Ten Greatest Rock Songs: The 1960s

I’ve been thinking about the greatest rock songs of all time, and there are likely well over a thousand worthy candidates spanning a period of more than 50 years. I’m certain you could gather 100 people in a room and no two of them would agree on which songs are the greatest. I started to compile a list of what I thought were the best ten or twenty, but it was just too difficult. So, I decided to break it up into the ten best for each decade, and will be posting a series of lists over the next few months.

I’m starting with the 1960s, the decade that hard rock as we know it came into being. Among other things, it was the use of the amplified electric guitar that ushered in a new, heavier sound than had ever existed previously. Just as the rock’n’roll of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Bill Haley & the Comets thrilled young people in the mid to late 50s, the new hard rock music excited them to no end while driving their parents crazy in the mid to late 60s. As a kid, I remember my mother, who liked softer acts like the Mamas & Papas, Beatles and The Supremes, yelling “turn that shit off!” when a Stones or Led Zeppelin song played.

After a lot of careful consideration, here are my picks for the ten greatest rock songs of the 1960s. Naturally, the Rolling Stones are prominently featured, as they were without question the greatest rock band of the 60s, if not of all time.

10.  JUMPIN’ JACK FLASH – Rolling Stones (1968)
The hard-driving “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” is among my favorite Rolling Stones songs. It’s also the most frequently played song at their concerts.  As with so many of their songs, Keith Richards’ guitar work is fucking incredible. Mick Jagger told Rolling Stone in a 1995 interview that the song emerged “out of all the acid of Their Satanic Majesties Request. It’s about having a hard time and getting out.” And in a 1968 interview, Brian Jones described it as a return to their “funky, essential essence” following the psychedelia of Satanic Majesties. As for the song’s title, Richards said that he and Jagger were inspired while staying at his country house, where they were awakened one morning by the sound of Richards’ gardener Jack Dyer working outside. When Jagger asked what the noise was, Richards said: “Oh, that’s Jack – that’s jumpin’ Jack.” The song and lyrics evolved from there.

9.  WHITE RABBIT – Jefferson Airplane (1967)
One of my favorite songs of all time, “White Rabbit” was written by Grace Slick while she was with the band The Great Society. After they broke up in 1966, she joined Jefferson Airplane to replace their departed female singer, Signe Anderson. The first album Slick recorded with Jefferson Airplane was their incredible opus work Surrealistic Pillow – in my opinion one of the greatest albums ever recorded – and Slick provided two songs, “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love.”

She has stated the song was a slap to parents who read their children novels like Alice and Wonderland, then wonder why their children later used drugs. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, she mentioned that besides Alice in Wonderland, her other inspiration for the song was “the bolero used by Miles Davis and Gil Evans on their 1960 album Sketches of Spain,” which was itself inspired by the famous classical composition “Bolero” by Maurice Ravel. It’s the buildup to the crescendo that makes both “Bolero” and “White Rabbit” so wonderful.

8.  MY GENERATION – The Who (1965)
“My Generation” is one of the most popular and signature songs from The Who, and is their highest charting song in the UK though, shockingly, it only peaked at #74 in the U.S. The song is an anthem of youthful rebellion, with one of the most quoted lines in rock history: “I hope I die before I get old.” It’s also considered a precursor of the punk rock movement that would emerge roughly ten years later. It’s been said that Pete Townshend was inspired to write the song after the Queen Mother allegedly had his 1935 Packard hearse towed off a street because she was offended by the sight of it during her daily drive through London’s Belgravia neighborhood.

7.  WHOLE LOTTA LOVE – Led Zeppelin (1969)
The first time I heard “Whole Lotta Love” I was blown away. I was very young and, while I found it too hard and even repellent at the time, I was also intrigued by Led Zeppelin’s aggressive and relentlessly heavy take-no-prisoners sound and Robert Plant’s fierce, high-pitched vocals. Eventually, I came to love it and now appreciate its status as a revolutionary song in the history of hard rock. There’s no denying that the cacophanous mix of intense guitar riffs, crushing bass, tons of wild reverb and Plant’s screams and moans all working together create one of the most complex and exhilarating rock songs ever. If all that weren’t enough, the racy lyrics pushed the envelope beyond anything even the Stones or the Doors had put out: “I’m gonna give you every inch of my love.

