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Old May 5th, 2012, 10:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Is Rockabilly Dead?

Collective Wiz-dumb time, folks.

Seeking the fruits of everyday intellectual capital from the cradle of infinite Gretschdom.

Non-rockabilly fans are especialy invited to offer an opinion.

Have we arrived at a point somewhere along the line where rockabilly is (or is becoming) a museum piece more than a living breathing music? Is it a living breathing part of popular culture, a fading bit of nostalgia, a frozen cartoon, shake rattle and roll skeleton upon which so much of modern music hangs upon? Is it just one of the mosaic of micro cultures that continue to thrive because of the internet age, not so different from electronica or jarrana music?

Or is something like the Black Keys "Lonely Boy" a defacto Rockabilly 4.0?

What say you, oh mega experienced and completely inexperienced ones?

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Old May 5th, 2012, 10:49 PM   #2 (permalink)
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to be honest, I thought "rockabilly" was gone back in the 50s not long after it got started(within a few years at least). when I first started frequenting these Gretsch forums, I could see that guys and gals were reviving the "rockabilly" scene again. it could possibly be attributed to Brian Setzer and others. but no, it's not dead yet. it's still alive and going strong.
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Old May 5th, 2012, 10:55 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by montereyjack66 View Post
... Is it just one of the mosaic of micro cultures that continue to thrive because of the internet age, not so different from electronica or jarrana music? ...
Sad truth.
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Old May 5th, 2012, 11:10 PM   #4 (permalink)
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A smart musician friend says that ALL Rock 'n Roll is now referential.

Been chewing on that bold statement for a while, and I can find no evidence he's wrong.
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Old May 5th, 2012, 11:18 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
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A smart musician friend says that ALL Rock 'n Roll is now referential.

Been chewing on that bold statement for a while, and I can find no evidence he's wrong.

When the first Setzer Orchestra album came out, I thought "Man; Sinatra records with RIPPIN' guitar solos!" It's a great idea, I think Setzer may be the best there's ever been at what he does, but Sinatra's not NEW. Burnin' Rockabilly isn't NEW. He put ingredients together in a new combination, and executed it masterfully. Thank God it's sufficiently beloved to sell out a week at The Bowl. But it's not like, say, "Within You Without You", when you put side two of Sgt Pepper on; THAT was new , uh, Rock 'n Roll, for lack of a better category.
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Old May 5th, 2012, 11:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Hey All,

On one of the other rockabilly threads I posted...

Quote:
I have been listening to a lot of rockabilly lately and really like it - I always have just never payed it much real attention - it is basically what I want to become capable of playing. I was also amazed to find out that Europe perhaps in particular Scandinavia is and has been such a hotbed of rockabilly. For example some of the youtubes amaze me to hear everything spoken in say swedish and then sing rockabilly in english and then continue on in swedish. Eastern Europe is also really big on it. Why is europe so big on rockabilly?
I don't know why anybody would think rockabilly is dead?

In fact what I see it has spawned (and spawned seems to be the right word) other types of "rockabilly".


Now I'm old enough to not be real impressed by the subject matter but musically and creatively I like it. Although in this case it does seem to explain a lot of politics.

-Ed-
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Old May 5th, 2012, 11:26 PM   #7 (permalink)
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A star in the making and continuing the tradition:
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Old May 5th, 2012, 11:37 PM   #8 (permalink)
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What? Rockabilly dead? Looks very much alive to me:




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Old May 5th, 2012, 11:48 PM   #9 (permalink)
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IMHO, the ability to record and distribute without the involvement of the big labels has breathed new life into music of all sorts. Rockabilly, Surf, Swing and any number of sub-genres were nearly lifeless for decades but have seen new production and release in recent years. It no longer takes a major slice of the market to make a genre viable. All it takes are devoted artists and a modest fan base.
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Old May 6th, 2012, 02:38 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I think rockabilly has become a caricature of itself, a cliche. IMHO, I find most of the musicians who are seriously into playing rockabilly to be just as concerned, if not more so, with their clothing, hair styles, tattoos and their girlfriend's Bettie Page looks. You have to play the "correct" guitar, have the "correct" style, look and attitude. I have spoken to rockabilly musicians who played around LA years ago, and because they didn't dress in '50's style rockabilly clothing, they were shunned and booed by the rockabilly crowd. Their look was more punk, and they took sh** for it. What does that tell you?

I saw a photo of a European rockabilly band on this board last year. The standup bass player was wearing a tanktop style white undershirt on a gig. No rockabilly musician back in the '50's would have been caught dead onstage dressed looking like a lowclass bum. Those guys back then looked sharp.

Today's rockabilly musicians need to move forward and stop living in the past.
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Old May 6th, 2012, 03:34 AM   #11 (permalink)
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The question poses a question


Is Music Dead?


Well I would hope not but as in so many things, it changes and morphs, look at Psycho-Billy (or however it's spelt).
Music gets better, just, and music gets worse, as in the chronically over produced tosh that's so prevalent in the charts.

Rockabilly as a genre of modern popular music I'm sure still has its place and is cherished by many.
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Old May 6th, 2012, 03:34 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I don't follow DrumBobs argument. If I have it right, in one breath he criticises rockabilly musicians and fans for sticking to the 50s look over musical substance and then complains that a Euro musician was wearing gear that 50s musicians wouldn't have been seen dead in... Massive generalisation in my opinion as there are a number of excellent musicians for whom the music is really the be-all-and-end-all and the style etc. are secondary concerns.

My own view is that there aren't enough active bands in the genere (or sub-genres) and we need another big explosion (like the one in the 80s ignited by Mr Setzer) to increase popularity for another generation or two. Metal bands are ten a penny (I do love metal btw, so I'm not knocking them) and maybe that is because there is a lot of freedom to show off with a guitar?

