Tag Archives: The Daily Telegraph

Life as a female rocker

Chantel McGregor at Dorking Halls

Interesting interview with Chantel McGregor, Life as a female rocker, in The Daily Telegraph. Though it’s publised in the “Women’s and Lifestyle” pages, it’s still more about music than half the stuff published in The Guardian’s music pages nowadays.

Chantel explains one reason why there aren’t as many female lead guitarists as their should be; many electric guitars are designed by and for men, and are an awkward shape. As she says, “My guitar’s squashed my boobs for as long as I can remember“.

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Prog, Still Misunderstood?

There’s a well-meaning but flawed piece in the Telegraph about Prog, probably inspired by The Chart Company’s launch of a new progressive music chart. It does namecheck a lot of the new generation of progressive artists such as Big Big Train and Steven Wilson, and make a number of positive points

But there are a few things that suggests he doesn’t know the subject and hasn’t really done his research. The fact that it appears not in the paper’s music section but in the “Mens pages” may be the root of the problem.

First he makes the bizarre claim that Prog originated with Frank Zappa’s 1968 album “Freak Out”, which is a new one on me. Now Zappa’s music in certainly progressive, but he was really a whole genre in his own right. To claim any American artist founded the prog-rock genre ignores the scene’s roots in late 1960s Britain as a generation of musicians wanted to move beyond the limitations of commercial pop music. Prog surely took recognisable form somewhere between The Beatle’s “Sergeant Pepper” and King Crimson’s “In the Court of the Crimson King”.

Then he claims that prog has been dismissed as “too white, male and uncool” for decades. Uncool, certainly, but it’s only in the past few years that anything whose appeal is disproportionately white and male has been regarded with suspicion. But it’s not as if prog has ever been a hotbed of white power anthems or awash with misogynistic imagery. The suggestion that women and non-white people aren’t interested in music you can’t dance to is itself a bit sexist and racist; I know plenty of dedicated female prog fans and musicians who would take great exception to that. And I can’t avoid another mention of the bill at this year’s HRH Prog, where half the bands on the bill had at least one woman in the band, and they were the better half of the bill.

And then there’s a commenter who claims Transatlantic aren’t prog. Where do these people come from?

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Why are we not rioting on the streets?

phones4uWriting in that bastion of free-market conservatism, The Daily Telegraph, Alex Proud looks at the recent collapse of Phones 4U, and asks why aren’t the British middle-classes staging a revolution? He paints a grim picture of the endgame of late-stage capitalism.

Phones4U was bought by the private equity house, BC Partners, in 2011 for £200m. BC then borrowed £205m and, having saddled the company with vast amounts of debt, paid themselves a dividend of £223m. Crippled by debt, the company has now collapsed into administration.

The people who crippled it have walked away with nearly £20m million, while 5,600 people face losing their jobs. The taxman may also be stiffed on £90m in unpaid VAT and PAYE. It’s like a version of 1987’s Wall Street on steroids, the difference being that Gordon Gecko wins at the end and everyone shrugs and says, “Well, it’s not ideal, but really we need guys like him.”

I’m not financially sophisticated enough to understand the labyrinthine ins and outs of private equity deals. But I don’t think I need to be. Here, my relative ignorance is actually a plus. You took a viable company, ran up ridiculous levels of debt, paid yourselves millions and then walked away, leaving unemployment and unpaid tax bills in your wake. What’s to understand? We should be calling for your heads on a plate.

People like this are being allowed to loot the economy with impunity, and they’ve being allowed to get away with it because they’re being protected by the political establishment, which has allowed itself to be bought. It explains why nobody was prosecuted for fraud in the wake of the 2008 banking crisis, and there has been no tightening of the lax regulations that allowed this crisis to happen.

It’s exactly the same as the declining cities in parts of Italy and the United States where The Mafia has its hooks in goverment and bleeds the local economies dry. The only difference is The Mafia kill those who oppose them, and the private equity houses haven’t (yet) crossed that line.

The mantra is we must coddle the rich because they’re “wealth creators”. But this mantra comes from the paid shills of these thieves and from their useful idiots who have read too much Ayn Rand. But, as the Phones4U collapse shows, this is a lie. They don’t create wealth, they merely steal it.  As as for them being “job creators”, don’t make me laugh.

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