5
Jul 13

BLUR – “Country House”

FT + Popular186 comments • 11,853 views

#725, 26th August 1995

Blur-Country-House-54546 BOXING?

A “heavyweight battle”, the NME cover-billed it. And if “Country House” vs Oasis’ “Roll With It” was a title bout, the music press were desperate to play Frank Warren.

Perhaps they had most at stake. It was, in a way, their last great fight. Many other moments define Oasis. Blur are best remembered for different songs. Britpop itself? Well, this was the high tide – probably the main reason Oasis even count – and the rivalry became an ongoing, rather tiresome, pop storyline for years after. But even then the battle is just one of a scrapbook of memories: Britpop had to be a thing already for this tussle to even matter.

The press, though – this is the climax of its 80s and 90s story, its turn away from other music to keep the indie flame burning, and how it saw its favourites gradually win over first the radio establishment, then a wider public. And look – here they are! Top of the charts, ma! Whoever wins, we won, is the NME’s message, but in that final ridiculous week the story had outgrown them. After Britpop, readers dwindled, and no new story emerged: the price of ‘we won’ turned out to be that there wasn’t a “we” anymore.

FOOTBALL?

The run-in, as I recall it. Oasis, releasing their second album, were a coronation away from being the biggest band in the country. Blur, veterans on their fourth, were returning conquerors, Parklife having defined them (and their genre) in the record-buying eye. Singles release dates at first didn’t sync, then did. Alan McGee at Creation refused to blink. The nation held its breath – or ignored all this entirely.

But just as Cup Finals and Playoffs can be disappointing, cagey affairs, so the Battle Of Britpop played out more warily than it might have. Oasis, it would become apparent, had left commercially far stronger singles than “Roll With It” on the bench – the track doesn’t even show up on their Noel-picked Greatest Hits. Blur didn’t – there are better songs on The Great Escape than this, but “Country House” is one of the few that gets in your face enough to do this job.

WRESTLING?

It’s also a honking, parping pantomime. Both bands played up to their image: if you’d written the whole thing as a TV drama and had to fake up convincing singles, you might have ended up with songs rather like “Country House” and “Roll With It”. Blur could be tough to pin down, but “Country House” gave the public more of what they’d already rewarded from the group – uptempo, brash songs with a bit of satire on top. It’s a bustling, dense song – fun-packed and glassy-eyed, with desperation never far away: that niggling two-note phrase cycling under the final choruses, for instance. It pushes catchiness into exhaustion, mirroring the breakdown of its lead character. My first thought is it’s trying too hard, then I realise that’s the point, then I think it’s trying too hard to make that the point. Then I want it to stop. Then I end up playing it again. The grotesque, much pilloried video only adds to the headaches. Modern life is, as they say, rubbish. But were Blur – was this whole stunt? – criticising it, reflecting it, or making it worse?

ADVERTISING?

In the context of The Great Escape, Country House fits nicely: the album is full of brittle people, awful lives, and melancholy just under the skin. It’s an honest taster – as is “Roll With It”: Oasis at this point met expectations, good and bad. These singles were advertising more than just their LPs, though. To the new establishment at Radio 1 – who grabbed the Britpop battle baton enthusiastically from the NME et al – they were a vindication of controller Matthew Bannister’s brutal repositioning.

Bannister inherited a station listened to by about 20 million people, but the audience skewed too old – his vision, backed up by multiple moody, black-and-white promo vids, was of a station where credible presenters would play credible music to a credible audience. It’s a vision that’s endured ever since – shifting Radio 1’s role away from mirror of pop and towards its mentor. In 1995, though, with ratings collapsed and tabloids circling, Bannister needed a win: the Britpop battle gave him one, putting the spotlight on exactly the music his ideal audience segment loved.

In a sense he was lucky, but the showdown couldn’t even have happened a few years prior. “Chart battles” – we’ll see a fair few more – were a creature of the new age of first-week sales spikes: the winner was guaranteed a number one. If this was, as some said, the first time in ages the charts had mattered, they were mattering in quite new ways.

