Monday, 17 October 2011

Otis Redding and James Brown, no less....

I noticed a poster yesterday, advertising a show at the Cirque royale on December 18th. It is to be a James Brown / Otis Redding tribute gig. According to the poster they are "Les Rois du Soul". Surely Brown is the Godfather of soul?

Redding, on the other hand - and I am big fan - was more than just a soul singer. I know that aficionados will take offence at this, but I regard soul as being a mere sub-genre of R n B, and I think Redding was a true giant of R n B. He was also a great icon for the Mods, both in the 60s and during their late 70s reincarnation.

What I find really interesting about this poster is that it announced that no less than 10 singers will be performing the songs of the two great men. One of them will be Johnny Logan. That's right, the Irish Eurovision guy.

I know that Irish performers are real pros, but how is this going to work?

Is he going to do Brown, Redding, or both?

On the poster, the picture of Brown is not one of his best - actually he looks like he himself is doing a tribute gig - a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald.

Of course, in an ideal world Logan will black up a la Jolson, but we all know that ain't gonna happen. I saw the Black and White Minstrels once. Not all of them, but a sort of chamber version. They were on the bill with Tommy Cooper, and it was a great show.

I will probably go along on the 18th, partly out of curiosity, although at the moment I am a bit more concerned with getting a ticket to see Wanda Jackson next week. Wanda is not as young as she once was, but I guess none of us are. She still does a great show though.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Energy Diplomacy

Jimmy Carter has been in the parliament this week, but sadly I missed him. I'm told he looks remarkably well.

One person I did not miss was Dr Stanislav Zhinin, a Moscow based expert on energy policy, and on energy diplomacy. He discussed the tree different approaches to energy diplomacy - US policy is driven by the energy companies themselves, the EU approach he described with a wry grin as "conceptual", whilst Russia, he admitted, might be perceived as having a politically led approach.

I was present in 2009 when Gazprom adopted an 'empty chair' approach to negotiations with the EU over the Ukrainian shut-offs. Whilst MEPs, the press corps, and half the Ukrainian government crammed themselves into a meeting room and ranted, Alexy Miller simply didn't show up. The whole thing was brilliantly choreographed by the Russians, and the humiliation of Ukraine was a significant factor in the replacement of the Yukoshenko government with the Kremlin's puppet Yanukovych.

Without a common energy policy, the EU will always lose out to the Russians. But this needs to be not an EU common policy, but one based on international treaty, and which includes states such as Ukraine, Georgia, and Turkey. This would have the effect of pulling up standards of business practice in certain countries, whilst greatly reducing the vulnerability of peripheral states. It would also do to Russia what they seek to do to all their customers - it would marginalise them.

But don't hold your breath on this one....

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Apropos of nothing -Something from Kipling that I just might happen to empathise with...

The dark eleventh hour

Draws on and sees us sold

To every evil power

We fought against of old -

Rebellion, rapine, hate,

Oppression, wrong and greed

Are loosed to rule our fate

By England's art and deed.

The faith in which we stand,

The laws we made and guard,

Our honour, lives, and land

Are given for reward

To murder done by night

To treason taught by day,

To folly, sloth, and spite,

And we are thrust away.

The blood our fathers spilt,

Our love, our toils, our pains

Are counted us for guilt

And only bind our chains -

Before an Empire's eyes

The traitor claims his price.

What need of further lies?

We are the sacrifice.

We know the war prepared

On ever peaceful home

We know the hells prepared

For such as serve not Rome

The terror, threats, and bread

In market, hearth, and field -

We know, when all is said,

We perish if we yield.

Believe we dare not boast,

Believe we dare not fear:

We stand to pay the cost

In all that men hold dear.

What answer from the North?

One Law, One Land, One Throne!

If England drives us forth

We shall not fall alone.