Streets Are All Quiet

Simon Tong joined The Verve as guitarist when Nick McCabe left and then stayed on when he came back (awkward! as the youngsters say). When in 2006 Damon Albarn put together a supposedly nameless band around himself, Paul Simonon (coaxed out of painting to pick up his bass again) and Afrobeat drumming legend Tony Allen, Tong came on board too. The Good, The Bad And The Queen was a very English sounding album (despite Tony Allen on drums)- Dickensian almost, songs summoning up London murk, dark, damp streets and noise coming out from behind half closed doors. This song, the album closer also called The Good, The Bad And The Queen, opens with pub style piano and closes with all of the players racing each other to get to six minutes plus ending. The album was produced by Dangermouse but doesn’t really sound like it.

The Good, The Bad And The Queen


Music For People On Oil Rigs

…is how Mick Jones once described Sandinista. Paul Simonon recently spent two weeks in a Canadian jail having been part of a Greenpeace team who stormed an oil rig in protest and refused to leave. Paul joined the crew of a Greenpeace ship as ‘ the assistant cook’ and wasn’t recognised by anyone until a guard sussed him during his stay in captivity. You can read the whole story here, including a video where The Good, The Bad And The Queen played on the new Rainbow Warrior ship on the Thames just the other night.

Fellow Clash activist Mick has announced a short tour entitled Justice Tonight, raising awareness for the Hillsborough Families Justice campaign. Mick promises a set of Clash songs and is supported by Pete Wylie (yay!) and The Farm (gulp!). More info from John Robb’s website here and a link to get tickets. I’ve already got mine.
The Bandits were a Liverpool blues rock band, from that rush of scouse bands a decade ago (The Coral, The Zutons et al). This is a spirited run through of Paul Simonon’s best loved song.

Back In The Day

I’ve had an uneasy relationship with Damon Albarn from the off, starting with splashing his desert boots at a trough urinal in Liverpool when Blur toured to support their debut single She’s So High. While quite liking some Blur singles I rarely bought them, and Damon seemed a prickly, arrogant, off-putting figure for much of the 90s. I like some of Gorillaz records but got tired of the cartoon characters thing. In fact thinking about it, some Gorillaz songs are top notch and I loved the two recent ones but I only bought the first two albums long after they came out. The Good, The Bad And the Queen appeared to be a different kettle of fish and appealed to me much more. It brought Bagging Area hero Paul Simonon out of musical retirement and to good effect, and Damon seemed a bit humbler and less overbearing. The music, described somewhere as ‘Dickensian dub’ was more up my alley, and the whole project was both out of step with the times and reflecting the times (references to war, drinking, city life etc). He was criticised for underusing Tony Allen’s drumming but it wasn’t really an afrobeat album was it? Recently I read a reappraisal of the album so I went back to it and was struck by the number of good tunes on it- the title track, Kingdom Of Doom, Three Changes, Herculean, Green Fields… As someone mentioned on a comment thread, it is a London album but also a great record for listening to driving around English towns late at night. This song was the B-side to the Herculean single.