Monthly Archives: August 2012

Gimme Something Better Please

Gimme Something Better – “The Profound, Progressive, and ocassionally pointless History of Bay Area Punk from Dead Kennedys to Green Day”
by Jack Boulware and Silke Tudor (Penguin Books)


I love these types of books.  Historical, geographical and telling a punk rock stroy.  Every City has a story and more and more cities have these collections.  The style of writing is similar to John Robbs Death to Trad Rock book, or American Hardcore by Steven Blush.  It consists of quotes from people. The authors must have spent exhaustive hours trying to get eye witness accounts recorded with stories covering nearly a 30 year period.  It must have been an editing nightmare to decide what made it to the cutting room floor.  It is no surprise that to hear that it took 3 years to complete this 489 page book.

As for it’s story – well The title says it all. Even though they are not mentioned on the title this does start at the start.  Punk rock coming to town and bands like the Nuns, Avengers and Crime starting up.  An avenue I quite enjoy is where the book talks about venues.  Punk rock (and music) isn’t just about bands turning up to play.  There’s a whole network of people making things happening, people who may have never touched a guitar in their life. These people are recounting their perspectives here.  Another aspect is the energy, excitment and fear that came from attending punk shows in the 70’s.  You would most certainly be returning from a night out with more marks on you in those early punk days.

As punk rock developed in the Bay Area and people started making things happen for themselves you really get that feeling through quotes from those who made the fanzines, booked the shows, attended the shows and bought the tshirts as well as from band members.

I must admit a slight bias. Back in 1980’s Dublin I used to devour the punk zine maximum Rock’n’Roll, often called the punk rock bible MRR is still in existence today.  It was through MRR that I could find out about all those cities around the world screaming their lungs out.  I have an abiding memory of receiving a reply from Tim Yohannon (RIP) after sending questions for an interview with him, the then editor.  Tim spoke all his answers on to one side of a cassette (anyone remember those) and did a compilation of SF bands on the other side.  That type of inclusion and respect carried through to me for so much of what I did with music. Every month MRR had scene reports and tons of reviews and intrerviews. better still it had addresses where you could write to people.  Some of those interiewed for Gimme Something Better were old penpals of mine. Others were zine wirters of zines I bought regularily or of bands that subsequently played in Dublin.  Through Hope Promotions (and then Hope Collective) I was lucky to be in a postion to provide some assistance to some of the East Bay Bands.  It’s nice to hear how they started up through these pages.

Reading all the accounts it made me want to check out some bands I missed first time round, like the aforementioned Avengers and also to dust down those 7″s of bands like Winona Ryder, Econochrist and Monsula.  It also made me want to revisit those Green Day, Dead Kennedys, Victims Family and Operation Ivy records that haven’t had an airing for me in 2011.  The soundtrack will go on for ever.

My life is better for reading this book- I suggest you root it out and then make it happen in your town.

 

niall hope

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Pride Parade 2012

“He’s just a stereotype” is what the Specials sang many years ago. I remember the night the Specials first played in Dublin. I remember getting the bus home from town and some rude boys were travelling out to the Stardust to the gig. I was envious but it was a case of too much too young as my parents decided that me as a 13 year old would not be going. Instead I had to content myself with my rude boy badges on my black (and then red) harrington. This was my uniform, my statement to the world. I like the Specials, I like punk rock, it doesn’t matter what you make of it.
Interesting that 21 years on I was to attend a parade of people making a similar statement. It all started when my union conference passed a motion a couple of years ago to participate in Dublins Gay Pride Parade. There was much discussion over this and thankfully the motion passed practically unanimously. Our union would parade in solidarity with members whose sexual preference was for people of the same sex. I had never attended a pride parade (my reason being that I didn’t feel any wish to express my sexuality in public) and didn’t attend with my union colleagues that year, nor the next. However something changed at our conference this year. Firstly I got elected onto the Unions Executive Committee so there is a certain responsibility that goes with that. Secondly it was mentioned that the motion previously passed in regard to parade was in danger of being ignored this year. Turnout from PSEU was very disappointing, in much the same way as people can be hesitant to come out in public, many people are hesitant to be seen to be union activists, especially a public service union. So with that in mind I made it my duty to ensure we would be represented. Many people feel unions are irrelevant in todays society, I would never subscribe to that view but can totally see the reasoning behind it. So much work has been done in this country to better the conditions of the working man and woman and with most improvements in working conditions there is a strong union propping them up. Unions are relevant when people require decent working conditions, when they are looking for pay rises, when dealing with work expectations and leave arrangements. If these hard earned gains are already in place then where’s the relevance? Of course it is there to ensure these conditions aren’t eroded beyond repair. Anyway union talk can come another day (and will). I’m here to talk about pride.

