Monday, July 30, 2012

It's something you notice when you watch far too many documentaries about musical subcultures. There's that moment in the narrative, ten minutes before the end of the programme: the death knell. For every genre there seems to be a single event which marks the end. It was Band Aid for the New Romantics. It was Knebworth for Britpop. It was Milli Vanilli for Italo Disco. There has to be something that spoils it, something that makes it too massive or commercially viable. In the words of Noel Gallagher: The squares got involved and once the squares get involved with your music, you become fucking massive.

Perhaps it is necessary to have that device, as necessary as it is to pose a musical movement as a reaction to something else. The Punks didn't want to be Prog. The New Romantics didn't want to be Punk. The Smiths didn't want to be New Romantic. It isn't enough that some kids aspire to emulate the sound and the energy of another time or place, they have to rebel against the tedium of the current pop climate (even if the current pop climate is glorified in another documentary). They tell you of their enormous struggle to attain credibility and recognition. They tell you, but you already know: Gold was going to be massive hit for Spandau Ballet.

I don't always agree with their claims, but I appreciate those narrative devices. I appreciate any attempt to understand how musical subcultures rise and fall. I think about the death knell for genres yet to be widely celebrated. I think about what could have messed up the 2005 Post-Punk Revival or the 2007 Nu-Rave movement. I suppose we could all wait for Paul Morley, John Robb and David Quantick to reflect upon how it all went wrong, but I think it might be more rewarding for us to contemplate how a single event can tarnish our appreciation of something once so present and consequential.

Piccadilly Circus, 1972

Cassettes & Chocolate Milk: Garage Podcast #45
The Wailers - Out of Our Tree
Mouse and the Traps - Lie, Beg, Borrow & Steal
Swinging Machine - Do You Have To Ask (Alt)
Lesley Gore - No Matter What You Do
The Wild Cherries - I Cried Once
The Choir - It's Cold Outside
Lenis Guess - Workin For My Baby
The Roaches - Someone With a Heart
Sidewalk Skipper Band - Cynthia at Her Garden
Zebra Stripes - Intro '66

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