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Got To Go 5: When Career Arcs Hit The Porcelain
It's a truism because its too true that these days everything is accelerated.Andy Warhol's 15 Minutes of Fame has become 15 seconds or blinks of an eye.Back not long ago, bands and scenes would appear, get pumped up with media hype and money like a blow up doll and flit about fun and famous until the artistic and commercial energies dissipated. Changing fashions, shifting lineups, fallouts, comeback and collaborations all conspire to kill the vibe. Those that don't hang up their axe and get a real job float around panel shows, the nostalgia circuit and less loved and demanding venues overseas deprived of even faded star power until the reaper arrives.Once it gets going, this tends to be a one way trip like the one to the freezer drawer. Musical careers at the top are a bit like gliders - momentum and best use of fair, natural wins keep it flying. Move out of the right currents and lose altitude, there is not much time to compensate and our pilot will be kissing dirt soon.Unless he finds a time machine and heads East. Just as the massive Post War American military presence in and around Europe, and the large but less remarked European military presence in the USA via NATO led to all kinds of cultural cross pollinations the NATO presence in Asia and Vietnam left a big echo. Past it Soul, Funk and Jazz people who didn't want to learn to be plumbers were taken in by hotels and bars wanting a novel Westerner, usually Black, that could belt out the hits almost, sometime.A very dear friend of mine spent a lot of his professional life in Shanghai. He's not someone who swims in the mainstream - wherever he is he needs to find a vital, living and visceral underground scene that speaks to him as a man.We'll turn to her properly another time, but in miniature here it is. Sugar Mama was one of the original Ike and Tina retinue. Background vocalist and more of course. With Church tuned pipes and more basic talent than twice the current Top 40. When technology meant that there was less need for musicians live, even in the studio due to tape tech, and MTV meant if you we're fuckable without a drink you were death, Sugar followed the Sun. Until shit cancer appeared without mercy, she amazed audiences with not exactly sober abstractions of the standards. She was not alone but was one of the best. We'll visit her again.But she too was part of this arc towards burn out or else fade away.Very few can avoid it.It takes a fair measure of humility and discipline. Nick Cave is one of the only to escape the black hole gravity. Sure, some of his newer achievements are somewhat less compelling, but a refusal to let his music end up scoring adverts, no chasing of audiences not his own and a Zen like daily solo routine of songwriting and rehearsing without rocksta pretentions - keeping it close to the first echoing London bedsits if not in comfort then in intention.Even fewer that the majors pick up these days could spell, much less understand anything of the above. Take 'Jessie J'. Another stage school foghorn West End reject who had a fucktonne of lucre and media love shoved under them until the pop culture needle seemed to move. But there is an long forgotten acronym in the computing world that explains the futility - GIGO. Garbage In, Garbage Out. No inherent talent, or even just looks. No market demand being fulfilled. A handful of mega promoted 'hit' singles, a Glasto appearance (boy that Eavis is a cool one) and then a softcore taxpayer funded rip off of X Factor. Then rumours of lady loving tendencies, then denied. And then an appearance with the Y listers at some Government sponsored "Girl Summit" where genital mutilators are to be tickled and shamed into being nice, and Taliban shown that bagging up females and enforcing illiteracy at gunpoint makes us a bit cross. Next one assumes headline gigs in Moldova before landing a column in some supermarket giveaway magazine and 'Celebrity' Big Brother. And then hopefully, silence.This emaciated show tune droid couldn't carry a cereal advert for thirty seconds, or turn a trick in a Shanghai hotel. Much less hold a crowd spellbound.Too small, stupid, and tangential even for the big nostalgia circuit. One that even has cruise ships now. And we'll sniff that out next.
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