics argue that Pebbles, even more than Nuggets helped launch the raw sounds that kept the movement going into the 1980’s and beyond.  Besides launching a 4-disk Nuggets Box Set covering the original double-LP and other songs of that period, a second Nuggets box set covering lesser known British and continental European music was also released, called Nuggets II: Original Artyfacts from the British Empire and Beyond, 1964–1969; many of these songs originally appeared on the Pebbles albums.  There was also a third box set – Children of Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the Second Psychedelic Era – 1976-1995 – highlighting the bands (mostly from the 1980’s) that were inspired by the Nuggets and Pebbles music to develop their own sounds.  Perhaps, in response to the Garage Rock Revival, there might be a Grandchildren of Nuggets box set in the future. 
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I was first introduced to the raw 1960’s sounds of Dutch rock when I was fortunate enough to find a copy of a compilation album called Searching in the Wilderness in about 1987 in a fondly remembered basement-level New York record store called Underground Records in the Village.  (There was at least one and maybe two other record stores in that same space over the years).  Though much of the early output from Dutch bands was heavily influenced by Merseybeat sounds almost to the point of aping them, that was most definitely not true of two of the tracks on that album:  “Chunk of Steel”, an early single by Golden Earring; and “For Another Man” by the Motions, which included the future bandleader of Shocking BlueRobbie van Leeuwen.  Wilderness was also my first introduction to other excellent Dutch bands, like the Outsiders (not the American band called the Outsiders that is best known for “Time Won’t Let Me”) and Cuby & the Blizzards
Golden Earring (originally known as the Golden Earrings or the Golden Ear-Rings) formed in 1961 and are still together – yes, you read that right:  before the Rolling Stones formed, and before Ringo Starr joined the Beatles.  The band had numerous hits in their native Netherlands throughout the 1960’s.  The first time I heard Golden Earring was at a party while I was in college (around 1970), where someone was playing their cover of the ByrdsEight Miles High, a song that simply screamed out to be given a side-long extended jam like the one that this band put together. 
Golden Earring later had an international hit song in 1973 with “Radar Love”, one of the great road songs that I still hear regularly on the radio.  In 1982, they had another big hit with Twilight Zone; their fabulous, high-concept video intermingled a spy story that featured a topless model, callous treatment of a dead body, and a brutal injection of some sort of drug by a dancing vixen; along with concert footage and several arty shots.  The video for their follow-up hit in 1984, “When the Lady Smiles” was just as controversial; it featured a sexual attack on a nun that showed black lingerie under her habit.  I probably have a dozen of their albums, and they are all enjoyable. 
Another Dutch band, Focus also had a string of albums released in this country and is fairly well known for their 1971 instrumental hit “Hocus Pocus”. 
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I am pretty sure that I must have heard a track or two by the Dutch progressive rock band Ekseption on college radio back in the day; otherwise, I don’t know how Aram Khachaturian’s “Sabre Dance” would sound so familiar to me.  Their virtuoso bandleader Rick van der Linden was a wizard at combining classical music forms with rock, but that statement alone doesn’t do justice to their music:  Every album was good, and they were also quite different from one another.  The opening track on their self-titled debut album in 1969Ekseption (which also included “Sabre Dance”) – simply called “The 5th” – is based on Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.  This might be the first pop treatment of the symphony, though there have been many others over the years.  One of the Electric Light Orchestra’s earliest hits is a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven” that incorporated some parts of the symphony; and then of course, there is the disco version called “A Fifth of Beethoven” by Walter Murphy.  Unlike the others though – which mainly focused on the “da da da DUM” opening – Ekseption actually incorporated significant portions of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony into a more complete work.  (I had always heard that the opening was based on Morse Code for the letter “V”, standing for “victory” – not to mention the roman numeral V for Fifth – but evidently, the symphony predated the development of the Morse Code). 
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The three Dutch albums in The Continent Lashes Back sub-series within the Pebbles albums put me onto several more, and I found some other real rarities via the Bomp! mailorder store.  I just cleaned up a second 10-inch album among several that I mail-ordered years ago out of an extended seriesBeat Express Series.  I even picked up some “Nederpop” records on my trip to Europe (and not just in Amsterdam), including several by Shocking Blue of “Venus” fame, and a band that I have written about several times previously. 
