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Pirate Radio, Revolution and the rise of Radio Študent

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In the folly of my youth I was once involved with a student anarchist group. Alas, this hapless caucus of surly fellow radicals were more inspired by the swagger of The Sex Pistols and The Clash than by any reading of Kropotkin or Bakunin.

On those odd occasions when we met to discuss plans for the overthrow of capitalism, ahem, we did fire up a few interesting ideas. One such was to start an illegal radio station to broadcast revolutionary hymns (and punk rock) across the west end of Glasgow. Unfortunately, we never had enough radicals willing to take responsibility for setting the thing up and it all came to naught. Our lax attitude was (sadly) best summed up by a leather-jacketed Joe Strummer wannabe who kept asking, “Where’s all the free stuff?”

If only we had been a bit more like Slovenia’s Radio Študent who knows where we could have gone?
 
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Radio Študent came out of the political turmoil and student unrest of the late 1960s. Established in May 1969 by a handful of radical students at Ljubljana University, the station originally broadcast for just three hours a day, offering its listeners a potent mix of music and politics—an alternative voice to the country’s heavily censored and state controlled media. The station’s popularity grew during the 1970s as Radio Študent became the main source for dissent. With the influence of punk, the station attracted more journalists and campaigners and Radio Študent played in a major part in the movement for Slovenia’s independence in the Revolution of 1989.
 
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Now Radio Študent has over 250 contributors and broadcasts 24 hours a day. Though money is tight, people become involved with the station “because they believe in what they are doing.”

If you have an interest in radical media or in finding out how others have successfully created their own revolutionary outlet, then Siniša Gačić‘s short documentary on Radio Študent is a must.
 

 
H/T Voices of East Anglia

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Birth of the heavy: 50 years of The Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me’
09.26.2014
09:01 am

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:
The Kinks
Dave Davies


 
The misconception that a pre-Yardbirds/Zeppelin Jimmy Page played the hectic guitar solo on the Kinks’ stunningly durable first hit “You Really Got Me” seems like it will never die, despite being denied repeatedly, for decades, by the song’s producer Shel Talmy, Page himself, and Kinks guitarist Dave Davies, who, as the actual pair of hands behind that solo, must be singularly miffed that he’s been so widely denied credit for it for five decades. (Davies also famously invented, by slashing the speaker cone of his cheap amp, the guitar distortion effect that became practically a requirement in hard rock forever after that song hit. It bears mentioning that he was 17 years of age at the time.)

Just this last summer, a BBC documentary called London’s Tin Pan Alley: Danny Baker’s Musical History Tour repeated the long-debunked Page myth, prompting a response on Davies’ Facebook profile:
 

 
That justifiably salty post was the next day toned down a bit to this:
 

 
Perhaps the error is being corrected, as the doc is, as of this posting, no longer available for viewing on the BBC’s web site.

The song first appeared on Billboard’s charts on September 26, 1964—fifty years ago today. Its success was dramatic. The Kinks had two flop singles behind them, and their contract with the Pye records label was for three singles. “You Really Got Me” didn’t just launch the Kinks’ career, it saved it, and the label didn’t even approve of its release. Details of the single’s backstory are bared in Thomas M. Kitts book Ray Davies: Not Like Everybody Else.

The Kinks’ path…began on August 4, 1964, with the release of “You Really Got Me.” Although audiences had responded enthusiastically to the song since the Dave Clark Five tour, record executives thought it too loud and crude, lacking in melody, and too far removed from the harmonies and smooth rhythms of the popular Merseybeat sound—one executive, according to Ray, compared Dave’s guitar to a “barking dog.” Pye Records would have preferred the Kinks to record something else for their third and, most likely, final single. But with two failed efforts behind them and their career in jeopardy, the Kinks insisted on “You Really Got Me,” and to anger executives further, the barely twenty-year-old, unproven lead singer and composer demanded to re-record the song because the production on the first recording dissatisfied the band. Pye only yielded to Davies because Larry Page, the representative of Kassner Music assigned to the Kinks, threatened to withhold the mechanical license to the song. Pye agreed to allow the Kinks to re-record “You Really Got Me,” but at the band’s expense—costs were assumed by Wace and Collins [London businessmen who supported the Kinks early on]. Then, having fulfilled its end of a three-single contract with the Kinks, the company could release the band from the label.

 

 
That should go down in history as shocking executive myopia to rival the famous Decca honcho who passed on the Beatles.

Here are the Kinks performing the song on Shindig in 1965.
 

 
Dave Daives new solo album Rippin’ Up Time is due out in October.

