Friday, November 30, 2007

National Irn Bru Day

Always pissed me off that I never got around to voting in the Great Jock 'N' Roll top Scottish singles poll. Not sure if I heard about the poll too late or it was simply the case that I placed a post in draft with the intention of coming back to it at a later date. (It'll be the latter . . . I currently have 95 posts in draft.)

No worries. My all time favourite single by a Scottish group or artist won regardless, and I can now kill two birds with one tattie scone by marking National Irn Bru Day with the listing of my all time top ten favourite singles by Scottish 'artistes' in the new fangled music player gizmo.

Point of Information - don't read too much into the tracklisting. It's neither 10 thru' 1 nor 1 thru' 10. 'Party Fears Two' is the best song bar none; the rest can fight it out amongst themselves.


I just want to clarify one thing

According to the Manchester Guardian, there's a 'Brooklyn Scene'.

Not round our way, there isn't

Friday's Playlist #24.5 (Mini Playlist)

Apparently, if you hit play on the cassette you can hear a few of the tracks from this week's playlist. By accident, the tracks selected seem to have a sixties theme. That just happens to be the sort of music that I've been listening to this week.

And hat tip to Mine For Life for the heads up on setting up a mini playlist for the Friday Playlist. (Nice selection of eighties tracks, btw.)

With this new toy, I suspect that I will be revisiting some old playlists.

Friday's Playlist #24

An ongoing series:

  • Fontella Bass, 'Don't Jump' (Rescued)
  • Long Ryders, 'Looking For Lewis And Clark' mp3 (The State of the Union)
  • Duran Duran, 'Dirty Great Monster' (Red Carpet Massacre)
  • The Pretty Things, 'Photographer' (Emotions)
  • Duran Duran, 'Red Carpet Massacre (Red Carpet Massacre)
  • Graham Gouldman, 'Stop Stop Stop' (UK Freakbeat)
  • The Poets, 'Wooden Spoon' mp3 (UK Freakbeat)
  • Sid Presley Experience, 'Public Enemy Number One' (Are You Experienced)
  • The B-52's, 'Dance This Mess Around' (The B-52's)
  • Bright Eyes, 'Hot Knives' (Cassadaga)
  • Thursday, November 29, 2007

    The Foot of God

    Hat tip to Alan J.

    "Who Played Left Back For The Clash?"

    The 5P music blog gives the lowdown on the best album of 1980, and I get to make amends for forgetting to hat-tip them yesterday for the Costello/Party Party information.

    PS - Why didn't I think of calling this blog, Marx and Irn Bru?

    Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    We Want To Be Adored

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 22nd of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 988 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • The bogey of taxes
  • "All This Hard Graft No Longer Makes Sense"
  • Workers have no country

  • This week's top quote:
    "Nobody has combatted State Socialism more than we German Socialists, nobody has shown more distinctively than I, that State Socialism is really State capitalism!" Wilhelm Liebknecht, 1896

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    "When you got a face like last week's Cornflakes"

    Via the new music blog on the block, The Holding Tank, and from the film of the same name, a link to my mp3 of the day

    Elvis Costello - 'Party Party' (1982)

    No idea why Costello has always insisted that this single doesn't feature on any Best Of Compilations. Was it really that bad? I mean, it's not that good but after a couple of listens it strikes me that it's one of those middling Costello songs that neither amuses nor annoys - in tune with three-fifth's of his career output - that you imagine he cranks out in the time that it takes the rest of us to boil an egg.

    Maybe it's because the film the song is associated with is considered a bit of a mess - not as bad as Comic Strip's Supergrass but not as good as Cannon & Ball's The Boys In Blue either - that has resulted in Elvis 'Winston Smith' Costello bringing 1984 forward by 13 months. (It's the sort of early eighties British flick where you expect Kathy Burke to turn up in some bit part, but she's missing from this film and her usual role was taken by a very young Caroline Quentin.)

    But back to Costello; he needn't be so precious, as the closing barbed wired verse in the song corrects any mistaken impression that he was 'writing to film soundtrack order', and it also has to be stated that the music is the best thing about the film.

    Many an American power popper on Amazon cries real tears that the film has never been made available in the States, and they have to be content themselves with the hard to find vinyl copy of the soundtrack.

    *I'm wrapping everything in 'barb wire' these days for some reason.

    Are You Listening?

    Nikolai Gogol . . . Leon Trotsky . . . Joe Strummer . . . Oleg Blokhin . . . Isaac Babel . . . Mila Kunis . . . Benny Bass . . . Oleg Vernik . . . Chicken Kiev . . . Oleksiy Pecherov . . . Mikhail Bulgakov, your boys took a hell of a beating tonight.


    Jarosik scores for Celtic? Are you kidding me on?

    The second half could be interesting.

    Practical In Pink

    Alan J over at the Mailstrom brings the inspirational story of the "gulabi gang", kicking arse in Banda.

    Random Socialist Standard Front Cover On A Wednesday Morning

    Socialist Standard November 1984

    Tuesday, November 27, 2007

    Do They Mean Us? #11

    Gray over at 'Isn't It About Time We Tried Socialism?' blog espies a mention of the late comrade, Wally Preston, over at Shiraz Socialist.

    Wally rejoined the SPGB after his time in the IS/SWP (I understand he was the IS Industrial Organiser for a time in the early seventies), and was a driving force behind the incredibly active Eccles Branch of the SPGB in the 1980s.

    His widow, Blanche, is still a stalwart of the SPGB.

    Chartreuse With Envy

    Wait till old Dundonian, George Galloway, hears about this. . . . . wait till Tim hears that George Galloway hears about this . . . . wait till Harry's Place hears that Tim hears that George Galloway has heard about this . . . expect a post from Lennie where he celebrates the fact that he no longer has to defend this sort of garbage . . . look forward to the five minutes to midnight script doctoring by Peter Morgan for Stephen Frears forthcoming political epic, 'The Respect Years'.

    Hat tip to Alan J over at Mailstrom.

    Food For Thought

    Maybe it's because it's only a few days since I uttered the words "Never again!!" after a massive Thanksgiving Dinner blow out (wonderfully good and healthy food, but I ate too much), that I find this photo-essay on what one week's worth of food means to different families in different parts of the world so fascinating.

    I think the pictures themselves speak volumes - and, no, this post isn't a rant about how we in the west are fat pigs - but you can click on the above link for details of where the families in the pictures are from, and how much money they spend a week on food.

    Hat tip to Pandagon, and to Kara for reading Pandagon.

    Two Words: Graeme Souness

    Looks like Big Eck is being a little man by doing a Walter Smith.

    So much for Scottish football being on the up. At least with Smith - and Docherty before him - they left the Scottish manager's position for sizeable jobs, but Birmingham City? If he says the words 'sleeping giant', feel free to scream with hysterical laughter. Bet the swine goes and signs Derek Riordan.

    Next manager for Scotland? My fear is stated above. Especially fearful 'cos who in their right mind will head hunt Souness at a later date? Chris Hutchings has got a better chance of being head-hunted.

    Best Thing On TV Right Now

    Watch it, if you can. Best nail-biting comedy-drama since the first series of Auf Wiedersehen.