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As punk rock and new wave rock ran its course, alternative rock started up in the 1980’s; and that also kept the popular music world rocking on into the 1990’s, even as other forms of music began intruding into rock’s hegemony, such as hip hop and country.  MTV had long since come to terms with rap music and hip hop, but their VJ’s were always chagrined when they kept having to report that the Number One album in the country was by Garth Brooks, probably the most successful crossover artist in popular music history. 
I was starting to listen to more country music myself by the late 1970’s; I was happily discovering country’s roots such as the Original Carter Family and Hank Williams Sr., and also a lot of the “outlaw country” crowd like Willie NelsonWaylon Jennings and David Allan Coe.  Many of the earliest alt-country artists also caught my ear (before anyone was even using the term), like Randy TravisLyle Lovettk.d. lang and Hank Williams III; and some were simply country-flavored rock bands such as the Georgia Satellites and the Kentucky Headhunters
One thing that has really impressed me in country music is the recent emergence, finally, of genuine country bands – instead of just a singer or singers backed by musicians – like Lady Antebellum and the Band Perry.  As I remember it, for seemingly ages, the Statler Brothers, and then Alabama kept winning the Grammy for Best Country Duo or Group simply because there really was no one else doing that. 
As what I think of as alternative rock began to run out of gas in the 1990’s, the next movement was sometimes called modern rock (though I hear few references to that term anymore), which featured bands and artists like KornLimp BizkitMarilyn MansonSlipknotPantera, and others.  A lot of these bands created a combustible mixture of heavy metal and rap music, and one in particular I really liked, Rage Against the Machine.  Besides casting the existing heavy metal scene as a bunch of wimps, they giddily sought to overturn every connection to earlier forms of rock music and, for a time at least, appeared to be poised to sweep aside the rock establishment altogether.  The movement seemed to me to rise and fall rather quickly, but frankly, those artists never really spoke to me except on a few stray tracks. 
What I remember most fondly about the 1990’s is the bumper crop of fine female singer-songwriters and rockers:  Joan Osborne, Fiona AppleLisa LoebShawn ColvinTracy Chapman, JewelPaula Cole, and just too many more to name.  There was even a series of three music festivals beginning in 1997 that were spearheaded by Sarah McLachlan, called Lilith Fair.  But the growing feeling that rock music was beginning to get scarce was only enhanced when I picked up the nearly rock-less two-disc CD, Lilith Fair: A Celebration of Women in Music in 1998
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However, that certainly was not true of all of the female musicians in that time period.  Though I was slow to get the details, I was starting to hear about the rumblings of the “riot grrrl” movement, a female offshoot of punk rock; about all I had actually heard in the early days is the 1992 hit “Pretend We’re Dead” by a band called L7 (slang for “square”).  Singer/guitarist Corin Tucker was in Heavens to Betsy, one of many early riot grrrl rock duos.  The fact that only two people could create such a big sound was a revelation and led to a slew of other two-member rock bands in the years to come.  Classically trained pianist Carrie Brownstein (also a vocalist and guitarist) met Tucker in 1992 and was so inspired by her and other early riot grrrl bands like Bikini Kill that she started her own grrrl band, Excuse 17.  What began as a side project between the two of them became a full-fledged band with the addition of drummer Lora MacFarlane; MacFarlane was replaced by the third album with another drummer, Janet Weiss.  The arrival of Sleater-Kinney’s lo-fi–looking first album in 1995Sleater-Kinney (appropriately released on a label called Chainsaw Records) quickly established them as one of the finest feminist punk rock bands of that period.  Each album brought them greater fame and a more widespread fan base; by the beginning of the new millennium, Sleater-Kinney had enough mainstream appeal that Time magazine named them America’s best rock band in a 2001 issue.  Their 2002 album, One Beat is one of my very favorite albums of the 2000’s decade. 
