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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: December 21, 2009 @ 7:38 pm

    Who dares suggest The Irish Times doesn’t have its finger on modern culture’s throbbing pulse?

    Hugh Linehan

    Some readers  have taken umbrage today at the description of Rage Against The Machine as a ‘little-known’ band in our report on the Great Christmas No 1 Battle. I’m sorry, but what do you expect? The Irish Times has always approached ‘youth culture’ with a certain diffidence. Long may it remain so.

    I count myself as one of the younger members of staff, having joined around the time of the Suez Crisis, so wasn’t surprised to be appointed editor of The Ticket when that excellent chronicle of ‘the flicks’ and  ‘beat music’ was launched. In the decades that have passed since, I think we’ve shown that we can be as ‘down with the kids’ as anyone. And it’s most unfair to presume that the writer of the article in question, Brigadier-General (Retd) Brian Boyd (pictured below, right, with unidentified friend), isn’t in touch with modern trends. In fact, he is rarely far from the moshpit, even when confined to his bathchair…

    Actually, I do remember having a conversation with a senior editor in here, around 2004, where I encountered great resistance to using the word ‘bling’ in a column about the Fianna Fail tent at the Galway races. Could I put the word in quotes? Could I perhaps explain it? Could I just take it out? No, no and no.

    And only a couple of weeks ago, someone in here expressed astonishment that a ‘little-known’ movie called There Will Be Blood had been picked as the newspaper’s best film of the decade. Like, groovy, daddy-o.

    • Daniel says:

      Well not only is it displaying a lack of ‘up to date-ness’ (yes yes, I know, I just made it up), it also is just plain wrong. RATM are far from a “little-known” band. So while it may be seen as out of touch, its also wrong.

      Fine if I ask my granddad he might not know, but people whom are into music will surely have at least heard of them. And I’m surprised that it was Brian Boyd who made such an error, usually he displays a keen sense of current trends in the music industry…well most of the time anyway

    • What disappoints me so much about Brian Boyds “little known” comment is how much more he could have conveyed & illuminated the readership by using at best the phrase “agit rockers” or…. if that made madame geraldine spew her latte onto the lapels her kennedy & McSharry tweed jacket, the phrase “alternative rock band”.

      Either way the article failed to convey the whole truth about the band and the plucky effort to thwart a saccarine manufactured christmas no 1.

    • dealga says:

      Would it be fair to say that a sub-editor added the detail for Brian Boyd?

    • kynos says:

      (Thanks Mr Linehan. The print of the IT front page with my granddad’s picture on it 3/11/42 arrived beautifully framed packaged and produced my dad in fact has been given it already as his Christmas present and was very very moved and impressed by it. As a general gift for sending front and other pages significant to people it’s very impressive and excellent value thanks for directing me towards the page (I’m assuming yer Biddy Earley in Another Place on this site!! : )

    • Glenn says:

      This is such a foolish article! Just like all the other articles… Seems to me like the media are big Simon Cowell fans because all I can find about this triumph is media spin!

      The fact of the matter is, we have an institution in Simon Cowell who thinks he can controll the industry with his silly little shows… Well, we have shown him that not everyone follows the herd! Let me run the ticket for a week and I’ll show you what matters!

    • Daniel Devery says:

      Having had a ‘mature reflection’ at the behest of the ‘paper of record’, I think it is fair to say that yes, you are hopelessly out of touch with a lot of people. Not just the ‘kids’.

    • Aidan says:

      Well describing four gents who have repeatedly played to crowds of 80,000+ when headlining festivals all over the globe as ‘little known’ is too far off the mark to be allowed to pass without comment.

    • Niall says:

      It seems like many members of the IT staff are extremely parochial, and not just when it comes to music. It’s not even as though they are part of the “youth music” scene. We’re talking about a song that’s over 15 years old.

      How on earth did describing RATM as “little known” ever manage to get past so many people? Forget about record sales and concert figures for a moment and you still have the fact that the band’s political activism has earned them much airtime over the years.

      15 years ago, perhaps, we could have forgiven the writer’s ignorance, but all he needed to do, was pull up their wikipedia page. It was just plain lazy and silly.

      One of the strange features of Irish newspapers and magazines is that while an editor can sign off on an article describing one of the world’s most famous bands as little known, they also sign off on music reviews which are often impossible to understand unless you’re part of the Whelan’s scene and are familiar with bands who have sold a tiny percentage of the number of records Rage have sold.

      Last week, while reading the Metro on the DART, I came across a brief review of And So I Watched From Afar. It went:

      “Unfairly castigated as an Irish Mogwai,(that would be God is an Astronaut you’re thinking of), the Belfast noize bringers showed that sometimes it’s what is left unsaid that counts. Instrumental rock has never sounded so visceral and politically charged.”

