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Saving Father’s Children: Washington DC’s almost forgotten Islamic funk futurists
10.04.2012
07:40 pm

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Music

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“Blessed are they who strive in the way of peace, for they shall be called Children of the Father.”
― Norman “Saleem” Hylton (via Matthew 5:9)

This is a guest post by Washington D.C. music historian Logan K. Young

In June of 1981, Dischord Records released catalog number 003―the Minor Threat EP. Its eight songs, including track four’s “Straight Edge” clarion, lasted a total of eight minutes.

Talk about economy.

Some thirty years later, and for a lot of Washington, D.C. insiders even, that’s all the District hath wrote. It’s almost fitting: Nothing ever gets done on Capitol Hill; why would it be any different inside the Dischord House? You could make a case, I suppose, for the plethora of post-hardcore memes like The Dismemberment Plan that followed in Fugazi’s wake. But The D-Plan’s leader, the doe-eyed doyen Travis Morrison, works for HuffPo now. As for Ian MacKaye, he’s taken to playing silly love songs with his wife-cum-drummer, Amy.

Regardless, Washington harDCore always seemed a tad too emo for me.

Predating that fury by at least two decades was the District’s one true sound―go-go. A spicy, mid-Atlantic blend of funk and R&B, with those ever-present dancehall congas, you still don’t hear much from proto-go-go groups like Rare Essence, Trouble Funk, E.U., or the genre’s godfather, the late Chuck Brown, in the white-washed books of history. And while Ward 8’s infamous Marion Barry can be cited as the godfather himself of straight-edge punk―during his first mayoral term, Barry extended seasonal employ to youths, essentially paying people like Henry Rollins (né Garfield) to start bands―go-go never had such a champion, much less a dole, in Washington, D.C. 

What, then, to make of a group like Father’s Children? They weren’t go-go, and they sure as heckfire weren’t straight-edge punks.

No, they were something different entirely.
 
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Re-listening now, it’s kind of eerie just how different they were. Of course, were it not for soul-saving historians like Kevin Coombe (a.k.a. DJ Nitekrawler), we might never have known. Moreover, if not for a highest-fidelity reissue from the archival saints at Chicago’s Numero Group, Father’s Children would be as altogether lost as John Boehner’s Congress.

1972 was an eternity ago, really, and plenty of great records have been buried by the legislation of time―especially in the District of Columbia, where ignorance has its own blissful lobby. If you know Father’s Children at all it’s probably for their compromises made elsewhere later in the decade. (Or, to borrow a term from the HxC kids, their ‘sell-out’ stuff.) 

Here’s a quick refresher: After years of both member and manager turnover, the funky, Islam-ified ensemble finally signed to Mercury Records and manifested west for a gold grab with The Crusaders’ Wayne Henderson behind the console. These gilded sessions would end up bearing the s/t decalogue, Father’s Children. Watered-down by Tinsel Town, that album’s torpid single, “Hollywood Dreaming” b/w “Shine On,” ultimately failed to chart in July of ‘79.

Another reminder: Things only got worse. Mercury soon relinquished rights, forcing the roughshod soul-Futuros to slouch it on back to Norman Hylton’s People’s Center in rough-hewn Adams Morgan. Abandoned and old enough, Father’s Children eventually divorced.

It was time to take sides. Whereas disco got custody of the America’s capital, Dischord would soon overtake her capitol city. 

It wasn’t always like that, though. The would-be Children were birthed as a doo-wop/skiffle outfit called The Dreams at Western High School (now Duke Ellington School of the Arts) in the late ‘60s. And everything was jive.
 
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Well, almost. After a Volkswagen accident outside Petersburg, Virginia killed their gear but left every Dream alive, the boys fell prostrate before Allah and rechristened themselves accordingly: Ted “Skeet” Carpenter became “Hakim,” Billy Sumler choose “Qaddir,” Nick Smith became “Nizam,” Michael Rogers assumed “Malik,” Steve Woods went with “Wali,” and Zachary Long was called “Sadik.” Norman “Saleem” Hylton had convinced the boys that they weren’t meant to die on I-95 that night.

The Dreams now deferred to a celestial Father. But once again, all was seemingly jive. And on stage anyways, Father’s Children grew up quickly. The kids would play jook joints (Ed Murphy’s Supper Club, The Other Barn, Motherlode Wild Cherry) and ivory towers alike (Howard University, American University, University of the District of Columbia). Like any father figure should, Hylton taught the Children not to discriminate; a gig was a gig. Sooner than later, he promised, life on the Beltway would pay off at home.  

Writing in the liners for this reissue, Numero’s Rob Sevier and Ken Shipley tell the truth thusly:

“In fall 1972, Saleem was introduced to local studio magnate Robert Hosea Williams, who owned and managed a small network of Beltway studios. Jules Damian at D.B. Sound Studios had recently brought Williams in as a partner to right the debt-heavy ship. He wouldn’t disappoint. Williams had built his rep behind the boards at Edgewood Studios on 1539 K Street and by freelancing at Track Studios in Silver Spring, Maryland. His engineering experience included work for Gil Scott-Heron, Hugh Masekela, the Soul Searches and Van McCoy, but he always managed to find time on his schedule for locals.”

For Father’s Children, their time was September ‘72, just a few weeks after this fateful meeting. Stationed at D.B. Sound, the seven-piece ensemble ran down a voodoo equal parts lament for D.C.’s earlier race riots and their newfangled, moon-unit take on Islam. Again, it’s near scary just how good they were.

But there was a problem.

As so often happens, the Children never got the master tapes because Fly Enterprises―the fly-by-night hucksters these callow kids from Meridian Park hired to replace Saleem Hylton―didn’t pay the time tab. (Were Hylton still at the helm, it’s hard to imagine such a scenario.) Regardless, those originals sat collecting dust on producer Robert H. Williams’ shelf until 2006, when Coombe griped them tight, and with Numero’s blessing proper, raised them from perdition.

Four more years still, their combined ransom has proved more than bountiful. Hence, we finally have thee definitive question come unto the Children―Who’s Gonna Save The World[?].

But in northwest D.C., especially in the early ‘70s, that question was hardly rhetorical. In fact, it was downright dangerous. As per Sly Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On, the most convincing lines, the most insatiable rhythms here are the ones that play the most urgent. And as far as shared sentiments, anyways, this could easily be 2012.

Lead-off cut “Everybody’s Got a Problem,” written and wrought by Nizam Smith, looks not at Richard Nixon’s White House, but instead the silent majority Tricky Dick had resigned to either side of Pennsylvania Avenue: “Oh man, you talking about the Watergate, man? Man, I’m so broke, I can’t even pay attention.” Given a GOP CEO, it rarely pays to be poor. 
 

 
“Dirt and Grime” is a skeletal study, almost menacing by comparison. In a strained but palpable tenor, Smith dutifully rebukes his own Adams Morgan. “My dirty, filthy habitat is where I got my habit at,” he admits. Apropos, Wali Woods’ high-pass guitar adds some extra-brittle filth atop. It’s a fragile, yet classic case of nature versus nurture. Smith’s ‘AdMo’ neighborhood, now, has surely been swagger-jacked, but on the right Saturday night, it might be alright for fighting. Still.

Meanwhile, “Linda”―the lone, legit love song of the lot―succeeds in spite of Robert Williams’ 101 Strings schmaltz. It’s actually a quite beautiful tune. Re-recorded as a later one-off for D.C. Valentine’s D.C. boutique Arrest, the original suburban reading sparkles still. After all, sometimes the new isn’t also the improved.

In retrospect, Father’s Children’s Islam never was as hard-lined as Elijah Muhammad’s Nation. Thus, their own eschatology was hardly dogma ‘n’ brimstone. Perhaps it’s because the Children were so young a band. Take side two’s opener “Kohoutec,” for instance. Kohoutek, the doomsday comet 150,000 years late even in late ‘72, had been anticipated in song by everyone from Sun Ra to Kraftwerk to Journey. Swaddled in warm, Red Line reverb here, the Children aren’t so much waiting idly for some cosmic Godot as they are bustin’ loose during His interregnum. But just like that, it’s glorious noise of wind, brass and percussion comes to a psychedelic halt; it seems their “Kohoutec” was our Hale-Bopp.
 

 
Undeterred, the shimmering harmonies of “In Shallah” follows. Arabic for “god willing,” it’s the weakest link only because it’s unfettered optimism sounds a bit like the airport Krishna’s proselytizings. That said, it’s not a bad-meaning-bad song.

Clocking in at just under eight minutes, “Father’s Children” is probably the best, most representative Father’s Children track recollected. Tempo-wise, it’s got to be their fastest as well. Kicking off with the Biblical boilerplate atop, it simultaneously anticipates and obliterates the coming go-go sound. Not bad, indeed. Here, the Children dial down the Arabic rhetoric and summon forth a pure groove clinic. Nearly every member of the flock gets a featured workout, with Wood’s deft wah-wah leading the charge of his brigade’s light. It’s a true joy, a genuine blessing to behold.

