The Chelsea Hotel

In 2010 we went to New York and managed to visit the Chelsea Hotel. The fabled hotel associated with just about everyone.

From poets Dylan Thomas to the Beat poets and writers – Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg.

From writers like Arthur C Clarke, Herbert Huncke and Tom Wolfe.

From Rock Stars like Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Leonard Cohen, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Syd Vicious, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Joni Mitchell, Marianne Faithful and Tom Waits.

It resonated for me with all these lives. This was like a bohemian, artistic paradise. It was something special to walk through the corridors and see the art! I loved it.

Breathe in the air!! This is the Chelsea Hotel – art, Rock, poetry and Punk!!

Treasure Trove of hundreds of Peel Sessions!!

This is a superb collection of gems – live sessions with John Peel. I so miss Peelie!!

There’s enough here to last a lifetime – full sessions by Roy Harper, Stiff Little Fingers, Buzzcocks, Fall, Kinks, Tom Robinson, Stranglers, Specials, Ruts, Incredible String Band, Syd Barrett, Rory Gallagher, P J Harvey, Nirvana, John Cooper Clarke, Fleetwood Mac, Fairport Convention, Elvis Costello, Bob Marley and hundreds more!!!

https://davestrickson.blogspot.com/2020/05/john-peel-sessions.html?showComment=1589468249705#c5145406355853330451

 

THANK YOU DAVE STRICKSON and Noel Bayley!

Quotes – Ian Dury – always one for a succinct comment.

Quotes – Ian Dury – always one for a succinct comment.

All I want for my birthday is another birthday.

Unfortunately Ian, who was suffering from cancer, didn’t get that next birthday. It sends a message to me that we should enjoy every minute that we have! Life is wonderful!

Poetry – A Soundtrack

A Soundtrack

 

There’s a soundtrack to my life,

Illustrating my feelings,

Feeding my mind,

Nourishing my spirit.

 

A soundtrack to love.

A background to work.

 

It is the music,

Intertwined with memories,

That gives colour,

Awakens emotions,

Stokes the fires inside,

To bring me fully alive.

 

That soundtrack contains my essence.

 

Opher – 2.1.2020

 

 

As I have grown up music has played a huge role in my development. The lyrics, the poems, the sounds, have entered into me, expanding my vision, intensifying my experience.

Now, when I hear a certain track, it conjures up memories, feelings and thoughts.

Music is inextricably linked to my life and inner being.

The Clash – Opher’s World pays tribute to genius.

The Clash – Opher’s World pays tribute to genius.

If the Sex Pistols were the battering ram used to knock the doors down then the Clash were the style and substance. Where the Sex Pistols were brash the Clash were cool. Where the Sex Pistols were blatant the Clash were more subtle. They took the energy and vibe of Punk and used it to harness a philosophy of political and social change.

At the time they were described as the intelligentsia of Punk. I’m not sure about that. They didn’t always get it right. There was an element of lauding yobbish behaviour, bank robbery and crime as if it was all part of some planned rebellion against the establishment that would bring about social change. As far as I could see robbing banks was not a career path to encourage and it wasn’t a victimless crime. Putting that aside we do find the Clash taking a stance. Unlike some of the other Punk bands they sought to ally themselves to the Blacks who they identified with as a victimised minority. This put them right at the forefront of Rock against Racism.

This also fostered a liking for Reggae and to a lesser extent Soul which they saw as musical forms that expressed the same defiant lyrical content and rebellious attitude. It meant that they introduced reggae rhythms into their music which was unique among the new Punk bands. They even got Lee Scratch Perry to co-produce a number.

With numbers like ‘White Riot’ which incited young White kids to get out and protest the way the Blacks had done, ‘London’s Burning’, ‘Tommy Gun’, ‘Career Opportunities’, ‘Police and Thieves’ and ‘Garageland’ they set out both their Punk credentials and a desire for direct action. The track ‘I’m so bored with the USA’ was a protest about the dire American crap we were being bombarded with as culture. They might be inspired by the likes of the Ramones and New York Dolls but this was a British Band living in the austerity and class war of Thatcher’s Britain. They were giving a voice to all those disenfranchised kids in British cities and didn’t give a damn about what America thought.

It was the third album – ‘London Calling’ that really sealed them as a great Rock band. It rose above being a mere Punk album with its clear and more sophisticated production, range of styles and songs and yet kept the Punk ethos. They even adopted Rockabilly as an authentic Punk expression. ‘Guns of Brixton’ reaffirmed that identification with Black culture and ‘London Calling’ with its distinctive guitar sound was mainstream Rock. The cover, which was a pastiche of Elvis’s first album with shades of the Who’s smashing guitars, was a move away from the cut and paste of Punk. The Clash had a different look, style and range. The idea of a Punk double album was strange for the new wave. That was more the realm of  the despised progressive bands. However the move away from fast snappy songs to variety and complexity was a sign of development.