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With all of that as background, the first hint that garage rock might at long last find widespread appeal came with the 1998 release of the first album, The White Stripes by the rock duo the White Stripes.  At first guitarist and vocalist Jack White and drummer Meg White pretended to be brother and sister (they were actually previously married; the members of the new wave band EurythmicsAnnie Lennox and Dave Stewart were also former lovers), causing Rolling Stone magazine to run a tongue-in-cheek cover story on the band:  “The White Stripes: The New Carpenters?”.  
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The White Stripes’ third album, White Blood Cells, featured hit songs like “Fell in Love with a Girl” (the video for this song that used animated Legos is one of the most amazing that I have ever seen) and “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground”.  Besides having a definite retro attitude in his music, Jack White also used vintage microphones, instruments and amplifiers in recording his music.  While there had been a few two-person rock bands over the years – such as House of Freaks, a band from Richmond, Virginia that formed in 1986 – the power trio of guitar, bass and drums is about as small as most rock bands were previously willing to go.  Being able to successfully pull off a rock duo requires an adept drummer; but Meg White, for one, is more than equal to the task. 
Jack White has since formed another successful rock band called the Raconteurs.  He also performed music for the 2003 Civil War-era film Cold Mountain and even had an acting role; for a time, Jack White dated one of his co-stars, Renée Zellweger.  This was a hint of White’s appreciation for classic country music as well:  He master-minded acclaimed comeback albums for two different country legends, Loretta Lynn for her 2004 album Van Lear Rose; and Wanda Jacksonthe “Queen of Rockabilly” in her 2011 release, The Party Ain’t Over.  Jackson has a concert scheduled at the nearby Hollywood Casino in Bay St. Louis next month, and I can’t tell you how excited I am at the prospects of seeing her! 
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I told the story of seeing Queens of the Stone Age with my wife Peggy in my last post; but their third album in 2002Songs for the Deaf is probably when I realized that something was really going on out there in the larger world:  rock music with a modern sound but with garage-rock roots.  The Queens had a rotating line-up of like-minded musicians and grew out an earlier band with similar sensibilities called Kyuss; while they didn’t sell a lot of albums, they were a pioneer of the stoner-rock scene of the 1990’s.  As the Allmusic article (by Eduardo Rivadaviadescribes the band:  “[T]he signature sound [of] Kyuss [combined] the doom heaviness of Black Sabbath, the feedback fuzz of Blue Cheer, and the space rock of Hawkwind, infused with psychedelic flashes, massive grooves, and a surprising sensibility for punk rock, metal, and thrash.”  The connective tissue between the two bands is multi-instrumentalist Josh Homme, who also founded the popular Eagles of Death Metal
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Two other bands came along at about the same time with songs on MTV that I really liked; they even had similar names:  the Vines and the Hives.  At the annual MTV Music Video Awards telecast in 2002, the two bands had back-to-back performances that were simply wonderful.  As it turned out, it was just the one song on the Vines album, Highly Evolved that really had that garage-rock style, but the Hives kept releasing one great album after another.  Also, their live shows have been rated by Spin magazine as the 8th greatest ever.  The Black and White Album above is the only one by the Hives that I actually own, but I am sure looking hard for others. 
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So now we have come full circle:  The garage rock movement that had been churning along below the radar for close to 40 years broke out into the larger world as the Garage Rock Revival for a few years in the early 2000’s.  One of the CD’s that I unwrapped recently was one of those sale-priced Bomp! CD’s that I’d been ordering over the past year or so, because it was on their Alive label.  It was entitled, boringly enough, The Sound of San Francisco; it was a collection from 2003 of songs from brand new bands in the San Francisco Bay Area.  However, the music on The Sound of San Francisco is anything but boring:  one great band after another that started with that raw garage-rock sound, but each working hard in their own style. 
