Thursday, 7 November 2013

To Mr Brand......and to a lesser extent Mr Webb

I could be talking to myself but this Is what I want to say to Russell Brand.  Mr Brand you are right, the political classes are no longer representing the people.  We have swayed hugely from the constituency based model where MPs were our representatives to where we try and pick a party that might in someway represent some of what we think we might like or worse still we choose to vote negatively against what we definitely don't want. And all these party members are subject to the whip (insert your own joke here about politicians and whips).  As for Mr Webb, he is not looking at how the state chooses to parent your children, telling you when they should learn about sex, drugs or whatever, driving them towards the academic path when the vocational  may be better.  If only he had understood the Orwell that he read, he would understand that our children are already being stolen from their beds.....not in body, but in mind and agenda, one so pervasive that it often corrupts those out to change it.

Mr Brand I see the need for revolution, but revolution need not be rebellion.  Not voting is waving a white flag saying "whatever" a completely passive aggressive response to something that needs change.  Wee need independents free of party affiliation who can vote and advocate with conviction who can hear the voice and heartbeat of their community above the monotonous white noise of "The Party".  You can be the voice that calls them to arms, yours the banner under which they stand.  You don't need to be the prime minister just the catalyst to change the political landscape. Independents could hold the balance of power rather than party men, keeping constituency politics alive.

I realise there is a whole world of work to be done to sift and select candidates. I'll help, I'll bring others to help and when it's done we can all walk away, leaving the independents to be just that. We need change in just one electoral cycle to see a change to how we perceive politics and politicians to take better ownership of their selection.

Sincerely, get stuck in, promote the change and people will gather around to stand with you.

Make the change Mr Brand, make the change.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

A dedicated follower of fashion.....

In 1966 The Kinks recorded Dedicated Follower of Fashion, not one of my favourite Kinks songs but instantly recognisable to anyone who like music from that era.  Personally I prefer Lazy Sunday Afternoon not least because it was a good friends never failing go to song when one too many "soda pops" had been drunk.

Don't worry I am not about to critique the back catalog of The Kinks, I am more interested in the lyrics... well actually the character in the song.  The dedicated follower of fashion intrigues me, he's still alive and maybe some of the addresses that the dedicated follower of fashion must visit have changed but his pilgrimage remains the same from store to store; magazine page to magazine page keeping up with the where fashion is is now at.  The guy is a disciple of fashion... he seeks out what the current move of fashion is and immerses himself in it, drinks it in, lives and breathes it.  There are peoples and groups in the world that have turned being a disciple into a passive be discipled..... it is done to them.  They then create a present participle....discipling.....and expect that this should be done by others. 

At no point does the disciple of fashion expect things to be done to him or for him.  He does not attend lectures, or one to one seminars on how to be more fashionable. He expects to be where fashion is at, go out and grab the latest trends and the latest news of what's hot and what is not, have the latest album downloaded, know the newest unsigned act, have a retweet from the star themselves.  Being a disciple is an active thing.....who on earth made it passive!?!?  I am not going to point fingers......I am just saying...... ACTIVE!

I don't know if the bible borrowed disciple from elsewhere or vice versa it doesn't really matter the thing I wanted to point out is that Jesus did not sit his disciples down and do Torah studies that I can see.  Nor did he have a 52 week course of study for them. He did not provide opportunities for them to practice where he was working he sent them away to do their own thing. That is not what made them disciples.

They followed, they asked questions, they tried to replicate, they followed more, they watched, they fought to be closest to him.  They actively pursued where he was at physically, spiritually and emotionally.  What made them follow him was the amazing life and love that went with him, certainly when I came to faith in 2007 it was not the "rules" about sex before marriage, drunkenness, or the like nor  the idea of hell, nor the moral rightness of christianity that persuaded me it was actually seeing just how beautiful Jesus was.  Something that people have seen for generations even the likes of Ghandi who didn't share a faith with him that I am aware of.  Since then I have, sometimes more sometimes less, tried to be where Jesus is at, at the edge following him in the crazy paths that have woven across my life.  I have been in places where there seemed no God and I have sought him out in the quiet place of my heart and sought him out in the craziness and joy of the highlights of my life and  built a very real and personal relationship, digging a well of friendship that won't run dry (something I have been pants at with other friendships if I am honest).  I am the disciple because I follow and sure in following I have been taught, corrected, disciplined, built encouraged and all the things people mean when they are asking to be discipled but only because I was there following when it got handed out.  I have missed way more probably because I was not following when it got handed out.

When you look at the disciple like this it makes Matthew 28 go and make disciples of all nations sound a whole load of different.  When you can't do it  to someone you just a have to be beautiful, so attractive that people just want to follow you...not just people ....nations.  How beautiful do you have to be for that.  I am back on Ghandi again: "if all christians were like christ India would have believed"you have to be some kind of beautiful!!!

Friday, 26 July 2013

All Killer....No Filler.... The Torwalt Kids Nail the art of the Album

The Sony HF-S90
90 minutes of mixtape mayhem!
Back when I was a kid you bought albums,  I am young enough that most of my purchase were cassette and not vinyl but old enough that I think buying albums on cassette means you are young.... you all know what a cassette is right?  Anyway it's not about the hardware it's about the's all about the music baby!!

Back then when cassettes were the new thing and you just hoped you didn't stretch the tape by rewinding and replaying your favourite track bands used to record albums with variety.  A metal band would have a couple of anthems, a power ballad or two (metal heads can be romantics too), a fast one and then a couple of other.....well fillers.  This wasn't just metal, the new romantics, ska and pretty much most pop went for a formula of an album with 3 singles worth of top music then some other experimental stuff that the band had written, that may or may not be like the stuff on that got them into the singles chart.  Somewhere along the line record execs started deciding what went into albums and used demographics....and probably the then equivalent of word clouds.... to select the content of albums and they became a unidimensional reflection of their buying public rather than.....well rather than an attempt to broaden a bands musical horizon in a sonic adventure.

But back in the day you wanted to now that an album was all killer and no filler meaning every track had something for you..... I give you......

This album is genuinely all killer no filler - Old School Style.  This is a true album and I for one want to stand on a table somewhere and applaud them.  Bryan has one of those voices that has you saying "oh he's a little like......." but then you change who is like with every song.  If you like the folky earthy feel of Mumford and Sons you'll love this chap; or if you like the troubadour talent of Damien Rice (but better) -he has that talent of singing just a nanosecond off the actual time of the song.  The sharp breaths at the beginning of each phrase lending something to the sound that you can't quite pick.....don't know what I mean check out the first 30 seconds of Holy Spirit.... but it is special nonetheless.

Katie Torwalt has a huge mountain to climb in terms of expectation because I grew up with Shirley Bassey, Suzi Quattro, Janis Joplin and Grace Slick - she however nails it.  Interestingly her voice is far harder to compare but it is like the gilding on their harmonies - maybe Sara Watkins but with a lower range that is made of honey covered notes - something a little bit country.  There is too much music out there now with women trying to power through the full 5 minutes of a track, Katie's voice is beautifully natural and any power is delivered to be a highlight rather than batter you into aural submission. "I see Heaven" is probably the track that you want to check out if you want to hear Katie in full flight!

What makes this a great album beyond the individual performances is the soundscapes they build and the range of music and even instrumentation they use.  "Sing Holy" will have you yelling along and then dropping back into places of reflection; it will change the atmosphere of a room and when it fades to silence you will want to stay there indefinitely.  "Nothing Holding Me Back" is the track for you if you are caught up in the New British Folk scene Mumford and Sons, Laura Marling watch out this couple are writing beautiful harmonies and melodies that will draw you in. A truly magical track.  In fact M&S you should take this couple on tour!!  At the other end of the scale you have the huge and theatrical "Let The Sound of Heaven", this will have all the air drummers bashing away at air cymbals everywhere!  I could write a little bit about every track, the trill in Katie's voice in "Glorious" another theatrical epic with choral sing-a-long ability,  the tub thumping romp of "He is Faithful".......Bryan must have been listening to heaps of William Matthews before recording this I had to make a double take of the ears!

My song of the album though is undoubtedly - "You Saved My Soul", light, airy, wistful, simply brilliant.  There is not a track on this album that you won't find something beautiful in: the carefully crafted lyrics, to the ornate and sculptured percussion, the "whole food" chord progressions.  There really aren't enough superlatives for this album.

It truly wins and ALL KILLER NO FILLER AWARD!!