Monday, January 18, 2010

I don't know what it is about British pop, but it seems there is a very real sense of locality present in every group, in every song. It seems as if their geographical background is secondary only to the name of the group. Once you know that, then you have to know their lead singer's name, their recording label and the ultimate reason for their demise. It makes for a wildly comprehensive understanding of the places these people are singing about and how they interacted with other bands from the same place.

In saying all that, you can never really escape from something like Morrissey's Manchester. It's all so relevant and I wonder why. Is that sense of locality real, in that these singers make a very deliberate attempt to allude to these places? Strangeways Prison? Ancoats? Whalley Range? The Moors? Are their rural accents exaggerated and if so, for what purpose? What is the consequence of Paul Smith singing with a Geordie accent? Or else is the British musical press reinforcing this idea of history, creating a messy, elaborate web of creative relationships, to be mythologised at length for decades to follow?

A part of it is just me, maybe. I like thinking about Freddie and Roger, queening it up on Kensington High Street, the Beatles performing upon the Apple rooftop or the Sex Pistols mucking about at the 100 Club. Maybe it makes it all the more real. If you know about the significance of these places then there is that very remote possibility of pilgrimage. There is that ultimate inevitability, of course, that once you get there, it will be just a street, it will be just a building. You will go to Wardour Street and there won't be "A" bomb there are at all. There is nothing special there so why bother?

The Beatles' Love, in Las Vegas of all places

But there is something special, in some way. It's quite indecipherable. There is an idea that such pop songs, such perfect musical encounters took place in such ordinary places. Council houses, schools, night clubs or electronics shops in the case of the Pet Shop Boys. It is the ordinary nature of it that is so special and it may well touch upon that unspeakable, selfish hope that one day, the ordinary places you frequent could be filled with a similar kind of consequence.

I leave you, my friendlings, with a related C&CM Britpop Podcast. This week's episode is a Triphop manifesto, with bits and pieces from the Bristol scene of the early 1990s. I hope it's to your satisfaction.

Cassettes & Chocolate Milk: Triphop Podcast #19
Hooverphonic - Mad About You
Portishead - Wandering Star
Massive Attack - Safe From Harm
Supreme Beings of Leisure - Never the Same
Moloko - Absent Minded Friends
Jay-Jay Johanson - So Tell the Girls I'm Back in Town
Paul Weller - Wild Wood (Portishead Remix)
The Lightning Seeds - You Showed Me

Download (53.2MB)


Wim Lockefeer said...

Hi -

great podcast. One remark, though : Hooverphonic is/was not a British band, but rather from Sint-Niklaas, Belgium. Which isn't important for the world, but all the more for people from Belgium ;-)

Eleanor said...

Hiya Sparehed,

Thanks for your listenership and feedback! Not to fret, I was aware that Hooverphonic were from Belgium. Similarly with other artists featured on this week's podcast - Jay Jay being from Sweden and Supreme Beings of Leisure being from the US. Despite the tag, this week's emphasis wasn't on the Britpop as such, but the Triphop style. The musical stylings make its origins deceptive!

Take care, El x