Entirely valid test this

So, to make things easier, I’ve invented the Sippican Cottage Musical Acid Test:

If you’re from Liverpool, and your composition is played Santuario-di-Madonna-di-San-Luca-skiffle style by five Bolognese men a half a century after you wrote it, you’re on to something with your approach to songwriting. That’s as far as I’ll go.

Akin to Bernard Levin’s idea of the historical filter.

We don’t know what it will be that survives our own cultural or artistic preoccupations and interests. But that historical filter does in fact work. We listen to more Mozart than Scalieri today and there’s nothing wrong with Scalieri’s stuff either, just Amadeus was rather better at it (or as it has been put, God simply poured his love for his creation through him).

Although we can take the odd bet on this. It’ll not be Madonna……

58 comments on “Entirely valid test this

  1. I’d bet that in 200 years, more of Classic FM’s playlist will be listened to, than Radio 3’s.

  2. I loathe the women and her entire schtick, and I may be doing irreparable damage to my street cred, but some of Madona’s stuff (that is, The Madona, not the one that people have been talking about for the past 2000 years or so) is not bad. I have a soft spot for Like a Virgin. Into the Groove has held up quite well. La Isla Bonita has already been covered a number of times, including a memorable one by the very pretty Corsican poppet Alizée.

    I would even go so far as to say that Sean Penn screwed her career. Before that, most of her work was banal but bits of it were good. After him, probably the only good song is Justify my Love and it is not that good.

    So in short I would fully expect people to do her songs in 50 years. The one Alizée covered in particular. Although I am glad I won’t be around to see five unshaven crypto-Arabs do Like a Virgin. Even if Weird Al’s version was really very good.

  3. Sadly The Beatles are disappearing from our culture. Young people have little knowledge or appreciation of them. Queen, Led Zep, Floyd, etc. are holding up well amongst the young, but the fab four are just not listened too very much. I think it all sounds a bit twee to them.

  4. Madonna’s 1980s output was exceptionally good. But it’ll never be covered by a guitar band because it’s not that kind of music.

    On the Beatles disappearing: the DJs who were teenagers in the late 1960s have now all retired. Also, parents force their musical taste on their kids; but it doesn’t go beyond that generation.

  5. Satch lives, and Bix, Jelly, Fats, …… There are people who, very reasonably, still listen to Scott Joplin and Bessie Smith.

    But most of the pop music of those eras is defunct apart from the songs written by a top ten or so: Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin (but not Isaiah), and so on.

  6. Madonna’s best stuff is already 30 years old, and you can bet yr ass it’ll still sound great and be appreciated and imitated worldwide in another 20.

    Don’t worry about your street cred, SMFS, all the cool kids know that mainstream 80’s chart music was littered with greatness, creativity, originality and the likes. Madonna was a giant and a pioneer of that age. Her best is up there with Jacko from off of when he was still black.

  7. Re: the Fab Four; I loved their music until the Abbey Road album when it all immediately became very 60s to me. The Stones, however, I still listen to. Maybe their music is more bluesy so it’s​ timeless?

  8. “The whole mindset leads to 50 year old men telling you that Motorhead is Mozart…”

    Well, to defend the late, great Lemmy, I don’t think he ever claimed he was Mozart. Didn’t even like the ‘heavy metal’ tag. He thought of Motorhead as a rock’n’roll band.

  9. Sadly The Beatles are disappearing from our culture.

    The Beatles haven’t been played on British radio forever, same as the others you mention.

    Meanwhile in the US, the Beatles are still big, as are The Who, the Stones and so on.

  10. “Meanwhile in the US, the Beatles are still big, as are The Who, the Stones and so on.”

    One of the weird things about going to Vegas was discovering how much old British music is played in the hotels there.

  11. Madonna’s stuff is as good today as it was the day it was released. She is a very talented lady. I’m sure in other respects to but what would I know, I didn’t vote for Clinton. Her new stuff is good too but less ‘classic’, and will probably remain so. Michael Jackson is another artist whose work remains very listenable and will probably remain so (“Billie Jean” and so on).

    The Cure’s work from the 80s also remains very strong, and is probably unique enough to be with us for some time, but by contrast a lot of early Depeche Mode has aged terribly.

