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Teasing the Korean

Outlasting Rock - 1981 New York Times Article

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Sidney Zion, whose book, ''Read All About It!'' will be published this winter, has been a music fan all his life. By Sidney Zion etween the rock and the hard disco, the melody began to slip back in. A piano bar here, a big band there, a touch of Gershwin, a spot of Kern. In gay places and out-of-the-way places. Exuberant, but a little wary, like a gambler with a short bankroll. When was it, two years ago, three?

Well, look at it now. Big bands swinging coast to coast. Jazz flourishing in the cities, waking up on the college campuses, born again in the high schools. Singers we haven't heard from in years belting out the old haymakers, crooning the old smoothies. Piano bars, sassy and smart, popping up all over the country. Hotel dances and dancing cheek-to-cheek at chic parties. Kids jitterbugging.

And the theater. Consider the theater. David Merrick rolls for the sky with 50-year-old evergreens by Harry Warren and Al Dubin and turns the movie musical ''42d Street'' into such a jackpot that to meet the demand - at a $50 top - he moves the show to the biggest available house on Broadway. And then it wins a Tony Award for best musical of the year.

The Duke Ellington songbook is lavishly made into ''Sophisticated Ladies,'' and it's instant boffo. Lena Horne, all by herself, is selling out to audiences across all generation lines. She, too, receives a Tony. ''Sugar Babies,'' a tribute to burlesque and the old standards of Jimmy McHugh, is a great big hit. ''Ain't Misbehavin','' a salute to Fats Waller, has been running forever. Ditto ''One Mo' Time,'' a celebration of black vaudeville. And ''A Day in Hollywood ... ,'' featuring songs by the illustrious Richard Whiting, continues to attract large audiences...

https://www.nytimes.com/1981/06/21/magazine/outlasting-rock.html?pagewanted=all

 

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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And now rock is old folks' music.  Instead of resurrecting Ellington and Fats, Broadway shows count on Boomer nostalgia.  Carol King and such.

It's a demographics game.

 

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11 hours ago, HutchFan said:

It's a demographics game.

Indeed, just marketing for consumers. 

But reading that linked article (from '81) it's hilarious in terms of the total blind spot afforded to hip hop. The author is going out talking to Wexler, Stan Rubin, et al about whether swing has a chance to become the foundation of music for the younger generation...lol, that's a pretty big swing-and-a-miss. 

Also, interesting comment from Ertugen on the author's preference for golden age swing: 

"Ertugen says, ''That Great Age you talk about, you know what it was? A claque of publishers and songwriters from Tin Pan Alley and Hollywood, European in origin, feeding a foreign music to the American people.''

Cole Porter? European? ''He wrote in the same vein,'' Ertegun says. ''White Christmas''? ''God Bless America''? Foreign? ''Well, consider Irving Berlin's movie 'Top Hat.' About a guy at the Savoy in London. The cotton-picker in Mississippi, the dockwalloper in New Orleans, the lumberjack in Washington, the gasstation attendant in Houston - what did any of them have to do with that? American music was derived from the blues, there was none of that European sophistication to it. It was forced on the country, simple as that. When rhythym and blues came in, rock-and-roll, it hit a nerve; it was what the American people wanted; it was their music.''

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How about that Ahmet Ertugen, eh?

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I read an article recently about how the value of Elvis memorabilia is crashing. It really choked me up. Elvis Presley died a decade and a half before I was born, and his music had long since faded from any sort of relevance, but it never occurred to me that "Elvis" would one day cease to be a concept, and would diminish into just another name from a by-gone age.

Edited by Rabshakeh

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I've told my dad several times recently that he needs to cash in now on any value his Elvis records have. They'll likely be worth nothing in the very near future. 

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12 hours ago, HutchFan said:

And now rock is old folks' music.  Instead of resurrecting Ellington and Fats, Broadway shows count on Boomer nostalgia.  Carol King and such.

It's a demographics game.

