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Black Sky Thinking

Black Sky Thinking: The Credit Crunch Is Good For Rock n'Roll
John Robb , May 23rd, 2008 13:27

The Tories are gloating over the Crewe by-election, the economy is sinking down Alistair Darling's plughole and we can't afford to eat. But, says Brother John Robb, this might just rescue us from insipid indie

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A wise man once said that good taste is the enemy of the revolution and, you know, he was right.

For now we live in a Coldplay-soundtracked world where being rich is cool and rubbish music is tolerated. But we're heading for a fall. For good taste is expensive and, like the last days of Rome soundtracked by the warm glow of nice music, it's all going to come crashing down.

The cold talons of recession are tightening their grip on the economy's shoulder and, in the wake of the Crewe election, the insufferably smug Tory party are readying themselves for a landslide victory come 2010. If that doesn't make you want to go out and make some great spiky music of any description then nothing will. Ever.

It's time to wake up and make some noise, sisters!

In times of war and pestilence and plain political misery great music gets made. Mostly. This theory is, of course, full of holes, but so is the economy. Recessions are a bit of a drag - or are they?

You will be broke, out of work and festering under the limp public school rule of David 'I love the Smiths' Cameron and his double-chinned fox hunting droogs. Meanwhile, the recession will headbutt you in the face - you will lose your home and not be able to afford a new one, you will be watching all the UK city centres turn back into mini Beiruts with boarded up windows and scowling pedestrians. And all the time the rich and powerful will be laughing at you just like they did when the Thatcher Reich was strutting through the corridors of power. And you will nod sagely and agree that it's truly horrible.

But at least, in theory, the music may get better.

After all, Karl Marx researched Das Kapital in Manchester in the middle of the grim industrial revolution because he knew it was going to the city where Joy Division would come from. Punk appeared in the dying days of a corpulent Labour government and a rubbish-strewn recession, and gave up when the Tories got back in. Rock & roll appeared in the fifties when the UK was a thousand shades of grey and was craving some SEX!

As the city centres got spruced up over the past 20 years so did the music, gigs were no longer sweaty joyous affairs but dull events in enormodomes with 100 quid tickets bought by loadsamoney buffoons. Indie went from being an underground guerilla movement fighting scummy mainstream music world to a handy marketing tool for tarted up trolls with dimwit stylists like The Feeling. That's what the good times do for you: they give you a warm glow of satisfaction, make you get a bit soft round the middle, and turn your music rubbish.

The boom times are like heroin, an opiate that destroys your taste buds - where one moment you were feeling all vibrant and young the next you are prizing the Coldplay album out of its CD case and putting it into your far too expensive CD player as you admire the stereo quality of the sensuround sound. Your friends sip poncey wine and pretend they know the difference in taste from the cheap gutter tokie you used to slug in the park. Yeah, it's nice to be rich but if that's what it turns us into then it doesn't look so smart. The dinner party music scene of cozy ex-radical chattering classes patting their backs while sitting listening to Coldplay could soon be over.

The credit crunch has come to save rock & roll. The flaccid, boring, sensible, expensive designer cardigan of bloated, pompous, indie rock may soon look like an outdated model, the harsh new sting of being broke and being left to rot by the sniveling, snickering Tories may bite everyone on the arse. The people will demand their music to be sharper and tighter, they will demand new drugs to get them though the lean years and music will get exciting again.