Category Archives: Music

Message from James, my singing Girlfriend and next talk

First of all apologies for the marked lack of posts in recent weeks. As much as it is nice to have a busy blog, books to work on and lots of talks, some things in life come first.

Having said that, my next talk is tomorrow evening in Portchester, for the Portchester Civic Society at the Church Hall in Castle Street. ‘Kick off’ will be at 7.30pm, and I will have  copies of my book ‘Portsmouth’s World War Two Heroes’ available for purchase on the night.

Finally, my girlfriend Sarah would be really chuffed if you could have a watch/listen of her singing. She’s always had great talent and has recently started entering singing competitions. As you might guess, I’m very proud :)

Sarah Cornish – Wild Horses (Susan Boyle version, originally by the Rolling Stones)

 

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Band of HM Royal Marines – Abide with Me

Graduating musicians from the Royal Marines School of Music in Portsmouth play Abide with Me during the Graduation Beat Retreat in Portsmouth Guildhall Square yesterday. Abide with Me has always been a favourite hymn of mine, even though I am a bit of a heathen in religious terms!

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Bringing Metal to the Children by Zakk Wylde

Make no bones about it, this is a VERY different book to those that I normally review here! But the funny thing is, the content and all that it represents has gone a hell of a long way to making this blog, and ‘Portsmouth’s World War Two Heroes’ possible.

Zakk Wylde began playing guitar with Ozzy Osbourne in 1988, at the tender age of 19. He’s recorded 5 albums with ‘the Boss’, several solo albums, and an incredible 7 studio albums with his band Black Label Society. Not to mention live albums and DVD‘s. Suffice to say I’m a big Zakk fan – introduced to his playing by his work with the Ozzman, I quickly became a big fan of BLS. I’ve got some very happy memories of BLS related times. I was lucky enough to meet the man himself on their UK tour back in 2005.

This book, co-authored with Eric Hendrikx, is set out as a guide to world heavy metal domination. And it’s got an eminently suitable author as its a path that Zakk has trodden. Several times. To say that it’s a light-hearted look at heavy metal wound be an understatement- there is certainly something of Spinal Tap about it. Zakk sure has a lot of rock and roll stories, and he loves telling them. It’s almost impossible to know where to begin trying to sum up what’s inside. There’s plenty of swearing, and lots of shit, piss, ‘marital aids’, light-hearted questioning of bandmates sexuality and the like. Some of the touring tales had me in stitches – who the hell sets up a fishtank in the back of their tourbus, and casts baited hooks into it? How do you spend $30,000 dollars on booze in one month? And those are some of the TAMER stories.

One thing that has always really inspired me about Zakk is the way in which he quit drinking. Stories of his boozing are legendary – but anybody who drinks 15 bottles of Becks before lunchtime is going to hit a crossroads at some point. A few years ago Zakk checked into hospital with pains in his legs, and it was found that he had blood clots that had passed through his heart. Prescribed Warfarin, he quit drinking. No rehab, no excuses, no Thai meditation retreats, he just stopped. The funny thing, he did it in almost the same way that I did some years ago (no, readers, I was not an alcoholic!).

And that sums up the man, and his approach to life. One of his mottos is ‘Get it Fucking Done’. I couldn’t agree more. I get fed up with hearing excuses as to why something hasn’t been done, or people saying ‘I was I was…’ or I would love it if…’ – make it happen. If you’re trying and nothing’s happening, well you need to try harder. If you really want something bad enough – a record deal or, indeed, a publishing deal – work your arse off as if you will be sent to the burning depths of hell if it doesn’t happen. I try and write books the same way that Zakk records albums – write it, get it out there, and on to the next one.

So, all in all, not only a very entertaining read, but also with some very succint life lessons.

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Youtube Picks

Heres a few video’s I’ve seen recently, covering Rock in Helmand Province, another new Destroyer, a 1950′s american political advert, and some rock from an under-rated band.

Helmand Rock Concert

A rock concert? In Helmand?! yep, thats right… It’s got to be a sign that progress is being made in Afghanistan if events like this are allowed to take place. It’s called freedom. Somehow I think it’s something that the Taliban would not tolerate.

HMS Duncan launched

The last of the Royal Navy’s Type 45 Destroyers, HMS Duncan, was launched recently in Scotland.

I Like Ike‘ advert

I remember watching this advert while studying modern American history for A-level. I’m really not sure what it was about Ike exactly that US voters ‘liked’, but hey ho… I’m British!

Alter BridgeOpen your eyes

My Girlfriend’s made me rediscover this band. Mark Tremonti‘s a great guitarist, and a LOT better than you can hear here!

