JOHN SINCLAIR - BEATNIK YOUTH
Looking for the perfect beat
While many know John Sinclair as the White Panther firebrand who stoked the MC5’s insurrectionary manifesto, or drug bust victim released after John Lennon’s high-profile intercession, his roots stretch back to jazz and the beats, as writer, avant-garde champion and poet. Sinclair’s large legend allows him to travel the world, collaborating with like-minded souls; a living embodiment of the original free spirit that fought to emancipate a generation, one of the few left still flying the freak flag as high as he can hoist it.
Since the early 90s, Sinclair has released albums of his poetry, but Beatnik Youth is the high-profile statement he’s been meant to make all his life. This poorly served generation needs it: that militant energy which released the bats in the 60s is crucially booted into the 21st Century in a riotous celebration of personal freedom, cultural trailblazers and, frankly, marijuana.
Sinclair’s core cohorts are producer-bassist Youth and The Dirty Strangers’ singer-guitarist Alan Clayton (plus engineer-keyboardist Michael Rendall). Different tracks also feature Howard Marks, Zodiac Mindwarp, Mark Stewart, Primal Scream, singer Angie Brown and one Beef Pilchards. Between insidious soul choruses over diverse backdrops, Sinclair barks, growls, rails, coos and guffaws with a roaring animated passion undimmed by his 70-plus years. Moods straddle the smokily atmospheric (Testify, Sitartha), balls-out rockers (Ain’t Nobody’s Business, 1965-composed doper anthem Good Stuff) or free-form cinematic (Brilliant Corners homaging Kerouac, Ginsberg and Burroughs). Everybody Needs Somebody’s motorik carries Sinclair’s infamous (Thelonious) Monk In Orbit poem, while the Primals-driven Culture-Cide (hijacked from Youth’s recent Mark Stewart sessions) becomes a weed-for-all riot with Howard Marks gleefully piling in. That Old Man is a spirits-lifting reflection on growing old disgracefully, concluding that this old man is “still alive and kicking”. A rare delight all round.