opinions 2002 - 2003
...and I thought that, that was the final word...
The Gulf conflict is over and we are all living in a much safer World....well....to quote the late John Wayne 'the hell we are'.
The overall standard of television thesedays is pretty awful, in my humble opinion. Down to the satellites I guess. The main channels don't have to make the effort anymore.
In the U.K. we are spoonfed soap opera's, decorating programmes, celebrities frightening the indigenous wildlife in various jungles down under and people relocating to sunnier Mediterranean countries to live. All very nice, but hardly brain challenging.
Last Sunday, the 18th of May 2003, if you got your U.K. scheduling in the right order, the viewing was excellent. Sure there was the latest drama on the BBC main channel, however, turn over to BBC 2 at 7:15 p.m. and there was a programme entitled 'War Spin'. This was recommended to me by a friend called Dave Godin, who is an essential 'political touchstone' to this scribe. The thing I like about Dave is he cares about the real issues and has strong opinions regarding worldly matters.
The BBC 2 programme concentrated on the West's military informational output during the recent Iraqi debacle. One topic was highlighted and concerned the rescue of the U.S. servicewoman, POW Private Jessica Lynch (above). One U.S. reporter, in one news report, even referred to her as 'Private Ryan', no less! Make of that what you will.
Hollywood has already been in touch with the relevant powers that be, who have given the green light to the upcoming Hollywood blockbuster depicting how the troops 'kicked ass' in liberating her from her evil Iraqi captors.
The BBC (hardly a hotbed of extreemism) went to meet the doctors at the hospital where Jessica was 'liberated' from, and spoke to various relevant parties, at length, regarding the heroic rescue.
What transpired, if I can precis this somewhat, is that Jessica was captured by Iraqi troops, and taken to the hospital. The place she was taken to was as near as a 'state of the art' institution that the Iraqi's could provide within their finances and boundaries.
Here she was left by the Iraqi troops who moved on. Jessica was given the best bed in the hospital, the only bed with any credible medical equipment and a personal nurse to attend her. The nurse said that they became good friends. A few days later, several helicopters appeared in the hospital's grounds with a couple of dozen troops jumping off their transport and shouting 'Go, Go, Go', according to several bystanders and the hospital staff. They then fired blanks and entered the building taking Jessica away on their stretcher to the bewhilderment of the hospital staff.
Jessica now states that she doesn't remember anything. Strange that, isn't it?
Well, hardly a nailbiting 20th Century Fox production is it? These facts were all confirmed by many other members of the military out there, and then hushed up. Do the Iraqi doctors have an agenda? I think not.
I guess we can all look forward to Sharon Stone being rescued by Sylvester Stallone, available on VHS and DVD widescreen. Whitey kicks Iraqi ass in Dolby surround sound. 'What you are about to see is an interpretation of events, peoples names may be subject to change for entertainment purposes', 'popcorn and Coke available in the lobby....'. George Clooney as one of the dying valiant defenders of the West's 'roadmap for peace'.
Following on from that broadcast came a Channel 4 programme highlighting the plight of the Palestinians in the Gaza strip. Very, very depressing. The programme highlighted both sides opinions, however, what you see with your eyes cannot be denied. 4 members of a U.S. T.V. crew waving a white flag with one male member being shot in the back...dead, murdered by the occupant of the Israeli tank. There was an American woman who stood in front of a bulldozer. The Israeli driver saw her and ran over her. Broke her back and she died. She was just asking the guy whether it was reasonable to bulldoze innocent peoples homes? Sure there are good and bad in all walks of life, however, this is no 'roadmap for peace'.
Well, what of that 'roadmap'? Well, turn over to BBC 1 at 10:15 p.m., the same night, and you get a good idea of where the current 'roadmap for peace' is headed.
This programme was called 'The War Party', and concerned the neo-conservatives, an un-elected right wing group who are currently influencing the Bush administration, Stateside. These are the guys who are influencing Rumsfeld, Bush, Powell etc. Richard Perle is part of this delightful little band of merry men (and women) who coin terms such as 'the axis of evil'. These people are scripting the rhetoric that flows from the mouths of the Republicans. The rhetoric that will lead us into, well, what they described as 'World War 3' and 'World War 4'. Comforting thought, isn't it?
These guys may have 'kicked ass' in Iraq. Iraq was easy meat and didn't they know it. In the school playground, should we pat on the back the big kid who beats up the little guy? In my book a big guy who beats up on a little guy is called a bully. If there is to be a global policeman, then let it be the United Nations. If you back an animal into a corner, it comes out fighting.
Bombs in Casablanca, Ankarra and all across the Middle East show that this is not a safer World. Far from it. It is a much more dangerous place. If the U.S. want to do the right thing, they could do worse that sending all the profits from the Jessica Lynch blockbuster (featuring 'shoot em up' Sly and 'kick ass' Stone), to the hospital in Iraq from where she was rescued. Only one bed there with any real facilities. Jessica knows as she utilised that bed, although now she can't remember, or was told not to remember? We would expect those facilities as a matter of course within our own borders. Conspiracy theory? No the case for the prosecution. Still no weapons of mass destruction, still no Saddam Hussein, still no Bin Laden. Doesn't look good does it?
If you disagree with everything I say here, the one thing I would plead with you is to ask questions. Sure, we love our countries and we want to see our families safe. We vote these governments in to power and in some cases we can vote them out (unless they are the U.K.'s House Of Lords of course'). That makes us not a democracy then, doesn't it? A democracy is based upon the ability to vote in and vote out of power those who make decisions that effect us in our daily lives. Now where is my House of Lords ballot paper...it was here a minute ago...
A very good night's viewing and the BBC and Channel Four ought to be praised for having the guts to show these programmes. Now back to the 'There's a celebrity, get me out of here....!' I couldn't give a........
Toby Walker. 20th May 2003
Well was George and Tony's 'roadmap for peace' in the desert worth all the carnage? Palpably not.
The images of children and women, with their brains blown out, did not justify the horror, did it? Right, lets get some clarity of thought here.
At the outset of this debacle, Colin Powell stood in front of the United Nations and played us a couple of fuzzy video's. There was a crackly tape and some grainy satellite images. All seemed so plausible at the time. We were told the reasons for going to war with Iraq.
Point 1. We were out to get Saddam Hussein. The quarrel was not with the Iraqi people.
Point 2. This was nothing to do with Oil. We were going to 'liberate' the crude for the Iraqi people.
Point 3. Iraq hoards weapons of mass destruction, including, on the shopping list, VX Gas, Mustard Gas, Anthrax and Botulin. There would be a 'smoking gun'.
Point 4. The Allies would liberate the Iraqi people.
Well let's look at how the West fared on each count:
Outcome 1. At this point, Saddam is nowhere to be found.
Outcome 2. The oilfields were the first points occupied by the military who now protect them. The airfields are now held by the Allies and they are announcing they are going to stay on indefinitely. To fly in and out just what? Troops, maybe Medicine, maybe Food Aid, maybe Pipelines or perhaps Crude? All things are possible at this juncture.
Outcome 3. To this day, not one item on the shopping list has been discovered (bear in mind, the forces entered from the south, moved north, and now have control of all the major cities throughout the country)
Outcome 4. The Iraqi people were killed in their thousands and are now protesting in their thousands for the troops to leave.
Let's go back to the comparisons that were made between Nazi Germany and Saddam's evil, nasty, cruel, regime.
When Paris was liberated during the Second World War, in rolled the Allied Tanks. The French threw flowers at the soldiers. The women threw their arms around the men. There was a real sense of joy that the Nazi's had retreated and were beaten. The Allies hugged each other. In Iraq they accused each other of being 'cowboys' and 'renegades'. The Nazi's tortured and killed millions. Saddam has done so on a smaller scale. The tanks now roll into Baghdad and a couple of hundred people push over a statue of Saddam. The soldiers wrap the head in the Stars and Stripes, until some bright spark reminds them that they are there to liberate the country and not conquer it. The rest of the population stand by and watch looking bewhildered. 'Thanks very much for liberating us...now will you leave?'
Hitler invaded Europe, Saddam invaded no-one since his illegal sojourn into Kuwait, 13 years ago. He couldn't because there were no weapons of mass destruction at his disposal. Did we feel threatened by Hitler? Yes. Did we feel threatened by Saddam? No. His own people did because he was a total and utter bastard to them, but so are many other dictators right across the length and breadth our planet. Should we invade those as well? No, Iraq was easier meat.
My personal opinion is that this conflict had a 'get two for the price of one' offer in the store for our governments. The logistics of organising the troops, in order to get to the Gulf, and sort out the Taliban were enormous. A price higher than many smaller countries GDP. The Taliban were more easy meat. Small country, impoverished by war and sorted out in a couple of weeks. Now, while they were out there, why not finish off another thorn in the West's side? Go get Saddam and free up some cheap oil imports. All the hardware was there and this could be completed with the minimum of outlay. Any other Muslim country that stood in the way could be sorted out 'three for the price of one' at the same time, thus Colin Powells outburst at Syria.
So off go Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on their escapade. The Allies killed each other and then set about the Iraqi people. Vans of women and children were obliterated. The news networks began the 'big lie' and it appearred if you wanted to find out just what was going on, you had to tune in to Aljazeera.
The intelligence building in Iraq was hit. All of the valuable records of Iraq's dodgy dealings destroyed...all bar one file picked up by the London Daily Telegraph! That building should have been sealed.
I watched Newsnight in London last night. They followed some G.I.'s around Mosul who were utilising the most foul language against the Iraqi locals. The same people that Butch Cassidy said he had no beef with. Itchy trigger finger all over again. One of the local bystanders said, and I quote, 'Whenever I see these troops on our streets, it makes my blood boil'. We wonder why Muslim people dislike the values of the West. Lousy piece of PR, Butch.
Now we have the opportunity to send back in Hans Blitz to find these 'weapons of mass destruction'. Butch Cassidy now hates the man and we all know why. There are no 'weapons of mass destruction'. Blitz is the little reminder of the road that he and Sundance should have gone down. If there were all of these terrbile chemical weapons, and Saddam was a man of such low principles, he would have used them. The only 'weapons of mass destruction' that were used in Iraq, were by our forces.
We portray ourselves as caring, animal loving peoples, whilst children are at deaths door, in Iraqi hospitals, with 60% burns, no arms, no legs, cut to the scene back in Hollywood, where an action movie is about to be filmed featuring an injured service personel woman. Get a grip.
Not one aim of this War has been met. The innocent have suffered, the West has it's oil and Iraq is in chaos. It is now the duty of both of the Allies to prove that these 'weapons of mass destruction' do, actually, exist. If not the leaders of both countries should be brought to account.
Is our small ball of rock and water floating in space a safer place today? I think not. We HAVE to remember we are all brothers and sisters. If we ignore that, there is no future for our species. Maybe there shouldn't be.
If what I have said here, in your eyes is questionable, please click on the link below. Take your time and look around this site. I would suggest you do so on an empty stomach and not show the images to small children. I am ashamed of the political party I have voted for for the last 30 years. A plague on all of them.
23rd April 2003
soul and the state of the world in 2003
Feeling of deja vu? Well, I read the piece penned here a few months back now, and the only thing I seemed to have misjudged was the 'kick off' date for the 'War' in the Gulf. The rest still stands, in my humble opinion.
Before I begin my ramblings, I would state that I fully support our troops, their families and the peoples of all countries involved, just so you don't get this man's political position askew. It is the power people that are the subject of my diatribe. The troops are told what to do, are professional and get on with the job, whether just or unjust. They put their lives at risk for the power brokers. These people ought to brought to account.
All of the rhetoric, regarding how far we had 'progressed' from the last Gulf conflict, seemed to suggest that we could pinpoint, with the finest precision, military targets. There would be no 'friendly fire' incidents. The technology was far too advanced, thesedays.
One week into the 'unjust war' and soldiers were killing each other and not their 'enemy'. More of our loved ones died at the hands of our own people than did via the barrels of Iraqi weapons. Fact. We were told that the Iraqi people weren't the enemy, only Saddam Hussein and his Republican Guard were the bad guys. We were told this all wasn't anything to do with oil and yet the media broadcasts proudly proclaimed, after a couple of days, that 'the southern oilfields were now safe'. What a relief...but for who?
Made me wonder, what is war? It is one countries people fighting another countries people, who both have a beef about one thing or another. The Iraqi people weren't the enemy. Instead we have had horrific incidents of vans filled with women and children being killed. What the hell is going on?
War is full of contradictions. Surgical strikes, military intelligence, friendly fire.
George W. seems to be, almost, enjoying this conflict. He looks, for want of a better word, aroused! Tony Blair looks like he has seen a ghost, all of the time. Look at the picture above. The usual war catchphrases have been trawled out. Shock and awe? Good grief. Shock and awe for whom? The Muslim woman sitting in a small room with her kids in Baghdad? Saddam Hussein is living in a bunker with walls 5 feet thick that can withstand a nuclear blast. The West built the place for him back in 1982. No 'shock and awe' in there. The fear is outside his hideaway with people who have done nothing but get on with their lives and are, apparently, about to be liberated...or is that obliterated!
When we are born, we are all beautiful people. We are beautiful when we are children, beautiful when we fall in love, beautiful when we marry, beautiful when we have children, beautiful as we grow old and beautiful when we look after our loved ones as we prepare to go see the man (or woman) upstairs. If we miss out on any of those stages through terminal illness, incapacity or accident, we are still beautiful.
As a species, we draw imaginary lines on the ground, on continents that nature has formed over millions of years. Those lines you cannot see from space. They don't exist. We think we own spaces within these ficticious lines, however, the truth is the World is all of a piece. So are it's peoples. We may build walls, however, they are temporary. Look at Berlin. The Great Wall Of China will one day fall down. We are all brothers and sisters on this tiny sphere in the Universe.
The man in downtown Baghdad, we all agree is a dictator. He has killed many of his own people. I wouldn't invite him to tea. To this point, there are no 'weapons of mass destruction'. Only dead people. Dead brothers and sisters. Yours and mine. Global village. When I saw the Black U.S. family grieving the loss of their soldier son, it was heartbreaking. It is the same for an Iraqi soldiers family. Years of bringing up your children, keeping them healthy, fed, dressed, kept warm and educated. Then they are dead. Our species frightens me sometimes.
