A shot of Marc Bolan of T-Rex performing on UK kids music TV show, Supersonic
There are days I really, really love my job. Lucky for you, this is one of them, because I can’t wait to share this super intimate (as well as sort of strange) footage of T.Rex, The Damned, and Thin Lizzy performing on the short-lived kids Britpop-music television show awesomely titled, Supersonic.
Supersonic annual from 1977 featuring Bay City Rollers, David Essex and the star of the show Mike Mansfield
The show was hosted by producer Mike Mansfield, and was targeted to kids and teens as well as filmed in front of a screaming audience full of them - hence its afternoon time slot.
Supersonic only ran for a couple of years and would feature musical performances from all kinds of groups. Some that would distinctly appeal to the shows targeted demographic like the Bay City Rollers, but there were also appearances by legendary rock musicians and glam bands like The Sweet, Slade, Ginger Baker, and The Kinks. I gotta say that the footage of Thin Lizzy doing “Wild One” from their 1975 record, Fighting on Supersonic is really something special. And after you watch it, you can’t help but hope that it made a lasting impression on the lucky kids in that studio.
Phil Lynott on Supersonic
A strange aside - Gary Glitter also made several appearances on the show. Which of course in retrospect sounds like a terrible fucking idea as Glitter’s activities that earned him the title of “pedophile” date back to 1975. Yikes. Anyway, I can’t think of any better way to cleanse your mind of my previous statement than watching a certain Marc Bolan getting doused by a giant bubble machine while lip-synching (and gyrating) his glittery heart out to his 1975 single, “Dreamy Lady.”
T.Rex performing “Dreamy Lady” on the UK kids show, Supersonic
I was thrilled last week when I noticed that an influential, but still pretty obscure musician by the name of Judy Nylon made a few comments on Paul Gallagher’s post about beatnik artist Vali Myers. (Blondie’s Chris Stein chimed in, too.) I’ve long been a fan of her punk duo Snatch, formed in the mid-70s with Patti Palladin, and I thought it was pretty cool that Judy (not to mention Chris Stein, of course!) reads Dangerous Minds.
Here’s an expanded version of a post I did about Snatch from six years ago.
Even the most hardcore rock snob has probably never heard of Snatch. If they have it’s usually in connection with Brian Eno, who they recorded an amazing song about the Red Army Faction with in 1978 (“R.A.F.” was the b-side of the “King’s Lead Hat” single). I discovered them when the elaborate picture sleeve of “All I Want” jumped out at me as I flipped through a well-curated box of 45s at my friend Nate Cimmino’s apartment in the East Village in the mid-1980s. The cover, scuffed and reproduced poorly here, was really something, gold-gilded text and faux silk portraits of hottie punkettes Patti Palladin on one side and Judy Nylon on the other. “They sound like The Shangri-las if they’d have been crack smokers, I think you’ll really like them!” he said.
Nate certainly knew my taste in music! I promptly spent the next few years searching in vain for their ultra rare records. Eventually I found them all. And they’re on the Internet now, of course, so you can check them out for yourself. There is not a whole lot written about them that I can find. They were two ex-pat American girls living in London and Greg Shaw of Bomp Records released their first single in 1976. They recorded sporadically until 1980 and released one compilation album in 1983.
Judy Nylon moved to London in 1970 and was a part of the orbits of both Roxy Music and the Sex Pistols. She was pals with Chrissie Hynde and John Cale and probably was Brian Eno’s girlfriend at some point (I think we can safely assume that “Back in Judy’s Jungle” is about her, possibly even about her snatch), and went on to make an album in 1982 with Adrian Sherwood and members of the New Age Steppers called Pal Judy. Patti Palladin worked with the Flying Lizards and later recorded an incredible album of cover song duets with ex-New York Doll Johnny Thunders titled Copy Cats. It’s one of my top favorite albums of all time and some of the very best music Thunders ever made.
Judy Nylon is also credited by Eno as helping him accidentally “discover” ambient music:
“My friend Judy Nylon visited me and brought me a record of eighteenth-century harp music. After she had gone, and with some considerable difficulty, I put on the record [Eno had just been released from the hospital and was bedridden]. Having laid down, I realized that the amplifier was set at an extremely low level, and that one channel of the stereo had failed completely. Since I hadn’t the energy to get up and improve matters, the record played on almost inaudibly. This presented what was for me a new way of hearing music—as part of the ambience of the environment just as the color of the light and the sound of the rain were parts of that ambience. It is for this reason that I suggest listening to my pieces at comparatively low levels, even to the extent that it frequently falls below the threshold of audibility.”
