Jim Guittard’s Place

Flat People

Posted in Family, Good Music, Music by guittard on May 13, 2008

SAMPLE Press Articles
Enjoy!
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Nothing “Flat” About Flat People’s Bob Guittard

Bob Guittard of Flat People

Digesting music from a steady bowl of oldies, with large sprinkles of the Beatles on top, Bob Guittard developed an interest in music very early in life thanks to the combined influences of his father and brother. “I played violin and piano growing up for years, then my brother gave me one of his guitars when I was fourteen and that completely changed me forever. I taught myself to play out of Hendrix and Zeppelin tab books and immediately started writing songs and formed a band with my buddies.”
His first band, formed in the seventh grade, was called The Little Puppy Dogs. His eighth grade year saw the birth of The Daring Chapstick Officers, followed by Fandango in late high school, The Bob Guittard Band during his first year as a Radio-TV-Film major at The University of Texas at Austin, Timado in his second year of college, and on and on through a variety of front man and back up band positions until, in 2007, he formed his current enterprise Flat People. Guittard’s older brother, Jim, writes music as well. He plays sitar, guitar, trombone and he sings. Guittard’s father and grandfather both played brass instruments in their respective high school marching bands. And his mother, maternal grandmother and maternal great grandmother played violin and piano quite well, which explains how he came to choose his first instruments as a child. “[That] was kind of forced on me as a kid. I liked it for a few years then gave it up when high school hit, probably because I felt like a nerd in the orchestra would rather play the guitar.”

Guittard and his wife recently had a child of their own, a little boy named Miles, and Guittard, although he has no intention of forcing music on his son, is adamant that the boy’s time not be wasted playing video games. He’s hoping that a love of music and creativity will grow from time not spent… well… wasting time. “I think about that a lot,“ said Guittard. “He’ll always be around music and I think he won’t be able to help loving music. Kids love banging on drums so I’ll bet he’ll originally be into that. I’m definitely not going to discourage him playing music. I’m all for my kids not melting their brains and wasting the years away on video games. It seems so common these days and is such a huge waste of time. Think of all the time that could have been spent creating art, music, stories, using the imagination, whatever. I don’t get on a soapbox often, but overuse of video games for kids and overuse and prescribing of anti-depressants, especially for kids, really bugs me. I talk about that in one of the songs on my album called ‘Everybody’s Got a Syndrome Here.’”

Guittard admits that his primary musical influences as a now-seasoned songwriter vary greatly from those of his childhood. He continues to cite the Beatles as a major influence, but has added Jeff Buckley, Wilco, Neil Young, Beck, Radiohead, Air, Bob Dylan, Elliott Smith and more to the list, explaining, “All of these folks stretched themselves either musically, vocally, lyrically, or sonically. They were all so passionate and so good. These are the folks that will give me goosebumps on that long road trip at night, or make me cry, or make me wish I could write a song like that. Or angry that I didn’t.”

Guittard has floated from Dallas to Austin to Los Angeles and back again in a quest for creative and musical fulfillment. Originally from Dallas, his move to Austin was prompted by both his desire to attend the University of Texas and Austin’s “vibrant history of music.” Two months after he graduated college, he moved to Los Angeles – following in the footsteps of his brother who had moved there two years earlier and was deeply embedded in the “darker coming” of the 60s era rock revival – hoping to satisfy two dreams. The first was simply to pursue his music. The second was to utilize the RTVF degree he’d earned in college.
“I had aspirations, like everyone else in that town, of becoming the next big screenwriter, director or producer of films. Once I got out to L.A. it was cool, but I figured out that I wasn‘t that into pursuing the film dream and, once I‘d decided that, I figured I didn‘t really need to live in L.A. to do something special with my number one love, music.”
While in L.A. Guittard joined a couple of different bands and played regularly on the Sunset Strip, but didn’t stay long enough to focus on his own music as much as he would have liked to. He said that his time there contained several “dark and low points” which matured him a great deal. His car was stolen and totaled, and he had broken up with his girlfriend, a girl he knew he wanted to spend his life with.
“It made me think a lot. The beach, writing songs, and the upright piano I rented weekly helped me get through it. The journey there was a necessary evil that I look back on fondly.”
Guittard moved back to Dallas in 2002 both in the hopes of getting a “real” job (in case his musical aspirations didn’t work out), and reconnecting with the girl who would later become his wife.
“I’m not planning on leaving Dallas any time soon unless there is a really compelling reason to. Although I’d love to just take off and travel the world, I’ve got some pretty firm roots here and I’m really happy being sedentary for now.”

