.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

April 29, 2005

Yeah, No... I Blame the iPod

From the Nothing New Under the Sun department today, this article in the Guardian about "Firework" bands, who have been with us since the Dawn of Time, as record companies, radio stations, newspapers, and magazines try to out-do each other in hipness and hiposity.

These bands are so interchangeable they all need to have logos so as to be identifiable. I'm still not interested. As an official old fogey stick in the mud cynic, I've not been interested in this kind of thing since, natch, the Dawn of Time.

In my prime teenage years (in the 70s) I did and listened to my own thing (which happened to be the thing of around a decade before, so it goes), and by now I've about reached the early 70s and stopped. I'm afraid, dear people, that it's a stone fact that, around 1980 (or was it 1976?) record producers got a dose of the completely-forgotten-how-to-do-things-rights, and most records have sounded crap ever since.

I was reading in Sound on Sound about how some recording engineer, encouraged by the indifference of Glyn Johns, decided to use the ol' "close miking" technique on Keith Moon's drum kit in '77/78 for Who Are You. Before this time, engineers like Johns had tended to use no more than 3 microphones to record drums. Hence, drums in the 60s and 70s sounded miles better. Once close miking came in, we got in-your-face Big Drums on everything, and people wank on about snare sounds and use 18 different microphones. It all sounds shit.

NME circa '77-79 was in the business of launching and destroying new bands on a weekly basis. Clue to the nonplussed: it sells papers. It sells magazines. People keep lapping it up. Why? Because of the never-ending search for hipness and indeed hiposity.

iPod makes things worse. Spend hours immersed solipsistically in your iTunes library and you grow tired and bored of your collection and need novelty like a drug. But there's also that other thing, that need to have cooler and more exclusive things on your 'Pod than the guy sitting next to you on the Tube.

But here's another clue: if you read about them in The Guardian, or in the Observer Music Monthly, it's already too late. So don't bother. Once it's middle-class dinner party conversation fodder, you might as well stick on some white or pink noise and listen to that (I recommend Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music).

You wanna be hip? Don't take advice from me. But if you want to take advice from me (and free advice is worth the price you pay), the road to hipness lies in appreciating the unappreciated and unfashionable, not in following the herd in liking the latest hip logo act. It requires hard work and dedication, and the ability to know your onions, and opposed to knowing somebody else's.

Examples? It's easy to like Bob Dylan. I think you'd have to be dead not to appreciate the sparkling beauty of Blonde on Blonde. It's much harder to point to Self Portrait and say (and mean it!) that it's one of your favourite Dylan albums.

Lou Reed? Everyone likes New York, everyone knows Transformer, but only the true connoisseur loves Coney Island Baby above all others. Check out that 1975 production! Gorgeous.

Springsteen? Lucky Town and Human Touch were greeted with indifference by critics and many fans. They're very close to my heart.

You have to work at it, to really love something, to know something, and you need to benefit of T I M E for these things to become truly apparent. You can't get this stuff off the cover of a magazine or newspaper. It's like everything else: sheer effort and hard work leads to rich rewards. Feckless understudying of media whores' tastes leads to futility. You might as well listen to Elton and Phil Collins and be done with the whole scene.


Post a Comment

<< Home