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Ian Curtis of Joy Division, his final interview
07.15.2016
12:03 pm

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Music

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Ian Curtis would have turned 60 today. Two years ago, the website post-punk.com celebrated Curtis’ birthday with a fascinating contribution to Joy Division studies, a complete transcript of one of the few surviving interviews with Curtis that exist.

The interview took place on February 28, 1980, before JD’s gig at Preston Warehouse. (In 1999 a recording of that show was released as Preston 28 February 1980, as it happens.) “Spyda” from Burnley Musician’s Collective interviewed Curtis for a BBC Radio Blackburn program called “Spinoff.” You can actually hear the rest of the band doing a soundcheck in the background.
 

 
In 1988 the interview appeared on BBC Manchester with some previously unheard snippets. The interview is variously called the BBC Blackburn interview or the Radio Lancashire interview. This is actually considered to be the last interview Curtis ever gave.

In the interview Curtis, asked about “the current state of new wave,” replies thus:
 

Don’t know. I think it’s, a lot of it tends to have lost its edge really. There’s quite a few new groups that I’ve heard.. odd records. Record or have seen maybe such as, eh, I like, I think it’s mostly old Factory groups really, I like the groups on Factory; A Certain Ratio and Section 25. I tend not to listen, when I’m listening to records, I don’t listen to much new wave stuff, i tend to listen to the stuff I used to listen to a few years back but sort of odd singles. I know somebody who works in a record shop where I live and I’ll go in there and he’ll play me “have you heard this single?” singles by er the group called The Tights, so an obscure thing … and a group called, I think, er Bauhaus, a London group, that’s one single. There’s no one I completely like that I can say “well I’ve got all this person’s records. i think he’s great” or “this group’s records” it’s just, again, odd things

 
Bauhaus had released “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” in 1979. Aside from that, the band released “Dark Entries” in January 1980 and that was the entire Bauhaus catalog when Curtis did that interview.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Adam Ant’s brief career in comedy, 1982
07.15.2016
11:32 am

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Amusing
Music
Punk

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Adam Ant trying his hand at comedy during his appearance on the Cannon and Ball show, 1982.
 
Here’s something you don’t see everyday—Adam Ant dressed up as a caballero dancing his own version of a “Jarabe Tapatío” (or Mexican “hat dance”) during his appearance on Cannon and Ball, a UK comedy television program that was on the air from 1979 to 1988. Say WHAT?

Of course seeing Adam Ant dressed up like a caballero isn’t really much of a stretch given the fact that for much of his career he looked like a punk rock version of Tonto—but that’s besides the point. On the show, the then 28-year-old Ant (born Stuart Leslie Goddard) and the show’s stars, Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball (Thomas Derbyshire and Robert Harper respectively) put on an amusing song and dance routine with Ant playing his role to the hilt all while maintaining a straight face.

According an article published back in 2013, Ant actually credited his appearance on the show with helping his 1982 smash “Goody Two Shoes” hit number one on the UK singles chart. While the footage isn’t great great quality it is a fantastic “who knew?” moment involving one of my fave raves. Plus Adam Ant lipsynching for his life and dancing by himself for three-plus minutes until he’s out of breath on Cannon and Ball doing you guessed it, “Goody Two Shoes.” Vive Le Ant and Olé!
 

Adam Ant performing in a comedy routine on ‘Cannon and Ball’ along with his totally 80s precursor of punk rock aerobics

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Behold the ‘New Romantic’ Barbie: A vintage ‘Boy George’ doll straight from 1984
07.15.2016
10:32 am

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Amusing
Music
Pop Culture

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A 12-inch version of Boy George made by toy company, LJN in 1984.
 
Back in the magical year of 1984 toy company LJN put out a 12-inch version of a prominent member of the New Romantic movement, George Alan O’Dowd—otherwise known as Boy George—which came ready to party dressed in a “Color By Numbers” themed outfit.
 

