Today’s Music to Cheer me up in Isolation! – Phil Ochs!

Well today I will be playing Phil Ochs – loud – while I work. I love his passion and sensibilities. I miss him. It is so sad that he was a victim of alcohol and depression. Such a great man and such brilliant music.

This is a rare live concert. A bit muddy but it’s Phil!!

The Ballad of Spycatcher – Leon Rosselson

The more I hear about the antics of the establishment the more chilling it becomes. They actively plot to prevent a Labour government. They even believed Wilson to be a Russian spy and planned a coup! Incredible.

The link to the song is at the end. Give it a listen.

The Ballad of Spycatcher – Leon Rosselson

Now listen children while I sing

this ballad I’ve just made

About a Peter (Wright, not Rabbit), a spycatcher by trade

I’ll sing of how he joined a special gang called MI5

Who guard the nation’s secrets so that liberty may thrive

And of how young Peter, quick to learn, soon got to know the ropes

The trick of picking locks

The art of opening envelopes

And of how the senior officers began their working day

By trying to solve the crossword… in The Times (needless to say) [Chorus]

But of all the strange things I’ll relate

The strangest thing to me

Is that this doggerel I am singing contravenes the Rule of Free

For Nanny (God bless Nanny) Thinks it wouldn’t do

For you to know about the naughty things that grown-up people do [Interlude]

S.F. (Special Facility) was Peter’s favourite toy

And night and day he played with it like any little boy

For bugging rooms and tapping ‘phones were things he loved the best

‘Five years’ said Wright ‘we bugged and burgled at the state’s behest’

We bugged the Russian embassy which wasn’t very chique

So we bugged the French, the Chinese, the Egyptians and the Greek

Bugged Khrushchev’s rooms in Clarriages and listened in with care

While ‘K’ decided on his tie and how to part his hair [Chorus]

But of all the strange things I relate

The strangest thing to me

Is that this doggeral I am singing contravenes the Rule of Free

For Nanny (God bless Nanny) Thinks it wouldn’t do

For you to know about the naughty things that grown-up people do

They bugged colonial conferences

Then they turned their minds to keeping tabs on millitants

and ‘lefties’ of all kinds

Trade-unionists and studens where the targests of their whiles

They burgled C.P. member’s homes and stole the party’s files

And what did it add up to?

And what did it avail?

All this bugging and burgling and intercepting mail

Did it save us from the Russians?

Did it help to keep us free?

Did it keep this country green and pleasant?

Did it buggery!

But of all the strange things I relate

The strangest thing to me

Is that this doggeral I am singing contravenes the Rule of Free

For Nanny (God bless Nanny) Thinks it wouldn’t do

For you to know about the naughty things that grown-up people do

‘The trouble was’ said Wright ‘That we often were mislead’

‘And the Russians always seemed to be a step or two ahead’

‘For what ever MI5 knew, the Russians knew it too’

‘And when we knew they knew we knew, they knew we knew they knew’

Penkovsky, was he theirs or ours? A triumph or a con?

So back-and-forth and round-and-round the maisy dance went on

While Peter set up operations Sunshine, Pigroot, Choir

Dew-worm, Mole (what lovely names!) and saw them all mis-fire

But of all the strange things I relate

The strangest thing to me

Is that this doggeral I am singing contravenes the Rule of Free

For Nanny (God bless Nanny) Thinks it wouldn’t do

For you to know about the naughty things that grown-up people do

‘I fear the worst’ says Peter G ‘And this I can’t fogive:’

‘For years the Secret Service has been leaking like a seive’

‘The evidence is growing there is someone placed on-high’

‘Who’s tipping-off the Russians’

‘A traitor and a spy’

Was it Mitchell?

Was it Hollice (The outfit’s own D.G.)?

‘Incredible!’ I hear you say

But Wright would not agree

His finger points to Hollice

‘I’ll unmask him if I can’

‘He’s ex-public school and Oxford, and I’ve never liked the man’

And now my tales grows farcicle

And should we laugh or cry?

