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When the legendary Hipgnosis did fashion shoots for ‘classy’ porn mag Club International (NSFW)

It’s a fair bet that a large part of many (most?) record collections includes a good percentage of covers by the legendary London-based graphic designers Hipgnosis.

Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell who were the original founders of Hipgnosis turned out a massive array of iconic designs for bands as varied as Pink Floyd (who had been the first band to commission the duo), T.Rex, Hawkwind, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, 10CC, Wings, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Genesis, Jon Anderson, Depeche Mode, XTC, ABC, Megadeth, and even England’s former poet laureate John Betjeman.

Apart from album covers, Hipgnosis also designed a series of fashion spreads for the softcore porn mag Club International and its more hardcore American edition Club.

Club International was founded by porn supremo Paul Raymond, who ran the legendary strip club the Raymond Revuebar in London’s seedy Soho district and a series of best-selling porn mags. Under its first editor Tony Power, Club International was intended as a high-quality adult entertainment magazine mixing the best of writers with the finest photographers and designers.

Hipgnosis was hired to add a classy touch to the magazine’s fashion spreads. The gig allowed Thorgerson and Powell to try-out a few ideas which they would later re-use on album covers—the flasher who would reappear on Pink Floyd’s A Nice Pair, for instance, while the water-in-the-face shots would feature on Peter Frampton’s Something’s Happened. See more Hipgnosis glorious work here.
See more of Hipgnosis’ fashion work for Club International, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
12:55 pm
Stuck in the Mudd! Four decades later, the doorman of the wildest nightclub in NYC lets you in!

Here’s a drink ticket—enjoy the post!

“If you’ve been standing here for more than ten minutes you’re not coming in” announces Richard Boch in a stern but cute, almost teenaged stoner way. Don’t get me wrong, he means it. This was how “normal people” were greeted much of the time at the door of the Mudd Club (and many other ultra hip clubs in New York City at the time). This made getting in a huge badge of honor and being turned away a major disgrace. Imagine riding on THAT possibility just to pay to go into a nightclub? An anonymous “sniper” refused entrance once even hit Boch with a dead pigeon from a few yards away and sped off in a taxi cab!

Back then these normal people showing up at Manhattan nightclubs were mostly referred to as the “bridge and tunnel” crowd (Queens, Jersey, Brooklyn) a term not heard much these days, but once heard hundreds of times every night in NYC clubs. Some were 9-5ers, some wealthy disco-types expecting to stroll in on the doorman’s view of their Rolex or hot girlfriend. These regular folks were basically told to cool their heels or fuck off while an 18-year-old kid like me dressed to the hilt in what may have looked to them like idiotic rags, parted the seas and strolled in like I was Mick Jagger. This was not Studio 54 as they would find out soon enough. What it was, though, was a trip into known and unknown galaxies of hip culture throughout history, like a living, breathing museum/funhouse/drug den/concert hall/discotheque, mixed with nitroglycerine and LSD and thrown into a blender to create the unknown. The future. THE NOW!

The Mudd Club was almost literally unbelievable. Inmates running the asylum on an outer space pirate ship. This vessel was founded, funded and schemed by Steve Mass, who was on every side of the street all at once. When I first met Steve, he was roommates with Brian Eno and got that input, but he STILL drove me out to my parents’ apartment in Queens to help pull my record collection from under my bed, my parents shrugging their shoulders until reading about us a year later in the New York Times, thereby making it “Okay.” But really he was always very curious, constantly grilling me, getting inside my head. I once told him I thought he should round off the corners and ceiling of the Mudd Club like a giant cave and have live bats flying around the club. He actually considered it! He did this with certain other kids, rock stars, Warhol superstars, models, designers, Hollywood royalty, junkies, freaks and lord knows who else. We all had a bit of our heart and soul in that place.
Mudd Club owner Steve Mass. Photo by Kate Simon

The above mentioned Richard Boch is the author of a incredibly well-written new book from Feral House titled The Mudd Club. Boch was the main doorman there and the book is his autobiography or a coming of age story told in pretty much the aftermath of the glorious Sixties during the truly, in retrospect, harsh, dark, real version of what was hoped for, but lost in that previous decade. Richard’s story is all of our stories, those of us lucky (or unlucky) enough to have grown up or wound up in New York City’s grimy punk/art/drugged musical and historical mish-mosh. It was the Velvet Underground’s songs come to life after waiting a decade for the world to catch up to it, or crumble to its level.
To quote Richard:

I’ve always referred to the Mudd Club as the scene of the crime, always meant as a term of endearment. It was the night that never ended: the day before never happened and the day after, a long way off. There was nothing else like it and I wound up right in the middle. I thought I could handle it and for a while, I did.

Author Richard Boch. Photo by Alan Kleinberg
Boch was given marching orders orders early on to avoid bloated seventies superstars and the limo crowd. On one of his first nights of work he was faced with a huge, loud, and very sweaty Meatloaf. “Definitely not something I wanted to get close to, physically or musically,” Boch says, and ignored him. My first ever DJ gig was early on at the Mudd Club and I was told told by Steve Mass to do things like play Alvin and The Chipmunks records when it got a bit crowded, to “make everyone uncomfortable,” including myself. Of course I had the record. I also gouged a 45 with scissors insuring the record would skip horribly and then pretend that it wasn’t happening. Just long enough to get the asylum to freak out a little bit.

Later this stuff went out the window but it was quite a formative experience. Humor filtered through even to the most deadly serious moments there. The Mudd Club was a place where twenty people could literally have had twenty different experiences on the same night during the same hour as there was just so much happening on different mental/pharmaceutical levels and different floor levels. Everywhere you turned there was someone amazing. From the way I had grown up, seeing Andy Warhol, John Waters, David Bowie and the Ramones within a twenty minute span was “my” Studio 54. Watching Screamin’ Jay Hawkins while standing next to Jean-Michel Basquiat, seeing the Soft Boys, girl groups like the Angels and the Crystals, Frank Zappa, Bauhaus, Nico, the Dead Boys, Captain Beefheart, John Cale, a Radley Metzger film presented by Sleazoid Express or an impromptu freakout by Warhol Superstar Jackie Curtis, well this was my dream come to life!

My dream hasn’t changed in 40 years. I’m still in awe that it happened. And in the middle of all that I was allowed to put on my own demented conceptual events with friends (“The Puberty Ball,” etc.) and be a regular DJ. The people I came to know in the punk world who wanted more found it at the Mudd Club. Our mad obsession with the Sixties, especially the Warhol/New York sixties, informed much of what we did, and at the same time the Warhol Factory itself became more corporate. The Superstars were by then getting older and pushed out, but they were looking for more themselves, and they were looking to us to inform them, making for some extremely insane morality and immorality plays coming to life before our eyes. Mudd had the pull of what the press called “downtown,” and for the downtown types, well our voices were about to be heard loud and clear.
David Bowie and Dee Dee Ramone. Photo by Bobby Grossman
Howie Pyro deejaying at Mudd

Richard Boch understood all this, and was also an artist himself so he knew who everyone in the art world was, as well as all the new punk stars and celebutantes, no wavers, new wavers, culture vulture gods and the ones who would become gods themselves in a year or so. In the book he talks about being nervous about starting working there but man, he was the one for the job. In the pages of The Mudd Club, Boch’s quite candid about everything you’d want to know (gossip but not mean gossip: sex, drugs, more drugs, and getting home at ten AM, having done every drug and a half dozen people along the way—normal stuff like that). It reads in one, two, or three page sections, my favorite kind of book. You can put it down in ten-minute intervals or read it in any order you want, IF you can put it down at all. I have literally read certain sections backwards for 40-50 pages while looking for something and didn’t really notice. It made me laugh out loud, and it brought tears to my eyes. It’s kind of like “Please Kill Me, the Day After,” though it’s not an oral history as such, as it is written from Richard Boch’s point of view, but it has the same immediate anecdotal feel.
‘TV Party’ at Mudd. Photo by Bob Gruen
The club’s benevolent benefactor, Steve Mass, was responsible for making this incredible witches brew keep bubbling and kept the happenings happening. He was willing to do anything, just for the sake of doing it. Steve originally owned an ambulance service. For my 19th birthday they had a huge party for me on the second floor of the Mudd Club. Since Steve had medical connections, and since we were ALL junkies (well, a good 85% of us were), he furnished a massive cake with dozens of syringes with the plungers & needles removed so they could put the candles in the open syringes. This of course turned into a massive cake fight with the participants looking like the Little Rascals (with pinned eyes). Steve was always down for this sorta stuff. As for the main floor, the bands, writers and performers that I saw in a single month’s time was staggering! More than some people see in a lifetime.
From the book:

