Rock and Pop songs inspired by Historical events.

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A slight deviation from my regular  history of sorts. This time I will leave the music do the talking.

Throughout the decades there have been many songs that took their inspiration from historical events, below is a list and clips of some of them.

Starting of with the one song that covers most of known history of mankind. The Rollings Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil”

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Next up the re-telling of Rasputin by Boney M. Although they took quite some poetic licenses it still broadly outlines the history of that infamous Russian.

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Martin Luther King was the inspiration for U2’s “Pride” one of U2’s best songs ever with a powerful message.

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On December 29, 1890, the massacre of Sioux warriors, women and children along Wounded Knee Creek in southwestern South Dakota marked the final chapter in the long war between the United States and the Native American tribes indigenous to the Great Plains.

It was to be known as the Wounded knee massacre.It inspired the Native American Rock band Redbone to record the protest song “We were all wounded at Wounded Knee”

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In 2010 the Chicago Metal band released the song “Never Again” it was inspired by the Holocaust and served as an indictment that the one thing that history teaches us is that it keeps repeating itself.

Even our darkest era is denied, forgotten and slowly at risk of repeating itself again. But like Disturbed I also say “NEVER AGAIN”

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Although I am not a great fan of Bob Dylan as a performing artist, there is no denying he is one of the best songwriters ever.

I could have picked so many songs from his back catalogue but decided to go with “Hurricane”

Hurricane” is a protest song by Bob Dylan co-written with Jacques Levy, about the imprisonment of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. It compiles alleged acts of racism and profiling against Carter,[1] which Dylan describes as leading to a false trial and conviction.

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Finishing up as I started with a song that encompasses several decades of history.”We Didn’t Start the Fire” is a song by Billy Joel. Its lyrics include brief, rapid-fire allusions to more than 100 headline events between 1949, the year of Joel’s birth, and 1989,the year the song was released.

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The 1st Sony Walkman

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it is not often I do a piece on technology, in fact this is the first time and it probably will be last time, but this device has had an impact on my life.And today marks the 38th anniversary of its first release.

The transistor radio was a technological marvel that put music literally into consumers’ hands in the mid-1950s. It was cheap, it was reliable and it was portable,

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but it could never even approximate the sound quality of a record being played on a home stereo. It was, however, the only technology available to on-the-go music lovers until the Sony Corporation sparked a revolution in personal electronics with the introduction of the first personal stereo cassette player. A device as astonishing on first encounter as the cellular phone or digital camera would later be, the Sony Walkman went on sale for the very first time on July 1, 1979.

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The Sony Walkman didn’t represent a breakthrough in technology so much as it did a breakthrough in imagination. Every element of the Walkman was already in production or testing as part of some other device when Sony’s legendary chairman, Masaru Ibuka, made a special request in early 1979.

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Ibuka was a music lover who traveled frequently, and he was already in the habit of carrying one of his company’s “portable” stereo tape recorders with him on international flights. But the Sony TC-D5 was a heavy device that was in no way portable by modern standards, so Ibuka asked his then-deputy Norio Ohga if he could cobble together something better. Working with the company’s existing Pressman product—a portable, monaural tape recorder that was popular with journalists—Ohga had a playback-only stereo device rigged up in time for Ibuka’s next trans-Pacific flight.

Even though this proto-Walkman required large, earmuff-like headphones and custom-made batteries (which, of course, ran out on Ibuka midway through his flight), it impressed the Sony chairman tremendously with its sound quality and portability. Many objections were raised internally when Ibuka began his push to create a marketable version of the device, the biggest of which was conceptual: Would anyone actually buy a cassette device that was not for recording but only for playback? Ibuka’s simple response—”Don’t you think a stereo cassette player that you can listen to while walking around is a good idea?”—proved to be one of the great understatements in business history.