While I was in the process of my very important “research” for a post I did for Dangerous Minds last week on a vintage collection of Swedish bubblegum trading cards, I came across more curious Swedish pop-culture artifacts - paper dolls that were made in the late 60s and 70s of various movie stars and musicians. Groovy.
Steve Priest of The Sweet vintage Swedish paper doll
The dolls originally appeared in various Swedish magazines. Personally, whoever is responsible for thinking it was a good idea to create a paper doll in the image of Prince (pictured above which is actually dated 1989) in his underwear ready to be dressed up in his finest purple paper suit, is a damn genius.
I’ve included a shit-ton of paper dolls of famous folks like Brigitte Bardot, Bianca Jagger (?) and lollypop enthusiast Telly Savalas (!) after the jump that you can print out yourself and dress up (if that’s how you get your kicks - I don’t judge and neither should you) at home or at work if you’re bored. You can also purchase some of the actual vintage cutouts (which don’t come cheap) on eBay or Etsy.
Björn Ulvaeus (ABBA) 1976
“Kojak” (played by actor Telly Savalas in the 1970s television cop show Kojak)
During the opening sequence of this documentary on the Canadian music industry from 1973, The Rolling Stones rip through “Jumping Jack Flash” as the crowd at the Montreal Forum go wild. Mick Jagger struts across the stage, before dousing the audience with a bucket of water and handfuls of rose petals—why? I dunno, each to their own, I suppose…
Not to be outdone, Keith Richards plays his guitar as if each chord struck will bring pestilence, plague, death and disaster down on some faraway land. Richards plucks at his guitar with great gothic dramatic posturing—while in the background Mick Taylor plays the tune.
By 1973, the rock ‘n’ rollers of the early 1950s were middle-aged, mostly married with kids. The new generation of youth who filled their place were long-haired, turned on, tuned in, many believing that music could change the world. Where once rock had been about having a good time, now the feelings it engendered were the driving force for political change. Pop music made the kids feel good—and that feeling was how many thought the world should be.
Well, it never happened, as music—no matter how radical—is in the end… entertainment. Those who took their political education from twelve-inch vinyl platters were quickly disappointed and soon awakened by pop’s utter failure to liberate the world, bring peace and harmony and all that. Nice though this idea certainly was, it was all just a pantomime—like Keef having fun hamming up his guitar playing.
Of course, the music industry is a far more sinister business than this—as this documentary Rock-a-Bye inadvertently points out. From the start, our choice of music was manipulated by long hairs with no taste in fashion as shown by their suits and ties and ill-fitting tank tops. These men picked the records that received the necessary air time to guarantee their success—thus making billions for the music industry. As Douglas Rain quotes one cynical record plugger in his commentary, who claimed if he played the British national anthem “God Save the Queen” on the radio often enough it would be a hit. The youth were only there to be manipulated and sold product—plus ça change….
This is a good illuminating documentary and apart from The Stones, there are performances from Ronnie Hawkins (plus interview), Muddy Waters and Alice Cooper. There’s also an interview with Zal Yanovsky of the Lovin’ Spoonful who lets rip a four-letter word (mostly bleeped out) tirade on the state of music in the 1970s. What Yanovsky forgets is that music is a business and only the amateurs and the rich will play for free.
A 67-year-old mom from Canada is proving that getting older simply means getting more brutal. She calls herself “The Grindmother” and she’s no mere novelty. Her vocals are paint-peeling face-rippers and when she tells you to “clean your fucking room,” I’d suggest minding what momma says.
The Grindmother got her start as the supportive parent of a member of Canada’s Corrupt Leaders, obliging to lay down some vocals on one of her son’s songs. She obviously had a good time with that project because now she’s got her own gig. Her sick shrieks grabbed the attention of Ozzy Osbourne, who recently tweeted a link to her video for “Any Cost.”
You can download the track from her Bandcamp or watch the video here:
Since the holidays are coming up, I’d thought I share with these limited edition Trent Reznor boots by N.I.C.E. Collective. The Reznor Combat Boots sell for $1,100 (which isn’t so nice).
The Reznor Combat Boot is a limited edition black ink & wax finish that we recently created for our friend Trent Reznor of NIN. The vibram lug sole is the perfect all-terrain tread for the modern explorer. Built locally in San Francisco, this unique adaptation of the N.I.C.E. Collective Combat boot will only be sold through our online shop for a limited time. Starting today.
