Goodbye Blue Sky

Hello!

After Nuno‘s last post in this blog, and in the aftermath of the last few months of low posting frequency and lack of will to post, I am too putting away my blogging pen for the time being. This 7-friend project was really fun while it lasted, but now that we as a group lost the time to post because of our jobs, studies, and our lives in general, the fun is mostly gone. Maybe we’ll be back in the future, maybe not. For now, the almost 5500 views we’ve had from more than 80 countries and the 175 posts we’ve made sharing our views on music leave us with a sense of a job well done 🙂

In my last post I’ll show you an nice cover of an amazing Pink Floyd song by a 12-year-old Korean boy with a great talent. Goodbye Blue Sky!

Farewell!

Lysergic Acid Diethylamide: a psychedelic journey

Hi again!

You might have recognized the initials of this post’s title. If you didn’t, look again. Yes, LSD! Now it has almost completely vanished, but in the mid-60’s and 70’s it was a very popular drug, which helped create the whole psychedelic movement. This, as most influential cultures, led to the rise of new art styles, specifically new music genres. Today, I’m going to lead you in a journey through psychedelic rock, a genre which intended to replicate the hallucinogenic, mind-altering effects of the drugs, and most times succeeded! All on board? Let’s set sail to the 60’s, where bands like The Byrds, the Yardbirds or Cream were striving to success with songs like Eight Miles High, The train kept a-rollin’ / Still I’m sad or Sunshine of Your Love.

Most of these bands played extended jams live. A good example is the song on the left, eight miles high, completely transfigurated into this. These 3 bands were of paramount importance to the development of rock music, with three of the best guitarists ever playing there: Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck on the Yardbirds and Eric Clapton on both the Yardbirds and Cream. David Crosby, later of Crosby, Stills and Nash fame, came out of the Byrds.

The Beatles and Pink Floyd also had their psychedelic era, with songs like Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Astronomy Domine (with Syd Barret) or Echoes (with David Gilmour). Floyd were also one of the first Space Rock bands, as psychedelia is very connected with that genre.

(Note to fellow high-schoolers: remember being on the Colosseum on the second song?)
As you probably understood by now, psychedelic rock was all about noisy guitars, full of feedback, wahwahs and fuzzboxes, prominent organs and sometimes strange instrumentation or sounds. Sometimes repeating, even mono-manic sounding riffs were spread throughout whole albums, or very big songs, such as Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, allegedly written while drunk and high – yes, they meant In the garden of eden, but were too high to pronounce it right 😛 – I’ll leave you here a shortened version of the 18min song:

Other good examples of psychedelia are Atomic Rooster (who were very much related to progressive music, as did Pink Floyd), Vanilla Fudge, Jefferson Airplane, Robert Calvert, Hawkwind (these guys completely embraced the space/psychedelia label till today – their live shows included a tripping girl dancing naked). In Germany, a genre of repetitive, unusual music borrowed much from the psychedelic culture, the so called Krautrock or Kosmische Musik, with bands like Can, Amon Düül II, Guru Guru, Neu!, Gila, Ash Ra Tempel, Popol Vuh or the better known Kraftwerk (who later moved on to electronic music) but that could be subject of a future post, with the great musical output that it provided…

As LSD was prohibited on 1966, the genre started to decline, giving way to progressive, hard and heavy rock music. However, there’s been a revivalism in the 60’s/70’s music, and psychedelia is no different. A few great up-and-coming bands are Astra, Hypnos 69, The Flying Eyes (listen to them and you’ll find out that Jim Morrison didn’t die at 27 after all), The Future Kings Of England. Other established artists have wandered through psychedelia too: Lenny Kravitz, Prince

Ok, and that is all for today. I’ve been told by some more loyal followers that so big a post is difficult to follow, so I made this youtube playlist, so that you can listen to all the songs comfortably.

Hope you’ve enjoyed another of my verbiages 😛

Rock Operas, Episode I – The Wall

Rock opera. What the hell is a rock opera?

No, it doesn’t have opera singers singing over guitar riffs, bass lines and drum licks. It is rather a rock album that presents a storyline and a base theme spread throughout several songs and or parts in a similar way to an opera. It can be understood as a type of a concept album, of which you may already have heard.

Ok, but why am I bringing this subject? Because several rock operas have been hugely successful, and you have certainly heard some related songs.

I myself enjoy very much a rock opera, as we can hear a theme, both musical and lyrical, in different ways and varied instrumentations, for example. So, I’m going to start a series of posts regarding this matter.

Today’s post is about the most celebrated rock opera ever: The Wall by Pink Floyd! Who hasn’t heard the children choir singing “We don’t need no education” ?

In 1979, Pink Floyd released what would become their greatest worldwide success, an album (and a movie) that explores abandonment and isolation, symbolised by a metaphorical wall. The songs create an approximate storyline of events in the life of the protagonist, Pink, a character based on Waters, whose father was killed during the Second World War. Pink is oppressed by his overprotective mother, and tormented at school by tyrannical, abusive teachers. Each of these traumas become metaphorical “bricks in the wall”.

The protagonist eventually becomes a rock star, his relationships marred by infidelity, drug use, and outbursts of violence. As his marriage crumbles, he finishes building his wall, completing his isolation from human contact.

Hidden behind his wall, Pink’s crisis escalates, culminating in an hallucinatory on-stage performance where he believes that he is a fascist dictator performing at concerts similar to Neo-Nazi rallies, at which he sets men on fans he considers unworthy. Tormented with guilt, he places himself on trial, his inner judge ordering him to “tear down the wall”, opening Pink to the outside world. The album turns full circle with its closing words “Isn’t this where…”, the first words of the phrase that begins the album, “…we came in?”, with a continuation of the melody of the last song hinting at the cyclical nature of Waters’ theme.

On 1980, they had a small tour where they staged the whole album, similar to the movie that was also released (with Bob Geldof as Pink), with a wall being built and destroyed during the performance. Later, when the Berlin Wall was destroyed, Roger Waters (then already outside the Floyd) organized a huge concert with many guests in Berlin. 20 years later, he toured the world again recreating the 1980 concerts. I was fortunate enough to have witnessed the awesomeness that is The Wall! Check the whole concert here 😀

Ok, the post is growing long and I still haven’t posted what is considered David Gilmour’s best solo, and one of the best rock solos ever, Comfortably numb (in the recent Roger Waters tour)

Finally, one piece of music that I love from the movie: empty spaces / what shall we do now:

Hope you enjoyed this rather long description of one of the best albums ever, and stay tuned for the next rock opera:

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Genesis