The Election Section V2.8

Sometimes, you have to think not so much about what is said, than what is not said.

Last week, when Donald Trump, President of the country responsible for the production of the second highest amount of greenhouses gases in the world, announced he would be pulling out of the Paris Agreement – joining Nicaragua and Syria as the only attendees of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change not to sign it – the remaining signatories released statements condemning or expressing disappointment at the decision.

But one leader was notable by her absence from joining the chorus of disapproval. You guessed it: that strong and stable, “bloody difficult woman” Theresa May.

Of course, that’s not the only Trump-related subject she’s been notably quiet about, for, sadly, another opportunity to show some strength and leadership by speaking out against him very came very swiftly afterwards. For as the world queued up to not only show support for the UK in the wake of the third terrorist attack on our shores this year, but also to denounce Trump’s baseless criticism of London Mayor Sadiq Khan, where was our Theresa?

Probably off thinking really hard about the Brexit negotiations again, I suppose.

Say Something Front

James – Say Something

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I find it incredible to think that the Conservatives have run their election campaign focusing on the strength, stability and leadership qualities, hoping that by repeating sound-bite of the year “strong and stable” enough we’d eventually believe it. A bit like Kenny Craig, if you like.

“Kenny who?” I hear you ask? Kenny Craig. You know Kenny Craig, you just probably don’t know that’s his name.

This is Kenny Craig:

In the last few days, the issue of national security and policing levels has, unsurprisingly given result events, moved centre stage in the election campaign. After the Manchester bombing, a friend of mine, a police officer in London, posted this on Facebook (since I’m not sure whether or not he’s supposed to make political comments, I’ve edited it to remove his name):

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It was a sentiment echoed on Sunday evening by Jeremy Corbyn:

“You cannot protect the public on the cheap. The police and security services must get the resources they need, not 20,000 police cuts. Theresa May was warned by the Police Federation but she accused them of ‘crying wolf’”

That is a reference to a speech that May gave back in in 2015, when she was still the Home Secretary. I’ll hand over to James O’Brien of LBC to explain further:

May, of course, denies there have been cuts: “Since 2015…we have not cut the police but protected their budget….we have increased the number of armed police officers, improved co-operation between the police and specialist military units, and provided funding for an additional 1,900 officers at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.”

Former senior Metropolitan police officer Peter Kirkham begs to differ. In an interview with Sky News at the weekend, he said: “The police service is in crisis as a result of the cuts…We hear talk of extra police officers on the street. They’re not extra, they’re officers that have had their rare leave days cancelled, they’ve had their 12-hour shifts that are now done routinely extended into 16 hours.”

So that protected budget, those extra officers, are actually officers who are being forced to work longer shifts, and have less days off. They must be knackered. Which makes their eight-minute reaction time on Saturday night all the more amazing.

“Look into my eyes, look into my eyes, don’t look around the eyes, look into my eyes…”

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Time for a tune, I think:

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The Music – Strength in Numbers

But, other than bullshitting us about the cuts to our police services which she has overseen since she became Home Secretary and then Prime Minister, she has a plan to combat the rise in extremist terrorism, right? Sure she does. Here you go:

“While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is – to be frank – far too much tolerance of extremism in our country…We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements to regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorism planning.”

Now, I’m not saying that’s not important, that she doesn’t have the semblance of a point there. But let’s counter-balance that with the report into the foreign funding and support of jihadi groups commissioned by David Cameron when he was Prime Minister. The report was to be shown to Cameron and May, then Home Secretary. The report is thought to focus on Saudi Arabia, which has repeatedly been highlighted by European leaders as a funding source for Islamist jihadis.

Well, that’s brilliant, isn’t it? We just have a look at that report, see what it says about the funding, take action against those funding the terrorists, and we’re on the way to sorting this out, right?

Oh, except there’s just one thing. The Home Office have announced that the report won’t necessarily be published, because the contents may be “very sensitive”.

What could be sensitive about that?

On Monday, Lib Dem leader shed a little light on this for us when he wrote an article saying that the report should be published and that it: “…should include exposing and rooting out the source funding of terror, even it means difficult and embarrassing conversations with those such as Saudi Arabia that the government claims are our allies.”

Huh? “Embarassing conversations?” “Our allies?” What can he mean?

Oh wait a minute….

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Theresa May meets King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud of Saudi Arabi

That was taken when May popped over to Saudi Arabia (in a rare moment when she wasn’t thinking about the Brexit negotiations, of course) to discuss our lucrative arms deals to the Saudis. At around that time, the Saudis were being roundly criticised by all and sundry as reports emerged of their bombs hitting schools, hospitals and wedding parties as it intervenes in the war in Yemen. And who sold them the bombs that killed the innocent civilians in those schools, hospitals and wedding parties? Yup, the good old UK. Fair makes your heart swell with pride, doesn’t it?

I mean, even America has stopped the supply of precision guided munitions to Saudi Arabia on the back of those reports. But us? Nah, we’ll carry on regardless, thanks.

Good As Gold Front

The Beautiful South – Good as Gold (Stupid as Mud)

So May happily sides with a nation that possibly gives financial and logistical support to ISIS, suppresses a report into just that, whilst telling us that we need to tackle extremism and denying that she has been responsible for the cuts in police numbers in the UK which undoubtedly leave us exposed.

And she refuses to condemn the words and actions of Donald J. Trump.

That’s two truly special relationships we have, right there.

Oscillons From The Anti-Sun Front

Stereolab – With Friends Like These

So, before you pop off to vote tomorrow, you’ll have lots of questions to ask yourself. Make sure that one of them is this: who do you think really has the safety of the country at heart? Is it the party that has pledged to recruit an additional 10,000 police officers (even if they can’t remember how much it’s going to cost), or the party that has axed the police numbers over the past seven years whilst cutting arms deals with countries who are, in all probability, providing resources to those very people who seek to destroy our way of life?

All being well, I’ll be back later tonight with an overview of what the main parties are offering. I’m sure it will be a real laugh a minute.

More soon.

I Am The Mouth

I was watching “Broadchurch” the other week, and there was a scene, a flashback to a party, that caused my ears to prick up when I heard the song that was being played.

It was “Laid” by James, which, given the lyrics of that song, and the fact that the plot of the TV show is the investigation into a serious sexual assault, struck me as being a tad on the inappropriate side.

It occurred to me that “Laid” has become very much the go-to record for DJ’s wishing to play a song by James, but it hasn’t always been thus.

Prior to the success of “Laid”, you could bet your bottom dollar that “Sit Down” would be the preferred choice. Some of you may not be old enough to remember (who am I kidding?), but when “Sit Down” got played out, back when it made its way to No. 2 in the UK charts back in 1991, people – and by people, I mean students – would literally sit down on the dance floor. Which isn’t quite the reaction a DJ is hoping for, if I’m honest.

This used to happen every time I played “Sit Down” when I was DJ’ing at Uni; at first I wondered if it was some kind of protest against me playing it. Nope. Turns out that they thought they were being cool.

Well, I couldn’t be having that, not on my watch. So I brought this annoying trend to an abrupt halt, by playing it, and then putting up a message on the screens around the room, proclaiming “If anyone sits on the dance floor to this, you have my permission to kick them.”

The other way to avoid such misguided attempts to look cool, of course, was to simply play a different record by James; the “Gold Mother” album, whilst marking the band’s first steps away from their more folky original sound, was massive at the time, and offered a couple of alternative tunes which guaranteed the dancefloor would be filled by people of a vertical persuasion: the wonderful “Come Home” (the Flood mix, of course) and today’s choice:

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James – How Was It For You?

Which, now I think about it, isn’t any more of an appropriate song for them to have used on that scene in “Broadchurch” either.

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

So the other thing I’ve been doing this weekend is catch up on all of the BBC’s Glastonbury footage. I wasn’t there this year, and having seen how muddy it was on the Wednesday morning when everyone arrived, I’m kinda relieved about that.

I’ve been there when the weather was foul, and the ground underfoot fouler. But never when I arrived; the bad weather generally happened at some point when I was on site.

So before I go any further: actual 2016 Glasto-goers, I salute you.

Had I been there, then the first band I would have watched was James, opening the Other Stage, although I believe they had to be rescheduled to later in the day due to the bad weather.

This seems to be a new thing they do at Glastonbury: make the first act on the Other Stage an established indie band. Last year it was The Charlatans, this year James…my money’s on Inspiral Carpets for next year.

I’ve watched what footage there is of James on the BBC, and there is much to love about them. And they played my favourite James song ever, so I doubtless would have forgotten about the mud and just danced and sang to it in exactly the same way as I did when I watched here in my flat:

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James – Sometimes

Putting aside the fact that this is the song which, more than any other in their back catalogue, led to the “pretentious” tag I’ve talked about previously here, this is one  song that has special memories for me.

In the early 1990s my friends Daints, Louise, Paul, Helen and I used to frequent an Indie club in Cardiff called Subways, which was underneath a bar named GW’s. There was a pillar in the middle of the dancefloor that I used to swing round doing hilarious (ahem) Morrissey impressions. Cos I’m THAT funny.

One night/early morning as we emerged blinking from the underground bunker Subways was located in, it was, you’ll be unsurprised to learn given this was Wales, pissing it down.

As Daints and I stood in the doorway, surveying the wetness and shivering in our little indie t-shirts and cardigans, Daints uttered these words:

“There’s a storm outside”

Now I’m not a fan of musicals. But this was straight out of a (bad) musical script, for we both looked at each other, launched ourselves out of the doorway, like Butch and Sundance, into the rain, and into a rendition of “Sometimes” that, every time I hear that record, I’m immediately reminded of.

On further visits, we tried to recover that walk home magic, but as it wasn’t raining I don’t think we ever managed to get through the whole song again.

But that night was perfect. There’s very little that beats a drunken sing-song on the way home with one of your best mates, and any time I have to go out in a storm now it’s “Sometimes” that is my soundtrack.

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Welcome back. Time for Part Two of our questions/answers/lost/directions/yes-it-is-quite-a-broad-theme-this-isn’t-it? theme. And to get us going, there’s just one question that needs answering:

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218. Tindersticks – Can We Start Again?

Yet another band I’m surprised I haven’t mentioned already on these pages. This is from their fourth album “Simple Pleasures”, which saw a change in direction from those that preceded it. Almost entirely gone were the earlier albums’ string laden lounge jazzy feel (I really haven’t done them justice there), replaced by a more snappy, soulful sound. “Simple Pleasures” may not be the Nottingham band’s best work, wonderful as it is, but it’s certainly their most accessible, a good stepping on point for the uninitiated. Plus it has an artfully shot nude woman on the cover. So y’know…something for everyone.

And if anyone is going to give us permission to start again, then who better than:

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219. Teenage Fanclub – Start Again

On the bus on my way to work on Tuesday, as there were no discarded copies of the Metro for me to flick through, I had a quick browse of Twitter, where I spied this tweet:

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Serendipity. Tickets purchased, I’ll be off to see The Fannies in Islington come September. I am already very excited. But not enough to start doing that annoying “149 sleeps” countdown thing people do when trying to appear cute.

Moving swiftly on, to this week’s entry into the “Bloody hell I’d forgotten all about them” hall of fame, this from 1992:

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220. Mega City Four – Stop

Named after an area in cult comic “2000AD“‘s iconic “Judge Dredd” strip, and led by a chap called Wiz, who sadly passed away in 2006, my path crossed with theirs in 1989/1990.

My mate Ian was a huge fan, and he was delighted when we managed to book them to play the Student Union venue “Shafts” on his birthday. However, the night didn’t pass without incident.

In the weeks beforehand, we’d had a lot of problems with student-hating Paul Calf types coming onto the campus, and into the Union building and causing trouble: picking fights, smashing the place up, smearing shit all over the gents’ toilet walls. Lovely stuff. Something had to give, and at a meeting of the Student Union Executive, it was decided that anyone trying to gain access to the Student Union building without a Union Card would have to pay a £10.00 entrance fee. I argued against this, because that meant that any locals wanting to come to the gigs we were putting on would have to pay twice: once to get into the building and then again to get into the venue. I was out-voted though and wouldn’t you just know it, the first night these draconian measures were implemented was the night of the Mega City Four gig.

The band were, understandably, not happy, but kind of got round the problem, with my knowledge (I can’t call it with my permission, but I certainly didn’t do anything to prevent their plan being out into action after they suggested it to me), by adding anyone who had to pay to get into the building on to the guest list for the gig. I think they would have refunded the difference to them too, if they could have done.

After the gig, as the roadies and sound crew were disassembling all the gear, I wandered over to have a chat with Wiz, to thank him for coming and putting on a great gig, and apologised for the problem with the door. His response was: “Don’t worry about it mate. It’s not your fault. It’s those faceless bastards that make the decisions, it’s theirs”. I decided against telling him I’d been in the room when the decision was taken and had been powerless to stop it.

There’s a line in “Stop” which always reminds me of that moment:

“They say actions speak louder than words
Whoever they may be
Probably the one’s who’ll break your back
To bolster up their insecurity”

Now, I’m not saying that conversation inspired Wiz to write “Stop” but I’m also not saying that it didn’t…

I fear we are about to get trapped in some sort of stop/start vortex:

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221. The Jam – Start!

I’m not going to dwell on this tune, as JC has recently finished discussing all of The Jam’s singles over at The (new) Vinyl Villain, so I’d suggest you pop over there is you want to learn more (like you don’t already read his blog anyway).

Instead, we’ll swirl around in the stop/start vortex a little more, with some outright, shameless pop:

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222. Erasure – Stop!

 They don’t get the credit they deserve, Erasure. Lead warbler Andy Bell is from my home town of Peterborough, so from their first UK hit in 1986 (which coincided with me starting 6th Form), I’ve found it quite hard to ignore them, and there are very few people of my age from who find it hard not to feel a little proud of him. Let’s face it, Peterborough is not exactly a town blessed with famous pop stars; the only other one I’m aware of is Aston Merrygold of JLS, whoever they are.

And someone else…it’ll come to me…no, no, don’t tell me….

That can’t be it, can it? I decided to do some research, and found this: Famous People from Peterborough You can imagine my surprise when I found there were 226 names on the list. You can imagine my additional surprise when I read that number one on the list: “David Michael Krueger, best known by his birth name, Peter Woodcock, was a Canadian serial killer and child rapist“. Turns out, whoever compiled this list hadn’t realised that as well as a Peterborough in the UK, there’s also one in Ontario, Canada, and New Hampshire, USA.

Which makes 226 look like quite a low number, now I think of it.

Maxim from The Prodigy!! That’s who the other one was!! Which gives me an excuse to play this:

But I digress. Erasure were (and apparently still are – who knew?) a fabulous pop band, and “Stop!” is one of my favourites by them, containing as it does, about half way through, that cheeky little keyboard motif lifted from Donna Summer’s “Love’s Unkind”. You know the bit I mean:

And think yourselves lucky I didn’t post a link to former EastEnder Sophie Lawrence’s version.

Whilst we’re on perfect pop moments, let’s have a bit of this:

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223. The Supremes – Stop! In the Name of Love

Back in the days before Miss Ross had elbowed herself to the top of the bill, but also before their photographer learned to give his camera lens a bit of a wipe before commencing the shoot, judging by the quality of the picture they used for the sleeve.

And now for a quick summary:

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224. Biffy Clyro – Questions And Answers

This is one of their earlier singles, from 2003 to be precise, and before they became the unexpected subject of a cover version by 2010 X-Factor winner Matt Cardle.

Does anyone have any clue quite how that was allowed to happen, by the way?

I’m reminded of a Stewart Lee (yes, him again) routine about Jim Davison pinching Jimmy Carr’s jokes, which, in the middle of a much longer piece about Joe Pasquale, you can find here:

 You take my point, I think.

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225. Queens of The Stone Age – Go With the Flow [Radio Edit]

Several years ago, I got…erm…acquainted with a young lady (who, gentleman that I am, shall remain nameless) on a works night out. We discussed our favourite records; mine included a few she didn’t know, hers included a few which made me question her intelligence. She came back to mine and…well, you know…some stuff happened. (See fellow music nerds – it can happen!!).

