This surprisingly good documentary includes interviews with people who know what they’re talking about. Unexploitive and free of the usual finger wagging.
“One of them (The Sex Pistols) had to be a casualty to make the myth work, and Sid was only too willing to do it.” Steve Severin (Siouxsie And The Banshees).
Sid’s short and controversial life with The Sex Pistols and Nancy Spungen is profiled with new interviews from Jah Wobble, Steve Severin, Vivienne Westwood, Malcolm McClaren, Dave Vanian, Rat Scabies, Marco Pironi, Viv Albertine, and many others who actually knew Sid.
Seeing a very fucked-up Sid performing onstage at Max’s with Jerry Nolan and his band The Idols (Jerry was a friend of mine and another dope casualty) was one of the saddest spectacles I’ve ever had the displeasure of witnessing. A train wreck in slooooow motion.
The last few gigs that Sid played at Max’s before his death (and Nancy’s) had become freak shows drawing crowds of curious bridge and tunnel punks to watch the ex-Pistol crash and burn right in front of their eyes. Something to share with your grandchildren as you tug your beard and run your fingers through your thinning gray Mohawk.
So, dear readers, this is one of the things I do when I am not busy scribbling and posting here on DM - I am part of a Joy Division tribute act called Joyce D’Vision. As the name would suggest, it’s not just any run-of-the-mill tribute act - it’s a drag queen tribute, fusing those two quintessentially Northern English traits of woe-is-me miserableism and end-of-the-pier transvestitism.
Before you ask, no, I am not Joyce D’Vision herself, but rather Noel Order, keyboard whizz extraordinaire and Bontempi aficionado. Joyce is played by the very talented Joe Spencer, and we are often joined on stage by other queens such as Sheela Blige, Kurt Dirt and Sahara Dolce. Joyce has been lucky enough to share the stage with British queer performance legends like David Hoyle (The Divine David) and Scottee Scottee (Eat Your Heart Out), but those were just warm-ups for what happened last week…
A few months ago Joe took part in a reality competition show May The Best House Win, where Joyce and friends had a cameo near the end. The program was finally broadcast last Tuesday, and seen by the comedian Harry Hill, himself a fan of Joy Division. Harry hosts a show called TV Burp, which looks over the best bits of the last week’s telly, and he invited Joyce and her friends to London to sing live on the show. Joyce performed as the final segment on the final show of the series, which was broadcast right before X Factor. Meaning that this went out on a Saturday evening, just after dinner time when everyone’s getting ready to watch the biggest show of the week. Seriously - that’s prime fucking time.
The reaction since (mostly gauged through Twitter) has been interesting - some people really get it, while others have stated that Ian Curtis would be rolling in his grave. I like to think Curtis would have seen the funny side, as would Tony Wilson I’m sure, and we have heard through the grapevine that there are even Joyce fans in the New Order camp.
Joyce D’Vision is not done out of hatred of the band or the man, but rather from love - and a simple desire to deflate the pomposity that surrounds JD and their legend, as perpetuated by magazines like NME and high street stores like Primark (currently selling an Ian Curtis t-shirt). So while the idea (and sight) of a fat, bearded man in a wig singing a boss nova version of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” is definitely going to rub some people up the wrong way, I’m pretty sure our readers here at DM can handle it:
So take a moment to remember all the gender variant people who have been killed in the past 12 months just for being who they are: Idania Roberta Sevilla Raudales, Luisa Alvarado Hernandez, Lady Oscar Martinez Salgado, Reana ‘Cheo’ Bustamente, Genesis Briget Makaligton, Krissy Bates (pictured), Alice Ferg, Tyra Trent, Priscila Brandao, Marcal Camero Tye, Shakra Harahap, Miss Nate Nate Daivs, Lashal Mclean, Didem, Camila Guzman, Gaby, Gaurav Gopalan, Ramazan Cetin, Shelley Hillard, Jesica Rollon, Astrid Carolina Lopez Cruz, Chassity Nathan Vickers, and the countless more un-named or unidentified murder victims (from the Transgender DOR website).
In their memory, and for all the gender variant people putting up with close-minded shit every single day, here’s Jayne County performing “Are You Man Enough To Be A Woman?” from the Japanese documentary New York Underground:
In memory of the late great Paradise Garage dj here’s a mystery set that has turned up on Soundcloud and is credited to Levan from the early 80s. Uploader R_co hasn’t been able to locate a playlist, but he has found a list of (nearly) every song played during his run as resident at the Garage - that’s quite a lot of music if you care to have a look. The mixing on this set is a bit hit and miss, but the crowd audibly loves it and the drop into Loose Joints’ “Is It All Over My Face” (from an excellent mystery track) at around 6 minutes in is heavenly:
Of course, Levan was more than just a dj - he was a remixer of no small talent, and some of his remixes are guaranteed dance floor fillers more than 30 years after their release (such as the previously mentioned Loose Joints track, one of my desert island discs). As a special bonus, here’s Levan’s first ever remix, which he mixed as a try-out for the Sesame Street disco album project, and which remained unreleased for almost 30 years:
Cookie Monster & The Girls “C Is For Cookie (Larry Levan Special Version Funky Disco Mix)”:
Thanks to Tara McGinley
After the jump more of Larry Levan’s best remixes, including the Joubert Singers, Grace Jones, Gwen Guthrie and more…
The legendary disc jockey, TV presenter and charity fund-raiser, Sir Jimmy Savile has died at the age of 84, at his home in Leeds, England.