    The Day After This Day In History

    An important musical anniversary of sorts took place yesterday, and I should have mentioned it on the blog. If nothing else, the A side was an excellent slab of raucous rock 'n' roll, and I've always had a soft spot for that shirt Glen Matlock wears in that clip from 'So It Goes'.

    Guess I was a bit slow on the uptake, 'cos I finally got round to see Alex Cox's 'Sid and Nancy' the other week,and it irritated the hell out of me. I could just put that down to the film itself, but that irritation was compounded a few days back by some old punk music documentary on VH1, where Lydon and Steve Jones (and the late Joe Strummer) were doing their whole nostalgia schtick about the early punk movement, and they almost - almost - came across as proto-Thatcherites, with their talk of 'we had to do it for ourselves'.

    Trust me, you would understand where I'm coming from if you'd seen it. I really liked Strummer - especially his later stuff with the Mescelaros - but he really was laying it on a bit thick in this documentary. You could tell it was for an American audience. He wasn't as bad Lydon and Jones, but he was playing it.

    The Respect Sessions

    No news yet of a Stephen Frears/Peter Morgan film adaptation but, in the meantime, the Fourth Internationalists, Socialist Resistance/ISG, have just brought out a part-epistolary novella detailing the crisis surrounding the split in Respect these last two months.

    Naturally, being partisans on one side of the debate, they've got their side to tell, and tell it they do.

    Makes sense: Peter Morgan's adaptation will be all the more smooth because of it.

    Saturday, November 24, 2007

    Even Andy Johnson Scored

    Following on from this post on the blog a few days back, Roy Keane hopes that Michael Ballack doesn't explain to John Terry and Frank Lampard that schadenfreude is not the name of German beer, whilst Craig Gordon has a lie down and thinks back to the glory days of Tynecastle.

    The 'March of the Levellers' trilogy

    Download of the Day

    Good man that he is, Attila the Stockbroker has made his The 'March of the Levellers' trilogy available for download over at his MySpace page.

    In Mr Stockbroker's own words:

    "The 'March of the Levellers' trilogy ('March Of The Levellers', 'The Diggers' Song', 'The World Turned Upside Down') is the centrepiece of my live sets with my band Barnstormer and was released in 1996 on our first album 'The Siege of Shoreham'. The first section is an instrumental of mine. The second is an arrangement of the words of Gerrard Winstanley, leader of the Diggers, the radical sect who came to prominence at the end of the 1640s and who could be described as the first English socialists. The rap in the middle is my brief history of the movement. The third is our version of Leon Rosselson's wonderful song about the Diggers, brought to prominence by the version done by Billy Bragg on the B side of his 'Between The Wars' single."

    For myself, Dick Gaughan's version of 'The World Turned Upside Down' will always be the definitive version of that song, but I like his souped up version of it, and 'The Diggers' Song' is excellent.

    Must be played on repeat and at high volume.

    Thought of the Day

    wheelie bins. I repeat: WHEELIE BINS. Did I mention wheelie bins? If you remind me later on, I've got this brilliant anecdote about Johnny Depp, David Beckham, that Disney High School movie, and Angelina Jolie, but first I have to pop out to put out the wheelie bin for the refuse collector.

    Hat tip to J.J, a good friend to Clarence . . .Reidski, of course.

    Friday, November 23, 2007

    Crooks and Liars? #2

    A spike in the sun. Back to the shadows tomorrow.

    The Insanity of Capitalism

    Socialist Party Day School
    The Insanity of Capitalism
    Saturday 24 November from 1pm
  • Living in a sick society. Speaker: Brian Johnson (Disability Counsellor)
  • Capitalism on the couch. Speaker: Peter Rigg (Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist)
  • Whose messing with your head? Speaker: Ed Blewitt (Clinical Psychologist)
  • Free refreshments and buffet.
    Socialist Party Head Office,
    52 Clapham High St, London SW4
    (nearest tube: Clapham North)

    Friday's Playlist #23

    An ongoing series:

  • Diesel Park West, 'Opportunity Cost' (Shakespeare Alabama)
  • The Outnumbered, 'Accidental Color' (Why Are All The Good People Going Crazy)
  • Au Pairs, 'Inconvenience' (Stepping Out of Line: The Anthology)
  • The Bangles 'Getting Out of Hand'
  • Martha and the Muffins, 'Saigon' mp3 (Far Away In Time)
  • The Redskins, 'Go Get Organised' mp3 (Neither Washington nor Moscow)
  • Pony Pony Run Run, 'First Date Mullet'
  • Duran Duran, 'Anyone Out There' (Duran Duran)
  • The Nips, 'Gabrielle'
  • Nervus Rex, 'Don't Look' (Nervus Rex)
  • Crooks and Liars?

    Never heard of it before, but a quick link from Crooks and Liars blog and the sitemeter of the SOYMB suddenly goes through the roof.

    A Split Happened On The Way To The Forum

    For the Leftist Trainspotters amongst you all, a link which gives more background on the aforementioned Forum journal.

    Turning Dissent Into Money

    Yikes, that's the equivalent of a two year subscription to the Socialist Standard.

    Comrades, now is the time to return to your constituencies and prepare for a car boot sale.

    No Embarrassment, Lots of Riches

    England Players Vow To Spend Their Way Out Of Depression

    "Rio Ferdinand said he would cheer himself up by paying Paul Gascoigne £1 million to recreate his 1996 wonder goal against Scotland in his back garden 'over and over again'.

    Reg Hollis, 53, a lifelong England fan, said he could appreciate that the football stars were hurting but thought they might get over it. "I'm hurting too," he said. "And I'm absolutely fucking skint."

    Hat tip to Eddie T.

    PS - The picture is an x-ray of John Terry's skull.

    PPS - The Estate of the late Jim Henson is thinking of suing the Scottish Patient Blog for defamation.

    Thursday, November 22, 2007

    Meano . . . Meano

    Roy Keane get's in the mix.

    As much I enjoy the spectacle of Roy Keane pulling on his old football boots so he can metaphorically scrape his studs down the shins of today's overpaid blowhards, I don't think he gets it: as wonderful as international football can be (see here. here and here), club football is where it's at for the average footie fan.

    Ask them what they would rather get to see in their lifetime: their team winning the league title or their place of birth winning the world cup, and 93/100 will go for the former every time.

    Post-Mortem Kicks In . . . . and kicks and kicks and kicks

    Still saying nothing, but had a chuckle at this comment in reply to David Pleat's piece in today's Football Guardian:

    "This may appear absurd, but I recall Malcolm Allison once suggesting that English footballers were basically morons and couldn't be taught subtlety and nuance..." [From someone going by the name of 'VanRamp']

    The footballing blogs over the next few days are going to make Socialist Unity Blog look like a Croatian Tea Party.

    Wednesday, November 21, 2007

    Surprised . . .

    . . . . and saying nothing.

    Knocking that screen grab off the top of the page

    Mimicing A Music Blog (1)

    I've been here before when singing the praises of Win, so, thankfully, I don't have to do my usual schtick, but I do think there's a nice bit of a symmetry with this one.

