Saturday, 30 January 2010

Time and a Buzzcock


As the Pink Floyd once said,

‘And then one day you find
Ten years have got behind you’

In fact they are wrong; ten years doesn’t so much get behind you as sprint away to the distant horizon as fast as its legs will carry it i.e. about the speed of light, never to be seen again. We all suffer from its effects but none more so than music.

As I was watching last season’s Strictly Come Dancing I was struck by three things:

1. I wonder if Motown writing team Holland, Dozier and Holland are being paid royalties? Their songs, now 40+ years old, are constantly in evidence and are used for all manner of dances – which just goes to show that their appeal then is the same as their appeal now – they are irresistible dance tunes.

2. I realised what a great song the Zombies’ ‘She’s Not There’ is. I knew this really, but the interpretation by the session players in the BBC band was really, really good and it just underlined the fact. Actually this happens quite a lot. I end up ignoring the dancing and getting engrossed in the interpretations of some great songs.

3. I wonder what the Buzzcocks thought of their ‘Ever Fallen in Love’ being danced to by the World Latin Dance Champions?

Whilst items one and two are interesting in themselves and show a sort of timelessness to songs that are clearly classics, it was point three that got me to thinking about the effect of time on music. Back in 1978, when Punk was raging and trying its hardest to upset the established order but only succeeding in mutating into the more acceptable New Wave, songs such as this were part of the genre. They were performed at breakneck speed with buzzing guitars and snarled lyrics just daring anyone over about 18 to like them. They were specifically designed not to appeal to older listeners who may after all be, gulp, Genesis fans.

Forty years later, they are being performed by smooth cabaret singers on the bastion of middle England, the BBC, on prime Saturday night TV appealing to a vast cross section of society. The basic arrangement is still there but the guitars have been neutered and the drums muted. What remains is the song and this is the key, it still stands up on its own. Pete Shelley’s lament to lost love has stood the test of time and over the intervening period has transcended the genre that spawned it. Even Genesis fans will like it now and I’d love to know what Pete feels about it.

8 comments:

bearockr said...

Interesting thoughts, musicobsessive , and I have heard 'She’s Not There', its a really nice song for me :D....

YourZ said...

I much prefer the Buzzcock's version to anything else. I don't think anyone can quite do the Pete Shelley snarky vocal line as well as he can. And for me, this is what makes the song.

I feel pretty much the same way about 'She's Not There'. I saw original footage of it just the other night on a doco called 'The British Invasion' - fabulous look at British music in the mid to late 60s and early 70s. Have you seen it 'cause I'm sure you'd enjoy it?

Adrian said...

Funny, I emailed friends across the country a week or so back - when, browsing the aisles of my local grocery store, for some jambalaya rice, or, maybe, some special cookies... and, what was playing over the store speakers? The original "Ever Fallen In Love"!! No muzak, that. And I flashed back to those fun days when we grabbed the import singles from the UK. Local radio would not touch the music, save for one hour each week when the owner of the local import shop was allowed to come on and play these crazy sounds...

musicobsessive said...

Bearockr - glad you like it, check out more Zombies' stuff, you'll love it:) - see below.

Yourz - I agree. Pete's vocal is the definitive take, but the song still stands up on its own even now provided it is treated respectfully. As to the Zombies - have I seen it? I was there, mate! All those old B&W perfomances are etched onto my childhood memory and will never diminish. I think The Zombies were a criminally underrated band who should've been huge. Just check out stuff like 'If it Don't Work Out' written for Dusty Springfield, just brilliant songwriting.

Adrian - I'm sure Pete is thrilled to know that he has now made it to the top - being played in Canadian supermarket aisles - LOL! Just shows how the bad boys of rock are eventually absorbed into society:)

YourZ said...

I'm envious of anyone who experienced those times first hand. I was still a child in the 60s (and lived on the other side of the world in a very small country town). But I guess I can relive those days vicariously through some of the great docos around and by reading blogs like this.

Thanks,

YourZ

Jayne said...

I guess it is like for me when I hear 'Sweet Child O' Mine' by Guns N Roses played as corporate event/cheesy disco music. Once upon a time that was our everything - our siren call to leap up, shake our hair and go crazy! But now 21 years has made it acceptable and mainstream... ah well. I guess it hasn't made it to Strictly yet, but if the show is still going in 19 years time, then maybe!

Also I love 'She's Not There' by The Zombies! Fab song.

musicobsessive said...

*writes note to BBC - 'please include Sweet Child 'O Mine in the next series of SCD'* Haha! What do you reckon Jayne, Foxtrot?

Actually all rock is now part of the establishment because the establishment is us and I might struggle with the hair shaking these days!

kanishk said...

think The Zombies were a criminally underrated band who should've been huge.

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