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Animated sheet music for Miles Davis’ ‘So What’
07.25.2014
11:33 am

Topics:
Animation
Music

Tags:
Miles Davis


 
Mesmerizing animated sheet music for Miles Davis’ “So What” by Dan Cohen on YouTube.

If I had seen something like this around when I was younger, it would have made piano lessons and learning to read music oh so much easier…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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The Hawkwind sci-fi trilogy
07.25.2014
07:45 am

Topics:
Books
Music

Tags:
Hawkwind
Michael Moorcock


 
There are lots of ways to have fun with Hawkwind albums, but one of the more wholesome is to pretend that the members of the band are real live outer space aliens. Weigh space anchor and hoist the star mizzen? Aye aye, Cap’n Brock! We were born to go! But if you find it hard to fantasize in this vein, there exist three official tie-in products that relate Hawkwind’s adventures in the far reaches of the cosmos.

In 1976, a sci-fi novel called The Time of the Hawklords appeared in the UK and US, crediting Michael Moorcock and Michael Butterworth as co-authors. Aside from Dik Mik, all your favorite members are there: Lemmy (“Count Motorhead”), Stacia (“the Earth Mother”), “Baron” Dave Brock, and Nik Turner (“the Thunder Rider”). Even Moorcock, who had collaborated with Hawkwind since the early 70s, plays a part in the story as “Moorlock the Acid Sorcerer.”

Moorcock immediately disowned the book, according to Carol Clerk’s band biography The Saga of Hawkwind: “While the saga was based on concepts of Moorcock’s, he vehemently denied being involved in the writing and fell out with the publishers.” Nevertheless, his famous name also featured prominently on the cover of the following year’s sequel, Queens of Deliria, which bore the lawyerly credit “by Michael Butterworth based on an idea by Michael Moorcock.”
 

 
The back cover of Deliria promised that the third volume of the trilogy, Ledge of Darkness, would be published in 1978. As it happened, Ledge of Darkness was not published until 1994, when it turned up as a graphic novel in Hawkwind’s scarce 25 Years On box set (not to be confused with the 1978 Hawklords album of the same name).

In the decade-plus that has passed since I purchased my copy of The Time of the Hawklords, I have never yet made it past this sentence on page eleven: “Next came Lord Rudolph the Black, most recent champion sworn to the ranks of the Company of the Hawk.” It seems better suited for bibliomancy than reading. Since the jacket copy on the back might be superior to the actual contents of the book, here it is in its entirety:

Rocking on The Edge of Time

From a ruined London on a burnt-out Earth, the Hawkwind group beams out its last, defiant concert. The Children of the Sun, the tattered remnants of the Hippies, gather to listen. But when the music ends, withdrawal symptoms begin—a dreadful, retching illness only the Hawkwind sound can allay.

This new malady may be more than debilitated mankind can withstand. Desperately the rock group begins research: first, with the few electronic instruments miraculously still intact; then with a book whose existence is an even greater miracle—an ancient, magical tome, The Saga of Doremi Fasol Latido, whose prophecies seem to be coming true.

And here’s the sales copy from Queens of Deliria:

Earth had already been devastated by the Death Generator.

Then the Red Queen meddled with the very laws of Time to advance her evil ambitions. She transmogrified the planet into a world stalked by decaying ghouls and policed by satanic Bulls, their amplifiers meting out the punishing music of Elton John.

Only the Hawklords could save the remnants of humanity – only the Hawklords could restore the forces of Good.

Their sole ally Elric the Indecisive; their sole weapon their music; they fought to the death with their awesome enemies, the macabre Queens of Deliria.

ROCK AND ROLL SCI-FI

This is the second volume in the trilogy which began with The Time of the Hawklords.

The final volume Ledge of Darkness will be published in 1978.

Below, the BBC’s excellent Hawkwind documentary. That’s Michael Moorcock seen in the still frame:

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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The strange, but true, story behind the Beatles’ ‘She’s Leaving Home’
07.24.2014
11:29 am

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:
Beatles

image
 

John and I wrote “She’s Leaving Home together.” It was my inspiration. We’d seen a story in the newspaper about a young girl who’d left home and not been found, there were a lot of those at the time, and that was enough to give us a story line. So I started to get the lyrics: she slips out and leaves a note and then the parents wake up ... It was rather poignant. I like it as a song, and when I showed it to John, he added the long sustained notes, and one of the nice things about the structure of the song is that it stays on those chords endlessly. Before that period in our song-writing we would have changed chords but it stays on the C chord. It really holds you. It’s a really nice little trick and I think it worked very well.

While I was showing that to John, he was doing the Greek chorus, the parents’ view: ‘We gave her most of our lives, we gave her everything money could buy.’ I think that may have been in the runaway story, it might have been a quote from the parents. Then there’s the famous little line about a man from the motor trade; people have since said that was Terry Doran, who was a friend who worked in a car showroom, but it was just fiction, like the sea captain in “Yellow Submarine”, they weren’t real people.

—Paul McCartney to Barry Miles in 1997

The Daily Mirror story that inspired “She’s Leaving Home” was about Melanie Coe, then aged 17. “Wild child” Coe snuck out of her parents’ comfortable North London home in February of 1967. She was pregnant and afraid of what her mother might do, but had not run off with the father of her unborn child—or “a man from the motor trade,” for that matter—but rather with a croupier she’d just met. They shacked up for ten days before her parents found her. She returned home and had an abortion.

But here’s the weird part: three years earlier Coe had actually met Paul McCartney when he was the judge of a miming contest that Coe won on Ready, Steady, Go! Coe mimed to Brenda Lee’s “Let’s Jump The Broomstick” and Macca gave her the award. Winning the contest meant Coe would be a dancer on the show for an entire year.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Just a few really cool photos of Silver Apples’ homemade electronics rig, 1968
07.24.2014
10:31 am

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
Silver Apples


 
WFMU on Twitter hipped me to these insanely cool photos of psychedelic electronic music group Silver Apples’ homemade electronic gear. Holy hell these are great!


Silver Apples live in Los Angeles, 1968. “In this shot you can see I have the oscillators mounted horizontally in plywood along with echo units, wah pedal, and so on. Here I am playing the ‘lead’ oscillator with my right hand, keying in rhythm oscillators with my elbow on the telegraph keys, changing the volume on an amp with my left hand, and singing. This was typical.”
 

 

This photo was taken at an earlier, outdoor concert in New York City, again in 1968, “before the plywood configuration, where I just had all my oscillators, amps, pedals, and so on piled onto a table. There were 30,000 people in the audience — we were terrified!”
 

Photo by Syeus Mottel
 
These electronics in action on “Lovefingers” (1968):

 
via SOS, WFMU, HZ

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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‘Recurring Dreams’: Homemade 1982 album sounds like Brian Eno playing the ‘Forbidden Planet’ theme
07.23.2014
03:53 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Matthew Young
Yoga Records


 
Yesterday marked Drag City/Yoga Records re-release of “New Age” outsider musician Matthew Young’s 1982 album Recurring Dreams. To call Young a “cult” artist is probably overstating the case—Jandek is a household name in comparison—but that may change when, say, NPR picks up on this 32-year-old obscurity. (Yes, this is one of those things with a bit of an exotic backstory that NPR absolutely loves, like The Langley Schools Music Project or the Ghetto Brothers.)

The album begins with a number called “Mistrial,” an ambient fantasia which calls to mind Brian Eno playing the theme to Forbidden Planet. That’s what a lot of it sounds like to my ears and I pronounce this a very good thing. Recurring Dreams is quite unusual. Although it’s not necessarily “foreground” music that demands your attention, I don’t know if I would exactly call it “New Age” so much either—it’s got much more in common with Morton Subotnick than with Yanni—as I would try not to categorize it at all. The self-released album has a “homemade” low-fi sound and was, in a sense, technologically hand-crafted utilizing EMS Synthi A and Roland synthesizers, piano, guitars, log drums, voice and tape manipulation. (Young took the Computer Music Seminar courses at Princeton. He knew what he was doing.)

