Music historian/nerd Neil Transpontine's blog "History is made at night" covers the "politics of dancing and musicking" -- from the riots at Lou Reed's concerts in Italy in 1975, demonstrations against the "anti-rave" Criminal Justice & Public Order Act of 1994 (UK) to present-day protests in New Orleans against a proposed noise ordinance. [more inside]
Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland, was a dangerous place to be in the late 1970s. With bombs, shootings, British Army Patrols, riots on the streets, and The Ramones and New York Dolls on the turntable, the most punk thing 5 Catholic lads could do was to sing upbeat songs about adolescent lust, girls, getting nowhere with said girls, and the general struggles of being young. In the bleeding heart of The Troubles, The Undertones escaped by dreaming of a life more ordinary. [more inside]
The American Folk Blues Festival 1962 - 1966; Vol 2; Vol 3 - The festival was an annual event with dozens of classic blues greats like Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters & Howlin' Wolf playing to appreciative UK audiences. "Attendees at Manchester in 1962, the first ever venue for the festival in Britain, included Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones and Jimmy Page. Subsequent attendees at the first London festivals are believed to have also included such influential musicians as Eric Burdon, Eric Clapton, and Steve Winwood. Collectively these were the primary movers in the blues explosion that would lead to the British Invasion." [more inside]
Behind the scenes footage of the filming of the music videos for The KLF's 'Justified and Ancient' and 'What time is Love?'.
Stakker Humanoid - How 25 years ago Future Sound of London brought Acid House to the mainstream.
Recently, at the BBC Proms, the National Youth Orchestra performed a piece by the composer and electronic musician Anna Meredith. The name of the piece is HandsFree. It's not your typical Proms fare. The musicians put down their instruments and commence twelve-odd minutes of clapping, stomping, shuffling, shouts and even singing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
It's debatable whether the troubled World War Z signals the end of the ongoing zombie craze, but the film that started it all is much more clear: Danny Boyle's bleak, artful cult horror-drama 28 Days Later, which saw its US premiere ten years ago this weekend. From its iconic opening shots of an eerily abandoned London (set to Godspeed You! Black Emperor's brooding post-rock epic "East Hastings") to the frenzied chaos of its climax, Boyle's film -- a dark yet humanist tale of a world eviscerated by a frighteningly contagious epidemic of murderous rage -- reinvented and reinvigorated the genre that Romero built (though many insist its rabid, sprinting berserkers don't really count). And while sequel 28 Weeks Later with its heavyhanded Iraq War allusions failed to live up to the original (despite boasting one of the most viscerally terrifying opening sequences in modern horror), and 28 Months looks increasingly unlikely, there remains a small universe of side content from the film, including music, short films, comics, and inspired-by games. [more inside]
The People's Songs: The Story of Modern Britain in 50 Records is a radio series on BBC written and narrated by Stuart Maconie. Each episode focuses on one particular pop song and tells the story of the song as well as what social trends it mirrored, for instance the episode on Telstar by The Tornadoes focuses on the technological progress, especially in space travel and music, and the story of songwriter and record producer Joe Meek. 25 episodes have been broadcast, including ones on Dizzee Rascal's Bonkers and 21st Century Britain, Cornershop's Brimful of Asha and the British-Asian experience , and Serge Gainsbourg's Je T'aime and sex. There are 25 more to come. There is also a blog and profiles of the songs already discussed. [Previously on MeFi]
In the United Kingdom, many brass bands were started by colliery owners, and funded in part by the coal miners themselves. Some of those bands live on, after the coal pits have been closed for years. These bands are facing hard times, with limited funding and waning interest in the music, but some youth join bands to continue family traditions, and the government provides some funding to numerous bands. If you'd like to know more about brass bands in the UK and around the world, Internet Bandsman's Everything Within (IBEW) has tons of material, links to bands in the UK and elsewhere as well as a list of extinct bands and vintage brass band pictures, local events and radio shows, recordings, and plenty more.
