January 26, 2004
GO WEST, YOUNG MAN
Angus takes issue with my anti-poptimist post. He complains, memorably, that '[m]arshalling the judgment of history to your side is a bit like calling in the US Army: a lot of your allies will end up as "collateral damage," while in the meantime the worst villains go untouched.' I'm not sure my point was about marshalling the judgment of history so much as resisting the indiscrimination of contemporaneity. Detached hindsight and involved 'now' sight- strike me as a classic 'double pincer': an ostensible oppostion whose two poles actually reinforce and complement one another. My point was that there's an overwhelming pressure, a neuronic pressure - as the nervous system is blitzed by hyperstimulus, by the ambient barrage of publicity - to not see beyond the Now.
I'm naturally with Angus all the way in his loathing for 'the the dread cult of "authenticity" and "realness" and "soulfulness."' What I find slightly puzzling is his opposing Go West to this: weren't Go West sold as "soulful Pop"? They were part of that same hideous anschluss between horribly clunky eighties synthetics and soulful authenticity that reached its apogee with Gabriel's 'Sledgehammer.' As for Angus' plea - 'In a fair world, wouldn't Sting be regarded as just as much a joke as Go West?' I thought he was!
Posted by mark at January 26, 2004 09:47 PM
I'm not sure the Poptimists are being as indiscriminate as you think, Mark - maybe they/we just aren't bothering to write or comment about the stuff we hear and don't like! Only so many hours in the day, after all.
You're probably right Mark, I don't really remember Go West that well to be completely honest! But in any case I don't suppose it's their soulful authenticity that's caused them to be swept aside by the tide of historyotherwise all other soulful and authentic artists of the mid-80s would have suffered a similar fate!
Of course Sting is regarded as a joke by you and me...I guess what I meant was that no cheap ironist would make a TV show about how awful and kitsch the 80s were and use Sting as an exhibit; he's not an instant, universally recognisable joke in the way Go West are.
(If still unconvinced, substitute Joshua Tree era U2.)
Incidentally ILM regular The Pinefox is a big fan of Go West and swears by their first record. When we were at karaoke the other week he did a rousing version of "We Close Our Eyes" which went some way to redeeming it. I do wish he had a weblog, if only because I'm sure he wouldn't stand idly by while the blogosphere gather to give 'soulfulness' its annual kicking!