SEALED KNOT HISTORICAL RE-ENACTMENT?

The retro angle is something of a red herring in the music, too. Blur had influences, as obvious as their rivals’ – the “Country House” lytic is Kinksy, there’s plenty of Langer and Winstanley’s 80s sound in the horns, other tracks on the album nodded to Numan and XTC – but neither they or Oasis ever really sounded like anyone but themselves. As with Oasis, the voice played a huge part: Albarn’s distinctive, stylised singing could flip from naughty choirboy to music-hall rabble rouser with ease, but whoever he played you could spot him immediately (“..inna cun-TREE” could be nobody else). Most of his styles, to be honest, set my teeth on edge: there’s an ironic, above-it-all veneer to his vocals which seemed to begin as strategy on their early records and settle into habit. If I often end up buying Albarn’s melancholy anyway, it’s because he can be a great melodist, not really because of his singing or delivery.

PLAYGROUND SCRAP? CLASS WAR?

On “Country House”, Albarn’s not really trying to be sensitive – it’s one of his occasional character songs, indulging a taste for social observation. It’s about a guy retreating to the country because he’s going through some kind of crisis and either having or faking a breakdown – but the music does a much better job of capturing this chap than the words. Take, for instance, the Balzac/Prozac bit. It was approvingly quoted, apparently evidence Blur were The Clever Ones in this schoolyard swots v jocks fight – but it feels very rhyme-first, with “Woah, it’s the century’s remedy” clunking in to hammer home how zeitgeisty Blur are being. An unfair comparison perhaps, but on “Sunny Afternoon” Ray Davies becomes his character and the music becomes his world, and so the listener gets inside it too. The geezer in “Country House” is caricature – the one stab at any kind of inner life that mocking “I am so sad, I don’t know why” refrain.

(Meanwhile, over on the other channel, Noel’s “I think I’m gonna take me away and hide / I’m thinking things that I just can’t abide” is a good summary of depressive self-hatred. Liam then sings it in the same surly monotone the rest of “Roll With It” stews in.)

So there’s no empathy in “Country House”, just observation, and bald observation at that. Just as on “Parklife” and much of “Girls And Boys”, Albarn does comic journalism, not storytelling: he’s the Peter York of pop, the songwriting equivalent of jokey pen-portraits of “social tribes” in a Sunday supplement. If the bands’ backgrounds made it easier to overlay unhelpful North v South, Working v Middle Class conflicts on Oasis v Blur, this kind of thing helped the charges linger.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC, MAN?

Both singles are rescued by their guitarists. Where on “Some Might Say”, Liam bossed the song, he’s flatter on “Roll With It” and the wall of sound has to put in serious work to stop the song becoming a complete trudge. On “Country House”, meanwhile, Graham Coxon puts down a delightful Christ-Are-Pavement-Hiring? guitar solo that’s as endearing as the rest of the track put together.

BALD MAN COMBFIGHT?

The standard anti-Britpop line – the what about Goldie argument, you might call it – hardened quickly during 1995. Why were we paying attention to this charade when there was so much more interesting things happening? How could these throwbacks represent the real, multicultural Britain? I subscribed to this thinking myself, and the “Battle” fuelled it – on paper the idea of Britain’s indie bands straining muscle and sinew to create amazing pop singles was seductive, but if these two weakling, just-about-OK records were the result, the idea was a bust.

Since then I’ve softened. For one thing both “Country House” and “Roll With It” sound a bit better than they did. But also the effects on British indie music, let alone British pop, weren’t nearly as deadening as they seemed at the time. This isn’t as good as Britpop got, but it was as big as Britpop got as a pop event. The noise died down and the charts went on their merry – and increasingly diverse – way.

POSTERITY?

