Tag Archives: bad brains

BANNED IN D.C.

I’m almost speechless. Just bashing out “FUCK TRUMP” here would be trite and I feel like social media avatar activism is part of what got us into this shit storm. Hopefully we’ve not become so desensitised to the cause of the moment that we rant and break stuff until the new Emoji update distracts us. It’ll get a lot worse before it gets better.

Unbelievable.

One tiny sliver of positivity in this fuck up is the inevitable anger-driven art that will emerge. With that absolute dickhead set to make D.C. his home, let’s focus on a D.C. legend who helped make masterpieces under Reagan’s reign — the trailer for the Finding Joseph I documentary about the erratic, brilliant, troubled Bad Brains frontman did the rounds a couple of years ago, but there’s a new excerpt out there now via Small Axe and it looks very promising indeed. Continue reading BANNED IN D.C.

NOSTALGIA FOR ANTI-NOSTALGIA

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Most things that are given a punk prefix are pretty terrible. Right now — in an era of carefully curated nihilism — brands and contemporary culture seem to be trying to poorly resurrecting a packaged version of the spirit that inspired Malcolm McLaren all those years ago. They want to be GG Allin but most seem to be coming off more like the moody kid from the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie wearing his Sid Vicious tee in the bad guys’ warehouse with the ramp and video games. Continue reading NOSTALGIA FOR ANTI-NOSTALGIA

A POLISH BAD BRAINS DOCUMENTARY

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I have no idea how this went under the radar for me, but StryjekeL upped this obscurity onto YouTube a few months back. It’s a Polish documentary on Bad Brains that aired in early 1995 — apparently it was upped from a flea market find VHS tape. You can murmur about the lineup from this period not being a real Bad Brains all you like, with a lack of H.R. but even footage of the Rise era is a great document of an era. Plus, Chuck Treece is the man. Later that year, the original lineup would return for about five minutes before breaking up again.

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Once again, i haven’t got much to talk about on here today (freelance duties are taking over), so I’ll completely cop-out and throw up another The Face magazine scan from 1999. It puts my mind at rest that I’ve at least blogged something.

If it’s a tenuous link you’re craving to at least mildly relate this to a current project, a Kickstarter drive to raise enough dollars to fund a documentary about HR from Bad Brains and his eccentric ways. ‘HR “Finding Joseph I” could be good if it at least gets to the bottom of the greatest band frontman of all time’s (in his day) psyche. Is he schizophrenic, an eccentric or are the crack rumours true? I know he spent some time living in a legendary streetwear brand’s warehouse, but the tales of his time out between lineups and shows are patchy and I’m hunting for answers. This trailer has done the blog rounds in the last 48 hours, so I feel it’s my duty to link to something good as an addition to this — the entire festival cut of the documentary Bad Brains: A Band in DC is on Vimeo right here and it’s excellent. There’s an animated sequence depicting their tour bus being jacked in the early days, conversations with key characters from their past, some ultra candid footage of Daryl switching on HR after a duff performance in 2006, talk of that infamous Big Boys incident, those troubled Maverick days, but amid the chaos there’s a celebration of a unique group that inspired a generation to pick up guitars and make noise, plus a great observation regarding Bernard Purdie and Earl Hudson’s unflappable delivery of rhythm. If you haven’t watched it yet then you really owe it to yourself to take 104 minutes out of your fake busy schedule to educate yourself, because A Band in DC was well worth the wait. While it’s comprehensive, at its conclusion, the HR enigma will play on your mind and that’s where Small Axe Films’ mooted creation fits in perfectly as a follow-up.

In this MTV 120 Minutes interview (minus HR), Daryl Jenifer appears to be wearing the Air Jordan IV to reiterate the Jordan line’s connection to hardcore. That shoe features heavily in the this feature from The Face. The Jordan Years was co-written by Fraser Cooke and, while a sub-editor seems to have made some questionable decisions in the bylines and that quintessentially British decision to omit some of the stranger Jordans pre and post 1995 is there (it’s also curious that the Jordan V and VI never got a picture) there’s some good facts in there too, plus some much-deserved love for the overlooked Jordan XI Low IE (International Exclusive) and talk of its “inspiration” on the Prada shoe of the time as well as some talk with Tinker Hatfield. At the time, this kind of thing was more commonly seen in Japanese publications, so picking it up in WH Smiths was a major novelty.

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On the apparel front, the white hoody from the new Ralph Lauren Wimbledon Collection that’s adorned with an old English font (in an appropriate shade of green) wouldn’t look amiss in an Eazy-E video over a Rhythum D production (alongside goons sporting the Karl Kani check shirt with the chest plate) if he was repping SW19 rather than Compton.

