A) for the planet’s sake, and B) just to survive, the Left needs to get ‘generic’

The status quo risks the destruction of our species and the ecosystem all life relies on
The status quo risks the destruction of our species and the ecosystem all life relies on

The blogosphere reverberates with people self-importantly telling each other what ‘the Left’ should be doing. What the world and her springer spaniel are clearly crying out for, then, is another deeply unpopular, laughably unlikely ramshackle leftist strategy, hastily rammed in the virtual left-wing suggestion box and probably never seen again. The Bemolution lives to serve.

The Left should radically and unsentimentally revamp itself, turning what is all too often a fossilised remnant of the early twentieth century into something specifically addressing the social, political and ecological here and now. It should drop the blinkered obsession with past ideological battles. Instead, it needs to hammer itself back into contemporary relevance, going back to first principles and relating them afresh to the way the world is today.

Ecological crisis looms, providing humanity with the biggest threat to its continued existence in thousands of years. Faced with probable environmental disaster, caused for the most part by the growth-obsession and chronic waste of a culture skewed in the interests of the scandalously wealthy, we need to radically reshape civilisation and make our species live within its means. A system that has already used and abused millions of individual homo sapiens as disposable tools for enriching tiny minorities, along with squandering the potential of millions more by dismissing them as stupid and/or leaving them to flounder in poverty, is now well on the way to ravaging the planet beyond the point of no return. Continue reading “A) for the planet’s sake, and B) just to survive, the Left needs to get ‘generic’”

Tupelo (NIck Cave & The Bad Seeds)

Another stand-out from Nick Cave’s bludgeoning Sunday night spot at this year’s Glastonbury. ‘Tupelo’ takes the birth of one Elvis Aaron Presley and turns it into an apocalyptic, rain-lashed, pseudo-Biblical event. It shows Cave the lyricist at both his most poetic and his most direct: take, for example, the simple but infinitely pleasing ‘in a clapboard shack with a roof of tin/the rain came down and it leaked within’. Ominous and rumbling, it shook the Pyramid Stage with a unholy fury that put Mick n’ Keef the previous night to shame.

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.

Let Us Go Into The House of The Lord (John McLaughlin & Carlos Santana)

Essentially just a vibrant, euphoric guitar jam between Yorkshire’s foremost Indian mystic John McLaughlin and Mexican-American six-string sensation Carlos Santana, 1973’s Love, Devotion, Surrender album was recorded when both men were devotees of guru Sri Chinmoy. On their exultant arrangement of the ‘Let Us Go Into The House Of The Lord’ McLaughlin burbles ecstatically like a convert mid-revelation, while Santana, buoyed by cantering bongos, frolics and trills like a psychedelic hummingbird.

Drowning Witch (Frank Zappa)

A 1982 Frank Zappa album mostly composed of inconsequential novelty songs had as its sprawling centrepiece a burbling odyssey into oddity that ranks among the strangest, wildest, most complicated tracks he ever produced. ‘Drowning Witch’ represented the work of its creator quite well – throw-away humour collides with baffling musical complexity, as high-art quotations from Stravinsky jostle for position with extracts ripped from the Dragnet theme.

What starts out as a jaunty and, for Zappa, conventional rock song observing the fate of the titular sinking hag accelerates into 10 minutes plus of demented classical interlude evoking her plight. If there was an award given for Most Sinister-Sounding Use Of Marimba In A Rock Record 1982, it would’ve been scandalous if this didn’t win it. Perilous marimba-clatter makes way for the aquatic splutter of Zappa’s guitar*, which sounds as much like a flailing witch fighting to keep above water as a guitar solo ever can do.

By way of an additional indulgence/Zappa showcase, here’s a completely different solo taken from a live show in the same year – it’s a manic, wailing, yet somehow quite stately piece lamenting the fate of our stricken harridan. And in our overactive man-child imagination at least, is translated into a strange slow-motion mental music video of Zappa sternly watching from the prow of a naval vessel as it ploughs towards the thrashing witch, but getting there too late to save anything except her hat.

*strangely, an instrument built from the remnants of a Fender Stratocaster played then torched onstage by Jimi Hendrix at the ’68 Miami Pop Festival