Friday, 17 April 2009

Heroes and Villains

‘The Sweeney’s doing ninety ‘cos they’ve got the word to go
They get a gang of villains in a shed up at Heathrow’

So sang Squeeze in 1979’s ‘Cool for Cats’. What a curiously 1970s word ‘Villain’ is. It speaks of old-fashioned Cops ‘n’ Robbers desperately trying to outwit each other but on the strict basis of an unspoken code of honour. Today’s villains have no such qualms and it seems the Police have taken themselves off to harass motorists.

But what about musical villains? Assuming the same ancient code of honour where all parties have a sense of values, my guess is that ‘villains’ would be represented by all those albums that you bought in good faith because they were the accepted standard of the time only to find years later that they are really quite nasty pieces of work. I’ve got quite a few of those.

One that looms large in my collection is ‘Keep Your Distance’ by Curiosity Killed The Cat. In 1987 CKTC were the bees’ knees probably based on the fact that leader Ben Volpeliere-Pierrot wore that ridiculous fisherman’s cap backwards so that it resembled a beret. I remember they spent a vast amount of time guesting on TV’s ‘The Tube’ during the time when Paula Yates was a compere – funny that. Anyway, they had a good press and I bought the album and must’ve played it a few times but frankly I can’t recall any of it. It obviously palled very quickly and now sits forlorn in the ‘did I really buy that?’ category.

Another prime example is ‘The Big Lad in the Windmill’ by proto-proggers, It Bites. This one is from 1986 so there must be something about the late 80s that didn’t agree with me. I think I was thrashing around trying to find stuff to like between the New Romantics/Electro-pop of the early 1980s and the Trance/Shoegazers of the early 1990s – and failing. I believe that It Bites reformed about 10 years ago and still functions to this day. Eek!

Nowadays these ‘villains’ are a bit of an embarrassment. There they rest in my collection unplayed and unloved and only there at all because I can never bring myself to get rid of anything. One day perhaps I’ll feel strong enough to have a spring clean and send them to a good home but it’s a bit like divorce in that you always feel guilty that in some way it was your own fault. Perhaps it was.


Barbara(aka Layla) said...

Well one man's ex-record albums may be another man's dream come true. Maybe you should put them on sale on Ebay, maybe you'd make a ton of money off them :)

musicobsessive said...

Barb - It's always difficult to sell stuff, a bit like giving your diaries away. Even the duff purchases say something about you at that time. I just wish they didn't come back to haunt me :)

Jayne said...

Great post - interesting reflection on the word 'villain' - how the world moves on! I am trying to think of my musical villains - probably some NOW albums, a couple of boy band albums (eek!) and an offering from Right Said Fred.

Incidentally - I have just looked up, lost in thought thinking about musical villains, and have seen the world's biggest spider above my head. Since my computer is in my bedroom, I now have to sleep with the knowledge that world's biggest spider is up there hovering. AGH!

musicobsessive said...

Hi Jayne! Actually, I think the world's biggest spider lives behind my stereo but I'm too scared to flush it out. Anyway before we get into a my-spider's-bigger-than-your-spider argument, all I would say is 'Definitely' (Now!), 'Depends which Boys' and 'Oh dear me!' Some things should be kept quiet at all costs. Or sold.