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Classic covers from ‘The Monster Times’
09:08 am

Pop Culture


I couldn’t begin to tell you why The Monster Times failed in only four years. It seems like a great idea—a sci-fi/horror/comics tabloid newspaper with poster quality cover art? It’s not like horror fans are so small a niche, but the paper launched in New York in 1972 as a bi-weekly, then soon went monthly, then sporadic, until its quiet death in the summer of 1976, when an all-poster issue failed to revive its fortunes.

You can hardly blame it staffers for its demise—it was helmed by people who knew their business, veterans of The East Village Other, Famous Monsters of Filmland, and Screw. The result was a snarky, streetwise variation on Famous Monsters with deep coverage. But clearly the mag’s cult wasn’t enough to sustain it. Fangoria announced plans to revive the publication in 2009, but those plans were cancelled, along with plans to republish the original issues online. There’s a terrific and obsessively detailed rundown of the magazine’s history on Zombo’s Closet of Horror because of course there is. Back issues are findable on Amazon, mostly in the $15-$30 range, but can be had on eBay for under $10.


More Monster Times after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
You can buy two locks of Marilyn Monroe’s hair. Seriously.
08:53 am

Pop Culture


Few actors have come to symbolize glamor qua glamor for generations like Marilyn Monroe. Her icon status is unassailable, and was already pretty much cemented during her lifetime—basically a female Elvis; her pop culture penetration is such that one needn’t have even seen any of her movies to have her most iconic moments embedded in one’s consciousness. And if you seriously haven’t seen any of her movies, good lord, see The Misfits NOW. Her tragic suicide (drama addicted tinfoil hatters and Norman Mailer would say murder) by barbiturate overdose elevated her status—revelations of her troubled private life made her as relatable as Elvis’ hayseed roots made him—making her both the sex symbol that the studio system cultivated and a martyr to that status, a badge for the culture industry’s still ongoing reduction of women to objects of desire, leaving some of its most talented figures to struggle for respect in a milieu where the only currency is fuckability.

Due to her deification, trade in her image remains a brisk business over a half century after her death. The celebrated portraits of her by Andy Warhol adorn practically every consumer product that can be emblazoned with an image. And Monroe memorabilia need have only a tenuous connection to the icon to make waves—the replica of her Seven Year Itch dress worn by Willem Dafoe in a Snickers ad is expected to fetch thousands in Julien’s “Icons and Idols” auction this weekend.

But some memorabilia is significantly more, um, personal.
Lots 724 and 725 in the aforementioned auction are actual locks of Monroe’s hair. Their provenance is fairly compelling, if a bit creeperish—they came from the collection of one Frieda Hull, one of a group of six New Yorkers who basically made a hobby of stalking Monroe after her move there in the mid-‘50s. An astonishingly good sport about this, Monroe often posed for photos with and eventually befriended the group, known as “The Monroe Six,” even inviting them to the home she shared with her then-husband, playwright Arthur Miller. Can you even imagine that happening today? A clique of persistently invasive superfans would seem more likely to be assailed by goons than invited to the country for a picnic.

A lock of Marilyn Monroe’s blonde hair given to “Monroe Six” member Frieda Hull by one of Monroe’s hairdressers. The “Monroe Six” was a group of young fans based in New York City that frequently found out where Monroe would be through the press or by staking out her residence. The group became well known to Monroe who frequently posed for and with them in photographs.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
The Eighties will flash before your eyes with these covers from The Face magazine
09:59 am

Pop Culture


The Specials’ Jerry Dammers on the cover of The Face #1.
I had a weekend job in a small newsagents in Easter Road, Edinburgh, working behind the counter selling papers, magazines, cigarettes, sweets, ice cream and fizzy drinks. You got to know the customers by what they bought. The woman with the Pekinese who always ordered a quarter of Parma violets on a Sunday afternoon. The old drunk who chain smoked in the shop while waiting for the Saturday night sports final. The kids who thought I didn’t see them trying to steal penny chews when my back was turned. It was a fun job. I liked it. The people were good, the work was easy—if the hours long.

Every month a selection of magazines came in—some ordered for customers, some on spec. One month, a new magazine arrived. Glossy, bright, full of articles about music, film, books, politics and fashion. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. This was no cheap youth pop mag. It was well-produced, high quality, beautifully designed (by Neville Brody) with smart intelligent articles by a college of young, sassy writers—Julie Burchill, Charles Shaar Murray, Ian Penman, Paul Morley, and Stuart Cosgrove. The magazine was called The Face. I bought it and placed an order thereafter. This was in May 1980.

The Face was the pop culture magazine of the 1980s and 1990s. No other magazine (or weekly music paper) ever came close to the quality or content of The Face. It was edited by Nick Logan from a small office on Mortimer Street, London. Logan had previously been editor of the NME when he made that paper hip, relevant and essential reading. He then started Smash Hits based around a “vague notion of a kids’ pop magazine.” It proved to be massively popular. Its success allowed Logan to try out another idea—The Face.

The Face was the bible for most late teens-twentysomethings during the eighties. In 1983, I was editing a student magazine. This collegiate journal had been a languishing students’ poetry mag. Inspired by Logan—I reinvented it as a student version of The Face. I filled it with interviews featuring the Fun Boy Three, Annie Lennox, Blancmange, Aztec Camera, Spear of Destiny, The Young Ones, Julie Walters, Neil Jordan, Fay Weldon, Tony Marchant and anyone I thought might of interest to my fellow students. Of course, as a tip of the hat I had to interview Nick Logan, the man who inspired it all. I traveled on an overnight bus to London and arrived in the offices in Mortimer Street. This was how I described him back then:

Nick Logan was born thirty-five years ago in London. He was educated at Leyton Grammar School, London. He left school at the age of fifteen. He is a thin. Smartly dressed. Wears glasses. Not easily impressed—ambitious, modest, talented. An ideas man as much as a leader.

From school Logan worked as a reporter on a local paper, the Walthamstow Guardian. He worked there for five years turning his hand to everything “subbing, proofing, editing and layout” before joining the NME as a staff writer.

I wanted to know about The Face. Logan said:

“The Face is what I would have come up with if I’d had more time at NME. I mean we used to say, ‘What could we do if we owned the magazine?’

“The first issue was started on a kitchen table and half in the corner of somebody’s office. A part of it is still done at home. My house is full of bits and pieces of The Face. You can physically trip over it at home.

“My wife [Julie] looks after back issues, keeps the books, pays contributors.”

The Face had a small staff: only two full-time employees—Logan and Intro/Front Desk Leslie White. There was also designer Brody—who was responsible for “80% of the way The Face looked” and assistant editor Paul Rambali.

The Face was individualistic. It didn’t try to compete with the weekly music press.

“There would be little point in that anyway. What we try to do is offer an alternative view or take a different line on a subject which others might cover as well.

“What interests The Face is very much what interests the staff of The Face—though that’s not to say we approve (if that’s the right word) of everything we report on.”

Each issue took four weeks to produce. The first week the staff recovered “shell-shocked from finishing the last one” and started planning the next one. Features were commissioned by the second week. Then the layout began. During the third week pages were proofed, photos reversed.

“In the fourth week: I disappear to the typesetter in Kilburn so I don’t have the hassle of people coming in. Then Leslie and Paul come down and give a hand. It’s bloody hard work. I’ll finish about six. Eat. Go home and work till twelve or one. That’s when it gets particularly nasty. You’re no longer living. You feel totally worthless. Useless. You can say it’s only one week—-but doing it after 37 issues you feel really bad.

“The short-term ambitions are to get a few extra sales. get more ads. Get better features and photos. And more readers. It’s just been standing holding up the wall collapsing.”

It was all worth it. For The Face changed so many people’s lives. I know it changed mine.

Below is a selection of covers from the first 50 issues of The Face. Check out pages from The Face here.
Paul Weller #2.
Bryan Ferry #3.
More choice covers from the first 50 issues of The Face, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Meet the Father of Prog Rock
02:34 pm

Pop Culture


For some the question is Prog Rock—who’s to blame? But that’s more than a tad unfair. For at its heart Progressive Rock was about great musicianship—virtuoso players who played their instruments more like classical musicians than buskers. It may have been indulgent with endless noodling guitar solos, bass solos and eighteen-minute-long drum solos—but this should not detract from the high quality of musicianship which at the very least deserves tribute.

Most musical genres are born out the cross pollination of different musical styles. Usually there are one or two pioneers who can be credited with starting the whole thing off. In the case of Prog Rock that honor goes to one (not so very well known) Scot by the name of Billy Ritchie and his band 1-2-3.

Ritchie was born and raised in the small village of Forth—nestling midway between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Born the year of the D-Day landings, Ritchie started off his musical career playing harmonica as a boy. Coming from a working class family meant that owning a musical instrument was not one of life’s necessities. His talent as keyboard player may never have flourished had it not been for a neighbor throwing out an old piano. The piano was reclaimed and given a new home. Though in disrepair, Ritchie quickly taught himself to become a wizard on the ivories.

The facility with which he learned to play the piano made Ritchie think he was just an okay player. He didn’t fully appreciate his staggering musical talent as a pianist until he joined a band. While his fellow bandmates found it difficult to pick up on one of the more tricksy rock ‘n’ roll tracks—Ritchie could master the song—any song—after just one hearing.

He also had a great ability to improvise variations on any song—reinventing it as something altogether new. His talent for arrangement was to play a key part in the development of the Prog Rock gestalt. Another key was his choice of Hohner Clavinet as his preferred instrument. In the years of guitar bands no one played the organ and no one took the instrument seriously, but Billy Ritchie’s chosen keyboard (he later changed it to the Hammond organ) was another key influence in shaping the Prog Rock sound.
Ritchie played with various bands eventually joining The Satellites in the early 1960s. He then joined up with another group—The Premiers who become the Prog Rock pioneers 1-2-3 around 1966—and were later renamed Clouds in 1968.

In 2011, Prog Archives interviewed the band about their earliest beginnings:

When, where and by whom was Clouds started ? Did any of you, past and present Clouds members, play in any other bands before joining up in Clouds? Why did you choose that name?

In 1964, Ian (Ellis) and Harry (Hughes) were playing together in a group called ‘The Premiers.’ The line-up of the band was two guitars, bass, drums (Harry), and vocalist (Ian). The band decided to recruit an organist, and Billy (Ritchie) joined (1965). Billy had been playing in a band called ‘The Satellites.’ The organ was so obviously the leading instrument, it changed the dynamic of the band, the lead guitarist left, the band fragmented, leaving just Ian, Billy, and Harry, and we decided to start a new band together.

We wanted to do something different, and as there were only three of us, we decided to call the band 1-2-3, it seemed a hip name, and something different, like the band itself. It was only much later (the winter of 1967) that we became Clouds. The name was chosen by our new manager, Terry Ellis. He felt we needed a fresh start and a new name. We never liked the name, we preferred 1-2-3.

Usually keyboard players are situated to the side and back when a band perform live, but Ritchie rejected this formation. He wanted to play up front, center stage under the spotlight. He was also one of the first—if not the very first—to play keys standing up. Sure Jerry Lee Lewis played standing up but he alternated between standing and sitting and occasionally even jumping on the piano. Ritchie didn’t.

Back to the interview:

Not many people know this, but Clouds was one of the first bands who combined rock and classic music. If not the first band, that is. Other bands like The Nice, Genesis, Procol Harum, Yes and ELP followed suit. How did you get this idea and how did this idea really take off in Clouds?

