I Hate Music

Dec 01


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THE CLASH – London Calling

A bunch of middle class punk chancers or the only band with something to say to come out of Britain during the late seventies? Well, on the evidence of London Calling it’s pretty much neither. Certainly if the something they had to say was of the standard of:
“London Calling, to the zombies of death”

That will be opposed to what other kind of zombie exactly Mr Strummer? The zombies of new born babes, the zombies of skipping around joyfully? The Zombies who had a hit in the hellish swinging sixties with “She’s Not There”? Well I’m glad you specified the dead kind of zombie. Now just fuck off with your Big Audio Dynamite and blow your head off properly this time. And join the zombies of death.

Dec 01


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I have always been a firm believer in doing the work you love and loving the work you do. That’s why my CV includes spells as a librarian, a sensory deprivation engineer, and a special liason for the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Busker Corpse. But that’s not to say I can’t sympathise with you poor souls trapped in a job you hate, faced every day with the punishing traumas and choices of modern industrial existence. “Hmm, which CD will I put on today – Dido or David Gray?”. Actually, no, I can’t sympathise.

But I sympathise more with you, O oppressed White Ladder listener, than with Roger motherfucking Waters. Roger’s job was to be a rock star. How he’d got the gig was a mystery, given that he looked like the horse from Steptoe And Son – but once he was in ‘the business’ he threw himself into it with the precise opposite of gusto. All of Pink Floyd’s biggest-selling records are about how absolutely shit it is to be a famous musician. “Welcome To The Machine” howls Rog with his customary metaphorical deftness. Yes the business nay LIFE ITSELF is an evil MACHINE that PROCESSES YOU and stops you being FREE it is populated with PIGS (three different kinds, Roger painstakingly points out) who say “HAVE A CIGAR” as they make you sign away your creative SOUL…

Hold on there Roger! The Man did you wrong how exactly? He restricted you to a mere nine parts of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” perhaps? Let’s get this straight. Pink Floyd were at the height of their commercial powers at a time when rock was the most indulged music on the planet. In other words if there is anybody in human artistic history who could done absolutely anything he wanted to do it is Waters, R. It’s not anyone else’s fault that what resulted sounded like Eric Clapton fallen in a tar pit.

Roger should have taken note of his colleagues’ attitudes. You didn’t catch Nick Mason complaining about his job, oh no. He knew a good thing when he saw one – turn up, hit a drum maybe fifteen times per song and then fuck off for the next three years to drive racing cars. (Pink Floyd may have put out A Collection Of Great Dance Songs but their music goes beyond mere BPM – if only because “beats” in the plural would contravene the Trades Descriptions Act.)

But Roger had none of this fair-mindedness. He moaned and moaned and moaned. For goodness’ sake, Rog, I agree with you! The music industry is a pit of cloth-eared snakes favouring product over talent (Evidence A is Pink Floyd but never mind). So why on earth didn’t you just leave and get another job? Very simple, no problems. Just put down the bass, walk out of the door, and forget all about it. You have to conclude that either Roger was just as greedy and venal as the rest of them, or that his blinkered misanthropy and grudge-bearing had made him completely unemployable. Like Dido versus David Gray, readers, it’s a very difficult choice.

Dec 01


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Male pattern baldness. Has there ever been a better sign of tedium in pop? Alopecia is just not a good sign in any band, lets pick off some examples. The grand Pooh-Bah of baldness would be Brian Eno o’course. He made Music For Airports. Of course the best place to listen to it is an airport. The whooshing jets cause a nice distraction to the ambient twaddle. Sinead O’Connor chips in with female not strictly pattern baldness, and was vilified. Not for saying nasty things about the Pope (like he would care). Instead for turning a dreary slushy Prince ballad into a dreary, slushier advert for polo neck sweaters. Christ baldness is such a bad sign that fucking Michael Stipe felt he had not reached his nadir of lousiness until he went the hole hog and put his pate on view.

So picture this. A band made up of two bald brothers. How dull could they be? How stupendously poor could genetic hair-loss cause the music to get? Why, you would imagine only a personality-free musical form would even vaguely contemplate putting up with light shining off of both performers bonces. Phew – that’d be dance then.

Intelligent dance dahrling – must be intelligent. They’re bald like all mad Professors. The Hartnoll brothers, Orbital, have managed to ply a trade of uninspired blips and blops fuelled on lack of charisma, lack of serious competition and a couple of penlights strapped to their faces. Its not as if they do not warn you though: take their heartfelt look at the effect of tranquillising drugs on their mother : Halcyon…and on…and on….and fucking on for about twenty minutes. They sampled Opus III, that’s like the Beatles covering Dave Dee, Dozy, Mick & Titch (not that this is necessarily a bad idea).

More clues to self tedium. Are We Here? Well point one – we wish you weren’t. Point two – you might as well not be. Orbital are apparently one of the best live techno acts. Scurrying like hamsters behind their big banks of equipment, pretend that they are not just playing the record. And let’s delve further – where does this reputation stem from? Oh yes, a barnstorming set at Glastonbury. Frankly you bung five hippies in front of a pile of burning waxed cups for half an hour and Jo Whiley doing shadow puppets with her withered hand would be “the best fucking gig in the world – mahn”.

Orbital are apparently named after the great early acid raves which took place in random places around the M25 in 1988 – 1989. Well if that were the case why aren’t they called “Rave” or “Party” or “Fucking Freezing Cold Milk Marketing Board Warehouse On The Outskirts Of Tring”. Instead they have decided to name themselves after the road – and not any old fucking road – the M25. When the highlight of an entire album / set is a sample of Suzi Quatro / Belinda Carlisle / the them tune to John Cravens Newsround you are really on to a loser.

Nope Orbital are dull baldness personified. Luckily they have written their own obituary – and fittingly it has no words. They should end up in “The Box”. Preferably six feet under.

Dec 01

FEAR (And Loathing) OF MUSIC

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FEAR (And Loathing) OF MUSIC

In TV or comic book parlance, “talking heads” refers to that bit where the action stops and the characters stand around explaining things: sometimes a vital part of a narrative’s structure it’s more often the function of a director who has, quite literally, lost the plot. David Byrne, then, might not have been any good at picking suits (he got the collar and chest measurements mixed up, poor thing), but he was a dab hand at choosing names.

Now, I would be the last one to underestimate a listener’s stupidity, but Byrne went a bit far even for me: half of Talking Heads’ songs seem to assume that their audience are Martians. You can try it at home – here’s how to write one:

1) Pick a subject. This should be something very mundane. The television, perhaps, or animals. Hey! We’ll pick computers.
2) Write about your topic in a simple style. Say nothing that is not obvious. How about – You can type on computers. Your words appear on screen.
3) HERE IS THE IMPORTANT PART. You now have to turn your kindergarten words into a penetrating reflection of the strangeness of modern life. You do this by singing them in a bug-eyed neurotic voice.
3A) If you don’t make the delivery sufficiently nutty you’ll have written a Kraftwerk song instead. And that would never do.
4) Embellish your initial lyrics, if you like, with extra ones of even more staggering obviousness. So your song on computers might now run: “You can type! / On computers. / THEY DON’T TYPE BACK! / Your words show up on the screen / People say the screen is black.”
5) Play weedy approximation of funk/African/Brazilian music behind devastatingly insightful words.
6) Approach bank. Laugh.

David Byrne applied this technique time and again. He considered cities: each had good points and bad points. What of animals? “They say animals are hairy”. Finally his observations reached a stunning peak: on “Once In A Lifetime” (named for how often anyone needs to hear it), he told the world that “There is water at the bottom of the ocean”. In other words, David Byrne made Jonathan Richman look like Hegel.

And people lapped it up. As countless jerky indie-poppers have learned since, if you say anything with a straight enough face people will take it seriously. David Byrne and his band made a pile of albums and one film pointing out to America how secretly weird it was. This is something nobody ever went broke doing: everyone wants to believe the place they live in has a paranoid Lynchian underbelly, it’s far more palatable than the boring reality. Sing that boring reality like a paranoid kook and you’re made, at least until you discover Brazilian music and blow your career out of the water with a series of records which sound like someone’s dad doing the samba.

ISAAC HAYES – The Theme From Shaft

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ISAAC HAYES – The Theme From Shaft

Wicky Wicky Wicky.

How far did Isaac Hayes’ balls drop? Was there some terrible sound of a couple of pool balls being let go from about three feet when it occurred. Because when Isaac sings, the deep bass sets up reverberations in the very firmament on which the earth is built. It also makes me want to shit.

“Who’s the black private dick that’s a sex machine to all the chicks?”

Er- Isaac –

“Who’s the man who would risk his neck for his brother man?”

Look – Isaac – the song is called the Theme From Shaft. Shaft is a movie about-

“Who’s the cat that won’t cop out when there’s danger all about?”

Maybe its Alzheimers or something. I don’t know but it seems odd to me that Isaac Hayes, he of the improbably low slung cojones, cannot remember who he is singing about. The track is called the theme from Shaft. Shaft is a film about a private detective, a man who appears at least to risk his neck for his – ahem – brother man. (That’s brother man – rather than Brotherhood Of Man – only a fool and a fuckwit would try to save the mush merchants who peddled us Save All Your Kisses For Me). Isaac – the man’s name is Shaft.

Wicky Wicky funk guitar is one of the laziest inventions in music ever. Guitar, wah wah peddle and no talent whatsoever is required to make the sound of a train crossing some points. Couple it with a simplistic brass hit and you are left with a piece of merchandising which begs to be put out of business. The backing singers keep telling Isaac to shut his mouth. And you can tell that they mean it. Not only is he making a fool of himself with his forgetting the name of the song antics, but the bass rumble is probably pulverizing their spinal columns. Shut your mouth Isaac or you might find out the answer to this question:

“Who is the chick who wants to destroy all of music”


Yo damn right.