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Family Affair: Listen to nine-year-old Sly Stone sing gospel with his family & future bandmates
09.02.2014
09:14 am

Topics:
Belief
Music

Tags:
gospel
Sly Stone


 
Rarely does the phrase “children’s Christian rock” evoke anything more positive than a shudder, but Pentecostals often eschew the corniness pervasive to most modern religious music. Pentecostal gospel is the very stuff of rock ‘n’ roll, (hell, one of the churches my grandparents took me to had a Hammond B3 with a Leslie). It’s the sort of musical heritage that you can hear deep in the bones of an artist like Sly Stone, whose religious family was encouraged by the church to worship in song.

In 1952, a family gospel group called The Stewart Four did a small, local release of their own 78, featuring “Walking in Jesus’ Name” (below), and “On the Battlefield,” which you can hear on Spotify. The group was made up of siblings Freddie Stewart (age 5), Rose Stewart (age 7), Vaetta (later “Vet”) Stewart (age 2) with little Sylvester Stewart, as always, leading them. (If you’re wondering how a two-year old could contribute to a band, I’ll mention that it’s not uncommon during Pentecostal services to just throw a baby onstage to dance or clap, especially during family performances.) Anyway, this is the family of the Family Stone, performing gospel—beautifully, I might add—as very young children. Sly is nine years old here, and it’s absolutely sublime.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Michael Jackson, Joan Jett, and Rod Stewart compete in ABC’s ‘Rock-N-Roll Sports Classic,’ 1978


 
Those of us who lived through the seventies won’t soon forget the various ABC celebrity sports extravaganzas, especially the Battle of the Network Stars of various years. I didn’t remember, however, the Rock-N-Roll Sports Classic from 1978. Aside from a few genuine immortals (Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Rod Stewart, Joan Jett), the panoply of athletes is mostly reminiscent of a Columbia Records Club advertisement or the $1 bin at your local LP store (Boston, Leif Garrett, Anne Murray, Seals & Crofts, Tanya Tucker, Kenny Loggins, etc.).
 

 
Events include cycling, basketball, swimming, track and field. The main takeaway is that the Runaways kick ass, with both Joan Jett and Sandy West winning events. Michael Jackson appears in the 60-yard dash, but his brother Jackie wins that event. In soccer, Rod Stewart defeats ELO bassist Richard Tandy in a penalty-kick competition.

The roster of announcers is nearly as long and impressive as the list of performer-athletes: Ed McMahon, Sandy Duncan, Phyllis Diller, Kristy McNichol, Barbi Benton, and Alex Karras. Fred Travalena is also on hand to do a few timely impressions, such as Richard Nixon, who had resigned as president four years earlier.
 

 
At the 22:00 mark there’s a weird moment involving Alex Karras. Karras, who died in 2012, was a remarkable fellow by any definition, being an All-Pro defensive tackle for the Lions, Blazing Saddles bit player, and the adult lead for the ABC sitcom Webster for many years. But he was also one of a bare handful of athletes ever to suffer a league sanction for gambling, being forced by the NFL to sit out the 1963 season because of his involvement in gambling activities. So it’s especially weird when, after introducing Marlon Jackson before a race, he adopts the mock desperation of a gambling addict: “Marlon, you gotta win this one, I don’t care about you guys making money, but I need it!”

Indeed, the very existence of the Rock-N-Roll Sports Classic brings to mind the recent issue of drug testing in pro sports—one wonders what results the drug tests for this event would have yielded. Some of the events are actually edited out of this video, but most of them are there, but a judicious assessment of the video’s contents would still conclude that it mainly consists of introductions: “In Lane number two, William King of the Commodores!” It’s still a prime example of the dread nexus of music and television that only the seventies can supply, and well worth watching for connoisseurs of televised weirdness.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Evil never sounded like so much fun: Magma’s magnificently menacing epic ‘De Futura’ live, 1977
09.02.2014
07:58 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
prog rock
Magma

Magma
 
For my money, the French avant/prog/metal band Magma’s greatest track is “De Futura.” A wild-n-heavy number that first appeared on their 1976 album Udu Wudu, it really came to life in a live setting, where epic versions often lasted 20+ minutes.

This performance was recorded live at the Hippodrome de Pantin in Paris on May 14th, 1977, and aired on French TV. Here the group features two drummers, including Magma founder Christian Vander (he’s the one making the best ROCK faces this side of Nigel Tufnel), and two back-up singers who look like cult members. Oh, and did I mention Magma’s songs are sung in their own made-up language? It doesn’t get more wonderfully weird than this, folks.

