PROPAGANDA NOW. ’Every day our cause becomes clearer and people get smarter’
At this ZTT archival website - https://www.zttaat.com/release.php?item=280 - they have the full Punman notes for the ZTT's soundtrack album of Nic Roeg's disappointingly mid Insignificance - (apparently extracts from IP's "Cravings" - I assume some Barthesian never-completed-work)
The narcissist suffers from too much inner dialogue. The eye of one’s consciousness is forever looking at one’s own action. Yes — let us try to keep the notion clear — a narcissist is not self-absorbed so much as one self is immersed in studying the other. The narcissist is the scientist and the experiment in one. Other people exist, have value to the narcissist because of their particular ability to arouse one role or another in oneself. And are valued for that. May even be loved for that. Of course, they are loved as an actress loves her audience.
amazing… but true
THE SHAPE OF THE UNIVERSE
the shape of the universe is INSIGNIFICANCE
introducing Tony Curtis as the SENATOR
“it sure is a dog of a night…and tomorrow it’s going to be a dog of a day…”
Michael Emil as the PROFESSOR
“I didn’t choose America…I don’t care”
Theresa Russell as the ACTRESS
“We have an awful lot in common”
Gary Busey as the BALLPLAYER
“So you screwed another shrink”
1. A Dog Of A Night produced and performed by STANLEY MYERS
2. Remember Remember produced and performed by HANS ZIMMER
3. Relativity One and Two and Three performed and produced by STANLEY MYERS
4. Forever (What The Hell) produced and performed by STANLEY MYERS
5. Wild Hearts produced by David Briggs and Will Jennings performed by ROY ORBISON
including dialogue spoken by Tony Curtis, Michael Emil, Theresa Russell and Gary Busey
1. B-29 (Shape Of the Universe) produced and performed by HANS ZIMMER
2. Life Goes On produced and arranged by Jon L. Waters performed by THERESA RUSSELL
3. Jupiter Suite produced by Stanley Myers and Brian Gulland performed by GIL EVANS and his orchestra.
4. World Of Theory (Explode) produced and performed by HANS ZIMMER
5. When Your Heart Runs Out Of Time executive producer Otto Flake performed by GLENN GREGORY and CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN
6. It’s A Dog Of A Night produced and performed by STANLEY MYERS album ticks off with no words WILL JENNINGS When Your Heart Runs Out Of Time
so what is it to be said at this hour of Apocalypse? Whatever we say, it will be deferred. And we have been given Insignificance in the interim: a vision or version of the Apocalypse that turns out to be far from apocalyptic. It has adopted a different tone. In fact, and this is far from insignificant, it couldn’t be funnier. Or — and it may amount to the same thing — further from the truth. Apocalypse here is charactered into a kind of parodic America dream populated by nameless phantoms…
So that Insignificance will have taken in…a distress signal…a planned overthrow of names…a stroke of fate…one night in Manhattan…a bit of the American Dream left over…from the other who fell…a vanishing act…a catastrophe…the apple’s fall…the law above us and around us…the coincidence of ‘relativity’ with the ‘beginning’ of cinema…all the other doubles (double sexes) in Roeg’s camera…a roll of the dice…a play on eternity…a repeat performance…a disgusting mask…don’t look…two in one: the double reflexes…the coin drops…the curtain falls…perish the thought…the muzzle of desire…the face of God…the second hand…the work of time…the end of the day…goodbye (wave)…the shape of the universe…as insignificant as an autograph…a passion played…for the time being…AND WE WILL TAKE OUT
ACTRESS Have you got a watch…because you’re gonna need it. Now…we have to imagine this room is the entire universe. We begin together some place in space time. We synchronise at…what does your watch say?
PROFESSOR Eight fifteen.
ACTRESS Eight fifteen. Now I travel away from you at a hell of a speed…say one fifth the speed of light, and I travel for five minutes and it gets me here. Now. I look at my watch. It says twenty minutes past eight. But it’s not very reliable. So I look across the Universe to check with your watch. And what does your watch say?
PROFESSOR Twenty minutes past eight.
ACTRESS Not to me it doesn’t. It says nineteen minutes past eight. Because twenty minutes past eight hasn’t reached me yet. It takes a minute for me to see your watch. Because it takes a minute for the light to reach me. See? So your watch is getting slower and slower. Now comes the thousand dollar question. Remember, that if you look at my watch it’s gonna take a minute for it to reach you too. So now what do you say my watch says?
PROFESSOR Nineteen minutes past eight.
