Bacharach Takes A Stand


Pop composer Burt Bacharach has written his first lyrics in a career spanning nearly 50 years, expressing his disillusionment over the war in Iraq.

The 77-year-old, who wrote songs such as Walk On By with lyricist Hal David, has written a number of political songs on his latest album At This Time.

“I had to do it. This is very personal to me,” he said.

Bacharach previously left David and his ex-wife Carole Bayer Sager to write the lyrics to his songs.

“I thought that was very important because I couldn’t have somebody else write these lyrics.”

He added: “I never was a political person in my life. I wrote songs during Vietnam, not about Vietnam. I was just writing love songs. Leading my own life in my own insulated world.”
(Source: BBC News)

So Burt Bacharach, a 77-year-old geezer, never known as a radical, is questioning the US invasion and occupation of Iraq?

And yet…

All our drug-guzzling, celebrity-whoring, model-shagging “rebel” rock stars are saying… fuck-all?

This really shows the bankruptcy of modern rock and indie culture. What used to be the music of rebellion, of revolution, of non-conformists, punks, queers, troublemakers and people your Mum generally didn’t want you to know has become the music of saying nothing.


All the contemporary rock bands who are busy fucking the corpses of the ’80s, ’70s, ’60s or whenever are missing the point. If you rip-off, say, Gang Of Four or McCarthy or MC5 or Neil Young, it’s not enough to just wear similar clothes, take similar drugs and play similar chords. You’ve left out the most important thing about those artists: their politics. The result is karaoke rebellion, about as dangerous as a Tory MP singing along to James cocking Blunt, a complete fucking sham.

If you’re a musician reading this, you have a choice. With fame comes power. If you’re a famous rock/indie band, you could use that power to highlight the great evil being done in Iraq, you could make your legions of fans think about who they vote for, you could raise issues the mass-media want to avoid. I’m not saying you have to preach, but you could at the very least question and explore. Like Bacharach.

Or you can say nothing. Like the people who kept quiet when Hitler came to power in Germany, you can turn a blind eye to the evil being done. You can ignore the 100,000 Iraqi dead, slaughtered by us, much as some Germans chose to ignore their missing Jewish neighbours. Why rock the boat, eh?

You just keep your mouth shut, keep working on that fashionable drug habit and looking pretty for the cameras.

Spain Seeks Extradition Of US Killers

Jose Couso
Jose Couso

A Spanish judge issued international arrest warrants yesterday for three US soldiers who face being put on trial in Madrid for the killing of a Spanish television cameraman during the Iraq war.

Lieutenant Colonel Philip de Camp, Captain Philip Wolford and Sergeant Shawn Gibson of the US Army’s 3rd Infantry Division were wanted for questioning as suspects in the killing of José Couso, from Spain’s Telecinco channel, according to the warrants.

“I order the … capture and arrest of the US soldiers, with a view to extradition,” said Judge Santiago Pedraz, an investigating magistrate at the National Court.
(Source: Common Dreams)

This is another news story you’re unlikely to see as the top headline on the evening news. It’s just one more life lost to the “shock and awe” of the US blitzkrieg on Iraq. An invasion so contemptuous of world opinion that its tanks shelled hotels full of journalists, citing the lie that it was “returning fire.”

But why has Spain had to issue warrants for arrest? Surely the US is the upholder of international law, the great protector of freedom and democracy?

Judge Pedraz said he had issued the warrant because the US government had not replied to his requests for help as he investigated Couso’s death.

It was “the only way of ensuring the suspects became available to Spanish judicial authorities, given the complete lack of cooperation,” from the US, the judge explained in a written document.

“Most of the international press was in the Hotel Palestine, where they had gone from the Hotel Rashid, following the Pentagon’s own recommendations,” the judge added.

A US State Department official told Reuters this year: “I just cannot imagine how any US soldier can be subject to some kind of foreign proceeding for criminal liability when he is in a tank in a war zone as part of an international coalition.”
(Source: Common Dreams)

How arrogant is the US? It won’t even deign to co-operate with due legal process in Spain, one of its former coalition partners.

Once again, the US is ignoring countries that are demanding justice for their murdered citizens, writing them off as unfortunate casualties of war against an evil enemy who must be defeated. Whatever the cost in innocent human lives.

Sounds a lot like something Al-Quaeda would say, doesn’t it?

Bless Playlist 18/10/05

Black Lipstick

Tonight’s best new track was ‘Viva Max’ by Black Lipstick. I got their album, ‘Sincerely,’ earlier this year, when I wasn’t DJing, and I loved it then. But ‘Viva Max’ has grown from being an occasional listen to an obsession. I keep playing it in the car, over and over. It just rolls along, semi-VU, semi-Neu, all Black Lipstick. There’s just something about it… Go and check the album out, it’s going to be one of my top indie albums of this year.

Now, it may seem that I’m also getting obsessed with old psych/prog but it’s not true, I promise! It’s just that there’s some damn fine pop tunes on the cusp there, before prog-proper arrived and everything got all hobgoblin-y. So, tonight’s best old track is by Tripsichord. ‘We Have Passed Away’ is simply a cool pop song, great beat, catchy riffs, you name it.

The astute amongst you may have noticed a slight Swedishness to tonight’s playlist too… 😉

Tonight, you heard:

Logh – Destinymanifesto
Ruxpin – Lamuamochorr
Qwel And Jackson Jones – Dark Day
Archer Prewitt – Leaders
Tunng – Fair Doreen
Boards Of Canada – Aquarius
Atmosphere – Spaghetti Straps
Komeda – Binario
Deadstring Brothers – Entitled
Quantic – Angels And Albatrosses
Reef The Lost Cauze – Give It Up
Stephen Malkmus – The Hook
Modey Lemon – Sleepwalkers
Decal – Recall Edit
IAM – Revoir Un Printemps
Refree – Faltas Leves
Svevo – In Ewigkeit
Bit Shifter – Double Density
Innaway – The Strings Of North Egg
Lone Catalysts – La, La, La, La
Scott 4 – Catastrophe
Serge Gainsbourg – Soixante Neuf Annee Erotique
Riddle Of Steel – Baby Bird
Mascot Fight – Thinking In French
GZA & Ras Kass – Lyrical Swords
Secret Mommy – Tennis Court
Okkervil River – Black
Orange Juice – What Presence?!
Dinosaur Jr. – Start Choppin’
Dark Vektor – Vektorial
Raks One – Knoe Dat Ver. 2.0
Yesterday’s New Quintet – Dice Game
Black Lipstick – Viva Max
Stereolab – Ping Pong
Lowfish – Fric Frac
Ladytron – Sugar
Bronze Nazareth, Solomon Childs, & Byata – Street Corners
The Radio Dept. – 1995
Tripsichord – We Have Passed Away
Jonathan Richman – The Neighbors
Touane – Backward Is Forward
Jens Lekman – Black Cab

Gang Of Four

Gang Of Four

Junkmedia come up trumps again with a great interview with Dave Allen from Gang Of Four:

I’m talking about the new bands. I mean, what on earth are Bloc Party up to? Franz Ferdinand? All of these bands. They’ve borrowed our sound but they have not gone anywhere near our sociological lyrics. It’s hard to describe what we do. I’m trying to avoid the word “political” because we’re just not. We’ve been painted as a political band, we’ve been painted as a Marxist band. We’re usually asked those questions by people who don’t understand Marx whatsoever. We’ve taken to throwing that back in their faces a bit, “Well, what does Marx mean to you?” and they stare at you. (laughs)
(Source: Junkmedia)

As an angry old man myself, I agree with a lot of what Dave says. But I can’t help but feel he’s judging indie-rock now by the most conformist, most easy-listening layer. If you read this rant by another Dave, you’ll see there are still indie-rockers under 30 who have some fire in their bellies. It doesn’t all have to be mewling post-Coldplay mawkishness or empty metal histrionics.

Bloc Party and Franz don’t even claim to be revolutionaries. They’re just the noughties equivalent of The Merton Parkas or The Monks. Every generation has artists that connect with the political world and those who don’t / won’t / can’t. That being said, I’m not slagging them off, I think they occasionally make catchy pop singles. But they’re hardly Narodniks, are they?

Pop over and have a read of the interview, linked above. They’re posting part two up tomorrow.


Just noticed Gaz has posted this up too, using exactly the same quote! I guess old men think alike…

Eeeh, where’s me Deep Heat…

US Murders 40+ Iraqis

Iraqis love the occupation?

US warplanes and helicopters bombed two villages near the Iraq city of Ramadi, killing an estimated 70 militants, the military said today. But witnesses said at least 39 were civilians.
(Source: The Independent)

This didn’t even make any of the TV news headlines today. And it was quite far down on the Independent and Guardian websites. On the BBC website it was reported as “US strikes kill ’70 Iraq rebels’ . ” No ambiguity there, all the people killed were rebels – they must have been since that’s what the US military says. And we have to trust the word of liars, murderers and torturers, don’t we?

Apparently, a crowd had gathered around a wrecked US vehicle, so the US military, that great protector of peace and liberty decided to murder them. After all they were all terrorists, they were wearing big signs saying “I AM A TERRORIST!” that the killers could read even from a high altitude.

