Friday, 24 October 2014

Calypso to Collapso

Today’s bad record (well, bad download) appears here by request. The fact that the track – UKIP Calypso by The Independents - has now been ‘withdrawn’ and so (in theory) will soon become harder to find is an added bonus. Grab it while you can – if you can be bothered.

The Independents are, or rather is, DJ and professional Cliff Richard impersonator Mike Read. On Wednesday of this week (October 22), Read turned to the press to announce that he was pulling his own song, a track he had happily promoted just two days before, following criticism that it was racist.

He said that he was sorry for “unintentionally causing offence” with the tune, which he performs in a fake Caribbean accent. Read had defended his song after some objected to his using calypso music to promote Ukip’s anti-immigration agenda. “It was never meant to be remotely racist,” he said. “It’s an old-fashioned political satire … you can’t sing a calypso with a Surrey accent.” The song’s withdrawal ruined Ukip leader Nigel Farage’s hope that the song would reach No 1.

Read said: “I’m so sorry that the song unintentionally caused offence. That was never my intention and I apologise unreservedly if anyone has taken offence. I’ve asked the record company to withdraw the single immediately.” Clearly his 'record company' wern't listening: at the time of writing the track was still available through Amazon.

Currently fronting a post-lunch magazine show on BBC Radio Berkshire, the ghastly Read has a history of issuing bad recordings: in 2009 he released – as The Shooting Stars - the dismal download-only single My Christmas Card to You. Fellow former Radio 1 DJ David Hamilton – who has previously appeared on this blog – turns up in the video but doesn’t actually perform on the song. Issued to raise money for charity, I can’t imagine the modest royalties this piece of trash would have garnered would have bought many bandages. Read has claimed that UKIP Calypso was also issued to raise funds for a charity, this time for the Red Cross and the fight against Ebola. The Red Cross have issued a statement saying that they would not accept a penny from the sales of Read’s racist rant.
And racist it is. Ignore his pathetic claim that ‘you have to sing a calypso in a Jamaican accent. I like Jamaicans; honest’ or whatever the twice bankrupt looser said, you cannot escape the fact that any song that contains the couplet ‘open the borders let them all come in/ Illegal immigrants in every town’ is a tad less than welcoming to non-Brits. UKIP Calypso is not Read’s first brush with political posturing: the smug dick is a former Tory supporter who, in 2006, entertained guests at a Conservative Conference dinner with a ten-minute political rap!

UKIP Calypso is awful: production values are non-existent and the 'cover' art must have taken about two  minutes to toss off. One can't help wondering if this pile of crap was issued with the express intention of its being banned or withdrawn, simply in order to gain more press overage for the racist, homophobic, right wing nutjobs currently masquerading so successfully as a proper political party. Read's ridiculous song is not the first to bolster the party faithful: last year Anna-Marie Crampton issued the appalling dance tune Better Vote Ukip which - like its author - sank like a stone. Ms Crampton was suspended by the party soon after over reports that she had posted anti-Semitic comments online. 

Read’s attempts to realise musical greatness go back 35 years. In 1979 he wrote and performed the song High Rise under the name The Trainspotters and followed this in 1980 with My Town as The Ghosts. He wrote the lyrics to the theme from the TV series Trainer, recorded by his idol Cliff Richard as More to Life. In 1991 he provided a guest rap on Slade's UK Top 30 hit Radio Wall of Sound. More recently he’s had minor chart hits with re-recordings of Hank Mizell's Jungle Rock and Mungo Jerry's In the Summertime and, in 2005, his song Grief Never Grows Old (released by the One World Project, which again included Sir Cliff in its number) actually made the UK Top Five, raising money for charities working with tsunami victims. He’s also written music to accompany poems written by John Betjeman and has staged a number of musicals, including Young Apollo (a musical about the life of Rupert Brooke); Oscar (a 2004 show about Oscar Wilde which was derided by critics and closed after one performance) and Cliff - The Musical (which closed after three months, probably because Read took one of the lead roles).

Well known to TV viewers for presenting the 80s shows Saturday Superstore and Pop Quiz, in 2004 he was one of the contestants recruited for the outback-based ITV show I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here, although his stay in the jungle was short-lived and he became the first ‘celebrity’ to be evicted. Two days later John Lydon walked out of the show (it’s unlikely that the two events were in any way related).

If all that wasn’t enough to hate, in 2007 he foisted his Choc Art on the world: ‘paintings’ made with liquorice allsorts and other sweets – including a reinterpretation of the Beatles’ iconic Abbey Road and Sgt Pepper sleeves that look like they were slung together by a five-year-old. Oh, and he was entirely responsible for having Relax banned from the airwaves (even though he’s since tried to claim otherwise). Would you be surprised to discover that he once worked as an estate agent? 

If you'd like to know more about the shady world of music and politics there's a whole chapter on the subject in The World's Worst Records Volume Two - although for that you'll have to wait until next year!


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