John Sinclair | Beatnik Youth

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Spoken Word: Poetry Jazz: Vocalese Moods: Type: Vocal
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Beatnik Youth

by John Sinclair

Poetry by John Sinclair set to music & produced by Youth with the Beatnik Youth Orchestra featuring Alan Clayton, special guest appearance by Howard Marks
Genre: Spoken Word: Poetry
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1. Testify
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9:13 $0.99
2. Good Stuff
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3. Everybody Needs Somebody
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4. Change My Life
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5. Ain't Nobody's Bizness
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6. My Buddy
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7. That Old Man
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8. Brilliant Corners
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9. Culture-Cide
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10. Red Dress (Ruby My Dear)
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11. Sitartha
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
“DOING TIME FOR BREATHING AIR”
By Mick Farren

They call him “The Big Chief”. From Detroit to New Orleans and from Los Angeles to Amsterdam, John Sinclair is still the cigar-chomping, king-size, psychedelic old-gangster poet, a living legend, a veteran of the counterculture, a survivor of the Marijuana Wars, and one of the last bohemians still standing. As a co-founder of the Detroit underground newspaper The Fifth Estate, manager of punk godfathers MC5, and Chairman of the White Panther Party – described on Wikipedia in these modern times as “a far-left, anti-racist, white American political collective founded in 1968 and dedicated to ‘cultural revolution’” his mark on the boho rock & roll underground has been unique.

In 1969, with Richard Nixon in the White House, Vietnam in chaos in the wake of the Viet Cong’s near-suicidal Tet Offensive, and American cities still scared and scarred from urban riots, even the comparatively harmless agitprop pranks of White Panther “cultural revolution” had those in power reaching for their metaphoric – and sometimes actual – revolvers. Authorities remembered how John had organised the MC5’s playing outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, the only band actually able to perform before Mayor Daley’s rabid police department violently derailed the massive anti-Vietnam war rally with teargas, billy clubs, and helicopter support.

John was deemed a danger to society and set up like a bowling pin. After handing a couple of joints to a hassling hippie who turned out to be an undercover narcotics agent, John found himself on the bad end of a ten year jail term. At the same time though he became a cause celebre. Free John Sinclair became one more battle cry in an embattled era. Protests, propaganda, and a giant concert in Ann Arbor headlined by John Lennon and Yoko Ono ultimately resulted in John’s release in November 1971,

I first met John face to face a couple of years after he got out of jail, I’d visited Brother Wayne Kramer while passing through Detroit and took John up on his invitation to stay for a few days at the Rainbow Peoples Party commune. This wasn’t, however, my first contact. John and I had corresponded before they tossed him in the slam and – while editing the underground newspaper IT – I had regularly published his letters from jail. After that first meeting we started to see each other quite frequently. In both New York and Los Angeles, I’d see him regularly when he came to town for readings and shows with his floating band the Blues Scholars.

In LA we worked with a lot of the same musicians – the aforementioned Wayne Kramer, Brock Avery, Doug Lunn, and Paul Ill – appeared on same bill at clubs and bookstores and even shared the spotlight at William Burroughs’ LA birthday party. And when John decided to spend some time in London, he naturally gravitated to our local version of the mutual mutant reprobate gang working with the likes of Tim Rundall, Charles Shaar Murray and then, a little later, performing with the Dirty Strangers at their Dissenters Gallery shows at Portobello Road’s Inn On The Green, which would, in turn, ultimately led to the encounter with Youth and this record.

In common with much that happens with John, the meeting with Youth that sowed the creative seeds was a matter of stoned synchronicity. As Track Records boss Ian Grant tells it , “Alan Clayton told me he had ‘John Sinclair coming round tomorrow.’ I said "the John Sinclair". “I had to make something of it and Alan and I put together some gigs under the banner of 'The Dissenters Gallery'. One night Zodiac/Youth were on a bill with the Dirty Strangers and Youth was very taken with John. "I want to make a jazz album with John". Since then, the two met at Youths house whenever he was home, and when John was in the country, and recorded the album.”