Unfortunately, this was edited for TV and the footage ends just shy of the ten-minute mark, because by then the band had worked themselves into a glorious frenzy (the background singers look hypnotized!).

Ah well, enjoy what you can. Evil never sounded like so much fun!
 

 

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Discussion
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The Ramones on the Jerry Lewis Telethon
08.29.2014
05:57 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk
Television

Tags:
The Ramones


 
Well here’s something kind of strange and wonderful: The Ramones playing on the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon in September of 1989. The choice of songs couldn’t be more appropriate: “I Believe In Miracles” and “I Wanna Be Sedated.” This was C.J.‘s debut gig with the band and it must have been a particularly surreal initiation for the newly adopted Ramone.

This was aired on WWOR-TV in New York City.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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‘Superstars In Concert’: Jimi, Cream, Rolling Stones, Ike & Tina Turner & more in obscure classic


 
When the question of “What’s the best/great rockumentary of all?” is asked, the answers can range quite widely obviously, from something like Don’t Look Back or Let It Be to The Last Waltz or Stop Making Sense (which both seem to make almost everyone’s lists) to something totally out of left field and life-affirming like Half Japanese: The Band That Would Be King. I really loved the new Pulp: a Film about Life, Death and Supermarkets... and wouldn’t “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” be in the running for all-time best rockumentary? Of course it would be!

It’s an impossible question to answer, but sidestepping it somewhat, if I had to pick the best overall “time capsule” of the rock era to preserve for future generations, it would probably be Peter Clifton’s Superstars In Concert.  Also known as Rock City in a different edit, the film was directed and produced by Clifton (The Song Remains the Same, Popcorn, The London Rock and Roll Show) and is a hodge-podge compiling (mostly) his promotional short films and snippets of concert performances shot between 1964 and 1973 by the likes of Peter Whitehead (Wholly Communion, Charlie Is My Darling, Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London), Michael Cooper (who shot Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising), Ernest Vincze (the cinematographer responsible for the 2005 Doctor Who reboot) and Ivan Strasburg (Treme).
 

 
Featured in the film are The Rolling Stones (several times), Eric Burdon and The Animals, a typically demure appearance of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Otis Redding bringing the house down, Cream, Steve Winwood, Blind Faith, Cat Stevens (a stark Kubrickian promo film for his “Father and Son” single) , The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Donovan, Joe Cocker, a segment with The Ike and Tina Turner Revue that will bring a smile to your face, Pink Floyd and Rod Stewart and the Faces. Pete Townshend is seen getting in his digs at the Stones for promoting pot use, managing to make himself look like a blue-nosed twat in the process, while Mick and the boys are seen doing “Jumpin Jack Flash” in the (decidedly more evil) warpaint version of that promo film (there were two, this is the one that was NOT shown on The Ed Sullivan Show for obvious reasons) and in their promo film for “We Love You” which features Keef in a judge’s wig, Marianne Faithfull as a barrister and Mick nude wrapped up in a fur rug (a sly joke that if you don’t get, then google “Rolling Stones,” “Redlands,” drug bust, her name and “Hershey Bar.”)

Superstars In Concert came out in Japan on the laserdisc format and that’s how I first saw it, in the late 80s. Since then, other than the various clips showing up cut from the film on YouTube, it’s remained an obscurity. Apparently there was a Malaysian bootleg and then in 2003 a Brazilian magazine called DVD Total gave away the film for free with one of their issues. So far fewer than 200 people have viewed the video.

DO NOT miss what’s perhaps the most intense version of Pink Floyd’s “Careful with That Axe Eugene” ever captured on film. This entire film is absolutely amazing from start to finish, but it jumps off the scale during that part (Otis Redding is no slouch, either!) I highly recommend letting it load first before you hit play, otherwise it’s kind of flickery. If you wait a while, it doesn’t hang up and looks and sounds great.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Cool in the Pool’: Beating the heat with Can’s Holger Czukay, 1979
08.29.2014
06:40 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Krautrock
Holger Czukay


Holger Czukay’s first solo single “Cool in the Pool”
 
Holger Czukay, the bassist who co-founded Can, quit the group after 1977’s Saw Delight. His departure marked the beginning of the end for Can, who split in 1979 and didn’t play together again for almost a decade.

Around the time of the split, John Lydon, then leading Public Image Ltd., suggested Can take him on as lead singer. “There was all this trouble with Holger leaving, which was a sad thing,” Can’s keyboardist Irmin Schmidt told MOJO. “It was time to stop, and even John Lydon wouldn’t have brought anything into it!” (Lydon didn’t end up singing for Can, but PiL bassist Jah Wobble did collaborate with Czukay a few years later.)
 

