Glam Rock

More metallic than power pop, too diverse and ambitious to be punk, Glam rock is a genre defined mostly by an attitude as the genre can cross various lines from Punk (New York Dolls) to Metal (Kiss, Thin Lizzy) to Rock & Roll (Mott the Hoople, T Rex) to wildly eclectic (Queen). The attitude that held them all together was a mixture of flamboyant, outrageous, androgynous, over the top 70's sleaze.  Glam Rock produced a lot of great rock.

New Wave

New Wave rose out of the more musically ambitious element of Punk Rock music. It kept Punk's conciseness, lack of pretension and cynicism and removed Punk's supposed rejection of the past to create a style of modern pop-rock heavily influenced by the great bands of the early and mid-60's as well as art rockers like Bowie and Peter Gabriel. There's also a strong edge of paranoia running through New Wave (Split Enz "I Got You", XTC's "Making Plans for Nigel", Elvis Costelloes 2nd and 3rd albums). This is an amazing list of great songs featuring incredible playing, melodies and lyrics.

Art Rock

Art Rock is "Progressive" Rock's cool brother and for good reason. In place of Progressive rock's seeming contempt for rock music and aping of Renaissance and Jazz musical ideas (almost always in the most cliched ways possible showing as much lack of understanding of those forms as they do of Rock& Roll), Art rock builds on the various ways Rock music separated itself from the Blues/R&B beginnings of Rock & Roll in creative and original ways. King Crimson's first album is a landmark in this regard and is probably responsible for the horrible Progressive and Progressive\Metal bands that followed. Still, "The Court of the Crimson King" and "21st Century Schizoid Man" are as amazing a re-imagings of Rock music as Jimi Hendrix's work. Like the first King Crimson album and especially on their albums "Led Zeppelin IV" and "Houses of the Holy" Led Zeppelin managed to incorporate pre-20th century british folk and some Jazz influence
("The Rain Song") to incredible effect as well as consistantly delivering hard rock songs of the highest quality.

The following music truly is progressive.

Punk Rock

Punk Rock started off in American garages during the 60's when garage bands tried to emulate their favorite English bands like The Yardbirds and The Who (check out the first song in the playlist - The Count Five's 'Psychotic Reaction'  basically a re-write of The Yardbirds version of the Bo Diddley classic 'I'm a Man'). It then crossed back over to England by the early 1970's where some of the best bands of the genre come from. We decided to keep this playlist focused on the hard rock end of the punk spectrum as we feel the more melodic and Reggae influenced end of punk fit's better under New Wave. We are also not including any 80's hardcore as we'll dedicate a playlist to Hardcore soon.

NSFW or young children. You've been warned!

The Funk

As with the Motown entry, not much to say here, just a staggering amount of mind blowing music as R&B continues it's evolution. The creativity of the form and it's ceaseless forward progress are beyond impressive. I'm not sure I've ever heard "Jungle Boogie" by Kool and the Gang and been not shakin' to the core by how amazing that song is. Pure fun.

...And please don't be offended when we give you the "Soul Finger"!

Power Pop

Power Pop is an interesting category of Rock & Roll. The difference between it and Punk and New Wave can be difficult to distinguish. It differed from punk rock in that it tended to be naive and emotionally open compared to punks cynicism and corrosive negativity. Still a band like Ireland's UnderTone's could fit in either or both categories. It also holds a lot in common with New Wave although New Wave's tendency toward combining mid-period Beatles (Paperback Writer, Rain) and Kinks (A well Respected Man, Waterloo Sunset) with art rock influences (Bowie,Peter Gabriel, early Pink Floyd) makes New Wave far more ambitious in both music and lyrics.

That explains what Power Pop isn't but doesn't describe much about what Power Pop is. What Power Pop is then is a group of musicians and Bands obsessed with the energy, sounds and lyrical simplicity (lyrics almost always deal with girls or cars) of the early 60's Beatles, Beach Boys and The Byrds  while frequently striving to attain the greater melodic complexity of those same bands mid-60's output.

