The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Black Sky Thinking

Black Sky Thinking: All Rock & Roll Is Tory
John Robb , May 1st, 2008 11:56

Add your comment »

Alt Text

When David Cameron attempted to gain kudos by name-dropping The Smiths and other indie types in his golly-gosh-look-at-me Desert Island Discs selection you could hear the shocked gasps. There were dark mutterings. The lanky Eton toff and Tory boss was into rock, how weird!

But Cameron's selection merely underlined that the days when rock n’roll pretended to be rebellious are long gone.

And maybe that's for the best.

Once rock & roll talked about changing the world " but then decided to save up and buy it. All rock & roll is Tory. It's the natural state of affairs.

It's now just another three-chord corporation trading on being hip. In reality it's about as radical as the cigarette industry- selling rebel glamour to the people, albeit without the cancer.

It's a bit embarrassing now to remember how we fell for the counter culture spell in our lost youth. The sixties sold a dream and we bought it. A neat marketing ploy somehow confused long hair with changing the world. Rock & rollers were never revolutionaries - all it ever was a petulant hissy fit of rich youth pissed off because they had to get their hair cut.

In the sixties and seventies the working class heroes got rich and voted Tory because they didn't want to cough up any tax. As soon as the millions rolled in they all fucked off to their country piles and went fox hunting with local gentry. The ultimate rock star dream was to become a toff.

Alt Text

Of course, the records got worse, all those dinner parties poison the blues and they all got fat and ugly and sent their kids to private school. Each generation sniffed at such revolting crassness and then fell for it themselves. For every genuine punk rock revolutionary there were ten others saying that Margaret Thatcher was what the country needed.

The punk generation sneering at PC and those liberals may have been fun at first but it quickly became a way of life as middle age started to creep its insidious way in. How quickly the angry young men start to sound like crusty colonels writing tirades to the Daily Telegraph.

Music died the day it got tidied up and put into white clothes for the vile Live Aid. Of course its nice to feed the starving but when it's millionaires asking for your money then driving back to their five star hotels in four wheel drives then it's all wrong wrong wrong.

Where once voting Tory would have to have been hushed up by over-zealous PRs, no one cares any more. Talking the right wing talk is part and parcel of the rock & roll experience - the real rock & rollers are now the landed gentry, they hunt, shoot, fish and then reform for tax purposes. They own cheese farms and write deli columns for Sunday papers, they trade on their youth and pat their well-fed stomachs, but they know the truth.

And the truth is that all rock & roll is Conservative.

They know that from day one it was all about making money, ripping off the teenagers before shagging them backstage. It was about selling a lie, being greedy, manipulative, mean and stupid. It was about capitalism at its most extreme, and shameless. It obeyed all the rules of consumerism by inventing fads and fashions and selling them to the folk at the bottom of the hill. It was there purely to sell alcohol and cigs and crappy CDs to bamboozled youth who thought they were rebelling against their parents just because they had a record with the word "fuck" in it.

It was rubbish bands like KISS epitomising the American dream by celebrating the gross and the crass and boasting about money and fame and pointless sex like the last days of Rome couldn't come soon enough.

Rock & roll is the grand lie, the vile smokescreen, the high volume panzer division of capitalism. Rock & roll likes to puff out its little chest and claim to be a revolutionary art form but its the natural soundtrack to the Tories and pissed up royals dressed as Nazi officers at posh West End parties. It's become loud music made by Daily Mail readers for Tory politicians.

When Cameron smarms his way into Number Ten his favourite indie tunes will boom down the hallway.

Rock & roll, like football and everything else we once loved, will have been completely stolen by the Tories.

The question is: what the fuck are we going to do about it!

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.

David H
May 1, 2008 6:05pm

Did anyone hear Vivianne Westwood last week on Simon Mayo's show. She was talking about how anarchy was bollocks and punk was a stunted pointless movement, the Hippies had a point. Punk just wanted nothing but to smash but not actually do anything. She came across as almost ashamed it was an eye opener. She also was out and out anti-labour and said we must vote for whoever will get this war mongering administration out of power. Hence Cameron. The mother of punk voting tory, Cats and Dogs living together.

'Tell him about the Twinkie'

Reply to this Admin

Charlie Kane
May 1, 2008 6:52pm

Well, I can't argue with too much of that. I've no answer to your finishing question--just know that, here in the states, the 'youth response' seems to be prog rock and folk music. Mass suicide is a much more palatable solution than those options, I think.

Reply to this Admin

May 1, 2008 9:45pm

Excellent post. And it's not just rock 'n roll, but whatever we call soul music now and hip hop which are so corporatised and unthreatening, they might as well turn into Kenny G wholesale.

As far as I can see, the folk/alt.rock/Americana thing in the US is the most subversive movement in music today. I don't see the guardians of morality recoiling in horror just yet.

Reply to this Admin

May 1, 2008 9:47pm

Oops, I meant, not alt.rock (which is corporatised as well).

