Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Struggle For the Moral Soul: MARTIN LUTHER KING and Civil Rights

"Justice at its best is power
correcting everything that stands against love."

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I think the Civil Rights Movement was the best thing that ever happened to America, because it forced us to redeem ourselves. And it still is.

I grew up in the South and Midwest during the Civil Rights years and their aftermath. It challenged everything about my world and deepened my appreciation of humanity. Not a single day passes where the lessons learned are not affecting my perceptions, my outlook, or my aspirations. What is right nowadays stems from their moral paths, what is wrong tends to come from where any of us have lost the way. It's on each of us to make it better for each other. Selflessness brings us into the better angels of our nature. This is my psalm of love to my heroes, the bravest of the brave.

When you look back at the black and white photos of the tense events of the civil rights struggle in the '50s and '60s, like those shot by Charles Moore, there is a strangely brutal clarity. It seems like all artifice strips away leaving only hate and heroism. There is no theatre. There's only that queasy moment when something terrible is happening, when someone is doing wrong to someone, or recklessly trying to stand up in the face of danger. It is immediate, it's serious, it's real. A black woman cringing from a swung baseball bat. People slammed to the ground by the high-pressure firehoses of Alabama firemen. State Troopers charging church marchers with batons through tear gas. College students bludgeoned by horseback cops. And this was America.

There is a sickness so terrible in those frames, it chills the heart. Studying those snapshots and films, you look in the faces of the racist cop, the klanswoman, the corrupt governor, and you can perhaps also see their fear...of the modern, of change, of the truth. They look like sad relics not quite grasping that their hold is slipping, that critical mass is tiding against them. That every wrong they've ever done is coming up for account.

Hindsight is one thing, but living through that revolution was far more intense; it was painful, personal, and ongoing. And there was really nothing black and white about any of it. Black And White was just ink on a copy page, photos on newsprint, flickers on a television. It was the medium for conveying this moral war, but the reality was too complex for polar absolutes. Those shocking events were actually an alarmingly clear mirror showing the spectrum of our neglect. It ripped up laissez-fair dismissals about the reality of racism to shreds. It stripped away the firewalls that we used to separate it from our lives. Most of all, it forced us to question our national identity, and our personal character. Were you really what you said you were, who you thought you were? Where did you stand, and why? This was no civics lesson or some marketing campaign. This was the new true reality. Not shopping, not cruising, not the cinema. Those images and stories radically challenged how you behaved and what you believed in.

This was a new era where the political was a personal as it gets. Who was the Enemy here; was it the Klan South, the segregationist politicians, outmoded laws? Or also benign ignorance, local injustice, personal acts? Racism was as pervasive in all regions of the country and society as the South. People may have been carefully segregated by opposing terms like Black or White, male or female, Christian or heathen. But that aritifice stripped away when you had to stand at the mirror and face who you really were inside. The truth was that the real enemy was the ugliness in the human heart. There was no Us and Them. There was only each of us having to atone for any flaws in our own daily actions going forward. The moral struggle for the soul of the nation had to happen ultimately within each of us.

Part of the pain of living in the South and Midwest was seeing that poison directly in the ones you loved, in yourself. It's easy for someone to stand outside of an area and point out cardboard villains. It was another thing to live there and see the loved ones you trusted -who put church above all else, were wise and kind, who raised you- also believing in the same cruel hatred that compelled Sheriff James Clark to violently assault protesters. Another thing then to find some of these seeds in yourself and weed them out. Facing these truths left you feeling like a smashed windshield after a collision. It called into question your faith in love itself. How could these very moral people teach such immoral attitudes? How could they be Christian while excluding everyone they were afraid of? The sadness was compounded by watching these people you respected -who cared about family, led decent lives, worked hard every day- then having their sad fears twisted into hate for personal power by men in suits: pastors, police, politicians. Who could you believe in anymore?

"It may well be that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition is not the glaring noisiness of the so-called bad people, but the appalling silence of the so-called good people."
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Rosa Parks was tired. She'd worked hard all day and she didn't want to give up her seat on the bus. The law said she should but the law was immoral. By trying to hold on to her dignity in one small moment, Rosa took a stand that changed everything. People stepped forward to stand with her, and more, and more. Now we all had to make decisions on what was better for everyone, even if the written law was unequal to the task.

You could instead choose an honest love, a compassionate outlook, a giving hand, that left hate and hypocrisy behind. The Civil Rights Movement forced you to make a choice. Often between relationships and principle, selfishness and selflessness, between the past and the future, repression or progress. It was the hardest break of all but it was necessary for the soul.

