Sunday, October 30, 2016

SOUND EFFECTS of a generation


Mousers, I began introducing this book on my other site - but, since we have so many visitors to the Mouse House with every update, I decided to continue it here.
Besides, Uncle Lloyd was so interested in the makin's of the music, that it oughtta be in tribute to him, anyway.
That being said, stay tuned here every few days for the continuing story of rock's SOUND EFFECTS:


INTRODUCTION

By 1965, rock and roll was criticized as being "white bread music" - tasteless, a little bland and mostly for white audiences.

"White bread music"?

If you want to stick with the analogy, this book will prove that our music was more like whole wheat - more substance, better ingredients (a mix of brown and white ones) and also more filling. It also stayed fresh longer!

While I intended Sound Effects to be a serious look at rock history, along the way it also turned into a musical archaeological dig – during the research, I uncovered some new and surprising facts about the creation of the music. Most you’ll see here, and in the following posts, for the first time, but these tidbits have all been checked and re-checked for authenticity.

No one can dispute that the evolution of rock and roll caused a complete change in the way we look at music. But it did more – much more – than that. In fact, it was the music's fan base that contributed to lowering of the voting age from 21 to 18 and breaking down racial barriers. It was even partly responsible for the end of a devastating war in Southeast Asia.
But the whole shebang started over seventy years before The Beatles first set foot on American soil!

And that’s where the story begins …

Rock and Roll didn't start in the 1950's – or even in the 20th Century!

Actually, it was a lot earlier than that. You see, rock's first seeds were planted some sixty years earlier, in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Ships would rock and sway during fierce storms, and sailors would have to combat panic as they secured their cargo. As you can imagine, this made for a hot topic whenever they’d write home.
Now, among the sailors were African-American recruits who would tell their families about it in a particularly creative way. The words they most often used were that the ships were "rocking and rolling"!
When their tours of duty were over, they would go back home to their Spirit-filled churches, where congregations would sway and move to the music of the choirs. This surprised the sailors, who saw the resemblance to their ships' turbulence: they said they were ...“rocking and rolling”!
 Before long, it became a catchphrase to describe the music of spiritual and Pentecostal services.
So the basics that have followed the growth of the rock beat for over a century were established in those little churches of 120+ years ago: Movement, inspired by the lively vocal and instrumental music, made the congregations do just as it did future audiences: rock and roll!!

The first vocal recording was made before the Civil War!

Surprisingly, the first recording of a human voice occurred in France on April 9, 1860. A few words from the folk song “Au Clair de la Lune" were sung into what was called a “phonautograph". It engraved sound waves onto a sheet of paper that was blackened by the smoke of an oil lamp. Seventeen years later, inventor Thomas Edison created the phonograph cylinder, a tube-like recording that could be played on a “graphophone”.

Here's what the very first recording sounded like:


More to come in a few days (including the first electronic instrument - all 200 TONS of it!), so ...

Keep your eyes on the skies, your feet on the ground, your heart with the music ...
and I'll see ya on the flip side.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Not Exactly HITS, But Close ...

Got a question:  Have you ever run across an old rock-n-roll ditty, so bad that, whenever you'd put it on the turntable, the stylus left the record of its own accord? Okay, then ... consider this a request test:

What's the worst rock song that you've ever heard?

To get you started, here are a few of my all-time non-faves: (EDITOR'S NOTE:  This does not reflect on the performers themselves.  Certainly, they were nice people - but their choice of material wasn't the greatest here)

 IT'S NICE TO BE ALIVE by Kip and Ken (the "B" side of the Righteous Brothers' soundalike, Trouble With A Woman). Geez ... it just sounded goofy: "The way you look, the way you smell-mell-mell/ the way you make me feel so well-well-well ..." It was like our parents wrote it to get back at us for listenin' to the good stuff ...

DECK OF CARDS by Wink Martindale. Now, Wink's a great guy and fantastic announcer, but there are some who say he had no business being in the recording studio for this one! Noted by many polls as being "the worst rock record of all time."