Previously on Dangerous Minds
Kink think: Luscious fashion ads from 1966 starring Dave Davies—and Terylene, the wonder fabric
Was the Kinks’ ‘Dead End Street’ promo film the world’s first concept music video?
The Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me’: Kinky Barbie version

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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They’re only movies: Moral panic, censorship & ‘video nasties’

Infamous Poster for the even more infamous
 
There are few things more offensive than the act of a group of holier-than-thou types trying to inflict their intensely rigid and often, properly uninformed, viewpoints on the masses. Every decade has some rich examples of this type of restrictive behavior, but the 1980’s were an especially fertile hotbed of moral majority types. In the United States, we had Tipper Gore and the PMRC attacking the music industry. In the United Kingdom, they had Mary Whitehouse and the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) and their attack on the “video nasties,” a list of horror films that were targeted for being especially violent and lurid enough to the extent of being socially harmful. The tight girdle-brigade of Tipper and Mary Whitehouse would have surely gotten along like gangbusters, but the latter’s actions, along with key members of British Parliament can still be felt to this day.

There have been a number of books and articles written about the “video nasties” and even an episode of The Young Ones using them as a key plot device. (Complete with The Damned playing “Nasty” no less!) So it was high time for someone to come along and make a documentary about this movement and thanks to director Jake West and Severin Films, we have all that and more.

Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide is one of the most aptly named sets to have come out in the past five years. Disc One features West’s documentary, Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Video Tape. Originally released in 2010, West manages to fit in an amazing amount of commentary and information in its 72 minutes. There is a perfect mix of film writers, academics, filmmakers and former political and law enforcement members interviewed here, painting a thorough picture of a weird and sad time for film in the UK.
 

 
Director West, who also made the incredible and underrated Razor Blade Smile (1998), integrates a punk type energy and fun with the gravity of the subject matter. The film delves into the fact that, like any situation where censorship is put into action, the issue is far deeper than the works being targeted themselves. Elements like social unrest in a land riddled with high unemployment and the bloody specter of the Falkland Wars, not to mention the inherent classist attitudes of Whitehouse and her crew, are just some of the points bubbling under the surface of “obscene” movies. Censorship, in all of its ugly forms, is rarely about the actual contents themselves and more about assorted underlying problems that run way deeper than a movie with blood and breasts mixed in.

While there are a number of standouts interviewed here, including Stephen Thrower (Nightmare USA), Kim Newman, Dr. Beth Johnson and The Dark Side editor Allan Bryce, it is Professor Martin Barker who is the real star and moral core of the film. Barker, initially studying the horror comics uproar in the 1950’s (a censorship-fueled movement that was paralleled here in the United States around that time period) but soon noticed some striking similarities between the then burgeoning video nasties scare and what happened in the fifties. It was from there that he became one of the few but key voices to speak up critically against Whitehouse and her cronies, which included members of Scotland Yard and Parliament. (Not to mention some moral support from Prime Minister Thatcher herself.) There’s one clip shown of Barker on a chat show where an intensely rude Cardinal interrupts him to ask if he would show a one of “those” films to a little kid, to which Barker replies without a beat, “What a silly question!”
 

 
The films themselves, while briefly shown in clips and named in the documentary, get more of an in-depth analysis on discs two and three. Disc two features original trailers and commentary on the 39 films that were successfully prosecuted. Some of the titles on this list include Abel Ferrara’s second feature film Driller Killer, Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust, Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left, the bonkers Island of Death and Roger Ebert’s favorite, I Spit on Your Grave.

Disc three features the same great commentary/trailer combination, with the focus being on the 39 films that were initially banned but were later on acquitted and removed from the list. Some of those titles include Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, the ultra-obscure Elke Sommer film I Miss You Hugs & Kisses, Matt Cimber’s unhinged psychedelia The Witch Who Came From the Sea and Andrzej Zulawski’s art-house, psychological horror film Possession.
 
Gruesome Art for
 
The trailers alone are pretty fantastic but the commentary is very much the icing on the cake, including some particularly great insights from the aforementioned personalities, as well as writers like Brad Stevens (Abel Ferrara: The Moral Vision) and academics like Professor Patricia MacCormack. The quality of commentary can make or break a set like this but West did a bang up job selecting a group of people that are not just highly educated and experienced, but also quite fun to listen to. Anyone that is working on a film-related documentary in the future need to study this set and see how should it be done. There are few things more soul-crushing than seeing dry-as-ashes commentary on something as vibrant and fluid as art. In fact, if you’re a film lover by any definition, then do yourself a favor and pick up this set. 
 
