Sunday, 10 January 2010

London Loves.....Music

Music is the most personalised and subjective of all the cultural art forms. (A fact which I hope is demonstrated by my list of favourites at the end of this blog - please comment back with your own lists).

Whether it’s the easy-listening/strangled-cat noises emanating from the ITV studios during episodes of ‘X Factor’ or the majesty of Congolese rumba. The hissing snarl of Siouxsie and The Banshees or the prosaic soundtrack to the film Titanic. Eclectic febrile techno beats or the immortal genius of The Beatles’ 1964-1970 output. Everybody out there finds something to love in music...

In London we have been somewhat spoilt by the quality and breadth of offerings we’ve been given over the years. But what strikes me most about music scenes in London are the elements of cultural crossover characterising them. Nowhere else, barring New York, do we see such divergence of taste and cultural meaning. Most of the crowds you see spilling out of drum’n’bass raves at Fabric on Sunday mornings at 6am are middle class white kids, perhaps studying Politics at LSE. Now drum’n’bass was not originally invented for middle class white Politics undergrads. But try telling them that…

The same could be said of the reggae and ska scenes in London in the 70s.

However, while crossover is frequent and fluent in the capital, it is not a 'given'. There have been scenes, deeper and darker within the London ‘underground’, which the middle classes would love to have penetrated but simply could not. The UK Garage scene of the late 1990s/early 2000s was perhaps the last real musical genre innovation the world has seen. It transformed House music into something all-together more challenging; rhythmically, lyrically and culturally. Blossoming on pirate radio and flourishing in the kind of Stratford, Tottenham or Elephant & Castle rave venues the mainstream media do not publicise; Garage remained a scene entrenched in working class culture. Characterised like all London scenes by the fashion, drugs, language, attitudes and behaviours that grew up around it, Garage quickly moved (regrettably) away from the skunk, champagne, designer labels, party atmosphere and Croydon facelifts it began with, down a path of So Solid influenced crack cocaine, guns, bling, cars and gang violence. Yet some of the white-label records cut in that era are unquestionable classics and will live on strong in the memory until one day the Garage revival returns or the template is used to create another groundbreaking movement.

The era in time we currently occupy has diversified the range of music we can identify with and claim. On New Year’s Eve, at a considerably artistic party, alongside 60’s R’n’B and contemporary electro, DJ sets also included cheesy 80s pop classics like Erasure’s ‘A Little Respect', Tiffany’s ‘I Think We're Alone Now' and Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing In The Dark’. Now, back in the mid-90s when we were all obsessed with our cool reputations and kicking against what had gone before, playing such songs at a trendy party, as opposed to say Suede, Nirvana or Happy Mondays would have cleared a room in seconds and led to permanent social ostracism. Nowadays, you can go to the trendiest bar in Shoreditch at 1am on a Friday night and dance to Hall & Oates’ 'Maneater'. This is a wonderful thing and we are lucky to be blessed with the luxury of hindsight and retrospect.

You’ll have noticed most of this blog concentrates on music of the past. I do not apologise for this and won’t even begin to talk about the current scene. I’ll leave that to the contemporary music publications.

I began this piece by saying music is purely personal. In order to demonstrate this, I will keep my heartfelt pronouncements to a minimum and instead resort to a fun little game we all love to play which illustrates the individuality of musical taste. I’d like you to all join in at home and play along. Below is a list which I have filled in. Simply copy and paste it into the comments box filling in your own answers. I’m handing it over to you. If you play along it makes this blog a whole lot more interesting. If you don’t, well, you only have yourselves to blame! Ciao for now….

First song you ever heard as a child
'Our House’ by Madness

First single you ever bought
‘Love Changes Everything’ by Climie Fisher (on 7” vinyl from Woolworths on Junction Road, Archway. I don’t know how this came about, and to this day I still don’t know who Climie Fisher are. I am neither proud nor ashamed of this purchase but I do see this in some ways as a confession).

First album you ever bought
(Some internal debate here). It was either ‘Whitney’ by Whitney Houston or ‘Faith’ by George Michael. As ‘Whitney’ was released a few months earlier I’m going to go with that. On tape cassette, obviously. But not from Woolworths this time, from Our Price (remember that?!)

Your top 3 albums of all time
The Beatles – Revolver
The Smiths – The Smiths LP
The Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed

Your top 3 songs of all time
(Subject to frequent change. But currently...)
The Smiths – Ask
Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights
Prince Buster – Ten Commandments

Worst song ever recorded
‘What’s Up’ – Four Non Blondes

Worst song lyrics ever
"We came in spastic. Like tameless horses" (Billy Joel – ‘Saigon Nights’ - yes, he said the word 'spastic' on a pop record)

Your ‘nostalgia’ tune
This is always difficult. Can I have two? It’s my blog....I’ll have three!

Direstraits – Brothers In Arms (title track)
Vanilla Ice – Ice Ice Baby
R.E.M – Radio Song

And there you have it. So, what are yours…?

9 comments:

  1. Check out my friend's novel about the punk scene in Canada in the 80s!

    http://www.lorihahnel.ca/

    ReplyDelete
  2. Easy Josh, Richard from the Archives can't resist answering back to this blog;


    First song you ever heard as a child;
    Two-fold this, sister's bedroom Hunger Like a Wolf by Duran Duran and mum and dad playing Seven Drunken Nights by The Dubliners

    First song you ever bought:
    It was EMF 'Unbelievable' on cassette in Our Price, sunny Luton, 4th year St Margartets of Scotland Junior.

    First album ever bought:

    My older brother forced me to go halves on buying Hysteria by Def Leppard when I was 7 but my own individual choice was Defo on cassette again and it was 'Shamrocks and Shenighans' by House of Pain with the Pete Rock remix of Jump Around.

    Worst song ever recorded:

    'Mr Brightside' by The Killers.

    Nostalgia tune;

    Organ Donor: DJ Shadow, Crystal Chandlier: Charley Pride, Robert De Niro's Waiting: Bananarama

    Worst song lyrics:

    any lyric from Kanye West especially that awful tune 'baby girl touch the sky, I look extra fly' with the Curtis Mayfield sample- wanker!!!

    Top 3 songs-

    Teenage Riot: Sonic Youth, Some Velvet Morning: Lee Hazelwood, Walk on By- Issac Hayes

    Top 3 Albums-

    Beggars Banquet: Stones; Three Feet High and Rising: De La Soul; Notorious Byrd Brothers: The Byrds

    ReplyDelete
  3. First song you ever heard as a child;
    Peter and The Wolf on my rocking horse

    First song you ever bought:
    Might have been Ghost Town by The Specials.

    First album ever bought:
    Debbie Gibson by Debbie Gibson. On tape. Northwood Market. FIT.

    Worst song ever recorded:
    Anything by Mark Ronson

    Nostalgia tune;
    Pass The Dutchie

    Worst song lyrics:
    Honky Tonk Women by The Stones. Skinny middle-class white bloke from Richmond singing with a stupid twang about banging divorcees in New York. Hateful.

    Top 3 songs-
    You Set The Scene - Love
    Pressure Drop - Toots & The Maytals
    Leave Them All Behind - Ride

    Top 3 Albums-
    Forever Changes - Love
    Stone Roses - Stone Roses
    Exile on Main Street - Stones

    ReplyDelete
  4. in brief...

    First song you ever heard as a child
    Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd, or maybe Autobahn

    First single you ever bought
    I was a pirate young and taped Phil Collins you Can't Hurry Love off the top 40.