    In general melodic music stands the test of time better so I don’t think much current rap music, say, or heavy metal (I’m a death metal fan), will be listened to in a 100 years.

  12. Madonna? I’m still listening to some of her best stuff. Some of it has aged really badly. But Like a Virgin, True Blue and Ray of Light still sound great. I’ll take any of those over late era Beatles.

  13. Always sounded a bit twee to me, Tim. And I was a teenager for the first single.
    Beetles v Stones. Beetles were a show band, until they got all pretentious. Entertainment market. The Stones started doing blues because, individually, they liked the blues. Coming together as a band clicked with the record buying public & they learned to be entertainers.

  14. “The Cure’s work from the 80s also remains very strong, and is probably unique enough to be with us for some time, ”

    Saw their tour last year, was amazing. Never was a massive fan back in the day, but you suddenly realise how many great songs they had that you recognise instantly.

  15. 80s music just was exceptionally good, there are songs that hardly anyone has heard of that are better than anything being produced today.

    Your Love by the Outfield http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4N1iwQxiHrs for example, British band, the song got to #83 in the UK charts and I have yet to meet anyone in the UK who has ever heard of it or the band. But it is a massive song in a lot of the rest of the world, it got to #6 on the US billboard and I first heard it in a nightclub in Gothenburg about five years ago where the crowd went nuts for it.

    Lots and lots of 80s one hit wonders, and for every one that was crap there was another genuinely good record.

  16. Your Love by the Outfield – I didn’t recognise the name, but the song is familiar.

    Re: Madonna – I just don’t get it. No doubt some of the songs are catchy, and the production might be good, but I can’t listen to her voice. It grates, horribly.

    Just like Cilla Black, back in the day. Fingernails on a blackboard to me.

    You want a singer? Mary J Blige. Not keen on her recorded oeuvre, but I saw her live several years ago – astounding voice – power, range and subtlety. The latter quality is well beyond Cilla & Madge, I’m afraid, who only seem to have ‘on’ or ‘off’.

  17. The Outfield get played on classic gold type stations in the UK, I listen to Sam FM quite a bit, and I’ve definitely heard that plenty of times there. Knew the song, couldn’t have named the band though.

  18. Nobody mentioned Frank Sinatra, what a shame, one of the best crooners ever. I listen to him instead of Mozart.

  19. I suppose one of the few benefits of listening to, and certainly playing, almost exclusively bluegrass is not having to fret about whether it will be relevant in another generation’s time. Most of the stuff we play is over a century old, and then some.

    Some new fella turned up in our Saturday jam session a few weeks back, was unbelievable on the guitar. Then he showed us last weekend that he’s also unbelievable on the banjo and fiddle too. He gave us a rendition of this on the banjo, made me want to throw my guitar out the window and go and do something I actually might be good at.

  20. The Beatles always were a 4 piece beat combo fronted by a gobby Scouse champagne socialist.

    At least the Rolling Stones were honest enough to tell everyone why they upped sticks to France because of the 90% top rate of income tax.

  21. @Henry Crun – although they were so appalled by their tax bills that they did write and record “Taxman”

  22. George Harrison wrote Taxman, so perhaps he was a closet libertarian in the Beatles. Personally John Lennon always put me off the Beatles, a more self indulgent hypocritical arsehole you’d be hard done by to find.

  23. ABBA’s stuff is forty-plus years old and it still stand up. Damn catchy tunes, solid hooks, and generally well-crafted pop. ‘Dancing Queen’ is a guaranteed floor-filler at any wedding reception.

  24. “‘Dancing Queen’ is a guaranteed floor-filler at any wedding reception.”

    So is Kylie Minogue’s SAW version of The Locomotion.

  25. “But that historical filter does in fact work.”

    It’s a bit fickle. Mozart was almost lost for a hundred years as hardly anyone was interested. Early music and the baroque for even longer.

    Of course, if the savages of the ROP get hold of the filter of history, it’ll all be gone forever.

  26. Beg to differ … I would not have admitted this in 1984, or imagined it, but I do think that some stuff from Madonna’s peak period around 1990 will have some staying power.

