Censorship and Music

The latest piece of music to cause controversy and censorship is not a piece about sexual proclivity, drug abuse or one with parental advisory lyrics … merely one that discusses the issue of Post Truth Politics … Have we reached an all time low in participation and democracy when this happens? The BBC claims that it no longer bans any records but seems to have made an exception in this case. Perhaps it was told to?

Buy your copy of LIAR LIAR to highlight the folly of this strategy.  The East Germans and Russians were notable examples of  Governments that sought to control music in pursuit of a totalitarian state. All proceeds go towards food banks in the UK, now part of our “advanced society”.

Click to buy on iTunes

In case you have not heard the song, check out the You Tube video and then buy the track on iTunes, Google Play and so on. Support our campaign to improve our democracy and release us from self-harming Brexit at “Stop Hardcore Brexit

Famous songs that have fallen prey to censorship include Lola by the Kinks, School’s Out by Alice Cooper, Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood and more curiously With My Little Stick Of Blackpool Rock by George Formby which was censored. Banning is almost a surefire guarantee of a song’s popularity and one wonders at the wisdom of such things in an internet age.

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Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock and Human Dynamics, offering outstanding keynotes, masterclasses and longer term Business / OD, Coaching and Mentoring. He is author of 7 and a half books on business leadership. Check them out at Amazon.

A Bowie Tribute

Very short notice for this Bowie Tribute on Monday 29 May … here’s the press release for the event

Brexit Oddity

Painting by Jane Raggett

Ground Control to Theresa May, your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong?

David Bowie may have sung ‘Rebel Rebel’, but he could not have possibly have foreseen the impact that his music made on generations young and old. On Monday 29 May 6.00 pm – 8.30 pm, The No 10 Vigil, visit the Thin White Duke’s mural in Brixton for a tribute to The Man who Sold the World and a protest about The Woman who is Selling England by the Pound. Diane Datson, leader of the No 10 Vigil said:

“David Bowie came from my home town of Bromley. He was a great humanist and an earthling. The No 10 Vigil stands for a return of humanity to planet earth and a rejection of the self-harming strategy of Theresa May. Simply stated, we are here to Break Brexit Before Brexit Breaks Britain. In Bowie’s own words, we believe that Brexit is the work of ‘All the Madmen’ and we stand to educate people about Brexit Mayhem”.

The Bowie tribute is the brainchild of Peter Cook, leader of The Academy of Rock, an author, business speaker and musician who was crushed by the loss of Bowie, Prince and George Michael in 2016 amongst too many others.  He appeared on CNN the day that Bowie died, discussing the work of this great innovator and chameleon in music:

“David Bowie stood alongside Prince and George Michael as a great communicator and gamechanger, reaching people’s heads, hearts and souls. It was an impossible task to showcase Bowie’s huge canon of work across nearly 50 years. I was haunted by the last track on Bowie’s last album ‘I can’t give everything away’. Whilst the lyric seems to reflect on his passing, I cannot help but draw a comparison with everything we are about to throw away if we vote for hardcore Brexit on June 8th. In the words of Joni Mitchell You don’t know what you got till it’s gone”

Click to view CNN interview

Peter has performed with cult punk rocker John Otway, Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist Bernie Tormé Meatloaf’s singing partner Patti Russo and had a rock band with Dr Andrew Sentance, former Monetary Policy Committee Member at the Bank of England. He leads the musical direction of the No 10 Downing Street Vigil, which highlights concerns over Brexit at any cost to Leavers and Remoaners alike. Our work is featured on BBC Sunday Politics, The One Show, Breitbart, The Daily Express, The Daily Mail, Independent and The Guardian.

Smeared by Breitbart … The No 10 Vigil

The Sting

I was quite unprepared to see Sting in concert last night and overwhelmed by his superb musicianship, performance and width of his musical canon. I confess I had quite forgotten Gordon Sumner’s songwriting skills.  At the age of 66 his voice, playing and projection were in top form, giving all of us hope that age is no barrier to peak performance.

Perhaps the most poignant thing that connects me to Sting and his music is his solid values of human rights, environmental consciousness and sustainability. I was reminded of this through his lyrics and reconnected to my work for Amnesty International which started in the early 1980’s and which he epitomised through his song “They Dance Alone”. Sadly, Sting’s words remain relevant in these troubled times and I hope that our world leaders listen to him and others at such moments:

Convince an enemy, convince him that he’s wrong
Is to win a bloodless battle where victory is long
A simple act of faith
In reason over might
To blow up his children will only prove him right
History will teach us nothing

Hey Mr. Pinochet
You’ve sown a bitter crop
It’s foreign money that supports you
One day the money’s going to stop
No wages for your torturers
No budget for your guns
Can you think of your own mother
Dancin’ with her invisible son

We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
What might save us, me, and you
Is if the Russians love their children too

And especially his song for the Mothers of the Disappeared (Desaparecidos). This was Sting’s symbolic gesture of protest against the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, whose regime killed thousands of people between 1973 and 1990 … on first hearing this song many years ago, I wept uncontrollably about the unimaginable grief and strength of these mothers. There are no words that adequately convey the meaning of his song so I will let the song do the work itself:

We live once more in troubled times and it seems that our human race is about to forget its humanity. Our ability to learn from history seems limited. Watch the video, conduct your own research into what lies behind the concert that Sting gave and take action for a more humane society …

To finish, here are a few excerpts from Sting’s recent tour including tributes to David Bowie from his son and Prince – I was privileged to attend this. Big thanks to Debbie Poli, MD of Lapel Pin Badges for this opportunity. Debbie makes all the badges that I wear, including orders for the last David Bowie album, Virgin, Star Wars and my very special Prince love symbol badge.

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Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock and Human Dynamics, offering outstanding keynotes, masterclasses and longer term Business / OD, Coaching and Mentoring. He is author of 7 and a half books on business leadership. Check them out at Amazon.

Scotland The Brave

Music and the arts have been a staple of protest and their messages reach people much better than a spreadsheet. I’m delighted to have helped three Scottish National Party MP’s to sing “500 Miles” by The Proclaimers opposite Theresa May’s house in Downing Street the other day. Whilst I don’t want Scotland to leave the UK and nor do I want the UK to leave the EU, let’s try seeing the current state of affairs as it looks from Scotland and in 2019. First, check the SNP MP’s rockin’ out on Downing Street:

As far as I can see, Scotland’s choice if the UK leaves the EU will be:

A – Putting Scotland at the centre of its nearest and largest world market, whilst ALSO being able to trade with England as a full member of the EU.  It is indeed what Theresa May called the “having your cake and eat it too strategy”, except, in Scotland’s case, it would be true.

B – Joining what remains of the UK (probably England and possibly minus London, as recent events show) as “Little Britain” with a WTO style “deal or no deal”.

As such Nicola Sturgeon is quite right to look after the interests of the Scottish people by allowing them to have their say once the UK has revealed what kind of Brexit we are having (Red, White and Blue, Clean, Dirty, a “Brexity” kind of Brexit and so on … !! )

Critics also say that the Scottish referendum was a once in a lifetime affair and we cannot keep having them. Whilst I agree that the continual referenda are inconsistent with having a life and stable Government, on this occasion, Scotland’s vote in 2014 assumed that they would stay in the UK as a member of The EU. Our Brexit decision nullifies that position and Scotland mostly voted to stay in the EU so it is perfectly reasonable for Nicola Sturgeon to test the new decision.

The SNP MP’s, a dog and a random Viking, led by John McNally on the pavement opposite Mother Theresa’s house

Help Scotland defend itself from “Hard Boiled Brexit” – Click on the picture to help

Come on down to Richmond Terrace, opposite Downing Street every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6 – 9 pm to sing, chant, chat or just enjoy the frolics. Join the Facebook Group and find them on Twitter. Last week we had “Boris Johnson” singing Uptown Funk with a bunch of French students carrying a Breton flag. Strange things happen outside Theresa May’s House …

I must confess that I find it bizarre in the extreme that our elected MP’s felt compelled to reject a public vote on the naming of a Royal Navy ship as Boaty McBoatface, but compelled to accept an advisory referendum informed by gross lies on an issue of strategic importance to the country.  I think that they may seriously need some help in the area of strategy and decision-making …

Join us this Saturday on the StopBrexit March.  Tweet about it using the #StopBrexit hashtag and join our Tweetup this evening Tuesday 21 March from 6-9 pm via AcademyofRock using hashtags #Scotland #ScotlandinEurope #No10Vigil

Brexit Breaks Britain

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics, helping companies develop sensible strategies to give them sustainable leadership through OD / high-level Facilitation and Coaching. He also heads The Academy of Rock, offering keynotes and conference designs that blend business excellence with the power of music. Check his books out on Amazon:

 

 

Punk Rock Brexit – Mixing Pop and Politics

“Mixing Pop and Politics, You ask me what the use is

I answer with embarrassment and my usual excuse”

Billy Bragg

Quite simply music reaches people much better than a spreadsheet and I’ll be performing some songs of Rebellion opposite Downing Street tonight Friday 10 March, with the Richmond Terrace Group. The group protest against Theresa May’s “deal or no deal Kamikaze Brexit” every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6 pm till 9 pm.

For the occasion, we have re-written Rod Stewart’s Maggie May, OMD’s Enola Gay, Bruno Mars Uptown Funk and The Wild Rover by The Dubliners.  The Wild Rover needed few modifications to turn the story into one I’ve heard many times of late – the tale of a Brexiter who has realised they were ‘played’ by the tabloid press and now wish we could escape Theresa May’s appropriation of “the will of the people” for her own personal gain and a place as The Iron Lady II, when comparisons are at best restricted to fashion and hair styling.

The refrain “Rise up your kilt” may be added to recognise the way that Nicola Sturgeon has consistently supported the EU and for the Irish Prime Minister’s support last night in Brussels

Theresa May’s behaviour does not fit any rational mould and I can only assume her childhood was deprived of love and affection due to privilege ….

Come down and singalong with the “Remoaners” !!  6 pm start and Boris is making an appearance …

It is rumoured that Theresa May will invoke Article 50 on Tuesday once she has savaged her elder and wiser colleagues in The House of Lords once again, in fear of a revolt from her own party and a surprise formation of a credible opposition to an unelected dictatorship.

Join the Facebook group

Find The Richmond Group on Twitter – Use hashtag #No10Vigil

Finally, one of my favourite protest songs from the great Billy Bragg.

What a pity he is not the leader of the opposition – we would not have this mess.

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics, delivering exceptional business and organisation development without sex, politics or rock’n’roll. He is also CEO of The Academy of Rock, offering keynotes that blend MBA themes with parallel insights from music, reaching your head, heart and soul. Author of 7 1/2 books on leadership, innovation and creativity. Check them out on Amazon.

 

Zane, Zane, Zane – Ouvrez Le Chein

It is one year since David Bowie left planet earth and it is indeed blue in the cold of January.  Here are some links that mark Bowie’s extraordinary life:

My Eulogy to Bowie

The BBC documentary – The Last Five Years

Rolling Stone’s obituary

Blackstar

The London Boys by my friends Raf and O

CNN interview

Tony Visconti talks about the making of Heroes

 

bowie

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock. Author of 7 1/2 books on Leadership, Innovation and Creativity. Read more about David Bowie on Amazon.

TMOB NEW EDITION COVER

Click on the picture to check the book out

Listen Without Prejudice – George Michael R.I.P.

I confess I had eschewed white soul music in the early 1980’s, due to being young and too focused on guitars and experimental synthesiser music. I therefore missed the arrival of Wham on the music scene. Sure, I was aware of their music, but carelessly dismissed it as bubblegum pop. Even their studio engineer Chris Porter initially saw Wham as just a teen band. It took a six-week business trip to Jakarta in 1983 and a long weekend in Bali to begin to understand the genius of George Michael. Sitting in a bar in Kuta drinking Emu lager and listening to “Wham Rap”, “Ray of Sunshine” and “Club Tropicana” on almost continual repeat in the bars was enough to hook me. Enough has already been written in the British Tabloid press about the sensational aspects of George Michael’s life and, to be frank, none of it interests me. The real point of an artist’s life is their artistry and it is to this that I am turning in this article.

My first surprise was George Michael’s personal transformation from disco diva to a world acclaimed soul and ballad singer, something which I should have spotted through my close encounter with Wham in Bali but which I somehow missed when his voice was bubble-wrapped in plastic pop music. I first paid attention to Michael’s voice when he produced “A Different Corner”, the beginning of a shift that would take several years to ferment and which was finally consolidated in 1990 when he released “Listen Without Prejudice”, an album whose title seemed for me to cut the ties with pure pop music and which elevated him to an international superstar. Michael refused to have his picture on the album in a principled decision to present the music and not the man.

What is also quite surprising about George Michael is just how his career was built on relatively few music releases.  After the fast and furious output of Wham, Michael only released 5 studio albums in 30 years, even less than that of the perfectionist Kate Bush. This is in contrast with David Bowie, with 27 albums over an extended period and in extreme contrast with Prince, with 39 studio albums and, reputedly with a vault of unreleased material that could last a generation. Notwithstanding court battles with record companies, it seems that George Michael would spend years working on an album until he was satisfied with it.

George Michael offered us object lessons in authenticity and ethics in his work to help educate the world about HIV / AIDS and his humanitarian work in general. A hallmark of great leaders is their ability to retain a sense of who they are by “touching the ground” from time to time. George Michael did this many times, through his private philanthropy, much of which remained a secret until his passing. I was passionately interested in HIV / AIDS through my work as a pharmaceutical scientist in bringing the first treatment to market in record time. Had we known more about this terrible condition earlier, we might still have had Freddie Mercury here today. Aside from his humanitarian work, George Michael was one of the few singers able to step into Mercury’s shoes vocally and in terms of his performance at Freddie’s tribute concert, as is evident in this performance:

The wider music world also recognised Michael’s vocal talents, having performed with Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Ray Charles, Beyonce, Paul McCartney, Whitney Houston and many more. Frank Sinatra even wrote him a letter advising him not to waste his talent.

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At a personal level, the Wham T-Shirt “Choose Life” made as big an impact upon me as any MBA course and eventually informed my decision to leave a very well-paid job and start my own business some 23 years ago. For that phrase alone, I shall be eternally grateful to George Michael.

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At a global level 2016 unleashed so many disruptive forces in the world and George’s words express my hopes for 2017 better than anyone else:

And it’s hard to love, there’s so much to hate

Hanging on to hope

When there is no hope to speak of

And the wounded skies above say it’s much too late

Well maybe we should all be praying for time

George Michael 1963-2016 – You have been loved