Art imitates life for Guittard and his music. He stated, “I tend to write about what’s going on in my life, what I’m going through, what’s got me down or up, or general things or insecurities I’ve noticed as I walk through life. Sometimes it’s in the form of a narrative disguised as other folks and sometimes it’s in a vague metaphorical journey that may make sense to me, but no one else. I’m not sure whether it hits home for others or not, but it makes me happy so I’m good with that.” According to SAMPLE Press Music Writer, Jason Manriquez, Guittard’s lyrics are “a cut-and-paste collage of image-laden tongue twisters and fantastical descriptions of everyday occurrences.”
Guittard said of his songwriting style, “I hope [people] think about the lyrics. My songs, I think, are naturally emotive in terms of how they make me feel so I hope they strike a chord with other people. I’d hate to make a record that fails to stir up some emotion in my listeners. What’s the point if not? I’ve never been one to enjoy an entire album of light, fluffy material.”

Guittard’s decision to work with Nourallah on his album was not one that he came by blithely. Although he’d seen Nourallah play a couple of live shows and loved the music, his interest wasn’t peaked until he read the Dallas Observer article regarding the troubled relationship between Salim and his brother, Faris.
“After doing some research, I figured out that he was also a great producer, really putting out some great music. So, because I loved his approach to music and songwriting, I knew he’d be a great fit to work with me on producing my album. I emailed him and he actually said a friend of his had told him about my music already, which was cool. It just seemed like it was meant to be. I later met with him and gave him my songs and he was really excited, so we began the journey together. I can’t say enough about how great that studio experience was.”

The name, Flat People, did not come about until after the studio recording was complete and the final mixing was in progress.
“We were wrapping up the mixing and I was trying my best to take a step back and look objectively back through the song lyrics and general themes that make up the record. Flat People is the result. Vague, I know.”
Vague indeed. But, unraveling the nuances and mysteries behind Guittard’s music and the Flat People name is the link that binds the listener to the sound. However vague it may be, you are guaranteed to be entranced by it.
— Jennifer Manriquez

(Photos courtesy of Bob Guittard)
Copyright: SAMPLE Press, 2008

The BJM Dallas Show

Posted in Good Music, Music, Neo-psychedelia, Psychedelic by guittard on May 10, 2008

Journal entry from August 13, 2005

I caught the BJM show here in Dallas on Saturday night. It was different but really glad Anton chose to play. The preceding shows in Palm Beach Florida and Orlando were cancelled. The Quarter After, the opener, was good as usual. I had seen them in L.A.

Before the show, when I spoke to Rob, he said Anton’s voice was not up to par so they were kinda nervous about the show. I was going to say hello to Anton but decided I didn’t want to bother him with talk cause I figured he would be in his zone about the show. Anton was sitting at the sound board before the show. I got a good picture of him at the board with his thumbs up. Glad it wasn’t the middle finger.

Anton – Before Dallas Show

Anton - Dallas, Texas - Trees

After the Quarter After played, there was Innaway led by Reid Black. They were a Pink Floydish band from Philadelphia. It was cool and mellow. After Innaway, the crowd was getting anxious. The whole place was packed. I was rather pleased for Anton. I couldn’t even walk around. It was shoulder to shoulder. I had seen BJM at the same place 2 years prior and it was a pretty good crowd but not like shoulder to shoulder.

As I stood in the audience, the BJM brought out all their gear and set up but I wondered where’s Anton? The band patiently waited on stage smoking cigarettes and tuning and retuning etc. I looked around and Anton was on the board again DJ’ing music, kinda trippy hip-hop beat type stuff. It sounded really cool. Anton had his head phones on creating a vibe. I wish I knew what he was playing. That went on for 30 minutes. The band was ready to go and Anton was jamming out with his head phones still on at the sound board. I thought it was great. After probably 6 or so songs, the lights went low and Anton emerged onto stage.

He got on the mic pretty quick, “Anton style.” He was real nice though and the audience I thought was pretty good. They didn’t heckle him too much. Anton laid down the law from the start.

Anton Laying Down the Law

Anton - Dallas, Texas - Trees

He said, “Texas had been real good to him and the band.” He didn’t want to cancel the show. He said that he couldn’t really sing that night. He said something like, “Look, I’m your guest; treat your guests right. If ya want to kill someone, go to Iraq. You be patient!” That was classic talk.

He explained that he would show us how they make up songs. He had his drummer start a hip hop beat and they all joined in. At one point he told his bassist to try not to lead for once or something like that. They jammed out this instrumental for probably 20 minutes.

