Director and Kinks fan, Julien Temple beautifully captures Ray Davies’ wistfulness in his excellent documentary on the former-Kink, Ray Davies: Imaginary Man. Davies is allowed to gently meander around his past life, talking about his childhood, his family of 7 sisters and 1 brother, his early days with The Kinks, the development of his writing skill (the quality and consistency of which now makes him seem at times better than, if not on par with Lennon & McCartney, Jagger & Richard), and onto his life of fame, of parenthood, of growing-up, all of which seemed to happen so fast.
It would seem Davies has always lived his life with one eye on the past—from the nostalgia of The Village Green Preservation Society through to his film Return to Waterloo, Davies takes solace from the past. It gives his music that beautiful, bittersweet quality, as Milan Kundera reminds us that:
The Greek word for “return” is nostos. Algos means “suffering.” So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.
But it’s not just about wanting to return to some mythical past, it’s also about loss—whether this is the loss of the past, of opportunities, of career, or, even of memory—for without memory we are nothing. Memory keeps us relevant, and all artists want to be relevant. Throughout Temple’s film, Davies makes reference to this sense of loss, from the remnants of Hornsea Town Hall, to the changing landscape of London, or the songs he has written. And put together with the brilliance of the songs, the wealth of archive, and Ray Davies’ gentle narration, Temple has created a clever, beautiful, and moving film, which leaves you wanting to know and hear more.
Sharon Tate takes Merv Griffin on a tour of swinging London’s Carnaby Street, in August 1966.
A poignant piece of TV history capturing much of the innocence, idealism, and happiness that seemed to infuse the sixties. All of which is usurped by our grim knowledge of what happened to Sharon Tate only a few years later.
‘If you’ve got to ask what a Rhythm Stick is, then it may be possible you will never know the answer,’ Ian Dury tells one interviewer over the ‘phone, in this brilliant documentary from 1979. This was the first full length documentary on Dury and it captures the legendary performer’s humor, enthusiasm and sheer joy at doing what he likes best (even if it’s touring for 16 weeks, and owing more money than he earns), which all goes to making this a great pleasure to watch.
Includes performances of “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick”, “Inbetweenies”, “Blockheads”, “Clever Trevor” and “Reasons to Be Cheerful (Part 3)”.
This short film on Member’s Only Gentlemen’s Clubs and London Club Life from 1965, may look dated and even slightly quaint, capturing a world of seedy Anthony Powell characters in run-down, thread-bare, drafty rooms, but in very real terms, little has changed.
The Old Boy’s Network of privilege and power is still very much alive, and the British Establishment is probably now stronger than it has been in decades. Look at the celebrations for the Queen’s Jubilee, or the sofa jingoism of the Olympics, or this week with the failure of the Church of England to vote in favor of Women Bishops, and now today, the appointment of Lord Tony Hall as the new Director General of the BBC.
Hall was chosen by Lord Christopher Patten, whose previous choice for DG had been the hapless “incurious” George Entwistle, the man who was forced to resign after 54 days in office. Now Patten has appointed Hall - without an interview - as the new DG.
Hall is a successful ex-BBC man, who currently runs the Royal Opera House. He may be a decent and honorable man, he may kiss dogs and pat babies, and help old age pensioners across the street, but he is a BBC man, steeped in the arcane and out-dated traditions of a Corporation that is out-of-touch with the reality of life in Britain. His appointment is rather like voting for a Mitt Romney rather than a Barack Obama, it’s a wishful return to an illusory past, rather than moving forward into the present century. Even some of the effusive praise on twitter harks back to an older time - this from broadcaster David Dimbleby:
‘A brilliant choice. It feels like being in the Royal Navy when they were told, “Winston is back!”’
It’s strange that a previous era of strife, hardship, bigotry and division should be seen as commendable. Earlier this year, the up-market Daily Telegraph (of all broadsheets) reported on the analysis of “the make-up of the Lords found that 45 per cent of peers also had a London club such as the Garrick Club, Carlton Club or White’s.”
The [analysis], published in the journal Sociology, also showed the enduring power of Eton and Oxbridge, with around one in 10 of all members of the Lords educated at the Berkshire school whose past pupils also include David Cameron and Boris Johnson.
Dr Matthew Bond, a sociologist at London South Bank University, who conducted the study, said that it showed that, despite reforms, the Lords continued to be dominated by those with “vested interests in traditional status structures”.
He said it showed that: “The persistent hold of the British establishment on the political imagination is not without reason.”
Those who went to school at Eton showed a particular propensity to join such clubs, the study found, while they were also popular among this with a background in the military, civil service and the church.
“These groups – hereditaries, males, Old Etonians, Tories and, to a lesser extent, business people – have vested interests in traditional status structures,” said Dr Bond.
