Irving Berlin’s ode to synchronised movement-excused physical intimacy, made famous by its appearance in the 1935 Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers vehicle Top Hat. Astaire’s version is a gently huffing confection, eventually named the number one hit of the year if you can believe such a thing existed in 1935.
Last time around, the Bemolution ended up trying to articulate its own slightly garbled political position almost by accident, in amongst saying lots of pessimistic things about the state of the political Left more broadly.
The aim, as almost always, was to make the case for a major revamp of left-wing politics – a modern reincarnation of classic leftist ideals that’s inclusive, non-dogmatic, and not tangled up in the baffling ideological splits and squabbles of the previous century.
This was deemed necessary because of the terrifying likelihood of radical politics otherwise sinking without trace, right at the point in human history where, as we obliviously barrel towards environmental annihilation, it’s needed more urgently than ever.
The Bemolution then had the crazed idea that we might’ve been on to something, and that by talking about our own moderately deranged political position we could counter-intuitively help make that case – proving even a worldview as strange and head-scratchingly obscure as ours fits in the same left-wing box as a lot of more orthodox radical politics. Continue reading
When Paul Weller dissolved the Jam and started the Style Council, the death-defying stylistic leap was one many of his hard-core adherents would never forgive. The Jam were coarse and self-consciously proletarian, Weller’s rasping bark venting the frustrated ire of his generation. All this urban grit and rage and salt-of-the-earth authenticity, so one hoary old interpretation would have it, was sandblasted away when the Modfather capitulated, gave in to the silky, vacant sheen of yuppie-era consumerism and was swallowed up by the anodyne lift-muzak that scored that Thatcher decade. Obviously, this was an extremely selective oversimplification. Politically at least, Weller had done anything but sell out. It was The Jam, it’s very worth remembering, that started out being vocally Conservative, had voted for Thatcher in 1979, and patriotically draped themselves in the Union Jack – albeit in a calculated move to distinguish themselves from the legions of anti-establishment punk acts stomping around at the time. Continue reading
It’s hardly a secret that the Bemolution’s boundary-breaking artiste of choice is the late Frank Zappa. This isn’t just because of his music. Politically, Zappa was often hard to like. He was a self-described ‘practical conservative’, a socially permissive economic libertarian who fumed at unions, taxation and big government even while launching scabrous assaults on religious fundamentalism, censorship and corporate dominance of politics and the media. He hated dumb conformism above all else, but wasn’t above wince-inducing misogyny and the kind of knuckleheaded playground humour that finds anything ‘gay’ uproariously funny. As wildly individual a product as Zappa undoubtedly was, he was still a product of his era. But it’s as a ferociously critical thinker that he remains stirringly relevant. In this interview from the late 80s he holds forth on how the Right – the big capitalist, fundamentalist Christian Right – was manipulating the media. The Bemolution is always reminded of this clip whenever right-wingers complain about the BBC’s supposed leftist bias. He might’ve been more secular Ron Paul than Noam Chomsky, but he was bang on back then and, depressingly, still bang on twenty years after his death.
And since it would be criminal to bring up Zappa without aural accompaniment, here’s a hallowed recording from a 1973 performance of ‘Montana’ filmed for Swedish TV.