Tuesday, May 24, 2016

BRIAN WILSON-esque: All The Songs Imitating His BEACH BOYS Music Styles!

...with 3 Music Players:
+ 2 WILSONesque playlists
of all their imitators!



BRIAN WILSON defined THE BEACH BOYS with his writing, singing, playing, vocal arranging, and studio production. Competing with Phil Spector's production and Paul McCartney's inspiration, Brian took the band from Surf and Hot Rod songs to the stunning pop hymnals of the Pet Sounds and Smile albums, considered among the greatest and most influential albums ever made.

Here's that sonic revolution in chronological order, covering the band and solo projects from 1962 to today, with tidal waves of great music that many folks have never heard beyond the early radio hits.

"Come on a safari with me!"

BRIAN WILSON/Beach Boys: 1962-Today

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2 Tribute music players!

Here are over 350 artists from every era and genre, lovingly imitating Brian's styles with THE BEACH BOYS.

Note: The songs are arranged in "sonic order": The Beach Boys' originals are included in chronological order, and paired with each song are covers, clones, and cousins of that particular song or sound from across time.

Each of Brian's varied styles are tributed from 1962 to 1978:
-in the 1962-1965-esque Music Player, all of the early Surf hits, the Drag racers, and lush ballads.
-in the 1966-1978-esque Music Player, all of the Baroque Pop of PET SOUNDS, the Acid Americana of SMiLE, the Groovy Folk of the late '60s, and on into the Moog Rock sounds of the mid '70s, followed at the end by a coda of songs about the band.

W I L S O N e s q u e:

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*(This Player is limited to the first 200 songs.
Hear the unlimited Playlist here.)

W I L S O N e s q u e:

Spotify playlist title=
BRIAN WILSONesque: 1966-1978-esque

*(This Player is limited to the first 200 songs.
Hear the unlimited Playlist here.)


The Beatles; Queen.

There are favored guests and many surprises along the way.

You would expect Jan And Dean, The Beatles, The Mamas And Papas, Sagittarius, Chicago, Queen, Electric Light Orchestra, 10cc, XTC, Jellyfish, and The High Llamas.

Frank Zappa; Brian Eno; Sonic Youth.

But how about rabble-rousers like The Who, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Sparks, John Cale, Brian Eno, Ramones, Blondie, Gary Numan, The Clash, Plastic Bertrand, The BusBoys, Sham 69, Descendents, Jesus And Mary Chain, R.E.M., Sonic Youth, Psychic TV, The Flaming Lips, Garbage, Yo Lo Tengo, and The Dirtbombs? Paired with the original songs that inspired them, the unlikely influence becomes clear.

From tough melodic sunshine to symphonic pop to shining hymnals to languid confessionals, Brian has rippled through every kind of band with his waves: Surf, Chamber Pop, Songwriter, Power Pop, Punk, New Wave, Indie Rock, Neo-Psychedelic, and more.

Along the way, the Music Players reveal Brian's influence on unsung classics by peers like The Supremes, The Kinks, The Shangri-La's, The Turtles, Buffalo Springfield, Love, The Monkees, The Zombies, Vashti Bunyan, Harpers Bizarre, The Tokens, Laura Nyro, The Association, The Free Design, Sly And The Family Stone, Spirit, Three Dog Night, Genesis, America, Todd Rundgren, Sweet, and War.

And shines light on rare gems by later artists like Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Squeeze, Joan Jett, The dB's, U2, The Dukes Of Stratosphear, The La's, Lush, Bjork, Beck, Ween, Weezer, Wilco, Telekinesis, Chicks On Speed, BC Camplight, and Dirty Projectors.

The music surfs the equator with Los Mabber's (Mexico), Equipe 84 (Italy), Les Nautiques (Canada), Trubrot (Iceland), Ilious & Decuyper (France), Frida of ABBA (Sweden), Klaatu (Canada), Hoodoo Gurus (Australia), Shonen Knife (Japan), Fugu (France), The Luminanas, (France), Preuteleute (Belgium), Sin Fang Bous Of The Loch Ness Mouse (Iceland), Jorn Aleskjaer (Norway), and Zumpano (Canada).

Best Coast; Panda Bear; Jacco Gardner.

Brian's radical arrangements and angelic harmonies opened new vistas and depths, and contemporary acolytes like Wondermints, Olivia Tremor Control, Goldfrapp, The Heavy Blinkers, The Shins, Grandaddy, The Explorers Club, Best Coast, Fleet Foxes, Father John Misty, Beachwood Sparks, She & Him, The New Pornographers, The Ruby Suns, Pas/Cal, Panda Bear, Maston, Django Django, The Sunchymes, and Jacco Gardner are still riding his tides.

Welcome to an alternate universe
of BEACH BOYS music you've never heard!

"Surf's Up
Aboard a tidal wave
Come about hard and join
The young and often spring you gave
I heard the word
Wonderful thing
A children's song..."

© Tym Stevens

See Also:

BEATLE-esque: 200 Albums That Homage Specific BEATLES Albums, with 2 Music Players.

LENNONesque: Artists imitating John Lennon's BEATLES and Solo styles.

McCARTNEYesque: Artists imitating Paul McCartney's BEATLES and Solo styles.

SLICE TONES: Artists imitating Sly Stone's SLY & THE FAMILY STONE styles.

TWIN PEAKS: Its influence on 20 years of Film, TV, and Music, with 5 Music Players.

MORRICONE-esque: The influence of the Spaghetti Western sound on 50 years of Rock and Soul, with 3 Music Players.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Shock Waves: How SURF MUSIC Saved Rock'n'Roll!

...with 2 Music Players,
of classic Surf + all its modern disciples!

now brings you the actual, all-inclusive history of Rock'n'Soul music, with Music Players.

Music Player Checklist

Surf Music kept the Rock movement alive from its original Rock'n'Roll origins into the British Invasion, and continues today.

Here are two Music Players charting that enduring influence on Rock history.

Music Player Quick Links:
1) SURF ROCK: : the First Wave of the 1960s
2) SURF ROCK Disciples: from 1962 to today

Each Music Player is in chronological order, from the '50s to the present.

1-Tidal Waves: 1958-1964

Spotify playlist title=
SURF ROCK: 1958-1964

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This first Music Player covers the initial rise of Surf Rock from 1958 to its mainstream peak in 1964, in chronological order.


The rhythm sections made it Roll but guitars made it Rock.

There was a bristling edge to those pulsing strings that was unearthly yet dirty, as ebullient as it was evil. The stinging leads in those first 1950s Rock'n'Roll songs jolted every kid in their tennies and rung them like tuning forks.

Many unsung heroes electrified the star's hits: Charlie Christian (Bennie Goodman), Scotty Moore (Elvis Presley), James Burton (Ricky Nelson), Cliff Gallup (Gene Vincent), Paul Burlison (Johnny Burnette Trio), Hubert Sumlin (Howlin' Wolf), Joe Maphis (Wanda Jackson), Danny Cedrone (Bill Haley), and many more. Chuck Berry broke through because he was able to write and sing as well as he played. But slowly, the guitarists started to get the limelight of their own.