Dr. King never succumbed to hate. He steadfastly remembered that his enemies were just people who could still be reached, befriended, forgiven. Resorting to brutality or hatred only dehumanized any of us. He put all his faith in human dignity, and in the world's support when they saw it being assailed. He was right to and always will be. No one could see the bombing of the church which killed four little girls and not be moved on the deepest level. King believed foremost in our humanity, that we would come through for another in pain. This redemptive love ennobled our nation and inspired us to be better people.

When a flash flood hits, it's pretty overwhelming and dramatic. Then it seeps down out of view, only to flourish seeds in the future. The 1960s and the empowerment ethos ignited by the Civil Rights Movement were like a flash flood worldwide.

Before, the mainstream culture at large had been strictly for the Included. TV ads and shows, churches, schools, and industry were very good about reminding everyone what those parameters were, and how you did or didn't fit into them. But in the biggest generation ever, that left a lot of ostracized people to meet each other and bond together. There was nothing black or white about any of them, they were like a prism of possibilities; Ban The Bomb activists, Folk protestors, Rock hedonists, Jazz boppers, ecologists, vegetarians, student uprisers, international dissidents, disillusioned soldiers, young college women, banned writers, progressive teachers, pacifist clergy, migrant workers, repressed voters, closeted gays, starving artists, fashion forwards, philosophers, shafted unions, poor people...the list was limitless. No one had a monopoly on pain. Its universality connected them. By sharing common grievance they began to see an end to limitations when they pooled their strengths. That's the true '60s...the Empowerment era. En masse, their alienation created a sort of sub-nation, a counterculture. This humanist movement's mantra was freedom, in the sense of personal emancipation.

There's a clear throughline from the Civil Rights movement to Farmworkers' rights, the Paris revolts, Prague Spring, the Counterculture, Feminism and ERA, Chicano pride, AIM, Solidarnosc, Eastern European liberation, ecology, Apartheid's end, and Gay rights. They are all the seeds that grew from the flood that Rosa Parks unleashed that fateful day she made her stand.

For his humane efforts, King was called "an extremist" by conservative attackers. Though never elected to the office, Martin Luther King was the moral President of the United States...and he still is.

"Why have we substituted the arrogant undertaking of policing the whole world, for the high task of setting one's own house in order?

For the evils of racism, poverty, and militarism to die, a new set of values must be born.

Our economy must become more person-centered
than profit- and property-centered."

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1967

Let's keep going forward together.

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Saturday, February 27, 2010

ROCK Sex: "Police and Thieves" - Junior Murvin > The Clash

Photo of suspects by Caroline Coon.

ROCK Sex says, 'up against the wall'.


"Police and Thieves" was first done by Reggae star Junior Murvin. Produced by the crazed Lee Perry, his sweet falsetto works in compassionate contrast to the harsh realities he's speaking to.

JUNIOR MURVIN -"Police and Thieves" (1976)

The Clash made it even more famous, helping build the bridge between Reggae and Punk/PostPunk culture.

THE CLASH -"Police and Thieves" (1977)

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Friday, February 26, 2010

LADIES FIRST: "Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While)" - Kim Weston > The Doobie Brothers

LADIES FIRST gives due to famous songs that actually 'she did first'.


"Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While)" was written by Motown's monster hitwriters Holland-Dozier-Holland in 1964. And technically, the first version was by Eddie Holland himself, though it was never released (until 2005). But the smash hit recording that set it all off was by Kim Weston.

KIM WESTON -"Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While)" (1965)

During their Motown years The Isley Brothers also covered it.

In 1971, it was embraced awhile by Blood Sweat And Tears.

It was also updated by Vinegar Joe, a British Rock'n'Soul band with the good fortune to have both Elkie Brooks and Robert Palmer ["Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)", "Addicted To Love"] as their vocalists.

A Canadian soul singer named Charity Brown next did a go at it in 1975, but just as her single was taking off, it was lost in the dust of the following version.

Tom Johnston of The Doobie Brothers loved Kim Weston's single and took the song's title literally by ramping it up guitar style. It became one of their signature songs, so much so that many fans think it was theirs in the first place.

THE DOOBIE BROTHERS -"Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While)" (1975)

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Thursday, February 25, 2010

BEYOND COOL: Badfinger, the Beatles of the 1970s!

I love BADFINGER and you should, too. Here's a music player to win you over.

"Here it is, come and get it!"

by Tym Stevens
This is a Spotify player. Join up for free here.

BADFINGER were The Beatles' protégés, who had wonderful songs and terrible luck.

