Thursday, 26 June 2014

Should you be in here 'reading' that?

I recently befriended Alan McGee on Facebook – you know were not friends – I met him a couple times – sold him some fanzines at a House of Love gig  - took him to the Gardening Club after an Adorable gig – all taxis and handshakes – and now he’s on facebook - it’s a social medium – you can distribute information and to be honest – McGee’s always been an entertaining fucker at the best of times.  Anyway he took to posting ( and he likes to post) about Shaun Ryder some weeks back and it just chimed with what I’ve said about him and reminded me what a character he is - Shaun - not McGee - i'll write about that later. 

Ryder is a genius. I don’t think there’s anyone in the last thirty years who can touch him.  You can tell me who you think matters – I’m prepared to listen – but right now I’m writing this about Shaun and those twisted insights into living and surviving that he gave us.

I never saw the Happy Mondays  - never saw The Roses either.  I was baggy just not into the whole gig spectacular. I’d fixated on tunes on 12 inches being played by DJs in warehouses. I never took my top off but I was wide eyed to it all. And throughout this The Mondays would be in the background – twisting my melons man – talking so hip. I first heard about them via the music press – pressed up on a Record Mirror 7 inch vinyl or talk of John Cale mixing it up with these youth from estates in Little Hulton  - that was probably 1987 – I wasn’t quite ready for the screech and funk of it then. My Manchester passion was still miserable and maudlin  - you’ve got to blame Morrissey for that – or even The Pistols – because without that legendary Free Trade Hall gig – blah blah blah.

Listening back to those early tunes on possible the best titled album of all time’ Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out)’ it’s got the funk and reference to the nu-soul scene of the early eighties but played by lads with knocked off gear and tracksuits forming indie bands to get inside clubs and deal more drugs. Yet within the cacophony you can already hear Ryder just teasing out the stories of what it’s like to be working class, dispossessed, having fun and the constant grind of daily life. There’s a work ethic to this album. You don’t just turn this out on a night – do you get me? The Happy Mondays wanted to be big – wanted to be famous – there’s not much point otherwise.  Don’t misunderstand me – this isn’t social realism – it’s picareseque hyper realism – bending boundaries and minds.

But just that opening line from 24 Hour Party People,

How old are you?
Are you old enough?
Should you be in here watching that?

Already there are images conjured – connections made – there’s deviance and pleasure – it’s late night – or it’s early morning – either way – should we be here listening to this – are we old enough?  Home truths writ large in Manchester tones – that’s The Mondays. And I do like (the Happy) Mondays – shall I tell you why?

Shaun Ryder is underrated. He doesn’t always give ‘good interview’ – he coarse and wired, grumpy and tired – bongoed and bouncy. He’s all eyeballs and grins (oh wait a minute that was Bez) There’s a great deal out there on the internet about this Shaun and that Shaun. And references to lyrics and poetry and W.B Yeats and Whitman. And I ought to be careful here – because whenever you attribute knowledge and intellect to anything you also get people thinking you’re being sarcastic or being playfully postmodern with your wit – trying to catch someone out. There’s an article on the website sabotage times about Ryder and poetry and all the comments merge into a diatribe about people not understanding the author was taking the piss. Which I don’t think he was – and if he was – why? You shouldn’t be ashamed to make comparisons and discuss – and if you don’t want to do that – you’ve still got the tunes.

I don’t buy that dumbing down of the working class intellect. You know Ryder wasn’t a nine to fiver – he wrote lyrics for a band – he crafted words and depicted life – he wasn’t playing you as mugs he was authenticating the voice of an addled and e- generation – the product of education systems in the seventies and eighties that would rather hit you than fill you full of awe. You had to find that yourself – and that meant traipsing through the mire of part time love and infatuation, heady times and edgy vibes. Shaun pulled this stuff from his head – not because he wasn’t (stinkin’) thinkin’ but precisely because he got the script.

‘Oh son I’m thirty – I only went with your mother coz she’s dirty - And I don't have a decent bone in me - What you get is just what you see yeah.’