I saw a couple of people walk out but I’m sure they had never seen the BJM before. Anton ends the instrumental song and says something like, “Well who in the audience can sing?”

Some guy with a cowboy hat on and sunglasses came up on stage to sing the first song “Sailor.” Anton made it clear that he would throw him out the door and never let him back in if he was a fuck up
or “pissed in the well.”

Anton and Cowboy

Anton With Cowboy-Hatted Fan

The songs they played were:
Unknown Jam
Sailor*
Nevertheless*
Whoever You Are#
Nailing Honey to the Bee#
Who?
This is Why You Love Me#
Jennifer*
Jennifer restart#
When Jokers Attack#
Unknown Jam

* – random fan(s) on vocals
# – Rob Campanella on vocals
? – Reid Black

As a girl came up to sing Jennifer, Anton said her name was Jennifer. She piped up it was “Jill.” There were a few false starts on that song. The girl was eventually told to get off and someone else came up. Rob stepped up to the mic to help out and did a good job. He did “This Is Why You Love Me.”

Rob C. Drops Some Rhymes

Rob C. Singing BJM vocals

Several times during the show Anton said something like you don’t know me just because of some movie. And at least “I don’t give up.” Wise words.

The BJM played from 12 midnight to a little after 2. It was great that Anton let some fans help out. We are in this all together, right? Screw all this attacking stuff.

Betcha those fans who sang up there will remember for ever. I’m not disappointed.

Rob Sells Revolution Products

Rob C. Selling Revolution Products

Anton with FanThe Quarter AfterAnton Laying the Law DownDominic and Rob of the QAReid Black of Innaway Helping Out the BJM

Influencing Society Through Music

Posted in Change, Good Music, Music, Society by guittard on May 7, 2008

Today’s mainstream music is not very healthy for the average person’s psyche. It leaves most people going in circles and never resolving anything, only hoping to win the lotto of material wealth and fame.

Music in the past had worthwhile messages and often empowered the listeners to strive for something good and meaningful. Nowadays, the listeners are often led on selfish head trips that do not empower at all but rather cripple.

Much of the music of the past was geared to correct society’s problems. Now, music is rather limited in its focus. The main focus is on appearance, material gain and other rather selfish themes. Take a look at MTV for evidence.

Plato

In Plato’s, The Republic, the role of music was discussed for the ideal state. In the ideal state, harmonies which expressed excessive sorrow and relaxation were to be banished completely. In musical terms, Plato only allowed for two modes in songs and melodies: Dorian and Phrygian1 Probably, Spinal Tap’s sad piece, “Lick My Love Pump”, would have been banned.

The modern Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said in his Case of Wagner in 1888: “Only sick music makes money today.” I believe this quotation has much relevance to most of today’s mainstream music.

Here is the Top Ten hits from Top 40 Charts for May 2, 2008 for sales and airplays.

1. Lil Wayne – Lollipop
2. Leona Lewis – Bleeding Love
3. Jordin Sparks & Chris Brown – No Air
4. Usher & Young Jeezy – Love in This Club
5. Mariah Carey – Touch My Body
6. Madonna & Justin Timberlake – 4 minutes
7. Sara Bareilles – Love Song
8. Ray J & Jung Berg – Sexy Can I
9. Chris Brown – With You
10. Lupe Fiasco – Superstar

Let us examine some of the lyrics.

Partial lyrics Chris Brown – With You

‘Cause if I got you
I don’t need money
I don’t need cars
Girl you’re my heart

Mr. Brown’s implied message is good. He implies that material things are less important than people. I give him a thumbs up for good positive message.

Usher & Young Jeezy – Love In This Club

Might as well give me a kiss, if we keep touching like this
I know you’re scared, baby, they don’t know what we’re doing.
Let’s both get undressed right here, keep it up and, girl, I swear.
I’m gonna give it to you non-stop.
And I don’t care, who’s watching.

I believe this is bad message that promotes impulse and lack of commitment. Thumbs down.

Mariah Carey – Touch My Body

Touch my body
Put me on the floor
Wrestle me around
Play with me some more
Touch my body
Throw me on the bed
I just wanna make you feel
Like you never did.
Touch my body
Let me wrap my thighs
All around your waist
Just a little taste
Touch my body
Know you love my curves
Come on and give me what I deserve
And touch my body….

Trash lyrics. Maybe Mariah is tired of the Paparazzi filming her and claiming they had relationship with her. Thumbs down for negative message. (oh boy).

