206 episodes

Andrew Hickey presents a history of rock music from 1938 to 1999, looking at five hundred songs that shaped the genre.

A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs Andrew Hickey

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    • 4.8 • 263 Ratings

Andrew Hickey presents a history of rock music from 1938 to 1999, looking at five hundred songs that shaped the genre.

    Episode 162: “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees

    Episode 162: “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees

    Episode 162 of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at "Daydream Believer", and the later career of the Monkees, and how four Pinocchios became real boys. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode.

    Patreon backers also have a twenty-minute bonus episode available, on "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf.

    Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt’s irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/



    Resources

    No Mixcloud this time, as even after splitting it into multiple files, there are simply too many Monkees tracks excerpted.

    The best versions of the Monkees albums are the triple-CD super-deluxe versions that used to be available from monkees.com , and I’ve used Andrew Sandoval’s liner notes for them extensively in this episode. Sadly, though, none of those are in print. However, at the time of writing there is a new four-CD super-deluxe box set of Headquarters (with a remixed version of the album rather than the original mixes I've excerpted here) available from that site, and I used the liner notes for that here. Monkees.com also currently has the intermittently-available BluRay box set of the entire Monkees TV series, which also has Head and 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee.

    For those just getting into the group, my advice is to start with this five-CD set, which contains their first five albums along with bonus tracks.

    The single biggest source of information I used in this episode is the first edition of Andrew Sandoval’s The Monkees; The Day-By-Day Story. Sadly that is now out of print and goes for hundreds of pounds. Sandoval released a second edition of the book in 2021, which I was unfortunately unable to obtain, but that too is now out of print. If you can find a copy of either, do get one.

    Other sources used were Monkee Business by Eric Lefcowitz, and the autobiographies of three of the band members and one of the songwriters — Infinite Tuesday by Michael Nesmith, They Made a Monkee Out of Me by Davy Jones, I’m a Believer by Micky Dolenz, and Psychedelic Bubble-Gum by Bobby Hart.

    Patreon

    This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them?

    Transcript

    When we left the Monkees, they were in a state of flux. To recap what we covered in that episode, the Monkees were originally cast as actors in a TV show, and consisted of two actors with some singing ability -- the former child stars Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz -- and two musicians who were also competent comic actors, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork.  The show was about a fictional band whose characters shared names with their actors, and there had quickly been two big hit singles, and two hit albums, taken from the music recorded for the TV show's soundtrack.

    But this had caused problems for the actors. The records were being promoted as being by the fictional group in the TV series, blurring the line between the TV show and reality, though in fact for the most part they were being made by session musicians with only Dolenz or Jones adding lead vocals to pre-recorded backing tracks. Dolenz and Jones were fine with this, but Nesmith, who had been allowed to write and produce a few album tracks himself, wanted more creative input, and more importantly felt that he was being asked to be complicit in fraud because the records credited the four Monkees as the musicians when (other than a tiny bit of inaudible rhythm guitar by Tork on a couple of Nesmith's tracks) none of them played on them.

    Tork, meanwhile, believed he had been promised that the group would be an actual group -- that they would all be playing on the records together -- and felt hurt and annoyed that this wasn't the case. They were by now playing live together to promote the series and the records, with Dolenz turning out to b

    Episode 161: “Alone Again Or” by Love

    Episode 161: “Alone Again Or” by Love

    Episode one hundred and sixty-one of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “Alone Again Or", the career of Love, and the making of Forever Changes. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode.

    Patreon backers also have a twenty-minute bonus episode available, on "Susan" by the Buckinghams

    Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt’s irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/



    Erratum

    I refer to Bach's Partita No. 1 in B-flat minor in the episode. It's actually in B-flat major, but Amazon wrongly tagged the MP3 copy of Glenn Gould playing Bach's Partitas that I bought from them.

    Resources

    As usual, I have created Mixcloud mixes of all the songs excerpted in the episode. This episode's mixes are in two parts -- part one and part two.

