Minggu, 05 Agustus 2007

Rock & Roll Articles

Ask 20 people for a definition of rock & roll and you'll get 20 different answers, for everyone has their own idea of what the music is and what it should do. And that's good, because if rock & roll could be defined with a simple, concise description, it would've died sometime in the mid-'60s. Rock & roll defies categorization: you can't trace its origins back to one particular source, you can't define its content with words like "rebellion" or "sexuality," and you can't pinpoint its sensibility with one clever catch phrase.

More than any other genre of 20th century music, rock & roll has stood the test of time on the strength of its diversity -- the diversity of the countless producers, engineers, songwriters, vocalists, and musicians who create the stuff. The hierarchy in anyone's personal history of rock & roll is predestined to include dozens of eclectic names and song titles. And the things people think rock & roll should do vary as wildly as the artistic approaches of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones Some think it should be full of rebellion, anger, and venom, and they point to the early work of the Who, the Rolling Stones, or the Sex Pistols or to the rantings of some contemporary agit-popster. Others may see it as a vehicle for romantic expoundings, positing their arguments with an armful of doo wop singles and the complete works of Phil Spector. Still others may argue that the music is simply a white bastardization of black blues and R&B; these people can point to just about any post-'50s group and make a convincing argument.

But rock's origins aren't so easily defined. Many critics and historians credit Jackie Brenston's "Rocket 88," recorded in 1951 at Sam Phillips's Sun Studio in Memphis, TN, as the first "rock & roll" record. Its driving beat, over-amped guitar riffs, blaring horns, and automobile-as-sexual-metaphor theme lend weight to this theory. What about the blues-laced prewar country work of Jimmie Rodgers or the vivid imagery and pathos in the oeuvre of Hank Williams? What about the prewar and postwar gospel that provided much of the foundation for not only rock & roll but for blues, R&B, and soul? What about the swaggering jump-blues that proliferated in the Midwest and on the West Coast during the '40s and early '50s? What about the Delmore Brothers' choogling, revved-up acoustic country? What about the high, mournful wail of Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers? What about the raucous assault of blues pioneers such as Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Walter Jacobs, and Sonny Boy Williamson?

The diversity of rock's origins may explain why the Rock, Pop, & Soul chapter of the All-Music Guide is the most variegated section of the book. With over 20 critics applying their opinions and critical idiosyncrasies to the canon of 20th century popular music, the variety of music highlighted is certain to be eclectic, to say the least. Whatever your personal definition of rock & roll may be, that eclecticism is necessary, if only to give an accurate overview of what's out there. It also means, however, that not every starred or bulleted album is going to fill everyone's needs. Someone may think Michael Bolton is a pockmark on the face of contemporary pop; someone else may think he's inherited the white soul-man traditions of Van Morrison or the Rascals. Whatever your opinion, in the pages of this section there's a bulleted album recorded by Bolton We realize no one is going to agree with every critical assessment found in this chapter, and no one should; if they do, they probably aren't asserting their own personality quite as strongly as they should. And some may squabble that we've included contemporary and vintage soul, doo wop, and jump-blues within the rock and pop section. But without the artists who've worked and continue to work in those genres, the rock & roll section of any book (or record store) would be considerably smaller -- and far less interesting.

What this chapter should do, however, is act as a guidepost for the curious, a map to guide readers through areas of music they may not find on their own. You may already know about a lot of the music discussed here, but maybe you'll find a record that somehow slipped through the cracks of popularity. Or maybe you're interested in tracking down the finest album by an obscure New York noise band or an overlooked doo wop quintet. Odds are, you'll find them both somewhere within these pages. Keep in mind, though, that regardless of how painstakingly the All-Music editors have worked at making this a definitive portrait of what's good in rock, pop, and soul, it is not definitive -- there's no way any one book ever could attain that goal. But if it makes one person purchase an album by an artist they've never heard of, if it makes somebody decide once and for all to dig into the roots of American music to find out where the Rolling Stones got all those cool old songs, the All-Music Guide has accomplished its task. You, the reader, will be the final judge of its success.

By John Floyd

Tidak ada komentar: