Music Guides

Rebel Rebel: A Rock Listener’s Guide to 
Early Modern Classical Music

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If you’re curious about classical music but new to the genre it can seem overwhelming at first with so many periods, styles, composers and performances to choose from. At Jive Time we’re still learning, but it’s been a fun and rewarding journey. With this guide, we’ll share some of our experience with the classical-curious among our adventurous rock-oriented readers. We began our quest by looking for the similarities to rock music instead of the differences.

Many important composers, including all of the artists featured in this guide, were considered musical rebels in their day. Their controversial ideas, ahead of there time, continue to influence classical, jazz and popular music decades later. Rock began borrowing liberally from classical in the late-60’s, … Read more›

Everything Scatter: A Guide to Afrobeat 
and the Music of Modern Nigeria

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Nigeria has one of the richest musical histories of any country on the African continent. Considering the competition, that is really saying something. A country wracked with centuries’ worth of war, poverty, and countless other social ills, music has remained a constant unifying force, and it is the lifeblood of its peoples. For Nigerians, music is not a huge part of life—it is life. In fact, it is said that every Nigerian boy is given a drum before he learns to walk.

The evolution of Nigerian music can be traced back thousands of years, but it was its more modern forms that made the country a major player on the world music stage in the second half of the 20th … Read more›

Glossy Grooves: Selected CTI Recordings

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Creed Taylor Incorporated, or CTI Records, is a jazz label fashioned by producer Creed Taylor. Taylor was widely celebrated as the founder of the famed Impulse! label as well as producing classic records for Verve. Impulse! was regarded as being one of the most adventurous labels in jazz during the mid sixties, known for its high quality packaging and eclectic musical styles. When Taylor formed CTI records in 1967, he took these aspects with him. Along with his producing chops, Taylor recruited the great Blue Note legend Rudy Van Gelder, who provided studio time and sound engineering skills. This dream team, alongside some of the top musicians in jazz, created a body of work consisting of high quality, slick (occasionally … Read more›

Dead Wrong: A Non-Deadhead’s Guide 
to the Grateful Dead’s Studio Albums

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There are very few bands as polarizing as the Grateful Dead, but even their most rabid fans and harshest detractors can agree on one point: The band personified a type of relationship a band can have with its audience. It’s now a model that many bands — especially those of the “jam band” variety — emulate and strive for, and one that is almost taken for granted in today’s fragmented music-consumer culture. It’s easy to forget just how pervasive the Deadhead phenomenon was, especially when it peaked during the final years of the Dead’s active existence. But all parties must come to an end, and when the Grateful Dead (wisely) decided to call it quits after Jerry Garcia’s sad but … Read more›

Funky From Now On: 
A Guide to Funk, Part I “Proto-Funk”

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Funk’s advent was the result of a convergence of many musical events, a “perfect storm” precipitated by the coalescing of all the major postwar African-American musical forms, among them jazz, blues, r&b, and gospel. Like many other innovations in American popular music, it came into its own in the ’60s. Its evolution can be heard in the output of musicians from just about every major US city, but Detroit, Philadelphia, Memphis, and New Orleans (see below) were the real hotbeds of activity. But if there is one individual who can be seen as the form’s prime architect, it’s a man from Macon, Georgia by the name of James Brown. Accentuating rhythm above all else, and essentially making his backing … Read more›

Quiet Chaos: 
An Introduction to ECM Records

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ECM Records is a jazz label founded in 1969 in Munich, Germany by producer/bassist Manfred Eicher. ECM (Edition of Contemporary Music) became known as a label that created a musical environment all its own. The recordings were sparse, minimalistic and relying on space as an accent to create what is now widely known as the “ECM sound”. Most of the recordings were rooted in jazz but combined with other genres. As well as blues, funk and rock, various forms of European folk, world music and contemporary classical music frequently found its way into the landscape. From the packaging, to the pristine production style, Eicher’s releases all are linked with a certain aesthetic that ties them together; he has definitely had Read more›

Beyond the Gilded Palace: 
A Guide to Country Rock’s Golden Age

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Even though early rock and roll was deeply rooted in country music, the two were ideologically at odds from the start. This rift became more pronounced as the ’50s gave way to the ’60s, and by 1965 Nashville was more provincial than ever, seemingly impervious to the supernovas of musical activity in cities like London and LA. Nevertheless, rumblings of a sea change can be heard during this time period even in the music of Rock’s prime movers, the Beatles’ “Run For Your Life” on Rubber Soul just one example.

In 1966, less than a year after he had almost been booed offstage for playing an electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival, Bob Dylan would travel to Nashville to … Read more›

Ska and Reggae’s Missing Link: 
A Guide to Rocksteady

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Aside from reggae, ska was arguably Jamaica’s most important musical form, at least in terms of long-term cultural impact. Becoming ubiquitous all over the island at an astonishing speed in the early ’60s, ska grabbed hold of Jamaica’s musical consciousness like nothing had before. What’s more, despite its strange rhythms and heavily-Jamaican-accented vocals (when it wasn’t entirely instrumental), it crossed cultural boundaries almost effortlessly, making it catch on like mad in Britain and—to a lesser degree—the states.

Many Jamaican artists who eventually became international household names, among them Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff, cut their teeth as performers during ska’s reign. In 1964, Millie Small scored an international smash hit with her skanked-up cover of “My Boy Lollipop”, and soon … Read more›

Beyond Nuggets: 
A Guide to ’60s Ephemera

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In 1972 Elektra Records’ Jac Holzman asked future Patti Smith Group guitarist and bassist Lenny Kay to compile what was a essentially a glorified mixed tape, resulting in Nuggets: Original Artyfacts of the First Psychedelic Era. This release became synonymous with the term “Garage Rock”, but this designation is not entirely accurate. Though rough and tumble staples like the 13th Floor Elevators and the Seeds are represented, more poppy-sounding bands like the Mojo Men, Sagittarius (featuring Glenn Campbell on vocals), and a host of other acts—some of whom were nowhere near a suburban garage when they cut these sides — are there too. Nuggets’ legacy is not so much its innovative (re)packaging of near hits, but its role in … Read more›