The Soul of Rock: David Bowie

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There are some musicians who keep you from feeling alone in the universe. David Bowie is one of those.

Bowie’s voice and majestic stage presence earned him the name the Thin White Duke.

He’s songwriting royalty. So many of his songs have brilliant hooks and poetic rhythm. Just listen to the lyrics to “Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide.”

Oh no love! you’re not alone
Youre watching yourself but you’re too unfair
You got your head all tangled up but if I could only
Make you care
Oh no love! you’re not alone
No matter what or who youve been
No matter when or where youve seen
All the knives seem to lacerate your brain
Ive had my share, I’ll help you with the pain
Youre not alone


Born David Jones in 1947 in Brixton, London, Bowie started on the saxophone at age 13.

Three years later he was playing in local mod bands. In 1966 he took the name David Bowie because his given name was being used by the Monkees’ Davy Jones.

In 1969 the first full-length Man of Words, Man of Music came out. It included “Space Oddity”, one of rock’s greatest ballads.

David Bowie’s landmark rock record The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars made him a global phenomenon in 1972.

Bowie’s androgynous stage style and echoing pop songs redefined glam rock. This full-length is still his greatest masterpiece.

Bowie plaque unveiled

An art student by nature, Bowie recognized the cult of the rock star when he decided to create a character called “Ziggy Stardust.”

Ziggy is a glamorous concert guru from another planet.

The corresponding movie has him in outfits not far from what Space Cher would wear.

A male-female vision in white knee-high boots. Ziggy and his music resonated with the U.S. fans and made Bowie an international sensation.

In 1976 Bowie released Station to Station. A fine record in its own right.

At the end of the 70s he moved to Berlin and worked with Brian Eno on a series of records where they experimented with electronic music. Our team at KEXP Documentaries produced a KEXP Documentary on Bowie for the series Pop Goes Electronic.

“Heroes” was a song written by Bowie after he relocated to Germany. He saw a couple in love meeting up next to the Berlin Wall.

 ”I thought, of all the places to meet in Berlin,

why pick a bench underneath a guard turret on the Wall?” – Bowie

David Bowie has released a stunning amount of pop, rock and electronic work.

He’s influenced great electronic and rock acts: Radiohead, the Pixies, Moby, Bauhaus, Bloc Party, Iggy Pop and the Cure.

Other amazing songs from the Thin White Duke are: “Queen Bitch”, “Be My Wife”, “Fashion”, “Fame”, “Golden Years”, “Suffragette City”, “Modern Love” and “Quicksand.”

He’s starred in many movies including The Hunger and Labyrinth.  His magnetism on film makes it hard to take your eyes off of him.

In 2013 he appeared in the opening ceremony for the Olympics in London and is getting a plaque dedicated to him in the city of Westminster for the 40th anniversary of Ziggy Stardust.

David Bowie’s 2013 release The Next Day had one of Bowie’s best song in years “The Stars Are Out Tonight.”

An exhibit of Bowie’s visual works starts running in Berlin this May. Find tickets and the latest news at David Bowie’s official site.

Tune in to DJ Michele Myers Friday nights at 9pm on KEXP 90.3FM Seattle, kexp.org. Music historian and producer, Michele’s made over 200 radio stories for KEXP Documentaries. She’s also written scripts, lesson plans and features for The SmithsonianExperience Music Projectthe University of Washington and NPR.

 

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Best New Band: Temples: UK Psychedelic Rock

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Stepping into the colored psychedelic light, UK band Temples are tuned in.

You can hear the influence of 60s psychedelic rock innovators the Byrds and the Beatles in the band’s first full-length Sun Structures.

There’s a different texture in Temples’ music that you’d never find in landmark vintage bands. A closeness in sound never technologically possible during the British Invasion.

In November of 2012 James Bagshaw, who had some strong skills on vocals and guitar, formed a duo with bass player Tom Warmsley.

Their first single “Shelter Song” dropped soon after.

