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Author Topic: Who was more important?  (Read 20035 times)

electrical

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Who was more important?
« on: December 20, 2005, 05:57:25 pm »

This came up as part of the discussion of a lecture I gave. I'd like to see what the panel thinks regarding this question:

Which has proven to be more important to music and culture generally, mainstream music of the 1980s or underground music of the 1980s. I'll use Wang Chung and the Minutemen as exemplars of their respective idioms.

Wang Chung: Huge hit records on major label. Big hits on radio. Featured in many movie soundtracks and TV commercials. Played concerts to tens-of-thousands.

Minutemen: Independent records sold in the couple-of-thousands. Only played on college radio. Toured "econo" in a van, playing to hundreds of people in clubs.

Show your work.
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steve albini
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NelsonL

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Re: Who was more important?
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2005, 06:14:11 pm »

I've got the facts, and I'm voting corndog.
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TotalSonic

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Re: Who was more important?
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2005, 06:18:20 pm »

electrical wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 22:57

This came up as part of the discussion of a lecture I gave. I'd like to see what the panel thinks regarding this question:

Which has proven to be more important to music and culture generally, mainstream music of the 1980s or underground music of the 1980s. I'll use Wang Chung and the Minutemen as exemplars of their respective idioms.

Show your work.


I of course voted for Minutemen.  But, with all due respect, yer poll is way way loaded and fairly pointless.  I simply don't know of anyone who would ever consider a one hit wonder hopeless mediocrity like Wang Chung to be "exemplar of their respective idiom"

Why not change the poll to have it be Minutemen vs. Steely Dan?   I'm not of a fan of "the Dan"s ultraslick productions by any means - but I know tons of engineers who consider their recordings from the late 70's/80's to be a reference they measure their own works against.  That would be a lot fairer fight for purposes of your poll.

It would show whether people feel that technically well recorded songs played with metronomic precision were more important than banged out things that had a heckuva lot of vibe and feeling.

I mean - if we want just a bunch of apples vs. oranges polls we could say
Public Enemy vs. The Stooges
John Coltrane vs. Terry Riley
Arcade Fire vs. Motorhead
Godzilla vs. Iron Man
John Oate's mustache vs. Gabe Kaplan's
or whatever pointless thing poeple want to get into...

Best regards,
Steve Berson

electrical

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Re: Who was more important?
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2005, 06:23:14 pm »

TotalSonic wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 18:18


Public Enemy vs. The Stooges
Stooges

Quote:

John Coltrane vs. Terry Riley
Terry Riley

Quote:

Arcade Fire vs. Motorhead
Motorhead

Quote:

Godzilla vs. Iron Man
Godzilla

Quote:

John Oate's mustache vs. Gabe Kaplan's
Gabe's

Any other questions?
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pg666

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Re: Who was more important?
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2005, 06:26:08 pm »

i think the wang chungs of the 80s were very influential on our current cultural climate..

....of course, that's strictly for kitsch value as the mainstream music of the 80s was the most tacky, decadent, and easy-to-guess-what-year-it-was-made music of all time (the psychadelic era being a close second).
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TotalSonic

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Re: Who was more important?
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2005, 06:39:26 pm »

hee hee - nice answers.  

I'm a gigantic gigantic Terry Riley fan - I count his just intonated piano concert at NEC in 1985 as one of the greatest things I've ever seen live - but c'mon - over Coltrane??  yer insane

I'm sure Terry would never want to be compared this way though - the whole point is that those two co-exist on different sides of the same plane - so as choices in a poll it's absolutely absurd.   I call it a draw.

got to say though that in terms of being "something new" Hiphop in the 80's was a WAY bigger innovation than anything that came out of the 80's rock underground - and this is coming from a gigantic fan of bands like MOB, Fugazi, Dog Faced Hermans, etc. etc.  
So - I love Iggy and the Asheton brothers to death - but Chuck D  and the whole Bomb Squad seems to me more "important" in terms of actually having changed the world by the way they created their sounds.  
So - flame away everyone!

Your right that if it came to a tiff Lemmy would just spit out the unchewed skin of those poor guys from Montreal though.

