In 2007 when Kevin Shields announced that My Bloody Valentine were reforming for a series of gigs tickets were pounced on by a generation of indie fans who have grown up on music influenced by their output, however eyebrows were rightly raised when he also announced new music would also be forthcoming.
Most fans of his music knew not to bother holding their breath or even believe that new material would actually be imminent from one of the slackest artists to ever enter a studio, also the music he was working on was the music which was ditched in 1997 when he was the only member of the band left, the other three eventually tiring of his lackadaisical approach. Universal who signed them from Creation also grew tired of waiting for product in return of their considerable financial backing eventually realised nothing was forthcoming and dropped them with Shields spending at least £500’000 of their money.
Since 2007 there have been a slew of festival appearances and gigs around the world all lavished with praise. Their gigs at the Roundhouse inCamdenin 2008 were an astonishing lesson in creating as much noise as possible but stepping back at the very last point that it became unbearable. They handed out earpieces at the gigs and although that was a ploy to get people talking about their perceived loudness, they were genuinely needed as without them the treble of the wailing guitars was veering on the unpleasant. The ‘holocaust’ section of ‘You made me realise’, up to thirty minutes of horrendous feedback was not pushing the boundaries of music, more thirty minutes self indulgent toss, an internal joke on the audience paying to hear that nonsense.
As the gigs took place, re-issues of 1988’s ‘Isn’t Anything’ and 1991’s still jaw dropping ‘Loveless’ were scheduled, two cd remasters of the infamously tinny albums would have brought a new enhanced listening experience, having two versions of the album remastered in different ways however is a missed opportunity as the EPs released around the same time of each album contain some of their absolute best music.
These were initially scheduled for release in 2008 to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of their debut. However as 2008 went on the re-releases were continually re-scheduled for a later date. This continued through 2009 when the reason (or rumour of reason) for the delay became known; Kevin hadn’t gotten round to writing the sleeve notes. The two albums were inevitably leaked onto numerous torrent sites and are now readily available if inclined to steal from the internet so the moment has gone and it’s not as if Shields has ever had anything interesting to say about his music anyway and why should he, it more than speaks for itself despite there being so little of it.
Of course 2011 is a big one for 20th anniversaries of albums, especially seminal rock and indie ones and particularly ones on Creation records, there was of course ‘Loveless’ as well as the equally as masterful ‘Raise’ by Swervedriver, ‘Bandwagonesque’ by Teenage Fanclub and of course, ‘Screamadelica’. Primal Scream have ensured that the 20th anniversary of their best album was celebrated in the right (and lucrative) way. The ‘Screamadelica’ tour has seen them revitalised, the cobwebs of the last five years have been shaken away and with news of them returning to the studio, if all goes well they’ll be recording their first great album in over a decade if the influence of playing Screamedelica every night for year rubs off on their musical output, whatever, anything has to be better than the execrable ‘Country Girl’.
The status granted to ‘Loveless’ is just as lofty as ‘Screamadelica’, the influence of this album is just as strong if not even stronger than when it astounded the indie fraternity when it was released. These days when an indie band is described as ‘sounding like MBV, they receive instant attention all the way from bands like Joy Zipper, A Place to Bury Strangers and The 2.54’s to Runrig sounding charlatans such as Glasvegas, the number of bands that owe their career to this album is ridiculous and the amount of bands who have enjoyed instant cool after having an MBV comparison labelled upon them is uncountable, all from one album.
Record labels jump at the chance to squeeze a bit of extra cash out of music buyers, be it ‘deluxe’ editions of six month old albums or 10, 20 and 30 year anniversary double cd/1 DVD releases. Sony were so eager for us to celebrate ‘London Calling’ that they released a twenty, twenty five AND thirty year anniversary editions but chose to ignore ‘Sandanista!’, a better album but with ‘Loveless’, Shields’ laziness has put paid to that. Maybe NOT having a twentieth anniversary of an album is the final act of non-conformity from a music scene less anarchic by the minute but that would only be if the delay was intentional.
A band reforming is now so predictable that when REM split up last month, Mike Mills was immediately asked when would they be reforming, the day after the announcement the record company machine whirred into life with a ‘best of’ compilation scheduled so mechanically it’s as if one of them died and Warners went straight after the grief money from their fans.
The Pixies, one of the first big indie bands to reform made it clear that they weren’t going to record any new material, preferring to rake in the cash singing 20 year old songs a bit slower with wider waistlines was ok for them, they recorded one song in the seven years since their reformation and readily admitted to being incapable of scraping anything decent enough to be released as an album, at least they admitted this inability. When Jesus and Mary Chain reformed they said they would record a new long player, three years later; nothing, whilst Suede, a band who people seem to have forgotten that two thirds of their output was dreadful are currently in the studio hoping to reach the highs of their first two albums rather than the following three, whatever this sounds like, it will be better that (Bernard and Brett side-project) The Tears.
When bands reform, the next step is to immediately start chasing the fans dollar, this is an easy but extremely distasteful way of boosting up your capital when the interest in post band projects wanes. Pulp for instance reformed after meeting at a funeral deciding to do something together again, why didn’t they just do that, have a few jam sessions between them and leave the fans alone? These being the very same fans who abandoned the band after hearing that 1998’s ‘This is Hardcore’ wasn’t crammed with pop hits like the two albums prior, if anything was achieved from these gigs it’s that the general gig going public have a massive thirst for nostalgia bigger than ever before, instead of looking for exciting new acts we prefer to dance to ‘Common People’, one of Pulp’s absolute worst tracks.
New Order are doing the same, a couple of gigs for an ill collaborator as a one off, next minute there will be a lucrative world tour announced and possibly an album despite their last great one being ‘Technique’ back in ’89. At least Gillian is back in the band, they’ve proven themselves to be incapable of producing anything great without her, bizarrely though, Hooky hasn’t been invited to play with them, New Order without Hooky is not New Order. At the time of writing, the music world was awash with rumours of The Stone Roses being the next ones to come begging their fans for a bit of money, this shouldn’t be ‘what the world is waiting for’ but people are reacting as if it’s The Beatles getting back together.
So what does the future hold for My Bloody Valentine fans? Well, seeing as he can’t get it together to write a few thousand words for re-releases of his two albums, it’s not looking that positive. Are we right to await new material? Of course, who wouldn’t want to hear what a third My Bloody Valentine album would sound like?? When Kevin Shields worked with Primal Scream and more recently Paul Weller, both turned in some of their most vital material but maybe it’s that required discipline when collaborating that he can’t apply when working within his own band, only time will tell, until then the only thing we can do is to go out and replace our battered copies of ‘Loveless’ and ‘Isn’t Anything’….just not with the ‘20th anniversary editions.