Your thoughts on David Essex's Rock On

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by dbz, Nov 26, 2012.

  1. vjf1968

    vjf1968 Well-Known Member

    Philadelphia, Pa
    Well tap tempo wasn't an option with tape delay.
    Drifter likes this.
  2. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    You could varispeed it until it was dead-on with the beat. But I think this was done deliberately to make it weird, at least in this song.
  3. Jackson

    Jackson Forum Resident

    MA, USA
    Love it, the great ''and ageless'' Garland Jeffreys does a nice cover of this tune on his album from last year ''The King Of In Between''.
  4. dbz

    dbz Bolinhead. Thread Starter

    Live At Leeds (UK)
    I managed to find a little info from the people involved in the recording:-

    Jeff Wayne: 
'Rock On' was demonstrated to me in the studio after finishing the jingle session. And the way David demoed it for me was he went into the studio, our engineer put on a microphone and David picked up a trashcan and started banging out this little rhythm, so there was no instruments. Because there was no instruments, the engineer put on this sort of repeat echo, and it gave an atmosphere to it, and that's what I then went away to work on. I went away and thought about the song and the attractiveness was the hollows, the absences and the mood in the lyrics as well. And so I had this idea that there would nothing on it that played a chord, so that's why there's no keyboards, there's no guitars, there's nothing that plays a chord

    Herbie Flowers: 
I was just one of a handful of bass guitar-players that was booked to do recording sessions, and some of us used to add bits on. Like with the 'Rock On' session. Jeff Wayne had an arrangement in his mind, what he wanted, and my job was just to read the part.

    Jeff Wayne: 
I can recall the three musicians on the backing track for 'Rock On' all looking around in a mostly empty Advision Studios, Studio 1, wanting to know when the rest of the band were arriving! I explained there weren't any others for that track, and I was relying on them to understand my idea for the production. 
While the drums and percussion parts were written out, it was definitely Herbie that grasped immediately that a bass guitar playing a lead riff could fill a large part of the spatial spectrum and he took my idea and turned some basic notes of mine, into his amazing bass riff. Then to top it off, he suggested playing it again an octave higher. So you get this unusual bass sound right up front - now it couldn't have been up front if the arrangement didn't allow the air and the space to be created that way.

    Herbie Flowers: 
My reward for that was instead of getting twelve pound for doing a three-hour recording session, I got twenty-four. Because there's two bits.

    Jeff Wayne: 
Herbie, by almost any measurement, has played live and in studios with the most diverse of artists, and would be acknowledged as being perhaps the most unique bass player we've ever had coming out of British music.

    Chris Spedding: 
That thing that Herbie Flowers did for 'Rock On' was amazing. There was no guitar on that - to my chagrin, because that was his biggest hit and I wasn't on it.

    Jeff Wayne: 
When David wrote 'Rock On', it was the type of song that from my point of view as an arranger and producer gave me much more adventurous ideas, a concept of sound. A ballad is a ballad, whereas 'Rock On' allowed us to be a bit more off-the-wall. It was a gamble and a bit of a fight to get it through. But both David and I felt that 'Rock On' was a career-breaking record, whereas a ballad would give him a shorter-term success, it wouldn't distinguish him.
    keyXVII, Malina, Dino and 2 others like this.
  5. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    I love the song! Very unusual and creative sound.
  6. Oliver

    Oliver Forum Resident

    Love it. That's what I love about that era. Imaginative arrangements-even on some of the hits.
  7. John Rhett Thomas

    John Rhett Thomas Forum Resident

    Macon, GA, USA
    Never liked it, not a fan.
  8. johnnyyen

    johnnyyen Forum Resident

    Great record, and I always thought it was quite original for its time. Also liked Lamplight, the follow up, which reminded me of Tom Waits!
    dbz likes this.
  9. ROLO46

    ROLO46 Forum Resident

    I loved it
    Very courageous for the time
    Well done Jeff and David
    Herbie and Danny Thompson very top bass men from Albion
    Glitter also did minimalist to similar effect,not so cool now.
    dbz likes this.
  10. tedler

    tedler Member

    I always thought this was one of the worst songs of the 70's. I still do. Lifeless, non-melodic and boring. meh.
  11. pscreed

    pscreed Somebody set up us the bomb

    Loved it then, loved it now. Classic tune, brilliant performance and visionary production.
    keyXVII, htbomb and nbakid2000 like this.
  12. pscreed

    pscreed Somebody set up us the bomb

    I concur. Smashing Pumpkins ARE brutally boring.
    dbz and ReadySteady like this.
  13. appledan

    appledan Resident Rockist

    I love it. I've actually been playing it a lot this past year. I'm trying to find more songs similar to this (musically).
  14. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    That's what made the 70s so cool. Anything went.

    The melody is in the vocal part.

    I look at it like early new wave music. Quirky, non-human, mechanical.
  15. I love the song. It's got s brilliant and unusual arrangement for the time.
  16. forthlin

    forthlin Forum Resident

    Cool track. When I programmed radio stations I was always surprised to see how strong this record tested in music research.
    Not because it isn't good, but because so many cool/different songs don't do well in research. For some reason this one hits the spot.
  17. John Carsell

    John Carsell Forum Resident

    Northwest Illinois
    I always liked it.

    Can still listen to it today just fine.
    Drifter likes this.
  18. ReadySteady

    ReadySteady Custom Title

    Such rapier-like wit... aren't you due back at the Algonquin Round Table?
    Driver 8 and pscreed like this.
  19. jon9091

    jon9091 Master Of Reality

    I always loved this track. Amazing production. Too bad the rest of the album is nowhere near the same level.
  20. mne563

    mne563 Forum Resident

    DFW, Texas
    Awesome record. Rock 'N Roll by proxy, but he pulls it off. Great sound, really stood out from the rest on radio at that time. The strings were like a soul record. I love it.
  21. apple-richard

    apple-richard Overnight Sensation

    One of the greatest songs ever. I could listen to it all day long on repeat.
  22. shepherdfan

    shepherdfan Forum Resident

    Eugene, OR
    I wrote about the impact this song had on me in my blog.
  23. spindly

    spindly Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL
    Love this song. The bass playing in harmony with itself—great. And when it came on the radio it really stuck out.

    Mega respect for Herbie Flowers, who also made this song great with his bass harmonies:

    Drifter likes this.
  24. John54

    John54 Forum Resident

    Didn't like it then, don't like it now. I can think of worse songs, but it's pretty low on my list. And despite the title, it doesn't exactly rock, either.
  25. DrAftershave

    DrAftershave A Wizard, A True Star

    Los Angeles, CA
    To me, it always sounded like a recording in the studio that had tracks soloed, as if to hear/mix certain parts. "Let me just hear this without the guitars up, etc."

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