A print ad for the Boy George doll by LJN.
 
Billed on the box as “The Original Outrageous Boy of Rock!” the toy Boy was fully poseable and his long hair came styled in one of his signature looks—braids tied with colorful ribbons to match the makeup on his face. Little Boy George also came with a microphone, hat and “posing stand.” Noted as an appropriate plaything for ages four and up, had I received a Boy George doll when I was a kid I would have promptly burned all of my Barbies in the backyard while Boy and I twirled around the fire to the sounds of “Karma Chameleon” playing on my boom box. Good times.

If you’re like me and had no idea that this delightfully dolled-up version of Boy George even existed and now must have one of your very own, you’re in luck as I found a few for sale on eBay. During my very important “research” for this post I also came across footage from a UK television show doing a feature on a Boy George doll (that came in two sizes—one rather alarmingly large) put out by a UK Culture Club fan club during which the gorgeous looking Mr. O’Dowd is presented with one of his very own—which he holds while singing a version of Cliff Richard and The Drifters song “Living Doll.” You can see that surreal event below along with a few images from die-hard CC fan, Flickr user KAZZ who went the extra mile and created custom outfits for her Boy George doll. All of this proves once again that the 80s were indeed much cooler (and a lot weirder) than most of our collective memories give it credit for. Enjoy!
 

 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘Hundred Dollar Week-end,’ 1965’s idea of soft core porn
07.15.2016
10:02 am

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Music
Sex

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via Discogs
 
What do you call 1965’s Hundred Dollar Week-end? A “stag record”? A “blue album”? Did it come as a brown paper parcel you had to ask the clerk for at the counter? Would it be comme il faut to play this at a swinging coed party, or did one beat off to it alone in the garage at three in the morning?

Mystery surrounds the LP. Its fifteen-minute sides hold only this: waves crashing, lounge music on the hi-fi, bedsprings creaking, and a woman moaning with pleasure. Okay, there’s some coughing, laughing, and smoking, and I won’t tell you what happens when the phone finally rings toward the end of side two, but that’s the entire track sequence for this particular product. When you’re done listening to it, you’ll feel like, uh, a hundred dollars.

Hundred Dollar Week-end was the only LP ever issued by Trick Records, whose art department left no doubt about the intended audience of their “FOR BACHELORS ONLY” release. With a catalog number ending in “007,” its cover starlet, loosely draped in a man’s shirt, beckoning from her stool at a beach house bar, the sleeve screamed:

YOU ARE THERE…IT’S THE WILDEST!
A ROLLICKING FROLICKING BALL BY THE SEA—

A BOLD ADVENTURE INTO THE REALM OF ESOTERIC HI FIDELITY

Having enjoyed a few $100 weekends myself, I find it difficult to imagine that amount of money evoking wealth and leisure, but I guess back then “a dollar was worth a dollar.” An average month’s rent was a little over $100 in 1965. And speaking of inflation, a hopeful Amazon seller is asking $200 for this album—double the price of the fantasy call girl beach vacation of which this is a mere audio representation! What’s a tape of The $20,000 Pyramid set you back in Paul Ryan’s America, a hundred million dollars?—while below, YouTube user Marshall & c.o., who uploaded this rip, seems to have overvalued the tryst by a factor of 10,000.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
64 floppy disk drives flawlessly perform the ‘Game of Thrones’ theme song
07.14.2016
03:51 pm

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Music
Science/Tech
Television

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A Polish gentleman by the name of Paweł Zadrożniak has been posting videos on YouTube of sync’d-up floppy drives following a pre-arranged sequence of commands that collectively create music. He’s posted the “Imperial March” from Star Wars, as well as “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

The one that caught my fancy today, however, was the theme song from Game of Thrones.

