Re: Soundtracks of Our Lives w/e 29th April 2012 CE
May 01, 2012, 14:13
You had me agreeing with everything you'd written, Ian, until your comment about Trees.
For the past 27 years the two Trees albums have been my favourite records of all time.
As Aaron Milenski wrote in Galactic Ramble about The Garden of Jane Delawney: 'Many lesser bands (most of which do not have anywhere near their rock strength) get compared to Trees by reviewers and record dealers. Don't buy into it. No other band comes close. Essential listening.'
I completely understand where you are coming from. I have the "Garden" record and really like that snail song (sorry can't remember the title). I know the second one and I know it is supposed to be the more important but I couldn't relate to it at all.
But this is less about my personal taste I was just using them as an example of artists who gain credibility with critics partly as a result of their relative obscurity. Bill Fay is another one who gets discussed in some detail while the importance and influence, on rock as a whole, of say Michael Chapman (directly and via Mick Ronson) is ignored. I can see the uniqueness of Fay but not at the expense of say Kevin Coyne. It's unbalanced and a dangerous mistelling given the general lack of scholarship in this area. If it was one unbalanced book amongst ten equally partisan books taking a different tack then I wouldn't give a shit. However this is akin to the only worthwhile Dylan biography dismissing everything except the first album and the gospel stuff and claiming that this is where his true genius and importance lies.
Authors like the Robs Young and Chapman and also Will Hodgkinson seem to be pursuing an agenda that ultimately recasts the music of the late 60s and early 70s through the lens of a post 77 Peel Show playlist. Fair enough, that's their call, but it does the development of folk music no favours if these opinions gain influence among a new generation of music makers. For starters the being able to play thing is actually quite important when tackling this stuff and I don't really want to hear say semi-competently played JAMC-styled arrangements of the Anne Briggs songbook. It serves no purpose other than as fuel for yet one more of the oh so brief chapters in the history of indie rock by which time all the old dudes will probably have discovered country music and be dressing like Gram rather than like Syd.
So I am not saying they were a bad band at all but I think in terms of what they owe to the Fairports they are for me akin to say what Lone Star were to mid period LZ than significant trail-blazers in their own right. Meanwhile a really important record like "Penguin Eggs" gets no mention at all.
My problem is less with any band in particular it is more that the post Fairports folk world described in the book would I think be largely unrecognisable to people who have been digging into the music and hearing it develop over the last 40 years.
On the other hand I also will admit totally that the older a get, the wider my musical interests get and the bigger my collection gets the more I am drawn towards records that hit the mark for me in every way. Twenty years ago I had more time and narrower interests and so would play a lot of secondary recordings from the styles of music that most appealed to me. If you follow me.