Happy birthday Nina Hagen!
07:04 am


Nina Hagen

Today we celebrate the 59th birthday of that great German singer Nina Hagen. Her cartoon-punkette-channeling-Marlene-Dietrich persona and the sort of high-bombast singing at which Germans seem to excel made her known in the English-speaking world for 1980s albums like the excellent NunSexMonkRock, Fearless and In Ekstase, but she was already known in her home of East Germany for tamer stuff. I can do no better at describing her early years—and the amazing story of how she got out of the GDR—than this DM post from 2011.

Since her ‘80s flirtation with English-language LPs, Hagen has made music primarily for European audiences. Here she is in a rare duet with that other incontestably Teutonic entertainer, Heino, performing a send-up of “Hi Lili, Hi Lo” from the 1953 Leslie Caron film Lili

WHY haven’t those two made albums together? I could listen to that. All. Day. Long.

Hagen remains 100% active, and it might surprise some readers to know that her last two albums have been gospel-tinged. She underwent a Protestant baptism in 2009, which informed Personal Jesus (yes, it includes a cover of the Depeche Mode song) and 2011s Volksbeat. Both are available for streaming.

We’ll end this birthday tribute to an admirably durable artist with an interesting A/B of her early and later years, via these two Rockpalast appearances, shot 21 years apart.

Nina Hagen Band, Rockpalast, 1978

Nina Hagen, Rockpalast, 1999

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
King Crimson: Incredibly heavy, yet somehow still gravity-defying live set from 1974
02:11 pm


King Crimson
Robert Fripp
prog rock

As there is precious little live footage of the pre-80s incarnations of King Crimson—Beat Club, the poor quality fragment from Hyde Park in 1969 and the Central Park 1974 clip, not much—this extended 29-minute set from France’s Melody television show is a treasure (even with all of those goofy video effects, in fact, I think they enhance it nicely).

The line-up is Bill Bruford, John Wetton, David Cross and Robert Fripp.

1 - Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part II
2 - The Night Watch
3 - Lament
4 - Starless

Larks’ Tongues here is frighteningly good.

The quality is great, but it’s even better on the deluxe 40th Anniversary Series edition of Red that came out in 2009. That release, with Steve Wilson’s insane 5.1 surround mix of the album (done with Robert Fripp’s participation), sounds like a jet plane lifting off inside your living room skull. Red happens to be one of the heaviest rock albums of all time. Crank it up loud enough and the sonic power of that album can blow you away like a feather in the wind. Most King Crimson albums I find to be a bit spotty (some of them are really spotty, in fact) but when they lock into a serious groove, like on Red’s unfuckingbelievable title cut, well it’s awe-inspiring.

If you haven’t heard the Steve Wilson 5.1 surround treatment of the classic King Crimson albums and you’ve got a 5.1 set up for TV and gaming, they are simply superb. I recommend starting with the first King Crimson album, In the Court of the Crimson King, because it’s a great—indeed the perfect—place to start anyway, plus Wilson did such a crazy good job with it. Ditto with Lizard. Hell, I never even liked that album, but in Wilson’s mix the “rock band as symphony” aspect of the work is teased out nicely and envelops you like you’re standing inside of a large (and especially complex) audio equivalent of an Alexander Calder mobile.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Stand by your JAMs: The KLF take Tammy Wynette to Mu-Mu Land
01:01 pm


Tammy Wynette

The KLF were one of the more inventive techno outfits of the late 80s/early 90s. They referenced Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus! trilogy and Doctor Who a lot; they fired guns (blanks) over an audience full of music industry bigwigs and deposited a dead sheep at the entrance to the after party; they burned a million pounds in public; and so on. They occasionally dressed up like ice cream cones.
The KLF & Tammy Wynette
The KLF dressed as ice cream cones with Tammy Wynette
One of the KLF’s biggest hits came in 1991 with “Ancient and Justified (Stand By The JAMs)” for which they recruited country music superstar Tammy Wynette. The song was another reference to Illuminatus!, which features a clandestine group called “The Justified Ancients of Mummu,” a name they also adopted for themselves; it hit #2 on the U.K. charts, making it as close as the pranksters would ever come to topping the pop charts.

