Friday, 27 June 2014

Three Reasons The Metallica Glastonbury Scandal Amuses Me

So, according to a recent survey, 4 out of 5 people who bought Glastonbury (AKA "Glasto", according to the BBC's attempts to make it sound hip to its newly cultivated audience) would like to have sold on their tickets to the big corporate hippy-fest once they found out that the one of the biggest metal bands in pop is going to headline one of the evenings. And this did make me giggle most highly, for a number of reasons, mostly including:

Because it's Metallica!

Yeah, I'm one of those bitter bastards that thinks Metallica gave up on their roots and sold out when they released the Black Album and started suing their fans for use of Napster, even thought tape trading (aka "Music Piracy") is why the band formed and (according to Lars Ulrich) how the band got big. So I'm enjoying some schadenfreude about this, which I'm sure they can't give a crap about as they are one of the biggest bands on the planet and will cry into their money and acclaim to just carry on regardless.

They are one of the most respected and loved bands in heavy metal (BASTARDS!) so I can't see them giving much of a crap about this poll. It could be 99% for all they care and they would still turn up, do their thing incredibly well, and then head off to another gig full of people that like them and not give a rats arse. Even though a lot of people, including people outside of the metal world, do like them (ref The Black Album onwards) and will be more than happy to lose their shit to Enter Sandman and "that one from Mission Impossible". A bunch of pseduo-hippy accountants are acting like one act is going to kill their buzz, even though it's going to get people moving and loving a bit of the old guitar action when they actually hear it . But even then it doesn't matter....

Because it's Glastonbury

Take a guess how many metal bands have already played Glastonbury. If your answer was more than "none, ever" then you're wrong, and you're missing the point of why they were booked. This is a wild card booking, an attempt to mix things up. They were always going to go down like a bucket of sick because this is not a metal event. But it's an event with 100+ acts (so people are reacting to one act on the bill), covering a wild range of tastes, so anyone complaining about something a bit left field turning up is missing the point. And the point is: Michael Eavis doesn't give a fuck. Never has, never will (one of the reasons I like him). The event is run like no other, mostly him going "oooh, I wonder who I want to book this year" and making a couple of phone calls. My money says he wanted to get some edge going with this booking AND he likes the band.
And when I say "like no other" I'm leading onto my key point....

The Survey Was Done By A Ticket Company

Yeah, it's all about the money. Viagogo (and others) are pissed because the Glastonbury ticket buying process is "buy on spec, and then not be able to resell your ticket once the headlines are announced". You know, like through a ticket sales company like.... Viagogo! They can't make money off of Glastonbury, and this sticks in their craw. So they get some bullshit survey done to try and make the re-selling of the tickets sound like a good plan. But that won't work, because Michael Eavis. This is a pure marketing tactic, a total money grab. There is no scandal, just a bunch of ticket scalps who want to force Glastonbury into changing its ticket policy.

So this isn't about the act (who people will enjoy) and it isn't about some weird "no one but metal heads likes one of the most accessible metal acts of the last 20 years" thing. It's about wanting to re-sell tickets and make some money. Which is totally not  a Glastonbury thing, so frankly anyone moaning about it can shut up. Unless they ask to hear something from "Kill 'Em All", in which case they should be let loose on the PA all night long.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

And Man Created God - Borghesia

It's an impressive feat to be both as pissed off and laid back as Borghesia are, but they manage to pull it off with great aplomb in their latest album And Man Created God. They also manage to fix a banjo and a Hawaiian slide guitar into an EBM album, so they are quite clearly mental and more than happy to play with touches of Americana whilst keeping bits of their native Slovenia sound. Good news is that it works, it works very well.

More playful art than experimentation it's all highly accessible, if easy listening songs about the dangers of capitalism are your thing, and never gets dull through repetition or too high a concept. Nothing is heavy in here, although some of it is a little compact and demands more than one listen so you are sure you've heard everything.