Holger Czukay’s 1979 solo album Movies
 
Meanwhile, the 41-year-old Czukay had more important things on his mind, like how to beat the heat. With nothing more than a tuxedo, a comb, a bow and a French horn, he made this supremely silly promotional film for “Cool in the Pool,” the first song on his solo album Movies (1979). Most of the lyrics are as straightforward as it gets, though I’m afraid I can’t help you decipher the parts about the donkey dancing forward and the ice cream soda. However, Holger’s vamps can help lower your body temperature a few degrees.

Come on in—the water’s fine!
 

Holger Czukay “Cool in the Pool” music video

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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Incredible music billboards from the Sunset Strip
08.29.2014
06:37 am

Topics:
Advertising
Music

Tags:
billboards
Robert Landau


UFO, Obsession, 1978
 
I love everything about these remarkable advertisements, all of which were on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles between 1967 and 1981. We have photographer Robert Landau to thank for these pictures, as his collection represents the best available resource about them. Last year he came out with a very pretty book called Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip.

According to Landau, it wasn’t until 1967 that the music industry ventured into billboards to advertise new rock albums. The first rock billboard was for the Doors’ first album. As we can see here, other acts had billboards by 1967, so it must have caught on quickly.

“When I went out to explore the world,” says Landau. “I felt the Strip was like a gallery; there were these hand-painted works of art on the street. ... They looked like giant art pieces that kind of represented my generation and the music I listened to.”

“At one time, L.A. just felt a lot funkier. It felt more Western, and ... people could come here and do whatever they want. To a degree, that created a lot of chaos, but there was something about that freedom that allowed people to do fun things,” he says. “Things were a little quirkier back then. There was a bit more of a personal feel to the environment.”

A few notes about the pictures below. The ELO billboard is noteworthy because of the custom-made plexiglass neon space station, based on John Kosh’s logo for the band, which cost $50,000. Obviously, the Abbey Road billboard pictured here was defaced by some Beatlemaniac, which is why Paul’s head isn’t there. My favorite billboard of the bunch (and Landau’s too) is the remarkable one for the London Symphony Orchestra’s recording of Tommy from 1972; the billboard features no text whatsoever, just those creepy sci-fi eyes staring out at you. So ballsy!
 

Pink Floyd, Atom Heart Mother, 1970
 

Cocker Is Coming
 

10cc, Deceptive Bends, 1977
 

Joni Mitchell, Blue, 1971
 

The Knack, Round Trip, 1981
 

Jimi Hendrix, Axis: Bold as Love, 1967
 
Nei
Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Zuma, 1975
 

London Symphony Orchestra, Tommy, 1972
 

ELO, Out of the Blue, 1977
 
Many more billboards plus a video, after the jump….

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘Lose your mind and play’ Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd ‘live’ on TOTP, 1967


 
I type this as someone who has (perhaps obsessively) gone out of his way—for decades now—acquiring Pink Floyd bootlegs. I couldn’t get enough of them, always trading up in quality if possible. There was always an endless supply of them, with “new” ones popping up constantly. It was a disease like stamp collecting. I even paid a hundred bucks for one that I just had to have…

Since YouTube launched in 2005, of course, there’s been so much additional Pink Floyd goodness making its way to the public—an avalanche really—which is the only way to explain how THIS ONE got past me in the Floydian deluge… I’d read a few years ago that the British Film Institute had located tapes of two of Pink Floyd’s three Top of the Pops appearances in the summer of 1967 and that the quality was a little ropey. I promptly forget about it, but that footage turned up on YouTube about a year ago, even if I just saw it myself this morning.

True the quality isn’t great—only one of the tapes was watchable apparently—but who’s going to complain about catching a rare glimpse of a still functional Syd Barrett fronting Pink Floyd on TOTP in 1967??? Before this video was located, practically the only documentation of the group’s trio of appearances on the program was the color shot used on the Syd Barrett bootleg “Unforgotten Hero” as seen above.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Fantastic footage documenting the Tower Records shopping experience of 1971
08.28.2014
07:16 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Tower Records


The Tower Records on Sunset Blvd. circa 1988 (note the poster for the Coming to America soundtrack)
 
This utterly enthralling footage of the Tower Records on 8801 Sunset Boulevard was shot by Sacramento City College professor Darrell Forney in 1971. It’s available on archive.org. It’s ten solid minutes of pretty much random footage on a typical day, scored to Sly and the Family Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)” and Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee.” Anyone who’s old enough to remember those days—or simply anyone who’s into record collecting—set aside ten minutes to take this wonderful footage in. Then set aside another ten minutes to watch it all over again.

