Friday, February 27, 2009


Rock journalist Dave Thompson has a new tome out, entitled "I Hate New Music: The Classic Rock Manifesto". Being that the last couple of music books I've read were "Our Band Could Be Your Life", "Lobotomy: Surviving the Ramones", and the AC/DC bio, "Maximum Rock n Roll", were about newer material, I felt I wanted to take a look back at the music I grew up listening to through someone else's eyes. This book provided that in spades.

Thompson insists (along with many others) that in the pop music world nothing is new anymore. Everything is regurgitated something else. Elvis, Bill Haley, and Chuck Berry created rock, the Beatles, Stones, and Kinks era furthered it, and it all died in the late 70's with the onset of the power ballad and synthesizers.

Mind you, I agree with a lot of what he says. Not all of it however. I think the punk explosion of the late 70's and even very early 80's was a very valid turning point in rock history, where he seems to pooh-pooh even that revoloution as warmed over idealism that the Who had brought forth. That's an oversimplification.

However it is hard to disregard a lot of his material. I agree with him largely on the CURRENT state of rock and roll. Most of what I hear these days is musicianship minus the soul. Thompson's opinion is that rock died in 1976, while I feel it stumbled along, ill but thriving, for another 15 years or so, until it's toll was rung by the onset of the ridiculous boy band monstrosities, the droning machine lull of today's Coldplay, Maroon 5, and the Killers, and finally the reheated pop-punk plodding brought around in the wake of Green Day's arrival. I can't tell it all apart.

Thompson is a good writer, though. An English expatriate, he knows the UK rock history as well as ours, and displays that knowledge expertly. He's obviously forgotten more rock n roll than I'll ever know, and it's hard to argue a battle with someone who comes so heavily armed, as he knows his stuff. He's also hilarious, his wit is acerbic, and he does a nice job of mocking himself as much as he does the modern artists who are clogging up todays airwaves.

The book is a fast, entertaining read, and if you're my age, it'll make you remember. My brother graced me with the gift of The Who, Pink Floyd, and Joe Walsh, my sisters brought me to the doorstep of Ted Nugent, Aerosmith, and Journey. Conversely I've introduced those artists to my son. I've realized my kid enjoys classic rock as much as I do, (he digs on Blue Oyster Cult) more so than he does modern rock, (even stuff I considered "modern" when I wasn't much older than he) so I have to think there is validity to what Thompson says. By and large, older music is better.

Isn't it?

Maybe I'm just old.

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