    Many many years ago, when I first discovered blogs, the first blog that I would check out with any sort of regularity was the Scary Duck blog. Then as now, the Scary Duck bloke has a nice line in self-deprecation when detailing the minutiae of his life, and though I've not really checked him out regularly for a couple of years I do remember spending a couple of hours one night pissing myself laughing at some of his early posts about his schooldays - especially the story about the classroom porn collection. (Google search it. I'm sure it will come up.)

    It was a nice surprise, therefore, when recently reading up on Davey Henderson sophomore band, to discover that the Scary Duck bloke is also part of that small but loyal club who thinks that Win's debut album, Uh! Tears Baby (A Trash Icon), is a neglected pop classic.

    SDB is practically gushing in his post, and he rightly points out that their lack of chart success was not the fault of the music press, They loved them at the time, almost trying to will the band into the charts with the plaudits, centre spreads and singles of week that were thrown at them. I'm sure that the pic accompanying this post is from the old Record Mirror, which was my music paper of choice at the time, and I remember thinking that I wanted that bloke's red paisley shirt. How some things never change.

    Everybody and their aunt always posts 'Super Popoid Groove' or 'You've Got The Power' from the album on their music blogs, so I think I'll break from the norm by posting 'Shampoo Tears' as a sample track.

  • 'Shampoo Tears' mp3
  • Not the strongest track on the album by any means, but think of it as a third single from an album. The one that has the expensive video, but which only gets to number 23 in the charts because everybody has the album by this point.

    Living By Numbers

    I'd sooner vote Tory whilst simultaneously wearing a Glasgow R*ngers top

    Scottish Patient Kev brings news of Bill Drummond's latest wheeze.

    This coming Sunday, it will be 13 years and four months since I last felt the need to listen to a KLF record.

    Today, The Party's Over

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (21)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 21st of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 950 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Capitalism is not superior to socialism
  • Religion and the limits of the State
  • Socialist Principles Explained
  • This week's top quote:

    "Capitalism is organised crime, and we are all its victims." The Refused, The Shape of Punk to Come, 1998

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Tuesday, November 20, 2007

    The Hoffs Estates

    What a find. They were always so much more than that bloody awful 'Walk Like An Egyptian' dance and video (equally awful song as well, btw).

    A really early clip of The Bangles - maybe they were even still known as The Bangs at the time - from a local Los Angeles tv show. The song is 'Real World', which was off their self-titled EP, so the clip could be dated from '82 or '83. Notice that it's also the original line up of the band, with Annette Zilinskas on bass. (She left the band to become lead singer of Blood on the Saddle.)

    I remember first becoming aware of The Bangles when the video for their first single to be released in the UK, 'Hero Takes A Fall', was played on The Whistle Test way back in '84. Cue nostalgia trip: The wonders of a world before YouTube and the t'internet when a music video was taped off the telly and played to death until the betamax recorder was the traded in for the vastly inferior vhs. Those were the days.

    Hat tip - and for more info on the clip - to the music blog, The Subversive Sounds . . .

    Love Him, He's A Liberal

    What's those lines from Phil Ochs's introduction to his live performance of the 'Ringing of Revolution':

    " This is a fictional song . . . a cinematic song. You've got to picture this mansion on the top of a hill housing the last of the idle rich, the last of the bourgeois, the last of the folk singers. As they are being encircled tighter and tighter by their ringing of revolution, all the people on the inside spiritually resemble Charles Laughton; all the people on the outside physically resemble Lee Marvin . . . "

    Nice to see that George Clooney is lending his name and financial support to the writers strike.

    Monday, November 19, 2007

    The Blogger's Fear of the Penalty

    The Kensington Muffin

    Factoid of the Day

    Peter Saville did the sleeve design for Martha and the Muffins debut album, 'Metro Music'.

    Yep, that Peter Saville.

    Posted mp3 of the day

    Best track from the aforementioned Metro Music:
  • Martha and the Muffins - Saigon mp3
  • Yep, even better than 'Echo Beach'. According to the good people at the 5P blog, 'Saigon' was the third track off the album, but sadly it never made a dent in the charts. Shame that they will always be seen as just another one hit wonder band.

    The connection between Saville and the Muffins? The second Martha in the band, Martha Ladly, I guess. That and the fact that Saville, as well as doing sleeve designs for Factory Records, appears to have also worked with DinDisc artists.

    Further Linkage:

  • Martha and the Muffins Official Website
  • Martha and the Muffins performing 'Echo Beach' on TOTP
  • Peter Saville Website
  • I Can't Help Myself

    What's with Lou Reed looking over Darren Fletcher's shoulder? This skewed observation has been brought to you from a wan light.

    Pic found via the Sound of Young Scotland blog.

    Win'sor Park

    Waterlogged pitch . . . a cracking "dipper" from Feeney that would have been a wonderful goal . . . Healy's sublime turn and chip for the winning goal . . . .and a cackling supporter in - or just outside - the commentary box adds up to my footie YouTube clip on the hour.

    Thought of the Day

    From someone going by the moniker of 'universitymom':

    "Well said. Another factor in the mass availablility of cultural capital and material goods (all classes having access to golfing, big screen TV's, etc.) is credit. According to the World Values Survey, the largest proportion of Americans, when asked to select their class location, actually believe they are upper middle class. Take away their credit cards and maybe they'll realize their true class location. Who knows? There are many new opiates out there since Marx was writing. Religion still remains one of the most powerful, but credit cards are gaining ground. That is why it is so important to analyze the relationship to the means of production, like you said, rather than including cultural capital. A person's HDTV does not give them any more power or ownership in the work place."

    In reply to a recently reposted article on the unofficial Socialist Standard MySpace page.

    Sunday, November 18, 2007

    What's My Next (Picket) Line?

    From Writers Strike, Silence Falls:

    " . . . anyone who's willing to stand up to greedy bosses deserves our support. A victory for one group, from Ford workers to stagehands, raises the prospects for everyone else. Who knows? If the screenwriters win, maybe some tiny measure of respect will eventually trickle down even to bloggers. So in further solidarity with striking writers, I'm going to shut up right now."

    Good stuff from the Nation Website by Barbara Ehrenreich on the ongoing screenwriters strike.

    I Know Where I'm Going

    Following on from the republished piece in this month's Socialist Standard:

    The Case of Isabel Kingsley and the Socialist Standard

    From the A Matter of Life and Death website.

    Take Me To Your Leader

    Marx and Coca-Cola has a rather irreverent guide to (some) vanguardist parties in the US for those of you wishing to be a cadre in time for Christmas.

    Saturday, November 17, 2007

    Respect versus Respect

    Post-It Note

    No post-mortem . . . no post-match analysis . . . not even a post-punk mp3 to cheer me up. What's done is done.

    Looks like Trevorland is landing on its fucking feet again.

    Good. It means that they're stuck with that Muppet McLaren for a few more years.

    Gone Wishing

    Wilson Kick-It

    Whilst I'm in a footie frame of mind, I really do have to mention the excellent Kerrydale Street. It has to be the best Glasgow Celtic website out there.

    Impress your hipster neighbours with tales of when Gil Scott-Heron's dad played for Celtic. Drop casually into conversation that Spandau Ballet's Tony Hadley was once spotted at a Celtic/Rangers game at the Celtic end, and never again stay awake at night wondering what the final score was between Third Lanark and Celtic way back in January 1924 (3-1 away win for Celtic, FYI).

