GORDON wrote:From a personal point of view and please don't think this sounds churlish but when I DO get round to listening to archive recordings it reminds me of what my career should have and could have been today if the right combination and chemistry and people were around me at that time to really push all aspects of my music forward.
Yes, of course there were many well meaning people around but sadly that chemistry of personalities and caring...truly caring wasn't there..
Like every thing in life it is a matter of luck, timing and being in the right place. Circumstances plays a huge part in whether an artists breaks into universal big time or not.
Sadly it wasn't meant for me BUT look what I gained along the way...Hilary,a wonderful family and wonderful friends like you who care enough to want to take out precious time to write your thoughts about this Troubadour on this Forum.For that I thank you.
Check out the music of the great Finzi when you get a chance. His romance will I guarantee bring tears to your eyes.
I've had some pretty serious discussion about this with other Gordon aficionados over the years. We often mention the fact that Fear Of The Dark dented the UK Top 40 and the 12" single version (I have the picture disc - remember THAT, Gordon?!) even dared to flirt with disco, which was a prevalent force in current music of the day. There was almost an expectation of bigger things to come from a commercial point of view. But, notwithstanding Gordon's own recollection of the period and reasons only he knows as to why maybe some things didn't pan out quite as they might have done, you have to also look at wider trends of the day.
Just around the corner we entered the 1980's. This was a strange decade for music in general. The synth craze influenced production styles as did digital recording, the advent of MIDI keyboards, the fad for gated drums etc, all contributing to a new style of music, which if we're all totally honest, hasn't aged at all well.
Now, let's look at Gordon's music. What did he deliver? The Peacock Party. I'll be completely honest here and say that I for one was disappointed with it, at least to begin with. It seemed as though the prog rock material had been side-lined (temporarily?) in favour of more jazzy and folky material. I also just didn't get the humour of the record. For pete's sake, the book it is inspired by was a children's book. What was I expecting? The album sleeve alone should have been enough of a clue but in my 13 year old wisdom I couldn't grasp it. When Airwaves came out I was only partially relieved. It didn't grab my attention as the earlier trilogy had done. Following this Gordon started making the solo acoustic albums.
The truth is that Gordon's earlier music didn't fit into the music scene of the 80's. There wasn't much market for it due to the changing times. The commercial pop market is a very fickle animal indeed. Not much 70's music transcended the move to "modern" music of the period. In hindsight from a strictly artistic viewpoint, I think Gordon got it right! The late 80's / early 90's saw a revival of interest in guitar based music and there was a concerted effort to get back to basics, stripping off all the high gloss of the 80's production style. If you care to listen to The Peacock Party today, it has aged brilliantly and far better than a lot of contemporary music of the period. It's rootsy feel fits right in with what's been in vogue for the past 20 odd years. A lot of people proclaim that rock music (which presumably must also include prog rock?) is dead today as "popular" music has fractured off into many sub categories and genres. Again, Gordon's acoustic records fit into "genre" headings now.
Personally speaking I've struggled to hear in my head the sound of a "pop" Gordon making prog rock instrumental albums in the 1980's and beyond. I'm sure the additional money achieved from chart success would have been welcomed by Gordon though! Regarding Airwaves, I can now better understand (thank you for the liner notes, Gordon) how and why that album came about. With that in mind I can appreciate certain aspects of that record better than ever before. As for The Peacock Party I now regard that as a totally unique masterpiece.
I do also believe it must be a much more daunting task to put out an album made by just yourself with little other help from others in terms of musical support and backing. The fact that there are so many great albums that are fun to listen to but that are essentially just acoustic guitar, shows a lot about true musicianship and craftmanship that a lot of pop records could only wish for.
I do think the market for instrumental music will always be comparatively small in relative terms when compared with vocal records. Singers, whether justifiably so or not, tend to be the draw and focal point of any group. Instrumental ensembles haven't quite got the same draw when you're looking into the mainstream market. You only have to look at TV programs showcasing raw talent and young hopefuls. How many of these people who want a pop career, are instrumentalists? How many are "singers"?
One final thought on this (I've rambled on too long already) is the world of classical music. Until quite recently it was easy to criticise the establishment for being quite snooty about anyone entering the domain who wasn't professionally trained and who didn't play the "appropriate" pieces. The rock meets classical genre was traditionally looked down upon by those with loftier egos and heritages to preserve. Faced with the inevitable prejudices and demands of the mainstram audience I think anyone working in a primarily instrumental, but non-classical field must find it very difficult to break through. In the days before the advent of the internet, when everybody can get their 15 minutes of fame via Youtube, I think it must have been an incredibly difficult task indeed.
Gordon, you've done pretty good so far in my opinion!