1967: Monterey Pop and the Live Music Explosion

1967 – Part Two: Monterey Pop and the Live Music Explosion

Sound Opinions continues its celebration of the 45th anniversary of the watershed year 1967. During this episode Jim and Greg focus on the historic Monterey International Pop Festival and its landmark performances during the Summer of Love.

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There were no huge surprises at last week’s Grammy Awards; the expected big winner was Adele, and she swept all six of her categories. She also impressed people with her live performance, which comes after a year of cancelled shows and vocal surgery. Jim and Greg didn’t rate her album 21 incredibly high, but it’s hard to argue with the song Rolling in the Deep. One shocker was the awarding of Best New Artist to indie act Bon Iver, over hitmaker Nicki Minaj. And, it’s interesting to note that Diana Krall, not Quincy Jones, is now the living artist with the most Grammys.

This year’s Grammy broadcast was the highest rated since 1984. Over 39 million people tuned in, in large part to see how the ceremony would honor Whitney Houston, who passed away only a day before. Jennifer Hudson provided a moving tribute performance of I Will Always Love You, connecting with Houston’s gospel roots. And in the week since her death, over 100,000 copies of her greatest hits album sold. Greg asserts that Houston was the greatest pop vocalist of the past 25 years, and every singer in her wake has been influenced by her style. Sometimes that led to oversinging, but that’s what separated Houston from the rest of the diva pack. It’s in the sparsely produced, more controlled performances of songs like The National Anthem and I Love the Lord, where you really hear Houston shine.

1967

Recently Jim and Greg began an exploration of one of the great watershed years in Rock and Roll: 1967. First up was the birth of the album as art. Now, they look at the growth of the live music business and the industry, for better or worse, growing up. There’s no better example of this maturation than the Monterey International Pop Festival. For 3 days in June, thousands of music fans descended on Monterey, California to see The Mamas and the Papas, Jefferson Airplane, The Who and the spectacular debuts of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. They worked for free, with ticket proceeds going to charity, but the capitalist machine was not far behind. As Jim and Greg discuss with writer Harvey Kubernick, managers, promoters and label executives took notice of the festival’s popularity and media attention, leading to new signings and savvy marketing plans. In terms of sound, the Monterey performers encapsulated the diversity of the psychedelic era. Rock, funk, jazz, country-it was all up for grabs. And artists like Otis Redding introduced a southern sound to white audiences, paving the way for landmark recordings like Aretha Franklin’s I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You.

A Different Kind of Truth Van Halen

A Different Kind of Truth (Deluxe Version)

After a revolving door of frontmen rivaling only cast changes in a soap opera, original lead singer David Lee Roth is back with Van Halen. And the band has a new album out-its 12th-called A Different Kind of Truth. Jim admits he’s never been a Van Halen fan, though he appreciates Roth’s sense of humor. But lusting after soccer moms, rather than teachers or teens is not a big step up. He also hates Eddie Van Halen’s guitar style and Alex Van Halen’s drumming. All that adds up to a Trash It. Greg explains that if you’re not a Van Halen fan, this album isn’t for you. But they’re giving listeners exactly what they want-a big, dumb, fun record. He defends Eddie’s guitar playing and gives A Different Kind of Truth a Burn It.

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