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WINNER

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It’s a film-related blog entry today rather than the usual clothing/shoe/rap babble. As a child of the video rental and regional late night movie selection, Michael Winner has long been a figure of fascination to me. Later in his lifetime, Winner trolled the nation by using his News of the World column to moan about Boots screwing up his negatives while getting a second set of photographs developed, and bragged about his lavish lifestyle with a remorselessness and regularity that was presumably tongue-in-cheek, but his film career had substantial share of moments, despite his reputation for hackery. Winner’s Death Wish trilogy had a huge impact on me, installing a love of the vigilante b-movie that I’ve never quite shaken. While I got my hands on Glickenhaus’ The Executioner and Lustig’s Vigilante (both referenced here a great deal), the first Death Wish eluded me for decades, with only Death Wish 2 screened on UK TV (in which Charlie looks at his most stylish in the beanie and sweatshirt combo) and part 3 being my video store rental of choice for its all out stupidity.

Why a slightly edited Death Wish 2 was deemed acceptable over the other two remains a mystery — with its gratuitous duo of rapes and sleazier atmosphere (Larry Fishburne’s bad guy ‘Cutter’is significantly more vocal than Jeff Goldblum’s ‘Freak #1’ in the first film). The Death Wish films were sheer exploitation, but all my favourite films of the era can be summed up succinctly with those two words. Michael Winner (alongside Frank Henenlotter and seemingly every alleyway scene in every NYC film between 1979 and 1987) had me assuming that on a brief trip to New York, you’d have a switchblade pulled out on you by a garishly dressed, sunglasses, jive talking, ragtag, multiracial gang before you’d even exited JFK. How was I to know that Death Wish 3 wasn’t even filmed in Brownsville? It was shot in London, as Bombin’ would later educate me, with Brim being spoken to by Michael Winner as if he was a toddler halfway through that classic hip-hop documentary. Brim was right about the film’s negative portrayals, but Death Wish 3 is still my flu bed flick of choice — starve a cold, feed a fever and treat both with exposure to Charlie blasting perps via bazookas and Gatling guns.

Beyond Charlie Bronson shooting fleeing perps, Winner’s early works — after a start shooting random documentaries and teen craze cash-ins — with Oliver Reed, like the moddish The System and I’ll Never Forget What’s’isname bear a certain Britishness and mild subversiveness (the latter got into some censor issues for its use of the word “fucking” while the former had Nicolas Roeg on cinematography) shine among the unfunny comedies (which he’d later echo with 1990’s slapstick monstrosity Bullseye!). The Nightcomers with Marlon Brando is nigh-on unwatchable, but as a lead up to The Turn of the Screw it seemed to preempt the wave of horror flick prequels by a few years. Winner evidently had a knack for westerns — Lawman is pleasantly vicious in a post Wild Bunch kind of way and Chato’s Way brings Charles Bronson to the fore for a superior First Blood style revenge scramble.

The Mechanic is a lean, muscular movie that, as the remake proved in its anaemia, has that 1972 grit that comes as standard and is tough to replicate. The Big Sleep with Robert Mitchum in the lead isn’t nearly as bad as its reputation indicates, but Winner’s final non-Bronson standout is 1977’s The Sentinel (which you can watch here) that sits alongside The Omen as a grand, star-studded spectacle that goes further than Tod Browning’s vengeful misfits by casting real life people with deformities as denizens of hell, but has some Christopher Walken and Sarandon weirdness, and genuinely disturbing goings on.

Worthy of mention just for its blend of soap opera style production values and performance with random bursts of phenomenally poor taste, 1984 home invasion thriller Scream For Help (available to watch here) also has John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin (after Jimmy Page, who scored Death Wish 2 couldn’t do it) on soundtrack duties. No matter how much time passes, Winner’s later work like Dirty Weekend and Parting Shots remain unwatchable. He was no Ken Russell, but the eclecticism of his work (some might cruelly call it hackery and argue that it had a constant in its mediocrity) meant Winner’s work is deserving of attention. Even more bizarrely, he was lined up to direct Captain America back when Cannon had the rights in 1984 (which eventually ended up being made by Albert Pyun and released in 1990 with JD Salinger’s son Matt as the lead). This incident, as recounted by Jim Shooter from that period casts a dark shadow on the whole thing though. Still, they don’t make them like Michael any more and, given the tidal wave of appalling January film burials hitting the cinema over the last few weeks, it’s a good time to reevaluate Winner’s contribution to the industry. Right wing, reactionary, sexist and condescending traits are bad things at a dinner party but good when you’re panning for scuzzy b-movie gold.

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I’m still waiting to see that Bad Brains documentary, A Band in D.C. (which seems to have annoyed Darryl Jenifer), but in the meantime, the Afro-Punk documentary from 2003 is up on YouTube in its entirety. It’s a solid depiction of racial identity in a realm perceived as whiteboy central.



