Sunday, May 08, 2011


I hadn't intended to work today but I started mining through the interviews that I have done over the years to look for material to include in the paper that I'm doing at the symposium on the 20th.
Ten years ago, when I first started, the people I spoke to were not seasoned interviewees and they spoke about a lot of things that they have since learned to temper in order to present a particular slant on their past.
None of this is untruthful: it becomes expedient to emphasise some aspects of your past and to play down others.
It was lucky to have met them when their conversation was raw and unrehearsed, and I often feel that my being a musician helped. I have mislaid some of the transcripts and if there's time I will go back to the original DAT recordings to find out what the tantalising 'more here...' bits mean.
You can say: 'But look at all the female instrumentalists these days', but what was extraordinary about those women in the punk times was the lack of artifice, which several of them identify as re-entering the sphere with Madonna.
Basically, the record companies lost control of the artists who were creating the music; the industry depended/depends on people being willing to do anything in order to be rich and famous, and could/can therefore manipulate the 'product' accordingly.
Back then The Clash were seen to be 'selling out', tumbling into the arms of CBS in 1977, whereas the Sex Pistols were seen to be aggressively oppositional in their fleecing of the record labels they signed to (although it got them and Malcom McLaren fantastic publicity); Siouxsie and the Banshees signed to Polydor too.
But most of the oddball lot I have documented were signed to little labels with either no business sense or an alternative business sense (in the case of Rough Trade) and could develop their unusual styles and fusions of music without having to succumb to a genre label, even the new one, 'punk'.
So I am going to talk about the origins of their sounds, and the fierce attempts to terminate their endeavours.

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