Powers founded on the supergroups of the now are pale comparisons to what the late 1980s had in store for audiences. McBusted are a strong contender, surely, but not close to the might and influence Traveling Wilburys had in their two short years together. Artists who have crafted some of the all-time greats, not just once, but consistently so. Traveling Wilburys that is, not McBusted. Generations of influence, and decades of musical experience, all siphoned off into a ten-track album that spawned from a light joke of a single turning into something far, far more powerful than could ever have been expected. Handle With Care indeed. It didn’t get much better for this supergroup than Traveling Wilburys, Vol 1.
Bob Dylan fans were left disappointed after a promised “remake” of the classic track Subterranean Homesick Blues.
The iconic original shows Dylan holding placards in a London alleyway, timing the drop of the card with the lyrics throughout.
Commenters eagerly awaited the launch of the remake, which premiered on YouTube today on the official Bob Dylan YouTube account.
But fans who were hoping for the Mr. Tambourine Man singer to look back on his own work were sorely disappointed by an updated video that removed the classic placard protest.
Impossible it is to forget the monumental final effort David Bowie created with Blackstar, it is the frankness and tragedy of dying first that cements him at a pillar higher than Cohen when comparing their final works. They passed in the same year. They both offered greatly differing, vibrant bodies of work that will hold their own in the years to come. But You Want It Darker is better. It is an album defined by its title track, remembered for those ghostly, tender and operatic voices that open Cohen’s swansong, and rightly so. Move beyond You Want it Darker though. Cohen does offer a welcome reflection on his career and life, as did Bowie with Blackstar, but the former offers much more than that with the tracks that followed.
Shameful it is to mark the first encounter with Fleetwood Mac as a soundtrack riff on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, that is how it was for many. It is a perplexing and embarrassing way to mark the first experience with a track from Rumours, but it is how millions must have made the plunge into their music. It would be embarrassing for, say, a freelance journalist and music critic to make that their first experience with Fleetwood Mac, but we do not choose where we hear great songs or how we listen to them. Sometimes it is with 3D glasses hanging off of big noses in the back of a crumbling theatre, waiting for the funny gag about the raccoon and his friendly tree companion. Purchase a copy of Rumours, listen to the record scratches settle in, and soon it’ll wash away that first experience.
With solo artists formerly members of bands or groups, especially those that had left their cultural footprint on a generation, the issue of living up to the experience of past works will always linger. Paul Weller had it and came into his own. Roger Daltry experienced it time and time again. Jarvis Cocker is still chasing that high, so much so that he retreated back to group work with the seemingly ego-fuelled project Jarv Is. His name under one group, or roof, as House Music All Night Long would clamour for. Despite that, Cocker’s debut attempt at music with the simply titled The Jarvis Cocker Record shows off his indie range without dabbling in the culture wars, the drink and drugs of a past period or anything out of the ordinary.
Touching the work of Father John Misty is, it will never capitalise on the baroque pop and avant-garde genre blend he has listed himself under. God’s Favourite Customer was an exceptional realisation of artsy music videos with strong, albeit wavering messages accompanied by strong vocals and stronger instrumentals to power it. Misty’s latest album, Chloë and the Next 20th Century marks not a new turn in form but a continuation of ideas that worked the first time around. An expansion of fitting, delicate ideas and genuine, heartfelt attempts at corroborating the old-timey aesthetics with new tracks. That pairing far exceeds the understated genre blend Misty has detailed for himself, and that much is proven in brief glimmers throughout this latest release.
A post-punk scene revival says more about where culture is at the moment than it does about the artists trying their hand at it. Punk classics were the call to arms. The Clash, Sex Pistols and Ramones were not just innovating, they were capturing the attention of young rebels unhappy with what the generation before them had done. That is a feeling lingering through the music of this year, and Wet Leg’s eponymous debut album slots comfortably into place. Side by side with Yard Act’s The Overload and Black Country, New Roads’ Ants from Up There, Wet Leg try their hand at a third piece for the fast-growing, broad ranges of post-post punk. If that were a real genre, it’d be excruciating. Post-punk is Wet Leg’s aim, and indie rock is their rubber-stamped sale.
Progress can come from influence, but it cannot come from swindling or exploiting a demographic always clamouring for the same few chords. Amplified to near-perfection by Led Zeppelin, commercialised by the shaky efforts of KISS and finally bludgeoned to a pulp by Greta Van Fleet. Let the cycle continue, it’s a jungle out there, as Randy Newman once said. The dead-horse beaters proclaim their debut album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army as a droning bit of snobbery that conducts itself about as well as one would expect of a band dressed up as the next group to pipe cash out of rock and funnel in generic witticisms that’ll make listeners clamour for better music that is, thankfully, readily available.
It was Lester Bangs that said the ultimate sin is for an artist to have contempt for the audience. But Black Country, News Road’s tracks and the meaning behind them, their image and style, are birthed through that wry and knowing scorn. It is not real. A smokescreen for an activity like no other. They have taken the word of Bangs and twisted it to their own satisfaction. For the First Time acknowledges that somewhat, as did their Never Again EP. This contentment with confusing or enticing an audience with new waves of music that were never explored because everyone else thought it was a dead end. Ants From Up There is that next dead end, with the band trying their best to detail new ideas and strange inventions, all with a fake status of belittling their audience.
Inevitably overshadowed by the death knell of Blackstar, David Bowie’s discography that preceded his final piece and followed Let’s Dance is a misty place. They aren’t all that talked of, never the favourite on any list. That is understandable, nobody is clamouring all too much for another Heathen, but the long lapses in new material and the breaks between do showcase new eras of Bowie’s work. The Next Day offers up his steadiest and most interesting record since Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), and far exceeds the farewell tone of his Blackstar release. That is more through the quality, variety and feeling around his return than anything else, although the spirited, soulful tracks help too.