I haven’t got the space or time to do this post justice – and to be honest you’d be better off just reading Shaun’s lyrics and listening to the tunes.

I once sat in a bar with Shaun Ryder – the only time I’ve met him – this must have been 1992 – The Mondays were on self-destruct and Black Grape had yet to be realised. Ryder was early afternoon barflying – Guinness stockpiled and alone.  I was with a great mate at that time – Phil Fisk – I’ve mentioned him before he’s a photographer – he takes pictures of people – they appear in newspapers and that – he didn’t have a camera on that day – he wasn’t a photographer quite then.

We didn’t want miss an opportunity to say hello. So we did.

Ryder was welcoming, funny, open and honest. We talked about the post office, music and this and that. He looked older than his years – the monkey was still on his back – but he was good company – you know the living dead don’t get a holiday. I had to leave – meet lost lovers and all that – but I left him and Phil – he didn’t shuffle off – he was into conversation.

And you see that through his lyrics – all part conversations with figures we can’t see. It’s there in Wrote for Luck – the opening line ‘I wrote for luck – they sent me you.’  And there’s nothing wrong in recognising the simplicity in the work as being on par with this poet or that one.

Its words after all – why are our masses so scared of thinking that others might think that we think?

You know the working class have a brain to – they use it a lot – they free think in hard times. And Ryder’s had plenty of hard times. It’s good to see him back – all new teeth and eating well – he was always going to come out the other side. He’s escaped his roots by taking a route through life differently to some of those other chancers on estates all over our ‘green and pleasant land’ – this wasn’t just a northern thing – let’s not forget Liam from Flowered Up –  yet his mind still stands firmly there on the concrete stones of Salford streets.

So I’m celebrating the lyrics – I’m raising them up to high art. I always was a pretentious arse at the best of times – some things don’t change.  Shaun is a product of his times –speaking truth in simple rhymes – but they stick – they take root. I know that Shaun William Ryder has laid down beside ya – filled you full of junk. Junk of the highest quality. He’s articulating the inarticulacy of the then and now. He’s putting words to the stuttering thoughts, clenched fists and fried brains of the Thatcherite revolution – you could say he was creating ‘banter’ before it became a catchall for loose talk and ignorant opinion.  He tapped into the terrace chanter and pavement talk  - all unifying but keeping out the mainstream. (There’s an interview in The Guardian where the journalist translates ‘you’re twisting my melons man’ for the readers – it was a joke – but you could sense he thought he had to) and this is continued through the sublime work of Black Grape’s first long player.

‘I don’t read – I just guess – there’s more than one sign – but it’s getting less’

Ryder appropriated, regurgitated and ran with thoughts, he took from others and re-presented yet made the work his own.  I remember the utter wonder of Lazyitis – when he drafted in Karl Denver – he's taken a phrase – one you hear in every home – my mother would often accuse one of us as having contracted the lethargic bug – but here’s Ryder melding Ticket to Ride, Sly and Essex into a repetitive delight. It’s that appropriation coupled with his flair and wit that make it his song  - his set of lyrics.

‘And I hope I don’t come top of the class, Got no brown tongue lickin ass, can't do what he's asked
Won't do what he's asked

This is by far one of the longest posts - and I don’t feel like I’ve even half started. You on the other hand have probably had enough. I just need to mention the line that sticks with me most – from the epic Stinkin Thinkin  - I need to write a post on the underrated ‘Yes Please’ album – the crack  and coke fuelled mighty Factory fuck up  - that produced one the most fraught and fragile long players of the 90s. It wasn’t all big guitars and mod haircuts. It was much, much, more.

But when Ryder sings and Rowetta repeats ‘A steady job in a small town, guaranteed to bring you right down, guaranteed to take you nowhere, guaranteed to make me lose my hair’

It chimes and reminds me.

Why I got out.


You know Tony Wilson compared Ryder to Yeats – I’m havin’ it. Even if some of you won’t. 