But several witnesses and one local leader said the people were civilians who had gathered to gawk at the wreckage of the US vehicle or pick pieces off of it — as often occurs after an American vehicle is hit. The airstrike hit the crowd, killing 25 civilians, said Chiad Saad, a tribal leader, and several witnesses who refused to give their names to protect their security.
(Source: The Independent)

Another wonderful implementation of The American Dream in Iraq. Well done, US military, more Iraqis successfully liberated from the tyranny of being alive.

And well done our mass media. Apparently Iraqi life is now so cheap that the slaughter of 40+ civilians doesn’t even warrant a mention on our news. But imagine if an Al Quaeda bomb had killed 40 Western civilians… what kind of coverage would that have got?

It’s an obvious facet of our media: Iraqi lives don’t matter, only Western lives do.

An Associated Press stringer later saw the 14 bodies and the damaged building. He said residents, many of them crying, removed the bodies from the scene and buried them, some wrapped in white cloth, others in wooden coffins. One of the bodies was that of a boy who appeared to be between the ages of 10 and 15, the stringer said.
(Source: The Independent)

Please read the full article, linked above, for the full story, if your blood pressure can take it.

National Secular Society

Secular Society

We need a secular constitution that will:

* End the privileged input of religious bodies to policy making and law-making

* Keep all public services free from religious control so that that they remain equally available to all on the same terms

* Abolish the established church and all its privileges (including 26 bishops in the House of Lords)

* Put an end to the divisiveness of publicly funded religious schools by making them open to all without discrimination on grounds of religion, or lack of it, and bringing them under local authority control

* Abolish blasphemy and similar repressive laws, rather than extend them
(Source: National Secular Society)

Now here’s a club worth joining!

Racist Leftists & Religion

It was the decision of broad-minded politicians in Ottawa to allow Sharia courts in Canada which did it for her. They said if they were not established, the Muslim minority would be marginalised and to say otherwise was racism pure and simple.

After years of hearing this postmodern twaddle, Namazie flipped. Why was it, she asked, that supposed liberals always give ‘precedence to cultural and religious norms, however reactionary, over the human being and her rights’? Why was it that they always pretended that other cultures were sealed boxes without conflicts of their own and took ‘the most reactionary segment of that community’ as representative of the belief and culture of the whole.
(Source: The Observer)

There are plenty of lefties who make fun of Christian Republicans and their anti-gay, anti-women, anti-science, anti-life warmongering. But when it comes to the extremes of other religions, rational critics often fall silent.

Maybe it’s partly because it’s always easier to criticise something that’s from or close to you your own culture. The critic shares points of reference with the criticised, there’s plenty of meat from which to carve acidic satires or outraged polemics.

Maybe it’s a fear of being perceived as racist. After all, it’s not going to raise any eyebrows if you say, “Those Yank bible-bashers are all nutters!” But if you said, “Those Muslim fundamentalists need to stop burning books and start reading them,” in lefty circles, people would start edging away.

Partly, this is justified. Very often racists like the BNP, UKIP and Conservative Party do couch their xenophobia in platitudes about Englishness and tirades about the religions followed by “ethnics.” So lefty critics of religion want to distance themselves from these bigots.


The danger is in bending the stick too far the other way, becoming racist leftists in that we run scared from criticism of other cultures’ injustices.

I’m an atheist. More than that, I’m a radical, materialist, proselytising atheist. That means that not only am I opposed to Christianity as an irrational pile of poop, I’m also against Hinduism, Buddhism, paganism, Judaism, Scientology, spiritualism, astrology and, of course, Islam. (I’m obviously not anti-religious people. Some of my best friends are believers, honest guv! Love the believer, abhor the belief, I say.)

I don’t believe the stories about Jesus, Thor, Isis, Satan, Apollo, Vishnu, Allah, Buddha, Spiderman or The Great Pumpkin. They’re all lovely stories, and I appreciate the wit and wisdom of the writers but are they true? No. They’re mostly stories written by men to help shape their societies and keep the majority of ordinary people, especially women, oppressed. Apart from Spiderman, of course, that’s very egalitarian.

Would you want to live in a country under Scientological Law? Or Odin’s Law? Does either proposition sound like a reasonable way to frame a civilised country’s legal and social system? No? So why does it make sense to run a country according to Christian or Muslim myths? They’re no less ridiculous, random and invented.

Let’s me spell this out: the problem isn’t with fundamentalist Islam or right-wing US Christians or huge churches run by ex-Hitler Youth members.

