Week 35 – TBT 2017 – Staring at the rude boys

Last weekend Dee and I were in Belfast for Stiff Little Fingers‘ (SLF) homecoming gig on their 40th Anniversary tour.  They had a great supporting cast of The Stranglers, The Outcasts and this week’s TBT selection, Ruts DC.

The original Ruts were also around during the punk days, and probably best known for Babylon’s Burning.  Their lead singer died of an overdose, and their guitarist died about 10 years ago. Now a 3 piece band, with the original bassist (Segs Jennings) and drummer (Dave Ruffy), their set had some of their old classics and some newer numbers which sounded great.  The DC in their name is from the musical notation Da Coda, or “go back to the beginning”.

I had the pleasure of seeing Jennings and Ruffy last year when they did an acoustic tour as part of Dead Men Walking, along with Jake Burns from SLF and Kirk Brandon from Theatre of Hate. That was a very intimate gig: Saturday’s was the opposite!

The gig was sold out, with over 5000 tickets for an outdoor event.  The weather gods looked kindly on us, and the gig gods were even kinder. I spent the whole gig in the front row, right in the middle: I was in seventh heaven.  And to cap it all off, Ruts DC were staying in my hotel and I had the pleasure of meeting Segs the next morning.

On the Dead Men Walking tour, they talked about this song,  It was based on a real night out that they were at, along with Jake from SLF and others, where a serious fight broke out and all the various factions got involved.  The song itself is very textured, and tells the story really well.  I hope you enjoy it!

The Ruts – Staring at the Rude Boys

Advertisements

Week 34 – TBT 2017 – Hazy Shade of Winter

With my penchant for cover versions, it’s perhaps not surprising that this brilliant Simon and Garfunkel song should make an appearance along with Mrs Robinson from a few weeks back.

I love this version with its catchy guitar riff and layered vocals. I think it adds depth to the original, which was pretty good on its own. 

I first saw The Bangles on The Tube a while before they really made their name in the UK. I think the song they played was Going down to Liverpool and I really enjoyed their sound. Even now it’s quiet unusual to see a band, playing instruments, which is entirely female: there definitely weren’t many back then. 

I like the connection that Michael Steele, the bassist, has with Joan Jett and Lita Ford. They all played in The Runaways back in the 1970s with moderate success. One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about music is the connection between bands and how people move from one to another.

Anyhoo, enjoy this blast from the past…

Hazy Shade of Winter – The Bangles

Week 33 – TBT 2017 – London Calling


Sticking with the punk theme from last week, I thought I’d share this classic track from The Clash.  Not just because the bassline is excellent, but because the photo that goes with it has become iconic in its own right.  

Paul Simenon is in the process of smashing his bass – presumably at the end of the gig – and I think the image has such powerful energy and makes a statement all on its own.  

I played this track with a covers band a few years back, and had it as my ringtone for ages (I now have an AC/DC tune, but that’s for another week!).  For all that the bassline is a classic, and is so much fun to play, I can also state from experience that if the guitarists don’t play with some attitude the song becomes a bit bland. The song is crying out to be played with passion, with a swagger, and if you don’t play it that way it loses a lot of its power.  

I should probably state for posterity that, for all I like(d) punk, I was never a massive fan of The Clash.  They just didn’t seem to “do it” for me in the same way that other bands – notably SLF, the Sex Pistols, The Damned or Siouxsie and the Banshees – did.  It’s almost heresy to admit that, according to some fans, but we all like what we like, right?  

Anyhow, here it is: enjoy! 

London Calling – The Clash

Be less judgmental and be more compassionate


It seems to me that there’s been an increase in vitriol and hatred around the world, from the US / North Korea posturing, to the far right protesters in the US, to comments closer to home on Facebook.

I live on a relatively new estate, and at the moment it seems blighted by vandals and antisocial behaviour. Just this weekend, different people have reported, via Facebook:

  • capturing some youngsters (12 or 13 year olds) on CCTV after midnight deliberately breaking trees in their front garden
  • that their brand new home has been vandalised a matter of weeks before they were due to move in
  • that the lights outside their house were stolen and smashed further up the street
  • finding a dirty nappy (diaper) in their garden, apparently thrown there by the toddler next door

The first three are criminal acts, but the last one was probably an accident as the toddler may not have known what the impact of they were doing was.

In all these cases, the comments left by others on the estate have been abhorrent, from suggesting that the youngsters have their legs broken to pushing the contents of the nappy back through the neighbour’s letterbox. Just think about it. Suggesting that children are deliberately crippled for an act of vandalism.  Pushing excrement through a letter box because of something that was an accident, rather than talking to the parents. Really? What is wrong with these people?

As inflammatory comments were left following each report on Facebook, people seemed to be feeding off each other, off the negative energy. With the first incident, I asked if anyone had notified the police and / or got social services involved, but that was met with stony silence. More vitriolic comments followed, but to my knowledge the authorities were not contacted. Instead, the community just got more incensed, conveniently ignoring my suggestion.

We don’t know what circumstances have led to children of that age being out after midnight without their parents. We don’t know what drove someone to vandalise a nearly new house, or to take someone’s property and break it. Maybe it was boredom, maybe it was seen as “fun”, maybe there was a long standing connection between the perpetrators and the victims. The point is, until you know WHY something happened, how can you comment constructively or with any kind of reasoning? To comment without knowing the full facts from all sides makes no sense. It leads to people being judgmental based on their own biases and perceptions. That can’t be right, it can’t be helpful and it can’t be healthy for anyone involved.

Yes the vandalism and other acts should not be tolerated, but the best way to deal with them is to provide evidence to the police and let them sort it out, bringing in other agencies like social services if necessary. Mob rule and vigilante justice is just not on. We as a community should be better than that. We as humans should be better than that. Is this really the way to build a community? Is this really the way people want to live?  Is this how to build a society we can be proud of? Try showing a little compassion and kindness instead.

Week 32 – TBT 2017 – Nice ‘n Sleazy

One of the tunes I use when warming up prior to rehearsal or practice is this one. Only the intro, but it gets the fingers and hands moving well I think. The sound is unmistakably The Stranglers, and is a really dirty, grungy tone which I love. I’ve written before about how much I like JJ Burnel’s playing, and this is one of the classic examples that illustrate why. The first few notes are enough to give me goosebumps. I hope you enjoy it too!

Nice ‘n Sleazy – The Stranglers

Week 31 – TBT 2017 – When your heart stops beating

I can’t believe this song is 8 years old!  Where has all that time gone?  Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus from Blink 182 are the rhythm section of a band called +44, and this is arguably their only “big” hit.  I’m not sure why they named the band after the international dialling code for the UK, but it’s short and punchy, and I guess followed a bit of a trend back then for band names with numbers in them – or at least being called “The” something…

The song is pretty short but full of dynamic energy: the video shows Barker’s drumming power and complex rhythms really well.  I particularly like the break in the middle where the instruments each have a go, and a form of musical tension is built up.  This would be really interesting for a live band to play, as they’d need to be very tight to pull it off properly.  

Hope you’re ready for a good pogo and jump around – I am!  

+44 – When Your Heart Stops Beating