Wednesday, June 28, 2023

The Generation Game

... is the title of my long-awaited study of the life and work of Bruce Forsyth. 

Only kidding - it's actually the title of an essay about the concept of the Generation. Which is something that's long been part of my parlance, as it is for so many professional and civilian pontificators about youth culture and popular music. But when I started to think about it, its solidity as a concept began to wobble. Quickly it came to seem as tenuous as it is evidently tenacious. So in this essay, with a little bit of help from Jim Morrison, I poke away at the notion of the Generation - along with related consensus artifacts of "calendrical mysticism" like the Decade, the Era, and the Zeitgeist - in an attempt to see if there's anything there or whether it's just "a bunch of bullshit". 

The piece was written at the invitation of Vincent Normand as a contribution to the research project The Raving Age. Stories and Figures of Youth, under the auspices of ECAL, the University of Art and Design in Lausanne, Switzerland.  Lots to check out here, including an essay about rave as the last European youth culture, another about world-building and the end of the world, and a meditation titled "Younger Than Yesterday" by Agnès Gayraud. 

Monday, June 26, 2023

RIP Teresa Taylor


Sad to hear about the way-too-early departure of Teresa Taylor of the Butthole Surfers

Well remember her contribution to the sonic and visual impact of the Buttholes live, flailing flame-haired at her kit as half of the group's double-drummer attack. For a flashback taste, jump to about 2.58 into this, or 3.48 

And of course her steals-the-show appearance in Slacker.

Met Teresa just the once, when doing an interview with the Buttholes in late '87 - an experience akin to being a supply teacher assigned a particularly unruly class and being completely unable to keep order. For nothing resembling an interview took place - it was more like I was a witness or eavesdropper on an hour of Butthole banter.  But that makes them sound fearsome, when in fact they were absolutely amiable - and she was particularly sweet.  

This picture with her and Gibby entwined in TP is by Andrew Catlin and is from the Melody Maker - as used in David Stubbs April '88 cover story (the first of two Butthole Surfers front covers in 1988). 

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

The B.R.A.

When Evan Haga, my editor at Tidal, asked if I wanted to write something on Britain's out-size contribution to rock,  I said: "That's my special subject! Just about the only thing I feel patriotic about!". (Well, historically - I wouldn't say there's a lot in recent times that stirs vicarious pride). 

Here's the resulting essay on the British Rock Achievement and what its causes have been.  And here's a Tidal playlist I made - it just kept getting bigger and bigger (wotta lotta achievement to cram in there) 

Questions for the massive:  

What special factors and conditions did I miss here?  

What, if anything, could currently sustain a musical Brit-jingoism? 

What else is there to be patriotic about, as a Brit? 

As I note in the piece, I don't follow sports, so saying football or cricket (or tennis - or did the French invent that?) will not count for me. We'll leave out the political: things like parliamentary democracy, the jury system, etc. Anyway, they are offset by imperialism etc.  English Literature seems like it belongs to the entire world, somehow. So what does that leave? 

I might try to make an exhaustive list at the place where I do that kind of thing.  

But right now, off the top of my head, I can only think of British comedy (the subject of David Stubbs 's imminent book Different Times).  

Then there's our slender contribution to global cuisine: Yorkshire Pudding, Marmite, Gentlemen's Relish, and the sausage roll (I assume that's a British invention). Toast, the greatest comestible ever invented, feels British but it seems unlikely we came up with that first or alone.

Oh and Radio Four - something I gave little thought to as a youth, and never listened to at all as an adult when I still lived in the country. But on my visits back to the U.K. over the years, especially staying with my mum (who has it on almost constantly - sometimes even has it on in the background while the TV is on), it has become something that amazes and comforts in equal measure.   

Wednesday, June 07, 2023

RIP Tony McPhee

This is my fave Groundhogs tune - when I first heard it, something about its wiry angularity reminded me of, well, Wire. Then years later I read somewhere that the Groundhogs was one of the only bands all the members of Wire liked.

Now this one is the Stone Classic - simply one of the greatest hard rock songs of the '70s. Fantastic production. 

Tony McPhee #3 also did this potty solo album with berserk synth.  Love the record cover. 



Remissly missed recent RIPs:








Outside music: