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Disneyland’s mega-discotheque Videopolis was the ultimate 1980s dance party experience
05.18.2017
09:47 am
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“Tonight’s your special night for an exclusive premiere of the summer’s newest hotspot—Videopolis. It’s the dancing, dating, party scene you’re going to hear a lot about. The volume’s cranked up, the videos are rolling. And the lighting effects? A real killer! Tonight, you’ll be the first to experience this high-tech, high-energy nightclub phenomenon.”

When the obviously un-cool Michael Eisner became Disney’s C.E.O. he was desperate to appeal to teenagers and young adults. In an attempt to attract edgier teens of the MTV generation Eisner developed Videopolis: an epic 5,000 square foot all-ages discotheque located just west It’s a Small World in Fantasyland, strategically placed in the corner of the park where the loud volume would not disturb the other park guests. This state-of-the-art, $3 million outdoor venue complete with hundreds of neon lights & lasers, 70 video monitors displaying music videos, spotlights shooting into the sky, a snack bar called “Yumz,” and a dance floor large enough hold 3,000 guests opened on June 22nd, 1985. It was constructed in just 105 days using some staging elements from a 1984 Los Angeles Olympics facility. A sophisticated light show slowly lowered from the ceiling, and three camera crews captured dancers and projected them onto two 16-foot screens as computer generated “light sticks” effects were superimposed onto them in real time.
 

 
Imagineer Carl Bongiorno described Videopolis as “the first, the fastest, and the finest… it is the first attraction completed under the new Eisner-Wells team. The fastest construction project we’ve ever completed, and the finest dance facility of its kind anywhere.” To help make the attraction popular and affordable to teens, Disneyland introduced the “Summer’s Night Pass” for just $40 which gave you a Videopolis membership card plus admission into the park every evening after 5pm all summer long. Local 106.7 FM KROQ deejay Swedish Egil gave away prizes such as a $25 gift certificate to Tower Records, a Sony AM/FM Walkman, and free concert tickets to the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre. Every night, Videopolis would play “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood during the fireworks show which took place right above the dance floor, offering partying guests a spectacular view.
 

 
Many special videotaped events were held where popular singers like Rick Ashley and DeBarge performed live. A 2-hour TV special titled Disneyland’s Summer Vacation Party aired in 1986 and featured Miami Sound Machine, Boy George, The Bangles, and Oingo Boingo performing live on the Videopolis stage. In 1987 Videopolis had a short run as a TV series on the recently launched Disney Channel. Hosted by Randy Hamilton, the show spotlighted top-notch dancers as well as awkward teens who would interact with celebrity guests such as Debbie Gibson, New Kids on the Block, Tiffany, New Edition, Pebbles, and Janet Jackson.

The Disney dance party’s popularity soared in the late ‘80s surpassing its competition over at Knott’s Berry Farm’s “Club K” which was attracting up to 2,000 teenagers a night. Not all parents approved, and one mother wrote to the Anaheim Bulletin warning of “Punkers in Fantasyland,” claiming that since the dance club opened “It’s Halloween every day” at Disneyland.

Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Doug Jones
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05.18.2017
09:47 am
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‘Do the Oz,’ John and Yoko’s benefit single (and hopeful dance craze) for OZ magazine


John and Yoko march for OZ, August 1971 (via Meet the Beatles for Real)
 
“I think that everyone should own everything equally and that the people should own part of the factories and they should have some say in who is boss and who does what,” John Lennon announced to Hit Parader during his militant period. When he and Yoko Ono joined a march in London in August ‘71, holding up the latest issue of the Marxist newspaper Red Mole, they were demonstrating in support of both the IRA and the underground magazine OZ, whose editors had just been sent up the river on an obscenity beef.

John and Yoko took up the cause of the “OZ Three.” For their now-famous “school kids issue,” number 28, OZ had solicited and printed contributions from teenage readers, and was alleged thereby to have struck a mighty blow against the morality of English youth. During the ensuing obscenity trial, the defense actually called an expert witness to testify that just seeing the cover illustration was not enough to turn a healthy young person into a lesbian.
 

Note the “OZ Obscenity Trial” souvenir T-shirt, featuring R. Crumb’s character Honeybunch Kaminski
 
In the end, the editors got fifteen months in prison, and the hip community rallied to their defense, Jon Wiener reports in Come Together: John Lennon in His Time:

The OZ defense committee announced it would appeal, and John and Yoko joined the fundraising effort. They wrote the songs “God Save Us” and “Do the Oz,” released as a single by Apple in July 1971. John played on both and sang lead on “Do the Oz,” calling the group “the Elastic Oz Band.” Full-age ads appeared in all the British underground and radical newspapers: “Every major country has a screw in its side, in England it’s OZ. OZ is on trial for its life. John and Yoko have written and helped produce this record—the proceeds of which are going to OZ to help pay their legal fees. The entire British underground is in trouble, it needs our help. Please listen—‘God Save Oz.’”

Bill Elliot (later of the Dark Horse band Splinter) sings the A-side of the Elastic Oz Band single, which Lennon originally called “God Save Oz” but retitled “God Save Us.” Both sound the same in a Liverpool accent, I think Lennon is telling Sounds here:

First of all we wrote it as God Save Oz, you know, ‘God save Oz from it all,’ but then we decided they wouldn’t really know what we were talking about in America so we changed it back to ‘us’.

