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80s ‘Superfans’ talk about their obsessions for Bowie, Boy George, Duran Duran & Elvis
04.26.2017
09:46 am
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Superfans in the sixties.
 
I don’t suppose I fit the requirements to be called a superfan, well, unless you count having a cheeky wank to a Kate Bush video when I was much younger. Probably not. But I did once (all too briefly) date a tall blonde David Bowie superfan, who probably only ever went out with me because of my passable impression of the Thin White Duke. My vocal dexterity was convincing enough for this dear sweet girl to demand I serenade her with one or two of her favorite Bowie songs during our more intimate moments. I knew it could never last. There was only so long I could sing “The Laughing Gnome” without losing my ardor.

Back in January 1984, Smash Hits music magazine went in search of a selection of typical eighties superfans. They discovered a band of girls and boys who had an overwhelming passion for all things Bowie, Presley, Duran Duran, Culture Club, Madness, Staus Quo, and even Marillion. These young things gave some sweet and occasionally strange answers as they tried to explain exactly what it means to be a “superfan.” Their answers were compiled into a strange format—as if the writer was attempting to cram in as many words as possible into one sentence without thought for punctuation or even explaining who exactly was talking (Me). But that’s not so important as we do get to hear what it meant to be young(-ish) and obsessed with music in the 1980s.
 
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Smash Hits 5-18 January 1984.
 
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DURAN FANS

NAMES: TRACY PARKES & KIM GREVILLE
AGES: 15 & 14
HOME: BIRMINGHAM

“I (Tracy) liked them when they first came out. She talked me (Kim) into going on Duran Duran ‘cause I liked Dexys. She told me to take down all my DMR stuff, give it away and stick up Duran Duran. We have about the same amount of stuff. Tracy has more scrapbooks but I’ve got more on the wall—about 50 different things. We don’t get anything. We only get things if we like them. If it’s a really gonkified pic of Simon le Bon we won’t get it. You don’t put gonks on your wall do you? There’s sort of levels of being a fan. We’ve got a friend who is a real fan but we think she prefers football. She only puts up little pictures on her wall. Even if we see a little one when we’re walking up the street, we’ll be screaming. There was one time she went totally mad on Wham!. We didn’t talk to her for about three days. Then suddenly she went back to Duran. All the lost Duran Duran fans are Wham! fans. We visit Roger’s mum and we’ve been up to Nick and John’s parents’ houses. The first time we went to Roger’s we interviewed his mum for a school project and we found out a few facts that no-one else knew. She told us he was tone deaf and that his favourite toy was a glove puppet. And that his favourite meal is Welsh Rarebit. We’ve been up twice now. No three times. The last time she invited us. His dad was there decorating. We had our pictures took with his dad, his mum and the dog. I think people who go mad and sleep on the grass outside are cruel. OK, you might see him but he isn’t going to ask you out and that is what a lot of fans expect. Some of the girls say they are going to meet John Taylor one day. He’s going to swirl them round to the dinner table—with chocolates and everything—and ask them to marry him. We know that isn’t going to happen. I (Tracy) would love to be in one of their videos. Yeah (Kim), even if we were only standing at the bus stop. Anything. The only thing we have in common is that we’re Duran Duran fans. I’m (Tracy) quiet; she’s noisy. I (Kim) say the wrong things; she doesn’t”

 
More superfans discussing their love of Staus Quo, Madness, Elvis Presley and David Bowie, after the jump….

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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04.26.2017
09:46 am
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Beware the dangers of the mosh pit: A look back
04.25.2017
01:20 pm
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Originally referred to as “slam dancing,” moshing began to take form thanks to the chaotic environment of hardcore punk in the early 1980s. The DC and Southern California scenes featured bands like Bad Brains and Black Flag who brought a new level of energy and attitude to your average rock gigs. Instances like the Circle Jerks’ appearance on the Decline of the Western Civilization I or Fear‘s noteworthy performance on Saturday Night Live might have been the mainstream’s first glimpse at the sport. Now you can’t go to see (most) concerts without seeing a mosh pit. 

