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Subject: Chalkhills Digest #5-236


         Chalkhills Digest, Volume 5, Number 236

                  Saturday, 24 July 1999

Today's Topics:

                     Fashion foolery
                 No, it just smells funny
            ("Oh, Sting/Where is thy death?")
                           oy.
                        Re: Clever
                         Re: Blur
             Cobain's Importance? (Impotence)
                          Paris
                       Yes, But...
                     Leckie Sighting
                     GBV vs. Nirvana
re: "XTC is out of fashion, untrendy, conciliatory, easy-going,
        Okay Dom....let's not get carried away...
        at all, at all, at all, at all, at all...
     Further musings on the Andy/Sting comparisons...
                    Ignorance! ARRGH!
                           1999
            Rock Music: The State of the Union

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Saturday night saw him retching over our fence!

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Message-ID: <37980197.29061C8F@televar.com>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 1999 22:46:00 -0700
From: T Lewis <tlewis@televar.com>
Subject: Fashion foolery

De-lurking....

Ive kept quiet long enuf on this ridiculous  "...XTC is out of
fashion..." thread.

Hello? When have the terms "fashion" and "XTC" *ever* nestled
comfortably in the same sentence? Andy and the boy(s) always did and
still do exist blissfully, obliviously, sometimes even maddeningly
outside fashions soggy but shallow swamp. Dating right back to "White
Music".

Dont every damn one of us remember a moment, as we slogged thru the sad
tatters of 70s punk/disco, or 80s glam/New wave when we heard "Radios
in Motion" or "Senses" or "Seagulls" or "Season Cycle" for the first
time and got all prickly?...
.................."Who the hell IS that?!!"

Who it was...WHAT it was...was the newsflash that a group of committed
visionaries, too talented and in love with music to care, were out
there...devoted to making the wildest, wackiest, most daring and
melodious stuff they could convince dull-witted record execs to press.
Absolutely regardless of what the current scene would briefly reward.

When did any one of us, over the course of XTCs 25 year history (and
Ive been there from the absolute start) ever feel like... "Ah...theres
a lull in the party...I shall just spin Go2, as it will surely fit
smoothly in between Tina Turner and Depeche Mode, to the utter delight
of  the attendant fashion fiends".

Right. The first cubistic measure of "Mecannic Dancing" jangles thru the
speakers and some drunk Cyndi Lauper fan is pushing your face into the
bean dip, scrambling for the HiFi.

And thats true right up to this moment. The style has mutated...No
longer can you  get a clean shave by thrusting your jaw in front of  the
speaker as Andy squeezes out a jagged riff. But deep thought and
feelings are still being applied and magnificently surprising choices
are being made to this day. All for the sheer love of fresh noise.
Utterly without regard to the mainstream.

And I guarantee there are teens and 20-somethings out there right now,
slogging thru the sad tatters of rehashed 90s r&b or grunge-hop who
will hear that first *ploip!* of "Orchids", and the thump of the
strings, and the goofy madrigal build of the orchestra and theyll get
all prickly...
................. "Who the hell IS that?!!"

T Lewis
Youve read my rant...now read my comic strip...."Over the Hedge"
http://www.unitedmedia.com/comics/hedge/archive/

------------------------------

Message-ID: <19990723074809.2966.qmail@hotmail.com>
From: "Duncan Kimball" <dunks58@hotmail.com>
Subject: No, it just smells funny
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 1999 00:48:08 PDT

Pondering the age old conundrum of whether 'Rock' is dead/not dead, I am
led to wonder ...

Q: What IS "rock" exactly?

Q: How exactly does one define whether it is dead?

Also sprach Giovanni:

>Personally, I think that each generation - and by these I mean the shorter
>youth-culture generations, not the parent-to-child ones - sees last
>decade's music as boring and obsolete, and the "new" music as cool. Then,
>these people turn 30 and suddenly "they" are the ones who are listening to
>obsolete, boring music.

Basically a valid point. I concur, with the provisos that

- some sections of the media, and the "cognoscenti" will only follow
certain bands only until they *start* being widely popular, at which time
they abandoned them in favour fo some other new 'underground' movement that
will bring kudos and/or cash to the discoverer (cf. the life of M. McLaren)

- some people - like me - have always liked stuff that was once naff and is
now trendy (cf Petula Clark, Burt Bacharach)

>In the 80s there were great bands like XTC or U2, and absolute crap >such
>as... mmhhh... Kim Wilde, "Bette Davis' Eyes", and a lot of >commercial and
>meaningless music which we have forgotten - this is >also why we feel that
>those days were not so replete with meaningless >and uncreative music,
>because we have now blotted out everything that >came and went, as crappy
>music usually does.

breeep! breep! breep! Value Judgement Alert!!

Lemme answer with an example: I thought - and still think - that Gary Numan
is by-and-large, a load of old bollocks. Silly, boring and comprehensively
derivative. He got famous & made truckloads, while John Foxx - whose feet
he is not worthy to kiss - remains virtually unknown. Meanwhile, those who
grew up listening to "Are Friends Electric" - e.g. grunge icon Dave Grohl -
evidently think that our Gazza is the bees' knees. Go figure.

>I humbly surmise that there are bands today that make creative and
>interesting music that will last well after the end of the millennium:
>only I don't know who they are, because I'm not in sync with today's
>scene.

Well ask someone here why dontcha? These guys know EVERYTHING.

>After all, the 50s had Elvis, the 60s had the Beatles, the 70s had >Yes,
>the 80s had XTC... could it be that this is the first decade >which will
>produce no memorable new music at all?

@^%*^$@(!!! Are you mental????!! Never mind the blatant contradiction with
your previous statement ... this is ANOTHER personal judegment. Grrrr!

And is that really the history of rock as you see it?? Elvis - The Beatles
- Yes - XTC??? Egad!!

Meanwhile....

>From: CCooli9575@aol.com
>Subject: Rock is dead

(blanch!)

>For me the last truly important rock band was Nirvana, and when Kurt
>Cobain offed himself IMO he killed rock.(I can't even listen to my >Nirvana
>albums anymore).

Ok Chris I can understand how you feel. For me it was - to a more limited
extent - the deaths of Steve Marriott and Frank Zappa. However, the
operative words here are "for me". Luckily for the rest of us, some other
musos think there is still something worth doing and saying, rather than
giving up and weeping in corners over their old copies of Nevermind.

Sorry if I bag the poor guy a little, but IMO Kurt was a one-trick pony who
got lucky twice - first by getting famous, and then by dying before his
small stock of ideas ran out. Unfortunately, he was also a supremely typical
example of the dyfunctional achiever who cannot handle success. It's sad
because he undoutedly had ability and charisma. What he didn't have was a
good therapist.

>All the new bands I've heard since then have been either pretty good
> >retreads of what's gone before(Fastball, Sugarplastic)or little more
> >than snide musical novelties(Presidents Of The United States Of
> >America).

>The only really original pock/rock based new music I've heard has been by
>singer-songwriters. Nonetheless, most of my purchases in the past year
>have been by already established bands I'm already into. I'd never have
>believed I'd have got this conservative. I have little use for rap but
>it's intrinsically as viable a form of self-expression as everything
>else, it's just not to my taste.

I take your point Chris, but I'm reminded of a quote by Dizzy Gillespie; he
remarked that he was often asked by classical music lovers when we were
going to see the next Bach or Beethoven? His repsonse was that they were
already here - Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker - but that no-one recognised
it at the time because they were not expecting the change to come in that
form.

There is of course something to be said for living in the moment, musically
speaking. I don't really listen to U2's "Boy" anymore, but it was fun while
it lasted. But - and perhaps it's an age thing here - I tend to look at the
whole thing as a continuum. I've been around long enough, and know enough
about music, to realise that the fact the New Hot Act sells squillions and
is lauded by the rock press means zilch in terms of any objective value
historical value, let alone whether I like them or not. Otherwise I would
have warehouses full of Zigue Zigue Sputnik and Guns & Roses albums.

The one rule I've discovered is that if you *really* like your music, your
tastes will inevitably change, develop and broaden. There's nothing wrong
with having favourites, and XTC, Beach Boys and others will always be
special to me - but Im not gonna stop listening out for new stuff just
because I think the scene is a bit dull right now. Otherwise I would have
missed Beck and Ben Folds Five and Supergrass and so many other great
recent groups, not to mention discovering all the great OLD stuff I'm still
getting into like Richard Thompson (thanks Iain!) or whoever.

Re: Jesse's spray ..

Point taken, but again your taste is not an objective benchmark of absolute
musical value. Sorry, but I happen to find that Britney Spears thing A)
very well produced, and B) unbelievably catchy. What's wrong with that?

Fact 1 - if it weren't for the vast sales of all this 'pop fodder' many
many artists who don't sell millions could never have got a go. For every
Sonny & Cher there were dozens of Captain Beefhearts and Franks Zappas; for
every ABC there were multitudes of XTCs and Durutti Columns. For every
Three Tenors, there are thousands of brilliant ensembles doing really
interesting and challenging stuff. Big sellers subidise the cult stuff.

