UK university launches Heavy Metal degree
The course, offered by Nottingham Trent University, has been designed to encourage students to explore heavy metal music, the personalities, acts and figures who helped to make the music and the relationship between the genre and religion and philosophy. Students will also get the chance to explore Britain’s heavy metal music scene in concert too.
Tutors are suggesting that the course is designed to use the city’s reputation as a hotbed for heavy metal music to prepare students for a career in the industry. Local metal label Earache Records was founded in Nottingham in 1985, Iron Maiden frontman, Bruce Dickinson is from the city, while the infamous Download music festival takes place (relatively!) locally too.
Students will receive a foundation degree for studying the two year course which can be turned into a BA degree by completing an additional year. All of this for the heavy metal price of around £5,500 a year.
Critics, including the Campaign for Real Education, have been quick to see the course as lacking “credibility”, while many also worry that the course creates the “illusion” that students might have an easy path into working in popular music or heavy metal.
Course lecturer Liam Maloy said he had spent the last seven months putting the course together and added, “You can study music at Oxford, Cambridge and in all cities all over the UK, but here in Nottingham we wanted to offer something special that reflects our city’s culture and employment opportunities.
“Heavy metal is an extremely technical genre of music and the study of its culture and context is a rising academic theme, so we’re very excited to be at the forefront of its integration with education.”
He said the course, which will include professional performance, composition, recording and promotion, will be academically rigorous.
Here at Music Heritage UK we’re delighted to see that one of the most important aspects of our popular musical heritage is being recognised, not only academically, but also economically through the teaching of a course which will may well help many to work in the field. Congratulations to Nottingham Trent on this bold move, and good luck to the first students!
Oldham calls for permanent honour for Epstein in Liverpool
The original Rolling Stones manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, has called for a street in Liverpool to be named after Beatles manager Brian Epstein.
His comments came at Liverpool Sound City, a new music and industry festival. Andrew, who left the Stones in 1967, got his first work in the music industry by working with Epstein to publicise The Beatles.
Oldham said, “I’ve been walking round Liverpool and it doesn’t seem right that we can’t walk up Epstein Street or Brian Epstein Avenue.
“Brian did an amazing thing for Liverpool in terms of putting it on the world map.
“The Beatles and then Merseybeat conquered the world and there should be a fitting tribute to celebrate his impact.
“Music fans in the US wanted to visit Liverpool for the first time and that legacy can be seen today in the tourists who flock to the city.
“We have this Epstein Theatre and its great, but we need a more public and official tribute.”
This is, of course, something that we wholeheartedly support at Music Heritage UK and hope that this leads the council to consider ways to recognise the Fab Four’s manager for his special role in changing the course of popular music.
News source: Click Liverpool
Image: front cover of ALO’s recent book, Stone Free.
New York’s lyrical tributes to hip hop history
A slight diversion from the norm for us here at Music Heritage UK, but we felt that this celebration of rap and the places which inspired the original rhymes, was worth discussing on our blog!
Jay Shells is the brains behind this, quite frankly, brilliant idea which saw him thinking about rap songs and the locations described in the lyrics. He created street signs with the lyrics and secretly erected them across New York. As he said to Good…
“A few weeks ago, I was working in my home studio listening to Big L’s first album Lifestylez Ov Da Poor and Dangerous when I caught myself rapping along to one of the songs, with the lyric “…on 139 and Lenox Ave. there’s a big park, and if you soft don’t go through it when it gets dark…” That’s when I paused and thought that it would be cool if that corner was marked in some way with that lyric so everyone who walked by was aware of its part in New York City’s hip hop history. I quickly began to think of other lyrics that mentioned a specific corner or location, and wrote them down as they came to me. Over the following days, friends became involved, sending me lyrics I hadn’t thought of.”
The signs were created to resemble traditional street signs and to blend into the background. They looked unremarkable and may have remained unnoticed by the majority had the process not been filmed and released to the web.
