MUS 210 class notes – the 70s into the 80s


Art/progressive rock

          Yes, “Roundabout” 1971 (Garofalo p. 234) (2 slightly different live versions on YouTube)

          Similar: (Led Zeppelin, "Stairway to Heaven" 1971 (S&L) p. 277) youtube 8 minute radio staple!

          Mothers of Invention, (Frank Zappa) “It Can’t Happen Here”, (S&L) p.  210

          Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, Karn Evil 9, "First Impression," parts one and two (S&L)

          Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, “Hoedown” Youtube

        Classical “cover” – original by Aaron Copland youtube

          Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon, 1973


Art/progressive rock

          Virtuosity à
musical values à private listening experience

          Lyrics – private/cryptic meanings?

          Related to the “me decade”?


Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon, 1973 (selections)

          one minute opening track -- establishes special effects as a frame for the experience of the entire album.

          overall:  a variety of harmonic approaches from simple functional harmony to ambiguous unusual harmony. 

          "Breathe" -- we have to wait for the vocal -- it starts halfway into the track. youtube 

          More scenes playing out in the theater of your head -- "On the Run" special audio effects; in particular, panning the sound from side to side.  “panning” is a term derived from the world of cinema.  “a panorama” is a wide angle shot; a sweeping shot across the landscape was called “panning.”  This term easily got absorbed into audio mixing. youtube

          "Time" -- the reverb suggests a cavernous space, a virtual cathedral within your head.  Contrasting sections of driving rock with dreamy music. youtube

          "The Great Gig in the Sky" -- a contrast of spoken word and wordless singing maps onto my interpretations of repressed emotions versus expressed emotions; the musical styles also seem to suggest "white" European music, with its plodding piano chords and vaguely classical arpeggios versus the expressive "black" gospel or soul style, complete with organ. youtube


Reasons why this is a plausible end-of-term album selection:

          it fully uses the technology of the time for expressive purposes

           a variety of musical styles and textures are used  that can be used to represent the diversity of styles within popular music itself, and you could write about what those styles mean

           as an album, it does seem to be a unified work rather than just a collection of singles 

          - on the charts for 400 weeks

a reason why this is a bad selection:

           you can't dance to it.  As an approving critic wrote (I think it was in Time magazine), reviewing Pink Floyd's use of 400 speakers in a complex audio setup for live performances in the 1970s, 'finally, they got the kids to sit down, shut up, and listen.'  That is not very representative of popular music!


Hard rock, Proto-metal

          Deep Purple, “Smoke on the Water” 1972 (Garofalo p. 266) youtube

          Led Zeppelin, "Stairway to Heaven" 1971 (S&L) p. 277 


          [Parody] hilarious “Beatles” tribute band version using the lyrics with typical early Beatles song style (or bits of actual songs)


Glam rock

          David Bowie, “Changes” (Garofalo p. 273) youtube

        David Bowie, “Fame” 1975  -- coves “glam” and dance/disco genres youtube

          Queen, “Bohemian Rhapsody” (see BBC list) album: A Night at the Opera.  (230th (!) on the Rolling Stone list)

          Elton John (more the image than the music)


R&B à funk

          James Brown James Brown 
clip on YouTube.  See p. 194 for discussion of the song, recorded 1965

          George Clinton P-Funk
 youtube audio


          Earth, Wind & Fire, “Shining Star,” 1975 (Megill; on WebAccess)

          Earth, Wind & Fire, “Fantasy” youtube

          Donna Summer, “Last Dance” (Garofalo p. 315)

          Donna Summer, "MacArthur Park" (S&L) p. 311

          Donna Summer, “Love to Love You” short

          “The Hustle” documentary clip

          Classical comparison: Steve Reich, Music for 18 Musicians, 1977 youtube (NPR 100 chooses Drumming, 1971)

          Dan Hartman, “Vertigo/Relight My Fire” 1979

        Questions of closure & unity; no longer a “song” (a sealed-off complete entity or fixed structure) youtube

          Even Paul McCartney! “Silly Love Songs” 1975 youtube

Not covered in class, but worthy . . .

          Sly and the Family Stone, “Dance to the Music,” 1968 (Megill)

          Gloria Gaynor, “I Will Survive”


Singer/songwriter (?soft rock?)

          Carole King “You’ve Got a Friend” 1971 (Garofalo p. 247).  (pre-boomer, b. 1942; about 29 at the time of the song; 1st songwriting hit at age 18)

          James Taylor youtube


Southern rock

          The Eagles, “Hotel California” 1976 (“Southern”?) poor clip

          Allman Brothers ramblin. Live jessica 1982


Bob Marley

          Exodus (album) 1977

          “Exodus has been recognized by music critics as one of the greatest albums of all time. In 1999, Time magazine named Exodus the best album of the 20th century.  In 2001, the TV network VH1 named it the 26th greatest album of all time. In 2003, the album was ranked number 169 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.” – wikipedia

          “One Love” in at least one textbook’s top 20 (Megill)


And don’t forget pop


          The Carpenters



          The Velvet Underground, “Rock 'N Roll” (Live), 1974 (Megill textbook ex.) proto-punk

          The Runaways, “Cherry Bomb” – proto-punk; female group very unusual 1976 live in 1977

          Ramones, “I Don’t Wanna Be Learned, I Don’t Wanna Be Tamed” 1976 (Garofalo p. 287)

          Ramones, “I Wanna Be Sedated" 1978 clip

          Sex Pistols (Garofalo p. 292)

from message to irony

          The Clash, 1979 clip (album #8 in RS list)

          The Talking Heads

          The B-52’s


New Wave  (late 1970s-early 1980s) The taming of punk?

Talking Heads & David Byrne (band member)

          ·         Early (“Psycho Killer,” 1977) rec. 1978 – nervous performance style fits the song text.

          ·         Twitchy nerd/geek moves absorbed into coherent performance style (“Once in a Lifetime”)

          ·         Performance style now developed and more radiating confidence (via absorbing African-American musical performance style) “Take Me to the River,” from Stop Making Sense, an excellent concert film)

          ·         In this interview he suggests that there are buttons are performing musician can press that will trigger predictable emotional reactions in an audience.  Does knowing that and using those tricks take away from the spontaneity or authenticity of the moment?  Levitin/Byrne discussion

Other ‘meta-pop’ daring to make fun of the codes of popular music

          ·         Devo – not very interested in authenticity (“Whip it” 1980)

          ·         The B-52’s “Rock Lobster” 1978 (longer version 1979)

          ·         Blondie, “Heart of Glass” 1979, an anti-love song; performance style bordering on indifference

The authenticity of irony?

(I know these musical codes and am manipulating you with them; you know these musical codes and enjoy being manipulated by them)


Virtuosity (and non-virtuosity) as a signifier of authenticity

          Punk: non-virtuosity = authentic

          Metal: virtuosity = authentic

          Metallica, “Hit the Lights” Kill ‘Em All, 1983 (initially titled Metal up Your Ass)

          Grunge: non-virtuosity = authentic

          Nirvana, “In Bloom” Nevermind, 1991; non-virtuouso solo at 2:50


David Meckler, Feb 2010

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