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‘Saturation 70’: The Greatest Sci-Fi Cult Movie (starring Gram Parsons) You’ve Definitely Never Seen


 
Six years before Alejandro Jodorowsky’s extraordinary but ill-fated 1975 attempt to film Frank Herbert’s Dune—the story of which was compellingly told in the recent documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune—there was another similarly ambitious and ground-breaking film project that, until recently, was largely unknown: Saturation 70, a science fiction movie starring Gram Parsons, Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas and Julian Jones, the five-year-old son of Rolling Stone Brian Jones and Linda Lawrence (later Linda Leitch, Donovan’s wife, of “Legend of a Girl Child Linda” fame.)

Unlike Dune, Saturation 70 did actually make it into production and was shot, but never completed, then was forgotten and undocumented for over forty years. Dangerous Minds pal Chris Campion reveals the story of the film’s production in an article for The Guardian:

The film was the brainchild of an American writer-director named Tony Foutz, the son of a Walt Disney company executive and a friend to both Parsons and the Rolling Stones. The film was shot (but never completed) at a 1969 UFO convention at Giant Rock, near Joshua Tree in the Mojave desert, and in Los Angeles. It tapped into the spectrum of esoteric interests and outlandish ideas — aliens, psychedelics, time travel— of the late 60s counterculture. “The whole experience of making the film was like a technological tribal throw-down, with an energy buzz off the Richter scale,” Foutz says now. “It took on a life of its own.”

 

The Kosmic Kiddies, from R to L: Tony Foutz, Michelle Phillips, Gram Parsons, Phil Kaufman and Andee Cohen. Photo: Tom Wilkes

Also appearing in Saturation 70 were Stanislaus Klossowski de Rola (aka Rolling Stones confidant, ‘Prince Stash’, the son of painter Balthus) and Nudie Cohn, creator of the Nudie suit. The shoot took place from late 1969 to early 1970.

Filming guerrilla-style, without permits, they managed to realise several ambitious set-pieces, including a surreal shootout between a Vietcong soldier and an American GI in the aisles of Gelson’s supermarket in Century City (Phil Spector, a noted gun fan, visited the set to watch from the sidelines) and a parade of Ford Edsel cars roaring through the City of Industry in a flying-V formation.

 

Skid Row Los Angeles, 1970. Not much has changed. Look closely at the signs.

Director Tony Foutz was also behind another, even wilder film project, a vehicle for the Rolling Stones to star in and write an original soundtrack for, entitled “Maxagasm,” which was co-written with Sam Shepard in 1968.

Closer to Mad Max than the Beatles’ Help!, the film was to feature the group as a band of unemployed mercenaries wandering through Moroccan desert, in a plot that involved UFOs and Mayan-style human ritual sacrifice.


For years, Saturation 70 was little more than a rumour among Gram Parsons fans—a strange anomalous event in his short gloried career—but now all the existing footage and production photos have been dusted off for an exhibition in London that recreates the film shoot, and the story of Saturation 70 can finally be told.

Saturation 70: the Gram Parsons UFO film that never flew (The Guardian)

Saturation 70, the exhibition, runs at the Horse Hospital in London from September 6th to 27th. More information here.
 

Julian Jones and his fairy godmother

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Future Feminism: A social, cultural and political vision for a feminine utopia


The power of pussy: The inimitable Kembra Pfahler, spreading the gospel with a friend

So much of the popular, social media-driven feminist discourse is desperately treading water these days. The advances we’ve made over the years that have drastically improved the lives of women (unions, better wages, health care advances , reproductive rights) are under attack, and it only makes sense that we’d cling to what little we have left. It’s in this frantic crisis that we can sometimes forget the more utopian ambitions of the feminist second wave—the impulse not to preserve what little we have, but to recreate society entirely, in a way that exceeds the meager ambitions we’ve come to accept. Future Feminism seeks to nurture and develop that impulse.

The brainchild of Kembra Pfhaler (best known for The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black and her performance art), Johanna Constantine (of The Blacklips Performance Cult), Sierra and Bianca Casady (CocoRosie) and Antony Hegarty (Antony and The Johnsons), the collective is the result of three years’ of consensus-based artistic and intellectual collaboration, much of it forged during rigorous retreats in isolated locations.
 

