Bless Playlist 24/5/2004

Jens Lekman. The nutter.

I take pride in having no chemical addictions. But I definitely have an addiction to music. I think my brain must just be wired like that. Other people’s brains are wired for alcohol, benzoylmethylecgonine, methylenedioxymethamphetamine, whatever. Mine seems to be hooked on music.

The rush I get when I discover a great new pop song is incredible. When I’m hearing it unfold for the very first time, brand new, every note is a surprise and yet, as with all pop, also a welcome home.

The best new track I played tonight has that effect on me. It’s Jens Lekman’s ‘Black Cab.’ Tipped for indie stardom, he’s been compared to Magnetic Fields, Felt and Harry Nilsson. You can judge for yourself by downloading ‘Black Cab’ here (it’s all kosher, the song’s hosted by his label). Personally, it reminds me of ‘Just Like Eddie’ by Heinz. And that’s no bad thing seeing as that track was produced by this gay genius. You can find out slightly more about Jens Lekman by visiting his site here. Check out his detailed discography…if you can work out how to read it 😉

The best old track tonight was Kraftwerk’s ‘Computer Liebe.’ I used to play this track in the Pen at Woodlands School on my little piano key tape recorder in 1981. So I guess I’ve been forcing it on people for 23 solid years.

Since then Kraftwerk have been (and probably always will be) my favourite ever band. And ignore what indie hipsters witter on about, their best stuff wasn’t from the 70s. It was their 1981 album, ‘Computer World.’ The best album ever made (so far) and still being shamelessly ripped off to this day.

I program my home computer, beam my songs into your future:

Enemylove – Weekender
OOO – Group Heartbeat
DJ Muggs – Biggie Bowie
The Thermals – It’s Trivia
Blockhead – Carnivores Unite
Deerhoof – The Eyebright Bugler
Sparta – Hiss The Villain
Adult – Hand To Phone
Gang Of Four – I Found That Essence Rare
Modest Mouse – The Ocean Breathes Salty
Mf Doom – Vaudeville Villain
Good Fight – Driven
The Brilliant Corners – Brian Rix
Wauvenfold – Clip (Clopt)
Le Tigre – My My Metrocard
Circle Jerks – Deny Everything
Minor Threat – Straight Edge
Kenny Rogers & The First Edition – Just Dropped In
Channel Live – Down Goes The Devil
The Elected – Go On
Pantera – Cowboys From Hell
The Dissociatives – Lifting The Veil From The Braille
Nautilis – Oh How Schmee Loves Dsp
Pedro The Lion – Big Trucks
Boomtown Rats – Lookin’ After No. 1
Kanye West – School Spirit
Mclusky – Icarus Smicarus
Madness – The Sun And The Rain
Helvetica – Intension Release
Far ? Bury White
John Barry – Hit And Miss
Dilated Peoples – World On Wheels
The Sprites – Do It Yourself
Stu Phillips – Battlestar Galactica
Atreyu – Bleeding Mascara
Itzhak Perlman – Wedding Medley
Kraftwerk – Computer Liebe
Li’l Cap’n Travis – Steady As She Goes
Deltron – Things You Can Do
Weezer – Island In The Sun
Belle And Sebastian – The State I Am In
Camper Van Beethoven – Take The Skinheads Bowling
Jens Lekman – Black Cab
Jon Brion – Here We Go

A Real American Hero

Camilo Mejia

“FORT STEWART, Ga. – A U.S. soldier who said he saw prisoners being abused in Iraq was convicted of desertion on Friday for failing to return to his unit after taking leave to the United States last year.

Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia, … a nine-year U.S. Army veteran, was deployed to Iraq early last year and took a two-week furlough to the United States in October. He was gone for five months before surrendering to Army officials in March. He has filed an application for conscientious objector status.” (Source: Reuters)

Antiwar protestors are never popular when the war’s actually going on. Then, we’re scum. Un-patriotic, cowardly, self-serving scum.

Yes, now there can be romantic films made about people protesting against Vietnam and dodging the draft. But at the time, these people were made pariahs by mainstream society.

So, even though it’ll mean fuck-all to him, I’d like to take this chance to salute Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia, a true war hero.

“I sit here a free man because I did the right thing,” Mejia said. “I have no regrets. All of us in uniform are on trial. The world is watching.” (Source: Reuters)

To take such a moral stand when all around your fellow soldiers are torturing, raping and murdering innocent Iraqis requires tremendous courage. I can’t even imagine the pressures involved in a long-serving soldier deserting, abandoning the whole framework of their life.

If only there were equivalent people of conscience at the head of the US government. Perhaps the lives of their own troops and Iraqi civilians wouldn’t be regarded so cheaply?

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Sabrina Harman, also facing trial on abuse charges (AP Photo/ABC News)

Look at the picture above.

Can you see the woman’s pretty face? Can you see her perfect American smile? Can you see the delight in her eyes as she gives a triumphant thumbs-up over the dead body of a fellow human being?

And how about this heartwarming shot?

Charles Graner + liberated Iraqi

“New pictures have emerged showing two US guards at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison posing with the body of a detainee who died in custody…

…Both are among seven former US guards at Abu Ghraib facing courts martial for allegedly abusing prisoners.”(Source: BBC News )

The only sane comparison that can be made for the horror of the above images is with the treatment of Jews by their Nazi murderers. To the Nazis, Jews were untermenschen, subhumans. When you view the people you kill as just animals, not like you, it makes the killing easy, makes it fun. Like sport.

It means you take grinning trophy photos with the corpses, like some proud hunter.

This is exactly the same mentality that the murderers of Al Quaeda have towards the people they target. For them, the thousands of innocents they slaughtered in the WTC attack weren’t humans, weren’t people.

It starts with a label: infidel, Argie, nigger, gook, towelhead. You reduce your enemy to an abstract being, a walking insult to your belief system who merely resembles a human. That’s the only way you can bomb, shoot, bulldoze and otherwise murder them. Is this an unchangeable part of human nature? I don’t know. But it does seem to be the basis of all wars.

“At least 37 people have died in US custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pentagon officials admitted on Friday.

While some have been classified as deaths from natural or undetermined causes, as many as 10 could be murder.

Several of those under investigation were found to have occurred before or during interrogation sessions.

At least two of the deaths occurred at Abu Ghraib, the Baghdad prison where US soldiers have been accused of beating and humiliating Iraqi inmates.”(Source: BBC News )

And as for the claims that these are merely isolated incidents:

“Yet it is not simply these images and details that are so shocking, but the overwhelming evidence suggesting that, far from being an isolated episode involving a “few bad apples” from Appalachia, as the administration claims, this abuse was part of a systematic, gloves-off approach to dealing with suspected “terrorists” in the post-9/11 world.

Compelling evidence is emerging that responsibility for the abuse goes right to the Pentagon, where an ultra-secret “black operation” was set up to run the interrogation process. This unit, under the direction of Stephen Cambone, under-secretary of defence for intelligence, reportedly used theories developed by an academic to guide the torture of the detainees.”(Source: The Independent)

I feel strange writing this because I don’t truly consider myself a pacifist. Many times in my life I’ve had to physically fight people, mostly racists who don’t happen to approve of my built-in sunblock. I’ve also got a pretty short temper and so have plenty of arguments (albeit not using my fists). So, I’ve fought in self-defence.

I can even, in a very nebulous manner, understand that there are some extreme situations where that principle could be extended to a nation and to national defence.

But the war on Iraq isn’t that kind of war. It is an illegal invasion of a non-aggressor country, bypassing any UN procedure. The furore about finding Iraqi WMDs evaporated as the real agenda, the US government’s pursuit of their vision of a 21st century American empire, as outlined in the PNAC.

Liberation was the slogan, occupation is the reality. Freedom and democracy were promised, torture and mass murder were delivered.

“US Military Police Specialist Charles Graner – who has been charged over the scandal – was named in several of the reports.

One detainee accused him of repeatedly throwing prisoners’ meals into the toilets and saying, “Eat it.”

Spc Graner, who appears in a number of the photos from Abu Ghraib, has said he was following orders.”(Source: BBC News)

He was only following orders. Does that ring a bell?

Fake Photos, Real Murders

“Soldiers from the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment will be charged this week in relation to the death of Baha Mousa, an Iraqi hotel receptionist severely beaten while in British military custody.

Around six soldiers from the QLR – the regiment at the centre of the row over hoax pictures published in the Daily Mirror – face charges in relation to incidents in Iraq. Senior military officials said Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of State for Defence, will confirm “within days” the first criminal prosecutions against British soldiers since the war began.(Source: The Independent)

I find it a bit spooky and sadly unsurprising that some of the stuff I said in this rant two weeks ago has now come true.

Any criticism of the actions of British soldiers in Iraq is now rubbished, the fake photos have provided a simply wonderful buffer for the UK government. Blair can breathe much more easily than his US allies in their increasing spiral of torture / abuse / murder revelations.

And yet…

Baha Mousa is still dead. Along with the others detailed in the Red Cross report that seems to be conveniently forgotten now.

Also forgotten: all the Iraqis killed by the huge bombing carried out by USK forces. These people were also killed illegally, murdered, by forces acting outside of any UN remit. The pattern these forces were following was one of ‘pre-emptive attack’ (yes, the justification used by the Nazis) because of the mountain of WMDs Saddam Hussein had stockpiled.

All those civilians dead. No WMDs found. A sovereign country occupied by foreign invaders. Its citizens imprisoned without trial, tortured and murdered by the “liberating” troops.

It reads like a piece of horrific fiction. But it’s the real world, as made possible by our peaceful, freedom-loving governments.

Tony Blair and New Labour are war criminals. Remember that on June 10th.

Bless Playlist 17/5/2004

Architecture In Helsinki. Photo by Jack Sweetman

Tonight was very, very good. Not cos it was packed (it wasn’t) or because I managed to fit in every new track I wanted to (I didn’t by a long way) but because the people who were there seemed to really enjoy it. And so I did. DJing is, after all, a sonic form of mutual masturbation, a circuit of joy.

I had two separate people come up at the end and thank me for doing the night, saying they loved hearing a different mix of music. For a DJ, those words are the biggest compliment you can get! 🙂

I know there are some people who think I’m being obscure just for the sake of it, but I’m not: I just like pop music. I think everything I play, whether it’s Atreyu, All Girl Summer Fun Band or ELO is great pop music. Yes, some of the bands are not that well known but all of them make very catchy, poppy music (in their genres). I’m very chuffed the popness is getting through!

The best new track tonight was Architecture In Helsinki’s ‘The Owls Go.’ I played it near the end tonight and it worked much better cos you could hear all the frenetic little details in this delightful song, which sounds like a bunch of junior school kids let loose with guitars and cheesegraters. Ace!

Best old track was ‘Sorrow,’ a stomping classic from The Merseys. It’s been covered loads of times but the original is still the best. A huge hit from the year I was born.

You dancin’? You askin’? Well, I’m askin’… Well, I’m dancin’ :

Bobby Conn And The Glass Gypsies – We Come In Peace
RJ Valeo – Saturday Afternoon
Sparta – Travel By Bloodline
RJD2 – Good Times Roll (Part 2)
Jon Brion – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Main Title)
Embrace – Said Gun
Erase Errata – Dexerity Is #2
Dilated Peoples – Love And War
Atreyu – You Eclipsed By Me
The Sprites – Do It Yourself
Erast – Georgianintokyo (Atom TM Remix)
Kanye West – All Falls Down
American Football ? The One With The Wurlitzer
Pantera – Mouth For War
Ben Folds Five – Army
Magnetic Fields – If There’s Such A Thing As Love
DJ Muggs – Biggie Bowie
Electric Light Orchestra – Mr. Blue Sky
Postal Service – Nothing Better
Husker Du – Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely
Rufio – Still
Dopplereffekt – Scientist
Madness – Embarassment
Shins – Kissing The Lipless
MF Doom – Mr Clean
Half Man Half Biscuit – Four Skinny Indie Kids
Lamb Of God – Purified
All Girl Summer Fun Band – Later Operator
The Merseys – Sorrow
Helvetica – Intension Release
Adhemard – Don Daine La Ridaine
The Lemonheads – If I Could Talk I’d Tell You
Lords Of The Underground – Funky Child
Weezer ? El Scorcho
Dan Tyminski – Greens Fees
The Ponys – Lets Kill Ourselves
The Dissociatives – Lifting The Veil From The Braille
Jonathan Richman – This Kind Of Music
Komeda – It’s Alright, Baby
Lali Puna – Faking The Books
Architecture In Helsinki – The Owls Go
Robert Mellin & Gian Pieri Reverberi – Robinson Crusoe (Main Theme)
Suede – The Drowners
Beck – Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime

Matty Elliot

Had a cool photoshoot today in Leeds. The pics will be in Sound On Sound magazine sometime soon, I’ll post up when they are.

It was a crystalline, sunny day. Leeds felt like Milan, it was sooo warm and fresh.

The weather went to my photo assistant’s head and he went a bit doolally. He’s not been the same since being stranded in the Andes and having to eat his own legs:

Click here for the pics!

Pete Seeger

I’ve loved Pete Seeger for around 15 years now. As with Michael Nesmith, I got into his work by hearing his songs performed by others. The first one I heard was The Byrds’ version of ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ I loved the way the song flowed and the sense of peace and acceptance it provoked.

I finally got a live version done by Seeger himself and it was even more entrancing. His great voice, like a tall oak, ringing out the words and making them speak volumes more than the Biblical lyrics alone. And at the end of the recording, you can hear the audience joining in, it’s quite spooky and very moving.

Today, I found a new article about Seeger on the Common Dreams website. Here’s a choice quote:

“But when Red hunters of the McCarthy era caught wind of the political views and associations of some members of the Weavers, the group was blacklisted — banned from the airwaves and blocked from performing in most mainstream venues.

In 1955 Seeger was hauled before the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he refused to say whether he had performed for Communist-sponsored events.

“I have sung in hobo jungles, and I have sung for the Rockefellers, and I am proud that I have never refused to sing for anybody,” he told the committee.

His defiance earned him a one-year prison sentence for contempt of Congress — later overturned on appeal — and a hero’s place in the hearts of a generation of progressives and peace activists. Attending a Seeger concert became a political event in itself.”(Source: Common Dreams)

This is a man who’s spent his entire life promoting non-violent resistance and borne the brunt of the darkest period in American politcal history.

But he didn’t give up. And, what’s more important, he never stopped singing, organising, teaching – all those things that truly great artists have to do. And he was sXe way before Ian MacKaye was even a glimmer in his Daddy’s eye:

“Seeger dropped out of the Weavers after a few years. “I just don’t like singing in nightclubs,” he said. “I don’t drink, I don’t smoke and I don’t drink coffee. But I really wanted to help the peace movement and the union movement and the civil rights movement.”(Source: Common Dreams)

Can you imagine living Pete Seeger’s life? Can you imagine being witchhunted by your own government, held up as a suspect Commie in the most anti-Commie of times? But not letting that stop you, writing / popularising now standard folk classics like ‘If I Had A Hammer,’ ‘Goodnight Irene,’ ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’

Where are the modern-day musicians who can equal Seeger’s drive, determination and commitment? What we have now is a million singers pretending to be rebels but actually saying and doing nothing. Their “rebellion”: tiny variations in teenage dress codes. Whoop de dooh. The scope of their work never strays outside their own navels.

Pete Seeger sang about ordinary life, yes, but he also sang about the world, about the environment, about the struggle for basic human rights in a segregated, racist America. He wasn’t afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve.

If this sounds like an obituary, it’s not meant to be. The old bugger’s still alive, still campaigning and still speaking out. I’ll leave the last word to him.

“I’m still trying to do some little things,” he said. “If there’s a human race here in a hundred years, it won’t be any big thing that will save it — a big slogan, a big movement, a big organization of any kind. It’ll be saved by literally hundreds of millions of little things going on.

“There are more good little things being done in America now than at any time in history. Big things can be destroyed. The powers that be are so powerful they can destroy any single thing they want. But what are they going to do about millions of things?””(Source: Common Dreams)

Nicholas Berg – Murdered In Cold Blood

Nicholas Berg’s family

“A US hostage in Iraq was pictured being beheaded by Islamic militants in a video released yesterday that said that the grisly act was revenge for the abuse of Iraqi detainees by US troops.

Five men wearing headscarves and black masks were pictured standing behind a bound man in a Guant?namo Bay-style orange jumpsuit, who identified himself briefly before one of his captors put a large knife to his neck. A scream was heard, followed by shouts of “Allahu Akbar!” – “God is greatest” – as the head was held out to the camera.”(Source: The Guardian)

This murder is a horrible, filthy act, carried out by men who pin their God’s name to this barbarity. More proof that there is no god – otherwise, why would she/he let their name be taken in vain by such villains?

Meanwhile, the wearied Bush administration has seized upon Berg’s death and tried to pervert it into political capital. Anything to try and portray the US military’s torture and rape of Iraqi prisoners in a better light:

“This shows the true nature of the enemies of freedom,” the White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, told reporters. “They have no regard for the lives of innocent men, women and children.” The Foreign Office called the episode “utterly repugnant and indefensible”.(Source: The Guardian)

Yes, that’s certainly true, Al-Quaeda have no regard for human life. But, as can be seen by the illegal invasion of Iraq, neither does the US government.

In fact, both are exactly the same. Both kill, maim, torture to achieve their political ends, all the while shouting praise to their god, a god of peace, love and beauty. The USA considers the tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis killed by its invasion unfortunate and unavoidable casualties of war. Al-Quaeda seems more pleased at the mayhem caused in the WTC atrocity and Berg’s murder but the difference is petty. Both murder while claiming to hold the moral high-ground.

As for McClellan’s crocodile tears about the abuse of women:

“For Huda Shaker, the humiliation began at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Baghdad. The American soldiers demanded to search her handbag. When she refused one of the soldiers pointed his gun towards her chest.

“He pointed the laser sight directly in the middle of my chest,” said Professor Shaker, a political scientist at Baghdad University. “Then he pointed to his penis. He told me, ‘Come here, bitch, I’m going to fuck you.'”

The incident is one of a number in which US soldiers are alleged to have abused, intimidated or sexually humiliated Iraqi women.”(Source: The Guardian)

I’m sure Iraqi women now feel much safer in the caring hands of the US military. They finally now have civilised, Western values to protect them.

All that matters today is that Nicholas Berg’s parents have lost their son to a great evil. In that grief, they are united with every other relative who has lost a loved one to war, to the process carried out by madmen waving their god’s flag and proclaiming only their truth to be true. Whether the murderers are Al-Quaeda or the US / UK military, the loss is the same.

We need to burn all our flags. Every country, every religion, every political movement. Every single one of them.

Bless Playlist 10/5/2004

Felt strange DJing tonight. But I was cheered up by a load of cool requests and people I haven’t seen in a while. One lad was just ecstatic I played Taking Back Sunday 🙂

Best old song was John Baker’s ‘New World’s.’ I saw at least one person recognising the last three seconds of this beautiful piece but I guess most of the peeps there tonight were too young to remember.

Best new song was The Dissociatives’ ‘Lifting The Veil From The Braille.’ It’s a startlingly poppy album, very dreamy and Beach Boys-ish (via Jon Brion and Todd Rundgren in places). I hope it gets a big push and achieves mainstream success.

Tonight, you galahs heard:

Mobb Deep – Shook Ones Pt. I
The Dismemberment Plan – 8 1/2 Minutes
Architecture In Helsinki – The Owls Go
A Wilhelm Scream – Mute Print
Vauxhall 44 – Case
Pavement – Grave Architecture
Tha Alkaholiks – Daaam!
The Ponys – Chemical Imbalance
Death Cab For Cutie – Photobooth
Lamb Of God – Purified
The Divine Comedy – Songs Of Love
Non-Prophets – Hey Bobby
Detalles – Slowe
John Baker – New Worlds
The Wedding Present – My Favourite Dress
Magnetic Fields – If There’s Such A Thing As Love
Antipop Consortium – Place The Face
The Cars – Just What I Needed
The Sprites – Do It Yourself
The Blood Brothers – Fucking’s Greatest Hits
G.D. Luxxe – Minds
Memphis Bleek – Is That Your Chick (The Lost Verses)
Taking Back Sunday – Timberwolves At New Jersey
Deerhoof – Our Angel’s Ululu
The Kinks – Susannah’s Still Alive
Nautilis – Oh How Schmee Loves DSP
Earth Crisis – Provoke
The Dissociatives – Lifting The Veil From The Braille
Ice Cube – Doing Dumb
The Weakerthans – A New Name For Everything
Native Nod – Answers
Mr. Velcro Fastener – I Hear You
Jellyfish – Now She Knows She’s Wrong
Gang Starr – Code Of The Streets
Operation Ivy – Officer
Godley & Creme – Under Your Thumb
Throwdown – Unite
John Barry – The Ipcress File
Cylob – Flicklife
Nick Drake – Pink Moon
Tim Buckley – Once I Was

