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Which Premier League manager will get fired first

Monday, 24 January 2011

How I Learned To Hate Rock ‘n’ Roll

Someone states the obvious
Someone sneers at all you love
Someone preaches ugly manners
excluding some, including me

This is how I learned to hate rock 'n' roll

Rock 'n' Roll a phrase which conjures up various images from long haired hippies with flowers in their hair sitting in the grass strumming their guitars and singing catchy ditties while talking in a drawn out manner like Neil from the Young Ones or people in leather trousers and tasselled leather jackets bawling out songs accompanied by loud guitars, heavy percussion and the occasional keyboard (Aerosmith, Whitesnake etc). As Depeche Mode put it this is Music For The Masses (although their music was primarily electronic).

So why do I hate this type of music?

The easy response would be that rather than hate it I have simply have never liked it as my earliest musical exposure was to New Romantics and Mods, groups like Duran, Duran, Madness, The Jam, Adam and The Ants and then into early Hip Hop/ Electro but that would only be a partial explanation as my musical tastes used to drift along without much focus in the early 80s until the mid-80s resurgence of the synthesiser. An instrument outwardly despised by rock musicians and seen as a necessary evil to produce some of the sounds they needed for their tracks coupled with the perception that a 'real musician' wouldn't need one as they were for people like me who don't play the piano very well and need to sequence their music. This led me to take the opposite view that Rock Music was for hippy communists or middle aged losers who can't dance and still want to be John Lennon (who managed to fit both images of the typical rock musician in my eyes). This was further emphasised by the rise of Indie Music and the sudden desire of everyone in Manchester and its surrounds to dress and play like sub-standard Beatles throwbacks.

Now given the fact that I do own and like some albums and singles by Rock artists you may well be justified in asking how I can claim to hate rock as a genre and it is difficult to explain as it is more due to being contrary and reactionary rather than down to any musical critique. The holier than thou patronising attitude that some rock aficionados have in respect to dance music and anything that uses a keyboard as its main instrument went a long way to polarising my attitude to it. Now that is not to say that Pink Floyd, Metallica, Queen and countless other rock groups have no talent in fact the complete opposite is true in many cases but I just can't bring myself to like them. Part of the problem is the idea that some artists have that they just have to pick up a guitar and they are suddenly rock musicians whilst churning out something which it would be kind to describe as ordinary. During this period of dislike and musical transition certain sounds started to stand out and lead to the path of electronic music. 3 records were instrumental in achieving this, Blue Monday, Two Tribes and It's A Sin. The sounds of these records were completely different from most other synth-based sounds of the mid-80s and pioneered what a good dance track could sound like. Yes there had been good synthesizer groups such as Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, Ultravox and the Human League but whether it was (in the case of Two Tribes Trevor Horn's production, the fact that Blue Monday was completely different to anything New Order or Joy Division had previously done or the strident chord structures and bass-line of a Stephen Hague produced Pet Shop Boys I decided by the mid-80s that synth-pop and dance were the way forward and stayed with it.

Having decided on my musical direction you would think life would be simple and yet the opposite became true. For every Music For The Jilted Generation there was a Use Your Illusion For every Very, Introspective, Fundamental, Wild, Technique or Yes there has been singles by U2, Aerosmith and others that have sought to tempt the listener back towards rock. Added to that the decline of genuinely good pop music in favour of R&B and Simon Cowell induced rubbish a particular problem has become prevalent. Do I stick with my chosen genre risking the fact that only 1 or 2 decent albums may come out a year, listen to rap music embrace mediocrity or start dusting off the electric guitar and admitting defeat.

All feelings blunted, all passion spent
Everybody does what everybody does

That is what embracing current chart music would bring me, with rap I am always reminded of some dialogue from The Last Boy Scout

Bad guy - You think you're so cool, don't you? You think you're so cool. Well just once, I would like to hear you scream, in pain. Bruce Willis response:

Play some rap music.

Rock music won't make me feel much better although a listen to U2's greatest hits album is always good but I thankfully (due to having to use tapes in the car at the moment) am reminded of one of the central tenets of my musical tastes

don't like country-and-western
I don't like rock music
I don't like, I don't like rockabilly or rock 'n' roll particularly
Don't like much really, do I?
But what I do like I love passionately

Listening to those thumping Chris Lowe bass lines and chord structures reminds me of what I do love passionately music-wise and it does not involve leather pants and long hair.