Blackpool

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Just a few hours ago, this year’s Blackpool Illuminations were switched on by Jonathan Ross and this gives me the perfect excuse to post a song from the 2002 collaboration between Vic Godard and Irvine Welsh, which the latter described in a tweet earlier today as their ‘ill-fated Blackpool musical’:

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For more on Vic’s Blackpool EP.

And if you want to see Vic Godard playing live in Edinburgh and Glasgow in November:

 Vic Godard Live November

Finally for Irvine Welsh fans, the film Filth, based on his third novel, is released in Scotland on the 27th of September and the rest of the UK and Ireland a week later and if it lives up to this trailer that I saw yesterday while taking in a screening of Kick-Ass 2 then I’d expect the film to to be feted rather than described as ‘ill-fated’. As for Kick-Ass 2 – it’s been added to that incredibly long and ever expanding list of disappointing sequels.

A Beginners Guide to 359 Music

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359-logo

You’re likely already aware that ex-Creation and Poptones head honcho Alan McGee is back with a new label called 359 Music, a joint venture with long established independent Cherry Red, which he’ll be running from the bedroom of his Hay-on-Wye home on his Blackberry and MacBook with help from Cherry Red’s London based Iain McNay, who McGee has been pally with since he was a young band member himself on the lookout for a record label deal.

In May, McGee invited MP3 submissions from unsigned bands, declaring that he would listen to each and every submission. Maybe if he’d known in advance that he’d be inundated with music from around 2,500 acts he might not have made that promise but he maintains that this wasn’t any kind of chore, claiming instead that hearing all those demos reminded him of just how much he loved new music.

So far he’s has signed over two dozen new acts with more to come and the first raft of releases have been announced with albums by John Lennon McCullagh (his real name and not a McGee invention), Chris Grant and Mineral all coming out in October and then a second batch of albums by Pete MacLeod, Gun Club Cemetery and Tess Parks following on in November. Interestingly, MacLeod, a Glaswegian singer/songwriter is the man credited with helping persuade McGee to get back into the business.

Radio Clyde’s Billy Sloan and Radio Scotland’s Janice Forsyth have been saying very nice things in recent weeks about him and if you fancy seeing what the fuss is all about he’s going to be playing at Glasgow’s ABC2 on the first of November.

Don’t expect 359 to be a Creation Mark II as Alan’s been keen to stress that he isn’t going out of his way to find another act that can replicate the success of Oasis (I’d far rather he found a My Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream or Jesus and Mary Chain myself anyway). ‘I’m doing this for me more than anybody else,’ he told the Daily Record earlier this week. ‘I think people will like them [the artists] but I have no idea if people will buy them because I haven’t put a record out since 2006. All I can say is the quality is high and I have only ever put out what I like. If that happens to hit the zeitgeist, brilliant.’

If you’re wondering about the name, 359 works on several different levels. 359 is one degree less than a complete revolution, Christmas falls on the 359th day of the year, and maybe most significantly for the man who has spent much of his spare time in the past few years studying the occultist Aleister Crowley, 359 is also, so I’m told, the secret name for the Egyptian God Horus according to Crowley’s The Book of Law.

Alan is additionally launching a regular 359 night in Liverpool’s District Club and the first of these is scheduled for the sixth of September.

Expect more on the man and 359 here in the run up to the label’s first releases and the publication early in November of McGee’s autobiography Creation Stories on Pan/MacMillan.

And finally, doesn’t that 359 logo remind you just a wee bit of this, the Postcard logo which itself is based on an illustration by famous Victorian cat artist Louis Wain.

Postcard Logo

Lovelace, Inside Deep Throat and Young Flesh Required

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Culturally for me, the past few days have consisted of watching two related films: the documentary Inside Deep Throat and the newly released Linda Lovelace biopic titled simply Lovelace. I’ve also been reading Young Flesh Required, a book that actually has nothing to do with porn unless you include Malcolm McLaren’s attempts to entice Russ Meyer into directing The Great Rock ’n’ Roll Swindle – this being co-written by Alan G. Parker and Mick O’Shea and subtitled Growing Up with The Sex Pistols.

Around forty years ago the movie Linda Lovelace was a phenomenon, described as ‘the trendsetting film that brought pornography into pop culture’ while its eponymous star was hailed as ‘the Poster Girl for the Sexual Revolution’. The biggest Hollywood celebs of the day like Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty went to see it, Jackie Onassis even went to see it, swathes of Americans must have taken in a screening because it’s still claimed to be the most commercially successful independent film ever made but before too long a backlash from the religious right and radical feminists had sprung up and the movie tried across the USA on obscenity charges.

