Bureau of Lost Culture
The Life and Times of a Foreign Correspondent

The Life and Times of a Foreign Correspondent

June 22, 2021
The Cold War is ending, the Soviet Empire is crumbling.
In Central Asia, new countries are being born - or built - in the ruins: Kazakstan, Krygystan, Tajakstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.
 
Allegiances and borders are shifting, overshadowed by the ghosts of ancient kingdoms. Exciting times. New histories in the making. And it all needs reporting.
 
Documentary maker MONICA WHITLOCK visits the Bureau to tell tales of her times as the Central Asian foreign correspondent for the BBC.
 
And what tales they are: lost treasure; Polish cemeteries in the Uzbek desert; tiny paintings on matchboxes smuggled from gulags; state murder and a last desperate dash across the runway, fleeing Tashkent after being accused of abetting terrorists. 
 
This episode features some of Monica's collection of field recordings.
 
For more on the Bureau of Lost Culture
www.bureauoflostculture.com 
 
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London’s Lost World of Yiddisher Jazz

London’s Lost World of Yiddisher Jazz

June 7, 2021
London’s East End and Soho were the centres of a unique musical culture in the years between the 20s and the 50s.
 
Award wining oral historian and radio producer ALAN DEIN returns to the Bureau to tell stories of songs that soundtracked that world and feature on ‘Music is the Most Beautiful Language in the World', the album of super rare tunes by London jewish jazz artists he has unearthed.
 
We hear tales of poverty and glamour, Soho gangsters, ghettos, vaudeville swing, comedy, cuisine and cabaret - and of some of the musicians who escaped the squalid streets of Whitechapel to become international stars. And we discuss what it means to be an oral historian, the power of story and how much radio still matters.

For more on Alan’s work

For the ‘Music is the Most Beautiful Language in the World’ album
For more on the Bureau of Lost Culture
www.bureauoflostculture.com 
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The UFO Club

The UFO Club

May 27, 2021

Journalist and counterculture commentator Peter Watts joins us to talk about The UFO Club, the massively influential short-lived London club of the late 1960s established by Joe Boyd and John "Hoppy” Hopkins.

It featured light shows, poetry readings, avant-garde art by Yoko Ono and many rock acts (Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Procul Harem) who later became massive.

For a brief two year period, it acted as the epicentre of the whirligig of summer of love underground London with a 'who's who of the counterculture' guest list and set the standards for psychedelic fashion and design.

For more on the Bureau of Lost Culture
www.bureauoflostculture.com

Peter’s blog on London and counterculture:

www.greatwen.com

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The English Underground with Nick Laird Clowes - Part 2

The English Underground with Nick Laird Clowes - Part 2

May 27, 2021

We return for Part 2 of a trip through the English Underground scene of the 1960s and 1970s led by musician and pied piper Nick Laird Clowes of The Dream Academy.

Nick tells of his extraordinary youth deeply immersed in the political, musical and alternative scenes of West London. We hear about meeting Iggy Pop in a toilet, Nick Drake's guitar, the demise of Syd Barrett and dinner with Andy Warhol amongst many other terrific tales of living the countercultural life.

For more on the Bureau of Lost Culture
www.bureauoflostculture.com

For more on Nick
www.nicklairdclowes.com

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The English Underground with Nick Laird Clowes - Part 1

The English Underground with Nick Laird Clowes - Part 1

May 27, 2021

We take a romp through the underground alternative and music scene of the 1960s in the first half of a two part episode. Our guide is musician and Nick Laird Clowes who regales us with stories of running away to the Isle of Wight festival, dj-ing at The Roundhouse, meeting John Lennon amongst many countercultural characters of the day and much, much more.

All this before an age when most of us had even smoked a cigarette - and all before his days of pop stardom with The Dream Academy.

For more on the Bureau of Lost Culture
www.bureauoflostculture.com

For more on Nick
https://www.nicklairdclowes.com

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Tales from The Flamingo Club

Tales from The Flamingo Club

May 27, 2021
Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday Dizzy Gillespie, Rod Stewart, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Eric Clapton, the Moody Blues, Mick Fleetwood, Pink Floyd, Georgie Fame, Ginger Baker, Long John Baldry, the Small Faces … the roll call of those who played in the Soho basement called The Flamingo is a who's who of 50s and 60s cool. 
 
Journalist and author Pete Watts takes us on a trip through time and down the stairs of 33 Wardour Street to hear stories of one of London's most important lost and legendary venues.
 
We hear how the Flamingo was hugely influential on up and coming musical stars of the 60s like Pete Townsend and The Rolling Stones, how it played an influential roll in the history of black music in the city and how you can perhaps still catch its spirit in the gents’ loos of the Irish theme pub that now occupies the site..
 
