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What I learned from a terrible rock and roll song
When musicians talk about music that inspired them, they often talk about classic tunes that have inspired generations of listeners. Or they go down the extremely obscure route to derive cool points.
Admittedly, this is me going down the extremely obscure route, but I’m hoping to explain why.
But first, here’s the song, all 90 seconds of Go Little Sputnik by The Brentwoods. Quite possibly the worst produced song of all time.
I should say I know nothing more about the band, other than this utter joy of a single.
What I do know is that there was a mid 90s garage rock scene in America that led the way for the more mainstream success of The White Stripes or The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. The bigger bands of the scene were acts like The Mummies, Oblivians (sic) and Supercharger. The key label in the scene was Estrus Records.
Even for such a minor, forgotten to history music scene as this, The Brentwoods would barely be a footnote.
Alistair, the drummer in my band was a huge fan of the scene and did me a much treasured C90 compilation of tracks from his vinyl collection. This song was stuck somewhere two-thirds of the way through the second side.
I know so little about the band and the scene because it came from a pre-internet era, and I’m quite happy not knowing anything about them.
And if you listen to the song, you might wonder why on earth I’m even writing a blog about it.
Musically, the song is the worlds most obvious, generic I-IV-V blues chord sequence imaginable. The lyrics are asinine, repetitive and barely comprehensible. The performance is barely competent. The mono recording - I struggle to use the term ‘production’ - sounds like it was recorded in a biscuit tin that was inside another biscuit tin.
But absolutely none of that matters. In fact, it actually helps the song.
What matters most in music is not high-fidelity stereo production, from masters of the recording studio. Its musical incompetence shines above many far more accomplished musicians. Its simplicity is it’s greatest strength.
Because what matters far, far more than any of these normal metrics is it’s intent.
The song does not aim to be anything more than 90 seconds of the ultimate in raw rock and roll. Its infectiously fun. Every time I play it, I play it straight away again. It’s the sound of three people in a room having the best time together playing their stupid music. And I adore it.
So as an electronic musician, producer, composer or whatever it is that I do, I know that my music has to have an intent, a mood, a purpose. And nothing matters as much as trying to capture that meaning behind the music.
Now if only I can find a copy of this on Discogs…