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Here’s a dirty little song to play while you get that $13 tattoo today
01.13.2017
11:28 am

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Fashion
Music

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Many tattoo parlors across the country offer Friday the 13th specials, most often offering small flash art for $13. If you decide to visit your local tattoo shop today, be sure to play this classic slab of Americana from a 1950 78 rpm record on the Fortune label. The artist is Skeets McDonald (spelled “Skeet’s” on the label), and the song is “Tattooed Lady.” Next to The Who’s “Tattoo” (and Groucho Marx’s “Lydia the Tattooed Lady,” of course) it’s the most awesome song ever written about tattoos.
 

 
The tune details a man’s marriage to a woman who is tattooed with a map of the United States. The lyrics seem to indicate that the map is laid out pretty strangely—I’m not sure if there’s any way to imagine this being “geographically correct”:

Once I married a tattooed lady
Twas on a dark and windy day
And tattooed all around her body
Was a map of the good ol’ USA
And every night before I’d go to sleep
I’d jerk back the covers and I’d take a peek:
Upon her leg was Minnesota,
On her knee was Tennessee,
And tattooed on her back
Was good old Rack-em-Sack (Arkansas)
The place where I long to be.
And on her (wolf whistle) was West Virginia
Through those hills I just love to roam;
But when I saw the moonlight on her Mississippi
That’s when I recognized my home sweet home.

West Virginia likely seems to be the woman’s boobs or ass. One would assume she has Mississippi on her hoo-ha, but then again, maybe my mind’s just in the gutter. Wherever it is, clearly there’s some distortion going on with this particular map.

Listen after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
A child’s murder ballad: Tanya Tucker sings ‘Blood Red and Goin’ Down’
01.12.2017
07:00 pm

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Music

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Tanya Tucker was kind of like the Britney Spears of country music in the 1970s, a teenage chart-topper who underwent a “sexy” image make-over as she got older (and who did her share of hard partying). Her massive hits like “Delta Dawn” and “What’s Your Mama’s Name” were fairly ubiquitous on jukeboxes, AM radio and TV at the time. Tucker’s voice was instantly recognizable from the first note and her formula followed nicely in the Tammy Wynette-trod footsteps of the narrative country tear-jerker, often with the something ominous lurking in the story-line. And the twist was that they were being sung by a kid.
 

“Innocent” young Tanya, aged 14.
 
Tucker’s 1973 hit record, “Blood Red and Goin’ Down,” tells the tale of a young girl who watches her distraught father gun down her cheating mother and her lover in a bar. “Southern Gothic” at its finest. It’s also something you might hear the likes of Nick Cave sing, but Tucker would have been all of fourteen years old when the song was recorded and about seventeen in the video clip below. Imagine watching a kid perform this song in 2017 on America’s Got Talent or something… Jeezus K. Reist. These days the social justice warrior types would be having conniption fits, but in the 1970s this was a #1 hit!

In the late 80s, I was visiting my parents in Wheeling, WV with my then girlfriend who, for whatever reasons, was really into Tanya Tucker. As fate would have it, Tucker was playing a concert at the famed Capitol Music Hall while we were in town and so we went. It was a fucking blast and a really good show (and honestly not the kind of thing I’d have gone to see on my own in a million years).
 

Tanya after her ‘sexy’ make-over, still not old enough to drink…
 
I can recall three things about it vividly. One, it was Tucker’s 30th birthday that night and a conga line of about a dozen goofy guys dropped red roses at her feet as she sang “Delta Dawn.”

Two, the concert was stopped twice while a commercial for “Country Time Lemonade” ran (the show was being broadcast live on the legendary country music station, WWVA’s “Jamboree USA” radio show, and Country Time Lemonade was the sponsor). Tucker and her band just walked offstage and a slide was shown as the ad was pumped over the PA system. When the commercial was over they came back onstage and started up again.

Third, nearly everyone in the audience save for us had cowbells. I swear.

Just a few hours ago it was announced that Tucker, now 58, is postponing tour dates after fracturing a vertebrae and injuring a rib during a fall while on tour.
 

“Blood Red and Goin’ Down,” 1975.
 
More vintage Tanya Tucker after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Legendarily obnoxious Irish punks, The Outcasts: ‘The band you love to hate!’
01.12.2017
11:09 am

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Music
Punk

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Belfast, Ireland-based punks The Outcasts have a fair amount of mythology attached to their riotous time together.  The group formed in 1977 and after getting rejected by five different Belfast clubs their name took on a more personal meaning for the band and it stuck.

