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Night Fever: Designing Club Culture

V&A Dundee      Open Up   Now is an interesting time for V&A Dundee to be opening its doors for the first time in months for this superclub size celebration of life after dark, and the designs that have become key signifiers of club culture’s evolution. With venues still unable to open because of social distancing regulations caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, plague year lockdowns have achieved what even encroaching inner-city gentrification couldn’t manage.   This gives Night Fever an extra frisson that reflects some of the illegal rave rebellion that has grown throughout the last year prior to this access-all-areas exhibition. Seen in this context, Night Fever’s half-century display of collective memory is itself enough to set assorted synapses twitching with a mix of nostalgic solidarity and yearning.    A version of the show was first seen at the Vitra Design Museum in 2018 in association with ADAM Design Museum Brussels (and, interestingly, Hugo Boss) This makes for
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Mike Mitchell - An Obituary

Mike Mitchell – Guitarist   Born; April 16, 1944; died April 16, 2021    Mike Mitchell, who has died aged 77, was a guitarist whose solo on The Kingsmen’s version of Richard Berry’s song, Louie Louie, helped define a sound that helped shift rock and roll out of the school hop and into infinitely rawer territory. The song was recorded by the teenage band in a three-track studio, where, according to Mitchell in a 1999 interview with John Broughton on Casey Radio, Melbourne, Australia, the Kingsmen’s one-take wonder of Louie Louie and two more songs took an hour all in, costing a cool $36 to make.   The result saw Berry’s three-chord construction ingested with new life as a bratty piece of almost incoherent bubblegum trash that became an inspiration for every garage band in town. Despite the messiness of the recording, it was released as a single in 1963, and eventually spent several weeks at number 2 in the U.S. charts.    The Kingsmen’s record gained notoriety after the FBI began a leng

Myra Frances - An Obituary

Myra Frances – Actress, animal welfare campaigner   Born April 13, 1942; died March 30, 2021   Myra Frances, who has died of cancer aged 78, was an actress who became a taboo busting pioneer when she shared British television’s first romantic kiss between women. That was in Girl (1974), James Robson’s play for BBC Birmingham’s Second City Firsts series of short stand-alone dramas by relatively new writers. Frances played Christine Harvey, the seemingly stern army corporal who appears opposite Alison Steadman’s discharged pregnant squaddie, Jackie.    As Jackie prepares to leave, the pair’s illicit tryst is revealed in a serious study of the effects their brief relationship has had on both of them amidst the double lives they each lead. As the two women are left alone together, the scene builds towards a bittersweet reckoning played out to the strains of Dusty Springfield’s hit version of Bacharach and David’s song, This Girl’s in Love With You. “Top of the gay girls’ hit parade”, as Fr

Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival 2021

As the eleventh edition of Alchemy’s Hawick-based festival of experimental film moves online due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, its programme features 171 works of film and artists’ moving image. These span live screenings, an on demand programme, exhibitions and new commissions, plus talks and events to accompany them. Highlights include -    Charlie Chaplin Lived Here Saturday May 1 st , 3pm-4.15pm, and on demand with audio description for blind and partially sighted audiences. Set in London in 1969,  Louise S. Milne and Seán Martin’s new film focuses on the parallel lives of two great film-makers who never quite meet, as Chaplin visits his old haunts incognito, while Scottish film-maker Bill Douglas and his friend Peter Jewell makes a student film about Chaplin’s childhood and early years in the city. Douglas would go on to direct his famed trilogy of short films –  My Childhood, My Ain Folk , and  My Way Home - based loosely on Jewell’s life, as well as his only feature,  Comrad

Jim Steinman - An Obituary

Jim Steinman – Songwriter, composer   Born November 1, 1947; died April 19, 2021      Jim Steinman, who has died aged 73, was a songwriter and composer of boundless pomp and fantastical circumstance, whose defining moment came with Bat Out of Hell (1977), the feast of Wagnerian rock bombast that became the debut album by Meat Loaf. Meat Loaf’s own larger than life persona was perfect for Steinman’s operatic compositions, which were brought to life by producer Todd Rundgren, who had presumed Steinman’s construction to be a Bruce Springsteen pastiche. Whatever, the record’s impact was as big as its sound, with an estimated 50 million copies sold worldwide.    With a background in musical theatre, Steinman’s anthemic canon didn’t so much break the pop mould as explode his way through it with enough fire-power to keep small nations at bay. After Bat Out of Hell, he did this just as spectacularly with other artists, including Celine Dion, Air Supply and wrestler Hulk Hogan, whose theme tune

Ruth Ewan - A Jukebox of People Trying to Change the World

Cooper Gallery, Dundee (online) Jukebox Jive ‘Too many protest singers Not enough protest songs’   And then Ruth Ewan came along with  A Jukebox of People Trying to Change the World . Twenty seven years on from this perfectly reasonable observation by Dundee-raised Edwyn Collins in his euphoric 1994 smash hit, ‘A Girl Like You’, this latest iteration of Ewan’s rolling programme of socially driven songs shows just how much times have changed.    A Jukebox of People Trying to Change the World was first presented in 2004, and since then has been shown in London, New York, Venice, Bordeaux, Liverpool and Louisiana. Ewan’s ongoing folkloric excavation, à la Hamish Henderson or Alan Lomax, has developed so it now contains an ever-expanding collection of more than 2,000 works that might be broadly described as protest songs. This provides the perfect set list for the sort of political cabarets that have given voice and inspiration to protest movements for decades.    This time out, the  Jukeb

Annea Lockwood – For Ruth

Counterflows At Home   The sound of laughter is what strikes you first in For Ruth, the nine and a half minute sound work composed by Annea Lockwood. As the flagship piece for the 80-something New Zealand born composer’s tenure as featured artist in this year’s online edition of Counterflows, the annual Glasgow-based showcase of free thinking music, the laughter is infectious.    The laughter too is the unselfconscious kind that erupts uncontrollably when two people find boundless, all encompassing joy in and with each other. The birdsong, sounds of lapping water and more ethereal echoes that filter through between add a filter of sense memory to such intimate exchanges.    For Ruth is drawn from recordings of telephone conversations between Lockwood and her late wife, fellow composer and kindred spirit of more than four decades, Ruth Anderson. The calls took place shortly after the couple first met in 1973, during the first giddy flush of what was initially a long-distance romance.