Relentless Changes The Record
Six Sevens that changed the world
Relentless present their selection of powerful moments in music that changed the world to celebrate the launch of their new 250ml can and Record Store Day
The history of popular music is in a lot of ways like the history of western civilisation. It’s messy, occasionally bloody, often beautiful, sometimes sad and almost always interesting. Since the beginning of recorded music there have been dozens of seemingly small moments and events that have completely changed the musical landscape. Usually these unassuming game changers took the form or a seven inch single.
Relentless Energy Drink has launched a new 250ml can, a small but power hit of energy, which may be in a smaller can but is still 100% No Half Measures. To celebrate this and tomorrow being the start of Record Store Day, Relentless has selected some of its favourite seven inches from history, and looks at how they changed the face of music.
Chuck Berry and the birth of Rock n Roll
In the movie Back to the Future there’s a scene where a time travelling Marty McFly performs Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B. Goode’ at a 50’s high school dance and inadvertently invents Rock n Roll. This is a great scene for two reasons A) the bit where the 80’s born McFly starts riffing Van Halen style in front of a terrified 50’s audience and B) because it’s sort of true. Without Check Berry there would be no Rock n Roll, he (along with Little Richard and Bo Diddely) was one of the earliest Rhythm and Blues artists to take the music out of African American dance clubs and onto national radio.
Creating a driving guitar style that would go on to influence everyone from John Lennon to Joe Strummer, Berry’s first single ‘Maybellene’ sold over a million copies. It may have been Elvis Presley and his good looks and snake hips that became the face of the genre, but it was Chuck Berry who gave it it’s soul.
fahr'n fahr'n fahr'n auf der Autobahn
Back in 1974 the charts were full of pouting glam rockers, epic prog rock and middle of the road balladry from the likes of David Essex. It must have seemed like Aliens had landed when Kraftwerk’s first international single, ‘Autobahn’ hit the radio. Hearing a song made purely with synthesisers, electronic drums and vocoders may seem pretty standard in 2013, but back in the 70’s the only thing that sounded even remotely similar was the Dr. Who theme tune! Couple that with the site of four German art students with short hair and sharp suits in a world of denim and mullets and you’ve got a bonefide revolution. Nearly 40 years later this still remains the corner stone for all dance and electronic music, and has also had a resounding influence on everything from punk to hip-hop.
Hey Ho let’s go!
There isn’t much to say about punk rock that hasn’t been said a million times already. It changed the musical landscape, politicised rock music, and was like a hand grenade in the face of 70’s musical indulgence. It was fast, aggressive and nasty. What’s easy to forget is that the whole thing was started by four kids from Brooklyn who just wanted to make catchy pop songs like those they’d grown up with. ‘Blitzrieg Bop’ was the debut single from a little known New York band called the Ramones. It wasn’t about sticking it to the man, it wasn’t about changing the world, it was them making music on their own terms. A two minute and ten second blast of fun designed to get people throwing themselves around in the greatest tradition of raw rock n roll. Regardless of what has happened since (the Clash, new wave and the birth of Hardcore) this is the essential attitude that all punks follow.
Don’t push me coz’ I’m close to the edge
Rap and Hip-Hop was born out of the New York party scene, DJ’s would scratch and beat match disco/funk records at street parties and loft ‘happenings’ while young MC’s would rap over them, usually boasting or hyping up the party. That changed when the scene’s godfather Grandmaster Flash released his single ‘The Message’ with Melle Mel and the Furious Five in 1982. The birth of conscious hip-hop, the song’s lyrics reflected the times and life living in the ghettos of 1980’s New York. Paving the way for everyone from Public Enemy to Dead Prez and Rage against the Machine, this was the track that proved Hip-Hop had brains as well as soul.
By 1996 electronica and dance music had started to invade the charts, but it still hadn’t hit the top spot yet. Enter the Prodigy, a gang of Essex lads who had been part of the rave and acid house scene since 1990. Their single, ‘Firestarter’ re-launched the band, with former dancer Keith Flint emerging as a punky anti-hero, howling manic lyrics over vicious break beats. The insane mix of techno, rave and the riff from the Breeders ‘Cannonball’ shouldn’t have worked, but it shot to number one as every bloke in the clubs and pubs across the UK tried to mimic Flint’s mental dance moves. The Prodigy has gone on to headline Glastonbury and Lollapalooza, and have turned literally hundreds of alt rockers and head bangers onto the joys of rave, but it’s this song they will forever be associated with.
I remember when I lost my mind
A lot has been said about the emergence of downloads in the music industry, it’s killed the business and made it hard for artists to make money etc. This may all be true, but the other side of that is that it’s made it possible for the weird and the wonderful to be heard. In 2006 radio DJ Zane Lowe started championing a digital single by an unknown duo called Gnarls Barkley, made up of little known Cee Lo Green (previously of, hip-hop collective, the Goodie Mob) and the cult producer, Danger Mouse. The song was a bizarre piece of hip-hop/soul dealing with the trials of love, paranoia and mental illness. Not exactly the ingredients for a chart topper, but the track went onto to become the first single to ever get to no.1 purely from digital downloads, pioneering the way for bands to release music cheaply but still get it heard around the world.
PS: Don't forget Relentless & Delphic are having a house party in Manchester, 16 May for info www.hotminutemag.co.uk/2013/03/whats-on-relentless-house-party-16-may-manchester/ and tix facebook.com/RelentlessEnergy