What happened folks? In the mid 50’s, Mr. Elvis A. Presley walked into Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee and became the very first, the best, the symbol, legend, embodiment and icon of rock n roll. Like Sid Vicious to Punk, Frank Sinatra to big band, Johnny Cash to country and western or even Dana to lunatics, Elvis was the total hero, founder and creator of rock n roll. Don’t listen to music nerds, geeks and critics (ahem), Elvis started everything. Forget who influenced him, forget who wrote for him and forget who marketed him, Elvis was it.
Ever since the Kings death, music has flourished through the efforts, talents and hard work, creativity of various people and constant changes in popular culture. From Elvis, Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis in the fifties, rock expanded and produced the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and many others throughout the early sixties. Before long Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, The Yardbirds, Jimi Hendrix, Cream and many more appeared. The Doors came out of the west coast. The Who went rock, Led Zeppelin were formed and Jefferson Airplane stayed touring after Woodstock. Just before things could get civilized, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple came out. Queen, Clapton, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Stooges, Alice Cooper, T-Rex, KISS,…the list is endless people. Then came the 80’s, when pop reached a true peak before the ever looming wave of commercialism took it’s firm grip and strangled the genre, until it’s credibility was lower than Gary Glitters. On the other hand you had Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, Guns N Roses, Def Leppard, Whitesnake, U2, Judas Priest, OZZY, Slayer, Sepultura, before the end of the decade when Nirvana, The Chilli Peppers, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Blur, Oasis, The Stone Roses, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Smiths, The Pixies, Joy Division, The Happy Mondays, New Order (yes the 24 lot), Faith No More, Nine Inch Nails and then (phew this is a long one) onto Marilyn Manson, The Foo Fighters, Weezer, Korn and so on before the late nineties and boom…nothing happened……funnily enough, fuck all has happened since. How in the hell did almost five decades of amazing, astonishing and diverse creation suddenly grind to an almost complete stop?
Things seemed to fall completely off course. Metal bands suddenly merged rapidly with dance music and rap. Korn had dabbled but so did Aersomith and nothing happened to them. Instead of Angus Young and the D belting out solid, hard hitting blues rock anthems you had fat ugly guys in costumes roaring at you about being bullied and still being virgins living in their mothers houses. Metro sexual, stylish geeks whining on about falling and crying about some girl next door that Lemmy would probably kidnap and turn into a hooker on sun-set before the night’s out. These guys in fitted suits, wearing ties with spiky hair, tattoos and dog collars were mixing Kraftwork with the eighties glam rockers like Twisted Sister, Poison and the likes while wearing their hair like girls. And I don’t mean the old style of hairy bikers drooling over a bar counter girly style, I mean a female hairdresser on a night out style. Like they were trying to keep disobeying the nagging disapproval from generations past and pushing things to some ridiculous limit that nearly goes full circle.
As for Pop music, that fell into the hands of TV companies, dance got old and turned into some demented, hindered state of destruction while indie music became overwhelmed by a horde of Eco-Friendly, Voices of poverty, injustice, animal cruelty and environmentally conscious millennium hippies. Voices that turned away from Indies recreational drug use, love and loss, party image and transformed it into a voice for all the issues in the world rock stars shouldn’t give two shits about, at least not on stage. The likes of Tom Yorke, Chris Martin, Bono, Snow Patrol, Kings of Leon, Kasabian and all that other horse shit. Their songs were so impotent, corpses of tax attorneys could laugh at them. Complaining, moaning and whining about the poverty and cruelty in the world they wouldn’t think of donating their profits to. Bands that appeal to societies total dregs. Bored children, housewife’s, grandparents, indie fans, jocks and just about every member of the heard the western world boasts. Droning brought to extremes of the human soul to a point it becomes so bogged down in ego, insincerity and boredom it would fail to shock a timid kitten.
Metal fell even more of the pits as the old genres piled up with hopeless hack impersonators before bursting at the seems into millions of decaying breakaways. Nu-Metal even buckled (not a bad thing, pile of shite aswell) as Emo broke through their last stand along with nu-punk and metal became even more appealing to the ugly, fat rejects of social society and the fashionable, jock culture more than ever before. After Radiohead’s Creep on the jukebox American Idiot and the Killers would follow and all the trendy’s and Goths alike would bop along. Metal was again infiltrated by main stream culture and unlike before the last ‘icons’ weren’t strong enough to tear it right back for the people of society who used the music as it should be used. Not for pusses crying and ugly nerds to find shelter. Metal is the music for the angry soul (sounds gay I know but hey, I am smoking in case you hadn’t noticed), the serious partiers, the ‘dangerous’ people of society.
Rock N roll lost it’s fight much earlier. After the Guns N Roses era came to a close, few rock bands ever managed to reach those heights again. Don’t even bother with the Killers and The Kings of Leon…or The Strokes bitch. I’m talking about real fucking n roll. The kind of rock n roll that made all the bad things bands these days demonize like drinking, sex, destruction, rebellion and a good hearty message of Fuck You to anyone who bothered them, fun!. Elvis shock things up, the Stones defined it, Aerosmith brought it miles higher while AC/DC put the fucking boots on before Guns N Roses perfected it in every single sense of the word.
The world is losing it’s icons. Right now I can’t think of any that have come out since the early nineties. I mean a true icon of rebellion. Pete Doherty, and Amy Winehouse make a mockery of drug addicted musicians which, throughout the history of music, have written some of the most amazing music ever created. The Beatles, Jim Morrison, The Grateful Dead, Hendrix, Keith Richards, Janis Joplin, Kobain etc. Bono, Yorke and Martin take the places of people like Neil Young with his stories, Springsteen and his zest for life and Bowies ever changing persona, image and style only to replace it with gilt tripping, giver of life wannabe humanitarian ideologist façade while they doge taxes and pontificate to fans what they should do, wear, believe in, live and breath. Forget ‘think for yourself’, the message was spelled out in bold impact lettering and strangely enough, a discontented mass fell for it, hook line and sinker.
That’s pretty much where we are in my eyes. I’ve forgotten many of the previous generation’s true greats but there’s only so much you can write in an hour and keep semi-coherent. I’ve also neglected some of the better talents to emerge on the international scene and some of the worse ones. Arcade Fire and MGMT to name a couple. But that’s how I see things, pretty much that black and white. Most of the old styles got confused, disjointed, lost in translation and overwhelmed in image, style and forced restrictions and beliefs and turned them into uninspired shells of their former selves. I’m not saying charity is bad, I’m not saying there’s no credibility in any of the new bands these days and I’m not saying looking after the environment is wrong, animals should be mistreated, people shouldn’t be nice to each other and drugs are good. I believe the exact opposite of each one and a conscious attitude is essential to the basic fabrication of mankind’s cohabitation together and civilized society. What I’m saying is people should learn this from other sources like parents and a proper education rather than one of mankind’s forms of entertainment. Aren’t we allowed to relax, switch totally off and dream sometimes with the horrors of some societies and the worlds problems being shoved in our face at every fucking turn?
Maybe there was one message spelt out by one of the golden age icons that we should listen to is the words of Jim Morrison.
“When the music’s over, turn out the lights, turn out the lights,”