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The doctors are avoiding me

Previously on the internets….

My friend and colleague, mister Hollin Jones, from the high castle that is his own blog, proposed that the musical movement known as ‘punk’ was, in his words, “incoherent puerile and rasping“, and “Pointless, crass and cretinous. Badly produced, badly played, tuneless, throwaway, self-consciously vulgar in place of having its own identity“.

Righty ho then. I have in front of me (inserts CD into Mac, tracks load up in iTunes) the free CD that provoked the publication of such a heartfelt opinion, and I’m going to address each track in turn, and assess to what degree I agree, or maybe refute m’learned friend’s suggestion that “punk is the musical equivalent of drinking a warm bottle of someone else’s piss and being really happy about it.“…

Anarchy in the UK. The Sex Pistols.
Growly, snarly and thoroughly overplayed in the last 30 years, but it’s still a bombastic call to arms against a ruling state in any form. Something the Wachoswki’s completely failed to appreciate when adapting V for Vendetta, and instead we got an army of masked clones marching on… Sorry, got off topic. It’s rough around the edges, but that’s the point. And the guitar chords alone would make The (insert trendy/ironic band name here) weep in envy.

New Rose. The Damned.
Never been a big fan of The Damned, and I can see why. There’s not much here, except a clever reworking of lyrics and some banging guitars with a hairbrush. Ok Jones, you win this one. But it’s still got a melody and some tune.

Hangin’ On The Telephone. Blondie.
Now this refutes everything proposed elsewhere on the internet. Musicianship, melody and Debbie Harry. Tell me this doesn’t make your shoulders beat in time to the music and I’ll call you a great big stinky liar. And no sign of a brick anywhere near that guitar. And don’t you go calling ms Harry incoherent or rasping either.

Peaches. The Stranglers.
By the Flying Spaghetti Monster! This is beautiful! From the opening chords to the poetic rhyming of skewer with sewer (ok, that’s a little forced) this is perfection. It’s a little bit shouty, but it’s everything that “pointless, crass and cretinous” simply isn’t. Ironic, funny and funky.

Whole Wide World. Wreckless Eric.
Did you listen to this, Jones??? It’s poetry. It might not be the Wu Tang Clan, but it’s heartfelt, and representative of a disaffected youth. It builds a musical theme, returns to it, builds over it, and crescendos in a big pile of meaning, longing and desire.

Germ Free Adolescents. X-Ray Spex.
Ok. You can have this one too. Poly Styrene never did it for me, and she still doesn’t now. The tune is mostly lyrical, but her voice has always grated on my spine. It’s a little shouty and strident, but not to the point of Hip Hop’s seeming desire to grab everyone in the room by the collar and make sure they know that it’s the coolest thing since sliced bread.

Boredom. The Buzzcocks.
Nope. Not for me. The Buzzcocks were a bit of a passing thing when I was younger. People’ll shake their heads at me for that, but I’m sorry, it’s true. Nothing to hear here.

Roadrunner. Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers.
I want to enjoy this, as it’s a classic, but it sounds like a remix of New York punk, via the Velvets, and then filtered through London and back again, with all the good stuff taken out for a focus group. Hits all the right notes, but, for me, not in the right order.

Do You Believe In The Westworld? Theatre of Hate.
Can’t help liking this. It’s a little incoherent, sure, but in such a good way. Bombastic, but lively and energetic. That sounds like a tagline for a fruit drink, doesn’t it?

Gary Gilmore’s Eyes. The Adverts.
Stunning. Mostly, I admit, because it’s a near perfect filter through which to read Mikal Gilmore’s ‘Shot In The Heart’ (I’ve just given Chris nightmares by reminding him that book exists. Sorry), but also because it is the perfect track to end on.

So. Four no’s, and six yes’s. I pass the baton over to Jones, and await his considered response.

Elsewhere, photos from the wedding of the Greatest Living Englishman. I predict that The Dissertation Donkey will henceforth be inspired to wear Edwardian outfits and arrive everywhere in a carriage. As befits a person of stature.

And Jacob Nielsen sticks his head above the parapet and whines about usability. Again.


7 comments for “The doctors are avoiding me”



    I think you rather missed the point of my vicious ranting… I didn’t listen to the CD. I never had it or any other punk CD within ten feet of me. I don’t like it, as I think I probably made fairly obvious. What you no doubt know is that music is entirely subjective and that you and I are approaching this from utterly different angles. You like punk, I don’t and I never will, nor will I ever be convinced that it has any real merit. You, I imagine, would say precisely the same about hip hop. And that’s the beauty of having a difference of opinion. I imagine if one tried hard enough, you could probably find someone somewhere who would give a spirited if misguided defence of happy hardcore.

