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Bill Hicks’ ‘Arizona Bay’: With unreleased material—and without the terrible music
08:05 am


Bill Hicks

In 1997, when Rykodisc gave wide commercial release to the work of the deceased comic visionary/cosmic truth-seeker Bill Hicks, two of those releases heavily featured his guitar playing as well as his comedy. This was in accordance with Hicks’ expressed wishes, and the albums were in fact completed and mixed before Hicks’ passing. Those two albums, Rant in E Minor and Arizona Bay, included some of the most brutal material Hicks ever performed. They were completed after he was diagnosed with the cancer that claimed his life at the age of 32, and they are accordingly unsparing in their vitriol. And it was in vitriol that Hicks singularly excelled.

Just one problem, though: Hicks’ guitar playing was, at best, middling amateur psych noodling. It’s not a problem on Rant, where the guitar work mostly drifts dreamily in and out of the stand-up material like trippy segues, and if you don’t know Hicks, the body of work collected on that CD is an excellent place to start. But on Arizona Bay? The music was a terrible, Dunning-Krugerish miscalculation that just flat out WRECKED the album. Lengthy passages of comedy were entirely buried under too-loud guitar wank, rendering some of Hicks’ best stand-up work completely inaudible.

The album, insofar as it could be heard, was dark. The title refers to a hypothetical body of water that will be left behind someday after the San Andreas Fault submerges California and Baja. Not that Arizona’s such a fucking prize, but there are plenty of people who can relate to really, really hating L.A.:

That’s right, when L.A. falls in the fucking ocean and is flushed away, all it will leave is Arizona Bay.

In recent months, the record label/streaming platform/production company Comedy Dynamics (a worthy channel to add if you have a Roku device, seriously) have been working to make the complete recorded works of Bill Hicks available to the public (we told you all about it back in April), and the latest drop in that bucket is the forthcoming digital reissue of Arizona Bay, with loads of additional tracks and, most crucially, no music. Last week, the AV Club released one of the additional tracks, “No Smoking On Airplanes (But They Allow Children).”

And Comedy Dynamics have been kind enough to allow DM to bring you a never before heard version of one of Hicks’ most oft-quoted bits, “Marketing and Advertising.” This is his infamous call for everyone in the publicity industry to commit suicide. Like I said, the album is really, really dark. (I feel I should note here the irony that I might not have heard much of Hicks’ work as early as I did if not for the efforts of Ryko’s marketing department.)

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Florida cop fired for singing anti-Christian song at a death metal show, was gonna quit anyway
10:57 am


death metal
Police Brutality
Vital Remains

A Sanford, Florida police officer was relieved of duty after video surfaced this week of him singing, while uniformed, onstage with death metal band Vital Remains.

It was reported that Officer Andrew Ricks attended the Vital Remains concert in uniform on November 13th and joined the band on stage to sing “Dechristianize.”

There seemed to be some degree of public outrage over the song’s lyrics, which include the line: “Let the killing begin.”

Police chief Cecil Smith stated in a report that:

“An incident of this nature erodes the thin fibers of trust which already exist between the community and the police, and it will not be tolerated within the Sanford Police Department.”

Officer Ricks had worked for the department for six years without incident.

The twist to the story is that Officer Ricks had already submitted a letter of resignation from the department on October 30th, with a pending separation date of November 20th. The department became aware of the “singing incident” on Novemebr 17th and proceeded to fire him only days before his scheduled final day on the force—perhaps qualifying him for unemployment? Considering how many cops got to keep their jobs after shooting unarmed people, termination for growling along with a death metal band seems just a tiny bit extreme, but it seems Ricks was already done with the job.

Anyway, it looks from the video like Officer Ricks is having the time of his life:


Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Behind the scenes of ‘Taxi Driver’

Art by Guy Peellaert

Paul Schrader wrote the screenplay for Taxi Driver in about ten days. He was 26 years old. He wrote continuously, intuitively, from the gut—not like screenwriters today who write for a market, an audience, a paycheck. Schrader had been living in his car, parked at night on off-roads and empty, anonymous LA streets. One day, he was agonizing pain and was admitted to A&E. An ulcer had gone bad. When answering the questions of date, birth, allergies and such asked by a nurse, Schrader realized he hadn’t spoken to anyone in over three weeks. That’s when he got the idea for Taxi Driver:

It really hit me, an image that I was like a taxi driver, floating around in this metal coffin in the city, seemingly in the middle of people, but absolutely, totally alone.

The taxicab was a metaphor for loneliness, and once I had that, it was just a matter of creating a plot: the girl he wants but can’t have, and the one he can have but doesn’t want. He tries to kill the surrogate father of the first and fails, so he kills the surrogate father of the other. I think it took ten days, it may have been twelve – I just wrote continuously. I was staying at an old girlfriend’s house, where the heat and gas were all turned off, and I just wrote. When I stopped, I slept on the couch, then I woke up and I went back to typing.

The script kicked around Hollywood until Martin Scorsese picked it up. Then it was filmed with hardly any of Schrader’s original script being changed—it was only added to by the sheer bloody brilliance of Scorsese’s direction and the perfectly pitched, disturbingly real performance by Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle. I’ve watched Taxi Driver about 50 times—and with each viewing appreciate something new and different about it—it’s one of those very, very rare films that gets better with every viewing. How it didn’t clean up at the Oscars is still one of those great unexplained mysteries, as it was the best American film of the 1970s. In 1980, the trio of Scorsese, De Niro and Schrader reunited to make the greatest American movie of the 1980s Raging Bull—which similarly should have won all eight of its Oscar nominations.
Screenwriter Paul Schrader with Scorsese and De Niro.

