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Forever Young: How Rock ’n’ Roll Grew Up

Forever Young: How Rock ’n’ Roll Grew Up

Sat Jul 6, 11-12midnight, BBC4

By Phil Harrison
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‘I like to see old punks,’ says Richard Thompson, ‘it warms my heart.’ Just as well, because elderly members of rock ’n’ roll tribes are becoming more and more common. This grey-haired but sprightly doc, first shown in 2010, tracks the evolution of the form from volatile yet disposable teen trash to the tame, stately beast that haunts today’s concert halls.

Along the way, it skewers a few rock myths while respecting the essence of the form. Wasn’t the fetishising of youth always predominantly a marketing scam? Don’t many of the best songs actually mature beyond all recognition in the hands of seasoned performers? And aren’t the preoccupations of youth largely tediously universal anyway? On the other hand, who would seriously argue that rock ’n’ roll hasn’t become tiresomely worthy and respectful in recent years? Live Aid and Britpop are skewered here as prime examples of this development.

Maybe we’ve gone full circle. Just as in the pre-Beatles ’60s, much of today’s chart pop involves ultra-young, squeaky-clean performers being marketed towards pre-pubescent girls. Until another generation starts producing characters as compelling as Robert Wyatt, Mark E Smith and Iggy Pop, the kids may have to hold their tongues.
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