140 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

    • Music History
    • 4.7 • 6 Ratings

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

    Admin Note: Podcast Host Moved

    Admin Note: Podcast Host Moved

     Hi



    This is a brief admin podcast to explain why a new episode of the podcast won’t be up for a few days, why the podcast wasn’t available for a couple of days, and also why some of you might have seen all the old episodes turn up again in your podcast app. On Monday, i woke up to find that the Recording Industry Association of America had made a DMCA complaint against episode 112, the episode on “She Loves You”, claiming that it violated copyright law. Now, of course, the podcast does not violate copyright law — everything I do is within fair use rules for the US and fair dealing rules for the EU and UK — but the DMCA is a stupid law that says that as soon as a complaint is received the host company has to take down a file until a counterclaim is made.



    I’d expected this kind of thing to happen sooner or later — while I stay clearly within the bounds of copyright law, the RIAA is known for sending bogus takedown notices, and I have always been willing to reedit episodes as soon as a complaint was made, just to avoid hassle. It’s something I factored into my plans, as a tiny podcaster doing a music history podcast.



    So it would have been fair if podbean had taken down that single episode — and I did an edited version removing all the music clips, so it could be restored. But instead of taking down that one episode, they took down the entire podcast, and refused to put it back online even though I’d reedited the one episode complained about. They also refused to answer my emails, kept replying to my tweets on the subject and deleting the replies when other people pointed out the absurdity of what they were saying, and eventually became actively abusive.



    It took two days of social media pressure for them to reverse their decision and put the podcast back, but obviously I can’t keep using them. So I have migrated the podcast to wordpress.com . The feed has already migrated here, and over the next few days I’ll be sorting out the website and getting the domain redirected. WordPress, unlike most hosting companies, takes freedom of speech seriously, and rejects invalid DMCA claims — and when it does receive a valid one it only takes down the infringing file, not the entire site. 



    Dealing with Podbean’s incompetence and buffoonery has taken two full days — the days I had planned to spend recording and editing the next podcast episode — and I am going to have to spend more time getting the new website into shape, because images and formatting from old posts have been lost in the import. I also have a family commitment this weekend, so I won’t be able to get the new episode recorded until Sunday night — hopefully it will be up on Monday or Tuesday, and then I’ll be back to a regular posting schedule, all else being well.



    Anyway, everything is pretty much sorted now, but I would advise that anyone who worries that their podcast might receive a bogus or malicious DMCA complaint use literally any podcast host in the world except Podbean, unless you really enjoy having your blood pressure raised to dangerously high levels. For the next couple of days things might look a little shoddy on the website and so on, until things are totally sorted, so bear with me.  Thanks for listening.

    Episode 119: “You Really Got Me” by the Kinks

    Episode 119: “You Really Got Me” by the Kinks

    Episode one hundred and nineteen of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “You Really Got Me” by the Kinks, and the song that first took distorted guitar to number one. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode.
    Patreon backers also have a ten-minute bonus episode available, on “G.T.O.” by Ronny and the Daytonas.
    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/
    —-more—-
    Resources
    As usual, I’ve created a Mixcloud streaming playlist with full versions of all the songs in the episode.
    I’ve used several resources for this and future episodes on the Kinks, most notably Ray Davies: A Complicated Life by Johnny Rogan and You Really Got Me by Nick Hasted.
    X-Ray by Ray Davies is a remarkable autobiography with a framing story set in a dystopian science-fiction future, while Kink by Dave Davies is more revealing but less well-written.
    The Anthology 1964-1971 is a great box set that covers the Kinks’ Pye years, which overlap almost exactly with their period of greatest creativity. For those who don’t want a full box set, this two-CD set covers all the big hits.
    Patreon
    This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them?
    Transcript
    Today we’re going to look at a record that has often been called “the first heavy metal record”, one that introduced records dominated by heavy, distorted, guitar riffs to the top of the UK charts. We’re going to look at the first singles by a group who would become second only to the Beatles among British groups in terms of the creativity of their recordings during the sixties, but who were always sabotaged by a record label more interested in short-term chart success than in artist development. We’re going to look at the Kinks, and at “You Really Got Me”:
    [Excerpt: The Kinks, “You Really Got Me”]
    The story of the Kinks starts with two brothers, Ray and Dave Davies, the seventh and eighth children of a family that had previously had six girls in a row, most of them much older — their oldest sister was twenty when Ray was born, and Dave was three years younger than Ray.
    The two brothers always had a difficult relationship, partly because of their diametrically opposed personalities. Ray was introverted, thoughtful, and notoriously selfish, while Dave was outgoing in the extreme, but also had an aggressive side to his nature. Ray, as someone who had previously been the youngest child and only boy, resented his younger brother coming along and taking the attention he saw as his by right, while Dave always looked up to his older brother but never really got to know him.
    Ray was always a quiet child, but he became more so after the event that was to alter the lives of the whole family in multiple ways forever. Rene, the second-oldest of his sisters, had been in an unhappy marriage and living in Canada with her husband, but moved back to the UK shortly before Ray’s thirteenth birthday. Ray had been unsuccessfully pestering his parents to buy him a guitar for nearly a year, since Elvis had started to become popular, and on the night before his birthday, Rene gave him one as his birthday present.
    She then went out to a dance hall. She did this even though she’d had rheumatic fever as a child, which had given her a heart condition. The doctors had advised her to avoid all forms of exercise, but she loved dancing too much to give it up for anyone.
    She died that night, aged only thirty-one, and the last time Ray ever saw his sister was when she was giving him his guitar.
    For the next year, Ray was even more introverted than normal, to the point that he ended up actually seeing

    Episode 118: “Do-Wah-Diddy-Diddy” by Manfred Mann

    Episode 118: “Do-Wah-Diddy-Diddy” by Manfred Mann

    Episode 118 of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “Do-Wah-Diddy-Diddy” by Manfred Mann, and how a jazz group with a blues singer had one of the biggest bubblegum pop hits of the sixties.
    Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode.
    Patreon backers also have a thirteen-minute bonus episode available, on “Walk on By” by Dionne Warwick.
    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/
    —-more—-
    Resources
    No Mixcloud this week due to the number of tracks by Manfred Mann.
    Information on the group comes from Mannerisms: The Five Phases of Manfred Mann, by Greg Russo, and from the liner notes of this eleven-CD box set of the group’s work.
    For a much cheaper collection of the group’s hits — but without the jazz, blues, and baroque pop elements that made them more interesting than the average sixties singles band — this has all the hit singles.
    Patreon
    This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them?
    Transcript:
    So far, when we’ve looked at the British blues and R&B scene, we’ve concentrated on the bands who were influenced by Chicago blues, and who kept to a straightforward guitar/bass/drums lineup.
    But there was another, related, branch of the blues scene in Britain that was more musically sophisticated, and which while its practitioners certainly enjoyed playing songs by Howlin’ Wolf or Muddy Waters, was also rooted in the jazz of people like Mose Allison. Today we’re going to look at one of those bands, and at the intersection of jazz and the British R&B scene, and how a jazz band with a flute player and a vibraphonist briefly became bubblegum pop idols. We’re going to look at “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” by Manfred Mann:
    [Excerpt: Manfred Mann, “Do Wah Diddy Diddy”]
    Manfred Mann is, annoyingly when writing about the group, the name of both a band and of one of its members. Manfred Mann the human being, as opposed to Manfred Mann the group, was born Manfred Lubowitz in South Africa, and while he was from a wealthy family, he was very opposed to the vicious South African system of apartheid, and considered himself strongly anti-racist.
    He was also a lover of jazz music, especially some of the most progressive music being made at the time — musicians like Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, and John Coltrane — and he soon became a very competent jazz pianist, playing with musicians like Hugh Masakela at a time when that kind of fraternisation between people of different races was very much frowned upon in South Africa.
    Manfred desperately wanted to get out of South Africa, and he took his chance in June 1961, at the last point at which he was a Commonwealth citizen.
    The Commonwealth, for those who don’t know, is a political association of countries that were originally parts of the British Empire, and basically replaced the British Empire when the former colonies gained their independence. These days, the Commonwealth is of mostly symbolic importance, but in the fifties and sixties, as the Empire was breaking up, it was considered a real power in its own right, and in particular, until some changes to immigration law in the mid sixties, Commonwealth citizens had the right to move to the UK.
     At that point, South Africa had just voted to become a republic, and there was a rule in the Commonwealth that countries with a head of state other than the Queen could only remain in the Commonwealth with the unanimous agreement of all the other members. And several of the other member states, unsurprisingly, objected to the continued membership of a country whose entire system of government was based on the most virul

    Episode 117: “Don’t Worry Baby” by the Beach Boys

    Episode 117: “Don’t Worry Baby” by the Beach Boys

    Episode one hundred and seventeen of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “Don’t Worry Baby” by the Beach Boys, and how the years 1963 and 1964 saw a radical evolution in the sound and subject matter of the Beach Boys’ work. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode.
    Patreon backers also have a ten-minute bonus episode available, on “You’re No Good” by the Swinging Blue Jeans.
    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/
    —-more—-
    ERRATA: I say that the Surfin’ USA album was released only four months after Surfin’ Safari. It was actually over five months. Also, for some reason I pronounce Nik Venet’s name as if he were French here. I believe that’s incorrect and his name is actually pronounced “Vennit”, though I’m not 100% sure.
    More importantly, I say that “Sweet Little Sixteen” wasn’t a big hit, when of course it made number two on the charts. 
     
