Charlie Harper, UK Subs, punk and ska


This 13 November 2020 music video from England says about itself:

Form Square is the lead single from The Mistakes upcoming LP “A head full of damage”. Featuring Charlie Harper of The UK Subs.

So, Charlie Harper recently not only recorded new music for the UK Subs. He not only made a solo 7″. He not only played harmonica with Brighton all-girl band the Ramonas. He also played harmonica with this band from Poole in Dorset, the Mistakes. With a photo of Paul Simonon of the Clash in the background of the video.

The song is about standing strong in difficult situations.

The Mistakes call themselves ‘punk rock and roll with a ska influence.’ You can hear that influence in the song Form Square.

So, what is the relationship between ska and punk?

In the 1960s there was the first international wave of ska, with Millie Small and other Jamaican musicians.

In Jamaica, it became an influence on reggae. In the 1970s, there came mutual influence between ska and punk bands in Britain and elsewhere.

Like one can hear in Brighton band the Piranhas.

This live video is called Cheap ‘N’ Nasty | The Piranhas | The Prince Albert, Brighton | 30/03/2019.

The song was first recorded much earlier, in 1979.

The Piranhas then became an influence on the bass player/female vocalist of Dutch Cheap ‘n’ Nasty, named after the Piranhas song.

You can hear some ska influence in the Cheap ‘n’ Nasty Covergirl EP, with four songs written by her. Not in the first song, Covergirl. In the second song, Unknown.

This video has all four songs of the Covergirl EP.

And today, there is still ska influence in British punk bands. As not only the Mistakes show. Also this video by Smiley & The Underclass.

This 2020 video is called Smiley & The Underclass – We All Get Like This (Official Music Video). This London band has also played outside Britain, eg, in Germany and Japan.

This 2021 video by Millie Manders and The Shutup is called Broken Record.

They also have a song called Panic. Which, like the recent Charlie Harper song of the same name, is about the threatening climate crisis.

The present line-up of the band is Millie vocals, Alex drums, Don trumpet and sax, James guitar, Georgina, bass.

Young New Zealand albatross stretches her wings


This video from New Zealand says about itself:

Tiaki Stretches Wings, Shows Off Plumage On #RoyalCam | DOC | Cornell Lab – May 25, 2021

RoyalCam was set up in January 2016 by the Department of Conservation. For the 2019/2020 season we have collaborated with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. To learn more while watching, view the cam at here.

Royal Cam is a 24-hour live stream of a Northern Royal Albatross nest during the breeding season at Pukekura/Taiaroa Head on the southeast tip of New Zealand’s South Island.

The season of 2019/2020 has seen the Royal Cam once again move up the hill. Now at Top Flat Track our new pair is OGK (banded Orange, Green, Black) a 21-year-old male and YRK (banded Yellow, Red, Black) and 25-year-old female. YRK laid the egg on 14 November 2019.

This season the live stream has partnered with Cornell Bird Lab. There are some new features including a trial of night vision and the ability to pan and zoom the camera at the ranger’s discretion.

Happy birthday, Siouxsie Sioux!


This 1982 music video from the Royal Albert Hall in London, England says about itself:

Siouxsie & The Banshees – Painted Bird – Live

Without Siouxsie Sioux and other women like Poly Styrene, the Slits etc. there would have been no punk today.

Today, 27 May, is Siouxsie’s birthday. A very happy birthday, thank you for everything!

It is still early, but Happy Halloween for everyone, with Siouxsie!

Siouxsie and the Banshees 1981 interview and photos here.

Another interview: here.

About Siouxsie and the Banshees, and other, lyrics: here.

Are Siouxsie and the Banshees a Goth band? Here.

Siouxsie and the Banshees music videos: here. More videos here.

Saving millions of Gough island seabirds


This 19 May 2021 video says about itself:

Part of the UK Overseas Territory of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, Gough Island is home to more than eight million breeding birds from at least 24 different species, including highly threatened species such as the Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross, Atlantic petrel, MacGillivray’s prion, Gough bunting and Tristan albatross.

More about Gough island

The Critically Endangered Tristan albatross, one of the world’s greatest wanderers, is in need of an eleventh-hour intervention.