Wednesday, 11 June 2014

A new song by The Pale Blue Dots

I haven't written in a long time - it's that time of year.  I'm thinking of changing the whole thing around. So hopefully expect over the summer months a rage of interviews with a range of bands. 

Until then here is the new track by The Pale Blue Dots. You remember them don't cha? Bunf from the Furries and Richard Chester - making sublime sounds in studios.  It's on Radio Cyrmu tonight on Lisa Gwilywn's show and hopefully we'll be seeing a little more (re)action from The Dots over the coming months. 

Things have been slow to say the least - but I think according to more sources that the wheels are back on and we might actually see a long player and possible live dates this year. 

Until then here is the wonderful psychedelic ear worm that is Slow Reaction. 


https://soundcloud.com/the-pale-blue-dots/slow-reaction






Thursday, 15 May 2014

NWA: Noise with Attitude

Right – this piece is about noise – it’s about recapturing the past and it’s about not having the time to book a ticket at 9am to a concert that I would so like to go to  – because I am at work. Because  I have hinted at this in the past - the changing ways of capitalism and the industry’s way of making a tidy sum – quickly – it accrues interest see –all that money pooled in one day – from your interest…see.  

So McGee announces the JAMC will play Psychocandy – three times – in November – in the two of his favourite cities for music (the other being Liverpool ) – but fuck it – you know London sells – so there’s a show there – I guess you can argue McGee brought these leather clad miscreants to the Smoke in the first place – so why shouldn’t he book a set in London 30 years on? Then it gets announced that Creation Management are up and running again and before you know it were right back there at the start.
Rolling down the hill falling and laughing and all that.

Careful, we might see The Mighty Lemon Drops playing some sort of ‘first’ album anytime soon. It’s like 1985 in 2015 (I think The Legend!’s going to put some 10” flexi out for RSD2015 (that’s record store day  folks) probably a red flexi – or possibly blue – but it will be limited edition -  to kind of sum it up…maaaaaaaaaan)

Now do not get me wrong – the JAMC were an awakening for a fourteen year old lad who’d missed out on that big punk/ plastic explosion – the JAMC were the third coming – an amalgamation of the Pistols, Velvets, Ronnettes and Stooges cool.

Absolutely grand – in so many ways.

And if I’m reaching for some noise it’s those boys I’m going for – all Spector beats – sqwawks and shrieks – rising feedback matching our rising alienation and the feeling that we just wanted to have a party (we’re gonna have real good time together). I recall the Whistle Test – 6pm in the evening and the scowl of Jim – swaying and posturing with his microphone – semi acoustic guitar slipping and a sliding around him – adding to the feedback fizz and William’s hunched guitar play all furious and on fire as Bobby and Douglas gave it that steady backbeat (you can use it) . It was riotous – not North London Poly riot – I mean generally riotous – it was noise on the telly – real noise.

Noise with Attitude (NWA) 
Now I loved The Smiths – they spoke to the insecurities of my teenage years – a confidence  expressing my feeling beyond thuggery – but you know I was never going to articulate that like Johnny Marr on the guitar – and thirteen olds shouldn’t write words to songs – they haven’t done out yet. They haven’t lived. So it was just me and my guitar – and as I said I was certainly no Marr – I’m hardly a Reid – but that cacophony and bluster – that attempt to control the sound yet let it run for itself – I thought I could give that go.

I never said I was a shy retiring teenager.

Those three chords gave you power and the ferocity of the JAMC’s raw power gave you confidence to try it out – in local pubs and clubs – on small stages or spaces with tables pushed aside – tuned up and turned up – irritating locals but not through choice – because you believed these were the best tunes ever written.  The Mary Chain did not set out to annoy – the just picked up the pieces from where rock n roll had fallen and broken. They put it back together. They meant it maaaaaaaan.

So the JAMC were perfect for me ( and you) they just used those basics of rock n roll and turned it into something of their own. This was a band hated by that muso scene – heavy on the muso scene – in their eyes they had no finesse – no grace – but to my eyes they simply had it all. I mean it – they had it all and I could at least emulate those ways – because I love/ hate rock n roll.  I just wanted something that was immediate – and so they were – Paul (my brother) duly purchased the album - we taped sessions from Janice Long, Jenson and Peel and fell in love with the whole fucking thing.

I still have a Jesus and Mary Chain T-shirt – I mentioned in a postway back then – one of the first or so – I still have that t-shirt now – it’s as old as Psychocandy.  I can’t get into it – I’m no lithe teenager now – in canvas and Chelsea boots.

So I probably won’t get to see/hear the JAMC –at the Troxy – because it will sell out – in minutes – faster than the length of ‘Upside Down’. We’re all into noise nostalgia now.  The good people of Shoreditch will lap it up. Perhaps that’s the way it should be - New audiences for old people.

But you know the JAMC are not a postmodern thing. They are the real thing.  That was modernity.  They were a part of my youth on the small streets of Scunthorpe – an alternative from the grind. I could hold my guitar to the amp and hope. As blast furnaces blew smoke to the skies.


Here’s to a wonderful set of concerts. Driven by sound and fury. Signifying something?  Enjoy it – because if they get half as close to that rush of energy from 1985 – then you’ll be in for a treat. 

Here is what I want it to look like . i actually think I have posted this before - but no one read it then (most likely like now) 

The Jesus and Mary Chain on The Whistle Test. 


Monday, 14 April 2014

We should all have a bit of Sly on a Saturday


I am not certain how I became aware of Sly and the Family Stone. Growing up in the seventies and eighties (and let's face it - I'm still trying to grow up now) their songs must have been around - all AM dials on old radios - as the family (my one) listened to Sly's one as they beamed through the airwaves as we danced to the music. Danced to his music.

Or there may have been a showing of the great Woodstock festival  - now this could have been on Two or Four. My memory is shot through with cider and getting to grip of the now - not the then. But somehow there's an image of Sly taking me higher on celluloid  - all sequins and groove that kind of blew my mind as I watched him create the ultimate funk stew - on a stage full of glamour to a crowd full of hippies.

And you know I could never trust a hippy (just saying)

And then there was a conversation with Andrew Innes - over drinks and mayhem in a Sheffield club backroom - all Ivy Ivy Ivy and Raw Power - and Andrew was telling us (that's me, Paul and Ian - of The Williams fame - okay - not fame - but you can dream can't ya?) that you should get some Sly in the collection - but not to go too deep too fast - you know lay off There's Riot Goin' On - until you've experienced the deep funk.

So as any young impressionable youth would do - you purchase the worn out tapes of heavy heavy funk that is that wonderful fug of a funk album. That muddied mix of euphoria and paranoia as screeches and slides collide in a foggy haze and daze of everything that is ultimately funky in Sly's universe. And it's great it made to tape - because There's A Riot Goin' On - is possibly one of the rawest funk excursions you'll ever here - it's flawed - yet it floors (do you get me?) You couldn't really re-master it - but I think Sly has - that ever-reclusive mutha - so hip that Prince looks up to him (and not just literally) I bought a tape version as well - so when that got heated and mistreated it only added to those takes from inside the studio Sly had created in his Bel Air mansion or The Plant studios in Sausalito, CA. Infact it turns out that Sly had had a bed installed in the studio and simply recorded his takes whilst lying down. It does have to be said - that by this time Sly was managed by gangsters and heavily addicted to the chokey and PCP.  So to even get to the stage where you've got a beautiful dark and muddied album was a miracle - Sly played most of the instruments himself - taping and retaping over and over again. 

There's even the heavy use of a drum machine - used instead of - or because of Gregg Errico's hasty departure from the paranoia fuelled existence of life with Sly and his entourage. This was band playing apart to create a unity -and it wasn't their usual way of working. For 'Family Affair' - the hit from the album - and some of the other tracks on the album, Stone had his industry peers and musicians, including contemporary soul acts Billy Preston, Ike Turner, and Bobby Womack lay down the sounds on Riot, instead of his bandmates. The album's muddy, gritty sound was due in part to this excessive use of overdubbing and erasing parts of the reel-to-reel tapes. In my mind - and I hope Sly's this made the whole thing better.

