Friday, June 26, 2015

Politics, Music and so On

Happy Friday. It has been Another One of Those Weeks, so this will not be the most interesting of posts... On the other hand, it has been a very interesting, and rather heartening, week in the real world, so....

The big news is that the Moops did not invade Spain - I mean, that it is possible to recognize errors in a text. I mean - that Obamacare is legal as stands, and that a phrase that seems to contradict the clear meaning of the rest of the law, cannot be used to invalidate the law. So says John Roberts, communist. This is a very good thing. Millions of people who have health insurance because of the ACA will continue to have health insurance; the law itself will be embedded into the fabric of the country (isn't that what Obama said somewhere? ah, the hazards of skimming through Twitter for my news...) - thus very difficult to get rid of. It also will probably serve to seal Obama's place among the great presidents - his legacy is going to be hard to parse out, I suppose, but it is going to be a very good on, overall.

And, referring back to last week's news, somewhat surprisingly, the move to get rid of Confederate flags in public places has gained a lot of traction - South Carolina, even, went first (or Nikki Haley went first - the legislature has to approve. This being SC, god knows what they will do.) They were followed by a number of states - by Walmart and NASCAR - and many more. Sometimes, it has to be said, to the point of fucking stupidity - Apple, apparently, decided this meant they should remove Civil War themed games from the App Store. (And from a quote in that article, only games with the Battle Flag are considered offensive - so you can use some other Confederate flag... Good god, that's dumb.) Mostly, though, the responses have been sensible enough - government endorsement of the flag of treason in defense of slavery (any of the flags of that villainous crew, ideally) has to stop. This is hardly the end of the problem, but admitting that it is a problem is certainly a helpful first step.

All right. Two political posts in a row? I am running out of time - I can't be doing this all morning. So I will switch to the usual Friday fare - music - random - etc.

1. Brian Jonestown Massacre - Whoever You Are
2. Richard Thompson - Sally B
3. The Carter Family - Heaven's Radio
4. Pere Ubu - Heartbreak Garage
5. Big Boi - Knowing
6. John Lee Hooker - Black Cat Blues
7. Green River - This Town
8. Picturebooks - Golden Tongues
9. The Melvins Lite - Mr. Ripoff
10. The Saints - New Center of the Universe

And video? Should have put this up last week, but I found it after I posted - Juneteenth Jamboree, by Gladys Bentley.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Juneteenth

Today is the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth - June 19, 1865, the day Union troops arrived in Galveston Texas with news that the war was over and the slaves had been freed. General Gordon Granger read a general order announcing their freedom:
The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages.
And there was, indeed, very great rejoicing. Over the years it became an annual celebration - though one that perhaps grew bittersweet over the years. The United States won the Civil War, but the Confederate states won the Reconstruction - removing many rights from the freed blacks, imposing an apartheid regime in the south, that only started to be undone in the 1950s and 1960s. In recent years, Juneteenth has again become an important celebration in some places - a state holiday in Texas even - and we would not go wrong as a country to make it a national holiday. It is an excellent place to mark the end of the Civil War, and the good that came out of the Civil War - a subject that deserves more celebration.

Right now in particular. The shooting at the AME church in Charleston, SC, is a reminder, if we need one, that the Civil War has not really gone away. A white man, an open racist, goes into a Black church and murders 9 people, spouting off as he did it - “I have to do it. You’re raping our women and taking over the country. You have to go.” He seems to have been an over-determined piece of work - racist, drug addled thug, a time bomb waiting to go off - but when he went off, he went off in a Black church pastored by a state senator - whatever he might have been as an individual, his act was political terrorism. Which is nothing new: the south has practiced political terrorism from the day the Civil War ended (of course before that, they practiced terrorism against Blacks for some centuries, though it was all more or less legal), to restore and maintain white supremacy.

There's no escaping it. And this attack is depressingly continuous with all the violence against African Americans - it is continuous with the police murders that have been in the news (Michael Brown and Eric Garvin and Walter Scott and Freddie Gray). It is continuous with the state it occurred in - which still flies the Confederate flag. You can't get around that fact: South Carolina continues to celebrate its role in killing 650,000 plus Americans in defense of slavery and white supremacy - it is a bit disingenuous to lament some free-lancer adding 9 more to the toll, when you do that. Ta-Nehisi Coates sums it up, as he usually does: "The flag that Roof embraced, which many South Carolinians embrace, does not stand in opposition to this act—it endorses it." At some point, even the parts of the United States unhappy with the results of the Civil War will need to accept its outcome.