“Because we made a video of my project, that meant it was no longer hidden for people to stumble upon, but immediately available to millions on the web. This created a scavenger hunt for would-be art collectors, and within two days of the video going live, all the signs were gone. This inspired me to think of a more permanent solution. If I can raise capital, I hope to make brass plaques that get bolted into the sidewalks so they cannot be stolen.
The result is a hugely collectable set of street signs which have been immortalised in photos and in the documentary film which he also created. A website is in the planning for posterity’s sake and we look forward to exploring that too in due course.
This is a great, unexpected tribute to music and proof that you don’t need huge budgets, just creativity, passion and big balls to make a wonderful tribute to cultural and musical heritage.
Record Store Day’s exclusive releases
Another Record Store Day is nearly upon us and the peeps behind the event have released the list of exclusive records and CDs which will reward those queuing for hours.
This year sees limited editions from across the music spectrum with classic acts and up and coming indie stars making the most of the marketing opportunity that the day offers.
Bowie, McCartney and Nick Cave all release limited editions alongside the likes of Frank Turner, Everything Everything and Django Django.
All of this is overseen by Jack White who is the official ‘curator’ of Record Store Day 2013. He rereleases an anniversary edition of the White Stripes classic, Elephant in a limited edition vinyl that comes straight from his record label and indie record store, Third Man Records.
Some of this year’s releases of note (from a MHUK perspective) include….
David Bowie – A double A-side 7” of ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’/’Where Are We Now?’, a 7” picture disc reissue of his Aladdin Sane,single ‘Drive-In Saturday’ and his ‘Bowie 1965!’ EP (which collects his two singles and their B-sides as The Manish Boys and Davy Jones & The Lower Third).
Kate Bush - A 10” picture disc featuring the remix of ‘Running Up that Hill’ which featured at the Olympic Games opening ceremony.
Billy Bragg - ‘No One Knows Nothing Anymore/ Song of the Iceberg’ 7″
The Cure - 12” red vinyl reissue of 1987′s Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me.
Jesus and Mary Chain - Incredibly limited run of classic Psychocandy released on red & black splattered vinyl.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - new single, ‘Animal X’ on 7”
Pulp - New single ‘After You’, including a Soulwax remix on 12”.
The Rolling Stones - Five by Five EP pressed on 7″ vinyl.
Paul Weller - Two exclusive new tracks, ‘Flame Out’ and ‘The Olde Original’, released on 7” single.
Check out the full list at the RSD website.
Of course the day is about more than just the extra-special, limited edition records… it’s also about celebrating independent record shops. With the recent news on HMV still reverberating through the music industry, now might be a nice time to celebrate the role that small independent record shops can play in helping people to discover new music.
With the accompanying media frenzy surrounding the return of Bowie and a record-breaking exhibition at the V&A, we thought it was the perfect time to explore Bowie’s London and some of the most important places in Bowie’s history….
40 Stansfield Road, Brixton
Where it all started…. This is the house where Dave Robert Jones was born and where the boy, who would later become Bowie in 1965, spent the first six years of his life. Just around the corner from the infamous Brixton Academy, the non-descript terraced home would no doubt would cost a fortune to buy today. Bowie’s cinema usherette mother and Bernardo’s promotions officer father were however wealthy enough to live in the then predominately working class neighbourhood which had yet to go through its recent gentrification.
It was also just around the corner from his school, Stockwell Infants School (Stockwell Road, SW2) where he developed his “reputation for defiance and brawling”.
As with many families at the time, the Jones’ moved further out of London to Bromley, as the lure of a better life on the fringes of a city proved irresistible to the family. Bowie, like members of The Who or The Rolling Stones was a product of London’s suburbs and a new generation of families who were slowly unshackling themselves from the austerity of the post-war period.
Denmark Street, central London
Davy Jones would get the train in from Bromley and make his way to the small street behind Tottenham Court Road. It was here that a range of musicians and hustlers would try and make themselves known to the industry in London’s very own “tin pan alley”. The teenager would sit for hours sipping coffee at Giaconda Coffee Bar with Marc Bolan and Steve Marriott.In 1964 he was spotted at the coffee shop by a BBC researcher who needed a young person for a TV feature.
He eventually made it to the Tonight programme for his first TV appearance to discuss the tongue in cheek, ‘Society for the Prevention of Crueltly to Long-haired Men’.
Also on the street was Regent Sound Studios which was where Bowie’s early idol, Brian Jones first recorded as part of the Rolling Stones. Vintage and Rare Guitars was where many of Bowie’s band members bought guitars. Number seven Denmark Street housed Bowie’s old agency where he would often bump into fellow artist, Screaming Lord Sutch.
Wardour Street, Soho
The most famous music venue in London, The Marquee gave Bowie the chance to build up his fanbase in 1965. As a witness at the time suggested, “There’d be six girls at the front, and half a dozen of us queens at the back – hanging on his every move.” His first band, the Lower Third, played the venue on 8 October 1965. He also performed on a casual basis with other bands including The High Numbers (who would later become The Who). In February 1966 Bowie held auditions for his new band The Buzz at the Marquee and in 1967 he played with a band he called The Riot Squad. David Bowie would play his last regular gig on 3rd February 1970 to promote his new album Hunky Dory, although he would return in 1973 to film a late night TV special for American channel NBC at the venue.
“There were a lot of clubs to go to in the Soho scene in the 60’s but the Marquee was top of the list, because musicians did hang out there, pretending to talk business and picking up gigs - but picking up girls mostly. One of my keenest memories of the Marquee in the ‘60’s was having a permanent erection because there were so many fantastic looking girls in there, it was all tourists, especially in summer, all flocking to London to get an R&B star.
My final performance of Ziggy Stardust was at The Marquee. I wanted to go back there because I had so many good memories over the years. We changed the place completely and for 3 days we filmed what became ‘The 1980 Floor Show’. I had The Troggs on with me and then got Marianne Faithfull to duet with me on a version of Sonny & Cher’s ‘I Got You Babe’. I dressed Marianne in a nun’s habit with the back cut out and I dressed as the Angel of Death!” - David Bowie
A few doors away from the Marquee is the Ship pub which is where a young Bowie would meet journalists for interviews between 1967 and 1970. It was here that he announced to the music media that he was giving up music to become a Buddhist Monk after the commercial flop of his Space Oddity debut.
A few yards further on down the road is St Anne’s Court which is home to Trident Studios. It was here that Bowie recorded his Space Oddity album, and his mainstream breakthrough, Ziggy Stardust.
39 Manchester Street
It was at this address that David lived in 1967 and developed his full artistic persona. From this base he was able to take in influences such as Pollock’s Toy Museum and Manchester Square’s Wallace Collection. He would return to a flat with Georgian features and bookcases bursting to the seems with books and listen to acetates of the Velvet Underground which had been imported from New York. In short, it was here he found himself as early Bowie.
23 Heddon Street, Regent Street, London
Possibly the most famous of all Bowie landmarks, this short backstreet, just off Regent Street is already one of central London’s most well-known rock and roll landmarks as it was here that the cover of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was shot. In the last couple of years a plaque commemorating Ziggy has been unveiled on the street.
All around this area are Bowie landmarks – it was round the corner that he pronounced to the world that he was gay at 252 Regent Street (see below) – and it was at the Edwardian building which houses LA Fitness where Bowie previewed much of Hunky Dory to a small crowd in the tiny Paris Theatre.
252 Regent Street, London
It was at this address that David Bowie told the world that “I’m gay and I always have been” through an interview for Melody Maker. The statement which shocked the world in the early 1970s was later “retracted” by Bowie in the 1980s, but it did win him a whole new fanbase.
“Soon he was coming out to me. ‘I’m gay,’ he said, ‘and always have been, even when I was David Jones.’ This sounds now like Daffyd in Little Britain , but it wasn’t comical then. In truth, I felt lucky. He’d almost spilled the beans to Jeremy magazine three years before. Did his admission matter? Well, laws on homosexuality had been reformed only five years previously. After Bowie came le deluge. He had shrewdly calculated the consequences, however. Busting taboos stokes the star-maker machinery. He was also just being honest. Sometimes, even in pop, honesty pays.”
