Monday, September 26, 2011

My Musical Autobiography WIP

My Musical Autobiography & review of movie

by Gina Jordan on Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 7:49pm
Last night I watched the movie Put The Needle On The Record, the story of the electronic music industry & its roots; I'd always thought it started in the UK, but it actually started HERE, in Chicago, Detroit, then NYC. In fact none of our radio stations will play it STILL, so even though it started here, it gets the play it deserves everywhere else, hoping it will come back around the long way.

Ok, as I was saying before FB rudely crashed on me, was I appreciated the brief samples & descriptions of the different styles, helped me identify which I liked most. I didn't realize that House means ALL the styles, played in a warehouse, shortened to just House, which covers the full electronic sound scape. Then different styles branched out from that, and it's parent was disco! I always loved KC & the Sunshine band, he was in this movie & at Ibiza, surprised me that his music & disco was at the root of house & all electronic.

I used to rollerskate to his music when I was 11 or 12, and as I got older & into Zeppelin & PFloyd, I was embarrassed to let anyone know I still liked KC too. Apparently that's how I ended up being musically open to a lot more forms of music, my tastes started with the root of the underground house movement. The rock actually came AFTER the electronic stuff, it was folk music & C&W my parents played before that. My 1st album though was Alice Cooper's School's Out, and Jesus Christ Superstar. Go ahead and laugh, lol

They were xmas gifts with my 1st record player; when I was old enough to buy my own, the 1st I bought were bootleg classic rock like Humble Pie & Canned Heat, and industrial music imported from the UK as well as groups like Kraftwerk, and what was considered punk rock then but now is classic rock, the Cars & the Kinks. My 1st concert was Steve Miller Band, then Cheap Trick, KISS, Kansas, Winter brothers Johnny & Edgar, and a slew I can't even remember, was too drunk or high to pay attention or was working 16 hour days as a dancer to 80's music on jukeboxes in strip clubs.

I didn't get into electronic music itself, though I did like disco for a short while--and brave enough to admit it in public--I was more into classic rock of the late 70's woodstock era, then the 80's had a ton of one-hit-wonders I liked, but mostly I got into industrial & stuff imported from the UK in the late 80's to early 90's when I started car audio competing. There wasn't any GOOD bass music back then, rap hip hop hadn't made it to mainstream, though I had been exposed to some of it in Miami's Coconut Grove, it wasn't yet readily available on CD for competing or wasn't good enough until later on. So instead I was using music like Pink Floyd, Kraftwerk, Lords Of Acid, looking for the bass fix even then I was deeply addicted to. Eventually bass competition CDs began being produced & sold, I'd buy them just for the title, the pic & the test frequencies.

I'd discover new groups from those bass CD's, then go out and buy those, disappointed there were only one or 2 good songs each disc. The classic rock I liked didn;t sound good on my system, it wasn't set up for mids and high bass frequencies tended to be badly produced back then as well, the subwoofer lifestyle hadn't yet come of age, nor had technology made production as clean or easy as it is today. So I'd often come close to blowing speakers from an unexpected and unplanned boom that my EQ wasn't set for, especially in Pink Floyd, music I didn't even know had bass until I listened to it in a car with subwoofers, those frequencies could never be heard until I had the speakers made to play them, so that started another new journey into my love of music & bass addiction. 

As in the movie this started with, the only places to hear & party or dance to good electronic music was in gay clubs, mostly male gay clubs where the underground electronic music industry truly began here in the US, where it was a true cultural & gender melting pot, we were all there just to hear the music & move to it, we didn't care about your sexual preferences or your politics or any of it, just shut up & dance or play that funky music, white boy, as KC & the Sunshine Band once sang. There were no designer drugs back then, so it was booze, pot, maybe acid but acid was generally not done out in public especially if one had to drive! We were high on the music & what it made us feel.

To me the 90's was a draught for good music, yet a decade or 2 later I look back & realize a lot of great music was avaialble then but just didn't enter my conscious awareness at the time, such as Depeche Mode & Stevie Ray Vaughan; instead we had stuff like Bananarama, The Go Go's, Blondie, Eurythmics, Too SHort (one of my early faves for the bass & some of his good stuff like Ghetto), Coolio, Dj Jazzy Jeff the Fresh Prince, Prince himself, MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, a slew of some good but most worse than mediocre, soon forgotten names and tunes that the radio played endlessly--the only time I really listened to music that wasn't imported or low frequency bass on CDs or tapes. Now I have CD's & some tapes still, of those groups named above, and a bit embarrassed by some of the titles, like Milli Vanilli, remember those lip syncers??? I still love the music they made even if they were fake singers--the original singers should get some props.