It’s with religion itself

Enshrining irrationality at the heart of our societies, validating myths and letting them define our human rights is an act of supreme idiocy. We all have the right to live, to love and pursue our dreams and no-one should be able to deprive us of those rights by waving a crumbling sheaf of lies in our faces.

This is the result when that happens:

When an Iranian judge hanged a 16-year-old girl for having sex outside marriage – I mean literally hanged her; he put the noose round her neck himself – Namazie organised global protests.

Her best rhetorical weapon is her description of the obsessiveness of theocracy. The law in Iran not only allows women to be stoned, she says, but it specifies the size of the stones to be used; they mustn’t be too small in case it takes too long to kill her and the mob gets bored; but mustn’t be too big either, in case she is dispatched immediately and the mob is denied the sado-sexual pleasure of seeing her suffer.
(Source: The Observer)

And for those who think, “Oh, that’s just Islam, Christianity is sooo much more modern and caring.” :

The whispers started in April in the mind of the 23-year-old nun.

In the heart of an Orthodox convent in Romania’s impoverished northeast, doctors say, Maricica Irina Cornici believed she heard the devil talking to her, telling her she was sinful.

She was treated for schizophrenia, but when she relapsed, a monk and four nuns tried a different method: exorcism.

Last week, Cornici was bound to a cross, gagged with a towel and left in a dank room at the convent for three days without food where she died of suffocation and dehydration.
(Source: CBS)

That news story is from June 2005. That’s what happens when people believe 2000-year-old superstitions to be literal truth.

Look at the Muslim terrorist attacks on Britain and America. Look at the God-steered response by Bush. That’s what happens when old men hear their gods whispering in their ears.

If religion had its way, we’d all still be cowering in caves, blinking fearfully at the ghosts and goblins in the darkness.

We need to step forward into the light of reason, to embrace the hard truths of our mortality and unimportance rather than the comforting bedtime stories about gods and everlasting life.

That means we must oppose the irrational whoever promotes it and whatever colour their skin happens to be.

Relief Of Steel

Riddle Of Steel

First, read this.

This email just in:

I’m right there with you as to downloading and my opinions on it, however, what matters more for us at this point is clearly that you liked it, and have been playing it and turning other folks on to it, not to mention you bought the cd(?) anyway. Thanks! It means so much to us.

Again, I suppose I can understand bands getting frustrated with not getting paid for music they wrote and recorded, but you gotta see the big picture right? It ain’t like you’re some random guy who emailed me saying, “Hey dude, I just downloaded your cd for free! Cheers!”

Anyway, thanks again. I’d scribble some questions, but we’re touring at the moment, and have to head out. I’m all outta time.



Woo hoo! They don’t hate my guts! 🙂

If anyone reading this is going to a Riddle Of Steel show, please pass on a big girly snog / strong manly backslap from me to the lads.

As a further plug for the Steels, I can tell you that I bought their excellent album new for around seven quid, p+p inc.! Have a trawl round the net and you’ll find it at very low prices. If you like The Foo Fighters, Wintersleep or Queens Of The Stone Age, I reckon there’s a high probability you’ll enjoy pogoing to Riddle Of Steel.

The Open Music Model

Shuman Ghosemajumder
I got an email from Shuman Ghosemajumder the other day. Apart from having a very scary CV, he’s thought a lot about the future of music, as have I.

Have a read of his Open Music Model. There’s some interesting and innovative stuff there but I can’t see a whole lot of the old-school industry going for it. Shuman has an understanding of the nature of the net, which they haven’t, and that’s why his vision is based on reality. Whereas theirs is based on sticking their fingers in their ears and going ‘la-la-la,’ waiting for that nasty cyberwent to go away.

Incidentally, he’s a handsome bloke with an excellent academic background and a brown belt in karate. Maybe it’s time for an Indian James Bond? 🙂

Quantum Tuition From Bethe

Hans Bethe
The late, great Hans Bethe

I wank on about quantum physics a lot. Nothing too specific, of course, because anything but the most general outline is way beyond me. But with the help of people like John Gribbin and his excellent books, I’ve tried to get a basic understanding.

And now you can too, without even having to leaf through weighty tomes! Hans Bethe himself (who sadly passed away earlier this year) will explain quantum theories to you. That’s right, one of the greatest theoretical physicists will teach you, personally!

In the excellently annotated video lectures linked below, Bethe explains the accuracy and wide-ranging scope of quantum theory. I’ve met many people who believe it’s an esoteric, almost mystical branch of science and who don’t realise that quantum effects underpin the computers they use everyday and even how our sun shines.

Just click here and prepare to have your wig well and truly flipped. Give Hans Bethe a few hours of your time and he’ll give you a new way to look at the world.

(via Digg)