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Nancy Nova’s ‘The Force’: a bewitching but obscure New Wave Disco classic
11.23.2012
10:02 am

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Music
Occult
Unorthodox

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I still remember where I was when I first heard this incredible record.

It’s not THAT impressive really, as it was only around three months ago in a friend’s kitchen. It was played as part of a Siouxsie Sioux BBC Radio 6 special, wherein Siouxsie chose an hour of her favorite music from (roughly) the punk era. A lot of her choices were, surprisingly, disco tracks, and when ‘The Force’ came on all casual conversation in the kitchen stopped ,and we all simply HAD to know who sang this incredible song.

Nancy Nova is, apparently, the daughter of British TV personality and Blockbusters game show host, Bob Holness. Her real name is Carol Ann, and her sister Ros was a member of the uber-camp 80s girl group Toto Coelo (who are best known for “I Eat Cannibals”.)

“The Force” is simply epic, a gothic disco-pop song that oozes menacing, spooky appeal, the kind Alison Goldfrapp would kill for. It really does sound like it comes form another bizarro planet. Like the best horror movies, it’s scary, thrilling and exciting all at the same time. Bass heavy disco production, reminiscent of Kid Creole’s best, Broadway-inspired work, is topped off by celestial choirs that could lure passing astronauts to their rocky doom, while a spare arrangement, that hints at the then-burgeoning goth movement, makes the most of Nova’s stunning voice.

Ah yes, THAT voice. Nancy Nova is one of those singers with a startling, unique vocal style that should be irritating but actually works. At times reminiscent of Betty Boop, at others quite similar to Noosha Fox of the band Fox (previously covered on Dangerous Minds here) it really is one of a kind, and guaranteed to beguile the listener.

So impressed were we by Nancy Nova and ‘The Force’ that we based Tranarchy‘s Hallowe’en ‘Zombie Pride’ video around it, in effect creating a pop video for a song that didin’t have one, but needed it. A surrealistic tale of drag initiation (featuring stunning make-up work by star witch Grace Oni Smith) I’d like to think that we have done the song proud, and that if Nancy Nova were to see it, she would approve: 

Nancy Nova ‘The Force’ (Tranarchy Zombie Pride V)
 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Members Only: A Look at London’s Private Clubs, from 1965
11.22.2012
06:34 pm

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History
Media
Politics

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This short film on Member’s Only Gentlemen’s Clubs and London Club Life from 1965, may look dated and even slightly quaint, capturing a world of seedy Anthony Powell characters in run-down, thread-bare, drafty rooms, but in very real terms, little has changed.

The Old Boy’s Network of privilege and power is still very much alive, and the British Establishment is probably now stronger than it has been in decades. Look at the celebrations for the Queen’s Jubilee, or the sofa jingoism of the Olympics, or this week with the failure of the Church of England to vote in favor of Women Bishops, and now today, the appointment of Lord Tony Hall as the new Director General of the BBC.

Hall was chosen by Lord Christopher Patten, whose previous choice for DG had been the hapless “incurious” George Entwistle, the man who was forced to resign after 54 days in office. Now Patten has appointed Hall - without an interview - as the new DG.

Hall is a successful ex-BBC man, who currently runs the Royal Opera House. He may be a decent and honorable man, he may kiss dogs and pat babies, and help old age pensioners across the street, but he is a BBC man, steeped in the arcane and out-dated traditions of a Corporation that is out-of-touch with the reality of life in Britain. His appointment is rather like voting for a Mitt Romney rather than a Barack Obama, it’s a wishful return to an illusory past, rather than moving forward into the present century. Even some of the effusive praise on twitter harks back to an older time - this from broadcaster David Dimbleby:

‘A brilliant choice. It feels like being in the Royal Navy when they were told, “Winston is back!”’

It’s strange that a previous era of strife, hardship, bigotry and division should be seen as commendable. Earlier this year, the up-market Daily Telegraph (of all broadsheets) reported on the analysis of “the make-up of the Lords found that 45 per cent of peers also had a London club such as the Garrick Club, Carlton Club or White’s.”

The [analysis], published in the journal Sociology, also showed the enduring power of Eton and Oxbridge, with around one in 10 of all members of the Lords educated at the Berkshire school whose past pupils also include David Cameron and Boris Johnson.

