Monday, September 12, 2016

70s stodge

stodge, cos of the multi-track production / arrangements tend to gassy bloatation and starchiness

but stodge also in the hamburger-helper / meatloaf sense of padding out the music scene...  

see at any point in rock history there's a LOT more going on in terms of records being released and concerts played and radio plays and chart entries than what  History will subsequently tell us about an era

there's the picture it'll paint of what mattered and what counted and what Happened...

but that'll in reality only ever have been a fraction of all that was going on

there's always a lot of stuff that doesn't fit the narrative

there's the totally anomalous, off on its own path

or there's the stuff that's a lingering, persistently popular continuation from a previous phase of music

and sometimes that'll be earlier phase bands sticking doggedly to what they're about

other times they'll be slogging on but tenaciously adapting to the times.... proggers or pub rockers going New Wave.... punkers and postpunkers going New Pop.... shoegazers going Britpop

proving that there's a lot more fashion-following and a lot less integrity/consistency than we'd perhaps imagine in music

so let's hear it for some (not-so-)Great British Ballast, with a sampling this round from the late Seventies 

Pub-rock survivors Ducks Deluxe reformulated, or some members of the group at least, as New Wave-ish pop slags The Motors

Would you believe that tune was John Peel's #1 single of 1977? In the so-called Forgotten Festive Fifty (Not the listeners's choice, his own personal fave).

Touted in '78, this lot

Radio One deejays put their weight behind a lot of the ballast of the era, they seemed to have an unerring ear for what would be quickly evacuated from memory

Another group that were a sort of staple of the scene - passed over by a million glazed eyes scanning the music papers, the name tugging at your eyeball form out of those little boxed ads for individual concerts at the Rainbow or Marquee or  full pagers for their tours / new albums -

i think of these groups as a bit like the fish fingers or beans on toast, or shepherd's pie  .... staple stuff that pads out the family's dinners but nothing to look forward to... 

probably a lot of people went to see this sort of group on the off chance, as a second choice - or perhaps nothing else on in their small town in the provinces... nothing much else in the local record shop that week but you got the itch to buy something so you try something...

with all these sort of groups, pictures, unappetising pictures, swim into my mind's eye

roadies's hairy arses as they haul the PA through the back entrance of  mid-size concert halls in Leicester or Middleborough

 ... brown ale breath

...  the fug of cig smoke in a van cramped with gear and musicians 

...  a desultory blow job in a toilet stall 

...  greasy spoons on the M1 at 2 AM on the way back from a show up north

This lot were bringing back the blues... and sharp suits

"good live bands"

how Paul Young started...

Well, actually, there was this wasn't there...

Made me think of this for some reason

Now Brand X weren't stodge at all, in fact they were rather excellent  - bejewelled and spacious in their sound ... but very much against the New Wave grain... I remember their full pages ads in the music papers very well and not being able to get a fix on what they were, me not having the full map of music scene in my head yet .... was intrigued by the blank name... but not sure if I ever heard them at the time (they wouldn't have been played on late night Radio One)

Another kind of stodge is the kind of  hamburger-helper scene-filler that makes Change seem more total because, look, LOOK at the numbers

In fact you only really need the first-div stuff (generally more individualistic anyway) but all that second and third-div make-weight stuff (generally more standardised and conformist in sound) fills out the scene and helps establishes the dominance of the new musical episteme.

New Wave stodge

Punk stodge

Punk stodge #2

Punk stodge # 3

There's many many more from the late Seventies of course

Perhaps I should do the Brit 90s next - no end of stodge there 


  1. Heh heh great post this
    Brand X are due reappraisal actually,I believe one of Atomic Rooster as well as Phil Collins was in their ranks. Sound like: Neil Ardley's Harmony of the Spheres, as featured in Woebot's 70s Rock e-book. A brilliant album.
    You could have been talking about Irish showbands there as the same theory applies- you've got this it's better than nothing. The most famous refugee from that scene was Rory Gallagher, who appeared on OGWT more than any other act...
    One act that matched both your definitions of Stodge was the Boomtown Rats, recently reformed as a warning to others...

  2. ha, Rory Gallagher is perfect - and i did not know that about the frequency of OGWT appearances!

    Actually had half thought of including Boomtown Rats but thought perhaps I'd been mean about them here once before and that was enough. but yeah they fit cos they were clearly Springsteen casualties who then retooled for New Wave. Feel quite retrospectively affectionate towards their existence... but it is odd how History has completely evacuated them - they were HUGE - at least two number ones in the UK i think, several other really big hits. I like the way that Geldof tried to follow up one youth tragedy hit single ("Mondays") with another youth tragedy hit single ("Diamond Smiles")

  3. Actually the internet seems to think that the winner of the prize for most OGWT appearances is... Rick Wakeman
    6 times apparently, with Yes, solo etc.

  4. Those bands hopping between scenes and genres have often made great music. Jumping Someone Else's Train, it was called by The Cure, who knew what they were talking about.

    Scritti, Simple Minds and Adam & the Ants were some of the best New Pop groups. Drama, with Trevor Horn on vocals, is the best Yes album. Rush are at their most bearable in their early 80s mode when they were big fans of The Police and Talking Heads.

    Of course, the best take on this phenomenon is The Originals' evolution into Spinal Tap.