    It also has an excellent info guide of Celtic players past and present - though I was surprised that the entry on Charlie Nicholas was so scant - and there are some canny pics on the site that I've never seen before.

    [Paul Wilson in the foreground and the incomparable Jimmy Johnstone in the background on one knee.]

    Christmas Number 1 if Scotland pull off the impossible today?

    Lou Macari knew my father.

    In anticipation of today's game - 2 hours and 21 minutes until the ninety minute nationalism kicks in - a nice wee story from the BBC Sports website about Giovanni "Johnny" Moscardini, born in Falkirk in 1897, but who played for Italy nine times in the 1920s, scoring 7 international goals (the Kris Boyd of his day?).

    Funny thing is that despite being born of Italian parents, serving in the Italian army during WW1 and being an international footballer for Italy, going by the picture of him in his footballing prime that accompanies the piece, he looks like someone who could only have been born in Scotland. Is glaikit the word I'm looking for? I should know. (-----> see profile pic to your right.)

    Friday, November 16, 2007

    Albert Kidd knew my father.

    What was the name of that This Mortal Coil album?

    Christ, I hope the Samaritans in Scotland are fully staffed tomorrow night. There's such an air of expectation over tomorrow's game that I fear for Alex Salmond's McLeish's feel good factor if what started out as mission improbable turns into mission cordoba.

    The blog's getting so many hits at the moment from people hunting high and low for the 'We Have A Dream' mp3 that I don't know what's going to burst first: my bandwidth or Stuart Cosgrove's final brain cell.

    Stu. Have a sit down . . . get Tam Clown Cowan to make you a cup of hot sweet tea . . . and get an engineer in to dislodge that Braveheart DVD that appears to be playing on permanent loop on your plasma tv screen.

    My World Turned Upside Down

    Alan J over at the Mailstrom blog has a post on the ongoing writers' strike in the States, which has my worldview turned upside down: I've always liked Ellen Degeneres up to now but I've never really had much time for Mr Brooks.

    But what about Garth Brooks and WalMart?

    Friday's Playlist #22

    An ongoing series:

  • The Frantic Elevators, 'You Know What You Told Me' (The Indie Scene 80)
  • David Rovics, 'After The Revolution' (For The Moment)
  • The Undertones, 'You're Welcome' (Positive Touch)
  • TV 21 'Attention Span' (A Thin Red Line)
  • The Prisoners, 'Reaching My Head'
  • Gene Clark, 'So You Say You Lost Your Baby' (Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers)
  • Thomas Leer, 'All About You' (Pillows & Prayers)
  • Attila the Stockbroker, 'A bang and a Wimpey' (Pillows & Prayers)
  • Scars, 'All About You' (Author! Author!)
  • Matt Johnson, 'Another Boy Drowning' (Burning Blue Soul)
  • Quote of the Day

    From Clare Dudman's Normblog profile:

    What is your favourite proverb? > 'Forgive your enemies because it really irritates them.'

    Thursday, November 15, 2007

    Out of Step, Out Of Time and Out of Breath

    Paul over at Never Trust A Hippy Blog is taking a tube trip down memory lane with his recollections of seeing The Jam play live. Spawny get. I'm jealous as hell, and matters aren't helped when Will Rubbish gets in on the 'spawny get' payroll by mentioning that he's also got to see The Jam play live. I'm sure he told me one time that he didn't even like Paul Weller.

    As much as I love The Jam now, I have to admit that I was never into them when they were still a going concern. Too young I guess, too pop inclined when they were at their peak, and I didn't have that older brother or older sister pushing their records my way, telling me why it was important that I listened to them (as I've mentioned before on the blog, my older sister was force feeding me Steve Wonder and The Bee Gees at this point. We've since reconciled.)

    If anything I was a bit sniffy about them. Bands seem to be like football teams in those days, and for some reason I couldn't bring myself to like both The Jam and Culture Club at the same time (hangs head in shame). My loss, as I seem to remember feigning indifference to their last live performance on the first episode of The Tube, as if it wasn't a big deal. (takes that head that's hanging in shame and whacks it with a two by four).

    Timing's everything in life, and four or five months after 'Beat Surrender' was the final Jam number one in the British charts, I was ranting and raving about 'Speak Like A Child', and poring over the album sleeve of 'Introducing The Style Council' as if it was the Communist Manifesto. It's that scene from 'Stardust Memories' all over again and I had to work my way backwards through Paul Weller's discography via the Snap compilation and then all the original albums around about the same time I thought Style Council's 'Our Favourite Shop' was the best thing since 'Cafe Bleu'.

    That's enough rambling from me. To get back to Paul's original post; he makes the outlandish claim that 'Happy Together' is The jam's most underrated track. I beg to differ. Though it was a single, I still think that 'Absolute Beginners' was The Jam's most underrated track and the one that pointed to Weller's future with Style Council.

    It also lays claim to having one of the funniest music videos I've ever seen. Funny in an unintentional sense. Look at Weller try to run in the video. Therein lies the mystery of why he had to pick up a guitar at such a young age. Jan Molby could have out sprinted him. Also explains the gulf between him and the other two. Looks like Rick and Bruce were the types that were picked first to play footie in the school playgrounds. Paul looks like he was stuck in goal a la Billy Caspar in Kes. Weller should have joined the SPGB when he was stil political in the 80s. He would have found a natural kinship in the old Islington Btanch.

    What's that line from 'Funeral Pyre'?

    "I could see the faces of those led pissing theirselves laughing . . ."

    That would have been Rick, Bruce and the whole video crew for that day. Weller: Out of step, out of time and out of breath.

    Hat tip to Will.

    From The West Coast With Love

    Looking for a jpeg for The Jam album, Sound Affects*, allowed me to stumble across this excellent early eighties mixtape selection from somebody working or interning or squatting (I don't know) at a Seattle based FM station called KEXP Radio.

    Don't know if it's some sort of college radio station. If they're playing stuff like this, I'll have to check it out online sometime.

    Of the 21 tracks listed, I have 12 of them and wouldn't mind adding at another 4 of them. One quibble I might have is that the original demo of The Jam's 'That's Entertainment' is better than the version that ended up on Sound Affects. But it's a minor point; it's like saying Charlie Nicholas was better than Lubo Moravcik. They were both brilliant for Celtic,so it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.

    So much easier snaffling someone else's playlist/mixtape than coming up with your own.

    *Arguably one of my favourite album covers of all time. I think it's the contrasting colours.