Love it or hate it, much of the fad can be attributed to the musical diversity of the 1990s. Not only was hardcore punk many stages evolved by now, but metal had also fully blossomed and gone mainstream. We also had rap-rock, grunge, industrial, and nu-metal dominating the charts. The mosh was now more than just an act of aggression. It was a movement. And stage diving and crowd surfing were now a “thing.”

Suddenly, the pit became dangerous. People started getting hurt. like in the circle pits at Woodstock ‘99. Thrashers at Lamb of God shows. The so-called Wall of Death at Ozzfest. Parents got concerned. And then (naturally) the media got concerned.too. Today we are able to revisit these reactions on the Internet with some hindsight.

After the jump, explore some 90s newscasts that depict a dangerous world of aggression, injury, and a mosh pit…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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04.25.2017
01:20 pm
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The Magnificent Seven: Watch Madness in their autobiographical film debut ‘Take It or Leave It’
04.25.2017
10:50 am
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In 1981, Madness the greatest septet since The Magnificent Seven—no, not that crappy remake, the original with Yul Bryner—starred in their very own feature film Take It or Leave It.

Now, Take It or Leave It is not the catchiest of titles I know, but one, I suppose, that reflects the band’s attitude to whether you like their music or not….or even if you like this movie. Or not.

Thankfully—nearly everyone in the whole wide world loves them some Madness so this film could have been called Pig Fuckers from Hell and millions would still have queued to catch a glimpse of their heroes. Mind you, I suppose that’s not really saying much as millions would probably queue to go and see a film called Pig Fuckers from Hell even if Madness had nothing to do with it, or at least watch it on their laptops—I know I would.

And don’t go by that Nouvelle Vague-looking poster above, the original poster was the Nutty Boys draped with reels of shiny celluloid and surrounded by cans of film all against a dazzling red background—which probably gives a better flavor of what this film is all about.
 
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The original movie poster.
 
Anyway.

What is this thing all about?

Well. If you’ve ever wondered what’s it like to be in a band or ever considered the strange quirks of fate and character that bring together a group of disparate talents to form a band in the first place, then this film will answer your questions.

Take It or Leave It is a very likable comic docudrama that tells the story of seven individuals who manage to come together through trial, error, hard work and ambition to form a band called Madness. Rather than have some young look-alikes play the band members, Madness step up to the mark and play themselves from earliest beginnings in 1976 to all-out success in 1981.

It looks almost like a documentary and includes some exceptional footage of the boys playing gigs in local pubs and clubs with quite a few tracks that haven’t been or were not released until very recently. The story as such is a series of episodic scenes telling the story of Chris Foreman, Lee Thompson, Mike Barson, Suggs, Dan “Woody” Woodgate, Mark Bedford, and Chas Smash—the fine bunch of wayward characters who together make up Madness. There was a script of sorts but there was also a fair bit of ad-libbing. Some of these scenes were true and some were not—like Chris didn’t work at the post office but it kinda felt right and is a funny scene. The acting gets better as the movie goes on and by the end, I was thinking, their acting is so much better now than at the beginning that this is where maybe they should have reshot the first part of the film.

But wait.

The acting’s not the important thing here. What is important about Take It or Leave It is that it’s probably the best music film ever made about being in a band. It’s like a cinéma vérité counterpoint to that seventies rock classic Flame which starred Slade. Both of these movies presented a side to the music business too often excised at the script stage or removed by producers during the edit. Add into this fine mix an album’s worth a classic Madness tracks, then the whole thing is a bit of a joy to watch.
Watch Madness in ‘Take It or Leave It,’ after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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04.25.2017
10:50 am
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Paperback to the Future: Best of British science-fiction covers from the 1950s
04.25.2017
10:50 am
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The back story of Britain in the fifties reads like the checklist for a Star Wars script. The war is over, the Empire is dying and the New World Colonies are slowly taking over. Many British pulp sci-fi writers had only to look out of their windows at the bomb-torn urban landscape to find inspiration. Just like George Orwell who used his knowledge of the everyday world of rationing, deprivation, and squalor in 1948 and a little of his time working at the BBC in Room 101 to color his novel 1984.