When they finally were able to land an actual live gig, fellow Irish punks Jake Burns, the vocalist for Stiff Little Fingers and guitarist Henry Cluney bore witness to the first few shows played by The Outcasts, which according to Greg Cowen as noted in the book Burning Britain: The History of UK Punk 1980–1984 were “disasters.” Cowan attributes the early lackluster impressions of the band to the fact that nobody in the Outcasts could actually play their instruments. There was also the issue that by time The Outcasts were getting ready to stumble through the third or so song in their set (which at the time consisted of covers of the Sex Pistols, The Damned and The Clash along with a few originals), also seemed to be some sort of signal for drummer Colin Cowan to trash his kit. It wouldn’t take long before The Outcasts would be routinely referred to as “The Band You Love to Hate” by local music journalists.

Despite their seeming inability to successfully play a gig that lasted more than a few minutes (which sounds pretty punk rock to me by the way), the band scored a coveted invitation to open for The Radiators From Space—a band championed by one of Ireland’s greatest musical exports—Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy—and Johnny Thunders. Held at Jordanstown Polytechnic on October 21, 1977 The Outcasts stayed true to their disastrous live track record. Here’s more from Greg Cowan on how that went:

We got the gig because I had written a letter that was published in NME magazine berating English punk band for not playing Northern Ireland. Colin (Cowan) had filled plastic bags with fake blood, which he threw at students in the audience. And Martin (Colin’s brother and guitarist for the band) assaulted The Radiators because he caught members of the band changing their flared jeans into drainpipes (old-school code for “skinny jeans”) before going on stage.

Though I don’t usually advocate the use of violence, I’m pretty sure that if you show up to a punk show wearing flared trousers you’re probably at the wrong fucking gig. Later on the band would start crashing shows by notable groups and musicians like Elvis Costello when he played Ulster Hall in the boys’ hometown in 1978. The band allegedly stormed the stage, grabbed Elvis’ microphone and spit out the self-promotional phrase “We’re The Outcasts, buy our single!” Apparently there were a fair number of punk/football fans in attendance who enthusiastically supported the antics The Outcasts pulled on poor Declan and a short time later they were playing to thousands of fans in Dublin. This affinity for commandeering other band’s shows was continued by drummer Colin Cowan when he disrupted sets by both Graham Parker and the Rumor and The Boomtown Rats. But let’s be honest here—there is a line in the sand when it comes to this pre-Jackass guerrilla music marketing. Sure I give them a pass for making Bob Geldof even grumpier than usual, but you simply do not fuck with THE CLASH. Sadly The Outcasts’ must have missed school the day they taught “Joe Strummer 101” and they set out to crash the stage where the Clash—who they had just supported in Belfast—were playing another show. When they showed up, a group of pissed-off bouncers were waiting for them, and according to Cowen who were ready to beat their “fuck in.”
 
More of the Outcasts after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Groovy vintage ads for classic guitars
01.12.2017
09:02 am

Topics:
Advertising
Music

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Inspired by a recent post on reverb.com, I jumped down an Internet rabbit hole of vintage guitar ads. Naturally, there’s a ton of wonderful stuff to be found, and I was surprised, despite how niche a market these ads were trying to reach, at how little they differ in look and tone from any other ads of their times. ‘50s ads tended to be bland product shots surrounded by expository text, by the mid-‘60s ads started getting more creative, and ‘70s ads were often rainbow-hued blowouts executed by illustrators who owed their livelihoods to Milton Glaser. Which is basically to say that a lot of them could just as easily have been ads for cars or small appliances. Why this surprised me, I don’t know—they were crafted by the same agencies, using the same broad theories as to what worked, as all other ads. (And if those cultural transitions interest you, I cannot recommend Thomas Frank’s The Conquest of Cool

What follows is culled from countless online sources. I’ve tried to keep them roughly in chronological order, but not all of them were possible to date. Of particular interest—the Vox and Domino ads below boast the most out-there instrument designs, but due to their vintage they’re the most conservative ad designs, and Fender ads from the ‘70s were especially lysergic, in a study-hall kinda way.
 