TURKEY TROT by Ian and the Zodiacs. This fab Liverpool group, who gave the world Livin', Lovin' Wreck, a cool version of Gershwin's It Ain't Necessarily So and was once touted as the only British band that could've given The Beatles a run for their money, really screwed up with this old rag. The bridge was "Shoo, shoo, gobble-gobble-diddley". Sheesh ... how long did it take to write that filler?

SOMEBODY'S BEEN MESSIN' (WITH MY THING) by The Isley Brothers. A song that was never heard on mainstream radio (though they were true icons of rhythm-and-blues), it had lyrics that were a little ... uh, suggestive, to put it mildly. They were simple, a bit redundant ... but made a lot of teen boys think about ... welllllllll, you knowwwwwwww ...  (soul legend Maxine Brown covered this, and the flip side of her 45 was the instrumental backing to the song - which, I'll admit, was totally solid!)

DOWNTOWN by Mrs. Elva Miller. Though she was considered a "novelty" act (according to author Amy Wallace, her singing voice was compared to "roaches scurrying across a trash can lid."), this song actually made it into the Top 100! Still, she should've been "Nearer, My God, To Thee" and "Farther Away from Rock Music than ever". Nonetheless, she sang for US servicemen in Vietnam, performed at the Hollywood Bowl and guest starred on numerous television shows during her career.

Any others out there? I'm lookin' for "tunes" between the years of 1956 and 1969, mostly. Give me a shout-out if you've got one to get outta your head ... and I'll print 'em here.



THIS WAS WRITTEN before the age of rap and techno hit us.  Considering today's music (or an unreasonable facsimile thereof), we now have a vast selection of songs that make ya shake your heads, block your ears and scream "TURN IT OFF!!!!"







Monday, October 24, 2016

The Greatest Teen Show



Beyond any/all doubt, Uncle Lloyd's show was the greatest of its kind on terra firma (ie, "earth".  Look out your window for an example ...)
Man, when I knew that program was coming on, I'd sneak into the bedroom (where my folks had a second -- much smaller -- TV) about twenty minutes ahead-of-time just so I could "lay claim" to the set (we had a rule in the Hinson household: Whoever got to the TV set first got to choose the program! And, with two brothers, there was a constant battle.) Couldn't've cared less about the dancing, as such ... I had two left feet, anyway, and no dancing partner ... but that little guy with the suit that ran the show was a total nut, and he made that show lively and fun to watch!

His interaction with the kids was amazing ... and a great influence on my own desire to be behind a mic someday ...
but it was Lloyd's banter with the acts that was the real kick! When he interviewed the Knickerbockers, danced with the Godfather of Soul, or chatted with Bill and Bobby (the Righteous Brothers), I saw something remarkable:  Unlike so many other interviewers, Lloyd could get past any shell that said "STAR" and brought out that part that said "...ALSO A HUMAN BEING LIKE ANYBODY ELSE!"

To me, the most hilarious segment was when he grabbed a guitar and, with the stage darkened and just a spotlight on him, began to lip-synch to Dylan's Desolation Row (the song, itself, is about eleven minutes and change). He had the plaintive, faraway look of a folk singer at Cafe Wha?, and was doing a good job.

Then they cut for commercials.

Coming back, there was Lloyd ... still "singing," but with the studio "empty", the random newspaper blowing past him as though he'd been left, abandoned, to finish the ultra-long (at that time) tune. Having just listened to the song again on the "Highway 61 Revisited" LP, I laughed so hard that my sides hurt for a good 24 hours afterward ...

Then, there were the Byrds ... the live performance. It certainly made me "feel a whole lot better" about what my folks called the "frammin' away" I did on the Sears Silvertone. Though they'd bucked the set's system, the fivesome gave me the confidence to hit the stage myself ...

