In recent weeks Slow Nerve Action has uploaded a treasure trove of Flaming Lips concert footage to their YouTube channel. There are hours upon hours of Lips’ concert footage I’ve never seen before and I bet you haven’t either. Picking the “best of” is impossible, but this one shines for audio and visual quality: Flaming Lips on Austin City Limits, 2004.
00:05:18 Race for the Prize
00:12:09 Fight Test
00:20:20 The Gash
00:26:00 Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1
00:34:00 Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 2
00:38:30 The Spark That Bled
00:45:49 Lightning Strikes the Postman
00:52:57 War Pigs (with Cat Power)
00:59:20 Somewhere Over the Rainbow (with Vernon Drozd)
01:04:25 In the Morning of the Magicians
01:14:46 She Don’t Use Jelly
01:22:45 Do You Realize?
As far as I can tell, this is the first time this show has appeared on YouTube.
Although the wild rumors of Scott Walker leaving behind his love-child from a college-age tryst seemed just a bit far-fetched (a sex scandal seems so unlikely for a guy with a face like Walker’s, don’t you think?) and truly “too good to be true,” the same can’t be said when an Emmy award-winning journalist who has worked for Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, a former Attorney General and a former District Attorney all say that Walker IS the target of the so-called “John Doe” investigation… on a federal level.
It would kind of make sense, um, considering that THIRTEEN of Walker’s subordinates have been granted immunity and five people close to him have already been indicted.
With the recall election less than two days away, federal prosecutors are closing in on Governor Scott Walker, according to veteran political reporter David Shuster, former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, and former district attorney Bob Jambois.
In a conference call organized by state Democrats on Saturday evening, June 2, Shuster, Lautenschlager, and Jambois laid out evidence that Walker is a target of a federal investigation.
Wisconsin Democratic Party Communications Director Graeme Zielinski added that there is evidence of wrongdoing after Walker’s time as Milwaukee County Executive, and that the investigation includes criminal activity during his time as governor.
Based on conversations with a lawyer who has knowledge of the investigation, “We believe that Scott Walker set up a secret computer network in the governor’s office and Department of Administration offices, and that the John Doe investigation is seeking evidence of crimes he committed in Madison,” Zielinski said.
Walker denied the allegations. At a campaign event on Saturday, Walker answered “absolutely not” to reporters’ questions—raised by David Shuster’s reporting for Take Action News—about whether he had been informed, either formally or informally, that he might be a target of federal prosecution. “I’ve never heard a single thing about that, other than spin from the left,” Walker said. He described the allegations as “just more of the liberal scare tactics out there desperately trying to get the campaign off target.”
“I stand by my reporting 100 percent,” Shuster said in the conference call. “It’s clear to me that he is, in fact, a target in a federal investigation.”
Despite copious reporting, especially in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, about the Milwaukee County district attorney’s probe of alleged violations when Walker was county executive—including a secret email network maintained by his staff for the purpose of conducting illegal campaign activity on county time, the theft of funds intended for the widows and orphans of Iraq War veterans, and possible favorable treatment of campaign donors seeking public contracts, not much has been written about the FBI probe.
“The Wisconsin press has only reported about the John Doe—the state component,” said Zielinski. “They have not reported on the federal component of this.”
“I’ve been reporting on federal grand juries for twenty years”—including Justice Department probes of former Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker, Monica Lewinsky, Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, and Jack Abramoff—said David Shuster, a former reporter for Fox News and anchor for MSNBC, who now works with Take Action News and as a host on Current TV.
In his reporting on FBI involvement in the current probe of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Shuster said he consulted with Justice Department attorneys in the public integrity section and “I got independent confirmation that he’s a target.”
Shuster said that he had learned Scott Walker’s attorneys had been seeking to have their client publicly cleared of wrongdoing for the last five or six weeks, in the run-up to the recall election. Prosecutors could not clear him, Shuster said, because Walker is a target.
