I hear the sirens calling
As the rain is gently falling

Ralf und Jon

kraftwerktatekraftwerkjonsnowThere are vast numbers of Kraftwerk fans out there and, thanks to a telephone system made of old baked bean tins and a computer server powered by a hamster in a wheel, most of them didn’t get a ticket for the group’s week-long series of gigs at the Tate Modern in London. Somebody who did was Channel 4 News anchor Jon Snow, who is pictured here with his 3-D goggles at the “Trans Europe Express” night. The shot was posted on Twitter by Channel 4 News journalist Jennifer Rigby.

You can read a review of the “Trans Europe Express” show, which saw Ralf Hutter and his buddies also playing material from “The Man Machine” and “Computerworld”, at the Facebook page for Electronic magazine. The first two paragraphs of the review are below. Click here for the rest and don’t forget to hit the “like” button on the page while you’re there. I am talking to you too, Mr Snow. If you’re into Kraftwerk, I guarantee you’ll be into Electronic.

kraftwerktatereview

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Radio head

radiohatI love Retro Vintage Modern Hi-Fi – “Usually retro, sometimes vintage, sometimes modern, but always hi-fi” – a place for audiophiles, retro futurists, and fans of hi-fi pin-up girls. I’m in on all three counts. Now in its fourth year, this is a blog about valve amplifiers that look like they belong in a mad scientist’s laboratory, speakers far too big for most people’s living rooms, reel-to-reels straight out of a 1960s spy movie, painstakingly oiled and polished walnut and teak cabinets, and audio oddities galore. I particularly like the Two-Tube Radio Hat, which is pictured here on the cover of the June 1949 edition of Radio Electronics. “Totally mobile, no extra aerial needed, covers the entire broadcast band within a 20-mile radius,” trumpets an advert for the hat inside the magazine. “Acclaimed from coast to coast,” it adds. Yes, I don’t doubt it for a moment.


The psychedelic elephant in the room

I’ve been looking at old copies of Billboard magazine on Google Books (I owe fellow former Melody Maker journalist Rob Fitzpatrick a shandy for telling me about these) and I’ve been especially enjoying the adverts. The three examples above – for The Who, The Move and Marvin’s Circus, an obscure psychedelic beat band from Ohio who put out two singles on MGM before melting into oblivion – all appear in the 24 June 1967 edition. Click on the images for larger versions and click here for the full magazine.


My first record, my first music magazine

Disco 45 T-Rex Special
Jeepster by T-Rex (A-side)
Jeepster by T-Rex (B-side)

The first record I ever bought was “Jeepster” by T-Rex. I’ve still got my original copy. I’ve still got pretty much all my old records. I don’t know how many there are, but they take up an entire room. Unfortunately, I don’t have my copy of the Disco 45 T-Rex Special, which I think I am right in saying was the first music magazine I ever bought.

Disco 45 was a monthly magazine consisting mainly of song lyrics and photos. It was published by a company called Trevor Bolton Partnership and launched as a newsprint title in 1970, but was later a full-colour glossy. Despite stiff competition from magazines like Popswop, It’s Here And Now and Look-InDisco 45 kept going until 1981, when it was finally seen off by the phenomenally successful Smash Hits – as were most of the other 1970s teen magazines.


Electronic magazine

As you may have noticed – you did notice, didn’t you? – I have neglected my blog for the last few months. It’s because I’ve been stupidly busy putting together a new magazine called Electronic. It’s the Special Secret Project I talked about back in May.

Electronic is now available at WHSmiths and all good newsagents throughout the UK. You can also order it online by clicking here. Underworld are on the cover, as I’m sure you’ve already spotted, and there are also articles on The Human League, Detroit techno, Can, Gary Numan, A Guy Called Gerald, Minimal Wave, Silver Apples and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, plus a superb Kraftwerk interview from 1977. There’s a free CD too, featuring the likes of Cabaret Voltaire, OMD, Heaven 17, Devo, Ultrazox, Fad Gadget, The Normal and Yazoo. The magazine is published by Future (the makers of mags like Classic Rock and Prog) and at the moment we are just putting out a one-off pilot issue, but there will be more if the pilot sells well.

Please click here for the magazine’s Facebook page (and don’t forget to hit the “like” button) and here to follow us on Twitter.


The Victorian Gentlemen’s Guide To Group Sex

Pussy – For Cats That Should Know Better

Bitch – It's Bollocks And It's The Dog'sThe Victorian Gentleman's Guide To Group SexI’m working on a Special Secret Project with Mark Wernham. I’d love to tell you all about it, but I can’t. It’s a secret, innit. For the initial stages, we’ve been helped by Steve Appleton and Paul Thompson, for which we’re extremely grateful. Paul’s name isn’t a link because he doesn’t have a website because he thinks he lives in 1942 because he’s round the fucking twist.

I’ve worked with Mark, Steve and Paul many times in the past. Our first Special Secret Project was a book called Pussy – For Cats That Should Know Better, which was a spoof of lad’s magazines like Loaded and Nuts. It was published by Bantam Press in 2004 and it sold quite well, at one point managing to scrape into the Amazon Top 100. Our next Special Secret Project was Bitch – It’s Bollocks And It’s The Dog’s, a follow-up to Pussy, which sold pretty well too. Another of our Special Secret Projects was an utterly genius idea for a book called The Victorian Gentleman’s Guide To Group Sex. That was roundly rejected by every publisher in the known universe.

Our latest Special Secret Project is not a book, as it goes, but I’m obviously hoping it ends up doing a Pussy rather than a Victorian Gentleman’s Guide To Group Sex, if you get my driftI am also hoping that, having tagged this post with the words “Pussy” and “Group Sex”, I get a big uplift in the number of visitors to my blog.


Life in 1960

The Trieste in Life magazine, 1960Marlon Brando in Life magazine, 1960Democratic National Convention in Life magazine, 1960I was an avid reader of Life as a teenager. There was always a pile of old copies of Life in my school library, which was weird given that it was an American magazine and my school was in a little market town in rural England. I’ve no idea how they came to be in the library. This was in the late 1970s and most of the magazines were from the 1960s, so I guess somebody must have left them there years earlier. They were far from pristine – pages torn, pages missing, spunking cocks drawn over people’s faces – but that didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for them. Spending study periods flicking through dog-eared copies of Life was one of the things that first made me want to become a magazine journalist.

The three covers above are all from the year 1960. Click on the link to go to the original article at Google Books.

The Trieste bathyscaphe – US Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh writes about his remarkable journey in the Trieste bathyscaphe with Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard. They took Trieste to the bottom of the Mariana Trench (near the island of Guam), which is the deepest point of the world’s oceans, reaching a depth of 36,000 feet (roughly seven miles down). The feat had never been repeated until just last month, when film director James Cameron (“The Terminator”, “Aliens” and “Titanic”) made the Jules Verne-esque trip in the Deepsea Challenger.

Marlon Brando – Interviewed on the set of “One-Eyed Jacks”, the only movie Brando directed. “I have no respect for acting,” he harrumphs. “Acting, by and large, is the expression of neurotic impulse. Acting is a bum’s life. You get paid for doing nothing and it means nothing.”

The 1960 Democratic National Convention – The Democratic Party select John F Kennedy as its candidate in the 1960 presidential election. “To nominate its youngest candidate, the party elbowed its elder statesmen, broke several taboos and cut loose from a large part of its past,” read the magazine’s editorial that week. “It now invites the country to do the same.”