I’ve been ploughing through The Creation Records Story over the past few days. By now I’m at the stage where my interest is trailing off – I can’t stand Oasis – but that’s only the last couple of hundred pages; the rest is essentially a survey of the British indie music scene of the 1980s, and Creation was right in the thick of it.
The label’s earlier days are the most interesting to me: 73 in 83, The Jesus and Mary Chain, the House of Love saga, and the infamous My Bloody Valentine – as much remembered for almost bankrupting their label as they are for breaking musical barriers.
One MBV story that struck me concerns the “human error” that shaped the sound of their debut album Isn’t Anything (p342):
Before setting out for Wales [to record Isn’t Anything], the band had phoned ahead to ask [producer Dave] Anderson to buy an Alesis MIDIverb, which had the reverse reverb programme [Kevin] Shields wanted. “I went out and bought a MIDIverb,” says Anderson, “not realising that there was a MIDIverb and a MIDIverb 1. I happened to buy the MIDIverb 1, which didn’t have it. [The band] had gone off to get something to eat, and I was sitting in the control room listening to the different effects [on the MIDIverb 1]. Kev came running in and said: ‘That’s it! That’s it! That’s my sound.’ I said: ‘You can’t use that — that’s just the effects on the unit.’ He said: ‘No, no. This is it.’ There’s no real guitar sounds on that album at all, it’s purely the effects unit. Kev got me to erase all the actual guitars and just leave the effect. That’s about as psychedelic as you’re going to get.”
A guitar rock album with no guitars? I always thought there was something odd about the sound of that record, but I’d never have guessed that.
What else this week? Second item crossed off the to-do list: passport renewal stuff has been posted off. In two weeks I’ll get a new one that won’t get a crease in the back page like the last did. Next on the list? Sorting out my union subs and getting a new press card (if the NUJ will let me have one).
So I’m trying to start writing regularly again. It’s frustrating and a bloody pain. I feel incapable of expressing what I mean to say. There’s no glitter to my words, and I have to force them out. I can see everything that’s wrong with what I write. I don’t like the structure, but improving it doesn’t come naturally because I don’t know what to do. I can’t figure out how to vary the sentence length or increase variety and rhythm without it sounding like I’m doing rubbish teenage spoken word poetry. There are no insights. I can’t start or end things. I don’t even sound like me. I’m boring. Okay, fine, do it anyway.
I’m making those last words my mantra: Okay, fine, do it anyway.