I’ve been raving to anyone that will listen (the cats mainly) about the fantastic new album by Luke Haines called Smash The System. I reviewed it a couple of weeks ago and I just fell in love with it immediately and have played it countless times since. However, it’s not really this record that I’m going to bat on about today; it’s about one line to one song on the record. This one line comes from a song where the aforementioned Mr Haines sings about his love for the Incredible String Band and is along the lines of “They may take a while to get into but you should give them a try” and this got me thinking.
We’re a lazy bunch when it comes to our listening to new music habits and we’re the ones who actually really, really love music. Those sad fools whose musical input is limited to the whitewashed, homogenised slurry we get pumped into our living rooms every Saturday night by the likes of X Factor are even worse. They’re happy to sit back and let the tide of filth wash over them, blissful in their ignorance that out there in the real three dimensional world there exists musicians creating music that is original, vibrant and innovative. There was a time when entertainment involved a degree of interaction, and I don’t mean uploading some pathetic video of yourself and your significant other miming along to some dismal pop ditty whilst the clever fellas that make the app you have to download pop all kinds of clever graphics over your collective bonces. No, I’m talking about getting out, getting yourself in front of some live music and leaping about like some deranged nut job that’s just been given a day release pass from the local nut house (I’m not sure you’re allowed to call them that any more…sorry) and has forgotten to take their medication that keeps them sedated and calm.
Come to think of it, isn’t that just what this senseless, moronic dross that oozes into our living rooms is – a drug to keep us safe and out of harms way. Off the streets and happy to been spoon-fed whatever Simon Cowell and his minions deem to think will be marketable and will sell to the sheeple out there in television land. The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy had it about right with their ditty ‘Television, The Drug of The Nation’ when they said “One Nation under God / has turned into One Nation / under the influence of one drug / Television, the drug of the nation” Of course the clever marketing types at TVHQ, with their demographic charts and their sharpened pencils will allow you to cast your vote so you maintain the illusion that you are actually having a say in the outcome of the spectacle that is laid before you. Spectacle?…it’s a smorgasbord of blundering ineptitude on an epic scale and the sad thing is we’ve fallen for it. We’ve taken the worm and swallowed the hook, line and the sinker. Wasn’t it Emma Goldman who said something along the lines of “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal!” ?
And many of these acts don’t care a hoot about their audience so long as the cash till keeps ringing and the money keeps on flooding into their already overflowing pockets. Look at Bieber and his pathetic flouncing off stage at a recent Manchester gig because his prepubescent, subordinate fans couldn’t control themselves from screaming. These people paid good money to see you perform and you should have had the courtesy to afford them some consideration and play your pitiful music for them. Then again, I’m sure many of the acts these days play to a backing track and have their voices so mangled by the Autotune algorithms that it may as well be some automaton up there on the stage…oh hang on a minute!
Music should be revolutionary; music should make you move and should inspire you to question the status quo…not the twelve bar blue specialists, the other one. But no, we’re sat in our little bubbles, on our overstuffed sofas, with our bursting at the seams backsides, filling our faces with over-processed, potentially lethal sustenance and washing it down with the intellectually bereft cocktail of, as Zappa may have said, “The best that the 21st century has to offer” and we’re loving ever bit of it and consuming it faster than the money men can count. I confess to watching the aforementioned carnival of bunkum recently and there’s a rapper on the UK version that goes by the name Honey G or some such and she is the most abhorrent example of this watered down pith that presents itself as edgy and street I’ve yet to see. No doubt she’s living the dream, but when the dream is sugar coated guano you have to ask what kind of nightmarish cesspit have we painted ourselves into.
It doesn’t have to be like this! There’s live music on all the time and in most towns. Even it it’s an old fella on some spoons and his mate wailing drunkenly along on a miserable, rainy afternoon in a scruffy back street pub, at least it’s live and at least it’s real! There really is no excuse for this apathy people. Take back your lives, take back your right to dance like a gibbon with Tourette’s and take back the music from these parasitic leeches that are sucking the very lifeblood out of what we hold so dear. What is stopping you? There is life beyond the bubble and the sinister glowing fiend in the corner of your living room, go and take a peek. You never know you just may enjoy it!
And it doesn’t stop there! Refuse to be hoodwinked by this subterfuge and don’t buy the records, don’t push the button and download the mp3s of these puppets of pop. Say no to their app, decline their YouTube snippet and reject their advances on social media. Search out real musicians that believe in their art and who put their lives and souls into laying bare their emotions in front of you when you play their music.
Back in the dim and distant past some music was difficult and did take, just like The Incredible String Band mentioned in my opening salvo, time to get into and fully appreciate. But we did take time and we did search out music that was a bit leftfield. It was almost a badge of honour to play your friends some obscure and incomprehensible piece of music that they’d never heard before and I for one took great delight in this whole process. And friends would do likewise, as if to say “Yeh, your taste is a bit out there but mine’s completely away with the faeries!” Where would the likes of Captain Beefheart have got had people not embraced their inner weird and taken his music to their hearts. I’m ranting like a loon I’m well aware and I’m also well aware that candy-coated pap has been peddled by the record companies for years, but it’s more menacing now. We know collectively that we’re been manipulated and that we’re been sold a clever package of carefully positioned product and yet we still allow it to perpetuate through our lack of willingness to stand up and collectively say “No more!”.
Stuart is on holiday and his head has been temporarily used to house the previously missing brain of Ulrike Meinhof (pictured).