Italia

Well, there you go, a game too far maybe for a young and inexperienced side but there is no shame at all in being beaten 2-1 in the semi-final of the World Cup by Croatia. Well done to Gareth Southgate and the whole squad. I’m sorry to all my Scottish friends who’ve probably got fed up with it but you’re just going to have to live with it this little piece of English football pride we’ve enjoyed over the last few weeks and you’d have done the same if it had been you.

As this publishes I shall be on a plane to Italy, on a school trip taking in a couple of days in Rome and then a bus ride south to the Bay of Naples for a couple of days, to Sorento visitng Pompeii, Herculaneum and Vesuvius. There won’t be any blogging going on while I’m away. The weather forecast looks even hotter and sunnier there than it has been here for the last month. I’ve never been before and am massively looking forward to seeing the historical sites and sights of ancient Rome and Italia in all its glory. See you all next week.

To make Thursday start off with a beautifully relaxed start here is some blissed out, sunkissed Italian house from Q-Base in 1991. If you hear anything more chilled out than this today, please let me know.

Il Sulo (The Sun) Deep Mix

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Twenty Eight Years Later

Whatever happens tonight in Moscow- England are playing Croatia in the World Cup semi-final in case you’ve been asleep for the last two weeks- the team have done themselves proud and exceeded any expectations many of us had of them. Since the late 1990s England have failed so often and so abjectly it became difficult to believe that any major tournament could be a success. Having shed themselves of the so-called ‘Golden Generation’, some really poor managerial appointments and the millstone of the superstars that hung around without really ever doing anything, Gareth Southgate has done something extraordinary- he’s built a squad of young men that play for each other and for the team, egos and factions apparently a thing of the past, with the confidence that being young and talented brings and also actually preparing for things like penalty shoot outs. The idea that England could be contesting a place in a World Cup final still seems a bit unreal to me. Last time around, in Brazil, they were the first team home, defeated twice in a matter of days, left playing a third and final group game that meant nothing.

The last time England were in a World Cup semi-final was 1990, a night in Turin against West Germany that ended with penalties and defeat. 1990 was a different world- Germany was not even re-united in summer 1990. Nelson Mandela had only been released in February 1990. John Major was not yet Prime Minister, Thatcher still in power and with no reason to think she wouldn’t be by the end of year (Major ended up leading a Tory cabinet and party massively split over Europe, so plus ca change maybe).

In July 1990 I was twenty years old and a group of us had been to Glastonbury at the end of June, arriving home to our shared student house part way through the England- Cameroon quarter final match to see England win 3-2. Glastonbury had been headlined by Happy Mondays and The Cure (both still playing big shows all these years later). We’d seen Sinead O’Connor, De La Soul, James, Jesus Jones and then Archaos closing the Pyramid Stage by tightrope walking across the top of it. There’s a review here which describes it as all mud, flares and the Mekong Delta. New Order were at number one with World In Motion. Adamski had been number one with Seal and Killer before that. Spike Island was only 6 weeks previously, a promise of something that never happened. With the university term and year over I watched the semi-final back at my parent’s house and as Chris Waddle put his penalty over the bar someone at our house, an older person who had dropped in, said ‘never mind, they’ll be in another one soon’. Not that soon it turns out. Whatever happens tonight, it’s been a long time coming. Good luck England.

Killer

The Official Colourbox World Cup Theme

Fifteen

There are two significant events today, June 14th 2018, one personal and one international. The first one, close to home, is the 15th birthday of number two child/number one daughter Eliza. Once, as the picture shows, she was young and cute and happily wore a Clash t-shirt. Now she is 15, growing up into a young woman and probably wouldn’t wear a Clash t-shirt.

Every summer in recent years we’ve driven to France with a stack of music. I get accused of hogging the car stereo. Not true obviously. Finding songs we can all agree on is a bit of an artform. Last summer we got there on this one- I’ve got to say, I think this is a tune. So you can have this one as your birthday song Eliza. Happy birthday.

One of Eliza’s presents is Dolly Parton’s 9 To 5 on 7″ (which she should have opened by the time this is posted). So here’s your birthday bonus song…

We survived our first ‘proper’ teenage house party at the weekend, a mixed group of 15 of them in our garden, with music, dancing, shrieking and  ‘controlled’ drinking (you can control what they drink in your house- more difficult to control what some of them have drunk before they arrive). Apart from some minor damage to our already patchy lawn there was no harm done and much fun had. The party playlist was dominated by 80s pop, some disgraceful 80s soft-rock and some more contemporary stuff. Back in 1985, when I turned 15 this was the UK’s number one single…

19 is groundbreaking in its own way and genuinely memorable, and kept at the number one slot by regular releases of remixed versions. Vietnam was big in the mid-80s. A decade on from the end of the war people were getting to grips with it, what had happened and what it meant. I read somewhere recently that the average age of the combat soldier in Vietnam wasn’t actually 19 but 22. But that doesn’t really change the message of the song or the fact that if you were poor, uneducated or black you were far more likely to end up in Vietnam than if you were wealthier, educated and white. Does it Mr. Trump? Coincidentally I played it to my Year 11 class recently as part of their depth study on The Vietnam War. They weren’t very impressed if truth be told, the sounds were too dated and quaint, the stuttering vocal too cliched and the female backing vox too cheesy. But they took the message and the visuals in.

The other event today is the start of the World Cup, Russia 2018. This is my 11th World Cup. I have some vague memories of Argentina ’78 aged 8, memories of the final at least, which I was allowed to stay up and watch some of. Spain ’82 is the first one I really  remember- in the picture above Bryan Robson celebrates after scoring against France in England’s opening game. Mexico ’86 was a blast, taking place during my O Levels, the magnificence of Diego Maradona in his prime, England out in controversial manner and an epic France v Brazil game. Italia 90 was ace, mixed up as it was with New Order’s World In Motion, No Alla Violenza, Toto Schillaci, Roger Milla and an England run to the semi-finals.

Twenty-eight years on, this is still the only world cup record that really matters.

‘Love’s got the world in motion and we can’t believe it’s true’.

World In Motion (No Alla Violenza Mix)

Guten Tag

I unfolded myself off the bus, after thirty six hours from Krakow to north west England yesterday. Sleeping sitting up is a skill I’ve not quite got the hang of and my back has suffered. But our school trip to Krakow and Berlin was fantastic, all the moreso because we were in Berlin last Sunday night when Germany won the world cup. The streets of Berlin were flooded with thousands of Germans, most draped in the colours. We’d passed the Brandenberg Gate early on Saturday and had a look at the fan park but decided that keeping sixty-four teenagers safe while watching the final might be tricky. Eventually we all watched it on a big screen in the square outside our hotel and Hauptbahnhof, the main railway station. This ensured a constant flow of fans before and after the match. It was crackers and probably a once in a lifetime experience- watching a country win the world cup in that country’s capital city. It certainly won’t happen as a England fan.

Berlin is an amazing city, one which I want to return to. There’s so much to see and do- in two days we squeezed in sections of wall, Checkpoint Charlie, a trip up the TV tower, Alexanderplatz with its 60s concrete architecture, Sachsenhausen and the Olympic Stadium. Seeing some of the wall was a highlight for me- something that was such a key part of world history and from my lifetime. After Berlin we went to Krakow, which has a beautiful square and buildings, and drank tea (black tea with cold milk, the English way) in Noworolski Cafe, frequented by Lenin in the mid 1910s. And had a couple of Polish beers.

I’ve downloaded a few of the pics off my phone here…

Holger Czukay of Can, was born in Gdansk, Poland and raised in Germany. He has recently remixed some solo tracks from his 1977 album Der Osten Is Rot and issued them on 10″ vinyl through a Berlin based record label, Gronland Records. Click on the link for loads of grooviness. The remixed Sudetenland, with Jah Wobble, Jaki Leibezeit and Conny Plank, is out right now and you can listen to it here.

Harder Than You Think

There’s all this top sport all over the place at the moment and then the mp3 player shuffled up this on the way home from work on Friday, just as I was at the traffic lights near home. The World Cup and the Tour de France will be poorer for those injuries to poor old Neymar (definitely out) and poor old Mark Cavendish (probably out).

Public Enemy’s Harder Than You Think was a single from their 20th anniversary album How Do You Sell Soul To A Soulless People Who Lost Their Soul? and proved that Chuck D and co had not lost their edge. It is lit up by a Shirley Bassey horn sample and is probably best known over here as the song that soundtracked the paralympic games two summers ago. This Futurecast remix adds a massive, punishing breakbeat.

Harder Than You Think (Futurecast Remix)

Brazil One

Yay! The World Cup kicks off today, all the way from Brazil. Nothing the current art department produce gets anywhere near the poster that advertised the 1950 tournament (also in Brazil) but never mind. We may also have to ignore a) FIFA’s absolute corruption b) protests from the locals about the cost c) the poverty in the favelas just a stone’s throw from the stadia d) the likelihood that England will be knocked out by the end of the group stage; then we may be able to enjoy a festival of football. Tonight, Brazil versus Croatia.

 

From 1968, Brazil’s own psychedelic protest group and the mind blowingly good Os Mutantes. Just listen to that fuzz guitar and that tropicalia backing.

 

A Minha Menina

Montevideo Horror Show

Montevideo is the capital of Uruguay. Apart from being a lovely word to say, Montevideo was the home of the first football World Cup back in 1930. In the picture the French national team relax on deck on their way to the finals which were eventually won by Italy. Host nation Uruguay would go on to win the following tournament four years later.

Montevideo are also a Belgian indie pop outfit who produce music for fans of ‘funereal beauty’. They’ve made this song Castles (remixed by spindly legged, black clad Horror Tom Furse) available for free download from Soundcloud. Starts out all murky then lurches into sunny psychedelia. Just the thing for Saturday morning at the start of half term.