Fact 2: almost all of us here got into music via the "pop" scene, one way
or another. I might not like your taste, or the bands you dig, but it's ALL
MUSIC - so why be uptight about it? Those who think and feel and care about
music will move on, and discover a world of fun and pleasure and delights
beyond imagining ....

... for those who don't, there's always Phil Collins.

Where is this leading? I have no idea. It's Friday night and Im off to get
toasted and giggle the night away watching Upright Citizens Brigade.

Yours tastefully
Dunks

------------------------------

Message-Id: <B195726DB50AD2118E880008C7FAA6FC43108D@newman.partech.com>
From: Janis VanCourt <Janis_VanCourt@partech.com>
Subject: ("Oh, Sting/Where is thy death?")
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 1999 08:13:33 -0400

>From: "Steve Oleson" <Steve.Oleson@OAG.STATE.TX.US>
>Subject: Sean Dwyer's turn.
>
>Sean said about Andy's vocals on River of Orchids:
>
>"Is it just me, or do i detect a Sting impersonation in
>there?"
>
>It's just you, Shawn.

Unfortunately, I fear it's not just Shawn.  Almost everyone for whom I've
played Apple Venus Vol. One has mentioned a vocal similarity to Sting,
especially on the first track.  I can't deny it... I hear it too.  But I'm
sure it's not what Andy was going for; it's just a sad coincidence.

He also sounds uncomfortably Sting-ish on the demo of "You And The Clouds
Will Still Be Beautiful".  <sigh>

-Janis (who actually owns & likes a few Sting albums, but still kind of
resents the comparison)

http://members.aol.com/starlingv.starling.htm

------------------------------

Message-ID: <19990723125912.23394.rocketmail@web1.rocketmail.com>
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 1999 05:59:12 -0700 (PDT)
From: nross <phoenixyellowrose@rocketmail.com>
Subject: oy.

End the arguments.

Rock is not dead. Its merely evolving.

Lauryn Hill's album is not a cheap imitation of old 70's songs.

Hip-hop, as a genre, is not all bad.

And... Hey! Bette Davis Eyes -  kim (i think) CARNES sang that... not
Kim Wilde (didn't she sing "We're the kids of America" or something
like that???) but anyways... Not all eighties music sucks.

I think we covered it...

oh, I left out  this classic:

Andy Partridge is not trying to be Sting.

But... I actually like the Police and some early Sting music, so the
comparison doesn't make me wanna puke.

NOW, I think I've summarized things for XTC fans.

Would you like that?
I'd like that (hahaha).

At Camden Yard no less!

hmm. Are they winning now? I haven't kept track.

Well, there you have it, Omnipotence is great. -Nicole

===
Nicole's internet music station:
http://www.imagineradio.com/mymusiclisten.asp?name=phoenixyellowrose

History is a set of lies agreet upon.
-- Napoleon Bonaparte

------------------------------

Message-Id: <3.0.3.32.19990722230740.0069e6f0@mail.clemson.edu>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 1999 23:07:40 -0700
From: Adam Tyner <ctyner@clemson.edu>
Subject: Re: Clever

WWi8064839@aol.com wrote:
>
>Andy's rotten luck: he helps to produce a few songs for Blur's "Modern
>Life is Rubbish" album in 1992, but the band dismisses him because he
>makes them 'sound too much like XTC.'

Did any of those tracks ever surface, even as b-sides?  I'd be very
interested in hearing them.

CCooli9575@aol.com wrote:
>
>All the new bands I've heard since then have been either pretty good
>retreads of what's gone before(Fastball, Sugarplastic)or little more than
>snide musical novelties(Presidents Of The United States Of America).

The Presidents of the United States of America didn't do anything
innovative, but what they did, they did *very* well.  Nearly every single
track on their 3 albums, along with the majority of their b-sides/rarities,
is great.  Fun, catchy, somewhat-stupid 3-chord rock has its place.

Elvis Costello said:

>(Laughs) "Wonderful - XTC. I like the band because they always do the
>opposite of what you expect. XTC is a lesson in real English cleverness.
>The boys are so clever and smart that the press have great problems with
>them. I don't like everything on their albums, but you can find some
>absolute jewels. I think "Great Fire" and this song are fantastic. I also
>love the sound of their acoustic guitars."

This is exactly how I'd describe XTC, interestingly enough.  :-)

-Adam

------------------------------

Message-ID: <001701bed4f2$55cfabc0$a11017d4@smj>
From: "Stephen Jackson" <smj@zen.co.uk>
Subject: Re: Blur
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 1999 11:01:28 +0100

Wes wote
>The result? Still no big hit single for XTC, Blur's popularity declines,

Not in the UK it doesn't..'Blur' sold considerably more copies than either
'Parklife' or 'The Great Escape'...and they've recently had a number 1 with
'Tender'...what's more "Song 2" was ubiquitous a couple of summers ago.