The ongoing John Doe investigation by the Milwaukee County District Attorney has led to criminal charges against three of Walker’s former aides, an appointee, and a major donor. Thirteen of Walker’s associates have been granted immunity—including Walker’s spokesman, Cullen Werwie.
Recent campaign finance filings show that Walker has transferred a total of $160,000 into a criminal defense fund— the only criminal defense fund maintained by a governor of any state in the nation.
Power trio: Lydia Lunch, Bertei and Anya Phillips.
If you lived in downtown New York City during the late 1970s and were a fan of new music, the odds are you encountered Adele Bertei. She was a member of seminal No Wave band The Contortions and could be seen performing and hanging out at the Mudd Club, Pep Lounge and CBGB’s, along with a formidable number of musicians and artists that made those clubs their second homes.
Petite and powerful, Bertei is a renaissance woman, much like her hero Patti Smith, who can operate within the worlds of music, literature, dance and film with a fine-tuned ferocity and grace. Moving from the unhinged funk of The Contortions to dance floor hits produced by Jelly Bean Benitez, Arthur Baker and Thomas Dolby weren’t no big thang for the mercurial Bertei. The transition from No Wave to New Wave and disco may have had a commercial design but Bertei did it all without selling her soul. Along with a number of downtown bands (Blondie, Talking Heads) she expanded her range, infiltrating the discotheques with bohemian raps riding big beats. Even her slicker stuff had a knowing quality that said “I can do this stuff too. So, why not.” The walls between uptown and downtown were crumbling, along with the bridges, subways and ghettos.
Bertei is working on a memoir, No New York: Adventures in the Town of Empty, which will chronicle her experiences in New York City from 1977 to the late-1980’s. Those were amazing years to be in Manhattan and if anyone can get at the heart of what made it such a wildly creative time, Bertei is the person to do it. She’s developed into a very fine writer - precise, heartfelt, tough and delicate. Her life story is the story of a city in flux and the people who rode the crest of a very tumultuous pop culture wave. Her early years alone include a stint as Brian Eno’s personal assistant through the Contortions and her all-girl band The Bloods to being a major label artist and collaborator with musicians as diverse as Matthew Sweet, Lydia Lunch, John Lurie, Scritti Politti and Sparks. If you’re interested in learning more about No New York: Adventures in the Town of Empty check this out.
My own experiences of Bertei were the several occasions on which I saw the Contortions and The Bloods. Uncompromising as hell, both bands took traditional funk and rock styles and played them with an aggressively manic edge that mirrored the vibes of a city hovering between decay and resurrection while also serving as a kind of curative - a headshot to the zombies that lurked at the edges of night.
It is arguable that artists and musicians did far more to exorcise the dark spirits embedded in New York City of the Seventies than the useless politicians helplessly choking on clots of meaningless rhetoric and the cops randomly arresting harmless panhandlers while heroin dealers ruled the Lower East Side with impunity. In clubs like CBGB’s, we gathered to re-fuel our engines before returning to the garbage-strewn streets, with their wall-to-wall carpeting of glassine bags, dessicated condoms and dog shit, to look the dead-eyed rat of reality straight in its big fucking smirk of a face. Within this doomsday scenario, we chose to contort ourselves into shapes that hieroglyphed our inner urgency to drown out, with the beat of drums and clang of metal, the grim wails of sirens that tore through the dank poisonous air like sonic razorblades. We had come to make a bigger noise. We weren’t going to take the shit of civilization lying down. We were going out fighting or at least fucking things up. As it is, some of us made art that cooled the jets of the degenerate culture of death. While Rome burned, we did more than fiddle. We rocked.
The videos I’ve included here give testimony to Bertei’s range and musical spirit. Stiff Records’ motto “fuck art, let’s dance” was good to be sure. But in Adele Bertei’s world, you can create art while dancing because they’re the same fucking thing. I know Stiff was trying to make a point about pretentiousness in music, and No Wave was an easy target for that argument, but when the Mudd Club (co-founded by Anya Phillips, Contortionist James Chance’s lover) opened its doors in 1978 and punkers had a dance club they could call their own it was amazing how quickly we went from cretin hopping to eventually burning down the house. The demonization of disco seemed like a waste of time. And segueing from “Le Freak” to “I Wanna Be Sedated” was as smooth as the seats on the L train.
