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Frank Zappa & the Monkees: ‘No, YOU’RE the popular musician, I’M dirty gross and ugly’


 
The Monkees are often referred to as the “Pre-Fab Four” in reference to the fact that they were a TV knock-off of the Beatles, recruited from a help wanted ad in Variety. Still, no matter how “uncool” they were supposed to be, the Monkees casting was a rare example of stroke of genius by committee. It’s difficult to imagine anyone but the four of them having the same chemistry, both comedically and (eventually) musically. And to further refute their “uncool” rep, John Lennon called them “the Marx Brothers of Rock” (he was right about that) and the Beatles even hosted a party for the Monkees in London when they toured England. (Furthermore, Mike Nesmith was present at the Abbey Road recording sessions for “A Day in the Life” and Peter Tork played banjo on George Harrison’s eclectic Wonderwall soundtrack).

Even that most far-out of the really far-out musicians of the day, Frank Zappa himself, made not just one, but two onscreen appearances with the Monkees: First in a TV segment where Mike pretended to be Frank and vice versa (which certainly foreshadowed Ringo Starr’s portrayal of Zappa in 200 Motels) before they destroyed a car with a sledgehammer to the tune of “Mother People,” and again in a brief cameo in Head.
 

 
Zappa’s Head cameo, after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Watch The Fall break up into a million shards, live at Brownie’s in NYC, 1998
03.26.2015
10:19 am

Topics:
Crime
Music
Punk

Tags:
The Fall


 
This exchange happened after the Fall’s gig at Brownie’s on the Lower East Side of NYC on April 7, 1998:
 

Fan 1: “That was the scariest thing I ever saw. Now I know who I want to go as for Halloween.”
Fan 2: “You mean Mark E. Smith? You don’t understand…he’s not usually like this.”
Fan 1: “Oh, that’s too bad. I feel like I finally saw my first real punk band! That was the greatest show I ever saw in my life.”

 
That reaction merely scratched the surface of what happened that night. An actual fight broke out between longtime Fall drummer Karl Burns and frontman Mark E. Smith midway through the set. Before the sun would rise the next morning, Mark E. Smith would be arrested for assault. Even more momentously, it would emerge that the three members of the then-quintet who left the stage in the middle of the final song had played their last Fall gig ever, including Burns, who had been with the band since 1977, and Steve Hanley, the Fall’s utterly essential bassist who had been slogging it out with Mark E. Smith since 1979. The combination of Hanley and guitarist Craig Scanlon, who had left the band in 1995, was every bit as crucial to the Fall’s elusive brilliance during the early 1980s as MES himself, as can be witnessed on such phenomenal albums as Perverted by Language, This Nation’s Saving Grace, and Hex Enduction Hour. (Few pieces of music bring me as much joy as the lengthy “Garden” off of Perverted by Language.)

It couldn’t have been easy being such a close compadre of volatile genius/crabapple Mark E. Smith for two decades, but in April 1998 frustrations boiled over. Three days earlier, tempers had flared during a show in Philadelphia; Hanley and Smith got into a “fight,” according to WPRB DJs who attended the gig, and half the band quit the stage in disgust, leaving just Smith and keyboardist Julia Nagle on the stage (which would happen again a few days later at Brownie’s). After the show there was an extensive discussion of the fracas on WPRB (this clip is very entertaining). Julia’s rebuttal, written ten years after the fact, can be found here, along with that clip:
 

the UK tour prior to the US had also been a shambles, as the group had received a large VAT/TAX bill and were not happy chickens (threats of houses being lost etc. were the main topic of conversation or argument). Also, regarding to the incident at the beginning of the US tour, I defended myself with my fists during an argument about sharing a room with Mark and in the morning he had a black eye from that fracas. (there were many fracas’s during this time in The Falls history and they were nothing to be proud of).

 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Wendy O. Williams, The Misfits, Black Flag—collect ‘em all with these vintage punk trading cards!


 
Totally in love with these cheap little vintage punk rock trading cards. Today we truly live in a post-punk world! Chain gas stations sell Misfits Zippos to oblivious rednecks! Hot Topic has monetized every band under the sun by slapping their logos on everything short of your first-born! Isn’t there something kind of quaint about this modest old school attempt to capitalize off punk fandom? The awkward little captions, the trademarks and copyrights over what I’m almost sure are fair-use press photos—it was a more innocent time of hucksterism!

I assume the cards didn’t move that well, considering these all came from 1981/82 editions of Punk Lives magazine (forget the copyright, most of these bands didn’t even exist in 1978). Perhaps whoever thought them up overestimated the archivist tendencies of early punk rocker, but I like the kitsch of such obsolete tinpot swag. Note early incarnation of The Cult with fresh-faced Ian Astbury; and Mark Chung and FM Einheit, later of Einstürzende Neubauten, back when they were in the Abwarts.
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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When Joni Mitchell recorded with Cheech & Chong…
03.26.2015
06:19 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Joni Mitchell
Cheech & Chong


 
Not that I need to hear another word about what a magical place California was in the 1970s for the rest of my life, but I guess it must really have been something if it could bring Joni Mitchell together with Cheech & Chong. In Cheech & Chong: The Unauthorized Autobiography, Chong says that Mitchell was romantically involved with Cheech, and that she witnessed the conception of the duo’s immortal teen rebellion anthem, “Earache My Eye.” The place is Malibu, the year 1972:

Cheech rented a house in the Hollywood Hills and became the party guy in town. Without [former girlfriend] Barbie he was a free man. While he dated a bevy of eligible Hollywood ladies, one in particular fed my admiration for the Cheech charm. Joni Mitchell, the genius Canadian songwriter, was entangled with Cheech for a while. Gaye Delorme, the guitarist, was staying with Cheech when Joni was over with David Geffen, who was Joni’s personal manager at the time. Gaye was trying to convince Joni to buy a Canadian-built acoustic guitar, but David Geffen shot the deal down when he said he didn’t especially like the guitar. David knew the music business and Joni respected his opinion, so she passed on the guitar. This did not stop the Canadian from trying. Gaye wrote the music and the riff for a tune soon to be known as “Earache My Eye”... or “Mama Talking to Me.” Gaye came up with the music and the first line, “Mama talking to me,” and I added, “trying to tell me how to live, but I don’t listen to her cause my head is like a sieve… My daddy he disowned me cause I wear my sister’s clothes. He caught me in the basement with a pair of panty hose.”

The story ends abruptly in the book, but Chong picks it up again in this recent interview with Rolling Stone:

That was a trip, too, because [Gaye] was staying with Cheech at that time, and Cheech was dating Joni Mitchell—or at least he went out with Joni Mitchell one time—and there was Joni Mitchell and David Geffen, and Gaye Delorme came out of the bedroom, and he said “Listen,” and he played the [“Earache My Eye”] riff.

 

 
On Court and Spark, Mitchell enlisted Cheech & Chong to contribute a few spoken lines to her rendition of “Twisted,” a jazz song by singer Annie Ross and saxophonist Wardell Gray. Ross recorded the song with the vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, a group Mitchell refers to as “my Beatles”:

In high school, theirs was the record I wore thin, the one I knew all the words to.

 

 
Biographer Mark Bego writes that “Twisted” was the first song Mitchell recorded that she had not written herself. She paid Cheech & Chong a high compliment, so to speak, by inviting them to fill in for the other two members of the trio she idolized as a teenager. If this jazz thing is too sophisticated for you, fast forward to 1:47 to hear Cheech and Chong’s cameo.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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The Wrecks: Raging early 80’s proto-riot-grrl hardcore band’s demo, gloriously resurrected for you
03.25.2015
07:10 am

Topics:
Feminism
Music
Punk

Tags:
punks
The Wrecks


 
The Wrecks were a raging early ‘80s, all-female, hardcore band from the “Skeeno Hardcore” scene of Reno, Nevada. Considered by Seven Seconds to be a “sister band,” they were a bit of an anomaly at the time—four teenage girls playing ultra noisy, brutal hardcore. Certainly, they were mining similar musical and thematic territory that Bikini Kill would become famous for ten years later. Their “claim to fame” was a single song, “Punk is an Attitude”, which was included on the widely-distributed Not So Quiet on the Western Front compilation LP, released by Maximumrockandroll magazine in 1982. Their drummer, Lynn, went on to play with hardcore gods, The Dicks. Watch some incredible footage of her Dicks tenure here.
 

