Six months after my last blog, which was on the occasion of Cecil Taylor’s passing, I’m back to fill a gap. In my life that is. I’ve spent the last six months writing the first draft of Barry Guy’s biography, a great honour and a labour of love as far as I’m concerned. Thank you, Barry, for the opportunity.
There is a lot more to do before it is ready, so I thought that I would return to the short - form structure, something that Donald Trump is putting at risk with his Triumph of the Ill tweets.
I have just started David Stubbs’ new book, called “Mars by 1980, the Story of Electronic Music”, hardly an original subject, but he’s a good writer and all, and it has got me thinking already and I’m only on page 35. He’s good a looking at the dialectic between (’popular’) electronic music and rock/pop, and how the two inform and contrast each other. Returning from the at times somewhat rarified shores of Barry Guy and Maya Homburger’s music, to those of beats and beatz, I was struck by how the very greatest rock music reaches the parts that experimental music, whether by ‘establishment’ composers or bedroom boffins, just can’t. Hardly a blinding epiphany, I know, but it’s easy to forget how difficult it can be to do rock really well, and how despised the form has become in 21st century cultural circles. So, I’m going to briefly look at two bands, both considered cutting-edge in their time, and both perhaps also considered infra dig as far as ‘serious music’is concerned, The Stooges and Wolf Eyes.
As per received rock lore, I, like so many of my generation, worshiped The Stooges through their three officially released albums, ‘The Stooges’, ‘Fun House’ and ‘Raw Power’, I extended it to the two Berlin/Bowie records, ‘The Idiot’ and ‘Lust for Life’, the infamous ‘Metallic KO’ bootleg (overrated), the one with James Williamson, ‘Kill City’ (underrated) and, finally, the seventies swansong of sorts, ‘New Values’ (a curate’s egg). There were two eighties aftershocks, ‘Repo Man’ (with a tremendous Steve Jones performance) from the film of the same name, and the very likable hit ‘Real Wild Child’, and that was it for me. Ive started listening to Iggy and the band a few weeks back (for reasons that I can’t now remember), and realsed that I had been starved of rock music for too long - all three Stooges albums haven’t really dated, except for the first, and that still remains a bizarre creation, given when it was released(1969). aLst week, when visting a record shop in Sheffield, I chanced upon another CBS ‘Legacy’ release, that of 1973′s of ‘Raw Power’, i.e. a chance for the company to put out old stuff once more, with a few rarities, and milk even more lucre out of a tired old beast. Except that this one at least had some interesting ‘additional material’ to a ‘remixed’ version of the original record - an unauthorised recording of the 1973 band playing Atlanta, Georgia and a couple of studio bonus tracks. So I gave it a punt.
To be continued.