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Joy Division fans raising money to turn Ian Curtis’ home into a museum
02.17.2015
06:34 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Joy Division
Ian Curtis


 
After Joy Division singer Ian Curtis’ home was listed for sale last week, a campaign was launched to raise funds from fans of the band to buy the house and turn it into a Joy Division museum, NME reports:

The listing reads: “Situated in a popular and central location, this double-fronted character cottage offers spacious accommodation with two reception rooms, two double bedrooms, a good size kitchen and a shared courtyard garden.”

The house was previously on the market for £64,950 in 2002. It was used as a location in the 2007 Anton Corbijn-directed film Control. Curtis took his own life in the property on May 18, 1980 at the age of 23, days before the band were due to undertake a US tour.

Fans are trying to group together to buy the house in order to prevent developers from getting it. Zak Davies, who started the campaign, which has raised £600 so far, said on its website: “As important as every member of Joy Division was to the band, one member that made the difference was Ian Curtis. The troubled yet gifted singer and lead guitarist has impacted upon so many peoples lives.

“Recently his final home and the place where he spent his final moments has gone up for sale in Macclesfield. Rather than it be taken by developers or sold for development, we feel a place with such cultural significance with such an important man attached deserves to be made into a museum and somewhere that Joy Division fans from around the world can come to pay respects and learn about Ian Curtis.”

 

 
The realtor’s listing is here, if you’d like a peek into the place. Or maybe you’d like to simply buy it for yourself. Maybe YOU’D be the one saving it—the idea of turning the room where a gifted artist killed himself into an open-to-the-public shrine could be quite solemn and moving, or it could become a tacky and gross Mecca to the death romanticizers for whom the act of Curtis’ suicide transformed him into a doleful post-punk Christ figure.

Here’s an informative and fittingly gloomy BBC bio of Curtis.
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds
Ian Curtis’ kitchen table up for auction on eBay
Ian Curtis: handwritten schoolboy poem up for auction
Ian Curtis’ original handwritten lyrics for ‘Love will Tear us Apart’
‘Here are the Young Men’: Classic Joy Division live footage, 1979-1980

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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‘Beatles Forever’: Ray Charles, Tony Randall and more in a brain-meltingly bad TV special, 1977
02.17.2015
06:31 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music
Television

Tags:
Beatles
Ray Charles
Tony Randall


 
I wish ‘70s-style TV variety specials would make a comeback. They represented everything great about awful showbiz crap. Actors who couldn’t sing sang and singers who couldn’t act acted. They almost invariably contained terribly-scripted sketch comedy in which stilted dialogue abounded. And ALL aspects of the productions were pushed past their badness thresholds—the musical orchestrations were exactly too bombastic, the costumery was exactly too glittery, and the stars were exactly too far past their prime. That shit was choice.

On Thanksgiving of 1977, ABC-TV aired the one-hour Beatles Forever, a musical tribute to the Fab Four, starring Diahann Carroll, Ray Charles, Anthony Newley, Paul Williams, Mel Tillis, Bernadette Peters, Anthony Dowell, and Tony Randall. Yep, some crazy bastard thought Tony Randall singing Beatles songs was going to be good TV! About the only respectable performances came, unsurprisingly, from the great Ray Charles, who’d already been performing “Yesterday” as part of his own concert repertoire for years. A different kind of respectable performance came from Anthony Newley, by then deep into the Borscht Belt phase of his career, tackling George Harrison’s dense and trippy Sgt. Pepper’s number “Within You, Without You.” Dangerous Minds’ Marc Campbell wrote about that a few years ago, check it out here, its histrionics could permanently warp you. If only the video would turn up online—Canadian sound collagist and radio host Otis Fodder‘s description of the segment sounds about ten light years beyond bonkers:

This special starred a ton of folks, but this performance by Anthony Newley (with his over-dramatic vocal stylings) take the cake. The video clip of this is a laugh riot in itself with Anthony’s eyebrows doing most of the singing (as they move in a hypnotic motion that send you into a pure Zen state). It’s also very important to note that while Anthony sings this song he is in a Grecian bath room, in a toga, fog covering the ground and there are ladies in waiting!

