Norway - Full Moon 173 - 10/23/10
Speakers' corner: TAV! Materialtretthet? Aldri!!
Following up our retro scope series of 2006 and 2007 - here's the New Speakers' corner! Luna Kafé's focused eye on great events, fantastic happenings, absolute milestones, or other curious incidents
from the historic shelves/vaults of rock. This moonth the Lunar spotlight has captured a 30 year old Norwegian! From the first wave of the new wave DIY punk-pop. TAV!
even got airplay by John Peel at the time, and launched with this, their debut, a true masterpiece. Best Norwegian album ever. Forever.
The Aller Værste!
Den Gode Hensikt
It was thirty years ago about today...
Many consider Materialtretthet to be the best album in Norwegian rock history. I don't think I fully can agree on that. On the other hand, it certainly must
be about the most important and influential one. Something like the Norwegian counterpart of Velvet Underground's debut album. Half
of the people who bought the album started their own bands and released their own independent records.
The Aller Værste! (shortened TAV! - meaning something like The Væry Worst) was five boys in their early twenties, four from the Oslo area and one from
Stavanger, who had moved to Bergen, most of them to study. The majority of them played in a politically conscious left-wing student combo called Johnny Banan Band that
eventually evolved into TAV! in the latter half of 1979. TAV! was something different, based on punk attitude and energy, new wave (well, post-punk is the term today)
and ska. You can certainly discern influences from Elvis Costello and The Specials in their music. The first single was released in January 1980 on their own independent
label Den Gode Hensigt (meaning The Good Intention), named after an old bourgeois gentlemen society (something like the Freemasons) that sort of ruled Bergen in the 19th
century and probably well into the 20th, too, and still exists today as far as I know. In between a lot of touring and gigging, TAV! recorded and released a legendary
four track EP in late April/early May of the same year and the definitive album less than six months later. All of them released on Den Gode Hensigt. The debut LP was
the first independent Norwegian new wave album, as far as I know, and proved it was possible to do it all by themselves.
What strikes me listening to the album today, is the sound, being quite a novelty, very thin. There aren't many fat guitar chords here. The guitars and the Farfisa
organ mostly play single notes at a time, but there are lots of them. The overall effect, along with the Specials-sounding trumpet and trombone on some tracks, might
have been quite chaotic with less skilled musicians. One profiled dance band vocalist characerised the TAV! music as a box filled with rabbits. Well, this was at the
end of the era of dance bands dominating the live scene in Norway. TAV! btw. wanted their public to dance, but not in that old fashioned way.
Some of the lyrics seem somewhat immature and naive today, while others fit at least as well today as back then. They work even better if we put them into the realities
of 1980 when Ronald Reagan, Leonid Brezhnev and Ayatollah Khomeini were among the mightiest and oldest national leaders of the world, the cold war with the imminent
fear of a hot and nuclear one, and so on. The lyrics deals with fear of neo-Nazism, new technology, the hated disco, post teenage anxiety concerning the opposite sex, ...
The album title means Material Fatigue and was quite a common word at the time after a big oil rig in the North Sea earlier that year had collapsed caused by, you guessed
it, and 123 people on board were killed. I guess the TAV!-gang considered the society as such to suffer from material fatigue. The LP included a thick booklet with lyrics
and other assortments, among them a crossword. I'm still a little bit frustrated becaused they promised that the solving would be included in the next LP. It didn't happen.
It's impossible to write about Materialtretthet without mention some of the lyrical gems, like:
"You slid so closely into my life, I cannot sleep you away at once ...",
"You read horoscopes, believe in star mystique, you don't worry about nuclear physics ...",
"I'm freezing in my head, want to go home to myself, it wasn't fun outside, after all, You smashed a window pane, I smashed another one, now everyone smashes the panes they want ...",
"A tiny bit of sleeplessness is the only kind of violence they've experienced" (about housewives in the posh suburbs), or:
"There are some who organise explosions, There are some who taps phones, There are some who believes strongly in powerful persons, Who collects guns and cartridges, Who gathers in the city centre, volunteers for the home guard."
But all in all, the lyrics on the successor Disniland I De Tusen Hjem and later albums during the 1980s by ex-TAV! members, not
least Lasse Myrvold, fared even better.
I attended a TAV! gig in September 1981, a solidarity concert for Latin America. TAV! sounded great, even with a new drummer. Guitarist Chris gave some hard hitting
statements between some of the songs and I was thinking: here is a thoughtful and true enemy of the establishment. TAV! might have reached a lot further if they had
continued. Instead it was about the end. TAV!'s band bus had crashed earlier that year and lack of money and disillusionment prevailed. The band collapsed after a last
singe release. Afterwards they reunited for a single gig or a short tour three times (in 1983, 1990 and 1999). I think the one we reviewed
some 11 years ago was the very last one. It was a little bit disappointing. But by now, at least, it's still possible to enjoy Materialtretthet without reservations.
After all it's TAV!'s monument for eternity...
Copyright © 2010 JP