So who won? Oasis won the war and conquered the country. The NME won a last chance to set the agenda. Radio 1 won time to finish its credibility revolution. Graham Coxon, as it later turned out, won a musical argument. And Blur won the Battle of Britpop. Which was just about fair, because of all the records by all the big Britpop bands, none strained so hard to sound like Britpop as “Country House”.

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Comments

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  1. 121
    Kinitawowi on 10 Jul 2013 #

    Roll With It was shit. The end.

  2. 122
    tm on 10 Jul 2013 #

    Kinitawowi, I would have agreed with you till last weekend when I heard it played at pretty low volume as background music at a party: something about the snarling belligerence of the wall of noise cut through and raised the energy in the room despite it being, as someone mentioned way upthread, a bit of a non-tune.

    I remember at the time that, although I liked it, thinking most of Britpop wasn’t really very good music, too lumpy and goofy and for the most part too slow and ploddy but perhaps this is me retrospectively crediting myself with more refined taste than I really had.

  3. 123
    Cumbrian on 10 Jul 2013 #

    Isn’t the fact that it cut through the hubbub of a party evidence that, rather than it being a good song, that the “brick wall”/”loudness war” bit of Oasis’ aesthetic is effective? I guess the question is – did it sound better than any other Oasis song that came on at the same party (given that they would similarly have been similarly produced)?

    From memory, I think Owen Morris has said he wanted Oasis to cut through on pub jukeboxes so that people would hear it, whereas they didn’t hear other tunes that didn’t use the sledgehammer of the square waveform.

  4. 124
    Tom on 10 Jul 2013 #

    I don’t think you can separate the song from the aesthetic, nor should you. The loudness war is a tragedy of the commons type situation – once everyone does this thing, it becomes ruinous – but those situations demand that the first movers DO benefit, and Oasis certainly did: their records really did sound bigger than anyone else’s, and just because we all know how the trick is done doesn’t make it a stupid trick.

  5. 125
    Cumbrian on 10 Jul 2013 #

    124: I’m still trying to wrap my head around this – I think it links, to an extent, to the current conversation about standards on the Dreamer thread. There, people are dealing with songs and aesthetics and separating the two to say, this is a good song but I prefer this version of it (I think that’s what’s going on anyway). Or are you saying that RWI in particular shouldn’t be separated from its aesthetic rather than it being a rule of thumb?

    I would agree that just because we know what they’ve done doesn’t make it a stupid trick. What makes it a stupid trick is that it compromises the objective quality of the sound that enters your ears (clipping being the most obvious example of this). I am not an audiophile and have no time to be one either, but if an amateur like me can hear the tearing at the edge of the recording, I would stick my neck out and call that pretty bad. Surely musicians want their records to sound good. That said, maybe they do sound good when listened to through a South American blizzard and that’s how we ended up with Oasis doing this.

  6. 126

    Case in point — to drag it a little away from Oasis (or possibly not): Sam Peckinpah began filming violence in slow motion because he wanted film-goers to be forced to think about and feel what was happening when someone was wounded or killed by gunfire. He thought — correctly — that quick-draw deaths in Westerns had become just so much throwaway trope, more decor than emotional or political content. And for a year or so this was startling and challenging: it really did take you deep into his explorations of types of damaged masculinity.

    Except it was also popular — because it was viscerally exciting — and soon every cheap-thrill hack was at it, and we were back at throwaway trope, with a device that had dug under it for a while turned into a device that merely affirmed it, and Peckinpah’s films likely tainted by all the copycat churn that they inspired.

    :(

  7. 127
    Tom on 10 Jul 2013 #

    McLuhan has a line about how every innovation becomes an anti-innovation (I only know this bcz I read it on an MARKETING BLOG though).