  27. Tim Newman: did you see the Rich Hall documentary on country music? One claim that was made (and I don’t know if it’s true or not) was that bluegrass as it’s currently known only appeared in the 1940s.

    I don’t find Rich Hall that funny but it was a good programme.

  28. did you see the Rich Hall documentary on country music? One claim that was made (and I don’t know if it’s true or not) was that bluegrass as it’s currently known only appeared in the 1940s.

    I didn’t see the documentary, but that would be about right: the bluegrass style of banjo picking started around then with Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs and those boys. Before that it would have been clawhammer/old time style of banjo playing, which wouldn’t have been called bluegrass. The songs would have been the same though, and a lot of them date as far back as the mid-19th century, and there isn’t a huge difference between the styles to be honest: the guitarist, fiddler, and mandolinist would be playing in the same way. Nowadays the term “bluegrass” generally means “bluegrass/old time/folk” music.

  29. Every time someone says that music today is terrible compared to that from years ago I have to point out that we no longer listen to the crap. For as long as there have been musicians there have been crap musicians no one bothers to remember.

    With regards to Madonna she has made her fair share of crap. In my opinion she also had a few decent songs in the 1980’s. I expect at least a couple to make the classical playlists in a century. I doubt anything from Madonna will be the best remembered song by a female pop singer from the 80’s though. Cindi Lauper’s “Time after time” is the ditty I expect to win that title.

  30. Have a listen to some of cyndi laupers acoustic stuff and covers of old songs, very underrated artist and singer.
    Time after time is pure gold classic, do like the everything but the girl acoustic cover though, their covers of downtown train and Alison are pretty good too

  31. There’s no doubt that taste is as taste does; people will like different sorts of music.

    I have to say that I don’t rate anything by Madonna as other than “pop”, and if there’s one band that can cause me to flee a shop or mall where it is played, that is ABBA. At least for me, playing “Dancing Queen” at a wedding will have most people I know leave the area as rapidly as politely possible.

    The again, i did cause a few heads to turn yesterday when on a hot day I had the car windows down and the radio was playing the overture to “La Cerentola” at some volume. Wonderful stuff, but I do completely acknowledge that’s just IMHO (and I do mean the H).

    And just to throw in a relatively new “discovery”, some acoustic Hot Tuna work with Jorma Kaukonen, especially the “Good Shepherd” is beautifully performed.

    Enjoy what you like, but (contra my open window stuff) one should try to avoid inflicting one’s “taste” on others too excessively.

  32. GlenDorran

    To amplify on what Tim Newman said, yes, Rich Hall was correct. There are a myriad of ways to play the banjo: up-picking, down-picking, two-finger, three-finger, clawhammer, Round Top, Seeger-style, etc. For some reason, the folk revival of the early 1960’s seems to have settled on clawhammer as The Authentic Style of old-time banjo when that isn’t actually true.

    Bill Monroe had a band called ‘The Bluegrass Boys’ (‘Bluegrass’ being a reference to his home state of Kentucky, AKA ‘The Bluegrass State’). He had some damn fine musicians in his band, including a guitarist named Lester Flat. In late 1945 he added Earl Scruggs, a banjo player who had his own unique three-fingered up-picking style, using metal picks on his fingers. It was Scruggs’s technique that would eventually come to be synonymous with ‘bluegrass music’.

    So yeah, Rich Hall was right. Bluegrass is not a traditional American roots style, but very much a post-war invention.

    BTW, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs eventually left Bill Monroe’s band and formed their own duo. There were the ones who did the theme song for The Beverley Hillbillies.

  33. Ed Snack

    Major kudos for shouting out Jorma Kaukonen. The man is a serious finger-style genius.

    FWIW, the last song played on the last episode of Friends was Kaukonen playing ‘Embryonic Journey”, a track from back when he was still with Jefferson Airplane.

  34. I wonder if the fragmentation of the music market will affect the way that music will be remembered in the future.

    The great pop and rock songs of the past had vast audiences, principally because of the way that music was filtered through and promoted by the music companies of the day.

    Nowadays there are a myriad of different genres with very little crossover between them. It doesn’t help that radio is no longer the principle way that people consume music.