    Music Matters

    Morphing Into A Music Blog (9):

    The usual drill: sprinkle in a few hat tips to where politics and popular music try and intersect; mention a couple of obscure bands - the more dated the better - to make me seem more interesting by association; link to incredibly popular music blogs so that they might notice me for ten seconds; and a mention of the Scotland football team and their date with glorious failure this coming Saturday:

  • "Jesus wept -- I'm 54.": So said Andy Partridge. Last Sunday saw Mr P's unhappy birthday and another excellent song installment from the XTC Myspace page. This week the 1978 single, 'This Is Pop', comes under scrutinisation.
    And I totally get where Andy P. is coming from with regards to the similarities between 50s Skiffle and Punk: what were the TV Personalities, if not a punk version of Lonnie Donegan Xs 2?
  • Not Enough Protest Songs: Brilliant post over at The Gaping Silence blog, where Phil dissects the lyrics of the Dexy's classic, 'There There, My Dear'. I must have listened to that song hundreds of times over the years, but it was only now that I've read Phil's post that I finally get what Kevin Rowland was singing in the second verse. Yep the lyrics are two-parts bonkers to one-part brilliance but I'll always have a soft spot for the couplet:
    Robin, you’re always so happy, how the hell?
    You’re like a dumb, dumb patriot.

    That rabbit punch will never get old.
  • Nothing But Protest Songs: One of the best protest 'singers' out there at the moment bar none is The Coup's Boots Riley. The latest issue of the CPGB/Weekly Worker's student freesheet, 'Communist Student', has an interesting article by John Jo Sidwell on the music, politics and history of The Coup. (The article is on page 2 of the PDF linked.)
    Also, check out the story about the original artwork for the cover of The Coup's 2001 album, 'Party Music', and wonder what might have been.
  • The Truth Can Often Be Painful: A sensitive and thoughtful post over at Vinyl Villain about Edwyn Collins and his recent rehabilitation from the life threatening cerebral hemorrhage that struck him down in 2005. With regards to the Artworks Scotland programme on Collins that is mentioned in the post, I downloaded it a few months back via UK Nova, but I've yet to watch it. I'm not sure if I could handle the uneasiness of watching someone so literate and witty picking the pieces of his life up after such a tragedy.
  • Busted Noses and Bruised Dreams: Is it just me or does the young raffish Pete Wylie look like Steve Bruce in this old Top of the Pops clip? Cheers to Danny over at the Socialist Unity Blog comments box - getting mighty crowded there these days - for the hat tip about the YouTube clip.
    Pete Wylie really is/was a legend of sorts . . . or at least that's what it says on his website. And spare a thought for Steve Bruce. He's never going to get the Old Trafford gig (Mark Hughes and Roy Keane are ahead of him in the 'old boy to succeed Fergie stakes'), and he's currently caught in a tug-of-war between a midget jazz mag merchant and a union busting and price gouging scumbag. He should have stayed at Selhurst Park under the watchful gaze of tangerine man.
  • Recommended Music Blog of The Moment Too much unused disk space cluttering up your hard drive? Then head over to Rho-Xs and catch your jaw before it hits the floor. Take the excellent Not Rock On, and turn it up to 11: Rho-Xs is that good.
    Latest post on the blog covers 1984 albums by the Eurythmics, Art of Noise and Felt. Granted, those albums don't really float my boat. (Felt, for fucks sake. Indie kids across the bedrooms of suburbia are wetting themselves as I write.), but the blog covers everything from early eighties Belgian post-punk to New York electro to Jamaican dub to "hiphop flamenkillo" from Barcelona. It sounds like an explosion in a John Peel factory.
  • 'The album currently claiming squatting rights on iTunes': It was via Rho-Xs - by way of the 5P music blog - that I recently discovered the brilliant early eighties album, 'A Thin Red Line', by Edinburgh Post-Punksters TV21. To be honest - to paraphrase Renee Zellweger's character in 'Jerry Maguire' - they got me at (pre-maturely) naming their album after what should have been the title of the Crump/Rubel eighties classic.
    I don't get it - how was it that they didn't even dent the lower reaches of the charts or the left-side of my musical consciousness? We're not talking about one of those infamous lost bands from music's murky past who recorded one single in some backwater back in '78, only to break up with bitter recriminations after the single got played on John Peel twice. According to the blurb on the Rho-Xs blog:
    "TV 21 had been always in good company during their brief time together as a band. Teardrop Explodes' Troy Tate produced their first two independent singles. The 1981 album, "A Thin Red Line," was produced by Ian Broudie of the Original Mirrors and later Lightning Seeds. Mike Scott of the Waterboys and Pete Wylie from Wah! make appearances on their lp .They toured with the Undertones and were the opening act for the Rolling Stones for the Scottish dates of their 1982 European tour."

    See what I mean? Look at the names cited. Troy Tate also did the original production work on The Smiths debut album*. Mike Scott is proof needed that I'm not so secularist that I can't tap my toe to tunes from a mystic gobshite, and that man Wylie again. Only a bona fide legend turns up in the unlikeliest of places - and twice in the space of a post on this blog to boot.

    Bit of a happy ending of sorts out of the saddest of circumstances. The band reformed in 2005 to play a gig in appreciation of the legacy of the late John Peel, and decided to carry on from there.

    When in doubt reach for MySpace, where there is a canny page for the band. Check out the reworking/re-recording of 'Something's Wrong' that was on 'A Thin Red Line'. It's as good as the original. And the other new songs on the page that have been uploaded carry themselves off with aplomb. Think The Silencers meet late XTC. I might see you other there. I'll be the one gushing over the track, 'When I Scream'.
  • “Messieurs et Mesdames, Les Ecars…”: OK, sample track of the day. Stick with Edinburgh, stick with early eighties post-punk, and stick with the theme of 'why the hell weren't they more famous?'
    And that's despite being smothered with such prose praise as:
    [they] . . . epitomise the post-punk new seriousness that has radically re-activated pop music, destroying the dichotomy between intelligence and emotion and confronting a whole range of different fears and desires. New pop that treats the transient thrill seriously." [Could only be this bloke in the pages of the NME.]

    . . . the Scars were another Edinburgh band who never made it big. (In retrospect, Josef K seem like superstars by comparison.) Curious as to why they never made their mark. They had the scratchy post-punk guitars that weren't fooling anyone - they could play their instruments. They had the kudos of releasing a single on the Fast Product record label. For a Scottish band they were surprisingly good looking, which probably helped them get their pasty faces in the pages of Smash Hits, but to no avail.

    Arguing from a position of splendid blogging ignorance, maybe being signed to the record label that they were didn't exactly help. Don't be fooled by the 'Pre' record label. It was a subsidiary of Charisma; the home to the likes of Genesis, Peter Hammill and RD Laing. I'd hazard a guess that the Scars were the token punk/post-punk/no wave/new wave band for the label. Well, them and Delta 5, and the record label probably didn't know what the hell to do with them.

    And what was the deal with the Scars naming their only album after what was to be one of the worst films of Al Pacino's career? Sorry a misprint, I meant this sorry excuse of a film. They were just inviting indifference.

    Back to why I think should check out the Scars. Think of a post-punk ménage à trois between The Sound souped up, Josef K and early Wire playing songs that lasted longer one and half minutes, and you get some sense of their musical lovechild that may or may not have resembled the Scars' 'Author! Author!' album.

