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Cabaret Voltaire to perform live in the U.K. for the first time since 1992 next month
03.24.2017
08:00 am

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Music

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The greatest musical act in world history to take its name from a Swiss Dada touchstone, Cabaret Voltaire announced earlier this week that it intends to play its first U.K. show in 25 years when it takes the stage at Derbyshire’s The Devil’s Arse Cave on April 29.

In an odd bit of phrasing, a poster released by the band asserts that the show is “billed as a performance consisting solely of machines, multi-screen projections and Richard H. Kirk,” and if you’re wondering, it seems that the surmise that Stephen Mallinder will not be involved is correct. (By the way, they used the exact same odd phrasing in press releases for their 2015 shows.)

In the 1970s Cabaret Voltaire was one of the pre-eminent pioneers of industrial and electronic music, generating albums as sinister and funky as Red Mecca and The Crackdown; it’s safe to say that anything under the banner of Cabaret Voltaire is worthy of interest by definition.

It’s true that Cabaret Voltaire played gigs all over continental Europe in 2015 and 2016, but Kirk and his doodads neglected to hit the British Isles. The useful website setlist.fm includes information on a 2011 show in the Horse Hospital in the Bloomsbury neighborhood of London, but that was actually a screening of the 1982 movie Johnny Yesno, a movie for which Cabaret Voltaire did the soundtrack. The last Cabaret Voltaire show in the U.K. before that was at the Gardner Center in Brighton on November 29, 1992.

The more interesting news is that Kirk has recently made a commitment, in an interview with FACT, to keep upcoming CV shows devoid of old material:
 

It’s totally new, I don’t play anything from the past. I think being 60, it feels more dignified than a band full of old guys wobbling about on a stage. I’ve been a big fan of Miles Davis for many years and he would never play anything from the past and the only time he ever did that was before he died. I just feel like, what’s the point? It’s not going anywhere, who wants to be playing stuff that you did 30 years ago and constantly repeating yourself? I always make it really clear that if you think you’re going to come and hear the greatest hits then don’t come because you’re not. What you might get is the same spirit.

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘The Rock and Roll Singer’: On tour with the legendary Gene Vincent in 1969
03.23.2017
01:43 pm

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Music
Pop Culture

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Never underestimate the power of imitation.

Elvis Presley never toured Britain. The only time the King set foot in the UK was during a brief stopover to refuel the army plane that was taking him home at Prestwick Airport in 1960. With no Presley tours, ever, there was a wide open gap for homegrown talent to fill.

First there was Tommy Steele. Steele was good—but he had no edge. He was wholesome showbiz—the kind of rock ‘n’ roll singer mothers adored. He did stage shows, TV light entertainment shows and even made a movie with Benny Hill. Then came Marty Wilde, Billy Fury, Duffy Power, Vince Eager and Dickie Pride. Each one of these acts was managed by Larry Parnes, a pop impresario and manager known as the “Beat Svengali.” Parnes created his own homegrown roster of rock ‘n’ roll acts. He produced their records, booked their gigs and made a helluva lot of money. His stars? Not so much. Most of his singers never received any royalties—Parnes was able to do this by having power of attorney over his acts.

The fans screamed. The records sold. But the kids still craved real American rock ‘n’ roll stars. Bill Haley and the Comets toured—but they were old and not so hip. Buddy Holly hit it big with a tour in 1958. But when Holly died in a plane crash not long after, most American rockers weren’t so keen on flying to the UK to tour. Then came Gene Vincent. Finally the British fans would find their replacement for Elvis Presley.

Gene Vincent had the bad boy rep. He looked like trouble. He was known for trouble. He was said to have wrecked his leg in a bike crash which left him wearing a “steel sheath” for the rest of his life. His biggest hit was “Be-Bop-a-Lula” in 1956—which was the best Elvis song that Presley never recorded. It made Gene Vincent famous. He toured the US with his band the Blue Caps. He made TV and movie appearances but never quite followed up the success he had with “Be-Bop-a-Lula.” The taxman came after him. Vincent allegedly sold his band’s equipment to pay off the debt. It was the start of a pattern that was to frame the rest of his life.

Vincent was going nowhere fast when an offer came to tour England in 1959. TV producer Jack Good booked Vincent on to his pop show Boy Meets Girl. Good hated Vincent’s look. The singer arrived in his trademark green Teddy Boy jacket with “GV” emblazoned on the pockets. Good dressed him in black leather—leather trousers, leather jacket, leather gloves, jet black t-shirt. and sparkling medallion. It was the image that defined bad boy rock ‘n’ roll.

