#3. Francoise Hardy -- Je n'attends plus personne (or, if Billy Corgan was a French girl in the 60s)
The Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness offered a, for 1995, pretty original combination of the crunchy, loud guitars of grunge rock mixed with poppy choruses and shameless lyrics of post-high school lovesickness. Critics praised the album for its scope and ambition. Time named it the best of the year, claiming that it "soared as high as its lofty ambitions, an Icarus with wings that worked," which proves that the pompousness was contagious.
But people could be forgiven for getting melodramatic: After all, no one had heard anything like this before.
Yeah, that pretty much looks like freshman year felt.
But, decades before ...
... unless you lived in France, that is. If you did, then perhaps you've already heard this:
Her name is Francoise Hardy, and while she's considered legendary and iconic in France, she never really made the jump to America, because let's face it, if it's not in English, we can't really seem to give much of a fuck.
"French music awards? Whoop-dee-fucking-doo."
In 1964, she released her fourth album, Mon amie la rose, which includes the number above, Je n'attends plus personne. So, while The Beatles were still singing "Love Me Do," this chick was producing a multilayered post-grunge-ish song featuring heavy, distorted guitars mixed with melancholic verses about love lost and hearts broken and all that.
Which you'd know already if you'd paid attention during French class.
Listen closely to that guitar bridge around the 2:00 mark, followed by the dramatic reprise -- this is the part of the mid-90s video where they show you rapid cuts of random people looking angsty while the singer is trapped in an enclosed space. Sure, she doesn't sound as angry-at-her-own-emotions as Billy Corgan, but then again, few people do.
That's right, Billy. Take it out on the guitar.
#2. Lothar and the Hand People -- Machines (or, Psychedelic New Wave)
In the early 80s, and with the help of a young MTV, new wave music hit the world like a brick. Bands like Kraftwerk and Gary Numan and Tubeway Army had been singing about robots and using drum machines for a few years by that time, but it wasn't until we could see the ridiculous suits and stupid hairdos on our TV screens that the phenomenon really exploded. Even established musicians like David Bowie and Peter Gabriel started sounding like this:
It was a new sound for a new era. Regarding Shock the Monkey, AllMusic says: "the song's rather gimmicky arrangement ... dominated by that stuttering four-note figure that's the relentlessly repeated hook, sounded nothing like anything else on the radio at the time."
But, decades before ...
... unless you listened to oldies radio and happened to catch this:
Believe it or not, that's actually a psychedelic rock band from the late 60s called Lothar and the Hand People (which just sounds like a really low-budget puppet show). Most of their output was exactly what you'd expect: songs about making love, going into space and making love while going into space.
While stoned, presumably.
However, "Machines," a song on their 1968 debut, Presenting ... Lothar and the Hand People, was something else entirely. It's got percussion that sounds like a modern drum machine, repetitive, canned guitar riffs, impersonal vocals -- even the lyrics sound like something you'd expect to hear from a guy doing the robot.
The only thing that ruins it is that their fashion sense was the exact opposite of the slick new wave look:
Filthy, disgusting hippies.
#1. Pigmeat Markham -- Here Comes the Judge (or, Hip-Hop in the 60s)
Ask anyone who knows a little about hip-hop and they'll tell you the first rap song ever was "Rapper's Delight" by Sugarhill Gang, released as a single in 1979 and on the group's first record the following year.
Brevity hadn't been invented yet.
Ask someone who knows a lot about hip-hop, though, and they'll probably tell you that the underground rap scene dated to around the mid-70s, you ignorant fool. Either way, "Rapper's Delight" is still a huge landmark; as AllMusic puts it, "more than any other, the single launched the hip-hop craze and introduced the world to the major musical innovation during the last two decades of the 20th century." That's right, we're not even counting the fact that it technically came out in the 70s, because it took until the 80s for rap to really catch on.
And until the 90s for this to become acceptable rapper dress.
But, decades before ...
In 1968, long before rap was even created, this record came out:
That's Here Comes the Judge by Dewey "Pigmeat" Markham, who was actually a comedian. In one of his routines he played a judge character forced to listen to incredibly stupid cases, often replying with snappy retorts. Thanks to that whole segregation thing our grandparents were so crazy about, Markham remained relatively obscure up until the 1960s, when Sammy Davis Jr. made a habit of quoting his judge sketches on TV.
Davis began referencing the sketches so much that "Here comes the judge!" basically became his catchphrase. With a famous singer going on TV playing his routines, Pigmeat figured the next logical step would be making a music record. He recorded a novelty single featuring one of his judge sketches on one side and a sort of spoken theme song for the character on the other -- basically, a rap song.
If the single had caught on, rap fashion would be very different today.
We hadn't even landed on the goddamn moon yet, and here's a straight-up (hilarious) rap from a guy known primarily as a comedian. Now, we're not saying that being a comedian improves musical ability or somehow lets you see the future of music -- we're just saying you should keep an eye out for Cracked: The Robot Hip-Hop Synthesizer Album later this year.
To read more of Ashe's work, check out weirdshitblog.com.
Be sure to pick up our new book so you can learn how to be an unappreciated musical genius.
For more modern concepts that predate what we think, check out 11 Modern Technologies That Are Way Older Than You Think and 6 Depraved Sexual Fetishes That Are Older Than You Think.
And stop by Linkstorm to see some AngelFire sites that were before their time.
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