I don't play enough Family Stone in this family house - there was always something of the late night listen about Sylvester Stewart - but recently I put 'Trip to your Heart' on a CD in the car - all compilation for the kids. And as you can see I'm working backwards  -I'm in and out of that collection - ducking and a weaving - pilthering and pillaging - 'cause Sly started that riot with A Riot (do you get me?)

Which brings me to the inherent psychedelic substance of that song.  It begins like the past incarnation of Gravediggaz - all screams and yelps  - like the beginning of Diary of a Madman - but committed to tape some twenty-five years before.

And here comes the opening - all ayes and yeahs - which LL Cool J would lift as he got his Mama to knock us out. Add Sly to mix and all hell breaks loose and falls apart in this trip to your heart. As it shuffles towards that minor key and Sly's trip to our heart - you can already picture the capes, the jump cuts and mirror images of a video designed to represent the (sign of the) times.
There's always been this madcap - playful think about the Family Stone - up for a bit and ready to take you there. I remember reading somewhere back before the world of Britpop exploded and the Verve were just - you know The Verve - and Richard Ashcroft claiming that 'I want to take Higher' was his song of choice before a night on the town at the weekend.

We should all have a bit of Sly on a Saturday.

So here's some Sly for you too. 


Monday, 24 March 2014

We’re on a very special mission with Dr Cosmo's Tape Lab

It’s been too long – way too long baby – it’s been too long. But hey I’m back – it’s good to be back (do we reference that these days – probably not) There’s a whole heap to write- half finished posts and notes – they’ll surface over the coming months.

So where to begin (again)

This is about Dr Cosmo’s Tape Lab – oh and what a laboratory this is – and their forthcoming long player – Beyond the Silver Sea. All shimmers and strums – harmonies and hums.  A tale of finding the future and living there – I guess. I had received a random message from Mr Stuart Kidd – yes he of The Wellgreen fame (well they are in my house – i mean famous in my house – not that they live in my house) about new projects – new sounds and a possible  place to start a review.

So through cables and code I ended up in my soundcloud (hey, hey, you, you get off of my (sound)cloud) listening to the experiments of two wonderful musicians and their attempts to create an almighty concept album on 4-tracks of tape. The Beatles had four tracks – these guys too. See what you can do with your imagination. And as I always point out – this isn’t retro – this isn’t looking back – it’s just trusting the tape to do its job - to record the experience. Before we begin - I just need to say - they haven't put a date on its release- they're hoping to get a vinyl release soon - so here's to that. So let's talk about the 'Beyond the Silver Sea'. 

And what an experience it is – a mini rock opera –in between The Wellgreen,  running a record label The Barne Society and thumping the skins in the Roogie Boogie band – Stuart had found time to write a (a quick one) musical opus of sixities psychedelia and analogue science fiction.

So let me make sense of this positive sixties psyche and take you ‘Beyond the Silver Sea. Dr Cosmo’s Tape Lab are Joe Kane and Stu Kidd with narration and additional material by Adam Smith (because there’s a story in all of this). Now I should be wary of a concept album for the 2000s – it might all go Kanye West or Sasha Fierce (remember that) or Beady Eye (there are a concept band aren’t they?)

So this album starts with a story – a narrated tale of ‘Max’s’ endeavour to escape his restrictive life in a world where no sense reigns and escape to a place ‘beyond the silver sea’.  Instantly recalling Brian Wilson’s attempts to tell us his tale of a magic transitor radio on a side of seven inch vinyl inserted as an afterthought in the Holland album – there was a worry coursing through my veins – what with the Stanley Unwin forced surrealness of ‘Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake’ and I tried not to recall that ‘War of the Worlds’ record – you know it was in all the Woolworths’ as a child (all the Woolworths)

But I’m here to listen But luckily for you ane me – this turned out to be a Tommy – a concept you can listen to – through and through.

And if I’m honest the story took a slight back seat at first – but slowly it began to fit – it started adding sense to the whole heap of sounds coming my way – this mish-mash of The Small Faces, Brian Wilson blended with a heavy dose of The Who and some Teenage Fanclub tuneage.  It’s an album full of twinkles and strings, harmonies and things (In Lieu of Something Better) where reverb and open chords tell of confusion and discord as Max’s attempts to ‘get out of this place’ get more confused and affected by time.

Through these backroom bedroom recordings come some wonderfully crafted tunes – recalling the Dukes of Stratosphear’s attempts to confuse and dazzle in equal measure. This could be a lost classic (an odessy and oracle we never knew about) or a confident pricking of the past and then presented as a new future.

There’s an analogue elegance between the layers of sounds and each and every play lends itself to references and nods of the knowing. I can hear the work of the mighty Ray Davies seeping into the albums seams creating psychotic reactions  in this Glasgow city – an alternative Detroit -  squelches and soothing sounds. There’s a hint of The Seeds in here too. Oh you can tell what I’m saying it references and remixes that era – those tunes through country, rock and bossa nova. Simple love songs – simple pleasures – garage psychedelia  - there’s a wonderful song called ‘Painted Birds’ – now it’s part of the narrative – a narrative of smoke filled cafes and new wave jump cuts as we hot foot it through Camden 1966 – all heavy fringes and dark eyes – tight trousers and getting high ,high, high.

So do I believe in the silver sea – do I want to escape?  There’s experimentation in this four track heaven – the sounds spring out of nowhere – a translated and transformed – there’s a moment where Chas and Dave meets Back to the Future uptown as a cockney knees up descends into Lee Perry’s spacedub in the form of ‘Pie,mash and liquor’. It’s an album torn out of time and rooted in the past yet knowingly moving on.  It has humour at its heart.  Serious songs from smiling faces – or smiling songs from serious faces?  Whichever way you want it – it works.

As Max’s journey takes us to The Storehouse of Fools in a quest to get away from it all with Trixie at his side (except she isn’t) this place of ramalamma boogie woogie – all denim (the band and fabric) with lasers and lights then head into the Townsend fury and Foxy Lady honky tonk of ‘Dr Chester’s Pleasures’ as we are taken to the stars. You see anything is possible when you can commit it to tape – when you can experiment – reshape – chop and mix – sprinkle this and turn out that.

So we journey ever onwards – beyond the silver sea to ‘The Stars My Destination’ all Lennon squawk and shimmer a lonely ‘other’ planet boy cry. Dr Cosmos’ Tape Lab have produced radiophonic workshop organic indie music for 2014 and beyond – it’s conceptual – it’s bombastic – it’s fantastic. A kind of subtle fairy animals (you get me?)

Finally we reach our destination. Way beyond and further. Ready for ‘The Long Sleep’ – it’s got this early baggy feel to it – sort of (World of) Twist otherness. There’s a hint of Gary Numan  cutting a duet with The Zombies rolling over and over (it may have been the time of day I listened – but that’s what I’m hearing in the chorus) All Barberella backbeat – squelches and reverses – slipping down to simple chords and harmonies falling into air and space.
 
Dreams falling into line on tape. 

Yes the whole thing is ambitious and at 44 minutes you’ve got to put the effort in – otherwise you might lose the story thread. But once that’s all seeped into the unconscious you just listen – and let the lab carry out its experiments on you.  All put down on four tracks of tape – as I said – if it works for The Beatles – then it’s going to work for anyone. And it works for this talented twosome.

You know we can find the things we want to be - beyond the silver sea.

So who wants to join me – beyond the silver sea?

As this long player is yet to be released - you can do no harm in checking out their rather fabulous soundcloud site. There's lots of songs and snippets from the album. It should be out very soon - so you can buy it then.

Go to it here

Here’s some information too:

Stu does- vocals, drums, glockenspiel, percussion, monotron, casiotone, acoustic guitar, lead guitar
Joe does- Vocals, tack piano, bass, lead guitar, acoustic guitar, electric harpsichord, Moog synthesiser, organ, melodica
Recorded July to November 2013 on a Tascam 424 Mk. III four-track recorder

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

You can change things when you sing


Pete Seeger has died.


