The Sixties. In England, Harold Wilson was Prime Minister. The Cold War was reaching its climax. The world seemed an insecure place but middle class teenagers were better off than in any previous generation. Unemployment was almost non-existent and if the politicians didn't blow us all up, the future seemed rosy.
And yet, it was a time of rebellion. At school, head teachers were telling boys to get their hair cut. In the streets we marched against the war in Vietnam. The Rolling Stones and other bands presented a rebellious image which delighted teenagers and upset parents. Smoking marijuana became commonplace. And we grew up to the greatest sountrack ever recorded. What a privilege it was to grow up in the early Sixties to the music of bands like the
The Beach Boys.
Later came the supergroups like
and in America the great West Coast bands --
Jefferson Airplane and
Country Joe and the Fish,
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention,
and so many, many others.
There were blues influenced groups like
Eric Clapton and
and Fleetwood Mac.
Black artists were creating the Motown sound and the Spector sound and Soul music reached a peak that it would never again achieve, with brilliant albums by the likes of
And, of course, there was
writing the lyrics of a generation.
A 70's generation of youth, rebelling against the tired old men of the sixties, produced the Punk era with some great bands like
and Siouxie and the Banshees.
The 1980s started off with anglicised reggae and ska sounds from Two Tone, with
Madness producing Top Ten hit after hit.
Blues and Rhythm and Blues singers had an enormous influence on many '60s bands, and it wasn't long before many of my generation were seeking out their records and listening to the originals of songs recorded by so many 60s bands. Impoverished black blues singers finally found the recognition they deserved and a few even made some money after decades of singing the blues. Here are links to some of my favourite blues singers. BB King,
Why not drop in at The Blue Flame Cafe which is dedicated to blues and blues artists.
Today, the Indie bands are carrying music forward, but they are too numerous to mention more than a few.
Some of my favourite Indie bands are on the 4AD label:
Other bands I like include:
As you can see I'm a bit behind the times but it's not very easy keeping up with the latest Indie music here in Greece and listening to John Peel on the BBC World Service is not an experience to be undertaken lightly.
These days I find myself listening mainly to classical music -- everything from mediaeval to early 20th century (except opera and organ music!!!). My favourite label is Naxos. For a few dollars or the equivalent in your local currency, you get at least an hour of music, often much more, beautifully recorded using the latest digital technology. Although most of the artists are unknown this does not mean that the recordings are inferior and many Naxos CDs have been praised by magazines like Gramaphone and Classic CD in the UK and Fanfare in the USA.
The Naxos web site is well worth a visit for information about classical music, composers and Naxos recordings. There are about 2,000 CDs in the Naxos catalogue. These cover all the main repertoire, lesser known pieces by the famous and music by little known composers. It's a great way to try out the unknown and the unusual without paying full-price.
For CD reviews the best site is Classical CD which has a database of 1,700 reviews online which you can search as well as all the usual information on composers, musical terminology, etc. Each month's new CD releases are listed by composer name.
Another excellent magazine now on line is Gramophone
which lists all the new classical CD releases under the name of each record company every month.
The best general site for classical music is Classical Net with over 2000 web pages packed with information on classical music and links to other sites.
There are many pages devoted to individual composers on the Internet. I found these two interesting:
Multimedia Beethoven Encyclopaedia,
The J.S. Bach Home Page,
Apart from Naxos, other record companies are also well-represented on the Internet and many of these sites have audio clips.
BMG: Classics World.