6. I PUT A SPELL ON YOU – Creedence Clearwater Revivial (1968)
An important and now classic song in rock and roll, “I Put a Spell On You” was originally written and recorded by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins in 1956, and has been covered by a number of artists over the past six decades. But in my opinion, the version recorded by Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1968 stands above the rest. It’s truly an epic recording that was under appreciated at the time, not to mention the band’s greatest song. Their powerful bluesy rendition, with its fierce, wailing guitar riffs and hammering drums is jaw-droppingly magnificent. John Fogerty’s impassioned screaming vocals bring goosebumps every time I hear the song.

5.  CROSSROADS (Live at Winterland) – Cream (1968)
The definitive version of “Crossroads” is the recording from Cream’s legendary concert in 1968 at Winterland in San Francisco. Eric Clapton’s guitar riffs and Jack Bruce’s bass are so drop-dead phenomenal that they bring chills to my bones and tears to my eyes. And Ginger Baker pounds his drums like his life depended on it. Rock just doesn’t get any better than this! I’m going to paraphrase WestLAGuy, who created a pretty decent video mash-up of the audio from that concert with footage from their farewell concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall (but has unfortunately been removed from YouTube). His discussion of Cream and the song is so good I cannot say it any better.

At the zenith of Cream’s tenure, you would see painted on walls around London ‘Clapton is God’, and this track is a good an example of why people felt that way. For me, the graffiti should have noted three deities, because on their respective instruments, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker were just as unique as Clapton. Eric came from a blues background (John Mayall and the Yardbirds); Baker and Bruce may have had some experience with the style, but certainly both were excellent jazz musicians. Clapton was right [up] there, as well. Cream never played a song the same way twice. This version of the Robert Johnson song, “Crossroads” is a perfect example of three great players making music at that moment.

4.  (I CAN’T GET NO) SATISFACTION – Rolling Stones (1965)
One of the Stones’ biggest hits, and their first #1 charting single in the U.S., “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is a brilliant hard rock tirade about rampant commercialism, the stress of touring and sexual frustration. Keith Richards’ three-note guitar riff overlying a crushing bass line makes for an intense powerhouse of a song. In the UK, the song was initially played only on pirate radio stations because its lyrics were considered too suggestive, though it eventually received widespread airplay and reached #1 there.  This electrifying performance took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in February 2006, when all the band members were in their early 60s.

3.  ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER – Jimi Hendrix Experience (1968)
Jimi Hendrix is widely considered the greatest guitarist of all time. In fact, in a panel assembled by Rolling Stone magazine in late 2015 of many of the greatest living guitarists – including Keith Richards, Carlos Santana, Eddie Van Halen, Ritchie Blackmore and Joe Perry – Jimi Hendrix came out on top (you can read the article here). In his tribute, Tom Morello wrote of Hendrix: “[He} exploded our idea of what rock music could be. He manipulated the guitar, the whammy bar, the studio and the stage. His playing was effortless. There’s not one minute of his recorded career that feels like he’s working hard at it – it feels like it’s all flowing through him. He seamlessly weaves chords and single-note runs together and uses chord voicings that don’t appear in any music book. His riffs were a pre-metal funk bulldozer, and his lead lines were an electric LSD trip down to the crossroads, where he pimp-slapped the devil.

The song was written by Bob Dylan, who recorded it in 1967, but Hendrix’s cover is the most iconic. In a 1995 interview with the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinal, Dylan described his reaction to hearing Hendrix’s version: “It overwhelmed me, really. He had such talent, he could find things inside a song and vigorously develop them. He found things that other people wouldn’t think of finding in there. He probably improved upon it by the spaces he was using. I liked Hendrix’s [recording] and ever since he died I’ve been doing it that way. Strange how when I sing it, I always feel it’s a tribute to him…

“All Along the Watchtower” was a groundbreaking song in late 1968 for all the above-stated reasons. Hendrix’ guitar riffs are beyond amazing, creating an aural orgasm of otherworldly psychedelia. It was a great tragedy he died at such a young age, denying us all the opportunity to hear more incredible music from him.

2.  GIMME SHELTER – Rolling Stones (1969)
Though not a big hit for the Stones, the powerful “Gimme Shelter” is one of their signature songs that some critics consider their best work. I certainly do. Written by Jagger and Richards at the height of the Vietnam War, the song speaks to the social upheaval and violence of the time. “That’s a kind of end-of-the-world song, really,” Jagger said in a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone. “It’s apocalypse.” Richards later said that his guitar fell apart on the last take, “as if by design.” Ironically, the song was released just days after a man was murdered at the Altamont Music Festival, which was headlined by the Stones.

The intro, strummed on an electric-acoustic guitar, conjures up feelings of impending menace before Jagger’s harmonica enters the scene. Guest singer Merry Clayton’s powerful wailing vocals do chilling justice to the searing lyrics as she screams: “Rape, murder, it’s just a shot away.” Clayton, who was pregnant at the time, was summoned from her bed by producer Jack Nitzsche for a last-minute recording session. Shortly after returning home she suffered a miscarriage, which she attributed to her exertion during recording.

1.  LIGHT MY FIRE (extended version) – The Doors (1967)
I’ll admit up-front that it might be debatable whether “Light My Fire” is the greatest rock song of the 1960s, however, the extended seven-minute album version is unquestionably a rock masterpiece. It is that epic long version that I believe is the greatest rock song – and my personal favorite – of the decade. In fact, it ranks #2 among my all-time favorite songs (“Stairway to Heaven” being #1). One of the things that makes the song so uniquely compelling is Ray Manzarek’s skillful use of the Vox Continental organ to create the incredible signature sound that continues unabated throughout the entire seven-minute track. For the recording, session musician Larry Knechtel played a Fender Precision Bass guitar to double the keyboard bass line (Wikipedia). The song was written by Robby Krieger, whose guitar solo during the instrumental break is spectacular, and Jim Morrison’s seductive and soaring vocals are positively electrifying.

Interesting bit of trivia: “Light My Fire” was performed live by the Doors on The Ed Sullivan Show on September 17, 1967. The Doors were asked by producer Bob Precht to change the line “girl, we couldn’t get much higher”, as the sponsors were uncomfortable with the possible reference to drug-taking (back in those days nearly everything was either taboo or illegal). The band agreed and did a rehearsal using the amended lyrics, “girl, we couldn’t get much better.” During the live performance, however, Morrison sang the original lyric. Ed Sullivan was furious and did not shake Morrison’s hand as he left the stage, and they were never invited back.

Honorable Mentions:
I could just as easily have included any one of these fantastic songs:

Paint It, Black – Rolling Stones
Sympathy For the Devil – Rolling Stones
Honky Tonk Women – Rolling Stones
Gimme Some Lovin’ – Spencer Davis Group
House of the Rising Sun – The Animals
Purple Haze – Jimi Hendrix Experience
Break On Through (To the Other Side) – The Doors
Sunshine of Your Love – Cream
I Can See For Miles – The Who
Born to be Wild – Steppenwolf
Piece of my Heart – Big Brother and the Holding Company

What are your favorites? Did I miss any great ones?

Featured Video: FOUR COLOUR GHOSTS – “Freak” live

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I recently discovered the alternative rock band Four Colour Ghosts, and once I heard this incredible live performance of their song “Freak” I became an instant fan. Hailing from Teesside, UK, the band is comprised of AJ (Lead Vocals/Guitar, Lewis Jeffreys (Lead Guitar), Paul Brown (Bass/Vocals) and Rob Moore (Drums). Their dynamic, wide-ranging rock style is influenced by such greats as Pearl Jam, Iron Maiden, Foo Fighters, Stereophonics, Guns n Roses, and Joe Bonamassa. As they humorously state on their Facebook bio – “We are the band that your music teacher warned you about, the band your neighbours bang on the wall for, the band you want blasting on your car stereo.” Yes, yes and a big yes to all that!

This live performance and the blistering guitar work remind me of Cream at their best. Take a listen and be prepared to have your senses dazed!

Connect with Four Colour Ghosts:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram /

Stream their music: Spotify / YouTube / Soundcloud

Purchase it: iTunes

 

Featured Song – MORGAN CAMERON ROSS – “I Won’t Live Until I Die”

Morgan Cameron Ross

Morgan Cameron Ross is a folk singer/songwriter and actor from Canada, and I’m happy to feature him on my blog. Originally from Vancouver, Morgan now resides in Toronto, and has written songs featured in Canadian and American television and movies, as well as for numerous platinum selling albums. He had previously been involved in the bands Bird of Wales and Bellwoods, but is now striking out on his own again with a beautiful new song “I Won’t Live Until I Die.”

