If you just got a contact high after reading the title of this post, then congratulations. Take two tabs of acid and call me in the morning! But only after you’ve listened to the three tracks from Harvard psychologist and drug guru Timothy Leary’s album (which was recorded in 1968), You Can Be Anyone This Time Around.
Timothy Leary and his bass player
Leary recorded the album, in part as a way to raise cash to fund his ill-fated run for Governor of California against the then incumbent, GOP golden god, Ronald Reagan. His campaign slogan was “Come together, join the party” and his campaign song was supposed to be, “Come Together,” which was conceived specifically with Leary’s political aspirations in mind by John Lennon.
Learys and Lennons
Sadly, after Leary was arrested on December 26th, 1968 for the possession of two pot roaches (for which he was given a ten-year prison sentence, with another ten-year sentence tacked on to that due to a previous arrest in 1965, let that one sink in), his campaign went up in well, smoke.
Leary’s prison mugshot
Lucky for us, the 45-minute long, three-track record (which was allegedly recorded in one session that went on until the early morning hours at the Record Plant in New York City) that includes musical contributions not only from Hendrix (on bass guitar no less) but also Stephen Stills, drummer Buddy Miles, and John Sebastian, founder of The Lovin’ Spoonful, did see the light of day. Unlike Leary’s political career.
Historically speaking, it’s one of the very first records to use “samples.” Sonic snatches from the catalogs of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and sitar maestro, Ravi Shankar round out the album’s unique “sound.” As if all that isn’t cool enough when it comes to rock and roll mythology—the record is actually a great listen…
Given that people like to make money, I suppose it was inevitable that Bruce Lee mania and disco fever would intersect—but when, and where? In 1978, history chose as its instrument England’s JKD (as in Jeet Kune Do) Band. On the Dragon Power (A Tribute to Bruce Lee) 12-inch, JKD Band provided an inoffensive party-record backing to screeches and bits of dialogue lifted from Enter the Dragon, and the result is delightful. Disco would sound a lot better if all the songs were ginned up with war cries, bones cracking, and other combat sounds, don’t you think? Enterprising young people: let’s make 2016 the year of war disco.
According to Discogs, the arranger of this disc, John Altman, played sax on Van Morrison and Graham Parker records, and he’s collaborated with Neil Innes of Rutles, Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and Monty Python fame on severaloccasions.
If this rings your bell, Amazon has the JKD Band’s full Dragon Poweralbum, though I should warn you that I didn’t hear any shrieking, pulverizing or Eastern philosophizing on “Hooked on the Boogie” or “Let Your Body Do the Talking.”
But the album that sold in CD shops everywhere was quite different from the album that almost came out. Two tracks, “Scenario” and a cover of the Beatles’ 1965 track “I’m Down,” were cut at the last minute.
For years Beastie Boys diehards have circulated an alternate sequencing of Licensed to Ill called Original Ill in which “I’m Down” and its deleted partner “Scenario” are part of the tracklist. (In case you’re wondering, “I’m Down” occupies the 4th slot on side 1, after “She’s Crafty” and before ”Posse In Effect,” whereas “Scenario” is the last track on the album.) The phrase that is invariably used to describe those two songs is “deleted at last minute,” which definitely suggests a possible legal problem or some similar final-hour issue. In the case of “I’m Down” it does seem as if Def Jam or someone in a position to get sued might have been worried about Michael Jackson’s attorneys, whereas for “Scenario” the red flag was quite different—the mere mention of the popular smokable cocaine variant known as crack. (Michael Jackson had recently purchased the entire Beatles catalog; for his part Greil Marcus—see below—apparently understood worries about Michael Jackson to be the central problem at the time.)
On the crack tip, here’s the (oft-repeated) lyric from “Scenario”:
Well chillin’ on the corner this one time (time)
Coolin’ at the fuckin’ party and runnin’ that line (line)
Smokin’ my crack sayin’ them rhymes (rhymes)
Countin’ my bank just to pass the time
It almost seems as if the Beastie’s mentioning Crack was a bad thing because not only was Scenario completely removed from the album, which mentions crack all through out the song, but the original version of Rhymin’ & Stealin’ was edited to take out just two small phrases, “Most crackin-est B-Boy!!” “I Smoke My Crack!” The phrase is left intact on this release though so you can hear how it originally sounded. I do find it weird that they can mention dust, and being dusted out, over and over, but when they mention crack, songs and phrases get deleted.