    #124 my hunch is that treating the “song” as separate when discussing a record is as useful as reading the lyrics on a page, i.e. a bit, but the act of separation can lead you down what seem to me foolish critical pathways (on the one hand, subjecting lyrics to the same kind of criticism as poetry; on the other, asking the fatal question ‘would it sound good on an acoustic guitar’). That isn’t to say people don’t have an enormous appetite for those ideas – we live in an era of Rap Genius and YouTube covers after all – but I still don’t think they’re good ideas for critics.

  8. 128
    tm on 11 Jul 2013 #

    It’s a symbiosis of “song” and record I’d say: Oasis used the same production ‘trick’ (Hardly a trick, more a crude applicaation of brute force!) countless times to far lesser effect as we’ll see in numerous dissapointing future appearances (although it will be interesting to listen again and try to judge how much of that is due to over familiarity and how much is due to Noel G’s songwriting prowess waning)

    I agree that separating “song” and record is probably a futile task for critics but an interesting excercise for artists which can lead to cover versions as glorious at The Slits’ Grapevine and as wretched as Arctic Monkeys’ Love Machine

  9. 129
    tm on 11 Jul 2013 #

    Actually Love Machine is a bad choice as I don’t think it’s really an attempt to decouple “song” (source material) from record, more a deliberatly crude attempt to replicate the original record in the vein of some of The Fall’s cover versions (but much more irritating: I am particularly poisoned against AM’s Love Machine as the guy on after me in me Edinburgh Fringe venue years ago used it as his intro song so I was subjected to it every day for a month)

  10. 130
    Cumbrian on 11 Jul 2013 #

    I always thought AM’s LM was done in the style of George Formby.

  11. 131
    Mark G on 11 Jul 2013 #

    Did Frank Sidebottom do “Love Machine” ?

  12. 132
    tm on 11 Jul 2013 #

    You could imagine Formby singing the ‘what will the neighbours say?’ line with a cheeky wink to the audience…

  13. 133
    James BC on 11 Jul 2013 #

    I always thought Fluorescent Adolescent was a bit George Formby as well. Deliberately, I mean.

  14. 134
    Patrick Mexico on 12 Jul 2013 #

    Essential to Blur’s appeal (and Britpop’s explosion) was that Damon Albarn was a rare breed for music of the time: a Southern, middle-class leftie who was also an uninhibited braggart. But a loveable braggart. Perhaps after a few years of “we only make music for ourselves, and if anyone else likes it, it’s a bonus” types like Ride and MBV, it was a loveable kick up the arse. (OK, this was very much Blur’s audience back in 1991, but the video for There’s No Other Way could be a situationist parody of the shoegaze types’ polite anti-rockism, with its crude psychedelic SFX jarring with a Middle England does “Leave it to Beaver” Sunday teatime. You get a feeling they had something a bit more exciting in mind..)

    The best part of Country House is when he yells “In the country.. in the country.. IN THE COUNTRYY–HY!!” It’s a fist-pumping attempt to ram the central hook home, like Springsteen pepping up a packed baseball stadium. And herein lies the contradiction, and the problem – Albarn has something of Nigel Farage about him – an ability to win many fans through combining enviable drive and smooth talking, but ruined for many others with slightly paranoid xenophobia.. though in this case towards the US, not the EU.

    “I’m getting rid of grunge?”… and (on the excellent Britpop Now*) [sneeringly] “Everywhere it’s Nirvana, Nirvana, Nirvana.” Well.. Nirvana were brilliant but one of those bands who would have many pretenders to their throne (did anyone ever say “Ooh, I’d love to hear some Stone Temple Pilots, they’re my favourite?”) weaker musically and ideologically, clogging up the airwaves in their wake (and still do with poor Nickelback – a band who often have to clarify their name isn’t prefixed with “Fucking.”) He also spoilt his stance by saying the plaid shirt army were both “stooped like hippies” and “listening to Black Sabbath.” Er, you do know even Black Sabbath’s name was a statement against flower-power?