 
Lynn of Reno’s The Wrecks. Touch and Go #19

The excellent blog One Chord is Enough has a detailed post compiling several vintage reviews and interviews with The Wrecks:

“This band hails from Reno, Nevada and is composed of four teenage girls that do mostly all hardcore material. The nine songs on this tape are definitely not of the slam’n'thrash variety but are more akin to art damage, sorta like Flipper. Anyway everything here is original and well, kinda weird. Broken-up rhythms and strange singing abound but this stuff really does grab ya after repeated listenings. Also the lyrics are top notch and these girls definitely have something to say! They deal with subjects such as high school, Cuban refugees, and the all important question about drug use. What ya got here is a fairly rewarding tape from a rebellious crew of teenage girls ready to shake up the system.” Frankie DeAngelis (Ripper #7, May 1982)

 

 

“The Wrecks were one of the first all-female hardcore punk bands. They rocked Reno from 1980 to 1982. Two of the members went on to form the still-active Imperial Teen: Lynn Truell and Jone Stebbins. Lynn was just named one of the 100 best alternative-rock drummers by Spin magazine, which neglected her time in The Wrecks but included her drumming in The Dicks and Sister Double Happiness.” Mark Robison

 
Hear the Wrecks after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Discussion
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‘The Game is Over’: Previously unreleased Ministry song from 1983
03.25.2015
04:52 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Ministry
Al Jourgensen


 
In late 1983, after completing the With Sympathy tour, Ministry hunkered down at Pierce Arrow Recorders in Evanston, IL, to write and demo new music. Four songs were tracked in what would be just about the last gasp of the band’s first incarnation. The band’s singer/guitarist/keyboardist Alain Jourgensen, keyboardist Robert Roberts, and drummer Stephen George were joined by touring bassist Brad Hallen to work on the songs “The Game Is Over,” “Let’s Be Happy,” “Same Old Scene,” and “Wait,” none of which were ever officially released.

Which may have been because the band was about to change dramatically. Founding keyboardist John Davis was already out, and Roberts would exit for good soon after these sessions, and while George and Hallen would remain on board in diminishing capacities, appearing last in a remix of song that made its way onto the Twitch LP, Jourgensen’s increasing interest in the danceable industrial music typified by Cabaret Voltaire was steering Ministry away from the dark synthpop they’d been pursuing, and towards the much more aggressive sound of the band’s lasting fame. But from what one can hear of those four dead-end demos, Ministry may well have evolved satisfyingly even without such a major sea change. Here’s “The Game is Over.” It’s never been heard before—I couldn’t even find it bootlegged, and believe me, I hunted. It’s of a piece with all of Ministry’s early work, but, and perhaps this is due to the prominence given bassist Hallen, it feels more organic and flexible than With Sympathy, and more in line with the band’s live recordings from that era.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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‘How the Rules of Evidence Handcuff the Piano Man’ and more from the Billy Joel law conference
03.24.2015
09:11 am

Topics:
Crime
Music

Tags:
Billy Joel
lawyers


Billy Joel surveys the damage done by a rock-throwing hoodlum
 
If you’re like me, you can’t hear the Billy Joel song “All for Leyna” without wondering whether Leyna would have benefited a solid grounding in tort and accident law. And Brenda and Eddie, from “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” who “got a divorce as a matter of course,” who represented them in that legal matter? Well,  wonder no more.

In Central Islip, NY, legal scholars from all over North America gathered to honor Long Island’s foremost bard, Billy Joel with academia’s most esteemed form of celebration: the academic conference. Yes, that’s right: the Touro Law Center hosted a two-day conference called “Billy Joel and the Law” at the Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center on March 22 and 23.

The program promised the following: “Speakers at the conference will include judges, lawyers, law professors, and music scholars, who will discuss ways in which Billy Joel’s work relates to American law, society, and culture.” The brainy festivities included “a wine and cheese reception with musical performances related to the educational content of the program.” No, in case you were wondering, Billy Joel did not supply the music for the conference. 

There were the usual paper titles that played on Joel’s song and album titles, such as “Downeaster Alexa: a Perfect Storm of Regulations,” “Behind the Nylon Curtain: Billy Joel, the Reagan Revolution, and the Unraveling of the ‘Me’ Generation,” and “The Minstrel Testifies or How the Rules of Evidence Handcuff the Piano Man.” How did they neglect to do anything with “You May Be Right.” And not a single mention of “Lawyers in Love”!! (Oh wait, that’s Jackson Browne.)

Here’s my best guess as to what Billy Joel would have looked like had he not become a rock and roll troubadour but instead had decided to become a law professor:
 

 
via Lawyers, Guns, and Money

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Are you a musician? Here’s how your art is killing you
03.24.2015
07:48 am

Topics:
Music
R.I.P.

Tags:
Dianna T. Kenny


 
A fascinating series of articles has appeared on The Conversation, probing mortality among musicians. All written by the University of Sydney’s Dianna T. Kenny, the first compared the life expectancies of musicians and non-musicians (quelle surprise, musicians lost), and the second examined and debunked the “27 Club” phenomenon. But the third piece is a doozy—it breaks down musician deaths not just by age but by gender and genre. The article is worth reading—all three are, and actually, if you’re not reading The Conversation yet, just get on that already—but this chart sums it up very nicely for the tl;dr crowd:
 

 
Notice how there’s very little difference in life expectancy between genders among musicians, as compared to the notably higher life expectancy for women in the non-musician population? Also, can you help but see that HUGE spike in women’s favor correlating with musicians in that nebulously-named “World Music” genre? I can’t even imagine why that might be. I also noted with interest that blues, jazz, and country musicians tended to outlive non-musicians.

One could make all kinds of cracks about how the more socially-disreputable genres punk, metal, and rap/hip-hop have the lowest life expectancies, but recall that those genres haven’t really been around long enough to have all that many elders. Blues, jazz and country have existed long enough to see plenty of their practitioners die of natural causes before metal was even a thing, so that right there could tend to skew the chart in favor of longevity for musicians in the NPR genres. But then, once you get to the cause of death breakdown, you see that, utterly depressingly, homicide accounts for more than half of the deaths in the black genres rap and hip-hop, while the more typically white punks and metalheads’ tendency to die young is attributable to accidents and suicides. And unsurprisingly, musicians in the more venerable genres tend to be taken by diseases of aging.
 

 
This is a morbid thought, but this post is about morbidity, so I’m rolling with it: as I’m chiefly a fan of rock music, I was a little disappointed that those ultimate rock death clichés, heroin overdose and small aircraft crash, weren’t given their own categories. In Kenny’s study, overdoses and vehicular incidents both fall under “accident,” and excessive drugs and drink could definitely explain the high number of punk and metal musicians in that category. But back in 1995, in the wake of the Kurt Cobain suicide, that great fount of underground smartassery Motorbooty magazine published “The Rock Death 200,” which similarly (and obviously somewhat cheekily) broke down 200 dead rockers and proto-rockers by age and cause of death. I can’t find it online, and I don’t feel like digging through my basement for it (if memory serves, it was issue #8, and had a blue cover, happy hunting). HOWEVER, the good Christian folk at Dial-the-Truth Ministries have published a list with very similar data, likely as a caution to young members of the flock who may find themselves tempted into sin, debauchery, gambling, ouija boards, organic foods, lots and lots of super-crazy hot nonreproductive fornication, and primetime soaps by The Devil’s Music. Their data collection (and web design) seems to come to a screeching halt in 1998, but interestingly, heart attacks edged out drug overdoses, and cancer took out more rock musicians than plane crashes. Also, drowning > AIDS > fire > choking.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Original Woodstock ads show how much of a slipshod operation the whole thing was
03.24.2015
07:16 am

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
Woodstock


 
Below you can see an original ad for the Woodstock Music & Art Festival from the August 1969 issue of Ramparts Magazine and it’s riddled with bad information including the very location of the festival itself right around a month before the whole thing was supposed to go down. Woodstock, of course, opened on August 15th of that year.
 

 
Along with the major problem of not being right about where concert goers were supposed to show up, there were also some pretty significant omissions in the ad, showing that the list of performers wasn’t quite locked down a month in advance either. Performers not listed in the ad that actually did play Woodstock include Melanie, Bert Sommer, Quill, John Sebastian, Sly and the Family Stone, Country Joe and the Fish, Ten Years After, Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Sha Na Na.

As is stated in the ad, the original location for the festival was to be in Wallkill, NY.  It was supposed to take place on the property of one Howard Mills who owned approximately 600 acres of land in the area that he eventually hoped to turn into an industrial complex. This according to the book Young Men with Unlimited Capital from 1974 written by Joel Rosenmen, John Roberts and Robert Pilpel, all planners, organizers and financiers for the event, not necessarily in that order. The book is an at times hilarious tome about the nail biting, often poorly thought-out process that led to the festival and the events on and after the legendary weekend. According to the book, Wallkill’s zoning board approved the festival on April 18th, 1969 but as the event grew nearer, the citizenry of Wallkill became increasingly concerned about the safety of their fair town if such an event were to take place. According to Young Men with Unlimited Capital, at the previously mentioned April zoning board meeting, Woodstock’s promoters were presented it as kind of an arts fair that would maybe draw forty or fifty thousand people if the event exceeded all attendance expectations. When asked what kind of music would be played, Joel Rosenmen supposedly responded with:

“I guess the best way to describe it would be, uh, folk. Basically folk. A little swing, too, maybe. A little jazz. You know.”