    The songs that everyone talks about from the album are 'Your Attention Please' and 'All About You', which are both fine songs but I have an especial soft spot for this track:
    'Lady In The Car With Glasses On And A Gun' mp3

    The title of the song suggests it should have been on last The Long Blondes album, but it is in fact the best Josef K song, Franz Ferdinand, Radio 4 and Josef K never wrote. By comparing the sound to Josef K, I'm not accusing the Scars of being copyists. Just trying to bring home to you how good this track is. You should *sample* it now.
  • Progress Report On The Ongoing Attempt To Upgrade The Blog Into A Music Blog 'Fraid it's not going as well as planned. The expanded sidebar, with the new music blog section, only helped to hit home to me how many good bona fide mp3 music blogs there are out there. My attempts at foisting my record collection on an unsuspecting desktop population is rightfully getting lost in the goldrush.
    Also, it doesn't really help that for all after the obscure stuff I've posted on these pages, the mp3 that keeps getting hit upon again and again is John Gordon Sinclair singing 'We Have Dream'.

    Aye, it's the best football song ever committed to vinyl but what happens to the blog come Saturday night? The Italians are going to get the result they need, and Scottish people living in Amersham and Leyton Buzzard will no longer be stumbling across my blog via a google search for that 1982 BA Robertson song.

    Who can honestly contemplate another scenario at Hampden? And what's worse, if he's playing Saturday, it's guaranteed that Italian defensive midfielder, Rino Gattuso, will score with a goal of such sweet majesty that it will make Messi's goal against Getafe look like a tap in.

    Gattuso will leave the pitch with Archie McPherson's knitted saltire wrapped around his shoulders and with tears in his eyes, will warmly embrace a watching Walter Smith whose been sitting in the stands, and in the post-match interview he'll insist that he still has plans to return to Glasgow and Rangers.

    And I'll be left with posting sad bastard tunes by the likes of Smog, the Red House Painters and Arab Strap for the next six months. I may as well jump under a bus right now and get it over and done with.
  • *His production work was scrapped, and John Porter ended up producing the best album of 1984.

    "If you whinge at them, they will come."


    Forget about the Respect face off; that's so yesterday. Latest scandal in the workers' movement.

    Only a few days back the blog reported on the inactivity of the Spaces of Hope blog, despite the fact that, according to the list of contributors on the sidebar, it appeared to be fully quorate. Well a quick visit to the blog today shows that since then the space has suddenly been packed with the hoped-for posts:

  • Dead Man Hanging
  • David Cameron and Rape
  • Witch burnings - a war on women
  • No mention of where they've been; no mention on whether or not participants are fully registered or not. Just lots of posts that mention Hobbes, Descartes, Foucault, the (London) Evening Standard and Silvia Federici's 'Caliban and the Witch'.

    Welcome back comrades. My word power has been deteriorating daily during your absence.

    Does My Party Look Big In This?

    Christ, look at the cornucopia of SPGB meetings on the back page of the January 1986 issue of the Socialist Standard? And it only goes up to M on that page!

    You just know that there would have been shedload* of meetings in Prestonpans that month as well. Maybe a four part lecture series on 'Marx and the Reification of McCowans Highland Toffee: a reply to the Falkirk School'. What else were you going to do in Prestonpans on a wintry January night back in 1986?

    Looking at that page from 1986 in the here and now of 2007 is the impossibilist equivalent of that scene from 'Stardust Memories'. You know the scene where Woody Allen takes time out from ripping off paying cinematic homage to Ingmar Bergman to ripping off pay cinematic homage to Fellini? The only difference is that, in comparison to any SPGB meeting I've ever attended, there appears to be a decent gender balance in the carriage Woody is sitting in . . . oh, that and they look younger and happier as well.

    And who was that who was listed to speak at a Forum of the Islington Branch of the SPGB on the 13th February of that year? The Research Officer of the South Wales NUM? Whatever happened to him? Wanker.

    *"shedloads of meetings": Back in '86, on the first, second and fourth Monday of the month the Prestonpans SPGB study group would meet here between 1830-2000 for their discussion meetings, but had to meet here on the third Monday in the month because the Prestonpans & Humbie Nicky Campbell Appreciation Society had already pre-booked their preferred venue.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2007

    To Discourage The Others

    Following on from the recent post/link on the blog relating to working class history in Hammersmith and Islington, John B over at Class Warfare blog has a post on William Jobling, the last man to be gibbeted in England.

    Jobling, a native of Jarrow, was a miner convicted of the murder of Nicholas Fairles, a colliery owner and local magistrate, way back in 1832, and in the articles that John B links to in his post, there is still some doubt 175 years later whether or not Jobling was in fact guilty of the crime.

    There can be no doubt that the gibbeting of Jobling - gibbeting being the public display of executed criminals in iron gallows-like constructions to deter other would be 'criminals' - was as much about the period and place of when the murder took place, as it was about the murder itself.

    The North East of England was in the throes of heightened class antagonism between the miners and the mine owners at that time - there had been two major strikes in the area in 1831 and 1832 - and the conviction of a miner for the murder of a magistrate/colliery owner had to be seen to be acted upon swiftly and decisively. A message sent out to the miners and their supporters that this is what happens to your kind if you cross us.

    It's a little known piece of working class history, and as John B. states:

    "Many in the labour movement will be able to tell you about the Tolpuddle Martyrs. There is even an annual two-day event in Dorset to commemorate them and indeed the wider struggle of the labour movement. How many, I wonder, could mention the case of Will Jobling, a miner from Jarrow who was gibbeted at about the same time as the men from Tolpuddle were being sent to Australia, or indeed of seven men from Jarrow who were likewise deported for their union activity? "

    The sooner we know a little more about our history of our class, the sooner we can move on from being swallowing the 'official version' spoon-fed to us by those who don't want us to know any better.

    Waiting For The Drop

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (20)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 20th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 933 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Co-operation not competition
  • Taxing problem
  • Che's nuclear winter or a Socialist summer?
  • This week's top quote:

    "Marx discovered the law of development of human history: the simple fact, hitherto concealed by an overgrowth of ideology, that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc." Engels at Marx's Funeral, 1883.

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Tuesday, November 13, 2007

    Cold Sweats

    Christ, 79 posts still in draft. Mustttttt try 'arder.

    Hammersmith and Islington

    Just posted on the unofficial Socialist Standard page on MySpace is a double book review from the September 1985 Socialist Standard of a couple of excellent books published in the old Journeymen Press series :

  • William Morris's Socialist Diary, edited and annotated by Florence Boos; "Don't Be A Soldier!" – the Radical Anti-War Movement in North London 1914-1918 by Ken Weller
  • If I remember rightly, The Journeymen Press - in association with the History Workshop Journal - published a series of monographed pamphlets in the early eighties focusing on working class history. I only know of the four books in the series that were once on my bookshelf:

  • "Don't Be A Soldier!" – the Radical Anti-War Movement in North London 1914-1918 by Ken Weller (1985)
  • William Morris's Socialist Diary, edited and annotated by Florence Boos (1982)
  • Club Life and Socialism in Mid-Victorian London by Stan Shipley (1983)
  • Women's work in nineteenth-century London : a study of the years 1820-50 by Sally Alexander (1983)
  • I'd love to know if there were others in the series, but the internet doesn't really help me out. The good news is that Morris's diary, with Florence Boos introduction and footnotes is available online via the Marxist Internet Archive. I've never been on the Morrisonian wing of the SPGB, but I agree with the reviewer that it's humbling to read that as brilliant a man and socialist that Morris was, he still had the doubts, depressions and the political down days that the rest of mere mortals have in the here and now.