Two of the new Guitar Stars paved the course. Link Wray, sartorial sharpie in a pompadour, was the sonic equivilent of a knifefight. Naturally his breakout was the moody instrumental "Rumble". His hard reverbing strings and prickly chords would open up the door to Surf, Garage Rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Punk, and beyond. His peer Duane Eddy tuned his weapon to echo a brutal twannng that would mug you as soon as look at you. His rocking take on Henry Mancini's "Peter Gunn Theme" launched a thousand covers and clones. Their sound and its attitude paved the wave of instrumental breakdown that followed.

Now the undercurrents churned to the surface with the rise of guitar-driven instrumental rock bands. Riff hits like "Raunchy" and "Tequila" roiled a swell of instro acts by 1959 like Santo And Johnny, The Vampires, The Montereys, Sandy Nelson, and The Frantics. This cascaded into the huge success of The Ventures' "Walk Don't Run" (1960), a sunny island melody on clanging guitar with a rolling drum break that brought the rogue wave into vogue.

The underflow is in motion, even if the mainstream hadn't reeled in the notion. They were too busy trying to sink Rock'n'Roll at the dawn of the '60s. And with the almost simultaneous loss of most of its singing figureheads (to the Army, death, God, or marrying your underage cousin), it seemed to be capsizing itself. Maybe this new punk music had only been a fad after all, like the quaking straights had been shreiking.

But the flame was kindled in the beach fires of the budding surf communities of southern California. The Pacific sport had hit the beaches and swept up the young with it. Kids practicing in garages began pounding out their covers of Rock'n'Roll and Rhythm'n'Blues in beach houses and party clubs, and then surfed the rest of the time. One of these guys, a Lebenese fan of Hank Williams and Mediterranean melodies, had an epiphany.

Dick Dale wanted to channel the roaring rush of power he got from surfing through his amplifier. He worked with nearby guitar maker Leo Fender to develop an amp that could project and withstand his aural assault. After myrad exploded amps they developed the Fender amps that rockers use to this day. Leo also came up with the Fender Reverb Unit, a crucial pedal that Dale used to create the signature tough-echo Surf Music sound. Dale rode the crest of fame up and down the west coast, christening acolytes by the score. The new wave of Rock had risen.

Instro bands worldwide caught a ride. Surfin' the USA were The Lively Ones, The Sentinels, The Surfaris, The Challengers, and The Trashmen. From the UK, idiosyncratic producer Joe Meek streamed The Tornados, The Shadows, and The Outlaws (with Ritchie Blackmore). "Catch a wave/ and you're riding on top of the world."

The novice narrative tells you that Surf was a local Cali scene that subsided. In reality, it was reflected worldwide and has never really stopped. Surf had liberated Rock in a way that chartwatchers and fadflits miss: it democratized Rock by lacking vocals and including world melody styles. It became a purely musical language beyond borders that could include anyone playing their music in its style. For every Cali band that imagined surfing in Mazatlan, Hawaii, and Bangalore, there were world acts likewise teeming with California dreaming.

Rolling in on the flip were The Spotnicks and The Noise Men (Sweden), The Twangies (Indo-Rock from the Netherlands), The Skyliners (Belgium), Les Crescendos (Canada), and Los Sleepers (Mexico). The Ventures had as much impact on Japan as The Beatles would everywhere else, inspiring the 'Group Sounds' guitar bands like The Spiders, The Quests, The Pinky Chicks, and The Golden Cups. Spain cruised the slews with Equipe 84, Los Sirex, Los Continentales, and 4 Jets.

Surf also advanced Rock in another way. Like Jazz and Bluegrass before it, Surf brought chops, speed, and diversification through an exploratory instrumental style. (Psychedelia would extend this as a response to Free Jazz.) It amplified and intensified Rock pace and power into a fierce surge beyond the gallop of Rockabilly, mapping the course for every single harder Rock form that would follow.

The Beach Boys and Annette Funicello

But if instros set the mood, vocals set the scene. The tides of Surf really broke nationally when The Beach Boys and Jan & Dean wrote Pop postcards about the surfari. The harmony hooks and slang lyrics pulled in the popular imagination with dreams of this sunshine fantasia. One deeply profound sea change from this financial windfall was the recentralizing of the recording industry from New York to Los Angeles. There, in sunbaked new studios, young upstarts like producer Phil Spector and Brian Wilson pipelined hits like the tides, with the brilliant L.A. session mob "The Wrecking Crew". They inspired and competed with each other with classics at a ferocious clip.

The torrents tumbled laterally. Spector's astute arranger Jack Nitzsche literally scored a hit with the majestic "The Lonely Surfer" (1963). He wasn't the only composer so inspired. Surf had become a whirlpool of stinging echo guitar, tribal rhythms, Spanish flamenco inflections, Latin claves, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern and Polynesian melodies, and often intense horns. It was cinematic and cosmopolitan in ways that film and TV composers quickly channeled.

In London, former Rock/Jazz combo leader John Barry tersed up this heady mix into his first film scores. His bold move of placing Vic Flick's severe Surf lead upfront gave the JAMES BOND films their cutting edge. Quick on his wave was Ennio Morricone, who deconstructed all of these new pop influences into a darker avant tsunami of his own. His textural and experimental scores for the Italian westerns and thrillers ricocheted with the hard clang (and whistle) of Alessandro Alessandroni; from NAVAJO JOE and THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY, to DANGER: DIABOLIK and ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST.

Surf's success opened the floodgates of beach movies, often starring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon, which projected the technicolor fantasy to every shore, and included guest performances by hit Pop artists. The GIDGET books and films led to the TV series starring newcomer Sally Field. [The trend of combing beach culture continued into later films like AMERICAN GRAFITTI (set in Cali 1962), FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, POINT BREAK, and BLUE CRUSH; and TV shows like Magnum P.I., Miami Vice, Baywatch, and Laguna Beach.]

Women have been part of every form of Rock and consistantly been ignored like they weren't. In truth, one of the very first Surf songs to break was Kay Bell And The Tuffs' "(The Original) Surfer Stomp" (1961). And like their brothers, plenty of vocal groups like The Honeys, The Beach Girls, and The Powder Puffs blitzed the spritz.

But women played Surf music, too. 13-year-old Kathy Marshall tore it up in clubs as guitarist for Eddie And The Showmen but she was never recorded.> Lead guitarist Chiyo Ushi at least got that shot with The Crescents' "Pink Dominos". Germany's Peter Reese And The Pages featured Helga Gwiasta on Fender Jazzmaster. And all-female bands rode toes on the nose, as well: The Pleasure Seekers (with teenaged Patti and Suzi Quatro) caroused the proto-Garage classic "What A Way To Die" (1964); The Continental Co-ets' reverberated with "I Don't Love You No More"; and the great Char Vinnedge's lead snarl fueled The Luv'd Ones' surfstrumental "Scratchy".

