Thursday, 20 March 2008

"It's no secret anymore that for every nine barrels of oil we consume, we are only discovering one."-The BP Statistical Review of World Energy - January 9th, 2008
The world is addicted to oil. In just 8 years, it's projected the world will be consuming nearly 50,000 gallons of oil every second.
By that time, the world won't be able to meet the projected demand... for one simple reason: We're using up oil at breakneck speed.
Governments control 80% of the world's oil, and governments go to war".

While evaluating the significance of the text above consider how nations and multi national corporations have been able to manoeuvre their way into owning huge stocks of one of the worlds greatest assets and one which is vital to all human beings – water. Unlike oil, water has no known substitutes. Increasingly conflict arises out of the need for water, especially in areas where water is in short supply such as the Middle East, Asia and sub- Saharan Africa.
Surely then it is entirely realistic to consider that it in the not too distant future another terrible war will be waged ostensibly for western style democracy but in reality as a cloak for the control of water. "Whisky is for drinking, water is for fighting over," Mark Twain

The face of war has changed. At this time we no longer fear invasion. The island mentality has probably helped us to develop a false sense of security based on experience of past war. During the Second World War the area I live in was continually bombed during the Blitz on London. For most of us war is a long way away from our hearths and homes but surely the War for oil is beginning to take effect on all our lives. Perhaps it begins with shock at the number of “our boys” coming home in body bags, some of them killed by so called "friendly fire". It gets worse when we find that “ our boys” do not have adequate equipment for the job. It gets still worse when we hear of the atrocities committed by “our boys” in the name of democratic principles. Finally the penny drops that the perpetrators of this war and the sponsors of institutional oppression are virtually untouchable and care nothing at all for “our boys”. Even people who ummed and ah’d about this in the hope that things could not be as bad as that and regard people like me as pinko pessimists have realised this system of government is ruinous.

Our enemies in the world have multiplied and the duplicity of the UK government along with that of the USA and others has resulted in a massively underestimated drain on our resources and an increased lack of security. Our collective responsibility is coming home to roost. We consume at a greater rate than the rest of the world put together and we consume huge amounts of oil. Few of us can still have any illusions regarding the imperialism around the control of oil. So much UK/US foreign policy suggests and fosters the idea that the people of who won't give up their oil and their sovereignty are less than us. They are less valuable than us and some of them are expendable. They grieve for their loved ones like us and yet we wonder why they want to bomb us . They count even less now because basically they ( terrorists ) want to behave in a way extremely different from the way we profess to. Once this is mooted it seems we can do what we like. The evidential images are every where to be seen. We flout international conventions on human rights. We murder and torture people until we get what we want. Is this not also part of the mentality of the street thug? After Ashley Cole’s most recent disgraceful tackle a well known and respected football manager asked "how can there not be a link between this kind of violence on the football field and the problems in our society?”? So what kind of link exists between Governmental violence and that in the streets and among the people? What ever this government says the violent crime figures are soaring and the culprits get younger. We are in steep decline. There is no social work though there are social workers, hospitals are filthy and no one can spell. It seems the main assertion of this government is that most of the time we can all do with out. As long as the boxes are ticked eh ? Right Gordon?

As carefully government managed, pseudo prosperity begins to fail in a fractured society a burgeoning underclass, with out leader ship and unified organisation, may turn in on itself and make victims of it’s own. The victims are already identified as immigrants, gypsies, travellers. and any one different including all minorities. Some groups are often portrayed in our free democratic press in such a way that makes them seem unworthy and less than us. Ring a bell? A domestic version of UK foreign policy? Once this is achieved it can seem normal that people live as second class citizens. Still you can hear the cry "They should think themslves lucky to be here". People who should be standing together are divided.
Perhaps we will have to wait until major recession gets us off our bums to moan and grumble a lot about some thing other than lending rates and other delusional trivia. Hopefully we will wake up in time to instigate or agitate the changes. There has to be fundamental change to the way the whole thing works and the way we interact with rest of the world including our new neighbours from Europe. With out a usable set of principled values we will be lost. We are at war with half of the world. This is not sustainable. We just can’t quite see it yet.

Much that is happening to people today was projected in writings up to sixty or more years ago. You have probably read some of it. Back then people laughed it off as science fiction. Entertaining but “ it couldn't ever happen”. Super Chip? Who would want to believe it?

Fifty years ago the symbol for the anti nuclear protest movement was born. The designer Gerald Holtom was a former World War II conscientious objector. The design was meant to symbolise a human being in despair with arms outstretched downwards. Since the “ ban the bomb” symbol came to being it has become a world symbol for peace. On Easter Monday next the fiftieth CND demo will be held at Aldermaston. We are still allowed to protest in some areas of the UK you know.

Still on the general subject of change and protest, some one recently suggested I change the back drop of this blog from black to a more cheery hue. Bollocks !

Any one for a nice, cooling glass of gourmet rated (shhhh!) London tap water ?

Peace in Tibet

copyright e d g a r b r o u g h t o n 2008

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

The EBB went back to Bergen last weekend. The town nestles between mountains. It has grown since I was last there but has retained its character and the familiar aspects are still present. It rained hard and cold most of the time we were there. The average annual rain fall in Bergen is always high.
The harbour is still an evocative place for me. I always think of all the many sailors who set sail from there down the centuries. The clipper in the photo is the one on the Bandages sleeve.
The harbour fish market is stunning and the fare is as good as you will find anywhere I have been.

While I was walking around with Steve we came across a pro Life demo. No one took any notice at all. There was no anti protest. No one shouted opposing views at them and I thought what a great strategy this might be in respect of that particular group of self declared guardians of morality. Ignore them.

The people look well and affluent. Norway is a very wealthy country and appears to have retained its individual character with out losing its connection with the rest of Europe. We flew out on the Friday evening and arrived at around 11 oclock. We settled in to our hotel rooms and stayed up quite late doing what the EBB does at such times. Later we walked down to The Garage to check things out. It was obviously a well appointed venue and the list of people having played there is quite a who’s who of contemporary stars.

You might have read about the truck crash and subsequent theft of some of my gear in the previous blog. While at the club our old friend Dennis showed me an old Marshall speaker cabinet ( pictured above on the left ) that I had lost in that crash. It had the legend Eb 1 on the back which Steve remembered painting. I must admit I felt a bit odd when next day, as we set up equipment, it was wheeled out as part of my back line. It did sound nice though. I have decided to appeal to The Garage to return it to me so we will have to wait to see what happens. Watch this space.
Poor Luke had problems with a supplied keyboard with a broken key. After sound checking with a stand in keyboard the main keyboard was quickly repaired and the last task on the pre gig list was completed. Luke was calm again and we settled in at the club for the long night. I was disappointed they had no V8 vegetable juice on the rider but I swallowed that or rather did not. We are not a picky band but we do like to have what we need and in every other respect the service and hospitality at the Garage was excellent.

Mills Caviar paste is one of my addictions

Dennis worked tirelessly all day dealing with every thing thrown at him by the band and local crew. The sound engineer Runne ( hope I spelt that right ) was very professional and achieved a good out front sound with out any fuss. Some of the onstage monitoring wasn’t to every ones liking but it was great for me.
After meeting lots of old friends and in some instances meeting their children for the first time, we walked out into the club and onstage at around 11-15. the show went very well. People sang the songs from the first verse of Evening Over Rooftops on to the end. The new songs went down very well and it seemed that the female members of the audience especially liked Six White Horses. Interestingly many people said we are better now than we were when they first saw us. I was very pleased about that.

My thanks to Vemund Grimstad for the three photos above taken during the show.

After the show a large contingent of fans and friends joined up with us in the dressing rooms for an impromptu party. Fifty people had come from a small town on the west coast to see us and it was very enjoyable to meet with them all. We might be doing a show in their town in August but nothing has been fixed. It does look certain that we will be returning to Norway at end of July / August for three or four shows including one in Oslo.
So after rehearsing for three days and travelling out with all the organisational tasks to be achieved we were all very satisfied with our return to Bergen which will always have a place in our hearts. Thank you Bergen for a very enjoyable weekend. Special thanks to Arne and Boogie who met us at the airport. It was great to see you. Thanks to all of the people who travelled to see us and to all of the crew and staff at The Garage.

above the cloud on the way back home


copyright e d g a r b r o u g h t o n 2008

Monday, 3 March 2008

ready to rock with the Norgers after I have shaved

The EBB spent three days over the weekend rehearsing for the Norway show at the Garage in Bergen. We worked with new and old songs and have put a couple of old favourites back in the set. I guess the set we will be playing is more or less the show we did at the Gagarin in Athens last year.
We are all looking forward to going back to Bergen. Norway is a beautiful country and the people are very warm and generous. It has been a long time since we were all there together. Andrew was with us when we last played in Norway on The Six wasted Days Tour with Roy Harper, Strawbs and Tony Mcphee's groundhogs. Gentlemen every one of them. Luke was with me and his mom as a toddler years before that. In between sledging trips in the hills with Luke and exploring the snowy streets, I was producing a record for a Bergen based band called Electric Rain a very unusual and original line up of local guys. That was a challenging and some times surreal experience with long hours hunched over a mixing desk in a small studio just outside town. I remember that in the early stages the studio owner, engineer and house producer was annoyed that a local band was importing help from the UK. He used to change the patch bay of connected equipment so that it was different when I returned for work in the mornings. I laugh about it now but it was tough at the time. I remember recording a bass part that required me to punch in the bass every time the bass player made a mistake to re record over the mistake. It has to be done very precisely in between the last played note you want to keep and the notes you want to re record. Aaaargh ! There were more than twenty punch ins made to get through the whole piece. I think my skill with the record button was well noted and respected and it was a bit like earning my colours. On a particularly exhausting day I did record an over dubbed guitar solo on the wrong version of one of the songs. Fortunately the guitarist who was a very nice guy decided to do it again the next morning for his own reasons for which I was extremely grateful. I didn’t even have to own up to my mistake. We finished the album in England for which I was again, extremely grateful. We were working on tape then and with out a computer in sight. Happy days and fun people.

photo by steve broughton

Touring in Norway has not always been a fun time. We once lost half our gear down a mountain side after our truck crashed into an avalanche on a mountain. One of our crew spent time in hospital. Many years later a guy called Terry from Bergen, who was co-promoter with the late Ziggy Bardsen on the tour, admitted he had stolen and sold two of my prized Marshall amplifiers from the crash site. We always thought he was as dodgy as a West End hot dog but it was a shock all the same. While professing to be our friend he turned out to be just another talentless low life and thief. We once crashed our Range Rover into a railway bridge on our way from Oslo to Bergen on a sheet of ice inches thick. We drove hundreds of miles with a great v shaped dent in the bonnet. The engineers at the factory in Solihull were as amazed as we were that our beloved chariot had made it home to the UK.

We have made many friends in Norway down the years and many of them have gone to great lengths to help us and lend support. It will be very good to catch up with some of them. The show is already sold out so it should be a great night. I remember a show in Kristiansund when the good local council had decided that the show could only go on if I promised not to include "the masturbation sequence in the song The Phsycopath" as reported in the local paper. The first thing I did when I walked on stage was, well you can guess. The whole place went crazy. No one had the courage to pull the power on the EBB ( it is still a risky idea ) and we all had a ball. We've trekked through blizzards and played in far away northern venues where the kids all had earplugs because the local papers had told them we were the loudest band they had yet seen and we were. A great country. I still have to travel to the lands of the Sami. Perhaps it is only another of my romantic notions but I believe this land to be a spiritual home for me and it is the land of my star sign ( man).

Steve, who was in Bergen on holiday recently, says there is great Vietnamese restaurant in town so I shall try to make a pilgrimage there at some juncture. Other than that I don’t suppose we will have very much time to do the tourist thing. We rarely do. It’s usually a mad dash to get a bit of shopping and that’s about it. Norway is a great fishing venue but I almost never get the chance to cast a line while on the road. Its tough at the top.
We don’t have any shows planned for a while so it will be back to recording when we return as soon as we can all get organised to get back to it. There is much to do this year if we are to keep to the plan. It should be fun. Mean while back to the now and the Norway expedition. Roll on. I’m already packed. I'll see you there and as always come up and say hello. We don’t bite ( unless you like it).

P.S. I’ll give you your CD at the gig Jarle. Yours will be in the post Tony.

Peace to all

copyright e d g a r b r o u g h t o n 2008