Poster Art for
 
The vital importance of a set like this is summed up beautifully at the end of the documentary by Martin Barker himself:

“The most interesting thing is just how little historical memory we have. The next time there’s a panic we won’t remember just how stupid the last one was and how people get away with things. And that to me is the most important lesson about this campaign. The evangelical got away with murder. They got away with fraud. They got away with deceiving people. They now laugh it off. The fact that almost all of these films are now available uncut in the public domain, they don’t care. Because they move on, because what they want to do is to dominate the present and they don’t care about history. Critical voices have to care about history. We have to care about the way which things got controlled in the past, because that’s when the damage gets done. If you don’t keep that historical memory, we will allow them to do it again next time.”

 

Posted by Heather Drain | Discussion
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Ten famous comic strip artists draw their characters blindfolded

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How many times have you heard someone boast, “That’s so easy, I could do it blindfolded”? Well, that was the very task set by Life magazine in 1947 to ten well-known comic strip artists, who were asked to draw their instantly recognizable cartoon characters blindfolded.

As comic strip artists create their characters with a few well chosen marks of pen on paper, it was believed these artists, having drawn hundreds of cartoon strips, should be able to draw their creations instinctively, without looking—just as most can tie shoelaces or touch type unsighted.

However, the results fell far below the magazine’s expectations—veering between the bad untutored scribble to almost miniature works of modern art. For example Mel Graff’s blindfolded drawing of Secret Agent X-9 looks Cubist with a cigarette being smoked thru the hero’s ear; while Frank Robbins’ Brandy looks decidedly unhappy with her results; and Frank King’s Skeezix from “Gasoline Alley” is reminiscent of those portraits drawn under LSD.
 
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Via A Hole in the Head, H/T Bored Panda
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Out with the Outcasts: Meet the biker gang from ‘Alan Partridge’ country
09.17.2014
09:40 am

Topics:
History

Tags:
gangs
Outcasts
bikers

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Bobby is a biker with the Outcasts—a motorcycle club based in Norfolk, England. Bobby has three kids, and his daughter thinks he’s a Hell’s Angel. But the Outcasts are a small club, an average of 33 members—small enough for the members to know each other, to help each other out. Bobby thinks it’s a good club. “We do our own thing,” he’ll tell you.

That’s what the Outcasts are about—it’s about biking. We just live how we want to live—regardless of government or police. We just do what we want to do.

Norfolk is now better known as Alan Partridge country—“A-ha!”, where Stephen Fry surfs the web and counts his millions. For Bobby and the other members of the Outcasts in the 1980s, Norfolk was their patch, their turf, that they ran and protected from other gangs.
 
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Once, the Outcasts liked to ride into town and cause a bit of mayhem. Now they just live a quiet life and have a bit of fun. Other biker clubs want to wipe them out, but the Outcasts want to be left alone, and Bobby would prefer it if all the biker clubs partied with each other, instead of cutting each other up.
 
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The Outcasts make their money from odd jobs or collecting social security checks. It’s 1985, the middle of Margaret Thatcher’s reign as Prime Minister and there’s not much work to be found.

Bobby’s mom might not like the way he lives, but she knows he will always be there for her, she says:

All young men like bikes, but they mostly grow out of it. It’s running around with knives and all these medals that I don’t like.

Bobby bought his first bike after his father died. He inherited some money, and his mom thought it better he buy a bike rather than steal one. But then Bobby just drifted into the Outcast life.
 
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Made in 1985, this fascinating portrait of the Outcasts motorcycle club is a must-see documentary. Though at times it edges towards Spinal Tap territory, the film is a beautiful crafted and vivid portrait of a group of young men seeking purpose and fulfillment in their lives.
 

 
H/T Voices of East Anglia

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Own Peter Fonda’s chopper from ‘Easy Rider’


What the hell is wrong with FREEDOM, man, that’s what it’s all about!

The US flag-festooned motorcycle Peter Fonda rode as “Captain America” in the landmark 1969 film Easy Rider is going up for auction next month. Via seattlepi.com:

The customized Captain America chopper Peter Fonda rode in “Easy Rider” has come to symbolize the counterculture of the 1960s. Now it’s for sale.

The auction house Profiles in History told The Associated Press that it estimates the Harley-Davidson will bring $1 million to $1.2 million at its Oct. 18 sale being held online and at its galleries in Calabasas, California.

The seller is Michael Eisenberg, a California businessman who once co-owned a Los Angeles motorcycle-themed restaurant with Fonda and “Easy Rider” co-star Dennis Hopper. Eisenberg bought it last year from Dan Haggerty, perhaps best known for his roles in the “Grizzly Adams” TV show and movies, who was in charge of keeping the custom-designed bike humming during the 1969 movie’s filming.

Four motorcycles were created for the movie, but only one is known to have survived. It was used in the climactic crash scene in which Fonda is thrown off the bike.

After the film was finished, Hopper told Haggerty to keep it. Haggerty rode it often, an experience he likened to “going out with Marilyn Monroe.” Parting with it was like having a “child finally getting married and moving away and starting a new life on their own.”

 

 
The film, of course, remains a must-see even today, as its themes of seeking fulfillment outside the system, the death of idealism, and the paradoxes of freedom resonate well beyond the social context of the late ‘60s, and its soundtrack is packed with classic songs.

Now its central symbol can be a trinket for some extravagantly overpaid fund manager dickweed with seven figures to burn on an adolescent fantasy. AMERICA FUCK YEAH!
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
The Electric Cinema Acid Test: the trippiest movies ever made
A slightly bombed Dennis Hopper bemoans the fate of his feature ‘The Last Movie’

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Evocative 9/11 photo by Toby Amies
09.11.2014
07:15 am

Topics:
History

Tags:
911
Toby Amies


Photo used with permission by ©Toby Amies
 
A statement from the photographer:

To say anything about my personal experience of September 11, 2001 feels insignificant in the shadow of the death and suffering that happened on that day and all the slaughter and pain that came after it. How anyone can think of war as holy, before 9/11, but especially after it, stretches my understanding and empathy past breaking point.

That said, here’s how I came to take the photograph.

It’s particularly fucked up that it started as a beautiful day, light and crisp, an Indian summer, with a tiny threat of winter in it. I left my studio on South 8th St. in Brooklyn to go to the bank without looking behind me, but as I came back to it via Berry St. I saw my neighbours standing in the road. They were frozen, just staring down towards Manhattan, towards something terrible and yet too far away to connect directly with. None of us could make immediate sense of what was happening on the other side of the East River. Automatically I took some pictures with the camera that I had originally taken out with me because of the excellent light.

It seems wrong now that I could take the time to frame that shot carefully, but the distance somehow “muted” the apocalypse taking place in Manhattan. Though soon common sense overruled my photographer’s tunnel vision and I realised that something very very bad was happening. Not something to photograph but to fear. Dread and panic took over and I ran upstairs to my girlfriend who was in the apartment [at the top of the red building in the photo] and we clung to each other as the towers crumbled. When they fell, the horror crossed the water and came right into us.

My brain’s too tiny to process and make complete sense of it even now, except to know that it was the opposite of holy. An obscenity in bright sunshine.

Toby Amies is the director of The Man Whose Mind Exploded available now on VOD.

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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An X-rated doodle from the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci
09.10.2014
09:00 am

Topics:
Art
History
Queer
Sex

Tags:
Leonardo Da Vinci


 
Well, well, a pornographic doodle buried in the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci. Here’s a description (emphasis added):
 

Casual reminder that in one of Leonardo da Vinci’s many notebooks containing innumerable artistic and scientific sketches and notes of incomprehensible important, there is a sketch of two penises with legs and tails walking towards a crudely drawn anus. The sketch was most likely done by Leonardo’s apprentice Salai, who was not only very likely one of Leonardo’s lovers, but who was also infamously mischievous. Better yet, the anus is literally labeled “Salai.” So either Salai drew these while Leonardo wasn’t looking just to annoy his boyfriend, or Leonardo himself put actual time and energy into drawing these. Either way, the human race is truly blessed to have made such a discovery. There are dick drawings like the ones you see on desks in school in Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks. Please cherish this information.

 
For some background on Leonardo’s sexuality in general and his relationship with Salai in particular, there are few better sources than Ross King’s Leonardo and the Last Supper:
 

According to Lomazzo’s account, Leonardo’s passion for the beautiful Salai therefore reached its peak at about the time work began on The Last Supper in Santa Maria delle Grazie.

In the fifteenth century, Florentines were so well-known for homosexuality that the German word for sodomite was Florenzer. By 1415 the sexual behavior of young Florentine men had caused the city fathers such concern that “desiring to eliminate a worse evil by means of a lesser one” they licensed two more public brothels to go with the one they had opened with similar aspirations a dozen years earlier. When these establishments failed to produce the desired results, and still “desiring to extirpate that vice of Sodom and Gomorrah, so contrary to nature,” the city fathers took further action. In 1432, a special authority, the Ufficiali di Notte e Conservatori dei Monasteri, or Officers of the Night and Preservers of Morality in the Monasteries, was formed to catch and prosecute sodomites. Over the next seven decades, more than ten thousand men were apprehended by this night watch.