Savile who was a major star of British TV and radio, was best known as host of Top of the Pops from the 1960s-2006, and his own highly successful show Jim’ll Fix It, where Savile fixed it for selected viewers to have their dreams come true. At its height the show received over 20,000 letters a week, asking to have their dreams fulfilled.
Savile with his distinct blonde hair, clunky jewelry, track suit and trademark cigar, was a genuine maverick and one-off. Born on 31 October 1926, Savile was widely acknowledged as the world’s first disc jockey, pioneering the use of twin-turntables, and continuous play “discos” during the 1940s and 1950s.
He was a Bevin Boy during the Second World War, conscripted as a coal miner, Savile worked down the pit at the South Kirkby Colliery, West Yorkshire. After the war he continued deejaying, and also took up a career as a wrestler, which, at one point, made him the highest paid wrestler in the world. He later claimed wrestling led to his breaking every bone in his body.
During the 1950s, Savile continued with music and ran several clubs throughout England, bringing rock and pop music to generations of youngsters.
By the 1960s, Savile was the most visible and best known disc jockey on radio and TV, promoting Beat, R’n’B, Motown, Northern Soul, Heavy Metal and Glam Rock over the years.
Apart from music, Savile worked tirelessly for charity, running over 200 marathons, and raising £40 million.
As mainstream radio in the UK gets steadily worse, as exposure opportunities for the genuinely interesting and different quickly disappear, and as lowest common denominator fodder like X Factor begins to limit the power of music in the popular imagination, he is missed now more than ever.
In the absence of one unifying national media platform it’s unlikely that we will ever see his like again, though I feel that through his influence, and the proliferation of music websites and blogs, we are all a bit Peelie now. Proof of the man’s legacy is that the anniversary of his passing has become an annual day of celebration, with gigs, radio shows, record fairs and even specific releases happening in his honor, every 25th of October. And this is a good thing, a very good thing.
So in memoriam, here’s a clip from a 2005 BBC program where various artists and radio djs posthumously rifle through his (typically eclectic) record box:
John Peel’s Record Box
After the jump, John Peel’s ‘Sound of the Suburbs’, Jimi Hendrix playing a Radio 1 jingle for Peel’s show in the late 60s, Peel on the assassination of JFK (which he reported on from Dallas for the Liverpool Echo), and an interview where Peel talks about the influence of punk, how its natural home is in the suburbs, and how scenes get co-opted by a jaded music press…
Scottish folk musician, Bert Jansch, one of the most influential and revered acoustic guitar players in the world, has died from cancer at the age of 67.
Jansch passed away in the early hours of October 5 at a hospice in Hampstead, north London. Though he had been ill for some time, Jansch continued to tour and perform, most recently appearing at Glastonbury earlier this year.
Born in Glasgow in 1943, Jansch was a leading figure in sixties folk music, releasing his first album, the self-titled, Bert Jansch, in 1965, which has been hailed as one of the greatest folk albums ever recorded. Jansch’s influence as a musician has streched across several musical genres and generations, from Paul Simon to Graham Coxon.
The Smiths’ guitarist Johnny Marr has said that “You hear him in Nick Drake, Pete Townshend, Donovan, The Beatles, Jimmy Page and Neil Young.”
While Neil Young called Jansch “As much of a great guitar player as Jimi Hendrix.”
Between 1967 and 1973, Jansch co-founder and guitarist with the legendary folk group Pentangle, playing alongside John Renbourn, Jacqui McShee, Danny Thompson and Terry Cox. Pentangle were known for their innovative mix of folk, rock and jazz, as seen through their seminal albums, The Pentangle, Sweet Child and Basket of Light. Their biggest hit single was “Light Flight”, which was used as the theme to the hit TV series Take Three Girls.
In 2007, Pentangle received a Life-time Achievement Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, where producer John Leonard said
“Pentangle were one of the most influential groups of the late 20th century and it would be wrong for the awards not to recognise what an impact they had on the music scene.”
Jansch continued to record, tour (supporting Neil Young in 2010) and producing solo material, which led to a major resurgence in his popularity over the past decade. His most recent album Black Swan was released in 2006, of which All Music said:
For the past ten years Jansch has been undergoing a creative renaissance akin to Bob Dylan’s and people are slowly but surely finding what he has on offer. Black Swan proves that the guitarist and songwriter has a bounty at his disposal. He is writing and recording music that is profound, funny, topical, worldly, and ultimately, necessary.