Tag Archives: Classic Rock

Is Rock Dying?

Fozzy at Reading Sub89

In the editorial of Classic Rock Magazine, Scott Rowley asks “Is Rock Dying

“Rock’n'roll has died,” former Buckcherry bassist Jimmy Ashhurst Facebooked recently, “and nobody’s really that pissed because we caught it in a box and can look at it whenever we want.” Ginger Wildheart posted similar sentiments days after the Sonisphere headliners were announced. “It would appear that rock music is finally on the machine that goes bing,” he wrote. “The revolving door of (fewer than 10) worthy festival headliners indicates, to me anyway, that we have outlived the era of ‘big rock’.”

The cracks aren’t just beginning to show, they’re as wide and deep as the lines on Keith Richards’ face. The legends are getting older and, let’s face it, dying. In a decade’s time, can we reasonably expect to see tours from Bob Dylan (aged 72), the Rolling Stones (oldest member: 72), Motörhead (Lemmy is 68), Lynyrd Skynyrd (Gary Rossington: 62) or ZZ Top (Billy Gibbons: 64)? Who will fill the country’s stadiums, headline our festivals and fill our arenas then?

One problem is that many classic rock fans are just too conservative, expecting pastiches of their old heroes rather than giving bands with a newer sound a chance. Another is a “mainstream” pushing too much watered-down mediocrity and calling it “rock”. And the rock/indie tribal divide has a lot to answer for as well. How many of the people complaining that rock is dying also insist that Muse are not a rock band?

If rock is to have a future, it won’t sound like copy of its past. I’m sure that there’s a place for exciting new rock bands who have ambitions of being more than glorified Thin Lizzy tribute acts. When I hear young bands such as Haken, I’m sure rock does have such a future.

Whether any of these bands will be part of the mainstream in the same way Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd were in the 1970s remains an open question. Artists like Steven Wilson, Opeth and Nightwish can fill venues like The Royal Albert Hall or Brixton Academy, but their music is probably too dense and sophisticated for the average daytime radio listener. Do they not represent the real present and future of rock, free from having to confirm to mainstream fashion?

In the end, if ambitious and creative bands can find a big enough audience for them to continue making music on the scale that they want to make it, does it actually matter whether it’s on the mainstream radar or not?

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How the NME damaged Britain’s music scene

Angry readers complaining about the magazine putting Muse on the cover inspired this great post by Classic Rock Magazine’s editor Scott Rowley. How The Music Press Spoiled Rock blames the fragmentation of the music press into specialist publications catering for ever-smaller genre-specific niches for encouraging narrow-minded tribalism. But it saves the real vitriol for the NME.

The wrong inkie survived. Sounds and Melody Maker were both in love, in different ways, with the rock’n’roll woah. Sounds with its piss-taking, street-wise fascination with rock’s comic book foolishness, MM in its always-progressive-and-frequently-pretentious search for the next big thing. The NME, meanwhile, looked down its nose at anything it deemed ‘uncool’. What constituted ‘uncool’ could change from one week to the next but two of the main principles seemed to be that: 1) It was uncool to like rock (spelled ‘RaWk’), and 2) It was uncool to live outside London – in what Londoners like to call ‘the provinces’ (aka the rest of the country).

The whole thing is well worth a read, and when it comes to blame it’s certainly a target-rich environment. But I’m not the only one to believe the NME has had an especially corrosive influence to the detriment of Britain’s music scene as a whole. I’ve jokingly stated that Britain will never have a decent mainstream music scene until the last Radio One daytime DJ is strangled by the last copy of the NME.

Despite declining circulation figures that ought to have heralded a slide into a well-deserved irrelevance, the NME still punches well above it’s weight in terms of cultural influence. Much of The Guardian’s music writing, for example, remains steeped in the NME world-view, despite recent and welcome attempts to broaden their coverage. And likewise Later with Jools Holland has always been overloaded with NME-style indie bands, with rock never more than a token. When it’s unthinkable to imagine bands like Nightwish, Opeth or Porcupine Tree ever appearing on the show, let alone someone like Panic Room or Touchstone, you know there’s a problem.

Yes, the closed-mindedness of many classic rock (and prog) fans is nothing to be proud of, Scott Rowley is right to point out that much of this is a defensive reaction to the way rock, despite it’s popularity, is all-too-often marginalised by large sections of the media.

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