Rock and Roll Is In Its Dotage. There I Have Said It.
Blaze is outside the house on the footpath. He got that angry about my last blog where I said that Rock and Roll was now in its old age and that nothing much new was going on, that he has decide to start a picket line in protest. He has got all the clichés with him too. Slogans on signs mounted on sticks, a fire in a 44 gallon drum, fist shaking and shouts of scab at the mailman who has to dodge the drum when delivering my mail on his motorbike.
It would be more effective if there was anyone else with him but so far only the street’s cats have joined in, no doubt lured by the warmth from the drum's flames and scraps from Blaze’s Uber food deliveries.
The best and worst part for the neighbours is Blaze dressing as some of his favourite rock stars. He is going with a different star each day proceeding in alphabetical order.
So far we have had quite a credible Angus from AC/DC and a less successful Steve Tyler from Aerosmith. Blaze’s solution to accurately representing Mr Tyler’s rather large lips was overzealous application of bright red lipstick, tight black leather and gauzy scarves tied to an old microphone stand. All of which only served to scare the twins across the road into a teary state and puzzle their older brother greatly as he is going through the early stages of puberty.
Blaze’s Bauhaus day was a personal highlight for me, timing it with the appearance of a blood moon was, I must admit, sheer genius.
At that point I knew I had to act before some special kind of hell descended when he worked his way through the alphabet to The Butthole Surfers.
We had a chat and a couple of beers on the footpath and I had to agree that he had a democratic right to protest so we reached a compromise. I would elaborate on my comments re Rock and Roll’s approaching dotage and he would stop lying down on the road stopping the home delivery of Coles groceries to the neighbours next door.
Democracy as I believe I have already noted is a good thing and cannot be limited. You wouldn’t think that would need to be said but now days you just can’t be sure.
It works best when the citizens of said democracy have complete faith in the institutions of same said democracy. This takes time and is, like fitness levels, hard won but easily lost. Events this week in Zimbabwe after their presidential elections and the frequent attack by Trump on his own country’s security organisations, courts and independent media are, as the politicians love to say, concerning.
It is one thing to see countries slowly but surely develop their democracies over time, some times decades. There can be missteps but if everyone has good intent the process can be good and permanent. But to see established democracies put at risk because the ends justify the means, ego, or a winning is everything attitude is especially concerning.
Which is why the compromise with Blaze had to happen. That and the fact that The B-52’s song Planet Clare played on a battered iPhone 4 amplified by Blaze by holding a feedbacking megaphone to the mobile’s speaker on the Sunday night when the final of Masterchef was on the TV, was the final straw for the street.
So the reason I made my comment about rock and roll was that I think it is true. Rock and Roll has done its dash. This music of youth, of the teenager, the music of that last 70 years that has conquered the world, even acts as a symbol for mankind on the spaceship Voyager 2 as it journeys out into the vastness of space is now all comfy and resting happily in the old people’s home alongside Classical, Dixieland Jazz, Swing etc.
The exciting music. The new sounds, the genre of music that is experimenting and pushing out its boundaries is Rap.
Now I also find most Rap deeply unsatisfying. By its very nature it sacrifices melody for rhythm, its origin in a background of resentment and anger, however understandable, renders its aspirations low and vengeful. It is mostly music of envy, greed, ego and competition. It is not nice and has little joy.
Yet it has power and it can be mixed and merged with so much of the rest of the world’s music that its ability to reinvent is only now really just being tapped. And so it is in this genre that the boundaries of popular music are now being pushed while Rock and Roll is taking a well deserved retirement.
That’s not to say there aren’t new rock bands and musicians out there, Smith Street Band and Courtney Barnett being great examples. It’s just that maybe like blues and the other music that made up its roots Rock is now the format that is showing some limitations. Maybe there is only so much you can do. Now I’ve thought about it I have no problems with this, after all Rock and Roll is older than me and I ain’t stretching the limits myself.
So that’s the story and looking out my window I now notice that Melissa, one of the ladies from down the street who, to quote my mom, would go to the opening of an envelope has moved on from protesting about parking options at the local school and joined Blaze on the footpath. She is waving a sign and marching a regular perimeter around a rectangle of grass on the footpath.
The grass wasn’t looking that great before the picket started but now a worn rut is forming. Blaze for his part looks delighted. Today is the Blue Oyster Cult day and Blaze hasn’t had to dress up because no one knows what they look like anyway and the numbers on his picket line have now doubled.
Melissa’s protest sign says “Better to Burn Out Than To Rust” on one side and “Lust For Life” on the other, although the fit of her previous century’s leather jeans makes things look like there has been a more recent lust for chocolate and chardonnay. Which leads me in a deus ex machina kind of way to this week’s movie, a belated look at Trainspotting 2.
All in all TS2 is a very positive experience but I have to admit initially while I was watching it I was troubled. In real life you would move suburbs to avoid having any contact with four drug addled criminal thugs like the stars of TS2 and yet this movie makes you feel affection and pity and understanding. This was unsettling for awhile and I wondered whether I was just giving the new film too much credit because of the greatness of the first one. But as it went on it felt more and more right.
All the best bits of the first film are there i.e. the four main leads, Irvine Welsh’s source material, Danny Boyle’s direction, nice cameo from the wonderful Kelly MacDonald and of course the streets and surrounds of Edinburgh. So I think there is a real resonance and it stands up really well on its own even if it can never have the punches in the face that the first film gave out. Begbie remains terrifying though. There is a happy ending of sorts and you just know one day there will be a TS3.
But still the biggest unsung heroes of the Trainspotting films are Tony and Hunt Sales, the musician brothers on bass and drums respectively on the Iggy Pop tune “Lust for Life.“ Try to imagine the Trainspotting movies without that song [and Underworld’s Born Slippy]. Such is the power of music.
Music from the Picket Line and the Movies/TV
Aerosmith’s tom cat strut of “Sweet Emotion” was used to great effect in the fantastic teen movie Dazed And Confused’s opening scene.
I am a Bon Scott AC/DC guy so Baby Don’t Go with visuals from the famous Countdown episode. Hard to believe they showed it at 6.00 on a Sunday night in the 70s
The Blue Oyster Cult was a most unusual hard rock/metal band from Long Island NY in the 70s and 80s. Best known for the awesome hit Don’t Fear The Reaper [aaah that cowbell and what a guitar solo] that was featured in the horror classic Halloween, there is a mixture of heavy riffing, space, cryptic lyrics and intellectualism not usually found in the genre. Interesting album artwork, band symbols and a great drummer too. If Steely Dan were a metal band…
Planet Clare by The B52s blew my mind when I first heard it. I was still listening to Neil Young as well as getting into punk and new wave but early Devo and the B52s were really quite out there. I hated it at first. My wife still hates it now. Bound to be in a movie somewhere.
Never heard Bela Lugosi’s Dead by Bauhaus? Go now and for 9 minutes and thirty six seconds embrace your inner Goth. Featured in The Hunger, a vampire movie from the 80s starring David Bowie. What’s not to like!
The Butthole Surfers music is mostly extreme punk sludge psychedelic noise and is often unlistenable except for those who can listen to it. To see if that is you I suggest you try the wonderfully titled album “Locust Abortion Technician” but don’t say you weren’t warned.
Above quote is copyright to Azquotes