Why do I say this war is unjust? You will expect me to point at the failure to achieve a second resolution at the United Nations. Sure that is a factor. The bigger issue is where was the trigger for all of the carnage? In the Falklands it was due to the invasion of Argentine forces. The previous Gulf conflict was down to Saddam invading Kuwait. This time around 'weapons of mass destruction' was pulled out of the hat, enter (stage left) the mad men. The sanctions were working. The inspectors were in there. They couldn't find anything, however, John Wayne and our Tony were up for a fight. What the hell, who cares about the Germans, Chinese and French? Well I do for one. Destablise our relations with these countries and the World is an unsafe place. We need to co-operate with these guys in order to catch the criminals who perpetrated 9/11 for a start. It is alarming when the French and the U.S. trivialise the graves in France from the Second World War. Both sides were magnificent. We mustn't forget the Resistance, who played their part.
War is a strange thing. Look at how we describe the war machinery. Patriot, Cruise, Pershing, Tomahawk, Cluster. All sound like sweets from a chocolate box. If we called them, what they actually functioned as, we would be physically sick.
The terms are distressing that are coming out from the war machine. Blue on blue fire? We already have 'Black on Black' violence. Guess 'blue is the new black'? Then we have Colin Powell taking a pop at the Syrians. He doesn't look as if he is talking to Donald Rumsfelt. John Wayne isn't talking to anyone apart from the good servicemen that will be sent to the Gulf if the going gets a little tougher, some of whom will come back in bodybags. What a terrible waste of life.
Then there is the servicewoman who the U.S. military rescued. They aren't worried about her broken legs or multiple gunshot wounds. Hell, this is the Movie Business. Hollywood perverting the truth for a few million bucks. Step aside reality. Bring in, side stage, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore. No Black actors for this blockbuster. We're talking Texas Ranger on a roll! Denzil on the sidelines. Whitey in Iraq.
The scene moves to Baghdad in a months time. A soldier raises the victory flag and in rides the main character, John Wayne (or is it George W.?), with his posse. Sherriff Itchy trigger finger. An Iraqi child approaches him and asks 'Have you seen my mother? I havent seen her in two weeks.' The Sherriff replies, 'War collateral damage, son, we got what we came for...a billion barrels of crude'.
Off into the sunset strides our hero, riding 'tall in the saddle', fastest draw in Texas, in preparation for his next movie premiere, 'September the 11th - The Terrorist Strikes Back'.
soul and the state of the world in 2002
The picture above is a shocking one. It came from the Observer newspaper, in the U.K., 11 years ago after the last Gulf War. Looks like a young man. Don't know his name, where he lived, but you can guarantee that somewhere, somebody loved him, fed him, maybe he had children, a brother or a sister, whatever, he was on this planet, by right, as all of us are. We all have a right to be here. We all breathe the same air, have families, are born and die and require food and liquid to exist. Anyone out there who disputes that, is being economical with the truth. Religion is a personal thing. All I believe is that, wherever you go, may your God go with you. My God is Black and female.
Soul music is the best music in the World. It represents politics, love and many other human aspects. Whatever or wherever society is on the day, soul music is the correspondent out there. Marvin sang about 'What's Going On', Curtis about coming 'Back To The World' after the Vietnam. Problem with human beings is we don't learn from our burns. September 11th, I have written about before on these pages. Thousands of people dead. Fine people holding hands and jumping off those towers. Hell on Earth. I think about those fine, Christians, Muslims, Americans, English etc. all of the time. They are never far from my thoughts. What bravery and courage. Shames me. Wherever these people are today, you are better people than I will ever be.
lest we forget
September 11th had it's repercussions. One of the best kept secrets, internationally, is that the World has gone into a recession. Every walk of life has been affected. I work as a freelance designer. Work output has halved in the last year. September 11th has given employers 'carte blanche' to treat employees however they wish. People are changing professions. The terrorists have achieved their aims and governments are trying to keep all of this one big secret. George W. is presiding over a failing U.S. economy. Tony Blair is doing the same here. How do they avoid addressing this? By conceiving a devil that they put there themselves a few years back. They want the trillion dollars of oil that Saddam is sitting on as Saudi Arabia isn't 'playing ball'. You can bet that George W. thinks that Saddam Hussein is the English cricket captain and politics is a wristwatch for a parrot! LOL
Soul music has always come to the rescue of rock music when it has run out of ideas. Society is stagnant as I write. Kids no longer want to 'change the World'....they 'want the World'. PlayStation is more important than Bali or the rogue gunman in Washington. In the U.K. the political parties are the same as each other. If you are American, do you know who Ian Duncan Smith is? Well, if Tony Blair loses the next election, you will find out. Nothing to fear as he has the same policies as our Tony. George W. gets less votes than Al Gore and still becomes the President. We don't care as long as there is a MacDonalds at the end of the street. 2002 is a good time for the bad guys.
Sounds like I am having a bad day? Well I am. I guess I am, pre-occupied by the fact that I have a daughter called Grace who is 8 years old. I love her to pieces and I am worried about this proposed war in Iraq. We all know that Saddam is a dictator. We know that because we put him there. Who really owns the weapons of mass destruction? Not the guy in the front of that truck at the start of this piece, you can be sure. He would be here and us not if that was the case.
I am concerned that rap music ought to be political and not all about sex and Black on Black violence. We are all brothers and sisters. Get to grips.
The picture of that Iraqi soldier could easily be one of our sons. Lets show some respect to our brothers and sisters on this planet, wherever they live, their religion and skin colour. Thank heavens that there are some soul singers that are socially conscious. Terry Callier, Tashan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Michael Franti, Donnie etc. Respect to the old school soul singers....Marvin, Curtis, Stevie, you all know the fine artists that I am talking about.
My biggest worry for the next few years is that we become apathetic. Apathy is the biggest problem of our times. Soap operas are a blight along with a large amount of the fodder we are fed by the television companies. They bring imaginary disputes into our living rooms. Who wants a row going on in the corner of our living rooms while our kids are trying to communicate with us? They force us to be pre-occupied with trivia, whereas we ought to be involving ourselves with halting another young man receiving the same treatment that our Iraqi soldier met in the front of that vehicle.
Presently, we are all about to recieve injections, in the U.K., to protect us in the case of chemical attack. Do I feel threatened by Saddam Hussein? No I do not. This is all about nature. If we put a dictator in a position of power, we can't complain if he utilises that position. If I throw a pebble into a pond, should I complain if there are ripples? Negotation not military action. United Nations, Global Village, call it what you will. 'Jaw Jaw is better than War War', as Winston Churchill once said in a moment of sanity. Think of the children.
Give peace a chance. Ghandi was once asked 'What did he think of Western Civilisation?' He said he thought it was 'a very good idea'. Be easy on yourselves. You have a right to be here and heard. If you are an artist, make yourself vocal. We all have a right to be vocal, speak the truth and not socially and politically vegitate. For the World's sake, get up off your political and musical asses!!
Martin Luther King said 'In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.' Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968).
'Every single soul is a poem, written on the back of God's hand'. Michael Franti 2001.
Thanks to Dave Godin for that Martin Luther King quote. You are a fine human being, my friend and a credit to the human race. (Dave was the man credited for inventing the phrase 'Northern Soul', back in the day)
from my daughter, grace, october 2002
a (long) footnote
As I write, Tony Blair has despatched part of his 'war machine' to the Gulf. The decision has been made, and word has it, in the U.K., that January 9th is the date for the forthcoming carnage. The U.S. have new weapons that mean you don't have to look into the eyes of the human beings that the West will murder. How brave is that? No need for any body bags...well not on our side anyway...just yet that is. We cannot blame all of the people of Iraq for the antics of one dictator. Should we flatten Zimbabwe as well? You could write a shopping list.
