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‘Uptown Top Ranking’: Insanely catchy reggae one-hit wonder by Althea and Donna, 1978
05.03.2016
02:22 pm

Topics:
Music
One-hit wonders

Tags:
reggae
Althea and Donna


 
“Uptown Top Ranking” is an infectious hit single that knocked Wings’ Christmas blockbuster “Mull of Kintyre” off the #1 spot on the British pop charts in February of 1978. Although it only reached that peak for a single week after climbing the charts for months, the playful and whimsical rap, performed by teenaged Althea Forrest and Donna Reid, or Althea and Donna as the duo were known, is still fondly remembered. I’m surprised it hasn’t been used in a car commercial. Perhaps it already has been?
 

 
The number was produced by reggae great Joe Gibbs, apparently for fun. Perhaps it was intended to be a novelty record of sorts, as it was a female “answer” song aimed as a comeback to Trinity’s hit “Three Piece Suit and Thing.” Both tunes utilized the riddim from a soulful and romantic Alton Ellis song from 1967 titled “I’m Still In Love with You.” It was popularized in the UK by BBC DJ John Peel.
 

 
Forrest and Reid, were just 17 and 18 years old, respectively, when their unmemorable album was recorded and frankly they probably had just the one good song in them. But hey, what an amazing song it was! Their brief Wikipedia entry doesn’t really say what happened to Althea and Donna after their brief brush with pop fame.

They were named-checked in the lyrics of the Psychedelic Furs song “We Love You” in 1980:

I’m in love with Althea and Donna and
all that shit that goes uptown top ranking

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Radiohead release new single and video for ‘Burn the Witch’: Watch it here
05.03.2016
11:45 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Radiohead


 
Here’s the video for Radiohead’s new single “Burn the Witch.” The claymation video was directed by Chris Hopewell.

As other people have said on the Internet, this is the first preview of what will be Radiohead’s ninth studio album.

I’m not sure if I like this or not. Perhaps I’ll warm up to it after a couple more plays. It’s still too hot off the presses to tell.

 
via CoS

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Meet Wilma Burgess, country music’s first openly lesbian singer
05.02.2016
04:29 pm

Topics:
Music
Queer

Tags:
Country music
Owen Bradley
Wilma Burgess


 
When country singer Chely Wright revealed to her fanbase that she was a lesbian back in 2010, many of the magazine articles at the time referenced k.d. lang or Melissa Etheridge, to name two earlier gay performers who opted to be true to themselves in public, but very few mentioned an even earlier lesbian country music singer to come out of the closet.
 

 
Actually, Wilma Burgess, who had several hit singles in the mid-1960s was never in the closet to begin with. Burgess was a protege of the great country music producer Owen Bradley, one of the chief architects of the slick, string-laden “Nashville sound” of the 50s and 60s. Bradley, who had been Patsy Cline’s producer, heard in Burgess’ powerful voice a performer able to do something similar to the deceased singer and he signed her to Decca Records in June of 1964. Interestingly Burgess was reluctant to perform teary ballads where she was singing to a man, and preferred her material to be gender neutral and ambiguous. When she did agree to sing a song like “Ain’t Got No Man” it was something she negotiated with her powerful hit-maker mentor: One song she liked but that he didn’t have to, for every one of his choices that she went along with but wasn’t too fond of. Their partnership worked well and produced several hits, most notably the Grammy-nominated “Baby,” a 1965 hit Burgess was seen singing in the Jayne Mansfield B-movie The Las Vegas Hillbillys, and “Misty Blue” in 1967.
 

 
For obvious teasons, Wilma Burgess ultimately found herself frustrated by the strict and ostensibly pious Nashville scene and left the music business in 1978. She would go on to open The Hitching Post, the first lesbian bar in Nashville, in the late 80s with the money she made during her career. Wilma Burgess died at the age of 64 from a heart attack on August 26th, 2003.
 

 
More clips of Wilma Burgess after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Gorillas make up ‘little food songs’ while they eat: Listen to them here
05.02.2016
02:38 pm

Topics:
Animals
Food
Music

Tags:
gorillas


 
According to an article by Brian Owens in New Scientist, a German scientist working in the Congo has discovered a fun new fact about gorillas, that they hum and even sing during mealtimes. Food-related calls had been documented in chimpanzees and bonobos, but never in gorillas.

