What Happened To The Music That I Love?
Over the last month or so I’ve had the same conversation a couple of times regarding music and I think it warrants a few inches of space on this here blog.
You see, nobody makes music that I listen to anymore. (Let me just shoot the inevitable jokes out the sky by saying that some people may be thankful of that.) It’s now getting to the point that my search for music is going further and further back in time, which I suppose is no bad thing. But it all points to one thing: Nobody is making the music that I listen to anymore.
As I write this I currently have a biro note on the back of my hand to remind me to look up the songs “The Wee Wee Hours” by Chuck Berry and “Key To The Highway” by Little Walter for Chris’ sakes! These were recommended by Keith Richards on the Desert Island Discs podcast. I’m getting my music recommendations from Desert Island Discs, People.
Today I have listened to Pantera (for those of you who don’t know, they were an ear bleeding Southern metal band whose M.O was to become heavier with each album. They achieved it), Black Sabbath (following a trend here), Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Kills and, thanks to Perth’s local radio station, Roxette.
Only one of those albums was made this century.
I’m not saying that nobody is making good heavy rock music anymore (I know I totally just said that very thing above). What I’m saying is that nobody is blowing the bloody doors off of rock music anymore. And I have a theory as to why.
Before we do that, let us go take a little trip back in time. (Check me out, coming across like a host for some retrospective tv show.)
Lets begin with Elvis. There were guys before him but he is the most iconic and notable so it’s a convenient place to kick this off. He blew the bloody doors off. Knocked a generation off its feet. Along with him came Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash et all.
Not long afterwards came The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, The Who, The Doors and a truck load of other incredible bands from the 60’s. From there music swung towards glam rock, Detroit punk rock, soul, then disco. (I know I’m missing a load of other genres here like R&B, metal and folk but hopefully you get my drift.)
By the 80’s electronica, new wave, the new romantics, thrash metal, pop and so on.
Changes were just around the corner every few years. Someone was waiting to rip up the rule book and take the music scene on a completely different course.
Lets focus on a few bands. Or lets put this another way. Lets focus on bands I was into.
Guns n Roses chucked hairspray rock into the bin, Nirvana then blew them out the water a few years later. After Kurt killed himself Nu Metal took over but was mercifully snuffed out by Queens Of The Stone Age who stripped heavy rock right back to its bones. That’s four complete U-Turns in just over a decade within one single genre. That’s not taking into account the whole rave culture, Brit Pop, The Pixies, hordes of enormous American metal acts, multitudes of Manchester bands, rap, pop and Michael Jackson. These were all going on at the same time. Incredible.
Since the late 90’s/ early 2000’s.
Nothing. A barren wasteland.
Sure there have been big bands and big pop artists (Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Adele, Florence and the Machine) But no big rock band has came off the streets and blown the bloody doors off. Why?
Or as my mate Johnny put it- You no longer have genres fighting against each other. You have artists fighting against each other.
Playlists fight one another in a digital stream, Spotify (which I use and love) gives a daily update of new songs and albums to listen to, which you would think would have people queuing up for albums. It seems that it has the opposite effect. Its music overload, record companies aren’t making a great deal of money out of it (not like they used to) so they aren’t investing in bands. Bands don’t get the bucks to back them therefore they don’t get the time to establish themselves so they fall through the cracks into a sea of musicians all trying to find their way online. Then U2 lob themselves onto your iTunes library over night.
I like heavy rock music. Lots of it. I just want someone to come along and knock the whole thing over again. How they actually go about doing it is a different matter altogether. I have the feeling it would have to be a kinda renegade, self promoted, self recorded artist that goes viral. As long as they are the dogs balls. That’s all I care about.
On a side note I think its worth mentioning that some people, in the past got into music, or a band, by noticing the cover of an album. They seen it before they heard it. Digital music has robbed people of that connection.
(Before I go and look up Chuck Berry I just want to throw a few stats out there about Guns n Roses. Their debut album Appetite For Destruction is the biggest selling debut album of all time. It has sold more copies than Bob Dylan has sold albums in his entire career. It sold more copies than U2 sold during the entire 1980’s, that includes their huge Joshua Tree album. All done by a bunch of delinquents who were either drug addicts, alcoholics or a raging narcissist. ‘ You think they would get the time of day in the current market?)
I would love it if you could take the time to leave any recommendations.