When the British invaded, America was simultaneously moving away from the Brill Building model- emergence of the singer-songwriter came with Bob Dylan. Credited with turning the “we” of the traditional folk revival themes into a “me.” Bore criticism when he made the decision to go electric, particularly at the Newport Folk Festival in July 1965. In response, calls out the folk establishment as non-innovative, false friends (i.e., “Like A Rolling Stone.”) By 1965 Dylan is also establishing self as a performer on top of a songwriter or artist. His motorcycle accident in 1966 led to a brief withdrawal from the music business, but it goes without saying that Dylan was the central figure in the American Response.
Other important American bands in mid-60’s folk rock. Byrds has roots in the Greenwich Village folk scene, but came to prominence in Los Angeles. McGuinn notable for playing a Rickenbacker 12-string after seeing George Harrison play one in the movie A Hard Day’s Night, starts the Rickenbacker craze. Simon & Garfunkel, the Mamas & the Papas, Barry McGwire, The Turtles.
The Phil Spector legacy continues on, most notably leading to the popularity of Sonny & Cher (Sonny had done West Coast promotions work for Spector previously.) From an influence perspective, Brian Wilson wanted nothing more than for the Beach Boys to take the Wall of Sound influence and up it a notch. Wilson thinks of Pet Sounds as his version of a concept album like The Beatles’ Rubber Soul. Interesting in that the Beach Boys & the Beatles were in chart
competition at this time although they were both on the Capitol Records label- Capitol Records the obvious beneficiary here. Other important LA acts included Gary Lewis & the Playboys as well as Johnny Rivers.
On the East Coast, matching the Beach Boys’ “west coast falsetto” was the “east coast falsetto” of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons. Great rare record if you can find it- “The Beatles vs. The Four Seasons” (1964,) with songs from both on the same vinyl. The Lovin’ Spoonful out of Greenwich Village, The Young Rascals/The Rascals, and The McCoys important as well.
This era also saw the establishment of the “garage rock” scene, rough and raw one hit wonders with mostly regional affect. Lenny Kaye’s compilation record Nuggets of garage band songs (1972) was extremely influential on later punk and new wave artists such as The Ramones and The Talking Heads. The key garage band artist to know here is The Kingsmen, and the FCC/FBI controversy investigations over the lyrics to “Louie, Louie.”
TV Rock maintains an important role in elevating certain bands like Paul Revere & The Raiders (house band for Dick Clark’s “Where The Action Is” variety show) as well as The Monkees (who were originally sourced with the intention of focusing on the acting over the music.) Some extreme examples in here as well of hit songs from TV, including The Archies (an animated band) as well as Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution (a band composed of chimpanzees.) Continuation of what Ricky Nelson was doing in the late 50s to promote music, and a precipitation of the rise of MTV in the 80s.
We’re making the leap to Spotify- check out the songs that will be competing below! Note: please comment below if you have problems with the playlist. I want to get feedback now as opposed to when the tournament starts to make sure I’ve got the kinks worked out for a clean start.