Tag Archives | Pop Culture

It Was 50 years Ago Today: The North Of England Taught the Band to Play…

Picture: US LOC (PD)

The 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ UK release of “Love Me Do” is being celebrated by a number of media outlets here including The BBC and The Guardian. The latter carries a great article which reprints a 1963 review of the UK’s first home grown contemporary global pop phenomenon:

Written across the front of St George’s Hall, Liverpool (a building dear to the heart of John Betjeman), are huge chalked letters declaring: “I Love the Beatles.” There is hardly anything cryptic about this declaration to anyone who has ever viewed Juke Box Jury, listened to Pick of the Pops, or fathered a teenage daughter, for in the last six months the Beatles have become the most popular vocal-instrumental group in Britain, and as everyone with any pretension towards mass culture should know, the Beatles are from Liverpool.

In fact, there is a connection between Liverpool and the four young musicians that seems to go deeper than pride for hometown boys; something, perhaps deep in the mysterious well of English and especially northern working-class sentimentality.

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The Music Of L. Ron Hubbard

It's little known that L. Ron Hubbard left behind a body of musical compositions, lyrics, and sound experiments intended as a soundtrack for the Battlefield Earth series and to promote the ethos of Scientology. John Travolta, teenybopper heartthrob Leif Garrett, and Frank Stallone, all heard singing below, were part of a Scientology super-group who recorded an album of Hubbard-penned songs in 1986. An odder, alternate version of "Road to Freedom" features L. Ron himself crooning in a low, booming voice, with the track retitled "L'Envoi, Thank You for Listening." Two stanzas include: You are not mind or chemicals / You don't even have a form / You're in a trap of senseless lies / It's time to be reborn. / To you there is no limit / Knowledge is your key / Take the route of auditing / And once again be free.
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An Oral History Of Gay Punk

It’s exciting when something happens in the news that reminds you how subversive punk rock can be. Via OUT, a conversation featuring remembrances from Bruce LaBruce, Hüsker Dü’s Bob Mould, and numerous notable others about a movement which changed the world, whether people know it or not:

The Queercore scene grew out of a generation that bristled against what it saw as the bourgeois trappings of a mainstream gay lifestyle and the macho, hetero hardcore scene that punk — a movement founded by women, people of color, and gays — had become. It started out as a loose collective, trading fanzines and letters, and evolved to include dozens of bands.

There was a gay element to early punk, such as the Los Angeles group The Germs — whose singer was the closeted Darby Crash—as well as Seattle transplants The Screamers, The Apostles in the U.K., and, in Texas, The Dicks.

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Deceased Beastie Boy MCA’s Will Prevents His Being Used In Advertising, For Eternity

A brilliant final touch from Adam Yauch, who inserted an integrity clause into his will to prevent his music from ever being co-opted — if only other cultural icons past had thought to do this. Via DNAinfo:

Late Beastie Boys member MCA made sure he would never be a corporate sellout — even in the afterlife. The pioneering rapper, whose real name is Adam Yauch, instructed in his will that his image, music and any art he created could not be used for advertising, saving himself from the fate of other deceased musicians whose faces and songs have become corporate shills.

It’s unclear whether Yauch’s will would prevent his bandmates from ever selling the music they wrote together to advertisers. Yauch’s lawyer and a spokesman for the Beastie Boys did not respond to requests for comment. Yauch died May 4 at the age of 47 from salivary cancer.

Corporations have regulalry enlisted deceased musicians, celebrities and historical figures in ads.

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Pussy Riot’s Closing Statement Denounces ‘Totalitarian System’

The eloquent and defiant closing statement from band member Yekaterina Samutsevich in the Pussy Riot trial explains the meaning (which Americans might not have understood) behind the punk band’s acts of art. Via chtodelat, translated:

I now have mixed feelings about this trial. On the one hand, we now expect a guilty verdict. Compared to the judicial machine, we are nobodies, and we have lost. On the other hand, we have won. Now the whole world sees that the criminal case against us has been fabricated. The system cannot conceal the repressive nature of this trial.

During the closing statement, the defendant is expected to repent or express regret for her deeds, or to enumerate attenuating circumstances. In my case, as in the case of my colleagues in the group, this is completely unnecessary.

The fact that Christ the Savior Cathedral had become a significant symbol in the political strategy of our powers that be was already clear to many thinking people when Vladimir Putin’s former [KGB] colleague Kirill Gundyaev took over as head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

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Lost Classics Of Right Wing Folk Music

CONELRAD keeps alive the memory of one of the strangest of pop music subgenres--conservatism-themed folk music artists of the 1960s who were promoted in an unsuccessful attempt to counter the Bob Dylans and Peter Paul & Marys of the scene. Perhaps most fascinating is Janet Greene, a former children's television personality in Ohio who was discovered by the right wing organization Christian Anti-Communism Crusade, which had Greene record a series of propagandistic songs and marketed her as the "anti-Joan Baez".  The most entertaining work in her catalogue is "Poor Left Winger", a tale of woe concerning a naive girl seduced by a communist beatnik "bearded singer" mocked for his "espresso", "demonstrations", and dirty shirt:
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Damnation’s Eternal Soundtrack

Sean Beaudoin lists the ten bands he’ll be forced to listen to in hell, at Salon (thanks to Richard Luckett for the link):

I’m going to hell. You know it and I know it. But I’m fairly sure it’s not going to be of the William Blake-etching variety. There will be no eternal fire, three-headed dogs, or seas of percolating sinners. There will be no cloven hooves or torture racks or rounds of cribbage with Pol Pot and Hitler. No, my hell will almost certainly take place in a windowless basement room buried deep in the purgatorial nethers. The ceilings and walls will be slathered an institutional shit-brown. I will be in the center of a wet cement floor, Duct-taped to a broken lawn chair, with old Victrola megaphones stuffed in each ear.

And I will sit there. Forever.

Listening to scratchy mp3s at top volume.

For untold millennia.

Not only do I know this treatment is coming, I know I deserve it.

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The Military-Entertainment Complex Hits Summer Cinema Screens

What do you get when the Pentagon joins into a symbiotic relationship with our major entertainment industries? The birthing of the ever-growing baby that we call militainment. The military grants filmmakers access to high-powered technology and in return, Hollywood propagates films that make warfare seem legitimate. Al Jazeera discusses Act of Valor, an $80-million-grossing action film released earlier this year which was commissioned by the Navy’s Special Warfare Command and goes "beyond propaganda":
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