Browsing the archives for the punk tag.

I and I and the international financial crisis

Economy, Funny, Music, World Economy

I’m guessing this might be a first: a dub reggea track about the international financial crisis. Called “The international financial crisis”. Could someone please explain to me / this problem with liquidity? Should be #1 in the guy’s MySpace playlist.

Mr Brown he acted quickly
for that we must give him thanks,
He made a Big Decision
and he nationalised the Banks,

France and Germany
they quickly followed suit,
It’s a tempory solution
now we got to get to the root
of this …

International Financial Crisis
International Financial Crisis

Then again, JC Carroll isn’t your average rastaman. Once upon a day, in 1976, he was a trainee merchant banker. Then he joined The Members, which were good for a couple of definite UK punk classics. I still play their Solitary Confinement and Sound of the Suburbs – infectiously simple songs that combined the punk spirit with an irresistible guy-next-door vibe. Check their Wikipedia page for an odd little rundown of events that feels like one of the band members must have had a hand in it – judging on all the talk about “the Tesco-Carroll axis that .. dominate[d] the band” maybe JC himself?

Fast forward 30 years: Tesco’s been in a couple of bands, including the hilarious Leningrad Cowboys, and become a journalist at Music Week, while Carroll established a clothing shop or two and is now online on sites like these. I’m a sucker for obscure post-rock fates and all the idiosyncrasies involved in journeys like the one from here to here. For curiosity value, then, check out the YouTube vid of Carroll announcing and performing the “World Exclusive” of International Financial Crisis on “the legendary Manhattan Cable Show” Rant and Rave too. The MySpace version is definitely better, but … yeah, I’m a sucker for meandering life paths.

Anyway, Carroll may have the first dubby take, but there is, apparently, already something called “recession pop”. And I had to hear it from my septuagenarian father, who got it from the Freakonomics blog. The couple who sent in a home video of their song Fannie Mae Eat Freddie Mac and Cheese surely rival Carroll’s Rant and Rave performance, and Casey Shea’s “hushed and hopeful” Everybody’s Getting Bailed Out (Except for Me) brings romance to the economic angst. But the “noisy and apocalyptic” third exhibit will have to be the poster child for recession pop for now:

Constantines – Credit River

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The tragic mystery of the Redskins, or: No socialism in our time

Culture, European culture(s)

One way in which this age of Google and Wikipedia is different from that of decades past is that even the most obscure names live on forever, remaining forever a mouseclick away. How many times haven’t you thought, “hey, I wonder whatever happened to..”: fill in the name of an old acquaintance, a long-forgotten band, a football star of yore? In previous eras, you’d spend that wistful thought on it, and then by necessity shrug it off. Who knows?

Well, now you too can know. That obscure new wave band? The singer writes songs for TV shows now; the bassist works as a market salesman. That ridiculous Eurovision Songfestival contestant? He’s online now, editing his own Wikipedia entry and touting the brilliancy of his performance on specialist web forums. And a surprising number of tragic endings… one moment you’re listening to a song by The Sound that happened to pass by on last.fm, the next you’re looking up their bio and find out that the singer committed suicide, and his band mate died of AIDS.

So who remembers the Redskins? They were a punk band in the early eighties, and they were as political as could be. Committed to the revolution, they played every benefit gig, in support of the miners’ strike, against racism, against apartheid, you name it. They were Billy Bragg’s little skinhead brothers. They threw in pop and soul too if that enabled them to reach a wider audience with their message: “think the Jam, the Clash, the Specials, Dexy’s, the Fall and the Supremes all rolled into one,” as a retrospective review put it.

Their second single, Lean On Me, was dubbed “a love song to workers solidarity” and “a modern soul classic” by the NME. They even had some minor top 50 hits. Keep On Keepin’ On! reached #43 in the UK charts in 1984; Bring It Down (This Insane Thing) reached #33 the year after. The Redskins, concludes fan Dave T. on the unofficial band website redskins.co.uk, “were the first band to bring revolutionary socialism to the dancefloor.”

But when you wonder whatever happened with them, the story you find is rather tragic, and something of an allegory for an entire political culture which they, in their way, represented.

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