An Afternoon Without Keith Haring

On Sunday I spent much of the day in converted industrial spaces at art and music events. The afternoon event was organised by Dave Haslam, the man near the centre of much of what has been happening here since the mid 1980s. He’s recently written a short book about Haring, and with the exhibition at the Tate Liverpool running at the same time, put together some events to celebrate Keith’s life and to raise some money for AIDS and art charities. The venue was Fairfeld Social Club, a large, double arched space underneath the railway at the back of Piccadilly Station- a really good use of a post- industrial space with a very welcoming feel. There were DJs playing 1980s New York tunes, live music from a singer called Husk, an In Conversation With… Q and A with Samantha McEwen (who met Keith at college and shared a flat with him in NY in the early 80s), a recreation of Keith Haring painting Grace Jones (minus both Keith and Grace but with willing stand ins and it wasn’t warm in there so hats off to the Teneille ), live painting in the style of Keith Haring by graffiti artist Boo Whorlow, an auction of the paintings and a Haring t-shirt and some energetic and passionate live poetry.

This Grace Jones from her 1981 album Nightclubbing and a track which speaks for itself.

Art Groupie

In the evening I went to The White Hotel in Salford to see Thurston Moore. Of which, more to follow.

 

Shoes With No Socks In Cold Weather

In their fortieth year A Certain Ratio have gone all out and are set to release an anniversary box set in May, twenty eight tracks making up the singles and B-sides that weren’t included on any of their albums and sixteen previously unreleased songs. You can read about it here. Ahead of this they have just put this out, the semi-legendary results of the time in 1980 that ACR, Martin Hannett and Grace Jones assembled in Stockport’s Strawberry Studios to record a cover version of Talking Heads’ Houses In Motion. In the end Grace never completed her vocal for the track so Jez Kerr’s guide vocals are used instead (from a period when Jez wasn’t even ACR’s singer yet). How this has managed to lie unreleased for nearly four decades is something of a mystery but now it’s here and, as they say, better late than never, the Eno- produced New York funk of Talking Heads transplanted across the Atlantic to a side street in northern England at the start of the 80s. Taut bass, monotone vocal, congas and some stunning distorted, choppy guitar playing from Martin Moscrop before those wonderful, off key horns.

The video is completely new but fits the general vibe perfectly. The song is the from the vaults find of the year so far.

Drive It In Between

An extended version of Grace Jones’ 1981 single is a good way to start the day even if this steamy, sweltering track seems most inappropriate for a Wednesday in late November. The bass is taut, the rhythm rolls, the guitars are choppy, the car horns are honking. Grace is sultry and insistent. Seven minutes twenty six seconds of New York in the early 80s. I’ve just noticed from the internet that we share a birthday, me and Grace Jones (May 19th).

Pull Up To The Bumper (12″ Mix)

Walking In The Rain

I’ve been listening to Grace Jones’ 1981 album Nightclubbing recently, something about its grooves and atmosphere fit in just right with this extended spell of sunshine we’ve had up here in the north. The opening track Walking In The Rain (a cover of a song by an Australian group called Flash And The Pan) is a powerful opener, driven on by the jawdropping rhythm skills of Sly and Robbie- I could happily listen to a version of this album that was just Sly and Robbie sometimes. Grace’s delivery is bold and the guitars add menace and drama, gathering storm clouds. The rain Grace is walking in isn’t fine Mancunian drizzle or British bank holiday downpour, this is steamy monsoon rain. There’s a seven minutes plus 12″ version that’s worth having a look at too.

Walking In The Rain

We Learn Dances, Brand New Dances

I’m not sure if this is a 1977 themed week or an Iggy Pop themed week. Or if it’s a theme week at all. In 1981 Grace Jones covered Nightclubbing, from Iggy’s The Idiot- it was the name of the album as well as a cover of the song. Rhythm kings Sly and Robbie on bass and drums root the whole thing in dub coupled with a New Wave sheen and some hiss. In Iggy’s version he’s in the nightclub but dazed and distanced, an outsider looking in, numbed by party drugs. In this version Grace is imperious, glacial, in the middle of the dancefloor.

Nightclubbing

45 RPM

Tonight I am spinning records at a friends 45th birthday party in Sheffield. His initials are RPM and so the theme of the party became evident to us a few years ago- 45 RPM.

All the guests have been instructed to bring a 7″ single with them, which I will play (or not possibly, I have some boundaries and standards after all). I’m bringing some extras from my collection as a) back up and b) to ensure dancing takes place later on. I’m boxing up some 12″ singles where there are required tunes that I only have on 12″ and hey, we make the rules, we can break them can’t we? I may take a 10″ or two as well. But mainly it’s about 7″ 45 rpm singles. What about 12″ singles that play at 33 rpm I hear you ask? I don’t know. Depends what they are I suppose.

I fear some guests may bring some ‘funny’ records. There’s a balance to be struck between ‘fun’ and fun. And I’m attempting to take charge of that balance. No I will not play your Barron Knights single- well, maybe later, if there’s time * drops Barron Knights single behind radiator*.

It’s nice to be getting the gear and records together again after a good time off from this sort of thing. Having missed 33 RPM it gives us a dry run for 78 as well. In the unlikely event that anyone reading this is attending the party, see you there. For no particular reason other than I just found it in my downloads folder, here is Grace Jones.

Pull Up To The Bumper (12″ mix)