Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Style Council

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It’s those 80s again!

Never thought that much of the Style Council in general, certainly when compared to the Jam in their prime, but this one tune is a stonking nugget of Northern Soul revivalism. And with that lopsided proto-emo haircut Weller was well ahead of his time (or was it just watered-down Phil Oakey?). More than that though, the video, shot in the shadow of the reviled Palace of Culture in Warsaw (Stalin’s gift to his Polish serfs) back during the time of the mid-80s miners’ strike in Britain, is a poignant reminder of what can happen when East meets West, particularly back in those heady days. The blank looks on the kids’ faces say it all. Did any of them have a clue what the band were singing about? What would they have thought if they had?

“The class war’s real, not mythologized”

…. pardon?

“Walls come tumbling down”.

Ah yes, the Berlin wall, indeed it shall, how prophetic. We long to join you in the West!

“Unity is powerful”.

Yes! Solidarity will free us from this terrible socialism!

Hmm, difficult to imagine that a revolution led by a Roman Catholic, anti-communist trade union was quite what Weller had in mind when he wrote those lyrics. Brave souls, though, for trying to reach out and bridge the East-West divide. It could even be argued, since Poland was supplying the British government with coal at the time and thus helping to break the miners’ strike, essentially the last, heroically doomed stand of the working class in Thatcher’s very real, very vicious class war, that we all faced a common enemy, that the Polish communists and British Tories were basically “on the same side”. But can anyone, beyond a few desperate Trotskyite apologists still shielding their ears from the deafening roar of the fat lady singing for the demise of socialism since way back before Thatcher was even elected, really theorise themselves into this position, let alone believe it? Try getting that message through to these kids. Granted, I may have noted what I perceive to be similarities between Klaus and the commies recently in terms of character, but in terms of their ideology and actual programme? Give me a break.

I bet the Style Council had some interesting chats with the locals over in Warsaw back then.

“We very like your disco music and your black people, they are very smiling and have nice rhythm, not like our horrible gypsies”.


“We love you British, your country has much wealth and freedom, and your Iron Lady is the best, no?”


“It is my big dream to one day go to England and meet Lady Di, she is very kind, very beautiful woman”.

Waiter! Vodka!

“Ah, you like Polish vodka, you my friend, I love you!”

Call me a flippant smartarse if you like, but based on some of the conversations I had out here in the 90s, and therefore quite a few years after the fact, the above is not too much of an exaggeration. I don’t claim that my responses were any more articulate either, after all how does one respond to such cultural chasms?

To be fair to Weller and co. (and to all us lefties, dammit), back in 84 there was probably little to choose between Orgreave and Warsaw. The 80s – sour times indeed.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Cracking review of the new Firewater album (plus some pretty nifty Cave parody) over on the Impostume, who has also informed me that they're playing Prague in just over a month's time. On the downside I suppose that means I'll have to look after the lanky streak of piss for a weekend. Swings n roundabouts, yin and yang eh?
Oh bugger, I haven't said something stupid again have I?

Jolly Good Show!

HRH has been at it again, flying the flag for good old British bigotry. Is this a man or a cartoon? It’s impossible to caricature such a cretinous arsewipe, it would have the similar, lame effect as the banal pointlessness of Austin Powers taking the piss out of James Bond, himself a preposterous stereotype. The Duke of Edinburgh, however, is a real human being. At least in as far as he physically exists, although the life he lives admittedly can’t really be conceived as “real” in any meaningful sense. Those old farts among us old enough to remember still hark back to Phil’s golden age of racist abuse from the legendary “slitty-eyed” mid 80s China period, but still, this is pretty vintage stuff. So “Eastern women just sit around smoking pipes and eating sweets all day”. Well, that’s pretty sweeping. What, when you think about it, constitutes “Eastern”? Could include not only the Arabs (presumably he was thinking of them, since the remark was directed at a belly dancing troupe) but also the Chinese, Japanese, Indonesians, Indians, Persians, Russians… Greeks? No, maybe not them. Ah well, no harm done, according to the good old BBC (thanks for putting ‘insult’ in inverted commas, auntie) the women involved felt honoured to have been vilified by this useless, blue-blooded old shitbag, and judging by their names they weren’t even proper wogs anyway, mere sheep-shagging Welsh.

So that’s all right then!