'American groups are very fluent. In any town you can find a bar with a jam band. There's places to play all the time. That doesn't happen much in Britain. English musicians are much less experienced and accomplished in a variety of styles. They're much less fluent. But when it comes to creating original pop music, it was an advantage because they had to reinvent the wheel. The fluency of American musicians led to a flattening out. They knew how to do everything but they just fit into long-established patterns. Whereas English people didn't. So you got a load of of English art students starting a band and not knowing what they wre doing and having to invent a way to play the original songs that had been written by the strong personality who led the band. And it was very effective in creating stuff that was genuinely a different take on this African American form.
Some of the most successful American things combine the two. What fascinated me about REM when I worked with them (Boyd produced Fables of the Reconstruction in a studio in Wood Green in 1985) was that they were like a mid-Atlantic meeting. You had Bill Berry and Mike Mills who were a good old boy rockin rhythm section who played frat parties for five years and could play anything. Then you had Stipe and Buck who were like English guys working in a record store reading liner notes, intellectuals who were trainspotterish about music and imagined things in their heads but had no real facility to do it. Peter Buck is not a guitar hero. He's a nerd who studied Fairport Convention records. Michael Stipe was full of all these ideas that he never thought he'd be able to do and then they met. That combination is what gave REM its power'.
Friday, March 12, 2010
interesting ... i just recently finished joe boyd's autobio "white bicycles". a great read which includes NOTHING about the band he's referencing. he commented on this elsewhere.