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Super Weird Substance Label Launched

SWSBOX001 Contents

Having spent the best part of 18 months gradually manoeuvring everything into position, my new record label, Super Weird Substance, is finally up and running with its first releases today, my own track ‘Summer Came My Way’, featuring the sublime vocals of The Reynolds, which is available on vinyl and digital, plus a limited edition box set (200 in total, 100 for promotional use and 100 for sale). The box contains ‘Summer Came My Way’ and the next 3 upcoming releases – ‘She Can’t Love You / Feel The Same’ by Sweet Tooth T’, ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ by Kermit Leveridge & The Super Weird Society and ‘World Gone Crazy’ by The Reverend Cleve Freckleton & The Sinners. 4 more releases will follow during the summer, and for those with the box sets who want to collect the full vinyl series of 8, there’s room inside for the extra records (foam providing the necessary padding).

The radio versions of the first 4 releases can now be heard on the SWS YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcCzWOPsggoEFsqotXPv45w

PIAS are handling distribution and the releases are available to buy from all the right places, including Piccadilly, Juno and Phonica. You can also purchase digital copies via Bandcamp:
https://gregwilson-feat-thereynolds.bandcamp.com

I‘ve made a SoundCloud playlist of the club mixes:

The response to the promo copies that have gone out has been wonderful, with support on the various tracks from a whole range of DJ’s including Late Nite Tuff Guy, Horse Meat Disco, Mark Farina, Kiwi, Craig Charles, Graeme Park, Daniele Baldelli, Bill Brewster, Ralph Lawson, Flight Facilities, Fatboy Slim and Balearic Mike, to name but some. The tracks have really begun to take off over in Ibiza where Andy Wilson and International Feel’s Mark Barrott have been featuring them on Sonica Radio, whilst Mark Broadbent from Ibiza Rocks (formerly We Love) has been a big supporter and a number of DJ’s are already spinning the tunes in clubs, bars and on beaches, including Jon Sa Trinxa and Paul Reynolds. I hadn’t counted on things taking off so quickly over in Ibiza, we really seem to have tapped into that original Balearic spirit that certainly seems to be enjoying a renaissance on the island. This initial DJ feedback can be read here:
http://www.superweirdsubstance.com/dj-feedback-sws001-004/

This is my first proper foray into the record business since I ran my company Murdertone in the late 80’s / early 90’s. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m blessed to be collaborating with such a special crew of vocalists and musicians, not to mention everyone working around the releases. I’m feeling highly confident about our timing here, everything seems to have come together at the right point with festival season about to fully kick in given it’s the week of Glastonbury. The ‘fools leap’ I spoke about at the outset of all this has well and truly been taken and we’re looking forward to where this leads us.

Hope you like what we’ve been up to and help spread the love via likes, reposts and other social media sharing.

SWS Logo

Super Weird Substance Website:
http://www.superweirdsubstance.com/

5

The International Poetry Incarnation

Allen Ginsberg Albert Hall 1965

Half a century ago today a seismic cultural event took place at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The International Poetry Incarnation, with Beat poet Allen Ginsberg the guest of honour, drew over 7,000 people – bringing together formerly disparate groupings who could now, as a result of this vast gathering, see strength in numbers.

This was the event that lit the blue touch paper for the UK counterculture of the 60’s, and throughout the coming years London would take its cutting-edge role at the forefront of a whole host of new artistic directions.

Stealing the show with his poem ‘To Whom It May Concern’, condemning US action in Vietnam well before there was a general outcry about the war that was raging across the other side of the world, was London born Adrian Mitchell.

YouTube Preview Image https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmMCObgu_jc

The UK counterculture grew out of the Beatnik era of the late 50’s, and the CND marches on the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston between 1959-1963. The hippie’s emergence was just around the corner and The International Poetry Incarnation would bridge the 2 periods.

The counterculture would come to define a whole swathe of people, from the phenomenon that were The Beatles to relatively obscure Avant-Garde artists (symbolized by the meeting of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, during Ono’s exhibition at London’s Indica Gallery in 1966 – the Indica, also a bookshop, run by 3 of the leading countercultural figures, John Dunbar, Peter Asher and Barry Miles).

