What's your musical foundation?

Discussion in 'Music and Recordings' started by yotacowboy, Jun 23, 2020.

  1. yotacowboy

    yotacowboy McRibs Kind of Guy

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    OK, so an obscure-ish favorite band of mine dropped an album after a 22-year hiatus and it got me thinking. I think this thread might be a work in progress for a bit, but the thought occurred to me if i were to pick an arbitrary number, what are the N albums that best define what I enjoy or think influenced my musical preferences in the greatest fashion? Fawk! that's a tough one!

    Maybe it's best to use this space to describe experiences, and not just albums?

    1) When I was 13, I asked my dad what kind of music I should listen to, and he handed me his stack of LPs from The Who. Shortly after this I got pretty good at transferring LPs to tape so I could listen to them on the school bus thru an AIWA cassette player (with Super Bass) and (eventually) a pair of Sony MDR-Wsomething headphones (the vertical IEM style headphones).

    2) I then found all my dad's Led Zeppelin vinyl. Instantly I fell in love with Jon Bonham's style and learned to play every Zep song from memory on my drum set. At this point, my family had taken a trip to NYC, and I convinced them to go to one of those "big" camera/electronic shops, and I got my first pair of Sony Eggos in NYC.

    3) Then there were a series of albums that convinced me that new music could be as exciting as old music: PJ Ten, Soundgarden Superunknown, PJ Versus, and Vitology. But, at the same time I half-lived on the local hip-hop stations, WPGC and KISS93.9. Finally I had a "stereo" of my own with my Aiwa all-in-one. I took apart the speakers to try and make a dual 5.25" woofer bandpass subwoofer. It didn't work.

    4) I got to highschool and most of my friends were either black or Vietnamese. we listened almost entirely to hip-hop. I think at this point I had moved back to Sony Walkmen and whatever the "fanciest" Eggo you could get was circa 1994-ish.
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________

    So i think This may jump around (and please, only the Pete Rock remix) a bit and some of the albums I reference may be more of a part of a corpus when mentioned and not explicitly line up in time, but the intent is to show how the gestalt frames my current fascinations. Anyhow...

    Hum came out with a new album this week, and it becomes important to me not because it's new music after 22 years, but because it's a band that after 22 years decided that they still had something to say.

    When I was a junior in HS, i was in a "rock band" i.e., some friends who liked playing loud music poorly together. At that time I was HUGE into The Smashing Pumpkins, our guitarist was more a Sebahdoh/Dinosaur Jr./Rush fan, while our bassist was 100% Jimmy Hendrix guy. Our other guitarist quit over "stylistic differences" because he thought Slash was the greatest guitarist ever. I objected (not that Slash wasn't a great guitarist) but that GNR had the most boring rhythm section than any other band in history. So Chris quit.

    Meanwhile, my high school decided to have their first ever Battle of the Rock Bands in the spring of 1995.

    So, should we send a tape in? What should we play?

    Setlist:
    1. Smashing Pumpkins, "Frail and Bedazzled"
    2. Rush, "YYZ"
    3. Hum, "Stars"
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________

    This was the first time we had ever tried to record ourselves. Hell, it was the first time I had tried to record anything outside of dubbing radio mixes to listen to on the school bus. I had a single omni mic from radio shack, and a compact all-in-one Aiwa stereo. Somehow we got that to work and we had a tape. We handed in the audition tape and hoped we wouldn't make the cut, 'cause we were all introverts. Unfortunately, we got picked out of 20 or so auditions to play in the final 5.

    growing up outside of DC, we had a Go-Go band play (with 3 drummers!!), a couple hip hop groups, and I think one other metal band, and us, playing. I think we tried to call our band "N/A" when we filled out the entry form, but the powers that be wouldn't allow that, so we called ourselves "Jedi Mind Trick".

    At the time I felt like we nailed the set, so we were in good spirits. But it was an absolutely incredible feeling for 17 year-old me to have all that apprehension and uncertainty wash away once the first 5 or so bars came off without a hitch; it was probably the first time I felt flow.

