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MUSIC Video: The Specials – ‘Ghost Town’ Reflects A Period Of Economic Unrest, That Has Come Full Circle

by on Sunday, September 30, 2012 at 4:53 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

In 1981, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s neoliberal policies — marked by austerity, deregulation, union-busting, and privatization — pummeled the economy with an 11.3% unemployment rate, and riots erupted literally everywhere in the UK, spreading from city to city, town to town.

This was the political climate in which The Specials released their amazing 3-song EP, with ‘Ghost Town’ as its single. With two albums under their belt — an absolutely incredible self-titled debut LP, and a remarkable follow up, More Specials; both infusing upbeat Jamaican Ska with the raw energy of punk — the band allowed its sound to evolve with ‘Ghost Town‘.

The song injects a subdued, haunting, almost middle-eastern melody with sparse, dark, post-apocalyptic lyrics, evoking the surreal imagery of a downtrodden urban wasteland. 

Jerry Dammers reveals his inspiration for writing the song:

There was a riot in Brixton about a year before the record came out. I was writing the song partly about that. Also, Britain was falling apart. The car industry was closing down in Coventry. We were touring, so we saw a lot of it. Liverpool and Glasgow were particularly bad. The overall sense I wanted to convey was impending doom.

It remained #1 in the charts for three weeks, having charted the very day after riots began to spread, making the song something of an anthem for that era. But, listening to the lyrics, you might think they were singing about 2012.

Ghost Town:

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 LYRICS:

This town, is coming like a ghost town
All the clubs have been closed down
This place, is coming like a ghost town
Bands won’t play no more
too much fighting on the dance floor

Do you remember the good old days before the ghost town?
We danced and sang, and the music played in a de boomtown

This town, is coming like a ghost town
Why must the youth fight against themselves?
Government leaving the youth on the shelf
This place, is coming like a ghost town
No job to be found in this country
Can’t go on no more
The people getting angry 

This town, is coming like a ghost town
This town, is coming like a ghost town
This town, is coming like a ghost town
This town, is coming like a ghost town

by Jerry Dammers/2 Tone Records

R.I.P. Adam Yauch (1964 – 2012) Of The Beastie Boys

by on Friday, May 4, 2012 at 3:37 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

Photo by Phil Andelman

From the website of Beastie Boys’ publicist, Nasty Little Man:

It is with great sadness that we confirm that musician, rapper, activist and director Adam “MCA” Yauch, founding member of Beastie Boys and also of the Milarepa Foundation that produced the Tibetan Freedom Concert benefits, and film production and distribution company Oscilloscope Laboratories, passed away in his native New York City this morning after a near-three-year battle with cancer. He was 47 years old.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Yauch taught himself to play bass in high school, forming a band for his 17th birthday party that would later become known the world over as Beastie Boys.

With fellow members Michael “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Adrock” Horovitz, Beastie Boys would go on to sell over 40 million records, release four #1 albums–including the first hip hop album ever to top the Billboard 200, the band’s 1986 debut full length, Licensed To Ill–win three Grammys, and the MTV Video Vanguard Lifetime Achievement award. Last month Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, with Diamond and Horovitz reading an acceptance speech on behalf of Yauch, who was unable to attend.

In addition to his hand in creating such historic Beastie Boys albums as Paul’s Boutique, Check Your Head, Ill Communication, Hello Nasty and more, Yauch was a founder of the Milarepa Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness and activism regarding the injustices perpetrated on native Tibetans by Chinese occupational government and military forces. In 1996, Milarepa produced the first Tibetan Freedom Concert in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, which was attended by 100,000 people, making it the biggest benefit concert on U.S. soil since 1985’s Live Aid. The Tibetan Freedom Concert series would continue to stage some of the most significant benefit shows in the world for nearly a decade following in New York City, Washington DC, Tokyo, Sydney, Amsterdam, Taipei and other cities.

In the wake of September 11, 2001, Milarepa organized New Yorkers Against Violence, a benefit headlined by Beastie Boys at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom, with net proceeds disbursed to the New York Women’s Foundation Disaster Relief Fund and the New York Association for New Americans (NYANA) September 11th Fund for New Americans–each chosen for their efforts on behalf of 9/11 victims least likely to receive help from other sources.

Under the alias of Nathanial Hörnblowér, Yauch directed iconic Beastie Boys videos including ”So Whatcha Want,” ”Intergalactic,” “Body Movin” and “Ch-Check It Out.” Under his own name, Yauch directed last year’s Fight For Your Right Revisited, an extended video for “Make Some Noise” from Beastie Boys’ Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, starring Elijah Wood, Danny McBride and Seth Rogen as the 1986 Beastie Boys, making their way through a half hour of cameo-studded misadventures before squaring off against Jack Black, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as Beastie Boys of the future.

Yauch’s passion and talent for filmmaking led to his founding of Oscilloscope Laboratories, which in 2008 released his directorial film debut, the basketball documentary Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot and has since become a major force in independent video distribution, amassing a catalogue of such acclaimed titles as Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy, Oren Moverman’s The Messenger, Banksy’s Exit Through The Gift Shop, Lance Bangs and Spike Jonze’s Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait Of Maurice Sendak, and many more.

Yauch is survived by his wife Dechen and his daughter Tenzin Losel, as well as his parents Frances and Noel Yauch.

WATCH “So Watcha Want:”

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Music Video: The Clash Perform “Charlie Don’t Surf”

by on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 10:51 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

Here’s a video of an amazing Clash song, “Charlie Don’t Surf,” from the Sandinista album.

The footage of the video was apparently pulled from a 1982 live performance in Tokyo, Japan, laced w/ scenes from Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, which had been the inspiration for the song. 

In the movie, Robert Duvall’s character, Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore, justifies his orders to reclaim a dangerous beach from the Vietcong so his men could do some surfing, with the phrase “Charlie Don’t Surf.” (Charlie, of course, was the American troops’ slang for the Vietcong).

The chorus:

Charlie don’t surf, and we think he should
Charlie don’t surf, and you know that it ain’t no good
Charlie don’t surf for his hamburger momma
Charlie’s gonna be a napalm star

My interpretation of this, though others may disagree, goes to how the U.S. forces western consumerism down the world’s throats. And for those who dare to resist its Capitalist imperatives, it is napalm for you.

ENJOY!

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LISTEN: Reggae Great Delroy Wilson Sings ‘This Life Makes Me Wonder’

by on Monday, March 7, 2011 at 1:01 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

In 1961, a thirteen year old Delroy Wilson began his music career in Kingston, Jamaica, recording ska hits penned by Lee “scratch” Perry, Coxsone Dodd, amongst others. His music evolved with the sounds of 60’s Jamaica from ska to rocksteady and eventually to reggae. By the late-60s/early-70s he was one of the most influential reggae recording stars on the […]

FREE 12-Song Download: Carbon/Silicon (Ex-Clash Mick Jones) New LP, ‘Carbon Bubble’

by on Monday, November 23, 2009 at 9:11 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

Great news for all impoverished music lovers out there! Carbon/Silicon, featuring — one of my all-time favorite songwriters — Mick Jones (formerly of The Clash and Big Audio Dynamite) and Tony James (formerly of Generation X), have just released their new 12-Song LP entitled The Carbon Bubble. It is available at the Carbon/Silicon site as […]

Watch: Jesus & Mary Chain w/ Hope Sandoval “Sometimes Always” Live – 1994

by on Friday, November 13, 2009 at 10:47 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

If you were told The Jesus & Mary Chain were attempting to pen a love song — a duet — this is EXACTLY what you’d hope to get from them.  Somehow they managed to incorporate their signature detached (brooding) style — something unheard of in a traditional love song — and yet it works here […]

Watch: Bad Brains Perform ‘I & I Survive’ In Paris – 1989

by on Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 9:45 am EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

Here’s an old favorite of mine from Bad Brains.  Unlike a lot of the lightning-fast hardcore tunes they were writing in the early 80s, ‘I & I Survive’ is very much laid-back, melodic reggae.  For that reason it’s one of those timeless tunes from the early hardcore punk days that you can come back to […]

Watch: Paul Weller Performs One Of His Best Hits, “Wild Wood,” Live

by on Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 5:14 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

Paul Weller does an incredible live version of his amazing single, “Wild Wood.”  Enjoy!:

Watch: Iggy Pop Does “The Passenger” Live in 1977

by on Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 4:18 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

Iggy Pop’s contribution to punk is sometimes discounted in the annals of music history, but just for the record: Iggy Pop was MOST DEFINITELY the first punk, at least in the way the music and style of the genre was defined in the 1970s.  Generally, that honor gets bestowed upon bands like The Ramones, The […]