Thursday, October 30, 2003

INTO THE PETRIDISH: Following on from last week's Best 40 US acts, Alexis Petridis did a webchat a couple of days ago to defend the list. He actually came over as more likeable as the chat progressed, but he started by giving his opinion on the current state of the pop papers:

I think the current music press is OK - pretty much everything seems to get covered somewhere. It's pretty easy to criticise the music press in England (I do it a lot myself), but you see the music press in America and it's absolutely shocking - really conservative, really badly written.

It depends what you're looking at, though, surely? America has got Punk Planet and Maximum Rock & Roll, plus the Onion AV Club (which is more adventurous than anything in the UK); if you want conservative, you don't have to go airside in Heathrow to see Classic Rock, Mojo, Uncut - any number of titles which exist solely to service the concept of a Rock Canon.

Then there's a nice little two-way between Petridis and DucdePommfrit , who suggests that The Guardian should leave behind America and Britain and concentrate on "anywhere that doesn't stink of rock." Challenged that music is all a bit pants now, he does his best to be positive but " it has to be said, there are fewer good new bands this year than last year. I like The Fiery Furnaces though.

Then, of course, there's this: "As I reached my thirties, started considering marriage and fatherhood, I found myself inexplicably drawn to Dire Straits. I began to regret that I'd got rid of my copies of Making Movies and Love Over Gold in a fit of indie puritanism circa 1987 and became curiously excited whenever I heard Sultans Of Swing on a gold station. I think their music affects part of the male brain once you hit 30. You can't fight it.
And have you ever seen the video for Romeo And Juliet? - it's the greatest piece of music-related cinema ever made.

Which is just wrong. Romeo and Juliet is an okay song, but everything else Dire Straits did reeks of small pubs in towns off the A5. I thought when Sultans came out that they must have been about forty-five, but they weren't, were they? They were actually young-ish people. It's incredible. The real sin is not that Petridis wants his Making Movies back, it's that he ever had the bloody things in the first place.

He salvages himself by describing The Mars Volta as a jazz-prog jam band, mind. And he puts in a cracking defence of including Pink in the list - when challenged that he won't be writing about her in 2013, he responds "I should hope not" and makes the obvious point that right now she's more significant than Springsteen, say. (Although in that case, why no Britney in the list?). And he scores the pub quiz pedant's point for pointing out in BLOCK CAPITALS that the REASON NEIL YOUNG wasn't on the list of best US bands was his Canadianism.

Coming soon: The Best 40 Music Writers ever.

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