Rock is apparently dead according to a recent declaration by the so-called “professor of pop”, Paul Gambaccini, because it no longer features in the mainstream, watered-down Top 40 music chart. According to a recent article in the Guardian: “The problem lay, in part, with short-sighted record labels investing less in the talent of the future and more in instantly profitable acts such as former X Factor stars.” Fair point, Gamby-boy, but what about album sales? Nobody talks about the next Muse, or Radiohead single, but everybody buys their albums.
Iron Maiden’s ‘The Final Frontier’ album reached #1 in over 30 countries last year. Metallica and AC/DC currently have the highest grossing album sales and Bon Jovi is the highest grossing live act of 2010. Good music is not about quick-buck singles, it is about well crafted albums and stellar live performances. Anyway, what connoisseur of music would deem the Top 40 charts to be an accurate representation of people’s musical tastes? Let me put it another way: Mr Blobby has had a UK #1 single, Bob Dylan hasn’t. ‘Nuff said.
It may be that rock no longer has a place in the mainstream, but it is not a reason to declare it ‘dead’. If anything that eludes the zeitgeist is considered dead then Jazz is dead, classical music is dead; ambient, punk, indie, folk and country are also dead – I died in 1996! During my teens I made a point of sidestepping chart music that everyone was listening to (even if it meant not listening to the Stereophonics); I was a John Peel listener, and he only played what wasn’t getting played. Rock albums have always been what chart music isn’t: They are arcane, bold, energetic and political; they dare to be different. Most importantly, they are inaccessible to those who don’t possess the desire to unlock them.
Here are a dozen guitar-driven tracks taken from albums released in 2010. Dead, my fracking arse!
Manic Street Preachers – A Billion Balconies Facing The Sun
The Dead Weather – The Difference Between Us
The Black Keys – Black Mud
Blood Red Shoes – Don’t Ask
The Futureheads – Heartbeat Song
Those Dancing Days – Fuckarias
Grinderman – Worm Tamer
The Joy Formidable – I Don’t Want To See You Like This
The Greenhornes – It’s Not Real
Skunk Anansie – My Ugly Boy
The Indelicates – Your Money
Hole – Skinny Little Bitch