There were—to put it simply—two schools of thought in sci-fi at the time: write about what you know (or more likely your obsessions) as seen thru the prism of science-fiction, or write space age fantasies about exploration of the stars and seeking out new worlds and life forms as a topical metaphor for contemporary tropes about empire, war, and civilization. 

Both of these were pretty much the mainstay of a whole range of short-lived British science-fiction magazines that flourished between 1950-56. These wonderfully lurid-covered magazines featured work by John Rackham (aka John T. Phillifent), Volsted Gridban (aka E. C. Tubb) and Vargo Statten whose name became the masthead for one popular sci-fi magazine of the day later retitled to the British Science Fiction Magazine. Statten was just one of the many pseudonyms used by the prolific writer and editor John Russell Fearn, who together with Tubb and Phillifent produced the bulk of work for Britain’s golden years of science-fiction magazines before these ‘zines were sadly snuffed out by the flood of comics, movies, and television programs from the USA.

Afterwards, Fearn continued to write sci-fi and crime novels. Tubb became famous for his space opera Dumarest of Terra and writing a series of novels based on Gerry Anderson’s Space 1999. Phillifent went onto write a library of sci-fi novels and a few novelizations for The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Most of the covers featured below from Vargo Statten, Tit-Bits Science Fiction and Scion publishing are the work of the brilliant artist and illustrator Ron Turner who supplied artwork, illustrations and comicstrips for Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and the Daleks.
 
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More gorgeous British sci-fi covers, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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04.25.2017
10:50 am
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‘Bowie, Bolan, dressing up & going out’: Boy George takes a personal trip through the 1970s
04.21.2017
09:31 am
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September 1982: Hit rock ‘n’ roll singer Shakin’ Stevens can’t make his scheduled appearance on BBC chart show Top of the Pops. Panicked producers make the life-changing decision to fill the gap left by Shaky with an unknown pop group by the name of Culture Club. Minutes after the band’s debut television appearance on the show, phones start ringing at the BBC switchboard asking What the hell did we just watch?. Next day, newspapers run similar stories filled with offensive mock outrage questions: “Who is Boy George?” “Is he a boy or a girl?” Within weeks, Culture Club was number one and Boy George was the nation’s sweetheart.

But how did it come to this? Where did Boy George come from? What shaped the life of this brilliant, iconic “gender-bending” singer?

Well, these are some of the many questions answered by the lad himself as Boy George aka George O’Dowd takes the viewer on a very personal pop culture trip through the decade that shaped him—the 1970s.

The seventies are all too often dismissed by the more, shall we say, snobbish cultural critic as “the decade that fashion forgot,” ridiculed for its supposedly bad taste in fashion, politics, sex, music and hair. Yet for Boy George, the seventies was a “glorious decade…all about Bowie, Bolan, dressing up and going out.” The “last bonkers decade,” when the young teenage George discovered all these “amazing things… punk rock, electro music, fashion, all of that.”

Of course, there was the downside to all of this heady excitement: the political crisis, the three-day working weeks, the strikes, power cuts, mass unemployment, grim poverty, and racism. But George was too young to know much about any of this. He was too busy finding out about music and glamor and miming to Shirley Bassey in his parent’s front room. He was about to hit puberty. He felt different from the other kids and was looking for a sign that he was not alone in this gray suburban south London landscape.

Then came the sign he’d been hoping for: the day he saw David Bowie performing on Top of the Pops in 1972. That’s when George knew he wasn’t alone. The androgynous Bowie in his fire-red hair, make-up, and jumpsuit with his nail polished hand slung defiantly over Mick Ronson’s shoulder as they sang “Starman.” This was a sign that life could be extraordinary and was just an adventure to be gained.