Yoga Records is the label that released the (deeply fascinating) set I Am The Center: Private Issue New Age In America, 1950 - 1990 as well as Young’s Traveler’s Advisory. There’s only so much I can really write about an instrumental album like this, but Yoga’s Douglas Mcgowan made a charming short video introducing Young, shot at his home in New Jersey.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Pig Pile’: Big Black live on their final tour, with members of Wire, 1987
07.23.2014
09:23 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Big Black
Wire
Steve Albini


 
In 1992, five years after their breakup in the wake of their amazing LP Songs About Fucking, the influential and scathing post-hardcore pioneers Big Black released a boxed set called Pig Pile, which featured a shirt, a poster, a VHS tape, a vinyl LP, and a clear-vinyl 5” single. The LP and VHS were documents of the band’s July 1987 concert at London’s Hammersmith Clarendon, and the 5” was a totally incongruous cover of the Mary Jane Girls’ “In My House.”
 

In My House by Big Black on Grooveshark

 
Yyyyyyyep.

Talking to NME about the show, the band’s singer/guitarist Steve Albini had this to offer:

We made a splash immediately before we broke up; now a band starts shopping its demos to majors after its third rehearsal. By the end, I think we improved; on the live record and video we were probably as good as we were ever gonna be. That gig was exciting—there was this giant belch and everyone involved in this giant belch felt immensely relieved afterwards.

 

 
It was indeed a hell of a belch. The band at its height was known for a relentlessly concussive and scarifying musical blitz—Albini’s guitar tone alone could practically sever limbs—paired with true-story lyrics that unflinchingly detailed the most reprehensible of human behaviors, often to genuinely chilling effect. The videotape and album show the band slaying an excoriating best-of set, and for their encore, a cover of Wire’s “Heartbeat,” they were joined onstage by Wire’s Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis in what must have been a fan-fantasy score of a lifetime. The LP was rereleased as a CD in short order, and inevitably came out on vinyl again in the ‘oughts, but the video has never been reissued in any format. Per the band’s label, Touch and Go records,

In 1992, Touch and Go released a Big Black live album and video, titled Pig Pile, that were recorded (mostly) in 1987 during Big Black’s final tour. Someday, we might release the video on DVD. Until then, please don’t ask us about it.

As of this writing, used copies of the complete set are being offered on discogs.com for between $60 USD (box condition fair, shirt worn) and well over $200. But if you’re really that hot to watch it, and you don’t mind tiny and fuzzy, here it is.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
‘Shellac Pistols’: Shellac and David Yow do the Sex Pistols, 1998
Awkward, hilarious interview with Steve Albini
Absolute Nirvana: new Steve Albini mixes push in utero anniversary set into essential territory

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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See Laibach’s almost terrifying final performance with Tomaž Hostnik, 1982
07.23.2014
08:00 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Laibach


 
Tomaž Hostnik, who was one of Laibach’s first lead singers, gave his final performance with them on December 11, 1982 in Zagreb. Ten days later, he committed what Laibach describes as a “ritual suicide,” hanging himself from a kozolec—an ancient iconic Slovene hayrack, as was depicted on the cover of Laibach’s Rekapitulacija 1980-1984 box set, the group’s first album to obtain release worldwide.

Though laibach.org tells us that “Laibach disapproved of his act of suicide and posthumously expelled Hostnik from the group, returning him to his private identity,” the bloody-but-unbowed image above and Hostnik’s theoretical contributions remain of foundational importance to Laibach and the NSK State, Laibach’s country without territory.

Amok Books’ beautiful, long out-of-print catalog, Neue Slowenische Kunst, reprints several of Hostnik’s writings. In “The Origin of the Source of the New People’s Creativity,” he diagnoses the terminal illness of “so-called contemporary popular production” in a few oracular, Laibachian paragraphs: “the ceremonial and ritual elements are eliminated and automatically transformed into an affiliation to industrial and political life, which is again merely a state of continuous dependence.” Asked by a Slovenian organization called the Music Lovers Club to comment on the New Romantic fad, Hostnik penned “On the Delicateness of New-Romanticism (An instigation to reflection),” which, as promised, offers old answers to old questions. His 1982 poem, “Apologia Laibach,” is counted among the group’s manifestos:

Since when, sons of truth, are you the brothers of night?
What colors your hands with the redness of blood?