Oh and btw, who ever said that AP sounds like Mr Sting on ROO is
unfortunately correct.

Steve.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Two steps forward, six steps back.

------------------------------

Message-Id: <s7983309.084@mail.emmis.com>
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 1999 09:15:50 -0500
From: Erik Meyer <Erikm@stl.emmis.com>
Subject: Cobain's Importance? (Impotence)

Chris wrote:

<For me the last truly important rock band was Nirvana, and when Kurt
Cobain offed himself IMO he killed rock.>

In my opinion, Nirvana merely made popular what The Pixies
and Jane's Addiction created.  If that makes them important,
OK.

Erik

------------------------------

Message-Id: <199907231425.AA27863@axtx0060.scent.mccaw.com>
From: steve mcallister <steve.mcallister-next@attws.com>
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 99 09:25:08 -0500
Subject: Paris

Any Parisian Chalkhillers out there.  I've recently been hired to play in a
Band called Kitty Gordon - performing in Paris at the Chesterfield Cafe
during the first 2 weeks of August.
The band isn't much XTC influenced, though it is some pretty cool stuff.
C'mon out and say hello, I'll be the one wearing/playing the sparkly bass.
Steve

------------------------------

Message-Id: <3.0.5.32.19990723104253.007bc470@chelmsford.com>
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 1999 10:42:53 -0400
From: David Gershman <dagersh@pobox.com>
Subject: Yes, But...

So, oddly enough, Giovanni said:
>After all, the 50s had Elvis, the 60s had the Beatles, the 70s had Yes,
>the 80s had XTC... could it be that this is the first decade which will
>produce no memorable new music at all?

I won't even begin to go into all the excellent (and memorable) new music
of the 90s that you're overlooking by even wondering that (let's just say,
though, e.g., PJ Harvey, Nirvana, oops I'd better stop or I really WILL go
into it), but the main part of your statement that I question is:

"...the 70s had Yes,..."

So, you're saying this is a good thing?

I won't even begin to go into all the excellent (and memorable) music of
the 70s that you could have chosen to better illustrate your point
instead...

Dave Gershman

------------------------------

Message-Id: <199907231527.IAA04326@goose.prod.itd.earthlink.net>
Date: 23 Jul 99 08:22:40 -0700
From: Daniel Pinder <dpinder@earthlink.net>
Subject: Leckie Sighting

John Leckie came to the studio the other day to have a look round and say
hello to our main man. Finally, at an appropriate moment, I offered lamely,
"I have to say that the Dukes records are perennial faves." His low and
all-too-calm reply, "Oh, you still listen to that, do you? Oh yes..."

Not quite the response I was hoping for, but oh well.

------------------------------

Message-Id: <199907231652.JAA09320@toucan.prod.itd.earthlink.net>
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 1999 11:48:29 -0600
Subject: GBV vs. Nirvana
From: "Bob O'Bannon" <batchain@earthlink.net>

>i guess what i'm trying to figure out is: what exactly is [the
>equivilant to] "garage" music now?

In my mind, the closest thing lately to the spirit of garage/punk has been
the low-fi recordings of Guided by Voices. Their CD "Bee Thousand" (from,
what, 1994?) was the best attempt of the 90s (yes, even better than
Nirvana) at preserving the attitude and rebellion of rock n roll in its
purest form.  There's no way commercial radio would ever play anything off
of Bee Thousand, and yet the album is full of flawlessly tuneful
songwriting -- proving that GBV are not only defying industry trends and
standards, but are in this for much more than shock value. (Their upcoming
new album, I realize, is reportedly abandoning the low-fi aesthetic).

>For me the last truly important rock band was Nirvana, and when Kurt
>Cobain offed himself IMO he killed rock.(I can't even listen to my Nirvana
>albums anymore)

I never really saw what was so rebellious about Nirvana -- "Nevermind" is
an irresistible album, but what's so rebellious about a bunch of lush power
chords, pretty melodies, and a blond-haired, blue-eyed lead singer playing
for a major label? Nirvana sometimes sounded to me like nothing more than a
grouchy version of Boston. In contrast, listen to "Hardcore UFOs," the
opening tune on "Bee Thousand," and wait for that distorted, buzzing guitar
track to suddenly drop out, making you think one of your speakers has
shorted, then only to crackle back in arbitrarily after a few seconds of
awkward space -- now that's rock n roll!