January 1979. The Cramps freaked out The Mudd Club with a loud Psychobilly grind that included such hits as “Human Fly” and “Surfin’ Bird.” A few months later, the “big names” started to appear…

He goes on to say:

The legendary Sam and Dave got onstage a few weekends later, and it was the first time on my watch that I got to see the real deal. By late summer, Talking Heads took the stage while Marianne Faithful, X, Lene Lovich, and the Brides of Funkenstein waited in the wings.

There were so many great performances: Scheduled, impromptu, logical and out of left field. The locals and the regulars were the staple and the stable and performed as part of the White Street experience. They included everyone you could imagine and some you never could. John Cale, Chris Spedding, Judy Nylon and Nico, John Lurie and Philip Glass were just a few. Writers and poets such as William S. Burroughs, Max Blagg, Cookie Mueller, and “Teenage Jesus” Lydia Lunch all wound up on the Mudd Club stage. The talent pool was so deep and occasionally dark that even Hollywood Babylon‘s Luciferian auteur Kenneth Anger got Involved.

Steve’s willingness and generosity along with his guarded enthusiasm offered support to a local community of artists, musicians, and filmmakers. Together with Diego (Cortez)’ and Anya (Phillip’s) short-lived but “dominating” spirit, the Mudd Club became an instant happening, a free-for-all with No Wave orchestration and very few rules.

Diego described the Mudd Club as “a container, a vessel, but certainly not the only one in town.” What made the place unique was its blank-canvas emptiness. When the space filled up, IT happened and everyone wanted to be a part. A living, breathing work of art, it was beautiful and way off center, a slice of golden time.

I was lucky, and soaked it all in.

Nico playing her wheezing harmonium. Photo by Ebet Roberts

All of us who got to be there were lucky. This was a timeless world of it’s own. A world that could be compared to any and all magical artistic movements, scenes or spaces. Dada. Warhol’s Factory, the Beats in NY and SF, Surrealism, etc.—times, places, people all endlessly written about as there’s just so much to say. Everyone involved had a unique experience, true to themselves. This wasn’t just a nightclub, it was so much more. It almost seemed like a private place where, on the best nights, people’s lives and fantasies were put on display and the public was allowed to watch. The public who just came to do coke and dance (as we all did) but who accidentally got touched by a bizarre and wonderful world that lived in the shadows of the city then, usually just brushing against them like a ghost in the night. Whether they even noticed or not, well, who cares?

This first book on the subject (I guarantee it will not be the last) is Richard Boch’s own experience, peppered with those of us who he interviewed for the reminders. This book is about his eyes opening, his chain-wielding power stance, his blowjobs, his drinks, his drugs, all of which are plentiful. It includes a little of most of us, the people we loved, the ones we lost, the games we played, and the love we shared of each other and our mutual history. Still though, there are a million stories in the Mudd’s microcosm of the naked city, this is just one of them.

And what a glorious place to start: right at the front door.

The trailer for the book
More Mudd Club after the jump…

Posted by Howie Pyro
02:47 pm
Take a look at highlights from this large collection of wacky vintage novelty phones
08:41 am

Kids today just don’t know what they’re missing.

Yesterday I called up my local cable company in hopes of setting up a landline. Not that I really need one or anything. People can reach me just fine on cell, but I like the idea of only being reachable while at home. Just like in the olden days. We’ve gotta do what we can to loosen society’s grip over our hyper-connected, over-stimulated lives. But apparently my cable provider isn’t offering that anymore?!?

