Which is better: UK rock music or US rock music?
Continuing our review of musical genres, the answer to this question, provided at the end of today’s episode, is already known to astute readers familiar with previous columns of Music Historicity.
Much like the issue of CDs versus vinyl albums, a discussion of rock music and UK vs. US is likely to generate strong opinions from musicians as well as music lovers.
The list of subgenres of rock music is exhaustive. There is hard rock, classic rock, roots rock, progressive rock and art rock, indie rock, punk and post-punk rock, heavy metal, grunge, southern rock, blues rock, alternative, rockabilly, new wave, Britpop, glam rock, gothic rock, psychedelic and more.
When it comes to rock music, some say the British influenced the Americans. Others argue it was the other way around, depending on decade and year.
But one fact that cannot be argued is that “rock ‘n’ roll” – both the music and the term for it – originated in the United States.
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The creation of the term is not attributed to a person or to a specific date. Rock ‘n’ roll became known through backbeat music and African American styles such as blues, boogie woogie, and others that date back to the 1920s.
It was a few decades later that Muddy Waters wrote his song “The Blues Had a Baby and They Named It Rock and Roll”.
In the early 1950s, Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed began using the term for a genre of music that had previously seen a 1934 song called “Rock and Roll,” Roy Brown’s 1947 song “Good Rocking Tonight “and” Rock Me “, by gospel artist Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
Once Elvis Presley began recording records at Sun Studios in Memphis in 1954, the rock ‘n’ roll craze took off.
Chuck Berry released “Maybelline” in 1955, then appeared in early rock ‘n’ roll movies such as “Rock Rock Rock”. The St. Louis native and future Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee had a string of hit songs that propelled him to become the “Father of Rock and Roll”.
Until then, the British scene consisted of music hall dance orchestras and folk music. Popularized by artists such as Lonnie Donegan, skiffle music took hold, a style influenced by blues and American folk songs.
The influence of rock ‘n’ roll from the United States became even more evident with English artists such as Cliff Richard, who recorded American hit songs such as “That’ll Be the Day” by Buddy Holly, ” Be-Bop-a-Lula “by Gene Vincent and” Whole Lotta Shakin ‘Goin On “by Jerry Lee Lewis.
But British music made its impact in the United States thanks to the so-called British invasion. American listeners were well acquainted with the Beatles, who had their first hit with “Love Me Do” in 1962.
The invasion began after the Fab Four made their first live appearance on American television on the Ed Sullivan Show, in February 1964. Following artists have included Herman’s Hermits, the Kinks, Tom Jones, Donovan, the Hollies and others.
Suffice it to say that from that point on, musical influences spread back and forth across the pond. British groups continued to be affected by American groups, and vice versa.
The group’s success was largely attributable to managers, record companies and promotion.
In England, a trio of rock performers, billed as the ‘crème de la crème’, was the Cream supergroup. It consisted of Eric Clapton, a veteran of the Yardbirds; bassist Jack Bruce, who had performed with Clapton in John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers; and drummer Ginger Baker, who worked with Clapton and Steve Winwood in Blind Faith.
Later, another British supergroup, Led Zeppelin, formed in 1968 with guitarist Jimmy Page, who also played in the Yardbirds.
The American response that year lay in the emergence of new groups like Iron Butterfly, Sly and the Family Stone and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Likewise, in 1972, Blue Oyster Cult countered the British metal band Black Sabbath. The list goes on.
There were a few selected artists who enjoyed equal success on both sides of the Atlantic, such as Jimi Hendrix and Fleetwood Mac, in addition to the obvious Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Elton John, Judas Priest, the aforementioned Beatles and others.
But what is the best rock music from the United States or the United Kingdom?
Enough, we should remember that rock music hails from more than these two nations. Let’s not forget that Canada gave us the band Rush (but also, unfortunately, Bryan Adams, just kidding)!
Invariably, rock audiences in every country pay more attention – and money – to the musical artists of their own country.
A summary of UK internet blog posts states that the UK has more successful bands who have written songs with a better mix of styles. He argues that solos of British songs contain greater complexity, while solos of American songs tend to be more condensed.
Admitting that he is not from either of the two countries, an Australian writer said: “There isn’t much difference between British and American music of the same genre. Let’s call it a raffle and just enjoy. the music.”
I couldn’t agree more. Music is not a competition – it is an art form and is heard by the beholder.
Gary Gibula is an SIU alumnus, musician, writer, editor, and author of Music Historicity Columns.