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Music for a royal wedding

April 27th, 2011 10 comments

The alert reader might have noticed that one William von Saxe-Coburg und Gotha is going to marry his blushing bride Catherine on Friday. Perhaps young William is better known by his family”s stage name Windsor, the name of one of the joints his family owns, chosen in order to distance the family from its German provenance during World War I.

This blog likes a good wedding, and in the spirit of the nuptial celebration would like to offer Wilhelm and his Frau a few sincerely selected party tunes for the reception, to be played when the wedding band takes a break from doing Come On Eileen. We mean it, man.

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The Redskins ““ Bring It Down (This Inane Thing) (1985).mp3
“You”ve never had it so good; the favourite phrase of those who”ve always had it better. You never had so much, is the cry of those who”ve always had much more, much more than you and I. Burn brother burn, fight together, this altogether”s an insane thing, insane thing. Bring it down.”

The Men They Couldn’t Hang – The Colours (1988).mp3
“I was woken from my misery by the words of Thomas Paine. On my barren soil they fell like the sweetest drops of rain. Red is the colour of the new republic, blue is the colour of the sea, white is the colour of my innocence, not surrender to your mercy.”

Stone Roses – Elizabeth My Dear (1989).mp3
“Tear me apart and boil my bones, I”ll not rest till she’s lost her throne. My aim is true my message is clear: It”s curtains for you, Elizabeth my dear.”

The Housemartins – Flag Day (single version, 1985).mp3
“So you thought you”d like to change the world, decided to stage a jumble sale for the poor, for the poor. It”s a waste of time if you know what they mean, try shaking a box in front of the queen “cause her purse is fat and bursting at the seams. It”s a waste of time if you know what they mean.”

Manic Street Preachers ““ Repeat (1992).mp3
“Repeat after me: Fuck queen and country. Repeat after me: Royal Khymer Rouge. Repeat after me: Imitation demi-gods!”

Moțrhead РGod Save The Queen (2000).mp3
“God save the queen, she ain”t no human being. There is no future in England’s dreaming” etc.

Billy Bragg – Take Down The Union Jack (2002).mp3
“Is this the 19th century that I”m watching on TV? The dear old Queen of England handing out those MBEs. Member of the British Empire; that doesn”t sound too good to me”¦ Take down the Union Jack; it clashes with the sunset.”

The Smiths ““ The Queen Is Dead (1986).mp3
“Farewell to this land’s cheerless marshes hemmed in like a boar between arches. Her very Lowness with a head in a sling, I’m truly sorry, but it sounds like a wonderful thing.”

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McCain's double agent

August 26th, 2008 4 comments

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Pop and politics have a long tradition of mixing, but the relationship is not always a happy one. John Lennon”s hymn to hypocrisy stands as a totem for every song with a political or social message that would have been better served by banal lyrics about the whims of love found and lost. Of course, there are songs that did manage to capture the Zeitgeist: Buffalo Springfield”s For What It”s Worth springs to mind, or, more recently, Bright Eyes” When The President Talks To God. On the other hand, musicians dabbling in politics can be embarrassing, even in the hands of the veterans. Even the poet laureate of black resistance, Gil Scott-Heron, exposed a lapse of wit when he referred to Ronald Reagan as “Ray-Gun” (do you see what he did there?).

Valid questions may be asked about the efforts by Bob Geldof and Bono to heal the world and make it a better place for you and for me and the entire human race (there are people dying!). It can be said that they conscientise people who otherwise might be indifferent to African famines or international debt, which is commendable. But what is accomplished by these self-important bozos, with their trademark wild hair and blue shades, in the corridors of power? Since when do kings beckon the counsel of their court jesters? The truth is, George W Bush enjoys being felated by Geldof in Time magazine, and he imagines that posing with Bono gives him some sort of street cred.

In general, it is preferable that pop stars just shut up about politics, unless their gig is political or they know how to steer clear from sanctimony. Which would have been good advice for the ghastly Madonna, whom I might suspect of being a double agent for John McCain if it wasn”t so apparent that she is just another narcissistic moron. At a recent live concert she treated her audience to a PowerPoint presentation depicting John McCain alongside Robert Mugabe and, but of course, Adolf Hitler. And another sequence ranked Barack Obama alongside the Mahatma Gandhi, Al Gore and (please excuse me while puke) John Lennon.

The mad prune thought she was doing Obama a favour? Did she phone Obama first? “Yo, Barack me old mucker, Madge “ere. Listen, mate, I want to do something for you, innit? What can I do, pip pip old chum what?” Chances are that Barack would not have asked to be compared to Al Gore ““ who in 2000 failed to beat the pair that does warrant depiction alongside Mugabe and even Hitler ““ even less so to Lennon. And he would have pointed out that McCain is many things, but no Hitler.

