From the monthly archives:

December 2011

#368: 1994, Primal Scream, Rocks

December 31, 2011

Yesterday, George East posted his Top Ten Gigs of 2011. We may have argued about some of them (no Drive-By Truckers, and Steve Earle only at #7 is plain wrong!) but we had no quarrel about the number one slot: the Justice Tonight Hillsborough campaign benefit, with Mick Jones, Pete Wylie and The Farm headlining. In […]

Read the full article →

West Country Boundary Changes Part 4: Gloucestershire

December 31, 2011

I’ve been looking at the proposed Parliamentary boundary changes in South West England this week.  Having covered Cornwall and Devon, Somerset and the Greater Bristol area, and Dorset and Wiltshire, it leaves only Gloucestershire to cover.  The map below shows the current state of play. The changes proposed by the Boundary Commission for the county are relatively minor, […]

Read the full article →

Sad To See You Leaving 2011: Amy Winehouse

December 31, 2011

We wrote at the time of Amy Winehouse’s death in July about what a grievous loss her death was to music, and despaired at politicians trying to make capital out of her death to push their own narrow social-conservative agenda when her body was hardly cold. With all the headlines over the years, her talent […]

Read the full article →

Sad To See You Leaving 2011: Elizabeth Taylor

December 30, 2011

By the time she died in March this year she was a slightly absurd figure and had been so for three decades or more.  Overly made up, overly jewelled up, the Queen of conspicuous consumption – an appropriate friend for that most ridiculous of all megastars of recent years, Michael Jackson.  It is not surprising […]

Read the full article →

#367: 1981, Spandau Ballet, Chant No. 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On)

December 30, 2011

Yes, Spandau Ballet. Read it again – S P A N D A U BALLET!! We’ve had every genre on our Songs To Learn To Sing – but, we’ve not had any New Romantic. Now whether we like it or not, those of us on this website started our musical educations at a time when […]

Read the full article →

West Country Boundary Changes Part 3: Dorset and Wiltshire

December 30, 2011

For the third in our series looking at the Boundary Commission’s proposals for Parliamentary constituencies in South West England, I’m turning to Dorset and Wiltshire.  The commission has linked these two counties in its review, and reduced the number of seats there from fifteen to fourteen by creating a constituency crossing the border between the two.  The […]

Read the full article →

George East’s Top Ten Gigs of 2011

December 30, 2011

It is that time of year again.  Time for reviews and lists and top tens and what not.       Like last year my first top ten list will be  my favourite gigs of the year.  albums and films will follow.   2011 was a great year for live music – with some truly top drawer gigs.   Indeed […]

Read the full article →

West Country Boundary Changes part 2: Greater Bristol and Somerset

December 30, 2011

For the second part of my look at the proposed boundary changes in the South West, I’m taking a look at Somerset and the former county of Avon.  These currently have 16 constituencies between them and would keep that number under the proposals.  The current state of play is shown on the map below. Although […]

Read the full article →

#366: 1956, The Louvin Brothers, Kentucky

December 28, 2011

It struck me while writing my Charlie Louvin piece that, we have not ever featured   Louvin Brothers track in Songs To Learn and Sing, not even when Charlie died back in January of this year. That is something which needs to be righted pronto.  This is the lead off track from their second and […]

Read the full article →

Sad To See You Leaving 2011: Charlie Louvin

December 28, 2011

Ira and Charlie Loudermilk, the Louvin Brothers as they were known professionally, were pioneers of close harmony country singing. The Everly Brothers stole their act and popped up the Louvins sound and the millions came rolling in. The Louvin Brothers didn’t have the Everlys puppy dog looks or pushy parents, and had to make do […]

Read the full article →

#365: 2008, Elbow, One Day Like This

December 27, 2011

I had a message from Jackie South this morning, reminding me that this was the 365th Song To Learn And Sing, and that I should make it a good one – as if we ever put anything other than quality music on our website!!! After all, for us, it was always about the music! Something […]

Read the full article →

In Praise Of Select Committees

December 27, 2011

I am struggling to remember one occasion in the last year when a Parliamentary debate rose above the mundane. There has been little in the way of great speeches (the performance of Steve Rotheram being a notable exception), no rebellions, the party battles have been flat and contrived, and PMQ’s have been infuriating as David […]

Read the full article →

West Country Boundary Changes part 1: Cornwall and Devon

December 27, 2011

Back in May, I speculated that the boundary change proposals might help the Lib Dems in Cornwall and Devon.  As part of my series reviewing the published proposals, I am revisiting those counties as the first part of my look at South West England. As a reminder, the current state of play looks* like this: […]

Read the full article →

Sad To See You Leaving 2011: The News of the World

December 27, 2011

A little controversial, this one maybe.   But we have ended the year with James Murdoch and Rupert Murdoch still in their positions – still controlling The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun and yes Sky.   Rebekah Wade so it seems has been set up in an office for a couple of years at News International’s […]

Read the full article →

Sad to See You Leaving 2011: Fred Shuttlesworth and Bill Waller

December 27, 2011

2011 saw the death of two outstanding figures from the American Civil Rights era. Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth From 1956 onwards Fred Shuttlesworth (seated centre in the photo) played the role of the Birmingham, Alabama equivalent to Montgomery’s Martin Luther King.   Along with King he founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference that led the civil […]