“Jackie is a punk, Judy is a runt
They went down to the Mudd Club
And they both got drunk
As many times as you may tell your story, it is true that it will never be the same as you are never the same. Memory is flux as is life, although some people may tell you you never change. Stay away from those people. Weed the snakes from your garden. Navigate always toward the love. No matter how much they tell you we are born alone and die alone, it doesn’t make the need for love any less necessary to the in-between.” A. Bertei.
Tom Jones performs Leonard Cohen’s “Tower Of Song’ on the Jools Holland show - May 11, 2012.
Jones may not quite get the humor in the lyrics, but there’s no denying the man IS a tower of song. A monumental voice. And the guy is still built like a brick shithouse.
“Tower Of Song” appears on Jones’ new album Spirit In The Room which comes out on June 5 in the United Kingdom. This is the second new album release I’ve wanted to purchase that hasn’t been made available in the USA other than on expensive imports. The other is Richard Hawley’s Standing At The Edge Of The Sky. You can’t even buy em as MP3s. And Spotify won’t let you listen to Hawley’s album if you live in the USA. What’s with that? This is bad business for the artists and encourages illegal downloading. The music industry just doesn’t learn. The death wish continues. The only place to hear some of these new albums is on YouTube…and that may not last for much longer.
Dario Russo’s Italian Spiderman packs more action, drama and romance (Italian-style) in under 40 minutes than 90% of Hollywood’s bloated super hero blockbusters. Add fine acting and cutting-edge special effects to the mix and you’ve got pure cinematic gold.
Plot summary (and it’s a shitload of plot for a film that runs under an hour) courtesy of Wikipedia:
In the middle of a party, an asteroid from a distant galaxy falls to Earth and is taken by professor Bernardi (Carmine Russo) for research. He discovers the asteroid has a substance that can create duplicates from any living being and decides that Italian Spiderman (Franco Franchetti), a fat, rude, and powerful superhero, is the only man capable to have custody of the valuable asteroid.
As soon as Professor Bernardi gives Italian Spiderman the asteroid, he is attacked by the terrible Captain Maximum (Leombruno Tosca) who is interested in using the asteroid for his own evil plans. Foiled in his attempt to steal the asteroid from Bernardi, he transforms the Professor into a snake. Captain Maximum later intercepts the Italian Spiderman and takes the asteroid, although he gives Italian Spiderman a chance to win it by beating Maximum in a surf contest. When Captain Maximum notices the obviously superior surfing skills of Italian Spiderman, Maximum attempts to win by cheating. His efforts fail, however, as Italian Spiderman summons the help of penguins (which hurl themselves at Captain Maximum and his henchwomen) and wins. When Italian Spiderman returns home, he is again attacked by Captain Maximum’s henchmen, where a tranquilizer dart causes the hero to collapse.
Waking up in Captain Maximum’s lair he witnesses how the professor is forced to utilize the powers of duplication on one of Captain Maximum’s henchmen. Italian Spiderman is forced to watch as the professor is shot by Maximum. The furious Italian Spiderman attacks Maximum’s henchmen, killing many in a surprisingly gory battle sequence. Despite Italian Spiderman’s efforts the Professor dies but in his last moments gives the Italian Spiderman the potion. Italian Spiderman again attacks the headquarters of Captain Maximum. Despite having the potion, Italian Spiderman overwhelms by his powers alone the newfound army (showing in the process to have a poisonous bite and removable moustaches that can double as razor-sharp boomerangs). Later, Italian Spiderman returns home with the Professor’s niece. When a gigantic Captain Maximum lays siege to the city, Italian Spiderman finally drinks the potion, growing to the same height of Captain Maximum and battling him until the titles roll.
Presenting Italian Spiderman in high definition Spidercolor and an aspect ratio perfect for filming snakes, with never-before-seen EXTRA BONUS SCENES.
On March 8th, 1973, Paul McCartney was fined $240 for growing cannabis on his farm in Campbelltown, Scotland. Outside the court house, McCartney gave a short, amusing interview to BBC journalist, David Scott - a man known for his assiduous reporting and wry sense of humor.
McCartney told Scott that he was glad he didn’t receive a gaol sentence, although that “...would have been okay if I could have taken my guitar in with me and, you know, write a few songs, and stuff, but I wasn’t looking forward to it.”
“It was said in court,” probed Scott, “That you have considerable interest in horticulture. Now this might surprise some of your friends, when did this start?”
“A couple of years ago, you know.”
“And where have you been doing your gardening, et cetera?” asked Scott, with the emphasis on et cetera.
“On the farm. My dad’s a keen gardener, you know, I think it’s rubbed off.”
“It was said that those seeds had been sent to you, how did you come to grow them?”
“Well, we got a load of seeds, you know, kind of in the post, and we didn’t know what they were you know, and we kind of planted them all, and five of them came up like - five of them came up illegal.”
If I’d have only mentioned Raymond Listen or the Licorice Roots in the title, would you even be reading this? Probably not, right? And who could blame you? Even by obscure band standards, they’re still damned obscure. Obscure to the point where pretty much no one has ever heard of them. That’s why I made the Neutral Milk Hotel comparison up front, to draw you in (For some of you, admit it, I had you at “Neutral M…”). Stay with me here, though. You will be glad you did.
Still, it’s not really that egregious of a blog “bait-n-switch” title thing, either, because if you are a fan of Neutral Milk Hotel’s classic 1998 album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea or John Lennon’s Imagine or Mind Games albums, for that matter, I can assure you that you will find a whole lot to love about the quirky low-fi pleasures of Raymond Listen and the Licorice Roots, too, in particular their 1993 debut, Licorice Root Orchestra (There was a name change after the first album from Raymond Listen to The Licorice Roots, to clarify. The leader/singer/songwriter is a guy called Edward Moyse).
I’m not going to pretend that I know anything about this band, but I’ve listened to this album, A LOT, in the past twenty years. Kramer, of Bongwater/Shimmy Disc fame produced the album and he gave me the CD when it originally came out: “This is a masterpiece,” I recall him saying in his WC Fields-esque way. “This guy is a fuckin’ genius.”
I’d have to concur. I also recall Kramer telling me that they once had about 15 musicians onstage, all tied together (how great is that?) and that there was “one chick who just plays finger cymbals.”
When Licorice Root Orchestra came out, Melody Maker had this to say:
This, their divine debut, works as an ensemble piece. These 13 dream-dipped delights provide the perfect soundtrack to some sepia-tinted silent movie and manage to pull off the near-impossible: they are appealingly gauche but never gormless, naive but never nerdy. Most are under three minutes, their wealth of tiny details strung on a delicate, twittering frame.
“September in the Night” and “Cloud Symphonies” are pop songs like you’ve never heard them, impressionistic, hazy things that throb with wobbly, sub-aquatic strings and a piano that sounds like it’s floating up from the cellar. You can thank Shimmy’s chief kook, Kramer, for that, of course. There’s a general air of uneasiness beneath the charm, though, of Something Nasty never far away. “Lemon Peel Medallion”, for example, is full of fairground melancholy, while “Tangled Weeks” begins like the band started playing something else and then had to quickly change tack. Like most of these tunes, it moves to a strange, seesaw waltz, tinkling with glockenspiel, flute, finger cymbals, and piano.
“Licorice Root Orchestra” is a delicate work of weird genius; violet-tinted, sherbert-sweet, and lonely as Coney Island on a wet Sunday. Dip in.
The NME sayeth:
“Syrup-sweet flute and piano ditties offer simple, magical, childlike tones.”
