I keep forgetting to post this – there’s a Ninja Tune 25 Year retrospective currently showing at the Médiathèque Voyelles, 2 Place Jacques Félix, 08000 Charleville-Mézières in France. It’s been curated by Jais Elalouf aka DJ Oof (that’s him below, at the opening night) from his own personal collection and some of my archive. It features many record sleeves, promo posters, proofs and some original artwork and finishes on April 30th so if you’re in the area check it out.
I didn’t go into town for RSD, instead I stayed south of the river, went to smaller, local stores like Rat Records in Camberwell, Casbah and The Music & Video Exchange in Greenwich and The Book & Record Bar in West Norwood (above). Much calmer atmosphere, no crush or crazy queuing, no crowds. I saw some scenes in the centre of London on the day and it looked like Carnival was on. Read what happened to Mr Thing at his set on Berwick St. in the middle of Soho… not cool.
I went to West Norwood first, got there at 10am, walked in and pulled one record straight away from my list (the Amorphous Androgynous ‘Wizards of Oz’ comp above). No fuss, no crush, no queuing. They also still had records from RSD 2014 in the racks. I will go to Rough Trade at some point in the next few weeks to see what they have but I joined a queue there on RSD about 3 years ago and never again. It’s not for me, I don’t enjoy buying records that way. If people are all looking in one place I want to be somewhere in the opposite direction.
In all on Saturday I did four records shops, only two of which had RSD records, but I got plenty of vinyl, both old and new (plus books, magazines and a CD).
Also had time to see an exhibition (Snub 23, see previous post) and meet up with friends and family in the park. A relaxing day that involved going to record stores/shops and helping support them plus the artists and labels. No fretting about whether a record I wanted was going for stupid money on eBay, there’s plenty of time to hunt the one that got away down, I don’t need anything so badly that I have to pay those kind of prices. I should probably also add here, that this is pretty much the same as any number of other days in the year when I go shopping for records rather than making it a one-off.
Currently starring in his first solo show at the Ben Oakley Gallery in Greenwich is Snub23, a Brighton artist I’ve featured a few times on here and who I’ve collaborated with before on the last Herbaliser album.
One of the most dedicated stencil artists I’ve ever come across, he’s always moving his style forward and several are on display in the show. His signature 23 piece and Mongrol character preside over the back wall with new 3D heads appearing for the first time of the robot.
His Isometric Op-Art designs multiply across distressed metal drawers and more characters grace found signage, a skate deck and circuit boards. Subtler line drawings of female faces in a number of expressions adorn one wall and delicately stenciled feathers are free to viewers.
He also has these T-shirts for sale plus prints of the same at the gallery, the show ends on May 3rd so be quick, the gallery in a little side passage off the main market square in Greenwich.
Above was filmed at the Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art in St. Petersburg earlier this year, check around the 1 minute mark for the stage-diver
Tonight DJ Cheeba, DJ Moneyshot and I retire the ‘3-Way Mix’ live set as part of the line up at the Funk & Soul Club at the Electric Ballroom in Camden. It’s been 18 months since we debuted it in Paris and since then we’ve toured it across Europe, to Russia, Canada and Australia, adding a full video component as we went. The 25th anniversary of the ‘Paul’s Boutique’ album it’s based on has come and gone and the third anniversary of MCA‘s death fast approaches. Time to put it to rest and move on…
Dick Clark reviews his memoirs of his lifetime (thus far) in pop & rock music. Nicely placed spindle hole there, maybe he had enemies in the art department?
Included as a bonus record with the ’20 Years of Rock N Roll’ double vinyl compilation release, not a rare find but always nice to see full blown colour flexi’s pressed onto cardboard.
It’s that time of the year again when Secret 7″ rolls around and shows off its wares to the public before sale day. You know the deal by now, seven bands or recording artists provide a track pressed onto a seven inch record. Hundreds of artists are invited to design sleeves for one of the acts but aren’t allowed any titles on the image.
The records are housed inside their respective sleeves, all one-offs, and the public are allowed to buy them at £50 each, the proceeds of which then goes to charity. You have to second guess the covers if you want a particular song which can be tricky but some are more obvious than others. The two sleeves at the top of the post were lenticular so moved when viewed at different angles.
The venture has expanded this year and moved venues to Somerset House where they have seven prints to add to the occasion now. Another addition is a vinyl cutting booth where you can go and make your own one-off 7″ on the spot, you have 15 minutes to record something and £50 gets your song, message or performance on a unique piece of vinyl. Looking round the designs I saw several that I could quite happily own and there seemed to be different themes recurring: lots of Op Art, many more 3D works, flower skulls popped up at least three times and eyes were prominent. I’ve divided my own snaps into lots: graphic, illustration, Op Art and 3D work.
Just watched the new version of Thunderbirds with the kids, loved it but was especially impressed with the end titles with painted backgrounds. They’ve managed to update all the old designs just enough but not too much, a fine balance.
It’s been… ooh, about six weeks since I featured Dan Lish‘s work last but since then he’s been churning out incredible pieces and started to produce work featuring artists outside of the Hip Hop world. You may have seen his print as a part of the De La Soul kickstarter or the free Slick Rick poster with Wordplay magazine. He’s got four new prints available from his site now: De La Soul (featured below), Wu Tang’s GZA, Mos Def and Kraftwerk, all £25 each, limited to 100 copies.
(Top) A Tribe Called Quest, (Below) De La Soul (nice Little Nemo in Slumberland reference with the bed there), De La Soul (original Older version for Kickstarter), De La Soul (Young version for Kickstarter), Funkadelic triple gatefold cover for a forthcoming comp, Kool Keith album cover, Jungle Brothers, Nina Simone, Prince Paul, Run DMC, X-Men/Xecutioners. Check the amazing sketchbook and Prince Paul time lapse short down below too.
There’s something going on that I feel I need to share with readers of this blog as it involves a magazine that I’m very fond of and, of late, have had dealings with. Shindig! is one of the only music magazines I regularly read, possibly the most informative about certain areas of music I’m particularly interested in, but also one that has recently been the subject of a sudden takeover by their publisher.
A little history: Shindig! started out as a fanzine, edited by Jon ‘Mojo’ Mills and Andrew Morten, specialising in Psych, Garage, Beat, Powerpop, Soul and Folk. Volcano Publishing started working with them in 2007, initially publishing six times a year and getting them into record stores and newsagents, inc. WH Smiths. The mag then went monthly and, despite heavily focusing on 60s and 70s artists, also embraced the new and covered many new bands making music in these styles which is what initially drew me to it in 2013 when they featured Broadcast, Ghost Box, Giallo soundtracks and more.
Earlier this week news started to filter out that the next issue (original cover above) had been doctored by the publisher without the editor’s consent and rebranded as ‘Kaleidoscope’ (incorporating Shindig!). Relations between the mag and the publisher had been rocky for some time and things had come to a head to the effect that Volcano Publishing had taken control of the mag, re-titling it as they don’t own the name Shindig!, cutting off email addresses and re-routing Shindig’s website address to their new ‘Kaleidoscope’ pages. See their own statement of intent and events here.
Jon Mills posted on the Shindig Facebook page on April 8th, “there is bad shit going on in Shindigland. Our old publisher is rebranding without Andy or I (who I think everyone knows ARE Shindig!) This new Kaleidoscope title is not Shindig!, although the first issue contains elements of what would and should have been Shindig! #47. It’s a sham and something I know our readers will not be happy about. The editorial policy is not ours. We as editors are not responsible and are as shocked by this as you. A full statement will follow. In the meantime we are working on means and ways to continue Shindig! in the format we all cherish. Our site is no longer functional so please watch this space. More soon.”
Since then there has been a more detailed statement from Andy which you can be read here. There seem to be allusions to the Shindig twitter account being censored so they have set up a new one here. It’s all pretty depressing sounding stuff and I can only feel for them after spending years building up the magazine to a point where the music they were covering and the new musical landscape were in perfect synch. I’d previously pegged the mag as another Mojo but it’s far more than that, focusing on lesser-known, more underground bands as well the more leftfield of the old guard. No endless rehashes of Beatles, Stones or Dylan features year in year out, which, let’s face it, have been examined to within an inch of their lives in other publications now. On a purely personal note it’s galling for me for a number of reasons, mainly because I’d found a magazine that covered many areas of music sadly lacking from other print media that now seems to be being co-opted into something else. I’ve not seen the new rebrand but the cover above is from a pdf of the pre-doctored version so it will be interesting to compare the two come Record Store Day, two days after ‘Kaleidoscope’ has cannily been slated for release. (Side note: I wonder if the new mag is aware of the Italian ‘visual culture’ ‘Kaleidoscope’?)
Two other reasons to be gutted by these events: I had a letter printed in the next issue, it’s in the version at the top (which won’t see print as is) but whether it will appear in the new ‘Kaleidoscope’ variant remains to be seen (oh the irony of that name too). The letter was praising the mag and its current direction whilst offering suggestions for future inclusions and in light of these recent changes it will unfortunately leave a bad taste in the mouth if they run it. The other pisser is that I was just finishing my first feature for Shindig! as I heard the news – an examination of The Dragons‘ history and the tale of issuing their lost ‘B.F.I.’ LP alongside new interviews with the brothers. It may yet see print as Jon and Andy are taking steps to relaunch but these events are still unfolding so I’ll try to update this as more info emerges.
You can follow their progress at the Shindig Facebook page and Twitter accounts, if you’re a fan of the mag and didn’t know about these events then I urge you to read their posts as it’s quite eye-opening. If you never saw an issue before but are curious about this kind of music and more then investigate Shindig! if you get the chance, it’s the kind of mag that some record stores have back issues of. I’m confident that Jon and Andy will come back in full control of their title because they have a loyal fan base but many will see a new magazine called ‘Kaleidoscope’ in the racks of their record shops on April 18th and not know the background to how it came into existence.
This is a perfectly-timed move for a new title to launch with the artificially-swelled ranks of the RSD audience in the right place at the right time to form a new readership, something I’d bet the publisher is counting on. I only hope that Jon and Andy can recover from this hijacking quickly, keep their team of writers onside and come back doing what they do best. I’d wager that there will only be room for one publication of music of this ilk (although wouldn’t it be nice to be proved wrong – no matter the circumstances of their coming into existence?) Hopefully this split will be for the best for both and even give Shindig! some extra publicity.
*UPDATE: Jon and Andy have a new website up now with their statement about the whole affair on it – visit: www.shindig-mag.com and read what they have to say.
They have a new podcast too with messages and songs of support from all over the world plus that statement again.
Fantastic map doing the rounds of all the records shops in and around Soho in London over a 50 year period. It’s no coincidence that last year’s Record Store Day celebrated by holding performances in Berwick Street, perhaps the heart of this map. Read MJ Carty’s blog about the legendary ‘record road’ here. Proud to say I once worked at a store on this street in the early 90’s, Ambient Soho/Worm Interface, right near the bottom, around no.11, close to where Gosh Comics now resides. I must get that added, it used to occupy some of the old Reckless Records shop site. This map coincides with an exhibition from Leon Parker’s archive which opens on the 11th of April at 2 Berwick Street.
Love the cover of the ‘Epiphanies’ collected from The Wire‘s back pages. A simple concept: an artist is invited to recall an epiphany in their life, these used to run (maybe they still do) as the last feature in the Wire before the back cover, effectively the end of each issue. The cover illustration in by Reuben Sutherland who is the graphic half of Sculpture who will be playing tonight, April 10th at the Yard in Hackney Wick.
Solid Steel will be rolling out a series of gigs this summer for no reason other than we feel like it. For these two in Paris, France and Ghent, Belgium DK and myself are joined by Om Unit and Illum Sphere. If you want to book a Solid Steel night then please contact Ben Coghill at Elastic Artists.
Sticking with the advertising theme for the month of March we have our third guest post in the Flexibition, this time from Pete Issac – he of Jelly Jazz fame and 45 Live co-conspirator alongside Boca 45. He’s chosen a rather groovy flexi from Smiths Crisps by Howard Barnes & Cliff Adams, ‘When It Comes To The Crunch (It’s Smiths IT IS!)’ / ‘Rhythm And Crunch’ (Lyntone Lyn 1021) from 1966. I’ll let him do the talking…
“Do you crunch? You don’t? Well you should. Just send in 3 empty bags and receive your Crunch disc!” So says 60’s radio jock and TV host Simon Dee on the Ready Steady Go-style TV slot from 1966, featuring hipsters of the day throwing what is likely to be ‘The Crunch’ dance moves. A swinging up-tempo mod groove on both sides with the B-side being an instrumental with tight drums and with an even tighter Carol Kaye-esque bass line, in keeping with 60s flavoured bass sounds like the Pete Moore Orchestra‘s ‘Cat Walk’, London Jazz Chamber Group‘s ‘Mae West’ and so on. Completely on point for the period, Smiths Crisps are tapping into youth culture in exactly the same way as marketeers will use pop to sell everything today.
Advertising records were pretty common at the time, and the producer of this, Lyntone, released a bunch of Flexi discs for the likes of Action Man, Ford, Heinz and Cadbury. They also released some Beatles records, which is pretty odd. And the collecting of empty packets to get the record was also common, one of the first records I ever got myself as a youngster in 1972 was by collecting empty Wotsits Crisps packets to get a copy of ‘Wilburs Collection of Childrens Favourites’ (sadly thrown away years ago).
Side 2: ‘Rhythm And Crunch’
This is not a particularly rare/expensive flexi, I picked it up years ago in Plymouth for pennies, and you could easily pick one up on Discogs for a few quid now. But what it is is an evocative promotional piece of music that perfectly illustrates the advertising industry tapping into a relatively newly found audience; young people with disposable income and cultural awareness.
