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Friday, 29 September 2017

To the future James, and don't spare the horses.

This morning I was listening to the always excellent This Day in Music Radio podcast, and thoroughly enjoying their James piece, when Tim Booth mentioned heritage bands.
It’s not a term I had heard before, but it struck a chord.
He was talking about how the music business sees his band as a heritage one, and reading between the lines possibly irrelevant.
This was something that he obviously vehemently disagrees with. And of course he is right.
James are not known for resting on their laurels, or for working up a lather as they flog a dead horse.
By dint of their talent they are as relevant now as they were when they first grabbed the attention of music lovers in the eighties.
Always fresh, always moving forward, they are an act that will at some point deservedly be classed as hall of fame material if we in the UK had such a thing.

But to get to the heritage band point, to my understanding that would be one that no longer records and just tour a best of package.
Or if they do release new material it is lacking in any momentum and the recording is approached with the intent of touching base with past glories rather than forging forward in any sense.
That is a heritage act.
In other words, the polar opposite of what James are all about.

And then with the thoughts of who are, and aren’t, heritage bands swirling around in my head I started thinking about the popularity of the anniversary tours that are very fashionable at the moment, and the reissues of classic albums.
Both have their place and it would be churlish to have a dig as the response to both show that they are in many ways what people want, but a whispering nagging voice keeps intruding and asking questions such as ‘but what happens when the attention is driven away from all of the new material?’

The answer isn’t too difficult to reach. We all lose out.

It is a problem that the industry doesn’t seem to be interested in supporting new talent; or that of bands with a long history that keep forging forward, but it is a bigger problem if we, the public, follow suit. Because then we become complicit in the music business eating its own tail.
If the majority gravitate towards the past then there is no future.
Is that too harsh a take on it though?
I am not alone in championing new music, or artists that keep knocking it out of the park with fresh material regardless of how old they are, but this minority voice is not one that carries much weight.
I have to be honest with myself and admit that.
And while the solution isn’t really in my grasp, it is within that of all of us if we collectively reach out for it.
All we have to do is just engage with music again. It sounds very simple doesn’t it? And that’s because it is.
We can still get out there and see the big bands of yesteryear, but maybe we should all up our game and slip in a club sized gig now and then too, or how about picking up the album of the band whose one song you heard and loved. Baby steps really.
Unfortunately that does take a bit of effort though, and yeah, “give me convenience or give me death” etcetera, but the returns could very well make it all worthwhile.
By making that bit more of an effort we can all contribute to a future generation enjoying the classic hits of a band that are just forming, or even add to the longevity of the artists who refuse to find themselves so deep in a rut that all they can ever do is shout out their hits from the depths of it.

So being part of the solution isn’t really that bad an option when you consider the alternative.

And here’s a place to start. The Duncan Reid & The Big Heads gig in Nice N Sleazy (Glasgow) that I have arranged for next week. (A cheeky wink should be inserted here)

Promoting his third album they will provide a best of both worlds set, as alongside their hits of tomorrow, there will be a sprinkling of a few songs from his past with The Boys. See what I mean by best of both worlds.  
And along for the ride will be up and comers Heavy Drapes who in a previous incarnation opened for Bowies Tin Machine and The New York Dolls amongst others. A prime example of how you can teach old dogs new tricks.
And if that is just too much new material to deal with there will be 3 Minute Heroes running through plenty of punk and power pop hits to help provide the link between the old and the new.  

Something for everyone really so let’s keep the tracks greased, and if you can’t attend this gig then please do consider attending another over the next week or two. 
Go on and dip your toe in. Very often the water is lovely and there is a great deal more out there than just heritage bands, which have their place too, but don’t do anything for all our tomorrows.

I guess the point is that we should ask not what the artists can do for us, but what we can do for them.  

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