Leona Lewis – Bleeding Love

Closed off from love
I didn’t need the pain
Once or twice was enough
And it was all in vain
Time starts to pass
Before you know it you’re frozen um ooh ooh ooh yeah

But something happened
For the very first time with you
My heart melts into the ground
Found something true
And everyone’s looking round
Thinking I’m going crazy

But I don’t care what they say
I’m in love with you
They try to pull me away
But they don’t know the truth
My heart’s crippled by the vein
That I keep on closing
You cut me open and I

Keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding love
I keep bleeding
I keep, keep bleeding love
Keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding love
You cut me open

Trying hard not to hear
But they talk so loud
Their piercing sounds fill my ears
Try to fill me with doubt
Yet I know that the goal
Is to keep me from falling

But nothing’s greater
Than the rush that comes with your embrace
And in this world of loneliness
I see your face
Yet everyone around me
Thinks that I’m going crazy, maybe, maybe….

I’ll give credit to Ms. Lewis for staying committed and fighting the good fight through the problems. This song is obviously about love. Thumbs up for positive message.

The music of the 1960s brought about change in a turbulent decade. The time was about questioning authority. George Harrison’s song “Think for Yourself” is a good example of the philosophy of the 1960s. Now people do not question authority much. We have become too satisfied with life. We have too much idle time and so we become obsessed with determining who has “The Sweetest Ass in the World”. If you do not know this song, look up Alex C. on google or youtube. These are the type songs that are not only popular but sell money today. I think Nietzsche would be having a fit!

David

In the past, music had the power to literally break down walls. In Biblical times the town of Jericho was liberated by music and sound. The walls surrounding Jericho came down from the loud blasts of trumpets and the shouting of priests. 2 The music set the people free. The music of today often keeps us in bondage to depression or to bad situation we are going through.

Another Biblical musical reference is about the Shepherd David. David was requested to calm down the anxiety-ridden king of Israel. In the King’s palace, David played his soothing harp. This is an example how music can be used to benefit mental health.3

Most of today’s music is aggressive but it makes sense with the War on Terrorism and Iraq both raging. There are so many bad vibes floating around. The workplace is also very volatile and up and down with lay-offs, wage freezes, and rumors of recession. Maybe we are all fed up with what is going on or we should be. We are in a fearful and uncertain time. It is often hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I believe that most people should be a little angry and fed up. If the person is not, then the person is probably numbed by anti-depressants or other pills. (Been there, done that). Living in the comfort zone of America, people have become too apathetic to break away from American Idol or the latest fad or trend.

In the 1960s, there were riots, protests, demonstrations, assassinations, the most turbulent of decades. Today is probably just as turbulent or more but where is the cry for change from the mainstream?

There are a few but it is limited. System of a Down has been one of the more outspoken bands about the war in Iraq.

B.Y.O.B.

Everybody’s going to the party have a real good time.
Dancing in the desert blowing up the sunshine.

In 1969, at Woodstock, Country Joe sang his famous protest song of the Vietnam War. Here is the first part of the lyrics.

Country Joe

I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die

Yeah, come on all of you, big strong men,
Uncle Sam needs your help again.
He’s got himself in a terrible jam
Way down yonder in Vietnam
So put down your books and pick up a gun,
We’re gonna have a whole lotta fun.

And it’s one, two, three,
What are we fighting for?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it’s five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain’t no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we’re all gonna die….

The band, Rage Against the Machine has been outspoken on such issues as censorship and artistic freedom.

This is a very big issue in the music industry these days. Stay tuned…

To end on a positive note, here is a list of artists that have thoughtful and forward thinking messages and have meant a lot to me. You cannot go wrong here!!

