To be fair I hadn’t realised just how enormous this French electronic music duo are. Dispatched off to Paris in the middle of 2011 to do a rare band photosession with a vague brief that the images should have a retro, film, Leica feel. Traditional film and processing being the order of the day. so I guess I got the gig because I must be one of the few photographers still alive who has a darkroom or can remember how to use one.
The location and event for the photosession was a video shoot for “Audio Video Disco” a new hit single and album track. As is often the case with video shoots the light was very very low, perfect for the latest high tech video camera technology in use, not so good for the low tech film in my camera. This moody nightclub atmosphere meant that using a digital camera was the only practical option. A film camera would require the film to be pushed to speed beyond 1600 ASA resulting in grainy smudges rather than usable portraits. So I switched my battered old Leica M4 film body to a new Leica M8 digital body that still used the same classic Leica lenses. Lenses that were probably older than most of the film crew, band, extras, groupies etc crowding the video studio. The images in this gallery fail because they don’t satisfy the original brief, they are all digital. Still it was an enjoyable weekend in Paris with Xavier and Gaspard looking after me .. perfect hosts. They were all great people, the band, the crew, everyone .. so I guess Justice deserve to be the biggest French electronic Duo in the world.
Raï is a music style that originated in Algeria in the 1930s. It appealed to young people who sought to modernize the traditional Islamic values and attitudes.
In December 1980 I traveled with Chris Salewicz to Algeria, he a mission to hook up with a French camera crew and shoot a short film for MTV on Algeria’s Ria music scene and I came along to shoot stills. Algeria was not a safe place then and the airport wasn’t at all welcoming. By the time we arrived the French film crew had been detained … indefinitely, and we were on our own. So after finding a video camera and microphone and avoiding police attention, our local contact drove us out of Algiers to Rachid Baba’s studio in Tlemcen. Chris did the interviews on film himself without a crew and I shot some stills. We left the country on the same day, minutes from the Police catching up with us. These photos were shot in the studio and at the ruins of al-Mansura.
Cheb Khaled (Khaled Hadj Ibrahim) producer. Following threats from Islamists, Khaled moved to France.
Chaba Fadela is an Algerian Raï musician and actress married to Cheb Sahraoui. She was the first woman to defy the ban on women singing in clubs.
Rachid Baba Ahmed Algerian musical producer with his studio in tlemcen pioneered Ria music. He was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists on February 15, 1995, outside his record store in Oran.
EXCLUSIVE – A high resolution image printed on a high quality 100% recycled polyester T-Shirt. Fine Jersey 5 oz / 170g . A soft and luxurious quality shirt printed here in the studio using a new high tech dye sublimation process. The image is fast and will survive multiple wash cycles, seawater and sunshine.
You definitely can’t buy these on the high Street. These T-shirts are printed by us on demand. No factories or third parties and just like our studio photo prints, we inspect and guarantee every item. Because we are not a factory we can only stock a limited range of sizes – MEDIUM, LARGE and EXTRA LARGE. In the future we will try and include other shapes and sizes, depending on the demand.
SELECTION – We have selected 50 images for you to choose from. In theory you could choose any image from our archive and we can make a shirt, however some images have restrictions and others may not make a good print. The images we have chosen are all classic black and white photographs printed on a gallery white T-shirt.
PRICE – £25 UK P&P included USA £5 rest of World £5 charges subject to review.
