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Tue, 03 Jul 2007

Icky thumps and Bad Bananas

It's an eternal artists quandary - how do you keep yourself interested if you're doing the same ole shit, year in, year out. Take the White Stripes for example - that raw, powerful, and sparse, big single coil guitar sound rocked but good on their early albums. It's why people came out in large quantities and declared them saviours of the world.

And now I find myself being like those people I don't like who can never accept any new stage from any artist, and especially one they like. There's lots of history in this too and lots of people who failed to join transitions - and lots of people who joined later and were sneered at by the originals. I know, you can think of lots of examples of this as well, but let's name some anyway - Dylan's going electric was a pretty big one... and then his going religious another although, soundwise, it was just smoother. The Beatles went from being basic beat monkeys to psy-preachers and lost me and gained two gazillion people in my place. Bowie did a lot of changing, but musically? And I mean big changes here - so let's give him a couple. The picture is confused a little when artists make changes that boost their popularity hugely... which leads on to issues about the goodness of anything, especially popularity.

Well, Mr. Stripes has had an itch or two. One of them was apparently calmed by moving to Nashville where he says he loves the do-anything-for-a-buck mentality. Crass commercialism? Bring it on! You can't blame him though. He was totally sick of indy poseurs - who are, like most camp followers, always whispering conspiracy and always on a super-sensitive hunt for signs of non-belief in The Code.

Icky Thump isn't about crass selling-out though. It is about more complicated mixes - and about a blurring of the original simpler musical thoughts to enter a land many have entered before. The crucial question to the listener (other than where that album name came from) is does all this added stuff make any sense? Does it grip? You know my answer. To me it seems like part of a continuum of dilution. (thunderfinger)

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