Je T’Aime . . . Moi Non Plus

Rock music is the monkey in the ointment here. It's not usually part of the story that's told about funk, disco, hip-hop, techno. Yet it has a presence in dance music. That is, as my listening tended to drift away from "rock" over the years, this wasn't only due to my interest in hearing other sounds. Sometimes nonrock did better than rock at fulfilling my need for hard-rock music: James Brown's "I Can't Stand Myself," Big Youth's "Jim Squashey," Isaac Hayes's "Theme From Shaft," Jimmy Castor Bunch's "Troglodyte," Spoonie Gee's "Spoonin' Rap," Public Enemy's "Bring the Noise," Phuture's "Slam!," Fluke's "Atom Bomb"—not all of these were formally similar to hard rock or even influenced by it, but they all spoke to the hard-rock impulse within me.

But then, it's not always apparent what is influenced by what; here's Marshall Jefferson, quoted in David Toop's Ocean of Sound, about the birth of acid-house music (Jefferson's talking about Phuture's "Acid Tracks" and Sleezy D's "I've Lost Control"):

"Really, I was trying to get a mood something like the old Black Sabbath records or Led Zeppelin. So that's how it got the name Acid Tracks, because it's supposed to put you in a mood, you know? For one thing, the tune is eleven minutes long of the same thing. Slight changes, but not that noticeable. Like when you listen to a real long solo in the old days it's the same bass line going and everybody's doing something different over it. That's supposed to capture a mood. Now what everybody thought acid house was after that was a drum machine and that acid machine, the Roland TB-303, which was not the truth. Acid house was meant to be the capturing of moods. You don't have to use the same machine all the time. You can use different instruments. I hate that machine with a passion now. Everybody's using it wrong. The way they're doing it now it's not capturing any moods. It's disrupting thought patterns, man. That just hurts when you listen to it all night. It stabs your brain, man."

Joan Jett said love is pain, but Hardknox disagree.
photo: Dean Belcher
Joan Jett said love is pain, but Hardknox disagree.



Anyway, as I mentioned above, some of electronic dance is entering—potentially usurping—the old place of rock, especially progressive rock and alternative rock, in the social landscape. This doesn't always mean that the dance music sounds particularly like rock, but it does tend to make the music more serious—and grimmer than the disco of old. For better or worse.

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