Thirty years on from Michael Buerk’s reportage on the stricken Ethiopians, he (in no coincidence) is now on perennial telly-crap ‘I’m a non-entity please let me into there.’
With that segue out the way …
As everyone knows all too well this report so enraged also-ran rocker and Paula Yates’ other half Boomtown Prat Bob Geldof into action, demanding that WE give our ‘fockin’ money to charity. Something which WE did to no avail apparently as we then had him hector and guilt-shame us thrice more, 1989, 2004 and now 2014. At the fourth attempt you’d hope that things had been taken on board. In the words of Loyd Grossman, ‘Let’s look at the evidence.
This time it’s not hunger he’s pissed off about but the fear and moral-panic vehicle that goes by the name Ebola, (c.f. Sars, paedophiles, Avian flu, Commies, shoe bombs, the miners, foxes, Anthrax, Muslims, THEM) which by most accounts emanated from three African countries that had Western laboratories in that suddenly closed down with and subsequently denied all knowledge of. Hmmm …
So to stop the spread of this bug we all need to spend money (we haven’t got) on downloading this atrocity featuring such no marks, non-entities, dead-heads and peddlers of piss as Rita Bore-a (or is it Ri-Ri chicken, Smiley Virus or Simulaty Perry? hard to tell), Chris Martin (the skimmed-milk Bono), (Ne)Ed Sheeran-Aid, fog-horn of inanity Grimmy Grimmsville, some vloggers (yeah, bewildering) and (bafflingly) Underworld’s Karl Hyde with the cover designed by fartist, Tracy Emin. A ghoul’s who seemingly orchestrated by Chris Morris that took turns over-emoting down the mic. Thanks guys.
In defence of the original it had no real template or precedent (George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh aside, which incidentally he ended up losing out financially as a result of the tax laws, more of which to come), some (if not most or all) of the acts all turned up drunk or drugged, (Spandau Ballet, Status Quo) and oblivious to how history would perceive it; it seemed less a cynical manoeuvre for sales as opposed to another item on the itineraries. In these hyper-real times everyone knows how this will be seen, viewed, remembered, how a legacy can be created and sustained.
Lyrically it has always come under fire for crass generalisations (‘You mean Africa’s NOT a country, Bob?’) Yes, after 30 years times have changed and it is now understood by all that Christmas is an occurrence in Christian countries on the African continent too (it just doesn’t have sickly, history-splicing adverts for chocolate … yet). By clunkily changing only certain elements (Bono’s dispassionate phoning in of ‘tonight we’re reaching out …’) yet retaining others it’s another example of something being recontextualised and decontextualized rendering it bereft of meaning and meaningless.
Don’t forget Jagger and Bowie’s 1985 abomination, the garish cover of ‘Dancing in the Street’ by these dinosaurs’ (at the time, yes, 30 years ago they were the old guard, yesterday’s news, fogeys, critically past it if not commercially. Their resurrections would take place towards the end of the decade) an interpretation of an insurrectionary call to arms reimagined as an ego trip, a desire for relevance and above all piss-taking dancing. ‘Hey, Africa, dance the pain away’
We are perpetually reminded that this is a time of austerity, money is tight, and the old pearl that charity begins at home, but, it doesn’t. True the high streets are festooned with shops of numerous charities and you can’t walk anywhere without being accosted by a perma-grinned person desperate for your bank details.
As the season of over-consumption approaches it’s spend, give, borrow, give, spend, worry, spend, we are kept in a perpetual state of cognitive dissonance, a compromised conscience and colonised consciousness that screams ‘Hold on, what about the inequality here, the hunger, poverty and elderly who cannot afford heating?’. ‘Be grateful for what you’ve got’ there’s ‘Always someone else worse off, you’ve got the telly haven’t you?’
‘You’re too busy fighting your irrelevant battles to see what’s going on in your own back yard
‘Cos some of us are having a hard, hard time’
‘Food Bank Britain, ATOS Britain, UKIP Britain, with its endlessly declining pay, rising rents, spiralling debts. Home to the nine poorest areas of northern Europe as well as its single richest. A country riven by a series of fantastical, overlapping revelations, phone hacking, financial manipulation, VIP paedophiles, police corruption. A nexus of vested interests intent on occulting and exculpating it all.’
The tax evading aristrockracy, typified by none other than Knight of the Realm (translated as arse-licker) Geldof was interviewed by The Times a few years ago in a revealing exchange:
‘So how much is he worth? “I’m not telling you. But I am rich, let’s be clear.”
Anyway, he says, that is irrelevant. Is it? He wants governments to give more aid. But aid comes from tax. Wealthy people want to be as tax efficient as legally possible, restricting the amount of aid governments can afford to give.
