The History of Rock: 1965 (Uncut Magazine)
One of the great joys in my life, if sometimes not the only joy, is my introduction to the world of pop music. My parents were consistently into music, and they have brought many recordings into the household that I eventually adopted as my own. Early Beatle and Stones albums were for sure introduced by my parents, but in 1965, at the age of 10 or 11, I became a consumer, by buying a 45 rpm single of the Yardbirds' "I'm a Man"/"Still I'm Sad." How I got the money is something that is lost in history, but the memory of going to a record store in Westwood Village to purchase that single stayed glued to my brain or DNA to this very day. By my nature I'm not a nostalgic person, but I would be lying to myself if I didn't admit that the year 1965 was an important one on many levels. That December, we lost our home to a mudslide in Beverly Glen, and that included every possession I had at that time. For sure, it did a number on my head, that even 50 years later, continues to exist in my DNA.
It pains me that I'm not into the current music world. I would like to think of myself as being totally devoted to whatever is happening outside my home at this time and age. But the truth is I kind of hate the world as it is right now. The sounds I hear at the moment always reminds me of the past, and not in a good way. On the other hand, the year 1965 was both rich in variety as well as being "new." Oddly enough when I re-visit the recordings of that year, I'm still hearing new things. There is a textural aspect of the records at that time, and when you pull back and look at 1965, one is struck how fast everything is. What the Beatles were doing in January of that year is so different from what they recorded in December. The same goes for the Stones and the Kinks.
Which brings up the fact that I was totally devoted to the sounds that were coming from the United Kingdom. For one, I could understand the language, but still, it was from another world. A fantasy world for me, due to the Beatles "Hard Days' Night" as well as the fashions that was coming out of that culture. Pure teenage pop music, but for sure, with a tough jagged edge attached to the images. For inspiration, I often go back to the 1960s to re-discover who I'm through my childhood years, but also for the unreal look of that era through its literature and especially the press at that time. Which comes to UNCUT's special series of publications called "The History of Rock."
The first issue magazine is "1965," with others are being released on a monthly basis. So far it is up to 1968. I will get back to those as soon as I read them. But now, I want to focus on the 1965 issue. What it is exactly is re-prints of articles that were published in Melody Maker and New Musical Express in 1965. Uncut Magazine editors did a beautiful job in making this glossy magazine into a visual treat, by selecting wonderful photographs of that era as well as choosing the right or correct articles of the time. Besides the original interviews and articles, one also gets letters to the editor, the original advertisements that ran through the publication, and people like Dylan, Lennon and Harrison commenting on the newly released singles at the time. So, one is getting a great snapshot of England's take on the new music that was being produced and distributed in 1965.
It's interesting to read articles and reviews as it happened, instead of people commenting on these records now in 2015. Also you pick up trends such as bands making films. The Beatles of course at this time did "Help" and "Hard Days Night," so it seems to be some pressure for groups such as The Stones making their feature-length film. As well as others, but none of these films ever got made. Most I think came from the Public Relations department of the management offices of both publications as well as the band's management. The other is the "Dylan vs. Donovan" thread that went on in the press for that whole year. One wonder if the Dylan and Donovan camp decided to promote this aspect of their careers at the time. The beauty of reading these articles is seeing the genius at work with respect to Brian Epstein and Andrew Loog Oldham. Both orchestrated the media to their liking, as if they had their own orchestras.
One has to presume that NME and Melody Maker had large teenage readership, yet the articles are not dumb down, and very intelligent in its own right. Oddly enough, when I read celebrity news or magazines like People, it's really dumb. NME or Melody Maker never took that route. In fact, it's a world that is in love with the pop music world. The charts, releases, the bands, the artists, and the managers are all authors in this particular era in England. There is even a thoughtful interview with Bill Evans, John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, so the magazine was willing to branch out to other forms or types of music, besides the teenager's world of music.
This is truly a superb piece of history as it happened, but edited and produced for today. I recommend it highly.
- Tosh Berman