What is now referred to as ‘Classic Rock’ was just plain ole R&R when I was growing up, so while the music is now ‘classic’, me…not so much. In part thanks to baby boomer parents like myself who exposed their children to the songs, 1970’s and 80’s Rock is alive and well. What has really kept it alive though (apart from demographics) is the music itself, a lot of really talented artists making great tunes. Everyone I think has some songs from their youth that hold a lot of meaning, but few era’s of music have the staying power these bands produced.
So a generation has packed up and carried this music, spreading it as we go. And I mean that literally, back then between milk crates full of albums, a stereo receiver, tape deck, turntable and speakers this took up half the living room and most of my net worth!
Today I can fit the equivalent of 800 albums on my phone and play it on a wireless speaker the size of a sausage bun.
While the somewhat informal definition of ‘Classic Rock’ tends to include much of the ’80’s which leaned to even more ‘album focused’ projects the heart I think is still in ’70’s rock and hard rock bands. There is a certain sameness in the music, some may call it formulaic even, here are some tunes most of you know and if you are too young to remember these when they came out, you’ve still likely heard them a few times. What some may not have heard are the cover versions of these classics.
“Begin at the beginning” to quote Lewis Carroll from “Alice and Wonderland”.
Although the genesis of the Rolling Stones is from the 60’s they set the standard for Hard Rock bands to come and pulled off some great songs themselves in the 70’s.
The album “Sticky Fingers” is my first real memory of the Rolling Stones music with songs such as “Brown Sugar“, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (1971) Covered for years now live, by a band I seemed to have largely overlooked until my friend (I can name that song in three notes) or as most people know him as ‘Kevin’ played me a bunch of great covers they’ve produced, Gov’t Mule. This song has been covered in total over 40 times.
“Wild Horses” written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards is just such a great song. While first recorded by the Stones (Dec. 1969) it was held back for Sticky Fingers (1971) which made the first release this one; from Keith’s buddy (Gram Parsons, and he is a blog topic on his own) and his band ‘The Flying Burrito Brothers‘ (May 1970). A great live cover Lucinda Williams & Elvis Costello (2001).
From what I’ve researched apparently this music is white male dominated (when you look at the bands that’s pretty obvious), this same cohort are the main consumers as well (and evidently a field day for sociologists). That said, this music still holds up with countless fantastic tunes.
Led Zeppelin had several great songs throughout the ’70’s such as the epic “Stairway to Heaven” written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. Here is a notable cover (one of over 120) from a German Guitarist who grew up in Karlsruhe; he spent time as a teenager touring Canada, Boris Bjorn Bagger along with vocalist ‘Siiri’ and the International Acoustic Band (1997). I will jump ahead to the last single before they broke-up “Fool in the Rain” (1979) written by John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, and happens to be my wife’s favorite song! (for someone who claims not to care about music that much she picked a good one). “Fool in the Rain” by Rick Wakeman, Michael White, Billy Sherwood, Vinnie Colaiuta from The Ultimate Tribute to Led Zeppelin (2008).
I can’t talk about 1970’s rock without mentioning Pink Floyd. Another band with a good start in the 1960’s, they really hit their stride with the album ‘Dark Side of the Moon’. Falling into the Prog (Progressive) Rock and Psychedelic Rock categories this band produced a masterpiece concept album. I freely admit I’m not a huge fan but it’s hard not to like songs such as “Money” written by Roger Waters. Syd Barrett a founding member of the band came up with the name from an album he had by ‘Blind Boy Fuller’ a Carolina bluesman and influential guitarist. Pinkney “Pink” Anderson and Floyd Council, fellow Carolinian blues artists were listed in the liner notes as playing on the album. I somehow doubt Barrett even knew who they were but they live on in the band’s name.
Covered over 70 times this a great version from Velvet Revolver (2004).
A formative time for me and my buddies was listening to music at the irregular but not infrequent parties in David’s parents garage. I recall helping set up the chairs (sorry David I don’t remember if I ponied up for the snacks) in what was a pretty nice garage and it was always immaculate (some things never change). Here is a typical playlist from a 1977 Saturday night, minus the disco and the mushy songs.
The Eagles, “Hotel California” written by Don Felder, Glenn Frey and Don Henley. Here is a great cover from the Italian group ‘Nashville Acoustic Trio‘ from 2006.
Fleetwood Mac, “Go Your Own Way’” written by Lindsey Buckingham. Cover from the Cranberries (1998).
Jackson Browne “Running on Empty” written by Jackson Browne, cover from Bob Schneider (2014).
Boston “More than a Feeling” written by Tom Scholz, cover from Ingram Hill (2005)
Boz Scaggs “Lido Shuffle” written by David Paich and Boz Scaggs. Australian singer Carl Riseley.
Foreigner, “Feels Like the First Time“, written by Mick Jones.
Atlanta Rhythm Section, “So Into You” written by Buddy Buie, Dean Daughtry and Robert Nix
Supertramp, “Give a Little Bit” written by Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson.
Elvis Costello “Watching the Detectives” written by Elvis Costello. Cover from Duran Duran (1995)
And just in case you thought we were a bunch of Top 40 types-not! Try this one.
Dave Edmunds “I Knew the Bride” written by Nick Lowe, Edmunds first recorded this in 1977 and later recorded with Nick Lowe solo and (Rockpile) “I Knew the Bride“.
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