    First album you ever bought
    Ultravox - Monument the Soundtrack. Aged 7

    Your top 3 albums of all time
    The Twin Peaks soundtracks melted together
    Same with a handful of Stereolab
    Stone Roses first album for timeliness
    Get behind me satan

    Your top 3 songs of all time
    Broadcast - Come on lets go
    Tom Waits - gun Street Girl
    Lemon jelly - nice weather for ducks (try being miserable after listening to that)

    Worst song ever recorded
    ‘What’s Up’ – Four Non Blondes comes 2nd to Spin Doctors 2 Princes. Chumbawamba, Terrorvision, Dr Alban. So many to choose from.

    Worst song lyrics ever
    Probably in Abs from 5's cover of uptown top ranking. Or n-dubz says something like "i've been looking for you over facebook".

    Your ‘nostalgia’ tune
    Breathe by Pink Floyd. Played by Flaming Lips. At Glastonbury. In the sun.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Talking of underground electronic music, check this out, a forthcoming release from Gnashism:

    http://www.soundcloud.com/gnashism/sets/bass-ldn-ep

    well wortha listen!

    ReplyDelete
  6. First song you ever heard as a child
    Don't remember. 'Locomotion - Kylie Minogue'

    First single you ever bought
    'Inside' by Stiltskin. The song was on a Levi Jeans advert amd I bought it in Woolworths Angel.

    First album you ever bought
    Nirvana - Nevermind. On CD. Also from Woolworths I think.

    Your top 3 albums of all time
    Exile On Main Street - The Rolling Stones.

    Bootleg Series 4 live at Manchester Trade hall -Bob Dylan.

    Raw Power - The Stooges.

    Your top 3 songs of all time
    (Subject to frequent change. But currently...)
    Baby Please Don't Go - Them
    You Ain't Goin' Nowhere - The Byrds
    Tombstone Blues - Bob Dylan.

    Worst song ever recorded
    ‘Foundations' - Kate Nash

    Worst song lyrics ever
    "I asked her for her name. She told me what it was" - Razorlight - Somewhere Else.

    Your ‘nostalgia’ tune
    Anything from the Blues Brothers film. Or the title track from Ghostbusters. Or Thriller.

    Chris.

    ReplyDelete
  7. First song you ever heard as a child
    Hard to be sure, Nessun Dorma?

    First single you ever bought
    The first one I can honestly remember is Black or White by MJ

    First album you ever bought
    Bar Now That's What I Call Music, I think it's Dangerous by MJ.

    Your top 3 albums of all time
    The Clash - London Calling
    Iggy Pop - Lust for Life
    Weezer (or the worst band to ever make two great albums) - The Blue Album

    Your top 3 songs of all time
    Come on Let's Go - Ritchie Valens
    You Got It - Roy Orbison
    Welcome To The Jungle - Guns N Roses

    Worst song ever recorded
    'In The Summer of 69' by Bryan Adams, Oh Lord do I hate that song.

    Worst song lyrics ever
    ''Everybody rappin' like its a commercial, acting like life is a big commercial'' Beastie Boys, Pass The Mic. Actually so bad they are good but still.

    Your ‘nostalgia’ tune
    'Informer' by Snow. I can smell the school disco.

    ReplyDelete
  8. First song you ever heard as a child
    Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head

    First single you ever bought
    Hey Hey What Can I Do by Led Zepp

    First album you ever bought
    Andy Gibb-?

    Your top 3 albums of all time
    Led Zeppelin-all of them
    Boston
    Guns N Roses Appetite for Destruction



    Your top 3 songs of all time
    Kashmir by Led Zepp
    Beethoven's Symphony No 9
    I don't like anything else as much as those two


    Worst song ever recorded
    Having My Baby by Paul Anka
    Green Eyed Lady by Sugarloaf

    Worst song lyrics ever
    http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/homealone3/green-eyedlady.htm

    I just HATE that freakin song

    Your ‘nostalgia’ tune
    Dancing Queen Abba



    Newer Post Older Post Home
    Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm going through your blogs by the way, just found your site searching for London. Really enjoying myself, well done. I'm from Vancouver and I love London too.

    ReplyDelete