A Bientot

There will now be a break in transmissions for a fortnight while we head south to France for our summer holiday, the Atlantic coast for a week (near Royan, south of La Rochelle) and then a week in southern Brittany near Quimper. Static caravans this year, an upgrade from tents. I’m looking forward to the wine, the cheese, the sun and the heat, the sea, the sunsets, the slower pace of life. I’ll also be less well connected to events back here so I’ll miss Boris Johnson’s ascension to the Tory throne and installation as Prime Minister. Since 2016 I keep thinking we’ve hit the bottom of the barrel but someone or something always comes along to keep scraping lower- Trump’s outright racism recently a new low. I’m sure Johnson will provide us some further depths to tunnel. According to reports Jarvis Cocker finished his set at Blue Dot last weekend with his 2006 song Running The World, a song that keeps giving. Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, David Cameron, everyone in the European Research Group, the Conservative Party generally, the Murdoch press and anyone I’ve forgotten- this one is for you…

Running The World

Ever since The Cure played Glastonbury I’ve been immersing myself in their back catalogue and this song has been a real earworm for me over the last few weeks. In 1990 The Cure released an album of remixes and extended mixes called Mixed Up, a double album and one that stands up very well still today. Lullaby was a big hit in 1989, fuelled by a claustrophobic Tim Pope video. The extended mix (done by Robert Smith and producer Chris Parry) fades in gently, a funky guitar part and a shuffly rhythm guiding us. Once the bassline hits the whole thing shimmies along, Smith’s tale of dread and spidermen, taken to an outdoor disco, dancing under Mediterranean skies.

Lullaby (Extended Mix) 

Anyway, that’s yer lot for the moment, hope the weather holds up while we’re away, play nicely, look after yourselves and each other and I’ll see you in August.

Whither Goest Thou America?

I appreciate that here in the UK we don’t have too much room to shout at the moment, being led as we are by the most incompetent government since the end of the Second World War who are attempting to put into law, by most reckonings, the most disastrous political decision any major western country has taken in the same period. But, as the question at the top of the post asks, ‘whither goest thou, America?’ When Jack Kerouac asked the question in On The Road it was in a different context but still, the question stands.

In the last two weeks alone Trump has-
* legitimised a brutal dictator who uses torture and murder against his own people, orders assassinations of those in his government who he falls out with and who has used forced starvation to bring the population to heel.
* professed admiration for this dictator, praising him as a a man whose people listen when he speaks and said he wants the same form the American people
* removed the USA from the United Nations Committee on Human Rights because it criticises Israeli policies against the Palestinian people
* continued to support a policy that has led to toddlers being imprisoned in cages on the USA’s southern border

This is the normalisation of anti-democratic practices by the US government. We know from history where this leads. It’s never too late to shout about it. One of the things David Byrne talked about between songs on Monday night was about how at his shows in the US they had a table in the foyer to register people to vote there and then, and about how important it is to get people to engage, to vote in local elections and national ones. It beats ‘Hi, how are you?’ (response usually a big cheer) and ‘this is a new one’ (response, a trip to the bar or the toilet). Unless Trump abolishes elections in the next 2 years (as his new friend in North Korea might advise), he is removable and defeatable. Same over here. We’ve got to rid of these people. The chorus of this 2006 Jarvis Cocker song is truer now than it was when he wrote it…

Running The World

‘ I mean, man, whither goest thou? Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?” “Whither goest thou?’

In 1997 an album called Joy Kicks Darkness was released, a spoken word tribute to Kerouac by artists including Michael Stipe, Lydia Lunch, Patti Smith, Thurston Moore, John Cale and Juliana Hatfield and also featuring surviving Beats like Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. This track is Joe Strummer and Jack Kerouac together.

MacDougal Street Blues

Miami

This remix of Baxter Dury’s Miami is going to be released on Record Shop Day. RSD has become redundant, some limited edition releases to be fought over once the eBay scalpers have pillaged the racks plus a load of unasked for reissues. Yes, there are one or two things I’d like. No, I won’t be queuing up to get into a record shop.

