My Bloody Valentine. Proof in practice that occasionally reunions can be a good thing.
It’s a tricky one. Reform. The (banking) world is in unutterably dire need of it, The Stone Roses, less so. It’s funny innit. You’d think with bands, it oughta be a Golden Rule. It certainly used to be. Whatever it was you had when you were young, a gang, and hungry – well, chaps, you don’t have it now. Not that old people don’t get hungry. Or form gangs. But it is never the same. It’s old news. So, the somewhat logical but clearly bollocks argument goes, it ought be to make more art. To create. They are artists, right? Do us a favour though, old guys: DON’T. With the exception of (half of) Springsteen’s Magic, and a good bit of Bowie’s Heathen, who makes anything consistently good 20 years on? And don’t say Neil Young and Dylan, cos smart men, crazy heads and sometimes fiery curmudgeons they may be, but you know what you want to hear them play when you go see them. And don’t deny it, bitch. But I guess as each album passes, adding one ace tune to the canon is good enough for the old guys, although the same strike rate woulds doom a novice band.
And is a good, if less crazed, rendition of an old song such a crime? Or is it just pop music done really well?
And yet, The fucking Cure were undeniably admirable, cool and, for fat old freaks, musically pretty lithe the other day. Of course the good new songs sound roundly similar to the good old ones. The Pistols were good in the park. Really good though. No new songs, and fuck you and your po-faced face if you disagreed. The Pixies? Well the demystification and the fine tooth comb bottom drawer catalogue purging, and the Tom Petty-ish solo records (particularly) and, ah, the fatness sort of took their mojo away. Replacing it with a sort of MOJO filter. I love MOJO but it is more excited about dead folks than live ones. And yeah Bonnie Prince Billy, I am looking at you.
Now I saw the Roses when they were supposed to be crap. The Second Coming tour at Brixton Academy. They were amazing. Truly. I like The Second Coming and would hurl all my Prince records at zombies before pulling that one out. To be fair, I have a lot of Prince, so purely numerically, it’s the smart move. The Second Coming is a really fucking brilliant album and I am damn sure history will eventually put down its concensus terrorism script and have the balls to agree. Ian Brown is clearly as mad as a wet bag of steamy mushrooms these days and, like a cornered 5 year old, is intent on standing his ground and insisting that, since the Reading Festival debacle, he MEANS to sing appallingly flat, cos it is where he’s at. That or he’s deaf. Either way, poor sod. Don’t do it, men! The chances of failure are sky high.
So The Pixies prove the rule and the Pistols are the exception.
It’s confusing. The Golden Rule was always wayyyy simpler back in the day.
I have a friend who, when drunk, insists bands should stop after two albums. The Fawlty Towers way of thinking. Not a terrible idea. Bit harsh. Overly punk rock. And you’d have no Colour Of Spring, OK Computer, Great Destroyer, Hissing Fauna, Clouds Taste Metallic or London Calling if it were rigorously applied, which would please him no end, I am quite sure. I used to be dead-punk-rock-me. But I do like a band who take while to hit their stride. Who keep pushing it. Further and further. And really, Radiohead are just kind of godlike now, aren’t they. They are though. Titans, superheroes, angels, whatever… It is staggering. They are five years ahead of their critics. Honestly they must sit there, laughing their asses off. Except I bet they don’t. Lighten up, guys: You fucking won. But for them, the struggle is endless. The war is never over. And thank the Lord for that. Get back in the studio, bitches.
Like little spiders operating heavy machinery in zero gravity, they go about things a mental, doubtless willfully obtuse and seeminly doomed-to-fail way, but fuck me they do get it right every time. Well, most of the time; and without crossing over to the jazz side too much.
They are Old too now, right?
The ideal new band for the UK industry is about 17, dead handsome, and this year with a brace of keyboards and some sort of inmposingly sculptural Shockwaves haircut. And preferably with 3 uptempo tunes. Or at least 2 and a girl. Or, at a push, 1 tune and 2 girls. If you tick those boxes, the rest; y’know, the music and that, the art, is sure to follow. The Kit Kat band is on YouTube now. If you haven’t, or you are too young to remember (and DAMN YOU for that), then you really should click it. Maybe they should reform. They’d walk into a deal in about 30 seconds. It is so their time.
Except, well, now I also love a lot of new music. Don’t get me started on The Invisible album, Alvin Band or the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Or Music Go Music. Or Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson.
But damn, the best shows I have seen in the last decade have been old dudes as often as young. Paul McCartney, AC/DC, REM, Bowie, Neil Young, The Stooges (more or less), Nick Cave, Pet Shop Boys, OMD, Leonard Cohen and um, Billy Idol have all delivered masterclasses.
Is that cos they are warhorses who never hardly stopped? Getting better? Who knows. The Fall disprove all the rules there are. Or ever will be. And yet have turned in three really rather excellent albums in the last five years or so. And three really fucking dull ones before that. In fact, you can pick any Fall album from any point in the last 30 years and it’s as likely to be utter crap as it is to be brain-scrambling and ass kickingly fantastic.
At least they are still reliably awful live; that is comforting. Here’s my tip if you like the Fall and fancy going to see them: Don’t.
So should I begrudge Albarn, Brown, Cocker and Anderson and Morrissey/Marr their big fat bag of cash. Fuck, no. Just don’t expect it be as good as the first time. Don’t necessarily expect me or anyone to be there. Don’t go looking for time travel. Don’t expect miracles. A little charm and a lot of style goes a long way if you have a great, wobbling tower of songs, each nuance of which is burned into the mind of the audience, but just . Keep your heads down, drink a drink or two and go for it, boys. I mean men. Why not?
Except Blur. They are just showing off. As per. They were always rubbish live. Way worse than the Roses. And at least the Roses had awesome albums. Blur: Are Shite. As, I might add, are Mogwai.
Which brings me to the exception that (dis)proves all the above rules.
Stay in a class of your own, ignore the imitators and you can do what the fuck you like, get paid handsomely and be cooler, fiercer, more beautiful, and more enormous than ever. Howay the Valentines.