Riff Free or Die. 


Rock music arrives in pictures: it’s on TV, in the movies, newspaper and magazines. You see it as much as you hear it, and so it ever was and will always be. Only jazz comes close in terms of having a documented visual history, and it doesn’t really come close. And rock’s impact — massive, needless to say — is inextricable from its delivery as a visual form. It’s precisely because it has such a powerful look-see dimension that it has such a transformative cultural effect: it alters the way we see things, and it seems forever to mark the history of the twentieth century into two epochs: before and after Elvis. I grew up obsessed with music — and TV’s The Monkees in particular — and for me seeing was every bit as vital, pleasurable and expected as hearing. You expected to see your favourite artists on TV and in the movies, and you expected to see hipness measured by how closely somebody hued to rock as style and lifestyle. rifffreeordie.com is a website devoted to rock — which I use as an umbrella term to cover just about all forms of post rock & roll popular music — in its visual manifestations. From early TV to verité, and from after school dance shows to music video, from live DVDs to YouTube: what we’re attempting here is the impossible but irresistible. It’s an encyclopedic critical reference to pop music as a visual phenomenon, which is how pop popped in the first place.