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Music that started a musical revolution

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I got inspired to post this thread from some comments Bruce Swedien made about "How High the Moon." I started thinking of music that when I heard it, it absolutely took me over, and screamed "Music will never be the same after this." Here are a few that came to mind...


"Are You Experienced." Absolutely changed my way of looking at the guitar...changed electric guitar to electronic guitar.


"Anarchy in the UK" and "God Save the Queen." A blast of reality in the era of bloated prog rock and disco. The Sex Pistols weren't the greatest musicians in the world, but man, the emotional impact tore through the speakers.


"James Brown is Dead." Set the template for hardcore techno, and turned everything we valued upside down: Overcompressed, distorted, rude, lyrical nonsense that made sense...amazing.


"I Want to Hold Your Hand." It was just a pop tune, but there was a crispness, a vibe, that was very very different from the Bobby Vinton-type material of that era.


"Peggy Sue." It was unearthly -- that weird drum beat, naked guitar solo, and aching voice. Was unique at the time and still is.


How about you?

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My Aim Is True - Elvis Costello


Squeezing Out Sparks - Graham Parker


These showed me how you could be powerful with a lyric instead of a scream or a double kick fill, or a lead solo at the 12th fret, etc.


They were like an intelligent slap in the face to me.

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A breath of fresh air swept the airwaves back in the late 70's, it wasn't BeeGees or other disco dreck, it sounded a bit like Dylan...

It was "Sultans of Swing", Dire Straits. It screamed, to me at least, that rock & roll wasn't dead yet!


"Eccentric language often is symptomatic of peculiar thinking" - George Will


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Killer Queen, just amazed me with what could be done in a studio. All that orchestrated guitar stuff and vocal harmony.

Will the Circle be Unbroken, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band to me was the spark that brought back string music and started the revival that is surging now with bands like Old Crow Medicine Show, Hackensaw Boys, and the like.

Angel Dust and Johannesburg by Gil Scott Heron, changed the way I looked at the world.

Rastaman Vibrations opened up another world view and another link to African beats and guitar riffs seldom heard before.

Lefty Frizzell's Always Late opened up a vocal style thats been copied ever since.

Down like a dollar comin up against a yen, doin pretty good for the shape I'm in
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I'd kinda say one for me was the "Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen" bit...in other words, not a four piece guitar band, but the whole shmear, keyboards, horns, backup singers, and taking an act like that on the road and kicking ass with it. To that end, I've always wanted to be part of a big gig like that, even if it didn't make any money. I think it would just be a blast to play with all sorts of people kicking ass and taking names on stage.
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"Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen was completely entrancing with the highs and lows in both the musical emotion and delivery of the performance. This song was indeed a masterpiece of perfection IMO, and has not yet met it's rival.


You have the classical piano to complete symphonic orchestation and then move to driving electric guitars; returning back to a classical piano. You go from a tender and compassionate operatic solo to full blown chorus, and then move to anger and agression before gracefully moving back into the sensitive and almost helpless state of being. All of these emotions are captured in both the performance of the music as well as the delivery of vocals and are ingeniously wrapped up into ONE song.

You can take the man away from his music, but you can't take the music out of the man.


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Sweetwater: Bruce Swedien\'s "Make Mine Music"

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Any of the Beatles' records in my aunt Janice's collection that I used to play incessantly in the late '60's.


At one point, Rush's 'Moving Pictures'; dense and spacious all at once. I'd hated the band until that record.


The Police's "Zenyatta Mondatta" turned me upside down, as I had hated that band from the beginning, as well. (And any of you who know how big of a Police/Sting et al fan I am will find that hard to digest.)


Probably the biggest, for me, was Pat Metheny Group's "Still Life (Talking)" LP. At that point, I was finally able to see music cinematically. I had sorta been there before with 'American Garage' and his 'White Album', but it came to maturity with 'SLT'. In that album, I finally heard an example of all that I loved and aspired to in recording engineering and musicianship.

