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Vom as in vomit: Richard Meltzer’s musical turd in the punch bowl
08:41 am



Adam Ganderson who writes for Chips and Beer Magazine contributed this to Dangerous Minds.

Vom might be the weirdest punk band to ever exist. Made up of guitarist Phil Koehn, bassist Lisa Brenneis and rock writers Gregg Turner from Creem and “Metal” Mike Saunders, who is credited with being the first person to use the term “Heavy Metal” in a record review, the band was fronted by primary rock critic and Blue Oyster Cult lyricist Richard Meltzer.

It didn’t matter that in 1976 Blue Oyster Cult was one of the biggest heavy metal acts on the planet, by that time Meltzer claimed to be done with rock and especially rock writing, which was at that point already sagging with record label PR hacks trying to get their name “out there” in order to reap the socio economic benefits of being a music insider. Basically, what the music journalism game has become today, just on a different pay scale. 

Vom (vomit abbreviated) turned out to be the test model for Angry Samoans (minus Meltzer) and was there as punk was taking hold in Los Angeles, when it was a legitimate “thing” but not so much of a thing that it had been scooped up by corporate bozos. These guys were pranksters, not really a surprise in the case of Meltzer who would sometimes mail his garbage to addresses chosen at random from the phone book. They would drape barbed wire in front of the stage, release live crickets at shows, and at least once hit someone in the face with the mic stand. Musically, they kinda stunk. But they were also great. Nothing about this band made complete sense and it wasn’t supposed to. It was concussed. Damaged but not broken. Juvenile. All the things that once made rock ’n’ roll relevant. Vom only lasted a year, but in that time they got about as close as music can get to capturing the sound of what Meltzer once called “children throwing tinker toys at the wall.”

Below are the videos for Vom’s “Punk Mobile”, “I’m In Love With Your Mom”, “Animalistic” and the timeless classic “Electrocute Your Cock” all of which also turn up in Angry Samoans: True Documentary.

More after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Lou Reed peels off wild guitar solos during first Velvet Underground gig without John Cale, 1968
09:18 am



La Cave
By September 1968, Lou Reed was hell-bent on kicking John Cale out of the Velvet Underground. Reed and Cale started the band, but after two albums, Lou was no longer interested in working with the Welsh musician. It’s always been unclear as to why Reed felt this way, but the most plausible reason is that he sought to make the Velvets more accessible, while Cale wanted to keep one foot in the avant-garde. Regardless, in late September, after what would turn out to be Cale’s final concerts with the group, Reed met with drummer Maureen Tucker and guitarist Sterling Morrison and gave them an ultimatum: Either Cale goes or the band is finished.
John Cale and Lou Reed
John Cale and Lou Reed in New York City, 1968

Reluctantly, Tucker and Morrison agreed to sack Cale. But with Cale’s exit and upcoming concerts scheduled for the first week of October, a replacement needed to be found—and fast. Doug Yule, a Boston musician who was friendly with the band, was quickly brought into the fold. Yule would have to swiftly learn a set of songs, many of which he hadn’t heard before because they hadn’t been released yet. He made his way to New York City to rehearse for shows booked at a small venue in Cleveland called La Cave. Yule’s first gig with the Velvets is usually cited as having taken place on October 2nd, though in his exhaustive book, White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-by-Day, author Richie Unterberger writes that Yule’s debut was October 4th. Either way, the band’s new member had little time to prepare.
The new VU
The new VU, 1968

The Velvet Underground played two sets that first night in Cleveland with Yule, and thanks to recordings which were subsequently bootlegged, we can hear what they sounded like during this historic show. Incredibly, Yule already appears to be a good fit. He’s obviously up for the task, coming up with interesting bass lines—even singing background harmonies—on songs that he had just learned. His harmony vocal gelling perfectly with Reed’s during a lovely version of “Jesus” is just one of many cool moments. Reed’s guitar work is also noteworthy, like during the wild and weird middle section of “I Can’t Stand It,” but it’s the track that opens the first set that takes the cake.