 

Wait until the ones with disposable income are rap fans. They'll be moving to places that cater to them, like in south Florida.  That catering includes an active circuit of performance spaces that nobody really knows about except residents. My wife's degree is in audio engineering and she used to pick up gigs running sound at shows in places like that. Now, its blue hairs standing and swaying to doo-wop or 70s soul. But imagine when its rap shows, one hit-wonders popping out on stage for a moment in the spotlight, Gen. Z nostalgia instead of boomers. (Not everyone will get to broadway but a package of rappers in their seventies? I can definitely see it.)

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7 minutes ago, Dan Gould said:

Wait until the ones with disposable income are rap fans. They'll be moving to places that cater to them, like in south Florida.  That catering includes an active circuit of performance spaces that nobody really knows about except residents. My wife's degree is in audio engineering and she used to pick up gigs running sound at shows in places like that. Now, its blue hairs standing and swaying to doo-wop or 70s soul. But imagine when its rap shows, one hit-wonders popping out on stage for a moment in the spotlight, Gen. Z nostalgia instead of boomers. (Not everyone will get to broadway but a package of rappers in their seventies? I can definitely see it.)

I'm looking forward to Lil Uzi Vert and Machine Gun Kelly working the Vegas nostalgia circuit. 

I've been quite struck at how over the past five years "rap music" (as it now seems to be known again) has gone from a popular genre of music into suddenly constituting the basic unit of popular music, catering to all sorts of fans and all sorts of emotions. We really are living in a world where rock is fast going the way that jazz did in the 50s.

At the same time, I could do without the dispiriting emo/pop punk revival. Please would that go away.

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4 minutes ago, Rabshakeh said:

I've been quite struck at how over the past five years "rap music" (as it now seems to be known again) has gone from a popular genre of music into suddenly constituting the basic unit of popular music

Pretty sure that once they had a few years of data to mine in terms of streaming choices, it was very clear what the market wanted to listen to.

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Not talking Vegas nostalgia but fairly small performance spaces at old folks communities. There are plenty of acts making that circuit and probably doing OK overall.

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1 hour ago, JSngry said:

How about that Ahmet Ertugen, eh?

Ertegun

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What I found interesting about the article was that by 1981, the record industry had not figured out that it could effectively tap into an aging WWII demographic with disposable income. It took the record industry until the mid-80s or so to learn that they could do this with the aging the baby boom generation. High-quality reissues for boomers began in the 1980s, and by the 1990s, there were lavish box sets for even obscure artists.   By contrast, the WWII generation received mostly sub-grade greatest hits collections, or at best budget-line reissues of material with cheap-looking graphics and inconsistent sound.

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2 hours ago, Dan Gould said:

Wait until the ones with disposable income are rap fans. They'll be moving to places that cater to them, like in south Florida.  That catering includes an active circuit of performance spaces that nobody really knows about except residents. My wife's degree is in audio engineering and she used to pick up gigs running sound at shows in places like that. Now, its blue hairs standing and swaying to doo-wop or 70s soul. But imagine when its rap shows, one hit-wonders popping out on stage for a moment in the spotlight, Gen. Z nostalgia instead of boomers. (Not everyone will get to broadway but a package of rappers in their seventies? I can definitely see it.)

Does this mean that we'll soon have annoying PBS fundraisers full of cheaply recorded concerts by superannuated former hip-hop stars?  What a future to look forward to.

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24 minutes ago, Al in NYC said:

Does this mean that we'll soon have annoying PBS fundraisers full of cheaply recorded concerts by superannuated former hip-hop stars?  What a future to look forward to.

That's exactly the model I had in mind.  :g

I gotta say though I'd rather see The Stylistics (whichever version) than some seventy year old going on about Big Butts that he will not prevaricate about. 

40 minutes ago, Teasing the Korean said:

What I found interesting about the article was that by 1981, the record industry had not figured out that it could effectively tap into an aging WWII demographic with disposable income. It took the record industry until the mid-80s or so to learn that they could do this with the aging the baby boom generation. High-quality reissues for boomers began in the 1980s, and by the 1990s, there were lavish box sets for even obscure artists.   By contrast, the WWII generation received mostly sub-grade greatest hits collections, or at best budget-line reissues of material with cheap-looking graphics and inconsistent sound.

