February 09, 2012

British Rocks Invasion

The Beatles and the "British Invasion"

The arrival of The Beatles in the U.S., and subsequent appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, marked the start of the British Invasion.

The Beatles themselves were less influenced by blues music than the music of later American genres such as soul and Motown. Their popular success in Britain in the early 1960s was matched by their new and highly influential emphases on their own song writing, and on technical production values, some of which were shared by other British beat groups. On 7 February 1964, the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite ran a story about The Beatles' United States arrival in which the correspondent said "The British Invasion this time goes by the code name Beatlemania". A few days later, they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. Seventy five percent of Americans watching television that night viewed their appearance thus "launching"the invasion with a massive wave of chart success that would continue until the Beatles broke up in 1970. On 4 April 1964, the Beatles held the top 5 positions on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, the only time to date that any act has accomplished this. During the next two years, Peter and Gordon, The Animals, Manfred Mann, Petula Clark, Freddie and the Dreamers, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Herman's Hermits, The Rolling Stones, The Troggs, and Donovan would have one or more number one singles in the US. Other acts that were part of the "invasion" included The Who, The Kinks, and The Dave Clark Five these acts were also successful within the UK, although clearly the term "British Invasion" itself was not applied there except as a description of what was happening in the USA. So-called "British Invasion" acts influenced fashion, haircuts and manners of the 1960s of what was to be known as the "Counterculture". In particular, the Beatles' movie A Hard Day's Night and fashions from Carnaby Street led American media to proclaim England as the centre of the music and fashion world. The success of British acts of the time, particularly that of the Beatles themselves, has been seen as revitalising rock music in the US and influenced many American bands to develop their sound and style. The growth of the British music industry itself, and its increasingly prominent global role in the forefront of changing popular culture, also enabled it to discover and first establish the success of new rock artists from elsewhere in the world, notably Jimi Hendrix and, in the early 1970s, Bob Marley

Psychedelic rock
Psychedelic music is a style of music that is inspired or influenced by psychedelic culture and attempts to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of hallucinogenic drugs It particularly grew out of blues-rock and progressive folk music and drew on non-Western sources such as Indian music's ragas and sitars as well as studio effects and long instrumental passages and surreal lyrics. It emerged during the mid 1960s among progressive folk acts in Britain such as The Incredible String Band and Donovan, as well as in the United States, and rapidly moved into rock and pop music being taken up by acts including the Beatles, The Yardbirds, The Moody Blues, Small Faces, The Move, Traffic, Cream and Pink Floyd. Psychedelic rock bridged the transition from early blues-rock to progressive rock, art rock, experimental rock, hard rock and eventually heavy metal that would become major genres in the 1970.

Mainstream and global success

By the early 1970s, rock music had become more mainstream, and internationalised, with many British acts becoming massively successful in the United States and globally. Some of the most successful artists, such as Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Elton John, David Bowie, and Rod Stewart performed their own songs (and in some cases those written by others) in an eclectic variety of styles, in which the presentation of the performance itself became increasingly important.] By way of contrast,Status Quo became one of the most successful British rock acts by presenting an apparently unsophisticated style of boogie-based rock music; and Van Morrison gained international critical acclaim through a blend of rock, jazz and blues styles. Some well-established British bands that began their careers in the British Invasion, notably The Rolling Stones, The Who and The Kinks, also developed their own particular styles and expanded their international fan base during that period, but would be joined by new acts in new styles and sub-genres.