Were “Father’s Children” made available on wax in 1972, even as a single, methinks the entirety of hip-hop and rap would have sounded a lot different. Yes, the breaks simply are that infectious, the beats just too obvious not to sample. I’d wager it’s only a matter of time now before some enterprising crate-digger mashes the funk out of this one.           

Come August of 1974, Nixon was gone, leaving his fellow Americans firmly on the losing side of the War on Poverty. Especially in the District, it was a struggle just to keep the lights on. A last-ditch salvo was launched locally to save Norman “Saleem” Hylton’s ecumenical Center at 17th Street and Kalorama, but alas, the citizens of Suffragette City would lose that, too. And Hylton was a Vietnam veteran!

To this day, in a city of some 700,000 people, not a single resident of Washington, D.C. has a Congressional vote that actually counts. Making matters worse, go-go got its first bona fide Billboard-er that year with Black Heat’s “No Time To Burn.” With head songwriter Nizam Smith having defected to Miami for a solo shot, wagons ho!, Father’s Children made that ill-advised, career-ending trek to the City of Angels.

The rest, well…you already know by now.  There is a post-script, however.

As late as 2007, a reunited Father’s Children self-financed an album called Sky’s the Limit and distributed it via their own FC Music imprint. (In D.C., D.I.Y. neither starts, nor ends, with one Ian MacKaye.) But honestly, from what I’ve heard of Sky’s the Limit, like most musical reunions anyways, it’s only a cheap simulacrum―a gold-plated calf cast to former glories and youthful follies (i.e. this new D-Plan record).

Eternal thanks be to Numero Group, et al. for finally putting out the real thing. We can now call off the search.

Who’s Gonna Save The World is a national treasure, worthy every bit of Jeffersonian pomp and Honest Abe’s circumstance. For once in the life of our nation’s capital, here lies a legitimate bipartisan record. And in a town littered with monuments to men passed, the seven in Father’s Children remain but a few of the ones truly worth revisiting.

Blessed were they, each one, indeed. Let us all come unto the Children once more. 

This is a guest post by Washington D.C. music historian Logan K. Young

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
An incredible video of Throbbing Gristle: Recording their album ‘Heathen Earth’
10.04.2012
07:09 pm

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Heroes
Music

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An incredible video of Throbbing Gristle recording their album Heathen Earth in one take, on a Saturday night between 20.10 and 21.00 hours, on February 16th 1980. The album was recorded in front of a small audience of friends and associates, at the Industrial Records studios, and was filmed by Monte Cazazza on a single camera, with “certain visual information” included by TG.

“The soundtrack of this tape was taken independant of the 8-track audio master recording and it remains ‘live’ and unremixed and consequently differs from the album in some places. Like the TG sound itself, the quality and content of this recording cannot and should not be compared with conventional commercial recordings…”

Tracklisting: as provided by Genesis P-Orridge:

01. “Cornets” (that’s all we ever called it on gig sheets etc, boring hey!)

02. “The Old Man Smiled” (this is a song I wrote. Originally I was messing about on my own in the Death Factory, at Martello St. I got a rhythm I liked on my COMPURYTHM drumachine. Then a fuzzed lead bass guitar sound. So I recorded it. Maybe 15 minutes or so. One section made it onto 20 Jazz Funk Greats as “Six Six Sixties” I believe. But I always wanted a longer version. So after I came up with a story telling lyric primarily about William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin in Tangiers and their stories of Captain Clark, boys etc I decided to do the NEW song on Heathen Earth. We did it live a couple of times too. At Oundle School for eg.) For Heathen Earth we used my original cassette as the basic track.

03. “After Cease To Exist” (yes, a new version for Heathen Earth)

04. “The World Is A War Film”

05. “Dreamachine” (Brion Gysin LOVED this track. Said it was best music, equal with The Master Musicians Of Jajouka to use his dreamachine. The rhythm had already existed (one of Chris Carter’s gems). So I always think happy thoughts of Brion, Bachir Attar and others listening with eyes closed in Paris at his apartment opposite the Beaubourg Museum in Rue St Martin. Ah, happy daze.)