The classic line-up -Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland, and Mike Gibbins- were together from 1970 to 1974, and had huge hits with the songs "Come And Get It" (written for them by Paul McCartney during the Abbey Road album sessions), "Day After Day", "No Matter What You Do", and "Baby Blue" (used memorably in the finale of 'Breaking Bad').

They also did the original of "Without You", a worldwide smash in 1971 with Harry Nilsson's cover of it. It has gone on to become a perennial standard covered by artists globally, including the 1996 hit for Mariah Carey.

The band is certainly every bit as influential on all the indie and power pop bands that followed as Big Star, The Raspberries, or The Modern Lovers. The latter part of the Music Player features cover versions in chronological order, from artists as varied as Ken Lazarus (Jamaica), We All Together (Peru), Tim Hardin, Leno E Lilian (Brazil), Billy Paul, The Flashcubes, Game Theory, Lon and Derrek Von Eaton (with Ringo Starr and Klaus Voorman), Midge Ure, Todd Rundgren, The Real Kids, and Harry Styles.

Their songs are excellent and eternal, and you're in good hands with BADFINGER.

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Hear the whole BEATLESQUE Songs series:
'REUNION' 1970-Now

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

ROCK Orgy: "Life Is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)!"

ROCK Orgies are songs that tribute other songs and singers.


"Life Is a Rock (But the Radio rolled Me)" was a bubblegum toss-off that hit it big.

At a spitfire pace it lists a galaxy of artists, songs, DJs, and labels from the previous two decades of Rock'n'Soul. Many more than I can point out, so read the lyrics here and watch this fantastically clever video here!:

REUNION -"Life Is a Rock (But the Radio rolled Me)" (1974)

The video even slips in some more for good measure!

Sing and Rap along:

"B.B. Bumble And The Stingers, Mott The Hoople, Ray Charles Singers
Lonnie Mack and twangin' Eddy, here's my ring we're goin' steady
Take it easy, take me higher, liar liar, house on fire
Locomotion, Poco, Passion, Deeper Purple, Satisfaction
Baby baby gotta gotta gimme gimme gettin' hotter
Sammy's cookin', Lesley Gore and Ritchie Valens, end of story
Mahavishnu, fujiyama, kama-sutra, rama-lama
Richard Perry, Spector, Barry, Archies, Righteous, Nilsson, Harry
Shimmy shimmy ko-ko bop and Fats is back and finger poppin'

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me
Gotta turn it up louder, so my DJ told me (whoa whoa whoa whoa)
Life is a rock but the radio rolled me
At the end of my rainbow lies a golden oldie

FM, AM, hits are clickin' while the clock is tock-a-tickin'
Friends and Romans, salutations, Brenda And The Tabulations
Carly Simon, I behold her, Rolling Stones and centerfoldin'
Johnny Cash and Johnny Rivers, can't stop now, I got the shivers
Mungo Jerry, Peter Peter Paul and Paul and Mary Mary
Dr. John the nightly tripper, Doris Day and Jack the Ripper
Gotta go Sir, gotta swelter, Leon Russell, Gimme Shelter
Miracles in smokey places, slide guitars and Fender basses
Mushroom omelet, Bonnie Bramlett, Wilson Pickett, stop and kick it

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me
Gotta turn it up louder, so my DJ told me (whoa whoa whoa whoa)
Life is a rock but the radio rolled me
At the end of my rainbow lies a golden oldie

Arthur Janov's primal screamin', Hawkins Jay and
Dale and Ronnie, Kukla, Fran and Norma Okla
Denver, John and Osmond, Donny
JJ Cale and ZZ Top and LL Bean and De De Dinah
David Bowie, Steely Dan and sing me prouder, CC Rider
Edgar Winter, Joanie Sommers, Osmond Brothers, Johnny Thunders
Eric Clapton, pedal wah-wah, Stephen Foster, do-dah do-dah
Good Vibrations, Help Me Rhonda, Surfer Girl and Little Honda
Tighter, tighter, honey, honey, sugar, sugar, yummy, yummy
CBS and Warner Brothers, RCA and all the others

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me
Gotta turn it up louder, so my DJ told me (whoa whoa whoa whoa)
Life is a rock but the radio rolled me
At the end of my rainbow lies a golden oldie

Listen, remember, they're playing our song!
Rock it, sock it, Alan Freed me, Murray Kaufman, try to leave me
Fish, and Swim, and Boston Monkey,
Make it bad and play it funky.
(Wanna take you higher!)"

Songwriters: Norman Dolph and Paul Di Franco
© Crushing Music Company, The Songwriters Guild Of America

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

ROCK Sex: "Without You" - Badfinger > Harry Nilsson

ROCK Sex can live with this song forever.


