Monday, August 13, 2007

I hate hate / but you know I love love

It was twenty years ago today…well not exactly today…but it was 20 years more less. It was sometime in August 1987 the musical world moved quite substantially on it’s axis, never to quite return to the same spot.

These anniversaries seem to come around with an increasing frequency, it being my age I guess, and some of them are, for me at least, quite terrifying in their implications. Take the photo and brief story in the Mojo Magazine from, I think, April, stating that Sid Vicious, bless him, would have turned fifty in February of this year. Putting aside the fact that in our minds, well mine at least, Sid will always be that snotty, tragically talentless, but iconic, figure, aged about 20. But that’s essentially a thirty year anniversary…clearly, despite the way I feel, I’m still not 18. The twenty year ones are bad enough…and yes, it was twenty years ago this month that Paul Oakenfold, Nicky Holloway, Danny Rampling and a couple of others went to Ibiza and bought back, not immediately mind, but just soon enough, the second summer of love and Acid House. And it was never the same. Well for most of us…but I’ll get to that.

shoom I don’t like Acid House you may say, but that’s largely beside the point. What Oakenfold, et al, bought us was not just a four on the floor pill popping party but a door smashing, throat grabbing change of psyche. House music didn’t arrive in 87, it was a year or so old, but when acid swept across the UK in 1988 and the rest of the western world, the USA excepted, in the next year or two, it said, like 57, 67 and 77, musically you can do anything again. It picked up the thing that punk, and post punk, had begun and ran with it…the flurry of we-can-do-it activity after it was incredible…all those labels, and experimenters, and its that we have to thank for smothering the awful post Wham MTV friendly pop that the UK was obsessed with in 84 / 85 /86. Go West anyone?

Without Ibiza 87, no Massive Attack in the mainstream, no Bjork, no Acid Jazz, no Oasis and Britpop, no Daft Punk, no club culture, no bloody Zoo TV Tour or Zooropa (I dislike U2 with a vengeance but it’s had to argue that this was not their zenith, when they became more than just a big rock band), and no middle class embrace of Public Enemy and Dr Dre. Hence Fat Freddy’s Drop are as much the child of Ibiza as any shitty wave yer hands in the air and fling yer glowstick around trance DJ.

No America never really quite got it. It still hasn’t. All of a sudden the staid pre-adventurism of the pre-Beatles days returned to the USA. It closed its doors (outside of perhaps NYC and the odd spark here and there which just emphasis my point) to the future, hailing instead Nirvana and grunge as the future. Now, they may have sold in West Auckland, and panel-beater dress became chic for a week or two, but to most of us outside the US, Cobain and co sounded so ridiculously old fashioned in 1989…like an updated Grand Funk Railroad…and nothing has happening in mainstream rock’n’roll in America since, except that by and large, now, it’s stopped selling.

That’s a surprise.

The irony in all this of course is that Black American music, be it hip-hop, house or techno, and the way the rest of the world related to it and used it's concepts (which was the difference Ibiza and it's aftermath gave us), was driving the rest of the world, it’s just that mainstream (and by that I mean white sadly in the still segregated US mass) America missed that chapter and every one since.

And ain’t it ironic that Mr Wilson picks this particular month to shuffle away….

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