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‘Tommy’ wasn’t the first rock opera: The Pretty Things’ lost psychedelic masterpiece ‘S.F. Sorrow’
04.21.2016
01:33 pm

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Music

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The Pretty Things started as blues-rock band in the early 1960s, and they’re often described as being “meaner, louder, uglier and with longer hair” than the Rolling Stones. (Pretty Things guitarist Dick Taylor originally played bass in the fledgling Stones). Their gritty, primitive R&B sound was heavily influenced by Bo Diddley’s beat.

With their fourth album, S.F. Sorrow, the Pretty Things decided to shake it up a bit and create a psychedelic rock opera that some regard as a “lost”—or at least unfairly underappreciated—mini masterpiece (I am one of them). It’s held in the same high regard as another “lost” 60s classic, Odessey and Oracle by the Zombies. In fact, S.F. Sorrow was the actually the very first rock opera, not Tommy. Although Pete Townshend has pointedly denied that S.F. Sorrow was an influence on Tommy, this seems unlikely to me at best: They were of the same small London scene, The Who and the Pretty Things, so the notion that Townshend was unaware of S.F. Sorrow sounds like total bullshit. It almost has to be.
 

 
S.F. Sorrow was recorded between December 1967 and September 1968 at Abbey Road Studios. The sound incorporates the sitar, Mellotron, flute, dulcimer and several tripped out sound effects. At the same time as the sessions for S.F. Sorrow, the album’s producer, Norman Smith was also working with Pink Floyd on their A Saucerful Of Secrets album and The Beatles were recording their White Album there as well. (S.F. Sorrow came out the same week as the White Album and Beggars Banquet. What a week for music.)

The opera’s libretto came in the form of liner notes that told the story of one Sebastian F. Sorrow, an ordinary fellow who works at the “Misery Factory” and is drafted into World War I. His life descends into meaninglessness after he witnesses a hot-air balloon carrying his fiance crash and burn. Along the way he has an encounter with a mysterious whip-cracking character called “Baron Saturday” who is based on the voodoo deity Baron Samedi.

Saturday “borrows his eyes” and takes Sorrow on a trippy trip through the Underworld (something that seems to mirror the Acid Queen’s unorthodox therapy to that deaf, dumb and blind kid, don’t cha think?). The opera ends on a sad note as the desolate Sorrow realizes that he can trust no one and that he will die alone.

“Death” and “Baron Saturday” on French TV, 1968

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Hiya Dogface!’: Wasted Iggy Pop goes totally off-the-rails on Australian TV, 1979
04.21.2016
12:45 pm

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Amusing
Heroes
Music

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Iggy Pop, I'm Bored, 1979
 
In honor of Iggy Pop’s 69th birthday today I thought I’d share this footage of Iggy’s very “Iggy” interview and off-the-rails lip syncing of “I’m Bored” that aired in 1979 on the Australian television show, Countdown.

The video starts with an interview with a glassy-eyed Iggy conducted by Countdown‘s host Molly Meldrum. Despite repeated requests to focus on the “questions” he was asking, Iggy jumps up and down out of his chair, sneers at the audience, and in general acts like a five-year-old version of himself because he’s plainly high as fuck. Then, in what appears to be an unplanned event, Iggy leaves the interview and is nowhere to be seen after a commercial break, which causes Meldrum to advise the audience not to worry about Iggy because he’s “fine.” Right.
 
Images from Iggy Pop's 1979 appearance on Australian show, Countdown
Iggy Pop on ‘Countdown.’
 
I was lucky enough to see Iggy’s electrifying gig a few weeks ago in Seattle for the first stop of his Post Pop Depression Tour and can say without a doubt that Iggy is still “Iggy.” He has no need for such things as shirts, loves the word “fuck,” and jumps around on stage like his pants are on fire.

Happy Birthday, Iggy! Never change!
 


Iggy Pop ‘perorms’ ‘I’m Bored’ from his ‘New Values’ album in 1979

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘Tonight in Person’: Tom Waits gets theatrical at the BBC, 1979
04.21.2016
10:28 am

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Music
Television

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On July 26, 1979, BBC2 aired an hour-long Tom Waits concert under the title Tonight in Person. The concert might be regarded as a straight taping of a live show but it also included elements that were more theatrical and seemed to be incorporated into the show as if it were an in-studio taping, a bit like when standup comedians bring in an audience for something that is understood by everyone present to be a recording of a TV special. That’s how this program feels, anyway, it doesn’t feel like a regular concert.

Some chronologies list this appearance as actually occurring on July 26 but I think that’s incorrect. If you look at a good chronology of Waits’ activities that year, it’s evident that he was touring Europe and Australia in the first part of the year and then started a U.S. tour in October, but he wasn’t playing music in front of audiences at any point in the summer. It’s hard to feature Waits flying from L.A. to London for a single show in July. I strongly suspect that he taped this show in late April, a couple of days after his appearance at the Konzerthaus in Vienna (which constituted the core of the delightful A Day in Vienna TV special, which we wrote about here). Waits played the Palladium on April 21, it seems, and probably this show was taped in there somewhere.
 

 
Waits starts things off with a track that never made it onto any of his albums called “With a Suitcase.” The song did appear in the Paradise Alley sessions of 1978, which are available on Tales from the Underground, Vol. 3. Waits sings the first verse of “With a Suitcase” and then breaks off and relates an amusing story about stumbling upon a clothing store on Beale Street in Memphis that is improbably open for business in the wee hours of the night: “You can’t get a sandwich at three o’clock in the morning but you can get a nice-looking suit.” I did some searches, and it’s possible that this was the only time he ever told that particular tall tale.

Waits sings two songs each from Foreign Affairs (“I Never Talk To Strangers” and “Burma Shave”), Small Change (“Step Right Up” and the title track), and Blue Valentine (“Red Shoes by the Drugstore” and “Kentucky Avenue”). A year later he would release Heartattack and Vine, and in fact the studio audience was treated to a preview of “On The Nickel,” which he refers to as a “hobo’s lullaby.”

Waits sings “Burma Shave” from a stage set of a typical American gas station from the 1950s—he’s pretty frisky with the words here…. the song opens with a verse that isn’t in the studio version and ends with a lengthy and touching “don’t you cry” coda that he also appended to the song when he did it on Austin City Limits in 1978. 

The last proper song Waits performs is “Small Change,” which he sings under a lamppost…. once the song is done, as if to echo the refrain “Small Change got rained on with his own thirty-eight,” a sprinkling of glitter drifts down from the rafters and Waits opens an umbrella to protect himself from the downpour. Then comes “Closing Time,” during which Waits rummages through a garbage can and pulls out a creased top hat and a gold jacket, and puts them on.

Watch the show that every Tom Waits completist has to see, after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Celebrity boozehounds hawking hooch: Dennis Hopper, Merle Haggard, Redd Foxx, Sean Connery & more
04.21.2016
09:59 am

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Advertorial
Heroes
Movies
Music

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Print ad featuring Merle Haggard (RIP) for George Dickel Whisky
Print ad featuring Merle Haggard (RIP) for George Dickel Whisky, 1986.
 
Most of the time when our favorite musicians or celebrities appear as though they have “sold-out,” we all breathe a collective sigh of sadness. Such as the time that John Lydon shilled for Country Life Butter (the proceeds from which the crafty Lydon used to fund the creation of PiL’s 2012 album, This is PiL. Take that haters!), or when a part of you died after seeing Bob Dylan in a strange television commercial for Victoria’s Secret in 2004. As was the case with Lydon, it’s not always a bad thing. I mean, even I couldn’t hate on The Cure’s “Pictures of You” (from the band’s brilliant 1989 album, Disintegration) playing in the background of a Hewlett-Packard commercial back in 2003.
 
Dennis Hopper and John Huston for Jim Beam
Dennis Hopper and John Huston for Jim Beam.
 
But back to the point of this post—if there is a more perfect pairing when it comes to commercial endorsements than badass celebrities and musicians pimping out booze, I do not know what it is. And I’m quite sure that many of these vintage ads will have you checking your watch to see if it’s already noon. However, if you’re like me and go by the guideline that it’s always noon somewhere, then congratulations! Because you’re probably on your second Bloody Mary, rationalizing that it’s okay because it’s almost a meal as long as it’s served with olives and celery. Tons of vintage ads for Jim Beam, Smirnoff, Colt 45 and other party liquids, held lovingly by folks such as Merle Haggard (pictured at the top of this post, RIP), Chuck Berry, Dennis Hopper (seen above with director John Huston), Telly Savalas, and two badass ladies—Joan Crawford and Julie Newmar—follow.
 
