Once again I have attended a gig at the York Barbican where the sound was not great quality. Maybe that has something to do with relocating the sound desk to the side of the stage and therefore behind the main audience speakers. The support band for this gig were General Roots, an excellent reggae band from London. Initially I put the sound down to just not allowing sound check for a support band, but I doubt that was the case. They did come across as a very talented band even with the poor sound production. The biggest impact on them was not being able to hear their MC Mr Minister. I particularly liked their songs “Special” and “Walk Tall”. My beautiful wife Catherine (a.k.a. Catwoman) also loved the latter.
Now i did have some misgivings about seeing the Specials with only three original members left (Terry, Lynval and Horace). I last saw them in around 1980 and I have always felt that Jerry Dammers was the real heart and drive behind the band and I was disappointed that he chose not to get involved in the reunion back in 2008. Dammers had a writing credit on the majority of Specials songs. Having seen them again for the first time in 36 years I don’t believe that this incarnation of the band is a patch on the original line up for the first two albums.
As with the support band the sound was not of great quality and at times lacked clarity and was a little ‘muddy’. They kicked off their set with “Ghost Town” which was probably their biggest hit based on chart positions around the world. It was also their second UK number one. It remains a great song but as the set progressed I felt like they had played their set list in reverse and in my opinion peaked (if indeed they did peak) much too soon. Terry Hall was by his own admission in a shitty mood and for me this was reflected in his sullen and at times spoilt brat performance. In my opinion I felt like we were watching an average Specials tribute band. There were some highlights, notably Steve Cradock who played to his usual high standards. Lynval’s acoustic rendition of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” was alright.
I know that many people will not share my opinion given by the volume of people who sang and danced the night away. But in my opinion this is a band that should not have reformed I think they are a very pale imitation of what they were, more like The Averages than The Specials. Sorry boys but that really wasn’t a great gig in my opinion, I gave it an hour before leaving but I doubt that myself and Catwoman will be coming to see you anytime soon.
Squeezing into that little box was easy, but Gordo, Dave and Nicky realised it was going to be bloody difficult to get out!
As I have said many times before this is ostensibly a music blog and therefore pretty much everything I write about gets taken in that direction. This post is no exception. Thursday 6th May sees another General Election in the UK, the 8th one that I have been eligible to vote at, having reached official voting age before the 1979 election.
If only it were true 🙂
I have never failed to cast my vote and I urge you to do the same. It is the apathetic voters that allow the extremists into power, we cannot let that happen with evil and deluded parties like the BNP. But this week those of us in the UK should also vote for change. I know that voting for change is somewhat of a cliché, however I believe that our first past the post system has now had its day. A system that would allow the party with fewer votes to win more seats in parliament is not right, is it?
Most of the fake posters for this election have been better than the real ones don't you think?
In many ways I don’t care who you vote for, but I do care that people actually get off their arse and use theirs. So don’t let the country down, let’s mobilise for a massive turnout!
While you consider who you vote for here are some alleged trivial facts about the leaders of the three main parties; Nick Clegg once set fire to a very rare cactus. Gordon Brown apparently eats nine bananas a day and David Cameron is a direct descendent of King William IV
As I said at the start this is not a vehicle to voice my political opinions, (well perhaps apart from my dislike of the BNP) it’s a music blog. So here are twenty political type songs for you to enjoy while watching the remaining election coverage this week. Enjoy! You can follow the election on the BBC or the Guardian(I will be). Oh and there is also a hidden track somewhere in this post, have you found it? The usual crap prize, subject to postage awaits the first person to tell me what it is and where it is!
Ball Of Confusion – Temptations. This song reminds me so much of my youth and for me is one of the greatest songs Norman Whitfield produced for the Temptations. There was also a pretty good cover produced for Tina Turner by Glenn Gregory and Martyn Ware off of the British Electric Foundation (BEF), also off of Heaven 17 and also once off of the Human League! Click here to listen to Tina’s version.
Elected – Alice Cooper. Probably one of my favourite Alice Cooper songs. Did you know he actually ran for the US Presidency in 1972? With a hook line of “They’re changing guards at President Palace, out goes Nixon and in comes Alice” Why I remember that line I don’t know, but it has been stuck in my head now for nearly 40 years! There was a cover of this song a few years ago in aid of Comic Relief which I believe was credited to Mr Bean and Bruce Dickinson off of Iron Maiden. Click here for that one!