    Of the two books under review in the Standard, I especially recommend Ken Weller's book if you can get a hold of it. Weller was one of the driving forces behind the old libertarian socialist group, Solidarity, and as the Socialist Standard writer acknowledges in his review, the subject of the book was obviously a real labour of love for Weller, shining a light on a corner of radical working class history that has been hidden from view all too well down the years.

    I'm ready to be corrected but what was also refreshing about such a specialised labour history work is that I don't think it started out as a PhD thesis, and thus is very readable for those of us who aren't schooled in ploughing through the usual academese. (If I'm wrong, I apologise but Weller's prose doesn't read like someone trying to get a doctorate. It reads like someone trying to pass on ideas to the rest of us half-educated eejits.)

    I take the reviewer's point about the strange position of the SPGB within the text - to paraphrase Trotsky, we've been 'consigned to the footnote of history' - but as I remember it there are enough references in the text to members and ex-members of the SPGB during the period under discussion to bring out two important points from the book:

    1) That despite the best attempts of our political opponents on the left in the capacity of their day jobs as historians and wannabe academics, the SPGB was not marginalised from either radical working class politics or the fabled 'official labour movement' from its foundation. It's there in the pages of Weller's book that the SPGB had a voice and made an impact of sorts in that tumultuous time of working class politics. It was one of those periods in its history - and there have been others - when the SPGB punched well above its weight;

    2) and following on from the mention of it being tumultuous times, Weller, by focusing on one part of North London, was able to bring to the modern day reader the sense of fluidity and vibrancy of radical politics during that time. (And as a consequence explains inadvertently better than most why the SPGB took on the curmudgeonly 'personality' that it did, which has been misunderstood and understood all too well in equal measure ever since.) Granted, the text starts from a low point for radical politics in that period; covering a time that begins with the capitulation of the major parties of the Second International to a defencism and nationalism that they previously asserted that they would never be sucked into, but Weller was able to rescue from the margins and - yep - the footnotes those few workers who stood against the tide of patriotism and our masters' interests.


    A Tale of Two Citadels

    What started out as great expectations has now irreversibly fallen on hard times. Andy N over at Socialist Unity blog has the latest sketches on blogz regarding the old curiosity shop that was Respect (Mark I).

    Despite public protestations to the contrary, it turns out that meetings did take place in late October behind closed doors between the two opposing factions in these adventures of political twists and turns. Up for discussion was the small matter of arranging as bloodless a separation as possible between the two opposing camps. It all came to nought, as both sides sought to steal a march on the other.

    As someone who has nailed his colours to 'Respect Renewal's' mast, Andy probably doesn't see it this way but I think it would take a magician of the skill and deftness of a David Copperfield to explain how two opposing factions - who were each in turn claiming to be the democratising pluralist voice and/or defending the democratic inclusive voice within Respect - could conduct their divorce negotiations behind closed doors and behind the backs of those rank and file members that they were supposed to be representing on each side. I guess it's one for the polemical papers to pick over.

    Big question for me, though, is: who's 'Our Mutual Friend' who gets such a prominent mention in this post? S/he is . . ." an independent and respected friend of both sides . . . [who] had offered to mediate in any discussions. It was agreed that this ‘mutual friend’ should be asked to chair the negotiation." [Negotiating what was supposed to be the amicable divorce between Respect (Galloway) and 'Socialist Respect'.]

    Little Porrit, maybe? Nah, even when he was active in the Green Party, he was never a member of its eco-socialist wing. Negotiate suggests a legal mindset. Maybe Malcolm Mansfield parked himself at the centre of the dispute. No, can't be him; you can't mix your Dickens with your Austen. There's only so far that this blog will go in its frivolity.

    Andy N is insisting that any comments to his post that speculate on the possible identity of OMF will be immediately deleted. With a response like that, watch that thread get derailed quicker than you can say 'What's Tommy Sheridan* up to these days?'

    *Of course, it ain't him. Just adding fuel to the fire.

    Politically Enlightened by Ted Rogers and Dusty Bin

    Ticking over, linking up:

  • Marx and Coca-Cola has been added to the blogroll. All I know about the blogger is that he is out of Seattle, describes himself as a libertarian socialist, and that I like the cut of his jib. More please.
  • Norman Mailer 1923-2007 I know I keep linking to the Splintered Sunrise blog at the moment, but it's the blogging equivalent of when you hear an interesting band for the first time, and you just have to play them over and over again until you get sick of the fucking sight of them. Yes, Splintered Sunrise is this year's Maximo Park.
    SS throws up the information that Mailer attended Shachtmanite meetings as a young man, and that it had some influence on his novel, 'Barbary Shore'.

    Christ, Saul Bellow, James T. Farrell, Harvey Swados and, now it appears, Norman Mailer all had some sort of connection to the Workers Party. That is some heavyweight literary list, and will also make up 85% of the lyrics for Lloyd Cole's next solo album.
  • OBSERVER JOURNALISTS = MI5 PATSIES Ian Bone once again takes a trip down Class War's memory lane, but not for laughs this time.
    Bone responds to David Rose's recent revelation in the pages of the New Statesman that he [Rose] was a tame journalist for British Intelligence in the 90s/00s. Bone dates Rose's kept nature to a few years before that.
  • Debating the Russian Revolution SP(CWI) blogger, Phil BC carries a report of a recent debate between the SPGB and his lot on the subject of the Russian Revolution - 90 years on and all that - that took place at Keele University, and which was organised by Keele Socialist Students. (I mention Keele twice 'cos I have no idea where the hell it is. Maybe near Port Vale?)
    Phil's blog also reminds me that there will be a fourth event in London on the weekend of the November 17/18 that Gary Neville - SOCIALIST? - won't be attending. Get the message?

    PS - Typical Leninist that he is, Phil BC tries to hoodwink the workers by kidding them on that he has half-decent taste in music with his use of the image of an Franz Ferdinand record cover to accompany the report of the Russian Revolution debate. That centrist is fooling no one: "The Week's Top (Old) Tune: Let Me Show You by K-Klass WTF? I'd plough through Peter Taaffe's 'The Rise of Militant' again before putting myself through the pain of listening to that old pony again.

    The one thing to get this abstract propagandist out of his armchair would be if I had to switch off the radio station playing early nineties dance music. Shocking.
  • Spaces of Hope The blog's quorate, but there's nothing on the agenda.
    Come on people; get your arses in gear. Since when did you have to have something to say, before you started to post on your blog? Just make some shit up . . . like the rest of us.
  • Monday, November 12, 2007

    Chuck Lorre's Unity Card

    Chuck Lorre's vanity card at the end of tonight's episode of 'The Big Bang Theory' - which happens to be the best comedy on mainstream American TV at the moment (I took a poll of Kara and myself.) - was the three simple but effective words, 'United we stand'.

    According to the stats for his website, this previous vanity card has the most views/hits for this month. (It dates from the time he was working on 'Dharma & Greg'.)

    Going by the numbers of the vanity cards listed, that must mean that the most popular dates from quite a while back. Maybe as far back as three or four years ago?