Regarding his decision to go it alone, Morgan explained: “I’ve been in need of a drastic change. Music slipped away from me this past while. I’ve written with and for countless people: Grammy winners, platinum selling artists, successes, failures, talented and non. I scored my own Top 10 Billboard song with my pop band Bellwoods a couple years ago even. So why put out my own dark and melancholy music? I started out as a young kid running my University radio station. I listened only to old folk music and political punk tunes. I can still recite every single damn Weakerthans or Shins lyric. Two years ago I got off a stage in some arena with my band and the headliners were about to go on. They do well and have some hits but they’re also close to 40 years old and every single damn one of them were wearing bedazzled shoes. It was that moment right there that I knew I had to start putting out music like this song again.”

“I Won’t Live Until I Die” is a lovely but bittersweet folk song. The poignant lyrics speak to the lifestyle choice of focusing on making money in order to find happiness at some future point, yet not living in the here and now as a real human on this beautiful earth. “I won’t live until I die. And I worked hard my whole life. Lord I know how hard I tried. I won’t live, I won’t live ’til I die. It’s always then and it’s never now. So I live my life somehow. And I got money, but I ain’t got no soul. It’s always then, it’s always then, it’s never now.

The song features smooth acoustic rhythm guitar, accompanied by just the right amount of gentle percussion, and punctuated by a fine electric guitar solo. Morgan’s heartfelt vocals are sublime, as are the guest vocals of fellow Toronto singer/songwriter Justin Nozuka that harmonize beautifully with Morgan’s. This is an incredibly beguiling song that had me hitting ‘replay’ over and over.

Morgan has also recorded a lovely acoustic version of the song, which sounds even a touch more melancholy. The beautiful video was filmed at Joshua Tree National Park (about an hour from my home and a popular place for filming music videos). I’m guessing the rugged natural beauty of the place is meant to represent a simpler life with a lack of pretension or materialism.

Connect with Morgan on Twitter and Facebook, and check out more of his music on Soundcloud and YouTube. His music may be purchased on iTunes and other music sites.

Top 20 Songs for March 12-18, 2017

1. SHINE – Mondo Cozmo (1)
2. HUMAN – Rag’n’Bone Man (2)
3. SHAPE OF YOU – Ed Sheeran (4)
4. STILL BREATHING – Green Day (3)
5. ON HOLD – The xx (11)
6. SCARS TO YOUR BEAUTIFUL – Alessia Cara (7)
7. I NEED A LIGHT – Run With It (8)
8. HEAVYDIRTYSOUL – twenty øne piløts (9)
9. RUST TO GOLD – Council (10)
10. CLEOPATRA – The Lumineers (5)
11. WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE – Adele (12)
12. BLOOD IN THE CUT – K.Flay (6)
13. 7 – Catfish & the Bottlemen (14)
14. LOVE IS MYSTICAL – Cold War Kids (15)
15. I FEEL IT COMING – The Weeknd, Daft Punk (16)
16. LOVE ON THE BRAIN – Rihanna (N)
17. HOW DID YOU LOVE – Shinedown (N)
18. ATLAS, RISE! – Metallica (13)
19. WOLVES – Wide Eyed Boy (N)
20. BELIEVER – Imagine Dragons (N)

Song Review: AGONY IN THE GARDEN – “Falling in Reverse”

Last September, I reviewed the fantastic song “Obsolete” by Dayton, Ohio-based rock metal band Agony In The Garden (which you can read here).  Today – March 10, 2017 – they dropped their wonderful new single “Falling in Reverse.” It’s their first single released under their new label Spectra Music Group. To recap, Agony in the Garden is comprised of singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Mack Perry, drummer Bobby Milton and guitarist Michael Greer.

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“Falling in Reverse” is a slight departure from the hard-driving rock feel of “Obsolete,” though it still contains a lot of the raw power that is part of the band’s signature music style. A mournful but beautiful strummed guitar riff introduces the track, then light percussion enters the picture, along with Perry’s emotional vocals. The intensity of the instrumentals and Perry’s vocals ramp up 45 seconds in, giving the track a decidedly harder edge before calming down 20 seconds later, only to ramp back up at 1:35. The shredded guitars and heavy, buzzing bass are impressive, giving the track a gritty, yet highly melodic sound. It’s a great single.

As with other Agony songs, this track’s lyrics are deeply compelling. “Falling in Reverse” seems – to me at least – to be about feeling helpless and adrift, searching for truth and meaning in one’s life but not ever quite getting there. “Now we’ve seen this game before and I wonder what it’s for?/This thing called life/Always searching, in reverse.

Connect with Agony in the Garden by checking out their website, and following them on  Twitter,  Facebook and Instagram. Stream their music on Spotify and Google play, and purchase on itunes, Amazon and other online music sites.

My Very First Blog Post Revisited #MYFIRSTPOSTREVISITED

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I’m honored to have been nominated by fellow blogger Lisa Amaya of Life of an El Paso Woman to participate in the ‘My Very First Post’ challenge.

I created my music blog in early August 2015 and honestly didn’t know what to post at first. But since I created it basically for the purpose of fulfilling my fantasy of being the DJ of my own radio station, I decided to post my Weekly Top 10 Song list. The post, which I published on August 6, 2015, was titled “Top 10 for Week of August 9-15.” It was admittedly a pretty dull post but, hey, I had to start somewhere! Back then, I had exactly zero followers lol.

Here are the rules for this challenge:

  • No cheating. (It must be your first post. Not your second post, not one you love…first post only.
  • Link back to the person who tagged you (thank them if you feel like it or, if not, curse them with a plague of crickets).
  • Cut and paste your first post into a new post or reblog it. (Either way is fine but NO editing.)
  • Put the hashtag #MyFirstPostRevisited in your title.
  • Tag five (5) other bloggers to take up this challenge.
  • Notify your tags (don’t just hope they notice a pingback somewhere in their spam).
  • Feel free to cut and paste the badge to use in your post.
  • Include “the rules” in your post.

Please feel free to participate. Of course, there is no obligation! I nominate the following bloggers to participate:

Emma – Emmakwall (explains it all)

John- 2loud2oldmusic

Michelle – Symphony of Rock

Adam – Sounds Good

Buffalo Tom Peabody’s blog 2

Top 10 for Week of August 9-15

1. RENEGADES – X Ambassadors
2. DREAMS – Beck
3. EX’S AND OH’S – Elle King
4. CAN’T FEEL MY FACE – The Weeknd
5. TEAR IN MY HEART – twenty one pilots
6. THE WOLF – Mumford & Sons
7. FIRST – Cold War Kids
8. BLAME IT ON ME – George Ezra
9. MOANING LISA SMILE – Wolf Alice
10. CRYSTALS – Of Monsters and Men

Song Review: ANDY K LELAND – “The Kingdom”

Andy K Leland

Although he sounds like he’s from the northern reaches of the UK, indie singer/songwriter Andy K Leland is Italian. Born Andrea Marcellini, Andy plays a quirky but charming style of acoustic folk music. Formerly a founding member and bassist of alternative rock band My Cruel Goro, who split up a year ago, Andy is now a solo artist, and in February he released his first single “The Kingdom.” He plans to release his debut EP Happy Daze later this year.

“The Kingdom” is a delightfully pleasing tune, with gentle strumming acoustic guitar, accompanied by sounds from a toy keyboard organ. Andy’s off-kilter vocals that seem to skip letters or even whole words are infectiously beguiling, and perfectly suited to the catchy folk vibe. I must admit that when I first listened to the song, my initial reaction to his vocal style was ‘what the hell?’ but after a couple more listens I was hooked. Andy’s music is certainly unique and he sounds like no one else, which can be a very good thing in the massively overcrowded music scene.