BABYLON ON A THIN WIRE “Once upon a time in Jamaica” An excerpt by Michael Thomas from Babylon on a Thin Wire. The classic book by Michael Thomas and Adrian Boot now available as an ebook on AMAZON KINDLE
Flick it! Excuse me? FLICK IT! This is a bit rich. I’m standing stripped to my sox with my dick in my hand in an empty cell behind one of those doors you see at the airport, says NO ENTRY, and this little battyboy wants me to play with myself. How lucky can you get? I’ve run into the only gay cop in Jamaica. Country half the size of Wales, popn the size of Wolverhampton, where sodomy is not just against the law, not just a criminal offence, it’s a slur on the manly honor of a proud and virile nation, the world’s most over-publicised queer-bashing fag-phobic pillow-biter-hating poofter-averse society west of Turkey and Tehran – there’s always one, and I’m looking at him and he’s looking at me and he’s smirking. Flick it. He knows I’m gonna do it, I have no choice, he is THE LAW. There have been some changes made in Jamaica since this book first came out, but some traditions die hard, ie we both know this little turd-burglar’s got my nuts in a vice, he can at a moment of his choosing pinch a couple g’s from his pocket and tell the judge he found it up my ass…
May 2010, thirty years after The Harder They Come, Dudus is on the run. Kingston’s locked down, I’m getting desperate emails from Michelle she’s too scared to leave the house, it’s a massacre out there, they’re shooting people on sight as the police took on the Shower Posse and war broke out on the streets of Tivoli Gardens. They call ‘em the Shower Posse because that’s the way they shoot at you. 72 people died before they got him in the end, it was the biggest manhunt on the island since Jimmy Cliff died shooting back on Lime Key in The Harder They Come and that was a movie. Christopher Coke, the dude they call Dudus, is a prominent local businessman with friends in high places on backslapping terms with the leadership of the JLP, the Prime Minister himself is the MP for Tivoli Gardens and that’s Dudus’s garrison, the Shower Posse are his brethren, the Feds reckon he’s shifted more coke into the USA in the last few years than BP pumps guava jelly. The cops wanted to headlock Dudus before the Americans got him and extradited him and he starts naming names ..
Flick it for Sullivan, nuh. Whuh? He’s taking the piss. He’s pushing my APPREHENDABILITY to the max. Sullivan sticks his head round the door, but he’s not interested, he averts his gaze, he has to put up with this little weasel day in and day out: Sullivan’s interested in my Timberlands. He’s thinking about trying them on for size. He doesn’t say anything, he just boulders his shoulders and bunches his brows and flares his nostrils and he looks at me like a gorilla looks at a gnat and he whispers: SSSTRONNNG BOOTSSS.
I’m not in the mood for this. I need sleep. It’s been a long week, we’ve been rimmin it all over the island in Flugie’s bus, I miss this flight there’s not another one till Wednesday. I’m here to move the ball, I have friends in high places too, I’m practically a guest of the government. But the urine test never lies. Five minutes ago, I’m checking in at Virgin in Montego Bay and this gringo pulls me out of the line and searches my bag. He’s just going thru the motions, it’s too hot, he’s homesick, his hopes fade fast, but the girl cop’s not giving up, she’s burrowing like a badger in my laundry, chucking stuff over her shoulder, she’s sniffing my spoor, she’s on fire – You sure about this? I FEEEL IT! –
The man from the Yard gives my passport back, I check in etc, but it’s a trap. Gilbert and Sullivan are waiting for me airside. Now he has proof: my urine test is telling him my blood reeks of ganja, and the urine test is EVI-DENCE! FOOL PROOF! FI-NAL! Frankly, I’m not amazed. I’d be stunned if it came up anything different. Where do we go from here? Sullivan did the driving. We got to the Mobay District Hospital and this is the kind of little everyday setback you have to take in your stride in Jamaica: the X-Ray’s broke. Heh heh. Flick it yourself, Gilbert! Times like this, you dial up an Indian. Dr Mukherjee shows up, and a five year old girl in the ghetto could’ve told you this: the X-Ray’s not plugged in. I hate to wipe the smirk off your face: X-Ray comes up empty. There are no johnnies full of dandruff in my belly ..
