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Dennis Hopper gives a tour of his art collection
06.14.2016
09:39 am

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Art
Heroes
Pop Culture

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Dennis Hopper bought one of Andy Warhol’s first soup-can prints for seventy-five bucks. It should have been a good investment but then Hopper lost it to his first ex-wife—part of the divorce settlement. She also picked-up a Roy Lichtenstein that Hopper had bought for just over a thousand dollars. The ex-wife sold it for $3k. If she’d kept it she could have made a cool $16 million. But it was never about money for Hopper:

My idea of collecting is not going and buying bankable names, but buying people that I believe are really contributing something to my artistic life.

Hopper was a “a middle-class farm boy” from Dodge City, Kansas. He was born on May 17th, 1936. He had Scottish ancestors—which might explain some of his wild temperament. His mother was a lifeguard instructor. His father worked for the post office.

Hopper fought “the cows with a wooden sword…hung a rope in the trees and played Tarzan”—all the stuff kids do. He swam in the pool his mother managed. Fired his BB gun at crows. Once looked at the sun through a telescope and went blind for five days. Hopper was smart, creative, arty—went to Saturday morning art classes. But growing up on a farm he felt a childhood angst about missing out. He felt desperate. To get away from this feeling he went to the movies. He came home and sniffed gasoline. He watched the clouds turn into clowns and goblins. He sniffed more gasoline wanting to see what else the clouds were hiding. He OD’d. He thought he was Abbott and Costello and Errol Flynn. He wrecked his grandfather’s truck with a baseball bat.

The family moved and moved again—ending up in San Diego. In high school Hopper was voted the one most likely to succeed. He had a taste for theater and wanted to act. He went out to Hollywood and became an actor.

It was Vincent Price who first hipped Hopper to art. He told him “You need to collect—this is where you need to put your money.” But it wasn’t about money—it was “a calling.”

I always thought that acting was art, writing was art, music was art, painting was art, and I’ve tried to keep that cultural vibe to my life. I never wanted to don a tie, or go into an office.

Hopper was eighteen performing Shakespeare in San Diego when he was introduced to James Dean—“the best young actor in America, if not the world, when I met him.”

Jimmy arrived, and I saw him start to act, and I realized I was nowhere near as good as him. I’d never seen anyone improvise like that. I was full of preconceived ideas about when to make a gesture, how to read a line. I considered myself an accomplished Shakespearian actor. And he’d do this improvising, and I’d check the script and think, “Where the hell did those lines come from?” He taught me some basic stuff. “If you’re going to drink something in a film, drink it. If you’re going to smoke something, smoke it. Don’t act as if you’re drinking or smoking, just do it as you would off-set.” That was such good advice. He taught me to live the moment, in the reality, not fill my head with presupposed ideas, or anticipate what may or may not happen.

Hopper signed to Warner Bros. Started making movies. Worked with Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. Hung around art galleries—became a “gallery bum.” When Dean died, Hopper was devastated. It may have led to his “I’m a fucking genius, man” behavior that eventually got him blackballed from Hollywood.

He moved to the east coast. Hung around the art scene. Became friends with Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and Ed Ruscha. He still collected art—but it was never about the money.

Dennis Hopper would have been eighty this year. He died in 2010—three years after his mother died. She made it to ninety. Hopper left a vast collection of artwork—paintings by Warhol, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, Julian Schnabel and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Hopper saw himself as a custodian—keeping the art until he died and it was given over to a museum.

More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
A Rolling Stone’s trippy ‘Last Supper’: That time Brian Jones thought he was a goat and ate himself
06.10.2016
09:49 am

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Animals
Drugs
Food
Music
Pop Culture

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In 1968 the artist Brion Gysin invited Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones to record a group of traditional Jbala Sufi trance musicians—better known as the Master Musicians—perform at the village of Jajouka in northern Morocco.

Gysin had long been familiar with the Master Musicians having been introduced to them and “Joujouka” music by writer Paul Bowles in 1950. Gysin thought the music of “the people of Pan” would be of some interest to Jones. Jones agreed. He traveled with Gysin to Jajouka, accompanied by his then girlfriend Suki Potier, recording engineer George Chkiantz, and painter/folklorist Mohamed Hamri.

Morocco was a favorite holiday destination for the Rolling Stones as it offered easy access to marijuana. Keith Richards later described the experience as a fantasy where they were “transported” and…

You could be Sinbad the Sailor, One Thousand and One Nights.

Jones used a Uher recorder to capture the songs performed by the Master Musicians. These recordings included songs for Jajouka’s “most important religious holiday festival, Aid el Kbir” when a young boy is dressed as Bou Jeloud the Goat God in the “skin of a freshly slaughtered goat.” The boy then runs around the village as the music becomes increasingly frenzied. Gysin claimed this was a ritual to protect the villagers’ health. He said the festival harked back to an ancient pre-Roman festival Lupercalia, held in mid-February as a cleansing and fertility ritual to ward off evil spirits.
 
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As Gysin later told Stanley Booth (and a very drunk William Burroughs) in a rambling tale in 1970—as recounted Booth’s book The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones—Jones and his companions were guests at traditional meal in the village, when Jones had an epiphanic vision—or more likely he tripped out—and believed himself to be a goat.

‘I would really like to talk about Joujouka and what that music is and what Brian got on tape and how it ever happened that he got there. How does he [Jones] appear in your book?’

‘Brian? As—well—sort of—as a little goat god, I suppose.’

‘I have a funny tale which I’ll tell you about just that. A very funny thing happened up there. The setting was extremely theatrical in that we were sitting under a porch of a house made of wattles and mud. Very comfortable place, cushions were laid around like a little theatre, like the box of an old-fashioned theatre, and a performance was going on in the courtyard. And at one moment—dinner obviously had to be somewhere in the offing, like about an hour away, everybody was beginning to think about food—and we had these acetylene lamps, giving a great very theatrical glow to the whole scene, rather like limelight used to be, a greenish sort of tone.’

[Okay Brion we get the picture it was very very very very very very theatrical…now get on with the story….]

‘And the most beautiful goat that anybody had ever seen—pure white!—was suddenly led right across the scene, between Brian and Suki and Hamri and me [...] so quickly that for a moment hardly anybody realized at all what was happening, until Brian leapt to his feet, and he said, “That’s me!” and was pulled down and sort of subsided, and the music went on, and it went on for a few minutes like that, and moments lengthened into an hour, or two hours, which can sometimes be three hours or four hours or five hours—-’

‘Long as it takes to kill a goat,’ Burroughs said.

‘—and we were absolutely ravenous, when Brian realized he was eating the same white goat.’

‘How did he take that?’

‘He said, “It’s like Communion.”’

‘“This is my body,’” I [Booth] said. ‘But Jesus didn’t eat himself, he fed the others.’

‘If he’d been sensible, he’d have eaten Judas,’ Burroughs said. ‘I’m gonna eat Graham Greene next time I see him. Gulp!’

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Ian Svenonius has made a sci-fi rockumentary film: ‘What Is A Group?’
06.07.2016
06:54 am

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Amusing
Music
Pop Culture

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A group is a music factory who comprise a kind of heroic clown role in the culture… oftentimes consisting of indigent or underclass individuals. The group members’ highly specific job functions and task compartmentalization indirectly reflect its post-industrial imperialist origins.

Via the blog of Glen E. Friedman—the superb photographer who amply documented the fertile Washington, D.C. hardcore and indie scenes—comes the marvelously odd film What is a Group? by Ian Svenonius. Svenonius first became notorious in the early ’90s; to civilians as Sassy magazine’s “Sassiest Boy in America,” and to underground cognoscenti as the singer/figurehead of the Nation of Ulysses, Cupid Car Club, the Make-Up, Scene Creamers, Weird War, Chain and the Gang…I’m probably forgetting one or two.