Domino, early ‘60s
 

Vox, 1964
 
More vintage guitar ads after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Japanese noise musicians take over Italian TV to spread disease and confusion, 1997
01.12.2017
09:02 am

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Music
Television

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Hijokaidan live (via Pinterest)
 
This would have been unthinkable on American TV in the nineties, and it was probably unthinkable on Italian TV, too. One day in 1997, Hiroshi Hasegawa and Mayuko Hino of C.C.C.C. and Junko and Jojo Hiroshige of Hijokaidan appeared on Italy’s TMC2 network to spread disease and confusion with scabrous noise alone. (I see no flying bags of urine on this tape, but I assume that’s because they each left one in the Trevi Fountain, come si deve.)

I don’t know the name of the show, but I read that it’s hosted by Italian TV presenter and punk/industrial fan Red Ronnie. Fortunately, this is not a video about which very much needs to be said; in the wise words of Aerosmith, “just push play.”

Unless you are an italophone, I would recommend skipping to the beginning of the punishment at 2:50. They stop playing for several minutes in the middle of the clip so the host can read comments off an ancient 1997 computer screen and members of the audience can express their worthless opinions of the performance. As tends to be the case with noise sets, the real shit comes at the very end, from about 14:18 on.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Black Noize: Remembering Proper Grounds’ anguish rap metal (or ‘Madonna discovers rap metal’)
01.11.2017
03:51 pm

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Hip-hop
Music

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Remember the record industry? It was nuts, man. REO Speedwagon had their own plane. Black Sabbath had a $70,000 cocaine allowance. Jimmy Page had his own fucking castle. Michael Jackson, that guy...well, never mind. The point is, if you sold enough records, you could basically do whatever you wanted.

In 1992, when she was sandwiched between her 80’s pop-hit peak and her 00’s disco-feminist golden age, Madonna was generating so much income that Warner Brothers financed her own media empire. Maverick Entertainment was formed initially to release her Erotica album and the infamous Sex coffee table book (i.e. the one with Madonna’s vagina and Vanilla Ice’s penis), but they also operated as a subsidiary of Warners, signing bands and making movies. There were, naturally, high hopes for a Madonna-led entertainment company. She was known for pushing the envelope and edging mainstream culture away from the center and into weirder, kinkier territories. So who knew what she would unearth with Maverick? Could be anything. Crazy, mind-blowing shit, right? We already had full-frontal Maddy getting her freak on in Sex, what could possibly come next?

Spoiler alert: In 1995, they released Jagged Little Pill, one of the biggest selling records of all time. Which is great for Madonna and for Alanis Morrissette, but it wasn’t exactly a cutting-edge release. And most of the Maverick-y stuff that came before it was even more underwhelming. Remember Canadian Bacon, John Candy’s last film, the only non-documentary that Michael Moore ever made? That was Madonna’s thing. So were soft-grunge cretins Candlebox. Maverick would eventually be the home of cuddly mainstream enterprises like Britney Spears, Michelle Branch, and the Twilight twinkling vampire movies. The Brink’s truck continued making regular deliveries to Madonna’s house, but any dreams of the company living up to the name were pretty much dashed when they signed the Backstreet Boys.

But there were actually a couple of early glimmers (rays?) of light suggesting that, hey, maybe Madonna knew what was up all along. For one thing, she signed DC hardcore heroes Bad Brains and released their reggae-heavy ‘95 album God of Love. Unfortunately Brains’ mainman HR was on a real tear that year and assaulted a bunch of people, including the group’s own manager, hastening the band’s (brief, but career-tanking) demise. And she also discovered LA rap-metal pioneers Proper Grounds.

Many would cite Rage Against the Machine as the first significant band to tread this thorny path. Rage are not a metal band and they don’t have a rapper, but okay, sure. Ice-T would point you to his incendiary thrash metal outfit Body Count. But that was a just a rapper playing metal.There were one-offs like the Public Enemy/Anthrax mash-up “Bring the Noize”; the lesser-known Sir Mix-a-lot/Metal Church head-spinner “Iron Man” in ‘88, and if we stretch even farther back, the mysterious hooded rapper The Lone Rager, who spat out a brief history of the genre back in ‘84’s ridiculous “Metal Rap” (“And Metallica? Spectaculah!”). 24-7 Spyz offered up funk-metal that edged into hip-hop territory, and Schoolly D, in his bid to wipe out rock n’ roll once and for all, merged metal riffs with hilariously angry lyrics on his 1988 album Smoke Some Kill (“Fuck Cinderella, fuck Bon Jovi, and motherfuck Prince, man.”). All that shit existed, sure. But none of them merged the gritty realities of life on the street with the intensity and velocity of heavy metal in the same way that Proper Grounds did.
 

