The first song I heard in 2009?
The first song I heard in 2009?
George Bernard Shaw made the famous comment that horse racing is a conspiracy between the working classes and the upper classes, against the middle class.
The Internet has a remarkable ability to fuse together opposing ideologies.
The video below is a classic example. The track 'Land of the Gun' is by Immortal Technique, a Peruvian born Marxist who lives in Harlem (!). Someone has taken one of his best tracks, and added it to a what appears to be a Hezbollah propaganda video, with lots of bearded figures running around Lebanese hillsides and sticking it to the Israelis. After a couple of minutes the track switches from English to Arabic - if anyone knows what is being said, do tell me!
I can't quite imagine too many New York Hispanics prospering in the sort of society Hezbollah would create (or perhaps more accurately are creating in Lebanon) but in the virtual world of the Internet, individuals like Immortal Technique and groups like Hezbollah merge, if only for a few minutes.
Hello to everyone I met at the Cable Street commemoration gig last Saturday. The evening was certainly memorable!
It was great to hear a proper Ska DJ, so this post is purely a plug for Moonstomp of Leeds, the UK's premier spinners of ska tunes. Find out more about Moonstomp here.
Last Thursday Sonic Boom, The Early Years and The Flowers of Hell played at The Legion in Shoreditch.
I had not seen Peter Kember/Sonic Boom live since he was playing as Spectrum in the early 90s, but he clearly has a dedicated following - the gig was packed. This was also a discerning audience - virtually everyone pushed up to the front for support bands The Early Years and The Flowers of Hell.
When I first started going to gigs I managed to convince myself at one point that the more members of a band where on stage the better the band. Watching The Flowers of Hell (who managed at least 7, with a change of violinist as well) this concept came flooding back to me. They are certainly a band whose influences can be easily identified - Velvet Underground, Spacemen 3 and The Telescopes - but their ability to construct instrumentals is both original and strong.
As for the man everyone had come to see, Pete Kember spent the first 15 minutes wrestling with various technical problems, much to the irritation of some of the audience, who could see last tubes departing without them. Such I'm afraid is life.
For a man who once had a reputation on a par with Amy Winehouse or Pete Doherty, he certainly looks in pretty good shape these days. The beauty of any Sonic Boom gig is of course that his back catalogue is so strong, there is so much to choose from. "When Tomorrow Hits" and "Revenge" were the highlights - oh and after all these years he still says "Thanks for coming."
Here's to the next gig, and some of the best music currently being produced in the UK.
Yesterday saw the Love Music Hate Racism festival at Victoria Park.
Thirty years on from the important Rock Against Racism carnival, things are rather different now. The east end has changed totally since 1978. Racial violence in Tower Hamlets today is more likely to be Bengali on Somali or brown on white. Bengali figures dominate politics in the borough, in all 3 main parties - something unthinkable 30 years ago. As if that were not enough, there is also Respect, a party whose MP has already declared his intention to stand aside for a 'local candidate' at the next election - I somewhat doubt he means a white working class woman.
Labour barely bothers canvassing in many working class areas in Hackney, Tower Hamlets or Newham, although the rapidly expanding middle class areas in each borough is visited with enthusiasm at each election.
In 1978 Rock Against Racism organisers ignored the fact that the National Front were mobilising at Brick Lane, refusing to tell activists what was happening a couple of miles away in case it 'distracted from the day'. At least the The SWP has not changed!
Although the Anti-Nazi league logo was being used on placards, the Socialist Workers Party's current anti-fascist front group is actually Unite Against Fascism, the ANL has come and gone three times (by my calculations) since 1978! Each change has been a hierarchical, from the top down decision enforced upon the 'membership'. The numbers lost and disillusioned by such nonsense must run into the thousands.
Summertime - And The Living Is Easy?
One of the biggest changes though, was apparent when you entered Victoria Park. The highlight of London's summers was always its free events - the festivals and Carnivals in parks and fields across the capital. Here was an opportunity to eat, drink and be merry with friends in the sunshine, with very little in the way of rules and regulation.
No such luck yesterday. Whilst it may not have cost you anything to get in, the Carnival was far from free. Firstly you had to queue up to be funnelled through a gated entry system, with compulsory bag search. The sort of things you get all the time in Victoria Park - bikes, cans of beer and dogs, were naturally not allowed through.
I had a roll of gaffer tape I had absent-mindedly left in my bag confiscated, on the grounds it could be used as an offensive weapon (a decision that seemed to be taken entirely on the say-so of the steward. No lists were available of what could or could not be taken into the Park) Anyone with soft drinks was forced to take the lid off the bottle, apparently so they could not be thrown at the artists. Needless to say an on-site security presence was still required. Why? In case anyone should throw anything at the artists!
Tempting as it is to blame all this on the SWP/UAF, I suspect that would not be fair in this instance. No doubt every summer festival and carnival will be the same, a regulated, money driven closed arena - a depressing state of affairs.
Those who attended the 1978 Rock Against Racism carnival would not have stood for it. The question is - why do we?
The video below comes from one of the great British films - The Wicker Man.
I lifted it from Live Video, as it seems that Youtube keep censoring it - the sight of a Pagan Britt Ekland teasing an officer of the law is clearly too much for them!
When looking at how working class people are being priced out of their own communities, it is important to remember it is not just happening in cities like London, Manchester and Leeds.
The gentrification of Berlin has been determined (particularly since the old west German civil service was decamped from Bonn to Berlin) whilst New York has seen more than enough of this blight. This article looks at some of the cultural damage being caused in the Big Apple, and the US rappers who are standing up against it.
Time to turn the guns on the real enemy!
It is amazing how the well-meaning last century left can be almost as bad as the far-right when it comes to sterotypes and inaccuracies.
I have only just got round to listening to the Stop The War Coalition's 2002 Peace Not War compilation CD. One absolute stinker on there is the track "Woody Guthrie" by Alabama 3, which contains the truly dreadful line "while the BNP scare refugees senseless up in Oldham town".
The 2001 riots in Oldham were noticeable for their entirely British character - the violence being between white and Asian Britons in Oldham. Indeed the town had no significant refugee presence in 2001, and has not gained one since.
Instead, Alabama 3 simply saw violence, saw the presence of racists, and assumed they must be attacking refugees. Which to me is almost as lazy, and indeed as wrong as the far-right's conduct.
If the 'left' cannot even recognise the problems in the north (and other areas) around integration, Islam, gang violence and long term racial division, it really is part of the problem, not the solution.
I was up in Leeds over the weekend for the Class War conference and benefit gig.
The highlight of the weekend was a truly superb performance at the gig from Geoffrey Oi!cott. Any band named after the greatest living Yorkshireman has a big task ahead of them, but Geoffrey Oi!cott managed to remind the audience of the importance of staying at the crease all day, scoring less than one run per over and that there are few things in life as important as a good solid forward defensive.
For those who missed them, here is an indication of just how good this band is. Geoffrey Oi!cott on Youtube!
I have been listening to Consolidated a lot recently.
Their 1994 "Business of Punishment" LP has a great track called 'Consolidated Buries The Mammoth' where the band talk about the most appropriate manner for various Americans to die.
In the case of the musician cum hunter Ted Nugent, they speculate the best way for him to expire would be choking on the meat of a buck venison he has just killed with his brand new crossbow, with none of his redneck mates being able to save him.
Surely the best way for Tony Blair to die would be to insert Margaret Thatcher inside him, and let her die there?
I spent part of last night re-living my youth, or my 20s at least, playing the Blaggers I.T.A. DVD "It's Up To You".
One of the best gigs I have seen was the Blaggers at The Garage at Highbury Corner (in 1994 or 1995?) I think they finished the gig with "Ten Men Dead" as it was St Patrick's Day. The Blaggers were also important as a band because they walked it like they talked it - I can remember having the dubious honour of being trapped in a tube carriage with them as the police moved us, quite involuntarily, from east London to west London on the day of the Ian Stuart Donaldson memorial gig in London in 1994. We had all enjoyed an exchange of opinion with Combat 18 in Bow. C18, for all their hype in the media, were humilated that day.
The quality of the DVD is actually pretty poor, but the spirit and atmosphere makes up for that. The 12 tracks are divided between live concert footage and Promo videos, whilst the title track has some good clips from the "Battle of Waterloo" - one of Anti-Fascist Action's finest hours - added in. It is hard not to be sad when you see the clips of Matty Blagger, who died very young. A reminder that drugs can take the best of our people, as well as some of the worst.
I got my DVD from a stall at a gig, but you may still be able to order it from the producers, Insurgence Records.
Still waiting for Revolutionary Volume 3 by Immortal Technique?
Well there is still no sign, but there is one track I had not heard - "Caught In A Hustle" available for download on his website.
You can do so by clicking on audio download here.
I used to love Spacemen 3 - I thought they were one of the bands of the late 1980s.
There was always the impression that they were looking to do something different, to find a sound that had never been created before. Even their cover versions (such as Transparent Radiation) sounded innovative. One of the few bands at the 1989 Reading festival that did not disappoint me, I think I bought every album and even a fanzine "The Outer Limits".
The two main figures in the band were Jason Spaceman and Peter Kember (known as Sonic Boom). Kember was seen as the most talented, although he got a lot of stick for allegedly advocating heroin in some interviews. Spacemen 3 split up due to the famed "personal differences", something apparently made worse by Jason's insistence he had to visit a friend in London each weekend, when in fact he was travelling down to shag his friends missus whilst he was at work!!!!
I assumed little more would be heard from him, but his band, Spiritualised, went on to be an enourmous success. Sonic Boom founded Spectrum, and went in a more experimental vein. I thought Spectrum would be far bigger than they eventually became - a gig I saw in Birmingham was packed - but I suspect the music was a tad too brave for some. After the "Soul Kiss - Glide Devine" LP I heard little from Sonic Boom again, and to be honest rather lost my own interest in music for many years.
Last week I was playing about on the Internet, and found Sonic Boom's website. From the experimental nature of the site (based on an early computer programme from 1968) right down to the links to like minded individuals, it is everything you might have hoped for.
Tune in, turn on, drop out!
Well, I am not sure about his name, but his music more than makes up for it!
I saw Clayton Blizzard at the Face Club in Reading last night, and he was very, very good. Found out for yourself by going to his myspace site here.
I listen to a lot of ambient music (it is good for my temper) but a lot of stuff out there sounds, well, samey after a while.
One person who does not is Overclocked Mind. You can download several of his tracks here
Oh, you will need to register with the site, but it is free.
Somewhere in the depths of my record collection I have an LP, a few singles and a Peel session 12 inch by the Redskins. Their modest aim was to "walk like The Clash and sound like The Supremes" and on some of their best tracks - like "Keep On Keeping On" they came pretty close.
Their 1986 album "Neither Washington Nor Moscow" actually stands the test of time really well - apart from the title of course. Perhaps "Neither Capital Nor Islam" would be more appropriate in 2006!
Just by chance today I came across a website devoted to the band - go here. There is a discussion forum, pictures, discography and the guy who runs it is supposed to be putting some MP3s of their final gig on the forum shortly.
I recently noticed this on the Morrissey website
An exclusive version of The Youngest Was The Most Loved is now available for download on iTunes USA. It features several unreleased b-sides and live versions of the single with the following tracklisting:
1. The Youngest Was The Most Loved
2. If You Don't Like Me, Don't Look At Me.
3. A Song From Under The Floorboards
5. The Youngest Was The Most Loved (Live From Manchester Apollo)
6. The Youngest Was The Most Loved (Live From Gateshead)
7. The Youngest Was The Most Loved (Live From Grimsby)
8. The Youngest Was The Most Loved (Live From Manchester Opera House)
How long it seems since The Smiths recorded "Paint A Vulgar Picture"
"Re-issue, re-package, re-evaluate the song, double pack and a photograph, extra track and a tacky badge.......... Slip them into different sleeves, by both and feel deceived"
As the man himself once said "but you could have said no if you wanted to..........."
I bought this album over 20 years ago, and still play it virtually every week. Indeed I have worn out the LP and purchased a CD version a few years back. Easterhouse were rather dour Mancunians, dominated by the Perry brothers, vocalist Andy and guitarist Ivor.
Over the years I have more than grown out of the Leninist politics of "Get Back To Russia" but the album still stands to me as one of the best political albums of all time. Few records about Ireland can match "1969" (except perhaps "Oliver's Army" by Elvis Costello") although the track "Inspiration" about the 1981 hunger strikes actually comes pretty close.
It is tempting nowadays, when the country dances to the tune of new Labour, to get in some way misty-eyed about the old Labour party, and to imagine they were something that they were not. Easterhouse wrote the following in 1986:
"Where is the man who is speaking up for me?
Community leaders want more black shop keepers.
The unions a say in the jobs thrown away.
And I'm told that my home's in a nuclear free zone.
But that ain't much help when there's bills to be paid.
'Police accountability': 'Non-nuclear defence strategy'.
This foolish ideology has made our fight a mockery!
As a critique of what the left had become, the track "Out On Your Own" was simply years ahead of its time. The stand out track on "Contenders" however was "Lenin In Zurich" a tale of commitment and adversity over a wall of sound that hits you in the pit of your stomach, and carries on hitting you. Great music, you can almost forgive them the Leninism!
Easterhouse were good, very good in fact.
For more on them try
Jarvis Cocker of Pulp fame has got his own site on myspace, and has put the best tune on there that I have heard this year. As the man himself comments about Live8 on his blog:
Where does engaging with these politicians/businessmen really get you?" - ( 12 months on & the cunts still haven't paid up as far as I can make out) - maybe the problem is something more ..... fundamental. Anyway, what do I know? I'm just a pampered rock star - but at least I think it's good to discuss this stuff. Don't you?All together now "Cunts Are Still Running the World".... You can play it by going here