Well-known member
"inevitable retreats and acts of collective cultural cowardice. i do think music acts as a gauge of something real. i do think that space is opened up by the genuinely new. and that music like this is a refusal of the frontier, not just on the part of fatboy slim but on the part of the collective.”

Luke Davis, in context of Fatboy Slim

my interpretation of this is that hardcore had high degrees of sonic innovation, social energy and cultural currency. big beat harnessed/misappropriated those things to varying extents and with them performed an act of cultural cowardice.

i assume most of us agree that the same thing happened with grime and stormzy.

so a few things:

1) what other examples are there?

2) what are the mechanics of it; what exactly does a fatboy slim or a stormzy do the the music and culture surrounding music. how do they tamper with the inputs and how does that effect the output?

3) what examples are there of cultural bravery? what are the mechanics of that?


Can turn naughty
Might be worth keeping in mind that lad culture was in full swing when fatboy came along. Loaded mag, Chris Evans, all that stuff. Was some kind of lowering of the bar imo.

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
I should clarify that I mean skinny ties radio-friendly guitar new wave

not new wave meaning whatever DJs played at Mudd Club, Danceteria, b/c that version of new wave is awesome, and one of true disco's true descendants

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
idk about the particular mechanics - seems like they're closely related to the industry mechanics of production + distribution

but this does feel like another way of saying recuperation, or perhaps a specific element of recuperation

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
cultural bravery vs. cowardice is really difficult to pin down b/c of their subjectivity

especially now when everything is personal branding - I've said before I don't think there's such a thing as truly underground culture, unless it's somehow off the internet

in a capitalist context the inevitable pressure toward monetization is always going to lead to smoothing out into something more palatable-sellable

some forms of expression are more inherently disposed to commodification than others but it's all the same in the end (i.e. no ethical consumption, pt. 1000)

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
there's also the difficulty of separating out - if they even can be separated - artistic choices from cultural bravery/cowardice ones

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
gay racially mixed underground disco->white bread Bee Gees disco
but even this is complicated b/c those were never truly separate things

throughout some period of time, an underground queer culture was co-opted into a brief moment of consumer hegemony, and then discarded

but you can't point to a single moment or mechanism

and even big beat wasn't a calculated ploy, tho maybe Fatboy Slim's involvement was

like, when exactly does it become cowardice?


Well-known member
poetry is the master discourse becasue it mounts raids on the unknown. philosophy in contrast forms settlements after the initial incursion.

again, this is what Rimbaud is getting at in his famous letter to Georges Izambard

"it is a question of reaching the unknown by the disordering of all the senses."

and in the letter to Paul Demeny

"He reaches the unknown, and when, bewildered, he ends by losing the intelligence of his visions, he has seen them. Let him die as he leaps through unheard of and unnameable things; other horrible workers will come; they will begin from the horizons where the other one collapsed."

this is the model of futurism as articulated in 1871.
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Well-known member
important thread in relation to this (and the one barty was referencing when he asked me to listen to the fatboy slim thing)

some of my favourite writing is on that thread.
the effect of a dedicated, organised pushback against rave culture bearing fruit. from the Criminal Justice Bill, to alcopops, to Britpop, to the (then) new beer barns, to Loaded magazine etc etc etc it was, in a very real sense, a counter-revolution. progress was rolled back and that ground has not been regained. we are still behind 1992 culturally speaking.
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Well-known member
a music is a way of being in the world, an experience, a state of mind, an emotion, a way of moving and way of being within the body.

a stance and an attitude vis a vis the world/other people/the very fact of being alive and embodied, incarnate, in the holding pen.

this has to be the starting point of any discussion.