The explosion in the night is the flower of woe,
nothing can be justified by it.
The altar cannot be destroyed,
the altar of lies, that multiplies shapes.

The spotless picture, the painless lights,
the only harbors of the terrible night.

We are the children of the spirit and the brothers of strength,
whose promises are not fulfilled.
We are the black ghosts of this world,
we sing the mad image of woe.

The explanation is the whip and you bleed:

Break the mirror of the world for the hundredth time, —
all your efforts are in vain. We have overcome the night:
our debt has been paid
and the light is ours.

This footage of Hostnik’s last performance, first released on Vinyl-on-Demand’s Gesamtkunstwerk box set in 2011, is now available for all the world to see on Laibach’s YouTube. Has an unmanned drum set ever looked so sinister?
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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‘Cruelty Without Beauty’: Soft Cell’s criminally unknown 2002 reunion album
07.22.2014
07:43 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Marc Almond
Soft Cell
David Ball
Bob Gaudio


 
Most of the time when a band reforms, the results are lackluster. A creative partnership that’s run its course isn’t easily resurrected for love nor money and usually it’s for the latter and not the former that most reunion albums and tours occur.

That’s the way that I normally feel, but when Marc Almond and David Ball decided to reform Soft Cell in 2001 I was very excited to see what they’d come up with after 18 years. They had worked together on a few thing in the years since Soft Cell split in 1984, so it wouldn’t be an issue of them looking backwards to the 80s or anything like that. The idea of a mature Soft Cell seemed vastly appealing.

The first thing they released was “God Shaped Hole,” a track that was a part of a 2001 Some Bizarre compilation album titled, I’d Rather Shout at a Returning Echo than Kid That Someone’s Listening. They went on to record their unfairly neglected Cruelty Without Beauty album, which came out in 2002 and toured the globe in support of it. Sadly ticket sales were poor and most of the US dates were cancelled. I was lucky enough to catch them at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles (which was packed) and they put on one hell of an amazing show that balanced the hits with the new material.

The lead single from Cruelty Without Beauty was “Monoculture,” an infectiously catchy, but sharply-pointed diatribe about the bland horror show that popular culture was becoming (and this is years before the Kardashians or Cupcake Wars...) The evil Ronald McDonald-type character seen in the video is Some Bizzare label boss and former Soft Cell manager Stevo Pearce.
 

 
More Soft Cell after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Privilege’: Peter Watkins powerful antidote to 1960s pop hysteria
07.22.2014
12:34 pm

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
Peter Watkins
Jean Shrimpton
Paul Jones

privipost.jpg
 
Set sometime in a none too distant future, Peter Watkins’ debut feature Privilege from 1967 told the story of god-like pop superstar Steven Shorter, who is worshiped by millions and manipulated by a coalition government to keep the youth “off the streets and out of politics.”

Inspired by a story from sitcom writer Johnny Speight (creator of Till Death Us Do Part which was remade in America as All in the Family), Privilege was an antidote to Swinging Sixties’ pop naivety. While Speight may have had a more biting satirical tale in mind, screenwriter Norman Bogner together with director Watkins made the film a mix of “mockumentary” and political fable, which was a difficult balance to maintain over a full ninety minutes without falling into parody.
 
privi1eppj.jpg
 
Though it has its faults, Watkins succeeded overall, and presented the viewer with a selection of set pieces that later influenced scenes in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, Lindsay Anderson’s O, Lucky Man! and Ken Russell’s Tommy.

Watkins also later noted how his film:

....was prescient of the way that Popular Culture and the media in the US commercialized the anti-war and counter-culture movement in that country as well. Privilege also ominously predicted what was to happen in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain of the 1980s - especially during the period of the Falkland Islands War.

 
privi2jpjs.jpg
Paul Jones and Jean Shrimpton have a “private” moment.
 
On its release, most of the press hated it as Privilege didn’t fit with their naive optimism that pop music would somehow free the workers from their chains and bring peace and love and drugs and fairies at the bottom of the garden, la-de-da-de-dah, no doubt.