Julie Newmar in an ad for Smirnoff Vodka, 1966
Julie Newmar in an ad for Smirnoff Vodka, 1966.
 
More celebrity boozehounds hawking hooch (say that in a slurred voice) after the jump…

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Uncle John’s ham: The Grateful Dead’s all-meat diet
04.21.2016
09:51 am

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Drugs
Food
Music

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Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh enjoying some health food, 1966
 
You’re more likely to associate vegetarian fare like falafel, hummus and ganja goo balls with the Grateful Dead and their parking-lot partisans than bloody steaks, and for good reason. The cookbook Cooking with the Dead collects “over 65 fabulous kynd [sic] and caring vegetarian recipes prepared with love” that Deadheads came up with to feed themselves and make money on the road. They took that “are you kind?” thing to heart.

But Owsley “Bear” Stanley, the Dead’s visionary soundman and the West Coast’s industrious LSD manufacturer, had some peculiar ideas about nutrition that might not have been welcome in the latter-day Deadheads’ tailgate scene. When the Dead moved down to Los Angeles for a few months in 1966, Owsley found a cheap house for rent in Watts—probably not a hard trick so soon after the riots—where the Dead and their retinue observed Owsley’s zero-carb, zero-fiber diet. From Rolling Stone:

In February 1966, Owsley and the Dead moved to Los Angeles for another series of Acid Tests. Owsley rented a pink stucco house in Watts, next door to a brothel, where they all lived together. For the Dead, the good news was that they now had nothing to do all day but jam. The bad news was that since Owsley was paying the rent, he expected them to adhere to his unconventional ideas and beliefs. He was convinced that human beings were natural carnivores, not meant to eat vegetables or fiber. “Roughage is the worst thing you can put through your body,” he says. “Letting vegetable matter go through a carnivorous intestine scratches it up and scars it and causes mucus that interferes with nutrition.”

For the next six weeks, the Grateful Dead and their girlfriends ate meat and milk for breakfast, lunch and dinner. “I’ll never forget that when you’d open the refrigerator, there were big slabs of beef in there,” Rosie McGee, Phil Lesh’s girlfriend at the time, later told Garcia biographer Jackson. “The shelves weren’t even in there — just these big hunks of meat. So of course behind his back, people were sneaking candy bars in. There were no greens or anything — he called it ‘rabbit food.’”

 
More on the idiosyncratic carnivorous diet of the young Grateful Dead after the jump…

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‘Green Room’ is the most badass movie of 2016: Exclusive clip and free tickets
04.20.2016
01:41 pm

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Movies
Music
Punk

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Seeing a movie for the first time at a film festival can be a dicey proposition when it comes to objectivity. Particularly genre festivals like Fantastic Fest when you’ve got a theater crammed with fanboys craving to have a collective cinematic orgasm when a movie delivers a never before seen over-the-top money shot. The roar of the mouthbreathers and the smell of the crowd can fog even the sharpest of minds. Last year the Turkish film Baskin wowed Fantastic Fest attendees with a gore-slathered climax that was intended to shock, but at its best was merely repellent with its tired torture porn tropes. Worse, it was boring. And Tom Six’s odious ode to analingus The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence) was a group grope that proved that enough of a bad thing is truly enough. Thank god it wasn’t in Odorama.

Overall, Fantastic Fest is reliably consistent in its excellent programming and there were plenty of films to revive your faith in cutting-edge cinema. High Rise by Ben Wheatley, Lobster by Yorgos Lanthimos, Anders Thomas Jensen’s Men And Chicken and Matteo Garrone’s A Tale Of Tales are all being released in the next few weeks and I recommend them highly. But the movie that really knocked my socks off, Green Room, is being released on Friday in 18 cities and Dangerous Minds is giving away tickets. The movie opened last Friday in three cities and had the highest per screen gross of any film currently in theaters. This could be one of the rare authentically rock and roll movies to actually be a hit. And we want you to see it.


