Sunday, 30 March 2014

Garage Punk Ethics - Who needs originality when you can have Soul Power?

There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.

Bob Dylan

Garage Punk Ethics - Who needs originality when you can have Soul Power?

Take a listen...

Uploaded to youtube by ESLMusicDC. See below for tracklisting

Last week I went to see another band. A local blues band called the Blues Sherpas. A mate of mine is the lead singer and they do blues and dadrock covers by the Stones and the Stray Cats and so on.

Someone made a comment that the band wasn’t particularly original. Well, two things strike me. Firstly, it’s very difficult to be original with an art form, rock music in this case, which has been around for nearly 60 years. Should we even be looking for originality in rock music when there’s plenty of other stuff going on outside rock music that might be more creative?

Secondly, is originality really that important anyway? When people first heard Elvis, Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis back in the 50s were they really struck by how innovative the music was or was it the brute force, the sexuality and the liberation from emotional restraint that made an impact?

Isn’t the whole “originality” thing, when applied to something like popular art or music, really just a little disingenuous? People started applying this notion to rock / pop music back in the 60s and 70s. A bunch of middle class rock journos with recently acquired degrees deconstructed the latest Beatles, Rolling Stones or Pink Floyd albums and discovered they could earn a crust from it. This kind of thing is actually pretty easy to do and anyone can bluff their way into making themselves look cool by saying things like “Well, yes, Led Zeppelin, they stole it all from Willie Dixon, you know” or “Oasis. They were just a poor man’s Beatles, weren’t they?” while at the same time ignoring any emotional impact that the music has on people.

Originality only really started to matter when rock / pop music became big business and the lawyers got involved and suddenly any cheap two note guitar riff was “intellectual property”. Was bluesman Robert Johnson influenced by anyone? Did he adapt and rewrite already existing tunes? He was working within a blues tradition so it is possible… But do you know? Do you really care? Does it affect the way you listen to him or the manifold versions of Crossroads or any of his other songs out there?

Unless you are a lawyer or a journalist isn't it all just anecdotal? Bob Dylan took old folk tunes and rewrote the lyrics. He even rewrote the Beatles' Norwegian Wood as Fourth Time Around on Blonde on Blonde, and though admittedly that may have been a bit tongue in cheek, Fourth Time Around is NOT Norwegian Wood.

Anyway, my point is that pinching stuff from others was always the tradition in traditional folk or blues. It’s nothing new.

So maybe there isn’t anything original about the Blues Sherpas yet at the end of the show they had worked their arses off and had everyone dancing to a hard rocking version of Ray CharlesWhat’d I Say? A thoroughly good time was had by all, the required emotional catharsis had taken place and we were all left shouting for more. Yea! Soul Power!

We now live in a post modern 21st Century pop culture when you can find stuff on the internet, mash it up, change it around, recreate it as something different and stick it on facebook for your friends. How is that different from itinerant folk or blues singers hearing songs and rewriting them to tell their own stories when they went from town to town in previous centuries? It’s communication. Telling a story. Making people feel good or bad or sorry or inspiring them to do something better. Soul power. The most important thing about music or art is the effect that it has on you.

How does it make you feel? What does it make you want to do next?

Tough questions eh?

"There must be some way out of here" said the joker to the thief.

Garage Punk Classics Track List
The best illustration of my point. Nothing particularly original about many of them is there? But pretty stunning rock and roll all the same..

01. The Undertakers - Unchain My Heart
02. The Kinks - I Need You
03. The Moving Sidewalks - 99th Floor
04. We The People - My Brother, The Man
05. The Sparkles - Hipsville 29 BC
06. The Sonics - Shot Down
07. The Jades - Little Girl
08. Thee Sixpence - My Flash On You
09. The Remains - Diddy Wah Diddy (Bo Diddley Cover)
10. The Henchmen - Get Off My Back
11. the electric prunes - Too much to dream last night
12. The Omens - Searching
13. the haunted - 1-2-5
14. The stoics - hate
15. The Barons - Now you're mine
16. The Pretty Things - Midnight to six
17. Teddy And His Patches - Suzy Creamcheese
18. The Music Machine - Talk Talk
19. The Syndicats - Crawdaddy Simone
20. The Cirkit-Yesterday We Laughed
21. Larry Knight & the Upsetters - Hurt Me
22. The Avengers - Caveman
23. Larry & the Bluenotes - In and Out
24. Count Five - Psychotic Reaction
25. The Wilde Knights - Beaver Patrol

More on stranger than known
Optimism, Positivity and SOUL POWER!

© D. Mainwood

1 comment:

  1. Another great post which speaks a lot of truth. Give this man his own music show! Feel the vibe, enjoy the music. It's only rock n roll, but I like it....