Friday, November 26, 2010

England's Dreaming

I'm not quite sure if this really makes sense, but somehow, this seems very rational to me in my own irrational universe.
Britain has always existed in its own little pop musical universe. It absorbs influences from all over the planet and then in its peculiar insular way, makes them totally undeniably, British.
American Blues? Jazz? Motown? Garage Rock?
Eric Clapton? The Northern Soul Manchester Sound? The Beatles and the Stones as the perfect examples...What could be more bizarre? Brian Jones playing the Bazouki or George Harrison and his Sitar? Yet, they both took the instruments of another culture and the sound and made it so very British...
I am beginning to see pop music as a barometer of the mood of the planet. When times are bad, the music is great. When times are good, the music sucks.
This is my attempt to co relate music and economics as seen through the microcosm of Britain.
1974: In America, Nixon resigns. The economy sucks and in Britain, there are miner strikes and power cuts. Roxy Music releases Country Life....
1976: Carter elected in America. Britain has to be bailed out by the International Monetary Fund. Things really suck. The hit single in America is The Captain and Tenniles, Love Will Keep Us Together, but in Britain, things get really good with the release of  The Sex Pistols first single, God Save The Queen.
The birth of punk as the economy slowly sinks!
1986: The economy is booming and Thatcher is is in power. The Rolling Stones release what is probablty their most forgettable record of all time, Dirty goes to #1, but can you even name a track?
1991: Recession sweeps the globe and one of the best rock records of all time is released. Nirvana'a Nevermind.
1997: New Labour and Blair come to power. We get Oasis with Be Here Now...need I say more?
2009: Capitalism collapses around our ears world wide, the music industry is eating itself, consumed by the technology it fostered....but things haven't sounded this good for years!
2010: The Tories retake the government and are caught in a hurricane of their own denial as the British economy collapses yet again. Their answer? Kill the poor with taxes and repression. I predict a glorious Punk Renaissance!
Yesterdays student demonstration in London which was brutally repressed by the police. Thousands of kids and adults were detained without charges while protesting the drastic hikes in education fees. Cick for article in The New Statesman


architectswives said...

I hope you're right Microdot about the punk renaissance.
I agree British musos are great appropriators of exotic elements from many cultures, a legacy of Britain's imperial past do you think? The Brits have such a history of transforming colonies/cultures to make them as british as possible, yet cultural influences work both ways.
This is a really interesting timeline here.
One of my favorite punk songs is This aint no picnic, by The Minutemen (not sure of exact date but early 1980s? ) 1981 Reagan replaces Carter...things are grim.

In Australia, punk thrived at around the same time as the 'dismissal' - 1975- when the visionary Labor Prime Minister Whitlam was stood down by the governor general and the conservatives were returned to power. My generation enjoyed the benefits of the systems of Whitlam's free higher education/health care...our mothers had the opportunity to attend university, transforming attitudes toward education and politics. But the misery of having such change squashed in '75 inspired many punk artists to productive heights.

When Carter is booted out and replaced by Reagan in

Interesting timeline here

microdot said...

I was such a Minutemen fan!
Mike Watt was a musical influence on me.
I think Watt is still playing, he was responsible for encouraging the reformation of the Stooges. He played bass for them for a while, until Ron Ashton's Death in 2008....
I recently saw the You Tube video of The Watt era Stooges covering Ray Of Light by Madonna at her induction into the R&R Hall of Fame...
That bordered on surreal.

architectswives said...

Fantastic - I'll look that up on YouTube. Also will see if I can detect Watt's influence in the Stooges. Not hard to imagine his influence on Microdot.
Actually- you mention surreal - and I'm thinking this is where the surrealist movement migrated to. Music...
I've been wondering why there hasn't been much intellectualinterest in the surrealists these days (I mean beyond Dali, Bunuel, who always have their fans - but the poets, political activists, philosophers and so on). The Internet and YouTube capture the spirit of surrealism (less so Facebook which seems more contrived and controlled) - for example Breton's notion of 'Random Chance'.