As I wrote in my original review of Green Room last year:

Green Room‘s plot is crazily clever: Ain’t Rights, a young punk band from the Washington D.C. area, proudly channeling their Dischord Records’ influences, land a last minute gig during a tour of the Pacific Northwest (somewhere near Portland). Booked into a rural music venue that turns out to be a gathering place for white supremacist headbangers, Ain’t Rights find themselves confronting the mosh pit from Hell. Far from the security of the suburbs where Hot Topics sell Doc Martens to fifth generation punks, Ain’t Rights are hurled into a dark reality where Ed Gein has traded in his plaid cap for a pair of red bootlaces and suspenders. Performing Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” before a mob of Hitler-worshiping fuckwads is a heroically dumb move for our band of young anarchists, but it’s just the beginning in an ever-escalating nightmare involving murder, thrash metal, heroin and a violent gang of skinheads led by the epically skin-headed Patrick Stewart.

Green Room succeeds in its mission to pin your ass to the theater seat. It combines the tightly crafted action chops of John Carpenter’s Assault On Precinct 13 with some of the psychotic mayhem of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes.  But instead of mutant cave dwellers and Leatherface, we’ve got goose-stepping skins with boxcutters and shotguns: The Rocking Dead.

For those viewers who know more than a little bit about punk culture, Green Room works so well, despite its off-the-wallness, because it feels authentic. It gets the details right. Director Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin) knows the punk scene and the vibe of his subjects because he was one of them, as evidenced by a savvy soundtrack that perfectly weds music to action. Napalm Death, Bad Brains, Misfits, Minor Threat and Slayer create the background thump and grind to a movie that is disturbing, funny and supremely badass.


So kids if you wanna see a movie that will undoubtedly be in my top ten of 2016, we’ve got tickets for you and an exclusive clip… after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Love songs: Arthur Lee and Love in electrifying, seldom-seen 1970 live footage
04.20.2016
01:24 pm

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Music

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As anyone lucky enough to have seen the late, great Arthur Lee in performance can tell you, it was a very special experience. I saw Arthur perform three times myself, including an early 90s gig at a biker bar in North Hollywood with Baby Lemonade where the electricity went out and he did a candle-lit “unplugged” set without the group. Pure magic. The entire audience was grinning from ear to ear.

The second time I saw Arthur Lee play was even more memorable. After spending 5-1/2 years in a California Federal prison, Arthur was released and in 2003 he began a tentative series of performances around Los Angeles playing Love’s classic 1967 album Forever Changes in its entirety.

When he walked onstage the night I saw him, at a packed Henry Fonda Theatre, he looked tiny, frail, old, and just scared. His clothes looked too big. Everyone was pulling for him, we all wanted this to be amazing and triumphant, but frankly it didn’t look promising. Within seconds, however, he strapped on his hollow body electric guitar, smiled broadly and became the great Arthur Lee before our very eyes. It was a magical musical event. Lee’s voice had lost none of its beauty and range; the songs none of their power. Audience members were moved to tears. It felt like a holy moment, it really did. (Of the third time, a tragically ill-fated show at UCLA in front of an audience that included some major celebrities and rock stars, the less said the better.)

But sadly, as Arthur Lee and Love fans know, there is almost no footage—as in nearly none—of the original, classic Love line-up performing. There’s an American Bandstand appearance from 1966 with a lip-sync of “My Little Red Book” and “Message to Pretty” but most television outlets had no use for a multi-racial rock group at the time. As with the Velvet Underground, Lee and Love’s most vital and creative years were almost completely undocumented on film and video. Somehow they just slipped through the cracks.

The Four Sale-era incarnation of Love with Gary Rowles, Frank Fayad and George Suranovich was shot live in Denmark in 1970. Not the same musicians, save for Lee, who recorded the classic Forever Changes album, but who’s going to complain about vintage live film footage of Arthur fucking Lee? This was aired as A Group By The Name Of Love in July of 1970. The concert footage is from a show at Tivoli Koncertsal, Copenhagen, on March 12, 1970.

A brief interview with Arthur followed by an energetic “Love is More than Words”

 
More Love after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Shame’: Just what you needed, a Christian ‘parody’ of David Bowie’s ‘Fame’
04.20.2016
01:22 pm

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Belief
Music

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The YouTube account with the handle TheParodyQueen is dedicated to Christian parodies of popular songs. As the Queen describes herself, she’s “a wacky blonde who loves writing parodies of all genres with Christian lyrics.”

In fairness, the covers aren’t bad at all and she certainly doesn’t seem very censorious or forbidding about any of it. It’s evident that the Parody Queen and her guitarist know David Bowie’s “Fame” inside and out and even seem to be grooving to it.

Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

Shame
Keeps a man from the mirror
Shame
Steals hope from tomorrow
Shame
Makes you weep and brings you sorrow
Shame
A ball and chain through your veins is entertained by bringing you ...
Pain

-snip-

Is it any wonder
It infects and hurts?
Shame
Is it any wonder
How Jesus took the curse?
Shame

 
The curious are welcome to peruse the account, which has Christian parodies of songs by Led Zeppelin, the Bee Gees, Gloria Gaynor, CCR, and so on.
 

 
via Christian Nightmares

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Cannabis’: Take a big hit of Slim Twig’s Serge Gainsbourg cover for 420 Day
04.20.2016
11:33 am

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Drugs
Movies
Music

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I’ve been fairly unabashed in my praise of Toronto-born rocker Slim Twig. Two of my very most favorite albums of the the past two years are his creative handiworks, A Hound At The Hem and its worthy follow-up Thank You For Stickin’ With Twig, both out in America on DFA Records. And so without any further preamble—you can read my past ruminations on Slim Twig here and here—it’s my great pleasure today, here on the sacred herbal holiday of 420 Day to debut this video for Mr. Twig’s slinky, smoky cover of Serge Gainsbourg’s ode to “Cannabis.”
 

Slim Twig goes casual at the bowling alley

Cannabis” comes from the soundtrack to a 1970 French film of the same name which actually stars Gainsbourg as well, portraying a hitman for the mafia who falls in love with Jane Birkin, the daughter of an ambassador. The original number was performed and written by Gainsbourg and orchestrated by his future Melody Nelson collaborator Jean-Claude Vannier. Cannabis, which was amusingly retitled French Intrigue for the puritanical US market, was uploaded in its entirety to YouTube. It’s in French, with no English subtitles, but you still get to see Serge as a gun-toting, rabbit-fur coat-wearing badass causing mayhem, smoking a lot of cigarettes and je t’aiming Jane Birkin as often as possible.

DFA have set up a special Weedtransfer site for legally purchasing “Cannabis” in digital or physical formats.

“In a scene like this, you get a contact-high!”
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Amusing manga of The Cure, Siouxsie Sioux, Marc Bolan, Hanoi Rocks & more from the 80s
04.20.2016
09:14 am

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Amusing
Art
Music

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Robert Smith of The Cure on the front cover of Japanese music magazine 8 Beat Gag, 1988
Robert Smith of The Cure on the front cover of Japanese music magazine ‘8 Beat Gag,’ 1988.
 
I’m really into these sweet manga illustrations which were published back in the 80s in a Japanese music magazine called 8 Beat Gag. Written in Japanese, most (if not all) are likely by the the rather prolific manga artist Atsuko Shima—but she wasn’t the only artist that created the cartoons that featured popular musical acts in weird situations that Japanese youth were obsessing about.

The fantastic cartoon of Finnish band Hanoi Rocks, which may have also been published in 8 Beat Gag, did show up as a surprise insert UK pressings of the band’s last record 1984’s Two Steps From the Move. Which makes me want to hunt a copy down just so I can have one of my own. When it comes to finding copies of 8 Beat Gag, good luck. As when they do pop up (which they occasionally do), they will cost you a tidy sum. The comic featuring The Cure (where Robert Smith Inexplicably morphs into some sort of goth Yeti. Because, Japan), follows in its entirety as well as a few others featuring Siouxsie Sioux going up against Girlschool in some sort of track event involving vegetables, Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, Marc Bolan, Peter Murphy, Morrissey and 80s New Wavers Ultravox.
 
A manga cartoon about The Cure from Japanese music magazine, 8 Beat Gag, 1988
A manga cartoon about The Cure from Japanese music magazine, ‘8 Beat Gag,’ 1988.
 

 

 

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
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