But far from just vocalizing, gorillas appear to generate two different types of sound while eating. One of them was “a steady low-frequency tone” that sounds rather like a sigh of contentment, or a hum:
 

 
The other was “a series of short, differently pitched notes” which resembles “a random melody”:
 

 
And it’s not like they “sing the same song over and over,” commented Luef. “It seems like they are composing their little food songs.”

According to Ali Vella-Irving of the Toronto Zoo, “Each gorilla has its own voice: you can really tell who’s singing. And if it’s their favorite food, they sing louder.”

The behaviors, however, differ according to whether the primates are in captivity or not. In zoos every individual sings during meals, but Luef found that in the wild “it was generally only dominant silverback males that sang and hummed while eating.”

She speculated that vocalizing might be the silverback’s method of informing the group that the meal is not yet concluded and that the time to move on has not yet arrived. “He’s the one making the collective decisions for the group,” Luef says. “We think he uses this vocalization to inform the others ‘OK, now we’re eating.’”

Because there is so much variation in calls both between individuals and species, food calls provide a good way to study the origin of language, says Zanna Clay, a psychologist at the University of Birmingham: “It gives a good insight into the origin of meaning in animal signals, and also the social pressures that might drive the flexibility we see in language.”

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention get caught up in a German student riot, 1968

02exfzbe68.jpg
 
1968 was a year of great political unrest across Europe. The psychedelic summer of love had quickly faded—replaced by angry students hurling cobblestones at police in Paris or instigating loud and bloody demonstrations against the Vietnam War in London. It was against this background that Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention paid their first visit to Germany on the band’s second tour of Europe. The trip to Germany was to prove memorable for two very different reasons.

Firstly on October 6th, 1968: Zappa and co. appeared on Beat-Club where they jammed through a superb set of tracks including “King Kong,” “A Pound For A Brown On The Bus,” “Sleeping In A Jar” and “Uncle Meat”—all of which would appear on the band’s next album Uncle Meat. There was also an instrumental version of “Let’s Make The Water Turn Black”—from We’re Only in It for the Money; an early attempt at “Prelude To The Afternoon Of A Sexually Aroused Gas Mask” and some interesting takes on Richard Wagner’s prelude to act three of Lohengrin and Edgard Varese’s piece for a small orchestra Octandre. All jolly stuff and very agreeable too.

However, any youngsters catching the Mothers on tour at this time may have been fooled into thinking Zappa was the ringleader of some revolutionary collective—which leads us dear reader on to our second reason this was such an interesting occasion..
 
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The Mothers 1968—Ron Kroon / Anefo / Nationaal Archief.
 
A week after their appearance on Beat-Club Zappa and the Mothers played one of Hitler’s old stomping grounds, the Sportpalast in Berlin. It was here Zappa was approached by a group of young German radical students who—depending on which book you read or version you hear—either wanted their pop idol to demand the release of Fritz Teufel—founder of the radical group Kommune 1 who was currently under arrest; or to denounce capitalism from the stage that very night; or show his support for the imminent glorious socialist revolution or wanted they wanted Zappa’s help with their plans to riot for a “socialist education policy.” Take your pick.

Having witnessed the Civil Rights movement in America, Zappa was none too impressed by these grievance hungry students, who had mistakenly taken their cue from the length of the Mothers’ hair and Zappa’s subversive songs that he and they would willingly sign on to the student demands. Understandably, Zappa said “nope” or perhaps he said “nein.”

Undeterred, the students demanded Zappa to order the audience at that night’s concert to go out and set fire to the Allied Command Building on Potsdamer Strasse. Again and none too surprisingly Zappa said “no.” The students felt doubly betrayed.

They soon made their disappointment known at the gig that night when these red kerchiefed malcontents bombarded the stage with vegetables and blasted air horns. The Mothers carried on regardless, as Zappa later recalled:

We had to play a two hour show in the middle of all this bullshit. And these guys were out there stomping around and throwing stuff and the people on the bandstand are getting hit with hard vegetables, you know, cucumbers [laughter]. Squash. you know they really hit you like a rock up there. And they were throwing eggs, and cherry bombs. And then they grabbed this big fence, like a restraining device to keep the audience away from the performers at those events. It was made out of pipes this big around with a chain link fence in between and concrete feet. And about thirty of them picked it up and tried to throw it on stage, which would have killed both of our drummers by pinning them against the amplifiers, you see.

So our manager Herbie [Cohen] and this German promoter Fritz Rau caught it in mid air and threw it back on them. And then this other guy charged the stage and Herbie put his foot through his face. And then they kept on throwing things, and then they kept on trying to get up onto the stage. We kept pushing these guys back—and we’re up there humming and strumming…[laughter] and it was really a very unusual situation.

So then we had to take an intermission, see. We left the stage after an hour of fun and merriment. And during that time the ordinaries, that the local promoter had hired to keep everything under control at the hop thought that we had run off, so they ran away. And when they ran away, about a hundred of these kids went up onto the stage and started stomping all over our equipment.

So we come back from intermission, and here’s all these people milling around on stage. They don’t even know why they’re there. They look like cows. They’re standing there like this. But they’re standing, you know, on drums, and they’re knocking things over, and a few of the guys had stolen small pieces of equipment and disappeared into the audience. They were just making a lot of noise and standing around. Just completely blank. They don’t even know what their revolution is about.

So we started pushing them off the stage. We started putting our equipment back together. We got the PA system working. And I gave them a speech for about 15 minutes, wherein I discussed the possibility that they were acting more like Americans than anything I’ve ever seen. And that pissed them off. And they’re out there yelling “Revolution, Revolution”—and I’m saying “You people need evolution, not revolution.”

And they said, “No take it back you’re the Mothers of Reaction.” And I told them they were [beeped], and they understand English. I told them whether they liked it or not we were going to continued to play the second half of the program. So gradually they shut up, and they sat down. The only thing that happened during the second hour was one cherry bomb on stage.

And we had played about 45-50 minutes, and we were into a long instrumental piece, which was going to be our closing number, and I’d reduced the volume of the tune so that I could say goodnight to the nice German people. At which point the student leader with the red rag around his neck comes running up on stage and grabs the microphone and starts raving in German. I just knew he was telling these people, “I’ve got the matches come with me.”

So we played real loud so nobody could hear what he was saying. Two people were taking the instruments off the stage, you know piece by piece pulling things away until it was just me and the organist left on stage playing one full-volume fuzztone loud ugly note that was just going BLAAAAAH.

And it was the only thing that kept people back off the stage, ‘cause they kept trying to get up onto the stage and this noise would hit them and they’d go ...

Finally, when they got all the drums and all the rest of the stuff out of the way, we just unplugged and split off the stage. And they all came milling back up there. And they looked around and they didn’t know why they were on stage again. That’s Germany today.

Zappa later wrote about it all in the song “Holiday In Berlin”:

Look at all the Germans
Watch them follow orders
See them think they´re doing
Something groovy in the street.

See the student leader,
He´s a rebel prophet
He´s fucked up
He´s still a Nazi
Like his Mom and Dad.

Cheap shot, maybe. That’s what happened in Berlin.

After the jump Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention perform a fantastic improvisational set on ‘Beat-Club’...

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The single greatest Public Image Ltd. bootleg, ever: The original band, live in New York, 1980


 
In the 80s and 90s heyday of the “VHS tape trading underground”—from whence oozed choice fare like Jeff Krulik and John Heyn’s “Heavy Metal Parking Lot,” Todd Haynes‘ unorthodox Karen Carpenter bio Superstar and Apocalypse Pooh—the territory was covered in every major city and college town by a small cast of characters—often marginally employed losers who gained a certain amount of notoriety and geek pecking order prestige by the scarcity of their video treasure chests.

These social outcasts and otaku misfits usually kept tight reins on what they had. The less uptight of these guys would trade a full two hour tape for another full two hour tape, whereas others would demand two tapes for every one they traded you. Many were real pricks and would only trade for something they wanted, not something that you wanted. (The sort who might say “Sorry man, but rules are rules.” You know the type.) In this way, back then bootleggers and tape traders were the clutch point between collectors and what they coveted most. It wasn’t unusual for bootleg VHS tapes to sell for $50. “Deals” would be brokered between two assholes, one with a pristine 2nd generation of the demented TV movie Bad Ronald, the other frantically bargaining with him because, of course, acquiring a copy of a shitty movie like Bad Ronald was a matter of extreme importance. With Bittorrent, and before that eBay, this vibrant—albeit somewhat stunted and idiotic—fanboy culture eventually evaporated.

I cannot tell you how many of these dumb “negotiations” I was involved in myself, often with some pretty petty Gollum-like characters. Luckily I had several good “trading cards” in my hand to play, so I always got what I wanted. Three “top traders” that I will admit to back then were Robert Frank’s rarely seen Rolling Stones documentary Cocksucker Blues that I got via a guy I worked with who had himself transferred the film to tape under Robert Frank’s personal supervision; another was the oddball black and white latenight TV commercial for Captain Beefheart’s Lick My Decals Off, Baby album (dubbed by me from an ancient 2” videotape master possessed by an MTV producer who told me to make a copy for myself) and a sharp, first generation dub of an off air recording of Public Image Limited on American Bandstand.

