From about the age of 10 I began to pay solid attention to music that was delivered to us through the mainstream media. At this point of my life I already had an inkling that Whitney Houston and Bryan Adams were never going to be my cup of tea. More perplexing still was that both artists were extremely popular and sold millions of records. Around the same time, my elder brother had introduced me to sweet sounds of The Sex Pistols, who, by 1987 were long disbanded but still so very popular.
“Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols” was in fact one of the earliest memories I hold of long playing albums. Perhaps the bright yellow, black and pink cover played an important role in this record being etched in my memory? Or maybe it was Sid Vicious, a man who could not play bass to save his life but ended up in the band for erm, image purposes after Glen Matlock was soundly punted after writing many of their songs and writing almost all the good riffs we have come to love.
The whole shaboom was down to Malcolm Mclaren, a somewhat shrewd pioneer about town in London who realised image was everything if you were going to sell records by the bucket load. One could argue that The Sex Pistols were the first great boy band to emerge from Britain.
Recently I began reading a book by British radio presenter, Mark Radcliffe, “Thank You For The Days”. I must say it makes for a jolly good read. One segment early on in the piece that struck a rich chord within my mind was Redcliffe’s views on pop music. I do wonder, after reading the passage below, how your thoughts on the subject will transpire.
“The Pistols, you could argue, were anything but an expression of this new honesty. Yes, they were raw, obnoxious, brimming with attitude and made a string of primal pop singles. But elements of their story smack of as much manufacturing as Westlife. Svengali Malcolm McLaren put Johnny Rotten in the frame, and Glen Matlock, the one who took charge of the song writing and wrote the nifty bass, was replaced by Sid Vicious, who was incapable of either of those things, because he fitted the image better. Weather that makes the scam more or less brilliant is open to question, but the band certainly weren’t four old schoolmates who had grown up together and making all their own decisions.
In some ways, McLaren was the Simon Cowell of his day. Both had a vision of how the music business could be manipulated and both exerted freakish control over their artists. Where McLaren wins out of course is that his aim was to impose change, whereas Cowell’s master plan is to prevent it.
McLaren was a true revolutionary in that he didn’t care weather he benefited from the new order, he just wanted to clear the space so the future could grow. It was a kind of benevolent nihilism. In my opinion, Cowell wants us to buy the processed schlock he peddles to make himself even richer. His legacy will be the methods he employed to create transient pop stars, not the records. It’s a sound business proposition, but let’s not make the mistake of thinking it has anything to do with music. His records will never be regarded as classics and cherished down the years, and will never provide a snapshot of the times like “Anarchy In The UK” did.
It’s often said that the music business is like a jungle. Well, up to a point. But it’s not the greatest of analogies. Untamed things thrive in a jungle. Cowell and his ilk want to tarmac over the jungle so things can grow only where he decides they can grow. McLaren wanted to tear down the jungle and leave a barren wasteland so fresh things could grow unfettered.”
So there you have it. Wise words in many respects. It is also why I have never been able to get my head around why people accept commercial radio, stock standard television and worship alleged celebrities like that dreadful mop of Kardashian twats whilst they believe everything their government tells them, more often than not, unabated lies.
Katy Perry is a prime example of the controlled rubbish force fed to the uneducated music admirers who don’t know any better. Her latest video, below, is yet another example of how easy it is to sell junk songs by the truck load.
Life is about living. Life is about making decisions on your own. Life is about not giving a flying fuck about what others may think of you. Life is about pushing boundaries, breaking free from the shackles society tries to place on you.
Music in particular is a most wondrous vehicle that is rarely utilised for the right reasons. It should never be about how many followers one has on Twitter or how many singles one can sell in a career. Music is art and should never be cheapened.
The next time you are near your local record store, pop in and buy some albums from artists or bands you wouldn’t normally listen to. You never know. Aside from stepping outside your comfort zone you may just enjoy what you hear.