Happy Birthday

I don’t normally do this kind of thing, but since it’s her 67th birthday today, and since I adore the *ahem* choreography on this (especially the way that Bobby Gillespie the keyboard player gives up all pretence of miming to join in), I’ll make an exception.

Oh and apologies for the exposure to not only Edmonds at the start of this clip, but also The Hairy Cornflake, one of whom is a convicted sex-pest and the other…aww, you can do your own joke here.

Bring on Suzi.

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

Back in the mid-1980s, my parents bought a video player. Yeh, I know, posh, right?

This prompted me to make regular visits to my corner shop, where an extremely limited selection of videos to rent had been installed.

Because the selection was so limited, I would often end up renting the same film more than once. Usually, this was deliberate, but occasionally it would be accidental.

Such was the case with David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet”; rented it once, watched it, then shortly afterwards rented it again thinking I’d not seen it.

I’m going to put that down to Dennis Hopper’s utterly terrifying portrayal of Frank Booth, which I had probably blocked from my mind after the first viewing.

“Blue Velvet” introduced me to a song that I’d somehow managed to have never heard before. No, not the titular song, but tonight’s choice, which was mimed to by Dean Stockwell (he of “Quantum Leap” fame) in one of the oddest scenes from an already odd, surreal (it’s David Lynch, after all), film:

And here’s the original:

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Roy Orbison – In Dreams

More soon.

Claps, Clicks & Whistles #11

Back in November, I wrote about my sadly passed friend Tony, and as I came to write this post, I found myself thinking of him again.

See, Tony was one of the most quietly encouraging blokes I ever met, and at some point I must have told him I played guitar. I know this to be true, because I have a much valued photo of him pretending to play my (now also sadly passed) acoustic guitar.

At some point, when there was just the two of us, I must have played it for him, and sung too. And I remember that, because one evening at his house, he sprung on me my first ever gig: gathering a couple of friends and his parents round and insisting that I perform for them the song that I had played for him.

It was the first time I had ever played and sung unaccompanied (by unaccompanied, I mean that I wasn’t just playing along to a record) in front of more than one person and, truth be told, it probably wasn’t the finest solo performance, but it did give me a degree of confidence that hadn’t been there previously.

A year or so later, I was at college, in a band, and DJ’ing. And if I look back now, the latter of those two things would probably never have happened had it not been for Tony’s gentle “Come on mate, I know you can do this” that night as he thrust my guitar into my shaking, clammy hands.

I’m pretty sure that my old mate Richie was one of the unlucky few to witness that performance, and next weekend, on his birthday, Richie and I are hooking up for the first time in a couple of years, to go and see the band responsible for the song I sang in Tony’s front room that night.

I say “band”, but in reality, there’s only one person left from those days back in the late 1980s, but it’s the important one, the main man, the one and only David Gedge.

Next Saturday, we’re off to see The Wedding Present at The Roundhouse perform the whole of their legendary “George Best” album as part of the 30th anniversary of the original release.

The first gig I went to after I left home was The Wedding Present at Cardiff University’s Great Hall. It was a night that confirmed all I had hoped about life was attainable: that I could have a blindingly great night watching one of my favourite bands in the world, and not have to worry about waking my parents up when I went home. Which is pretty much all I’ve ever wanted out of life.

Since then, they’re probably the band that I’ve seen most often (yes, even more than I’ve seen The Quo). I have, quite literally, lost count of how many times it is. Once at Uni I managed to blag, via the student rag, a press ticket to see them at the Newport Centre , promising to write a review of the gig which never materialised.

And they never fail to deliver live: about ten, maybe fifteen, years ago, my friends Hel and Llyr saw them at the Reading Festival (I think, without wishing to sound too modest, because they knew how much I bang on about them, although they will probably say it was because there was nobody else on that they’d wanted to watch instead). Both regularly tell me how awesome they were that day.

I first heard The Wedding Present because of Tony, but it was Richie who, after my brother had piqued my interest by incessantly playing The Jesus & Mary Chain (who I initially hated, but, man, he wore me down), properly got me into indie music. I’ll talk more about that another time, but needless to say, next Saturday is going to be an emotional night for me and Richie; our friendship was forged over a mutual admiration of certain records, and cemented by our shared worldview and political leanings.

And, yeh, I know this sounds a bit naff, but Tony will be with us too.

So anyway, here’s the song I played for Tony et al that night. The opening track from “George Best”, the template for so many Gedge songs since, a story of a failing relationship told in the way that only Gedge can do. With some added, nonchalant, “Me? No, I’m not bothered, honestly” whistling for good measure.

For my money, Gedge is one of the great unsung heroes of British lyricists. Listen to his storytelling skills and try telling me that the likes of, for example, Arctic Monkey’s Alex Turner, doesn’t owe him a huge debt:

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The Wedding Present – Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft

I’ve been listening to the “George Best” album as I wrote this. The next seven days can’t go quick enough, and I suspect next Saturday won’t last long enough.

More soon.

The Election Section V2.7

Right, let me make it clear; it’s less than a week to go until the General Election, so there’s probably going to be a few of these posts over the next few days. So, if you’re bored with reading my thoughts on what has happened in the run-up to June 8th, you’re more than welcome to come back next week when a miserable normality will have been restored.

Still here? Good.

There was something that I wanted to mention on the back of Wednesday’s “Leader’s Debate”, and that’s this: the not entirely unexpected bleatings from the right about BBC bias.

Much of this has been prompted by the studio audience’s reaction to some of the things (Conservative) Amber Rudd said, compared to things said by her political opponents on the night.

