I'm working on my next big project in the political Story Now series, which doesn't quite have a name yet: "Dissent," "Direct Action," "Fuck the Establishment," something like that. Anyway, part of the process has turned out to be a deep dive into the music, past the bands I know all about and even past the ones I've heard about a lot but never really listened to. And what I'm finding is pretty cool, especially since it ties right into my own non-verbal, childhood, generalized memories.
First, all the carefully-parsed genres of rock and roll are historically totally bullshit. 1967-1974, and especially 1969-1970, are such a stew of experimentation that it's hard to imagine, as bands appeared, cut an album, disbanded, reformed with different people, cut an album under the same or different name, et cetera, so that just about everyone played with everyone else or listened to everyone else, all the time. The point is that a given album of this period, or a band's trajectory through two or three albums, is incredibly diverse: sunshine pop, baroque rock, psychedelic/acid rock, heavy metal, heavy mithril, folk rock, art/progressive rock, hard rock, so-called krautrock, motown, rhythm & blues, blues rock ... I think that musicologists are so hung up on how Huge Band X came together that they tend to think of the prior bands or songs as failures along the way or deviations from "the destiny," and the same goes for what by 1978 were utterly separate and fixed genres.
A fun detail of the above is that tons of bands very well known for "sound X" often began with a different sound and topic for the most part, then got a hit with a particular sound and switched almost entirely to that sound alone, especially in the 1972-1974 period. Deep Purple is a great example; I had no idea that their first two albums were primarily prog-rock of the artiest, trippiest kind, singin' about bards and hobbits and shit. Which leads to another point; there really was a sweet spot when the counterculture, the music biz, and the resurgence of fantasy fiction (e.g. the New Left Tolkien craze and the reissue of Howard and Leiber in the Lancer paperbacks) all came together - pure candy for us gamers, I think, and again, tied right into my direct experience with underground comix and fantasy/SF throughout the 70s.
Another important detail is that heavy metal found its sound while pop music was still socially activist, so that antiwar and protest were still the topics even as sounds later associated with AC/DC and KISS (to pick one good and one bad example, musically; the point is that neither was/is especially political) were solidly established. I mean sure, I knew Mountain's "Mississippi Queen," who doesn't, but not that the other songs on that album spanned a much wider range, and were much more socially activist or hippified, with lyrics like "open your heart and let the sunshine in." Or that Black Sabbath's "Warpigs" was typical of that time, not a weird exception like it seems in band-centric retrospect. (I've learned that at one very particular moment in the early 1970s, government pressure led record companies to stop advertising in the underground press, effectively wiping out or fatally reducing the distribution of over twenty or thirty political magazines and newspapers. This also strikes me as a very big deal in terms of what happened to the social content of rock and roll after that point.)
Second, I'm astonished by just how much of this stuff there is - my God, how many albums, how many songs, flooding into the culture daily. I've listened to about five albums a day for the past month and barely scratched the surface.
Here's a sample if you want to know what my head is doing all the time lately, organized as "band (album)," with "ep" meaning the album is titled with the band's name: Gun (ep), Joseph (Stoned Age Man), The Axeman Cometh (Wicked Lady), Captain Beyond (ep), Morgen (ep), Thorinshield (ep), Leaf Hound (Growers of Mushroom), The Savage Resurrection (ep), The Human Instinct (Stoned Guitar). This set leansa bit more toward the metal side of the spectrum; all of them are available on Youtube.
Or another: Uriah Heep (Demons and Wizards), Camel (Moonmadness), Gandalf (ep), Rare Bird (As Your Mind Flies By), Sandrose (ep), Nektar (A Tab in the Ocean), Message (From Books and Dreams), Dust (ep), Moondog (ep). This set is a little trippier, but you'll definitely see the broad overlap. Which is perhaps marked by the first album in each set featuring a Roger Dean cover.
Run searches at Youtube and listen to some of these, OK? I need some other heads in this space so I can talk about the game in design.
P.S. My apologies to the music-nuts who knew all this already. I don't pretend expertise in any of this, and I'm really trying for experience rather than analysis at this point.