Tuesday 27 February 2007

Saving The World One Riff At A Time

This piece keeps getting rejected by magazine editors, usually on the basis that it will upset too many readers. Doesn't anybody have a sense of humour?


In a magazine recently Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie confessed indifference to the carbon created by his band’s touring. Shameful to those who care for our planet – but OK, because Bobby is already offsetting his carbon footprint. By recycling old riffs and attitudes these past 24 years Primal Scream has prevented the methane and CO2 of brainless new ideas and half-witted songs -- looking to the past to be the future.

Yes! Musicians serious about leaving a pristine planet for future generations to enjoy must stop the almost useless quest to come up with something new and look to the past instead. As Clinton may have said to Blair one Camp David night as they traded Chuck Berry riffs, there’s nothing new in music. So stop trying! Look to a band like Oasis – those six albums that sound like the first two aren’t a creative desert; they’re a rainforest of eco-efficiency.

But there’s still work to do. Our lads from the North are beginners compared to hip-hop. Those guys have been saving creative ozone for decades. The entire empire is built on two break beats and snips of old records. Their lyrical conservation shames us all. Ten years of rocking the mic so viciously then NWA unrolled a gangsta blueprint that fit the next 20 years like a cap in a Gloch. Every CD should proudly feature a recycling logo, right next to the Parents Advisory sticker.

Age is no hindrance. Clapton has played the same songs for 40 years. Dylan is as modern as a Prius; Modern Times sounds as if it was played in 1955 (+/- seven years). Bruce Springsteen has seen the light; after thirty-five years of musical ozone depletion the Bard of the Boardwalk has looked to his country’s heritage. Not metaphorically but literally. Let’s keep him pure and clean – demand The Seeger Sessions volumes 2 – 20.

There’s no room for indulgence. Vigilance is all. Admire the indolent artist. Applaud the stoner. A night in Mayfair slumped over the steering wheel is a night George Michael isn’t in the studio.

Death is no reason to quit. Nina Simone: Remixed & Reimagined is the first of a series where DJs work over a legendary artist's oeuvre. Groovefinder puts Nina in collaboration with what sounds like Sly Stone and the Stax Horns – three artists for the price of one!

The Smithereens are high on the artistic compost heap. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Meet The Beatles they have recreated it note for note. Meet The Smithereens almost duplicates the cover as well, correctly keeping creativity within sustainable limits. This is the future. The ego-tripping 12 page photo book cover has to go. If three colours are good enough for The White Stripes and Mickey Mouse, they’re good enough for you.

Ahhh, The Beatles – they led the way in the day and they still do today. Individually, Ringo gets around to a new album every five or ten years – top man! McCartney is more prolific but all those albums deemed mediocre because they recycled old ideas…as a Friends Of The Earth supporter he knew what he was doing. On Chaos and Creation (dangerously original but a rare CFC relapse) there are several songs that sound like love paeans to Heather. I’m sure if we rally ‘round we can prevent the “divorce album”. As a group, The Beatles continue to inspire us all…Gone these 37 years and still releasing the same records! When they do get the urge to go all 21C they wisely look to green-hued producer Dangermouse. Love isn’t as cool as The Grey Album collision of White Album and Jay Z, but this is a world of diminished expectations, of turning down the heat, of pointing the creative Lear Jet away from fresh fields towards Strawberry Fields.

And if you – songwriters, musicians, producers, artists one and all – feel the urge to aim the compass straight ahead and two stars to the right, just remember the slogan that fits AC/DC like thrift store jeans: For those about to recycle rock we salute you.

© 2007 J. Ingham

1 comment:

Agent K said...

This pretty much sums up the tone we're aiming for with Taxi! Mag... Love your writing!