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Who Is Harry Nilsson… (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?)

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A conversation with director John Scheinfeld about his superb documentary, Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?).

If you’re under 45-years of age, you might have little idea of who the great singer/songwriter/hellraiser Harry Nilsson was, but surely almost everyone has heard his biggest hits “Everybody’s Talkin’” (from the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack), “Without You” (a Badfinger cover given its devastating emotional impact by Harry’s plaintiff three octave vocal range, later recorded by Mariah Carey) and “Coconut” which was used in dozens of movies (normally during a drinking scene) and in more than one 7UP advertising campaign.

Harry Nilsson was also responsible for co-creating the much-loved children’s TV movie, The Point, a Ringo Starr-narrated fable about a boy named Oblio, born with a round head in a land of pointy-headed people. (”Me and My Arrow” and “Are You Sleeping” are two of the best remembered songs from the project. Scratch someone in their 40s and trust me, they’ll be able to sing both from childhood memories of The Point)

Another important thing to know about Harry Nilsson is that he was the favorite American musician of both John Lennon and Paul McCartney, no small achievement, that! After Apple Corps press officer Derek Taylor heard Nilsson’s autobiographical “1941” (from his 1967 RCA debut Pandemonium Shadow Show) siting in the car waiting for his wife, he bought a box of the album and gave it away as presents, including to all four Beatles. The story goes that Lennon listened to the album for 36 straight hours before calling Nilsson in Los Angeles and telling him how much he loved his record. McCartney did the same soon after. Nilsson became a part of the Beatles inner circle, becoming close friends with both John (who would produce his 1974 Pussy Cats album) and Ringo (who was the best man at Nilsson’s second wedding).

Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?) features stellar interviewees such as Brian Wilson, Jimmy Webb, Van Dyke Parks, Yoko Ono, Paul Williams, Mickey Dolenz, Ringo Starr, The Smothers Brothers, and Pythons Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Frank Zappa performing at The Mudd Club in 1980
08.22.2010
02:50 pm

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
Frank Zappa
Mudd Club

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The Mudd Club (did I fuck anybody in this picture?)
 
Frank Zappa performing at New York City’s Mudd Club in May of 1980. From the German documentary Ein Leben als Extravaganza - Das Genie Frank Zappa.

This clip includes a brief interview with Mudd Club owner Steve Maas.

The video quality ain’t great, but it’s rare and and I know of no better quality copies anywhere.

I basically stopped listening to Zappa after the first couple of Mothers albums. But, as someone who spent many nights at The Mudd Club, I consider this a worthy contribution to the history of New York’s downtown music scene.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
OMG! Meet Rick Roll!?
08.22.2010
11:40 am

Topics:
Amusing

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Rick Roll

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When unfortunate names happen to good people. Rick Roll’s been Rick Roll’d since birth. Poor guy.

(via Rene Walter)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Snap shot: Ray Bradbury’s reaction to watching F*CK ME RAY BRADBURY
08.22.2010
08:24 am

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Amusing
Books

Tags:
Ray Bradbury
FUCK ME RAY BRADBURY

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Is it too good to be true? I hope this is real! From Ain’t It Cool:

Ok - giggle… I love that somebody did this. Here’s Ray Bradbury’s reaction to watching FUCK ME RAY BRADBURY and Susan Gerbic-Forsyth, her friend Matt Edward showed it to him. This has serious ruleage in tow!

Previously on Dangerous Minds: ‘Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury’

Update: Ray Bradbury turns 90 today. Happy Birthday!

(via Nerdcore)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Beatnik TV: Milton Berle and Steve Allen as protest singers Monty Mad and Billy Bitter

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Milton Berle and Steve Allen, as protest singers Monty Mad and Billy Bitter, crack some exceedingly unhip jokes in this goofy TV skit. Spike Priggen of Bedazzled TV dug this rarity up from somewhere. I can’t find any info about it on the internet.

The real thrill in this for me is seeing Lloyd Thaxton. Lloyd hosted a TV dance party in the 60’s that I would devotedly watch every weekday afternoon. Paul Revere and The Raiders, The Byrds, Sonny and Cher, The Kinks, Jan and Dean, the Beau Brummels and dozens of other great bands appeared on Thaxton’s show. It was teenage bliss. It’s weird, but there are no Thaxton videos on Youtube. Spike, you got some? Are they gone forever?

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Maximum Bollywood mega-mix: Bombay Elvis meets Parliament Funka-Delhi
08.21.2010
09:51 pm

Topics:
Movies
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
Bollywood
rock and roll

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Bollywood mega-mix featuring clips from Teesri Manzel, Bhoot Bangla, Chikubuku Chikubuku Railay, O Meri Maina, Pyar Hi Pyar, Ellam Inba Mayam.

Ann Margret, Elvis, Chubby Checker, Parliament Funkadelic, Michael Jackson, Little Richard, Ronnie Spector…Bollywood style. 30 minutes of vindaloo au-go-go: rock, funk and disco.

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
‘High Wire’ by KDMS: Barbarella meets Amanda Lepore at the Paradise Garage
08.21.2010
04:19 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
KDMS
High Wire
Amanda Lepore
Barberella

 
High Wire by KDMS is a mid-tempo funk groove that reminds me of the early days of house.

I really dig the Barbarella clip with Jane Fonda and John Phillip Law sporting Amanda Lepore’s lips.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
South Korean Elvis? Nope. It’s the South Korean Neil Young
08.21.2010
02:19 pm

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
South Korean Neil Young

 
Ken, a South Korean busker, does an urgent version of Heart Of Gold. The person who uploaded this to Yuotube, Topechick, calls Ken “Elvis”, but she’s wrong - Neil Young all the way.

This was shot somewhere along the banks of the Yukon River. It looks pretty deserted. Is Ken a rock and roll hermit?

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
“Hi Mom! Still alive!”: Black Flag and the punk violence hysteria of 1980-81

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As if you needed it: PUNK NOSTALGIA ALERT.

In the early ‘80s, Black Flag were at the center of the controversy about punk rock violence that hung over the hardcore scenes in L.A. and nationwide.

Two elements seemed at work here. First were the media reports about punk violence fueled parental hysteria, and likely prompted parents of rebellious teens to call the cops on shows that would probably have turned out fine. Second was the actual risk of potential injury at L.A. punk shows. This typically led ad hoc scene spokespeople to defensively compare violence levels at punk shows with those at metal concerts or football games. It also caused plenty of serious internal hand-wringing (mostly in punk ‘zines) about “scene unity”—which now of course just seems like naïve tribalism. 

This Reagan-era concern over local teen and twenty-something violence seemed completely bemusing at a time of mutal assured nuclear destruction and adventurous foreign policy.

Obviously, Black Flag shows weren’t sedate affairs. Of my two encounters with the band in the early Rollins era, one featured a quick half-stampede away from the stage and towards the door, while the other comprised watching a riot unfold outside a sold-out Flag show with the Ramones. Black Flag would eventually settle into the proto-grunge route to self-destruction in 1986.

Looking at it from an era in which more severe and socially tangible violence happens routinely at hip-hop shows, and punk is now fodder for a Broadway musical, Black Flag’s problems seems like they occurred less at another time than on another planet.

Here’s a 1981 segment from the local L.A. news show 2 on the Town.
 

 

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
No dope, no hope
08.21.2010
10:48 am

Topics:
Amusing
Drugs

Tags:
dope
Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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