the road less travelled, or not travelled at all.

One of the greatest things about music is seismic shifts of style that revitalise it. (We could be doing with another one).

But these shifts usually wipe out other possible paths, rock’n’roll swept away the crooners, the British invasion made redundant early sixties American pop, new wave killed the careers of non-new wave mid 70s, rave, grunge, brit-pop all stopped stone dead many of their immediate antecedents too. It’s ironic that each paradigm shift becomes quickly an orthodoxy.

Mostly it’s a good thing, but we often lose stuff too. Just before The Beatles changed the world, American pop was going rather strange, think of the creepiness of Bobby Vee‘s ‘Night has a thousand eyes’… pop wouldn’t get that paranoid again until, um.. Massive Attack’s third album. That’s probably why David Lynch uses that period for his soundtracks.

Just before New Wave, bands like Racing Cars, Doctors of Madness, Lone Star were emerging, but they had to adapt of die – and mainly they died.

But this post is more about the late 60s, what did that period’s emerging “new rock orthodoxy” trample underfoot?

orpheus albumOne example that is pretty interesting is the first self titled album by Orpheus, even listening to it today, it sounds square, trying to cope with a change that it just didn’t get. Perhaps the nearest comparison to the music on the Orpheus album would be Gary Ushers slightly psychedelic orchestral adult pop album under the name Sagittarius, or maybe the soundtrack to the musical ‘Hair’. It’s a great album to listen to in all its awkwardness and its over eager desire to be hip.

A common phrase used to describe music is ‘timeless’, but sometimes great music can just be off its time. (“off”, not “of” see what I did there? Oh never mind.)

Anyone think of other bands that should have been huge, but they turned up just too late or too early?

What other emergent cultural or technology artefacts were swept away in a similar manner? Anyone remember the closed, non-internet version of msn that shipped with windows 95? Erm, OK admittedly some things should be swept away.

ps The Orpheus album is on emusic (subscription required)


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