His appearance on Boy Meets Girl made Gene Vincent a legend. He was booked to tour the UK. Sell-out gigs across the country and then in Europe. The Brits couldn’t get enough of this Yankee rock ‘n’ roll singer.

Watch Gene Vincent on the road in 1969, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Real Horrorshow: The short-lived ‘Clockwork Orange’-themed punk band Molodoy
03.23.2017
12:27 pm

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Books
Movies
Music
Punk

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I’m pleased to have a reason to call attention to the Sheffield Tape Archive, an absolutely unbeatable resource helping to preserve an essential part of our collective musical heritage. As they describe it, the archive’s purpose is to house “a series of archive recordings from around 1980 onwards: sheffield bands, demos, concerts and rarities.”

One of the more intriguing acts featured in the Sheffield Tape Archive existed only very briefly, never put out an album, and their only live dates were before 1980. They were called Molodoy, and they had a terrific gimmick: The entire band was an extended homage to the joint artistic labors of Anthony Burgess and Stanley Kubrick, the latter of course having most memorably adapted the former’s unsettling bestseller A Clockwork Orange. Not much is known about this band today, but I’m willing to bet that one rejected name for the band was Alex and the Droogs.

The group’s singer, Garry Warburton, unmistakably played the role of Alex, complete with facepaint incorporating the book’s signature gear/eye motif (as you can see above) that also references the extravagant eyelash makeup worn by Malcolm McDowell in the movie.
 

 
The name, Molodoy, comes from the book, which is told in an invention of Burgess’ called “Nadsat,” a type of youth slang that is replete with Russian-derived colloquialisms—the best-known term is “horrorshow,” which is a reformulation of khorosho, the Russian word for “good.” The term molodoy, meaning “young,” pops up early in Burgess’ novel:
 

I nudged him hard, saying: “Come, my gloopy bastard as thou art. Think thou not on them. There’ll be life like down here most likely, with some getting knifed and others doing the knifing. And now, with the nochy still molodoy, let us be on our way, O my brothers.”

 
Molodoy unfortunately didn’t leave much trace behind. I was able to find an account of a Cabaret Voltaire gig at Sheffield’s Limit Club from the summer of 1978 at which Molodoy also played. The writer, whose name I was not able to ascertain, seems to have found them more than a little intimidating:
 

Molodoy follow. This is the band the skinheads have come to see. The singer is dressed in full Clockwork Orange droog uniform: black bowler hat, eye make-up, white shirt and trousers, black boots and braces. Real horrowshow.

“This one’s called ‘Children Of The Third Reich’”.

The lyrics flirt with fascism. The music is taut, dense and sexless. He’s watchable in a detestable kind of way. The skins push each other around, there is argy, but thankfully no bargy. The rest of us look on, mute. We are either young, liberal-minded types who think everyone is entitled to their own point of view, or we are collectively shit scared of getting a 14 eye oxblood Dr. Martens boot to the head. Molodoy continue to thrash and thrum, we the audience opt to keep schtum.

 
To perform in a rock group dressed as a Droog in 70s Britain was to, obviously, assume the mantle not just of “ultra-violence,” but of sexual violence as well. After Fleet Street blamed the film for inspiring a gang rape in which the attackers sang “Singin’ in the Rain” as “Singin’ in the Rape” and A Clockwork Orange was linked to several sensational murders, Kubrick’s film was withdrawn from distribution in 1973 at the director’s request. No wonder the bootboys came out in force for Molodoy.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Revealed: David Gilmour, Mark Knopfler, Lemmy can’t play without the little diagrams with the dots!
03.23.2017
11:32 am

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Music
Television

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In 1991 the British comedy program French and Saunders showed an amusing sketch that involved several prominent British rock musicians, including David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, and Lemmy of Motörhead.

It’s a simple and repetitive premise, but it works wonderfully. Most of the sketch is a dream sequence, imagining a court case (being England, that means wigs!) against the publisher of a book of “easy” guitar guidance that doesn’t even include the little diagrams with the dots to tell you where on the fretboard to place your fingers!

The prosecution calls to the witness stand several luminaries of rock, the three gentlemen mentioned above plus Level 42 bassist Mark King and former Thin Lizzy axe-slinger Gary Moore—all of whom freely testify that they can’t read music and can’t really play any notation that lacks the little finger-placement diagrams. Each of the five witnesses struts to the witness stand in the act of playing a signature tune—”Money for Nothing,” “Ace of Spades,” “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2”—only to produce atonal garbage as soon as the offending diagram-less primer is placed in front of them.

