Category Archives: Killing Joke

Remembering Brian Taylor

It was late on a dreary afternoon in London, I was jet-lagged after a flight from Seattle. I made my way cautiously from Notting Hill Gate tube station to an address near Ladbroke Grove. Although the area was as familiar as the back of my hand, a lot had changed in the years I had been in America. The birth of Punk had coincided with my departure to the land of the free and the home of the brave. Portobello Road, was just around the corner, where I fondly recalled my days selling hand-painted ties in the market on Saturdays. The area was now awash with spikey-haired youths sporting studded leather jackets, assorted piercings, tattoos and awkwardly-contrived wasted-poses. Many of the once glorious townhomes were now boarded up or in a state of suspended demolition. The impact of Thatcher’s Britain was not looking so good around these parts. Eventually, I found the address, obviously run-down, with some windows missing. The front door, barely on its hinges. Clambering up the filthy, rickety stairs, I remember noting that the aromas of piss, greasy food, vomit and ganja really don’t mix well. I discovered a door with a hastily scribbled note, that read, “Malicious Damage is here and th…” The rest was ripped off, leaving visitors guessing.  After knocking on the door many times, it creaked open and a wobbly head with disastrous white-boy dreads appeared and inquired as to my reason for “Fuckin’ banging on the fuckin’ door, you cunt!”. Dread-head* then brushed passed me, leaving a trail of patchouli essence and harsh cigarette smoke gagging my throat on top of all the other ripe smells. Dready lurched down the hallway, then almost falling down the stairs, managed to call me and possibly every person he ever knew, “Cunts! fuckin’ cunts!” I entered the room, introduced myself to the assorted Muppets gathered in various languorous states. A tousled-haired fellow sitting cross-legged on the floor was wrestling with plastic bags and what looked like record sleeves, only they were about 10 inches square and were apparently one-sided. “Hi, there.” Said the industrious fellow, “I’m Brian, c’mon in.” Beers appeared out of nowhere and copious amounts of hashish were consumed and hours went by. My memory may fail me, but I’m sure that was the time Brian suggested we go eat and we toddled off to South Kensington at my suggestion, to scoff down wonderful Thai food at an old standby of mine, The Bangkok on Bute Street. The enigmatic Ian Lowery. joined us. He and Brian screamed at each other in the cab on the way to the restaurant. It was a serious disagreement over what Plato meant to the 20th century. Later, I was to discover this was standard when hanging out with Brian Taylor. The man not only had an encyclopedic knowledge of music, he was also able to quote Rimbaud or Nietzsche or Freud or whoever you suggested, at will. He was as fluent in Bukowski as he was Shakespeare. He knew the names of cameramen on obscure foreign films. His love of kilims was matched only by his expertise. Brian amazed me. I loved being around him. His brain worked fast and hard and his humor was priceless. That first meeting with Brian Taylor was triggered by a visit to Rough Trade, where Geoff Travis had urged me to check out Brian and a new band he was managing, Killing Joke. Turn To Red was just about to be released and the Peel sessions were still to happen. I scampered back to Seattle with a cardboard box full of wonderful platters. The Killing Joke 10 inch was my treasure. Back in the states, I treated listeners to my show on KRAB the wonders of that record, playing it again and again, week after week. To my knowledge, I was the first person to play Turn To Red on the radio in America. That cemented my friendship with Brian. Each new release on Malicious Damage was rushed over to me, which in those days meant, if Brian could afford the postage, I received a brand new platter in about two weeks after it came off the press. Brian and I communicated by phone occasionally, but mostly by mail. I still have those long, often rambling letters from Brian, documenting the goings on with Killing Joke, and the other acts now on his label. At some point, Brian announced he was coming out to Seattle for a visit. He was having a hard time with some of the members of KJ, he wrote. He was pissed off and needed to get away. Come on over I said, and he did. I remember little of his visit other than we spent many hours drinking and solving the world’s problems while neglecting our own. Time went by, things happened for both of us. We grew older and moved around. In the past few years, we spoke regularly, with Brian in Turkey and me in Florida. Often we agreed after long, long conversations to meet up again. Just a few days ago I mentioned to Brian that I would be in the UK soon. “I’ll be in Brighton.” He offered.  “So will I!” I shouted. It was agreed, we’d meet up, probably drink our fair share and put the world in order and of course, overlook our own problems, again. Rest In Peace Brian. Norman B June 4, 2017

The image of Brian Taylor is courtesy of Frank Jenkinson who managed to capture a time and place with deft skill and determination as illustrated in his self-published book, KILLING JOKE Picture Book 1979   

*Dread-head went on to fame and glory.

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Star Signs & Life Changing Music

“May 21 rolls around again, and another year in my journey through life has passed,” says Norman B, referring to his birthday. “Looking back over the years,” he continues, “I’m fortunate to have wonderful memories, each with their own soundtrack!” In the next edition of Life Elsewhere, Norman B recalls the music that has made an impact on his life. He’ll take us on his life-changing journey complete with his musical soundtrack including Elvis Presley, Elmore James, The Rolling Stones, Marvin Gaye, Van Morrison, Cornell Campbell, Gregory Isaacs, David Bowie, The Smiths, The Only Ones, Killing Joke, A.R. Kane, Barzin and Hugh.

