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October 24, 2008

My take on music Then vs. Now

All right, all right, all right! Glad to see the lively discussion going on about this topic.

In the past several weeks, I've put much thought into this. And I have decided that it is unfair to compare music then from now. When we think of music from the '60s and '70s, the really memorable bands are the first to come to mind. Right now, we won't know what the music of '90s and '00s will be remembered for until several decades from now.

But that's a cop-out. 

If I really had to compare, here is what I would say ...

radioheadFirst off, the Beatles are off limits. The Beatles are too good for lists or comparisons. I very seriously doubt another band will have the same impact on popular music in my lifetime.

Time warps people's perceptions. Everybody loves to look back with this sense of false nostalgia. 

One thing worth noting about the Beatles -- Rubber Soul and each of the subsequent albums sold far fewer copies than their previous, pop-focused records.

Oh, and Kind of Blue, the Miles Davis album regarded as one of the best and most influential jazz records in the history of the genre, took more than 30 years to reach gold status (more than 500,000 copies sold), according to the book Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece.

Back in the day, we had Eric Clapton, a blues guitarist who found mainstream success in the '70s with rock music. Yes, Cream were a hugely influential psychedelic blues rock trio. But they did not make Clapton a household name. He will be remembered as one of the best blues rock guitarists of his generation. Here is video proof.

Today, we have John Mayer, a blues guitarist who found mainstream success in the '00s with pop music. Yes, Mayer's live blues trio has the potential to be influential. But we won't know the extent of that until some years from now. Either way, there's no denying -- he will be remembered as one of the best guitarists of his generation. Here is video proof.

john mayerBack in the day, we had Pink Floyd, an innovative, experimental rock group who found mainstream success in the '70s. They sold out large concert venues, and their concerts had remarkable light shows and special effects. Here is video proof.

Today, we have Radiohead, an innovative, experimental rock group who found mainstream success in the '90s. They sell out large concert venues, and their concerts have remarkable light shows and special effects. Here is video proof.

Obviously, I can't offer comparisons like this for every genre, because that would take weeks and probably bore you to death. But these were the first two that came to mind.

And for those of you whining about my exclusion of the '80s -- that was a weird time for music. It gets its own blog post. Just not now.

So no, it's not fair to compare today's music with the music from past decades. Apples and oranges. But there were people doing remarkable things with music then, and there are people doing remarkable things with music now.

(AP photos)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:24 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Random stuff


led zeppelin was then. nothing more needs to be said.


You make it sound like they belong the past and have lost standing, although I know you mean differently.

I didn't like Led Zep and my appreciation now is small.
I think a lot people would rank The Beatles, tnen The Rolling Stones before them.

There probably people who would argue strongly for any of the following: The Chad Mitchell Trio, The Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul & Mary, Eric Clapton & The Moody Blues.

It was and remains subject, which has been said multiple times in the comments

I don't listen to the radio, except for sports and news, maybe talk radio. I don't know any of the bands today. I rely on friends and blogs to tell me when good bands are coming to town.

I love classic rock, classic funk and soul, love the 70's...I'm not really into the stuff any of those bands might still be putting out today, except for PFunk.

I'd say 75% of what I listen to are my recordings. I love the local music scene in Baltimore today, it's very diverse and there's alot going on. I prefer listening to the music being made these days, though I slip in the other stuff every now and then to break it up.

Since it's an endless debate, how about a detour for today's music? I looked through the comments and noticed I make no mention of two shows that I taped in the past week that were outstanding and I wanted to share those with some of the readers who may not know about Beatbots (where my stuff usually shows up). You don't need to download anything to listen to the music.

Last Saturday, Oct 18, I taped the Baltimore Afrobeat Society's annual bash at Floristree. Fantastic set of two and a half hours of Fela-loving fanatics:

Then on Monday, Oct 20, at the Ottobar, I taped Double Dagger (local bubblegum punk), Vincent Black Shadow (local hard rock), and DMBQ (Japanese psychedelic rock). The DMBQ show is incredibly amazing (though video would be better), DD set is really good and it was the best VBS set I've seen:

Sorry for the length...

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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