“What Goes On” was one of many numbers played that first night that Yule barely had time to acquaint himself with (the tune would be included on their next album, The Velvet Underground, which came out the following year). There’s nothing all that interesting happening here at first (though Yule once again contributes some mighty fine harmonizing); that is, until Reed kicks off the initial solo with a fierce blast of noise. He follows up with melodic lines that resemble what would be heard on the now-familiar album take, but while the guitar tone on the LP version is psychedelic, here it’s all about volume and distortion. During the second and final solo, after a similar melodic passage, Lou lets it rip. At around the 4:52 mark, he goes into hyperactive overdrive, whipping up an atypically riotous, face melter of a solo that’s downright giddy in execution. It’s the sound of a man set free.
Lou Reed
This joyfully savage version of “What Goes On” would appear decades later on Peel Slowly and See, VU’s 1995 boxed set, and to date it’s the only track from the Cleveland concerts to be officially released. In his liner notes for the box, David Fricke is suitably inspired by the rendition, writing that it’s “rich with pyro-fuzzbox spew and climaxes with a staccato rush of tonal destruction over Sterling Morrison’s implacable, syncopated rhythm clang.”
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Discussion
Watch ‘Slade in Flame,’ ‘the ‘Citizen Kane’ of British pop movies’
09:34 am



Slade in Flame (a/k/a Flame) is a lot of fun—duh, it’s got Slade playing in it—but it’s also the only rock movie I know of that shows how desperately sad and awful show business can be. Set in the ‘60s, the movie starts out in the dingy, Broadway Danny Rose world of small-time entertainers: the cramped offices of talent agents who book jugglers and rock bands alike into bingo halls, wedding tents and bars. From there, Slade’s alter egos, Flame, climb to the top, but I wouldn’t say things get better for them.

Andrew Birkin (brother of Jane) based his screenplay on road stories he heard from Slade and their manager and producer Chas Chandler, who had a story or two to tell, having played bass in the Animals and managed Jimi Hendrix. Slade wanted Birkin and director Richard Loncraine to put the harsh reality of the rock biz onscreen, as Noddy Holder explained in a 2002 interview about the movie (embedded below):

When we read [the treatment], we liked the story, the basic idea of the story, but it wasn’t true to life of what a band’s all about. Unless you’ve been in a band, [screenwriters] tend to write about the myth of rock ‘n’ roll, not the reality of rock ‘n’ roll, and we wanted to show what rock ‘n’ roll was really like behind the scenes, not what the fantasy out front is, y’know, that everybody sees, the glitz and glamour and the parties and all that—we wanted to show the other side of the business.

Though the soundtrack and book were enormously successful in the UK, drummer Don Powell’s book, Look Wot I Dun, reports that Slade didn’t see any profits from the movie itself. However, Slade in Flame has consistently appeared in best-of lists since its release, and critic Mark Kermode has called it “the Citizen Kane of British pop movies.”

Watch it here before it gets yanked!

After the jump, a nearly hour-long interview with Noddy Holder that was an extra on the 2004 DVD of ‘Slade in Flame’...

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
Of Spiders, Pin-up girls and Silent Movie Mad Men: The Legacy of ‘Hollywood Imp’ Jack McDermott
10:30 am



Pin Up Model Betty Blue in front of the Spider Tile
There is something so delightfully decadent and downright pagan about Hollywood in the 1920’s. Maybe it was the heat and the transformation of desert wasteland to an arena of dreams and star making machines or perhaps the country’s overall shedding of prudish Victoriana morals and decor. Social and creative mores were pushed, at times, in the most delicious and evocative of ways. (As anyone who has studied pre-Hays Code films can probably assure you!) Sitting in the Hollywood Hills, like some pastiche Abbey of Thelema meets Silver Screen ambiance was the “Crazy House.”
Jack McDermott-Handsome Devil
“Crazy House” belonged to silent film writer/director Jack McDermott. McDermott was born in 1893 and originally from Green River, Wyoming, a mining town known for being one of the first in the country to ban door-to-door solicitation. When his family moved to Los Angeles in the protean days of filmmaking, it was kismet for an unrestrained soul like McDermott’s. Settling in the desert landscape like a holy burning bush as witnessed by a tribe of mescaline-dosed fops, McDermott’s reputation would soon grow legion. With directing credits dating back to at least 1916 and the last credited film of his being released in 1926, intriguingly titled The Love Thief, McDermott’s legacy in Hollywood mythos has become less solidified in silver nitrate and more in surreal antics and architectural wonderment.

