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The time John, Paul, George and Ringo took a ‘trip’ to buy a (fascist) fantasy island
08.15.2014
06:38 am

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:
The Beatles
Magic Alex

gree67beat.jpg
 
The Summer of Love 1967: John Lennon was tired of Britian, tired of living a life in public, tired of the relentless clamor of fans, and the dreary British weather.

The Beatles had stopped touring in 1966 and were now focusing their energies on being a studio band. Lennon wanted some peace and quiet—somewhere he could have a life of privacy.

At a meeting The Beatles held to discuss plans for their next film The Magical Mystery Tour in July 1967, Lennon raised the suggestion of the band buying a Greek island for them all to live on. As Lennon said at the time:

We’re all going to live there, perhaps forever, just coming home for visits. Or it might just be six months a year. It’ll be fantastic, all on our own on this island. There some little houses which we’ll do up and knock together and live communally.

They would build four villas on the island to provide accommodation for The Beatles and their families. An entertainment complex and a recording studio would be built in the middle, and there would also be homes for staff and friends.
 
beatles67.jpg
 
Amusingly, the idea may have been inspired by Gerry Anderson’s kids puppet series Thunderbirds, where the fictional Tracy family lived on a specially altered island from which they operated. The Beatles had lived together before when learning their trade in Hamburg, and of course, memorably on screen in Help!, where they shared a home in four connected houses.

According to Beatles publicist Derek Talyor in his autobiography 20 Years Adrift:

The four Beatles would have their network at the centre of the compound: a dome of glass and iron tracery not unlike the old Crystal Palace over the mutual creative/play area, from which arbours and avenues would lead off like spokes from a wheel to four vast and incredibly beautiful separate living units. In the outer grounds, the houses of the inner clique: Neil (Aspinall), Mal (Evans), Terry (Doran) and Derek, complete with partners, families and friends…

Lennon may also have been talked into it by Yanni Alexis Mardas, better known as Magic Alex, the Greek electronics whizzkid who impressed Lennon with his Kinetic Light Sculptures at the Indica Gallery. As Paul McCartney later said in a biography by Barry Miles’ Many Years From Now:

Alex invited John on a boat holiday in Greece, and we were all then invited. There was some story of buying a Greek island or something. It was all so sort of abstract but the first thing we had to do is go to Greece and see if we even liked it out there. The idea was get an island where you can just do what you want, a sort of hippie commune where nobody’d interfere with your lifestyle.

I suppose the main motivation for that would probably be that no one could stop you smoking. Drugs was probably the main reason for getting some island, and then all the other community things that were around then… it was drug-induced ambition, we’d just be sitting around: “Wouldn’t it be great? The lapping water, sunshine, we’d be playing. We’d get a studio there. Well, its possible these days with mobiles and…” We had lots of ideas like that. The whole Apple enterprise was the result of those ideas.

The plan was serious enough for Alex to strike a deal with Greek government giving The Beatles diplomatic immunity—this allowed the band to carry drugs into the country. As part of the deal to obtain diplomatic immunity, the Fab Four had to pose for pictures for the Ministry of Tourism, this was arranged without the band’s knowledge.
 
greecearrivaljpjj1.jpg
 
greecebeatlesrgjp.jpg
 

 
H/T Beatles Bible & All Things Beatles
 
More fantasy island and Beatles holiday snaps, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Listen to ‘Transform!!!’ Electric Würms’ wild cosmic jam, exclusive premiere
08.14.2014
12:23 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Wayne Coyne
Electric Würms
Steven Drozd


 
Today’s track premiere from Electric Würms’ Musik, Die Schwer Zu Twerk (“Music that’s Hard to Twerk to”) is “Transform!!!”

Electric Würms is the side project of Flaming Lips multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd and Wayne Coyne (who steps away from his normal frontman role here and plays bass) working with Nashville-based psych-rockers Linear Downfall. It’s a spacey, raw cosmic jam that Pitchfork called a “Live-Evil-era Miles (by way of Yoko Ono’s Fly) psych-funk shriek.”

Musik, Die Schwer Zu Twerk comes out on CD, vinyl and iTunes via Warner Bros. Records on August 19th.
 

Posted by Electric Würms | Discussion
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‘Prog Is A 4 Letter Word’: Exclusive Flaming Lips prog rock playlist


 
Enjoy this exclusive mix compiled for Dangerous Minds readers by Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd of The Flaming Lips.

