The Queen of England is popping over to Ireland for a few days and her visit has been greeted with fascination, hatred and indifference. Personally, I fall into the latter camp. I’ve always regarded the British royal family as something of a sitcom and have never been too bothered by them. I’m sure I’d have a lot in common with working class English males who cannot relate to royalty’s sense of unearned privilege. To this end, I’ve always been a big fan of two songs written by Englishmen with Irish roots
Last year, I wrote a post about about the 250th anniversary of Arthur Guinness’s decision to lease out the St. James’s Gate brewery in Dublin and his success at developing an alcoholic beverage that has become synonymous with Ireland and Irishness. I thought it would be just a once-off, but Arthur’s Day (as it was called) has returned again this year. I guess Guinness need all the marketing they can get. So, I’ve decided to do my bit to assist this cottage industry by spreading the word again. It seems that most of Ireland’s main urban areas will be offering promotions and putting on live music to commemorate the day (and to get thirsty punters to spend their cash in their pubs, of course). I won’t actually be taking part in these celebrations myself as I have a big day ahead of me tomorrow. I need to ensure that I don’t wake up with a hangover in the morning and the only way to do that is to stay away from beer and pubs tonight. You see, I’m going to be babysitting my two nephews tomorrow and the next day. Neither of them are babies and there won’t be much sitting involved, so I’m going to need to have my wits about me. Instead, I’m going to spend the day listening to drinking songs. Here are a few that come from some seasoned veterans as well as a new kid on the block. I’d like to dedicate these to the Gilday family in Ohio who know a thing or two about drunken lullabies. Sláinte!
Today marks a day of celebration and commemoration for some of my favourite musical figures. The American singer-songwriters Amanda Palmer and Willie Nelson both celebrate their birthdays. Amanda turns 34 while the legend that is Willie is a sprightly 77! Eighteen years ago, the influential rock critic Lester Bangs overdosed on tranquilisers in New York city at the age of 33. A year later, 70-year-old bluesman Muddy Waters died in his sleep in Westmont, Illinois. And, in the last few hours, it has been announced that the Irish TV and radio presenter Gerry Ryan has died in his sleep at his home in Dublin, aged just 53. This song goes out to anybody who is celebrating a birth or commemorating the passing of a life on this day
When Oil City Confidential, Julien Temple’s film about pub rockers Dr Feelgood, was given a limited UK cinema release in February, I must admit that I read its excellent reviews with some envy. I would have loved to have seen Temple’s documentary, his, if you will, rockumentary on the big screen, but I knew that my local cinema would never screen such a wonderful film. I thought I’d have to wait until its June 14th release on DVD, so imagine my surprise and delight when I learned that BBC Four will be screening the film tonight. Oil City Confidential is the third in Temple’s trilogy of music documentaries about three of the most energetic and influential English groups of the seventies. It follows on from The Filth and the Fury (2000), about The Sex Pistols, and The Future is Unwritten (2007), about Joe Strummer, one of the founding members of The Clash. Dr Feelgood formed prior to both the Pistols and The Clash, but never attained the same level of fame and notoriety as the two leading lights of British punk
Malcolm McLaren has died in Switzerland aged 64 from a rare form of cancer. He was best known as manager of The Sex Pistols and had briefly managed The New York Dolls prior to that and Bow Wow Wow afterwards. He was also a performer in his own right and was involved in the fashion industry. Nevertheless, it was his hugely influential role in shaping the career of The Sex Pistols for which he will be most remembered. After dropping out of college in the early 70s, London-born McLaren ran a fashion boutique in his native city where he encountered The New York Dolls and followed them back to their native city where he became their manager. This venture was not very successful and he returned to London and the fashion business. In the mid-70s, he put together a band that would become The Sex Pistols with the arrival of John Lydon as lead singer. McLaren helped to create the image of the Pistols and punk rock by clothing the band with items from his store. The band built up a following and were signed to EMI in late 1976. The Pistols quickly achieved notoriety when they appeared live on an afternoon show on Thames Television. Goaded by the show’s presenter, Bill Grundy, the band’s foul-mouthed behaviour made the newspapers the following day, even though the show was only broadcast in London
The increasingly difficult economic situation in Ireland in recent times has brought with it the threat of industrial action amongst the nation’s dwindling workforce. But spare a thought for the employees at the home of one of Scandinavia’s most famous exports. Carlsberg is the fourth largest brewery group in the world and are based in Denmark’s capital city. 45,000 people around the world work for the company, but some of their Copenhagen employees are none too pleased at the moment. One of the perks of working there is that employees get free water, soft drinks and, most importantly, free beer. Up to recently, drivers and warehouse workers had been allowed to drink up to three beers outside of lunch hours (I presume they could down as many as they wanted during their lunch break). My understanding is that it was only the manual workers who were entitled to these additional cold beverages. After all, they would be more likely to build up a thirst doing their job and would also have greater access to the product than their co-workers in the offices. Well, no more. Management at the company have introduced new rules that prohibit the consumption of alcohol during working hours. These extreme measures came into effect on Wednesday and caused around 800 workers to down their, er, bottles and walk out. By yesterday, one third of those protestors were still revolting. Their actions mean that distribution of beer from Copenhagen and around Denmark will be affected. Free beer is still on the menu at lunchtime, but locks have been placed on Carlsberg trucks in an effort to cut down on drinking and driving, Danish-style. Carlsberg don’t do industrial dispute resolutions but if they did, they’d probably be the best in the world
The finalists for the 2010 Irish Blog Awards were announced this weekend and Town Full of Losers lived up to its name by losing out in all three categories for which it was nominated. I must admit that I was delighted to be nominated in three categories and I hope to be back next year. Congratulations to all the other nominees and to the finalists in each category. And a big thanks to all the judges and organisers for all the work they put in over the last few months. The winners will be announced at this weekend’s awards ceremony in Galway
To put it simply, the Hype Machine keeps track of what music bloggers write about. We handpick a set of kickass music blogs and then present what they discuss for easy analysis, consumption and discovery. This way, your odds of stumbling into awesome music or awesome blogs are high.
Cool, eh? I’ve been on the list of another music blog aggregator, Elbo.ws, for the past year and it’s brought a lot of new readers to the site. I’d like to welcome any new readers from The Hype Machine and hope you like what you see. And a big hello to all my old (and not-so-old) readers as well. Here are some tunes to celebrate!