Barbarism Begins At Home (The Smiths)

After its year-long Bowie period, the Bemolution found a new musical obsession in the form of Mancunian indie sensations The Smiths. Then, after quickly burning through their back-catalogue, we moved on to solo work of the band’s perennially glum Thwomp-faced ex-frontman, Steven Patrick Morrissey.

Before long, though, we went through the same disillusioning rite of passage as a certain percentage of Smiths devotees. The band itself was magnificent, no question. But, we realised, Morrissey himself wasn’t some kind of musical messiah. In fact, he was just a vindictive narcissist who yes, was the finest, wittiest lyricist of his generation, but had also been churning out the same dreary album for two decades’-worth of solo career. Continue reading “Barbarism Begins At Home (The Smiths)”

The People With Too Much (Eugene Chadbourne)

Eugene Chadbourne albums habitually sound like they were recorded in a tin shed, and there’s a reasonable chance they were. That’s not a criticism. Septuagenarian drum-king Warren Smith provides pitter-pattering propulsion to Chadbourne’s fumbling banjo on ‘The People With Too Much’, the latter squeakily upbeat as he paints a prole’s-eye view of the mindless excess of the needlessly wealthy.

Oh dear: Growth, Mr Osborne and the ‘UK economy’s’ lovely recovery

Doing very nicely thank you very much
The City: doing very nicely thank you very much

The ‘UK recovery’ isn’t really the UK’s at all – it’s the richest 10%’s, and represents the revival of the kind of grossly unequal, unstable and ecologically catastrophic economy that got us in this mess in the first place.

George Obsorne was on the telly talking about growth, and he looked very pleased with himself. Not a last-minute hormonal spurt making him finally tall enough to ride the log flume at Alton Towers, not the sudden, much-delayed maturation of his long-lost empathy glands making him go home and rethink his life – growth of the dry, dead-behind-the-eyes economic variety.

The Office of National Statistics has reported that the UK economy grew by 0.8% over the last three months. Compared to the sluggish expansion we’ve seen in the six years since the financial crisis, that’s relatively fast. More significantly, it’s taken us above where we were in 2008 – for the first time, the UK economy is now bigger than it was before the financial crash knocked it off its steady upward trajectory. Continue reading “Oh dear: Growth, Mr Osborne and the ‘UK economy’s’ lovely recovery”

Life On Mars – 2005 (David Bowie)

After an elongated mid-life crisis that raged for about a decade and was responsible for artistic missteps as varied as too-late-to-be-punkish garage band experiment Tin Machine and his embarrassing dalliances with ‘jungle’, it was very relieving when David Bowie started to act his age. A more subdued, minimalistic performer emerged, with an approach typified by this 2005 performance at Fashion Rocks, the first since his 2004 heart attack and one of his last before he vanished from the public eye. Simply but beautifully accompanied by his Blofeld-alike keyboard foil Mike Garson, Bowie’s stately warble brings a new grandeur to the already-cinematic ‘Life On Mars’. The black eye, the bandaged hand, the short trousers? Real or for effect? With Bowie, who knows.

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.

Gaza-Ukraine: Doing The Western Hypocrisy Rag

Missile strike on Gaza
Israeli missile strike on Gaza
People picking through the wreckage of flight MH17
People picking through the wreckage of flight MH17

Last week, by grisly coincidence, two horrible tragedies occurred at once.

One saw a packed passenger jet shot out of the sky over rural Ukraine, probably by Moscow-armed pro-Russian separatists. 298 people were killed, 30 of them children. The other saw a defenceless slum-city the size of the Isle of White, already half-flattened by weeks of aerial bombardment, invaded by one of the most technologically advanced armies in the world. Even before Israeli troops entered Gaza, their air offensive had already killed 259 people, 39 of them children, and injured nearly two thousand.

Then ‘the West’ responded. The reaction, from senior politicians and the media mainstream, would be shocking, mad, morally baffling if we hadn’t seen it all before. Continue reading “Gaza-Ukraine: Doing The Western Hypocrisy Rag”