Bureau of Lost Culture
William Burroughs and Friends

William Burroughs and Friends

August 29, 2021
The ghosts of William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsberg, John Giorno and Bob Cobbing make an appearance at the Bureau - as curator Steve Cleary plays us a  selection of super rare  recordings from the British Library Sound Archive.
 
The Archive is one of the biggest curated resources of audio in the world and includes over 1 million discs, 185,000 tapes, and many other sound and video recordings from around the globe  Steve takes us on a wander through its unparalleled counterculture collection.
 
We also hear from the capital's foremost chronicler of the counterculture, Barry Miles, on Burroughs' life in London  - along with a live recording of the beat writer at Manchester's Hacienda, a sampling of his cutups, some deeply strange sound poems and a wonderful recording of Kerouac jazz scatting at Neal Cassidy’s house.
 
For more on the British Library Sound Archive
 
The Bureau of Lost Culture is dedicated to collecting and recollecting lost, half-forgotten or just rare stories, oral testimonies and sounds.
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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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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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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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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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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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Days in the Life: The Language of Counterculture

Days in the Life: The Language of Counterculture

November 1, 2020
Chick.Trip.Dope, Pad. Heavy. Cool. Scene. Man. Beat. Freak. Weed. Bang. Square. Blast. Cat. Gas!
 
In an action packed episode, we spend a Soho afternoon with 'Mr Slang’ Jonathon Green discussing his amazing life in the counterculture, writing for Rolling Stone and the underground magazines including IT, OZ and Friends. 
 
Then we dig deep into his ground breaking catalogue of the counterculture: ‘Days in the Life: Voices from the English Underground' with its interviews of over a hundred figures involved in the counterculture including Paul McCartney, Barry Miles and Jenny Fabian.
 
And, as Jonathon is our foremost lexicographer of slang, he takes us on wander into the weird and wonderful world of countercultural language, exploring where all those hippie and beatnik words came from and discovering why ‘Fuck' is not in fact a swear word.
 
For more on Jonathon’s books
 
For more on Jonathon’s Slang Dictionaries
 
For more on the Bureau of Lost Culture
 
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The Mysteries of T. C. Lethbridge

The Mysteries of T. C. Lethbridge

October 13, 2020
One our foremost living writers on the esoteric, Gary Lachman, enters the Bureau purportedly to talk about one of our most important, if rather forgotten, dead  writers on the esoteric, T C Lethbridge.
 
We do get around to exploring Lethbridges's various incarnations as a rogue psychic archaeologist, dowser and parapsychologist but only after some serious digressions into Gary’s various incarnations including his time playing bass for Blondie in mid 70s New York.  We hear how he was escorted out of David Bowie’s loft apartment by two glamorous bodyguards after a disagreement over Lethbridge, delve into the meaning of ‘Counterculture’ and dip into the subject of precognitive dreaming before finishing up with a story about a hedgehog.
 
In other words, there’s something for everyone..
 
For more on Gary Lachman and his work
 
For more on the Bureau of Lost Culture
 
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The Man Who Turned On the World - Hollingshead Pt.1

The Man Who Turned On the World - Hollingshead Pt.1

September 16, 2020
In the first of an occasional series of broadcasts around the subject of LSD, psychedelic historian Andy Roberts takes us on the first part of a trip through the extraordinary life and times of Michael Hollingshead.
 
Hollingshead's assertion that he ‘turned on the world’ may be wildly immodest, but he did introduce Timothy Leary (and many others) to acid and thus played an essential role in the evolution of the counterculture in the USA and the UK.
 
He remains relatively forgotten - and his home town of Darlington does not figure in the topography of Acid culture - despite his tremendous consciousness changing exploits.
 
But he was no saint. Andy, whose book Divine Rascal is the first biography of Hollingshead, charts the idiosyncracies and rise and fall of a man variously described as a Zelig, holy fool, trickster, black magician, sociopath, charlatan, genius, fabulist, junkie, alcoholic, secret agent, police informer, disruptor and sex mad preacher of Love who didn't actually understand love.
 
To be continued.
 
For more on Andy and ‘Divine Rascal'
 
For more on the Bureau of Lost Culture
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Barney Bubbles: Designing the Counterculture

Barney Bubbles: Designing the Counterculture

September 16, 2020
Writer and cultural commentator Paul Gorman takes us on an exploration of the countercultural designer Barney Bubbles. It is an extraordinary story, magic and tragic by turn.
 
Bubbles, who, despite his effervescent alias, was so modest that he declined to have his name included on the many extraordinary album covers he designed, has rather faded from public awareness since his untimely suicide. But he remains much admired by lovers of album cover art and has influenced a growing coterie of graphic designers. 
 
Paul, who has championed him with a biography and three exhibitions, traces his life and work from the hard boiled world of advertising and commercial graphics in the 60s, through the psychedelic West London underground scene of the early 70s, to the post punk era of Stiff Records and beyond. Along the way we hear of some of the outpourings of the cornucopia that was Bubbles’ mind, including the designs of Frendz magazine, the Hawkwind Tarot, The Specials' Ghost Town video - and those album covers..
 
And we hear about Paul’s own journey and, as usual, speculate on the nature of this creature called ‘counterculture’.
 
For more on Paul Gorman
 
For more on the Bureau of Lost Culture
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Arthur Machen and The London Labyrinth

Arthur Machen and The London Labyrinth

September 16, 2020
Enter the labyrinth. Perambulator and psycho-geographer Robert Kingham leads us down the twisting, turning tunnels and lost highways of the London labyrinth to meet author, mystic and cockney visionary Arthur Machen.
 
We explore Machen’s odd life and books - and some  strange parts of the city - as we uncover the ways he was to influence the folk horror movement and countercultural cult authors H P Lovecraft and Alan Moore.
 
We ask:
Was Machen the first London psycho-geographer?
Did he really take a packet of currant biscuits with him on his epic perambulations through the sleeping city?
Where is the labyrinth?  
 
For more on Robert and Minimum Labyrinth
 
For more on the Bureau of Lost Culture
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The History of the Self - Made Record

The History of the Self - Made Record

September 14, 2020

We are joined by oral historian and broadcaster Alan Dein.

We discuss the history, culture and technology of the coin-operated machines that allowed ordinary people to make a record of themselves in the West (and, in adapted bootlegged form, to create records of forbidden music in the Soviet Union) long before the advent of tape or digital recording.

We hear a selection of extraordinary recordings of strange, moving voices from Alan’s collection and learn how the records were used to send messages home from the war, record visits to tourist destinations or to capture the sounds of loved ones in a way that had never been possible before.

For More on X-Ray Audio

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