Paul Gorman is…

I Can’t Breathe: Pussy Riot with Richard Hell, Shahzad Ismaily (The Ceramic Dog), Scofferlane, Jack Wood, Andrew Wyatt + Nick Zinner

Feb 25th, 2015
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//Pussy Riot on the set of the promo video for I Can’t Breathe. Photo: Denis Sinyakov//

I received a message from Richard Hell: “Check out this wildness.”

So I did.

It’s I Can’t Breathe, Pussy Riot’s first English-language release, about the furore surrounding the death last year of Eric Garner.  Hell recites Garner’s final words on the track.

“It felt weird to speak the words of a black man killed by the police, when I’m this privileged white guy,” Hell told Pitchfork. “At the same time, I believe in Pussy Riot. I have faith in them. I think they’re for real.”

Read all about the recording of I Can’t Breathe here.

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Highly recommended: The unpindownable John Pidgeon’s blog

Feb 2nd, 2015
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//”This photograph was taken by Chris Morris in my bedroom at Commonwood Cottage in Downley village near High Wycombe in 1965 (when I swapped my mod life for university). I’m wearing an almost unwearably itchy John Stephen herringbone wool shirt. Apart from the Ricky Tick poster, I’d permanently pasted up two vintage London Transport posters I found in the attic. My old man wasn’t too pleased about that”. From http://johnpidgeon.com//

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//Front cover of Pidgeon’s 1974 book//

I highly recommend John Pidgeon’s blog; Pidgeon is another  favourite unpindownable figures in the cultural landscape. His considerable talents have been expressed from music journalism and magazine publishing through roadie-ing for The Faces and composing songs with their recently departed and already much missed keyboard maestro Ian McLagan to commissioning stunning design work from Barney Bubbles and producing BBC documentaries and radio comedy (and in the process promulgating the hit series Dead Ringers, Little Britain and The Mighty Boosh).
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Metamodernism: Post-irony, new forms of sincerity and informed naivety

Jan 17th, 2015

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What is Metamodernism?

In the 90s and the early 2000s it’s fair to say we grew up with a particular outlook on life, one of irony, of deconstruction and cynicism. This was noticeable in the music of Nirvana and Radiohead, in the books of Michel Houellebecq and Bret Easton Ellis, and we saw it in the arts with the YBAs and Jeff Koons. This is very much a sensibility that spoke to us, that we embraced.

That time was summed up by a sense of boredom in culture. This is it? And what now?

Throughout the 2000s we began noticing – as many people did and many have written about this – slight changes. First you get the complete reappraisal of writers such as David Foster Wallace, who started in the 90s but suddenly became big in the early 2000s. And you had sincere movies by Wes Anderson and Michel Gondry. This was all very different from the kind of stuff we grew up with. Something was changing. The irony of Nirvana, the desperation of Radiohead, the cynicism of Michel Houellebecq were replaced by something that was at once still cynical, still ironic and had an acknowledgement of how the world worked, but at the same time seemed to want more.

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Hawkwind’s Barney Bubbles-decorated gear to the fore in more photos from Windsor Free Festival

Jan 9th, 2015
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//Watched by the crowd, writers/poets/frontmen Robert Calvert and Michael Moorcock (left), drummer Simon King and bassist Lemmy prepare for lift off, August 25, 1973. Photo: Dave Walkling//

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//Detail of pic above showing Bubbles’ drumheads and speaker designs//

Following my post of photos from the free music festival at Windsor Great Park to the west of London in 1973, attendee Dave Walkling has sent a couple of sharp images which capture the anticipation in the crowd just before Hawkwind’s set.

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‘My records are about genuine fanatics, unstoppable, irresponsible lovers – I dedicate this album to fans of rock & roll’ Malcolm McLaren on Fans 1984

Jan 8th, 2015

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This album is titled Fans. It’s about wearing your emotion on your sleeve, just as fans scream out from the audience or want to get on stage so they can kiss him or are terrified they’re going to have a nervous breakdown if he don’t come round the corner and sit beside them. They all bear the frustration… we’re all fans waiting to jump out.

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Astounding Barney Bubbles rarity: An amazing Hawkwind drumhead

Jan 8th, 2015
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//Drumhead painted by Barney Bubbles in 1972. Photo: (c)//

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//From left: Nik Turner, Stacia Blake, Simon King and Lemmy during Hawkwind’s set at the Windsor Free Festival on August 25, 1973. Note the drumhead on the left. Photographer: Unknown//

A rare design by the late graphics master Barney Bubbles has come to light after four decades; the psychedelic sci-fi drumhead was painted for Hawkwind when the space rocking Sonic Assassins undertook tours around the world following their success with the Silver Machine single in 1972.

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The post-hippie/glam/space rock mix-up: Alun Anderson’s beguiling photographs from the 1973 Windsor Free Festival

Jan 7th, 2015
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//Photo: Alun Anderson//

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//Photo: Alun Anderson//

“When these photographs were taken, everything about them was everyday and unexceptional. These were the clothes we wore, the Hawkwind festivals that filled our summers, the drugs we took, the love we had, the way we moved. Only looked at from a distance does something extraordinary seem to emerge. Whether it is possible to live in the present with this view of what is around you, I don’t know.”
Alun Anderson, 2015

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Jah Wobble talks Bohemian Chelsea, Aswad, Hawkwind, Sid VIcious and selling his Metal Box bass to the JAMC

Dec 4th, 2014

wobbleThis is nice; pal and fellow Chelsea Arts Club member John Wardle talks about the importance of the immediate neighbourhood, its artistic tradition going back to the likes of Whistler, the licentiousness of the Cremorne Pleasure Gardens in Victorian times, the Bohemian atmosphere engendered by the 70s slums around the Lots Road Power Station and how all of this combined to create the breeding ground for punk.

John also talks about his love for Hawkwind, Sid Vicious, how he sold the bass he played on Metal Box to the Jesus & Mary Chain for a drink and why he should really have done the interview topless…

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Zippo Records: 13th Floor Elevators mural, Cope’s Droolian LP, MC5’s motherfuckers tee + The Conqueroo Dog

Sep 18th, 2014
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//13th Floor Elevators mural inside Zippo Records, Clapham Park, south-west London, mid-80s, courtesy Pete Flanagan//

Pete Flanagan, owner of the long-gone Zippo Records in Clapham, south London, has sent me this photograph of the shop interior.

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//Front cover, Droolian, Julian Cope, Zippo/Mofoco, 1989//

It sums up everything that was wonderful about this unique space, where Pete established a hub for like-minded souls. With staff including Edwin Pouncey (aka Savage Pencil), Pete also released otherwise hard-to-find records via his own independent imprints. These included Heartland, 5 Hours Back and MoFoCo for Julian Cope’s towering LP Droolian.

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//Droolian’s back cover//

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//Zippo’s distinctive price label (this from The Many Faces Of Gale Garnett, an obscure 1965 release on RCA)//

I bought a lot of music and also an example of every one of the short-run t-shirts Zippo sold, including my favourite, this MC5 number (other owners, and there can’t be many because they were printed in very limited numbers, include Bobby Gillespie).

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As a local I was a Zippo regular with our Battersea hound Tom. Pete christened him “The Conqueroo Dog” after the four-legged friend on the cover of his reissue of the Austin band’s 1968 release From The Vulcan Gas Company.

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//Front cover, From The Vulcan Gas Company, The Conqueroo, 1968/reissued 1987 on 5 Hours Back//

When Zippo closed I bought a whole load of stock and had a few happy years trading in vinyl as a sideline, until my back gave out.

Pete’s still at it, running Soho Music which is now on eBay – see here.

I bumped into Edwin P a couple of years back; he was in the company of another great person who was also a former Zippo staffer. Can’t for the life of me recall his name but hopefully he’ll see this and get in touch.

See what Savage Pencil is up to here.

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Sleevenotes: “Jumping Jesus, my old man was brilliant. It’s back for another scream in the closet” Ki-Longfellow Stanshall for the PoppyDisc reissue of Men Opening Umbrellas Ahead

Sep 1st, 2014

beasht“What’s to say, save that his contempt was not reserved solely for the music business? Or the art business. Or the business of being human. There were times when he saw with his own dead eyes. But he had the sight to see through them.”

K-LS on the album’s opening track Afoju Ti Ole Riran (Dead Eyes)

Ki-Longfellow Stanshall’s sleevenotes for the 2012 reissue of the lost classic Men Opening Umbrellas Ahead are stunning, filled with anguish and joy, rather like the life and work of the LP’s creator, her much-missed partner Vivian Stanshall.

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I treasure my vinyl copy, put out with much love by my old mucker Joe Foster, and heartily recommend the Afro-flavoured grooves Stanshall brewed up back in 1974 with such fellow legends as Reebop Kwaku Baah, Jim Capaldi, Neil Innes, Gaspar Lawal and Steve Winwood.

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//The PoppyDisc reissue recreates the sleeve artwork of the Warner 1974 release: Cover drawing by Peter Till//

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//Back cover of original release. Photo: Barrie Wentzell//

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Buy a copy of PoppyDisc’s vinyl reissue of Men Opening Umbrellas Ahead here.

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