I would view this 2003 album as documenting one of the first wave of bands that were directly influenced by the Garage Rock Revival – it was released in the year after the White StripesFell in Love with a Girl single and the Queens of the Stone Age’s Songs for the Deaf album were released, as well as the mini-battle of the bands between the Hives and the Vines on the MTV Music Video Awards
I have full albums by a couple of the bands on this album, Big Midnight and Boyskout that are both excellent; each is likely to be a future UARB.  Numerous other similar bands have come along in the years to follow; the CD from last month’s Under-Appreciated Rock Band, the Invisible Eyes was released in 2005 and would I think be another of this wave of new bands influenced by the Garage Rock Revival
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But it wasn’t just the little guys; rock started to be seen as cool again in the larger world of popular music.  In 2004the Black Eyed Peas scored their first big hit song with “Let’s Get it Started” that seemed to be about equal parts rock and hip hop, instead of the amalgamation leaning heavily to one side or another.  Rock bands started appearing regularly at country music awards shows.  With rock music pretty much cut out of hit-oriented radio stations, hard rock music became the soundtrack for numerous television ads.  One of the first that I remember was when Royal Caribbean Cruises used as their signature song “Lust for Life” by Iggy Popright after Peggy and I had our honeymoon on one of their ships in late 2003.  I have been hearing one of my favorite Queens of the Stone Age songs backing a TV ad currently (for T-Mobile?)
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The king of all of the new garage-y bands is probably the blues-rock duo the Black Keys (sometimes viewed as a sort of twin of the White Stripes) whose debut album, The Big Come-Up came out in 2002 and is the largest selling album that the Bomp! family of record labels has ever had – Alive Records in this case.  They have released several more albums since on other labels; like Sleater-Kinney, each Black Keys album seems to be better than the one that preceded it and has brought them greater fame and a wider audience.  The Black Keys won three Grammy Awards at the 2011 Grammy Awards from their album Brothers that also includes their hit single “Tighten Up” that made the top of the Alternative Rock Charts.  For the 2013 Grammy Awards next month, they have five nominations derived from their most recent album, El Camino
The Black Keys in fact have become so mainstream that I was astounded to see the band profiled last year on the CBS Sunday Morning show that is hosted by Charles Osgood.  During their interview, the bandmembers mentioned that their music has also been featured in numerous TV ads.  That used to be seen as the ultimate sell-out, but no longer. 
*       *       *
Mick Farren – a founder of two of my all-time favorite bands, the Deviants and the Pink Fairies – wrote the liner notes to The Sound of San Francisco, which are entitled “Remember You Heard it Here First”.  (I’ve talked about him a lot in these posts, so you should see a photo of him; this is from one of his early solo albums, Vampires Stole My Lunch Money).  They started out this way: 
     Everyone knows the old joke.
     Q  What do you call a drummer without a girlfriend? 
     A   Homeless 
Mick Farren was trying to make a point though with this old joke, and it was a poignant one; his liner notes continued:  “Maybe there was a utopian time when musicians could expect to support their survival by playing rock & roll, but I don’t recall so much as meeting anybody who could remember such a golden age.  Even cats with record deals must sometimes fall back on phonesales, breaking and entering, or find themselves doing 24 months for possession with intent to sell; and the girls might go out lap-dancing or dealing blackjack to make ends meet in hard times or moments of self-inflicted disaster.  Such has been the material reality of all but that highly publicized, but tiny one percent of rockers who find themselves elevated to MTV, witless stardom, and access to every vice known to man, woman, and several domestic animals.” 
*       *       *
Actually, I hadn’t heard that old joke, but I knew such a drummer.  A group of kids from my hometown of Winston-Salem, NC formed a rock band called the dB’s; they were unabashedly Beatlesque in a time period (late 1970’s) when that wasn’t fashionable at all, but they were very talented, particularly at songwriting. 
The drummer for the dB’s was and still is Will Rigby, the son of a good friend of my mother’s.  Even though they were in a quasi-successful rock band, my mom told me once that Will never could afford an apartment in New York and was always bumming around from apartment to apartment with his friends up there. 
Eventually they got a record deal; the critics loved them, and they had decent record sales in England, but not much over here.  Then they got another record deal, and then they got yet another record deal – the last time was with R.E.M.’s label I.R.S. Records (which stands for “International Recording Syndicate”, like the band’s name stands for “the decibels”). 