I've upped my standards; now, up yours.
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the Byrds - 8 Miles High

John Coltrane - A Love Supreme

The Doors - Light My Fire


Ok, the last two are connected, if you know the story. These are all assembled and constructed like jigsaw puzzles where the pieces don't exactly fit together. Nor should they.

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"Good Vibrations" although that revolution occurred prior to my existence.


I would have to say "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back" by Public Enemy as a pivotol album that took digital sampling to a new level. That and "Blue Lines" by Massive Attack.


I think most recently the "Grey Album" by Danger Mouse has really blown up the whole mash up thing.

"You never can vouch for your own consciousness." - Norman Mailer
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Louis Armstrong - any of the early Hot Fives, Hot Sevens, and his work with King Oliver. Something new was underway.

Miles Davis - "So What," "In A Silent Way"

John Coltrane - "Giant Steps," "A Love Supreme"

Ornette Coleman - The Shape of Jazz To Come

Ray Charles - "What'd I Say," "I Got A Woman." The true merger of secular and sacred. Incredible.


That's just off the top of my head.



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Sugar Hill Gang - Rapper's Delight (IMO, the birth of Hip-Hop. Also, if I'm not mistaken, the first time a prominent riff is "sampled" to become the staple riff for a new song)


Donna Summer - I Feel Love (the birth of synthpop)


Depeche Mode - People are People (maybe it didn't change everyone's music world, but it changed mine. The sampled percussive metal sounds were different than anything else on the radio. Also, Depeche have always backed the technology with extraordinary songwriting - even though this song isn't their strongest songwriting effort)


Nine Inch Nails - Down In It (Rap, Techno, Metal... all mixed up in one. Set the stage for many acts to come)


Alanis Morissette - You Oughta Know (Angry Grrrrl Alt Pop-Rock is born)

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I can't speak to the musical landscape on the whole as my exerperiences are rather personal in this regard but...

In Jr High I spent a lot of time listening to various orchestral composers but spent most of my time listening to Baroque. Then I heard Stravinsky's "The Firebird" and was elementally changed.

At a showing of Star Wars I heard Jean Michele Jarre's Oxygene album playing and was redirected towards electronic music. Completely.

At some point around that time I started listening to movie soundtrack music and discovered (along with the rest of the world) Vangelis. I become intrigued by the possibilities of electronic music in combination with traditional instrumentation.

In my sophomore year of High School I heard Thomas Dolby. I would work very hard to become an electronic songwriter/musician from there on out.

About two years later I heard The Cocteau Twins album "Head Over Heels" and much of the other 4AD music emanating from that period and was moved into a new understanding of audio and the possibilities of performance.

I have to say I have not evolved much since then.

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Long tall Sally, by Little Richard.

Blue Suede Shoes, by Elvis.

Almost cut my hair, by CSN&Y

I've seen all good people, by YES

Beyond the realms of death, by Judas Priest


I could make this a long list.

The alchemy of the masters moving molecules of air, we capture by moving particles of iron, so that the poetry of the ancients will echo into the future.
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Yeah, that's all nice...but not "revolutionary". Most of you are listing your favorite tunes. Revolutionary music, as I believe Craig means it, is any music that was catalyst for huge changes.


Like Kid Orry, King Oliver and Satchmo "beefing up" ragtime and Dixieland to usher in the "jazz" age.


Like Chick Webb adding many more horns and reeds to the sound.


Like Dizzy Gillespi and Bird cutting back on personel and chopping up the rythms while adding the "twilight zone" to the largely improvised solos.


Like Louis Jordan and Louis Prima pounding out the earliest ingredients to "rock'n'roll".


And T-Bone Walker and Big Joe Turner adding their ingredients to the mix.


Like Bill Haley's Danny Cedrone, Eddie Cocharan, Buddy Holly, Scotty Moore and Chuck Berry proving the electric guitar CAN be a rock'n'roll solo instrument. Even better than the previously relied on saxophone.


Like Hank Williams Sr. dragging country music out of the hills and off of the bluegrassy knoll.


Like Elvis proving a pretty boy with a good voice and suggestive moves is NOT a detriment.


