lovehate: Pete Frame's Ink Links and Monetizing Music

Okay, right off, if you don't know who Pete Frame is, let me drop some science on you (I feel so lame saying that!)

I first discovered Pete Frame through my love of 70's progressive rock. Frame became known for laying out elaborate family trees of musicians and bands to throughout different lineups and generations. 60's and 70's music was almost incestuous in nature. The concept of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon as it relates to film, could almost be distilled down to the Two or Three Degrees of Bill Bruford or John Wetton when it comes to progressive rock. But Frame laid out every type of pop music: folk, rock, funk, metal, etc..

The great thing about rock family trees is they told a story. If you had a favorite guitar player or drummer and wanted to find out where they came from, you could go to a family tree and track their career back to bands you'd never heard of before. Such a journey opened up the possibilities to music you never knew existed but were willing to take a chance on buying a cassette or album due to the tenuous links set out before you on paper. The ink link had become a recommendation engine that was based on career tracking of musicians.

I'll never forget when the first Asia album came out and the geek in me fell hypnotized to the Roger Dean fantasy dragon on the cover and hearing about this supergroup of musicians I had never heard of before. I had no older siblings and never was initiated into much of the music of the early 70s. My formative years were spent listening to AM radio and top 40 hits. But when that Asia album broke, and it was the biggest selling album of 1982, I fell in love with it and started to research this supergroup's origins. With no world wide web or older siblings to turn to, I happened upon Pete Frame's book of Rock Family Trees.

I learned that Asia was comprised of Steve Howe from Yes, Carl Palmer from Emerson Lake and Palmer, Geoff Downes from the Buggles [remember Video Killed the Radio Star?] and John Wetton from almost every other 70's group combined. I also learned that Yes had a ridiculous amount of lineup changes from the early to late 70s which included Bill Bruford who went on to play drums for King Crimson with John Wetton. Geoff Downes was in the Buggles with Trevor Horn (who would soon produce Frankie Goes to Hollywood), but before that they joined Steve Howe in Yes for a single album. Carl Palmer had played with crazy psychedelic outfits like The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Atomic Rooster before joining Emerson Lake and Palmer. ELP's Greg Lake came originally from King Crimson which, after he left, counted John Wetton and Bill Bruford among its members (this surrounding a short stint Bruford did with Genesis). Lake ended up touring with Asia on a Japanese tour in 1983 for an ailing Wetton. Wetton also played with Roxy Music and Uriah Heep. Keith Emerson played with a band called The Nice before ELP and The Nice's Davy O'List joined a band called Refugee with Patrick Moraz (who also played with Yes for an album). Rick Wakeman of Yes also played with The Strawbs, and Alan White, who took over on drums for Bill Bruford, played with John Lennon, Eric Clapton and friends in the Plastic Ono Band.

Before wikipedia or the worldwide web, I had an incredible two page resource that distilled down the stories of dozens of musicians into a digestible format. I went on a spending spree buying up all the used albums I could find. Pete Frame had unwittingly become the Digg of the early 80s. If music companies want a tool that would be great to take digital music into the future, they should join together to allow users to generate their own family trees. One could track their favorite band back through time, or sideways through side projects to discover new artists. I suppose one of the biggest problems with modern music is that we'd have to eliminate the "feat." appearances from many modern recordings lest the connections become too unwieldy. And I also fear that most teenagers today have lost the ability and desire to commit to a band's infrastructure, much less an entire CD or discography. And I know that iTunes has a Genius and Amazon has a "people who've bought this have also bought" section at the bottom of every page, but these systems don't tell a story. They don't give a musician's evolution. I would always prefer discovering something on my own (or at least have the illusion of it) than buying related goods just because other people have.

Wherefore art thou Pete Frame. Music needs you again.

Podcast 100 - Anniversary 1, Episode 100, The Centennial Screed

Thanks to everyone who's listened to podcast over the past year. On the first anniversary of Episode One of the lovehatethings podcast, I present Episode One Hundred, including discourses on the stagnancy of the Blu-Ray format, the reverse evolution of the remote control, and a summer list to get you a speeding ticket: The Top Ten Classic Arena Rock Summer Fast Driving Songs of All-Time.

lovehate: The Top Ten Classic Arena Rock Summer Fast Driving Songs of All-Time

Okay, I know it's another list, but this is one I've been thinking about for a while and summer driving has prompted me to put this together. If you have to drive somewhere for about an hour this summer, and you've got some open highway on the way, put this playlist together and hopefully you will be inspired to put the windows down, turn the air conditioning off, and go 10-15 mph over the speed limit... remember I said OPEN road. If I had to give you my straight-up Top Ten Songs of All Time, NONE of these songs would make the cut - but for summer driving, they're perfect.