    There was a discussion not long ago about the common cultural experience that people had through television, where people coming in to work could talk about the Two Ronnies or whatever, mainly because there was literally nothing else on. Nowadays I ask the kids what they’re listening to, or look at the listings for the local O2 Academy, and I do not recognize any of the names at all. Ask them if they have heard of the Beatles and I get a blank look. They listen to no radio, very little music, and what they do listen to, they get from Youtube.

    With regards to Madonna, the other half is a serious fan so I get to listen to a whole lot more than I would normally care to. She ain’t no singer that’s for sure, but she’s a musical chameleon with her finger on the pulse. I liked her collaboration with Orbit for Ray of Light, and a lot of her more dancy tunes. Being forced to listen to her entire back catalogue in the car brings it home to you just how many hit songs she has had and over such a long career. Even the ones that aren’t great are not too bad either, and whether you like her or not she has had a huge impact on the musical scene. As for Cindi Lauper, I loathed her then and loath her now. Her musical contribution wont outlast my generation…

    Finally, speaking as someone who has no musical talent whatsoever, I took up playing the banjo (clawhammer style) a couple years ago after listening to Stringbean playing “Run Rabbit Run” with Earl Scruggs and Lester Flat.

    There are some seriously awesome players out there who can make the banjo do amazing things, especially those who play Scruggs style. Some of them not even teenagers yet! I have a long way to go…
    There’s plenty of banjo stuff on Youtube too. I’ve enjoyed a lot of the Grand Ole Opry stuff and if you didn’t know, Steve Martin (the comedian) & the Steep Canyon Rangers have pretty good album out too.

  35. @ Liberal Yank

    Sure we don’t listen to the crap anymore, but the week the Outfield hit #6 in the US, this was the top 40

    1 2 WEST END GIRLS –•– Pet Shop Boys – 11 (1)
    2 1 ADDICTED TO LOVE –•– Robert Palmer – 14 (1)
    3 7 GREATEST LOVE OF ALL –•– Whitney Houston – 7 (3)
    4 4 WHY CAN’T THIS BE LOVE –•– Van Halen – 9 (4)
    5 6 WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY –•– Janet Jackson – 12 (5)
    6 8 YOUR LOVE –•– The Outfield – 13 (6)
    7 9 TAKE ME HOME –•– Phil Collins – 9 (7)
    8 11 BAD BOY –•– Miami Sound Machine featuring Gloria Estefan – 10 (8)
    9 5 HARLEM SHUFFLE –•– Rolling Stones – 9 (5)
    10 12 IF YOU LEAVE –•– Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – 10 (10)

    11 14 LIVE TO TELL –•– Madonna – 5 (11)
    12 3 KISS –•– Prince & The Revolution – 12 (1)
    13 16 ON MY OWN –•– Patti Labelle & Michael McDonald – 8 (13)
    14 17 I CAN’T WAIT –•– Nu Shooz – 10 (14)
    15 18 SOMETHING ABOUT YOU –•– Level 42 – 13 (15)
    16 13 AMERICAN STORM –•– Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – 9 (13)
    17 21 ALL I NEED IS A MIRACLE –•– Mike + The Mechanics – 8 (17)
    18 10 MANIC MONDAY –•– The Bangles – 16 (2)
    19 23 IS IT LOVE –•– Mr. Mister – 7 (19)
    20 25 BE GOOD TO YOURSELF –•– Journey – 5 (20)

    21 27 MOVE AWAY –•– Culture Club – 6 (21)
    22 29 NEVER AS GOOD AS THE FIRST TIME –•– Sade – 7 (22)
    23 28 ROUGH BOY –•– ZZ Top – 7 (23)
    24 15 ROCK ME AMADEUS –•– Falco – 14 (1)
    25 32 CRUSH ON YOU –•– The Jets – 5 (25)
    26 20 WHAT YOU NEED –•– INXS – 17 (5)
    27 19 LET’S GO ALL THE WAY –•– Sly Fox – 20 (7)
    28 37 THERE’LL BE SAD SONGS –•– Billy Ocean – 4 (28)
    29 22 I THINK IT’S LOVE –•– Jermaine Jackson – 12 (16)
    30 34 TOMORROW DOESN’T MATTER TONIGHT –•– Starship – 6 (30)

