An Old Pair of Slippers & Some Shiny New Boots
Morning, its 7.40 & I'm Playing AC/DC Highway to Hell
Which made me start thinking about at which point does a band go from being cutting edge to nostalgia? When or If we can accept bands changing their sound?
My main aim when I restarted buying Vinyl was to replace my album collection I had on CD with Vinyl. How has that been working out?
I've replaced all of the AC/DC through charity shops, All of the Slayer albums on remastered. Also I'm working my way through Motorhead (there's a lot of them). There is other bits & pieces I've picked up along the way by Metallica, Anthrax, Nuclear Assault, Overkill. Ah! you say a pattern is emerging.
True even though I started discovering music & grew up in the 80's the glam or hair metal thing meant nothing to me at all. In fact I disliked it immensely. If I wanted to listen to an ugly bunch of drag queens singing about sex I would have bought records by the spice girls or something!
As for Iron Maiden, Judas Priest & the Trad metal bands? I can take or leave them, & mainly I chose to Leave them. This may be blasphemy to a lot of metal heads but I was a teenager who was knee deep in the underground & singing deeper by the second. Thrash Metal was the underdog music & The cutting edge.
HARDER! FASTER! HEAVIER!
It's almost Impossible to imagine the colossus that is Metallica being an underground band & truth be told they didn't stay there long, but once apon a time (1985) they were Kings of the underground, placed halfway down the bill at the Monsters of Rock, sandwiched between Ratt & Bon Jovi!!!! This was considered a bold move by the promoters but it also marked the changing of the guard. There is something new happening & it makes what went before obsolete. or it seems that way at age 15 & you're at war with the world.
Metallica as we know got everything they dreamed of ....or feared, & become platinum shifting , stadium straddling mega-stars. even if they don't or won't admit it. They like other bands who have gone the distance face the question of relevance. Albums in their early albums get branded classics, & their audience just wants a greatest hits delivery as opposed to four tracks from latest opus. instead of working out the next heavyweight riff, they are having conversations with heavy weight management about demographics, untapped territories, new streams of revenue. The gap between albums stretches into years as their time is taken up by longer tours to reach these untapped territories & quality dips. When album does emerge it goes to number 1 in 22 countries for a week then disappears.
Where they used to tour in clapped out van with 3 mates acting as roadies, now they private jet it with road manager & 3 crews leapfrogging each other in convoy of 40 foots. One crew to dismantle stage from previous show, one for tonight’s show, one. & one to set up stage for next show.Suddenly they have a lot of people on payroll relying on them for income, a lot of responsibilities, a lot of pressure, the record companies 2nd quarter profits are on their shoulders.....hmm is this why they stared playing music? So they go out & give stadium what they want. The hits.
This bleeds down to the audience too, but its not success that begs question about relevance but age.
Sadly, no one stays 20 forever. As you become a middle aged music fan, (which I am and limping towards my half century) its very easy to fall in to trap of just playing music you love as background. & stop really just listening. Other things become priorities, be they kids, mortgage, career.
The music of your youth which was once rebellious, dangerous, heavy, is now industry approved & mainstream. Now for all intents & purposes it's as dangerous as an old pair of slippers. You can easily slip them on & relax in your comfort zone. This is fine & dandy if it makes you happy,
This is only able to happen because of laziness & the trap of being complacent.
Record companies take whatever is edgy smooth out roughness & hey presto here’s more of the same but less original, less innovative, less everything. It becomes homogenized beyond recognition. Casting the widest net possible to appeal to the biggest demographic...(there's that word again)
"Here's your happy meal "
There are several bands who are now headliners who, for instance took , Metallica’s career path & used it as blueprint or map instead off cutting their own route into music world. It's as manufactured as any boyband or x-factor singer but less honest. Avenge Sevenfold allegedly bring a stylist on tour. As we know nothing screams "METAL!!!" more than someone telling you what to wear!!!!
Every couple of years you have a reaction against what has become bloated & a careerist scene. Punk showed up prog as pompous rubbish or Grunge which wiped out hair metal overnight, both Punk & Grunge were centered in urban areas almost exclusively & in the case of Grunge one city Seattle was the well spring. Secondly they both had huge effects on music industry & fashion. Was there ever a more pathetic sight than Miley Cyrus in a high street Sex Pistols T-shirt or Naomi Campbell in a designer plaid shirt costing £1500 & Doc Martins? (I never wore plaid myself, but my Brother used to but them for £2.50 in the Eager Beaver shop in Temple Bar, Dublin)
Which brings me to my original mission replacing my old cds. As I said I'm working my way through Motorhead's history album by album. I recently played "Ace of Spades" album. when I first bought it I thought it was heaviest fastest music ever, but even though it still sounds great & I still love it, I'm was always more excited about the new Motorhead album coming out, and they would still be putting out new music if Lemmy was still walking among us mere mortals. .
Nothing is as exciting as the NOW.
It was all going fine till I bought on a whim "Blood Lust" by Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats...then everything changed. It was like Suron becoming aware the one ring still excised. My focus changed & narrowed, The swing to Stoner & Doom was not just me but is a worldwide movement with great bands coming not just from the U.S. & the U.K. but from any country you can name Ireland, France, Italy too far a field as the Ukraine & |Poland. Black Sabbath have always been an important band but now they have become almost a beacon for bands & fans alike
This is the real difference is that its totally fan driven, The bands, the One man run labels, the people going to the gigs & buying the albums sustain this music on their own. there is no major record labels sniffing around looking for the next "Nirvana" The mainstream music press & almost uniformly ignoring it even more so than mainstream metal....
Electric Wizard, Yob, Monster Magnet, St. Vitus & other bands who have put in years playing this music when it was almost dead are now revered as almost Avatars
(No not blue aliens from over rated movie, but a manifestation of a deity on earth; an incarnate divine teacher...Yes I own a dictionary!!)
That's not to say it isn't fashionable, it is hugely so, but not in a way that will bleed on to the Glastonbury, Reading, or Download stages any time soon. It has it's own festivals Freak Valley, Road Burn, & Desert Fest just to mention a few. It is growing & has it's own momentum
So even as I go along collecting my old albums again I am hoovering up as many Stoner & Doom albums as my modest budget allows. Is it some desperate attempt to stay young? or to be cool? No I'm well aware of my age (my joints remind me every day) & I was a metal head from the suburbs so I've never been cool...but I'm cool with that.
I think the fact that so much good music is being made by new bands & older bands are stepping up their game, That I'm so excited & my head is spinning trying to keep up
We are only just over the three month point of the year & off top of my head we have had great albums by Dead Witches, Crypt Trip, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, & representing the old Skool, Candlemass have released strongest album in years. There is still albums to come from St.Vitus, The Well, Crowbar, and plnety of others. How Will I get to replace all my old music on Vinyl?
Increasingly it seems unlikely but who needs to when I have Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats?