for the Polydor 'Revisionism' retrospective
As in politics, the history of pop
music is constantly open to revision according to the dictates
of fashion and popularity, and the motivation's invariably the
same: protection of status and position. The phenomenon currently
throwing the pop historians into a state of panic and confusion
is thre rise of Richard (ne Kid) Strange, a figure they closed
the book on with the passing of the Doctors of Madness.
knows nobody likes to be proved wrong, least of all historians.
So small wonder that the Doctors of Madness are suddenly everybody's
favourite cult band. Predictably few of their recently uncovered
admirers were prepared to make a cause celebre out of the group
back then, when their ideas were ahead of time and, more importantly,
always placed ahead of their musicianly abilities to fulfil
them. This all seemed to matter terribly when their first two
LPs, 'Late Night Movies All Night Brainstorms' and 'Figments
of Emancipation' were issued at the beginning and end of '76
before their attitudes had been propertly legitimised by the
flowering of punk. Barring inarticulacy, all the preoccupations
of the blank generation could be found in those two records
- the hopelessness, the nihilistic pure noise, speed pop and
even the horror-comic rechristening of the characters involved.
Additionally, grotesque humour and pained introspection disinguished
the Doctors from their earlier and later contemporaries, evidently
making them too difficult a group to grasp for those too busy
third and final LP, 'Sons of Survival' was their clearest, most
concise statement, yet by that time they'd been around too long
for the fad conscious to halt their blind rushed search for
the new long enough to notice. The rewards weren't coming, violinist
Urban Blitz walked out, but Kid Strange lashed out awhile, before
deciding to withdraw from the Doctors' more aggressive strategies
to plot a more insidious route for his rise, the efficacy of
which would prompt the reappraisals currently going on that
would eventually judge the Doctors of Madness 'correct'.
bemused by than bitter about the critical swing in his favour,
Strange is not one to gloat over the Doctors posthumous popularity,
proving though it does just how relative the supposedly relevant
arbiters of taste and opinion are.
then, is the Doctors of Madness history rewritten. The Doctors
of Madness made easy. Their themes and preoccupations plainly
arranged to leave as little room as possible for error or misinterpretation.
There is nothing sentimental about 'Revisionism;' unless the
two happen to coincide selections have been made primarily for
their utility value than on the basis of personal favourites.
all, 'Revisionism' is a vindication of the Doctors of Madness.
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