That I.R.S. album, The Sound of Music was a slick pop affair that came out in 1987.  A lot of bands from the Carolinas were doing well nationally, and everyone expected that to be their breakthrough album.  (Original member and ace songwriter Chris Stamey had left the band by then and was trying to establish a solo career).  The above is actually the back cover of the album; that’s Will Rigby on the left of course at the drumset, with Peter Holsapple (songwriter and guitarist), Gene Holder (bass guitar – I remember him from my schooldays also), and new member Jeff Beninato (guitar).  Fame didn’t happen for them though, although Peter Holsapple started playing a lot with R.E.M. for several years after that.  I read recently in Wikipedia that the dB’s have reformed and released a new album in June 2012 called Falling Off the Sky
*       *       * 
I am reminded of comedian Bill Hicks; he was one of several stand-up comedians who were starting to fill up arenas in the 1980’s and 1990’s and were doing so well that many were comparing them with rock stars.  Also, like rock stars, several of them died tragically young, Hicks among them, along with Sam Kinison.  Anyway, I saw a documentary about Bill Hicks not long after his death, and several of his friends and colleagues mentioned that Hicks was the man who told you the truth, however painful that was.  He had a long rant in his act that was on HBO and elsewhere that started out:  “Drugs”.  This was in the wake of Nancy Reagan’s surprisingly successful “Just Say No” campaign that had just about driven even marijuana back into the deep underground.  As an example, in case you’d forgotten, MTV censored the word “joint” in Tom Petty’s harmless 1994 hit song “You Don’t Know How It Feels”; and Warner Bros. Records refused to include the B-side of the single, “Girl on L.S.D.” on the accompanying hit album, Wildflowers.  Bill Hicks told everyone how omnipresent drug use was in our culture, that alcohol was just another drug, that everyone who hated drugs ought to go home and throw out all of their rock records, because that’s where all of that great music had come from, etc., etc. 
*       *       * 
It was sad, really, to read all of this truth via Mick Farren, who has himself delivered a dozen albums full of fantastic music into my collection:  “And every three or four years a new and energetic crop comes out of the garages and into the streets, the serious new meat on those same sidewalks of Hank Williams’ lost highway, earning their tattoos, both physical and meta-physical, until, after heaven only knows how many of these generations, every city on the planet worth a damn; London, New York, Detroit or Tokyo, or, in this case, San Francisco has an awesome talent pool of renegade rock music and rolling musicians discovering that fame is the Crapshoot of the Gods, and maybe the best to be hoped for is a good following around the bars and enough songs recorded to leave a legacy of how it sounded back in the day. . . .  I’ve been on this waterfront too long to handicap any musical fates, dire or divine, that’s for idiot TV talent shows.  What will be will be for all of those assembled on this CD.  Just remember you heard them here first.” 
Mick Farren writes a lot of stuff; he has several science fiction novels to his credit, including a trilogy called The DNA Cowboys.  Along with Greg Shaw’s ex-wife and business partner Suzy ShawMick Farren co-wrote the 2007 book that cements Shaw’s legacy in the rock and roll universe, Bomp! / Saving the World One Record at a Time.  I have seen numerous articles by Farren in the Village Voice and elsewhere.  But I can only recall one other time when Mick Farren wrote liner notes; that was for the comeback album for his old band the Pink Fairies, specifically their 1987 release Kill ’Em and Eat ’Em
And for the most part, that is where my roster of Under-Appreciated Rock Bands and Under-Appreciated Rock Artists has arisen:  from songs haltingly written and gleefully performed and hopefully released and mostly ignored.  By the time you hear me talk about them, the UARA’s and UARB’s have normally long since disappeared or been absorbed into other musical projects or left the music business altogether. 
*       *       * 
I remember eagerly opening a box from a Bomp! mailorder a few years back.  I had spent something over $100, but there were well under 10 albums there, and I was kind of wondering why I had spent so much on these albums that I didn’t know too much about at first glance.  This month’s Under-Appreciated Rock BandTHE SKYWALKERS was a part of that order; and the lack of quantity (though definitely not quality) is one reason that I began aiming more for their sale items than the new albums for awhile. 
