With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

“I want to know who the men in the shadows are,I want to hear somebody asking them why” June 12, 2013


Mumford-And-Songs-Create-G8-Summit-Protest-Songs-665x385

This is not the first time I have posted about protest songs and I doubt that it will be the last. If you’d like to read my last protest post click here. My good friend Nick Horslen switched me on to the excellent work that one.org do; In particular a superb recent piece providing an extensive playlist of protest songs which range from the classic to the obscure. There are also some very interesting cover versions included. Click here for the protest playlist

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The protest song has been around for many years but for this post I’d like to focus on protest songs from the sixties onwards. The song in this genre that most people know is probably Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind”. The song has been covered by many people and remains a standard for buskers all over the world. The lyrics are essentially a set of questions which I am sad to say are still pertinent today. I recently watched the U2 documentary film, ‘Rattle And Hum‘ and was reminded of how powerful the song “Sunday Bloody Sunday” is. There is a heartfelt speech from Bono during that version where he berates Irish terrorists. This was filmed on the day the IRA murdered 11 innocent people at a remembrance day service in the town of Enniskillen in 1987.

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Whilst the early songs of the rock era, including Dylan, were rooted in folk music the fight for many causes has subsequently been taken up by almost every genre from rap to reggae and from soul to punk. I would like to focus on a few of my favourites in particular some that don’t get played too often and currently are not included in the one.org Agit 8 playlist. But before that I should mention two protest songs that I return to often; Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song

I believe that Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, who wrote many classic Temptations songs for Motown were never recognised widely enough for their protest songs; The Temptations recorded “War” before Edwin Starr had a global hit with it. Whitfield and Strong also wrote “Ball Of Confusion” and “Take A Look Around”. But perhaps one of the bravest given when it was released was “Message From A Black Man” from their 1969 album ‘Puzzle People’

Many singer songwriters from Guthrie, Seeger and Dylan through to Neil Young, Billy Bragg and more recently Frank Turner have written and recorded some very strong protest songs. One of my favourites of that type is Jackson Browne‘s “Lives In The Balance”. In my opinion he was one of too few voices that were constantly critical of the Reagan regime in the 80s. This particular song focuses on America’s ongoing involvement in foreign wars which frankly they should not have been anywhere near!

My last song choice for this post is the very topical “Same Love” from Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. A slow hip hop style song about being gay. In my opinion this is one of the finest rap protest songs that has been released for some time. It also helps to prove that rap can handle gay issues. It is a long way removed from the Tom Robinson Band‘s late 70s gay anthem “Glad To Be Gay” but no less powerful. If any budding songwriters are reading this and you have a protest song you’d like me to air, you know where I am. I would also love to hear from you with your own protest song suggestions.

protestsong

 

“With your bonuses and expenses you shovelled down your throat. Now you bit the hand that fed you Dear God I hope you choke” January 3, 2012


I’d like to thank my friend Stuart O’Hara for suggesting the theme of this post. Edwyn Collins once said ‘too many protest singers, not enough protest songs’. Strangely that was a lyric from his 90s hit “A Girl Like You” which doesn’t seem to be a protest song itself. That dear reader is the thrust of this blog post; where are all the protest singers and protest songs? The world economy is collapsing, riot and revolution is rife, wars and indiscriminate bombings are commonplace and UK politics is at best inept and the USA is trillions of dollars in debt and dancing with the idea of electing an idiotic republican candidate far more stupid than even Dubya was. So where are all the protests from the music world?

Aside from the fact that a legitimate protest song would probably not get played on mainstream radio and would need to ‘go viral’ on-line, where the hell are they? Where are this generation’s Woody Guthries, Pete Seegers, Bob Dylans and Billy Braggs? OK I know there have been a few good attempts since the Specials summed up Britain in song in 1981 with “Ghost Town”. Notably “Killing In The Name Of” from Rage Against The Machine and perhaps “American Idiot” from Green Day. But what happened to the establishment/ ‘the man’ being scared of rock music? It’s all become too corporate and bland.

U2 and Coldplay have tried to use their muscle to protest against various wrongs in the world, but frankly are their hearts really in it? Radiohead have supported the free Tibet campaign amongst others, but could they do more? Dylan is getting too old, Bragg doesn’t have the fanbase size required (but is still flying the flag), Springsteen and Weller have been quiet of late on the protest front and Marvin Gaye, Marley, Lennon and Strummer are sadly no longer with us.

The environment must be right for a new movement to shake up the old order just like punk did in the 70s and rave and grunge did in the 80s and 90s. The charts are stuffed full of manipulated, impresario created pop muppets; Little Mix, Matt Cardle, Olly Murs etc. It is time to stand up and be counted good people of the blogosphere. We need some strong protest songs to unite all those fighting for freedom and change. Let’s shake up that complacent bunch of career politicians in Westminster and political ivory towers across the world. Frank Turner, Show Of Hands, Neil Young you can do this we need you now! Will somebody please step forward?

In the meantime here are some classic protest songs. I would love to hear your opinions of protest songs and singers;

 

“And somewhere between the time you arrive and the time you go may lie a reason you were alive, but you’ll never know” October 6, 2011


I know he wasn’t a singer, musician or songwriter but Steve Jobs sure as hell left an incredible mark on the music industry. His genius, foresight and innovation has fundamentally changed the way we buy/ obtain our music and indeed how we listen to it. Are there many households, or even people, in the world that don’t have an Apple product that can play music? iPod, iPhone, iPad, iMac even if you have none of those you may have iTunes on your pc. I think that names like iPod will become synonymous with portable music players in the same way that ball point pens are mostly called biros and vacuum cleaners are mostly called Hoovers (although Dyson may take that crown in the long run)

Back in my schooldays inventors and innovators were old, dead or probably wearing a white coat in a secret nondescript lab somewhere in the world. This generation of innovators, inventors and geniuses (or should that be genii?) are much more visible. For example are there any of these names that you don’t recognise; Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg?

His life is also a lesson for those who focus on a formal qualification being the golden ticket to a successful career. Mr Jobs dropped out of college, did that stop him having a great career? I think not! In addition to the music related innovations that he was responsible for he also put a lot of money, time and effort into Pixar. So you could argue that he also helped to save Disney studios, who frankly would have been on their knees without Pixar.

Steve Jobs will be sadly missed. In my opinion whatever you may think of Apple from a corporate perspective it would be very difficult to argue that this wasn’t a truly great man. RIP Steve Jobs.

I have tried to think of the most appropriate music I could with which to mourn his passing and celebrate his life. I have chosen a few tracks from what the previously available Ping function on iTunes revealed as his favourite albums a few years ago. Enjoy and celebrate the life of a great man.

 

“When screaming fight the power, that’s when the vulture devoured” August 4, 2010


A few trinkets of music news for you today. Firstly Wyclef Jean off of the Fugees seems likely to run for the presidency of Haiti in November. He has until 7th August to register. Although he now lives in Brooklyn he has always been fiercely proud of his Haitian roots. He was very prominent in supporting his fellow countrymen following the devastating earthquake in January. Personally I hope that he runs and wins the election, I suspect that he will be a breath of fresh air to politics. Read the story on the BBC by clicking here

The dress code in the Haitian Parliament was clearly far more relaxed than in Britain

It got me thinking about who we’d like to see enter politics from the music world. Clearly Bono would like to be considered, but whilst I am a U2 fan, Bono can be bloody annoying at times. I can think of a number of dead stars who might have made an interesting career in politics; John Lennon, Bob Marley and obviously Screaming Lord Sutch, who did partake very regularly in UK elections. He was also the longest-serving party leader in British politics I believe. He created and led the Monster Raving Looney Party for many years. Alice Cooper famously stood against Nixon as an independent candidate in the 1972 US elections. I think of living stars Paul Weller, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Jackson Browne would be good. What do you think?

In other news Lady GaGa has been nominated for a record 13 MTV Video Music Awards, next in line Eminem has just 8 nominations. GaGa is never short of a good quote and she didn’t let us down here either, having said that she was pleased that her number of nominations was an unlucky 13 she went on to say “God put me on Earth for three reasons – to make loud music, gay videos and make a damn ruckus!” I love that one! Read the story here on the BBC site, the awards themselves take place on 12th September in LA.

Sometimes GaGa just couldn’t be bothered with all the fancy dresses or maybe she was covering the Cranberries song “Linger(ie)”

In a separate story Lady GaGa has admitted to Vanity Fair magazine that she is an occasional user of cocaine. She also pointed out that she did not want her fans to take the drug. Maybe I’m a bit simple here, but if you don’t want the more gullible of your fans to do the drugs you do, then maybe not telling them might help! The BBC has the lowdown on that story, click here

Lady GaGa was so rich she could now afford to employ her own commode-bearer

 

“Like a cat in a bag, waiting to drown, this time I’m coming down” August 17, 2009


Hello once again dear readers. I haven’t posted for a while but this week’s furore over the NHS drew me back to the keyboard. Essentially many right wing politicians in the US who clearly don’t understand Obama’s health reforms have been scaremongering by pointing out the terrible state of the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. Many of the comparisons they have made between US Healthcare and the NHS are at best inaccurate and at worst outright fabrication! The argument was then compounded by a complete twat (copyright Dave Cameron) of a Tory MEP garnering himself an appearance on US TV to criticise the NHS. Before you wade into this debate from an American point of view I would suggest that you complete just a modicum of research. Firstly read this article from the Guardian which answers a number of the points raised by Republican politicians, click here to read it.

You should also watch Michael Moore’s movie “Sicko” which offers a brilliant comparison of US versus European Healthcare. But then if you’re a right wing politician in the US you certainly won’t watch anything from Michael Moore will you? Wasn’t the best right wing criticism of Moore a couple of years ago that he was a rich, fat, white man? Hold on a cotton picking minute here, that description could apply to many Republican politicians as well surely.

Also for those of you who fell for the argument that Stephen Hawking would not have survived if he had not been American. He is British, his voice box happens to have an American accent! He himself has said that he would not be here if it wasn’t for the NHS.

In my opinion the NHS does a fantastic job. If I were to fall ill in the UK I know I would be treated regardless of whether I have health insurance. That would not be the case in the US. Millions of people in the US are unable to afford private healthcare. If we consider ourselves part of a caring society we should not even consider leaving these people outside the system!

The doctors and nurses from the NHS that treated my father before he died from Lung Cancer back in 2001 did a fantastic job. I have a friend who is an A & E nurse in the north, you would be hard pressed to find a more dedicated healthcare professional. The NHS like any large organisation is not perfect, however before you jump to conclusions get your facts right!

OK rant over, this is essentially a music blog after all and I thought I’d link to a few medical related songs to tie in. I hope you like them! Oh and as usual there is a tidbit of trivia for each one!

Doctor Doctor” – Thompson Twins. Did you know that no one in the band was called Thompson? In fact they took their name from the two detectives in Herge’s Adventures Of Tin Tin. I’m looking forward to the movie adaptation of that, are you? Is it true that along with Poirot, Tin Tin is the only other famous Belgian ever? If any Belgians are reading this please add a comment to put me right, name some famous Belgians that aren’t fictional characters

Belgian? This looks like two British MPs on holiday to me

Belgian? This looks like two British MPs on holiday to me

The Medicine Song” – Stephanie Mills. Stephanie was married to Jeffrey Daniel off of Shalamar for a short period. Jeffrey is the man who taught Michael Jackson to Moonwalk and Stephanie was also romantically linked to Jacko when they appeared together in the late 70s adaptation of the Wizard of Oz called the Wiz! Now that’s what I call a link!

See Jacko really did used to be just an ordinary black kid (with an extraordinary talent though!)

See Jacko really did used to be just an ordinary black kid (with an extraordinary talent though!)

Night Nurse” – Gregory Isaacs. The Cool Ruler in my opinion had the potential to be a third world superstar along the lines of Bob Marley. However it was the lines that put paid to it, Gregory had a serious cocaine addiction which badly affected his voice at times and also caused the loss of most of his teeth.

Gregory wears a hat like that and looks cool, if I wore a hat like that I'd look like a twat (copyright Dangerous Dave Cameron)

Gregory wears a hat like that and looks cool, if I wore a hat like that I'd look like a twat (copyright Dangerous Dave Cameron)

Knocking On Heaven’s Door” – Bob Dylan. Mr Zimmerman wrote this song for the soundtrack of the 1973 film ‘Pat Garrett an Billy the Kid” and it is one of his most covered songs. Perhaps the best known covers are from Eric Clapton and Guns ‘N’ Roses although let’s not forget that Ruth Lorenzo also covered it on X Factor. On second thoughts let’s forget! 

Bob seems to have taken Johnny Cash's advice and is trying to steal a car one piece at a time

Bob seems to have taken Johnny Cash's advice and is trying to steal a car one piece at a time

Sexual Healing” – Marvin Gaye. Following my earlier comments about Belgium I should point out that this song was in fact recorded in Ostend in Belgium! It has also been covered by many people from Phish to Kate Bush. Click here to hear Kate’s wonderful version.

Marvin auditions for the Village People with the YMCA dance

Marvin auditions for the Village People with the YMCA dance

The Drugs Don’t Work” – The Verve. This song gave the band their first UK number one single. At various times Richard Ashcroft has said that the song is about his addiction, the death of his father or his love for his wife.

The drugs don't work? Indeed boys, indeed! ;-)

The drugs don't work? Indeed boys, indeed! 😉

Heal The Pain” – George Michael. My favourite George Michael album is ‘Patience’ (I guess that kind of fits with the medical theme too…………. think about it!) One of the tracks from the album caused a great deal of controversy when the video was released. The track was “Shoot The Dog” and it showed Tony Blair as George W Bush’s poodle. Hmmmmmm so what’s wrong with that then, it was true wasn’t it? Click on the song title to check out the video and make up your own mind. Incidentally there might be a prize for the first person to tell me which song George samples on the track

George heals the pain (well I think that's what he's doing) of the other bloke off of Wham

George heals the pain (well I think that's what he's doing) of the other bloke off of Wham

Doctor My Eyes” – Jackson Browne. This song has been covered a few times, most notably by the Jackson 5 in 1973, click here to hear their version. Jackson Browne himself recently won his case against John McCain and the Republican party for using his song “Running On Empty” without his permission.

So no chance of John McCain getting through that door then, thankfully!

So no chance of John McCain getting through that door then, thankfully!

Bad Medicine” – Bon Jovi. Jon BonJovi played in a band called Raze at school and later he went on to play in a covers band called Atlantic City Expressway. Also when he first left school he worked in a women’s shoe shop. Is that a fetish thing maybe?

Jon's hair transplant was a moderate success, he had wanted more on his head really. Oh nad please, no searches for naked Jon BonJovi as a result of this picture ok?

Jon's hair transplant was a moderate success, he had wanted more on his head really. Oh nad please, no searches for naked Jon BonJovi as a result of this picture ok?

Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors” – Editors. The video was shot around Prague in the Czech Republic. The band were once named as the second biggest band of the decade by the Mail On Sunday. Actually I’m not sure that’s an accolade I’d want! Incidentally those cheeky chappies from Sheffield, the Arctic Monkeys were first

The band just before they were eaten by Triffids

The band just before they were eaten by Triffids

 

 
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