Dick Dale and Stevie Wonder

Surf floated all boats. Soul songs by The Isley Brothers, The Mad Lads, Dee Dee Sharpe, and Johnny Otis crashed the splash. Duane Eddy's "Your Baby's Gone Surfin'", Hal Blaine's "Dance To The Surfing Band" and Al Casey's "Surfin' Hootenanny" were all actually sung by the dynamic Darlene Love And The Blossoms. There were covers of The Beach Boys by The Tymes, The Orions, and The Supremes. And the osmosis was fluid, as The Trashmen's classic hit "Surfin' Bird" was a combined cover of The Rivingtons' "Papa Oom Mow Mow" and "The Bird's The Word".

Riding the wave were albums like "Bo Diddley's Beach Party" (1963), "Freddy King Goes Surfin'" (1963), and the compilation "Look Who's Surfin' Now" (1964) featuring surf songs by James Brown, Albert King, and King Curtis. In 1964, Little Stevie Wonder raised some sand performing in the movies MUSCLE BEACH PARTY and BIKINI BEACH, and with his "Stevie At The Beach" album. And young Jimi Hendrix took some initial lessons from Dick Dale (both lefties who played their flipped guitars with strings unreversed).

The outmoded narrative is that '50s Rock imploded in 1959 and was resurrected by the British Invasion five years later. In reality, Rock had kept going worldwide on into the early '60s>, and was bouyed by Soul, Girl Groups, and Doo Wop. But it was the ferocity of guitar-driven Surf rock that most carried the movement into that transition. Surf music peaked commercially with the advent of The Beatles, but its ongoing tides have whitecapped through Rock to the present day.

2) Tsunami: 1962 To Today

This Music Player contains six decades of music influenced by Surf Rock, including:

The Beatles, John Barry, Stevie Wonder, Bobby Fuller, TV themes, The Yardbirds, The Who, Ennio Morricone, Love, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, The Stooges, Incredible Bongo Band, The Damned, Blondie, Ramones, The B-52's, Radio Birdman, X, Dead Kennedys, The Go-Go's, Jesus And Mary Chain, Sonic Youth, Pixies, L7, Man Or Astro-Man?, The Raveonettes, Chicks On Speed, and La Luz!

Spotify playlist title=
SURF ROCK Disiciples: 1962-Today
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*(This Player is limited to the first 200 songs.
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This second Music Player covers the influence of Surf Music on music, soundtracks, and culture, from 1962 to the present.


Surf had rescued Rock'n'Roll.

It brought back its guitar edge coupled with more power and speed, more chops, and more melodic range.

The Beatles.

This morphed quickly sideways into drag race songs, strip joint grinders, and metallic space shanties. But it also continued to peel out in in the songs of its peers. It underlines The Beatles' "I Feel Fine" and "Back In The U.S.S.R.", The Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", and The Yardbirds' "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago", as well as songs by L.A. bands like Love and The Monkees. Many bands got their start as Surf bands first, such as The Crossfires who became The Turtles.

It is the running roar in the garage rock of The 13th Floor Elevators, The Chob, The Purple Underground, Los Holy's (Peru), and The Easybeats (Australia).

It continued cruising the world with mid-'60s acts like Los Johnny Jets (Mexico), Los Yorks (Peru), Le Mini Coopers (France), Les Kangourous (Canada), Takeshi Terauchi And The Bunnies (Japan), The Invaders, (South Africa), Kriptons (Angola), Les Krakmen (Congo), Os Rebeldes (Portugal), Los Four Star (Bolivia), and The Golden Ring (Iran).

Helen dancing in joyful abandon

It kicked out in soundtracks like the scores of Ennio Morricone and Piero Piccioni, and the classic "Jaan Pehechan Ho" from Bollywood's GUMNAAM (1965); and snarled gnarly in classic TV show themes like "The Munsters", "Secret Agent", Neil Hefti's "Batman", and of course Morgan Stevens' "Hawaii 5-O" as played by The Ventures.

Surf tubed from drag race into the brutal fuzz of Davie Allan's biker movie anthems, like the classic "Blue's Theme" (1967).

Pink Floyd; Jimi Hendrix.

It thrived into interstellar overdrive via Syd Barrett's alien surf in Pink Floyd's "Lucifer Sam" (1967), and deepdove into the underwater expressionism of Jimi Hendrix's "1983... (A Merman I Should Turn To Be)".

It bombed the bomboras inside the piledriving ferocity of riff bands like MC5, The Stooges, and Pink Fairies.

In the '70s, it caught air from The Incredible Bongo Band to Barrabas (Spain), from The Raspberries' harmonies to the signature Duane Eddy-style riff of Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run".

Radio Birdman; The Zeros.

Surf's deluge force spunks up Punk with Radio Birdman's "Aloha Steve And Dan-O" (Australia), the speed and bang of the Ramones' cover of "California Sun" (1977), and the bent Alex Chilton. Having taught a generation to play, it stagedives notably in L.A. Punk bands like The Zeros, The Gears, The Last, and The Surf Punks.

It is the angry insect salvos of The B-52's magnificent Ricky Wilson on "Private Idaho" and Peter Gunn-rewrite "Planet Claire", and irrigates the fetish psychobilly of Poison Ivy for The Cramps.

Keeping the focal local in the early '80s were California bands like the hardcore Dead Kennedys, Fear, Agent Orange, and Black Flag; and revivalists like Jon And The Nightriders, The Barracudas, The Go-Go's, and The BusBoys (who naturally flipped the trip with "Soul Surfin' USA").

By its name, how could New Wave not be Surf turf, as reflected in songs by Romeo Void and The Motels, the tart parody in Suburban Lawns' "Gidget Goes To Hell", the ringing guitar and Burundi drums of Bow Wow Wow, and the Morricone majesty of Marco Perroni on Adam Ant's "Desperate, But Not Serious"?

Surf hopped the chops with the rapidfire and rippling dynamics of Speed Metal (mid-'80s); and the late '80s neo-garage of Love And Rockets, Jesus And Mary Chain, and the criminally underrated Joey Santiago's essential leads for Pixies, who covered The Surftones' 1964 "Cecilia Ann".

In the '90s, Man Or Astro Man, The Trashwomen, and the latter day Russian satellites Laika & the Cosmonauts presaged the fullblown resurgence of Surfmania when Quentin Tarantino used Dick Dale's "Miserlou" in his 1994 film PULP FICTION (because it reminded him of Morricone scores). This rip-currented Dick Dale back into currency, along with Surf revivalists like The Mermen, Los Straitjackets, and The Aqua Velvets. Like many other timeless musical styles (labeled Retro by the shallow), Surf returned with a new rise of unironic and exploratory acolytes, which continues unabated with acts like Lost Acapulco, The Woggles, and Mach Kung Fu (Japan).

