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Everybody—even Dick Clark—knows that the bird is the word: The Trashmen on ‘American Bandstand’
05.11.2017
09:22 am
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While it may be a stretch to say that the Trashmen invented punk rock, with 1963’s “Surfin’ Bird” they were very clearly one of the earliest bands to capture its snotty, anarchic spirit. The song has been a rallying cry for hip weirdos ever since. It was even the voice of a singing asshole in John Waters’ magnum opus Pink Flamingos. Pee-wee Herman belted it out on the soundtrack of Back to the Beach. It’s also been covered by dozens of bands, including The Ramones, the pre-Stooges Iguanas, and even German thrash metal giants Sodom. The Cramps basically owed their entire career to the song.

There is no way to sit in silence when “Surfin’ Bird” comes on the radio. You will scream along and probably flail around the room, flapping your arms like a big dumb ostrich. That song could start an all-night party at a funeral. The bird remains the word, even after all these years.
 

Pee-wee heard about the bird back in 1986

But what do we know about this mutant anthem, really? Well, for one thing, The Trashmen didn’t write “Surfin’ Bird.” It was a mash-up of two Rivingtons’ songs, 1962’s “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow” and its sound-alike follow-up, ‘63’s “Bird is the Word.” The Trashmen never even heard the original. They actually nicked it off another local Minneapolis band called The Sorensen Brothers. The Trashmen version was even louder and wilder, and once DJ Bill Diehl heard it, he encouraged the band to record it. They did, and the word-of-the-bird quickly spread, eventually getting the band to number four on the Billboard charts and ensuring their place in Freak Heaven forever.
 

The unlikely granddaddies of punk: Trashmen in 1964

But here’s the thing. The Trashmen initially attempted a rock n’ roll swindle, stating that they wrote the song themselves. The ‘63 single credits Trashmen singer/drummer Steve Wahrer as the composer and by the time the song was racing up the charts, he was happy to take the credit. Eventually, the Rivingtons got a lawyer and worked it all out but by then the world moved on to other dance crazes.  While “Surfin’ Bird” remained the Trashmen’s biggest hit, they had a fistful of ‘em as the decade wore on, including “Bird Dance Beat”, “Peppermint Man” and “Whoa Dad”. None of ‘em were as good as “Surfin’ Bird,” but what could be?
 

The little-known follow-up to “Surfin’ Bird.”
 
After the jump, the greatest thing you’ll see this week, I promise…

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Posted by Ken McIntyre
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05.11.2017
09:22 am
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The Cramps play some of their favorite singles on BBC radio, 1984
05.11.2017
08:40 am
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via Pinterest
 
When you’ve worn out The Purple Knif Show, do not cry. Just keep adjusting the dial until you tune in to Radio Cramps again.

In 1984, Lux Interior and Poison Ivy Rorschach were the guests on a BBC Radio 1 show that was apparently called Collectors’ Choice and hosted by veteran DJ Kid Jensen. They brought a short stack of singles and the secret teachings of all ages. Unlike many broadcasts of this kind that turn up on the webs, this one includes all the records Lux and Ivy selected for the show, perhaps because safeguarding Marvin Rainwater’s copyright is not the RIAA’s most urgent concern.

The interview is an education. Lux makes the case (well, asserts) that Link Wray is the “first progressive rock guitarist” and Ivy explains why the names of some East L.A. bands start with “Thee.”

Threatening to answer Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” with a single of their own called “Rockabilly Jean,” they diagnose the problem with our modern American sounds:

Lux: I hope that somehow people will forget about this “No Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones” and get back into the history of rock ‘n’ roll, and get back into the simplicity of it, and the stripped-down, rock ‘n’ roll, nuclear warfare, over-the-topness of what it was when it first started, because there’s just something missing today. Everybody’s either out for their career, or something, making pop music, or making really involved musical things, you know, and rock ‘n’ roll is just so simple and so direct, it doesn’t seem like there are very many people who have a handle on understanding what that is.

Kid Jensen: Many people who would agree with you would regard rock ‘n’ roll as disposable, though. They would say it’s there to be listened to, two-minute records, that’s it. Throw it away.

Lux: Well, but they’re disposable people, though, so it doesn’t matter.

Kid Jensen: ‘Cause you obviously cherish these old records.

Lux: Oh, yeah. These are magic items, these records.

The DJ set:

Cannibal & the Headhunters “Zulu King” (3:10)
Thee Midniters “Jump, Jive, and Harmonize” (9:24)
Andre Williams “Pass the Biscuits Please” (14:23)
Marvin Rainwater “Hot and Cold” (21:37)
Starlites “Valarie” (26:59)
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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05.11.2017
08:40 am
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The Monks: Hear a recently rediscovered song by the avant-garage punk 60s legends!
05.10.2017
12:13 pm
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The Monks in front of the Top Ten Club in Hamburg, Germany

Third Man Records have announced an amazing upcoming release: Five tracks recorded by fabled mid-60s avant-garage punks The Monks (often stylized as just ‘monks’) around the same time as their final single “Love Can Tame The Wild” in early 1967. The lead-off number “I’m Watching You” gets its world premiere here today, courtesy of the label.

The other four tracks on the Hamburg Recordings, 1967 EP were laid down at a studio located on the premises of the Top Ten Club, one of the early rock ‘n’ roll venues in Germany where the young Beatles played one of their famed Hamburg residencies. But these songs aren’t just some forgotten cast-offs, they are as vital and as punchy as everything else the Monks recorded.

Over email, I asked Monks bass player Eddie Shaw about the session and got this extraordinary reply, which I hope our readers will find as interesting as I did:

THIS WAS THE LAST RECORDING SESSION before the Monks broke up…

Between late 1965 until the Fall of 1967, we had four different engagements at the Top Ten Club—located on the Reeperbahn in Hamburg. It was the same club the Beatles worked when they first came to Hamburg. Each booking was for a month. We performed 9:00 pm to 3:00 am, seven nights a week, with a two-hour afternoon matinee on Sundays. Life in Hamburg, as we knew it, revolved around the tough St. Pauli district and the intense hours onstage. In fact, our first month’s booking, as Monks, was in the Top Ten Club and almost two years later, our next to last Monks’ booking was in the same place. The audience in the club was made up of people who liked the Beatles and people who liked the Monks. The Beatles sang nice songs and the Monks sang “I Hate You But Call Me.” Tony Sheridan, who recorded “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean” with the Beatles, was there many nights, in front of the stage, shouting at us and telling us how much he hated us. When we were there, the club was packed every night.

During our last month at the Top Ten Club,  Ricky Barnes, the club manager, surprised us by revealing a window, on a side wall of the club, with a recording studio control room behind it.  “I also produce recordings,” he said.“Do you guys want to do some tracks?”  Being astonished by this news—and as our contract with Polydor had just come to an end—we agreed. Polydor was putting pressure on us to soften our style saying, “Soft Rock is the future.”  At this point, after many months of constant touring (sometimes performing in three different towns a day)  we were tired and beginning to disagree with each other. As many groups do, we felt the pressure of writing and performing songs—“Monk Style”—that were beyond the pale of what groups normally played.  And now a couple Monks hinted they wanted to go home.

With Ricky Barnes’s encouragement,  we agreed to make one last recording effort, this time writing the songs in a more predictable style, a bit softer, trying to fit in with the mainstream tastes of the day.  We had just begun to ignore our monks’ costumes, as well as grow out our hair, getting rid of the tonsure. Even as we were scheduled to go to Asia in two months, there was a feeling among us that the Monks might be coming to an end.

For a couple of mornings, after work—after 3:00 am—I had my amp set up in the tables area, where customers usually sat. At this hour, we were tired and a bit handicapped from the activities of the night - drinking between sets, taking the little pills that “Oma” (“Grandma”) provided so we could stay awake. She worked in the men’s restroom and, in the Beatles bios, they called her “Mom.”

We recorded until about seven or eight in the morning. On the second session, Dave, tired and in bad shape, vomited on the floor during one of the songs. That’s when Ricky Barnes stopped the tape and called me into the control room. “It’s time to call it quits,” he said and he took the tape off the machine, put it in a box and handed it to me. Two months later, a couple of days before going to Asia, the Monks disbanded.

Surprisingly, the tape reappeared a couple of years ago, and is now being released by Third Man Records. I was very happy to learn it still existed. One odd thing about it—there is a missing vocal track on one song, “Yellow Grass,” a tune about the gritty life we lived in Hamburg. I don’t know what happened to it and it doesn’t matter.  It’s good to know the tape still exists. Hearing the recordings for the first time in many years, there were a few mistakes on a couple of tracks, which I helped correct in the mix, but overall it didn’t seem to be in real bad shape. Yes, the songs (all about relationships in Hamburg) are done in a softer style, but then they also are a significant piece of the Monks’ history. Dave played guitar instead of banjo, and I did a trumpet part on two songs while Gary played bass.

“I’m Watching You” was not recorded in the Top Ten Club.  It was recorded earlier in February, at the Polydor Studios with the two songs on our last single recording, “Love Can Tame The Wild” and “He Went Down To The Sea”. It was not released, but does illustrate how the minimalist uberbeat style of the Monks was changing to accommodate Polydor Record’s requests for softer rock.
 

“Onstage at the Top Ten Club on a normal night with the audience keeping their heads down in reverent rockness.”

Ben Blackwell oversees vinyl record production at Third Man Records in Nashville and had this to say about the upcoming release:

“I’m Watching You” turned up first, as Gary Burger had actually obtained it as part of the collection of one of the Monks’ old managers who’d recently passed away, Walther Niemann. Gary visited Nashville a few years back and I showed him around, taking him to the pressing plant where they were coincidentally pressing copies of Black Monk Time when we walked in. After a solid time spent together, he pulled out a CD and played me “I’m Watching You” and I was gobsmacked.

From there Third Man worked very hard to try and coordinate a release of that song on a 7” but it just wasn’t meant to be. After Gary’s passing, both Eddie and myself asked his widow, Cindy, to see if there were any Monks tapes around. Eddie very clearly remembered all the details, song titles, lyrics, everything having to do with the sessions. After a bit of time, Cindy was able to find a couple of reels that contained multiple mixes of the songs that are now featured on the Third Man release. The tapes themselves were clean and we really didn’t have to go through any significant restoration process.

I still can’t believe we’re actually releasing a Monks record.

Listen to “I’m Watching You” after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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05.10.2017
12:13 pm
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First look at the video for Thurston Moore’s New Age/No Wave single ‘Aphrodite’
05.10.2017
09:38 am
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Thurston Moore’s new album Rock n Roll Consciousness was released on April 28th via Caroline International. The new material was recorded with the same line-up of musicians he’s been working with since 2014: Deb Googe of My Bloody Valentine on bass, Nøught’s James Sedwards on guitar and Moore’s longtime musical collaborator from Sonic Youth, Steve Shelley on drums.

With a title like Rock n Roll Consciousness, and the way the press materials describe the new single,  you could be forgiven for wondering if Moore’s gone all New Age:

“Aphrodite,” a strange and heavy No wave rocker in salutation to the icon of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation, enumerates tools beyond the consciousness: electric guitars, the power of mind, imagination, will and intention to practice magick. Thurston sings of spells and possession as he and James pick up energies from string sorcery in a true group séance. Steve Shelley transmits the power of the symbolic into actual shimmering cymbal resonance and Deb Googe’s bass weaves a mesmeric psychic shaping — all in service to the mystic song.

Hard to tell. Maybe Moore has gone New Age on us—the lush psychedelic imagery seen in the “Aphrodite” video is light years away from that of Sonic Youth’s infamous collaboration with Richard Kern and Judith Barry on their “Death Valley 69” clip in 1985—but this certainly didn’t disappoint.

Moore’s North American tour is already in progress.
 

“Aphrodite” by Thurston Moore. Directed by Francis Coy (with footage from the Azores by Eva)

Posted by Richard Metzger
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05.10.2017
09:38 am
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Klark Kent, the punk band that Stewart Copeland of the Police had nothing whatsoever to do with
05.09.2017
12:25 pm
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From 1978 to 1986 the Police were an undeniable musical force, with five classic albums and ten U.K. singles cracking the Top 10. It’s a curious fact, however, that the Police were beaten to the charts by one of their own. In 1978 an act going by the name of Klark KentStewart Copeland would always vigorously deny having anything to do with it—released a single called “Don’t Care,” which managed to hit the U.K. charts in advance of any song by the Police. In the summer of 1980, Klark Kent released a peppy mini-album of frenetic punk-pop.

Klark Kent took its moniker seriously. The name was obviously a riff on Superman’s alter ego, and in that spirit all of the original Klark Kent releases were on Kryptonite Records, and as many releases as possible were done up on green vinyl in honor of the one substance in the universe that can bring Superman to his knees. Klark Kent used green as much as possible in its album artwork and had a knack with serifs. 
 

 
In his essential book Punk Diary: The Ultimate Trainspotter’s Guide to Underground Rock, 1970-1982, George Gimarc describes the promo party for the release of the album on June 25, 1980:
 

Someone supposed to be Klark Kent showed up in a Darth Vader mask being towed around the room by Stewart Copeland of the Police. It’s a ruse that is transparent and well-blown, but Stewart is adamant that, “It’s not me, honest. Why do people keep saying that?”

 
Indeed, it was Copeland on all of the instruments—even the most cursory listen will reveal that the band sounds a whole lot like the Police circa Outlandos d’Amour.

The U.S. release of the 10-inch came in a 12-inch sleeve bearing a sticker that stated the following: “You have just purchased an I.R.S. product. Keep in mind, however, that this is no ordinary record. It has been specially sealed under clinical laboratory conditions guarded by 12 armed security officers. Upon contact with light, this 8-song album will shrink to 10 inches and turn green. Exercise extreme caution.” (Cleverly, the labels had a reduced diameter to give the visual impression of a shrunken 12-inch.)

The liner notes explaining the origin story of “Klark” find Copeland channeling Thomas Pynchon. The purported author is, ahem, “Sir Robinson Jeffries-Elder, Q.C., M.P., ex-diplomat, lecturer, bon vivant, and principal stockholder in the Klerk Kant Foundation, Limited”:
 

“Klerk Kant”, as appears to be his name, first came into my life as he was sitting next to me on the Concorde flight from Washington, D.C., to London. Speaking in what he claimed to be his native Sanskrit, he explained that he had been in Washington testifying before a congressional committee on church politics. His expertise in this subject had been attained while studying in a Moslem seminary in India. He underlined his religiosity (he claimed to be a “Sufi”, a kind of Islamic mystic that is rarely seen on the Indian sun-continent) by saying his noonday prayers in the aisle of the jet air-plane, jostling the stewardesses as they were trying to serve lunch, and annoying the passengers with his shouts of “Which way is Mecca? Which way is Mecca? Which way is Mecca?” while shifting his body to accommodate to the turns in the direction of the aircraft.

Later, he confessed, in sub-standard broken English, that he was “a mere computer programmer”, currently out of work but living on the sum of one million four hundred thousand dollars which he had won from I.B.M. in a successful suit against the company for stealing his “invention”. He was most secretive about the invention (“Do you want me to sue you? he asked coyly when I questioned him about it), but he adumbrated the notion that it had to do with capturing radio signals from distant galaxies, systematizing them through computer analysis, and reducing them to simple melodies which he played on the various instruments on which he is proficient.

I saw a great deal of Kent over the following weeks, sometimes in his elegant suite at the Dorchester and sometimes at my more modest digs, a bed-sit on Grosvenor Square. Sometimes he was morose to the point hostility, barely replying to my concerned questions with monosyllabic grunts. At other times, he was almost euphoric, waxing eloquent on his wide-ranging political philosophies. He would often descend to the vernacular, but his normal mode of speech was iambic pentameter in a-a-b-a rhyming pattern in which he produced perfectly worded, poetically beautiful expressions of deep moral intensity. (“I am a child ancient Syria / Suffering the pains of all this area” is an example.)