New sub-genres in the 1970s
Electric folk

Electric folk is the name given to the kind of folk rock pioneered in England at the end of the 1960s, particularly by the band Fairport Convention. Rather than mixing electric music with forms of American influenced progressive folk, it used traditional English music as its basis. An early success was Fairport Convention's 1969 album Liege and Lief, but it became more significant in the 1970s, when it was taken up by groups such as Pentangle, Steeleye Span and the Albion Band It was rapidly adopted and developed in the surrounding Celtic cultures of Brittany, where it was pioneered by Alan Stivell and bands like Malicorne; in Ireland by groups such as Horslips; and also in Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man and Cornwall, to produce Celtic rock and its derivatives. It was also influential in those parts of the world with close cultural connections to Britain, such as the USA and Canada and gave rise to the sub-genre of Medieval folk rock and the fusion genres of folk punk and folk metal By the end of the 1970s the genre was in steep decline in popularity, as other forms of music, including punk and electronic began to be established.

Progressive rock

Yes performing in Indianapolis in 1977.

Progressive or prog rock developed out of late 1960s blues-rock and psychedelic rock. Dominated by British bands, it was part of an attempt to elevate rock music to new levels of artistic credibility. Progressive rock bands attempted to push the technical and compositional boundaries of rock by going beyond the standard verse-chorus-based song structures. The arrangements often incorporated elements drawn from classical, jazz, and international sources later called "world music". Instrumentals were common, while songs with lyrics were sometimes conceptual, abstract, or based in fantasy. Progressive rock bands sometimes used concept albums that made unified statements, usually telling an epic story or tackling a grand overarching theme. King Crimson's 1969 début album, In the Court of the Crimson King, which mixed powerful guitar riffs and mellotron, with jazz and symphonic music, is often taken as the key recording in progressive rock, helping the widespread adoption of the genre in the early 1970s among existing blues-rock and psychedelic bands, as well as newly formed acts. The term was applied to the music of bands such as Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Soft Machine, Electric Light Orchestra, Procol Harum, Hawkwind, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. It reached its peak of popularity in the mid 1970s, but had mixed critical acclaim and the punk movement can be seen as a reaction against its musicality and perceived pomposit. Many bands broke up, but some, including Genesis, ELP, Yes, and Pink Floyd, regularly scored Top Ten albums with successful accompanying worldwide tours.

Glam rock
Glam or glitter rock developed in the UK in the post-hippie early 1970s. It was characterised by outrageous clothes, makeup, hairstyles, and platform-soled boots. The flamboyant lyrics, costumes, and visual styles of glam performers were a campy, playing with categories of sexuality in a theatrical blend of nostalgic references to science fiction and old movies, all over a guitar-driven hard rock sound. Pioneers of the genre included David Bowie, Roxy Music, Mott the Hoople, Marc Bolan and T.Rex. These, and many other acts straddled the divide between pop and rock music, managing to maintain a level of respectability with rock audiences, while enjoying success in the UK singles chart, including Queen and Elton John. Other performers aimed much more directly for the popular music market, where they were the dominant groups of their era, including Slade, Wizzard, and Sweet. The glitter image was pushed to its limits by Gary Glitter and The Glitter Band. Largely confined to the British, glam rock peaked during the mid 1970s, before it disappeared in the face of punk rock and new wave trends.

Heavy metal
With roots in blues-rock, psychedelic rock and garage rock the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, powerful sound, characterised by overt rhythmic basslines, highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. Heavy metal lyrics and performance styles often incorporated elements of fantasy and science fiction, and are generally associated with masculinity and machismo. The three pioneering heavy metal bands, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, the other was Uriah Heep, although they include progressive genre, they are categorized Heavy Metal Fusion, were all British and, while gaining little critical acclaim, they and the next generation of metal groups, which included American, Australian and continental bands beside British acts Judas Priest, Motörhead and Rainbow, attracted large audiences and record sales.Rainbow moved heavy metal into stadium rock while Motörhead introduced a punk rock sensibility and an increasing emphasis on speed. After a decline in popularity in the late 1970s Judas Priest discarded most of the genre's blues influences, particularly on their 1980 album British Steel, which opened the door for the New Wave of British Heavy Metal including Iron Maiden, Vardis, Saxon and Def Leppard, and a return to popularity in the 1980s.


Led Zeppelin

Deep Purple

Black Sabbath

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