And like a roundhouse cutback, surfer grrrls are kicking any hoser 'bros' out of the ocean now. Surf dapples brightly in varied acts like The Neptunas, Susan And The Surftones, Baby Horror (Spain), 54 Nude Honeys (Japan), Chicks On Speed, Electrocute, Best Coast, The She's, Peach Kelli Pop, La Luz, and Baby Shakes.

Whether it's the rough Garage of Guitar Wolf (Japan), Dex Romweber Duo, and The Kills, or more abstractly with Dengue Fever, La Femme (France), and Curtis Harding, Surf still 360s for 12/365.

The Silver Surfer,
created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby:
the Static Shock cartoon series.

Surf made Rock'n'Roll roar. It gave swerve to its swagger, rush to its rumble. It gave it sea legs to sail out into the unknown. And its riptides still underscore music, fashion, slang, sports, and sun culture to this day. When was the last time you used the terms Dude, Awesome, For Sure, Bro', Bitchin', Dork, Gnarly, Rad, or Wipe Out? Probably your last tweet. And then there's skateboarding, windsurfing, and snowboarding...

Courtney Conlogue.

That surging rise you're feeling is the roiling, fluid power of Surf guitar. Long may it clang!

© Tym Stevens

See also:

-1950s PUNK: Sex, Thugs, and Rock'n'Roll!

-CHUCK BERRY: The Guitar God and His Disciples

-BO DIDDLEY: The Rhythm King and His Disciples

-The Pedigree of PETER GUNN

-The Legacy of LOUIE LOUIE

-JOHN BARRY: The Influence Of The JAMES BOND Sound On Pop Music

Friday, May 13, 2016

JOHN BARRY: The Influence Of The JAMES BOND Sound On Pop Music

How John Barry's James Bond sound
influences decades of popular music
2 thunderballing Music Players!

"You only live twice / Or so it seems /
One life for yourself and one for your dreams."

The great film composer JOHN BARRY lives on doubly in the lifetime of great music he gave us and in the galaxy of artists who have homaged him for six decades.

Here's two Music Players and essays to prize his sound and sing his praises.

Music Player Quick Links:
1) JOHN BARRY: a musical career overview
2) JOHN BARRY's Rock Disciples and the James Bond sound

Each Music Player is in chronological order, from the '50s to the present.

1) The music of John Barry

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John Barry was the Man.

In the early '60s he usurped Henry Mancini's mantle as the hip film composer of choice. Mancini had straddled an odd space between soothing sounds and hipster lounge culture. He could knock out the eerie lullaby of "Charade" or "The Days of Wine and Roses" for the straights, and crank out the tipsy joy of "Baby Elephant Walk" and the sly jazz of "The Pink Panther" for the fingerpoppers. But it was his score for the 1959 TV detective series, "Peter Gunn", that clued him to the youth. With its jazzy nocturnal strolls through the hardboiled cool of wet streets and nightclubs it gripped them by the scruff and the hips. It may even have undone him. A stringslinger named Duane Eddy, "the Twang Bar King", covered its theme as a Rock'n'Roll instrumental, surpassing the original so much that most folks think it is the original. It also became the prototype for Henry's emerging challenger.

John Barry was trying to make it in London as a bandleader of a combo that belted out Rockabilly, Swing Jazz and light Pop for dancehalls. He conducted by trumpet like jazzers but had an eye for the emerging phenomenon of Rock. As an arranger he could absorb the styles of the day and craft canny showpieces for his John Barry Seven. There's even a live album with teen girls squeeling at every brass blast-off. But there is already a sense that Pop was too limiting for him, that he had something grander to say and needed a new canvas to express it. The first indication came with a track called "Bees Knees", as the Seven's signature macho brass fanfares click with a hard clanging guitar lead. Soon, John discovered a guitarist named Vic Flick, whose ringing reverb crystallized the heart of where he was heading.

Their vehicle was the theme song for the 1960 British film, BEAT GIRL. This overlooked gem is the moment he became the Man. With Vic's terse tremolo, the jazz drums, and the striding tides of brass, it distills his future in a minute-and-forty-one seconds. Perfect. He continued to refine this sound on subsequent instrumentals, counterpointing Vic with pizzicato strings and trumpet codas.

And then the big break came. He was asked to supplement Monte Norman's calypso score for the first film based on a popular spy novel series. John created "The James Bond Theme" for the opening credits. Vic's guitar, straight out of the pioneering Rock of Duane Eddy and Surf king Dick Dale>, hit the screen and the audience like a full clip. It defined the flinty cool of Bond instantly, and assured Barry's ascension into the film pantheon. Though an obvious extension of his work on BEAT GIRL, to his chagrin the tune was eternally credited to Monte Norman(!). John had his restitution when he was selected to score the entirety of all the Bond films to follow. His sound proved more defining to the character than even the actors who would portray him. At last he had the outsized, sophisticated canvas he needed.

Jane Birken and John Barry

Until that time, film scores had been descendants of Classical music; big orchestras that underscored every moment of film with swelling eddies of sound. This began to change in the '50s with the increasingly experimental textures of Bernard Herrmann (Hitchcock's VERTIGO) and the pop savvy of Mancini. Barry synthesized these advances and intensified them. His was a world of strong, immediately memorable melodies reiterated as tonal themes, honed by his Pop days. He played with dynamics of silences, murmurings, and crescendos. There was an unapologetic boldness to his arrangements that was loud, sometimes abrasive, and triumphant. Very Rock'n'Roll, very Space Age, very erotic, very modern. He trysted dark cellos with crashing brass, merging Classical and Jazz into an edgy, elegant majesty, like "Bolero" meets "Harlem Nocturne". As locales changed in each Bond film he gleefully absorbed world musics into his arrangements. Here Koto strings, there Ragtime piano. Here delicate elegies, there screaming Clavioline organ. With the tensions of his sounds he captured the contemporary ambivalence about sensuality and violence, compassion and passion's folly. Mister Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

John Barry's grip on the pulse of the times made him the Man. If he was the hero of the era, then Ennio Morricone was the anti-hero, the deconstruction worker inverting and subverting it all. But John had grip. He expanded into many sounds over many films while always maintaining his melodic and dark lustrous sensibility. In the latter end of his career, he made albums for himself of contemplative beauty or trinkling bebop, like someone who has done it so well he disn't have to prove anything to anyone but himself.

2) The Massive Influence Of

This Music Player contains six decades of music influenced by John Barry, including:

The Beatles, Movie and TV Theme Songs, Johnny Cash, Pink Floyd, Roy Budd, Paul McCartney, Alice Cooper, Blondie, Devo, New Order, The Cure, The Delmonas, XTC, John Zorn, Portishead, Garbage, Fatboy Slim, Goldfrapp, Dengue Fever, Chris Cornell, Adele, Jack White, and Sharon Jones!

