The Dandy Warhols tonight. Recorded live at Bristol Academy in 2003 by the venerable BBC. With ten albums to their credit and no end in sight, The Dandy Warhols have been swinging away and punching holes since 1994. Considered something of a mashup of Neo-Psychedelia, alternative rock, garage Rock and Synthpop, they have gained worldwide popularity, and thanks to an ad for Vodafone utilizing a track, Bohemian Like You, they gained a foothold on the collective consciousness of America by way of Advertising.
But that’s just part of their story. Together since 1994, the band has achieved a distinction not many artists can lay claim to; reaching out and grabbing new audiences while maintaining their experimental nature.
Still together after some 22 years, members of the band individually have undertaken a wide variety of side-projects and off-shoot bands.
With a new album, Distortionland to be released in April 8th, they are getting ready for a major u.S. tour, starting in April and a major European tour starting in May.
In the meantime, in case you aren’t familiar with the music of The Dandy Warhols, or are just getting into them, here is that set, recorded at Bristol Academy in 2003.
Greece was in a state of uproar and chaos, and had been for several years. Fighting both the Germans and Italians during World War 2. Going through an occupation by Germany until liberation in September of 1944. Immediately plunged into a Civil War – a brief peace before more civil war. And between all that, a country trying to rebuild; a financial situation in turmoil, citizens starving, a communist led insurgency, a loyalist government trying to maintain power, a country whose currency, owing to inflation, was rendered worthless – a country spiraling into despair.
That was what it looked like on February of 1948, when Special Envoy Eugene Clay, Economic Adviser to the U.S. mission on Aid To Greece, assessing the situation to the State Department and in an address broadcast nationwide on February 4th.
As Clay explained it – the situation in Greece wasn’t good even before the war, with the standard of living second only to neighboring Albania as the worst in Europe. With the war devastating what little was left, and the country now turned into a hotbed of rebel militias fighting with government forces, it made a bad situation only worse.
Clay went on to describe the on-going guerrilla war, which he attributed to Communist inspired groups wanting an intervention from the Soviet Union and stretching the chaotic situation even further. He claimed that some of the rebels were equipped with weapons and supplies obtained from the Soviets via Yugoslavia. To compound matters, the civil war was now creating an army of refugees, escaping the fighting. The numbers of displaced were said to be in excess of 400,000, with more each day.
All this by way of saying, some monies allocated by the U.S. to support Greece’s reconstruction had been sidetracked to pay for military supplies and training of government troops to fight the guerrillas. But even at that, reconstruction was going on and some signs of stability were being seen. Roads were being rebuilt and ports, which had been badly damaged from the war, were being rehabilitated. But the point Clay was getting at was; if Greece was to succeed in preventing a Communist takeover, the U.S needed to increase its military presence and offer more military aid. And that’s what it was all about.
Cold War diplomacy and fear of Communist takeovers, as they were expressed on February 4th 1948.
Harry Truman’s Civil Rights legislation. It was the fulfillment of a promise Truman made while campaigning for election (re-election) in 1948. It succeeded in alienating the South. So much so, that the Dixiecrat vote openly boycotted the election; in some states eliminating Truman’s name from the ballot, replacing it was Strom Thurmond, who was a solid supporter of Segregation and Jim Crow laws.
But even with Truman’s victory, and his promise of making-good his commitment to improving race relations in this country, it was a straight uphill fight. It was Truman who banned segregation in the Armed Forces and it was Truman who actively campaigned for voting rights, particularly in the South, where Poll Taxes, Jim Crow laws and a vast range of restrictions made the African-American vote in the South practically impossible to achieve.
It was all fodder for discussion, debate and argument. And even though the instances of Segregation and open racism were the most visible in the South, it was widespread; in just about every state and city in the Country. The South could take the blame, but it was a problem just as prevalent in the North and West.
This episode of The Chicago University Roundtable features a discussion, debate is more like it, between Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey and Louisiana Senator Allen J. Ellender. At issue was the introduction of Civil Rights measures, initially introduced by Truman during the 80th Congress, and re-introduced by way of his State of The Union Address, to the 81st Congress.
Listening to this debate, you realize just how deeply entrenched institutionalized discrimination was throughout the U.S. And how, even as recently as 1948, lynching was still being practiced throughout the South. Knowing this was based on actions proposed by President Truman, it wasn’t until five years later that an issue like School Desegregation would be argued before The Supreme Court and it wouldn’t be until years after that desegregation was started, that you start to understand the issue of Civil Rights didn’t happen overnight – it was a long, intense and bloody struggle – and whatever progress was made was hard fought.
In case you forgot, here is a sample of what the state of America’s Civil Rights position was 67 years ago. Here is that discussion between Senator Hubert Humphrey and Senator Allen Ellender from February 6, 1949.
February 5, 1977 – The week was full of new about the Energy Crisis that wasn’t going to go away. America was asked to curb excess, starting with turning down thermostats, while Buffalo New York was declared a disaster area.
President Carter, in the first of what would be many “fireside chats”, spoke about the failure of Americans to plan for the future or to take energy conservation seriously, which America had failed to do, despite warnings of such a crisis for a very long time. He went on to say that most Americans refused to believe America actually had an energy problem, but the Winter of 1977 made it abundantly apparent that the Energy crisis was real.
Wearing a Cardigan Sweater, Jimmy Carter spoke of the need to conserve energy – that he had signed emergency legislation to shift natural gas supplies to shortage areas. And even though some on Capitol Hill thought it wasn’t enough, it was a start in trying to cope with an increasing problem, but many felt it wasn’t a permanent solution, and a permanent solution was needed.
Meanwhile, in Buffalo, the blizzard which hit the area was so severe, officials were asking the government to do something it hadn’t done before; provide assistant with the dig-out. The President’s son Chip, went to Buffalo to get a first-hand look at the disaster, and the next day the President signed an Executive order providing Federal assistance in the dig-out for 9 New York state areas.
Some good news – the Federal Unemployment rate dropped from 7.8% to 7.5% for the month of January. The figure didn’t reflect new lay-offs because of natural gas shortages. The figure also wasn’t heralded as the coming of prosperity by some. The 3/10 of 1% drop didn’t seem like much cause for celebration, and President Carter was asking for an economic stimulus package which would, in effect give every American a check for $50.00 as a rebate.
But in Chicago it was a different story – an elevated train crashed into a parked train and the result was 11 persons killed in what was described as the worst accident in the history of the Chicago elevated line.
And in the Middle East, UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim was in Damascus Syria to try and work out some peace plan in the war-torn region. On a fact finding tour, Waldheim had just finished visiting with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and came away feeling optimistic that some 7-nation peace settlement could be reached. Otherwise, as Waldheim admitted – war was inevitable in the next two years.
And that’s just a small slice of what went in the world this week – the week that ended this February 5th in 1977 as reported by CBS Radio and The World This Week.
Earth, Wind and Fire – celebrating the legacy of founder Maurice White, who passed away today at the age of 74, following a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease.
When Earth, Wind and Fire first came on the scene, they weren’t your average horn-based Soul band – they were a lot more. They were a remarkable blend of Soul, Salsa, Rock, R&B, Funk and Jazz. And under White’s guidance became one of the most potent and successful bands of the 70s (and beyond); crossing over and selling some 90 million albums as the result and walking away with some 20 Grammy nominations. Of their work, Rolling Stone once described them as “innovative, precise yet sensual, calculated yet galvanizing” and declared that the band “changed the sound of black pop”.
Over the years, Earth, Wind and Fire have had numerous personnel changes – but it was the guidance along with the songwriting and producing skills of Maurice White that kept the band at the top for so many years, making them, among other things, the first African-American act to sell out Madison Square Garden. Their incredible string of hits stayed that way until White, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the 1980s, finally had to relinquish his place in the band and retire from performing.
As a reminder of how great the band was, even early on, I found this episode of the milestone NET (pre-PBS) TV series Soul! which featured Earth, Wind and Fire, recorded on January 10, 1973. It makes for a wonderful tribute to a musician and musical guide who helped change the landscape, and whose contributions, not only to the band, but to his numerous side projects as producer and writer. Truly a gift and truly a loss. Without Maurice White, Earth, Wind and Fire may have sounded a lot different and had a different story.
February 4, 1979 – a busy day in an even busier week in 1979.
Beginning with reports on the first visit to the U.S. of a Chinese leader in over 30 years. In December of 1978, President Carter announced a normalization of relations between the U.S. and The People’s Republic of China. Shortly after, Washington received an official visit from China’s leader Deng Xiaoping, the first time a Chinese head of state had done so since 1949 when the U.S. broke relations with China over the new Communist regime of Mao Zedong. The move signaled a new era in East-West relations as well as opening the door to a flood of trade between both countries.
Of course, not everybody was happy with it. The Chinese Nationals, living on the island of Formosa weren’t happy, nor were the staunch anti-communists in the U.S., who were convinced it was a victory for Communism. Nonetheless, the diminutive Deng went on a tour of the U.S., visiting cities and discussing trade and cultural exchange.
On the other side of the world, Iran was continuing its upheaval with the arrival of the Ayatollah Khomeini from exile in Paris. He was greeted by thousands of supporters in Tehran. But the purge, which eventually saw the deaths of supporters of the old regime of The Shah and a sweep to the side of Fundamentalism was just in its beginnings. First to be demanded he step down was the provisional head of the Iranian government, Shapour Bakhtiar. He refused to resign, saying he was legitimately elected to office. But The Ayatollah wasn’t taking no for an answer. Things were going to get more and more interesting as the days went on.
And the week saw the funeral of a much respected, and sole head of the Liberal wing of The Republican Party; Nelson Rockefeller, who died earlier in the week. Commentaries follow announcement of Rockefeller’s death lamented the loss of this once-potent wing of the Party; a wing which had come into rapid decline over the years with the Republican’s dramatic shift to the right since Barry Goldwater’s rise to power in 1964 and their almost total demise by 1968. Henry Kissinger eulogized his former colleague and vice-President to Gerald Ford, saying Nelson Rockefeller would have made a wonderful President, but fate had different plans.
And that’s just a tiny portion of what went on, this February 4th in 1979, capping off a momentous week and reported by CBS Radio News.
Beach House – a band who have been almost constantly touring the past few years, is getting huge attention all over the world. Further evidence, the work you put into something, the results will show up.
This concert coincides with the release of their sixth album, Thank Your Lucky Stars, and was recorded live at the Pitchfork Festival in Chicago from October of last year.
One of the more highly regarded of the Dream Pop bands, Beach House have been around since 2004, and in the 12 years since they got started, they’ve been steadily building up a following. With the hypnotic vocals of Victoria Legrand and the multi-talented Alex Scully handling everything else – Beach House have established a solid reputation for themselves. Augmented by two additional musicians for live gigs, Beach House and nonetheless sparse in their execution, but the simplicity is deceptive. There’s a lot going on and it’s engaging and always worth repeated listenings.
It’s a safe bet they will be touring the Festivals this year – I suspect they may make another appearance at Coachella and SXSW, but it’s not confirmed. No matter where they are playing this year you really need to check them out in a concert setting, and I would classify them in the “must see” category.
In the meantime, here is their appearance at the Pitchfork Festival in Chicago from October 29th.
I would definitely turn this one up and fall head-first into it. Just under a half-hour, this little band from Baltimore creates a wonderful and engrossing atmosphere. And you can’t ask for much better than that.