Why My Bloody Valentine's 'MBV' Has Come Too Late to Stop the End of the WorldBy John Doran
So, what the ancient Mayans predicted has finally come to pass, and only five weeks later than expected. At the end of a 5,125 year cycle, or B’ak’tun on the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar, it was said that this phase of human existence would end and a new age would be ushered in by a collision with the planet Nibiru. Which historians now realize was a metaphor for “the unexpected release of an indie rock record”.
My Bloody Valentine were one of a cluster of British/Irish heavy psychedelic rock groups in the mid to late 1980s, taking advantage of advances in FX pedal technology, the wide availability of ecstasy, the rebirth in popularity of LSD and brief relaxation round the laws governing the acceptability of leather trousers, to make significant advances in completely fucked up music. While one of the best, MBV were by no means on their own, sharing stages and fans with Loop, Godflesh, Spacemen 3, The Telescopes, Cathedral, World Domination Enterprises, the Jesus and Mary Chain, The Pastels, the Cocteau Twins and Primal Scream. Glossing over their truly awful debut album This Is Your Bloody Valentine and a clutch of wishy-washy EPs, the band really hit their stride with the release of their second album Isn’t Anything in 1987, when front man Kevin Shields managed to successfully make his guitar sound like a melancholy whale being shot out of a cannon and then sighing all the way to heaven.
I was 16 when this album came out and I was obsessed with it because it sounded how I imagined falling in love with girl and having sex with her while on drugs would feel like. (When this actually happened to me in reality, it was to "Stabbed In The Face" by Wolf Eyes on loop and was everything I hoped it would be.) But this album and two amazing EPs (Feed Me With Your Kiss, You Made Me Realise) is to me the sound of being a teenager during summertime in the late 80s.
Then there was the wait for Loveless. Mad rumors began circulating. Alan McGee went round to Shields’ house to see where the LP that was bankrupting his record company Creation was and found the band smoking weed and trying to make terrapins race round a Scalextric track. Some said Bobby Gillespie from Primal Scream returned from visiting them claiming that they’d given up on making an album altogether and were just breeding hundreds of chinchillas in the studio instead. Either way, Loveless came out in 1991, back in the days when a band taking three years to make an LP was front page news for the NME.
And then…the atrocity happened…Kevin Shields did absolutely nothing. When C17th Irish philosopher Edmund Burke said: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” he was thinking about Kevin Shields. For when MBV hung up their guitar pedals at the height of their fame, a terrible power vacuum yawned open. The field was clear to stripey-tousered, juggling wazzocks like the Wonderstuff and lycra wearing buffoons Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine to become famous – when in a more civilized age you wouldn’t even have bothered to cross the road to set fire to them. The absence of the most forward looking guitarist of his generation in the early 90s, also led to a slew of appallingly boring shoe-gaze copyists such as Chapterhouse and Slowdive, meaning guitar music was literally anyone’s for the taking.
This meant, the retro-head guitar owners got their first look in since the late 60s. Suddenly making your guitar sound like a sighing whale wasn’t an option any more, all the FX pedals and psychedelic drugs were swapped for Kinks riffs, cocaine and talking like a brickie from Bermondsey. Utter bullshit like Blur and Menswear were hailed as heroes.
If only it had stopped there, though. Britpop itself ushered in the Cool Britannia era which erased the social and sonic progressiveness of the 1970s and 1980s in one fell swoop and culminated in the morally blank New Labour administration. (It is important to note that as soon as Tony Blair was ensconced into 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister, the first thing he did was to summon Alan McGee and Noel Gallagher, the singer of Creation’s biggest signings Oasis, to visit him. He wanted to be sure that Kevin Shields’ amazing drum and bass records would never see the light of day – literally the only thing that could have threatened his premiership at that point.)
Blair was the missing piece of the jigsaw, allowing and justifying the attack on Afghanistan and the war in Iraq, both designed to destabilize the Middle East, due to the influence of Right Wing evangelical Christian factions in the White House who wished to precipitate the end of the world as they believed was prophesized in the Revelations Of St John. And now that the State of Israel is firing missiles at Syria they finally have their wish. So please join me in saying: “Thanks Kevin. Thanks a fucking bunch for taking 22 years to make a record that could have saved the world. All you had to do was make a bunch of songs that sound like being hit on the head with a shovel after doing poppers while listening to a melancholy whale sighing. But you couldn’t be bothered and now we’re all going to die in planet wide nuclear annihilation.”
To buy My Bloody Valentine’s new album mbv go here.