Robert Fripp Hasn’t Retired (King Crimson)

Early this year, Robert Fripp appeared to retire. This week, he’s announced that King Crimson are reforming, his protracted legal wrangles with Universal Group apparently resolved, which is all very surprising. We’ve never been all that fond of King Crimson, preferring Fripp’s less forbidding collaborations with other artists, and this isn’t likely to change by the sound of what’s been released about the band’s latest configuration. One-time Zappa sideman, Talking Heads dynamo and impressionistic guitar wizard Adrian Belew is out, which is a shame, because for thirty years he’s been Crimson’s bouncily enthusiastic human face. He’s been replaced by three drummers – interesting in theory, but not the nicest thing to listen to either. But never mind – it provides a decent enough excuse to showcase ‘Elephant Talk’, Crimson at its campest, silliest, and most accessible, mostly thanks to Mr Belew, here resplendent in pink. This video also documents one of the Halley’s Comet occurrences when Robert Fripp actually smiles on stage.

Oh, and go on then – the rather more geriatric early 2000s version too.

For some annoying reason, if you want to actually watch the video bit of a WordPress-embedded YouTube video rather just hear the audio, you have to either watch it fullscreen or click to watch it on YouTube itself.

Ed Miliband Did A Speech

Ed

Ed

The commentariat might have obsessed over it past the point of self-parody, but Ed Miliband’s Labour Conference speech wasn’t too bad. He’s already said that New Labour is over. In Brighton last week, he seemed to ever-so-tentatively hint that his party’s wholesale embrace of free market capitalism might not have been the best idea either.

As crabbily essayed last post, the modern party conference is a soulless and undemocratic PR exercise, the grim pinnacle of our cultural fixation with the over-hyped individuals with whom the buck stops rather than actual political substance. There’s something faintly repulsive about the stage-managed spectacle of it when you watch it on TV – the wrist-dislocating vigour of the Chinese Communist Party-style applause, the gun-to-the-back-of-your-head grin-grimace of the Labour Party celebrities sat in the front row, the no-doubt obsessively vetted panoply of faces sat on stage behind the Dear Leader for no other reason than to create an adoring tableau of party unity. Continue reading

Party Conferences Are Fairly Meaningless

party conferenceIt’s that time of year when arch-politicos and the commentariat take to the provinces to splash around in our puddle-shallow political mainstream.

Radically, party conference season involves the Westminster set actually leaving London, which must lead to many sleepless nights beforehand wondering whether mochas and running water have spread beyond the M25. For everyone else, the abiding question should probably be how so much time, money and media coverage can be blown on events where no-one really says anything.

Last week, the Labour Party – or at least the bits of it that could spare the £100 entrance fee – met in Brighton. This week, the Conservatives are congregating in Manchester.

The Tory Conference is unlikely to tell us anything we didn’t already know. Thanks to the kind of journalists who take DWP press releases as unassailable fact and churn out televisual variations on the theme ‘Why Are You Scrounging On Benefits, You Feckless Scroungers?’, we already bask in borderline-sociopathic Cameron-rays every day of the week. Labour might well be a neoliberalised sham of its former self, but at least hearing from Ed Miliband and co makes for a bit of a change. Continue reading

Catch my (frighteningly hard right) drift

Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage

Britain’s Rightward slide continues apace. The news media continues to jig to Nigel Farage’s tune. Grassroots Tories, clearly shaken as UKIP woos their core supporters, rowdily call for action from Downing Street. And with its assault on benefit claimants already plumbing new lows (taste, humanity, common decency), the government eagerly bolts Right to meet them on immigration too.

We’re living through a kind of social democratic End of Days. In a political culture that holds up Mrs Thatcher’s social blitzkrieg as the height of state-shrinking excess, people are struggling to comprehend that what the Coalition government is doing now is worse. Even hardened activists who fought Thatcherism in the 1980s can’t quite bring themselves to accept that the situation we’re facing today exceeds the one they tackled thirty years ago.

The Conservatives are trying to permanently end the convention whereby the rich pay for the upkeep of the less fortunate. By surreptitiously pulling apart what remains of the welfare state, they’re trying to drastically reduce what their descendants will have to shell out for in taxes. Existence-threatening cuts to the public sector mean that thousands of people are being ejected from secure, less profit-oriented jobs and forced into the private sector. Private sector workers, meanwhile, are forced to work harder, for longer, for less, with less job security – which guarantees bigger profits for the companies they work for, and bigger pay packets for the kind of rich Tory supporters that run them. Continue reading