Saturday, October 17, 2015

Bad Music Era 84-85-86 (slight return)















30 comments:

  1. That Timbuk3 track. Oh god that was everywhere.

    ReplyDelete
  2. All American - where are the British?

    ReplyDelete
  3. the dBs were much better than the others on this list, fwtw.

    ReplyDelete
  4. yes praps was a little unfair to the Deebs there.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I wanna say Phil and I touched on the L.A. "Paisley Underground" sect the last time you posted on this topic.

    But oh god, the Wall of Voodoo/Stan Ridgeway stuff. And yes, Timbuk3 were another low. Novelty acts.

    Here's some bonus U.S. beats of the same era...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEwwc1Vovkk

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gw08G9oAB5k

    And here's one particular atrocity that was briefly very popular with those casually interested in club music...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAAldg3I3uQ

    This could go on forever, but I'll leave it at that.

    In retrospect, most of the above sounds like music made by guys who would eventually wind up as middle-management types at some b2b marketing biz.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Camouflage I always heard as a gentle, wistful pisstake of Americano-militarist mysticism, and accordingly rated it highly, lyrically at least. And the music had to follow the same nostalgic, unimaginative, but mystical bent of the everyman protagonist's vision, so I didn't mind that it was full of cliches. Now I wonder if I had that wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with Greyhoos because I like Wall Of Voodoo, though I don't know any of Ridgway's solo stuff.

    If I was being daring, I would proffer The Cramps as being redolent of the Bad Music Era. Tav Falco Panther Burns also. Stuff that's very self-consciously cultish but also not very good - like its outsider cool was especially designed to appeal to Bobby Gillespie and Jason Pierce.

    ReplyDelete
  8. yeah the Wall of Voodoo stuff is kinda interesting

    the first couple of Cramps albums are great noises i think, despite all the B-movie Psychotronic fetishes, but by mid-80s definitely part of the Wall of Wack

    always wanted to like Panther Burns cos my rockwriter-rolemodel Barney Hoskyns wrote great enflamed paeans to Behind the Magnolia Curtain... but it's just not very good is it. The Gun Club + the best at that particular thing and then only for 1 or 2 LPs before it wears thin...

    i should do a psychobilly special - that really was the rank pits. I shall always hate the Guana Batz in particular saw them the night it became clear a troubled romance was on its final rocks. It was her idea to see them and somehow (how little thou knowest me, Suzanne) she thought I'd like 'em. Writing on the wall clear as daylight.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank goodness I found two liked minded soul, I never got the appeal of The Cramps or Panther Burns either and I always wondered if there was something I was missing since The Cramps seem to be so beloved of pretty much everyone I know

    ReplyDelete
  10. Just remembered the blandest of the bland:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4JFqfqIPKA

    ReplyDelete
  11. christ you're right Phil. what plodders

    ReplyDelete
  12. see you and raise you

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNZpkimAZSI

    ReplyDelete
  13. i was also discussing with someone else the issue of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Who had some some good radio tunes but seem in the blandest of the bland zone and also vaguely dislikeable. He seemed to do a lot of vaguely misogynistic songs that came across as an attempt to toughen up his image rather than, er, authentically malevolent.

    ReplyDelete
  14. It's funny how we have our consensus picks but for whatever reason there's a band here or there that (if we are being honest) we kinda like(d). Maybe it was a relationship or a particular moment that worked for us. Most of these bands are shit but I gotta admit that Wall of Voodoo ("Back in Flesh") song off of the Urgh double album (remember that comp?) was quite mind-boggling for me, as barely a teen. And yeah, the Cramps, I found their commitment to their particular aesthetic very inspiring. (Who can forget "New Kind of Kick"?) No bass, moronic lyrics about sex and drugs, and a guitarist who understood reverb but had no idea how to play guitar. What's not to like?. All of this to say that, I've been thinking for a long time of doing a series on Awful Bands That Have That One Inexplicably Great Song. Tom Petty (awful, awful) has one great song. I'm pretty sure. Honest, it's out there.

    ReplyDelete
  15. He used to be featured on Whistle Test every single week. A real Kershaw/Ellen fave.

    I seem to remember that he did a video in which he ate a life-size woman-shaped cake.

    Anyway, on the subject of Heartbreakers, and music that is actually good, did you know that the proper version of LAMF only appeared on the cassette? The LP was a mastered incorrectly, apparently.

    Check out the cassette version here, it's fantastic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYNM6_O3MjU

    ReplyDelete
  16. Spacemen, i think i did a thing on Facebook about Worst Song By A Great Band, and the Inexplicably Great Thing by Appalling Band idea is like that turned inside out

    struggling to think of an example though

    especially if it has to be just one

    Petty had Free Fallin, but also Don't Come Around Here No More (despite the woman-as-cake eating video) and a couple more i think

    ReplyDelete
  17. Phil, you are thinking of the *other* Heartbreakers perhaps? Had not heard that version of LAMF -- thanks! Always enjoyed the Replacements' Johhny's Gonna Die a lot more than actual Thunders.

    Simon -- yes, Don't Come Around Here No More was good. Normally, when 70s-rock-identified artists belatedly adopted sequencers, drum machines, and such in the 80s, it was usually embarrassing but I think Petty acquits himself well. Wasn't Southern Accents some sort of concept album of sorts?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Re, the Cramps/psychobilly: As someone who recently spent four years living in Atlanta, I can tell you there is one major city whose music scene (the white half of it, anyway) is *still* deeply saturated with such stuff. And where Misfits t-shirts are a wardrobe staple. It's as if nothing new happened in music after 1988-9.