It’s interesting that the line “And I’m never dusting out cause I torch that crack” still lingers on in “Hold It Now—Hit It,” however.
“Eve of Destruction,” written by teenage Bob Dylan fan P. F. Sloan and sung by former New Christy Minstrel Barry McGuire, spent eleven weeks on the Billboard chart in 1965, reaching number one that September. Apocalyptic, adolescent and aporetic, it was loathed as only a hit can be. “Even at the time, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Paul Simon, Pete Seeger, Noel Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary, and Manfred Mann lead singer Paul Jones all slagged the song in the press,” Richie Unterberger writes. I suspect most of these musicians just thought the song was not a very good Dylan ripoff, but some public-spirited citizens were seriously concerned that the protest number gave ground to the Reds. “How do you think the enemy will feel with a tune like that No. 1 in America?” future respected foreign policy analyst Rose Parade host Bob Eubanks asked in the pages of TIME.
Staying at the Hollywood Sunset Hotel in the late summer of 1965, Dylan provided his own response to “Eve of Destruction,” as biographer Howard Sounes reports:
‘Get P. F. Sloan,’ Bob demanded. ‘Let’s have P. F. Sloan up here.’
Sloan was duly summoned to the Hollywood Sunset Hotel where Bob played him acetates of Highway 61 Revisited. Sloan rolled about on the floor laughing when he heard ‘Ballad of a Thin Man.’ Bob laughed too. He slapped his knees as if it was the biggest joke in the world. Then he said, seriously, ‘I gotta big problem here. Columbia Records doesn’t have any idea what this song is about. They think it’s communistic.’ Before Sloan had time to digest this shocking piece of information, David Crosby of The Byrds entered the suite and he and Bob went into the bedroom, leaving Sloan on his own. What happened next seems to have been an elaborate stunt arranged by Bob to cause the already excitable Sloan to freak out. ‘Two women come in from the bedroom half-naked – topless – sit down like book ends on the couch, and they don’t say a word, just sit there,’ says Sloan. ‘In from the window, from the outside, comes a man, flying in from a rope wearing a Zorro outfit, with a black hat and black mask, wearing black silk pajamas.’ The man dressed as Zorro sat between the topless girls and stared at Sloan. ‘I can only imagine that Bob had set this up, but I don’t know. And he’s in the other room with David Crosby. About fifteen, twenty minutes go by. The girls get up. Nobody says a word.’ Zorro and the girls exited via the front door, leaving Sloan again on his own. ‘David Crosby comes out of the bedroom and shakes hands with me and Bob continues to play me the rest of the album.’
Musician Ian Whitcomb records how, in November ‘65, one Singing Swallow, then the program director at a radio station in Santa Rosa, California, interpreted the success of “Eve of Destruction.” Whitcomb, who had recently shared the stage with McGuire (“a perfectly charming man, very warm and gentle, not at all like his hate-filled song”) on a Pittsburgh TV show, was visiting radio stations to peddle his single “N-N-Nervous!” Accompanying him was George Sherlock, the subject of the Stones’ “The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man,” who, in the excerpt below, has just spun the singer’s new disc. From Whitcomb’s Rock Odyssey:
Spinning his chair vaguely in my direction, [the program director] asked: “When you gonna make another record, son?” “But you just listened to a smash, Swallow,” said George with a boogaloo swing of his hips. “Naw—I mean one I can play.” Before I could answer, Swallow continued with: “Have you guys heard this ‘Eve of Destruction’ mother? It’s a stone fox smash!” And to emphasize his point, he burst open another can of beer, soaking my record. “A lot of the lyrics I can’t make out, but what I can is goddamn treason! Can you believe a guy who knocks our Draft, our senators, our church, our H-bombs—and all on a pop record?” “So I take it,” said George with a dismissive click of his fingers, “that the disc is negative as far as your big boss playlist is concerned?” “Not on your Hollywood scalp doily! It may knock the U.S.A., but I don’t knock success. I grab it by the balls and hang on tight. That ‘Eve’ disc is Dylan made commercial. It’s gonna open up a whole new area. It’s a new kind of loot music under the title of protest, remember that! Now, Whitmore, you got something I can play, something that fits the times and our format—and I’ll spin it like crazy. But until that time, it’s so long and have a happy day. Out!
