OK it’s a big day for all my UK readers, yes it’s General Election Day. I would like to urge you to turn up and vote and if you were thinking of sitting on your arse and not voting please think again. Spoil your paper if you believe that is your only option but make sure you turn up to vote. A couple of months ago I was in the depths of apathy about the election, I am pleased to say that I am no longer there. I will be voting to rid us of the current regime.
It is not for me to tell you who to vote for but may I suggest that you ask yourself the question can you really and honestly be prepared to put up with another five years of Tory rule? I certainly can’t. So vote for whoever you like but if you’re undecided then avoid the Tories and UKIP like the plague!
OK this is essentially a music blog so here is a, hopefully appropriate, song from the Style Council. Enjoy it and then get out there and bloody well vote!
XFM listeners recently took part in a poll to name the greatest front man of all time. So many great blokes to choose from and they went for Liam Gallagher. Now don’t get me wrong Liam has been very good in the past, particularly in the early days of Oasis, but the greatest front man of all time? I don’t think so. The full top 20 was;
this man is a Knight of the Realm................ no seriously, he is!
I think it would be fair to say that there is one area of my life that my Mother may be disappointed in me. That is my dislike of the institution of the British Royal family and all condescending pomposity it has. Yes in case you hadn’t noticed I am very much a Republican (not in the US political sense obviously) and most definitely not a Royalist. Having posted recently about Mick Jagger (aka Sir Michael Philip Jagger) turning down afternoon tea with ‘Call Me Dave’ Cameron and Boris Johnson it’s strangely appropriate that a story about those who turned down Royal Honours appeared in the news today. Following a freedom of information request by the BBC a list of those now deceased who have turned down various Royal Honours form 1951 and 1999 has been published. There are 277 people on the list including artists Henry Moore, Francis Bacon and LS Lowry and authors Roald Dahl and Aldous Huxley. There are no rock or pop stars on the list. Read the full story on the BBC site by clicking here.
Sir Tom shows off his first house
However it got me thinking about those rock and pop stars who have accepted honours and those that haven’t. The obvious list of those who have are the rock and pop ‘Sirs’ Paul McCartney, Cliff Richard, Elton John, Mick Jagger, Tom Jones and Bono and Bob Geldof who as Irish citizens are Honorary Knights of the British Empire (KBE). Add to that list Dame Shirley Bassey. A large number of British musicians have received the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), which is the highest honour a British subject can receive below a knighthood or damehood. Those include: Annie Lennox, Roger Daltrey, Eric Clapton, Sting, Robert Plant the Bee Gees and Rod Stewart. It was alleged that at the time of Elton receiving his knighthood Rod was just a little jealous.
Macca ponders his failure to win top score in Rate My Mullet
What really interests me though are those rock and pop stars who turned down Royal honours. David Bowie turned down a CBE in 2000 and a knighthood in 2003 and was quoted as saying that “was not what he spent his life working for”. George Melly and Paul Weller also turned down the offer of a CBE in 2001 and 2007 respectively. Thankfully Keith Richards also turned down a CBE; I’d have been gutted if he had accepted! His comment on Jagger’s knighthood was that he felt it was ludicrous. Influential guitarist and stalwart of the Shadows Hank Marvin turned down an OBE as did Dub Poet Benjamin Zephaniah. At the time Zephaniah publicly stated ‘I get angry when I hear the word ’empire’; it reminds me of slavery, it reminds me of thousands of years of brutality, it reminds me of how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalised’ An MBE was offered to John Lydon who turned it down. I’m pretty amazed that they offered him one really.
Never a Knight of the realm but the only one who came close to looking the part as opposed to looking like an anagram of part
The four Beatles all received the MBE in 1965. John Lennon later returned his to the Queen in 1969 accompanied by a note which read ‘I am returning this MBE in protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam, and against Cold Turkey slipping down the charts’. It has been alleged that his Aunt Mimi who brought him up and upon whose mantelpiece the award lived was not amused!
Getting closer to the big day by the hour now and behind one of the few remaining perforated cardboard door flaps on my UK Christmas Number Ones Advent Calendar today, December 23rd, is a song that has been the Christmas number one on three separate occasions and technically by different acts each time. It was number one firstly in the Christmas of 1984, then in 1989 and most recently in 2004. It was the last UK Christmas number one before the X Factor winners had four years in a row, finally broken last year by Rage Against The Machine. You have probably guessed that the song is “Do They Know It’s Christmas” originally by Band Aid in 1984, then Band Aid II (1989) followed by Band Aid 20 (2004). Maybe it’ll be top again for the 30th anniversary in 2014.