1. Animals, The
2. Arlo Guthrie
3. Association, The
4. Band, The
5. Beach Boys, The
6. Beachwood Sparks
7. Beatles, The
8. Beck
9. Black Angels, The
10. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
11. Bob Dylan
12. Bob Gibson
13. Brian Jonestown Massacre, The
14. Bruce Springsteen
15. Buffalo Springfield
16. Byrds, The
17. Canned Heat
18. Carl Perkins
19. Carter Family, The
20. Chi-lites, The
21. Chris Stills
22. Chuck Berry
23. Coasters, The
24. Counting Crows, The
25. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young
26. Cure, The
27. Dandy Warhols, The
28. David Bowie
29. Deep Purple
30. Depeche Mode
31. Donovan
32. Doors, The
33. Edie Brickell
34. Elvis Presley
35. Fairpoint Convention
36. Flat People
37. Flying Burrito Brothers, The
38. Further
39. Gene Clark
40. George Harrison
41. Go-Kart Mozart
42. Gram Parsons
43. Grateful Dead, The
44. Hank Williams
45. INXS
46. Janis Joplin
47. Jay Farrar
48. Jefferson Airplane
49. Jesus and the Mary Chain
50. Jimi Hendrix
51. John Lennon
52. Johnny Cash
53. Kinks, The
54. Kula Shaker
55. Led Zeppellin
56. Left Banke
57. Lenny Kravitz
58. Little Richard
59. Lou Reed
60. Louvin Brothers, The
61. Love
62. Lovin’ Spoonful, The
63. Merle Haggard
64. Monkees, The
65. My Bloody Valentine
66. Mystic Chords of Memory
67. Neil Young
68. N.W.A.
69. Oasis
70. Paul McCartney
71. Pink Floyd
72. Poco
73. Police, The
74. Quarter After, the
75. Radiohead
76. Rage Against the Machine
77. Red Hot Chili Peppers
78. Richie Furay
79. Ride
80. Roger McGuinn
81. Rolling Stones, The
82. Ryan Adams
83. Sheryl Crow
84. Sly and the Family Stone
85. Simon and Garfunkle
86. Son Volt
87. Spacemen 3
88. Stephen Stills
89. Strawberry Alarm Clock
90. System of A Down
91. Thrills, The
92. Tom Petty
93. Troggs, The
94. Tyde, The
95. U2
96. Uncle Tupelo
97. Van Halen
98. Van Morrison
99. Velvet Underground, The
100. Violent Femmes, The
101. Warlocks, the
102. Who, The
103. Willie Nelson
104. Wiskey Biscuit
105. Wilco
106. Wings
107. Zombies, The
108. ZZ Top


up1Plato. Republic. Trans. Benjamin Jowett.

up2 Josh. 6:20

up3 1 Sam. 16:23

Modern Psychedelic Influenced Bands

Posted in Good Music, Neo-psychedelia, Psychedelic by guittard on April 27, 2008

First of all I recommend a band called the Beachwood Sparks. They take the torch where Gram Parsons and the Byrds left off particularly with the Sweetheart of the Rodeo album. I’ve seen them live numerous times and have never been disappointed. They are the best especially with
their extended Space Echo freakout endings. They have 3 albums out and the first called Beachwood Sparks is my favorite. I hear that the BWS is getting back together (coincidentally on Roger McGuinn’s birthday), July 13th in Seattle for the 20th year for Subpop label. I wish I could be there.

Beachwood Sparks 2000

Beachwood Sparks

The second band I recommend is called the Tyde. This band has mutual members of the Beachwood Sparks. The Tyde is more Bob Dylan or Lou Reed sounding with much reference to surfing. I’ve seen them live, too. They have 3 albums out. I like Once the best.

The Tyde

The third band that I recommend is the Quarter After. This band is Byrds influenced with chimey Rickenbackers and groovy lyrics. It is lead by brothers, Rob Campanella and Dom Campanella. Incidentally, Rob records and produces many of the bands I mention here. I was
fortunate to sit in on a Quarter After session a few years back.

Here’s my somewhat humorous review for their debut album:

The Revolution Is Coming Down!!!

I dig the Quarter After live and on record. They are nice
outstanding citizens who are dedicated followers of the
Revolution effort. If you don’t understand, look up the
Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Their song ‘Too Much to Think About’ can put you in a
trance if you are not careful. It takes you back to 1966
with some Raga-Rock influence. ‘Know Me When I’m Gone’
is my favorite track on the album. It is modern psychedelia.
Dominic’s singing is much like Roger McGuinn’s. Byrds fans
will love the Quarter After. Or any fan of the ’60’s or good music.

Quarter After is authentic and not cheesy. They do not
overdo it. Dominic’s 12 String Rickenbacker work is great.
Good harmonies too by Rob and various personnel.

The Quarter After has recently put out their second album. I have not got my hands on it yet but will review soon.

The Quarter After

The Quarter After

And last but not least is the band called the Brian Jonestown Massacre. These guys are pretty outstanding and have had a documentary about them already called “Dig!” This band is the one
that really should take credit for this revival in psychedelic sound. They have at least a dozen albums out. They are very prolific.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre

The Brian Jonestown Massacre

I hope you will check these bands out. They really cook.

Optimistic Music

Posted in Good Music, Rock and Roll History by guittard on November 17, 2007

I think we should get back to the mindset of the past. At least the more open-minded thinking of the ’60’s. You say, oh, let’s don’t live in the past, let’s move forward.

