The student riot is a great British tradition. From Oxford’s St Scholastica Day, on February 10 1355, when a couple of undergraduates complained about the quality of beer served in their local hostelry, leading to an all out battle that left sixty-three students and thirty locals dead. Through to 1968, when plucky youngsters attacked the American Embassy over the Vietnam War, with eighty-six people injured and over two-hundred arrested. To the Poll Tax Riots with its famous Battle of Trafalgar in 1990, which left 113 injured, and 339 arrested.
Today in London, Britain’s great students have been protesting against the triple hike in tuition fees, leading to running battles with the police, vandalism of property and an attack on a car containing HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, as the Daily Telegraph reports:
Demonstrators kicked the Rolls-Royce as it travelled to the Royal Variety Performance in central London. White paint and bottles were thrown over the car and a window shattered.
The Prince and Duchess were “unharmed” and continued with their engagement at the London Palladium, a Clarence House spokesman said.
The attack occurred on Regent Street at the end of a day of protest that turned into a riot and left 10 police officers injured, six of them seriously.
Matthew Maclachlan, who witnessed the attack on the Prince’s car, said: “The police cars at the front of the convoy drove straight into crowds at the top of Regent Street. They got trapped in that mob and it meant that Charles and Camilla were on their own further down the road except for a Jaguar travelling behind them.
“Charles and Camilla’s car ran into such a concentration of people that it had to stop. It was stationary for a lot of the time, then would squeeze forward an inch. They had just one bodyguard in the car with them and a chauffeur.
“We couldn’t believe it. The car had really big windows so Charles was very much on display. People were trying to talk to him about tuition fees at first but when more people realised what was happening, the crowds swelled and people were throwing glass bottles and picking up litter bins and throwing them at the car. You could hear all this smashing.
“There was one protection officer in the Jaguar behind, dressed in a tuxedo, and he was opening the car doors and using them to bash people away. His car took a real pummelling.”
No, not quite anarchy in the UK, but good to see students carrying on a great tradition, which gives me an excuse to blast this olde favorite.
Last month in London, it was announced that the legendary 100 Club was to close after sixty-eight years of promoting live music in the same location at 100 Oxford Street. The venue was originally a restaurant called Mack’s, and live music first played there, when British jazz drummer, Victor Feldman’s father hired the venue for a regular Sunday night showcase, to promote the talents of his sons and their bands. Gradually word spread of a new jazz haunt, and it soon became the hot spot for British servicemen and visiting American G.I.‘s. Amongst the early performers to play at the venue were Glen Miller, Ray McKinley, Mel Powell and Peanuts Hucko.
By 1948 the venue was called the London Jazz Club and it was the centre for Jitterbug, Swing and then Be-Bop as well as promoting new forms of music. The Feldmans then gave up ownership and the Wilcox brothers took over the now thriving club. In the 1950s, the lease changed hands again and it was taken over by Lyn Dutton, agent for popular jazz trumpeter, Humphrey Lyttleton, who renamed the venue to the Humphrey Lyttelton Club, giving Lyttelton residency. The club scored a major coup when Louis Armstrong played there in 1956, and it later became the venue for Trad Jazz throughout the 1950s.
With the arrival of The Beatles in 1963, British music changed, and the club was given over to the next generation, and renamed the 100 Club. The policy was still the same - a venue to promote new music. Soon the 100 Club was spearheading the R’N'B scene with Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, and B. B. King all taking to the stage, along with new acts such as Rod Stewart, Alexis Korner, Julie Driscoll, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and The Animals. The rise of Beat music brought in The Who, the Kinks, The Pretty Things and The Spencer Davis Group.
The success of the Sixties was but a memory by the 1970s began, as the club struggled through a variety of work-to-rule measures and energy black-outs enforced by the government of the day. This all changed when the 100 Club launched the first festival of Punk:
On Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st September 1976 the 100 Club was host to the first ever Punk Rock Festival. Seen for the first time, certainly in London, on the 100 Club stage were the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned, Siouxsie & The Banshees the Buzzcocks the Vibrators and Subway Sect. No one outside of a select few had heard of any of the them and all of them were unsigned. The Melody Maker’s opening line of its review stated ‘The 600 strong line that stretched across two blocks was indisputable evidence that a new decade in rock is about to begin.’ It was to be one of the most famous events in the club’s history. The Punk festival of ‘76 also had an enormous effect on music in general. It changed the club’s fortunes and its image indefinitely. As no other venue wanted to put on Punk at all, it stayed at the club on and off for the next eight or nine years incorporating its second wave with bands like U.K.Subs, G.B.H., ADX, Peter & the Test Tube Babies, The Exploited and Discharge. The 100 Club is still the spiritual home of the Punk movement.
At the same time the 100 Club was also promoting Reggae, with Steel Pulse and The Might Diamonds, and Northern Soul, with Terry Callier, Doris Troy, The Flirtations and Tommy Hunt.
In 1980s, African Jazz / Township Music became the focus for the club:
Julian Bahula, the distinguished African drummer, decided to run a regular Friday night featuring authentic African bands. Many of the musicians he employed were political refugees isolated from their South African homeland because of the apartied laws and were members of the outlawed A.N.C. The weekly Friday nights became a whole movement for change and with the pulsating music on offer a whole new genre in the 100 Club‘s history was born. Great African musicians like Fela Kuti, Marion Makeba and Hugh Masekela appeared on the Friday night bill as did Youssou N’Dour, Thomas Mapfumo, Dudu Pukwana and Spirits Rejoice. It ran for almost ten very successful years until the release of Nelson Mandela, then the change in the political climate in South Africa meant the cause was over.
1992 was to see the start of the biggest era in popular music at the club since 1976. The club was once again going through a lean spell when a chance phone call from concert promoter, Chris York, inquired whether the club would be interested in showcasing one of his new bands. The band were called Suede and in September 1992 they kicked off the club’s successful period in Indie music.
Over the next four years Oasis, Kula Shaker, Echobelly, Catatonia, Travis, Embrace, Cornershop, The Aloof, Heavy Stereo and Baby Bird would be just a few of the names to play the club and right up to the present day, the club has seen gigs from Semisonic, Toploader, Muse, Shack, Doves, JJ72, Jo Strummer, Squarepusher, Ocean Colour Scene and The Webb Brothers.
Now, the venue that has been at the heart of new music in the U.K. since 1942 is about to close, and a campaign has been set up to Save the 100 Club. As the club has been in difficulty for a wee while (for various reasons), £500,000 has to be raised by November. If you are interested in saving the 100 Club or have a spare half-million to spend or just ten quid, then get in touch and be part of history.
If the money is raised, the club will stay open as a non-profit organisation, with its new owners being the donors. A Board of Trustees would be democratically elected by the donors to run the venue, and “your donation would entitle you to an equal say in these decisions, whether you are able to pay £10.00 or £10,000.” the ultimate aim is:
..restore the venue as a place where new bands can develop and existing bands can continue to thrive.
Look at it this way, if the 100 Club shuts down, your venue could be next.
Without a place for musicians to play live, the future of music will be in the hands of the karaoke-singing, bastard children of Simon Cowell’s X-Factor and American Pop Idol. Hyperbole aside - seriously. The choice is ours which way it goes.
Bonus Clips of The Sex Pistols and The Clash after the jump…
In The Conversation, Gene Hackman’s character, Harry Caul used an Ampex AG-350 and German-made UHER units to bug unsuspecting couples. The UHERs were similar to those used during the Nixon administration to bug the Oval Office. Bugging is more ubiquitous than we think, for example, though cinema may try and convince pay-phones are the best place to make that discreet call, they are regularly bugged by intelligence agencies. This was particularly true for the UK and Northern Ireland during the 1970s, when covert surveillance was carried out on paramilitary organizations, those of certain political affiliation, union leaders, Communist Party members and even John Lennon and The Sex Pistols. It therefore must have come as quite a shock to the powers that be, when it was disclosed MI5 had bugged the Prime Minister’s office, at 10 Downing Street, for 15 years.