However, it was Paul McCartney, not Lennon, who embraced the counterculture most fervently first (although Lennon would later assume the leading role). He was then in a relationship with the actress Jane Asher – her brother was the aforementioned Peter Asher, who’d scored a #1 UK pop hit as part of Peter And Gordon, recording the Lennon / McCartney composition ‘World Without Love’ in 1964. This is highlighted in the brilliant 2013 documentary ‘Going Underground – Paul McCartney, The Beatles And The UK Counter-Culture’.

Going Underground Days In The Life

If you want to go into even more depth, one of my favourite books about the 60’s is Jonathan Green’s oral history ‘Days In The Life – Voices From The English Underground 1961-1971’ (1988) – an essential read if you’re interested in this subject.

Spoken word has enjoyed something of a renaissance during recent times. At our upcoming Super Weird Happening #6 at Festival No.6 in Portmeirion (Sept 5th) we have poetry alongside live performance, DJ’s and other artistic asides. One of our guests on the day, a huge countercultural figure in his own right, Howard Marks, was actually there in attendance at the Royal Albert Hall 50 years ago.

A short documentary film of the event called ‘Wholly Communion’ was made by filmmaker Peter Whitehead, which you can view online:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWdYrd_UH9E

Poets on Steps of Albert Memorial 1965

The International Poetry Incarnation Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Poetry_Incarnation

0

A History Of Electro

Egyptian Lover

Revisiting my Electro-Funk past this Saturday with a gig at Café 1001 in London’s Shoreditch for Memory Box. The night, titled ‘A History Of Electro’, will feature a live performance from West Coast rapper Egyptian Lover, whose 1984 tracks ‘Egypt, Egypt’ and “My House On The Nile’ assured his place as a pioneering Hip Hop artist.

It’s been a while since I played a purely Electro-Funk set, so currently busy sorting out some of the old tunes for Saturday. My website, www.electrofunkroots.co.uk, has now been online for 12 years and, in that time, has become a leading resource for this musical movement that set the tone for the oncoming era of Hip Hop, House and Techno. As I’ve said previously, Electro was the missing link, it’s growth from the New York underground to international success planting the seeds from which Electronic dance music flourished.

https://soundcloud.com/gregwilson/no-sell-out-electro

Ten years ago, in 2005, A Guy Called Gerald asked me if I’d do a mix for his Samurai Radio show, and given that Gerald was a regular at Legend, my early 80’s club residency in Manchester, which was right at the cusp of the Electro-Funk scene at its formative stages, it seemed the perfect opportunity to bring together the biggest tunes of the period into a single mix covering 82/83, when these records first appeared.

As I pointed out later down the line:
This is the most involved mix I’ve ever put together, even more so than my Essential Mix in 2009, for which ‘No Sell Out’ very much provided the prototype. I intended it as a definitive document to the period May 82 – Dec 83, when Legend and Wigan Pier were at their most influential, the new Electro-Funk sound turning the black scene on its head as the old gradually gave way to the new.

Electrofunkroots Logo

Ticket info for Memory Box – A History Of Electro at Resident Advisor:
http://www.residentadvisor.net/event.aspx?706118

0

Summer Came My Way – 2015 Festival Schedule

GW Festival 2015

Festival season 2015 kicks off for me this Saturday in Lincolnshire at the fledgling Lost Village Festival. I’ve also had the final dates I’ve been waiting on, so can now announce the following festival appearances during the summer months:

23.05.15 Lost Village / Lincolnshire
21.06.15 Also / Warwickshire
27.06.15 Glastonbury Genosys
28.06.15 Glastonbury Beat Hotel
02.07.15 Garden Festival Boat Party / Croatia
03.07.15 Garden Festival Main Stage / Croatia
18.07.15 Lovebox / London
19.07.15 Beat-Herder / Lancashire
30.07.15 Voi’sa / Croatia
28.08.15 LIMF Next Stop New York / Liverpool
05.09.15 Festival No.6 Super Weird Happening
06.09.15 Festival No.6 The Stone Boat
11.09.15 Bestival / Isle Of Wight
12.09.15 OnBlackheath / London

The first of the two Festival No.6 appearances will takeover over the Estuary Stage for a twelve hour Super Weird Happening – we’ll be making a full announcement within the next few weeks once we’ve got the label launch underway.

Having first introduced Luxxury’s sumptuous mix of ‘Summer Came My Way’ during festival season last year, I placed it in mothballs throughout the winter in readiness for its release as the first track on my new Super Weird Substance label. It’s a song whose season has finally come around, and I’m really looking forward to playing it out over some of those big festival systems. Hope to see you over the summer.


https://soundcloud.com/super-weird-substance/greg-wilson-featuring-the

Festival Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festival

0

Ben E. King

Ben E. King

Less than a month on from the death of Percy Sledge, another Atlantic Records R&B luminary, Ben E. King (Benjamin Nelson), formerly of The Drifters, died on Thursday, aged 76.

Born in Harlem, New York, King was originally a member of Doo-Wop group the Five Crowns, who replaced the existing Drifters wholesale when manager, George Treadwell (who owned the name), sacked all of the group members before drafting in the Five Crowns to take over the name in 1958. The Drifters were already a popular R&B group, having formed in 1953, but they’d enjoy a whole new level of success during King’s brief tenure as lead vocalist, achieving their biggest pop hit with ‘There Goes My Baby’ (co-written by King), which just missed the top slot in 1959, before going all the way to #1 the following year with ‘Save The Last Dance For Me’. King left The Drifters in 1960 as the result of a contract dispute with Treadwell.

The recording Ben E. King will be eternally remembered for is ‘Stand By Me’, a bona fide standard of the pop era inspired by the 1905 Charles Albert Tindley Spiritual, also titled 'Stand By Me'. The song was originally intended for The Drifters, but manager Treadwell declined to let the band record it. Instead it would become a massive 2 time solo hit for King, both on its release in 1961 and then again in 1986, appealing to a whole new audience following its inclusion in the 'coming of age' movie of the same name. ‘Stand By Me’ was written by King, along with the legendary Rock & Roll songwriting duo Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, and has been recorded over 400 times, the most notable, apart from the original, being John Lennon’s cover in 1975. In 2001 it was voted #25 in the Recording Industry Association Of America’s ‘Songs Of The Century’.

The success of ‘Stand By Me’ followed his first solo hit, the Leiber & Stoller production ‘Spanish Harlem’ (with co-writing credit for Phil Spector, still to shake the world with his ‘Wall Of Sound’), but after the release of a further hit in 1962, ‘Don’t Play That Sound (You Lied)’, his career was sketchy, with a number of minor hits, but nothing of the agnitude of his previous successes, both solo and with The Drifters, until he returned to the top of the R&B chart in 1975 with my personal favourite of his, the downtempo groove masterpiece ‘Supernatural Thing’ (co-written by Patrick Grant and singer Gwen Guthrie), which, although failing to make any real impression in the UK, was a top 5 hit in the US following its 1975 release. The Autocycle edit is available here as a free download:
https://soundcloud.com/autocycle/ben-e-king-supernatural

YouTube Preview Image https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DboYRXmhrc

Ben E. King Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_E._King

1

The Sudden End Of The Southport Weekender

Pontins

Like many in the club community, it was a shock to hear that next month's Southport Weekender, nowadays held at Butlin’s Holiday Resort in Minehead, and attracting over 6,500 people, will be the final one. This much-loved gathering of black music enthusiasts and aficionados has run since 1987 and celebrated its 50th event only last year. ‘Rising costs and expectations’ have been given as the reason for this sudden announcement - the press statement can be read here at Resident Adviser: http://www.residentadvisor.net/news.aspx?id=28827

Founded by former Newcastle DJ Alex Lowes, the Upnorth Weekender (as it was originally called) launched near the Scottish border at a caravan park in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Northumberland back in October 1987, just before the Acid House 2nd summer of love changed UK dance culture forever. Subsequent events were held in the Northern outposts of Fleetwood and Morecambe, before a permanent home was found at the Pontin’s holiday camp in Ainsdale near Southport, where it remained, taking place twice yearly until the event moved South, re-locating to a bigger site in Minehead just a few years ago (bar a one-off return to its Southport spiritual home last October). Its longevity has been largely down to its forward thinking approach, where it embraced the changing dance landscape rather than resisting it, placing House, back then the new kid on the block, alongside Soul, Funk, Jazz, Rare Groove, Boogie, Disco and Hip Hop as the core groove elements of the weekend, and by encouraging the new musical offsprings that grew from these fertile roots it enabled the event to constantly re-energise its audience with a solid flow of younger attendees.

Looking at that first line-up in 1987, the DJ’s booked harked back to a previous era, when Jazz-Funk was at the cutting-edge of black music in the late 70’s / early 80’s, and even before that, to when Northern Soul was at its height – these included Colin Curtis, Richard Searling, Bob Jones, Billy Davidson and Bob Jeffries. Whilst retaining this link with legacy from a UK perspective, the Weekender also set about booking pioneering US DJ’s, adding to this sense of history. However, this was balanced by the new names that had emerged on the back of the House explosion, along with upcoming DJ’s whose profile may be lower, but whose vibe was right.

28 years and who knows how many friendships and relationships on, it’s bound to be a deeply poignant moment for so many people when the final track is played on May 10th and the curtain is brought down on a British black music institution.

SW52-FB-COVER-V3

The loss of the Southport Weekender breaks a long-standing link between past and present. The original Soul Weekender at Caister in Great Yarmouth (launched in 1979) continues to go strong, but this is more of a nostalgic trip down memory lane to the era of the Soul Mafia, the southern-based DJ crew who dominated the scene back in the day. Whilst the Caister line-up has always reflected this Mafia tradition, Southport looked forward as well as back, priding itself on consistently presenting the best black music DJ’s from both sides of the Atlantic for the past quarter of a century - a veritable who’s who of the great and the good of the groove. This was also reflected by the bands and artists who’ve graced their stages down the years – to pick a few names out as examples would be disrespectful to so many others, so I’ll link you to the Weekender’s own list of artists and DJ’s who’ve appeared:
http://www.southportweekender.co.uk/past-artists-djs/

I was a latecomer to the party, making my Southport debut in The Connoisseurs' Corner in November 2008. I’ve since been a bi-yearly regular with what’s turned out to be my final appearance being the 50th event last May, when I closed out the Beat Bar on the Saturday (or should I say Sunday morning) between 6am-8am. My two Mineheads were both the same venue and timeslot, and although I was initially concerned that I’d be playing the graveyard shift to a wearily thinning crowd, it turned out to be a choice slot, the room packed solid as this was one of the only spaces still open at that time, with everyone ready to go all the way and take it to the morning. I was very much looking forward to making this my regular spot with a hat-trick of appearances sealing the deal next year, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. The full recording of what’s now transpired to be my Southport farewell has recently been uploaded onto the Weekender’s Mixcloud:

Although next month’s Weekender is the last, there isn’t total end of an era finality - the team behind it having little time for lament as they have to swiftly switch their attention to SuncéBeat, their Adriatic summer festival, now in its 6th year having launched back in 2010. Southport may soon be gone, but its soulful spirit will very much shine on beneath the beating hot Croatian sun.

Sunce Beat logo

Southport Weekender website:
http://www.southportweekender.co.uk

SuncéBeat website:
http://suncebeat.com/

10

10 Greg Wilson & Derek Kaye Remixes Mixed

Remixed by Greg Wilson & Derek Kaye

With all the things I want to do, something always has to give, it’s an ongoing juggling act. By 2012 I was flat out, not only with the DJ side of things, but the blog had really taken off and had begun to take up a lot more time than I’d initially envisaged. On top of this I was still no closer to my aim of moving back into production and developing my own recording projects - a long process which is finally coming to fruition this year, with the first releases on my label, Super Weird Substance, due ahead of the summer months (the blog itself having had to take more of a back seat whilst we pushed this through). So back there in 2012 the only thing to do was stop taking on remixes for a while, just to help clear a bit of space in my world and work out where my priorities lay moving forward. My remixes up to this point can all be found here:
https://soundcloud.com/gregwilson/sets/greg-wilson-versions-2005-2013

Derek Kaye is my friend from schooldays – we went through our teen years together and I very much followed his lead in becoming a DJ, Derek having built his own mobile disco when he was just 12 years old! Whereas we both shared a passion for records, Derek, unlike me, was technically minded, and big into electronics (I could barely change a plug). I blogged about him back in 2013 to highlight his 40th anniversary as a working DJ, a remarkable longevity that few in this country could match:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2013/11/life-begins-at-40-dj-derek-kaye-man-and-boy/

Derek Kaye Mobile Disco 1973

In the mid-90’s, at the height of his popularity as a DJ, Derek built himself a great little home studio (he’d also built the house that contained this studio – he doesn’t do things by half!). In an ideal world Derek would be happy as a sandboy to spend most of his waking hours in the studio, sculpting sound and drinking coffee, but he has to earn an honest crust, so things need to fit around his day job,
his quarter century innings as a full-time DJ coming to an end as we approached the millennium. Having to roll up his sleeves and graft for a living, for many years the studio lay dormant, recording projects grinding to a halt as life took over. Knowing what he was capable of, I thought this was a shame, so once I’d re-connected with the club world via re-edit culture I was always encouraging him to rework older tracks, giving them a contemporary edge, in a similar way to how Late Nite Tuff Guy would interpret classic dance tracks by adding new elements, whilst remaining totally respectful to the original versions.

So it came to pass that in 2012 Derek finally brushed the cobwebs away and got back in the studio, reworking ‘Shante’ by Mass Production, a big favorite from the Jazz-Funk era. Having got the edit bug he next fixed on another track that had emerged from the Jazz-Funk underground, ‘Turn The Music Up’ by The Players Association. I’d also suggested he put together a version of ‘Ain’t Nobody’ by Rufus & Chaka Khan that combined the Frankie Knuckles Hallucinogenic Mix with the full vocal of the original version. The latter 2 would become really big tunes for me and I was able to select them for a limited vinyl pressing as part of the A&R Edits series, announcing Derek’s arrival on the re-edit scene (he’s since had a further A&R release and his rework of Tony Rallo & The Midnite Band’s ‘Holdin’ On’ is due soon on Whisky Disco, the Florida based edits label).

Nobody Music Up

With the studio back up and running and Derek getting in the groove again, the possibility of partnering up for mixes occurred to me. Apart from splitting the workload, saving me a lot of preparation that has to be methodically done and can be one of the most time-consuming aspects of doing a remix, I’d also benefit from Derek’s sonic expertise, for he knows how to cook up a great sound in that room of his, whilst he can also, using his own description, fumble his way around a keyboard if we need further musical elements added.

Our first remix together was for Bryan Ferry who was reactivating his 80’s hit ‘Don’t Stop The Dance’. We finished it in late 2012, but, due to a series of delays, it didn’t appear until the following October (as part of a sterling 180gm vinyl package with further mixes by the likes of Todd Terje, Psychemagik, Eric Duncan and the Idjut Boys). In the meantime Derek and I worked on remixes for Daniele Baldelli, Situation and Grandbrothers. We’ve subsequently taken on mixes for Steve Mason (two tracks), Blancmange, Gilberto Gil, Joan As Police Woman and, most recently, Róisín Murphy, our tenth remix together.

I think it’s now a good time for us to stand back and look at what we’ve done to date, a not insubstantial body of work at this point, so I put together this mix of our remixes:


https://soundcloud.com/gregwilson/10-greg-wilson-derek-kaye-remixes-mixed-by-greg-wilson-2016

Looking at them listed all together, it’s a cosmopolitan collection of artists with Italy, Germany, Brazil and the US represented, along with England, Scotland and Ireland. 3 are older tracks originally recorded in the 70’s (Gilberto Gil) and the 80’s (Bryan Ferry and Blancmange), but the rest were all current.

I think we’ve really forged our sound, and I’m very happy with the overall results. We work well together because we’ve known each other far too long for egos to clash. We have complimentary strengths and are able to cover each other’s weaknesses. Although I don’t have the hands-on technical skills of an engineer, I understand the process of building a recording and the key scaffolding of arrangement and vibe. The criteria is always to create a mix that I’d be able to play myself, so the final part of the process is always road testing in situ, over a club system.

Roisin Murphy

Our latest remix, Róisín Murphy’s ‘Jealousy’, had a slightly tricky genesis, needing 4 road tests before I was happy (2 is normally enough). The first time I played it out it just wasn’t cutting through properly, so we re-tweaked and I tried again the following weekend, but, although it had improved sonically, it still wasn’t quite doing what I needed it to, so we decided on a re-appraisal of the beats, with the subsequent changes instantly giving the whole track a much better feel. This mix was submitted to the record company, Crosstown Rebels, and gratefully accepted, but during the delay Parrot, the fabled Sheffield Jive Turkey DJ and co-writer / producer of ‘Jealousy’, emailed to tell me he’d recorded some new guitar parts, which he gave us the option of using in our version. I’m so glad he did, as they crystalized the mix – took it all the way there. Now I can’t wait to play it at a festival over a huge system, for there’s so much power and drama in that vocal build - formidable stuff from the former Moloko singer. It’s the 2nd track in the mix.

Apart from the remixes, Derek has also engineered the Blind Arcade tracks that made up last year’s mixtape, Blind Arcade Meets Super Weird Substance In The Morphogenetic Field:
https://soundcloud.com/gregwilson/blind-arcade-meets-super-weird-substance-in-the-morphogenetic-field

Derek Kaye

I’m surprised that all the remixes and reworks he’s worked on over recent years haven’t translated into a fuller diary of club bookings for Derek – I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before more promoters wake up to the fact that, given his 40 plus year DJ career, Derek has a rare perspective, having experienced so many historic aspects of UK club culture dating right back to the Soul, Funk and Disco era of the 70’s. Not only would they be booking an excellent DJ who loves his work, but someone with a real legacy.

I have a selfish reason for mentioning this. More club bookings for Derek would serve my own aims perfectly, for this would enable him to do less by way of working in the daytime, freeing up valuable studio hours that I could happily utilize in one way or another. Here’s hoping.

Remix Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remix

7

GW Edit T-Shirts

GW Edit T-Shirts

Having been asked about this numerous times during recent years, I’ve finally released a couple of limited edition t-shirts ahead of the summer in conjunction with No Way Back, a company that specialises in hand-printed clothing inspired by dance music culture (other hook-ups including Junior Boys Own, Merc, DJ Pierre and Disco Deviance).

You can purchase online here:
http://www.nowaybackstore.co.uk/collections/greg-wilson

8

Tracey Emin – Why I Never Became A Dancer

Tracey Emin - Why I Never Became A Dancer

A few years ago I wanted to show a friend Tracey Emin’s 1995 short film, ‘Why I Never Became A Dancer’, but couldn’t find it anywhere online. The last time I’d seen it was perhaps a decade earlier, at The Tate Gallery in Liverpool, so I surmised that, given it’s part of the Tate Collection, it would only be possible to view in an arts space, and not on the internet. I looked to see if I could buy a copy, but no luck there either. Anyhow, it came up in conversation again a few nights ago so I had another look online and, lo and behold, there it was on Vimeo, in all of its grainy Super 8 splendour. It was Emin’s first film, and for me it was a major key to understanding where she was coming from, both as an artist and a person (for her confessional art is, by nature, informed by her personal experience – her approach often brutally honest).

Tracey Emin has always divided opinion. On the one hand she’s recognised as one of the great British artists of modern times, on the other her autobiographical approach is dismissed by many, often with bile and disdain, as an attention seeking ego trip of little artistic merit. Examples of this can be found beneath pretty much any YouTube footage of her / her art, where, as in this instance, someone might comment ‘what an amazing woman love you tracey emin such an inspiration xxxxxx’ only for the very next person to counter ‘Hate is a terrible word.....but I hate Emin. Bullshit and bollocks sum up her 'Art’'.