06. “Still Walking” (A permutation of ‘meaningless’ phrases cooked up by myself and Sleazy, that were repeated over and over as the musics rythm gave shape to the shapeless. Chris and Cosey were shy of vocals at that time. It was partly a formula to get them to begin using their voices that I suggested based on Gysin’s theories and my own experiences of gaining confidence with microphones simply by using them.)

07. “Don’t Do As You’re Told, Do As You Think” (To be honest I think this is the weakest vocal track and lyric. Someone, a journalist or Sleazy or both suggested we should have a “positive” message! Ugh! Certainly Sleazy persuaded me to try and this is the resultant track. I still find it embarassing and wish I’d never listened to him. It would have been better as an instrumental. Ah well…)

08. “Painless Childbirth” (Named after a 10 inch vinyl album I found in a junk shop from which the voice was stolen.)

A great video of a brilliant performance by an excellent band.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Pearl jamming: A whole lotta Janis Joplin on the anniversary of her death
10.04.2012
06:50 pm

Topics:
Music
R.I.P.

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Janis Joplin died 41 years ago today. Had she lived, she’d be 69 years old.

Video compilation of concert and TV performances by Janis and Big Brother and The Kozmic Blues Band 1967-70.
 
Live 1970 Various Locations Canada
1-Cry Baby
2-No More Cane
3-Thowing A Party
4-Tell Mama
5-Move Over
6-Kozmic Blues

Generation Club NYC 1967
7-Coming Home

Cheap Thrills Sessions
8-Coming Home
9-Piece Of My Heart
10-Down On Me

Dick Cavett Show
11-Combination Of Two
12-Ball & Chain

Monterey Pop
13-Summertime
14-Ball & Chain

Come Up The Years TV-Show
15-Down On Me
16-The Coo Coo

17-Summertime
18-Summertime Rehearsal

Woodstock Unreleased
19-Work Me Lord

Musicscene
20-Try

21-Raise Your Hand
22-Summertime
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Dead Kennedy’s ‘International’ punk event at the Olympic Auditorium, 1984
10.04.2012
05:27 pm

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Music
Punk

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Incendiary pro-shot Dead Kennedys set from the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, 1984. This was the infamous “International Event” concert held on August 10th that ended in a riot (like many hardcore shows in Los Angeles did at that time, especially ones held at the Olympic, once a boxing area, now a church). Note that tickets were just $7.50!

Also on the bill: Italy’s Raw Power, BGK from the UK, Finnish hardcore group Riistetyt, Mexico’s Solución Mortal and Reagan Youth.
 

 
After the jump, Reagan Youth, Raw Power and BGK that same night

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
New Yorkers with moldy pot can have their stash inspected for cancer-causing fungus
10.04.2012
04:31 pm

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Current Events
Drugs

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New York City resident and pot activist Kenny Toglia wants to inspect your moldy pot. Here’s why:

The problem with New York City street pot, says Toglia, comes from a cancer-causing fungus with the tongue-twisting name Aspergillus fumigatus, found commonly in soil and rotting vegetable matter and alarmingly in pot that’s been stored a long time before smoking.

To combat the threat, which Toglia claims affects one-third of relatively low-cost city pot, he has formed a nonprofit with the major purpose of educating marijuana smokers, especially those with compromised immune systems. Each Thursday at 6 p.m. Toglia and his crew will inspect your pot for the dangerous fungus for no cost at 130 E. Seventh St., at Avenue A. The location is known as the Muhammad Salahuddeen Memorial Jazz Theatre, named after a late East Village legend who combined squatting, jazz and community service in his University of the Streets near Tompkins Square Park.

For more info, visit The Villager’s website.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
This is Your Brain on Marijuana
10.04.2012
01:14 pm

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Drugs

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Intricate glass microscope marijuana pipe by Elbo Glass and Glass Munky

A video by AsapSCIENCE that cuts through the long-winded explanation of how marijuana affects the brain and summarizes it quite nicely in under 3 minutes.
 

 
Via Kraftfuttermischwerk

 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Goth will never die: Double Echo’s ‘Black Morning’
10.04.2012
12:14 pm

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Music
Unorthodox

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Calling all fans of mid-80s goth, here is some new music I am sure you will dig. And I’m talking about REAL goth here. You know, bands like Sisters of Mercy, Fields of the Nephelim, and The Cure before they sold out (man). None of this namby pamby, nu skool, emo, witch haus stuff. Let me introduce you to Double Echo, who have just put out their first release, the three track Black Morning EP through Bandcamp.

