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‘The Jungle’: Philadelphia’s mean streets

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Directed, written and acted by teenagers Charlie Davis, David Williams and Jimmy Robinson, 1967’s The Jungle chronicles the exploits of Philadelphia’s 12th and Oxford street gang. It is amateur film making that transcends its limitations and achieves a certain rough artfulness.

With its starkly poetic black and white cinematography, urban rhythm and streetwise jargon The Jungle recalls Shirley Clarke’s The Cool World and the Beat-era improvs of Cassavetes’ Shadows. The fact that theThe Jungle holds its own against some of the periods more legendary indie films makes it somewhat disappointing that none of the people involved with the production of the film went on to make more movies.

There’s little info on the internet regarding The Jungle, but the I found the following comment from Youtube compelling:

This film (The Jungle) was shown along with slide shows of dead teens on slabs in the 70’s in schools around Philly to try to stop the gang violence at that time. In the early ‘70s, Philly led the nation in gang-related deaths at around 40 a year.

Death Row inmate, Philly gang member and writer Reginald S. Lewis recalls the Oxford Street gangs:

I saw the 70’s usher in the era of blackploitation flicks such as Superfly, The Mack, Come Back, Charleston Blue, and even slickly packaged Hollywood gangster movies like The Godfather. This was also an era that bred hustlers-turned-authors IceBerg Slim and Donald Goines, and some of the most ruthless true-life gangsters this country has ever seen.

In my hometown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, vicious black street gangs seemingly ruled every inch of the black community, and it was a dangerous time to be a young black teenager living in the treacherous terrain of the urban wilds. My parents did all they could to keep my two older brothers and me from being drafted into the notorious “12th & Oxford Street Gang,” one of the largest, fiercest black youth gangs in the history of Philadelphia.

The Oxford Street gang had well over 500 members, divided into gradations and ranks, according to age. There were the “Pee Wees,” “The Midgets,” “The Juniors,” and “The Seniors,” and “The Old Heads.” There was also 8th & Oxford, 15 & Oxford, and “Uptown Oxford Street,” which was 20th Street, and beyond. These divisions boosted the ranks into thousands.”

Teenage wasteland, Philly-style.
 

 
Part two of The Jungle after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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‘Rockin’ And Rollin’: 45 r.p.m. record from Hell

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Darryl W. Bullock at The World’s Worst Records has uploaded this little nugget by W.L. Horning. A bizarre bit of rock and roll to say the least. Released on Denver, Colorado label Spin Out Records. Is this Wesley Willis’s long lost uncle?

As a little pre-Christmas favour I present to you today what has to be one of the single most peculiar recordings I have ever come across, W L Horning’s performance of his own composition Rockin and Rollin.

It’s insane; there’s no other word for it. And no, that’s not a skip you can hear on the record or a bad edit - it actually sounds like that. Basically what you have here is the backing track to Wesley’s earlier composition ‘Kiss Me, Kiss Me Baby’ sped up and played over three or four times with Wes singing the words to his latest ‘hit’ over the top. ‘Kiss Me, Kiss Me Baby’ only lasts for a little over a minute at its normal speed, which is why in this crazed, hyperventilating version Wes is forced to skip the needle back to the beginning of the track time and time again.

The man is either nuts or brilliantly inventive - I know which description I prefer.”

Rockin’ And Rollin’:

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Suicide’s Alan Vega discusses songwriting, art and life

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Suicide’s Alan Vega interviewed for Tony Oursler’s Synesthesia Project.

The Synesthesia Project was a series of filmed interviews shot between 1997 and 2001 by artist Tony Oursler. Among the musicians featured were John Cage, Thurston Moore, Lydia Lunch and David Byrne.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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The Ramones and Dead Boys: ‘Punking Out’ 1977

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These clips of The Ramones and The Dead Boys at CBGB in 1977 capture the birth of punk in all of its raw glory. Taken from the film Punking Out directed by Maggi Carson and Ric Shore, this is the scene as I remember it: unpretentious, fun, full of energy and kind of goofy.

Punking Out is a terrific time capsule of a time and place and really should be more widely seen. You can order a DVD copy at the film’s website.  The site hasn’t been updated in a few years, but the ‘shopping cart’ appears to still be functioning.

