Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Here's my second blogpost for The Guardian, on whether the mid-Eighties will ever be embraced by rock's recycling industry or is it just terminally barren and charmless, the concept of "late postpunk" and so forth.

I suppose the idea I was reaching for but didn't quite get to (and just as well with a word count of over 1500--someday I will write something for the Grauniad that's actually blog-size) is just how much musical activity at any given time is different from what the period will be officially remembered for, e.g. in official histories of 1980s indie-rock, the cast is things like SST, Replacements, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jnr, Buttholes (i.e. Our Band Could Be Your Life type stuff, the music that paved the way for grunge) or it is C86/Creation/Spacemen 3/My Bloody Valentine (the UK equivalent, paving the way for... um, well, shoegaze I suppose).... essentially stuff that comes from punk but takes on the Sixties influence (which is varied, there are many "Sixties"). BUT in any given period there's always a lot of anomalous activity, sometimes "straggler" type stuff from earlier phases, although if you tilt your head to a different angle it can be re-seen as anticipating the Next Big Phase. So some of the mid-late Eighties non-Sixties pillaging independent sector stuff--your Renegade Soundwaves, Meat Beat Manifestos, On U to an extent, also the Electronic Body Music stuff which I clean forgot to mention--that was bods messing with beats and samples and sequencers, some of these bods would resurface with the early 90s techno/rave moment, be "timely" again. And sometimes people you wouldn't necessarily have expected leaped into that milieu, e.g. Rolo from The Woodentops, becoming Pluto I think was his nom de production.

Paddy Forwood sent me details of a compilation he put out a few years ago that overlaps with the period I'm discussing and is quite "late postpunk", albeit not the industrial funk end of it but more the Ron Johnson-y sector:

COMMERCIALLY UNFRIENDLY: A History Of The British Underground 1983–1989
1. Wings – The Fall
2. Urban Ospreys – The Nightingales
3. I Love You Mr. Disposable Razors – A Witness
4. The Judge – Inca Babies
5. Debra – Big Flame
6. Warfood – Pigbros
7. Spike Milligan’s Tape Recorder – The Membranes
8. Give Me The Keys – Noseflutes
9. Blackmailer’s Heartache – The Shrubs
10. Incineration – Dog Faced Hermans
11. Cold In Summer – The Great Leap Forward
12. Gonna Rob The Spermbank – The Ex
13. Fuck America – Jackdaw With Crowbar

Finally, on the subject of "late postpunk" (or should that be "belated postpunk"?) and specifically the second-wave of avant-funk, this Monitor piece from early 1985 is relevant.