Isolation Mix Five

Five weeks into these isolation mixes already- doesn’t time fly when you’re socially restricted? There is a higher BPM count on this mix but also some folky darkness and post punk dread from Nick Drake and A Certain Ratio respectively, some dance grooves from Ellis Island Sound and Scott Fraser, the ultra Balearic vibes of Richard Norris’ Time And Space Machine remix of A Mountain Of One, some 1990 class from World Unite when Creation Records went all E’d up and dancey, Andrew Weatherall remixing Moby and Wayne Coyne in epic style, half of The Clash with Frank Ocean and Diplo plus the West Los Angeles Childrens’ Choir (brought to you in association with Converse) from 2014 and a very long Seahawks remix of Tim Burgess, some headspinning ambient noise set against Harry Dean Stanton’s monologue from Paris, Texas. ‘Yep, I know that feeling’.

Tracklist:

Nick Drake: ‘Cello Song

A Certain Ratio: Winter Hill

Ellis Island Sound: Intro, Airborne, Travelling (Scott Fraser Remix)

A Mountain Of One: Ride (The Time And Space Machine Remix)

World Unite: World Unite

Moby Ft. Wayne Coyne: Another Perfect Life (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

Frank Ocean, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Diplo: Hero

Tim Burgess: A Gain// Stoned Alone Again Or (Seahawks Remix) v Harry Dean Stanton, Nastassja Kinski and Ry Cooder: I Knew These Two People, Paris Texas soundtrack

Bedrock City

Here’s Joe Strummer, sometime in NYC, in a Bedrock City t- shirt. Joe had a thing about cities. His solo career has songs named after at least three (imaginary) cities. To Joe, cities seem to have existed as a state of mind or a condition. With The Clash he spent time in Clash City and Innoculated City.

Trash City came out in 1988, Joe backed by The Latino Rockabilly War. The song was one of five done for the soundtrack to Permanent Record and came out as a single too. Trash City is fantastic, one of those chugging railway guitar riffs and there’s some terrific Joe imagery in the lyrics, American junk culture over a clattering rhythm. It sounds like it could have been written and recorded in five minutes and none the worse for it.

Trash City

Forbidden City was on the first album Joe did with The Mescaleros, 1999’s Rock Art And The X Ray Style, acoustic guitars and bongos, a song for the people of China and a ‘dream of freedom’.

Forbidden City

Bummed Out City is from his second album with The Mescaleros, 2001’s Global A Go Go. Bummed Out City is where Joe resides following a bust up with his wife. ‘It was me/drove off the off- ramp/ of the sweetheart highway’ he sings at the star and then in chorus follows up with ‘we’re in bummed out city/ that signs says/ I plead your mercy and your pity’. A gentle apology over acoustic guitars and a fiddle.

Bummed Out City

Bedrock City was the home town of the Flintstones, ‘the modern Stone Age family’. My ‘research’ shows that there were two Bedrock City theme parks, one in Arizona (which opened in 1972) and one in South Dakota (which opened in 1966). It looks like both are now closed. Whether Joe’s t- shirt came from a trip to one of the two theme parks I don’t know but it paints a nice image in my mind, Joe with leather jacket, quiff and family trawling round some Yabba Dabba Doo rides.

In 1986 Joe’s ex- Clash mate Mick Jones put out Badrock City, an electro/ dub version of their rocking C’mon Every Beatbox single, seven minutes of cut and paste samples, sirens, drum machines and bassline. The single led BAD’s second album, No. 10, Upping Street, a record which Joe produced and on which he co- wrote some of the songs with Mick.

Badrock City

BAD also provided a song for the soundtrack to the 1994 Flintstones movie, a song called Rock With The Caveman. It pens with roaring dinosaur sounds and Fred shouting ‘Wilma, I’m home!!!’ before heading into rock ‘n’ roll pastiche territory, covering a 1956 Tommy Steele song (actually the first British rock ‘n’ roll record to enter the UK top 20, a fact which apparently has pissed Cliff Richard off over the years). You’ll probably only need to listen to this once.

Rock With The Caveman

Is This The Road That We Take To The End?

Brexit is happening suddenly but quietly. It’s largely disappeared as a news story, forced off the front pages/ top of the hour reports by Johnson’s victory in December which has taken all the debate and opposition out of it and a flurry of other stories- the royal family and paedophilia, the royal family and racism, the royal family and the entirely sensible decision by two of its members to get out of it, the Coronavirus, Trump’s impeachment and Iran to name but a few. Johnson promised to get it done. What he’s done is get everyone to stop talking about it. In two days time Britain will leave the E.U. Admittedly we won’t see any real changes until the end of the year. Freedom of movement will remain while the UK is in the transition period, we will still be bound by E.U. laws, and the European Court of Justice, worker’s rights and trade will remain the same but without any representation in the European Parliament. As the press looks elsewhere the government will supposedly get on with the job of negotiating the terms of the real departure and the UK’s future relationship with Europe, trade deals and all the rest. They’ve already passed legislation banning themselves from extending the transition period beyond the end of 2020 which means that we could conceivably slip out of the EU on December 31st without any deal. Something that a good number of these bastards have wanted all along.

Symbolically the moment when we leave is midnight on January 31st (Brussels time, nicely). That’s the moment that this country takes the step to make itself poorer, worse off in all sorts of ways, to cut itself off from the largest single market in the world, the moment this country chooses to be an inward looking, mean spirited, small minded Little Englander nation. There will be some arseholes draped in Union flags having parties where they’ve ‘banned’ French wine, Dutch cheese and German  sausage, Little Englanders to a man. They will be misty eyed dickheads standing staring at Big Ben, willing it to bong, and sharing pictures of the White Cliffs of Dover. These people will be gone one day, forgotten, swallowed up by the mess they created, the country they chose to reduce, the country they willingly have turned into a laughing stock around the world. I hope each one of them at some point has a moment where they see what they’ve done and silently admit to themselves that they made a massive fucking error.

Two late period Big Audio Dynamite songs, both showing in different ways that there was life in Mick Jones’ band after they were seen to have passed their sell- by date. In 1991 Mick put together a new version following the departure of the original line up after Megatop Phoenix. Recruiting three younger players (Nick Hawkins, Gary Stonadge and Chris Kavanagh) and renaming the band Big Audio Dynamite II they released Kool Aid in 1990 and then The Globe in 1991. The Globe was in part a re-working of Kool Aid, kicking off with Rush and the cracking title track plus fan favourite Innocent Child and one or two others that still cut the mustard. The Globe was remixed by ambient house heroes The Orb, nine minutes of bliss starting out with the song, then going all dubby bubbly and ambient before bringing in Mick’s most famous guitar riff to see us throgh the last few minutes.

The Globe (By The Orb)

By the mid 90s B.A.D. II had become Big Audio and then back to B.A.D. They were dropped by their major label and signed to Radioactive. In 1995 they released F- Punk, eleven songs created with the same line up Mick put together in 1990 but now with Andre Shapps on board on keyboards and co- production. Andre is the cousin of Grant Shapps, former chairman of the Conservative party and currently transport minister in Johnson’s cabinet. We can’t really hold this against Andre but it’s a bizarre link. F- Punk contained one end period B.A.D. classic…

I Turned Out A Punk (U.S. Mix)

Counted in by Mick shouting ‘1- 2- 3- 4’, a tinny two chord riff crashes in, backed by wheezy organ and then Mick’s familiar reedy voice…

‘Mummy was a hostess, daddy was a drunk
Cos the didn’t love me then, I turned out a punk…

… Slowly started slipping round, til my ship was sunk
Going nowhere in my life, I turned out a punk…

… took my disabilities, packed them in a trunk
rock ‘n’ roll’s alright with me, I turned out a punk’

Tremendous stuff, Mick still kicking against the pricks and writing from the heart. Fuck Brexit.

Davis Road Blues

This is 22 Davis Road, Shepherd’s Bush, West London. In 1976 this was a squat occupied by Viv Albertine and Alan Drake, both studying art at the Hammersmith School of Art and Building, Lime Grove, Shepherd’s Bush (later known as Chelsea Art College). Viv met a fellow art student Mick Jones who enrolled mainly because he thought art college was the best place to go to start a band. Mick began visiting the squat at Davis Road, along with Paul Simonon who he met through an audition for a band he tried to put together months earlier and had recently bumped into again- he couldn’t sing or play but looked right and Mick began to teach him bass. Alan Drake’s friend Keith Levene was another regular visitor to Davis Road. Paul moved in downstairs and rehearsals took place there, for an as yet unnamed band. Viv’s friend Simon (Sid) moved in. Mick had met Bernie Rhodes who wanted to manage Mick’s nascent group and began looking for a new rehearsal space, out of the squat. This would take them to Camden. Before that Jones, Simonon and Rhodes saw a pub rock band perform, The 101ers, and approached the lead singer/guitarist about leaving the old guard and jumping in with them, now called The Clash (a word that leapt out at Simonon while leafing through the local rag, the London Evening Standard). On June 1st 1976 Joe Strummer turned up at 22 Davis Road to tell them he was in. Future members of The Clash, Sex Pistols, PiL and The Slits all came from the squat at 22 Davis Road.

Prince Blanco was born Mark Atrill on the Isle of Wight in 1965. By the mid 90s was playing in ska and reggae bands. He became involved with various reggae producers and musicians including Dubmatix, who in 2009 made an album of dub versions of Clash songs called Shatter The Hotel, a tribute to Strummer and a benefit for the Strummerville charity (the album also involved Don Letts and Dan Donovan). There’s something about Clash songs that lend themselves to covers, dubs, versions, re-edits, remixes and refits. There are some groups whose songs should be left alone but I’m always open to reworkings of Clash tunes. Prince Blanco’s track here isn’t a Clash cover as such, it’s a dub track with Mick Jones’ guitar from B.A.D.’s The Bottom Line dropped in and a vocal from an interview with Joe Strummer.

Davis Road Blues

For A Life That’s Fit For Living

It never fails to amaze me how servile this country is- a thousand years of monarchy coupled with a political upper class who have managed to hoodwink enough of the voters that they know best, that they are born to govern, have done us in. That has led us to where we are today. There was a new item on the BBC last week focusing on a food bank in Grimsby. A couple who had been priced out of Margate had moved north and survived using the food bank.

The fact that we are accepting the use of food banks in 2019 tells its own story and shows how far people have accepted the fate the Conservatives have delivered to them. In the last five years the use of food banks has increased by 73%. By March 2019 over one and a half million people in the UK relied on them. A third of these people use food banks because their income doesn’t cover the basics. A third of the rest are because of issues to do with Universal Credit, either changes to benefits or delayed payments. There are now more food banks in the UK than branches of McDonalds- how’s late period capitalism working for you?

Back to Grimsby. This couple were interviewed by the reporter and asked who they were thinking of voting for. Forced out of their home, surviving on charity food handouts, at the back end of a decade of government by the Conservative Party, the man said ‘I like what Boris is saying’.

Somewhere there’s a complete disconnect between the impact of the three worst Prime Ministers this country has seen since 1945 and the effects of those Prime Ministers on people’s lives. Each of the three has been engaged in a frantic race, in half the time of the previous one, to reach new lows. From Cameron’s ideological cuts to public spending propped up by the Lib Dems and offer of a referendum through fear of the nutjobs and racists at UKIP to May’s loss of an election that forced her to be propped up by the DUP to Boris Johnson- the only British Prime Minister to have been found guilty of illegally shutting down parliament to prevent it from discussing his key policy, we have been governed by the most incompetent and foul trio of leaders imaginable. And still people say ‘I like what Boris is saying’ and ‘I know he’s a liar but I trust him’.

This election campaign has been the most depressing few weeks, the faked news reports in the last few days about the little boy suffering from pneumonia on a hospital floor, the lies told by Matt Hancock to distract from this, the fabricated story about a Labour activist punching a Tory aide at Leeds hospital, the mass use of spambots to pump out lies about the original photograph, the failure of two of the top political journalists to do even basic fact checking- it is shameful and should make anyone who think the UK is modern, fully functioning democracy think again.

