Thursday, December 5, 2019

Shitvana And The Decline Of Western Civilization-I

Let the shit fly;))) Yes, I am going there and I know some people will be unhappy. But I have to do it. So let's recall this: 
Zack hits the nail in the coffin of the 1990-2000s so called grange (or alternative rock) music and he has a full right to do so because Zack became a worthy substitute for untimely departed great Randy Rhoads--a virtuoso and a scholar of a guitar. Here is Zack playing this incredible solo which floored so many of us in 1980 when Randy played it at Ozzy's first album Blizzard of Oz. Zack's pointing to heavens in remembrance of Randy at 2:05 is a class act. Zack delivers it live with precision and passion which could have been born only out of an absolute mastery of an instrument and music. 

So, let's go back to 1960s and to the origins of rock-music. I will not concentrate here on the social origins of this music revolution but it was youth's mutiny against constrictive social norms of a time, later aggravated by Vietnam War. Important founding idea behind rock music was that just anyone could learn to play instrument (more-or-less) write some songs, record them and become famous. Just like The Beatles or The Animals did ion 1960s. As Tom Petty sang in "Into The Great Wide Open":
Eddie waited til he finished high school
He went to Hollywood, got a tattoo
He met a girl out there with a tattoo too
The future was wide open

They moved into a place they both could afford
He found a night club he could work at the door
She had a guitar and she taught him some chords
The sky was the limit

Into the great wide open
Under them skies of blue
Out in the great wide open
A rebel without a clue

The papers said Ed always played from the heart
He got an agent and a roadie named Bart
They made a record and it went in the chart
The sky was the limit

His leather jacket had chains that would jingle
They both met movie stars, partied and mingled
Their A&R man said, "I don't hear a single."
The future was wide open    
So, that was the idea, as Brian May said some years ago about early days of Queen:"We just wanted to sell some records, for people to listen". Money, fame and status which came with it were great bonuses. Early on the music was simple, but it was really good. Anyone anywhere in the world who ever touched guitar knew those chords. In fact, it was essentially an ABC for anyone who wanted to play rock-music in 1960s and 1970s. 

Any school band in USSR in 1960s and and in 1970s learned how to play together trying to play this masterpiece from 1964. Funny detail, one of my classmates in school in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in 1970s actually looked like Eric Burdon. House of Rising Sun was easy to play, but it was a timeless piece of music from the get go. It was good on its own and it was played in every freaking place where guitar was played by youth. People were, quoting Tom Petty, learning "some chords". But things got for Rock-music really complicated really fast, especially after release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Rock-music was going there even before that but suddenly all this rock's mutiny and histrionics faded and Rock announce itself what it was from the inception--music first and foremost, and the "message" only secondly. Suddenly, to play rock-music became really hard and required not just "learning some chords", but mastery of instruments and of music as theory at least in its basic form. 

It was one thing to play House of Rising Sun at school dances, totally another was playing this: 

Suddenly to know "some chords"was not enough--one HAD to be a professional of the highest level to even have a chance to satisfy growing incredibly sophisticated tastes of public. The rock-music entered its Golden Age of titans--1970s. As late great John Lord stated once of Deep Purple:"We are as valid as anything by Beethoven." They ARE. As are Yes, King Crimson or Rainbow. Lord is absolutely correct stating this: to listen to Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Yes or Uriah Heep was a life-changing experience because one was constantly subjected not only to a sometimes ground-breaking music but to a musical virtuosity which, inevitably led to a creation of a body of rock-music which was so damn good, that, inevitably, rock-music became what initially it was trying to deny--respectable. It also spawned some incredible genres of jazz-rock (fusion), a vast field of progressive and art rock, hard'n'heavy and eventually heavy music, blues-rock etc. And in all of those genres to get to the top one had to be not just good, but damn good at playing and singing. Music was increasingly becoming complex and fused, with even mighty Zeppelin sometimes going almost progressive (Achilles Last Stand, anyone). It was inevitable progression, because the better you are at something, the more you want to express yourself in a variety of creative ways--because you have tools for that. We have to thank 1970-s rock, which also laid foundation for 1980s still being able to defend effectively really good and often beautiful music. Now comes this key forensic question: I can name hundreds upon hundreds of the top notch and even genius virtuosos musicians who emerged from the rock scene of 1960 through 1980s. Do you know where I am going with that? And genius Penelope Spheeris thought that she saw The Decline of Western Civilization II as the end of it. Boy, was she wrong...

To Be Continued....

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