Miami is from Baxter’s album that came out last year, that I meant to listen to and didn’t get around to. This expansive, electronic remix with gorgeous sweeping strings, a disco beat and Baxter’s seedy, in character vocal scattered about, is a joy, and comes to us from the combined talents of Parrot and Jarvis Cocker.

Play The Five Tones

One of the many very specific offshoots of the acid house revolution of 1988 was bleep ‘n’ bass, an almost exclusively northern sub-scene. The first bleep ‘n’ bass record came from Bradford (Unique 3’s The Theme) but after that Sheffield and Warp Records became the home of a style of dance music pretty much defined by its name- pocket calculate bleeps with deep, heavy, sub bass over a drum machine. A vocal sample to complete. Minimal, intense, British techno. Between 1989 and 1991 a load of great bleep ‘n’ bass records were made, best heard at full volume in pitch darkness with a strobe flashing away (but home listening will do too).

Sweet Exorcist were from Sheffield, a duo of Richard Kirk (of Cabaret Voltaire) and DJ Parrot (Richard Barratt). Their first record, in 1990, was Testone- made using some test tones and a vocal sample from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. It is absolutely essential. Only LFO came close to this.

Testone

The video was directed by a certain Jarvis Cocker, pre-fame, and is a classic of its kind too.

Well Did You Hear There’s A Natural Order

Here’s another protest song. Jarvis wrote this while watching the Live 8 spectacle on TV almost a decade ago. He starts out with some globalisation issues…

Now the working classes are obsolete
They are surplus to society’s needs
So let ’em all kill each other
And get it made overseas

But he also saves some special bile for the people we all know at the local level…

Oh, feed your children on crayfish and lobster tails
Find a school near the top of the league
In theory, I respect your right to exist
I will kill you if you move in next to me

Ah, it stinks, it sucks, it’s anthropologically unjust

Extra marks for getting the word ‘anthropological’ in there.
Then he aims for business and the political parties that prioritise it over people…

The free market is perfectly natural
Do you think that I’m some kind of dummy?
It’s the ideal way to order the world
Fuck the morals, does it make any money?

And Jarvis’ conclusion in the chorus is truer now than it was back in 2008. All together now…

Running The World

On

Until a couple of days ago I never knew there was a video for Apex Twin’s 1993 song On (from the e.p. On).

I caught it by accident on TV, on a music channel I flicked onto while waiting for a lift. On is a delicious track- it could be serene ambient were it not for the buzz and distortion of the bass and the harshish drums. Yet it still manages to be beautiful. I was then doubly surprised that the video was directed by Jarvis Cocker, making brilliant use of water dripping, a beach, a deep sea divers outfit, a cardboard cut out of Richard D James and stop-motion photography. The only shame with the video is it’s only three minutes forty five seconds long. Luckily the e.p. version is seven minutes long.

On

Is This The Way The Future Is Supposed To Feel?

Or just fifteen thousand people standing in a field?

I found this footage online, ten minutes of videotape from the massive Sunrise Energy rave in 1989. It’s a fascinating piece of social history, so many people dancing in an aircraft hanger and outdoors in broad daylight. The stars are the crowd- black and white, male and female, all of them dancing- all of them- a mass of colourful clothing and dry ice. At the end a couple of cars are on fire- no-one really seems to notice.

‘You want to call your Mother and say ”Mother, I can never come home because I seem to have left an important part of my brain somewhere, somewhere in a field in Hampshire.”

Away from the utopian dream of a new rave based way of life the two men largely responsible for Sunrise Energy were Tony Colston-Hayter and Paul Staines. Colston-Hayter was a young Tory entrepreneur and named in the papers as ‘Acid’s Mr Big’. He claims he was an anarcho-capitalist. The Shoom crowd say he was regarded as a Hooray Henry, a ‘loud dickhead and a laughing stock’. Last year he was jailed for five and a half years for masterminding the theft of £1.3 million from Barclays by hacking into bank accounts. Paul Staines is the unpleasant right-wing blogger Guido Fawkes. Nice one, top one, sorted.