Reply to this Admin

May 1, 2008 11:36pm

Hey, what about grime? Grime is what scares the shit out of the government. That's why they can't hardly promote grime gigs without the police asking them questions and putting a lot of pressure on them. So, there's still space for subversion in popular music, you just have to look in the right direction :-)

Reply to this Admin

Tim Burrows
May 2, 2008 4:53pm

True, but hasn't this been said for quite a few years now. Hardly revelatory.
I find it quite problematic when 'rock' (whatever that means) is placed on either side of a left/right dichotomy. John Harris wrote a similar thing in the Guardian the other week, balking at the fact that David Cameron liked the Smiths, claiming that it was an act of theft from the left... How can a group as complex as the Smiths be allied to either? And why is it better for Hazel Blears to dig Moz and co than Ed Vaizey??
Rocknroll has been allied to capitalism from the start. Anyone who really thought buying the White Album was going to stick it to the man was deluded in a way... the Stones, Led Zep, Beatles etc; all quite happy to toe the consumer line from the . The working class hero shtick was hollow as soon as it came out of John Lennon's mouth. The legacy of all of these myths are the Gallagher bros, with a joint worth of £45 million. The boys dun good didn't they...

I think that the greatest bands are the ones that admit the sham, and carry on trying to further their art to try and make existing within the machine bearable for us, as well as them; PiL, Talking Heads, Devo, Bowie... anyone really who gets on with creating art that isn't some kinda boring messianic diatribe against the evil people..

see this vid of Jon Lydon and Keith Levene on Tom Snyder show in US, 1980

"we ain't no band we're a company"

At least they admitted it....

Reply to this Admin

Ned R.
May 2, 2008 5:25pm

The question is: what the fuck are we going to do about it!

Solipsistic negotiation with other solipsists in an attempt to reclaim something that wasn't anyone's to start with might be the answer. (I don't know if I wish I was kidding or not. But whatever the answer is, it seems like it would be to redirect the desire to destabilize the 'culture' towards reducing its place as a priority for identification. Maybe.)

Reply to this Admin

cockney wag
May 3, 2008 12:21am

what we gonna do now the Tories are on their way back in power!

Coco the clown is now running London.

London is the laughing stock of the world

Reply to this Admin

May 3, 2008 11:15am

Don't despair, cockney clown. Look who might become South Africa's next president (look at that blood AIDS-denying, Mugabe-fellating prick in charge now), and you'll find find that London has no prior claim towards the laughing stock world title.

Alas, poor England, even in embarrassment they can't produce a world champion.

As for David Cameron liking the Smiths, I'm sure that Morrissey will be offended to count among his fans somebody whose policy on immigration differs so vastly from his own.

Reply to this Admin

David H
May 3, 2008 1:25pm

'Coco the clown is now running London.

London is the laughing stock of the world'

I think you protest too much, The reason old floppy chops got voted in was that the british government bomb and murder abroad and tax it's own poor, sells off it's assets, and denies any sort of wrong doing saying - well you are generally a bit better off aren't you. What are you complaining about?

So a hefty bit of protest voting happening. Plus that Paddock and Livingston came across as somewhat spiteful (paddock) or immoral (livingston).

So there is a bumbling character that hasn't been big headed or spiteful in his campaign. He won for right or wrong. We didn't have the majoral office until recently so I am sure he will do alright.

Now as far as being the laughing stock of the world: We didn't vote in an austrian body builder that was made famous for being a robot.

Reply to this Admin

B'dum B'dum
May 3, 2008 8:52pm haha pathetic.

I definitely remember hearing years ago that Gordon Brown is a fan of Big Star, seriously, not just the standard "PM seeks to be cool with everyone" list.

Reply to this Admin

cockney wag
May 5, 2008 9:20am

ugh desperate....each record looks like it was picked for a different group of voters to agree with...

and he's gonna be the next prime minister as well...

Reply to this Admin

May 5, 2008 9:26pm

Whatever the answer is, we'll all still be buying the stuff. God, to think the Manic's were shouting the same message as Robb 15 years ago now. How things haven't changed.

Listen on your own terms, it's always been all bollocks any other way.

Reply to this Admin

Ak Donovan
May 7, 2008 1:43pm

David H, that was the most correct thing I have yet read about the amoral election.

John R, on point as ever.

Reply to this Admin

Ak Donovan
May 7, 2008 1:44pm

David H, that was the most correct thing I have yet read about the mayoral election.

John R, on point as ever.

Reply to this Admin

Jan 9, 2013 3:01am

so music must change society for the better ?ha ha.when has that worked?music changes haircuts ,clothes,attitudes and other music ..but is it meant to overthrow govt.?thats too much.did Picasso ,William Burroughs prevent Nixon or Reagan? whats yer point?have Radiohead got electric cars in?nah.the establishment is too entrenched.wanna get rid of cameron ?RIOT .build a big fuck off BOMB and do what guy fawkes tried..but it aint rock n rolls fault

Reply to this Admin