Spotify playlist title=
JOHN BARRY: James Bond Disciples

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*(This Player is limited to the first 200 songs.
Hear the unlimited Playlist here.)

On His Majesty's Secret Service

What does this have to do with Rock, you ask? A great deal and much more.

Barry created a new kind of jet-age torch song for the Mod generation, which became hit pop songs. These bold songs required bold singers. Shirley Bassey set the standard for all to follow with a fearless blast on 1964's GOLDFINGER which easily matched his horn bombast. Tom Jones reportedly went so far for glory on THUNDERBALL that he nearly passed out holding that last triumphant note! But Barry could blow cool as well as hot, such as the serene calm Nancy Sinatra brought to the immortal YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1968). His declarative brass, slinky ballads, and aching melodies haunt everyone in his wake, beyond time or genre.

His dynamic crescendos especially set the standard for his rivals and successors. This defiantly over-the-top blast invigorated great scores and Rock songs. The breathless bravado of THE BIG GUNDOWN by rival Ennio Morricone owes as much to Barry as it does to Elmer Bernstein's galloping western scores, with singer Christy sounding like she's sprinting across the desert with a message burning her tongue. Paul McCartney brought real Rock swagger and some Reggae saunter into LIVE AND LET DIE (1972); the underrated score was actually by George Martin, but their inspiration was Barry's template. Chris Cornell, Public Enemy, Jack White, Alice Cooper, all have rocked out on the momentum of his piledriving cues.

The generation that grew up on these films and pop hits reflected it in the decades to come. John Barry's dynamic sound has seeded through Rock anthems, Pop ballads, HipHop samples, and TripHop headscapes. The attached music player above tours all of that by comparing John's songs to the songs that were inspired by him (and a few songs that inspired him first). Here's a checklist of the party guests...


Barry created the sound of action cinema for the entire decade.

The spy craze set off by Bond canonized Barry's sounds in countless theme songs. Movies like the MATT HELM and FLINT series, MODESTY BLAISE, FATHOM, and endless imitations worldwide. And TV shows like "The Avengers", "The Saint", "The Man and Girl From U.N.C.L.E.", "I Spy", "Danger Man (a.k.a., Secret Agent)", "The Prisoner", "Mission: Impossible", "Jonny Quest", "Lancelot Link", and "Get Smart". Even the modern descendants of these, whether "Alias" or "The Venture Brothers", retain the echoes of his touch.


The Surf guitar sound, paved by The Ventures, Duane Eddy, and Dick Dale, had inspired the hard guitar clang of the Bond theme. And in its wake, the Bond theme inspired an entire sub-genre of spy theme surf songs that continues to this day: you can hear in it The B-52s, Man Or Astro Man?, Laika And The Cosmonauts, The Mermen, and The Aqua Velvets.


James Bond was so influential on mass culture that the spy sound pervaded general Pop. The brassy power of Barry and Bassey is especially intense in British Soul sirens, in songs like "The Silencers" by Patti Seymour, "Untrue, Unfaithful (That Was You)" by Nita Rossi, "I've Been Wrong Before" by Cilla Black, and "I Know You Love Me Not" by Julie Driscoll.


James Bondage also shimmied through Soul music, with such hits as "Agent Double-O-Soul" by Edwin Starr, "Sock It To 'Em, J.B." by Rex Garvin, and namechecks in Shorty Long's "Function At the Junction".


There is a funny connection between James Bond and The Beatles over the years. This makes perfect sense, because the smash succcess of the Bond films transformed the British image into hyper-cool modernity overnight, and set the avalanche in motion for the British Invasion soon after.

-In GOLDFINGER (1964), Sean Connery makes a flip joke insulting them.

-An action sequence in The Beatles' HELP (1965) is underscored by a short orchestral burst imitating the Bond theme.

-When John Barry was too busy to score LIVE AND LET DIE (1972), the baton was picked up by Beatles producer George Martin who enlisted Paul McCartney for the theme. To his chagrin, the clueless film producers treated it like a demo and started casting about for a standard balladeer to sing it. Martin politely put his foot down. Paul's Oscar -nominated theme is one of the best-loved and most covered Bond themes ever.

-Barbara Bach reached international fame in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977) and then marred Ringo Starr. Carly Simon's sultry theme "Nobody Does It Better" for this film is firmly in the tradition of McCartney ballads like "My Love".

-"You Only Live Twice" was covered by an '80s Mod calling herself Eleanor Rigby.

-Showing there's no hard feelings, Sean Connery ended up narrating a version of "In My Life" on George Martin's retirement album.

-In QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2008) Bond meets an agent who insists on being called Miss Fields; it's only on the end credits that we learn her first name is Strawberry.


McCartney's theme was nominated for an Oscar and sold like crazy. The producers moved in the direction of dollars by enlisting the hottest artists of any given moment, like Sheena Easton, Rita Coolidge, Duran Duran, A-Ha, and Madonna.

There are special stand-outs along the way. The Pretenders delivered two sadly unsung classics for THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS (1987) with "Where Has Everybody Gone" and "If There Was A Man". LICENSE TO KILL (1989) has an equally unheralded and soulful performance by Gladys Knight. Garbage was so into recreating Barry's signature sound that they made a brilliant spy video to accompany THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH (1999). Chris Cornell channels Bassey and Tom Jones in CASINO ROYALE (2006) with his "You Know My Name". And Jack White and Alicia Keyes roar through "Another Way To Die" for QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2008).


Moon River> Goldfinger> Moonraker> Goldeneye> Goldmember

There's a funny pretzel loop involving the theme for GOLDFINGER (1964), immortalized by Shirley Bassey. At the time it was so noted for its sonic resemblance to Henry Mancini's "Moon River" that it was often called "Moonfinger". Later, John Barry scored the Bond film MOONRAKER (1979), which was perversely sung by Shirley Bassey. Bono and The Edge were clearly homaging "Goldfinger" in writing the theme for GOLDENEYE (1995), sung by Tina Turner in her best Bassey belt-out. Eventually the telephone game loses its mind. Though Austin Powers goes up against GOLDMEMBER (2002), the movie actually homages 70's action films; so Beyonce's theme completely loses the plot by combining two songs by KC And The Sunshine Band!


When Bondmania hit, an Italian journalist nicknamed the lascivious spy 'Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang'. Barry liked this phrase enough to create a song for THUNDERBALL (1965). It was meant for Shirley Bassey but then went to Dionne Warwick. The brass worried about a song lacking the film title, the Tom Jones theme was used instead, and Dionne's recording was released 30 years later. An Italian spy knock-off, "BACIA E SPARA" (1966) was renamed "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" in American release, with a score by the great Bruno Nicolai. KISS KISS BANG BANG has been used to name two comedies since, including the terrific noir spoof with Robert Downey Jr (2005). It has also been the name of original songs by Nitzer Ebb, Specimen, The Celibate Rifles, and Cinerama. And a collection of film essays by Pauline Kael because it is "perhaps the briefest statement imaginable of the basic appeal of movies."