The film is a dryly odd collage of band photos and music performances tied together with the narrative device of two aliens, played by Katie Alice Greer and Daniele Yandel of the excellent D.C. punk band Priests, observing planet Earth and discussing rock band anthropology and the music-making process. The themes touched upon echo some of Svenonius’ writing in his books The Psychic Soviet, Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock ‘N’ Roll Group, and Censorship Now!!, specifically the ideas about music culture as a pseudoreligious control mechanism and the ways in which the rock writing process mirrors industrial production—much of Svenonius’ thinking on these matters is directly inspired both by old-school Marxist class critique and Situationism, and those same extra-musical obsessions heavily informed the ethos of The Nation of Ulysses and the Make-Up. And really, for all his bands’ relentless schtickiness, Svenonius is one of indie rock’s sharpest and most compelling thinkers about music’s role in culture. If you’re unfamiliar with his Soft Focus interview series, you should find those on YouTube, it’s quite good stuff.

The dialogue replacement and sound sync in What is a Group are done with about zero regard for actual synchronization (Greer and Yandel are entirely re-voiced throughout), which gives the whole affair a stilted and uneasy feel that goes beyond mere cheapness. Greer seems to function as Svenonius’ author avatar, expounding on the role of the recording engineer, the construction of songs, the social status of musicians, the glamorization of social alienation… you know, rock ’n’ roll shit. Astute trainspotters will recognize Cramps/Bad Seeds guitarist Kid Congo Powers, the Make-Up’s Michelle Mae, and Helium/Ex Hex’s Mary Timony.
 

Watch ‘What is a Group?’ after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
And now here’s Casey Kasem dressed as Hitler roasting Don Rickles
06.06.2016
09:34 am

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Amusing
Pop Culture

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I was recently researching something when I came across a reference to “Hitler writing all of Don Rickles’ material.” As you can imagine, I instantly forgot about whatever I had been looking for—I knew I had to track this down.

Turns out that the line was a reference to a roast thrown for Don Rickles in 1974 on The Dean Martin Show. Bizarrely, the bit involved Casey Kasem dressing up as Hitler and explaining how pivotal Rickles had been in establishing him—Hitler, not the longtime radio host of America’s Top 40 Countdown—in show business. “Hitler” calls Rickles “a real pussycat” and says that he’s “the only man I know who has bombed more places than I have!”

At the end of the bit, Dean Martin gives the departed Hitler a tasteful Sieg Heil! salute.

This roast of Rickles was broadcast on February 8, 1974, and occurred in the 9th season (!) of The Dean Martin Show, which was an NBC property. Also present at the affair were Kirk Douglas, Phyllis Diller, Telly Savalas, Nipsey Russell, Bob Newhart, and Carol Channing. According to Variety, “Those NBC specials [roasts] were typically hourlong affairs but the Rickles’ roast was so smokin’ that the network let it go 90 minutes.”

I guess Hitler didn’t have any hard feelings about Rickles plundering Nazi gold in Kelly’s Heroes.......
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Cthulhu Priestess: ‘Our Lady of Squid’ figurine
06.02.2016
09:36 am

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Pop Culture

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There’s not too much information about this Cthulhu toy figurine by artist Julian Briones, but how much would you really require? According to the artist’s website, each statue is hand sculpted, hand cast and handpainted. Apparently there are only 20 of these “little ladies” available to purchase. The toy statue stands at 15cm and sells for $75.00.

The artist notes that it takes up to 45 days for delivery of your Our Lady.


 

 

 
via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Hologram’ of George Carlin to perform at national comedy museum starting next year
06.01.2016
11:42 am

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History
Pop Culture

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Shortly after running this post we received the following message from Kliph Nesteroff:
 

A retraction was submitted this morning regarding the hologram. Kelly Carlin has not endorsed the hologram idea. I took a leap of logic. Kelly has been working closely to integrate her father into the museum, and the builders of the museum have been working closely with Hologram USA, however the hologram plans (of which Redd Foxx is one), does not involve Carlin. The comedy center recently put on a tribute to Carlin’s legacy at the Paley Center and announced the enormous donation of Carlin’s archives to the center. George Carlin is a key point for the Comedy Center, but not part of the Hologram USA project as I mistakenly stated.

 
Nesteroff also directed me to this now-updated post from Rolling Stone which has accurate information about the musuem’s plans.

Here is the post in its original form:

It’s no secret that we at Dangerous Minds have long been admirers of George Carlin. I know that Richard Metzger is a big fan, and as for me, let’s just say that watching Carlin at Carnegie on HBO (without my parents’ knowledge, of course) at the age of about 13 was a life-changing event.

On top of that, one of the coolest things DM did in 2015 was run an exclusive excerpt of Kliph Nesteroff’s fantastic book The Comedians, which is chock full of information about Carlin’s career. We love the guy.

The history of the use of so-called “holograms” in the news and entertainment business has seen mixed success, to put it mildly. On Election Night in 2008 CNN broadcast an interaction between Wolf Blitzer and a holographic image of correspondent Jessica Yellin, who was reporting from Chicago, in an inadvertent nod to Princess Leia in a similar scene in the first Star Wars movie. In 2008 a hologram of Tupac Shakur sang “Hail Mary” and “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted” at Coachella.

In neither case was the projected image actually a hologram—it’s similar to the artistic license that allows the makers of a certain kind of self-balancing scooter to call it a “hoverboard.”

So ordinarily we’d want to make fun of news that an entity known the National Comedy Center, scheduled to open in Jamestown, New York, in 2017, announced that a “hologram” of George Carlin will “perform stand-up sets” at the museum. But the fact of it being Carlin admittedly has me interested. Recently Carlin’s family donated a massive trove of the comedian’s archives to the museum, which will make these “holographic” renditions of his comedy act possible.
 

 
Almost as newsworthy is the information that the aforementioned Kliph Nesteroff is the chief curator of the National Comedy Center. There is nobody else in the world better qualified for such a position, and we congratulate Nesteroff on the good news.

Nesteroff commented recently that the Carlin family was a major sponsor of the museum and told the Hollywood Reporter that the comedian would serve as the center’s main attraction:
 

The main gimmick to bring people to Jamestown—which you may imagine is not an easy thing to convince people to do—is the George Carlin hologram. So they’re building this fake comedy club in one corner and George will be onstage, performing like old times ... He’s the credibility here. People have tried to do comedy museums before and failed. When you hear “comedy museum” and you’re a comedian, your first thought isn’t, “Oh, that’s cool,” it’s “Oh, that sounds terrible.” But in the comedy community, there are very few who would say that weren’t influenced by George Carlin. It helps.

 
The comedian’s daughter, Kelly Carlin, has donated eight trunks full of script drafts, eight-track tapes, performance videos, and photographs. One fascinating artifact promises to be the report from Carlin’s arrest on charges of obscenity from a 1972 show in Milwaukee.

I first learned about Nesteroff in 2008 after reading a lengthy and engrossing account of Carlin’s early years (1956-1970) on a blog hosted by the WFMU radio station. Nesteroff demonstrated his talent for excavating fascinating information that sheds light on some obscure corners of the comedy world, and he hasn’t let up since. This new position at the library represents some kind of closing of the circle for the energetic researcher, who has conducted countless interviews with many nearly-forgotten comedians whose heyday was several decades ago. 
 
Much more after the jump…....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The drag adventures of Superman’s pal Jimmy Olsen: Solving crime decked out in a dress back in 1966
05.31.2016
10:58 am

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Amusing
Pop Culture

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Back in the day, it wasn’t unusual to see a comic with Superman’s best buddy, red-headed reporter Jimmy Olsen, attempting to disguise himself in order to break a “big story” for the Daily Planet. And back in a special issue focused on the fictional cub reporter from 1966, Olsen decided to dress up in drag in order to get to the bottom of a jewel heist and becomes “Miss Jimmy Olsen.”
 

Intrepid reporter Jimmy Olsen going through his “disguise trunk” for his drag get-up.
 
In the special double issue (one of many times the fictional reporter would dress up like a woman), Olsen is illustrated going through his amusingly titled “disguise trunk” to find the perfect outfit to make his undercover masquerade complete. In order to get close to the criminals he suspects are responsible for the heist, he decides audition to become a member of a chorus girl line and gets the gig thanks to some strategic “padding,” and the fact that it turns out the the young Mr. Olsen had “nice legs.”

Cross dressing Jimmy (or “Julie Ogden” in the comic) catches the eye of bad-guy gangster, “Big Monte” who is instantly smitten with Jimmy/Julie, because of course he is. As the Some Like it Hot-ish storyline progresses, Olsen starts racking up pricey gifts from Big Monte like a fur coat, diamonds and fancy dinners. And, as it turns out, Big Monte isn’t the only red-blooded man who finds Jimmy Olsen’s drag persona appealing—every guy in the comic is trying to catcall their way inside Jimmy’s… dress. The strange story concludes with a cavalcade of weirdness involving a baseball bat-wielding chimpanzee, and that’s all I’m going to say about that as I don’t want to ruin this vintage piece of odd comic book history.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Led Zeppelin perform their first live set on TV, 1969
05.31.2016
09:56 am

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Music
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Television

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Led Zeppelin’s appearance on Danish television in 1969 is one of the classic moments of rock music history. It was Zeppelin’s second time on television but their very first playing a full live set of songs in front of a studio audience—they had previously lip-synched to “Communication Breakdown” for Swedish TV.

What is surprising watching this superb concert is the audience’s lack of response to Zeppelin’s fully charged performance. They sit listening intently showing little enthusiasm for what they’re hearing. For guitarist Jimmy Page this sort of apathy was part of the appeal of launching his newly formed band in Scandinavia:

They don’t cheer too madly there, you know? We were really scared, because we only had about fifteen hours to practice together. It was sort of an experimental concert to see if we were any good. I guess.

 
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An advert for Zeppelin’s first gig together as ‘the Yardbirds med Jimmy Page’ in 1968.
 
Zeppelin first appeared under the name The Yardbirds with Jimmy Page at the Gladsaxe Teen Club in Denmark on September 7th, 1968. They developed their prowess touring Denmark and Sweden over the following months. However not everyone was convinced of this new band as one Swedish reviewer of their early gigs at the Inside Club in Stockholm noted:

It has been up and down for the Yardbirds. A couple of years ago, they were on top. For a while, a lot of people thought that the Yardbirds would lead the developing English pop but their efforts led nowhere.

The members changed and the Yardbirds currently touring Sweden have very little in common with the original line-up. It is not only the line-up that has changed. The style of music is different, as is the quality - only the name is the same.

Friday night they played the Inside. They were so loud it almost hurt. Sometimes playing loud has an important role in pop, but here it was just superficial effect.

More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Technology/Transformation’: Funky ‘Wonder Woman’ mashup from 1978
05.26.2016
10:28 am

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Art
Feminism
Pop Culture

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I was recently on vacation in Vancouver, BC and was lucky enough to take in a massive pop culture retrospective called “MashUp: The Birth of Modern Culture” at the gorgeous Vancouver Art Gallery. The show, which took approximately four years to curate, featured a huge array of works from pop culture heroes like filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and many, many others.

One of the many delights the show had to offer fans of pop culture was an almost six-minute video by American video and installation artist Dara Birnbaum, a woman at the forefront of the feminist art movement in the mid-1970s. The video, “Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman,” was made in 1978 and 1979 and features Lynda Carter as her television super-hero alter ego Wonder Woman; explosions, imagery, and audio tracks taken from from her show, which ran from 1975 to 1979; and Carter’s trademark “Wonder Woman” spin—all scored to the show’s own cheese-tastic soundtrack as well as a few added disco fillips. According to Birnbaum, her use of repetition in the video is meant to expose the illusion of “fixed female identities in media” and attempts to show the emergence of a “new woman” through use of technology.

Since I first saw Birnbaum’s Wonder Woman video, I have not be able to get it out of my mind—it’s a strangely compelling and hypnotic piece of work. The video wraps up with an on-screen transcription of The Wonderland Disco Band’s homage to Wonder Woman, “Wonder Woman Disco” which is nearly as fantastic as the video itself. If you’re planning on visiting Vancouver, BC, I highly recommend that you check out “MashUp,” which runs through June 12.
 
“Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman” by Dara Birnbaum:

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘An experiment waiting to happen’: A brief history of ‘Two Tone Britain’
05.25.2016
12:40 pm

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Music
Pop Culture
Reggae

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Jerry Dammers: the father of Two Tone records
 
Two Tone was a specifically British, or more accurately English, musical genre that came out of punk and ska in the late 1970s. The roots of Two Tone can be traced back to the arrival of West Indians to England—the so-called “Windrush Generation”—under the British Nationality Act of 1948. This act gave British citizenship to all people living in Commonwealth countries and full rights of entry and settlement in the UK. With the arrival of these Commonwealth citizens came ska and reggae music, which was slowly adopted by the white working class.

Most youth music is exclusive—it’s old versus young; hip versus square; mod versus rocker; slacker versus yuppie; black versus white. Few musical genres are totally or even try to be totally inclusive—there is a built-in snobbishness that comes with the package. The osmosis of ska and Afro-Carribean culture into the white British culture pointed a way towards a truly inclusive musical genre—Two Tone. It was, as Two Tone singer Pauline Black once said, “an experiment waiting to happen.”

During the 1960s, Skinheads took ska as their own—but the growing racism of the skinhead movement led to their ostracization. Reggae replaced ska—but the skins hated reggae’s laid-back, spliffed-up vibe. Skinheads became suedeheads. Popular music moved onto glam rock, heavy metal, and prog rock. Then punk arrived in 1976. A new generation of youngsters saw that the means of music production could be theirs.
 
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Two Tone pioneers The Specials.
 
Jerry Dammers was a young musician in Coventry. He had been a fellow traveler in various youth movements—a hippie, a skinhead, a punk—but his first love was ska. Dammers took the energy of punk with the rhythms of ska and created a new genre of music known as Two Tone—an inclusive, socially aware, “danceable earfest.” Dammers formed the Specials AKA with like-minded youngsters and the best of local talent. The Specials pioneered Two Tone music. They got a record deal that allowed Dammers to set up his Two Tone record label. Its first release was The Specials with “Gangsters” on the A-side and Pauline Black and the Selecter—a band made up in the studio—on the B-side. Dammers quickly signed up the Beat (a.k.a. the English Beat), London band Madness, Bad Manners, the Bodysnatchers and even Elvis Costello and the Attractions.

Two Tone’s iconic black and white label design (an image created by Dammers that was loosely based on a photograph of Pete Tosh from the Wailing Wailers) was a standard for the fans’ style—a mix of Rude Boy and Mod—baggy suit, white shirt, black tie, and porkpie hat. Two Tone brought black and white together and although The Specials could sometimes be didactic—they sent out a political message that united the young.

The whole story is well told by those at its heart and from those who were most influenced by it in Two Tone Britain—a thoroughly enjoyable documentary that makes you realize what at its best music can achieve. (The video embedded below looks suspiciously unavailable, but we assure you, as of the time of posting, you can click on it and watch it!)
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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