The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Any other acts YOU liked...

3-5-09 Speaking of Duran Duran, any other acts YOU liked only to see become a worldwide teen fan phenomena to much head scratching?

I was never all that baffled by Duran Duran becoming very famous…I have been told numerous times that Mr. LeBon was very charismatic on stage. It was a bit more puzzling when Spandau Ballet got so popular; I remember that they sent their videos in place of coming to L.A. to play live. Seemed awfully snooty to me…I remember the N.M.E. touting Haircut 100 as “the new Gang Of Four” (or thereabouts) – then I was majorly amazed when it was fluffy pop-rock.

I could never understand the big attraction to The Monkees – after the fact. OK, it was a fun TV show, and I am a big fan of their psychedelic film “Head”. But I was astounded when Rhino Records re-issued all of their LP’s, even the ‘no hit’ ones! At present, my entire Monkees collection consists of a recent CD “Best Of”, and LP’s and a CD issue of the soundtrack of “Head”. But 2CD sets of everything?

I was a huge Yes fan when “I’ve Seen All Good People” was being flogged on the FM radio; I was chomping at the bit for “Fragile” to come out…but…seems like they were, in fact, being pitched at the U.S. – I got so snobbish that I wasn’t interested in groups whose records actually got released and distributed in the U.S.! A similar tale applies to Jethro Tull – underground for the first 3 albums, ‘over-exposed’ for everything from “Aqualung” forward. But ‘teen fan phenomena’? Not really.

As odd as it sounds to say, I remember being in New Zealand and hearing Sade a full turn of the wheel before “Diamond Life” got a U.S. release. It was great to finally get to see them on TV, when they came and played The Johnny Carson Show and Saturday Night Live. But I certainly never guessed that they would be as popular as they got – even managing a “Re-mastered” set of CD’s from Sony!

After a while, my ‘radar’ prevented me from ‘falling’ for acts destined for wide-spread popularity. It became possible to just sort of ‘second guess’ what that would be. I stayed away from the Talking Heads for this reason. The music didn’t tweak me at all, but people kept talking about it! I avoided them, they went away. I was OK with the solo album by David Byrne “Rei Momo”, but…that’s about it…

There are many different ways this phenomena can strike. Some things become popular in a cult way that is even more annoying than becoming mainstream (i.e. The Birthday Party, Nick Cave etc.)

I’ve also avoided bands / artists because I had met / dealt with particularly annoying fans, but – that would seem to be a slightly different topic (i.e. Madonna, Bruce Springsteen et al).


Anonymous Jim Donato said...

Re: Spandau
Yeah, well they're an awfully snooty band, aren't they? Their extreme aspiration to being "toffs" is part of their (anti-) charm for me. Plus, I bet they sucked live back in those days!

Re: Haircut 100
I remember them getting lumped in with the UK trend toward "funk" (see Spandau Ballet's 2nd album!) and when I finally heard them I wasn't convinced, to say the least!

Re: Sade
I remember reading about her for almost 2 years in the music rags my friend Jayne would get. We always wondered who this "Sade" was when we met a student from the UK at college who told us a little about her. I was in the middle of my mid-80s Post-PostPunk UK Brit PAZZ phase and should have lapped her up, but something about her delivery put me off, once I finally heard her. With the exception of "The Sweetest Taboo," which I still regret not buying the US CD3 of!

Re: radar
U2 are my big "anti-radar" act. I never heard their rapturously regarded debut album, or anything off of it. When their 2nd album came out I saw the video for "Gloria" and though it was okay, then I read one too many interviews where they pushed their christianity and that was it for those guys! When they broke huge it just confirmed my opinions about society. I despise Bono. I'm very happy I don't really think much of U2's music. But if I did, it might be still be in my collection, like...

Re: Transvision Vamp
I heard this band via a freebie 7" with a UK music mag. I thought the track was good, particularly for a throwaway freebie cut. I bought TVV CDs and loved them! I started collecting the band. Then I read interviews with their obnoxious singer Wendy James, who is just a pathetic creature. But I collected them to the end and even have all of Wendy James' major label solo output. And I still hate her.

Re: Widespread popularity
It doesn't bother me. I LIKE when acts I like get successful as long as they don't compromise to do it (right, Simple Minds, OMD, et. al?) It pleased me to no end to see Chris Isaak get popular after three albums when a freak soundtrack tune broke like wildfire. You couldn't swing a dead cat without seeing Isaak & his drummer on TV during 1991, yukking it up and playing acoustic tunes. Fact: Chris Isaak is a very witty guy. It's a hymn to his true nature that he is a very videogenic presence and a great guest for talking heads to bounce off of.

Re: Annoying Fans
Yes, Bruce Springsteen & Madonna fans are sad! But fer the luvva Mike, don't forget Morrissey Fans! Bowie fans! Cure fans! Actually, I hate all rabid, uncritical fans of any groups, even those I have vast collections of! One of my favorite things is to grouse about bands I like when they do bad work (Duran, Simple Minds) to me that's part of the whole fandom package. There are virtually no artists whom I can't find some fault with. To me, it makes the legitimate praise I can lavish on what I think is their best work, all the sweeter.

8:19 AM  

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