Hype; the next big thing. The music industry has been inextricably linked with hype and the next big thing ever since Elvis first gyrated his hips on American TV in 1956.
66 years later and not much has changed. The music industry still wants to push new acts and the music listening public will always want to think they're ahead of the curve. Thankfully I am no longer part of a demographic whereby I am in any way influenced by anything other than a catchy tune.
Cue Wet Leg. I like them. And I like the sound they make.
It probably won't surprise you that I frequented one or two watering holes on my recent trek across America's Midwest. Finding dive bars where tourists don't frequent was easy peasy as the kind of places we went to (not counting Chicago or Los Angeles) were populated almost entirely by locals if not indigenous people.
Dive bars always have a bar the length of an aircraft hangar with stools housing firmly planted buttocks that aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Yes they sell Bud and yes they sell Miller, but now, thanks to something of an American craft beer renaissance, they also sell some killer IPAs - or APAs, depending on how you define the origin of your ales. Dive bars also have at least one pool table - some will have pinball machines - and they all have a jukebox.
Perched on a stool at Whiskey & June's in downtown Atascadero and I'm chugging a rather tasty strawberry blonde from the Barrel House Brewery (based in Paso Robles, CA I subsequently found out) and next up on the record machine I hear some quintessential Johnny Cash come bursting out of the speakers. No need to turn it up, it's already loud. Struggling to work out which album it's from - Unchained? American Man IV? (I really can't place it) I walk over to the back wall and peer thru the glass at the 'now playing' icon.
Oops. Not Cash at all - but sounding more like the man in black than the man in black himself - I quickly grabbed some more dollar bills and put it on again. And again. I hope you like it as much as I did. (If so, next time you see it on a pub jukebox, feel free to play it three times back to back.)
I did last month's Thursday Vinyl on autopilot; I'd not been back in the country long and sleep had been a stranger to me for the previous 48 hours. Fair play to Alan, my second in command, who brought the room up to speed with all things Devo while I nodded sagely, as opposed to off.
This month, however, I'll be buzzing. Wide eyed and bushy tailed I'll be telling you why I think John Cooper Clarke's 1980 album Snap, Crackle & Bop is more punk than the Pistols, more cathartic than the Clash. (And more dastardly than the Damned.) Evidently Chickentown and Beasley Street alone prove that JCC has guaranteed his top table status along side Lydon, Strummer et al.
Come on down as Mr. Crowther used to say. It's free and it's fun. And, like the bloke who can't pronounce his f's and th's, you can't say fairer than that. Even if you can't make it to Nottingham's liveliest arts centre on the 28th, tell me what album you'd like me to play for a future session and I'll see if we can't put it under the microscope and marvel at it.
Perversely, for today's musical interlude, I've deliberately not gone with a cut from 'Snap', instead I've opted for an absolute banger from Inspiral Carpets. But you won't be disappointed - check out Doctor Reliable's cameo at 2:34.
Inspiral Carpets ft. John Cooper Clarke - Let You Down (2014)
I haven't been ignoring you, I've been away. Honest; I got back into Heathrow on Wednesday afternoon after being in America for three weeks. Travelling across eight states on Amtrak was a belated 60th treat as well as something else to tick off my bucket-list. Seeing the U.S. from a train window is, arguably, the only way to see this vast country. You really do get up close and personal as the Southwest Chief (or Missouri River Runner - we hopped on and off various locomotives over a number of days) trundled thru mountains, deserts, dustbowls, hick towns, and a lot more besides.
And although we hired a car and did the ubiquitous Californian road trip with our friends when we met up in Los Angeles, there was a bewildering amount of treats along the way in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona that easily matched, if not exceeded, those we experienced in the Golden State. A full travelog may well appear in this blog later when I've had chance to decompress (I'm still assimilating the full magnitude of what we did in my head) and I will put together a photo-book of all the best bits once I've condensed the 1000+ photographs I took. In the meantime, here are a few images I posted along the way (if you follow me on Twitter @JohnMeddUK you may have seen my daily updates/photo journal).
Coming in to land #Chicago
No sign of Amy Turtle
Tumbleweed not pictured
Christ lives on Route 66
It's the craziest pace I've ever been
In the style of Hopper
Pink Floyd album cover
It's just a big hole in the ground; OK, it's a very big hole in the ground