I counter you with, “the thinking of the 1960’s was more healthy I think than today.” I’m all about moving forward and it seems that this period was about moving forward for the better.

It is my opinion that if all listened to the music of the ’60’s or that type of thinking then the world would be that much better. You’ve all heard the saying “garbage in garbage out.” Well, put this more positive type of thinking In.

Here’s my top songs that may clean up the pessimistic or status quo thinking. Just look to the words for inspiration out of this fearful terrorist world we live.

1. Bob Dylan – The Times Are A-Changin’

2. The Beatles – Think For Yourself

3. Gene Clark – Keep On Pushin’

4. Stephen Stills (Manassas) – Jesus Gave Love Away For Free

5. The Zombies – Time Of The Season

6. The Byrds – Turn, Turn, Turn

7. The Rolling Stones – Salt of the Earth

8. The Association – The Time Is Today

9. The Kinks – Animal Farm

10. George Harrison – What Is Life?

11. Pink Floyd – Burnin’ Bridges

12. The Beach Boys – I Know There’s An Answer

13. Buffalo Springfield – For What It’s Worth

14. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young – Teach Your Children

15. Donovan – Catch The Wind

16. The Doors – Take It As It Comes

17. John Lennon – Give Me Some Truth

18. The Lovin’ Spoonful – Do You Believe In Magic?

19. Simon and Garfunkle – Bridge Over Troubled Water

20. Sly and The Family Stone – Everybody Is A Star

Shturcite (BG Legendary Band)

Posted in Bulgaria, Good Music, Music, Rock and Roll History by guittard on February 2, 2007

My girlfriend turned me onto the Bulgarian rock band, Shturcite, and amazingly I met Petar Gyuzelev, a founding member of the band. It was just last weekend in Sofia at a church. Petar plays the guitar and sings. I spoke with him in my bad Bulgarian and he understood me. I asked if he was in the Shturcite band and he said, “Da.”

Then I told him about living in Hollywood and playing with the son of Roger McGuinn. I asked if he knew of the Byrds and he said yes and then we talked about David Crosby and his other band. It was cool to rap with a legendary Bulgarian Rock and Roller.

Here are some clips I found on Youtube of the band.

Rock In Past Tense

Kletva

Rock’N’Roll Music

The Need For a Music Revolution

Posted in Change, Good Music, Music, Psychedelic, Rock and Roll History by guittard on November 24, 2006

REVOLUTION NOW:

A BOMP EDITORIAL!

by Greg Shaw

Those of you who remember the old Bomp Magazine (1970-1979)  know that my editorials were one of the staple features. The topic was usually “the State of Rock and Roll.” In the early to mid 1970s, when music had never been so oppressively controlled by corporate powers, and choice so limited, it seemed insane to believe that we, as fans, could ever have a meaningful voice in what we were allowed to hear, or how it was presented. But we had to try, because we loved rock & roll and didn’t want to let those bastards kill it.

Strangely enough, all the things dreamt of in those editorials came to pass, and sooner than anyone expected. Local bands re-emerged. The great raw sounds of the ’50s and ’60s were reissued (either by major labels under fan supervision, or on fan-made compilations), and had a galvanizing influence on a new generation of bands. Punk Rock was born in the spirit of the ’60s garage explosion, blowing open the doors that the industry had held fast against any fresh breath of rebellion. Vast networks of indie labels, fanzines, radio shows, record distributors and more, scarcely imaginable in 1975, were fully in place two or three years later.

 

Bomp’s editorials didn’t cause these things to happen, of course; rather, they voiced the need for them, encouraged people to believe in and work for change, and pointed out areas in which progress seemed possible. There was intense resistance from the established order to the kinds of changes we wanted, but amazingly enough, a relative handful of people who shared a common vision were able to make a huge difference simply by doing the right thing at the right time.

I stopped writing editorials 20 years ago, and don’t intend to make a practice of it again. My views are my own, and I recognize that I am of no mind to formulate any grand theories of pop or anything else. Yet I can’t help being struck lately by the similarities between 1975 and today.

Item: In both cases the record industry had turned its back on new talent and concentrated on a handful of boring superstars they could count on to sell a huge volume of records.

Item: In both times, local music either didn’t exist at all, had no focus, or lacked any kind of scene to take root in.

Item: Then as now, audiences had been turned into passive consumers of prefab culture, with no interest in creating anything of their own

All this could be coincidence. Or it could be a clue that the conditions for a revolution are once again ripe.