EVERYONE I HAVE SLEPT WITH 1963-1995

The piece that really catapulted her into the art elite was an embroidered tent, again from 1995, which contained the names of the people she’d shared a bed with up until that point in her life – not only sexual partners, but friends and family members. This was titled ‘Everyone I Have Slept With 1963-1995’, and was bought by art collector Charles Saatchii. It would perish in a fire at East London’s Momart warehouse in 2004, but rather than prompting a reaction of sympathy for the loss of an iconic work, the media were largely mocking in their reporting of its destruction, scornfully taking a ‘good riddance to bad rubbish’ type stance.

Often described as brash and vulgar, not to mention troubled, Emin’s notoriety soured in 1997 when she was invited onto a late night Channel 4 programme to join a live discussion about the Turner Prize with a variety of experts / critics. Clearly drunk, a swearing and slurring Emin got up and left the set after 10 minutes questioning whether people were actually watching the late night show, before announcing ‘I'm leaving now, I wanna be with my friends, I wanna be with my mum. I'm gonna phone her, and she's going to be embarrassed about this conversation, this is live and I don't care. I don't give a fuck about it’. She was largely unknown by the general public prior to this, the controversy generated by her appearance well and truly casting her as the ‘bad girl’ of British art:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKNr2LOkXYE

I’d already seen ‘Why I Never Became A Dancer’ by this point, possibly on Channel 4, although I can’t recall exactly where, and, to be honest, I thought good on her for bringing a bit of realism into what was a typically high-brow debate with much of the usual pontification by some of the other guests, who very much came across as relics of a bygone era.

For me, she was a breath of fresh air, and although she had no qualms about hanging her dirty linen in public, by doing this she helped expose the hypocrisy of the Britain we grew up in, where, on the surface, everything was supposed to be oh so civilizsed, but where in its murky shadows all sorts of sordidness ran rife (as perfectly illustrated by the more recent Jimmy Savile revelations).


http://vimeo.com/79687251

I was deeply moved by ‘Why I Never Became A Dancer’. It’s the story of a teenage girl living in a seaside town, which happened to be Margate in the 70’s. Having grown up in a seaside town myself, I could perfectly relate to the setting, which offered adventure and exploration to a wide-eyed youngster. It outlines her sexual awakening with older boys and predatory men, her youthful promiscuity a byproduct of living in this environment and the freedom she experienced. But there’d be a price to pay, which she discovered in 1978 on entering a local heat of the grandly titled EMI sponsored World Disco Dancin’ Championship, organised following the colossal success of the movie ‘Saturday Night Fever’, one of the biggest box office hits of the period.

I remember this competition well. I was a DJ at the time in New Brighton and the heat in my neck of the woods, which I attended, was held in nearby Birkenhead at The Hamilton Club. My friend and fellow DJ Derek Kaye actually made it through to the regional final in Manchester (televised by Granada TV). He wasn’t so much of a dancer, but could throw himself around pretty well, his acrobatics taking him through to the next stage – although he didn’t win, his claim to fame at the time was that he’d done a handstand on the table in front of one of the judges, who happened to be none other than the legendary bassist Bootsy Collins! There’s some wonderful footage here of DJ Keb Darge at the UK final in 1979 when he was still a youngster:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dwOR4x5KSE

EMI World Disco Dancing Championship

I should add a spoiler at this point - you may prefer to watch Emin’s film first (embedded above) before I go into what transpired that night in Margate.

By this point Emin had developed a deep passion for dancing, so a competition that could take her to the bright lights of London for the televised UK final (and a potential place in the World final) provided a major incentive – for her, the Disco Dancin’ Championship was a big big deal. She entered, and was truly in her element expressing herself before the audience. They were cheering for her and, as she danced her heart out, she felt confident that she was going to win – it was one of the great moments of her life. Then she started to hear a chant gather momentum – there were a group of guys in the crowd, some of whom she’d previously had sex with, and they were shouting ‘slag, slag, slag’.

The chant took on, getting louder and louder until she could no longer properly hear the music she was dancing to. Humiliated, she ran from the stage and out of the club. It must have been a devastating experience for her, one that would have completely broken a lesser mortal.

