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What's in iJamming! Music
Tue, Aug 20, 2002
From the Jamming! Archives:
interviewed in 1978
"A number one single would be a bit scary."
The iJamming! interview:
"'Acid Trax' by Phuture came out and I was just 'Okay, forget all hip hop and all old school rare groove right here, this is it.'"
The Best Of 2001
Tony Fletcher's Top Albums, Concerts, Singles and Books - and comments on the Village Voice Poll
Strange Currencies:
R.E.M. at Carnegie Hall
In his room:
Brian Wilson at the Festival Hall
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN: "Flowers is Echo & The Bunnymen's finest hour since Ocean Rain."
Latest album reviews
An intrigue of early 90s New York nightlife.
NEW CHAPTER now online
From the Jamming! Archives:
U2 interviewed in 1984.
"It's not U2 that's creating this great art. . .There's something that works through us to create in this way."
iJamming! Wino/Muso:
"New world wines are just too techno for me."
iJamming! interview:
Jesse Hartman, aka LAPTOP
"Every New York band knows the meaning of failure"
MIX Albums:
Who, what and why you should bother
"I don't think people realize that life can become so exciting and interesting that it can draw you away for long periods of time from creating music - & why not?"
From the Keith Moon archives:
the JEFF BECK interview .
The iJAMMING! chat:

"If I was asked why Sniffin' Glue was so important, it was the way we conducted ourselves, the style of it, just the attitude. It had attitude in abundance didn't it?"
Forgotten Classics:
THE CHILLS: Brave Words
THE iJAMMING! Book Review:
SNIFFIN' GLUE: The Essential Punk Accessory
Musing with SALLY TAYLOR:
"I'm not interested in what the major labels have to offer."
From the JAMMING! archives: ALTERNATIVE TV
interviewed in 1978
Fran Healy explains why "you cannot own a song." (And why Liam Gallagher "is going to turn into a really great songwriter.")
Featured Artist Web Site:
From the JAMMING! archives: The Story That Spawned Creation
The iJAMMING! interview:
"Once you've had your go, what-ever it may be, they want you to piss off, and they can't bear it if you come back, they can't bear it."
They love rock'n'roll but they don't want to deal with the hassle
The full iJamming! Contents
What the hell is going on here?
So the annual New York Village Voice Pazz and Jop Poll has just been published and all us writers want to comment on it. I have a web site, so I can. For those who don't know, the Voice Poll is considered the most important in America because of its wide reach: around 1000 music journalists each year are invited to vote for their top 10 albums and singles, of which this year a record 622 took up the opportunity. As such, the results provide an accurate consensus of, if not necessarily the best music of the year, then certainly what music journalists think is the best music of the year.

If you note a touch of cynicism in that last sentence, you're right. I normally take part in the Poll, but this year the cut-off date coincided with my trip to the UK and I didn't get my act together to vote from over there; I deliberately posted my own top 10s here on my site before the Voice poll came out so as not to be unduly influenced by anyone else's opinion, individual or collective. Not that I should have worried: none of my top 10 made it to the Voice top 10. In fact, many of those albums in the Voice top 10 I have enormous problems with, personally and/or professionally, and I can't help but opine on them. I can divide that top 10 into several categories, starting with . . .

Bob is in a league of his own.

Given the way esteemed elderly critics gushed over 'Love and Theft' both before and after its September 11 release, Bob Dylan was a certainty to win the poll. So no surprises there. Personally, I quite like Bob, though I've failed to stay with him the distance, and I do agree that 'Love and Theft' is a very good album. He's clearly on a late life roll. All the same, when I listen to 'Love and Theft', which I have done quite a lot, I fail to see how it would win over new fans - to me it's just being Bob being Bob which, I admit, nobody does as well as Bob - and it's instructive that Robert Christgau points out in his accompanying statisticians' notes on the poll, that Dylan's popularity is about 50% higher among over-40s than under-40s. I can see that Bob won the poll by a landslide regardless but I do think it's a concern that he continues to cast such a shadow over contemporary music. The 'I couldn't have put it better myself' award goes to fellow Brooklyn-ite Jem Aswad, who writes that "the three-decade-long dominance of Dylan and the Beatles has created a stranglehold on rock music by dead (or nearly dead) white guys as tenacious as that in classical music....Enough already!"
The hippest albums of the year: The Strokes UK and pre-9/11 U.S. cover; the White Stripes; the Moldy Peaches.
I'll vote for it because I know everyone else is voting for it, then when it finishes in the top 5, everyone will be able to see how hip I am.

The Strokes' 'Is This It' is #2 album of the year; The White Stripes' 'White Blood Cells' is #4. The latter surprises me not at all, it's by far the hippest record of the year. The former comes as quite a shock, largely because most journalists I know here in the Strokes' home city of New York see the band as either hype or hope, but falling far short of greatness either way. In fact, I couldn't resist a quick survey of the ballots (published online here) where I checked out the first 10 New York writers who I know and/or respect that I could think of. Sure enough, only one of them (Jim Farber at the Daily News) voted for the Strokes. Christgau writes that both the Strokes and the White Stripes gained at least 15% of their vote from over-40s, which certainly says something about the need for these older journos to appear hip, especially in the face of delivering Dylan the nod; having said that, many of the New York-based writers whose ballots I studied are over 40 and they didn't vote for the Strokes. (The writers I checked out to test my theory, apart from Farber, were Michael Azerrad, Charles Aaron, Simon Reynolds, Ira Robbins, JD Considine, Jim Fouratt, Pat Blashill, Anthony de Curtis and Christgau himself.)

That the Strokes' critical constituency appears to have hailed from outside New York suggests several possibilities. 1) Writers outside the Big Apple weren't negatively affected by the hype and decided they simply loved the album. 2) Writers outside Manhattan were positively affected by the hype and voted for it out of herd instinct. 3) Writers outside New York ignored the hype entirely and are simply with the 'kids' on this one; after all, 'Is This It' has been top 40 on the album charts. (But then again, if the rock albums in the Voice Poll were voted for relative to popularity, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, and Staind would all be in the top 10, wouldn't they?)

For my part, I'm digging 'Is This It' a little more every time I hear it, and 'White Blood Cells' is a clearly a very good album, but I will still wager decent money that in just five years from now we will not be listening much to either. (R.E.M. share with the Strokes the honor of having their debut voted second best album in the Voice Poll; but 'Murmur' is in a different stratosphere from 'Is This It,' surely.) My view is that The White Stripes, like the Moldy Peaches (#31, and whose eponymous album I like very very much) have an exuberant appeal that has done much to spice up the underground this past year; the Strokes, as I write elsewhere on this site, are a good young band who got lucky and had the talent to ride that luck. All these acts have it in them to make classic albums; I just don't believe any of them has done so as yet. The 'I couldn't have put it better myself' award therefore goes to Michelangelo Matos from Manhattan who says of the Strokes: "I mean, they're good, but they're very monochromatic. Are people really so hungry for a Real Rock Band that they actually feel the Excitement! they claim? Or is it just an Oasis autohype thing?"
Some albums are just made for rock critics.

The stunningly high showing for Bjork's 'Vespertine' (#3) and Radiohead's 'Amnesiac' (#5) are the hardest for me to understand. Listen, I'm a fan of both acts. So much so that when these albums didn't arrive in the mail courtesy of the labels, I went out and bought the bloody things. Given that I parted with my own cash for them, I had every incentive to love these albums. But I didn't. And though I've gone back to each record several times, it's never been with relish. I feel genuine disappointment in each. They are dense, too smart for their own good, lacking the humor and humility (not to mention melodies) that made both acts so popular and acclaimed in the first place. Neither album scored particularly well with the fan base either: though I'm not certain about Bjork, I am sure that 'Amnesiac' struggled even to go gold. This suggests that my perspective is closer to that of the fans than the 'critics.' I know not to mistake an artist's popularity for their credibility, but I also believe that the audience is not stupid, especially the audience for once-cult acts that built their reputations by taking risks and making wonderful music. I am totally baffled. Totally.
Hip hop's still the bomb.

No doubt some of the votes for Jay-Z's 'The Blueprint' (#7) and The Coup's 'Party Music' (#8) came from black journalists, but I'll bet most came from white rock critics. Given that rap is so much about the delivery of words, it's no surprise that music journalists want to support the culture: I certainly did for a long time. In fact, when I moved to New York in my early twenties, I fell in love with hip-hop in a way I'd never done back in London: the music suddenly made sense to me once I was hearing it in its home country (and indeed, its home city). I attended scores of parties and concerts in New York, and because of the British fascination with hip-hop, I also got to report on the culture and interview most of its major figures. Public Enemy, Run DMC, LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, Naughty By Nature, Afrika Bambaataa, KRS-One, Ice Cube, Russell Simmons, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah...I talked to them all and for the most part, had a wonderful time doing so. So I'm extremely aware of how curmudgeonly I must sound when I say that now that I'm a dad in my mid-thirties, and time is at a premium, hip-hop/rap simply doesn't do it for me any more and I've stopped listening to it. Yeah, man, I pine for the old days, before gangsta rap took over, before it became all about bitches and ho's and before the entrepreneurs started assassinating each other's artists. The rap that pumps out of the jeeps and SUVs in Brooklyn doesn't do it for me the way that old school hip-hop did, nor the way techno or house still does. You see, for my part, I don't need clever lyrics on top of my dance beats. Fact, a lot of the time, I don't need lyrics at all, I'm quite happy listening to instrumental music for my dance floor kicks. . . All of which is an extremely long-winded precursor for saying I have no real comment on Jay-Z's talents.

The Coup, however, I think are cowards and liars and should be called on it. CONTINUE TO PART 2
The Best of 2001: Albums Songs Concerts Books
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