Every now and then you hear something that literally makes everything around you seem irrelevant and insignificant. You stand still, listening in equal measure of amazement every time you hear it, an uncontrollable sense of satisfaction swelling over you. You listen in awe. You listen with pride. The hairs on your arms stand on end. You remember the best of nights. You reflect on what it all means. It’s a feeling that nothing else can replicate…
I’m listening to ‘Oasis – Cigarettes and Alcohol’, what are you listening to?
Generations come and go; the teenagers fashion of one day get dismissed the next as a new wave of kids burst into their glory years demanding change. They charge headlong into their new lives not knowing what they want, apart from the fact they want to do things their way. Change is required, change that everyone can call their own and connect with. This continuous process is the rule.
The formation and development of bands mirrors this process. Bands can act as the voice to whole generations, they dictate the style and control the attitudes of millions of people. It is impossible to put into words how much power music has in terms of defining everything about a decade. But the key to the very best bands, is that they manage to live forever and carry their particular generation through life, providing them with an instant way of time travelling back to their teenage years… all with the press of a play button.
Despite their ultimate world dominance and fame, The Beatles started as four ordinary lads from Liverpool. They would go on to tour all over the world and their discography would sell over 600 million copies. The Liverpool Four attracted such a huge fan base that even John Lennon described them as being ‘bigger than Jesus’. With classic songs such as Hey Jude, Twist and Shout and Come Together they are a band that really have stood the test of time and have outlived even their own generation. It’s unlikely one single band will ever affect the world as much as The Beatles did. The unique, catchy sound coupled with their loveable appearance and personalities meant these 4 men, under the genius of Lennon, had more power than most politicians of the time.
As The Beatles’ dominated the commercial scene, The Rolling Stones provided a more rebellious side to music at the time, whilst The Who quickly gained the mod following and provided Parka wearers and Vespa riders a different direction. Their fans directly opposed the ‘rockers’ – living on a diet of Elvis Presley. This conflict raised the life long argument of, ‘My band is better than yours’. The teenagers of the time had to pick their side and stick to it. Choose their music, their fashion, and choose their friends according to this decision. Once the Beatles split, the 1970’s saw The Rolling Stones and The Who continue, and they were joined by bands like Led Zeppelin. These emerged as the new world super power. Their rock music would bring in thousands of people night after night as they embarked on major world tours, conquering both the UK and the USA. Venues such as Knebworth would be over-run with people as a whole generation eagerly waited for the chance to see their heroes in Richards and Jagger, and Plant and Page respectively.
As The Who and it’s peers faded away to a chorus of ‘My Generation’, the ‘mod father’ in the form of Paul Weller and The Jam was born from the world of Punk in the late 1970’s. Punk music such as The Sex Pistols and The Clash soon took over from the heavyweights of the Rock and Roll world. Although brief, the punk scene blew every music rule out of the water and created a whole new world for many people in Britain at the time.
The 1980’s took a different turn, and the concept of bands struggled until Manchester decided to do something about it. Ian Brown and The Stone Roses became the band to see with hits such as ‘Fool’s Gold’ and ‘I Wanna Be Adored’. Whilst the Roses enjoyed their spell at the top, across Manchester a group of young lads under the name The Rain sparked a drastic music change when they invited Noel Gallagher to join them. Oasis were here. They served their time playing under the Boardwalk in Manchester, and when the chance came they grabbed music by the scruff of the neck. Their opening song of ‘Definitely, Maybe’, ‘Rock n’ Roll Star’, made a statement that this was how it was going to be from now on. Their debut album came with little challenge, until Damon Albarn and Blur created one of the biggest chart battles in music history – the Battle of Britpop. Whilst both Oasis and Blur continued to produce music after the turn of the Century, it became clear they had had their time in the 1990’s.
A new era of commercialized chart music is upon us, fame and stardom now seem a moment away with the help of shows such as the X Factor. There are still very talented songwriters and musicians about, however such a craze over one band or one front man is now diminishing. The most notable ray of light amongst this new genre of chart pop and electro house music has come from Sheffield, and the truthful lyrics of Alex Turner and the Arctic Monkeys. Their debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s Exactly What I’m Not became the fastest selling album in UK history. The Monkeys have grown into a truly polished and accomplished outfit over the last ten years and their most recent album has broadened their fan base even further as they take a more mature, sophisticated turn. With lyrics about drugs, nightclub bouncers, alcohol and taxi ranks, it shows us there are still bands writing their own songs and forming a connection with the masses. This is the first band in what seems like a long time that can really be considered as one that defines a whole generation of people.
For me, music is about finding the things that you enjoy and never looking back. The moment you find your band really is the best feeling. In your head they just make sense and you would never hear a bad word said about them. You’d stand up for them, you almost feel like you’re part of them when you hear that first chord.
Sometimes it may simply be that a band come from your city, this is enough to make you stand by them even when you know deep down their new single isn’t actually that good. For me, The Enemy will always have a place in my heart due to their Coventry background.
My Dad has Led Zeppelin and The Who; I have Oasis and The Arctic Monkeys. Who knows what my child will find in years to come. When they do I’m sure they’ll tell me it’s better than what I have, and one things for sure… I’ll tell them they’re wrong.