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Steve Ison
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Steve Ison

11/3/2012 11:47:23 AM

The Shangri-Las Versus the modern world..
I've just become obsessed with 60s girl group music and particularly The Shangri-Las...Woh is that music seriously great !

The cinematic drama n musical daring of Remember (Walking In The Sand )... The haunting strangeness of I'll Never Learn...The playful charm of Give Him A Great Big Kiss....The elegiac sweet sadness of Out In The Streets

Its incredibly humbling for me listening to songs that affecting,urgent n brilliantly written...So elegant,beautiful n utterly seamless..You can think you're pretty good as a songwriter -but those kinda songs are on another creative level entirely -something to be inspired by n aspire toward.Maybe you never get there-but they're like beacons of hope for the journey..

Listening to their music has put me on such a creative high and made me feel so good n inspired -it made me reflect on the intrinsic qualities they have that most modern music hasn't..Or dosn't care for now -or isn't able to create any more..


I was talking to my mate (and great songwriter ) Harper Stephens at the pub about about modern country music the other week.He was saying different people with different natures n backgrounds want very very different things from music to me - and i just wasn't appreciating that...

So wheras some people might be primarily lyric focussed in what they love -or others might just want a great rythm to dance to-or want something thats cosy n reasurringly familiar -or just want an ideology or lifestyle they believe in reflected n celebrated - or even just a great 'personality' or pretty face they can idolise lol - i want something with a genuinelly transcendent -or strange, romantic otherworldly timeless quality...I'm always looking for that to feed me..Something suprising that musically tells a story

Within 'pop' music (in the broadest sense of the word ) that quality has been seriously lost as far as i can see/hear now..Which is why i listen to so much 60s music like this -'cos it has that spirit n energy in spades..

Its weird that all that incredibly haunting early 60s girl group music was created primarily for teenagers (what were the adults supposed to be listening to then -Perry Como ? )

Altho alot of it -like now -was being produced by talented writers primarily for money,there was a sublime artfulness and an incredible love of beauty in what the best people were creating then thats just undeniable..
It was like a whole new frontier opening up - as the amazing possibilities of what pop music could be were being invented n explored..


Something truly magical n liberating happened with music in the early 60s by great writers -as the passionate intensity n urgency of the blues,RnB and Rock'n'roll suddenly opened up n fused with Latin,classical and art school sensibilities. It became more sophisticated,fluid ,transcendent and free-and (for me ) is the true renaissance of the 20th Century....It also explains the creative explosion of the Girl Groups,Tamla Motown,The Beatles and all the British invasion bands etc..

It formed the basic blueprint of the magical spirit of pop music -that -as well as never being bettered imho- burned on a creative level n affecting intensity absoloutly not matched at all by the music of today..

That music represents a strange,richly imaginative analogue,lovingly hand crafted world of freedom ..A world that lives n breathes and opens up your inner life..A hopeful ,more innocent,fluid one before the digital,corporate mind came in and quantised n calcified the music into neatly predictable, homogenised marketable slices...

For all the democratic level-playing-field freedom-for-the-masses that computers n computer recording have given us,they've stolen at least as much on the other hand by quantizing our imaginations into rigid 4/4 bars n beats,numbingly predictable changes n auto-tuned digital 'perfection'...
We can't help but become a little bit like them as we learn to play by their rules..

You've as much chance of writing a song as timeless n affecting as the ones above thru manipulating beats or endlessly grinding out the axis-of-awesome chord changes to a click track tho as you have of flying to the moon ..