Prog Is a 4 Letter Word

“South Side of the Sky” - Yes
“Siberian Khatru” - Yes
“Knife Edge” - ELP
“Watcher of the Skies” - Genesis
“Archangel Thunderbird” (proto prog-punk) - Amon Düül II
“Darkness” - Van der Graaf Generator
“Yours Is No Disgrace” - Yes
“Cygnus X-1 book 1” - Rush
“The Inner Mounting Flame” - Mahavishnu Orchestra
“Thick As A Brick” - Jethro Tull

The pair’s Flaming Lips sideproject, recorded as Electric Würms with Nashville-based psych-rock band Linear Downfall, is called Musik, Die Schwer Zu Twerk. The EP is comes out on CD, vinyl and iTunes via Warner Bros. Records on August 19th. Later today we’ll premiere the Miles Davis-influenced track “Transform” from the new release.
 

 

Posted by Electric Würms | Discussion
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‘Mission: Impossible’ vs ‘Norwegian Wood:’ the world’s first mashup, 1968


 
There was a time I would have gone to the mat in defense of the idea that the first ever mashup release was 1996’s “Whipped Cream Mixes” single by Columbus, OH’s Evolution Control Committee, a marvelous collision of Public Enemy a cappella tracks with music beds by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. If you don’t know them, my God, take a few minutes out of your life to properly dig some awesomeness:
 

 

 
Though that single is an acknowledged influence on the UK bootleg scene, I was mistaken in my Ohio-proud belief that the ECC invented the now-standard “Band vs Band” form. But I was educated. By the graces of Regretsy creator April Winchell’s amazing MP3 share page, I was alerted to the existence of composer/arranger Alan Copeland’s 1968 work “Mission: Impossible Theme/Norwegian Wood,” whereon Copeland’s chorus sang the lyrics to the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” over an orchestral performance of Lalo Schifrin’s indelible theme music from the secret agent TV series.
 

 
Copeland was already known for his work in The Modernaires, and on television with Your Hit Parade and The Red Skelton Show when ABC records released his weird hybrid as a single. That single won a Grammy award in the Best Contemporary Pop Performance, Chorus category. According to several sources I’ve found, The Alan Copeland Singers actually performed “Norwegian Wood” on the Skelton show, but frustratingly, I can find no indication of whether it was performed with the “Mission: Impossible” music, nor can I find any video of the appearance online. Frankly, for a Grammy-winning major label single, the tune is an elusive motherfucker. The 7” photo above is of my copy—can you make out the 98¢ price sticker? The idea of finding it that cheaply nowadays is, um, wishful. (To be clear, I paid way, WAY less than the eBay seller at that link is asking—no 7” is worth a shopping cart full of groceries.)

The song resurfaced in 1997 on a compilation from Rhino Records (naturally!) called Golden Throats 4: Celebrities Butcher the Beatles, a comp that is itself out of print and rare now. I managed to find it on Grooveshark, but that site’s embeds evidently don’t work on mobile devices, so for readers who browse DM on a phone or tablet, I’ve also included a YouTube link to a faithful cover version, by an Australian vocal group called the Unisounds. Somehow, you will hear this song, dammit.

Per IMDB, Alan Copeland is still living, and teaching choir in Berkeley, CA.
 

Mission Impossible Theme Norwegian Wood by Alan Copeland Singers on Grooveshark

 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Led Zeppelin vs Beatles: ‘Whole Lotta Helter Skelter’
Mashup: Donna Summer and Booker T & the MGs: ‘I Feel Love’ / ‘Green Onions’
Beck on the butcher block: Illegal Art’s ‘Deconstructing Beck’
Bunnymen vs White Stripes, Bee Gees vs Killing Joke and more: new mashups from Go Home Productions

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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The director of ‘Heavy Metal Parking Lot’ returns with ‘Led Zeppelin Played Here’
08.14.2014
08:45 am

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
Led Zeppelin
Jeff Krulik


 
I’m sure that many—if not most—of our good-looking, high IQ readers have seen quirky documentarian Jeff Krulik’s underground classic “Heavy Metal Parking Lot,” a short movie shot outside a Judas Priest concert in Landover, Maryland that exchanged hands on VHS tapes in the 80s and 90s. Krulik made a sequel with some Neil Diamond fans in that very same parking lot in 1996 and went on the road with McHale’s Navy actor Ernest Borgnine in his customized RV in 1997’s Ernest Borgnine On the Bus. His Heavy Metal Picnic came out in 2010 and now Jeff Krulik returns with a fun new film about a Maryland youth center where Led Zeppelin maybe… might have…. supposedly… (definitely!) performed on their first US tour.

From the director’s statement:

I recently finished a feature documentary called Led Zeppelin Played Here, which is my effort to prove that Led Zeppelin’s first DC area concert was in a youth center gymnasium in front of 50 confused teenagers on a snowy Monday night in January 1969. This whole project came about as I was set to do a film called “Maryland’s Woodstock,” about the Laurel Pop Festival which took place in July 1969, one month before the Woodstock. I wanted to highlight that there was this forgotten pop festival in our area, and basically tell the story of that two day concert, featuring Led Zeppelin headlining one night.

But I soon found a story arc as I connected the dots of Led Zeppelin’s performances: in May, they shared a bill as opening band for The Who at Merriweather Post. And in February they were on an opening slot with Vanilla Fudge at the Baltimore Civic Center. But the real curiosity was their first local concert which was said to have taken place on January 20, 1969 at the Wheaton Youth Center, a non-descript multi-purpose room and gymnasium in a Maryland suburb. And it happened to be the night of Richard Nixon’s Inauguration. And the weather was terrible. And 50 people were there, tops.

But surely this must be an urban legend. Or is it?

What I loved about Krulik’s charming, low key film is that the whole mystery of this did-it-or-did-it-not occur spur of the moment Led Zeppelin show is something that he uncovered while making a film about something else entirely. The Rashomon-like onscreen narrative becomes quite intriguing as the viewer goes along with the filmmaker on his fact finding mission, Krulik serving as a dogged rock snob gumshoe on the trail of this elusive and either legendary—or apocryphal—Led Zeppelin show. In the end, we’re left to decide for ourselves if this concert actually took place or not, his Columbo with a MOJO subscription sleuthing having provided no definitive answers.

I think it did happen, but… but then again I wasn’t there. Like an a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma that had no surviving posters, handbills or even a single photograph (let along a bootleg tape) ultimately we will probably never know if Led Zeppelin played at the Wheaton Youth Center on January 20th, 1969. They only people who know the truth were there, and even some of them aren’t sure.

Led Zeppelin Played Here screens tonight at Cinefamily in Los Angeles as part of the annual Don’t Knock the Rock film festival. Jeff Krulik will be there in person — plus there will be a Q&A moderated by Michael Des Barres of Little Steven’s Underground Garage on SiriusXM. Get tickets here.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd: Musing on Miles Davis


 
In which our guest editors Steven Drozd and Wayne Coyne of Electric Würms talk about the many unexpected ways in which the great Miles Davis has influenced their own music.

“When you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note that makes it good or bad.”—Miles Davis

Electric Wurms’ Musik, Die Schwer Zu Twerk EP is comes out on CD, vinyl and iTunes via Warner Bros. Records on August 19th. Later today we’ll premiere the Miles Davis-influenced track “Transform!!!”  from the new release.

“Man, sometimes it takes you a long time to sound like yourself.”—Miles Davis

 

Posted by Electric Würms | Discussion
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Beatle wigs—seriously, what the hell?
08.14.2014
06:24 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music

Tags:
Beatles


Alfred Hitchcock does his best Ringo impression

Beatle wigs were surely the biggest game-changer in the celebrity merchandise racket until the introduction of screenprinted t-shirts. While actors and singers had launched sartorial fads since the advent of the star system (and is selling crap to the rubes not half the point of said system?), I’m not aware of, nor has more digging than I really wanted to do turned up, for example, a trademarked line of bobby socks emblazoned with Frank Sinatra’s smilin’ mug, or a clothier who marketed a specifically Elvis-branded shirt-jac. But the way the Beatles seismic popularity completely blew up western culture? Cuban-heeled ankle boots were ubiquitously rebranded as “Beatle” boots, and collarless Edwardian suits were sold as “Beatle” suits. But those were garments that already existed. The wigs? I suspect the widespread desire of fans to purchase crappy wigs to emulate their heroes’ hair may have been novel. There’s maybe an arguable precedent in the Fess Parker-inspired fad for raccoon fur caps in the ‘50s, but a hat doesn’t mean the same thing as a wig does it? The semiotic is a different one.

I almost kind of even get why it happened. In the U.S., where the Beatles’ hair inspired the most scandalous media attention, crew-cuts were the ubiquitous men’s haircut, so growing one’s hair out to the newly trendy length could take a year. If you rocked a duck’s ass, you could just forego your pomade and trim your bangs to achieve the style, but DAs were for greasers who probably hated the Beatles anyway, not clean teens who stayed home on Sunday night to watch Ed Sullivan’s “really big shoe.”
 

