Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Reel of Time

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the 79th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

We now have 1426 friends!

Recent blogs:

  • Let’s make a real socialist revolution
  • What is Poverty?
  • The problem that never went away
  • Coming Events:

    Saturday 10 January, 6pm


    Speaker: Jim Lawrie

    Socialist Party Head Office, 52 Clapham High St, London SW4 (nearest tube: Clapham North)

    Tuesday 20 January, 8pm


    Chiswick Town Hall, Heathfield Terrace, W4.(nearest tube: Chiswick Park)

    Wednesday 21 January, 8.30pm


    Speaker: Vic Vanni

    Community Central Halls, 304 Maryhill Road, Glasgow.

    Saturday 24 January, 3pm to 5pm.


    Yes: Hillel Ticktin, editor of Critique; No: Adam Buick, Socialist Party.

    Hillhead Public Library, Byres Road, Glasgow. (next to Hillhead subway)

    Saturday 24 January, 12 noon to 4pm


    12pm informal chat, 1pm meal, 2pm to 4pm Discussion

    The Conservertory, back room of Rosary Tavern, Rosary Road, Norwich.

    Monday 26 January, 8.30pm


    Unicorn, Church Street, Manchester City Centre.

    Saturday 31 January, 6pm


    Socialist Party Head Office, 52 Clapham High St, London SW4.

    Quote for the week:

    "The first duty of society is to give each of its members the possibility of fulfilling his destiny. When it becomes incapable of performing this duty it must be transformed." Alexis Carrel (1873 - 1944), Reflections on Life, 1965.

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Tuesday, December 30, 2008

    Victoria Beckham's belly button fluff collection is too deep for the Daily Mail There isn't a mine shaft deep enough . . .

    . . . for the editor of the Daily Mail.

    I'm sorry but it's too late in life for me to warm to Tony Adams, despite his best efforts:

    "I don't actually trust anyone who doesn't have self-doubt. But I have resources and I have a lot of faith in myself, my methods and my team. I'm walking tall at the moment. It feels like the right thing to do. Is this too deep for the Daily Mail?"

    More gems from Mr Adams's treasure chest via the Guardian's Barney Ronay's Sporting Heroes of 2008.

    Saturday, December 27, 2008

    Auld Firm Sign Language

    "Walter, your shower of journeymen were this close from finishing 2008 unbeaten at Ibrox."

    I wasn't expecting that.

    Old stomping ground

    Quote Passage of the Day:

    "It was from this time I conceived a dislike of Lancaster I've never since lost. Having seen madness on that ward, I saw it echoed in face after face in the town. Though it's a pleasant enough place I find the people there less amiable and appealing than elsewhere in Lancashire, with the possible exception of Liverpool. There's an openness and generosity in Blackburn, Preston and Rochdale, maybe because these were virtues fostered in the mills; Lancaster, commercial, agricultural and (like Liverpool) once a port, seems sullen, tight-fisted and at night raw and violent." (from Alan Bennett's 'Untold Stories'.)

    Friday, December 26, 2008

    There will be blood

    Not the YouTube downfall I was looking for, but a witty wee video take on the current fallout in the upper echelons of the SWP.

    Hat tip to the tubes over at HP Sauce for the heads up on the blogger video.

    Thursday, December 25, 2008

    Soft Bulletin

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (78)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 78th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1425 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Cold charity
  • Who are "we"?
  • The struggle for democracy
  • Quote for the week:

    That time of the year is almost on us

    When department stores will cheat and con us,

    Trying to steal our money from us.

    So you'd better watch out because

    There's a fat old jolly bloke

    With the long white beard and the bright red cloak,

    Who'll do his best to send us broke?

    It's Santa Bloody Claus.

    Eric Bogle, Santa Bloody Claus.

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Salutations and mince pies

    Merry Crimbo.

    Wednesday, December 24, 2008

    Their Wullie

    "But the final years of his career were dogged by controversy. His most shameful act came during his stint at Ibrox, when he stamped on John McMaster's head; the Aberdeen player needed the kiss of life as a result. "I'm not proud of that," he says today. "It's no excuse but I thought he was Willie Miller. Miller was a great player but he was a hard man and deserved some of his own treatment back. Unfortunately I got the wrong player."

    Skip past the opening paragraph - which is absolute bollocks - for an entertaining article about R*ngers' Willie Johnston, half wing-wizard/half thuggish wind-up merchant, from yesterday's Guardian Football Blog.