After a breakneck development phase of only four months, Sony engineers had a reliable product ready for market at 30,000 Yen (approximately US$150 in 1979 dollars) and available before the start of summer vacation for Japanese students—both critical targets established at the outset of development. The initial production run of 30,000 units looked to be too ambitious after one month of lackluster sales (only 3,000 were sold in July 1979). But after an innovative consumer-marketing campaign in which Sony representatives simply approached pedestrians on the streets of Tokyo and gave them a chance to listen to the Walkman, the product took off, selling out available stocks before the end of August and signaling the beginning of one of Sony’s greatest success stories.

I remember getting a Sony Sports Walkman in the mid eighties it was the top of the range technology at the time.

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No longer was I confined at home to listen to my favorite rock tunes. I got be a “rock star” anywhere I wanted. Ignore all those who laughed at me while I was playing air guitar on my way to school or town.I didn’t mind because I knew they envied me because I had a Sony Sports Walkman.

This is a tune of an album I played a lot on the Walkman. Whitesnake,album:Slide it in, Track, Love ain’t no stranger.

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The unknown originals -volume 2

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Sometimes you hear a song on the radio and you may have actually heard this song for many years,always thinking it was an original. However it often happens that these “originals” are actually copies or covers.

In this blog I will be looking at the songs in the original language, sometimes performed by the same artist.

Below are some of these real originals. Starting off with the Germans. A nation not that known for it’s musical abilities,well at least in Pop music terms. In the 80s though they came up with this new wave of German music, called “die Neue Deutsche Welle” or New German wave in English.

One of the leading bands were Nena, fronted by the lead singer Nena.

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They had a massive worldwide hit with 99 Red balloons, the original however was in German “99 Luftballons”

 

In 1988 the Munich band Münchener Freiheit, renamed for the English speaking countries to “Freiheit” had a massive  hit with the song”Keeping the dream alive” it actually became a Christmas hit even tough it had nothing to do with Christmas.

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But the original is called “So lang’ man Träume noch leben kann”

 

“It’s now or never” was one of Elvis’s biggest hits and you may be forgiven that the original was in English.

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However the original date back to the 19th century. “’O sole mio” is a globally known Neapolitan song written in 1898. Its lyrics were written by Giovanni Capurro and the music was composed by Eduardo di Capua and Alfredo Mazzucchi. Here performed by Pavarotti.

 

One of my favourite crooners is Bobby Darin.

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His version of “beyond the sea” always puts me in a nostalgic mood. It was however a cover from the French chanson “la mer” a song written by French composer, lyricist, singer and showman Charles Trenet.

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When Frank Sinatra sang ” I did it my way” he did it in more then one way.

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“My way” is a cover of the French song “Comme d’habitude” French for “As usual”) is a French song composed in 1967 by Claude François and Jacques Revaux with lyrics by Claude François and Gilles Thibaut.

 

The Irish folk band the Fureys had a worldwide hit wit “the red rose cafe” .The original Dutch version  is called “het Kleine cafe aan de haven” which translates in the little pub at the harbour. It was written,performed and composed by Pierre Kartner under his artist name Vader Abraham(no it’s not a name of a Sith lord in Star Wars?.Who also composed and performed “the Smurf song”

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As bonus I will also include the original Dutch version of the Smurf song by the aforementioned Vader Abraham

The music that shaped my life-part 2

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Music plays an important role in my life, it always have and it always will. It is not only listening to music, playing it also often played a therapeutic role, especially during my teenage years.

My weapon of choice,Guitar. Below a picture of my very 1st guitar. Many more were to follow.

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It was my neighbor and friend who got me first interested in playing guitar. He had started playing it and it sounded cool, so I thought give it a go.After a while we both got the hang of it and we would often duel, sitting on our windowsills.Me on the 1st floor of our apartment block and he on the 2nd floor.Credit goes to all other neighbors,no one ever complained.

However there were two guitarists that really ignited the spark of my inner guitarists, They were from the other scales of the jazz/blues/rock spectrum.

First Jim Croce, the combination of his lyrics and the acoustic(easy sounding but not that easy to copy) way of playing guitar touched my soul. I only discovered his music years after he died. This is my favourite Jim Croce track.

