From the monthly archives:

December 2010

#46: 2010, John Grant, Jesus Hates Faggots

December 31, 2010

For the last Songs To Learn and Sing of 2010, my track of the year. John Grant, formerly lead singer of cult 90s band, The Czars is a gay man who was brought up by strict Baptist parents in Colorado. His debut album the extraordinary, The Queen of Denmark, is full of songs dealing with […]

Read the full article →

In defence of the Nanny State

December 31, 2010

A long time ago, in a Galaxy far, far away – well, Cambridge Circus actually, and it was around 1994 – I was in a pub having a beer with a man who was destined to become a Lib-Dem MP. He didn’t like me very much and was cross examining me about my politics – […]

Read the full article →

George East’s Top 10 Films of 2010

December 31, 2010

I haven’t seen The Social Network which pretty much seems to be the critical film of the year, from Sight and Sound to the NME. I struggled to see how a film about an Ivy League nerd who becomes a billionaire at the age of 24 could have any dramatic interest at all. I cannot […]

Read the full article →

Sad To See You Leaving 2010: Ari Up

December 31, 2010

On the 10th anniversary of punk, Radio 1 broadcast a documentary series called ‘From Punk To Present‘. It intoduced me to loads of the second tier punk and post punk bands. That is second tier in the sense of not having had huge chart success or wider popular appeal, rather than in musical quality terms. […]

Read the full article →

#45: 2003, White Stripes, Seven Nation Army

December 30, 2010

As this is my last 2010 entry on Songs to Learn and Sing, I’m plumping for what in my humble opinion is the best band of the twenty-first century, not least to create a bit of debate. I’m not sure why it has taken us to STLAS #45 to get to the White Stripes. This […]

Read the full article →

Sad To See You Leaving 2010: Malcolm Allison

December 30, 2010

There was a time when giant dinosaurs bestrode the world of football, often wearing an unusual hat and smoking a top-notch Havana cigar. One of the biggest of all these beasts was Malcolm Allison – Big Mal, he of permanent Marbella suntan (no sunbeds for him!) and Fedora hat, a ‘dolly bird’ on both arms […]

Read the full article →

Sad To See You Leaving 2010: Louise Bourgeois

December 30, 2010

Mostly known for her huge sculptures of spiders with egg sacs, Maman, Louise Bougeois was the last major artist with a connection to the hot bed of artistic innovation that was pre-war Paris. She moved to New York in 1938 and so was also immersed in the post-war New York scene which defined modern art […]

Read the full article →

George East’s Top Ten Gigs of 2010

December 30, 2010

Nothing goes better with the year’s end than a ‘best of…’ list. I will post my favourite films and albums of 2010 tomorrow, but first my 10 best gigs of the year. 1. Midlake/John Grant/Jason Lyttle – The Roundhouse Beardy folkie Texans, Midlake, are the kind of band that I think I would have hated […]

Read the full article →

#44: 1995, Elastica, Waking Up

December 29, 2010

‘Waking up and getting up has never been easy.’ Funnily enough I can vividly recall sitting in our flat in Hackney or was it Surrey Quays, yes it was Surrey Quays, back when this was released and Jackie South saying that it reminded him of Bobby West, who was, predictably, in bed at the time […]

Read the full article →

Back Of The Net With Ray North: Can Man City win the league and what’s happened to Chelsea?

December 29, 2010

So far it has been a very strange season: who would have predicted as I write this, that Liverpool would be in the bottom half of the league table, that Blackpool would have as good an away record as any club in the Premiership and that Blackburn Rovers would have been taken over by a […]

Read the full article →

#43: 1987, The Wedding Present, My Favourite Dress

December 28, 2010

Last night I was at a 40th birthday party for someone who I don’t really know that well. Over dinner the subject moved on as it inevitably does to music. The older brother of the birthday boy was holding forth on how crap music was when he was at university in the late 1980s before […]

Read the full article →

Sad To See You Leaving 2010: Eric Rohmer

December 28, 2010

  Between 1957 and 1960 a bunch of young French directors blew apart the world of European and later world film making. Instead of looking to the old European masters of art cinema they venerated directors working in the Hollywood studio system, directors who had before largely been seen as studio journeyman by more serious […]

Read the full article →

#42: 1995, Black Grape, Kelly’s Heroes

December 28, 2010

Number 42: the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything according to Douglas Adams. Which brings me to the brilliance and wit of Shaun Ryder, whose lyrics make him, amongst other things, the Edward Lear of the music world. Here’s a song that sums that up, from the brilliant It’s Great When You’re Straight…Yeah. I […]

Read the full article →

Bookfarce!

