100th Anniversary of the birth of Laurie Lee

imageEnglish poet, novelist, and screenwriter,Laurence Edward Alan “Laurie” Lee, MBE was born 26 June 1914 Having been born in Stroud, Lee moved with his family to the village of Slad i1917 and went to Marling School, Gloucestershire, At twelve, Laurie went to the CentalBoys’ School in Stroud and left at fifteen to become an errand boy at a Chartered Accountantsin Stroud. In 1931 he first found the Whiteway Colony, two miles from Slad, a colony founded by Leo Tolstoyan Anarchists. It gave him his first smattering of politicization and was where he met the composer Benjamin Frankel and the ‘Cleo’ who appears in As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning. In 1933 he met Sophia Rogers, an “exotically pretty girl with dark curly hair” who had moved to Slad from Buenos Aires, an influence on Lee who said later in life that he only went to Spain because “a girl in Slad from Buenos Aires taught me a few words of Spanish.” At twenty he worked as an office clerk and a builder’s labourer, and lived in London for a year before leaving for Vigo, northwest Spain, in the summer of 1935. From there he travelled across Spain as far as Almuñecar on the coast of Andalusia. Walking more often than not, he eked out a living by playing his violin.

After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936 Lee was picked up by a British destroyer from Gibraltar, collecting marooned British subjects on the southern Spanish coast. He started to study for an art degree but returned to Spain in 1937 as an International Brigade volunteer. However his service in the Brigade was cut short by his epilepsy. These experiences were recounted in A Moment of War (1991), an austere memoir of his time as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War. During this period, he also made documentary films for the GPO Film Unit (1939–40) and the Crown Film Unit (1941–43). From 1944 to 1946 and worked as the Publications Editor for the Ministry of Information. Lee’s first love was always poetry, though he was only moderately successful as a poet, Lee’s first poem appeared in The Sunday Referee in 1934. Another poem was published in Cyril Connolly’s Horizon in 1940 and his first volume of poems, The Sun My Monument, was launched in 1944. This was followed by The Bloom of Candles (1947) and My Many-coated Man (1955). Several poems written in the early 1940s reflect the atmosphere of the war, but also capture the beauty of the English countryside.

However Lee’s most famous work was an autobiographical trilogy which consisted of Cider with Rosie (1959) which captured images of village life from a bygone era of innocence and simplicity , As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (1969), which deals with his leaving home for London and his first visit to Spain in 1935 and A Moment of War (1991). Which deals with his return to Spain in December 1937 to join the Republican International Brigades. Other works include A Rose for Winter, about a trip he made to Andalusia fifteen years after the Civil War; Two Women (1983), a story of Lee’s courtship and marriage with Kathy, daughter of Helen Garman; The Firstborn (1964), about the birth and childhood of their daughter Jessye; and I Can’t Stay Long (1975), a collection of occasional writing. Lee also wrote travel books, essays, a radio play, and short stories. Laurie Lee sadly passed away 3 May 1997 but his classic novels continue to be popular and remain required reading in many schools. They have also been adapted for screen, television and radio many times

Mick Jones ( The clash, Big Audio Dynamite)

220px-TheClashLondonCallingalbumcoverBest known for being a member of The Clash and Big Audio Dynamite, the guitarist vocalist and songwriter Mick Jones was born 26 June 1955. Formed in 1976 as part of the original wave of British punk. The Clash’s music incorporated elements of reggae, ska, dub, funk, rap, dance, and rockabilly. For most of their recording career, the Clash consisted of Joe Strummer (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Mick Jones (lead guitar, vocals), Paul Simonon (bass guitar, vocals) and Nicky “Topper” Headon (drums, percussion). Headon left the group in 1982, and internal friction led to Jones’s departure the following year. The group continued with new members, but finally disbanded in early 1986.

The Clash achieved commercial success in the United Kingdom with the release of their debut album, The Clash, in 1977. Their third album, London Calling, released in the UK in December 1979, brought them popularity in the United States when it came out there the following month. It was declared the best album of the 1980s a decade later by Rolling Stone magazine. The Clash’s politicised lyrics, musical experimentation and rebellious attitude had a far-reaching influence on rock, alternative rock in particular. They became widely referred to as “The Only Band That Matters”, originally a promotional slogan introduced by the group’s record label, CBS. In January 2003, the band—including original drummer Terry Chimes—were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the Clash number 28 on their list of the 100 greatest artists of all time

After being ousted from the Clash in 1983 and following a brief stint with the band General Public, Mick Jones formed a new band called Top Risk Action Company (T.R.A.C.) He recruited bassist Leo “E-Zee Kill” Williams, saxophone player John “Boy” Lennard (from Theatre of Hate), and ex-Clash drummer Nicky “Topper” Headon. Headon was quickly sacked for his heroin addiction and Lennard either left or was fired and the band folded. Although the band released no material (only demos were recorded which have yet to be officially released), T.R.A.C. can be seen as a forerunner to Big Audio Dynamite in much the same way London SS can be seen as an early incarnation of The Clash. Jones then formed Big Audio Dynamite with film director Don Letts (maker of The Punk Rock Movie, various Clash music videos, and later The Clash documentary Westway to the World), bassist Leo Williams (from T.R.A.C.), drummer Greg Roberts, and keyboardist Dan Donovan.

Big-Audio-Dynamite-F-Punk-349151n 1985 the group’s debut, This Is Big Audio Dynamite, was released. The album’s cover shows the group as a four-piece (minus Donovan); the full group is pictured on the back cover.1986′s No. 10, Upping St. reunited Jones for one album with former Clash band-mate Joe Strummer, who was a co-producer of the album and co-writer of a number of its songs. The cover painting, based on a still taken from the Brian de Palma film “Scarface” was painted by Tim Jones. BAD supported U2 on their 1987 world tour, then released 1988′s Tighten Up, Vol. ’88 and 1989′s Megatop Phoenix. Tighten Up, Vol. 88 contained “Just Play Music!”, which was the second No. 1 single on Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks. The band also recorded an unreleased track called “Keep off the Grass” which was a rock-style instrumental of the theme to the classic western film, The Magnificent Seven. A promo video can be seen on YouTube. In 1990, the original line-up wrote and recorded the song “Free” for the soundtrack to the movie Flashback. This would be the final song written with the original lineup, as the band would dissolve shortly after. “Bottom Line” from the first LP was remixed and used as the title track for Flashback. However this track was not included on the soundtrack. It can be found on the 12″ or by possible download. Later in 1990, Mick Jones debuted Big Audio Dynamite II and release the UK only album Kool-Aid. Dan Donovan remained in BAD II for one song, a re-working of the final BAD track “Free” renamed “Kickin’ In”.

For 1990′s The Globe, only Jones remained from BAD, and the band was now called “Big Audio Dynamite II”. This new line-up featured two guitarists. The Globe featured the band’s most commercially successful single, “Rush” which hit No. 1 on both the US modern rock chart and the Australian National Aria Chart. “Innocent Child” and “The Globe” were also released as singles.BAD supported U2 on their ZooTV tour and released the live EP “On The Road Live ’92″. The band later recruited keyboardist Andre Shapps (co-producer of The Globe and Mick Jones’s cousin) and Michael “DJ Zonka” Custance as DJ and vocalist. Both appeared on the band’s 1994 album Higher Power, Don Letts and Mick Jones broached the idea of a Big Audio Dynamite reunion in 2011.

Besides a Big Audio Dynamite reunion, There may be more Legacy Editions of the group’s albums after more unreleased material was found in the vaults. The reformation of the original line up of B.A.D was confirmed on 25 January 2011 with the announcement of a UK tour. Two Shepherd’s Bush Empire shows, a concert at Manchester Academy and a headline slot at Beautiful Days festival. Big Audio Dynamite have also played sets at the 2011 Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival,Glastonbury Festival 2011, Lollapalooza, the Levellers festival, Beautiful Days,Bestival, V Festival, and Fuji Rock Festival.

The Long Ride Home by Rupert Isaacson

This week The Telegraph in association with WHSmith is offering readers the uplifting novel The Long Ride Home by Rupert Isaacson for just £2.99 instead of £7.99 between Thursday, June 26 and Wednesday, July 2. Readers can also claim the novel by bringing in one of the printed vouchers published in the paper on Thursday, June 26 or Saturday, June 28.

Heart-breaking, uplifting and full of adventure, The Ride Home is the long-awaited sequel to the international bestseller The Horse Boy, and features A troubled Autistic lad named Rowan who visits Mongolia and comes back from the shamans in Mongolia a changed boy. The three most debilitating effects of his autism – his incontinence, his endless tantruming, and his inability to make friends have disappeared.

But a year almost to the day since Rowan’s improvement he starts regressing, the accidents and tantrums reappeared, terrifying his father Rupert. So his Father decides it is time for a new adventure and soon Father and Son embark on a new quest, journeying from the bushmen of Namibia to the coastal rainforests of Queensland, Australia and finally to the Navajo reservations of the American southwest, where Rowan is transformed – and begins the Long Ride Home….