Have you heard? Bruce Allen recently said something shocking. No, not his controversial remarks regarding Canadian immigrants–that's nothing. If you want something truly outrageous, flash back to his Vancouver Magazine profile this past spring entitled "Bruce Almighty". Try this on for size: "I get pissed off that too many artists are given the label 'Great' when they haven't earned it.”¦I do not believe the Tragically Hip are great. I believe they're a Canadian act that wouldn't even be in existence today if it wasn't for Canadian content. So when I sit there and hear about the New Pornographers being great, or Neko Case being great–I go crazy. What, you earned 'Great' because you sold out the fucking Railway Club? I don't get it."
Well, I guess he's right about one thing: he don't get it. But wait–who is this guy? Some kind of music promoter? Didn't he have something to do with Vancouver's late-to-the-party new wavers Strange Advance? Oh, yeah, and Loverboy? Upon further investigation, it turns out that Allen is also a radio personality. He calls himself "the voice of the people". Yes, he's a regular Joe Lunchpail–if your lunch pail happens to be made out of solid gold.
The fact that a zillionaire should host a segment called Reality Check doesn't surprise me. Money buys wisdom and according to Allen, he just says what we're all thinking. Really? Who's "we"? I get the impression that Allen fancies himself a little blue around the collar, hanging with the truck drivers and dry wallers at the Boo Pub talkin' NASCAR and meat.
In reality, though, he is simply championing the status quo: backslapping golfers, smooth-jazz soccer moms, and the white, uptight, Gore-Tex set. You know, "the people".
So when this Foghorn Leghorn without feathers equates musical greatness with sales and popularity, I wonder what the rest of his life is like. Is every meal a Quarter Pounder With Cheese washed down with a Starbucks Frappuccino? Are his IKEA Billy bookshelves lined with nothing but Danielle Steel and John Grisham? Does his DVD collection look like the new-release section at Blockbuster? And what about the paltry few musical genres that exist outside of corporate arena rock? For Allen, Musical Youth's 1982 hit "Pass the Dutchie" must have been the high-water mark for reggae. Is this really the reality we're supposed to be checking?
Okay then, let's close the Railway Club. Shut 'er down. Nothing worth listening to has ever been played in a small club, certainly nothing great. Charlie Parker was a chump. CBGB was one big loserville. Neko Case, you've been warned–start filling Wembley Stadium or quit calling yourself "Neko the Great". I'm not trying to tell you your business here, but would a colourful headband kill you? New Pornographers, I'm just going to throw this out there: David Foster. Seriously, think about it.
Let's face it, bigger is better. Go big or go home. And so on. It's a bold reality, a telling-it-like-it-is kind of reality, as concise as a bumper sticker and just as incisive. Or maybe somewhere it's always 1983, where everybody's working for the weekend, where you've got the eyes of a stranger, and even though it might cut like a knife, it feels so right. Wait”¦did I say that out loud or was I just thinking what everyone is saying? Or is it the other way around? Maybe I'm the one that doesn't get it. I'm pretty sure that's how Allen would see it. Hey, that's great with me.
Link: Bruce Allen Talent