Teeth of the Sea are a quartet of clean-cut young men from North London. They work in shops. Together, they make a near indescribable noise, a bit like Sketches of Spain-era Miles Davis recordings reimagined by slightly scary, 30-something metalheads with a thing for Euro-sleaze cinema, cheap lager, philosophy and noise rock. They are, genuinely, not like other bands. [more inside]
In April 1998, Ninja Tune duo Up Bustle & Out traveled from Bristol to Havana. They were greeted by legendary flautist Richard Egües, who would be their guide to meeting and recording a number of Cuban musicians over the next two months. The result was the two-volume Rebel Radio: The Master Sessions, an adventurous meeting point between 'the smokeyness of Bristol and the coolness of Havana'. UB&O's Rupert Mould kept a journal which he would later publish as The Rebel Radio Diaries.
Next year, BBC Radio Two's series The People's Songs, will tell the history of modern Britain in 50 songs. They have just announced what ten of them will be. [more inside]
The Way They Were (SLYT... 1:07:45 'The tape fails there!')... an old Granada / Channel 4 program that was a compilation of Tony Wilson's So It Goes a show that featured performances from some of the best British Punk and New Wave bands of the time.
The 'About' page of UK music website Popjustice also doubles as a pop fan manifesto.
In the wake of their grunge-y breakout hit "Creep" and the success of sophomore record The Bends, Thom Yorke and the rest of Radiohead were under pressure to deliver once more. So they shut themselves away inside the echoing halls of a secluded 16th century manor and got to work. What emerged from that crumbling Elizabethan castle fifteen years ago today was a shockingly ambitious masterpiece of progressive rock, a visionary concept album that explored the "fridge buzz" of modernity -- alienation, social disconnection, existential dread, the impersonal hum of technology -- through a mosaic of challenging, innovative, eerily beautiful music unlike anything else at the time. Tentatively called Ones and Zeroes, then Your Home May Be at Risk If You Do Not Keep Up Payments, the band finally settled on OK Computer, an appropriately enigmatic title for this acclaimed harbinger of millennial angst. For more, you can watch the retrospective OK Computer: A Classic Album Under Review for a track-by-track rundown, or the unsettling documentary Meeting People is Easy for a look at how the album's whirlwind tour nearly gave Yorke a nervous breakdown. Or look inside for more details and cool interpretations of all the tracks -- including an upcoming MeFi Music Challenge! [more inside]
Some have said the protest song is dead. However UK rapper Plan B looks set to change that by releasing 'ill Manors' raging against the demonisation of the young urban poor. Ill Manors is also the name of a film Plan B had directed under the name of Ben Drew. [more inside]
Lembit Opik MP lost his seat at the last election. Already a colourful figure, (not least because of his past relationships with a weather girl, Cheeky Girl, and underwear model*) has since taken an interesting subsequent career route via stand-up comedy to recently entering the music business himself by starring in a video for a new indie band) (*Relationship may only be for PR purposes, allegedly)
For the first few minutes I'm not even sure this interview should be taking place at all. The greeting is an awkward shuffle of hunched shoulders and downcast eyes; he can't look at me, and I can't hear him. His gaze averted, hands stuffed into pockets, he mumbles in haltingly reluctant whispers, as if words can cause him physical pain. The man should be talking to a doctor, I worry, not a nosy journalist. We try some small talk, but it's almost impossible to make out what he's saying – until I ask what he prefers to be called. "Adam," he says firmly, glancing up for the first time. "Adam Ant."
Joe Dilworth, one-time drummer/collaborator with indie stalwarts Stereolab, Th' Faith Healers and Jarvis Cocker, ex-lover of PJ Harvey, is also a very accomplished photographer. [more inside]
So those musicians who had Christmas hits in the 70s and 80s in the UK, what with them coming back year after year, must be made for life, right?
I Was There When Acid House Hit London and This Is How It Felt by Charles Mudede
There is no questioning Syd Dale's [mid-60s UK NSFW] place amongst the legends of library music. ... his lavish big band inspired compositions were quickly brought to the public's attention through their use in countless t.v. shows and advertisements. Much of his work could be as classed as easy listening however Dale was also adept at incorporating elements of funk and spy jazz.