I walked into a profile. Who knew? The Virgin girls on the plane tell me Dudus and the boys got fed up with all their silly babymothers getting busted at Heathrow, these days they look for panache, they employ louche war-weary silver-haired vets of a certain vintage as the mules de jour. Dudus didn’t fight the extradition, he knew better than that: he didn’t want to die in a fire in a cell in the lockup in Spanish Town like his father did so the Feds got their man. What everybody’s talking about now, what’s keeping the friends and family of the leadership of the JLP awake at night is this: will he spill the beans? What’s the fucking package!
The politicisation of crime and the criminalisation of politics goes back a long way, to the Manley years. This book came out back then, when I was opening the batting at Rolling Stone and we put Bob Marley on the front page, it’s the story of the Manley years, when the guns came to town and Johnny Too Bad took over the house – and at the same time wherever you went on the planet it didn’t matter, you could be rotting in a hammock on the West Coast of Guadalcanal or knee-deep in neon in a karaoke bar in Tokyo, somebody was singing along to No Woman No Cry. Things have changed, Michael Manley died in his bed a few years ago, New Kingston’s globalized, there are Russian hookers in the clubs on Beeston Street, there’s a KFC in every stripmall, everybody’s got a pay-as-you-go from Digicel etc. Blackwell’s old plantation house up at Strawberry Hill where Island used to send all their shellshocked rock stars for rehab got blown away by the hurricane, these days it’s a fivestar resort with infiniti pools etc. 56 Hope Rd, where global Jamaica was hatched, the old pink house that was Island’s HQ and later His Bobness’s residence is now the Bob Marley Museum. Hellshire Beach, where we found Countryman juggling live fish used to be a stretch of sand with a couple shacks, you had to have a 4×4 to get there. These days it’s 40 minutes on the motorway, it’s a teeming favela full of rum bars and old Rastas like my mate Electric-Power selling tonic to stretch your ejaculation to BREAK-ING POINT etc. But the waves roll in, the way they always have and always will ..
Jamaican music has had a thoroughly disproportionate effect on the rest of the world – an astonishing achievement for a tiny Caribbean island which has a population of just three million people. Spearheaded by the popularity of reggae and the figurehead of Bob Marley, its reverberating rhythms have found a resonance with a diverse international audience. This newly updated edition of Reggae Explosion charts the course of this extraordinary cultural revolution.
From the earliest emergence in the 1950s of the fiercely competitive sound systems fighting sonic battles in downtown Kingston the story of Jamaican music is traced through ska, the birth of reggae, dub, roots reggae and the impact of Bob Marley to the new, harder-edged developments that have emerged in the last twenty years, including dancehall, ragga and jungle.
Unpublished transcripts of interviews with key figures like Lee ‘Scratch” Perry and Prince Buster introduce the authentic voices of reggae history to Reggae Explosion – which blends deeply researched facts and rare images to create not only a sense of the pulse of the music, but also the contrasts of poverty, humour, desperation and joie de vivre that typify both the island of Jamaica and its music.
ReggaeXplosion started life in the summer of 2000 as a heated argument. Should the project be called ReggaeXplosion or more accurately Reggae Explosion. ReggaeXplosion ( all one word ) won the day, but it didn’t last .. by the time the USA version of the book was published the name reverted to Reggae Explosion. The project was to be a book and an exhibition. On Friday 29th September 2001 ReggaeXplosion opened with with a launch party down in the brick passages and catacombs under The Roundhouse – Camden. All of London seemed to be there and one could imagine their numbers expanded by hippies still vainly trying to find their way out of the labyrinth since back in the Sixties. The visuals are set up on the raw brick passages which radiate like spokes from the building’s central space or, a welcome touch for contributors to this site, on panels of zinc fence and corrugated iron. Rootical rub a dub sounds were provided by the Mighty Tip-A-Tone Hi-Fi to a crowd well lubricated with free Appleton Gold rum punch and Carib beer. Among the heaving mass of thirsty reggae fans jostling at the bar were spotted Mark Lamarr the radio DJ, members of Aswad, Tricky the DJ and Massive Attack associate, Gaz Mayall of Gaz’ Rockin’ Blues and all the usual reggae suspects.