Warning: Listening to this will make you want to watch the show, and it’s going to be like a year before there’s new episodes, so proceed with caution!
 

 
via Nerdcore

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Sugar Baby Doll: The best or worst ‘supergroup’ that never happened?
07.14.2016
12:31 pm

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Music

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Sugar Baby Doll
 
It is no secret that there is a long history between Courtney Love of Hole and Kat Bjelland of Babes in Toyland. Today we would call them frenemies. The two women met in Portland in the early 1980s, hit it off immediately and decided to play music together. In 1985 the pair recruited Jennifer Finch (an old friend of Love’s from LA) and started a band called Sugar Baby Doll. While that is a lot of strong personalities packed into one band, grunge and kinderwhore fans would freak out at the thought of seeing these three women live on stage together.

However, apparently the band was quite the opposite of legendary. Love was quoted in Courtney Love: The Real Story by Poppy Z. Brite as saying this about the supergroup that wasn’t:

“We were going to make the most obnoxious music in the world… However, I had a doctor who gave me a hundred sedatives a week. So we ended up making this sort of faux Cocteau Twins music but I didn’t really have the voice, and I was singing in a register way too high for me.”

Sounds kinda terrifying coming from the queens of 90s grunge, doesn’t it?

The band was short lived, mostly it appears due to Love’s drug consumption. Kat Bjelland said on VH1’s Behind the Music about working with Love:

“Every time she would do (drugs) she would take all of her clothes off, walk in circles, talk about stuff, not play music.”

These disruptive band practices and fighting among the group ended the project. This is probably a good thing because Courtney Love went on to form Hole, Kat Bjelland started Babes in Toyland and Jennifer Finch joined L7. We got three great bands when we would have been stuck with just one. And of course, the “War of the Schmatte” began when Love and Bjelland argued over who created the kinderwhore look or who stole it from whom.

More after the jump…

Posted by Izzi Krombholz | Leave a comment
David Bowie punks the art world, 1998
07.14.2016
11:43 am

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Art
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David Bowie and art critic Matthew Collings at the the launch party for William Boyd’s book on Nat Tate, 1998. Jeff Koons is in the background.
 
This week it was announced that David Bowie’s private art collection will be revealed to the public for first time, in an exhibition to be held at Sotheby’s in London starting July 20 as well as other locations. An auction of the works is expected eventually.

The collection of Bowie, who passed away this January, was held in high regard and included notable works by Damien Hirst, Henry Moore, Gilbert & George, and Patrick Caulfield. One of the most prized items in the collection is a 1984 canvas by Jean-Michel Basquiat called Air Power, which is expected to fetch in excess of $2 million at auction.

Bowie is said to have had excellent taste in art, which makes perfect sense. The occasion of an exhibition and auction of Bowie’s art holdings is also a reminder of a curious episode from the late 1990s when Bowie totally punked the New York City art world.

In 1998 Bowie joined the editorial board of a magazine called Modern Painters, and he also set up a publishing company called 21 that would focus on art books. One of 21’s first books was a volume by noted novelist William Boyd (Brazzaville Beach, The Blue Afternoon) celebrating an artist whose life had been cut short with the title Nat Tate: An American Artist 1928-1960. You can buy that book today on Amazon.
 

 
Nat Tate was born in 1928 in New Jersey; his father was absentee, and his mother died in a car accident when Tate was eight years old. His mother had worked as a maid for a wealthy family in Long Island—upon the death of Tate’s mother her employers adopted the child. Tate studied under Hans Hofmann in the late 1940s and became part of the abstract art scene in New York in the early 1950s. Tate was an alcoholic who was obsessed with the work of Georges Braque. In early 1960 Tate committed suicide by jumping off the Staten Island Ferry. Somewhat like Franz Kafka had intended, Tate had a tendency to destroy his own work, and left little in the way behind for audiences to appreciate.

Trouble was, there never was any such artist as Nat Tate. Boyd, with a key assist from Bowie, had made him up. A lot of people took the bait, and claimed to remember exhibitions of Tate’s that had never happened. People should have given more thought to Boyd’s profession of novelist.
 