The track earned Temples a label contract with Heavenly, gigs with some touring big bands, and an opening slot for the Rolling Stones. The duo added Adam Smith on the keys and Sam Toms on drums.

Now based in Kettering, England, Temples as a band sports a look inspired by the 60s, with modern elements of lushness and contemporary functionality.  They are dynamic onstage,

Temples seem to pull inspiration from legendary 60s band Marc Bolan and T Rex in this video for the song “Keep In The Dark.”  Adding, as always, their own twists to the light.

Click on the album cover below to get Temples new full-length or visit their official site.

Tune in to DJ Michele Myers Friday nights at 9pm on KEXP 90.3FM Seattle, kexp.org. Music historian and producer, Michele’s made over 200 radio stories for KEXP Documentaries. She’s also written scripts, lesson plans and features forThe SmithsonianExperience Music Projectthe University of Washington and NPR.

Categories: alternative rock, indie rock, music, new bands, new releases, videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Acoustic Love Songs: The Ramones, M. Ward and Yeah Yeah Yeahs

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“I Want You Around” is an acoustic love song from quintessential punk band The Ramones.

The Ramones were definitive in punk because they included pop song construction. The songs were raw and personal. Many were memorable enough to hum the whole day after just one listen.

From the tongue-in-cheek film Rock and Roll High School, this vid has cameos of all the band members. With Marky Ramone on the drum set, Joey as the “dreamy” lead singer, the ever-serious Johnny on guitar. The muppet-like Dee Dee is behind the shower curtain.

You know if it comes true I’ll be so good to you

M. Ward’s “Undertaker” shines through it’s dark images.

A poetic masterpiece,  played here on light blue vinyl.

Oh, love is so good
When you’re treated like you should be
The sky goes on forever in a symphony of song

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs track “Maps” is one of many rock propulsion rides on the 2003 record Fever to Tell.

Lead singer Karen O lays down this stunning acoustic version.

Wait, they don’t love you like I love you.

Read these Soulful Alternative write-ups on the best songs and histories of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Ramones.

Tune in to DJ Michele Myers Friday nights at 9pm on KEXP 90.3FM Seattle, kexp.org. Music historian and producer, Michele’s made over 200 radio stories for KEXP Documentaries. She’s also written scripts, lesson plans and features forThe SmithsonianExperience Music Projectthe University of Washington and NPR.

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Happy Birthday Bob Marley! Wisdom and Music from The King of Reggae

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Bob Marley was the first reggae star to become world famous.  His music set the standard for all those who came after him.

Bob influenced countless top artists in many genres including: The Rolling Stones, Sade, K’Naan, The Clash, Lauryn Hill, The Police, Burning Spear and Tricky.

He would have been 69 years old today.

Reggae’s great wise man believed in the unification of mankind.

He understood deeply the hearts of all men and women. He played to the common higher ground.

Bob Marley’s landmark collection Legend brings me back to college life at U.C. Berkeley.

Waking up with coffee and the doors open to sunshine as Bob sings out his philosophy of union over a simple, mindblowingly sophisticated groove.

Even on the simplest song “Three Little Birds” Bob Marley exudes mastery.

Continue reading

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The Best Songs and History of Soulful Rock Balladeer Ray Lamontagne

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The sound of Ray Lamontagne’s voice lands somewhere between the genius of Cat Stevens and Otis Redding.

There’s a vulnerability and authenticity to Ray that makes his songs hit harder, though he sings them rather softly. He backs it all up with the most basic, warm acoustic guitar.

His acoustic cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” is a stunner.

Born in Nashua, New Hampshire in 1973. Ray Lamontagne’s single mother moved the family around a lot so that she could find work. Ray says he always felt like the new kid at school.

He graduated high school and found a series of odd jobs, finally landing in Maine with a day job at a shoe repair factory.

One morning he woke up to his radio playing “Tree Top Flier” by Steven Stills. The song inspired him to leave his job and pursue his dream of being a musician. Continue reading

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