What seems bizarre to this scribe is that the Iraqi regime have responded to requests of the West. The inspectors are in there. These inspections will take time. Why the military hurry? Ask yourself these questions. Why did the U.K. send warships to the Falklands? Answer. Because they were invaded by Argentina. What precipitated the last Gulf war? Answer. Saddam sent his troops into Kuwait. Why are we going to war with Iraq presently? Answer. Because our governments believe that there are weapons of 'mass destruction', hidden somewhere in Iraq, that we can't conclusively say exist at all. Do you believe in Father Christmas? Maybe we should level Lapland!
Flippant? No deadly serious. If the war machine goes to work and the military finds nothing, are we going to apologise to another 100,000 Iraqi families for their terrible losses? Are we going to apologise to the men and women, within our armed forces, who will suffer from another dose of Gulf War Syndrome? Tony Blair has lost the plot. He is behaving like a fool. That is because he is a fool. I have voted for a Labour government ever since I turned 18 back in '74. Never again. I detested Mrs Thatcher. I am a socialist. Always have been. This government has as much to do with socialism as the National Socialists did in Germany during the 30's and 40's. Labour will lose the next election and the ship will sink. To be honest, it deserves to. What about the people who are suffering here at home? The homeless, the nurses, the pensioners and the young (who are being offered the bleakest of futures). No wonder that the crime figures are up. As for George W. Do I think he is a complete idiot? All I would ask is what piece is missing?
What will be the consequences of this current campaign? Attacks on the citizens of the U.S. and the U.K. all over the globe, that's what. Could be your mother, father, sister or brother. A close friend maybe. Doesn't bear thinking about does it? Our body bags will be utilised away from Iraq and on our own doorsteps. What messages are we sending out to the rest of the World? Do as we say or else? To earn respect, you have to give respect and, that, we just aren't doing. Deep down, literally, this is all about oil and money. How can these dictators and politicians look at themselves in the mirror each morning? Shame on you all. You are weak and feeble.
Peace on Earth? Yes please, no matter what your race, creed or colour.
Toby Walker 19.12.02.
'In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.' Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968).
the soul-less sound of london?...
Robbie Vincent (ex Jazz FM) and Ralph Tee (Thames Radio)
I guess that this talking point is, mainly, an 'outside the U.S.' issue, as there seem to be so many local soul stations, either on the net or on your ghetto blaster over there. So much so that you are spoilt for choice, you lucky people. The story is very different on the rest of the planet.
In the U.K. the choice of real soul shows are few and far between. It seems as soon as you find a really great show, the powers that be either move the slot to, between 4 and 6 in the morning, or the programme simply gets axed. Quite why this is, is a mystery to me. Soul music provides the building blocks for most of the music you hear on the radio today.
On 2nd December 2002, I took a phone call from a deejay in London called Robbie Vincent. Robbie is a deejay I have long admired. He is a, kind of, 'ground breaker' for much of the soul music that has graced the various stations he has been a part of here in London.
During the Seventies his Saturday Radio London soul shows were 'THE Show' that any soul fan would listen to. Every track was scrutinised and taped and replayed back during the week.
Robbie would invite guest deejays, such as Chris Hill, Tom Holland, Froggy, Sean French etc. to play their favourite three tunes that came in that week. A very fine show indeed.
After the demise of Radio London, Robbie moved on to Radio One for a while, then took a stint at Kiss FM (before the quality went 'pear shaped' LOL....Londoners will know what I mean) and finally settled in at Jazz FM during the Nineties.
Those of you who listen to Jazz FM today know that the daytime schedule is one formatted playlist. The station instruct the deejays to re-play the same playlist during each daytime show. Only the deejays change. They all sound exactly the same bar one Greg Edwards and Robbie. In fact, the daytime scheduling comprises of many a tune that Robbie has 'broken' and therein lies a problem.
I wrote to the station regarding Robbie's demise and their response came back:
'Robbie was unwell for several weeks, but he's now fully recovered. However he has decided, after several years of very early mornings, to pursue other projects which mean he can stay in bed for longer! We have parted company on good terms, thanking him for all he's done for the station since taking over the breakfast show, and wishing him well for the future. Best wishes, Jazz FM Programming'.
'Stay in bed for longer'? The man was up at 4 a.m. every morning! 'The bed' must have already seemed a total stranger.
Robbie told me that he was leaving Jazz FM 'to travel and do other things', although he did say that they wanted him to start his breakfast show at 6 a.m. rather than his recent 7 a.m. kick off. He was not unwell, so a long time friend (Chris Hill) told me.
The problem (that I previously mentioned) that the company has now is that there are no 'ground breakers' left at the station. Peter Young resigned a year and a half or so ago, after simply 'having enough', so what transpires now? Well, the schedules will not change at all. The cutting edge has been lost and we are left with the crumbs. I hope that Robbie will re-emerge at some stage in the future, although maintaining enthusiasm must be an impossible task under this 'low vote of confidence'.
Jazz FM, in turn, will depart upon a 'Tony Blackburn' route (after all he survived the 'Who wants to ressurect a waning deejay's career' extravaganza out in the jungle....oh for a venomous snake!! LOL) and we will now be fed regurgitated 80's disco fodder seven days a week. Those drum machines.......aaaargh! LOL. No new material...just wallpaper music. Kenny G will have a ball! If any of you listen to the Dave Koz show on Saturday mornings, you will get a taste of what is to come and it ain't pretty!!
All is not lost in London (although one can't help feeling that all of these things may have their sell by date) in the shape of Ralph Tee's excellent soul show on Thames FM. Ralph pioneers many artists causes who, if not for him and Richard Searling at Expansion, just would not see the light of day. Ralph was also at Jazz FM and mysteriously disappeared one day. Weird isn't it? George Melly rules! LOL.
I can never understand why many industry people seem to adopt a 'knee jerk' reaction to soul music. Whenever I am out and playing the real stuff, I get people coming over to me and asking 'What was that tune? A great song.' They range from 14 year olds to grandparents. Cream always rises as they say.
With all of this, we seem to be satisfied, en mass, by the latest boy band or whatever some of the ignorant companies seem to want to suggest we buy. Let's face it, the people that run the companies are businessmen. They are not into the music, they are into money. Money you can get at any cashpoint. Quality soul music is gold dust. 'What do I do with this artist?'...'stick em in the new R & B section'. A sea of mediocrity. Who will survive? Soul music will out. Believe me. The rest of the music scene would be lost without our genre. They fear the power and influence that this music, the artists and deejays like Robbie have. The bottom line is that these good people could easily do their job.......not vice vera and they do not like that.
I rest my case m'lud.
downloading music from the internet
If you have read this page at the site previously, you will, probably, be getting a feeling of deja vu. I have, actually, touched upon this subject previously, shortly after the demise of Napster. Well, within the last month another major mp3 download site met the same fate to the same piece of legislation.
Audiogalaxy is a site that I have visited and downloaded music from for around a year or so now. The site worked on the principal that, you go to the site, you download a piece of software called a 'Satellite', you go to the main website, find a piece of music you are after, click on the track title and Audiogalaxy sends the tune to your Satellite and commences a download. Not too dis-similar to Napster, however, Napster is more of a direct way of downloading.....or was.
