From the monthly archives:

September 2011

#295: 2009, Laura Gibson, Spirited

September 30, 2011

A couple of days ago, George picked a tune by Richmond Fontaine following their gig on Tuesday. He also mentioned that I went along as well as he had a spare ticket – I’d never heard of Richmond Fontaine but he thought I might like them. He was generous enough to offer it free of […]

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Rightwing Bullshit Watch #1: Matthew Lynn and the Reagan Revolution

September 30, 2011

Over at Huffingtonpost today the first Featured Blog Post is by someone called Matthew Lynn who says he is the Chief Executive of some outfit called Strategy Economics.  I have never heard of either.  And given the content of the post I firmly hope that Arianna will think several times before giving him or his […]

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#294: 1979, The Undertones, Here Comes The Summer

September 29, 2011

Its a bit strange – it shouldn’t be like this, I mean its nearly October, that means it should be getting a bit chilly and I should be embroiled in the annual argument with Mrs North as to whether we put the central heating on. But, no, after a crappy, drizzly summer, our weird climate […]

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Carlos Tevez: Is Football Eating Itself?

September 29, 2011

The sight of Carlos Tevez, purportedly an earner of £125,000 per week; undoubtedly a unique and wonderfully talented footballer; hero of Argentina and erstwhile hero of Upton Park, the Stretford End, and whatever those City fans who used to stand on the Kippax now call themselves, sulkily refusing to warm up and come on to […]

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Top of The Pops 2000s Special: Songs To Learn and Sing Readers’ Chart

September 29, 2011

Richmond Fontaine’s Post to Wire sees the 00s become the third decade to have 50 Songs To Learn and Sing, following the 1980s and the 1970s.  The 00s were, I think, quite a difficult decade to pin down musically and perhaps with the end of the single in any recognisable form (and as a result […]

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George Osborne and the Tobin Tax: Whatever Happened To Re-Balancing The Economy

September 29, 2011

In the course of a speech yesterday morning, Jose Manuel Barroso, the Portuguese President of the European Commission, endorsed the introduction of a Financial Transactions Tax (commonly referred to as a Tobin Tax after the American economist who first suggested the idea back in the early 1970s).   The Tobin Tax is already backed by the […]

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#293: 2004, Richmond Fontaine, Post To Wire

September 28, 2011

Tonight I went to a screening of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s superb and strange 1944 wartime celebration of Englishness A Canterbury Tale at the Roxy Bar on Borough High Street – one of a growing number of venues screening films outside of the cinema environment – playing the role of the now (NFT and […]

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Why All Londoners Will Have To Pay If Ken Loses

September 28, 2011

Given how far off the next general election is, it is not surprising how light the Labour Party conference has been on specific pledges.  One of the clearest was for an election next year: Ken Livingstone’s pledge to cut, then freeze and then control public transport fares.  See the clip below… I think there are […]

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Labour Conference Special: Ed Miliband Is Weird

September 28, 2011

Yes he is.  He has that odd stoop as if he is apologising for his own existence.  He has those strange eyes that Steve Bell used to draw with death rays and now draws as a panda.  The eyes, with that really slow blinking make him look like an alien from a 50s Sci Fi […]

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#292: 1990, The Fall, Telephone Thing

September 26, 2011

With the media returning to the News International phone-hacking scandal over the weekend – a new list of celebs who may have been victim including Jade Goody and Alistair Campbell, Andy Coulson suing News International for stopping paying his legal fees – I thought I’d post this, Mark E Smith’s rant against phone tapping (which isn’t […]

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Labour Conference Special – 10 Things I’d Like To See This Week

September 26, 2011

The Lib-Dems have returned to whatever sunshine home they’d escaped from and now it’s the turn of the comrades as Labour gathers for its annual gathering of the party faithful in Liverpool. It’s a vastly important conference for Labour – although they are ahead in the opinion polls, it is clear that support for them […]

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#291: 1980, The Beat, Stand Down Margaret

September 25, 2011

Recently we’ve had a couple of reggae tunes turn up on our award winning STLAS feature – I have to say that, in it’s purest form, it is not a genre that I know a great deal about. However, I do remember a time when white punk and New Wave bands discovered and embraced reggae […]

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Week 38: Villain – Georgia

September 25, 2011

This Week’s Villain of the Week Award goes to the…American State of Georgia In the summer of 2007 Jackie South and I spent a couple of days in Georgia’s capital and biggest city, Atlanta.   I cannot say it was a city I particularly warmed to.   Partly because it is a sprawling city that covers a […]

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Week 38: Prat – Sarah Teather MP

September 25, 2011

This week’s Prat of the Week Award goes to Lib-Dem MP for Brent Central and Minister for Schools, Sarah Teather What was she thinking? (and in case you haven’t seen it – press and cringe) I mean everyone knows, Rule 1 of the Ancient Laws for Politicians; a set of rules so old that Plato […]

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Week 38: Hero – Mahmoud Abbas

September 25, 2011

This week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been recognised as our Hero Of The Week By ‘President’, we mean of course President of the Palestinian National Authority, not Palestine itself which has been denied international recognition since 1948.  When the Palestinian National Authority was formed in the wake of the Oslo Accord in 1993, it […]

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Has the Boundary Commission Done Sinn Fein a Favour?

September 24, 2011

Last week, I posted on the impact of the proposed boundary changes on the political parties in London and promised to cover other regions in later posts.  For the second part of this series, I’ve taken a look at the home of the South family of yesteryear, Northern Ireland.  The map below shows the current […]

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#290: 1959, Mahalia Jackson, Trouble Of The World

September 23, 2011

As we approach the all important Songs To Learn and Sing #300, it is natural for thoughts to turn to surprising omissions in the songs that have appeared so far.  It explains in part why the last handful of songs have at last seen a song posted from 1962, the last of the years from […]

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(After the) Lib Dem Conference Special: Bullshit Detector #3 – The Lib Dems Are A Restraint On The Tories

September 23, 2011

One of the constantly repeated messages in the Lib Dem Conference was that the Lib Dems, by being in government, act as a brake on the right wing instincts of the Tories.    In the early part of the conference – before Clegg, in his speech, blamed all of the world’s ills on Gordon Brown – […]

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#289: 1978, Althea & Donna, Uptown Top Ranking

September 22, 2011

A couple of songs back, George East pointed out the dearth of reggae to date on Songs to Learn and Sing, and took a step to rectify that with Pressure Drop. I thought I should take his admonishment to heart and follow suit.  Althea & Donna were possibly the most stratospheric one hit wonder band […]

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Troy Davis – America’s Great Shame

September 22, 2011

In 1989, in Savannah, Georgia, a policeman, Mark McPhail was shot and killed as he worked a shift as a security guard at a branch of Burger King. A short while later, a convicted felon, Troy Davis was arrested and charged with McPhail’s murder. He pleaded not guilty, offering an alibi for the offence, but […]

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#288: 1993, R.E.M, Everybody Hurts

September 21, 2011

When I was in the sixth form it was really cool to go to a University open day and buying a massive poster of your favourite band. I remember one of my not very close friends coming back from Leeds with a poster of R.E.M – to my abiding shame, I looked at the poster […]

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Lib Dem Conference Special: Clegg Rules Out Entering Coalition With Labour Ever

September 21, 2011

Owing to work commitments I did not get a chance to watch Nick Clegg’s conference speech live.  I read the early media reports and Ray North’s take here at Allthatsleft, which in my view was far too kind.  However, I have only just gone on the Lib Dem party website and read the speech in full.  Unless […]

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Lib Dem Conference Special: Bullshit Detector #2 – The Brave and Inevitable Rightness of Austerity Economics

September 21, 2011

It is repeatedly stated by senior Lib Dems that it is the government’s deficit reduction programme that is the glue that holds the Coalition together.    That it is only the steadfast commitment to George Osborne’s programme of swingeing spending cuts and tax increases that is saving the country from an economic fate worse than death.    […]

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Nick Clegg Speech – Confusing, Depressing and Dull

September 21, 2011

I wanted to be enthused by Nick Clegg’s speech. I wanted to be as rapturous as the party faithful who have this week proved themselves to be Labrador-like in their loyalty to their leader, clapping enthusiastically at every mention of how much of their manifesto has been adopted and how they are true defenders of […]

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#287: 1970, Toots & The Maytals, Pressure Drop

September 20, 2011

Ray’s last pick, the Bee Gees’ superlative Stayin’ Alive was only the second classic disco track to feature in Songs To Learn and Sing (Donna Summer’s Love To Love You Baby is the other). Another sadly under-represented musical style is reggae.  Although there has been some slight (but unnecessary) defensiveness about the disco posts, a […]

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Lib Dem Conference Special – Bullshit Detector #1: The Polling Recovery

September 20, 2011

As Ray North noted yesterday there has been an extraordinary air of self-satisfaction and complacency on display at the Lib Dem conference.   A blinkered determination by Ministers, MPs and delegates alike to only hear what they want to hear, and a very unliberal jumping down the throat of anyone who dares to express a view […]

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Lib-Dem Conference Special – some tips for Nick Clegg’s Speech

September 20, 2011

Back in the early 1990’s, I drafted a speech for Paddy Ashdown on the issue of unemployment. I remember being petrified as I tentatively handed it to the great captain, whom promptly read the first two paragraphs, before scrunching up his eyes until they became non-existent, looking beyond me at some spectral image that must […]

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Why Politicians Make Bad Stand-Up Comedians…

September 19, 2011

You’d have thought she’d have learnt from Lembit, but here’s Sarah Teather at the Lib Dem conference making an early bid for our Prat Of The Week award.  Try not to cringe too much…

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#286: 1962, Tony Sheridan, What’d I Say

September 19, 2011

I had a chat with the guv’nor on Saturday, who pointed out that we had still to post a tune from 1962 here on Songs To Learn and Sing.  So here goes… You may not have heard of Tony Sheridan, or his backing band The Beat Brothers, who he met playing in Hamburg. As the You Tube […]

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Lib-Dem Conference Special – amazingly, they’re still in denial!

September 19, 2011

Its hard to know what is in bigger trouble – the Lib-Dems or the economy. In truth both are pretty much fucked. Amazingly at this week’s Lib-Dem conference the mood continues to be one of smug self-congratulatory contentedness and mindless optimism. It’s clear that the Lib-Dems are heading happily towards the abyss of electoral annihilation. […]

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