The first single I bought was “Snow Coach” by Russ Conway. It was at a school jumble sale, St. Cuthbert’s Primary, sometime in the late 1960s. I bought it because I loved winter, and Christmas, and the idea of traveling through some snow-covered landscape to the sound of jingling sleigh bells . I also knew my great Aunt liked Russ Conway, so if I didn’t like it….
I bought it together with a dog-eared copy of a Man from U.N.C.L.E. paperback (No. 3 “The Copenhagen Affair”). These were the very first things I had chosen and bought for myself, with a tanner (6d) and thrupenny bit (3d). I played the single from-time-to-time on my parents’ Dansette Record Player - its blue and white case and its BSR autochanger, which allowed you to play up to 7 singles one-after-another. My brother had a selection of The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks, The Who, Elvis and The Move, which he played alternating one A-side with one B-side like some junior DJ. It meant I didn’t have to buy singles, as my brother bought most of the things I wanted to hear, so I could spend my pennies on books and comics and sherbert dib-dabs. It was a musical education, and though Conway was a start, the first 45rpm single I really went out and bought was John Barry’s The Theme from ‘The Persuaders’, which I played till it crackled like pan frying oil.
As this documentary shows 45rpm singles were an important part to growing up: everyone can recall buying their first single - what it looked like, its label, its cover, the signature on the inner groove - and the specific feelings these records aroused. With interviews from Norman Cook, Suzi Quatro, Holly Johnson, Noddy Holder, Richie Hawley, Paul Morley, Jimmy Webb, Jack White, Neil Sedaka, Trevor Horn, Miranda Sawyer, Brian Wilson, The Joy of the Single is a perfect piece of retro-vision, that captures the magic, pleasure and sheer bloody delight of growing-up to the sound of 45s.
Cullen is a former member of Les Bien, the core of Lasertom and The Blast Crew, and a pivotal member of the arts/music/film/video collective Synth Eastwood. McGrath is a singer/songwriter formerly with Palomine. Having established themselves as independent artists and performers, McGrath and Cullen brought their shared interest in Fleetwood Mac, Prince and Moloko (together with “honorary” member Cian Murphy of I Am The Cosmos), to create their upbeat, emotive and fruitful collaboration Ships. They have already released 2 singles, “You’re Gonna Feel It” (which was part of a release with I Am The Cosmos) and “Two Hearts”.
Now, here is Dangerous Minds’ exclusive premiere of Ships’ latest track “Places”.
“Acid Rock’ by Rhythm Device is actually from Belgium in 1989, and not California in the late 60s, as the name might conjure up.
Hence the uber-silly video of leather-clad danse-boyz rocking out in a cheap looking discotheque.
The bass riff in this New Beat classic is naggingly familiar, it reminds me of the KLF a bit, but I am guessing it’s all nicked off some Chicago acid original anyway. That hasn’t stopped “Acid Rock” from being sampled by Nine Inch Nails, no less, on their late 80s hit “Down In It”.
Rhythm Device was the nom-de-techno of producer Frank De Wulfe, who followed up “Acid Rock” with the “Dream Trance” / “Higher Destiny” 12”. Although Discogs helpfully informs us that, even though they had different names:
These tracks are actually four different mixes of “Acid Rock”.
What a surprise.
Anyway, it’s all about the video. A perfect guide in how to look devastatingly butch and astoundingly gay at the same time, it’s all sold by the singers unwavering seriousness:
They say House music is a feeling, and I am inclined to agree.
For too long House music has been defined by a rigid beat pattern that, almost 30 years after its birth, has barely changed. In fact, it has changed so little as to make this hallowed genre seem stale and insignificant, the opposite of how it appeared the first time round, when (ironically) it wasn’t the beat that defined it so much as the attitude.
I remember hearing House music for the first time as a child of about 9 or 10 and asking my siblings to buy me a compilation of this strange, funky music. They got me a two-cassette release, called something like Hits of House, and unexpectedly opened my ears to a whole new freakish world of camp men from Chicago stuttering over a hard and dark music unlike anything I had ever heard. Sure, I had been obsessed with S’Express already, tuning into late-night radio on my headphones hoping to hear “Theme From S’Express” and “Hey Music Lover,” while also hoping not to get busted by my parents in the next room. But Hits Of House was like nothing I had ever heard. It’s hard to explain to younger generations just how fresh House was when it first appeared, just as it is hard for the listener to recapture the thrill and joy of hearing it for the first time.
But that’s where Ynfynyt Scroll comes in.
YS is a young, Austin-based producer who takes the best elements of house music from the 80s and 90s and squeezes them through the post-crunk filter to create something eniuinely fresh. You know, as opposed to what most of the magazines and websites sell House fans as being “forward-thinking”. Ynfynyt Scroll makes music that actually sounds like it comes from 2012, not 2002 or even 1992.
So blown away was I on first hearing Ynfynt Scroll that I immediately asked Rodrigo (his real name) to do a remix for me, which he thankfully agreed to. I am very happy to report that his remix of “Work It” doesn’t disappoint, coming on a bit like Junior Vasquez draged to a deep south R&B club, but even that pales in comparisson to his own releases, such as the Let Me See It EP on the #Feelings label. I also emailed him a few questions, that he gratefully replied to:
THE NIALLIST: Who are you and where are you from?
YNFYNYT SCROLL: My Christian name is Rodrigo Díaz. I was born in Lima, Peru, but I’ve lived in Dallas nearly all my life. My assumed name is Ynfynyt Scroll, which since 2010 have I used for production, DJing, visual art and as an excuse to be a cunty brat with heavy Islamic fundamentalist undertones.
TN: Describe the YS sound to me.
YS: It’s all about scroll scroll scrolling. Just keep scrolling on to the next thing until your brain goes “ugh, ya,” whether it’s listening or producing. I have almost no intentions when setting out to make a track, I just gravitate toward certain sounds that lend themselves to certain genres, but I don’t think in terms of genre.
TN: Who and what are your biggest production influences?
YS: I am very influenced by bedroom rap producers of the American south, mutli-layered trance pad chord hits, men who love dancing without making physical contact with anyone else, Afro-Peruvian rhythms, breakz and very early house.
TN: I hear the club scene in Texas is hot - is this true?
YS: Well Austin does a pretty good job of bringing talent through. Groups like Elevater Action, Broken Teeth and Peligrosa consistently throw good parties, my Freshmore buds in Houston do a good job too, and in Dallas there’s Track Meet, of which I am a part. We’ve thrown some pretty neat, all-out, immersive parties with movie-quality glowing slime and exotic set designs and neat/fun stuff like that, but haven’t had the frequency of guest that the folks in other cities have had up to now.
TN: What can we expect from a YS DJ set?
YS: You can expect me to be all over the place, to ignore genre and sometimes tempo, to play a lot of really abrasive and tinny, trebley Ha tracks, and to play as much amateur music as possible. You can also be sure you’ll hear your fair share of American southern rap, something that has been a part of every DJ set I’ve ever played.
TN: If you could have written any song in the history of music, which one would it be?
The cult Italo/synth disco label Italians Do It Better have just re-released a remastered version of their classic 2007 compilation After Dark, featuring music by Chromatics, Glass Candy, Farah, Mirage and Professor Genius, for free through Soundcloud.
Label boss Johnny Jewel explains why IDIB decided to give the remastered re-release away for free:
Over 5 years ago we released a slow-burning label sampler at midnight on my birthday. The original pressing was a demo CDR that Ida No colored with markers & glued cutouts of my hand spraypainting our names on the world. It was supposed to be a limited edition of 237 copies meant for the merch tables of Texas & California. It exploded overnight. 77 minutes of analog electronic music mutating through Italo Disco, Krautrock, Electro, Giallo Cinema, & Pop. By now, After Dark seems like it’s in its thousandth pressing…(we lost track a long time ago). And as we prepare for the release of After Dark 2, we wanted to share with you where it all began.
The last 5 years seem like a beautiful blurry dream. Since the October 15th release date was announced back in July, everyone has grown increasingly anxious for the hard copy. At that time, we didn’t know Karl Lagerfeld was going to commission Chromatics to choreograph 27 minutes of music for the Chanel runway. We also couldn’t have known that Symmetry was going to be asked to score a top-secret motion picture for 2013. There is so much music we can’t wait for you to hear. For the diehard fans, we’re going to start leaking tracks next week.
After slowly chiseling away at it since the spring of 2008, After Dark 2 is finally right around the corner. Thanks to everyone for being so enthusiastic & patient. I promise it’s worth the wait. In the meantime, download the fully remastered version of the first After Dark here. I blended it together at 5 am this morning. Enjoy!
I really can’t recommend this compilation highly enough, it’s a treat for all those who love dance music of the past and the present, even those who prefer their “dance music” to be enjoyed in a distinctly horizontal position, perhaps with some herbal refreshments. And if you’re a fan of Ariel Pink and John Maus’ lo-fi, retro sounds, there is much here to savor:
I ended my first Notes from the Niallist column by mentioning the collective I am a co-founder of, and performer with, called Tranarchy.
Frankly, it’s Tranarchy that has been taking up most of time, and distracting me from mining the cultural coal face for Dangerous Minds. But that’s the trade-off I guess, as Tranarchy is helping to create the diamonds people discover under all that dust.
As the name would suggest, Tranarchy is a drag-and-trans-heavy collective interested in subverting, and commenting on, normative gender roles. I know that all sounds very serious, but Tranarchy is dedicated to putting the fun first, and letting people discover the message for themselves, without having it rammed down their throats. There’s just too much hectoring in this world already, and not enough people willing to lead by example, i.e. living the life they want to live regardless of what society says. Sniff all you like at the supposed frivolity of drag queens and the “feminine” aesthetic, as historically has been the case with male-dominated, straight society, but always remember how much guts it takes to flaunt your otherness in public.
