Saturday, October 15, 2005

Rip It Up And Start Again - initial thoughts

This is the Simon Reynolds book about Post-Punk that everyone is reading, including me. I like it! In a weird way, it reminds me of a book I read once about the American Civil War. It kept having testimony from people who would say of battles "If only there had a couple more hours of daylight - then we would have really flattened those cockfarmers". The equivalent in this book is bands lamenting in retrospect that some move on their part effectively killed their career. Usually this move is refusing to play Top Of The Pops, often for the lamest of reasons. The Gang Of Four were invited onto the programme, but refused after being asked to change the line "the rubbers in your pocket" to "the rubbish in your pocket". Magazine did actually play, but delivered a weird performance that alienated the audience and stiffed their then rising single. And there are others.

In the world of art generally, not compromising is seen as a good thing. I cannot but wonder in these cases, however, whether the bands were pointlessly refusing to compromise on small things that would have brought the big thing - their uncompromised, pure music - to a much wider audience. That said, I am also not entirely convinced that the big time really was waiting for these bands, because surely if there was a mass market for these angular, spiky acts then at least some of the post-punk acts would have found it eventually? Or maybe the success of acts like U2 shows what could have been possible by a band who were willing to play the game.

These were my initial thoughts... since then I have ploughed further on through the book and read other reviews of it, with the result that my own thoughts have developed. My current thinking is not fully formulated.

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