Before she made her way home, she asked me – yes, you read that right, she asked me – if I’d mind making her a mix CD of some of the songs I had been waxing lyrical about. Her taxi had barely pulled away when I started on it.

I mention this as a cautionary tale, for I compiled said CD, cramming it full of some of my favourites, without pausing to consider what kind of message my selections were sending out. Among them were: Kirsty MacColl’s “They Don’t Know”, The Go-Go’s “Our Lips Are Sealed”, the above Queens of the Stone Age track, and perhaps most ill-advisedly, a mash-up of Spanky Wilson’s version of “Sunshine of Your Love” and N*E*R*D’s “She Wants To Move” that I was particularly fond of at the time, and which had wittily been named “She Wants a Spank”.

Never heard from her again.

I was later told by a mutual friend that my selection or songs had given her the impression that I was some sort of secretive S&M gimp. I would have thought the sex-swing was a bigger clue.

(Just to be clear, that last sentence was a joke)

Ho hum. Lesson learned.

A few years ago, when I wasn’t working, as so often happens with people in the same situation, I found my sleep pattern all screwed up, sleeping all day and awake all night. Generally, my night times were filled watching the late night movies on Film 4, and it was in one such film that I first encountered our next tune. I have no idea what the film was called; it was a British film, set out in the countryside, had very little dialogue, and was quite an unsettling piece. Does anyone know what it’s called? (I know it has also been used in “The Place Beyond the Pines”, but it’s not that).

The record in question was this Bacharach/Hilliard composition:

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226. The Cryin’ Shames – Please Stay

Back to something a tad poppier now, and of course when I talked about Erasure earlier, I deliberately omitted to mention the other half of the pop duo, Vince Clarke. Which is lucky, because here he is again:

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227. Yazoo – Don’t Go

Bands Vince Clarke has been in:

  • Depeche Mode
  • Yazoo
  • The Assembly
  • Erasure

That’s not a bad strike rate is it?

Depeche Mode had their first hit in 1981, as anyone watching the run of old Top of The Pops currently being shown on BBC4 will attest – so that’s 35 years of pop, right there. Impressive.

Which is more than can be said for the next lot. Regular listeners to 6Music of an afternoon will recognise this from a shout-out on Radcliffe & Maconie’s show:

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228. The Blackout Crew – Put a Donk on It

Please remember that if you must put a donk on something, you should seek the bill payer’s permission first.

Back in 1990, there was no such thing as a donk. We had to make do with donk-free records. Records like this:

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229. James – Come Home (Flood Mix)

At the time, James were quite the merchandise marketeers, releasing a stream of clothing – t-shirts, hooded tops, etc etc – all bearing their insignia and the name of the current single. The one for Come Home was based on the sleeve of the single above, meaning it had the word Come on the front, and the word Home on the back. A mate of mine bought one, but rarely wore it, so sick was he of us all telling him “Oi mate, you’ve got come on your shirt”. Juvenile, but funny.

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230. The Mighty Wah! – Come Back

That, my friends, is one of the most glorious records from the early 80s, and isn’t even the best record that Pete Wylie made, either in one of his many Wah-guises (Wah!; The Mighty Wah!; Wah! Heat) or solo or even when he was knocking around with Ian McCulloch, Pete Burns and Julian Cope in the late 1970s. One day I’ll get round to playing you the greatest. You probably already know what it is.

And that’s about it for this week. Just one more to wrap things up; this seemed appropriate given the amount of songs I could have posted, the amount that I decided against posting, and the fact that every time I thought I’d exhausted the topic another one popped into my head. Needless to say, I could have gone on for another week, at the very least. Maybe I’ll come back to it sometime (see what I did there?).

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231. The Animals – We Gotta Get Out of This Place

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Morning all.

Today’s choice is by a group who were massive in the early 1990s, and who have, on occasion, been accused of being a little on the pompous side. When you write lyrics like “Who put brown owl eyes on a butterflies wings?” (from their 1992 single “Born of Frustration”) you can kind of understand why.

No such issues with this morning’s record though (although “We could cross the race divide, bridge a gap that wasn’t really there” comes close), which is an unabashed feel-good love song that will have you tap-dancing through the puddles.

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James – Just Like Fred Astaire

Lovely that, innit?

More soon.