So, this internet thing I’ve been hearing about. Seems like a nifty way of keeping in touch with your auntie in Australia, but sometimes more trouble than it’s worth.
Ask Radiohead. Singer Thom Yorke has always had an uneasy relationship with the music industry, or as he calls it, a “decaying business model”. Indeed, they released their album ‘In Rainbows’ on a “pay what you think it’s worth” basis (insert your own sarcasm here).
And just recently they took their own advice – ‘How To Disappear Completely’ – erasing their website, Facebook and Twitter accounts. Could it be a cryptic message a la ‘Paul Is Dead’? Was Colin Greenwood wearing any shoes? Did anyone spot Noel Gallagher, on a grassy knoll with a candlestick?
Sadly, no. Only a day later the band, back in love with technology again, had released a video from what turned out to be their new album (a bizarre Trumpton-style take on the Wicker Man – younger readers, ask your hipster uncle). There was some music as well, and though it went in one ear and out the other, I recall that it sounded a lot like Radiohead.
But disappearing nowadays must be tricky, inspiring yearning for those halcyon days when Reggie Perrin, Lord Lucan, and Shed 7 were able to disappear without trace (same uncle, at least in the case of the first 2).
Nowadays, technology, whether it’s phone tracking, dental records or the Federation Against Copyright Theft will get you in the end.
Yes, nicking music from the web is getting harder nowadays, though with Spotify and the like freely available there’s little point in taking that risk. Indeed, it seems it’s the musicians themselves who are much more likely to get into trouble by misusing the web. Some might be better off writing their missives with a quill and ink since by the time they’d located an ostrich in the grounds of their 17th century mock-Tudor mansion they’ll hopefully have forgotten what they were going to say.
Sinead O’Connor is one artist who could take a lesson from Thom Yorke and co. as she may be in big trouble having named a chatshow host as supplier of Prince’s painkillers. Rev, as she’s not known, of course owes her success to the purple one’s donation of ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ for her first hit, so maybe it was the grief talking. Either way, she was still accused, like David Walliams, of making Prince’s death all about her – via social media, of course.
But a death of a loved one can hit hard and cause irrational behaviour – even if the closest the bereaved fan came to their idol was while rummaging through their bins. Anger, blame or simple denial can take hold – thus, conspiracy theories spring up, whether the old favourite of Kurt being bumped off by Buddy Holly, or a still-alive Elvis working as a Mars-based CIA operative. Meanwhile, no-one really knows what to make of the disappearance of Richey Edwards out of the Manics, but sightings are reported every so often.
Another star still with us is Little Richard. The rock’n’roll pioneer, 83, was recently rumoured on the web to be very ill, but he popped up saying “I’m not dead” hours later.
Well, he said he was Little Richard. But I read it on the web, so I suppose it must be true…
The 1990s, eh? So much to answer for. Britpop, I’m looking at you. Although for once, the Americans led the bandwagon, grunge’s commercial success paving the way for noise rock bands to emerge from the underground.
Meanwhile, Sweden seems to have caught up, with their own take on US college rock. The quartet from Uppsala display a joyous exuberance over a mere nine songs. A mass of energy, all excoriating riffs and pounding drumming, they may well be oblivious to the charms of Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr but somehow extract all the best bits and distil them into a succession of sub-three-minute bundles of distortion and joy. Yes, it’s all very 90s but then again, everyone has to start somewhere, and give me the version via Seattle or Sweden over Stockport any day. HHHHH