This is Music History Today the Weekly Edition number 34. On this week’s show, we look back on the importance of Tom Petty to musicians everywhere, we review Belly’s new album, plus we make the case for putting the Moody Blues into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
First, the news. Terrorism struck yet another music event this past week when a gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas down onto a country music festival concert with Jason Aldean performing. At least 59 people were killed & over 400 people injured. They’re still trying to piece together the gunman’s story but to me, this is terrorism. The fact that he wasn’t your stereotypical version of a terrorist makes no difference.
In much, MUCH happier news this week, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced it’s list of acts eligible for this year’s induction. This was going to be the topic of this week but the actual topic this week is far more important so this will be next week’s topic. I will say that someone in the Hall must be listening to this podcast because a lot of the artists I’ve been pushing these past 33 weeks are on this list. The list includes first time nominees Rage Against the Machine, Eurythmics, Bon Jovi, Radiohead, Judas Priest, Dire Straits, Kate Bush, the Moody Blues, Nina Simone, & Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Returning nominees are the Cars, Depeche Mode, J. Geils Band, LL Cool J, MC5, the Meters, Rufas & Chaka Khan, Link Wray, & the Zombies. While overall, I like this list, there are some people who are missing that I’m not happy about, which is a topic for next week.
Now, you can get involved in pushing your favorite artists. The Hall takes fan votes into high consideration, which is probably what got Journey in last year. To vote, go to rockhall.com/vote. Voting ends on December 5 & unlike most elections, your vote actually does matter.
This past week, the world lost a rock icon; Tom Petty. Tom Petty was one of those guys I think people took for granted. He wasn’t revered like, say, Bono or Paul McCartney. Even in death, people automatically went to his hits Free Falling & I Won’t Back Down, thinking that’s all the guy’s ever done. Well, they’re wrong. Tom Petty, both with & without the Heartbreakers, did so much more. In fact, every musician owes whatever money they make to him for one reason: he fought for his rights & theirs in the process.
I could go on about all of the hits he had like Last Dance With Mary Jane, Don’t Come Around Here No More, You Got Lucky, American Girl, Breakdown, & many others but I’ll stick with one event: his bankruptcy. Here’s what happened. When he signed his first record deal, what he didn’t realize was that he had signed away all of his songwriting rights for $10,000. That meant that for any & all past & future royalties, whatever he made, his record company & people who basically screwed him out of his money would make 10 times as much.
He sued to get out of his contract. Then the record company sued him, claiming breach of contract. What he & his manager did next was sheer genius: Tom Petty declared bankruptcy. Now, normally, you’d think that’s a bad thing. What this did, though, was that at that time, all contracts & debts had to be renegotiated, which protected Petty from both the record company’s lawsuit & would mean a much smaller piece of the pie for them. The record companies didn’t want any other artists trying this so they struck a deal with Petty out of court. Petty got his own record label imprint but more importantly, he got his songwriting & publishing rights back. In short, Tom Petty beat the record labels at their own game. That’s why he’s important to rock & roll & that’s what makes the lyrics to I Won’t Back Down more important.
One other thing about Petty. He was a heavy smoker. Had been since the age of 17. For you kids out there, don’t smoke. It’s what eventually contributed to his death from cardiac arrest. Thank you Tom Petty. Thanks for standing up for your rights & most importantly, thanks for some damn great music.
Let’s turn our attention to one of the groups that was put on the nomination list for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I will say that before the Hall released their list, I was going to talk about either this group or Judas Priest. I’m glad to say that the Hall was on the same wavelength since both made the list. Now, on to that band other than Judas Priest.
The Moody Blues have always been one of those groups that has never been taken seriously because they’ve been lumped in with other progressive rock groups like Yes & Rush. However, what most people don’t realize is that the Moody Blues were the pioneers of progressive; only they combined rock with classical music. Even when they tried going with a more pop sound, they hit it big with Wildest Dreams.
The groups they’ve influenced include the before-mentioned Yes, Genesis, & Electric Light Orchestra, among others. Their big hits include Knights in White Satin, Go Now, Tuesday Afternoon, & a ton of others. They have 18 platinum albums & have sold over 70 million records worldwide.
Now, if you want to get your feet wet, I would go with their greatest hits album, This is the Moody Blues. If you want to deep dive, go with Days of Future Passed, A Question of Balance, Seventh Sojourn, & Every Good Boy Deserves Favour. I’m glad the Hall’s come to its senses & put them on the list. Here’s hoping they make the final cut for induction.
This week’s album review is from Belly. I know, you were probably expecting me to review Marilyn Manson’s new one. I have. It’s on my album review podcast, which will be out this week, along with reviews of August Burns Red, NF, & Kelela. Now, back to Belly.
Belly has been around since 2005. He’s put out a ton of mix tapes but released his first full length album The Revolution earlier this year. He’s already put out another album, called Mumble Rap. So how is it?
First off, he doesn’t mumble on it, nor does he really make fun of it. Having said that, the album itself is really good. All of the beats are good & don’t sound like I could’ve made them on my old Casio keyboard from the 80s.
The best songs on here are The Come Down is Real, Too, Mumble Rap, & Alcantara. This album could possibly be the best hip-hop album I’ve listened to all year.
This week on the Billboard charts, the Killers debut at number one on the album chart while Cardi B keeps the number one single for another week.
This week’s new releases are from Beck, Pink, Tegan and Sara, Robert Plant, Knuckle Puck, St. Vincent, Wu-Tang Clan, & many others for the holiday shopping season.