Rock of Aged: Can Whitesnake push the embattled genre forward? Dave Bidini’s Record of the Month Club: Rock is very old. It is grey-bearded and doddering. Palsied. Broken out in sores. Rock — not to be confused with rock ’n’ roll, which is alive evermore — has largely descended into heart-sinking concert revues like the upcoming Frampton Comes Alive wheeze-bag, dodgy reunions and CD reissues of classic albums, not forgetting the “Classic Albums Live” racket, where identikit bands approximate live renderings of ancient records at $40 a ticket to young men and women whose taste is the same as their parents’.
Perhaps I’m being cynical — A Night at the Opera is, after all, a fabulous record, however played — but unless Rock looks forward and not back, it’s destined to become to future generations what rugby and debate clubs were to varsity kids in the ’50s. It’s no wonder that the best rock ’n’ roll isn’t even found in Rock, but in Hard Disco or Electro-Thrash or New Wave Cool. Recent albums by The Strokes, Peter, John and Bjorn and TV on the Radio evince this. They are all very rock ’n’ roll, but none of them are actually very Rock.
In 1984, my girlfriend went to Italy. The worst place a girlfriend could ever go. We’d been dating for three years, and now she was going to a country of beautiful art (that made you feel drunk), great wine (that got you drunk) and handsome men (who wanted to get drunk with you). In what would likely prove a fruitless act of adolescent desperation, I did what any young man would do who wanted his girlfriend to return to the land of snow and cold from a place of high beauty and romance: I made a mixtape.
TOP 5 MIXTAPE READS
1. Cassette From My Ex: Stories & Soundtracks of Lost Love, edited by Found magazine’s Jason Bitner, includes artists such as The Magnetic Fields and Rick Moody sharing their favourite personal mixtapes ( cassettefrommyex.com).2. Love is a Mix Tape is Rolling Stone writer Rob Sheffield’s memoir of his relationship with girlfriend Renee in the 1990s, told through 22 mixtapes.
3. Talking to Girls About Duran Duran, also by Rob Sheffield, is the prequel and focuses on his coming-of-age in the dorky 1980s.
4. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, naturally — the mother of all 1990s Top 5-list music novels.
5. The Vinyl Princess by Yvonne Prinz is a young adult novel refreshingly told from the point of view of a 16-year-old music-geek girl working a summer job at Berkeley’s vinyl mecca. It’s perfect for introducing the children of mixtape’s heyday to the genre and also as a crossover for nostalgic Gen-Xers. — Nathalie Atkinson, National Post