So what is the problem with these sites? Well, on the face of things, you download a tune and, eventually, burn it onto a CD and the artist receives no royalties. Sounds outrageous doesn't it? Well, as I stated with the Napster issue, the way things have been panning out for this scribe is as follows. I get an e-mail from someone who says I really ought to listen to a particular tune. I can't get to hear it as coverage of real soul music is pitiful in the Nation's capital. I go to Audiogalaxy and download the tune. If I like it I call Soul Brother (or another quality retailer) and order the CD. They take my card details and the CD arrives by post, usually, the following morning. The artist receives their royalties. If I don't like the track, it gets archived and the artist doesn't receive any royalties. The point here is they wouldn't anyhow. I wouldn't buy a Status Quo album, would I?
There was a programme on BBC2 last night covering this issue. Really interesting listening to the two standpoints. On the one side, you had Pete Waterman telling people like myself that I was nothing better than a common criminal and the director Alex Cox saying that the scenario was exactly the way it is outlined in the previous paragraph. One music company guy was accusing the downloaders of causing a downturn in record company profits. The issue here is, in my opinion, more to do with what is on offer.
As I sit here typing this piece, I have also been trying my damndest to help the recording artist Tashan get a deal for an album that is head and shoulders above anything that has taken up residence in the National Charts. Why can't he get a deal? Well it is down to these same people who accuse the likes of myself of being criminals. If all they have to offer, for the fruits of their labours, is rotten apples, then of course punters won't buy their product. They are the cause of the downturn in company profits. Look at this site. I don't make a kopek out of the place. I freely advertise the music at the site. I try to help artists who make the best music on the planet, get their dues. Michael Franti's album I have been shouting from the rooftops here. It is now receiving heavy airplay on Jazz FM here. He is receiving more royalties. How did this come about? Well, I received a playlist from George Reid in Scotland. On that playlist was a track from Michael's album. I went to Audiogalaxy and downloaded the tune, loved it and went out and bought the album. Audiogalaxy helped Michael receive more royalties. Everyone benefitted.
As Alex Cox stated on the TV programme, the same fears were voiced when Video first came on the market. Remember the albums you used to pick up with the inner sleeves telling us that 'Home taping is killing music'? The fact of the matter is that it is the companies themselves that are stifling music culture. Boy bands, New R&B, pop songs that are no more the nursery rhymes set to a disco beat. Where is the culture in that? Michael Franti states in the lyrics of the opening track of his brilliant 'Stay Human' album:
'Stealin' DNA from the unborn and then you comin after us for stealin' a James Brown horn'..
Rap music is something of a mystery to me. In fact, I could argue that the words 'rap' and 'music' are a contradiction in terms. I know there are many soul purists out there who would not touch the genre with their proverbial barge poles, however, as someone who likes to consider themselves as a soul fan, I will hold my hands up and say that there are some records, on the shelves here, that would fall neatly into this album/12" section. 'Well why?', I hear the modern soul fan cry. To be honest, I don't like compartmentalising music. There will always be a piece of country, rock or classical music that pleases these ears, so why not a piece of rap?
To take rap at it's simplest, it is a piece of dialogue placed over an appropriate groove to send out a message. It is the latter part of that recipe that I really have problems with thesedays. At the outset, there were groups such as the Sugarhill Gang (please don't get me involved with 'what the first rap record was' issue), who just wanted to let you know they were having a great time and would ask the listener to join in. 'Everybody go Woahh', to which we would all reply 'Woahh'. Now my 8 year daughter could get in to that one! During the 80's, the medium fragmented into the Black Politic (Public Enemy), Hip Hop (Afrikaa Bambaataa) and whatever else came to the musical mind. Journalist Frank Elson (at Blues and Soul magazine) used to describe Hip Hop as 'Hippety Hop', which really made me smile.
During the nineties, the plot thickened and, for some reason, the topics polarised. The conversations became all about how better the speaker is than everyone else, how they hated women and how they wanted to shoot everybody, worst of all their contemporaries. Going back to the initial definition of the genre that I mentioned earlier, they artists seemed to lose the plot. Reminds me a little of the conversations I hear thesedays between 15 year old kids, who all seem to enjoy utilising the many 'expletive deletive's' that furnish our language in abundance. The point is, is that, if every other word is an 'f' word or a 'c' word, the effect it produces is that people stop listening and that is what has happened to the thinking listener with today's rap output. Sure rap may sell in the bucketload thesedays, however, the CD's are sold as part of an overall outfit that compliments the shell suit and heavy jewellry and not for the musical content. There is none. It is all about violence and intimidation.
So after all of that criticism, what am I doing with some of the same on my shelves here? Well, below are three fine uses of the spoken word. One relates to Black Culture (Rick Holmes), one to the gun laws (Gil Scott Heron) and one to the relationship between a man and a woman (Two Kings In A Cipher), which, after all, is what most of the music we know and love, is all about. Gil Scott's track may force a debate, as it could be construed that he is singing, however, I have always considered that many of his songs are more about the use of clever dialogue than the art of singing. That track is as appropriate to society thesedays as it was on it's release date 21 years ago.
Rap doesn't have to be threatening. Rap should be educational on whatever level. Violence turns people off. Rap should be about raising awareness, social conciousness and not encouraging the listener to kill a brother in a drive by. To the 'Gangsta Rappers' of this generation I would say to you that women and men are equal human beings and not figures of abuse on any level. Take a listen to the tunes below and let me know your thoughts. Should be interesting.....
real audio streaming
I have been wondering whether it is a good idea if I should put up this piece at the site. What I am hoping is that it will prompt responses from all of you out there. The music business is a veritable minefield, so if you don't hear from me again..............
This week I have been in touch with a guy who is setting up his own Jazz Funk website.
He had been to Soulwalking and liked the place, however, something had spooked him. He had come across a website that had been put together by a guy who had been told by various music authorities that he is required to pay £250 per quarter (around 400$) if he wanted to have Real Audio Streaming at his site.
At first I thought this was a wind up as there are hundreds of music sites out there that stream audio (some even allowing a full download) and surely all of these don't pay £250 per quarter for the right to do so?
Funnily enough, I met up with my brother, before going to see a concert in London last year and we then went on to meet up with a friend of his. This man works for the Performing Rights Society and I was keen to sound him out about Soulwalking and the Audio Streaming issue. He had been to Soulwalking and really liked the place. I quizzed him about copyright and he told me that, as long as I wasn't making money from the site, the authorities would, probably, be O.K. with that. I told him that the site actually costs me £250 per year to keep up and running and we went on to talk about Northern Soul, like a couple of old anoracks!! Nice guy.
So, I figured that would be that, until the e-mails came in from my worried friend.
O.K. let's look at how the audio works at the site.
The Real Audio Streaming works in two ways at Soulwalking.
Firstly, people come to the site, they check out the audio (providing one of the two streams is free that is), they find a track they like, they can't download it, they want to buy it, they e-mail me, I send them off to one of the several web retailers (if I can track the album down that is), they buy it, the artists get their royalties and I get the satisfaction that someone, somewhere in the world is a happy bunny.
Secondly, an artist, or Record Label have a new CD out they want to promote. They contact me, they send me their new record, if I like it, I review it, add some Real Audio so that people can judge for themselves, if they like it, they go out and buy it, the artist gets increased sales, the artist or label get their royalties and I get a CD for my collection. I e-mail them and thank them. At the end of the year I pay £250 for my webspace at the files server and Real Audio Server and pay for both streams at the site.Does make you wonder what the Real Audio server is for, doesn't it? Still, I digress...
So what do I get from the site? Profits? Definitely not. I get a few CD's and some fantastic e-mail from all over the world, and, if I am lucky, an artist might sign the guestbook at the site. People who come to the site, like the place, tell me, which really is worth a lot more than any piece of paper with a picture of the Queen or George Washington printed on it.
