And who is this strapping young man, you ask? Why it’s Ernesto “Che” Guevara in 1951, 22 years old, sporting a preppy tie and beardless! He would have been 85 today, probably still adorning hipster-dipster tee-shirts and setting up forced labor camps.
In Che’s own words:
“Hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine. This is what our soldiers must become.”
Che Guevara, still inspiring young historically-challenged ignoramuses and extremely violent types from beyond the grave…
The Château d’Hérouville where David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Elton John, The Grateful Dead, The Sweet and Fleetwood Mac recorded is up for sale.
Located near the town of Auvers-sur-Oise, in France, the property is described as a coaching station, built in the 18th century, which includes 30-rooms, and 1,700m ² of living space.
The selling price is 1, 295, 000 Euros.
In 1962, composer Michel Magne purchased the property and developed it into a recording studio. Magne is best known for his Oscar win for Gigot.
The Château was particularly popular with British artists, starting with Elton John, who recorded three albums at the studios, Honky Chateau, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player and Goodbye Yellowbrick Road. Elton suggested the studio to Marc Bolan where he recorded his 1972 album The Slider; and Bolan recommended it to David Bowie who record Pin-Ups in July 1973, and then Low in 1977.
But the Château wasn’t just known for its considerable musical pedigree. Producer Tony Visconti claimed star-crossed lovers Frederic Chopin and George Sand haunted the building—Chopin had trysted with Sand while living at the mansion. Bowie also noted the studios supernatural feel.
Mickey Mouse in Vietnam is anti-war animation produced by Lee Savage and Milton Glaser in 1968.
The one-minute cartoon has Mickey arriving in Vietnam before being shot in the head. This unofficial Mickey Mouse cartoon was said to have angered the Disney organization so much that they attempted to destroy every copy.
Until recently, the only known copies available for public viewing were one owned by the Sarajevo Film Festival (although the last time it was played there was in 2010), and one included on the Film-makers’ Coop’s 38 minute, 16mm collection reel titled For Life, Against the War (Selections), available for rental at $75 (though only to members of relevant organisations). The only pieces of hard evidence of the short’s existence available online were a few screenshots (all but one found in a 1998 French book entitled ‘Bon Anniversaire, Mickey!’).
I never realized what an awesome role model Rosey Grier was to kids (and grown men who enjoy needlepoint) in the 1970s. I mean, how many former NFL players do you know of who wrote books on needlepoint and sang songs like “It’s Alright To Cry”? None probably.
More than anything, Grier was showing that it was okay for young males to be in touch with their softer side and that there was nothin’ shameful about expressing emotions like crying. What a stellar message to get across, especially in the early 1970s when I’d imagine it was a lot tougher for even a former NFL tackle to get that message out without laughter and ridicule.
Rosey Grier is 80 years old now, and an ordained minster who keeps up a brisk pace of public service. He is the last surviving member of the Fearsome Foursome. As a bodyguard for Ethyl Kennedy during the 1968 presidential primaries, when RFK was assassinated, it was Rosey Grier who took control of the gun and subdued, Sirhan Sirhan. Let’s also not forget his co-starring role in 1972’s The Thing With Two Heads (Ray Milland plays a rich white racist who has his head transplanted onto the body of a death-row inmate played by Grier.)
Below, Rosey Grier sings “It’s Alright to Cry” on a children’s TV show in 1974:
Bryan Ray Turcotte, author the classic chronicle of punk rock handbills and posters, Fucked Up + Photocopied, has one of the largest private collections of punk rock-related ephemera in the world—he’s a one-man Smithsonian Institute of the counterculture, truly a maven’s maven.
When I got advance notice that one of the world’s most prominent archivists and historians on the matter of punk rock’s graphic design had made (with Bo Bushnell) a film about Black Flag and Raymond Pettibon , I was expecting something pretty great and… it’s excellent!
It went live this morning. I got the link a little while ago and promptly sat down and watched the whole thing:
On the first episode of “The Art of Punk” we dissect the art of the legendary Black Flag. From the iconic four bars symbols, to the many coveted and collected gig flyers, singles, and band t-shirts, all depicting the distinctive Indian ink drawn image and text by artist Raymond Pettibon. We start off in Los Angeles talking to two founding members, singer Keith Morris and bass player Chuck Dukowski, about what the scene was like in 1976 - setting the stage for the band’s formation, as well as the bands name, and the creation of the iconic four bars symbol. Raymond Pettibon talks with us from his New York art studio. Back in LA we meet with Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, about how the art, the music, and that early LA scene impacted his own life and career. To wrap it all up we sit and talk at length, with Henry Rollins, at MOCA Grand Ave in Los Angeles, about all of the above and more.
What’s so compelling about this piece is how filmmakers Turcotte and Bushnell tell you a story that you haven’t already heard a gazillion times before by focusing in on the graphics and how important an iconic logo was back then for outsider kids to rally around, wear on their chests or have etched into their flesh.
In the film, Flea makes, I thought, an especially valuable contribution, because he was young enough then (like Rollins himself was, of course) to have been in the audience and he speaks to how seeing a group like Black Flag could change your direction in life. From what I have heard from a number of people, Flea’s supposed to have an absolutely first rate modern art collection. He’s really inspired when he speaks here.
A production of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. New MOCAtv episodes exploring the visual identities of Dead Kennedys and Crass will debut soon at the MOCAtv YouTube channel
Pablo Picasso made his own statement about the tragedy of the Spanish Civil War in his ‘Guernica’ mural
In 1937, the unabashedly partisan Left Review canvassed a number of writers on their stance on the Spanish Civil War. I find the resulting document pretty fascinating, bringing together, in bite-size form, an embarrassment of literary riches from both sides of the divide.
For literary color, you can’t beat Samuel Beckett’s inspired offering, nor the “neutral” Ezra Pound’s elevated hauteur (which he was, of course, on the verge of throwing to the dogs via his infamous support for the Axis powers during WWII). The vast majority canvassed were pro-Republican, though I left a few out, concentrating on the more renowned and/or eloquent. (Neutrals and pro-Franco writers included in full.)
To the Writers and Poets of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales
This is the question we are asking you:
Are you for, or against, the legal Government and the People of Republican Spain?
Are you for, or against, Franco and Fascism?
For it is impossible any longer to take no side.
Writers and Poets, we wish to print your answers. We wish the world to know what you, writers and poets, who are amongst the most sensitive instruments of a nation, feel.
“I support the Valencia Government in Spain because its defeat by the forces of International Fascism would be a major disaster for Europe. It would make a European war more probable; and the spread of Fascist Ideology and practice to countries as yet comparatively free from them, which would inevitably follow upon a Fascist victory in Spain, would create an atmosphere in which the creative artist and all who care for justice, liberty and culture would find it impossible to work or even exist.”
[Oddly, sometime in 2002 I once saw “¡UP AL QUIDA!” [sic] written on a Dublin bench.]
Ford Maddox Ford
“I am unhesitatingly for the existing Spanish Government and against Franco’s attempt—on every ground of feeling and reason. In addition, as the merest commonsense, the Government of the Spanish, as of any other nation, should be settled and defined by the inhabitants of that nation. Mr Franco wishes to establish a government resting on the arms of Moors, Germans, Italians. Its success must be contrary to world conscience.”
“My sympathies are, of course, with the Government side, especially the Anarchists; for Anarchism seems to me much more likely to lead to desirable social change than highly centralised, dictatorial Communism. As for ‘taking sides’—the choice, it seems to me, is no longer between two users of violence, two systems of dictatorship. Violence and dictatorship cannot produce peace and liberty; they can only produce the results of violence and dictatorship, results with which history has made us only too sickeningly familiar.
“The choice now is between militarism and pacifism. To me, the necessity of pacifism seems absolutely clear.”
“I am heart and soul for the people of Spain in their brave and stoical resistance to Franco and Fascism. The lessons of Spain for the rest of western Europe, even before this struggle, lay in the innate simplicity and nobility of the uncorrupted common people. They have now burned this lesson upon the imagination of us all.”
“I am opposed to Franco firstly because Franco and his supporters represent the attempt of the aristocracy and clergy in Span to prevent the history of Spain developing beyond the Middle Ages. In opposing their reaction, so far from being an extremist, I support the Protestantism of the intellectuals like the great Catholic writer Bergamin against the materialism of the Catholic Church in Spain; and I support in Spain exactly such a movement of liberal and liberating nationalism as the English liberals supported in many countries still groaning under the feudalism in the nineteenth century.
“Secondly, I am opposed to Franco, because, supported by Hitler and Mussolini, he represents international Fascism. If Franco wins in Spain Fascism will have the third great victory in an international war which began in Manchuria, continued in Abyssinia, and may end in Spain. If Franco wins, the principle of democracy will have received a severe blow and the prospect of a new imperialist war, which is also a ‘war of ideologies’ will have been brought far nearer.”
“While I am naturally sympathetic, I still feel convinced that it is best that at least a few men of letters should remain isolated, and take no part in these collective activities.”
“Questionnaire an escape mechanism for young fools who are too cowardly to think; too lazy to investigate the nature of money, its mode of issue, the control of such issue by the Banque de France and the stank of England. You are all had. Spain is an emotional luxury to a gang of sap-headed dilettantes.”
“I am not an ‘anti’ of any sort unless it is anti-gangster or anti-nationalist. My sympathies were all with the new liberal republic in Madrid. It has been destroyed between the Anarchist-Syndicalists on the one hand and the Franco pronunciamento on the other. The intervention of Italy and Germany is on traditional nationalist lines; it was to be expected and it has been greatly facilitated by the stupid confusion in the British mind and will.
“The real enemy of mankind is not the Fascist but the Ignorant Fool.”
Against the Government
“I know too little about affairs in Spain to make a confident answer. To my mind (subject to that first reservation), it was necessary that somebody like Franco should arise—and although England might not may not benefit by his victory I think Spain will. The ideas of Germany, Italy, etc., in your document do not square with those I have formed upon the whole of the recent history of those countries. Memories of 1914-18 perhaps do not allow me to see some incidents you mention in the isolated and flamboyant way the manifesto has them.”
“I know Spain only as a tourist and a reader of the newspapers. I am no more impressed by the ‘legality’ of the Valencia Government than are English Communists by the legality of the Crown, Lords and Commons. I believe it was a bad government, rapidly deteriorating. If I were a Spaniard I should be fighting for General Franco. As an Englishmen I am not in the predicament of choosing between the two evils. I am not a Fascist nor shall I become one unless it were the only alternative to Marxism. It is mischievous to suggest that such a choice is imminent.”
So on to part two, In which we look at more recent nu-disco acts, mostly spanning the last decade or so, and mostly centered around the disco hub known as New York City, with some excursions to London, New Jersey and Oslo.
Thanks for all the feedback on the last post guys, it’s appreciated, and apologies in advance for not being able to fit everything in. If you think there’s something I have missed out on, or if there’s or an act or a dj you think people should know about, leave a comment. Anyway, let’s get to it:
Horse Meat Disco
Disco music does not exist on some abstract plain, of course, it is primarily music for the dance floor, designed to make you move your ass first, feel second, think lastly (if at all). So I couldn’t do a run down of the roots of “nu-disco” without mentioning an actual club that plays both disco and nu-disco music, where you can actually see and hear disco being consumed as it was intended to be, in the here-and-now and not the way-back-when. That club is Horse Meat Disco, a weekly Sunday afternoon/evening/night party hosted in the Eagle, a seedy bar in the heart of South London’s gay Vauxhall district. Through this ongoing weekly residency and a very fine series of compilation albums on Strut, Horse Meat has done more than any other club to rehabilitate disco, and they’ve done it not by stripping it of its “embarrassing” connotations, the kind that quickly turn off the overly-serious house head, but by going all out. For too long “nu-disco” was missing the spark that made disco itself so enticing in the first place: a sense of mischief, sexiness and most importantly FUN. Horse Meat Disco has helped reclaim disco from the boring head nodders and returned it to its primarily audience: gays, women, people of color. If you think disco music is a dead scene, frozen in amber and cocaine, then think again, you haven’t lived till you’ve experienced it with a heaving dancefloor of sweaty homosexuals, its rightful home. Horse Meat Disco is by far the best party in London, and the four man resident dj-team manage to share a lot of that love when they play in other clubs all over the world, or remix/produce their own tracks.