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Steve Ison

11/3/2012 11:53:51 AM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Iy8vXjynWA


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAmUcbr9Cz4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfieVfAwU0w


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eosXg_bBkE4


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Stoneman

11/4/2012 10:30:46 AM


Yes, I agree that the 60's musical era was a shining moment in musical history. It was during those times that the foundation for many of the styles we hear today was laid. From the soulful styling's of Motown, Staxx, King, Polydor etc. came the emergence of R&B, Funk and hybrid Jazz. Then there was the wailing guitar of Jimi Hendrix which brought forth the psychedelic platform of the electric guitar as the center piece for modern day Rock. Plus, their was the versatility and perfection of the Beatles who had the uncanny knack for adjusting their sounds and messages according to the changing of the times. Because of this, they established their legacy as being the greatest band ever. As well as, the most organic sound I have ever heard. It is real music with melody, sincere ideas and strong emotional content.

The romantic music of the 60's girl groups has been replaced with overt sexual themes with scantily clad women dancing around lip singing to tracks. True artists are being ignored while over produced road shows take center stage for the masses. Unfortunately people pay hundreds to watch these shows that border on perverse to extreme sexual provocation.

I grew up in the 50's and 60's and I played in bands from that era. Music was so much more organic then because you had to rely on your musicianship and not some computer program that plays loops and the same beat over and over. True song forms have been tainted by the fact that people are buying the artificially created crap. Listening to a lot of songs on the radio becomes repulsive because the songs have no intro, chorus, bridge or vamp (true ending). The just have one long verse that keeps going and going until the music stops. It is a very frustrating thing for me to listen to.

On the other hand, you wondered what the older people were thinking during the 60's music scene. Well, I can tell you this. They hated that music with a passion. They hated seeing their children dancing and sing to what they called "race" music. They hated Elvis and his gyrating pelvis. They hated the Beatles and the onslaught of teenaged girls trying to tear down the stage to get to them. They hated soul, Rock, Pop, girl groups, doo wop groups and seeing Black people on TV. They openly protested. The religious right condemned the music as being devil music. As a kid I saw this reaction but remained inspired to keep playing the music that appealed to me. I guess I was following the devil in their eyes. But they really did not appreciate the great art forms that were emerging in front of them. Looking back now, I think they probably realize how wrong they truly wrong they were.

So I agree with you on a lot of things but I must say this. Music has always been a reflection of the times. If we look back and remember what has come before our time, we will gain insights into where we have come and where we are going musically. I believe that people are tired of hearing looped beats and a bunch of talk about nothing. I think that real music is going to make a huge come back. No, it won't sound like the 60's but will have some of the elements of the 60's. It is a very simple fact that in order to have real organic music, you must bring in the elements of real songwriting, true song forms and emotional content that makes people inspired to listen and react accordingly. It has to not only make sense to the listener but touch them in some special way.

I think a change is coming because everything (both good and back) keeps coming back around to us. It is good to know that you are passionate about the music of the 60's. I am to. However, my mission is to create a musical bridge that brings many of the 60's elements back while capitalizing on the modern tools and themes of today.

Great Post and Much Respect!
Stoneman


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Steve April

11/4/2012 7:27:57 PM ---- Updated 11/4/2012 7:42:06 PM


Well, two wonderful posts...about musical roots, and turns, and evolving, and perhaps how music reflects larger cultural "basins of attraction" (a term from complexity science.)

On the subject of the "digital age," happend to be glancing through a book called Practicing History" written by barbara tuchman in the 60s lol...

"cOMPUTERS ARE ALREADY CHEWING AT THE SKIRTS OF HISTORY, IN THE PROCESS CALLED qUANTIFICATION....EVERYTHING DEPENDS ON THE NAMING OF THE CATEGORIES...MOREOVER ONE OF ITS BASIC DATA IS THE HUMAN SOUL...HISTORY HAS A WAY Of ATTEMPTING TO ESCAPE WHAT IMPRISONS IT INTO PATTERNS..."

Havin' said that, there seems to be an upside and a downside to a "halo effect", in this case 60s music, that i also relate very much too, what a breath of fresh air, a renaissance.

We remember the best, forget the rest lol...

For example, the 4 Shangra La songs Steve I. highlighted above.

Well, in all humility, 3 of the 4 not so much lol...

One is great, "Remember (Walkin' in the Sand")

Why??? I dunno...