According to Jimmy McDonough’s Tammy Wynette: Tragic Country Queen, the collaboration brought its share of difficulties:

In September 1991, Tammy was the beneficiary of extraordinary good luck: an international pop hit that dropped into her lap from out of nowhere. The gift came by way of UK musicians Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, aka the KLF, a crackpot outfit known for dance hits and absurdist antics.

In early summer of that year, the duo were in a London studio trying to revive a track that had been kicking around in one form or another since a fragment appeared on their 1987 debut album in a song entitled “Hey, Hey We Are Not the Monkees.” Cauty wanted to replace the singer, randomly suggesting Tammy Wynette. Drummond, a fan of not only country but of Wynette, got on the phone and a week later was being picked up at the Nashville airport by none other than George Richey. “Driving a powder blue Jag,” Richey, recovering from open-heart surgery, sported “snakeskin boots, fresh-pressed jeans, a wet-look perm,” wrote Drummond. “I liked him.”

Bill met his idol back at First Lady Acres as he stepped into the First Lady’s pink beauty parlor. “Her fingers were being manicured by a young man as a woman teased her hair into some feathered concoction. Her free hand was flicking through the pages of Vogue.” Tammy had a question for her new friend. “‘Bill, you’re from Scotland? Can you tell me why I have such a large lesbian following there?’ I had no answer, but promised to look into it.”

Drummond was well aware of the inescapable pitfalls of the Tammy Wynette-KLF collision, which by its very nature was, as he described, “an evil and corrupt exchange … the young artist wanting to tap into the mythical status and credibility of the has-been, the has-been wanting some of that ‘I’m still contemporary, relevant, will do anything to get back into the charts’ stuff.” But that didn’t stop Bill from playing the number for Tammy on her white grand piano. Wynette gamely warbled along. “She couldn’t find the key, let alone get it in pitch,” worried Drummond.

Into a local studio they went later that night, Tammy attempting to lay down a vocal on a thunderous dance track that certainly featured no down-home fiddle (although there was steel guitar buried in the murk, along with a Jimi Hendrix riff), not to mention nonsensical lyrics about a place called Mu-Mu Land which contained the couplet: “They’re justified and ancient / and they drive an ice cream van.”

About as far out of her element as Mu-Mu Land was from Music City, Tammy was hopelessly adrift in this electronica wasteland. “She could not keep time with the track for more than four bars before speeding up or slowing down,” said Drummond. Richey entered the booth and attempted to coach her. “A complete disaster” was Bill’s pained appraisal. “How do you tell the voice you have worshipped for the past twenty years, one of the greatest singing voids of the twentieth century, a voice that defines a whole epoch of American culture, that it sounds like shit?”

Drummond whisked the track back to London and dumped the bad news on his partner, Jimmy. Cauty told him to relax—the latest digital technology they’d just purchased would allow them to take Tammy’s words and “stretch them, squeeze them, get them all in time.”

The spectacular, no expense spared promo video. Imagine such a anarchistic act as the KLF getting this kind of bread to make a video today…

Here’s the KLF and (via video linkup) Tammy Wynette on Top of the Pops. In a lower-third it’s explained that Drummond had declared the following Tuesday to be “No Music Day” so that you would be encouraged to reflect on just what it is you want from your music. (For their part, TOTP turned it into a John Cage joke.)

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
PJ Harvey: Stunning live set from Benicassim Festival 2001
04:19 pm


PJ Harvey

PJ Harvey showcased a selection of songs from her album Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, along with some of her best known numbers, at the Benicassim Festival, Spain, in August 2001.

Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea won Harvey her first Mercury Award (her second was for Let England Shake in 2011), she is the only artist (so far) to have won the prize twice, and deservedly so—unlike some of the other winners….