    31 36 NO ONE IS TO BLAME –•– Howard Jones – 5 (31)
    32 33 STICK AROUND –•– Julian Lennon – 8 (32)
    33 40 NOTHIN’ AT ALL –•– Heart – 4 (33)
    34 35 FEEL IT AGAIN –•– Honeymoon Suite – 10 (34)
    35 38 MOTHERS TALK –•– Tears For Fears – 5 (35)
    36 39 ALL THE THINGS SHE SAID –•– Simple Minds – 6 (36)
    37 44 A DIFFERENT CORNER –•– George Michael – 3 (37)
    38 24 TENDER LOVE –•– Force MD’s – 15 (10)
    39 26 I DO WHAT I DO –•– John Taylor – 10 (23)
    40 50 HOLDING BACK THE YEARS –•– Simply Red – 6 (40)

    31 years later I could sing at least 25% of them without even thinking about it. Play me a few bars of them and I could probably get it up to 40%, that’s some pretty good longevity.

  36. magnusw – “31 years later I could sing at least 25% of them without even thinking about it. Play me a few bars of them and I could probably get it up to 40%, that’s some pretty good longevity.”

    Well Falco certainly does not get the recognition he deserves. Whatever happened to the nice Austrian anyway?

    However this is not a reflection of the longevity of the music but of our memory. Basically everyone thinks the music of their late teens and early twenties was the best ever. And we are a bunch of tragics who will never see 50 again.

    I feel sorry for the people who will remember BritPop fondly.

    Can sing the chorus to:

    1 2 WEST END GIRLS –•– Pet Shop Boys – 11 (1)
    2 1 ADDICTED TO LOVE –•– Robert Palmer – 14 (1)
    3 7 GREATEST LOVE OF ALL –•– Whitney Houston – 7 (3)
    4 4 WHY CAN’T THIS BE LOVE –•– Van Halen – 9 (4)
    5 6 WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY –•– Janet Jackson – 12 (5)
    8 11 BAD BOY –•– Miami Sound Machine featuring Gloria Estefan – 10 (8)
    9 5 HARLEM SHUFFLE –•– Rolling Stones – 9 (5)
    10 12 IF YOU LEAVE –•– Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – 10 (10)
    11 14 LIVE TO TELL –•– Madonna – 5 (11)
    12 3 KISS –•– Prince & The Revolution – 12 (1)
    13 16 ON MY OWN –•– Patti Labelle & Michael McDonald – 8 (13)
    17 21 ALL I NEED IS A MIRACLE –•– Mike + The Mechanics – 8 (17)
    18 10 MANIC MONDAY –•– The Bangles – 16 (2)
    21 27 MOVE AWAY –•– Culture Club – 6 (21)
    22 29 NEVER AS GOOD AS THE FIRST TIME –•– Sade – 7 (22)
    24 15 ROCK ME AMADEUS –•– Falco – 14 (1)
    26 20 WHAT YOU NEED –•– INXS – 17 (5)
    27 19 LET’S GO ALL THE WAY –•– Sly Fox – 20 (7)
    28 37 THERE’LL BE SAD SONGS –•– Billy Ocean – 4 (28)
    30 34 TOMORROW DOESN’T MATTER TONIGHT –•– Starship – 6 (30)
    31 36 NO ONE IS TO BLAME –•– Howard Jones – 5 (31)
    33 40 NOTHIN’ AT ALL –•– Heart – 4 (33)
    35 38 MOTHERS TALK –•– Tears For Fears – 5 (35)
    36 39 ALL THE THINGS SHE SAID –•– Simple Minds – 6 (36)
    40 50 HOLDING BACK THE YEARS –•– Simply Red – 6 (40)

    Cannot remember the chorus to:

    6 8 YOUR LOVE –•– The Outfield – 13 (6)
    7 9 TAKE ME HOME –•– Phil Collins – 9 (7)
    14 17 I CAN’T WAIT –•– Nu Shooz – 10 (14)
    15 18 SOMETHING ABOUT YOU –•– Level 42 – 13 (15)
    16 13 AMERICAN STORM –•– Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – 9 (13)
    19 23 IS IT LOVE –•– Mr. Mister – 7 (19)
    20 25 BE GOOD TO YOURSELF –•– Journey – 5 (20)
    23 28 ROUGH BOY –•– ZZ Top – 7 (23)
    25 32 CRUSH ON YOU –•– The Jets – 5 (25)
    29 22 I THINK IT’S LOVE –•– Jermaine Jackson – 12 (16)
    32 33 STICK AROUND –•– Julian Lennon – 8 (32)
    34 35 FEEL IT AGAIN –•– Honeymoon Suite – 10 (34)
    37 44 A DIFFERENT CORNER –•– George Michael – 3 (37)
    38 24 TENDER LOVE –•– Force MD’s – 15 (10)
    39 26 I DO WHAT I DO –•– John Taylor – 10 (23)

    I am surprised by that ZZ Top one. I should know it.

  37. Weird Al’s version of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” was actually written (in outline) by Madonna!

  38. Then you get to the late 80’s / early 90’s stuff:

    Stone Roses
    Happy Mondays
    Sisters of Mercy
    Neds Atomic Dustbin
    Jesus Jones
    U2 (before Bono’s asshole transformation)
    Guns n Roses
    New Order

    I try to like modern bands but Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys etc just leave me cold…

  39. Aaargh I forgot Teenage Fanclub

    If you’ve never heard Grand Prix, give it a spin.

    An utterly perfect pop record…

  40. @ magnusw

    What really matters is not what we remember but what our great^x grandchildren remember.

    As an uneducated, by life experience, youth I wore cross colors. I wouldn’t do the same now. I don’t expect my great-grandchildren will wear the same(mostly because cross colors were the most hideous thing since the ’70’s).

    I do expect my great grandchildren to listen to the best of the best of what I grew up with. Pet Shop Boys sadly doesn’t make the list but Madonna’s Like a Prayer does.(You can’t go wrong with a song that tacitly refers to sexual acts. In this case it is the BJ which happens to be the name of a popular warehouse club in the Eastern US, BJ’s). Historically significant music does indeed have to appeal to the next generation. Most of my favorite songs, ty for allowing me to give a shout out to The Scorpions for Wind of Change won’t make sense out of context. While you and I agree that West End Girls has meaning that probably won’t translate in the future. Kids tomorrow won’t understand the allure of West End(I’ve always assumed this to be the west end of London, which is calling if you weren’t aware.) Girls. It is only the music that is timeless that will remain. What will last is only that which will appeal to kids time after time.

    I am happy to promote Cindi(She’s a red-head so I assume our host will approve. Thank you for providing the opportunity to get that line in.) because the lyrics transcend day-to-day events. Few other bands have been able to manage the same. Those that do are the ones that sang to highlight the children and similar timeless issues.

    The future only requires being remembered positively. Sponsor those that make you look ideal and history will remember you kindly.

  41. “I feel sorry for the people who will remember BritPop fondly.”

    That’s my era. If you swept up 90% of the bands you’d get one catchy, if wholly uninventive, album.

    But most of what Blur and Pulp did stands up very well, and whilst not without great flaws, the first Oasis album is an inadvertent work of brilliance.

  42. “That’s my era. If you swept up 90% of the bands you’d get one catchy, if wholly uninventive, album.

    But most of what Blur and Pulp did stands up very well, and whilst not without great flaws, the first Oasis album is an inadvertent work of brilliance.”

    I disagree about Blur. I think they were very much a fashion band, had the right image for the time, part of the scene, but the songwriting isn’t that good.

    I agree about Definitely, Maybe, and there’s a couple of Pulp albums I think are excellent.

    My favourite albums of the era are Odelay, OK Computer, Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, Definitely Maybe, Different Class, Jagged Little Pill, Leftism and Maxinquaye.

  43. The Thought Gang – “the first Oasis album is an inadvertent work of brilliance.”

    And so the discussion comes a full circle back to the start – the Beatles were such a good band that a second rate cover band still managed to produce an excellent album.

