Simon Reynolds on post-disco, pre-grunge and other musical eras that don’t have names

At Slate,  Simon Reynolds writes persuasively and intelligently about contemporary music. He is, in fact, that rarest of things these days, a critic in command of his material:

Pop music history is biased toward “the right place and the right time.” Just like its respectable elder relative, rock history, with its decisive battles and seismic elections, pop history fixates on origins and breakthroughs, magic years of transformation, cusp points when undergrounds go overground. It gives far less attention to those stretches of time between the upheavals—years of drift and diaspora, periods without an easily discernible “vibe,” zeits devoid of geist. Geographically, too, pop historians favor major metropolises over the provinces and suburbs. Time and again, they locate the motor of pop change in small cliques operating out of major cities like New York and Berlin or secondary cities like Manchester, U.K., or Seattle that briefly assert themselves as the place to be.

I’ve been an obsessive music fan for 30 years, a “professional fan,” aka critic, for 22 of them, yet I’ve ever managed to be in “the right place at the right time” only once, maybe twice. Pretty poor going for someone living first in London and then in New York. But partly because of this recurrent feeling of belatedness and partly because I spent my teenage years in a suburban commuter town, I’ve long had a special interest in those expanses of pop time that get skipped over quickly by pop chroniclers.

The full article is well worth a read. Did you know Reynolds coined the term ‘post-rock”?

 

op music history is biased toward “the right place and the right time.” Just like its respectable elder relative, rock history, with its decisive battles and seismic elections, pop history fixates on origins and breakthroughs, magic years of transformation, cusp points when undergrounds go overground. It gives far less attention to those stretches of time between the upheavals—years of drift and diaspora, periods without an easily discernible “vibe,” zeits devoid of geist. Geographically, too, pop historians favor major metropolises over the provinces and suburbs. Time and again, they locate the motor of pop change in small cliques operating out of major cities like New York and Berlin or secondary cities like Manchester, U.K., or Seattle that briefly assert themselves as the place to be.
I’ve been an obsessive music fan for 30 years, a “professional fan,” aka critic, for 22 of them, yet I’ve ever managed to be in “the right place at the right time” only once, maybe twice. Pretty poor going for someone living first in London and then in New York. But partly because of this recurrent feeling of belatedness and partly because I spent my teenage years in a suburban commuter town, I’ve long had a special interest in those expanses of pop time that get skipped over quickly by pop chroniclers

 

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