* [The music of the 1967 Spider-Man animated TV series - to which he so memorably contributed - has been discussed previously.] [more inside]
Smash Hits! was a UK music magazine, first published at the end of 1978. It charted the progress of pop styles, including the rise of 2-Tone, and included a number of freebie discs, first as flexi discs, and later on CDs. The magazine faltered in the 1990s, and closed shop in 2006. Since then there have been a few one-off "special editions," first a 2009 tribute to Michael Jackson, and then a Lady Gaga special in 2010. 30 years after the first issue went on sale, a fan posted the first issue online. So far, new scans have been posted fort-nightly, following the original release schedule. 73 issues are online to date, each three decades after they first were sold. (via MetaChat)
Benjamin Darvill, a.k.a. Son of Dave, is a one-man band of sorts, combining harmonica, vocals, beat-boxing, a rattle and foot-stomping to create his own infectious form of blues. Darvill, a Canadian formerly with Crash Test Dummies, has released four albums to date as Son of Dave, his latest and best being 'Shake A Bone', recorded and mixed by Steve Albini in Chicago, the title track used briefly in an episode of Breaking Bad. [more inside]
Pump Up The Volume - The History Of House Music was a three part documentary (1 Time To Jack, 2 Can You Feel It, 3 From Hardcore To Handbag) first shown in the UK in 2001, telling of House’s origins in the Chicago underground, it’s crossing over the Atlantic and evolving into illegal Acid raves before entering into the mainstream in Britain. (Some NSFW language) [more inside]
The Words That Maketh Murder/The Last Living Rose - Director Seamus Murphy introduces two of 12 short films he made for PJ Harvey's forthcoming LP, Let England Shake
Excuse me, have you heard the word? (SLVimeo, Possibly NSFW or sanity)
Dear Everett True, NME and Q don’t love music any less than you do… a revealing blog entry on the music press. From Collapse Board, who also do an awesome song of the day.
Pulp's Common People - the great class-based song of the 90s?
Up against Take That's new single, the Royal British Legion are hoping that the recent support for all things Remembrance will translate into best-seller sales and funds to support serving and ex-service personnel. [more inside]
A pioneer of UK late night television The Word is twenty years old. From the sublime (Television debut of Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit') to the ridiculous (Snoop Dog vs Rod Hull and Emu) to the down-right disgusting (The Hopefuls) it was always memorable. (Much NSFWness) [more inside]
listening grooving to ABC News in Australia, or 7 News, or Ten. And now, over to the UK for the BBC or Sky News. Don't listen to the others! They are false prophets!
The Story of Bohemian Rhapsody: Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. (From BBC Three.) Oh, and... [more inside]
Music! - A 1968 documentary by the National Music Council of Great Britain, featuring folk singing, The Beatles, and even early electronic music produced by tape splicing. Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5.
Weaponizing Mozart - "How Britain is using classical music as a form of social control".
BBC Radio 6 Music, home of amongst other things the Adam and Joe show, is facing the axe. Phil Jupitus on why this sucks. (Previously, previously, previously, previously)
Popular: Every UK #1 single since 1952, reviewed in chronological order by Tom Ewing. He's up to 1987.
Rage Again against the Machine's Killing in the name is up for Christmas No.1 chart song in the UK due to a Facebook Campaign In a campaign against the usual reality show X-Factor Christmas No.1, a group on Facebook has managed to persuade people in the UK to buy Killing in the Name by Rage against the Machine this week. So far they have managed to hold onto the the top spot.
The Works of Swede Mason: "Jeremy Clarkson," "Get in the Back of the Van," "Jungle All The Way," "Bill Wyman's Metal Detector," "Put the Lotion in the Basket, *" "Got The Sucka," "The Gobshite, *" "Squashed Thingy," "Spare Me The Madness," and the pair of tracks based on Neighbors deaths "Coffee And Croissants" and "Todd....Dead." [more inside]
Guardian Journalist Dave Simpson went in search of people who inspired famous pop songs. We have, for example, Holly Woodlawn ('Walk on the Wild Side'), Dave Balfe ('Country House'), Melanie Coe ('She's Leaving Home'), Pattie Boyd ('Something', 'Layla' AND 'Wonderful Tonight') and Suzanne Verdal ('Suzanne' - previously)