US musician Leon Russell, RIP


This music video from the USA is called Ballad For A Soldier. That Leon Russell song is about the Vietnam war, especially the massacre in My Lai village by United States Lieutenant William Calley.

The lyrics are:

When I was just a young boy, I played with swords and guns, and I dreamed of the day I’d become a soldier.
And kill all of the enemy, my country ’tis of thee.
I sing this anthem sadly, won’t you hear me.
I watched the cannons blazing, on the giant silver screen.
The swastikas were burning and the hero was me.
The general gave the order, gladly I obeyed.
But the movie faded quickly all at once today.
And now I stand alone with the charges made, nowhere to run, not a place to hide.
We’re sad little children playing grown-up games.
Guess the time has come, the damage has been done.
Stray dogs that live on the highway, walk on three legs.
Cause they learn too slow to get the message.
Just like the Indians in the early days.
Battles lost and won, yet it still goes on.
It’s just another ballad for a soldier.

I had no understanding ’till I saw my mother cry, when they told how many babies I had killed that night.
A dozen color photographs inside of a magazine, told the morbid story like a movie screen.
But I was not the hero I thought myself to be, movies are much different from reality.
The general was convicted to get off of the hook, but the President might free me for the chance I took.
And we all stand alone when the charge is made, sad way to live, what a way to die.
We’re all little children playing grown-up games, can we burn the gun before the next time comes.
Stray dogs that live on the highway walk on three legs, they move too slow to get the message.
Give up and win, that’s all I have to say, we haven’t really won till all the fightin’ done, and there are no more ballads for the soldiers.

From Leon Russell’s site:

Nov. 13, 2016

Leon Russell died on Nov. 13, 2016 in Nashville at the age of 74. His wife said that he passed away in his sleep
.
The Master Of Space And Time was a legendary musician and songwriter originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma who performed his gospel-infused southern boogie piano rock, blues, and country music for over 50 years.

Leon was inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame and the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2011.

Leon led the famous Joe Cocker’s ‘Mad Dogs & Englishmen’ tour and performed with George Harrison and Friends at the Concert For Bangladesh. Leon has also toured with Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, Edgar Winter, The New Grass Revival, Willie Nelson, and Sir Elton John.

Leon’s songwriting credits include ‘A Song For You’, ‘Delta Lady’, ‘Hummingbird’, ‘Lady Blue’, ‘Back To The Island’, ‘Tight Rope’, and ‘This Masquerade’.

Women’s rock music in London


This video from England says about itself:

Dream Nails interviewed by Cassie Fox of LOUD WOMEN, with questions sent in from Ngaire Ruth. 16 April 2016, launch of the EP ‘DIY’ at Shacklewell Arms, London.

By Cassie Fox in England:

A month of great Grrrl power gigs and there’s more to come

Wednesday 2nd November 2016

Cassie Fox: Loud Women – Dispatches from the front line of feminist music

THERE’S been a heap load of great grrrl gigs on in London in the last few weeks.

LOUD WOMEN and Who Run the World’s joint fundraiser, part of the We Shall Overcome festival, went down a treat with The Empty Page, Dream Nails, Little Fists and Charmpit each providing top-class entertainment and raising cash for Women’s Aid.

Last Friday I wanted to clone myself so that I could simultaneously attend Dream Nails playing a Music Against Bruises benefit, the Empty Page and Foxcunt launching records at Nambucca and Dolls headlining Clitrock, a fundraiser for female genital mutilation awareness.

But what made missing out on these great gigs worthwhile was hosting Bratakus, a new punk duo from the north of Scotland, for LOUD WOMEN at the Hope & Anchor in Islington. They put on an amazing show and everyone in the room went home their biggest fan.

They’re a prime example of how social media helps female musicians, whether it’s working mums like me who can keep in touch with the world around their squillion other commitments or talented youngsters like these two, living on a hill in the wilderness, getting the chance to play a rocking show at an iconic London venue because of an exchange of Facebook messages.

The band is definitely one to watch, combining awesome energy with technical perfection and catchy songs. Check them out at facebook.com/Bratakus.

Closer to home — much closer — I hosted an acoustic gig with Lilith Ai last week in my kitchen. Lilith is very much at the top of my “should be playing the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury next year” list (if you’re reading, Ms Eavis, take note), so it was a huge honour to get to hear her play across the table from me.

Her perfect pop songs, powerfully sung with a beautiful voice, deliver poignant commentaries on the world of a young working-class woman of colour.

She joined me talking to BBC London in the run up to LOUD WOMEN Fest, so I returned the favour in interviewing her about the Fight Like a Girl project she’s spearheaded which is creating a network of female musicians across England and France who are working together on a compilation album and tour.

The video from Lilith’s Kitchen Session will be available in the LOUD WOMEN ezine at loudwomen.org/ e-zine.

Enough about London. Manchester’s post-punk LIINES are top of my booking wish list at the moment and they’ve just released a double-A side Disappear/Be Here ahead of a short tour (Stoke November 11, Liverpool November 17, Derby November 18, Manchester November 26 and Leeds December 2).

Deux Furieuses, another Scottish duo with a huge sound, played for us this summer and blew us away. My LOUD WOMEN colleague Kris Smith described it as “a scathing punk/rock assault on the senses” — in a good way, obvs.

Their album Tracks of Wire delivers the same impact as the live set, with some more atmospheric songs providing balance and contrast. This record, along with the upcoming Petrol Girls debut, is one of the most important albums of 2016 and you should seek it out immediately if you haven’t already. You might find it filed under Uneasy Listening.

The next LOUD WOMEN show is November 18, again at the Hope & Anchor in London, where we’ll be hosting a night with a more of a rock vibe than usual. The line-up includes Thunder on the Left, Phoenix Chroi, Lilith’s Army and Slags, with the latter a later addition to the bill.

They were booked instantly upon hearing their song Oh! Janine about, that’s right, Janine of Eastenders. Slags are my new favourite band already since Bratakus, I just know it.

And for your Yuletide diary, on December 2 LOUD WOMEN will be turning the Veg Bar Brixton’s cellar into a punk rock grotto with live performances from The Nyx, Baby Seals and my own brand-new band, GUTTFULL — think Downtown Boys meets X Ray Spex for a punk sax-off.

There’ll also be a festive DJ set from indie legend Debbie Smith on the decks and mistletoe aplenty. I love Christmas, can’t wait to get those chestnuts roasting.

Freddie Mercury gets asteroid named after him


This video says about itself:

Brian May announces Asteroid 17473 Freddiemercury 04/09/2016

This video announcement was first shown at the Freddie Mercury 70th Birthday Party in Montreux, Switzerland, Sunday 4 September 2016.

In announcing Asteroid 17473 Freddie Mercury, Brian May said:

“I’m happy to be able to announce that the International Astronomical Union‘s Minor Planet Center has today designated Asteroid 17473, discovered 1991, in Freddie’s name, timed to honour his 70th birthday. Henceforth this object will be known as Asteroid 17473 Freddiemercury. Published in the September 4th announcements of the Minor Planet Center, operating out of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, this announcement is to recognise Freddie’s outstanding influence in the world.

From Science News:

Rock star Freddie Mercury now has his own space rock

The late musician is the most recent celebrity to have an asteroid named after him

By Christopher Crockett

5:49pm, September 9, 2016

Freddie Mercury, the late lead singer for the band Queen, once sang: “I’m a shooting star leaping through the sky.” Turning lyrics into reality, the rock legend now has a hunk of space rock named after him. The International Astronomical Union has renamed asteroid 1991 FM3 as (17473) Freddiemercury. Bandmate Brian May, who has a Ph.D. in astrophysics and his own eponymous asteroid, announced the change online September 4, one day before what would have been Mercury’s 70th birthday. The asteroid was discovered in 1991, the same year that Mercury died.

The asteroid named after Mercury (no relation to the planet) sits in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and the 3.4-kilometer-wide rock loops around the sun once every 3.69 years. Mercury joins a long list of celebrity musicians to be immortalized with a small piece of the solar system, including Louie Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, David Bowie and all of the Beatles (John, Paul, George and Ringo).

Women’s rock festival in London


This music video from Britain says about itself:

Viva Zapata! – Running Through a Dream

24 May 2016

Fearless punk from Bristol inspired by the greats – Bessie, Nina, Kathleen and Mia. A new live song taken from an upcoming E.P. to be released Summer/Autumn 2016.

By Sally Jones in Britain:

Doing it for ourselves

Thursday 25th August 2016

With 25 acts representing the cream of punk, rock, indie and contemporary pop, Loud Women is set to be Britain’s biggest ever one-day women-led music festival, says SALLY JONES

LOUD Women is the brainchild of Cassie Fox of The Wimmins’ Institute and Thee Faction who, in October last year, put on a gig as part of the We Shall Overcome weekend of anti-austerity events taking place across the country.

“I looked at the list of gigs — hundreds of them — all starring men with guitars, male DJs and male organisers and I thought I’d try putting on a women-led live music night,” she says.

“It went so well it seemed natural to just carry on doing it as a regular night and, since then, we’ve put on 18 events, with 46 acts – and I have so many more on my ‘to do’ list.”

The timing for Loud Women, which takes place in Tottenham on September 3, is just right. There have been at least 10 new live music nights specialising in female artists set up in London alone in the past last year and, as ex-Melody Maker journalist Ngaire Ruth explains: “New women-led bands are being set up in reaction to the austerity cuts, which disproportionally affect working-class women.

“It’s nothing new. There are those issues — which is why we need to be loud – and a politically motivated scene, led by women.

“But it’s definitely a fresh approach. It started with Riot Grrrl — a movement, not a musical genre — and events such as LaDIYfest.

“Last time a movement like Loud Women came along, it was largely a peer group of the same age range and gender and everyone was at the stage of: ‘What do I think? Why do I think that?’

“Now husbands and boyfriends don’t call staying at home with the family ‘babysitting.’

“Today we embrace multiple feminisms for the same one cause.”

The anger in the air is being expressed through music, says Jenn Hart, from new punk band Viva La Zapata. “High-profile DIY bands like Pussy Riot have also inspired a new wave of women to learn instruments and play together.”

Encouraging access to the traditionally male domain of the punk rock show is key to this new wave of female-led music. Once a woman has had the inspiration to pick up an instrument and form a band, how’s she going to build a following if she can’t get a gig?

Fox is instrumental in helping answer that question. “I particularly love being able to offer a first gig to a new band who might otherwise have struggled to get a promoter to give them a chance. Awesome new bands like Dream Nails, Foxcunt and Mooncubs have formed this way.”

Female musicians are constantly faced with sexism, she asserts, from the male promoters who automatically put you bottom of the bill as a warm-up act for the male bands who play “proper music” to sound guys who mansplain how to operate your own equipment.

“I know one all-girl band who use a fictitious male manager for email correspondence with venues because ‘he’ tends to get a better response for bookings.

“It’s this sort of sexism that Loud Women seeks to wipe out, so we can just get on with the rocking.”

The Loud Women festival will take place at T Chances Arts and Music Centre, 399 High Road, Tottenham, London N17 on September 3, from 12 noon to 2am, admission £10. Children are welcome, entrance for under 16s is free and the venue is wheelchair accessible. Tickets: wegottickets.com/event/371192.

Update: here.

Erdogan’s Turkey, anti-Radiohead fans police brutality


This music video is by British band Radiohead – the song I Will, with subtitles in Spanish.

The lyrics are here. The song is a protest against the United States air force killing children in Iraq.

I will is from the 2003 Radiohead album Hail to the Thief, about ‘”the general sense of ignorance and intolerance and panic and stupidity” following the 2000 election of US President George W. Bush.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Turkish police attacks protest against Radiohead attack

Today, 04:50

In Istanbul last night a protest against the attack on visitors to a music party was ended harshly. Several hundred people had taken to the streets to express their anger at the violence of Friday night, but the police was not amused and drove the demonstrators away with tear gas and water cannons.

On Friday a group of men invaded a music store where at that time were gathered fans of the band Radiohead. The attackers are said to have been angry that the music lovers drank alcohol. They had sticks with them and smashed beer bottles to pieces on visitors’ heads. At least one man was injured.

The protesters turned their anger last night against the AK Party of President Erdogan, whom they accused of treason. The police were present en masse and arrested some demonstrators.

This video shows the extreme right thugs’ violence at the music store.

Turkish music fan injured by thugs

This photo shows a Radiohead fan, injured by these thugs.

British rock band Radiohead condemned an attack on customers at an Istanbul record store attending their album release party: here.

Radiohead Respond to Istanbul Attack: here.

European football championship, Wales and rock music


This music video says about itself:

Manic Street Preachers – Together Stronger (C’mon Wales) [Official Video]

12 May 2016

The Manics‘ Wales Euro 2016 anthem ‘Together Stronger (C’mon Wales)’s is out now.

By James Walsh in Britain:

Naff, but catchy

Tuesday 24th May 2016

It’s Euro football championship time again and, true to past form, anthems are being penned that are so bad they’re good, writes James Walsh

THE MANIC Street Preachers have written a song about the EU referendum. A soaring, anthemic number, interspersed with audio of the band’s favourite Jacques Delors’ speeches, which they hope will inspire voters to turn out and keep Wales in the European Union.

No they haven’t, I’m being silly. Instead, their song is about the Welsh football team, who are playing in the European Championships.

A soaring, anthemic number, interspersed with commentary of the team’s past sporting failures, which they hope will inspire the team to glory this summer.

The song is called Together Stronger (C’mon Wales), so you can see where the confusion came from.

It is extremely naff but quite catchy. With this, the Manics join a proud tradition of indie bands writing football songs destined to become strange curiosities to culture-miners of the future.

Who could forget Echo & The Bunny Men teaming up with Space, Ocean Colour Scene and the Spice Girls for 1998’s (How Does It Feel To Be) On Top Of The World? Well, Space singer Tommy, for one, who didn’t turn up to the recording but does appear in the video.

Or Scotland’s Del Dmitri, with the self-fulfilling prophecy of calling their tournament song Don’t Come Home Too Soon?

True to tradition, Scotland departed after the group stages.

Embrace’s official England song from 2006, World At Your Feet, was so bad the FA declined to have an official song for the following World Cup.

The only band to get it right was New Order, because they’re New Order. World In Motion is a wonderful tune even with the involvement of Keith Allen, John Barnes rapping and the line “We’re playing for England. We’re playing the song.”

Ten years ago, the London-based radio station XFM launched a competition for listeners to write their official song for Euro 2004.

The winner was a sub-Oasis lady anthem with the slightly sinister, Skippy title of Born in England, which would have come as a surprise to the team’s midfielder Owen Hargreaves, who was born in Canada.

Much more intriguing was the rejected song with the sensible name, European Championships 2004, which was a Streets-style lo-fi rap with the brilliant chorus: “The England fans and the England team abiding by the law.”

Which sure beats The Lightning Seeds.

England haven’t announced an official song for this summer at the time of writing but the bookies are bandying around terrifying names like Fabians and The Kaiser Chiefs, the latter once memorably described as being “like a shit Blur in hats.”

Meanwhile the Welsh are overflowing with talent. As well as the Manics’ cheesy official number, fans can also enjoy the return of the Super Furry Animals.

The band, who once sponsored Cardiff City, have released a football-themed song as their first single in seven years “to bring colour and hope to Europe’s footballing, and semi- or non-footballing, nations,” according to the press release.

“Sing Bong isn’t a song of victory or defeat but a beacon of faith to return to when your best centre-forward gets sent off, or it rains at your festival. Keep it in a safe place for a time when you will need it.”

I’ve stuck my copy behind glass and will break it in an emergency, such as Boris Johnson becoming prime minister. It’s a strangely hypnotic communal disco number, with lyrics to the minimum, and in Welsh.

In the video, the band are shown eternally looped playing pick-me-up. It is nonsensical, profound and warmly internationalist.

Perhaps it’s secretly about the EU referendum.