Many artists pitched great songs for Bond films that got rejected.

These were alternate original songs that are just as cool for their own sake; Johnny Cash's "THUNDERBALL", Alice Cooper's "THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN", Blondie's 'FOR YOU EYES ONLY", Scott Walker's "Only Yourself To Blame" for THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, and a raft of TOMORROW NEVER DIES original songs by Pulp, Saint Etienne, Marc Almond, The Cardigans, and Swan Lee.

And sometimes an artist makes a song in the vein of the Bond/ Barry sound for their own pleasure. New Order's "Blue Monday" (1983) owes as much to Vic Flick's treble as to Duane Eddy. A particular unknown delight is Lori & The Chameleons' "The Lonely Spy" (1981).


And then there's always a great cover.

Just marvel at the terrific cover of "Goldfinger" by postpunk pioneers Magazine! "You Only Live Twice" has been done by Marc Almond, Coldplay, and Bjork, and sampled by Robbie Williams and Cee-Lo Green. John Barry was lucky to have his hero Louis Armstrong perform "We Have All the Time In the World" for ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE before his passing; this song has been covered by My Bloody Valentine, Fun Lovin' Criminals, and even a tender take by Iggy Pop. Arctic Monkeys and Kanye West have tried on "Diamonds Are Forever". The first cover of "Live and Let Die" was actually on its own soundtrack, with a Funky Soul version by B.J. Arnau; we see her performing it in a New Orleans bar in the film. Linda McCartney had suggested a Reggae middle section, which triggered a Reggae cover by Byron Lee & The Dragoniares, who had done Calypso songs for the first Bond film, DR. NO (1962). And it became the signature song of Guns'n'Roses. In Radiohead's cover of "Nobody Does It Better" they pronounced it the sexiest song ever written.


And then there's cloning.

Though Barry hasn't done the Bond music for two decades, his hand-picked successor David Arnold has done near-flawless homages for the past dozen years. Likewise, pastiches of Barry run through AUSTIN POWERS and brilliantly in Michael Giacchino's score for THE INCREDIBLES.


And then there's sampling.

Barry's riffs and moods have been sampled by Moby, Public Enemy, House Of Pain, and The Prodigy. Propellerheads took their whole Big Beat easthetic from Barry, even enlisting Shirley Bassey for their dance hit "History Repeating" (1998), as well as remixing an amped ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE. This earned them the clout to throwdown in the score for TOMORROW NEVER DIES (1997). Fatboy Slim took the key guitar riff of John's breakthrough "Beat Girl" as an essential part of his breakthrough, "The Rockefeller Skank". ("Right about now, the Funk Soul Brother, check it out now..!")

Portishead, "To Kill A Dead Man"


And then there's TripHop.

In the '90s, Barry's atmospheric darkness and propulsive rhythms influenced a new wave of edgy dance music with cinematic arrangements. Many acts lopped under the TripHop umbrella took inspiration from film composers like Barry, Lalo Shifrin, Roy Budd, Angelo Badalamenti, and Ennio Morricone.

Portishead made their breakthrough with a longform video called "To Kill a Dead Man", which combined the style of Bond films with the anti-Bond grit of Michael Caine's 'Harry Palmer' spy series. Their sound sampled from the dark shadows of Barry and Shifren. Likewise, Mono's big hit "Life In Mono" uses the creepy harpsichord of Barry's THE IPCRESS FILE as its hook. Similarly, Goldfrapp, Barry Adamson, Tricky, Sneaker Pimps, Hooverphonic, David Holmes, Blue States, and Massive Attack have haunting refrains of Barry in their cinematic dance themes.


And then there's the real thing. When Jarvis Cocker of Pulp curated the 2007 Meltdown Festival, he had a philharmonic night celebrating Barry, with both of them performing together. A proper tribute to a proper man.

This sadly is the end of our hero, who passed away in 2011, but John Barry will return in some other group dear to your heart. Until then, "Live one life for yourself/ And one for your dreams."

© Tym Stevens

See Also:

-THE PRISONER: Its Influence On Music, TV, and Comics, with Music Player

-TWIN PEAKS: It's Influence On 25 Years of Popular Culture, with 5 Music Players

-How SPAGHETTI WESTERNS Revolutionized Rock Music! , with 3 Music Players

-How STAR WARS Is Changing Everything!

- THE CANON 1: 50 Books That Created Modern Culture, with Music Player
- THE CANON 2: 50 More Books That Created Modern Pop Culture, with Music Player
- THE CANON 3: 50 Recent Books That Created Modern Culture, with Music Player

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Pedigree of PETER GUNN

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The Pedigree of PETER GUNN

"Louie Louie" is a riff that underlines the whole history of Rock'n'Roll, and "Peter Gunn" shadows it on the same trail.

It was created by unusual supsects who would become the world's most wanted. Writer/director Blake Edwards created the 1958 TV show, bringing in Henry Mancini to compose the themes, who cloaked the worldly detective in a jazz-noir score of torrid sax and motor engine riffs. (They went on to make their fame with the Pink Panther films.) The pianist on the sessions was future film composer John Williams.>

It was a surprisingly sophisticated and yet street-lethal score for the fresh new world of television. In fact, with its liberal use of West Coast free jazz, it opened the door for using Jazz in movies and television from then on. The bestselling soundtrack became a hinge into modern jazz for mainstream audiences. And its fusion of dramatic intrigue and brashly sensual bop created the Crime/Spy Jazz sound, paving the grooves for the soundtracks of James Bond and all his clones.

More immediately, it captured the dangerous allure of the modern city in the fantasies of young people nationwide.

Craig Stevens (r), starring as Private Eye "Peter Gunn".

Most of all, it was the power of that striding strain that arrested their attention. "Peter Gunn Theme" was the sound of walking cocky, punching felons, chasing roadsters, talking cool, and entangling hot. It was steamy and unseemly, a grinding prowl, a hungry stare, a hip-grinding dance. It was the entirety of the forbidden side of adulthood that teenagers ached to have. "The Peter Gunn title theme actually derives more from rock and roll than from jazz," Mancini clarified.

Rock'n'Roll guitarist Duane Eddy snuck his way into the club first. His twang-bar style, with its extra heavy reverb, amped the walking bassline into a tougher strut on his 1959 cover version. While Mancini's was sassy horns swinging in a hot nightspot, Eddy's was horny young nightowls on the prowl down midnight tarmac. At least in teen fantasies, it was a sidedoor into the sleazy twilight underworld they longed to slink into. The hard clang instrumentals of Duane Eddy and Link Wray ushered in Dick Dale and Surf guitar, which kept the edgy heart of Rock'n'Roll alive into the British Invasion.

Duane Eddy; Sarah Vaughan; Dick Dale.