There was talk as to whether the Clash could still be thought of as a genuine Punk Band anymore. Yet the attitude was there one hundred percent. It was just that they’d moved up a league and matured. The fire was still there. Also, unlike the Pistols, they had broken into America.

If ‘London Calling’ was controversial for a Punk Band then the triple album Sandanista was even more so. There was an even greater range of styles. Yet once again even the title of the album affirmed the revolutionary nature of the band. Combat Rock with its two singles that proved very commercially viable.

The internal strains began to manifest between Strummer and Jones. Jones got kicked out and after a last effort the band broke up.

What a pity that such a great band should succumb to that ignominous end. They were not merely a top Punk band they were one of the top bands in the world.

John Cooper Clarke – Twat – an hilarious poem put to music.

John Cooper Clarke – Twat – an hilarious poem put to music.

John Cooper Clarke is hilarious. He’s more of a stand up comic than a poet – though his words are special.

This poem is probably the funniest thing I’ve ever heard put to music. His delivery is perfect.

Johnny started up at the same time as Punk and his sensibilities fitted straight in. His repartee is infamous – put down to a heckler – ‘Sorry mate, I can’t hear what you’re saying – Your mouth’s too full of shit.’

I can think of a few people I’d like to play this to.

TWAT

    • Like a Night Club in the morning, you’re the bitter end.

 

    • Like a recently disinfected shit-house, you’re clean round the bend.

 

    • You give me the horrors

 

    • too bad to be true

 

    • All of my tomorrow’s

 

    • are lousy coz of you.

You put the Shat in Shatter
Put the Pain in Spain
Your germs are splattered about
Your face is just a stain

You’re certainly no raver, commonly known as a drag.
Do us all a favour, here… wear this polythene bag.

You’re like a dose of scabies,
I’ve got you under my skin.
You make life a fairy tale… Grimm!

People mention murder, the moment you arrive.
I’d consider killing you if I thought you were alive.
You’ve got this slippery quality,
it makes me think of phlegm,
and a dual personality
I hate both of them.

Your bad breath, vamps disease, destruction, and decay.
Please, please, please, please, take yourself away.
Like a death a birthday party,
you ruin all the fun.
Like a sucked and spat our smartie,
you’re no use to anyone.
Like the shadow of the guillotine
on a dead consumptive’s face.
Speaking as an outsider,
what do you think of the human race

You went to a progressive psychiatrist.
He recommended suicide…
before scratching your bad name off his list,
and pointing the way outside.

You hear laughter breaking through, it makes you want to fart.
You’re heading for a breakdown,
better pull yourself apart.

Your dirty name gets passed about when something goes amiss.
Your attitudes are platitudes,
just make me wanna piss.

What kind of creature bore you
Was is some kind of bat
They can’t find a good word for you,
but I can…
TWAT.

The Blues Muse – Belfast – Stiff Little Fingers – Rebellion

The Blues Muse – Belfast – Stiff Little Fingers – Rebellion

The Blues Muse works his way through Punk in Ireland with rebellion and the troubles.

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Belfast

If ever Punk had been invented for a reason then Ireland was surely it. The ‘Troubles’ had been rumbling on since the turn of the century, had their roots back with Cromwell and even before with William of Orange and then way back to 1609 with the imposition of Protestant Scots into Ireland. In the seventies it had reached the height with bombings, knee-cappings, killings and an insurmountable war waged between the IRA, who wanted a united Ireland under Irish rule, and the British government who wanted British rule for Ulster and the protestant North. As an outsider I looked at it with amazement. It seemed incredible to me that Ireland was suffering such sectarian violence when the people were always so nice and friendly. But then I wasn’t Irish.

I walked through Belfast and it was scary with its barbed wire, bricked off roads, brutal grey despair only brightened by political slogans and defiant gaudy murals celebrating victories, hunger strikes and militia. It looked and felt like a war-zone.

But this was the environment that the kids had grown up in. Segregated, threatened, strip-searched, frisked and with the constant threat of violence and death from all sides.

It was fertile soil for a Punk Band and Ireland had a rich musical history. The wonder is that only two bands really emerged. While the Undertones were good and produced that brilliant ‘Teenage Kicks’ which was one of John Peel’s favourites, they never really dealt with the politics. They left that up to the other of Peelies favourites – Stiff Little Fingers.

I could only imagine the bravery of those young lads as they bellowed their fury at both sides and hit out at the stupid violence, repression and threats that they were subjected to. They made no distinction. Nobody has put it better.