ACTRESS Which means…you say I’m going more slowly than you, while I say you’re going more slowly than me…So, given a constant frame of reference within which to experiment…according to Galileo’s original principles and accepting that light always travels at a hundred and eighty six thousand two hundred and eight two point three nine seven miles per second in all directions at once. Then the main point I have demonstrated is that all measurements of Time and Space are necessarily made relative to a single observer. And are not necessarily the same for two independent observers. And that is the Specific Theory of Relativity…Isn’t it?
PROFESSOR Amazing. But True!
We were the chorus commenting on the decree of destiny as disclosed in the development of a supreme incident. There was dramatic quality in the very staging: the traditional ceremony, and it the background the picture of Newton to remind us that the greatest of scientific generalisations was now, after more than two centuries, to receive its first modification…a great adventure in thought had at last come home to shore.
“He was no kind of fanatic…as incapable of true rancour, spite and animosity as a eunuch is of marriage…he faked it all and couldn’t understand anyone who didn’t…His whole method of operation was complicated because he would get a guilty feeling and get hurt after he had blasted someone…He wanted so desperately to be liked. He didn’t anticipate the results of what he was doing…”
OUTER SLEEVE: BACK
amazing… but true
…in the nick of time…
“The Shape Of The Universe” is a long playing record souvenir of Nic Roeg’s Insignificance. The souvenir contains on Side One A DOG OF A NIGHT, REMEMBER REMEMBER, RELATIVITY ONE AND TWO AND THREE, FOREVER (What The Hell) AND WILD HEARTS (…time). On Side Two B-29 (Shape Of The Universe), LIFE GOES ON, JUPITER SUITE, WORLD OF THEORY, WHEN YOUR HEART RUNS OUT OF TIME, DOG OF A NIGHT and ticking…off. Artists: Stanley Myers, Roy Orbison, Gil Evans, Hans Zimmer, Theresa Russell, Will Jennings, Glenn Gregoy and Claudia Brücken. Trumpet solo in Jupiter Suite: Lew Soloff.
The souvenir plays at 33⅓ IN STEREOPHONIC for over forty minutes.
To be acknowledged…
Music recorded at Lansdowne Studioes, Lille Yard Studios, Abbey Road and House of David in Nashville.
Souvenir assembled and edited by Paul Morley at Sarm West London: engineer Bobby Kraushaar.
Jupiter Suite: engineer Chris Dibbell.
Wild Hearts and When Your Heart Runs Out Of Time mixed by Nick Ryan.
Keyboards on When Your Heart Runs Out Of Time: Midge Ure.
Soundtrack supervised by Ray Williams for The Pollyanna Film and Music Company Ltd.
Glenn Gregory (Heaven 17) released courtesy of Virgin Records.
Claudia Brücken (Propaganda) released courtesy of ZTT Records
Stills photography: Dacotah
Photograph of Nic Roeg: A.J. Barratt.
Notes: extracts from Ian Penman’s ‘Cravings.’
Sleeve framed by XLZTT ‘more time please’
Correspondence: Paul McDonald and Chris Auty.
The souvenir graciously takes it’s place as number fourteen in Zang Tuum Time’s infatuated Action Series: ‘It is the traditional task of the prophet to denounce systems of rule and life which deny the freedom of the flesh or the imagination.’
A round of special thanks to David Briggs, Tonia Duvall, Alan Mercy and Tommy Valentino.
Names missing from the credits will know who they are.
A volume of coincidences and wonderings compiled by Neil Norman and published by Sidgewick and Jackson to accompany the film Insignificance is recommended to those who wish to take their time further.
(Zenith logo) a Zenith production distributed by Palace/Recorded Releasing
And so we might say coming out of Insignificance, we were only on our way to this exit after all, an end which refuses the end.
Insignificance is just nothing.... what I call a "Time Out film", gushily reviewed at the time, barely remembered, leaves not an imprint in your "image-repertoire" if you'll pardon my Barthesism. Hurts to say of my favorite all time film maker but after Bad Timing and the first 30 mins of Eureka! there's nothing at all, not a shred.
Mark E. Smith wordsmithery
Morrissey under the influence liner notes
In the early 1970's Manchester the grinding horrors of daily life are softened by song. My life is high walls topped by spiked glass, and the whirl of school boy tribulations are lifted only by cheaply recorded noise. Im our troubles, we cut a dash to youth clubs of squalid barrack buildings, or to where hall chairs are cleared in city chrches. Packed to blackness, the boys do a leisurely stride and somehow call it dancing, arms strategically and stiffly held apart from the body. The girls dance with a self-conscious air of not being watched, hunched together like chattering rats, kiss one and die of typhoid fever.
Like a child in a dream I watch, terrified and delighted. The dancefollr is swarming for "Stop Enoch Powell", "Vietnam", "Double Barrel", "Young Gifted and Black" and for "Swan Lake" by The Cats. Nothing touches me other than song, and night is kinder than day. I am drawn in and held back by the same desire. No words express the agony of the soul like a souring song, and here, we are exactly what our school teachers tell us we are; nothing.
How I feel is beyond my power to tell, so I wait to be led by the singing vpices that reach to me. Without them, I am at the mercy of savages who shape radio and television with a dreadful nothingness. Until, suddenly, a mystery song is played on Radio One in 1972, which I catch four times, details of which are never given by the DJ who is, of course, too busy jabbering away about him-self, and of whom the record clearly gets in the way.
The song words fall out like a lazy argot, the vocal melody starts me - yet I cant understand a single word. Years later, when I find myself behind a micrphone in a recording studio, I use the melody of this mystery song as my guide. Guide - to what? To where? I explain this to Boz Boorer in 1989 and tell him that although I've never again heard that strange record, the melody remains stuck in my head. As I begin to hum it to him, he immediately names the song, the artist, the label, the history, and gives me a seven-inch copy of the 1972 re-issue on Apple. It is "Saturday Nite Special" by the Sundown Playboys, who speak and sing in Acadian French. When Cajun music first flourished in the dancehalls of southwest Louisiana, the rooms had neither amps nor micro-phones, so the singers (usually male) had to sing high and loud to be heard above the instruments (usually accordian and fiddle). Vocals would be belted out without restraint - usually in C or D - and overstretched to an almost female tonality. Some recordings are magnificent without anyone ever needing to say why. It's as if the Great do not need your approval.
How empty life would have been without The New York Dolls.
Here it all began.
A reference point of human squalor, The New York Dolls irked all the little square priggish men who controlled the music buisiness at every level, and to whom the Dolls meant only one thing : trouble.
In 1973, I could not think of any band who resembled The New York Dolls. Daydreaming in Religious Studies, I read how David Johansen says he models himself on Carol Lombard, to which I laugh out loud. "we're like Herman's Hermits" says Johansen, "everyone's gotta sneer" But we're not butch." At 13 I fully realise - this is most certainly IT. I back my school books with pictures of the Dolls, and to hell with Man Ure. My older school-free friends travel to Leeds to spend the night with the Dolls at the Dragonara Hotel after the Dolls university gig, and return to me with tales that witness madness. The New York Dolls are indeed the roughest of trade, David Johansen is Leo Gorcey, Johnny Thunders is Billy Halop - and they sing about Diana Dors. A 13 year old Manchester schoolboy could want for no more. "Trash" reminds me of "All Grown Up" by The Crystals, and of John Garfield's far-away gaze in the film 'Saturday's Children' (1940). It is a fantastic achievement for five boys who otherwise would have ended up in hotel catering, or amoungst the heroined dead. The New York Dolls were the world's most perfect pop group,but they were far too free, far too happy, far too un-hung up, and thus their end was foredoomed.
On the flipside of happy, the Nico net caught me early. Her voice equalled the sound of a body being thrown out of a window - entirely with out hope, of this world, or the next, or the previous. Onstage, she moved like a big bleak creaking house, never once altering the direction of her eyes. I am in love. Her harmonium heaves and swells like crashing waves answering each other. If Nico could've laughed, she would've. But she couldn't, so she didn't.
'meet me at the desertshore
where land and water meet....'
Of all of life's vanities, the singing voice reveals the most. Every day life is troubled by the inevitable advancing darkness, where our only certainties are pitiless decay and the final port of Death. Our days are stacked with pretended joys. But, so what. By 1974, the primary disrupter is an irascrible soul who hates the fluffy, and on her debut recording of "Hey Joe" Patti Smith sings : there's barbed wire between my legs, y'know....'
.....a line that would surely have thrown tammy Wynette some-what. But the Smith waif sings as firmly as her health allows, and in 1975, becomes a vital centre. "Hey Joe" is the inevital consequence of a teenager who has been buried alive, and we call back to those who reach out. Personal gratification isn't everything, after all. Patti Smith was, of course, punished for knowing too much, but she provided a world and a journey to those who cared to listen. Similary, Marc Bolan's woven words were deep rivers of verse which, if you understood them, you were in serious trouble. They gave nothing, except the basic fun of being pieced together. When Bolan is quizzed on television about his own lyrics, he doesn't know what to say. However Bo(b) (dy)lan remains - in my mind's ear - the sound of late 1960's Notting Hill bedsits, unsuitable daytime heat in busy London Parks, the future not yet behind us, and we are on our way. I see T. Rex live in 1972, and I meet the singer three years later, when I request the binding autograph, and although there is no one but he and I around for miles, the Stamford Hill boy declines the request. Just too much trouble. I am still amazed at the brevity of Marc Bolan's success, and at the speed of his decay, and by how people who knew him never seem to say anything nice about him. But, weren't we made to be this way?
'prance proudly in the garden villas with the sun'
Only a similar mental anquish could steer the songwriting pen of Ron Mael, who appears to play for marx-ist laughs, but whose lyrical take on sex cries out like prison cell carvings. In a glorious surge of deserved success in 1974, the very comprehensive lyric sheets accompanying Sparks albums prove that Ron Mael is clearly driven to tell, yet he answers the media by skillfil Quietism and by impersonating various walls. Ron Mael is an undoubted genius, and where else would a true genius live but in the catacombs of hell? Ron asks his younger brother Russell to sing the words - in chilling falsetto. Russell sings in what appear to be French italics, and has less facial hair that Josephine Baker. It is a scream, because the songs are screams.
I see seating for three cos of me
Are we all seated properly now?
We shall begin.....'
Who on earth would write a pop song in such a way? A song about an arts and crafts competition where 'lovely Claudine Jones/has to come to push her quilt', but where Tracy Wise gets a prize. There is no category for this madness - except the category of madness, and Sparks are only let down by their name. At 14, I want to live with these people, to be - at last! - in the company of creatures of my own species.
Gliding in without oars, Ludus belong to the sea. Linder comes into position wgains the light, at double-sail, holding her words prepared. The weight of despair lifts like a deceptive fog only because the voice sings. "Breaking The Rules" might appear to be a statement, but like all Ludus songs, it is really a question laid out like a statement. This is the delightfully recurring now-that-you've-got-me-where-I-want-you Linder trick. I want to be caught. Linder's tags of verse offer advice, strength, warmth, sustenance and inspiration, as she sings - not roughly, but firmly. I want to be caught twice. My mouth cannot close whilst "Breaking The Rules" plays, just as the imagination chatters convulsively through Nat Couty's "Woodpecker Rock", Charlie Feathers' "one Hand Loose", Jummy Radcliffe's "The Forgotten Man", and Jay Bee Wasden's "De Castro". Of these last four, I would not pretend to know any background details, but the happiness these songs give me seems, now, to be everlasting - even if this is music played with a lop-sided grim, then please hook me. Diana Dors, too, is warm to the skin. The voice teeters with a knowing smile, but the heart is on the gravel as she tells us so much more than what she literally says, a double-tier of sexual urgency.
In the real world of pop songs, genius drags the always reluctant world along. Awful to listen to on first play, the first Ramones album stays beside me almost 30 years on. A cruel £5.29 on import in 1976, this is an album of criminal ballads, and "Judy is a Punk" still sends a shock through the blood, complete with red-herring lyrical lift from "I'm Henry the Eighth I Am" ("second verse/it's the same as the first"). At Manchester's electric Circus to promote their debut album, the Ramones move across the stage like human remails floating ashore. Smallpox brought them together. Joes is whooping cough on two impossibly long legs. Someone who has been murdered in a hospital bed looks better than Joey.
The Ramones do nothing to conceal their disibilities, and once again I am in love.
'and oh I don't know why/oh I don't know why
perhaps they'll die? Oh yeah
perhaps they'll die? Oh yeah
And then, "third verse/it's different from the first" - I'm just glad they alerted us.
Will we ever get out of these pop swamps alive?
Will we ever get these songs out of our bloodstream?
Will we ever be allowed to forget?
Klaus Nomi's dismal dignaty placed him beyond the reach of crassly commercial success. His was a life quite apart from knife-plunging press reviews (as if any pop writer could ever possibly know).
Nomi sang like a man trapped in the body of a dead girl. "Death" is his dying speach, after which he was - quite literlly - led away to die, and early bull's eye for the AIDS machine-gun. The words have a dreadful ring because they came true, and so soon:
but ah, forget my fate'.
Klaus Nomi's name, and the names of the others on this CD, conjure an atmosphere and a special standard because they were (or are) true pop artists. The mere sound of their names is as powerful as their work, so that we only need to hear that name in order to glide into a half-dream state. It is the terrifying power of the true pop artist, who seems to finally come into full bloom only at the hour of Death (as if life is just not quite the point). Klaus Nomi, Nico, Johnny Thunders, Marc Bolan, Diana Dors, Joey Ramone, Charlie Feathers and maybe several other voices and players on this CD all now rest with the martyred dead.
Will I, too, die?