-snip-

According to Vasari, Salai was “a very attractive youth of unusual grace and looks, with very beautiful hair which he wore curled in ringlets and which delighted his master.” Giacomo seems to have served as a model for Leonardo. No definitive image of him exists, but art historians refer to a distinctive face that appears repeatedly in his drawings—that of a beautiful youth with a Greek nose, a mass of curls and a dreamy pout—as a “Salai-type profile.”

-snip-

Leonardo was almost certainly homosexual by the standards of later centuries. Freud was no doubt correct when he stated that it was doubtful whether Leonardo ever embraced a woman in passion. Two years after the Saltarelli affair, Leonardo wrote a partially legible declaration in his notebook: “Fioravante di Domenico at Florence is my most beloved friend, as though he were my….” A nineteenth-century editor of Leonardo’s writings hopefully filled in “brother,” but the relationship may well have been more intimate.

 

Here’s a brief video of King discussing Leonardo’s homosexuality:
 

 
via Tumbling down tumbling down…; quoted text seems to have originated here
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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The Beatles play for 18 people in Aldershot, 1961
09.08.2014
01:27 pm

Topics:
Amusing
History
Music

Tags:
The Beatles
Aldershot


 
Photos of the 18 damned lucky buggers who got to see The Beatles play at the Palais Ballroom, Aldershot, on December 9th, 1961. The Beatles’ then agent, Sam Leach, effed-up and didn’t advertise the show properly—hence the lousy turnout of less than two dozen people in attendance. Sam Leach was replaced by Brian Epstein as their manager after the Aldershot disaster.

However, according to Beatles’ Source, Sam Leach didn’t screw up, but, “The local newspaper, Aldershot News, neglected to feature Sam Leach’s advertisement for the show.” If this is to be believed, you really can’t blame Leach.

Truth be told, they all look like they’re having a good time regardless of the poor turnout.


 

 

 

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Kraftwerk’s 1975 BBC TV appearance: ‘The germinating moment for British dance music’
09.05.2014
08:11 am

Topics:
History
Music
Television

Tags:
Kraftwerk
BBC TV


 
The BBC science and technology show Tomorrow’s World ran for almost 40 years (and was affectionately parodied in Look Around You), but the bit of that show that concerns us here was just a hair longer than two minutes. It was a short glimpse at the seminal German band Kraftwerk, performing their song “Autobahn” in 1975, just before their ten year run of LPs from Radio-Activity through Electric Café completely changed the face of popular music, inspiring electronic dance/techno, hip-hop, and pretty much every form of post-punk rock music that used a synthesizer, making their classic lineup arguably as influential as Elvis. If only the BBC had known what was to come, they might have been persuaded to show more than just two minutes of the 22-minute song.
 

 
A few years ago, The Guardian made a rather bold claim about the snippet of footage, placing Kraftwerk’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it segment at NUMBER 1 in their series of 50 key events in the history of dance music! I actually find that assertion entirely plausible.

The germinating moment for British dance music occurred, strangely, in a 1975 edition of Tomorrow’s World, which featured four young Germans dressed like geography teachers, apparently playing camping stoves with wired-up knitting needles. This was Kraftwerk performing “Autobahn.”

“The sounds are created in their studio in Dusseldorf,” presenter Raymond Baxter explained, “then reprogrammed and then recreated onstage with the minimum of fuss.” Here was the entire electronic ethic in one TV clip: the rejection of rock’s fake spontaneity, the fastidious attention to detail, the Europhile slickness, the devotion to rhythm. It was sublime.

When Kraftwerk toured Britain later in 1975, David Bowie’s patronage ensured a long line of followers from OMD to Underworld. Not that everything they planned came to fruition. “Next year, Kraftwerk hope to eliminate the keyboard altogether,” Baxter told us, “and create jackets with electronic lapels that can be played by touch”. It could still happen.

 

 
Bonus! Enjoy this clip of Kraftwerk’s robot doubles, also on Tomorrow’s World, but from 1991.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Kraftwerk songs performed by string quartet
Kraftwerk sings ‘Pocket Calculator’ in Italian… and several other languages
‘Ralf and Florian’: the Kraftwerk sitcom
Newly unearthed footage of Kraftwerk—with long hair and leather jackets! Live 1970

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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