Songs From The Underground - Various

The best busking performance ever took place one sunny Saturday afternoon in Cardiff, in the early nineties, just after lunch. The heroic trio consisted of men wearing orange wigs, false noses, oversized donkey jackets and large boots. The boots were very important, for their act consisted of stomping around inside a skip whilst blowing kazoos and shouting at each other. The noise was horrendous and the whole thing was fabulously, eye-wateringly funny. It wasn't very long before a large crowd gathered and, of course with it arrived the constabulary who took a very dim view towards these noise monsters who had dared to spoil the afternoon by making about a hundred or so people laugh. The performance lasted for about eight minutes altogether. What became of these artistes, music history has not recorded but it would be lovely to think that they went on to become The Manic Street Preachers.

Anyway, that little story sums up just about everything that's wrong with busking especially in the grim 00's in which we find ourselves. Busking is not music. Anything performed with style, talent and grace in public gathers a crowd. When was the last time you saw a busker with a crowd? And with buskers now sponsored by something sinister called 'Carling' and with acts having to audition before being given their little spot, any chance of seeing something spontaneous and interesting has vanished. Entertainment has been replaced, for those fortunate enough not to know, with earnest looking young men with guitars, miserable looking women with harps and maniacs with didgeridoos. Listen, anyone with ears can tell you that a didgeridoo is not a proper musical instrument at all. You can't make music with it, for a start, only a sort of dull droning noise. Nor, really, is a solitary drum. Sorry, but without something to back it up, it's just hitting something hard with a stick and making a noise which, helpfully and if hit hard enough, can completely drown out anything announced over the station PA. Thanks a lot, Mr Man (for it is always a man) and your stinking, rotten drum.

Someone, somewhere has decided that what the world needs is a CD compilation of these parasites. Whoever thought that up wants locking up, but it's possible that the whole thing is a joke for, hilariously, it is actually a double album. Yes siree, there's far too much quality music underground for a mere single CD, so we had to put it on two. And just to make you laugh longer and harder, this is actually released by EMI. They can't be serious. I'm sure all those struggling musicians and bands with integrity and soul who can't get a major label to look at them will enjoy this joke very much. Next time you hear the music industry plead poverty, think about this album and wonder why they're losing money hand over fist. And just to prove no one understand irony any more, there's a nice little warning inside pleading with the potential punter not to upload this onto the Internet. Ha ha. 'It's hurting the artists who created the music...' it whines. The artists on here deserve hurting. Please upload at once.

So, what do you actually get for your money should you be foolish enough to purchase this? Well you get a double CD of cover songs that any self respecting music fan already has in their original version or has decided they don't want. And they're covered by buskers. In a word, it's bland and quite painful to listen to. It's like a modern day version of those old TOTP albums that featured pretty girls on the cover and a selection of hits performed by someone else. Pointless excersizes in cash extraction from gullible, earless fools. There are no highlights as such. Nor is there lowlights, it's all pointlessly bland. Perhaps the cover of Lou Reed's 'Perfect Day' by Joe Zeitlin deserves special mention for ridicule. He manages to inject not a single ounce of passion into the song whatsoever. It's as though he's thoroughly bored by it. Perhaps there was no one in the studio dropping pennies at his feet. Someone's also managed to strip 'Wonderwall' of any passion as well, which considering the near perfection of the lyrics to this, is something of an achievement. You can't even say them without sounding impassioned so how this clown has managed to make it sound as though he's reading the back of a cereal packet is a thing of wonder. You won't wonder at it for very long, though, because it's immediately followed by ‘Imagine’, which is a painful, painful thing.

Let it be known that the only valid excuse to have this in your collection is that it appeared there one day, unannounced and uninvited, after a week long, drug and alcohol fueled bender of such staggeringly depraved proportions that Oliver Reed would run, flapping his arms and screaming from it. It's like a karaoke night where everyone is sober captured on CD. You're Maiden Aunt would put it back on the shelf because there's not enough oomph to it and that's the real crippler here. Everyone sounds bored by the songs they are singing. Maybe it’s because they've sung them hundreds of times before?. If so, perhaps they should have been a bit more experimental and covered some obscure things. Things like Throbbing Gristle, The Toy Dolls or Selfish Cunt perhaps. Anything would be better than this, who on earth is going to say to themselves, 'I really like Elton John's 'Rocket Man' but what I really want is someone performing it who sounds like they can barely stay awake'.

Buskers, like those other parasites, the 'tribute' band, should be rounded up, led into a field and bombed. It would be easy to get them in there. Just tell them someone will throw coins at them. To strum away your own weedy versions of other peoples' songs in the privacy of your own home is no bad thing, but then neither is masturbating into a sock and in an ideal world neither would be attempted on the London Underground.



out of 10

Last updated: 19/04/2018 11:52:45

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