They didn't expect the WWII generation to embrace new technology and expect so much bang for the buck.

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8 minutes ago, Dan Gould said:

They didn't expect the WWII generation to embrace new technology and expect so much bang for the buck.

Um...

I'm talking about LPs.  The article is from 1981.  

The WWII generation did not receive the kinds of reissues that the baby boom did.

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1 hour ago, Teasing the Korean said:

What I found interesting about the article was that by 1981, the record industry had not figured out that it could effectively tap into an aging WWII demographic with disposable income. It took the record industry until the mid-80s or so to learn that they could do this with the aging the baby boom generation. High-quality reissues for boomers began in the 1980s, and by the 1990s, there were lavish box sets for even obscure artists.   By contrast, the WWII generation received mostly sub-grade greatest hits collections, or at best budget-line reissues of material with cheap-looking graphics and inconsistent sound.

TTK, Chuck would know the answer, but I don't think the GI generation ever bought many records in the first place.  My understanding is that record sales exploded when the '50s teens bought singles; and the LP sales exploded when the teens bought '64 Beatle albums and then again post-'67.

I'm pretty sure the best selling albums of the Kennedy administration stayed on the chart for a full year, and even then their sales were small compared to, say, Jefferson Airplane albums.

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14 minutes ago, GA Russell said:

TTK, Chuck would know the answer, but I don't think the GI generation ever bought many records in the first place.  My understanding is that record sales exploded when the '50s teens bought singles; and the LP sales exploded when the teens bought '64 Beatle albums and then again post-'67.

I'm pretty sure the best selling albums of the Kennedy administration stayed on the chart for a full year, and even then their sales were small compared to, say, Jefferson Airplane albums.

You should have known my parents and their friends!  

Also, working in record stores during that period, I encountered many customers who were disappointed that there weren't more albums available by X or Y.  I think the article hints at this but may not explicitly state this.  

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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52 minutes ago, Teasing the Korean said:

Um...

I'm talking about LPs.  The article is from 1981.  

 

Um ... but you also wrote this:

and by the 1990s, there were lavish box sets for even obscure artists.   By contrast, the WWII generation received mostly sub-grade greatest hits collections, or at best budget-line reissues of material with cheap-looking graphics and inconsistent sound.

This wasn't about CDs?  Pretty sure it was CD box sets that grew lavish in the flush of monetizing the vaults for boomers. And sound quality ("inconsistent sound") only became a bugaboo during the CD era.

 

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13 minutes ago, Dan Gould said:

Um ... but you also wrote this:

and by the 1990s, there were lavish box sets for even obscure artists.   By contrast, the WWII generation received mostly sub-grade greatest hits collections, or at best budget-line reissues of material with cheap-looking graphics and inconsistent sound.

Yes, because that was what was available to the baby boom generation by the time they began to age and have disposable income.  The WWII generation was not identified as a similar target audience by the record industry 25 years earlier.

For the most part, there were not good LP reissues for that generation during the 60s and 70s and into the 80s.  The French EMI series was an exception.

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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Electric Spanking Of War Babies, it's a real thing.

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31 minutes ago, GA Russell said:

I'm pretty sure the best selling albums of the Kennedy administration stayed on the chart for a full year, and even then their sales were small compared to, say, Jefferson Airplane albums.

The WWII generation was living in the suburbs and raising kids at that point.  They wouldn't have had the time or the disposable income until later. 

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2 hours ago, JSngry said:

Electric Spanking Of War Babies, it's a real thing.

Funkadelic – The Electric Spanking Of War Babies (2003, CD) - Discogs

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Read the liner essay, it"s actually pretty deep 

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The guy who wrote this article managed to be wrong about almost everything.

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10 minutes ago, medjuck said:

The guy who wrote this article managed to be wrong about almost everything.

Regardless, it is an interesting time capsule.

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