For the C.I.A man Angleton names Wilson as a Spy

And Cecil King in ’68 decides to lead a coup

Against the Wilson government

So strange it must be true

And certain shady businessmen asked Peter for the gen

To do the dirt on Wilson and keep him out of Number 10

And a group of senior officers tell Wright of their intent

To save us from the clutches of a Labour government

But of all the strange things I relate

The strangest thing to me

Is that this doggeral I am singing contravenes the Rule of Free

For Nanny (God bless Nanny) Thinks it wouldn’t do

For you to know about the naughty things that grown-up people do

Now I haven’t time to tell you of those other dirty tricks

Like the plot to bump-off Nasser (but that was MI6)

And of how the C.I.A planned in 1965 to open up their sharky mouth

And swallow MI5 alive

But one more thing I feel that I should bring to your attention:

For all his pains poor Peter never got his propper pension

So why not buy his book yourself and do the man some good

So he can die comfort as ex-spycatchers should

But of all the things I’ve told you

The strangest thing to me

Is that this doggeral I am singing contravenes the Rule of Three

For Nanny (God bless Nanny) Thinks it wouldn’t do

For you to know about the naughty things that spycatchers do

America – the craziness of competition!!

I am boggled by Trump and the craziness of competition!! It is obscene!!

Trump is stuck in some capitalist nightmare! He can only see money!

He is refusing to create a Federal response to the Corona virus emergency because he says it smacks of socialism. Hence we have the madness of different States competing with each other for scant resources instead of cooperating.

So New York is desperate for ventilators and protective clothing but has to compete with other States for these things. There is a bidding war. Some States are outbidding others and selfishly stocking up. The only people who prosper are the manufacturers who are receiving obscene prices for their goods while people die!!

Profiteering out of death and misery!! How can that be morally right??

Trump claims that this is alright and the capitalist way.

In Europe Germany is donating ventilators to Italy to help in the crisis. They are shipping stricken Italians to Germany to treat them in their hospitals. This is compassionate goodwill.

If your neighbour is sick you help them. You don’t walk by on the other side of the road! There is such hypocrisy in these supposedly Christian people who are profiting from death.

If there is one thing the world needs to learn from this crisis it is that people and nature matter more than money!!

Cooperation is preferable to competition!! Isn’t that what Jesus was saying?? How come it takes an atheist to point out this hypocrisy to greedy, selfish Christians??

What the world needs now is compassion, altruism and cooperation. Thank heavens there are so many caring people out there who are not seeing everything in dollar signs!!

Ye Vagabonds – Supporting Roy Harper in Edinburgh at the Usher Hall

Ye Vagabonds – Supporting Roy Harper in Edinburgh at the Usher Hall

The Mac Gloinn brothers again performed their superb support in Edinburgh. They brought old Celtic songs to life with their great harmonies, interweaving their voices in a delicate beauty, while their own compositions fitted in seamlessly. The tones of their voices complemented each other so well. A joy to hear and a fitting start to the concert. At times they reminded me of the Incredible String Band – at other times they were quite unique. This blend of harmonies has a long tradition that goes way back into Celtic history and was resurrected in the early country and western of the 1930s-1960s in the USA. Brothers have that genetic link and upbringing that enable the nuances to develop so well. There are a host of them (Louvin, Delmore and Maddox to name a few). This was the area that the Everly Brothers tapped into on their album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us and I was interested to see that the Mc Gloinns had a cover of Barbara Allen (Barbara Ellen on their album). The stand out track for me was their own composition – Pomegranate. I look forward to seeing them again for a longer set in more intimate surrounds.

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Following their set I nipped along to purchase a CD and have a brief chat. Brian and Diarmuid were doing good business. I obviously wasn’t alone in liking their sound. They were proving popular.

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I asked if they were touring and they told me that they were bringing out another CD soon and would likely be touring the UK in December or January. I told them to be sure to play York and Hull (musical heart of Britain).

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At the end of the concert, which was the end of the tour,  Roy brought them on stage. They had just been part of something momentous – the return of Britain’s greatest singer-songwriter!

Phil Ochs – I Ain’t Marching Anymore – Great anti-war song lyrics.

Phil Ochs – I Ain’t Marching Anymore – Great anti-war song lyrics.

Phil Ochs was one of the great ‘Protest’ singers from the sixties. His music was topical with a social and political message.

I’m reclaiming the word ‘Protest’ because it was used pejoratively as a put down by the establishment. There is nothing wrong with protest and dissidence. We need our voices speaking out about madness. They make you stop and think and maybe re-evaluate. Is there a better way? Is this a knee-jerk reaction? Is war the best option?

War – what does it solve? There’s no money to solve poverty or rebuild our slums. Yet miraculously there’s always money for stealth bombers. We built our cities up. We knock ’em down.

We elect psychopaths because they are strong, black and white and clear. We love strong leadership. We react emotionally and hit out instead of rationally and thoughtfully with diplomacy and communication. We like to be strong. We will not be pushed around!

We build them up. We knock ’em down.

Lives are destroyed.

Phil was a voice who spoke out against the madness of war. He thought there was a better way.

I Ain’t Marching Anymore

Oh, I marched to the battle of New Orleans
At the end of the early British war
The young land started growing
The young blood started flowing
But I ain’t marching anymore

For I’ve killed my share of Indians
In a thousand different fights
I was there at the Little Big Horn
I heard many men lying, I saw many more dying
But I ain’t marching anymore

It’s always the old to lead us to the war
It’s always the young to fall
Now look at all we’ve won with the saber and the gun
Tell me is it worth it all

For I stole California from the Mexican land
Fought in the bloody Civil War
Yes, I even killed my brothers
And so many others
But I ain’t marching anymore

For I marched to the battles of the German trench
In a war that was bound to end all wars
Oh, I must have killed a million men
And now they want me back again
But I ain’t marching anymore

It’s always the old to lead us to the war
It’s always the young to fall
Now look at all we’ve won with the saber and the gun
Tell me is it worth it all

For I flew the final mission in the Japanese sky
Set off the mighty mushroom roar
When I saw the cities burning I knew that I was learning
That I ain’t marching anymore

Now the labor leader’s screamin’
When they close the missile plants
United Fruit screams at the Cuban shore
Call it, Peace, or call it, Treason
Call it, Love, or call it, Reason
But I ain’t marching anymore
No, I ain’t marching anymore

Migration and Immigration – why we need checks.

Migration and Immigration – why we need checks.

The overriding issue that was behind Brexit was immigration. There is a fear of terrorism, a feeling that we are being swamped with foreigners – particularly Muslims and Eastern Europeans, a sense that they are taking our jobs, receiving housing and benefits, causing overcrowding, creating problems for schools and the NHS, putting pressure on transport, displacing our culture and not wanting to assimilate and take on British values.

How accurate are these fears?

Is there a basis to them?

Is an opposition to mass immigration xenophobic or even racist?

The British people are a mongrel race. We always have been. We take in immigrants from all over the world, welcome them and assimilate them into our culture. I like the richness of culture that introduces. I like the cosmopolitan communities it produces and I like the way immigrants over the centuries have assimilated, become British, taken on our customs and values while still celebrating their own heritage.

But I do not think it is either racist or xenophobic to be concerned with mass immigration. It is the sheer numbers and attitudes of the recent immigrants that are causing the problems.

We have areas of the country with high Muslim populations who have completely displaced the indigenous people and culture. The perception is that many do not wish to assume British values at all. There are militants in the Muslim community who espouse to take over Britain and bring in Sharia law. The Hijab and Burqa do not fit easy with many people. It represents a culture and attitudes they do not agree with. Many, because of the association with terrorism and this strident, arrogant militancy, find it threatening.

