Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Vintage 1987

Digging deep deep deep deep deep into the cd collection the other day, I pulled one out that hadn't been listened to in years.

I blew the dust off of The Psychedelic Furs Midnight to Midnight cd and have been listening to it in my truck over the past couple of days while out driving around town. And you know what? It still holds up after all of these years. It is a fantastic collection of great songs!

Regular readers know that two of the albums which I consider the Best of All Time were released in 1987. But even more than that, I believe that 1987 was a watershed year in the world of popular music--I think it may have even peaked right about then.

Back then, I was living in San Diego, spending ten hours a day driving a tire delivery truck all over the county. And the best radio station in the world was 91-X, which I listened to for about 16 hours a day. (As a side note, the tire store I worked for had an account with the local Rolls Royce dealership, so about once a month I'd have to go pick up a Rolls, bring it back to the shop, put new shoes on it, and then drive it back. My boss would always get pissed at me when they'd call and complain that I was changing the radio stations in the cars from Classical to Cutting Edge. But as you can well imagine, nothing says 'Class' quite like Hurricane Mikey sitting behind the wheel of a Rolls Royce...)

Anyhow, all that time I spent on the highways and back roads of San Diego County listening to the radio that year pretty much cemented my outlook on music. Most of the stuff in my collection was released in the 80's, and most of that between 1985 and 1988. To this day, the music world is still desperately trying live up to this lineup:

Love & Rockets
The Smiths
Echo & The Bunnymen
The Cure
Hoodoo Gurus
Oingo Boingo
Glass Tiger
New Order
Depeche Mode
The Call
The Church
The Silencers
Dead or Alive
Gene Loves Jezebel
Crowded House
The Cult
Sisters of Mercy
Simple Minds
Psychedelic Furs
The Alarm
Pet Shop Boys
The Outfield
Midnight Oil
Kate Bush
Siouxsie & the Banshees
The Icicle Works

...and the list goes on and on. Individually, there were a lot of 'supernova' groups--a brilliant flash, then fading into obscurity. But there were so many brilliant flashes back then that it was impossible to turn on the radio station and not hear a song that you liked.

Nowadays it's all that American Idol shiat, hip-hop, or that screaming rap crap featuring no-talent vocalists polluting the airwaves. I don't know what was going on in the entertainment world at that point in time, but the creative juices of the day spawned hundreds of really cool songs that I never get tired of listening to, yet somehow the magic stopped, and music got sucky again.

I believe that we saw the beginning of the end when all that garbage from Seattle got so popular just a few years later. While I am mildly entertained by some of STP and Pearl Jam's work, the rest of that Grunge movement needs to just take it's rightful place in the dustbin of musical history, right next to Disco and 1970's Adult Contemporary. I'm amazed that so much crap could ever be so popular.

I don't know if it's a sign of getting old, but I'm afraid that all of the best music has already been written. Either that, or my tastes are so far out of the mainstream that there is no chance for the record companies to ever get my business again. But my guess is that I feel this way because the talent gene is recessive, and is probably just skipping a generation.


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