It was number one fora total of 12 weeks; 5 weeks in 1984, 3 weeks in 1989 and 4 weeks in 2004. The song was written by Bob Geldof off of the Boomtown Rats and Midge Ure off of Ultravox after they had seen the news coverage of the 1984 famine in Ethiopia. They had aimed to raise money for famine relief and the single and subsequent Live Aid concert probably went way beyond their initial expectations. It sold more than a million copies in its first week alone and went on to sell 3.5 million copies. It remained the fastest and highest selling UK single until Elton John’s rerecording of “Candle In The Wind” following the death of Princess Diana in August 1997. The song was recorded on November 29th 1984 at SARM Studios in London after Geldof gathered the great and good of pop music at the time. The opening line was originally written for David Bowie, who was unfortunately unable to make it, so it was done by Paul Young. The single was released just 4 days after the recording on December 3rd 1984 and remember this was way before the days of downloads.
Midge Ure produced the original version, it was offered to Trevor Horn but he was not in the UK at the time. Stock, Aitken and Waterman produced the 1989 version. Some artists such as David Bowie and Paul McCartney were unable to be at the recording of the original so provided messages that appeared on the B-Side. Members of Bananarama appeared on the 1984 and 1989 version whilst Bono sang the same line in 1984 as he did in 2004; ‘Well, tonight, thank God it’s them, instead of you’. On the 2004 version Dizzee Rascal also added some new lyrics.
The artists that appeared on each version are listed below;
BAND AID (1984)
Bono, U2, Phil Collins, Bob Geldof, Boomtown Rats, Tony Hadley, Spandau Ballet, Midge Ure, Ultravox, Simon Le Bon, Duran Duran, Paul Young, Heaven 17, Marilyn, Bananarama, Jody Watley, Paul Weller, Kool & The Gang, George Michael , Status Quo, Boy George, Culture Club, Sting, Holly Johnson, Big Country
BAND AID II (1989)
Bananarama, Big Fun, Bros, Cathy Dennis, D Mob, Jason Donovan, Kevin Godley, Glen Goldsmith, Kylie Minogue, Pasadenas, Chris Rea, Cliff Richard, Jimmy Somerville, Sonia, Lisa Stansfield, Technotronic, Wet Wet Wet
BAND AID 20 (2004)
Bono, Daniel Bedingfield, Natasha Bedingfield, Vishal Das, Busted, Chris Martin, Dido, Dizzee Rascal, Ms Dynamite, Skye Edwards, Estelle, Neil Hannon, Justin Hawkins, Jamelia, Tom Chaplin, Tim Rice-Oxley, Beverley Knight, Lemar, Shaznay Lewis, Katie Melua, Róisín Murphy, Feeder, Snow Patrol, Rachel Stevens, Joss Stone, Sugababes, Thrills, Turin Brakes, Robbie Williams, Will Young, Francis Healy, Danny Goffey, Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Paul McCartney, Francis Healy, Andy Dunlop, Dougie Payne
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Is this country finally waking up? Are the downtrodden finally kicking back? Are those that consider themselves middle class no longer ignoring the obvious? Are our students finally in control of their rebellious gene? Let’s hope so! This week saw more than 50,000 people on the streets of London to protest at the raising of student fees. This follows protests about the schools building programme cuts in July, another anti cuts rally in Sheffield last month and the occupation of an RBS bank last week. OK I know the Daily Mail readers out there will be getting all sanctimonious about the violence and to a large extent I agree. (Yep me agreeing with a Daily Mail opinion, fucking hell am I getting old?) I do not condone violence of any kind and I truly believe that this was caused by just a small minority as is often the case.
With Nick Laurel and Dave Hardy at the wheel we can't go wrong....... can we?
Bear in mind that these protests have all taken place before the coalition cuts have begun to bite, so I think things will get much worse before they get better. Just look at the housing benefit plans, sure a great way of saving money in the short-term, but with private rents rising far quicker than the government are predicting a recipe for disaster. If it goes to plan it will lead to an exodus of people from London as they can no longer afford to live there. Where will that exodus take them? Why probably into all the areas in the country where there will be no jobs! Now that really makes sense doesn’t it? I do not disagree that cuts are needed in expenditure but there are far better ways of doing it. Over a longer period, with more considered plans etc.
