|Issue 1 - December 1971|
|A Personal History Of Rock|
Fuck man! this is really so weird; that sound, it's going round and round
my head ... losing coherence of thought ... fuck, I can't be generating
all these emotions, is all this really in my mind? ... yeah, wow, the
whole place is starting to move ... FUCK!
Experience is often fleeting, the past is seen so dimly through that purple fog that always hides so much, through a glass so darkly, through dark glasses, through my oh so inefficient RNA molecules! But I try to delve back and find my earliest and haziest awakenings of latent rock consciousness.
We were putting our almost meaningless idols up on vast phallic pedestals - Cliff, Elvis - totally facile music, euphemistic promiscuity which we so vicariously got into! But the main thing was that for the first time we were digging something that our parents really hated, and there was the first hint of our future culture shock - we were incredibly exploited of course, but the media were starting to acknowledge us and that was a beginning.
That era wouldn't last - we were the generation expecting every week to be our last, eating annihilation for breakfast and overkill for dinner. Our identity crisis was becoming apparent and when the new musicians started emerging from Liverpool we knew that here was something which was much closer to us, not only spatially. And our parents' hate rose by a few hundred degrees! Musically, the scene was still pretty primitive but we stuck with it and things were improving quite noticeably with time.
The focal point of this movement was, of course, the Beatles, though a few other notable bands emerged alongside - the Stones emanated fantastically charismatic youth leadership, though with little intellectual or spiritual contribution - our parents turned into the Establishment and up went the thermometer a bit more. The improvements continued and we were presented with a hint of what was to come in the shape of "Tomorrow Never Knows" on Revolver, an amazing mind-blowing track, strongly influenced by the Book of the Dead.
Shortly after this the first vibrations began to reach us from the other side of the world, strange stories of a new subculture, and with it many different but totally involved concepts - rock music, complete pacifism and Dr Hoffman's notable invention! I don't particularly want to talk about the American or Hippie scene, for I did not experience this directly, but just on the revolutionary effect it had on this country. An underground suddenly appeared, centred in London, the culture took form here and heads started emerging, pissed off with our fucked-up society, dropping acid and turning on to the amazing sounds emanating from Tottenham Court Road's UFO Club and John Peel's Perfumed Garden pirate programme.
And amazing they were - people began to realise that what the Establishment still regarded as pop groups contained musicians who could really play their instruments, bands like Family took hold of people and made them listen. And totally new musical forms appeared along with people like the Floyd and Soft Machine - when the Floyd abandoned their light show nobody stopped listening - these guys were really creating and we were getting turned on enough to appreciate this.
Another product of our Underground were Caravan, who started singing truly experimental lyrics:
"Let me see through your
Now we had gone over the point of no return, and we were ready to get into the pictures painted by the guitar of Hendrix.
The Beatles released Sgt Pepper and then alas began to decline; and the underground produced more and more unbelievable sounds and philosophies until it, also, showed signs of decaying somewhat. Richard Neville declared "the end of an era" and the Beatles, realising their impasse, broke up. Paul and Ringo disappeared into their predictably straight scenes, but this couldn't happen to the others.
George released "All Things Must Pass" and we realised that he, for one, had reached an enviable state of spiritual peace of mind - this, furthermore, was brilliant music.
John also released a very revealing album but, fuck, what a different place he was at. For me (and upon who else's experience can I truly comment?) John's solo album really struck home - a total intellectual dead-end. A soul screaming "Help" maybe, clearly showing complete realisation of the totality but also self limitation of one's personal experience of so-called reality.
"There ain't no guru can
This album is so much more credible because we've been right with John for so long now - we've seen him travel right along the path to the void he has now reached - and how many of us are there too?
So is there any hope at all? I think, perhaps, I saw the first glimmerings in a large tent down at last year's IOW festival. Chris and I wandered into Canvas City on the Monday night when most of the people had left, not really expecting overmuch. But that night Hawkwind just blew our minds ...
David Lincoln - May 71