Beyond simply the riff, the moody sound evoked by Eddy mutated into a shroud of instant atmosphere. For instance, the mid-60's English bands The Lost Souls ("This Life Of Mine") and The Syndicats ("Crawdaddy Simone") aren't playing "Gunn" specifically, but their songs are clearly rewrites of its chords and sound. Same thing for instrumentals by Freddie King ("Hide Away") and James Brown ("The Scratch"). When The Monkees broke free of their producer to play on their own records, the first thing they tried was a shambling pastiche called "Peter Gunn's Gun". Its status as a standard in any upstarts' repertoire carried it through the rehearsal holes of the world. Somebody somewhere would always don its instant cool, no matter whether honest or bootleg. Jazz queen Sarah Vaughn sang a lyrical version called "Bye, Bye" in '64. Dick Dale, Jimi Hendrix, and myriad garage bands donned its trenchcoat for some midnight rambling.

In the 70's, as rock began rebelling against its overblown indulgences, the tight riff became crucial. It was like cutting to the chase with a switchblade. Boston's Jonathan Richman had admired the lethal lyrics and blunt buzz of the Velvet Underground; he and the Modern Lovers trawled the city's dusky deadends in Peter Gunn's roadster in 1974's "Pablo Picasso". (This song is most remembered for its immortal lines, "Pablo Picasso was never called an a$$hole/ not like you.") His terse hum would soon transport punks.

X-Ray Spex; The Cramps; The B-52's.

For punkers, this edgy sordid nightscape was their reality. It became a theme song where the usual suspects were now the heroes. You can detect it in the surging buzz of X-Ray Spex's "The Day the World Turned Day-Glo" in '78. The Cramps crimped that stalking stocatto for their mix of pychobilly, garage, and horror movies by mutating it into 1979's "Human Fly". Duane's rival, the original psychobilly Link Wray, sprungload it with new edge in his "Switchblade", with punkabillies nodding in approval. The B-52's relay that riff into an alien signal via throbbing satellite with 1979's "Planet Claire", cut through with the stabbing clang of silver surfer Ricky Wilson.

The Blues Brothers; Nina Hagen; REPO MAN soundtrack.

The BLUES BROTHERS movie (1980) may have done more to expose the song to a new generation that any other source; their version is fueled by the guitar of Steve Cropper and bass of Duck Dunn, of the legendary Booker T And The MG's. Conversely, out in some bleak no man's land, Bruce Springsteen hears it on his dashboard as "Mr. State Trooper", burning through the ebon byways with some bad menace in his heart. His stripped down acoustic seethes like a harrowing confession before something terrible happens. Also in 1982, German alien Nina Hagen germinated the riff with Captain Beefheart's rasp, quotes of Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust", and cascades of cosmic clang and shrill in "Iki Maska".

The title theme of the 1984 REPO MAN film, by Iggy Pop, has definite treadmarks of Peter's ride. To underscore the point, fellow acolytes Burning Sensations repo-ed Richman's carriage, putting a Duane Eddy kit on it in their "Pablo Picasso" cover for the same movie. This version is so popular that many thought it was the original.

The shamus haunts the darks of Bauhaus' "Hair Of The Dog", Front 242's "Body To Body", and L7's "Uncle Bob". Grandmaster Flash and Tthe Furious 5 flipped fresh spin on the theme with "Style (Peter Gunn's Theme)", where Flash honed back in on the horn riffs. The British Art Of Noise chopped that HipHop with some orchestral flourish, congas, and the hard twanging strut of the actual Duane Eddy himself in their "Peter Gunn", an alternative dance smash in 1986. Aussie rebels Midnight Oil called in the lawman's ghost to bust its country's guilty conscience over issues of Aboriginal land-rights with "Beds Are Burning", with the riff's phantom flickering through their 1988 breakthrough hit. (There's also brief chops of Chuck Berry's "Little Queenie" in there, too.)

The TWIN PEAKS soundtrack by Angelo Badalamenti.

Much of Mancini's original score haunted Angelo Badalamenti's brilliant music for the TWIN PEAKS TV series (1990); the clanging reverb takes possession of the title theme, while the fingersnapping hipster jazz tunes take their cues from Mancini tracks like "Brief and Breezy". Poison Ivy, the axe-slinging dominatrix of The Cramps, claims to own about every cover of "Peter Gunn" ever made; she puts her stiletto all the way through the floorboards in her ultimate version. Covertly, Peter dogs the footsteps of '90s era songs by Living Colour, Diamanda Galas, and The A-Bones.

England's vastly underrated Elastica, known for their chop shop tricks, trysted Peter with The Beatles' "And I Love Her" for a scintillating twist in their fuzzy stomp, "Love Like Ours" (2000). Iggy & the Stooges refueled their reunion in 2003 cruising Peter's night haunts with "Skull Ring", skewering the mugging partystars and glampires who have gentrified his beat. It's the propulsive bassline of The Strokes' "Juicebox" (2005). On the eternal trail, the flatfoot still pounds the beat of The Come Ons, Los Explosibvos (Mexico), and Django Django.

Have riff, will travel. That memorable hook and the atmosphere that surrounds it always resonate beyond the moment, transporting anyone who ever hears it, and forging new paths into the future.

© Tym Stevens

See Also:

-The Legacy of LOUIE LOUIE

-Shock Waves: How SURF MUSIC Saved Rock'n'Roll!

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Legacy of LOUIE LOUIE

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The Legacy of LOUIE LOUIE

Sometimes a single song is the refrain. You can group music by genres or eras, but one song can tie all of them together. Or even one riff.

In 1957, Richard Berry created one of those. His ode to Jamaican love was inspired by a few surprising sources: a variant of a Cuban Mambo song called "Cha Cha Chá Loco", and Chuck Berry's "Havana Moon" (which had in turn responded to the brief Calypso boom after "Day-O" broke big). It was a regional hit around San Francisco and made its way into many West Coast 45" collections and jukeboxes. It had a lurching stairstep riff that kids had gone crazy for, one that stuck to your brain and feet.

Richard Berry; The Kingsmen.

Up in Seattle, where cold and rain made the emerging early '60s rock'n'roll courser, bands battled each other for supremacy in frats, bars, and proms. Someone latched onto "Louie Louie" and then everybody had to. But The Kingsmen stumbled into the studio first, one day before their rivals Paul Revere And The Raiders. In their haste, they didn't know it well enough. The singer slurred the words to hide it and his false starts after the bridge got left in. The riff lost a beat and became the classic 1-2-3/ 1-2, 1-2-3/ 1-2 that made it The Riff. That arresting combo of jang-ing riff and sloppy attitude built the Garage of the future. It also got them investigated by the FBI on suspicion of slipping obscenities into the unintelligle lyrics.

Great riff + Attitude + Controversy = cultural phenomenon.

In comes imitation and mutation, the catalyst of all culture. There's a moment in music where a riff becomes a general rhythm, and a bedrock for new songs.

