What do you make of last night's student protests in Paris? The issue revolves around new French employment laws that make it possible for employers to fire new workers without warning or valid reason during their first two years of employment. This outrageous law is clearly not fair on the employees, but I think that it's not the only thing that brought about this weekend's protests. The matter has served as a catalyst for other discomforts that the new generation of French university students have been enduring in recent times.
I can't see the same thing happening in Malta, even if there are similar discontents that the Maltese students are enduring. My feeling is that 'freedom' doesn't mean the same thing in Malta as it does in France. Although I'm not someone who joins bandwagons of protest related to material concerns, I sincerely believe that there's more in the current French student action than meets the eye. This is why I joined the Virtual Sit-In organized by Electronic Disturbance Theater and Boarderland Hacklabs in solidarity with the actions against precarity over this weekend.
During the virtual sit-in I took some time to produce my weekly podcast. This week's edition of Mużika Mod Ieħor opens with the title track from Ray and the Characters' 1995 album The Truth. The main reason I played this song is simply to mention the recently announced reunion for The Rifffs. Alex Grech has done a good job publicizing this coming together of what is arguably one of the best bands to appear in Malta over the last 40 years. If all this is (good) news to you, make sure you mark the 29th of April on your calendar as the day The Rifffs reunite at Tattingers in Rabat for their first gig together in about 25 years.
During my recent trip to Malta, I managed to bring back with me to Scarborough a number of cassette recordings from my old personal collection, which still inhabits my parents' home in Sliema. Among these cassettes is one of my most treasured recordings: Tony Grimaud's 1984 Rock Mass at Santa Teresa's Church in B'Kara. My selection for this week's podcast is a delicious stereo rendition of a song called I'm Going Down. I'm sure you can sense the electricity even from this low-tech live recording.
Aside from the fact that this is a rare recording of Tony Grimaud at the peak of his life as a musician in the 1980s, I'm also very fond of this recording because it features other top Maltese musicians from that time. The first of these is guitarist Twanny Mifsud (a.k.a. ic-Chambillai), who became Artwork's lead guitarist just one year after playing in this band with Grimaud. While I still admire Twanny as a significant creative force during the years I played music in rock bands in the 1980s, his tenure in Artwork was short lived due to the proverbial musical differences. Years later I came to realize that his approach was actually more experimental than Artwork was comfortable with. In hindsight, it's one of those things that should have never happened. (Note to self: make sure you write more about this in your autobiography.)
Grimaud's Easter Rock Mass band featured Louis Naudi on drums. Louis was another musician I was lucky to play with on several occasions, including a couple of theatre productions, an Artwork gig, and my first "solo" band after Artwork. A few week's ago I featured a track from Acoustika, the last band he was involved in before his premature death in 2004. This week's podcast features another track from their CD album Acoustic Dream. This time I'm playing their version of Freddie Portelli's anthemic Viva Malta rendered into a flamenco number.
As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, Acousika's Joseph Micallef has started podcasting on a fairly regular basis. His podcasts are in English and feature music by his favourite guitarists. He has also signed-up Acoustika to the Podsafe Music Network, which is a remarkable online resource for podcasters and musicians alike. I'm planning to feature the Podsafe Music Network in a future edition of Mużika Mod Ieħor.
On a similar note of upcoming features, I close this week's podcast with Waltz, my preferred track off the Beangrowers' Dance Dance Baby. The Beanies will be embarking on a week-long mini-tour of the UK starting in Manchester on Thursday the 29th of March, also appearing in Leeds, Lancaster, London and Brighton, where their gig at The Engine Room has Ronnie & The Refugees billed as the opening act. This gives me an excellent excuse to open next week's podcast with Ronnie Busuttil's music.
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