Monday, December 20, 2004

Quotes from a "Nuggets" History

By music historian Greg Shaw about the original Nuggets collections which first appeared in 1972 and were the impetus for the punk movement.

"In the beginning rock, rock emerged from the streets in a variety of shapes and forms but was shunned by the major record labels and denounced from the pulpits. Its most powerful expression was rockabilly, a demented mutation of country and blues that was practiced by thousands of people, mostly in the South. Only a handful of rockabilly songs made the national charts; the music was essentially underground, local, and decidedly amateurish. Anyone who could pick up a guitar and howl out some raving anthem could add his voice-- and thus a new idea in music was born.

"Before rockabilly, a modicum of talent and professionalism were assumed necessary to make records. A young musician had to study at the feet of a master for years before being taken seriously . . . this, to me, is where "punk" was born. I define punk as a style in which stance, image, and a do-it-yourself approach are virtually all that matters. (If the music's good, too, that's icing.) The corporate record labels have always opposed this. . . ."

". . . they had little access to the mass teen audience. The Beatles galvanized the teen masses into hysteria and inspired other musicians everywhere to grow their hair, spruce up their vocals, and join the party. The result was a myriad of vibrant local scenes, out of which emerged the bands on this album and countless others.

"Few, if any, of the artists on this release would have measured up to the record industry's standards. Each came out of some suburban garage, and each somehow got onto the radio with one monster song put out on a local independent record label and created after maybe three weeks of music lessons."

I don't completely agree with Shaw's history (the Northwest scene the Kingsmen came out of was vibrant before many Americans had even heard of the Beatles), and I think he's himself a tad too scornful of 60's garage band rock. We're only talking about some of the best rock n roll recordings of all time!-- "Pushin' Too Hard"; "You're Gonna Miss Me"; "Psychotic Reaction"; the original "Hey Joe"; "Talk Talk"; and such. But Greg Shaw's comments point to parallels to what was happening in the music biz then, and what is starting to happen with literature today. A contrast is made between mere schooling, rigid craft, and the authentic emotional energy that is part of the impulse to create real art.

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