Personal (and general) Musical Pinnacles.

I wanted to write a post about what, for ME, are/were the pinnacle points in music. But not just generalized, but in my life, my musical taste.

I’ll start with 1972, the height of Glam rock. Glam is a genre of music I still love to this day. One of my favourite albums of all time is The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars, released in 1972. I suppose Glam rock really started in around 1970 with Marc Bolan and T-Rex of which there are songs I do like. I like Cosmic Dancer, Metal Guru, Children of the Revolution, among others. Most of the songs and groups I love though for me, Glam rock peaked around 1972. If it hadn’t been for Glam, we probably would not have had David Bowie. He’d been around for several years already and had a modicum of success with Space Oddity, but it was very much a one-hit wonder thing for him until Ziggy. So for me the first pinnacle year is 1972. It gave us Glam and it gave us Bowie.

The next pinnacle year – 1977. The height of new, electronic music. It gave us Kraftwerk and a newly directed Bowie, giving us in that one year two of his three Berlin Trilogy albums, Low and “Heroes”, whilst also producing and co-writing on Iggy Pop’s The Idiot and Lust For Life. A very prolific period for him indeed and gave us electronic gems like A New Career In A New Town (Low) and Sense of Doubt (“Heroes”). This sound would pave the way for New Wave and later, dance music in general. Many groups point to Kraftwerk and 1977 Bowie as inspiration.

From there, we go to 1981. Two musical genres collide here to make a very exciting time musically. New Wave and New Romanticism clash to make one of the best periods of modern pop music history. The acts are just rich! The songs as well. Human League’s Don’t You Want Me, Soft Cell’s cover of Tainted Love, Ultravox’s Vienna, Duran Duran’s Planet Earth are just some of the songs and acts swilling around. Basically, from this point until 1984 is probably my most loved era of music. It probably mostly coincides with my being a young teen and getting my own defining taste of music, but I just love this period of music. I don’t love ALL 80’s music, I don’t love ALL of the 80’s! There is a marked, audible decline in music by 1985 as far as I’m concerned, which has lead to the predominance of the over-manufactured pop we get now. I lay the blame solely at the hands of Stock, Aitken and Waterman. These men should be hung, drawn and quartered for their “contribution” to music. We do have things to thank them for, Kylie Minogue, Mel and Kim and Rick Astley. But also they gave us The Reynolds Sisters, Sonia, and changed Bananarama’s career for the worse as far as I’m concerned. There was amazing music from 1981 to 1984. It was if not the best period of modern musical history, then it’s definitely in the top three!

I must mention in this gap, there was the break-up of The Smiths. A group that sadly escaped my attention until the late 80’s at the earliest. I was definitely into them by the early 90’s though. Just had to mention them.

Next, a little detour around 1991. We get the first wave of dance music with things like Dee-lite’s Groove Is In The Heart. And we also get…Nirvana! And grunge. But no-one ever thinks of grunge without Nirvana. But of course there were other pioneers. Sonic Youth, Beck, The Breeders, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, and even a few “harder than grunge” acts like Alice In Chains and Soundgarden. A good little beginning for what is now probably labeled EMO music.

Next, 1995 – the second Brit invasion with Britpop. LOVED this period too. Before the invasion though, and me discussing it, I have to make a mention of Bjork. She came in the wave of the rave scene of the early 1990’s with her Debut album in 1993. A pinnacle album for me. Just had to mention it as it’s sort of between timelines. Anyway, on to 1995. A Brit wave began. It must have been odd for some groups as they’d been around for some time before really breaking, like Pulp. They had formed way back in 1978, but didn’t really make mainstream impact until Common People and the Different Class album. Blur had been around a few years, had a minor hit with There’s No Other Way in 1991, but it wasn’t until 1994’s Park Life did they really come into prominence. Other acts of note were of course, Oasis, Supergrass, Suede and The Verve. Loved, LOVED Britpop. Being such a musical Anglophile, I found it fab.

Penultimate of the musical pinnacles for me is around 1999 when I moved to the UK and found myself in a resurgence of dance music and chill-out stuff. I bought several “chill-out” albums in the early Naughties. Mostly all Ministry of Sound produced. There was stuff like Alice DJ, DJ Spiller, Armend Van Helden, Groove Armada, Basement Jaxx, Avalanches, The Chemical Brothers (although around for some time), Goldfrapp, Royksopp, Air, William Orbit, all making an impact on my listening taste. I very much enjoy this genre of music.

Last of the pinnacles is 2005. Lots of new indie bands make their way to the mainstream. Two of my current faves, Franz Ferdinand and The Killers come to prominence then. As well as the Kaiser Chiefs and groups like The Futureheads. Also to come on the scene a little later was The Feeling.

Well, that’s it. My musical pinnacles. Let me know what you think.

My next topic for music will be my list of Scottish acts I like.