Posts Tagged ‘Pink Floyd’

Conservatives, Racism and Anti-Chav Class Prejudice

September 2, 2017

Mike reported yesterday that Activate, the Tory ‘grassroots’ campaign, that isn’t connected at all to the Tory party, except for what it says about working to get Tories elected and defining itself in its constitution as a Conservative organization, found itself mired in controversy over its members’ conversation on WhatsApp, in which they expressed some very unpleasant comments about ‘chavs’. It was, as one of those involved dimly began to realise, Nazi stuff. They were talking about sterilizing them, gassing them, and turning the Isle of Wight into a giant prison for them. As well as using them for medical experimentation.

Activate splutteringly denied that they were responsible for all this Nazi hate speech, claiming instead that they were hacked. It’s a convenient excuse which doesn’t ring true, as someone else had appeared on their page after the conversation telling them that they should be careful what they say.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/09/01/backtractivate-tory-youth-organisation-dissolves-into-chaos/

It’s now been revealed that all the ‘Nazi chat’ really did come from members of Activate, as their membership director, Fizarn Adris, had a Twitter feed which showed a very unpleasant attitude to the poor and vulnerable. This has now conveniently been taken down.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/09/01/gas-chavs-whatsapp-chat-was-by-activate-members-allegedly/

I am not remotely surprised that members of a Tory support group have such a deep hatred and contempt for the poor and marginalized. And I admit that I’ve made some of the same comments myself about the criminal members of the underclass. A friend of mine used to work in a very rough area in Cheltenham. Don’t be surprised – they do exist. She and her colleagues had been threatened several times at work, and gangs had also tried to break in and rob the place by people, who could fairly be described as ‘chavs’.

The Activate members’ gloating descriptions about what they’d like done to the desperately poor, however, is just pure Tory class prejudice. It comes across as the stupid sneering of upper class public schoolboys and girls, smugly convinced of their own superiority as members of the privileged class, with a bullying attitude to those beneath them. Oh, isn’t it great fun to give the lower orders a good bashing, even if it’s only in the form of tasteless jokes. It comes from the same mindset that produced the Assassin’s Club in the 1980s. That was a group of public schoolboys at Oxford, who used to pay restauranteurs so they could come in and wreck the place.

And I’m not remotely surprised that the jokes being made involved the same treatment that the Nazis inflicted upon Jews and other persecuted groups, including the disabled. There’s a section of the Tory right which has always overlapped and sympathized with the Fascist fringe, despite their denials and the attempts by Thatcher and her successors to quash all mention of it. Some of us can remember the antics of the various Tory youth movements in the 1980s, like the Union of Conservative Students. This bunch of upper class charmless nurks, to use Norman Stanley Fletcher’s descriptive epithet, used to run around singing such inoffensive ditties as ‘We Don’t Want No Blacks or Asians’, to the tune of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall. As well as ‘Hang Nelson Mandela’. I also remember how the leader of one of these Tory youth outfits in Northern Ireland was also something of a racist, although he sort of denied it. Very sort of. In fact, if I recall correctly, he issued a statement which said, ‘We are not Fascists. We are Thatcherite achievers. But if Mrs. Thatcher won’t have us, then we will go to the Far Right’. Which, like Trump’s condemnation of the Nazis who goosestepped in Charlottesville two weeks ago, really isn’t a denial at all. As for the Union of Conservative Students, from what I recall, it was just so riddled with overt, unapologetic racism, that Tory Central Office closed it down and merged it, along with the Young Conservatives, into a new organization, Conservative Future.

Since the 1980s, racism, or at least very open displays of it, have become much less acceptable in British society, quite apart from the legislation in place to protect ethnic minorities from prejudice, intimidation and violence. And the Tories have tried to weed out, or at least be seen to be weeding out, the Nazis in their midst. In the 1970s the Monday Club opened its membership books to the Board of Deputies of British Jews to show that they didn’t have anti-Semites amongst their membership. However, the organization still remained so extremely anti-immigrant that in the early part of this century Cameron and IDS severed the Tory party’s links with them because of their racism.

So the upper class members of Tory support organisations have found that they can’t be as racist as they were back in the 1980s. But they still have the urge to punch downwards, to mock and sneer at the underprivileged. And so instead of joking about abusing and deporting ethnic minorities, they’ve gone on to making Nazi comments about maltreating and exterminating chavs. Which is supposed to be quite acceptable, because they’re white, and so this doesn’t count as racist abuse.

Not that there’s anything much different in their attitude towards the poor here. Keith Joseph, Maggie’s mentor, caused a storm of outrage in the 1970s when he expressed a similar eugenicist, Nazi attitude in a speech in which he attacked unmarried mothers as a threat to ‘our stock’.

The jokes Activate’s members were making about killing, sterilizing and experimenting on members of the underclass are disgusting and offensive. But there’s nothing remotely new in their attitude, or in what this has revealed about part of the Tories’ constituency. It’s always included sneering members of the upper classes, with a chilling contempt for those they see as the inferiors. They only difference now is wider society finds this more offensive than it did, and they’re expressing their vile views on social media, rather than on the rostrums at party conferences.

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Dr. Who Meets Pink Floyd

August 11, 2017

This is another fascinating and weird arrangement of the Dr. Who theme in the style of other pop/rock musicians. It’s from Taniloo’s YouTube channel, and it’s would a version by the veteran Prog Rockers Pink Floyd would have sounded like.

Well, it could have happened! Douglas Adams, who wrote the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, was a big fan of Floyd. I’ve heard that they were the model for the band Disaster Area in ‘Hitchhiker’, whose songs are all about boy being meeting girl being under a silvery moon, which suddenly explodes for no very good reason. And Disaster Area’s stage act, which involves a spaceship diving into the heart of their audience’s home star, seems to me to be very much inspired by Floyd’s song ‘Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun’. Adams was also, as Hitchhiker fans and Whovians well know, also a script editor on Dr. Who.

There’s a nod to Floyd on the double album of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy which came out in 1981 or thereabouts. When Arthur, Ford, Trillian, Zaphod and Marvin land on the abandoned planet of Magrathea, the background music by Paddy Kingsland and the Radiophonics Workshop goes off into echoing Pink Floyd-esque bluesy melismas, while Arthur says, ‘Ford, do you realise this robot can sing like Pink Floyd?’

Guy Debord’s Cat on the Tory Bullying Scandal

May 2, 2017

Buddy Hell over at Guy Debord’s Cat also posted a piece about two weeks ago, asking what has happened to the Tory bullying scandal. The Cat begins

As the Crown Prosecution Services prepares to announce whether it intends to prosecute over 30 Tory “individuals” (sic) for failing to correctly declare elections expenses during the 2015 General Election, it’s worth remembering the other scandal into which the Tory Election Expenses Scandal is interwoven. That scandal is the Tory Bullying Scandal.

It is worrying that for more than a year the entire story has gone quiet. Indeed, a current government minister, a former minister and the party chairman are entangled in its web. A party worker actually committed suicide after a campaign of bullying and intimidation, and a sitting MP was blackmailed for having an affair.

The Cat provides a handy list of the salient facts. These include the following points

In 2014, Mark Clarke was appointed director Conservative RoadTrip2015 by Grant Shapps, the then party chairman. This organization, bussed activists around the country to key marginals. RoadTrip2015 is at the heart of the Tory Election Expenses Scandal.

Clarke threatened to blackmail Robert Halfon, MP over an alleged sexual infidelity.

Elliott Johnson, a young party activist committed suicide after being bullied by Clarke and Andre Walker, whom he regards as a friend. Walker himself was covertly recorded on a train plotting to smear Alison Knight, the deputy leader of Windsor Council with an associate. Walker also claimed to be Johnson’s lover.

There was considerable overlap between Thatcherite group, Conservative Way Forward (CWF), Conservative Future (youth wing), RoadTrip2015 and Young Britons’ Foundation (YBF). It was revealed that Clarke had sexually assaulted several female members of YBF. This forced Donal Blaney, the YBF’s leader to cancel their annual conference. Blaney was also forced to resign from CWF.

The internal Tory Party inquiry found there were 13 alleged victims. The same inquiry, conducted by Clifford Chance, concluded that senior party figures were “unaware” bullying was taking place. Elliott Johnson’s parents condemned the inquiry as a “whitewash”.

The Cat also notes that Clarke and friends also plotted to take over the Corporation of London and that he and Aidan ‘Nazi Boy’ Burley, the former MP for Cannock Chase, also worked together in an organisation dedicated to smashing the unions. He speculates that the links between the various individuals involved suggests that the bullying also included several members of Hammersmith and Fulham Conservative Association.

Apart from Clarke and his cronies, in December 2015 it was revealed that Lucy Allen, the Tory MP for Telford, had left bullying messages to one of her workers on the answerphone. She also added the words ‘unless you die’ to a message from someone criticising her for wanting to bomb Syria. Despite this, Allen has never been investigated.

The Cat concludes

This is a scandal that goes right to the heart of Downing Street. But why has this story gone so cold? Could it have something to do with the Conservative Party’s internal inquiry, dubbed by some as a “whitewash”? The corporate media dropped the story soon after the inquiry. Yet questions about bullying in the Tory Party and the connection between RoadTrip2015 and the Tory Election Expenses Scandal persist. Will we ever get to the truth?

He also adds an update from a report in the Guardian, which states that the Tories have not handed a report on the allegations to the cops, despite repeated calls for them to do so.

Just like they haven’t handed over a report into their electoral fraud.

https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2017/04/21/whatever-happened-to-the-tory-bullying-scandal/

This also has a link to the Guardian’s article on the scandal.

Somehow I’m not surprised that this scandal involved the party’s various youth sections. Some of us can still remember the uproar in the 1980s when the Nazi sympathies of the Union of Conservative Students came out, including their commitment to racial nationalism, their bullying of Tory ‘wets’ during a conference at one British university, their condemnation of Nelson Mandela as a terrorist, and how they used to sing ‘We Don’t Want No Blacks or Asians’ to the tune of Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall’.

The Fantastic Space Art of David A. Hardy

April 22, 2017

This is another couple of videos from the redoubtable Martin Kennedy showcasing the amazing work of yet another space and Science Fiction artist, David A. Hardy. Hardy is one of the longest running space and SF artist working. The entry on him in Stuart Holland’s Sci-Fi Art: A Graphic History, runs:

David Hardy’s introduction to astronomical illustration was a somewhat rushed affair. In 1954, as a mere 18-year-old, he was commissioned to produce eight black and white illustrations for a book by legendary UK astronomer Patrick Moore: Suns, Myths, and Men. He had just five days to create them before British national service-conscription-required him to join the Royal Air Force. The commission was all the more remarkable as Hardy had only painted his first piece of astronomical art four years previously, inspired by the work of Chesley Bonestell.

Since those early days, Hardy (1936-) has garnered numerous awards for artwork that spans the science fiction/hard science divide. Born in Bourneville, Birmingham, in the UK, he honed his talents painting chocolate boxes for Cadbury’s. By 1965 he had become a freelance illustrator, beginning a career that resulted in covers for dozens of books and magazines, both factual, such as New Scientist, Focus, and various astronomical publications, for which he also writes; and SF, including Analog and Fantasy & Science Fiction. 1972 saw the publication of Challenge of the Stars, which Hardy not only illustrated but co-wrote with Patrick Moore (the book was updated in 1978 as New Challenge of the Stars). A bestseller, it joined the select pantheon of book that influenced a new generation of up-and-coming astronomical artists.

By now, Hardy’s work was receiving international recognition, and in 1979 he was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist. Tow years later, another book followed, Galactic Tours, which as the name suggests is a “factitious” guidebook for the interstellar tourist. As a result of the book, travel company Thomas Cook approached Hardy about becoming a consultant on the future of tourism in space-long before Richard Branson had planned Virgin’s conquest of the stars.

Hardy has written an SF novel, Aurora: A Child of Two Worlds; worked on the movie The Neverending Story, and on TV (Cosmos, Horizon, The Sky at Night, Blake’s Seven), and produced record covers for – unsurprisingly – Holst’s The Planets and for bands such as Hawkwind, the Moody Blues, and Pink Floyd.

In 2004, Hardy’s long-standing partnership with Patrick Moore culminated in the award-winning Futures, in which the two explored the changing perceptions of space exploration since they first collaborated in the ’50s, the ’70s (the era of Challenge of the Stars) and into the 21st century. Artistically, Hardy has also embraced the growing digital trend that started in the approach to the new millennium. While still painting in acrylic and oil, he now uses Photoshop as a matter of course.

In March 2003, Hardy was paid perhaps the ultimate accolade an astronomical artist can receive: he had an asteroid [13329] named after him. Discovered ini September, 1998, it was christened Davidhardy=1998 SB32-high praise indeed!
(P. 130).

Several of the paintings in the video come from the Challenge of the Stars and its updated version.

The videos also include his cover illustration for Arthur C. Clarke’s The Snows of Olympus: A Garden on Mars – the History of Man’s Colonisation of Mars, which is another ‘future history’, this time of the terraforming of the Red Planet.

I have to say that I’m really impressed he also worked on Blake’s 7. This was low-budget British SF, but it had some create scripts and a really beautiful spaceship in The Liberator. And I would far rather go into space on something designed by Hardy, and operated by Thomas Cook, than by Branson.

Gaza: Jon Snow Calls Mark Regev What He Is – a Liar

October 9, 2016

Earlier today, Mike put up a piece over on Vox Political reporting that the members of Pink Floyd – David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Roger Waters – had a issued a statement supporting the women’s boat to Gaza, and deploring its interception by the Israeli military. The boat had sailed from Barcelona last month. It was sponsored by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, which condemns the Israeli’s siege of that part of Palestine.

Mike’s article notes that Waters had previously been attacked as an anti-Semite by Rabbi Shmuely Boteach for previous comments he had made about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. But, almost needless to say, Boteach couldn’t offer any reasons to back up his slur against Waters. The great muso responded “If Rabbi Boteach can make a case for the Israel government’s policies, I look forward to hearing it.

“It is difficult to make arguments to defend the Israeli government’s policies, so would-be defenders often use a diversionary tactic, they routinely drag the critic into a public arena and accuse them of being an antisemite.”

Mike’s article briefly discusses the previous Freedom Flotilla to Gaza, which was stopped in International Waters and boarded by the Israeli military. The result was a confrontation which left nine passengers killed and dozens injured, with nine Israeli servicemen also wounded.

See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/10/08/pink-floyds-support-for-womens-boat-to-gaza-puts-pressure-on-israel/

The Israeli blockade of Gaza is a disgusting abuse of human rights. It’s been estimated that in four years time – 2020 – conditions in that part of Palestine will be so atrocious that the region will be uninhabitable. Israel was widely condemned for its shelling of the area several years ago, which it claimed was in response to rocket attacks. This was another lie. The Israelis had deliberately broken the ceasefire by firing their own rockets into the district to kill a Palestinian terrorist leader. Lobster also described the vast difference in the quality of weapons used. The rockets used by the Palestinians were largely home-made. Crude, and deadly, but not sophisticated killing machines like those the Israelis were launching into Gaza, which included phosphor weapons. This is extremely nasty material. It’s like medieval Greek fire in that it burns on contact, and keeps on burning it way through the human body. So it could be argued that the retaliation by the Israeli military was far out of proportion to the actual threat or provocation from the Palestinians themselves.

And then, like now, the Israelis tried to cover up any coverage of their shelling’s civilian victims. A CNN journalist was sacked from his post because he described playing football with four boys minutes before the youngsters were all killed in the shelling. Thankfully, CNN reinstated him after massive public outcry.

When Israel intercepted the first Freedom Flotilla six years ago, the Israeli ambassador, Mark Regev, turned up on the news to present his country’s case. One of those, who was very unimpressed with him was Channel 4 News’ Jon Snow. Regev claimed that the Flotilla was intercepted to stop them smuggling weapons into Gaza. He then went on to claim that if people genuinely wanted to send humanitarian aid to Gaza, then the ships should be sent to two Israeli ports, one of which was Ashdod, and reassured viewers that it would get through. Snow lost patience with that last statement, and called it, and Regev, what they were. Snow stated it was a lie, as only 18 per cent of the aid for Gaza going through Israel actually reached its intended destination. He then asked Regev what his government was going to do if the Turks did what they said they were considering, and sent a gunboat to protect the next ship. Would the Israelis attack this, a vessel from their ally, and so start a war? Regev tried to laugh this off with a incredulous ‘Are you serious?’ To which Snow responded that it wasn’t him making the statement, but the Turks, and he should check with them. Here’s the clip:

I found it thanks to one of Guy Debord’s Cat’s excellent pieces on Israel and its crimes.

As for Shmuely Boteach, I got the distinct impression he was one of the various ‘spiritual mentors’ who like to hand around celebrities, doling out platitudes to help the rich feel comfortable and justified in their possession of such massive wealth. If memory serves me correctly, he was hanging round Michael Jackson at one point. I don’t know the precise reason why the journalist so described him, but he was so obnoxious at one point that I remember one newspaper article about a decade or so ago referring to him as ‘odious’.

So I join with Mike in saluting Gilmour, Mason and Waters – ‘Shine on, you not-so-crazy diamonds!’

Financial Times Review of Biography of Douglas Adams

October 27, 2015

Adams Hitchhiker Photo

Adams on the set of the BBC’s TV series of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Going through a pile of old newspaper clippings, I came across a review by David Honigmann of M.J. Simpson’s Hitchhiker: A Biography of Douglas Adams, published by Hodder & Stoughton, from the Saturday edition of the Financial Times for 22nd/23rd March 2003. Here it is.

The psychologist Meredith Belbin distinguished between a range of roles that individuals could play on a team. There are the co-ordinators who keep things moving, the resource investigators who grub around for materials and cut deals, the shaper/finishers who make sure projects get completed and the plants who throw out ideas. Douglas, it is fair to say, was a plant. In a casual conversation, he could throw out enough ideas for a lifetime’s writing. It was just the actual writing that came hard to him. He was ambitious enough to live in poverty on odd jobs while waiting for his big break, with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but not ambitious enough to keep working at the same rate once fame arrived.

M.J. Simpson’s biography of Adams is surprisingly tart, coming from a fan whose obsession with his subject seems to fall just this side of stalkerhood. The charges against Adams are four-fold: he procrastinated, he was starstruck, he exaggerated, his knowledge of science fiction was shallow. That Adams procrastinated is not in doubt. He learned the habit at the feet of a master, working with Graham Chapman during Chapman’s alcoholic post-Python years. After the original Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, all his books were delivered late – in many cases they were only begun after the deadline had passed. But he was, in general, so reliable as a cash-cow that editors and publishers were prepared to wait for milking-time. Nonetheless, at the time of his death, Adams had not completed a book for eight years, and his last project, Starship Titanic, had received only a lukewarm reception.

Starstruck, Adams certainly seems to have been. He went to Cambridge to ingratiate himself with the Footlights crowd: he wanted to be John Cleese and worked his way into at least an outer ring of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. His parties were studded with musicians from Procol Harum, Pink Floyd and Wings, and Islington media glitterati.

“The audience were more famous than the band,” recalls one of the latter ruefully. For his 42nd birthday, he was given a certificate entitling him to appear on stage with Pink Floyd. His school chaplain suspects that his atheism was caused by his hero-worship of Richard Dawkins. At best, this tendency in Adams meant that he exposed himself to a wide range of ideas, many of which he developed in his own work; at its worst, this star-spotting was mostly harmless. That Adams played up his anecdotes seems likely. Simpson patiently debunks some of the myths: the first book did not go straight to number one in the Sunday Times bestseller list; Adams did not have to fight his way through crowds to get to his first book signing; the original idea for Hitchhiker did not (probably) come to him as he lay drunk in a field outside Innsbruck. The myths became part of Adams’ brand. He told the stories well, as can be heard on Douglas Adams’s Guide to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, an audiocassette from BBC Worldwide. In essence, they fulfilled his desire to be a performer, not just a writer.

They may have served a function as self-defence in the face of a world with almost limitless tempting distractions. And they seem to have fulfilled his need for external validation: as someone who cherished throughout his life the time when a hard-to-please English teacher gave him 10 out of 10 for a story, he succumbed to the temptation to make his career a little more successful, a little more lucky.

The final suggestion is that Adams’s knowledge of science fiction was shallow. This is probably correct: one of the characteristics of science fiction fandom is that someone, somewhere, always knows more than you do. But as a science fiction writer, Adams had the mastertouch of being able to put names on concepts that no one previously knew they needed. The number of Hitchhiker concepts now embedded in the internet (such as the Babel Fish as a universal translator) is a tribute to this. There is one strikingly sad moment in Douglas Adams’s Guide, when Adams notes, “when you pass 40 – and I’m well past 40 – you suddenly become aware that all the things on your agenda … you’re not going to do them all.”

Had he lived longer, it is doubtful whether he would have produced much more, unless driven to it by economic necessity. Simpson considers this a waste of his talent. More charitably, one might conclude that most of his ambitions had been fulfilled and a few decades of intellectual puttering about and indulging his hobbies was a fair reward.

Despite Simpson’s general diligence, there is one striking lacuna. For the last decade or so of his life, Adams had been working on a novel to be called The Salmon of Doubt. What was to be in it changed periodically but the title remained – surprising, given Adams’s general indifference to titles. Simpson dismisses it as “a meaningless phrase”, but it is nothing of the sort. The Salmon of Doubt is a riff on the Irish legend of the Salmon of Certainty, which grants whoever eats it all the knowledge in the world. The seer Fionn labours for seven years to catch it, but when he does he leaves someone else to cook it while he gathers firewood. The other man – who turns out to be Fionn, son Uail, son of Baiscne – consumes three drops of oil from the fish, and he gets the knowledge, not Fionn the seer.

In other words, what turned out to be Adams’s last project was named for the story of someone who procrastinates for seven years over a project to gain the secrets of life, the universe and everything, only to have the prize snatched away from him at the last minute. He would have appreciated the irony.

And here’s the opening titles from the BBC TV version:

UKIP in Trumpton Riots

December 4, 2014

Those of us of a certain age remember fondly the TV series Trumpton, and its fellow Camberwick Green, narrated by that master of 70s children’s television, Brian Cant. Other fans of the series include 80s pop band Half Man, Half Biscuit, who in a masterpiece of twisted humour produced the song ‘Trumpton Riots’. This was about what would happen if a riot broke out in the televisual toytown. It contained lines like

‘Time flies by when you’re the driver of a train
As I ride on the footplate with my cargo of cocaine.’

It had a nod to Pink Floyd, ‘Careful with that axe, Eugene, causes consternation’.

Now, according to Mike over at Vox Political, twitter has also used Trumpton, as well as the other puppet and animated children’s stars of that period to send up UKIP. There are shots of various scenes from the programme accompanied by a suitable caption making a satirical comment on Kipper policy.

UKIP are, of course, absolutely furious, and particular Kipper politicians are demanding that Twitter censor the images and the twitter feed. Which itself is highly amusing.

Mike’s article on this latest furore is Pugh, Pugh, Nigel Farage, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grubb at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2014/12/04/pugh-pugh-nigel-farage-cuthbert-dibble-grubb/. Go there for some very funny pics.

Romanticism, Mysticism and Utopianism in the Modern British Folk Revival

May 13, 2014

Electric Eden Pic

Electric Eden by Rob Young (London: Faber and Faber 2010) is a detailed examination of modern British folk music, going from the 19th century collectors like Cecil Sharp and Vaughn Williams to modern folk-rockers like Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention and non-folkies, like Julian Cope and Kate Bush, who nevertheless express the strange, esoteric spirit of much of British folk music in their strange, esoteric mysticism and utopian yearning for a Britain of myth and legend. The blurb states:

In this groundbreaking survey of more than a century of music-making in the British Isles, Rob Young investigates how the idea of folk has been handed down and transformed by successive generations – song collectors, composers, Marxist revivalists, folk-rockers, psychedelic voyagers, free-festival-goers, experimental pop stars and electronic innovators. In a sweeping panorama of Albion’s soundscape that takes in the pioneer spirit of Cecil sharp; the pastoral classicism of Ralph Vaughan Williams and Peter Warlock; the industrial folk revival of Ewan MacColl and A.L. Lloyd; the folk-rock of Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny, Nick Drake, Shirley Collins, John Martyn and Pentangle; the bucolic psychedelia of The Incredible String Band, the Beatles and Pink Floyd; the acid-folk of Comus, Forest, Mr Fox and Trees; The Wicker Man and occult folklore; the early Glastonbury and Stonehenge festivals; and the visionary pop of Kate Bush, Julian Cope and Talk Talk, Electric Eden maps out a native British musical voice that reflects the complex relationship between town and country, progress and nostalgia, radicalism and conservatism. A wild combination of pagan echoes, spiritual quest, imaginative time-travel, pastoral innocence and electrified creativity, Electric Eden presents and passionate and intelligent landscape reading of this island’s music, and the spirit that informs it.

I’ve posted this up as a partial antidote to the pseudo-folksiness of the English Democrats’ election video, which I’ve reblogged from Tom Pride’s site. The good Mr Pride had put it up with the question of whether it was the worst party political broadcast ever. It isn’t, but offhand I can’t think of one. The video relies on a very few stereotypical images of England – White Cliffs of Dover, Churchill, St George, Spitfires and a monument to the war dead. It’s a very narrow, very Conservative view of English national identity. And also extremely modern – most of the imagery is that of the Second World War. English, and British folk identity is far broader and richer than that, as Electric Eden shows. Sharp, I believe, was actually a Socialist trying to recover the songs of the British working people. The folkies of the 1950s were similarly inspired by Left-wing political views. Many of them were Marxists, inspired by American folk musicians and were aficionados of Black American Blues music. This was the music of poor, Black America, and the British revivalists turned to exploring their own folk music as Blues’ British counterpart. Furthermore, many of the British folk-rockers in the 1960s were fans and pioneers of what is now World Music, and a few converted to the mystical religions of these extra-European cultures. The book mentions a couple, for example, who converted to Sufism, Islamic mysticism.

The book is a bit contentious in its claim that the British folk revival, or the folk genre, is now over. It isn’t, as you can hear by listening the folk bands that are still very much a part of the music scene, particularly in Bristol. It has to be said that it’s nowhere near as big as it was in the 1960s-70s, when Pentangle, Fairport Convention, and Steeleye Span were at their height. It has also passed on elements and attitudes to other pop genres. There was, for example, a definite folk element in the music of the Goth rock band, All About Eve in the 80s and 90s. Electric Eden demonstrates how rich, varied and esoteric British folk, folk-rock and folk-influenced pop is, far richer than the limited, trite and reactionary images presented by the parties of the populist far Right.