Sunday, August 17, 2008
(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais
The new groups are not concerned
With what there is to be learned
They got Burton suits, ha you think it's funny
Turning rebellion into money.
Last week I picked up journalist Garry Mulholland's wonderful book Fear Of Music, The 261 Greatest Albums Since Punk and Disco. It's the sequel to the equally essential This Is Uncool, The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk and Disco. You can pick both up for about 3 quid each in HMV at the moment. I simply cannot recommend them enough. Not only because they're brilliant examinations of wonderful records, put in perfect cultural and socio-political context, but their short essays on each record are ideal for reading on the loo.
It's this precise ability to place each record into context that makes it so appealing. The records are arranged chronologically, so you can see how punk and disco and hip hop begat new wave and synth pop and electro which begat britpop and house and gangsta rap and beyond. I wasn't around in 1976, so I find the whole assessment of Punk fascinating. Mulholland's proposes that so many punks were disillusioned hippies because...
...your basic ideas are the same. Society is based upon the lie that you are what you buy. You see through this and attempt to act naturally and bond with others and create your own alternative vision of society, or you live your life like the zombies staggering around the shopping mall in George Romero's Dawn Of The Dead.
That was part of the essay on X-Ray Spex's 1978 LP Germfree Adolescence. I love books about music, especially books that somehow manage to convey just how wonderful great music can make you feel, and tries to explain why. Both Mulholland's books manage this and provide an alternative history of the last 30 odd years through the music that, essentially, tried to change the world, but ultimately failed.
This Saturday I went to the corporate festival extravaganza that was V, in Essex. It was, quite frankly, precisely what you'd expect. Ben Silent Words describes it as "The Festival For People Who Don't Like Music". And he's pretty much bang on. But I did find some joy amongst the soulless flipchart landfill indie, most notably energetically riotous Tokyo Police Club, a surprisingly entertaining Lostprophets and the joyously bombastic Muse, headlining with satellite dishes, lasers and smoke machines. Oh, and some songs.
But best of all was Siouxsie Sioux. As one of the original members of the Bromley Contingent of UK Punks surrounding the Sex Pistols, she falls into the position of living legend. And one with more songs and cultural cachet than the Pistols themselves. It was a little surreal seeing her, in her 50's, shouting at the soundcrew to turn it up. All whilst wearing a catsuit and carrying it off with aplomb, all as part of a bill alongside Scouting For Girls and Sugababes.
The previous weekend I went to Field Day in London's Victoria Park. A hipster's paradise, seemingly the polar opposite of V's corporate stands, cowboy hats and "He's Gay >>>" T Shirts. But it was sponsored by Converse which, as I love pointing out regularly, is now owned by Nike. Ironic, don'tcha think? Who ya gonna call? Adbusters! Enough already...
Anyway, I got sunburnt at V and drenched at Field Day. Next weekend I'm going to Reading. So... what? Snow? Locusts? Flaming gas canisters?
1. Sioxsie & The Banshees - Happy House
2. The Ramones - Teenage Lobotomy
3. Muse - Plug In Baby
4. The Notwist - At One With The Freaks
5. Tokyo Police Club - Tesselate
6. Howling Bells - Setting Sun
7. Lostprophets - Last Train Home
8. Emma Pollock - Adrenaline
9. Late Of The Pier - The Bears Are Coming
10. Velvet Underground - White Light/White Heat
Honestly, I don't blog properly for ages, and you get an anti-corporate, music snob rant from someone who openly admits to liking Coldplay. Sigh.
I don't wanna grow up, there's too much contradiction.Television - 'Friction'.
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