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The Songfactors' Choice: Groundbreakers


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I was contemplating a My Bloody Valentine nomination, but they were influenced by Sonic Youth, so that's gone.

Just because a band/artist has been influenced by somebody else, does not mean they cannot be groundbreaking in their own right. For instance, My Bloody Valentine's "Isn't Anything" and "Loveless" are both groundbreaking albums, and no mistake.

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Info from Wiki:

First album released on RCA Victor records in mono. It was recorded July 1954 to January 1956 and was released March 23, 1956. Its Genre is Rock and roll Rockabilly. It spent ten weeks at #1 on the Billboard Top Pop Album chart that year. In 2002, the album was ranked #55 on Rolling Stone magizine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

I will add my own feelings about my remembrance of the Elvis phenomenon. It truly had an impact on music as we knew it then. I remember arguing with my then spouse about Elvis. I said that he was going to be very famous and the spouse insisted he was only going to be a flash in the pan. Guess who won. I also remember going to my parents house to watch Elvis on Ed Sullivan on their black and white tv. He was filmed from the waist up because of his (lewd) hip gyrations. My dad was going to turn him off and I remember that we had to do some fast talking to keep him on but he did let us finish watching Elvis altho' he retired to the bedroom. My dad called Elvis trash and I don't think he ever changed his mind. Elvis' first album blasted onto the music scene and the rest is history.

Side One:

1. Blue Suede Shoes

2. I'm Counting on You

3. I Got A Woman

4. One-Sided Love Affair

5. I Love You Because

6. Just Because

Side 2:

1. Tutti Frutti

2. Trying to Get to You

3. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry (Over You)

4. I'll Never Let You Go (Lil' Darlin')

5. Blue Moon

6. Money Honey

Heartbreak Hotel was Elvis' 1st #1 single but wasn't on his first RCA album.

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I remember so well when Elvis came on the scene. Seems like yesterday to me. I was a very young married woman with kids at that time.My poor Dad thought things were going to hell in a handbasket. If it wasn't country it just wasn't. I don't remember him listening to much music but he sure had his opinion about Elvis and not good either. :blush:

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[big]Tommy -- The Who[/big]

1. Overture

2. It's a Boy

3. 1921

4. Amazing Journey

5. Sparks

6. Eyesight to the Blind (The Hawker) (Williamson)

7. Christmas

8. Cousin Kevin

9. The Acid Queen

10. Underture

11. Do You Think It's Alright?

12. Fiddle About (Entwistle)

13. Pinball Wizard

14. There's a Doctor

15. Go to the Mirror!

16. Tommy, Can You Hear Me?

17. Smash the Mirror

18. Sensation

19. Miracle Cure

20. Sally Simpson

21. I'm Free

22. Welcome

23. Tommy's Holiday Camp (Moon)

24. We're Not Gonna Take It/See Me, Feel Me

All songs written by Pete Townshend except where noted.

Tommy introduced the rock opera to the masses, catapulted The Who to superstardom and even though the story might not be very easy to understand just by listening to the album, it carried a message. It made the Top Ten of Q’s “Albums that changed musicâ€, and even though The Pretty Things and Small Faces may have been a little faster with releasing their respective rock operas, the honour of being able to claim the invention of the concept of the rock opera still falls to The Who and their 1966 ‘mini opera’ A Quick One, While He’s Away. And Tommy, released in 1969, was far more successful and influential than its predecessors – and far more groundbreaking.

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Found my second groundbreaker. An album that marked the introduction of rock to the Great White Way: The soundtrack to the musical Hair.

Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical is a rock musical with a book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni and music by Galt MacDermot. A product of the hippie counter-culture and sexual revolution of the 1960s, several of its songs became anthems of the anti–Vietnam War peace movement. The musical's profanity, its depiction of the use of illegal drugs, its treatment of sexuality, its irreverence for the American flag, and its nude scene caused much comment and controversy. The musical broke new ground in musical theatre by defining the genre of the "rock musical", utilizing a racially-integrated cast and inviting the audience onstage for a "Be-in" finale.

