2019 must go down in politics as a really sad year for anyone who describes themselves as a progressive. That the UK has become more isolationist and racist is regretfully a given but for me as a passionate internationalist our frankly bizarre decision to become at best semi-detached from our European neighbours both economically and politically is profoundly depressing. I’m reminded of the play ‘Brick up the Mersey Tunnel’ as 2019 could easily be the start of us, at least in the abstract, bricking up the Channel Tunnel.
Anyway here’s my year; some big issues, some matters close to my heart and some personal reflections:-
January – Elected Mayors – too many and too costly – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/01/20/metro-mayor-tax-another-call-on-your-pocket/
February – Why we have a housing crisis on our hands – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/02/20/council-housing-social-housing-housing-associations-whats-gone-wrong-and-why-we-have-a-housing-crisis-on-our-hands/
March – HS2 the Brexit of the railway world – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/03/16/being-anti-hs2-is-a-bit-like-brexit-its-all-about-the-rose-tinted-past/
April – Rotten Boroughs – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/04/23/local-elections-are-rotten-boroughs-creeping-back-into-out-creaking-democracy/
As an aside I still remember a remark made to me on the day that I became Leader of Sefton Council in 2004. It was in the form of a question to me along the lines of ‘what’s the most important thing for the Leader of Sefton Council to do? Answer – Keep the Council out of the ‘Rotten Boroughs’ page of Private Eye!
Michael Portillo with Frank Hornby Trust Chairman Les French as seen on TV.
May – Time to celebrate in 2020 – 100 years of Hornby ‘O’ Gauge trains – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/05/27/maghull-2020-will-be-100-years-since-the-towns-most-famous-resident-brought-his-o-gauge-trains-to-the-market/
June – Still getting the local housing market wrong! – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/06/22/sefton-council-draft-strategic-housing-market-assessment-update-2019/
I realise that the link within the article no longer works
July – Co-option is not democratic, just stop it – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/07/14/melling-theres-a-price-to-pay-for-democracy-but-surely-its-better-than-co-option/
August – Air conditioning in shops and cafes an environmental disaster – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/08/26/supermarkets-cafes-shops-turn-down-or-even-better-turn-off-your-air-conditioning-shut-that-fridge-door/
September – A look back at New Heartlands in Bootle – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/09/04/bootle-newheartlands-pathfinder-housing-initiative-a-look-back/
October – The late great Isaac Hayes with Donald Byrd – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/10/25/isaac-hayes-the-master-jointly-cut-a-track-id-missed-back-in-1981/
November – Norman – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/11/06/norman/
December – Tactical voting (by progressives) did not work – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/12/16/why-peoples-vote-and-other-tackical-voting-orgs-sites-got-so-much-wrong/
So that, for me, was 2019 – a year when housing policy/practice remained far removed from the reality of our housing crisis, when the very real crisis of climate change took a back seat to the made up crisis of Brexit and when the crisis within progressive politics was exposed as much by our warped electoral system as by the lack of leadership from progressives. A year to forget unless of course you back the politics of the right and far right…….
If you’re of a certain age this could have been the theme tune to your youth if you were into soul music in 1973:-
Barry White, sometimes referred to as the poor man’s Isaac Hayes, with his only well known instrumental track which still sounds great many years on from its launch into music legend.
Just take a minute to look at all those session musicians in the orchestra. They probably earned just a few Dollars for their performance whilst White would have been cashing it in so to speak.
A piece that Maghull Wind Orchestra could take on I wonder?
I thought I’d heard pretty much everything out there that Isaac Hayes had had a hand in but I’ve recently come across an Album by Trumpeter Donald Byrd which was produced by Hayes back in 1981. The album’s called Love Byrd and for me there’s one stand out track called ‘Feel like lovin you today’ and it’s pure Hayes at his very best with the horn of Byrd being quite beautiful.
Here’s a link to the track on You Tube
and here’s a link to Wikipedia all about the album:-
Isaac plays piano, Fender Rhodes, vibraphone, percussion, synthesizer on the album but the other tracks don’t really hit the spot for me. Hayes pioneered the use of brass and strings on soul music tracks so a collaboration with trumpeter Byrd should be no surprise, however, it took me 38 years to find it!
* The lead photo is a scan of the front page of Hayes’ tour brochure of the UK in 1978 when I saw him at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall and then again at the Liverpool Empire. The latter gig, if memory serves, was added on to the tour (there may have been other additions too) due to the success of the previous concerts but Liverpool could only half fill the Empire whereas the Free Trade Hall was full. Photographer unknown.
** Hayes and Byrd are both deceased
My good friend and fellow blogger Phil Holden often posts about music and occasionally I do too. In recent times I have really begun to appreciate that the only way you can tell really great musicians is by how they perform live, so here are my 10 best live performances, in no particular order:-
Bobby Womack – I Wish He Didn’t Trust Me So Much
Candy Dulfer – Don’t Go
Isaac Hayes & Soul II Soul – Papa was a Rollin’ Stone
Cris Rea – Josephine
Joan Osborne & The Funk Brothers – What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted
Snake Davis Band – Going home – Theme from Local Hero
Isaac Hayes – ‘Your love is so doggone good’ from Wattstax 1972
I can’t track down a live video of this song so here’s the album version which, whilst being good, does not have the raw energy of the live performance at Wattstax in 1972 that’s available on CD
Keiko Matsui – Forever, Forever
The Rippingtons – She likes to watch
Bob James – Mind Games
For a bit on context I’ve seen Issac Hayes, The Rippingtons, Chris Rea, The Funk Brothers, Bob James and The Snake Davis Band live over the years.
The other day I was asked by friends Brian Keoghan and Chris Reilly what my favourite song/tune of all time is.
I found it hard to answer at the time as there are so many great songs that I like but after some consideration I am plumping for Isaac Hayes live version of ‘Your love is so doggone good’ written by Difosco Ervin & Rudy Love. The version I refer to is the one from Isaac’s set at Wattstax in 1972. There’s a studio version of it on his Black Moses double album of 1971 but I like the raw energy of the one from the Wattstax set.
Here’s a link to Isaac’s Wattstax album, the track is at 20min 30sec.*
If you want to know about the significance of the Wattstax concerts this Wikipedia link is quite informative:-
* Sadly the youtube video has since been deleted
Without having to think too deeply my life heroes will easily trip off my tongue; music – Isaac Hayes, cricket – Derek Randall and 2 Kennedy’s (Ludovic and Charles).
Isaac Hayes introduced me to soul and funk around 1970 and I never tire of listening to his music, especially when driving. To Be Continued must be the best of his albums; strings, brass and his deep southern cotton belt voice.
Derek Randall was the jack in a box Nottinghamshire cricketer who played many test matches for England. Probably the best fielder of his generation world-wide I loved to watch him on TV, although Geoff Boycott broke my heart when he ran Derek out at Trent Bridge!
But what about the 2 Kennedy blokes and no one was not a former President of the USA. My Kennedy chaps are Ludovic and of course Charles. Ludovic’s writings brought home to me two things, that our legal/justice system gets things horribly wrong at times and he opened my eyes (which were already hugely sceptical of religion) to being an atheist.
Charles Kennedy was probably the best left of centre political leader that we have seen in the UK in a very long time and like the former Truro MP David Penhaligon he did not seem to have a genuine enemy in the world. When Charles died earlier this year the world stopped and took notice for a moment. This was not just another party political hack that had died it was Charles Kennedy.
The link at the top of this posting is to a memorial lecture given by former Orkney and Shetland MP Jim Wallace in praise of Charles Kennedy. It is long but if you have the time it is worth the time.