Once upon a time, the catchall genre known as electronic dance music was created with a steady pulse, a very European 4/4 beat that rarely crossed the line between it and the funkier 3/4 beat of black dance music. But that was all to change after DJs discovered a two-decade-old jazz breakdown, done by a group of one-hit-wonders who never dreamed of a thing called hip-hop, much less jungle or dnb. Chart the rise and fall of "Amen Break" in this appreciation.
Whatever turmoil the world might have been going through in the 1950s and 1960s -- and there was a lot -- novelty records pretty much stayed out of the fray, concentrating on safe subjects like summer camp, marriage, social drinking, and rock and roll itself. That was all over by Watergate: likely as not, the funniest and strangest hits of the '70s were as likely to take on economics, politics, and changing social mores. Oh, and there was a lot more sex. Here are the greatest novelty hits of the 1970s.
The Little River Band set out to be the first Australian rock band to conquer America, and that they did, although they did so by aping one of its most popular West Coast bands. Nevertheless, they sound found themselves with a multi-guitar, multi-vocal sound all their own... until their supergroup alliance began to fall apart, that is. Learn all about the life, music and career of Little River Band in my latest profile.
It was the summer anthem for people who couldn't make it to the beach, a portrait of city dwellers trying desperately to beat the heat. Yet "Summer in the City" wasn't just one of the oldies era's great summer songs about finding a girl and dancing all night; it also served as background music for an increasingly explosive urban landscape -- and it also managed to introduce two new concepts to rock and roll in the process. Read all about the history and creation of "Summer in the City" here.
The music known as "yacht rock" wasn't always thought of as such -- a subgenre of the slickest '70s soft-rock, it wasn't awarded its true place in the pop-culture pantheon until a filmmaker noticed just how chummy the Los Angeles scene in the late Seventies, how much these guys wanted to prove they had soul, and how well their music worked when you were a yuppie having a mellow get-together on your party boat. Read all about the past and recent history of "Yacht Rock" in this appreciation.
R&B began the year 1964 as a dead entity, at least as far as Billboard magazine was concerned: having considered the African-American cultural wars won, at least on the pop chart, they discontinued the "Rhythm and Blues" chart entirely, a move which lasted approximately eleven months, until someone pointed out that there was a raw, gospel-based and blues-born new entity black listeners were enjoying, one which had little to do with the latest dance crazes, girl group romances -- or, for that matter, "rock and roll." Here are the best of 1964's R&B classics.
The latest news for rock and roll, soul, pop and R&B artists of the '50s, '60s, and '70s, compiled here by your Oldies Expert at About.com.
Rufus Thomas was a showbiz vet at 30, a highly influential disc jockey at 40, and a Memphis soul man at 50 -- the "World's Oldest Teenager," responsible for a string of fun dance craze hits that led America to impersonate several different animals during funk's heyday. And the man behind "Walking the Dog" and "Do the Funky Chicken" -- and father of Carla, another Stax soulster -- hadn't even demonstrated all his talents yet. Learn all about the life, music and career of Rufus Thomas in my latest profile.
It's been used over 800 times in hip-hop, dance, pop, and rock history, making "Funky Drummer" the most sampled track in all of music history. But even James Brown knew he had something special when he led his band through a jam in late 1969, and when technology changed the way hip-hop was created, one two-bar snippet of a forgotten single suddenly became the most important thing the Godfather of Soul was ever associated with. For a while, anyway. Chart the rise and fall of "Funky Drummer" in this appreciation.
Tony Orlando and Dawn were the safe alternative to the often strange and angry entertainment of post-hippie America, guiding audiences through Vietnam and Watergate with a sound equal parts bubblegum, vaudeville, and blue-eyed soul. Not only were they one of the first ethnically diverse hit groups, they were also one of the most visible, thanks to their weekly variety and comedy show. And yet success would backfire on Orlando, leading him, in the face of tragedy, to wonder just what his decades of success had all been about. Read all about the life and career of Tony Orlando and Dawn in my latest artist profile.