But the B-side, “Do the Oz,” is the keeper. Mutilating the lick from “Smokestack Lightning” on guitar, John hollers the steps of his modified hokey pokey while Yoko sings the terrifying, beguiling hum of modernity. Backing them are the Plastic Ono Band and, on acoustic guitars, two contributors to the “school kids issue,” future NME contributor Charles Shaar Murray and “Michelle.”

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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05.18.2017
07:50 am
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Vintage violence and the ‘dance of death’: Wild images of the ‘Apache’ dancers of Paris
05.11.2017
11:03 am
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Two ‘Apache’ dancers hanging out in a cafe in Paris in 1938.
 
I’m going to roll the clock back to my earliest recollection of seeing what was essentially a version of the “Apache” dance that was featured on, of all things one of the original installments of the Popeye the Sailor cartoon series that I saw on TV as a child during the 1970s. The short in question was the seventeenth ever produced, in 1934, called “The Dance Contest.” In it Popeye and his gangly girlfriend Olive Oyl enter a dance contest which of course Popeye’s nemesis Bluto attempts to disrupt. When Bluto finally gets his chance dance with Olive he recklessly and abusively hurls her around—much in the style of an Apache dance. Naturally, Popeye is having none of that and after downing a can of his famous spinach, he takes over the lead dancer role with Bluto who he then essentially beats to a pulp while his famous theme plays out in the background. The cartoon itself, as you may recall, was already notoriously violent so it made perfect sense to incorporate one of the most popular and viciously aggressive dance crazes of the time into its storyline. But all of that would have gone over the head of pretty much any kid watching the show several decades later and it wasn’t until I was conducting my very important “research” for this post that I actually realized that the old-timey cartoon was riffing on what some referred to as the “Dance of Death” or the “Dance of the Underworld,” aka, “the Apache dance.”

If you are not familiar with this style of dance then it’s important to note that female dancers played a pivotal part in creating the savage scenarios in the dance by helping to develop its complicated choreography. The word “Apache” was derived from a name given to members of Parisian street gangs who were formerly known as “no goods.” After a particularly heinous crime involving the murder of a man who was found with his face, nose, and neck pierced with several women’s hat pins, the news reported the story with the headline “Crime Committed by the Apaches of Belleville.” From that point forward, the dance, its dancers, as well as teenage hooligans (who were often one and the same) became synonymous with the name. The earliest known appearance of the Apache was in the 1900s, perhaps as early as 1902. Like many dances, it is thematic in nature with storylines involving arguments between two lovers or perhaps a prostitute and a john. There were full-fledged stage productions involving complexly choreographed dance numbers. Dancers, especially amateurs, would often break bones and sustain other injuries during the heated and violent routines. Some routines were so egregious looking it was difficult to tell if something wasn’t actually going very fucking wrong while everyone sat back swilling booze, smoking cigarettes and watched. The craze dominated Paris for nearly 30 years and would also be featured in several films including one from the wildly popular Charlie Chan series, 1935’s Charlie Chan In Paris.

LIFE magazine wrote a rather extensive piece on the Apache dance craze/culture in 1946, and interviewed female dancers regarding their feelings about the dance. They said they “liked being thrown around,” which at face value appears to describe an act of domestic violence, only set to a jazz soundtrack. Which brings me to another important distinction about the Apache—it’s not just the ladies who get roughed up. No. In the Apache, the female dancers also get to gracefully kick the shit out of their male counterparts. So you see, everyone wins when they do the Apache dance at one point or another.

I’ve posted some gorgeous images of Apache dancers hanging out around Paris as well as some incredible footage from Charlie Chan in Paris featuring an Apache dance scene with actress Dorothy Appleby that you just have to see. I’ve also posted that Popeye the Sailor short I referenced at the beginning of this post because, well, why not?
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.11.2017
11:03 am
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‘Show Me Your Soul’: Amazing ‘Soul Train’ documentary from French television
03.21.2017
09:24 am
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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…

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Posted by Doug Jones
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03.21.2017
09:24 am
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Disco Preservation Society: A treasure trove of DJ mixes from 80s San Francisco dance clubs
03.03.2017
09:50 am
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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 hearthis.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…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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03.03.2017
09:50 am
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Japanese grindcore fans do the cockroach mosh!
02.27.2017
01:07 pm
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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…

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Posted by Ken McIntyre
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02.27.2017
01:07 pm
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Sun Ra’s limbo album: ‘How low can you go?’
02.07.2017
12:18 pm
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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…....

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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02.07.2017
12:18 pm
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The Jackofficers: House music from Hell with this Butthole Surfers side project
01.26.2017
08:56 am
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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…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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01.26.2017
08:56 am
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This Jazzercise supercut from 1983 is what the world needs RIGHT NOW
01.10.2017
10:20 am
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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
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01.10.2017
10:20 am
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George Michael and Morrissey discuss Joy Division (and breakdancing) in 1984

02georgmorr.jpg
 
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….

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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12.28.2016
10:03 am
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