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New York's Musical History Project

by Bob Coyne Rating: Release Date:

Renowned journalist Kris Needs embarks on mammoth project documenting the history of New York's Musical History from 1945 through to 2000s...Watch the Closing Doors!

Watch the Closing Doors: A History of New York's Musical Melting Pot is a six volume, double CD series by renowned journalist and author Kris Needs. This ambitious project is released throughout 2011 via Year Zero (www.watchtheclosingdoors-ny.com) and it aims to capture the fast-vanishing magic of New York City while documenting major musical landmarks and developments, decade-by-decade from post-war New York of the mid 1940s through to 2000s.

The first volume focuses on the 1940s and 50s is released on May 10. It sets the scene for a further five sets, straddling the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s, each accompanied by a book containing the relevant musical and social history, artist biographies, illustrations and Needs' own stories and recollections of the city that once never slept. For some local perspective and occasional advice on inclusions, Needs is pestering names he has encountered during his 35 years as a writer, starting with Suicide's Martin Rev.

Since time immemorial, those who visit New York for the first time have come back reporting epiphanies, whether that first senses-blasting glimpse of the skyline from a yellow cab, or the unique energy coursing through the teaming streets and whichever gigs and clubs selected from the multiple choices available every night of the week. This century has seen those feelings increasingly tempered with a realisation that the funky New York of legend and infamy is vanishing as Times Square turns into Disneyland and once no-go Lower East Side streets become safe to navigate through the next trendy bar or café. The Downtown spirit which fired up so much great music has been smothered by sky-high rents, Mayor Giuliani's 'zero tolerance' crime blitz and the closing of long-running venues such as CBGBs. August Darnell, one of New York's most celebrated exports in his Kid Creole persona, says he cries when he goes back to the city where he grew up: "New York has changed so drastically. The thing that bothers me most is the melting pot aspect is gone. Manhattan has become an island for the very wealthy."

One of the aims of the series is to document and celebrate this lost world before it totally disappears, give it some unity and due respect, while striving to explain why the New York of the last half of the 20th century was the most exciting place on Earth. The buildings and individuals might be disappearing, but that indefinable spirit which affected so many has thankfully been captured for posterity on countless records, standing like snapshots of a bygone age, the tip of a mighty iceberg which will be gathered on these albums like an old photo album.

Like the subway system is the lifeblood artery of the city, the series will pinball through neighbourhoods and boroughs, musical trends and styles, accompanied by a bit of local background to conjure something of a backdrop as, quite often, the music was born out of the environment, whether positive or negative. There will also be the odd incident which may prompt the age-old sigh, "Only in New York".

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