Monday, 31 October 2011
Saturday, 22 October 2011
Anyway, as we're now starting to get to the big beasts of the Seventies, such as the Sabs and Floyd, here's some AC/DC. Objectively speaking, the best band of all time, of course.
Friday, 21 October 2011
"When I first saw [The Exorcist] I was pissed off because I saw it as a return to the ancient views about the Devil and the Catholic Church: part of the nostalgic disease of the 1970s, and a reactionary one at that. When I saw it a second time it was with a San Francisco clinical psychologist...who immediately saw the movie as an allegory. And that enlightened me. People flock to the movie because it is a therapeutic experience. We are all possessed -- by our addictions, our loves, our attachments, our habits, our unconscious, our guilts, our needs, our possessions, our social roles -- and they talk through us. We vomit out our bullshit. We all want to be exorcised."
-- Jerry Rubin, "I am Regan, you are Regan,"Village Voice, May 2, 1974
"...We weren't so much the Lords of Darkness as the Lords of Chickenshit when it came to that kind of thing. I remember when we went to see The Exorcist that Christmas in Philadelphia: we were so freaked out, we had to go watch The Sting afterwards to take our minds off it. Even then, we all ended up sleeping in the same hotel room, because we were scared out of our minds. It's funny, because years later Linda Blair -- who played the satanic kid in that movie -- ended up dating my mate Glenn Hughes from Deep Purple. She definitely liked musicians, it turned out. She even went out with Ted Nugent once. But she wouldn't go near me.
Not a fucking chance."
-- Ozzy Osbourne, I Am Ozzy
"They just wouldn't fuck off, those satanists. I'd walk out of my hotel room in the morning, and they'd be right outside my door, sitting in a circle on the carpet, all dressed in black hooded capes, surrounded by candles. Eventually I couldn't take it anymore. So one morning, instead of brushing past them as I usually did, I went up to them, sat down, took a deep breath, blew out their candles, and sang 'Happy Birthday.'
They weren't too fucking happy about that, believe me."
Wednesday, 19 October 2011
It was something of craze at the time and it’s revealing how many children are involved. Not only are they allowed to gather together without adult supervision, but they can actually afford to attend international cricket matches. Perhaps the most striking difference is the TV commentary. Now any unofficial public intervention has to be met with po-faced condemnation: ‘Idiots, not real fans, spoiling it for the rest of us etc.’ There has been a policy for some years now of not showing streakers, leading to a kind of hyper-Stalinism where events are airbrushed from the record as they happen. Nothing must be allowed to interrupt the Sky Sports Continuum. This fear of unscripted public behaviour makes a mockery of TV Sport’s appalling sentimentality towards ‘the fans’ and to ‘the passion of the FA Cup/The Ashes etc’.
70s TV seems more relaxed, even prepared to have a chuckle over youthful exuberance. John Motson is surprisingly mild in his criticism of the Scottish fans breaking the goal at Wembley and then switches to explaining it away in terms of the importance of the fixture.
Compare and contrast:
The decline of the pitch invasion is partly put down to the rise of the all-seater stadium, modern security practices and so on. But it must be a change within us as well, with how we think we should behave in crowds. The 70s were a period of assertive working class collective action. Mass picketing at Saltley Gate and Grunwick, the UCS work-in. It was also the time of the folk club circuit, where divisions between audiences and performers were loose.
Now we are ‘alone together’ – not just on the internet but in offline crowds too. Even worse, we self-police crowd behaviour on behalf of TV and advertisers: too many people filming live music instead of dancing; the censoriousness about talking in the cinema. There is whole genre on YouTube of hecklers getting ‘owned’ by comedians. Many hecklers may be unfunny drunks, but there is something creepy about members of the public joining in the pretentious defence of the ‘craft’ of stand up. The nadir is flash mobbing: pointless, self-referential and unthreatening.
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Thursday, 6 October 2011
Those of you enjoying the current re-runs of every 1976 'Top Of The Pops' will almost certainly have noticed two things: that the charts have always been shit, and the inexplicable and occasionally mindscramblingly cryptic performances of mixed sex, interracial dance troupe Ruby Flipper.
The Flipper, as they have never been known, were only on the show for five months,and never managed to warm the nation's cockle and loins in the same way that their immediate predecessors, Pan's People, had done, despite featuring two former People in their line up. The precise reasons for this may never be known, although BBC Head of Light Entertainment Bill Cotton tried to put his finger on the problem in a meeting with legendary choreographer Flick Colby - 'Flick, no-one in England wants to see white girls dancing with a black man'. Cotton's most notorious programme was, of course, 'The Black & White Minstrel Show'.
Here are some select moments from their short reign of terror.
The Flipper were quite good at the disco stuff, but then, after all, disco is designed to dance to. What they were able to do on a number of occasions is to communicate the energy of the music to the traditionally rather lumpy studio audience, upping the tempo of their shuffling considerably. In this routine, they demonstrate the dual nature of Colby's routines - a confusing mix of lacivious grinding and infantile pantomime.