This was a major reggae event and a model of how to present reggae to a larger audience. What comes across strongly is the range and diversity of the reggae experience and how much has been accomplished in fifty years by one small island. A ’50 years of cultural firestorm’.
Explore some of the photo archives used to compile Reggae Explosion …
The exhibition opened just before Xmas and ended early in the new year 2011. It was an exhibition based around 3 important 1977 photo-sessions with some live and backstage bits and pieces added to the mix. The theme favoured by The Proud Gallery was “London Calling” the Clash in London. Not strictly true, since one of the 3 important photo-sessions was The Clash in Belfast. The other two main sections were The Clash at the Camden Rehearsal Studios and The Clash under London’s A40 Westway. Maybe it should have been called “UK Calling. The Proud Gallery in Camden is located at more or less the same location as the original Clash rehearsal studios. Aptly named “Rehearsal Rehearsals” it was also my first encounter with The Clash.
Jamaica, a Caribbean island nation with a lush topography of mountains, rainforests and reef-lined beaches. Many of its world class resorts are clustered on the vibrant north coast, with its British colonial architecture, Goldeneye – home of Ian Fleming 007, Firefly home of Noel Coward and Negril, renowned for its diving and snorkelling. Jamaica is birthplace of Reggae, and Bob Marley.
It’s September 1978 and London is damp, grey and miserable. Another Punk Rock winter is setting in, monochromatic, ripped black clothes, BDSM, conflict, aggressive vibes, the winter of discontent. The rainbow days are long gone. The good vibes, psychadelic Kodachome lifestyle, beautiful people, hippies, the electric cool aid acid test, free Love.. all gone, just faint memories. The LSD has been replaced by Heroin, disposable incomes replaced with poverty.
Then after a short plane ride, I discover that the Haight-Ashbury hippy movement hadn’t really gone away, It just relocated. Maybe it needed lots of warm summer weather and an optimistic outlook to survive, maybe that is why it had all but disappeared from London. So .. here I was in Egypt with Jerry Garcia, Mountain Girl, The Pranksters, The Grateful Dead and an entourage of grown-up hippies. For a week or so I was on the bus.. The electric cool aid acid test rekindled. Only this time it would include a Pyramid and a Lunar Eclipse. Continue reading Grateful Dead→
Its 1979 and I am in New York. Photographing the NY Punk scene for the Melody Maker. Sunday was my last day, and I was looking forward to a late brunch, a bit of shopping and then on to the airport for the night flight home. Instead a record company car picks me up from the Gramercy Park Hotel at the crack of dawn on an early spring Sunday morning. I don’t know how I was talked into doing this last minute photosession. I had never heard of Suicide but figured they were important. It had to be early, I had to pack and check out of the hotel by noon. The taxi travelled through empty streets towards a run down part of New York, I can’t remember exactly which part of NY, but it was a very down market part of town.
Winter 1988 – Chris Salewicz, Billy Bragg, Peter Jenner and myself take a winter break in the Soviet Union. The stories that unfolded during this cold war vacation became the subject of a book called Midnights in Moscow published the following year.
The following is an extract from this book.. with thanks to Chris, PJ and Omnibus Press
“The wind that whips off the frozen Moskva river and up to the broad steps of the Hotel Ukraine cuts through your thermal underwear like a Cossack’s sabre. It is bone-chillingly cold, as it invariably is in Moscow in late November at one in the morning.
On the steps of the 30-storey, showcase hotel, a rather curious scenario is being enacted. Billy Bragg, his manager Peter Jenner, his guitarist blood-brother Wiggy, and a good dozen Soviet companions have disgorged from an Intourist coach that has brought them from the Olympic Village on the outskirts of Moscow. There, Billy Bragg has that evening played the last of several shows, each time before an audience of 6,000, in the weight-lifting hall constructed for the 1980 Olympics. Continue reading Back in the USSR→