Tower Records was based in Sacramento and had existed since 1960—when this footage was shot, the Sunset Blvd. location had been open for only a year. It would be a mainstay for Los Angeles music lovers for more than three decades, until it finally closed in 2006.
 

 
I love how they just stack the records in the middle of everything. New albums appeared to cost $3.55 for the most part—not all that cheap, that translates to about $20 today (a good number of those albums in reissued LP format would run about $20, no?). We can see staff members unpacking many, many boxes of George Harrison’s 1970 triple LP All Things Must Pass. Does anyone see an album that definitely dates this at 1971? I thought I saw Elton John’s 11-17-70 but it was actually his self-titled album. Fascinating to see 8-track cassettes being sold in large quantities and also, not ironically.

Hey, that clerk is smoking!! Surely he was risking a fine?? Oh, what am I talking about, this is 1971, nobody gave a hoot about stuff like that. (There’s even an ashtray on the checkout counter.) At least two handsome pooches are also depicted, I can’t imagine they were letting dogs in by the time 2005 rolled around.

There’s a lingering shot of someone thumbing through a new copy of the Schwann Stereo Record Guide. I’m going to assume that this was an essential bit of stereophile literature, but it’s before my time. I was a little surprised to see that the familiar red-on-yellow typeface was already in place this early.

I’ve been a CD/mp3 person for most of my life, but last autumn I finally gave in to the LP impulse—this is the most mouth-watering thing I’m likely to see all week. Luckily Amoeba Records has already done the bloggers of 2056 a big favor by thoroughly documenting the scene there, including live performances and inviting fun people to spend a hundred bucks in the store during their “What’s In My Bag?” web series.
 

 
Here’s a promo for Tower Records that John Lennon taped during an in-studio radio appearance on KHJ in 1974. The album he was promoting was Walls and Bridges. This cute montage uses a whole lot of Professor Forney’s footage. (You can actually see Paul McCartney’s first album, which is a little odd.)
 

 
via Wax Poetics & Vintage Los Angeles
 
Thank you Blue Arrow Records of Cleveland, Ohio!
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘Wattstax’: The ‘Black Woodstock’ music festival


 
The Watts Riots are often referred to by lefties as “The Watts Rebellion.” While both are technically accurate descriptions, “rebellion” is considered the preferable word by sympathists, since “riot” has a negative connotation. For me, the word “riot” lacks any moralist stigma, since rioting has historically played a necessary role in the resistance of oppressed people. I also think “riots” paints a more identifiable picture.

In addition to less explicit economic discrimination, the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles was plagued with racist attacks from both white gangs and and a militarized police force (sound familiar?). The 1965 events that incited the riots are convoluted, but (briefly) a black man was arrested for driving under the influence, his brother (who was was a passenger), left to inform the man’s mother, who showed up to the arrest. There was a physical altercation, all three black citizens were arrested, and onlookers from the neighborhood began throwing things at the cops.

Eight days later, 34 deaths, 1,032 injuries and 3,952 arrests. 600 businesses were destroyed and over $40 million was done in damages over a 46-square mile-area.
 

 
In 1972, Stax Records put on a concert featuring their artists to commemorate the riots. Tickets for the Wattstax music festival (held in the massive L.A. Coliseum) were sold for $1 each to keep the event affordable for working class Los Angeles residents. Mel Stuart, who had just directed Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (a box-office bomb, despite its classic status), documented the concert in Wattstax, the electric results of which you see below. Wattstax has been shorthanded as “The Black Woodstock,” but it’s so much more.

The film is something greater than a record of fantastic concert footage, though the performances from artists like The Staples Singers, Isaac Hayes and The Bar-Kays are mind-blowing. It’s the interviews with Watts residents, who reflect on their lives and politics and what has and hasn’t changed since the riots, that really make the film. Richard Pryor serves as a kind of Greek chorus, and his interactions with the crowd are hilarious and full of humanity. You’ll notice that nearly the entire audience defiantly stays seated during Kim Weston’s rendition of the national anthem.

If you want a good clip to sample, there’s a fantastic bit starting around the 38:30 mark where Richard Pryor riffs on black identity (and pork). It then cuts to The Bar-Kays (looking like a heavenly choir from outer space), who do a blistering version of “Son of Shaft.”
 

 
Via Open Culture

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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