Like the Beatles finding a successful alternative to the watered down "doo-wop" that rock music became just before they got here.


Like Bob Dylan, as did his hero Woody Guthrie, showing that folk music didn't HAVE to be all pretty voices singing maudlin lyrics. You can write songs with actual poetry in them!


Like Jimi Hendrix showing that distortion and feedback can actually be used to MAKE music, not ruin it.


Like Keith Emerson with Nice, and later ELP proving that being musically literate isn't necessarily a bad thing. And Yes backing that up.


Like Miles Davis proving that rock music and jazz DO mix well.


And Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin, Josef Zawinul and Chick Corea proving him right.


All those mentioned above are considered "revolutionary" because they spawned entire eras of musical popularity and inspired countless copycats. Queen, as great as they were, remained one of a kind. Nobody attempted to copy or emulate their style. More entertainers at the time tried being the next Elvis. I don't know of ANYbody that tried to be the next Slayer. Hendrix had his copycats, the Beatles spawned probably the largest amount of immitators, and jazz guitarists were content to emulate Wes Montgomery's octaves until McLaughlin showed another way. Even the Beach Boys had mid-westerners singing about surfin'!


THAT'S what revolutionary is!



I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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Rather than list favorites (as some have done) or try to cite true innovators (also done), I'll suggest that there's a long history of music & many that wrote long ago might be eligible for this mantle. Indeed it's probable that most old music we might consider was revolutionary in its time...the pedestrian usually fades from collective memory while the innovative, or at least what follows it, is what stays.


Who was first to include a dominant 7th chord?

How many folk musicians in England sang songs with the third in the melody before the rest of Europe caught on....& then how long was it before it became "officially" allowable? Now the third is a---maybe the--- defining interval in Western/harmonic music!

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James Marshall Hendrix, London, 1967 - Prompted by his management, the shy Hendrix asks Pete Townshend what kind of amp he should buy. God Save the Queen!


Wendy Carlos, New York, 1967 - The young studio engineer/electronic music experimenter asks Robert Moog for some modifications to his synthesizer to make it more musically expressive. Emerson, Wakeman, Jobson, Vangelis, and Zawinul are blissfully unaware of the revolution that is about to be thrust upon them.


John Lennon, Liverpool, 1957 - Asks a younger kid named McCartney to join his band, The Quarrymen.


Elvis Presley, Memphis, 1953 - A young worker from a local machine shop wanders into a recording studio on his lunch hour to record two songs as a birthday present for his mother.


Charlie Parker, 1941 - Complex harmony enters the jazz vocabulary in a big way.


Robert Johnson, Austin, 1936 - Blues, rock, rock 'n' roll all descend from a handful of recordings by the ill-fated delta bluesman.


George Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue, 1924 - The successful (and popular) melding of jazz with "serious" music opened the door for the Golden Era of show tunes and the wide popularization of swing music.


Igor Stravinsky, Paris, 1913 - The world premier of The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du Printemps) resulted in a riot. The Paris police were called to restore order during intermission. Every film composer from Elmer Bernstein to John Williams has profitted from the strong human emotions exhibited at that infamous riot.


Ludwig van Beethoven, Vienna, 1808 - World premier performance of the Fifth Symphony (and the Sixth, Beethoven worked on them simultaneously). The modern symphony orchestra stretches its wings to maximum capacity for the first time.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Salzburg, 1742 - Mozart arranges a series of pieces for string quartet. The pieces, which caused quite a stir, had been written by a then-obscure German keyboardist named Johann Sebastian Bach.


France, 12th Century - The beginnings of Western polyphonic music.

The Black Knight always triumphs!


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Well, d, you can probably come up with more of the technical verbiage than most anyone here, and of course, there are ideas that have been tried and ignored by all but a few in history. Who's the first to use a dominant seventh chord? Who knows? But as with most everything else that's pinpointed as revolutionary, it's a sure bet that person got left in the shuffle. For all we know, that person used it and was summarily laughed at. And more than likely, someone else remembered it years later and introduced it's use in a work that found acceptance. Eventually, somebody(thank goodness)brought vocalizing away from the drone of Gregorian chant to high opera. And somebody else thought it a good idea to gather 40 or more musicians together to play music that contains more than four or five musical ideas. None of it is the point.


