“Let’s get the old gang back together”, sounds like the beginning of a particularly clichéd heist movie yet, worryingly, it has become the sentiment which several beat combos have attached themselves to over recent years.
The Liverpool FC team of the 1980s was one of the most perfect footballing machines in the modern game yet you won’t find them all back on the training ground looking for a stab at the Premiership crown. The founding fathers are unlikely to be resurrected anytime soon to bemoan the bastardising of their beloved constitution by the recent political regimes of the US. So why, do bands like Led Zep, The Police, The Specials and Limp fucking Bizkit feel the need to dust off the Marshalls and head back out on the road? They had their time and in many cases they screwed it up, let it go you old fuckers – you’re ruining the memories for everyone.
Over the past couple of weeks two of my favourite bands have had rumours and confirmations of their reformations littering the press. I have mixed reactions to both. Firstly Faith No More, a band I have loved for as long as I have cared about music. I never got to see them live (except a lucky invitation to watch them record a session for Radio One – their brief cover of ‘Live Forever’ really was quite stunning) and I’ve always been slightly underwhelmed by their various solo projects, so the prospect of a full band live return (and even the possibility of new music) does give me goosebumps of pleasure. However, I know I’m destined to be disappointed. Live they won’t play all the songs I want to hear (Mike Patton has been quite critical of their early output) and on record they’ll never reach the highpoints of ‘Angel Dust’ so why bother? They’ll sully the legacy and leave thousands broken hearted. Secondly, The Stone Roses are rumoured to have buried the hatchet and will head out on the road again for a 21 date tour. These boys, more than anyone, have something to prove. The end of the band was mired in acrimonious splits and painful gigs, the solo work of Ian Brown has overshadowed everything bar the classic debut album and the thought of them getting back on stage has been greeted with snorts of derision. In many ways I’d like to see them get back out there and finish the job they started, to prove the naysayers wrong – but I doubt they can pull it off and it’ll just leave a bitter taste for those of us who believe that, at one point, they were the greatest band in the world.
So why do these crinkly rockers insist on one last hurrah? Money? Yeah…probably. Many of our former heroes have been forced out of retirement to pay off dealers, wives and plastic surgeons. To prove they can still cut it? Just like Hugh Hefner and his bevy of busty beauties, the older gentleman still wants to believe they are as skinny, vibrant and as sexually alluring as the young pretenders. But unless you’re Mick’n’Keef (let’s not forget the longest serving band in history have never split) you can’t get away with the leather trousers and the porn star girlfriend at the age of 50. To continue the legacy? Why not preserve it by not fucking the whole thing up with terrible gigs and below par records (I’m looking at you Motley Crue). Robert Plant had it right when he refused to tour with Led Zep after their brief reformation, but part of me just wished he’d never stepped on stage at all. I didn’t go to the gig – couldn’t bear to see a bunch of geriatrics run through some of the dirtiest, raw rock’n’roll ever written (it just didn’t seem right), similarly with Pixies – I had no desire to see a formally great band just go through the motions (and plus, they hate each other. Why the hell would they want to go back on tour?).
So why are the general public lapping up the prospect of these former greats strutting across the stage again like nothing has changed? Some reformed bands have been enormously successful and critically lauded – The Verve, Dinosaur Jr, My Bloody Valentine (to name just three) have continued in a similar vein to where they left off, the intervening years blinked away like a fleck of sleepy dust from a drowsy eye after a decade long snooze. The answer probably lies in the current state of the music scene where albums have been reduced to the price of a tin of beans and label bozos are constantly after the next three minute wonder. A quick fix to plug the industry dam that leaks money like a teenage cock spurts semen during a dream involving Frankie from The Saturdays and a pair of pink fluffy handcuffs. The general public are beginning to see through these shallow products as the junk food of musical invention that they are. Who wouldn’t want to see a reformed Spandau Ballet knocking out hit after hit on stage rather than the prospect of 60 minutes in the company of Metro Station?
So there’s the crux on the problem – loads of new bands are shite and we are forced to search out relics of another era like Paul Gambaccini guest-hosting Time Team. What’s the solution? Keep searching out and supporting new, innovative bands (not the mass marketed schlock that we get spoon-fed by Radio One, MTV etc – you know the culprits) – buy their records (don’t just rely on Spotify), go to their gigs (there’s a plethora of DIY gigs in every city throughout the country) and above all tell everyone you know how great they are. That way we’ll kill two birds with one stone: no landfill indie and no pension pop – spread the word like a musical gospel.
Still I’d much rather go see a reformed Shed Seven than listen to an album by Joe Lean and The Jing Jang Jong…….
Here’s to kicking out Jimmy Page’s zimmer frame