Well, correction, there’s maybe a little bit of witch haus going on here. But not too much. One of the main influences on Double Echo is Dangerous Minds’ favorite John Maus, making this release a must-hear for those with a penchant for Maus’ drawly, slightly incoherent vocal mannerisms, or even those with open, interested ears.

Otherwise the music is as floaty and ephemeral as a wisp of smoke. Low slung baselines ride over spare drum machine beats, guitars and synths do battle to see who can conjure up the most melancholy air. You don’t need to see this band in order to imagine shoes getting stared at. But menacingly.

Info about Double Echo is almost non-existent, but from what I gather they are from Liverpool (and not the UK’s goth-capital Leeds, sadly.) However, one thing I can be certain of is that Double Echo cast no shadows and have no reflections. Whether they wear cowboy hats and trench coats, and bathe under showers of flour, is another matter.
 

 

 
You can download Double Echo’s Black Morning from Bandcamp.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Ken Loach: Radical film director’s personal archive made available to the public
10.04.2012
11:58 am

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Media
Movies
Politics

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The BFI Rueben Library is making the personal archive of film director Ken Loach accessible to the public. The first part of the archive will be available next week, with the remainder released in stages, once it is documented and cataloged.

The archive includes scripts, notes, call sheets and research materials, and covers Loach’s early career working on BBC dramas, such as Z Cars, The Wednesday Play and the documentary The Rank and File, and the films Poor Cow (1967), Black Jack, and Looks and Smiles (1981).

For more information check here.
 
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Ken Loach’s copy of script for TV drama ‘Catherine’.
 
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Ken Loach - ‘Golden Vision’ Notebook, 1968.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The ‘Monkey Dust’ Tasting Party
10.04.2012
11:09 am

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Animation
Pop Culture
Television

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Attention all you groovy little fuckers lucky enough to live in the city of Los Angeles…  (I just love saying that).

This Friday night, as part of the First Friday Film series at The Dilettante, downtown in Little Tokyo’s warehouse district, I will be presenting “The Monkey Dust Tasting Party,” a screening/party with the evening’s centerpiece being an approximately 75-minute-long highlight reel that I put together (with editor Alex Nicolaou) from nine hours of the demented, outrageous and utterly brilliant BBC Three animated omnibus, Monkey Dust.

Think MTV’s old Liquid Television series or Adult Swim’s edgy cartoon fare, but kicked up a few notches and ultra BLEAK. The Observer called Monkey Dust “the most subversive show on television. The topical animated series is dark and unafraid to tackle taboo subjects such as paedophilia, taking us to Cruel Britannia, a creepy place where the public are hoodwinked by arrogant politicians and celebrities.” Monkey Dust also features n’er do well jihadis, chat-room perverts, kidnappers, drug addicts, sleazy sex, Nazi grandfathers and murder. The soundtrack includes music by Goldfrapp, Boards of Canada, Pulp, Black Box Recorder and Eels.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that the majority of Americans have never been exposed to Harry Thompson and Shaun Pye’s animated TV masterpiece, which is why I am so excited to get to present it on Friday night. In the past, the guest curators at the First Friday Film series have pulled out gems like Belladonna of Sadness and The Apple, but I don’t think anyone is going to be let down by the mind-blowing mayhem that is Monkey Dust. The series originally aired in Britain starting in 2003. Three series of six half-hour episodes were made before the tragic death of series co-creator Thompson from lung cancer in 2005. Only series one was ever released on DVD, although the other two have long been traded on torrent sites.

Now here’s the thing: the Monkey Dust screening will actually start at 9:30, but I strongly recommend getting there early (doors will open at 8:30) because of a “special surprise” (call it “entertainment insurance”) that will await early arrivals. You can chose to ignore my advice and arrive just before the show starts, but you’ll regret it, trust me, when you realize what you have missed…

The Diletantte, 120 North Santa Fe Avenue, Los Angeles‎ CA‎ 90012
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s full set at the Global Citizen Festival
10.04.2012
02:51 am

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Music

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It’s called rock ‘n’ roll and it can change your life.

01. Love and Only Love
02. Powderfinger
03. Born In Ontario
04. Walk Like A Giant
05. The Needle And The Damage Done
06. Twisted Road
07. Fuckin’ Up
08. Keep On Rockin’ In The Free World (w/ Dave Grohl, Pat Smear, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett and Taylor Hawkins [Foo Fighters], Dan Auerbach [The Black Keys] and K’NAAN)

Watch it in 720p.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
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