"Imagine if Elvis Presley had been impersonating Scott Joplin. That’s what The Struts are doing with 1960s and 1970s cultural reference points. They’ve remembered them in such detail that they’ve forgotten them completely. If 1950s rockers had done the same thing, Rock as a genre would never have happened."
Momus quotes a designer chap called Fraser Muggeridge who avers "when I was a student I always wanted to be a record cover designer. You wanted to do a record cover, and you didn’t even know what an art book was, really. Now, most people see art books as a way of really expressing themselves.”
and connects it to his own excitement about creating print products (novels and attractively packaged writings) that sell mainly through art-oriented bookshops:
"the feeling I got from (let’s say) the Edinburgh Virgin record shop in 1974, or any independent record shop circa 1978 — the feeling that there’s an exciting underground culture just waiting here to whoosh you away to areas of spiritual and semantic richness and originality — has now migrated to art-oriented bookshops like Motto and Printed Matter, or events like the Tokyo Art Book Fair, the Singapore Art Book Fair, the New York Art Book Fair. As someone invested in the idea of cultural glamour, I like to aim products at events and networks that have topical zing. Writing books is a way for me to get into zingy, zine-y, designy bookshops, just as making records in the early 1980s was a way of interfacing with an exciting — and now largely vanished — network of independent record stores."
Yet he admits that the graphic design and art publications worlds are fixated, in their own way, on an illustrious past - the 20th Century's panoply of innovative and often politically edgy movements in art, design, typograpy etc.
Momus floats two potential explanations / justifications for this discrepancy:
"Sometimes the only explanation for a cultural shift like this is that fashion moves on, just for the sake of moving on. Things are exciting, and then they aren’t."
"Perhaps... there cannot be more than one designated, exemplary area of experimentation and originality at any one time."
This isn't too convincing . In the Sixties for instance there was pell-mell experimentation /originality going on full-tilt in all the arts simultaneously - fiction, film, theater, fashion, high culture music and pop culture music and jazz too, design, dance/performance, TV). For the young and some sympathetic elders, rock was at the centre of all of this, somehow... but from Op Art to musique concrete/electronic composition to radical theater, there was also a lot of unrelated but parallel impetus towards breaking tradition, pushing the envelope etc. Same for much of the Seventies and intermittently in other decades too.
And a comments-boxer picks him up on the double standard: