All posts by Big Erik

Week 33 – TBT – 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 – 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 – 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

Week 30 – TBT – Mrs Robinson

It’s not lost on me that I seem to like cover versions of classic songs, and this is no different. The Simon and Garfunkel version is brilliant, and very of its time, whereas this version by The Lemonheads (what a great band name by the way) is marginally better I think. 

The difference – as if you’ve not guessed – is the bassline. It’s got a really nice hook which was played on guitar on the original but just sounds great here. I’m guessing that it’s played with a pick (plectrum) rather than with fingers.

Watching the video triggered a couple of thoughts:

  1. At one point, Dustin Hoffman is wearing shades and driving a red convertible. Is it just me, or was it a combo that Tom Cruise was seen in during Rainman, which also starred … Dustin Hoffman?
  2. Towards the end, in the church scene, I could almost hear Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) shouting “Cassandra” – guess I’ve watched Wayne’s World 2 too often, as this song was on the soundtrack.

I’ve wanted to play this in a band for a long time, and hopefully one day I’ll get my wish…

Lemonheads – Mrs Robinson

Why are so many music stars taking their own life?


Another week has gone by, and another music icon has taken his own life. Chester Bennington, lead singer with Linkin Park, hanged himself on what would have been his good friend Chris Cornell’s birthday. Cornell hanged himself in May of this year, and Bennington sang at his funeral. Both of them had gigs coming up in the next few days. 

As part of my TBT posts this year I included a track from Audioslave, one of Cornell’s bands, in January. Linkin Park featured last month, and at the time I was unaware that the two singers were friends.

It’s hard to imagine what circumstances can have led two supremely talented and adored people to have felt that suicide was their only option, their only way to stop the feelings they had at that time. Dee and I have discussed it a lot since the news came out, as she felt a real connection with Linkin Park. We’re still no closer to having the answer, and I guess we’ll never know. 

They join a long list of stars who have died before they’ve got old, who have either deliberately or accidentally taken their own lives. At what point will society stop to wonder why that might be, why these individuals have felt so lost and so alone that death becomes their only real answer? I think society needs start asking those questions sooner rather than later. 

If you’re in the UK and are having suicidal thoughts, please contact The Samaritans using the contact details below. If you’re elsewhere, please reach out and talk to someone, find those people who are there to help.

Week 29 – TBT 2017 – Feuer Frei

I had to include this track at some point this year. I don’t speak German and haven’t looked up the lyrics, but I love the way the vocals scan, I love the intro (turn it up before you start) and the air raid siren running through the song is awesome! 

The track earns bonus points for being used in the film XXX starring Vin Diesel, which ends up in Prague, one of my favourite cities. Apparently Dee and I had a long chat about the fact this was on the soundtrack when we watched the film some months back, but I’d forgotten that. 

I’ve not listened to much Rammstein, but this track is perfect for blowing the cobwebs away! 

Rammstein – Feuer Frei