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‘Show Me Your Soul’: Amazing ‘Soul Train’ documentary from French television
09:24 am

Pop Culture

Soul Train

Show Me Your Soul: The Soul Train Years is a 2013 documentary produced for French television by filmmaker Pascal Forneri (who also directed the critically-acclaimed 2010 documentary Gainsbourg & his Girls). It uses wonderful rare footage, archival photographs, and brand new interviews to take the very first in-depth look at the history of Soul Train. Forneri not only highlights the amazing soul and R&B artists who performed on the program over its 35 year, 1,100 episode run, but also the real stars of the show: the in-studio dancers who would set the standard for future generations of contemporary urban dance.

Several recurring Soul Train dancers are spotlighted in this documentary who provide a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how the show came together. Most of the dancers were not professionally trained, they would spend hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets to fly themselves out to Hollywood from cities all over the U.S. to be on the show. Those determined few who didn’t make the cut at the audition would sneak themselves onto the studio lot by any means necessary: including one dancer who got onto the set by hiding himself in the trunk of a car. As the show’s popularity in American households increased, so did the dancer’s popularity: week after week they’d try to outdo one another. First by their dance moves which became more and more wild, then by their fashion choices. Some dancers were so eager to get in front of the camera that they started bringing in props (a man known as “Mr. X” became famous for his dance routine that included a large, oversized toothbrush). Dancers began getting recognized on the streets of their home cities as if they were veritable celebrities.

Visionary host Don Cornelius always stated that Soul Train was a home for soul artists regardless of their race, and featured a long list of white artists who appealed to black audiences: Gino Vannelli, David Bowie, Beastie Boys, Elton John, Teena Marie, Hall & Oates, Pet Shop Boys, and Spandau Ballet were amongst the many white artists who appeared on the program over the years. As music trends slowly began to change, Don Cornelius struggled to keep Soul Train true to his original vision. When disco went mainstream, Cornelius made sure the show focused on only the most soulful disco artists that were being played on the radio. When rap music went commercial, however, Cornelius could not hide his contempt for the genre and made it very clear from the beginning that he wouldn’t get behind hip hop. Forneri documents this well, showing footage of Cornelius hanging his head in disgust following a performance by Public Enemy. As he slowly approaches Chuck D. and Flavor Fav for an interview he begins with a very long pause, and then exclaims, “That was frightening.” In the middle of a Kurtis Blow interview, Cornelius awkwardly admits on television “It’s so much fun, I mean, it doesn’t make sense to old guys like me. I don’t understand why they love it so much but that ain’t my job is it? My job is to deal with it and we’re dealing with it,” which was followed by uncomfortable laughter from the studio audience.
Watch ‘Show Me Your Soul: The Soul Train Years’ after the jump…

Posted by Doug Jones | Leave a comment
Disco Preservation Society: A treasure trove of DJ mixes from 80s San Francisco dance clubs
09:50 am


San Francisco
DJ Sets
dance music

Jim Hopkins of the SF Disco Preservation Society curates a digital archive of mixes, sourced from old cassettes and reel-to-reels, from luminary ‘80s and ‘90s San Francisco dance club DJs.

Many of these mixes come from gay dance clubs which are no longer in operation.

“Somebody just came and dropped off this whole bag of cassettes,” Hopkins told SFist. “A lot of these guys are getting up in years, and this is stuff that shouldn’t be lost.”

Hopkins wants people who went to SF nightclubs like Pleasuredome, the I-Beam, and the EndUp back in the day to be able to hear some of these multi-hour mixes that they may only have the haziest memories of, and he wants to introduce a new generation of DJs and nightlife mavens to the talents of their forebears.

The online archive which is housed at contains a selection of ‘80s mixes. Dance mixes from the ‘90s can be found on a separate page here.

What’s really remarkable about these mixes are how deep many of the cuts go. There’s really so much worthwhile high-energy dance music which has been lost to the sands of time. Hopkins’ curation of these tapes will hopefully expose a lot of this music to new ears. This archive is your one-stop destination for programming your next workout or home dance party. 

After the jump a selection of mixes from this amazing archive…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Japanese grindcore fans do the cockroach mosh!
01:07 pm


Mosh Pits

Japanese grindcore band Viscera Infest have never been known for their restraint. Since 1999, they have offered extremity in gushing, steaming gut-piles, flailing away at already dangerous speeds while covered in blood and howling about some weird/gross medical bullshit (there’s a song on their last album, 2015’s Verrucous Carcinoma, called “Diffuseintrinsicpontnebrainstemglioma(DIPG)Placental-SiteTrophoblasticgnathopalatoschisiserosivegastritisoccultmaculardystrophyschistogloss-
ismyxoedemaempyesisuremicpneumoniasphingolipidosisglioblastom”). How can you top a band who gets their fashion tips from those utterly insane Mexican gore magazines? At this point they can’t get any uglier or weirder, so they’ve taken on an alarming new shock tactic: they keep playing faster. Faster than any black metal or grindcore or thrash metal band ever has. I remember nearly panicking at the velocity of Kreator’s Pleasure to Kill album in the 80s. Viscera Infest make Kreator’s speed metal sound like lumbering funeral doom.

Caught in a (cockroach) mosh
So, how are you supposed to react to their 350+ beats per minute blur-core insanity? Headbanging would land you in the hospital. Traditional pit moshing at that speed would probably cause you to just disintegrate on impact. So hardcore Infest fans have created a new dance/coping skill: the Cockroach Mosh. It’s exactly what you think it is. Just get on your back and wriggle.

These are wild times to be alive, man.
See for yourself, after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
Sun Ra’s limbo album: ‘How low can you go?’
12:18 pm


Sun Ra
Roz Croney

Herman Poole Blount lived a more interesting life under the name Sun Ra than anyone you know, it’s safe to say. To make money on the side, Sun Ra used to record novelty albums as a session keyboardist. In the mid-1950s there was a DJ in Chicago named Edward O. Bland who was a big Sun Ra fan right from the very start; in 1959 he used Sun Ra for a movie he put out called Cry of Jazz. A few years later Bland was getting steady work as an arranger, and, according to John F. Szwed in his book Space is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra, he would consistently use Sun Ra and the members of his Arkestra as often as he could.

One such gig came in 1963, for an album intended to cash in on the limbo fad, which had actually been kicked off in 1957 by a James Mason movie called Island in the Sun that had been filmed in Barbados and Grenada. The movie introduced western audiences to the Trinidadian dance that involved walking underneath a horizontal pole, eventually by bending far backwards as the pole was positioned lower and lower on successive attempts, but it was likely Chubby Checker’s 1962 single “Limbo Rock” that truly set the limbo craze in motion.

A few months later Bland recruited Sun Ra and several of his Arkestra players to accompany Roz Croney on her album How Low Can You Go?. Specifically, Sun Ra played organ on the album, and four longtime Arkestra conspirators also play on it: Marshall Allen (alto sax), John Gilmore (bass clarinet), Ronnie Boykins (bass), and Pat Patrick (baritone sax and flute).

Being a novelty album, almost every song title mentions the word limbo by name (the only one that doesn’t is the cover of “Whole Lot of Shaking Going On,” as the title is schoolmarmishly rendered on the album sleeve). Sample titles include “Kachink Limbo,” “Loop De Loop Limbo,” and “Doggie In The Window Limbo.”

Listen to the “limbo” cuts after the jump…....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Jackofficers: House music from Hell with this Butthole Surfers side project
08:56 am


Butthole Surfers

The Jackofficers’ ‘Digital Dump’ LP

Pioughd, the first and last record to discern the revolutionary content of the late Garry Shandling’s life and work, was also the Butthole Surfers’ first and last album for the Rough Trade label, which went bankrupt in 1991. Two years later, Paul Leary told Fiz:

Apparently, Rough Trade’s entire existence was based on getting in a position to be able to fuck the Butthole Surfers, and they fucked the Butthole Surfers. And almost doing that, they had no further reason to exist so they went belly up and took all our money with them.

I wouldn’t presume to question Leary’s analysis, but I think it’s fair to point out that Pioughd was bookended by Buttholes side projects for Rough Trade that probably did not contribute much to the label’s solvency: Leary’s own meticulously produced solo debut, The History of Dogs, and the house record Gibby Haynes and Jeff Pinkus made as the Jackofficers.

Though marketed as house music—Rough Trade’s ad campaign called the record “demented house dada”—I’m not sure today’s EDM fan will rush to acclaim Digital Dump as a classic of the genre. I like the album because it’s an audio cartoon of what the future sounded like in 1990, when the future sounded like samplers. The pink balloon-animal turd monogram on the cover of Digital Dump perfectly depicts the title and tells you a lot about the style of the period. At the time, there were some people among us who had revived the wearing of DayGlo colors and the taking of acid, but instead of Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles, these people danced to whump whump techno sounds. If it was this crowd’s dollar the Jackofficers were after, they misfired; but if they set out to make the soundtrack to the ultimate L.A. cop drama, they struck the bull’s-eye. Digital Dump sounds great in the car.

Speaking of LSD, Oliver North’s sexual life was a topic that captured the imaginations of the Butthole Surfers. They made a few bold assertions about Ollie’s habits over WNYU-FM on July 28, 1987, just as Attorney General Edwin Meese III was explaining to Congress that, upon looking into the matter, he suspected nothing criminal in the Iran-Contra affair (on which this Bill Moyers special is good if you can survive the terrible Jackson Browne song near the beginning). At least two of the Jackofficers’ songs are seasoned with bits of Oliver North’s testimony from the Iran-Contra hearings, making them valuable sources for a neglected area of Butthole Surfers scholarship. “Time Machines Pt. 1,” the second song embedded below, is one of them: “You know that I’ve got a beautiful secretary, and the good Lord gave her the gift of beauty.”
More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
This Jazzercise supercut from 1983 is what the world needs RIGHT NOW
10:20 am



I follow Hint Fashion Magazine on Facebook, and every once in a while they’ll post some obscure video footage from the 70s or 80s that is truly bust-a-gut funny. Like this one for example: It’s a supercut of Let’s Jazzercise from 1983. The host is Judi Sheppard Missett and the jazzercise routines she instructs are truly something to be seen. The music, the constant change of costumes and the dance routines make this video worth your while. I honestly have no words.

I did find the original Let’s Jazzercise on YouTube. It’s an hour-long. I couldn’t take more than five minutes of it. I think the supercut, below, is far superior. I mean how else could you possibly repackage Let’s Jazzercise to make it interesting (and even relevant again, if only for the LOLz) in 2017?

via Facebook

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
George Michael and Morrissey discuss Joy Division (and breakdancing) in 1984

In May 1984, George Michael and Morrissey appeared alongside the unhip, uncool and utterly square antique DJ Tony Blackburn on BBC youth programme Eight Days A Week. The show was a weekly round-up of the latest music, film and book releases as pecked over by a trio of celebrities. It was aimed at a young happening audience with the intention of fulfilling the ye olde BBC charter obligations to “educate, inform and entertain” (perhaps not necessarily in that order).

The week George appeared on the show he was storming up the UK charts alongside Andrew Ridgeley as Wham! with their hit single “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” while Morrissey with bandmates The Smiths were just about to release their song “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.” And Blackburn—well, he was still unutterably anodyne, nauseating and the very establishment edifice these two young artistes were (in their own ways) rebelling against—no matter how much Blackburn sought credibility by pronouncing his deep love of soul music.

At the time of its broadcast, the fey, young aesthete Morrissey would have been seen as the “cool” one. But in truth it’s George Michael who steals the show with his honesty, sensibility and utter lack of pretension. He says it as it is and plays to no gallery as both Morrissey and Blackburn were wont to do.

The topics up for review the week this trio appeared were Everything But The Girl‘s debut album Eden, the crap movie that film producers Golan & Globus called Breakdance (aka Breakin’) and a book about Joy Division called An Ideal for Living: A History of Joy Division by Mark Johnson. While Morrissey does Morrissey whilst talking about another Mancunian band, it is George Michael who delights with his (low) opinion of pompous English rock scribe Paul Morley and surprises by revealing his love of the brooding quartet.  While the show’s host Robin Denselow (probably an apt surname) asked, “George, I wouldn’t imagine you as a Joy Division fan, maybe I’m wrong?”

George: Ah, you might be wrong! This book, just became incredibly suspect for me, the minute I saw…

Denselow: You do like them?

George: I do like them, yeah. It became very suspect when I saw that it was partially, a lot of the contributions were from a gentleman called Paul Morley.

Denselow: You don’t approve of Paul Morley?

George: You’d need a book a lot thicker than that to list that man’s ideas or hangups, whatever you’d like to call it. It became very, very pretentious, in so many areas, I actually didn’t finish it, I did not get anywhere near finishing it.  And I actually really liked Joy Division, or particular their second album Closer. I thought Closer, the second side of Closer…it’s one of my favorite albums, It’s just beautiful.

Watch George Michael & Morrissey talk pop, film and books, after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Stripping and Kissing: Ukrainian singer has a novel approach for winning Eurovision 2017 (NSFW)

Well, where do I begin with this little gem? Probably the history….

So, the Eurovision Song Contest that tacky annual sing-a-long started off as a way of bringing together those many battle-weary nations of Europe after the long bloody devastation of the Second World War. It was the brainchild of Marcel Bezençon—a Swiss TV exec who pinched the format from an Italian music festival where unreleased tracks vied in competition for the title of best new song. So far so good—though it behoves me to mention that Switzerland was neutral in WW2 which might explain why Eurovision is such a bland, inoffensive and unbearably condescending idea…anyhoo...

Since the Eurovision’s first appearance in May 1956—when it was called Eurovision Grand Prix—the competition has come around every year with that unenviable certainty of death, taxes and a visit to the in-laws every Christmas. Over the years there have been some fun things—ABBA, Sandie Shaw, Lulu, that heavy metal band Lordi and the first transgender winner Conchita Wurst. Then of course there has always been a lot of crap—way, way too much to mention. Still the Eurovision remains incredibly popular—some 200 million people watched the show go out live in 2015.

Winning Eurovision usually guarantees a lot of money, fame and shedload of sequins. The stakes are always high for anyone hoping to be win the privilege of officially representing their country in the competition. To find the most suitable artiste—each year, every participating country holds a national televised contest to find the person they think is going to win. As you can imagine, this brings out some of the most talented, strange and downright weird.

All of which brings me to Alex Angel who auditioned this week for the honor of representing the Ukraine in next year’s Eurovision. Most acts have a good song. Most acts can sing. But Alex doesn’t need any of that. He has a novel approach to booking his place in the final—his stripping partner Natasha Olejnik. This week Alex and Natasha tried their best to impress Ukraine’s Eurovision selection panel with their song “Running For Love.”

Let’s just say, they made an impression….
More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Love Saves the Day: An interview with the legendary NYC club pioneer and DJ David Mancuso
07:02 am


David Mancuso
The Loft

As if 2016 didn’t suck enough already, Monday night saw the passing of one of the most influential (yet unheralded) figures in late 20th century popular culture. That man’s name was David Mancuso, and if you’ve ever danced to great records on a great sound system in a room full of smiling people and thought “could Heaven ever be as good as this?” then David Mancuso is the person you have to thank.

Mancuso, a one-time follower of LSD guru Timothy Leary structured his parties into three stages, and borrowing from The Tibetan Book Of The Dead (as Leary had for his guided LSD sessions) he termed them “Bardos”:

“The first Bardo would be very smooth, perfect, calm. The second Bardo would be like a circus. And the third Bardo was about re-entry, so people would go back into the outside world relatively smoothly.”

The parties Mancuso started throwing in his Manhattan home in 1970–which eventually picked up the moniker “The Loft”—are the absolute ground zero for dance culture as we know it today. This isn’t some hyperbolic statement: practically every one of the great NYC DJs who emerged during the 1970s and 80s—from Larry Levan to Frankie Knuckles to Danny Krivit to Kool Herc to Afrika Islam to David Morales to Junior Vasquez to Danny Tenaglia—are indebted in one way or another to Mancuso’s work (many being regular attendees at his Loft parties). And that’s just the DJs. Plenty of club owners were inspired to open their own nightclubs after visiting The Loft, often with the same shared values as Mancuso’s: peace, love, unity and diversity. While music was the main focus, socially the Loft was incredibly mixed. From day one the majority of the patrons were both homosexual and non-white. The freedom that could be found on The Loft’s dancefloor helped attendees fully express their (often marginalized) personalities, bond with people from both their own social circles and further afield, and helped them shape a vision together of the kind of world they would like to live in once the party had ended and they had left Mancsuo’s home. All to a spellbinding soundtrack carefully chosen by Mancuso himself, music that would later be classified as “disco,” but which was, in reality, simply the very finest in funk, soul, jazz, rock and electronica.

I was lucky enough to meet and interview David Mancuso, for my Discopia fanzine, back in 2003. He had recently come out of a period of relative inactivity, and was touring the world, trying to set up each and every venue he played in to be as close as possible to his New York home. I met him in Glasgow’s CCA, in between testing out the specially-hired audiophile event PA and beginning to blow up the hundreds of balloons that would become his party’s’ signature decoration. What follows is an abridged version of that interview, and while I would have liked for there to have been a happier occasion for digging this talk out and dusting it off, it’s still a fitting tribute to a man who changed not just my own life, but the lives of countless others. Rest in peace, David!

Dangerous Minds: You’ve been DJing for a long time. What is it that makes you still want to do it?

Mancuso: Well, actually, that was the last thing I wanted to do! And to this day it’s the thing that scares me the most.

What, DJing?!

Mancuso: Yeah. I mean it’s not something I fantasized about or wanted to do. But as I started doing my own parties I sort of found where I could be the most help. Also I was into sound systems, so there was a whole relationship there. But the DJ part of it really, and not to be vague, but the music really plays us. Really it’s an opportunity where one can shed their ego. Sort of like having an out of body experience. So I feel there’s a responsibility with the sound, with certain aspects and so forth, that I can contribute to.

Is it still going in New York?

Mancuso: Yeah, I’m about to do my 33rd anniversary. I don’t do it as frequently, as I don’t have a permanent location. The last four or five years the rents and things have gotten so astronomical and the parties are not designed to make a lot of money, okay? And I’m not into having a bar. It’s a very private, very personal thing that’s me and my friends. That’s what this is all about, it’s not about being a club. It’s not out there in the commercial world. The music relates to all these situations, yes, but it’s a very personal thing.

Can you tell me a bit about the sound system and how it is set up?  

Mancuso: Well basically it’s set up around the fundamentals of physics, of sound. And this is not magic, some kind of formula for having, you know, a really great sound system. It’s not about that at all. It is set up and designed to be honest and respectful to the music. You wanna hear the music not the sound system. Usually what happens is, you’ve probably seen this yourself, they put four stacks up, then face them toward the middle.


Mancuso: Well that’s just not how things work. Your voice is coming from there, my voice is coming from here… You get my point? It’s not coming from [over there], there’s not two more of us. But that’s a formula people have used and in some cases they just don’t know, but it’s got nothing to do with music standards. I mean if you take two flashlights and you switch two beams at each other they cancel.

So you start with the centre ‘cos there’ll be three speakers. The centre channel is mono. It has a lot to do with the vocals. You come down the room, and there’s two more, one in each corner. Then two on the sides which are delayed, but reinforce the sound. So whatever the artist is doing [it replicates], just as my voice is travelling from this point down that room as if you were sitting down there and vice versa. You relay exactly what’s happening. It’s all mathematics. So it’s set up to be as though there people, standing there playing instruments.

An action man styled as David Mancuso by Reggie Know
Over here [UK] we get told a lot about certain clubs and the Loft is one of them…

Mancuso: Correction, it’s not a club, please! Sorry, I got a little out of hand…

That’s okay.

Mancuso: ...but once you start going in that direction you start getting away from what the Loft is all about. I mean I’m here on a tour, but this is not the Loft. First of all the Loft is a feeling. While there are certain aspects that reflect the Loft and how it develops, it’s not the same. The name “The Loft” itself is not a name I gave it, it’s a given name. People eventually started saying that, ‘cos what is it? Oh, it’s my house! This is not about the club scene. I find some of them are really good, but that’s not what this is about. Sorry, I’m not trying to give you a hard time.

No that’s cool, it is a distinction that need to be made. But in terms of the clubs that people hear about over here, especially the New York stuff like the Paradise Garage and the Gallery, did you go to any of them?

Mancuso: Yeah, of course. I mean, I know Nicky [Siano] very well,  I knew Mike Brody very well, I knew Larry [Levan] very well, and the bar for quality as far as a sound system goes was much higher. Part of what the Loft did was contribute to that. People started, in about ’73, opening up other lofts and things, and they had to have a good sound system ya’know. So that’s one of the things the Loft has done. But these days the quality has gone down, in a lot of situations.

In terms of general quality?

Mancuso: Yeah, be it musical, or less musical. I mean you ever go into a place and you can’t make out the words, or you can make out some of them? It should be very precise.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
‘Live animals are known to be devoured’: Brion Gysin and Paul Bowles’ Sufi recordings

Part of Ira Cohen’s layout for the Jilala sleeve (via Granary Books)
Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka was not the first album of Moroccan music inspired by the kif-smoking literary expats in Tangier. In 1964, Brion Gysin and Paul Bowles taped the Jilala brotherhood, a Sufi order whose ritual dance and music were supposed to exorcise evil spirits and heal the sick. The LP Jilala, released a year or two later by Ira Cohen, brought these recordings into limited circulation and preserved them for posterity.

Poet, musician, traveler, author of The Hashish Cookbook, and director of The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda, Cohen was another Olympian of the arts who had joined Burroughs, Gysin, and the Bowleses in Tangier in 1961. (My old employer Arthur Magazine brought out Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda on DVD ten years ago, with new scores by Acid Mothers Temple and Sunburned Hand of the Man supplementing the original soundtrack by founding Velvet Underground drummer Angus MacLise.) Years before his psychedelic photo experiments with Mylar, Cohen edited the literary magazine Gnaoua, named after a form of North African religious music that’s related to but distinct from the Jilala’s. 

It’s not entirely clear how Jilala is connected to another Paul Bowles recording project involving the same collaborators, time, and place. Bowles wrote Cohen in 1966 about donating the profits from something called the “Hypnotic Music record” to the Timothy Leary Defense Fund. In a footnote, the editor of Bowles’ letters says this refers to a compilation of Hamatcha, Jilala, Gnaoua, and Aissaoua trance music that was put together from tapes made separately by Bowles, Gysin, and Cohen and released by Cohen. However, the Independent reports that the Hypnotic Music record was an unrealized project, so perhaps Bowles’ editor has conflated it with Jilala, which Discogs lists as the sole release on Cohen’s Trance Records.

I would be delighted to be proven wrong about this. Does anyone have a copy of the Hypnotic Music record?

The cover of the original issue of Jilala
Before putting Jilala in your gym playlist, you should probably read Cohen’s liner notes (reprinted in full at Big Bridge and Discogs) so you know what you’re getting yourself into. The Jilala knew how to pitch a wang dang doodle with their flutes and drums. The bath salts of their day, these religious tunes have been known to make listeners eat live animals, slash themselves with knives, and drink boiling water straight from the kettle, as Cohen tells it…

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
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