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Calgary Herald : U2 can soar like Eagles but Rolling Stones gather no moss

samedi 21 juin 1997

Source : Calgary Herald

From The Calgary Herald :

U2 can soar like Eagles but Rolling Stones gather no mossPETER STOCKLAND, CALGARY HERALD

Exactly when did popular music become the exclusive preserve of villageidiots ?

It is the question that came to mind a few days ago when I opened myCalgary Herald to a picture of two men who were identified as members of a musical ensemble, yet were dressed in costumes that made them look likestupefied bumble bees.

Reading on, I discovered the insectoidal flute-tootlers were principals inthe group called U2 which has reportedly sold millions of records worldwide.

In fact, it sold one of them to me. I actually listened to it. Well, part of it.Once. I might have listened longer, but when the initial noise came whooshing out of my high-fidelity stereo system, I assumed the littlecompact-disky thing was in the player upside down.

It was not. Which obviated the need to hear more.

The rightness of my decision was confirmed when I read Herald colleagueJames Muretich’s description of the deflated party hats who comprise U2 as they appeared during their recent Edmonton performance.

For example, the man who plays the bass guitar was reportedly clad in"orange overalls, a surgeon’s mask and a hard-hat" while the man who sings sported "a boxer’s cape and hood."

The obvious question is : Why ? What in the name of Guy Lombardohappened to playing music wearing a sensible suit, shirt and tie or, if theoccasion warrants, a tux and tails ?

After all, the only reason for dressing like a sky-shouting lunatic (a surgeon’smask and a hard-hat, indeed !) is because you are a sky-shouting lunatic. Which is fine. It’s a big world with plenty of room for lunacy, sartorial andotherwise.

What disturbs me is that 50,000 otherwise sensible people shelled out up to$60 each to see a group of men dressed like the urban unfortunates who stand on street corners alternately begging for nickels and shrieking vulgaritiesat the clouds.

Clearly, these ticket-buyers spent their coin on the assumption the entertainmentprovided would be close to the acme of current popular musical excellence. I donot even dispute that it represents such a pinnacle. What I must know is how itcame to pass that the best available is indistinguishable from the clinically deranged.

When I asked co-workers about this conundrum, they shushed me withplatitudes about the modern world’s need for spectacle and urged me to get over yearning for that happier time when the Singing Nun performed in herbeautifully simple wimple.

Yet it doesn’t seem right to simply dismiss this issue so lightly. Not when I candemonstrate a direct correlation between the rise of certifiably insane costuming and the decline of popular music into gibberish.

Few would disagree that, with rare exceptions, popular music produced since thefirst half of 1966 has been worthless trash. Well, few people I know at any rate.OK, how about members of my immediate family ?

All right. I think my wife would generally agree. . . .

Anyway, the period in question corresponds exactly to the time when PerryComo effectively hung up his white cardigan, when Frank Sinatra stopped wearing a fedora — and when the Beatles appeared in a tapedperformance on the Ed Sullivan show wearing grubby beards, unwashed hair and sloppy shirts in place of their trade-mark Mersey-side mod suits.

Even so, the field was not immediately yielded to the Liverpool louts and theirunwashed imitators.

Diana Ross and the Supremes, for example, were so fashionably and hygienicallyfetching during the late 1960s that they starred in a deodorant commercial, raisingsyncopated sleeveless arms to reveal armpits as silky-smooth and fresh as theirsongs.

Likewise, the Osmond siblings, Donny and Marie, wore performance attireas unadorned and wholesome as the tunes they sang to thrill millions.

Yet the beast unleashed would not be denied. Singularly awful music wasincreasingly marketed through the gimmickry of inane haberdashery, preposterous stage sets and promotion of supercilious poseurs such as DavidBowie, Kurt Cobain and, latterly, Mr. Bono of U2.

At some point — who knows where ? who knows when ? — the music itself becameso pitiful it was no longer possible to pretend it mattered at all. The show went on.It goes on. And will as long as people are willing to pay $60 to watch what theycould see on the poorer street corners of any major city.

Indeed, I read that presently in Calgary a musical man named Marilyn Mansonand his singing group will display their particular brand of G-sharp psychosis forlocal fans. The village is damned.

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