    It pains to me to write it but people forget what a good team R*ngers had in the late sixties, early seventies. It just happened to be their misfortune to come up at that time against a better team . . . better club . . . better fans . . . better set of human beings . . . you get the partisan drift.

    PS - Be sure to check out the comments to the article as well for other 'wee incidents' from Johnston's career. It turns out that decades on from his retirement, he's still a footballer and human being that splits opinion. This comment about his time playing football in Canada caught me eye:

    I had the pleasure of watching Willie in Vancouver. They were an exciting squad to watch.

    In one game at old Empire Stadium, Johnston was bedeviling the visitors (I forget which side) and the Caps were winning handily. His marker, tired of being skinned, had resorted to all manner of tactics in a vain attempt to contain the winger. Finally, deep in the second half, he grabbed Johnston's sleeve and pulled quite briskly two or three times, without a whistle or any sign from the ref he was going to control the player. Finally, exasperated, Johnston spun around, grabbed the defender by both shoulders and planted a knee in his groin.

    The ref saw that.

    Judge Finds Starbucks Guilty of Extensive Union-Busting

    Via the Starbucks Union website:

    For Immediate Release: Starbucks Workers Union (Industrial Workers of the World)

    Contact: StarbucksUnion (at)

    Judge Finds Starbucks Guilty of Extensive Union-Busting

    The IWW Scores Big Victory Over Global Coffee Chain

    New York, NY (Dec. 23, 2008)- Following a lengthy trial here last year, a National Labor Relations Board judge has found Starbucks guilty of extensive violations of federal labor law in its bid to counter the IWW Starbucks Workers Union. In an 88-page decision, Judge Mindy E. Landow found, among other things, that Starbucks maintained multiple policies which interfered with workers' right to communicate about the union and about working conditions; terminated three workers in retaliation for union activity; and repeatedly discriminated against union supporters. The decision comes despite a 2006 New York settlement in which Starbucks pledged to stop illegal anti-union activities and mirrors federal government action against the company for its conduct toward baristas in Minnesota and Michigan.

    "The judge's decision coupled with previous government findings expose Starbucks for what it is --- a union-busting corporation that will go to staggering lengths to interfere with the right to freedom of association," said Daniel Gross, a barista and member of the IWW Starbucks Workers Union found to have been unlawfully terminated by the coffee giant. "In these trying economic times of mass layoffs and slashed work hours, it's more important than ever that Starbucks and every corporation is confronted with a social movement that insists on the right to an independent voice on the job."

    The Board decision is the latest blow against a company that has experienced a stunning fall from grace. From a precipitous decrease in customer demand to its increasingly tattered socially responsible image, the myriad of challenges facing Starbucks has resulted in the company losing over half its value from just a year ago. The decision also represents a significant victory for the IWW Starbucks Workers Union which continues to grow across the country with baristas taking creative and determined actions to improve the security of works hours and win respect on the job. Starbucks faces another Labor Board trial next month in Grand Rapids, Michigan over illegal union-busting.

    "For the first time, a judge has confirmed the existence of a nationally coordinated anti-union operation at Starbucks," said Stuart Lichten, the attorney for the IWW Starbucks Workers Union in the case. "This decision conclusively establishes Starbucks' animosity toward labor organizing."

    The union is confident that Judge Landow's copiously documented and well-reasoned 88-page decision will be upheld by the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C. should Starbucks appeal. The victory is sure to be gratifying for the union's international supporters who conducted spirited global days of action in defense of Isis Saenz, Joe Agins, Jr., and Daniel Gross after their terminations which the Board has now found to be unlawful.

    The National Labor Relations Board attorneys on the case were Burt Pearlstone and Audrey Eveillard. The union's attorney Stuart Lichten is a partner at Schwartz, Lichten & Bright, a prominent New York City labor law firm. Starbucks was represented by union-avoidance lawyers Daniel Nash, Stacey Eisenstein, and Nicole Morgan at corporate firm Akin Gump.

    The IWW Starbucks Workers Union ( is an organization of almost 300 current and former Starbucks employees united for a living wage, secure work hours, and respect on the job. Founded in 2004, the union uses direct action, litigation, and advocacy to both make systemic improvements at Starbucks and take on the company over unfair treatment of individual baristas.

    The Industrial Workers of the World ( is a rank and file labor union dedicated to democracy in the workplace and global solidarity.

    Murder of the English Language in the Central Committee

    With regards to that ongoing crisis within the leadership of the Socialist Workers Party. (IMHO, no, the SWP is not going to implode and it's not going to go away however much it's on my Amazon wishlist.)

