Should ‘Ave Beens
WTF happened to………………? (The Should ‘Ave Beens)
This week Onlyteesin wishes to discuss those bands who seemingly had the world at their feet, but for reasons – unbeknownst or otherwise, managed to flush their chance of global domination down the proverbial swanny. Rather than concern you with a list of random, mostly dull and needless facts surrounding the band’s background, record sales figures and all that “bobbins”, we’ll get straight to the heart of the matter and provide you with a hopefully insightful and entertaining bio of the bands rise to the border of Rocks big league, but ultimate descent back down the hill to the end of the dole queue.
To kick off, we’re going to feature a four piece band, who grew up together and began their musical journey in Kippax, a grim x-mining community, along Yorkshires M62 corridor on the outskirts of Leeds. Formed in 1999, they consisted of Frontman – Robert Harvey, Adam Nutter (lead guitar), Stuart Coleman (bass) and Phil Jordan (drums). For those who haven’t twigged already, we’re talking about “The Music”, (for the uninitiated) that’s the name of the band – The Music. “What a silly contrived name” I hear you cry, which was probably their first major failing, even though the quality of their earliest songs were befitting of such a self-aggrandising proclamation. This bands early promise had certain clusters of the music press in a hyper-bowled induced stupor – lofty & frankly, OTT comparisons were being drawn with the likes of Led Zeppelin and the newly resurrected Stone Roses.
“Take the long road and walk it” the band’s debut and arguably best single, initially released as a demo in 2001; was a disco infused, effervescent, psychedelic statement of youthful, paranoid intent. The Aerosmith esque hook was delivered against Rob Harvey’s distinctive Falsetto vocal (not dissimilar to a certain Robert Plant) & leveraged by an exhilarating rhythm, which well and truly put the groove back into Rock n Roll… Not since the Roses, had rock- music made the “football hooligan” fraternity and beyond want to dance so furiously. Here was the sound of a band that was unquestionably raw, (all be it a tad rough round the edges, as they were still learning their trade) which possessed that rare and innate desire to evoke almost surreal, often drug-induced emotion. The late great music impresario Tony Wilson once said of the band “they have that Joy division-like quality, they’re playing music, not because they want to, but because they have no fucking choice!” Judging by the signature dance moves (a cross between the Prodigy’s keith Flint and John Travoltor in Saturday Night Fever) of lead singer Rob Harvey, anyone could be forgiven for thinking their chemical of choice was E, when in-fact, it was of a said less harmful class, a good old-fashioned “dooby”, was a sufficient enough catalyst to set the bands wildly creative juices in motion.
Following on from “Take the long road and walk it” came the single “Getaway”. This ethereal gem did “exactly what it said on the tin”; took you on a trip, a getaway to some other world. The dark, hedonistic, chiming guitar riff holds the key to an undiscovered part of your psyche, not normally ventured into by us normal folk. Not dissimilar to the Verve; here was a band which proposed a sense of dangerous excitement, which only the truly experimental youth could experience.
The Music is seemed were too experimental and “out there” for the mass of mainstream media, as few key players in the UK music press (apart form the insightful Steve Lamaq) sited the band as genuine contenders. In the beginning, Radio 1 (Steve Lamaq aside) were hardly championing the band as the saviours of Rock n Roll, as they (Radio 1) along with the NME were far too pre-occupied with the antics of the contemporaneous, London-centric Libertines; who it’s fair to say, penned some wonderfully venerable romantic Rock n Roll tunes, and on stage their unhinged irreverence and intimacy with the audience were a sight to behold. But lets be honest… Musically they offered nothing new – simply a cheap mans Strokes. The Music meanwhile, were stuck firmly to the underground and sick of being over-shadowed by the rise of the Libs, found solace in a ready American audience, and thus took the opportunity to sign to one of the many baying American majors. It seemed like the world was now in their hands & the big-time beckoned for The Music, following a triumphant live performance on Saturday Night Live (the audience transfixed by the bands entrancing rhythms and freakish dance moves of eccentric & curiously charismatic long-haired front-man – Robert Harvey), but sadly it proved to be a false dawn and in actual fact, signaled the beginning of the end.
The corporate vultures of the American majors soon sunk their divisive teeth in to the naive rock trailblazers, and set about sapping the bands creative blood dry, before inadvertently redirecting the bands career into the rock wilderness. The Music’s all important and highly anticipated second album – “Welcome to the North” failed to deliver, on both a critical and commercial level. The rising hopes of an expectant audience, were quashed, as the record was almost cynically targeted towards the mass record buying public of Americas Mid-West; with the sound heavily diluted & almost unrecognizable form the bands uncompromising debut. Regrettably, from a commercial perspective, the intended target market, never bought into the bands more “radio friendly” sound.
As a result of the misguided intervention of the major US record companies, the bands early shoots never flourished and the flashes of burgeoning genius were merely fleeting moments of inspiration and nothing more. The bands weirdly evocative hooks and funk-fueled grooves, which brought them the accolades of critical claim and a cult following, (a fan base which seemed destined to swell in to the realms of the mainstream), sadly never resurfaced. To the bemusement of critics and the bands hardcore fan-base alike, the rough-edged disco rhythms had been oddly substituted with mechanical four to the floor standard rock beats, and the intangible nuances that had set the band apart could no longer be heard.
The psychedelic, energetic spark had faded and with it – the creative forces which first manifested their refreshingly youthful edge. Subsequently, the band lost touch with its grass roots audience, who were now hoping on their Yorkshire counterparts – The Artic Monkeys – band wagon, and the Music’s label of cult status, soon became out-dated.
The band had a rippling effect with the comeback singles, – strength in Numbers, a militant political Raleigh cry, which marked the bands disappointing departure towards more conservative rock sensibilities and the album title track “Welcome to the North”, a swaggering cock-sure anthem, which had shades of the northern grooves of past glories. Ultimately however, the bands early magic was sadly never recaptured & following a series of disappointing releases, which were met with neither critical nor commercial recognition, allied to Rob Harvey’s personal battle with depression, the band faded away into relative obscurity, eventually “calling it quits” in 2011.
These days lead singer Rob Harvey is working alongside Mike Skinner of the Streets, on a project titled D.O.B and have recently released an album, which received mixed reviews. What destiny has in store for the remaining 3 band members – who knows; I guess it’s back on the “old Rock n Roll“.
That concludes the first of our look at the should ‘ave beens; if you have any other bands which you feel belong in this illustrious list, then we welcome your opinion, so please be our guest and post your comments here on our blog, or alternatively on our Facebook page, or at www.onlyteesin.com.