Category Archives: Popular Music

Paul Weller or Paul Mason, today’s hero?

Just how disappointing it is to realise that your childhood hero has capitulated under the weight of capitalism? Very. Quibbling over royalties w/r/t to The Jam, cashing in on advertisements of late, and generally kicking back and enjoying the good life, venerated by all manner of younger artist, just seems crass.

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Just who is the 5 O’Clock hero? Well, it’s not Weller… I’d hang my hat on it being Mason, a working class man who sticks to the very principles of the working classes.

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Falsity, Never a Good Thing

Just finished watching, quite by accident, a rerun of Top of the Pops 1985, and if anyone ever says, “ooh, they should bring that back,” tell them to f*** off. Watching people mime to the words they’ve written is just sickening and indicative of the stupidity of the human race, particularly in post-industrial nations, where we’ll watch s*** like that, and other, more contemporary rubbish whilst ignoring the disparity that exists in the world.

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Popular culture wants you to be stupid. Try not to live up to expectations…


Cassettes & @PeterDoherty – How Very 1970s

Following on from the post, “If Technology is All That, What’s Going On With the #Vinyl Revival?,” there follows the news that new music is being put down on cassette format. Now, you’d have thought that cassette was also deader than dead, as was previously thought of our old friend vinyl, yet here we are with none other than Peter Doherty producing a cassette version of his new solo album, Hamburg Demonstrations.

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If this trend carries on, where do we end up, when at one end of the spectrum we have the Musk/TESLA guy banging on about the colonisation of Mars (and let’s hope to goodness that he’s using colonialism in a progressive way), and at the other we have cassette players coming back into vogue?


If #Technology is All That, What’s Going On With the #Vinyl Revival?

A simple question.

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MP3. iPods. Streaming. Spotify. Apple Music.

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Yet with all this, and more, vinyl seems to be growing in popularity amongst young and old alike.

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So, how is it that a way of listening to music that pretty much died out entirely – we’re not talking eBooks versus physical books here, where books never really went away – is now flooding back into shops? And why is it so expensive, compared to all the music that haunts its way, as if by magic, through the ethereal cloud that envelops us?


Pictures of Morrissey – The Story of Indie

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.

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  1. 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.

  2. 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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When Music Spoke (to something)…

Listening to the radio throwing out songs from the early 80s, 1984 to be exact, it becomes apparent that much of what was in the charts back then had some sort of political motive about it. For instance, in a small snap shot, where three songs from the Top 40 played back to back, there were themes of Thatcher’s stranglehold on Britain, nuclear annihilation, and the influx of cheap, yet powerful narcotics, respectively.

After switching on the radio the first song to be played is UB40’s “If it Happens Again I’m Leaving,” which, according to the radio show host, is a tirade against the damaging effects of Margaret Thatcher’s government, and is considered to be a protest song displaying the group’s discontent at the Conservative party victory at the general election of 1983.

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The next song out is Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Two Tribes,” a song that mocked the ideology of nation-state foreign policy that relies heavily on the destructive capabilities of nuclear weapons. Released at a time when the threat of a nuclear war was most real, with leaflets being shoved through households’ letterboxes detailing the actions one should take in the event of such apocalypse (hide beneath a mattress, largely), the band appeared to have tapped into things most visceral.

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And the song following Frankie’s is Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel’s “White Lines.” Listening to the song as a kid required said kid to ask of an adult – “What are White Lines then?” Most adults seemed reluctant to answer the question, and so one thus had to rely on older kids for an answer. Having got said answer, said kid then speculates at what such stuff looks and tastes like (perhaps said adults might have been better providing an answer in the first place).

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The resulting feeling, then, is a lament that conditions seem no longer to exist where such awareness-raising is able to take place on a mass scale. For sure, there are bands/artists that produce protest music, but they appear to have more of a cult-like status. Bands with massively popular reach, where messages can spread across all manner of borders, would appear to be rather bland in terms of political leanings. And in an age where issues relating to the three themes above seem very much to be relevant and most pressing, perhaps it is a good idea to listen to music from days gone by, for one never knows in what ways one’s sensibilities might be aroused.


@PeteDoherty and @libertines Opportunity and Anticipation

With the return of The Libertines…

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and so ends what was meant to be a joyous moment of speculation before heading off to an event that promised to be the stuff of legend, judging by the responses from those lucky beggars in Glasgow and Bristol who actually got to see the band play – the first few words being written prior to finding out that tonight’s gig in Manchester had been postponed. However, positivity rules, and so the unfortunate situation is being looked upon as a blessing – even more time to savour the build up to the concert that will eventually take place, all things being well.

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It’s perhaps an interesting time, in terms of popular music, what with Kanye attempting to run for president, and U2 sticking music on devices without permission, and Daltrey and Townsend pretending that a generation exists that will allow them to die before they ‘get’ old, and where Las Vegas hosts artists for months at a time, and where the notion of ‘owning’ music that does not have a physical form is commonplace but at a time when vinyl is making a comeback at extortionate prices… Music, in general, just seems so dull, so corporate. So perhaps it is a refreshing change to have a touch of unpredictability back in our lives once more. Frustrating, yes. A tad annoying, certainly. But who can maintain such emotions when thinking of the cheeky rascal known as Peter Doherty?

He’s a poet, without a doubt. He’s a good, perhaps great, musician. He oozes charm. He takes risks. And occasionally he lets folk down, but it’s not the end of the world. It’s only rock ‘n roll. The best moment of live music I’ve ever experienced is a Babyshambles concert in Middlesbrough somewhere in the 2000s. Saw them in other towns, but that one concert eclipsed all others. Saw him doing solo stuff too. Now it’s time to hunker down and wait for the return of The Libertines to Manchester. Tick… Tock…


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