    There are thousands of comments littering the blogosphere over the documents issued by John, Portsmouth John whose ate too many slices of Papa Johns, Neil, Dozy, Mick and Tich and I've not mentioned a sniff of any of them on the blog. Well, I can hold back no longer.

    Why has nobody addressed the real concrete question that is truly preoccupying the collective mind of the working class when it comes to matters relating to John Rees and his fight for the Cliffite soul of the Socialist Workers Party.

    'Where is the John Rees YouTube Downfall video?'

    Until that question is properly addressed, I'm tempted to do a Lenny and say sod all on the matter.

    Saturday, December 20, 2008

    Buddha being looked up in Suburbia

    If the constant rattling of my sitemeter is anything to go by, they must be teaching a course in Hanif Kureishi's 'Buddha of Suburbia' up at State University of New York at Stony Brook at the moment. End of term papers, perhaps?

    Come on people. You don't want to fail your end of term paper. Jump over to wikipedia like any normal lazy arsed student would do back in the day.

    Much too random

    Three tunes from 2008 must be a record for me.

    Thursday, December 18, 2008

    Gerry Gow'ism

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (77)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 77th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1423 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Co-operation
  • Banks - Who needs them?
  • 150 Years of the Communist Manifesto
  • Quote for the week:

    "The credit system has a dual character immanent in it: on the one hand it develops the motive of capitalist production, enrichment by the exploitation of other's labour, into the purest and most colossal form of gambling and swindling, and restricts ever more the already small number of exploiters of social wealth; on the other hand however it constitutes the form of transition towards a new mode of production." Marx, Capital, Volume III, Chapter 27 (1894)

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Rees's in Pieces

    I laughed.

    Oscar nominee spot

    Paul Giamatti in the East Village . . . in St Marks Bookshop . . . not buying the Socialist Standard . . . bastard.

    'Just buy it!'

    Via Business Pundit, a parody of 15 business logos in these pressing times:

    Hat tip to Alister.

    Monday, December 15, 2008

    We three tunes . . .

    A cursory glance of the sitemeter tells me that Christmas is nearly upon us. I know this because people keep gatecrashing the blog in their search for this seasonal singalong.

    I'd long since allowed the mp3 link to expire to that particular new wave classic, but in the spirit of giving I've reupped both that song and my other favourite tune for this coming period at this old link.

    Please enjoy, but not just yet. I'm feeling giddy with goodness. It's like I've been bludgeoned over the head with a copy of 'It's A Wonderful Life' by Andy Williams, and in my current dazed state I'm also stuffing this new(ish) Christmas classic in your stocking:

  • Wild Billy Childish & Musicians Of The British Empire, The - 'Christmas 1979' mp3
  • I've posted the songs early enough to allow you to learn the words in time for Christmas Carolling around the family casio on Christmas Day. That special time that comes but once a year . . . just after you've belched the remnants of the Christmas dinner into the dining room air and just before Cousin Wayne falls out with Auntie Yvonne over who's controlling the remote control. this year.

    Before I go, the cut and pasted disclaimer:

    The Secret Melody of the Class Struggle's policy on the mp3s posted

    As well as the rants about politics and footie, I do from time to time post mp3s on the blog. These are for sampling purposes only, and are only up for a limited time. I hope that you like the songs as much as I do, and support the artists featured by buying their albums, DVDs and coffee table books.

    Any bands or artists featured who don't want their music to be associated with bad taste in politics and dodgy football shorts, please email me and I'll take the mp3s down pronto. No hard feelings at my end, and *cough* thank you for the music.

    Sunday, December 14, 2008

    He never stood a chance #2

    If only the poor bastard had had a set of cheekbones. They would have been bigger than Joy Division. It would have been a case of Uwho?

    Brilliant clip of The Sound from The Old Grey Whistle Test. Don't know the year, but the songs off their second album, 'From The Lions Mouth', that dates from 1981.

    I still think that '81 was the best year for music . . .still think the late Adrian Borland is the spitting image of Christopher Hitchens.

    He never stood a chance

    Via the Brittle Heaven website, and conclusive proof that Tony Parsons was always an arsehole:

    “One to Infinity” - Review
    "Tuneless, gormless, gutless. An Anglo middle-class version of Blue Oyster Cult’s rivet-punching guitar solos and protentious visions. The Outsiders are obese midgets who wear bicycle clips on their flairs (sic) because they think it makes them look punky. I like them a lot. It takes real punks to make a record like this."

    by Tony Parsons

    (NME November 26, 1977)

    From reading the early reviews on the website, it looks like The Outsiders were considered the Keane of their day . . . and were hated accordingly.

    Saturday, December 13, 2008


    They should have cast his statue in gold.

    Kenny Dalglish on Jimmy Johnstone:

    "The first time he came to prominence in England was against Leeds [in 1970] when he tore Terry Cooper apart in both games. Celtic won both games and qualified for the [European Cup] final. He had superb ball control, could take people on and because he was so quick no one could get near him. As brilliant as he was as a player, he was equally as good as a person. He was just a fantastic wee fella who is a sad loss to everyone. He is one of those type of people, even if they are not here you still think he is here, although he will be sadly missed. He'll never be forgotten.”"

    Jimmy Johnstone in his own words:

    ""I was always aware I was an entertainer. The crowd provided the expectation, the hair on the back of my neck would go up and I loved the applause. The pitch was my stage. The whistle meant it was showtime. That is why I admired Matthews. The way he took people on and beat them, that was entertainment to me and that is all I wanted to do.

    "Without the fans, you are nothing and what I am most thankful of is that I got a chance to realise my talent at Celtic, because it is a special club, supported by special people."

    Both quotes lifted from here.

    On the Republic Window Sit-In

    Latest post from the World Socialist Party of the United States website has an interesting take on the Republic Window Sit-In.

    Friday, December 12, 2008

    Latest anarcho-situationist spoof?

    What, a new Aufheben on the horizon and there's not even a sniff of an Anarchist Bookfair about? *

    Until I have the issue in my itchy hands and I'm stumbling and mumbling through the first bastard footnote will I then believe that it's for real, and not another one of those clever spoofs of newspapers and magazines that anarcho-situationists like to put out to confuse commuters going about their private daily business.

    Accompanying pic spotted via the Aufheben MySpace page.

    *Not strictly true. Los Angeles is holding its first anarchist bookfair at the weekend. I'd actually pay good money to attend that. I can't help but feel that it'll just be so much more glamorous than the Anarchist Bookfairs that I've attended in London and New York.

    Brangelina sitting in with Posh and Becks as they turn rebellion into money on the AK Press stall. (Maybe selling some of those replica Crass T shirts they were seen sporting a few years back.) The Beverly Hills branch of the Anarchist Federation taking time out from distributing the Resistance newsletter on Rodeo Drive to sell back issues of Organise. Rod Stewart, Vinnie Jones and Robbie Williams selling the St Pauli gear at the back of the hall, whilst regaling the onlookers with tales from past Anarcho-Rehab Footie tournaments.

    And the workshops? Can't forget the workshops (even if 9/10 of attendees at Anarchist Bookfairs always forget the workshops.) Bruce Willis showing a video from this year's Earth First camp in Oregon; Jessica Simpson and Paris Hilton signing people up to LA newest rollergirl team, the Emma Goldmaniacs; and Spielberg giving a report back on the planned TinTin movie. Still going with Breaking Free, but he's now thinking of including TinTin and the Scum on the Director's Cut version of the DVD when it comes out February 2011.

    Realisation of the day

    I'd forgotten how great 'Against Nature' is.

    Bought it at the time. Loved it at the time. Still taking the bus.

    Thursday, December 11, 2008

    BabyBjörn Again

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (76)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 76th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1416 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Booms and slumps - what causes them?
  • Capitalism, war and atrocity
  • Future al Fresco
  • Quote for the week;

    'A rise in the price of labour, as a consequence of accumulation of capital, only means, in fact, that the length and weight of the golden chain the wage-worker has already forged for himself, allow of a relaxation of the tension of it.' Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter 25 (1867)

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Saturday, December 06, 2008

    Traced out

    As an addendum to this earlier post, a recent article on the career of Tracie Young.

    PS - I stumbled across the Smash Hits front cover of Weller and Tracie independently of the linked post. You know I'm good for citing my influences.

    Friday, December 05, 2008

    From the bloke who brought us our favourite football T shirt shop

    Day 5: Paul Weller Month

    Of course, if you're going to try and do 31 days of Weller, you're compelled to mix the radical politics in with the pop.