Bob O

------------------------------

Message-Id: <199907232238.SAA19982@nantucket.net>
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 1999 18:13:18 -0400
Subject: re: "XTC is out of fashion, untrendy, conciliatory, easy-going,
From: "Diamond" <arnos@nantucket.net>

Someone said "Face it, everybody -- we listen to square music... XTC is out
of fashion, untrendy, conciliatory, easy-going, happy music for people over
30."

well I'd like to disagree...I'm 15 years old, and I have an XTC collection,
and XTC devotion, that is probably equal to any of you "people over
thirty."  I have a great dilike for popular music of today, or preaty much
any day.  Save for my beatles collection, and a few others, must of the
music I love is music that has been out of fashion in any decade. XTC, They
Might be Giants, Brian Eno, The Residents, Sqeeze (Kinda) Talking heads
(Actully, no, they were pretty popular, but my point remains...) While I
realize I am but one teenager, I still think that your statement was a
generalization. Music shouldn't be seperated by what generation you're
from, but from what you like. I'm sure there are people from 15 to 50 who
love XTC. Many of which are probably on this board.

P.S. anyone know when GREENMAN single comes out? (Although, I'm still
waiting for I'D LIKE THAT)

    Sincerly
        Kevin Diamond

------------------------------

From: weslong@usa.net
Message-ID: <19990723233741.20896.qmail@nwcst288.netaddress.usa.net>
Date: 23 Jul 99 17:37:41 MDT
Subject: Okay Dom....let's not get carried away...

Fellow XTCGEEKS:

DOM wrote:
Also, Lauryn Hill is a weird choice of target. Her album is probably the
best of its kind since "Songs In The Key Of Life", and yet you consider it
a pathetic rip-off. Utterly bizarre.

Dom...

Ya make some good points m'lad, and I must say that I agree with you
wholeheartedly(which scares all sorts of exotic forms of hell out of me),
but I must take you to task on this one point....to compare Lauryn Hill's
album to "Songs In The Key Of Life" is giving our lady Hill more than just
a bit of undeserved praise....c'mon now, "Songs" is LARGE baby!

Now then...that being said/written....

WHERE ARE ALL MY XTC TRADERS!?!?!?!?!

Check out my XtC trade/worship site...Optimism's Flames:
http://members.tripod.com/~The_Last_Balloon/index.html

I'm lookin' for memorabilia and cdr's...LMK what ya wanna swap....I got
some serious down time goin' on here in super sunny North Cackalacky!

wesLONG

------------------------------

Message-ID: <379909EF.538300BD@snet.net>
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 1999 20:33:53 -0400
From: Andrew Lippitt <andylipp@snet.net>
Subject: at all, at all, at all, at all, at all...

> but that still does not explain why the Buzzcocks,
> a band that never achieved commercial success, would appear to be a logical
> choice to sell cars.

Why???  Because the song _rocks_.

While some find it an odd combo, Buzzcocks and XTC are the 2 bands that
I loved the most from the late 70's and early 80's.  Both are purveyors
of brilliant, yet undeniably different flavors of pop bliss.

And both  bands continue to put out quality music, although the 'Cocks
haven't changed much stylistically.  A new and reportedly top quality
Buzzcocks release is due in September.  Check <www.buzzcocks.com> for
details.  And _THEY_ tour (wish XTC did).

A different guy called Andy

------------------------------

Message-ID: <19990724045936.6883.rocketmail@web205.mail.yahoo.com>
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 1999 00:59:36 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Lisa G." <devilgirlchocolate@yahoo.com>
Subject: Further musings on the Andy/Sting comparisons...

I do agree with Chris Desmond and Steve Oleson's opinions that Andy is
definitely not trying to emulate Sting in "River Of Orchids."  My
fiance seems to think, however, that the bridge in "I Can't Own Her"
("And when I say I can't own her/I don't mean to buy her...") sounds
like Sting's "When We Dance," a track found on his greatest hits album.

On a related note, he would love to hear Stewart AND Andy (Summers)
play on AV2; not bloody likely, but it would be awesome.

The Devil Girl (aka the rather mundane Lisa)
===
"The grass is always greener when it bursts up through concrete."  ---Andy
Partridge

------------------------------

Message-ID: <19990724193205.10997.qmail@hotmail.com>
From: "Megan Heller" <hellerm@hotmail.com>
Subject: Ignorance! ARRGH!
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 1999 12:32:03 PDT

>I'm sorry Drew, but I don't buy your 'today' thing with regard to
>hip-hop & in particular L. Hill- I think most hip-hop & Lauren Hill
>especially, is a pathetic rip-off. It seems to me it is good only
>because a few R n' B artist say so and because that is what MTV & the
>commercial radio stations are jamming down everyone's throats. The
>media controls the airways- It is very difficult for kids today to
>even hear someone like XTC because you're lucky if even 1 radio
>station in 10 will play anything by them! L. Hill does not seem to
>have this problem. I think pop in general (except for alternative
>bands) all has the same formula to the point where all music has the
>same r n' b backing sound with the exception of maybe some different
>lyrics whether it be a Mariah Carey, Brittany Spears or N' Sync, etc.,
>etc. Rock music will survive and I'm sure in time, will find a way to
>'reclaim' the airways.

okay, so I'm not the first to respond to this, and I was happy to read
Chris D.'s and Dominic's (particularly eloquent) responses.  However, I
must throw in my two cents so I may get rid of this pain in my chest.