Plus, Norman B will ask acclaimed astrologer Joyce Levine why star signs and birthdays are inextricably connected? Joyce a top expert on the subject, knows her stuff. She has all the answers and will also explain why Pop Astrology is entertaining but not very useful. But, can Joyce read the star chart of a certain Mr. Trump, to let us know if he will be elected President? Find out in the next edition of Life Elsewhere.

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The Year At Life Elsewhere

2015 was an eventful year at Life Elsewhere. We covered a vast array of topics and interviewed a stellar line-up of guests. Beginning in January, Norman B proclaimed Unbecoming, the debut novel by Rebecca Scherm, “One of the best books this year!” Sadly, the year had only just got underway, when news arrived of the death of George Romansic, an important figure in the early Seattle music scene. Norman gave a moving tribute. Photojournalist, Lynsey Addario recounted her graphic stories from the front-line inAfghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Darfur and the Congo in her book, It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War. A fitting subtitle for an investigative book on the “plush toys”, better known as Beanie Babies could be The Dark Side of Cute, bestselling author, Zac Bissonnette gave us the detailsEverything you want to know, everything you didn’t know about David Bowie’s songs, were explained by Chris O’Leary the author of Rebel RebelThat’s Not English said Erin Moore in her book on Britishisms, Americanisms, and What Our English Says About Us. The legendary Wreckless Eric told stories about his early days at Stiff records. Comedy writer Jon Macks reflected on Monologue: What Makes America Laugh Before Bed. Growing up in the delta of Arkansas, Brandon Wallace, knew only two things about himself: he was called to ministry and he was attracted to the same sex. He talked about coming out and his book, Straight-Face The curious case of Sepp Blatter and FIFA was clarified by Eight By Eight creator Robert Priest. Talented Norwegian singer-songwriter Siv Jakobsen entertained with her music and observations. Heavy Metal guitarist, Marty Friedman talked frankly about life after Megadeth. Award-winning wildlife expert, Gareth Patterson spoke lovingly of his work with African lions and the death of Cecil. Frank Jenkinson shared memories of shooting photos of the then-fledgling and later influential British band, Killing Joke. British-American musician Zuzu caught Norman B’s attention, resulting in an engaging interview. And to round out our year at Life Elsewhere, acclaimed caricaturist Steve Brodner gave his definitive appraisals of the GOP Presidential candidates. 

We know you appreciate the loving effort we make in discovering new music and putting it on the air at Life Elsewhere. Please consider showing us some love in return by making a modest donation — however much you can afford, when it comes from the heart, it’s the kind of gesture that makes what we do worthwhile. To encourage your contribution Norman B, has produced a unique non-stop mix of the Life Elsewhere Music Of 2015. To get your copy of the Life Elsewhere Holiday Gift Mix 2015, click on the “Make A Donation” button below, complete the form, in return, we’ll send you a special code to unlock and download the Life Elsewhere Holiday Gift Mix. But don’t delay, the Gift Mix will only be available for a limited time. Thank you for supporting Life Elsewhere.

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A Conversation With Mr. B

NB Comp photos

By the age of eleven, he planned to be a graphic designer or a radio announcer. Then, Elvis changed his life. Music became a passion. He was there, the night Andrew Oldham discovered the Stones. At art school, he learnt about the Blues, R & B, Soul and Reggae. A visit to New York in ’74 found him at CBGB, alongside Lenny Kaye and Patti Smith as Television performed. A chance introduction to radio resulted in a long career as an acclaimed interviewer. This is part one of his story, illustrated with music from Johnnie RayElvis PresleyThe Rolling Stones, Marvin GayeThe SkatalitesRoy & MillieAlton EllisToots & The MaytalsJohnny Clarke, Television and Killing Joke.

Life Elsewhere airs:
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The Food & Drink Edition

                            

Next on Life Elsewhere, a program devoted to food and drink. Of course, we’ll venture into not so predictable territory. Michelle Ephraim and Caroline Bicks are longtime friends and fans of Shakespeare. They are both professors who teach the works of the Bard. Better still, the two academics like a cocktail. While the learned ladies were imbibing a couple of drinks, inspiration struck: Shakespeare-themed cocktails! The result is Shakespeare, Not Stirred: Cocktails for Your Everyday Dramas. In equal parts, it’s a funny and educational book. If you appreciate Shakespeare and a fine cocktail, make sure you don’t miss this interview.

Continuing on with our food and drink theme, Norman B talks with J. Ryan Stradal, the author of a book that has to qualify as one of the best reads of 2015, Kitchens of the Great Midwest. “This is a remarkable book!” Says Norman B, “As I reached the last couple of pages, I couldn’t help myself, tears meandered down my cheeks. From the very first page Stradal drew me into his complicated, yet seemingly simple story. A story that revolves around a passion for food and drink.” Setting his impressive book in the Midwest, with fine dining as a central theme, is a stroke of genius. J. Ryan Stradal grew up in Hastings, Minn, a place he lovingly references in one hilarious chapter. The cover and even the book’s title could mislead a prospective reader from discovering the wonderful story Stradal weaves. To accompany the fascinating interview, we’ve added a selection of food and drink themed music, including, Patrick WolfTanita TikaramCibo MattoThe KinksBob Marley.

A quick word about last week’s edition featuring Frank Jenkinson’s photo book on Killing Joke, we’ve received numerous enquiries on how to obtain a copy. You’ll find the direct link here.

Life Elsewhere airs:
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Mondays 7.00pm ET at WROM Radio
Mondays 5.00pm PT at NWCZ Radio

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