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A Cynic Writes...

The Syd Lawrence Effect

Syd Lawrence was a big-band leader who throughout the '60s and '70s made a good living out of recreating exactly the sound of Glenn Miller and his band. Those who bought his records wanted to hear the Miller they remembered from their youth, while appreciating the recording qualities Syd was able to achieve as the technology improved. The demand was innately conservative. The supply was efficient.

So what do we find now? Magazines with cover-mounted CDs featuring 'rare' (old) rock tracks. Television programmes feting the dead and dying icons of authentic baby-boomer culture - the culture which finally laid both Glenn (and Syd) to rest. Concerts re-uniting Messrs Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe, Emerson, Lake, Palmer, Clapton, John, Harrison, Starr, and even Latimer, Bardens and Ferguson (...Camel, in case you were wondering). And bands whose entire existence is based around recreating the looks, sounds and styles of long-lost heroes like Zeppelin and the Doors.

In fact, ever since the 'New Wave Of British Heavy Metal' in the late '70s (the first exclusively rock-oriented pocket of resistance to change), the retro-junkies have have dug in their heels and refused to go away.

All of this is appalling news for new songwriters, producers and musicians, because valuable space is being taken up by corpses, thrusting their bony hands up through the soil and clutching still at the air. The attack is two-pronged. Firstly, there are those boomers who are replacing their record collections with CD re-releases, clogging up the shops and the charts with their fodder and creating the demand. Secondly, there are boomers in media and marketing who are only too pleased to feed this demand, to stuff it, in fact, with large creamy dollops of addictive nostalgia so insidious as to have many teenagers and twenty-somethings actually believing that their parents had exclusive rights to rebellion. Having invented youth, the boomers have co-opted its entire ethos for themselves and have not handed it down.

Something should be done to stop this megalomaniac generation. There are thousands of brilliant new acts and ideas out there who no one is allowed to listen to because the flower children with mobile 'phones are still trying to change the world their way. Because, in fact, the Syd Lawrence effect is still working.

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Music Technology - Copyright: Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.


Music Technology - Oct 1992

Opinion by Brian Aspirin

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