Friday, 28 December 2012

it was 20 years ago today...

..well actually it was 45 years ago this year, and on June 1st to be exact, that Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was released to the world.
This November 2012, artist Peter Blake's original artwork for the insert in that iconic 12" LP sleeve was sold by Sotheby's auction for £55,000. The Senior Specialist of Modern British Paintings at the auction house, commented:
“Sir Peter Blake’s collage is a tangible slice of rock history. Sgt Pepper had a huge impact on the cultural landscape. It was the first concept album, when music, story, image and studio expertise all came together.
It's a small note but it was also the first time any lyrics were printed on a record sleeve, which sounds almost impossible but true.
So in the summer of 1967 one whole load of people sat down around their record players and heard Sgt Pepper for the first time, and most of those people would have heard it with their friends. Because that's what you did in 1967.

But its 45 years later today.. and it's the polar opposite. Rock bands don't make concept albums.
Tracks are received in any order when they're downloaded, which is how most music is obtained now. They're then mixed up according to how the individual wants them so a concept in the running order can't be easily planned for an album.
Artwork is irrelevant on downloads so no artist really needs to get involved with a rock band in the first place.
Groups of people do not usually sit around and just listen to music for entertainment.

So maybe the comments left on YouTube are the modern day substitute for the shared experience on a piece of music, except that you just might be joined by some net troll who you'd have certainly not invited into your group of friends.
In a recent blog by influential DJ Greg Wilson (here) said he'd recently been inspired to set up a listening group by John Cunnick at Seattles 'Helix' underground newspaper who'd referred to young people in 1967
"would sit for a couple of hours, not talking, hardly moving, living in music".
Well, illegal substances aside it was a very common activity for many years, to escape the parents or the rest of the nerds at college or work or where ever and get together with the people who had the shared love of the music you were into, or you trusted would have a similar taste.
Maybe the times are a changin'.. and to quote Mick Farren in his excellent new book 'Elvis Died For Somebody's Sins But Not Mine'..

"The thing to remember neighbours, is that we are hardly typical. We go the trouble of reading a music paper. That shows a devotion over and above the call of duty. It could be that rock and roll is sliding out of the preeminent position it has enjoyed for so long. It could be that the world is simply waiting for some thing new to appear, born from the waves like Aphrodite. If the latter's the case it is one hell of a long time coming"

And that neighbours was written for the New Musical Express in 1975!
So remember all things come around. Don't forget to share your music in 2013.

Band misunderstands 'concept album'

There's lots of ice in Sweden. Vinyl records have made a big comeback in Sweden.
I know let's make a... (will someone turn the heating down)