Tuesday, 14 July 2009

The Plane that Rocked

The plane that rocked

So here I am flying over Godthab in Greenland on my way to L.A.
Godthab, Greenland. Home of the Vikings. Very inhospitable, cold, icy home.
And only a semi-permanent home upon excursions for pillage from Scandinavian shores.
It’s interesting the idea of launching and leaving for a better place when things get rough. Or looking for new horizons. It takes a lot of guts I think. It’s not just running away, its braving the unknown. Leaving known boundaries, rules, territory.
Can you imagine being in a time when there were still places on earth unexplored? What a rush! What a nerve. What a great hope.

I feel the same kind of jealousy for the joy of exploration and discovery when watching “The Boat that Rocked” and thinking about radio - I just saw there film here on the plane. Bringing rock to the masses, introducing people to Hendrix to people for the first time, whilst he was alive I can only imagine what that was like. Presenting radio back in 1966 wasn’t like it is now. At that point it was before the conventions and mainstays of radio existed, when every show was still a discovery, and every piece of vinyl that arrived in your letterbox a potential new treasure. When Djs were the listeners connection with music and new releases, when presenters had the ability to change the outlook of music totally, introduce new bands and new types of music – even import music like the blues, and through the presenters understanding and connection to it, thousands of new converts then came to the altar of rock n roll.
Nowadays, there are so many bands, so many demos, so many new tapes. Legends like John Peel managed to make their way through all or most of what was sent to them, but if you are a presenter with a very full time job too, it’s unrealistic to do that.
But the cynicism is what is more annoying – my cynicism to new arrivals in my letterbox, compared with my total admiration for old masters, and my fervent wish that I could play listeners music that would change their lives the way that the original radio presenters did at the dawn of rock n roll.
Rock n roll should be rebellious, now however radio is mostly inside the law. Especially in rock – and its ironic that the only pirate radio stations these days are pretty much jungle or reggae. It said at the end of “The boat that rocked” that there’s something like 299 stations in the UK now that play rock and pop 24/7. None of those I should think are pushing the boundaries and breaking the law like music radio did in the early days. I would love to be able to push the envelope with my shows more – but what is there to do that hasn’t been done already – Howard Stern took most things as far as they could go, and in reality his kind of shock jock is more about the jock than the music, and what I really love is being able to play people music that I love that they end up loving too.
A discovery. A new continent. Although I get the feeling that if Rock n roll was the Continent, Metal was a state, and nowadays I just got the crumbs.
That’s not to belittle the new bands out there that I love – Wolf, Grand Magus, Municipal Waste, Cauldron etc.
But when you compare the first spin of those records to the first hearing of Sabbath…ever.
Or the first time the blues was played on UK shores.
You can’t really say its on the same level.
Its like I was down on Greenland in the cold, and those moments at the beginning of the airwaves were at 10363m, like this plane is now.

It’s a great film though!

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