> On 04/01/2011, Tom Fine wrote:
> > There's a big
> > difference between the big leagues and everything else.
I'll say there is. Apart from Elvis and Sam Cooke with RCA Victor, the "big
leagues" didn't even get into the game until Capitol's success with The
Beatles -- the whole first decade of rock was mainly pitched by minor
labels. Capitol had Gene Vincent and Esquerita, but Buddy Holly was on
Coral, not Decca, Jackie Wilson on Brunswick -- minor subsidaries, not the
parent. Apart from Sid King and rockabilly experiments by mainstream country
music artists, Columbia didn't join in at all until 1965 because Mitch
Miller hated rock music. Then they used a poorly conceived slogan courtesy
of Madison Ave.; "The man can't bust our music."
Warner Bros. and Atlantic were both minors who banked on rock n roll and
managed to transform into majors, and later. merged with Elektra to form
WEA. Nevertheless, the overall history of rock and major labels is a
mutually exploitative one, and I would be very unsatisfied to use them as my
primary filter for access to the music. That so many of the rock acts
reside, in the digital era, with major labels is simply because they bought
up the minors that originally released these records. This practice
continues yet today -- Matador, the label I produced an Unsane album for in
1991, is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Warner Bros.
> saying small-city club rocking means that a
> rock music business is "alive" is like saying just because a bunch of
> semi-literate loudmouths use free blog sites for no wages while
> newspapers die off means print journalism is "alive."
Unless the act was conceived in some corporate boardroom, such as The
Monkees and Puffy AmiYumi -- to name two artistically successful acts; the
norm is more like Sue Saad and the Next -- everyone belongs at some point to
the farm team. I mixed five Nirvana shows before they ever got signed to a
major label, and in a sense they weren't very different in 1989 from most
other bands that I put mikes to then. Not that Kurt Cobain was one -- nor
are for that matter most of the musicians I worked with over the years, or
know now -- but being a "semi-literate loudmouth" isn't neccessarily a bad
attribute for a rock performer to have. And to an extent I concur with
Thatcher Graham; saying in 2010 that Bob Dylan oughta get out of the
business because he can't sing is kind of like someone in 1970 saying Bing
Crosby should hang it up because he doesn't sound as good as he did with
Paul Whiteman -- not that Dylan was ever as good a singer as Crosby. It's
just that time has passed, and those who follow artists like Dylan with
devotion aren't likely to know very much about what else has come along
since "Street Legal."
Out of any history we pick what matters to us; some "Classic Rock" radio
kind of engenders the notion that nothing good has happened in rock since
Led Zeppelin recorded "Presence" in 1975.
For me, admittedly a generalist with a classical background myself, I can
appreciate Elvis in 1955, The One Way Streets from Portsmouth, Ohio -- who
made one single in Dayton in 1970 -- and the band down the street playing
tonight equally well, and all of it matters to me in some way as long as
it's original and interesting.
Uncle Dave Lewis