    Resources
    There is no Mixcloud this week, because there were too many Beach Boys songs in the episode.
    I used many resources for this episode, most of which will be used in future Beach Boys episodes too. It’s difficult to enumerate everything here, because I have been an active member of the Beach Boys fan community for twenty-four years, and have at times just used my accumulated knowledge for this. But the resources I list here are ones I’ve checked for specific things.
    Becoming the Beach Boys by James B. Murphy is an in-depth look at the group’s early years, up to the end of 1963.
    Stephen McParland has published many, many books on the California surf and hot-rod music scenes, including several on both the Beach Boys and Gary Usher.  His books can be found at https://payhip.com/CMusicBooks
    Andrew Doe’s Bellagio 10452 site is an invaluable resource.
    Jon Stebbins’ The Beach Boys FAQ is a good balance between accuracy and readability. Stebbins also co-wrote The Lost Beach Boy, David Marks’ autobiography.
    And Philip Lambert’s Inside the Music of Brian Wilson is an excellent, though sadly out of print, musicological analysis of Wilson’s music from 1962 through 67.
    The Beach Boys’ Morgan recordings and all the outtakes from them can be found on this 2-CD set.
    As a good starting point for the Beach Boys’ music, I would recommend this budget-priced three-CD set, which has a surprisingly good selection of their material on it.
    Transcript
    Today, we’re going to take our second look at the Beach Boys, and we’re going to look at their evolution through 1963 and 1964, as they responded to the threat from the Beatles by turning to ever more sophisticated music, even as they went through a variety of personal crises. We’re going to look at a period in which they released four albums a year, had three lineup changes, and saw their first number one – and at a song which, despite being a B-side, regularly makes lists of the best singles of all time. We’re going to look at “Don’t Worry Baby”:
    [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, “Don’t Worry Baby”]
    When we left the Beach Boys, they had just secured a contract with Capitol Records, and released their first national hit, “Surfin’ Safari” backed with “409”. Since then we’ve also seen Brian Wilson working with several songwriting collaborators to write hits for Jan and Dean. But now we need to double back and look at what Brian was doing with his main band in that time. 
    After “Surfin’ Safari” was a hit, in one of the many incomprehensible decisions made in the Beach Boys’ career, Capitol decided to follow it up with an album track that Brian and

    Episode 116: “Where Did Our Love Go?” by The Supremes

    Episode 116: “Where Did Our Love Go?” by The Supremes

    Episode one hundred and sixteen of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “Where Did Our Love Go?” by the Supremes, and how the “no-hit Supremes” became the biggest girl group in history. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode.
    Patreon backers also have a ten-minute bonus episode available, on “She’s Not There” by the Zombies.
    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/
    —-more—-
     
