Tuesday, 9 August 2011

About Influences - Part 2

After such a promising start, music seemed to lose the plot in the early 70's.

Folk disappeared and Rock 'n' Roll was unofficially abolished.  Soul morphed into Disco, and Metal split into cheesy Power Pop on the one hand and some kind of demonic cartoon on the other.  Prog Rock became so bloated and pretentious is started to suffocate itself.  You sure couldn't dance to it.

What a godsend, then, when Punk opened a door for the New Wave explosion in the late 70's.  Suddenly things were fresh and energetic again.  We had guitar hooks, palm-muted shuffles, catchy harmonies and energetic beats.  We even had a return to boy-meets-girl lyrics, though with a lot more irony and menace than we got in the 50's and 60's.

And it wasn't copycat stuff.  The Cars, The Police, The Pretenders  ...  the new bands created a new sound even while they made us feel it was 1965 all over again.  New harmonies, new technologies, and new attitudes - all added fresh life to old ideas.  Artists like Elvis Costello and Tom Petty got to the very root of things, sounding authentic, yet current and relevant at the same time.

Then is all went wrong again.

The guitars were replaced by synths, the leather and denim were replaced by spandex, bad hair proliferated, and the 80's became a virtual wasteland. 

Somewhere in there I realized that you couldn't even hear a guitar on the records I was buying.  That's when I started filling out my record collection with stuff I had missed the first time around. 

That process required a bit of thought and introspection;  I had to analyse what it was I really liked, and why.  Part of the answer was obvious, of course:  guitar-based rock 'n' roll, creatively presented and expertly produced.

The other part of the answer was an overdue surprise:  the thread that held everything I'd ever loved together, the foundation on which all this wonderful music had been built ... was The Blues.

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