    To try and do otherwise suggests that you are in fact David Cameron doing a bit of moonlighting and you're continuing to suffer from the self-delusion that a toff tory wanker can like both The Jam and The Smiths. (And, no, you're not allowed to have Eton Rifles on your iPod either, you arse. Stick to your own kind: Vince Hill or that bum-faced bloke from Busted), or it means that the month of Weller is confined solely to his solo career.

    The following article by Mark Perryman about Weller, The Style Council and politics appeared in the October 1985 issue of Marxism Today and, arguably, says as much about where the Euro-Communist Marxism Today was at at that particular time as it does about where Weller was coming from and where he was going both politically and musically. I'm referring specifically to Perryman's disdain for Walls Come Tumbling Down', arguably one of The Style Council's finest moments but apparently a bit too class orientated and in your face for the magazine that was looking for the grand progressive coalition to defeat Thatcher at the ballot box.

    It's no way a hostile review of Weller and his work, but I do think it perhaps misses some of his playful humour that underpinned both The Jam's later work and what The Style Council were doing at the time the article was published. (Though I think it's fair to say that most of us missed a lot of Weller's playfulness and self-parody at the time.)

    Weller's break from political songwriting in his solo work has been well-documented in the usual places, but I think it's also interesting that he also chose to break from humour in his work at the same time. Recent interviews that I've read suggests that he felt he got burnt by Labour Party types involved in Red Wedge, and got gradually more exasperated by the increasing emphasis on his political campaigning side in both print and tv interviews, but I'm guessing that it's when his confidence also took a knock at the tail end of his Style Council career - the unreleased House album, the diminishing chart returns and finally getting dropped by Polydor - which explains why humour or biting satire no longer seems to feature in his persona or lyrics. Seriousness seemed to take a hold. Shame to thik we'll never see him wearing an apron on stage ever again.

    Mark Perryman? He's still about. I understand that he is involved in the Respect Renewal grouping but he's probably best known for the Philosophy Football T shirts venture, as mentioned on the blog a few weeks back. It's a small world but I wouldn't want to install wi-fi on it.

    Paul Weller: Style Counsellor

    by Mark Perryman

    Paul Weller has been a rising star ever since, through sheer endurance, he emerged as the 'head-boy' of punk's Class of 76. Whilst the Sex Pistols split, the Clash effectively retired, and the Damned collapsed into harmless self-parody, the besuited Weller led his threesome, the Jam, on to better times.

    In many ways, the Jam were the finest British band since the Beatles; they were so complete - able to evoke fond memories of the early Who and, at the same time, thrash out the youth-anthems with punk's finest. They were a suburban going- concern, tightly-knit and full of collective energy. Their unform of Italian suits, button-down shirts and narrow ties stood them out from the bondaged crowds of the late 70s but their furious leaps and manic delivery of their early anthem, In the City drove them into the hearts of the thousands who preferred their punk rebellion shorn of its art-school pretensions.

    As the years sped by, punk fell apart as a coherent movement along with its political masterpiece- 'Rock against Racism'. Weller, always the most apolitical of punk's spokespersons, notorious for his infamous 'I'd vote Tory' quote, marked punk's downfall with the ironically titled album, All Mod Cons. On it he surpassed the staccato sloganising of his more forthright peers and produced a subtle line in politics. He weaved his positions around finely-crafted storylines, reaching his peak on Down in the Tube Station at Midnight, which spoke of inner city deprivation, the isolation and fear of suburban youth and the aura of white male violence which is the breeding-ground of the fascist Right.

    Going Underground went straight into the singles chart at No 1; the Jam had finally arrived but Weller was already showing his dissatisfaction with his new-found status. As yet another mod revival stalked the nation, he appeared on Top of the Pops in a kitchen apron. What mod would be fool enough to latch on to this post-parka fashion craze?

    The albums still appeared at a fairly furious rate, Setting Sons being a concept album, loosely based around an English Civil War. Sound Affects featured quotes from Shelley, while the final studio album, The Gift marked a decisive shift towards a brassy soul sound. Weller was clearly unhappy with the contradiction of being a soul afficionado trapped in a strictly traditional rock threepiece, more fundamentally his lyrical themes were oddly counterposed - on the one hand, a fierce national pride and on the other, a longing for world unity, epitomised by the track Trans-global Unity Express.

    He found his way out by breaking up The Jam, biding his time, then reappearing with the Style Council. The new band were rapidly established beginning with a spate of hit singles, and then with a solid roster of live work.

