Songs of Love Echo Under Class
Refelections on the failings of the current indie scene
By Sheraz Qureshi
I find it difficult to write about, let alone admit
to being a fan of alternative music in 2006. The problem is primarily
one of perception. Mention to a lay person that you are a fan of rock
and roll, and the reaction will be one of indifference or else, regurgitated
stories from the tabloid press about the antics of ' Junkie Pete ' complete
with a million and one jokes made at the expense various Grunge and
Emo stereotypes with little if any focus put on anything relating to
" TO ALL WHO PASS THAT THEY MAY SEE, ROCK AND ROLL WAS A PART OF
Even the music press seems to have lost its way, championing bastardised
buzzcocksian happy-happy boy-girl banality (Blink 182 / Avril Lavinge
/ Fall Out Boy) or worse still, bourgeois, pseudo intellectual, pseudo
androgynous posturing (Placebo, Selfish C et all) instead of gravitating
towards some kind of centre of substance.
" HISTORY BOOKS, NEWS BROADCASTS AND MUSIC MAGS ARE ALL FULL
OF PEOPLE WHO'VE LET US DOWN: "WE DON'T WANT YOUR FUCKING HEROES!"
Of course, there are bands from the past
but the problem with
that is the idea of the homogenised consensus, and in the process, bands,
irrespective of motive, being reduced to irrelevance. Ask David Cameron
who his favourite bands are and he'll start talking about the Clash
and Morrissey. Its perfectly ok for Sham 69 and the New York Dolls to
perform on Newsnight; and when the Sex Pistols decide to reunite The
Sun gives their' come back tour a positive review!
It was against this backdrop that I put together this cd compilation.
My aim being to try and present music whose spirit may be late 1970s
London, but whose impact hasn't been neutered by the ghetto of acclaim
and time. I wanted to try and capture a sense of empowerment, creativity
"ITS UNHEARD OF, AN ADVENTURE LIKE THIS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE
The front cover (above)is a statement of intent. It's taken from an
early Miss Black America single. The image was originally found in a
magazine called Searchlight, and then copied and pasted several times
over against a yellow background - the aim being to show how anyone
(hence the use of a stickman) can be inspired into taking a stand for
something which is important, whether it's the fight against the far
right and ignorance, or taking on nationalism and apathy, and to show
that if enough people are willing to go out on a limb and make their
voice's heard, real change can be brought about (hence the repetition
of the image over and over) - and the tracks I have selected all conform
to that theme i.e. music acting as a catalyst and every track on this
cd means / or has at one stage meant a lot to me.
Motown Junk was the moment that I lost my punk rock virginity "Songs
of love echo underclass betrayal." And along with Little Thoughts
it is a permanent reminder of the person who I don't want to be. I think
both songs can be compared to 'Death on Stairs' in terms of lyrical
content, but Motown Junk goes further - it rails against a culture that
breeds apathy "a lifetime of slavery" and it demands that
the listener does more then passively consume (the opening Public Enemy
sample and the raw punk energy of the track being the driving force).
" IN A WORLD WHERE NO ONE READS PAPERS, LISTENS TO POETRY, BOTHERS
TO VOTE OR TRIES TO CHANGE THINGS, MUSIC IS THE ONLY MEDIUM WHICH CAN
TOUCH MILLIONS OF PEOPLE AND IGNITE THEM INTO ACTION. R*E*P*E*A*T WANTS
TO EFFECT THIS CHANGE. GIVE US A FIRM PLACE TO STAND AND WE CAN MOVE
THE EARTH "
The track 'What's My Name' is the song which resonates the most, on
a personal level to me. The sense of confusion, of not being entirely
sure where you are heading and who you are supposed to be - even if
you can't completely articulate that. It reminds me of last Easter at
medical school, and the feeling of being trapped that I felt. I'm sure
that Joe Strummer didn't have any of this in mind when he composed said
track, but it's what I have superimposed onto it! I do have the original
version somewhere, but I couldn't find it, so I've had to use a Manic
Street Preachers' cover instead (I assure you it wasn't intentional!)
Other songs mean just as much but for other reasons. I can't say enough
good things about the Virgin Suicides or Miss Black America. I love
the simplicity of their songs, I love their intelligence, and the intelligence
they inspire in their fans, I adore the fact that they aren't afraid
of manifestos, but most of all, I love the fact that they are both young
bands who are around NOW and who despite being rejected by the nme and
'insiders who know' have refused to compromise in any way at all.