    That Chuck Lorre is one smart cookie.

    Sunday, November 11, 2007

    Where's My Manners?

    There's me a couple of days back pointing people in the direction of Dave Cameron embracing all things co-operative, and yet I was neglectful in my revolutionary duty by failing to tie it in with the November Socialist Standard.

    This month's 'Cooking the Books' column carries a wee piece where the original Green Shield Knight, Jonathan Porritt, is quoted stamping his own claim on the capitalism apologist chutzpah stakes by seeking to co-opt Co-operatism into the interests of saving capitalism from consuming itself*:

  • Co-opting the Co-op
  • What with Porritt and now Cameron bigging up co-operativism in recent weeks, I'm guessing that something must be in the think tank air. Maybe a paucity of new ideas? I'll leave that for the blogsphere's egg-heads to chew over. I'm off to try and find a Postcard mp3.

    *Please don't try and read that sentence out loud without first taking a deep breath. It may cause success spasms of alliterative ailments and aches.

    Name That Tune?

    Morphing Into A Music Blog (8)

    Brilliant idea for a music quiz from the Any Major Dude With Half A Heart music blog. With a five second intro, name that song:

  • Intros quiz: '70s edition
  • Intros quiz: '80s edition
  • All the tracks were top ten hits in either the States or the UK, so there shouldn't be anything in the mix that is too obscure.

    Naturally, suffering from '80s arrested development, I got 16/20 correct for that decade, but the '70s were a bit more of a mystery to me. AMD hasn't posted the answers to the '70s quiz yet, but I'm guessing that I got 9/19. I'm not complaining.

    See if you can do better. No cheating now.

    "You don't want to do that."

    According to wiki, when Liam Ridgewell joined Birmingham City from Aston Villa in August 2007, he was: "the first player to transfer between the bitter rivals since Des Bremner in 1984 . . ."

    Nine minutes into today's derby at St Andrews, and he scores an own goal. Silly boy.


    No Happy Ending: Agbonlahor cleared a Ridgewell header off the line before meeting Ashley Young's cross at the other end and nodding past Blues keeper Maik Taylor.

    "I can't breathe . . . I can't breathe."

    Morphing Into A Music Blog (7)

    No, honestly, I can't breathe.

    Coming down with a condition that is known within the medical community as 'Finding tracks you thought you'd lost forever'itis'. (Only know the Latin name for it. I'm guessing the layperson's term is something like 'Guitar Strep Throat'.)

    Currently adding a list of music blogs to the sidebar, but that has been put on hold as I've just stumbled across the best mp3 blog ever. (Until I find the next one.)

    Not Rock On blog comes out of Germany and, as its byline goes, Jörg, the bloke behind the legend, has a penchant for "New Wave, Marc Almond . . . The Smiths . . . The Sound . . . Soft Cell, Spandau Ballet . . . Scott Walker . . . Durutti Column . . . Holger Hiller . . ." amongst many others.

    I'm sure you can get the gist of the music played and displayed from the music mentioned, but that's enough prattle from me. On to the must-have mp3 links:

  • Pillows & Prayers Cherry Red Sampler 1982
  • Perspectives and Distortion Cherry Red Sampler 1981
  • Jörg is a star for uploading both albums in full onto his blog for downloading sampling purposes.

    Despite being released a year after 'Perspectives and Distortion', 'Pillows & Prayers' gets top billing in the post 'cos I picked it up for a couple of quid - yep, I paid over the odds for it - at Watford Indoor Market* in the mid-eighties when I was first getting into the obscure stuff.(Like the fool I am, I threw it Oxfam's way 15 years later when I was getting rid of all my vinyl.)

    Listening to the album again after all these years, I'd actually forgotten how poppy and accessible most of the tracks on the album were. Then as now, The Monochrome Set, The Passage, Thomas Leer and Tracy Thorn tracks are the stand out tunes for me. But, mellowing with age, I've even given the Quentin Crisp track more of a chance this time round. Must be the shared kinship of New York and the dyed purple hair.

    For some reason, the words 'Cherry Red Records' used to conjure up a muso image more akin to some obscurantist unlistenable bullshit jazz label than to its real indie bretheren of Rough Trade, Factory or 4AD from the same period. I guess it was simply because that unlike those aforementioned indie labels, Cherry Red never did have their Smiths, Joy Division or Cocteau Twins to break the label out of its supposed indie ghetto.

    Unsubstantiated rumours are that their best bet for making the transition from Melody Maker to Radio 1 Roundtable, the Monochrome Set, fucked up their chance 'cos their drummer dropped his drumsticks.** Monochrome Set getting the Oxford Roadshow gig could have had the knock on effect of Lawrence from Felt being an eighties version of Luke Haines - the talented one from the current in-vogue music scene who never quite makes it 'cos he doesn't have the cheekbones or the hairline to compete with the sixth form common room brigade. We'll never know what might have been.

    Despite the fact that five of the artists who appeared on the latter 'P & P' sampler also appeared on 'Perspectives and Distortion', the 1981 Cherry Red Sampler was definitely the more leftfield in tone and more of a challenge to the listener to get to grips with. (Maybe the album cover was a warning of sorts?) I defy you not to come away from listening to the Virgin Prunes track, 'Third Secret', without mouthing the words: 'What the fuck was that all about?'

    The Lemon Kittens track starts off with you thinking, 'Robert Wyatt's going to pop up in a minute with a love-tinged lyric about Earl Browder', but it then shifts into a vocal and tune that is musically akin to that bit in the original Japanese version of 'The Ring' when the goth climbs out of the tv set. Before the track's over, you've put all the lights on in the apartment and woken up the pets 'cos you don't fancy sleeping alone tonight.

    In fact, the most accessible track on the album - Kevin Coyne and Ben Watt don't count. If they'd collaborated on re-recording/reworking of Lou Reed's 'Metal Machine Music' album, it would have come out sounding like James Blunt - is the early The The/Matt Johnson's track 'What Stanley Saw'. Turns out this track even predates Johnson's 4AD album, 'Burning Blue Soul', and was part of album called 'Spirits' that dates from '79 but was never released. It actually sounds like typical The The, and wouldn't be that out of place on the 'Infected' album. (It's actually better than some of the weaker tracks on side two of that album.)

    Nice to see that even as a teenager, Matt Johnson had the same lyrical concerns as his latter, more celebrated work: the twin concerns of Britain coming to terms with an increasingly dystopian future, with Matt Johnson ever-increasing need to get his leg over. It's a thematical consistency that Calvin Harris should make a note of if he ever wants the 25 year musical career and the Not-So-Smarties commercial.

    In short, 'Perspectives and Distortion' is experimental and in your face whilst 'Pillows & Prayers' is comforting like a ginger nut dunked in a mug of tea. Even shorter still, Kara, with her playlist of Free Kitten and Julie Ruin, would dig P and D, whilst me, with Prefab Sprout on permanent repeat on iTunes, still laps up 'P & P' after all these years.

    Enjoy them both.

    Further Reading: Eclecticism for under a quid

    *Watford Indoor Market - Same place I picked up Ian Walker's 'Zoo Station' for fifty pence.

    **Don't mind me. I'm making this shit up as I go along.