Friday, 20 May 2011

No Encore

This is interesting (via Simon). Why? Well, I'm rather surprised at the presence of soul records, or at least tracks openly influenced by the genre. Especially since it rarely figures in music writing these days. With the jokey premise being imminent apocalypse and/or sudden death, where's the death metal? The dystopian drum'n'bass? Year Zero punk manifestos? The condemnations of western hegemony (followed by its deserved collapse) to be found in any number of reggae and hiphop tracks? Or even Johnny Cash's version of 'Hurt' (the funeral song of the 00s, I thought)? Do celebrations of doom only appeal when you think you're going to live forever? Is it that this music truly does find its voice at the right moment? A great soul record is as utopian as true love itself. Idle speculation: would it not be so much more effective if we heard soul music on the soundtrack of all those apocalyptic scenarios? Is it soul's suggestion of something being desperately sought, only to be rapidly lost? Well anyway, I'd pick soul tracks too. Below are two of the most... well... perfect records of the post-war era; and very appropriate to thoughts of mortality. In tune with the initial theme, I suggest you listen to the lovely lyrics of the second track (the first is a domestic epic, the heart exploding beyond everyday restraint, listen for the 'holy moment' kick in at around 5.06.). While we're at it, and to exploit the wide readership this blog gets (funny how way more of you click this way than towards the 80s and 90s - recent history too painful?), I propose a blog meme: What would you like to hear in your final moments?

18 comments:

Simon said...

"Armagideon Time" would have been a good choice

the original not the Clash

W. Kasper said...

I'm not much of a reggae fan, but I'd go with that one. Like the way the original was quite leisurely in its dire warnings. The Clash's version was a bit 'wimpy'.

JM said...

Umm.. Sickbed of Cuchulain by the Pogues and Body of an American at my funeral. Booyah.

Greyhoos said...

"Hell Awaits" by Slayer.

Sorry, ...couldn't resist.

But seriously, the prevalence of soul material is really baffling. Especially considering (as you mention) it's utter absence as any sort of a musical or critical reference source.

W. Kasper said...

Maybe all the chilly hipsters, misogynist MCs and metal nazis are saving their last five minutes of life to say something honest. Hate, theory and irony - it's all nervous foreplay, really...

I take you've read 'Lipstick Traces'? Very interesting book, but the theme of some temporarily invisible utopia could easily apply to classic soul. Certainly the case with disco - far more subversive (socially, if not business-wise) in the long run than punk.

Greyhoos said...

Re, temporary utopia: Or perhaps because it constitutes its own complete, sophisticated, and fully-developed aesthetic. And one that's so historically remote from the present.

I seem to recall something similar turning up in the art world over the years. Some critic or art journalist would be interviewing some artist whose work bore all the trademark postmod sensibilities -- coolly detached by way of irony, conceptual, usually based in appropriated cultural imagery, etc. When they ask the artist to name an artwork that they'd most like to own, they were often (for whatever reason) surprised to learn that they'd most like to have a DeKooning or a Rothko hanging in their home.

BTW, Fair warning to readers: Anyone who clicks on the link for the Flavorwire piece might want to proceed with caution. I kept bumping into repeated attempts at a malware download as I paged through the thing.

W. Kasper said...

Maybe its a generational thing? I mean, like how "mother!" is alleged to be the most common last word of a soldier's final moments. Like country & western, soul offers emotionally direct 'stories'. They're rarely ambiguous or distanced in their lyrics.

Greyhoos said...

Dunno if that's what I meant. I was merely think of form, aesthetics (and perhaps content, but to a lesser degree) and how certain people respond to it.

And also putting it all in a contempo context. Speaking for myself, I'd venture that maybe lots of people especially feeling certain types of music these days, because that music offers something that assembly-line hiphop or the Unbearable Whiteness of so much recent indie rock doesn't/hasn't.

W. Kasper said...

Right - there's a reason why you won't hear P.Diddy or Arcade Fire played at weddings or funerals (except their own maybe). No sense of community or completeness.

Ed said...

So I am left in agonizing suspense: both songs show "the video you have requested is not available".

So what were they?

Thanks

W. Kasper said...

WTF? They're on my computer now.

'Stay In My Corner' and 'Make Sure You Have Someone Who Loves You' by The Dells. You can get the idea from the titles, I suppose.

Ed said...

Ah, they're on my computer, too, now. Dunno what was up there. Thanks. Great tunes.

SIMON REYNOLDS said...

aren't Arcade Fire all about passion and community?

i say that only have listened to each of their albums about twice

it's all about uplift. there's probably LOADS of people who would have AF play at their funerals

SIMON REYNOLDS said...

i'm not that mystified by soul being in the list, for a start most of the participants aren't your typical bloggerati types, as far as i can tell they wouldn't be writing about black metal/hypnagogic/whatever, their tastes probably run more to the explicitly emotional

also the reason soul isn't much of a reference point in hipster music discussions is that the contemporary stuff that has any reference to those traditions is the Adele/Duffy/Winehouse/Plan B/Josh Stone type stuff... which probably takes it off the table as an influence-resource

(i have that bleedin' Adele song going round in my brain like an endless loop)

but i don't one can deduce from that people don't love the great soul music of the past... in my case discovering all that music was a big part of my youth

also, don't know about hipsterworld, but American rockcritics favourite single last year was Cee-Lo's "Fuck You" which is as soul-y as they come (and undeniable)

W. Kasper said...

OK - duh. You're above points weren't taken into account (especially regarding Amy, Adele etc.). Not least because I don't pay much attention to these things these days.

I haven't listned to Arcade Fire much either - first album could have been called 'Remain in The Unforgettable Fire Light'. Skip.

Didn't think people disliked soul - far from it. Just that it wasn't likely to be discussed as much as other genres.

Ed said...

"there's probably LOADS of people who would have AF play at their funerals."

Indeed. Isn't that what they are actually aiming for?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wI2CYcgkNoA

Will C said...

Their first album is called "Funeral," after all. Definitely pretty community-minded, too, decreasingly so as their discography continues--"Funeral" you can sing along to, listen to with friends, etc., but I can't imagine anyone doing the same thing with "The Suburbs." It's to their detriment, really; they're shit when they get too serious.

Anyway, Bach or Basic Channel for me.

W. Kasper said...

Basic Channel? Interesting - they left me very cold even when I was a 'technohead'. I just never got it.

I probably came up with Arcade Fire, cos they were the only mainstream 'indie' band I could think of. A lot of the more 'hipster' bands just merge into one big haircut for me. Always tripping up on the throwaway examples... I'll never learn...