In fact Privilege was at the vanguard of a series of similarly styled films (see above) that would come to define the best of British seventies cinema. The movie would also have its fair share of (unacknowledged) influence on pop artists like David Bowie and Pink Floyd, while Patti Smith covered the film’s opening song “Set Me Free.”
 
privi1jp1.jpg
 
What’s also surprising is how the film’s lead, Paul Jones (then better known as lead singer of Manfred Mann) never became a star. As can be seen from his performance here as Steven Shorter, Jones could have made a good Mick Travis in If…, or Alex in A Clockwork Orange.

Jones went onto make the equally good The Committee but (shamefully) little work came thereafter apart from reading stories on children’s TV.

Ah, the fickle nature of fame, but perhaps he should have known that from playing Steven Shorter.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘Ant music for sex people’: Adam and the Ants live
07.22.2014
07:40 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Adam and the Ants


 
Like Genesis and Ministry, Adam and the Ants had two distinct phases, each with fan bases that don’t always quite overlap 100%. Pre-1980, they were a raw, spiky post-punk band with sharp, fetishy lyrics. Things changed quickly for them in 1980, when their manager, the infamous Sex Pistols impresario Malcolm McLaren, poached most of the band for a new project called Bow Wow Wow. But eviscerating the group proved not to be such a terrible idea. Singer Stuart “Adam Ant” Goddard continued with an entirely new band, and a major sound and image overhaul. On the presentation end, the band dove headlong into an embrace of the new romanticism, favoring an overwrought leather-pantsed-new-wave-pirate look which unaccountably struck people at the time as just absolutely dead sexy. Well, it actually DID look good on Ant. Most of the rest of the band just kinda looked goofy.

Witness:
 

 
On the musical end, the Ants adopted a distinctive dual-drum attack inspired by the Royal Drummers of Burundi, and, just as critically, enlisted Siouxsie and the Banshees’ founding guitarist Marco Pirroni, who’d become Ant’s co-songwriter and a major influence on the band’s direction just as it started to find wide fame. This version of Adam and the Ants released Kings of the Wild Frontier and Prince Charming, both of which featured more sophisticated song craft than the band’s first iteration, and both of which ate the charts for breakfast. The single “Stand and Deliver,” for example, entered the UK charts at #1, and remained there for weeks.

The band broke up in 1982, and Ant embarked on a solo career, but it was an in-name-only breakup, really, as the creative nexus of Ant and Pirroni remained together. In fact, Pirroni has contributed to every Adam Ant solo album, all the way up to one that came out last year.

Live video of the first incarnation of Adam and the Ants is damnably difficult to find. The most widely available representation of that period is the album Dirk Wears White Sox, released in 1979 in the UK, 1983 in the US (A Jack Sparrow-lookin’ Ant recently reunited with band members of that era to play the album in its entirety), but the best video I could dig up is this delightful miming along with “Plastic Surgery” from Derek Jarman’s Jubilee:
 

 
Here’s one that features their early manager Jordan singing the song “Lou,” and Adam Ant backing her on vocals for “Puerto Rican.”
 

 
When I sought live footage of the far better-known second version of the band, holy shit, motherlode. Search for them on YouTube and you’ll see what I mean. Their visual presentation made them a sought-after act for televised music shows—and of course, the band’s early ‘80s heyday coincided with the launch of MTV, who couldn’t play their videos enough—but among the best footage I’ve found is this late 1981 show taped in Tokyo (setlist). I had always wondered if the distinctive vocal harmonies that featured prominently on their LPs were pulled off well in a live setting. Answer: actually not bad.
 

 
And then there’s this heavy performance of “Dog Eat Dog” in Manchester, 1980:

 
When Kings of the Wild Frontier was released in America, Epic Records, probably sensing that they might have a HUGE new act on their hands—maybe even a teeny-bopper phenomenon—lowered the price of the album to just $3.99 at a time when most albums were in the $6.98 list price range. Between that, Solid Gold and MTV, Adam and the Ants soon became famous in the US as well. Here’s a contemporary documentary about the American Ants invasion that is tons of fun:

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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