You know I was recently reminded of a comment that Rob Younger once made about the Angels. He said that they were ‘contrived nonsense’ and I just wanted to reflect on that for a moment. From the outset, let it be known that I was a massive Rob Younger and Radio Birdman fan, (although more of Hitmen fan than Birdman), but also a fan of the New Christs etc. Yet I was also a hard rock fan, and a big fan of the Brewsters too. So why does this singular, zealot like focus exist ? Why can’t I dig Birdman AND the Angels? So If I dig Birdman, the cool school check list should only be stuff like the Stooges, Sonics, Ventures, Alice Cooper (though only early Coop is cool right?)Mitch Ryder,MC5, 60’s garage etc ? Gotta name check the right bands. Is Bob Seger classed as cool? He was from Detroit. So this stuff is cool, but the Angels are ‘contrived nonsense’?
The whole notion of what’s cool and what’s not is completely subjective – and indeed personal. One man’s Radio Birdman might be another man’s poison right? Let’s focus on Rob’s swipe on The Angels for a moment. Birdman are great, no doubt, and I was as much a rock n roll soldier as anyone else – more so in fact. Radios Appear and Living Eyes are great, but sheesh, if I had to listen to that and artists of that style/genre only that I’d be ready for the funny farm!
So why can’t I listen to Birdman and The Angels ? If you wanna compare apples with apples, the Angels certainly had more success, both domestically and internality than Birdman. Bands like G ‘n’ R and Cheap Trick and Great White knew that they were anything but contrived. They were a hard rock band with immense originality and character. Yet that aside, who really cares? I was and still am a big Johnny Thunders fan. Yet years ago someone took a swipe at me when I declared that I dug the Bangles. Not cool? So let me get this right. The Pandoras would be OK, or the Donnas – but not the Bangles. Hang on; let me refer back to my list of ‘sonically OK bands to listen to’. Sheesh, how uncool am I? I like Johnny Thunders AND I’ve seen the Bay City Rollers – on different tours!
Yet you know what? The older I get, the more diverse my musical tastes have become – and that’s called ‘growth’. Although having said that – the guitar is still fundamental to the majority of what I listen to. When I was a teen, it was heavy metal and nothing else. It was Kiss and Iron Maiden and Ratt and Motley Crue etc. I was blinkered beyond belief. If a band had long hair and leathers – then I swallowed it hook line and sinker. I would not consider any other musical style, or ‘wimp out’ was the expression I think we used to use. With retrospect, and viewed through the objective eyes of an adult, musically, a lot of this stuff was limited, repetitive and indeed, lo- cal versions of the authentic articles. (I very rarely listen to bands like Motley Crue nowadays, and in fact my favourite album of theirs is their 2000 effort, ‘New Tattoo’ without a doubt the best thing they ever did). Yet I digress.
Being so blinkered meant that I was quick to dismiss bands like Dire Straits or Fleetwood Mac, yet nowadays I can appreciate the musical talents of Mark Knopfler or Lindsay Buckingham. One look at the recent ‘Desert Island Discs’ blog I wrote is further indicative of how my musical tastes have grown and diversified. There’s only one or two metal bands represented there. Similarly, I don’t get the whole ‘punk or nothing’ ethos either. Punks who dismissed metal or hard rock sure missed out on some good stuff, as did metal heads who dissed bands like the UK Subs, Lurkers, Sham 69 etc etc. Although one punk band I cannot stand nowadays are the Pistols. Musically it’s OK, although the riffs are all Johnny Thunders rip offs, but the annoying whine of Lydon simply grates on me. I can’t listen to him. Best thing they ever did was the thing with Ronnie Biggs. Yet back to my original point, if it sounds good, and you enjoy it, listen to it. If you like Bread AND The Sonics, great, who really cares ? You like the Dead Boys AND Def Leppard, good for you. You like The Misfits AND the Carpenters? Great, you appreciate great song writing and an amazing female vocalist. You may not score many points in the cool stakes amongst your circle of rock action pals – but big deal. Part of the fun of being a fan is discovering music and old bands too – so go forth and dig.
I remember wearing a Rod Stewart tour t shirt in 1991 much to the embarrassment of a friend. It was cool for her to be into the Gurus, but I couldn’t be into Rod Stewart? Huh? The Faces over the Gurus anyday chum.
At the risk of upsetting the dogmatic inner city uber cools, (all 40 of ‘em nowadays at last count), let me tell you that last week I saw Phil & Tommy Emmanuel. Whilst in the cool stakes, these two ain’t up there with Simon Townsend lookalike Ron Asheton, (RIP), but musically, this was the best concert I’ve seen in a long long time. Phil Emmanuel is one of the best ‘lectric guitar slingers this side of Jeff Beck, and the only cat who can make Tommy look a little inadequate on stage.
Nowadays, I’d really hate to have the same one dimensional outlook I had to rock ‘n’ roll that I did when I was a teen. Nowadays I listen to Sinatra, Dean Martin and a stack of obscure jazz artists from the 40s and 50s – as well as Thin Lizzy, Johnny Thunders, Motorhead, Joan Jett, The Boys, Cheap Trick, Skynyrd, and indeed – Radio Birdman and The Angels. Yeah Hup? Take A Long Line ? Whatever sounds good to you – enjoy it. Justin Bieber is contrived nonsense my friends – not the Angels.