Monthly Archives: May 2010

For The Record – ‘God Save The Queen’

Amid complete chaos, ‘God Save The Queen’ by the Sex Pistols was released on this day in 1977 and heralded as “punk’s crowning glory”.

The band had several tumultuous months in the build-up to the release. Glen Matlock was fired by the band and replaced by Sid Vicious on bass.  A&M Records signed the band in March only to break the contract a week later when they got drunk and wreaked havoc on the label’s offices. Workers in the pressing plant where the record was being made threatened to strike because of the song’s lyrics. This, however, was only the beginning of their problems.

Eventually, in May, the band signed with Virgin Records and the single was released to widespread public outcry. Several major record stores refused to stock the record. The BBC and most independent radio stations refused to play it. In light of all the censorship, Johnny Rotten was quoted as saying, “We are the only honest band that’s hit this planet in about two thousand million years.”

The single sold well but only reached Number 2 in the UK charts (behind ‘I Don’t Want To Talk About It’ by Rod Stewart). To this day, there is still controversy over why the song never reached Number 1, despite having the sales to do so. However, Rolling Stone rated it as the top song of 1977 and it continually appears on every single ‘Greatest Songs Of All Time’ lists around the world.

One thing is for certain, the song and all of its controversy went a long way towards achieving the band’s goal, which was in Rotten’s words, “To destroy everything”.

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How I Almost Met The Modfather

Paul Weller turns 52 today. I almost met him once…

When I moved to Dublin in September 1997, I only had a couple of hundred dollars to my name.  During my first few months there, I struggled to find a job and maintain a bank balance that was greater than my age.  But, eventually I got a job and (slowly) started saving money.  Which, is important.  But what was more important was that I could eventually start buying CDs again.  Which, brings me to the story about how I almost met the ‘Modfather’.

It was a Saturday morning in Dublin in the autumn of 1998 and I was on my weekly excursion into town to look for some new CDs.  The trip began in the Virgin Megastore on the Quays, when I walked in and headed straight for the ‘Sales’ rack.  At this time, I didn’t have nearly enough money to buy everything that I really wanted to, so I had to be very discerning with my choices and subsequent purchases.  As I was perusing, I came across the Jam’s album ‘The Gift’.  It was their last album and one of the few that I did not yet own.  It was also only five quid.  Following several minutes of careful consideration, I decided not to buy it.  After all there was new(er) music to buy and I had just recently picked up ‘All Mod Cons’.  I told myself that it was a ‘definite’ for next time.

I made my purchases, left Virgin and walked across O’Connell Bridge, towards my next stop.  While I was standing at the corner, waiting to cross O’Connell Street, I looked over my shoulder and who was standing right next to me?  Paul Weller!  I couldn’t believe it.  Paul-fucking-Weller! If I had only known about this chance encounter 15 minutes and five pounds ago, I would have certainly bought ‘The Gift’.  I immediately thought, ‘Bollocks! What should I do?’  He was just standing there and no one was really paying any attention to him.  But then I remembered, this is Paul Weller and he does have a reputation for being really narky.  I pondered.  Should I say something?  Should I ask him for his autograph?  Should I share my story with him?  Would he find it amusing or tell me to fuck off?

I contemplated what to do, until the light changed, and then I decided not to say anything to him.  I figured that he probably would not have been very impressed with my little tale.  Besides, since I didn’t buy the CD, I had nothing for him to sign anyway.  At least that is what I always tell myself, when I think about missing such an opportunity.

Back On The Decks

Today was my triumpht return to the decks after a several month lay-off.  I was invited to play a set at Pundarika (The White Lotus) in Kaka’ako Park.  The sun was out (mostly), the vibe was good and the music was deadly.  Different styles, various genres and diverse techniques all converged for an afternoon of quality sounds.  A big shout-out to Monkey and Vudu Munki for asking me to join the party.  My setlist was:

01. But Officer – Sonny Knight
02. Fifth Circuit Rapture – Harvey Lindo
03. Perumantics #11 – Bob Ascroft
04. One To Grow On – UMCs
05. If You Really Love Me – Stevie Wonder
06. Nem Vem Que Nao Tem – Wilson Simonal
07. Spanish Grease – Willie Bobo
08. Beat Goes On – The All Seeing I
09. Vida De Otario – Antonio Pinto & Ed Cortes
10. Recipe For The Perfect Afro – Feature Cast
11. Respect – Otis Redding
12. Peckings – Ballistic Brothers
13. 54-46 (Was My Number) – Toots & The Maytals
14. Who’s Got The Bacon – Howie B

The Slightly Lesser Dark Side Of Darth Vader

So, Darth Vader is renowned the world over as being the supreme commander of the Death Star, who instills fear and terror into everyone that he meets.  But being so villanious has got to be hard work.  In between running the Death Star, oppressing the entire galaxy and relentlessly hunting down all the members of the Rebel Alliance, he must need some ‘down time’.  Just, exactly, how does the Lord Vader unwind, you may be asking yourself.  Well, I have the answer here, in never-before-seen photos of the Dark Lord, relaxing and getting in touch with his more humane side.

I present you with the slightly lesser Dark Side of Darth Vader:

Here is a picture of Vader, trying to make his way through heavy traffic on the way to a friend’s house, during a stop-over on Earth.

Here is Vader, shopping for provisions on the Death Star with some of his Stormtroopers.

Here is a picture of the Dark Lord, trying to change the bulb on his light sabre.

Here is Vader, having a smoke in between his heavy schedule of engagements.

And, finally, here is the Lord Vader, unwinding with a good book (and keeping tabs on a potential threat) after a long, hard day on the Death Star.

The Death Star Canteen

May The Force Be With You

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the release of ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. The film was the fifth episode and the second installment in the Star Wars saga. Upon its intial release, the film received very mixed reviews from critics but, over the years, it has become many people’s favourite Star Wars film. It was also a pivotal film for creator, George Lucas.

‘Star Wars’ was released three years previously and became an unexpected success as well as a cultural phenomenon. Lucas wanted to use this success as a chance to become independent from the Hollywood film industry. He financed ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ by himself, bucking  Hollywood trends, and took full control of the Star Wars enterprise.

He brought in one of his former USC professors, Irvin Keshner, to direct and hired two leading screenplay writers to pen the story. This allowed Lucas to focus more on his company, Industrial Light And Magic (ILM), and the film’s special effects. The result was a technical achievement and an overwhelming triumph. The film cemented Lucas’ reputation and confirmed the Star Wars franchise as one of the most important cinematic and cultural achievements of the 20th century.

And so, thirty years later, the film lives on in its many released, restored, remastered, re-released and limited editions. However, for me, the original is still the best. The movie reminds me of my youth and of the wide-eyed wonderment that I gazed at the screen with, as the characters and scenes unfolded before me. It created an entirely different existence that I, and every other ten-year old I knew, could get lost in and be fascinated by. It is, simply, one of the best films of all time.

May the force be with you.

The Old Man And The Sea

I just finished reading ‘The Old Man And The Sea’ and I can’t help but wonder how appropriate the themes in the story are to my life right now with Wifey in Honolulu.

The old man, Santiago, is a fisherman, who is going through a serious rough patch.  He endures 84 days without a single bite, before he decides to venture out past the shallow waters in his boat on the 85th morning.

His pride and endurance are the two characteristics that Hemingway explores in great detail.  Man’s pride to succeed will often drive him to push himself and make decisions that may, at first, seem crazy.  ‘Living the dream’ is what everyone wishes to do but how many people have the actual courage to take their boat out past shallow waters?  Man’s endurance is also what is tested every single day in life.  How much struggling can a person overcome?  How many defeats can someone withstand?  How much disappointment can a person handle?  Struggles, defeats and disappointment are the challenges in life and the ways in which the world seems intent on, ultimately, destroying every single person who lives.

Santiago endures three days of pain and struggling with the fish before he finally defeats the worthy opponent.  However, within hours of his triumph, he begins to lose his reward as the predators in the sea emerge to destroy his trophy.  The old man does not concede though. He battles the sharks and gradually accepts the loss as a part of his journey.  Victories are fleeting and destruction is always unavoidable.  There are lessons to be learned along the way though and these can be taught to future generations.  The passing of wisdom from man to boy enables man to persist and bravely face defeat, knowing that winning or losing is not important.  Striving to do your best, enduring obstacles and learning from your mistakes are what matter in this life.

It was nearly 80 days before I was able to secure employment in Hawaii and, at times, finding a job seemed to be an impossible task.  Social, economic and cultural struggles continue to face Wifey and me each and every day.  But we are surviving.  And we are learning.  And every morning is a chance to wake up and become better than we were the day before.

Did we sail our boat out too far, by coming to Hawaii?  Are we chasing too big a fish?  Can we face all the predators and obstacles that lie before us?  Our pride and determination for a better life brought us here.  But only our endurance will give us the ability, over time, to find answers to all of these questions.

For now, we will just keep sailing.