Madonna certainly didn”t help her favoured candidate, her egomaniacal delusions notwithstanding. American voters might take their political advice from fat, sweaty bigots on the radio, but they are not going to listen to a woman who once published a book presenting herself with what I hope was fake ejaculate on her face. You don”t see Ron Jeremy campaigning for McCain, under the slogan McCain: A change is gonna cum, because that just is not helpful. Indeed, McCain has more in common with the Ron Jeremys of the world than he has with the Führer. Not in that I suppose McCain to be a prodigious sex machine who has been batting consistently above his league, but because McCain is a nasty misogynist who has publicly and loudly called his wife a “cunt” (a much worse insult in America than it is in Britain). “At least I don”t plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt,” that charming man told his wife. It is here, not in hysterical references to Hitler, that Madonna might have fruitfully attacked McCain as an objectionable women-hater who”d probably call your mother “a cunt” too.

And then there is American Dream, that overextended Obama jingle by former Eurythmic Dave Stewart, a man whose proximity makes the virtue of relevance cower whimperingly in a corner. The song is awesomely bad (it might be OK if used to advertise fabric softener though), the video even more so. All that”s missing is Bono glaring with determined earnestness from behind his blue shades. Instead we have the usually likeable Forrest Whitacker over-emoting, smugmeister Denzel Washington smirking, Whoopie Goldberg gurning, and assorted pop stars and other self-congratulatory celebrities of varying legacies posing and leaping about in joy of the Second Coming, until the whole brew of cliché boils over with footage of Martin Luther King Jr making a speech (and guess which one). The deplorable irony resides in the video”s intrinsic racism. MLK because, as the eagle-eyed reader may have spotted, Obama is black. Don”t they know that Obama”s reference point is not really MLK, but JFK “60, or perhaps RFK “68?

If celebs want to express themselves politically, then at least their efforts should be helpful. Unlike Madonna”s slideshow and Stewart”s song, it should be intelligent and strategic, or at least witty or thoughtful. Preaching to the choir (insert your own Mama Don”t Preach joke here) can be a useful mobilising strategy. But Barack Obama needs no help there. Where Obama does need help is in swinging undecided voters his way. McCain”s policies and personality offer many points for attack; comparing him to Hitler serves only to insult and alienate those who are still thinking about voting for him.

And with all that in mind, here are a few politically-themed songs. Most bizarre of them is the effort by Linda Polley who claims that the spirit of John Lennon is channeling right-wing messages from the grave through her. Toby Keith”s reactionary kick-ass song is actually not too bad as far as the music goes, but the lyrics are, of course, gobsmackingly horrible ““ I was surprised to hear that our man claims to be a Democrat (please, no slideshows at his gigs!). JFK of course did not make records ““ this is from a record of his early presidential speeches set to music.

In the left corner:
Bright Eyes – When The President Talks To God (live).mp3
John F. Kennedy – The Ask Not Waltz.mp3
The Redskins – Keep On Keepin’ On.mp3*

In the right corner:
John Lennon (via Linda Polley) – Vote Republican.mp3
Toby Keith – Courtesy of The Red, White, And Blue.mp3 .

And for Taylor Parkes’ fantastic collection of Right-Wing Rock (whence I borrowed the Linda Polley thing), go HERE
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The Redskins: An insane thing

April 13th, 2008 5 comments

Having just discovered the excellent The Songs That People Sing blog, I stumbled upon a post from February which featured the Redskins’ remarkable cover Billy Bragg’s Levi Stubbs’ Tears. I don’t know how I knew that version — I thought it might have been a b-side to a single, but have found no evidence for it — but I really wanted it. Sadly, the link was dead.

But thus reminded of the Redskins, I dug out a few Redskins songs. My memories of the mid-80s agit pop/punk/soul band flying the red flag were fond, but had become vague with the passage of time. Somehow they were buried among so many other ’80s treasures. But my goodness, Bring It Down (This Insane Thing) is a fantastic song. I’ve played it on loop for the past couple of things (when my current Lemonheads mood allows, anyway). And the vaguely Motown-ish Keep On Keepin’ On; ah, what memories! Down with Thatcher! Down with apartheid! To the barricades, comrades, to the barricades!

And for good measure, I’ve found a live version of the Redskins’ cover of Billy Bragg’s harrowing song about domestic abuse. I think the Redskins’ take is superior to Bragg’s, a statement that is not made carelessly, though the reference to Bragg as “Neil Kinnock’s publicity officer” tickles me. The German sentence in the introduction means: “This is a song for all the men who think it is clever to beat up their women.”

For all you need to know about the Redskins, check out the comprehensive unofficial website, whence I stole the cover of the Melody Maker.

So, here for your dancable socialist soul-punk needs, The Redskins. They really meant it, maaan:

The Redskins – Bring It Down (This Insane Thing).mp3
The Redskins – Keep On Keepin’ On.mp3
The Redskins – Let’s Make It Work.mp3
The Redskins – Levi Stubbs’ Tears (live in Munich).mp3

And if you came here looking for info on the Washington sporting club, welcome. I might not offer much by way of gridiron, but have a cup of coffee, look at around, and enjoy the music.

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