For more on Pete Watts:
 
For more on the Bureau of Lost Culture
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Comics, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll

Comics, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll

May 23, 2021

He has published Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Robert Crumb, J G BallardHunt Emerson, Eddie Campbell, Brian Bolland, Dave McKean, Martin Rowson and Melinda Gebbie amongst others. 

His publishing house Knockabout Comics has put out books on marijuana, magic mushrooms and many other aspects of alternative living from West Wales to Ladbroke Grove. And he's fought the law (though the law has frequently won).

With special guest DJ Food / Kev Foakes, we flick through the pages of the countercultural life of Tony Bennett hearing tales from the wild world of underground publishing, radical bookshops, obscenity trials, censorship, customs busts - and, of course  a crazy cornucopia of comics, including Gilbert Shelton’s hippy-slacker masterwork The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.

For more on Tony and Knockabout Comics
https://www.knockaboutcomics.com

For more on DJ Food
https://www.djfood.org

For more on the Bureau of Lost Culture
www.bureauoflostculture.com

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Blinded by The Light - A Countercultural History of Spectacles

Blinded by The Light - A Countercultural History of Spectacles

May 11, 2021
What do Morrissey, Dorothy Parker, Le Corbusier, Harold Lloyd, Janis Joplin, Andy Warhol, Alan Ginsberg, Michael Caine, Gloria Steinem, Buddy Holly, John Lennon, Jarvis Cocker have in common?
 
Like around 65% of the British population they needed some sort of vision correction - aka glasses.
 
Writer and cultural commentator  Travis Elborough returns to the Bureau to talk about his forthcoming book: 'Through the Looking Glasses: The Spectacular Life of Spectacles’ (Little Brown).
 
We take a long look at the wonderful and wonky world of glasses from the Middle Ages to the present - along with a cast of spec. wearing monks, artisans, foppish dandies, wonks, nerds, bohemians, bands, spies and film stars as we examine the story of eyewear through the lens of the counterculture. 
 
For more on Travis and his work
 
For more on Bureau of Lost Culture
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How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin

How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin

April 25, 2021
Cold War Spy meets The Fab Four in the USSR
 
When Leslie Woodhead was asked by Granada TV to film a new young music group in a club in Liverpool in 1962, he had no idea what he was in for - and neither had the rest of the world. He was witnessing the birth of a phenomenon that was about to have a huge impact on both the culture and the counterculture. But by then he had already had another extraordinary experience - serving a stint as a cold war spy, learning Russian on a remote Scottish pig farm and spending time eavesdropping on Soviet pilots from West Berlin.
 
These experiences continued to influence his life as a multi-award winning film maker, finally coalescing in his documentary ‘How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin’.
 
In this episode, we trace the almost unbelievable transformational effect the Fab Four had on young Russians in the 60s and 70s - an effect that many believed was more significant than all the cold war western propaganda and the threat of nuclear attack combined, in helping to bring about perestroika and the fall of the Soviet empire. 
 
For more on Leslie and his work
 
For more on Bureau of Lost Culture
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NICO - You are Beautiful and You are Alone

NICO - You are Beautiful and You are Alone

April 12, 2021
She was a singer, songwriter, musician, muse, model, actress and artist. She had roles in several films, including Fellini's La Dolce Vita and Andy Warhol's Chelsea Girls, fronted The Velvet Underground, made many albums solo and toured for over two decades. She inspired many other artists including Bjork, Siousxie, Iggy Pop and Morrissey. Yet NICO’s life has often been reduced to a series of myths about junkiedom, decay, difficult behaviour and wasted talent.

 
Rock ’n’ Roll historian Jennifer Otter Bickerdike comes to the Bureau to set matters straight and talk about her upcoming book 'You Are Beautiful and You Are Alone: The Biography of Nico’(Faber).  We dig into fandom, fables and why female musicians, junkies and artists in the counterculture have been treated differently, even mythologised differently, than their male counterparts; and why Iggy Pop is still so cool and why Nico still matters.
 
For more on Jen and the book
 
For more on Bureau of Lost Culture
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Skinhead: The Counter-Counterculture

Skinhead: The Counter-Counterculture

April 1, 2021
Beatniks, Bootboys, Black GIs; Suedehead, Ska, Subculture; Rude Boys, Reggae, Racism; Football Hooliganism and Fashion. 
 
Artist, film maker, writer and activist STEWART HOME comes into the Bureau to talk about Skinhead, an enduring subculture that generally gets left out of the countercultural history.
 
We also dip into overlapping areas of mod, punk, politics, northern soul, two tone - and doctor marten boots - as we explore the complex contradictions, roots and evolution of Skin style.
 
For more on Stewart Home and his work
 
For more on Bureau of Lost Culture
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Memories of a Free Festival

Memories of a Free Festival

February 28, 2021
"The Sun Machine is Coming Down and We’re Gonna Have a Party"
 
CHRIS TOFU artistic director of Continental Drifts, lies down on the Bureau’s couch for a session of psycho(delic)analysis. We take a rambling trip through the British free festival scene of the 70s, 80s and 90s  - with deviations into the lost worlds of Europe’s squatting scene, the new age travellers and guerilla gigs. And we hear about Chris’s crazy countercultural life getting lost at Stonehenge as a wide-eyed 15 year old from Devon, being 'Bez’ in anarcho-punk-celtic-squattng band Tofu Love Frogs and gigging in a thousand fields along the way.
 
For more on Chris 
 
For more on Continental Drifts
 
For more on Bureau of Lost Culture
 
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Image Courtesy of Alan Lodge https://alanlodge.co.uk  
The Legend, Legacy and Lyrics of Syd Barrett

The Legend, Legacy and Lyrics of Syd Barrett

February 15, 2021
The story of SYD BARRETT, the doomed original founder of Pink Floyd has fascinated, obsessed and mystified generations of fans for decades.
 
The tragic trajectory of the psychedelic poster boy who had it all and ’lost it’ has all the hallmarks of an icarus myth. Yet, as our guest writer ROB CHAPMAN tells us, the myth has totally eclipsed the man, the legend obscured the legacy.  Rob's 2010 biography ‘A Very Irregular Head’ - the first to be authorised by Syd's family - set out to right the balance, to tell the human truths about a tragic but talented artist.
 
Rob joins us to talk about the new book he has edited: ‘The Lyrics of Syd Barrett’ (Omnibus Press) that gives a wonderful insight into the mind and art of someone who was yes, a crazy diamond but also a countercultural experimenter, an innovator and a psychedelic poet.
 
Along the way we did into the meaning of counterculture and fandom and hear about a newly resurrected poem of Syd's
 
For more on Rob Chapman
 
For the official Syd Barrett site
 
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The Lost History of Skiffle - with Billy Bragg

The Lost History of Skiffle - with Billy Bragg

February 2, 2021
BILLY BRAGG pays a visit to the Bureau to lead us on an extraordinary whirlwind tour through the music that the counterculture forgot.
 
Along the way we hear about the emergence of The Teenager in post-war Britain, the massive impact of Rock Around the Clock, the Soho espresso bar culture of the 50s and the birth of British youth culture.
 
We explore why Skiffle, which soundtracked that youth culture for a few intense years and was the inspiration for musicians in The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who and The Rolling Stones, has been oddly forgotten.  And Billy explains why, as the first British DIY musical revolution, Skiffle provided the template for the Punk movement of the 70s that was to inspire him.
 
Along the way, we get educated about the post war 'trad jazz' movement, the cultural stranglehold of the BBC - and the terrific transformatory power of a guy - or a girl - with a guitar.
 
For more on Billy and his book Roots, Radicals and Rockers:
 
Billy's Top Five Skiffle Tunes
 
For more on the Bureau of Lost Culture
 
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Soviet Hippies

Soviet Hippies

February 1, 2021

Forget California, swinging sixties London or the Paris riots for a moment, Estonian filmmaker Terje Toomistu joins us to talk about the hippie movement of the Soviet Union.

It had all the characteristics of Western hippiedom: long hair, groovy music, esoteric spirituality and drugs. The only thing missing perhaps was the radical public politics that would have pushed the repressive Soviet authorities into drastic, brutal  action  

Terji’s film, with its super groovy soundtrack of rare tunes, provides a fascinating glimpse into a moving, daring subculture that flourished east of the Iron Curtain. 

More about the Soviet Hippies film and Terje www.soviethippies.com

For more on the Bureau of Lost Culture:

www.bureauoflostculture.com

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The Roxy Club -100 Nights of Punk Madness

The Roxy Club -100 Nights of Punk Madness

January 17, 2021
45 years ago, two working class South Londoners took over a decrepit seedy gay bar in Neal Street, then a rather desolate and deserted part of central London. At a time when the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy in the UK antics had resulted in a virtual blanket ban on venues hosting anything associated with the word ’Punk’, they provided a home for an astonishing array of bands including The Clash, The Police, The Jam, Wire, XTC, The Damned, Generation X, The Stranglers, Siouxie and the Banshees and many, many more. Their tenure lasted for just 100 intense, crazed nights before they were kicked out, but The Roxy became a punk legend.
 
Susan Carrington and Andrew Czezowski enter the Bureau to talk about their life in music, clubs and the counterculture - from meeting at a mod night at the Locarno Ballroom in Streatham in the 60s to opening The Fridge, one the of the longest running and most influential clubs of the 80s, 90s and 00s. We will return to the latter in a future episode, but today we hear their tales of The Roxy, of managing The Damned and Generation X and of the DIY can-do punk spirit that has infused all their adventures in the underground.
 
For more on Susan and Andrew and their book about The Roxy check out  www.roxyclub.co.uk 
 
For more on the Bureau of Lost Culture
 
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Days of the Underground: The Life and Times of Hawkwind

Days of the Underground: The Life and Times of Hawkwind

January 3, 2021
Hawkwind: Never in fashion but never out of it, piratical pagan proto-punks, avatars of the underground, figureheads of the free festival scene, innovative heralds of the rave generation, cosmic space rockers with street fighter spirit  - there is no one like them.
 
We meet with Joe Banks author of “Hawkwind: Days Of The Underground – Radical Escapism In The Age Of Paranoia” (Strange Attractor Press) to explore the story of a much loved band that have gradually come to win the respect of many of the most cynical of critics - perhaps partly just by virtue of still being around, but mainly by sticking to their fiercely independent, idiosyncratc, anti-corporate, psychedelic ethos.
 
And we return to the West London musical, social melting pot we have previously explored with Nick Laird Clowes to uncover the fertile countercultural ground that gave birth to Hawkwind and in which they played such an important role.
 
For more on Joe Banks
 
For more on the Bureau of Lost Culture
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The British Folk Underground - with Stephen Duffy

The British Folk Underground - with Stephen Duffy

December 21, 2020
Various musicians have started out in the underground and left it behind for commercial mainstream success. Few have deliberately taken the opposite route back into the counterculture - and rarely as repeatedly as our guest Stephen Duffy.
 
Stephen formed, and left, Duran Duran, had chart success in both the 80s and the 90s as a solo artist and then again in the 00s as songwriter / producer for Robbie Williams - with whom he toured the enormodromes of the world. But each time, he turned around and returned to the folk underground roots of his early inspirations with his band The Lilac Time.
 
We take a gentle personal trip through the counterculture soundtracked by some of those inspirations. And we hear how the folk underground  - and The Lilac Time - have quietly kept going whilst musical genres have come and gone. And we wonder if the counterculture is still alive and twitching, or if it was killed in the 80s .. by Gary Numan..
 
For more on Stephen and The Lilac Time including their recent and upcoming releases
 
 
For more on the Bureau of Lost Culture
 
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Which One’s Pink? Managing the Counterculture

Which One’s Pink? Managing the Counterculture

December 1, 2020
One afternoon in the mid 1960s, Pete Jenner left off marking exam papers at the London School of Economics and popped into the Marquee club. There was a band playing, They changed his life - and he changed theirs. 
 
Pete enters the Bureau of Lost Culture to tell us about discovering The Pink Floyd, the band he and Andrew King guided from darlings of the underground to early commercial success.  
 
But that was just the beginning. We hear about Pete' early life as the son of a radical vicar and how politics and music blended in his involvement in the early days of the West London Underground scene: The London Free School, The Tabernacle, The UFO club and the start of the Hyde Park festivals.
 
We learn about the tragic disintegration of Syd Barrett who Pete and Andrew King chose to back whilst Pink Floyd went onto to global stardom, and we learn something about the ins and outs of a life spent in music, fostering the careers of Marc Bolan, Roy Harper, Ian Drury, The Clash and Billy Bragg amongst many others..
 
For more on the Bureau of Lost Culture
 
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Rebel Threads: Dressing the Counterculture

Rebel Threads: Dressing the Counterculture

November 17, 2020
ROGER BURTON started out working on a farm and ended up running a Horse Hospital. No, he’s not a vet but has spent most of his life clothing, collecting and curating the counterculture.  Along the way, he has designed shops for Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, provided the clothes for Quadrophenia, and Absolute Beginners, dressed the New Romantics, styled 100s of pop videos and given a leg up to many fringe artists (inc. me).
 
We dig deep into Rebel Threads, his amazing book and collection of youth culture clothing from the 1920s - 1980s, hear about the birth of Mod, selling gear to the Kings Road boutiques of the 60s and 70s and how the actual 18th century Horse Hospital he runs has provided a venue for 27 years worth of unparalleled radical, fringe gigs, film, exhibitions and happenings in central London. And how, despite wide support across both the mainstream culture and the counterculture, it is facing closure due to the usual sad London story of property developer greed.)
 
For more on Roger, Rebel Threads and The Horse Hospital
 
For more on the Bureau of Lost Culture
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