Whether it’s the piano playing of Jerry Lee Lewis or the superb picking of guitarist Scotty Moore behind those Elvis classics, one thing is clear.
It’s real music, recorded with talented musicians.
The success of new groups like Mumford & Sons, Alabama Shakes, Rival Sons and The Lumineers suggests that musicianship is making a comeback. Guitars, bass, drums, even banjos and all those odd instruments that Arcade Fire uses to great effect.
Younger music fans crave authenticity and call bullshit on recording techniques like auto tune. When Paris Hilton can cut an album and have it not sound out of place in today’s pop landscape (which might say more about the likes of Ke$hia than it does about Paris), something is horribly out of tune.
In Greg Kot’s book, “Ripped,” Thom Yorke of Radiohead says, “The reason the revenues in the music business are slipping is because most of stuff they’re trying to sell you is shite.”
For as long as I’ve been old enough to appreciate music I’ve been in awe of Ritchie Blackmore, Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi, Neil Peart and many more great players. I’ve been wowed by the vocals of Janis Joplin, Ronnie James Dio, Little Richard, Pat Benatar, Roy Orbison and scores of other fine singers.
They were doing something I could only dream of. They had the chops. Thanks to auto tune just about anyone can sing on key.
And, while “Someone Like You” irritated me to no end with its dreariness, there’s no doubt Adele is a terrific singer. Her massive success is another sign that things are moving away from disposable, interchangeable pop princesses and towards a brighter musical future.
Those young folks, bless ’em, are responding to genuine talent and substance.
Go back 20 years and there’s no way a less-than-glamorous singer like Alabama Shakes’s Brittany Howard would have been seen on national television. The major label execs would have taken one look at her and said, “We can’t sell that.”
Thankfully, people now want to buy that. Brittany’s real. She can sing and play. The kids know it so here’s a big salute to their growing rejection of computerized, auto-tuned songs written by committee.
To quote those old geezers known as The Who, “The kids are all right.”