The early-70's band Big Star is one we feel we have to make a special argument for. We've included only their incredible, Byrds like classic "September Gurls" in this list even though many consider them the ultimate power pop band. Luther's Music's opinion though is that a number of factors lift them out of power pop and possibly into a category of their own and that's that both the music and lyrics are both not only ambitious enough but also SUCCESSFUL enough to put them on the same level as their influences. They also across their entire catalogue of songs have a deep and hauntingly pervasive feeling of melancholy and romantic gloom that separates them from the generally cheerful power pop. We've also included the song "I am the cosmos" from Big Star's tragically doomed co-founder Chris Bell's solo album.

But hey, enough of our yackin', here's the playlist! 

The 60's

We don't need to tell anyone how amazing the pop music of the 1960's was but we did want to show how amazing even some of the second or third tier bands were. When singles like the ones created by bands like: The Lovin' Spoonful, The Turtles and The Beau Brummels are to one degree or another overshadowed by the giants of the time that's got to be a great period for popular music. We mixed some of the best of those bands with The Byrds and Beach Boys for the following playlist.

Motown

Not much to say here, the music is so well known it speaks for itself,  a towering acheivement whose influence was felt around the world.

Blue-Eyed Soul

Over the course of popular music during the 20th century white musicians have tried with varying degrees of success to emulate or add elements of African-American music to their own. What follows is a collection of what we think are the most successful attempts by artists inspired by Soul music.

Southern Soul

In the mid 1950's R&B started to move away from it's electrified country-blues phase and into a more commercial, sophisticated form. R&B in the late 50's then saw an increase in the influence of gospel music as performers from that genre started moving into secular music. These developments would lead to the creation of the two largest labels for the next step in the evolution of R&B. The form would be called Soul music by the 60's and the labels Stax\Volt out of Memphis, TN and Motown out of Detriot , MI would be the commercial and creative powerhouses (although Motown would dwarf Stax commercially). The following playlist focuses on the raw, often hard rocking, funky Southern Soul that came out of Stax and it's sometime distributor and collaborator Atlantic Records.

Rock & Roll, Pt. 2

The 1960's saw a number of musical styles takeover popular music. The English invasion started out heavily influenced by the originators of 1950's Rock and Roll only to quickly invent and move through a series of new sub-genres of rock that culminated in the excesses of psychedelic rock. The following bands turned the focus back to America's amazing roots music as the well-spring of great popular music and put the "Roll" back into what had become "Rock" music.

Rock & Roll, Pt. 1

It's a cliche to say but this is the music that launched a revolution. The education of white America to the energy and dance rhythms of African-American Rhythm & Blues in the 1950's would change the face of popular music permanantly in a large part of the world.

It's also important to distinguish this from the music that was influenced by it that would come after that was "Rock" without the "Roll" meaning that dance rhythms were de-emphasized and "rock" music was primarily a stationary listening experience that was more or less impossible to dance to.

Essential Rockabilly +

It can be tough to articulate what exactly separates Rockabilly from Rock & Roll and I suppose ultimately they are the same thing. I guess the best way to describe how I define Rockabilly is as the primordial version of Rock & Roll or the not so missing link between country and Rock & Roll. The initial attempts of white musicians to add the rhythms and energy of Rhythm and Blues to their music.

What follows is our essential list of Rockabilly songs plus a number of modern takes on the form.

Essential Blues/R&B +

The Blues and R&B along with Country music are the foundation of popular music in the rock and roll era. We've tried to assemble a quintesential selection of classic tracks and versions that include the primal acoustic, country blues of Robert Johnson to many of the post-war Texas and Chicago classics that jump started a musical revolution that was felt around the world. Finally, we've included some of the best modern interpretations of the form.

Essential Country +

Country Music initially derived from Irish immigrants that made up the majority in the southeastern states of America. It came over time to also include such far flung influences as African (Banjo), African-American (Blues and Swing), Mexican and Hawaiian music. Country music then also proved to have an enormous influence on Rockabilly and Rock and Roll music. In the following playlist we've tried to provide a selection of some of the essential examples of the various styles of country music from hillbilly to honky tonk to ballads, spirituals, the bakersfield sound and finally beyond to more modern examples of Rock and Roll influenced by Country.