    The Style Council put a heavy emphasis on visual appearance and packaging. The fashions have varied from city slickers to Euro-chic. But the main feature of the group is the very close relationship between Weller and his new compatriot, Mick Talbot. Unlike the days of the Jam when Weller was always streaks ahead of his sidekicks, Talbot is very much Weller's equal and in some of the videos, notably Solid Bond, appears to play Arthur Daley to Weller's Terry McCann. Mick Talbot is very much the big-city wide-boy, right down to chewing matches and sticking a betting ticket in the brim of his hat.

    On the a Paris EP, the highlight of pop's Summer of 83, the Council made it clear they were ready for some new horizons. A funk bass-line accompanied a superb love- song, whilst D C Lee's live vocals on Paris Match suggested what was to become a major new direction, jazz.

    The EP marked an important new stage in Weller's career; he was happy with the freedom to experiment; the spirit was still angry but more controlled and directed - he was embracing a more optimistic mood which reflected his new-found confidence in dealing with a wider range of lyrical concerns. Nevertheless, notwithstanding the heavily continental turn in presentation, Paul Weller was still quite obviously the fresh-faced Englishman abroad, dogged by his fierce national pride.

    The band's debut album, Cafe Bleu, released in only 1984, highlighted the continental mood, heavy in its emphasis on instrumental and almost fickle in its rapid turnover of musical styles. The album sold well but served to confuse the critics. Weller was clearly trying to transcend the limitations of a rock group based solely around him. He brought in a wide range of guest musicians, and on stage, the Style Council was more like an orchestra than anything Weller had been associated with before. The result was, frankly, clumsy, but the motivation was painfully sincere - a real attempt at a collective piece of work. The problem is, and remains, that whatever Weller involves himself in, he is so obviously the driving force. By no means a musical giant, and hardly a sex-symbol, he remains a potent performer with the self- confessed ability 'to be direct without necessarily being obvious'.

    The combination doesn't always add up. The recent hit Walls Come Tumbling Down, opened with a predictable diatribe topped off with the cliche-ridden 'You don't have to take this crap. . .' But on his album, Weller shows he has the proven ability to combine tales of homelessness, drug abuse, police violence, community decline and YTS into a worthwhile collection of songs with something new to say. In many ways, it is as the 'Collector', as he appears on the inner sleeve of the album, that Weller is best summed up - a collector of tales of woe backed up with an up-beat of disparate pedigree.

    The collective feel of the band itself only goes so far; Talbot is clearly treated as an equal but the drummer is faintly patronised as a young upstart, a reminder of Weller's past. As for Weller's co-vocalist, D C Lee, she hardly earns a mention in the very male world of the latter-day modernist. Paul Weller is often seen as a miserable soul; a more succinct observation would be of a very visible presence, devoid of sexual intrigue. Weller and Talbot are the boys about town; women are treated as accessories and props, certainly not to be incorporated into the Style Council project. This may be somewhat harsh but a quick comparison with the massive leap forward made by the man who toppled Weller from the top of the music press's popularity polls, Morrissey of the Smiths, is enough to convince. Weller has stepped ahead of his puritanical imitators, such as the Redskins - full of macho- white soul-thrash - but his songs still mainly present women as objects, not as people, and his stage show is strictly for the boys.

    Of late, Paul Weller's politics have been taking a more substantive form. President of the International Youth Year, a regular at benefits for the miners, he has also donated thousands of pounds to Youth CND. His criticism of pop's temporary infatuation with the wonders of charity merited a second look because, unlike the sneering commentators of pop's very own left-field, he actually took the time (and the stick) to play on Band Aid, notwithstanding his suspicions. A more tentative relationship has sprung up with the Labour Party particularly through the Militant-inspired 'Youth Trade Union Rights campaign'. Neil Kinnock clearly has ambitions for the youth vote that far outstrip the conspiratorial world of the far left and his break with political pomposity has brought him a New Musical Express front cover and a headlining tour by Billy Bragg for the 'Jobs and Industry' campaign. Most of Weller's pop allies remain committed on a single-issue basis which is certainly worthy but full of unhappy complexities. Witness the ideological somersaults performed when Wham! turned out for the miners. Club Tropicana a la Scargill (of Yorkshire Miner Pin-up Fame) anyone?

    Weller, on his recent tour, was boldly proclaiming: 'The Labour Party is the only alternative to the Tories', before diving headlong into a criticism of rhetoric, careerism, corruption and fence-sitting. What Weller is clearly after is an exciting and innovative brand of youth politics, developed by youth autonomously. This is what sussed-out pop has always been infatuated with. The Labour Party, however, remains wedded to a narrow leadership-power role based on educating its youthful supporters, not learning from them. Weller fits uneasily into such a fractured relationship; a vitriolic campaigner, full of suspicion and commitment.

