Thursday 13 September 2007

When Bands Go Bad

Marriage\relationships tend to go one of four ways:-

1. It starts off all lovey dovey, but slowly your partner gets bored\disillusioned and bails out
2. As above, but it’s YOU that bails out
3. You stick it out to the bitter end, but neither party are interested or happy
4. It really was the love of your life, and you have fun, fun, fun right to the end of the ride.

Well unfortunately, options 1, 2 and 3 are fairly common, but fortunately, there is real help out there to get you through these tough times (Relate\Marriage Guidance\counselling services, stuff like that). But shouldn’t these services widen their horizons and help out those REALLY in need – the music fan? Ok, let me explain..

It’s a regular story of boy (or girl) meets band (or artist), boy (or girl) falls in love with band. They may be brand new or just new to you, but you discover em and you totally dig what they do -- the songs are fresh, exciting, the band look amazing and there is a real passion that comes across. You get yourself along to as many gigs as you can, and before too long, you are love sick! It’s like they've formed just for your enjoyment. You start, picking up all sorts of merchandise (official and otherwise), and before you know it you’ve got half a dozen T-shirts, a nice selection of badges and a coffee mug and mouse mat for work. Everything is cool though, everyone knows where you are at, and it doesn't matter if others like the band or not, this band represents you and stands for everything you do, so fuck you!

But then…

they do the dirty on you
The first signs that all is not well is the first iffy single that creeps out, causing a mild sweat. Then the new press photos start to appear.. shit! they changed their look, I hate that look! Then, to cement the misery, the awful new album. Of course by then it's too late! Everyone now knows you like that band, cos you’ve been wearing those bloody T-shirts every day and spouting off to anyone who’ll listen about “the connection between me and the band, man”. So now when everyone hears these new songs, they assume you must like them. There's a sudden urge to clarify to everyone you know (and quite a few of those you don't) the exact period of the band's career you are into. You feel betrayed, hurt and cheated by the band, what did you do to deserve this? And you resent the fact they’ve made you look a right charley at work. The shirts go to the back of the wardrobe, the mousemat ends up in the stationery cupboard at work and that mug goes in the guest cups draw for when the area manager turns up (nobody likes him).

you do the dirty on them
Well they think it’s real love, and they want nothing more than to carry on pleasing you forever. But you’ve started to lose interest… that 3rd album DID sound a bit like the 2nd one (and that was a rip off of the 1st). They send you regular love letters (AKA myspace bulletins and e-mailshots), but unlike those early days when you’d even print em off for posterity, you’ve not even bothered to open the last few “stop harassing me ya boring bastards”... Easier to handle than the 1st scenario, as you are calling the shots, you tell them that you can still be friends, and you’ll definitely keep in touch – but within a week you’ve sold all the CDs on e-bay for a quid.

The loveless marriage
The pain can only intensify when bands linger on too long. Refusing to do the decent thing as they desperately hang on, despite having long since exhausted any creativity. Ask just about any fan of a band that’s been kicking around for 30+ years and they’ll tell ya it’s a living hell. I know two big Status Quo fans, and both of them tell me they have been shit since the mid-1980s. But that's over 20 years ago! Yet they continue to sell out their tours and shift respectable amounts of CDs. So who is attending these shows and buying these CDs exactly? Well, mainly long-haired bald men (no, that wasn’t a typing error!), all apologising profusely and clarifying the years that the band “really rocked”. You can’t miss them, they always seem to be looking at the floor, which is either embarrassment, or they’re keeping an eye out for the plug of the life support machine, so they can accidentally kick it out and end everyone’s pain and suffering. To add even further to the turmoil, the anal retentive collectors of us out there (I’m one of em!) will also feel morally obliged to keep on buying any crap they continue to release 'for the collection' and it's all been sitting there for 20 years, unplayed!

When we’re stuck in this position why do we carry on the suffering? Why can’t we just say “well, thanks for the ride guys, but this just isn't any fun anymore. We had a blast but it’s over”. A quickie divorce (irreconcilable differences), but still on friendly terms for the sake of the CDs.

But lets finish this post on a positive note..

the love of your life!
Those bands that have stuck with you, they changed, they matured, they experimented, and you loved every bloody minute of it! Fantastic.

Bands I’ve done the dirty on:-

The Fall - “erm, it’s not you, it’s me. I know I said I loved you, but maybe I was just saying that to try an look cool?? You really are quite dull and fairly unlistenable aren’t you??”

Oasis - ditto

Pet Shop Boys - we parted company a very long time ago now, but it must have been me wot did the dirty, because they sound exactly the same 25 years on!

Erasure - ditto!!!

The Darkness -shit, it wasn’t funny, clever or ironic after all was it?

Bands who did the dirty on me:-
Kings of Leon - I know more people like them now, but the last 2 albums sound embarrassing to me… sent em a text and said they were “dumped”

The Mission - from Goth Gods to Dance Dunces in one easy move. Criminal. I said I thought I’d “left the gas on”, and I’d be “right back”. That was the late 80’s, I guess they are over it now..

Rolling Stones - They seemed to turn into your dad over night

Bands I have a loveless marriage to:-
Alice Cooper - I love the guy, and he was a genius for SO long. Then there was the terrible ‘poodle rock’ era, and some pretty bad metal albums after that. But he JUST does enough to keep you hanging on. 2001’s ‘Dragontown’ album sounded like nine inch nails, and it was actually ok, but was filed away within the week. I still pick up every new album though.

Bands I’ve enjoyed the whole ride with:-
The Damned - more changes (in both line up and style) than you can shake a stick at, but just about every one a winner. 31 years on they are still out there, still doing it. The last album was their 1st official release for over 15 years, and I was dreading it, but it was an instant classic, with nods in style to many of their classic moments

Marc Almond - legend. The guy has been doing it since 1980 and has never slipped into that ‘cashing in on the past’ mode of terrible 80’s nostalgia tours. Always pushing the boundaries and each new album has a new direction. From glam rock to Russian folk songs, he’s done it all. His live shows are hard to beat too

Blur - always interesting, and always innovative. Talk of a reform (with Graham Coxon) in the coming months can only be good news. Hard to believe now that Oasis were considered the ‘big winner’ of the Brit Pop war.

Sparks - again, always entertaining, and never resting on their laurels. Ron and Russell continue to really care about their music

Iggy Pop - has this guy ever made a bad record? Well one or two probably, but what a star. Never sold out, still credible even though he’s in his 60’s. You’ll never see the Igg-ster fall for the lure of money at the expense of his art

David Bowie - we had a little lovers tiff in the 80’s, but he came back, and his last few solo albums have been quality. Another one who still cares about what he does. He cold be like Sting and just bash out any old nonsense and watch the money come in, but he still tries. If you haven’t heard them, recent albums such as Hours (1999), Heathen (2002) and Reality (2003) are Bowie back on form.

So there you have it – it aint easy following a band. What bands are in your lists?



Anonymous said...

nice post! Thinking back, I remember being turned over by the Human League. When I started listening to them, they were a really inovative, cool electro band. Then they sold their sole to the kiddie pop brigade.

Keep up the good work.


Mondo said...

I think there's an extra category too. Bands that you'll forgive their indescretions and welcome them back. Bowie, Stones, Rod Stewart, John Martyn Have all done the dirty on me at some time but i'll forgive 'em everytime for the quality of those magic moments they gave me.

Bang on about the Human Leage I was with 'em til Dare - then it sideways.

Adam Ant - loved the new wave stuff, quite enjoyed his dressing up and drums bit. Then forgot to decent songs, came back with Vive Le Rock. But hopeless after that

Prince same thing, lost it round Lovesexy and never really recovered

Guns N Roses, great until they tried to make a 2nd album. I unloaded them after this

Long termers

Damned with 'em all the way they get better and better and always punch above the expectation.

XTC get better and better.

Steve Jones hasn't done any rough stuff since the pistols.

bleecher said...

Paul Weller - through thick and thin for me, seems to be having a lean patch at the mo, but i'll forgive a guy who is constantly cool as f##c

squeeze - they turned into the rolling stones dads.... sadly dumped.

elvis costello - on and off he dumped me first ... then i dumped him ... its just the odd hotel these days .....

Piley said...

Some good points there Mondo n Bleecher. Squeeze is a good one - hard to beleive now that when they 1st came on the seen they were kinda bundled up in the Punk\New Wave vibe. Some great songs in their time tho.

Prince is someone I always want to like & did for ages. Loved the rockier stuff, stayed with the flirting between rock n dance, then it just seemed to be all dance (criminal waste of an awsome guitarist)


E F RICE said...

What about Bands which are great when the old beer goggles are on ? For me that would be Boys Wonder, any band comprising a friend of a friend at work and dare I say it .... late 80s early 90s Glitter. Christ I can't belive I said that !!!

Anonymous said...

Having been a Quo fan for over 30 years (and still buying the cds and going to the gigs) the Quo reference struck a sad chord (one of 3 presumably). Can't help feeling that memories of the 70s will carry me through to the bitter end though. Even now Rossi & Parfitt still make me laugh. The Morecambe and Wise of rock tag still holds true.

56 Special said...

Hilarious and very true.
Good work fella.

Top 5 long term loves;
The Clash
Faces/Rod Stuart
Thin Lizzy
Stray Cats/Brian Setzer

All have embarassed me at some point but all are unconditionally forgiven.

Anonymous said...

The band i love who lost it most spectaculary is Staus Quo. I love still thier classic stuff from 1968 to 1980 and like the other Quo fan who left a comment i will always love them BUT !!!. From the 1*9*8*2 album onwards boy did they lose the plot. What they have churned out since then has been ninty nine per cent dross. Now your football team you support for ever but bands it's different for me. When they stop making records i like i stop buying them. What is the point of buying a crap record purely because of the name on the cover ?. There are a ton of bands i rate as my favourites but i have not bought a record by them in years cos what they do now is a load of old doo doo's. Alice Cooper , Ramones (before they nearly all died), Aerosmith and Uriah Heep etc etc all made fantastic records at one time that still thrill me and always will but they all suck eggs now. It's usually a bands first 7 or 8 albums that cook and then it starts to go pear shaped , out come the jazz influences and the need for a hit and zzzz. I have a good mate who is a Quo nut too he has not liked a single album Quo have made since 1980 yet he still goes out and buys each one. I dont get that , save ya money and buy some thing good i say. Much love pop pickers :-) CA.