December 28, 2010

The opprobrium heaped upon the Coalition for it’s proposal to scrap the Book Start scheme was entirely justified. This proposal, just like the proposals to scrap the Schools Sports Partnership and the Building Schools for the Future Programme, demonstrate eloquently what this government really is: mean-minded, entirely blinkered and ruthlessly regressive in every way. They […]

Read the full article →

Sad To See You Leaving 2010: Alex Higgins

December 27, 2010

Just about every boy in my secondary school played snooker and watched the tournaments on the telly, from BBC’s long gone Pot Black to the World Championship covered in hushed tones from the Crucible. It seems bizarre now that this game for bar room hustlers and middle aged men was the sporting sensation of the […]

Read the full article →

Sad To See You Leaving 2010: Malcolm McLaren

December 27, 2010

Michael Foot helped introduce me to politics, but Malcolm McLaren had an equally important role in my youth. McLaren had many flaws, not least his manipulative streak that often treated his collaborators as pawns in his projects: most disturbingly in getting a fourteen year-old Annabella Lwin to pose naked for a recreation of Le Dejeuner […]

Read the full article →

Week 7: Prat – Vince Cable

December 26, 2010

Vincey, where did it all go wrong? Nine short months ago you were probably the single most popular politician in the country, and your views on the economy were so respected that you could frequently appear on Newsnight as the sole politician to give a pundit’s view without the need for any political counter-weight. Now […]

Read the full article →

#41: 1969, Neil Young, Down By The River

December 26, 2010

For a long time I never really got Neil Young. I remember Georgie East had a lot of Neil Young albums back in our flat in Hackney, and he would play them and I would nod and feign appreciation, but I didn’t really get it. Then, when I wasn’t expecting it, I had a conversion […]

Read the full article →

Week 7: Hero – Robert Peston

December 26, 2010

Robert Peston is the BBC’s Senior Business Editor. In recent years he has become synonymous with the economic crises of our age – performing a role similar to the one  Joshua Rosenberg used to carry out for legal stories, just as when Joshua came onto our screens we were confident that we were about to […]

Read the full article →

Week 7: Villain – Jorge Rafael Videla

December 26, 2010

Wednesday saw the conviction and imprisonment and imposition of a life sentence on former military dictator of Argentina, Jorge Videla. It couldn’t have happened to a bigger bastard. Videla is in the very worst category of villains. This has been a long time coming and represents a victory for the families who have been campaigning […]

Read the full article →

Sad To See You Leaving 2010: JD Salinger

December 26, 2010

I have two older sisters. When I was sixteen one of them lived above a pub with six other eighteen year old girls, the other introduced me to good music and literature – they both contributed to my education. When Renee North gave me a copy of The Catcher In The Rye back in the […]

Read the full article →

#40: 2007, Wild Billy Childish and The Musicians of the British Empire, Christmas 1979

December 25, 2010

Like The Fall, Billy Childish has been ploughing his own musical furrow since the days of punk. In his case a mixture of raw Medway blues, garage rock and punk. He also boasts the finest tache in popular music. This song, autobiographical so Childish claims about a Christmas he had in the year in question […]

Read the full article →

Sad To See You Leaving 2010: Michael Foot

December 25, 2010

Sadly destined to be remembered by wider public opinion as the wild haired man who led the Labour Party to its worst defeat since the war in the general election of 1983 and (falsely) for turning up to the cenotaph in a donkey jacket, Michael Foot was both a poltical giant and a thoroughly decent […]

Read the full article →

#39: 1987, The Pogues & Kirsty McColl, Fairytale of New York

December 24, 2010

This being Christmas, I thought I should plump for my favourite Christmas tune. Somehow this only managed to make it to number 2 in the charts for Christmas 1987, beaten by the Pet Shop Boys Always On My Mind. Shane McGowan wrote the song as an homage to Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In […]

Read the full article →

Oldham East & Saddleworth revisited

December 24, 2010

I wrote earlier this week about how the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election was being fought on territory that is as favourable as is possible for a Liberal Democrat win. In particular, the local election results from the same day as May’s General Election in the constituency suggested that there might be latent Lib Dem […]

Read the full article →

Mr East Goes to the Classic Movies: The Shop Around The Corner

December 24, 2010

  Every year, pretty much without fail Frank Capra’s 1946 classic, It’s A Wonderful Life, is re-released on the big screen.   This tale of the triumph of small town values, mutualism and Jimmy Stewart’s old fashioned decency over the greed of bankers and the brutality of unrestrained capitalism is perhaps more apposite this year than […]

Read the full article →

Tommy’s Done

December 24, 2010

What a bizarre story this is, it sounds more like a Alan Bleasdale script than reality, but to recap… Once upon a time…at the opening of the first Scottish Parliament in 1999, Tommy Sheridan – former militant anti-poll tax activist, was elected as the sole MSP for the Scottish Socialist Party.  He took the oath […]

Read the full article →

Give ‘Em Enough Cable and They’ll Hang Themselves

December 24, 2010

If you need any proof of the gargantuan vanity of Vince Cable, observe how he continues to dig deeper the hole he has excavated for himself this week. Whilst wiser and more modest politicians would have gone to ground and licked their wounds in private in the hope that things would blow over during the […]

Read the full article →

What about Afghanistan Your Holiness?

December 24, 2010

I don’t have a huge problem with the Pope delivering Thought For The Day on Radio 4. For me it is a feature that causes my hand to immediately reach for the retune knob as soon as it is announced regardless of who is delivering it. Nevertheless, I am sure that the rather dull Germanic […]

Read the full article →

#38: 1998, Catatonia, International Velvet

December 23, 2010

Normally when I select a song for Songs To Learn And Sing, I have one eye on what my colleagues at Allthatsleft will think – I mean one dodgy selection and I’m hauled in front of the Guvnor with my pub cred in ruins. But, tomorrow is my birthday, so I’m allowing myself the indulgence […]

Read the full article →