William Boyd
 
It was a thoroughly successful literary, or artistic hoax, à la Sidd Finch or Ern Malley. It’s also a bit reminiscent of a hoax of 2006, in which British art students invented a German noise rock band from the 1970s named Lustfaust—we covered that one here.

Boyd delivered a hifalutin justification for the prank, saying, “I’d been toying with the idea of how things moved from fact to fiction, and I wanted to prove something fictive could prove factual.” But it’s pretty obvious that the primary motivation was that it’s fun to catch a lot of supposed art experts out on their own terrain. Also, it’s just fun to concoct fake footnotes and stuff like that:
 

Much of the illusion was created in the details, the footnotes and in getting the book published in Germany to make it look like an authentic art monograph. ... I went to a lot of trouble to get things right. I created the “surviving” artworks that were featured in the illustrations and spent ages hunting through antique and junk shops for photos of unknown people, whom I could caption as being close friends and relatives.

 
Gore Vidal (in on the joke) supplied a suitably gushing pullquote for the cover. Picasso’s biographer, John Richardson, gave them a bogus anecdote:
 

Vidal allowed himself to be quoted in the book saying, ‘Tate was essentially dignified, though always drunk and with nothing to say,’ while Richardson told of how Tate had been having lunch with Picasso when he came to visit. It was these details that made it. People stopped wondering why they hadn’t heard of Tate when Vidal, Picasso and Richardson started appearing.

 
At the launch party for Boyd’s book on Tate, which was pointedly held on April 1, 1998, David Lister, arts editor for the Independent at the time who was also in on the hoax, spent the event asking guests for their reminiscences about Tate. Curiously, a fair number vividly remembered attending a retrospective of his in the late 1960s.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Nightmare Before Halloween: Insane early Van Halen set from 1977
07.14.2016
10:29 am

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Heroes
Music

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The original lineup of the mighty Van Halen standing on the steps of David Lee Roth’s Pasadena mansion.
 

We try to look like the music sounds.

—David Lee Roth, 1977.

After leaving their disco pimping days as the house band for LA rock club Gazzarri’s back in the late 70s Van Halen would go on to play the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on nearly a monthly basis to thousands of enthusiastic air guitarists and other awestruck fans before exploding into mega-stardom. The audio from this performance recorded on October 15th, 1977—VH’s last at the PCA—will send chills down your spine as the quality is nearly beyond compare. As are the ear-piercing vocals of David Lee Roth that team up seamlessly with the on-point brightness of backing vocals from bassist Michael Anthony (a sound I sorely miss since Anthony departed VH).

Here’s Van Halen’s manager Marshall Berle (nephew of comedian Milton Berle) echoing my feelings about one of the band’s performances at the PCA in a quote from the 2011 book by photographer Neil Zlozwer’s on guitar mangler and musical virtuoso, Eddie Van Halen:

The lights went down and the announcer introduced Van Halen and the kids went nuts and started screaming. They started playing and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I got a chill right through my bones. I had never seen anything like this in my life. These guys were so good I almost crapped my pants. I thought “what the fuck is this?”

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
There’s a 50-minute version of the Beatles’ ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ for the song’s 50th anniversary
07.14.2016
09:29 am

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Drugs
Music

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If you think the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” is a nice place to visit, why not live there?

Andrew Liles, described on his Mixcloud page as “a prolific solo artist, producer, remixer and sometime member of Nurse With Wound and Current 93,” has radically remixed and enlarged the Fabs’ psychedelic studio creation for the 50th anniversary of its release. Over sixteen times longer than the original—nearly one and a half times as long as the entire Revolver album, for that matter—Liles’ “50 Minutes of Tomorrow Never Knows by the Beatles for 50 Years” is roomy enough to accommodate you and the whole family.