To begin not-so-eloquently, what an ignorant, close-minded, elitist load of
crap.  Okay, got that out.  First, I get *so* tired of this "popular is
bad" thing.  I got over that after high school.  Yeah, a lot of popular
music is utter crap, and I personally listen to a lot of stuff that makes
XTC look like Ricky-bloody-Martin (if there are five people on this list
who have each heard five Momus songs, I'll eat my hat).  But then there are
some excellent artists who have succeeded despite popular trends-- Beck,
Radiohead, and, yes, Lauryn Hill.  And what of this whole "rock will
survive to 'reclaim' the airwaves"?  What?  Isn't music allowed to change,
to evolve?  If that were the case, what the hell would we be listening to
now, people banging stones around a fire?  And I can't even bear to go into
the racist implications of completely denouncing r&b as a musical genre and
influence.  ARGH!

Okay, so this is completely inarticulate, and I'm sort of ashamed of that
(considering I'm going for a PhD in English literature).  But I had to say
something, and as I mentioned previously, I appreciate those who were able
to put the points I would have liked to make in more succinct terms.

In short, I don't care if you don't like it, but don't think just because
you like something it's the be-all-end-all.

(incoherent and annoyed),
m.

------------------------------

Message-ID: <379A28D0.9767AAA9@tmbg.org>
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 1999 16:57:57 -0400
From: Ben Gott/Loquacious Music <gott@tmbg.org>
Organization: http://listen.to/loquacious
Subject: 1999

Hillers,

Our Man Giovanni pondered:

>could it be that this is the first decade which will produce
>no memorable new music at all?

Now perhaps his question is rhetorical, but I'd like to give it a shot,
anyway:

"No."

This past week, I took a 20th birthday/hang with the pham vacation.  I
drove to Vermont (5 hours from my house in Connecticut), picked my two
cousins up, drove back home, and spent the week with them.  Andy, who is
13, is a Californian skater-dude who listens to a lot of stereotypically
Californian skater music (like 311, Sublime, and others).  On our way back
home from Vermont, he played 311's "Grassroots" album.  I was skeptical
when he popped the CD in, but by the time it had played through, I was
tapping the steering wheel in time.  The first song, while electric
guitar-y and ska-like, had tambourines in it!  Hellooooo, pop!  And one of
the songs sounded like an outtake from The Church's "Starfish" album!  I
was thoroughly convinced that this wasn't all bad.

Throughout the week, I was exposed to more stuff that I normally wouldn't
have had the time of day for (...XTC fan snobbery sneaking in here...)  We
listened to some Sublime 4-track demos, more 311, and the rap-laden
soundtrack to "South Park."  And you know what?  Even though my entire rap
collection consists of the "old school" artists (and Lauryn Hill), and my
"ska" taste is currently represented by The English Beat, I *liked* this
shit!  And, what's more, *he* liked it.  It spoke to him.  He sang along.
It was important.

Of course, we do have our musical disagreements, he and I.  He likes The
Offspring, and I don't.  He likes Eminem, and I tend to vomit whenever I
hear Eminem.  However -- (and here's the kicker) -- that same cousin was
singing along to all of *my* shit!  Like Elvis Costello's song on the
"Austin Powers" soundtrack!  And **BABYBIRD'S** (buy it, dammit!) "Candy
Girl"!  And Jason Falkner, and Robyn "Jewels for Jon Brion" Hitchcock, and
Grandmaster Flash, and Suzanne Vega, and all that other yummy stuff.

I guess my point is that good music has the ability to transcend all
boundaries, and that music is what *you* make it.  For example: I bought
Sugar's "Copper Blue" this past week, and it's one of the best friggin'
albums I've ever heard...But you might disagree.  Bob Mould might not be
your style.  The same, I suppose, goes for Lauryn Hill, or Tonic, or
Madonna, or poor record contract-less Morrissey, or Blink 182 (or *not*
Babybird's "Ugly Beautiful")...It's a preference thing.  I think that the
90's *are* producing great music, but we just have to listen a little
harder.