" I DON'T HAVE ANY ROCK AND ROLL HEROES; THEY'RE ALL USELESS. THE
STONES AND THE WHO DON'T MEAN ANYTHING ANYMORE; THEY'RE ESTABLISHED.
I have attached reviews for 'Talk Hard,' 'Just as Dead Now' and 'Elizabeth
Royal'. But suffice to say, all three tracks are of huge importance
to me and I hope that they inspire in you the same level of excitement
that they did in me. The track Elizabeth Royal actually manages to out
do ' God Save The Queen' which isn't something I would have thought
" WE INVITE EVERYONE TO QUESTION THE ENTIRE
CULTURE WE TAKE FOR GRANTED "
There will be some artists on the cd who I suspect you will be surprised
to hear. I picked the GO! Team because even though they have precisely
zero sloganeering appeal, what they do is musically diverse enough to
be of interest (what other indie band gets their fans into Bollywood).
It's their innovativeness that I find so appealing, and this almost
kid like concept of "play" that seeps through into every single
one of their songs
and ok, they aren't punk, but even the most
hardcore of revolutionaries have to switch of occasionally.
I hope that you like the Nirvana track. I decided on it, not for its
introspection and grungyness - but because without them things would
have been so different (hair metal, on repeat, for ever). Perhaps more
importantly (at least from the perspective of this compilation) they
were pro feminist, anti redneck, pro sensitivity in an era where the
guitar was a metaphor for phallic exuberance, and FAR MORE exciting
then the shotgun assisted end would have you believe. Almost every good
/ important band of the past 15 years would site Nirvana as one of their
main influences, and in that sense i.e. encouraging people to create,
their importance to punk is undeniable.
" THE ONLY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SLIPKNOT AND BOB THE BUILDER IS
THAT THE FORMER STEALS MORE POCKET MONEY FOR MERCHANDISE "
The track that I am most looking forward to hearing your reaction to
is 'Rocking in the Free World'. I say that partly because of the Pearl
Jam versus Maximo Park debate (which I don't expect to change your mind
on at all!!) but also because, it's the most socialist lyric I've ever
come across. And Eddy performs the song so well.
Most of the other artists on the cd you will be more familiar with.
I selected Hope of the States, because I think they are the band most
similar to the spirit of the Libertines in terms of the intimacy that
they have with their fans (they will play a gig round your flat, but
wont expect any money for it - and will do it even if their isn't an
nme photographer on hand). What I find particularly appealing about
Hope of the States is their determination to redefine what a guitar
based band can do: The visuals in their live show, the topics they address
and the way they use their instruments. I think of them as flawless.
Im sorry that I chose so many Manics tracks! I just wanted you to see
the other side of them
knowing that I'd picked Motown Junk I had
to choose 'Leviathan' and 'Strip it Down' as well. I wanted to present
an alternative history of the band: Past, present and future. 'Strip
it Down' was one of the first songs the manics ever wrote (they were
just 16 at the time), Motown Junk was the last single they released
before signing to Sony... and 'Leviathan' was a one of song produced
for the recent Warchild album (and according to Nicky Wire is a sign
of What's to come). *which I hope you will find reassuring rather then
sad and a sign of regression!
Ok, well I think I'm going to cut myself short now, the only track left
to talk about is Courtney Love's 'Reasons to be Beautiful'. But I don't
think I can pull of riot grrrl feminism, so I shall just leave you to
make your mind up for yourself on that one. I hope that you enjoy the
cd and that I haven't been too pretentious!
" WHEN YOU LISTEN TO THE SEX PISTOLS, TO 'ANARCHY
IN THE UK' AND 'BODIES' AND TRACKS LIKE THAT," PETE TOWNSHEND OF
THE WHO ONCE SAID, "WHAT STRIKES YOU IS THAT THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING.
THIS IS A BLOKE, WITH A BRAIN ON HIS SHOULDERS WHO IS ACTUALLY SAYING
SOMETHING THAT HE SINCERELY BELIEVES IS HAPPENING TO THE WORLD, SAYING
IT WITH REAL VENOM, AND REAL PASSION. IT TOUCHES YOU, AND IT SCARES
YOU - IT MAKES YOU FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE. IT'S LIKE SOMEBODY SAYING, 'THE
GERMANS ARE COMING! AND THERE'S NO WAY WE'RE GOING TO STOP THEM"
By Sheraz Qureshi
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