If there is a betrayal of that trust [in public organizations], there is a crime. The opposite of truth is not just a lie, the opposite of truth is chaos.
The chaos that is in danger of bringing down the institutions we depend on, to deliver justice.
The final words of fictional character, Dr Nikki Alexander (Emilia Fox), in the finale of Season 22 of the BBC Series Silent Witness. Writers Virginia Gilbert and Michael Crompton have come up with one of those most memorable of TV moments. This is right up there with ACN ‘News Night’ anchor Will McAvoys speech of why America is not the greatest country in the world, written by Aaron Sorkin.
Trump, #BREXIT, et al. All seem to be creating chaos, by undermining the institutions, through the opposite of truth.
I’ve been meaning to write this in time for the anniversary of his death for at least the past 3-years. After really enjoying his Hidden Conversations album [youtube playlist], I put it on my to-do list and here it is. I’ve tried not to just repeat all the other obituaries and rather make this more of a retrospective.
I don’t recall precisely when I became aware of Terry, sometime in the late 1990’s. Probably in some activity or performance around the 1998 release of his Timepeace album. My favorite Callier track, as I suspect many of his UK fan base was the eponymous Ordinary Joe, only bettered by the Nujabes 2005 album remix version.
Terry and his music reminded me why, and rekindled my love of soul music. His style, reminiscent in many ways of Gil-Scott Heron, lyrics often protest or love based. The ying/yang of soul music.
Callier, a Chicago native, he grew-up in the same Cabrini neighborhood as Major Lance, Jerry Butler, Ramsey Lewis and Curtis Mayfield also Charles Stepney, and via his early recording on Chess, house drummer Maurice White, who with Stepney went on to create the Earth, Wind and Fire sound and extravaganza. That area of Chicago was a petri dish for soul music. Callier though was largely undervalued and overlooked in the US. His style, his music, and his personality didn’t fit into a music business stereotype.
Part preacher, part activist, gentle soul, unassuming, and real Dad, Callier was renowned for making short term decisions based only on what was right. He effectively quit the music business in the mid-80’s to become a full time Dad and support his daughter who decided she wanted to stay in Chicago and attend high school there.
By the mid-90’s though, Callier got caught up in the whirlwind of being an American black musician is the UK. It’s something that happens to you, and for you, if you let it. Unlike the American music scene, where you still have to fit into a predetermined stereotype, and your music has to be classified within a narrow band, so it can be sold across a vast market. It Britain, your music has to be good, not exceptional, and YOU have to be adopted, and malleable enough to adapt to the your adopted market.
A great current example of this is Gregory Porter. He’s already Nationally famous in the UK, sells out the largest venues and can regularly be seen on TV. He is even front man for his own series on the BBC, Gregory Porters Popular Voices.
Callier was not just exceptionally authentic, after years of neglect by the US music industry, he was excited to absorb the admiration and inquisitive demand from the UK music industry, and especially the artists. Calliers music blossomed, not just his past work, but his future work. The story of how Acid Jazz founder Eddie Pillar contacted Callier and brought him back to music, is included in pretty much every write-up about Terry, including this obituary from his hometown paper, the Chicago Herald Tribune. In a Guardian article/interview by Tom Huron, following Calliers death in 2012, Pillar himself tells how this came about.
Hey, wassup? It’s Terry, Callier, I got a new way to flow for Ordinary Joe, you know!
and with those words, as he opened his return to music and introduction to the UK at a sold out 100 Club in London, 1991. In the years that followed via both label agreements, and through exposure getting absorbed into the emerging UK hip-hop scene. Over the coming years, Callier was involved in Giles Petersons UK label, Talkin’ Loud, stable-mate Urban Species; this low-res home recording of Callier and Urban species on the autonomous Later with Jools Holland, shows Terry in great form playing the soul man to the hip-hop
Callier, like many others, including Alexander O’Neal have found the UK Soul, Jazz, Dance music scene much more compelling than the USA. It’s geographically smaller, much more diverse, less racially profiled and it’s had a successful business span of 50 plus years, and continues today.
It’s easier to perform live, you can get to most of it within day. Musicians and fans can stay home, or at the very least avoid flying to get to gigs. Word travels fast, and there is a national media who broadcast news and tv, that doesn’t require you to spend months on a tour bus in order to spread the word. Most of all the charts are not segregated. When you make #57, as Terry did with Love Theme from Spartacus, it was behind Madonna, Simply Red, RUN-D.M.C. and everyone else, not in a narrowly defined segment.
Calliers real impact can be measured by the fact that the BBC, and the major British broadsheets(the serious papers), The Guardian , The Independent all ran obituaries as well as the New York Times, Most remarkable though, perhaps, was the 2012 Terry Callier Tribute Concert at the Islington Assembly Halls. The youtube video, below, captures the beauty of Terry and his music. His original version of Love Theme to Spartacus.
I would rather be playing music, but what’s important isn’t always what you want, and what you want isn’t always what’s important. Isn’t that the truth?” – Terry Callier
So much rang true. It was great hearing two people discuss guns and the bizarre attitudes towards them in the USA. Among the qoutes, and the serious discussions about 10 kids being killed by guns, the best summary of their exchange was this in the opening seconds.
YOUNGE: I was there for 12-years as a correspondant, and there were two things I never got. I never got healthcare, why would you not want that? And I never got guns…
ELMS: Why would you want that?
Thursdays Robert Elms show on BBC Radio London discussed and took submissions from the listeners on their top-3 British Youth Culture films featuring music. I’d not heard of many of them, so I hit the BBC iPlayer pause button and made a list of all those mentioned. The films are listed as they came up on the show.
The most popular films mentioned, including by Robert were Quadraphenia, Take it or Leave It, and Babylon.
Quadraphenia (1979) features one Gordon Sumner aka Sting, as we as Phil Daniels and is set in London in 1965. The music is predominantly American acts, but features 4-tracks from the Who.
Stardust(1974) features then “teen pop-idol” David Essex as the pop star Jim Mclean and was a follow-on to the 1973 film, That’ll be the day. It was a surprisingly gritty film, and certainly had an impact on me. The soundtrack is primarily numbers by David Essex and Dave Edmunds(as the Stray Cats).
Babylon(1980) features Brindsley Forde’s character as he takes his reggae sound system based in west London. The film was for the most part set in “current times” and was no a retrospective. It was a relatively low-budget film compared to the first two entries.
Telstar– The Joe Meek Story(2008) set in the 1960’s about about Joe Meek, the flamboyantly gay, tone deaf, songwriter-producer behind the ’60s. Features many 1960’s tracks.
The Harder they come(1972) – Honorary entry, highly rated, not British. Features reggae star Jimmy Cliff(and others), filmed in Jamaica. Reggae soundtrack primarily featuring Jimmy Cliff, but also Toots & The Maytals, Desmond Dekker.
Breaking Glass(1980) London new wave/punk scene – featuring Phil Daniels, Hazel O’Conner and Jonathon Pryce.
Absolute Beginners(1986) Set in the late 1950’s, famously features David Bowie and Bowie tracks, but also Sade, Paul Weller and Gil Evans.
Young Soul Rebels(1991) Set in London 1977 and the Queens Silver Jubilee celebrations and two friends running a pirate radio station. Music features many jazz-funk style tracks popular at the time.
24-Hour Party People(2002) Retrospective on the mid-1970’s with Tony Wilson setting up Factory Records whose acts included Joy Division(New Order), The Happy Mondays. Features racks by the Clash, the Pistols, Happy Mondays, Simpley Red, New Order.
Human Traffic(1999) features the Cardiff club scene of the 1990’s and a story around a weekend of music, love and club culture. Varied club, trance music tracks inc. Fatboy Slim, Public Enemy, Armand van Helden and more.
Velvet Goldmine(1998) set in 1984, but primarily about the 1970s glam rick era. Surprisingly features Ewan McGregor and Christian Bale, also Eddie Izzard.Music from bands of the glam rock scene inc. Roxy Music, T-Rexx and also contemporary artists such as Thom Yorke.
That’ll be the day(1973) drama set in the late 1950’s/early 60’s with David Essex as the lead, and featuring a soundtrack of early rock and roll, primarily American inc. Jerry Lee Lewis, The Everly Brothers, Bobby Darin et al.
HELP!(1965) drama film featuring the Beatles and their music, but based on a story about Ringo and a ring being a human sacrifice.
The Commitments(1991) – story of a imaginary Irish band the Commitments and their struggles to make it. Features classic remkes by the band of classic songs. Features the vocals of lead singer Andrew Strong.
Kill Your Friends(2015) drama set at the height of the Britpop music scene in the 1990’s.
Expresso Bongo(1959) drama about the music business featuring Laurence Harvey and Silva Sims, Cliff Richard. Cliff Richard provides much of the soundtrack.
Pink Floyd The Wall(1982) not clear(to me) this film belongs, but it is set in the UK and around the music business. Pink Floyd provide majority of soundtrack.
Control(2007) biopic/profile of Ian Curtis the troubled lead singer of Joy Division. Soundtrack includes tracks from glam rock(Roxy Music, David Bowie) through Punk through electronic and especially remade and original Joy Division tracks.
Backbeat(1994) dramatization of the Hamburg(late 50’s) period of the Beatles. Soundtrack by various artists from the time.
Flame(1975) drama featuring the band Slade as 1970’s band Flame. Features reworked Slade tracks, also many stars of the then pop-music industry are in Cameos.
Bronco Bullfrog(1969) gritty East London drama covering the period and influences that lead to the Mod movement.
Radio on(1979) road trip drama set in 1970’s Britain. Soundtrack features Bowie, Kraftwerk, Ian Dury and the Blockheads
Born to Boogie(1972) – features Marc Bolan and Ringo Starr pseudo documentary about T-REXX.
Nowhere Boy(2009) dramatization of the formative years of John Lennon. Sountrack features tracks by Elvis Presley, Dickie Valentine, Gene Vincent and others, as well as remakes of tracks by cast members.
Beat Girl(1960) (I assume not the 2013 DJ based remake?) Released in the US as Wild for Kicks. Set in the late 1950’s features numerous British character actors including Adam Faith, Oliver Reed and Christopher Lee. Notable John Barry’s first music soundtrack commission, with vocal tracks performed by Adam Faith.
Blow-Up(1966) archetypal mod photographer shoots mysterious beauty drama featuring David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave et al. great jazz soundtrack by Herbie Hancock.
Performance(1970) Classic Nicolas Roeg film about an east London gangster and a former rcok superstar. Stars Mick Jagger; also an appearnce by one of my favorites from the 1970’s Callan series, Anthony Valentine.Sountrack features track by Merry Clayton and Buffy Sainte-Marie, and one by Jagger.
Sid and Nancy(1986) morbid biopic about Sid Vicious of the sex pistols; features Gary Oldman. Soundtrack features classic Pogues performances, also Joe Strummer and the Sex Pistols and others.
The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle(1980) “documentary” about the Sex Pistols break-up, from the point of view of Malcom McLaren the Pistol manager. Soundtrack includes many Pistols songs specially engineered for the album using older lyrics and band members, as Johnny Rotten refused to participate.
Catch us if you Can(1965) released in the US as “Having a wild weekend”. Eponymous movie named after the David Clark 5 (DC5) hit, filmed at the peak of their success. The film is a drama about a model and a stunt actor.
Still Crazy(1998) (incorrectly called Strange Fruit on the Elms show). Features Billy Connolly, Jimmy Nail and Bill Nighy, as well as many others. The seminal 1970’s band “Strange Fruit” reuniting after twenty years of silence. Soundtrack contains tracks by the cast, written by the likes of Chris Difford, Mick Jones, and Jeff Lyne(ELO).
It couldn’t happen here(1987) Surreal Pet Shop boys movie, based on memories of Lowe/Tennats childhood, crossed with Mrs Thatchers late 80’s England. Ensemble British cast including Barbara Windsor. Soundtrack by, and featuring classics of the Pet Shop Boys.
Smashing Time(1967) Comedy drama filmed in London and written by George Melly. Stars Rita Tushingham, Lynn Redgrave and Michael York. Lots of satire, also Juke Box Jury is parodied.
Spinal Tap(1984) American film, Directed by Rob Reiner and set in 1982 about a British heavy metal band, Spinal Tap. Film didn’t qualify for a formal entry in the list as it is staged around the bands American comeback tour, filmed in California, and thus not about British youth culture. Soundtrack features songs written and performed by the cast.
The Rutles(1978) original title All You Need Is Cash. charts of the adventures of the prefab four, a total Beatles send-up. The soundtrack also parodied many Beatles songs, and features the work of Neil Innes of Monty Python. Actually, if you like the Beatles, this film is quite good, if you don’t like the Beatles, this film is very good.
From the Robert Elms Facebook page:
British Hustle(1978) – Few details, seems to have been a film shot at Clouds, Brixton, featuring some of London’s club dancers at the time, including Tommy Mack. Also includes Greg Edwards as DJ.From this clip and this clip on YouTube, seems to be a documentary rather than movie.
Pirate Radio(2009) original title The Boat that Rocked. Movie about the early days of pirate radio, set in the 1960’s, primarily a comedy parodying Radio Caroline. Soundtrak contains many classic tracks from the time, mostly British.
