How good a grasp do you have of the music scene? How do you keep your ear to the ground, know what’s coming down the road, or uncover great bands that have faded into obscurity, vital links in the development of famous movements who’s contributions have been obfuscated by the giants that followed? How diverse is your playlist, how esoteric your knowledge? Are you content to follow the Top 40, do you learn of new artists through Pandora, or simply rely on your friends and a couple of college radio stations to clue you in to what’s what?
I’m pretty clueless. Not mainstream, perhaps, but there’s nothing in my repertoire that would intrigue or confound a connoisseur. Sometimes I catch glimpses of this world, this complex and vital development of sound and dance and music and realize just how little I know. Music that only students of the form might know, the experimental, seminal stuff that pushed boundaries back in the 60’s and 70’s, that revolutionized the 80’s, that influenced everything we’re hearing today.
Reason I bring this all up. I like to run. I listen to music when I go. Put on a good set of tracks and hit the street, round the corner on Brickell and head down to the water’s edge, keeping up a good pace as I circumscribe the wide bay front, South Beach aglow to my right across the dark waters. One song who’s excellence goes to 11 is LCD Soundsystem’s ‘I’m Losing My Edge‘. It’s the kind of song you’ve got to be careful in deploying, because if you play it at the wrong time you’ll find yourself sprinting when you should be conserving energy.
So I’ve been running, and listening to this song, and feeling good, but only recently have I started to listen to the lyrics. Really listen. And it’s about music, about being naked on the beach in Ibiza in 1988. Being in the Paradise Garage DJ booth with Larry Levan back in 1977. Being in Jamaica during the great sound clashes. Being there when Captain Beefheart put his first band together. All these key moments in music that I’d never even heard about.
So I got home and looked up the lyrics. And at the end of the song, when the lyrics go out of control, there’s this list of bands. This list of potentially key bands. Bands I’d never heard of, but for a couple, a few.
So here they are. I’m going to link to those I can find online. Going to check them out, and find some new music worth listening to.
Get myself a musical education:
This Heat, Pere Ubu, Outsiders, Nation of Ulysses, Mars, The Trojans, The Black Dice, Todd Terry, the Germs, Section 25, Althea and Donna, Sexual Harrassment, a-ha, Dorothy Ashby, PIL, the Fania All-Stars, the Bar-Kays, the Human League, the Normal, Lou Reed, Scott Walker, Monks, Niagra,
Eric B. and Rakim, Index, Basic Channel, Soulsonic Force (“just hit me”!), Juan Atkins, David Axelrod, Electric Prunes, Gil! Scott! Heron!, the Slits, Faust, Mantronix, Pharaoh Sanders and the Fire Engines, the Swans, the Soft Cell, the Sonics!