There is a misconception about revolution, namely that they are supposed to accomplish somethng lasting. This is simply not true. What a revolution does is replace an existing order with a new one, which left to itself, will soon become as rigid as the one it replaced. Revolution is a process, and its main payoff is to add value to the lives of those who participate in it, and improve conditions in general for awhile. When it stops moving, it dies.

The point of a music revolution is not to replace today’s pop stars with a new slate; it is to kick out the jams! Riot in the streets! Do it now! etc. It’s all about direct engagement, and the result of all that activity should be a better time for all, a party that will keep everyone coming back to do it some more. And not only that–“parties” are not radical in themselves. The sense of being more fully alive, empowered, having an impact on your world and your culture, these are the chief rewards. This is what rock & roll at its best can provide–leading to the idea that perhaps rock & roll itself should be seen not as a genre, not as a mere noun or even a verb, but also as a process.

Punk rock was a fantastic thing for those who took part in it, but listening to the Sex Pistols today is not a “punk rock” experience: it is an “oldies” experience. Same for the revolutions of the ’50s and ’60s. The “My Generation” of The Who will be on Social Security soon! The only meaningful revolution is the one that is taking place right now, if at all. There is no other time but now that we can live in, existentially speaking, and we either seize or or we don’t. We can use history to see what other revolutions have looked and sounded like, but we can’t truly know what it is until it’s happening all around us, and we have a personal role to play.

It may be folly to believe you can alter the course of the world, which is inevitably becoming more centralized, more controlled by large money interests, and less free–in terms of mass pop culture, at any rate. Out on the fringes, the Internet is enabling more and more variety, which is great, as long as you’re satisfied with a very small cult following and no money. This you are free to have. But the dream of rock & roll, from Elvis to the Beatles to Nirvana, has been the dream of doing something cool and changing the lives of millions with it. This is a dream each new generation of musicians embraces, for better or worse. And no matter how great the odds seem to be against it, I firmly believe it can happen any time people decide they’ve had enough crap.

Now, there are a couple of things necessary for a revolution. One is that the people be unbearably oppressed. Oppressed we surely are, with only three major record companies now controlling all channels of distribution (even indie records are distributed by a branch of EMI) and desiring nothing more than for us to shut up and buy more Britney Spears and Eminem. But “unbearably”? There are so many other obsessions these days; a kid with a new Nokia cell phone doesn’t have a clue he’s missing the joys of being part of a rock & roll scene. The masses will not rise in the name of something they can’t even imagine.

The other ingredient lacking is some charismatic band to carry the revolutionary banner. There’s been no shortage of overnight sensations in music recently, of course. But whatever their success, acts like Oasis, Radiohead, Beck, or (you name it) have not inspired their generation to “seize the means of production” or whatever it is proletariats are supposed to do. Any such band, I suspect, will need to be a whole lot more subversive than anything we’ve seen before. And probably something incapable of being packaged and sold for a profit!

(In many ways, the Grateful Dead met most of these criteria: underground till the end, they did create a substantial alternative culture around them. Unfortunately it was not a particularly viable one, and not one that many of us would care to join. But it is a valid example of what I’m talking about, I must admit.) Then there are “paint-by numbers” bands, starting possibly with Bomp alumni the Flamin’ Groovies, who think that by retracing the steps of past heroes, they can launch some new Heroic Age. Much as I have enjoyed some of these bands, their premise has clearly been proven wrong. (If we can’t learn from our own history, we may be condemned to endlessly reissue it…)

And yeah, there’s rap… but among other problems, rap comes out of a completely different cultural vein. I’m talking about a tradition called “rock and roll” that has been invented and re-invented continuously since the early ’50s, going always back to its roots and coming up with something new and more powerful. In my opinion, rap is the belated black response to punk, parallel to it in some ways, and like punk, long past its most creative days. Public Enemy and their ilk were subversive, in their way, in their time. But that revolution died when its heroes grabbed the gold chains rather than holding out for real change. Sure, some cool stuff has gone on in the name of rap, not to mention reggae, techno, the rave scene, and so on, empowering individuals in the context of music culture. Movements have arisen, and changed lives in way I can’t but admire. But all this is a far cry from what rock and roll has done in the past, and from what I expect it to do for me, being who I am. So I address myself to what I believe can be done in the name of Rock and Roll.

An artist who will command the world’s imagination and set it on a new musical course is what’s needed to set off a wide-scale revolution. In their wake, a whole wave of superior bands would be able to follow. But such an artist may or may not appear, like it or not.

