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Cut Da F*ck Up!


Chatting to Craig Leckie about some of our usual pop culture common ground when 'Steinski' cropped up again with Craig recommending his themed radio shows airing on WFMU which I'm excited about checking later.
(Love Steinki's note:
"If you have comments or questions about the show, e-mail me at; it's pre-recorded, and if you call the station you'll just piss off someone who's reading the paper or making phone calls while my show streams."

Anyway, conversation switched to 'visual cut-ups' with Craig mentioning this Conan O Brien/William Shatner mash-up. OK, not bad however time and time again when audio meets video crops up in conversation, I have to constantly go old skool and reference "EBN" (Emergency Broadcast Network) who in my humble opinion have NEVER EVER been bettered mainly because if you're such an early pop-culture pioneer, that's damn good enough, you were simply 'there' first.


Grandmaster Flash is remembered (probably from BBC's way-back-when 'Arena' doc. on hip-hop) for cutting up the "Apache" break-(beat) on 2 turntables so dextrously because he was seen doing this by the masses years before DMC champions like DJ Noise, Q-Bert or Roc Raida etc. showed off their serious levels of 'Turntablism'. Like The Beatles as a pop phenomenon or Neil Armstrong with his walking on the moon; they both made heavy impact on global culture first and foremost.

Anyway back to EBN (fronted by Josh Pearson) who were doing heavy, WAY ahead of their time 'video mash-ups' over FIFTEEN YEARS AGO!!! Just watch clips like "Electronic Behaviour Control System" with its multi-layered genius, from the painstaking assembly of reference material to the slicky syncopated rhythms that are so damn hip unlike many other efforts which can grate the ears by lazy loops.

EBN designed a major part of the "Zooropa" visuals for example, U2 (with then) President Bush lip-syncing Queen's "We Will Rock You" amongst other mind-blowing mash-ups. Other clips worthy of the shout: "3:7:8" "Watch Television" and "Get Down" - a superb-splice-fest of a Mariah Carey micro-shriek married with Harrison Ford repeatedly shouting "Get Down!" from 'Patriot Games' and much more!!


EBN produced an astonishing video remix for U2's "Numb", with its Public Enemy punctuation, African tribesman yelps & military solider shouts for vocal effect and machinery/pressing plants literally as the industrial beats.


EBN were unfortunately too damn cult for their own good. This came to me again when I recently saw "Die Hard 4.0", an enjoyable sequel paying homage to 'Die Hard' whose brilliant blueprint revamped the 'action movie'. Who could ever beat baddie 'Hans Gruber', anyway I digress.

I recalled EBN in "Die Hard 4.0" because the movie contains this slick sequence where the bad hackers show off their techno-prowess by airing an 'Emergency Broadcast', made up of famous US Presidents and snippets of their speeches.


Nixon's cut-ups in "4.0" reminded me of the equally ahead of its time pop video for Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Two Tribes (12" Destructo Version)" where Nixon stutters "Keep the peace" in surreal fashion and aged around 12 at the time, I couldn't even stutter, I was speechless. Godley & Creme who were responsible for that promo (could be considered a pre-cursor to EBN) thought along similar lines to EBN in terms of experimentalism so no surprise that they both ended up working together visually for U2's "Zooropa" epic.

I'm often asked what my best MTV 'Party Zone' moment was in terms of show(s) produced. It would probably have to be the 2-hour special I filmed with EBN in Rotterdam for the film festival when they played live around 1996. We shot the interview then I gave them the rushes to play around with and what I got back was their typical TV genius. They messed around with the media we know, love and trust, flipping it with their cheeky social comments thru tight audio-visual.


The 2-hour special aired across Europe around the time of the UK's Dunblane massacre and I remember getting one of the largest audience ratings and active reponses ever to a show people on both extremes praising it for its incredible insanity and complaining too about insensitive imagery (I think specifically this was referring to "Get Down" which includes Budd Dwyer in an infamous clip showing his suicide with a gun in his mouth, after calling a press conference relating to fraud charges in his role as state treasurer.

About 2 years ago, I drafted a rough essay on 'Scratch Video', heaping praise on EBN like I should though to be fair they had some tough competition from the likes of L.P.C. (a.k.a. Lucky People Center) from Sweden whose 1992 political promo for "Rodney King" was staggering, particularly how it turned Rodney's press statement into a slab of fierce funk.

Don't get me wrong, I don't stay stuck in the past, I'm ready to big up the right new pioneers and innovators, in fact, almost full circle this came through today from 'The Onion'. In similar media-parody style to EBN, it's genius!!

Posted on July 27, 2007 at 11:29 PM

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