Can he understand why some might get annoyed when rich rock stars campaign about poverty?
He explodes with rage. “I pay all my taxes. My time? Is that not a tax? I employ 500 people [through his production companies]. I have created business for the UK government. I have given my ideas. I have given half my life to this.”
So, ‘All animals are equal, yeah?’
BA30: ‘YOU’ give, we perform and advertise our wares, fair swap, Guv?’
Adele has incurred the wrath of the Celestial Being by opting to donate rather than get involved in the charade. ‘Adele is doing nothing,’ said Geldof at the weekend. ‘She’s not answering the phone… she’s not writing. She’s not recording. She doesn’t want to be bothered by anyone. She won’t pick up the phone to her manager. She’s bringing up a family, you know.’ Richard and Judy wholeheartedly recommend the following for your Yuletide stocking filler ‘Parenting Tips’ by Sir Bob Geldof: Chapter One – ‘How to hide the smack effectively.’ Bob, anywhere’s there’s food’s a good bet, mate.
Saint Bono of You Too (a man who avoids Irish taxes while simultaneously telling the Irish government to help developing countries) was asked a while ago on an Irish chat show, “you make demands of our time and money for your charity projects yet you can’t find it in yourself to pay for the street lights outside your house with income tax.” To invoke the profound wisdom of Richard Littlejohn, ‘You couldn’t make it up’.
Top bantz in the studio
Olly: ‘Great this, innit’
Nobby: P*ss off, mate, I’m trying to hear what my next scripted action/flirtation/stylised bed-head hair appointment is’
Why not create an original song, one that doesn’t have associations with the past? New cause, new song? Where did the money go all the other times the begging bowl was passed round? The lasting effects are that nothing’s changed. Blur’s Damon Albarn (who’s actually been to Africa) said “There are problems with our idea of charity, especially these things that suddenly balloon out of nothing and then create a media frenzy where some of that essential communication is lost and it starts to feel like it’s a process where if you give money you solve the problem, and really sometimes giving money creates another problem.”
Why haven’t Farrell Williams (the new Jacko) and Shill.I.Am (the new Lionel Richie) reinvigorated ‘We are the world?’ We have a right to know.
As always, in the words of Jimmy Cliff ‘There are more questions than answers’
Fleece the world indeed.
Billy Idol and Mick Fleetwood were on ginger madcap, zany, ginger wacky fun-jock ginger Chris Evans’s hoot-fest on Friday 7th November and Welsh warbler and dead-eyed Stepford Wife Katherine Jenkins put it to Bill, ‘would you ever entertain the troops’, to which (as if he’d say otherwise or the jingo brigade would be on him) he spluttered, ‘Well, yeah’. What is he expected to say? Ol’ Jenko, got an album to sell have you, Christmas, one for the old dears? Throw in that ‘Dover’ one, ‘we’ll meet again …’ We were then treated to her alley-cat rendition of Laughing Len’s ‘Hallelujah’ (secular hymn?) all lip service and servility. Anyhow …
So, the war to end all wars, the ‘Great’ War approaches its centenary (the start of it anyway, we’ve got four more years at least of our elected representatives reminding us of the sacrifices made, they didn’t get slaughtered in vain, the perpetual wars waged ever since in the name of freedom and democracy illustrate this perfectly, Gammon Head Dave, Gideon Gump, Ed-wood, Nige Facade and the other tub-thumping tosser, Neil? Ned? Ideological cover is provided by all parties with weasel words written by committee and delivered dispassionately, they preach and they pray and then they propagate more misery and death.
The poppy’s meaning has been decontextualised and nefariously appropriated; its current use has echoes of the Nazis inversion of the swastika, something insidious is at work: poppy fascism. More Orwellian appropriation, all participants are dead and so are their truths. When there’s no one around to question ‘facts’ and events, to say ‘Hold on, that’s not HOW it was’ then the story can be (re)written any which way that suits the suits. And it is.
We have the Royal family and its adherents, all faux-emotion, lacking in empathy. ‘What did you do in the war, Saxe-Coburg Gotha?’ ‘Vee avoided der bombing by our own family’. Funny how Buck House wasn’t bombed.
This article by art critic Jonathon Jones articulates perfectly the logic-bending thinking behind this ‘art’ wherein only ‘our’ boys, ‘our’ dead are worth remembering.
Not the Boche, not the Hun, not Jerry, not the Krauts, not the Frogs, not the Wops, not the Russkies. Only Tommy, then and now and forever more. But, but, not those Tommies who, traumatised by the horrors deserted ony to be shot. Are they remembered as a ceramic poppy?* How does this display of fake poppies convey the horrors we’re reminded of through literature, poetry and music, its symbolism appropriated and repackaged and resold.
