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The Rambler :: blog

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

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Went out the other day and bought myself some huge new headphones for the minidisc player (well, until iPods get a bit cheaper, what are you gonna do?), which are great, because not only do they keep my ears toasty warm, but I look like that kid from ET. Or not. And, of course, it means I can start listening to my MDs with pleasure once more, rather than in pain 'cos my ears are the wrong shape for Sony's silly plastic earpieces.

The upshot of this is that I've been relistening to compilations of my old indie records from the early '90s, back when I were a lad. I'd forgotten how infused so many tracks had become with the frustration and sheer ennui with John Major's dying Tory government. It seems like every single record on that compilation (the fainthearted might want to look away now - I was young, alright?) from PWEI (Dos dedos mes amigos) to Kingmaker ('Ten Years Asleep') to Elastica ('Waking Up'), to Sleeper (Smart) share the same sludge of apathy and despair ('Make a cup of tea/Put a record on'). And then there were S*M*A*S*H who were sodding brilliant frankly and bloody good fun ('Margaret Thatcher/Jeffery Archer/Michael Heseltine/John Major/Virginia Bottomley/And especially/Gill Shepherd's got an appalling unemployment record/I want to kill somebody', hahaha!). And it seems to me that although New Labour were keen to paint Britpop as part of this bright new future, it was really forged in the ashes of a dying government and a country's resentment (it seems a small step to me from 'Waking Up' to Oasis's 'Rock and Roll Star'): when Labour actually came into power, and things were going to get better (ahem), the seeds of Britpop's destruction were already sown. Which I'm sure is not an original thought, but there you go.

Which got me to thinking: was that national frustration a good thing for music? Conventionally, hard times are supposed to invigorate a culture, but on the whole, what I'm left with on my minidiscs is nostalgia and limp retro. Now, Blair is seemingly going to do for Labour precisely what Thatcher did for the Tories - spectacularly salvage an ailing party, hang around for far too long, win the resentment of a nation, and then pass the baton on to some poor second-rater when it's too late, thus leaving the party in tatters and ruining British politics for another two terms. And believe me, Brown is quite ready to be Labour's John Major. When that happens, watch the record stores for the New Wave of New Wave of New Wave. I'm not optimistic, because by then we'll be bored to tears.


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