    My main source for the episode is Forever Changes: Arthur Lee and the Book of Love by John Einarson, and I also referred a lot to Arthur Lee: Alone Again Or by Barney Hoskyns.

    I also referred to Pegasus Epitaph: The Story of the Legendary Rock Group Love , the autobiography of Michael Stuart Ware, and to the 33 1/3 book on Forever Changes. 

    This documentary is a very good look at Love's career.

    And this double-CD contains almost every track anyone other than a serious completist could want by Love. It has Forever Changes in its entirety, plus eleven of the fourteen tracks from the first album, every track except "Revelation" from Da Capo, both sides of the "Your Mind and We Belong Together"/"Laughing Stock" single, the non-album B-side "Number 14", and five of the better tracks from the second version of Love.

    Patreon

    This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them?

    Transcript

    Before I start, I should just say that this episode involves some discussion of drug addiction, mental illness, and racism.

    In this episode and the next one, we're taking what is almost our final look at the LA pop music scene of the sixties. The story over the last ten episodes or so has been about how the Monterey Pop Festival precipitated an end to LA's dominance in music on the West Coast of the US, and how it was replaced by San Francisco. There will of course be LA artists turning up over the next thirty-odd episodes, especially as we see the Laurel Canyon scene, which is a separate but connected thing to the pop scene, take off towards the end of the sixties.

    We haven't seen the last of several of the artists from LA we've already looked at, but here and in the next episode we're going to look at the last gasps of the scene that had built up around Sunset Strip and the Hollywood recording studios, the one that encompassed proto-punk garage rock, jangly folk-rock, and modern jazz style harmonies. The influence of that scene would reverberate for decades to come, but the scene itself was largely at an end by the middle of 1967.

    This episode is an unusual one in some respects, because we're looking at a band who we *have* seen previously, but who haven't had an episode to themselves. Normally, when we've seen a band before, I'd just do a "when we last saw X" intro, but while about half an hour in the middle of the episode on "Hey Joe" was devoted to Love, and to how the band formed, we left the group before they'd even made their first album, and the story was being told in the context specifically of their relationship with that song.

    So I'm going to do a brief recap of what we covered there, so some of this may sound a little familiar to you. It'll be a much briefer version of the story than I told there, but will include different details.

    The core of the band that became Love was two Black men born in Memphis, Arthur Lee and Johnny Echols. Both had been neighbours in their very early childhood, but Lee's family had moved away to LA whe

    XMAS BONUS: “Christmas Time is Here Again” by the Beatles

    XMAS BONUS: “Christmas Time is Here Again” by the Beatles

    As we're in the period between Christmas and New Year, the gap between episodes is going to be longer than normal, and the podcast proper is going to be back on January the ninth. So nobody has to wait around for another fortnight for a new episode, I thought I'd upload some old Patreon bonus episodes to fill the gap. Every year around Christmas the bonus episodes I do tend to be on Christmas songs and so this week I'm uploading three of those. These are older episodes, so don't have the same production values as more recent episodes, and are also shorter than more recent bonuses, but I hope they're still worth listening to.



    Hello, and welcome to this week's second Patreon bonus episode. I'm recording this on December the twenty-third, so whether you hear this before Christmas is largely down to how quickly we can get the main episode edited and uploaded. Hopefully, this is going up on Christmas Eve and you're all feeling appropriately festive.

    Normally for the Patreon bonuses in the last week of December I choose a particularly Christmassy record from the time period we're covering in the main podcast -- usually a perennial Christmas hit like something off the Phil Spector Christmas album or the Elvis Christmas album. However, this year we're in the mid sixties, a period when none of the big hits of US or UK Christmas music were released, because it's after the peak of US Christmas music and before the peak of UK Christmas music. There were Christmas albums by people like James Brown, but they weren't major parts of the discography.

    So today, we're going to have a brief run-through of the Beatles' Christmas records. These were flexi-discs -- which for those of you who are too young to remember them were records pressed on very, very, thin, cheap plastic, which used to be attached to things like kids' comics or cereal boxes as promotional gimmicks -- sent out to members of the group's fan club. In a way, these were the Beatles' very own Patreon bonuses, sent out to fans and supporters, and not essential works, but hopefully interesting and fun.

    They very rarely had anything like a full song, being mostly made up of sketches and recorded messages, and other than a limited-edition vinyl reissue a few years back they've never been put on general release -- though one song from the discs, "Christmas Time is Here Again", *was* released as a B-side of the CD single of "Free as A Bird" in 1995:

    [Excerpt: The Beatles, "Christmas Time is Here Again"]

    Other than that, the Christmas records remain one of those parts of the Beatles catalogue which have never seen a proper widespread release. The first record was made on October the 17th 1963, at the same recording session as "I Want to Hold Your Hand", at the instigation of Tony Barrow, the group's publicist, who also came up with a script for the group to depart from:

    [Excerpt, the Beatles' first Christmas record]

    Barrow apparently edited the recording himself, using scissors and tape, and much of that was just taking out the swearing.

    Incidentally, I've seen some American sources talking about the word "Crimble" being a word that the Beatles made up themselves, but it's actually a fairly standard bit of Scouse slang. The second Christmas record was recorded at the end of the sessions for Beatles For Sale and was much the same kind of thing, though this time they incorporated sound effects:

    [Excerpt: The Beatles' Second Christmas Record]

    That was never sent to American fans. Instead, they got a cardboard copy of an edited version of the first record (it's possible to make records out of cardboard, but they can only be played a handful of times). They wouldn't get another Christmas record until 1968, though British fans kept receiving them.

    The third record sees the group parodying other people's hits, including a brief rendition of "It's the Same Old Song" interrupted by George Harrison saying they can't sing it because of copyright, and an attempt to sing Barry McGuire'

    XMAS BONUS: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

    XMAS BONUS: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

    As we’re in the period between Christmas and New Year, the gap between episodes is going to be longer than normal, and the podcast proper is going to be back on January the ninth. So nobody has to wait around for another fortnight for a new episode, I thought I’d upload some old Patreon bonus episodes to fill the gap. Every year around Christmas the bonus episodes I do tend to be on Christmas songs and so this week I’m uploading three of those. These are older episodes, so don’t have the same production values as more recent episodes, and are also shorter than more recent bonuses, but I hope they’re still worth listening to.



    Transcript

    It's the middle of December, as you have probably noticed, and that means it's a time when the airwaves in both the UK and the US are dominated by Christmas music. The music that's most prominent in the UK will have to wait until we get to the seventies for a discussion, but this week and next week in these bonus episodes I'll be looking at a few American Christmas classics:

    [Excerpt: Gene Autry, "Here Comes Santa Claus"]

    If I'd been doing these Patreon bonus episodes from the beginning of the podcast, rather than waiting for the first six months or so to do them on a regular basis, I'd have covered Gene Autry in one by about the fourth episode. He's someone whose name you'll have heard a lot in the podcast -- he was an influence on all sorts of musicians we've looked at, in all areas of music. Jerry Lee Lewis, Sam Cooke, Hank Ballard, Bo Diddley, Bill Haley, Fats Domino, and Les Paul all acknowledged him as someone they were trying to imitate in one way or another, and that's just the ones where I've been able to find clear confirmation.

    Autry was not, in any direct sense, a precursor to rock and roll. He didn't make records that included any of the elements that later became prominent in the new music, and he didn't have a rebellious image at all. But from the early 1930s to the early 1950s, he was the single biggest star in country music. He starred in many films, had his own radio show, had a line of comics about him, and he was so popular that even his *horse* had his own radio and TV show. British people from my generation may well remember Champion, The Wonder Horse still being repeated as kids' TV in the eighties.

    THAT's how big Gene Autry was, and so it's unsurprising that he influenced pretty much every singer of note in the rock and roll field.

    But he was also, along with Bing Crosby, one of the people who pioneered American secular Christmas music:

    [Excerpt: Gene Autry, "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer"]

    I specify "American" secular Christmas music here, because one thing that differs between the US and the UK when it comes to Christmas is the music that's ubiquitous. In the UK, Christmas music mostly means glam rock -- you hear Slade and Wizzard incessantly, and other 70s artists like Mud. In the US, though, it means primarily the music of the forties and fifties -- the music of people like Gene Autry.

    Autry started his career as just another country singer, who performed as "Oklahoma's Yodelling Cowboy". His early recordings were very much in the style of Jimmie Rodgers, and were very different from his later clean-cut image:

    [Excerpt: Gene Autry, "Black Bottom Blues"]

    But in 1932 he had a hit with a song he wrote, which would soon become a standard of country music, a rather maudlin ballad called "That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine":

    [Excerpt: Gene Autry, "That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine"]

    As a result of that hit, Autry started appearing in films. The first film he appeared in was a serial -- The Phantom Empire -- in which he starred as a singing cowboy who is kidnapped by people from the underground super-science kingdom Murania, descendants of the lost tribe of Mu, and has to help them defend themselves from an evil scientist who wants to steal their radium. It may not surprise you that the writer of the film came up with the plot for it while on nitro

    XMAS BONUS: Little St. Nick

    XMAS BONUS: Little St. Nick

    As we're in the period between Christmas and New Year, the gap between episodes is going to be longer than normal, and the podcast proper is going to be back on January the ninth. So nobody has to wait around for another fortnight for a new episode, I thought I'd upload some old Patreon bonus episodes to fill the gap. Every year around Christmas the bonus episodes I do tend to be on Christmas songs and so this week I'm uploading three of those. These are older episodes, so don't have the same production values as more recent episodes, and are also shorter than more recent bonuses, but I hope they're still worth listening to.



    Transcript

    We talked in the last bonus episode about how the American Christmas music canon more or less ends in 1963. One record that just got in under that wire was "Little Saint Nick", recorded by the Beach Boys in October 1963 and released in December:

    [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Little Saint Nick"]

    Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys' leader, was apparently inspired to write a Christmas song by Phil Spector -- Wilson turned up to at least one of the sessions for the Spector Christmas album, and had briefly played piano during a couple of takes of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", although he wasn't actually on the record itself, as Spector decided he wasn't a good enough player.

    The date the Beach Boys recorded their Christmas song, October the twentieth 1963, was actually a historic date for the group. We'll talk about this more in a few weeks' time when we next look at the Beach Boys in the main podcast, but they had gone through a bit of a lineup shuffle, and David Marks had played his last gig with the group the night before, while Al Jardine had rejoined the band shortly before that. That meant that this was the first session since their first single at which the Beach Boys were the classic five-person lineup of Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, and Al Jardine.

    There seems to be some confusion about what happened at that session, as they recorded two backing tracks. One of them became the "Little Saint Nick" that was a hit, but they also recorded a track that later became an album track called "Drive In":

    [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Drive In"]

    But there also exists a recording of that backing track, but with the lyrics to "Little Saint Nick":

    [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Drive In (Little Saint Nick version)"]

    I've seen conflicting accounts of how that track came to exist. Some say that they tried both backing tracks with the same lyrics at the original session, and that they then wrote the "Drive In" lyrics for the track that didn't make the cut as "Little Saint Nick", while others say that they actually sung the "Little Saint Nick" lyrics to the "Drive In" track as a joke a few months later, long after the original "Little Saint Nick" had already come out.

    Whichever is the truth, the version of "Little Saint Nick" that eventually came out as a single was this one, which became one of the last holiday classics in the US Christmas canon:

    [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Little Saint Nick"]

    "Little Saint Nick" is very clearly modelled on an earlier hit by the group, "Little Deuce Coupe", and so it makes sense to me that the track that was chosen was the originally intended one, as musically that's quite close to the earlier song.

    "Little Saint Nick" was only a moderate success on the main chart, but it made number three on Billboard's Christmas Singles chart, which was enough of a success that the group decided the next year to record a full Christmas album. That album included a remixed version of "Little Saint Nick", with the backing track stripped down to sound more like the rest of the album's first side, which was rush-recorded with few overdubs.

