Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Socialism Salutes Billy Thorpe - Rest In Peace!

Socialism's second home (in our feverish dreams) is Sydney - beer tastes better, the weather's better, no one gives two shits about the kind of tedious crap we stress about over here... yes, it's our kind of town. Anyways, one of Sydney's favourite sons, Billy Thorpe passed away today. Not really very well know in this neck of the woods, his band, Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, played the kind of Southern hemisphere hard rockin' boogie that always sounds good when you're sucking down a VB and shouting stuff. Check out his live album "Live At Sunbury" or the clip we've attached for a full on deep hit of Aztecs rock.

Our friend, Socialism writer Andy Kelly (a man who knows his rock), wrote this piece for the Ivy League Records site - a label he runs that is clearly indebted to the great man. We couldn't have put it any better.

"As far as Ivy League are concerned, there has only ever been one Thorpie. With all due respect to "our" recently retired aquatic sensation Ian, the original and the best was Mr Billy Thorpe, legendary Australian singer,songwriter, guitarist and leader of The Aztecs. Tragically, Billy passed away last night in Sydney, and we at Ivy League would like to pay tribute to one of the great pioneers of Australian rock music. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family, friends and bandmates. If you have ever had the pleasure of witnessing a repeat showing of Billy's legendary performance of "Momma" on GTK late at night on the ABC you will understand why he was one of the greatest singers and guitarists Australia has known. If you're a little unsure on where to start, or how best to pay tribute to the great man on this sad day, may we suggest you get yourself a copy of Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs Live At Sunbury, turn it up very loud, pour yourself a glass of beer from a longneck, and marvel at the raw power of one of this countrys great performers. Vale Billy, thanks for the music."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Arthur Magazine RIP

From the LA Times, we read this story with great sadness - great, great like-minded magazine from across the pond run by our friend Jay.

"Arthur magazine, the bimonthly counterculture journal that brought an underground sensibility to its coverage of music, politics, arts and culture, has ceased publication, at least for now.

Editor and co-founder Jay Babcock said the free magazine, which distributed about 50,000 copies in 120 cities nationwide, was calling it quits after 25 issues in four-plus years.

But Arthur's other co-founder, East Coast-based Laris Kreslins, said, "I'm not ready to declare Arthur dead. I'd much rather say it's on indefinite hiatus." A split between Babcock, who ran the editorial operation out of his Atwater Village home, and Kreslins, whose Maryland-based company holds the trademark and handled the business side, became inevitable last year.

"I had been wanting to transition out of doing the magazine for quite some time," Kreslins said. "But negotiations to sell my equity in the magazine fell apart."

Babcock, who had assembled investors to acquire the magazine outright, said, "I looked out for everyone's interests but mine. I went on trust, and when that crumbles, everything else fails."

Asked whether he could resurrect Arthur, Babcock said: "No. . . . I'm broke, I have no income, and I don't even have the rights to my baby." Kreslins said he was preparing a public statement that he would issue Sunday.

In many ways, Arthur harked back to the underground publications of the 1960s and '70s. It featured interviews, essays, cartoons and lengthy pieces from writers such as Douglas Rushkoff, Alan Moore, Erik Davis and Kristine McKenna, as well as regular columns by Sonic Youth front man Thurston Moore and blues man T-Model Ford.

The magazine in the last two years also mounted three music festivals that earned notice in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and other publications.

Kreslins said the magazine "wasn't making money, but it wasn't bleeding money either, especially when you consider what an interesting, unique situation it was."

Babcock said he felt worst for the magazine's myriad contributors, many of whom worked for no pay. "I had a lot of people working on good faith," he said."

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Wicker Man

Just spend the best part of two hours watching the remake of one of Socialism's all time favourite films, "The Wicker Man". Wow, what a stinker. It's even possibly a work of genius, not sure yet, trying to let it all sink in. This Youtube cut up gives you the skinny on it - frantic over-acting and misogyny a go go. Great waste of a Friday night!

Socialism currently loving...

Fujiya + Miyagi "Ankle Injuries" (and the Tirk compilation - are we too late on this to appear cool?)
Manic Street Preachers "Indian Summer" (proper return to form)
about half of the Air album
Lovefoxxx from CSS (her record's not too bad either)
Jon Savage's new book "Teenage"
the Hunter S Thompson "Gonzo" book
Brtiney's nit prevention measures
"Trill" by Clipse
"My Super Sweet 16" (obviously)
the Richard Swift album
The Montague Arms
The Stalkers, gud band
"24", "Heroes", "The Wire" series 4, "Battlestar Galactica" & all those other great wastes of time on telly at the mo
Playstation Star Wars Lego Original Trilogy (it's a slow month)
Anna Nicole Smith, Robert Anton Wilson RIP
Princeton Architectural Press
the new Howies catalogue
"Ilf & Petrov's American Road Trip" (Cabinet book)
"Ugly Betty", esp the offices of Mode magazine - one day Socialism towers will be this way
Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve "Spring", Midlake remix & a load of other bits
Kleerup feat Robyn "With Every Heartbeat" (pure Balearia...)
Britney's hairdresser
the latest wave of spam emails we keep getting
Barrafina, Frith Street
Arcade Fire "Black Mirror" (wish the rest of the album sounded like this...)
The Shins "Sea Legs" (wuss rock? I'm in)
The La's BBC sessions
Soulsavers & Mark Lanegan album
Turbonegro "The Age Of Pamparius" (again)
Le Tigre mix of The Gossip single
the trailer for the Fantastic Four movie, against the odds
"Against All Odds" by Phil Collins (obviously)
bottles of Cwrw Haf from Beers Of Europe website.

Also, we're currently worrying that the Van Halen tour might not make it off the starting blocks. If we all pray hard enough, maybe it'll come to pass...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

February 21st 1971

On this day in history... (also, the very day of my birth, Socialism completists... hi Mum, that means you!)

1971: They're having way too much fun out there, so the grown-ups at the United Nations step in and sign the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, an international treaty aimed at reining in the use of hallucinogenic drugs like LSD by tightening laws on their manufacture and distribution.

Although people have been doing drugs for centuries, usage mushroomed, so to speak, during the freewheeling 1960s. Governments were alarmed but slow to react. LSD, for example, was not prohibited federally in the United States until 1967.

The convention, worded in such a way to include almost any conceivable hallucinogen, was an attempt to override existing international drug treaties that, by and large, had proven too weak to enforce.

But there were political considerations that conspired to complicate matters: The pharmaceutical lobby representing powerful drug companies in developed nations opposed laws strictly proscribing the manufacture of synthetic drugs because, well, guess who manufactured them?

In the end, the regulations that emerged came down hardest on the growers of cannabis, opium and coca, plants that are used to produce narcotics naturally. Not surprisingly, most of this trade came largely from the third world, where their farming often represented a significant percentage of a nation's income.

Monday, February 19, 2007

From Today's Independent

  • James Brown has written a profile about the rag... we owe him one, it's really really brilliant... click here if you fancy reading...
  • Grindhouse

    We here at Socialism Heights are frothing at the mouth about Tarantino and Rodriguez's "Grindhouse" movie... great to see they got a load of nutcases to do their own exploitation movie tribute trailer. None was better than this offering, which goes totally Brass Eye crackers...

    Sunday, February 18, 2007

    Hurry Up Harry...

    How weird is life for the Towers Of London in 2007? First off, your singer Donny Tourette is the only thing worth watching in the opening Big Brother show, an unruly combination of John Lydon circa “I’m A Celebrity”, Sid Snot and something out of the Beano. Less than 48 hours later, he’s bolted over the wall to avoid having to hang out with “that moron” Jade Goody in what now looks like a prediction Nostradamus would be proud of. Upon his exit, he and the band become omnipresent in high society watering holes all over the capitol, staggering around with It Girls and minor league celebrities and scrapping with bouncers, in turn making four or five visits to the gossip columns a day. Apart from one badly reviewed gig, the last thing anyone seemed to know about the Towers was whether they were any good or not.

    Well, it seems that at least one person was keenly listening to their debut album, “Blood, Sweat & Towers”. Henry Charles Albert David Mountbatten-Windsor, aka Prince Harry, has declared his love for the Towers of London. There is little surprise there – after all, the kid was wearing a Sid Vicious style Swastika armband when the Towers were still knocking around as The Tourettes. This week, Harry, the 3rd in line to the throne, is reported to have ordered his henchmen to invite the Towers to” exclusive London nightspot” Mahiki (speciality – a £100 cocktail served in a diver’s helmet) last week so he could meet them. According to The Daily Star (obviously the font of all knowledge), Towers guitarist The Rev said, "We were just told to be there. Then we were introduced to Harry and he told me how much he likes us. He thinks we're top. He spent the evening calling himself the Prince of Punk."

    And it’s at this point that the plot thins. First off, it’s reported that Donny is now trying to hit on Harry’s cousin, Princes Beatrice, 5th in line to the throne. Next up, it’s reported that Harry is shipping off to patrol the Iraq border as part of the Blues and Royals regiment of the Household Cavalry.

    So, putting the absolute insanity of it all aside, what are the prospects here, what’s our money on first? Donny is reported to be keen to woo Beatrice, something he thinks he can do if he befriends Harry. Harry is going to fight for His Mum and Country overseas. So what the chances of A) Towers Of London being the first Western rock band to play in war torn Iraq at Harry’s behest, entertaining the troops like some kind of modern day Bob Hope revue (Manic Street Preachers in Cuba was one thing, this is potentially seismic in comparison!) or B) Donny Tourette potentially becoming 5th in line to the Throne? The Towers song “(I Could Be) King” suddenly takes on horrifying new precedence. The idea of these men, potentially the future of the monarchy (allow me to dream here), could be sat in Basra knocking back mind boggling Tiki cocktails, gobbing on the floor and swearing like troopers, is so far beyond comprehension, that just for a minute, the idea of creating a British Republic gets less and less enticing – I for one would rather see how all this pans out before getting too excitable about any kind of significant constitutional reform. Lord willing (well, his dad and his brother both somehow stepping out of the way to allow this flight of fantasy to happen), we may yet see King Harry with head consort Donny Tourette at his side, pissed up on rum, strutting round in Phil The Greek’s evening wear, flicking fags off the balcony whilst blasting “Neat Neat Neat” and Sham 69’s greatest hits out of the Palace windows, “We’re goin’ down the pub” the new national anthem.

    Thursday, February 15, 2007

    Guilty Confession No. 1

    I have started walking a different way home from work, often intentionally adding up to ten minutes to my journey. It’s the middle of winter and still I walk right round the block when I can clearly see the bus stop just 200 yards away at the top of the road. It’s nothing to do with exercise, or with wanting to take a more scenic route. It’s because of a tramp that has made my immediate environs his ‘patch’.

    Before I go on, I have to say, this is not a rant against people who have fallen through the cracks and ended up begging for cash, far from it. I am a sympathetic person; I try to help wherever I can. I give money to people at the cash point. I buy the Big Issue. I bought a Christmas pudding where all the proceeds went to the charity Shelter. Yes, I do my bit. That said, this guy has become a real fucking pain in the arse.

    It was sometime around Christmas that the street I have worked on for 13 years became his. For years I’d just popped money his way if I had it, given him the change from my morning coffee or my after work pint, a nod, a ‘hello’ and then gone about my business while he did his (more tramping). Then a work colleague introduced me to him by name. Like some kind of tramp pimp, the colleague foisted the guy onto me and with that, it was all over, I was at his mercy. From then on, the road I worked on became unpredictable, like some horror film where you never know what’s around the corner, lurking, waiting. Ready to pounce like Papa Lazarou. This was his road now, Dave. This was tramp country.

    He gets into town at weird times. I know this because sometimes I manage to avoid him in the mornings. Lunchtime is when his beat really starts. His route seemed at first to be random (pub here, sandwich shop there), yet after a while, it looked more and more like he had some kind of psychic link to where I was going to be next. Time after time, he was there, stood outside the office, always with the same feigned look of surprise. Generosity is one thing; here I was shelling out sometimes twice a day, getting hit up every time I went to or from the office. The payout was nearly twenty quid a week some weeks. His timing was always inappropriate – walking down the road on the phone, he’d block my way and try to get me to hang up. I fell for it time and time again. Friends would get short shrift as the call went dead and he started talking. Then there was the time it took. The stories became more elaborate, but never seemed to go anywhere. He’d walk in from his flat (yes, he had a flat). He’d do his rounds (pub, sandwich shop, repeat to fade). There was never an Orwellian insight into the street life; it was often just babble about getting beaten up by other tramps, stabbed sometimes. He looked alright to me. This usually ended with a hard done by look from his heavily tattooed face (did I mention that bit? He looks a lot like Keith Allen in ‘The Yob’ after the final transformation, only a shrunken, Gollum like version). That look usually upped my shell out by a couple more quid.

    Around Christmas, with my wallet sapped, my patience snapped. His enquiries became more outlandish. “Oi mate, have you got 3 quid so I can get a sandwich from Pret?” was the final straw. I grimly handed over his Christmas bonus and made my plans. This smiling bully would ruin my day no more. I’d change my route to and from work, even if it meant walking through rain or snow or howling rush hour traffic - that way I could avoid my nemesis. And so it’s gone on since then, a steely determination to avoid him, to get my life (and my disposable income) back.

    Now, I do feel terrible for having written this, but it feels vaguely cathartic to have let off steam about it. It’s been cheaper than therapy and certainly cheaper than paying him. Maybe there will come a day where I feel I can talk to him about the way I feel, where I can ask him to back off if say, I’m on the phone or with my girlfriend deep in conversation (two of his favourite jump out times, when I’m at my most unaware). That said, he sometimes still gets me, albeit less often. Often, if there’s a meeting in the local pub, he seems to know I’m there. He’ll lurk outside, a forlorn look, but inside he’s licking his lips thinking of the sweet, sweet, foaming nut brown ale I’m drinking. He’ll get his own back. I’ll end up paying for that pint in more ways than one.

    Wednesday, February 14, 2007

    Cannot Wait For Monocle...

    “Almost everything you see, read, wear and do has been influenced by Tyler Brule” ran the quote in Guardian on Monday. As I sit here in my Brule inspired outfit of ill fitting jeans and ill advised cardigan, I’m becoming more and more obsessed with the return of former Wallpaper* man to the world of publishing. The announcement of a new venture from Brule (see how much funnier the name gets the more you repeat it?) has seen the kind of frenzy one would expect to herald the Second Coming. There must be a press kit of telephone book proportions just from the pieces that have run in the past few days alone. The magazine that will invariably change our lives is called Monocle. It launches tomorrow. I know this because I couldn’t avoid the interviews, I feverishly read them all with a slack jawed disbelief that so many column inches were being devoted to such bunkum. Also I know this because the website for the magazine (of course I’ve logged on!) has a clock counting down the weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds until Monocle hits the streets of Planet Earth (yes, it’s a global release – W.H. Smiths in Newport train station just isn’t glamorous enough these days). Now, as far as I know, though I might be wrong, Brule has yet to find the cure for cancer. What he has done, by the sound of it, is launch a straight-faced version of Sugarape, the magazine at the heart of Channel 4’s ‘Nathan Barley’. Features include a “deconstruction of the outfits worn by world leaders, (Iran's President Ahmadinejad is the first subject)” (as mentioned in The Observer) – not really that far removed in the insanity stakes from the Sugarape feature on 15Peter20’s portraits of celebrities urinating. When Brule justifies the magazine by saying ‘sometimes people just want to see a nice picture of a helicopter’, I can’t help but think of the imaginary Sugarape editor, Jonathan Yeah, sizing up the preacher man outfit in his Hosegate offices, feet on the desk, self satisfied rictus grin across his slappable face. Basically, I have to see this magazine and fast. Which is fine, because, all the time I’ve been writing this, the clock has kept ticking down and we’re closer than ever to this momentous publishing event. Roll on tomorrow…

    Sunday, February 04, 2007


    VAN HALEN Officially Announce Summer Tour With David Lee Roth

    Los Angeles, CA – In what is no doubt one of the most anticipated moments in rock and roll, VAN HALEN officially announces their 2007 North American tour.

    The tour will mark the first time since 1984 that original VAN HALEN front man David Lee Roth will perform with Eddie and Alex Van Halen along with new bassist Wolfgang Van Halen for 40 shows this summer.

    VAN HALEN fans can look forward to legendary high intensity performances, featuring a set list of the most iconic hits ever produced by America’s premiere rock band.

    Eddie Van Halen states, “I am very excited to get back to the core of what made VAN HALEN”.