Dr Matthew Bond, a sociologist at London South Bank University, who conducted the study, said that it showed that, despite reforms, the Lords continued to be dominated by those with “vested interests in traditional status structures”.

He said it showed that: “The persistent hold of the British establishment on the political imagination is not without reason.”
...

Those who went to school at Eton showed a particular propensity to join such clubs, the study found, while they were also popular among this with a background in the military, civil service and the church.

“These groups – hereditaries, males, Old Etonians, Tories and, to a lesser extent, business people – have vested interests in traditional status structures,” said Dr Bond.

“In their social characteristics they also closely mirror popular conceptions of an establishment which have featured in popular discussions of the British power structure since the 50s.

“If they do not have a monopoly over elite positions, they at least have a formidable presence.”

This “formidable presence” is what links Tony Blair’s working-class father’s move from Glaswegian Communism to middle-England Toryism, with Eton-educated David Cameron belief that elitism in education will mend Britain’s so-called “broken society.” This “formidable presence” isn’t tradition - it is the maintenance of an out-dated, misogynistic, divisive and malfunctioning Establishment.

Members Only is a fine snap shot of club life in the 1960s, which moves from gentlemen’s clubs to casinos and then onto the bohemian hang outs, such as the Colony Room (look out for the legendary Muriel Belcher) and jazz clubs, where a young Annie Ross performs.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
A Thanksgiving song of sorts: ‘Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 3’
11.22.2012
01:57 pm

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Music

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Ian Dury’s “Reasons To Be Cheerful” is my idea of a fun Thanksgiving song, a lovely tune that could and should be sung just before sitting down to stuff our faces with Holiday delights.

Go ahead and write your own lyrics. I hope you have many things to be cheerful about and thankful for. I do.

A home, some food, a beautiful wife
A dog, a cat, a perfect life

And even where there’s scars and cracks
I’ve leaned to live with all of that

The things at night that make me fearful
Within the light are really cheerful

Romney, Ryan, Rove.. those rats
Have been devoured by feral cats
I see the marks of their decay
Upon the streets where children play

Thanks to the whores of Babylon
For helping me to write my songs
Without those sinners and their lies
My tongue would be unjustly tied
Which some of you might might claim indeed
Is a reason to be cheerful - 1, 2, 3.

M. Campbell

Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 3 - Ian Dury

Some of Buddy Holly, the working folly
Good Golly Miss Molly, and boats
Hammersmith Palais, the Bolshoi Ballet
Jump back in the alley add nanny goats

18-wheeler Scammels, Domineker camels
All other mammals plus equal votes
Seeing Picadilly, Fanny Smith and Willy
Being rather silly, and porridge oats

A bit of grin and bear it, a bit of come and share it
You’re welcome we can spare it - yellow socks
To short to be haughty, too nutty to be naughty
Going on forty - no electric shocks

The juice of a carrot, the smile of the parrot
A little drop of claret, anything that rocks
Elvis and Scotty, days when I ain’t spotty
Sitting on the potty, curing smallpox

Reasons to be cheerful - 1, 2, 3

Health service glasses, gigolos and brasssies
Round or skinny bottoms

Take your mum to Paris, lighting up the chalice
Wee Willy Harris
Bantu Steven Biko, listening to Riko
Harpo, Groucho, Chico

Cheddar cheese and pickle, the Vincent motorsickle
Slap and tickle
Woody Allen, Dali, Dimitri and Pasquale
Balabalabala and Volare

Something nice to study, phoning up a buddy
Being in my nuddy
Saying okey-dokey, singalonga Smokey
Coming out of Chokey

John Coltrane’s soprano, Adi Celantano
Bonar Colleano

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Momus: Performative Lecture from 2012
11.22.2012
12:26 pm

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Art
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Thinkers

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Artist and DM pal, the fabulous Norn Cutson forwarded this fascinating performative lecture given by pop oddity, musician (The Poison Boyfriend, Tender Pervert), author The Book of Jokes and The Book of Scotlands, philosopher, post modernist and artist Momus.

This is a fascinating and entertaining lecture with a Q + A session, which Momus presnted at Nottingham Trent University, October 18th, 2012. Now based in Osaka, Japan, Momus is available for public speaking engagements - email: momasu@gmail.com - and will be next available in Europe during March 2013.

For more information check his website.
 

 
With thanks to Norn Cutson!
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Celebrate Thanksgiving with a John Waters double-bill: ‘Mondo Trasho’ & ‘Multiple Maniacs’
11.22.2012
09:00 am

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Heroes
Movies
Unorthodox

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Happy turkey day my American chums!

I have to admit, as a Mick living in Limeyland, I don’t fully understand what Thanksgiving is all about. All I know is that it’s as American as apple pie, as the Detroit Lions or the Pittsburgh Steelers, as right-wing Christian nut jobs or cheapo exploitation cinema starring 300lb drag queens.

So on this turkey day, come worship at the altar of the Pope of Trash. Because nothing strikes me as being more American than the work of cult auteur John Waters. What’s more fitting to watch on Thanksgiving than two of his very early, very cheap shocksploitation classics?

Sure, these films may represent a way of living and a segment of the US population that America is not too comfortable sharing with the rest of the world (see also: Honey Boo Boo Child) but it’s an integral part of America nonetheless, and worthy of as much celebration as turkeys or pancakes with bacon with maple syrup (I’ve tried that one, I wasn’t impressed.)

So here’s an early-John Waters double bill to sink your teeth into, starting with 1969’s silent Mondo Trasho, (it’s got a great soundtrack though) and followed up by 1970’s ever-so-slightly higher budget Multiple Maniacs (it’s got sound!)

Even now, over forty years on, these films have the power to shock. Mondo Trasho kicks off with a live chicken being killed (kind of of fitting for Thanksgiving?) and Multiple Maniacs climaxes with Divine being raped by a giant lobster. In between you will find all kinds of depravity, though looking back it’s funny how innocent all this depravity seemed. There’s no real rage or unhappy-ever-after bleakness on display, everyone involved always seemed to be having too much fun!

Some people would say these films are hard to watch, and you know, they might be right. That doesn’t mean the films are not worth watching. In fact, some other people would say that John Waters’ films are so good that they are all worth watching in row, back to back, non-stop for 24 hours. Who would be crazy enough to attempt such a thing?!

Mondo Trasho, 1969
 

 
Multiple Maniacs, 1970
 

 
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! xx

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
For your viewing pleasure: Three animated shorts by Terry Gilliam on his birthday
11.21.2012
11:37 pm

Topics:
Animation

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In addition to being Thanksgiving, today is Terry Gilliam’s birthday, which is plenty in of itself to be thankful for.

Here’s a short compilation of three groundbreakingly weird cartoons by Gilliam that were broadcast on British TV shows The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine and Do Not Adjust Your Set between 1968 and 1971.

“Don the Cockroach,” “The Albert Einstein Story” and “The Christmas Card.”
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The Ballad of the Rad Cafes: London’s Coffeehouse Culture from 1959
11.21.2012
08:28 pm

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Fashion
Food
History
Pop Culture

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Before coffee houses were homogenized into interchangeable Starbucks, and sucked dry of atmosphere and character, the espresso bar was a meeting place for Beats, musicians, writers, radicals and artists. Each coffeehouse had its own distinct style and clientele, and provided a much needed venue for the meeting of minds and the sharing of ambitions over 2-hour long cappuccinos.

It was the arrival in London of the first espresso machine in 1952 that started this incredibly diverse sub-culture, which became a focus for writers like Colin (Absolute Beginners) MacInness and pop stars like Tommy Steele, Billy Fury, Cliff Richard and Marty Wilde, who frequented the famous 2-i’s cafe. This beautiful, short film serves up a frothy serving of London’s cafe scene in 1959, long before Starbucks ruined it all.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘The Street of Crocodiles’: Bruno Schulz was murdered 70 years ago this week
11.21.2012
07:52 pm

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Animation
Art
Literature

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That he was a genius was undeniable. Even from the little of his work that has survived it can be seen that artist and writer, Bruno Schulz was a genius. He was born in the small town of Drohobycz in 1892, which was then part of Galicia, a province of Austro-Hungary. Schulz lived a quiet, seemingy ordinary life - he taught art classes during the day, and by night dedicated himself to his writing and art.

His first exhibition was held in Warsaw in 1922. By the end of the decade he was writing the stories which would bring him fame, and would lead to the publication of his book The Street of Crocodiles in 1933. By 1938, Schulz was well on his way to becoming an internationally respected author.

This all changed with the Second World War, when Germany invaded Drohobycz in 1941. Recognizing that his life was in severe danger, Schulz began to send as much of his writing and art to his gentile friends across Europe. This included a hand-written copy his unpublished magnum opus The Messiah (allegedly sent to Thomas Mann), the manuscript for which has never been found.

Being Jewish, Schulz was placed under arrest, and was to be sentenced to a work camp or executed. Because of his artistic talents, Schulz was favored by the brutal Gestapo officer, Felix Landau, who was in charge of the extermination of Galician Jews. Landau admired Schulz’s talents, and as he was also in charge of the Jewish labor programs, had Schulz decorate his apartment, painting murals on his son’s nursery room. This position allowed Schultz certain privileges and some protection. It also gave him time to think and plan his escape.

On November 19th 1942, Schulz was walking through the Aryan District to his home in the Jewish ghetto. He walked past the labor exchange at 44 Mickiewicz Street, where the previous year Landau had rounded up 350 Jews and executed them in cold blood. As Schulz reached the corner of Czacki street, leading to the entrance of the ghetto, he was stopped by Gestapo officer, Karl Günther. Günther smiled, placed his Luger against Schulz’s temple, and shot him twice in the head, killing himself instantly.

Günther later told Landau he did it as an act of retaliation, ‘You killed my Jew - I killed yours.’

Today, all we have left of Schulz’ work are his drawings, letters, a handful of short stories, and the novels (or connected stories) The Street of Crocodiles and Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass. Schulz’s work is beautiful, poetic, dream-like and mythic, and has been described as producing ‘the metaphysical feeling of the strangeness of existence.’ In 1986, the Brothers Quay made their classic stop-motion animation interpretation of The Street of Crocodiles, which compliments Schulz’s tales, rather than gives a literal interpretation.
 

 
Bonus documentary on Bruno Schulz, aftter the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
SuBo’s ‘susanalbumparty’ - funniest hashtag ever?
11.21.2012
05:47 pm

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Amusing

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‘Susan Boyle and Pebbles the Cat Duet’ by Dan Lacey

Coming as it does from Susan Boyle, it gets my vote. Via the NME:

Susan Boyle became the victim of an unfortunate spot of social networking naivety last night (Nov 20) as her record label tried to promote her new album ‘Standing Ovation’ on Twitter. Boyle’s PR team encouraged fans of the singer to Tweet about the album using the hashtag #susanalbumparty which, as you can see, is easily mistaken for “anal bum party”, a topic unlikely to feature in Susan Boyle’s music, but one which soon sent the tag trending.

Ah, you gotta be grateful for those small, everyday acts of total hilarity.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Rhythm Device: perhaps not the ‘Acid Rock’ you were expecting
11.21.2012
03:58 pm

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Amusing
Dance
Music

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Some ravers, yesterday
 
“Acid Rock’ by Rhythm Device is actually from Belgium in 1989, and not California in the late 60s, as the name might conjure up.

Hence the uber-silly video of leather-clad danse-boyz rocking out in a cheap looking discotheque.

The bass riff in this New Beat classic is naggingly familiar, it reminds me of the KLF a bit, but I am guessing it’s all nicked off some Chicago acid original anyway. That hasn’t stopped “Acid Rock” from being sampled by Nine Inch Nails, no less, on their late 80s hit “Down In It”.

Rhythm Device was the nom-de-techno of producer Frank De Wulfe, who followed up “Acid Rock” with the “Dream Trance” / “Higher Destiny” 12”. Although Discogs helpfully informs us that, even though they had different names:

These tracks are actually four different mixes of “Acid Rock”.

What a surprise.

Anyway, it’s all about the video. A perfect guide in how to look devastatingly butch and astoundingly gay at the same time, it’s all sold by the singers unwavering seriousness:
 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
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