Nowhere is this better summed up than this screenshot someone posted on Twitter; a snatch of one of Rudd’s answers (about the absence of any costings in the Tory manifesto), complete with subtitles:

Ruddy Brill

You don’t need me to tell you why that raised the biggest laugh of the night.

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The Wedding Present – Don’t Laugh

The response, predictably caused outrage amongst the right-wingers. Here’s Nicholas Soames on Twitter:

Soames 2The first thing to say about that is that Soames really hasn’t got the hang of hashtags, has he? Make it snappy, Nicholas, that’s the way to get it trending.

And then, something rare in this Election campaign, rarer even than Theresa May being seen engaging with the public: Boris Johnson was let out of his cage.

Old Shagger Bojo claimed that the audience was “the most left-wing audience I’ve ever seen”. Boris, using words we all understand there, for a change. Not a whiff of mug-wumps or wiff-waff.

See, the thing is, this is a standard trick both of the main parties churn out whenever things don’t really go their way on a BBC programme. The BBC, you see, has to be impartial – as do all of the broadcasters when the purdah rules of an election apply (which, by the way, is why you won’t find any BBC radio station playing Captian Ska’s “Liar Liar”: it hasn’t been banned, but if they are going to play it, then they’d have to be balanced and play a song extolling the virtues of the Conservatives. And can you think of one of those? Me neither.)

I, though, have no such obligation, so here’s the song in question:

Where was I? Ah yes, the biased BBC.

I addressed this on Twitter a good while ago. See, since it’s publicly funded by way of the TV Licence, the BBC is supposed to be impartial all the time, so when prominent voices from both sides of the political spectrum howl in indignation about the BBC being biased (and the left do it too: see their upset about perceived bias of Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg, or Nick Robinson), then it seems to me that’s evidence of the BBC doing it’s job: having a go at all sides, not siding with anyone.

If you watched any of the Andrew Neill interviews, you can’t honestly say that he gave anyone a particularly easy ride, now can you? He took down each and every leader who stumbled into his cross-hairs (or should that be his cross hair…?)

Truth be told, the audience at the Leaders’ Debate weren’t biased or loaded in the left wing’s favour at all: they were representative of the country’s current political make-up. The largest share of voters present were Conservatives and Labour, whilst the smaller parties had a proportionally lower number of supporters in the audience, which was also weighted to have a 50:50 split of Remain and Leave voters.

See, the audience had been assembled not by BBC staff but by Comres, a polling company. And here’s what their founder, Andrew Hawkins had to say:

“If you have a panel of people – one from the governing party, one from what’s regarded as a right-wing party [that’s UKIP, by the way] and five from broadly left-wing parties – and you give those speakers equal airtime, it means you’re giving five slots of airtime to the left-wing parties for every two slots to the not-so-left-wing parties…Therefore it’s inevitable that the cheering is going to be skewed in one direction.”

So, Boris, Soamesy: if the audience seemed anti-Tory, it’s for the fairly good reason that  a lot of people just don’t like the Tories very much.

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Electric Light Orchestra – Don’t Bring Me Down

See, here’s your marker. Remember when this happened?

Nigel Farage there, taking the unprecedented step of criticising the audience for being too left wing in the middle of a debate prior to one of the many elections he failed to win a seat in.

Which leads me nicely on to one of the other big stories of the week: that Nigel Farage is a “person of interest” to the FBI in the investigation into links between US President Donald Trump and Russia, and with his association with WikiLeaks founder and Hide & Seek Champion (2012 – Present), Julian Assange.

Really, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, could it? The come-uppance of the oily, frog-faced hypocrite (no, really, I like him!) is long overdue. Maybe it’s about time.

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The Lemonheads – It’s About Time

(Just to be clear: I don’t like him.)

(I wish I could think of a better way to describe Farage than Tory MP Anna Soubry managed – credit where credit’s due – in 2013 when she said: “I always think he looks like somebody has put their finger up his bottom and he really rather likes it.”)

Of course, Farage denies any wrong-doing. In a recent interview with Die Zeit, Farage, having been seen leaving the Ecuadorian embassy where Assange has lived for years, was asked about his relationship with the hiding alleged sexual predator. Farage declared that he had “never received a penny from Russia”, and said he met Assange for “journalistic reasons”.

Which is interesting, since that wasn’t his first answer. Door-stopped by BuzzFeed as he left the embassy, Farage said he “couldn’t remember” what he had been doing in the building.

I’m of the age where, every now and then, I forget why I’ve gone into a room. But I think that even I, were I to be exiting an Embassy, would be able to remember why I was in there.

Asked specifically if he had gone to the Knightsbridge building to meet with Assange, Farage said: “I never discuss where I go or who I see.”

Course you don’t, Nigel, course you don’t.

I’ll just leave this here:

Farage

When pressed on his past meetings with Russian officials, Farage initially denied having had any. Oh, apart from that time he met some Russians (the Russian ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, to be precise), in 2013. That, he (finally) admitted.

If that and his meeting with Assange was all above board, why not just say so when asked? S’all rather odd, isn’t it?

*coughs* selective memory *coughs*

Fear of litigation leaves me saying no more. Except, I’m not saying Farage is a conniving liar, but pretty soon we’ll have conclusive proof one way or another.

Oh and this: we all laugh at Trump, because, well, he’s a fucking idiot. We all rub our hands together with glee at the prospect of the FBI uncovering some links between Trump and Russia. And now, it seems, there’s the possibility of Farage being involved too.

That’s Farage, formally of UKIP, who, as I’ve mentioned before, have had many of their policies adopted by the Conservatives. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusion there.

More soon.