Tim Sommer writes:
I seriously doubt that every single person I know listened to Big Star’s Third and Pet Sounds when they were kids, unless they were hiding the discs inside the sleeve for Brain Salad Surgery or Frampton Comes Alive…
Once upon a time, you would read about bands before you would hear them. You would then imagine what they sounded like. Sometimes, an artist would pretty much sound just like you thought they would—The Troggs are a good example. Other times, you were left thinking, wait, this is what they were getting so excited about? Todd Rundgren, for instance, is infinitely better described than heard.
I fell for the Kinks and I fell hard. In the era when access to music was not instantaneous, when information about musical treasures was searched for in the runes of magazines and the ruins of newsstands, the Kinks felt like a delicious, quirky cult. You might look right past any one of a hundred children wearing a Beatles or Stones T-shirt, but you would make goddamn sure you’d try to become friends with the person wearing the Kinks shirt.
I’ll be honest, they felt like the anti-Beatles, because they felt like a secret handshake. There is a time in your life when you need something that belongs just to you or a very small group of friends, and in the mid-ish 1970s, the Kinks fit that bill perfectly.
You knew the Sex Pistols were dangerous before you ever heard them, when they were just a rumor so exciting as to be virtually erotic.
If Bowie and Pre-Raphaelite Marc Bolan and even beautiful (the most beautiful!) Lance shook our sexual stability, the Sex Pistols seemed to signal that all of society, not just sexual tradition, was being threatened. We had just been through Watergate and the garbage vapors of Vietnam, yet we had no music that seemed to sound like our cynicism felt, but here are these British songs making that noise!
So we shared these sounds of war, too naïve to know it was just show business, and we passed them among friends as if they were pornography, and then waved them like they were the flag, and they were great records, too. When I heard the Ramones and the Pistols I distinctly remember thinking, “Oh, finally, rock ’n’ roll that actually sounds like the way people describe rock ’n’ roll.”
I blame lack of coffee on not putting Quadrophenia on my embarrassingly undistinguished list…