In the meantime, we can celebrate its outcome. Forget the bad news for a while, and have a happy Juneteenth.

Friday, June 12, 2015

I'll Give you Anything Everything if You Want Thing

This month on band of the month, it is time for some Pink Floyd. The Floyd is an interesting case. For a time, in high school, right about the time The Wall came out - and again for a while in college, right when I started, they were right there among my absolute favorites. Looking back, it makes enough sense - the first bout was driven by The Wall, which is a very high school kind of record. (Look at Walt, in The Squid and the Whale - the fact that no one seems to recognize Hey You - that everyone takes for granted that he wrote it - well - it sounds like adolescent angst; the whole record does.) The college bout was centered on Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You were Here and Animals (someone had a tape we used to listen to - people tend to forget Animals, sometimes) - arty, sophisticated, but fairly conventional collections of songs (maybe not Animals so much) - music made for clever boys wanting music that would make them feel smarter than they were - it does that.

It faded, of course. You discover more music, and start thinking Pink Floyd is not that challenging, not really cleverer than their peers, etc. There are harder bands - more virtuosic bands - more sophisticated bands - lots of more melodic bands, rhythmic bands, rawer bands - sooner or later, maybe you discover jazz or more complicated prog (Soft Machine or Can or Van der Graf Generator or King Crimson - to name some of the bands I came to prefer). Or maybe you just discover Syd Barrett Floyd and find all the later stuff bland and overblown. Me - I came to prefer more contemporary music (U2 and REM and so on) on one side, and rawer AOR (Zep, The Who, etc.) on the other and let the Floyd fade. And then started listening to punk, and older, more underground bands (Velvets, Stooges, etc,), and poor Pink and the boys were lost.... Until I got Piper at the Gates of Dawn, which brought me part of the way back.

More than that really - I was completely convinced by that record - by Barrett. No hesitations. Post-Barrett, they're okay - good songs and all - but nothing I would seek out. But Piper really is a fantastic piece of work. They cover everything there - rock out more than they ever did afterwards, the songs are better, the experimentation more experimental - Syd is a way rawer and inventive musician than the rest of them, a more interesting and expressive singer, writer of smart, funny, cool lyrics - what's not to love? The experimental stuff, the jams, are jarring, ragged weird stuff that sticks with you (Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk, say - the end of Bike...) It made the rest of their career seem a lot blander - nice stuff, but still kind of AOR filler - hearing Have a Cigar, after 10 years, it sounds like glorified Supertramp... right?

I suspect readers by now have figured out how these essays go: if I loved someone in high school, abandoned them in college or afterwards, but have decided to write about them - I must have rediscovered them somewhere along the line. Well - correct you are! hypothetical reader mine. I did. I am writing about them now because they fit in the context of the groups I've been writing about the last few months. Radiohead, Mercury Rev - and bands like Tool, Can, Soft Machine, Van Der Graf Generator, Acid Mothers Temple, At the Drive In/Mars Volta, Captain Beefheart - got me listening to prog, and things like prog, and made me hear it with different ears. I heard Pink Floyd with different ears. Though that's only part of it - it's also true that I started listening to different Floyd, in the early 2000s. My first bout of loving the Floyd was rooted in The Wall, and the second one in the mid-70s records - my first rediscovery of them came from the Syd Barrett stuff - and the second rediscovery came from listening to the early 70s records: Ummagumma, Saucerful of Secrets, Meddle - the apologetically artsy stuff. Careful With that Ax Eugene, Set Your Controls for the Heart of the Sun, One of these Days, Echoes, Let There Be More Light - big epic stuff I didn't listen to in 1980, 82, or 88. Again, though, showing something - music sounds different in different contexts - what you listen to conditions how you hear things. Listening to Tool and Radiohead and Mercury Rev made me hear different things in Pink Floyd, just as listening to REM and the Feelies and the Velvet Underground shaped how I heard the Syd Barrett stuff in the 80s.