    After that experience, I didn't just like music as entertainment, it was like I sought out new music as a type of constant awakening. After battle of the bands, I realized that making music (even if you're just playing someone else's ideas) is about doing something to make other people happy (or sad, or just helping them feel something). I guess after a few years of playing in HS brass bands, symphonic wind ensembles, a "jazz" band, and marching band, i thought the performance of music was more of a task than anything else. playing a live show in a rock band completely changed that for me.

    Next up, Off to College...
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2020
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  2. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    It's a track listing from just one of the compilation albums I found on Amazon featuring records that were regularly played on the BBC request program Children's Favourites in the 1950s. There's a lot of even more old-fashioned stuff not featured. This, and my parent's collection of 78s from 40s and earlier, along with a dose of (mostly light) classical was my musical foundation.

    A mental snapshot of my childhood shows my favourite songs as The Yellow Rose of Texas, Catch a Falling Star, and the one I literally wore out, Island in the Sun.

    I mostly avoided the pop and rock music of the sixties, but chanced to hear Blows Against The Empire by Jefferson Starship, which changed my musical world. I remained fixated on mid-60s to mid-70s "serious" and psychedelic rock for a very long time. To some extent I still am.

    Now... South-Indian Classical.
     
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  3. wormcycle

    wormcycle Friend

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    I do not have musical foundation, I have always had what I would describe as a musical attention deficit disorder.
    My first music memory is listening outdoor to Edit Piaf from one of the few commercial stereo systems that were available at that time in Poland.
    Next is just a noise until I had a chance to hear The Rolling Stones, The Animals, and John Mayall life in Warsaw maybe 6 years later. That sent me into the direction of American blues and then I started listening to jazz, starting with Charlie Parker, Stan Getz , Gerry Mulligan. That was not easy, we did not have access to vinyl other than frigging Melodia or Supraphone, so it was mostly private gatherings with people who were able to travel to Western countries and brought back something interesting. I think we listened like 20 times to every good record we had which was maybe 100 all together, owned by probably 20 people. Except once a year during the international jazz festival in Warsaw and I had a chance to hear Coltrane, Stan Getz life etc..
    Classical music did not interest me at all but.. I had a girlfriend who was going to all concerts of the Chopin festival, the multiday piano competition, the boredom of which I cannot even describe, thanks God it was only every five years so I had to survive only one.
    I would also accompany her to chamber music concerts, and I could hear the best string quartets of that time. That was the first time classical music got my attention.
    Fast forward many, many years and chamber music is 80% of my listening time, German romantics up to Brahms, later Dvorak, Bartok, some of the first part of 20th century composers. That is the first time I can say I am really involved and focused on music.
    Aaron Copland book "What to Listen for in Music" had a huge influence on me and my, mediocre as its, understanding of music.
     
  4. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    I know this thread is supposed to focus on the music, but in this long ramble I'm going to mention gear quite a bit too, as the gear that was available to me through my musically-formative years determined what I was able to listen to.

    What must have been among my earliest exposures (mid 60s) was a 45 of the Byrds' version of Pete Seeger's "Turn, Turn, Turn", played on one of those plastic-lunchbox portable turntables. Having it played for me was usually prompted by my refusal to eat whatever disgusting but purportedly very nutritious kiddie-goo my mother was determined to make me consume ("to everything, there is a season," etc.). The player would be placed next to me in my high-chair in the kitchen and there'd be an accompanying lecture on how some things just had to be done, and at the right time. There were other parental 45s too, played on the lunchbox or on the console radio-gramophone in the living room: Georgie Fame, Bobby Darin, Jimmy Dean, etc. I still have a few of these.

    A bit later and less traumatic was listening to my (much older) siblings' LPs from the console. My sister was more into English folk & folk-rock, my brother to blues and blues-rock, and they had the Beatles in common. My preferences at the time were more aligned with my brother's, and I recall in particular giving his Canned Heat, Ten Years After and Uriah Heep albums many spins. Then in the earliest 70s, I got a hand-me-down AM radio in my bedroom (FM radio didn't start in NZ until the 80s) and to the extent that commercial radio allowed, started discovering music for myself. I was also given one of the classic Panasoic Toot-a-Loop portables, which allowed music on the go and after bedtime and came with an earphone. Much of the early 70s was spent waiting for breaks in the usual pop fare for occasional tunes from Thin Lizzy, Golden Earring, Blue Oyster Cult, Slade, Supertramp etc. In keeping with the times, my first record purchases (1973-74) were a couple of '20 Solid Gold Hits' compilations of heavy-rotation radio tracks, Elton John's first 'Greatest Hits' comp, and - the one I remain proud of but sadly lost somewhere - Deep Purple's 'Burn'.

    At about this time my father replaced the radio-gramophone with a Garrard 60B TT (first with a ceramic cart and then a Shure M44), a second-hand Leak Stereo 30 amp, a pair of Goodmans 3-way bookshelf speakers, and shortly after added what became my great enabler: an Akai GXC38 cassette deck, later supplemented by a pair of Akai ASE-20 headphones. This, together with increasing musical availability, changed everything…

    In the mid and late 70s more ‘non-commercial’ music (I don’t remember ‘alternative’ being the term until a bit later) started to be broadcast in NZ: late-night radio hosts John Barry in Wellington and the better-known Barry Jenkin in Auckland, and the nationwide TV show ‘Radio with Pictures’ started airing edgier material than was on daytime radio or the prime-time TV music shows and featured punk heavily when it started rearing its head. As a result, through the late 70s and into the earlier 80s I became exposed to and sought out different material, and started buying more records for taping on and listening through the Akai (the Leak didn’t have a headphone jack), and playing the tapes on a boombox or a walkman. While the late 70s for me still featured Steely Dan, Neil Young, and other radio-friendly acts and I never really related to the more prominent punk bands, Increasingly through the latest 70s and into the earliest 80s there were purchases and borrowings of Wire, Pere Ubu, Swell Maps, Echo and the Bunnymen, etc.

    I can’t recall whether it was in late high school or early university days – early 80s, anyway – we discovered that the Wellington Central Library had an excellent and ever growing record collection, mostly of stuff that wouldn’t be heard on commercial radio, and me and a like-minded friend would try to go once every week or two to see if there was anything interesting that we’d heard on late-night radio, seen on RWP, or from label stablemates of bands we liked (label compilations from the likes of Cherry Red were good finds). Good finds were taken home and carefully taped (whaddya mean, copyright?) on pa’s Garrard / Akai system or later on a knocked-about Hitachi separates system that I’d finally bought for myself and which evolved component by component over the next decade.

    It’s the discoveries and practices of this period, continuing into the mid-90s, that I’d say was my ‘foundation’, and even now most of my music collection comes from that era and is dominated by post-punk in its many variations, through college-rock, to shoegaze. I started buying CDs from the mid-90s, and the music that was on tape has now gone or been replaced by vinyl or CD. Instead of a tape deck I now have a streamer, and I even have a bit of music in digital-file form only. I still find it hard to relate to streaming, even as a musical-discovery mechanism like radio was for me 40+ years ago; maybe now I’ve retired I’ll have time to listen to background music and note the interesting stuff to further explore, but there always seems to be other shit to do…
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2020
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  5. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    When I was getting my first record player (this was 1976) my parents asked me what albums I wanted. I said "KISS" because that is what my 2 year older cousin said he liked. I got a KISS album along with a Barry Manilow album, my parents saying (years later) they wanted me to have something different ;) . The next Album I can recall purchasing was Steely Dan's "Gaucho" in 1980 (though surely there were some inbetween) when I was 10 or so.

    I suppose my "foundation" is the folksy blues-rock that was on the airwaves of the early/mid 1980's during my teenage years. I know I did not go for regular pop/new wave that much, or even "classic rock" as such, not really. Many of my friends thought it a bit odd that I liked the Beatles, James Taylor, the Dead, in addition to "normal" stuff like Led Zeppelin. By college I was starting to regularly listen to Jazz and Classical which I would say is my "foundation" today. That said in the last few years voiceless Electronica has been a real interest.
     

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