Electioneering – Radiohead. Taken from the classic ‘OK Computer’ album and seen by many as one of the greatest political songs. It also takes a nice dig at the IMF too
Election Day – Arcadia. The Duran Duran offshoot that wasn’t the Power Station, well that’s my view. I would always prefer a band with Robert Palmer as vocalist rather than Simon Le Bon. Which one did you prefer?
The Politics Of Dancing – Re-Flex. In this list purely for the title! You know how low my opinion of most 80s stuff is! ‘Nuff said!
You Haven’t Done Nothing – Stevie Wonder. Now this is a superb song and so true of today’s politicians. If you listen carefully you can hear Stevie bringing the backing vocalists in when he says “Jackson Five come sing along” Yes, it was the Jackson clan providing the ‘doo do wops’ on this song
Abraham, Martin And John – Marvin Gaye. Motown really started to get politics in the late 60’s and early 70’s didn’t it, this was in advance of Marvin’s classic ‘What’s Going On’ album, more of which later. I believe that Dion off of Dion and the Belmonts also had a hit with this
Stand Down Margaret – The Beat. In the event her own party stood her down. Whilst I was really pleased that it happened it was pretty disloyal wasn’t it?
A Design For Life – Manic Street Preachers. For me the opening line says everything about when the working class really moved forward. “Libraries gave us power”
Police And Thieves – Clash. I will never tire of hearing this excellent cover of Junior Murvin’s brilliant song, oh and did I tell you that I consider the Clash to be the best band there has ever been? I did? I thought so
So Much Trouble In The World – Bob Marley And The Wailers. No political song list would be complete without Mr Marley in my opinion and there are so many good ones to choose from.
The President Wore Pearls – Lisa Simpson. What can I say about this? Lisa is trying to get elected but doesn’t think she will be cool enough
Anarchy For The UK – Sex Pistols. Well we may not have anarchy by Friday but we will probably have a hung parliament as opposed to some parliamentarians who should be hung. Duck islands and moats indeed!
Rocking In The Free World – Neil Young and Pearl Jam. Great combination which gives Mr Young extra added rock power, also a bloody good song too
Vote Baby Vote – Lady Kier off of Deee Lite. This was put together for an MTV special ‘Rock The Vote’ show, so it’s perhaps more a jingle than a song, but the message is very clear
I Wanna Grow Up To Be A Politician – Roger McGuinn off of the Byrds. I wonder if this is when politics became a career? I don’t know about you but the term career politician seems to be an oxymoron, with the emphasis on the moron bit for many of them!
Wake Up The Nation – Paul Weller. Is there no stopping this bloke? His last album ’22 Dreams’ was fantastic and the new one ‘Wake Up the Nation’ is even better in my opinion. Nice to hear him getting a tad angry too. How weird is it that Old Etonian David Cameron claims ‘Eton Rifles’ by the Jam as one of his favourite songs? Surely he can’t have listened to the lyrics can he?
Ghost Town – Specials. Reached number one at the height of Thatcher’s early years and amidst all the inner city rioting across the UK. It really summed up the nation at the time I think. It was the night the band performed this on Top Of The Pops that Terry Hall, Lynval Golding and Neville Staple told Jerry Dammers that they were leaving the band to form the Fun Boy Three. Whose first hit was, and still is, appropriate for politicians; “The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum”
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye. Taken from one of my favourite albums of all time and the lyrics and message are still sadly relevant today, nearly 40 years after it’s release
Arrogance, Ignorance And Greed – Show Of Hands. One of Catwoman’s favourite bands and she has got me into them too. The message on this one fits pretty well all modern politicians and perhaps bankers too. Most of them are arrogant, ignorant greedy bastards aren’t they?
OK let’s get back to normal (bloody hell I’m not really normal am I?) service for this post. Before the birthday and ‘onthisday’ stuff let me start by saying that I’ve really been hammering the Soft Toy Emergency CD that I picked up for free at the Fibbers gig the other night. It’s bloody brilliant! You MUST check these guys out.
Whilst I’m on the MUST check out vibe, here is yet another shameless plug for my son Luke’s rather excellent band, Steal The Smile. Click on the name to head to their MySpace page.