So there we are. They are a strange case - I have gone through long stretches of near disdain for them (the Syd stuff excepted) - but other periods where I have nearly worshipped them. For all the fluctuations in my taste, I have been listening to them for 35 years, sometimes obsessively - and keep coming back to them. And can't deny that they have helped form me - maybe I like other prog bands more - but I learned to like that kind of music mostly from Pink Floyd. A lot of bands I love have a lot of Pink Floyd's DNA in them... And I can't deny either that they really do sound magnificent when they get going. I have come to respect their musicianship a great deal - there are few more tastefully beautiful guitarists than David Gilmour, and Nick Mason has grown on me as a great drummer. Barrett really was the star of the band - maybe not as good as Gilmour, but a genuinely inventive player - imaginative, surprising, challenging - the real deal. But really - the rest of them hold their own. I can't pretend there isn't a lot of filler on some of those records, but at their best they are really really wonderful.

And here, then, are their best, as I see it:

1. Bike
2. Comfortably Numb
3. Set The Controls for the Heart of the Sun
4. Lucifer Sam
5. Time
6. Interstellar Overdrive
7. Another Brick in the Wall Part 2
8. Flaming
9. Wish You Were Here
10. Fearless

And on to video. Missing, in a way, from this discussion, are the singles - so here is one, See Emily Play - a lovely, cool song, with a very odd promotional film, some of the more awkward forced whimsy you are likely to see...



And a long filmed performance of Interstellar Overdrive - showing the importance of film and light and so on to their act at the beginning. (All through their career really.) With some excellent representative guitar work from Syd:



Moving ahead - Dave Gilmour joins - here's Let there be more Light, live on French TV:



Setting their controls for the Heart of the Sun (with some great stuff from Mason):



And since it's harder than I thought to find live performances from the mid to late 70s on YouTube, hop ahead to the 80s: here's the video for Another Brick in the Wall, with sinister schoolchildren, Gerald Scarfe designed balloons and cartoons, and lots of bricks and hammers:



And Comfortably Numb, live in 1980:

Friday, June 05, 2015

Friday Random Music (Real World Edition)

Good morning - another simple Friday post, to mark time... It has been One Of Those Weeks - but I will not go into that. Work, you know. My eye-rolling muscles are getting a workout. And my liver. But anyway: here are some songs to contemplate this Friday morning.

1. Pere Ubu - Real world (live)
2. Public enemy - Invisible Man
3. Sleater-Kinney - I wanna be your Joey Ramone
4. Led Zeppelin - When the Levee Breaks
5. Keiji Haino/Yoshida Tatsuya - Avenue D
6. The Raconteurs - Level
7. Luna - Anesthesia
8. Miles Davis - Helen Butte/Mr. Freedom X
9. Richard & Linda Thompson - Shame of Doing Wrong
10. Sugarcubes - Lucky Night

I suppose this is particularly necessary this morning - out in the real world, in real time:



Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie:



And Luna - I could use some anesthesia....

Friday, May 29, 2015

Music for the End of May

Good morning, again. These years when Memorial Day comes early always throw me for a loop - here it is, the last Friday of May, but not a long weekend! Something seems off.

Anyway - May is almost done; it has been very warm this week - normal weather for this time of year, I guess. That is something to be grateful for - normal weather is not very normal anymore. Someone always seems to be getting what Texas is getting - the worst X in Y years... For those inclined to think about the coming apocalypse - 2015 is shaping up to be the warmest year on record - after 2014 was the warmest year on record last year. Ah, plenty to worry about!

All right - I'm not going to solve global warming here. So - music it is!

1. Bill Frisell - Reflections from the Moon
2. Sun Ra - Rocket Number Nine
3. Kinks - (Wish I could Fly Like) Superman
4. The Melvins - Goin' Blind
5. Neil Young - Pocahontas
6. Serge Gainsbourg - Je T'aime... Moi Non Plus
7. Bruce Springsteen - Incident on 57th Street
8. Gomez - These 3 Sins
9. Chic - Everybody Dance
10. The Beatles - Something

Video: if the weather gets too bad - we could go to Venus, maybe - here's the current version of the Sun Ra Arkestra, last year at Glastonbury:



I want to fly but I can't even swim:



I suppose there is another option:

Monday, May 25, 2015

Decoration Day

Happy Memorial Day!

