Music

Rock’s Biggest Introductions

“…when you do it correctly, a good introduction and a good outro makes the song feel like it’s coming out of something and then evolving into something”~ Bruce Springsteen

A song with a great introduction can leave a lasting impression. A great intro—using the music industry’s vernacular—will set the tone for a song and forever sear it in the listener’s mind.

Intros setup musical pieces across the spectrum; however, Rock and Roll has perfected it better than any other genre. In fact, it’s easy to say that Rock and Roll has taken introductions to another level.

Most songs start with a nice riff or a vocal interlude, but every now and then, a song will come along that is truly special. It separates itself from others by having a truly remarkable introduction that is so powerful it instantly connects with listeners.

What is a staple of a great intro? When the first few cords of the song are played, and a listener will immediately know the artist, the album, and the song instantly.

Below is A Crow’s View’s list of the five most recognizable intros. They’ve been compiled with two simple rules: no vocals of any kind, no lifted soundtracks.

5) A World of Fantasy by Triumph

This is a bit of an obscure song by a Canadian trio known as Triumph. The band had several hits in the 80s, but never really achieved super stardom. A World of Fantasy is a power ballad with an intro that is beautifully done. This masterpiece seamlessly drifts into vocals that launches into the song. Although it isn’t the band’s biggest hit, its intro is amazing and still gets played on radio stations around the country. Once you hear this song, you will always remember it.

4) Cat Scratch Fever by Ted Nugent

The Motor City Madman’s signature hit is unmistakable. Cat Scratch Fever starts strong and relentlessly pounds the listener with ear busting riffs and vocals delivered only the way Uncle Ted can. When this song comes over the airwaves, you can’t help but to get feverish and shake, rattle and roll to its beat.

3) Start Me Up by The Rolling Stones

This unmistakable intro by the “greatest rock-n-roll band of all time” is ubiquitous at sport arenas and stadiums throughout the United States, if not the world. Once the first few chords of this song penetrates people’s ears, an immediate adrenaline ensues. Crowds can’t help but to get pumped up and cheer their team to victory.

2) No One Like You by The Scorpions

Germany’s legendary rockers may have bigger hit songs, but none have the gravitas of this 1980s smash hit from the album Blackout. It’s blistering licks and rapid deceleration to its vocals pulls off this song’s charm. It’s a ballad that rocks you like no other.

1) Sweet Child o Mine by Guns & Roses

Guns & Roses tore up the world of Rock when they exploded on the scene. Their album “Appetite for Destruction,” is one of the best albums ever produced. It’s fitting that its mega hit single, Sweet Child o Mine, easily took the top spot on this list’s best and most recognizable intros. When this song starts, from the very first cord, there isn’t any question what band, album and song is playing.

Sweet Child o Mine stands tall among other great songs as the best intro in Rock!

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(Rock) Bands That Define A Decade

Music is… A higher revelation than all Wisdom and Philosophy —Ludwig von Beethoven

A question I’ve often pondered is whether a single rock band could define a decade or era they came from. It’s no question that music is powerful. Lyrics from a song or a few cords being played on an instrument can invoke a broad range of emotions or trigger fond memories.

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 6.31.03 PMThe modern era of Rock Music began in the 1950s. Many of the artists of that era came up through gospel choirs to gain fame in an evolving music industry. Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis are perfect examples of this. They both signed with Sun Records and went on future to stardom.

In the 1960s, however, the cultural phenomenon known as the “British Invasion” ushered in a new breed of bands, such as the Beatles, Kinks and the Animals. Their brand of music sparked the rise of the counter culture movement and forever changed the trajectory of rock and roll.

The ensuing decades 70s, 80s, and 90s would bring major changes to pop music too. The 70s brought folk singers like Patti Smith and Bob Dylan into the public consciousness, while the 80s catapulted  “glam rockers” or “hair bands” like Poison and Mötley Crüe to the top of the charts. Then the 90s changed it all when the limelight gave way to alternative rock groups like Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

But how can a single band or artist be chosen as one that defined a decade?

That’s a question I’ve often asked friends, coworkers and classmates. I typically phrased it by asking, “which rock bands best define a decade they’re from?”