Best regards,
Steve Berson

Plush

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Re: Who was more important?
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2005, 07:04:26 pm »

Absurd choices in your poll.
Please try to be less cryptic.

thankyasomuch,

Hudsonek
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electrical

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Re: Who was more important?
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2005, 07:09:16 pm »

Plush wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 19:04

Absurd choices in your poll.
Please try to be less cryptic.

thankyasomuch,

Hudsonek

I think they are pretty good examples of their idioms. Are you unfamiliar with Wang Chung? They were at least as popular as Quarterflash, and orders of magnitude more popular than the Minutemen.
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maxdimario

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Re: Who was more important?
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2005, 07:10:18 pm »

It's funny that when black flag, dead kennedys, articles of faith, suicidal tendencies etc. were starting out, mainstream people used to laugh and make fun of them, saying the music was a joke, the guys couldn't play. same goes for the slayer/metallica type groups.

everything about the various scenes was based on originality and creativity, and not bowing down to posing fake music-making.

I remember one young (early thrash-metal) band being booed off the 'stage' because they were playing covers and were posing.

anyway the whole spirit was to be as anti-commercial as you could get.

which made the whole grunge/green day type of thing a bit weird to me... now everybody acts and plays on the ideals of the indie bands of the early 80's etc. but with a commercial/corporate twist to it. metallica is ...mainstream...

it just goes to show you that the ONLY way to keep new music alive is to let it flourish in a scene..

record company assembled music usually only contributes to stagnation and death of musical spirit..as time has proven.

all new talent is necessarily indie talent..

but indie music is becoming a genre now...which is more of a record company music thing, ..genres are marketing tools.


stay away from fashions media and journalism, support your local scene, that's the way I feel, anyway.
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TotalSonic

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Re: Who was more important?
« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2005, 07:15:04 pm »

electrical wrote on Wed, 21 December 2005 00:09

Plush wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 19:04

Absurd choices in your poll.
Please try to be less cryptic.

thankyasomuch,

Hudsonek

I think they are pretty good examples of their idioms. Are you unfamiliar with Wang Chung? They were at least as popular as Quarterflash, and orders of magnitude more popular than the Minutemen.



True during the years they existed - but completely untrue now - I'd say Minutemen have a heckuva lot more fans than the WC do.  

Best regards,
Steve Berson

TheViking

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Re: Who was more important?
« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2005, 07:17:43 pm »

You know...   funny you mention it.   I was having fun and Wanging Chung just last night.   You know where my vote is.

Thanks for being here, Steve!
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NelsonL

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Re: Who was more important?
« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2005, 07:30:25 pm »

Steve, your comparison is bogus. Please send me the original text so I can use sentence replacer and correct your thoughts.
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Lee Tyler

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Re: Who was more important?
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2005, 07:36:02 pm »

Don't know much about Wang Chung, but Chung-King
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lucey

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Re: Who was more important?
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2005, 07:52:37 pm »

I have a hard time finding an answer with "more important" as the criteria, Steve.  What do you mean by that?

I prefer the Minutemen and that whole side of things from that era, but both groups were important to their different circles I suppose, and from time to time I'll be annoyed to find myself humming along with Wang Chung in the grocery store.   I just feel strongly that these arguments take away from individuals actually LISTENING to music and thinking for themselves.

Some years ago we were at a club and a band many have now heard of, called Modest Mouse, were set to play ... we knew their name but had never heard them and were interested in maybe sticking around to check it out  ... so we asked a young girl who was talkative and seemed up on new music what Modest Mouse sounded like?

Our first question was, "What are they like?"  

"Oh they're very important"

Try as we did to rephrase this question in a way that got an answer describing the band's actual music, it's energy or feel, it's instruments or themes, it's vibe or spirit or message or whatever ... all she had to say was "they're very important", and variations on that same mantra.

She's not unique. That sense of what's important has consumed and to some extent kept afloat many so called indy bands.  A good thing in that regard, yet often leading to self absorption, an ugly quality for a genre once about not giving a fuk and just banging it out for the love if it.

So what do you mean by important?  Influential?  Creative?  Timeless? What?
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electrical

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Re: Who was more important?
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2005, 07:56:02 pm »

lucey wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 19:52


So what do you mean by important?  Influential?  Creative?  Timeless? What?

I suppose different things are important to different people. They will answer this question for themselves, and that's as it should be. Surely it means something to you, so answer as you see fit.
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steve albini
Electrical Audio
sa at electrical dot com
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