As I am wont to do, I am inclined to think about the origins of holidays on holidays. This one began in the wake of the Civil War - officialy in the north in 1868; less officially, and at various times and places in the south in 1866 or so. And one of the first instances came in Charleston, South Carolina, where a large number of freed slaves (mainly) gathered to pay tribute to the Union soldiers who had died at the Hampton Park Race Course, which had been used as a prison camp during the war. The dead had been buried there - the freedmen cleaned and landscaped the grounds and gathered for a ceremony on May 1, 1865, to honor the Martyrs of the Race Course. There may or may not have been any direct connection between that and the commemorations to come, but it set the patterns - parades, memorialization of the war dead - and I suppose an attempt to claim the holiday for a political purpose. In this case a good purpose - the end of slavery and preservation of the union. But in coming years, the south would try to claim it as a celebration of the "lost cause".

Over the years, the original significance of the day has been replaced by a more general day of remembrance for the war dead - we do have more wars to remember now. That is a good thing to remember - but it is good, too, to go back to the origins. I admit too that I feel this more strongly on Decoration Day (and Armistice Day) than most holidays - the Civil War is, really, the foundational moment of the United States. We existed for 87 odd years before that, but the Civil War is what defined us (or at least, defined us as something worth being.) We live with its effects more than we live with the effects of any other event in our history, even now. Which links it to Armistice Day - since WWI had this impact on the rest of the world. everything since - bigger or smaller - flows from the Great War, as it flows from the Civil War in this country. And so - keep in mind where this came from, and maybe, the cause behind it.



Here, then, is Orson Welles, explaining and reciting The Battle Hymn of the Republic:


Friday, May 22, 2015

The Music of a Long Weekend

Friday! a long weekend! a long weekend that's already starting for most of the people I work with, but not for me! bit of poor planning there. All right - I want to get some real material up here - make some use here of all the Ivan the Terrible stuff I did for class; answer Dennis Cozzalio's latest quiz (which is a - holy Crap! - a month overdue already!) - write about history (started reading about Andrew Johnson, America's worst ever president - who was, at the same time, a very fascinating character) - etc. Some of that will come! it isn't just talk! But today it is talk...

So music:

1. Karen Dalton - How did the Feeling Feel to You
2. Smokey Robinson & the Miracles - I You Can Wait
3. Fleetwood Mac - The Sun is Shining
4. Nick Cave & Bad Seeds - Deanna
5. Arcade Fire - Flashbulb Eyes
6. Devandra Banhart - The Spirit is Near
7. The Kills - Damned if She Do
8. AC/DC - Shake a Leg
9. Beatles - Her Majesty
10. The Low Anthem - To Ohio

And some Video - let's start with Karen Dalton - different song (It Hurts me Too), but something. The Karen Dalton track is from one of those Mojo compilations - something I didn't know existed until now. But now that I do - this is some good stuff.



I wonder if Devandra Banhart is a fan? (This is also a different song than iTunes tossed up, but you take what you can get.)



And finally - I think Peter Green tends to get the attention (with good reason, as Peter Green is one of the Great guitar players of rock), but Jeremy Spencer is no slouch, and nice to see him still playing (2009 or so):

Friday, May 15, 2015

I'm A Reasonable Man Get Off My Case

A week late, but here's May's Band of the Month - sticking with the late 90s early 00s theme for the moment. Sooner or later in this series, we're going to get to bands that don't have much biographical significance to me - and that's probably the case this month. I like Radiohead, obviously - that's why they're here - but I just like them. It took a while - I remember Creep coming out, remember thinking they sounded like 85 other generic 90s bands, though they could turn a phrase... Then forgot they existed for a few years, then discovered, to my shock, that they were extremely popular and widely loved by people who loved music. It was an amazing fact, I thought - though I was almost completely innocent of ever having heard them (other than Creep.) People I knew would have long earnest and intense discussions (ie, arguments) about them, whether Kid A was brilliant or some kind of terrible betrayal - and it felt like they were talking a foreign language. And then, for reasons I can't begin to remember, I got one of their records - Amnesiac it was - and discovered that they were quite good. So I got others, liked them, and accepted the fact that I was a Radiohead fan.

It still feels a bit alien to me somehow - listening to them makes me feel like a college kid in the 90s. I wasn't a college kid in the 90s, but I feel very confident that I would have loved them if I had been. This is particularly true of OK Computer and the Bends - I like their sources (I hear U2 and the Smiths in there, very strongly, and the lingering ghost of David Bowie and Pink Floyd), but it still feels very far from me. But - if I were 10 or 15 years younger - I know this would have filled me with exaltation and wonder. But I'm not - and maybe more odd than anything, the records of theirs I really love are the electronic ones - Kid A and Amnesiac - maybe because they have moved far enough from their sources to just sound like themselves - maybe because Thom Yorke has stopped trying to emote, and sounds less whiny - maybe just because I love the rhythm tracks on those records. I don't know, and I guess it doesn't matter. They are great, hypnotic records, full of great compelling songs.

Not that there aren't great songs on their other records - before and after really - and everything they do sounds fantastic. The early records have more guitar, and sometimes quite magnificent guitar (what Jonny Greenwood can make come out of a guitar is sometimes a thing of wonder) - all of them are exquisitely constructed tracks. And though Yorke's lyrics don't always convince me, when he's on - "when I am king you will first against the wall, with your opinion which is of no consequence at all" - "laugh until my head comes off, swallow til I burst" - "I wish I was special, you're so fucking special" - he nails it, can't deny it. So it goes, and I keep getting the new records and listening to the old ones, and though I can't help wondering what I would have thought if I had been 17 when OK Computer came out.

And here are 10 songs:

1. Idioteque
2. Subterranean Homesick Alien
3. Packt Like Sardines in a Crushed Tin Box
4. Paranoid Android
5. National Anthem
6. Creep
7. A Punch up at a wedding
8. Bones
9. I Might be Wrong
10. Optimistic

And here are some videos - we'll start with Creep, live in 94 - a song that holds up pretty well, over the years.



Idioteque, 2012:



Subterrainean Homesick Alien:



And Electioneering, to let Jonny show off a bit:



Paranoid Android (which I imagine is obligatory) - from Austin City Limits:



Finally - here's a cover of Packt like sardines (etc.) by a band I might be getting to eventually (Punch Brothers) - which does illustrate jjst how good these songs are:


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Film Preservation Blogathon

Just want to drop a quick link in here for the Film Preservation Blogathon running this year at Ferdy on Films, This Island Rod and Wonders in the Dark. I am coming out of my Ivan the Terrible induced isolation, so don't have a lot to say just now - but you can find plenty to read, and can donate to a good cause - the National Film Preservation Foundation. Enjoy!

The theme of this year's blogathon is Science Fiction film - Ivan the Terrible is NOT a science fiction film, though shots like this might give you that impression...

Friday, May 08, 2015

Friday Random Ten

Tjis week should be Band of the Month week, but I am behind on things, and so will have to wait a week. It's coming, but not until Ivan is done.



Anyway - songs, before heading out into another excellent spring Day, VE day, 70 years along... Random 10:

1. Jack White - Entitlement
2. Neutral Milk Hotel - Oh Comely
3. Frank Zappa - Let's Make the Water Turn Black
4. Chicago - Beginnings (live)
5. Stooges - Slide (Slidin' the Blues)
6. Flying Burrito Brothers - Wheels
7. Six Organs of Admittance - Anesthesia
8. Wilco - Art of Almost
9. John McLaughlin - don't Let the Dragon Et Your Mother
10. Deerhoof - I did Crimes for You

Video? little Jack White maybe to start:



And Neutral Milk Hotel:



And end with Wilco, with Nels off the leash:

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Lusitania

Today is another aniversary from 100 years ago - the Sinking of the Lusitania. The Lusitania was a British passenger liner running between New York and Liverpool, still making runs in 1915, despite the increased danger from German submarines. The Germans wee. at this point in the war, beginning to carry out unlimited submarine warfare - that is, they were beginning to attack British ships on sight, from under water, with torpedoes - rather than surfacing and attempting to evacuate the ships first. They made no secret of this - before the Lusitania left New York, they circulated a warning, pointing out that England was a war zone, and they had the right to attack ships near England, and would - that passengers traveled at their own risks. But passengers traveled, including a lot of Americans - and when the Germans sank it, 218 Americans died, of the 1198 total casualties. It caused a sensation - the British condemned the attack roundly; the Americans too, and edged toward war - and certainly turned against the Germans. The Germans, for their part, while defending their actions, abandoned unlimited submarine warfare for two years - they only resumed in in 1917, when the war was starting to go against them. It didn't help - in 1917, the Americans were having none of it, and came into the war not long after. The sinking of the Lusitania, then, did finally lose the war for Germany (the US's involvement went far toward breaking the stalemate) - though it took a few years to come to pass.

