Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Poor Dumb Teenager of the 80s

Iain Martin often writes good sense about Politics. Just as well, because he's got no future as a music critic. His dissing of Pink Floyd in an article on Cameron is typical of a seventies child who became an 80s teenager. To the spotty 14 year old Martin, of questionable personal hygiene and completely undeveloped personal music taste, perhaps the atonal bleatings of Morrissey on The Queen is Dead struck a chord. But he should have grown out of it quickly, discovered The Cure (unquestionably THE British band of the 80s), and then immersed himself in the glorious treasure trove of 70s music, which I think we can all agree was the ne plus ultra decade of modern popular music.

Pink Floyd's classic era, from Meddle in 1971 to The Wall in 1979, is as strong a catalogue from that decade as any band anywhere. Bowie, with Hunky Dory to Lodger, gets as close as anyone else. Martin's point, that a Floyd fan de facto knew nothing about music, is preposterous. He may not be surprised that I consider Blood on the Tracks (75) to be as good an album as Wish You Were Here, or Let it Bleed (Dec 69). But what about London Calling, or Talking Heads 77, or even (I admit it) the classic Elton period from 71-75? We had a broad scope from which to choose. We had it all and we didn't need to be ovine followers of one band or genre. One of Cameron's Desert Island Discs, if I remember, was Wish You Were Here, so it wasn't so dark or guilty a secret, was it?

It is probably a truism that modern Prime Ministers should never answer questions about their favourite cultural things. Just remember the cringemaking thought of Brown on his exercise rocking horse at 6am, digging the Arctic Monkeys. But Cameron comes out of this one just fine. A public schoolboy in the late 70s and early 80s was listening to Pink Floyd and the Clash and the Specials in his study. If he had to make a public choice between the three, he made the right one, politically. I concede to Martin that The Queen is Dead would have been inexplicable to Her Majesty.

UPDATE: Critic's response


Thud said...

Idle, I shared a label and a flat with the cure chaps way back when, they where rather kind to a somewhat rough and touchy scouser....politicians, in fact everybody in public life should avoid any references to music in any shape or form.

Scrobs... said...

Iain Martin's piece isn't very well written, it's rather like you'd read in a school mag, only without the colouring-in bits...

My ageing mum and dad loved 'Dark side of the moon', and it was often in the cassette player (eighties this), because it was a damn good album; simple as that.

The didn't have the angst, they just liked the music...

Sebastian Weetabix said...

My classical guitar tutor (who would be 120 if he were still alive) absolutely loved Pink Floyd. I remember him describing them as "musically very interesting and considerably more tuneful than those dreadful buggers Stockhausen & Boulez". He hated the Beatles though; they were "saccharine rubbish".

All of which suggests to me that Mr Martin has no taste and is a pseud. To be fair he was probably wanking himself off to Blondie years after Wish you were here.

Bill Quango MP said...

Never liked Dark Side of the Moon.
Remember throwing the cassette out of the car.

Electro-Kevin said...

No mention of Kylie or Jason ?

I loved that Scott, Aitken and Waterman period.

idle said...

You have risen even higher in my estimation, Thud. If you have a free week, my 20 year old would like to ask you a few thousand questions about Robert Smith.

I don't know what to read into the revelation that scrobs' Edwardian parents were Floyd fans. His breeding is obviously impeccable.

Sebastian, I'm with your music tutor. People keep telling me that McCartney is a genius and I reply that, when he did (very occasionally) trip over a good melody and lyric, he would pick himself and hurry on without much fuss.

Bill, there's no point flogging a dead horse with a tin ear. You are excused music lessons.

EK, I know you are joshing us. We all occasionally sing the chorus of a S, A&W song on radio 2 in the privacy of our car, but recognise it to be rhubarb.

Off to Lord's now.

Anonymous said...

Ah the mental image (how appropriate) of Gordon Brown on his rocking horse wearing a nappy still makes me laugh. Hope you enjoyed the cricket.

Elby the Beserk said...


Congrats on last night. De Matteo will no doubt now get sacked! Played the game perfectly, and it is always good to see Bayern, who are as arrogant and unpleasant as United, being done. Especially at home!

Floyd. I have to pull you on their "classic era". I would say it ended with Meddle. I started seeing them just after Syd left, saw them a good 14 or 15 times, including some almighty psychedelic fuelled all-nighters at the Roundhouse, when the played for hours. IMHO, they went from psychedelic to pompadelic, took themselves too seriously and lost whatever they had that did it for me.

Mind you - for me, the Stones were all down hill after Exiles in 1972!

You know people in power, doncha? Why the hell is Blowers not Sir Henry Blofeld?

idle said...

Good point about Blowers, Elby. Subject of my next post, perhaps.

Spacerock or Syd-era Floyd happened a few years too early for me to have bought into it. You will think me a pedestrian for only listening nowadays to See Emily Play and Arnold Layne - bite-sized singles which were original and enjoyable without having to settle down for 18 minutes of indulgence.......

I do, however, have A Tree Full of Secrets, an extraordinary, probably illegal, 30-hour collection of everything they ever recorded, stereo and mono, demo and advertising copy.

Elby the Beserk said...


I have a large collection of their live shows up to around 1971. Very fine, and as one reared, as it were, in the improvisational magnificence of the Dead in full flight, the Floyd's Astronomy Domine & Interstellar Overdrive are up there with them. Intergalactic free jazz, as a friend of mine called such music.

I did go to see the London première of DSOTM - but fell asleep (honestly). It seemed to me that a spark of anarchy and invention had gone out of the music by that time. But then I am a chronic old hippy :-)

Gooner said...

Elby, as the other chronic old hippy sitting on the park bench, for once we are in total agreement about Bayern and United. Cheers mate and best of luck for next season. Looking like we'll be without Robin, whose eyes appear to have glazed over with rouble or yuan signs.

apricotfox said...

My 16 year old, better known to Apricotfox followers as the BG( Boy Genius) has every single Floyd album on his ipod and nearly all of them on vinyl, too. I know it's ridiculous, but I am inordinately proud that his record collection consists of Led Zep/Hendrix/Floyd/Neil Young/Dylan/Clapton. Not quite so sure about the burning ( and soon to be indulged) desire to see Black Sabbath live...but there you go!

idle said...

Foxy, very good to hear from you. I, also, have the great pleasure of being father to a 20yo girl of terrifying self-confidence (ask Alceste) and (inherited) opinionatedness (?), whose musical tastes reflect rather splendidly upon her sire.

Gooner, all are welcome here. I hope you keep your goalscorer, or that if he goes anywhere it will only be as far as Chelsea to avoid those boring removals vans.

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