It is this peculiar combination of the profane and sacred which gives his music its unique appeal to young and old, simple and sophisticated, bovine and leontine, illiterate and intelligent, A/C, D/C, and A/C/D/C I, for one, like the underlying jazz sub-motif. My sons, being of primitive mold, see nothing in him but what they call “white collar punk”. In any case, to one and all, Klerk Kant’s music is the work of “true genius come home from a visit to the cosmos”, as the New York Times critic says. The eight songs of the disc run the gamut of KK’s extraordinary talents.

 
More on this mystery after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.09.2017
12:25 pm
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That time the FBI investigated the alleged murder of Trent Reznor
05.09.2017
10:58 am
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Other than the fact that the FBI, the Michigan State Police and Chicago’s finest all believed that Nine Inch Nails vocalist Trent Reznor was dead, 1989 was a pretty good year for NIN. The band released their first album, Pretty Hate Machine which contained the soon-to-be smash single “Down In It” that would help propel NIN to early stardom. Prior to the release of the first song ever written by Reznor, NIN headed to Chicago to shoot a video for the single. And that’s when this story starts to get very, very weird.

In order to achieve the aerial shots for the video, the crew attached balloons to a few cameras. One of the cameras decided to go rogue and floated over 300 miles to Michigan before landing in the middle of a cornfield (I told you things were going to get weird). The camera was then found by a farmer who, after looking at the footage of Reznor covered in cornstarch (in order to enhance his dead-guy look), surrounded by guitarist Richard Patrick and drummer Chris Vrenna, turned it into the police. The footage appeared to be authentically nefarious in nature to the cops who were convinced that the footage in the camera was either the product of some sort of satanic ritual, gang-related slaying or even a suicide.

If you’re a fan of NIN you may already be acquainted with this bizarre bit of history, especially if you also watched the television tabloid show Hard Copy back in the early 1990s. Hard Copy took NIN and Reznor to task then when they ran an exposé on the faux-murder and its lengthy criminal investigation. During the broadcast which originally aired on March 5th, 1991, the show used cheesy “re-enactments” of the “crime” as well as providing equally cheesy and condescending commentary by way of host Alan Frio and the glib curator of the segment, actor Rafael Abramovitz. They even included an interview segment with Reznor himself during which he shared his thoughts about the bizarre debacle:

“When the news came through that this was some sort of a cult killing, and that I had been killed, this great story, my initial reaction was that it was really funny, that something could be that blown out of proportion, and so many people were working on it. And I felt kinda good that the police had made idiots of themselves.”

More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.09.2017
10:58 am
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Stevie Nicks will fuck you up
05.08.2017
11:49 am
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In the 1980s, Fleetwood Mac employed an Australian bodyguard named Bob Jones. This would have been around the time the band was recording Mirage. Jones was an ambitious sort with some ideas about a harness that could be used in the water to assist in training known as the “swim-a-sizer.” He also was eager to write a book about self-defense that women could use to ward off attackers.

One day Stevie Nicks asked how his ancillary projects were going. As Jones tells it:
 

One day we were over at Stevie’s, and she’d asked how it was coming along. She was keen to understand the concept of how I intended to make it a train-at-home-alone manual.

“What can I do to help?”

“How about a photo shoot of you and me for the cover?”

Swear to God, I honestly meant this to be a throw-away line.

“It all sounds fabulous! I’d love to!”

“Great Stevie, I’ll ring your publicist to do a photo shoot here by the pool.”

 
And that was that. Nicks followed through on her promise to do a shoot for Jones’ book. The book came out in 1983 with the title Hands Off!, and there Nicks was, as promised, on the cover. Amazingly, Nicks showed up for the shoot wearing her trademark flowy gowns and the most incredible pair of platform boots, which prove her to be highly skilled in the martial arts indeed!
 

 
According to Jones, Nicks’ publicist professed to be astonished that Nicks had agreed to do the shoot, because she had recently bollixed up his negotiations with “one of the world’s top monthly magazines” (ahem, Playboy) by turning down an offer of $250,000 for a photo spread. I’m guessing it wasn’t the fact of doing a “photo shoot” that had caused Nicks to object. 
 

 
It all makes you want to tremble at the very thought of getting your ass kicked by Stevie Nicks in a dark alley, no? She’d probably use witchcraft on you too!

Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.08.2017
11:49 am
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‘And Keith Haring on Magic Marker’: Keith Haring creates a mural onstage while Material get funky
05.08.2017
10:50 am
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Without much question, Material, the New York-based jazz/funk/hip-hop combo founded by bassist Bill Laswell and keyboardist Michael Beinhorn in 1978, has a rightful place on any list of the most interesting bands of all time. Somewhat like Brian Eno, Nile Rodgers, Steve Albini, and Was (Not Was), Material combined performance and composition with significant production credits. To give you an idea of the kind of terrain Material comfortably occupied, here’s a partial list of Material’s more notable collaborators: Nona Hendryx, Afrika Bambaataa, John Lydon, Whitney Houston, Fab Five Freddy, Sonny Sharrock, Kool Keith, Daevid Allen, Bootsy Collins, and William S. Burroughs.

If nothing so far has rung any bells, you probably are aware of Herbie Hancock’s 1983 album Future Shock and Hancock’s most famous track “Rockit,” which was a big hit in the early days of MTV. Material was all over that album, and its hard electronic funk sound was quite typical of Material’s music.
 

 
In 1983 Material did some European dates and someone hit upon a cool idea. Keith Haring would create an improvised mural on the stage set while Material went through its compositions. I don’t know how often this happened but it happened at least twice, once at the Montreux Jazz Festival on July 13, and once in Milan at the Milano Suono Festival on July 20. On both occasions the lineup was (as two YouTube videos have it) Bill Laswell, Michael Beinhorn, Grandmixer D.ST., Sonny Sharrock, Henry Kaiser, J.T. Lewis, “and Keith Haring on Magic Marker.”

Many years later Laswell told the Quietus about Haring’s onstage involvement with Material:
 

I think I was playing with Sonny Sharrock, D.ST who is a DJ, and Henry Kaiser. Again, it was improvised but with a rhythm section. It was a long time ago, and probably a lot more in the avant-garde! But we did play pieces that featured the turntable. It was also the first time I had ever seen live music with live painting. So Keith Haring painted live while we were playing and when the music stopped, the painting was finished, which was kind of a trip for the audience.

 
Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.08.2017
10:50 am
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A Beatles fan is hunting down all the original photos from the ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ cover
05.08.2017
09:06 am
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It’s obvious almost to the point of tedium to point out that the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, along with all of its merits as a work of music and a cultural touchstone, boasts one of the most surpassingly iconic album cover photos of the rock era. It was staged and shot by Jann Haworth and Peter Blake (who won a Grammy for their effort) using photo enlargements and wax figures of famous and obscure figures to whom the Beatles’ members wished to pay tribute, over 70 in all, including the Beatles themselves, both in real life and waxwork form.

Parodies of the cover abound (including one rather spectacular recent example by Blake himself), and diagrams identifying all of the personages and objects in the photo have been around for about as long as the album—half a century as of this year, as it happens. But I’m not aware of anyone undertaking this endeavor until now: one Chris Shaw is trying to hunt down all the original photos used to create the cover. He’s documenting his progress on his Twitter feed (@Chrisshaweditor) and on a blog.

Shaw was recently quoted about the project by The Poke:

Being a bit of a Beatles obsessive, I’m excited about the 50th anniversary rerelease of Sgt Pepper. The legendary album cover is regularly popping up on my news feeds and I became curious as to the origins of the photos Peter Blake used to create the iconic sleeve.

My first search was for Tarzan actor Johnny Weissmuller (the picture behind Ringo and Paul). When I eventually located the source image, with the unexpected chimp and horn, it was so bizarre and out of context it piqued my interest.

I’ve now set myself the challenge of hunting down all of the original pictures on the sleeve. I may be some time.

Some were surely not terribly elusive—W.C. Fields, Tony Curtis, and Marlon Brando were culled from widely circulated promo pictures, and Bob Dylan was enlarged from the cover of Highway 61 Revisited. But some of his finds are quite marvelous; the Johnny Weismuller photo Shaw cites in the quotation above really is quite wonderful, and he even found the doll in the Rolling Stones sweater. I’d imagine some Dangerous Minds readers might have some insights to share with Shaw, and I’ll bet he’d be delighted if you’d point him toward any as-yet-unfound photo sources using the hashtag #SgtPepperPhotos, or through the contact form on his blog.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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05.08.2017
09:06 am
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The Singer: Why Nick Cave is the greatest ‘serious’ rock musician of our time. Period. The End.
05.05.2017
11:37 am
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There’s a fairly compelling—I’ll go so far as to deem it “persuasive”—argument to be made that of any musician of the modern era who has sustained a long, long multi-decade career, that Nick Cave has—consistently—been the greatest “serious” rock musician of our time.

Woah, woah, woah! Wait just a minute there, buddy! Greater than Bob Dylan, the Beatles, or the Stones you say? Well, no, not necessarily, obviously that’s a pretty subjective opinion just to throw out there—although it does actually happen to be the one that I hold—but do consider that the Rolling Stones had (definitively) peaked by 1972, that the best of the Beatles’ solo work was in the rear view mirror by 1974 and that the last truly great album made by Bob Dylan was probably 1975’s Blood on the Tracks. Don’t get me wrong, I hate U2 and always have, but even I can give them credit for having had a remarkably good run of it, certainly maintaining quality in their output, some level of reinvention and a decent hit single every couple of years for four decades. Face it, the Rolling Stones couldn’t do that, so they turned themselves into the world’s greatest Rolling Stones cover band. David Bowie? He burns brightly for a good few years, that’s true, but then Let’s Dance happens. Joni Mitchell? Nope. What about Neil Young? How many Neil Young songs from the 80s, 90s, 00s or the current decade can you even name let alone hum? Prince’s post 80s output was always a mixed bag. Roger Waters hasn’t exactly embarrassed himself over the years, of course, but in terms of new music, unlike Prince, he’s not been all that prolific. The same could be said of Tom Waits.
 

 
Now, Nick Cave on the other hand, has released 16 studio albums, numerous film soundtracks, live albums and recorded many significant contributions to projects spearheaded by others. There’s also the matter of his work with the Birthday Party, novels, screenplays, films, lectures, acting and much more. He’s a prolific creator and most of his output—nearly all of it if you ask me—is really fucking good. There is simply no equivalent to Let’s Dance in Cave’s entire body of work. He’s never put out a shit album, just ones that were less good than others. Nick Cave might not sell out football stadiums or go platinum, but neither did Johnny Cash. How many middle-aged rock stars put out one of their very best songs (“Jubilee Street”) entering the fifth decade of their career? Have any? Did even Frank Sinatra do anything like that? I don’t think so.
 

Photo of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds by Sam Barker
 
What if I shifted my premise (ever so slightly) to “Nick Cave is the greatest serious rock artist of the past 30 years”? I suspect a few more of you might come on board with that revised assessment as nearly all of the competition drops off when you frame it that way. But don’t take my word for it, there’s a brand new compilation—the first in 19 years—out today via BMG, that covers 30 years of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ output. Handpicked by longtime collaborator Mick Harvey and Cave himself, there’s not a single bad track on any of the different versions of Lovely Creatures: The Best of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds (1984-2014) but having said that, as a longtime Nick Cave fanatic myself, going back to the first Birthday Party album, I’d have largely chosen a much different selection. Some overlap, but honestly not a lot. This is not to say that “my” version would be any “better” than theirs, naturally, only that it would be significantly different—how could they have left off “A Box for Black Paul” I wondered—but this is merely a mundane testament to the fact that Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ back catalog is both vast, and brilliant. My selection would need to be spread across many more discs, I guess. Like 20 CDs or so.
 

 
Order Lovely Creatures: The Best of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds (1984-2014) as a standard double CD, a triple vinyl LP, a deluxe 3CD with DVD and the “Super Deluxe Limited Edition” which comes with a full-color 256-page book and inserts in special packaging. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds will be touring North America soon.

The trailer for ‘Lovely Creatures’

Further evidence that Nick Cave is our greatest rock star, after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Richard Metzger
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05.05.2017
11:37 am
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