Monday, October 16, 2006

Life among the celebrities

Slightly shocked and awed to find that the mighty PZ Meyers (he of the fairly compulsory Pharyngula blog) was in Bromley, my Place O'Toil. I posted briefly at his place, but have to mutter aloud to myself further on this matter.

Bromley is many things to many men. It was H.G Well's childhood home before the railway came through (twice) and suburbanised the place to hell. It is no coincidence that so many of Well's plots involve the lavish destruction of suburbs and all that they contain and entail. And let's not forget, no, do let's, no, don't - let's not forget that Wells was a game designer, what with Floor Games and Little Wars.

Anyhoo, back to Bromley's place in The Great Scheme Of Things. I loved this great piece in the Guardian about the famous-amongst-themselves Bromley Contingent, which raised the pressing question: had there been anything better to do in Bromley, would we have had Punk Rock? I remain apathagnostic (see what I did there?) on the matter. Writers I Normally Trust tell me it was all terribly important and things were awfully awful and needed shaking up, but there does seem to be an air of "You Had To Be There" about it all, and surely for the really good stuff you didn't have to be there, you just have to listen to it. This seems to be true about the effectively-unknown-at-the-time Velvet Underground (as the old saw goes, hardly anyone ever saw them, but everyone who did immediately formed their own band). The first few Velvets albums are just boffo. You don't have to have any personal stake or sentimental attachment to the epoch, they just stand up on their own two feet and compel replaying.

Some dreadful Channel 4 talking-head-fest about influential bands and the unexpectedly entertaining Andy McCluskey of Orchestral Manouevres In The Dark made the excellent point that every ten years or so there is a general bewailing about how rock is dying on its corporate arse and live music has lost all its magic, and then someone will re-record the first Velvet Underground album and be acclaimed as the Saviour of the Muse (which obviously allows the accompanying chronicling music journo's to go through the apostolic process of discovery, doubt, witnessing and testamentation). Strokes? White Stripes? I'm looking at you etc.

Perhaps the final word on this strangely cataleptic/catalytic Kentish town is Billy Jenkins' brilliantly unhinged opus "Still...Sounds Like Bromley". Whatever altitude my praise for it attains, it sufficeth not.

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