Thursday, December 6, 2007
I must admit I have mixed feelings about the return of one of my all time favorite groups. My Bloody Valentine are one of the great bands of my youth...their two major albums and the handful of mind-blowing eps they released in the late eighties and early nineties helped form the soundtrack to my early twenties as much as any other group. The band have always seemed more than a little special though due to not only the fact that the music they made together was simply put unlike anything else ever heard, but also because they never attempted to top their epic masterpiece LOVELESS. They just simply disappeared...leaving us with a small but overwhelmingly valuable catalogue that has come to seem untouchable.
My Bloody Valentine, for those who don't know, are a Scottish group led by two of modern music's true visionaries, guitarists Kevin Shields and Bilinda Butcher. Shields is typically the one given all the glory but Butcher is one of rock's great mysterious figures, with her bruising guitar chops burying her ghostlike like voice being one of the great sounds in all of modern rock. Of course band mates Colm O'Ciosoig and Ded Googe are also possessed by their own particular genius.
I'll never forget the impact that both ISN'T ANYTHING and LOVELESS had on me in my early twenties. The music was unlike anything else I had ever heard. Combining much of The Velvet Underground's second album, psychedelic British folk music, post-punk and goth, My Bloody Valentine's sound was, and remains, simply stunning. I remember one day in particular when I was driving my car in a torrential rainstorm in Southern Kentucky while listening to LOVELESS. The sound of Shields and Butcher meshed in perfectly with the raindrops pounding against the roof and windshield of my car, and it finally seemed like the album was the ultimate sound extension of some of Eno and Fripp's most radical experiments of the seventies, and it was just so fucking sublime.
I saw them once...opening for Dinosaur Jr...To say it was the loudest show I have ever seen is a bit of an understatement. I literally couldn't hear any of J. Mascis' set after Shields and Butcher had seemingly shredded the paint off the small club walls around me. I always thought the experience was probably akin to see The Velvets of Syd's Pink Floyd back in the day...but this was mine. It wasn't something I could only read about or wish I had seen. It was in front of me, on top of me...and watching Butcher give a sly smile and wave at the end of their set to a devastated crowd was something I will never forget...
...so, after years of rumors, missed release dates and probably outright lies My Bloody Valentine are back. They sold out six shows for June within minutes, in London, Manchester and Glasgow. I have no doubt that the fortunate fans who snagged them will be guarding the tickets like their babies for the next six months. Shields and Butcher have also announced that the legendary never released follow up to LOVELESS will finally street in 2008, and a long rumored remastered collection of their majestic EPS are also planned.
I am very happy and exciting to see them return, and I can't wait to hear the new music. Shield's score to Sofia Coppola's LOST IN TRANSLATION was lovely stuff, and I have no doubt that he is still possessed by the genius that he was in the late eighties...but in a way I wish it wasn't happening. No matter how great the new album is, equalling ISN'T ANYTHING and LOVELESS will be close to impossible and it is bound to be a let down...maybe more than anything else, I wanted them to remain where they were. There has been something so pure about the fact that they didn't follow up something that perhaps couldn't have been. Maybe it is my fault...perhaps I don't want to let them out of my own memories, but ultimately no matter what happens I will always have that very special period and for that I am grateful.
I hope My Bloody Valentine blows everyone away again here in a few months. No matter though as they are one of the great rock bands of any decade. Kevin Shields and Bilinda Butcher can proudly hold their own with any of rocks true visionaries from Brian Wilson to Bjork. I wish them all the luck in the world, our sick and plastic music world has never needed their likes more than now.
Long may they shimmer...
My Bloody Valentine's official MySpace can be found here.
Their official site is located here.
And the most essential fan site can be studied here.
For a laugh...here is a shot of me back in the day wearing my favorite concert T-Shirt, still recovering from the loudest and most incendiary show I have ever seen.