Afro American gay men are ignored into nonexistence in parts of black culture and are basically second class citizens in gay culture. The black church which has historically played a fundamental role in protesting against civil injustices toward its parishioners has been want to deny its gay members their right to live a life free and open without prejudice. Despite public projections of a “rainbow” community living together in harmonious co-habitation, openly active and passive prejudices exist in the larger gay community against gay Afro Americans.
These make for some beautiful and touching pictures. See more here.
For just this once I’m going to break my long-standing Beatles veto. I really didn’t think the world needed yet another Beatles blog post, but then this is just so ridiculously adorable it had to go up. Not only that it’s factually accurate! I’m pretty certain not many four-year-olds are aware that Ringo was not the original Beatles drummer:
There’s a line by Neil Innes, which Richard likes to quote:
There are no coincidences, but sometimes the pattern
It’s from “Keynsham” by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, who were on here recently, and well, there’s just something in the air as here’s another fine documentary from Jonathan Ross, this one from 1988, when he interviewed the “Pope of Trash”, the “Anal Anarchist”, the “Ayatollah of Crud”, the fabulous Mr. John Waters.
Shown as part of Ross’s series The Incredibly Strange Film Show, and recorded not long after Waters’ co-conspirator Divine died, this superb documentary contains one of the best and most revealing interviews Waters has ever given.
Starting with the opening of Hairspray in Baltimore 1988, with interviews from key Dreamlanders, a chewy selection choice clips, background skinny and some fabulous archive.
And what can we learn from this all? As Waters explains, without Divine there would be no John Waters’ films, for Divine represented the rebel who could win. Nice, but that’s a line which is also true of Mr Waters - for he is the rebel who won.
I first met Peter Boyd Maclean about twenty years ago, when he was about 12, or so it seemed, as he was precociously young and at the same time incredibly wise, and most annoyingly Talented with a capital ‘T’. He had arrived from the ether to work at the Beeb as a top director / producer, having made a splash on that TV earthquake known as Network 7. He was funny, witty and always made work fun. I recall at the time Peter had just “Shot the shit” out of some island to placate his over-zealous exec, who repeatedly demanded “Pictures! Coverage! More pictures! More coverage!” every 10 minutes by ‘phone, fax and pigeon post. Since then m’colleague, has gone on to greater achievements and awards and hairstyles of interesting description.
He also made this rather super documentary on Punk, 1-2 FU with Jonathan Ross taking a personal odyssey through the music of his youth. It’s quirky, orignal, and has an impressive line-up of the punk bands who most effected the TV showman, including Steven Severin, Ari Up, The Damned, Adam Ant, etc. Like the best of Peter’s work, F-U 12 takes an original approach to a subject, rather than the usually biblical reverence of “In the beginning was Punk and the Punk was with…” etc. Of particular note here, is Jonathan’s bus tour of London’s punk clubs, and his rendition (as in torture) of “Anarchy in the U.K.”
Now here’s more of the same from the official blurb:
Jonathan Ross presents the ‘Memoirs of a Middle-Aged Punk’ in this authored documentary charting the rise and demise of the most nihilistic movement in the history of British music.
Jonathan delivers a fast and furious rant confessing his passion for punk and the lasting effect it’s had on everything, from music and fashion to art and television.
As a forty-something whose life has been defined by punk and all the anarchy it stood for, Jonathan sets out to discover if punk really changed the world or was it all overblown hype?
To fully explore the legacy of punk, Jonathan gets a Mohican and grabs Captain Sensible to join him as he transports an open-top bus full of punks on a tour around London’s most notorious punk hotspots.
Finally, it’s Jonathan Ross as you’ve never seen him before when he fulfils his ultimate punk fantasy performing with Vic Reeves as The Fat Punks for one night only.
Between 1959 and 1969, Ken Russell flourished as a brilliant director of television documentaries for the BBC, where he single-handedly advanced the documentary genre by creating a hybrid of the drama-documentary. Firstly with his splendid film on Elgar in 1962, developing the form with Oliver Reed in The Debussy Film in 1965, then making the classic drama on Delius, Song of Summer in 1968, before finally and most controversially making his masterpiece Dance of the Seven Veils A Comic Strip in Seven Episodes on the life of Richard Strauss 1864-1949, which infamously depicted the German composer of “Also Sprach Zarathustra” as a Nazi, and lead to questions being raised in the British Parliament, before it was eventually banned.
Russell’s brilliant style of film-making was a long way from how things worked when he first arrived at the BBC. Then ‘biography’, as Joseph Lanza explained in Phallic Frenzy: Ken Russell and His Films, was:
...more like strict documentary. There was no place for metaphors or speculative drama. The network’s purists felt such tactics were synonymous with the kinds of exaggeration [the Futurist artist] Henri Gaudier championed and that Russell longed to create. So Russell kept a humble exterior while secretly plotting to subvert the BBC’s codes of propriety.
“Ken was different in every way from what he is now,” Russell’s BBC boss Huw Wheldon reflected in the early 1970s on working with Russell in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. “To start with, he was virtually wordless. He was shy and quiet. Quiet in every way: his clothes, his haircut, his countenance. A little watchful, but silent and completely modest. I couldn’t make head nor tail of him, partly because he wouldn’t help me. He didn’t say anything. He just looked at me.”
Russell’s first short film for the BBC’s Monitor series was Poet’s London - an effective evocation of John Betjeman’s poetry; quickly followed by Guitar Crazy on the rise of guitar music; Portrait of a Goon, a look acclaimed comic and scriptwriter, Spike Milligan; and a profile of dance legend, Marie Rambert and her ballet company. Then in 1960, during a summer break from the series, Russell wrote, directed and produced his first full-length documentary film, A House in Bayswater.
In An Appalling Talent - Ken Russell, film writer and critic, John Baxter described Russell’s film as ‘...ostensibly a protest at the razing of tall old buildings to make way for office blocks…’
‘Beginning as a systematic representation of Bayswater as a hive of creative activity - his chosen terrace houses a painter, a photographer, a ballet dancer and ex-pupil of Pavlova, a retired lady’s maid who pines for the affluent USA of the Twenties, and an odd but lively landlady - the film changes tone as both artists reveal themselves as tedious poseurs, and Russell’s sympathy swings towards the old people, sustained and enriched by the past. The dancer, leading her willing, wispy pupil through a two-woman show hazed in memoriesof better days (“My next solo is one I did on Broadway in 1929 and I am wearing the same costume”) is faded but not absurd, the maid’s images of New York have the insouciant fever of Scott Fitzgerald, and the concierge who sells her junk to the photographer for props, offers bumpers of sherry as rent receipts and cultivates toadstools and deadly nightshade in the garden with a philosophical “They might come in useful” celebrates the indestructible eccentric. The last Cocteauesque image, of the dancer and her little pupil battling in slow motion against a windy torrent of streamers and balloons (to be recalled in the 1812 episode of The Music Lovers) holds the promise of immortality for all those who survive and, above all, keep faith.’
A House in Bayswater is a beautiful piece of documentary-making, which slowly develops towards a memorable finish. What isn’t revealed is that the fact this was this house in Bayswater was Ken Russell’s home during the 1950s.
I have lived most of my life in rooming houses, and shared apartments, and run-down hotels, where there is great comfort in anonymity and company amongst strangers, and understand Russell’s nostalgia for a life that is being slowly removed, as cities are carelessly gentrified. Watching it in the month when New York’s Chelsea Hotel announced its demise, only reinforced how much of our shared environment is now monetized for the benefit of a few. This is apparent in Russell’s film, as the film details the lives and hopes of the tenants, connected by a house that was soon to be lost to demolition and replaced “by a soulless office block.”
Norman Bates would be proud - the Potter’s Museum of Curiosities, in Bramber, Sussex, where stuffed animals were dressed in costumes and posed in recognizably human settings - at school, sharing a tea party, drinking in a bar. Established in Victorian England, the museum was the idea of Walter Potter, an amateur taxidermist, whose anthropomorphic dioramas were considered typical of Victorian whimsy, and proved so popular with the public during the 1800s that the platform at Bramber railway station had to be extended to accommodate the extra carriages, which brought crowds of day-trippers to see the exhibits.
Born in 1835, Potter’s first attempt at taxidermy was his pet canary. At the age of 19, inspired by a book of nursery poems, Potter created The Death and Burial of Cock Robin, a diorama consisting of 98 species of British birds, which would become the centerpiece of his museum.
The museum had over 10,000 stuffed animals and included tableaux of:
“...a rats’ den being raided by the local police rats ... [a] village school ... featuring 48 little rabbits busy writing on tiny slates, while the Kittens’ Tea Party displayed feline etiquette and a game of croquet. A guinea pigs’ cricket match was in progress, and 20 kittens attended a wedding, wearing little morning suits or brocade dresses, with a feline vicar in white surplice. The kittens even wear frilly knickers under their formal attire!”
The museum closed in the 1970s, relocated and briefly re-opened at the Jamaica Inn, Bodmin Moor, in 1984, where it attracted over 30,000 visitors a year. Then in 2003, the exhibits were put up for auction. The artist Damien Hirst offered to buy the complete collection for £1million, but auctioneers Bonhams sold each piece individually, raising only £500,000. Amongst the buyers were Pop Artist Peter Blake, photographer David Bailey, and comedian Harry Hill. At the time, Hirst wrote in the Guardian:
“Mr Potter’s Museum of Curiosities at Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor is a fantastic Victorian-Edwardian collection of stuffed animals and curios. There are hundreds of items, all collected or devised by the original Mr Potter, who was a self-taught taxidermist. You can see he knew very little about anatomy and musculature, because some of the taxidermy is terrible - there’s a kingfisher that looks nothing like a kingfisher. But there’s some great stuff in there, too - two-headed goats, a rhino’s head, a mummified human hand. As an ensemble, it’s just mad.
“My own favourites are these tableaux: there’s a kittens’ wedding party, with all these kittens dressed up in costumes, even wearing jewellery. The kittens don’t look much like kittens, but that’s not the point. There’s a rats’ drinking party, too - which puts a different construction on Wind in the Willows. And a group of hamsters playing cricket.
“I’ve offered £1m and to pay for the cost of the auctioneer’s catalogue – just for them to take it off the market and keep the collection intact – but apparently, the auction has to go ahead. It is a tragedy.”
Last year, a one-off exhibition was co-curated by Peter Blake, who brought Potter’s curios together at the Museum of Everything in Primrose Hill, London.
It should be noted that Potter’s museum claimed all “animals died of natural causes.”
The following film was produced by British Pathe in 1965, and describes Potter as “a genius who made fur-lined dolls into whimsical but veritable works of poetic art.” A fabulous selection of photographs from Blake’s Museum of Everything, taken by Marc Hill, can be found on the Daily Telegraph website.
Slade never looked cool, but that wasn’t the point. They were four young lads out for a good time, and they wanted you to have a good time too. You can hear it on their classic album Slade Alive, when lead singer, Noddy Holder encourages everyone to get up, get ripping and really let themselves go. And during the 1970s, that’s just what their fans did.
Slade were Noddy Holder, Jimmy lea, Don Powell and the sequined Dave (“You write ‘em I’ll sell ‘em”) Hill. Between 1970 and 1975, they sold over 6.5 million records in the UK alone, chalking up 6 number ones, 3 of which went straight to the top of the charts - a feat not achieved since The Beatles - and this at a time of 3-day weeks, power cuts and food shortages.
For their energy, dynamism and 4-chord songs, Slade were more of an influence on Punk than Iggy and The Stooges. Just listen to the opening riff for “Cum on Feel the Noize”, it sounds like the start of a Sex Pistols track. Or try “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”. As latter-day Mod-Father and frontman for The Jam, Paul Weller noted:
“The whole punk rock thing really happened because of bands such as Slade and the like; rock bands that wouldn’t back off.”
Then there’s Noddy Holder, who may have looked like a grown-up Artful Dodger, but had a brilliant and unmistakable voice, which inspired Joey Ramone:
“I spent most of the early 70s listening to Slade Alive thinking to myself, ‘Wow - this is what I want to do. I want to make that kind of intensity for myself.’ A couple of years later I found myself at CBGB’s doing my best Noddy Holder.”
The tags were all there: Slade’s first single was produced by Kim Fowley; their manager, was ex-Animal, Chas Chandler, who had managed Jimi Hendrix; and their writing partnership of Holder and Lea was compared to the greats who’d gone before, one of which, Paul McCartney saw the future of pop divided between Slade and T.Rex, just like The Beatles and The Stones.
It should have been, but in 1973, drummer Don Powell was seriously injured in a car crash that tragically killed his girlfriend. Slade nearly split. Then, there was their film Flame, not a mop-top romp, but a long-hard look at the music business - it alienated fans though is now considered the “Citizen Kane of rock musicals”. Then, in a bid to conquer America, they spent 2 years Stateside, when Slade returned to the UK, Punk had taken over, and they were “old farts”, even though the Pistols’ Steve Jones thought that:
“Slade never compromised. We always had the feeling that they were on our side. I don’t know but I think we were right.”
It’s Slade is a well-deserved and refreshing reassessment of one Britain’s greatly under-rated bands, with excellent archive and contributions from Slade, Ozzy Osbourne, Toyah Wilcox and Noel Gallagher.
The rest of ‘It’s Slade’, plus bonus clips, after the jump…
Hoots mon! Rare film of Neil Young busking in Glasgow city center, April 1 1976, prior to headlining at the city’s legendary Apollo Theater later that night.
Mr Young performed outside Glasgow’s Central Station, on Gordon Street, where he sang “Old Laughing Lady”. Because of the date - All Fool’s Day - it has been suggested that Mr Young was carrying out his own practical joke for the benefit of those lucky denizens of the Dear Green Place.
Video filmed backstage at a Rolling Stones concert, from the Hampton Coliseum, Virginia, in 1981.
