Saturday, July 23, 2005

Band loyalty

It may have been the article in today’s Guardian on Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong that prompted me to pick out Kraftwerk's Tour De France CD when flicking through the pile looking for something to listen to. Rarely played since it came out two years ago, it pains me to say that TDF sounds as flat as it did back then. There is the odd moment of glory, but its mostly anodyne stuff when compared to Kraftwerk's past glories.

The thing is in my heart I knew this was going to be a weak CD when I bought it. I had heard some excerpts, read reviews, which spent more time honouring Kraftwerk's seminal role in contemporary music than dealing with the record in hand. In short all the signs were bad, and yet I went ahead and shelled out my £13.99 or whatever it was. The reason is simple band loyalty.

Band loyalty causes you to carry on buying CD’s by artists long after they have stopped producing anything of interest and even when your musical tastes have changed. With Kraftwerk band loyalty wasn't really too problematic as they only produce an album every decade, if that. With Bowie though the problem was much worse, from Hunky Dory onwards I purchased every damm LP, usually within a week or so of release. After Scary Monsters the records were almost always disappointing, but it wasn’t until Earthling that I finally kicked the habit. Bowie is far more prolific than kraftwerk and so over a twenty-year period and as many albums I must have contributed a tidy sum to the thin white one’s bank balance.

After a certain number of duff albums, band loyalty needs some encouragement and here the media are only to keen to help out with the return to form theory. In Bowie’s case Black Tie, Outside, Earthling were all hailed as a rebirth, a reconnection with the muse of the mid 70’s. All the aforementioned albums of course now lie forgotten probably even by Bowie himself.

As with all habit forming addictions even once you have stopped and broken the band loyalty link, the urge still remains. Downloads can be a useful substitute in the ongoing treatment of band loyalty. A couple of years ago, a friend, noted for not being a Bowie fan confided to me that he had bought Heathen and it was rather good. I was of course tempted, the personal recommendation having an even stronger impact than a press write up. I probably even looked at the wretched CD in selectadisk but fortunately help was at hand in the form of Napster. Quickly (well probably slowly on a dial up) I was able to download half a dozen tracks and confirm that this was business as usual, another duffer. I quickly deleted the offending items and moved on, and have been “clean” ever since.

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