Kembra Pfhaler, Johanna Constantine, Sierra Casady, Bianca Casady and Antony Hegarty, presumably on retreat
 
I had to opportunity to speak with Bianca Casady about the projects’ multi-faceted development.

“We didn’t have any plans, so we definitely didn’t have any models [for organizing],” Casady confesses, “it was five artists—the most obvious thing to do was an art project together, a co-authored piece.” The “group-authored sculptural work” is to be debuted at The Hole gallery in NYC, Thursday September 11, but it’s merely a fraction of the multimedia project that Future Feminism has bloomed into. The Hole also promises performances and lectures from such heroic foremothers as Lydia Lunch, Laurie Anderson, Marina Abramović and no-wave goddess No Bra. The sculpture itself remains somewhat shrouded in mystery, as are the “13 Tenets of Future Feminism” they will reveal on the opening night.

The five artists central to the collective will perform a concert at Webster Hall this Sunday to fund the exhibition, as it’s completely artist-funded thus far. Casady notes that the relative independence and autonomy of the Future Feminist collective has allowed them the freedom and time necessary to truly work as a unified body, though the timing for the reveal could not be more provident.

Some of us are very unplugged from the media. Mostly we really come together as artists. We’re certainly noticing a lot of uprising and actions going on formally, and a lot of momentum and energy right now. The timing feels like less of a coincidence. It feels like things are at a boiling point.

 

Image from the Future Feminism Benefit Concert poster
 
No one can predict which projects will inspire or move the masses, but it’s exciting to see feminism embrace the ambition of utopian thinking again—and it’s especially powerful to see women working together and creating new, strange culture—something that could (if we’re lucky) threaten the status quo.

“We’re not really looking for equal rights—that’s really different in our attitude,” says Casady. “We’re not looking to climb up the male pyramid scheme and try to assimilate into it to find some kind of balance. We’re proposing a complete shift, with the goal of balance, but it’s not like we want to meet in the middle. We have to reach for a better sense of ‘middle.’”

That’s a sentiment that’s existed before in feminism—the idea that having “what men have” is not enough, that we all deserve more. It’s fallen to the wayside in years, but I foresee a revival, as movements like Future Feminism strive for a radically different society, invoking the very qualities so often derided as “feminine.” In the words of the collective, “The future is female.”

The (absolutely packed) roster for the run at The Hole gallery is below.

Thurs Sept 11: Opening 6-9PM

Fri Sept 12: Bianca and Sierra Casady, Sarah Schulman

Sat Sept 13: Johanna Constantine, Lydia Lunch

Sun Sept 14: Clark Render as Margaret Thatcher, Laurie Anderson

Wed Sept 17: Narcissister, Dynasty Handbag, No Bra

Thurs Sept 18: Ann Snitow speaks with the Future Feminists

Fri Sept 19: Kiki Smith presents Anne Waldman, Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge and Anne Carson

Sat Sept 20: Kembra Pfahler and The Girls of Karen Black

Sun Sept 21: Lorraine O’Grady

Wed Sept 24: Marina Abramović

Thurs Sept 25: Carolee Schneemann, Jessica Mitrani, Melanie Bonajo
 
Fri Sept 26: Terence Koh as Miss OO

Sat Sept 27: Viva Ruiz, Julianna Huxtable, Alexyss K.  Tylor

Sun Sept 14: The Factress aka Lucy Sexton, Clark Render as Margaret Thatcher, Laurie Anderson

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Kraftwerk’s 1975 BBC TV appearance: ‘The germinating moment for British dance music’
09.05.2014
08:11 am

Topics:
History
Music
Television

Tags:
Kraftwerk
BBC TV


 
The BBC science and technology show Tomorrow’s World ran for almost 40 years (and was affectionately parodied in Look Around You), but the bit of that show that concerns us here was just a hair longer than two minutes. It was a short glimpse at the seminal German band Kraftwerk, performing their song “Autobahn” in 1975, just before their ten year run of LPs from Radio-Activity through Electric Café completely changed the face of popular music, inspiring electronic dance/techno, hip-hop, and pretty much every form of post-punk rock music that used a synthesizer, making their classic lineup arguably as influential as Elvis. If only the BBC had known what was to come, they might have been persuaded to show more than just two minutes of the 22-minute song.
 