Finally, here's their interpretation of Bowie's 'TVC15'. It always reminds me of a fly on the wall documentary set in a secure unit. I keep expecting R.D Laing to wander in with a clipboard. Bizarre, although I'm sure Dame Dave would have approved.
I know you have to make a 20% budget cut over the next five years, might I suggest the return of this old favourite?
It's better than 90% of your output, and little Carole Hersee and Bubbles are far more charismatic than 99% of your presenters.
And nearly three decades went by. And then we were told that it was neither here nor there, because there was no spoon in the first place. So we that non-spoon and ran with it.
And then about a decade later, a lot of people had to shrug and say, "Well, fuck me...turns out there was a spoon there all along."
“A new form will always seem more or less an absence of any form at all, since it is unconsciously judged by reference to the consecrated forms.”
The scream of terror, of pain, of death, still fills my ears as I contemplate the heap of crumpled bedclothes spread like so many rags on the floor, an improvised altar whose folds are gradually dyed a brilliant red, in a stain with distinct edges which, starting from the center, rapidly covers the entire area.
The fire on the contrary, once the match has grazed a shred of lace soaked in gasoline, spreads through the whole mass all at once, immediately doing away with the lacerated victim who is still stirring faintly, the heap of linen used in the sacrifice, the hunting knife, the whole room from which I have just had time to make my escape.
When I get to the middle of the corridor, I realize that the fire is already roaring in the elevator shaft, from top to bottom of the building, where I have lingered too long. Luckily there remained the fire escapes, zigzagging down the façade. Reversing my steps, then, I hurry toward the French window at the other end. It is locked. No matter how hard I press the catch in every direction, I cannot manage to release it. The bitter smoke fills my lungs and blinds me. With a sharp kick, aimed at the bottom of the window, I send the flat of my sole through four panes and their wooden frames. The broken glass tinkles shrilly as it falls out onto the iron platform. At the same time, reaching me along with the fresh air from outside and drowning out the roar of the flames, I hear the clamor of the crowd which has gathered in the street below.
I slip through the opening and I begin climbing down the iron steps. On all sides, at each floor, other panes are exploding because of the heat of the conflagration. Their tinkling sound, continuously amplified, accompanies me in my descent. I take the steps two at a time, three at a time.
Occasionally I stop a second to lean over the railing: it seems to me that the crowd at my feet is increasingly far away; I no longer even distinguish from each other the tiny heads raised toward me; soon there remains no more than a slightly blacker area in the gathering twilight, an area which is perhaps merely a reflection on the sidewalk gleaming after the recent shower. The shouts from a moment ago already constitute no more than a vague rustle which melts into the murmur of the city. And the warning siren of a distant fire engine, repeating its two plaintive notes, has something reassuring about it, something peaceful, something ordinary.
I close the French window, whose catch needs to be oiled. Now there is complete silence. Slowly I turn around to face Laura, who has remained a few feet behind me, in the passageway. “No,” I say, “no one’s there".
Tuesday, 4 October 2011
... And Saturday night, once you allow yourself to think about it, isn't that much better than any other night.
In 1976, there was no getting away from Peter Frampton. Seemed like you couldn't go very far without seeing the cover of Frampton Comes Alive. Wherever you went, there he was -- looking all illuminated and holy like some Byzantine icon. Saint Peter fuckin' Frampton, Bestower of the Communal Good Vibes, with frets held aloft to bless the flock with and whatnot. Staring out at you from record store windows; or from the ads for the Columbia Record Club that appeared in all the magazines; or from posters on the bedroom walls of your friends or their older siblings; or -- most often -- laying at the top of the stack of records propped up next to someone's stereo, where the album itself was in frequent rotation.
Rarely does a live album attain that sort of ubiquity. Because let's face it, nine times out of then live album are dodgy business. No matter how it's marketed, the live album is usually the equiv of low-end product in any given artist's catalog. Not to say that live albums universally suck, but they almost never rise to any level of consequence, let alone -- except for rabid completists -- rank as "essential." But in the U.S. during the 1970s, there were two big exceptions. The first being Frampton Comes Alive, with Cheap Trick's At Budokan following in second place.*
In the latter instance, good timing had a lot to do with it. At Budokan arrived in 1979, right about the time that disco's hegemonic grip on the culture was finally waning and a lot of people were ready to hear something else. The album's lead single "I Want You to Want Me" rapidly climbed the charts. People heard all the girls in the audience shrieking and chanting along and wondered how they'd previously missed out on the band -- how it was that the band could be so wildly popular elsewhere, yet why haven't I ever heard of these guys before? It was a classic example of the "big in Japan" scenario.
Sunday, 2 October 2011
Second Rule of Musical Thermodynamics: Whenever the elements of fire and water are brought together, they often -- surprise, surprise -- only make steam. At best some good anecdotes might come of it. (At least so long as none of of the involved parties decide to lawyer-up.)