Saturday, June 24, 2006

Shoegaze Will Never Die

With all this rave nostalgia on the Dummy blog recently, I think it's time someone spoke up for the other great scene that rose and fell between 1989 and 1991: shoegaze. Sadly, there'll be no BBC2 documentary to tie in with the release on Monday of Like A Daydream - A Shoegazing Guide, but the compilation proves that someone, somewhere, remembers The Scene That Celebrate[d] Itself. I don't remember it - I was too young - but I wish I'd been there. Shoegaze actually has a lot in common with rave - it's dreamy and druggy, soaring and sexual.

We shoegazers are not a happy lot. We wake up praying in vain that Kevin Shields will finally have got round to releasing the remastered, expanded box-set of early My Bloody Valentine EPs that we've been promised for years. We turn away in disgust from nu-gaze bands like Joy Zipper and the Engineers that replicate the sonics but neglect the song-writing. We beg our friends to buy Loveless or Nowhere, only to find they spent their money on the Hard-Fi LP instead. We are mocked and misunderstood.

And this compilation is not going to change that. The basic problem is that 90% of shoegaze, like 90% of any scene, just wasn't very good. (Apparently it was trendy back then to get a lead singer who couldn't actually sing for toffee.) So there's no reason to buy Like A Daydream, with its tepid contributions from obscure chancers like Revolver and Moose, when you could instead get, say, the brilliant two-CD reissue of Slowdive's Souvlaki. Also, there's nothing here from bands that weren't strictly part of the scene at the time but are inextricable from it in hindsight, like the Jesus & Mary Chain or the Cocteau Twins.

Still, I'm glad Like A Daydream exists. 'Hardcore Will Never Die!' swear the rave nostalgists. Well, neither will shoegaze. Not while I'm around.

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