 
A few years ago, The Guardian made a rather bold claim about the snippet of footage, placing Kraftwerk’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it segment at NUMBER 1 in their series of 50 key events in the history of dance music! I actually find that assertion entirely plausible.

The germinating moment for British dance music occurred, strangely, in a 1975 edition of Tomorrow’s World, which featured four young Germans dressed like geography teachers, apparently playing camping stoves with wired-up knitting needles. This was Kraftwerk performing “Autobahn.”

“The sounds are created in their studio in Dusseldorf,” presenter Raymond Baxter explained, “then reprogrammed and then recreated onstage with the minimum of fuss.” Here was the entire electronic ethic in one TV clip: the rejection of rock’s fake spontaneity, the fastidious attention to detail, the Europhile slickness, the devotion to rhythm. It was sublime.

When Kraftwerk toured Britain later in 1975, David Bowie’s patronage ensured a long line of followers from OMD to Underworld. Not that everything they planned came to fruition. “Next year, Kraftwerk hope to eliminate the keyboard altogether,” Baxter told us, “and create jackets with electronic lapels that can be played by touch”. It could still happen.

 

 
Bonus! Enjoy this clip of Kraftwerk’s robot doubles, also on Tomorrow’s World, but from 1991.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Kraftwerk songs performed by string quartet
Kraftwerk sings ‘Pocket Calculator’ in Italian… and several other languages
‘Ralf and Florian’: the Kraftwerk sitcom
Newly unearthed footage of Kraftwerk—with long hair and leather jackets! Live 1970

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Julian Cope plays the first Phoenix Festival wearing a yellow jockstrap, 1993
09.05.2014
07:02 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Julian Cope


 
This isn’t professional footage, but it’s the only footage you’re likely ever to see of Julian Cope’s unhinged performance at the first Phoenix Festival, held near Stratford-upon-Avon in 1993. Captured two-thirds of the way through recording the sublime Peggy Suicide trilogy and in the full flower of manhood, Cope and band blast through a thirteen-song set drawn mostly from this beloved period of the Arch-Drude’s solo career.

As if to fulfill an ancient prophecy, Cope played Stratford a little over four centuries after Shakespeare moved away from the town to make his name in London. In fact, I believe the Bard foretold this performance in Act 3, Scene 3 of Henry V. It’s all there but the yellow jockstrap:

The gates of mercy shall be all shut up,
And the flesh’d soldier, rough and hard of heart,
In liberty of bloody hand shall range
With conscience wide as hell, mowing like grass
Your fresh-fair virgins and your flowering infants.

To Island Records’ lasting shame, the label had dropped Cope days after the release of 1992’s JEHOVAHKILL, which remains one of his very best albums. In the UK, this dickhead move redounded to Cope’s benefit, making Island look greedy and clueless, Cope righteous and cooler than ever. So here he was, less than a year later, playing second only to Sonic Youth on the first night of a big new festival.

He takes the stage in a boilersuit and some kind of bearded headgear about which I am not qualified to speculate, kicking off with JEHOVAHKILL‘s motorik epic “The Subtle Energies Commission.” Cope then strips down (have I mentioned the yellow jockstrap?) to sing the most brain-damaging song in his oeuvre, “Hanging Out & Hung Up On The Line,” and if your full attention hasn’t been captured by this point, then I suspect you and I might disagree about what constitutes an interesting phenomenon, to say nothing of “a good time.”  

Julian Cope live at the Phoenix Festival, Stratford-upon-Avon, 1993
 
In case you want to watch Julian Cope but crave higher production values, here’s an excellent feature from a 1991 episode of BBC’s The Late Show:
 

 
And check out Cope’s new “time-shifting gnostic hooligan road novel,” One Three One.

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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‘I Got You Babe’: The Rolling Stones camp it up miming to Sonny and Cher, 1965
09.04.2014
01:49 pm

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Rolling Stones
Cathy McGowan


 
Hosting Ready Steady Go! in September of 1965, The Rolling Stones camped it up in this “mime contest” version of Sonny and Cher’s hit—then at the top of the pop charts—“I Got You Babe.”

First Ready Steady Go!‘s co-host “Queen of the Mods” Cathy McGowan stands in for Cher before a vest-clad Brian Jones puts on his sunniest Sonny impression (and quite charming it is). Keith, on tuba, puffs away nonplussed.

Then it’s Mick’s turn to flounce around coquettishly taking Cher’s part to manager Andrew Loog Oldham’s turn as her decidedly more butch duet partner. Charlie and Bill just look suitably embarrassed to be a part of these shenanigans.

All but forgotten now, young Cathy McGowan was a hugely influential style icon of “Swinging London” and the idol of Twiggy and Vogue’s Anna Wintour. She had her own fashion line at British Homes Stones and helped popularize the miniskirt. McGowan’s Mary Quant-ish look seen on television every week is said to have been one of the key factors opening up the minds of young British working class women to the world of fashion in the 1960s.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘The Pharmacy’ returns with David J of Bauhaus and Love and Rockets
09.04.2014
12:25 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Bauhaus
The Pharmacy
David J
Love and Rockets


 
Gregg Foreman’s radio program The Pharmacy is a music / talk show playing heavy soul, raw funk, 60′s psych, girl groups, Krautrock. French yé-yé, Hammond organ rituals, post-punk transmissions and “ghost on the highway” testimonials and interviews with the most interesting artists and music makers of our times…

Welcome to season 2 of The Pharmacy, brought to you by Magic Monster Radio and Dangerous Minds. Coming up we’ve got interviews with Ian McLagan (Small Faces/Faces), James Sclavunos from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and a special krautrock edition featuring Can’s Irmin Schmidt and Damo Suzuki.

This week’s guest, David J of Bauhaus and Love and Rockets:

  • Meeting David Bowie and appearing in The Hunger

  • Being advised to stay with The Jazz Butcher instead of forming Love and Rockets

  • Working with René Halkett of the Bauhaus School of art and design

  • Touring with the Birthday Party and how it was “mayhem”

  • David answers questions from Primal Scream and White Hills

  •  


     
    Mr. Pharmacy is a musician and DJ who has played for the likes of Pink Mountaintops, The Delta 72, The Black Ryder, The Meek and more. Since 2012 Gregg Foreman has been the musical director of Cat Power’s band. He started dj’ing 60s Soul and Mod 45’s in 1995 and has spun around the world. Gregg currently lives in Los Angeles, CA and divides his time between playing live music, producing records and dj’ing various clubs and parties from LA to Australia.

    Setlist:

    Intro
    Motorcycle - Love and Rockets
    Ace of Spades - Link Wray
    Grits and Cornbread
    David J Interview Part 1
    In Fear of Fear - Bauhaus
    White Light White Heat - The Velvet Underground
    Shack Up - A Certain Ratio
    Erase You - ESG
    Serge Gainsbourg
    She’s in Parties (remix) - Bauhaus/RX
    David J Interview Part 2
    Lagartija Nick - Bauhaus
    Modern Music - Don Letts
    Heard it Through the Grapevine - The Slits
    Eighties - Killing Joke
    Mother Sky (remix) - CAN / Pilooski / RX
    Pleasures of the Dance - RX / Ruts DC
    David J Interview Part 3
    Nothing - René Halkett /David J
    OK This is the Pops - Tones on Tails
    S#2 - Snapline
    YOu Got Good Taste - The Cramps
    I Can Change My Mind - Simply Saucer
    Low Life - PiL
    Echo Chamber - RX/King Tubby & Prince Jammy & Scientist
    David J Interview Part 4
    Mirror People - Love and Rockets
    Lucifer Sam - Pink Floyd
    David J Interview Part 5
    Breaking Glass - David Bowie
    She is Beyond Good and Evil - The Pop Group
    Reggae and Punk - Documentary Edit
    54-46 Was My Number - Toots and the Maytals
    Borstal Breakout - Sham 69
    Harry - Bauhaus
    One Train load of Dub - RX / The Observers
    David J Interview Part 6
    Sonny’s Burning - The Birthday Party
    Heavy Duty Dub - RX / Harry Mudie meets King Tubby
    Spirit - Bauhaus
    Outro
     

     
    You can download the show in its entirety here .
     

    Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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    ‘Dear Gary Numan’: Two old geezers’ hilariously cranky letters to rock stars
    09.04.2014
    11:34 am

    Topics:
    Amusing
    Music

    Tags:
    Derek Philpott
    Wilf Turnbull


     
    It’s not unusual for retirees to have eccentric hobbies, but Bournemouth, England’s Derek and Wilf are probably the only two old age pensioners who spend their free time dissecting rock and pop lyrics and sending garrulous letters to the offending songwriters. No one is safe from their scrutiny, not Gary Numan, Squeeze’s Chris Difford, Toyah Wilcox, Suggs, Alice Cooper, Elvis Costello, Billy Bragg, Daevid Allen, Men Without Hats, Suzi Quatro, Sparks, Dave Stewart, Sting, the singer from A Flock of Seagalls or even Captain Sensible. Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond have also been cleverly targeted.

    Their letter writing campaign began at a DJ’ed wedding, where they started criticizing the songs being played. Their questions involve taking whimsical or deadly earnest lyrics to their logical conclusions and wondering the imponderable like why hungry like a wolf in particular? Why not a penguin? Or a raven? Why would someone choose to live in a box voluntarily? How does someone extract the milk of human kindness, let alone deliver it? To their surprise, the musicians started responding.

    Here’s an example. Derek’s bust-a-gut funny letter to Rick Wakeman imploring him to play at his grandson’s school fundraiser so they they won’t be forced to go with the “Dick Fakeman” tribute act instead

    Dear Rick Wakeman

    As a fellow parent, I hope that you can be of assistance
    Regretfully I must confide that my grandson’s school has been lagging behind somewhat in the department of GCSE pass grades, according to the official Ofsted statistics. Upon close scrutiny of said cavillous data, a vast chasm of success between certain subjects included in the field of the humanities was unveiled. In order to rectify this situation it has been decided that the Secondary Modern should meld an area in which they excel with one that requires improvement, in order to perhaps subliminally spur the deficient pupils into favourable academia. They will therefore be staging a special event ‘going for the one’ area of the curriculum that the students are most adept at, Music, and combining it with History, where they are clearly floundering. This unique affair will be billed and promoted as ‘Pastonbury’.

    As the original artists have not as yet come back to us we have implemented a contingency plan by putting down 10% refundable deposits on tribute artists Phony M (Rasputin), NO.M.D (Joan of Arc and possibly Enola Gay) and West London’s foremost piano / vocal ‘soundalike’ Feltham John, who will be performing ‘Candle In The Wind’ twice (covering off Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana for no additional fee) before travelling back in time for a pre-booked engagement at Isleworth Royal British Legion.

    We wonder if you would be willing to help out by coming along in the afternoon and doing your King Arthur after the tombola. As the event is pencilled in for mid-May there is unfortunately little chance of the playground freezing over in deference to The Empire Pool recitals, so we would be having you indoors, although you should be put on notice that the parquet flooring, not unlike the aforementioned auditorium’s performance surface, can be particularly treacherous when newly waxed, especially when negotiated in socks.

    One of the Heads of Year, Ms. Braithwaite, who is a keen enthusiast of ‘progressive rock’, mooted that as you would be here anyway you may as well play ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’ in its entirety. However, although she was thanked for her pro-active suggestion, which was duly minuted, the Board of Governors voted to the contrary on the grounds that sadly they only had use of the Main Hall until 8pm, at which time it would have to be vacated in order to make way for the caretaker, and also that, being an instrumental piece, the children may become fidgety if sat cross-legged for such a long period. Furthermore, the organisers had not the resources to stage a slide-show or ‘power point presentation’ with the facility to depict an image of each ecclesiastical revisionist spouse in order to distinguish one set of your ‘moog stylings’ and going up and down the keyboard as fast as possible from another. It was therefore instead decided that they would ‘go with’ the remnants of Hermans Hermits, as a far less convoluted if admittedly factually inaccurate reference to said morbidly rotund tyrannical Tudor patriarch.

