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Posts Tagged ‘Popular Music’

The Future has been Postponed: Making Sense of the Age of Nostalgia

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, May 9th 2018

Nostalgia is everywhere. The past seems all around us – alive, noisy, ever-present, and more relevant and dynamic than the voices of today and the concerns of tomorrow.

Take a couple of examples. The British Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn seems to define its moral compass through a host of reference points from its past – from Keir Hardie to 1945. Then there is the regressive radicalism and conservatism of Brexit. And less seriously, there is how popular culture increasingly re-presents and repackages its past to the detriment of the present. Something is going on and should we be concerned with it?

Each of these examples tells us in a number of ways about the state of the present. First, the British Labour Party has, for much of its history, been shaped by its understanding and remembrance of the past. This includes past struggles, victories and defeats which have been experienced by the party, trade union movement and working classes. Read the rest of this entry »

My Favourite Music of the Year: 2017

December 19th 2017

NEW ALBUMS

  1. The Visitor – Neil Young and Promise of the Real

Neil Young’s roving and rocking spirit look at the America of today. Hit and miss in places – but some hard rock and roll such as opener ‘Already Great’.

  1. Dark Matter – Randy Newman

Newman in typical sardonic form with his first album in nearly a decade and trademark laidback musical style and acerbic lyrics, ‘Putin’ being one of the best.

  1. Damn – Kendrick Lamar

Not as stellar and pathbreaking as ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ from 2015 but this is R ‘n’ B with personal reflection and social conscience.

  1. How the West Was Won – Peter Perrett

The uplifting music story of the year – once singer of new wave legends The Only Ones gets his life in order and returns with great tunes, lyrics and guitars.

  1. Soul of a Woman – Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

Jones made it as a star in her 40s and her soul sound gave Amy Winehouse her ‘Back in Black vibe. Sadly she died in 2016 and this is her last album filled with the spirit and passionate vocals she was known for. Read the rest of this entry »

Michael Marra: The Bard of Dundee and Modern Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, December 13th 2017

Michael Marra – musician, artist and force for good – was a precious Scottish gem. He was unique in his art but also in his delivery and style; singularly understated, modest and often humble to the extent that at times he hugely underpromoted himself and his work.

It is worthwhile celebrating that the writer James Robertson has contributed his time and intelligence to produce a biography of Marra – ‘Michael Marra: Arrest This Moment’. This is a fascinating book, and important beyond the subject of Marra in addressing music, the creative muse, the role of the artist and culture, and having something to say about his home town (and mine) Dundee – and contemporary Scotland.

Michael Marra was born in Dundee on February 17th 1952, the fourth of five children, and grew up in Lochee, then as now a working class part of the city. After an unhappy time at school and several routine jobs, Michael found his voice as a singer and songwriter. Read the rest of this entry »

MY YEAR IN MUSIC 2016

December 16th 2016

2016 will be certainly be remembered as a year and for more important things than music. But it was also a year of musical genius and of great losses – which words are not adequate to describe. Without further to do my musical highs:

MY BEST ALBUMS

  1. David Bowie – Black Star

A magnificent goodbye. Bowie’s best album since the early 1980s. Not easy listening and with added pathos.

  1. Nino Katamadze and Insight – Yellow

A Georgian Goldfrapp – only more melodic without losing the experimental edge. Latest in a series of themed albums: ‘Black’, ‘White’, ‘Blue’. Love them all.

  1. Solange – A Seat at the Table

Solange finally delivers the big album and promise after years of changing and shifting styles.

  1. Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate

A beautiful sounding album of soul reflections. So good and smooth that on first listening you miss its depth. Read the rest of this entry »

What do we do with lives and dreams after shopping?

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, January 19th 2012

Another tottering titan fell this week with HMV going into administration. It is the latest in a long line of retail closures: Jessops, Blockbusters, Comet, JJB Sports.

This is part of a powerful challenge to the high street, to Britain’s sense of itself and its town centres, and in the case of HMV, the music industry, coming after the closure of Virgin, Zavvi and Tower Records.

These stories are usually imbued with a golden sense of nostalgia, people fondly remembering their youth and some key Woolworths purchase, and thinking the country is going to the dogs! Rarely are more complex feelings allowed to emerge, about what we do with town centres, the nature of retail, and the power of consumerism in our lifestyles and in how we make sense of our lives and pasts. Read the rest of this entry »

Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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