Thursday, July 21, 2005

While trying to explain my intense fascination and affection for Electric Six on IM, I noted "haha I sound like xgau talking about the New York Dolls." Since then I've been indulging in my standard x = y + z fun-fun, in this case being Electric Six = New York Dolls + 30 years of American downfall. Good time charlies with an l-u-v of rock trash and apocalyptic grandeur ("would you make it with FRANKENSTEIN?"), Good People Thinking Bad Thoughts. Since a whole lot of cool jazz has gone down since the Dolls (punk, pop-metal, disco, new wave) the band has plenty of fresh touchstones to plunder.

That said, the problem with realizing what Great Old Thing a Fresh Young Thing resembles is that you can probably guess the outcome. The uncertain fate of Senor Smoke in their own frikkin' country could easily inspire Dick Valentine to settle for EITHER apocalyptic freak show or happy showmanship, and I'm guessing he'll pick the latter. While the good-natured if ineffectual life of a Buster Poindexter is a comfortable fate that Valentine has certainly earned, it's kind of a bummer to know the script beforehand. Those who know the past are condemned to watch everybody else repeat it (btw, if Valentine proves me wrong, no one will be happier than me).

THAT SAID, a whole lot of people seem to bone on for acts that scream 1991 to me, even though that leads to 1994 to 1998 to 2001 to right back where we are rather quickly. Electric Six at least harken back to 1973, back to PROTO-PUNK (they even cover "Street Life"!), back to a more fertile field than what was wrought by Lollapaloozers. Strawmen who pine for the glory days of SST-thru-Nirvana should be forced to listen to "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams" on a 24-hour loop. Indie rock, while slightly rife with a variety of lyrical joys and sonic pleasures, is basically a farm league where arty/collegiate weirdos prove their commercial worth to corporations. Even if they stick with their Merge or their Saddle Creek they're still lickin' some Clear Channel, some Yahoo Music, some MTV. Their big accomplishment is a top 50 debut on the Billboard Hot 100, a no. 16 nod on the Modern Rock Top 20. Gold.

Electric Six, as PROTO-punk, represent a kind of shameless musical buggery that could inspire a kick-hankerin' Steve Jones, be appreciated by a deconstructioneer like Johnny Rotten and serve as a safety net for a conflicted freak like W. Axl Rose. Their songs are exaggerations today, but God and/or Satan willing, some kid in 2025 might wonder what the big deal is - "I heard they're crazy, but it's just rock."

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