sabato 11 luglio 2009

A proposito di "Nadir's Big Chance"

Una cosa che già in molti sanno ma è sempre bene ribadire, è che Peter Hammill, ormai icona del progressive rock, fu involontariamente l'ispiratore del punk rock, genere musicale che sancì la fine del progressive.

Il giornalista Simon Reynolds nel suo blog Rip It Up and Start Again: the Footnotes ha raccolto le note escluse dal suo magnifico libro Post Punk (edito da ISBN) e, in una di esse, commenta una selezione di pezzi scelti da Johnny Rotten scrivendo quanto segue:

records selected by Rotten
The Capital Show tracklist, with just a few omissions.

Tim Buckley/Sweet Surrender (from Greetings From LA, 1972)
The Creation/Life Is Just Beginning (single)
David Bowie/Rebel Rebel (from Diamond Dogs, 1974)
The Chieftains/Jig A Jig
Augustus Pablo/King Tubby Meets The Rockers Uptown (title track of album)
Gary Glitter/Doin' Alright With The Boys
Fred Locks/These Walls (from 1977's Black Star Liner)
Culture/I'm Not Ashamed (7 inch single)
Dr Alimantado/Born For A Purpose (title track of album, 1977)
Bobby Byrd/Back From The Dead (1974 single)
Neil Young/Revolution Blues (from On the Beach)
Sex Pistols/Did You No Wrong
Lou Reed/Men Of Good Fortune (from Berlin, 1973)
Kevin Coyne/Eastbourne Ladies (from Marjory Razorblade, 1973)
Peter Hammill/Institute Of Mental Health (Burning) (from 1975's Nadir's Big Chance)
Peter Hammill/Nobody's Business (from Nadir's Big Chance)
unknown reggae artist
Captain Beefheart/The Blimp (from Trout Mask Replica, 1969)
Nico/Janitor Of Lunacy (from 1970's Desertshore)
Ken Boothe/"Is It Because I'm Black"
John Cale/Legs Larry At Television Centre (from 1972's the Academy in Peril)
Third Ear Band/Fleance (from 1972's Macbeth, soundtrack for the Roman Polanski movie)Can/Halleluwah (from 1971's Tago Mago)
Peter Tosh/Legalise It (title track of album)

Along with Tim Buckley, probably Rotten's most dissident choice here was "Fleance" by the classic "head" band Third Ear Band, who recorded for Harvest and whose Medieval acid-folk came garlanded with oboe and recorder, "Fleance" is a courtly love song, all "thine two eyes" and "plight my troth", from Third Ear Band's soundtrack to Polanski's 1971 version of Macbeth; mimed, in the movie, by the young Keith Chegwin!

Also decidedly not with the punk rock/McLaren program were "The Institute of Mental Health" and "Nobody's Business", the two tracks by Peter Hammill from 1975's concept album Nadir's Big Chance. In the album's sleevenote Hammill claimed to have been taken over by the alter-ego Rikki Nadir: "this loud aggressive perpetual sixteen year old" playing "the beefy punk songs".
"Now's my big break - let me up on the stage,I'll show you what it's all about; enough of the fake,bang your feet in a rage, tear down the walls and let us out!We're more than mere morons, perpetually conned,So come on everybody, smash the system with the song,Smash the system with the song!"

For all Nadir's prescient proto-punk menace, Hammill was a progressive rocker: edgier than Genesis, for sure, but middle class, literate, musicianly, and signed to Charisma (alongside Harvest, Vertigo, Chrysalis, Deram, and Virgin, one of the archetypal prog labels of the Seventies). In the Capital Radio interview, Lydon raved: "Peter Hammill's great. A true original. I've just liked him for years. If you listen to his solo albums, I'm damn sure Bowie copied a lot out of that geezer. The credit he deserves, has just not been given to him. I love all his stuff."

Strangely Rotten skipped the chance to combine two of his great musical passions—Hammill and Jamaican music—and elected not to include Van Der Graaf Generator's "Meurglys III (The Songwriters Guild)", from 1976's World Record, a bizarre prog-rock take on reggae rhythm that runs for nearly 21 minutes.

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