Set List

01. “One Line”
02. “The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore”
03. “Good Fortune”
04. “Man-Size”
05. “Rid of Me”
06. “Down by the Water”
07. “Big Exit”

Most recently, Ms. Harvey has been reading poetry at the British Library, and editing the BBC morning news show Today, but watching her performance at Benicassim makes me realize how quiet it’s been without PJ Harvey’s musical brilliance.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Planning a Tom Waits-themed vacation? You’re gonna need a map!
02:07 pm


Tom Waits

As a committed modern troubadour, Tom Waits has always used a lot of locations in his songwriting, but I wasn’t aware of just how many until I saw this map that some brilliant, wonderful person has painstakingly curated. Supposedly, it contains every location Tom Waits has ever sang (or narrated) about. As a Tom Waits completest who will always defend him, even when he’s blatantly imitating Captain Beefheart, I have been wracking my brain trying to find something they missed, but to no avail… yet.
Tom Waits Map
However, as a Hoosier, I checked immediately to see if they got all the Indiana locations. Not only is my state accurately documented, they kept the misspelling from the album book. The song “First Kiss,” contains the line, “And when she got good and drunk, she would sing about Elkheart, Indiana, where the wind is strong, and folks mind their own business.” (It’s actually spelled “Elkhart.”)

Let’s take it home with, “I Wish I was in New Orleans,” live from Paris, 1979, shall we?

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
Foreigner: Fed up with all the ‘bland’ music everywhere, 1980
01:12 pm



Recently I was researching something on the Rolling Stone DVD-ROM set (which I highly recommend: you can get it for just $11 used, and the one I received came with a free voucher for a year’s worth of RS that they recognized as valid), and I came across a headline that was too juicy to pass up.

It comes from the October 2, 1980, issue, and the byline (not visible) is Kurt Loder. Frankly, I think ol’ Kurt knew he was onto something good when he submitted this article. Here it is:
The thrust of the story is that Foreigner was just coming off a massively successful album, 1979’s Head Games, and was promising fans that their next album would be something special indeed. (To be fair, they lived up to that promise: 4, which was released in July 1981, is one of their best albums and was #1 for 10 weeks in the U.S.)

Just for fun, and I know this is totally 20/20 hindsight (I was 10 years old in 1980, and it’s safe to say I didn’t know about any of these releases), here’s a little list of albums that came out between January 1 and September 30, 1980:

AC/DC, Back In Black
Alice Cooper, Flush The Fashion
Bob Dylan, Saved
Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, Doc at the Radar Station
Cars, Panorama
Chic, Real People
Cure, Seventeen Seconds
David Bowie, Scary Monsters
Electric Light Orchestra, Xanadu
Elvis Costello, Get Happy!!
English Beat, I Just Can’t Stop It
Feelies, Crazy Rhythms
Joy Division, Closer
Lou Reed, Growing Up In Public
Paul McCartney, McCartney II
Pete Townshend, Empty Glass
Peter Gabriel, s/t (“Melt”)
Queen, The Game
Ramones, End Of The Century
Rolling Stones, Emotional Rescue
Roxy Music, Flesh + Blood
The Angry Samoans, Inside My Brain
The B-52’s, Wild Planet
The Psychedelic Furs, s/t
The Selecter, Too Much Pressure
Tom Waits, Heartattack And Vine
Undertones, Hypnotised
X, Los Angeles

Sure, not all of these albums are good—Saved is atrocious—and it’s hardly fair to point to Pete Townshend or Paul McCartney and insist on the vitality of the music scene. But on the other hand, there are also vital acts of the moment, like the Clash and Gang of Four and The Jam, who happened not to have a major release fall within my dates and are thus not even listed here.

A musician friend of mine suspects that Mick Jones wasn’t being an idiot when he said this; he knew perfectly well what Foreigner’s place in the musical ecosystem was—what else was he gonna say, confronted with Kurt Loder’s grubby mitts clutching a pen and paper? Foreigner may not have been exciting, but they did serve their fans honorably.

