Like many Americans, my first exposure to Kate Bush was via her fourth album, 1982’s The Dreaming, for despite being a chart-topper the world over, and with a 1978 appearance on SNL under her belt, Bush had virtually zero profile in America before it. The Dreaming is also my favorite Kate Bush album, although it doesn’t have a single one of my favorite Kate Bush songs on it.
Even during a period of popular music that produced such off-kilter masterpieces as PiL’s The Flowers of Romance, Japan’s Tin Drum and Nunsexmonkrock by Nina Hagen, The Dreaming was still an album that was difficult—at first—to get your head around. It’s an album that requires three to five listens before it “clicks,” but when it does, the listener is rewarded with one of the most dazzling, ambitious and audacious things an artist has ever attempted, before or since. In this case, by an artist who was then just 23!
As a song cycle, The Dreaming is a complex and accomplished work, practically demanding to be listened to all the way through (if only out of respect for the genius who created it). Although I went backwards through her first three albums, in retrospect, The Dreaming—produced by Kate alone for the first time—is an abrupt (make that very abrupt) break with what had come before. Gone were the intimate observations on life, the intensely passionate musings on love. sexuality and England’s green and pleasant land—indeed all of the pretty songs that her fanbase obviously expected—to be replaced with poetic and cinematic narratives that evoked far off exotic lands, paranoia, fury, a quest for learning, a stymied oneness with God and comedy. The Dreaming is the work of a great talent operating totally free of any outside pressures or concerns. It would be ridiculous to call it the first “real” Kate Bush album, but there is certainly a clear line of demarcation between Never for Ever and everything that comes after it.
Obviously there was always something monumentally idiosyncratic about Kate Bush, but with The Dreaming, the eclectic nature of her mature vision became boldly manifest for the first time.
“Sat in Your Lap” is the album’s frantic opening number. One of the engineers Bush used on The Dreaming was Hugh Padgham, the man responsible for achieving the famous “gated drum” sound of Phil Collin’s “In the Air Tonight” number, and I would imagine he’s probably responsible for the fantastic drum sound on “Sat in Your Lap” (I could be wrong about this because Padgham brought in Nick Launay, PiL’s engineer for the heavily percussive The Flowers of Romance album, for The Dreaming and it might be he who recorded the drums here, I’m not sure) (Here’s a link to a demo of the song)
Retronaut posted these delightful photos of Jackie and JFK: When they were dummies from the LIFE archive. Apparently these were made for the John Frederics shop in New York where pillbox hats sold for $35 to $70 in 1961.
Pink Floyd’s debut 1967 long player, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, came out 45 years ago this week in the UK. A stereo mix of the album came out a month later and the American version of the album was released in October of that year. The US version had a different track listing that omitted “Flaming,” “Astronomy Domine” and “Bike,” if you can imagine such a travesty, while the “See Emily Play” single was added.
Piper was recorded off and on February through July of 1967 at Abbey Road Studios (while the Beatles recorded “Lovely Rita” in the studio next door) and featured mostly songs written by the group’s founder Syd Barrett. By the time the album came out, however, Barrett’s behavior had become increasingly erratic and David Gilmour was soon after brought in to augment the group. It was the sole Pink Floyd album to be recorded under Barrett’s musical leadership of the band.
Although today Piper is justly considered a classic, indispensable album, it was not a commonly encountered record until after Dark Side of the Moon became such a monster hit, in the US at least, and it was re-released as part of the A Nice Pair two-record set (which included Piper along with the restored tracks and A Saucerful of Secrets).
The startling lead off number on The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn is the tremendously tremendous “Astronomy Domine” as seen here in this wild clip from The Look of the Week BBC television series. Includes the hilariously contentious interview with classical music critic Hans Keller, who introduces the group with the faintest of feint praise. In fact he more or less tells the TV audience that what they are about to see is going to suck! Imagine how completely INSANE this would have seemed beamed into your home in 1967. Keller’s bewilderment at their music is a pretty clear indicator of how such a performance would have been regarded back then. Speaking of, notice how far ahead of his time human beat box Barrett is at the start of this clip:
After the jump, more early Pink Floyd performances and videos with Syd Barrett…
Here’s a short but very compeling “artistic profile” on Graham Simpson, the original bassist and co-founder of Roxy Music.
