Rod Liddle

You won't believe this story about my friend, Jeremy Corbyn and the owl

The real disgust wasn’t about the pig’s head. It was about the awful band Supertramp

26 September 2015

8:00 AM

26 September 2015

8:00 AM

A friend of mine once watched Jeremy Corbyn try to rape an owl. This was the early to mid-1980s. The Labour leader used to come round to my squat in Leytonstone and we’d sit cross–legged on the floor, sniffing glue from a large plastic bag, and listen to Camper Van Beethoven’s ‘Take The Skinheads Bowling’. Jeremy was on the periphery of our little clique and we were suspicious of him because he was posh. Sometimes, when we were passing the glue bag around, we’d miss him out from sheer spite. Eventually this friend of mine — I won’t name him — told Corbyn that if he wanted to join our gang, rather than just sit there on sufferance, he’d have to pass an initiation test. He had a choice — he could either take a left-wing black woman, any left-wing black woman, on a motorcycle tour of the German Democratic Republic, or rape an owl. He looked out from beneath his fecund and autonomous beard and said, fairly promptly, ‘I’ll rape the owl.’

He had to break into an owl sanctuary somewhere to procure the owl. He turned up in Leytonstone a few days later with a rare and rather magnificent giant scops owl, renowned for its haunting call of ‘whuuuah, whuuuah’. My friend accompanied Corbyn and the owl into a bedroom, while we lay about downstairs in a narcoleptic stupor. I didn’t want anything to do with this initiation rite, as I have always liked and respected owls, and felt that this was an infringement of their liberty. Anyway, seemingly ages past. We heard, from upstairs, an occasional rather panicked ‘whuuuah, whuuuah’ and after a while Jeremy and my friend came back downstairs, Corbyn looking morose and my friend cackling with glee. ‘He couldn’t do it! He’s out of the clique!’ Corbyn shook his head and just said: ‘I’ll have to take some black left-wing woman to Czechoslovakia, I suppose.’

‘East Germany!’ we all shouted, as one.


I relate this entirely fabricated, fictitious and untrue story not out of a wish to harm Jeremy Corbyn’s political career, but from chippiness. My journalistic colleagues all seem to have been privately educated and spent their time smoking ‘weed’, mon, with future prime ministers in some Oxford quad, ramming kilos of charlie up their well-born nostrils and on occasion soliciting oral sex from dead pigs. Well, frankly, chance would be a fine thing. I’m from the aspirational working class — I wanted to do all that. But it was never to be, on account of my being brought up in Middlesbrough. And that hurts. (The irony, of course, is that Corbyn was not much less highborn than the rest. He was never in a squat in Leytonstone really.)

I read that Conservative Central Office has denied the allegation about Cameron and the pig’s head. Straight denial, never happened, let all voters — and especially Muslim voters — be assured. This was a response to what CCO assumed was a national expression of utter disgust at the various revelations. But being Tories, what they didn’t understand was that the real disgust was occasioned by the fact that what all these toffs were listening to in the mid-1980s was the horrible band Supertramp. My good friend James Delingpole revealed this (and has attempted to excuse himself, very unconvincingly, elsewhere in this magazine, by saying he listened to U2 and Dire Straits as well. Fine then!). Oh, James — hugely admirable in so many ways, but with a staggeringly unhip, right-wing public schoolboy’s taste in popular music. This would explain why he became the Daily Telegraph’s rock reviewer — a bit like being the Ku Klux Klan monthly bulletin’s reggae correspondent.

Why does the right have such awful taste in music? It would have been bad enough listening to Supertramp in 1974; by 1980, after punk, it was heinous. And yet this is the thing — Tories and the well-orfff always head for that arid, pretentious and inane cul de sac, prog rock. Rock music stripped of all the things which once made it exciting, i.e. rhythm and sex and rebelliousness and, uh, melody. They like prog, one supposes, largely because so many of its talentless practitioners attended Charterhouse and Westminster. And because they like to think it’s ‘serious’ music, a sort of rival to the classical music which they know they are supposed to enjoy. But it isn’t remotely a rival to classical music. Almost all prog rock was mind-numbingly stupid, the compositions slight, the lyrics frankly hilarious.

And when they’re not listening to prog rock, they’ll go for the bland corporate crap. Yes — U2 and, even more so, Dire Straits. Show me someone with the remixed deluxe edition of Brothers In Arms and I’ll show you someone who is a more nailed-on Tory voter than even David Cameron. All of the artists James Delingpole mentions, in an attempt to exculpate himself from the most appalling bad taste, veered towards prog rock in the end: Kate Bush, U2, Dire Straits, The Teardrop Explodes. The truth is, the upper middle classes don’t get the medium of rock music — which is fine. It is, as Roger Scruton once observed, a somewhat limited medium. But in which case, why pretend?

The second irony is that most of these bands are lefties. There are one or two right-wingish rock bands — Rush, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Iggy Pop, sometimes David Bowie, previously Neil Young — but by and large it is an engagingly vacuous artform, if it is an artform at all, which lends itself to similarly vacuous left-wing politics. I have never heard a leftie rock song which convinced on an intellectual level, not even ‘Masters of War’ by Dylan or ‘Fortunate Son’ by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Wonderful songs though they may be.

I bet, after they’d done with the pig’s head, they listened to the Eagles.

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Show comments
  • blandings

    I’m no expert on rock after about 1970, but i didn’t realise that Dire Straits or U2 were prog. Boring yes but not prog. Oh well who cares.
    Never thought of Dylan as left-wing either. Cryptic and very cynical – Love the guy- The only real talent to emerge in my lifetime. I always thought of Masters of War as a re-working (he did a lot if that) of a version of Nottamun Town that was current at the time.
    Ah the time! Off to work.

    • Gilbert White

      Wot about dopeheads and their Tubular Bells? Five years of this and then they went out and bought the Classic Tubular Bells with LSO? This enabled Branson to keep just doing us.

      • blandings

        I haven’t listened to Tubular Bells. Well I’ve heard snatches obviously, but not in the sense of sitting down and listening to it in rapt enchantment.

        • Damaris Tighe

          We used to call them Tubular Balls. Bit pretentious & hasn’t survived the test to time. But I confess I did listen the whole way through & even bought an album, natch.

          • blandings

            So you wouldn’t recommend that I buy a copy now, just to complete my education?
            Here’s my kind of song.
            naive young chap trying to impress a woman by acting recklessly – well we’ve all been there.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXfZLMk7gyA&list=PLknidvzcLCRF4Gnl87Tk-qjUFzpa7ibW7

          • Damaris Tighe

            Save yer money b, Tubular Balls was ‘new age music’. All tinkles & no balls.

          • blandings

            My little brother was into Tubular Bells along with Kate Bush which leads me neatly on to a music video
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmBaE7ozWow

            Great live act

          • Damaris Tighe

            OMG.

          • blandings

            Wot?
            Have you never done that?
            PS: Or were you referring to my little brother’s taste?

        • Hamburger

          I think you need to be stoned, or very very slow.

      • rodliddle

        Tubular Arse.

    • Kennybhoy

      “Never thought of Dylan as left-wing either.”

      He never was really.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tx_hm7brW8M

      • AJH1968

        Remember the soundtrack for Pat Garret and Billy the kid, mostly Dylan, loved the movie.

        • Kennybhoy

          Very cool. 🙂

      • Tron

        Dylan deliberately turned his back on the Lefties in Greenwich Village. Listen to Positively 4th Street.
        He is too individual to be part of a movement.
        He hated the Hippies as well

        • Kennybhoy

          Er, yes man, that is what “My Back Pages” illustrates… 😉

          “Positively 4th Street” os very cool. 🙂

    • rodliddle

      Dire Straits’ 3 and 4 albums were proggish. U2; the pomp made them prog, I reckon. Partly agree re Dylan, although until ’76 he was fashionably leftish.

  • Gilbert White

    Well she did look the colour a Strix aluco and it was pretend rape.

  • KingEric

    I attended a posh boarding school from 74 to 79 and was indeed swamped by freinds and acquaintances playing Genesis and Supertramp. I couldn’t stand them, the music, not my friends. I tended to go for Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. At the time, it made me feel rebellious until I realised, that out of the little world of a public schools, they were probably more mainstream than prog rock, Supertramp, etc.

    • Ralph

      Genesis, like with Pink Floyd, allowed extra snobbery over which period or line up was best. I did the odd thing of just listening to the music.

  • Gebhard Von Blucher

    “I bet ……. they listened to the Eagles.” That really was below the belt, Liddle.

  • Clive

    I lived in Leytonstone for 6 years. First flat I ever owned.

    On music, I heard my favourite football chant there. To no tune:

    We ‘ate Millwall
    We ‘ate Millwall
    We ‘ope Millwall
    ‘Ate us

    • WhiteVanMan

      Often use to go see the O’s play milwall ,at the Den for away games

      • Clive

        No doubt discussing prog rock with those adjacent in the crowd

        • WhiteVanMan

          Ended up getting a Chelsea smile over which Marrilion song was Better Kayleighor lavender

          • Clive

            See, I’m more Joni Mitchell

            ‘Hissing of Summer Lawns’ is my all time favourite album

  • red2black

    ‘…but by and large it is an engagingly vacuous artform, if it is an artform at all, which lends itself to similarly vacuous left-wing politics. I have never heard a leftie rock song which convinced on an intellectual level…’ Tee hee.

    • YeahOkFerShure

      Try listening to pretty much anything by Billy Bragg.

      • red2black

        I like heavy rock and doom metal. I think you misunderstood why
        I thought Mr Liddle’s remark was amusing.

  • Damaris Tighe

    They should have been listening to Steely Dan. Apart from being great rock an appreciation of a steely dan might have weaned them off pigs & owls.

    • Flintshire Ian

      I liked Steely Dan and still have most of the albums on (probably un playable – especially as I don’t have a deck- vinyl)…..along with Supertramp, The Eagles and Dire Straits. And I was only a right wing Grammar School boy.

      • Damaris Tighe

        Apart from Supertramp (glam rock which I loathed) I’m with you on Eagles & Dire Straits. Also Phil Collins & Doors (but maybe they were 70s). Aaaah, the great age of rock.

        • blandings

          Still play The Doors when no one is watching me.

          • Damaris Tighe

            Riders on the Storm.
            Light my Fire.
            Stoned Immaculate.

          • blandings

            Was Stoned Immaculate a song or a state of being?

          • Damaris Tighe

            Can’t remember …

          • Mow_the_Grass

            LA Women – knew a couple

          • Wessex Man

            You love the Doors and Fleetwood Mac?

          • Damaris Tighe

            They’re not mutually incompatible are they?

          • Wessex Man

            Well, I suppose they were both really boring in their own way.

          • Twentieth-Century Fox
            Soul Kitchen
            Crystal Ship

          • Mow_the_Grass

            Put it on real loud – and introduce it to the neighbourhood.
            They will thank you for it.

    • Tron

      Steely Dan’s music was intelligent, sophisticated, tuneful, full of great jazz influenced solos and funky rhythm sections.
      It is a tribute to the variety of the music business and radio in the 70’s that they were heard at all. They even had hits.

      In today’s music business they would be lucky to get a pub gig let alone a recording contract.

  • dramocles

    So, you’re a ‘boro lad eh? Well b*gg*r me (that’s if Nunthorp and Guisborough qualify as the boro – which they don’t really).

    Me – I’m from North Ormesby.

    • rodliddle

      Nunthorpe does, you smoggy pleb. It was once described by The Guardian as being “a select area of Middlesbrough” and the quote pinned up in Dixon’s Newsagents. But yes, North Ormesby trumps my Nunthorpe. It’s astonishing you’re still alive.

      • Kennybhoy

        Ah thoct’ you wur a Sarf’ Lunnon ned Liddle? 🙂

      • dramocles

        Just shows what the NHS is capable of (though moving to Cheshire may have helped – courtesy of a grammar school rescue) – mind you the bronchitis kicks in every now and again.

        More importantly the real deal is The Who – Then and Now (did you see what I did there….)

