Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Was rejected from the 21st century once, trying again.


Hopefully I have changed this so it is acceptable.

Will work on the content for the next time.

Monday, 7 July 2014

1987 - and why U2 aren't very good

Hello dear reader, I hope that you are well, have you heard any good music recently? If you have I would also love to hear it. Please let me know what it is.

I was at a party recently, you are possibly stunned to hear that news, but yes it is true, and in an even larger surprise I was talking about music. Indeed, I was being brought to heel about my post 'I HATE U2'. I was even told that The Joshua Tree was the best album of the 80s.

Well, as you can imagine, I took a little umbrage to this , and given I have this medium to detail a response I thought I would use it.  So, was The Joshua Tree the best album of the 80s?

Well I thought about it, for all of roughly 2 seconds and came up with the somewhat surprising answers of - no it wasn't. It wasn't even the best album in the year it was released. 1987. Here right now, I am going to prove it. This is something I thought may have been ridiculously easy. You know what, it is. As it turns out, 1987 was a pretty good year for music. A pretty good year indeed. A lot of actually great albums were released. None of them by U fucking 2.

Let's start in indie and alternative.

There was Substance by New Order, that album has, True Faith, Bizarre love triangle and Blue Monday.

I know it is a compilation, but for me, that was one of the first times I had heard a lot of the songs on it, and frankly, they are simply fantastic. I run out of words when I talk about New Order. There is very little else out there like them. Except for this song that also came out in 1987

Given where I am able to go in this post, this is an odd place to start. However, the purpose of it is to show that , unlike U2, there is music that can be mainstream but still has a heart, some passion, something a little more real to it.

Anyway, this came out by the mighty Pixies from the album Come on Pilgrim

Sonic Youth also put out Sister. Quite a good album, a lot of peoples favorite album. One they were able to tour with simply playing the tracks from that album 20 years later.

1987 was also a great year for Hip Hop or as we called it back then, rap. A great year. We had the seminal album Paid in full by Eric B And Rakim.

Not to mention, Rhyme Pays by Ice T, which has the song that basically started gangsta rap

I have no idea if you like this genre or not. But the two tracks above had a huge impact on my world and even though the production on the ice T track lacks a little, it is a great track. i saw a great documentary called ' Something out of nothing' which was hosted by Ice -T. In oit, basically every rap artist from this time period says, well we heard 6 in the morning and we wanted to do something like that. We wanted to show that we could do it to. hard to think of a bigger accolade for people to pay.

Also in rap in 1987, you had Yo! bum rush the show, by Public Enemy, Bigger and Deffer by LL Cool J, how ya like me now by Kool Moe D, NWA and the posse by NWA

Mainly, for me, 1987 was the year when The Cult released Electric and Guns and Roses released Appetite for Destruction. I have written here, about how Appetite changed a lot of my perception of music. It still sounds good, to my ears it always will.

I love that song and love that album. I don't think I even need to go into why it is a better album than The Joshua Tree. you know it, I know it - everyone knows it, no need to say it.

I also love Electric by The Cult. For people of my age , i.e. a little, but not too much, too old, Electric is a milestone. A maker that is used to show our generational links. My favorite song on it is the following

Really though, it was a great time for Dark pop as I like to call it.

We had, Music for the masses by Depeche Mode, Strangeways here we come by The Smiths.

Kiss me kiss me kiss me by the Cure,

(1987 not a good year for Robert Smiths dancing however)

Document by REM.

These bands, along with new order and The Pet shop boys,  for me , define this unusual time in music better than anyone else. This was a time when it was still acceptable to have a synthesizer , but rather than just write a little ditty, to do something interesting with the noise it made. Put it to some real emotions and in a band like The Smiths, move to a place that can be described as almost an alternate universe of music. One where everything wasn't so great, but it was a lot more interesting.

You have enough music to listen to. But please remember that also this year, Prince released Sign o the Times, INXS released Kick, Dinosaur jr released You're living all over me and of course Diesel and Dust by Midnight oil.here is my favourite track from that album.

I feel I have given you a huge amount of examples of the good music that was around in this year. It is true that many of the above albums are not considered to be the best of the artists. Many went on to better things and many had better things behind them . I have looked at a number of the Top ten albums of the year and see that The Joshua Tree makes most of the main stream lists. None of the non mainstream ones though. Why? Well if I look at the track listing I get the following songs on the first side.

Where the streets have no name
I still haven't found what I am looking for
with or without you
Bullet the blue sky
running to stand still

people only ever listen to this side. they never listen to the next tracks

red hill mining town
in Gods country
trip through your wires
one tree hill
Mothers of the disappeared.

Why do people like the first 5 tracks so much? I have genuinely given this a lot of thought and have even listened to them again in order to write this piece. This was not an easy thing for me to do and will no doubt now mess up my Google history, giving me options that will probably be associated with the masses. The things I do for you.

I think what appeals to people is two fold. Firstly, the lyrics are very basic and repeated endlessly. However, not necessarily repeated in order and as such create the impression that more is being said than it actually is. Listen to Where the streets have no name, 'love turns to rust' and 'blown by the wind' come up about 10 times each. The lyrics are also what I would call pseudo epic. What I mean by this is that they elongate the vowel sounds and as such make them better for arena type singing (or more likely, drunken BBQ). The lyrics are also , as I have described before, fortune cookie philosophy. ' I still haven't found what I am looking for' relates to anyone in a sentimental mood. Very few people don't have something they feel this about. With or without is just about difficult periods of relationships. Everyone has that and he is not saying anything, but it could apply to everyone. Like a fortune teller saying, I see you have had some difficulties before. It means nothing, he isn't talking about himself, rather trying to appeal to you.

Secondly, the music itself is very straightforward. It has a simple four four beat drum with a similar base line. With the base being played a lot of the time on the partial off beat of the drum. The overlay for the guitars is done at the reasonably standard, two to three octaves higher, and while played in a four four blues beat, is done on every four bar with repetitive notes. First done about 200 or so years ago, it is very effective at creating atmosphere. (the effect, obviously not the four four blues beat). The songs generally have an increase in intensity, rather than speed, and then tail away towards the end. Meaning that the music and lyrics don't change, but they play or singer louder. Also there is a lot of doubling up of the recording of the instruments to give a fuller sound. This is not criticism as most bands do it. Just an explanation.

This album really made U2 a big name in the US . it is easy to see why given all of the US imagery involved in it. There is nothing wrong with this, they aren't exactly hiding it by calling the album Joshua Tree are they? One wonders where this comes from though, up until this point they were a very Irish band, almost a political band in many of their songs which can be , very loosely , claimed to be protest songs. I am cynical about this mainly because it is a remarkably obvious ploy for album sales. 

So what does this all mean? Well, it means the songs are sentimental, easy to sing along to, and basic in their construction. Occupying a place that allows people to listen without really being challenged.

This is acknowledged as the bands high point. As you can see from the above, their high point doesn't even really compare with the secondary or maybe tertiary works of other bands. I know that my opinion of this will not make any difference to you putting it on at 11:30 after a few drinks and singing along.

That's Ok, I know I am right.