1-2-3 was the earliest band to play that form of music. It was only later that this style became part of what would be called progressive rock. We were certainly the only band around the Marquee and London scene playing that form of music, though experimentation was beginning to take place in other ways. Cream, and Pink Floyd, are the other names that spring to mind, though all three of us were trying new music from different directions. It just so happens that our music seemed to find a branch of its own in progressive channels. The basic idea was rewritten versions of pop music songs, and it all sprang from Billy, who had a very radical approach to the arrangements. He took the view that anything was possible, and there were no barriers. The blueprint he used was the exact model that Yes used a year or so later.

Ritchie was taking songs by other artists—sometimes songs that had as yet not been recorded—and turned them into something different—something exciting. He took Paul Simon’s “America” before it was recorded in 1968 and rearranged it onto a jazz—rock—proto-Prog song. He did the same with David Bowie’s “I Dig Everything.”
More on the birth of Prog Rock with Billy Ritchie and 1-2-3, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Vince Taylor: The leather messiah who inspired Ziggy Stardust
11:41 am

Pop Culture


Everything  comes from something else.

David Bowie’s chance meeting with a faded rock star who thought he was Jesus Christ was the first of the building blocks that led to Ziggy Stardust.

Bowie was a teenage Mod fronting his band the Lower Third when he regularly bumped into Vince Taylor at the La Gioconda club in London. Taylor was an “American” rocker who had been a major star in France. By the time Bowie met him, Taylor was a washed-up acid casualty who had fried his brain after ingesting waaaaaay too much LSD.

Taylor was born Brian Maurice Holden in Isleworth, England in 1939. He was youngest of five children. In 1946, the family emigrated to New Jersey, where Taylor grew up on a diet of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent. When his sister Sheila dated Joe Barbera—one half of animation team Hannah-Barbera—the family moved to California.

Like millions of other young American teenagers, Taylor wanted to be a rock ‘n’ roll idol. His singing was so-so but he could do a good Elvis impersonation. Barbera offered to manage him. Through Barbera’s contacts Taylor got his first nightclub bookings singing rock standards with a band. He later joked he was only ever chosen to be the singer because of his teen heartthrob looks.

While rock ‘n’ roll was ripping the joint in America, Taylor was surprised to find that back in his birth country the biggest star was a toothsome all-round entertainer called Tommy Steele. With his boy-next-door looks and wholesome cheeky chappy banter, Steele was loved by both the moms and daughters across the land. Taylor figured if this was English rock ‘n’ roll, then he would clean-up with his Elvis routine.

(Sidebar: While Taylor clearly pinched Presley’s act, Elvis later pinched Taylor’s black leather look for his 1968 comeback show.)

When Joe Barbera traveled to London on business—he took Taylor with him. This was when Brian Holden adopted the name “Vince Taylor.” “Vince” from Elvis Presley’s character “Vince Everett” in Jailhouse Rock. “Taylor” from actor Robert Taylor.
Taylor adapted his stage act from Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis. He added a biker boy image—black leather jacket, pants, gloves, and winklepickers. He wore makeup and mascara. What he lacked for in voice, he made up in performance. Taylor was a wild man. Utterly unrestrained. His body jerked as if he’d been hit by 100,000 volts of electricity. He wiggled his hips and thrust his pelvis at the hormonal teenyboppers who screamed his name. He was sex on legs. Vulgar. Nasty. Every parent’s nightmare, every teenage girl’s pinup.

His early shows in England during the late fifties-early sixties brought him a record deal. He cut a few disc and wrote the classic song “Brand New Cadillac” (later recorded by the Clash). Taylor garnered mega column inches in the music press. But when he should have been heading to the top, Taylor sabotaged his own career by failing to turn-up for gigs. The reason? His jealousy.

Before a gig he would phone his girlfriend to check up on what she was doing. If she didn’t answer the phone—off Taylor would pop to hunt down his girl and the man he imagined she was with. This meant his backing band the Playboys often performed the gig without their iconic front man. This unreliability damaged Taylor’s reputation in England. The Playboys split-up and reformed around the band’s one consistent member—the drummer.

To make money to pay his debts, Taylor took a gig in Paris in 1961. He was bottom of the bill. Top of the bill was Wee Willie Harris (later immortalized in “Reasons to Be Cheerful—Part Three” by Ian Dury). Taylor was pissed with the billing. He decided to show the promoters who was King. During rehearsal for the show, Taylor gave one of his greatest most violent most outrageous performances. He was a rock ‘n’ roll animal. The promoters saw their error and gave Taylor top billing.

This gig made Taylor an overnight star in France.
More on the rock-n-roll ‘Naz(arene) with God-given ass,’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Entire print run of crucial post-industrial/apocalyptic folk magazine ‘The Fifth Path’ is now online
09:13 am

Pop Culture


The Fifth Path was a short-lived fanzine, produced sporadically between 1991 and 1994, that covered the post-industrial scene as well as the genre that later came to be known as “neofolk,” which was commonly referred to at the time as “apocalyptic folk” or “World Serpent” (after World Serpent Distribution who distributed most of the bands associated with this genre).

The magazine covered England’s Hidden Reverse type artists such as Death In June, Sol Invictus, Current 93, and Coil, as well as iconoclasts such as Boyd Rice, Feral House‘s Adam Parfrey, and former Church of Satan high-priestess, Zeena LaVey.

Lords of Chaos author, Michael Moynihan was a contributing writer to issue three and was an associate editor on issues four and five. The magazine’s founder and editor-in-chief, Robert Ward, died in 2004.

Web developer and collector Kenn Wilson has graciously uploaded all five issues of The Fifth Path to his personal website. Fred Berger, founder and editor of Propaganda Magazine, apparently donated the issues from his personal collection. Some of them are marked with his personal notes.

If you are a fan of this era and genre, these five issues are crucial reading.

You can download all five issues from Wilson’s website or follow these direct links here:

The Fifth Path: Issue One
Foetus Inc, Death in June, Robert Anton Wilson, Zeena LaVey, Jack Chick, Throbbing Gristle bootleg reviews, An Introduction to Urban and Wilderness Survival

The Fifth Path: Issue Two
Rozz Williams, Kodo, Skinheads in East Germany, live show reviews of Death in June, Current 93, Sol Invictus, Survival: Shelters and Tools

The Fifth Path: Issue Three
Boyd Rice, Sol Invictus, Freya Aswynn, Blood Axis, Yukio Mishima, Carl Orff, Skinheads in East Germany part II, Survival: Fire Starting Tools

The Fifth Path: Issue Four
Swans, Sol Invictus part II, Adam Parfrey, Crash Worship, The Electric Hellfire Club, Thomas Lyttle, Odinism in Heavy Metal

The Fifth Path: Issue Five
Fire + Ice, In the Nursery, Ordo Equitum Solis, Somewhere in Europe, David E. Williams, Will, Bathory, Odinism in Heavy Metal part II, Third World Black Magic Dictators

Via: Kenn Wilson

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Freaky and frightening latex masks of GG Allin, Booji Boy, Eddie the Head, André the Giant and more
09:02 am

Pop Culture


Booji Boy

Just in time for Halloween are these freaky as shit latex masks by Sikrik Masks. Each one is handmade and apparently the more notable faces you see here are officially licensed. From what I understand, the majority of the masks are limited editions, so get ‘em while you can.

My goal as an artist has always been to create works that I would want to own myself.  From my earliest memories I have always been fascinated by images and sounds that disturbed many of my peers. I find beauty in the macabre and bizarre. My works are a labor of love. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

You can visit Rik’s site for pricing and shipping information.

90s era GG


80s era GG
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Pinball machine featuring the Stones, Elton John, The Who, AC/DC, KISS and many more
10:17 am

Pop Culture


The pinball arcade was where the boys in leather jackets hung out. The guys into Heavy Metal, Hell’s Angels and books by Sven Hassel. That’s what I recall from growing up. The pinball machines were always situated at the far end of the arcade—past the lines of slot machines with itchy-fingered retirees spending their hard-earned cash and the whey-faced office clerks on their lunch break in off-the-peg suits and white socks.