Besides the political aspect, however, there’s something almost magical going on with Tranarchy. And I mean “magical” in terms of seeing dreams and desires become a reality. We started the collective just over a year ago, and as we have grown at a surprising rate, we have managed to put on events and happenings that, just 18 months ago, we (literally) could only have dreamed of.
So far, we have hosted Manchester’s first ever vogue ball, called Vogue Brawl (now into its second year.) We’ve held a number of interactive film screenings in the style of the legendary Peaches Christ’s Midnight Mass in San Francisco (Showgirls, Zoolander, Mad Max: The Road Warrior with Empire Drive-In and Abandon Normal Devices.) We have created promo videos and photos shoots for our events that show off much of Manchester’s untapped talent, and these are beginning to get attention in the States and further beyond. Our most popular film so far is the promo for Vogue Brawl 2: Pride Is Burning, which can be basically summed up as “The Warriors in drag.”
The collective is very aware of gay and trans history and we want to celebrate that. We’ve held a few outlaw parties inspired by the original New York club kids James St James and Michael Alig, and documented them in the style of the sadly-missed pioneering NYC videographer Nelson Sullivan.
This is where it gets interesting, though. Our first outlaw party was a reclaiming of the Manchester tram system, which, as anyone who has ever used public transport will know, can get pretty hairy if you stand out in any way. Our last outlaw party was even bigger, in terms of execution and impact. It was an invasion of, and statement about, Manchester’s annual “Pride” festival of gay culture and awareness.
Every year, Manchester Pride is held in the city’s Gay Village and attracts up to 40,000 people, making it one of the flagship gay Pride festivals in the UK. However, the amount of money raised for charity as opposed to the amount of money raised for personal profit has been a major, running issue for a while, as has the fact that a festival celebrating gay visibility, and interaction with the wider, local community, is held in a walled-off compound that charges people to enter.
However, the one thing the Manchester Pride organizers don’t have control over is the large canal that runs right through the Gay Village, and along side Canal St, where much of the festivities take place. So, as a bit of a lark, Tranarchy took a barge down to the Village this year, and crashed the Pride party to perform a few numbers and make a basic point.
We have issued an official Tranarchy statement detailing some of the problems with Manchester Pride to accompany the YouTube video, and here is an extract from that:
Freeing Pride is not an attack on Pride as a party, and it is not just about the fences and the ticket prices. Its about setting Pride free from the businesses and individuals who seek profit before the well-being of our community. It’s about asking what the event is really about, who benefits from it who should pay for it, and remembering why we do it in the first place! Its about asking whats more important; extra cash for an organization reaching out to the most vulnerable among us, or getting to see Steps [90s pop band] one last time before they slip into room 101?
In short, we were all incredibly nervous about pulling this stunt, but it turned out better than we could have hoped. Check out the old voguing queen we encountered at the end of the video, in the Piccadilly basin, which is a well-known cruising ground:
Our YouTube video channel is here, and for regular news updates, subscribe to Tranarchy on Facebook.
With his face smeared with red ochre, that came off the lavatory walls, Lindsay Kemp made his debut dancing Salome as a pupil at an all boy’s boarding school in the north of England. Kemp had always wanted to dance the Seven Veils, ever since he had seen Rita Hayworth seduce on the cinema screen. That night Kemp was wrapped in toilet paper, and made his entrance from a cupboard in the dormitory. Bicycle lamps illuminated his performance, as he danced to the sound of a mouth organ.
This is Lindsay Kemp recalling his first performance in a TV interview. Kemp talks about his performnace, and how he takes everything that is inside and releases it, so that the audience can believe all that he performs is true.
This is a rare and incredible piece of archive, showing Kemp and his brilliant fellow dancers (including The Great Orlando) preparing and performing an extract from Salome, in 1977. In the interview, Kemp goes on to mention how a production of Turquoise Pantomime, caused offense to the Matrons of Galashiels, that led to a bun fight, and the headline “Blue Show Offends Matrons”. Kemp finishes flirtatiously telling the interviewer how some people think he’s impure, because he opens his mouth. Wonderful!
Or to be more precise, here’s a very awkward interview with an out-of-drag Glenn Harris Milstead on the British music television show The Tube, from 1983, which is followed by an excellent performance by Divine of her club hit “Shake It Up.”
While it’s understandable that straight-laced, square TV presenters might not know what to make of Divine (whose very raison d’être was to make people laugh by overturning preconceptions of gender and beauty), you would expect the producers of a supposedly hip, youth-oriented TV show like The Tube to be a bit more switched on.
Instead we get an interview by the bumbling Muriel Grey in which she suggests that Divine is insecure, repulsive, and somehow an affront to women. The hapless Grey comes across as the dullest of squares in this clip, which I guess is a danger to be considered when you go up against a glamor icon like Divine, but unfortunately Grey has previous form in conducting cringe-worthy interviews.
Thankfully, Milstead takes it all in his rather large stride, and reacts with the grace befitting a true star: