Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More Bach Rock

Baroque Pop Week: Part 2
So continuing with the Baroque Pop theme of the week, I probably should mention other terms interchangeable with this genre include Baroque Rock, Bach Rock, and Chamber Pop/Rock. Also, a related sidenote, the use of classical instrumentation in rock music eventually evolved into another subgenre that developed in the late-1960's called Progressive Rock, which then began drawing influence from jazz and Eastern music, in addition to classical. Prog rock is much more complex in song structure, which eventually led to the development of concept albums and "art rock." (Early progressive rock artists include The Beatles and The Beach Boys, followed by Pink Floyd, Yes, Jethro Tull, Genesis, Frank Zappa, Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, and Electric Light Orchestra in the 1970's.) Okay, so this genre is in need of it's own post on another day, but just wanted to distinguish between the two for now.

And now back to Baroque Pop. If you're not sick of it yet, this post is going just slightly hog-wild (again) with more videos from this genre!

I've recently discovered that the English group The Zombies are an extremely under-rated band from the 1960's, seriously. In fact, I'm probably going to dedicate a post to their final album very soon. From May 1969, "Imagine the Swan" was The Zombies' last single, and they had actually long disbanded by the time it was released. During the first part of the verses, you'll notice another Bach-flavored (i.e. The Well-Tempered Clavier ) harpsichord accompaniment, played by keyboard wiz Rod Argent, who was also one of the group's principle songwriters with member Chris White. There are no live performances of this swansong, so here's the audio/slide-show video:

Next up, it's The Move, one of the leading British rock bands of the 1960's (and a main originator of Power Pop) who unfortunately never found much success in the U.S. until the group transitioned into the 1970's group Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) with the help of Jeff Lynne (yeah, that same guy also from The Traveling Wilburys). "Beautiful Daughter" is one of those songs that is on the border between Baroque Rock and early Progressive Rock. Released in February 1970 (I know, I just ventured two months out of the '60s!), this well-written beauty has wonderful vocals by Carl Wayne and was composed by the group's leader and guitarist, Roy Wood. Here is a great live performance, unfortunately, it doesn't include the string accompaniment (no other video available on YouTube).

And now for something completely different, this is 1967's "Proper Ornaments" by the New York-based vocal group The Free Design. Made up of members of the Dedrick family (brothers Chris and Bruce and sister Sandy as the original line-up, and later joined by younger sisters Ellen and Stephanie), The Free Design sang jazzy pop music, as well as baroque pop and sunshine pop. With a classically-trained background, they are known for their complex harmonies, jazz-like chord progressions, and off-beat time signatures. It's unfortunate this talented group did not gain much commercial success.

Now an absolute classic from 1967 is "Different Drum" by Linda Ronstadt & the Stone Poneys, written by Michael Nesmith prior to his joining of The Monkees. Although The Stone Poneys were typically a folk-rock group, this song crosses into the baroque pop/sunshine pop territory with the harpsichord/string accompaniment throughout, especially the classical-inspired instrumental interlude. With the fantastic vocals by "The First Lady of Rock," it's no wonder this song remains Linda Ronstadt's most popular recording.

Later this week, check back in to read about one of the most significant songs of the 1960's that shaped rock 'n' roll! Hint: I'm feeling some 'good vibes' about this one.

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