Friday, March 10, 2023

Changed My Life

Ten Records that Changed My Life 

(can't remember who this was done for, or when - 2003?)


1/ Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks, 1977

Awoke me to belief in rock as a revolutionary, world-historical force - a faith I've still not yet fully shaken off.


2/ Ian Dury and the Blockheads, New Boots and Panties, 1978

Awoke me to the possibilities of rock as poetic language (Dury) and awoke in me a feeling for funk and disco (Blockheads).


3/ Public Image Ltd, Metal Box, 1979

Awoke me to the power of bass weight and dub space,  something that would keep on reverberating across an entire continuum of Jamaica-into-England music, from ska to UK garage.


4/ The Byrds, Younger Than Yesterday, heard 1982/released 1967

Awoke me to Sixties psychedelia and its mystical dreams of self-surrender and recovery of the lost child within.


5/ The Smiths, "This Charming Man", 1983

Awoke me to Morrissey, the most charismatic frontman and fascinating pop intellect since Bowie, and to the poignant glory of his refusal of the 1980s.


6/ Schoolly D, self-titled, 1986

Awoke me to the fact that rap was the major new pop music art form of the Eighties, avant-garde in form and almost Marxist in its coldhearted dissection/dramatisation of the capitalist psyche.


7/ Beltram, "Energy Flash", 1990

Awoke me to the dark Dionysian delirium of rave -- to the fact that techno was the new punk, or new heavy metal - either way,  the rock of the future, and the future of rock.


8/ Omni Trio, "Renegade Snares (Foul Play Remix)" , 1994

Awoke me to the fact that jungle's breakbeat science was the major new pop artform of the Nineties - regardless of whether it would ever become pop music in the Top Ten hit sense (it wouldn't, but it would get around).


9/ Dem 2, "Destiny ", 1997

Awoke me to the fact that jungle's spirit of playful invention had migrated into UK garage and especially its subgenre 2step, which this track defined and blueprinted.


10/ Dizzee Rascal, "I Luv U", 2002

Awoke me to the fact that grime (the UK finally coming up with its own ferociously original counterpart to rap) was the major new pop artform of the first decade of the 21st Century.


Stylo said...

"... [T]echno was the new punk, or the new heavy metal..." - I haven't heard the latter comparison before. Trying to read more into it, I wonder if the greatest similarity between metal and dance just the sense of a musical/social culture with a closed-off ecosystem? Its own venues, its own magazines, its own uniforms, the subgenre profligacy, the occasional act that breaks into the mainstream (Iron Maiden and Metallica/Fatboy Slim and the Prodigy), the sheer inpenetrability the culture possesses to someone on the outside? Did dance music also have its canon of songs about the plight of Native Americans?


Really? Cos it was a commonplace complaint around the time of all that Belgian hardcore and the early proto-gabba stuff circa 91-92. "Headbanger house" is a phrase I remember. Bombastic, brutal, stomping. A sort of concussive aesthetic.

Later on you had deejays like Loftgroover who would actual mix gabber and thrash metal in the same set - not a widespread thing admittedly. Mind you the label Earache did put out a compilation of gabber.

But the other sense you mention is totally applicable - especially with happy hardcore later on, there was a kind of uniformity to the look, the scene had its own magazines. A tribe alone kind of vibe.

Stylo said...

I turned 8 in 1992, so I think I can be forgiven for not knowing contemporary critical takes on Belgian hardcore. I'd generally assumed that metal's propensity for instrumental dexterity tended to dispel any possible direct bond between metal and dance. "They don't even play instruments, it's all just done with computers, now Mark Knopfler, HE's a proper musician..."

Though actually, thinking more, wasn't nu-metal the biggest crossover between dance and metal? Plenty of nu-metal bands had a turntablist injecting jungle beats into the thrash. Mind, nu-metal is also the worst, most critically reviled genre of all. It doesn't suggest that the cross-pollination of metal and dance could feasibly beget a bumper crop.

The idea of dance being the new punk though, that is an extremely common take, as well you know. How often has it been that an ageing punk took up the decks sometime between 1986 and 1995? Even Irvine Welsh is an example.

Stylo said... Just remembered this clip from Saxondale.

Ed said...

Mark Knopfler is not now and has never been Heavy Metal!

You are right, Stylo, to say that instrumental proficiency has always been important in Metal. But by the late 80s, that proficiency was deployed largely by men - and they were all men - trying to sound like machines. The blistering speed and precision displayed by Metallica and all their imitators came ever closer to the quality of drum machines and samplers.

There is a great passage in the first edition of Chuck Eddy's Stairway to Hell, published in 1991, where he points out that the next logical step is to drop the human intervention altogether and just play the music on samplers, so that even more superhuman feats of speed and precision can be achieved. He identified the Young Gods as one of the leaders of this trend, even though they had (and have!) a human drummer. Many of their peers such as Godflesh did not.

He was, let's say, half-right in identifying this music as one of the hot trends of the coming decade. Ministry and Nine Inch Nails and a few others were indeed a big deal in the 90s. As Eddy ruefully noted in a later edition, about ten years on, the Industrial Metal of that decade turned out to be horrible in ways that he had failed to anticipate.

But the point is that Metal and Techno were on convergent paths, with the resulting blends and crossovers that Simon talks about.

Nu-Metal feels different to me: you can trace its roots much more clearly in Hip-Hop than in Techno. There is a clear lineage - growing increasingly debased - from Rock Box and Rip The Cut, to Walk This Way and Fight For Your Right To Party, to She Watch Channel Zero, to the PE / Anthrax version of Bring The Noise, to Korn and Limp Bizkit. Both in the beats and in the "us against the world" attitude.

Robert Johnson : The Rolling Stones :: Public Enemy : Korn. Discuss

Stylo said...

Yeah, your reading's much better than mine, and you've put me firmly in my place. Especially, the nu-metal/hip-hop connection is not just obvious, it's painted day-glo. How did I forget that? Vanilla Ice tried a comeback with a nu-metal Ice Ice Baby! In my defence, I would say Slipknot are probably more influenced by techno and jungle than hip-hop, but that's just one band. And of course I know Mark Knopfler isn't metal, but I've never heard a fan of 80s metal say a bad word against Mark. Surely they appreciate that he knows all the chords?
I don't know enough about Korn to comment on their link to Public Enemy.

Ed said...

Not trying to put you in your place!... Sorry if it came off that way. I was just heated about poor old Mark being lumped in with Kerry King and Dave Mustaine. Although in my experience you are absolutely right about 80s metal heads loving Knopfler: I knew several who had Dire Straits albums as their one concession to soft rock.

On the reading, if you don't know Chuck Eddy's Stairway to Hell: the 500 Best Heavy Metal Albums in the Universe, I highly recommend it. It's a lot of fun, and introduced me to a ton of great, and not-so-great, music. It's out of print, I fear, but seems to turn up reasonably often in second-hand bookshops. The Amazon reviews suggest that Eddy's idiosyncratic definition of Metal made a lot of people angry!