 
Proper Grounds were, essentially, a panicky Grandmaster Flash with grungy guitars. Or maybe Stone Temple Pilots with scratching. Formed by frontman The Sandman and bass player/producer Danny Saber, they had a deep-rooted social consciousness that neatly subverted the mindless violence and material worship that engulfed rap in the 90’s and their take on metal, was elastic and acrobatic, avoided the genre’s chest-thumping excess. They called their particular brand of noise “anguish rap metal” and that pretty much says it all. Songs like “I’m Drowning,” “Backwards Mass,” and “Money in the Depths of a Plagueless Man” were so dark they were practically gothic. Their sole album, 1993’s Downtown Circus Gang, was a stark snapshot of life on the streets of LA in the wake of the ‘92 riots, bitter and hard and raw and real. Perfect for the 90’s, really.

More after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
Gary Coleman, comic books & other disasters: Raging Slab were the assmasters of the 1990s
01.11.2017
02:00 pm

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Music

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Assmaster cover
 
It sorta all shook out the same way, really. Promising start followed by a long, slow slog to oblivion. While it might’ve been a one-off goof, Gary Coleman’s appearance in a 1993 video by New York boogie-rock champs Raging Slab was essentially the last real flash of light for both of ‘em. It’s probably the second thing on a pretty short list of what most people remember about Gary Coleman and the only thing most people remember about Raging Slab. And that’s a drag, because they both deserve better.

Raging Slab might be one of the most ill-starred bands this side of their spiritual and musical forebears, Lynyrd Skynyrd. The band was formed in NYC in 1983 by husband and wife team Greg Strzempka and Elyse Steinman (vox/guitar, slide guitar). The earliest incarnation of the band included future Warrior Soul riot-starter Kory Clarke on drums and one DJ Dimitri (later of house music legends Dee-Lite), and their aggressively retro southern rock style flew in the face of 80’s new wave and glam metal. Nobody wanted to sound like Foghat in 1983, not even Foghat. But Raging Slab did.
 

 
Despite their twirly mustaches and mid 70’s hustle, the band eventually carved out their own niche, and in 1987 they released their first album, the audacious-in-every-way Assmaster. It came with its own comic book, created by Marvel artists Pat Redding and Pete Ciccone, portraying the band as groovy, muscle-bound superfreak superheroes. It sounded like a comic book, too.  Much like dope metal heroes Monster Magnet, the band embraced 70s junk culture with religious fervor, creating a brightly-colored alt-world splashed with boogie vans, pot leaves and American flag motorcycle helmets with riffs that could topple evil space tyrants from the Forbidden Zone. They were like Elvis, the Fonz and Evel Knievel jamming on “Freebird” at the Grand Canyon forever and ever… And Assmaster was a stone-cold classic. No doubt about it.

Raging Slab signed to RCA and released a self-titled follow-up in 1989. It was a fitting successor to their debut, filled with tasty slide guitar and crunching riff-rock. Lead single “Don’t Dog Me” had a hot hit video, and the band toured the country, sometimes with southern rockers like Molly Hatchet and sometimes with glam-bangers like Warrant. Things were looking up, despite rapid turnover in the ranks, particularly in the drummer department. But RCA hated the next two records and didn’t even bother releasing them, eventually dropping them/pawning them off to Rick Rubin and Def American. Raging Slab been slipping below the radar for years so when comeback album Dynamite Monster Boogie Concert was ready to hit the bins in spring of ‘93, it was preceded by a single so infectious and a video so over-the-top that no one could resist it. “Anywhere But Here” featured the chick from the cover of Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain album (sorta), funky 70s puppet “Lester” (sorta) and real Diff’rent Strokes star Gary Coleman running around a magical mini-golf course while the band rocks out in front of a candy-colored castle. There’s fire and bubbles and shiny gold medallions and everybody looks like they’re having the time of their lives. Which is good, because that’s the best it got for all involved.
 

 
Gary Coleman starred in Diff’rent Strokes for eight seasons. Stricken with a rare kidney disease, Coleman stayed kid-size well into adulthood. Piles of sitcom cash would’ve lessened the blow but his parents mismanaged his fortune and left him in the unenviable task of being really famous and really broke. So sure, get dwarf-tossed by a couple of Mexican muskrat (?) marionettes on the set of a rock video, why not? Could be the start of something big.

