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Cirque Du Soleil
(Cirque Du Soleil)
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Patricia Barber
(Blue Note)
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Cirque Du Soleil
(Cirque Du Soleil)
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Jim Pearce
“Why I Haven't Got You”
Prairie Dog Ballet
(Oak Avenue Publishing)
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Andy Timmons Band
“Gone (9/11/01)”
(Favored Nations)
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Ralph Towner
Time Line
(ECM Records)
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Anoushka Shankar

Amos Lee
"Arms Of A Woman"
Amos Lee
(Blue Note)

Julius Curcio
"American Pie"
Alligator Shoes
(Electric Roots)
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"Come Alive"
Changing Into Me
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Feature [Issue #3]
: And On The Eighth Day, Punk Was Born!: Part II
By Mandana Beigi

The survival of Punk was almost impossible in a decade when leveraged buyouts and mergers generated a new breed of millionaires and the stock market became a career. But the punk rockers continued making the sound while the Forbes' list of 400 richest people was becoming more significant than its 500 largest companies!

In the early 80s, cable TV was born and the VCR sales rose by 72%. The decade that brought us The Sex Pistols and The Ramones, was being replaced by a new generation with different goals and ideologies (not to mention the Casio keyboards). A 1980 study by UCLA and American Council on Education, indicated that college students were more interested in status, power and money than at any time during the past 15 years and of course, Business Management was the most popular major.

On of the most memorable events in the music world was the birth of MTV on August 1, 1981. The new 24-hour music video channel was the first cable channel to broadcast commercial-free and in stereo. The network cost $20 million dollars to set up but the concept was brilliant because the programming (at that time) didn't cost them a penny to make since all the music videos were provided by the record labels. MTV and its logo became the holly signs of the 80s and the nation's youth became addicted to the network and it's culture. The pop culture was fabricated and distributed by MTV and making music videos became much more important than the music itself.

Electronic and digital music was topping the music charts and the faded spirit of Punk was felt more than ever before. The punk scene was splitting into "New Wave" (pop-oriented), "Post-Punk" (more experimental) and "Hardcore" (a more rasping version of Punk Rock). New Wave was, basically, pop music; simple and melodic. Mixing the irreverence and dynamics of Punk with an artistic touch of sound and style, New Wave produced a very diverse sound in the 1980s. There was now a new genre that would bring Power Pop (Nick Lowe), Pop-Rock (Rockpile), Synth-Pop (Gary Numan), Ska (The Specials) and Pop-Reggae (The Police) all under one roof.

MTV embraced new wave and the business of New Wave music videos received a boost in 1982-83. Culture Club, Adam Ant and Duran Duran dominated the playlist of MTV and the corporate radio stations. Duran Duran was the personification of new wave and the 80s pop-culture. The band gained much of its popularity and reputation because of their cinematic music videos, which eventually converted this underground British band to teen idols. The Duran Duran mania took over the fashion of the 80s and their haircut and white jackets became the international uniform of the teenagers.

New wave bands were considered progressive and commercial. They signed huge record contracts and put on high production shows at the arenas.

Punk's statement was all about rebellious against and independence of any corporate tights while in the disparate world of new wave, mainstream success was on top of the list. So what did punk have in common with new wave? Perhaps, only the fact that new wave was as visual and theatrical as punk. Aside from the sound of the music, punk rockers demonstrated their looks and fashion (body mutilation, safety pins, chains and colored hair) on the underground stages of bars and clubs to make a statement. New wave did the exact same thing, except on the stage of MTV!

New wave did bring some decent artists and many great records but by the end of the decade there were also countless number of one-hit-wonders. The emergence of the guitar-oriented bands such as R.E.M. and The Smiths put an end to the glittery life of new wave. What was then called new wave is now "Alternative Rock" which, not surpassingly, consists of various musical styles. Alternative is anywhere from Sonic Youth, The Meat Puppets and Nirvana to Blur, Weezer and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

After the release of Nirvana's "Nevermind" in 1991, nothing was quite the same; flannel shirts were in and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was the national anthem of the generation "X". The commercial success of the Seattle grunge trio drew a dividing line between the bands who stayed independent and those who held their punk ideologies but signed with larger labels and used their resources to reach a larger audience. Coming from the indie-aeasthetic, Nirvana popularized punk and indie-rock unintentionally and opened a new chapter in the history of rock music.

For a couple of years, after the rise of Nirvana in the mainstream audience, punk-derived music received more attention and popularity than many of the pop-new wave acts of the late 80s. But at the same time bands such as Bad Religion, The Suicide Machines and The Circle Jerks retained their hardcore sound and played a vital role in the hardcore punk scene of the 90s. Hardcore punk was perhaps the most solid and extreme offspring of the original punk sound of the 60s and the 70s. It was exactly what the real punk was striving to be in the 70s; a fast loud simple sound produced with the least amount of money. The vocals were, for the most part, shouted and the image was as dark and aggressive as it could be. Hardcore was mainly an American sensation and most of its acts were concentrated in Los Angeles, however, there were always smaller hardcore scenes in other parts of the country (mainly in New York).

While punk in 60s and 70s eventually lost those ideals and went mainstream in both the sound and the fashion, the hardcore rockers of the 90s adopted a more aggressive attitude towards both the labels and the media. Most of the signed hardcore bands required full creative control over their lyrics and music, which gave them more creative freedom in the production of the album. Many bands also rejected to go on tours or perform in large arenas.

In the mid 90s a newer generation of punk sound was born; Green Day and The Offspring followed the indie-rock traditions but sold millions of records on the independent labels. Most of the post-punk bands were played on both the rock and the alternative radio stations. Nowadays, almost all radio stations play both rock and alternative and the differences between the two have become much less audible than in the 90s.

The music of 00s has not reached its maturity level yet and I am not sure if it ever will! Most bands sound and look the same and there seem to have a standard life span of about two major releases for them. No band or artist has had a major influence in the music and culture of the 00s yet and obviously Loui Vuitton is more popular than punk! And let's not forget the role of the Internet and the new technology in not only the production of the records but also the marketing and distribution. Downloading songs from the Internet and burning CDs are much more conventional for the listeners than shopping at the record stores. However, in my opinion, the incredible decrease of the record sales is not solely due to the availability of music online; it is also affected by the lack of "fanship" and loyalty among the listeners. Now, more and more bands share an overlapping audience than ever before, which is why the promoters and the labels insist on adding to the number of bands per concert. There's also an increasing interest among musicians to work with two or more bands at the same time (something that was almost taboo in the last decades).

All these facts contribute to the role of music in the 00s. Punk can certainly benefit from the threat of the Internet to the large record labels in the sense that the artists will no longer have to be restrained by corporate contracts. The Internet and computer-based home studios offer them the opportunity to produce and distribute (whether by downloading or purchasing the actual album) and promote their music on their own. It will be interesting to see the new structure of the music industry and the attitude of fans/listeners as we enter the 21st century and as far as punk is concerned, there's always a band making a loud noise in a garage somewhere…

And On The Eighth Day, Punk Was Born!: Part II

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