By July of 1969, however, some of the good people of Wallkill began to feel that they had essentially been duped, and, freaking out about the potential influx of drugs, the volume of the music, nudity and generally unsavory hippie behavior of all sorts, backed out on the deal.

Here’s a horizontal version of the above ad with the not-so-insignificant addition of Jimi Hendrix on the bill, but still listing the wrong location.
 

It’s amazing that the earlier ad didn’t even show that Hendrix was playing. Huge bonus if you already bought your eighteen-dollar weekend pass!
 
Musicians in both ads who didn’t end up playing include The Jeff Beck Group, Iron Butterfly and Moody Blues, so you were out of luck if you were planning on seeing any of those acts, I guess. The order of appearances in the ad is all out of whack as well, but the ad does state very clearly “All programs subject to change without notice.” 

A “progress report” from Young Men with Unlimited Capital shows that a month before Woodstock things were indeed far from being in ship shape:

Progress (?) Report: July 15

Land: None

Staff: Same as June, give or take twenty people. Fifty construction workers redundant

Ticket Receipts: $537,123

Talent Bookings: Shaky

Attorneys: One in New York City for Woodstock Ventures; one in New York City for film and record contracts; on in Wallkill for suing; one in New York City for political influence; one in Liberty, New York for land acquisition

Portable Toilets: Another additional 500 ordered, for a total of 2,000

Money Spent: $481,519

 

 
After losing the Wallkill site so close to go-time and suddenly facing the prospect of having to hand out $500,000 in refunds, the event organizers were understandably panicked. But, once word got out that the deal in Wallkill had fallen through and people got wind of the kind of money involved, calls started rolling in with offers of land. John Roberts says in Young Men with Unlimited Capital that Max Yasgur, owner of the farm where the Woodstock Festival actually took place offered up his land without first being approached and by July 16th, they basically had their solid location in place again. 

Not surprisingly, Joel Rosenman and John Roberts created a new ad once the final location was established and plastered it, according to Roberts, “for a week straight in every newspaper we could find.”  The new ad depicted the people of Wallkill as reactionary, armed hayseeds and promised a lawsuit at a later date in retaliation for the last-minute change of plans.
 
Woodstock Wallkill Ad
 

Posted by Jason Schafer | Discussion
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Peter Hook to perform full Joy Division catalogue, marking the 35th anniversary of Ian Curtis’ death
03.24.2015
06:27 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Joy Division
Ian Curtis
Peter Hook


 
Some amazing news via NME:

Peter Hook has announced that he will perform the complete works of Joy Division at a one-off concert at Christ Church, Macclesfield in May. The date marks exactly 35 years since the death of the band’s singer Ian Curtis.

Hook and his current band, The Light, will play every single song the band recorded in chronological order, including both studio albums ‘Unknown Pleasures’ and ‘Closer’. They will also play the posthumously released ‘Still’ as well as B-sides and rarities.

Looking ahead to the Macclesfield show, Hook added: “For the 35th anniversary I decided that to do a proper celebration we need to play all the music. It will be every song that Joy Division ever wrote and recorded in one go. It’s a bit of a marathon! It’s 48 songs, comprising all the singles, B-sides, and album tracks. You know what – there’s not a duff one in it! I wish I could say that about New Order!”

 

 
Macclesfield is the town south of Manchester, England from whence Joy Division singer Ian Curtis originally hailed, and where he kept his residence at the time of his 1980 suicide—DM recently reported on efforts to preserve Curtis’ home. Hook’s concert will be titled “So This is Permanence,” a phrase lifted from the first line of the song “Twenty Four Hours,” from the LP Closer, and which was also the title of a rather lovely book published last year, which collects Curtis’ writings.

Tickets go on sale Wednesday, March 25th at 9:00 AM, presumably GMT. Best of luck.

Enjoy this short but informative and quite good BBC segment on Curtis and Joy Division.
 

 
Bonus! Here’s Peter Hook giving a lesson on how to play JD’s signature song, “Love Will Tear us Apart.”
 

 
Much gratitude to Valerie Johnson for this find.

Previously on Dangerous Minds
The ‘rare’ ‘David Bowie’ Joy Division cover that hoaxed the internet
You knew this would happen: The inevitable Worf-Joy Division mash-up t-shirt
Ian Curtis’ original handwritten lyrics for ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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