If you vote Tory you are voting for Boris Johnson, a leader who has illegally prorogued parliament, compared Muslim women to bankrobbers and letterboxes, called  homosexuals ‘tank topped bum boys’, called black people ‘piccaninnies’, suggested EU nationals should go home to their own countries, tried to politicise the murder of two people two weekends ago for his own benefit, has lied and cheated his way through life and politics, who has been kept away from both the public and TV interviewers the longer the campaign has gone on and who this week pocketed a journalists phone when confronted with the photo of the child on the hospital floor. You’re voting for his cronies too: Priti Patel who suggested recently while being interviewed in Barrow that poverty wasn’t the fault or responsibility of government; for Dominic Raab, the Brexit minister who didn’t realise how much trade comes through Dover and hadn’t read the Good Friday agreement; for Jacob Rees Mogg, a Tory so embarrassing and politically unsafe that they’ve hidden him away from the voters; Nicky Morgan insisting in the face of all rational evidence and basic that 50, 000 new nurses containing 50, 000 current nurses being retained is not 50, 000 new nurses; a party that doctored news footage of Keir Starmer and spread it via social media; a party whose manifesto has little in the way of actual detail other than that they will get Brexit done, as if the whole thing is finished once the UK leaves the EU when in reality that’s when the business of Brexit actually begins. He, Johnson, and they, the Tories, are laughing at us- the hate us and they laugh at us because they know they can do what they like and people will still vote for them. It’s almost as if with Boris Johnson they have decided to see what they can actually get away with in plain sight. ‘Look, here, an actual total fucking bumbling poshboy idiot- vote for him’. The deference the Tories get stems from this bizarre British belief that they ar the natural party of government, that they are the safe pair of hands. Nothing they have done since 2010 or that Johnson has done since becoming Prime Minister in the summer justifies that deference, that servility, that doffing the forelock as the Eton boys go by.

It’s looking like the best we can hope for is a hung parliament. We have to do the best we can to stop these people. Vote Labour, vote SNP, vote Lib Dem, vote Plaid Cymru, vote for the independents thrown out of the Tory party but vote anti- Tory. If they get a majority Johnson and the Tories will be laughing in our faces while they piss on our shoes for the next five years.

I’m not sure any of this helps but I feel a little better for typing it. It’s difficult to feel positive or optimistic about things at the moment. Watching the TV or reading the paper makes me depressed, hopeless or angry. I guess anger is more useful than the other two and that’s mainly what’s fuelled this post.

This song by Aztec Camera and Mick Jones from 1990 has been picking away at the back of mind for the last few months. In the lyrics Roddy Frame takes the four countries that make up the UK in turn- Scotland ignored by the Conservative government despite never voting for it, Northern Ireland with it’s Catholic population at the end of a gun and the butt of Paddy jokes, Wales suffering from population decrease a a result of incoming holiday home owners and England under the cosh of police brutality and illiberal attitudes.  Roddy and Mick’s rat- a- tat delivery, trading song lines and guitar lines, and the sheer bounce of the tune carry it all along, totally upbeat and Roddy tries to end with some positivity-

‘Love is international
And if you stand or if you fall
Just let them know you gave your all
Worry about it later

The past is steeped in shame
And tomorrow’s fair game
For a life that’s fit for living
Good morning Britain’

Good Morning Britain

A Change Of Atmosphere

In 1990 the members of Big Audio Dynamite that weren’t Mick Jones left the group. Mick ventured on with a new group of recruits, renamed as Big Audio Dynamite II, all Stussy bucket hats and combat trousers. Mick’s song Rush stands out from that time, along with The Globe, evidence his songwriting skills were as sharp as ever and that he was still on top of things in the studio and in production. BAD II records are peppered with samples, new technology, house beats with guitars and some general Second/Third Summer Of Love vibes.