It took guts to stand up to the IRA and tell them they had a suspect device, to harangue the British Army for their disrespect and disdain and to ignore the very real threats and warnings. They literally took their life in their hands for their music and held out for a vision of a better future.

Where the Sex Pistols talked of ‘No Future’ they sang about an ‘Alternative Ulster’. Instead of joining in with the politics of separation and hatred they sang about ‘Barbed Wire Love’ and hit out at racism in ‘White Noise’. This was my kind of music. It hit the heart, head and glands. It had substance, balls and quality. Punk didn’t come much better.

I watched them play in Belfast. They had ignored threats from the IRA, talk of a bust by the Brits and carried on through a bomb threat. I couldn’t take my eyes off them. They were young kids but they played their hearts out and Jake’s voice was hoarse and in ribbons by the end, the young kids in the hall packed it out and threw themselves around with gusto. Stiff Little Fingers were putting all their frustrations and anger into words and power chords. Nobody did it better.

This was what Rock music had always been about – rebellion!

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If you would like to purchase The Blues Muse, or any of my other books please follow the links:

In the UK:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Opher-Goodwin/e/B00MSHUX6Y/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1479943367&sr=1-2-ent

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blues-Muse-Opher-Goodwin/dp/1518621147/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1479943367&sr=1-1&keywords=opher+goodwin

In the US:

https://www.amazon.com/Opher-Goodwin/e/B00MSHUX6Y/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1479943510&sr=1-2-ent

https://www.amazon.com/Blues-Muse-Opher-Goodwin-ebook/dp/B01HDQEMQ6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1479943567&sr=1-1&keywords=opher+goodwin+blues+muse

https://www.amazon.com/Blues-Muse-Opher-Goodwin/dp/1518621147/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1479943578&sr=1-2&keywords=opher+goodwin+blues+muse

For all other countries please check out your local Amazon outlet.

Tom Robinson Band – “Ain’t Gonna Take It”

I know that if I could play any kind of music I’d be in a Punk Band. It reflects the power and anger necessary in these times.

Tom Robinson came out of the Thatcher years of extreme Right-wing anti-gay and anti-abortion.  Right-wing intolerance and hatred is to the fore once more. There’s a lot to stand up against.

If you value freedom, tolerance and compassion then Tom Robinson’s your man. He took the intensity of Punk and made it into a political weapon. Words have power.

Right now our freedoms are under attack from the Right and religious extremists. They want minorities crushed. They want women supressed, contraception and abortion outlawed and sex education stopped. They want religion stuffed down our kids throats. They want an unfair system that takes from the poor and gives to the rich. They want conformity and violence towards supposed dangers.

As Mark E Smith asked – ‘Who makes the fascists?’

The answer is – the right-wing does.

We have fascists marching on the streets, homophobia, racism, violence, sexism, misogyny and hatred. It is being fuelled by Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism and exaggerated fear of terrorism.

We have Islamophobes like Tommy Robinson spreading propaganda. The antidote to Tommy Robinson is Tom Robinson!

We have right-wing sites pouring out misinformation.

But we ain’t gonna take it! Time to unite and fight back. We need to spread the truth.

“Ain’t Gonna Take It”

Prejudice poison
Polluting this land
I’m a middle-class kiddie
But I know where I stand
We got brothers in Brixton
Backs to the wall
Bigots on the backlash
Divided we fall

But we ain’t gonna take it
Ain’t gonna take it
They’re keeping us under
But we ain’t gonna take it no more

Women with children
Have to carry the can
Till they lose them in divorce courts
To some pig of a man
We got Benyon and Whitehouse
Trying to get us stitched
‘Cause abortion and a gay scene
Only meant for the rich

But we ain’t gonna take it
Ain’t gonna take it
They’re keeping us under
But we ain’t gonna take it no more

Sisters and brothers
What have we done
We’re fighting each other
Instead of the Front
Better get it together
Big trouble to come
And the odds are against us
About twenty to one

But we ain’t gonna take it
Ain’t gonna take it
They’re keeping us under
But we ain’t gonna take it no more

Oh Shit!! Pete Shelley’s Dead!!

A few years ago I was living in a hiatus of great bands. The Magic Band, Love, the Fall and the Buzzcocks were all touring. Then it fell apart – Rockette Morton with heart surgery, Arthur Lee died, Mark E Smith died and now Pete Shelley!

What a great loss.. Pete was a master of lyrics and produced a string of high energy Punk classics. He brought a different craft to Punk.

Live they were a high energy act who always delivered and got the crowd rockin’.

Pete was also a really nice friendly guy. There was no front. On a few occasions I was sitting around in his dressing room after a gig chatting. He was always open and welcoming.

I’ll sure miss him! There’s not many left!

Goodbye Pete and thanks!