lunedì 11 gennaio 2010

The alternative Tate gallery

For years, just four years to be unforgettable... this was the story of The Smiths, "the only band that really matters" (The Clash will understand...) I said for years to all my friends. From those old Tate recordings (Dear John?) to the Strangeways misuranderstandings, it was all too brief. Almost any British band that picked up a guitar in the '80s and banished synthesizers from its sound was influenced by the Smiths, a quartet that favored street clothes to haute couture and played ringing, hook-rich songs sung by the always eccentric and outspoken vocalist. And God, what kind of songs, easy but complex, sorta many-hued instrumental tracks topped by Morrissey's wordy, sexually disorented poetry for struggling adolescents. I'm "still ill" nowadays and me only but I continue to see the band's influence as "enormous", in every other band I listen to. The '90s Britpop movement grew from the Smiths, and bands that upend traditional notions about gender and sexuality -- Suede, Antony and the Johnsons, Bloc Party, Of Montreal, the Magnetic Fields -- come from the same place. Then came the Moz adventures, but it was just a pantomime of the past, while my "guitarhero" Johnny wandered around for years ( and he's still wandering somewhere) with no apparent direction home. I can't really say how much I miss them, they were a part of my life and those were the days, if not the best, probably the most important... I was a young student at the time and it was around 1983... it's difficult to imagine intense young students making it through university without these songs. Hopefully they'll never have to...

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