Ed Sullivan.

“Necessity” being the mother of invention, the Beatle wig was born. Never mind that actually wearing one made you look less like Paul McCartney than a forgotten Howard brother who got kicked out of the Three Stooges for lurking around playgrounds, the damn things really caught on. Can you imagine if this had stayed a thing? Suppose gazillions of kids bought Quiet Riot wigs—don’t let mom throw out your ultra-collectible Kevin DuBrow pre-hairplugs model!—Vanilla Ice wigs, Jonas Brothers wigs. THE HORROR!
 

NOT A COPY—THE REAL THING? Um, unless they scalped Ringo, this is pretty much the definition of a copy.

And of course today, as with all things Beatles, original wigs now cost a fortune. (A friend of mine once quipped, on observing original press Beatles records at a collectors convention which were fetching car-payment prices despite looking like they were the victims of a piss-deluge and a vigorous flaying, that one could probably just write the word “Beatles” in jelly on a piece of white toast and some bug-eyed, bowl-mulletted dipshit would give you money for it.) Some of the molded plastic ones, which amusingly foreshadow DEVO’s New Traditionalists-era plastic pompadours, can go for an astonishing $600. But even the ghastly cash-in-quick cheapos that were hastily stitched together from fun-fur can fetch some serious bucks.
 

Nifty.

Here’s a fun newsreel doc from the terrific British Pathé discussing the fad, and even showing the details of the wigs’ manufacture.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Prog perfection: Van der Graaf Generator’s ONLY live performance of ‘A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers’
08.14.2014
06:09 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
prog rock
Van der Graaf Generator
Peter Hammill


 
From the Dangerous Minds archives…

Although history will recall the Van der Graaf Generator as being a “progressive rock” group, in many respects, this assessment has more to do with timing than the actual music this far ahead-of-their-time band actually made. Imagine if Pawn Hearts, their masterpiece, was released in 1981 instead of 1971, if you take my point.

It wasn’t for nuthin’ that the likes of John Lydon, Julian Cope and Marc Almond were all such massive fans of the group. David Bowie, too.

And speaking of Pawn Hearts, this is an album I’ve loved for decades, and yet I remained blissfully unaware of the existence of this single, solitary live filmed performance of “A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers,” the sprawling, 23-minute-long epic suite consisting of ten separate movements that takes up the entirety of that album’s side two. I found this by accident yesterday, looking for something else. My jaw dropped as I watched it.

This 1972 performance from Belgium television—which is nothing short of astonishing and quite intensely intense—was shot piecemeal and edited together because it was impossible to play the song all in one go. Apparently, this is the only time “A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers” was ever performed live like this by the original classic line-up of Hugh Banton, Guy Evans, Peter Hammill and David Jackson.

Peter Hammill told this to the Sounds music newspaper about the theme of the enigmatic suite:

“It’s just the story of the lighthouse keeper, that’s it on its basic level. And there’s the narrative about his guilt and his complexes about seeing people die and letting people die, and not being able to help. In the end—well, it doesn’t really have an end, it’s really up to you to decide. He either kills himself or he rationalises it all and can live in peace… Then on the psychic/religious level it’s about him coming to terms with himself, and at the end there is either him losing it all completely to insanity, or transcendence; it’s either way at the end… And then it’s also about the individual coming to terms with society—that’s the third level…”

 

 
Van der Graaf Generator performed “A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers” each night of their 2013 summer tour dates.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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12-hour ambient music pieces from ‘Blade Runner,’ ‘Alien,’ ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Star Wars’
08.13.2014
02:28 pm

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
Star Wars
Blade Runner
Alien
ambient
Dr. Who


 
Before the advent of recording media, a piece of music could be quite long without its duration meriting much notice, but when the mechanical limitations of the 7” 45rpm single codified the length of a song at about 3 1/2 minutes, the pop-listening western world really adapted its musical mindset to that standard, to the point where even a massive hit like “Hey Jude” drew anxious notice from radio for being 7 minutes long. And now there’s QuickHitz (“Twice the music, all the time”), a radio format that cuts off every song at the two-minute mark, which, if it catches on in a big way—and face it, have stranger things not caught on?—will surely result in loads of pop singles being produced at under two-minute lengths.

The Residents are prophetic yet again.

