Today’s nonsense backing vocals come courtesy of, to my mind, one of the most unique and most under-rated bands ever: Stereolab.
This track first appeared back in 1994 as one of the extra tracks on the Ping Pong EP, and later resurfaced on Oscillons from the Anti-Sun, a 2005 three-CD, one-DVD box set.
Coining a phrase that adequately describes Stereolab’s sound is no mean feat: I’ve seen terms such as post-rock, avant-pop, Marxist pop (one which the band objected to) used. I’m not great at identifying a genre or generating a pigeonhole into which a band can be shoved, but if I have to I’d plump for saying they’re sound is Euro-Space-Pop, and even then I’m only including the term Euro because more often than not, their lyrics were at least partly in French.
As is the case here. But don’t let that put you off; if you’ve never heard Stereolab before, here’s three good reasons why you should give this a listen:
Because it’s chuffing well ace
Because you’re life will be greatly enriched by having Stereolab in it
Because I will be asking questions as you leave the auditorium to see what you’ve learned today.
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.
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):
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…”
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….
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.
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.
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.
Friday night is upon us once more, which means it’s time for the next five songs in the Friday Night Music Club playlist.
Given the horrific events in Paris last Friday, I wish I could say that I had planned to include the first two tunes as a show of solidarity with our Gallic brothers, but alas, it’s a coincidence. If I was that smart, they would have been in last week’s selection. Still, cracking tunes though.
And to finish, two songs which are nowhere near as well known as they should be. First, an utterly bonkers song featuring an hypnotic chorus with the words “vanilla strawberry knickbocker glory ” repeated over and over, followed by a verse which talks about seeing the ghost of Lena Zavaroni, a child star and winner of 1970s talent show Opportunity Knocks. Her story is an utterly tragic mood-killer, so we shan’t dwell on it any further here.
And finally, this song, which from its opening rip-off of (sorry, I mean homage to) “Be My Baby” through to it’s just wonderful title is a joy from start to finish (and yes I appreciate that’s technically from just before the start to the start, but that doesn’t scan as well…)