Commies, Devils, and Mind Control: How the Christian Right Invented Satanic Backmasking

By K.E. Roberts

Rock and roll was maligned as an “unholy pleasure” almost from the get-go, just as dancing was decried as the “Heritage of Hell” centuries before. After John Lennon declared the Beatles “more popular than Jesus” in 1966, Christian fundamentalists immediately condemned all music that “aroused the lower instincts,” and the smear campaign would last for more than a quarter-century…

Caedmon Records Audiobooks, 1967 – 1984

Caedmon’s vast catalogue of abridged texts—read by acclaimed actors or by the authors themselves—was hugely eclectic, ranging from Pakistani actor Zia Mohiuddin reading selections from the Bhagavad-Gita and Colette reading passages from her Gigi and Cheri to Rainer Maria Rilke reading his poetry in the original German, Boris Karloff reading Three Little Pigs, and Eartha Kitt reading a selection of African folk tales…

“A Never-Ending Wheel”: The Heroic Quest in Dio’s ‘Holy Diver’

By Michael Grasso

Ronnie James Dio broke out in a big way in the spring of 1983 with the release of his solo debut LP, Holy Diver. Formerly the lead singer for heavy rock/metal pioneers Elf, Rainbow (Ritchie Blackmore’s followup project to Deep Purple), and Black Sabbath (joining the band after it parted ways with Ozzy Osbourne), Dio brought to his new eponymous project over a decade of experience as a foundational heavy metal vocalist and lyricist…

New England Whalers Victory March (‘Brass Bonanza’), 1976

In 1972, the World Hockey Association (WHA) was established to compete with the National Hockey League (NHL). The NHL, much like Major League Baseball in the early ’70s, was dealing with its labor market’s rebellion against the unjust reserve clause. The WHA offered players better salaries and an opportunity to sign contracts as free agents…

K-tel Music Compilation Commercials, 1970 – 1984

Television advertising in the 1950s took a fairly staid and classic form: the advertising agency would spend 30 to 60 seconds presenting a domestic problem that its client’s product promised to alleviate. But the dawn of the 1960s introduced a more aggressive, hard-sell type of direct advertising, where the product’s manufacturer would sell a product directly to the TV viewer through product demonstrations…

‘For You’ by Tatsuro Yamashita, 1982

Tatsuro Yamashita is one of the most famous musicians from the City Pop genre, an eclectic blend of rock, funk, jazz, and disco that was omnipresent in 1980s Japan. To me, listening to City Pop evokes feelings of speeding down a Tokyo freeway on a sunny day or dancing in a neon lit disco somewhere in Shibuya…

The Bruton Music Library, 1977 – 1989

Alongside the industrial manufacture of popular music which characterised the second half of the twentieth century, another type of music aimed at a smaller group of consumers and offering another perspective on the humours of its day was also being recorded: production music, also called library music, was instrumental music recorded to evoke a certain mood or tone and licensed for use in other media (for example as background, incidental or theme music)…

Earth, Wind & Fire Panasonic Boombox Commercials, 1980 – 1983

At the dawn of the 1980s, soul-funk-disco orchestra Earth, Wind & Fire (EWF) were at the top of their game. They’d just released their LP I Am (1979), which featured hit single “After The Love Has Gone,” and double-album Faces (1980). Both albums came close to hitting number 1 on the US pop charts and solidified the band’s already-solid reputation as reliable hit-makers…