|First published in International Times, March 1972|
Most times, when reading or
rapping about rock liberation, the main pre-occupation of those speaking or
writing seems to be the profits that are made from rock music, and how they
should be channelled back into the community.
For the most part, they ignore rock music itself, and its use as a medium for the communication of information and energy.
This is a possible reason that the concept of community music makes such slow headway outside that which is achieved by the musicians themselves.
Of course, no one could deny the importance of rechannelling the vast funds that are generated by the exploitation of rock and roll,and in the same way, it is very necessary to wrest the control of our music from the type of showbiz manipulator who both despises the music and audience, and seeks to debase our culture with low energy substitutes for real music.
If this record corporation/Radio One mentality is to be stopped, it will not be achieved by shouting a lot, and occasionally trashing some event. If we are to develop a true peopleís music, free from hype, machismo and exploitation, it will only come if a great deal of creative work goes into developing viable alternatives to current commercial rock.
This doesnít just mean the musicians, however, it means everyone.
At any rock concert, an individual band in fact only plays a small part in the overall event. If a show lasts for five hours, one band will only play for, at most, a little over an hour. The actual environment in which the music is presented prevails for the entire event and has by far the major effect on the audienceís energy and enjoyment.
The environment in which rock is presented is at an all time low. The Roundhouse today is a sad, straight imitation of what it was a few years ago. The wrap-around, 360į lightshow of Middle Earth has been replaced by a few theatrical spots. The audience has been enclosed by a wall of seats that, while they may be ideal for watching plays, make dancing impossible. These same looming bleachers totally preclude the side trips, and spontaneous bits of weirdness that made the early Roundhouse so attractive.
Another example of the lack of imagination that goes into rock presentation is the question of what happens between the bands. The current solution is to have a DJ, often dull and inaudible, playing indeterminable albums as a kind of music wallpaper while the roadies go to work. The DJ is simple to organise and so nothing else is ever tried. The chance for potential mime troupes, dancers, comedians and any artist who does not conform to rigid concepts of music industry packaging is excluded.
The regulation DJ totally prevents the emergence of a peopleís Lenny Bruce.
These same rigid concepts, based totally on what is good for business, directly affect the audience as well as the entertainers. The idea is propagated that the correct behaviour is to be cool, hip, basicly unemotional. We are being conditioned to relate to the most powerful art form ever developed by closing our minds, making our bodies rigid and as far as possible becoming unresponsive.
This is bullshit.
And coupled with deliberate low energy, laid back music, it is a piece of media repression, far worse than the patriotic songs of World War One, or the ainít-it-nice-to-be-poor songs of the depression.
The great power of rock is that it enables us to integrate our minds and bodies. IT opens us to each other in physical trust, so a community can come together in strength and joy.
ROCK CAN HELP CREATE A FREE PEOPLE.
It has been subverted, but it can be won back. We need to stage our own events, to re-channel funds, to push forward with the trips, the lightshows, the other non-musical artists. We need to adapt technology to total participation.
We also have to open ourselves, to not be afraid to respond. If you jump and shout to a high-energy band, and someone near you stares disdainfully and mutters "uncool", donít worry.
He isnít more enlightened.
He is lost and needs help.
Rock liberation is a struggle, it can however be a joyous one.
Sure we need the money.
WE NEED THE POWER OF ROCK AS THE MEDIUM OF A FREE PEOPLE FAR MORE.