BADFINGER were The Beatles for the 1970s, except that the decade didn't know it.

Glorious songs and horrible luck. But I consider that great band a treasure chest instead of a tragedy, and here's one more reason why.

"Without You" started out in half moves. First it took form as a song sketch by Pete Ham with the working title "If It's Love", with the verses and melody close but the chorus entirely different. Then Tom Evans put in the chorus from his song "I Can't Live".

TOM EVANS -"I Can't Live" demo (1970)

Badfinger recorded the melded version on their album NO DICE in 1970.

Paul McCartney, one of their Apple label bosses and an admirer, enthused that it was "...the killer song of all time."

BADFINGER -"Without You" (1970)

Another running mate of The Beatles, HARRY NILSSON must have felt so, too. First he did a heartfelt piano demo, and then recorded a stunning cover version. While everyone missed it on Badfinger's version, his "Without You" was a world smash and stayed at #1 in the US for a month.

HARRY NILSSON -"Without You" (1971)

It was such a success that he also did a Spanish version, "Sin Ti".

This is another case of how the cover version eclipsed the original, with most folks thinking it's Harry's song. Though lately they may think it's Mariah Carey's or any one of these.

But for me it's one more reason to be grateful for Pete, Tom, Mike, and Joey.

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Sunday, February 21, 2010

ROCK Orgy: Le Tigre's "Hot Topic" + Women Who Rock!

JD Samson, Kathleen Hanna, Johanna Fateman

ROCK Orgies are songs that celebrate other artists or songs.

Today, the political call-out anthem "Hot Topic" by Le Tigre.


After helping spearhead the Riot Grrrl Movement in the early '90s, a Punk feminist running partner with Grunge and activist youth, Kathleen Hanna eventually struck new courses with the Electro-Punk trio, Le Tigre.

"Hot Topic" gives due shout-outs to tons of female innovators in the arts, sports, activism, and music.

Here's a cool video by Wynne Greenwood that complements that with even more great influencers.

LE TIGRE -"Hot Topic" (1999)

On the music side, the song salutes sonic rebels like:

YOKO ONO -"Approximately Infinite Universe" (1972)

CIBO MATTO -"Know Your Chicken" (1995)

THE BUTCHIES -"Send Me You" (2204)

SLEATER KINNEY -"Combat Rock" (2002)

UT -"Sham Shack" (1984)

ANN PEEBLES -"I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down" (1973)

NINA SIMONE -"Revolution" (1969)

THE SLITS -"Typical Girls" (1979)

HAZEL DICKENS -"Rebel Girl" (1990)

ARETHA FRANKLIN -"Respect" (1967)

JOAN JETT ft. Kathleen Hanna -"Activity Grrrl" (1994)

MIA X -"I Get The Paper"

THE NEED -"Whitewash Cannonball" (1997)

Winners all!

"Don't you stop
We won't stop
Don't you stop..."

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Saturday, February 20, 2010

ROCK Sex: NIRVANA - "Our little group has always been, and always will until the end"

ROCK Sex feels that "all in all is all we are".

Today's Kurt Cobain's birthday. This is a tribute to his memory.



One of the first tributes was on the heels of Nirvana's breakthrough hit, "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Tori Amos stripped the Grunge down to the fragile heart at the core of the song with this haunting ballad rendition.

TORI AMOS -"Smells Like Teen Spirit" (Live, 1992)

In the wake of losing Kurt, many were moved to give back some of the galvanizing energy he had given them. Sinead O'Connor made a luminous elegy out of his "All Apologies".

SINEAD O'CONNOR -"All Apologies" (1994)

Kurt was supposed to work with R.E.M., and this lament is Michael Stipes calling his spirit.

R.E.M. -"Let Me In" (1994)

When Kurt died, he referenced a Neil Young lyric, "it's better to burn out than it is to rust", in his farewell note. Young himself, familiar with the symptoms of Kurt's increasingly self-destructive behavior, had tried in vain to reach him before it was too late. Deeply hurt by the loss and pained by the lyric, Young and Crazy Horse dedicated their "Sleep With Angels" album and song to Kurt.

CRAZY HORSE -"Sleep With Angels" (1994)

Taking a cue from his Beatles-inspired song "About a Girl", Patti Smith responded with "About a Boy". She later recorded a cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit".

PATTI SMITH -"About a Boy" (1996)

The leader of Living Colour made this textural elegy.

VERNON REID -"St. Cobain" (1996)

After four hard years, Courtney Love spoke to her pain in HOLE's "Reasons To Be Beautiful". She transforms Neil's lyric into the admonition "It's better to rise than fade away". The uplift and agony in the last minute of this song still brings me to tears.

