One of the earliest groups I really liked was Chicago. My interest in them began with the release of “Chicago Transit Authority” and continued through the next nine albums. Blood, Sweat & Tears was another group I liked back in the day. They both captivated my attention and I suspect their horn based style was the bridge from my very early interest in heavy metal to a more jazz oriented sound – something that continues to this day.
This, of course, does not mean I didn’t continue to buy multiple releases from rock and roll artists. Bruce Springsteen was another early favorite. And obviously, as most music lovers my age, I have the fan favorites – The Who, Zeppelin, Deep Purple and so on and so on…
Oddly enough, there came a point in all of these artists careers when something changed. I have albums one through ten of Chicago and nothing beyond that. I have, what, two or three early BS&T albums and no more. As far as “The Boss” is concerned, I really stopped listening to his music at “Born To Run” and that was released in August 1975. What happened? Have my musical tastes changed that much or was it something else? Why did I all of the sudden (insert finger snap) stop my allegiance to groups I had immensely enjoyed for so many of my younger years?
With Springsteen it could have been his change of stance from songs about New Jersey, fast cars and girls to a more somber, political tone. As to the rest, I’m not exactly sure. What actually did change, me or the music?
It goes without saying that artists eventually feel the need to expand. Being the creative people they are, the repetition of similarly styled releases eventually becomes mundane. Maybe that explains the departure from something that, in my view, seemingly worked so well. One of my current favorite jazz groups, The Rippingtons, a band I have seen live several times, has, stylistically, a smooth jazz sound.
However, in my opinion, their last really unbelievable release, one emblematic of that “Rips” sound, was “Welcome To The St. James Club” and that came out in 1990. They have released sixteen albums since “St James” and while I own and like them all, none sound as good to me, none have that “Rippingtons Sound” the way that “St. James Club” has.
Russ Freeman wanted to showcase his considerable guitar skills and sax phenom Jeff Kashiwa basically left for a successful solo career. So maybe that explains the change in their overall sound. Still, I keep waiting for a release by the “Rips” that harkens back to “St James” and “Tourist In Paradise.” Of course, I keep waiting on Springsteen to release another work like “Born To Run” but given his political activism and the death of Clarence Clemmons, I’m not sure I will ever get my wish.
Needless to say, it is patently obvious my tastes in music have changed. In 1990 when “St. James” was released, I would have more likely been caught dead than listen to either Country or Classical. Now I like them both and listen to them both on a regular basis. I’ve gotten older and my likes and dislikes have changed. Changed, how, exactly? Changed to allow a different style of the genres I knew and loved as a young man, or changed to include genres I previously despised? I’m not exactly sure I have an answer but I want to say maybe both?
We are all, to some extent, resistant to change and I am certainly no exception. On the one hand I sometimes wish the artists that represent my core favorites would leave well enough alone. Keep making the same style music, year after year, release after release. If I like what a band was doing twenty years ago, chances are better than good I’ll continue to enjoy that same style today. On the other hand, maybe something new and interesting, something innovative, something that pushes boundaries, something in uncharted waters is good for my ever lovin soul. Maybe it will help me recognize the same song simply packaged in a different bottle is still the same ole brew. Maybe I need to switch to a different flavor to know other flavors are actually available. Then again, maybe I’m just set in my ways.
Music is an everchanging thing. Today we have rap and hip hop, something that didn’t even exist when I was a teenager. And whether or not I like either one does not for a second mean that there are many music lovers today that do. We now have so many varying genres of music that there absolutely exists something for everyone. Who knows, maybe these young kids of today will thirty years from now be clamoring for the “good ole days”– those days when the music with which they grew up has lost fashion and been replaced by something new and improved. Maybe I’ll even learn to like hip hop. Well, that’s probably asking for too much. I mean shoot, I still occasionally listen to disco. Oh, the horrors!