After the release of the band’s debut album in 1972, Simpson left Roxy Music to deal with his depression (“mental fatigue”), which eventually led to a trip to India to study Sufism. Though he had not closed the door on a return to Roxy Music, he never did approach the band about future collaborations.
The last words Bryan (Ferry) said to me where “get well and come back” but I never did. I ran out of imagination but Bryan never did”
Bryan Ferry on Simpson:
He was one of the most interesting people I ever worked with. He was crucial to my development as a musician, and in those early years he was a pillar of strength and inspiration. He was a great character…think Jack Kerouac and ‘On The Road’. I liked Graham, and Roxy Music would never have happened without him”
It is somewhat shocking that Simpson’s contribution to the genesis of Roxy Music is as little known as it is. Perhaps, his own behavior was the cause. He seemed unsuited to the glare of the spotlight and apparently made every effort to avoid fame. But this doesn’t excuse history from giving credit where credit is due. In Jonathan Rigby’s well-regarded book on Roxy Music, “Both Ends Burning,” Simpson is hardly mentioned and among the book’s many photographs of Roxy Music in its infancy, there’s not a single shot of Simpson. A recent documentary on Roxy Music that we featured here on Dangerous Minds made no mention of Simpson at all.
Filmed by Simpson’s neighbor and film maker Sara Cook, this video is a teaser for a planned feature-length documentary on Simpson called Nothing But The Magnificent.
I, for one, am keeping my fingers crossed that Ms. Cook will be able to complete Nothing But The Magnificent. Graham Simpson’s life seems quite fascinating and as a founder of one of the great rock bands of all time his story is far more than just an historical footnote.
Graham Simpson died this past April at the age of 68.
Italian film maker Paolo Gioli creates a haunting short movie by animating photographs taken by Bert Stern of Marilyn Monroe shortly before she died at the age of 36, fifty years ago today.
Filmarilyn is both beautiful and foreboding. As the film’s jazzy rhythms start to disintegrate and the images slow to a crawl, “X” marks on the contact sheets appear like magical curses and a fresh scar on Marilyn’s flesh transforms into a stigmata while her face, half-hidden by shrouds of white, eyes closed, turns impossibly pale and lifeless. In the final moments, close-ups of her hands in death-like repose seem almost saintly and as the film’s last frames unspool we are left with the sense of having seen an apparition, a ghost… a soul X-rayed.
It’s amazing how much power and sadness Gioli creates from so few elements - a testimony to his artistry, Marilyn’s radiance and Stern’s skill in capturing it.
‘...depicting a parallel universe where nature, celebrity and surrealism collide.’
Some of the work is reminiscent of artist David Shrigley, who encouraged Hill to have the exhibition.
Best known for his multi-award-winning series TV Burp Hill claims he paints as a means of ‘winding down’, and has been painting in secret for 20-years. Over that time, Harry had amassed so many of his own artworks he thought it was time to get them out of the house.
My Hobby runs at White Stuff, 2nd Floor, 89 George Street, EH2 3ES, from 4 August – 2 September 2012, and includes a newly filmed interview between Shrigley and Hill.
Here is a selection of Harry Hill’s art, including some on show in Edinburgh.
A few more peaks at harry Hill’s art, after the jump…
Black Sabbath -Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Tommy Clufetos (doing a fine job filling in for Bill Ward) - play a solid version of “Iron Man” last night at Lollapalooza.
Right now heavy rainstorms in the Chicago area have shut down Lollapalooza. Plans are to resume the fest as soon as the storms pass. Once the weather delay is over, you can stream the rest of the fest here.
Massive party pooper. 100,000 people evacuted from Chicago’s Grant Park.