Category Archives: Birthdays

Where Do We Go From Here?

“May 21, is my birthday. Every year on Life Elsewhere, we create a show around it. One year a professor who specializes in ancient Roman history explained with peculiar enthusiasm, how the Romans celebrated their birthdays…the conversation quickly turned into an almost x-rated play-by-play account of ancient Roman’s predilection for excessive hedonistic pleasures. Then there was the time a renowned astrologer talked about star signs…that conversation managed to wander off into a startling prediction that a certain Mr. Trump’s signs were so well-aligned, he could be President…if he ever chose to run. Last year I talked about the music that changed my life…So, here we are again, another year has passed, yet this year is different…this birthday is a big one! I’ve debated with myself as to how I should handle this on the show…Age is just a number people say, we all get old, it’s part of life…a good friend of mine, who happens to be a few years younger than me, has acknowledged he is getting old by producing a witty cartoon series, titled Drifting Into Old Age. He is embracing the ironies of getting old..er…pointing out the inevitable, albeit with a slight nod and wink. So the debate for me has been, do I shout out from the rooftops…or do I let another year gracefully pass on by?”
Norman B, May 21, 2017

Norman’s birthday is the theme for the second half of the latest edition of Life Elsewhere. In the first part of the show, Norman asks frequent contributor, scholar & expert in Global, Urban and Social Studies, Dr. Binoy Kampmark to help us understand what in the world is going on? Almost moment by moment there is breaking news surrounding the Trump administration. What’s it all about and where do we go from here?

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Elvis & David

They were born on the same day, the same month, twelve years apart. It could be just a coincidence that two of the most important cultural figures of the last hundred years share the same birthday, but we like to think it has to be a deliberate plan of the gods. To celebrate the birthday of Elvis and David, we talk with Helen Ma, the President of The International Elvis Presley Fan Club in Hong Kong. Journalist and author, Gillian Gaar will share crucial details from her excellent book, 100 Things Elvis Fans Should Know & Do Before They DieChris O’Leary, who wrote, Rebel Rebel the definitive book on Bowie songs (volume one), will give his critical opinion of Blackstar. Plus, Norman B will share moments from a rare intimate conversation with David Bowie. In the program, you’ll hear mention of “Polari”  and Norman mentions the British actor and comedian Kenneth Williams. To hear “Polari ” as used by Williams, we suggest you visit Round The Horn.

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Birthday Boys

Elvis & Davis Mugshots

John Lennon famously said,  “Before Elvis there was nothing.” Lennon was correct, of course, which may have prompted David Bowie to remark, Elvis was a major hero of mine. I was probably stupid enough to believe that having the same birthday as him actually meant something.” It is curious to remember that two of the most important and influential figures in popular culture were both born on January 8th, albeit just twelve years apart. The legend that is Elvis continues with more enthusiasm today than when he died in 1977. Meanwhile, the very much alive Mr. Bowie releases, Blackstarhis 25th studio album on his 69th birthday. In the next edition of Life Elsewhere, we pay tribute to ElvisDavid with Helen Ma, the President of The International Elvis Presley Fan Club in Hong Kong. Author, and journalist, Gillian Gaar will talk about her book, 100 Things Elvis Fans Should Know & Do Before They DieChris O’Leary, who wrote, Rebel Rebel the definitive book on Bowie songs (volume one), will give his critical opinion of Blackstar. Plus, Norman B will share moments from a rare intimate conversation with David Bowie. Make sure you do not miss the next edition of Life Elsewhere.

Listen to David Bowie chatting with Norman B here

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Download Norman B’s Exclusive Thank You Mix

Picture 3A big week at Life Elsewhere headquarters! A record number of listeners to our Podcast via Stitcher and WMNF, plus massive amounts of hits at this site, from Mongolia to Kuwait and Chile to Finland. If that wasn’t enough to keep us busy, it was also Norman B’s birthday which generated non-stop email and snail-mail salutations. The cake, the balloons and festive paraphernalia are gradually being pushed to one side as we concentrate on the Memorial Day edition of Life Elsewhere. One birthday card looks like it will permanently take pride of place on Norman B’s desk. It’s a card from his son James (pictured left), with a sentiment we all agree with.

Impressed with all the generous birthday messages and the ever-growing numbers of subscribers and listeners to Life Elsewhere, Norman B set about saying “Thank You” by making an exclusive mix for you to download. “I decided to give something back to all the wonderful supporters of Life Elsewhere said Norman B, adding “I selected some my all-time favorite and collectable reggae tracks!” The playlist follows and the download link is at the bottom of the page.

Norman B’s Exclusive Thank You Mix                                  

The Twinkle Brothers – I Love You So

(Apologies for the surface noise, this track was taken directly from my well-worn copy). This track first appeared on a 10” ep on the Virgin Front Line imprint, apparently now a rare find. I bought my copy when it was released in 1978, before ever hearing it. The cover caught my attention as I perused the slim reggae bin at the original Virgin Records shop in London. I played that slight piece of vinyl again and again and almost wore it out. It moved me to such a degree I remember playing it repeatedly one night for my opinionated yet terribly smart friend (and sadly departed) Ken, who finally shouted at me, “Can you give that bloody thing a rest?!” And with that he promptly put on The Stranglers.

Osbourne Graham – Baby Don’t Go

B-side of “San San” an Upsetters’ 7” from 1974 produced by the original Upsetter, Lee Perry on the Count Shelly imprint. Very rare find if you are lucky track down this gem.

Johnny Clarke – Hold On

This track most likely can be found on various compilations like almost all of reggae tracks recorded in Jamaica throughout the 70’s and 80’s. The compilation lists go on and on and it has become almost impossible to keep up with who released what, when and where. I first discovered “Hold On” on the album Johnny Clarke Meets Cornell Campbell (In New Stylee). It’s a classic Bunny Lee production recorded at Joe Gibbs in 1983.

Jah Walton – Touch Her Where She Want It Most

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 3.26.22 PMNow here is a fine example of the conundrum of reggae…truth and rights vs. slackness…or…an overindulgence of a debatable religious idea vs. downright blatant sexual boasting. Mr. Walton aka Joseph Cotton manages to mix up both idioms in the short space of one album. The first track “Stay A Your Yard And Praise God” sets a seemingly righteous tone, which abruptly changes with the title track “Touch Her Where She Want It Most”. You certainly don’t have to decipher the lyrics to understand what Mr. Cotton is on about. And just to bolster his predilection, he follows with  “Tender Pum Pum”. But it’s the front cover artwork, if you happen to come across it, that may convince you of Jah Walton’s true religion. Recorded in 1981 at Channel One and produced by Phil Pratt.

General Echo – Answer The Telephone

Earl Anthony Robinson made no bones about where his interests lay, with album titles like “Slackest LP” and 12″ of Pleasure. I happen to own a cassette recording of him toasting with his own Echo Tone Hi Fi sound system where his graphic boasting was for the time truly original and shocking. This track recorded one year before his premature death in 1980 is from the album Rocking & Swing“.

Barry Brown – Girlfriend + Girlfriend In Dub

Curiously, Barry Brown apparently wants to borrow a girlfriend! A rousing disco-mix from the exceptional album “Showcase: Midnight Rock At Channel One” Produced by and featuring Jah ThomasScientist and Roots Radics provide the backing.

Susan Cadogan – Nice And Easy

From a 1976 album produced by Lee Perry, alternately titled Susan Cadogan and “Hurt So Good”. Unfortunately like many female reggae artists, Ms. Cadogan is best remembered for a just one hit. Her sweet breathy vocal style was well handled by the inimitable Mr. Perry on an album well worth searching for.

Derrick Lara & Trinity – Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough

True story: I used to play this track, many years ago on Wednesday nights at Tugs, the legendary club in Seattle. When I had the crowd at a fever pitch after a set that involved mixing B52’s into Soft Cell then into The Supremes I needed something to keep ‘em on the dance floor but also change the pace a little. This 12” disco-mix’s thundering bass-line coupled with the familiarity of the song had everyone in a sweaty throbbing mass on the dance floor. The only trouble was the first evening I was about to play the disc, a not so careful visitor to the dj booth managed to knock the platter to the floor. It was Jamaican pressing and therefore made out of the old thick breakable vinyl…a chunk about one inch across snapped off the edge…the disc was still playable but I had no choice but to cue it up, skipping the opening bars to begin where Mr. Lara says, “Yeah!” It was a huge success and requested again and again. I almost certainly played the record every week for over a year but dancers at Tugs never ever heard the beginning. Thankfully I managed to find a digital version so you can hear the whole wonderful effort intact. Enjoy.

Norman B’s Exclusive FREE Thank You Mix was available for a limited time. 

Don’t Miss the Memorial Day Edition of Life Elsewhere

Monday, 9.00am EDT, May 26

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Podcast now available at Stitcher

“Cock & Balls!” Said The Professor

Julie LangfordJulie LangfordAssociate Professor of Roman History at the University of South Florida, joined the Birthday edition of Life Elsewhere. Ms Langford described in explicit detail how the ancient Romans celebrated birthdays and rites of passage, “Romans marked out children from adults by their dress, in particular by an amulet that citizen children would wear around their neck. Very often, this had a phallus and testicles…it was in the shape of a cock and balls” the Professor cooly announced, causing Norman B’s producer to have an instant deer-in-the-headlights moment as she readied herself to hit the “bleep” button. Julie Langford went on to describe how a phallus was the symbol of life  and crucial in averting the Evil Eye. The Professor continued with stories about sacrifices, honey cakes, the age girls became women and much more.

Listen to the complete Podcast of Life Elsewhere’s Birthday edition, which also includes Norman B retracing momentous changes in his life through music. His musical selection includes, Elvis Presley, Elmore James, Marvin GayeThe Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Cornell Campbell, Gregory Isaacs, David Bowie, The Smiths, The Only Ones, Killing Joke, A.R. Kane and Barzin.

This is the song Norman B heard at the age of ten, that changed his life. Hear the complete Podcast of Life Elsewhere’s Birthday edition here or here

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