Mice were accidentally introduced by sailors to the remote Gough Island during the 19th century. These rodents have now colonised this World Heritage Site and learnt to exploit all available food sources on the island – including seabirds. Video cameras reveal how the mice eat the flesh of live seabird chicks – and, more recently, live adult birds too. Tristan albatross chicks weigh up to 10kg (more than 300 times the size of the mice), but the open wounds inflicted frequently lead to their deaths.

The situation is so severe that just 21% of Tristan albatross chicks survived to fledge during the 2017/18 breeding season. Such low breeding success is rapidly pushing the Tristan albatross towards extinction. The new evidence of attacks on adults is a dreadful development – the loss of adults will accelerate the path to extinction for this amazing bird.

The RSPB and Tristan da Cunha have developed an ambitious programme to save the Tristan albatross and other highly threatened species on Gough, such as MacGillivray’s prion and Atlantic petrel. Successfully restoring the island to a seabird haven will prevent the deaths of at least two million seabirds each year.

The coronavirus pandemic delayed the project, but the team are now back on the island ready to take the next step in restoring the seabird colonies.

The project is being run by the RSPB, in partnership with Tristan da Cunha, UK Government, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (South Africa), BirdLife South Africa, BirdLife International, Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, Island Conservation, Grupo de Ecología y Conservación de Islas and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.

Sound recording by Roelf Daling.

Find out more here.

UK Subs bassist Alvin Gibbs’ new EP


This music video from England says about itself:

Alvin Gibbs & The Disobedient Servants – “Live@Rebellion Festival”

Winter Gardens, Blackpool. August 3, 2019.

That was the last Rebellion festival before the coronavirus pandemic. The 2021 edition has been postponed to August 2022.

Alvin Gibbs is best known as bass player in the UK Subs: 1980–1983, 1988, 1996, 1999–2002, 2003–present. Talking about the UK Subs: today, 24 May, is Charlie Harper’s birthday.

Besides the UK Subs, Alvin also played in the Iggy Pop band. And, with Charlie Harper, in the Urban Dogs. And in the 1990s in Cheap And Nasty. Cheap And Nasty should not be confused with other bands with very similar names. Nothing to do with the later West Australian band Cheap’n’Nasty. Also unconnected to Dutch punk band Cheap ‘n’ Nasty. Alvin knows them. They played with the Subs in 1980 and 1981. He bought the first copy of their Covergirl EP.

In 2018, Alvin formed his band the Disobedient Servants.

Alvin Gibbs and the Disobedient Servants. Band live photo credit Andy Luckett

This photo shows Alvin Gibbs and the Disobedient Servants. Band live photo credit Andy Luckett.

The band that, like also, eg, the UK Subs, played at the 2019 Rebellion festival. And the band which now has released a new EP. Simultaneously with the new record by UK Subs singer Charlie Harper.

The Disobedient Servants are: Alvin on bass and vocals, UK Subs drummer Jamie Oliver (not the cook) and Ruts DC guitarist Leigh Heggarty.

The new EP is called State of Grace. Gaye Black (aka Gaye Advert) designed the sleeve.

The three songs on it are: ‘State Of Grace’, ‘Too Bad She’s In Love’, and ‘Brother, Sister’.

The first two songs are about somewhat problematic relationships.

In State of Grace, the guitar sounds out. Alvin’s voice clearly sounds well, though different from Charlie Harper.

Too Bad She’s In Love is a faster song than State of Grace. You can hear Alvin’s bass prominently.

While the third song, like Charlie Harper’s new song Panic,is about grave world problems.

From the lyrics of Brother, Sister:

“When the cake is cut in favour of the few
Brother, I can’t take it anymore…
When forests are burned and the world’s unconcerned…
Sister, it cuts me to the core…

When I see the hunters murder just for blood
Brother, I can’t take it anymore
When leaders speak of change but do nothing
Sister, it cuts me to the core

When freedom’s dead, our democracy unwed
Brother, I can’t take it anymore
When a tyrant ties a rope to your throat
Sister, it cuts me to the core”.

Even someone who is not a fan of punk music told me that Alvin has a good voice in this song.

Basilisk and motmot in Panama


This video says about itself:

Male Common Basilisk And Rufous Motmot Visit The Panama Fruit Feeder – May 20, 2021

A male Common Basilisk and a Rufous Motmot were both drawn to the buffet and the motmot does not seem interested in sharing the platform. Both of these visitors have a habit of being statue-still for portions of their time at the feeder. Note that this basilisk lost his tail at some point and it is slowly growing back in.

