Never Trust Kelvin MacKenzie

One of the down-sides of my being a predominantly weekend-based blogger, is that when stuff of significance happens mid-week I’m a bit rubbish at reacting.

By now, every one in the UK knows what we’ve always known: that the deaths of 96 football fans at Hillsborough in 1989, 27 years ago, were “unlawful”.

I’m not going to comment on that. You don’t need me to. You can just watch this:

What I am going to comment on is Kelvin MacKenzie’s response to the jury’s decision.

In case you don’t know who Kelvin MacKenzie is, let me enlighten you. At the time of Hillsborough, he was the editor of The Sun newspaper, which, again in case you are unaware, is owned by the same company which owns The Times, The Sunday Times, and, until recently when it was found to have illegally hacked phones and was  forced to close, the News of the World. Yes, that’s right, News International, owned by one Rupert Murdoch.

Here’s the front pages of The Times and The Sun on the day after the verdict was announced:

The day after

Notice anything missing from them?

Back in 1989, in the immediate aftermath of Hillsborough, MacKenzie signed off stories that claimed some Liverpool fans urinated on police and picked the pockets of the dead. They were printed under the headline banner: “The Truth”.

Only they weren’t the truth. Those claims were found to be entirely without foundation and the product of a smear campaign designed to shift the blame from authority onto victims. A smear campaign orchestrated by the police. And claims which MacKenzie did nothing to investigate or even check, preferring to just accept – and print – what the police were telling them. The earliest example we have of the cosy relationship between News International and the police, right there.

But now, post jury decision, he tries to position himself as a victim, that he was hood-winked into printing those lies.

Poor old Kelvin. How hard his life must be, knowing he has lost precisely none of his relatives due to the incompetence of the police officers he actively sought to defend at the time.

There’s only one song to play:


Billy Bragg – Never Buy the Sun

Well, actually, there’s two. I was saving this for a “Same Title, Different Song” post, but this is way more important:


The Housemartins – Freedom

More soon.

All Other Music is Temporarily Suspended #8

Okay, I know I said I was through with the Prince posts, but indulge me for a moment with just one more.

Many years ago, when we first met, long before I moved to London and we shared a flat, Hel and I got to talking about Prince. Her knowledge of the great man far outweighed mine; I had to profess that I pretty much knew his singles from When Doves Cry onwards but that, bar “Purple Rain” and “Sign O’The Times”, I was fairly ignorant as to the quality of his albums.

Shortly afterwards, a C90 cassette (yes, that’s how long ago it was) landed with me, full of Prince tracks, pointing me in the right direction, a guide which allowed me to go off and explore for myself.

The track in this post was included, and Hel was most insistent that if I listened to nothing else, I had to hear this one.

Fast forward a good few years. When the news broke of his sudden death last week, this was the first song that sprang to my mind, as my Twitter feed will attest: the title seemed to comment perfectly on his death, and the timing of it. If ever there was an appropriate month for him to leave us, it was April.

And then, after weeks of perfectly pleasant, slightly warmer weather than usual for this time of year (but let’s not get into the whole global warming thing right now), it seemed that the weather in certain parts of the UK thought it should be paying tribute to the great man too.

Suddenly, there were reports of incoming blizzards and snow storms, almost as if the weather knew what I was thinking, knew the record I had in mind, knew that Prince had died.

Which is ridiculous, of course.

But it would be remiss of me not to post this:


Prince & The Revolution – Sometimes It Snows In April

More soon.

1985 and all that

My brother picked me up from the train station nearest my folks last weekend.  I managed to fold myself into his car (a Lotus of some sort, not conducive to men of my girth and rotundity trying to enter it) and was greeted by the sounds of The Wedding Present’s “George Best” album playing on the in-car sound system.

“I have to thank you”, he said, after we’d completed our ‘hello’s, “because you’ve talked about this album so much on your blog, that I realised I’d never actually owned a copy and so I went and got it, and it’s fantastic.”

You have no idea how happy it makes me to hear my older brother, from whom I learned so much in terms of musical taste, be it Deep Purple, AC/DC, The Go-Go’s, Rick Springfield or The Jesus & Mary Chain – a mixed bag, it’d be fair to say – say these words. Frankly, the fact that I’ve made one person go out and buy an album that I love, by a band that I love, fills me with pride. For it to be my older brother, then, well….then my work here is done.

I’m not stopping yet though. Not until somebody admits to buying a Quo album anyway.

So I’ll be here a good while longer yet.

We had stopped on the way home, realising our parents’ house would be bereft of Jack Daniels (both of our tipple of choice), landing on a Co-Op where you had to ask the girl behind the counter for such an outrageously stealable drink.

I approached the counter. “Bottle of Jack Daniels, please” I ventured.

“Large or small?” the girl asked.

“You’ve noticed there’s two of us, right?” my brother pointed out.

“Large it is then” said the girl.

We spent last Saturday night going through family photos, recounting stories and picking out ones that we wanted copies of. Whilst drinking, obviously.

As the night progressed, my Mum went to bed, but my Dad, brother and I continued chatting and drinking into the wee small hours, as we often do. We all manage to get together rarely, once a year at or around Christmas if we’re lucky, but both me and my brother being home for either of my parents’ birthdays is a real rarity. The songs which reflected our youth (Cash, Kristofferson, Donegan, etc.) played in the background. We paused to sing-a-long to “Me and Bobby McGee”, as is traditional in our house.

The subject of this here blog came up. We’d mentioned it to my Dad at Christmas, but he’d never managed to work out how to access it. I explained it to him again, and again explained the main thrust behind the blog: that I would catalogue every record I ever bought in order, but I would also try to highlight records which others consider to be guilty pleasures, but which I don’t believe should be classed as such.

My brother pointed out that I have been spectacularly rubbish at fulfilling the first part of that two-pronged remit recently; I retorted that it’s really tricky to write about stuff you bought 30 years ago, haven’t listened to since, and have to track down a postable version of. He said I should just get on with it, get the shit records out of the way, because he knew we were very close to the point where I started liking good records. Which was a bit rich, given his musical influence on me, but there you go.

Which leads me to today’s post, which is a double whammy: the next record that I bought in 1985 and one that should not be classed as guilty pleasure.

Nope, it’s no good, I can’t say that last bit and keep a straight face.

You remember a while ago, I said such was my Quo obsession in my early to mid-teens that I bought Jimmy Nail’s “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” purely on the strength that I’d heard that Rick Parfitt played guitar on it? Well, I didn’t stop there. The same applies here, except there was no room for misunderstanding. As they appeared on the “Wogan” (RIP) show performing it, I knew that I had to own it, no matter how terrible a record it was.

I helped this to the giddy heights of Number 54 in the UK charts. No need to thank me.


Francis Rossi & Bernard Frost – Modern Romance (I Want To Fall In Love Again)

By way of an explanation (but not a justification) Francis Rossi (OBE, no less) is the lead singer of The Quo, and Bernard Frost for a time, at the turn of the 1970s into the 1980s, was his song-writing partner. They made an album together in the band’s “inactive period” in late 1984 – 1985; an album which never saw the light of day, the reasons for which will become perfectly apparent if you listen to that single.

To balance things out (slightly), around the same time, I also bought this:


a-ha – Take On Me

This was bought on the back of a trip to Norway, not because of any particular affinity to leather wrist bracelets, and of course seeing the ground-breaking video, which I may as well post here in a desperate attempt to draw attention away from the first of the two songs I’ve posted here today:

More soon. Better soon. No really, I promise.