BUSHELL ON THE BLOG
Feb 28. I’m chatting to comedian and semi-reformed polecat Jenny Éclair in today’s Sunday Express Review, and talking TV with Northern Soul DJ, and Doctor Who super-fan, Ian Levine.
Feb 27. Brace yourselves for tax rises next week. Dishy Rishi looks likely to go against his own instincts and ramp up the agony – even though bashing business and pumping up state spending always ends in tears. If Sunak and Boris really want the private sector to spearhead Britain’s economic recovery, as they claim, they’d be slashing taxes to make us more competitive. Lower state spending and rapid growth is the only solution to the legacy of lockdown. Unfortunately, few of BoJo’s cabinet have any real-world business experience. The Blairite Pied Piper of high public spending calls the tune and these bungling twerps will lead us dancing and skipping off the edge of an economic cliff. The faint whirling sound when Rishi breaks the news will be Maggie spinning in her tin.
Feb 26. The Scots Nats are in open warfare as Salmond takes on Sturgeon. It isn’t so much a “Holyrood horror show” as black farce with a side order of Kafka. Wee Krankie Sturgeon had misled the Scottish Parliament, breeched the ministerial code and allegedly colluded to stop Salmond publishing his side of the story. Is this the “freedom” SNP supporters dream of? An authoritarian nightmare of corruption and sleaze? “Och, away an’ bile yer heid.”
I’m reviewing Alice Cooper, Steve Lukather, Florida Georgia Line and Bradford in today’s Express and Daily Mirror.
Feb 25. NASA has shown us once again that Mars is a bleak, hostile place completely inhospitable to normal life. Much like Nicola Sturgeon’s Holyrood without the corruption.
Vaccine passports? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Can you imagine any woman agreeing to that before hair salons open?
Feb 24. Here is yesterday’s Rancid Sounds – a celebration of forty years of backstreet punk with a sprinkling of 70s reggae.
Feb 22. So sad to hear that my friend and former band mate Tony Morrison has died. He was a lovely man and a tremendous guitarist – with the Angelic Upstarts, his Mod band Long Tall Shorty and of course The Gonads. He and his Arthur Daley-like approach to small legalities will be sorely missed. Sincere condolences to his wife and family.
Feb 21. I’m talking to Toto’s Steve Lukather in today’s Sunday Express. If you miss it, it’s online here.
Feb 15. My comic novel Hell Bent is now on sale for £6.99 from Caffeine Nights. Here are some of the kind things people have said about it – and I didn’t pay ’em a penny: ‘Multi-layered, imaginative and very funny. A genre-busting masterpiece.’ – John King, author The Football factory. ‘A remarkable novel full of wonderful one-liners’ – Jonathan Lloyd, Curtis Brown. ‘A brilliantly funny fast-moving romp...Stunning’ – Alex Lane, Street Sounds. ‘Finally a work of fantasy fiction that flips effortlessly between hard-as-nails realism and intense trippy nightmares' – pulp fiction author Craig Brackenridge.
Feb 14. I’m chatting to John ‘Nasty Nick’ Altman in today’s Sunday Express Review about his move from EastEnders bad-boy to rock’n’roll, and talking TV with Amy Huberman.
Feb 12. Life is full of mysteries. How come Boris employs three photographers and not a single barber? Was the Weeknd’s golden house of mirrors at Superbowl inspired by John Bercow’s boudoir? And most disturbing of all, why are Ofcom investigating Talking Pictures TV – a station devoted to decades-old films and TV shows – for offences against modern snowflake culture? Almost anything made in the 50s and 60s will “offend” the perpetually outraged bores of today. In this latest case just one viewer complained about a 1970s episode of the long-forgotten Rogues Rock because of the casual use of “blackface”. Do these jumped-up little Stalins think it’s their job to censor the past and rewrite history? Or that we’re now so feeble-minded that just one glimpse of the Black & White Minstrels would send viewers flocking to the BNP? Many find it offensive that Ofcom insults our intelligence so. Maybe they should investigate themselves.
Feb 11. Good news. After a long pandemic-enforced break, I recorded three new radio shows yesterday – Sounds of Glory, Rancid Sounds and Highway To Hell. The first will go out on 2nd City Radio at 11pm next Tuesday (16th Feb.)
