portrait of this blog's author - by Stephen Blackman 2008

Monday, April 29, 2013

Goldsmith Songsmith Sexsmith

Big O have posted a gig by singer songwriter extraordinaire Ron Sexsmith. Ever a favourite of this listener and still disturbingly not as popular as he deserves - is he this newer generation's T Bone Burnett? Discuss - this is an all acoustic gem from Berlin in January this year and really high quality as it's an FM broadcast from Radio Eins

All featuring his most recent album 'Forever Endeavour' and no, it's not an Inspector Morse themed tribute album (Brit joke!.....well nearly!) the whole album bar a couple of tracks including Macca's 'Listen to What the Man Said' (Sic!) Ron always manages to pick really interesting, if not down right odd, choices for cover songs.

Enjoy! I know I did . . . . . .

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Patti and Lou!

Always friends fellow artists and one the 'fan' of the other always....Big O post some new Patti meets the Pontiff and Lou from London 1992......

Lou Reed - London 1992 The Masterclass Bootleg [Kiss The Stone KTS079, 1CD]
Live at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, UK; March 23, 1992

 Lou Reed – vocals, guitar
Mike Rathke - guitar, piano, viola
Rob Wasserman - electric upright bass
Michael Blair - drums, percussion
Little Jimmy Scott - backing vocals

Patti Smith Group - Rome 2013 Live at Sala Santa Cecilia, Auditorium del Parco della Musica, Roma, Italy;  April 14, 2013 on a Sunday night. Broadcast on Live and Direct by “BBC Radio2 Live”, RAI. Excellent FM stereo.

 Patti Smith - voice, guitar
Lanny Kaye - guitar
Jackson Smith - guitar
Jesse Smith - piano, keyboards
Tony Shanahan - bass, piano
Jay Dee Daugherty - drums
(guitarist Jack Petruzzelli was also allegedly part of this line-up, but he’s not mentioned by Patti during band’s intros, Track 203)

 Why? On April 10, days before this concert, a photo caught Patti Smith shaking hands with the newly elected head of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis.
This picture released by the Vatican press office on April 10, 2013 shows Pope Francis greeting US singer Patti Smith during the pontiff’s weekly general audience at St Peters square at the Vatican. - AFP

 Patti Smith is not Roman Catholic but she has a great sense of history and context. Her songs display that sensibility. Her concerts are always timely with songs that evoke the past by linking to the present. Whether it is a dedication to one of her rock heroes, remembering a birthday of a jazz giant or a call to arms for people power, Smith confesses she has “a relic sensibility”. A sense of time and place. Of events.

 Constantine's Dream

I dreamed a dream of St. Francis who kneeled and prayed
For the birds and the beasts and all human kind
All through the night I felt drawn in by him
And I heard him call like a distant hymn

I retreated from the silence of my room
Stepping down the ancient stones washed with dawn
And entered the basilica that bore his name
Seeing his effigy I bowed my head

And my racing heart, I gave to him
I kneeled and prayed and sleep
That I could not find in the night
I found through him

I saw before me the world of his world
The bright fields, the birds in abundance
All of nature of which he sang singing of him
All the beauty that surrounded him as he walked

His nature that was nature itself and I heard him
I heard him speak and the birds sang sweetly
And the wolves licked his feet
But I could not give myself to him

I felt another call from the basilica itself
The call of art, the call of man
And the beauty of the material drew me away
And I awoke and beheld upon the wall

The dream of Constantine
The handiwork of Piero della Francesca
Who had stood where I stood
And with his brush stroke

The legend of the true cross
And he envisioned Constantine
Advancing to greet the enemy
And as he was passing the river

An unaccustomed fear gripped his bowels
An anticipation so overwhelming
That it manifested in waves
All through the night the dream drew toward him

As an advancing crusade
He slept in his tent on the battlefield
While his men stood guard
And an angel awoke him

Constantine within his dream awoke
And his men saw a light pass over the face
Of the king, the troubled king
And the angel came and showed to him

The sign of the true cross in heaven
And upon it was written
“In this sign shall thou conquer”
In the distance, the tents of his army were lit by moonlight

But another kind of radiance lit the face of Constantine
And in the morning light the artist seeing his work was done
Saw it was good in this sign shall thou conquer
He let his brush drop and passed into a sleep of his own

And he dreamed of Constantine
Carrying him into battle in his right hand
An immaculate undefiled and simple white cross
Piero della Francesca, as his brush stroked the wall

Filled with the torpor and fell into a dream of his own
From the geometry of his heart, he mapped it out
He saw the king rise, fitted with armor set upon a white horse
An immaculate cross in his right hand

He advanced toward the enemy and the symmetry
The perfection of his mathematics
Caused the scattering of the enemy agitated, broken
They fled and Piero dela Francesca, waking, cried out

All is art, all is future, oh Lord, let me die on the back of adventure
With a brush and an eye full of light
As he advanced in age the light was shorn from him
His eyes, blinded, he layed upon his bed

On an October morning, 1492 whispering
Oh Lord, let me die on the back of adventure
Oh Lord, let me die on the back of adventure, oh
And a world away, the world away

On three great ships, adventure itself as if to answer
Pulling into the new world
And as far as his eyes could see, no longer blind
All of nature, unspoiled, beautiful, beautiful

Such a manner it would have lifted
The heart of St. Francis into the realm of universal love
Columbus set foot on the new world
He witnessed beauty unspoiled

All of the delights given by God as if in Eden itself
As if Eden had opened up her heart to him
And opened her dress and all of her fruit, gave to him
And Columbus so overwhelmed

Fell into a sleep of his own
All the world in his sleep, all of the beauty
All of the beauty entwined with the future
The 21st century advancing like the angel

Advancing like the angel
That had come to Constantine
Constantine and history
Oh, this is your cross to bear

Oh Lord, oh Lord, let me deliver
Hallowed adventure
To all mankind in the future
Oh art, cried the painter

Oh art, oh art, cried the angel
Art, the great material gift of man
Art that hath denied the hungered pleas of St. Francis
Oh thou, artist, all shall crumble in the dust

Oh thou, navigator, the terrible end of man
This is your gift to mankind
This is your cross to bear

Then Columbus saw all of nature aflame
The apocalyptic night
And the dream of the troubled king
Dissolved into light
Patti Smith


April 24, 2013 – 12:47 pm From Big O where else?

Neoliberalism is like the alleged “end of history” and the so-called inevitable One World due to the “great convergence”. File under “utopia”. Dead and buried. It’s fair trade not free trade, fair wages not stagnant wages. Competition not oligopoly. Time to tear down some bad ideas. By Sameer Dossani.
Though Margaret Thatcher is no longer among the living, her ideology lives on. That ideology - known today as neoliberalism, “free market fundamentalism” in a phrase coined by George Soros - is strikingly unique. Apart from religious beliefs, is there any example of an ideology that has been so thoroughly disproven yet maintains an aura of respectability?
The basic premise of neoliberalism - that “free markets” lead to better growth, higher prosperity and even more equality - was always fiction. As Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang has repeatedly pointed out, there is no such thing as a free market. Nor is there any example of a country that has developed by following the neoliberal tenets of privatization, liberalization and budget cuts. Instead countries have traditionally used some mix of subsidies, tariffs, and debt-financed investment to prop up industries and shift comparative advantage to higher-end goods.
Despite the history, neoliberals argue that markets alone should determine things like wages, and that corporations and their owners should be able to operate however they like. Developed countries that adopted neoliberal tenets post-1980 saw wages stagnate almost as quickly as corporate profits skyrocketed.
In the developing world it was much worse. Africa suffered two decades of economic stagnation as a direct result of being forced to follow these policies, with Latin Americans and Asians doing not much better. The past decade has seen some improvement, but the global community is still well behind where it should be in terms of eradicating things like hunger and preventable disease.
But the neoliberal era may finally be nearing its long-awaited end. Here’s why.
1) The IMF has admitted that budget cuts are not always the answer
The IMF has for over three decades forced countries to restructure their economies to be in line with neoliberal tenets. In particular, they have forced indebted countries to cut budgets before they can borrow from capital markets to pay off creditors. The phrases bureaucrats and politicians invented to sell this ideology are by now clich├ęs.
“Governments can’t spend more than they earn,” “We all need to tighten our belts,” etc. etc. By cutting government spending, the story goes, countries make room for increased private sector spending, and the economy grows.

As Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang has repeatedly pointed out, there is no such thing as a free market.

Though earlier IMF studies had come to similar conclusions, it wasn’t until January 2013 that the IMF’s chief economist published what amounts to a “mea culpa”. Turns out that decreasing public investment is actually a pretty good way to hurt prospects for economic growth rather than increase them. Oops.
And there’s another twist in the story. For the last few years, decision makers have been citing a paper by Harvard economists that ostensibly highlights the dangers of countries borrowing too much in order to finance public expenditures. The paper specifically suggested a cutoff - when the debt hits 90 per cent of GDP - beyond which economies would suffer for their overspending ways. The paper has been cited by public officials around the globe to justify budget cuts. But it turns out that the paper’s conclusions were a result of a series of errors, one of which was forgetting to update a calculation on an Excel spreadsheet. When the correct data is put in place, the conclusions more or less disappear.
Double oops.
2) The Doha development round is dead
In November, 2001 the World Trade Organization launched its “Doha development round”. Despite its name, the Doha round was about anything but development. High on the agenda were things like removing social and environmental protections, eliminating subsidies for poor farmers, and ensuring that big pharmaceutical companies could maintain patents on (and greatly increase the cost of) life-saving medicines.
With the help of progressive activists from Seattle to Hong Kong, and due to the huge uprising of developing countries in the WTO’s Cancun ministerial, Doha is more-or-less dead and the WTO is at a standstill. That’s great news for those who want to see fair trade as opposed to “free trade” and trade deals that put development and human rights first. The challenge now is to come up with a framework (and maybe even a mechanism) for multilateral regulation of global trade that prioritizes human rights over corporate profits.
3) Countries are increasingly trading in local currencies
Apart from the IMF, one way for the US to maintain its control over the global economic system is the supremacy of the US dollar. Certain transactions must be done in US dollars - buying petroleum for example - and the US dollar is still seen as the safest global currency. The result is that the dollar’s value remains artificially high, increasing the purchasing power of US consumers and the desire of everyone else to sell to the US.

There has hardly been a moment since 1980 when there is not a financial crisis happening somewhere. What usually happens in such times is that governments take measures to protect the elites (usually the bankers who actually caused the crisis) and shift the burden of paying for the costs to the general public.

This deal benefits almost no one (not even US consumers) and some governments have begun to look for alternatives. Agreements to begin to trade in local currencies have been negotiated between Brazil and China, Turkey and Iran, China and Japan, and the BRICS countries. Though some of these agreements are just taking off, if implemented they represent a significant challenge to the status quo.
4) 2007-08 proved beyond a doubt that markets don’t regulate themselves. And Iceland proved that there is another way.
The financial crisis of 2007-08 is far from the first financial crisis of the neoliberal era; in fact it would also be accurate to call the neoliberal era the “era of financial crisis”. From Mexico in 1982, to other countries in Latin America soon after that, to the US stock market collapse in 1987, to Japan in 1990, to the Asian financial crisis of 1997, to Russia and Brazil in 1998-99, to Turkey and Argentina in 2000-2002, to the collapse of the dot com bubble, there has hardly been a moment since 1980 when there is not a financial crisis happening somewhere. What usually happens in such times is that governments take measures to protect the elites (usually the bankers who actually caused the crisis) and shift the burden of paying for the costs to the general public. The current crisis is a good case in point.
But unlike previous crises there are indications that this time we might be looking at a system change. The first of these is just the scale of the crisis. The collapsed US housing bubble represented about $8 trillion USD in artificial wealth. That’s more than 11 per cent of global GDP, and that’s not counting the housing bubbles that collapsed in Europe and elsewhere. This is market failure on a massive scale.
This time there’s also an example of a country that protected its citizens, jailed its bankers and is doing much better as a result. The country, Iceland, joins Argentina as one of the only countries to default on debts as a result of financial crisis. The disasters that “everyone” was expecting (no access to currency markets, investors blacklisting Iceland, etc) never materialized, showing that even small countries can stand up to the international creditor cartel and live to tell the tale.
Iceland demonstrates that there’s nothing natural about neoliberalism. The decision to protect elites from the effects of markets while using those same markets to punish everyone else is a political injustice, not a natural law.
And it is this injustice which ensures that neoliberalism will go the way of the dodo. Ultimately markets are just a social contract, like marriage. And just as the move towards marriage equality now seems inevitable, drastic reform of the way we relate to markets is on the way.
Note: Sameer Dossani is Advocacy Coordinator, Reshaping Global Power with ActionAid International, a global anti-poverty organization. As an activist, Sameer has campaigned against neoliberal policies since 1996 in the U.S., Canada, India and the Philippines. Views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of ActionAid International.The above article was posted at CounterPunch.
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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

John Martyn

Bologna 1977
Never mind any hullabaloo elsewhere, here's a treat from Big O. Haven't come across a boot of John Martyn for a long time now so this is a welcome addition and fine fine recording worthy of anyone's collection

Big O says 
Notes by nobody:
Here’s this, an essentially complete, apparently-largely-uncirculated and furnace-like hot night in Bologna… at first I thought it was mono but there are stereo aspects evident if you look at the waveforms and pay attention. From John’s asides between songs it is clearly above 100 degrees Fahrenheit onstage and how he keeps the guitars within a semitone of in-tune is a feat worthy of the musical Hercules that we all know he was, whether we heard him for the first time last week or last century. Other than dialing back some clipping issues in the electroacoustic songs, a few minor dropout repairs plus subtle little tweaks for continuity, I did nothing to further alter this… it seemed like leaving it unvarnished was the thing to do, raw and unadulterated like the man, born with his soul hanging out on his sleeve, you hear on the tape.
If anyone wants to remaster it further so as to noiseprint some more of the hiss out, you are welcome to do so as long as you leave the music up there around 22,500 Khz intact. It sounds to me like what the original notes say it is, a 1st generation feed direct from the desk onto what sounds to me like a chrome cassette situation, probably done by the soundman himself or an accomplice, with the digitization made probably by the original taper. Whether he used the original deck and/or adjusted the azimuth and all that stuff is not specified, but it sounds pretty damn fine in the cans and I am pretty darn picky about these things.
Anyway, celebrate always the life and extraordinary music of JM; roll up a cone, have a good time and share this with the people you love as its author, the likes of which we may never see again, surely would have wanted you to do
 If you are Martyn fans you will know about his sad sad descent into alcoholism and losing his limbs and eventually death. Some of his wonderful songs became family talismans although I had discovered John and Beverley on the compilation disc 'You Can All Join In' with their 'Go Out and Get it' and much later I wanted 'May You Never' at my brother's funeral for it always reminds me of him and he was a lifelong fan although Martyn outlived him.  Martyn came to college when I was at Art school and he knew one of the painting schools lecturer's sons so we got close hand experience and while the gig was the expected brilliant, nay incandescent, performance he turned out to be a coke fuelled arrogant twat to us sycophants. "Sorry"! Never meet your heroes, especially if they are coke heads!
Here he is the beautiful incandescent golden child genius however. . . . . .

 "You are just like a sweet crazy brother to me and you know I love you true,
 you never talk dirty behind my back and I know there's those that do"


"May you never lay your head down without a hand to hold
may you never make your bed out in the cold"

 John and Danny Thompson and Kathy Mattea "May You Never"
for my brother Stephen Richard Swapp 1949 - 1987

 "It's yours go out and get it......... "

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Somewhat more radical stance......

Let Glenda Jackson have the first word

In Memoriam: Margaret Thatcher

The CD was mailed out April 8 to all who had pre-ordered the disc in 2005. 

Back in 2005, anarchist collective Chumbawamba pre-sold an EP called In Memoriam - Margaret Thatcher which they would keep under wraps until the prime minister passed away. Since Thatcher did pass earlier this week, the band has delivered the EP and is also streaming the release online. Along with that, the band delivered a eulogy:

“Let’s make it clear: This is a cause to celebrate, to party, to stamp the dirt down. Tomorrow we can carry on shouting and writing and working and singing and striking against the successive governments that have so clearly followed Thatcher’s Slash & Burn policies, none more so than the present lot. But for now, we can have a drink and a dance and propose a toast to the demise of someone who blighted so many people’s lives for so long. If we must show a little reverence and decorum at this time, then so be it. Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of all Margaret Thatcher’s victims.”

Track 01. Introduction (644k)
Track 02. So Long, So Long (4.0MB)
Track 03. Pinochet Bids Farewell From Beyond The Grave (1.5MB)
Track 04. The Day The Lady Died (2.5MB)
Track 05. Ring The Bells! (873k)
Track 06. Waiting For Margaret To Go (6.6MB)
Track 07. Sleep (1.6MB)


Wednesday, April 10, 2013




Billy Too....

  The BEAT - OTT!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Photo: a Columbia Pictures promo for 'The Model Shop'
 We have mentioned Spirit recently [we? ED] at the passing of wonder drummer Ed Cassidy last year but here's another fine fine set from Spirit starting in 1982 when they again reformed to tour and record live many of their most famous songs. This one's from Detroit 1984  

Can ya diggit? 

From Big O, of course [where else? D] and they say:
SPIRIT Detroit 1984 [no label, 2CD]
Live at Harpo’s, Detroit, Michigan; October 19, 1984 (this show has also been listed as March 12, 1984). Excellent FM broadcast.
Though formed in 1967, there were occasions when the group broke up, only to reform again. The wikipedia lists the group’s active years as 1967-1973; 1974-1979 and 1982-1997. Spirit had ace guitarist Randy California and a formidable drummer in Randy’s stepfather, Ed Cassidy.
In December 1982, the original Spirit line-up re-formed and recorded several songs from their first four albums (as well as a few new tracks) live on a soundstage. Though the album The Thirteenth Dream (Spirit of ‘84 in the US) was initially recorded for an audiophile label, Mercury Records re-signed the band (and gave California a solo deal) and released the album in 1984.

Randy California drowned in 1997; John Locke died in 2006; and Ed Cassidy died of cancer in 2012.
Get em while you can boys n girls
Spirit - Detroit 1984