HOLE -"Reasons To Be Beautiful" (1998)

Dave Grohl wrote a song about his friend while they were recording the NEVERMIND album, but didn't release it until 2008.

NIRVANA -"Friend Of A Friend" (2008)



Here are some heartfelt and explorative interpretations of Kurt's songs in many styles.

CHARLIE HUNTER TRIO -"Come As You Are" (1995)

SONIC YOUTH -"Moist Vagina" (1998)

CIBO MATTO -"About A Girl" (1999)

KRISTIN HERSH -"Pennyroyal Tea" (1999)

FLIPPER -"Scentless Apprentice" (2001)


HOOVERPHONIC -"In Bloom" (2008)

THE BAD PLUS -"Lithium" (2009)

CHRISTOPHER O'RILEY -"Heart Shaped Box" (2009)

LITTLE ROY -"Dive" (2011)

JESSICA LEA MAYFIELD -"Lounge Act" (2011)

CHARLES BRADLEY and The Menahan Street Band -"Stay Away" (2011)

MARGOT AND THE NUCLEUR SO And SO'S -"Something in the Way" (2011)

EMA -"Endless Nameless" (2011)

LANA DEL REY -"Heart-Shaped Box" (2012)

ROBERT GLASPER -"Smells Like Teen Spirit" (2012)

"Take a rest,
As a friend,
As an old memory..."

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Friday, February 19, 2010

ROCK Sex: "I Want You!" - The Troggs, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Marvin Gaye, Cheap Trick, Elvis Costello +

ROCK Sex tells you what it wants what it really really wants.

Today's relay is that universal desire, "I Want You". Here's a lot of ranting and raving about the craving.


Let's let Liverpool's unsung Beat group, Jeannie And The Big Guys, kick us off.


Bringing some of that Garage lust, via the "Louie Louie"/"Wild Thing" riff, is The Troggs.

THE TROGGS -"I Want You" (1966)

Bob Dylan mixes scorn, ache, and surreality in his plea.

BOB DYLAN -"I Want You" (1966)

The Beatles make an epic Grunge grind out of it that hypnotizes you into submission.

THE BEATLES -"I Want You (She's So Heavy)" (1969)

Marvin Gaye seduces us into sin with angelic grace.

MARVIN GAYE -"I Want You" (1976)

Cheap Trick make sure it's mutual.

CHEAP TRICK -"I Want You To Want Me" (live, 1978)

Fleetwood Mac's most restless member pays tribute to Prince with this number.


After the intro, a minute in, listen to how Elvis Costello rechannels The Beatles' groove and Dylan's edge from the songs above.

ELVIS COSTELLO -"I Want You" (1986)

Bringing us round trip, here's Canada's Fefe Dobson making her feelings known.

FEFE DOBSON -"I Want You" (2009)

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Thursday, February 18, 2010

ROCK Orgy: "F.U.N.K." by Betty Davis

Betty Davis, NASTY GAL (1975)

ROCK Orgies are songs that call out a lot of other artists and songs.


Here's the queen of Funk Rock, badder than bad BETTY DAVIS, giving us a crash course in "F.U.N.K."!

BETTY DAVIS -"F.U.N.K." 2.0* (1975)

*This is the second, better version of a video for the same song

Party guests (in order):

The Funk Brothers (Motown house band), Booker T & the MGs (Stax house band), James Brown; Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker (The JBs, P-Funk) The Meters (New Orleans), Sly And The Family Stone, Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, Al Green, Ann Peebles, Miles Davis, Billy Preston, Carlos Santana, Curtis Mayfield, Barry White, Larry Graham, Isaac Hayes; The O'Jays, Betty Davis, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Rare Earth, Herbie Hancock and Headhunters, Aretha Franklin (seen with Ahmet Ertegun), Rufus with Chaka Khan, Parliament/Funkadelic, The Ohio Players, Marvin Gaye, WAR, Earth Wind & Fire, Bootsy Collins, and -the Man- Sly Stone now.


BONUS: Here's the sequel, which expands out with more stellar stalwarts of 1970s Funk.

YVONNE FAIR -"Funky Music Sho' Nuff Turns Me On" (1975)

-videos by Funk'n'Roll
© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

ROCK Sex: "Time Has Come Today" - Chambers Brothers > Angry Samoans > Ramones > Joan Jett

ROCK Sex says 'there are things to realize'.


"Time Has Come Today" was a shock, as much as when Dylan went electric.