Cameron prepares to throw the baby out with the bathwater
As for those of you that aspire to be or consider yourselves to be middle class, get over it! There are two classes in this country; the filthy rich and the rest of us! Just remember that the current cabinet contains 18 millionaires among its members. These are the people who believe they are leading the country, a mistake which many politicians make (Thatcher, Blair and more). They do not lead us, they serve us and it would be wise of them to remember this.
Clearly this picture proves that Nick Clegg has been David Cameron's ventriloquist dummy all along
I do not believe that this government will see out its full term and therefore we will have the opportunity to voice our opinions through the ballot box again. When the time comes do not bow to apathy, get off your arse and vote. Let’s show the politicians whose country this really is. Anyway, rant over and let me get back to the music. Obviously I have chosen some appropriate stuff for you!
“White Riot” – The Clash. The song is not about race war as many pundits suggested at the time. According to Joe Strummer it is in fact a call to arms of the white youth of Britain to riot against things that were oppressing them in the same way that black youth in the 70s did.
“Let’s Start A Riot” – Three Days Grace. These guys are an Alternative Canadian band who released their 3rd album, ‘Life Starts Here’ last year.
“Panic” – The Smiths This Morrissey/ Marr composition is not really about social unrest, it’s actually about the poor state of pop music at the time. But frankly it still fits on both levels. It was the first Smiths single to feature new member Craig Gannon.
“Walls Come Tumbling Down” – Style Council This is a superb attack on those that govern and I love it. Weller often gets criticised for the Style Council, but I think they were far better than the press thought they were. This song reached number 7 in the UK charts.
“Another Brick In The Wall” – Roger Waters The Wall album is seen by many as close to being Roger Waters solo album. This video is from his current tour playing The Wall in its entirety.
“Going Underground” – The Jam. This song did not feature on any of the bands studio albums although it has been on most Jam compilations. I almost took the title for this post from the song. The couplet, “their lies let you down and their promises rust” would have worked well. This went straight into the UK charts at number 1.
“I Predict A Riot” – Kaiser Chiefs Formed in Leeds in 1997 the band took their name from a South African football team; the Kaizer Chiefs. The band are Leeds United supporters and former Leeds player Lucas Radebe used to play for the Kaizer Chiefs.
“Fight The Power” – Isley Brothers. Written by Ernie Isley this is a really funky protest song. Public Enemy were inspired by it a few years later.
“You Haven’t Done Nothing” – Stevie Wonder This clip appears to be taken from the Andy Williams show. It’s an excellent piece of protest from Mr Wonder. Did you know that the backing vocals on the original studio version were recorded by Motown stablemates at the time, the Jackson 5.
I do worry sometimes that Jedward may be a little more intelligent than Nivid or Dick
Hello again folks, well it looks like the ‘Lily Allen Naked’ experiment didn’t work. There were twice as many views yesterday than normal, but most of these were views of the gig review I posted in addition to yesterdays usual post. So I guess that means gig reviews and fart jokes can impact the views on this blog but the suggestion of a picture of Lily Allen naked can’t. So does that conclude the ‘Lily Allen naked’ experiment? Maybe it does except to say that we might possibly go for a ‘Lily Allen naked experiment at a future date. Although the fact that this paragraph now contains the phrase ‘Lily Allen naked’ five times might make a difference for today. Confused? I’m not surprised!
So on with the show, kicking off with a couple of birthdays. First up for February 25th is that it would have been the 66th birthday of the late great (still there aren’t they those old l’s and g’s) George Harrison the youngest of the Fab Four. Sadly though he succumbed to cancer on 29th November 2001. George wasn’t the first Beatle to release solo material, that was Paul McCartney, however George was the first to release an album on the Beatles Apple label with “Wonderwall Music” the soundtrack to the film ‘Wonderwall’. This also went on to become the title of one of the top Beatles tribute bands Oasis’ songs “Wonderwall”. If anyone has any idea what a Wonderwall is please send your answers on a postcard, or more preferably in the blog comments facility. There may even be a small prize available for the best answer! George was also the first Beatle to have a solo number one with “My Sweet Lord”. The story of the plagiarism legal battle he faced from the writers of the Chiffons “He’s So Fine” over “My Sweet Lord” is well documented so I won’t dwell on that here. However a little known fact about the song is that Harrison originally gave it to Billy Preston and in fact it was lined up as a potential single for Mr Preston. Seen as a more ‘junior’ writer within the Beatles Harrison had also originally given the wonderful “Something” to Joe Cocker before the moptops recorded it for the Abbey Road album.
