Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Like Diana Ross / I’m the Boss

I have, happily, refrained from commenting on the recent Sony BMG spyware mess for a couple of fairly good reasons. Firstly others have done a much better job than I could hope to and I’m happy just to sit back and follow the story and the way it evolves. I love the comments from my friend Simon and think he nailed it pretty much. All this fuss really is simply a blip on the radar that warns of the impending storm…the real crime here is in the list of albums affected. Ok, the Dion album is excluded but simply releasing the rest is a crime against good taste. This brings me to the second part of why I haven’t bothered commenting until now. I think I’ve used the term “suicide note” before but this sort of desperation really reeks of a scorched earth policy..if we can’t will then we are going to take the whole thing down with us. The record industry talks of doom, of downloading, of burning, of anything that pushes the blame away from their doors for the collapse in sales in recent times. But just look at that list, what a bloated ugly bunch of records they really are. In a craven desperate run for profits they forget, as always the reason they exist…the song and the passion that song brings out in a human being. We all feel it. I’m not afraid to die but I’m scared to death of never being able to hear music again.

The glory days of the eighties, widely seen in the industry as a golden age, a time when record sales rocketed worldwide, but especially in the USA, which drives the global music industry were largely a result of two things. A quick look at the US charts of 1980 or so is a pretty depressing thing. Bloated, turgid, for want of a better word, shit, like Kansas, Journey, Van Halen, REO Speedwagon dominates the album charts and the only memorable things on the singles chart are black. Pretty scary stuff and not an industry showing signs of a healthy future but by the mid eighties that all changed. The most obvious thing that saved their bacon was the CD. But the other thing, which revolutionised everything was British pop, the stuff that raised its head in the aftermath of punk, the Culture Clubs, the Whams, the ABCs etc which in an odd way represent as much as anything the true legacy of Malcolm McLaren and John Lydon (Johnny, Johnny…..you released half a dozen of the greatest singles of all time and one of the finest albums ever then ended up parodying yourself in 1996 with that sad Pistols reunion..to quote Blake Baxter, What the fuck happened?). MTV and British pop came crashing together and the rest, as they say…. If you don’t think Van Halen’s Jump isn’t that band trying their damnedest to sound like Flock of Seagulls then you are wrong.

And it’s the failure of the record industry to embrace the song again, especially in the rock’n’roll world, which is killing them. The MP3 is the 7” single and just as disposable, and so it should be. Download, burn and delete…it’s not destroying record sales, it’s the only thing keeping them alive. The number of blank cds sold is no indication that burning is destroying the industry as these are ultimately disposable items (I’m more worried about the landfill problem). The assumption that every song downloaded or burnt is a lost sale is so obviously flawed I won’t even go there. As soon as the industry embraces the technology, encourages the future, then they might have one….once the industry gets its head around the passion that this piracy indicates again then it can move forward.

The other thing which Simon goes into in his blog which I’m gonna touch on briefly is this whole Fallujah WP thing. What really gets me is the fucking stupidity and arrogance. If you really need to see how arrogant these pricks are check out Cheney today. From the most corrupt dishonest American politician since Nixon, this really is rich, paraphrased as: “we lied and fucked your country and I became a lot richer in the process as did many of my friends so now its time to roll over and take some more”.

It’s not about the Democrats and the Republicans for god’s sake. The Democrats have blood on their hands too. It’s about those poor begotten people in Iraq who have had their country ruined, their lives taken, their world turned upside down to suit the grand purposes of the US government and their generally compliant populace. Despite all the bullshit about freedom, tyranny, democracy and all the other Kentucky Fried Clich├ęs, the place is immeasurably worse off than it was three years ago. Saddam’s tyranny is replaced by another (oh…you only tortured seven…that’s ok then), Chalabi, Cheney’s buddy and just as odious, looks likely to return; death is random everyday as terror organisations, which were given a happy breeding ground to replace Afghanistan, kill with regular impunity; towns are destroyed from the air, just like Saddam with chemical weapons of questionable legality (and its got nothing to do with the letter of the law legality you idiots, you are the liberators, remember, this is the very thing you claimed you wanted to liberate Iraq from…) . Its about our world and how the United States has fucked it…Democrats and Republicans. So, forgive me if I sneer at your blame game….

Oh and Link Wray died…sad.

I need to mention some songs that hit a nerve today………

Ok….Sonny & Cher-Just You….Sonny hung around with Spector and learnt a lot. This one, from about 65 is pure homage and glorious it is too. Sonny might’ve died coked up as he skied into a tree and Cher might be a bit sad around the edges (although I like her and she’s made a good record or two), but check out the bit about 30 second in when Sonny drops in…whooo…which leads to The Ramones-Danny Says…off the much underrated End of The Century. I know Spector’s a nutter and he probably killed that poor girl but what I wouldn’t have done to have heard a Spector produced Joey Ramone solo album…Independent Movement-Slipping Away…a tip to Bill Brewster for this one. From 1976, one of those, is it funk, is it disco records that evolved in to the boogie sound off the early eighties. I played it five times yesterday….fits nicely with Lee Douglas-Same Changes…on Rong, very Levanish, bubbly, funky, glistening, …all the clich├ęs but I like it. Roxanne Shante-Have a Nice Day….Marley Marl on the board and pure genius. She’s an academic now I believe but she made at least half a dozen killer singles in her day…Kerri Chandler-Six Pianos… lush, very late eighties Detroit, with more than a touch of the likes of Mathew Jonson. One of those records…well, well one of those records that leave me a little speechless. I really like Happiness by another old trooper, Ron Trent (who has made more than a few dull noodlefests in recent years) and Quentin Harris. Nothing special, just pleasant old school vocal house but it works. Finally Patti & The Lovelites’ oddly named Love Bandit on Cotillion from the mid seventies, very Barbara Mason. There seems to be an endless supply of these one off gems…check this….click