Feb 9. RIP Mary Wilson. The soul star and founding member of the Supremes has died in her sleep at home in Nevada aged 76. The Supremes, featuring Mary, Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, were one of the most successful Motown groups of the 1960s, notching up an unbroken string of number ones including Where Did Our Love Go, Baby Love, Come See About Me, Stop In The Name Of Love and Back In My Arms Again. They were a pop phenomenon. Huge talents from humble backgrounds. Motown guru Berry Gordy, who had a long affair with Diana, then changed their name to Diana Ross & the Supremes. Florence said this changed the group’s dynamic and left soon after. She died aged just 32 after struggling with alcohol and depression. Then Diana went solo, leaving Mary to carry on with new recruits Cindy Birdsong and Jean Terrell. She sang lead vocals and they had hits with 1971’s Floy Joy and 1972’s Automatically Sunshine, but never again hit those amazing sixties heights. Mary left in 1977 and took on Motown in a long legal battle over the Supremes management (they settled out of court). After her move into disco flopped, Mary turned to musical theatre. Her biggest post-Supremes success was her 1986 memoir Dreamgirl: My Life As A Supreme, a huge best-seller which allowed her to reinvent herself in Vegas.
Feb 7. I’m talking TV with Charles Esten from Nashville in today’s Sunday Express Review.
Feb 6. What a shame John Humphreys is leaving Mastermind. Was he pushed, or did he just have enough of the endless dumbing down? A terrific broadcaster, John managed to be both sharp and warm. The BBC will struggle to replace him. Newsnight never recovered from losing Paxman.
Feb 5. Album of the week? Foo Fighters’ Medicine At Midnight – reviewed in today’s Express and Mirror.
Mark Carney says climate crisis deaths “will be worse than Covid”. Dramatic stuff, but eerily familiar. When I was 16, Friends Of The Earth informed us that western society was just ten years away from complete breakdown. It was the clincher in any argument. Labour, Tory, whatever you say you’re wrong because Eco-Doom is around the corner unless we immediately adopt FoE policies, scale back production and live on a diet of stinging nettles and bugs. These flawed arguments are designed to create a climate of fear and panic. So strong is their conviction that to disagree with them is to advocate the apocalypse – therefore naysayers are heartless bastards hell bent on ruining the planet…Humanity needs to treat the natural world with respect of course, and we need to remember that we’re part of it. Everyone from Karl Marx to Roger Scruton agreed on that. Marx said, ‘Man lives on nature…nature is his body, with which he must remain in continuous interchange if he is not to die. That man’s physical and spiritual life is linked to nature means simply that nature is linked to itself, for man is a part of nature.’ Marx’s writings have been perverted to justify totalitarianism, war, and even genocide, but he was right about our alienation from nature. Human ingenuity will solve the eco-crisis long before the wheels come off, however. Look at some of the scientific advances in energy production over the last few years – like photovoltaic glass which uses salt to absorb energy from non-visible solar wavelengths, and betavoltaic tech which turns low-level radiation into electricity. Scientists are using bacteria to produce microbial fuel cells; others are harvesting energy from radio waves. Tidal power is in its infancy. The Virgin hyperloop could make air travel redundant… Don’t panic, Mr Carney. The future is still bright.
PS. 20years ago we were reliably informed that the UK would never see snow again. That white stuff falling over the next few days must just be investment bankers sneezing.
Feb 4. R.I.P. Colonel Sir Tom Moore. Stoic, modest and positive, his pluck and positivity were an inspiration. Sir Tom represented the best of British. Single-handedly he cheered us up and gave us hope. No surprise then that his memory has just been besmirched by a deluded right-on Anglican curate who has branded our love for this grand old man as “the cult of white British nationalism”. He’s entitled to his views, of course, even if they crazier than “smart” motorways. What bothers me is how many civil servants, councillors, lecturers, teachers, TV executives, corporate yes-men and social workers share them.
Feb 3. The Labour Party are going to embrace patriotism, according to today’s news. A squadron of prime porkers are already on the runway at Heathrow awaiting take-off. Once, Labour was thoroughly patriotic. They rightly saw patriotism as a healthy and progressive force. The rot set in badly in the late 70s and 80s when local party wards were either colonised by the middle classes or won over to a peculiar brand of crypto-Marxism, as endorsed by the likes of Corbyn and Livingstone who were very keen on flags as long as they were Palestinian or Cuban or the Irish tricolour. Correct me if I’m wrong but this was the era when “left-wing” teachers and academics turned their ideological guns on Britain banning the teaching of our history in schools. They saw the NF and the BNP marching with the Union flag and, instead of fighting for it and its values, decided illogically that patriotism must therefore equal fascism. If extremists carry the flag, then anyone identifying with it must be an extremist… Guess again, dimwits. Flag, family and freedom were what millions fought and died for. Remember Emily Thornberry mocking the English flag? That’s Labour’s true stance on patriotism. Nothing has changed. They just don’t get it. I suspect that’s why so many older Labour voters are looking with interest at William Clouston’s Social Democrats, potentially a party of the people that actually embrace majority values.
I remember going to a Labour Party Young Socialists meeting in Greenwich when I was 15 or 16 and being assured by a speaker in his early twenties that Eastern bloc was fair and just because young men there were allowed to grow their hair. That was genuinely the extent of his argument. No wonder I joined the IS instead.
Feb 1. Vive Le Rock asked me to give them my Top 20 Oi and streetpunk songs for their latest issue. It had to start with the Cockney Rejects, and where better than with Police Car – that raw cry of teenage rage? “Freedom? There ain’t no ****in’ freedom!” It was our manifesto! Cock Sparrer wrote (and still write) so many classic songs they had to be high in the list too, so England Belongs To Me is next. Someone’s Gonna Die Tonight is classic Blitz, pure street-punk aggression, as raw as razor wire; and then come The Business with Suburban Rebels – the drippy middle class left put in their place by Garry Johnson’s proletarian poetry. It would have been dishonest to leave out the 4-Skins, so at 5, it’s Chaos – a horror novella put to music, and a terrifying vision of urban chaos and skinhead take-over.
South Shields socialists the Angelic Upstarts were incredible to begin with, and I’m An Upstart is arguably their hardest-hitting anthem – simple but effective (although you could make a case for Liddle and Last Night Another Soldier). At 7, the Last Resort with King Of The Jungle – not their hardest number but one that captures the mindset of the elite terrace herbert, calm and dignified. VLR asked me not to have more than one song from each band, but how could I ignore Bad Man by the Cockney Rejects or Sparrer’s Take ’Em All, there at 8 and 9? (If I’d had my way Fighting In The Street and Because You’re Young would have been in the Top 20 too.) At 10, it’s The Blood with the inspirational rage of Stark Raving Normal, packed with sharp lines like: “You were born but when are you gonna live?” and “Don’t worship the pampered, they don’t even know that you exist”.
Infa Riot are in 11 with Each Dawn I Die – their strongest original ditty; it was either this or their cover of Girlschool’s Emergency. The USA’s Dropkick Murphys started as an Oi band; Bar Room Hero is my favourite of their early songs, but Skinhead On The MBTA is catchier. Lars had to be here too – the bloke has lived and breathed Oi and punk since his early teens so Perry Boys by the Old Firm Casuals was a shoe-in. At 14, we have Argy Bargy’s Looking For Glory. Jon and Daryl write superb songs and need to do more! Behind them, come Lion’s Law with the excellent For My Clan. They’re one of the best new generation bands around and it was a pleasure playing with them for Human Punk at the 100 Club.
Now I had five spaces left. Evil Conduct’s Working Class Heroes is what Oi is all about; and Roddy Moreno had to be here, Joe Hawkins is my favourite Oppressed song. If we’re talking street-punk, we can’t ignore hardcore bands like Agnostic Front who saw bands like The Business as kindred spirits, so Gotta Go has to go in the chart. Now we’re at 19, and there have been no pathetique punk bands. I could have gone for the Toydolls but Splodge were there from the start, serving the pilchards and bums community, and We’re Pathetique caught the Goonish mood. Finally, Oi was about street poetry and well as street punk and Dead End Yobs was Garry Johnson’s finest so he closes the list. Have I left out bands I rate and tracks I love? Yes I have. But there’s a strong case for every one of these twenty songs and I reckon that together they cover the full spectrum of this thing of ours.
PS. It would’ve been big-headed of me to include one of my own Gonads songs, and much harder to decide which one to choose. Gob is as hard as we get, but it looks like Oi Mate would have been a popular choice.