Horse Meat Disco interview for Groove Fest:
Norway: Lindstrom, Prins Thomas, Todd Terje
You’d think it would come as a bit of a surprise that the country responsible for the best nu-disco outside of New York or London would be snowy old Norway, but then house-heads in the late 90s were well aware of the disco talent in that small, northern country, thanks to releases by Those Norwegians, Bjorn Torske, Rune Lindbaek and Telle Records. Royksopp brought the “Norse house” sound to the global stage, but it was a producer by the name of Lindstrom who turned disco upside down, round and round, with the release of “I Feel Space.” A real dancefloor smash whose rising melody lines can still slay to this day, “I Feel Space” feels more genuinely Moroder-esque than anything on Random Access Memories, and is a brilliant demonstration of how to capture that era and feeling without resorting to expensive studios packed full of original 70s gear. Lindstrom’s studio partner Prins Thomas has also been busy carving out a niche for himself as one of the best house djs in the world (he is, if you ever have the chance to see him spin, take it!) and has been releasing some excellent Norwegian nu-disco on his own Full Pupp label. And that’s not to mention their protege Todd Terje, a master of the re-edit who has branched out into his own original productions over the last few years, culminating in the critically lauded Inspector Norse release from last year, and this years brilliant single with Lindstrom, “Lanzarote”:
Lindstrom & Todd Terje “Lanzarote”
After the jump DFA, Glass Candy, Escort, Chromatics, Arthur’s Landing, Hecules & Love Affair and more…
And also this video, which inspired me to write this whole primer in the first place, in the hope of bringing more attention to acts I like and tracks I love, like this one. THIS is how you revive disco, robots please take note:
Found in 1992, this wax cylinder recording of the poem, “America,” is thought to be the actual voice of Walt Whitman himself. Of course, there’s been debate about it ever since—even the Walt Whitman archives list it as “possibly” his voice. Perhaps it was an actor, but evidence exists that Thomas Edison wanted to record Whitman reading his work. It would be an obscure choice for a “forgery.” Regardless, a stirring reading, no?
Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear’d , grown, un grown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love.
Fun fact: Someone wag posted “Song of Myself” on Rapgenius. I can’t decide if it’s actually trolling to post Walt Whitman amongst the Biggie and Tupac, but at least he’s among suitably rapier fellow wordsmiths.
In 1972, film-sound editor and composer Martin Ziechnete was visited by two members of East Germany’s ruling party, the SED. Somehow, they had heard about his experiments with Western-style electronic music, exploring the motorik and music kosmische sounds of West German bands like Neu!, Can, and Kraftwerk. Ziechnete was to go with them in an official car.
“I feared I would lose my job, at the very least,” Ziechnete says in an interview that accompanies Kosmischer Läufer: The Secret Cosmic Music of the East German Olympic Program 1972-83, Volume One. “It would be very bad for someone who worked on party films to be seen to be influenced by the enemy. We drove in silence to the outskirts of Berlin to what I later found out was an athletics camp. They knew all about me and my idea. They questioned me about the concept for hours then left me alone in the room.
“Later an official from the Nationales Olympisches Komitee came in and told me I would begin to work on the project immediately.”
It all pulses, drones, and bleeps like the Krautrockers that inspired Ziechnete, but feels even more like a transmission from a lost universe. We don’t know how much this music helped East German athletes, but it must not have hurt: the GDR always punched above its weight at the Olympics.
Nike was hailed for its marketing genius when it hired the likes of LCD Soundsystem, Aesop Rock, and the Crystal Method to create hip indie running soundtracks. Kosmischer Läufer proves that East Germany beat them to it by decades.
Ziechnete’s half-hour program was designed and paced to accompany a 5k run, complete with warm-up and wind-down bookend pieces. The fourth of the five pieces, “Tonband Laufspur”, kicks hard to the finish line:
UPDATED: It looks like we were hoaxed about the true origins of this music - it was made recently in Scotland, apparently - but we’re leaving the post up for posterity (and because the music’s still good).