Save Me from Suburbia is more than just Boy George telling his life story, it is an essential history of the events and pop culture that shaped a nation during ten heady years from skinheads and strikes to punk and Margaret Thatcher. George takes us on an utterly fascinating tour through the decade with a little help from his friends and accomplices like Rusty Egan, Princess Julia, Martin Degville (Sigue Sigue Sputnik), Andy Polaris (Animal Nightlife), and Caryn Franklin—and most revealingly his mother.
 
Watch Boy George’s revealing pop culture trip through the 1970s, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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04.21.2017
09:31 am
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Oh, you pretty thing! Polaroid portraits of Andy Warhol in drag
04.20.2017
09:07 am
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Andy Warhol in drag taken with a polaroid camera.

Back in 2013 auction house Christie’s sold off 62 of Andy Warhol’s Polaroid photos for the tidy sum of $978,125. Fifteen of the Polaroids were of objects such as shoes and Absolute Vodka. Another 37 of the shots in the group were portraits taken by Warhol that he would then use to create silkscreens of his famous friends and muses like Grace Jones or Jean-Michael Basquiat. In a fascinating (at least to me) analysis done by Exhibition Inquisition, it appears that Andy’s Polaroids of women sold for vastly less than their famous male counterparts—by an approximate margin of $7,000. Even in the art game, us girls can’t seem to get a fair shake. Who knew?

Exhibition Inquisition also broke down Warhol’s “top ten” selling Polaroid portraits which included some of the artist closest acquaintances like Debbie Harry and Dennis Hopper. Farrah Fawcett also made it into the top ten as well as former governator of California Arnold Schwarzenegger and Muhammad Ali.

Now let’s discuss the topic of this post—Warhol’s drag self-portraits which were taken in the early 80s. In this series, we see Warhol in full make-up and bombshell red lipstick wearing a variety of different wigs from a smart, short black bob to full-on, teased-up heavy metal hair and black eyeliner. Here’s more on the creative process that got Andy ready for his closeup as a girl from the Getty Museum’s website:

Andy Warhol enjoyed dressing for parties in drag, sometimes in dresses of his own design. He admired “the boys who spend their lives trying to be complete girls,” so in 1981 he and a photographic assistant, Christopher Makos, agreed to collaborate on a session portraying Warhol in drag. In many ways, they modeled the series on Man Ray’s 1920s work with the French artist Marcel Duchamp, in which the two artists created a female alter ego name Rrose Sélavy for Duchamp.

Warhol and Makos made a number of pictures, both black-and-white prints and color Polaroids, of their first attempt. For the second round of pictures, they hired a theater makeup person. This stage professional better understood the challenge of transforming a man’s face into that of a woman. After the makeup, Warhol tried on curled, straight, long, short, dark, and blonde wigs.

Warhol might not have been the most attractive fella (or dame) but he knew how to give great “face” and his drag self-portraits are absolutely mesmerizing. Curiously, they are not as covetable to collectors as one might think. Warhol’s selfies out-of-drag have sold for far greater sums that his drag portraits. And it seems that the most covetable Polaroid images of Andy are the ones that were taken of the pop culture icon in his famous “fright wig” (you know, this look) which have sold at auction for $50 grand apiece. I’ve included the drag Polaroids of Andy below for you to check out. Warhol’s Polaroids can be seen in the wonderful, well worth owning 2015 book, Andy Warhol: Polaroids.
 

 

 

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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04.20.2017
09:07 am
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Girls just wanna be punk: Early recordings and demos by the Go-Go’s
04.19.2017
03:46 pm
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An early single by the Go-Go’s on Stiff Records.
 

AMERICA AND THE MUSIC INDUSTRY, meet the Go-Go’s: International, Filthy Rich, Jet-Setting Rock- and Screen-Star Bitch Goddesses

Rolling Stone journalist Steve Pond being very, very right about the Go-Go’s back in 1982.