It wasn’t.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
KISS, Sparks, & rock ‘n’ roller coasters: The legendary ‘Magic Mountain’ theme park of the 1970’s
01.11.2017
12:21 pm

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Amusing
Music

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On an incredibly hot memorial day weekend in 1971, Magic Mountain opened in Valencia, California just 18 months after construction began. The “theme” of this theme park was not entirely clear and it only had one roller coaster, however the park’s other offerings—the fireworks, rides, laser shows, arcade games, and nightly concerts—made “fun, magic, and rock ‘n’ roll” the name of the game. By the time the park was sold to Six Flags at the end of the decade, Magic Mountain had cemented a place in rock ‘n’ roll history by giving many young Southern Californians their very first live concert experience. Its three venues (7-Up / Dixi Cola Showcase Theatre, The Gazebo, and Kaleidoscope) were home to many great acts such as Fleetwood Mac, The Carpenters, Sonny & Cher, The Jackson 5, The Everly Brothers, and KISS who attracted a long-haired, beer can drinking parking lot crowd that didn’t meet Disneyland’s strict dress code and could afford the $5 admission price.
 

Sonny & Cher performed nightly from Sept 2nd-12th, 1971 at Magic Mountain’s 7-Up Showcase Theatre
 
When it first opened Magic Mountain secured a short-term deal from Warner Brothers to use their Looney Tunes characters, however when that agreement expired in 1972 a lineup of very unmemorable troll characters were introduced: Bloop, Bleep, King Troll (aka King Blop) and the Wizard. These bizarre, colorful, psychedelic looking walk-around characters became the most recognizable symbols of the park throughout the ‘70s. They greeted guests, posed for photographs, and appeared on all manners of merchandise and advertising before being discontinued in 1985.
 

“Trolls & Fountain” 1977 Magic Mountain postcard
 
By the mid-1970’s the park begun introducing faster and scarier rides such as The Electric Rainbow, Galaxy, and Jolly Monster. However, it was the Great American Revolution (the first modern, 360-degree steel looping coaster) in 1976 that gave the park its first real thrill factor. At the time Universal was filming a disaster-suspense movie called Rollercoaster about a young extortionist (played by Timothy Bottoms) who travels around the U.S. planting bombs on roller coasters promising horrific casualties to those who don’t meet his one million dollar ransom. The film’s climactic final sequence takes place during a huge rock concert celebrating the grand opening of Revolution. While teen-idol fan magazines Tiger Beat and Sixteen reported to their readers that the Scottish glam-rock band the Bay City Rollers were to perform in this film it was actually Los Angeles’ own Sparks who accepted the role having just relocated back to L.A. from England.
 
Sparks were documented on the big screen prior to their breakthrough commercial success during a strange transitional period for the band when they briefly dropped their quirkiness and demanded to be taken seriously. Concerned at the time that their music may have become stale, the Mael brothers left their synthesizers behind for a more “American” guitar sound on their Rupert Holmes produced album Big Beat. Although Rollercoaster was a modest success despite fierce competition from Star Wars at the box office that summer, Ron & Russell Mael of Sparks now look back upon the film with embarrassment. “Yes, you did see Sparks performing ‘Big Boy’ and ‘Fill’er Up’ in the film Rollercoaster during your last airplane trip,” said Russell Mael in the September 2006 issue of Mojo Magazine. “No, we didn’t know that the film was going to turn out like that. Rollercoaster movie proves that you have to be continually careful of what you do… You never know what’s going to last and what’s going to fall by the wayside, and man, does that last!” Sparks’ cameo in Rollercoaster is brief but fun and energetic, especially when Ron Mael gets rowdy and smashes his piano stool on the stage.
 