So, back to the tambourines on that 311 album (which I'm going to purchase
post-haste): would I have listened to 311 otherwise?  Probably not.  Am I
glad that I heard 'em?  Yup.  Will they be memorable to me on December 31,
1999?  Probably not.  How about to my 13 year-old cousin?  You can bet.
And we can argue for digests about whether or not empathy is the soul of
music...but I think, perhaps, that's what the '90s is teaching us.

Rambling on,
-Ben

P.S.  Speaking of The Church: "Starfish" producer Waddy Wachtel was the
music supervisor on Adam Sandler's hysterical "What the Hell Happened to
Me?"  Isn't that weird?

+----------------------------------------------------------------+
     Benjamin Gott . Loquacious Music . Salisbury, CT 06068
AOL: Plan4Nigel . Telephone (860) 435-9726 . Mobile (207) 798-1859
      I can see a hole in the sky / As wide as your smile...
+----------------------------------------------------------------+

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Message-Id: <l03130301b3bfe06d9965@[208.250.30.212]>
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 1999 19:50:38 -0400
From: MinerWerks <dminer@gte.net>
Subject: Rock Music: The State of the Union

!Buenos tardes, mis amigos en XTC!
(I'm writing from my PowerBook in Guadalajara, Mexico)

I read with much interest the comments on the state of popular music from
digest #5-235. I've got some thoughts on the various threads, but I first
wanted to bring up something that happened recently that I don't think has
been mentioned here.

As several months ago, Seagrams (they of the famous wine coolers) has
created the world's largest record company, UMG (The Universal Music
Group). Seagrams already purcased the Universal entertainment group several
years ago, which featured the MCA, Geffen and Interscope labels. But
several months ago, Seagrams purchased all the music holdings of PolyGram
(their film and video divisions have new homes elsewhere as well) which
included Island, Mercury and DefJam. So now, instead of having several
labels under one umbrella, they've merged into two divisions, the
"Interscope Geffen A&M Records" division in LA and Island DefJam in New
York.

Over the last few months (instead of all at once), Seagrams consolidated
all the staff of these labels, firing over 1,000 people and dropping
hundreds of artists (over 180 from Island and DefJam alone!), including
Buffalo Tom, Morrissey, and Chalkhills favorite Aimee Mann. Since Geffen
was affected, I would bet that had XTC still been in that stable, stateside
distribution of their work would be dropped as well. A lot of artists who
managed to keep their homes at the new company have been outspoken about
the changes in staffing. People like Beck and Sheryl Crow no longer are
working with the same people who helped nurture their careers before they
made it big.

For those of you waiting for Aimee Mann's next album, you'll be happy to
know that it's been done for some time. But before anyone else can release
it, label-less Aimee must BUY BACK the album from Universal!!

Dom <LawsonD@parliament.uk> wrote:

> ... Hip Hop, and to a lesser extent modern
>R&B, is the best selling music in the world at the moment, by quite a long
>way. Only C&W and Heavy Metal come close. Just because something's
>massively popular, it doesn't necessarily follow that it's all a big
>conspiracy to keep XTC out of the charts, or even to control people's
>listening habits.  Yes, there is a big element of that involved - the media
>decides who to promote and then does so, thus influencing millions of
>people - but your argument is based on the fact that you don't like or, to
>be more accurate, appreciate the value of Hip Hop. That's no reason at all
>to imply that people are stupid for buying it.

I think there will be arguments for a few years to come about the influence
of the media and music formats. As you can see from the Seagrams story, the
corporate control over music is getting bigger all the time. But no matter
how big that machine gets, it can't completely eliminate the public's
taste.

but jesse (jsteich@mindspring.com) wrote:

>xtc may be out of fashion, but looks whats in: crap.  people think taste
>used to be better... even when the beatles were around, when the rolling
>stones could top the charts, when the who was great, most of the charts
>were full of shit.  now, this britanny spears, n sync thing is easily
>explained.  12-year-old girls and boys (and boys are buying it as much as
>anyone) have money nowadays.  in the 60's this wasnt (as) true.  i work in
>a record store... in the first month i was there, we sold over 100 copies
>each of backstreet boys and that ex-menudo guy's respective albums.  most
>of the time, "its for my neice," or "my son, the little meathead singing
>'wild wild west' at the top of his lungs five feet from you, wants it" and
>the ilk.  regardless, ALL popular taste is crap.

