Posts from February 2000
Richard Ashcroft used to be in a band called Verve, as you possibly know. The thing about Verve was that the word – with its connotations of lightness, cheek and speed – was the last thing you’d have flashed on when you heard the band’s music. At its best this music was a gorgeous igneous flow of guitar or string, and and at its recent worst it was weighty, soporific, stadium-cosmic rock, less sturm und drang than strum and drab.
“Love will get you like a case of anthrax”: the Gang of Four’s cheery advice sets the tone for twenty-plus years of on-off punky alternative disdain for love songs. Andy Gill and company took a hardline leftist tone – songs about love were a bait-and-switch tactic, designed to give a mass audience the illusion of communication and involvement, when in fact traditional methods of romance reduced participants to spectators in their own lives. But not every sneerer needs to be so articulate – usually it’s enough to dismiss the love song in its straightforward form (a song that’s an expression of love from one person to another) as sentimental, or sugary and false, or just plain boring.
I was a pop widow!
When Freaky Trigger‘s editor commissioned this piece, he was no doubt thinking of (or guiltily hoping for) some kind of gender-neutral meditation on the mystery, beauty and sadness of record-rack romance. And believe me, I tried, but no luck. Maybe it’s sheer coincidence that all the contributors to this article were women who’ve been on the receiving end of male vinylmania, maybe it’s not. Further research needed. In the meantime, read on, lads, and blush.
For the past two days I have at points been totally stopped in my tracks with grief. I literally have been on the verge of losing it entirely more than once now. I just can’t accept that this has happened.
Almost a decade ago, Jim Henson and Dr. Seuss died as well, and now it feels like the third member of a uniquely holy trinity is gone, a certain American sensibility that spoke to generations all at once, that knew how humor and pathos could not only go hand in hand but could express itself without words or with only the simplest of phrases. I can’t begin to capture what it all means for me now, though, now that Charles Schulz is gone.
England is DIFFERENT (or SPECIAL if you want to be polite) to everywhere else for many reasons, but one is because our music “industry” (it’s not an industry – making baked beans is an industry, and nobody does THAT in their spare time, writes fanzines about it or has them poured over themselves at weddings. Usually) is SO virulently centralised. Bands in, for instance, France, do not all dream of moving to Paris the SECOND their first tape demo is posted to Le Fanzine De Pop!, for example, but here it sometimes seems that London Is Everything – the major labels are all there, and the “professional” “music” “press” is too, with its “journalists” unwilling to venture past the M25 when new bands can be discovered simply by asking their idiot friends what group they’re in THIS Friday.
ANYWAY, the GOOD thing about this is that we get to have the LOCAL BAND, “local” here meaning “not from London” – bands from Scotland or Wales are, of course, labelled Scottish Bands and Welsh Bands (in that order). That’s not to say Local Bands are the same throughout England – for instance, Derby Bands will want to ROCK, Leicester bands will never have anything resembling a singer, Bristol bands will think they are much cooler than anyone else, and Birmingham bands will own a Stereolab record – but the Basic FACTS about them will remain the same. And here they are for you to learn and enjoy.