    I understand why the “naff early 90s Americana” suburban Britain took to its heart – Baywatch, Saved By the Bell, Gladiators, WWF – would fill Blur with a very British rage, and make them dig out the mod/skinhead/rudeboy gear for the MLIR sleeve, but the meatheaded, rigidly gender-roled US mainstream is exactly the thing Cobain studiously avoided himself (i.e. In Bloom.) It would soon come back to haunt Blur, as the fact a mass audience were now singing THEIR pretty songs nearly drove the band apart in the next 12 months.

    * An excellent show, despite a slightly weak Common People. Particularly enjoyed Marion and Powder – I’ve always been a fan of the ramshackle, sarcastic, slightly obscure side of Britpop.. Lush’s Ladykillers (the Lush era you lot LOVE to hate!) might well be the ultimate pop song, even though it’s disturbingly close to crossing the line from “feminism” into “all men are bastards.”

  15. 135
    Fivelongdays on 12 Jul 2013 #

    Of course, the received wisdom that Britpop killed Grunge is,at best, laughably parochial. Do critics honestly think St Kurt of Smack shot himself because he heard ‘Girls & Boys and knew the game was up? That Layne Staley did nothing but take heroin because Of ‘Common People’? That Soundgarden split (probably the actual, proper, final death of Grunge) because they heard Kula Shaker and knew they could never compete?

    Do me a favour – the Britpop/Grunge rivalry is a bit like the Orient/Spurs one – only one side gives a toss.

  16. 136
    Cumbrian on 12 Jul 2013 #

    #135 Indeed. It’s mentioned in Live Forever (by Jon Savage from memory) that there is a constant push and pull between American and British influences in rock music – but only in the the UK. The USA mostly doesn’t give a toss what the UK rock scene is up to and hasn’t since, what, maybe the mid-80s?

  17. 137
    Kylie on 12 Jul 2013 #

    I agree with the comment @ #66; it’s funny how people usually say “Oasis won the war” when it comes to be Britpop rivalry, but really in the long-term Blur and by extension Damon has come better off and is more respected nowadays as he’s evolved and continued doing more interesting musical projects over the years to much critical acclaim, whereas Oasis just plodded along getting gradually worse and worse in terms of music quality which is a trend that their worthless spin-offs have continued doing, and have essentially devolved into nothing but caricatures.

    #36 Funny you say that, I started getting into XTC because they were frequently cited as an influence on Blur’s Britpop-era sound (I became a big fan of Blur in my teens)

  18. 138
    Izzy on 12 Jul 2013 #

    135: what that means, though, is that britpop killed grunge in Britain. Which is true to a large extent, it completely overwhelmed it in sales and media presence. While I suspect US acts’ sales here probably actually remained fairly constant, that’s not much of a story when britpop types were suddenly shifting ten times that, or more. And certainly this nation’s youth didn’t spend the next few years looking to, say, Billy Corgan.

    136: quite rightly, the US could’ve cared less. The thing is that Oasis actually could’ve been the big exception, and maybe even have changed the game a little more widely, but they bottled it. In which respect they’re quintessentially British indie culture; play a handful of gigs and come home moaning, milking it for a little extra publicity in the NME (or the six o’clock news) – completely insular. Between U2 and Coldplay, not many gave the place a proper go.

    It’s still slightly surprising that Oasis didn’t try, given the ambition, charisma, Noel’s work ethic and apparent love of being huge. He must’ve just burnt out so fast, the simple explanation is all I can think of.

  19. 139
    MichaelH on 13 Jul 2013 #

    #134 Damon and Blur’s voluble opposition to American cultural imperialism came two or three years after another middle-class home counties guitar band with a lippy lead singer had done exactly the same. I wonder if Damon had read interviews with Thousand Yard Stare and thought they were on to something aesthetically, if not musically.

    For me, TYS’s public disdain for anything American was rather weakened by the fact that their singer, Stephen Barnes, worked in Slough Boots with me a year or two before their brief bloom of success, and he went to MacDonald’s for lunch every day.

