Isolation Mix Three

It’s over halfway through April already. The weeks seem to be flying by even though some of the days seem very long. This is Isolation Mix Three. I thought I’d do something different from the ambient, blissed out, opiated sounds of the first two mixes and this mix is something that I first wrote about doing in a post here about three years ago. This is an hour and three minutes of spoken word and poetry and music. Andrew Weatherall features in various guises and with various poets, the Beat Generation and The Clash are represented, there’s some reggae and the unmistakable voice of John Cooper Clarke.

Jack Kerouac/Joe Strummer: MacDougal Street Blues

John Cooper Clarke: Twat

Misty In Roots: Introduction to Live At The Counter Eurovision

Linton Kwesi Johnson: Inglan Is A Bitch

The Clash (and Allen Ginsberg): Ghetto Defendant (Extended Version)

Allen Ginsberg/ Tom Waits: Closing Time/America

Andrew Weatherall and Michael Smith: The Deep Hum (At The Heart Of It All)

Joe Gideon and The Shark: Civilisation

Woodleigh Research Facility and Joe Duggan: Downhill

Fireflies and Joe Duggan: Leonard Cohen Knows

BP Fallon and David Holmes: Henry McCullough (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

Mike Garry and Joe Duddell: St Anthony: An Ode To Anthony H Wilson (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

Allen Ginsberg: I Am A Victim Of Telephone

Kissing The Cotton Clouds

Shari Denson, friend of mine I’ve never met but know on Facebook, is a photographer and has taken loads of great pictures of bands playing in and around Manchester. Last year she put on a one- off exhibition in a slate park under the Mancunian Way which I missed but looked really good. A week ago on Facebook she posted this picture, a shot taken at Cotton Clouds festival a couple of years ago. Shari asked ‘does anyone recognise either of these gorgeous folk?’

It is a stunning photograph, a moment in time caught. I don’t know which band the couple are watching, it looks like daytime so presumably a band lower down the bill. They’re a good looking couple, photogenic and sexy and they embody that freedom you have when you’re young. He is caught up in the performance happening to the left of the picture, she has noticed the camera and glanced at the shutter, looking straight at us. Both are in the moment, together but with a different focus. Some of Shari’s friends said the woman looks a bit like Madonna and the man like Jeff Buckley. Another suggested it could be from an 80s film, this one maybe…

Shari said that if she were her, she’d want the picture printed and on the wall, ready to show her grand-kids in several decades time. This generation have so many photographs of themselves, they document themselves and their lives constantly almost without thinking about it. I’ve got very few photos from my teens or twenties. We only really started taking photographs regularly when we had children. Selfies weren’t really a thing until phones and cameras became brought together in one object.

Since the original thread a week ago I think the man has been identified but on the night she posted it another friend Karen said that in some ways she hoped they wouldn’t be found, that she liked their anonymity, she didn’t want to know who they were- ‘Mystery is everything sometimes, right?’ In some ways I agree- without names they are a kind of every couple, young and unfettered.

Karen said that when the couple who were in the famous photo in Times Square at the end of World War II were named and their stories known it ruined the photo for her. Both lived into their nineties. The woman, Greta Friedman, said that the sailor, George Mendonsa, didn’t ask to kiss her, he just grabbed her. According to Greta it wasn’t romantic, more a drunken celebration, and today that strikes a very different tone.

Times Square: Sailor and nurse kissing in iconic WWII photograph ...

More happily, the couple from the sleeve of the Woodstock album were found forty years later and happily were still together.

It also made me think of this photo taken in New York in the mid- 1940s,a snapshot of Hal Chase, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs near Columbia University. One of the books I’ve read about the Beats, it might have been Carolyn Cassady’s autobiography, wrote about this picture and said that the only person who is in the moment is Jack, meeting the gaze of the lens. Hal is looking at Allen, Allen has his eyes closed, frozen slightly, Burroughs too. Jack is there, alive and looking back at us, tuned it. Shari’s photo is similar- a better photo too- him intensely looking elsewhere and her looking down the camera at us.

Cotton Clouds takes place, or took place, at Saddleworth near Oldham and has been played by The Coral, Sugarhill Gang and Nick Heywood in 2017, Sister Sledge, Starsailor and The Orielles the following year and Peter Hook, Alabama 3, The Wailers and Tim Burgess last August. I think the promoters have since gone into administration and it probably wouldn’t have happened this year anyway.

I’m assuming that Cotton Clouds was named after the line in Elephant Stone, a song that is one of The Stone Roses finest moments. I’d take Elephant Stone over the entire Second Coming album, it’s unaffected, weightless and heady-

‘Burst into heaven
Kissing the cotton clouds
Arctic sheets and fields of wheat
I can’t stop coming down’

Elepahnt Stone is a technicolour burst of northern psychedelic, the words and guitars in a rush to unfold and Reni’s drums driving everything on, the sound surfacing only for a breather with the ‘seems like there’s a hole/in my dreams’ before diving back in again.