 
Easily the most famous all-girl band in the world, the Go-Go’s played a hugely influential role in the emerging punk/new wave scene in Los Angeles. In the late 1970s before they became the Go-Go’s they called themselves the Misfits despite the fact that the name was already taken by a group of muscle-bound horror punks in New Jersey led by a certain Glenn Danzig. Belinda Carlisle was unsurprisingly a cheerleader in high school in her hometown of Conejo Valley, but that all allegedly changed after she saw the half-naked image of Iggy Pop on the cover of the Stooges’ 1973 album, Raw Power. At nineteen Carlisle left home with her pal Theresa (aka the future “Lorna Doom” of the Germs) bound for Hollywood. Once the Germs were born Carlisle did a brief stint with them playing the drums and calling herself “Dottie Danger.” She and Doom dropped acid, Carlisle did some modeling and in her autobiography Lips Unsealed: A Memoir she confesses to having had a make out session with Alice Bag.

Prior to getting with the Go-Go’s timekeeper Gina Schock was drumming for John Waters’ star Edith Massey and her punk band Edie and the Eggs. Before rhythm guitarist Jane Wiedlin joined the band, she was a seamstress in a sweatshop in downtown Los Angeles who preferred crystal meth to coffee so she wouldn’t fall asleep on the job. While at her day-job Wiedlin would use the paper that the sewing patterns were printed to write her punk poems, parts of which would make their way to the band’s albums. Wiedlin and Carlisle ended up living across the way from each other (Carlisle was rooming with Lorna at the time) and their friendship would eventually lead them both to the Go-Go’s.

When the band started playing gigs around town it didn’t go unnoticed. They partied as hard as their male counterparts, did tons of coke, popped pills and excelled at the rock ‘n’ roll 101 skill of destroying hotel rooms. Early on their gigs were kind of a hot mess. Their first set was opening for the Dickies at LA punk club, the Masque. For a short time, the band was just a trio comprised of Wiedlin (who was going by the gonzo name of “Jane Drano”), Margot Olavarria on bass and with Carlisle front and center on vocals. According to Olavarria even though they really didn’t have a clue as to what they were doing it really didn’t matter because at the time there was “no shame in being a horrible musician.” In another punk rock six-degrees of separation type moment worth noting, Olavarria found out she had been given the boot by Belinda and her bandmates from none other than Exene Cervenka of X. The reason for Olavarria’s dismissal was said to have stemmed from her getting pinched by the po-po trying to score some cocaine. Oh, the shifty-eyed, typewriter-jaw irony that is two coke-heads accusing another coke-head of doing something shady. Tisk tisk.
 

Jane Wiedlin.
 
The then very new Stiff Records had the girls make a bunch of great recordings including a single that you may have heard of before called “We Got the Beat.” Their early recordings and demos are not only really fucking good but are a real scream to listen to if you’ve never heard them for some of the in-studio banter between the band members. Later I.R.S. head-honcho Miles Copeland (the brother of Police drummer Stewart Copeland) came calling and signed the Go-Go’s and they embarked upon making their first record which they had always envisioned as a punk record. I.R.S. was already a home away from home for other punks like The Cramps, The Damned and The Fleshtones. But the production team behind Beauty and the Beat of Rob Freeman and Richard Gottehrer had other ideas. Beauty and the Beat was miraculously completed in three weeks while the party animal antics of the Go-Go’s terrorized New York City and Penny Lane Studios. When the girls first heard the record they were pissed off. Go-Go’s guitarist Charlotte Caffey said she and the rest of the band and even cried while listening to it the first time. It wasn’t a punk album, it was pure pop perfection (Which is a good enough reason to shed a few tears if you ask me). They went over Gottehrer’s head and appealed directly to Miles Copeland to have the record remixed. Copeland refused and the album, which was released in 1981, would go down in history as one of the most successful debut albums by a band in history.