Because there wasn’t enough imagery in this entry, here’s two ads for tiger stripe camouflage from around 1969, when the Vietnam conflict had somehow sold it to outdoors types as a hunting aid.

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“THERE’S NO BUDGET, BUT…”

“There’s no budget, but there could be scope for bigger things…” has long been drip-feeding into my Gmail account as some half-arsed incentive to do anything. Fortunately, I have a day job and any written work on the side is little more than hobbyist nonsense — I think I crave corporate relationships to fill a gap somewhere in my psyche with written word promiscuity. I care about getting the job done yet I have little to no interest in being a writer and I have even less inclination to enter the world of journalism. Journalism used to have a function — not to enlighten, expose injustice or change the world, but to get free CDs and records. Then everyone stopped caring about vinyl and you could download the content of a CD. With that, any journalistic impulses in me eroded and I swiftly sold my soul. I was a crap music journalist too — I used the word “sonics” too much and would bestow full marks so liberally that it made ‘The Source’ at its absolute 5-Mics-for-Lil’ Kim nadir read like Tom Paulin in full misery mode. I have no plans to return to that realm and I’m unsure as to whether music journalism has benefited from being ridded of freeloaders like me or simply been populated by dickriders who don’t want to lose their press trip privileges or be spotted by label PRs during their regular trawls of Google Blogearch and Twitter. I try to keep out of it.

Yet I still feel a certain kinship with the ripped-off writers of this world. Everybody gets shafted at corporate and indie level when they’re trying to get a name for themselves, but words don’t seem to be valued as much as images (and I have the greatest respect for photography — especially when everybody thinks they can do it and can’t) or even styling — which in the hands of Petri or Foxton is an art, but in the hands of many is just editing an existing edit and assembling them in an unexceptional manner. Nobody gives you a bunch of those word fridge magnets and says, “Assemble me some paragraphs!” Maybe it’s because copy-paste culture means nobody needs to edit the crap copy a PR company blasts out there. I’ve long found that there’s scope for bigger things, but it’s important to stick up for yourself by reminding those who’ve conveniently forgotten that their job is — like mine and many out there who take things far too seriously — utterly irrelevant beyond a square mile or so and a handful of outlying towns and villages where people might pick up a style magazine, imagining some magical realm and visit London to get ripped off too. It’s all bullshit.

I write for fun and when I see somebody exploiting that, it leaches the joy from banging out freeform paragraphs laden with run-on sentences. I hate the culture of aggregation too — mostly third-hand smoke and mechanically reconstituted information under the guise of content creation. If you can’t write, create, photograph, design, edit, raise funds or inspire, why are you getting involved in a creative industry? I respect the crew culture of strength in numbers, but why advertise for blog contributions? Build it and they’ll come, unless you’re just another clone of an existing site operating to get a free t-shirt from a rookie PR. I feel bad declining blog contributions elsewhere, but one joy of digital democracy is that I can up something wildly self-indulgent, unedited, unstructured and unproofed up here right now without a deadline, an editor or any external force hampering it. Why do I need to write for you?

Some would argue that democracy is what’s wrong with the internet, but it isn’t — where once, fanzines required workplace misuse, spent printer cartridges and photocopy costs, the internet lets that spirit roam free. It’s not as tangible, but it there has to be some compromise. I’m extremely happy that my friends at Hypebeast (some have assumed I’m anti Hypebeast, but that’s a fallacy — I’m still losing sleep over the Yeezy 2 drop) occasionally syndicate copy from here onto their vastly more successful site. If you have a blog….sorry, “online magazine” why can’t you dip into design, create your own shots and do all your own writing? Why do you need to start recruiting from day one? Did you learn nothing from Boo.com? If you’re into something enough, you can broadcast it and from there, the world is yours. Don’t let the leeches steal your shine. The internet is full of po-faced conversations with anybody who’ll constitute “content” and short video documentaries about pretty much anyone. It’s just one big crowd smelling their own farts and claiming they’re iconic. The time is right to just do your own thing. If you’re going to work for free, just do it for yourself.

Just to contradict my pro-digital ramblings above I’m a little more drawn back to writing for print at the moment, just because it’s the only way I can convince my mum that I have a job and because just as your moment of glory goes live online, too often, it’s swiftly washed away by wave after wave of the same old information. Click throughs are far uglier than physical pages too. One key element is seeing the snub of no Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook shares. With a piece in print, ignorance is bliss, but online, elements of your failure to engage an audience are there for all to see.