I don’t often include the entire lyrics from a song, but these are so compelling and slightly humorous that I cannot resist. I may be off-base, but they seem to be from the perspective of someone who is dying or already dead, and now describing their observations of the afterlife:

Well the world has capsized
Turned my guts inside out
(They) got unplugged but FB
Keeps alive their ID’s
Save the day for sleeping
And the night for choking
In a bed of concrete
Next to walls that haunt me

Well outside it’s dawning la-la-la-la
I won’t see the morning la-la-la-la
I’ll be dead or dazzled by our own black nature

Got up one day in the kingdom
Surrounded by some strange folks
They held in hand their relics
And really dug my antics
So we danced together
Took some rest however
They were all plugged and wet so
They got electrocuted

Well outside it’s dawning la-la-la-la
I won’t see the morning la-la-la-la
I’ll be dead or dazzled by our own black nature

Yeah we are all guilty la-la-la-la
That makes me feel so filthy la-la-la-la
I won’t see the morning la-la-la-la
I’ll be dead or dazzled

Connect with Andy on Twitter and Facebook, and stream his music on Soundcloud

An Interview with Chatsong Roy

Chatsong Logo

Chatsong Roy is the creator and administrator of a successful music website called Chatsong, a multi-faceted platform for artists and musicians to post their music and information about themselves, and communicate with other artists. Roy, who is 32 and lives in The Netherlands, also writes feature reviews about many of the artists. Through his efforts, he has promoted numerous artists and gained them media exposure, including airplay on digital radio stations and connecting them with people in the industry who can help them further promote their music. I’m delighted to talk with Roy about his project and amazing success in building Chatsong into a major music website.

Hello Roy. Thank you for taking the time to discuss yourself with me – lol

Thank you for featuring me.

When we first followed each other on Twitter a year ago, we were both relative unknowns in the Twitterverse. At the time, you had done some modeling and your Twitter account was focused on that, as well as psoriasis which you’ve suffered from for some time. Tell me a bit about your modeling background.

As a teenager, I studied to be a male nurse,  graduated and got a job in an elderly home. Taking care of people was in my blood and I worked until 2014 as a nurse. When I was around 20, I was walking down the street one day when I was spotted by someone who asked me if I wanted to be a model. They found me charismatic, but I was shy and did not think I could be a male model. But I said yes and made an appointment for having pictures taken for a portfolio, and they liked my expressions and my attitude so I became a male photo model.

When I was 22 I discovered some spots under my eyes which looked very bad and itched, as well as elsewhere on my body, so I went to a doctor and he sent me to a skin specialist. It took awhile before they finally determined it was psoriasis. When my body was full of those spots I was very ashamed and stopped modeling. At that point, I focused on dealing with the disease and my nursing career until I stopped in 2014. After that, I went back to volunteering with elderly people again, and continued to see the skin specialist for ultraviolet light treatments. Some of them helped and some did not, but it finally occurred to me – why not make from my disease my work? So I emailed several modeling agencies and skin care magazines and they liked my spirit and motivation. I became a model at three agencies and ended up as a model in three magazines devoted to psoriasis, and a commercial. I was not ashamed anymore and wanted to inspire and help others who suffer from psoriasis. But 3 months after the light treatments I got arthralgia and they wanted to do a scan and injected some radioactive fluid. After that the pain got worse, I got two eye inflammations and several other physical issues, so the volunteer work stopped as well because of all the hospital visits and treatments.

What inspired you to create Chatsong in the first place? In other words, why did you decide to switch your focus from modeling to music, and how did you come to call it ‘Chatsong’?

After the sight issues and inflammation were gone for a while I had nothing to do at home. Since music was my passion, and I listened every day to music on the phone and television, I got an idea in my head: I wanted to help artists worldwide because there are a lot of talent shows but none was online here in the Netherlands. But, I never used social media before, not even knowing how to tweet. First I made an account called ‘Roy Model’ for my career as a model, and got a lot of followers from model sites and scouts from agencies. I then wanted to realize my music idea like I did with working as a psoriasis model.

So first I tweeted a famous DJ in the Netherlands from a radio station, and he said “email me your idea and suggestion.” I did that, and told him that maybe we could start an online show using YouTube videos from the bedroom to studio or television. I did not get an answer back, and 7 day later he announced he was going to do the first online audition for talented musicians. I was shocked and angry that he stole my idea while saying that he could not could set it up in only a week. I was overwhelmed and didn’t know what else I could do, so I needed to think of another project.

I knew there are many artists worldwide who make music but don’t get attention because no one knows they exist. Because it is the truth if people from other countries don’t know the artists accounts and channels they are not going to listen and search for them. In my experience, I only listened to music from famous artists or artists close to those I knew of, and not to artists from China, Japan or other countries. So I thought, what if I create a platform with chat rooms where artists could place their links and videos and other accounts? I made a website for the first time with no experience, and called it Music Lovers, which included chat rooms. I learned how to tweet and made the advertisement for that site, and suddenly artists from a lot of countries started posting their music and videos on it.

The idea worked but the site quickly got overloaded because the server could not handle the volume. So I removed that site, and found a provider with more server space called Jouwweb. In the meantime, I shared videos and links from the artists who posted at the old site to Twitter. I am always very personable to artists, and I asked one who was very supportive of me, known as The Honest Man, ‘how shall I name the project?’  He suggested either “Hear Them First” or “Chatsong.” I preferred Chatsong, and began designing the site with four chat rooms – two with video options and two with guest options where artists could just place links.

The old site had already built up a fan base with artists who came back regularly, so when the new site was launched they immediately posted in the chat rooms. When I reached 1000 followers I was very happy. But because of no experience, every day I had to learn internet engineering. I always searched for something to make it better, and have used several systems. But Chatsong was born and attracted a lot of artists and radio stations, one of which was Radio Wigwam that played only known music. I told them I could send an idea by email and maybe we could work together. They said yes, so I suggested we start a show for unsigned artists. They were the only online radio station who followed me back then, and I did not know at the time that there were more stations who did what they do. But they liked my idea and started the bandwagon which gave airplay for a lot of artists on Chatsong, and I was very proud of that. They even mentioned me a couple times when playing the artists. And then suddenly no more, but I was happy for the artists and made no big deal of it, though deep down I was hurt.

My old Twitter account, @ModelPsoriasis I use only rarely, when I try to work at my career as a male model for psoriasis publications. There are some projects coming, but working with Chatsong and dealing with all the artists, reviews and stuff is hard work and sometimes a lot of stress. It’s doing multiple things at the same time – ha ha you should know that.

You’ve featured hundreds of artists on Chatsong. What made you decide to write reviews about their music, instead of just featuring them and using their own bio descriptions in the write-ups?

The system I was using showed only 50 comments or 10 comments and then disappeared, and I thought ‘how can I not lose those artists and their links?’ So, I began to write reviews. The artists who got reviews were extremely thankful and touched by my write-ups. I write what I feel and think, and if their music made me cry or feel something else I wrote it. And with offering the reviews, I also collected artists and their names for my goal of helping artists to be found and heard worldwide. As you already know, I always tried to improve the website, or searched for a system to make it better for the artists.

I found Discus, which made it possible to post videos and SoundCloud songs and was shareable. But some artists found Discus too difficult to use, so I searched for other systems to allow comments and display links and videos. I put back the chat room and got some posts but not what I expected. I needed to find a forum to use that would allow artists to post and reply and like, and would also allow their names to be shown so they would be easier to find among millions of others artists. Or something similar with sharing and video option. I did not want to be only a music platform, but a website where they all can come together and chat about music projects, and also give unknown artists the chance to heard and searched in other countries. I’ve also posted many advertisements on Instagram and Twitter with images about Chatsong, and I know people like the platform.

Are you surprised at the incredible number of followers you now have on Twitter (over 9,000), as well as the huge response by artists to Chatsong?

I am indeed very surprised at the number of followers and the artists who’ve followed me and posted on Chatsong. And because of my reviews, word of Chatsong spread. Artists shared or talked about my website to other artists, which made Chatsong go viral. Every day I get 60 to 80 new Twitter followers, including related music account followers like record labels and radio stations who admire my work. Because of my personal approach, they like the person behind it and noticed I worked very hard. I’ve partnered with  CONTROLRadioUK, StudioGMusicLab, and Pink Dolphin Music, and now more and more companies want to be pictured on my site. I never expected this, because I was not sure if the idea was going to hit worldwide. And that gave me more motivation to keep going and improve the website.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your Chatsong project?

The most rewarding thing has been connecting with radio stations that played artists featured on Chatsong, and record labels and studios who read the reviews and forums. They have provided some artists for me to review, and sometimes even themselves posted on the site. Some even wanted this year to roster artists for a contract and, in the meantime, other artists got signed or offered a record deal, and I was so happy and proud. Also, it’s rewarding to know that your website is going from the Netherlands to the Philippines with your logo and the musicians on it. What I also find beautiful are the friendships and relations I’ve built with artists and bloggers like you, as well as related accounts in music. The highlight for me was when the CEO of a big label followed me on my personal account, as well as a recruiter who’d worked with Taylor Swift.

