Monday, December 3, 2012

the Rich Kids - proof of two things

1/ talent  (songwriting, musical, etc) isn't enough, not without that (often extra-musical) spark that comes from the Member with Vision (or Edge, or Attitude, or a Really Big Idea) (see also Eno's career as X Factor)

without Matlock, Sex Pistols as creatively generative unit went into swift decline (give or take a few, their best songs were cowrites with him)

without the other Pistols (and Glitterbest milieu) Matlock's new venture never even started

2/ bands formed through happenstance almost always get better results (certainly more distinctive results) than bands formed in a deliberative, choosing-from-many-options fashion (the supergroup, the next venture formed by someone in an established position after being in a supersuccessful or epochal band). 

The thing about great rock bands is that usually they have formed in a partly accidental and contingent way – through friendship, chance meetings, geographical proximity as much as through musical affinity  – so you have a random factor, an X Factor -- you also have a mix of skill levels -- --  David Byrne in How Music Works argues  that a band in itself can work as a framework of creative constraint.  If there is a principal songwriter in the group, that person learns to adjust their writing to play to the strengths of the other members and bypass their deficiencies.  The group’s creativity is channeled through that limited zone where their talents and their variable abilities mesh. Compare that with the solo careers that follow the break-up of a famous band, the singer or the principle songwriter is able to pick freely from a broad pool of often highly skilled session musicians. The top players around. As anyone knows these records are almost always inferior to the records made with the original group – compare Mick Jagger solo to the Stones, Bryan Ferry solo to Roxy Music, Morrissey to the Smiths – Byrne again:  “One might assume that having better players... means that a composer can be more adaptable, free, and wide-ranging,” Byrne says, but actually, that’s rarely the case.

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