Revolution, however, does not need to be as massive as all that. It is a process that begins at the grass-roots level, and needn’t necessarily rise above it. Horizontal growth may actually be what’s called for… (I’ve always maintained that if punk rock had happened on labels like Rough Trade instead of EMI and Warner Brothers, it would not have burned out so soon.) The point of revolution, in this sense, is to be a part of it. That’s where the pleasure comes from–the involvement, the participation in creating something. And this is a revolution we can have–if we want it badly enough to make it happen.

The conditions for it are better now than they have been in quite awhile. Healthy local music scenes are emerging all over, with bands whose vision embraces folk and blues, ’60s pop and ’70s punk, all the elements of the tradition they yearn to be a part of, with intelligence and historical savvy. I won’t mention any bands, but there are some great ones out there all of a sudden (Parenthetically: of course there are always plenty of cool local bands; most of them, however, have nothing to do with any of this, not to knock them. It may sound vague, but I know the kind of band I mean when I see it, and so will you.) I’ve talked with many in the past year or two and the same ideas keep comig up: there’s something happening here, we’re all a part of it, we don’t know what it is, there’s no marketing slogan, no ad campaign, but it’s real and we can feel it. And that’s the way it ought to be. Right now, there’s no excuse for anyone who loves music not to get out and support the good bands, who are either in your town or coming through soon. Don’t wait to read about it in Rolling Stone; put your ear to the ground.

! ! ! ! ! ! ! The revolution begins with you ! ! ! ! ! ! !

http://bomp.com/book.html

 

 

 

 

My Top 50 Albums In Random Order

Posted in Good Music, Music, Neo-psychedelia, Psychedelic, Rock and Roll History by guittard on October 4, 2006

 

  1. The Beatles – Rubber Soul – 1965
  2. Bob Dylan – Bringing it All Back Home – 1965
  3. The Rolling Stones – Exile On Mainstreet – 1972
  4. Love – Forever Changes – 1967
  5. The Dandy Warhols – Dandy’s Rule Ok – 1995
  6. Beachwood Sparks – Beachwood Sparks – 2000
  7. The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds – 1966
  8. The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Give It Back – 1997
  9. Miles Davis – Bitches Brew – 1970
  10.  Beck – Odelay – 1996
  11.  Son Volt – Trace – 1995
  12.  The Byrds – Notorious Byrd Brothers – 1968
  13.  Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Howl – 2005
  14. The Kinks – The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society – 1968
  15. Merle Haggard and the Strangers – Lonesome Fugitive 1967
  16. The Tyde – Twice – 2003
  17. Uncle Tupelo – March 16-20, 1992 – 1992
  18. The Doors – Morrison Hotel – 1970
  19. Stephen Stills – Manassas – 1972
  20. David Bowie – Aladdin Sane – 1973
  21. My Bloody Valentine – Ecstacy and Wine – 1989
  22. Pink Floyd – Piper at the Gates of Dawn – 1967
  23. George Harrison – All Things Must Pass – 1970
  24. The Warlocks – The Warlocks – 2000
  25. The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground and Nico – 1967
  26. The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Strung Out In Heaven – 1998
  27. The Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet – 1968
  28. Buffalo Springfield – Buffalo Springfield – 1967
  29. The Electric Prunes – Underground – 1967
  30. The Byrds – Fifth Dimension – 1966
  31. The Monkees – Head –  1968
  32. Johnny Cash – At Folsom Prison – 1968
  33. Donovan – Greatest Hits – 1969
  34. Neil Young – Tonight’s the Night – 1975
  35. Led Zeppelin – Houses of The Holy – 1973
  36. The Flying Burrito Bros – Hot Burritos! The Flying Burrito Bros. Anthology 2000
  37. Echo And The Bunnymen – Ocean Rain – 1984
  38. Ride – Nowhere – 1990
  39. U2 – The Joshua Tree – 1987
  40. INXS – Kick – 1987
  41. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Into The Great Wide Open – 1991
  42. Pearl Jam – No Code – 1996
  43. Poco – Pickin’ Up The Pieces – 1969
  44. The Cure – Disintegration – 1989
  45. Return To Forever – No Mystery – 1975
  46. Antonio Carlos Jobim – Stone Flower – 1970
  47. The Who – The Who Sell Out – 1967
  48. The Zombies – The Singles Collection: A’s & B’s, 1964-1969 -2000
  49. The Association – Greatest Hits – 1968
  50. The Lovin’ Spoonful – Greatest Hits – 2000