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Nick Cave’s life & work come alive in a stunning new 328-page graphic novel ‘Nick Cave: Mercy on Me’
10.17.2017
07:48 am
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An illustration by Reinhard Kleist from his new graphic novel, ‘Nick Cave: Mercy on Me.’
 

“Floods, fire, and frogs leapt out of my throat,” he explained. “Though I had no notion of that then, God was talking not just to me but through me, and His breath stank. I was a conduit for a God that spoke in a language written in bile and puke. And for a while, that suited me fine.”

—Nick Cave ruminates on God during a broadcast by BBC Radio 3 Religious Services in 1996. Read/listen to it here.

From his origins growing up in Australia glued to The Johnny Cash Show, to his days with The Birthday Party and later The Bad Seeds—author and illustrator Reinhard Kleist has left no stone unturned when it comes to his exploration of Nick Cave’s life in his new graphic novel, Nick Cave: Mercy on Me.

Kleist uses his dark and striking illustrations to help bring out emotions such as dread, desperation, persistence, and revelation as they witness Cave’s life and long career, from his huge-hair and heroin days with The Birthday Party to his more polished yet still antagonistic times with The Bad Seeds. The book even incorporates things from 2014’s documentary, 20,000 Days On Earth. Like life in general, the book is often a grim ride—especially when it concerns Cave’s early days in and out of addiction clinics and his time in Berlin—which, according to Cave, was a moment in his life where he felt “quite lost.” There he met Christoph Dreher, founder of the post-rock band Die Haut whom Cave credits with “basically keeping him alive” for a few years (you can see a blistering performance by Cave with Die Haut back in 1992, which is depicted in Kleist’s book, here). If you’re wondering how the legendarily cantankerous Mr. Cave feels about Kleist’s book, here’s more on that directly from the man himself:

“Reinhard Kleist, master graphic novelist, and myth-maker has - yet again - blown apart the conventions of the graphic novel by concocting a terrifying conflation of Cave songs, biographical half-truths and complete fabulations and creating a complex, chilling and completely bizarre journey into Cave World. Closer to the truth than any biography, that’s for sure! But for the record, I never killed Elisa Day.”

Stop me if I’m wrong, but I do believe that Cave just gave Kleist two goth-thumbs up for his efforts. I agree with Cave’s assessment of Kleist’s work, and if you are at all of a fan of Nick Cave, I recommend picking this book up right away. An English version of the graphic novel (which was initially published in German), can be found here. In case there is still any doubt that you need this book, I’ve posted a large collection of Kleist’s starkly beautiful illustrations from Nick Cave: Mercy on Me, below.
 

An illustration from ‘Nick Cave: Mercy on Me,’ Reinhard Kleist.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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10.17.2017
07:48 am
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John Peel asks original punks the Mekons, the Slits & others about ‘punk, publicity and profit’
10.16.2017
11:42 am
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The Mekons
 
On October 6, 1978, on BBC Radio One, John Peel touted a TV program on which he appeared, to air the next week, on October 12—exactly 39 years ago last Thursday, as it happens. Here’s what Peel said: “The UK Subs are on Omnibus on next Thursday evening on BBC-1 television, along with the Mekons, the Slits, Jim Pursey, Alternative TV, the Desperate Bicycles, and the playlist committee among other things, and my good self, seen heading a football with more skill than I bet you imagined I had.”

Omnibus was a popular arts program that was in existence from 1967 through 2003. Peel’s documentary was titled “The Record Machine.” Recently the BBC Archive Twitter feed dropped a fascinating supercut from the doc featuring prominent punk bands discussing, often with great subtlety and insight, some of the issues bands were facing as to the ethical status of promotion, publicity, and product.

