Dilution of Vital Forms

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mosespa
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Dilution of Vital Forms

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Kerry King wrote: Tue Aug 03, 2021 6:13 pmIt would be great if you and Mosespa could discuss Bowie's process of watering down vital American musical forms in his pursuit of fame and fashion sales. Or maybe a quick essay on the importance of costume changes when the music just isn't enough. Hell, I'd settle for a 25 word blurb describing the celebration of mediocrity that is Diamond Dogs, Aladdin Sane, or any other piece of commercial fluff from the MainMan era.
I'm not going to be Bowie-specific, but maybe this'll satisfy? *shrug*

Two years ago, I began listening to "podcasts." I had previously thought of them as "pre-recorded programs," a thing which predates the intertube, but apparently a new name was needed; I missed the questionnaire, so had no input and now just have to roll with it.

Anyway...

I was recently afforded the opportunity to be a guest on a podcast I've come to adore over the last year or so; an album-review podcast in which (at my suggestion,) we took a look at The Verve Pipe's (note the name difference, please,) 1996 album "Villains." There were only two other people, another guest (a regular) and the host, so I kinda knew what I was in for: I was basically going to be defending the album while the other guest was taking the (hilariously) critical side and the host was ostensibly taking a middle ground, being completely unfamiliar with the album beforehand. I was going to get slaughtered and love every second of it.

So...The Verve Pipe (for those who don't know) are often derided as band-wagon jumpers on the Grunge or Post-Grunge scene, depending on who you talk to. They're known as a one-hit wonder, but they had a three-album streak that was probably about as good as anyone else's favorite Indie band that got a shot at the gold ring; with "Villains" being the one album that I feel is all killer, no filler.

That's just my take, yours will probably vary.

One thing that was mentioned a few times on the podcast was that there seemed to be a calculated grab going on, here. One could argue that they were specifically tailoring their sound to hit the mainstream, but I feel it would be just as fair to say that they had "progressed" from the previous album. One could argue that the production is overly commercial and radio-friendly, but one could also argue that they got a bigger budget and hired a better producer (Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads, for anyone keeping score at home,) who understood the studio and the equipment, etc.

We're they just ripping everyone off or were they just going with the times?

Kiss were one of my first favorite bands (I was six,) and if there's ever been anything more commercialized than Kiss, I'm unaware of it. Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley freely admit that "Hotter Than Hell" was an attempt at re-writing "All Right Now" and "Deuce" is taken straight from "Bitch" by The Rolling Stones.

Here, we have someone watering down what's already been watered down.

And I'm okay with it, I suppose. I write songs and stuff, I rip people off all the time. What's that old saying about how "good" artists innovate, but "great" artists steal? "We're ALL fuckin' thieves..."--Ozzy Osbourne

The argument could be made that the "watering down" is just a "progression" of the form. After all, 12-Bar Blues is 12-Bar Blues and the only reason to play it in the first place is because you think you have something to bring to the table. Without the watering down, the original form can only stagnate; and I don't think anyone finds that desirable.

I've often half-joked that Rock Music is at its greatest when it's white people stealing from black people; because when that happens, you get The Doors and The Yardbirds and Zeppelin but when white people rip off white people, you get...Warrant. Nickleback.

Eeeeeeeew.

So, I'm okay with "watering down vital American musical forms" in the pursuit of fame and fortune because that's really kind of the name of the game everyone's playing, anyway, isn't it? I don't care how "pure" anyone says they are, the ONLY reason anyone becomes a performer is because they want all eyes on them. It's the nature of the beast and the very second you take a penny for it, you're selling out.

Want to be a completely pure artist? Go live in isolation and perform only for the local wildlife and die in obscurity.

Because that's Purity for ya!

Bitch about Bowie ripping off Soul music all you want. Without him, we might not know who Luther Vandross is.
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Re: Dilution of Vital Forms

Post by flashback »

Pretty good take on that Mos. I want to see what someone's counterpoint will be.
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Re: Dilution of Vital Forms

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mosespa wrote: Wed Aug 04, 2021 1:35 pm I'm okay with "watering down vital American musical forms" in the pursuit of fame and fortune because that's really kind of the name of the game everyone's playing, anyway, isn't it?
Everyone? Like Sun Ra? Which game? If one is in it for the music then the name of the game is expressing oneself authentically. Building on what came before and trying to keep it potent. Watering down music is like watering down drinks. If you do it all the time you lower the standards and you lower people's expectations about potency and/or quality. It's a dumbing-down. If I have a glass of orange juice I want it to be all oranges. If I'm drinking pure orange juice on one side of the street, then one day I pay the same price for some watered down oj from the other side of the street, I'll feel ripped off. I am ripped off. Music is nourishment. I don't think people should be deprived of the real stuff. It's almost always best at the source. If I want Philly Soul I'll go to Bunny Sigler not David Bowie.

As for fame and fortune, if that's the primary motivation then the music will suffer.
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Re: Dilution of Vital Forms

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Yes, like Sun Ra. The minute he accepted a penny for playing, he became a "sell-out."

You wouldn't even know his name had he not sold out.

Like I said in my initial post, which either you didn't read or you skimmed over this part, if one wishes to practice "pure musicianship," then go live in solitude and make sure another human being NEVER hears your music. Science seems to have proven that observation affects outcome. This being the case, the minute you have an audience, you are changing what you do.

Purists are the reason the whole "Alternative Revolution" of the 90's collapsed like it did. Too much in-fighting over who had valid "cred" and who didn't.

It's music. It's an art. If it doesn't evolve, it become stagnant and dies. What you call "watering down," I call "evolution" and according to what I understand about ideology today, if you disagree with me, you're just a big ol' meanie-meanie Nazifascist White Supremacist.
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Re: Dilution of Vital Forms

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mosespa wrote: Sun Aug 29, 2021 3:05 pm .

It's music. It's an art. If it doesn't evolve, it become stagnant and dies. What you call "watering down," I call "evolution" and according to what I understand about ideology today, if you disagree with me, you're just a big ol' meanie-meanie Nazifascist White Supremacist.
Mos you also left out ( or socialist/leftist). Labeling people either way that don't agree with us is bullshit.
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Re: Dilution of Vital Forms

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flashback wrote: Sun Aug 29, 2021 9:06 pm Mos you also left out ( or socialist/leftist). Labeling people either way that don't agree with us is bullshit.
I was quoting socialists/Leftists. You don't include the people you're making fun of when you make fun of the labels that they use.