The day of the parade came and we had banded together a dozen assorted folk to go along. As I boarded the bus (going in the opposite direction to that Specials gig 21 years ago) I suddenly became self conscious. “What if people see me on the March….oops parade”? I was thinking, “Would they think I was gay?” And suddenly it seemed to matter. I was amazed at this internal reaction. Of course I reasoned it out with myself but I couldn’t prevent that initial feeleing. I have spent all my adolescent and adult life saying it’s ok to be what you want and do what you feel. Your actions and how you treat others are what count and yet something very simple like walking down O Connell Street in full public view with a bunch of amazing people dressed in some of the most outrageous and colourful costumes you ever will see felt a little uncomfortable. And this is where society comes in, this is where organisations like PSEU and other trade unions can lead the way. it is ok to be gay, it is ok not to be gay. It really doesn’t matter and until society fully accepts this there will continue to be a need to have Pride day.

 

niall hope

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EURO 2012 DARE TO DREAM

Euro 2012 – dreaming about you.

Now that was a nice distraction. All discussions around bail-outs and currency and interest rates and EU/IMF were concentrated on events on the football pitch in Poland and Ukraine over the past month. From the kick-off in Poland to the trophy being lifted in Ukraine all European matters revolved around football in my house. My 3 kids were driven to distraction by my demented warblings about the political situation in Ukraine. European history was discussed around whatever game took place. Russia and Poland – let’s talk about Glasnost – England v France – gentle rivalry across the channel – Germany v well anyone really and World War 2 raised its head. And then there was the Spanish – my son’s project on Spain became about Homage to Catalonia and how it was notable that the Spanish team don’t really sing the country’s national anthem (maybe like the Irish rugby team they could make one up……)
But what about the football?? I coach an Under 11’s team and have been drilling into them for the past couple of years the importance of passing the ball and trying to keep possession. Goalkeeper must roll the ball out and players must rotate all positions. If you don’t start a game one week you sure as hell will be starting the following one. It is all about learning the game and how to play as a team for these lads. Of course that means they make mistakes (the best way to learn) and they score less goals than the opposition in some games. But every game they do something worthwhile and it doesn’t involve any mirror image of the way Ireland or England played in the tournament.

How disappointing were the Irish and English national teams? I felt Ireland were going to have a torrid time as the three teams in our group were so superior but I had hoped that we could achieve something notable against them. I suppose we did this, but for all the wrong reasons. Least passes? Ireland, least shots on target? Ireland, most goals conceded? Ireland. Our neighbours across the Sea may have fared better with results (they finished the tournament unbeaten) but their football was awful. It was a worrying trend this season when Chelsea won the Champions League. I am all for the underdog but can’t accept Chelsea being the poor relation of Bayern Munich or Barcelona. They played a bad brand of football and the English national team played like them in the Euros. Thankfully Italy put paid to theat style.

Imagine saying that that about Italy, but they were great to watch – as were Spain. Every pass was a joy for me. I can now prepare for pre-season training with what will be the Under 12’s safe in the knowledge that it is ok to pass, it’ll pay dividends in the end. Stay true..

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ticket prices, more olympics…

What happens when ticket prices fall?

 

http://www.irishtimes.com/blogs/ontherecord/2012/08/14/the-new-rocknroll-ticket-price-discounts/

Jim Carroll on ticket prices for the Van Morrison gig. When the country is in such desperate financial straits should the authorities charge less for the use of their property? That way promoters would not have to take such big financial risks when putting on gigs?

The promoter is the person who sets the ticket price. The artist’s booking agent gets as much money for their client as possible.

 

More about the Olympic Closing Ceremony.

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2012/aug/14/olympics-closing-ceremony-90s

Priya Elan writes that: The closing ceremony proves that we’re still stuck in the 90s. I thought it would be interesting to analyse the music selected to represent Britain. My idea was to see when the original songs had been released.

So I went to the very handy, and so far very accurate, site http://www.everyhit.com/

You can enter any artist, song or album and find out when it appeared on the Top Forty pop chart.

Emeli Sandé – “Read All About It 2011

The Beatles – “Because” 1969

Madness– “Our House”  1982

Blur – “Parklife”  1994

Pet Shop Boys – “West End Girl”s 1985

One Direction – “What Makes You Beautiful” 2011

The Beatles – “A Day in the Life” 1967

Ray Davies – “Waterloo Sunset” 1967

Elbow “Open Arms” 2011,

Elbow “One Day Like This” 2008

One Direction – “What Makes You Beautiful” 2011

Kate Bush – “Running Up that Hill” 1985

George Harrison – “Here Comes the Sun” 1969

Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody”  1975

John Lennon – “Imagine” 1975

George Michael – “Freedom” 90 1990

George Michael  “White Light”  2012

The Who  “Pinball Wizard” 1969

David Bowie”Fashion” 1980

Annie Lennox – “Little Bird” 1993

Pink Floyd – “Wish You Were Here”  1975

Beatles “I Am the Walrus” (The Beatles cover) 1967

Fatboy Slim – “Right Here, Right Now”,  1999″

Fatboy Slim The Rockafeller Skank” 1998

Jessie J – “Price Tag” 2011

Tinie Tempah featuring. Jessie J – “Written in the Stars” 2010

Taio Cruz – “Dynamite” 2010

The Bee Gees – “You Should Be Dancing” 1976

Spice Girls – “Wannabe”, 1996

Spice Girls “Spice Up Your Life” 1997

Oasis – “Wonderwall” 1995

Monty Python – “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” 1979

Muse – “Survival” 2012

Queen – “Brighton Rock” 1974

Queen – “We will Rock You” 1977

Take That – “Rule the World”  2007

The Who “My Generation” 1965

 

Then I looked at the release dates to see what decades were represented. In other words what songs and what eras did the organisers decide should be included to represent the music of the country?

Queen, the Bee Gees, John Lennon and Pink Floyd are the only representatives of the 1970s.

Madness, Pet Shop Boys, Kate Bush and David Bowie are the four from the 1980s.

 

The really interesting thing is that there is only ONE song from the decade 1999 to 2009. What had happened to the industry here? Or do we only remember songs from the distant past and the very recent past?

Of course my thoughts then strayed to what would be included if someone tried to celebrate the pop music of Ireland in 36 songs!

 

the wildhearted outsider

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behind the SCENES with Green Day – Cometbus *54

*54 In China With Green DayThe great DIY Vs Major Label debate is generally presented in black and white. There is so much talk about ‘selling out’ that we sometimes forget that some people live in both worlds simultaneously.

Niall Hope got me the latest issue of Cometbus fanzine and it is fascinating. It also gives a great insider prespective on what happens when a band moves from DIY to major label.

While Loserdom is still my favourite current zine, this issue of Cometbus (number #54) may well be my favourite issue of a zine in ages. It is a 93 page diary of Green Day’s former tour manager reunited with the band (as their paid guest) on part of their Far Eastern tour. Most people who pen a loving tribute to any band who provided such a trip, but not Aaron Cometbus.

Instead he uses the zine to detail his feelings about being in the Far East, being around a band he used to work for unpaid, and to reflect on some of the people (including Green Day’s early drummer who has never cashed to cheques sent to him by the band!.

This is a very rare piece of rock and roll writing. It lives in the great gray area where real people do real things even in the surreal surroundings of a great American band playing to stadia of young Asians. Additionally there are some interesting insights about the various audiences in the different countries.You’ss have to read it to see which country has a strong cultural taboo against putting you hand on anyone’s head!

One interesting insight is the bond of friendship shared by the three members of Green Day. Rare in this industry and after so many years. The enduring image from this mini-book is the band (along with the fanzine writer and one of their touring musicians) playing Scrabble together in the hotel at night.

Brilliant!

the wildhearted outsider

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Blackpool v West Ham – Championship Playoff 2012

Do moral victories mean anything? I’m here on the train watching the beautiful countryside intersect with electrical pylons throughout middle England and I just can’t get the ill taste out of my mouth. It is certainly not the ill taste of food as the fare today has been exemplary. Planet organic after the game was preceded by some vegan cake from bumblebee and vegan treats from vx in kings cross. The food today has helped temper the feeling after watch west ham beat my beloved Blackpool today. Yep I’m biased, I have my tangerine memorabilia on as I type this but damn did west ham play awful football. I have attended many many games throughout my 2scoreandfour years and west ham were a reminder of some seasons going to the Carlisle grounds to see my other seaside team, bray wanderers.