Liles has ventured into this territory before, improving rock history with his creations “45 Minutes of Black Sabbath by Black Sabbath for 45 Years” and the 70-minute Motörhead tribute “Overkill Overkilled by Overkill,” but the treatment is particularly well-suited to the song John Lennon originally called “The Void.” (According to Revolution in the Head, Lennon said “he changed the title in order to avoid being charged with writing a drug song.”) It sounds like you’re sitting inside the tambura for about the first fifteen minutes, and once your brain’s adjusted to that, the appearance of every familiar element—Ringo’s drum pattern, John’s Leslie-treated vocals—is a momentous occasion.
 

At Abbey Road recording Revolver, 1966
 
Liles writes:

On the 5th of August 2016 ‘Revolver’ will be 50 years old. ‘Revolver’ is arguably the first mainstream pop album to explore esoteric themes, ‘exotic’ instrumentation and use the studio as a tool to create otherworldly unimagined sounds. It’s an album that rewrote the rules and laid the foundations for audioscopic cosmonauts like myself to venture deeper into uncharted universes of sound. We have the fab five (how can we forget George Martin) to thank for opening new possibilities and new dimensions. Without their innovation the world of sound would be a lot less colourful.

Surrender to the void, turn off your mind, relax and float down stream with my impossibly elongated, psychedelic, smokeathonic adaptation of Tomorrow Never Knows.

Don’t forget to push “repeat” before your senses recede into a dimensionless point of perfect mental vacuity. Oh, and the book that inspired the original song is still in print.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
That one time when Grace Slick made a synth-pop album
07.14.2016
08:59 am

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Music

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In 1984, Jefferson Airplane/Starship’s Grace Slick, then (and still) closely associated with hippie culture, released a curveball of an album—a straight up contemporary synth-pop record, saddled with the not-trying-at-all title Software. (The back cover depicts Slick as a floppy disc being inserted into a glowing slot, already an eyeroll-y cliché even then). It would completely fail to chart, and end up being Slick’s final solo album ever.

Software’s music was written by an Austrian keyboardist/producer named Peter Wolf (not the J. Geils Band singer nor any relation), who had history with Frank Zappa, and who would follow Slick back to Jefferson Starship, writing the hugely successful (but pretty dreadful) single “No Way Out” from the Nuclear Furniture LP, an album so glossy that Paul Kantner, Slick’s ex and the last remaining member from the Airplane’s original lineup, left the group in disgust, and took the “Jefferson” part of the band’s name with him. Reduced to just “Starship,” the band would go on to release one of the absolute worst singles of the rock era, the notorious and deathless “We Built This City.”

One of the songwriters credited on that infamous turd? Peter Wolf. The man has things to answer for. (He also played a role in the ‘80s Adult Contemporary decay of the once-great Seattle hard rock band Heart.)
 

 
But here’s the thing: Software? Not a lost classic by any means, but definitely interesting, and certainly nothing approaching the fucking horrorshow that was Wolf’s later debasement of Slick’s counterculture legacy. I don’t care if I ever own a copy, but it’s worth discussing because it wasn’t a misbegotten novelty record, nor was it an if-you-can’t-beat-‘em-join-‘em move towards new production norms; the First Lady of Hippiedom was genuinely interested in the new synth music that by 1984 was no longer a novelty. From Jeff Tamarkin’s Got a Revolution! The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane:

Software, as its name suggests, put Grace in line with the popular, contemporary techno-pop sound of the mid-‘80s. Although guitar is used, the album is overshadowed by Wolf’s synthesized keyboards and bass, and electronic drums. Grace had become enamored of the synthesizer technology of the time, and decided to jump in all the way. Her singing here avoids her trademark free-form wails in favor of precise, short bursts, learned parts rather than improvisations.

The album was represented by two singles: “All the Machines,” a cool piece of music impaired only by ham-fisted lyrics about workplace automation, and the lousy “Through the Window,” a bit of throwaway mainstream pop that sounds painfully dated now. It’s also the home of a weird song called “Me and Me,” which seems to be about someone with multiple personality disorder falling in love with someone else with multiple personality disorder.

More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
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