For the most part, the show was heavy on tacky medleys, wherein every singer got a chance to quickly trainwreck a choice bit of a classic song. Audio of the entire show was made available in MP3 form by WFMU as the kickoff of their 2007 “365 Days” project. Video is maddeningly difficult to find, but the final medley survives on YouTube. It starts off quite nicely, with Ray Charles performing a respectful and tasteful take on Let It Be‘s “The Long and Winding Road.” Then, in under a minute, it all goes straight to hell.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Hear Pink Floyd’s ‘Point Me at the Sky’: Their (non) hit single that Roger Waters called a ‘failure’
02.16.2015
02:00 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Pink Floyd


 
Although apparently seen by some members of the group as one of their most embarrassing moments, 1968’s “Point Me at the Sky,” the fifth single from Pink Floyd is hardly cringeworthy. The song was recorded on November 4, after Syd Barrett’s departure from the group that Spring. It was written by David Gilmour and Roger Waters under duress from the record label to continue producing the sort of catchy psychedelic whimsy their original leader was famous for.

The lyrics describe a fellow named Henry McClean calling up his friend Eugene with an offer of flight…

Hey, Eugene,
This is Henry McClean
And I’ve finished my beautiful flying machine
And I’m ringing to say
That I’m leaving and maybe
You’d like to fly with me
And hide with me, baby

Isn’t it strange
How little we change
Isn’t it sad we’re insane
Playing the games that we know and in tears
The games we’ve been playing for thousands and thousands and ....

Pointing to the cosmic glider
“Pull this plastic glider higher
Light the fuse and stand right back”
He cried “This is my last good-bye.”

Point me at the sky and tell it fly
Point me at the sky and tell it fly
Point me at the sky and tell it fly

And if you survive till two thousand and five
I hope you’re exceedingly thin
For if you are stout you will have to breathe out
While the people around you breathe in

People pressing on might say
It’s something that I hate to say
I’m slipping down to eat the ground
A little refuge on my brain

Point me at the sky and tell it fly
Point me at the sky and tell it fly
Point me at the sky and tell it fly

And all we’ve got to say to you is good-bye
It’s time to go, better run and get your bags, it’s good-bye
Nobody cry, it’s good-bye
Crash, crash, crash, crash, good-bye…

 

 
The song was a flop, its B-side, “Careful with That Axe, Eugene” (I wonder if it’s the same Eugene as the A-side?) becoming the better known number. “Point Me at the Sky” is perhaps the most obscure of all the band’s singles, having never appeared on a Pink Floyd album until the 1992 Shine On box’s The Early Singles disc. At that, The Early Singles was still only available to fans who purchased that expensive box set. (In the US, it was never released as a single at all, and available only as a cut on a 1978 Harvest Records sampler that was only sold via mail order.)
 

 
The group made a short promotional film for the song, taking flight in a 1920s vintage Tiger Moth aeroplane. The plane flies around the Biggin Hill aerodrome in Southeast London—where the photo of all the group’s equipment was shot for Ummagumma‘s back cover—and there are shots of the trains pulling in and out of Paddington Station.
 

 
I can’t imagine why they thought “Point Me to the Sky” was so bad—Roger Waters called it a “notable failure”—I’m in love with this song. They’ve recorded way worse.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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The Jim Morrison ballet: Love Me Tutu Times
02.16.2015
12:52 pm

Topics:
Dance
Music

Tags:
Jim Morrison
Leipzig Ballet


 
Last year Germany’s Leipzig Ballet performed Jim Morrison choreographed by Mario Schröder. Described as “a journey to find this man, wandering through his biography, his thoughtful poetry and his music,” the ballet does look like a trip of some kind, one that I’d like to see in full.
 

