You may have gathered from previous posts that I'm a bit of a completist, especially when it comes to music. I don't accept that just because fashion's moved on, a musician or group is no longer any good. Conversely though, I do know that inspiration is a mysterious beast - a band which produces an era-defining album might well do nothing that's any good ever again (I'm looking at you, The Stone Roses). Being the right age, meeting the right people, having a perfect range of inspirations and getting enough encouragement all at the same time seems nigh on impossible.
In my teens and twenties, I read the music press avidly. Journalists and bands would talk about 'lost' music all the time: the people who produced an album - or sometimes even a whole lifetime of music - without recognition in their own time, before being idolised by subsequent generations. The bands I read about then were the Incredible String Band, the 13th Floor Elevators, Wire, the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Slint (much more recently), Big Star, Gram Parsons, Lee Hazelwood, Orange Juice, the Velvet Underground, Palace (and all his other names), Galaxie 500… and so many more.
The question is, which are the artists who are unknown or forgotten in our period, but will be cited in hushed tones in twenty or thirty years' time?
I'm going to suggest one: Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. I mention them because I've just received singer Euros Childs' new album, Ends, in the post. Gorky's were a bilingual (Welsh and English) exuberant mix of rock, punk, indie, folk, Bee-Gees and fun. Since they split, most of the band have carried on making music: John Lawrence went off in an electronic direction as Infinity Chimps, Richard James has produced beautiful elegiac work, while Childs has explored pretty much every genre going. As Gorky's, they made lovely, varied music, but the pressure to be 'successful' and justify record label investment clearly weighed heavily on them. I'd love the world to have whistled GZM tracks all day, but they were always a niche interest.
I always wonder what happens to musicians after their moment passes. Do they blame the world, or themselves? Do they sense their powers waning, or curse the fickleness of a system which consumes art and moves on? In the case of Euros and his erstwhile colleagues, I hope it's the latter. Their art hasn't declined, but attention has: Euros even sends out his albums with handwritten personal notes: a lovely touch, but I'd rather he sold too many records to make this possible. Does this happen in other genres? What do unwanted scriptwriters do next? Painters? Composers? I guess they teach…
OK< your nominations? Who will be resurrected in generations to come but remain unappreciated now? I'm going to add Joan As Policewoman, Tindersticks, Felt, The Bitter Springs, I Am Kloot, Will Oldham, Bill Callahan, Laura Cantrell, the Delgados, the Go-Betweens, Mazzy Star, maybe Vic Chesnutt, Julian Cope, Throwing Muses, Stereolab, Low, Mercury Rev, The Phantom Band, Shack, Slowdive (and lots more…)
And who's going to be forgotten? It's tempting to point at Oasis, Belle and Sebastian (I'm talking 'indie' here, obviously), the Charlatans other than as a singles band, the Manics, Spiritualized, Suede…
08 Riverbank by National Elf