Wednesday, 7 April 2010
orange aren't the only amps
Ah well. On to other matters. A copy of the new Argos laminated book of dreams arrived home after someone's shopping expedition. I was looking for a head torch when I decided to look and see what guitars they sell now. I can't believe it but there amongst the shindogu and tat there are two pages of guitars alone. Nowadays, any kid in any High Street has available to them a number of respectable quality instruments. A reasonable Dobro-style resonator for 130 quid! Two pages back and you can buy a range of Orange amps! That's unbelievable. Orange amps were iconic in the early 1970s - Wishbone Ash used them (until they got stolen - and because they were so unusual and identifiable the thieves couldn't sell them!). I would have given my right arm for one. Mind you I wouldn't be able to play guitar*. But at least I'd have had an Orange Amp.
Kids today, eh? They don't know they're born. . . . the availability of good quality electric guitars for less than 100 quid on every High Street. DVD and/or online lessons etc, etc. Multi-track recording facilities, effects - so much.
If you get a chance to read Mo Foster's 17 watts? The Birth of British Rock Guitar you'll be aware that the main reason music was so vibrant and exciting in the late 60s/early 70s is because at that time rock music just wasn't as ubiquitous as it is now. Talent had an outlet that took time to grow - it wasn't only the best that survived. many excellent acts like Help Yourself, for instance, floundered and gave up. Musicians had to teach themselves and come up with answers as it was a pre-wiki world. Without the sort of instant gratification Ech-Factor everything is available 24/7 crap entertainment business world we have now, there was a sort of halcyon days approach. Innocent times I guess. Not everything is crap now of course but I'm not sure that there's really an opportunity for those "did you see Bowie on Top of the Pops?" shared moments (Starman or Focus' first OGWT appearence). I'm not saying that they're necessarily fantastic and still hold up today, I mean the shared experience of discovery was special.
Establishing a fanbase through hard work - "paying their dues" - meant that there was a period of growth. I'm still discovering great bands from years ago that I'd never heard of. There are some great unrecognised talents around too, so don't get me wrong. Try Dave Alvin, Pieta Brown and Bap Kennedy for a start. Oh and the picture was the only one I could find, honest.
*Yes, all right . . .