Stories about McDermott the Hollywood Imp would soon circulate by the 1920’s. Gags such as giving guests a ride in his Model T in some of the rockier parts of the landscape, only to pull the steering wheel completely off and throw it out whenever his company started getting nervous, were just the tip of the iceberg. (McDermott’s car had foot controls installed that helped prevent certain auto-crash doom.) Driving shenanigans aside, it would ultimately be, as described in a 1927 issue of Picture-Play magazine as “The Strangest House in Hollywood,” that would make him a whispered name decades past his expiration date on this mortal plane.
Exterior of
Described by McDermott himself as his “crazy house,” what the structure lacked in modern cohesive design, it more than made up for with slackful ingenuity and a mega-ton of studio sets and props. Not just a few odds and ends here and there, but that the house itself was largely composed of set-pieces and what would now be viewed as Hollywood artifacts and relics.

The “Crazy House” featured rugs, furniture and walls straight off the sets of films like the 1924 Raoul Walsh actioner The Thief of Baghdad, a roof constructed from Lon Chaney Sr.‘s classic Phantom of the Opera, fencing from one of Rudolph Valentino’s last films, 1925’s The Eagle, among many others. McDermott even reportedly utilized the tombstones used in the 1923 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame to form part of a stone wall on the property.
More on Jack McDermott’s crazy house, after the jump…

Posted by Heather Drain | Discussion
Pioneer of New York City underground TV: Efrom Allen R.I.P
08:16 pm



Along with Robin Byrd and Al Goldstein, Efrom Allen was one of the pioneers of NYC cable TV talk shows. With its mix of porn stars, punk rockers and nightlife impresarios, Allen’s Nightlife was always reliably weird. As punk rock was throbbing in the clubs downtown, Manhattan cable TV was experiencing its own kind of anarchy. D.I.Y programs like Nightlife were offering demented and surreal entertainment to get us energized before hitting the clubs or to soften the crash as we wound down from a night on the Bowery. The coaxial pipeline was sending signals into our decrepit little apartments that were raw, spontaneous and often exhilarating, punk rock’s cathode equivalent. It was underground, avant garde, sloppy black and white television with a grimy technicolor soul. And Efrom Allen was the ringmaster at the rock and roll circus that made Manhattan in the 70s one of the most wonderfully strange places on the planet.

Leslie Barany has informed Dangerous Minds of the sad news that Efrom Allen has died. He had been suffering from lung cancer.

I was addicted to many things in the 70s and one of the healthier habits I accrued was watching Manhattan public access TV. Uncensored and subversive as hell, public access was truly what it claimed to be. You could reserve time for free on certain cable channels and do pretty much whatever you wanted. What made Efrom Allen stand out was his absolute coolness. He wasn’t cool in the hipster sense, he was cool in the sense of always maintaining an even keel while shit was happening all around him. From nasty crank calls to surreal interviews that included Nancy Spungen, William Shatner, a nude Marilyn Chambers and The Ramones, Allen dealt with everyone with a Zen equanimity, never breaking a sweat and never condescending to his guests no matter how fucked-up or difficult they might be. On the surface, he seemed a bit square but he was actually a pretty gutsy guy who went out on the limb every time he did a show. Nightlife was cutting edge stuff and it makes the current crop of late night talk shows look hopelessly square.

In a phone call earlier today, Leslie Barany said that those close to Efrom will be working on a project to insure that his video archives will be “transferred to a museum or institution that appreciates its historical value, and will digitize it, preserve it and make it available to the public.”

Below, Efrom Allen with Sid Vicious, Stiv Bators, Cynthia Ross and Nancy Spungen:


Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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