DOING PENANCE

I’m barging the Saturday series out-of-the-way today so that I can follow-up after the welcome and varied responses to ‘True Confessions.’

First of all, as ever, a huge thank you to everyone for taking the time to fire over your view, thoughts and opinions; as I’ve said on so many occasions, it’s the quality of comments and guest contributions that make this venture all worthwhile. I had a feeling the idea of slaughtering a few sacred cows would prove controversial and so it sort of proved.

One thing I want to make very clear is that I’ve never liked the idea of using the blog to be negative and over the past eleven and a bit years, the percentage of posts that don’t celebrate music has been tiny. I’d even like to think that the ‘Had It. Lost It’ series is in some ways celebratory in that the idea is to reflect on how good, and indeed great, a singer or band had been only for it to go awry.

The concept behind ‘True Confessions’ was similar. This series, if it was going to be as such, was intended to look at one song in isolation by an act that I otherwise liked or admired; it also had the rider that the act had to come from a past era so that I couldn’t simply give the finger to something that was contemporary on the basis that I ‘didn’t get it’. I chose The Model on the basis that I have enjoyed a lot of the music produced over the years by Kraftwerk but had never warmed to their best known and arguably best-loved song, certainly among the general public.

If this comes across as conceited to some of you, then I’m truly sorry. But I do think there has been a slight misunderstanding of what I was hoping to achieve.

In essence, it was like trying to recreate an on-line version of an argument down the pub between folk who care and are passionate about music. This was never just to carp about a bad song as I don’t believe there is such a thing as a bad song – but there are quite a lot of songs that I don’t care for; indeed there are many more songs that I don’t like or enjoy than I have in the vinyl, cd and digital collection inside Villain Towers, but I have no intention of spending time or energy writing about them just for the sake of it.

I’ll try and illustrate this with an example from the comments. Alex considered that “the worst song ever in the history of songs has to be Paul Simon “You Can Call Me Al” which is from the “acclaimed” Graceland album.” I’m not sure if it is quite the worst ever in the history of songs, but it is one that I’ve never taken to. But at the same time, I’ve never really taken much to Paul Simon’s solo career and so don’t feel that I’m qualified to post a negative piece on You Can Call Me Al as I can’t consider it any sort of context.

It was also the case that any song that fell under the microscope for the series had to be one that was, on the face of it, universally acclaimed. As such, I’d never entertain the idea of any Oasis song featuring or the suggestion of Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds; in the case of the former, this was a band that divided opinion from Day 1 and in respect of the latter I think it’s fair to say that, despite its millions of worldwide sales, most Simple Minds fans don’t regard it as the band’s finest moment.

I agree wholeheartedly with Moz’s comment that “one person’s caviar is another’s fish paste sandwich, and we should all respect that”. The key word here is ‘respect’ and that was, I think, what C was alluding to when she said “I like the sound of this series….don’t mind the idea of interspersing the large number of posts about things we like with some about the things we don’t….want to understand the basis behind the opinions I don’t agree with …..as long as it doesn’t become too personal of course”.

Having weighed things up, and slept on it all overnight, I’m going to keep the feature going as an occasional series and will take guest contributions as long as they fit the criteria. That rules out CC doing anything on U2 and SWC is barred from frantically writing why The Smiths suck….but don’t worry too much buddy as I’m likely to make a confession about one of their songs.

One more quick visit to the box by me to wrap things up.

I could very happily go the rest of my life without ever hearing both sides of a particular 45 by Orange Juice. It doesn’t sit easy with me given how much I’ve written about the band over the years and that I was given a namecheck in the credits of the Coals to Newcastle boxset (such things should really be reserved for those who have blind faith!).

As I said in my OJ ICA ,

“The old adage of ‘musical differences’ had been was cited when Steven and James left the band after the debut album but in this instance it was the truth. This had left Edwyn and David to take things forward, augmented by the fantastically talented Malcolm Ross and a Zimbabwe-born drummer called Zeke Manyika but the initial fruits of their labour – the double-sided single of Two Hearts Together/Hokoyo – was a huge disappointment and nothing like any of the old songs. It was a worrying time.”

I actually understated how much I disliked this particular single that was released in August 1982. It sounded as if the band wanted to spend the rest of their careers somewhere down the bill on WOMAD festivals. The songs are a real mishmash of influences, none of which had been part of any of the Postcard era or the debut album. I wasn’t ready for it and to be quite honest, I’ve never ever steadied myself to fully accept it as an Orange Juice recording. It’s really strange as the work Zeke puts into the songs, particularly on Hokoyo, would later be replicated in parts on Soul Mining by The The, and that’s an album I will never allow a bad word to be said about. Maybe it’s about time and place.

mp3 : Orange Juice – Two Hearts Together (7″ version)
mp3 : Orange Juice – Hokoyo (7″ version)

So there you have it. Orange Juice getting slated on T(n)VV.

Who’s next for the confessional box?

PS

Echorich indicated that he liked the idea of B-Side Gems. The old blog was full of such postings – indeed it was launched with the intention of offering up unknown and rarely heard b-sides on a regular basis at a time when the back catalogues of many 80s and 90s artists were obsolete. One of my first postings was a Lloyd Cole track which was impossible to get a hold of without having a 12” single – it’s since surfaced on a boxset of rarities.

mp3 : Lloyd Cole – Butterfly (Planet Anne Charlotte mix)

I’ll try and dig out some b-side postings from the archives and put them up over the upcoming festive period.

JC

3 thoughts on “DOING PENANCE

  1. Frantically ripping up my 10000 word thesis on why Backstreet Boys are musically more important than The Smiths. Which is sort of lucky for you guys. Although I may publish it on the soon to be launched ‘the sound of being ok’ blog.

  2. Hi JC,
    Before you read this, I’d like to say that I hope you take this comment as it’s intended . . . to be entirely complimentary about your blog!

    I may not be able to relate to the era of music on which you focus, but I do have a listen and enjoy your thoughtful, perceptive writing. You don’t know how often I’ve wished that you were born 20 years or so earlier so that I could enjoy the same writing about the music with which I’m most familiar and love dearly – mainly ’50s-’60s. I’ve been searching the web for such a blog for a long time but, alas, I don’t think one exists of the same calibre as TNVV.

    I may not be able to relate to this era of music on which you focus, but I do listen and enjoy reading your insights on these tunes. To show how absolutely clueless I must be, I actually love “Don’t You Forget About Me.” 😉

  3. Well, you’ve converted me. I look forward to whatever this series kicks up. I think Billy Joel will probably be safe, considering…

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