Moving music to move to - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #39

Well here it is, I mentioned Wishbone Ash last week and thought it was such a good idea that I just went and wrote it. An ode to dancing really with their seminal album as a jumping-in point. On a related note, as I write this the webternet is buzzing about “Before Watchmen”, a prequel series to the stunning Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons original. Alan Moore again proves how intelligent and upstanding he is by obstinately refusing to have anything to do with the project, though it is going ahead. Not only is this a monumentally stupid idea but the origins are not even veiled as creative. This from BleedingCool – “word came down from high at Warner to exploit any and all properties in the DC remit that could make money”... I mean, this decision, blisteringly idiotic though it may be, wasn’t even made by someone who thought that the Watchmen prequels would be a nice thing for people to read. They aren’t meant to be nourishing or exciting or even fun. Watchmen was created by two men who wanted to tell a big and important political story. The original Watchmen is one of my very favourite books, and now their intellectual property, God-allegory Dr. Manhattan and all of the extremely psychologically complex cast of characters are going to be milked because some shady-suited businessman who has never created anything in his miserable empty shell of an existence wants to add another billiard hall wallpapered with banknotes to his golden money palace. Dear reader, go out and find a copy of Watchmen (a compendium is best), try to find it second-hand so that those Warner cunts don’t get any of your money and enjoy it; it’s really something else and then totally ignore the new set when they come out. It’s important to make a stand and teach money-focussed twats that we are not cattle to be milked and hammer through to their heads that IP is not ‘property’ to be owned and traded and exploited, it’s someone’s work. If you work in this kind of soulless business and you’re reading this (firstly, run a bath and after reading this, cut your wrists, save the world from your putrid filth) MONEY IS PAPER. I WIPE MY ARSE WITH PAPER. Anyway. Wishbone Ash anyone?

I do like to fling my proverbial poo around quite a lot with regard to music and in particular reference to music ‘moving’ you. Usually this means emotionally; that the music makes you feel an emotion other than vague disgust and casual desire to put a shiny black .357 between your teeth in response to the grey sludge coughed up by cold emotionless robots with processors stuffed with pop-dollars that passes for entertainment in our beleaguered reality. Usually I’m gushing about how ‘moved’ I am by the quality of music, as music is after all emotion and colour expressed as sound, and it can make you elated or distressed or excited or scared or miserable or horny; that’s good music. But music can of course move us in another, less pretentious way. By dance.

Let me tell you, I don’t dance in people’s company... like, at all. The only time I even attempt any kind of gyrating motion to music is when I have rendered myself hilariously drunk – in which instance I resemble a coma-victim being stood up and zapped with a cattle prod - or when I’m alone. Much like singing in the shower, dancing is a method of musical enjoyment I only ever indulge in alone. Anyway, this all started with this week’s album, Argus by Wishbone Ash; when I was around fourteen, just starting to partake in all of those seismic life experiences that seem to plague people of that age; all in the space of a year or two I’d discovered I loved music and had a shave and noticed girls et cetera, one day I picked out Argus from a sheaf of records in a charity shop, only a pound? Thought I, worth a try. It was in the ‘rock’ section in which I’d just discovered I had some interest and it was just perfect for a just-turned-teen person. It didn’t have anything openly satanic on the cover, and the cover wasn’t black either (a sure sign of potentially confiscatable material – it would be some time before my mother would get me Appetite for Destruction to piss off my dad) but there was a medieval chap on the front with a spike thing, so maybe this album would have some teeth. So one of my first record purchases in-bag, I found to my excitement that while being nothing like heavy metal (which I was simultaneously fascinated by and terrified of, both because my parents didn’t let me have any) Argus was a stunning album that I spun many times then and many times since. It introduced me to something pretty seismic too, I realised I wanted to dance (wanted to, I didn’t say I could). Music that makes you want to gyrate and move about and nod head and tap feet. Apparently physical activity releases endorphins, happy hormones, which is why dancing makes you feel like a million quid, and it might have just a little to do with this hirsute, strummin’ devil’s racket pouring out your soundsystem.

It goes without saying it’s an excellent album. It comes out of the golden age of rock and roll, where mutual exchange of mind-blowing ideas gave us, for a few short years in the seventies: the best Black Sabbath, the best of Budgie, Grand Funk, Atomic Rooster, the Groundhogs, Captain Beyond, Dust, Deep Purple – In Rock, Mountain’s 18 month four-album stint, Pentagram’s best years, Sir Lord Baltimore, Blue Cheer, the Stooges; and of course, this. Wishbone Ash hang around on the lighter side of those records, but there is a good amount of the same feathery-fingered soloing present on Grand Funk’s self-titled record. The comparisons with Grand Funk don’t stop either, as with that record, there is a very deliberate notion to keep everything as simple as possible (perhaps simple is an unflattering word, uncomplicated, straightforward perhaps) to maximise the kind of first-listen instant fusion that makes it easy to dance. Once Wishbone Ash settle into a beat, you can be pretty sure that it’ll stay like that for the rest of the song and you can get down.

It takes a very different kind of song to move you as it does to make you move. You can’t dance to Porcupine Tree’s Collapse of Light into Earth but it just comes out of the music and hits you every time. I’m not sure Wishbone Ash will have too much to offer rock scholars in a hundred years as a moving piece of music, but you should definitely check it out because sometimes (I know I do) we forget that the best thing about music is that it can lose you in that exciting sweaty ecstasy of dance. Seek out this album, it’s bound to be found cheap somewhere, and see if you don’t feel it too.

Written under duress by Steven.

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