The Chambers Brothers had made a name for themselves on the Folk and Gospel circuit. But when they plugged in and rocked out on this harsh, rebellious, and political single, it chimed in a new day.

Garage Rock was just underground or local 45s then, mostly unplayed on the air, fuzzy riffs but usually just sniping about a girlfriend. Adult anger with teen concerns. This song was something more. Beyond the snarly licks, it had a political conscience, really brazen echo, and was made by a predominantly black band. This song was as much a direct hinge into the rise of Psychedelia as any Garage song can be.

And a gateway for all the black psychedelic bands that still consistantly get written out of the NUGGETS canon.

THE CHAMBERS BROTHERS -"Time Has Come Today" (1966)

At its heart Punk was an extension of '60s Garage Rock, protest songs, and activist lifestyle, though it rarely admitted it at the time. Here's L.A. band ANGRY SAMOANS doing one of the first flashforwards of this ageless song, satirizing the consumer zombies of the Reagan era:

ANGRY SAMOANS -"Time Has Come Today" (1982)

More known is this great version by RAMONES, preaching to the new congregation.

RAMONES -"Time Has Come Today" (1983)

As women vie with the black contingent for the most underappreciated in the Garage Rock realm, here's heir JOAN JETT telling us what time it is.

JOAN JETT -"Time Has Come Today" (1990)

More than its sound, it's the lyrics of "Time Has Come Today" that keep it timeless. Here are recent updates by Willy Deville, Steve Earle and Sheryl Crow, The Lords Of Altamont, Bootsy Collins, Pearl Jam, and The Hunns.

"Now the time has come (Time)
There's no place to run (Time)
I might get burned up by the sun (Time)
But I had my fun (Time)
I've been loved and put aside (Time)
I've been crushed by tumbling tide (Time)

And my soul has been psychedelicized (Time)"

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Monday, February 15, 2010

ROCK Sex: "Nightclubbing" - Iggy Pop > Human League > Grace Jones > Nine Inch Nails > Oasis

ROCK Sex is going out on the town tonight.


"Nightclubbing", the proto-Industrial song by Iggy Pop, grew out of his times with David Bowie in the late-'70s Berlin scene.

Electronic and progressive German musicians like Kraftwerk, Neu!, Faust, Kluster, and Can were rethinking the soundscape of modern music. Pop, Bowie, and Brian Eno were among the first to recognize and expand on this profoundly influential movement.

IGGY POP -"Nightclubbing" (1977)

It's been noted that the riff has a sly similarity to "Rock and Roll" by Gary Glitter. Human League must have noticed because they recorded a "Rock'n'Roll/ Nightclubbing" medley.

HUMAN LEAGUE -"Rock'n' Roll/ Nightclubbing" (1980)

Grace Jones was so taken by this song that it became the title track of her breakthrough album.

GRACE JONES -"Nightclubbing" (1981)

Nine Inch Nails used a sample of the kick drum in their big hit.

NINE INCH NAILS -"Closer" (1994)

And Oasis also sampled the drums for this song.

OASIS -"Force of Nature" (2002)

Because you're bound to run into someone you know when you go out, here's Iggy and Grace together bringing the party with them!

IGGY POP and GRACE JONES -"Nightclubbing" (2009)

"We walk like a ghost
We learn dances brand new dances
Like the nuclear bomb
When we're nightclubbing"

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Sunday, February 14, 2010

ROCK Sex: Love and Let Love! -Bessie Smith, Rita Chao, Nancy Sit, Tina Turner

The ROCK Sex Blog says Love and Let Love!


"All You Need Is Love" meant empathy, intimacy, support, selflessness, and spiritual solidarity.

These are the tonics to alienation, segregation, hostility, selfishness, and existential emptiness.

BESSIE SMITH -"You've Got To Give Me Some" (1928)

The expression of love is a sacred act and a spiritual pact.

It may be fleeting, may be only a cherished moment, or perhaps as deep as life is long. But the selfless act of giving of ourselves for another's benefit lifts us into the better angels of our nature. Hate only degrades and destroys. Love nourishes the individual soul and the human species. Without it, we will not survive.

RITA CHAO & The Quests/ NANCY SIT -"Hanky Panky" (1967)

Love is love and Hate ain't; it can't be legislated, leveled, or lynched. Let no one put it asunder.

These are my tributes to love; its stirrings, its courtship, its consumation, its playful dynamics and trusts, its gameplaying, its limitless range.

TINA TURNER -"Whole Lotta Love" (1975)

Love is the antidote to all harm; it is the pulsebeat of the human race.

