Friday, March 18, 2005

It's the singer, not the song

The lovely and talented Tbogg talks about something I have also talked about with many of my colleagues in the music industry, to wit, that what is old is new.

He says:

Witness the growing popularity of bands like Franz Ferdinand, Dogs Die In Hot Cars, The Futureheads, Fountains of Wayne, The Shins, the vastly overrated Killers, the brilliant but quirky Modest Mouse (who recently sold out two shows in San Diego so fast even I couldn't get tickets to see them...and I have connections), and Kasabian. Half of the fun with these bands is playing name the influence, although it's a real wake-up call to mention to a younger co-worker that the first cut on Dogs Die In Hot Cars' Please Describe Yourself sounds like Oingo Boing-meets-XTC and have her ask, "Who are they?"

It's at times like this that I console myself by remembering that, way back in the day, some people thought the Clash's I Fought the Law was an original.

Indeed. I have worked on many records where others of us involved who are, you know, over 30, make similar comments. Jet recorded their album with producer Dave Sardy at the studio where I last was Chief Engineer, and they were incredibly funny, gracious, passionate and talented guys, and we (the more senior members of the crew) talked about their influences, eventually deciding that they came from The Rolling Stones via The Black Crowes, with the common root of Stax/Motown filtered through T-Rex. ( If that makes any sense...)

And my good friend Joe Barresi mixed the '03 release by Sweden's Backyard Babies, who, along with The Darkness, owe much of their strut to some of the "Big Theme" arena bands of the '70s & '80s, but instead of just repeating the missteps of the past (Journey, Foreigner) rather bring a whole new fun to power chords, minor keys, and dramatic front men.

The good news is that good musical ideas get filtered, tweaked, forgotten, renewed, and reframed, and viola, once again, they're still good.

And the bad ideas, well, I haven't heard much from The Archies lately, and that's OK.