In 2014, alternative rock is a standard fixture of the musical landscape. This is an era where Coldplay regularly placing near the top of the pop charts, Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers filling stadiums, Radiohead and Arcade Fire racking up Grammy Award nominations, and Nirvana essentially being begged to be honored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are normal, even expected, occurrences. One not even need look beyond PopMatters itself for confirmation, for like any other current critical publication online or off-, a sizable percentage of new rock releases reviewed will originate from the alternative/indie spectrum due to sheer volume and the ubiquity of the style.
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“Easy listening“, “adult contemporary“, “elevator music“: these dirty words have been used to describe some of the songs on the following list. In their defense, these songs came out in the ‘70s, which was the height of the soft rock revolution, yet some of the songs have their roots in rock and R&B, and transcend the time period they were released in. And those songs that don’t? Oh, well. As Paul McCartney said: “Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs. And what’s wrong with that?”
If you were a child of the ‘70s, you no doubt grew up hearing these tunes slipping out your parents’ eight-track player and car radio. The songs on the list are sappy, high-drama love ballads, and for that they’re being celebrated. They also represent a simpler, more carefree time for a generation getting older and perhaps nostalgic.
Woodstock ’94 sometimes gets lost in pack. It obviously didn’t — and could never have — carried as much weight as the original, which in 1969 blazed a trail for modern music festivals and left us with a wealth of unforgettable performances. Nor did it digress into the nightmarish, post-apocalyptic hellhole that Woodstock ’99 did. In some ways, 20 years later, Woodstock ’94—which took place on August 13th and 14th—seems like an afterthought. But, when you dig into it deeper, it hit the sweet spot between the classic-rockers/folk-revivalists/returning-veterans and the names that were then at the forefront of popular music. They even got Bob Dylan, who turned down a spot at Woodstock ’69, to perform. In honor of the middle brother Woodstock’s 20th birthday, we decided to remember five great performances that are worth revisiting/discovering, and are readily available in their entirety.
There’s definitely not a shortage of concert footage floating around. From esteemed directors to random people waving an iPhone in everyone’s face, there’s a ton of material to shift through, but, now that watching your favorite band live from behind a screen is so easy, there’s a question I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: what separates someone capturing a night when a band is on fire from a great concert documentary? Because there is a difference. And what bridges the gap is an underlying storyline. Some sort of innovative, emotional, or humanitarian connection that changes the way we think about, talk about, or listen to one or multiple performers. Something that makes it feel cinematic. Or stranger than fiction.
With Judas Priest back in the public spotlight, having just released an excellent, PopMatters-approved 17th studio album this past week called Redeemer of Souls, it had a lot of longtime listeners, including yours truly, revisiting the influential British metal band’s vast back catalog for sheer nostalgia’s sake. After a quick search of PopMatters’ many List This music entries, I couldn’t believe the mighty Priest hadn’t been covered yet. And if this is the first Judas Priest list to grace this site, why not start with the most obvious?