And – through the course of those recordings – John, always so associated with the 1960s, took a serious step into the ways of the 21st century, with the same intoned poetry (he even tells the tale of Thelonious Monk on acid), but with melodic backing vocals, highly inventive production, even a nod to hip-hop, but still remembering his first loves of blues, be-bop, and classic rock & roll. Beatnik Youth is one more step in the Big Chief’s long zigzag trip that seems set to continue all the way to the far blue horizon. Summing up John Sinclair, you can only say with certainty that the beatnik goes on.

Mick Farren,
Brighton, April 2012


BEATNIK YOUTH
By John Sinclair

This elaborate and thrilling musical project came together in the most organic way over the course of about two years in and out of London—I would be playing some little gigs in London & Youth would be home briefly from his incessant travels in pursuit of musical creation in many spots around the world, and we would get together in his little home studio south of the River Thames with Michael Rendall at the controls and a constant stream of guest musicians and co-conspirators to inch forward with another tune or two on the way toward completing the project in 2012.

The key players in this undertaking—Ian Grant, Alan Clayton, and Youth—all hooked up at one of the Dissenters Gallery concerts Ian staged at the late lamented Inn on the Green in Ladbroke Grove where I appeared as a guest with the Dirty Strangers and Youth was on the bill as part of his collaboration called Zodiac Youth

We all liked each other right away. Alan was producing a twisted single project for which he had devised a tune and chorus called “Lock & Key” as a setting for a poem of my choice, and an early verse of mine titled after the John Coltrane composition “Blues to Elvin” seemed to fit quite perfectly with the music. We had cut the tracks in Al’s little studio behind his house in Shepherd’s Bush and Al was remixing the results when he thought how great it would be if Youth would have eyes to complete the production for release on Ian Grant’s label, Track Records.

Youth was agreeable and fixed up the tune so it could be dropped on election day 2010 in London, whence it had very very little effect on the bitter outcome of the balloting. But in the process we had found something that appealed to each of us. I have to confess that I had no idea who Youth was in the world of music, and I think he knew me from my illustrious past with little idea of what I might have been doing for the past 40 years since my release from prison as a result of the historic intercession of John Lennon.

Alan Clayton had opened up an intriguing door onto a new idiom with his work fusing poetry with the song format on “Lock & Key.” I was introduced to this concept in 2001 when I made the first volume of my epic verse work in blues, Fattening Frogs For Snakes, under the direction of the great Andre Williams in New Orleans, where he and guitarist Bill Lynn devised the musical settings for the poems and inserted chorus sections sung by a three-woman vocal ensemble called ELS.

These were blues works through and through, but Clayton had taken the same approach to the pop music format and really made it work. Youth was deeply attracted to the results and also enjoyed my “live” blues poem performances with the Dirty Strangers. We talked after the gig and Youth told me he’d like to make “sort of a beatnik poetry & jazz album” with me if I was interested.

Was I interested? I love to collaborate with all sorts of creative and traditional musicians of many stripes, and after Ian Grant explained to me exactly who Youth was as a musician, composer & producer, I was excited to confront the possibility that not only would Youth make something new and exciting out of my poems, but he might could even take my little works in verse to a wider audience than I had ever yet enjoyed—by far!

So we set to work when the two of us were in London at the same time. First we made an extensive interview at a nearby recording studio where Youth was working on an album by a pop group called The View., and he recorded a track with me for possible use on their album. Then Alan Clayton and I went by Youth’s place to work in the front room studio with Michael Rendall on the console and keyboards, Youth on basses and Alan on guitars.

There was little discussion of repertoire. Instead, Youth & Michael would play me a track they’d already recorded and I would find a poem to fit it, or they’d start a groove with Alan Clayton and I’d fall in with appropriate verses. Usually I try to avoid recording works I’m already happy with in terms of the musical outcome, but here I decided to choose from my works which have proved favorites with my listeners and—very hopefully—make new editions for a new and potentially much greater audience. In most cases these first attempts were preserved as takes and my voice tracks kept all the way through the end in the Kerouacian tradition of “first take, best take.”

A very few of the recitations were recut later in the process, and one day we went out to a primitive recording studio at Kingston University, where Youth was serving as Artist in Residence for a spell, to make a live session with Alan Clayton, Brian James and a host of guitarists, George Butler and Steve the Fly on drums, Youth on bass, Michael at the keyboards and a bunch of other characters. Some of the vocals from this session survive in the finished product even though I wasn’t able to hear myself while they were being cut with the band.