Where did that rant come from? I needed to write something for this blog, my inbox just pissed me off with budget-free promises of a media takeover and the teasers for this documentary – ‘Salad Days: the Washington D.C. Punk Revolution’, reminded me that once upon a time, “There’s no budget but…” used to be an asset and a harbinger of impending creativity. Between this and the ‘Bad Brains: A Band in D.C.’ (with an appearance from the late Adam Yauch) film that recently got a poster, indicating that screenings beyond SXSW are imminent. It’s all about D.I.Y — forget the begging letters.


For my fellow John Carpenter fans, AintItCoolTV just upped this video of the ‘They Live’ panel from Texas Frightmare with Roddy Piper, Keith David (in skintight neon mode) and Meg Foster. Plenty of trivia in just over 15 minutes.

ON THE BUSES

I’m on holiday, so I’m taking a holiday from even attempting to make anything in this blog entry particularly cohesive. I forgot it was Wednesday, so I’m just chucking the contents of the tabs on Chrome and what’s in my Gmail up here — I hope it’s sufficient. Anyway, you shouldn’t even be here — you should be on Egotripland reading this piece on the making of the ‘Lil’ Ghetto Boy’ video.

One of the most interesting things I’m currently looking at is Will Robson-Scott (the man behind the lens on ‘Crack & Shine’ 1 and 2) and James Pearson-Howes’s ‘Top Deck’ project with Mother and London clothing brand Utile (all London everything) of images shot from the top deck of London buses. Having spent more hours than I’d liked to have spent gawping from double deckers down at London, the traffic choked leisurely pace has given me some interesting perspectives of the city and the behaviour of those who dwell in it. It’s a shame that I’m usually too irate to appreciate them, but Will and James’s images should resonate with any of us who aren’t stupid or rich enough to attempt to navigate it by car.

Launching as an exhibition downstairs at Mother (Leonard Street) on Thursday and being printed and collated in a newspaper format, ‘Top Deck’ celebrates a ubiquitous but oft-squandered view. Two years of dreary journeys documented is proof that we take our surroundings for granted and if I didn’t only use buses over the underground in a hapless attempt to save time, meaning I’m too agitated to relax and just absorb the overhead view. At least the Routemaster (and the new reworking of it) offers more scope to get lost in a flight of fantasy than the curious tension — of wild-eyed fidgeting loners, screwfacing women having to stand with a pushchair and sweating fare dodgers — that’s present on each and every bendy bus. Go grab the publication here or attend the exhibition and grab it while you’re there, but make sure to check out the tie-in Tumblr.

What could be more British than staring from a bus? How about a mug made to commemorate a UK hip-hop favourite? Like a ‘Fat Lace’ joke made physical, the ‘Serve Tea Then Murder’ mug from Style Warrior sees the makers of tie-in Brit rap merchandise with the nod from the referenced artists and labels shift from cotton to glazed ceramics. It started as forum banter, but now Style Warrior is taking pre-orders on them. Brilliantly at odds with the po-faced, harder than hardcore content of the record, the 1991 Music of Life release provides the no-nonsense imagery and lettering here. Consume enough caffeine from it and you too can be a No Sleep Nigel. While plenty of Britcore releases leave me a little cold in 2012, creations like this hot drink receptacle remind me of the kind of mad merchandise I’ve seen in Tokyo hip-hop outlets over the years.

In fact, the quest for the Sophnet Nike ACG Mt. Fuji jacket from ’07 in an XL led me to hero and all-round nice guy, DJ Muro’s King Inc. site and its Diggermart pages again. But I’ve blogged about them a couple of times before. What caught my eye was the bizarre key charm from Lil ‘ Limo in association with Muro and for Warp Magazine’s birthday last year. ‘Sesame Street’s Elmo in multiple colours with a ‘King of Diggin’ tape and 45 attached? Why the fuck not? Only in Tokyo could something like this exist, yet it sits alongside the Elmo that Raekwon cradled for Supreme, or Agallah’s ‘Crookie Monster’ as a strange piece of Jim Henson hip-hop tie-in. Anyone else remember the official Cookie Monster DJ Muro sweat with the crazed creature munching on vinyl. Nobody got quite as sick with the hip-hop imports as Japan did, and I’m preoccupied with the footage — from the ‘Wild Style’ tour to that eye opening 1994 Yo! episode where Fab 5 Freddy returned and did his awkward language barrier thing to look at amazing record stores, and beyond.



While we’re talking YouTube videos, every Onyx video between 1992 and 2002 is on there as a compilation in cleaned-up quality, plus the Bad Brains CBGB show from Christmas Eve, 1982 in better quality than the hundredth generation VHS look of most hardcore show documents from that era.



And for the sake of it, here’s a Shawn Stüssy interview from ‘Spin’s December 1991 issue. It’s not the most enlightening feature, but it was available and this blog entry’s lacking, so I upped it.