You have to have some feeling of loss – another one being shuffled off this mortal coil.  I’m currently living in very difficult times. In times when class action is no reaction to the plights and slights we’re struggling with.  I was listening to report on the radio (on the radio) about The Queen not being able to repair all her houses and that. And it was suggested that the review could have suggested a reduction in the number castles and palaces that she owns. But the interviewee – some Dame or other -  nearly choked at the suggestion – and it was only a question – that that sort of thing had never crossed the review team’s mind.

Typical really. I’m living in Boris’ London and Cameron’s Britain. Both of those are fucked.  But these conditions are unlikely to produce a Pete.  That man’s from another century.  I can’t see anyone making that sort of fuss these days – well not with an acoustic guitar or a banjo.

But Pete had a point.

If he’d had a hammer and not a guitar who knows what wreckage would have commenced – but his guitar did a fair amount of damage. As you know I’ve never trusted a hippy and folk music don’t always get me – but as I get older my tastes there are a changin’.  Yet there’s something in recognising what Pete Seeger stood for.  It’s about struggle in our times. 

So this got me thinking about the ‘protest song’ (you can sing along if you like). If you stop and think about it – there’s been a whole heap of protest in our lives and lots of times we could sing about it. My earliest memory of protest numbers is most likely Dylan being played somewhere and at some time on the radio. But I guess that wasn’t my protest – I was just a child – not yet my own maaaan. So to pinpoint the protest is much harder – I mean what was I rebelling against as a misguided youth – well what you got? But surely over the course of those teenage years – those formative times – with teachers and mates – parents and jobs – I amassed a whole compilation tapes worth. Not that I made a tape though.

So what to focus on? The Crass seven-inch of ‘Big A Little A’ lent by a friend across the road and played on heavy rotation on the Kingston Road soundsystem. You know the system might have got you – but it won’t get me. Or The Pistols – God Save the Queen – anger as energy writ large with guitar riffs. Through the ghost town of The Specials and all incarnations to free Mandela – to tell you the truth I always liked the anti Sun City track by Steve Van Zandt. I used to rail against all those eighties arses who jetted of to eat granny smith apples in the sun – Queen anyone? Didn’t they do Live Aid though? Aren’t they worthy – not in my house and hopefully not in yours.

Then there was the dreadlock rasta of Marley and associated reggae injustice. All around was war as we made our way through the eighties of Reaganomics and Thatcher’s tub thumping – and what has war ever been good for? So Buffalo Springfield crept in with helicopter montages and napalm bombs – for what it was worth. Brother, brother there’s far too many of you dying Gaye told us as we learnt about that commie threat from the east – in history books and war films. It seems like that decade was one long awakening to horrors of humans and their political will. I’m not forgetting Nena – I’m just ignoring it.

And hip hop reminded us of the police and their unjust ways when you rocked a look that incorporated a gold chain and a kangol hat.  That’s not forgetting Public Enemy and I attempting to fight the power – because – you know most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamp – me and Chuck D have a lot in common.  Whilst closer to home LKJ skanked through the streets where the skinhead mentality still lingered and any dissent manifested itself in police brutality and prejudice.  Then lectures at Goldsmiths’ with Paul Robeson as the soundtrack to discontent.

But to get right back to Pete – to find that line of humility and anger – softly spoken words with bite and resistance – then Curtis Mayfield is my protest singer. There’s something in that falsetto matched with the incessant groove of positive vibes. Positive change – you know positive energy activates constant elevation. I’ll write about Curtis properly someday – but today I’m focussing on that message encapsulated in this neo-gospel grower. You can dance and change things – brother. You can change things by just moving your feet – people need to get ready for that.

Now I know our politics differ from the US – we’re built on different struggles. I always felt the left in America represented our liberal party – but Pete was a red. Enough said. And Pete’s dead. 

The class struggle will grind on and on.

We shall overcome.