Inside Deep Throat charts these important cultural shifts in Nixon era America and is the more highly recommended of the two. Lovelace is very watchable but its somewhat tricksy screenplay can’t quite escape the whiff of a misery memoir adapted for a made for TV daytime movie.

Certainly its stars Amanda Seyfried and Peter Sarsgaard both deliver fine performances and there’s a very strong supporting cast too that includes an almost unrecognisable Sharon Stone, Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire’s Gyp Rossetti) and one of Hollywood’s fastest rising stars, Juno Temple, who is coincidentally the daughter of Julien Temple, who eventually replaced Meyer as director of the aforementioned Great Rock ’n’ Roll Swindle.

And maybe this nugget of trivia triggered my subconscious to make connections, as I read Young Flesh Required, between the moral hypocrisy of Glaswegian councillors back in 1976 towards the prospect of the Anarchy in the U.K. tour visiting their city and their greater tolerance towards the films being shown at porn picture houses in the city at the time.

Glasgow never had a Times Square or even a Soho back in the 1970s but there did exist a thriving little network of seedy cinemas, the best known of these in 1976 being the Tatler Club on Sauchiehall Street, the Curzon on Charing Cross and Jamaica Street’s Classic Grand – which is only a few minutes walk down from the old Glasgow Apollo, where the Pistols, Heartbreakers, Damned and Clash were scheduled to play.

Occasionally politicians (and religious spokespeople) would hit out against these pornos but I don’t remember any of them ever being as vocal as they were about the supposed misbehaviour of The Sex Pistols, which at this point, before the arrival of Sid Vicious into their ranks, was relatively tame.

OK, encouraged by a hack, some potted plants were thrown around a hotel in Leeds earning the headline PUNK ROCK GROUP WRECK HOTEL but that’s probably as bad as things got on the delinquent-o-meter and remember this was an era where actually wrecking hotels was considered de rigueur among many rock acts – there were good reasons why Led Zeppelin’s favourite LA hotel the Continental Hyatt House was nicknamed the Riot House, so it’s safe to assume that the main problem with the Pistoleros was their ‘bad language’ on LWT’s Today Show.

Back then, swearing on television was considered by many to be utterly abhorrent while nowadays, for example, a man born in Johnstone, Gordon Ramsay could make anything Steve Jones said to Bill Grundy sound tame by comparison – fast forward thirty years from Grundy and the Queen was awarding Ramsay with an OBE at an investiture ceremony held at the Palace of Holyroodhouse and today Jonesy puffing away openly on a ciggy inside a TV studio might strike many as more outrageous than his choice of language.

The times have a-fucking changed; and to further prove this point, here’s a couple of ads placed on the same page of a local newspaper on the 2nd of December, 1976, the day after the Pistols gained instant notoriety throughout the land and by which time the possibility of the band being banned in Glasgow was already under discussion in the Scottish press.

Anarchy Tour adTatler Club ad

And here’s another ad for the for a pair of films shown the following summer around the time that Pretty Vacant became the second single by The Sex Pistols to make the top ten of the British singles chart.

Clssic_Grand_ad_26_7_77

Perhaps The Younger the Better is a film that examines when the ideal age is to learn a foreign language and School Girls For Sale, like Young Flesh Required, could conceivably have been given a misleading title but I doubt it and I’m not going to do any research into either film for obvious reasons.

I’m told too that the films being shown in these cinemas were all pretty much softcore but nevertheless, surely their content merited closer attention than the presence at the Apollo of Johnny Rotten, Steve Jones, Glen Matlock and Paul Cook (I won’t go into Malcolm McLaren’s Naked Boy T-shirt here).

The single Glasgow Anarchy date was, of, course not allowed to take place; the screenings went ahead, seven days per week.

Anybody crusading against porn flicks being shown in Glasgow or any other British towns or cities would achieve an entirely hollow victory over the next decade or so; the demise of the porno picture houses, though, owed nothing to the success of campaigns against them but was down to a purely commercial reason – the videocassette boom, which went from being the preserve of the rich in 1976 to becoming commonplace in households throughout the country during the ’80s.

The Classic somehow managed to limp into the early 1990s as the Cannon Grand but by the time of The Sex Pistols’ first ever Glasgow show at the SECC as part of their Filthy Lucre Tour in the summer of 1996 every one of the pornos had gone.

