Nothing was sacred in the Frantic Fifties.

Nothing was sacred in the Frantic Fifties.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – Interview with Mamie Van Doren for The Beat Generation – June 6, 1959 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection.

A staple of the American cultural diet since Cinema began; the Exploitation Film. Certainly during the Cold War, the upswing in movies with themes of mayhem, horror, Science Fiction and Popular Culture flooded the theaters and became a staple in the diet of The Drive-In Moviegoer.

And films featuring teenage delinquents, social misfits and titillation were a cornerstone in the cultural diet. Movies portraying any sort of unconventional lifestyle were prime subjects for the leering, exploitive eye. If it was controversial, and running the risk of destroying the moral fiber of our nations youth, there was going to be a movie about it.

And so films like The Beat Generation burst on the scene. Produced by MGM and featuring the young Sex-Siren Mamie Van Doren, along with a virtual who’s who of 50’s exploitation films and strangely, a guest appearance by Louis Armstrong, sought to cash in on a trend of movies whose subject matter were “ripped from today’s headlines”. Inaccurate depictions of those purveyors of experimental Art, Poetry and Music, all lumped into a stereotype of universal derangement with evil hordes of drugged out Beatniks, bent on destroying the fragile fabric of America with hammers of dope, sex and crime.

So, to promote this special brand of film, the studios (in this case MGM) put together Radio Promotion kits featuring interviews with the principals from the film for use on local radio stations to help stimulate moviegoing. This particular promo features an interview with Mamie van Doren and the interviewer is the somewhat clueless Erskine Johnson from MGM Publicity.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Tin Machine - a brief detour.

Tin Machine – a brief detour.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – Tin Machine – Live in Hamburg – Oct. 24, 1991 – WDR

Early 90s David Bowie this weekend. His short-lived group effort with the Sales Brothers, Tin Machine was a much-needed shot in the arm for Bowie, who was going through a phase of musical doldrums. The effort, which became Tin Machine was an inspiration for Bowie and two well-received albums were the result.

Although very popular at the time, the tenure of Tin Machine was only 4 years – just enough to leave a mark and move on.

As a reminder of that, here (with hat-tip to colleague Pat Dallas) is a concert they performed in Hamburg on October 24, 1992, and preserved for posterity by WDR.

Here comes the weekend.

Manfred Mann's Earth Band -  weathering the British Invasion and heading into Prog territory by the 1970s.

Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – weathering the British Invasion and heading into Prog territory by the 1970s.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – Live In London – 1973 – BBC Radio 1 In Concert

A familiar name from the British Invasion days of the mid-60s, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band was a distinct about-face from Pop and into the realm of Prog by the 1970s. Losing the 2 minute formula songs in favor of longer excursions and virtuosic solos, Manfred Mann‘s Earth Band did have several successful hits in the early 70s; most notably Blinded By The Light, which was a staple on many FM Underground stations during that time.

Tonight it’s a concert, recorded at Golders Green Hippodrome in 1973 by the venerable BBC Radio 1 for their In Concert series. Vintage Earth Band, which is still together with two original members, Manfred Mann and Mick Rogers and several personnel changes later. This concert features the original lineup of Mann, Rogers, Chris Slade and Colin Pattenden.

Enjoy – and get ready for the weekend.

Last flight out.

Last flight out.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – NBC Nightly News – March 27, 1975 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection.

As the odyssey of Vietnam wound up the last remaining weeks, the panic spread and the evacuations continued. This time is was Danang; second largest city behind Saigon and site of the largest U.S. airbase.

With the relentless and unchecked advance of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops toward Danang, any thought of making a stand and attempting to turn the tide around were useless. The only thing now was escape.

Panic and hysteria reached fever-pitch. With relatives and dependents of South Vietnamese Military personnel clamoring for the few remaining aircraft left at the airbase, widespread violence and reports of planes doubled in capacity with 2 and 3 people strapped in seats and transport planes struggling to take off from the sheer weight of evacuees turned this into a horrific scene of escape.

Word from the ground was the North Vietnamese were some five days away from entering Danang, if that long. Everything was crashing down very quickly and pessimistic reports were coming in by the minute – and by the minute the word was; Danang was doomed.

And while South Vietnam was busy falling apart, from impending disaster and an attempted Military coup to unseat the Saigon government foiled, President Ford was studying the Tax Cut the House passed the previous night.

Even though the calendar said it was Spring, the Midwest was busy digging itself out of a blizzard that dumped 3 inches of snow from the Rockies to the Mid-West. The snow fall wasn’t all that great, but the accompanying winds of up to 60 miles an hour made driving hazardous. It was the second such storm in as many weeks and more was expected to come.

And that’s a small sample of what went on this March 27th 40 years ago, as viewed by The NBC Nightly News.

Eazy E. - His death came as a shock and a wakeup call.

Eazy E. – His death came as a shock and a wakeup call.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player - CBS World News Roundup – March 27, 1995 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

A lot of news this day, 20 years ago.

Starting off with the ongoing saga of two detained Americans in Iraq. An Iraqi Parliament official referred to David Daliberti and Bill Barloon, who mistakenly crossed the border with Kuwait as infiltrators and may have been intent on sabotage. The White House and family members of the detainees labelled the accusations as “hogwash”. Daliberti and Barloon face 8 years in prison, But an Iraqi official indicated there was room for leniency if the U.S. relaxed certain UN sanctions.

The matter of responding to allegations Bosnian Serb artillery were shelling certain safe-areas brought a stern and serious warning that the UN would request NATO airstrikes if the Serbs didn’t stop.

South Africa’s President Nelson Mandela fired his estranged wife Winnie from a Deputy Ministers job. Pressure had been mounting for weeks to get some resolution to the problem. Mrs. Mandela had been brazenly criticizing the new government and deliberately disobeying government orders. ANC members had been pressuring Nelson Mandela to do something about the situation. But since she was the wife of the President, it was a bit hard as the order could only come from the top. Some felt she had mass popular support and could form her own party, while others disputed that, saying she was a loner with no political support. Time would tell.

The ongoing Major League Baseball Strike was about to get a high-hard-one from the government, who were stepping in and issuing an injunction against Major League Baseball owners. The National Labor Relations Board accused the team owners of bargaining in bad faith. Striking players said they would end their strike if a Court Order was issued, restoring the terms of the old Baseball Contract. But owners were threatening a lock-out and peace would only come at the bargaining table. However nothing would be settled before the 1995 season was slated to begin with replacement players. And even the Pentagon was getting into the fracas, with bans issued preventing military bands and color guards form taking part in games that used replacement players.

And Rap Star Eric Wright – aka: Eazy E, died of AIDS at the age of 31. Doctors at Cedars-Sinai said Wright had taken ill and was diagnosed with AIDS only a month before. His was one of the rare cases of an infected person showing no signs of the illness until its final stages. Wright’s death was shock to the Music world and a wake-up call to others who didn’t take precautions and had unsafe sex to get tested and get safe. Wright issued a statement written before his death saying he didn’t know how he contracted the virus, but that he had lived in the fast lane of fancy cars and fancy women.

And that’s a sample of what went on March 27th, 20 years ago today, as presented by The CBS World News Roundup.

John Renbourn -  One of the shining lights of English Folk.

John Renbourn – One of the shining and gifted lights of English Folk.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – John Renbourn with Bert Jansch and Jacqui McShee – April 10, 1992

More sad news this month with the passing of Folk legend and guitar virtuoso John Renbourn earlier today at age 70.

One of the guiding lights of the British Folk Music movement of the 60s and its revivals ever since, John Renbourn was closely associated with fellow artist Bert Jansch, as well as his work as founding member of the band Pentangle, along with Jansch and Jacqui McShee.

Since the early 1960s, when British Folk was seeing a resurgence in popularity, along with interest in American Blues, Renbourn was versatile and combined elements of Blues and Folk and it became a stepping off point for many musicians to follow in the early 1960s. John Renbourn was a highly influential figure in music; active and touring until just recently.

He leaves behind a legacy of many albums and collaborations with a virtual who’s who of Musicians.

Tonight it’s a concert recorded at the Iron House Coffeehouse in Northampton Massachusetts on April 10th 1992. Together with fellow former Pentangle founder Bert Jansch and singer-songwriter Jacqui McShee, it’s a little under 80 minutes of tour de force virtuosity. And a reminder of what an amazing musician and gifted artist John Renbourn was.

RIP: John Renbourn – (1944-2015)

Dr. Farid Zeineddine - The Cold War took on many different roles.

Dr. Farid Zeineddine – The Cold War took on many different roles.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – Youth Wants To Know – Interview with Dr. Farid Zeineddine – Dec. 3, 1957 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

Further evidence that the Cold War took on many different forms, a crisis in the Middle had developed towards the end of 1957. Tensions between Syria and Turkey were bordering on War, with Turkey accusing Syria of becoming a Soviet Satellite. And Syria accusing Turkey of becoming a tool of the West.

Starting in August of 1957, tensions began when a shake up in the Syrian government prompted Turkish officials to conclude Syria had been the object of a coup from Moscow and that a number of important officials had been replaced by those with warm ties to Moscow.

The alleged actions caused distress among Syria’s neighbors, notably Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon. Turkey responded by massing troops along its border with Syria and tensions quickly escalated.

In what began as a showdown between Turkey and Syria developed into a showdown between Washington and Moscow, since the U.S. was on Turkey’s side and Syria was warming to Moscow, or at least it appeared that way.

And so, in typical fashion during the Cold War period, where any crisis could quickly spiral out of control into World War 3, much attention was brought to the crisis. Including this episode of the popular TV and Radio Program Youth Wants To Know.

This program features Syrian Ambassador to the U.N, Dr. Farid Zeineddine and a plethora of questions from high-school students.

Here is that broadcast, as it was first aired on December 3, 1957.

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