Over at the Phantom Museum there is an impressive on-line collection of 117 reel-to-reel recorders and 50 microphones, plus an extensive history of reel-to-reel and recording advertising from the late 1800s to present day.
The Museum was established by Martin Theophilus, who has been involved in audio production since 1964, and now runs the multi-media company Phantom Productions. Theophilus says the on-line Museum, “is for people who want to look back and see how recording has evolved.”
...recorders were in use as early as 1877 but that the Edison Player, which initially sold for $20 (cylinders were 35 cents), was the first device available to the public. The Edison machine etched microphone vibrations into grooves on spinning wax cylinders. Historically, recorders have used wire, vinyl and other materials.
Theophilus said that commercial and private use of reel-to-reel magnetic tape to record sound, a technique first developed by the Germans during World War II, began in California in 1946 where two captured German machines were reassembled.
The vintage reel-to-reels in Theophilus’ collection were primarily used by singers, musicians and song writers who could not afford to hire professional recording studios.
Beginning in 1948, when portable reel-to-reel machines became available to cash poor artists, they used them to make demos. The demos were distributed to help the artists get jobs. By 1955, portable reel-to-reel recorders, such as the Ampex, reproduced a sound as good as the products of recording studios.
At the time, Ebert had no idea who the Sex Pistols were. The Pistols, though, very much wanted to work with the creative team behind Dolls, a movie Johnny Rotten deemed as being, “true to life.” It’s a funny, informative account that somehow, along the way, accommodates both P.J. Proby and Scientology.
As to why the movie, Who Killed Bambi?, never happened, various reasons have been circulated: Maybe 20th Century Fox pulled the plug after reading the resulting screenplay, or McLaren’s shaky finances would never have covered the film’s budget. Or perhaps, most intriguingly, (Princess) Grace Kelly, who served on the Fox board of directors, simply didn’t want the studio to back another Russ Meyer X-travaganza (likely profits be damned).
Just then the SEX PISTOLS appear on the screen. They’re dressed in what could be described as Proto-Punk: The look is definitely different from that of the other people on the line, and yet isn’t as well-defined as it will be later on.
They split up to work the line: They’re of it, but not in it. STEVE carries his guitar, vaguely suggesting they’re into music of some sort. SID VICIOUS goes into his famous Sun-Glasses dance, his hands inverted and placed in front of his eyes to suggest either binoculars or a Batman-style headdress. The Pistols seem amused by the notion that people would stand in line in an unemployment queue at all.
Proby watches, fascinated by their wonderfully Downtrodden look, as they approach the others.
SID VICIOUS (to the Miner)
Why stand in line, you silly twit?
It’s your money - why wait for it?
Why don’t they provide seating out here?
The crowd grows silent, uneasy, in the face of the attack.
They take it with one hand and give it back with the other.
So smash it and take it!
And while Ebert refuses to comment on his script, “I can’t discuss what I wrote, why I wrote it, or what I should or shouldn’t have written. Frankly, I have no idea,” here he is in ‘88 with Meyer and McLaren discussing—and venting over—Who Killed Bambi?
Severely ill and stroke-prone, Last of The Great Train RobbersRonnnie Biggs was released by British officials into the free light of day last Friday. After the ‘63 robbery, which involved the mail car hijacking of what would be roughly $70 million in today’s dollars, Biggs and his cohorts were quickly rounded up. The money wasn’t—the bulk of it has never been recovered. And after scaling a 30-foot prison wall and skipping off to Rio, it looked like Biggs wouldn’t be, either. That is until 2001, when craving “a pint of bitter,” Biggs returned to England to resume his sentence.