A cool, often cold, sound created in the 1970s (thanks Kraftwerk, Bowie, Devo, Moroder, Vangelis, Jarre, and Roxy), synth pop ended up defining the ‘80s with a mix of percolating bloops, sublimated emotions and robotic dance moves. A few US groups got into the act but it was a UK-dominated field and ended up working its way into various genres, from new wave, neuro and post-punk to electro-funk, rap and today’s electro-pop. In our MU Synth Pop playlist, we collect the genre’s defining songs by artists like New Order, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys and more.
Listen to the MU Synth Pop Playlist.
Bob Marley’s musical life started in the soulful grooves of ska and rocksteady, finding his voice in early cuts with The Wailers. That voice developed into something more commanding and genre-defining as he found the right mixture of political outrage and soul-searching spirituality. He became the de facto reggae ambassador, blessed with an amazing backing band, timeless songs and a spellbinding live presence. Decades after his death, his legend as the ultimate dreadlocked rasta has only grown.
Listen to the Bob Marley MU Icon Playlist.
Tagged: Bob Marley
Pop’s reigning minimalist, Sade has continued to refine her style from the jazzy soul of her 1980s UK sophisti-pop beginnings to her global domination as a roots-of-down tempo torch singer. Everything about Sade’s music is lean, stripped-down and precise while her cool exterior expertly contradicts the often gritty subject matter of her songs, which deal with ordinary people struggling to overcome heartbreak, racism and poverty.
Listen Now / Sade: MU Icon
The immortal Louis Armstrong was not only jazz’s breakthrough virtuoso soloist, he also helped establish the sound, style and mood of American popular music — influencing everything from the development of swing and R&B to country. Featured in our MU Icon playlist are his biggest hits, most famous “birth of jazz” tunes and a number of his stellar duets and collaborations with such friends as Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Oscar Peterson.
Listen Now: Louis Armstrong – MU Icon
Tagged: Louis Armstrong
Tommy Ramone, who passed away last week, was more than the Ramones’ revolutionary drummer who cracked the code for a new style of punk rock percussion. He helped create the band’s audio and visual style, was their first manager and the producer who captured their sound in the studio. A trained audio engineer, the clean-living Tommy decided to distance himself from the band after Road To Ruin, returning to produce Too Tough To Die, along with critically acclaimed albums by the Replacements and Redd Kross. The Uncle Monk cut features Tommy’s guitar and voice.
Listen to the Tommy Ramone playlist on Music Unlimited.
Earlier this week the members of Pink Floyd confirmed that they would soon release their first new album in two decades, the long-awaited follow-up to 1994’s The Division Bell. Frontman David Gilmour’s wife, Polly Samson, casually revealed the news that The Endless River will come out in October, via Twitter. Which gives you just about enough time to get up to speed on the British psychedelic rock band’s vast back catalog, which includes landmark releases as The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall all remastered and readily available on Music Unlimited.
Listen to the Pink Floyd artist channel on Music Unlimited.
Tagged: Pink Floyd
If you’re looking to grasp the depth and length of soul man Bobby Womack’s career – consider this: he was signed by Sam Cooke and his last album was produced by Damon Albarn. After leaving his early gospel roots for the heathen world, he found hits with the Valentinos, earning the early love of The Rolling Stones, who covered “It’s All Over Now.” He grew into one of the most expressive, passionate singers of the ‘70s, filling tunes like “Across 110th Street” and “That’s the Way I Feel About You” with his straight-to-the-heart cool. His snarling vocals of “I’m a Midnight Mover” cannot be topped while his mellow folk-soul take on “California Dreamin’” might be the definitive version. His most recent album, accurately titled The Bravest Man in the Universe was a late career highlight.
Listen to the Bobby Womack: Remembering The Soul Legend playlist on Music Unlimited.
Tagged: Bobby Womack
In celebration of Paul McCartney’s 72nd birthday we’ve been listening to his first decade of solo work.
Macca, as he’s affectionately called in the UK, has continued the creative resurgence he’s been riding since at least 1997’s Flaming Pie. Paul still sounds more like a hungry indie pop wunderkind than a fabulously wealthy cultural icon. It’s hard to believe he’s well into his seventh decade.
Paul has always been a sonic innovator and that sense of playfulness extends into these works, taking excursions into more wounded autobiography on cuts such as “Maybe, I’m Amazed,” “Every Night” and even the dazzling “Band On The Run.” He crafted a head spinning array of classic rock hits with Wings in the 1970s until he abruptly disbanded his makeshift band and greeted the 1980’s with pre electro-chill oddity McCartney II.
That mix of experimentation and playfulness has never left McCartney, even on later day masterworks like Memory Almost Full. At 72, he wows crowds with 3 hour marathon concert performances and then slinks away and records ambient techno under The Fireman moniker.
Listen to Paul McCartney’s early solo work on Music Unlimited.
Tagged: Paul McCartney
Bob Dylan celebrated his 73rd birthday earlier this week and it feels like he’s led nearly as many lives. He began as a Woody Guthrie acolyte, imitating the dust-bowl balladeer as faithfully as a baby boomer from Hibbing, Minnesota, could. It wasn’t long before he found his own voice, spearheading the early-1960s folk revival as well as the singer-songwriter movement, and introducing poetry into pop music. Through countless changes in sound, image, and even religion, he retained his unique artistic vision even when his popularity occasionally waned. By the 21st century, he was enjoying an upsurge of critical and popular interest based on a series of powerful late-career albums that crystallized his aesthetics and unique world view.
Listen to Bob Dylan through the years on Music Unlimited.
Tagged: Bob Dylan
This week, we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of one of the definitive albums — no, make that the definitive album — of the Britpop era, Oasis‘ Definitely Maybe.
It wasn’t the feuding Manchester group’s most popular release — that would be the follow-up (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? — but its songs and swagger set the course for one of the most fertile periods of British guitar rock. In fact, the album’s influence can still be heard today in young artists like Jake Bugg and the Arctic Monkeys.
In addition to sing-along pub classics like “Live Forever,” “Supersonic” and “Cigarettes and Alcohol,” the remastered deluxe edition of Definitely Maybe, now available on Music Unlimited, also features a bounty of loud and leery B-sides, demos and live tracks that will send you running to your closet, searching for your parka and Adidas trainers.
Listen to Definitely Maybe (Remastered) [Deluxe Edition] now on Music Unlimited.
Check out more Britpop classics from Oasis.
Tagged: arctic monkeys, jake bugg, oasis