-all videos created by Funk'n'Roll
© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Friday, February 12, 2010

LADIES FIRST: "Demolition Man" - Grace Jones > The Police > Sting

LADIES FIRST hips you to songs that 'she did first'.


Grace Jones actually recorded the first version of "Demolition Man", written by Sting.

GRACE JONES -"Demolition Man" (1981)

Quickly thereafter, Sting recorded his own take on his song with his mates The Police.

THE POLICE -"Demolition Man" (1981)

A year later it was done again by Manfred Mann's Earth Band. Mann is most famous for his other hit covers "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" ('64) and "Blinded By the Light" ('77).

And it gave the title to Stallone's SF action flick, DEMOLITION MAN (1993), where Sting remade it for the soundtrack.

STING -"Demolition Man" (1993)

As everything is cyclical, Wesley Snipes wouldn't have had his whole post-New Wave look if it hadn't been for Grace Jones forging the path in the first place!

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Thursday, February 11, 2010

ROCK Sex: "Talk Talk!" - The Music Machine > Talk Talk

ROCK Sex is a talking head.

Today, giving you some backtalk about "Talk Talk".


Sean Bonniwell's band The Music Machine blasted out this furious fuzz in The Golden Year Of Our Garage Rock, 1966...

THE MUSIC MACHINE -"Talk Talk" (1966)

Not to be outsquawked, here's TALK TALK doing their song "Talk Talk"!

TALK TALK -"Talk Talk" (1982)

Well, I guess they sure told told me.

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


STARSTRUCK, the illustrated Sci-Fi masterpiece where Riot Grrls take over the galaxy, has new pages on FACEBOOK!

> STARSTRUCK official website

We all know that the '80s renaissance of comix included WATCHMEN, DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, AMERICAN FLAGG, MIRACLEMAN, and LOVE & ROCKETS.

But easily as bold, much more ambitious, and far more funny was STARSTRUCK. Yet the acclaimed series by Elaine Lee and Michael Kaluta was criminally overlooked. And let's face it... it's because it starred kickass funny women instead of terse aggro men. Now it has returned in monthly issues with expanded art and stunning color.

Time to catch up to the better revolution and support STARSTRUCK today!

> IDW Publishing

© Tym Stevens

See Also:

-The Return of STARSTRUCK! Or, Riot Grrrls Conquer the Universe!,
the triumphant return of STARSTRUCK Comics
-STARSTRUCK Strikes Back!,
the History of STARSTRUCK from Stage Play to Comics
-The Big Bang of STARSTRUCK: The Roots and Branches of Elaine Lee & Michael Kaluta's space opera;
how it synthesized all Sci-Fi culture into something new, and predicted everything we've enjoyed since

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

ROCK Sex: "Don't Bring Me Down" -The Animals, The Beatles, Neil Young, WAR, McCartney, ELO

ROCK Sex was brought up to bring friends up.

The running connection this time is a song title; "Don't Bring Me Down", or variations thereof.


Who wants to be brought down? Nobody, so we all like a good defiance or uplift song on that score. Here's decades of both.

JOHNNIE DEE did an R'n'B song (which sadly I don't have a link for) that was covered by proto-garage band THE PRETTY THINGS and became a Top 10 hit in the UK.

THE PRETTY THINGS -"Don't Bring Me Down" (1964)

At the same time, THE ANIMALS asked hit-writing duo Gerry Goffin and Carole King for a song and they came up with this eternal.

THE ANIMALS -"Don't Bring Me Down" (1964)

On their first album, JEFFERSON AIRPLANE did a song called "Bringing Me Down".

Later John Lennon and THE BEATLES turned the warning to a hearfelt request.

THE BEATLES, with Billy Preston -"Don't Let Me Down" (1969)

Of a similar mind, NEIL YOUNG turned the sentiment to solace.

NEIL YOUNG -"Don't Let It Bring You Down" (live, 1971)

(Here's a luminous cover by ANNIE LENNOX.)

Another variant on the theme is this early solo track by MICHAEL JACKSON.

MICHAEL JACKSON -"Don't Let It Get You Down" (1973)

Alan Clarke and THE HOLLIES had their own angle on it.

THE HOLLIES -"Don't Let Me Down" (1974)

Meanwhile DAVID BOWIE remade the Johnnie Dee/ Pretty Things song.

And here's an empowerment anthem, "Don't Bring Me Down" by Labelle, written by New Orleans' funkmeister Allan Toussaint.

LABELLE -"Don't Bring Me Down" (1974)

In the uplift corner is the wonderful embrace of this Latin psalm by WAR, sung by keyboardist Lonnie Jordan.

