SEX PISTOLS: I got there….eventually.

19 07 2014

 

“I got no reason it’s all too much,
You’ll always find us out to lunch.”

 

When I mention my love for Punk, I forget a band that I probably should mention. The thing is, I never really listened to them. I thought the singer was just another loud gobshite with nothing for me to care about. I was wrong. I’ve been wrong for years, and I feel stupid for it. I was told for years by my uncle to listen to the Sex Pistols, and when I was younger (pre-teens) I had a brief encounter with the song Pretty Vacant. I saw the video on Top Of The Pops back in ’92 when it was reissued. I went through a stage of using the hoover as a mic stand, pretending to be in whatever band I loved at the time. I forced the hoover back and forth as I tried to mouth the words and shouting “We’re so pretty oh so pretty…”¬†in a way only a 6-year-old could. I wasn’t aware of the Sex Pistols, I didn’t know how important they were. I was blind to all of this for many many years, and I am so sorry.

Recently all I’ve been listening to is the Sex Pistols. I have become infatuated with Johnny Rotten’s boyish and rebellious voice, the way he pronounces certain words. As if he is (rightfully) mocking the establishment and authority in every line he sings. Sex Pistols stood for things that at the time was deemed as “dangerous.” It’s alright to call the Royal Family out on how corrupt they are, it’s perfectly fine to have no trust in the political system and to speak out about it. It was relevent in the 70s, and it is bloody relevant now. Times have changed, but certain problems are still there. The same things are still corrupt, and we can go back to the Sex Pistols music to point out the shit that is still going on.

I’ve been adamant that Punk is purely New York, and that’s it. To a degree I still stand by that. Give me the Ramones over The Clash any day (I do like The Clash, it’s not a dig.) I guess I just didn’t want to hear Cockney accents over a raucous. Again, I was wrong. I have no problems with admitting I’m wrong.

I can understand why many would have shunned the Sex Pistols. They were obnoxious, they were loud and they didn’t care what YOU thought about them. The thing is, these are the things I have ended up loving about their music. I love that they had a brilliant obnoxious sound that wasn’t accessible to all. They were and still are an acquired taste. They aren’t for those who see no wrong in the world. You can be an angry teen or a displaced adult, you will still find some connection in their songs.

If it wasn’t for the Sex Pistols, would Punk have made it to the UK? How would the UK have created their own Punk scene if it wasn’t for the Sex Pistols? They made it sound more pissed off, agitated¬† and dangerous. For those who didn’t “get” Punk (I feel bad for them) the Sex Pistols were just a bunch of angry kids kicking up a fuss. Read their lyrics and see what was happening in the UK at the time, and it is easy to see why they spoke to an almost blank generation. They were relevant then, and looking at the state of the world now- they still are relevant. The youth are shunned; this causes boredom and the thought of not amounting to much. When your generation is constantly put down and being told there is nothing for them, how on earth do you expect them to react? If they don’t do anything, they are deemed lazy. If they cause a fuss due to the state of things, they are labelled as god knows what. We’ve seen it happen haven’t we. With their callings of “No future” ringing in our ears, it’s fair to say that the Sex Pistols music still holds valuable truth. Seventeen sounded like a self-fulfilling prophecy for many then and now.

I’ve tried to work out why it took me so long to get to this point. To the point of realising just how great the Sex Pistols were, but most things are delayed with me. An immediate reaction isn’t always something I can muster, even if it is to do with music. If it wasn’t for the Sex Pistols a lot of bands would not have formed, you’ve heard the stories. People were there at THAT gig. Some genuinely were, some weren’t. But we all wish we were there. We wish something like this could just happen again. Something that just fucks things up for a while, something to make others think and to DO something. You wish someone could play as furiously as Paul Cook, you wish there was a front-man as bold as Johnny- will it ever happen again? Maybe. Maybe some kid somewhere is listening to Bodies and thinking “I can do that.” Maybe they’ll come and save us all. Do we need saving? Probably not. I’m just being overdramatic.

They turned their noses up at and shunned the things we are “supposed” to love, admire and even respect. They saw the faults and pointed them out in black and white. They pointed out all that was (and probably is) wrong. With just one record they gave the music industry a swift kick up the arse, they woke up lazy teens and pissed off parents. What else could you want from a band?!

 

 





Was Westwood Ever Relevant?

27 07 2013

 

 

 

I should be writing this from my mum’s house. I should have flown home for the weekend. I didn’t. Normally it’s because I missed my flight, but this time it’s because I’m ill. It’s either an ear infection or my wisdom teeth are making a wonderful appearance. Advised by my mum and a pharmacist to not fly, I listened. For once. I even rang NHS Direct which proved to be a waste of 4 hour. “Just take some paracetamol.” WOW. I hadn’t thought of that. I got to thinking, and this is where it led me.

