Saturday, 11 June 2016

Guilty Pleasures (Part 11)


"The only performance that makes it - that really makes it, that makes it all the way - is the one that achieves madness. Right? Am I right? Are you with me?"
So says the character as played by Mick Jagger in Nic Roeg's Sixties mindbender of a film, Performance. It's a sentiment I've always tended to go along with but of course what is meant by 'making it' is open to interpretation. It can mean fame and fortune and all the trappings that can come with that: the mansions, the cocaine, the driving your television into the swimming pool and throwing your Rolls Royce out the hotel window. It can also mean artistic success as in realisation of artistic vision, art for art's sake, untainted vision, purity of intent and other such ideas from the William Blake school of thought.

I want my pop stars to be fat and bloated Elvis Presley style, shooting at the television with a golden pistol whilst overdosing on qualludes. I want them locked in permanent childhood Michael Jackson style, riding their own private rollercoaster at midnight and having sex with their pet monkey. I want them in full-blown fucked-up mode a la Sid Vicious; heroin tracks down their arms, on stage with a bloody nose and 'gimme-a-fix' carved into their chest.
I want my pop stars to be idealogical puritans, strict of vision like Crass. I want them ploughing their own path without concessions to commercialism like Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band, or without a hint of even a nod to populist appeal like Laurie Anderson or Extreme Noise Terror of old.

I once saw a band of mental health patients playing a concert at a local community hall that could so easily have been a scene from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. They weren't exactly musically adept, in fact they couldn't play their electric guitars at all but it was brilliant. It was as though through their music and performance they were communing with God. That's how I like my bands.

"Some days I'd wake up and hear birds singing and I couldn't tell if they were outside my window or in my head."
So said Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys after a long period of blasting his mind to smithereens with drugs. If ever a band could be said to have acquainted themselves with madness then it would be The Beach Boys who at one point even managed to pull psycho warlord Charles Manson and his Family into their orbit. It's the stuff of legend and it's these things that come to mind when I think of The Beach Boys. Who truly understands madness, I wonder? Only the mad themselves, I'd wager.
"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat "We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."

Next month Beach Boys tribute band The Beach Boys Band are coming to Exmouth and what a load of old tosh you might say? Or you might say you only like The Beach Boys for their songs and their harmonies? And that's fair enough. But when I think of The Beach Boys I think Death Valley '69. Dune-buggy attacks. Smile. Cease To Exist. Teenage symphonies to God. Bleached white bones in California desert. Death pickings at Madison Square Gardens. Helter Skelter. Two Lane Blacktop. Good Vibrations. God Only Knows.

I think if we all take the right drugs it could be an interesting night.
See you all there, psychonauts.

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