Where’s The Street Team?: Crappy Anniversary

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I tend to think of anniversaries in the romantic sense, not the musical one. Considering I’ve spent my adult years striving to have a romantic anniversary greater than two years, music-related milestones serve one purpose for me: boring, last-ditch story ideas for magazines. The music biz’s attempt to reverse awful CD sales through anniversary editions and reissues should tell you something about the pathetic lengths that labels will now go to get you inside of a soon-to-be-closed-and-turned-into-a-check-cashing-outlet retail music store.

It Was 40 Years Ago Today
Do we really need to get rea cquainted with Sgt. Pepper? Who doesn’t understand its importance? A 90-year-old North Korean who lives in a cave? The 40th anniversary of this album, though, is special because it’s marked by some events so weird that they transcend criticism: Ministry main man Al Jourgensen recently joined Cheap Trick for a Sgt. Pepper tribute concert in Los Angeles. Just what the most famous, played-out Beatles album needed: some inane anti-Bush ramblings. I can’t even make any more fun of that; it works on its own merits. As of this writing, I’m not certain if 40th-anniversary celebrations for The Velvet Underground And Nico or Love’s Forever Changes will make a comparable mess, but everyone over the age of 20 should know these records without buying into some inflated reissue with limited bonus tracks.

It Was 30 Years Ago Today
How many Bob Marley posters do you think have stared down a frat-house date rape? Marley is an excuse for jam-band fanatics and meatheads to front some “worldliness.” Taking the predictable early-stuff-is-the-best stand, early Wailers is great, but by 1977, Marley was a reggae Eagles and Exodus was a reggae Hotel California. Recently given a 30th-anniversary reissue, Exodus was named the best album of the 20th century by Time in 1998, so it could be that I need to change my tune. But the world would do better with anniversary parties for Bette Midler’s Broken Blossom and Deep Purple’s Concerto For Group & Orchestra.

It Was 25 Years Ago Today
If the world were not convinced that Michael Jackson touched little boys, we’d all be celebrating the 25th anniversary of Thriller, the album responsible for every shitty ’80s night on every shitty Tuesday at every shitty club in America. On the other side of the fence, 1982 was the year that once-great bands woke up and decided to release shitty records. When was the last time you rocked Strawberries by the Damned? With Combat Rock, the Clash would prove that flimsy, ill-defined politics—not to mention drinking iced tea from Jack Daniel’s bottles onstage—can sell a gazillion records, thus paving the way for the flimsy, ill-defined politics of bands like Against Me!, Rage Against The Machine and Chumbawamba.

It Was 20 Years Ago Today
I suspect that about half of you reading this remember the release of Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite For Destruction, currently enjoying its 20th anniversary. I’m of that half; I recall the summer before ninth grade and digging “Welcome To The Jungle” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine” because, you know, I was in ninth grade and all. Appetite For Destruction is children’s music. Even its R-rated tracks, the ones with lines like “Turn around bitch, I got a use for you,” sound juvenile, to be laughed at on schoolyards and in boys’ locker rooms.

It Was 15 Years Ago Today
1992 was a great year. If I remember correctly, it was the “year punk broke.” That’s what Sonic Youth said, anyway. Otherwise, I don’t remember too much from 1992, as I was spending a lot of time in my mom’s apartment doing drugs and watching infomercials until seven in the morning. I now declare a moment of silence for a lost era when someone deemed it a good idea to release Babes In Toyland’s Fontanelle on a major label. When Dr. Dre’s The Chronic revived pot culture and made white kids act black. When the Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head made even more white kids act black and introduced baggy clothing to mass culture. And, last but not least, when Pavement’s Slanted And Enchanted unwittingly gave us the second-worst genre name of all time: slacker rock.

It Was 10 Years Ago Today
Numerous proclamations that “rock is dead” occurred in 1997. DJ Spooky maintained a straight face when he adopted the nickname “that subliminal kid” (a William S. Burroughs reference, by the way) and helped launch the most loathsome genre—and genre name—of all time: illbient. Cool music was nothing more than bad techno and Brian Eno rip-offs. Math rock became post-rock, losing any iota of personality in the process. Krautrock was “discovered” by everyone short of my mom, thus killing the magic of yet another influential movement. Am I going to get caned in public for stating that Elliott Smith’s Either/Or isn’t that great of a record? So be it. Thankfully, the year was salvaged via the self-titled debut by Atom And His Package. (No, I don’t actually mean that.)

It Was Five Years Ago Today
Ah, the birth of post-punk. This is going to be hard to believe, but there was a time when a lot of bands lived in Brooklyn. On different levels, angular bass-driven outfits like Liars and Franz Ferdinand and movements like electroclash invented the wheel with … a style of music practiced consistently over the previous 25 years by Fugazi, Circus Lupus, Honor Role and hundreds of other groups in the late ’70s such as Gang Of Four and Wire.

—Andrew Earles