    As they are somewhat restricted in terms of budget, it has been proposed that your fuel costs to and from Bournemouth would be fully re-imbursed upon provision of valid receipts, and in order to save your back you will not be expected to bring your ‘banks’ of synthesisers, ‘mellowtrons’, electrical harpsichords and other such
    paraphernalia. You will instead be provided with two nearly new Bontempi organs temporarily borrowed by the gym mistress, Miss Mallard, from the stockroom of the local Sue Ryder shop on Wimbourne Road where she volunteers two hours of her time of a Saturday. This is an additional bonus for the co-ordinators as stage space is at a premium (although thankfully, not vertically, given that the vaulted ceiling would provide ample room for your pointy hat)

    Sadly, Mr Balakrishnan, whose daughter Neeta often brings authentic homemade dishes in to school to share amongst her classmates and her tutors, will not be in attendance as he will be away visiting relatives in Tamil Nadu. He would have been delighted to have provided you with bindi bhaji, stuffed paratha and Bombay aloo (of a fashion familiar to those inadvertently ordered by yourself on the Tales From Topographic Oceans tour and consumed during a lengthy ‘percussive interlude’) , but as a compromise we will be happy to send the school captain out to go and get a 60 piece Indian platter from the Iceland on Christchurch Road, which will be balanced ‘close to the edge’ of the instruments during your recital.

    My wife, Jean, is something of a wizard seamstress and, as a token of thanks for your time, has acquiesced to run up a cape to add to your probably already varied and vast wardrobe, free of charge. The kaleidoscopic dolman would be adapted from last term’s Year 10 production of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’s backdrop, and she has asked me to enquire after your collar and chest measurements, as well as your height, so that she can ensure a perfect fit

    We anxiously await your response Sir and sincerely hope that it is one of acceptance, in order that we may not be forced to resort to Dick Fakeman .

    Yours

    Derek Philpott


    For Wakeman’s considered response, I direct you to their website.

    Some of their greatest hits:

    A delightful response from Heaven 17’s Glenn Gregory when Wilf and Olive feel they have to turn down his offer to “Come Live with Me.”

    Wilf asks The Stranglers about peaches

    Short and sweet answer to Pete Townshend

    Dear Mr. Dan: Derek scrutinizes the meaning of “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”

    Wilf berates Alvin Stardust for his supposed lewd lyrics and “creepy Edwardian sneer”

    Derek has a question about Hawkwind’s “Silver Machine”

    Derek demands an answer from Ms. Alice Cooper about “School’s Out.”

    Haysi Fantayzee’s Kate Garner even wrote a song in her reply to Wilf’s query about “John Wayne is Big Leggy”

    Derek writes to Gong’s Daevid Allen and the pothead pixie’s reply

    “Walking on the moon?”: Stewart Copeland of The Police finds himself replying on behalf of Sting

    Bruce Thomas hilariously responds on behalf of Elvis Costello and The Attractions

    An (obviously) unanswered letter to Ian Dury about his diet of sex and drugs and rock and roll

    Derek wants to makes lots of money with The Pet Shop Boys

    The pensioner amigos’ conceit as completely clueless old guys is slightly questionable, since they’re still in the upper range of prime baby boomer years. Come on, they could have been at, if not Woodstock, then at least the very first Isle of Wight festival. Honestly, they’re almost peers of Rick Wakeman’s (he’s 65). To the bewilderment of their wives, Olive and Jean, the two gentlemen have developed a cult following and receive ongoing invitations to concerts and backstage guest lists all the time. Jean began her own side project, Philpottery, making clay fridge magnets based on some of the rock stars her husband has corresponded with, among them Nine Inch Snails, Axolotl Rose, Pete Dogherty, and Piggy Pop. It can only be a matter of time before a book deal beckons.

    Derek also amusingly made iconic album covers over into much more polite versions for NME along with some politically correct and eco-friendly rockers:
     

     

     
    acdcwilfred
     
    meatloafwilfred
     

     

     
    The animated adventures of Wilf Turnbull: “Dear Gary Numan…”:

    Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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    Here Comes the Collapsed Lung: Brian Eno had a very busy 1974
    09.04.2014
    08:42 am

    Topics:
    Music

    Tags:
    Brian Eno


     
    Quite soon after his ouster/resignation from the ranks of Roxy Music in 1973, Brian Eno was mulling over what his next move would be. His first instinct was to hold a press conference to tell his side of the story, but he soon decided he’d just look poorly and opted not to say much. Instead the restlessly creative Eno was already making plans to make plans. A lot of plans.

    In July of that year he told the NME’s Nick Kent: “My main idea is to drag together a bunch of bizarre people, who will probably all hate each other, give them some strange instrument to play and get people to pay to watch them make fools of themselves.”