Most people slag off “commercial” radio just to seem cool or “different.” Let’s be honest, you have no control over what the radio plays so get angry over stuff that matters. IE: Everything that happens in Russia. I love listening to the radio. Yesterday at work we had 1XTRA on all day. They had an hour where they played old stuff. I felt 14 again. They played Lil’ Mo and FOXY BROWN. I nearly fainted at my desk. I was so happy to hear the songs I used to love being played on the radio. They even played that Bob Marley and Lauryn Hill duet. As I was listening to these songs, I realised who was responsible for me hearing these songs in the first place. Tim Westwood, of course.

I used to listen to Westwood’s show religiously on a Friday and Saturday night. The radio was my best friend from a very young age. If it wasn’t for the radio, I may not have learnt to love music in the way I do. For the most part radio presenters love the sound of their own voice. Maybe Westwood did too. I have no idea. I used to ring his show a lot. I got through once when Mystikal was on. At that time I was a HUGE Mystikal fan. He turned out to be a rapist. I have his autograph. He addressed it to me. I had Westwood’s and Trevor Nelson’s autographs too. Theirs were on a postcard, I was so happy. I recorded my conversation with Westwood and Mystikal. I still have the tape. I used to record certain songs off the radio. Every Foxy Brown was taped. When he’d play rappers coming in and doing a freestyle- I’d record them all. I once won the R&B Top 20 off Trevor Nelson’s show on Radio 1. I still have all the CDs.

Westwood made compilation records. I think I bought the first 4 of them. Then I kind of lost interest. I realised not all the songs were played in full and he kept shouting over the songs. I don’t mind on the radio, but not on record. Not cool Westwood, not cool. A lot of people are quick to call him many things. Not many are positive. I can see why some may call him a joke but if it wasn’t for him a lot of rappers past and present over the past two decades may never have got any radio play in the UK. Hip Hop was always deemed as “bad.” Kind of like the naughty kid at school. You privately wanted to be its friend but in the public you turned your back. I’ve turned my back on the current state of rap music. 1XTRA are currently playing Macklemore. I really don’t get the appeal. I cannot stand his music at all. Maybe it is because I can’t relate to his music, or maybe because I just don’t like it. I think it is both. I’d rather listen to EPMD.

I used to love it when Westwood would link up with New York’s HOT 97. Funkmaster Flex to Angie Martinez (I did a Spanish project on her, and emailed it to her. She saw. I got a B!) When HOT 97 took over for an hour or so on Westwood’s show, the listeners were exposed to more underground New York Hip Hop. Artists that Westwood had mentioned and maybe not played yet; they were being exposed to a UK audience because of Westwood.

Westwood’s show introduced me to one of the rappers that became a massive part of my life; Big L. Big L, as soon as I heard his freestyle that Westwood played I knew I had found someone truly amazing. Big L was a freestyle genius. I cannot, and you simply cannot, compare Big L’s style to anyone else. Westwood had 20 years on the radio, I had been listening to him for half of that. In that time I appreciated Hip Hop in a different way. I used to love it when he’d play the intro to a song about 5 times then eventually play it or when he’d play the same song over and over because he loved it that much. It was like you were listening to music with your best friend. They were getting excited about the music with you. It didn’t matter that he’d play it over and over because you did the same too. I know I did when I used to tape certain songs.

I remember the week after Aaliyah died, he did a tribute to her and it was truly beautiful. He didn’t play much R&B back then, but he played a few of her songs and just paid tribute to someone that obviously, should still be alive.

Sure Radio 1 is pretty much a station that is a victim of playing the same songs every hour. Most stations do to be honest. There aren’t many that don’t. Even though I don’t listen to it, I know it is an important platform to subjecting people to new music. I find my new music by spending hours looking for it wherever I can. This doesn’t make me better than someone who loves Radio 1. I don’t care what station anyone listens to, I’m just glad the radio is still being listened to.

The best thing is when you flick through radio stations and you hear a song that you loved a long time ago. This happened to me yesterday and it was brilliant. I don’t care where I hear the songs I love so long as someone is playing them.

So is Westwood relevant? Has he ever been? I cannot understand why someone would say he’s never been relevant. I used to love Jay-Z (I’m not dropping the hyphen) and I regard Reasonable Doubt to be his best album. The Blueprint may have been he last decent record. The Black Album is a solid record too; but after that, I stopped caring. He started to sound like the new rappers that were emerging. I’d rather go back and listen to the old stuff, and be happy with that than listen to his new stuff and weep for what should have been. BUT! If it wasn’t for Westwood, nobody in the UK would care this much about Jay. He’s not the best rapper, but he once was. The best rapper around now? I really have no idea. I’ll probably always favour Talib Kweli.

Westwood gave many many Hip Hop artists a platform to be heard. Without him a lot of them would have been overlooked. It’s been a questionable 20 years, but it has been 20 years that have no doubt meant a lot to the Hip Hop community. He may have called himself the “Big Dawg” which I never understood, and he may have been a posh boy with an Anglican Bishop for a father. But he loved Hip Hop in a way that made you love it. To some he may have been a joke, but for some like me; he made Hip Hop a massive part of their lives and really did make a difference. Say what you want about him, but what he did for Hip Hop in the UK may never be done again.

Radio presenter to history maker; you cannot deny what he’s done.