See the sketch after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Steady Diet of Something’: Cooking oatmeal and spicy Pop Tarts with Fugazi
03.23.2017
10:06 am

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Food
Music

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The Fall 1989 issue of Flipside had features on Pixies and an obscure bunch of weirdos from Seattle called Nirvana, but it was another new combo called Fugazi that scored the cover, with just two EPs on Dischord and a release on the Sub Pop Singles Club to its name. Of course Fugazi started out with an impeccable pedigree: Ian MacKaye, the closest thing to the founder of the straight-edge movement you could name, combining forces with Guy Picciotto and Joe Canty from Rites of Spring.

Fugazi’s feature from that issue of Flipside featured five handwritten recipes from Ian, Guy, Brendan, and Joe, for oatmeal, pasta sauce, “dinner beans,” “spicy Pop Tarts,” and, for the closer, tea. If you think about it, recipes are very DIY, which maybe explains why the members of Fugazi so readily excelled at the art of recipe construction. 
 

 
The recipes are real recipes, but there’s a good deal of humor in there as well. Ian’s recipe for tea is an extended riff on being so busy that he keeps forgetting to turn off the boiling water, and when the tea is finally ready, forgetting to drink it. In his oatmeal recipe he strikes a similar note when he forgets to return to the pot once the water is boiling. The guys seldom use a proper measurement—this is fuel, not cuisine, and also not an exact science. (Brendan’s recipe for spicy Pop Tarts is just pure fun, though.)
 

 

 
Guy’s recipe makes a reference to vegetarianism, and in case you’re wondering, yeah, the whole band is vegetarian, a tough trick to pull off when you are touring the United States of America as relentlessly as Fugazi did. In a way it must have reinforced the band’s DIY instincts—if you can’t rely on Arby’s to make you a veggie burger—and you can’t—then you “fill up a cooler with decent food from grocery stores and simply picnic in their van,” as Michael Azerrad put it in Our Band Could Be Your Life.

MacKaye is somewhat famously vegan, although less vocal about it than, say, Morrissey. In 2010 MacKaye said, “Our society is centered around meat consumption, and our society fucking sucks.”

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Who were Simon Dupree and the Big Sound? (And why you should care)
03.22.2017
02:39 pm

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Music

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I have been madly in love with a song called “Kites” by Simon Dupree and the Big Sound for… well for longer than I care to admit to in public. I discovered it in the mid-80s on a 45rpm single and long assumed that the group was a one-hit wonder of the psychedelic era—if that. But that was during the pre-Internet years before I could have just googled their name and known then what I only figured out over the weekend…

“Kites,” written by Hal Hackady and Lee Pockriss, is a gorgeous, soaring ballad that uses unusual instrumentation for a pop song—vibes, a gong, a wind machine, plus an early use of the mellotron—and the recited “sweet nothings” whispers of a woman speaking in Chinese. The lyrics are as romantic as anything Scott Walker ever came up with and are belted out by a truly powerful and fantastic voice:

I will fly a yellow paper sun in your sky
When the wind is high,
When the wind is high

I will float a silver solid moon through your window
If your night is dark,
If your night is dark

In letters of gold on a snow white kite, I will write “I love you!”
And send it soaring high above you
For all to read

I will scatter rice paper stars in your heaven
If there are no stars,
If there are no stars

All of these and seven wonders more will I find
When the wind is high,
When the wind is high

The group apparently hated the song—which got to #8 on the British pop charts—but their label and manager insisted on it. They considered themselves a sweaty rock and roll band, to them this lovey-dovey psychedelic balladeering was, as one of them would later call it “utter shit.” But this unwanted hit would soon catapult them into the spotlight as they went from playing clubs to package tours and TV shows with the likes of the Walker Brothers, Jimi Hendrix, Gene Pitney and the Beach Boys.

But here’s the big thing I didn’t know about Simon Dupree and the Big Sound…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The punk rock portraits of the Screamers’ Tomata du Plenty
03.22.2017
02:37 pm

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Art
Music
Punk

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The Screamers were one of the essential components of the L.A. punk scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s, although they famously never put out a studio LP. They had one of the best band logos in the world, designed by comix artist Gary Panter of Jimbo renown.

The Screamers had plenty of prominent fans, one of whom was DEVO’s Gerard Casale, who testified as follows in Marc Spitz and Brendan Mullen’s We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk:
 

DEVO loved the Screamers. We thought the Screamers and Tomata du Plenty were fucking unbelievable. You see a band that you’re creatively and intellectually inspired by and envious of and we were like, “Why didn’t we think of it?” They were so way ahead of their time. It was almost as if what they were thinking about, what they were after was like “Firestarter” by Prodigy, but this was the summer of ‘77. They were using rudimentary synths and sequencers but with punk energy and aggressive lyrics and theatrical staging with German expressionist lighting.