I looked up the original listing for the group, and I must say that the description given in the email from my buddies at Bomp was pretty irresistible, even for an album by an unknown band that was priced at $25 (I must have had some jingle in my pocket that day!):  “It’s a rare treat nowadays to hear a band that has totally a style of its own yet showing clear proof of its influences.  The Skywalkers from Utrecht, a duo still in their teens, were discovered by Grey Past Records on MySpace and directly got the opportunity to release this album; and it’s easily by far one of the best retro records ever made in the Netherlands.  Yet it also stands with its legs firmly in the year 2010 with a certain dark lo-fi feel that just extra lights up the power of this record.  File this music under obscure UK Rubble sounds [a Pebbles-like series of albums concentrating on obscure British beat bands] and the special downer garage psych bands that produced all these scary atmospheric nuggets that fill countless of compilations.  The Skywalkers don’t copy, they absorb the influences of the music they love and just make something very personal out of them.  It’s an honour to be standing at the birth of something incredible.” 
This might be a tough album to find I imagine, at least in vinyl; the one that I bought was part of a limited pressing of only 300.  I normally try to talk about bands and artists that are relatively available, but these guys deserve a little highlighting.  Besides, rules are made to be broken, right?  However, I have since read that the initial release of Year One sold out, and a re-release of the album in Spain was expected; as Jacco Gardner put it in an interview:  “We will remaster the recordings with Jean Audier, the sound engineer who worked with groups like Q65the Golden Earrings and the Motions” – heady company indeed in my book. 
The Skywalkers is another rock band that seems to have been influenced by the Garage Rock Revival – or more properly by the entire garage rock scene.  As is a tradition now in this UARB series, they are a relatively new, young band; their debut album, Year One was released in 2010.  They quaintly introduced themselves in an interview by an online magazine called It’s Psychedelic Baby in the following way: 
“Hi, we are Jacco Gardner [keyboards, bass, vocals] and Hugo van de Poel [drums, vocals] from the Skywalkers.  We’re a freakbeat/garage duo from The Netherlands.  We play songs of love, dreams and death on Philicorda Organ and Drums.” 
Jacco and Hugo have known each other since they were 6 years old and started making music together when they were 12.  They learned about the 1960’s music scene through early Pink Floyd albums and the Soft Machine, and no doubt the rich musical heritage in their home country.  Their musical vision was to fuse garage and psychedelic music together, but always with a pop sensibility; as they put it in the interview:  “We like psychedelic music but it has to have a pop character as well.  Think of bands like the Electric Prunes, Love and Strawberry Alarm ClockTomorrow.  Our favorite years in music are 1966 and 1967, where garage and psychedelic music just came together.  Our favourite subgenre is Baroque Pop with artists like Billy NichollsSagittariusthe Millennium and of course the Zombies.”  I would add to that list a rather under-appreciated American band called the Left Banke, who had a lovely hit song in 1967, “Walk Away Renee”. 
The songs by the Skywalkers are a dreamy, psychedelic collection with beautiful harmony vocals – all original songs (with details for a change about which of the two contributed music and/or lyrics) – that are propelled by staccato organ chords and have a nice variety.  Song titles are suitably offbeat for their musical style:  “Song for Cat”, “Treat Her Like Velvet”, and “Skinny Minnie Mandrax”.  And there is a religious-themed song just like last month, “Lord Can You Hear Us?”. 
The charming liner notes are entitled “The Skywalkers ABC”, and it still took me a while to realize that they were in alphabetical order.  It wasn’t just a list of “thank you’s” either; they included some commentary with their influences.  They include a lot of familiar bands and artists (at least to me) – Brian Wilson (“for his amazing ballads”), the Electric Prunes (“they got us to the world on time”), Syd Barrett (“for leading us into the sixties”), the Zombies (“the greatest ever”), Q65 (“and other Dutch freakbeat groups”) – but others that I don’t know at all, like Ola & the Janglers and Jan Breimer.  Their “X” item was “Careful with that X, Eugene!”, a take-off on an early Pink Floyd hit, “Careful with that Axe, Eugene”.  But the list started with Aliens (“what’s taking them so long?”) and also includes the Monkey (“Jacco’s favorite dance move”), the Twist (“Hugo’s favorite dance move”), their photographer Luuk Muller (“for making us look good”), their organ brand Philicorda (“the greatest instrument around”), the Universe (“the greatest place around”), and “You, for buying this record”. 
