I used to be up on all the new shit.
By the time you were saying “OMG have you heard of XYZ band?” I’d have downloaded their discography, played you their best songs (though at the time you couldn’t be bothered and clearly don’t remember) and moved on to the next hot sound. I can’t tell you how many times I went to shows with under 50 people for under $20, and the next time that act came through town prices were through the roof and the rooms were packed beyond capacity.
That was then.
Now, when my friends ask me to send them good new music, I feel embarrassed and direct them to my fellow EMPT writers’ posts. I’ve lost touch. Partially this is a function of new technology, especially streaming services that offer a music discovery platform that doesn’t require any effort on my part. I can build a Spotify playlist and let those proprietary Swedish algorithms do the rest. And really, I don’t have the time anymore to “crate dig” across the blogosphere. Commute+job+pet+life.
But if a friend asks me for some “good music,” I’m never at a loss for words.
If we’re being honest, the best music ever recorded hasn’t come out in the past 10 or even 20 years, with a few notable exceptions. With the rise of studio technology and autotune-esque band-aids, much of the raw authenticity that marked early recordings has vanished.
Listen to the passion Sam and Dave exude on this recording of “Sooth Me” (which I believe was recorded in Paris, 1967). The Sultans of Sweat, as they were known, knew how to put on a show. There were no backup dancers or props. There were no illusions as to what the audience was seeing or hearing. Two men and a band, on stage, in the flesh, bringing the roof down, every night – these were the men, after all, that introduced the word “soul” into the musical lexicon of white America.
This post is for all of you who are up on the new shit. It’s cool for a while, but how much will you really remember, or will you want to pass on to your kids? Next time you go on a blog dive, take a gander at some charts from the 30s-early 70s instead. You may be surprised at the gems you never knew existed.