It sure stuck in its originator's mind, because Richard Berry did one of the first clones of his own song with 1960's "Have Love Will Travel". His original was a splice, and now that the chords have now become standard chops in any band's repertoire, the re-splicing by his followers begins. East L.A. Mexican rockers The Premiers used the riff under their cover of a different song, "Farmer John". The Trashmen combined both songs openly as "Farmer Louie". The Bobby Fuller 4 medley-ed the two together right into their own clone, "Jenny Lee". Wayne Fontana And The Mindbenders' "The Game Of Love" trysted the Bo Diddley beat into the middle.

Meanwhile, Surf naturally caught the wave, such as "Surfin' Louie" by The Shockwaves and The Surfaris' "Go Go Go For Louie's Place". Fresh from "My Boyfriend's Back", the girl group The Angels went tough chick with it, even preserving the false start in harmony! The Wailers, The Raiders and The Who wrote sequels to it (The Raiders also got 'revenge' on their friends for the lost hit with "Just Like Me"). David Bowie's first recording was a cover of The Raiders' sequel, as Davie Jones And The King Bees (1964). Meanwhile, the Seattle scene was still on fire with the song in every band's repertoire; The Kingsmen's rivals, The Sonics, virtually invent garage rock and punk with a 1965 take so brutal, even the Sex Pistols would wince in admiration.

The Sonics; The Troggs; The Rolling Stones.

Now the covers have turned into clones and cousins.

The riff has now become so common that everyone went from a cover into new creations. The Drifers usher in a new standard with "Sweets For My Sweet". The Castaways pull a cover-up with "Liar Liar"; the Soul group The Vibrations scooped a baldfaced substitute as "My Girl Sloopy", and The Real McCoys inserted irony by covering the clone as "Hang On Sloopy".

In Boston patois, The Barbarians' drummer plied his hand with the hook in his autobiographical "Moulty". The Kinks tried to cover it and instead found "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All Of the Night", two new standards. As garage and pop started colluding on radio hits, The Rare Breed ("Beg, Borrow, and Steal"), The Troggs ("Wild Thing", another new standard), The Rolling Stones ("Get Off of My Cloud", another), The Remains ("Why Do I Cry"), and The Eyes ("I'm Rowed Out") heisted the Jamaican ship for new ports.

Culture is typically cyclical based on response, and a song that was first inspired by Mambo cha-cha-cha rhythms was in turn covered extensively in Spanish-speaking countries (including its clones) by acts like Los Loud Jets, Sonia, and The Sandpipers.

Julie London; Bob Dylan;
Toots And The Maytals.

From covers, to clones, to cousins, and finally to culture. At this point it became a free-for-all. An idea has become universal, and every response transforms it with new perspectives. It's everybody's party, and everybody has a part in it.

Quincy Jones did a jazz cover of a clone with "Hang On Sloopy". Conga god Mongo Santamaria sailed back to Cuba in his take on "Louie Louie". Torch damsel Julie London gave it a sultry shoreleave it will never forget. Ike & Tina Turner gave it an soulful shakedown at the Apollo while Otis Redding cruised it through Memphis.

It lazes under the bridge of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" by The Righteous Brothers. A twist on it rolls through Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone". It twined through Frank Zappa's work continously, including firing a guitarist when they couldn't play it. Quietly, the sing-song riff sways under The Rascals' "Good Lovin'", Erma Franklin's "Piece Of My Heart", and Tommy Roe's "Dizzy".

It was wham-bammed by Glam bands in the early '70s, of course. The funk-pop band Hot Chocolate familiarized it into their hit "Brother Louie". Toots & the Maytals brought it home to Jamaica in reggae stylee. It grooves under "Summer Days, Summer Nights" from the movie musical GREASE. Barry White got up close and personal with it. Stanley Clarke and George Duke funked around with it.

The Stooges; Lou Reed; Motorhead.

But the song never forgot its edge. The song had become less a riff and more of a shorthand writ of young swagger and rebel sneer. In the '70s and '80s it often took on a seedy and dangerous allure, continuing to kick against the pricks.

Garage rock had spat out the crazed stepchild, The Stooges. On a bootleg of their last gig in '74, Iggy Pop uses "Louie" as a frame to taunt his audience out of boozy complacency. One patron purportedly beans him with a beer bottle, which is the thump and buzzing mike heard at the end. Lou Reed's "Vicious" helped inspire Sid's name. The Clash lashed it and The Fall sneered it in concert in '77. Johnny Thunders stumbled through it on his way to the glass table.

"Louie Louie" was now being unfurled like a Jolly Roger. L.A. punks X flash glimmers of its sway within "We're Desperate". Some of its ghost can be traced in the swaying buzz of The Dickies' "You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla)". It was Motorhead's first single. Black Flag refuses surrender with it in 1981. "Love Sinks", by The J. Geils Band, is a revamp of it via "Wild Thing". Acts as diverse as D.R.I., Joan Jett, The Pretenders, The Fat Boys, The Ultra Magnetic MCs, Sisters of Mercy, and more shanghaied its course through the '80s. For Russian emigres Red Square it was a very real rejection of repression and a charter to deliverance.


Then it came full circle. From the hinterlands near Seattle, Kurt Cobain corrupted the chords into a splice with Boston's "More Than a Feeling" in 1991. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is a perfect summation of everything that made "Louie Louie" great in the first place: a kicking riff, a sloppy attitude, mysterious lyrics, and a combustible audience. Again, it had become the rallying cry for fun and foment, which is Rock'n'Roll incarnate. Perfect.

From culture into community. Ultimately, a riff becomes a communal experience, a rallying cry, a Morse-code beacon, a universal bond like the heartbeat; this is Us, this is home.

In 1993 Iggy Pop revolted from style back into sting, using the song to navigate modern protests and soul-searching. He said the song always steadies him when he goes off course. Likewise, the insanely prolific punk Billy Childish keelhauled it for a sequel with his garage band Thee Headcoats in '95: "Louie Louie (Where Did She Roam)" sets course for new shores in pursuit of that elusive island love. Which, beyond the riff and its attitude, may be the secret refrain of the song that haunts the memory; ache at the landlocked present and longing for an open future.

Great idea + varied response + shared experience = culture.

Culture is formed and maintained by the interchange of community; like the ocean, every current, crosscurrent, ebb, flow, swell, and wave remolds it while holding it together. "Louie Louie" is an undercurrent of raw Rock'n'Roll spirit driving the tides across time. It is ever-current, from Jane's Addiction, The A-Bones, and Blur, to The Black Keys, Boonaraas, Foxygen, and The Love Me Nots. Set course. Said we gotta go now.

"Okay, let's give it to 'em, right now!"
A-A-A, D-D, Em-Em-Em, D-D...

© Tym Stevens

See also:

-The Pedigree of PETER GUNN

-Shock Waves: How SURF MUSIC Saved Rock'n'Roll!