As you can see, “Eve of Destruction” shocked and convulsed the nation with its radical message that everything might not work out so great. Here are five songs that strove to replace Sloan’s teenage “no” with a paternalistic “yes.”
The Spokesmen, “Dawn of Correction”
The most famous retort to “Eve of Destruction,” beloved of rock writers Greil Marcus and Lester Bangs, came from Philadelphia’s Spokesmen, a trio formed by the partners who wrote “At The Hop” and a local DJ. The three rock professionals bent Sloan’s ungainly rhymes to the service of their relentlessly cheerful view:
You missed all the good in your evaluation
What about the things that deserve commendation?
Where there once was no cure, there’s vaccination
Where there once was a desert, there’s vegetation
Self-government’s replacing colonization
What about the Peace Corps organization?
Don’t forget the work of the United Nations
I’m not sure where the TV clip of “Dawn of Correction” below comes from, but according to lead Spokesman John Madara’s website, they performed the song on American Bandstand and The Lloyd Thaxton Show.
The Spokesmen, “Dawn of Correction”:
But you tell me over and over and over again my friend that you want to hear more ‘Eve of Destruction’ answer songs? There’s more, plenty more, after the jump…
She’s a Punk Rocker UK is a useful corrective to the male-dominated arena of U.K. punk directed by Zillah Minx, formerly of the day-glo anarcho-punk group Rubella Ballet. It came out in 2010 but hasn’t been available to watch online until a few days ago, when the filmmakers posted it on YouTube.
Rubella Ballet’s origins stem from a Crass gig in 1979 when the band called on audience members to join them onstage and play the instruments. So it’s not surprising to see Eve Libertine and a few other Crass-affiliated women interviewed here.
As a firsthand witness and participant of the original U.K. squat/punk scene, Minx’s credentials on this subject are unimpeachable. Perhaps inevitably, Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex plays a central role in the story Minx is trying to tell (the musical bed for the opening credits is “I Am a Poseur”).
The movie, which clocks in at a crisp 68 minutes, features women punkers including, as already mentioned, Poly Styrene, Eve Libertine and Gee Vaucher of Crass, Gaye Advert of The Adverts, Michelle of Brigandage, and Olga Orbit of Youth in Asia as well as other figures like writers Julie Burchill and Caroline Coon.
The story is one of offhand marginalization, both as punks within society and as women within the punk scene. But what sticks with the viewer is the endless parade of vital, expressive, confident, funny women embodying the benefits of liberating self-discovery and defiance. Vi Subversa might have the most interesting story of them all, starting the radical feminist band Poison Girls as a mother of two in her 40s when punk landed in the U.K.
In late August 1980, XTC spent an extended weekend at Richard Branson’s Manor Studio in order to lay down another version of “Towers of London,” a track that would eventually become the second single off of Black Sea, following “Generals and Majors.” Someone clever at BBC sent a camera crew along to document the proceedings, and the result is the delightful hour-long documentary “XTC at the Manor.”
The “Manor” in question was a legendary estate that Richard Branson purchased in 1971 and promptly turned into a recording studio. (The documentary repeatedly features the memorable image of Branson teetering on one of the building’s many precarious rooftops.) Many, many albums were recorded at the Manor, including Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, PiL’s Metal Box, and Radiohead’s The Bends. In 1995 it ceased being a recording facility.