    Resources
    As usual, I’ve created a Mixcloud streaming playlist with full versions of all the songs in the episode. 
    For Motown-related information in this and other Motown episodes, I’ve used the following resources:
    Where Did Our Love Go? The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound by Nelson George is an excellent popular history of the various companies that became Motown.
     To Be Loved by Berry Gordy is Gordy’s own, understandably one-sided, but relatively well-written, autobiography.
    Women of Motown: An Oral History by Susan Whitall is a collection of interviews with women involved in Motown.
    I Hear a Symphony: Motown and Crossover R&B by J. Andrew Flory is an academic look at Motown.
    The Motown Encyclopaedia by Graham Betts is an exhaustive look at the people and records involved in Motown’s thirty-year history.
    How Sweet It Is by Lamont Dozier and Scott B. Bomar is Dozier’s autobiography, while Come and Get These Memories by Brian and Eddie Holland and Dave Thompson is the Holland brothers’.
    And Motown Junkies is an infrequently-updated blog looking at (so far) the first 694 tracks released on Motown singles.
    Girl Groups by John Clemente contains potted biographies of many groups of the era.
    The Supremes biography I mention in the podcast is The Supremes by Mark Ribowsky, which seems factually accurate but questionable in its judgments of people.
    I also used this omnibus edition of Mary Wilson’s two volumes of autobiography.
    This box set contains everything you could want by the Supremes, but is extraordinarily expensive in physical form at the moment, though cheap as MP3s. This is a good budget substitute, though oddly doesn’t contain “Stop in the Name 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, this episode contains a brief mention of rape, and the trauma of a victim, and a glancing mention of an eating disorder. The discussion is not particularly explicit, but if you think you might find it upsetting, you might be advised to check the transcript before listening, which as always can be found on the site website, or to skip this episode.
    Today, we’re going to look at the first big hit from the group who would become the most successful female vocal group of the sixties, the group who would become the most important act to come out of Motown, and who would be more successful in chart terms than anyone in the sixties except the Beatles and Elvis.  We’re going to look at the record that made Holland, Dozier, and Holland the most important team in Motown, and that made a group that had been regarded as a joke into superstars. We’re going to look at “Where Did Our Love Go?” by the group that up until this record was known in Motown as “the no-hit Supremes”:
    [Excerpt: The Supremes, “Where Did Our Love Go?”]
    The story of the Supremes starts, like almost every Motown act, in Detroit. Specifically, it starts with a group called the Primes, a trio who had grown up in Birmingham, Alabama, and then had moved to Cleveland, before moving in turn to Detroit. The Primes consisted of Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, and Kell Osborne, and were

    Episode 115: “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals

    Episode 115: “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals

    Episode one hundred and fifteen of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals, at the way the US and UK music scenes were influencing each other in 1964, and at the fraught question of attribution when reworking older songs. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode.
     
    Patreon backers also have a ten-minute bonus episode available, on “Memphis” by Johnny Rivers.
    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/
    —-more—-
    Erratum
    A couple of times I mispronounce Hoagy Lands’ surname as Land.
    Resources
    As always, I’ve created a Mixcloud streaming playlist with full versions of all the songs in the episode.
    Information on the Animals comes largely from Animal Tracks  by Sean Egan.
    The two-CD set The Complete Animals isn’t actually their complete recordings — for that you’d also need to buy the Decca recordings — but it is everything they recorded with Mickie Most, including all the big hits discussed in this episode.
    For the information on Dylan’s first album, I used The Mayor of MacDougal Street by Dave Van Ronk and Elijah Wald, the fascinating and funny autobiography of Dylan’s mentor in his Greenwich Village period.
    I also referred to Chronicles Volume 1 by Bob Dylan, a partial, highly inaccurate, but thoroughly readable autobiography; Bob Dylan: All The Songs by Phillipe Margotin and Jean-Michel Guesdon; and Revolution in the Air, by Clinton Heylin.
    Transcript
    Today we’re going to look at a song that, more than any other song we’ve looked at so far, shows how the influence between British and American music was working in the early 1960s. A song about New Orleans that may have its roots in English folk music, that became an Appalachian country song, performed by a blues band from the North of England, who learned it from a Minnesotan folk singer based in New York. We’re going to look at “House of the Rising Sun”, and the career of the Animals:
    [Excerpt: The Animals, “House of the Rising Sun”]
    The story of the Animals, like so many of the British bands of this time period, starts at art school, when two teenagers named Eric Burdon and John Steel met each other.
    The school they met each other at was in Newcastle, and this is important for how the band came together. If you’re not familiar with the geography of Great Britain, Newcastle is one of the largest cities, but it’s a very isolated city.
    Britain has a number of large cities. The biggest, of course, is London, which is about as big as the next five added together. Now, there’s a saying that one of the big differences between Britain and America is that in America a hundred years is a long time, and in Britain a hundred miles is a long way, so take that into account when I talk about everything else here.
    Most of the area around London is empty of other big cities, and the nearest other big city to it is Birmingham, a hundred miles north-west of it. About seventy miles north of that, give or take, you hit Manchester, and Manchester is in the middle of a chain of large cities — Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, and Sheffield, and the slightly smaller Bradford, are more or less in a row, and the furthest distance between two adjacent cities is about thirty-five miles.
    But then Newcastle is another hundred miles north of Leeds, the closest of those cities to it. And then it’s another hundred miles or so further north before you hit the major Scottish cities, which cluster together like the ones near Manchester do.
    This means Newcastle is, for a major city, incredibly isolated. Britain’s culture is extraordinarily London-centric, but if yo

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