  20. 140
    Tom on 13 Jul 2013 #

    Re. America’s impression of British indie – the Rhino Records “Brit Box” is an instructive listen here – an entire disc lovingly devoted to shoegaze, over and done with in 6 months in the UK press but the only thing ‘we’ did all decade that American alternative bands really seemed to care about (God help them).

    (Some general thoughts on the pop, er, special relationship can be found in my piece on Britpop for my Pitchfork column http://pitchfork.com/features/poptimist/7865-poptimist-33/ )

  21. 141
    Izzy on 13 Jul 2013 #

    Shoegaze was something new though, sonically (and therefore something which might translate). Britpop occasionally came up with an innovative sound (A Northern Soul, Dog Man Star) but as a movement its newness was largely meta. No reason why Tracy Jacks should strike a chord beyond these shores.

  22. 142
    Tom on 13 Jul 2013 #

    Oh, totally. There was nothing more embarrassing in 90s indie than Britpop bands announcing their intention to ‘break’ America and coming up with lame post-rationalisations of why it hadn’t worked.

    (Actually Britpop gets a decent shout on the Brit Box too. Baggy is the big “did not translate” British indie movement, I think – the barriers between the styles it was, however clumsily, fusing were much greater at that point in the USA: it just didn’t make a lot of sense.)

  23. 143
    Izzy on 13 Jul 2013 #

    The more puzzling why Oasis, the one band who might’ve succeeded, self-sabotaged so stupidly. Actually The Verve might’ve had a shot too, but at least their implosion was a real one.

    (I don’t think I’m making this up? As I recall it they had a lot of airplay and allround momentum around Morning Glory and Wonderwall (Scott McCloud being in that video, despite spending all of five minutes in the band, reflecting Guigsy’s troubles – but that was only Guigsy), then blew off their US tour because Noel & Liam weren’t getting on. I mean maybe there’s more to it, I never really tried to find out; but if that was it, you’d think they could’ve worked it out, given the stakes.)

  24. 144
    MichaelH on 13 Jul 2013 #

    #142 I think it’s hard to overestimate how big the barriers between genres could be in the US. I spent six months in Washington DC in 1988, and lots of the people I met at the university I was based at had never even heard of hip-hop, let alone knew anything about it. And when our group of Brits would go out to Go-Go shows, the Americans just looked at us with blank incomprehension.

  25. 145
    swanstep on 14 Jul 2013 #

    @izzy, 141, 143. In the US both Oasis and the Verve had their moment, especially the former, you’re right. But neither developed a good rep as a live act (compare with Radiohead who opened for REM in 1995 and blew people away), and both blew their follow up to their US breakthrough album (whereas Radiohead followed up their live persuasiveness with OK Computer and Kid A). End of story.

    As for Britpop as a ‘movement’ itself having little impact, well, that’s the price of being broadly retro. When your schtick is warmed over Kinks and Beatles and Stones and a little Wire then you are redundant as far as subsequent bands are concerned. (See also fondly thought of bands such as Green Day and The Strokes – there’s no point in being seriously influenced by them, just cut to the Buzzcocks, VU, Tom Petty, etc. chase.) Movements as various as goth and shoegaze and grunge and trip-hop inherently have more staying power and potential influence precisely because they’re not nearly as smoothly reducible to prior formations.

    One thing to keep in mind is that US has its own unlamented relatively unoriginal, relatively shit bands. Third Eye Blind had one pretty strong album (which sold 6 million copies in the US – twice as much as Oasis, six times as much as The Verve), clearly thought a lot of themselves and had very big mouths (so rubbed a lot of people the wrong way even when they were selling millions), were dodgy live, internally fractious, and then, ha ha, had no ability to follow up. End of story.