 
For the time being, one must settle for this short preview which looks like what might happen if you took Ken Russell, Hair, Chippendales and Bob Fosse, tossed them into a blender with a few peyote buttons, drank it, and then went swimming in the dancing fountains of the Bellagio Hotel.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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How Brian Eno managed to piss in Marcel Duchamp’s famous urinal, 1990
02.16.2015
09:50 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Music

Tags:
Brian Eno
Marcel Duchamp


Brian Eno lecturing at MoMA on Duchamp’s “Fountain,” October 23, 1990
 
This stimulating interview with Brian Eno was conducted in 1993 by Israeli industrial designer and architect Ron Arad for the TV show Rencontre/Begegnung on the bilingual Euro TV arts channel Arte.

In the interview Eno confesses that “Roxy Music was an aberration in my life” and also intriguingly asserts that he has never owned a copy of the Velvet Underground’s third album because he does not want to spoil it by overplaying it. But the most startling portion of the interview comes towards the end, when he describes an illicit art adventure he experienced three years earlier, in 1990, when he decided to pee in Marcel Duchamp’s famous “ready-made” from 1917, a urinal with the title “Fountain” bestowed upon it.

Eno explains the importance of “Fountain” quite well when he says that it represented “a new idea in art,” that “the artist was not necessarily somebody who made something but somebody who recognized something, somebody who created an art experience by naming it as such.” Then Eno eases into his narrative: “This readymade was on show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. I was due to give a lecture there called ‘High Art/Low Art.’ … There it was, sitting in the museum.” After mentioning that he had already seen “Fountain” at the Sao Paulo Biennale in the 1980s as well as in London in the 1970s, he gets to the meat of his protest:
 

And I thought, how ridiculous that this particular … pisspot gets carried around the world at—it costs about thirty or forty thousand dollars to insure it every time it travels. I thought, How absolutely stupid, the whole message of this work is, “You can take any object and put it in a gallery.” It doesn’t have to be that one, that’s losing the point completely. And this seemed to me an example of the art world once again covering itself by drawing a fence around that thing, saying, “This isn’t just any ordinary piss pot, this is THE one, the special one, the one that is worth all this money.”

So I thought, somebody should piss in that thing, to sort of bring it back to where it belonged. So I decided it had to be me.

 
In the video he then goes on to describe in great detail exactly how he managed to pee on the urinal. The date of this series of events was October 23, 1990. Eno wrote about this episode in his 1996 book A Year With Swollen Appendices. Here’s his account from that book (the story in the video is very similar):
 

…each time it was shown it was more heavily defended. At MoMA it was being shown behind glass, in a large display case. There was, however, a narrow slit between the two front sheets of glass. It was about three-sixteenths of an inch wide.

I went to the plumber’s on the corner [New Yorkers might wonder what “plumber” has a retail presence on the intersection of 53rd and 5th Avenue?] and obtained a couple of feet of clear plastic tubing of that thickness, along with a similar length of galvanized wire. Back in my hotel room, I inserted the wire down to the tubing to stiffen it. Then I urinated into the sink and, using the tube as a pipette, managed to fill it with urine. I then inserted the whole apparatus down my trouser-leg and returned to the museum, keeping my thumb over the top end so as to ensure that the urine stayed in the tube.

At the museum, I positioned myself before the display case, concentrating intensely on its contents. There was a guard standing behind me and about 12 feet away. I opened my fly and slipped out the tube, feeding it carefully through the slot in the glass. It was a perfect fit, and slid in quite easily until its end was positioned above the famous john. I released my thumb, and a small but distinct trickle of my urine splashed on to the work of art.

That evening I used this incident, illustrated with several diagrams showing from all angles exactly how it had been achieved, as the basis of my talk. Since “decommodification” wwas one of the buzzwords of the day, I described my action as “re-commode-ification.”