Where does the music come from that I stream at the site? Well, it may sound revolutionary, but this is how it works. I listen to the radio, I hear a tune that I like, I get on a bus or train, I go to the record shop, I put my hand in my pocket, I give the vendor the correct amount of money, he or she gives me the CD or record, I come home, I stick it in my stereo, I get years of pleasure from doing so. That is the way things have always worked for this punter.
The bottom line is, most people, who set up soul music sites, are not out to make profit. Certainly, if many of us thought we were going to rip off an artist in any way, we would be horrified. Let's face it, we are trainspotters, anoracks, describe us in any way you like. We just love the music.
In the last few months, in my small way, I have helped many labels shift product, which has made them a little wealthier, along with the artist at the label.
The guy who had his site shut down, I feel for. I know people have a job to do, but punishing the innocent isn't the way to go about it.
If you stream audio, you are protecting the artists copyright. If you make money from your site, you should pay the artists/labels for their efforts. It is as simple as that.
I make no money from Soulwalking and I have invested in several thousand albums here, monies from which have gone directly into the pockets of the record companies and artists. I have no problem with that. People should be paid for their work.
We all love this genre and shutting down punters websites, because they stream audio, has the counterproductive effect of suppressing the music, the artists (and labels) royalties suffer and we are all left feeling deflated.
If we are going to go for any negative influence within the music industry, let's go for the music pirates, who make thousands at the expense of the artists and labels. As I said before, if you don't hear from me again, tell my wife and daughter I love them..........!!
soul music, fashions and clubs in the south east - 1970 onwards
Robbie Vincent 1977
Recently, I was referred by Jazz FM deejay, Robbie Vincent, to a producer at Channel Four in the U.K., who are putting together three programmes, about the Seventies soul scene, for televised broadcast next year. We spoke, at length, about the soul scene in the late Seventies and early Eighties and about the various soul posse's and fashions. I have decided to put down (on html!) my own recollections from 1970 in an attempt to stir any grey matter in any old soulsters out there, who may have anecdotes or old photo's of the clubs at the time. You never know, our paths may have crossed at some stage in the past. O.K. so here goes...
I left school, and went to work in an Architects office, in 1973. In the last couple of years at school, I had been getting into what Stevie Wonder was doing with the guys from Tonto's Expanding Headband. 'Music Of My Mind' was a work of a genius, as were the following 3 albums by the great man. Around this time Robbie Vincent (an ex journalist at London's Evening Standard newspaper) made the move to Radio London. Initially, Robbie would play a soft rock selection (Little Feat, Steely Dan etc.) in the first couple of hours on his Saturday Show. The final hour was purely dedicated to soul music. By 1975, the show was totally soul orientated and was just about the best thing on the radio at the time. Robbie, also, hosted a talk programme, at the station, during the week.
On another London based radio station, Capital Radio, a deejay called Greg Edwards was hosting a soul show on Saturday evenings from 6-9 p.m. Along with a group of friends we would check Robbie's show for the new tunes and listen to Greg's, whilst getting on our 'glad rags' for the trip up to the Global Village in London. If we weren't going there, we would drive up to Ilford to see Chris Hill deejay at the Lacy Lady. These clubs were frequented by all sorts of soul fans. Fashions were changing. Punk Rock emerged in an attempt to de-stabilise the smug old rockers, who were releasing one album every five years and living off their royalties. Every band was affected, with only David Bowie being tolerated by the new wave bands.
yours truly (left), step brother and brother 1977 - click on the images for a larger version (if you can take it!)
The soul scene was changing as well. Diehard straight ahead jazzers, such as Donald Byrd, were getting into the more soulful side of their recording natures. 'Places And Spaces' was a landmark album. The soul clubs like the Lacy and the Global would play all the latest dancers stopping every now and then to play the 5 new wave singles in existence. These five included 'Anarchy In The U.K.' by the Sex Pistols and 'New Rose' by The Damned. Punks would pogo, soul fans would dance to the likes of Roy Ayers, Miami, The Rhythm Makers, Calendar, Brass Construction, Instant Funk, BT Express, Reuben Wilson, Strutt, Nature Zone, Crown Heights Affair ('Far Out' was massive back in the day), Crystal World, Pleasure, Slave along with many others.
above is a typical deejay's playlistings, from Blues and Soul, taken from the 2nd November 1976 issue. click on the image to see a larger version
Below is a really unusual track, that was big at the Global and other soul venues at the time, by bassist Miroslav Vitous. If you haven't heard the tune before ..........brace yourself! Click on the cover.
album 'magical shepherd' - track 'New York City'
Below are some examples of the (glorious!) fashions of the day, that could be bought direct from the rear pages of Blues And Soul magazine. Click on any image to see a larger version.
Most of the clubbers went to the Kings Road to get their soul fashions at either Sex (later Seditionaries, run by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood) or Boy. When the New Wave really took hold, some of the punters followed these bands and left the soul clubs. What really killed soul music, in my humble opinion, for two years was the abhorration that was 'Saturday Night Fever'. That dreadful film had everybody in the world making poor disco records. Some soul artists jumped on the bandwagon and made disco music alongside the likes of the Beach Boys and Dolly Parton. How soulful is that? Many of the 'soul people' lost touch with each other and the real stuff went underground.
It was in the late Seventies that many of the soul posse's were formed. The most famous, probably, being the Brixton Front Line. I set up a political group of left wing soul boys called the Tony Benn Funk Force, which became popular at clubs in the early Eighties including the Beat Route.
During the late Seventies, bands like Hi Tension, Light Of The Worlds and Heatwave, flew the flag for UK produced soul music. At the start of the Eighties other bands emerged including Level 42, Incognito, Linx and Central Line. The Seventies bands would tour and appear at All Dayers, whilst this UK 'soul new wave' made much more of an assault on the pop charts.
The fashions changed, Caister became a regular haunt for the Soul Patrollers, Chris Hill still wooed the crowds at the Lacy and the Goldmine in Canvey Island and Mrs Thatcher was making our lives a misery!!
The scene has changed a great deal since those days. The mainstream clubs are now more 'drug orientated' (shame) and the weekenders have moved 'Up North'. Caister is still going strong. What saddens me the most is how the music industry suppresses 'real R & B' to the point that, if you are Black and you want to make a living out of the music industry, it is your looks that take prominence over your voice. Destiny's Child testify to that opinion. The real stuff has become 'independent'.
The difference between 1976 (a 'musical watershed' year, in my opinion) and today is that records such as 'Kiss And Say Goodbye' by the Manhattans and 'Misty Blue' by Dorothy Moore (1977) that did chart at the time, simply would not make today's pop charts.
Incidentally, Robbie, after moving from Radio London in 1983, moved to Radio One, left at the end of the decade moving to Kiss FM. Kiss, basically, sold out to the, poorer, more commercial dance music in the mid nineties and Robbie relocated to, where he is now, Jazz FM 102.2 in London. Greg Edwards is now at the station as well.
If you have your own stories, that you would like to send me, perhaps you were in a posse, or it's an old tune that brings back a memory, please email me here and I will pass the information on.
Toby Walker December 2001
september 11th, soul music and the changed world....
Yesterday, to the day, it was 2 months since those horrific scenes in New York and Washington. Co-incidentally, it was also Remembrance Sunday here in the U.K. The 11th represented, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the ending of the previous World War and peace prevailing. Since that dreadful day last September, the 11th will now take on a new significance.