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Filed under Afghanistan, Army, Music, Navy, News, politics, Uncategorized, videos

Youtube Picks

A Visit to The Tank Museum

This short film, entitled ‘A Visit to The Tank Museum’, was produced by Film Production Students from Bournemouth, on a budget of just £1,500! This is a great example of a good tie-up for a Museum – the students get a good project and excellent exposure, and the Museum get a cutting edge promo at a great budget!

Royal British Legion TV advert

This year’s Poppy Appeal is almost upon us, and this is a TV advert by the Royal British Legion which you might have seen on screen recently.

Exercise Joint Caterer

Think of Army Catering, and you tend to think of Bully Beef. Whilst I’m sure many serving and former Squaddies will disagree, military catering does seem to have moved on a lot from the western front. Events like this seem a great way of inspiring and encouraging cooks to be inventive with limited rations. An army really does march on its stomach, and eating the same food every day for 6 months cannot be good for morale…

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Tuesday’s Gone

I’ve always liked this song, right from when I first heard Metallica’s cover. Its got a special resonance for me at the moment. Enjoy!

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Filed under Army, Museums, Music, Uncategorized, videos

Youtube picks

Heres a few vidoes on youtube that I’ve been watching recently. Enjoy!

HMS Hermes returns from the Falklands

This is a pretty historic piece of footage. Not only does it show the Flagship of the Falklands Task Force returning to Portsmouth, my mum and dad were on one of the black and buff Navy tugs escorting her in! Presented by Michael Buerk and Brian Hanrahan, we see thousands of people gathered on the waterfront at Portsmouth, and there are interviews with Margaret Thatcher, and the Captain Lin Middleton. There are interviews with the crews families at the quayside.

The Somme: From Defeat to Victory

A pretty good documentary about the Battle of the Somme that I’ve just found. It’s refreshingly non ‘Janet and John’ style, which makes a nice change!

Royal Navy Sea Wolf Missile firing

I’ve been having a look at clips of missile firings on youtube, because it occured to me that I write about them a lot, but have never really seen what they look like in evidence! Heres a clip of a Sea Wolf missile firing from a Type 22 Frigate.

Black Label Society – Parade of the Dead (Live)

From the new album, Order of the Black. Zakk Wylde is back to his best!

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Filed under Army, Dockyard, Music, Navy, videos, western front, World War One

Youtube picks

Royal welcome home for 11 Light Brigade

Members of the British Army’s 11 Light Brigade marched through Westminster recently, in front of HRH the Duchess of Cornwall. The Brigade recently returned from a 6 month tour of Afghanistan, where 64 soldiers were killed in action. The march through Winchester was followed by a service at the Cathedral.

The Altmark Incident

Richard Noyce of the National Museum of the Royal Navy tells us about the Altmark incident, and shows us an artefact from the Museum’s collections.

Muse featuring The Edge – Where the Streets Have No Name

I’m not normally a fan of the whole Glastonbury thing – more performers off the stage than there are on it – but this clip is amazing. Even though U2 couldn’t headline the Friday as planned, The Edge still turned up and joined Muse to play Where The Streets Have No Name, one of U2′s most epic songs.

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Filed under Army, Museums, Music, Navy, Remembrance, Uncategorized, videos

Youtube picks

David Beckham visits troops in Afghanistan

Now, lots of harsh words are spoken about footballers – some of it true (yes you, Ashley Cole!) and some of it not so true. But David Beckham’s recent visit to Afghanistan showed what a true gent he is. He’s always struck me as more grounded than people seem to think, and he certainly comes across like that here.

Solidarity Poland 1981

This is a section of the BBC Documentary series The Cold War that looks at the Solidarity Movement in 1980′s Poland. It also focuses on Pope John Paul II and Lech Walesa. I can remember watching this in College for A-Level History. There has always been something tragic about Polish history that has fascinated me.

Black Label Society – In This River (Live)

I spent many years of my youth listening to this band. Zakk Wylde has to be the greatest heavy metal guitarist out there, and this is his tribute to Dimebag Darrell of Pantera, who was murdered onstage in 2005. Its a very emotional song and means a lot to me too.

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local military history events this summer

Its looking like a bumper summer for all things military history in the Portsmouth area. If I’ve missed any out, feel free to comment!

Overlord Vehicle Show – 28 to 31 May 2010

This event takes place every year at the Horndean showground near Portsmouth, and is organised by the Solent Overlord Executive Military Vehicle Club. For 4 days from 9am until 5.30pm you can take a good look at a whole host of military vehicles, re-enactors, arena events and stalls. This year the shows designated charity is the Gurkha Welfare Trust. For more information click here, and to look at some pictures from last years event, click here.

South Coast Proms – 25 and 26 June 2010

This is a brand new event, featuring the massed bands of the Royal Marines – only the best military band in the world! Its taking place on Whale Island, a naval base normally closed to the public. Pre-show entertainment starts at 6.30pm each night, and the evening will end on a high with the traditional Naval Ceremonial Sunset and a fireworks finale. For more information click here.

Para Spectacular and Veterans Day – 3 and 4 July 2010

This event began life as the Pompey Paras spectacular over twenty years ago. This year, for the second year running, its a two-day event and incorporates the Armed Forces and Veterans Day. It takes place on Southsea Common, and features a range of dislays, arena events, and parachute displays. According to the local media an Apache might even make an appearance! The day ends with a marchpast of veterans and a performance from the Parachute Regiment band. As the Grandson of a Para I always try and make an appearance if I can. For more information click here, and to see pictures of last years event click here.

Navy Days – 30 July to 01 August 2010

This biennial event takes place at Portsmouth Dockyard. Aimed at showcasing the Royal Navy past, present and future, we can expect a wide array of ships, displays, arena events, aerial and water displays, and a whole host of entertainment. Already confirmed to appear are HMS Daring and Dauntless, the two new Type 45 Destroyers; RFA Argus, an aviation training and casualty receiving ship; two Type 23 Frigates; HMS Cattistock, a mine-countermeasures vessel; HMS Tyne, a fishery patrol vessel; and HMS Gleaner, an inshore survey launch. Nearer the event we can also expect some foreign warships to be announced. As well as the modern ships visitors will be able to see all the usual attractions of the historic dockyard. The Royal Marines band will be performing, along with the Royal Signals white helmets motorcycle display team, and the Brickwoods Field Gun competition. In the air, the Royal Navy Black Cats helicopter display team will appear, along with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance, and the Royal Artillery Black Knights Parachute Display team. Looks like a great day out. For more infomation click here.

Shoreham Airshow – 21 to 22 August 2010

The last event of the year is the annual Battle of Britain airshow at Shoreham airport. Headlining the show this year are contributions from the RAF, in the shape of a Harrier GR9, Hawk T1, Tucano T1, King Air, Grob Tutor, the Lancaster, Spitifire and Hurricane of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and the Falcons parachute display team (saturday only). On Sunday the Red Devils Parachute Display team will be performing. A wide array of civilian displays are expected – Hawker Hunter, Folland Gnats, BAC Strikemaster, De Havilland Vampire, Catalina Flying Boat, a large number of Spitfires and Hurricanes, B-17 Flying Fortress, and a number of aerobatic displays. As well as the aerial displays there are always a wide range of static displays, including from the armed forces, and re-enactors. I’ve been the past two years and always had a great time. For more information click here.

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Filed under airshow, Army, d-day, Dockyard, event, maritime history, Music, Navy, out and about, Royal Air Force, Royal Marines, Uncategorized

Youtube picks

Portsmouth vs. Liverpool – FA Cup Semi Final 1992

Before the Taylor report, SkyTV and Bosman. When football was football, and when Pompey were Pompey and there really was an atmosphere. I was there, in the very far bottom corner of the clock end – you can almost make me out when the ball goes out at 5:31! Just look at how good the atmosphere was. What I find incredible is that my Grandad watched Pompey in a Semi-Final at Highbury in 1949, and was back there 43 years later.

Katyn – Trailer (English subtitles)

After the sad events that led to the death of the President of Poland and many others, its impossible to not realise the cruel twist of fate that they were travelling to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre. This Polish drama series deals with what was a tragic event in a country that during the twentieth century new more tragedy than most.

Oral History – the Luftwaffe Bomb Portsmouth

I’ve found this wonderful clip of a ladies memories of living in Portsmouth during the war, where she talks about a close encounter with a German bomber. My Grandad has a very similar memory, of seeing a Heinkel so low that he could see the Pilots face and the colour of his hair.

Biffy Clyro – Bubbles

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Filed under Local History, Music, Uncategorized, videos, World War Two

Heroes – The Band of the Coldstream Guards

My good friend Adrian has put together a review of ‘Heroes’, the latest release by the Band of the Coldstream Guards.

Regular readers will know that I have a soft-spot for military music, or ‘music to make you feel ten feet tall’ as I have heard it called. I’ve been listening to this one at work and in the car recently.

Rather than review it myself, why not have a look at Adrian’s review on his own blog:

Album Review: Band of the Coldstream Guards – Heroes

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Rage Xmas no. 1!