 
To my ear, this story has the strong whiff of bullshit about it, but as far as I know it has not been debunked—presumably, the guards or an art expert would have been able to verify at the time whether such a thing had happened. I would very much like to see those “diagrams” showing how he did it.

Paul Ingram implies that Eno was working as part of a group of similarly minded activists, which if true Eno’s two accounts certainly obscures: “In the last decade of the twentieth century, Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain [1917] was the subject of a series of interventions by artists who each attempted, more or less successfully, to urinate in it: Brian Eno at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1990; Kendell Geers at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice in 1993; Pierre Pinocelli at the Carré d’Art in Nîmes in 1993; Björn Kjelltoft at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 1999; and Cai Yuan and Jian Jun Xi at the Tate Modern in London in 2000.”
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Music meant for the Cosmos: Watch an intense Miles Davis concert from the ‘Bitches Brew’ era
02.16.2015
06:31 am

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Music

Tags:
Miles Davis

Miles Davis
 
God, is this great. Here we have the incredible Miles Davis performance from the Tanglewood music festival, held in Lenox, Massachusetts, during August 1970. Earlier in the year, Miles released his landmark double album, Bitches Brew, and though the fusion of jazz and rock heard in the grooves was controversial amongst jazz purists, it was a big hit in the rock world. Thus, Davis found himself playing for a new and expanded audience, with the Tanglewood gig being one of the biggest shows he had played yet. The professionally shot video was recently uploaded to YouTube by the good folks at Music Vault, who own the rights.

Here’s an excerpt from their first-rate notes on the event:

Other than his appearance at the Isle of Wight Festival later this same month, the Tanglewood performance was possibly the largest audience that Miles Davis had encountered up to this point. His extraordinary band, containing many soon to be legendary musicians, was all deeply immersed in the early experiments into electric instrumentation. This incendiary performance captures Miles embracing a rock dynamic in his music that was more electric, more funky, more rhythmic, and simply more “out there” than anything that had proceeded it.

Much of the material performed this night derives from Miles’ studio sessions during the groundbreaking In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew album sessions. Because the performance remains one long continuous suite, it allows one to follow the flow and logic of the music over an extended period of time. This continual flow, devoid of announcements identifying the songs, often left critics and some listeners confused, but focused listening reveals that distinct changes are taking place. Miles is thoroughly in control of the musical direction at all times, whether he is in the forefront or not. Miles guides the music back to particular vamps or themes, continually bringing focus to the group improvisations. The swift and agile response of the musicians to Miles’ cues and coded phrases is truly remarkable and is a primary reason for the relentless intensity of this music.

Miles and his group were opening for Santana that night, as Carlos Santana had hand-selected Davis for the slot. Years later, Carlos had this to say about the performance: “The played music meant for the cosmos. It was out, it was in, it was unreal, and it was oh so glorious.”

The band:

Miles Davis - trumpet
Gary Bartz - soprano and alto sax
Chick Corea - electric piano
Keith Jarrett - organ, electric piano
Dave Holland - electric and acoustic bass
Jack DeJohnette - drums
Airto Moriera – percussion
 

 

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Discussion
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SWAT! Marky Ramone’s DIY solution to rude dickheads with smartphones at concerts
02.14.2015
09:24 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music
Punk
Science/Tech

Tags:
Marky Ramone


 
We’ve surely all been there. Enjoying a concert when the asshole right in front of you holds up his/her phone to shoot video, forcing you to watch the event that you’re actually at in miniature on a video screen. Don’t even get me going on the motherfuckers who do that shit with tablets. As a frequent concertgoer, I find that to be among the most annoying of the new etiquette breaches that the smartphone era has ushered in, but—leave it to the old-school—Marky Ramone has the solution! It’s the Cell Phone Swatter, patent and trademark pending, I assume. He’s made a hilarious PSA for it, and for good measure, he gets in a plug for his recent autobiography Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone. It’s short, so I won’t describe/spoil it except to say I don’t think I would go around gluing shit to my vintage Ramones 7"s. Marky’s probably got extras, though.
 