    I was wondering if anyone would nominate the Smithereens. Almost did so myself, earlier.

    Back to the prior post on this topic: Los Lobos. Back when they first made a big splash, they struck me as being very "bar band"-y -- y’know, in a genericized blues/”Austin City Limits” type of way. Seems like there were fair number of much-hyped American groups like that in the mid '80s -- from popular acts (The Fabulous Thunderbirds) to quasi-indie bands (e.g., the Del Fuegos).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, wasn't it all a backlash against synth pop and the sounds of MTV? Let's get back to our roots and just have a bunch of regular dudes playing guitars and singing about easily identifiable things, it was the heyday of Bruce Springsteen after all

      Delete
  19. I really think that Wall of Voodoo and the dB's are much better than the others. And I love the Cramps stuff up to A Date with Elvis ("What's inside a girl?" guitar is superb - Ivy could play, yeah).
    But where are the British?

    ReplyDelete
  20. I really think that Wall of Voodoo and the dB's are much better than the others. And I love the Cramps stuff up to A Date with Elvis ("What's inside a girl?" guitar is superb - Ivy could play, yeah).
    But where are the British?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Love Wall of Voodoo and the Cramps (up to A Date with Elvis - check the guitar on "What's inside a girl"). I also like the dB's.
    But where are the British?

    ReplyDelete
  22. "Where are the British?". The clue is in the "slight return". In other words, this is something like the seventh instalment of a series about 84-85-86 and sometimes i include '87... and in the early instalments, the British - trust me Jorge - are amply, abundantly documented.

    Indeed it was the crimes of my countrymen that really got me started on this theme. America had least had Husker Du, Replacements, Meat Puppets, R.E.M. and other redeeming entities.... But there was a time when the U.K. was a rock desert, pretty much.... when you had to make do with Three Johns, or perhaps Screaming Blue Messiahs if you were really feeling desperate. Indeed what set me on this current, sporadic - far from systematic - path was remembering that at one point groups like Head, Boy's Wonder, Gaye Bykers on Acid, Zodiac Mindwarp, etc etc were considered the Return of Rock.

    Actually talking of '87 as possible extension to the Bad Music Era, I should really do a post on Grebo... Nor have I really done a full accounting with Goth, it occurs to me.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Ups, sorry, Simon!
    Looking forward to the Grebo / Goth posts!

    ReplyDelete
  24. no worries... put Bad Music Era into the search function at the top of the blog and you will find A/ a heap of astonishing shite that you may have forgotten about, or possibly, mercifully never known about - much of it British although the Americans played their part, and i think Australia gets a look in too. B/ some of the many posts on this top have mildly amusing and/or illuminating comments, either from me or from the commentators, who seem to find the topic quite stimulating.

    i think i said in one of the posts, that i've reached that point in a music fan's life (and a critic's life) where you actually find bad music more interesting to think about than good music. Good music is like .... there's too much of it. sometimes it's good but in ways that simple and easy to explain, there's no food for thought there. The shit music of an era can tell you more about the era than the good stuff, sometimes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. a great read! (oh boy, I had completely forgotten about Belouis Some! and King! )
      Totally agree: bad music is now a source of amusing / interesting thoughts for me too. and yes, it has a great sociological drive too (like bad movies, I think).

      Delete
  25. possibly it's just a corruption of sensiblity, though... the jadedness of a palate tha'ts been ver exposed to excellence. The tart, jangling edge-of-disgust tang of a Boys Wonder or a Carmel.... it's revivifying.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I think this topic is stimulating for me because this sort of music, in its total lack of engagement, was very formative to those of us who were teenagers in the 80's.

    This was probably the first music since the early 60's that didn't totally engage and sweep up its listeners, failed to invoke hysteria, even at its very best.

    I find it interesting that The Replacements are being posited as a quality band for the time - surely they were a band who would have made no waves whatsoever in an earlier, better era. They were like a second rate Flamin' Groovies, a band that the Seventies didn't have time to even acknowledge.

    It's this kind of music that turned us all into objective critics despite ourselves - we were the first generation not to have got "lost in music". Also I suspect this might explain the mad immersion in techno and house at the end of the decade - a delayed, desperate attempt to "get it."

    ReplyDelete
  27. I think the Replacements had a bunch of great, touching tunes, but in terms of rock power or that sort of scale and majesty of structure you were talking about, Phil, in terms of British rock of late Sixties and Seventies.... agreed, they don't have that

    Interesting theory about how the 80s music didn't sweep up and totally take-over the listeners in a rush of feeling and sensation.... i suspect there was an element of that with postpunk and before that with some artpop and 'high glam' in the 70s, where it required a kind of mental investment or projection to get into the bands and artists, because the overwhelming power wasn't fully there

    for me techno and rave in in the early 90s was very much about the "lost in music" thing, something overwhelming, that you were swept up in - and then had to figure out what it meant and why it mattered after the event, rather than it being a process of critical investment from the start.

    there was also an excitement about it being a mass music that seemed to have cross-class appeal... it was new and extreme but also genuinely popular .... the mix across the social spectrum, and with race / sexuality too ,was very striking in the early 90s. it wasn't just the power of the music that achieved that, it was the drugs of course. suddenly there was these spaces where you would literally be rubbing shoulders - sharing waters (and other things) - with very working class people, alongside some very posh people, and all sorts in between.... all thrown together, completely mashed.... i don't know if it was delayed or desperate though.... it felt new, real, and liberating.. the first major subculture-becoming-massculture I witnessed up close, in real time

    ReplyDelete