    Then there was the idea for a backing group called Luana and the Lizard Girls. Kent wrote:

    One of the members of this perverse combo will be Eno’s current female correspondent, Peggy Lee La Neir Soiree, a dusky beauty with intriguing abilities as a dancer and a strong sense of rhythm. “She sings bass lines to me when we embrace. She goes ‘Dum-dum-dah dah-dum-dum’. Incredible. She’s never played bass in her life but I know she’d be incredible at it.” There may well be two bass-players “There’s another girl called Phyllis who’s incredibly sexy and a great dancer. I’m thinking of having a girl drummer, as it happens. Also I’ve found this dancer - she’s such a tart. I saw her dancing at the Speakeasy one night and it was the most exciting thing I’d ever seen - really it was. She stopped the whole place - no one would dare go on the floor simply because they were frightened of getting in the way of her flailing arms. She did this great thing of dancing like a lunatic for 12 seconds, then stopping and leaning against a wall smoking a cigarette. Then she’d suddenly jump out and start dancing again. I was fascinated by the discontinuous aspect of it all.”

    The admittedly sex and pornography-obsessed musician also found inspiration from one of his more inventive S/M fantasies:

    “You see, the dancers in the Lizard Girls could also be wired up to my new instrument, the ‘Electric Larynx’ which I humbly consider to be a major innovation of sorts. It had its origins in, uh, bondage - it was actually an excuse to legitimise bondage by convincing the. bondee that it was actually a musical instrument they were wearing rather than just a form of restraint. It’s a series of microphones built into a choker fed through a complex series of electronic devices to produce from the sound of human voice the high pitch of an electric guitar while still possessing the flexibility of the ‘vox humana’. The player - or the captive as we prefer to know her - is wired up from the back of her neck directly into the synthesizer. The sound, with more than one person, is fantastic, like a constant guitar solo.”

     

     
    Alas Luana and the Lizard Girls were not to be.  For Here Come the Warm Jets, Eno brought in a cast of some of the most musically adept and far out sidemen his avant garde reputation could attract including King Crimson’s Robert Fripp and John Wetton; Hawkwind drummer Simon King; Bill MacCormick, bass player of Robert Wyatt’s Matching Mole; Paul Rudolph of Pink Fairies; guitarist Chris Spedding and all the members of Roxy Music save for Bryan Ferry.

    But these guys all had day jobs with their own groups and were merely moonlighting on Eno’s project. Ultimately it was The Winkies a pub rock band with glam rock outfits who were snagged by Eno to be his backing band for the Here Come the Warm Jets UK tour. That trek commenced in February of 1974 and went on for just five shows before Eno was hospitalized with a collapsed lung. He never really performed live much at all after this and there are precious few mementos of any sort of live promotion done for this album. A few, but not many.

    Like this poster:
     

    You’re wondering who Rod Crisp is, aren’t you?

    There is one live recording of one of the Eno/Winkies shows, from Kings Hall in Derby on February 13th, 1974, but it is an extremely lo-fi audience recording. You can grab an mp3 of that show at the Doom and Gloom from the Tomb Tumblr and Shards of Beauty has a lossless version of the same show.

    On February 19th, 1974 Eno and The Winkies were taped for a John Peel session performing “The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch” and a cover version of Peggy Lee’s “Fever.” “Baby’s on Fire” and “Totalled” (a rocky precursor to “I’ll Come Running”) were recorded for Peel’s BBC Radio show on February 26th. The session aired on March 5th, 1974.  The Holy Grail of Eno fandom is Eno, a 24-minute documentary directed by Alfons Sinniger that includes Eno and The Winkies playing four songs in the studio, presumably at these very sessions. The film has so far not turned up on YouTube or been bootlegged to the best of my knowledge, although there is a tantalizing 30 seconds from it that appeared in the 80s Roxy Music home video release Total Recall. It’s not “lost” it just hasn’t escaped yet.
     