Goalkeeper kickouts typified it today. When England international rob green put the ball down at the edge of his six yard box every one of his team mates congregated in a 20 yard circle each side of the half way line and towards one side. It was like the space used before a game to play 3 v 3 games, except there was 20 players in that area. It reminded me of the many disorganised protests I have been to down through the years. Instead of spreading out and making it seem like we were more in number we huddled together for strength in solidarity. Now while that may be ok if you are protesting about Israeli behaviour on Palestinian people or trying to make people more aware about he horrific barbaricity of vivisection but for a football team of professionals it seems just as wrong to me as eating meat (guess that still leaves me in the minority). Anyway there was a “football” match today. West ham were pre match favourites but the thousands of tangerine clad people were like attendees at a barak Obama rally believe we said, hope was in our hearts as the little guy went to bat against his rich counterpart. It didn’t start out quite as planned for the cockney team as Blackpool created some good chances.

Matt Phillips was on the pfa team of the championship this year but it wasn’t for his finishing. He got into 2 great opportunities but after fluffing the first one his second effort went just wide. We believed, we hoped but then the hammers scored. Mark noble played a great long ballot Carlton cole after some wrestling our the wing. Cole showed his class against Ian evatt and scored before Matt hills could reposition himself correctly. West ham fans, your team has some great players. Demand that they are allowed play!!!!! And so at halftime we were 1 down. What was to happen next? I had an eye on the clock as I has to get back to euston for 7 o clock. When Blackpool came and really took the game to west ham in the second half I had all sorts Rolf permutations going round my head and most of them involved missing the ferry!!! When we got the equalised there was a sense that something could be achieved today we pushed and tried to get that winner. We kept at it and with ten minutes to go it seemed that If the game wasn’t foing to be extended by extra time then it would be because the pool got the winner. And so we sang, we held our arms aloft and we believed. And then we were shut up. We were put back into our ideological cubbyhole. Hammers won a scrap played some quick passes and suddenly the ball was in the net. Don’t ask me how but the team with the money had muscled their way into the lead. We tried to hit back, tried to our sing those fans but their bubbles were too loud. Our bubble has burst and all that was left was for me I run out of the stadium and catch my train. So I pondered on today’s fare whilst eating my treat in planet organic, football mirrors life sometimes the good guys win but NOT always. Good luck to west ham in the premiership next season, they finished third in the league so natural justice belongs to them

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2012 Olympics – Remember them?

The newspapers around the world had a mixed response to the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics.

Here are a few of the negative ones? I picked them because you can learn more from mistakes than success.

Do you agree with the criticism?

What criticism do you have of the ceremony?

“Music meant pop music of course, but having just been stirred to the bone-marrow over the past two weeks by the dedication and graceful modesty of athletes, it was a bit galling to see an X Factor parade of stars, banging out numbers they could probably do in their sleep.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/aug/13/london-2012-closing-ceremony-review?newsfeed=true

“Instead of symbolism we got celebrity – and mostly mediocre ones at that.

If we’re hoping that the legacy of these Games will be an end to the inanity of talentless non-entities such as Brand and One Direction it seems we still have a long way to go.”

Read more: http://www.theweek.co.uk/olympics/london-2012/48441/london-olympics-ends-celebrity-spectacular#ixzz23PjTOEJG

“The second act, the much hyped “Symphony of British Music,” was a massive, exuberant celebration of British pop eccentricity, not complete or comprehensive by a long shot, and certainly lacking in star power, but chaotic and cheesy, shamelessly overwrought, overdressed and obsessive in the best British showoff style.”

http://www.thestar.com/sports/london2012/article/1241090–london-2012-closing-ceremony-a-dystopian-pop-pageant

I wonder what people would have enjoyed more?

If we use the Spice Girls as the dividing line between nostalgia acts and ‘recent’ acts, do Taio Cruz, Jessie J, Tinie Tempah, Emeli Sandé, Ed Sheeran, Kaiser Chiefs, Muse, Elbow, One Direction and Russell Brand represent the best of the past 18 years in Britain? The Spice Girls were over by 1998, they only lived on in Karaoke and brief and not very successful reunion tours. I am not including Liam Gallagher in the ‘recent’ list because he was there covering a hit from his previous band Oasis. We must remember that the song he ‘performed’ with Beady Eye was from the before the Spice Girl’s two year period as chart toppers.

What acts would you have included in the show?

What would have made it better?

the wildhearted outsider

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