As the punk movement moved past its initial impact, bands had to confront some basic questions about the meaning of touring and releasing albums—in short, adopting punk as a career—when the underpinnings of the movement included a rejection of established modes and a commitment to the community of downtrodden and frustrated youth. As astute in the interviewer’s seat as he is as a DJ, Peel consistently presses the bands to explain where their heads are at in terms of signing contracts, releasing “product,” touring, and generally balancing the conflicting aims of gratifying fans, preserving artistic integrity, and making some goddamned money!
 

The Slits
 
In Leeds, Mekons manager Mick Wixey snarks that “we’re not on the verge of retirement yet” and registers the injustice of having to make an impact in London in order to get signed to a label. Jimmy Pursey of Sham 69 ruminates on the necessity of allying oneself with an established label in order to finance the process of touring before asserting that Sham 69 saved punk. Ari Up of the Slits whips a soccer ball at Peel’s head just when he’s trying to ask whether the Slits feel any political commitment to working with smaller labels (Viv Albertine says “nah”).

Mark Perry of Alternative TV—who earlier had put out one of the first punk zines, Sniffin’ Glue—relates how bummed out he was when the Clash signed with CBS and registers his disgust at the “two pound fifty” the Buzzcocks were charging for tickets at the time. The most epigrammatic of the bunch might be the UK Subs’ Charlie Harper, who reports that “we done a gig for fourteen pound—and we lost two quid.” Ouch.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.16.2017
11:42 am
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They Were There: Composite photos of Queen, Jagger, Beatles and Floyd on London streets then and now

00qhfhs918.jpg
 
I’m reliably told that photographs are polysemous—that is they have multiple meanings which can change depending on mood or understanding of what the image represents. Seems legit.

So let’s take, for example, the picture posted above of three long-haired guys hanging around some city street in the 1970s. It kinda looks like a regular snap of buddies hanging together. But, as soon as we realize its a pic of John Deacon, Roger Taylor, and a rather cool-looking Freddie Mercury of Queen, this picture takes on a whole new meaning.

Now that we know who it is, we probably want to know where this picture of Freddie and co. was taken. The trio was photographed standing outside 143 Wardour Street, Soho, London, in 1974. Next, I suppose we might ask, What were they doing here? Well, from what I can gather, it was taken during a break in the recording of the band’s second album, Queen II at Trident Studios directly opposite. Then we might inspect the image to glean what feelings these young nascent superstars are showing.

Photographer Watal Asanuma beautifully captured the personalities of these three very different individuals (and to an extent their hopes and ambitions) in a seemingly unguarded moment. Queen was on the cusp of their chart success with the “Seven Seas of Rhye” and the imminent release of “Killer Queen.” This photo now has a historical importance because of what we know this trio (and Brian May) went on to achieve.

I guess some of us might even want to go and visit the location to see where exactly Freddie or Roger or John stood and maybe even recreate the photo for the LOLs. It’s a way of paying homage and drawing history into our lives.

For those who can’t make it all the way to London, Music History, the Twitter presence of Rock Walk London, has been compiling selections of such pictures and making composites of the original image with a photo of what the location looks like today. Okay, so it saves the airfare but more importantly It’s a fun and simple way of bringing to life London’s rich history of pop culture in a single image.

If you like this kinda thing and want to see more, then follow Music History here.
 
01musichistoryqueen.jpg
 
09musichistorylondonq.jpg
 
02musichistoryqueen.jpg
 
More then and now pix of Jagger, Clash, Floyd, and more, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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10.16.2017
11:34 am
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Alastair Riddell & Space Waltz: New Zealand’s answer to David Bowie were a teen sensation in 1974
10.16.2017
10:02 am
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Space Waltz
 
Haling from Auckland, Space Waltz were a New Zealand glam band, fronted by singer/guitarist/songwriter Alastair Riddell. After a major TV appearance that shocked the country, Riddell and Space Waltz were overnight sensations, but their success was short-lived.