George wondered how long it would be before John and Paul would let him play with a big boys guitar
Incidentally “Something” was written about George’s wife Patti who later went on to marry his friend Eric Clapton. Clapton wrote both “Layla” and “Wonderful Tonight” for Patti. This must make her the only person to have so many classic songs written especially for her surely? In spite of the fact that Patti left George for Eric the guys stayed great friends right up to Harrisons death.
In the 60s George really took Flower Power to extremes
In 1974 Harrison set up his own label ‘Dark Horse’ it’s first signings were Ravi Shankar and the band ‘Splinter’. Apart from Harrison himself the only act to have a hit on ‘Dark Horse’ were Splinter who charted with the song “Costafine Town“. Have a listen to it, I think it’s aged quite well, what do you think? George produced two Splinter albums under the not well disguised name Hari Georgeson. This became the name that the NME used for him throughout the 70s too
George soon realised that what he thought was just a frog in the throat was in fact far more serious
The last of todays birthdays is that of Stuart “Woody” Wood of the Bay City Rollers, it’s his 52nd birthday. The band had been around for a while before Stuart joined in January 1973, the same time as lead singer Les McKeown joined the group. The band’s rise to the heights of ‘Rollermania’ began in 1974 with “Remember (Sha La La)” and peaked in the UK in 1975 with their two number ones “Bye Bye Baby” and “Give A Little Love”. They also hit the top spot in January 1976 in the US with “Saturday Night”. Most of their sings were either covers or written for them by Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, however in December 1975 they had a hit with “Money Honey” which was written by Stuart Wood and fellow Roller Eric Faulkner
Woody was sure he had requested a mirrored ceiling, but decided he'd have to put up with a mirrored floor instead
On this day in 1963 saw the first release of a Beatles single in the USA when “Please, Please Me” was issued on the Vee Jay label. I would imagine that a copy of this single might be quite valuable, largely because the name of the band was spelled wrong as the Beattles. The boys went on to capture all the top 5 places in the US singles chart for one week in 1964
How things might have looked if the Beatles had arrived in a more modern age
And (almost) finally for today the Jam signed a £6,000 contract with Polydor Records.The band (Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler) came together at school in Surrey and went on to play chart and r & b covers across pubs and working men clubs across Surrey and surrounding area. As punk began to break in 1976 they rode the wave like many others, but were never really a punk band in my opinion, a great band nonetheless. They started to get gigs at the Marquee and the 100 Club in London and in 1976 they auditioned for Terry Slater of EMI and were turned down. Perhaps not on the scale of Decca turning down the Beatles but still a big mistake. Their audition for Polydor’s Chris Parry came about after Chris was urged to see them by one Shane McGowan, then leading the ‘Nipple Erectors’ but later more well known as front man of the Pogues. They were a part of the Clash’s short lived ‘White Riot’ tour in 1976 but left following an argument with the headliners. It took them just 11 days to record their first album on which all the songs were written by Paul Weller who was just 19 at the time. Their first single was the album’s title track “In The City” Click the song title to see the band performing the song at the 100 Club in Oxford Street in 1977. Weller disbanded the group in 1982 to follow a new direction with the Style Council and then later to massive solo success. Breaking a great band up at the height of their success may have seemed like the wrong thing to do at the time, but it certainly never harmed Mr Weller’s career. Buckler and Foxton now tour as what in my opinion are little more than a tribute band ‘From The Jam’
Paul and Bruce practice for their advanced guitar Ninja exams
Catwoman and I saw Paul Weller at the Manchester MEN Arena last year and he was fantastic, he even included a few Jam and Style Council songs in his set. If you haven’t heard his current album ‘22 Dreams‘ shame on you. Go and rectify that issue NOW! In the meantime click on the album title to hear a BBC4 sessions version of the title song
paul steadfastly refused to wear a red nose, even for Comic Relief!
And finally finally, now I really mean finally this time! Here is probably the most infectious and annoying clip I have seen for ages, it’s a cat dancing to the “Peanut Butter, Jelly Song” just play it once and it will stick in your head for hours!