Dee Dee’s glue rant is hilarious.
 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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‘Nothing, a rude word”: 34 years ago today, the Sex Pistols became an overnight sensation
12.01.2010
04:59 pm

Topics:
Heroes
History
Music

Tags:
Sex Pistols
Dorian Cope

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Via Dorian Cope’s always interesting On This Deity website, we find that today is the thirty-fourth anniversary of the Sex Pistols expletive-filled appearance on the Today program, December 1, 1976:

Today we recall the bizarre events of thirty-four years ago, in which television presenter Bill Grundy – clearly ill-prepared for the motley posse sat before him, and possibly himself quite drunk – half-wittedly and quite inadvertently handed to the already notorious Sex Pistols the kind of extraordinary media opportunity that was beyond even the wildest dreams of their Machiavellian manager, Malcolm McLaren. Goading the Pistols mercilessly and without good reason, Grundy then appeared genuinely shocked when the lawless (and law-breaking) Steve Jones – resplendent in Vivienne Westwood’s highly inappropriate ‘tits’ t-shirt – unleashed such a barrage of ‘fucks’ and ‘fuckers’ that this merely regional early evening TV news programme catapulted the Sex Pistols onto the national stage. Nobody outside London even saw it. What did they actually say? Overnight, the Sex Pistols legend grew enormous.

Within months, Grundy would be relegated to presenting a book programme on the radio; while the Today programme was cancelled soon after. With hindsight, it’s easy to say that the Sex Pistols were opportunists. But what an opportunity it was that the fool Bill Grundy had handed them. Indeed, we may now even feel pity for this hapless, smarmy half-cut oaf whose destiny it was to be cut down brutally by the fearless and flashing curses of Steve “Never Mind the Bollocks” Jones.

The clip below was put together from various sources. You always see a snippet of this appearance in every single documentary about punk, but never the full thing seen on British television that fateful day. Note future Banshees, Steven Severin and a white-tressed (and flirty) Siouxsie Sioux onstage with the group.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘The Hippie Temptation’ exposes the shocking truth of youth run wild!!
11.30.2010
11:38 pm

Topics:
Drugs
History
Hysteria

Tags:
The Hippie Temptation

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“My mom thinks that where I’m living down here the Hippies are a bunch of dirty, filthy, infectious people. This is my bag and I found my place here and I scream and I holler and I’m happy.”

CBS TV documentary from 1967 exposes the shocking truth about America’s drug-addled youth. Prepare yourself for a terrifying descent into an LSD hellhole. 50 minutes of pure hedonism with Harry Reasoner.
 

 
More hippie filth after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Deconstructing ‘Helter Skelter’: Hear the individual tracks of the Beatles in the studio, 1968
11.30.2010
12:16 pm

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:
The Beatles
Helter Skelter

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Since the post about the individual tracks that comprise the Rolling Stones’ classic “Gimme Shelter” went over so well, here’s another in a similar vein, a track by track breakdown of “Helter Skelter” by the Beatles. 

This is probably as close as it is possible to be in the recording studio with the Beatles during the White Album sessions in 1968. Record producer Chris Thomas, then a “tea boy”/intern at EMI later said of this session:  “While Paul was doing his vocal, George Harrison had set fire to an ashtray and was running around the studio with it above his head, doing an “Arthur Brown.”

If you’re really bored you can open them all up in different windows and try to sync ‘em up…

First McCartney’s frenzied vocal. Superb! How do you improve on something like this? You don’t because It’s fucking perfection. “It’s coming down fast….!”
 

 
After the jump, hear the guitar, bass and drum tracks!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Richard Allen’s Skinhead chronicles: Oi!
11.27.2010
12:18 am

Topics:
History
Music
Punk

Tags:
Skinhead
Richard Allen

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AGGRO - That’s what Joe Hawkins and his mates were looking for, with their shaven heads, big boots and braces. Football matches, pub brawls, open-air pop concerts, hippies and Hell’s Angels all gave them chances to vent their sadistic violence. SKINHEAD is a story straight from today’s headlines - portraying with horrifying vividness all the terror and brutality that has become the trademark of these vicious teenage malcontents.

