Australia’s Today Tonight exposes the deceptive use of transglutaminase AKA meat glue to unknowing consumers. This video might make you rethink your next purchase of rump roast at the local supermarket. Just watch.
Hardcore heroes Fucked Up’s new album is released today. David Comes To Life is being touted in some quarters as a modern classic, a rock opera romance for the ages set in 80s Thatcherite Britain. So is it that good? You can make your own mind up by listening to it in full at this link. Or, if you like what you have already heard, you can just go ahead and buy it here. There is more info on the album at Davidcomestolife.com.
British stand up comedian Stewart Lee has returned to the BBC with a second series of his opinion dividing show Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle. A ratings flop on its first run, it seems like a small miracle that it has made it back to our screens at all. Not least because a lot of hardcore comedy heads just don’t like it - and that includes some of our own writers here at DM, who have turned off episodes of the show in the past.
Lee was one half of the hip 90s alt comedy duo Lee and Herring, who starred in the cultish TV shows Fist of Fun and This Morning with Richard Not Judy. Since parting with Herring some years ago, Lee has followed a more polemical route without resorting to agitprop or being in-yer-face. He also took a very long hiatus from TV before returning in 2009, and seems to have ironed out some of the flaws from the first series of Comedy Vehicle. The involvement of Chris Morris, Arnold Brown and Armando Iannucci has perhaps helped too (worth particular mention are the interview cut aways featuring a very spiteful Iannucci and a deflated Lee).
In comedy terms this is very much an acquired taste. If you are happy to be a passive consumer of lowest common denominator observational humor, then this is not the show for you. If you are a fan of slapstick or rapid fire gags, Lee does neither. Even if you consider yourself a comedic connoisseur and you get what is is that he does, you still might not like it. And I’m not going to lie, Lee can be very hit or miss. But when he hits he hits hard - to answer the question in the headline I think he might actually be a comedy genius.
Watching the first episode of series two, which is ostensibly about “Charity” but is actually about Lee’s fictional grandad’s love for crisps, I felt like I had never seen anyone perform comedy that was this self-reflexive yet this funny before. Maybe I was in the right place at the right time, and in the right frame of mind but Lee manages that incredibly rare, almost magical feat of signposting a joke from miles away yet making the journey to the punchline, and the payoff itself, very funny indeed. See his grandad’s “crisps”/“crips” confusion (and even the repetition of the word “crisps” itself). This had me in stitches - contrary to the suggestion by some critics that his style will inspire a smirk rather than a belly laugh.
Stewart Lee manages to deliver comedy about comedy that keeps an audience engaged and laughing, without resorting to crudity or obviousness. He walks the thin line of being very knowing, and also knowing that we know he knows, without (completely) disappearing up his own arse. The viewer definitely has to be in the right frame of mind to appreciate Lee’s tangental, mumbly approach but if you’re willing to invest a bit more attention to a stand up comic than normal, it is richly rewarded.
Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle - Series Two, Episode One “Charity” - Part One
Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle - Series Two, Episode One “Charity” - Part Two
Here’s a small piece of TV history as Sir Sean Connery kisses Richard Pasco in a BBC production of Jean Anouilh’s play Colombe from 1960.
This is the first ever male-to-male kiss aired on television. It would take the BBC another twenty-seven years to show two men kissing on-screen again, in an episode of the soap opera EastEnders. For fact-fans, the first man-to-man kiss in a major movie is claimed by Raf Valone in the 1962 feature Vu du Pont.
While this is a TV first, the kissing couple were not lovers but brothers. Connery’s character Julien believes his brother Paul (Pasco) is having an affair with his wife Colombe (Dorothy Tutin), and kisses Pasco to find out what makes him such a good lover. Hm, that old excuse?
This might seem like nothing to us today, but we should appreciate that homosexuality was outlawed in the UK, a criminal offense punishable by gaol, until 1967, when the law was repealed. Therefore, it was more than hugely controversial to have two grown men kissing on TV (whether brothers or not) for it could have finished the careers of both Connery and Pasco, as they would have been seen as “corrupting viewers’ morals” and open to attack from those hateful right-wing moral evangelists, like Mary Whitehouse, who wielded such frightening and dangerous power back then. So, three cheers for Sir Sean and Mr Pasco.
The play Colombe was believed to have been lost or deleted, but copies of the drama turned up in the U.S. last year, after a reseracher found copies that had been sent to broadcaster National Education Television. The programs have now been returned to the British Film Institute in London, where Colombe will screened today.
Did you see the footage of Republican Congressman Paul Ryan hot-footing it to his SUV to avoid being handed a Bible at the Faith and Freedom Coalition meeting yesterday? The young man who accosted Ryan, I believe is named James Salt. My hat is off to you, James. Bravo, sir! That took balls, and I’ll bet it was fun!
These days, when people question a politician’s “morality,” they usually mean his or her personal behavior and choices. But an interesting thing is happening right now around the GOP budget proposal. A broad coalition of religious voices is criticizing the morality of the choices reflected in budget cuts and tax policy. And they’ve specifically targeted Ryan and his praise for Rand, the philosopher who once said she “promote[d] the ethic of selfishness.”
Across the street from the Faith & Freedom Conference Friday afternoon, a group of religious leaders continued the attack on what they now consistently refer to as “The Ayn Rand Budget.” Father Cletus Kiley, a Catholic priest, declared the Ryan budget “does not pass our test” of Catholic teachings, and suggested that supporters of the budget “drop Ayn Rand’s books and pick up their sacred texts.”
Before Yo! MTV Raps and Rap City hit the markets in the late ‘80s, New York culture maven Michael Holman first made the move to put hip-hop culture on TV with the show Graffiti Rock.
In 1984, Holman—who played music with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Vincent Gallo in the legendarily obscure band Grey—got a bunch of banker friends to put together $150,000 to shoot the pilot for the series at Madison Ave. and 106th St. It screened on WPIX channel 11 in June 1984.
Holman turned the show into a seminar on the culture. Alongside future superstars Run D.M.C., Kool Moe Dee and Shannon—and cameos by “Prince Vince” Gallo and Debi Mazar—he featured his own crew the New York City Breakers, pieces by graf artist Brim, and hilarious slang translations. For the time, the show is pretty slick and ready for prime-time. Holman picks up the tragic story from there…
So the show airs and actually does much better than people thought! We got great ratings and aired in 88 syndicated markets, nationwide. But when we went to Las Vegas to sell the show at NAPTE (National Association of Producers of Television Entertainment) we hit a wall. First, the station managers (the people responsible for purchasing new shows in their markets) didn’t understand why “Graffiti Rock,” and hip hop was different to what Soul Train was offering. Secondly, certain stations wouldn’t take the chance to buy “Graffiti Rock,” unless other, larger markets did first. Chicago was waiting on L.A. to bite, and L.A. was waiting on New York. But the major New York syndicated stations at the time, were controlled by unsavory characters, and they wanted money under the table to put the show on the air! My main investors refused to deal with these forces (I of course would have done whatever I had to to get it on the air, and am still pissed they didn’t play along!)...
Graffiti Rock proved a legendary snapshot into what hip-hop TV was about to be. What a shot in the arm it would have been for the culture. Gnarls Barkley would later lovingly spoof Holman and the show for the video for their 2008 hit “Run” and before that, the Beastie Boys sampled Holman’s excellent little seminar on scratching in pt. 2 on their tune “Alright Hear This.”
I’ll leave part 3 of the YouTube of Graffiti Rock off this post in an appeal for you to reward a culture hero like Holman by buying the DVD.
It’s been a bad week for music with the passing last week of Gil Scott-Heron, and on Friday Andrew Gold. Now we have the sad news that producer Martin Rushent has died at the age of 63.
Rushent was one of the most influential producers of the late 1970s and 1980s, who created the soundscape that defined the era. If you turned on the radio back then, you were guaranteed to hear a Rushent-produced track within minutes, for Rushent was the touch of genius on some of the best work released by The Human League, Altered Images, The Stranglers, Generation X, The Associates and The Buzzcocks.
Though Rushent may be best remembered for his work producing (and performing on) the Human League’s album Dare and its hit single “Don’t You Want Me”, for which he won Best Producer at the 1982 Brit Awards, his influence was not kept to one band.
There was a trick I once heard, which claimed: if you ever travel around London, vaguely point in the direction of old churches and say Hawksmoor, you’re bound to be right, so prodigious was that architect’s work. The same can be said for Martin Rushent, hear any track from the late 1970s and especially the early 1980s, and if you can’t name the band just say, Martin Rushent and you’re bound to be right, for so prodigious, and impressive, was his output.