Nowadays the Classic Grand has been refurbished and operates as a Rock club, while in the latest in a stream of incarnations, the Tatler is now Club 520, which features graffiti from local artists on its walls and apparently is very popular with students, who mostly wouldn’t have been born back in its Tatler Club days when it advertised itself as an ‘uncensored movie club’.

A Wee Footnote: Young Flesh Required again repeats Johnny Rotten’s claim that it was Glasgow’s Lord Provost who came out with the ‘I feel we have enough problems in Glasgow without importing yobbos’ line but in reality it was Robert Gray, the Chairman of Glasgow District Council’s Licensing Committee who said this. Anyway, I prefer Johnny’s version so feel free to ignore this.

For Clash Fans Only (hopefully)

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Earlier this month, during an interview with John Wilson on Radio 4’s Front Row arts show, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Topper Headon all agreed that they wouldn’t be getting back together to play live.  Which is fine by me, I’m happy to live with my memories (see below). 
 
The Clash Apollo ad Nov 1977

It was announced earlier today though, that the guys will be reconvening again for a live interview on Friday the 6th of September with BBC 6Music’s Cerys Matthews, where no doubt they’ll discuss the new super duper deluxe box set, Sound System, a sprawling collection of material remastered from the original tapes by Mick Jones that contains just about everything the band ever recorded before the unloved Cut The Crap album, along with new essays, a DVD with previously unseen footage shot by Julien Temple and Don Letts, badges, reprints of fanzines and lots more – there’s even a paperback book designed in the style of a Penguin classic The Future is Unwritten – which actually consists only of blank pages. It’s out in September and here’s the first review.

For more information on the live interview and the chance to be part of the audience and possibly ask the guys a question: Cerys Matthews hosts an audience with The Clash .

Hopefully the bulk of the audience will be made up of real Clash fans rather than folk who maybe just fancy a trip to see the BBC’s Maida Vale studio and who at best only know a few radio favourites like London Calling or Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Doctor Who and The Dreamboys

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The idea of writing about Doctor Who in my first blog isn’t something I would ever have imagined doing until last week when Peter Capaldi, who unlike me, is a lifelong fan of the show, was confirmed to be replacing Matt Smith in the lead role. 

I first became aware of the new Doctor back in the late 70s and early 80s when he sang and played guitar in a Glasgow new wave outfit called The Dreamboys, who for a while could also count in their ranks as drummer Craig Ferguson, currently one of America’s most popular chat show hosts.

Nowadays Peter tends to downplay the idea of him ever having any chance of making a success of his musical career when he discusses his days as a Dreamboy and jokes about them being the only Glasgow band of the era not to be invited to do a John Peel session but back then I’d guess he took the band idea very seriously; they certainly gigged across Glasgow on a very regular basis and several fanzine writers tipped them for big things including a guy called Daniel Easson, who edited a very fine fanzine that he ran from the south side of the city called Fumes.

Unfortunately my copy of #4 from April 1980 doesn’t score too highly in the legibility stakes, especially the photos, but I’ve reproduced a page anyway, with a review of a show The Dreamboys played in March 1980 in a Glasgow venue called the Doune Castle, a hastily arranged gig where the lads replaced another local act Newspeak – who I was actually hoping to see that night – after they were forced into cancelling owing to their drummer catching glandular fever.

Obviously the situation wasn’t ideal and some of those there to see Newspeak left before or during The Dreamboy’s set (but not me, honestly!) which must have pissed off the future Malcolm Tucker, who didn’t, though, explode into a potty mouthed tirade at those joining in the exodus.

Gradually many of the audience were won over and the cheering increased as the set progressed, or at least I seem to remember that being the case but it was a long time ago.

If only I had a Tardis style time machine to take me back to that night.

‘If you have not seen them yet get to the next gig,’ the Fumes reviewer concludes, ‘and in particular look out for ‘cowboys’ ‘peggie sue’ and iggy pops ‘passenger’… you should not be disappointed…….’

As for Newspeak, if anybody’s wondering what happened to them, I’ll have to inform you that like Capaldi’s group, they also failed to make any kind of significant breakthrough. Come to think of it Peelie never invited them in for a session either.

I’m told, however, that a combo that the guitarist later joined are still proving pretty popular and that the former bassist is currently putting together a new music label which is currently gaining more than a little media attention.

So well done to Andrew Innes for his part in Primal Scream’s recent More Light album and good luck to Alan McGee with his new 359 Music label.