In those days smoking was permitted indoors—so the back of the room where the pinball machines and the boys in denim and leather hung out was always thick with blue cigarette smoke. Just go down to the back of the room and inhale a few breaths—it saved you on the cost of buying smokes.

For some reason pinball machines were associated with being tough. I was never really quite sure why. Manliness and the ability to use flippers dexterously meant—obviously in some secret code I was unable to fathom—that you were a tough guy. These boys sneered at punk. Tolerated Prog. Hated Glam and Mod—which was strange as most liked Slade and The Who. What they did like was Black Sabbath. Deep Purple. Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. AC/DC. And The Rolling Stones—post 1968.

Their bravado was all front—like the flashing lights and bells of the pinball machines they played. The pinball was a totem for their nascent identity. In a few years time, some of these boys would be in their own off-the-peg suits playing slot machines during their lunch breaks.

Pinball has always had that macho outsider image—which probably explains why certain hard rockin’ bands and artistes have opted to merchandise their product through pinball machines.
More rock and pop pinball machines, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Incredible: Little girl boxes a tree like nobody’s business
12:31 pm

Pop Culture


Here’s a video of a little girl named Evnika boxing a tree into smithereens. She’s got some serious moves and she’s lightning fast! I’m damned certain she could beat me into a bloody pulp in seconds flat. I wouldn’t have a fighting chance against her (not like I go looking to fight little kids or anything, to be clear there!) She’s just that tough! 

As Geekologie points out, she’s like a cross between Eleven from Stranger Things and Die Antwoord’s Yolandi Visser.

What I want to know is how are her knuckles not completely destroyed?

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
A young Depeche Mode perform a slice of synthpop perfection on Swedish TV, 1982
10:38 am

Pop Culture


A few years ago there was a theory that Kraftwerk was the “most influential group in pop history.” The pitch goes something like this: The Beatles’ influence lasted about thirty-plus years while the electronica heralded by Kraftwerk continues to be of influence to this day. One of the chief proposers of this argument was Andy McCluskey from Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark who said:

When you listen to pop now, do you hear the Beatles, or do you hear electronic, synthetic, computer-based grooves?

It’s a moot point as nearly everything is electronic today. McCluskey clearly remembers the day he first heard the future of music—when Kraftwerk played the Liverpool Empire on September 11th, 1975. Though the venue was about half-full, this gig had far-reaching consequences. It was a starting pistol announcing the launch of bands like OMD, the Human League and Cabaret Voltaire who were to pioneer electronic music in Britain.

When OMD signed to Factory Records, McCluskey was utterly horrified when label supremo Tony Wilson said their music was the future of pop. OMD saw themselves (quite rightly in many respects) as creating serious artistic music. Though McCluskey vehemently disagreed at the time, Wilson has been proven right. Yet it wasn’t until Gary Numan, Visage, Soft Cell, and in particular Depeche Mode, could synthpop be said to have truly arrived.

Depeche Mode was originally a guitar band from Basildon, Essex called No Romance in China. It was formed by two schoolmates Vince Clarke and Andy Fletcher in 1977. The line-up changed as different members came and went until the band morphed into Composition of Sound with the arrival of Martin Gore on guitar.

When Clarke saw OMD in concert in 1980, he reinvented the group as wholly synthesizer-based band. With the addition of Dave Gahan on vocals, Depeche Mode were complete.

Clarke was the principal songwriter and main driving force behind the band. At the time he was working as a delivery driver for a lemonade company to pay for his synthesizer. They recorded a demo and hawked it around to different labels, yet, it wasn’t until Daniel Miller—head of the newly formed electronic record label Mute—saw Depeche Mode play a gig in London that he offered them a deal on the spot

Miller was one of the pioneers of electronic music. As The Normal he released two seminal singles “T.V.O.D.” and the J.G. Ballard-inspired “Warm Leatherette.” One of the reasons he offered Depeche Mode a contract—apart from the obvious synthpop association—was the fact people at the gig weren’t watching the band play, but dancing joyously to their songs.

Watch Depeche Mode perform, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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