Friday, December 23, 2011
A few Thoughts on Crossover
So, it's almost Christmas, thus my thoughts naturally turn to Metal. Yeah, right.
Actually, I've been reading "This Ain't the Summer of love" by Steve Waksman, and while it's not the worst bit of music criticism disguised as cultural anthropology I've ever read, it is merely that- this is just his way of writing about some bands he likes, and he managed to get it into book form because he got some grants from a few universities. His point is that Metal and Punk are connected, and while he's not wrong, he misses a whole lot; not the least of which goes something like this: His title is from a Blue Oyster Cult song. In the late 1970's, Blue Oyster Cult collaborated with Patti Smith, and their in-house producer, Sandy Pearlman, also produced the Clash's 2nd LP. The song in question "This ain't the Summer of love' shares a riff with Mudhoney's "Swallow my Pride", and a big song for BOC, "Godzilla" was very similar to a few Nirvana riffs, including "Smells Like Teen Spirit"... That's off the top of my head- I could get deeper, easily, but I don't think Waksman could, seeing as he's just a recovering "Hessian' ( Los Angeles punk rock slang for Metal head)
Anyway, enough about the book because it's just my jumping off point. Punk and Metal clearly are closely related, but mostly because they're both hard rock, and roughly contemporary. However, I'm a pretty big fan of punk, and really not such a big fan of Metal. That's more what I want to discuss.
See, I know I've mentioned metal on this blog, and on previous blogs and even in printed articles, and so, it might seem like I'm some kind of metal head, but I'm not and the reasons are many. I'm not a big believer in Virtuosos. I'm not impressed by speed picking, hammer ons and the like. I know plenty of music theory, and I can play well enough that I've passed for professional, but I just don't care for the whole notion that sheer technical prowess is musically more worthy. Shredding just doesn't mean much to me. Likewise, I don't give a rats ass about Frodo or the Devil. Fantasy and occult lyrics mean less than nothing to me. I don't like long hair, bullet belts, or black leather, either. Spandex is best left to strippers and pro-wrestlers. On top of all that, there inevitably is something... vaguely trashy about metal, in an unappealling way. What I mean is, ummm, well, let's do this by way of a story. Most socialists struggle a bit with the dichotomy between wanting to do what's best for "the masses" and the short-comings of those same 'masses". I had a friend who resolved this dichotomy by dividing up the Proletariat between the proles and the "lumpen Proletariat". I disagree, respectfully, but I can see what he meant. That's the kind of problem I've got with Metal- it always seems to lead to ignorant hickoid trash, of the least amusing kind- racists, close minded bigots, sexist pigs, etc. Do I have to bring up Zakk Wylde, or were you already there with me? I can deal with Cat Scratch Fever, but do I have to take Ted Nugent, too? See what I'm getting at?
So, almost reflexively, the only Metal I like shares some kind of 'crossover" with Punk. I can deal with the aforementioned Blue Oyster Cult in that their music fits in, at least in enough ways, with the detroit "Proto punk' style. I'm ok with Tru$T, and, very early Iron Maiden, because DiAnno was a bit of a punk, and hell, Jimmy Pursey even got thrown into the mix (East Enders, all). Likewise, bands like Kylesa and Torche have roots in Southern Crust punk, and it shows enough that I like them.
And what do I have to say about Motorhead? Isn't it obvious that they're as much a Punk band as a Metal band?
If you are a big Metal head, I know we share some musical tastes, but there are some points of divergence, and I'm bringing up that divergence because Waksman reminded me-
ultimately, the reason why I'm not real keen on Metal comes down to this- the divide isn't academic. When someone throws a punch at you, either for liking a band he doesn't, or for not liking a band he does, or, horrors, for both, it tends to turn you off to everything that clown likes. Well, I had more than a few punches thrown at me from Metal heads. Everything beyond that is just icing on the cake of hate. If Waksman missed anything important, it's that- there were plenty of real, not verbal fights between punks and Metal heads in the 80's. I haven't forgotten that, so I still have a bit of a grudge against Metal as a genre....