I bring up the PiL clip in particular just to mention that the version that was used on a well-circulated bootleg PiL DVD anthology—one which Amazon used to sell like it was a legit release—that came out about 15 years ago was a grandchild (at least) of my Bandstand clip. I could tell this—definitively—because of the split-second of what preceded it, an outtake of the same Cramps set that was shot for Urgh! A Music War. The clip had been trading around for maybe fifteen years at that point and now it had come full circle. (As for Cocksucker Blues, if you see a brief videotape warble just as the title card fades out...)
 

 
But that’s how those things used to get around. They were quite literally copied one at a time and spread from hand to hand. Which brings me to the topic of this post, another PiL performance—unquestionably the greatest live PiL performance on video—director/editor Paul Dougherty‘s short document of PiL performing at the Great Gildersleeves, a low rent heavy metal bar in NYC, on April 22, 1980 that was bootlegged on this very same DVD. When I bought my copy—at the Pasadena Flea Market—as I scanned the contents and saw that this was on it, I thought I’d hit bootleg PiL paydirt. Sadly it was poor quality.

Now I know Paul. I actually met him at a screening of the PiL Tape, his video for Suicide’s “Frankie Teardrop” and his classic clip for Pulsallama’s “The Devil Lives in My Husband’s Body” when he was showing them at the ICA in London. Many times over the years I’ve asked him for a copy of the PiL Tape—he knows that I’m a complete PiL freak—and every time he just firmly said “No.”

He gave an interview to the The Filth and the Fury fanzine about the so-called PiL Tape in 1999:

Have you any idea how the bootleg videos of your film surfaced? The amazing thing is that until a couple of years ago no one even knew PiL had played the gig, let alone knew that it was filmed!

Paul Dougherty: I have a strong hunch how it leaked but I’m not certain. Because I know all too well how easy it is to copy videos, I was able to keep it bottled up for over 15 years.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Enraged Krautrock manager destroys table with a hatchet on live TV, 1971


 
You don’t need to know German to appreciate this clip. It happened on the WDR program “Ende Offen” on December 3, 1971, during a discussion about commerce and music.

The one doing most of the talking, the one who pulls out a hatchet and starts banging on the table, is Nikel Pallat, manager of a politically oriented West Berlin band called Ton Steine Scherben. The other guy is named Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser, an influential producer who co-founded Ohr Records and later would run a label called Pilz.

Pallat was pissed off that Kaiser had signed a deal with BASF that would give Ohr Records wider distribution—Kaiser might have been a sellout, but as it happens, Ohr released a ton of great music by Witthüser & Westrupp, Amon Düül, Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel, Klaus Schulze, and many others.

In this melee, Pallat shouts, “You are working for the oppressors, not against the oppressors.” (“That’s your opinion,” goes Kaiser’s bland retort.) Then Pallat cries, “You have to work against the oppressors, you have to stay partisan, so that’s why I’m going to destroy this table here”—and proceeds to do just that.

Funnily enough, the table is made of sturdier stuff than Pallat was expecting, and hardly seems much different after a dozen or so blows; with his initial burst of rage now spent, Pallat starts unscrewing the microphones and stuffing them into his pockets so that he can give them to “youths in prisons.” Priceless.
 

 
Many thanks to Corinna Berghahn of the Osnabrücker Zeitung, whose 2011 article on this fracas was very helpful.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Watch DEVO’s first-ever live performance at Kent State University, 1973
04.29.2016
09:10 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
DEVO


 
This clip of DEVO’s very first performance—so early in their career it predates the demo recordings that make up the Hardcore DEVO collections—surfaced on the laserdisc of The Complete Truth about De-Evolution 23 years ago. I assume it’s on the DVD, too, but I’ve only seen the laserdisc.
 

 
While the sleeve of The Complete Truth says this show happened in 1972, I’m convinced by the detailed notes at DEVO Live Guide, which date it to the Kent State University Creative Arts Festival on April 18, 1973. Billed as “Sextet DEVO,” founders Mark Mothersbaugh, Gerald Casale, Bob Casale (RIP) and Bob Lewis were joined by short-term spuds Rod Reisman and Chas. Frederick Weber III. Jerry says the group performed at the invitation of poet Robert Bertholf:

It was not really a band. We just called it Sextet DEVO because I had been doing de-evolutionary art… Bob Lewis’ connection to Bertholf sealed our position in the lineup, and then he demanded that Fred [Weber] sing because Fred was a beautiful singer and none of us could sing right.

