Gone are the bad old days when we had rubbish prime ministers like Margaret Thatcher who, in all seriousness, chose the Beverley Sisters' version of How Much is That Doggie in the Window as her favourite song. Instead, we are fortunate enough to have a prime minister who is both sexy and cool. Sexy? "He is every woman's favourite shape, 6ft tall, good shoulders, lean hips, weighing just under 13 stone, less than he did 10 years ago," drools Valerie Grove this week in an exclusive interview with Tony Blair for Saga magazine to celebrate his 50th birthday. Cool? "Every so often, I feel I should graduate to classical music, properly," the PM tells doe-eyed Valerie. "But the truth is, I'm more likely to listen to rock music. I listen to what the kids play."
But what exactly does the snake-hipped sexpot dig, rock music-wise? Mark Ellen, who 33 years ago played with the prime minister in the Oxford student band Ugly Rumours, disclosed on Radio 4's Today programme yesterday that Blair still loves Free and King Crimson.
Yeah, that's what the kids are playing all right, if by the kids you mean Tim Dunlop, who will probably find the Free revelation amusing. Me, I'm left giggling at this bit:
And yet it is one of King Crimson's songs that still weighs heavily on the prime minster. "I saw him not long ago and we spent about 20 minutes talking about the music we listened to at college," said Ellen. "We were talking about 21st Century Schizoid Man, which had an incredible guitar solo in the middle of it."
The track 21st Century Schizoid Man is the first on the 1969 album In the Court of the Crimson King, a record that bears responsibility for launching the progressive rock movement in all its misguided pomp, Tolkienesque noodling and sonata-form mellotron solos.
Anyone who's got KC's Epitaph album and read Fripp's "prog rock pond scum" essay therein will have an idea of what he'd make of a statement like that. He's probably wishing he'd held off releasing the latest album until this article appeared so he could work that into the booklet notes...