I mentioned this list and the show on Stuarts facebook page. Stuart runs a fantastic used music and record shop. He is a brillaintc resource, and in a flash came back with these two films which hadn’t previously been listed.
Rude Boy(1980) Features The Clash and a fictional roadie as well as actual events from the time. Shot in Birmingham and the West Midlands. Soundtrack includes live, rehearsal and recorded versions of Clash tracks.
Dance Craze(1981) documentary film about 2 Tone. Film includes broad selection of live performances of 2 Tome bands at the time including Madness, Bad Manners, The Specials, The Beat.
Do you have any others to include in the list? The classification was British, and Youth Culture, that featured music. Documentaries were not really included. Feel free to add a comment below and I’ll update the post.
While you can find copies of most of these movies online, many legitimate through the British Film Institute aka the BFI, also through streaming services such as Amazon, and Lovefilm, I’m not going to include links here.
I heard the BBC reporting the Governor of the Bank of Englands remarks that the “age of irresponsibility” in the City of London is over as the Bank of England promised a crackdown on rogue traders. In a speech on Wednesday evening, the Bank of England Governor said that banks, regulators and individuals had collectively failed to prevent the market rigging that has led to bank fines worth billions of pounds and he recommended tougher rules for the City and longer jail sentences for those who attempt to manipulate markets.
This is a very British approach to a problem, introduce tough penalties, regulations and make things illegal. It made me wonder, how would either the British or the US Governments deal with FIFA, if FIFA was either a UK or US Registered company.
The contrast couldn’t be more stark. In the UK they would spend ages trying to bring FIFA to court under numerous, increasing complex and confusing rules. The trial would last years and cost millions, only to collapse at some point for legal reasons.
Meanwhile, the US Government, rather than push ahead with an Untouchables Style prosecution, as it seems to be. They would settle for a financial penalty, and we’d have never heard about the FIFA corruption until the settlement was announced. FIFA currently holds a reserve of $1.52bn, so no problem in paying US Governments fines. Ironically, paying fines is of course a form of legal bribery not to participate in the theater of court, the exact opposite of what FIFA stands accused of, taking money to allow countries to participate in bidding and holding the theater of the World Cup.
Notwithstanding Sam Cookes heavily racially motivated “A Change is gonna come“, that is exactly what is happening in Texas. Change is coming. The freedoms that have been held here as a right, are being diluted, and by that, I don’t mean the ridiculous moves by the far right, mostly white Christians.. Sure, they may win in the short term, but in the long term, they’ll have to change.
Why? They very growth former Governor Rick Perry espoused and celebrated as often as he could, proclaiming the Texas miracle, the traditional freedoms can’t hold at the growth rates we see in Texas cities. This is more pronounced in the big cities of Austin, Dallas, and Houston, but there is spill over into the mid-size and even the small cities.
This article from BBC amply illustrates the issues and what one, very small place, Kingsbury TX is doing. I assume at least Kingsbury residents pay property tax to the county, and sales tax goes to the state, so in practice they are getting what they pay for. If they don’t have much of anything for a city government then that’s fine until they need it, at which point they won’t be generating enough property tax and sales revenue to cover it, and like everyone else in smalltown Texas, they’ll be expecting the “big city folk” to pickup the slack.
Metropolitan Texas is coming, when people live in close proximity, their priorities and problems change, and that drives the laws and loss of freedoms these people, and apparently a lot at the Texas State house are afraid of. Along with that liberty, also comes a change in attitude to toleration for everything from LGBT to the non-white community.
Instead of historically being able to segregate them, divide, force them to the fringe, more and more people live alongside those formally discriminated against, and learn that, really, they are just people too.
Of course this will take time, looking at the ridiculous, gerrymandered districts that include swathes of big cities intersected with sub-urban and rural areas will make it difficult to unset the time travelers that want to keep Texas in the 1950’s. However, as we’ve seen in the Indiana Religious Freedom debacle, big business, mostly metropolitan based, now holds all the cards and they will halt the journey back to 1950, because their success is dependent on being able to hire and keep the best and the brightest, and they don’t want to work in the 1950’s.
The clear difference between the two is not just the number of deaths, the illness, the treatment etc. but the nature of the society that allowed both to exist. In the 1880’s the Bryant and May Matchwomen had the ability to incite change and the ability to start a union like organization. In China, it’s not at all clear this is even remotely possible.
If you can catch todays Robert Elms show on the BBC iPlayer, it’s well worth a listen. It should be posted by 1pm Central time, and will be available only for the next 7-days. Unless I get time to rip that section of the show and post to soundcloud.