The second guitarist is in my opinion the best guitarist that ever roamed the planet. The second you hear him you know it’s him. I am referring to Stevie Ray Vaughan. 27 August 1990, a piece of me died too.Tin Pan Alley is 9 minutes and 9 seconds of musical heaven.

I was lucky when I grew up music channels still played music,which opened up a whole array of music from bands I wouldn’t have heard of before. Fondly I remember a show called “Monsters of Rock” it was either on Sky(which basically started of as a music channel) . The opening theme of the show introduced me to another great Guitarist, the legendary Joe Satriani, I never heard anyone play guitar like that it was mesmerizing.

Me and my best friend would watch Monster of Rock religiously and we would rate the bands who were on it and would even write reports on the best performances and the best( I know it’s sad) Below a clip of the show(And no neither me or my friend wrote in)

This concludes ‘ The music that shaped my life-part 2’ in part 3 I will be talking about a song that confirmed to  me that the  changes I made  to my life were the right ones.I know I said this concludes part 2, but I couldn’t leave out one particular SRV song, that I played a lot on the day he died 27-Aug-1990, it is from his last album.

 

https://dirkdeklein.net/2017/03/02/the-music-that-shaped-my-life-part-1/

 

The Eurovision song contest

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Tonight is the first semi finals of the annual circus called the Eurovision Song contest. I have to be honest though, I do like it. It basically goes against everything I like,music wise, the whole bizarre circus and the politics behind it I do find entertaining.

In case you are in doubt it is political you only have to look at last year’s winner. Ukraine;Jamala-1944.

Let’s just look at the history of probably the biggest Television event in the world.

The history of the Eurovision Song Contest began with an idea of Sergio Pugliese, of the Italian television RAI, and then approved by Marcel Bezençon of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

The contest was based on the Italian Sanremo Music Festival and was designed to test the limits of live television broadcast technology.

.The first contest took place on 24 May 1956, where seven nations participated.  It was won by Lys Assia for Switzerland, with the song refrain.

As the Contest progressed, the rules grew increasingly complex and participation levels rose to pass forty nations at the end of the 20th century. As more countries came on board over subsequent decades and technology advanced, the EBU attempted to keep up with national and international trends.

Ireland won the contest 7 times, followed by Sweden 6 times.France, Luxembourg, United Kingdom 5 times and the Netherlands 4 times.

Of the 7 times Ireland won it, 3 times were by Johnny Logan.

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Twice as a performer and in 1992 as the composer with the song Why me? sung by Linda Martin.

Ireland also had one of the most bizarre contestants, a Turkey called Dustin. It was really as a protest against the geographical bloc voting which became evident at the end of the 1990’s and early 21st century,after the introduction of tele-voting and the removal of the jury votes.

 

Finland who mostly got 0 points or at the most just a few points was the surprise winner in 2006 with a Heavy Metal band called Lordi. Although many people complaint about this, it does show the diversity of popular music on display at the Eurovision.

 

In general the winners do not enjoy too much success or longevity in the music industry, however there were 2 acts that were able to build a career on the back of their wins at the Eurovision

In 1988 Canadian born Celine Dion entered the contest for Switzerland with the song “Ne partez pas sans moi” she became a global mega star afterwards.

The band that really is associated with the Song contest is of course ABBA, in 1974 they won with their song Waterloo, this catapulted their career into the stratosphere. Their fame was at par with bands like Queen, the Beatles and the Rolling stones.

 

Going back to the diversity of the Eurovision in 1998 and in 2014 the contest was won by transgender/sexual  contestsants, 1998 Dana International for Israel with the song”Diva” and 2014 Conchita Wurst for Austria with the song “Rise like a Phoenix”

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In 2009 the contest was won by Norway’s Alexander Rybak with his self-penned “Fairytale”, which received a record-breaking 387 points out of 492, at the time the highest total score in the history of the contest.