Without further ado, here’s D-E-V-O from O-H-I-O playing “Private Secretary.”
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘F*cked Up Donald’: Punk legends, D.O.A. eviscerate Trump
04.29.2016
08:05 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Donald Trump
Joey Shithead
D.O.A.


 
Active since 1978, Vancouver’s punk stalwarts D.O.A. are still as pissed off as ever. The group, led by Joey “Shithead” Keithley, remain quite active both musically and politically and are set to release a new single, an ode to one Donald J Trump, titled “Fucked Up Donald.”

The song is a reworking of their 1981 indictment of Ronald Reagan, “Fucked Up Ronnie,” which appeared on their Positively EP and on the Bloodied But Unbowed singles compilation album. Even THAT song was a re-working of a song called “Fucked Up Baby” that Keithly wrote in 1977 for his earlier band The Skulls. The original “Fucked Up Ronnie” is one of D.O.A.‘s most classic songs and this new updated version is just as ripping as the original—like so much so that it actually took me aback a bit.

The 85 second hardcore admonition takes the Donald to task for his anti-Mexican and anti-woman stances as well as his disastrous ideas on foreign policy, and is just an all-around killer slab of meaty punk.

According to the band, they “slammed this frantic piece of ‘Let’s fight this bullshit!’ down in 15 minutes flat” with producer Cecil English (No Means No, D.O.A., Jello Biafra, The Smalls). Cut the shit and start the pit, eh?

The B-side of the single is slated to be D.O.A.‘s cover of Barry McGuire’s immortal and still quite timely, “Eve of Destruction.”

Check out this Dangerous Minds exclusive premier of “Fucked Up Donald”:
 

 

And after the jump, for old-time’s-sake, the original, “Fucked Up Ronnie”...

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
When Joy Division met William S. Burroughs


 
When you consider all of the famous and infamous people who William Burroughs met in his lifetime, maybe the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game should be adapted for the late Beat author. I’d have a “Burroughs” of one, as I met him (briefly) in Los Angeles in 1996 at his big art opening at LACMA.

At the Reality Studio blog, there’s a fascinating tale, told in great detail, about the time Joy Division shared the same stage with Burroughs, Brion Gysin and Cabaret Voltaire in Belgium. Ian Curtis was an avid reader and favored counterculture fare like J.G. Ballard, Michael Moorcock, Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre and Hermann Hesse. William Burroughs was one of his biggest heroes.

Joy Division was given its first opportunity to play outside the United Kingdom on 16 October 1979. That alone would have distinguished the gig for the band, but of special interest to Curtis and his mates was the fact that they would be opening for Burroughs. The avant-garde theater troupe Plan K, which had made a specialty of interpreting Burroughs’ work, were founding a performance space in a former sugar refinery in Brussels, Belgium. The opening was conceived as a multimedia spectacle. Films were to be screened — among others, Nicholas Roeg’s Performance (starring Mick Jagger) and Burroughs’ own experiments with Antony Balch. The Plan K theater troupe were to perform “23 Skidoo.” Joy Division and Cabaret Voltaire were to give “rock” concerts. And Burroughs and Brion Gysin were to read from their recently published book, The Third Mind.

Before the evening’s events, Burroughs and Joy Division gave separate interviews to the culture magazine En Attendant. Graciously provided to RealityStudio by the interviewer and the organizer of the Plan K opening, Michel Duval, these have been translated from the French and are reproduced here for the first time since their publication in November 1979. You can read the French original or the English translation of Duval’s interview with Joy Division, as well as the French original or the English translation of Duval’s interview with William Burroughs.

After Burroughs’ reading brought the opening of Plan K to its climax, Curtis attempted to introduce himself to his literary idol. This meeting, like so many things about both Curtis and Burroughs, has already become legend — which is another way of saying that its factual basis may have receded into darkness. If you search around the internet, you’ll see sites describing the encounter in terms like this: “Unfortunately when Ian went up to talk to him the author told Ian to get lost.” And this: “Burroughs probably was tired and bored with the concerts and when Ian went up to talk with him the author told Ian to get lost. Ian got lost immediately, not a little hurt by the rebuff.” Chris Ott’s book Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures repeats the story, and Mark Johnson’s book An Ideal for Living asserts that Burroughs refused to speak to Curtis.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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