I think what Craig is attempting is this: Most, if not all, of the members in this forum have an affection for modern music. For some, "classical" music may only pertain to anything recorded before 1985. If not sooner. So, as the predominant taste is in the rock'n'roll, or "pop" music area, those songs or those performers that made wide ranging and large upheavals of change in popular style and construction of music that affected and/or infected the listener's favor are sought.



I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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Are you Experienced for sure. In the context of the sounds of that time period it was as if a musical alien had landed.


Sgt Peppers totally blew me away and raised the bar for what pop/rock could be.

However, the very early Beatles stuff probably had more mass-impact.


Mahavishnu and C. Corea RTF was the bow wave of the fusion genre. They raised the level of musicianship big time.


Zappa- what can you say. He might not have change anyone else but his music certainly pushed the envelope in a number of ways.


Some of the early Floyd stuff also comes to mind.

-Atom Heart Mother for instance.


I may well be my age but I really do feel that there was a golden age of musical innovation that took place in the late sixties through mid seventies or so. So much of the equipment we now take for granted and so many of todays sounds were being created for the very first time back then.

IMHO Its much harder to be truly revolutionary today.

Check out some tunes here:


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Rebel Rouser,






Travelin Man,


The Poor Side of Town,


Turn, Turn, Turn,


For What It's Worth,


and....Suzie Q, Born To Be Wild...


Anything that crossed Boss Radio and KRLA during the late 50's through the late 60's...


Can we start on Car songs???



Label on the reverb, inside 1973 Ampeg G-212: "Folded Line Reverberation Unit" Manufactured by beautiful girls in Milton WIS. under controlled atmosphere conditions.
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Well the mention of beethoven, and the likes, made me re-evaluate the question, but I still want to say Bob Marley!

I travelled for a year about the place, I couldn't believe how much influence I saw of his music everywhere around the world.


..and i'm not talking about everyone sitting around somking spliffs! :D

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Originally posted by Anderton:

I started thinking of music that when I heard it, it absolutely took me over, and screamed "Music will never be the same after this."

I thought that when I heard Cher's "Believe."


"Good grief! What is that hideous, honking vocal effect? Let's hope that it doesn't catch on an end up on EVERYBODY'S record!"


Too late!

The Black Knight always triumphs!


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Like DJDM, I speak from personal experience.


1. Allan Holdsworth. When I first heard those huge, hard to play chord clusters, and lead tones... I just went, "GODDAMN!" He's influenced a lot of my ideas on guitar, even if I can't play half his stuff. Not to mention his explorations with synth guitar.


2. Yes. Yes? Like epic, theatrical-sounding rock? Yes? :D


3. Miles Davis. Man, this dude did just about everything! Cool jazz, fusion, rap, orchestras... yet he retained his own charm and approach to his trumpet lines and compositions.


4. Robert Johnson. He may have "sold his soul to the devil", but his music and inflections still influence anyone with a blue note in their own brew.


5. J.S. Bach. I don't listen to his music just because Yngwie Malmsteen does, too. ;)

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All good stuff sofar.


I'd throw in "Dark Side of the Moon" and "The Wall".


Return to Forever, "Romantic Warrior" ... Wow!


If Purple's "Machine Head" didn't define heavy music for the next 20 years or so, I don't know what did.


Honorable mention in the heavy catagory goes to , Sabbath's "Paranoid", "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" Priest's "Hell Bent for Leather" and Iron Maiden's "Killers"


Sly and the Family Stone, "Dance to the Music" and Stand.


Weather Report, "Heavy Weather" Can you say Jaco? I knew that you could.


I couldn't leave off "Texas Flood". A very important Album for guitar.


"Abraxas" deserves at least a mention on that note.


And, something from this century ...


Outkast, "Speakerbox/The Love Below".


OK, I could add about a thousand more.

I really don't know what to put here.
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