From the monthly archives:

October 2011

#319: 1968, Big Brother & The Holding Company, Piece Of My Heart

October 31, 2011

Today, George East gave us a great (if belated) run-down of our first 300 Songs To Learn And Sing.  He asked for readers’ run-down of missing artists, which Ray and I have both dutifully given. There are a few artists on my list that were also on my list when George asked the same question at […]

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Songs To Learn and Sing: The First 300

October 31, 2011

Ok, so with yesterday’s posting by Ray North of Paul Robeson’s version of Summertime there have now been 318 entries in our daily song feature, Songs To Learn and Sing.     This though is a somewhat belated review of the first 300 of those entries, which was reached on 6 October when Ray posted Jimi Hendrix’s […]

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Regional Growth Fund: Another Sleight of Hand From Cameron and Clegg

October 31, 2011

On the day in which the International Labour Organisation warned that the global economy is on the verge of a new and deep jobs recession and the OECD cut projected growth rates in the Eurozone for 2012 to woeful 0.3%, Nick Clegg and David Cameron have taken to the press and the airwaves to boast […]

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#318: 1935, Paul Robeson, Summertime

October 30, 2011

Summertime is an aria from Porgy and Bess written by George Gershwin in 1935. I haven’t picked it because of that though, nor have I picked it because it was a song my mother sang to me when I was a child (though that would be good enough for me), no, I’ve chosen it because […]

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Week 43: Villain – Adrian Beecroft

October 30, 2011

This week the Allthatsleft Villain of the Week Award goes to former Chief Investment Officer and Senior Managing Partner of Apax and member of the government’s Challenge Group, Adrian Beecroft Way back in June 2010 the newly elected Coalition government set up the laughably named Independent Challenge Group to ‘think the thinkable’ on public spending […]

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Week 43: Prat – Vince Cable MP

October 30, 2011

This weeks Prat of the Week is the Secretary of State for Industry and ballroom dancer – Vince Cable MP Its a warm welcome back to the podium for one time self-appointed saviour of the known world – Vince Cable. Now since becoming a Minister in the Coalition Government, Vincey has found being a prat […]

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Week 43: Hero – Dr Giles Fraser

October 30, 2011

This week, our hero award goes to Dr Giles Fraser, who resigned this week as Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral I was perhaps a little dismissive of the Occupy The City protesters a couple of weeks back: their occupation outside St Paul’s has done more to sustain attention on the behaviour of the City […]

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#317: 1959, Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, The Wayfaring Stranger

October 29, 2011

Steve Earle’s superlative performance at the Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday night which Jackie blogged about at STLAS #316 included a wistful moment when Steve was recounting recording his 1999 album The Mountain with the Del McCoury Band who he described as ‘the best bluegrass band in the world’. Steve  Earle might well be right about […]

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Labour’s Higgins cruises to Irish Presidency

October 28, 2011

The final result from yesterday’s presidential election in the Republic of Ireland won’t be known until tomorrow, but it is clear that 70-year old poet Michael D Higgins, the former minister for culture and the Irish Labour Party’s candidate, will win from the count of first preferences.  He took 40% of the first preferences, compared […]

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The Legal Aid Bill – another slap in the face for justice

October 28, 2011

The Legal Aid Bill, currently making its way through Parliament is nothing short of a disaster – it is a disaster for those who may want to have recourse to the Courts but haven’t got a great deal of funds; it is a disaster for women who are the victims of domestic abuse; it is […]

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#316: 2011, Steve Earle, Little Emperor

October 26, 2011

Yesterday was a day when I managed to get a big tick on the bucket list: having missed out on Steve Earle’s visit to these shores last year I finally got to see him perform at the Royal Festival Hall.  Not only that, but I got to shake the hand of the great man afterwards, […]

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What a shock – the Tories turn their guns on ‘lazy workers’!

October 26, 2011

A year and a half in power and any notion that David Cameron was the leader of a sane and rational party that embraced compassionate conservatism has been well and truly destroyed: first there was austerity programme; then there was the reform of the benefit system and in particular incapacity benefit; then we’ve had the […]

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#315: 1980, Joy Division, Love Will Tear Us Apart

October 25, 2011

This song is a work of genius. A huge omission from the first 300 odd songs that we have celebrated on our website. I hadn’t intended to choose it today, I had another gem firmly in mind for today, then, I discovered that it was John Peel Day, a day to mark the sixth anniversary […]

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Europe and the Tories: The Bastards Won

October 25, 2011

It is hard to know which is the correct response to last night’s outbreak of the crazy in the Conservative Party – Ray North’s despair, or my raucous laughter.   81 Tory MPs rebelled against a three line whip and a rather pitiful pleading Davey Cam speech after a cancelled Prime Ministerial trip.  A further 14 […]

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Kirchner’s Victory Shows the Error of Austerity

October 24, 2011

Christina Fernandez de Kirchner’s victory in yesterday’s Argentine presidential election shows not only her extraordinary popularity at the end of her first term of office but also how rejecting the orthodoxy of austerity economics – the blind adherence to the importance of deficit reduction – can be a recipe for success. In all the European […]

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#314: 1974, Cockney Rebel, Mr Soft

October 24, 2011

On Saturday night I went to my Aunt’s 50th birthday party - a family bash of the old school in a social club hall, complete with buffet and cheesy disco. She is far nearer to me in age than she is to her older sister, my mother. When I was growing up, she lived in London with […]

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A Tale of Two Countries: Tunisia and Iraq

October 24, 2011

Yesterday the first of the post-Arab Spring democratic elections. These took place, fittingly, in the cradle of this year’s extraordinary events, Tunisia.   The wave of revolutions and protests that have cascaded through the Arab world all started when a frustrated young man, Mohammed Bouazizi, set himself on fire on 17 December last year.  Bouazizi had […]

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Should we have a referendum on the EU?

October 24, 2011

Let’s not beat around the bush – the Tories who have engineered a debate on a referendum on our membership of the EU have one agenda, and that is to leave the European Union: they don’t like Europeans telling us how to protect our employers; they don’t like Europeans implementing laws about free trade; and […]

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Rugby World Cup: Team of the Tournament

October 23, 2011

Well, as ever the Ray North Crystal Ball was as a bit like the French team – occasionally spot on but more often than not, pretty rubbish. I said: Wales wouldn’t get out of their group – they got to the Semi. I said: England would get to the Semi-final – they were rubbish. Though […]

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#313: 1976, Junior Murvin / Lee Scratch Perry, Police and Thieves

October 23, 2011

Somehow, we’ve got to 23 October on Songs to Learn and Sing without mentioning that it’s Black History Month. That’s not to say that it has been a month without black artists (see here, here and here) although the Welsh have featured more heavily. My reason for choosing this is similar to that behind my choice […]

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Week 42: Villain – Dave Harnett

October 23, 2011

This week, of Villain award goes to Dave Hartnett, the permanent secretary for tax at HM Revenue & Customs, for both cutting deals with businesses such as Goldman Sachs and Vodafone to let them off paying millions in tax and, it is alleged, then misleading Parliament about it. As we’ve pointed out many times on these pages, […]

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Week 42: Hero, Steve Rotheram MP

October 23, 2011

This week’s Hero of the Week Award goes to the MP for Liverpool, Walton, Steve Rotheram In the last week or so, I have criticised politicians of the right and left for being uninspiring, cowardly and increasingly irrelevant. I have also written in the last year about my scepticism for e-petitions, which I damned as […]

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Week 42: Prat – Senator Marco Rubio

October 23, 2011

This Week’s Prat of The Week Award goes to the Republican Senator for Florida….Marco Rubio Amidst the successes of the Tea Party right in last November’s elections in the US, one of the most striking was the landslide victory of the 40 year old Marco Rubio.   Until his run for Senate Rubio had been the […]

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This Is Not A Film Review: The Case of Jafar Panahi

October 23, 2011

Ever since Abbas Kiarostami emerged on the international film scene in the late 1980s, Iran has produced some of the most stimulating and interesting cinema in the world.   The greatness of its national cinema over the last couple of decades I think is rooted in a combination of a highly educated population, a deep seated […]

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#312: 1980, Th’Dudes, Bliss

October 22, 2011

New Zealand have reached the Rugby World Cup Final and I for one hope that they win it. They are, without doubt the greatest rugby playing nation on the planet and the fact that for the last twenty four years they haven’t won it, has been a source of huge bewilderment and pain to each […]

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Ralph Harris, New Labour and The Origins of the Current Despair

October 22, 2011

Both Ray North and I have each posted  a rather despairing cri de couer over the last few days.  Mine was in the form of Song To Learn and Sing #311, the Gang of Four’s Damaged Goods. Both of us have identified what appears to be a complete disconnect between the political elites and what […]

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Whatever Happened To The Heroes?

October 22, 2011

I am starting to feel a deep sense of shame when I consider the achievements of my generation: mine is the generation that voraciously embraced wealth and consumerism; mine in the generation that ignored the evidence of impending environmental catastrophe; mine is the generation that wallowed in the tabloid stories that were acquired by eavesdropping […]

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Facebook Rioters and the strange sniff of conspiracy

October 21, 2011

Last week the Court of Appeal rejected the appeals of the two young lads from Northwich and Warrington who had set up Facebook Sites urging people to riot. Now for those who aren’t familiar with the facts – in the midst of the riots this summer, a young man from Northwich called Jordan Blackshaw got […]

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#311: 1978, Gang of Four, Damaged Goods

October 19, 2011

Things over the last few months feel like they are beginning to fracture.  There have been riots in our city centres on a scale unprecedented in recent memory.  We have an economy which is going down the tubes with a government which is so ideologically blinkered as to the effects of what it is doing, […]

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Hillsborough – 22 years of hurt

October 18, 2011

I remember the 15th April 1989 very clearly. I was back home in Llandudno and had played rugby for my local team. When I got to bar afterwards, reports were just coming through that there had been some ‘trouble’ at Hillsborough, and that it was serious. I remember getting a drink and talking to Bill […]

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