There are a number of Muslims who support ISIS and the Caliphate. People find this traitorous to the country they have come to live in. ISIS is our avowed enemy. We have had terrorism from these militants. It creates suspicion and fear. In reality the number of incidents are few, the Intelligence Services are doing a good job rooting the militants out before they cause atrocities, and most Muslims do not subscribe to these extreme views.

There are Eastern European shops opening all over the place and Eastern European languages all around in many cities. I do not think that people have a problem with this until it reaches a point where they feel saturated and displaced.

Yes it does cause big pressures on the NHS, Schools, housing and the infra-structure. That causes aggravation but I don’t think it is the main issue.

The main issue is not one of racism, xenophobia or pressures on services – it is simply that there have been too many people coming in.

I believe we need immigration. We need labour for our economy. We need to staff the NHS, to pick crops, to work in Old People’s Homes. These people are valued. Their cultures are respected.

But when they come here they should respect our culture and if they are planning to stay, be prepared to assimilate into our communities.

In my opinion this integration is not assisted by more Faith Schools or concentrations of immigrants in any one area.

Education is the long-term solution. But mass immigration needs curbing. We need to stop so many coming into the country and the ones that do come in need processing. We do not need terrorists, criminals or people who do not subscribe to our values being allowed into the country.

We did not need to leave Europe to achieve this. Most of Europe wants the same thing. It surely is not beyond the wit of man to devise a practical system?

Roy Harper – Edinburgh Usher Hall Review – A Man for all Seasons!

Roy Harper – Edinburgh Usher Hall Review – A Man for all Seasons!

Roy Harperp1140197-2 A Man for all Seasons!

I’d go to the ends of the Earth to catch a Harper concert – well at least the ends of the country! That’s pretty much what I’ve just done – from the Royal Festival Hall in the deep south of the Thames Delta in London to the Usher Hall in Edinburgh – the northern granite fortress of Scotland. (OK – not quite Land’s End to John O’Groats). And what a stunning adventure – out of this world!

I’ve seen Roy perform for nigh on fifty years and I can affirm that at the age of seventy five none of his musical skills or voice has diminished an iota. He is as good as ever. Like a good wine he leaves the brain intoxicated with a fine zest tingling the senses.

In the Spring of his career he was forceful, capricious and furiously blowing this way and that with hurricane fury and torrents of words lashing the brains of all who ventured near. Like a tempest – unyielding, creative and wild.

In his Summer years he burned, scorched ears and laid waste to all he despised with vitriol and skill. His epics had scope, genius and barbed insight unparalleled in the world of music.

But, as we all know, it is in the Autumn that the vine bears fruit and the harvest is brought in. Roy is busy gathering in the fruits of the decades and creating a sumptuous smorgasbord to lay before us.

Over the years Harper concerts have been gatherings of the faithful where we were treated to a sharing of the feast in what had become his front room. But this mature Harper has honed each and every song into a gem of a performance. It’s the same feast but the presentation skills are manifest.

Working with a bunch of supremely talented musicians – the strings and brass under the direction of Fiona Brice, Beth Symmons on double bass and Bill Shanley on guitar and banjo – has harnessed Roy to a greater structure and in so doing has enabled his musical genius to shine. In order to synchronise with such accomplished musicians Roy has had to rein in his idiosyncrasies and focus on delivery. But there is no loss of power for all this – the music is all the greater. The backing has superbly augmented Roy’s compositions to unleash their inherent beauty and strengths.

Neither has this detracted from Roy’s rambling intros, beloved by many and a source of immense frustration to others, but usually shedding insight and setting to the compositions.

It was exactly the same set as at the Royal Festival Hall and so I will not dwell too long on the set save to say that Me and My Woman, Hallucinating Light, Don’t You Grieve, Time is Temporary, 12 Hours of Sunset and When An Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease were so well crafted that the quality was up there with a studio produced sound. They were crafted gems.

That is not to detract from the rest of the set either. Hangman and Hors D’ Oeuvres were full of Roy’s anger and passion.

