Paul Charman: Let Vladimir Putin fear Robbie Williams

By Paul Charman

Robbie Williams seems to have penned a modern protest song.
Robbie Williams seems to have penned a modern protest song.

Robbie Williams' latest single Party Like a Russian makes cutting but veiled references to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Though the song has bombed in the charts, I say good effort Robbie.

It's amazing that popular culture has - until your song at least - largely left alone a man, directly or indirectly, thought to be the architect of so much suffering - from the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko to the shooting down of Flight MH17 over Ukraine.

Few would dare to compare showman Robbie to Nobel prize-winning poet Bob Dylan, and fair enough.

But by shining a light on Putin - albeit in his over-sexed, played-for-laughs song and video - Williams has achieved in this generation what Dylan did in his.

To me Party Like a Russian is today's Blowing in the Wind.

It is today's Masters of War, or probably as near as we're going to get . . .

And while Robbie may not have penned the best-ever protest song, at least he had a go:
Ain't no refutin' or disputin' I'm a modern Rasputin
So contract disputes to some brutes in Louboutin
Act highfalutin while my boys put the boots in
Yeah you can, can

Putin's "boys" are putting their boots into the Syrian city of Aleppo as you read this. Syria's military, backed by Russian warplanes killed more than 150 people in eastern Aleppo this week alone, part of a renewed bombardment supporting an offensive to seize the city's shattered rebel-held sector.

Vladimir Putin wants Russia to be great again.
Vladimir Putin wants Russia to be great again.

Tens of thousands of civilians are being prevented from receiving aid, ultimately on Putin's orders. Russia and its Syrian allies refuse to accept a deal, which would allow the few hundred rebel fighters in Aleppo to leave the war-zone peacefully. Putin prefers the status quo - to wage war on the handful of combatants, though it means blasting and starving tens of thousands of civilians left trapped in the city.

Right now the world is forced to watch on, but seemingly impotent to help. The aid trucks dare not set out for fear of being bombed. It's as if we (the people of every nation) are dining around the same table; trying to enjoy the meal but interrupted by the screams of somebody getting kicked to death.

In my view, it is obvious on whose orders this attack is taking place. Apparently Putin wants Russia to be great again - as it was during the Soviet era - and to that end, if he can't win respect he'll settle for fear.

But despite a professed Orthodox Christian faith the Russian President doesn't really seem too worried about Judgment Day.

He may be sensitive about Russia's image abroad though . . .
So I say let him dread Robbie Williams, who fully deserves to sing Party like a Russian at president-elect Hillary Clinton's official inauguration.

David Becker Tribune

On an equally happy note, celebrated American jazz trio the David Becker Tribune enchanted a good-sized audience at the Juice Bar, in Parnell's Windsor Castle Pub, last week.

 Once were Warriors sound track virtuoso Tama Renata. Photo / Paul Charman
Once were Warriors sound track virtuoso Tama Renata. Photo / Paul Charman

The show opener was guitar virtuoso Tama Renata (Once were Warriors sound track), who commands a cult following here in Auckland and who would have been a hard act for anyone to follow - even the famous Grammy Awards-nominated visitors.

But they were great too. David, brother Bruce (surely one of the best drummers ever) and stellar German bass player Wolfgang "Bolle" Diekmann, enchanted us with some new songs, plus a few tracks from Batavia.

David Becker and Gray Bartlett enchant with the Black Orpheus theme. Photo / Paul Charman
David Becker and Gray Bartlett enchant with the Black Orpheus theme. Photo / Paul Charman

This is an album influenced by the experiences of the Becker brothers' mother and her family in Indonesia, recounting their internment in a Japanese concentration camp during World War II.

Batavia was voted one of the Best World Music recordings of 2010 by World Music

Highlight of the evening was David and his buddy, Gray Bartlett, jamming their heritage guitars, all around the theme to 1959 musical Black Orpheus.

Seldom gets better for Auckland jazz lovers.

- NZ Herald

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