Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Tower Records est morte

I've long obtained to the theory that in the instance of giant stores like Tower, their (non-kid music) deep catalogue exists mostly as a context via which to validate the contemporary swill that accounts for the overwhelming majority of their sales, i.e stuff like Puke, Tavist-D, Urban Sprawl, the Triffids, the Tampons, Martha Proud and the Birth of God, etc. That's the way this garbage has always been sold to the public, as shilled by noxious so-called "reviewers" in Rolling Stone, etc. in the part they play in (pace Richard Meltzer) the "record industry food chain." In other words, as the alleged continuum of the ages-old stream of real music.

Americans are far too anhedonic just to enjoy music qua music and let it go at that, and so it's got to have heft, meaning, significance etc. despite the fact that most of it upon arrival is already brain dead. If you look at most all of earlier rock crit, you will be hard-pressed to find a single review that doesn't allude to some higher form of artistic accomplishment. To wit, Lennon and McCartney as Rodgers and Hart, Brian Wilson as the logical musical extension of Gershwin, etc. Don't get me wrong. Not that there's anything wrong with the Beatles and the Beach Boys! Those are merely the two most obvious examples of the kind of rock crit that struggles to try and lend validity to most stuff that's not even fit to kiss the cuff of Duke Ellington's Saville Row-tailored slacks.

And it continues to this day. If you pick that current glossy rag Vibe (published by Quincy Jones no less!) devoted to rap/hip hop, you won't have to flip too many pages before you come across the names of the trendy likes of Miles Davis or John Coltrane, et al, who you and I both know wouldn't be caught dead listening to this s**t. (Be sure to wash your hands afterward.)

Without the--again---context of "Jazz," "Classical," "Theatre and Movies," "World," etc. sections in places like Tower to give this stuff class by association, it is to be hoped that most of current music fashion---most notably rap---will eventually be revealed for the selective non-conformity BS that it is. There's very little doubt in my mind that the non-junque--granted, one man's junque is another's Penderecki---in Tower's miles and miles of aisles accounted for an almost infinitessimally small amount of their sales. They just hadda have it there. The so-called "big box" stores like Best Buys, etc. don't even bother with this ploy anymore. Big bucks to the first among you who can find a Lee Wiley CD at Target.

Don't get me wrong, I deeply mourn the passing of Tower. Still, now that Jessica Simpson no longer exists side by side with Ella Fitzgerald two aisles over, how are the Kulture Kriminals gonna be able to continue marketing this stuff as anything other than what it is. . .the musical analogue to bagged spinach.

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