Richard Allen was a Canadian-born writer who could churn out pulp novels as regular as drunks take beer shits. In the early 1970’s, he got a gig writing novels about skinheads for New English Library. He eventually spewed out 17 of em. His first novel ‘Skinhead’ struck a chord with British skinheads and his teenage gangster novels became hugely popular. His stories of the biker, mod, teddy boy and Oi! culture of 70’s Britain became an essential, yet darker and less fashionable, part of London’s punk culture. While The Sex Pistols and The Clash were ultimately a bunch of hippie idealists, the skinhead scene was working and non-working class anger tied to racial resentment and a sense of destiny lost. The Two-Tone bands entered the scene and built a bridge between the cerebral revolution of the punkers and the racial paranoia of the skins. The baldies racist inclinations were defused by their love of reggae, ska, and rock steady. Skinhead moonstomp.

Update: Paul Gallagher reports that “in the 60s and 70s skinheads were black and white - though the movement was hijacked by some members of the National Front (extreme right Nazi organization).  Trouble with Allen’s books was their painting skins in a sometimes negative light. Ska and Two Tone records reclaimed skinheads in the late 70s through The Specials and Madness, etc.”

Check out this solid documentary on Richard Allen and the legions of kids for whom he was the voice of their disenfranchisement and anger anguish. 
 

 
Parts 2 - 7 after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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New release from Tom Waits & The Preservation Hall Jazz Band
11.26.2010
03:00 pm

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:
Tom Waits
Preservation Hall Jazz Band

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Tom Waits has teamed up with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to record two tracks for a special fundraiser. Released November 19th, Preservation Hall Recordings pressed up a 504 piece limited edition, hand-numbered 78 rpm vinyl record, with a special edition that also includes a 78 rpm record player. Proceeds will benefit the Preservation Hall Junior Jazz & Heritage Brass Band and outreach program:

Mr. Waits traveled to New Orleans in 2009 to record two songs with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for the critically acclaimed project Preservation: An album to benefit Preservation Hall and the Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program, “Tootie Ma Was A Big Fine Thing” , and “Corrine Died On The Battlefield”. Originally recorded by Danny Barker in 1947, these two selections are the earliest known recorded examples of Mardi Gras Indian chants.

The two tracks will now be packaged in a special limited edition 78 rpm format record, each signed and numbered by Preservation Hall Creative Director Ben Jaffe. The first one hundred records will be accompanied by a custom-made Preservation Hall 78rpm record player as part of a Deluxe Donation package. The remaining four hundred and four will be available as a standalone record for the Basic Donation package.

This special limited edition recording will be made available in two different tiers, based on the level of donation: Deluxe Donation Tier: $200 – Limited Edition 78rpm record featuring Tom Waits & The Preservation Hall Jazz Band AND a custom-made Preservation Hall 78 record players – and Basic Donation Tier: $50 – Limited Edition 78rpm record featuring Tom Waits & The Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

The items can be ordered here.
 
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Via The End of Being

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Fela Kuti: Music is the Weapon
11.26.2010
09:55 am

Topics:
History
Music
Politics

Tags:
Fela Kuti
Music is the Weapon

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It didn’t take long after his death in 1997 for the indomitable spirt of Fela Kuti, Afrobeat legend, political revolutionary, musician, composer and performer, to rise again. His singular musical cross-pollination of African drumming, Bitches Brew-influenced jazz rock and James Brown-influenced guitar funk has gained cultural currency in the past decade far beyond what he achieved in his lifetime.

The wildly popular Broadway musical about him, Fela! (directed and choreographed by the great Bill T. Jones, and financed in part by Jay-Z, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith) has been nominated for 11 Tony Awards and was recently visited by First Lady Michelle Obama. The upcoming Beyonce Knowles album is said to be heavily influenced by Kuti’s Afrobeat sound.

Below, a fascinating documentary on Fela Kuti titled Music is the Weapon. This intimate 1982 film was directed by Stéphane Tchal-Gadjieff & Jean Jacques Flori.
 

 
Via Pathway to Unknown Worlds

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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