As a follow up to celebrities some of the readers may know or indeed have met and following the piece on Justin Hawkins in a recent post, check out this picture of Simon P with Mr Hawkins. Feel free to send in your own starstruck pics and I’ll be happy to include them here.
Simon picks up some nail varnish tips from Justin
Thank you to the wonderful people at Popbitch for this info but if you’re a Boy George fan and you’d like to write to him while he is banged up (oooo errrrr missus!) here is his new addresss; George O’Dowd, HMP – Edmunds Hill, Stradishall, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 9YN.
Popbitch also provided a link to this excellent clip of Ricky Gervais meeting Elmo, you have to watch it’s bloody funny
I also stole this musical related joke from Popbitch (and you’ll find the link to the Popbitch site in my favourite websites on the blog)
Q: What do you get when you cross Feargal Sharkey with Bernard Manning?
A: Racist undertones.
So onto just the one birthday for today, 19th March. It is the 50th birthday of Terry Hall off of the Specials (now reformed), Fun Boy Three, the Colourfield, Vegas and indeed solo. The Specials were originally known as the Coventry Automatics, Coventry being where the band originated from. As with so many excellent bands it was the late and very very great (very big l’s & g’s here) Mr John Peel who first played them on the radio. He played the rather excellent “Gangsters” on his show in early 1979. Hall left the Specials with Lynval Golding and Neville Staples to form the Fun Boy Three just after the massive success of “Ghost Town”. The Fun Boy Three also had two separate collaborations with Bananarama; “It Ain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It)” and “(He Was) Really Saying Something” It was of course the Specials, thanks to Jerry Dammers setting up Two Tone Records, that helped drive the late 70’s early 80’s ska revival forward. This was a great launch pad for many bands; Madness, the Beat (the English Beat in the US), the Selecter and many more. The Specials were invited to open for the Clash on the ‘On Parole’ Tour after Joe Strummer saw one of their gigs in 78/79. Here’s one for you fact fans, do you know who produced the first Specials album in 1979? No? well it was none other than Declan McManus better known as Elvis Costello. One of my favourite Specials songs is “Do Nothing” click the title to hear it and see it.
The Specials during their pole dancing period. The boys hadn't realised that it was supposed to be just one person at a time on the pole!
Sticking with the Specials for a moment or in fact I think it was the Special AKA, after Terry Hall had left. You may recall they released a song called “Free Nelson Mandela”. The week after the song was released there was an excellent letter in the NME. It was something like “I loved the Special AKA single so much that I bought it on the day of release. However I was extremely disappointed not to receive my free Nelson Mandela like it said on the cover” I wish that I had written that! Anyway here is the wonderful Amy Winehouse and a cast of thousands with an excellent version of “Free Nelson Mandela” from the Mandela Birthday Concert in Hyde Park last year.
A Pizza To You Rudy perhaps? I wonder if they received a free Nelson Mandela with that?
On this day in 1965 the ‘Tailor And Cutter’ magazine published an article asking the Rolling Stones to wear ties to save tie makers from financial ruin. What the bloody hell is that all about then. I’ve had to wear a tie for most of my working life and indeed at school too, which started before many of you readers were born. I’ve never enjoyed wearing a tie, I’ve never seen the point. let’s face it they don’t keep you warm or keep your shirt buttoned up. OK maybe they act as a bib or napkin for messy eaters. But seriously what is the point of tying a coloured piece of cloth around your neck. You may well wonder why I still do it, I have two words in my flimsy defence; peer pressure! Yeah it’s feeble isn’t it. OK then let’s have your tie comments please.
Clearly no one had told new boy Ronnie Wood about the no ties rule
On this day in 1976 the death of late great (here are those lovable l’s & g’s again) Paul Kossoff off of (now say that fast!) Free and Back Street Crawler and also the son of the excellent actor David Kossoff. He died of heart failure whilst on a flight from LA to New York aged just 25. He had a long history of drug abuse. Kossoff was with Free from 1968 to 1973, appearing on their final album and also one of my favourite albums of all time ‘Heartbreaker’ Although the band actually broke up for a few months during 71/72. When the band formed in 1968 their ages ranged from just 15 to a rather ancient 18. Kossoff was 17 at the time. Here are Free with the title track from the “Heartbreaker” album
That was either an enormous amp or Paul was very small