XTC also recorded White Music and English Settlement at the Manor. An interviewer points out that the weekend ends up taking on “a bizarre quality.” Andy Partridge mentions that for the previous album, the sessions were rather “sleepy.” This 1980 stint features the band’s very own bouncy castle—acquired, of course, for the shooting of the video for “Generals and Majors.”
The late, great postpunk website Slicing Up Eyeballs refers to this documentary as airing on BBC2 on October 10, 1980. My info says it was October 8, but it don’t much matter.
Okay, folks, so we kind of have to make this happen: There’s a petiton on Change.org that’s tryng to get a newly discovered ‘heavy metal’ element named after Lemmy Kilmister. The suggested name? Lemmium. That works for me. You? Sign the petition!
Heavy rock lost its most iconic figure over Christmas with the sudden and unexpected death of Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister. Lemmy was a force of nature and the very essence of heavy metal. We believe it is fitting that the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry recommend that one of the four new discovered Heavy Metals in the Periodic table is named Lemmium. An astrological object (a star) has been named Lemmy to meet the IUPAC naming recommendations.
I think they mean “astronomical,” but maybe not!
So far Change.org has amassed over 21,000 supporters. I think we can do better. A link to sign the petition is here.
It’s a topic that needs to be tackled definitively by the cybersleuths of Snopes.com: DID Marc Bolan, in fact, play guitar on Ike & Tina Turner’s classic “Nutbush City Limits” in 1973? Or was it Ike? Or neither of them?
Although many have tried to get to the bottom of it in recent years, no one seems to really know. Allegedly Tina Turner herself confirmed, in a BBC radio interview that it was indeed Marc Bolan playing guitar on the song. But where is that elusive radio interview? Someone has a memory of it. That memory then gets repeated and “quoted” and ultimately once something comes up enough times in a Google search it becomes a “fact.” True. Or at least true enough.
Typical of the period, none of the session musicians who contributed to “Nutbush City Limits” were given specific mention in the song credits. It has been rumored for years that Marc Bolan, frontman for the glam rock band T. Rex, played guitar on the track. Gloria Jones, his girlfriend at the time—who herself provided backing vocals for Ike & Tina Turner during the 1960s—asserted that this was the case in the 2007 BBC4 documentary Marc Bolan: The Final Word. This claim is bolstered by the fact that Bolan toured the U.S. extensively and resided in the Los Angeles area during the mid-1970s, and is also acknowledged to have played on the Ike & Tina Turner singles “Sexy Ida (Part 2)” and “Baby—Get It On.” However, a 2008 Ebony magazine article about Ike Turner’s death identified James “Bino” Lewis, then a member of Ike & Tina’s backing band Kings of Rhythm, as the guitarist. It has also been suggested that James Lewis is the guitarist on “Baby—Get It On.”
He played on “City Limits” with Ike and Tina Turner. I’ll never forget. I called Ike and said we’re in town and he said, ‘We’re in the studio; you guys come down.’ Marc took his guitar; Tina and I were listening to the song while Marc and Ike were working out their guitar part. Ike said to Marc, “Play what you feel.” That’s when Marc put that “chink, chink” you hear on there. Ike and Tina also really admired him, and they appreciated a lot of the rock acts.
Gloria Jones ought to know. After all, she was there.
Like time itself, the procession of Melvins bass players marches ever onward. That sludgy parade has included luminaries like ur-Melvin and eventual Mudhoney founder Matt Lukin; Lori Black, the daughter of the ridiculously famous 1930s child actress Shirley Temple; Cows’ Kevin Rutmanis; Joe Preston of doom pioneers Earth, who went on post-Melvins to form the wonderful ambient/drone project Thrones; erstwhile Alchemy Records honcho Mark Deutrom; Mr. Bungle’s Trevor Dunn; Karp/Big Business bassist Jared Warren; and, most recently, Butthole Surfer Jeff Pinkus.
