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Metal Life review: Rock N Roll Inventions series episode 1

A new Smithsonian Channel series is about to make some noise as some of the biggest names from the recording industry break out their drumsticks, synthesizers, and everything in between to explain the technology and innovations that have provided the soundtrack to our lives. The new six-episode series, ROCK’N’ROLL INVENTIONS premieres Monday, January 16 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

The series kicks off with ROCK’N’ROLL INVENTIONS: THIS DAMN MUSIC and looks at wind-up gramophones, 78rpm shellac records, vinyl singles, the transistor radio, the jukebox, FM radio, cassettes, pop videos and every other musical vessel that cranks up some nostalgia. It takes viewers through all the ways we used to listen to music right up to this digital age of downloading and streaming. This dramatic change has been (and continues to be) a winding journey.

Once again, the Smithsonian Channel knocks it out the park with another awesome documentary series. Rock ‘N’ Roll Inventions is less about the music and more about what makes the music possible.

This episode focuses on how music is listened to. It goes back to 1860, when sound was first record and the invention of the flat disk, all the way to modern times with streaming apps like Pandora or Spotify. It’s informative and interesting to watch the transformation of how music is enjoyed. Fun fact: the first pirate radio station was broadcasted by a ship off the coast of London. I wonder if that’s where the term comes from.

I love this show and highly suggest it to anyone who likes music and/or history.


The subsequent episodes of ROCK’N’ROLL INVENTIONS include:

ROCK’N’ROLL INVENTIONS: GOING ELECTRIC Premieres Monday, January 23 at 8 p.m. ET/PT
The electric guitar, the true iconic instrument of rock ‘n’ roll, takes center stage in this episode. With insight from top guitarists The Police’s Andy Summers, Graham Nash and The Kinks’ Dave Davies, a unique visit to the Rickenbacker factory to reveal how some of the best guitars in the world are made, and a trip to Marshall Amplification, all you need to do is turn it up to 11 – and enjoy.

ROCK’N’ROLL INVENTIONS: SULTANS OF SOUND Premieres Monday, January 30 at 8 p.m. ET/PT
Ever heard of The Beatles? Episode three will take you inside some of the most famous recording studios of the world, including the famed Abbey Road in London and the Capitol Records Building in Los Angeles. Additionally, this episode will cover the arrival of the world’s super-producers, including the maverick talents of Joe Meek, who was known for his homemade electronic devices designed to create unique sounds.

ROCK’N’ROLL INVENTIONS: RISE OF KEYBOARDS Premieres Monday, February 6 at 8 p.m. ET/PT
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the synthesizer gives the most compliments of all. Focusing on one of the biggest revolutions in rock ‘n’ roll history, iconic musicians like Moby, Rick Wakeman, Andy Summers and Martyn Ware tell their personal journeys from Mellotron to Minimoog. When the mighty breakthrough of synthesizers gave performers the chance to play any instrument on one set of keyboards, a whole new world of sounds was introduced.

ROCK’N’ROLL INVENTIONS: SPECIAL EFX Premieres Monday, February 13 at 8 p.m. ET/PT
From Kinks guitarist Dave Davies slashing his speakers to make it sound “dirty” to bedroom record producers sampling records from 50 years ago to create the hits of today, this episode documents the way rock ‘n’ roll has been enhanced by special effects. From echo chambers to delay, and reverb to the wah-wah pedal – rock ‘n’ rollers would do anything to make their music sound different.

ROCK’N’ROLL INVENTIONS: STAGE TO SPECTACLE Premieres Monday, February 20 at 8 p.m. ET/PT
Picture yourself in the spotlight as this episode takes viewers on stage to see how technology has radically altered the rock ‘n’ roll concert. What used to be a couple of guitars and a small drum kit on a local town hall stage has transformed into a packed stadium filled with armies of dancers, laser shows, video screens, and a bewildering array of costume changes meant to entertain the masses. Keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman tells viewers how he created an ice rink just to perform one of his shows.
http://www.smithsonianchannel.com/shows/rock-n-roll-inventions/1004509

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