WAR -"Don't Let No One Get You Down" (1975)

Paul McCartney had a second go at that same outlook with this overlooked gem, sounding like a timeless sea shanty.

WINGS -"Don't Let It Bring You Down" (1978)

Jeff Lynne, a peer and acolyte of many of these acts, topped them all with Electric Light Orchestra's smash hit.

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA -"Don't Bring Me Down" (1979)

Recently new songs in the "Don't Bring Me Down" relay appeared by THE SAW DOCTORS, ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN, THE BLACK EYE PEAS, and SIA.

Hey, I'm feeling glad all over!

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Sunday, February 7, 2010

ROCK Sex: "Don't Bring Me Down" - Ronnie Dawson > Electric Light Orchestra > Dazz Band > The Hives

ROCK Sex gives you the lowdown with no letdown.


"Don't Bring Me Down" was accidently the biggest smash hit Electric Light Orchestra ever had.

Leader Jeff Lynne melded together a lot of influences in this throwaway song that became a perennial classic.
  • The tune was created off -the-cuff in a German studio and the spare metallic drum loop hearkens to the influence of Kraftwerk.
  • The "downdowndadowndown" ad lib at the end recalls a similar one from "Who's been Here" (1961) by Commonwealth Jones, actually a psuedonym for young Rockabilly firebrand Ronnie Dawson.
  • The bassline recalls "I Can't Take No More" (1970) by Atomic Rooster.
  • There is a quiet structural similarity to "You Can't Do That" by The Beatles, particularly in the boogie vamp at the end.
  • Some of the harmonies on the chorus sound like The Bee Gees who were then at the height of their fame. And the "Oo-ee-hoo" recalls Little Richard.

Jeff threw in a made-up word, "grrooooosss", for harmony. Since it was done in Germany it was first mistaken for a similar German word for 'greeting'. But everyone else in the world mishead it as "don't bring me down, Bruce", which Jeff cheekily sings now in concert.

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA -"Don't Bring Me Down" (1979)

THE DAZZ BAND was inspired to their name by the song "Dazz" ('disco jazz') by Brick. For this great hit they also adopted Devo's robotic Funk and just may have borrowed the signature "oo-ee-hoo" from Jeff:

THE DAZZ BAND -"Let It Whip" (1982)

Recently the ELO song has been covered by OK GO and The New Pornographers.

The Dazz Band song was covered by Boyz II Men, SR-71, and in Cantonese by George Lam of Hong Kong!

The ELO song is also the clear inspiration for this song, with some Chuck Berry/Glam swagger in it.

THE HIVES -"Go Right Ahead" (2012)

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

ROCK Sex: "Soul Makossa" - Manu Dibango > Trovailoi > Michael Jackson

ROCK Sex goes sax crazy.

Today, the cultural relay of "Soul Makossa".


MANU DIBANGO, a saxophonist from Cameroon, set off an international sensation with his single "Soul Makossa".

This extremely obscure flipside was picked up by New York DJ David Mancuso on a trip to Europe in 1972. His incredibly influential listening parties at The Loft lit the fire for other prominent NYC DJs to pump their parties with its propulsive groove, and became such a regional hit that at least nine cover versions rushed in to capitalize on it, including such diverse artists as The Lafayette Afro-Rock Band, Babatunde Olatunji, and The Fania All-Stars.

The real version was then licensed and became a Billboard Soul hit (#35), and a market breakthrough for African artists that would then open the door for attention to Fela, King Sunny Ade, Youssou N'Dour, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Zap Mama and scores more.

Crucial to the song is its chant of "mama-se, mama-sa, ma-ko-ma-ko-ssa"...

MANU DIBANGO -"Soul Makossa" (1972)

Showing the global impact of Dibango's song, listen to this soundtrack homage by Italy's great film composer ARMANDO TROVAIOLI (a.k.a., Trovajoli)...

ARMANDO TROVAIOLI -"Sesso Matto (Sex Crazy)" (1973)

The chant also had clear impact in this famous hit by MICHAEL JACKSON ten years later...

MICHAEL JACKSON -"Wanna Be Startin' Something" (1982)

"Soul Makossa" has been covered by Afrika Bambaataa, and sampled in Jay Z's "Face Off", Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music", Wyclef Jean's "The Carnival", The Bloodhound Gang's "Mama Say", and A Tribe Called Quest's "Rhythm (Devoted to the Art of Moving Butts)".

"Makossa... Akeela
Mama ko mama sa maka makoosa Mama ko mama sa maka makossa
Mama ko mama sa maka makossa
Heyyyy, Soul Makossa..."

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist