Posts Tagged This is England

NEW MUSIC: Black Tartan Clan and Anglo-Saxon

Over the past month I have come across two albums by hitherto unknown bands: Anglo-Saxon and the Black Tartan Clan. One of the beauties of the internet is the ease with which unsigned bands are now able to showcase their work on websites like MySpace, Facebook and YouTube for anyone in the world to find.

The Black Tartan Clan take the ‘bagrock’ of the popular Red Hot Chilli Pipers a step further with their ‘Celtic Punk’ sound, a hard-edged foot-stomping fusion of pipes, drums bass guitar and pulsating punk rhythms.
Sounds terrific, you might think, so whereabouts in Scotland do these lads hail from? That’s the odd thing. The band was formed in 2008 in Belgium of all places! Despite this, they sing in English and have managed to gather a popular following in Scotland itself where they have played a few gigs in places as far apart as Kirkwall and Dumfries.
The Black Tartan Clan has followed its last album Boots, Kilts’n’Pipes with a superb 20-track double CD, The Loyal Men. On this album you’ll find the band’s take on such bagpipe standards as Highland Cathedral, The Hills of Argyll and Amazing Grace sitting along their own original songs and covers of some old punk hits from the days of my youth. Their version of Sham 69’s If the Kids are United will have you wanting to get up and dance till you drop.
Check out the band on MySpace where you can listen to a few sample tracks. They even have a couple of videos up on YouTube. Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band it ain’t but it is a lot of fun!

By contrast, Anglo-Saxon isn’t having quite so much fun. The band’s recent album Endangered Species brings together rock’n’roll, folk and metal styles to decry the state of modern England and make a passionate stand for what is right. Lead singer Gary Marsden had the unnerving experience of having his house raided by police because of a complaint made about one of the songs which, for good measure, is offered in both a live mix version and an unaccompanied acoustic versionon this album. This song criticised the 7/7 bombers and the attitudes that spawned them in the lyrics,
They took the passport and the Pound
but then they bombed the Underground
but they’ll never destroy the land of hope and glory

Two other songs, This is not a Crusade and Lest we Forget 7/7 explore similar themes. You might have thought that such sentiments are self-evidently true, and in the end no charges were bought against the songwriter. However, he has suffered for his art and for telling the truth as he saw it; he has lost his job and has had some difficulty getting another one.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. There’s some nifty guitar work in this album Look out for the original song This Thing Called Rock’n’Roll and a fine version of the traditional folksong, Scarborough Fair. As is the case with the Black Tartan Band, you can also access Anglo-Saxon on MySpace and YouTube. This album and individual tracks can be downloaded on iTunes or you can get a physical CD from the band’s website.


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Film & DVD Review: This is England

This is England

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I remember the hype about this film; if I recall lots of hand wringing…was it meant to be edgy? Cutting edge? Challenging? Celebrating racism?! Boy, O boy – partly autobiographical i.e. not written by a middle-class student or sixth-former! Wooden acting, stereotypical characters – lots of warnings on Film Four following each commercial break -yes the language was “bad” but NOTHING about this film was gritty, subtle, multi-dimensional, worrying, questioning, thought-provoking…I can’t get over the auto-biographical slant – otherwise it was a film I would have expected to be made by middle-class folk who have never lived on a “sink-estate” about working-class characters they’ve never met and about politics they haven’t got a clue about or any sense of how those politics might take hold of the dispossessed. Just one cliché after another. It got a bit “edgier” towards the end – all I can say is, thank God I didn’t waste my money at the flics. As for the end – little Shaun (by the way what was the paedophile thing going on – or does paedophilia only occur if the GIRL is young! Where were the Film Four warnings about this? I digress!) – the end: “symbolic” – the Cross of  St.George flag tossed in to the sea – was there a flag so maligned by its own nation’s artists me wonders? Is it not possible to write a film script/play/novel that deals with working-class politics (non –“left”) that uncovers truths beyond the cliché? Any producers out there, I’m yer man! I could do a better job and I’d put my pen where my mouth is!!!  So – not impressed…doubly not impressed because against the backdrop of the Falkland’s war (and therefore of relevance NOW with Afghanistan/Iraq) and with the rise of “far-right” politics (could these politics be dealt with so lazily in this modern technological age?) this film should REALLY have hit home – got me deep down and provoked a multitude of thoughts – not just these negative ones. I guess the only thing to say about the film (was it really so raved about?) – is that the political-skinhead didn’t have a homosexual affair (see how many times THAT one happens) or discover he was – in fact – an ethnic minority or his granddad was Jewish. I’m not suggesting any of these things work, are subtle or even help the cause of all of us rubbing-along on this tiny isle. It’s simply that when it comes to any artistic offering on the “far-right” we never get something “focussed” just looked at “askance” with the eyes and intellect of a schoolboy. Well it got me typing at least…The French made a great film about racial tension called “La Haine” – I still recall that years after watching – it had an effect. It lodged inside me. This film will be forgotten (by me) come morning. O, and as a musician – the clumsy inclusion of piano notes and strings at times was…No I’m lost for words – cue violin and piano to end review!

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