“In their social characteristics they also closely mirror popular conceptions of an establishment which have featured in popular discussions of the British power structure since the 50s.
“If they do not have a monopoly over elite positions, they at least have a formidable presence.”
This “formidable presence” is what links Tony Blair’s working-class father’s move from Glaswegian Communism to middle-England Toryism, with Eton-educated David Cameron belief that elitism in education will mend Britain’s so-called “broken society.” This “formidable presence” isn’t tradition - it is the maintenance of an out-dated, misogynistic, divisive and malfunctioning Establishment.
Members Only is a fine snap shot of club life in the 1960s, which moves from gentlemen’s clubs to casinos and then onto the bohemian hang outs, such as the Colony Room (look out for the legendary Muriel Belcher) and jazz clubs, where a young Annie Ross performs.
Before coffee houses were homogenized into interchangeable Starbucks, and sucked dry of atmosphere and character, the espresso bar was a meeting place for Beats, musicians, writers, radicals and artists. Each coffeehouse had its own distinct style and clientele, and provided a much needed venue for the meeting of minds and the sharing of ambitions over 2-hour long cappuccinos.
It was the arrival in London of the first espresso machine in 1952 that started this incredibly diverse sub-culture, which became a focus for writers like Colin (Absolute Beginners) MacInness and pop stars like Tommy Steele, Billy Fury, Cliff Richard and Marty Wilde, who frequented the famous 2-i’s cafe. This beautiful, short film serves up a frothy serving of London’s cafe scene in 1959, long before Starbucks ruined it all.
The artist, writer and dandy Sebastian Horsley claimed he was an accident, the product of a split condom. His mother drank through her pregnancy, and tried to abort the unwanted child. She failed and Sebastian was born in 1962. This might explain Horsley’s difficult relationships with women in later life, preferring to use prostitutes rather than share any emotional intimacy with another.
Horsley was originally called Marcus, which he may have preferred as it was closer to his idol Marc Bolan. But after registering his name as a baby, Horsley’s mother knew she had made a mistake, and opted instead for Sebastian. It only took her 5 years to change it by deed poll.
The name Sebastian suited Horsely. It suggested the Christian martyr Saint Sebastian, who was tied to a tree and shot full of arrows for his faith. In the same way Horsely was nailed to a cross in the Philippines for his art. Or, Sebastian Flyte - Evelyn Waugh’s character from Bridehead Revisited, whose beauty and desire were numbed by addiction to alcohol. As Horsley in his way was addicted to heroin and cocaine - a mixture of which eventually killed him. Or, Sebastian Dangerfield, J. P. Donlevy’s dissolute bohemian artist of The Ginger Man.
Horsley briefly attended St. Martin’s Art College but was kicked out after only a few months.
“I don’t think by going to college you can really achieve anything whatsoever - except perhaps they teach you how to be ordinary.”
He taught himself how to be an artist, and saw painting as a way of creating a new, unspoken language. Yet, he often felt incapable of expressing this language, and destroyed many of his paintings. He died in 2010 from an accidental overdose, leaving a life that was, in many respects, his greatest work of art.
In this brief interview from 1995, Sebastian Horsley talks about his background, his view of art, and his sartorial style.
Otis Redding was a child when he started singing and playing with the Vineville Baptist Choir. He also tried out his skills playing with the school band. His obvious natural proficiency led him to enter talent competitions at the Douglass Theatre. You see, Otis was more than just prodigiously talented he was thoughtful and kind-hearted and wanted to earn money for his family. That he did and after winning the $5 top prize 15-times in a row, he was banned from the competition.
The ban led him to start out playing with his idol Little Richard’s backing band The Upsetters, and by the early 1960s, when he was performing with The Pinetoppers, it was clear Otis was a dynamic and unstoppable talent.
In 1962, after recording tracks with The PInetoppers at Stax Records, co-owner Jim Stewart allowed Otis to cut some solo material. The result was “These Arms of Mine”.
From there, Otis Redding went onto become one of the biggest stars of the 1960s, the King of Soul. In 1967, the year of his untimely death, Redding outsold that year’s combined record sales for Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, and toppled Elvis Presley from the top of the Melody Maker‘s Best Vocalist chart. It should have been the start of an even greater career when it was cut short in a plane crash December 1967.
All these years later, you can still have sunshine on a cloudy day with Otis Redding. Here he is at his best in Paris and London performing some of his best known and biggest hits “Respect”, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”, “Shake”, “My Girl”, and “Try a Little Tenderness”.