Riddell formed Space Waltz in 1973, though they were originally called Stewart and the Belmonts. After deciding to focus on Riddell’s songs rather than the cover material they were playing, they changed their name to Space Waltz in 1974. Once the group solidified, Riddell’s bandmates were Greg Clark (guitar), Peter Cuddihy (bass), Brent Eccles (drums), and Tony Raynor (keyboards)
 
Early lineup of Space Waltz
An early version of Space Waltz.

Looking to get the most eyes and ears on their new group, Space Waltz determined they should try out for the Studio One—New Faces TV talent contest. Their subsequent audition was a success and soon the group would be seen by a national audience. With a panel of judges and a variety show format—largely consisting of schlocky middle-of-the-road performers—the program was American Idol meets The Ed Sullivan Show. On the August 21, 1974 episode of Studio One—New Faces, Space Waltz were the final act of the evening. Performing Riddell’s “Out on the Street,” the unit—especially their singer—made quite an impression. As Riddell later put it, adults across the country were “shocked and appalled” by his band.
 

 
Global Glam and Popular Music: Style and Spectacle from the 1970s to the 2000s is a 2016 collection of scholarly essays concerning the glam genre. In the piece “Spotting the Rare Sequined Kiwi: Three Approaches to Glam Rock in 1970s New Zealand,” author Ian Chapman writes about Space Waltz’s TV debut and how it impacted New Zealand’s youth:

The younger members of both studio and television audiences reacted to “Out on the Street” with unbridled enthusiasm, while Riddell’s energetic stage presence and unique appearance found similar favor. Performing in make-up and lipstick and wearing a flamboyant costuming, Riddell’s vocals were highly affected while his strutting, posing, and general air of commanding confidence engendered a wide range of reactions, again largely depending upon the age of the viewer.

Space Waltz were instantly famous in New Zealand, with EMI signing the band before the TV competition even ended. At the time, David Bowie was one of the most popular glam artists in New Zealand and Riddell was viewed as the country’s version of Ziggy Stardust.
 
Out on the Street poster
 
“Out on the Street” was rush-released as a single, in order to coincide with Space Waltz’s second television appearance, which would be the Studio One—New Faces finale. The group did another Riddell original, “Beautiful Boy,” with Mike Chunn from Split Enz on bass. Ultimately, they don’t end up with enough votes to win the New Faces contest, though it hardly mattered. Before the vote tally, one judge on the panel exclaims, “My mother hates them!” But he also praises the unit, predicting “Out on the Street” will be a hit.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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10.16.2017
10:02 am
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Every crate digger’s nightmare: Record store has ‘Whipped Cream and Other Delights’ and nothing else
10.16.2017
01:32 am
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If there’s one thing all record collectors have in common, it’s the experience of running into Whipped Cream & Other Delights by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass innumerable times…. like literally, every time you go into a record store you haven’t been to already. If you’re flipping through the A rack or the H rack (different stores do it different ways), then at some point you’re quite likely to flip past the familiar green image of a comely lass (Dolores Erickson was her name) wearing nothing but an impossible quantity of a cream-like substance (it was actually shaving cream, and she was pregnant at the time).

Released in 1965, Whipped Cream & Other Delights was the fourth album Alpert put out, and it was one of the most massive successes of pop music history—which explains its ubiquity in today’s used wax market—everybody’s parents had the fucking thing. (Knowledgeable music fans will know that it appeared on A&M Records, primarily because the “A” in A&M Records stands for “Alpert.”)

According to Wikipedia, more than 6 million copies of the album were sold, and unlike later eras there was no question about what format it appeared in—for many years it was vinyl or nothing…. It’s the National Geographic of albums, every record store owner comes across it all the time. Hell, even Maude in The Big Lebowski owns a copy.
 

 
Last week Dave Taylor, who runs Weirdsville Records in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, on the northern edge of Detroit, pulled a funny kind of prank when he decided to switch up the visual look of his store for an hour or two. You can see the results above and below—a full wall of Whipped Cream & Other Delights and Whipped Cream & Other Delights fronting every bin! (Yes, in case you were wondering, the unseen albums in the bins are not all Alpert’s masterpiece, they’re just regular albums.)

Anyone who would name his store Weirdsville and would transform it into a shrine to Herb Alpert is OK by me. I reached out to Taylor and got him to discuss the stunt. His amusing opening salvo went like this: “Every day we get records in. There will be AT LEAST 2 of these in every stack! 9 out of 10 households had this record! It’s a great record and who can’t love this cover?”

One of the most interesting aspects of the display is that Taylor went out of his way to make sure customers understood that the copies are not for sale. Taylor says that he has about 75 copies of the album, and sheepishly admitted that he is “stockpiling the Herb.” A couple years ago DM introduced readers to Rutherford Chang, who is quixotically trying to corner the market in the Beatles’ White Album, and Taylor has seemingly cemented his status as one of the world’s leading Whipped Cream & Other Delights collector—although in this case many used record store proprietors might have a head start in terms of catching up to him!
 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.16.2017
01:32 am
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Jozef van Wissem buries the dead in his new video ‘Virium Illarum,’ a DM premiere
10.13.2017
07:16 am
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The composer with holy book, custom lute and Thoreau essay

Writers usually describe Jozef van Wissem as a composer who plays the lute, which might create the mistaken impression that his music sounds like the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble. It’s closer to stoner rock. Some DM readers will know his collaborations with Gary Lucas of the Magic Band, Zola Jesus, and Jim Jarmusch. His excellent score for Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive won the Cannes Soundtrack Award in 2013.

Van Wissem says his new album, Nobody Living Can Ever Make Me Turn Back, is “a follow up of sorts” to music he wrote for the National Gallery in 2008 to accompany Hans Holbein the Younger’s painting “The Ambassadors,” an image “famous for its anamorphic skull.” Everything on this record is a reminder of mortality, from Cindy Wright’s cover art to the 13 ringing minutes of “Our Bones Lie Scattered Before The Pit.”

Though the album’s title sounds vaguely like something you might find inscribed in Latin on the walls of the Paris Catacombs, or in Greek in an Orphic temple, it’s actually the penultimate line of “This Land Is Your Land”:

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

Van Wissem seems to ask, What about the dead?
 

Cindy Wright’s cover art for ‘Nobody Living Can Ever Make Me Turn Back’
 
In the video for the album’s first track, “Virium Illarum” (Latin for “of those powers”), van Wissem and Jacopo Benassi find a use for their set of matryoshka coffins. Director Federico Pepe explains what they’re up to:

A single moment can make a life, a simple shade of a happening can become stone in our memory, a voice once heard can be guidance for a lifetime. That means that they all deserve to be categorized or “buried” in our minds and souls with the same importance.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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10.13.2017
07:16 am
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Weird Al announces tour of all original material—no parodies
10.13.2017
06:15 am
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Weird Al Yankovic has maintained a 41-year-long career, with a string of hit singles, four grammy awards, and six platinum records, hanging on longer than most “serious” pop stars. Weird Al doing a parody of one of your songs is generally the point when you realize you’ve “made it” as a musician.

Hardcore fans of Weird Al, “Weird Alcoholics,” know that each of his albums contain a few original Al-penned tracks. Besides being the most successful song-parody artist of all time (of Al time, even?) Weird Al Yankovic, is a brilliant comedy songwriter.

This week Weird Al announced via social media that he was preparing a national tour of intimate venues in an Unplugged or Storytellers type setting, where his band would perform stripped-down versions of “almost exclusively” original songs and no parodies.

In his announcement, he addresses his fans that might be expecting a big spectacle and hit songs, warning, ” if you’ve really got your heart set on seeing fat suits and Segways and hearing all your favorite parodies… this probably isn’t the tour for you.”

It might sound like I’m trying to talk people into NOT buying tickets… Actually, I just want people to be very aware of the nature of this tour so that they can make an informed decision now and not be disappointed later. Having said that, I know that there’s a small but enthusiastic subset of fans that literally have been waiting decades for this kind of a show, so… this tour is for them. And me. And the band. After putting on “multimedia extravaganzas” for 35 years, we just wanted to take it down a few notches and have a little musical palate cleanser.

Because all my concerts in the past were so highly produced, they needed to be rigidly planned down to the SECOND, and therefore the shows were virtually identical from one city to the next. But since this tour is unencumbered by theatrics, we have a lot more flexibility. So… EVERY SINGLE SHOW WILL BE DIFFERENT. We’re going deep into the catalog and mixing up the setlist every night. This show will be loose, unpredictable, and maybe a little sloppy – we’ll be making it up as we go along.

On a personal note, Weird Al was my first concert. I saw him as a kid on the In 3-D tour. I was a huge fan at the time. Weird Al was the first artist I ever wrote a fan letter to (which he responded to with a hand-written note on a promo glossy telling me “don’t forget to eat your broccoli!”)

As I got older, I eventually lost interest in following his career or releases, though I’ve always held a huge amount of respect for him as an American treasure. This announcement is the first time I’ve genuinely been excited about seeing Al perform again. I plan to attend one of these shows and think it will make a great bookend to not having seen him since the In 3-D tour. It’s kind of like if you watched Rocky and then never watched another Rocky movie until Rocky Balboa.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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10.13.2017
06:15 am
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Robyn Hitchcock and Graham Coxon cover Syd Barrett’s ‘Octopus’ for new Philip K. Dick TV series


 
Right now Channel 4 in the U.K. is running Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams—U.S. viewers will be able to see it once it gets on Amazon Prime next year. To my eye the series appears to be an almost slavish attempt to recapitulate the magic of Charlie Brooker’s dazzling Black Mirror, but really, any excuse to adapt ten early-period Philip K. Dick short stories with movie stars and high production values is A-OK with me.

The series was developed by Michael Dinner (Chicago Hope) and Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica) and features, in the various episodes, such familiar faces as Steve Buscemi, Bryan Cranston, Anna Paquin, Vera Farmiga, Terence Howard, and Greg Kinnear.

Episode list:
“The Hood Maker” (originally published in 1955)
“The Impossible Planet” (1953)
“The Commuter”  (1953)
“Crazy Diamond” (“Sales Pitch,” 1954)
“Real Life” (“The Exhibit Piece,” 1954)
“Human Is”  (1955)
“Kill All Others” (Published as “The Hanging Stranger,” 1953)
“Autofac” (1955)
“Safe And Sound” (Published as “Foster, You’re Dead!” in 1955)
“Father Thing” (Published as “The Father-Thing,” 1954)

In connection with the visionary themes of solipsism, madness, and unhinged reality, the series’ makers recruited Robyn Hitchcock and Graham Coxon of Blur, Kevin Armstrong, Johnny Daukes, and Jon Estes to collaborate on a cover of “Octopus,” by rock and roll’s most famous mental ward occupant, Syd Barrett. “Octopus” is the first song on the second side of Barrett’s first solo album, 1970’s The Madcap Laughs. One thing that sets “Octopus” apart is that this is the song in which the lyric “the madcap laughs” appears.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.12.2017
02:08 pm
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‘Cocksuckers’ Ball’: The story behind the X-rated ‘50s doo wop song that was covered by Frank Zappa
10.12.2017
08:01 am
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FZ and the Clovers
 
In the early 1950s, a highly successful doo wop group recorded a track so filthy that if Mike Pence heard it—if his wife would let him—he’d self-destruct. The song wasn’t released. Well, not officially, anyway. Years later, a certain mother (no, not Pence’s wife) performed a version of the obscure tune for amused audiences the world over.