In my suggested mix CD or playlist order:

  1. Boston - Foreplay/Long Time: Yeah, okay, you all love More Than a Feeling, but nothing in MTAF beat the guitar breaks in Long Time before each "Well I'm takin' my time..." instance. I know some of you may also find the pompous grandiosity of Foreplay a little overbearing while driving, but when the Tom Scholz signature riff comes in after the bass punches at the beginning of Long Time, you know it was worth it. Also, in as much as some of you may argue this is two songs and shouldn't count, tough sh** - my list. Plus, when have you EVER heard Foreplay on its own?
  2. The Allman Bros. - Jessica: A true driving song. It's hard to top the beat this song has when you're chugging down the blacktop with the wind whipping in your hair. The best of Southern Rock and driving music wrapped up in one neat KSA bow.
  3. Rush - Tom Sawyer: If just for the first 30 seconds alone, this song makes drivers jump on the gas pedal and make the dials go to 11.
  4. Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run: I've never been a big fan of The Boss, but I can listen to this song over and over again. Perhaps the only song with glockenspiel that makes the list.
  5. Meat Loaf - Bat Out of Hell: I know some people LOVE Paradise by the Dashboard Light, but the Jim Steinman-penned title track to this epic album kicks serious ass. From here on in, "kicks serious ass" will be reduced to KSA, because it will be used repeatedly.
  6. Foghat - Slow Ride: "Slow ride - take it easy." And yet every time this song comes on I seem to find myself speeding. It's now a song I'll always associate with the film Dazed and Confused - and that's not a bad thing!
  7. AC/DC - Back in Black: AC/DC is SO overplayed. I get that the simplicity of the rock riffs and beats appeal to masses more than almost any other band thats been around for 35 years, and I know that everyone probably has their favorite tune, but for driving, Back in Black is IT. Definitely not what you would call a fast driving beat, it is, however, perfect for pulling up to a stoplight somewhere along your journey.
  8. The Who - Won't Get Fooled Again: CSI has done more to destroy the image of this song than the publicity was worth, but herein again is a case where the long 8 minute or so version is essential to your summer drive. And plus, how can you beat a song where the single coolest lyric is a Roger Daltrey screamed "YEEEAAAAAH!"?
  9. Jackson Browne - Running on Empty: Maybe not the "heaviest" song out there, but definitely one that was written for those behind the wheel. Incredibly singable - there's no way you can avoid belting out the chorus and looking like a fool while soccer moms in their hybrids give you weird glances. That said, if you're driving slow enough to be parallel with a soccer mom in a hybrid for more than a couple of seconds - step on it!
  10. Derek and the Dominoes - Layla (full version): Forget about the short AM radio version that came out back in the 70s. You want the 8 minute long epic with piano and slide guitar at the end so you can imagine you're Henry Hill being chased by a helicopter while on a cocaine bender. When listening to this version, try to also forget the devastating acoustic turn on this song done by Clapton in the 90s... made me want to drive into a telephone pole. The easy ending coda on this song makes it a perfect conclusion to the playlist - perfect for pulling up into the driveway.
If you have longer than an hour to go, please consider some of the tracks that didn't make the cut: Kiss - Detroit Rock City, Doors - L.A. Woman, Golden Earring - Radar Love, Stevie Ray Vaughan - Couldn't Stand the Weather, Queen - Fat Bottomed Girls, Deep Purple - Highway Star, Thin Lizzy - The Boys are Back in Town (I know, done to death, but fits this category so well), Elton John - Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting, Triumph - Magic Power (slow build, but great anthemic climax), and last [on the alternate list] Rainbow - Stargazer (I know a lot of you may not have heard this one before, but this song has a huge KSA factor).

If you want to spend $9.90 on 10 kick ass driving tunes on your favorite mp3 download site this summer, you could do a lot worse, and not much better, than any of these.

Here's a link to a Youtube Playlist I created that has full versions (most with video) to the 10 songs above. The embedded player below seems to have only caught five of the songs while embedding, so click on the link if you want all 10.