Any frustrating or negative aspects?

Frustrations I have daily – I am also just a normal person haha. Mostly it has to do with technical problems or issues with the website, or when artists say they will post something but don’t follow through.

You seem to be receptive to most music genres. Do you have any particular favorites?

I love all music genres from classical to hard trance. My favorite is dance and house music and pop, but with all the artists who follow me, I offer any genre a spotlight. There is a good one among them in any genre, as well as artists who need some advice or just are not good.

Recently, you’ve begun making your own techno and house remixes and posting them on SoundCloud. What inspired you to do that? Do you have any previous experience making music – either playing instruments or singing?

I never made music before, though I did sing in a choir. I always wanted to my entire life, but had no self-confidence. After the recent death of my grandpa, and me not being able to easily express my feelings, I thought ‘why not try to put that in my favorite music genre?’ I searched music software and apps, and begin mixing and I liked it. I made the tracks public, not knowing how my audience would respond, but they loved the sounds and mixes.

Do you have any thoughts about today’s music or trends in the music industry?

There are so many musicians and genres nowadays, with music reaching more fans than ever. Real music is coming back, with singer/songwriter musicians writing good lyrics and playing their own instruments, especially acoustic with a guitar that is popular among younger audiences. I think people my age and older are more fans of dance and pop music, as well as rock and heavy metal.

Are you doing this mostly for fun, or do you want to make a living from it? And where do you want Chatsong to go from here? Any plans for additional features or significant changes to the site, and how long do you want to continue doing this?

I am doing this for fun, but my goal is to develop an app that would be even better and easier for artists and fans to use. I never would ask for money, but when I need to develop the app I would invest in it and hopefully grow further. I will keep going so long as I can do it. If I can’t handle it anymore on my own, I’ll either sell the idea or collaborate with others, maybe even hire employees.

Check out Chatsong, and connect with Roy on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

EP Review: ORTARIO – ‘A Place Called Home’

I reviewed Welsh band Ortario as a guest on The Symphony of Rock blog.

THE SYMPHONY OF ROCK

 GUEST BLOGGER
JEFF JAYPEG
A Place Called Home EP Artwork
Welsh alternative rock band Ortario are quickly establishing themselves as one of the best new rock bands in the UK. Following up on their first two singles released in 2016, “Forte” and “All Outta Money” – both of which are very good – they dropped their debut EP A Place Called Home in late January, and it’s outstanding. Ortario consists of Chris Clark (Vocals), Jamie Thomas (Bass), David Wheeler (Guitar), Mark Lloyd (Guitar) and Nathan Lewis (Drums). Having two guitarists plus a bassist gives their music a dynamic, guitar-heavy sound.
 

OrtarioORTARIO

 
When I asked about the theme of A Place Called Home, bassist Jamie Thomas explained “For us, there is no place like home. [Being] a band that situate ourselves in different Welsh valley towns, we’re proud of our Welsh heritage and where we come from. The song “No Place Like Home” for instance is basically about leaving…

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Top 20 Songs for March 5-11, 2017

1. SHINE – Mondo Cozmo (2)
2. HUMAN – Rag’n’Bone Man (3)
3. STILL BREATHING – Green Day (1)
4. SHAPE OF YOU – Ed Sheeran (6)
5. CLEOPATRA – The Lumineers (4)
6. BLOOD IN THE CUT – K.Flay (5)
7. SCARS TO YOUR BEAUTIFUL – Alessia Cara (8)
8. I NEED A LIGHT – Run With It (9)
9. HEAVYDIRTYSOUL – twenty øne piløts (11)
10. RUST TO GOLD – Council (12)
11. ON HOLD – The xx (13)
12. WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE – Adele (14)
13. ATLAS, RISE! – Metallica (7)
14. 7 – Catfish and the Bottlemen (16)
15. LOVE IS MYSTICAL – Cold War Kids (19)
16. I FEEL IT COMING – The Weeknd, Daft Punk (18)
17. DON’T WANNA KNOW – Maroon 5, Kendrick Lamar (10)
18. SQUARE HAMMER – Ghost (15)
19. MY NAME IS HUMAN – Highly Suspect (20)
20. TAKE IT ALL BACK – Judah & the Lion (17)