On September the 6th & 7th 2003 the US-based Tokion magazine ran a brilliant seminar inviting anyone they felt relevant or important across the creative fields named (aptly) Creativity Now. The magazine later ran edited transcripts of the seminars and here we have Phase 2, Kool Herc and Melle Mel on the roots of hip hop. Nice photograph of Phase 2. The transcript of graphic designer Peter Saville’s seminar will follow soon.
November 29, 2010
Sitting in a cold school playground. Neath a clear Autumn sky. Koyo in reds and browns. Pale yellows. Jealously watching my kids hot-foot it after girls. A game of “Taka Oni”. Up the slide. Round the Jungle Jim. Old tires rolled for hula hoops. I fold my arms and pull my shoulders up around my ears. I try to remember the first time I fell in love.
Was it kiss-chase at primary school? Being dragged into the red-brick Girls’ Toilets on Birchanger Road. The girl in the house opposite. Net curtains for wedding gowns. Or was it when Laura Johnson smiled?
Was it the girl I was too shy to kiss? Long weekends sat on my Chopper outside her house, waiting for her to appear. One long Saturday matinee spent frozen with fear.
Or was it the force of nature with the tattooed ankle in Corfu?
Was it a copy of Clara Bow’s bob and Kohled eyes? All dressed in black with drawn on pout. The hardest body. Dark taffeta.
Was it the tom-boy who wouldn’t take no for an answer til it was too late? A glimpse of hung-over white lingerie in a four poster bed. A glimpse of jade at the foot of her stairs.
Was it a bright red mouth. Or an overnight bag hidden under a restaurant table. My mock acquittals accompanied by a dramatic removal of glasses and flick of the fringe. So much passion there.
Was it the electricity when our lips touched on a Sunday morning after the Saturday night before. Heaven’s promise. Then Sunday nights lonely crying. Red Stripe and The Wonder Years for company. What ever happened to Winnie? Whatever happened to Croydon’s Kylie?
Was it a scrapbook? A faded beauty in 50s gear. Someone longing to be held but too used to rejection. Pressed so close to me in sleep that handprints accompany me to the shower.
Was it the green contacts and the flattery I felt? Or the impossibility of it?
Was it a shot at redemption? Or a means of escape? Something unbroken I felt compelled to break.
Or was I just too high?
Was it when my wife blushed? A goofy grin. Caught off guard as Badlands lit the ICA.
Or was it when I held my first son?
Was it with the act? Or just the idea?
Every night I dream of friends and lovers my life has left behind. These are happy dreams. Conversations, jokes and warmth. Not spectres and farewells. Love doesn’t fade. It grows. I wish I could reach out and tell these people who shaped my life that their memory makes me smile the biggest smile. I wish I could hold them. Last night I kissed my grandmother. “Good night my love” she said and I opened my eyes lonely. Lonely for a moment, then my sons awake and the day once more is given purpose.
No-man: Days In The Trees (Reich)
Scott Cossu: Purple Mountain
Haroumi Hosono: Honeymoon
Yusef Lateef: Plum Blossom
Elmore Judd: Otherly Love
Azimuth: Lina Da Horizonte
Last Night: Cool Water
Steven Halpern: Play Of Light
Chapterhouse: Epsilon Phase
Shinozaki Matasugu: From A Distance
Michael Lorrimer: Remembranza
Shakti: Bridge Of Sighs
Les Negrettes Vertes – Face A La Mer (Massive Attack)
Transglobal Underground: International Times (Haunted Dancehall)
Arvo Part: Spiegel Im Spiegel
November 29, 2010
November 28, 2010
November 24, 2010
This is the first of a (probably very irregular) new Test Pressing format based around the world of books. I think books are one of those things that you naturally move onto collecting if you have the collectors mindset and I seem to happily pick up any book relating to music or music-related artists so it seemed fitting to start posting a few here.
First up is ‘Reggae Bloodlines’ first published by Heinemann in 1979 and subtitled ‘In Search Of The Music And Culture Of Jamaica’. Written by Stephen Davis and Peter Simon this is a beautifully written portrait of Jamaica in the format of a 1970s school book. The first few chapters focus on introduction and the history of reggae and from there moves through hanging out with Bob Marley (“The Wailers in their prime time were the best of the part-singing reggae vocal trios. Marley’s voice was broad-reaching in its possibilities, evoking both sentimental nosralgia and bitter rage, often in the same song”), watching Burning Spear at Chela Bay, a history of Rastafari and on.
Written in the late 70s the book captures a golden time of reggae across all styles of the genre and presents the music and the stories behind it rather than taking a critical view. The photography is also pretty special with classic shots of Marley, Augustus Pablo, Burning Spear, Bunny Wailer, Lee Perry and Doctor Alimantado. This is my favourite books on reggae and I suggest getting the early edition (about a tenner including postage on Amazon) not the later re-issue as it’s in a totally different format and doesn’t have the charm.
Next up is Keith haring and ‘Journals’. This is the diaries of Haring running from ’77 through to ’89 just before his death in February 1990. It’s an insight into the heart and mind of Haring as well as giving an understanding of his simplistic take on modern art. As Timothy Leary says, “I have shown his drawings to Australian aborigines who initiated me and they grinned and nodded their heads. Keith communicated in the basic global icons of our race.”
Keith Haring was a massive fan of Larry Levan and the Paradise Garage. I got given a DVD of the whole last night of the Garage (thanks Phil) and you can clearly see Haring dancing away with a female friend. Here’s an extract where he talks about his love for the club.
“Speaking of families: I’m sitting in an empty train car so I’m playing my radio real loud. I’ve got a tape on that Junior made me called Paradise Lost. It still hasn’t sunk in that the Paradise Garage has closed forever. Every time I hear a song that is “Garage song,” I get real emotional. I can’t explain exactly why, but something about just knowing it was there was a comfort, especially when I was out of New York City. There was always something to look forward to immediately upon my return. In fact, I often scheduled my trips around the Garage, leaving on Sundays and returning before or on Saturdays. It was really a kind of family. A tribe. Maybe I should open a club, but I really don’t want to deal with that headache. This is the worst headache I ever felt. It’s like losing a lover when everything was going just fine. Its like when Andy and Bobby died. Maybe Paradise Garage has moved to heaven… so Bobby can go there now. That would be nice.
The last night was pretty incredible but not as sad as I thought it would be. People were sort of numb. It’s just so weird knowing that you’re not going to see a lot of these people again. There were a lot of people I only used to see there, a lot of them I never even spoke to the whole five years I went there, but I feel like I “know” them ’cause I shared something with them. Grace came for a little while, but didn’t stay long. Larry Levan played all night and all the next day till after midnight. I had to leave at midnight because I had work to do Monday morning to prepare for this trip to Europe. ”
Music always seemed integral to the world of Haring and that comes across in his dairies. It’s an easy read, especially if you have an interest in 80s New York. The one I have was published by Fourth Estate in 1996 and again comes recommended.
November 23, 2010
Here’s the Andrew Weatherall show that was on 6 Music on the weekend working through the music that inspired the Primal Scream album ‘Screamadelica’. It’s still a great album – play ‘Higher Than The Sun’ loud and it’s still got it.
We also posted a piece a while back which was Weatherall’s tour diary from the Screadelica tour that originally ran in The Face in September ’91. Click here if you fancy reading it.
While on the subject of Weatherall someone has started a group to get the BBC to give him John Peel’s slot on Radio 1. As Ashley Beedle says, “Andrew Weatherall taking over the John Peel slot would be so natural and so righteous – this man has knowledge, scope, a deep love of music and is one of the great raconteurs of our generation. Come on people – let’s make this happen before Andrew decides to turn left!!” Click here to make your ‘like’ heard.
November 22, 2010
I should really have got Dr Rob to write the introduction to this compilation as he took care of the tracklisting but I forgot to ask so here I go. If I had to pick my favourite record label there would be no doubt it would be Island Records. The breadth of the music, the Compass Point years, the logo and the sleeves – all made with the utmost care.
When Chris Blackwell was at the helm of Island Records the music always seemed to come first. Not only did he own and run the label and have the common sense to sign the right artists (or employ people with great ears such as Muff Winwood and Joe Boyd to do it for him), he also often produced the albums – rounding up groups of complimentary musicians, producers and engineers, and leaving them to get on with the job. He knew exactly where to take Grace Jones when she was a down and out disco queen, and not only trusted Bob Marley with a wedge of money to go and record an album (unheard of in Jamaica at that time) but also knew exactly what was required to take him from the streets of Kingston to the rest of the world. He also gave the world U2 but we’ll forgive him that one for now.
If you feel like exploring further and want to start with one Island album then my current suggestion (especially with winter arriving fast) would be the deluxe edition of John Martyn’s ‘One World’, worth buying for the instrumental of ‘Small Hours’ (as well as the two tracks featured here). That track just about sums the label up. According to the sleeve notes they were high, it was recorded across a lake at 3 a.m (listen carefully and you can hear the animals) and Steve Winwood was in support on the Moog. Class.
Thanks to Tim H for the Winwood, Martyn’s ‘Blackman At Your Shoulder’ and the B52s.