Audio of The Move playing a selection of cover versions, recorded live at the Marquee Club in London, and later released as Something Else from The Move, a 7-inch EP, in 1968. The line-up was Roy Wood (guitars, vocals), Carl Wayne (vocals), Trevor Burton (guitars, bass, vocals), Chris “Ace” Kefford (bass, vocals), and Bev Bevan (drums, vocals).
It’s a great recording which mixes old and (for the time) new songs, ranging from The Byrds’ “So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star”, Arthur Lee’s “Stephanie Knows Who”, Eddie Cochrane’s “Something Else”, Jerry Lee Lewis’ “It’ll Be Me” and Spooky Tooth’s “Sunshine Help Me”.
Alas, no genius compositions from Mr. Wood, but at least we have The Move.
01. “So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star”
02. “Stephanie Knows Who”
03. “Something Else”
04. “It’ll Be Me”
05. “Sunshine Help Me”
“It was very much an isolated incident and nothing to do with HMV or representing our views. It would appear a member of the public popped into one of our stores yesterday and stickered a handful of CDs.
“These were spotted and quickly removed, but, before we could act, the individual concerned must have taken a photo and sent it to the media. To our knowledge there are no further stickers in our stores now.”
Forty years ago this month, a strange and distant signal was picked up on radio receivers across the UK.
Amongst the hiss, and static interference, a dialog could be heard….
‘This is London, Earth. This is London, Earth. This is London, Earth. This is London, Earth.’
‘Mothership Control in readiness. Sonic Assassins cleared for Space Flight. Countdown starting now. Thirty…’
‘Countdown started. All Units prepare for activation.’
‘Production Androids activated. Now!’
‘Audience Recept Units, activated, NOW!’
‘Music Distribution Equipment. Activated. Now!’
‘10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4…’
‘All Units activated. Countdown terminated.’
‘...3, 2, 1. Countdown complete.’
‘All Units functioning. Movement commencing. We have lift-off. We have music.’
This is the audio recording of that night’s broadcast. Hawkwind live in concert from the Paris Theater, London, September 29th, 1972. Transmitted by BBC Radio 1 on October 14th.
02. “Born to Go”
03. “The Black Corridor”
04. “Seven by Seven”
06. “Electronic No. 1”
07. “Master of the Universe”
09. “Earth Calling”
10. “Silver Machine”
11. “Welcome to the Future”
Bonus Hawkwind in concert form 2005, after the jump…
Film-maker and musician, Don Letts was working as a DJ at the Roxy club in London in 1977, when he filmed most of the Punk bands that appeared there, with his Super 8 camera. Letts captured a glorious moment of musical history and its ensuing social, political and cultural revolution.
Letts decided he was going to make a film with his footage, and had sell his belongings to ensure he had enough film stock to record the bands that appeared night-after-night over a 3 month-period. Eventually, he collated all of the footage into The Punk Rock Movie, which contained performances by the Sex Pistols, The Clash, Wayne County & the Electric Chairs, Generation X, Slaughter and the Dogs, The Slits, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Eater, Subway Sect, X-Ray Spex, Alternative TV and Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers. There was also backstage footage of certain bands, and Sid Vicious’ first appearance with the Sex Pistols, at The Screen On The Green cinema, April 3rd, 1977.
As they motor off into the neon-lit night, their leader, Mad John can be heard shouting, ‘Hey, if the LSD don’t get us, then the cannabis will.’ It’s part joke, part bravado, a youthful two-fingers up to the world.
Made in 1973, this is a fascinating documentary, if at times funny through its overly sensationalist tone, on the Hells Angels Motor Cycle Club of England - ‘900ccs or over’. It follows the dozen-or-so members of the London Chapter, established in 1969, by a transatlantic decree from the Californian Hells Angels. The London Chapter is run by Mad John (who first appeared in court aged 12, and had 5 other convictions at the time this film was made), and his Sergeant-at-Arms, Karl (who considers himself a psychopath, and was once so violently assaulted his eyes were popped out from their sockets, and were replaced in cross-eyed).
We follow Mad John and Karl as they prepare to take a ride down to the coast. The film tellingly reveals John’s visit to his ex-partner who is unimpressed by the Angels and their juvenile antics. Unable or unwilling to talk to his wife or children, Mad John spends the visit collecting mail and playing with his Alsatian dog Hitler. John has an naive and unhealthy interest in Nazi’s, and towards the end of the film makes an odd analogy between Hitler’s vision for an Aryan Germany with his vision for a Universal Chapter of Hells Angels.
Inadvertent comedy comes from a Python-like interview with one of the Angels’ moms (‘He’s a nice boy, really’), and the Chapter’s failure to make it all the way down to the coast. Instead, they end up on a disused canal barge Katrina, where the Angels spend the night drinking, smoking and er…watching Doctor Who.