With ‘vinyl’ appearing in almost every TV advert these days, I wonder how long it is before a company rekindles this concept and asks you to send in 30 empty yoghurt pots or wot-not to get a flexi-disc or standard 7″ of ‘Send in The Girls’, or a Mark Ronson ditty or indeed a specially commissioned piece of music. I say to these advertisers ‘hurry up!’.
Smiths Crisps TV Advert featuring the track:
DJ Cheeba, Moneyshot and I are putting our 4 deck, 3 DJ reconstruction of the Beastie Boys‘ ‘Paul’s Boutique’ album to bed for the foreseeable future on April 17th at the Funk & Soul Club in London. We feel that it’s done it’s job and we want to end it 18 months after it’s premiere and just 2 weeks short of the anniversary of MCA’s death on May 4th. We’ll have the full AV set up for this gig and Moneyshot’s other group, The Allergies, are also on the bill amongst others with Mixmaster Morris playing the second room as well. It’s at the Electric Ballroom, Camden and tickets are £8 advance.
Love this simple but beautifully realised video for Grasscut‘s ‘Curlews’ by ‘silent partner’ Pedr Browne. It’s taken from the duo’s next album, ‘Everyone Was A Bird’, which will be released on May 18th on Lo Recordings (they also plan to make films for the whole album). I saw them live late last year playing some of the material for the first time and fans will not be disappointed, their way of making and presenting music is very unique. They’ve also just started a radio show called Cut Grass which you can listen to here. And if you can’t wait until May 18th then check out the first single, ‘Catholic Architecture’ – a Robert Wyatt cover – that they released earlier this year with this beautiful sleeve.
A couple of discs from one of my comedy heroes today in the Flexibition – Kenny Everett – a legendary figure in the British broadcasting landscape from his days on pirate radio to the BBC, making the jump to the small screen on both the Beeb and ITV but never quite making the transition to the big screen. Kenny was one of the most creative disc jockeys on the wireless in the 70s, making endless tape montages of radiophonics, sound FX and song megamixes to intersperse with his wacky comedic range of characters and voices. He was genuinely hilarious and his on-air persona was probably his greatest character of all.
He was no stranger to voice-overs and regularly made jingles for many of the DJs on Capital Radio in his time there. In 1973 he voiced a promo flexi disc for Pepsi’s famous “Lipsmackingthirstquenching…” advert which basically entailed him filling time whilst playing the eight second fizzy drink commercial as many times as possible in four and half minutes. The ad is the gem here rather than Kenny and the disc is notable for having a nicely designed cover which has aged remarkably well graphically and was apparently distributed to retailers of Pepsi to further boost sales.
The second of the featured flexi’s is a double act of Kenny and Michael Aspel ruminating ‘On Love’. Aspel of course has to play the straight man (as did anyone who teamed up with Everett) reading from a script but gets in a good few jibes as cuddly Ken shoehorns in as many freestyle double entendres as possible but mainly cracks up. The pair once hosted shows that were the antithesis of each other on the radio, endlessly goading one another on air during the handover between their respective slots, eventually forming a lasting friendship and admiration. Kenny adored the sound of Michael’s voice and he, Kenny’s ability to make him “laugh like a drain”, regularly giving him the giggles on what should have been a serious show.
The intro to the flexi is slightly NSFW and there’s a very odd remark from Aspel in relation to his daughter… It does, however, end with a Rod McKuen-esque dialogue / song that builds to a somewhat unexpected but hilarious crescendo. Dating from 1974, I’m uncertain where this was from or what it was for as there seems to be no information about White Elephant Publications on the web. The disc is backed by Dick Emery with a version of his signature catchphrase, ‘You are awful, but I like you’ transposed into song form. This was also released as a regular vinyl 45 and even made the UK charts at one point that saw Emery making an appearance on Top of the Pops. Much like it’s title, it’s awful.
Two things that I didn’t know about Kenny that I found whilst researching this piece:
He was sacked from Radio 2 in the early 80s for reportedly saying, “When England was a kingdom, we had a king. When we were an empire, we had an emperor. Now we’re a country, and we have Margaret Thatcher.”
He was the voice of the cat in the famous ‘Charlie Says’ commercials.
and one for Dick Emery:
He voiced several characters in The Beatles‘ 1968 animated classic Yellow Submarine including “The Nowhere Man” Jeremy Hillary Boob, the Mayor of Pepperland and Max, one of the Blue Meanies.
RIP Kenny Everett & Dick Emery
My new Future Shock 2 mix is getting a lot of love on this week’s Solid Steel and now I can reveal that I’ll be premiering the AV show that goes with it at Videocrash at Koko, London this May 23rd. Tickets have just gone on sale here and I’ll be sharing the bill with Tyondai Braxton, Plaid and Vuurwerk.