Youth, Alan, Michael and I went back and forth in Youth’s studio on several occasions until we had the tracks and the recitations where we wanted them, mixed them down and started adding guest performers to the mix, culminating with the visit to the studio of Howard Marks, who capped off my poem “It’s All Good” with a creative wig bubble centered on the War On Drugs, with both vocal parts set against a fantastic track contributed by Primal Scream that’s called “Culture-Cide” (as in suicide, or fratricide).

The opening and closing tracks were hallucinated by Youth and each supported three of my poems: “everything happens to me” > “friday the 13th” and “Fat Boy” for “Testify,” and “Spiritual” > “Consequences” > “Blues To You” from the Homage to John Coltrane for “Sitarttha.” On “Everybody Needs Somebody” my recitation of “monk in orbit” is followed by some recollections of Allen Ginsberg taken from an interview segment cut earlier.

I couldn’t be happier with the results of this collaboration. I’ve called it BEATNIK YOUTH from the very beginning of the project—me as the beatnik, Youth as the youth, as in his group Zodiac Youth—and although the outlook for humanism and social progress seemed typically grim and hopeless when we began recording, there appears to be an emergent new generation of what I might hopefully call BEATNIK YOUTH, and I’d like to try to add this album to their playlist for the immediate future.

Further, affiant sayeth not.

—Hotel Hortus > 420 Café
Amsterdam
May 13-14, 2012

© 2012 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.


Here is a list of the poems used on the record:

01 “everything happens to me” > “friday the 13th” > “Fat Boy”
02 “The Screamers”
03 “monk in orbit” > conversation
04 “We Just Change the Beat”
05 “Ain't Nobody's Bizness”
06 “My Buddy”
07 “that old man”
08 “brilliant corners”
09 “It’s All Good”
10 “ruby my dear”
11 “Spiritual” > “Consequences” > “Blues To You”

“everything happens to me” > “friday the 13th” > “monk in orbit” > “that old man” > “brilliant corners” > “ruby my dear” from always know: a book of monk © 2012 john Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.

“Spiritual” > “Consequences” > “Blues To You” from Song of Praise: Homage to John Coltrane © 2011 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.

“We Just Change the Beat” from Fattening Frogs For Snakes © 2002 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.

All other poems © 2012 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.

Credits

Testify

Recitation - John Sinclair
Vocals - Angie Brown
Drums - Steve Pratt
Gtr - James Sedwards
Gtr - Alan Clayton
Bass - Youth
Sax - Alex Ward
Piano - Alex Ward
Hammond/
String Synth - Michael Rendall

Written by John Sinclair, Martin Glover, Alan Clayton
Mixed by Michael Rendall
Produced by Youth

Good Stuff

Recitation - John Sinclair
Vocals - Angie Brown
Vocals - Zodiac Youth
Gtr - James Sedwards
Gtr - Alan Clayton
Gtr - Doug Hart
Gtr - Andrew Robertson
Gtr - Jessie Wood
Piano - Beef Pilchards
Sax - Alex Ward
Hammond Organ - Michael Rendall
Drum Programming - Michael Rendall

Written by John Sinclair, Martin Glover, Alan Clayton
Mixed by Michael Rendall
Produced by Youth

Everybody Needs Somebody

Recitation - John Sinclair
Bass - Youth
Bass - Douglas Hurd
Guitar - Youth
Guitar - James Sedwards
Slide guitar - Jesse wood
Acoustic guitar - Alan Clayton
Piano - Michael Rendall
Synth - Andrew Robertson
Drums - Hugo Wilkinson

Written John Sinclair, Martin Glover, Alan Clayton
Recorded and mixed by Michael Rendall
Produced by Youth

Change My Life

Recitation - John Sinclair
Vocals - Angie Stone
BV's - Michael Rendall
Drums - Steve Pratt
Bass - Youth
Gtr - James Sedwards
Gtr - Alan Clayton
Gtr - Jessie Wood
Piano/Hammond Organ - Michael Rendall

