My Dangerous Mind compatriot Brad Laner posted a link to this wonderful documentary about Rough Trade Records awhile ago. Unfortunately, Laner’s link to the documentary no longer exists. Ah, but luckily, a really fine quality version was recently uploaded to the Web and I just had to share.
Brad’s description of Do It Yourself: The Story Of Rough Trade as “a fascinating glimpse into the history of the seminal indie label/empire” is exactly what it is.
I have a soft spot in my heart for Rough Trade because they released one of my very first 45 rpm records.
I was only made aware of this speech by Eric Clapton at a 1976 gig in Birmingham, UK, the other day, but It’s truly disgusting. Here’s a relatively short sample (quoted from Rebel Rock by J. Street (1986) and sourced from New Musical Express, Melody Maker, The Guardian and The Times):
Stop Britain from becoming a black colony. Get the foreigners out. Get the wogs out. Get the coons out. Keep Britain white. I used to be into dope, now I’m into racism. It’s much heavier, man. Fucking wogs, man. Fucking Saudis taking over London. Bastard wogs. Britain is becoming overcrowded and Enoch will stop it and send them all back.
It goes on for a lot longer than that - the entire speech can be heard in the animated YouTube clip below. The “Enoch” Clapton is referring to is the notorious English politician Enoch Powell who in 1968 made the infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech, also in Brimingham. How Clapton didn’t get crucified at the time in the popular press is beyond me, as is the fact that the rest of the concert continued as normal, with no rioting or no bottling. The activist group Rock Against Racism was set up as a direct response to these remarks. Clapton has never properly apologised - how does he still get away with receiving so much praise and acclaim? Fuck Eric Clapton.
It’s Ken Russell’s birthday, and to wish the great genius of British cinema many happy returns, here is his classic 1962 film on Edward Elgar.
Originally made for the prestigious BBC arts series Monitor to celebrate the series 100th episode. Commissioned by Arts Editor, Huw Wheldon, Russell’s film was TV’s first dramatized-documentary, “a major milestone in the history of the television documentary, whose impact was such that it was quickly repeated after its initial broadcast on 11 November 1962, an almost unprecedented honor at the time,” as Michael Brooke at Screen Online explains:
Elgar was made under a series of Wheldon-imposed restrictions, notably a ban on dramatisations of the lives of real people. Russell agreed a compromise: although Elgar and his contemporaries would be portrayed by actors, they would never speak and would mostly be filmed in long shot. Russell exploited these limitations brilliantly, the absence of dialogue letting him fill the soundtrack with almost wall-to-wall Elgar, including pieces that had rarely been heard since their composition. Wheldon himself contributed the relatively sparse narration, but the film’s true eloquence comes from the fusion of Elgar’s music and Russell’s images.
Given the film’s lowly origins, its visual fluidity is remarkable: this couldn’t be further removed from a dry historical lecture. When Russell’s camera isn’t swooping and gliding over Elgar’s beloved Malvern Hills, it’s fixating on strangely arresting shots: the sequence covering Lady Elgar’s death begins with tendrils of mist snaking through a silver birch wood, continues with a dark room full of mysteriously shrouded furniture and ends with the bereaved Elgar’s new and obsessive interest in microscopic natural phenomena. Most television dates rapidly, but over forty years on, Elgar is still startlingly fresh and inventive. Even the black-and-white photography looks like a deliberate artistic choice as opposed to a then-universal convention.
Then at 4:30, there will be a special Firesign Theatre mini-film festival with Peter Bergman and Phil Proctor of the Firesign Theatre, in attendance. Films include the only film visual record of one of their legendary radio shows, Martian Space Party and a new 5.1 surround version of Everything You Know is Wrong.
Over the years, the Variety Bar near Charing Cross, Glasgow has been a hotbed for artists and musicians: from painters, such as Steven Campbell, Peter Howson, and Adrian Wiszniewski, to the legendary AC Acoustics (one of John Peel’s favorites), Happy Particles and now, Pioneers of Anaesthetic.
Pioneers Of Anaesthetic is the name by which musician Steven Cossar writes, records and releases his music. Since 2000, Steven has recorded almost 400 songs, which he compiles onto “albums” of 30-40 tracks each, these are then sold or given away at gigs.
“I try not to use the same guitar tuning twice, although there are many identical tone intervals with transposed sets of strings. I have played occasional shows around Glasgow, which typically consist of 2 sets - One written and one written on the spot ; Instant Composition Improv, if you will.”
So successful is Steven’s Instant Composition that many of his audience have asked after shows if he is “actually lying and have pre-written the Improv sets.” For the record, he doesn’t, which makes Steven’s talents all the more exceptional and impressive - “Apparently, the less writing I do… the better.”
“I’d describe the music as short songs for a long attention span. The ideas and melodies are repetitive but usually dissolve quickly enough to (hopefully) warrant repeated listening.
“A recurring structural trait is to leave the flourishes and embellishments out until the last phrase or chorus, so that the song seems like a short glimpse of it’s potential and there is plenty left to the listener’s imagination.
“Lyrically, I rely on home-truthing and coming clean about stuff I’d usually shy away from in ‘real life’.”
It is this that makes Pioneers Of Anaesthetic’s music deliciously addictive, the songs, none of which last much more than 1 minute 30 seconds, are short enough to catch interest, but finish before that interest is sated.
Steven’s interests and influences include Guided By Voices, Red House Painters, and Lou Barlow. He’s also claims he is “Inspired by the approach of the late Hip-Hop producer, J Dilla more than any other artist. His influence on urban and all alternative musics is staggering.”
Over the years, Steven has been a well respected ‘Gun For Hire’ around Glasgow, contributing his musical talents to several bands.
I am a multi-instrumentalist, but have a heavy slant towards guitars and drums. I guess most of the bands I’ve played with never really wanted to commit fully and it’s always been a case of not taking it too seriously.
“I play in Larmousse (City Slang) with Cliff Henderson and David Gow (Sons & Daughters), I’m recording an album with Steven Ward (Empire Builder), I play in Mandrake Shepherd who’ve just completed a 3 song Demo session at my house in the preperation for Studio Album.
“I’m rehearsing a new Band, tentatively called Mussel Memory, with two friends I’ve played with for years, Iban Perez (Tut Vu Vu, Sparkling Shadazz, Rags & Feathers) and Ben Ashton (L Casio Immunitas, Sparkling Shadazz) and we’re incredibly excited by the material we’ve garnered thus far. I’m preparing to release a split 10” and Download with fellow Glasgow Bedroom Savant, BLOOD BLOOD. We have a mutual appreciation for the processes we share and the slightly off-kilter side to each other’s songs.
“I’m also rehearsing a full band version of Pioneers Of Anaesthetc for some shows this Winter. The band will feature Paul Foley (Eva, Vaselines, Mandrake Shepherd), Gordon Farquar (Stapleton, Happy Particles), and Cliff Henderson (Larmousse).”
But all this other fruitful activity won’t mean a lessening of his creative work as Pioneers Of Anaesthetic.
“I am continuing my current exercise in high volumes of output. It’s what I call ‘Quantity Control’.
“The idea is that I limit myself to one hour to write and record each song. I feel that once an initial idea leaves your head, with every passing second - it’s being compromised and re-thought. I just want to try to minimize the interference I have with the imagination’s melody-writing process.
“Quite often, It makes me laugh out loud, as the stuff that comes out is nowhere near what I’d usually shape it into, but that’s got to be healthy.”
Here’s a 4th of July weekend compilation of go-go mania from China and Hong Kong for all you dancing fools out there.
The People’s Republic Of Go-Go features vintage clips from films starring Asian superstars Josephine Siao, Connie Chan and Chan Hung-lit doing tunes like “Love Potion #9,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Shakin’ All Over,” “Eight Days A Week,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” an agonizing version of “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” and more. Crazier than a bag full of spiders.
Siao, Chan and Hung-lit went from being teen pop icons in the sixties to highly regarded actors who’s film work ranged from melodrama and opera to martial arts epics. Their flirtation with rock and roll was puppy love, brief but oh so dreamy.
Proof that rock and roll is a universal language and the freak who put this together, Jonathan Sprig, speaks that language.
Artist Randy Hage’s replica of New York City’s Ideal Hosiery.
Describing his project as “an extension of my occupation as a scale model maker for the television and film industry” Randy Hage is lovingly creating 1/12th scale models of some of his favorite New York store fronts before they vanish forever.
We love these places and feel a deep sense of loss when they are gone. I know I was very broken up when I found out that Joe. Jr’s in the Village had been forced to close. It was like losing an old friend.”
You can visit Randy’s website and see more of his incredible tiny memorials to the disappearing and unsung architecture of New York City and the Outer Boroughs. The detail is astonishing.
I used to patronize Ideal Hosiery when I was in the fashion biz. The boxes stuffed with socks and stockings cluttering up the front display window is exactly how it was as depicted in Hage’s model. When you entered the store it was like entering a dark maze-like cave filled with footwear. For anyone who strolled around the Orchard Street area in the late 70s that window is iconic. I wonder if there are itsy bitsy socks in Hage’s little boxes.
In these photos the actual stores are contrasted with Hage’s recreations. At first glance can you tell the difference? I couldn’t. I still can’t…and I’m sober.