    Style, especially in the politically- charged lyrical world of Paul Weller, is far more than a cosmetic surface. He understands its complexities and is equally at home in Smash Hits or Sanity. His style emerges from a firm,, but due to his pop-world exclusion, fairly simplistic political base. Musically, he is still after a seal of distinction, neatly echoed by the band's own logo 'Keeps on Burning'. Paul Weller is not forming any new ground in the sense of Jerry Dammers or New Order; he's not representing a new development in a worthwhile tradition such as Working Week's efforts with jazz. But in the words of his alter-ego, 'The Cappucino Kid', he does represent 'a growing up with a 70s feeling for life, love and ambition'. For those politically constructed beyond the heady hippy days of 1968, Paul Weller remains someone to be reckoned with.

    Thursday, December 04, 2008

    The magazine in the corner shop

    Day 4: Paul Weller Month

    Day 4 of Paul Weller Month, and I'm inadvertently giving off the vibe that I'm heavily slanted towards Weller's blue period but it's the t'internet that makes me do it. I can only work with the googled materials at hand.

    Shame on the now defunct Smash Hits if it's really case, but I can't seem to find an issue of Smash Hits featuring The Jam on the front cover. Biggest band in Britain at their height and glory, and google image search will only throw up innumerable grainy images of the same Department S front cover over and over again.

    Surely Bruce Foxton wasn't considered that uneasy on the eye for Neil Tennant and 11 year olds from Telford back in the day? I'll swear blind that I saw Flock of Seagulls on a Smash Hits front cover once . . .and afterwards swore because I wasn't blind after bearing witness to Mike Score's haircut.

    As it is, I'm confined to a Tracie & Paul Weller cover that dates from March 1983 and a Style Council cover from May 1985. I'd love to know if there are other Weller Smashed covers out there. (Anoraks in Parkas can contact me via the comments box.)

    And before anyone scoffs about Weller and the Smash Hits connection - thinking that such pop magazines would have been beneath him back in his earnest Jam days - I understand that Tracie first got the gig with The Jam - singing on their final single, Beat Surrender - after answering an advert he'd placed in the very same Smash Hits.

    With regards to that March 1983 Weller and Tracie front cover, the context is that The Style Council's debut single, 'Speak Like A Child', had just entered the top ten and Tracie was also riding high in the charts with her solo single, 'The House That Jack Built', that had been released on Weller's own record label, Respond Records.

    Believe or not, I can remember this issue of Smash Hits, actually buying it at the time. Not because Weller was on the front cover. ( I'd yet to succumb to his charms and I honestly can't remember reading his interview.) No, I bought it because of the free Culture Club/Wham double sided poster that's advertised at the bottom of the front cover.

    I was still really into Culture Club at the time - the woeful Karma Chameleon had yet to reach my ears - and they were the first band I can remember really, really getting into. However, confession time, (admitting to liking early Culture Club doesn't qualify as a confession, it qualifies as good taste, btw) I do seem to remember that I played closer attention to the Wham side of the poster. Maybe it was my burgeoning political conscience that had been kick started into life with the social commentary of their second top ten single, 'Wham Rap!' More likely, then as now, I was smitten by Dee C Lee, and before she got the Style Council gig, she started out in Wham and is featured in the poster alongside George Michael, Shirley and David Baddiel.

    The Smash Hits front cover from 1985 featuring The Style Council? What can I tell you. It's inserted into the post as a bit of padding, a bit of texture so that I can allow myself to include the sub-Proustian moment with Dee C Lee in the Wham poster back in '83 as part of the Paul Weller Month. By '85 I wouldn't have been buying Smash Hits because I was either a snot, skint or more likely I'd just discovered that Record Mirror featured pop stuff, obscure stuff and more charts than you shake a biro at. My inner geek had seized control of my pop sensibility and by this stage it was as much about poring over the charts as listening to them.

    With regards to that front cover from '85, I will say as an aside that it's nice to see that Loose Ends were featured in that issue. 'Hanging On A String' is one of the lost soul classics from the mid-eighties and, if and when, I get my fileden account out of deep freeze I'll post the track on the blog.

    Memo to self: remember, this is supposed to be Paul Weller Month. The exploration of self-monomania can be the subject of every other month on the blog . . . as per the norm.