Read the full article →

#364: 1992, Rage Against The Machine, Killing in the Name

December 27, 2011

George and Ray have both posted seasonal songs, so I’m following suit with the Christmas number one of two years ago. With yet another media-manufactured single (albeit not Simon Cowell sanctioned) as Christmas number one, we need to be reminded that it doesn’t have to be this way. I take my share of the blame: […]

Read the full article →

Sad To See You Leaving 2011: Gil Scott Heron

December 26, 2011

‘RIP GSH.  And we do what we do and how we do because of you’ tweeted Public Enemy’s Chuck D on hearing that Gil Scott Heron had died from pneumonia at the age of 62 on May 27.    The links between the intelligent political rap of black consciousness epitomised by Long Island’s finest and Gil […]

Read the full article →

Week 51: Villain – Kim Jong-Il

December 25, 2011

This Week’s Villain is the late Leader of North Korea, the Great Leader, Kim Jong-Il. What a total villain! A bastard of the first order! A self-obsessed, brutal, megalomaniac who ensured that the people of North Korea lived in fear and poverty whilst he used up the country’s wealth and natural resources to maintain a […]

Read the full article →

Week 51: Prat(s) – The German Media

December 25, 2011

This Week’s Prat of the Week Award goes to the German media for proving South Park’s point – the Germans really are the least funny people on the planet South Park’s genius has always been the fact that it does not give a monkey’s who it offends. Indeed it positively revels in the offensive and […]

Read the full article →

Week 51: Hero – Vaclav Havel

December 25, 2011

This week, our Hero of the Week award goes to Vaclav Havel. As a young woman, my auntie went on holiday to Czechoslovakia.  For an idealistic, free-living leftie it was an exciting time, the heady days of the Prague Spring.  But that August, the tanks came rolling in.  My auntie had to be smuggled over […]

Read the full article →

#363: 1959, Eddie Cochran and The Holly Twins, All I Want For Christmas Is Elvis

December 25, 2011

Last year our Christmas song was the imperious Pogues and Kirsty McColl’s Fairy Tale Of New York – it is the best the Christmas Single ever – bar none, full-stop, amen – after this, there is no more. So, when I realised that I had the honour of choosing this years Christmas Day song, there […]

Read the full article →

Sad To See You Leaving 2011: Socrates

December 24, 2011

Perhaps, one of the greatest football matches ever played took place on the 5th July 1982, when Brazil met Italy at the Estadio Sarria, Barcelona for a place in the semi-final. Brazil had been outstanding throughout the competition, they’d hammered Scotland and New Zealand and comfortably overcame a very good team from the Soviet Union. […]

Read the full article →

#362: 1963, The Crystals, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

December 24, 2011

Last Christmas Eve, Jackie South posted what is undoubtedly the greatest Christmas (and Christmas Eve) song of all time: The Pogues and Kirsty McColl’s A Fairytale of New York. So in an effort to match that I have decided to post a song from what is undoubtedly the greatest Christmas album of all time (a […]

Read the full article →

Sad To See You Leaving 2011: Pete Postlethwaite

December 24, 2011

Maybe he will be remembered most for playing Mr Kobayashi, the lawyer, in The Usual Suspects or the band leader in Brassed Off but for me his greatest film performance was the one that originally made his name as a film actor: as the violent father of a working class Liverpool family in Terence Davies’ hugely […]

Read the full article →

#361: 1924, Vernon Dalhart, Wreck of the Old 97

December 24, 2011

I’ve been watching the BBC documentary on country music this evening, and although it wasn’t played, it has inspired this pick.  The song was the first ever million-selling record and did much to popularise Country music, or ‘hill billy music’ as it was then known. I’ve posted before that if rock’n’roll is often inspired by the automobile […]

Read the full article →

Mr East Goes To The Movies: The Deep Blue Sea

December 23, 2011

  Terence Davies is one of Britain’s most original and distinctive film makers.  His catholic working class upbringing in Liverpool and his sense of loss for a collective culture that an atomised individualist society no longer values pervades his films.   Although he clearly he has a deep affection for the world in which he grew […]

Read the full article →

#360: 1973, T-Rex, 20th Century Boy

December 22, 2011

By the time I get another chance to post a Song To Learn And Sing – I will have had another birthday. Bloody hell. When will they stop, every year I keep getting older. But I suppose, at least, I didn’t wrap my Mini Metro around a tree at the age of 27, which is […]

Read the full article →

A Look Forward To The US Primaries

December 22, 2011

It’s been a while since we have had a look at next year’s US Presidential race.  So, as the first contest is now less than a fortnight away, let’s see how things are going. Democrats Obama‘s polling still isn’t good, if on a slow upward trend at the moment, but no serious challengers are throwing […]

Read the full article →

#359: 1980, Dead Kennedys, Kill The Poor

December 21, 2011

It’s all gone a bit fey around these parts over the last couple of days with Simon and Garfunkel and The Bangles doing Simon and Garfunkel.  I thought it was time to turn up the tempo, the volume and the attitude with a long overdue second appearance in Songs To Learn and Sing of the […]

Read the full article →

Vince Cable and the Bankers

December 21, 2011

The Count seems to have found his voice again over the last few days.    We have seen a Vince Cable that resembles the politician we witnessed before the Coalition.  A Vince Cable who disappeared completely from view when he fell for the Daily Telegraph honeytrap sting and bragged that he was at ‘war with Rupert […]

Read the full article →