Maybe...a teenage Billy Joel on piano, that g-r-e-a-t minor chord to begin. Kickin' lyrics "whatever happend to/the boy I once knew/the boy i gave my life to/ oh no oh no, oh no no no, remember walkin' in the sand...)..."

"Shadow" Morton's drama, and ear for dialogue...





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Richard Scotti

11/5/2012 8:25:17 AM ---- Updated 11/5/2012 3:08:50 PM


Let's not forget their song "Leader Of The Pack".

When I have more time later today, I'll weigh in as to what's been said so far about 60's
music vs computer created stuff.

Have you heard about Neil Young's business venture into a device called "PONO?".
If you google it you find some interesting facts about this new music delivery system that's like an ipod but boasts a sound that puts present digital CD's to shame. Supposedly, it gets as close to true anolog sound as digital can get.


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SILVERWOODSTUDIO

11/5/2012 2:47:51 PM



This reminds me of some of the cool first posts I read when I discovered IAC music, and dipped my toes into the pipeline-----back in 2006

I was a child of the 60s, and had no idea of the way music was constructed, but there is no doubt that all of the fab music from these times, was strong on melody and rhythm, and when it stopped it was easy to hum the tune or have it playing in your head all day long.

Music today is just elusive ---i hear a new track , but when it finishes I can barely remember how it sounded.

Is it me not being emotionally involved, (I'm not falling in and out of love every other week any more so I don't need to Identify with the track as I did when I was a teen) or is there such a diverse range of material, that nothing sticks unless it is riveting, relevant and has a hook that just won't go away!!

Of course there is still wonderful music being created,--- but it's just a lot harder to find, unless it is being marketed by a large corporate


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SILVERWOODSTUDIO

11/5/2012 2:48:29 PM ---- Updated 11/5/2012 2:50:06 PM



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SILVERWOODSTUDIO

11/5/2012 2:48:35 PM ---- Updated 11/5/2012 2:49:36 PM



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Steve Ison

11/5/2012 3:19:43 PM ---- Updated 11/5/2012 3:27:44 PM


Stoneman...I agree the music we have now's a reflection of the times we live in..

Its weird.I can hear that say (for instance) mid 60s Motown was far more sexual than the pop music of a decade earlier.But it was equally far more transcendent,free-spirited,heartfelt and imaginative than that music too..Like all great 60s music it had an intensity that seemed to expand and liberate you in all ways..
The pop music of today is far more sexual than Motown admitedly -but THATS ALL its got. There's no heart ,spirit or imaginative wonder in it..Its a reflection of the ruthlessly materialistic, cynically corporate ,spiritually dead times we live in then...
Too much exposure to that is bound to have a deadening,calcifying effect on the human soul.
Filling you with the disease of meaninglessness.A world where there's nothing left but chasing empty pleasures and the $

That in itself might still be an evolutionary step ahead of the utterly creatively bankrupt, ruthlessly corporate cynicism of the modern country industry tho imo....Satan wearing Gods clothes indeed -the vaccuous vaccuming black hole from which there's no escape artistically.
The iron curtain of rigor mortis-fied musical imprisonment

At least modern pop dosn't PRETEND to be anything more than the empty careering $ making exercise it is lol - and has the occassional
element of musical suprise and novelty going for it to open you up abit

They do both sound like the soundtracks to the death of western civilisation from where i'm stood tho
I wish i shared your optimism about the future musically -but given the way things have been and seem to be going - i don't if i'm honest.

Still,would love to be pleasantly suprised..

Steve...You're probably right that the sublime 'Remember (Walking In THe Sand ) will be the one remembered in 50 years time - but the other songs are still great too imho..

I'll Never Learn was just a B SIDE amazingly
Its deeply haunting,strangely beautiful melancholy and i love it just as much as 'remember'..