Following that Tuesday, all sorts of stories have materialised regarding that awful crime. Most of them are about heroism, some tragedy and, as everybody has stated, the World has become a very different place.
Whilst I was re-reading the article I wrote on September the 12th, on the respect pages at this site, I guess most of the apprehensions that I expressed at the time, are pretty much the same as I write two months down the line. I spoke about the worries regarding getting the 'right' people, and, what did suprise me, was the restraint shown by George W. and Tony Blair during the following days. Then there came the anthrax attacks, that could have been attributed to Bin Laden's people, however, now they believe that it is the work of a very sad individual.
One of the stories that did surface, over the last two months, and affected the world of Soul Music, were the reports that singer Patti Austin narrowly missed being on the flight that was headed for the White House. Patti was due to fly out on that day but had to cancel due to recording commitments. We all know what happened to that flight. Subsequently, and totally understandably, Patti cancelled a concert she was due to make here in the U.K. as part of a bill that would have seen her and Will Downing perform. When I stated that the events of September the 11th would affect all of us in one way or another, that is exactly the sort of thing I was speaking of.
Yesterday, my daughter asked me if it was O.K. if she could watch the movie 'Home Alone II'. I sat down with her for part of the film, that is set in New York. Macaulay Culkin ends up at the base of the World Trade Center, looking up. He then went to the top and looked out over New York. It sent a shiver down my spine. To think that people jumped from up there, well, if there is a Hell on Earth...
The effects of that day have left many people with a feeling of vulnerability and helplessness. That is quite understandable. My heart goes out to all the relatives who had loved ones, in those towers, that died on that day. We sometimes call our footballers heroes. All those firefighters that died, trying to rescue the victims, they are the real heroes.
If there is to be any good to come out of this, well I guess we are all aware that the Western Countries need to think very carefully about who we put into power in different, volatile parts of the World. I hope that we help the poorer nations more, so there is no 'beef' with the West. Their perspective of the World is very different to ours.
Mahatma Ghandi was once asked 'What do you think of Western Civilisation?' He replied, 'I think it is a very good idea'. He was a great man of peace.
Patti......I am very glad you missed your flight.
Toby Walker 12th November 2001
13.11.2001. Yesterday I put up this page at the site and, by lunchtime here, another plane had gone down in New York. I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the people of New York, especially the New York Fire Fighters. I understand that many of them lived in, or near, the crash site district. You are brave and courageous people.
blues and soul magazine....
Recently, I have been in touch with one of the journalists at Blues And Soul (a magazine that I have been purchasing since the early Seventies).
As I recently bought the latest issue, I was interested in reading his opinions.
I read in the recent issue, that a debate had developed, at Praed Towers, regarding the old topic of 'What Is Soul?'.
On one side of the divide sits Steve Hobbs, who leans more towards the real stuff. The other position is represented by the knowledgeable journalist Bigger. He stood up for the 'new R & B' artists and their like.
I must confess that most of the 'new R & B' does leave this ageing scribe somewhat cold and I guess that therein lies the problem. The two opposing sides took the positions that a) the 'new R & B' has little to do with 'R' or 'B', with the b) view accepting that 'the genre must move on and embrace the new stylings'.
Well, I reckon there is merit in both arguments (although if threatened by robbers, I would definitely lean towards the former. The real deal!).
I have mentioned before, on these pages, some of the 'new R & B' seems to me to have more musical reference material taken from classical music rather than black music, however, what are we to do with the likes of Rahsaan Patterson, Syleena Johnson, Ledisi, Kenny Lattimore etc?
I must confess that I purchase the magazine for only about 4 of it's pages, the rest is a mystery to me. Am I getting too old? Do I need to get out more? Well maybe that is true. I have even taken on a residency at a local club, not only to play the music I love, but also to find out if I am missing something?
Top Of The Pops I gave up on long ago.You used to be able to check The Manhattans, The Miracles or Dorothy Moore, on that show, as they respectively hit the charts. Now everything seems to be half an hour of sampling, screeched by groups who appear to be positioned somewhere between a Jane Fonda workout video, a line up of supermodels and a group of Stepford Wives! Appearance is everything thesedays, but what happened to the music?
I am a great believer in 'good will out' and I believe that, in time, these people will fall by the wayside, and the likes of the artists mentioned previously, will endure. Cream always rises...............look at Sunshine Anderson & India Arie.
The argument 'for' the 'new R & B' is flawed in as much as, if it did have anything to do with Blues and Soul, why change the name of the magazine to 'B & S' in the first place? Who will make an appearance within it's pages in the near future? Atomic Kitten? S Club 7?
The current issue features De Nada, Bilal, B15, Talib Kweli and Ray J. I am proud to say that I don't know any of these artists or whether their music is worthy or worthless. I am hoping my eyes may be opened by the new residency that I am taking on. My concerns are that their music will leave me unmoved. That is the real issue here. Soul music 'should' move your emotions.
Thesedays, when I pick up my Blues & Soul (sorry......B & S), in the belief that I am buying a magazine about Blues and Soul music, I get the same feeling that I do when I put my cross on the ballot paper and vote for Labour, thinking I am voting for a real socialist party!
I guess this debate will run and run.....................
the first 12" single?...
I recently read a debate, between two soul punters, regarding 'when was the release of the first 12" single'. One guy had the event heralding the arrival of 'Disco' in 1978, the other standpoint was several years earlier. The latter chappie had 'What's Going On' by Marvin Gaye on a twelve and said to the other guy, 'There is your proof'. Well, in a kind of way they were both correct, in as much as the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Let me explain.
Let's go back to 1976. I thought that year was a fantastic year for music. I had just turned 20 and it was a blazing, drought ridden, hot summer. I was working in Putney in South West London as a draughtsman. At lunchtimes we would take a radio onto the roof of the building, where I worked, and just got roasted, listening to 'You Don't Have To Go' by the Chi-Lites or 'You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine' by Lou Rawls. Every record that came out seemed destined to be a classic. 'Young Hearts Run Free'.... I rest my case M'Lud. Once the summer had passed, I remember reading in Blues and Soul about how the industry was worried about the lack of vinyl around and whether there would be enough of the stuff to meet the markets demands. During the autumn there were some great funk tracks around. I want to touch on two of these releases. Firstly 'Cathedrals' by DC LaRue and secondly 'Got To Get Your Own' by Reuben Wilson. What do these two releases have in common? Well...their B-Sides. Both were extended versions of the top-side and both really 'quiet' on the stereo. Then there was Stevie Wonder's epic 'Songs In The Key Of Life'. I remember that release as I had to have my wisdom teeth out, at the time, and I remember listening to Robbie Vincent's Radio London show, showcasing the release, whilst recuperating. I looked really ugly after that op! (not much change since those days then!!). Whilst in the hospital, I remember watching Lalo Schifrin's track 'Jaws' on Top Of The Pops!! I looked like half man half hamster!! On the Stevie Wonder LP (the first for the newly re-designed Motown logo) there was a 7" 4 track single that came as part of the double album. Why not a 12"? If you remember, Punk Rock took a place in the clubs for a while, as Chris Hill, at the Lacy Lady in Ilford, (one of my many haunts) would testify. All these pointers suggest that the 12" single was about to follow, and indeed it did...but in 1977...