Finishing up with the song that won the last time for the Netherlands. In 1975 Teach In won the contest with the song”Ding A Dong” (hey it was the seventies)

Nearer my God to thee-And the band played on.

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105 years ago today as the Titanic was sinking,band leader Wallace Hartley decided to stay on the ship together with his fellow musicians.

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Why I don’t really know but I think it was to give that glimmer of hope to those who were facing their last minutes before their mortal coils would give up.What is even more amazing is the fact that the piece of music they played was “Nearer my God to thee” these are the heroes who are often forgotten.

After the Titanic hit an iceberg and began to sink, Hartley and his fellow band members started playing music to help keep the passengers calm as the crew loaded the lifeboats. Many of the survivors said that he and the band continued to play until the very end. None of the band members survived the sinking, and the story of them playing to the end became a popular legend. One survivor who clambered aboard ‘Collapsible A’ claimed to have seen Hartley and his band standing on the boat deck, near the entrance to the grand staircase, near the base of the second funnel. He went on to say that he saw three of them washed off while the other five held on to the railing on top the Grand Staircase’s deckhouse, only to be dragged down with the bow, as Hartley exclaimed, “Gentlemen, I bid you farewell!” A newspaper at the time reported “the part played by the orchestra on board the Titanic in her last dreadful moments will rank among the noblest in the annals of heroism at sea.”

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Many of the survivors said that Hartley and the band continued to play until the very end. One second class passenger said:

“Many brave things were done that night, but none were more brave than those done by men playing minute after minute as the ship settled quietly lower and lower in the sea. The music they played served alike as their own immortal requiem and their right to be recalled on the scrolls of undying fame”

This is my salute to those who kept faith until the last moment.

The positive vibes of the Rocky movies.

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This is going to be a completely bias blog and I am not apologizing for it.For some reason I tend to watch the Rocky movies every time I am going to a bit of a rough time.

Although the movies are really not of the standard I usually would watch, I can’t but help having a soft spot for the franchise, yes even for the last 2 installments. It is not only the story of someone not giving up despite a lot of hardship, it is also  the music that works uplifting.

I was going for a walk earlier this week and as usual I would listen to music while walking. At one stage I was reflecting on some recent hard times and nearly became overwhelmed by emotion, but before the tears had a chance to make an appearance Bill Conti’s “Flying High now” was piping through my head set and it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling.

It is also because of the Rocky movies and especially III and IV I was introduced to one of my all time favourite rock bands Survivor. “Eye of the Tiger” became an instant classic as did “Burning heart” and again both songs will leave you with this great and positive feeling, as if you are able to take on the world.

Sylvester Stallone wrote the screenplay for Rocky in three and a half days, shortly after watching the championship match between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner that took place at Richfield Coliseum in Richfield, Ohio on March 24, 1975. Wepner was TKO’d in the 15th round of the match by Ali, but nobody ever expected.

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When Rocky Balboa runs up those steps in Philadelphia you feel like you’re running up with them and you get an equal buzz when you reach the top. And I think that is what the message is from the movies”It may seem like a lot you have to overcome but when you get to the top, the view is great”rocky-steps-with-love-philadelphia1-600vp

The day the country music died

Okay the title might be a bit over dramatic but the story has striking similarities with the Buddy Holly;Ritchie Valens and Big Bopper crash.

https://dirkdeklein.net/2017/02/03/the-day-the-music-died/

On March 5, 1963, country music stars Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas, and Hawkshaw Hawkins were killed in a plane crash near Camden, Tennessee, United States, along with the pilot Randy Hughes.

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The accident occurred as the three artists were returning home to Nashville, Tennessee, after performing in Kansas City, Missouri.

At approximately 2 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5, 1963, a Piper Comanche departed Fairfax Municipal Airport in Kansas City.