    Blue State (2007)

    Wednesday, December 03, 2008

    The Paris Death Match

    Day 3: Paul Weller Month

    A late night quote of the day from the sleeve notes of The Style Council's 1985 number one album, Our Favourite Shop:

    "Don't be taken in when they paternally pat you on the shoulder and say that there's no inequality worth speaking of and no more reason to fight because if you believe them they will be completely in charge in their marble homes and granite banks from which they rob the people of the world under the pretence of bringing them culture. Watch out, for as soon as it pleases them they'll send you out to protect their gold in wars whose weapons, rapidly developed by servile scientists, will become more and more deadly until they can with a flick of the finger tear a million of you to pieces." Jean-Paul Marat (1743-1793)

    'We don't need a pocketful of pretty green.'

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (75)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 75th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1418 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Work as it is, work as it could be
  • Five benefits of not having money
  • The Keynesian myth
  • Coming Events:

    Did you enjoy your Christmas?

    Public Meeting followed by Social.Saturday 10 January, 6pm, at SPGB Head Office, 52 Clapham High St, London SW4 (nearest tube: Clapham North).

    Quote for the week;

    'The few who understand the system, will either be so interested in its profits, or so dependent on its favors that there will be no opposition from that class, while on the other hand, the great body of people, mentally incapable of comprehending the tremendous advantages...will bear its burden without complaint, and perhaps without suspecting that the system is inimical to their best interests.' Rothschild Brothers of London communique to associates in New York June 25, 1863.

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    'I said "On me head, son", not "In my bastard face".

    I have a cruel sense of humour that I don't like to talk about . . . but I'm more than happy to blog about it.

    Christ, how many times did someone score a direct hit against Iain Dowie during the course of his early career?

    Hat tip to some devilish types over at Urban 75.

    Tuesday, December 02, 2008

    When They're Young

    Day 2: Paul Weller Month

    Status Quo's Rick Parfitt and Paul Weller both attended Sheerwater Secondary School in Woking, Surrey.

    Neither, at the time of writing, have signed up to Friends Reunited.

    Monday, December 01, 2008

    Headstart to happiness

    I've decided to designate December 'Paul Weller Month' on the blog.

    No rhyme or reason. I've already blogged about the fact that he turned 50 earlier this year.

    I just happened to have the good fortune yesterday to catch the excellent 2006 BBC documentary, 'Paul Weller: Into Tomorrow' and, naturally enough, that propelled me into a Paul Weller music marathon immediately after it was over and I thought - whilst listening to All Mod Cons for the 1000th time - that as a new month was right round the corner, I'd use that as an excuse to post at least one Paul Weller related posted each and every day for the month of December.

    As with the best laid plans, there are no plans as to what that actually means. Maybe post an mp3 here . . . upload an old picture there . . . throw an obscure factoid into the mix, etc etc. In the best traditions of the blog, I'll just make this shit up as I go along and the reader can groan over the consequences.

    I hereby promise that I can make no promises over quality, chronology or accuracy. Thought I should throw that in, just in case any Weller die-hards' happen to stumble across the blog on their travels. I've noticed that they can be the intense types.

    First up is a YouTube clip of The Style Council performing 'Headstart To Happiness' on some unnamed Saturday morning children's show dating from 1984.

    I'd never seen this clip before yesterday, and still can't work why they'd be performing a track from Cafe Bleu on a kids show. (OK, now I understand, they performed this and the single 'My Ever Changing Moods' on the same show).

    HTH definitely ranks in my Top 5 of Paul Weller songs penned during his Style Council period. My only dilemma is that I don't know if I prefer this version or the demoed version from 'Introducing The Style Council'. Both brilliant in their own way, and as good as anything he did during his time in The Jam. If prodded I'll opt for this version. If only because the divine Dee C Lee is featured . . . and I'm shallow enough to post a YouTube clip of Girls Aloud performing 'See The Day' as part of the PaulWellerMonth.

    It's only two degrees of separation when you think about it.

    Longdean's most famous son . . .

    . . . gets a write-up in the Football Guardian.

    And, yep, the blog still gets periodic hits from people in search of Longdean's most famous daughter.

    Alan Barlow - Funeral and Wake (2005)

    "Funeral and Wake of Alan Barlow (1928-2004), anarchist and trade unionist. Alan, an anarchist all his working life, was arrested, charged and imprisoned in 1969 for his role in a First of May Group attack on the Francoist Banco de Bilbao in London."

    You can view the 36 minute film here.