Alway wanted to know about the backstage antics???
Here’s your chance to be with the Stones before they go on stage.
I guess the routine of touring has gotten to the point of ...well this!
Warming the crowd before they go on is George Thorogood & the Destroyers, on stage in the background.
Your Backstage pass says “ALL ACCESS”.
Please follow through this door and onto your left!
Taken from the December 18 performance, this was broadcast as The World’s Greatest Rock’n’Roll Party on pay-per-view and in closed circuit cinemas - the first use of pay-per-view for a music event.
It’s interesting footage, inasmuch as it belies the backstage tales of excess most associated with the “World’s Greatest Rock’n’Roll” band.
Here is a rare and rather wonderful piece of Kenneth Williams’ archive: his brilliant interpretation of Nikolai Gogol’s farcical short story Diary of a Madman .
In 1963, Kenneth Williams agreed to narrate an animated version of Gogol’s Diary of a Madman for film-maker Richard Williams. The pair had previously worked together on the short cartoon Love Me Love Me. According to the splendid biography Born Brilliant: The Life of Kenneth Williams by Christopher Stevens:
Gogol’s story gave lunatic scope to [Kenneth] Williams’s voices. It told of a lonely clerk, who is driven out of his wits by unrequited love until he succumbs to delusions that, as the uncrowned king of Spain, he is spied upon by talking dogs.
In a recording session that stretched for more than six hours without a break, Williams read from the clerk’s diary in a halting voice, like a man on a window-ledge who cannot will himself to suicide. Other personalities pierced the reading - the sadism of the office supervisor, the contempt of the boss’s daughter, the shrill proclamations of King Ferdinand VIII. ‘I was pretty hard on him, and made him read passages again and again to get the right effect. It freaked him out,’ Richard Williams recalled. ‘At one point he walked out of the studio and I had to run after him. It was a block and a half before I caught up and persuaded him to come back.’ Full of repetition and bitter nonsense, the piece is almost nauseating as the clerk slops and flounders towards insanity. While no recordings exist of Williams in his most unsettling stage roles, Diary of a Madman is proof of his merciless gift for sustained, upsetting performance.
Sadly the animation was never completed, but this incredible recording was later re-edited by the BBC and broadcast on Radio 4 in 1991.
Dramatization by James Burke
Music by Peter Shade
Directed by Richard Williams
Produced by Ned Chaillet
Re-mixed for radio by John Whitehall
If you love Reggae, if you love music, then you’ll love this excellent 3-part documentary - Reggae: The Story of Jamaican Music. Originally shown on the BBC in 2002, parts of this documentary have been on YouTube over the years, but now some kind soul has uploaded the whole series for our delight. How wonderful. Enjoy.
Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band perform at the Knebworth Festival, England, 1975-07-05.
Headlining was Pink Floyd, with the Steve Miller Band and Captain Beefheart in support. The festival also had Roy Harper with Trigger, Linda Lewis, John Peel and Monty Python‘s Graham Chapman and Friends.
Beefheart was introduced by John Peel with the words “Here he is, the guv’ner, Captain Beefheart!” The drums beat a couple of times, and they launched into a gloriously lurching, cacophonous version of “Moonlight on Vermont”. There were two distinct reactions from the audience. The Pink Floyd fans put their hands over their ears and looked at each other as if to say “What is this shit?!”. The Beefheart fans lunged forward, electrified by the sound. It was so off kilter; so alien; so “other” to what we’d been hearing all day, yet so much better, deeper; so RIGHT.
The line up was a strange one: Winged Eel Fingerling and Ella Guru Davidson (who he?) on guitars; Drumbo on guitar and drums; Jimmy Carl Black (introduced as Indian Ink) also on drums; and, instead of a bassist, Bruce “fossil” Fowler on trombone, or air bass as Beefheart called it. You couldn’t really say they were tight; one or two songs sort of slowed down halfway through, and the trombone made the rhythm kinda slurry; but it was a great sound; like a load of drunks trying to play impossibly complex music, and threatening to collapse into chaos at any moment, but always just avoiding it.
Captain Beefheart Don Van Vliet vocals, saxophone, harmonica
Indian Ink Jimmy Carl Black drums, percussion
Greg Ella Guru Davidson guitar, slide guitar
Bruce Fossil Fowler air bass, trombone
Drumbo John French drums, percussion
Winged Eel Fingerling Elliot Ingber guitar, slide guitar
Here’s the whole show, track-by-track - sound quality isn’t perfect, but it’s Beefheart.
01. “Moonlight On Vermont”
02. “Abba Zabba”
03. “Band Introductions” 04. “Orange Claw Hammer”
Full concert performance plus bonus TV clip, after the jump…