There is a certain uniqueness about Billy Bragg. He is clearly no political giant, but well thought of enough to be invited onto Question Time by the BBC. Cannot see that happening for many other people who have played live on Top of the Pops!
It was interesting to hear his response to the question posed by a member of the audience at the live show which was along the lines of ‘what would you do to solve the current economic crisis?’ After suggestions from politicians to cut public spending, stimulate small businesses and ease pressures on world economies by essentially printing more money, Billy said “I would pay the ordinary workers a decent amount of pay by increasing the level of the minimum wage.”
I will leave you to think that how that compares with George Osbourne’s ideas on quantitative easing.
My mind goes back to Billy Bragg as I first saw him play during the miners strike. Strike is a word that has become metamorphosed into ‘industrial action’. Not too sure about that one.
A strike is still a strike in my book.
It was interesting to read today in The Independent on Sunday about the comeback of vinyl.
Peter Hook echoes my sentiments about buying an LP as opposed to downloading an mp3 file in the article.
Also of note is that it seems that youngsters are raiding lofts for their parents’ old rock albums and not knowing how to play them on a turntable, or even how to get hold of one! Bless!
The Selecter – Three Minute Hero
Rummaging around in that singles box again. There are a few 2 Tone singles in there and I forgot that the Beat were actually on Go Feet! Towards the back I found this little tune.
Singles always used to have the song time length stamped on the label.
Guess what the digits are on this disc?
Why do the radio stations in America always have weird names?
(Such as Radio KEXP from Seattle for example.)
Well, it seems that all broadcast call signs in the United States begin with either “K” or “W”. The “K” usually west of the Mississippi River and “W” usually east of it, which of course makes perfect sense. Also the W and K rule is not always followed geographically, which adds to the confusion. The only thing that you can guarantee is that any radio station with a call sign beginning in a K or W is from the USA.
I am even boring myself now! Back to Radio KEXP and the joy of the internet. It is great to be able to listen to any radio station you want – it opens up so many new tunes at the click of a button. I really enjoyed the atmosphere in Seattle when I went there – it has a buzzing music scene and it has some great record stores. Hence I was drawn to Radio KEXP – They have a wonderful back catalogue of live sessions. Any radio station that asks The Hold Steady back to play again gets my respect.
The past and present
A while back I was musing about spending a fair amount of my youth in record shops in Bristol and visiting these places involved a 30 minute bus ride from home or a 5 minute walk from school at lunchtimes. The speed at which new music came to my attention was slow. You might hear a new track on the John Peel show on Radio 1 one evening, read the review in the NME within a week and keep on asking if the EP had arrived yet at Revolver Records on a daily basis for what seemed an age.
Put it this way it represented an unacceptable download time.
It could take weeks for the music to get to you, but although it was a slow process there was something satisfying about getting back on the bus with your latest find and reading the sleeve notes before getting the record home with a certain amount of anticipation and then spinning the record. It was just a pleasant experience to buy a record; the whole process was quite exciting in a way and far more tangible than the modern way of getting hold of new music.
Now at home you can listen to radio stations around the world via media streaming, or use some clever sites like lastfm, spotify or Pandora as was and find music that you like instantly and zone in on a new tune, download the track and immediately store and catalogue it.
However it is not really all that good in the hood. Here for example I liked this song a lot and told my mate Baz about it. In fact a lot of these live sessions for Radio KEXP were really good, it is good to see bands playing sessions like this but there is a catch.
Yes, the problem was that this track was already on my ipod as I had ripped the whole album off Baz, but was totally oblivious to the fact.
Indeed I have collected so much material on my ipod that it will literally take almost a week to listen to each track stored on that gizmo. I never knew that I had discovered a ‘new’ track that was already in my possession until Baz told me.
Now how daft is that?
And the song………………
Hmmmm. Rap or Hip Hop label it as you will, it is still a bit of a marmite jobbie really. You either love or hate it.
Now I have a few bits and bobs of hip hop on my ipod and it has its merits. However there is a point somewhere that even I draw the line.
RAP DON’T WORK IN GERMAN (especially when you can understand the lyrics)
Portuguese it goes ok:
French is sort of soothing and I love MC Solaar…..
But in German? Nope. It just does not go.
THE SID PRESLEY EXPERIENCE
Saw these at a “Give Ireland back to the Irish Gig” (Red Wedge Tour) at the Bristol Mecca Studio 17th March 1985. I think they all wore suits with shamrocks on their lapels and were the warm up act for Billy Bragg. The band had a punk/nihilist following who all fought amongst themselves and spat a lot at the front of the crowd. Billy Bragg was his usual passionate self – whilst stopping short of being a true angry young man. I remember Billy kept on breaking strings on his guitar as he was playing so hard and also thinking back the other support act was Porky the Poet aka Phil Jupitus.
As for the venue The Studio was a big disco/nightclub which was one of many dives around the City Centre. It was one of the sort of places that just do not exist anymore.
Nightclubs and the old boozers of my youth in Bristol are described in Mark’s fantastic Blog at twiglet.com
There are a few bad ‘uns in this box of 45’s, yet there are a few classics.
Probably my all time number 1 is this one. The video to this is pretty cheesey – click on the image below to view it.
The Naval Volunteer in King Street was one of the first pubs in Bristol to have a video jukebox and good old Marvin was on there along with the Ramones – Teenage Lobotomy and Billy Idol – White Wedding.
In my last year at Kingston Poly the Summer Ball/Leavers Bash was an outdoor gig which took place on a temporary stage at one of the self-catering halls of residence The headline act were Bad Manners and it was a big deal . From memory the tickets were rather pricey, so a gang of us decided to go to the gig the cheap way. We strolled down to the off licence and got a stack of beer. Then we trekked to Surbiton Cemetery and stumbled past the graves to the back fence. Once the obstacle had been gate vaulted and the beer slung over in carrier bags we were in the grounds of the halls of residence.
It was very dark and disorientating at first because the point at which we had pitched up was at the back of the temporary stage. We slowly felt our way around to the side of the stage where we came against the wall of a portacabin. It seemed an appropriate place for a team pit stop. The four of us lined up and had a well-earned piss against the wall of the hut. Gavin, who was a very tall bloke, shouts out an expletive as he can see the goings on inside the portacabin through the window he is facing. The rest of us scrabble around to the stairs to the fire exit and lean round to take a squint through a window by the fire exit door. Inside we could see the band getting ready to go on stage with a few of the Student Union Politburo darting here and there trying not to panic whilst attempting to lend a hand. Amongst the chaos was Buster Bloodvessel who was sitting on a plastic chair in the centre of the room deep in thought, cool as a cucumber. He had a piece of paper in his lap and a black magic marker in one hand. In the other hand he had a roach the size of a saveloy. He took a big draw on the thing and furrowed his brow as he thought of what to write next on the set list that he was generating.
We could not resist so we knocked on the door and got let in. It was not quite Martin Sheen meets Marlon Brando, but you know what I am getting at in trying to set the scene. We all had had a skin full so we just stood there a bit star struck blinking in the light.
Someone piped up “Hey Buster, can we have your autograph?”
“Yeah, got any paper?” he replied.
“Er…. No.” was the answer.
“Come here then” he beckoned us forward and signed our foreheads with his marker pen.
We looked a right bunch of numpties when we later snuck into the gathering crowd, but we did not care.