Michael Watts - interviewer with Melody Maker writing in the Guardian in 2006.
Whatever the truth, young people flocked back to the record shops to buy Hunky Dory. Starman released a few months later in April would be a top ten hit and over the Summer, ‘Changes’ would be a hit in America. Later that year Ziggy Stardust would be released and included ‘John I’m only Dancing’ which with its homoerotic overtones was seen as too risqué for US release.
Hammersmith Apollo, Hammersmith
It was here that Bowie dramatically retired Ziggy Stardust on stage on 3 July 1973. However, at the time the venue was called Hammersmith Odeon. Bowie had been touring extensively and plans were mooted for further tours in the US, while Bowie had even mooted the idea of playing China and the USSR.
However, in the end, on a Summer day in 1973 Bowie retired Ziggy Stardust from live performances (he would later make a one-off come back for NBC TV – see the Wardour Street point above). The persona had allowed Bowie to thrive and retreat from the growing madness surrounding him, but it had all became far too much for this ultimately shy and introverted young man from the suburbs of London. He decided to put an end to his character and to stop performing as Ziggy.
The after party became known as the ‘Last Supper’ and was held at the Café Royal in Regent Street. Guests included Paul and Linda McCartney, Keith Moon, Lulu, Tony Curtis, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, the Goodies, Cat Stevens,Ringo and Maureen Starr, Mick and Bianca Jagger, Jeff Beck, Lou Reed, Barbara Streisland, Ryan O’Neil, Sonny Bono, Elliot Gould, DA Pennebacker and Dr John who played live music all evening.
89 Oakley Street, London
It was at this Chelsea location that David lived between 1973 and 1974. As a show of solidarity for the miners strike, Bowie is said to have turned his house into a “mine” painting everything, including the TV. It is also said that this was where Bowie’s wife found him in bed with Mick Jagger.
Victoria Station, central London
Upon Bowie’s return to the UK after a couple of years ‘in exile’ in the US and Europe, Bowie is said to have given a nazi salute whilst on top of an open-top Mercedes convertible to the thousands of fans who waited for him at Victoria. Bowie soon added to the controversy by later further discussing his views to the NME. His interest and flirtation with Nazism was partly a result of cocaine addiction and psychosis and his exploration of his new character, the Thin White Duke.
Victoria and Albert Museum, Kensington
Accompanying the release of Bowie’s The Next Day is the V&A retrospective on his life. This exhibition has had access to his personal archive and it’s hard to think of another artist whose archive might make as compelling an event!
The media hysteria surrounding Bowie’s number one album has also added to the sense of excitement around Bowie and helped to turn this exhibition into the fastest selling in V&A history.
Read more about it on the What’s On guide on our website.
Launching our museum directory
Music Heritage UK exists to promote, protect and preserve our musical heritage. As part of this we have recently completed a “museum directory”. We want this to become the de-facto listing for permanent exhibitions, museums, archives, and galleries.
We decided to do some analysis of the info we were collecting and have included this below!
As the map on our directory page shows, the geographical concentration of exhibits is revealing; Europe (including the UK) has a woefully small number of museums and exhibitions. It’s not as if our national popular music culture couldn’t from a cultural perspective sustain it either but the UK has a long way to go before it can rival some of the States in the USA for music attractions and heritage exhibits.
There definitely seems to be something about popular music heritage and the USA. We’re not entirely sure of the reasons why but the USA seems more receptive to this kind of attraction and heritage. Could there be something in the relative youth of the USA compared to Europe in terms of its heritage? Perhaps Americans are more proud and less snobbish when it comes to culture? We are looking into this some more! Expect an interview with a US based music heritage expert on our blog soon!
It was also interesting to note the geographical concentration within the USA – Memphis and Nashville (among others) can truly claim to be music cities with numerous attractions around different strands of popular music and the south-east seems to be where most music attractions are located. The “bible-belt” could alternatively be named the “music-belt”.