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Fifty Shades of ‘Tortura’: A soundtrack to dominate your mate to
02.13.2015
01:25 pm

Topics:
Music
Sex

Tags:
Sado Maso
pleasure
pain
domination
Tortura


 
This is one of the more baffling records I have ever come across. It’s a record album from 1965 with the title Tortura: The Sounds of Pain and Pleasure…., subtitle “A Factual Living Record of Discipline and Punishment,” which of course recalls a famous book by Foucault, who, come to think of it, would probably have dug this LP.  The label was called Bondage Records.

After learning of the album’s existence (as well as that of a follow-up), it took me a while to find mp3s of it, in which the individual cuts had usefully been concatenated into simply “Side A” and “Side B” files for ease of listening (see below). The album has very little actual music on it. The record contains a series of untitled tracks, perhaps ten per side, featuring the sounds of a whip in use accompanied by the sounds of a human being cooing or whimpering in intense pain/pleasure. I think most of the moaning is coming from men but not all of it. There’s a common paradigm here of the woman being the one who gets to dole out the pain/pleasure, which possibly is being recapitulated here—it’s hard for simple, wordless audio tracks to convey any information about the power relations being depicted. It’s pretty much what you would hear if you put your ear up against the wall in a dungeon of some sort, albeit with no dialogue, no commands or anything like that. Basically it’s just whip/reaction, whip/reaction, over and over again.

To be clear, there’s every reason to believe that these are simulated sounds, by professional actors or Foley artists at work making a product for public consumption; it does not appear to be an actual record of bondage play.
 

 
Playing the record is an interesting experience. On both sides, the tracks are mostly interchangeable. Generally the human is exhibiting some kind of intense but stifled response, basically simple moaning, although some of the tracks unmistakably simulate an intense, er, “release” reaction on the part of the human being. On both sides, with a minute or two to go, some piano jazz suddenly materializes to accompany the moaning and the whip strikes.

Jazz music aside, the alternation of whips and moans has a musical quality all its own, which lends the proceedings an amusing quality in a DEVO kind of way, or possibly a Firesign Theatre kind of way. As the sides progress, however, it becomes a little bit challenging to persist with the listening, or at least I found it to be so. Simply put, it is not easy to listen to the sounds of human beings experiencing pain with complete equanimity.

For some reason there is almost no data about this album. It does not appear in the Discogs listings, and its tracks are almost entirely absent from YouTube. Viewed on a browser, the album cover looks (to my eyes) more like a deftly executed mockup of a 1965 album from recent years than the real thing, but further research disabused me of that notion, and eventually I found actual mp3s as well. There was an auction on eBay about a week ago in which the follow-up to this album (subtitle: “An Evening with the Marquis de Sade”) sold for $171 shipped, and there is an auction going on right now where you can buy this album for a base price of $195.

Curiously, one of the first things to cement the idea in my head that this album really existed was that it pops up in a legal case involving the First Amendment in the late 1960s. In the 1969 U.S. Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit case United States v. Baranov, we learn that “the matter found to be obscene consisted for the most part of printed booklets containing photographs and illustrations pertaining to nudity, masochism, flagellation, and lesbianism, together with accompanying text material. One count pertained to a phonograph record entitled ‘Tortura, the Sounds of Pain and Pleasure.’”

According to this helpful BDSM wiki, the album was produced by Flag Publishing out of Los Angeles and San Diego, but the writeup suggests that an LP of this type was not typical of Flag’s product line.

If you would like to hear the whole album, this website is helpful.

