Tomorrows World by The Speed of Sound on the album Museum of Tomorrow
“We were offered Star Trek
But they fed us Soylent Green
And the 21st Century is not what it seems
Where are those shining city domes
and the monorails
Look out of your window
you can see the future has failed”
In The Year 2525 by Zager & Evans on the album In the Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus)
“In the year 2525, if man is still alive
If woman can survive, they may find
In the year 3535
Ain’t gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lie
Everything you think, do and say
Is in the pill you took today.”
(It’s the Eighties, So Where’s Our) Rocket Packs by Daniel Amos from the album Vox Humana
“(It’s the eighties, so where’s our rocket packs?)
I thought by now we’d live in space
And eat a pill instead of dinner
(It’s the eighties, so where’s our rocket packs?)
I thought by now we’d build a dome”
I quite imagine you, the reader, wondering what in hell a zeerust is or looking it up on the internet of things. There are plenty of hits that lead to a town in South Africa. That is not where I want to start. I want to start with one of my favourite authors, Douglas Adams, a British humorist and Science Fiction writer, and his collaboration with the BBC comedy producer John Lloyd.
From their book The Meaning of Liff, I lifted their definition of the word zeerust: “The particular kind of datedness which afflicts things that were originally designed to look futuristic.”
Let’s unravel this further with an introduction to who The Speed Of Sound is. They are a four-piece band hailing from Manchester, UK. A city described as having a proud history combined with a progressive vision. Manchester is a 40-minute train ride east of another town famous for its four-piece bands, Liverpool.
The Speed Of Sound’s line-up has changed over the years; on this incarnation, it consists of the father and son duo John Armstrong on guitars and vocals and Henry Armstrong on keyboards. Bolstering that combo is Ann-Marie Crowley on vocals and guitar, Kevin Roache on bass guitar and John Broadhurst on percussions.
I took the definition of zeerust from the book, The Meaning of Liff, combined it with Manchesters’ proud heritage, their progressive vision, and I added the band known as The Speed Of Sound. Then I shook it vigorously. What came out was an album called The Museum of Tomorrow. A record that held my attention like a magnet to a fridge door.
The Speed Of Sound channels the spirit of the CBGB club scene in its heyday. There are some textures of the New Wave movement in both the UK and North America. Pieces of punk are stuck on with safety pins. There are some tips of the hat to straight-up pop music anywhere from the ’60s to the ’80s. Lyrically The Speed Of Sound captures the idealization of zeerust, as illustrated in the opening credits.
By the time we arrive at track 8, The Speed Of Sound has morphed that zeerust into an Impossible Past. We wore mended clothes instead of buying new ones at the slightest whim or a loose thread. We kept calm and carried on with faded memories of things that never happened things. We yearn for a world of cabbages and kings. The golden time was never as sunny as our memories of it. And then the song ends on a dark note with bombs and demons, dark but also realistic. We can not return to a past that we remember as a summer that never ended. It did end, the same as the winter that never ended. It ended. I quite imagine we all have some form of longing to return to a past that our memories cling to as being better than they were.
There is an adage that says, “we can never go home.”
I tried to go home several years back. It was a high school reunion. Please don’t ask what anniversary it was. It would date me. I didn’t know the people who had gathered there. They were all older than I remembered, except for me somehow. I had aged more gracefully. Right, I wish. Some had never left the town they had gone to school in. They had a very narrow view of the world that can come from living in an echo chamber. Some had gone considerably downhill over the years. Not that I was a shining example to all, I had my own “half forgotten lurking things.”
Holy cow, I have written 788 words on only a tiny portion of the album. The Museum Of Tomorrow deserves better than this, but I’m not writing a thesis, so this blog will have to do.
Let me conclude this wordy tome by saying this. Go and listen to this on your medium of choice. The Museum Of Tomorrow is available in downloads, streaming, vinyl, CD and Deluxe LP via California’s Big Stir Records. Here’s to hoping that we can add live shows to that list.
‘Tomorrow’s World’ https://youtu.be/3lEovb1GxrQ
Album teaser https://youtu.be/Kkcn4ZSyQDE
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