Rush

Mick played it a bit fast and loose with the release of Rush. It had already appeared on the Kool Aid album in a earlier form called Change Of Atmosphere. In 1991 The Clash were back in the press, charts and public consciousness with the use of Should I Stay Or Should I Go in the long running Levi’s adverts. The song was re-released and went to number 1, a feat which Mick was chuffed about, the song playing in every cinema in the country and it was an achievement The Clash never managed during the group’s lifespan. Mick insisted that the B-side to the single was Rush and then managed to get it listed as an AA side rather than a B-side (in an interview at the time Mick, a tad disingenuously claimed new bands always needed exposure and he saw BAD II was a new band). Apparently this didn’t go down too well with Joe and Paul. Rush is a super smart song though, whatever the back story. Mick’s voice crashes in, all reedy West London. ‘If I had my time again’ he sings, in the wake of the break up of another band, ‘I would do it all the same’. The song then finds space for some crunchy Jones guitar chords, keyboard and organ samples from songs by The Who and Deep Purple, a stolen drum break and some distinctive vocal samples by Big Hank from the Sugarhill Gang and  Peter Sellers. In verse two Mick continues to regret rien…

‘Now I’m fully grown
And I know where it’s at
Somehow I stayed thin
While the other guys got fat
All the chances that are blown
And the times that I’ve been down
I didn’t get to high
Kept my feet on the ground’

There’s then a long sample driven, breakdown section before a little mea culpa in the third verse

‘And of all my friends
You’ve been the best to me
Soon will be the day
When I repay you hands and knees
Broken hearts are hard to mend
I know I’ve had my share
But life just carries on
Even when I’m not there’

Fast on its feet, full of life and with an exciting, catchy chorus, Rush is a giddy blast.

As well as the Should I Stay Or Should I Go single Rush was released as a single in its own right in the UK and in America, eight versions and mixes, partly aimed at radio stations in the U.S and MTV- which clearly worked, Rush was at number one on the Billboard Modern Rock chart for four weeks. The UK White Label mix turned up officially on an Australian BAD compilation, a mix very much aimed at British clubland.

Rush (New York 12″ Mix)

Rush (UK White Label)

 

If You Catch Me At The Border I Got Visas In My Name

A month ago I watched the excellent documentary Matangi/Maya/M.I.A., a film about the life, music and politics of M.I.A. The film is made up of home video footage, TV appearances, time spent with Justine Frischmann and on the road with Elastica, interviews and various shaky, hand held video camera and phone clips. It’s a fascinating document, energetic and gripping. Much of the film centres around a visit to Sri Lanka which Maya extends longer than intended and the impact this has on her convictions and politics and the effect this then has on her music, her view of herself as an immigrant and a Londoner. As her music becomes more popular and widespread she walks into various controversies. She is accused by the US media of being a terrorist sympathiser (her father was a founding Tamil Tiger). She is set up by the New York Times and responds by tweeting the journalist’s mobile phone number. She is invited by Madonna to appear with her at half time during the Superbowl and gives the whole of Middle America the middle finger. Her ambition and attitude are evident from the star and she comes across very well too, likeable and genuinely questioning her own attitudes and beliefs. She has swagger and self- belief and has made some of the best pop songs of the 21st century.

I’ve posted this before but it never gets tired, a thrilling pop- rap blast riding in on that Mick Jones Straight To Hell guitar sample, Diplo’s production and M.I.A.’s lyrics about people’s perceptions of immigrants (hence the gun shots and cash registers of the chorus).

Paper Planes

The best use of a Clash sample? Maybe so. Norman Cook and Beats International made very good use of Paul Simonon’s bassline for Dub Be Good To Me in 1990, with Lindy Layton’s sweet vocal and The SOS Band’s song.

Dub Be Good To Me (LP version)

In 1994 Deee Lite sampled the wheezy organ from Armagideon Times for Apple Juice Kissing, a song about kissing on the back row of the movies and therefore a much less political song than Paper Planes, Straight To Hell or The Clash’s cover of Willie Williams’ reggae tune but all part of life’s rich tapestry. And a very smart use of a Clash sample too.

Apple Juice Kissing