  • Nick Harman

    Mr Delingpole once wrote how much he liked Belle & Sebastian! I find that far worse than liking Supertramp ,who did at least have some hummable tunes

  • corinium

    I was at a private school not a million miles from Oxford in 1985, all my contemporaries listened to the Cult, the Cure, The The, the Mission, Sisters of Mercy, that sort of thing, and wandered around looking morose. Not me of course, I wasn’t even cool enough to listen to Supertramp, I was more a R4 TMS sort of teenager…….

  • Vukefalus

    In my 6th form bedroom at Mill Hill in ’68/69 we smoked pot and loftily discussed our imminent and bloody left wing overthrow of the ‘bosses’ and Lindsay Anderson’s ‘If” whilst listening to Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison, Creedance, Ten Years After, Led Zeppelin, Chicago Transit Authority, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck (who had recently played at our school dance with Rod Stewart on vocals) and Free. If anyone put on prog rock we would have debagged the pretentious little fucker and hurled him from the 3rd floor window.

    • Harry Pond

      At Abbotsholme it was all about magic mushrooms and The Doors- happy days (I think).

      • Vukefalus

        I was a contemporary of Chas Jankel (latterly of the Blockheads) and it was primarily guitar blues: Clapton, Page, Beck, Rory, Jimi, Steve Marriott, Stan Webb, Alvin Lee, Steve Stills, Paul Kossoff, the Allmans, Mick Taylor, Peter Green were our Gods, the articles of faith were Gibson and Fender and we worshipped at the altar of Marshall. Great days with good dope and great music. I wouldn’t waste spit on U2 and the like.

        • Damaris Tighe

          Oh, but I love U2 with BB King, ‘When Love Comes to Town’. Must be played at full volume.

          • Vukefalus

            Much as I love the blues, BB King was, for me, the Val Doonican of the genre, and just don’t get me started on Bono. If you want to hear a real master, then I recommend the great John Lee Hooker’s The Healer with: Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, George Thorogood, Robert Cray and others.

          • Damaris Tighe

            Santana – definitely one of the greats.

          • Wessex Man

            I recommend Tina Turner or Pink.

          • Vukefalus

            Quite like Pink. I saw Tina on her ‘come back’ in the Carrê in Amsterdam in the late 70s. One of the best shows I have ever seen – sexual dynamo and a real pro.

          • Robert Cray! Good on ya!

          • balance_and_reason

            oh dear , and you were doing so well….the know all falls at the next fence.

        • Scradje

          Chas made a very decent, well produced, well engineered proggy album with Byzantium; maybe around 1972? Underrated band.

        • Dogsnob

          Bag o’ schite that lot. This is where it’s at man. And they’re about to tour again. Can’t wait!

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ue3dAqP4io

    • Clive

      If you’re going to say ‘debagged’ then you might as well say ‘debagged and defenestrated’

      The original Fleetwood were good. ‘Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight’ (not quite the original Mac but close) but mostly ‘Shake Your Moneymaker’

    • Frank

      No Stones?

      • Vukefalus

        Never been a big fan of the Stones – I like the odd track and album but preferred latter Beatles, Yardbirds, Troggs, Them, Marmalade, Turtles and even the Monkees. I wanted to go to their concert in Hyde Park in 1969 but it was on the same day as my sister’s wedding so never saw them live. I had a good chat with Ronnie Wood though when he was bassist for the Jeff Beck Group.

        • Kennybhoy

          Kinks.

          • Vukefalus

            Some Kinks, not all, but definitely top rank. The late 60s were, in my mind, the halcyon days for music: the Beatles had released Sgt Peppers, Alexis Korner and John Mayall were developing and promoting great Bluesmen, and the earlier ’60s pop bands were transforming into fine rock bands. I was able to see Cream’s final gig and Zeppelin’s first at the RHA and Blind Faith for free at Hyde Park. It was a time of Woodstock and Hendrix, of The holy trinity of Clapton, Page and Beck and the rise and fall of the sweetest blues guitarist I ever heard, Peter Green playing call and response with Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer on slide. We stole rythm and blues music from America, reinvented it and sold it back to them and made them rediscover their own greats in the process.

          • Damaris Tighe

            Don’t forget early Fleetwood Mac. They did good blues.

          • Vukefalus

            Referenced above. Try Live in Boston, Blues Jam in Chicago and Shrine ’69 to hear the wonderful Green, Kirwan and Spencer at their best.

          • Otto von Schtumpf

            Buddy – you’re talking about a bunch of … musos.
            You know – musical types.
            Musicians.
            Who have as much relevance in the big scheme of things as did the pit players in 1840 at whatever huge musical was then playing in the best theatre in Connecticut.
            Never heard of them?
            Neither has anybody else.
            Ever wondered what their influence on the evolution of mankind was?
            Nope.
            And neither did anybody else.
            They were … musicians.
            Their effect was transient, fleeting and inconsequential – even though, to them, the applause in their ears was deafening.
            Listening to you rabbit on about a bunch of nothing names from 50 years ago is like listening to my grandfather banging on about his military service at the same time.
            Except that he and his mates were actually shot at.
            Which makes his oldster stories more interesting than yours.
            Never mind – you just keep on bleating about Cream’s final gig and Blind Faith free at Hyde Park (whatever the heck they were).
            If it makes your old veins pump a bit harder – you just go for it.

          • Oedipus Rex

            Great comment!! : )

          • Frank Marker

            ‘I’ve Got Those Fleetwood Mac, Chicken Shack, John Mayall, Can’t Fail Blues Again’

          • Kennybhoy

            “Some Kinks, not all, but definitely top rank.”

            Could say that of every band and artist on your list man! 🙂

            “The late 60s were, in my mind, the halcyon days for music…”

            I would have agreed with you once, still do for the maist part, but as I have got older I have come to respect the preceding ten years at least as much.

            “I was able to see…”

            I hate you! 🙂 I was born in the late 50s, so I was a wean during the 60s, but I have four older siblings, the youngest eleven years older than I, with eclectic tastes and an unusual tolerance of a much younger brother, so I got to watch without actually participating if you know what I mean! 🙂

          • Kennybhoy

            Greatest three and a quarter minutes ever! 🙂

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3Q-DgD9BT8

          • Vukefalus

            I take your three and a quarter minutes and raise you six and a half.

            http://youtu.be/2sMBiRzML-g

          • Kennybhoy

            Seen and raised! 🙂

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nnro-OYCffk

            My lovely big sister bought me this for my birthday in 1969… 🙂

          • Kennybhoy

            And illustrative of what I wrote above about the preceding ten years another evocation of place and time…

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08083BNaYcA

          • oldoddjobs

            Yawn

        • Frank

          Fair enough. In my opinion they don’t date at all, still as powerful as back in the old days.

          • balance_and_reason

            Frank, can I just say a big thank you for sharing with us on this….fascinating, fascinating.

          • Frank

            It is just my little public service. Glad you enjoyed it.

        • Otto von Schtumpf

          I gather from your trip down memory lane that you’re no spring chicken.
          Tell me – what really makes you rise mechanically from your hydraulic Lazy Boy chair these days to get down in a frenetic burst of the Zimmerframe Shuffle?
          Pacemaker limitations accepted, of course.

          • Vukefalus

            I am 62 you moron and still gigging and session playing for kids a third my age.

          • Otto von Schtumpf

            Easy, gramps – don’t blow a valve!

      • Chris de Boer

        Yeah, Sympathy for the Devil, if you are pro- contra islam, does not matter. Ever listned to middle-east music? Eh, music? Sorry. Disgusting.

      • davidshort10

        Very right wing and they fled Britain for France because of tax. Plus ca change, plus ce n’est pas la meme chose!

    • Kennybhoy

      All good! 🙂

    • Hexhamgeezer

      Green Manalishi must’ve sounded pretty fab under the influence.

    • Sausage McMuffin

      The only Prog in 68 was Sid’s Pink Floyd. Pretty much all of it came later.

      • Vukefalus

        Apart from Nice, Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, Procul Harum and most of the French and German bands you are 1% rights.

        • Sausage McMuffin

          Prog rock wasn’t even a ‘thing’ until much later. The term ‘Progressive’ wasn’t even current till the early 70s. I think you must have been smoking too much back then.

          • Vukefalus

            Suggest you do a bit of research matey. Prog, or psychodelic as we called it, started mid 60s until it was mercifully euthanized by Punk.

          • Sausage McMuffin

            No-one called anything ‘prog’ until very late in the day. What was going on in the mid 60s was certainly experimental but there was no ‘genre’ till later. If you imagine there was, your mind is playing tricks on you.

          • Vukefalus

            Prat

          • R M

            How about you, “matey”. Prog and psychedelic are completely different genres. Sgt. Pepper: psychedelic. Dark Side of the Moon: prog. Either you misunderstand the terminology, or, if you think these albums have a similar style, you’re tone deaf.

          • Vukefalus

            Another no nothing feckwit. I have been involved in music from my school days and have guitars older than you numbnuts.

          • R M

            Then why did you make such a basic error and why were you unable to respond to my comment?
            Or is Sgt. Pepper actually prog?
            Or Dark Side of the Moon is psychedelia, perhaps?
            Chump.

        • mountolive

          My recollection is that the prog catagorisation – as found in one’s local HMV or suchlike – emerged with appalling bands like Yes, Emmerson Lake and Palmer etc. So I agree with Sausage and RM that you’re wrong. German bands, incidentally, were universally referred to as Krautrock. And French?!!!

      • R M

        No it wasn’t, Syd’s Floyd was psychedelia.

    • TuffTookas

      Winterstoke (Wills Grove), Mill Hill ’73/’74 (not to mention our dope cavern under School House floorboards). Lynrd Skynrd (Freebird of course). But yes. Hands-up confession … Alan Parsons Project. And occasional Supertramp. Poor Liddle … he could have been a right-wing pretentious little fucker like the rest of us if Ma and Pa Liddle had forked out the fees. Jeff Beck and Rod in ’68/69? Are you serious? RESPECT!!

      • Vukefalus

        It was the winter dance of ’67/68 and just about when Truth came out. Beck, Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood on bass and Nicky Hopkins on piano (can’t recall the drummer). Cost £675 at at a time when annual fees were £880. A cool evening.

        • TuffTookas

          I think I remember OJW. Crikey!

        • Scradje

          Drummer would probably have been the excellent Micky Waller.

      • rodliddle

        No, Tuff. No matter how much they’d spent I would never have had the lack of dignity, or taste, to take me to the Alan Parson’s “Project”, or indeed Freebird.

        • TuffTookas

          Rod. Mock ye not Freebird. My Pa passed away (nearly made it to 80), and the one track we bonded over was Freebird. RIP.

          • Hear hear. No doubt he would also have liked ‘I Know A Little’. I sure do! Good foot-tapping jolly-hearted stuff.

        • It’s hard not to like ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, though, especially on a freeway through the South. They were hicks, but patriotic ones that didn’t say exactly what everyone else was saying (‘Saturday Night Special’ being one example). I rather like the band.

    • Rbeastlondon

      I was in Mill Hill Broadway last week. It was pissing down and the only lub.The Bridge, looked like a bit skanky. No pub outside Edgware station: fuck me London has changed.

      • Rbeastlondon

        I am in the lub now, fwiw.

      • Vukefalus

        The pub outside Edgware station was the Railway I think, owned by the father of the Old Millhillian Pete van Hooke who played drums with Chas Jankel on guitar at the ’68 dance and later with the great Van Morrison.

  • Liberanos

    I had a rather attractive owl once. I attempted a relationship with the thought of congress. To wit: to woo her.

    • bashstreetplug

      If it was raining you would have no luck either.
      For an owl it can be too wet to woo.

      • Allow me to^ show you a real way to earn a lot of extra money by finishing basic tasks from your house for few short hours a day — See more info by visiting >MY!___@+__ID|

    • Geoff Walsh

      Excellent

    • TuffTookas

      Fucking (as in fucking) Diane Abbott. In a field (anywhere). Puts the howl in owl. Or the foul in fowl, if you prefer. Why was she so rude to Jizzy Jezza’s ex-wife? I want answers.