     
    After he recovered, Eno mimed his first solo single, “Seven Deadly Finns” on Dutch television’s TopPop program in April:

     
    Eno performed at Island Records infamous June 1, 1974 concert with fellow cult figures Nico, Kevin Ayers and John Cale. His songs are first, “Driving Me Backwards” and then “The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch”:

     
    Eno gave this interview to a late night American disc jockey in Detroit on July 21st. One of the topics is how much he hated touring, which comes up twice. He mentions that the recording of his second album, the as-yet untitled Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) would commence in London soon after this interview. At the end he’s explaining the meaning of “The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch” but sadly it gets cut off:

     
    Still 1974, Eno and Snatch’s Judy Nylon made this video for Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)‘s “China My China”:

    Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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    Listen to Professor Martenot and his incredible ‘Music from the Ether’
    09.04.2014
    07:04 am

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    Music

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    Ondes Martenot
    Maurice Martenot

    sethermusicprofessor1.jpg
     
    Eighty years ago Professor Maurice Martenot presented his new musical creation “The Ether Wave Piano” to Pathe News cameras. Sitting at the keyboard, Martenot demonstrated how this new strange musical instrument could sound like a violin, a guitar, a piano, and even birds tweeting. The device was called an Ondes Martenot, and was first built by the professor in 1928.

    An article in Modern Mechanix from May 1931 explained how Martenot’s keyboard could “play all music”:

    Claimed to be the most outstanding musical invention of the twentieth century because of its ability to reproduce the tones of any musical instrument or voice and to create entirely new tones, the device is operated by direct mechanical control of a series of oscillating radio tubes, which generate the sound waves of variable pitch and volume.

    The keyboard of the instrument is used as the scale, and the position of the forefinger of the right hand above it regulates the tone produced. Attached to the finger are two finger pieces, connected to a cord that operates a series of condensers in the instrument, thus varying the capacity, and hence the frequency, of the radio circuit.

    Volume is controlled by means of a lever at the left hand side of the instrument, its range being from an almost inaudible pianissimo to a ringing fortissimo. Staccato notes are produced by tapping the finger on the volume lever. The rheostat permits the notes to be cut off at will by breaking the plate circuit of the amplifier. Very little effort is required in playing this instrument; an apt pupil can learn to play it easily in about four months.

    With its Theremin-like sound, the Ondes Martenot became a popular choice of instrument for certain composers, in particular Edgard Varèse and Olivier Messiaen (who wrote the Fête des Belles Eaux which used six Ondes to perform the score), as well as movie composers like Elmer Bernstein (Heavy Metal, Ghostbusters), Brian Easedale (Powell and Pressburger’s The Red Shoes) and Richard Rodney Bennett (who memorably used the instrument in Ken Russell’s film version of Len Deighton’s The Billion Dollar Brain) as well as innumerable horror and science fiction movies from the 1950s.
     

     
    H/T Arbroath

    Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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    Days of wine and roses: The Dream Syndicate live at Tower Records, 1982
    09.03.2014
    11:34 am

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    Music

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    Dream Syndicate


    The Dream Syndicate’s first EP

    In July 1982, when the Dream Syndicate gave this instore performance at a Tower Records in Orange County, they hadn’t even recorded The Days of Wine and Roses yet; the record Steve Wynn (vocals, guitar) plugs at the beginning is their self-released EP. The camera picks up about five people who are actually watching the band, and a lot more shoppers hurrying across the store to escape the deafening racket. Unfortunately, we don’t see much of original bassist Kendra Smith, whose presence (along with that of original lead guitarist Karl Precoda) is one of the selling points of this footage, but that’s the only bad thing I have to say about it.

    It’s not clear why Karl Precoda runs offstage in the middle of their first number, “Until Lately,” and grabs another guitar—did he break a string? Was he already bored? Not every guitarist would run an errand during the first number of the set, and fewer yet would leave their guitars plugged in and their amps turned on so as to blanket the song with feedback. No, sir—that’s pretty much a Karl Precoda move. One of the pleasures of this video is getting to see what a wild man Precoda was onstage. It’s a shame he doesn’t play anymore.

    Early in “Sure Thing,” a young man blithely steps in front of the camera, temporarily blocking our view of Steve Wynn. His bandana, equal parts casual headgear and martial arts accessory, is very much of the time and place. I’d love to know what record he catches with his head at the 45-second mark.

    The Dream Syndicate reunited a few years ago, and the L.A. show I caught last year was outstanding.
     

    The Dream Syndicate “Until Lately”
     
    More after the jump…

    Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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