That is probably all for the best, but you have to feel some sympathy for them. They claimed at the time that the Lusitania was a legitimate target, carrying armaments - and it was. Which makes it not entirely untrue to say that the passengers were being used as human shields - the morality gets muddy there. The morality of naval warfare - blockades and submarine warfare - is pretty murky anyway. The British blockades the Germans for the whole war - and went a long way toward starving them out. Causing serious ongoing suffering in the civilian population. But the British did this with surface ships - they had a huge navy that could cut off trade with Germany without using submarines. The Germans lacked the surface fleet, but they had submarines, which were very effective against shipping - though the nature of submarine warfare makes it impossible to wage without killing people. Surface ships can turn back freighters - a large surface navy can stop shipping without always sinking it, can drive off any military escorts and so on - submarines can't do that. They can only sink ships. They can't surface to engage with ships - a few destroyers can rout a submarine. So waging a blockade with subs is a murderous affair - immediately murderous: killing people instantly and terrifyingly, rather than starving them slowly, the British way.

But it points to something else - that 20th century warfare was becoming total war - wars are always won and lost through logistics, but this is all the more obvious in the 20th century, with heavy industrialization, with larger populations, concentrated in cities that have to bring their food from somewhere else. And with the industrialization of warfare itself, creating an insatiable appetite for machines of killing. Commerce becomes all the more important - commerce and industry - and they become legitimate targets for attack, with all the civilian casualties that come with it. This would only grow more important as time passed, as air power became more important - it would justify the use of strategic bombing in WWII. That's a topic for another day - but in the end, it would end up killing millions (maybe) of civilians, without really making any dent in anyone's war making capabilities. Not in absolute terms, and not in comparison with what submarines (and conventional blockades) would accomplish.

Finally - here is Winsor McKay's animated film on the sinking of the Lusitania, a fine piece of wartime propaganda by a great filmmaker:

Friday, May 01, 2015

Walpurgisnacht & May Day

Happy May Day, ladies and gentlemen! It is a happy May day, this year - we have an actualy sort-of socialist to vote for! Bernie Sanders, senator from Vermont, is running for president, as a Democrat. Now - I don't have any illusions that he is going to win - though I don't know how much that matters. If he's there to keep bringing up economic matters, it can't hurt. And it's nice to have someone to vote for in the primaries that I can vote for without reservation. I am no fan of Hillary Clinton - she and Bill have always come off as trimmers, willing to give up anything for an inch of advantage for themselves - it's hard to imagine her holding the line on as much as Obama has been able to keep from the GOP. But in the end, that doesn't matter in the least - in the general election I will vote for a Democrat, the nominated Democrat, even if it's Martin O'Malley. Parties matter infinitely more than the candidate, especially in these days - with an extremely partisan political climate, and one party openly pursuing class and often race warfare. Not that I'm ever tempted to vote for Republicans, but now, it is imperative that people vote for Democrats, until the Republicans are broken, and change their positions.

That's a topic for another day, I suppose. Today - I'm just happy there's a candidate for president whose politics make sense to me. And is a Vermonter! Go Bernie!

Now - for music - my Russian culture class is into the 20th century, and this week talked about Mikhail Bulgakov and Master and Margarita, and thus I am thinking more of Walpurgisnacht than May Day proper. And so, in honor of professor Woland and co. (and the fact that the book managed to make it into the mainstream of international pop culture within a year of its eventual publication) - here is a top 10 songs about the devil:

1. Rolling Stones - Sympathy for the Devil
2. Beck - Devil's Haircut
3. Robert Johnson - Me and the Devil Blues
4. Van Halen - Running with the Devil
5. James Blood Ullmer - Devil's Got to Burn
6. Throwing Muses - Devil's Roof
7. Brian Jonestown Massacre - The Devil May Care (Mom & Dad Don't)
8. Nick Cave - Up Jumped the Devil
9. Grateful Dead - Friend of the Devil
10. Modest Mouse - This Devil's Workday

And video? well - here's footage of the Stones working it out. With a camera rolling around the studio maned by mad Frenchmen, I imagine.



And I suppose any Walpurgisnacht tribute needs the Sabs:



And finally - we need some witches for Witch Night, so here's some live Eagles for you. I'm sure there's a great clamor for live Eagles from my readers...

