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Episode 15: Stars of the '80s: Michael Jackson, Prince & Madonna

Episode 15 will focus largely on two giants of black pop in the '80s--Michael Jackson and Prince. For Jackson, the emphasis will (naturally) be on the album Thriller. For the more complex Prince, the greatest attention will be paid to the Purple Rain album and film. We'll also make a fairly extended side trip to investigate the coming of age of one of the greatest competitors for the hearts and dollars of music fans in the '80s--Madonna.


Episode 14: Punk & New Wave

We'll set the scene for our discussion of New Wave and Punk by surveying early precursors of both styles, e.g., the Velvet Underground, David Bowie, and the Ramones, Graham Parker, and Elvis Costello. We'll also take a look at some of the more popular New Wave groups (in terms of record sales), e.g., the Police, the Cars and the more experimental Talking Heads. For our representatives of the Punk movement, we'll focus on two classic British examples--the Sex Pistols and the Clash.


Episode 13: Elton John & Bruce Springsteen

Elton John's highly successful career will be documented into the '80s, including contributions from his main lyricist Bernie Taupin and an analysis of John's personal synthesis of gospel music and lyrical pop-rock with occasional side trips to clever parodies of various styles ranging from early rock & roll to Disco. Looking at Bruce Springsteen, we'll examine his first highly successful album Born to Run and also look at Darkness at the Edge of Town, The River, and Born in the USA, in...


Episode 12: Singer/songwriters and other trends in the '70s

This episode will focus on singer/songwriters and the more introspective, lyrical and confessional style they introduced in the early '70s. We'll begin with Cat Stevens (later Yusuf Islam) and move on to Carol King and her epic album, Tapestry, one of the best-selling albums of the '70s. Other singer/songwriters surveyed will be James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot. We'll also do a brief survey of other trends that take hold later in the '70s (including Disco) as manifest in the...


Episode 11: Art Rock

This episode will focus on the expansion of musical resources in the late '60s and '70s that resulted in Art Rock and various experimental movements. We'll start with some of those groups who expanded their pop-rock or psychedelic styles with elements of western "classical" music: the Moody Blues; the Who; the Nice; Emerson, Lake & Palmer; and (perhaps more uniquely) Pink Floyd. For a synthesis of pop-rock and jazz, we'll look to Blood, Sweat & Tears and Chicago. Finally, we'll offer a...


Episode 10: Psychedelic Rock & Progressive Blues

The various and diverse manifestations of Psychedelic Rock will be surveyed, beginning with the Doors and moving on to Jefferson Airplane and others. Jimi Hendrix and his unique psychedelic-soul blend will be analyzed, especially the landmark album Are You Experienced? and Cream will be seen as making the transition from more conventional psychedelia to progressive blues, due in large part to its emphasis on Eric Clapton's blues-based guitar virtuosity. We'll also take a look at the Heavy...


Episode 9: The Rolling Stones

Episode 9 The Rolling Stones We'll start this episode with an analysis of the Rolling Stone's early style, after which focusing on their most successful singles. The album Aftermath, the first to feature all original compositions by the group's members, will be discussed at some length, but such later '60s albums as Their Satanic Majesties Request will also be surveyed. Stylistic changes in the '70s and beyond, starting with the Sticky Fingers album and extending to the Dirty Work album of...


Episode 8: Black R&B in the '60s & '70s

Along with guest Richard March, Traditional and Ethnic Arts Coordinator for the Wisconsin Arts Board, we'll start by dealing briefly with the "uptown" rhythm & blues style of such artists as Sam Cooke and Ben E. King and the Drifters in the early '60s. From there we turn to Berry Gordy of Motown Records and his distinctive gospel-pop synthesis, represented here by (among others) Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Supremes and Marvin Gaye. We'll also look at the unique elements of the soul...


Episode 7: Bob Dylan

For Episode 7 we'll talk about Bob Dylan, focusing initially on his music in the early '60s which engaged most directly in social and political criticism. From there we'll move on to Dylan's adaptation of electric instruments and the birth of the folk-rock style and, after that, the various twists and turns of his musical and literary style into the early '80s. We'll also take a quick look at the Byrds, one of the folk-rock groups that followed in Dylan's wake.


Episode 6: The Beatles, part 2

This second episode on the Beatles will begin with a discussion of their album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and continue on with a survey of some of their later albums, notably the White Album, Let It Be and Abbey Road.


Episode 5: The Beatles, part 1

The first of two episodes on the Beatles, we'll concentrate on their early years, especially their musical influences and highlight the most distinctive elements of their early style. Moving on through the Beatles' middle period, we'll discuss the Beatles' Hard Day's Night and Help! albums and spend some time talking about two of their most unique albums-- Rubber Soul and Revolver.


Episode 4: Popular folk music, the Teen Idols, and the Beach Boys

This episode will concentrate on various new developments in the late '50s and early '60s, notably the popular folk music style of that period. We'll introduce some of the precursors of that movement (e.g., Pete Seeger and the Weavers) as well as some of the most popular folk artists such as the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul & Mary, and Joan Baez. Turning to the Teen Idols, we'll briefly examine stars such as Pat Boone, Paul Anka, Fabian and others with a nod toward Dick Clark and his...


Episode 3: R&B Rock & Roll

Episode 3 surveys those '50s artists whose music most clearly and dynamically draws from the urban blues and rhythm & blues and gospel styles of the late '40s and early '50s. We'll focus on Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Fats Domino, who combined R&B influence with remnants of the older Tin Pan Alley tradition. We'll also take a look at Ray Charles and his unique mixture of stylistic elements and comment on some of the major black vocal groups of the '50s.


Episode 2: Rockabilly

This episode deals with rockabilly, that combination of rhythm & blues and country & western (or "Hillbilly") music that emerged in Sam Phillip's Sun Records studio and elsewhere in the early and mid-'50s. Sun Records artists such as Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis will be the focus but we'll also look at other approaches to rockabilly from artists such as Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers.


Episode 1: Antecedents and Influences on Early Rock & Roll

The first episode in the Rock & Roll: From the Beginning series looks at antecedents of and influences on early rock & roll, including early blues (with a brief discussion of the so-called "blues scale" and blues progression), urban blues, gospel music, Boogie Woogie, Jump (or riff) band blues, and the country & western styles of the '40s and '50s.