...1977 was the year that 7" became 12" and it did with the release of 'Float On' by the Floaters. It was the summer of punk rock that meant that the punks got hold of the 12" format and literally, everything was released on this format. The Rastafarian community were in ecstasy as those deep rhythmic reggae basslines got a whole new lease of life. Everything that went before was a 45 and 3 and a half minutes or less. The punter who had Marvin's 12" of 'What's Going On' had a re-release from after '77. Here we are 24 years further on and the format has been embraced by all facet's of Black Music. If you are in doubt, why wasn't there a 12" tucked nicely into Stevie's 'Songs In The Key' album and why put out 'Got To Get Your Own' or 'Cathedrals' on a cramped little 7" single? Many tracks were re-released on 12" in the same way as we do today with CD re-releases. Want me to be more specific? O.K... 12" singles arrived between March and June 1977. Sorry... it is just I am an old train spotter and lived through this stuff!!
Here is an article taken from an apple computer magazine that I had sent:
'The growing range of CD-R drives has offered an inexpensive, reliable and convenient way to store important data. But the music industry claims the technology is costing it money. If you burn CDs, you could soon be footing the bill.
Last year, 3.5 billion fewer units of recorded music sold worldwide than in 1999 and revenue fell by $36.9 billion. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) blames online music and CD-R drives for the drop.
In Germany, companies now pay fees for making CD burners on the grounds that they can be used to copy music illegally. Many European states have similar laws to protect copyright. For most firms, it's a choice between increasing prices or making less profit.
Recently the EC discussed placing levies on photocopier paper and blank videos as they can be used to reproduce copyrighted material illegally. Extending such a principle to CDs would be an easy and lucrative source of income. But the IFPI was unavailable for comment when asked if it was lobbying for levies on CD-R drives and media.'
Levies on photocopy paper? Maybe we ought to be looking at forking out more for bricks just in case we might decide to build a house and do a builder out of a few quid / dollars? The real issue here is the old chestnut. Corporate greed.
As you can tell from these pages, over the years I have spent a great deal on music. Vinyl, CD and, to a lesser extent, tapes. In fact, the industry has made a pretty tidy sum out of this soul fan. The issue with CD burners is a non issue. They will soon become extinct as more and more computer companies are building CDRW drives into their machines. Then the issue will become whether to 'up the price' on the computer itself. Now, when I first bought my CD writer, I bought it to back-up my work, with the burning of music CD's just being part of it's use. The music industry seems to think that writing music CD's is the 'sole' use of these machines. It is not.
The issue here, regarding falling music sales, seems to me to be the decline in the quality of the product. Each year, over the last decade, the larger percentage of music that this punter has been purchasing, has been older material. I have been buying more and more vinyl. Less CD's. The reason for this is covered in the article below, but suffice to say, when you know there is a new Angie Stone album due, I should be eagerly anticipating it's arrival. On receiving a line-up of the producers involved, (namely, Prince, Raphael Saadiq, Warryn Campbell, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Gerald Isaacs, Chucky Thompson, Mike City and Rufus Blaq) you get a feeling that the companies have done a 'number' on her. I hope I am wrong.
My message to these folks is that, if they want people to buy more CD's, make the albums varied and not so similar sounding. Let the artists musical 'juices' flow. It is an awful feeling when you feel like you have heard an album before it sets foot on these shores and most of all, don't price yourselves out of the market. We already pay over the odds in the U.K. and worst of all, you are not giving the up and coming artists a musical break.
Gerry Devaux, who, single handedly, resurrected Angie Stone's career, over the last couple of years, seems to be missing from the production list. I rest my case M'Lud!
the new r & b....
I was prompted to write about the 'new R & B' after being in touch with a journalist that I have admired for a few years now, Frank Elson. Frank used to write a column about 'Real Soul Music' for Blues and Soul magazine during the late eighties. He stopped writing for the magazine at the turn of the decade and has been pretty poorly since that time. On the mend now, Frank tells me and that is just great. I looked forward to his column each fortnight. He seemed to make so much sense in a scene that was turning heavily towards rap music...or as Frank called it 'hippety hop'. Rap seemed to me to be a genre that was moving from 'Hey, lets all have a party' to outright provocaton. To me it was a medium that didn't warrant a page of space in B&S, but there did seem a big market for the stuff. Well, we seem to be going through, a less threatening, but still difficult stage with this new style of 'R & B' that is being hoisted upon us by the record industry. Frank put it pretty well when he said:
'The current 'R'N'B', it does nark me to hear it called as such when it bears no relationship to Joe Tex, Ruby Winters et al.There is some halfway decent Soul around but so much today is a pastiche of itself.'
I thoroughly take on board Franks comments about new soul's 'pastiche'. To these ears, the roots of the new R & B are not roots at all. Many of the tracks, that appear on Top Of The Pops, these days, have roots based upon classical music! The artists seem to be trying, less to achieve an emotion, and more to achieve a sound. So what about the 'new soul singer'? Well, there are very few singers in the Johnnie Taylor mould around these days. Sir Charles Jones is one that comes to mind, but not many others. So is the new product worthwhile generated by the rest of the 'new soul' crowd? Well, I think it is in the ear of the listener. What cuts it for me? Certainly not Missy Elliott (above). I really like the product of Rahsaan Patterson (above), some of Eric Benets music, Maxwell is in there somewhere as well. On a personal level, I love the old soul music from years gone by. You can tell by looking at this site, however, I don't want to be a 'closed shop' about the newer artists either. Take a listen to the tunes below and ask yourself if they do for you what they do for me. If you like them, great. If not, that is fine too. It all boils down to the individual, although I can understand the temptation to look back retrospectively, when I get an earful of 'Missy's music (?)'!
It's make your mind up time!!
soul music...the written word...
Above are three magazines that, in my humble opinion, represent all things positive in spreading the word of real soul music to the masses. I must confess that I have been a bit of a fair weather friend to Blues and Soul. The issue shown here is from late 1976, one of the best periods in soul music. At that time I was buying the magazine on a regular basis. I stopped around 79 (Disco...aaargh!) and started again in 85. It never ceases to amaze me just how knowledgeable the guys at Praed Towers actually are. To survive they have had to be all things to all people, so they cover everything from rap to the real stuff. For the purist you have to move to the next in line. Blues And Souls Website.
Voices from the Shadows. This issue is from 1988. The magazine has been around for several years now and has been lovingly looked after by Rod Dearlove. Having ordered music from them a few years ago, I got to speak with Rod. A real nice guy, who has been ably assisted from time to time by snookers Steve Davis. Here is another really knowledgeable guy that is really into his stuff. Voices really does dig deep and comes up with some real fine hard to find tracks. Rod & Voices are an extremely important cog in the soul media machine. If you haven't heard of them before, I really recommend you check out their site. Voices From The Shadows Website is here.
Soulin' magazine is a totally new magazine to me. I was approached by Editor Antony Horn, who wanted to send me a couple of copies of Soulin' to take a gander at. The magazine had me digging around my record collection and revisiting several tracks that had been gathering dust at home for a few years now! Antony enlists the help of several deejays, in and around the scene for articles and input. Antony is based in Northants. The great think about his magazine is it's fantastic content. They must take weeks putting together the information and the final result is quite excellent. There are so many people, with so much information out there that it is great to see it all coming together here. The one thing that does show through here is that Antony is a real fan. No attitude, just information and that is what this punter is appreciative of. If you want a copy of this great magazine, you can e-mail Antony at firstname.lastname@example.org Highly recommended.