Thursday, June 25, 2009
Steven Wells RIP
Saddened to hear of the death of music press legend Steven Wells. My earnest teenage self was infuriated by his demolitions of whiney indie bands, but I eventually saw the funny side and realised that he was often right. As he says in his final column, why do society's most privileged feel their story is one worth telling? This rant for the Quietus may pick on an easy target (the egregious Los Campesinos) but the wider point about twee's political and cultural conservatism is bang on the money.
While Britpop/Cool Britiannia was in its ghastly back-slapping, self-deluding pomp, he was one of the few NME writers calling bullshit on the whole enterprise. He understood the importance of politics to culture, and his punk rock socialism and impassioned championing of multi-culturalism has had a big impact on me. Only last year, he wrote this funny, but angry, defence of immigration. In the light on BNP election gains, his piece is sadly all the more relevant and necessary.
While it's probably true he ran out of new things to say about music, it was still entertaining when one of his rants would wind up morons on the Guardian blog. I recall an amusing anti-guitar piece he wrote recently that suggested that the world's greatest guitarist was Richey Manic, 'cos his guitar wasn't plugged in. Cue "that doesn't even make sense" comments from humour-bypass idiots.
His accounts of his cancer treatment stand as his finest achievement: brutally honest, funny and touching. RIP Swells. Hope you're enjoying a ginger ale in heaven with Joey Ramone and Joe Strummer.