But in avant-garde classical and artrock circles, songs that seem crazy long by pop radio standards are a perfectly normal part of the listening experience. After all, what impact would Oneida’s infamous 14-minute, one note song “Sheets of Easter” have had if it were three minutes long? How about Television’s “Marquee Moon?” King Crimson’s “Starless?” Flaming Lips’ 24-hour song7 Skies H3?” And those examples are all well within the rock idiom—I haven’t even broached the New Age, noise, and ambient genres. So many of us have been acculturated to think of long pieces of music as “pretentious” or “indulgent,” products of anti-populist ivory tower navel gazers who are hostile to average listeners. Well you know what? Fuck your shitty attention span.

The Fayetteville, AR composer Cheesy Nirvosa has been making glitchy, drony compositions since the mid-oughts, and under the name “crysknife007,” he’s established a YouTube channel to disseminate conceptual pieces of lengths that could fairly be seen as downright punitive to many listeners. These are often the sorts of things that, in a LaMonte Youngish kinda way, can be more interesting to talk about than actually listen to, especially since many of these works are 12 hours in duration. “12 Hours of Pi Being Dialed on a Rotary Phone.” “Yoda Laughs for 12 Hours.” “PSY Says HANGOVER for 12 Hours.” “6 Tone Car Alarm for 12 Hours.” (I recommend city dwellers skip that last one, it’s waaaaaaaay too much like ordinary life.)

But while a few of these ideas come off as overly winking and even mildly irritating noise-artist stunts, some of them are absolutely lovely—specifically, pieces made from looped ambient sounds culled from science fiction movies. The general thrum of Ridley Scott’s dystopian future Los Angeles filtered through Rick Deckard’s apartment windows in Blade Runner? That absolutely holds up as drone music, as does the TARDIS sound effect from Doctor Who and various spaceship engine sounds from the Alien and Star Wars franchises. I endorse playing more than one of these at once, remixing them yourselves in your browser with the pause and volume controls, whatever. Knock yourself out. Maybe even, I dunno, listen to one of ‘em for 12 hours.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Time to give prog rock’s artist-in-residence Roger Dean his due
08.13.2014
02:03 pm

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
prog
Roger Dean
progrock


Yes, Relayer, 1974
 
The art of Roger Dean is synonymous with prog rock, and for very good reason. Dean’s dreamy scapes and ethereal use of line and color are such an integral part of the genre, a Yes album cover has just as much cultural resonance as the music itself (and has arguably inspired many imitators). Born to an engineer father in the British Army and a mother who studied fashion design, Dean was primed from an early age not just towards aesthetics, but with a regard for space and balance of form. A childhood spent primarily abroad in Greece, Cyprus and Hong Kong may have cemented his love of the exotic vista.

Now, any ole’ blog could give you a listicle of awesome Yes album covers (and awesome they are), but we here at Dangerous Minds feel the lesser-known creations of Dean are just as fascinating. In art school, he actually studied industrial design, focusing on silver-smithing and furniture design—perhaps predicting his penchant for combining modern and ancient visuals. His professional career began with the sea urchin chair—a sort of bean bag chair with a brain that conformed to the sitter’s body (the way bean bag chars are actually supposed to, but never do).

Dean also designed the “retreat pod” featured in A Clockwork Orange and the distinctive seating for Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in 1968. That same year, he did his first album cover for a band called Gun, a promising piece that hints at his developing style. His first album cover for Yes was Fragile in 1971 and Dean designed the now-classic Yes “bubble” logo, which first appeared on the Close to the Edge cover. His name and reputation has been closely associated with Yes—and prog rock in general—ever since. Dean’s work has still remained diverse in genre however. He even specced out a green “Home for Life” living space that might as well be from one of his paintings.

The man himself is famous for saying, “I don’t really think of myself as a fantasy artist but as a landscape painter,” and it’s the principles of landscape drafting that make his work so fascinating. His anthology, Views is a fantastic collection of his work, and a beautiful study of a seminal artist.
 

Sea Urchin chair designed by Roger Dean, first produced in 1964
 

A Telegraph spread on Dean’s “retreat pod” chair, which was featured in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange
 

Gun, Gun (1968), Dean’s first album cover
 

“Earth and Fire, Earth and Fire” (1970), very reminiscent of the windows in Dean’s later architecture
 

The original Virgin Records logo (also known as the “Gemini” or “Virgin Twins” logo) from 1972. A variation on this logo was used for the Virgin spin-off label Caroline Records.
 

Roger Dean’s “Green Castle,” early 70’s
 

“Freyja’s Castle,”  finished on daughter Freyja’s first birthday, 1987
 

Model of Dean’s “Home for Life”
 

Interior view of Dean’s “Home for Life”

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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