Some classic avoidance going on here. Knock out the easy ones, the stuff I can do while spinning on my privates. Meantimes the blogs I really want to write are stuck in draft limbo. I have convinced myself that describing “That Obscure Object of Desire” in three glib yet lucid and mildly humorous sentences is, in fact, an impossibility. Hey, I’ll get to it and will try harder.
I loved the London Olympics. Wall-to-wall sport for 2 weeks is my kind of TV. I was, though, unable to watch the whole of the two ceremonies which topped and tailed the gathering. I did not watch earlier versions when blazered & straw-hatted competitors strolling around an athletics track was all the entertainment on offer. Now they are designed as prime time TV spectaculars (were the pyrotechnics in Beijing CGI’d…crazy). Prime time TV is not made for me, actually not much of the rest appeals either. That’s OK, what I did see of the opening ceremony I liked. Danny Boyle is a smart man and was a good choice. When I felt the lowest common denominator, something for everyone, offending no-one, kick in I reached for the off switch.
The closing ceremony was trailed as a celebration of British music. As may be obvious music is something I care quite a lot about. It is indisputable that for the last 50 years Britain has not only participated and contributed to this popular art but has often led the way and produced artists who have affected the world. I knew that there would be moments which would jar,( If there is one area in which I am at all a control freak it is that I try, as far as possible, to live in a Queen-free universe). A friend called around in the afternoon and dropped the names of Take That & the Spice Girls. My heart sank. I did watch, Ray Davies, compulsory, Madness, very British, Pet Shop Boys,mmm, Emilie Sande, well Adele was not available. It was George Michael, promoting what I believe to be his new single, that did it for me and off went the idiot’s lantern.
So here’s my point (finally!) . A celebration of British music watched worldwide could have used a little imagination. That same imagination that supplied all the innovative music in the first place. For sure celebrate what we have done but why not show the world that we are still doing it. Artistic success is not just measured in record sales. Here are 3 bands, from the 21st century, I would have liked to have seen and none of them are the Ting Tings !
Mick Jones would be, if the phrase was not now so overused to be cliched & therefore meaningless. a national treasure. His former partner, Joe, is dead now so we are never, and only in my nightmares did it happen, to see a Clash reunion. Mick’s musical and personal development mirrors that of a generation of British men & women who are veterans of the punk wars of 1976-79. I saw him play at the biggest anti-racist rally ever held in this country and they were the Clash’s audience. Later Big Audio Dynamite appeared at a massive anti-apartheid concert which brought South London to a standstill. We knew he would be there and we were glad he was. Here Carbon Silicon play “The News”, a song about a near future when people decide they have had enough of the materialist shitstorm and plan a society based on consideration and co-operation. My point is that Mick Jones has always chronicled the feelings of British people who, despite being abandoned by politicians, retain a political consciousness and that’s a lot of us. If the N.H.S. is to be celebrated then so should this spirit.He is the guy who shows how punk really affected people and how they matured. Oh yeah, the LP “The Last Post” is the last new rock album that I truly, madly, deeply fell in love with.
The British have always loved wordplay and a facility with words. English, the language of the Internet and of the world, we invented it. Satire, irony, even gobbledegook, we love it all. Scroobius Pip’s litany of commandments for 21st century youth, backed by the electro bleeps of Dan le Sac can only have come out of this country. For a very short time there was an urban underground music scene which promised to shake our charts up. The rapidity with which Rascal, Tempah and others were chewed up by the industry and spat out as innocuous pop muppets was a little depressing. “Thou Shalt Not Kill” is a list of ways that conformity has become accepted as the norm. For 5 decades British youth were able to set their own rules, wear their own fashions and make their own music. They should still try to do it because no-one does it better. Oh and the song, very importantly, is funny.
For the big finish, after the Who have done 6 minutes of very old songs and Muse have paraded their tuneless noise, we needed the lovely racket of Ritzy Bryan & her boys, the Joy Formidable. The best British single of 2011 would have caught the attention of the mass audience as would the charming diminutive lead guitarist. As the tune breaks apart into feedback with Ritzy kneeling over and thumping her pedals, there is your “What the Fuck ?” moment. This is modern rock music. Seriously all the best music has been disliked by the mass audience at first. It is because it is new and different. Most people do not like change or like to be challenged. It would have been fitting for any celebration of British music to have ended on something that had not yet shifted squillions of units but bloody well could do if given the exposure.
This is perhaps the most negative thing I have blogged since I began. I really do not like Internet rants. I will get back to being that chilled out old hippie guy tomorrow. Promise.