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It was operating as a non-scheduled passenger cross-country business flight under visual flight rules to its destination of Nashville, 411 nautical miles (761 km; 473 mi) to the southeast. Later that afternoon the aircraft landed at Rogers Municipal Airport in Rogers, Arkansas to refuel and departed 15 minutes afterwards.

Pilot Hughes later made contact with Dyersburg Regional Airport in Dyersburg, Tennessee and landed there at 5:05 p.m., where he requested a weather briefing for the remainder of the flight to Nashville. He was informed by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employee Leroy Neal that local conditions were marginal for VFR flight and weather at the destination airport was below VFR minimums. Hughes then asked if the Dyersburg airport runways were lighted at night in case he had to return and Neal replied that they were. The pilot then informed Neal he would fly east towards the Tennessee River and navigate to Nashville from there, as he was familiar with the terrain in that area. Hughes expressed concern with a 2,049-foot (625 m) high television transmitting tower north of Nashville, then stated that he would attempt the flight and return if the weather conditions worsened.

After refueling, the passengers and pilot reboarded the Piper Comanche.(Picture below is a Piper Comanche but not the actual plane used by Hughes)

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Hughes requested another weather briefing by radio then taxied into position and took off at 6:07 p.m. After takeoff, there was no further radio contact with N7000P. The reported weather at that time was a ceiling of 500 feet (150 m), visibility of 5 miles (8.0 km), temperature of 43 °F (6 °C; 279 K), gusty and turbulent wind from the east at 20 miles per hour (17 kn) and cloudy.Several minutes later an aviation-qualified witness, approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) west of Camden, heard a low-flying aircraft on a northerly course. The engine noise increased and seconds later a white light appeared from the overcast, descending in a 45 degree angle.

At 6:29 p.m., the aircraft crashed into a wooded swampy area 1 mile (1.6 km) north of Highway 70 and 5 miles (8.0 km) west of Camden.

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The impact completely destroyed the aircraft and all four occupants aboard were killed. The witness described hearing a dull-sounding crash, followed by complete silence.

After the witness notified the Tennessee Highway Patrol, two law enforcement officers performed a preliminary search of the area around 7 p.m., but they found nothing. By 11:30 p.m., a search party was organized consisting of the Highway Patrol, Civil Defense and local officers who searched the area throughout the night. At 6:10 a.m. on March 6, the wreckage was discovered. A three-foot hole indicated the area of initial impact and debris was scattered over an area 166 feet (51 m) long and 130 feet (40 m) wide.

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During the FAA investigation, it was found the aircraft’s propeller contacted a tree 30 feet (9.1 m) above the ground while the aircraft was in a 26-degree nose-down attitude. The right wing then collided with another tree 32 feet (9.8 m) to the right, causing the plane to become inverted. The downward angle increased to 45 degrees and the Comanche hit the ground at an estimated speed of 175 miles per hour (282 km/h), about 62 feet (19 m) from the initial contact.

Inspection of the air frame and engine disclosed that the aircraft was intact and the engine was developing substantial power before impacting the trees. Investigators found no evidence of engine or system failure or malfunction of the aircraft prior to the crash. It was determined the plane was slightly over maximum gross weight when it departed Dyersburg Regional Airport, but this fact had no bearing on the crash.

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An autopsy of the pilot discovered no physical or medical concerns that could have been a factor in the accident.

Investigators believe that Hughes entered an area of deteriorating weather with low visibility and lost his visual reference with the ground. This induced spatial disorientation and eventually led to a graveyard spiral with the aircraft entering into a right hand diving turn, with a nose-down attitude of 25 degrees. When the aircraft cleared the clouds, Hughes attempted to arrest the high descent rate by pulling the nose up and applying full power but it was too late. The FAA investigators later found evidence that the propeller was at maximum rpm during impact.

The FAA’s final conclusion was the non-instrument-rated pilot’s attempted visual flight in adverse weather conditions, resulting in disorientation and subsequent loss of control.

 

The Music that shaped my life-Part 1

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Music has always played an important and pivotal role in my life. At times it was my comforter,companion,friend,guide and inspiration.