Elephant Stone 12″ Mix

 

Tristessa

On Saturday night while The Chemical Brothers were block rocking the Other Stage at Glastonbury talk on Twitter turned to the then Dust Brothers 1994 Xmas Dust Up, a cassette given away free with the NME in December 1994. The tape was mixed by Ed and Tom, a window rattling, volume- all-the-way-up, seven song mixtape.

Side 1
The Dust Brothers- Leave Home
Bonus Beats Orchestra- Bonus Beats
The Prodigy- Voodoo People (Dust Brothers Remix)
Depth Charge- Shaolin Buddha Finger

Side 2
Renegade Soundwave- Renegade Soundwave (Leftfield remix)
Strange Brew- One Summer (‘Lektrik Dawn Dub)
Manic Street Preachers- La Tristessa Durera

Image result for dust brothers xmas dust up

Just looking at the sleeve and reading the tracklist transports me back to this cassette causing difficulties for the speakers in a red Nissan Micra back in 94/95- it used to get played a lot for a while.

Bonus Beats Orchestra was Tom and Ed Dust/Chemical under another name. Depth Charge were ace, the 9 Deadly Venoms album was trip hop and big beat before either really got going, and chock full of samples from martial arts films and horror movies. I’ve posted Renegade Soundwave before and the Leftfield remix is particularly good. Strange Brew were a duo from Manchester, one half of whom, Jake Purdy, lived down our street when we were kids. We’d long lost touch by the mid 90s but used to knock around in a gang all the time in the mid 80s. Funny to have a little childhood, local connection with a free NME cassette. Helpfully someone has transferred their copy of the tape digitally and uploaded it to Youtube. The beats sound quite timelocked but as a whole this still sounds fairly fresh I think.

The Dust Brothers would become The Chemical Brothers not long afterwards. Their remix of La Tristessa Durera was done while still Dust and isn’t subtle-  squealing noises from the start, various samples from Ed and Tom’s pile of odds and ends, lots of sirens and James’ vocal. La Tristessa Durera- the sadness endures forever- was written by Richie taking the point of view of a war veteran wheeled out once a year on Poppy Day as a ‘cenotaph souvenir’, poverty causing him to sell his medal. It is one of the best early Manics songs, showing behind the eyeliner, shock quotes and bluster there was some genuine talent.

La Tristessa Durera (From A Scream To A Sigh) (Chemical [Dust] Brothers Remix)

Whither Goest Thou America?

I appreciate that here in the UK we don’t have too much room to shout at the moment, being led as we are by the most incompetent government since the end of the Second World War who are attempting to put into law, by most reckonings, the most disastrous political decision any major western country has taken in the same period. But, as the question at the top of the post asks, ‘whither goest thou, America?’ When Jack Kerouac asked the question in On The Road it was in a different context but still, the question stands.

In the last two weeks alone Trump has-
* legitimised a brutal dictator who uses torture and murder against his own people, orders assassinations of those in his government who he falls out with and who has used forced starvation to bring the population to heel.
* professed admiration for this dictator, praising him as a a man whose people listen when he speaks and said he wants the same form the American people
* removed the USA from the United Nations Committee on Human Rights because it criticises Israeli policies against the Palestinian people
* continued to support a policy that has led to toddlers being imprisoned in cages on the USA’s southern border

This is the normalisation of anti-democratic practices by the US government. We know from history where this leads. It’s never too late to shout about it. One of the things David Byrne talked about between songs on Monday night was about how at his shows in the US they had a table in the foyer to register people to vote there and then, and about how important it is to get people to engage, to vote in local elections and national ones. It beats ‘Hi, how are you?’ (response usually a big cheer) and ‘this is a new one’ (response, a trip to the bar or the toilet). Unless Trump abolishes elections in the next 2 years (as his new friend in North Korea might advise), he is removable and defeatable. Same over here. We’ve got to rid of these people. The chorus of this 2006 Jarvis Cocker song is truer now than it was when he wrote it…

Running The World

‘ I mean, man, whither goest thou? Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?” “Whither goest thou?’

In 1997 an album called Joy Kicks Darkness was released, a spoken word tribute to Kerouac by artists including Michael Stipe, Lydia Lunch, Patti Smith, Thurston Moore, John Cale and Juliana Hatfield and also featuring surviving Beats like Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. This track is Joe Strummer and Jack Kerouac together.

MacDougal Street Blues

And Don’t You Come Back No More

Today’s song is from the mid 1970s, roots and rockers reggae’s golden period, and celebrated deejay Big Youth (pulling a wheelie too- I could never get the hang of that). Hit The Road Jack was written by Percy Mayfield in 1960, possibly inspired by Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (but opinions seem to differ on this). Ray Charles had a hit with it in 1961 duetting with Margie Hendricks- she kicks him out cos ‘it’s understood, he’s got no money, he’s no good’. Big Youth recorded his version in 1977- the year two sevens clash.

Hit The Road Jack

Good Woman

Ages ago a friend lent me a Cat Power lp- I can’t remember which one but I listened to it and decided it really wasn’t my cuppa tea. I don’t think I stuck with it very long. I found this clip recently- footage of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg hanging around the streets of New York in 1959, soundtracked by Cat Power’s Good Woman. Which I now love. The vocal and ever-so-distorted guitars, and with some lovely backing vocals. Some plucked strings, a dash of harmonica maybe. The right side of melancholic.

It’s good when a completely different context allows you to hear something differently and get a different response. I may have to go  and buy the album.

Good Woman

Death Letter, Hot Water

We are into day 5 of enforced Victorian living- come and film us Channel 4. Our boiler stopped working on Sunday- no central heating or hot water all day. It is not easy to fill a bath with the kettle and a few pans. The boilerman came on Monday and said our expander unit had popped causing the system to trip out. He’s ordered a new one but no sign of it yet. We have two portable radiators and an electric fan heater Mrs Swiss had when I first met her (and it wasn’t new then). On Sunday night we bathed at friends. Boilerman did a temporary fix for us, emptying the kitchen radiator to act as an expander unit. This has, since Monday evening, provided intermittent heat and some hot water. Some as in not enough. I got those faulty boiler blues.

Son House’s blues song Death Letter plays in the film of On The Road and hearing it on the big screen last week reminded me of its power and beauty. Two clips for you…

This one, undated, but I’m guessing 1950s (?)

And this one from 1970…

And without wanting to come across as one of those authenticity blues bores, they just go to show that lights, staging, films and projections, heck, even having a guitar that’s in tune, are all a little superfluous at times.

On The Road Again

I went to see On The Road the day before yesterday, on my own in the afternoon. I dunno if this is the best way to go to the cinema or just a bit sad. The day before I took the 9 year old daughter to see Ice Age 4. I think On The Road shaded it. I enjoyed it, despite what the critics have said. It is a tad overlong and there is a coffee table element to the jazz and the clothes and the good looking cast and there is also a little truth in the reviews that said watching people drink, take drugs and have sex is pretty boring but even so I thought it was a good effort and better than I’d been led to believe. The film looks good, the scenery frequently stunning, the period details spot on, the cinematography beautiful. Sam Riley is good as Sal Paradise, the eternal observer looking for stuff to write about and on a search for kicks, but I half expected him to turn into Ian Curtis at any moment and start doing the jerky dance. Tom Sturridge (Carlo Marx/Allen Ginsberg) steals most of the scenes he’s in despite some clunky scripting and the female leads of Kristen Stewart and Kirsten Dunst are excellent. Mostly though, for a film based on a book that has narrative but no real plot, no three act formula, no twist, no denouement, none of the things that ‘make’ a film, I thought it worked. It was watchable, funny, absorbing in parts, and to me (no film critic admittedly) Walter Salles made a decent job of a book long considered unfilmable.

Ice Age 4 tells the continuing story of three animated prehistoric friends- a sabre toothed tiger called Diego,a woolly mammoth called Manny and a sloth called Sid. The continents are drifting apart leading to all kinds of japes and capers, plus there’s a crew of animal pirates and a teenage mammoth called Peaches learning about friendship.

Friday Afternoon In The Universe

Beatnik Monday

Jack Kerouac and Joe Strummer together from a 1997 album Joy Kicks Darkness where a load of indie beat types set Kerouac to music. Sure to put a spring in your step this morning. Or a shuffle.

MacDougal Street Blues

The Only People For Me Are The Mad Ones

I first read On The Road in the summer of 1989, aged 19. I loved it. It didn’t get me hitch-hiking across North America but I went on to read loads of other Kerouac novels, biographies, and then onwards into Burroughs, Ginsberg and the rest. Kerouac’s work is full of contradictions- some of it is almost unreadable (Dr Sax say), some of it just has to be read for the writing rather than any sense of narrative. He famously typed On The Road in a three week Benzadrine fuelled binge on a non-stop roll of paper. It had to be widely edited to make any narrative sense. For all the wanderlust and adventures and search for kicks, he spent his life with the apron strings to his mother firmly uncut. He tried to balance the booze, partying and excitement with a spiritual quest, settling for Buddhism and his own version of Zen. When fame hit him, ten years after writing the book, he soon found he couldn’t cope. Held up by the hippies as the King of the Beats he criticised, even loathed, the 60s counter culture and died an alcoholic in front of the TV in Florida. But the sense of freedom in his best writing, the lyrical nature of the verse, the attempt to ‘write jazz’, the trip to Mexico in On The Road, The Dharma Bums, parts of Desolation Angels, are all beautiful and romantic and inspiring.

Long considered unfilmable, Walter Salles, has had a go at it (starring Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst and Viggo Mortensen). The trailer below looks right but you just can’t tell from a trailer how good a film is going to be. It got mixed reviews at Cannes in the summer. I’m kind of looking forward to it when it gets released this December.

Kerouac recorded several albums, sometimes reading his work alone, sometimes reading it accompanied by jazz musicians.

Jack Kerouac Reading On The Road