But, what’s being sold, a version of history to legitimise interventions, validate coups and to question or query renders you disrespectful of those who gave their lives then and continue to do so now (for the corporate entities that are continually carving up the world with their land grab, territorial positioning, natural resources thievery.
Unsurprisingly Jones attracted opprobrium and brave threats from keyboard warriors and such estimable veracity organs and propaganda merchants as The Daily Mail and Evening Standard. The irony bewilders.
And then there’s this, a fine example of inversion, lyrics tweaked to subvert its original message, akin to the neuro-linguistic programming so favoured by the (s)elected elites.:
Other examples have been the X Factor’s rendition of Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ which was transformed from a love letter to Berlin encapsulating the Cold War and its harsh divisions into an ode to those who had chosen to enlist for Queen and Country, aware that they might come to harm and even die fighting battles on behalf of the totalitarianism disguised as democracy we are master proponents at exporting. No heroes of mine.
Then, in 2010 Status Quo reimagined their cover of anti-war song ‘In the army now’ rejigging the lyrics to make it a show of solidarity for those who were slain or even worse came back injured and wounded only to find their benefits cut and society shunning you. Don’t worry, James Hewitt’s lad’s organised an egg and spoon race for you, the usual sponsors will benefit and you’ll receive your 15 minutes before being cast aside as a blight on resources. (N.B. This does not apply to those of the Officer class, natch)
Food for thought http://stopwar.org.uk/news/ten-lies-we-re-told-to-justify-the-slaughter-of-20-million-in-the-first-world-war
I suspect (nay, believe) that there’ll be much more to say about this.
Lest we forget …
Almost thirty years since their debut, The Wedding Present reissue their first eight offerings with the obligatory odds and sods and curios. A grown-up, post-bedroom dwelling Smiths, mainstay David Gedge is a narrator of the quixotic and quotidian, emblematic of ‘indie’ before the term became rootless and nothing but shorthand for a ‘look’ and usage of specific instrumentation (2/3 guitars, drums and moody boneheaded lunk up top). Progenitors of choppy, chiming and whirling guitars and intricate tales of love, loss, regret, Gedge is a totem of indie-rock with a laconic, catch-throat delivery and expert at articulating the pratfalls and pitfalls of the emotions.
Remaining on the right side of twee, these are songs that are wry and spry to make you cry (tears of recognition and empathy) as well as a battering of the senses. ‘Tommy’(1987) collates their first four singles, B-sides and selected tracks from two early radio sessions with perennial champion, John Peel. The album features the superlative ‘My Favourite Dress’ an early indicator of the sardonic slant Gedge would take with his lyrical themes ( ‘Slowly your beauty is eaten away, by the scent of someone else on the blanket where we lay … there’s always something left behind’) allied to a coda that no matter when it finishes always feels too soon.
1987’s ‘George Best’ upped the guitar pyrotechnics with the band at times sounding like a more melodic Mission of Burma and featuring wonderfully elaborate titles such as ‘What did your last servant die of?’ and ‘Everyone thinks he looks daft’ that instinctively demand further inspection.
The gloriously vivid lyrical themes continue with songs like ‘No’ from 1989’s ‘Bizarro’ articulating that moment in a relationship when you’ve been had off and cheated on, the detritus a giveaway; on this occasion ‘his’ razor.
‘Kennedy’ was unleashed on the world from this album and is one of the defining songs of the decade capturing the dearth/death of the American Dream with a metaphorical excess of ‘apple pie’.
The assault on the lugholes continue in fine fettle with 1991’s ‘Seamonsters’ which saw the band link up proper with Ur-noise engineer, Steve Albini and in a rebuke to the ‘critics’ ditch the fantastical titles in favour of one-word titles (‘Dalliance’ ‘Suck’ etc.) Arguably the band’s peak in terms of cohesion and content, the album is a blast of sonic architecture that still astounds to this day.
The knowingly arch ‘Hit Parade’ was a compendium of the 12 7” singles released every calendar month in 1992 (equalling Elvis Presley’s record for the most U.K. Top 30 hits in one year) a typically Gedgian act of subversion annoying the gatekeepers in the process which nowadays would be viewed as cynical and folly. The same format was actioned the following year; ‘if it ain’t broke …’
With nary a dud throughout, in terms of a matrimonial gift this is an all-expenses paid jaunt to the tropics rather than a welcome mat.
Jib the counterfetti, engage your heart and intellect and dine at the top table for once.