Style Council - taking it down and making it funky.

Style Council – taking it down, making it soulful and funky.

Click on the link here for Audio Player – The Style Council – In Session at BBC 1 – May 5, 1983 – Rebroadcast BBC 6 Music

More 80s tonight. When the Jam split up and Paul Weller re-emerged as The Style Council, the gear-switch seemed rather extreme at first. Proto-Mod/Punk trio The Jam were vibrant and angry. And even though there was a great degree of mellowing right at the end, the change in approach lost a few fans – but it gained a number of others.

The Style Council (if you can forgive the somewhat pretentious name) were a sign of things to come. Bands were changing direction, and a number of groups were gravitating in the direction of Funk and Dance, almost heading in a retro-direction with nods to Motown and Gamble & Huff.

Getting started in 1983 Weller, with former Dexys Midnight Runners alumnus Mick Talbot, along with drummer Steve White and Weller’s then-wife Dee C. Lee, had initial success in every other country by their own. In fact, their first release, a mini-album Introducing The Style Council was issued in the U.S., Canada, Japan and The Netherlands and not the UK.

Although they secured a top-30 hit in the U.S. (the single Mick’s Company), success wasn’t easily forthcoming, and they have gone on to be considered one of the great underrated/under-appreciated bands of the 80′s – they broke up in 1989.

Tonight it’s their first session at The BBC, recorded on May 5, 1983 and rebroadcast in 2012 by BBC 6 Music, after languishing in the vaults for seemingly an eternity.

Paul Weller has gone on to a successful solo career – and in fact, has been getting more attention in his native UK than here in the U.S. – still, a great talent with many facets to his remarkable career.

"It can't happen here".

“It can’t happen here”. Oh yes, it did.

Click on the link here for Audio Player – NBC Radio: Second Sunday – Newark: Anatomy Of A Riot – July 1967 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

No end to turmoil sweeping over American cities in the decade of the 1960s. The rise of poverty and unemployment, and the rapid decay of Urban areas were all ingredients of a potentially chaotic situation. Coupled with that phenomenon known as “white flight” where the mass exodus of whites from urban areas (a phenomenon which began after the war with the advent of suburbia) left many inner cities in a state of desolation and where many factories relocated to other parts of the country, turning once thriving urban centers into wastelands.

And there was racial discrimination, the struggle of the Civil Rights movement had by no means ended. It wasn’t the exclusive property of the South, it was everywhere; in every city and corner of America. And all the talk of legislation and improvements of living and work, the promises of a better life – they were still out of reach for many.

And so the frustration began to boil over. It had been going on for a few years. By 1967 there had already been major disturbances in Harlem and Los Angeles’ Watts community years earlier. But 1967 the problems boiled up and the rage inflamed and the streets burned.

It was going to be another long, hot summer.

In July of 1967 a major eruption took place in the predominantly Black New Jersey city of Newark. By the time the violence had ended, some 26 persons were dead and many hundreds more were injured. And Newark became one of many cities to experience a social upheaval that summer.

Months later, NBC Radio would report on the events around Newark, that July week in 1967. Called “Newark: Anatomy of a Riot“, this documentary sought to explore the reasons for the rioting and the aftermath. And trying to find some answers.

Because in 1967, nobody had any.

Here is that documentary as it originally aired 47 years ago.

Another week in a decade of long, hot summers.

Another week in a decade of long, hot summers.

Click on the link here for Audio Player – ABC Radio: Voices In The Headlines – July 21, 1963 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

July 21st came on a Sunday in 1963, and so it was a day devoted to events leading up to the end of a tumultuous week on Planet Earth, not the least of which being a spectacular Solar Eclipse. That should have given an indication, certainly a sign. But, no.

Notorious Alabama Governor George Wallace came to Capitol Hill to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee on pending Civil Rights legislation. After railing against passage of such legislation, engaging in verbal fisticuffs with Senators, and claiming to have proof Martin Luther King was a Communist agent, Wallace remarked “some of my best friends are Negroes”, bringing a roar of laughter from the chamber.

No irony went untouched, it seemed.

And while that was going on, Civil Rights demonstrations sprang up all over the country, and with them came the threat of violence. Welcome to the long, hot Summer of 1963.

But there was other news. A proposed Test Ban Treaty meeting in Moscow between the Soviet Union and the U.S. had some cautiously optimistic, including President Kennedy. The biggest surprise came from Soviet Premier Khruschev who, as some put it, was “ready to give away the keys to the kremlin”. By the end of the week, more had been accomplished at this summit meeting than had been accomplished in the previous 18 years and an announcement of a Test Ban Treaty was set to be announced the following week. It was at least a hopeful sign.

Not so hopeful was news from Saigon where Buddhist demonstrations turned violent with hundreds killed and injured. The Buddhist demonstrators were protesting racial discrimination imposed by the Diem regime. Diem was a Roman Catholic.

And that’s what happened during the week ending July 21st, 1963 as reported on ABC Radio’s Voices In The Headlines.

A Certain Ratio - once described as 'having all the energy of Joy Division, but with better clothes'.

A Certain Ratio – once described as ‘having all the energy of Joy Division, but with better clothes’.

Click on the link here for Audio Player – A Certain Ratio – In Session for John Peel – October 17, 1979 – BBC Radio 1

Ending up with the week with a session from A Certain Ratio and a dose of Post-Punk-Funk.

Still around, though not active. Writing, but not recording at the moment, A Certain Ratio have undergone a huge number of personnel changes since their initial formation in 1977.

This 1979 session catches them with all the original members and just around the time of their first record deal, with Factory Records.

And it just wouldn’t be official without a visit to John Peel, would it? Though not all that well known over on this side of the Atlantic, they nonetheless made a splash during the Post-Punk period, and added Funk and Dance to the mix.

So here’s that session, recorded on October 17, 1979.

Charles Munch leading the French National Orchestra in a world Premier from 1951

Charles Munch leading the French National Orchestra in a world Premier from 1951

Click on the link here for Audio Player – Charles Munch, cond. The French National Orchestra – Honegger: Symphony Number 5 (World Premier) – March 9, 1951 – ORTF – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

A few months ago I ran a rehearsal with Charles Munch and The Boston Symphony, preparing for the American Premier of the Symphony Number 5 by Artur Honegger. Charles Munch also conducted the World Premier of the work a few months earlier. That time with the French National Orchestra. The World Premier took place on March 9th, 1951.

As far as I can tell, this broadcast hasn’t been reissued in any form. One reason, I can imagine, is the chatty announcer who manages to keep on talking right over the introduction and into the first few seconds of the piece. I tried to work around it, but it’s impossible not to include at least a small portion.

At any rate, an important premier of a work by an important composer in the 20th Century. I haven’t run A-B comparisons between this performance and the BSO rehearsal, but I’m sure many of you out there will. It’s always nice to hear how different orchestras, particularly two as different as the BSO and the FNO, handle the same work.

Here is that World Premier performance, as broadcast over the ORTF in Paris.


Luchino Visconti - put Neo-realism on the map and in the Theatre.

Luchino Visconti – put Neo-realism on the map and in the Theatre.

Click on the link here for Audio Player – Luchino Visconti Interview by Arthur Boyers – BBC Transcription Service – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

As those defining moments in the history of Cinema, and the words from the people behind those moments start to fade from memory, it never hurts to be reminded where things come from, and never hurts to hear from those people responsible.

Most film buffs are well aware of the Neo-Realist Movement in Italian cinema, beginning during World War 2. That gritty depiction of life and the human drama brought a breath of fresh air to a cinematic form clogged with happy endings and contrived tear-jerker melodrama.

One of the first Filmmakers to seize on to the idea of the Neo-Realist concept was Luchino Visconti. After working as an assistant to the French legend Jean Renoir, Visconti made his first film, the neo-realist classic Ossessione. And even though the film was terribly received in Italy, it went on to become the prototype for a form that swept through European Cinema after the war and well into the 1950s.

During this interview, conducted by film historian Arthur Boyers for the BBC around 1963, Visconti re-traces some of his early attempts and successes as well as some of his difficulties establishing a career which would become one of the most influential in later 20th Century Cinema.

At first a bomb, but went on to become one of the most influential movies of a generation.

At first a bomb, but went on to become one of the most influential movies of a generation.

Tito Puente - Spicing up a Sunday.

Tito Puente – Spicing up Sunday.

Click on the link here for Audio Player – Tito Puente’s Golden Men Of Latin Jazz – Estival Jazz – Lugano, Switzerland – July 3, 1993 – RTS

Heating up Sunday this week. The legendary Tito Puente and his Golden Men of Latin Jazz, featuring James Moody on Sax and Mongo Santamaria on bongos, live at Estival Jazz from Lugano Switzerland, recorded on July 3rd, 1993.

As one of the pivotal figures in the Latin Jazz movement of the 1950s, Puente enjoyed huge success in both Latin and Latin Jazz genres, and he was instrumental in turning around the role of percussion in Jazz. Latin rhythm became influential in all aspects of Jazz – and it freed up a lot of drummers to explore and emulate that new-found freedom in the process.

Starting out as a drummer in Machito’s Afro-Cuban band (one of the initial Latin Jazz bands on the scene in the 1940s), Puente quickly branched out, forming his own band, he attracted a considerable amount of attention from the audience and critics. His Mambo and Salsa rhythms spawned interest throughout the New York Jazz community and Puente joined forces with a veritable who’s who of figures prominent in the evolving Bop and East Coast schools of Jazz.

By 1993 he was one of the elder statesmen of Latin Jazz – enjoying a long and celebrated career as one of its prime movers and shakers.

Here’s who joined Tito in the festivities:

Tito Puente – timbales, percussion, vocals
Mongo Santamaria – bongo, percussion
Giovanni Hidalgo – congas, percussion
James Moody – saxophone, flute
Charlie Sepulveda – tromba
Dave Valentine – flute
Hilton Ruiz – piano
Andy Gonzales – electric bass
Ignacio Berroa – drums

As a sample of who Tito Puente was all about (if you don’t know), and as a reminder to those of you who do, here is that concert from Lugano Switzerland, given at the Piazza della Riforma.