A study published in May by the Center for Disease Control (of all people!) found that for the first time in American history, the majority of households are cellphone-only (50.8%). This statistic was compared to the feeble 6.5% population of strictly-landline users, with the remaining being a mix of the two (or even neither). Well, that’s truly a bummer, because I had the perfect ‘analog rig’ already picked out.

Author James David Davis with his prized $600 Ronald McDonald phone

Collectible Novelty Phones was the comprehensive reference godsend for any collector of weird phones way back when (people were actually able to use them). Having hit shelves back in 1998, the book today can mostly be found among other helpful guides to shit nobody cares about anymore in your neighborhood’s “Little Free Library” (or on Amazon). Written by former AT&T technician James David Davis, a true devotee of the movement, the book is basically a photo gallery of one dude’s enormous phone collection. Each blower is professionally displayed, categorized, and technically detailed to a marvelous result. It might even be enough for you to think twice about getting the new iPhone in favor of a kitschy talking Garfield phone with an actual dial-tone.

Below are some of my favorites from the collection.


More after the jump…

Posted by Bennett Kogon
08:41 am
The Illuminati of rock and roll: Remembering Pat Fear, a real-life Robert Anton Wilson character

It was recently the birthday of one of my lifelong best friends, Bill Bartell (1961-2013)

Bill aka “Pat Fear” was a walking, talking anomaly, a living Robert Anton Wilson conspiracy theory, a wisecracking character out of a Firesign Theatre sketch, a Discordian trickster imp of the perverse. His credit card even said “The Illuminati” under his name (for real, I swear!). Bill also went by the names “Kixx”; “Sitting Bill”; “Pat ‘Slowhand’ Fear”; “Billy Jo Gun Rack,” etc., etc., and these are just the ones that he used on records! I can’t even imagine the secret pseudonyms he used “off stage.” I also can’t actually believe that he is not still alive. It seems like some kind of shitty cosmic joke. The world that doesn’t get to know Bill is a sad world.

Bill did so much for our culture, mostly by ridiculing it. He was a super mega ultra fan of so many disconnected things. He lived to tear down so many idols. His band White Flag was formed originally solely just to piss off Black Flag (one of his favorite bands). Bill pissed many people off, which was his life’s mission or so it seemed.
He was just SO good at it!
Bill’s side project, but really his life’s work as it was so open-ended was a grouping called Tater Totz. This project dealt with Bill’s obsessions. As it grew, many people from his obsessions wound up on Tater Totz records. Who? Man, so many! Always Redd Kross of course, but also members of the Runaways, Germs/Nirvana, Partridge Family, Sonic Youth, Lovedolls, Tesco Vee, El Vez, The Zeros, The Posies, Jimmy McNichol (!!??!!), Hole, Sator, Starz, Zeros, Melvins, Shonen Knife, Go-Go’s, Adolescents, Pandoras, Roman Coppola, Circle Jerks, Frightwig, Chemical People, Sin 34/Painted Willie, myself and just about everyone else who came into Bill’s orbit. The main focus of Tater Totz was Bill’s Yoko Ono obsession, followed closely by his interest in Os Mutantes, the Beatles, Blue Oyster Cult, even a mashup of John Lennon and Queen. Their greatest moment, in my opinion, was when they showed up at a Beatlefest convention and did all Yoko Ono songs, driving the Beatle nerds to violence and riot! They literally chased them out of the building and down the street like the villagers did to poor Frankenstein’s monster! Part of this is on YouTube and can be seen here on Dangerous Minds (link at bottom of this post). Bill, of course, immediately put it out as a double seven-inch bootleg EP called Live Hate at Beatlefest, one of the best titles ever, obviously.
Bill Bartell also single-handedly turned the entire world onto Os Mutantes, a bizarre Brazilian band from the 60s whose first LP his sister, an exchange student there, brought back to him in the Sixties. Bill went around throughout the 80s with a Walkman with Os Mutantes on it and plopped the headphones on to everyone he met.

This is in fact, how I met him.
He also did this to his buddy Kurt Cobain who, when he got famous, and toured in Brazil, went on the news and asked where Os Mutantes were, and said that his friend Bill who “has a mustache” told him about them. He then held up a drawing he did of Bill. This, from the then biggest rock star in the world! Os Mutantes, who had broken up for decades have publicly stated that their resurgence was totally due to Bill and they came from Brazil on their own dime to play at his memorial in LA.
More after the jump…

Posted by Howie Pyro
11:06 am
That time Marc Bolan interviewed Stan Lee, ‘nuff said?

Marc Bolan loved comic-books. The Beano, The Dandy, The Topper, he read ‘em all and enjoyed the hilarious hijinks of the cheeky school kids contained therein. But he had a particular love for Marvel Comics and their far out superheroes like Silver Surfer and Doctor Strange. Bolan went so far as to even make reference to his favorite comic-book heroes in songs like “Mambo Sun” where he sang:

On a mountain range,
I’m Doctor Strange for you…

Yes, Marc, you are, oh but you are…

So, maybe it was inevitable, fated even, that Bolan would one-day interview legendary Marvel Supremo Stan Lee.

In 1975, Bolan had an occasional stint doing interviews on BBC radio program Today. It was the Beeb’s way of “getting down with the kids” by having a pop star talk to the kind of hip people they would like to interview in the hope this would bring in a younger audience to their flagship news and current affairs show.

That October Stan Lee was in London to launch a new British comic book The Titans. He was also in the Big Smoke to give a “one performance only” at the Roundhouse where he was to talk about “all your favorite Marvel superheroes” followed by the opening of a major exhibition of Marvel Comic’s artwork at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Having Lee in London was too good an opportunity for Bolan to miss, so an interview was arranged…
To get some more skinny on Bolan’s love of Marvel Comics let’s spool forward a year to when Neil Tennant—long before he was one-half of the Pet Shop Boys—interviewed Bolan about his love of Marvel Comics:

“I’ve been into Marvel since 1967.  The Silver Surfer, in particular, was one I liked, Dr. Strange was another.  At that time they were very weird compared to the other comics on the market, though they got more commercial since then and Stan Lee was a great writer.”

“It was nice meeting Stan last year, he was lovely to interview.  Really he’s a hustler, a solid gold easy hustler! That’s just the way Comic guys should be,  he’s got such a lot of energy.”

“We talked about the possibility of me creating a super-hero for him.  something along the lines of Electric Warrior, a twenty-first century Conan.”

“In fact, I don’t like Conan as a character—I think he should be something less of a barbarian, more like one of Michael Moorcock’s characters.  You could make a much better composite character using Moorcock’s Elric, with a bit of the Silver Surfer, a bit of Thor, and create a far more involved character, a character more in touch with now ...”

Bolan as he appeared in his own comic strip ‘The Magic of Marc’ from ‘Jackie’ magazine 1972.
More Marc Bolan on Marvel Comics plus his interview with Stan Lee, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
08:21 am
Freak out: That time Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention were in Archie Comics…
11:56 am

Okay, okay, perhaps that title is just a little bit disingenuous, but it’s still “close enough for government work,” as the old saying goes.

So no, Frank Zappa didn’t actually bring his rockin’ teen combo to fictional Riverdale High School, and no, this isn’t from Archie Comics either, it’s a National Lampoon parody by Michel Choquette from the September 1970 issue. But it’s probably exactly what would have happened had The Mothers of Invention roared into town.

Betty and Veronica probably would have gotten VD, too.

If you click on the images you’ll get to larger, easier-to-read versions.


Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger
11:56 am
Je T’Aime: Cool photos of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg when they were in love
12:58 pm

Jane Birkin (with her famous wicker basket in hand) and Serge Gainsbourg, 1969.
According to Jane Birkin’s brother Andrew, Serge Gainsbourg was the love of her life. When he passed away in 1991 at the age of 62 from a heart attack (likely brought on by his epic chain-smoking and equally epic consumption of booze), Birkin, though she and Gainsbourg had long since separated, was devastated and she and her daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg mourned his death by staying with Serge’s body for three days. When Gainsbourg was finally laid to rest, Birkin placed her “Munckey” a toy monkey that she kept since childhood, in her former lover’s coffin.

