Here comes the Super Brother—James Brown hitting the spot and getting mystical about education (“The only way you can live is to know. And to not to know, you can never live”) on Soul Train in 1973. He gives a slower, funkier version of “Sex Machine” (listen to that guitar) and impressive versions of “Try Me,” “Get On The Good Foot,” “Soul Power” and the excellent “Escapism.”
Film-making is about having something to say—something that can only be said in a film and not a short story, or a play, or a novel.
That’s how Woody Allen described his movies—it’s the best way for him to express and explore his ideas, his feelings, and well, because he has ‘to do something for a living.’
It was June 1979, Woody Allen was said to be hiding in Paris. His latest film Manhattan, had opened in New York to overwhelming critical acclaim. As the reviews filtered back to his hotel suite, Woody talked about the movie and film-making to Barry Norman, for the BBC’s Film ‘79.
As Allen explained to Norman, Manhattan was inspired by a dinner conversation with Diane Keaton and cinematographer, Gordon Willis, where they discussed the idea of making a film in Black & White.
‘And as we talked about it, gradually a story spun out in my mind about it. And, you know, it could be anything, it could be a sudden anger over something or, the impulse to want to dress as a pirate. You know, any one of those things could do it.’
But why Manhattan? asked Norman.
‘I live in Manhattan and wouldn’t think of living anywhere else, really,’ said Allen, before going on to explain it’s a great place to live—‘because you know you’re alive.’
A fine selection of stills from John Boorman’s neglected masterpiece Zardoz, which starred Sean Connery as Zed, an Exterminator, who escapes to the land of his rulers, the jaded Eternals (Charlotte Rampling, Sara Kestelman, John Alderton) bringing them sex and death.
I am great fan of this film, and particularly its novelization, written by Booorman and Bill Stair, which brought a small epiphany to my childhood. It would be good to see Zardoz rightfully reclaimed as a classic of the 1970’s cinema, one that reflected many of the ideas and politics of that decade, leading to a re-mastered version of Zardoz having a re-release on the film festival circuit.
Before bouncers or doormen became codified, legislated and organized into a multi-million-dollar security industry, anyone could turn-up on the door of a bar or a club, so long as they were willing to put the boot-in or take ‘a doing’ from some disgruntled patron. Back in the 1970s, everyone seemed to take turns at standing on door. My brother made a brief career of it, in velvet jacket and bow tie, before becoming an accountant.
Once, even I had my stint on the door of a club with a pal called Mike. While I was out of my depth, Mike had experience. He wore steel toe-caps, had a cycle belt wrapped around his waist, and carried a chib tucked-in his boots. I hoped my interest in modern literature and the films of Ken Russell would dissuade any would-be trouble-makers. Thankfully little happened other than escorting a few drunks off the premises. But it was an experience and I’d discovered it wasn’t my calling. Mike went on to join a chapter of the Hell’s Angels, while I went off to college.
I was reminded of my puny attempts at bouncing by this rather wonderful film report, from the late great Bernard Falk, on the training of Glasgow bouncers during the 1970s. Meet Cherokee, Dirty Harry, Big Billy, and Little Billy, who are trained to deal with troublesome customers in a gentle, polite and effective fashion, at a ‘rent-a-bouncer academy’ by black belt Judo champion, Brian Voss.
‘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)”.
When Billy Eckstine came to St. Louis, with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, Miles Davis went to see them play.
Davis was playing trumpet with Eddie Randle’s Rhumboogie Orchestra, and one day, after rehearsal, he went round to the theater to see Gillespie and Parker perform.
Davis arrived with his trumpet slung over his shoulder, dreaming of how one day he might be up there playing along with the likes of his idols Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie or Charlie Parker. Just as he reached the theater, Gillespie appeared, noted Davis’ trumpet and rushed over to the young musician.
‘You play?’ Gillespie asked.
Davis told him he did.
‘We lost our trumpeter, and we need one fast. You got a card?’
Davis nodded ‘Yes’.
‘Then you’re in.’
Davis played with Gillespie and Parker for the next 2 weeks, and this was the start of Mile Davis’ incredible career.
In 1970, Miles Davis played to a 600,000 audience at the Isle of Wight Festival. It was the largest pop festival in history. At the time, many questioned why Davis had agreed to perform at it, as man of his success and talent was middle of the bill, sandwiched between Tiny Tim and Ten Years After.
Davis had just released his double album, Bitches Brew, which proved to be a game-changing moment in Modern Jazz. The album divided critics. Some reviled it, claiming Davis had sold out, and was no longer relevant. But the audience loved it. And Bitches Brew became Davis’ biggest success, going gold within weeks.
In August 1970, Davis decided to play Bitches Brew at the Isle of Wight Festival. It was a myth-making appearance, where Davis improvised much of his performance.
That festival, and Davis’ role in it, are revisited here in Murray Lerner’s documentary Miles Electric: A Different Kind of Blue, which inter-cuts Miles’ astounding performance together with members of his band and those who knew the great man.
Drummer with the Bonzo Dog Band, “Legs” Larry Smith upstages Elton John at the Royal Command Variety Performance Show in 1972.
Not be the best picture, but still an enjoyable moment, one which was quite risky for Elton to sing a cheerful ditty about a needy teen and his manipulative approach to suicide to the rich and spoilt Royals . And yes, this is still miles better than Coldplay.
Bonus solo version of ‘I Think I’m Going To Kill Myself’, after the jump…
Here’s another little jeweled sequin to add to the collection called Seventies: A BBC news report on David Bowie, as he prepares for his last public concert at the Odeon, Hammersmith, July 4th, 1973.
This is the edited version of a longer report, which was originally filmed at the Bournemouth Winter Gardens, and aired on the current affairs show Nationwide on May 25th, 1973. It is well worth watching for the unbelievably condescending and inadvertently hilarious commentary by the BBC reporter, who describes Bowie as ‘freakish’ and narrates the whole story with a growing sense of eye-brow raised horror.
Our besuited Man from Auntie then thrusts his microphone at celebratory fans and family: Lulu, Tony Curtis and Mrs Angie Bowie (who gives the best line), demanding to know what they think they’re doing. Alas, the original interview with the man himself is absent, sadly edited out of this version, but we do see him in prep for his big night, giving it laldy onstage before being whisked-off in a limo.
Great stuff. And you can compare this version with the original feature, which is available two parts, here and here.
David Bowie having fun at the Beat Club in May 1978, dressed in what looks like a pimp’s pajama top and those kind of pants he made famous, which were later sold via adverts in the NME and The Face. I once nearly bought a pair but opted to have my ear pierced instead. As always, Bowie is more than ably supported by his superb backing band, which here includes Adrian Belew on electric guitar; George Murray on bass guitar; Carlos Alomar on rhythm guitar; Dennis Davis on drums; Simon House on violin; Sean Mayes on piano and strings; and Roger Powell on keyboards and synthesizers.
01. “Sense of Doubt”
02. “Beauty and The Beast”
05. “The Jean Genie”
07. “Alabama Song”
08. “Rebel Rebel”
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.
Incredible behind-the-scenes footage of Alfred Hitchcock directing Frenzy from 1972.
Frenzy was greatly undervalued on its initial cinematic release - considered by many as too dark, unnecessarily seedy, and not worthy of Hitchcock’s talents, but I always thought it a superbly suspenseful and complex film that captured the lonely heart at the center of our everyday world. Taken form the novel by Arthur La Bern, Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square (which is worth reading), it was Hitchcock’s last great film, and contained some exceptionally fine characterizations by Jon Finch, Barry Foster, Anna Massey, Billie Whitelaw and in particular Alec McCowen as Chief Inspector Oxford.
The sound quality is non-existent, but just enjoy the pictures.
Before 24-hour rolling news, satellite TV and the internet, CEEFAX was how most people accessed breaking news stories, sports results, weather reports, TV listings and even horoscopes.
CEEFAX was the first teletext facility in the world, enabling television viewers to ‘see facts’ on their TV screens. Launched in 1974, CEEFAX was originally developed by BBC engineers in the late 1960s, who utilized ‘the little gaps in the signal….the little bits of frequency not being used’ that came into TV sets.
This year marks the end of CEEFAX, as the popular info service will not be replaced once the analog signal is switched off in Britain, on October 24th - almost exactly 40-years since the idea was first introduced to the public in this short clip from October 1972.
There was a moment back in the late-seventies / early-eighties, when Simple Minds could do no wrong. From their debut album Life in a Day, through to New Gold Dream, 81, 82, 83, 84, they were the likely heirs (by-way-of Kraftwerk) to fill the space left by Bolan and Bowie and even the Velvets, with their mix of pop (Empires and Dance) and experimentation (Real to Real Cacophony). But by 1984 and the release of Sparkle in the Rain, the Minds were a stadium band, with their own rock sound, vying with U2 for world domination.
For me amongst the highlights of being a student in the early eighties was the thrill of listening to I Travel, Chelsea Girl and Theme For Great Cities, played loud, late at night, with friends in shared apartments and rooms, listening and talking, expectant for the life to come. It all came too soon, and sadly much of Simple Minds’ early innovation and brilliance has been too easily forgotten.
Here then is Simple Minds at Hurrah’s Club, New York City, October 1979, performing “Premonition”, “Changeling” and “Factory”.
Simple Minds - “Premonition”
Bonus - “Chelsea Girl” - Simple Minds
More from Simple Minds, plus extra tracks and early interview, after the jump…
The platform shoes to-die-for were Frank N. Furter’s in The Rocky Horror Picture Show - those bejeweled white heels made Tim Curry’s first appearance as the sweet transvestite the epitome of glam. And gorgeous he was too.
Elton John may arguably have had the best platform shoes, but his tended to veer into stage props, eventually leading to those sky-high Doctor Marten boots in Ken Russell’s Tommy. And of course, there was David Bowie, Twiggy, and a host of pop stars sashaying around London on pairs of ankle-breakers. Like Oxford bags, bell bottoms, high-waisters, and bomber jackets, the platform shoe epitomized the androgynous nature of seventies fashions. Originally devised as stage shoes in Greek theater, platforms have been in and out of style through the centuries, at various times used by prostitutes to signal their availability and profession (to literally stand out from the crowd), and were popular in the 18th century as shit-steppers, used to avoid effluent on the road. However, their greatest impact was in the 1970s, when they were the boot of choice for seemingly everyone under 30.
I had a pair of 5 inch heels, blue patent leather, divine to walk in, impossible to run in, and not the expected school uniform. This British Pathe featurette takes a look at the trend of platform shoes from 1977.
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.