It is worth pausing over a significant element of The Story of Indie, Part Three – Into the Mainstream. The programme begins by looking at the influence of “Acid House” on the indie music scene, and a most interesting aspect of this is the connection that exists between The Happy Mondays and Primal Scream. Alan McGee (Creation Records) and Shaun Ryder (The Happy Mondays) each discuss the effect that the scene had on how music evolved around the early 90s, and both, interviewed separately, seem to recall certain events in a manner most consistent with what we would call the “truth.”
Anyone with knowledge of Primal Scream’s music prior to the release of Screamadelica will recognise that the band’s third album was a radical departure from what went before, and Ryder and McGee claim that Ecstasy is at the root of the band’s shift in style. The story goes that McGee and Bobby Gillespie (Primal Scream) went to The Hacienda to watch The Happy Mondays play, and whilst there, under the advice of Ryder, took Ecstasy for the first time. The result of Gillespie’s exposure to E was to be life-changing, for, according to McGee, Gillespie’s musical focus shifted so significantly that within a month of taking the drug the band were heading in a completely new direction, artistically, fusing acid house principles with their rock heritage – and Screamadelica was born.
This very small aspect of The Story of Indie‘s third and final episode is notable in that it offers the story of Primal Scream’s creative evolution without the usual negative propaganda that accompanies stories involving the use of drugs. There are complications that arise from the use of illegal drugs, and there are documented cases of death, violence, and exploitation arising from the use of illegal drugs that no one would wish to deny, but the positive aspects of illegal drugs are rarely discussed and/or promoted in the way that they are here by Ryder and McGee. Screamadelica would not have been made possible were it not for Ecstasy, and isn’t the world a better place for it?
Mark Radcliffe’s (@themarkrad) The Story of Indie, still only two-thirds of the way through, is surely significant for a whole number of reasons, but with attention spans towards blog posts being slight it seems prudent to name just two.
- The section during the second programme, “Alternative 80s,”looking at The Smiths’ importance to the indie scene is particularly notable when one considers Morrissey’s look/style/image. Compared to members of The Jesus and Marychain, Joy Division, Cocteau Twins, and others, Morrissey’s style transcends the decades that have passed, and looks as relevant now as it did whilst he walked through the shit-ridden streets of his home town. From top to toe, Morrissey oozed effortless grace – still does, some might say. This is where the importance of talismanic individuals comes in.
What the Morrissey segment did was to emphasise the overall importance of iconic performers, that it’s not just about the music, it’s the attitude that spreads to those disaffected kids growing up in shit-laden streets, just like Morrissey, and for whom the prospect of having someone express sentiments in terms that affect them readily is immeasurable, palpable, and necessary when the established order is all about being “content” with your lot – even if that “lot” is surviving drudgery on a daily basis.
- The second thing to mention is the unassuming manner which Mark Radcliffe adopts, and the way he opts to keep the narrative, and not himself, as the primary focus. Radcliffe’s constant reference to the person who played a major part in promoting indie music, John Peel, reveals his humility and perhaps because of this he is blind to the fact that he will likely be remembered as the person following most closely in Peel’s footsteps. The Story of Indie seems to be as important a project as Radcliffe’s The White Room, a music show that only lasted a short while but that had a lasting effect on popular culture. Bravo Monsieur Radcliffe, bravo.
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