Tonight was a very important night. The bastard, infantile, cheap rich Republicans are not surprisingly the sorest losers they can be in this election which meant either the re-election of a gentleman and an honorable person all round who just has to get tougher or what would have brought this country and the world to the lowest ebb in history: if Mitt Romney had been elected. I was very uncertain about Obama's chances to win, but when he pulled off Ohio and then it was soon all over I had a huge sense of relief and the first swelling of joy in my heart in many days. I was so worried. If we got Romney it would have meant the beginning of the end of the world, but now we all can look towards a better future. That is if we prevent the scenario I am about to describe. For a long time I've had a fear of living to see The End Of The World and with all the skullduggery of the Republicans, the ultimate sleazebag asshole Donald Trump screaming for revolution, and the Romney campaign refusing to even grant Obama a concession speech as of now are we headed there? We better watch out. We better get together before we forget the meanings of words like "Brotherhood" and "Togetherness."
-Past Decline And Fall Or Living The Right Life: The End Of The World And How We Can Avoid It-
It's been written about in a million songs some of them meticulously crafted genius like "Future World" by Pretty Maids, "Brave The Storm" by Shy, and "In The Future To Come" by Europe and often very poorly and gratuitously, but now the question is asked: is the world headed towards its final days? The war in Afghanistan has killed off so much promising young life and yet it still goes on. We are victorious with the re-election of Obama, but we are a firmly divided country- almost like two countries in one. There is the thankfulness and joy of Obama getting a second chance, but there is the fear of what could happen if people lose all sense of reason and how we have to teach our children to despise war and make peace. I am afraid of Nuclear Holocaust, poisoning of the environment, more needless bloodshed in another war, poverty, and the complete destruction of the earth. Will it come in my lifetime? Will I wake up one morning and see no sky just darkness? Sure it sounds corny, but that's a real life fear that we all have to face. We can stop it- it's not too late just yet, but time is running out. America has made the right choice, but still has an awful lot to answer for going back to its very formation. It started to lose all its credibility as soon as it began with the mass genocide against the Native Americans. Now the people who founded our country before the Colonists and taught them to live with the land live and die on reservations in the 21st century. Now we have had so many wars and so much skullduggery and so much more of that to come that I don't see how any country would respect us at all. Politicians are the same everywhere- they lie to us instead of even speaking to us as every word is a lie, but at least Obama represents a truly gentle person and a respectable man. He has not been able to fulfill his promise because this is the most racist country on the planet. The racist bastard Republicans too long have been having their way and not only are they racist need I say they love war and destruction to the point of still believing that it's "Glorious." This is a bad place to be in, but we can make it better. We can believe in Barack Obama and know we made the right choice in choosing a man who stands for all the right things. A polite, intelligent, good, well meaning individual who just needs to be a bit better as a world leader. Thank God for BIG MIRACLES!
To end with politics I've had a lot on my mind of late and I find that I am happiest when I am dreaming. I also find that my musical taste just gets more and more eclectic, but I'd like to share with you one of my most beloved records by a maverick amazing hard rockin' band from Birmingham. Here's my ruminations on some very potent music from back in 1974 by the "Right Kind Of Rats." -RATS FIRST is The Rats First And Last, But A Power That Resonates For Eternity-
Formed from the ashes of several local Birmingham bands including the magnificent World Of Oz who included their lead singer Dave "Kubie" Kubinec, The Rats struck gold on their one long player RATS FIRST not in financial terms alas, but in the pantheon of classic hard/prog/psych glam rock this may well be the best record ever made by a one shot obscure group. The record was more distributed in France than in England on really cheap thin vinyl, but my French copy sounds Wonderbar! They were relatively ignored at the time largely because of poor promotion and a small label (Goodear), but The Rats were a band who deserved a lot better chance at success and making it to legendary status then they would do. A quartet of Roddy McKenzie (Lead guitar) Jeff Allen (Drums and ex Steel Mill a real loser of an album! also ex Mouse good but too expensive for what it is!) Peter Kirke (Bass), and Dave "Kubie" Kubinec (vocals) they had a powerful yet very melodic and dark sound that managed to put very disparate musical influences together into a stunning, amazing, wonderful album entitled simply RATS FIRST.
Packaged in a really tasteful Shoe Polish Box or olde Gramophone advertisement sleeve of the album and band logo and a very cute black rat the band are a very serious and menacing looking bunch in the inside gatefold black and white picture of them which does not give you any idea at all of how closely linked to glam rock (especially David Bowie and Marc Bolan) gone dark they are in their music. McKenzie's guitar is cutting, precise, often phased, sometimes augmented by lush Baroque harpsichords, and in the more acoustic tracks very atmospheric and tasty with idyllically strummed chords that belie the menace of Kubie's lyrics. Most of the songs on this record are somewhere between the late 1960s popsike of Kubie's World Of Oz and their biggest influences the early Bee Gees and Beatles and the hard rocking menacing glam sound of Bowie or T. Rex jamming with Black Sabbath. Since The Rats came from Birmingham the Sabbath comparisons probably are gonna go without saying. The only songs on the record that do not deal in dark subject matter are the closing tracks of each side "L.A Highway" a great Stones alike rocker on Side One and the upbeat glam/power pop of "Turtle Dove" on Side Two which Bolan would have killed to have written.
Much of what is on offer here is about death and the metaphysical. About "Where We Go To When We Die." "Oxford Donna" is a powerfully sinister mellow to really menacingly intoned number about the rape and brutal murder of a prostitute whilst a song like "Glad That You're Not Me" deals with the cycle of life from birth through to death. He is born at the beginning with everyone rejoicing his birth and wishing they were him and then at the end he dies with everyone relieved they aren't him. Very sombre. Very dark. "Very Small Child" was first done as a song Kubinec had written back in the early 70s by the worst band ever formed in the history of music Warm Dust (avoid all their disgusting records at all costs) and as a Dave Kubinec solo single, but here it is an outstanding track on the album. An acoustic number like the harpsichord driven "Glad That You're Not Me" this song is all about "Nobody Knows Where We Go When We Die/I Wonder Why/And Though They Can Go To The Moon They Can't Tell Us/Where We Go To When We Die" and then says nobody can answer that question because we are spiritually in starvation. Unlike Black Sabbath who I will state for the one zillionth time were Christian and NOT Satanic there are no Satanic or Occult references at play here.
Everybody is going to flip after hearing the hard rock tracks on this record. There are plenty of them from the confident rollicking opener "Child He Die" to the gay themed lightheartedness of "Queen" to totally killer almost Jethro Tull (but without the flute) like fare such as can be found on Side Two of the album. Thankfully, instead of noise the guitars are confidently melodic and charging at the same time and the production is sympathetic to the music by not being too clean or too compressed. There are a few albeit scant progressive leanings, but most of this album is somewhere between pop psych and hard Glam rock. There aren't any boogie or blues numbers thankfully- instead The Rats come across as intellectual and intelligent. Whilst the lyrics can be very ominous and so can Kubie's voice and that won't win over the teenybopper glam fans this album has a very wide appeal where hard rock, glam, power pop, and psych collectors should fork out for a copy as soon as they can locate one.
Unfortunately, this will not be easy to do. A very rare album RATS FIRST is one of the hardest to track down albums of the entire 70s British underground scene and considering the massive appeal it has it is a shame so few people will get to hear it. An essential record to own for a lot of reasons it is worth all the hard time and possibly the high cost a copy may command. Sadly and strangely, it never has seen a reissue. Rats could have been a huge success in the underground sense, but their firmly intellectual and dark stance and sometimes raunchy approach to some of their material would have made mainstream success impossible. Thus it may not be surprising they never made it. Despite hugely appealing music they also suffered from being around at a time when a lot of British hard rock was being made, but not selling in huge quantities for a lot of acts. They would have made an awesome underground Sweet which is sometimes what I think of, but they didn't ever break through and were only around for about a year. Most of the band members never resurfaced, but Kubinec would try to further his solo career with some equally commercially ill-fated releases one of which looks to be a punk/metal record that would be best avoided, but I've not heard it. To me these guys are as good as or better than any number of praised and hyped records on the market from the golden age of psychedelic and hard rock with much better songs than many more well-known hyped bands of the era. There are the classics that I will always stand by like Czar which I wish I'd kept my original of, Shape Of The Rain which is finally rightfully up there, The Koobas who it goes without saying are a a great one, FAINTLY BLOWING by Kaleidoscope (Far and away their best record and one I'd love an original of), the delightfully zany Fickle Pickle who are almost as unknown as The Rats, and some real great ones coming my way this week I look forward to fully digesting and writing about. I first heard Rats back in 2001 11 years ago. Now we have a better president and he has to really come up tougher than he was in his first four years, but one thing is for sure: neither Obama nor any of us is going to ever know just whether we'll get to Heaven or where we go in the Afterlife so just live for the time that is now and the space that is the moment. Only you can make things better, safer, and happier for you and your mates. Thank Christ Obama can now show us some true good real honesty which the wrong kind of rats, the Republican Party won't even grant him in a massively delayed concession speech! Rock on and live a good life. That's what you do. Fight to the end for the things you believe in. And love The Rats and then finally that's Enough Said.