It’s been great to see Classic Album Sundays, the brainchild of DJ and radio presenter Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy, grow from strength to strength since its inception in 2010. In July that year I launched the monthly Living To Music series on my blog, with a classic album selected for the first Sunday of each month and the listeners subsequently sharing their impressions online. On hearing about this, a mutual friend had told me that Colleen was doing something similar in a more intimate manner, sitting down after Sunday dinner to listen to favourite LPs with family and friends – these gatherings evolving the name Classic Album Sundays. Living To Music would inspire Colleen to take a more direct approach, putting on audiophile listening events, the first of these held that October at the Hanbury Arms in North London, initially following the same albums I was featuring on Living To Music, but subsequently branching out on its own direction.
Norman Jay MBE is no less than a UK DJ icon. A first generation Black Briton born into a Notting Hill-based Caribbean family, Norman first came to wider attention via London’s mid-‘80s Rare Groove scene, underpinned by his ‘Original Rare Groove Show’ on the city’s then pirate dance music station Kiss FM, having initially set out his stall via annual appearances at the Notting Hill Carnival, where his brother, Joey, re-branded his Great Tribulation Reggae sound system to the Funk / Disco / Soul-geared Good Times Roadshow.
There’s not much more I can say about John Higgs. He’s been a constant source of cerebral nourishment and emotional resonance during these past 5 years, since I read his cult-classic ‘The KLF: Chaos, Magic & The Band Who Burned A Million Pounds’ (2013). I’ve since been enlightened and entertained by his subsequent books, ‘Stranger Than We Can Imagine: Making Sense Of The Twentieth Century’ (2015) and ‘Watling Street: Travels Through Britain And Its Ever-Present Past’ (2017). John has a wonderful way of viewing history and culture, making many connections generally missed – I wrote more in depth about this in a piece about John and his work, when ‘Stranger Than We Can Imagine’ was published, called ‘Culture Reconstructor’:
Dave Haslam’s new book, ‘Sonic Youth Slept On My Floor’ has just been published by Constable. It’s an ode to his time in Manchester, from 1980 when he arrived in the city from his Birmingham home to study English Literature, right through until what he’s been up to in more recent times, but as you’d expect given Dave’s Haçienda legacy, particular emphasis is placed on his time as DJ at the much-hallowed venue, and the clubs that orbited around it.
Tom Wolfe, the famous American author and journalist, died yesterday, aged 88. He wrote the countercultural classic, ‘The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test’, published in 1968, which documented the exploits of Ken Kesey’s Californian LSD evangelists, The Merry Pranksters, who played a leading role in the emergence of the psychedelic era during the 1960s – their ‘Acid Test’ gatherings, originally at Kesey’s La Honda farm, unleashing psychedelic light shows, whilst providing the launchpad for the band The Grateful Dead.
I’m in London this evening for Tim Lawrence’s ‘Life And Death On The New York Dance Floor 1980-1983’ book launch at The Institute Of Light, which is hosted by Pages Of Hackney. I’ll be talking to Tim about his hugely impressive, highly informative, often deeply emotional excavation of New York nightlife in the early ’80s. I blogged about it recently:
Back in the early 2000s, when I began to explore the internet properly, discovering a number of DJ forums discussing dance culture and its history, it was clear that the early ’80s had been largely obscured. This was the period that followed the supposed death of Disco in 1979 (prompted by the vitriolic racist / homophobic ‘’Disco Sucks’ campaign fronted by WLUP Chicago shock jock Steve Dahl), and preceded the emergence of House music during the mid-’80s.
Meant to give both of these the heads-up in recent months, and certainly ahead of Christmas, but I’ve been so swamped with other stuff I haven’t had chance.
Anyone who’s been following the blog during recent times will be in no doubt of my admiration for John Higgs’s ‘The KLF: Chaos, Magic And The Band Who Burned A Million Pounds’, a book like no other, full of incendiary ideas and inspiration – a proper mindsparker. I wrote about it here:
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.