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Gallipoli

100 years ago today, the landings on Gallipoli Peninsular took place. The campaign was the brainchild of Winston Churchill basically - the idea was for the allies to force their way up the Dardenelles and take Constantinople, giving them access to the Black Sea, and thus Russia. There's a lot of backstory to this battle. Start with the Ottoman Empire deciding to join the Germans and Austrians in the war. The Young Turks hwo rules the Ottoman empire were close to the Germans - the British tended to be more bullying, while the Germans offered help and support - the Turks chose Germany. That shut off the Dardenelles, and most significantly, cut off sea routes to Russia. The Russians in 1914 were desperately short of supplies - England and France had no way to get them material. So Churchill and company thought to force their way up the Dardenelles, take Constantinople, and open the shipping lanes to the Black Sea.

Churchill tried first to do it with naval power alone. Battleships were sent, they bombarded the Turkish defenses, then tried to steam up the straights - only to be devastated by mines, primarily. Several ships sank - the fleet retreated. After this, the army was sent in. The idea was to find and destroy the Ottoman artillery - the guns hadn't done much against the battleships, but they had driven off the minesweepers, leaving the battleships helpless against mines. And so - on April 25, 1915, troops were put ashore at several beaches on the Gallipoli peninsular.

The landings were a disaster. Amphibious landings under fire were still something of a novelty - getting men ashore was not easy. What's worse - the Allies did not really know what they were getting into. The ANZAC forces landed a mile off from where they were supposed to land - across the whole area, the Allies did not understand the lay of the land, the conditions on the beaches and so on. They didn't have any idea of the strength of the men waiting for them. They landed in the face of determined resistance, from men dug in on high ground, from positions that allowed crossing fire - they never had a chance. Casualties ran 60-70% in most of the battlegrounds - by the end of the first day, the British and ANZAC forces had managed to take a strip of land by the beaches, but no more. And they never went anywhere in the next 7 months. Because as bad as the landings went, once the Turks were able to bring in enough men to hold the ground, they had the allies completely at their mercy. They had the high ground - they had positions that let them rake the allied positions - the battle quickly turned into protracted trench warfare. It was probably worse than anything on the western front, too - the peninsular was dry and hot, and what fresh water there was was controlled by the Ottomans - water had to be brought in to the allied forces - every thing had to be brought ashore to the allies forces. And there was never enough - the trenches became hellish and stayed that way.

In the end, the allies left, losing 250,000 odd men. The Turks lost about the same, but they won, expelling the invaders. As far as the war went, it was just another of the many pointless and hopeless battles that accomplished nothing but very long casualty lists. Beyond the war, though, it has a great deal of importance. It was a great moment in Turkish nationalism - the victory had great importance to their morale, and provided a source of national pride. It also elevated Mustafa Kemal (later Attaturk) to prominence. It had a similar effect in Australia and New Zealand. The heroism and suffering of the ANZAC troops made Gallipoli the definitive campaign for those countries. And their use - the sense of being thrown into battle half prepared, and of beings used as distractions and covers for the British (an idea that is not really fair) - led to resentment in Australia and New Zealand against the British, and helped to form the idea of those countries as nations unto themselves. It strengthened their sense of independence - the emergence of their sense of national character. It has made today, April 25, a national holiday in both countries, and made it the most important military commemoration as well.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Freeze (winter clings...)

I wake up this morning and find it cold again - cold! why is it so cold? Because I'm writing papers about Russia? Probably. That must be it. In any case, as we proceed - another simple weekly music post is in order. Expect something more substantial tomorrow for ANZAC day, but for now, let's just have some iTunes fun to mark the successful ends of another working week...

Songs:

1. of Montreal - Heimdalsgate Like a Pormethean Curse
2. Prince & The Revolution - When Doves Cry
3. Pavement - So Stark
4. Danielson - This Day is a Loaf
5. John Lee Hooker - Burning Hell
6. Grateful Dead - New Speedway Boogie
7. Fairport Convention - Doctor of Physick
8. Decembrists - of Angels and Angles
9. Minutemen - Bermuda
10. Built to Spill - ut of Sight

Video? dig if you will a picture...



Here's an acoustic version of the Of Montreal song:



And - we got John Lee Hooker on the list, so we gotta have John Lee Hooker - ain't no heaven, ain't no burning hell.