Thursday, February 08, 2007

It's Better To Burn Out....

I'm listening to The Smiths' debut album as I write this post. The band's stock is currently at its highest since they split almost 20 years ago, yet only a decade ago they had slipped so far from the cultural radar that it seemed as though no-one appreciated their contribution to British musical history.

Even the patronage of Noel Gallagher at Oasis' commercial peak did little to bolster The Smiths' reputation. But now, with Morrissey performing his former band's songs on sold-out tours, it seems as though everyone is a fan.

Inevitably, this has led to calls for the band to reform. Given that Morrissey and Johnny Marr were sued by Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke only a few years ago, a reconciliation seems unlikely.

In truth, I'd rather that The Smiths didn't reform. They were a band of their time, and their musical legacy is strong. To attempt to recapture that feeling would probably have a detrimental effect.

The same rule applies to most bands: never go back. Though both Mani and John Squire have said that they are in favour of reforming The Stone Roses, Ian Brown has wisely rejected the idea at every opportunity.

To me, The Stone Roses were the one of the greatest bands ever, behind only The Beatles. Their self-titled debut, released when I was only nine, is the best album in musical history. By the time of their second, John Squire's cocaine use had changed the Roses' sound from rich psychedelia to thunderous blues rock. It wasn't a change for the better, and essentially tore the band apart.

That Squire and Brown haven't spoken since the former quit the band in 1996 speaks volumes. Don't get me wrong - if they do reform and announce that they're going on tour, I'll be first in the line for tickets.

But I think it's better to leave their legacy intact and unsullied by a cash-fuelled reunion in middle age. The Beatles never reformed, neither did The Clash. Does anyone really think that recent performances by Queen or The Doors are the same as seeing the real thing?

Hopefully The Smiths and The Stone Roses will have the good grace to see out their retirement without feeling the need to patch up their differences for unnecessary reunions.


Erica said...

"...They were a band of their time..."

So totally true. When I hear "Reel Around The Fountain," I like imagining that I am listening to "Strangeways" on my Walkman (a tape player! *gasp* In this age of Pod People!) in between classes in high school in 1991.

It just ain't right otherwise.

Groanin' Jock said...

I'm with you on that one Erica - I had "The Queen Is Dead" and "Meat Is Murder" on tape, both bought for 50p in second-hand shops! No-one else I knew liked The Smiths, but I listened to them as I walked to high school.