Another point to make is how the music attraction is being used as an economic regenerator. Liverpool in the UK is making much of its Beatles heritage and the permanent Beatles Story is housed in an area which has been redeveloped. Many of the US sites are looking to pull tourists and music fans to spend precious dollars among improvised communities too.
Our research also revealed the huge impact that the difficult recent economic circumstances have had on the music heritage tourism and attractions. Hall of Fames have become virtual as State funding has dried up. Exhibits, museums and archives have been lost. The Georgia Music Hall of Fame is a prime example, the building now hosting a local educational institution.
However, perhaps it is more complex than that though. Our research equally revealed a number of museums that are on the cusp of opening. The Swedish Music Hall of Fame (and associated Abba Museum) and the National African American Music Museum in Nashville are just two examples. This might prove that, as with music, music heritage museums and attractions are working in a constantly evolving space and that they need to constantly renew themselves to keep up with tourists’ expectations.
Bull & Gate to close to music
We heard about the Bull & Gate potentially closing its doors a few months back. Rumour had it that the owners were looking to sell-on and retire. What this meant for one of Kentish Town’s most famous new music venues was still up in the air.
Yesterday we finally received confirmation that the venue will be sold to Youngs and redeveloped as a gastropub with the kitchen and restaurant area taking over what was the dark room at the back where bands played.
The Bull & Gate is what one might lovingly refer to as a toilet venue – a small, dark and, post-cigarette ban, extremely smelly place to watch some of the most exciting new acts around. Bands like the Manic Street Preachers, Blur, Coldplay, Carter USM and many others all learnt their trade playing the venue.
In recent times promoters Club Fandango took over the music side of things at the B&G…. They had this to say…
“The irony is that having weathered the storm of free gigs and hipster swinging out of East London, having battled through five years of recession and having fought against the tide of depression rolling over the guitar-gripping side of the music industry throughout this decade the venue is going to be taken down by a gastropub.”
The venue will continue to host music until May when the pub will close for refurbishment.
At Music Heritage UK, we’re sad to see this venue go. It really was a stepping stone to greatness and anyone who has made a name for themselves over the last twenty years or so will have played the Bull & Gate.
Decisions like these inspired our formation… we truly believe that by closing these gig venues down we are putting at peril the future of the UK’s music scene and loosing some of the most culturally significant places of recent times. Places like the Bull & Gate are the backbone of our new music scene, an inspiration for the next generation of artists, and where history happened. Without these “toilet” venues our music industry would be both financially and culturally much poorer.
Twitter was the place to go for immediate reaction. Jim Bob of Carter was among some of the first to comment…
Jamie Wednesday, Carter, Jim’s Super Stereoworld. All did some of their first gigs at the Bull & Gate.— Jim Bob (@mrjimBob) February 6, 2013
Still, I suppose there just aren’t enough gastro pubs in London.— Jim Bob (@mrjimBob) February 6, 2013
Can’t believe the Bull and Gate is closing down. So much history in that place, for me and for British music.— Rosie (@roseformyrose) February 6, 2013
Sad to hear of the demise of the Bull and Gate in Kentish Town as a live music venue. I should remove a piece of carpet as a keepsake.— Mark Sheldon (@MeMarkSheldon) February 6, 2013
For unsigned or any band for that matter, the Bull and Gate was a diamond in the rough that was Camden/London bullandgate.co.uk— Marmaduke Dando (@marmadukedando) February 6, 2013
The bull and gate in Kentish town to close..another piece of amazing musical history turned into more bland flats or a mini tescos..#sad— Leona (@leonaw66) February 6, 2013
Image credit: Time Out
Modern sounds… retro artwork
A great tribute to the artwork associated to recorded sounds in the 1960s from the good people at Penney Design. See below for an idea of what the Libertines’ artwork might look like if it was released in 1965!
A great tribute to the style of the era, if anything else. Check out their website for more examples from Interpol and Lady Gaga. Thanks to the NME for the heads up today.