      • davidshort10

        Even tho I am not keen on the dimwit who sent her son to public school and is happy to take BBC money courtesy of Andrew ‘Brillo Pad’ Neil, who was the man who did Murdoch’s dirty work in Wapping for his thirty pieces of silver, you have to remember it was a long time ago and she was younger and slimmer. At least there’s no evidence that Corbyn ever used escort girls in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

  • RobC

    Strikes me Liddle you know very little about progressive rock.

    • GUBU

      Knowing (or remembering) very little about progressive rock strikes me as a good thing.

      • starfish

        If you remember progressive rock you really weren’t there man…..

        • Hamburger

          Or you weren´t really a man..

    • WhiteVanMan

      Lucky him

    • blandings

      He’s too young. – whippersnapper

  • jes

    …as a member of Camper Van Beethoven, I’m shocked—shocked!—to have fictitiously inspired potential owl rape. Mounted deer head eye socket or nothing!

    That said, the 80s prevalence of that song did more recently get me out of being busted in Glasgow for smoking cannabis, when the relatively straight policeman asked what band I was in and upon hearing the answer muttered “..take the skinheads bowling…” so, you never know.

    • Jimithefox

      Loved that track – thanks.

    • 70s Playboy

      I have a limited edition 10″ vinyl in my collection by you chaps. If you’re ever in Australia would you mind popping around and signing it please.

      • jes

        Our drummer lives in Sydney, just drop it off with him before the next tour…

        • 70s Playboy

          Cool! I live in Sydney. I am emailing you from your web address to see how this may be facilitated. Funny who you meet on conservative, curmudgeonly blogs

  • archpoet

    She was asking for it in that feathered outfit. And she didn’t say No.

  • Tamerlane

    You forgot ‘The Cars’….dreadful…dreadful…dreadful…All public school boys from the 80s listened to ‘The Cars’. Grim.

  • Jenny Grayson

    This is the funniest thing I have heard in a long time. is therre no more normal people left in this world.

  • ChrisTavareIsMyIdol

    Excellent, still laughing at the Telegraph rock reviewer remark

  • Jonathan Cook

    Yeah, maybe Rod. Bands are only worth listening to if they denounce politicians. The end for Oasis, was really attending Tony Blair’s “Cool Britannia” bollox at Number 10. Happily Drenge have rejected Tom Watson, Morrissey and Marr have told Cameron where to get off and Chumbawamba drenched Prescott.

    U2 are only crap, because they embrace politicians. If Bono had rejected hob-nobbing in favour of reviling politicians, then maybe U2 wouldn’t be such an insufferable bunch of Mandelsons.

  • Scradje

    Prog is/was no different from any other genre in the sense that 90% of it was average to poor and 10% was good to brilliant. But at least Prog musos can play. To get into a decent Prog band you had to have musical ability and the talent to put it to creative use. Punk had nothing whatsoever to do with music and everything to do with sneering nihilism. Tories are prog, Labour are punk, Liberals are 80’s synth pop and Ukip are early Tommy Steele.

    • Kennybhoy

      Mentula.

      • Scradje

        Stick to the IRA stuff; more your level, thug.

        • Kennybhoy

          Fuck off ya terrorist sympathising vermin! 🙁

          • Scradje

            You really are a nasty little scummer aren’t you? I hate all fascist terror gangs. You on the other hand like to hang out with them every Saturday.

          • Kennybhoy

            “I hate all fascist terror gangs.”

            Can anyone really be this lacking in self-awareness…? Your support for the most bestial of terrorists is there in your post history for all to see….?

          • Scradje

            You are a liar and a nasty piece of work.

          • Kennybhoy

            Fascinating… 🙁

  • Fraser Bailey

    I am the same academic year as Delingpole, Cameron etc, but carefully dodged Oxbridge and university despite getting the grades. My listening and gigs in 84/85 were centered around the Pogues (nothing will ever beat the mayhem of some of their early performances in pubs etc), Jesus & Mary Chain, Beefheart, Tom Waits, and the popular guitar bands of the time such as REM and the Smiths. U2 were already beyond the pale by then, although I will confess to having attended one of their concerts in 1981. As for Supertramp and Dire Straits…

    • rodliddle

      This is my point. You have exemplary taste.

    • Well, there’s Dire Straits and there’s Dire Straits. I’m not talking about ‘Walk Of Life’ and all the songs Diana liked. I’m talking about the album with the blurry girl on the cover and Live On The Night, for example.

  • AJH1968

    One should not read Rod Liddle and drink coffee (or any other beverage, milkshakes are a complete disaster) at the same time; ruined another keyboard.

  • Matt Fletcher

    Cloacal Corbyn, I knew it.

  • runningdog

    What do you mean “. . . the lyrics frankly hilarious”? Retract that statement or I’ll set “Bitor the Snow Dog” on you!

  • Joey Wessex

    Steely Dan are pretty good I agree.

  • Kennybhoy

    “I have never heard a leftie rock song which convinced on an intellectual level, not even ‘Masters of War’ by Dylan or ‘Fortunate Son’ by Creedence Clearwater Revival.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tx_hm7brW8M

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TS9_ipu9GKw

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCfRcgoPxTw

  • Mow_the_Grass

    Great line in the cult movie – ‘The Big Chill’ – something along the lines ‘that no good rock music was ever made after the 70’s’
    Gotta agree.
    ps – great sountrack

  • NickG

    By way of proving the stereotype I went to public school, vote UKIP, and like Steely Dan lots.

    I never was a weed smoker though.

  • The Masked Marvel

    And because they like to think it’s ‘serious’ music, a sort of rival to the classical music which they know they are supposed to enjoy.

    But they can’t appear to enjoy classical music, either, because leftie pundits would sneer at them because it’s too white and upper class.

  • blandings

    Just a thought, but does Rod realise how fearsome the talons are on a decent sized owl?
    No sane guy would wave his jolly todger near those talons.
    I used to go hawking – there was a joke that if a greenhorn wanted a jimmy riddle you had to call in all the hawks first – how the girls would laugh at that one.