Rage against the Machine have made History and claimed the Christmas no.1 spot in the UK singles charts, after a succesful facebook campaign to prevent another X-factor single reaching number one.

‘Killing in the Name’ sold 500,000 donwloads, easily beating Joe Mcwho’s ‘The Climb’ by 50,000 copies.

Speaking on the Radio 1 chart show, Zack de la Rocha from Rage said: “We are very, very ecstatic about being number one. [it was] an incredible organic grassroots campaign. It says more about the spontaneous action taken by young people throughout the UK to topple this very sterile pop monopoly.”

The Los Angeles rock band’s hit also set another record: it has achieved the biggest download sales total in a first week ever in the UK charts.

The facebook campaign has already raised well over £70,000 for the Homeless charity shelter. Rage against the Machine have pledged to give all their income from sales of the single to Shelter too, and there are calls for Simon Cowell to match whatever is raised. God knows he can afford it more than anyone.

Rage against the Machine have also promised to play a huge victory show in the UK soon to celebrate this historic campaign.

OPINION

So thats the News. But what do I think, personally?

I think its great that something that had become so stale, bland, monopolised, has been given a real shake-up.

I think its incredible that the whole thing was started by a bloke and his wife in their own home, and it caught the imagination of almost a million people who felt the same way. It was completely democratic – the band themselves didn’t even know about it until earlier this week.

There has been a lot of rubbish written about the campaign, and about Rage. They are a band who live what they preach. They live modestly, write and play their own music, and stand up for what they believe in. Even though I might not necessarily agree with all of their points of view – and they probably wouldnt with mine either – I applaud their courage for having points of view at all, and for standing up for them.

Simon Cowell, X-factor and the whole celebrity culture has really affected British society. It encourages people, especially younger people, to just accept what they are given, to like what they are told to like, because their is no other choice. All the time, somebody – Simon Cowell – is making a lot of money out of public humiliation and exploitation. It has strangled real music in Britain. Cowell might say that ‘nobody puts a gun to people’s heads and forces them to buy X-factor’, but it is more subtle than that.

Maybe it is unfortunate that Rage have to be on a record label to get their message heard, but if they weren’t, no-one would hear their music at all. Karl Marx’s books are sold in bookshops. If they weren’t, no-one would read them. Its a terrible system, but there is nothing wrong with working within it to expose it flaws. Sony have made money out of it, of course – but how can you do anything nowadays without somebody making money out of it?

I just hope that the underlying messages in all this arent lost. This is bigger than music, than Rage against the Machine, than Simon Cowell.

This is about almost a million people joining together in a common cause, against an established monopoly, and taking back ownership of something that belongs to everyone, not just the chosen few.

When was the last time something so huge happened in the UK? I’m not exactly sure, but theres a General Election in a few months time… if we won’t have Simon Cowell owning Christmas no.1, why should we let corrupt, out-of-touch MP’s get away with it?

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Rage’s Morello praises chart race

Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello has praised the Facebook campaign to get ‘Killing in the Name of’ to christmas number 1, calling it a ‘wonderful dose of anarchy.

In an interview on radio 6 Morello said “The one thing about the X Factor show, much like our own American Idol, is if you’re a viewer of the show you get to vote for one contestant or the other, but you don’t really get to vote against the show itself until now…. It’s this machinery that puts forward a particular type of music which represents a particular kind of listener. There are a lot of people who don’t feel represented by it and this Christmas in the UK they’re having their say.”

The guitarist said the single’s position as a Christmas number one contender was an “unexpected windfall” and he plans to donate some of the proceeds to a charity which helps children progress their musical careers in the UK.

“My hope is that one of the results of this whole Christmas season is there’ll be a new generation of rockers who will take on the establishment with the music they write.”

In comparison to those thoughtful and refreshing views, Simon Cowell has been predictably self-serving in a recent interview with NME, saying that the ITV1 show had “done everyone a favour” by adding some life to the festive charts. “I think we were getting to a point where [the Christmas chart] was all becoming like The Millennium Prayer, and I just didn’t like that song. I think we all have this belief that the Christmas number one was just amazing, a real special occasion, but actually when you look at them over recent years, it was Bob the Builder one year, Mr Blobby…there’s a tradition of quite horrible songs.”

Yes Simon. Like Robson and Jerome, Zig and Zag, the Teletubbies, the Power Rangers, and many more awful novelty acts that Simon Cowell has trotted out over the years, conveniently around christmas time. In fact, the X-factor singles fit in very well with that theme: short term, novelty acts, foisted on a spoon-fed public, then dumped when they’re no longer profitable.

Even more astoundingly, Cowell also had this to say about music in general:

“I think I’ve done everyone a favour. Shows like Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor have actually got people more interested in music again, and are sending more people into record stores. We haven’t seen this kind of uplift in years.”

Cowell is obviously running scared, now that he has to try and justify himself where previously he went unquestioned. That the Rage against X-factor has made people re-assess what music is has to be a good thing. The problem is, Cowell’s idea of what music is differs from that which Tom Morello would say. Music is about talent and also hard work, writing songs, practicing, and being creative. When do you ever see anyone playing instruments on X-factor?

What is genuinely creative, or hard-working, or talented about X-factor? They always sing bland, flowery covers, once a week for a few months, and anyone remotely different or quirky has no chance. Real hard work is gigging in a pub to a couple of dozen punters.

The values that it encourages in its viewers, particularly young people, encourage them to think that life is one big talent contest where if you strike it lucky you might become a star. It encourages people to think that pop stars are heroes, and it undermines those people out there who work hard and honestly.

And out of all this, Cowell and his cronies are gaining, not unlike the bankers who gained while they caused so much damage and misery to the economic system.

Even if Killing in the Name of does not make number 1, the campaign has already more than served its purpose in stirring up what has become a lifeless part of society, and got people thinking about not only music, but much bigger issues too.

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Rage against X-factor – Rage against the machine for christmas number 1?

Unless you’ve been living in outer space for the past week or so, you’ll probably have heard about the campaign to get Rage against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the name of’ to no.1 in the UK singles charts for Christmas, instead of the latest offering from this years winner of X-Factor. The campign group on facebook now has over 720,000 members.

For too long Simon Cowell has held the Christmas no.1, the UK charts, and indeed, British culture to ransom. The spectre of millions of people, particularly young people, spending their saturday evenings watching the same turgid processed-pop week after week is tragic. Even Sir Paul McCartney is at it, whoring himself on the X-Factor final, when if the Beatles were on X-Factor, Cowell would almost certainly turn them down for being too boring. Yet this is a man who inflicted the music of Robson and Jerome, Zig and Zag, the Teletubbies and the Power Rangers on us. A man who implores us to give money to charity, but could donate a million pounds in one cheque and not miss it one bit.

I believe in choice. And free choice, not being coerced and conned into thinking that you like something, only because it means that someone can make money out of you. Its all short term exploitation of people, and all the time people keep letting themselves be spoonfed, Cowell and co. will keep taking. Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably Numb’ comes to mind. It is a very real symptom of a society in decline. It is killing real music and real talent.

How many truly class acts have come out of any of the reality music programmes? Like her or not, Susan Boyle can sing. And I guess Leona Lewis can too. Not my sort of music either, but Will Young has held down a career. But apart from that? How many young people have had their dreams built up then dashed? And not only that, but we are left with the very sad but real situation where young people think being on X-Factor is a legitimate career path.

The first winner of X-Factor, Steve Brookstein, was dropped by Simon Cowell twelve weeks after having a number 1 single. He was last seen singing on a ferry with Chico. He, someone who knows more than anyone what X-Factor represents, is supporting the campaign to get Rage against the Machine to Number 1.

And for those who are thinking that RATM are signed to Sony, and Simon Cowell works for Sony, its not the same. They are signed to separate sub-labels, Cowell makes no money out of this. OK, so maybe Sony will make money out of it at the same time, but Marx’s Communist Manifesto was sold in bookshops – sometimes you have to do what you can to get your message out there.

But Rage against the Machine are anti-capitalist, I hear you say? would charts matter to them? Well, who knows for sure… but I feel they would certainly approve of a large group of disaffected, frustrated people coming together to give the establishment a giant kick up the arse. ANYTHING that gives someone like Simon Cowell a wake up call, and lets him know that he cannot take the British public for granted, has to be a good thing.

The campaign has also raised well over £10,000 for Shelter, a charity that aims to help homeless people – a cause thats very appropriate near christmas, and one that Rage against the Machine would support.

To find out how you can help ‘Killing in the name of’ get to number 1 for Christmas, check out this link here.

This could be a defining moment in British Culture…

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Dimebag Darrell RIP

Dimebag Darrell, the guitarist with heavy metal band Pantera, was murdered on stage 5 years ago today. Maybe not a historical news item itself, but the story is similar to many others I have covered – good people should not die young.

Heres a video of perhaps Pantera’s best known song, Walk, and Zakk Wylde’s emotional tribute In this River.

Pantera – Walk

Black Label Society – In this River

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