    That album was recorded in a style that the Beach Boys did quite a bit at that time, with a side for "the kids" -- uptempo original songs -- and a side for "the adults", with orchestral versions of more traditional Christmas songs, arranged

    Episode 160: “Flowers in the Rain” by the Move

    Episode 160: “Flowers in the Rain” by the Move

    Episode 160 of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “Flowers in the Rain" by the Move, their transition into ELO, and the career of Roy Wood. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode.
    Patreon backers also have a twenty-minute bonus episode available, on "The Chipmunk Song" by Canned Heat.
    Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt’s irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/

    Note
    I say "And on its first broadcast, as George Martin's theme tune for the new station faded, Tony Blackburn reached for a record." -- I should point out that after Martin's theme fades, Blackburn talks over a brief snatch of a piece by Johnny Dankworth.
    Resources
    As so many of the episodes recently have had no Mixcloud due to the number of songs by one artist, I’ve decided to start splitting the mixes of the recordings excerpted in the podcasts into two parts. Here’s part one and part two.
    There are not many books about Roy Wood, and I referred to both of the two that seem to exist -- this biography by John van der Kiste, and this album guide by James R Turner. 
    I also referred to this biography of Jeff Lynne by van der Kiste, The Electric Light Orchestra Story by Bev Bevan, and Mr Big by Don Arden with Mick Wall. 
    Most of the more comprehensive compilations of the Move's material are out of print, but this single-CD-plus-DVD anthology is the best compilation that's in print. This is the one collection of Wood's solo and Wizzard hits that seems currently in print, and for those who want to investigate further, this cheap box set has the last Move album, the first ELO album, the first Wizzard album, Wood's solo Boulders, and a later Wood solo album, for the price of a single CD.
    Transcript
    Before I start, a brief note. This episode deals with organised crime, and so contains some mild descriptions of violence, and also has some mention of mental illness and drug use, though not much of any of those things. And it's probably also important to warn people that towards the end there's some Christmas music, including excerpts of a song that is inescapable at this time of year in the UK, so those who work in retail environments and the like may want to listen to this later, at a point when they're not totally sick of hearing Christmas records.
    Most of the time, the identity of the party in government doesn't make that much of a difference to people's everyday lives.  At least in Britain, there tends to be a consensus ideology within the limits of which governments of both main parties tend to work. They will make a difference at the margins, and be more or less competent, and more or less conservative or left-wing, more or less liberal or authoritarian, but life will, broadly speaking, continue along much as before for most people. Some will be a little better or worse off, but in general steering the ship of state is a matter of a lot of tiny incremental changes, not of sudden u-turns.
    But there have been a handful of governments that have made big, noticeable, changes to the structure of society, reforms that for better or worse affect the lives of every person in the country. Since the end of the Second World War there have been two UK governments that made economic changes of this nature. The Labour government under Clement Atlee which came into power in 1945, and which dramatically expanded the welfare state, introduced the National Health Service, and nationalised huge swathes of major industries, created the post-war social democratic consensus which would be kept to with only minor changes by successive governments of both major parties for decades.
    The next government to make changes to the economy of such a radical nature was the Conservative government which came to power under Margaret Thatcher in 1979, which started the

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
263 Ratings

263 Ratings

Amac333 ,

Amazing

I know I’m late to the party here but as the author asks, someone did recommend this podcast to me and I’m now evangelically doing the same
This is such a thoughtful journey through rock and roll and onwards. The story of the interrelation between music styles is something I’ve been looking for, for years. Told with insight, sensitivity and humour. I can’t praise this enough. I’m now listening to so many new artists and genres.
Turn your amp up to 11 and listen. You’ll thank me.

TimBaileyLondon ,

A brilliant listen

If you think you know a thing or two about rock and roll, think again. An amazingly well researched and presented series where one awaits every episode with anticipation.

Marty555 ,

Incredible detail in every episode

You don’t have to like the song to admire the incredible research into every episode. The cross references are forensic.
The Move episode was totally captivating.

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