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Saturday, 11 June 2011

1986: indie-rock can't turn around

Darryl Pandy's death gets me thinking about that great year in music: 1986.

(Actually, I reckon every year is a great year in music if you're listening hard enough, but anyway ....)

In '86, in my neck of the woods, post-punk or indie ruled. I was rushing around to see gigs from My Petrol Emotion, Felt or The Wolfhounds. Punk's afterlife was everywhere, even if it wasn't very punk. But hey, what was that repetitive, tinny but strangely hypnotic "disco"-like music. Yes, my fellow indie-rocker, that was house music and it had absolutely no guitars in it. Capisce?

The disco sucks mentality died hard amongst post-punkers (in some cases it never did at all), but I think house finally killed it off for a lot. The first commercial rap didn't count. Run DMC, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy et al, they came in an "acceptable" and "hard" white/rock packaging (Aerosmith, Led Zep riffs, identifiable JBs breaks). By comparison, house was ... bloody hell, it was disco, but not as we knew it. It was also borderline - or maybe well-over-the-border - "gay", as well, so another leap of faith was required for some ...

@Historyatnight describes the Darryl Pandy "moment" extremely well (that TOTP performance is totally ... er, OTT), and, as well as the ecstatic experience of first-wave house and acid nights (this Hacienda video captures something about that), I think the coldish, abstract rhythms of Chicago house as a sound was extremely important.

For some people the whole scene seemed to be definitive. I had one friend, reared on the Ramones, Television and the Only Ones, who began to go around disparaging "indie crap like the Wedding Present" at about this time. Hmmm. I liked the WP as well, so found this year zero-type mentality hard to take. (Similarly, a hardcore Hacienda raver in my circle once recorded house music over one of my John Peel tapes that I'd lent - not to her - but to her housemate. "So what", she said when I asked her why she did it, "it was all shit anyway").

Hearing Darryl Pandy's fruity-voiced account of love not turning around for the first time didn't turn my musical world upside down. It just produced a few more chinks in my indie-rock armour. Chink chink.

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