It was a tragic day when I tuned in just to learn that Lloyd's show was no longer on the schedule ... but, somehow, I knew that, whatever The Man did, he'd be rockin' while he was doin' it!

I know for a fact that, though Lloyd's been away from us for awhile, the magic that he spun here on earth has influenced countless thousands with the pure spirit of what life itself was all about ... and that will make him "number-one-with-a-bullet" on this writer's Top 40 List for years to come.

Rock on, my friend!!

TUNING UP

Just about everyone who's played an electric guitar knows that, occasionally, it'll get out of tune - the most embarrassing time is when you're onstage and heading into a solo.  You have a choice of providing some kind of "quick fix" or wincing as you play, stretching the string to fit the rest of the chord.
But if you need to know how to tune an electric guitar in a flash, just click the link you passed a second ago. At the push of a button, you'll be able to play in perfect pitch - and give the audience the sound it deserves while you're basking in the satisfaction of a perfectly-tuned guitar.
So, if you're a musician, what are you waiting for?  Check out the site that will put your worries and on-stage jitters to rest - and order your AT-200 today!

Breaking News ...

Now, most of you know that it's not my bag to report the news on this little blog of ours. But even an old Relic has his opinion on things that go "bump" in the night, so we're gonna give it a quick shot here ...

but with a twist!
(Btw, speakin' of "twists":  Remember the old dance by the same name?  Today, they have some kind of doohickey on the market that you have to stand on and "twist" to make it work.

Anyway - before Chubby Checker popularized it, the dance was promoted by the song's writer, Hank Ballard, after watching his band's members grinding out cigarette butts with their shoes!

Hey ... he put two and two together and figured "This would make a nifty dance!")
Thus, you had the song ... and the craziness that followed.

ON TO BUSINESS:

Election selections:  This year, we have a couple of high-strung names running for the top office here in America.  And, in one of the craziest moves we've heard in forever, some celebs are saying that if a certain candidate wins (not gonna call names here, but it's a man ...), they'll move to Canada.

To paraphrase a quote from Batman (Adam West variety): Poor, deluded children!

Look ... it doesn't matter whether Trump, Clinton, Johnson or Vermin Supreme won the election, it should never be a reason for people to give up their citizenship. I mean, this is the land that's provided them the freedom, peace, dignity, affordability and opportunity (in some cases, even fortune and/or fame) that 100% of people want.
Besides, running away from what you perceive to be a problem never, ever solves it!  And you sure as the dickens can't solve it on someone else's turf ...

The Matter of Life:  Man, I've heard the slogans until they've come out my not-so-little ears: (FILL-IN-THE-BLANK) LIVES MATTER!

To paraphrase a quote from Homer Simpson: D-UH!

That statement (no matter which group, race, creed, color or musical taste uses it) is as obvious as saying "rain is wet" or "it's dark at midnight."
Mind if I give just a little bit of advice on this one??  Thanks:

If you believe in that "Such-and-so Lives Matter" movement, then show it:
SHOW SOME RESPECT FOR EACH OTHER!
STOP KILLING THOSE OF YOUR OWN, NO MATTER WHAT YOUR COLOR OR BELIEF!
TALK IT OUT, RATHER THAN FIGHT IT OUT!!
BE CONSTRUCTIVE, NOT DESTRUCTIVE!!


It goes back to what we talked about in the first section of this post:  We're all Americans, for cryin' out loud!!   And it's a team effort that keeps us together;

So let's make the best of it, okay?

Stay tuned ...



Sunday, October 23, 2016

A,D,E,C,F,G



AIN'T NOTHIN' BUT THE BLUES  

Awhile back, I had the privilege of getting a post response from an old friend of mine who reminded me that Rock N Roll really started with the blues.

And he’s 100% right!! Here ... let me take a second to tie it in with what Matt said:

From the Mississippi Delta to the streets of Chi-Town (Chicago), the hard, mournful chords of a plain “box” (acoustic) guitar served as a backdrop to the plaintive, soulful wails of streetcorner blues artists. Their songs would echo the sadness, sweat, strain — and sometimes tragicomedy — of a hard-workin’ life.
After the Second World War, the euphoria we felt gave birth to a new, more upbeat style called "jump blues".  That, Mousers, was the direct ancestor of our genre.