So if you have money to burn, or you’re a trust fund kid industrial music lover who needs to prove what a deeply hardcore NIN fan you are, these shit-kicking “Reznor boots” are for you! It’s not as if you couldn’t find something similar enough for ten bucks somewhere, but here ya go…
Kurt Cobain wearing his famous sweater on MTV: Unplugged, 1993
The sweater worn by Kurt Cobain during Nirvana’s 1993’s MTV: Unplugged performance sold at an auction on Saturday for a cool $140,800. Four months after the taping of the show, Cobain committed suicide in an living space above his garage in his home on Lake Washington Boulevard in Seattle.
A photo from Julien’s Auction of Kurt Cobain’s “MTV: Unplugged” sweater
According to Auction house Julien’s, the sweater (which came to auction by way of a “friend” of the Cobain family) was expected to fetch at least 100K. Damn. Here’s the description for the sweater that was listed in Julien’s “Icons and Idols: Rock N Roll” auction:
A blend of acrylic, mohair and Lycra with five-button closure (one button absent), with two exterior pockets, a burn hole and discoloration near left pocket and discoloration on right pocket.
No word on who the lucky owner of this very spendy piece of grunge history is.
One can surmise that Pierce’s family decided not to participate with Powell and Voss’s movie bio and the filmmakers were left to put together this “feature-length” documentary with just talking head interviews with former Gun Club members Kid Congo Powers, Ward Dotson, Terry Graham, Jim Duckworth and Dee Pop along with Henry Rollins, Lemmy, John Doe and Pleasant Gehman. Because that’s all it is, basically. Under different circumstances, it would have no doubt been a better film.
ON THE OTHER HAND, I’ve watched this 75-minute old movie twice and if you are a fan of Jeffrey Lee Pierce and the Gun Club, this modest film is a must. Obviously there is a lot of “myth” that’s grown around the person of Jeffrey Lee, who died at the age of 37 from a brain haemorrhage in 1996 and although this is more of an “oral history” than a documentary per se, it gets to the heart of the truth about the real Jeffrey Lee Pierce, who by turns is described as brilliant, tortured, loveable but mostly just as a complete and utter asshole and colossal, detestable fuckup junkie and drunk.
Although little of what the viewer learns about the life and times of Jeffrey Lee Pierce in Ghost on the Highway is particularly, er, complimentary, it didn’t really change my feelings about the man one iota. Anyone who knows anything about him knows where the story arc trends after the commercial break in this low budget Behind the Music, so it comes as zero surprise how many people thought the guy was a punk. Clearly he was an asshole, but he was also a great artist who made transcendent music. I only ever saw him from standing in the audience, so he gets a pass from me.
After the jump, a ‘Mother Juno’-era Gun Club set shot in Los Angeles in 1988…
It all started out as a joke. A Finnish heavy metal band wearing Gwar-like costumes enters the cornball Eurovision Song Contest in order to freak the squares out. What happened was totally unexpected. They won! And Finland went apeshit. The band, Lordi, became national heroes, a source of enormous pride for the people of Finland. It may be about as hip as a Christmas-themed sweater, but the Eurovision Song Contest is taken very seriously with an estimated audience as high as 600 million people in 56 countries.
Lordi’s win made them a national treasure. The year was 2006. There was even a Lordi cola drink! By 2007 Finland was done with Lordi. Once the fanfare subsided, the home of the whooper swan and Hanoi Rocks banished Lordi to the “where are they now?” file, the dead zone where Spinal Tap, William Hung and The Singing Nun reside. The band that had once been Finland’s ticket to International glory had become an embarrassment.
The worst part of Lordi’s fall from grace is that it really was a case of a joke backfiring. What was intended as a subversive act was seen as a sellout by the audience Lordi really wanted to cultivate: the metalheads. Imagine if The Clash had appeared on Star Search. Lordi lost whatever credibility they had and the Eurovision Song Contest win killed their career while the cheers of millions faded into silence.
Filmmaker Antti Haase has made a terrific documentary about Lordi’s frontman Tomi Putaansuu called Monsterman. The film’s title refers to the title of Lordi’s biggest hit song. Putaansuu, who goes by the name “Mr. Lordi,” and Haase were childhood friends who had lost contact over the years. Mr. Lordi became a rocker. Haase made movies. When it came time for Putaansuu to stage his comeback he contacted Haase about the idea of documenting the rocker’s return to the limelight. Haase agreed and the resulting documentary is a touching, melancholic and deeply thoughtful look at the perils of fame and stardom.
