Rock n Roll was made to inspire. Rock n Roll is timeless and is the language of artists who were dreamers. In today’s piece I’m going to write a small history of two bands that have inspired me because of their sheer awesomeness.
The first band is an old one from the 60’s – The Velvet Underground.
Led by iconic front man Lou Reed The Velvet Underground thrilled and produced perhaps one of the greatest albums of all time – The Velvet Underground and Nico
Formation and Album
The foundations for what would become the Velvet Underground were laid in late 1964. Singer/songwriter/guitarist Lou Reed had performed with a few short-lived garage bands and had worked as a songwriter for Pickwick Records.Reed met John Cale, a Welshman who had moved to the United States to study classical music upon securing a scholarship. Cale had worked with experimental composers Cornelius Cardew and La Monte Young but was also interested in rock music.Young’s use of extended drones would be a profound influence on the band’s early sound. Cale was pleasantly surprised to discover that Reed’s experimentalist tendencies were similar to his own: Reed sometimes used alternative guitar tunings to create a droning sound. The pair rehearsed and performed together; their partnership and shared interests built the path towards what would later become the Velvet Underground.
Later they met Andy Warhol who became the manager of the new band The Velvet Underground.
At Warhol’s insistence, Nico sang with the band on three songs of their debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico. The album was recorded primarily in Scepter Studios in New York City during April 1966, but for reasons unclear, some songs were rerecorded at TTG Studios in Los Angeles, along with the new song “Sunday Morning”, later in the year with Tom Wilson producing. The album was released by Verve Records the following year in March 1967.
The album cover is famous for its Warhol design: a yellow banana sticker with “Peel slowly and see” printed near the tip. Those who did remove the banana skin found a pink, peeled banana beneath.
On October 27, 2013, Lou Reed died at his home in Southampton, New York, aged 71. He had undergone a liver transplant earlier in the year. John Cale responded to Reed’s passing by saying “The world has lost a fine songwriter and poet…I’ve lost my ‘school-yard buddy'”
The Velvet Underground have been considered among the most influential bands in rock history. Their legacy has stretched into alternative and experimental rock. Their first four albums were included in Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. They were ranked the 19th greatest artist by the same magazine and the 24th greatest artist in a poll by VH1. In 1996 they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.Critic Robert Christgau considers them “the number three band of the ’60s, after The Beatles and James Brown and His Famous Flames”
heir 1967 debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico featured German singer and collaborator Nico and was called the “most prophetic rock album ever made” by Rolling Stone in 2003. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the band No. 19 on its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 by Patti Smith
The next band is one close to my heart – Porcupine Tree
I love this band as I was introduced to them as a teenager in my college in Manipal. I missed their only gig in India in Mumbai but I listen to them often and are I regard them as one of the most iconic bands of my youth.
Origin and Formative Years
Porcupine Tree originated in 1987 as a collaborative hoax project by Steven Wilson and Malcolm Stocks. Partially inspired by the psychedelic/progressive bands of the 1970s, such as Pink Floyd, that had dominated the music scene during their youth, the two decided to form a fictional legendary rock band named The Porcupine Tree. The two fabricated a detailed back-story including information on alleged band members and album titles, as well as a “colourful” history which purportedly included events such as a meeting at a 1970s rock festival and several trips in and out of prison. As soon as he had put aside enough money to buy his own studio equipment, Wilson obliged this creation with several hours of music to provide “evidence” of its existence.[
Much of the inherent musical background of Porcupine Tree goes back to Wilson’s childhood, when his parents gave Christmas presents to each other. His father received Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon whilst his mother got Donna Summer’s Love to Love You Baby, which Wilson assures, both played “in a continuous way”. These albums would heavily influence his further songwriting (especially the Pink Floyd one)
With their melancholic sequences and melodies along with progressive rock elements on every track . Porcupine tree are a versatile band for the ages – The new age Pink Floyd.
Every track thrills and inspires and creates a melodic, melancholic atmosphere giving you a breath taking experience of psychedelic progressive rock music.
Here is a playlist of their songs.
Both these bands are from different times but influential none the less. I personally recommend these two bands to any rock fan looking for a great listening experience.
Have a great week.