Leader 20

It’s fucked. Broken. Damaged. All over. Pete Doherty (wanker). And Elton John (very rich wanker). On the same stage. As I said: fucked.

Back at the end of the last century, a resurgence of guitar-based combos & a renewed rock’n’roll attitude promised some of the most exciting 4/6 stringed entertainment since the halcyon days of the late 70s. It seemed – for a couple of days, anyhow – that the walls of commerciality were going to come tumbling down like the walls of Jericho - & that a new independent renaissance would spring up in place of those horrible multi-national major labels. There was hope.

They began to troop in from all over the world: NYC gave us The Strokes – ‘they’re the new Ramones’ – they said. Detroit chipped in with The White Stripes – ‘they’ve re-appropriated the blues for a new generation’ – they said. Australia gave us The Vines – ‘the ghost of Kurt Kobain fronting Radio Birdman’ – they said. London shrugged, apologised for its tardiness - & promptly threw up The Libertines – ‘the most explicit portrayal of London Town since The Clash’ – they said. The press went mad. Well, the NME, anyway. The rest fell away - & The Libertines assumed their ‘rightful’ throne as the ‘new’ whatever.

All over the country – almost over night – everyone stopped wanting to be Oasis & started wanting to be The Libertines. The Unstrung, The Paddingtons, The Artic Monkeys – on every street corner another bunch of spotty herberts with trust-fund Gibsons gathered to plan their assault on the handful of people nationwide that still actually give a shit about white boys with guitars.

“Nobody wants the previous generation’s superior taste rammed down their gullet”, claimed Simon Price, in his recent review of Television @ Meltdown (IOS Arts Section - 26/06/05).

That’s right. The current generation are already far too busy eating their parents record collections whole. They haven’t got the time – or the oesophagus space either, for that matter – to have anything rammed down their already somewhat congested gullets.

In 2005, the DIY ethic can be defined thus: accessing a pair of stepladders, accessing the loft, accessing the crates containing said parents past, accessing ‘that duophonic Bogshed sound’ - & subsequently introducing it to the confines of your own bedroom bound combo.

Never has a generation been so bereft of originality. Never have so few been so lauded by so many for so little: the John Cooper Clarkisms of The Streets, the vodka & Orange Juice of Franz Ferdinand, the blurred visions of the Kaiser Chiefs, the Television repeats of Razorlite, the Duran Duran wide-screen escapism of the Killers, the reheated U2005 of Coldplay - the vacuous overtures of the overpaid & the under-talented.

Be very scared of people who tell you that right now is a very interesting period for new music. They. May. Have. A. Vested. Interest. Zane – how Lowe can you go?

So – who’s fault is it?

Personally, I blame the Stoned Roses. One voice, one song, one LP - & the outrageously poor Happy Mondays – surely one of the most over rated piles of sick ever to get thrown up on to a rock n roll stage.

Between them, they made it ‘OK’ for white, working class males to deconstruct the notion of ‘art as rebellion’ & replace it with ‘art as product to be consumed whilst inside a football stadium’. They may have pulled two genres together – at gun point - like a couple of tectonic plates that were celestially designed to remain exactly where they were (& for anyone who has forgotten exactly how excruciatingly embarrassing the dance/rock interface actually was – go & buy “The Best Of The Farm” for a £1 from Tesco – or get into Primal Scream – or Kasabian!!!) – but they fucked up rock n roll’s eco system in the process.

Next stop: Oasis – the group – not the shop, or the fruit drink. Not only did they have one of the poorest names in the history of rock n roll – they also had lyrics which made the fridge magnets in your mum’s kitchen & the limericks nailed to the wall of your dad’s shed seem like the Complete Works Of Shakespeare.

No wonder the kids are currently ‘doing’ post punk circa 1979/80 – that’s how far you have to go back to find something even vaguely worth ripping off (which, incidentally, was also the era of The Specials - & the last Ska revival – which is kind of spooky - considering the rash of very poor new groups currently attempting to reheat Ska for the umpteenth time).

In 2005 & a mere handful of precious groups keep the flames of non-conformism alive: Black Time, The Cherry Reds, Luxembourg, sexmachina, The Boyfriends – to name but 5. Maybe there is nothing new under the sun. Maybe it has all been said before. Maybe it’s because I’m not a Londoner. Whatever.

Consider this a gauntlet. It’s on the ground – in clear view of ‘your generation’. Pick it up. Run with it. Make us eat our words. Burn down the walls of heartache & bring integrity back into our lives. This is your chance to make a difference. Don’t just shrug & move on to the next level on your X-box.

“Let fury have the hour, anger can be power, you know that we can use it”, as some bunch of old farts once said.

Harrison Bored – tMx 20 – 07/05
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