The other thing that maybe hampers rockabilly is that it isn't as easily definable, as other genres: where does country end and rockabilly begin, where does punk end and psychobilly begin and who makes the rules?

The original music will never die as the earliest forms of rebel (with a lower case 'r') music are contained in thel 50s music but we need a bit of an uprising to take it back into public consciousness again, or be satisfied that it is cult or underground.

Personally I'd love to see an upsurge particularly in the U.K where, outside of London, the is a desperate scarcity of rockabilly/psychobilly...
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Old May 6th, 2012, 03:55 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Rockabilly had a strong following in my country in the late 70s- early 80s.
If memory serves the Stray Cats got their first gold record here in Finland.
The kids who were into it were as serious as the original English mods about the clothes and the music. But they were copying a subculture that wasn't theirs so it was never the real thing.

"Rockabilly" is just another tag for anything that's 50s cool. People who don't know Charlie Feathers from Charlie Chan are dressing up and getting their hair done rockabilly style. Nothing wrong with that.

You won't get a true 50s rockabilly sound from a modern band and why should you? The world has changed. IMHO Stray Cats weren't pure rockabilly to begin with. Songs like Runaway Boys and Storm The Embassy could not have been written in the 50s.
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Old May 6th, 2012, 04:01 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrumBob View Post
I think rockabilly has become a caricature of itself, a cliche. IMHO, I find most of the musicians who are seriously into playing rockabilly to be just as concerned, if not more so, with their clothing, hair styles, tattoos and their girlfriend's Bettie Page looks....

Thats it. Period. Thats why I keep my distance from rockabilly recently.

Rockabilly was the music of NEW, the music of the modern and contemporary young people. The today's rockabilly generation only took the nostalgic feelings and because of that, it become an order of strict rules and the basically beheaded the spirit of "new and modern" that it really was back that. The Stray Cats was really successful because the took rockabilly but relaunched it into the new wave to the direction of the future. Modern and louder sound, virtuoso playing, sometimes contemporary lyrics about modern issues, about the world.

Rockabilly is like an ill entity in some hospital, and the rockabilly musicians as a nurse need to inject some modernity and development into it time to time to survive and keep it's greatness.

Why the rockabilly musicians using the studio equipments of the 50's? Why the need the exact same sound? They want people thing that the Car HIFI is broken when a rockabilly song is coming following a new song of a modern style?
Or the Mozart ethusiasts expect the Metropolitan Opera to create the exact same theatre sound and stage light system of Don Giovanni as it sounded and looked in the 1700's? I thing the sound engineer and art director will be fired.


By the way, the same thing is happening to psychobilly. The burlesque girls, the bloody screaming pinups, rape the bass instead of playing something descent, and the "who can sing the words demon, hell and ***** more" competition. Psychobilly was an escape route to the future from the rockabilly catch 22 described above, but it become the same set of rules and mentality. Caricature of itself.
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Old May 6th, 2012, 05:02 AM   #15 (permalink)
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As for the guys slavishly following the Rockabilly Rules I refer them to The Setzer song Really Rockabilly


Down Here in Oz we have the Living End taking Rockabilly and bringing it up to date

But really you could ask this question in one way or other of almost any genre and find arguments for both sides

Music is a thing of the heart not the Head - if it moves you groove to it
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Old May 6th, 2012, 05:11 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Just the lyric...

Brian Setzer - Really Rockabilly

Hair slicked back, they're real tough guys
Black T-shirt and a bad attitude
Better not step on their blue suede shoes

Livin' in a time that's long since gone
It's not quite right, there's somethin' wrong
Look! There goes another Betty Page
Get with it chick, it's all the rage

He's really, really, really rockabilly
Really, really, really rockabilly
He pissed in his pants
He's too drunk to care
He's wearin' 1956 underwear

There's neo-rockabilly
There's psycho-rockabilly
There's Starbucks-Orange-County rockabilly
There's euro-ja-ja-wir-machen-rockin' rockabill
There's Western-swing-traditional-blues-
inluenced rockabilly
There's Australian-shrimp-on-the -barbie-
carry-your-surfboard-to-Sears-
to-buy-you-rolled-up-Levi's rockabilly
There's rock a-Johnny. rock-a-Sally, rock-a-hillbilly
It's all so stupid, and it's just plain silly

He's really, really, really rockabilly
Really, really, really rockabilly
He pissed in his pants
He's too drunk to care
He's wearin' 1956 underwear

The man at the door
He's a rockabilly guy
He said you can't come in
Your pompadour's too high
Better grow them sideburns

Get a tattoo on your neck
Drink Pabst Blue Ribbon
Drive a rockabilly wreck

Has it come to this?
I want a new job
Rockabilly retards and rockabilly slobs
It used to be fun just to play the guitar
Now I just want to run real, real far

He's really, really, really rockabilly
Really, really, really rockabilly
He pissed in his pants
He's too drunk to care
He's wearin' 1956 underwear
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Old May 6th, 2012, 05:51 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Rockabilly is not dead, it just smells funny.
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Old May 6th, 2012, 06:41 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Not dead just niche music.
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Old May 6th, 2012, 08:41 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Rockabilly is not dead, it's resting. It was just about to wake up and you stunned it. Beautiful plumage, though
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Old May 6th, 2012, 08:50 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
Not dead just niche music.
There is only so much you can do in any musical genre before it starts sounding redundant. Rockabilly will always have a presence in our culture, sometimes more so then others. I love Ska and it like rockabilly, swing, Glam, Psychedelic,.......... keep coming back for another encore.

Lately I'm listening to a lot of 60ish soul revival stuff like Black Joe Lewis, and others. Another example of pop culture with too deep of roots to die any time soon (decades).
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