Standout track goes to opener "We Don't Believe You", sounding halfway between a workers protest song and the theme tune to a 50s western, with "Shoot Out The Clocks" just behind, whilst the Most Danceable award goes to the rather fantastic "My Life Is My Message", . However those are very hard picks to make, as there isn't a duff track among the nine of them. Previews can be found here, but my advice is to get the lot of them if you are after something interesting, uplifting, and thoughtful.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Punk's Not Dead, a rebuttal to Bill Drummond

Being up to date on everything musical I recently caught this video from Bull Drummond, first posted in February, 2013.

Whilst I have nothing but respect for Mr Drummond, along with all of his assorted works of art, and I cannot discount his own personal experience, for it was his to have, his proclamation does about how Punk was dead before it even started does eark me for a variety of reasons. And whilst I appreciate that I'm saying this in the position of being a 30 something middle-class muso punk fan who never wore a spiked mohawk or who smashed the system I thought I would try and put the earking into words, because his comments encapsulate a lot of what I've been feeling about the constant proclamation that "Punk Is Dead".

Punk didn't start in 1977, and it most certainly didn't start in Liverpool or even the UK. The first track ever described as Punk was "96 tears", performed by ? & The Mysterians in 1966, over in America. The term was used to describe a visceral type of Garage Rock which can trace it's line back to bands like The Sonics, The Stooges, The Pink Fairies and a hundred other bands who harked back to the original fires of pre-bobbysock and bubblegum Rock and Roll. The UK in 1976-1977 wasn't ground zero for a new movement, it was the latest part of a saga that had been blazing away for over a decade. Given the folly of youth it may have felt like the start of something totally new, and it clearly had its own take on it, but it's pedigree was clear for all to see.

Never Mind The Bollocks may well have been overhyped, and it may not have been the ultimate punk album of all time, but it was hardly the pinnacle of punk. The Saints, The Damned, The Angelic Upstarts and countless others had already got albums out, far more filled with invention and revolution than the Sex Pistols offering. The Pistols, by the time of that release, were poster boys for an idealized scene that their masterful manager had invented. To have everything hinge on that one album was to believe the hype, it was to buy into the very pop myth that punk was working against. What else do you expect to happen but disappointment when you willfully back the wrong horse?

Regardless of the music there was a revolution happening, it was just more of action than of tunes. The DIY ethic, in the publication and distribution of records, magazines, and all other forms of art, did kick off in the UK with the movement known as Punk in the late 70's. Or, at the very least, it stepped up a gear and broke people out of the "you have to wait for someone else to give you permission/publish your work" mindset that had befallen the British youth scene since the 50's. It blasted away the idea of signing to a record label of 20 years before it and it blasted away the idea that you had to be rich to get your work made by yourself of 10 years before that. It also laid down a network and an approach that stormed through the 70, into the 80's and beyond. It was also the groundwork of the very music scene that Bill Drummond made it big in with The TimeLords, The KLF, and all his other works.

Punk is "a genre waiting to be aped by generations to come" (Paul McCartney once said "The Sex Pistols were just another band playing Chuck Berry". All forms of music are, as "It is each generations duty to invent sex, drugs, and rock & roll". Everything has been done before, but each time it has been done differently. You could hardly compare something like The Victims to X-Ray Specs to Black Flag to NOFX to My Chemical Romance and say 'oh, they sound the same', yet all are indisputably punk. Just look at what was happening at the same time in the same country with Two-Tone or Psychobilly. Even "I feel love" by Donner Summer fits into the mix of it all, as it was both an attempt to shift copy and a rebel yell from an outsider scene.

Now I wasn't there, and so most of my knowings are based on reading, watching and listening to relics of the era, so if you want to dismiss all of the above as invalid due to me not having been in the trenches at the time then feel free to do so. But all I know for sure is that it's a genre and a movement that has put a fire in my belly, a bounce in my step, and a direction to my purpose, and I'm feed up with the old timers dismissing it and declaring it dead so readily. Because it started before you and its not going to finish till way after me, so you have no right to call it dead. Your revolution didn't happen, just like it didn't for the hippies, but excuse me whilst my generation finishes having a stab at it and it fully passes on to the next to give it another go.