Covergirl are part of a new wave of politically-minded, queer/gay/femme/whatever-core bands that are popping up all over the UK (and the world, in fact) and sowing the seeds of a new, healthy, d.i.y. underground scene.
Covergirl take their musical cues in part from post-punk and post-disco, mixing up raw guitars and wailing synths with insistent, driving rhythms. Their outlook comes from Riot Grrrl, punk 7"s and zine-culture, but by way of the no-budget-yet-glamorous catwalking of RuPaul and the queens of Paris Is Burning. Their name, in fact, comes from a RuPaul song, but don’t let that fool you. The band has more in common with the ripped-up-punk-drag of RuPaul 25 years ago than it does with today’s polished TV host.
I was lucky enough to catch Covergirl live in London a few months ago (when they bizarrely asked Joyce D’Vision to open for them) and can report back that they are blinding. Now Dangerous Minds is lucky enough to get a world exclusive from the band, the premiere of their new video “Ice Father Nation”. On top of which, I sent Covergirl’s co-leader Andrew Milk some questions to get his head around for our readers:
Describe Covergirl to me in a dozen words or less:
A post-punk-party band. Serious about having fun.
What was the inspiration to form the band and when did you start?
I think we started in 2010, I guess spurred on by our other bands having recently broken up or being on hiatus at the time and wanting to do something new.
Can you tell me a bit more about Tuff Enuff, the label this is coming out on?
‘Tuff Enuff Records’ has appeared out of the Riots Not Diets collective in Brighton. Our friend Toby runs it and puts on awesome gigs/film screenings and more! ‘Ice Father Nation’ is taken from their first ever release, “Why Diet When You Can Riot”, a compilation 12”. I’m sure they have plans to release more. their website says ‘descended from Irrk’ - which is a legendary, but little known queer/feminist record label some amazing people ran in the early/mid-Noughties. Serious pedigree!
Who else is featured on the release?
Halo Halo, Ste McCabe, Skinny Girl Diet - so many amazing bands, you can check them all out on the bandcamp page.
I’ve heard a lot about Power Lunches, the venue featured in the video - can you tell me more about it?
It’s an independent venue in East London, run by a pal of ours. She’s a musician and wanted a space that worked as an affordable practice room/gig venue where you could get great and healthy food instead of the usual things you’d eat as a cash strapped musician (crisps and a Tesco sandwich.) A pretty specific dream, but what’s the point of putting the hard slog in if it’s not for something you’d really want for yourself? it’s a cafe/bar upstairs and an ‘intimate’ sweat box of a venue downstairs. Lots of bands and promoters have got behind it which is great. it’s our home away from home.
And how is the East London scene in general at the moment? How are the Olympics going down there?
The Olympics are weirdly not affecting us that much, it does feel a little quiet but i think that always happens this time of year, people stay out, drinking in parks, not putting on or going to gigs. Also i think the same amount of people left London as have come in… So if you’re not in the vicinity of the Olympic Village or whatever, it’s pretty empty. The weirdest thing is being able to see this nuclear glow covering Stratford from the balcony of my flat.
Andrew also runs the rather fine Milk Records, who have released music by Woolf, Trash Kit, Ultimate Thrush and the mighty Divorce. You can check Milk Records here, but in the meantime, here’s the video for Covergirl’s “Ice Father Nation”:
The war against advertising has recently taken an interesting turn, with 26 artists from 8 countries, traveling across the UK for 5 days, subverting billboard advertising.
Called Brandalism, or “Taking the piss with a point”, it is a clever mix of vandalism, graffiti and art, and is a direct attack on the corporate branding which has become such a blight on our landscape.
‘Following on from the guerilla art traditions of the 20th Century and taking inspiration from the Dadaists, Situationists and Street Art movements, the Brandalism project will see the largest reclamation of outdoor advertising space in UK history as artists challenge the authority and legitimacy of the advertising industry. We are tired of being shouted at by adverts on every street corner so we decided to get together with some friends from around the world and start to take them back, one billboard at a time…....’
Brandalist work includes a reworked Manchester United soccer player, Wayne Rooney lifting the rewards of looting; health warnings placed on car adverts; knife crime underlining trainer wars; campaigns against the London Olympics reclamation of land. These are powerful and thought-provoking works that engage directly with their audience, which seek “to confront the ad industry and take back our visual landscapes.” Below is a selection of some of the artists’ work taken from the Brandalism site. I say, more power to them.
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."
I'll repeat that: We're not necessarily endorsing everything you'll find here, we're merely saying "Here it is." We think human beings are very strange and often totally hilarious. We enjoy weird and inexplicable things very much. We believe things have to change and change swiftly. It's got to be about the common good or it's no good at all. We like to get suggestions of fun/serious things from our good-looking, high IQ readers. We are your favorite distraction.