Three years ago we were witnessing a Harper renaissance. He was finally receiving the plaudits that should always have been there, and his live and studio performances were reaching the heights.

I was concerned that a three year lay-off might have brought an end to this late flourish. I am pleased to report that it hasn’t!

Roy is back! This tour was a triumph! This Harper nut has received another fix. Hopefully it will be sufficient to tide him over to the next outing – the withdrawal symptoms are too great to bear.

Make it soon Roy!

A great way to create more integration! I know – Faith Schools!

A great way to create more integration! I know – Faith Schools!

The major problems occur in society when people live apart and become suspicious of each other. To mingle and talk is great; it breaks down barriers so that people discover they are all intrinsically similar. We humans are one people.

Religion, race and culture separate people. When people get together in multicultural ways they can benefit from the richness of different cultures. It cross-fertilises. It brings colour, vitality and joy. Out of it comes hybrids that invigorate.

It is when people become segregated from each other and alienated that trouble occurs.

We used to have a great fear of black culture from Jamaica, Pakistanis, Indians and Sikhs. But most of the people who arrived in the fifties and sixties have been integrated, taken on British values and fit in.

I know it is not perfect. A lot of work still needs doing. We need more cohesion and equality, more respect and sharing.

These days we have major problems with our Muslim community and radicalisation.

So what about a great way to bring people from different religions, cultures and races together – why not segregate them in Faith Schools!!!

Who the hell thought up such a stupid idea?

Let’s set up Jihadi colleges and Creationist schools! Why not? I mean it isn’t as if we haven’t already had problems with radicalisation in Birmingham schools; it isn’t as if there are thousands of unregistered schools indoctrinating kids with who knows what; it isn’t as if we haven’t had the Christian Catholic school indoctrinating kids.

What madness is this?

Is this a means of getting religion to fund schools?

Are GCSE results the only thing that count? Have we totally lost sight of the big picture?

There are all sorts of extreme religious fanatics who would like nothing better than to get their hands on our kids!

Segregation is not the answer to integration!a-passion-for-education-cover This is how it should be done!

Fela Kuti – Zombie – Lyrics to kill for.

Fela Kuti – Zombie – Lyrics to kill for.

Fela was extraordinary. Not just in his music but his life too. He was a black radical. He opposed the regime in Nigeria and was severely tortured and imprisoned for speaking out and opposing them. It didn’t stop him though. He still openly opposed the regime even after they ransacked his studios and killed his mother. He wrote this song for the mindless soldiers who carry out the orders to kill, arrest, torture and destroy.

Zombie – Fela Kuti

Zombie o, zombie (Zombie o, zombie)
Zombie o, zombie (Zombie o, zombie)

Zombie no go go, unless you tell am to go (Zombie)
Zombie no go stop, unless you tell am to stop (Zombie)
Zombie no go turn, unless you tell am to turn (Zombie)
Zombie no go think, unless you tell am to think (Zombie)

Tell am to go straight
A joro, jara, joro
No break, no job, no sense
A joro, jara, joro
Tell am to go kill
A joro, jara, joro
No break, no job, no sense
A joro, jara, joro
Tell am to go quench
A joro, jara, joro
No break, no job, no sense
A joro, jara, joro

Go and kill! (Joro, jaro, joro)
Go and die! (Joro, jaro, joro)
Go and quench! (Joro, jaro, joro)
Put am for reverse! (Joro, jaro, joro)

Joro, jara, joro, zombie wey na one way
Joro, jara, joro, zombie wey na one way
Joro, jara, joro, zombie wey na one way

Joro, jara, joro

Attention! (Zombie)
Quick march!
Slow march! (Zombie)
Left turn!
Right turn! (Zombie)
About turn!
Double up! (Zombie)
Salute!
Open your hat! (Zombie)
Stand at ease!
Fall in! (Zombie)
Fall out!
Fall down! (Zombie)
Get ready!

Halt!

Order!

Dismiss!

Songwriters
KUTI, FELA /