My pals and I have long had a running joke—and we surely can’t be the only ones—that this tendency will reach its apotheosis once Minute/hose bass legend Mike Watt becomes a Melvin, but in a way, something close enough has actually happened. It was announced last month that the latest Melvin will be Steve McDonald of Redd Kross, the early L.A. hardcore band featured in Desperate Teenage Lovedolls and Lovedolls Superstar when they themselves were still actual teenagers, making themselves notorious with a gleeful take on hardcore that pushed towards manic power-pop, and a penchant for hilariously nailing near-heretical cover songs. In the mid-‘80s, they made a dramatic turn towards full-blown psychedelia, releasing the unspeakably brilliant Neurotica, an album that would leave a large stain on the grunge movement that was soon to come. McDonald resurfaced in the 21st Century as a member of the hardcore alter-kaker supergroup OFF! with members of Circle Jerks and Hot Snakes, and with Redd Kross again, on the 2012 LP Researching the Blues. He’s reportedly already recorded a Melvins EP called War Pussy, and will perform on this year’s sure-to-be-completely-sick tour with Japanese spazzcore gods Melt Banana and Napalm. Fucking. Death.
To celebrate this unholy union, Melvins have released a Neurotica mash-up T-shirt, designed by illustrator and onetime Polvo drummer Brian Walsby, who in 2014 gifted the world with a wonderful Melvins/Forever Changes shirt. Preorders are currently ongoing, and quantities are limited to 500 standard Ts and 500 raglan sleeve baseball shirts.
A week before Christmas, Netflix posted F is for Family, a new animated series based on the politically incorrect outlook of acerbic stand-up comedian Bill Burr. Co-written by Burr and frequent Simpsons scribe Michael Price, the show also features the vocal talents of Laura Dern, Justin Long, Sam Rockwell, Phil Hendrie and others. F is for Family is set in 1973, a time of prog rock, when dads were kings of their castles, kids were left to play unsupervised on construction sites and “the Japs” were beating our asses with their cheap imported cars. Burr plays Frank Murphy, a rant-prone typically angry blue collar 70s dad—we all had one—who works in baggage handling at the local airport and watches a lot of TV.
I liked it a lot, but then again I get all the jokes since I was seven the year it supposedly takes place. If you like Bill Burr—and who doesn’t love a man who can do THIS—it doesn’t disappoint. It’s smart and funny, somewhat self-consciously playing like a Norman Lear comedy with a fuck of a lot more swearing.
The show has an opening title sequence that is set to 1974’s AM radio hit “Come and Get Your Love,” which I think is one of the best songs of like all time. It’s an unbelievably catchy earworm that evokes a nice summer day, with the wind in your hair, just being young and carefree and this is what we’re grooving along to as we see a young Frank graduate from high school, optimistic and flying through the clouds, ready to go out and conquer the world before a draft notice smacks him in the face. Before our eyes we see him get paunchier, a pair of glasses and a bald spot along with the nagging responsibilities of his wife and three kids (“They’re animals”). It’s the most perfect way to introduce the character of Frank—or any father of that generation.
The reason I mention this is because if you’ve seen the show—you might know the song (or have heard it elsewhere, such as Guardians of the Galaxy) but do you recall the group who did it? Probably not. They were called Redbone and billed themselves as the first Native American/Cajun rock group. They were really amazing musicians who are worthy of “rediscovery” by rock snobs.
Redbone (not to be confused with Leon Redbone, the idiosyncratic Canadian Tin Pan Alley-style singer-songwriter) was formed by brothers Pat and Lolly Vasquez-Vegas in 1969. Previously they had been hotshot LA session musicians known professionally as the Avantis and later as the Vegas Brothers—their paths crossed in the studio with the likes of Glenn Campbell, Snuff Garrett, Sonny & Cher, Delaney Bramlett, Leon Russell, Elvis and many other notables—but two Mexican guys playing surf rock wasn’t really something that they felt the entertainment industry wanted at the time, hence the switch to the more overtly Native American image with a bit of Cajun spice. They had two big hits, the first being “The Witch Queen of New Orleans” (about 19th century voodoo practitioner Marie Laveau) in 1971. By the time of Cher’s “Half-Breed” in 1973—“Redbone” being Cajun slang for someone of mixed heritage—it must’ve felt like the right moment for the group to take advantage of this nascent Native American chic.