A few decades ago, I had a friend who played with legendary bluesman Big Bill Broonzy, and asked him what the basic blues chords were.

He looked at me like “I don’t believe you just asked that!” then burst out in a booming laugh.

“Chuck, there ain’t no “basic chords” in the blues, man!” He picked up an old Kay guitar he was using and continued,
“Look a-here … you feel kinda good, ya might do a little sweet stuff, like this!” And he played some soft, almost angelic chords.

“But,” Sammy continued, “let’s us say yer wife done left ya for some UHHH-gly man. Whatcha gonna do?” He immediately hit the chords like he was gonna break ‘em! A “G”, an “A”, a “C” …

Then he put the guitar down, pulled out a toothpick to suck on, and said, “If they’s any ‘chords’ you could call ‘blues’, jus’ stick with them ‘big three’. Yep … ‘A, D, E’ or … ‘C, F an’ G’. Ever’thang starts from there!“

Now, I know this is sorta getting away from our regular posts, but Matt’s comment triggered this memory. Sammy died shortly after I talked with him that afternoon, but he knew the blues like “maple” knows “syrup”.
And it was just as smooth …

GOING ELECTRIC

If you dig the rockin' bands of today, you'll know they have a stronger, crisper guitar-based sound than many of their predecessors had.  For that, you can thank not just the guitarists themselves but, for many,  guitars of the washburn x series . The "green anarchy", for example, has two humbucker pickups that provide clean tone and solid distortion, dual tone and volume controls, chrome die-cast tuners - and all in a very snazzy body emblazoned with the famous "A" (for "anarchy") symbol.,
Click on the link I gave you and check this beauty out for yourself!  Oh ... and remember: Christmas is coming up, and this would make a totally awesome gift for the rocker in your family!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

REMEMBERING UNCLE LLOYD ...


Sort of a sad day here at the Mouse House ...

You see, it was eight years ago today that we lost our fearless leader and Mouse Extraordinaire, Lloyd Thaxton.  But this particular post isn't meant to mourn his passing but to celebrate the life of a man who meant so much to so many - and, through his work and humor, touched the life of every person who knew or viewed him.
To say that Uncle LL was a friend was an understatement - and I'm speaking, not just for myself, but for millions around this nation who tuned in to his terrific teen show (The Lloyd Thaxton Show), 
or his dynamic consumer-conscious Fight Back! (with David Horowitz)
or his vignettes on the Today Show 
or read his book (co-written by John Alston) Stuff Happens (and then you fix it)!
or heard him speak at his many engagements
or got to know this Pied Piper of Rock personally.

LL had an appreciation for his fans that most media personalities don't.  He relished the fact that they were the ones who "brought him to the dance", so to speak.  This Prancing Powerhouse shared so much with them through his blog (which his adoring wife, Barbara, has graciously decided to keep online in his memory), lloydthaxton.blogspot.com which not only gives everyone a look inside the man himself but a glimpse or two inside the media industry.  He shares some hilarious memories with the inimitable Thaxton style that viewers came to know through his appearances on and offscreen.

Why did he write a blog? He sent me the following explanation (the words are his; the formatting is mine):


So, after you read this, everybody pour a glass of your favorite drink; then, as a toast to this Rin-Tin-Tin of Rock ... the Pied Piper of Mirth and Merriment ... the Hungry Heart that spread Hope ...
Lloyd Eugene Thaxton ...
and, as your glasses are raised to the heavens, look up and yell ....

"SOOOOO WHAT????" 

I just know that Lloyd will be watching from the heavens, with that sweet, wonderful smile of his ....

(heck ... he'll be grinnin' like a possum, people!!!!)

Stay tuned ...