    But while I don’t dispute anyone’s right to like any type of music (however mystifying) you have to also remember that I am a musician (possibly a properly paid one, soon) and producer and that’s how I come at this. Not from a “it’s an important part of my creativity” sort of angle but that it is everything I do with my life and my work. I’ve been playing the piano for 22 years (yeah, I couldn’t believe that one either) and recording music for 13 years. God knows I wouldn’t get into an argument with you about typography, men who draw grown up comics featuring busty vixens or David Lynch and his baffling films, because that’s your thing. Of course that doesn’t preclude anyone else from having a view on something, but if I bother to write some gubbins on the internet about how much I think punk is a waste of time, you can be sure that I really do mean it. And anyway, you linked to it!

    You clearly hold hip hop in the same poo pit into which I would happily dangle punk… and that’s fine! You won’t catch me writing a spirited defence of Pete Rock’s scratching technique on your blog because…guess what… I know you hate it! And that’s cool because there are things that people just don’t like. You hear “a bombastic call to arms against a ruling state” and I hear a tinny, tuneless mess.

    It’s just a difference of opinion, this one. It’s City vs. United and no backing down, to quote a footballing analogy which I am hopelessly unqualified to use. And it’s also a generational thing. You like people who wear black things and sing ballads, whereas I like music that’s made largely by black people and has bollocks. Here’s the crux though:

    “It’s rough around the edges, but that’s the point. And the guitar chords alone would make The (insert trendy/ironic band name here) weep in envy.”

    Yes that’s precisely the point. There’s rough around the edges and then there’s “unlistenable”. The stuff that’s had more than ten minutes spent on it probably sounds OK but still wouldn’t raise my interest level perceptibly off the zero mark. You know how I feel about “trendy ironic bands” too – into the pit with the lot of ‘em. But as a proper musician, I can’t accept that any punk will ever be for me. Remember that I’m a producer and that owing to the kind of great guy I am (modest, too) I won’t claim to be influenced by something which I clearly detest just to appear “in the know”. Others, as everyone knows, do. 3D said something about how a lot of his music comes from his “having originally been a punk”, though I notice he mysteriously bypassed its awful production values for super-slick mega-production, big corporate bucks and rapping. So, not punk at all then, really. I don’t doubt that he means it, just that there’s any truth to it at all.

    And did you see Panorama just now? It turns out Brown is an absolute raging sociopath and borderline basket case with severe emotional issues. So we’re buggered then…

    Posted by mongo | May 14, 2007, 8:38 pm
  2. And did you see Panorama just now? It turns out Brown is an absolute raging sociopath and borderline basket case with severe emotional issues. So we’re buggered then…

    Not as buggered as we are here in the Ice-y hellhole. We just had a general election where the party which put a convicted criminal up as an MP, made election promises that amount to “none, cause you lot don’t deserve any” and a record of totally buggering up both the economy and our education system, got re-elected, again.

    Actually, they increased in popularity.

    Icelanders are waaaaaay more buggered than you lot.

    Know of any decent jobs going in the UK? :-P

    Posted by baldur | May 14, 2007, 9:23 pm
  3. “Know of any decent jobs going in the UK? ”

    er… chancellor?!

    p.s. if you do nothing else this week, “acquire” the latest episode of Family Guy.. some high quality jabs at the way the dunderheaded U.S electorate was won over with constant, utterly irrelevant banging on about 9/11.

    And lots of jokes about farting, obviously.

    Posted by mongo | May 14, 2007, 10:28 pm
  4. Dear Hol.

    You did say ‘discuss’…!

    best, as ever.


    Baldur – now you know to not leave again. You’re back for the wedding in July?


    Posted by tom | May 15, 2007, 12:07 am

    (phones tabloids)

    Posted by mongo | May 15, 2007, 12:43 am
  6. Baldur – now you know to not leave again. You’re back for the wedding in July?

    Yup. Which reminds me. I really should make sure that people here at work know I’m taking those days off. Apparantly employers don’t take well to their employees disappearing suddenly.

    Maybe I should just leave a note on my desk that week and see if somebody notices.

    Posted by baldur | May 15, 2007, 3:59 pm
  7. There seems to be some confusion… by Punk I’m talking strictly about the shouty, sex pistols-esque stuff. Not the stuff that seems to get called punk (like The Stranglers) but as far as I can see has nothing whatsoever in common with it.


    Posted by mongo | May 25, 2007, 3:34 pm

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