Detroit’s Iconic “White Panther” introduces himself as
“a beatnik, dope fiend, poet provocateur, race traitor and renegade. Living from hand to mouth and euro to euro, sleeping on the couches and extra beds of my friends. A man without a country and a post office box in New Orleans for a permanent address.”
Reciting his beat poetry in a sub-baritone growl, John waxes lyrical about John Lennon, Thelonious Monk, Kerouac, Ginsberg and Burroughs, and issues a libertarian’s charter on “Ain’t Nobody’s Business.”
A beautiful two disc CD containing 13 songs produced by Youth, who plays bass in Killing Joke and has worked with artists like The Orb, The Verve, U2, Pink Floyd, and Crowded House. Beatnik Youth ranges from raucous rock ‘n’ roll to psychedelic jazz and abstract soundscapes. Throughout, Sinclair’s voice functions as an anchor, taking on an American social landscape bursting with civil unrest and self-reinvention as Youth’s modernist production swirls around him
Immortalized by John Lennon’s 1972 song that bears his name, Sinclair is an iconic figure of ‘60s counterculture, famous for, among other things, having co-founded the White Panther Party and for managing Detroit’s legendary leftist proto-punk outfit MC5.
Released 2018 by Iron Man Records.
Catalogue Number: IMB6032
Release date: 16/03/2018
Label: Iron Man Records
Good Stuff (4.32)
Everybody Needs Somebody (7.09)
Change My Life (5.14)
Ain’t Nobody’s Business (3.36)
My Buddy (5.13)
That Old Man (3.53)
Brilliant Corners (11.29)
Culture Cide (11.38)
Red Dress (Ruby My Dear) (6.25)
Do It (6.16)
War On Drugs (6.18)
John Sinclair, the renegade poet, scholar and cultural revolutionary releases “Beatnik Youth” on Iron Man Records. The double CD contains over 80 minutes of music from the restless creative mind of Youth, with some fine spoken word and poetry delivered by John Sinclair.
John, has been described as an Archetype of the 1960’s art, music and literary synthesis, and who today continues his work for cultural transformation.
Youth is one of the UK’s most influential producers and has been honoured, with an Outstanding Contribution Award by the Music Producers Guild. His career spans more than 30 years and is one of the UK’s most consistent, credible and influential producers.
From Detroit to New Orleans and from Los Angeles to Amsterdam, John Sinclair is still the king-size, psychedelic old-gangster poet, a living legend, a veteran of the counterculture, a survivor of the Marijuana Wars, and one of the last bohemians still standing. As a co-founder of the Detroit underground newspaper The Fifth Estate, manager of MC5, and Chairman of the White Panther Party described on Wikipedia in these modern times as a far-left, anti-racist, white American political collective founded in 1968 and dedicated to cultural revolution his mark on the boho rock & roll underground has been unique.
In 1969, with Richard Nixon in the White House, Vietnam in chaos in the wake of the Viet Congs near-suicidal Tet Offensive, and American cities still scared and scarred from urban riots, even the comparatively harmless agitprop pranks of White Panther cultural revolution had those in power reaching for their metaphoric and sometimes actual revolvers. Authorities remembered how John had organized the MC5 playing outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, the only band actually able to perform before Mayor Daley’s rabid police department violently derailed the massive anti-Vietnam war rally with teargas, billy clubs, and helicopter support.
John was deemed a danger to society and set up like a bowling pin. After handing a couple of joints to a hassling hippie who turned out to be an undercover narcotics agent, John found himself on the bad end of a ten year jail term. At the same time though he became a cause celebre. Free John Sinclair became one more battle cry in an embattled era. Protests, propaganda, and a giant concert in Ann Arbor headlined by John Lennon and Yoko Ono ultimately resulted in John’s release in November 1971. Lennon even wrote a song about him called ‘John Sinclair’ which he included on his ‘Sometime In New York City’ album.
In common with much that happens with John, a meeting with producer Youth (Paul McCartneys ‘Fireman’, Primal Scream, The Verve etc & Killing Joke bass player) that sowed the creative seeds was a matter of stoned synchronicity. As former Track Records boss Ian Grant tells it, Alan Clayton told me he had John Sinclair coming round tomorrow. I said “The John Sinclair?” One night Zodiac (Mindwarp) was on the bill with the Dirty Strangers and Youth was very taken with John. “I want to make a jazz album with John” he said. Since then, the two met at Youths house whenever he was home, and when John was in the country, and recorded the album.
And through the course of those recordings John, always so associated with the 1960s, took a serious step into the ways of the 21st century, with the same intoned poetry, but with melodic backing vocals, highly inventive production, even a nod to hip-hop, but still remembering his first loves of blues, be-bop, and classic rock & roll.
Beatnik Youth is one more step in the Big Chief’s long zig-zag trip that seems set to continue all the way to the far blue horizon. Summing up John Sinclair, you can only say with certainty that the beatnik goes on.