Monsterman deservedly won the Jury Award at this year’s Austin Film Festival. Haase has directed a rock doc that has the cinematic touches one associates with narrative art films. This a beautifully shot movie that aspires to communicate not just by filming talking heads and concert footage but through a visual poetry that evokes feeling in ways that transcend mere reportage. Monsterman has soul.
Monsterman manages a level of intimacy with its subject without ever revealing Putaansuu’s face. In fact, we never see the faces of any of the members of Lordi until close to end of the film - and only one. The effect is quite dramatic because the person revealed is someone we’ve grown to care about. Putaansuu was furious that director Haase had betrayed an agreement they had to not unmask anyone in the band. As a result, Putaansuu has disowned Monsterman. Given the sympathetic depiction of Lordi and the overall excellence of the movie, I think Putaansuu will have a change of heart. In fact, according to Haase the healing has begun. As more accolades roll in, I expect Putaansuu to hit the talk show circuit. And why not? It’s all good theater.
Rock and roll is particularly cruel to its aging stars. For every Keith Richards or Patti Smith, there’s a dozen rockers who’ve fallen into irrelevancy or simply burned out. Does anyone take Axl Rose, Steven Tyler or Sinéad O’Connor seriously anymore? Some older rockers have taken to writing memoirs to keep their hand in the game. It’s a graceful way to keep creating without making a fool of yourself. Others, like Ted Nugent or Meatloaf, just go insane. Sometimes dying is they best way to keep your street cred. Putaansuu isn’t taking his fall from favor lying down. He’s the phoenix who’ll rise from the ashes. It’s the metal thing to do.
In Monsterman, Putaansuu is heroic in his efforts to pull himself up by his boot straps (which are enormous by the way) and resurrect his career. He knows no other world. In many ways, like most rockers I’ve known, myself included, he’s been in a state of arrested development since he was a teenager. He is still surrounded by his vast collection of action figures, masks and horror videos. He confesses that he’s too much of a child to have children himself. He lives alone in a snowbound cabin 50 miles from the Arctic Circle and is still doted upon by his loving mother. His strategy to return to the status of his glory days may actually work. The movie Monsterman is a damned good start.
Shortly after winning the Eurovision Song Contest, Putaansuu told the New York Times…
Being a hero is easy: you just have to win the Eurovision Song Contest, apparently. Until a few weeks ago the whole nation was against us totally — they did not want us to represent Finland. Now all the magazines in Finland are printing Lordi masks for children. There’s not much logic going on inside. But let’s face it, people are stupid.
Tomi Putaansuu is hoping they’ll get stupid again.
I never cared much for “The Way We Were” as Barbra Streisand sings it, but if you’re going to put on Larry “Wild Man” Fischer’s version when I’m around, you’d better bring a whole box of tissues. There are going to be all kinds of bodily fluids happening.
As Fischer is il miglior fabbro, his is the superior version in every way. In just over one minute—less than a third of the original’s length—Fischer delivers three times the emotion of Streisand’s rendition. He chooses an arrangement that is simple and direct, not smeared over with goopy strings and petroleum jelly wah guitar. And with Babs singing, that opening line about “mem’ries” illuminating “the corners of my mind” never rang true. Wild Man Fischer, now there was a guy whose mind had corners: pointy, dark, unswept intersections where peeled scabs and fingernail clippings fought cobwebs for space. I can picture a Sub-Zero refrigerator, a Christmas painting by Thomas Kinkade and a Bosendorfer in Streisand’s head, maybe even a few alcoves—but corners? Don’t shit a shitter, lady.
According to WFMU, Fischer and Mark Mothersbaugh recorded this tearjerker for the last episode of Pee-wee’s Playhouse (“Playhouse for Sale,” aired in November 1990), but the show’s producers decided not to use it. The song belatedly came out on the 2001 promo CD Mutato Meatballs Smorgasbord, a collection of tracks recorded at Mothersbaugh’s Sunset Boulevard studio. That’s Mothersbaugh playing the keys, and it sounds to me like he’s singing harmony, too, though I have only the testimony of my half-ruined ears.
(If you need more Wild Man Fischer, the worthy documentary dErailRoaDed is now quite cheap on DVD.)