Here we are again at the end of a year that feels like it only began the other week. It’s been a big one for lots of reasons, and I’ve gotten through it OK – I think? – but I have to take issue with my hopeful belief in the last one of these things that I’d somehow get more motivation in 2022.
In keeping with my lack of motivation, this recap may be a little shorter than previous years, but I’m hoping there’s still something in here that might pique your interest. It’s a collection of stuff that I enjoyed (or didn’t) through this year, and is one in a continuing line. Faintly ridiculous effort, but this will make it ten years of this kinda stuff, so let’s go.
SO we grind to the end of another year, and I appear, like some kind of obnoxious groundhog, ready to dispense my wisdom. If, by “wisdom” you mean “half-assed picks of Stuff Which Was Pretty OK In This Terrible Year”.
I’ll insert a caveat here: like, well, everyone, this year has been a struggle for me. We’re rolling toward the third instalment of 2020 and increasingly I find that concentration takes a kick in the nuts for every COVID variant found. A lot of the plans I had made at the beginning of the year haven’t come to pass because I’ve either lacked the bandwidth to execute them, or because I’ve been so goddamned tired. I haven’t read as much as I would have liked, and I haven’t listened to as much music as I’d hoped. There’s been a bit of persistent fog around through the year and it’s made it difficult to do anything than just exist, sometimes.
I came to this book as many did, I suspect, because it featured on that list of David Bowie’s 100 favourite books which circulated a couple of years ago. (The list also is explored in a podcast, if you’re interested.)
It makes sense that Bowie would be a fan of this work, given that it’s an enthusiastic, bitchy exploration of early rock. After all, the work is titled for Little Richard’s protean good-time yawp from ‘Tutti Fruitti’, the song that made Bowie “see God”.
After a couple of years of looking, I found a copy replete with terrifying cover. It was written in 1968 and revised in 1972. Kit Lambert, erstwhile manager of The Who introduces the work and sets things rolling: the text covers a brief period in music, but one of supreme importance for everything rock-related that came afterwards. All that’s covered is the period from Bill Haley’s initial popularity until 1966 – that’s it.
I suppose this year hasn’t exactly been kind to my interpretation of, y’know, time, so it’s not a surprise that this has crept up on me. Anyway, for the benefit of me and the dick-pill spambots that flood my comments section, I guess it’s time to chunk out some words about things I liked this year.
As ever, I’m a bit uncertain as to why I do this. It feels like a bit of an indulgence, but I suppose it does allow me a bit of breathing space to look back at the year through the prism of entertainment and formulate some thoughts about it. Whether they’re any good is still up for debate, but before we get too deep in the ontological weeds, let’s get on with it.
So Pulp, eh? Possibly – nah, probably – the best band to emerge from the Britpop years of hype and arse-smacking heroin chic.
The group – in existence since 1978, if you can believe it – weren’t typically sexy. I mean, there was an effort to evoke a certain PR sexiness from lyricist Jarvis Cocker’s gangly frame, but it wasn’t the body that made him sexy: it was the combination of his writing, and of sex itself.
Doom? Doom. DOOOOOOOOOOOOM. It’s a good word. One of those multiple-vowel words that have a plasticity turned to enjoyable goop by repetition. It’s also a type of metal music, though it furcates into numerous equally heavy (though to outsiders, often similar-sounding) strands.
Doom music is an unmitigated bummer, a reminder that Life Is Hard So Why Bother sung from basements at brain-rattling volume through equipment that smells like spilled bong water and hot dust. It’s a release in only the way realising you’ve reached the bottom of the barrel can be. It’s about [dis]comfort with horror, and in its original form emerged as a reaction against post-war austerity, industrial isolation and the general Shittiness of Living. It’s something you’d expect to be extremely un-fun, which it is, but luxuriating in that precise bummedness is, well, if not fun, enjoyable.
It’s a genre that’s only bound together by a spirited fuck you. Its denizens run the gamut, from church-burning nihilists to hairspray-supported hedonists; from kvlt blackness to tits-out stupidity. From funereal dirges to brain-freezing speed runs. The sublime to the ridiculous. Speed to heroin. True to poser.
It’s got it all. It just adds studs and unreadable logos.
I’d been looking forward to reading this for a long time. I’d sweated on the ebook availability of Tricky’s autobiography, as it wasn’t clear if there’d even be one, and when I finally checked back and there was one, I hoped I wouldn’t be disappointed with the book.
(I mean, I was, but that’s unsurprising for an autobiography: they’re rarely the documents we desire.)
However this one begins as it means to go on:
My first memory is seeing my mum in a coffin, when I was four years old.
That’s a better opener than I’d any right to expect, so I was hooked.