Russell Mael of Sparks performing in front of Revolution in the 1977 disaster film ‘Rollercoaster’
 
In 1978 at the height of KISS’ massive popularity, Hanna-Barbera Productions produced a made-for-television movie for NBC titled Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park. Filmed on location at Magic Mountain, the film’s poor script revolved around an evil inventor living underneath the theme park whose nefarious plans are thwarted by an other-galactic rock ‘n’ roll group with superpowers (played by KISS). Despite the fact that all four members were given crash courses on acting, much of the dialogue recorded was unusable and had to be re-dubbed in post production. Ace Frehley was said to have become increasingly frustrated with the long periods of downtime normally associated with filmmaking and stormed off the set one day leaving his African American stunt double to finish his scenes (which made for perhaps one of the most noticeable and unintentionally hilarious continuity errors in the history of cinema). KTNQ’s “The Real” Don Steele (one of the most popular disc jockeys in the U.S.) gave away 8,000 tickets to see KISS perform live at the Magic Mountain parking lot which was filmed for the movies big dramatic rock ‘n’ roll concert ending.
 
Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Doug Jones | Leave a comment
Mondo freako: Meet the Italian progrocker weirdos who influenced a young Peter Gabriel
01.10.2017
02:25 pm

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Music

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In one of those “one minute I was looking at this one thing, and then suddenly I was looking at this totally other thing” moments the Internet is so fond of bestowing upon us, this morning I was on eBay looking for posters of 60s/70s Eurobabe actress Barbara Bouchet (as I do…a lot lately) when I saw a listing for the soundtrack for Milano Calibro 9, a bloody and brutal 1972 poliziotteschi she co-starred in. The music for Milano Calibro 9 is a collaboration between the celebrated Argentinean-born composer Luis Bacalov—who is best known for the soundtracks to Django, Pasolini’s The Gospel According to St. Matthew, the Oscar-winning score to Il Postino and his work with Italian progressive rock groups—and the Italian progressive rock group Osanna.
 

 
I downloaded this soundtrack a few years ago—and I love it—but I never knew what Osanna looked like. And I wondered if maybe there were any vintage performance videos of the group in their prime that had been posted on YouTube? The answer to the first question is “total freaks” and to the second “yup, plenty!”
 

 
Apparently Osanna were one of the very first groups anywhere in the world to do a full on “theatrical rock” thing and they sound like a Neapolitan-tinged combination of Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, the Mothers of Invention, Focus and Moody Blues with a sonic palette consisting of heavy guitar, flute, 12-string acoustic interludes and mellotrons. What’s more, if you look at photos of Peter Gabriel in 1971 vs. 1972, there’s a fair case to be made based on the available visual evidence that the lad was “influenced” by the opening act—that would be Osanna—that Genesis toured Italy with in 1972.

Osanna broke up in 1974, reformed again in 1977 and then broke up again two years later. They reformed again in 1999 and have performed and toured sporadically since then, including playing the entire Milano Calibro 9 soundtrack onstage in Japan in 2012.
 

“L’ Uomo” from 1971.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Extended footage of David Bowie as ‘The Elephant Man’
01.06.2017
01:21 pm

Topics:
Music

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This weekend brings the first “would have been” birthday for David Bowie, who would have turned 70 this coming Sunday, January 8. Of course, it’s been almost a full year since Bowie passed away of cancer two days after turning 69.

Bowie’s first and only attempt at an extended run as a stage actor occurred in 1980, when he took on the role of John Merrick in Bernard Pomerance’s play The Elephant Man, which had debuted at the Hampstead Theatre in London in 1977. As with many of the projects Bowie took on, it was a decided challenge and proved to be a striking success. Bowie had just spent a few years hanging out with Iggy Pop and Brian Eno in Berlin producing some of his most interesting albums—the timing of the request to replace the existing actor Philip Anglim, made by Jack Hofsiss, the director of the Broadway production, which had already done very well and which Bowie had already seen, was surely critical, as Bowie was likely seeking a change at the time. There was also a certain resonance in playing a type of Victorian monster since his most recent album bore the name Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)

Bowie had such a striking physical presence, so ideal for the role of Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth as well as for the physically deformed John Merrick in Pomerance’s play, which makes the interesting choice of eschewing makeup for the actor. The David Lynch movie that came out around the same time has no connection to Pomerance’s play, with its own, separate development. Oddly, both movie and film insist on referring to the historical Joseph Merrick as “John Merrick.”

As Bowie tells it, the producers of the play had Bowie try the role away from the intense media scrutiny of New York, so he did the play for six days (July 29-August 3, 1980) at the Denver Center of Performing Arts, where he could “die a quiet death” if it emerged that he wasn’t up to the challenge. After three weeks in Chicago at the Blackstone Theater, Bowie’s debut as a Broadway actor came on September 23, 1980, at the Booth Theatre for a run of a little longer than three months.
 
More after the jump….....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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