I’ve always posed the question with few simple rules:

  • Modern rock music is defined as being from 1950s to the end of the 90s
  • Bands from the early 2000s are exempt from the discussion, too new to determine
  • Artist(s) must still be alive, except for the 1950s.
  • A 20 year separation from a group’s or individual’s breakout album or hit
  • Artist(s) must be able to sellout stadiums (no Vegas or fair circuit performers)
  • Reunion tours don’t count

With those five basic rules, I went about trying to answer my own question; knowing full well that certain groups and individuals would unfairly be left out.

After much thought and consideration, I’ve reached a conclusion on which artists best define the decade they’re from:

  1. Johnny Cash
  2. Rolling Stones
  3. Bruce Springsteen
  4. Bon Jovi
  5. Red Hot Chili Peppers

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 9.30.42 PMI chose Johnny Cash for the 1950s because of his crossover appeal with fans of folk, rock and country music. Cash stayed relevant long after many of his contemporaries’ died or their star power began to fade. His success outlasted all of his Sun Records alumni, including Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. 

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 9.33.01 PMThe 1960s pick was an extremely easy choice. Although the Beatles may have kicked off the “British Invasion,” they eventually disbanded and moved on to other projects. However the Rolling Stones took up the mantle, they have never officially broke up and they have never looked back. The Rolling Stones are referred to as “the greatest rock and roll band of all time.” It’s a well deserved moniker for the septuagenarian rockers that burst onto the scene more than 50 years ago.  

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 9.36.21 PMMy pick for the 1970s was a little tougher to make. It came down to Aerosmith and my eventual pick. Springsteen won out because he aligned more closely with the hit folk singers/songwriters of the 70s; where Aerosmith had success, then broke up, and eventually regrouped to achieve even greater success in the 80s and 90s.

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 9.38.45 PMPicking Jon Bon Jovi was a no-brainer. Anyone listing to Bon Jovi in the 80s couldn’t have imagined that of all the “hair bands” of the time; he’d be the one still rockin’ strong in the late 2000s. His continued success is the biggest surprise of the “glam bands.”

 

Finally, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, even though they’ve formed long before the Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 9.41.01 PM1990s, they achieved megastar status during the rise of the grunge craze. Unlike Nirvana and other 90s bands that popularized alternative music, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ appeal hasn’t diminish. Suicides, overdoses or creative differences have not derailed the band’s success or stopped them from playing their fiery brand of alternative rock well into the 21 century.

Of course there is room for disagreement. My picks are simply a suggestion. If you have a list of your own, please comment. I look forward to hearing people’s opinion.

 

 

Leah Shafer: Paula Abdul She Is Not!

A really great talent finds its happiness in execution – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

ImageLike most people, I spent my Sunday watching the NFL Playoffs. After all the great plays and the wild interviews, the most memorable event was the singing of the national anthem at the AFC Championship game.

The singer who performed the national anthem at the Denver / New England game did an incedible job. I was blown away by the performer’s range. Her rendition was respectful and powerfully delivered. While she was singing, I mistook her as Paula Abdul. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one to make that mistake; an Instagram post by David Spade attributed the singing to Ms. Abdul too. We were both wrong. Image

Following the game, I had a nagging feeling that I was incorrect about the singer’s identity. She really impressed me, and there was something about how she carried herself that set her apart from Abdul. Her performance radiated charm and projected style; furthermore, she had a wholesomeness that is missing from so many celebrities. Since I missed her introduction, I had to do some research to find out who this singer was.

I managed to locate a YouTube clip that gave me her name, but it took a little extra time to find out more information about her. As of this writing, the mystery singer has no Wikipedia entry, but she does have a Facebook Fan Page (only 228 followers), a Twitter feed (200 followers), and a website. She’s a devoted Christian, wife, and mother. Her name is Leah Shafer.

Shafer is a talented individual with an interesting background. Her website states, “In High School, she was chosen as ‘Best Alto’ for the California All-State Choir.” She has traveled internationally as the “main soloist of ‘The Young Americans’”; a non-profit organization and performing group based in Southern California. She’s a three-time winner of “Destination Stardom” (A PAX-TV version of Star Search) and was featured on NBC’s “The Singing Bee”.

Despite her accomplishments, she is virtually unknown to the general pubic. This is sure to change given her performance at the AFC Championship game. All things considered, I’m guessing her obscurity will not last due to her stunning recital of the national anthem. It was nice to see a decent hardworking artist get some well-deserved attention. A Crow’s View wishes her and her family the best.

http://www.leahshafermusic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Leah-Shafer/455402694551853

http://www.youngamericans.org/

http://instagram.com/davidspade