Richard..For me,the argument was about the creativity of the songwriting AT SOURCE -not about the sound being more 'analogue' then..
I actually listen thru computer speakers to all my music..And actually prefer a lower fidelity - since it levels the playing field between eras and lets me appreciate the song for what it really is more


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Stoneman

11/5/2012 6:48:34 PM


It could be said of me that I am the eternal optimist in most matters. Kind of a character flaw I guess. I just never bought into any doomsday theories whether it was about nuclear proliferation or about transcending generations of music. I believe in the genetics of music. So many people say that shit happens but try going a few days without taking one and you will see that from the bad comes relief. Thus what seems like a bad thing may actual be something good when you look back on it much in the same way we are looking back on 60's music. Basically, my meaning is that what comes from the root is part of the root and cannot evolve into anything more evil than the genetics of the root will allow. For instance, I love to listen to African music. There are so many similarities in that music and the music born from slavery i.e. Jazz, Soul, Black Gospel and Blues. If you examine it closely you will find the inherited spirit of the music from the mother country in its off spring. This happened even though the slaves in North America were not allowed to speak their home language, practice their native religions or sing/play their ancestral music. So, they played and sang the music that was allowed but they bent the notes which made it something much different than the music of the European captors. The bending of the notes is inherently African. Thus, the genetics of the music survived captivity and became something new to the entire world. Even the origins of Rap music is from the African traditon of telling stories with drum accompaniment. The tribal griots not only told the stories and history of the past through music, but they initiated the call and response that has become a staple of modern Hip-Hop. Rap artists tell stories about the hard streets of the ghetto just as their ancestors told of tribal wars, famines and victories. The African drum was not only used for entertainment but it was also used to communicate from village to village. The roots of the music will not be denied no matter what happens. I could say the same about European cultures, Asian cultures and Indian cultures. The genetics of the music may evolve but the root of it never changes. You can still find strong remnants of the past in it.

One thing we must take note of is the fact that the music we hear on the radio is the music we are force fed by corporate interests. But there is the underground music that only gets heard by those who seek a non-corrupted outlet. Seek and you shall find. There is good music out there if you seek it out. Just because something glitters with corporate profit, doesn't mean it is the true gold. With Gold mining you generally have to pan or dig for it. So it is with good music.

That's just how I see it. I could be wrong on some of these points but it is just my opinion. I believe that the resurgence of good music will happen and it cannot be stopped. The parents of my generation thought that the music of my day was going to hell and that my generation was going to go with it. They were wrong. 60's music actual took us to heavens we never knew existed. The bad stuff may get shoved down our ears by corporate money/promo's but eventually the good stuff will rise out of the underground and grow sprouts derived from the root. It is all one big circle and it just keeps coming back around. An example of this would be the fact that so many of today's artists have samples of the music of the 60's in their songs. Those of us who lived in the 60's can recognize those sample in a heart beat. To the youngsters it is something that they think is new. Without the root the music cannot live in the hearts of the people. Without the hearts of the people, the music is irrelevant. Just as the world turns and all the planets in the galaxy revolve around something. So does life, love and music. What goes around comes back around..............


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Richard Scotti

11/6/2012 6:57:46 AM ---- Updated 11/6/2012 7:06:47 AM


Steve, I agree with most of what you've said about 60's music. I've seen the Shangri-Las live and they were great, (they came out on Harley Davidsons) not only because of their performance but because of the sound quality.

I brought up the sound quality issue because I think it dovetails with what you're said about music being perverted by corporate interests. The sound delivery system in the 60's (warm, punchy with solid bass) was a great enhancement to the essence of the 60's sound. I listen to music on all kinds of systems including my computer and of course, nothing matches that original sound of the 60's.

The invention of the CD and eventually the ipod had a profound effect not only on a degradation of the sound quality but on the kinds of music being written. All of the tech tricks you and I both deplore are geared toward the way the music is now delivered. Bass guitars were so important in the 60's but since ipods and CD's have practically no bass to speak of, the quality of the bass has become less important and can be simulated with a synth. In my opinion, sound quality has an impact on song writing. If standards are lowered in one area of a creative endeavor, they are lowered in all areas of that endeavor. We used to say "garbage in, garbage out" but garbage has been so technically polished that it comes out passable.