Over the last decade I got away from pop and even bass, listening to more soulful music like Portishead, Type O Negative, Lenny Kravitz, Cadillac Moon, and into promoting music groups & recording content for their web sites and ecommerce from the early 90's to now, with about 8 years offline in between when I didn;t listen to music at all, was ill & disabled until recently, so am now going back to rediscover music I lost track of or missed out on completley, making up for lost time & my self-imposed musical exile (though there's a reason for that, Cadillac Moon's falling apart was a major part of why I refused to hear music for so long--I can't listen without wanting to be involved, and being involved had hurt too much, so I avoided it until this past January 2011).

Back to the movie review, one of the things I agreed with was how there are too many styles of music in the same genre & that it can be very difficult to agree on any standard description or identification, not to mention that anyone with a computer & the delusion they sound good can produce really awful music these days, so the market is flooded with the crappy music, and the underground scene will always be alive & kicking no matter what goes mainstream because we are always pushing the envelope for a more powerful connection in music, for the next big thing, the next unknown or new sh@t. Every DJ dreams of finding that next fresh track no one has heard of yet, and guards his stash of records as if they were the family jewels because in this industry, your music is your identity, career & lifestyle. That box of records--which is now computers and laptops, down to maybe one box of vinyl per show--is your lifeline. Once you play that unheard track in your mix, it ain't your secret anymore, think we proved that with the over-used Bass Cannon!

The bad part of this movie is the T & A focus, being filmed in Miami & Ibiza, the topless women and sex on the dance floor footage took the focus off the music, and with only 80 minutes to cover many decades of history & countless genres, as much as we all like a good looking half naked woman, the point was supposed to be MUSIC. I would love to see someone make a documentary of the electronic music genre styles, with examples from each and WHY they fit where they do but no where else, why people are so adamant about not mixing styles and keeping the beat what I call monotonous (such as trance); then even within that there is hardcore, down-tempo & up-tempo, old school and new school, drum and bass versus jungle versus tribal, the list is literally endless. As many tastes as there are in music, that's how many styles exist. House, the original warehouse music all this was birthed from, was a blend of all electronic music starting with disco & electronic keyboards, synthesizers & industrial sounds (actual metal banging on machines in a factory, real industrial sounds, NOISES). 

When people ask me what genre I like best, I can't answer, for many reasons, but key are:

A: I love too many to pick only one;
B: Who the hell knows what it is called this week? Truly! I know what sounds I like but I hear them in many genres, never limited to just one;
C: Even if you could see my CD collection, you still could not answer that question for me, I love GOOD MUSIC, whatever makes me FEEL it: certain frequencies that affect me physically, emotionally or even spiritually; unusual instruments; electronic effects; haunting or passionately sung vocals; pounding percussion & drums (especially hand drums these days & big boomer bass drums that use sticks the size of an arm) that make the walls shake; mournful bass & other guitars that weep & cry like a woman; flutes, even cellos lately, and many instruments I don't know the name or sounds of, or haven't yet heard. 
D: A little from every culture, ethnic music from places like India, Native American & other indigenous or aboriginal tribes especially, Persia, Norway, Africa, Middle East, Latin & South American, Celtic & the list goes on. 

I recommend seeing the movie for the few good bits, the content is worth a rental if not a purchase of the DVD movie. I hope a better one has since been made that I haven't seen yet, or is in the works, or will be, based on the failures of the current slew of bad music experience documentaries. One thing almost all reviewers had in common was wanting to EXPERIENCE it as if being there, wanting a peek inside the head & body even, of someone at a rave or club, what do they hear, feel, taste, touch, smell? With so much excellent music out there that does affect people on every level, I know it can be done, so the question is why hasn't it been done yet???

To be continued as I watch the available music documentaries, educating myself & reintroducing myself to lost musical loves. Please do suggest any documentaries or movies on the music industry--every kind, not just electronic--that you feel contribute significantly and are worth a gander, as well as the ones that may be a waste of time for low production values or lack of content--not personal preferences which are as individual as people themselves. Thanks for your input & if you made it this far, wow, you must have really been interested in another person's musical evolution, the kind of thing I like to read about in others. Wish I could give you a prize but perhaps there is one, knowledge. As simple as that and as profound.

WeeMee skype character, it doesn't know what style to be either!

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