Kate Bush announces live album “Before the Dawn”

Kate Bush has announced the live album “Before the Dawn”, which will be available on 3 CDs or 4 vinyl records, released on November 26th. Recorded during her sold-out residency at the Hammersmith Apollo in 2004, it’s all completely live with no overdubs.

The tracklist is as follows:


Hounds of Love
Top of the City
Never Be Mine
Running Up That Hill
King of the Mountain


Astronomer’s Call (Spoken monologue)
And Dream of Sheep
Under Ice
Waking the Witch
Watching Them Without Her ( dialogue)
Watching You Without Me
Little Light
Jig Of Life
Hello Earth
The Morning Fog


An Architect’s Dream
The Painter’s Link
Aerial Tal
Somewhere In Between
Tawny Moon
Among Angels

You can pre-order the CD here and the Vinyl here 

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Jeremy Corbyn and Seumas Milne as Good Cop, Bad Cop?

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, James Kirkup suggests we should blame Jeremy Corbyn rather than Seamas Mlne for Labour’s poison,

Treating Seumas Milne as the evil genius controlling a hapless Jeremy Corbyn lets Mr Corbyn off the hook, and perpetuates the idea that he is some sort of ingenue, too unworldly and witless to know what that nasty men around him do in his name. A tool of men like Mr Milne and John McDonnell, not their leader.

And of course, that idea is false. Mr Corbyn is the Labour leader and an adult in full possession of his faculties. He bears responsibility for the actions taken by those who work for him.

If Mr Milne poisons and knifes, he does so with Mr Corbyn’s authority and permission. If Momentum’s online thugs abuse and threaten female MPs and Jewish members of the Labour Party, they do so with Mr Corbyn’s approval.

It’s a good point. A lot of us have boight into the myth of Jeremy Corbyn as a decent honourable man led astray by the thuggish Seamas Milne, when the evidence suggests otherwise.

Perhaps it’s more a case the pair of them playing “Good cop, Bad cop” while working closely together?

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Duski album pre-order

duski-cover-art Swansea jazz-proggers Duski are now taking pre-orders for their self-titled début album, released on or around 12th Octover, available either as a digital download or a limited editoon CD.

For a taste of how they sound, the track Simple Song, which appears on the album, is available to stream right now.

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Schrödinger’s Brexit

Ever since June, we have been a nation in limbo. The government doesn’t have a clue. The opposition has abdicated entirely. The one party with a coherent position has just eight seats in the House of Commons.

Every single time either of the three pro-Leave cabinet ministers says anything about Britain’s future relationship with Europe, they’re immediately slapped down by the Prime Minister and we’re told whatever they say doesn’t represent government policy. But if you try to ask about the actual government policy, you soon realise that there isn’t one.

Aside from repeating the meaningless mantra “Brexit means Brexit”, Theresa May’s only policy seems to be avoid making any irreversible decision until some sort of consensus emerges that she can sell both to her own party and to the country at large. At the moment there doesn’t seem to be any position that significant factions won’t consider as a betrayal. I fear that she will put short term party unity ahead of the interests of the country if her hand is forced.

If we had a competent opposition, they’d be making mincemeat of this lot. But unfortunately the Labour Party appears to have been eaten alive from the inside by parasitic wasps. Not to mention that they too as as divided as the Tories on the issue, and that division cuts through the party’s electoral base.

A recent opinion poll showed that 62% of the electorate are not prepared to pay any economic costs in order to reduce migration. It’s hard to interpret that as anything other that a lack of public support for a so-called “Hard Brexit”. When push comes to shove, a strong majority will accept freedom of movement in return for the retaining the benefits of the Single Market. But will the hardliners on the Tory right accept this?

At the moment the country risk sleepwalking into a hard Brexit. It’s up to those of us who don’t want that to happen to push that option out of the Overton Window.

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Black Bridge

This will be the prototype for the first of the photo planks, a short  section of the famous sea wall berween Dawlish and Dawlish Warren. The modelled section will be a slightly telescoped rendition of the secion where the train is on the picture, with the footbridge marking one end of the scebe.


Here’s the same location from Google Earth, and with a 12″ module depth it looks as though the buildings on the upper level on the left of the picture are close enough to the tracks to be part of the scene.  Not that my photo is taken with a telephoto lens shooting parallel to the coast, and those buildings are, as the above image shows, directly behind the train.

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What is Criticism For?

Thiis comment left on Jeffro’s Space Gaming Blog resonated very strongly with me

Being a good critic takes a lot of courage of a certain kind, I think. Perhaps this is why I don’t write a lot of reviews of more contemporary media. Especially for critics who fraternize with the writers they’re charged with reviewing (of course they same applies with video games or what have you), I think it can be difficult to write honest criticism and there is the temptation to inflate positives. Hell, these pressures are even present when you don’t personally know the creator. I’ve reviewed or wanted to review games I’ve played where it pained me to list negatives because I really liked or sympathized with the developers.

I’m reminded of that line in the film “Almost Famous”, when Lester Bangs tells the novice music journalist “These people are not your friends”.

When you’re on first name terms with some of the people you’re reviewing, there’s always the potential for conflicts of interest. No matter how much you try to be objective, once you know the people involved it does change the way you perceive their music.

When you’re writing enthusiastic positive reviews, they’ll always love you, but if you say something critical you can sometimes find out how professionally they handle it the hard way. Nowadays I’ve got a self-imposed rule that I’ll restrict strongly negative reviews to artists I don’t know personally and am unlikely to meet, and will decline to review albums or gigs by people I know if I think they’re sub-standard. I haven’t always followed that rule in the past, but the damage it can do to relationships just isn’t worth it.

The linked blog post raises wider questions, which it doesn’t really answer, over what criticism is supposed to be for. I’m a strong believer in critic-as-curator, someone who sifts through the dross and tells the world about the good stuff that might otherwise have flown beneath people’s radar.

There’s a place for criticism highlighting where artists can improve, but I’ve not got much time for critic-as-gatekeeper, or worse, critic-as-would-be-censor. The most obnoxious failure mode of rock criticism is the sneering dismissive review by someone with no love or understanding of what the artist is trying to do, that challenges their work’s right to exist. Too much mainstream music press coverage of progressive rock by people steeped in the thirty year old revisionist punk narrative falls into that trap.

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What now for the British Centre-Left?

So, as was widely predicted, Jeremy Corbyn has been re-elected as Labour leader.

The YouGov exit poll is quite telling, and reveals the extent to which Labour has been the victim of a successful infiltration and take-over by the far left. 60% of those who were Labour members before May 2015 voted for Owen Smith, while 83% of those who joined after the May election defeat voted for Jeremy Corbyn

It does look as though the hard left has assumed total control, and given that Corbyn’s supporters do not seem to care about winning general elections, not even a thumping defeat at the hands of the Tories in 2020 is likely to shake their faith. The bastard offspring of 70s sectarian Trotskyism and millennial Tumblr identity politics is not interested in reality, only the mantras repeated within their bubble. It’s more a religious cult than a political party, every election defeat can be explained away by blaming the unbelievers.

Where does that leave the British centre-left? And more importantly, where does this leave the Liberal Democrats?

I have a strong suspicion that we’re only in the early stages of a much bigger political realignment in which existing parties will break up or change out of recognition, and new parties will emerge. A lot depends on what happens to the Tory party in the coming months and years.

The expected post-referendum implosion of the Tories hasn’t happened only because Theresa May has carefully avoided taking an actual position on implementing the result that referendum. The moment she comes unequivocally down on either side on the Single Market vs. Hard Brexit question, there’s a good chance that half the party will see the decision as betrayal. If that happens it will be hard for any leader to hold the party together.

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Marillion’s F E A R

Reviews of F E A R

My review of Marillion’s F E A R has now been published in The Guardian, not just in the online edition but in Friday’s print edition as well.

And yes, the album really is that good.

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Riverside: And The There Were Three

Riverside have made a statement on the future of the band after the tragic untimely death of guitarist Piotr Grudziński.

We have decided that we are not going to do a casting for a new guitarist. Thus we have ceased to be a quartet and have become a trio. In this line-up we will prepare our new studio album. Both in the recording studio and on tour – if we get back to touring – we will be playing with session guitarists, who are our friends, whom we know and like. But the line-up of Riverside will be as shown in the picture.

Yes, we do realise that this is not going to be the same band. We know that for many of you the story of Riverside ends here, this year, and that “Eye of the Soundscape” might be the last Riverside album you’ll buy. We know that some of you can’t imagine this band without the characteristic guitar of Piotr Grudziński and for you Riverside has ceased to exist. But our story is not over yet; with a flaw, with a scar, with a wealth of new experiences, we have decided to go on.

The band will be working on a new album, which may be “heavier and more intense”. In the meantime there’s the instrumental album “Eye of the Soundscape” combining music previously released as bonus material for earlier albums along with some brand new tracks,

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Poisonous Memes

The use of these images is not an endorsement of their conent

Was there ever a better illustration of the Horseshoe Effect than this?

Let’s get one thing out of the way first. The one on the left, as awful as it is, is orders of magnitude less objectively harmful than the one on the right. The Trump campaign ad is shouting-Fire-in-a-crowded-theatre levels of dangerous. The radfem meme is merely offensive, and is most unlikely to lead to gangs with sea-green hair roaming the streets in search of low-status men to beat up. In its original incarnation it had little impact beyond the echo chambers of Tumblr and Twitter.

But that doesn’t let their meme off the hook. It’s still ugly and dehumanising, and I do have a problem with value systems that see that sort of bigotry as acceptable because reasons. But more importantly, Trumpism and the alt-right didn’t happen in a vacuum. In so many ways their identity politics of the disenfranchised is a mirror image of the dehumanising identity politics of the regressive left, and has risen as a reaction against it. So it’s hardly surprising they’ve started copying the regressive left’s most toxic memes.

And as this well-written piece explains, the whole “Poisonous M&Ms” analogy is nonsense that cynucally targets our lizard brains, and relies on the inability to understand statistics or risk in a remotely rational manner.

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