Chin Up England

You can claim you’re not arsed about this summer’s World Cup, but we all know that’s bollocks. 

International football tournaments are indisputably brilliant. 

Pound shops everywhere are dusting off the left over car flags from 2006, that prick from work has pulled Panama in the office sweepstake and the excuse to go to the pub on a Monday night we’ve all been waiting for is nearly upon us.

From Bebeto’s rocking the baby celebration, through trying to recreate that Gazza goal to blagging into pubs underage full of adolescent swagger, then 3 pints later giving Cristiano Ronaldo the wanker sign as you dry your eyes (mate) following another penalty defeat, international tournament years are landmark summers that shape your life. As do the songs that soundtrack them.

Most football songs are shit, destined to be forgotten about, neglected, unplayed and unloved, on the second side of a ‘Footie Anthems’ CD that’s been gathering dust in your childhood bedroom since your mum’s mate bought it for your 10th birthday. 

However, every now and then one comes along that is genuinely brilliant, a Carnival de Paris in a sea of Diamond Lights. 

Sitting somewhere between World in Motion and Fat Les, the Rhythm Method’s new World Cup single is the anthem we’ve all been waiting for since Three Lions. 

Whilst he has built a likeable young team who will give it a good go over the next month or so, ultimately summer Soviet success surely seems slim for Southgate.

With that in mind, ‘Chin Up’ doesn’t so much set out to inspire the team to victory but rather to celebrate where we’ll really excel in Russia. The garden furniture flying across town squares, the fucking off of Mexican Waves and the inevitable, dramatic glorious failure, complete with a catchy chorus for the lads to sing along to. 

Chin up England, it might just happen.


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Home Sweet Home

It seems apt that the release of the new single by The Rhythm Method, ‘Home Sweet Home’, coincided with the decision by Islington council to revoke Fabric’s license.

As the news came in the club was to permanently close the song was almost simultaneously receiving its first play on Radio One.

With it’s repeated lament: ‘with every closing bar there’s hollows in my heart’ it seems the perfect soundtrack to a generation’s unease in the city they grew up in teetering on transforming into something completely unrecognisable.

A soundtrack to a city where developers who know the price of everything and the value of nothing hover seeking to iron out all the rough edges into something sterile and safe, and leave us with a 24 hour tube and nowhere to go.

Everyone’s read articles pontificating on what is to become of our capital city, and the broadsheets will no doubt be full of Fabric think pieces again this weekend and I’ve no need or desire to add to that.

However, whilst the NME is full of Fake Tales of San Francisco once more,  I find myself questioning the relevance of an ‘indie scene’ that says nothing to me about my life so it’s refreshing for a song to actually resonate and a band saying something worth listening to.

By Callum West




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David Corio: Photographing Hip Hop in London

David Corio was born in London in 1960, he began his career as a freelance photographer for the NME in the late 1970s and also worked for The Face and Time Out before moving to New York in 1992 (cheers google).

David has published a book of photographs of black musicians in 1999 ‘The Black Chord’ and in 2011 the ‘Catch the Beat: The Roots of Punk & Hip-Hop’ exhibition in the Morrison Hotel Gallery, New York detailed his and fellow British photographer Janette Beckman’s work in capturing the early days of both punk and hip hop.

I stumbled across his photographs of musicians accidentally whilst searching for something else but was particularly struck by the black and white shots of fresh faced hip-hop artists in the 1980s many on early tours to Great Britain. Here’s a few below.

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Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith, in his Fresh Prince guise, at the Holiday Inn – Swiss Cottage, where he still chooses to stay on visits to London (1986).

Public-Enemy hyde park

Public Enemy, Hyde Park (1987).

Schooly D  on Harrow Road, London 1985

Schooly D, Harrow Road  (1985).

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Biz Markie, London street (1988).

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Eric B and Rakim, London (1987).

By Callum West

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You’re not football if you don’t…

1. Unfavourably compare the singing of the National Anthem by the England national football team to their rugby counterparts, because they might be posh, but at least they’re patriotic, right.

2. Dress up every gripe you have with the game as being anti-modern football, the more unrelated the problem to the (numerable) flaws of the sport in the 21st century the better. The lager at half time is shit and the pies are dear. #AMF

3. Applaud for a minute in the game that corresponds with the number of player, past or present, as a nice touch, to mark some form of career milestone.

4. Do what you want, sing on your own, know what you are.

5. Mock away fans from your armchair for travelling miles at great cost for a fixture you’d never consider going to. Newcastle’s support is shite, they only took 70 to Moscow.

6. Incessantly bang on about the abstract concept of class, and the relative class of your side and its supporters compared to your rivals.

7. Belittle your rivals with vicious, stinging nicknames. Chav$ki fans are showing their class, they’re nearly as bad as Wet Spam.

8. Talk loudly and ceaselessly about getting on it, with the lads, on the train, on an awayday, whilst getting on it, with the lads, on the train, on an awayday (have a few cans of Strongbow).

9. Instagram a photo of your ticket for said away day, next to said can of Strongbow. #Awaydays #Readingaway

10. When in doubt blame everything on Chelsea and Manchester City.

By Callum West

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Euro 96

Now we’re all supposed to be anti-modern football I suppose I should hate Euro 96. Badiel, Skinner and the zenith of ‘lad culture’. The chattering classes discovering the game, I should really sneer at the tournament (preferably wearing a cagoule, somewhere in the north). However, as someone who turned 9 at the start of that long hot summer I view it with decidedly rose-tinted spectacles.

Like Daily Mail readers longing for a green and pleasant England that never really existed, I nostalgically reminisce of cadging 25p to go round the shop and get a pack of Panini stickers, hours spent down the park trying to replicate Gazza’s goal vs Scotland (and the dentist chair celebration) and playing my Three Lions cassette over and over.

I look back fondly on Karel Poborsky’s silky skills and his equally silky locks. Davor Suker lobbing Denmark’s Peter Schemeichel in Croatia’s red racing check shirt, whilst Del Piero et al looked ridiculously cool (and played ridiculously badly) in Italy’s classic Nike effort. Not to mention the unabashed, unapologetic jingoism from the tabloids and Germany having a player called Kuntz. This was international football at its pinnacle.

mirror eur0 96

Wembley the way it was (and should always have been) with its twin towers resplendent in the London sunshine. Gazza at the peak of his powers (if only Venables had picked Dennis Wise to play alongside him). Smashing the Dutch in probably the finest display I’ve ever seen from my country. Stuart Pearce, with his homemade haircut, going mental after burying the penalty against Spain. England too were at their pinnacle as Venables’ stylish side swaggered their way into the semi’s to only to be defeated by Germany.

I’ve never loved the England national side as much as I did that summer, and never truly cared about them losing since but as Andrea Kopke saved low to his right I blubbed like Southgate into my grey Umbro away kit after the most glorious of glorious failures, a great English end to a great English tournament.

By Callum West

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Up The Bracket – 10 Years On.

In 2002 the musical landscape in Britain was unfailingly bleak. Angst-riddled teenage middle class rebellion was soundtracked by a dirge of American nu-metal bands in backwards baseball and silly masks, Toploader were dancing in the moonlight – or at least on Jamie Oliver’s roof – Travis were still perpetually getting rained on, Coldplay were Coldplay and the Beddingfields were the face of British pop, essentially it was a shit time to be 15.

10 years ago this week, one band and one album changed this. The Libertines – Up The Bracket.

The Libertines were everything their contemporaries were not, dynamic, rebellious, exciting, they played ‘guerrilla gigs’ for fans at their flat, and in Pete Doherty and Carl Barat and their red military tunics they had a captivating focal point.

Equally, at a time when my classmates were – in the main – wearing baggy jeans and listening to Korn, they were mine.

Pop at its best inspires an interest in surrounding culture and art forms, Up The Bracket did this, it opened my eyes to the world around me, I read novel’s I’d have otherwise never heard of, watched repeats of Steptoe & Son and Hancock’s Half Hour on UK Gold, dug out my dad’s old Kinks, Clash and Smiths records; for a 15 year old it was revolutionary.

Musically it wasn’t too shabby either, from the opening bars of Vertigo it hit you like the punch ‘up the bracket’ it famously referenced, making you stand up and take notice immediately. Almost always seemingly on the verge of collapse, it’s punky, spikey guitars as quintessentially British as the lyrics that referenced Albion (an archaic word for Britain), William Blake, The Krays and the May Day Riots. The likes of ‘Death on the Stairs’, ‘Time For Heroes’ and the title track became immediate ‘indie’ classics.

Whilst the band imploded shortly after the release of their self-titled follow up and have released no original material since, ‘Up The Bracket’ remains the most important British album of this millennium, the most important since ‘Definitely, Maybe’, it inspired a generation to pick up guitars – without ‘Up The Bracket’ there would be no Arctic Monkeys, no Maccabees, no Laura Marling.

Ten years on the faith in love and music remains.

By Callum West

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Liverpool vs Manchester United

Football at its best is a game of passion, pride and partisanship. Flying tackles on the pitch, wanker signs and fans faces contorted in anger off it.

The United and Liverpool rivalry epitomises this, as a fan of neither side it’s one of the relatively few games that doesn’t involve my club that I relish. One of the few derbies in English football that remains a match of uncompromising hatred. Like Portsmouth and Southampton it is the focus of a deep rooted historical rivalry between two cities with an immense civic pride.

This is something that should be celebrated, a bastion of traditional football support as it descends further and further into banter, Sloop John B and homogenisation.

Instead the game this weekend afforded the ‘BAN THEM FOR LIFE’ brigade the opportunity to mount their collective high horse and make for the moral high ground, to froth at the mouth with outrage that someone MAY say or sing something distasteful and to trip over themselves to condemn ‘vile chants’ before they had happened. In the week where the police finally admitted to the extent of the Hillsborough cover up they used the opportunity to once more criminalise fans.

At a time when the footballing world has become obsessed with things being a ‘nice touch’ any behaviour which even showed the vaguest degree of tribalism (like the United fans singing through You’ll Never Walk Alone) was jumped upon by a media dying to be offended and underlined the chasm that still exists between those who pay to watch the game and those who are paid to write and talk about it.

No one deserves to go to a football match and not come back, whether they be a supporter at Hillsborough or a player at Munich but this shouldn’t afford those who do not understand the grass roots of a game they purport to know so much about a carte blanche to completely sterilise support, tribalism and passion.

By Callum West

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