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Monday, October 29, 2012

Why do rock fans pretend they've *always* been into things?

I watched "Last Orders", the BBC 4 doc about Chas and Dave.

It must be funny being them. They've played the same music for over forty years. Sometimes they've sold a lot of records, sometimes they haven't. Sometimes they've played big halls, sometimes they've played small ones.  During that time they must have been aware that their star rose and fall according to the public mood.

Now they find that the music, which has never changed, is suddenly acceptable to the people who decide what's acceptable. Hence a BBC 4 documentary full of talking heads talking about how most people didn't realise that Chas & Dave have been acceptable for years. A clip is shown from a Jools Holland New Year's Show in which Ben Elton and Hugh Laurie enthuse about them with the shifty expression of men who suspect that the wind has changed in the last ten minutes. Even Pete Doherty is hauled out to perform his own fuddled benediction. Are there really people who would have their minds changed about music on their say-so?

The show is so full of people who apparently liked them all the time that you wonder where it got its revisionist zeal from. You wonder why the people who used to do them down aren't represented. If the film is all about presenting them in a new light, wouldn't it be natural to look at them in the old light for a minute or two? I suspect that the old light would have been the same light in which all British working class entertainment is seen as corny while working class entertainment from Louisiana or Lusaka is regarded as edgy and cool. In many ways this version of the cultural cringe would have been as interesting as Chas & Dave themselves.

Of all the arts pop music is the one in which people change their minds most often. Why is it also the one where they're least likely to admit that they do so?