Both you and Stoneman have articulated some very interesting points about 60's music in general. I'm neither an optimist nor a pessimist in most things. I'm somewhat pragmatic but when things are bleak I tend to move toward the positive side to keep from losing hope. Once hope is lost, why even try? I make the kind of music I myself would enjoy hearing on the radio. I've never given in to following trends or being concerned about some industry people calling my music "dated". It is what it is.

Great songs are still being written but we don't get to hear them on the radio or see them become successful because corporations, lawyers and accountants decide what we hear. They control what gets released, played and sold. It's a rigged game just like the economy. But as long as artists like Stoneman and Steve keep on writing "human" music, then humanistic music will survive. If we give up, the robots win.


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Steve Ison

11/9/2012 2:49:54 PM ---- Updated 11/9/2012 3:02:35 PM


Stoneman...Appreciate your optimism about the 'root' of the music -Dunno if i agree tho..Modern Country pop for instance is 60s country minus all the spirit,integrity n heart
There's a DEVOLUTION not an evolution there imho
Few people would argue that The Beatles,Hendrix,Stones,Beach Boys,Dylan,Stevie Wonder,Neil Young,Bowie etc deserved to be as succesful as they were....
Seemed the cream generally rose to the top then..
Creative magic,invention n soul and the $$$$$$$$ are light years apart these days - and it wasn't always so.
Of course i agree there's always good music around if you dig..And i do..I've got about 600 songs from IAC with a review each on various stations here
A part of me gets angry that they generally have to struggle to even scrape a few listens -much less have any impact or make any money lol
But thats just the way things are i know..

Cheers Richard..Dunno if i agree about technology influencing the way you write -At least for me..I always write on the guitar or piano so the technology makes no difference in the writing stage..
A part of what makes alot of 60s n 70s music SOUND so good -is less the technology imo than the fact it was usually bands playing live together which -if everyone's into it -creates a great atmospheric vibe straight away...
As solo artists we're gonna struggle to recreate that kinda energy with just one person overdubbing..So we might get it to sound cleaner -but not as organic..


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Bob Elliott

11/13/2012 11:48:58 AM ---- Updated 11/13/2012 11:49:22 AM


There is a lot that goes into that magic, but one key ingredient to that timeless otherwordly sound is that reverb. Admit it, it's got much hanging on that reverb.


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Steve Ison

11/14/2012 3:48:23 PM ---- Updated 11/14/2012 3:57:49 PM


Totally Bob..That 60s reverb is a huge factor f'sure..I'd also say the very 'dry' sound thats in vogue now with chart pop is because people are much more materialistically bound these days - and just don't want the otherworldly transcendence that kinda sound evokes


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Richard Scotti

11/15/2012 7:12:33 AM


Will there ever be another "Golden Age" of music or was the 60's - 70's musical revolution a once in a lifetime phenomenon?


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Steve April

11/15/2012 11:35:38 AM ---- Updated 11/15/2012 1:49:36 PM


fascinating thread...

"beneath all the statistics, a drop of duck's blood..."
lorca



There is, in sanest hours, a consciousness, a thought that rises, independent, lifted out from all else, calm, like the stars, shining eternal. This is the thought of identity — yours for you, whoever you are, as mine for me. Miracle of miracles, beyond statement, most spiritual and vaguest of earth’s dreams, yet hardest basic fact, and only entrance to all facts. In such devout hours, in the midst of the significant wonders of heaven and earth, (significant only because of the Me in the centre), creeds, conventions, fall away and become of no account before this simple idea. Under the luminousness of real vision, it alone takes possession, takes value. Like the shadowy dwarf in the fable, once liberated and look’d upon, it expands over the whole earth, and spreads to the roof of heaven.
walt whitman


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