Friday, May 6, 2011

Frankie Goes to Hollywood - Two Tribes

I was a little girl when Frankie said Relax. I was a little girl when I saw Frankie's video to 'Two Tribes'. I must have been about 7 or 8 years old. What does a 7 or 8 year old know about the world? The Cold War? World Leaders? Apparently enough to be fascinated by the video. I remember being captured by the television when they showed the video and still the song stands the age of time (sadly). The biting off the ear. The bizar nature of the video and how this was reality. I knew this, I must have known that the world was a weird place to be with world leaders battling each other over idiot issues. Politics was something that hit me at an early age, apparently.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Bevrijdingsdag 2011, a Dutch celebration

Today, the Netherlands are celebrating Bevrijdingsdag. Independence Day, Liberation Day, not sure how to translate it. On May 5 1945, the WWII ended for the Netherlands. The South, under the main rivers, had already been freed from the occupation by the Germans but the North had to go through one long, cold winter of cruelty, possession and what not by the German army. This winter in known as Hongerwinter, the winter of hunger, where people walked days on end hoping to find something to eat for them and their families.

This is no history class, today is Bevrijdingsdag. It's a national holiday but not a so-called bank holiday. For most people it's a working day. Schools are off during this period, most clerks are having the day off and there's a reasonable amount of people taking this day off. Because regardless, it's celebrated. There's 14 Bevrijdingsfestivals across the country, in every capital of the provinces one plus one in Amsterdam, with popular music, markets, speeches and what not and the theme is Freedom on the Streets.

It's been 66 years since the Germans left the Netherlands and by now most people have learned that the Germans who live in Germany today aren't such bad people after all (the hatred lies deep, personally not for me, my parents are both born and raised in Germany and my father has felt the cruelties of war as a little boy in Berlin. Mostly you really feel this in football). The day is very symbolic, it's a day to realise that freedom as we know it isn't a natural fact, as much as we like to think that. It should be, it just isn't. Since WWII, there hasn't been a day on this planet without a war at some place on Earth. Isn't that sad? There are places in the world where you can't say what you think, where you can't do what you want, where every day a bomb could explode in your neighbourhood, where you wonder while going home if your house is still standing and if your family is still alive. Unthinkable, but reality in the Netherlands also 70 years ago. It's nearly 71 years ago that my hometown of Rotterdam was bombed. Something to think about of you ever visit this city and awe the amazing modern architecture.

Freedom is respecting each other for what they do, think and who they are. Freedom is one of the most precious gifts in life. Are we free? Can we really do and say what we want? It's something to celebrate, year after year after year. I think it's important, to realise it's importance and that it's not a given. I'm really glad the Netherlands keeps doing this every year and that once again the question is raised whether this day to be a bank holiday again, not just once every 5 years, every year. So that every citizen can go out on the streets, celebrate with each other, is able to go to the (free) festivals in their own province (state).

I took the day off. I'm going to one of the festivals today. Granted, I chose to do that only because Kate Nash is coming, but it made me realise I probably should do this every year. Celebrating freedom. A life without fear. I wish we all could.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Review: The Bangles - Anna Lee (Sweetheart of the sun)

Well. The Bangles are once again back with an EP for now, only available in certain clothing shops in America. I never even heard of that shop so the name is irrelevant. This would have annoyed me if the Bangles, and Vicki Peterson in particular, hadn't been so stupid (there's no other word) about the departure of Michael Steele out if the band in 2005. They're still talking weirdly about it. It made me turn my back to the modern day Bangles and gave Michael Steele even more of a cult status. But, I'm going off track and I've tried to not take this in consideration while listening to the new song on the EP, it's only 1 new song, the flip side are merely acoustic versions of old classics and the new song, called "Anna Lee (Sweetheart of the sun)" will feature on their new CD to be released this summer. I was able to listen to this song because one kind person made a video to the song and placed it on youtube. So, is this something to look forward to?

I've listened to this song a few times now. The start is promising, very promising, a raw electric guitar playing some great riffs. Then the acoustic guitar kicks in, the cow bell and the sugary sweet vocals of the remaining 3 Bangles. They all sing together in harmony on this track, with Susanna Hoffs still to be heard the best but she can't help it with her voice. How can a song starting so strong fall back so dramatically? It's in essential not even a that bad of a song, but they lost the last edge they had. It's a nice track to play in the car with windows wide open on an American highway in the sun but that's about it. You can't argue with it, it's very Bangles and then it isn't.

I guess I'm just disappointed and will stick to the sound I prefer which is the garage sound from the early eighties and the rock sound the brought back in the 80s. To compare, here's the new track back to back to 'Everything I wanted', the single that went with their Greatest Hits album in 1990 and was dropped last minute from their 1988 smash 'Everything' which featured, yes indeed, 'Eternal Flame'. I guess the producers thought it was too rough but I say this is the Bangles most fans preferred. Shame, such a bloody shame.

The Bangles 2011 - Anna Lee (Sweetheart of the sun)

The Bangles 1988 - Everything I wanted