posted on April 04, 2007 04:47
A comment ("...back in the days when it meant something to him...") left by the reader 'Wazza' on my first blog entry has got me thinking. It was in reference to Robbie Williams and seemed to suggest that Williams' heart is no longer in his music, that somehow he'd lost his muse. Williams' rise was certainly a dramatic one - from making it massive by proving his old mates wrong, by having 250,000 people chant his name. Maybe now Williams is suffering from the Rules of being a Celebrity in the Modern Age that dictate that he cannot stay on a pedestal that high. He has to fall. Maybe that fall has everything to do with his manic depressive nature but, personally, Williams has, in recent years, become a much more interesting artist (though both Williams' record company and would probably disagree based on the quite dismal performance of his 2006 release, Rudebox). It seems to me that the music now means more to Williams than his audience.
"...back in the days when it meant something...". Another interpretation of Wazza's comment applies to the quite extraordinary number of 40+ year old rock stars who are returning to their old stomping grounds in the hope of rejuvenating both their lives and their music. The Who's Endless Wire was a tired rehash of Tommy except the main protaganist wasn't a deaf, dumb and blind boy but Townsend himself explaining away his rather unusual websurfing activities. The beauty of the Stooges was that their thrillingly ugly slabs of sound raged against their perceived lack of respect. Now their first release in over 30 years, the Weirdness, sounds cleansed, anodyne and should never have been allowed to happen.
The Pixies have reformed. The Police are reforming... and are guaranteed to make huge amounts of money from their impending world tour. Indeed Pixies legend Black Francis has clearly stated that he is in this game for the filthy lucre (and let's not even talk about that Sex Pistol's reunion embarrassment). Does the music still mean something to them?
Not that this drive to recreate the glory years can be a totally negative thing.... The elder statesman of literate Aussie rock, Nick Cave, has regressed on his latest release, Grinderman, to the clanking, discordant days of the Birthday Party. And rather thrilling it is too with its dirty laughs (No Pussy Blues) and garage beats. Indeed the original press release for the band describes them rather perfectly - "Foul-mouthed, noisy, hairy, and damn well old enough to know better."
Grinderman stands out because, whilst it is a nod to the past, it doesn't pander to the past. Cave is 50 years old this year and he sounds it. But you can hear his heart is still in it. And he kinda sounds like the Stooges...
There are some bands that I would love to see reform, for purely selfish reasons of course. REM (the original Bill Berry lineup), the Band, Midnight Oil. Any other suggestions? More ...