Rushent also produced The Stranglers first three albums, which as Louder Than War states:
Rushent, born in 1948, produced the Stranglers first three albums – creating that classic sound that was clear, punchy, dark and sleazy and groundbreaking all at the same time. With The Stranglers third album, ‘Black And White’ Rushent with engineer Alan Winstanley created a soundscape that was post punk before the term was even thought of.
He had a trademark sound. Each instrument had its place. he could make the complex sound simple and harnessed The Stranglers weird imagination and pop nous into something totally original and very commercial making them the best selling band of their period with a bass sound that launched a generation of bass players.
In an interview with Uncut Rushent recalled recording The Buzzcock’ biggest hit:
“Pete [Shelley] played me ‘Ever Fallen In Love…’ for the first time and my jaw hit the floor. I felt it was the strongest song that they had written-clever, witty lyrics, great hooklines. I suggested backing vocals-to highlight the chorus and make it even more powerful. No one could hit the high part-so I did it. I’d sung in bands in my youth and I also worked as a backing singer.”
Before his career with Punk, New Wave and Electronic bands, he worked on records by T Rex, David Essex and Shirley Bassey.
Rushent was said to be working on a 30th anniversary edition of Dare at the time of his death.
A Facebook page has been set up by Martin Rushent’s family to collect memories of the great man, which you can add to here.
The Stranglers - ‘No More Heroes’
Human League - ‘Open your Heart’
More Rushent-produced classic tracks, after the jump…
This is great wee documentary on one of cinema’s finest directors, John Carpenter: Fear Is Just the Beginning…The Man and His Movies, which examines the great man’s work over 4 decades.
Carpenter is an auteur in the style of Hitchcock, Hawks, Walsh and Fuller, who has managed to maintain his independence and singularity of vision against the fickleness of box office audiences and public taste. He also has a tremendous grasp of film history, which he references in his work: from Donald Pleasance’s doctor in Halloween taking the name of Samuel Loomis from Hitchcock’s Psycho, to re-interpreting Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo via George A Romero’s Night of the Living Dead in the classic Assault on Precinct 13.
John Carpenter: Fear Is Just the Beginning…The Man and His Movies interviews the maverick director and has contributions from Jamie Lee Curtis, Kurt Russell, Adrienne Barbeau, Debra Hill, and includes a look at the making of such favorites as Escape From New York, The Thing and The Fog.
It’s a Saturday night and I’m feelin’ alright… and this excellent dj mix is just too damn good not to share!
“Boogie” is an often overlooked subset of disco and funk. It peaked in the early 80s when many of the acts from the disco era looked for a new dancefloor style, swapped their guitars for synthesizers and modified their syncopation to suit the popular roller disco phenomenon. Though relatively short lived and with no major artists representing the style in the mainstream (outside of funk-pop acts like Cameo or the more P-Funk-y Zapp) it managed to be hugely influential. It reared its head again for a while in the 90s when many of the original records found themselves being sampled in hip-hop and in particular g-funk, courtesy of producers like Dr Dre. It’s a very West Coast sound, and when it comes down to it nobody knows boogie quite like Dam Funk.
Dam Funk - “Hood Pass Intact”
This native Los Angelino’s name should be familiar to music cognoscenti, as he has released a string of records to much critical acclaim on San Francisco’s Stones Throw label, including the mammoth 2009 5-LP set Toeachizown. A man with a strong fetish for original FM and analog synths, his sound is definitely heavily influenced by early 80s funk and disco and 90s hip-hop, while maintaining a singular sound and atmosphere.
But Dam Funk is not just a talented producer, he is also an excellent DJ, as this awesome set proves. Although he hosts a weekly funk shindig in Los Angeles called Funkmosphere, this recording is taken from the first birthday party of the London night Deviation, and uploaded to Soundcloud by the BBC Radio 1 DJ Benji B. Dam is what is known as a “personality DJ” who is not afraid to get on the mic, give shout outs to the audience, and tell us the names of the tunes he is playing. And damn are those tunes hot - I just keep playing this mix over and over, it’s that good.. You can find more info on Dam Funk (including tour dates, merch and downloads) on the Stones Throw website. But for now just hit play, blaze, boogie and have a great Saturday night:
Thanks to Kelvin Brown for the link.
The original video for Dam Funk’s DJ staple “Dangerzone” by Midnight Express (whose dancing zombies theme possibly pre-dates “Thriller”):