Saturday, November 12, 2011

Synth Britannia

As I said in the post below I've just finished a novel set in 1981 called The Cold Cold Ground and throughout the book the protagonist of the story, a Detective Sergeant in the Royal Ulster Constabulary, has a few little laments about the state of contemporary music. For him and for me the golden age of pop music was the period from about 1964 - 1980 when rock and roll was diverse and interesting and the great bands were firing on all cylinders. The death of John Bonham and the break up of Led Zeppelin brought to an end the amazing period of heavy metal, John Lennon's murder closed the book on the Beatles and the implosion of the Sex Pistols took much of the momentum from punk rock. 1981 saw the rise of synth pop and this was a music that I hated. Perhaps taking my cue from Britain's vicious music press, the NME, Melody Maker etc. in my 13 year old brain these bands were 'inauthentic' upper class art school boys playing poncy songs on poncy machines. Real men played guitars, basses and drums not synths. In fact as this BBC 4 documentary attempts to show the synth bands were the real outsiders: geeky working class kids heavily into JG Ballard, computers and dystopian sci-fi movies. In other words they were quite a bit like me. "Tout comprendre rend très-indulgent," as Madame de Stael said. Indeed.