*       *       *
Since this album came out, Jacco Gardner has been busy.  He has released several more singles and has a lot of YouTube videos in a somewhat different direction than his work with the Skywalkers.  The online Quip magazine has this description:  “His echo-washed sound recalls the psychedelic and lushly orchestral vibe of the Beatles’ Revolver or Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd, interspersed with the peppy, sardonic jabs of more modern fare like the Shins.” 
*       *       *
His debut album, Cabinet of Curiosities is set for release in February 2013 on Trouble in Mind Records.  Jacco Gardner anticipates some North American dates when he starts his European tour later this year. 
As with most of the modern artists that I have talked about, both the Skywalkers – www.facebook.com/FreakbeatIsBack?fref=ts – and Jacco Gardner individually – www.facebook.com/jaccogardnermusic?fref=ts – have Facebook pages.    
*       *       * 
Flashback:  The Under-Appreciated Rock Band of the Month for January 2011 – HACIENDA 
Since this post, Hacienda released a third album in 2012Shakedown.   Dan Auerbach has been involved with their albums from the beginning, producing both of their first two releases, Loud is the Night and Big Red and Barbacoa.   This time out, Auerbach also co-writes the songs with the bandmembers.   I haven’t picked up their third album yet; but Allmusic complains that this time, Dan Auerbach is beginning to overshadow the band’s own personality with that of his band, the Black Keys.
Several YouTube videos by Hacienda are available.  Here is a music video for the opening track on their first album, Loud is the Night, “She’s Got a Hold on Me that is an ideal introduction to their style:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEHVMiGEh4w .  This video is of a song from their second album, Younger Dayswww.youtube.com/watch?v=mo09-bn8TjY .  And here is a video of a song from their new album called Savage”:  www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=nB0-1IjSlxY&feature=fvwp . 
*       *       * 
Photo Gallery:  The Under-Appreciated Rock Artist of the Month for January 2010 – WENDY WALDMAN 
As I have said many times before, Wendy Waldman – only the second entry in this series that is now approaching a total of 40 – is the biggest surprise so far as to someone who has yet to get an article in Wikipedia.  If you type her name into Wikipedia, you are directed to Bryndle; they are a band composed of several well known LA musicians (at least by now) who were together in the late 1960’s but didn’t actually release an album until 1995.  By then, Wendy Waldman had already released 7 solo albums. 
Here are the four albums of hers that I have so far – Wendy WaldmanGypsy SymphonyThe Main Refrain, and Strange Company – and they sure won’t be the last.  Maybe that’s enough of a photo gallery for now: 
* * *
The Honor Roll of the Under Appreciated Rock Bands and Artists follows, in date order, including a link to the original Facebook posts and the theme of the article.
Dec 2009BEAST; Lot to Learn
Jan 2010WENDY WALDMAN; Los Angeles Singer-Songwriters
Feb 2010 CYRUS ERIE; Cleveland
Mar 2010BANG; Record Collecting I
Apr 2010THE BREAKAWAYS; Power Pop
May 2010THE NOT QUITE; Katrina Clean-Up
Jun 2010WATERLILLIES; Electronica
Jul 2010THE EYES; Los Angeles Punk Rock
Aug 2010QUEEN ANNE’S LACE; Psychedelic Pop
Sep 2010THE STILLROVEN; Minnesota
Oct 2010THE PILTDOWN MEN; Record Collecting II
Nov 2010SLOVENLY; Slovenly Peter
Dec 2010THE POPPEES; New York Punk/New Wave
Jan 2011HACIENDA; Latinos in Rock
Feb 2011THE WANDERERS; Punk Rock (1970’s/1980’s)
Mar 2011INDEX; Psychedelic Rock (1960’s)
Apr 2011BOHEMIAN VENDETTA; Punk Rock (1960’s)
May 2011THE LONESOME DRIFTER; Rockabilly
Jun 2011THE UNKNOWNS; Disabled Musicians
Jul 2011THE RIP CHORDS; Surf Rock I
Aug 2011ANDY COLQUHOUN; Side Men
Sep 2011ULTRA; Texas
Oct 2011JIM SULLIVAN; Mystery
Nov 2011THE UGLY; Punk Rock (1970’s)
Dec 2011THE MAGICIANS; Garage Rock (1960’s)
Jan 2012RON FRANKLIN; Why Celebrate Under Appreciated?
