Scanning the other week through a bunch of old P&Js for examples of when the electorate let political sentimentality override aesthetic judgement, I was struck by how incredibly high things like Artists United Against Apartheid and Midnight Oil had placed: the former's
Sun City album was #5 in 1985 (and ‘I Ain’t Gonna Play Sun City’ was voted #1 single!), while Midnight Oil's Diesel & Dust reached #4 in 1988 (the year of PE, MBV, SY, etc etc; the whole 1988 chart is a bit of a shock actually, comparing it with how the music world looked through Melody Maker eyes). Impeccable causes, for sure (compensation and restitution for dispossessed aborigines in the case of Midnight, shudder, Oil) but… that ain’t right, letting right-on biases over-rule the aural evidence. But anyways, all this got me thinking about the way rock criticism has always leaned heavily to the left, politically. Obviously there are good historical reasons for that, rock itself having at one point been in the vanguard of change etc etc, BUT, given that there are in fact an awful lot of conservative people in the world, and not all of them are old… Well it made me wonder, where was the body of right-wing rock-write? I mean, does it actually not exist or did I just miss it? The only significant rock thinker that comes to mind as overtly right-wing is Joe Carducci, and even then his is an odd sort of anarcho-libertarian, less-power-to-the-state brand of conservatism, mixed up with a bit of ornery illiberalism. But who else is there? It’s pretty easy to think of openly right-wing musicians--Ted Nugent springs immediately to mind, Rush of course, and weren't Queensryche a bit dodgy; metal's full of them, I'm sure--plus there's others who succumbed, usually briefly, to the lure of Reagan (Neil Young, Prince, Iggy Pop). But it's hard to hink of any rock writers who've celebrated rock from a right-wing perspective, let alone come up (a la Carducci) with a convincing theory of how rock works and why it matters that meshes with a conservative worldview.