Tuesday, June 12, 2007
BLAST FROM THE PAST
This was written ten years ago when I was just getting acquainted with the Pop Underground (thanks, Mike Baron!) and I still believe in every word...
LIFE ON PLANET EARTSNOP
There are two facts that you will have to agree with regarding this album. One, the title is rather dodgy, (okay it’s atrocious!) and two, it is probably the best album you will have the opportunity to hear in 1998.
Why so, you may well ask?
But before we embark on a philosophical discourse, let’s have some background. It never hurts. Myracle Brah is essentially Andy Bopp. Bopp is virtually the sole author of this work with the exception of the drums and other odds and ends. Bopp is actually the guitarist-songwriter of powerpop band Love Nut, who have thus far two proper releases under their belt viz. The Bastards of Melody (Interscope) and Baltimucho (Big Deal). As far as Bopp is concerned, Myracle Brah is his side-project and he views Life on Planet Eartsnop as a minor distraction to his main calling as Love Nut mainman.
Do not be so easily fooled!
If there is anything that, the nineties have taught us it is that form will always triumph (commercially) over substance. It is virtually impossible for today’s artists to be accepted for their work alone without the trappings of image, artifice and hype. Turn on your television and you will be bombarded with glamourous visions of contrived and pre-fabricated ‘pop stars’ manufactured to meet a target audience. It never matters what the song is, it is the singer (or his/her face/body) that counts. After a while, all these boy and girl bands begin to blur into one generic shiny set of blinders – where the widest path of least resistance has been mapped out. In such circumstances, it is so much easier to go with the flow and much tougher to “rock the boat”!
I am totally convinced that pop music as an artform began and ended stylistically in the Sixties. Artists like John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Pete Townshend & Brian Wilson saw beyond the limitations of the three-minute pop song to create aural artefacts that have stood the test of time thirty years from their conception. In their wake, other like-minded musicians (e.g. David Bowie, Todd Rundgren, and Neil Young) approached their craft with verve, style, humour and a healthy disrespect for convention and carried this tradition in the early years of the seventies.
This close to the year 2000, the so-called modern rock scene is a sham – it is about ugliness, dishonesty and indignity. Grunge, ska-punk and Marilyn Manson are merely the symptoms of the disease. Enough is enough!
That is why Life on Planet Eartsnop is so important. It is only about one thing – good music! That’s basically it – no bullshit, no T&A and no angst. The 20 tracks on this album are without reservation the finest collection of pop songs I have had the pleasure to listen to this year. You will identify references to the great pop music of the past – The Beatles, The Byrds, Big Star, The Who, The Beach Boys etc but what Bopp has achieved is a unique voice even amongst these formidable influences. And the secret of his success is simplicity itself. There are no fancy arrangements, no groundbreaking production techniques involved, only good old-fashioned classic pop artistry.
Witness the melodic grace of Whisper Softly, the breezy splendour of I’m In Love, the vibrant tone of She’s So Young, the dynamic punch of Loli La Letta, the jaunty pomp of Medicine Man, the rolling thunder of Talk To Me… The list goes on and on and there’s not a duff track amongst them. Such is the depth of Bopp’s achievement.
Perhaps it is in the spontaneity, the sheer naivety of the album that is its ultimate winning quality. How can something so low profile, low key and lo-fi be so resonant and strong as a musical statement? I believe it is purely because Myracle Brah has managed with this fine album to tap into the power of pop and has affirmed for all of us who believe, that far from being “dated”, “anachronistic”, “retrograde” or “unsuitable for a modern audience”, this brand of pop music will still be relevant and pertinent well into the next century.
For this reason alone, Life on Planet Eartsnop is the Album of the Year. Nuff Said!
Check out the videos of Whisper Softly and She's So Young.