This is just a short journey through my musical life. Eclectic and interesting.

Starting off with the King.

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No one who loves music can say that they don’t like Elvis so it was no different for me.Without divulging too much of my personal life, suffice to say my childhood could have been better. It was in Elvis’s music I often found solace. Although I did enjoy his edgier early stuff ,it were his ballads that spoke to me and especially this one:

It was also Elvis that got me interested in Rock N Roll. Which leads me nicely to the firs woman in my life. Joan Jett.

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Well she wasn’t really the first woman in my life I had a mother and sisters, but Joan was the first woman that got my musical juices flowing so to speak.

It was 1982 and the world was rocked in to submission by a German girl singing about a bit of love, in the bore fest called the  Eurovision songcontest.

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If it hadn’t been for Joan Jett and the Blackhearts I may have actually started listening to Nicole and God only knows what might have happened.I can safely say it was “I love Rock ‘N’ Roll that saved my soul from eternal damnation. It was also the song that triggered my long lasting love affair with Hard Rock.

1982 was also the year a relatively unknown band was approached by an Italian American to write a song for a boxing movie, actually the 3rd instalment of the franchise.

The movie of course was Rocky III, the band Survivor.But rather then talking about Eye of the Tiger I am taking you back a few years.

In 1980 Survivor had released their first self titled album.

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The reason why I am discussing this album is because it was given to me as a gift by a friend of my brother. He knew I had recently bought the aforementioned album”Eye of the Tiger” and he knew I liked the band. As a random act of kindness he ordered Survivor’s 1st album for me. This was before online ordering so he had to physically send the order over to Virgin Records in London to get it delivered to my home in the Netherlands.To this day this album is still one of my favourites. This is the best track on the album.

I have always been a big fan off concept albums. Jeff Wayne’s musical version of the War of the Wotlds is just the pinnacle of art combined with music, Often when there is nothing on TV (which is a lot) I put on the album just to drift away in memories, because lets face it music is a time machine.

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However it was the Seattle based  Queensryche who in 1988  released the best concept album of all time Well at least in my opinion and I am a bit biased because I am a massive fan.

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Queensryche had released another great album before “Operation Mindcrime” called “Rage for Order” and I didn’t think they’d be able to improve on that, but boy was I wrong.

This concludes the first 2 decades of my musical life, but I will come back in part 2 with some 80s blues music, yes I do mean Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Deutschland 1980’s-the Music.

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I know what you are thinking “Didn’t he already do a piece on Deutschland ’83?” and you’d be right , but this blog is not about that show nor its follow up “Deutschland ’86”.

This piece is about the music in Germany in the 80’s. It always fascinated me that for this relatively short period of time the German music industry basically turned itself on its head. It went from the folky Schlager music to the NDW(Neue Deutsche Welle) German new wave and punk music,complemented with some rock acts.

Well at least for West Germany, East Germany was a different story altogether.

Below are some examples of that weird musical era in Germany. I do apologize for the first 2 songs but in order to get a feel for the paradox and to have a balance I felt compelled to put them in here.You can fast forward if you  so please.(I did)

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The situation in the East

“Sonderzug nach Pankow” (Special Train to Pankow) is a song by the German rock singer Udo Lindenberg, released as a single on 2 February 1983.

It was a reaction to the refusal by the East German government to allow the West German singer perform a concert in East Germany .The text of this approximately three minutes long song is aimed  directly to East German leader Erich Honecker.

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The melody is based on the 1941 swing classic “Chattanooga Choo Choo” by Glenn Miller. It did eventually did lead to Udo Lindenberg being granted to do 1 concert in East Germany on 25 October 1983. The concert was part of the “Rock für den Frieden”(Rock for Peace) festival.

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German Rock

These guys must have listened to Led Zeppelin a lot.

Finishing up with the band that no one talks about anymore ,Milli Vanilli. Ironically the lip syncing scandal they were involved in has more or less become the standard in the Music industry nowadays.