Torture And Murder ‘Part Of The Process’ For The US & UK Military

An Iraqi prisoner is surrounded by American military dog handlers at Abu Ghraib prison in this photo dated December 12, 2003.

“The Red Cross saw U.S. troops keeping Iraqi prisoners naked for days in darkness at the Abu Ghraib jail in October, and was told by the intelligence officer in charge it was “part of the process,” a leaked report said on Monday.

The International Committee of the Red Cross also described British troops forcing Iraqi detainees to kneel and stomping on their necks in an incident in which one prisoner died.”(Source: Reuters)

In the week since I last wrote, the process I predicted in this rant has become obvious.

The doubts over the the veracity of the UK abuse photos published in The Mirror have been extended to a general disbelief or refusal to acknowledge our war crimes against the people of Iraq.

In the US, their photos haven’t been under the same doubts and so the political fallout has been more difficult to sidestep. Rumsfeld has been under pressure to resign and he may end up the sacrificial lamb, given up to placate growing US public disquiet. The average person, of whatever nationality, doesn’t want their military to go round torturing civilians, particularly in an alleged liberation. The US public will not take well to being slapped in the face with the brutality of their military. Every day, new photos of US torture are being published. This war was meant to bolster US confidence, to be a step on the PNAC path towards an American Empire.

How many US citizens (who aren’t paid-up Klansmen) actually still believe they are the “good guys?” That the war crimes carried out by their forces are prefectly morally justifiable?

But why am I bashing the US government when there’s evil here at home? In fact, why do I see British people on British marches spouting anti-American crap, as if the USA is the only source of evil in the world today?

Take a look around. It’s Britain that enabled the illegal invasion of Iraq. It’s Britain who acted as a bridge between the USA and wavering European nations, dragging Spain into the bloodshed behind us. And it’s British troops who’ve been shooting eight-year-old children dead without an eyebrow being raised by their commanders:

Hanan Matrud

“Hanan Matrud was playing with three friends when a British Army Warrior armoured vehicle pulled up near her home in a village in southern Iraq. As they ran forward to see what was going on, a shot rang out.

The girl, eight years old, was hit in the stomach with a rifle round. She was taken to the hospital, and had emergency surgery. She died the next day.

There is little dispute that a British soldier was responsible. To her family and neighbours, it was cold-blooded murder. The Army says she was probably hit when a warning shot was fired to disperse a stone-throwing mob. An inquiry has proved, the Army says, that the soldiers were not at fault.

Hanan was a “very unfortunate casualty of war”.

That conclusion is contradicted by a witness, Mizher Yassin, who claims the troops were under no threat. He says Hanan was standing in an alley about 60 to 70 metres from the armoured car when a soldier aimed and fired a shot.”(Source: The Independent)

Amnesty International goes on to detail another 37 similar deaths. And those are just the ones it has evidence about.

What a haven Iraq must be for psychopaths. You can be shipped out there and murder little kids, women, whoever you want to and no-one will punish you. As long as you’re wearing a US or UK uniform.

This is the madness of war. Can you imagine if an occupying army shot a child in Britain? We would rightly scream for justice for that child and punishment for its murderer.

But when that child is a Muslim, when the murder is a long way away and when we do the murdering, that life doesn’t matter.

Only our lives matter. Only our casualties, our grief. Every pious, furrowed-brow sermon by Butcher Blair confirms how we see the innocents of Iraq.