      Most Irish people don’t know who God is an Astronaut are. Most don’t even know what a Mogwai is. Compare Mogwai to RATM in terms of fame, and there’s not even a contest. I don’t even know what a noize-bringer is. I find myself asking the question “Who is the writer writing for?”

      I hate reading reviews designed for scenesters made up of references to genres most people aren’t familiar with. Describing something as indie, punk, electonic or metal is okay, but if you tell most people that a band is part of a nu-gaze or noise-pop movement, they’ll just end up confused.

    • Dave says:

      “Most Irish people don’t know who God is an Astronaut are”

      You’re upset that the review put the album in its proper context? The “noize-bringer” bit is awful, but what you’ve got is one sentence for people who are familiar with the genre and one for those that aren’t. Seems like a fairly decent split for a two-sentence review.

      The “little-known” comment was fairly poor form for a music writer, but mistakes do happen. I don’t know why people have been so indignant about it.

    • nicholas says:

      i can understand how the ‘little known’ tag would upset RATM fans as it is inaccurate. For anyone who has followed music since the early 90′s they have an instantly recognisable sound and have had considerable global success, even if one thinks they are not particularly good. However, in the broader context of things when referencing a tv show that attracts an audience of 20m viewers, RATM are a fringe act. The irony being that they are now most certainly a household name in the UK & Ireland not to mention the fact that Sony BMG will come out on top regardless of the outcome. RATM fans should rejoice; a no. 1 in this territory would certainly be a good incentive to tour the festivals next summer.

    • Billy says:

      I think the use of ‘little known’ was just an attempt to spice it up a bit. it makes the achievement of toppling the x-factor seem even more outlandish and unlikely. why let the truth get in the way of a good story. (by the way, am i alone in thinking it’s kind of sad that for such a politically minded group, the only thing RATM have successfully raged against is the x-factor?)

    • steve white says:

      little known, not widely known may have been more appropriate to show that although a lot of people know who they are, not every range of society or xfactor viewer would.

      whats the points of this blog, are you going to take the piss and snipe at your readers, or going to treat yor job seriously and correct inaccuracies, stop trying to act cool, by by being pissy on your blog, grow up don’t bite back with examples of what people say in the comments, theres whole lot of difference between that and what you print in your paper of record.

    • Carl says:

      ‘Out of touch’ is not open to interpretation in this case, it is a fact. Go anywhere in this country where a large group of 16-25 year olds congregate, play “Killing in the Name” or many other songs by Rage Against the Machine, and they will recognize it. Most will join in, sing along, and probably become rowdy.

      This has nothing to do with the recent Christmas Number 1, any more than the infamous Lordi win for Finland in the 2006 Eurovision shocked anyone within a certain age bracket.

    • Hugh says:

      Out of touch? Nay, nay and thrice Nay.

      How could anyone accuse a newspaper that has weekly columns about the Church of Ireland and Presbyterianism as out of touch with the modern youth of Ireland?

    • Brian says:

      im rather more curious to know why no-one has commented on this response piece, and its truly patetic and self-serving attempt to fob off the protest of RATM fans. While i do regard the Irish Times, and Mr. Linehan, as respectable, quality reading, this is quite simply pants! its the little equivalent of a Eugene Levy-esque dad character in some god-awful American Pie sequel/reboot. I like irreverant piss-take journalism as much as the next guy, perhaps even a little bit more so, but this is just plain insulting. Not that the title of the article didn’t warn me as to the prospective content, but i thought at leas it would be entertaining. It wasn’t.

    • pol H says:

      RATM showed that the manafactured pop industry is not untouchable. The days of bubble pop could be coming to an end, you do not have to follow the type of music RATM play,but they stand for something we have long forgotten; Famous people should be famous for being talented not merley for being famous. Long have we suffered poor music acts from these shows, we need real musicians in our charts from sinatra to MJ these real musicians have no chance due to the domination by the bubble pop manafacturing industry.

    • 127.0.0.1 says:

      Sad to say I would not take an IT to keep up with culture, new or old. I take IT for the politics/business, its probably the only thing done half well.
      As far as being on top of the current musical, theatrical or art trends is concerned, the IT ain’t it.
      Usually its just a re-hash of mainstream run o the mill banality covered by everyone else first, stuff the “big” music industry is paying to get plugged, and dross that over 45′s listen to, see Genesis and U2.
      There is little on Experimental/Dance/Lounge/Dub/Hip hop and apart from the excellent “On the record” blog, there is a serious deficit on independent music, which is really where its at.
      It is a shame that it is so badly researched, I mean, the people writing it are being paid are they not? (I can hear rifles being loaded, better duck)

    • Blimey O'Riley says:

      Kynos @4 who was you grandfather and what is this service…? I need to know NOW..my farve played in Junior football Finals for the Eastern Command against St Mary’s in Croke Park in 1952…He was acknowledged as one of the best players on the day…I am DESPERATE to find a documentary record/photo of it before his imminent death…Can anyone help pleeeease?


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