    • Kennybhoy

      Astonishing beasties! I could never get my hied around how something which weighs nothing on your arm has sic’ a grip! 🙂

      • blandings

        I made a classic beginner’s mistake of allowing a harris hawk to land on my un-gloved hand. I was impressed because he wasn’t even trying – just a friendly squeeze.

        • Kennybhoy

          Lucky man! I have a friend who sustained lifelong, serious nerve damage from sic’ an error! 🙁

          • blandings

            Once when I was out someone was flying the eagle (it was a raptor sanctuary) and we called in the hawks. As my fellow came in I thought “He’s a fine looking fellow” and then “Big as well” and finally “Oh f*ck – I’m waving a bit of chicken at an eagle”

  • SalmondFishing

    I sense an E.L.O. reunion tour in the pipeline myself.

  • Sausage McMuffin

    You are forgetting The Enid who were a fiercely right wing prog band that used to end their concerts with Land of Hope and Glory. But perhaps excluded as the music was actually rather good.

    • pedestrianblogger

      I remember The Enid. Saw them at that most wonderful of musical venues, Ewell Tech, in the late seventies. Likewise Fruupp, Strife, The Groundhogs, Gong, Dr. Feelgood, Man (I think – memory’s a bit shot) and Bebop Deluxe (who were Shiite). Happy days!

  • Radders

    Damn. Supertramp here, and i saw Genesis live at Knebworth. And 10cc were, er, seminal. And most of my album sleeves still bear pinhole burns from red Leb, rocky, blond or sticky Afghan black.

    Perhaps I’d better join UKIP.

    I’ll get my coat …

  • At least we got through the litany without having to mention the worst band of all time (other than Chicago and the group that made the most annoying song of all time ): the Doobie Brothers. I need a shower just typing it.

  • P. S. CCR was too pretentious to be profound and too ‘unnuanced’ (if you’ll pardon the lefty-favoured word) to be sophisticated and enduring. And too dependent on their one key man. All of which led to an impression after a while that ‘you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard ’em all and you don’t need to hear any of them again’. The only exception I’d say is their cover of “I Put A Spell On You”, which is grand.

    • Freddythreepwood

      Midnight Special from Willy and the Poor Boys. Love it.

  • Dane Lundberg

    Lay off Dire Straits, will you? :p

  • Reading down through the thread: Does no one ever listen to the Velvet Underground?

    • Tron

      No.

    • King Zog

      Not even the Velvet Underground listens to the Velvet Underground.

      • Well most of them are dead. I find them darkly (and often not-so-darkly) brilliant. ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’, for example. Or ‘Pale Blue Eyes’. ‘Sweet Jane’ with the ‘heavenly wine and roses’ coda, which was later chopped.

        • Frank Marker

          Always liked All Tomorrow’s Parties.

  • Lorenzo

    Rod, if you had bothered to do a bit of research, you would have found out that Supertramp was one of the best-selling bands of all time with album sales in excess of 60 million. How many bands can make that claim? Apparently you are in the minority of not caring for their music. Roger Hodgson, Supertramp’s voice and founder, is still touring. It is Roger who gave us the band’s greatest hits that are still played on the radio today – Give a Little Bit, Breakfast in America, Take the Long Way Home, Dreamer, The Logical Song, It’s Raining Again, and so many more. See Roger in concert at Albert Hall on April 29 or elsewhere in Europe next year. Come see why fans, myself included, and journalists see him in concert again and again. His voice is incredible and what a band he has! Check this out – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fVQ2Rq2U0o

    • Neil Saunders

      Bore alert! Bore alert!

      • We have here a true believer. It’s touching, really : )

        • Neil Saunders

          Let’s count our blessings, though. By the time Blue Nile have finished their next album we’ll all be dead.

          • Heh heh heh

          • John Standley

            He believes! He believes! Time for some Santana and Focus.

          • rodliddle

            I think it’s Roger Hodgson, in disguise.

  • Sarka

    Music for decadent high jinks at Oxford back in Seventies (trust me, I was there, ): Roxy Music, J.J. Kale (esp. Cocaine) and Clapton, Velvet Underground, Zappa, Bowie, Doors, early Springsteen, lots of Stones, real black blues – Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters, BB King and so on – that was ultra cool, Grateful Dead. Masses of Dylan, and Cohen (for those existential crisis moments – though if you were really in wrist-cutting mood, Richard and Linda Thompson were even better). Prog rock was for the nerdy uncool, anoraks and so on.

    • Jonathan

      middlesbrough wock garden C1979 the damned the delta 5 gang of 4 the flowers rezillos the fall etc etc

  • King Zog

    Methinks that owl looks a liddle like Liddle.

  • King Zog

    “But it isn’t remotely a rival to classical music. Almost all prog rock
    was mind-numbingly stupid, the compositions slight, the lyrics frankly
    hilarious.”

    So true, Rod, so true.

    “The truth is, the upper middle classes don’t get the medium of rock music — which is fine. It is, as Roger Scruton once observed, a somewhat limited medium.”

    I highly recommend Scruton’s ‘The Aesthetics of Music’.

    • pedestrianblogger

      You want musical aesthetics? I give you probably the finest prog rock act ever (apart from the Doobie Brothers): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8C-BwAbAdc

      • Hugh Jeego

        Otway is a true rock hero. Possibly the best thing to come out of Aylesbury since the ducks.

        • pedestrianblogger

          I didn’t know that the ducks had come out. Thanks for the info. Wild Willy is still going strong and well worth seeing, if he is playing in your part of the world.

      • I had to turn the sound way down to look without contracting some sort of musically transferred disease. Unbelievable.

  • David S

    There was almost nothing listenable in 1984-5 – I’m glad I was long past 18 then. What would a contemporary of Dave and Dellers with better taste have listened to while passing the spliffs around?

    • Oedipus Rex

      Tom Waits for starters; ‘Swordfish Trombones’, ‘Rain Dogs’ and ‘Frank’s Wild Years’ are all mid-80s. from about 82 to 86 from memory

  • Hugh Jeego

    My grandparents lived in a squat in Leytonstone, but that was in the ’70s. Well, I say a squat, but it wasn’t so much a squat as a sit-yourself-down-and-have-a-cup-of-tea. But it’s practically the same thing, really. And prog rock is, and always has been, great, so there. Except for ELP, obviously.

  • John Smith

    Labour were offering a free owl pre election . . .

  • R M

    Prog rock “lacks melody”..?

    Sorry, you’re just a bit of a musical ignoramus. If you find prog overlong or boring, fine, that’s coherent, but melody..? I don’t think you know what a melody is. Go listen to “21st Century Schizoid Man” or “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”. If you can’t hum those tunes afterwards, the problem is your musical ability.

  • Sean L

    Mate you sniffed so much Evo-stic you *forgot* the music, so now only remember the cliches. The tuneless inane stuff came *after* prog rock. The best of prog rock, Led Zep, Yes, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull is some of the best English music there’s been. And it is a very English genre, marrying blues-inspired rock riffs with traditional folk melodies. Consider the prog rock anthem, Stairway to Heaven; Ian Anderson’s flute on Living in the Past; listen to Yes’s Roundabout, with Steve Howe’s, guitar, Chris Squires’ (RIP) funky bass line, Rick Wakeman’s keyboards, still sounds great. As to left wing, which ones exactly? Wakeman? Anderson? Page, the Aleister Crowley fan? I don’t know where you get that association. The groups I associate with Sloaney types are Genesis and Dire Straits, the latter hardly qualifying as prog rock at all, neither as left wing, though both insipid musically I grant you. But the best rock of that 70s era is the some of the best rock ever. Hilarious first paragraph, by the way: “I won’t name him” – very funny!

    • Scradje

      Rick Wakeman has many anecdotes about being the only Tory in Yes. I recall one about the band’s eating habits. The other musos, being right-on lefties, had an organic chef to prepare vegan meals for them when on tour. Rick had his own chef to prepare roast chicken with all the trimmings, which the others regarded with deep distain. Until one day when the cooking aroma reminded them of how hungry they were. One after another, with embarrassed, sheepish faces, each begged him for a portion, swearing him to secrecy. He also claimed to have consumed an entire curry on stage while the band were in the middle of a meandering piece that did not require his services. He is an outstanding musician and a great raconteur.

      • Sean L

        Well I served Chris Squires’ a few times in a fine wine shop on Charlotte St in the early 80s, where I had a part-time job – those were the days when the only wine you’d get at the supermarket or off-license was Blue Nun or Le Piat D’or. He parked his Rolls Royce in front of the shop and tasted some wines in the back of the shop with us. And I wouldn’t characterise him or those 70s hippies he typified as particularly ‘left wing’ either. Certainly not as we understand it today. Liddle’s off the mark there. If anything the fashionable mysticism of Tolkien or occultism of Aleister Crowley embraced by the likes of Led Zeppelin and Bowie had far right associations. John Lennon wasn’t typical. And there was nothing left wing about the Beatles’ Indian guru either – with 83% taxes it wasn’t really an option…

  • 70s Playboy

    97% of music scientists agree that progrock emissions contribute to Global Boring

  • magi83

    The whole pretence of ‘being cool’ is of the left I think, as it was a way to attach greater significance to low culture. The upper classes (or indeed those who are simply self satisfied) don’t need to impress anyone so are prone to self indulgences such as prog rock. Then you have more recent bands such as Sonic Youth and Radiohead who pioneered mixing the self-consciously hip with the self indulgent.

  • Scradje

    There are quite a few conservative rock stars, but their handlers tend to advise them to keep it quiet: Prince, Phil Collins, Jeff Baxter (Steely Dan), the late Elvis, the late Johnny Ramone, Alice Cooper, Bill Wyman, Mick Jagger (closet Tory), Mike Love, Eric Clapton, Ted Nugent, the late Ian Curtis, Meatloaf, Charlie Daniels, Brian Wilson, Gene Simmons, the late Frank Zappa.

  • Landphil

    Diane Abbott on the back of Corby’s motorbike – wheely?

  • EnglandLaments

    Most musicians and luvvies pretend to be leftie Rod – it goes with the territory. Sometimes it is down to a purely cynical marketing decision (identify with the fans) and sometimes, extremely rich, privileged artistes feel they have to wear their hearts on their sleeves via a contrived and wholly synthetic leftism (Emma Thompson comes to mind).

  • 70s Playboy

    And yes, yes the right has appalling taste in music. It’s not just the prog rock – it’s the ABBA devotion as well

    • And what exactly is wrong with ‘Dancing Queen’? Or ‘Thank You For The Music’? Or even ‘Money, Money, Money’ (one of the first songs I was aware that I liked, along with ‘Run To Me’ by the Bee Gees).

      • 70s Playboy

        If I have to explain it I can’t explain it. Although I agree that all the songs you mention are great songs. But “I wanna be your dog” by Iggy Pop is equally good.

        • Don’t know Iggy Pop. I think we all listen to music for different purposes at different times. Sometimes I want cheery, other times I want reflective, and sometimes I appreciate the merely giddy. Nothing beats melodic jazz, though.

          • 70s Playboy

            I like swamp and murder ballads, funk and soul, a bit of intelligent hip hop and indie rock. Viva la difference.

          • Indeed. It would be dull if we had to pick one genre and listen to nothing else!

  • Emmet

    Punk – The most over rated, loved by the media, but unpopular music genre in British history.

  • paulme

    Isn’t Norman Lamont famed for his impression of a Scops Owl?

  • mountolive

    I feel compelled to tell you that proper music began with Little Feat (and The Allman Bros)

  • Tad_Porter

    Unfortunately, he never seems to have emerged from his Sandinista(!) phase.

  • disqus_sX1NNSRxnF

    Usual Spectator bollocks

  • Frampton Comes Alive. Great album. Haven’t thought of that since the last time I was immersed in it, about five years ago.

    • Matt Westwood

      Superb album. Shame it was the last listenable thing he ever did. Even Frank Zappa ripped Frampton to shreds after this.

      • I’d rather do one big thing right than a lot of lesser things not-quite. Frampton had his moment, and it will shine on.

  • PRESS GANG

    I think this piece must have been an initiation ceremony of some bizarre kind.

    That is, the Spectator said Liddle had to come up with one of the worst possible columns before he could join their inner sanctum.

    Read, instead,
    WHODUNNIT?
    http://wp.me/p3kXx7-3m
    which explains why Sun political editor Tom Newton Dunn is on the list of bent private eye Steve Whittamore’s list.

  • Annette

    The bird should have stayed in her cage in the sanctuary. She ought to have known that in going off with men off their heads, on bikes, made the ensuing proceedings her fault. Who else’s fault would it be? Come on!

    Thank the lord she didn’t have a merry down or flash her knickers.

    Anyway, to change the subject,

    Im just off to watch The Hairy Bikers getting naked with strangers in a sauna in Finland. I hope they’ll be alright.

  • Freddythreepwood

    All this pretentious twaddle surrounding popular music gives me a pain in the nether regions. Born in the early 40s and was there in the 50s.
    I know it’s only Rock n Roll, and I like it.

  • Murti Bing

    Why no mention of Van Der Graaf Generator? Shame on you all!

    • Because probably, like me, he’s never heard of it.

  • mightymark

    How dissappointing. I thought the article would continue after the line:

    “East Germany!’ we all shouted, as one”

    with

    “and the rest is history”.

  • Matt Westwood

    I completely get where the mindset of the “writer” of this piece of utter trash is coming from. I listen to Supertramp, when I’m in the mood, and I’m partial to a bit of Dire Straits, and I’ve even got a couple of U2 albums in my collection. Prog rock’s great, it keeps the brain cells ticking over when I’m working on analysing a tricky requirement. Floyd, early Genesis, Tangerine Dream, Van der Graaf Generator, Soft Machine, wonderful stuff. I love Kate Bush, Neil Young and Rush, and I have a hearty soft spot for Killing Joke and PIL. But I have a distaste for people who consider themselves morally superior to other people just because of the music they prefer to listen to. And most of all, I utterly despise people who ridicule other people because the music they like happens to be (shock, horror) unfashionable.

    • But since their ridicule means nothing, why go to all the trouble of utterly despising them?

      • Matt Westwood

        Because it’s a poisonous and insidious argument that some (nay, most, I ween) will read and acknowledge and take to heart. “Ooh dear, can’t vote for him, he’s (gasp) *unfashionable*. He listens to music that people liked in the *seventies*! Ooh the shame!” By casting a small candle upon this intellectual fascism, I do my small part to fight it.

  • artemis in france

    Rod, am I allowed to like The Eagles if I also like Cream and Led Zeppelin?(Clapton’s definitely not left-wing. ). Incidentally while Don Henleyis now tiresomely “green” , Glenn Froy always strikes me as the more pragmatic and a better songwriter. See some of us like melody and rhythm all in one. Just because a band is hugely successful doesn’t mean it’s crap.

    • I wish you hadn’t mentioned the Eagles. I had that ghastly ‘take it easy’ song in my brain until I applied the antidote (‘Robin Hood’, cures all musical obsessions). The only Eagles song I can tolerate without Gaviscon is ‘Tequila Sunrise’, and that’s only because a quinquennium in Texas stiffened my guts. I can even tolerate ‘Hotel California’ if there’s something nice to drink at hand.

  • Cornelius Bonkers

    Abbott and Corbyn “at it” – imagine it and baaaaarrrrffff…..

    • Oh hello, Bonkers. I don’t think the vision is pretty even if you give them anybody else. But then I think we are all rather anti-aesthetic in that department. I do think that, chimpanzees and baboons apart, humans these days are the Ugly Ape. (Obesity and skinny fat, eh?)

      • Cornelius Bonkers

        Yo Calli, you are of course correct on the matter of human aesthetics; except many of the folk I see promenading through Romford – going from one takeaway to the next – would like to be as svelte and attractive as most baboons. But on the Abbott question, her physical appearance is only the beginning of the horror. Personalities can make some folk even uglier – and as for those hamsters she wears on her head???.

        • I agree: personality makes all the difference. Well, a great deal, anyway. : )

          • Cornelius Bonkers

            Except in the case of Abbott of course…

  • Xyth

    There is no deluxe version of ‘Brothers in Arms’. I know this as fan of Dire Straits. And Supertramp. And I effing LOVE prog rock. Yet I’ve never once had the urge to molest a dead pig, the NHS, the poor, the environment, or vote Tory.

  • Did someone mention the Stones? A mixed bag after the early stuff (what a bunch of poseurs they have always been, though). OK, that’s the kick; here’s the rose: this is fresh as the day it was dug from the soil of someone’s imagination. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fa4HUiFJ6c

  • And no one yet to my knowledge has mentioned the most brilliant popular-music band of all time, on any continent. The greatest, the Mozart and Beethoven of folk, blues, rock and jazz (they are round and don’t fit the squares).

    It’s the category-breaker of bands, it’s the band you never imagined. It’s the Grateful Dead (live performances ONLY, for preference in the early to mid to late 1970s: this is important: before that they were learnin’, after that they were declinin’).

  • Aritz Branton

    “B Movies” – Gil Scott Heron

  • Frank Marker

    Anything by Roy Wood. One of the great pop talents this country has ever produced.

  • Frank Marker

    Stranded by Roxy Music is a mindf**ker of an album. Just listen to Bryan snarling out the lyrics to Street Life. So much better than his later tedious crooning period.

    Curved Air anyone? Or should I get my hat and coat?

  • Gary Johnson

    If you wish to check out some more modern prog may I suggest John Mitchells Lonely Robot project. This years Please Come Home album is well worth a listen.

  • Neil Saunders

    Corporate rock like U2 or Dire Straits is horrible beyond words, as is most Prog Rock, but punk itself is an utterly overrated racket (in two senses of the word).

    Apart from punk itself, does Rod really like the hairy-armpit whinings of Patti Smith, the Mockney rantings of Dorset-dwelling squire, Billy Bragg, or the millionaire “indie” artists drooled over by the teenage reviewers of the Independent and the Guardian?

    Since The Beatles, most rock music has been rubbish.

  • Panegyric

    Iggy Pop right wing? That’s why he associated with the MC5 and the White Panthers, no doubt. Know your punk if you’re going to slap down prog rock, dude.

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