After a quite enjoyable evening dining with a few good friends here in Boulder, I told Colin (yes, famous for Big Ink Colin) that I would e-mail him a song by my “current favorite [active] band.” I quickly realized though that the purpose of this blog is to extend that web of personal sharing of which everybody who knows me quickly comes to know. Dave made an earlier remark last week about there not being a need to make note of favorite bands, styles, and other issues of taste because it all would slowly reveal itself with time. While I certainly agree, and my musical interests go well beyond my “current favorite [active] band,” I still feel there’s a need to make a special mention of Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is currently shopping for a new (and better) label and haven’t released their official debut CD, The Journey, outside of the UK, so maybe I will be part of something larger in time. They are the first band that inspired me to travel 5000 miles for a concert. That says something (maybe more about me though). Their music is decidedly not indie in that Shins vis-à-vis Pavement-eque way, and they also don’t fit the Britpop moniker, despite having been conceived in Liverpool. They are a though, a significant artist IMO.
So, now is when I tell you why I like Amsterdam and why you might. Of course, that’s impossible, but I’ll say the following. Amsterdam is inspired by The Jam, The Clash, Bruce Springsteen, and a time in which more than merely the famous could be political in their music without making it the main issue. So, Amsterdam is not political in the way, say, The Levellers are political. That’s not the goal, but it comes across in the music. I’m about to make a completely sweeping generalization, but here goes. While I love indie music, how often does indie music stand for something even indirectly? The Decemberists and a few others spring to mind, but more often than not, it’s simply not the case. However, back in the 80s (another sweeper here), the “indie”/college bands of the day were addressing political issues under the guise of catchy pop (see R.E.M, “Cuyahoga,” etc.)
I have a lot of work to do, so I’m going to have to cut my discussion short. I will post an Amsterdam b-side, that I trust the people will enjoy. Also, directly below, I’m linking to the band’s accoustic performance of “Joe’s Kiss” (written for fallen hero Joe Strummer) on BBC2. It’s one of the band’s finest hours, despite it being more relaxed than the band’s electric set.
Here’s the b-side “You Can’t Trust the People.”
While I’m a huge fan of democracy (even have some t-shirts), this song perfectly captures the essence of Paul Weller in The Jam’s classic “Going Underground,” when he laments: “And the public gets what the public wants/But I want nothing this society’s got/I’m going underground, (going underground).” Talk about a lyrical masterpiece. Of course though, the public doesn’t always get what the public wants, since “You choose your leaders and place your trust/As their lies wash you down and their promises rust,” but that’s for another day.
Gosh, this YouTube linking is so great I’m finally posting below a video I shot of “Joe’s Kiss” being performed at an Amsterdam warm-up gig the night before the big stage at Matthew Street in Liverpool. It was held at the Olde Red Lion in Little Sutton, Ellesmere Port. I promise, no more in this posting!