Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Love the gun you’re with.

Kalshnik Love (geddit??) is the new album from Medhi Haddab’s latest creation Speed Caravan. Haddab was one of the members of DuOud, shortlisted for the Radio 3 World Music Award two years running (2002, 2003 fact fans) which is no mean feat given the competition. He brings a freshness and power to the oud that drags it out of the pigeonhole marked “Indigenous instrument” and slams into BIG ROCK SOUND box. Yeah.

That said his conspirators on this album are no mean sheiks themselves. Pasco Teillet, Hermione Frank and Simo Bouamar pile on the pressure and add the flavours that make this album a contemporary rock thing that I’m sure will be dissed by many in the strokey-chin fraternity of the world music critic forum because it doesn’t adhere to the laid out plan. That’s because it’s a modern rock album, or just a modern album. Like Rachid makes. Funnily enough he’s on here.

That’s not to say that this is all good. There are a couple of tracks that sort of wander about a bit, not really doing much as if to say “well we needed to fill the space up…..a bit” but that’s OK (ever bought a Police album? Shit, they were mainly filler.). They do a couple of covers that hit the mark; their version of The Cure’s Killing an Arab brings an urgency and meaning to an already great song. Rachid Taha appears in the background calling out that he’s the Arab in Camus’ original story, The Outsider, which the song is based upon. It’s angry and direct.

Then there’s the Galvanize cover. The Chemical Brothers’ original was a thing of beauty and now the Speedies make it a scary monster of a track with a blistering chat over from the venerable Spex MC from the late lamented Asian Dub Foundation alongside some background mumbles from an old mate of mine, Paul Kendall. Add voices from Micro Brise le Silence and there’s a storm of spinning, fighting, twisting rhythm that drives the song at speed down Magic Street. Yeah.

Sidestepper’s remix of Daddy Lo throws Colombian groove into an already heady brew to full effect.

It’s a Friday night album. Stick it on before you go out to get in the mood or when you get back and you want to keep the party going. It is the sound of modern rock music; where reggae gave a different base (bass) to punk then modern bands should look to rai to lead them out of the blues rock cul de sac, particularly if they’re French.

The oud has never sounded better.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Still fighting the Civil War

Joe Wilson is a Republican from South Carolina. This bland statement gives an air of respectability to this man and his political views that they don't deserve. It's a bit like saying Nick Griffin of the BNP is a conservative politician; he's not, he's a fascist.

Joe Wilson is a racist pig.

The brilliant New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has written an excellent piece about the current rabid Republican opposition to President Obama - read it here - and how it is straying from open political opposition to ideas and policies into the realm of straightforward racism. White greasy Southerners who still cling on to discredited ideas about racial supremacy raise the spectre of a black man in charge in the same way that their fathers in the 60s raised the spectre of a supposedly sexually rapacious black man wanting to have his way with all the white ladies. The vocabulary may be different but the thoughts are the same.

In 2000 Joe Wilson led the campaign to keep the Confederate flag flying over South Carolina's state Capitol. This is a bit like the Germans wanting to keep the swastika flying over the Bundestag; actually it's not a bit like at all, it's exactly like.

Anyway Joe here's a flag for you to print off and stick on your sleeve. Feel free to make full use of it.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Fab, gear, whatever....

Now there's no getting away from the fact that The Beatles were a world changing phenomenon. Before they arrived it was camp young men emoting for their predatory gay managers or earnest beardies playing the Blues in a studied and, lets be honest, very polite way. Four Scousers come along, roughly hewn from rock n roll.

They were rude, opinionated and brash; no change in Liverpool there then. Despite being packaged into suits and ties they retained that bored and vicious streak that made them a global brand. Their talent and exploration of the possibility of anything gave other fearless individuals the gap in the tired British edifice to plunge through. After a while though they became safe. Sure Sgt Pepper's was a turning point, but things would have changed without it. It was released in 1967, Brian Wilson had released Pet Sounds in '66; you could argue that of the two albums Pet Sounds was the more challenging. Add to this Captain Beefheart releasing Safe As Milk in 1967, now this is far more challenging - without a doubt. No songs there about Martha and Mr Kite.

Don't get me wrong. The Beatles were a huge brand but look where we are now. They've become an Xbox game; nice.

Alongside The Beatles came The Stones, The Who and The Kinks. Bands that visibly posed a threat. No attempt to package these guys for a cosy pop career. They oozed a surly charm and were openly contemptuous of the status quo. Sure they made great singles, but their very presence made a lot more sense to the angry and excluded. They were pop, but pop like The Clash or The Ramones were pop. They were our pop. They didn't sing songs about Yesterday and racoons. They were nasty.

So now there are endless programmes on about The Beatles as the BBC conspires with EMI to help sell their records and everyone gets misty eyed about the Sixties again and we have to watch endless documentaries interpreting history through the eyes of Beatles fans. It's so predictable. Programmes made by researchers in their twenties who Google some basic phrases and declare it to be gospel. Lazy and tawdry, with little or no value when it comes to assessing the past.

Last night I caught Pop Britannia; purportedly all about "The Sixties" but so wrong. There is this inability to see that period as anything other than a homogeneous mass of clear eyed pop puppets making cheery music. They lump the likes of The Stones, Who and Kinks alongside the likes of The Troggs and Herman and The Hermits as if they all co-existed in some big house of fun with the same intellectual value to everything they did. It would be the same as putting JLS and Radiohead or Girls Aloud and The Vivian Girls in the same category. Some were on a journey of discovery, others were being manipulated and controlled by old school management.

There were differences; important differences. The bands who seemed to pose a threat were harried, hustled and busted on a regular basis. Others were allowed to become "The Voice of a Generation" on a regular basis. If you were a kid in the Sixties your parents would buy you Herman records and complain when you played The Stones. That pretty much sums it up.

I never really liked The Beatles anyway.