The Clovers were one of the most popular doo wop acts of the 1950s. From 1951-1956, they scored nineteen R&B hits for Atlantic Records, including “Fool, Fool, Fool” and “One Mint Julep”. In 1957, the risqué “Down in the Alley” was released, but didn’t chart. Their final hit Leiber & Stoller’s “Love Potion No. 9,” came in 1959.

In his 2011 book, Filthy English: the How, Why, When and What of Everyday Swearing, author Peter Silverton wrote about an usual Clovers recording session:

In 1953, doo wop group the Clovers turned up for a session at their record label Atlantic’s central Manhattan studio. They told their label boss and producer, Ahmet Ertegun, that they wanted to record something of their own this time. This was something of a surprise to [Ertegun]. Like most R&B acts of the day, the Clovers sang songs that were given to them to sing. Still, they were one of Atlantic’s biggest acts. So, he decided to humor their request to record one of their own songs. They stepped up to the mikes. The engineer set the tape rolling.

Singing acapella, the group laid down a track that surely shocked Ertegun with its over-the-top raunchiness. The name of the song? “Rotten Cocksuckers’ Ball.”

 
The Clovers
 
What the Clovers recorded was a parody of the jazz standard “The Darktown Strutters’ Ball,” which written in 1917. Here’s a version sung by Ella Fitzgerald from 1936:
 

 
The term “Darktown” was a reference to a Chicago neighborhood. “Darktown” is outdated language and surely offensive to most in 2017, but there wasn’t any racist intent by the composer, Shelton Brooks, who was black. Read an interesting, in-depth analysis of the song here.

If you’re an American and at all wondering about the use of the term “cock” in “Rotten Cocksuckers’ Ball,” you’re not alone. In the north, “cock” is slang for penis, but in the south, for hundreds of years “cock” referred to female genitalia. That’s largely changed in the past couple of decades, but was still in vogue when the Clovers recorded the song. So, we can surmise how the members of the group—who hailed from Washington D.C., which is below the Mason-Dixon line—used the word.
 
The Clovers
 
As you may have guessed, the Clovers’ X-rated send-up wasn’t meant for public consumption, but it did eventually make it out into the world, obviously. It appears it was first bootlegged on record in the early 1970s. The version embedded here is taken from the compilation, Copulatin’ Blues, Volume 2.
 
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Frank Zappa was a Clovers fan, and his love of doo wop, in general, is well documented, with the genre proving to be an influence throughout his career. You can hear it on such FZ records as Freak Out! (1966), the first Mothers of Invention full-length, and Cruising with Ruben & the Jets (1968), Frank’s homage to doo wop and early R&B. The Mothers 1970 album Burnt Weenie Sandwich opens with a cover of a doo wop song by the Four Deuces, “WPLJ.”

Zappa had a fondness for lyrics that the general public would consider “off color,” and for his 1984 world tour he worked up his own version of “Rotten Cocksuckers’ Ball.”

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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10.12.2017
08:01 am
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Say hi to ‘Teenar’ the guitar made from an armless mannequin of a teenage girl
10.11.2017
09:56 am
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A close look at “Teenar: The Girl Guitar” a creation by Lou Reimuller.
 
So before you shout “HELL NO” after seeing this image of “Teenar: The Girl Guitar” you should know that it is the creation of the rather talented luthier Lou Reimuller. Now that we have that out of the way, here are some technical specs on Teenar as I know you gearheads must be wondering if you can play ‘er. The short answer is yes as Teenar is a fully functional geetar with 21 frets on her neck and two single-coil pickups that have been embedded into her torso.

Reimuller caused quite a stir on the Internet when his creation made the rounds back in early 2000s—and if you’ve never seen it before it’s not something that I think you’ll easily forget even if you try. Images of the terrifying Teenar follow.
 

“Teenar” and her creator, Lou Reimuller (pictured in the bottom left corner).
 
HT: Amy Crehore

Posted by Cherrybomb
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10.11.2017
09:56 am
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