Well, as I pointed out, every summer is rightly the summer of disco. Talk of a “disco revival” is irrelevant as disco has never really gone away, but that still doesn’t stop it becoming a media trope ever 2 to 3 years, or every time a major artist, underground or pop, releases music with a distinct disco influence (in this case, Daft Punk.) It’s boring and ill-informed, but then, so is a lot of land-fill media. Still, it pisses me off. My grievance is not so much with Daft Punk themselves, but the machinery that surrounds them (figuratively) and also my belief that Random Access Memories isn’t going to spawn a disco revival, primarily as it’s not actually good enough, but also because disco doesn’t need a revival. But then, what would I know?
Actually, quite a lot. From 2002-2008 I ran a radio show/fanzine/website called Discopia that was dedicated to showcasing modern disco, and disco-influenced dance music sounds. I’ve been an alt-disco/nu-disco/disco-house/post-disco/whatever-disco-head since the mid-Nineties, when I first stumbled across Loose Joint’s cornerstone cut “Is It All Over My Face”, as remixed by Larry Levan. That set me off on a path of digging out the weirder and more obscure forms of disco, and also checking out more modern takes on the same sounds and ideals, a path I reckon I share with many producers and fans of this scene out there.
This is where my real grievance lies: the fact is that disco has been on a constant revival for at least the last ten years, it is a vibrant and thriving underground scene, and it has done it all under the radar of oldstream media. In fact, the MSM only become interested when pushed by a significantly large PR machine, and as we all know PR machines have a agendas to push and a habit of warping facts to suit their narratives.
I’ve seen this revival-meme rear up it’s head at least 3 or 4 times now. It didn’t work before, and it’s not going to work now. Disco is the fundamental bedrock that dance music is based on, its reach is huge and its legacy is deep. Similarly, nu-disco is a massive, sprawling scene, so to try and package it up in an easily consumable “revival” nutshell seems rather pointless. The same would be true for “rock”, “pop” or “dance”. Would anyone take seriously talk of a “reggae revival”? No!
And so, to my “nu-disco” primer. I’m not aiming to do anything definitive here, more point out the various different acts and scenes that have led us to where we are today. To join the dots between the disparate historical pockets of disco love that have sprung up in the last ten-twenty years and to give props to the real originators. To show how diverse and healthy “nu-disco” actually is, and how it’s in no real need of a revival. To point out that Daft Punk aren’t the first to do this, and, in fact, they did all this better years ago. Primarily, though, it’s just an excuse for me to share with you all some really excellent music you might not know.
This is part one of my “Nu-Disco” primer, and will focus mainly on acts from the mid-to-late 90s and the early 00s, essentially the roots of nu-disco, the people who were making disco before it was termed “nu”, and those instrumental in shaping that scene in the early days. Nu-disco heads, I know you’re out there, and I hope I’ve done a good job with this. Your feedback is welcome in the comments.
If there IS going to be a disco revival, THESE are the people who have helped make it happen… [Read on after the jump.]
The record that started it all for me, and I am sure, many others. By pushing the limits of what could be called “disco”, this remix has inspired many producers and DJs to do the same. To this very day, it still sounds fresh and will tear up any sound system it is played on, and being the very zenith of disco production, have shown listeners that it’s a genre worthy of serious respect. It’s a surprise to me how there is absolutely no trace of this track anywhere on Random Access Memories:
Loose Joints “Is It All Over My Face (Larry Levan Female Vocal Mix)”
After the jump: Black Cock Records, Balihu Records, Nuphonic Records, Idjut Boys, Faze Action, Metro Area, Super Discount, Dimitri From Paris, I-F, Strut Records, Soul Jazz Records, and, yes, even Daft Punk…
Dangerous Minds is a compendium of oddities, pop culture treasures, high weirdness, punk rock and politics drawn from the outer reaches of pop culture. Our editorial policy, such that it is, reflects the interests, whimsies and peculiarities of the individual writers. And sometimes it doesn't. Very often the idea is just "Here's what so and so said, take a look and see what you think."
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