I’m going to go out on a limb and prolcaim this the first time that Foreigner’s ever been embedded in a DM page. Anyway, here they are, absolutely killing “Urgent” in Germany, 1982:

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
R.E.M.’s Mike Mills on ‘Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee’

Mike Mills
This happened: while the pioneering band R.E.M. were transitioning from weird-people fame to normal-people fame, their bass player Mike Mills was booked to appear on Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee. Hosted by former Joey Bishop second-banana Regis Philbin before he morphed into his final form as the launching pad of a billion “Is that your final answer?” jokes and sidekicked by Kathie Lee Gifford, a woman so oppressively chipper she became a national punchline in her own right, Live! was a daytime talk show geared toward the dwindling sedentary-housewives-at-home-all-day demographic.

R.E.M., at the time, had leveled up from college-radio darlings to for-real arena rock stars, thanks to the albums Green and Out of Time and the improbable global success of the single “Losing My Religion.” (I worked at a record store at the time, and I once retrieved a copy of R.E.M.’s full-length debut Murmur for a yuppie who asked if we had “their first album.” He was baffled—he wanted Green, and had no idea the band had been releasing music for ten years. Among normals, he was far from alone.) But their newfound popularity aside, even in the wake of the Nevermind deluge, there was a real frisson to a band known for moody music and challenging, cerebral lyrics (snobs: feel free to nerdfight about “Shiny Happy People”) to make inroads to the gleeful wide-eyed vapidity of daytime talk.

This is messed up: I actually saw this when it was broadcast. I have no idea what I was doing at home during the day in February of 1992. I have no idea what class I was blowing off. I have no idea why the TV was even on at all, let alone why it was on the channel that broadcast Live! of all things, but there it was. Odds are good I was baked. And I when I caught the words “R.E.M.” and “Mike Mills” coming out of the mouth of Regis fucking Philbin, I was transfixed. Mills has always seemed a good-natured guy, so he responded with aw-shucks aplomb to the banal interview questions—seriously, high school newspapers ask bands how they got their names, so it’s a shame Mills couldn’t inform them that the band had previously been called “Cans of Piss.” But then, surely in defiance of some publicist’s grave warning of certain doom, Mills does a marvelous acoustic rendition of “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville,” a song from their second LP Reckoning, which was eight years old at the time. Surely a small army of American homemakers dropped their cheesecake and drove straight to the mall to buy it. Right?

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The Ramones on ‘Regis and Kathie Lee’

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
‘Breakin’ New York Style’ instructional video supplies the ultimate Reagan-era workout
01:48 pm



I love everything about this video. The crude beats, the graffiti visual style, the simple instructional raps…. If you can do all of the moves they demonstrate, you are either in peak physical condition or well on the way to it. Just watching it wears me out!
Breakin' New York Style
Your sherpa in Breakin’ New York Style, which was released in 1984, is one “Lori Eastside,” who is best known for playing “Nada” in Allan Arkush’s remarkable and hectic 1983 satire Get Crazy. She has since transitioned into the fine art of casting; she assisted with the casting of The Wrestler, the Karate Kid remake, The Reader, and many others. But back in the day, she could throw down some beats and do a cartwheel that would kick your ass.

Here’s a supplemental guide to breakdancing that’s unrelated to Breakin’ New York Style (as far as I know). You can use it to sharpen your moves or brush up on your breakin’ lingo, such as “Juice,” which denotes “what you got when you’re a VIP—and that’s clout, the privileges, the status!”
Breakdance moves
(full size)
Watching this video is a welcome trip down memory lane, but it’s also a reminder why breakdancing didn’t really last: you have to be in tip-top shape to even think about doing it!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
Shake your booty to a musical track built around Jeff Goldblum’s weird laugh
11:49 am


Jurassic Park
Jeff Goldblum

Jeff Goldblum
For decades now, Jeff Goldblum has been one of our most interesting leading men—wait a minute, leading man? Is he a leading man? Is he a character actor? Both? Well, whatever the fuck he is, he was perfectly cast in The Fly and his acting choices and line readings are always worth a gander, akin to being the thinking person’s Nicolas Cage (if not vice versa).

His status as “blockbuster helper” was solidified in the mid-1990s when he appeared in two of that decade’s highest-grossing movies, 1993’s Jurassic Park and 1996’s Independence Day. Goldblum’s signature moment came in the former movie when his character, Dr. Ian Malcolm, asks Drs. Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler (Sam Neill and Laura Dern) whether they “dig up dinosaurs.” Receiving a tittering non-reply, Malcolm engages in a “knowing” laugh, which has a kitten’s aggressive purr mixed in, for no good reason other than to emphasize his unsavory and unctuous role as the movie’s reality principle (“Life, uh… finds a way”).

Some genius going by the name FLIPSH0T (actually Mikey Diserio of Melbourne, Australia) has put together a track with the completely apt and memorable title of “Hahahrawrrahaha.” FLIPSH0T took that ridiculous burst of incomprehensible bonhomie and generated a pretty sultry dance beat around it.

As far as the video below goes, please do NOT watch it all the way through—Jeff Goldblum laughing in a loop for 10 minutes has been clinically proven to induce diarrhea, schizophrenia, pleurisy, rickets, phlebitis, scurvy, and gout. You have been warned!

via Internet Magic

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
Watch ‘Roadie,’ 1980 movie about rock’s hardy stevedores, with Meat Loaf, Blondie, & Alice Cooper
09:45 am



Alan Rudolph’s career is a bit of a puzzlement. Once a protégé of Robert Altman, Rudolph in his own movies seldom managed to master Altman’s art of turning a seemingly chaotic melange of overlapping dialogue into a pleasing whole. His first movie, Welcome to LA (1976), was a kind of downbeat version of Nashville, only lacking the focus Altman was able to achieve. Roadie came soon after, and it blends the music-centric perspective of Welcome to LA with something a lot like The Blues Brothers, Smokey and the Bandit, Car Wash, et al.

Roadie is intermittently an exasperating hubbub but is ultimately a pretty entertaining flick. Rudolph and co. (one of the writers is Zalman King, né Lefkowitz, who would later bring you the soft-core classics Wild Orchid and Red Shoe Diaries) were fortunate indeed to have Meat Loaf in the title role—Roger Ebert thought they should have let him loose more often, but “Mr. Loaf,” as The New York Times once memorably called him, is still a pleasing cinematic presence even in repose.
Mr. Loaf plays the part of Travis W. Redfish, a small-town trucker/inventor whose life is changed by the happenstance breakdown of the truck conveying shifty manager Ace (Joe Spano) and virginal groupie (you read that right) Lola Bouillabaisse to Austin for a must-see gig by Hank Williams, Jr. With his handy inventor’s know-how, Travis (now smitten with Lola, whose stated goal in the movie is to meet Alice Cooper) repairs the van and joins the merry, coked-up band for the rest of the tour, which will later meet up with Cooper, Blondie, Roy Orbison, and multiple Grammy winners Asleep at the Wheel.

The musical selections are memorable indeed. Hank Jr. plays his then-recent hit “Outlaw Women,” Orbison gives “The Eyes of Texas” a whirl, and Blondie gamely covers Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” complete with cowboy hats and Clem Burke’s DayGlo neckwear. (I didn’t know that Blondie ever played that song; turns out, the Roadie version is included on the 2001 reissue of their sublime 1979 album Eat to the Beat.) We also get a little bit of Alice doing “Only Women Bleed” and “Road Rats” as well as a larger chunk of “Pain.”

Speaking of the Blues Brothers, no sooner had I formulated that comparison in my mind than—there they are!—Jake and Elwood (not played by John and Dan, tho’) sneaking around a hotel just before some plot nonsense in which cocaine gets mixed up with a package of Tide detergent. Blondie also gets into a huge brawl with a septet of interracial midgets, the backup “dwarves” to the presumed main attraction, “Snow White.”

The YouTube video has French subtitles, which are mildly annoying, although it’s a positive boon when a line like “That’s right, honey—I’m jailbait!” gets rendered as “Exactement, cheri. Je suis mineure.” Art Carney is wasted as Travis’ pop at home, and Ebert’s right that the movie really should have put more focus on the music (complete performances, perhaps?) but what’s there is still an enjoyable mess.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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