I’ve included a few choice photos of the band from their early days as well as various songs, demos and recordings of the band rehearsing back before they became America’s sweethearts in the early 80s. If it’s been a while since you’ve thought about the Go-Go’s, I hope this shines a light on the fact that they were pretty much the best and deserve way more credit (as many female musical artists do) for the deeply impactful mark they made. And that my friends is a goddamned fact.
 

Belinda in a Germs t-shirt back in the day.
 

 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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04.19.2017
03:46 pm
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Classic love and heartbreak songs illustrated in the style of Stephen King horror paperbacks
04.18.2017
10:12 am
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Artist Butcher Billy took iconic love and heartbreak songs and reimagined them as if they were Stephen King horror novels. They’re actually quite amusing and it works, in my opinion. The title of this series is called “Stephen King’s Stranger Love Songs.”

I may never listen to these sappy songs the same way again as I’ll have these horror-like visuals in my head from now on.

Prints and t-shirts of Butcher’s work are available through Redbubble.

A post shared by Butcher Billy (@thebutcherbilly) on

 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Tara McGinley
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04.18.2017
10:12 am
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The Sex Pistols, The Clash and Siouxsie and the Banshees on early TV documentary ‘Punk’ from 1976
04.18.2017
08:46 am
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There had been a killing. But no one was quite certain where it had happened or where the body was hidden. Maybe it was in the library bludgeoned with a lead pipe? Or sprawled across the conservatory floor throttled by some rope? The press carried snippets. People were shocked by the news. How could this happen on our streets? How could this happen to our children when Abba was still number one? There was outrage. There was fear. There was a dread that this was only the beginning of far greater horrors to come.

They were right.

In some ways, it was a mercy killing. It had to happen. It was inevitable. It was putting the poor beast out of its misery. The old horse was now lame and blind and in constant pain and could barely perform its act. Yet still, they wheeled it out for one more turn for the rich people to ride and clap and cheer while the old nag bravely tried to canter around the ring.

But the children turned away. They wanted something different.

There had been noises of strange new things going on for months. Small signs in venues all across London. A growing sense that something had to change. The old horse was dead and the business was out of touch with its audience. The kids wanted something to happen.

A band called the Sex Pistols were playing gigs in and around London. Promoter Ron Watts saw them rip up the joint at a gig in High Wycombe in early 1976. It was like nothing he’d ever seen before. This was the start of the future. This was what everyone was waiting for. He booked the band to appear at the legendary blues and jazz 100 Club in London. He organized a weekend festival called The 100 Club Punk Special for September 20th and 21st, 1976. The line-up was the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Damned, the Buzzcocks, Subway Sect, Stinky Toys and Chris Spedding & the Vibrators.
 
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Sex Pistols poster for the 100 Club Punk Special, September 1976.
 
When the Sex Pistols hit the stage, everything changed. “In one night,” Watts later wrote in his autobiography Hundred Watts: A Life in Music, “punk went from an underground cult to a mass movement.”

The Sex Pistols had killed off one generation’s music and announced something new.

...[T]his was the big one, the first day of a new era. Nothing could compare with it either before or since.

Onstage, Johnny Rotten was “insulting, cajoling everyone in the room, his eyes bulging dementedly as he made the audience as much a part of the show as the band.” The group tore through their set to a thrilled and enthusiastic audience. The Clash played their set, while Siouxsie and the Banshees had improvised a set around “The Lord’s Prayer.” A week later, a crowd 600 deep formed a line at the door of the 100 Club.
 
Watch the Sex Pistols, Clash and Siouxsie in “Punk,” after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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04.18.2017
08:46 am
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‘Happy happy joy joy!’: Hyper-realistic Ren & Stimpy masks
04.14.2017
10:23 am
Topics:
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Andrew Freeman of Immortal Masks made these insanely detailed Ren & Stimpy masks! The only word I can think of for these is “grotesque.” I simply cannot get over how real they look. They’d give me nightmares if I owned them.

The masks made their debut at the fabled Monsterpalooza convention last weekend. Bravo.


 

 

 
via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley
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04.14.2017
10:23 am
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