Songs from Hair have been recorded by numerous artists, including Barbra Streisand and Liza Minelli. The Fifth Dimension released a medley of the two songs "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" in 1969, the year after the show opened on Broadway, which won Record of the Year and topped the charts for six weeks. Some other songs from the show became top 10 hits that year. The Cowsills's recording of the title song "Hair" climbed to #2 on the Billboard charts. "Good Morning Starshine" as sung by Oliver reached #3, and Three Dog Night's version of "Easy to Be Hard" went to #4. Another notable version of a song from Hair at the time was Nina Simone's medley "Ain't Got No — I Got Life" on her 1968 album 'Nuff Said!, which reached the top 5 on the British charts. "Good Morning Starshine" was sung on a Sesame Street episode in 1969 by cast member Bob McGrath. In 1970, ASCAP announced that "Aquarius" was played more frequently on U.S. radio and television than any other song that year.

1. Aquarius - Ronald Dyson

2. Donna - Gerome Ragni

3. Hashish - Melba Moore

4. Sodomy - Steve Curry

5. Colored Spade - Lamont Washington

6. Manchester England - James Rado

7. I'm Black - Steve Curry

8. Ain't Got No - Melba Moore

9. I Believe In Love - Melba Moore

10. Ain't Got No (Reprise) - Melba Moore

11. Air - Melba Moore

12. Initials - Melba Moore

13. I Got Life - James Rado

14. Going Down - Gerome Ragni

15. Hair - James Rado

16. My Conviction - Jonathan Kramer

17. Easy To Be Hard - Lynn Kellogg

18. Don't Put It Down - Steve Curry

19. Frank Mills - Shelley Plimpton

20. Be-In - Melba Moore

21. Where Do I Go? - James Rado

22. Electric Blues - Paul Jabara

23. Manchester England (Reprise) - James Rado

24. Black Boys - Diane Keaton

25. White Boys - Melba Moore

26. Walking In Space - Melba Moore

27. Abie Baby - Ronald Dyson

28. Three-Five-Zero-Zero - Melba Moore

29. What A Piece Of Work Is Man - Ronald Dyson

30. Good Morning Starshine - Melba Moore

31. The Bed - Melba Moore

32. The Flesh Failures (Let The Sunshine In) - Melba Moore

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"Silver Apples" by Silver Apples

Released: 1968

Genre: Experimental rock / Psychedelic rock / proto-electronica / proto punk

Label: Kapp

Track listing

1) "Oscillations" (Danny Taylor, Stanley Warren) 2:48

2) "Seagreen Serenades" (Simeon, Warren) 2:55

3) "Lovefingers" (Simeon, Warren) 4:11

4) "Program" (Simeon, Warren) 4:07

5) "Velvet Cave" (Simeon, Warren) 3:30

6) "Whirly-Bird" (Simeon, Warren) 2:41

7) "Dust" (Simeon, Warren) 3:40

8) "Dancing Gods" (Navajo Indian Ceremonial) 5:57

9) "Misty Mountain" (Eileen Lewellen, Simeon) 3:26

Silver Apples were a psychedelic electronic music duo from New York City composed of Simeon Coxe III, who performed as Simeon, on a primitive synthesizer of his own devising (also named The Simeon), and drummer Danny Taylor. The group was active between 1967 and 1969, before reforming in the mid 1990s. They were one of the first groups to employ electronic music techniques extensively within a rock idiom, and their minimalistic style, with its pulsing, driving beat and frequently discordant modality, anticipated not only the experimental electronic music and krautrock of the 1970s, but underground dance music and indie rock of the 1990s as well.

The group grew out of a traditional rock back called The Overland Stage Electric Band, working regularly in the East Village. Simeon was the singer, but began to incorporate a 1940s vintage audio oscillator into the show, which alienated the other bandmembers to the extent that the group was eventually reduced to the duo of Simeon and Taylor, at which point they renamed themselves The Silver Apples, after the William Butler Yeats poem "The Song of the Wandering Aengus". The arsenal of oscillators eventually grew, according to their first LP liner notes, to include "nine audio oscillators piled on top of each other and eighty-six manual controls to control lead, rhythm and bass pulses with hands, feet and elbows". Simeon devised a system of telegraph keys and pedals to control tonality and chord changes, and reportedly never learned to play traditional piano-styled keyboards or synthesizers.

"Silver Apples" is an album ahead of its time.

OK, so the vocals are of the slightly dubious trippy-dippy psychedelic-folk poetry that prevailed in the bohemian late 60s, but it is on the musical level that this album stands out as a truly groundbreaking work of experimental creativity. As well as the heavy use of oscillators and other electronic technology to generate melody and rhythm, we also find the primitive use of "found sounds", samples and the kind of skittery breakbeats that would characterise the more experimental end of hip-hop and techno a couple of decades later.

A few years along the line, when the likes of Kraftwerk "pioneered" a pulsing electronic facsimile of rock, it was described as "groundbreaking".

In the late 70s, when artists such as Cabaret Voltaire, Suicide, and Throbbing Gristle pursued similar but disparate visions of proto-electronica, they were reasonably regarded as "ground-breaking".

In the late 80s/early 90s, when bands such as Spacemen 3 and, more notably Stereolab, married guitars with banks of oscillators, they were (not unreasonably) described as "ground-breaking".

Portishead, one of the truly groundbreaking bands of the last 15 years, paid homage to "Silver Apples" on their recent album "Third", basing one of its tracks on a sample lifted from this album. They say "what goes around, comes around".

So, even forty years later, the template originally created by Silver Apples in 1968 is still instrumental in breaking new ground.

Echoes of "Silver Apples" can be heard not only in the aforementioned works of Portishead and Stereolab, but also in the ouevre of genuine innovators as stylistically diverse as Leftfield, Mark Stewart (ex-The Pop Group / Mark Stewart & The Maffia), Bjork and Sonic Youth.

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b-f I found a live (2008) performance of the song "Oscillations" .... I hope you don't mind, but I wanted to get an idea of the sound, as I'd never heard of them. With just a couple of exceptions youtube has only recent live clips of them. :P

Oscillations ~ Silver Apples

There is a clip of a song called "Ruby" from their second album on youtube that I really liked! I listened to a few, from other albums and considering they were from 68-69 i would definately call their sound groundbreaking! ;)

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[big]Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever [/big]

Explosions in the Sky



1. "Greet Death" – 7:19

2. "Yasmin the Light" – 7:03

3. "The Moon Is Down" – 10:02

4. "Have You Passed Through This Night?" – 7:19

5. "A Poor Man's Memory" – 6:04

6. "With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept" – 12:04

Any of their albums could be nominated. They created and still create a fantastic sound, often marked as Post-rock. The 4 band members make this sound with 1 drum and 3 electric guitars (or sometimes 2 and 1 bass), not seen often, not heard often. Another remarkable thing is the length of their songs. They use about 5-7 songs to fill an album, each song takes 5-11 minutes of artwork. Most songs start quiet, build up, fall down, climax to the end and then quietly vanish into a breathtaking silence.

Groundbreaking? I never heard any other band to the same thing like they do.


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That is a personal decision. For me, the topic is Groundbreakers, so I will cast my votes for the albums that, in my opinion, made the biggest impact on the music scene. One of my nominations is not a favorite album by any means, but I feel it changed the course of music at the time, and had a great influence on musicians for years to come. I thought that was the idea, but each person has their own criterea, I suppose. Most of these topics are rather subjective I'd think.

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Yeah. I'm gonna guess you're talking about Pink Floyd?

some of the nominees that I don't really like are still groundbreaking.

No. "Dark Side" was the more groundbreaking album, even though "The Wall" is my personal favorite Floyd album.

I was referring to The Beatles' "Revolver": a great album, with "Yellow Submarine" (one of my all-time Fab 4 favs), "Eleanor Rigby", "Here There and Everywhere" and "Got to Get You Into My Life" among others; but not nearly as groundbreaking as "Rubber Soul", "Sgt. Pepper's" or "the white album".

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