Thursday, 21 July 2016

Alan Vega's Dead

I must pay tribute to Alan Vega, the legendary singer of Suicide. I've been listening to his music since I was about eighteen, and I remember fondly my high five with him when I was in the audience at their show at The Garage in London back in 2000. Vega was punk before punk, and punk during punk but he was so punk that he didn't even like the term 'punk' - for him, being called a punk was hardly a compliment. For him, the punk was the guy who runs away from a fight. Perhaps this reflected the thoughts of an older generation, but then that was the most punk thing about him - he was 39 in 1977 and he'd been doing his thing for years. As with Can, Wire, Robert Quine and others, Vega is a man before, during and after his time.

Punk did that. It discovered and scooped up many people who had been on the fringes of the creative world for some time. In the creative world, as in any other world, there is a tendency toward tribalism, and some people don't belong in tribes, nor do they thrive in them. Vega knew this. I remember an interview with him, where he and Martin Rev (the other half of Suicide) were talking about their free jazz influences, and Vega said something of the order of 'who the f*** listens to Cecil Taylor now?' That interview is the reason I found out who Cecil Taylor is, and why his albums are in my collection. One might ask, 'who the f*** listens to Alan Vega now?' I remember how underwhelmed I was by ARE Weapons, as their sound was so obviously modeled on that of Suicide, and they didn't care. Vega didn't care, but he was original with it.

I suppose the man himself would probably sum up all this up by saying:

Alan Vega's dead
Vega Vega Vega Vega Vega baby
Alan Vega's dead
Vega Vega Vega Vega Vega baby yeah
He's up in the sky
Ah why why why
He's up in the sky - ugh!
Awww because he's a dead guy
Alan Vega's dead
Vega Vega baby
Aw listen ... listen ... listen
Vega Vega Vega Vega Vega baby

And so on. Rest in peace.

Bestest wishes
James O.

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