Happy New Year!

In the meantime, may I wish you in advance every happiness for the New Year. If it’s anything like the old one, I, for my part, would sooner consign it to the devil.

Karl Marx, writing to Friedrich Engels, 27th December 1861

Gimme the vaccine, Maxine.

John Cooper Clarke, Walking Back to Happiness 1979

My late father would say keeping body and soul together. I never really gave the phrase much thought at the time but it’s a fair summary of the challenge that’s faced us all this year: the struggle for sustenance for our bodies: food, housing, medicine, employment; with none of that nutrition for the soul: live music, football, pub, socialising. At the end of the day a Zoom1 call is only so rewarding, particularly if that’s what your day-to-day work has become, and it can be a poor, though necessary, replacement for real human interaction.

Being in a band is all about that interaction, sharing the creative process, the synergy of playing in time and in tune with one another (like flapping your arms and finding out that you can actually fly) and the shared experience of band and audience that makes a great gig, well, great.

We’ve spoken elsewhere about what we’ve done to compensate for not being able to gig: the make-it-look-live videos, the live streams where we could and, of course, my sprawling COVID-19 drama set out in nearly 150 songs and poems, and while there’s no substitute for the real thing, online shows are here to stay and we can reach people that way who would otherwise never get to see us live.

But it’s New Year’s Eve, so let’s look forward. It’s big pharma2 (of all people) to the rescue and with a fair wind and a following sea the return of real football, real pubs, real music, and real people is coming, but with lessons learned, continuing to reach out to those who can’t get out, and not leaving newly created mutual aid structures3 behind.

Onwards into 2021, friends. Look after yourselves, look after each other and, in the wise words of his holiness, John Cooper Clarke:

Gimme the vaccine, Maxine.

Happy New Year!

Steve

  1. Other online meeting software is available.
  2. More on that another time.
  3. The extraordinary efforts of We Shall Overcome with Pauline, Joe, Matt and Pete at the helm have continued throughout the pandemic. We’re not going anywhere until we’re no longer needed.

Santa is English

It’s been a tough year for bands.

It’s been a tough year for everyone.

We hit some real form with great shows at What’s Cookin’ and The Birds Nest when the curtain unexpectedly fell in March. We girded our loins and learned how to fake a live-but-beaming-in-from-different-locations video, which served us well for a couple of online festivals (and a massive shout out is due here for Joe Solo, Matt Hill and Pete Yen for getting WSO Isolation Festival not only off the ground but out in front of anyone else hosting online festivals, including the big corporates).

As soon as the noose loosened a little, we started the occasional socially-distanced park meeting with instruments and shot our video for the, now online, Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival in a little-known Walthamstow beauty spot.

Slightly less restricted again, we were able to just about stay two metres apart in Steve’s house where we played a few online gigs, either live or pre-recorded, and took advantage of the fine summer weather to enjoy each other’s company in the garden over a drink or two.

But then London went from tier two to tier three to lockdown to tier three and now tier four. Face-to-face ain’t happening but undaunted while more than a little disappointed, we thought we’d find out just what we could do together in isolation. Although The debased street music of the vulgar was all recorded at Steve’s house, this track had to be recorded in five houses on equipment ranging from mobile phones to inexpensive USB interfaces, free software and, in some cases, our employer’s laptop (shh!).

So here it is, our Christmas gift to you. We hope you like it. Keep smiling, keep fighting, and we’ll see you in the flesh soon with any luck.

Solidarity, brothers and sisters!

Russ, Lol, Simon, Andi & Steve

P.S. Get your free download here.

Reviewed by Folk London Magazine

It rattles along merrily and the punk spirit shines through. Singalong choruses are a given

Anja Beinroth, Folk London Magazine

To read the full review, get your copy here.

Reviewed by Fatea Magazine

Never less than thought-provoking, whilst also being highly entertaining, the band who to my mind can be seen as a musical equivalent of Coldwar Steve, indeed the group that can be relied upon to contribute to the soundtrack of the fight against inequality and a better, fairer world, not least because they have something eminently worthwhile to say, deserve a listen.

David Pratt, Fatea Magazine

Read the full review here.

Coming Soon

Yes, you’ve been waiting ages.

But, by means of whetting your appetites for the next full-length studio album and giving us a chance to talk about the future of the COVID songs, here’s a five-track demo EP that’ll at least give those of you who haven’t seen The Family live recently a flavour of what version 7’s all about.

The master copy went off to the printers this morning, so we should have an announcement for you very soon.

Love Orient Hate Racism

“As you know, football is very important to me and I am sure it is to you, but the way that we conduct ourselves is even more important and racism is something that is abhorrent and will never be tolerated. I despise racism, and I want all our fans to know that Leyton Orient will not tolerate it in any shape or form. Every individual, regardless of race, nationality, ethnicity, creed, or sexual orientation is entitled to respect and dignity for whom they are as a person. Leyton Orient is proud of its genuine mix of backgrounds all working toward a common cause.”

–  Nigel Travis, Chairman of Leyton Orient Football Club, 5th September 2019. 1

20200210_170611

Some of this band’s proudest moments have been organising and performing at Love Orient Hate Racism shows, and the next is long overdue but in the pipeline. In the meantime we are pleased to launch our updated LOHR t-shirt, which you can find here: LOHR t-shirts.

Steve

  1. https://www.leytonorient.com/2019/09/05/a-note-from-os-chairman-nigel-travis/

British Cheese for British People

Liz Truss: MP for South West Norfolk, sub-Thatcherite free market fundamentalist, rewarded for her loyalty in Johnson’s Tory leadership campaign by appointment to Secretary of State for International Trade in 2019.

Here she is in 2015, talking about imported cheese:

 

British fish for British plates,
British hates for British mates.
Here’s the church and here’s the steeple,
British cheese for British people.

British trawlers for British waters,
British sons for British daughters,
British deals for British Steel,
British out for a British meal.
Here’s the church and here’s the steeple,
British cheese for British people.

British jobs for British workers,
British shirks for British shirkers,
British porridge for British oats,
British votes for British scrotes,
British films for British viewers,
British kebabs on British skewers.
Here’s the church and here’s the steeple,
British cheese for British people.

British taxis for British ranks,
British porn for British wanks,
British chieftains for British tanks,
British crashes for British banks,
British streets for British homeless,
British hope for British hopeless,
British disease for British diagnosis,
British psyche for British psychosis.
Here’s the church and here’s the steeple,
British cheese for British people.

 

 

The Side of the Fox

Fox Logo

Genuinely written one Boxing Day out of anger and frustration waiting for the hit reports to come in.

As the election approaches, a reminder: there may be no manifesto pledge to repeal the Hunting Act but Boris Johnson is pro-hunt. He repeatedly voted against the ban and even went so far as to suggest hunting urban foxes on horseback. “This will cause massive unpopularity but I don’t care” he quipped. Oh, what a laugh.

Of course Farage is too, it speaks of the imaginary England that he wants to return to, and he supports the violent and bloodthirsty Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent hunt.[1] His decision not to stand in the election is both cowardly and cute, as it frees him up to travel the country campaigning with Brexit Party candidates with no pressure to succeed in his own constituency.

I’m acutely aware that Protest For Dummies, the album that features The Side of the Fox, is approaching it’s third birthday, and that the time, space, finance and recording logistics for the fourth Protest Family studio album are still matters for the future, so, taking them into my own hands, I will attempt to record the band myself over the next few weeks, having learned some valuable lessons in the process of creating solo efforts Snowflake and Fake News From Nowhere.

Fox, due a refresh with drums, is on the list, with another five songs currently in guide track form. Next step is Andi on the kit and then we’ll see.

Wish us luck, and (watch this space).

Steve

Boys and Dogs

[1] https://www.huntsabs.org.uk/index.php/faqs/92-news/press-releases/552-nigel-farage-attends-boxing-day-meet-of-violent-huntsman-again