Feb 2012JA JA JA; German New Wave
Mar 2012STRATAVARIOUS; Disco Music
Apr 2012LINDA PIERRE KING; Record Collecting III
May 2012TINA AND THE TOTAL BABES; One Hit Wonders
Jun 2012WILD BLUE; Band Names I
Jul 2012DEAD HIPPIE; Band Names II
Aug 2012PHIL AND THE FRANTICS; Wikipedia I
Sep 2012CODE BLUE; Hidden History
Oct 2012TRILLION; Wikipedia II
Nov 2012THOMAS ANDERSON; Martin Winfree’s Record Buying Guide
Dec 2012THE INVISIBLE EYES; Record Collecting IV
Jan 2013THE SKYWALKERS; Garage Rock Revival
Mar 2013THE GILES BROTHERS; Novelty Songs
Apr 2013LES SINNERS; Universal Language
May 2013HOLLIS BROWN; Greg Shaw / Bob Dylan
Jun 2013 (I) – FUR (Part One); What Might Have Been I
Jun 2013 (II) – FUR (Part Two); What Might Have Been II
Jul 2013THE KLUBS; Record Collecting V
Aug 2013SILVERBIRD; Native Americans in Rock
Sep 2013BLAIR 1523; Wikipedia III
Oct 2013MUSIC EMPORIUM; Women in Rock I
Nov 2013CHIMERA; Women in Rock II
Dec 2013LES HELL ON HEELS; Women in Rock III
Jan 2014BOYSKOUT; (Lesbian) Women in Rock IV
Feb 2014LIQUID FAERIES; Women in Rock V
Mar 2014 (I) – THE SONS OF FRED (Part 1); Tribute to Mick Farren
Mar 2014 (II) – THE SONS OF FRED (Part 2); Tribute to Mick Farren
Apr 2014HOMER; Creating New Bands out of Old Ones
May 2014THE SOUL AGENTS; The Cream Family Tree
Jun 2014THE RICHMOND SLUTS and BIG MIDNIGHT; Band Names (Changes) III
Jul 2014MIKKI; Rock and Religion I (Early CCM Music)
Aug 2014THE HOLY GHOST RECEPTION COMMITTEE #9; Rock and Religion II (Bob Dylan)
Sep 2014NICK FREUND; Rock and Religion III (The Beatles)
Oct 2014MOTOCHRIST; Rock and Religion IV
Dec 2014THE SILENCERS; Surf Rock II
Jan 2015 (I) – THE CRAWDADDYS (Part 1); Tribute to Kim Fowley
Jan 2015 (II) – THE CRAWDADDYS (Part 2); Tribute to Kim Fowley
Feb 2015BRIAN OLIVE; Songwriting I (Country Music)
Mar 2015PHIL GAMMAGE; Songwriting II (Woody Guthrie/Bob Dylan)
Apr 2015 (I) – BLACK RUSSIAN (Part 1); Songwriting III (Partnerships)
Apr 2015 (II) – BLACK RUSSIAN (Part 2); Songwriting III (Partnerships)
May 2015MAL RYDER and THE PRIMITIVES; Songwriting IV (Rolling Stones)
Jun 2015HAYMARKET SQUARE; Songwriting V (Beatles)
Jul 2015THE HUMAN ZOO; Songwriting VI (Psychedelic Rock)
Aug 2015CRYSTAL MANSIONMartin Winfree’s Record Cleaning Guide
Dec 2015AMANDA JONES; So Many Rock Bands
Mar 2016THE LOVEMASTERS; Fun Rock Music
Jun 2016THE GYNECOLOGISTS; Offensive Rock Music Lyrics
Sep 2016LIGHTNING STRIKE; Rap and Hip Hop
Dec 2016THE IGUANAS; Iggy and the Stooges; Proto-Punk Rock
Mar 2017THE LAZY COWGIRLS; Iggy and the Stooges; First Wave Punk Rock
Jun 2017THE LOONS; Punk Revival and Other New Bands
Sep 2017THE TELL-TALE HEARTS; Bootleg Albums
Dec 2017SS-20; The Iguana Chronicles
(Year 10 Review)
Last edited: April 12, 2021