 
A frontman is an important element of any successful band, and the Screamers’ Tomata du Plenty (real name David Xavier Harrigan) was no exception. Their live act must have been something to behold, as Steve Waksman relates in This Ain’t the Summer of Love:
 

[The Screamers] styled one of the most unusual and unnerving band sounds of the punk era based around [Tommy] Gear’s synthesizer, drummer K.K. Barrett’s strong quasi-mechanical rhythms, and the psychodramatic performance style of singer Du Plenty, the total effect of which was designed to foster and control levels of anxiety experienced by the audience.

 
Tomata had been banging around the Seattle scene in the early 1970s before relocating to L.A. After the Screamers broke up in 1981, he switched his attention to painting. Indeed, in 1983 Tomata’s watercolors were featured at a show at the Zero One Gallery (often styled “01”) in Los Angeles, a space that was the offshoot of a prior entity called Zero Zero on Cahuenga Boulevard. Tomata’s painting prowess somehow became the centerpiece of a somewhat confusing anecdote told by David Lee Roth on Late Night with David Letterman in early 1985. 

Sadly, in August 2000, Tomata died of cancer at the age of 52. At some point in the 1990s he executed a series of punk rock portraits, for lack of a better description, featuring people from the L.A. punk scene as well as other rock and roll luminaries (and, randomly, the 19th-century French author Guy de Maupassant). Most of the portraits were painted on a page from some work of literature, such as Allen Ginberg’s Howl or Hubert Selby’s Last Exit to Brooklyn.
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Helmets of blood: The Lost Gospels of Al Jourgensen
03.22.2017
11:03 am

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Books
Drugs
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First of all, let’s face it, there is no way to overestimate Ministry’s influence on rock ‘n’ roll. For one brief moment in time (let’s say 1988), they were the heaviest band on the planet, and they are clearly the greatest industrial-rock band of all time (unless you include fire tricks, then obviously Rammstein). And probably the best part about it is that they’ve been shepherded for the past thirty-something years by a complete maniac.

“God, I hate that guy. And he owes me an ass-fuck.”
- Al Jourgensen on Robert Plant

Frontman/chief-strategist/visionary Al Jourgensen started Ministry in Chicago in 1981. Originally they were a soppy synth-pop band (see 1983’s With Sympathy album, still a dancefloor fave among less sociopathic new-wavers), but as the 80s wore on, the drugs and the guitars and the psychiatric disorders took hold and by 1987’s Land of Rape and Honey album, the sound and vision had evolved into an ear-bleeding digital acid-metal nightmare. Shows became war zones. The band ushered in the 90s with hardcore sex and violence and enough Marshall stacks to topple the New World Order. Throughout it all, Jourgensen crawled through the muck of his own tortured psyche, drowning his psychosis with more psychosis in an endless orgy of sex, drugs and debauchery. And in 2013, he spilled the beans in a tell-all autobio, The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen,  that would swear even the most hardened drug enthusiast into a life of quiet sobriety. I mean, this is how the goddamn book starts:

“All that came out of me was blood, and there was so much pouring out of my dick and asshole that I started to panic. I didn’t want the toilet to overflow, so I took off the helmet, held it to my ass, and let the blood pour in there. I fell off the toilet and I tried to put the helmet back on, and about twelve ounces of blood matted down my hair and ran down my face, pooling with the blood that was dribbling out of my face and nose.”

 

A Young Al Jourgensen (with Stephen “Stevo” George) in his pre-pissing blood pretty boy days
 
Given that audacious opener, you may be expecting a redemption story. Well, he eventually gets his teeth fixed, but that’s about it. Mostly it’s just full-tilt gonzo, all the time. Just ask Butthole Surfers’ megaphone abuser Gibby Haynes, who is no stranger to bad craziness himself. Touring with Ministry was heavy even for him.

“I had never really done that, where it was girls, hotel rooms, girls, blowjobs. There were so many girls and so many drugs, so much nudity. I was lying on the floor, and Al glanced over at me and went, ‘Nice cock, Haynes.’ I was like, ‘Aw man, no one’s ever told me that before.’ That’s so sweet. It might not be true, but it’s nice to hear.”

Hayne is not exaggerating, either. There’s an incredible amount of really weird, gross group sex on display in this book, most of it involving Jourgensen, it being his autobiography and all.

“One night I fucked a paraplegic chick in a wheelchair. I think she had Parkinson’s. So she’s blowing a guy in our crew and I’m fucking her. She’s wearing a colostomy bag, and I was naturally curious. I stopped fucking her for a second and I started squeezing the bag back into her.”

And as soon as the fucking is over, the drugs, booze, paranoia and craziness starts back up. And it’s not just Jourgensen. Most of his cohorts are just as nuts. Here’s a snapshot from the book of life with Pigface/Ministry singer Chris Connolly:

“One day Chris comes running over, sweating and all freaked out, saying skinheads attacked him. I grabbed some pepper spray and a baseball bat; I didn’t have a gun back then. I go running outside to confront these skinheads who harassed my new vocalist. It was two ten-year-olds on their bikes. I asked him, ‘is that what harassed you?’ And he said yeah. I was like, “They’re ten-year-olds with tennis rackets. I don’t waste pepper spray on ten-year-olds.”

 

El Duce, only just slightly more epically fucked than the guy from Ministry
 
He also spent more time with Mentors’ frontman El Duce than anybody in their right mind would.

“A couple of times he passed out in the aisle of the drugstore after stealing mouthwash. They’d arrest him and then we’d have to bail him out for being drunk in Walgreens. You can’t tell me that’s not cool, man.”

S’pose not!
 

What does this man have in common with Al Jourgensen? It might not be the first thing that comes to mind…

More after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
‘I’d Kill for Her’: New music and video from The Black Angels
03.22.2017
09:00 am

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Music

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Austin, TX’s Black Angels have risen to join psychedelia’s premier standard bearers in the decade or so since they found their way onto the world’s radar after the release of their first LP Passover. On that debut, they emerged damn near fully-formed, proffering a pastiche of riveting Spacemen 3 drones, stoneriffic Sabbathy heaviness, and an entrancing darkness worthy of the Velvet Underground song from which they purloined their name. But though they’ve released four albums (with #5 on the way), their reputation was built as a live act, thanks to utterly immersive performances of practically cinematic hugeness. This made them naturals to serve as backup musicians for their fellow Austinite Roky Erickson when he returned to the stage in 2008 to perform 13th Floor Elevators songs for the first time in decades, a meeting of the minds documented on the DVD Night of the Vampire. They’ve taken on a curatorial bent, as well—band members Christian Bland and Alex Maas are principals in Austin’s annual Levitation Festival (previously known as Austin Psych Fest), which has been a destination for fans of stoner, psych, shoegaze, and related musics since 2008.

By titling their forthcoming fifth album Death Song, the Black Angels have rather cheekily completed the loop on the V.U. joke they undertook when they formed, and the album seems to split the difference between their first two records relentless droneyness and their subsequent exploration of shorter, hookier songs, opening with the hypnotic lament “Currency,” a meditation on the role of money in our culture and our lives. Singer Maas took some time to discuss that subject with Dangerous Minds.

It’s something that’s been bothering me for a long time, the way the whole monetary system is smoke and mirrors, this kind of mirage, an illusion between the Fed, the Treasury, and us. I’ve always been confused by how that system actually works.

The song is kind of a reaction to what’s happening in the world—but that’s all art, isn’t it? Not to say that art is political in itself, but if you’re going to say anything it might as well be important to you. There are threads on the record that go through every song, and we’re inspired to write music by the unknown, and fears about where the world might be headed, that’s kind of a golden thread through all our work. You can tie money and greed into a lot of the songs that we wrote on this record, and we’ve touched on that before.

America is obviously a toxic place to live in right now, and I think the new record speaks to that toxicity, the greed, and the illusion that people in power have any interest in what’s best for the world.

 
Much more after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘Love Story’: Definitive doc on the great Arthur Lee and Love
03.21.2017
01:27 pm

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Movies
Music

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It seems that Love is in the air…. Just a few days ago we featured a swell duvet cover featuring the cover art of Forever Changes as the prevailing design.

Love was perfectly primed to become an object of cult adoration. They were an interracial band that was smack in the middle of a very fertile California music scene in the 1960s. The quality of their output was very high, and reflected a very important transition in the maturation of the rock scene as a whole. Love’s “classic” line-up didn’t last long. They were a hard-luck band with more than its share of uncommonly punitive arrests and premature deaths. On top of all that, Love did produce the one clear masterpiece, the aforementioned Forever Changes that is today widely regarded to be one of the greatest albums ever recorded.
 

 
The documentary Love Story was released just after frontman Arthur Lee’s death from leukemia in 2006. While it is properly adulatory, directors Chris Hall and Mike Kerry largely manage to keep the distorting effect of sadness and grief out of it, presumably because much of the footage was filmed before the deaths of Lee as well as the (unrelated) 1998 deaths of Ken Forssi and Bryan Maclean.

Feel the Love after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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