And like I say, it’s been nearly two decades that I’ve listened to this album a fuck of a lot. I’ve made many, many copies for people on cassette and then on CD-R. I unabashedly love the Licorice Root Orchestra album and it holds a special place of esteem (and obscurity) in my record collection. There’s something so ethereal and gossamer delicate about the sound, and then there is an element of Edward Moyse’s guitar playing that I love where he somehow always manages to sound like he’s trying catching up to the rest of the band (and I mean that in the best possible way, he’s got an idiosyncratic guitar technique every bit as unique and off-kilter as Keith Levene or The Bevis Frond). An out-of-tune upright piano laden with reverb is another Lennon-esque element to their sound and Moyse’s voice is a divine and languid instrument, calling to mind a blissfully stoned Marc Bolan. His/their sound has also put me in mind of Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” (the song not the album).
To be honest, although I listen to that first Raymond Listen album at least once a year, if not much more often than that, before yesterday, I never really looked them up on the Internet or YouTube. I was under the impression that they’d recorded just one album. There’‘s very little information out there about them, even the Raymond Listen website is just a few stills and no text whatsoever. The Licorice Roots website isn’t that much more forthcoming, either.
What if, instead of splitting off to form Neutral Milk Hotel, the Olivia Tremor Control, and the Apples in Stereo, the original core members of the Elephant 6 collective had formed one band that incorporated Jeff Mangum’s scratchy lo-fi folk, Will Cullen Hart and Bill Doss’ trippy experimental tendencies, and Robert Schneider’s knack for clever pop hooks? The results would have sounded very much like the Delaware psych-pop trio the Licorice Roots. In fact, the Licorice Roots pre-date the recording careers of all three of those bands, but the band’s low profile, coupled with wide gaps between releases, has made them hidden treasure for all but the most devoted fans of modern psychedelia.
But before the Licorice Roots, there was Raymond Listen. Singer/songwriter and guitarist Edward Moyse and drummer David Milsom formed Raymond Listen in the college town of Newark, DE, in 1990. By 1992, organist and percussionist Dave Silverman completed the group, and in 1993 they scored the coveted Cute Band Alert blurb from the post-feminist teen magazine Sassy. Raymond Listen’s debut album, Licorice Root Orchestra, was produced by New Jersey noise pop maven Kramer and released on his Shimmy-Disc label that same year. The band added a second guitarist and percussionist for a national tour in early 1994, but split up shortly thereafter. However, only a few months later, the core trio of Moyse, Silverman, and Milsom regrouped as the Licorice Roots. Their first album under the new name took three years to complete before being released as Melodeon in 1997. A second album, Caves of the Sun, was self-released in 2003. In 2006, the Licorice Roots signed with the Chicago-based indie Essay Records and released their third album, Shades of Streamers. At the same time, Essay reissued Licorice Root Orchestra in an expanded and remastered edition under the Licorice Roots name.
Holy shit. that means there are four other albums from these guys, plus a reissued, expanded version of the one they made with Kramer? As unlikely as it seems to me that I’d never even once done a Google search for one of my top favorite albums of all time (Licorice Root Orchestra would easily be in my top 100, if not top 50 albums), I’m happy to hear more (and it’s all on Spotify. I can’t embed the track called “Coronation Day” here, so go to Spotify and listen to to that and “Saturn Rise,” post haste!). You can buy the CD of this minor masterpiece used on Amazon for as little as .70 cents, which is ridiculous.
Some of their YouTube videos have had fewer than twenty plays! First up is “Cloud Symphonies”:
The practically unseen music video for “September in the Night”:
After the jump, more Raymond Listen/The Licorice Roots
As Britain prepares for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations for Her Majesty, here is The Queen is Dead - Derek Jarman’s Super 8 film triptych (made in collaboration John Maybury, Richard Heslop and Chis Hughes) for 3 classic tracks by The Smiths: “The Queen is Dead,” “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” and “Panic.”
Inner city angst, urban decay, alienation, cute hairstyles, and lots of hand held camera work, well it was the eighties.