UK Subs singer Charlie Harper’s new record


This music video from London in England says about itself:

UK Subs performing live at the 100 Club

12 January 2020

This video is the sequel.

Anyone who knows anything about punk music knows the UK Subs.

Founded in 1976, as one of the first wave British punk bands.

Still making music today.

Not only known for their many live concerts and many records. Also for helping other bands. When fellow English band Crass did their first interview in a Dutch fanzine in 1978, they praised especially the Subs for that.

In September 1980, the UK Subs played in Venlo, the Netherlands. The Pinkpop organisation refused to pay to have a support band. Then, Subs singer Charlie Harper paid out of his own pocket for the petrol of the small car of the bass player/female vocalist of Dutch band Cheap ‘n’ Nasty, so they could come to Venlo to play.

Next year, 1981, UK Subs bassist Alvin Gibbs wanted to buy the first copy of the Cheap ‘n’ Nasty Covergirl EP. It happened.

More recently, Charlie Harper has been helping Brighton, England all-women punk band the Ramonas. Eg, by playing harmonica with them.

Talking about recently. Just after the live London videos on the top of this blog post were recorded, the coronavirus pandemic. Millions of deaths. More millions with permanent brain or permanent lung damage.

There are a few bright spots.

In some places, wildlife benefited from lockdowns. In New Zealand, only 25 people died. Concerts with 50,000 people without anyone catching COVD-19 are again possible there.

Thanks to the government listening to a pink-haired punk girl: to New Zealand COVID-19 fighter Dr Siouxsie (note the spelling) Wiles.

More bright spots: Captain Sensible of the Damned predicted that after the pandemic, it would turn out that many musicians had written good songs during lockdowns.

That is becoming apparent already. As the UK Subs have recorded new songs. Some for their new LP, Reverse Engineering. It will be out later this year. An album with twelve songs, three by each of the four band members.

And there is a new EP by the other band of Subs bassist Alvin Gibbs, the Disobedient Servants. I will review that record in a later blog post.

This blog post is about the new 7″ solo single by Charlie Harper. Charlie designed the sleeve himself. Originally, the songs were intended to go with Charlie’s autobiography. As that book was delayed, they are released now.

There are two songs on it. Panic, and Post War Punks.

The people playing on it are, on Panic:

Charlie Harper – Vocals
Marlon Payne – Guitar & Piano
Victoria Smith – Bass
Marley Perez – Drums

Marley Perez is Charlie Harper’s grandson.

Victoria Smith is also special. She is the bass player of the Ramonas. And also a bass teacher. Clara Wiseman, a woman teaching music, has played bass for the UK Subs before. But as far as I know, this is the first time that a specialised bass teacher plays on a Charlie Harper record.

Victoria Smith

Victoria Smith

On Post War Punks the line-up of ‘Charlie Harper & The Sub Machine’ is the same, except that Bram Payne, Marlon’s brother, plays bass instead of Victoria Smith.

Let us look at the two songs. First, Panic.

The music reminds me a bit of one of my favourite songs, Melody Lee by the Damned. At first, a piano. Is this going to be classical music or something? Then, unexpectedly, the snare drum and other instruments and the vocals come, making it a real punk song.

Charlie names young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg as an inspiration for this song. You can hear that in the lyrics, which are about threatening climate catastrophe ‘for God and greed’. How religious fundamentalists and short-sighted Big Businessmen in Big Oil etc. ruin the environment, and how everyone suffers from that. There is a certain similarity to the 2020 Damned song about the threat of bees becoming extinct.

The next song, Post War Punks, right from the start, leaves no doubt about being punk. It mentions ‘Post war punks eating post punk sandwiches’.

Charlie Harper

Maybe Charlie on this photo eats a post punk sandwich.

Both Charlie’s and Alvin’s songs are in this Punks Not Dead radio show.

Stop Israel-Palestinian war, protest report


This video from Israel is called 27.7.2014 Tel Aviv: 5000 protest assault on Gaza.

By Adam Keller of the peace movement in Israel:

The storm which Netanyahu unleashed

May 12, 2021 – 10.00 PM

Yesterday morning (Tuesday) we woke up with the news of twenty-one Palestinians killed in Gaza, nine of them minors, and two Israeli women killed in Ashkelon (one of them; it later turned out, was a migrant worker from India, and since then, the death toll on both sides more than doubled). Then came the email which I was expecting. Noa Levy of Hadash sent out an urgent call for emergency protests in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, A second message, from the Forum of Israeli and Palestinian Bereaved Families and Combatants for Peace, endorsed the Hadash call and added a Haifa protest venue initiated by the Haifa Women for Women Center. “The government is playing with fire – all of us get burned! In a desperate attempt to cling to power, Netanyahu is dragging us into war, into killing and suffering and pain for both peoples. Stop the escalation! Cease the fire! Stop the expulsion of families from Sheikh Jarrah, stop the police rampage in East Jerusalem. There can be no peace and no quiet as long as the West Bank lives under occupation and Gaza suffers a suffocating siege. The solution: an end to the occupation, an end to the siege of Gaza, and the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, with East Jerusalem as its capital. We all deserve to live in freedom and security. The time to act is now!”

And so, there were several hours of frantic work at the computer and phone, spreading the message by Facebook and Whatsapp to all who waited for such a call on such a day. And then taking the bus to Tel Aviv. The Kugel Boulevard, main Holon thoroughfare on which all buses to Tel Aviv travel, had its completely normal daily bustle. On King George Street in Tel Aviv, there were already several hundred people gathered outside the Likud Party headquarters. Among them, familiar faces, the determined minority of Israelis who always show up on such days, as in 2014 and 2009.. “Stop the fire, stop the bloodshed!” chanted several hundred throats. And “On both sides of the border / Children want to live!” and “Sheikh Jarrah, don’t despair / We will end the occupation yet!” and also “Gaza, Gaza, don’t despair / We will end the siege yet!” and “Netanyahu, Netanyahu / The Dock at the Hague waits for you!”.

Dispersal, and a vague feeling of frustration. But what more could we have done? Perhaps we would have felt more satisfied to be violently dispersed and spend the night in detention – but here, unlike other locations, the police did not interfere with the demonstration. There were only two bored police officers watching from the side. Our favorite vegan eatery was nearby, so we went in. Everything was just like any other evening out in downtown Tel Aviv, it felt a bit strange to have life as usual while terrible things happen elsewhere.

The air raid alarms wailed just after we paid our bill and started walking. We went into a nearby big pharmacy. The pharmacy staff were quietly efficient – “Over here, turn left, the basement stairs are there”. About a hundred people – staff and clients and everyone who happened to be on the street – crowded in. Even in the basement, we could clearly hear the explosions in the sky. “Are these the missiles themselves, or the interceptors?” wondered an old woman. Another old woman said “Don’t worry, dear, if this goes on we will all learn to know which is which”.

After a quarter of an hour we thought it was over and everybody emerged and started again down the street – and then the air raid siren sounded again. This time we went into the basement of a private house with very friendly young people who offered to let us stay the night. “You can stay here, no need to risk going out again, we have spare beds”.

I must say that up to that point it still felt like a bit of a game. I realize now that we shared the arrogant illusion of most Israelis that the Iron Dome missiles were giving us virtually complete protection. But as we were huddling in the second basement of the evening, the phone rang: “Are you OK? Good to hear your voice, I heard of the burned bus in Holon, I was so worried!” “I am in Tel Aviv, what bus is that?” A quick look at the news websites showed the Kugel Boulevard where we had passed just three hours before. It was a war zone, flames and scattered debris everywhere, and the skeleton of a completely burned bus in the middle. It was reported that the driver heard the alarm, stopped the bus and told everybody to run just a minute before the bus was hit.

Perhaps we should have taken the young people’s offer and stayed the night with them. Getting back home was a long and weary experience. The main roads were blocked by the police, and we saw ambulances and fire trucks rushing forward. The bus from Tel Aviv let us off a long way from home and there were no taxis to be had in the whole of Holon, so there was a very long and weary trudging through dark empty streets. At home I had a whatsapp exchange with an old friend. “Stay alert, this night is not yet over” she wrote. “The government is sure to order a strong retaliation for this attack on Tel Aviv, and the Palestinians will want to retaliate for the retaliation”. She was completely right. After 3.00 PM there was a very long series of alarms, one after the other. The explosions were more vague and seemed a long distance off. This time they were aiming at the Ben Gurion Airport.

One of the missiles had fallen on a hut in Lod (Lydda), and killed a fifty year old man and his teen daughter. It later turned out that they were Arabs, that they had lived in an “unrecognized” neighborhood where no building permits are issued, and that this prevented them from building a more solid structure which could have saved their lives.

And so here we are, with the conflict escalating and the death toll rising ever more steeply. And I should recapitulate, at least briefly, how we got to this.

Last Friday – just five days ago, though it seems like an eternity – public attention in Israel was totally riveted to the complicated dance of party politics. Prime Minister Netanyahu, facing three serious corruption charges at the Jerusalem District Court, had just failed in his efforts to form a new cabinet. The mandate passed to the oppositional “Block of Change”, whose leaders embarked on delicate negotiations aimed at forming a very heterogeneous government coalition comprising right-wing. left-wing and center parties, which have virtually nothing in common except the wish to see the last of Netanyahu. We had very mixed feelings about it, especially since the intended new Prime Minister Naftali Bennet is, if anything, more right-wing than Netanyahu. Still, the new government would have very strong mechanisms of “mutual veto” in place that would prevent Bennet from doing too much harm – though the same would also prevent the new government from doing much good, either. And this government would be the very first in Israeli history to rely on an Arab party for its parliamentary majority (other than the Rabin Government in 1995, whose tenure was cut short by the PM being assassinated).

Anyway, there were very concrete plans to have the new cabinet ready for parliamentary approval by Tuesday, May 11 (yesterday). The anti-corruption demonstrators who have been demonstrating every week outside the Prime Minister’s residence were joking about when the movers will arrive to take away the Netanyahu family furniture. But Netanyahu had other irons in the fire.

First, there was the planned expulsion of hundreds of Palestinians from their homes in the Sheikh Jarach neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Dozens of them were due to be expelled within days and extreme right settlers were going to enter into their vacated homes. Protests in Sheikh Jarach and elsewhere in East Jerusalem met brutal police repression. Then, protests spread to the Haram A Sharif (Temple Mount) compound, and so did the police repression. Police started to shoot “rubber” bullets directly into demonstrators’ faces, causing them to lose eyes – at least two of them losing both eyes and becoming blind for the rest of their lives. Footage of the police breaking into the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site and a place considered even by secular Palestinians as a major part of their national heritage, spread widely through the social networks, escalating the protests. And then there was the plan to have thousands of radical young settlers hold the provocative “Dance of the Flags” right through the Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, chanting their habitual racist slogans. The police and government reiterated hour after hour that the “Dance of the Flags” would take place as scheduled. And it was then that Hamas in Gaza threatened to retaliate for the attack on the Palestinians of Jerusalem, and the government declared that it would not bend to “the ultimatums of terrorists”. And at the very last moment the “Dance” was cancelled – but it was too late. At 6.00 PM the salvo of seven Hamas rockets at the outskirts of Jerusalem – which in fact caused no casualties or damage, but which precipitated the Israeli deadly retaliation on Gaza. .

And now, a bit more than 48 hours later, here we are, in the midst of an escalating war, the Israeli Air Force destroying high rise buildings in Gaza and proudly announcing the “elimination” of senior Hamas activists – but unable to hinder the Palestinians’ ability to go on shooting rockets. And relations between Jews and Arabs, fellow citizens of Israel, have descended to unprecedented depths of inter-communal violence. In Lod, the police declared a night curfew “to stop the rampaging Arabs” but Arab inhabitants refuse to abide and are involved in violent confrontations with police around a local mosque. And in Bat Yam and Tiberias, mobs of extreme right Jews are assaulting random Arabs and smashing up Arab-owned shops. And repeated again and again in the media is the government’s total refusal to make a ceasefire. “No, no, no ceasefire – we must teach Hamas a lesson!”

Of course no ceasefire. Why should Netanyahu want a ceasefire? Every day in which the shooting continues is one more day of keeping that dreaded movers’ truck away from the Prime Minister’s Residence, one more day of keeping power in his own hands. If there was concrete proof that Netanyahu did it all consciously and deliberately, it would make up criminal charges far more serious than those he is facing at the District Court of Jerusalem. But any such evidence is probably classified Top Secret and would only be published fifty years from now. So, we can’t prove that he did it deliberately, though there can be little doubt about it. We can only end the war and immediately afterwards get rid of him.

Perhaps what is happening now will shake President Biden out of the attitude of keeping a low profile on |Israel and the Palestinians? After all, all this mess had fallen on his desk with quite a loud clatter.