Here’s the last track of side B:
 

 
And here’s another track:
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Pere Ubu, DEVO and more seminal Ohio punk on two new compilations


 
I’m in my mid ‘40s, and I’ve lived my entire life in Cleveland, OH. Go ahead and fire up your jokes, I’ve heard ‘em all, and frankly, if you still think it’s a punchline, I’m perfectly happy for you to keep your uninformed pierogi-hole on lockdown and stay far the hell away so as not to pollute my zen (OR: if you want to check it out with an open mind, I know a ton of very cool people who’d be glad to point you in all the right directions). I’ve traveled plenty, though obviously one can never travel enough, and I’ve had opportunities to live elsewhere, but so far I’ve taken none of them. Part of that was because until a few years ago I had enviable job security in an industry I loved, and I still have a crazy low cost of living, but the REAL magnet that’s kept me here? The music scene is and always has been beyond utterly fucking brilliant. I have never wanted for gifted mutants to rock with, and while everybody steeped in punk and New Wave lore knows what a musical atom bomb Northeast Ohio was in the ‘70s, and while the success of the Black Keys, indie champs Cloud Nothings, and garage/soul shit-fucker-upper Obnox are attracting attention here nowadays, the rarely-told stories of the ‘80s, ‘90s and oughts scenes are doozies, as well. Almost every time I’ve pondered a move, it’s been a band that’s kept me around, even though nary a one of ‘em has ever made a dent, and I while I abidingly love a lot of other cities, I’ve yet to seriously regret sticking it out here. A close-knit music scene teeming with talent is just that strong an attractor for me.

Recently, the excellent archival record label Soul Jazz have, as part of their ongoing PUNK 45 series, released two excellent compilations documenting the ‘70s/early ‘80s roots of that music scene, one each for Cleveland and Akron, both with extremely generous liner notes. They cover all the stuff I missed out on by being not being born 10 years earlier, but obviously these bands still weigh heavily on the region’s underground musical legacy. Both are assembled from early, independently-released 7"s, and both accordingly feature some previously compiled material AND some serious treasures.
 

 
The Akron comp, Burn Rubber City, Burn!, has the early DEVO single “Mechanical Man” and the rarity “Auto Modown,” the Waitresses’ early single “The Comb,” and Tin Huey’s awesome “Squirm You Worm.” (Versions embedded in this post may not be the same as what’s actually on the comp; they were the versions I could find online. )
 

The Waitresses, “The Comb”
 
Plenty more after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Kanye West gets a Beck beatdown, New York style
02.13.2015
09:10 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
Beck
Kanye West


 
I’m a loser baby so why don’t you kill me?
 
Despite being an awards show junkie I make an exception for the Grammy Awards and usually avoid it. But thanks to Kanye West bumrushing Beck on stage it was impossible to avoid that part of the show. It was everywhere. At first I found West’s actions amusing and then not. The amusing part was Kanye seemingly poking fun at himself for his Taylor Swiftboating routine at the VMA Awards in 2009. Unfortunately, the funny part was quickly erased from my brain by West’s backstage comments about Beck being undeserving of the award, not artistic enough or something like that, and that Beyoncé should have won. Unless you’ve been on a media fast the past week, you’ve been exposed to West’s tiresome bullshit which essentially boils down to him disrespecting Beck’s worth as a musician and songwriter. West backed-down a bit when he claimed that “voices in his head” made him do it:

So the voices in my head told me go and then I just walked up like halfway up the stage.

Beck’s win for album of the year was a surprise to most people (they called it an “upset”).  But really it’s one of the rare moments in Grammy history where the voters got it right. Morning Phase is a brilliant work on all levels: performance, production and songwriting. It’s an album every bit as good as another favorite of mine:  My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West. Too bad West couldn’t recognize an artistic peer when he saw one. Beck did. He called West “a genius.” With one classy choice of words, Beck wiped the self-satisfied smirk from West’s ever-present and often intrusive face.

Last night Kanye West played an outdoor concert in the Flatiron district of New York City and was greeted by some Flatiron dwellers with an allegiance to Beck and a sense of humor. Ad agency PNYC and some anonymous neighbors had highly visible messages for Kanye. I’m hoping that West interrupted the voices in his head for a moment and looked skyward and realized that karma is a bitch.
 

 

 
Via The Gothamist.

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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