Written by John Sinclair, Martin Glover, Alan Clayton
Produced by Youth
Mixed by Michael Rendall

Ain't Nobody’s Bizness

Recitation - John Sinclair
Vocals - Angie Stone
Vocals - Alan Clayton
Drums - George Butler
Bass - Youth
Gtr - James Sedwards
Gtr - Andrew Robertson
Gtr - Alan Clayton
Piano - Alex Ward

Written by John Sinclair, Martin Glover, Alan Clayton
Produced by Youth
Mixed by Michael Rendall

My Buddy

Recitation - John Sinclair
Vocals - Angie Stone
Drums - Hugo Wilkinson
Bass - Youth
Gtr - James Sedwards
Piano/Hammond Organ - Michael Rendall

Written by John Sinclair, Martin Glover, Alan Clayton
Produced by Youth
Mixed by Michael Rendall

That Old Man

Recitation - John Sinclair
Vocals - Angie Brown
Bass - Youth
Piano/Hammond Organ - Michael Rendall
Programming - Michael Rendall

Written by John Sinclair, Martin Glover, Alan Clayton
Mixed by Michael Rendall
Produced by Youth

Brilliant Corners

Recitation - John Sinclair
Vocals - Mark Stewart
Sax - Alex Ward
Gtr - Alan Clayton
Solina - Michael Rendall
Strings - Michael Rendall
Additional Programming - Youth

Written by John Sinclair, Martin Glover, Alan Clayton
Mixed by Michael Rendall
Produced by Youth

Culture-Cide

Recitation - John Sinclair
Recitation - Howard Marks
Vocals - Rob Spragg
Vocals - The View (Kyle Falconer, Kieren Webster, Pete Reilly, Steven Morrison)
Vocals - Mark Stewart
Vocals - Bobby Gillespie
Gtr - Keith Levine
Keyboards, Drums & Programming - Primal Scream

Written by John Sinclair, Howard Marks, Mark Stewart, Martin Glover, Alan Clayton
Co Produced by Adrian Sherwood
Mixed by Michael Rendall
Produced by Youth

Red Dress (Ruby My Dear)

Recitation - John Sinclair
Vocals - Angie Brown
Drums - Steve Pratt
Bass - Youth
Gtr - Alan Clayton
Gtr - James Sedwards
Piano - Alex Ward
Hammond Organ - Michael Rendall

Written by John Sinclair, Martin Glover, Alan Clayton, Zoe Pollock
Produced by Youth
Mixed by Michael Rendall

Sitartha

Recitation - John Sinclair
Vocals - Angie Brown
BV's - Youth
BV's - Michael Rendall
Drums - Hugo Wilkinson
Bass - Youth
Gtr - James Sedwards
Sax - Alex Ward
Piano - Alex Ward
Hammond Organ/Solina - Michael Rendall

Written by John Sinclair, Martin Glover, Alan Clayton
Mixed by Michael Rendall
Produced by Youth

Album mastered by Nigel Walton @ The Edit Suite

John Sinclair would like to thank Steve “The Fly” Pratt, Nick Smith, Dylan Harding, Thomas Campbell, David Kerekes, Ian Grant, the magnificent Youth, the great Michael Rendall, Alan Clayton & the Dirty Strangers, Brian James, Gary Lammin, Vicente Pino, Mick Farren, Charles Shaar Murray & Buffalo Bill Smith, Peter Dennett of Art Yard, “Mr. Nice” Howard Marks, Dan Gray, Michael Veling at the 420 Café, Janne Svenssen, Mark Ritsema, Dr. Tim, Maurits and Leslie Lopez at Café the Zen, Ben Dronkers, Ravi, Claudia, Larry Hayden, Henk Botwinik, Joeri Pfeiffer & Sidney Daniels, with extra special thanks to Soul Lucille and Celia, Sunny & Beyonce Sinclair

© (p) 2012 John Sinclair & Martin Glover
All Rights of the producer and copyright owner reserved. Unauthorized
copying, re-recording, broadcasting, public performance, hiring or
rental of this recording in whatever manner is strictly prohibited.
In the UK apply for public performance and broadcast licenses to:
Phonographic Performance Limited,
1 Upper James Street, London W1F 9DE




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