Hidden Landscapes

21
Jun 18

the eight-and-a-half pillars of true punk

Hidden Landscapes9 comments • 642 views

(disclaimer: some of them are false)
[This post originally went up at my PATREON: subscribers get to read posts and hear podcasts early — and help offset costs and time and help me do more of this kind of thing]

A fun thing about the podcast is the way Hazel’s questions rattle away inside my most ancient, unexamined opinions — things I think that I no longer quite remember starting to think. When I pop-quizzed her on the groups that played in the 100 Club Festival, 20-21 September 1976, I wasn’t surprised she’d heard of almost all of them: it was a tiny two-day event more than a decade before she was born, but (a) she is knowledgable and full of curiosity and obsessed with music past and present, and (b) it was the founding event for “rock at the end of rock”, when you were required, as an index of your commitment to the necessity of the splintering, to take implacable sides within your own splinter. To this Shropshire-based punk noob — I didn’t move to London for another six years, I hadn’t yet started reading the music weeklies — the festival mapped what punk had been in its first (some say only) year, and what it was going to have to become as it expanded and divided and dissolved. Above all, it’s the moment of division, forming lines that can just about still be traced, if you look carefully in the right places.

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31
May 18

no longer a debate? lennon’s REVOLUTIONS 50 years on

FT + Hidden Landscapes8 comments • 533 views

[This post originally went up at my PATREON: subscribers get to read posts and hear podcasts early — and help offset costs and time and help me do more of this kind of thing]

“The blues are beautiful because it’s simpler and because it’s real. It’s not perverted or thought about: It’s not a concept, it is a chair; not a design for a chair but the first chair. The chair is for sitting on, not for looking at or being appreciated. You sit on that music.” (John Lennon to Jann Wenner, 21 January 1971)

lennon fistWhen Jack Hutton quit Melody Maker in 1970, to set up what became Sounds, he told Richard Williams, who stayed behind, that it would be a “left-wing Melody Maker”. Hutton’s no longer with us, so I suppose if I get the chance I’ll have to ask Williams one day what exactly was meant by “left-wing” here. My guess — based on what Sounds actually turned out like — is that Hutton meant the new paper would be centred on rock. Even though both papers covered rock and pop and everything else, MM’s moral centre was arguably still jazz at that point. Even though the jazz fan-base always had a left-wing in the UK, with old-school communists solid among its supporters and chroniclers, it was a music (or so many seemed to feel) whose time was past. Rock was new and rock was now, the very voice of youth — but beyond this, rock had had, for a while by then, a tangled relationship with politics, radical left politics in particular.

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21
May 18

the invisible dandy: scribbled farewell notes on TOM WOLFE

Hidden Landscapes2 comments • 215 views

[This post originally went up at my PATREON: subscribers get to read posts and hear podcasts early — and help offset costs and time and help me do more of this kind of thing]

kandy koloredYou only have to read the titles and the trend-naming — ‘Tiny Mummies’, the Tycoon of Teen, Radical Chic, From Bauhaus to Our House, the Me Generation, The Right Stuff — to see, instantly, that there was something here. Like some motormouth manager promoting the new pop group he was making famous and secretly ripping off, he had the liveliest huckster’s imagination. Here was a energy that made thing happen: Wolfe watched and listened and took notes and got inside heads — some heads — and when he got back to the page, delivered an intensely vivid cartoon sketch of a scene, sound effects in place among capitals, italics, dots, dashes and exclamation marks, the main narration often broadcast as if from behind the eyes of its participants, an inner-monologue ventriloquism that enabled the writer subtly to imply unreliability or even foolishness in a scenester.

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14
May 18

other jacksons in your house

Hidden Landscapes18 comments • 1,973 views

… or how when we made Morrissey we made him bad

[This post originally went up at my PATREON: subscribers get to read posts and hear podcasts early — and help offset costs and time and help me do more of this kind of thing]

panic | hang the DJA bitter office quarrel — the so-called the ‘HipHop Wars’ — had been making life at the NME miserable from some time. At issue was the current and future direction of the paper — how to give the readers what they wanted to read, week on week, while staying abreast of music’s future trends — so when the Smiths released ‘Panic’ in late 1986, it crystallised everything. “Hang the DJ!” sang Morrissey: “Burn down the disco!” Those who cared for black music at all — future and past — were appalled: to them it was very clear who this talk of burning and hanging was aimed at. His supporters scrambled for a less ugly reading: not that kind of DJ! Not those discos! Much was made of Steve Wright following a news report about Chernobyl with a Wham! song. Concluding statement for the defence: He’s not anti black musicians, he’s anti bland music — and that goes for us all, surely?

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8
May 18

HIDDEN LANDSCAPES: THE PODCAST

Hidden Landscapes2 comments • 436 views

Eight episodes are now up: Hazel Southwell and Mark Sinker talking through the story of the UK music press from two very different angles (bcz I am old and she is not), to help start the conversation around my upcoming book.

pod 1: the pilot!
pod 2: uh merry memories of the nme!
pod 3: the ins and outs of PUNK ROCK
pod 4: underground overground what’s in between
pod 5: how do you cope when it’s not even pop
pod 6: the book!! and how the rock press ended up as the last guardian of the 60s underground
pod 7: writing about pop and making a living (hint: you can’t and never could)
pod 8: how the 60s teen-beat mags tackled LSD!

If you’re enjoying it, please subscribe to our PATREON, to help cover soundcloud costs and admin, and help us put aside the (roughly) fortnightly time to make it as good as we’d like it! Also please point people in our direction if you think they’d enjoy it. I’m also blogging there every week: essays now up on MORRISSEY and why his bigotry wasn’t seen sooner and challenged harder in the 80s, on the late TOM WOLFE, and how the music press ran with his ideas, how JOHN LENNON AND YOKO ONO‘s interaction with the radical political press of the early 70s fed into the end of rock and the start of post-punk, a fond memoir of the late PENNY REEL, and so on and so forth…

Plus here is the book (cover courtesy Savage Pencil of course)!