I think there's an interesting observation in that. Kids have much more
buying power now than ever before. Due to both the fact that money is
available to them and parents are willing to give them a lot more. When I
worked in a record store, one of the biggest selling discs was the Prodigy
one with "Firestarter." Only one time did a parent actually look at the
content of that disc before getting it for their kid. But I think there's a
general blase attitude toward music in general, because it's so ubiquitous.
So people don't expect art or expression from it much anymore, they just
want basics - I'm young and in puppy love (Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears,
Brandy, etc.), I'm angry (hard rap or most hard rock), I'm successful and
mellow (new country), or I'm smart and clever (I think this is where some
of us fit in, at least with the music we like). I know these are broad
generalizations, but I'm just trying to illustrate my idea. Music is now a
different animal, the same way that movies are a different animal since
home video came along. It's not all crap, it's just shallow.

"Bob O'Bannon" <batchain@earthlink.net> wrote:

>I think it would be interesting to discuss the way in which new musical
>forms "advance" from the cutting edge to relative mass acceptance in such a
>short amount of time. Case in point: the Buzzcocks are now being used to
>sell cars. I couldn't believe my ears when I heard "What Do I Get?"  as
>background music for a Toyota SUV. This could be partly due to the fact
>that punk fans from the late 70s are now running the marketing departments
>for major corporations, but that still does not explain why the Buzzcocks,
>a band that never achieved commercial success, would appear to be a logical
>choice to sell cars.

You know, I think there are two issues behind that. One is that those ad
executives learned from the best - their parents and mentors who corrupted
all the symbols of the baby boom generation for marketing purposes. My
first memory of the song "Good Vibrations" as a kid was in that commercial
for Sunkist orange soda! Now, as I have developed an appreciation for Brian
Wilson's work, I look back on that with disgust. Soon after followed the
Nike "Revolution" debacle.

But today's marketing teams crave a post modern spin to this tactic. Hence
the Buzzcocks sell SUVs, and a song I was only marginally aware of, "88
Lines about 100 Women" (I think that's the title), has been rewritten as a
car commercial. And let's not forget the resurrection of Trio's "Da Da Da"
(which previously was only known to me from the 80s teensploitation flick
"Private School") for Volkswagen.

One could also argue that the "cutting edge" is now in line with mass
acceptance. I would cite the electronica genre as cutting edge, but one of
the most successful artists in this genre, Fatboy Slim, has become known in
part because his music is used to underscore commercials!

Giovanni Giusti <giovanni@delizia.com> wrote:

>I humbly surmise that there are bands today that make creative and
>interesting music that will last well after the end of the millennium...
>After all, the 50s had Elvis, the 60s had the Beatles, the 70s had Yes, the
>80s had XTC... could it be that this is the first decade which will produce
>no memorable new music at all?

I have to question the idea that Yes stands for the same level of
popularity and longevity that Elvis or the Beatles stood for. As far as
music from the 70s goes, I think Queen proved that they had appeal beyond
their days, when the music from their heyday was once again appreciated in
this decade. I know some people might even claim that Rush has a better
pedigree over Yes in the world of 70s rock. Was there a clear-cut success
of the 70s a la the Beatles? There wasn't such a thing in the 80s, I think.
It would be nice to think that XTC provided the most lasting and important
contribution to the 80s music scene, but I think we'll be hailing Madonna
or R.E.M. as more influential. A more unusual but likely choice would be
Prince. Michael Jackson used to be considered important, but he's become
some sort of cartoon that people can't take seriously as an artist.

I think we're still too close to the 90s to really determine what music
will be lasting or memorable. Most likely it will be music that breaks
conventions, and it won't be in the "rock" genre. As much as it hurts me
personally, I've been coming around to the fact that "rock" music, as we
know it, is pretty much dead. The only vestiges of the genre that remain
viable seem to be in hybrids, such as rap-rock or electronica-rock. Most
artists I've liked in the past few years that actually became successful
were either a hybrid of some sort or they fell prey to a fickle public who
saw them as a novelty act. There's no longevity in the straight-ahead rock
genre anymore, at least at a major label level.

Chris (CCooli9575@aol.com) wrote that the last really important rock band
we had was Nirvana. I can't really think of another choice. I thought
Garbage, one of those hybrid bands I mentioned, seemed poised to become a
very important force in music, but they seem to be stuck in novelty hell
now. Lauryn Hill (and the Fugees), Puff Daddy and Dr. Dre are going to be
remembered for a while to come, I assume. And time will tell if the new
hard rock artists (Limp Bizkit, Kidd Rock, Deftones) are going to lead a
new direction or become pase, like White Zombie.

I guess ultimately, we should just be open to whatever direction music goes
in. Instead of defending one genre against another, we should take Dom's
advice:

>Why not take both? More music = more fun!

= Derek

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End of Chalkhills Digest #5-236
*******************************

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