    Think also of Alanis – although it’s hard to remember this, her breakthrough ‘You oughta know’ persona was as kind of a grunge-lite gal. She sold berserker amount of records in that peak Britpop period, quickly became very irritating, and wasn’t able to follow up Jagged Little Pill in any convincing way. Although she starts from a higher peak, her sales trajectory in the US resembles Oasis’s, but nobody sits around musing why that happened. There’s a lot of luck involved in hitting it mega-big the way Alanis did everywhere and Oasis did in the UK, but once the artists have everyone’s attention like that then it’s largely up to them – how ready they are, how talented – where they go from there. If Be Here Now had been brilliant, if Alanis had had PJ Harvey’s or even Fiona Apple’s talent….

  26. 146
    Tom on 14 Jul 2013 #

    Alanis is still going, of course – last year’s album went top ten or to No.1 in a few places, and has probably sold as much worldwide as Let England Shake, if not rather more (the immense and deserved acclaim for LES will have shifted it out of PJ Harvey’s usual sales range). It was – not that these things count for much any more – a Top 5 US album (LES hit 32).

    So suddenly bringing in PJ and Fiona Apple (who have never hit Alanis’ commercial heights in the first place) seems a bit arbitrary: “If Alanis has had PJ Harvey’s talent…. she’d have ended up in roughly the same place by album #8, probably.”

    Most of this stuff is something like reversion to the mean, it seems to me – acts get lucky, hit a peak of popularity which then gives them license and record label patience to live out the (statistically?) inevitable commercial downward slope thereafter. The problem is that this commercial decline always shapes their critical and artistic narrative – it’s almost certainly better to be a critical darling and sell within a smaller range, so that your story can (if you’re lucky) be one of artistic growth rather than decline.

  27. 147
    Tom on 14 Jul 2013 #

    As for copycats not being influential – sometimes they are, sometimes they’re not. I doubt many people took their cues from Showaddywaddy rather than Jerry Lee Lewis, but your Green Day example feels way off – pop punk is an enormous, perpetual US scene and I doubt the Buzzcocks have much to do with it. Similarly, third-wave ska in California was inspired by new wave ska acts more than it was by Prince Buster et al.

    My suspicion is it’s still too soon to know whether Britpop will inspire a copycat wave. 90s interest is still climbing, possibly peaking, and there’s plenty of room in the next few years for Britpop style bands to break through. We’ll revive the thread in 2018 and see what happened :)

  28. 148
    Mark G on 14 Jul 2013 #

    Does the ‘influential’ tag mean more than “look at *that* band, we could do that”. ?

  29. 149

    DON’T GET ME STARTED ON THE I-WORD MARK G!!?

  30. 150
    swanstep on 15 Jul 2013 #

    @147, Tom. Maybe my Buzzcocks ref wasn’t well-chosen (they’re just who Green Day reminded me of when they emerged), but I’d say that the pop-punk scene you mention is still going to be much more driven by Ramones, Clash Who, Fugazi/Minor Threat, Rollins, Dead Kennedies, than by Green Day. (I don’t mean to beat up on Green Day by saying this, it’s just a consequence of their musical profile that they’re going to be mainly a gateway drug for new acts). I think you;re right that ’90s interest has probably yet to peak, but in Oasis’s case in particular their retro-ness and unoriginality limits the musical dimension of subsequent interest in them. As we move further away from them their hey-day we’re like people looking back from a ship moving away from land: Oasis are pressed down into the landscape while the real peaks rear up behind them. The less immitative Jarvis/Pulp, Albarn/Blur, and others stand taller and are less pressed down into the now distant landscape.

    @148, Mark G. I think so. There is a lot of first-order imitation of whatever’s in the charts and on trend at a given time. Maybe a Duran or an Oasis maximizes that, but that doesn’t come close to settling their status in the musical landscape which will determine how their deeper influence is felt. Highly, relatively original acts (say, your Kraftwerks, Chics, Kate Bushs, MBVs, etc.) rear up and tower over everything around at their times and they’re what subsequent acts steer by, while most inspirers of widespread first order imitative activity are lost in the froth of history.

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