    (OK, I kid, I kid, but yeah, yeah, naah)

  44. Amusing though, I was certainly around and listening to music in the 80’s, and I don’t think I recognise a single song/tune in that top 40 list. Where the hell WAS I ?

    My wife remembers 13 out of 40, possibly more if she listened to them (so she says). My son (early 20’s) recognises a few of the artists but not the songs – possibly because he’s a metal fan anyway.

  45. @SMFS

    Indeed indeed, but what makes Definitely Maybe a great record is that whilst Noel could pen decent sub-Macca tunes, the rest of the players were hacks.. and early Liam’s vocals were a raw, sneering, and furious mesh of all sorts of things.

    When Oasis got rich and the Gallaghers started to replace their mates with people who could play, the descended into ever decreasing pale imitations of their heroes. But for a while there they were a bunch of lads with decent tunes and an exemplary frontman, having fun trying to be rock stars.

    @ BiW

    Respectfully, I think you are very wrong about blur. But fair enough. Radiohead were never. Britpop band though. They were US-style angst rock and then, with OKC, something very much of their own. Where many of the bands of the time, including blur and Pulp, achieved as a part of that ‘thing’, Radiohead (like, say, R.E.M… their only peers, to my ears) would have achieved irrespective of what everyone else was doing.

  46. Like the Thoughtgang, Britpop is my era, and with 20th anniversaries etc rolling around, it’s been back in the news again, with some (rather good) documentaries put together by Lamacq and others.

    The issue with Britpop for me is that it’s become linked to post 97 social/political changes, and as such, people have stopped talking about the music- the bands that get lumped together are a much more diverse bunch than is commonly acknowledged.

    Sure, you had some Menswear/Bennett/Marion/Shed Seven shite in there (although the guy from Bennett- Jason Applin*- has just released a very good solo LP as Here are the Young Men).

    To take just three other bands: What about Supergrass? Solid pop punk veering into Psych and some serious grown up stuff by the time the mid 2000’s rolled round.

    Bluetones? Their first LP knocked Oasis’ What’s the Story off the no 1 spot in the charts. They did some great jangly pop, before veering off into very dark territories by the time their last album rolled round, after creating a very English third album, and a fantastic new wave record in album no 4.

    Suede- the best debut triptych of singles (if that is such a thing) since the Sex Pistols, each of which had cracking B-Sides. I’m not a fan of their post Butler stuff, and Anderson’s Anthony Newley on helium approach to singing isn’t my personal favourite, but they were a class act at the time, and have consistently remained interesting.

    So without going into your Radioheads, Primal Screams, Oasises and Pulps (all of whom are overrated, to varying degrees and in varying ways) you’ve got bands worthy of serious plaudits who were always just *there* (and there are dozens more like them- Stereophonics were a big big act as well, and who calls them Britpop? Verve? Boo Radleys?), who did well, but apparently havent stayed in people’s minds. And this is before your not-boys-with-guitars bands like Leftfield, Underworld, Orbital, Aphex Twin, the Orb, or your punkier mob (Compulsion- who had a genius single in Basketcase), your poppier bods (Silver Sun- Last Day) or your crossover acts (Collapsed Lung- known for Eat my Goal, but much better on Down with the Plaid Fad)

    All of these were active between Cobain dying and Be Here Now being released, and yet people say Britpop is Blur, Oasis, Pulp and a bunch of shit guitar bands.

    Lazy thinking

  47. Oh, and BiW is right about Blur.

    In fact, the thing that is most remarkable about Blur is that they toiled for so long, and released so few genuinely great bits of music- Sing, right at the very start and Music is my Radar, right at the end.

    *Fun Bennett fact: I forgot to add in the above post- their singer recorded the jingle for Cheerios (“Cheery Rice and wheat/full of cheery goodness/ very small and neat”). Far better than anything else they did.

  48. Suede are definitely a very underrated 90s band. I can still remember exactly where I was when I heard Animal Nitrate for the first time and thought ‘This is fucking brilliant, what and who the hell is it???’

  49. “It’s a bit fickle. Mozart was almost lost for a hundred years as hardly anyone was interested. Early music and the baroque for even longer.”

    Absolutely. If it hadn’t been for Mendelssohn the glories of J S Bach would be largely unknown to us.

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