The film concludes with her naming and shaming some of those responsible – 'Shane, Eddy, Tony, Doug, Richard' - before announcing ‘this one’s for you’. The scene then switches to a dance studio, where Emin joyously struts her stuff to Sylvester’s ‘You Make Me Feel Mighty Real’, one of the biggest Disco records of ’78 – a triumphant conclusion to a horrendous episode in her life. The message is brave and defiant – a mark of the artist she is.

Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tracey_Emin

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Howard Marks Mr Nice Foundation

Howard Marks aka Mr Nice

Howard Marks, one of the great British anti-heroes, has just made his struggle with cancer public via an interview in the Observer over the weekend, his condition unfortunately inoperable. The 69 year old former cannabis smuggler and author of the bestselling autobiography ‘Mr Nice’, which was subsequently made into a movie with Rhys Irfans taking the lead role, is setting up a charitable foundation – funds raised going towards Howard’s ongoing treatment, as well as the completion of a documentary about him directed by the filmmaker Sam Rowland. You can read the full Observer piece here:
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/24/howard-marks-inoperable-cancer-mr-nice

The Mr Nice Foundation will be launched via an event at the Kentish Town Forum in London on Friday February 27th, which will include Howard, Rhys Ifans, members of the Super Furry Animals with their current bands and Blind Arcade, with myself and Norman Jay DJing. Further contributions will be announced during the coming month. Tickets are available here:
http://www.ticketline.co.uk/howard-marks#tour

I’ve got to know Howard during the past 18 months via our mutual friend Kermit Leveridge (formerly of Black Grape and the Ruthless Rap Assassins), whose band, Blind Arcade, is the flagship project for my new label, Super Weird Substance. Howard appears on the Blind Arcade track ‘Universal Prayer’, reciting a biblical passage from Genesis as an ode to the green stuff:


http://vimeo.com/106020154

Howard also recited Kermit’s poem, ‘Lies And Other Fools’, released as a limited 7” single for Record Store Day 2014. The poem harks back to Kermit’s heroin addiction, which so nearly killed him when he injected with a dirty needle during the Black Grape days, and ended up in a critical condition with septicemia, the infection causing serious damage when a ball of bacteria ripped off one of his heart valves, resulting in a major operation a few years ago, which, thankfully, was successful in repairing the damage, giving him a new lease of life, which has resulted in the uplifting life-affirming direction of the Blind Arcade project. Howard’s deep Welsh tones gave the recording a gravitas that perfectly compliments Kermit’s vivid word imagery. You can hear the poem here:
https://soundcloud.com/super-weird-substance/howard-marks-reads-kermit-leveridge-lies-and-other-fools

Howard graced us with his presence at a special Super Weird Substance Vinyl Happening to celebrate Record Store Day, held at Manchester’s Dry Bar last April, which turned out to be the self-same venue from which he’d done his very first Mr Nice book signing:
http://vimeo.com/96036276

When we embarked on our series of Super Weird Happenings last Autumn, taking in Manchester, Glasgow, Bristol, Liverpool and London, Howard was to have been our special guest, featuring in the talks section, as well as spinning some tunes, but just as we were about to announce the dates we received news of his illness, so these plans were thrown up in the air and replacement speakers had to be found (we were very fortunate in being able to, at extremely short notice, bring in Lemn Sissay, Steve Mason, Levanna McLean, John Higgs, Daisy Eris Campbell and Lloyd Bradley, to help fill Howard’s considerable absence).

It promises to be an emotional occasion at the Forum, Howard having made a deep impression on a great many people down the years. His friend, the actor Keith Allen (and father of Lily), summed him up perfectly, describing Howard as ‘one of the cleverest, nicest and most charming old rogues I have had the pleasure of spending time with’. I’d certainly echo that sentiment, and it will be an absolute pleasure for me to contribute to this event in celebration of a true countercultural icon.

Howard Marks & Friends artwork by Pete Fowler

Howard Marks & Friends Facebook Events Page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/199002876937041/

Howard Marks Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Marks

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