musicology #373


Modernist #1

(Bobby Bland – Turn On Your Lovelight)

‘Modernist’ was a word used by some on the London scene in the early 1960’s to describe the ‘new breed’ of young bloods that had emerged out of the post war doldrums in Great Britain and had begun to throw off the shackles imposed on them by the establishment to do their own thing. They weren’t catered for or to so had to create a new set of ‘rules’, (clothes, music and attitude), and as a predominantly youth movement were unknown and unrecognizable, (this was when adolescents/teenagers were not even seen let alone heard), to all but those in the know. The influences of this movement were varied, (and will be gone into in greater detail as the theme unfolds), but as is often the case, (in England anyway), they were fused together by a creative vanguard to bear Englands first and most important youth movement.

Today’s cut is courtesy of a Modernist icon who has featured a few times on themusicologist and whose output was as important as any single artist’s in defining the new genre that became known as Soul. Born in 1930 Robert Calvin Bland begun his career in Memphis in the early 50’s associating with a collective known as the Beale Streeters but it wasn’t until ,1958 (at the dawn of Soul), that his distinctive vocal style begun to make Modernists sit up and take notice. Up until then he was a Blues singer but in ’58 he begun to set himself apart from categorisation with a string of monumental cuts of the highest order. This one is a classic from 1961 the year that his landmark album Two Steps From The Blues hit the streets. Many artists have cited Bobby as a major influence including original Modernist David Bowie who is reported to have said that the album changed his life.

Of note is that Bowie was born in 1947 making him 14 in 1961 and ripe for being at the forefront of a youth movement that peaked in London in 1964, (not sure about anywhere else as I have no background knowledge), and fell soon after when the media packaged it as ‘Mod’. Just like to add that In no way am I disregarding what came after ‘Modernist’, (especially not as far as music is concerned), but for many who were on The vanguard and had been at it since 1961 the infamous Bank Holiday gatherings signalled the end of the movement they cherished. I know that there will be many who disagree with me about the dates and events and I’m sure they can support their views and present them in their own way but certain dates such as ‘The Scene’ opening in August 1963 can not be disputed neither can the release dates of the musicology that supported and drove the movement as I intend to show. Finally I would also like to add that those born before 1946 and after 1948 must have been on the fringes purely as a result of their age and not their appreciation of either the music, attitude or the lifestyle in question.

All that’s left to say is that this one is for all the Lyceum, Town Hall, Tottenham Royal and Streatham Locarno Cats whose memories of being there can never be replaced.

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One thought on “musicology #373

  1. I was 13 in 1961 and although that sounds young
    by todays standards back then it was old enough
    for me to get togged up and que outside the minor
    hall greenwich….a fledgling Modernist!!

    Like

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