This blog contains material I wrote and posted on between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The evolution of my musical tastes

From 2008

I belong to an odd generation.
You’ve got to understand something. Back when I was a kid, there was not much music I could appreciate to be had. Hell, I can remember the old vinyl LPs. That’s what it was like back in the seventies. And that music was stuff I wouldn’t touch with a bargepole, then or now – wailing “devotional” music and so on, mostly Bengali or rarely Hindi, which was even worse, because I couldn’t then speak the language. The only one from those days I remember as worth the recollecting was Lal Kamal-Neel Kamal, a fairy tale about two princes, one human and one half-demon, who take it on themselves to rid a kingdom of man-eating demons. I can still recite most of it verbatim, for what it’s worth.
Anyway, those were also the days when there simply wasn’t much money around in my family (for reasons some of you already know and the rest of you will know when I decide I can put up a blog about it), and the middle class Bengali household, in any case, was loath to spend a penny more than absolutely necessary. One of the standard excuses my family used for not buying a tape recorder was ”Nobody sings in this family, so why should we buy one?” I finally got a player of my own when I was eighteen. I still have it, though cassettes are obsolete and I haven’t turned it on for years.
Oh, and then it happened, I got turned onto that artificial construct of lip-synch and pretension, only I didn’t know it then, BoneyM. Hell, I thought they were – to use a word I hate – awesome. But that was then.
You must understand, those of you who aren’t Indian. In those days, the early to mid eighties, one had to wait a whole month for fifteen minutes of what was referred to as “western music” – which was usually played around midnight, unannounced, and figured such staggeringly famous luminaries of the music scene as Dschingis Khan or Sabrina. You’ve never heard of them? Well, you could google.
So when I finally acquired some money of my own and could buy my own music I was fairly indiscriminate in my choices. I’d never heard any of this before, you see, and I hadn’t really heard of many of them before, either. It was buy, hear, and then pick and choose your favourites. Some of the stuff was fairly good, although I no longer listen to it, like Lobo, for instance, or Pet Shop Boys, or the acme of camp, Queen. Some of it was pure gold. I bought Meat Loaf, for instance, without ever having heard of him before, and he’s still one of my favourites (but then I still listen to the Beatles sometimes, I must confess).
Well, fairly obviously, I had to buy what was on offer, and what was on offer at the time was what most people would buy. So most of what I ended up buying was slow rock (some of which was good) and pop (most of which I learned to despise early on). I could only find hard rock and rap in the late eighties and early nineties, and I got tuned on to Meat Loaf, Scorpions, and the Strolling Bones, sorry, the Rolling Stones, and so on. I never really liked reggae – to this day, the only reggae that gives me any pleasure, apart from Bob Marley, is Inner Circle’s Whatever Happened To My Garden Of Black Roses. Country – one exposure to Kenny Rogers and Lucille turned me off country for life. Rap of the time – I can take it or leave it. Mostly I leave it. And as for hip-hop, I’ve told you all what I think of it here.
So, for years, my musical tastes basically revolved round (mostly) hard rock. I thought it was getting, like, set in stone. But in these last months I find myself getting sick and tired of the boy-chases-girl repeat motif. In fact I’m getting so sick of it that it turns me off right away ( I don’t know about gangsta rap. Maybe they talk about other things, but I can’t understand a word anyway).
And concomitantly I’m getting turned on to thrash metal, including rediscovering bands like Motörhead and Metal Church which I’d heard sing before but not taken to. Yeah, metal groups have been accurately described as "skinny men with big hair and tight pants", and I'd laughed my ass off when I read that back in 1991 - but they seem to be the only genre any more that talks, as a whole, about social issues and war and so on. Well, I’m taking to them now.
Better late than never, I suppose.       

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