Well-known member
that's assuming that the people who were into Big Beat were the same people who had been into rave and then retreated it from it

in fact i should think there was virtually no crossover

the people who had got into Big Beat were probably in large degree people who had been (and still were) into Britpop

so in a certain sense that is a forward movement for them, into some form of beats-and-bass-and-samples culture - a rock'n'roll version of it for sure

meanwhile no one who was actually into rave / hardcore is retreating from - they are actually following its logic through with jungle, drum and bass etc

actually that's not entirely true

the cowardice move there would be people who had been into rave /91-92 hardcore and then went back to softer option of club-oriented house - handbag, funky house (the original kind), progressive house

i think the idea of a cultural retreat is based on an idea of there being a single unitary pop culture

whereas in fact the kind of people who never accepted or had any time for rave remained non-accepting

they weren't up for it, and then suddenly not up for it


Well-known member
also i have to take exception to the swipe at the BeeGees, who made fabulous disco records (and had prior form with black music - they wrote "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart", as in Al Green)

one of my little polemics - which is also what i think is The Truth - is that the crossover mainstream disco was better than the underground stuff

or at least

nearly all the really good disco was commercially successful and in the charts

Chic, Donna Summer, The Whispers, Michael Jackson, Earth Wind and Fire, Gloria Gaynor, you name it

the underground disco stuff is, on the whole, not as good. i mean, it's fine but it's not up there with Chic or Sister Sledge.

and again, i don't see where the idea of a retreat figures

the underground disco gay culture pre-existed the mainstream

those same people who were into it - for whom it was their culture - stayed into it, carried on being into it through the postdisco club culture and the beginnings of house

in the meantime the world cottoned onto the music and it blew up, became in the USA the dominant sound of radio for a few years ... then it faded (in the US, not really in UK) ... except not really because many of the biggest pop stars of the Eighties - Madonna, New Order, were essentially the continuation of disco

disco changed music - the Eighties would have sounded completely different without disco and funk. You had people like Phil Collins making essentially Earth Wind and Fire records.


Can turn naughty
@blissblogger how well versed are you in underground disco? It's vast and there are so many incredible tunes. Chic are like the beatles of disco. Cooler, ofc. But there's so much more there


Well-known member
thirdform loves it when i quote ezra pound so here we go

"When you start searching for ‘pure elements’ in literature you will find that literature has been created by the following classes of persons:

Inventors. Men who found a new process, or whose extant work gives us the first known example of a process.

The masters. Men who combined a number of such processes, and who used them as well as or better than the inventors.

The diluters. Men who came after the first two kinds of writer, and couldn’t do the job quite as well.

Good writers without salient qualities. Men who are fortunate enough to be born when the literature of a given country is in good working order, or when some particular branch of writing is ‘healthy’. For example, men who wrote sonnets in Dante’s time, men who wrote short lyrics in Shakespeare’s time or for several decades thereafter, or who wrote French novels and stories after Flaubert had shown them how.

Writers of belles-lettres. That is, men who didn’t really invent anything, but who specialized in some particular part of writing, who couldn’t be considered as ‘great men’ or as authors who were trying to give a complete presentation of life, or of their epoch.

The starters of crazes.

Until the reader knows the first two categories he will never be able ‘to see the wood for the trees’. He may know what he ‘likes’. He may be a ‘compleat book-lover’, with a large library of beautifully printed books, bound in the most luxurious bindings, but he will never be able to sort out what he knows to estimate the value of one book in relation to others, and he will be more confused and even less able to make up his mind about a book where a new author is ‘breaking with convention’ than to form an opinion about a book eighty or a hundred years old.

He will never understand why a specialist is annoyed with him for trotting out a second- or third-hand opinion about the merits of his favourite bad writer. "


Well-known member
i've heard a lot of disco - commercial, underground, and stuff that's in between (i.. that might get into the Top 75 of the UK chart but not actually be a proper hit - the Sharon Redd, Prelude, West End type stuff)

i can confidently assert that there is nothing as good as "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough" or "We Are Family"

(Also i don't believe there was any disco that actively strove to stay underground - they all wanted to sell)

i mean this tune - it's a classic underground late-disco gay anthem, i actually bought it at the time believe it or not, i think it grazed the Top 75 UK

it's really cool, great vocal from Carol J - but it's not up there with the stellar diva tunes like "Young Hearts Run Free" or "I Will Survive" which actually made the Top 20.

it's a surprisingly good sifting mechanism, the charts

the odd great thing will go missing, but generally speaking as a mechanism for popular desire to manifest itself, it has worked