All posts filed under: Culture

Cover Story – Part VI – ZE Records

ZE Records (always written with two capital letters) was originally a New York-based record label, started in 1978 by Michael Zilkha and Michel Esteban. It has been re-established by Esteban since 2003. Michael Zilkha (b. 1954) is a British-born Oxford graduate of Iraqidescent, the son of Selim Zilkha, former owner of Mothercare, a major UK retail company, and the stepson of Cabinet member Lord Lever. In the mid-1970s, Zilkha worked in the New York publishing industry and was a contributor to the Village Voice. Michel Esteban (b. 1951) studied art in Paris and at the School of Visual Arts in New York, before returning to Paris in 1975 and opening the shop Harry Cover (a pun on “haricots verts”), which specialised in current rock music merchandise from the US and UK. The basement shop quickly became the rehearsal place for Parisian new wave bands. Between 1975 and 1976, Esteban published Rock News, which covered the birth of the punk rockmovement in London, New York and Paris. In 1977 he published Patti Smith’s books Witt and The Night, and Lizzy Mercier Descloux’s first book Desiderata. In 1977, Esteban signed French new wave band Marie et les Garçons, and asked John Cale – who had been introduced to him …

In The Words of Sparks …

In The Words of Sparks … Selected Lyrics Sparks – the long-running duo of brothers Ron and Russell Mael – are among the most respected songwriters of their generation, their songs ranking alongside those of Ray Davies (The Kinks having been a formative influence), George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Stephen Sondheim. Formed in Los Angeles in 1971, Sparks have issued over 20 albums and scored chart hits with songs such as ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us’, ‘Cool Places’ and ‘Never Turn Your Back on Mother Nature’. While their musical style has changed dramatically over the course of 40 years – embracing the British Invasion sound of the 60s, glam rock, disco (they teamed up with Giorgio Moroder for 1979’s ‘No. 1 in Heaven’) and even techno – their work has consistently stretched the boundaries of pop music and the song form. Sparks continue to break new ground: they are currently working on a project with filmmaker Guy Maddin and are soon to embark on a world tour. Now, for the …

Moon River and Buffalo 66 – what is it about Vincent Gallo?

One of our all time favourite films is Buffalo 66, one of our favourite songs is Moon River. So when last trawling the web, researching said Buffalo 66, it was an absolute pleasure to find this gem: For those of you who haven’t seen Buffalo 66, here’s a summary: having just served five years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Billy Brown (Vincent Gallo) kidnaps a young tap dancer named Layla (Christina Ricci) and forces her to pretend to be his wife. Layla allows herself to be kidnapped and it is clear she is romantically attracted to Billy from the start, but Billy all the while is compelled to deal with his own demons, his loneliness and his depression. The subplot of Billy seeking revenge on the man indirectly responsible for his imprisonment, Scott Wood, is a reference to a former Buffalo Bills kicker, Scott Norwood, who missed the game-winning field goal in Super Bowl XXV against the New York Giants in 1991. The balance struck between a haunting  vulnerability and dry …

Shamsuddin – Iranian food in Satwa

Originally by I’m Not a Fiend Aahh, meat. Sometimes I love the stuff. Sometimes I go weeks feeling completely ambivalent about it. Sometimes I read depressing articles and the thought of meat consumption makes me feel sick. Sometimes I eat Iranian food and remember just how beautiful meat really is. How could I ever have thought otherwise?? Those Persians know how to treat meat right. You haven’t experienced tender meat till you’ve had a good Iranian kebab. So I was excited to spot Shamsuddin on Satwa Road recently. It’s pretty bare bones, but that’s just the way I like it. Basic furniture. Tissue boxes. TV on the news channel. Two guys running the whole place. The guy working the grill must have been someone’s son, a baby-faced meat apprentice. Shamsuddin don’t even have a menu. Just decide if you want mutton or chicken, minced or pieces. Simple as that. The rest will come to you. In the face of such choices, we ordered a plate of everything. A housemade laban, heavy on the fresh mint, kept …

Cover Story – Part V – Westminster Records

Westminster Records was an American classical music record label, issuing original recordings until 1965. It was co–founded in 1949 by Mischa Naida (who later founded Musical Heritage Society, the owner of the Westminster Record Shop in New York City, businessman James Grayson (1897–1980), conductor Henry Swoboda, and Henry Gage. Its trademark was Big Ben and its slogan was “natural balance”, referring to its single microphone technique in recording music, similar to Mercury Records’ Living Presence series. Early on, its recordings were technically superior to most others in the marketplace, and the label became popular among the growing community of audiophiles. In the late 1950s the company began issuing stereophonic recordings, including a rare disc of the music of Swedish composer Hugo Alfvén (1872-1960), conducted by the composer. The “Westminster Laboratory” (W-Lab) series of classical recordings were technically superior to other brands and sold at higher price than the regular Westminsters. The company was sold in the early 1960s to ABC-Paramount Records, which at first continued to issue new material (as well as reissuing old recordings …