The pair met on the set of the 1968 French film L’amour et l’amour (aka Slogan) and at first, Birkin was just not that into Gainsbourg and referred to her co-star as “horrible,” “arrogant,” and “snobbish.” Andrew Birkin also recalled that his sister was so turned-off by Serge that she had difficulty pronouncing his last name and would mangle it by calling him “Serge Bourguigon.” Birkin’s distaste for Serge would not last, however, and the two would become one of the most celebrated celebrity couples in France during the decade or so that they were together. As you might imagine, there are many mythical stories concerning the exploits of Gainsbourg and Birkin—many which have the lovebirds battling it out in public spats. One of the more infamous tales involves Birkin hurling a custard tart in Serge’s face after she discovered him digging through her wicker handbag. The skirmish continued with Birkin chasing Gainsbourg down the Boulevard Saint-Germain screaming before she jumped into Seine river. In 2013 Birkin’s brother Andrew published Jane & Serge: A Family Album, a beautiful book containing photos Andrew took of the couple during their time together, some of which have never been previously published. The book also contains Andrew’s intimate insights into Jane’s childhood and her deep connection to Serge.

I’ve posted numerous images of Birkin and Gainsbourg below looking happy and in love. Some are slightly NSFW.



More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb
12:58 pm
‘Turbulence 3’: The (pre-9/11) stinker of an airplane hijack film starring a fake Marilyn Manson!
09:07 am

Weekend at Bernies II. Blues Brothers 2000. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. These are movies that should have never been made. and speaking of horrible film sequels, let me tell you a little bit about Turbulence, the plane-hijacking film franchise that just couldn’t escape total obscurity. Although it probably should have.

Turbulence, the series’ namesake, was released in 1997. The film starred Ray Liotta as a trial-bound prisoner on transport to Los Angeles who breaks free mid-flight and threatens to take the plane down with him. The pulsating drama grossed about $11 million domestically, a climatic nosedive compared to its $55 million overall budget. Hoping to give it another go-round with a direct-to-Vhs release in 1999, Turbulence 2: Fear of Flying raised the altitude a little with a plane that was transporting a goddamn chemical bomb. It fared a solid 14% on the Tomatometer.

In the new millennium and despite two previous commercial failures, there had to be one more way to capitalize on the thrill of hijackers at death-defying heights. The third installment to round out this disastrous trilogy of airplane suspense films, Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal was released to home the home video market fewer than four months prior to the events of 9/11, on May 13th, 2001. This time around, however, creators took lead from the trends of a post-Y2K America, with hopes of appeal to the youth’s dominant subcultures.

The DVD jacket copy reads:

Turbulence 3 brings a mid-air crisis crashing onto the Web and into the lives of millions of stunned Internet viewers when an airborne rock concert goes disastrously wrong.

Slade Craven - the rock superstar and reigning king of ‘Death Metal’ music has planned a farewell concert unlike anything the world has ever seen: He’ll be performing onboard a 747 jumbo jet as it flies from Los Angeles to Toronto. The entire spectacle will be broadcast live on Web music network ZTV - a first for the Internet and the TV industry.

Murder and mayhem take over as the flight is hijacked by a sadistic fan, who randomly starts killing anyone who gets in his way. Proving to be the ultimate white-knuckle fight for the passengers and millions of Web viewers, the aptly numbered Flight 666 continues off course and toward imminent disaster.


“Let’s do the hustle” is Slade Craven’s signature catchphrase
File under for fans of heavy (nu)metal, hackers, Satanism, cyberculture, reality television, and cheapo action films. The growing popularity of Marilyn Manson in the late 90s was (clearly!) a major influence on the film’s lead character of Slade Craven, considering that he is almost identical in nature to the Ohio-born, Florida-bred “God of Fuck.” But what happens when a devout follower of the Antichrist hopes to release the Dark Spirit by crashing his airborne farewell concert into an abandoned church (all while being streamed to ten million people on the Internet)? One FBI agent must put complete faith into a notorious criminal hacker to tap into the mainframe and land the plane safely via Flight Simulator. Sometimes even the “reigning king of Death Metal” needs to flip his cross right-side-up and pray for the safety of his fans.
Fasten your seatbelt. Watch Turbulence 3 in its stupid entirety after the jump…

Posted by Bennett Kogon
09:07 am
Meet the original Nirvana: A pioneering sixties psychedelic rock duo

In the early 1990s, there were a lot of people who were buzzed by thinking (and talking ad nauseam) about Chaos theory and the odd possibility that the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil could cause a tornado somewhere in Texas. Where exactly? No one was quite sure. But it all seemed utterly feasible until, that is, one considered the devastating effects of unguarded flatulence on the planet. What lethal twisters could a fart from Tullibody unleash upon Bridlington or even Land’s End?

Though it’s fair to say from small actions strange consequences can occur. For example, when Nirvana released their “ground-breaking,” “seminal,” “high-octane,” and “essential listening” album Nevermind to near global acclaim in 1991, I’d hazard a guess, Kurt Cobain and co. didn’t think they’d find themselves served with a lawsuit over infringement of the name “Nirvana.” But they did.

As it turned out, Nirvana was, in fact, the name of a “psychedelic rock pioneering” duo who had moderate success in the late 1960s with four albums and a few singles before splitting-up in the early seventies and then reforming in 1985.

This Nirvana consisted of Irish musician Patrick Campbell-Lyons and Greek multi-instrumentalist Alex Spyropoulos. The pair met in London’s La Giaconda coffee bar in 1965 (a young David Bowie also frequented the place). They hit it off big time and became almost inseparable over the next few years—spending their time together continuously writing songs, performing, and digging the groovy scene of the capital’s swinging sixties nightlife.

Campbell-Lyons and Spyropoulos became Nirvana. They were the core around which other sessions musicians did orbit. They signed to Chris Blackwell’s Island Records who released the band’s science-fiction concept album The Story of Simon Simopath in 1967.

The band at this point was supplemented by Ray Singer (guitar), Michael Coe (French horn and viola), Brian Henderson (bass), Peter Kester, David Preston, and Patrick Shanahan (drums), and Sylvia A. Schuster (cello).

A music press review at the time gave this album four stars and described the LP as “delightful,“tuneful,” “competent,” and “good listening.” While another review asked the prescient question “Nirvana is a rather nice name don’t you think?”
Nirvana—early album reviews 1967-68.
A second album, The Existence of Chance Is Everything and Nothing While the Greatest Achievement Is the Living of Life, and so Say ALL OF US (or simply All of Us) was released the following year. The problem of recreating the album sound in concert meant Campbell-Lyons and Spyropoulos had to call in extra musicians to play live.

All of Us spawned Nirvana’s biggest hit single “Rainbow Chaser” (#1 in Denmark, #34 in UK)—most recently sampled by teen hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks for their song “Dreamers” in 2012.

After the success of “Rainbow Chaser,” Nirvana were invited to collaborate in a performance with Salvidor Dali on a French television show, Improvisation On A Sunday Afternoon. Campbell-Lyons described what happened in an interview with journalist and writer Francis Wheen for the Observer newspaper in July 1994:

[Nirvana’s] brief was ‘to look and sound as psychedelic as possible’ which, with the aid of a few drugs, they managed with ease. Campbell-Lyons takes up the narrative:

‘We were one of four bands, each in a corner of the room, who were to perform pop, jazz, experimental and North African traditional music all through the show. The cream of Parisian society, artists, models, dancers and writers were used as ‘floaters’ to just wander around the room. On the walls hung gigantic prints of Mao, the late President JFK, Marilyn Monroe and Picasso, and a large wooden cross with Christ wearing a velvet robe. There was also an antique oak table, on which they placed a selection of the most expensive chocolates in beautiful gold boxes, and at the opposite end of the room was a sculpture, in bronze, of a picador. At its base were about 40 glass jars of paint and an assortment of brushes.’

When the show began, at 2pm, there was no sign of Dali. About 20 minutes later, as panic was beginning to set in, he made his entrance – ‘with two beautiful Bengalese tigers on a dual lead and, on each arm, ravishing twin blonde girls of about 18 years of age’. The great man was dressed in a bright red velvet suit, set off with dark red leather riding boots.

For the next two hours, while Nirvana and the other musicians worked through their repertoires, Dali hurled paint round the studio with surrealist abandon. By the end of the broadcast, everyone’s clothes and musical instruments were liberally spattered.

‘That afternoon,’ Campbell-Lyons concludes, ‘was, and still is, the high point of my performing days.’

His record company, Island, was rather less delighted: it wrote to the French TV company demanding damages and costs for cleaning the black paint off Nirvana’s cello.

After such a climax, anything else was bound to be a bit of a comedown.

Though Nirvana had deservedly won some success, unfortunately poor sales saw their deal with Island canceled and their third album To Markos III (which featured the song “Black Flower”) released on Pye Records in 1970.

Two further albums followed Local Anaesthetic (1972) and Songs Of Love And Praise (1973) before Spyropoulos quit the band and Campbell-Lyons continued on his own releasing Me And My Friend (1974). But that wasn’t the end of Nirvana. Campbell-Lyons and Spyropoulos got back together in 1985, writing songs and touring.

When another Nirvana emerged from Seattle, Campbell-Lyons and Spyropoulos were “none too pleased when they discovered the existence of Kurt Cobain’s band.”

As Francis Wheen described it in his interview with Campbell-Lyons:

[A] solicitor to the Musicians’ Union despatched a polite letter of protest on their behalf, but to no effect. Deciding that stronger firepower was needed, Campbell-Lyons flew to Los Angeles and hired a West Coast lawyer with the glorious name of Debbi Drooz to fling writs at Cobain and his record company.

After seven months of traipsing through Californian courts, the case was settled. He isn’t allowed to disclose the terms of the deal, but according to other sources Campbell-Lyons and Spyropoulos were paid $100,000 (minus Drooz’s 30 per cent fee).

Cobain also gave an undertaking not to trespass on their territory by dabbling in psychedelic rock. Not that this was likely to happen anyway.

The chorus of a typical Campbell-Lyons ditty runs thus: ‘He wants to be in love, he wants to be a butterfly/And he is flying high like the birds into the sky . . .’ It’s hard to imagine Kurt Cobain – whose songs have such titles as Rape Me and Gallons Of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through The Strip – wanting to ape that.

Though still peeved at having to share his group’s name – ‘Nirvana means something beautiful, but Cobain was making music out of the sadness and badness of his life’ – Campbell-Lyons has no particular animus against the Seattle band. ‘When I saw Cobain playing an acoustic guitar on MTV I thought he was brilliant. He had lovely chord shapes.

‘In fact,’ he adds, ‘we recorded one of their songs recently – Lithium. With a string quartet.’

After the out of court settlement, the original Nirvana considered recording an album of Nirvana (UK) singing songs by Nirvana (US). Cobain’s tragic suicide put paid to that idea.
See and hear more psychedelic delights from Nirvana, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
02:36 pm
The Revolution usually starts here: Photographs of Teenagers in their Bedrooms 1960-80s
11:12 am

The artist Eduardo Paolozzi once described the artist’s studio as a laboratory where experiments are carried out and chemicals react with each other to produce strange and unsteady alliances. A place where the artist’s personality spreads through the room’s collected detritus like some untreated fungal growth and creativity changes dramatically but generally for the better.

The same observation can be said for the teenager’s bedroom which is a similar site of experimentation and chemical reaction towards a creative sense of self. The teenage bedroom is where the revolution usually first starts between slammed doors and “You don’t understand me,” to music blaring at all hours of the day-and-night and the unrelenting desires of puberty.

These rooms tend to all end up looking the same with only the allegiances to content differing. The walls are usually decorated like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with a collage of posters featuring the fashionable pop star, movie actor, and sexy pin-up. While the books and albums which spread across shelf and floor suggest a search for taste and substance. This little selection of photos culled from here and there give a rather personal peek at the typical teenager’s life (and taste in interior design) from the early 1960s to late 1980s.
More ‘imperial’ bedrooms, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
11:12 am
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