Personnel Officer: How’s your driving record? Clean?
Travis Bickle: It’s clean, real clean. Like my conscience.

More photos of Bob, Marty, Cybil, Jodie & Harvey, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
20th Century Boy: Photos of a nearly unrecognizable ‘mod’ Marc Bolan from the early 60s
09:26 am


Marc Bolan

A young Marc Bolan (age 18 in 1965)
A young Marc Bolan (age 16 or 17)
Before he became known as the “Marc Bolan” we all know and still love (you know - the guitar-wielding god-of-glam done up with eyeliner and with tons of hair?), Bolan was still going by his birth name “Mark Feld,” and resembled Donovan more than his soon-to-be bonafide rockstar self. 
Marc Bolan (or Mark Feld) age 15 modeling as a
Marc Bolan (who was still using his birth name of “Mark Feld”) at age fifteen modeling as a “John Temple Boy” in 1962 (far right)
A young Marc Bolan (mid-60s)
A young Marc, early to mid-60s
When he was just fifteen, Bolan did a little modeling as a “John Temple Boy,” (for John Temple menswear) sporting a short, mod haircut and Savile Row-style clothing. A far cry from his future, super-glammy “I’m gonna suck you” look that Bolan would go on to cultivate during his days with T.Rex. Even the publicity photos for Bolan’s first single with Decca, 1965s “The Wizard” feature a nearly unrecognizable short-haired version of Bolan.

In the 2001 book, Glam Musik: British Glam Music ‘70 History, Bolan’s future publicist Keith Altham said Marc would frequently walk into a bar called the Brewmaster with his new record in tow proclaiming that he was going to be “the greatest thing since Elvis Presley.” And he sure wasn’t wrong about that bit. Loads of photos of a young Marc Bolan (many of which were taken in the early to mid-60s), follow.
Marc Bolan with short hair and guitar
A young Marc Bolan (mid-60s)
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Visionary artist and genius Paul Laffoley has died
07:03 pm


Paul Laffoley


“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be . . .  “

Henry David Thoreau

I knew this day was coming, and now that it’s here, it absolutely sucks as much as I thought it would: It is with great sadness that I report that the great genius artist and thinker Paul Laffoley is dead. He was 75.

A few weeks ago I got an email from my close friend Douglas Walla, Paul’s longtime gallerist letting me know that Paul had a heart attack and was in the hospital in Boston and that I might want to give him a call. Like immediately. I did and we spoke for about an hour, mostly chit-chat about his health and his upcoming book and then we talked about the architecture at the University of Cincinnati’s campus. He coughed like crazy—really, really HARD coughs that rattled his chest, I could practically feel the spittle hitting my eardrum through the telephone. Apparently he’d coughed so hard that he’d given himself a heart attack.

The problem was, this hacking cough was something, that he’d been, as he put it, “working on my entire life.” The cough was a permanent condition, in other words, it wasn’t going to go away. Already in poor health for many years—he had an amputated leg, diabetes and heart problems—the combination of this persistent HARD cough and congestive heart failure was the kind of “Catch 22” that meant he wasn’t going to be long for this world.

I asked him if the nurses were treating him well. He said yes, but I teased him that I wanted to speak to the one who had just entered the room, so that I could explain to her how “important” her charge was. “Oh you don’t have to do that,” he said.

I laughed: “Hey, look what happened to Andy Warhol. It couldn’t hurt!”

Douglas Walla let me know a week or so ago that Paul had entered hospice care. He died quietly today.

The visionary artist and luminary, Paul Laffoley, has died today after a long battle with congestive heart failure. He had an extraordinary grasp of multiple fields of knowledge compulsively pursing interests that often lead him into uncharted territory. His complex theoretical constructs were uniquely presented in highly detailed mandala-like canvases largely scaled to Fibonacci’s golden ratio. While an active participant in numerous speculative organizations including his own Boston Visionary Cell since the early 70s, his work began to attract an increasing following in his late career with shows at the Palais de Tokyo (2009), Hamburger Bahnhof (2011), Hayward Gallery, London, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (2013). The first book on Laffoley’s oeuvre was The Phenomenology of Revelation published by Kent Fine Art in 1989, followed by several subsequent publications beginning with his first retrospective organized by the Austin Museum of Art (1999).

Forthcoming in March of 2016, the University of Chicago Press will be releasing the long awaited book entitled The Essential Paul Laffoley. He was a kind and generous giant, and he will be sorely missed by all of us.

Today the world lost one of its greatest minds, but it might be a few years before the world realizes this. I am gratified to know that although Paul didn’t live long enough to see the publication of the catalogue raisonné of his work, he did see the galley proofs. Doug Walla worked for decades, really, on this book and it will be an intellectual and cultural EVENT when it’s published next year, mark my words. Many years ago, I can recall discussing Paul with Doug and he told me that what drove him so hard to develop Paul’s career is how tragic it would have been if Paul died in obscurity, and was regarded historically as an “enigma” or as an outsider artist, someone like Henry Darger instead of the Ivy League-educated polymath “Sci-Fi Leonardo” that he truly was. As of today there are several books that have been published about Paul Laffoley, and there will be many more in the future and many doctoral dissertations that will be written about him. I’m sure he died with the satisfaction that his work was not only valued by mankind, but will live on with greater notoriety after his passing.

I don’t have any more words. I lost a friend today, someone I greatly admired and loved. More importantly, the world lost a great genius. The New York Times recently called Paul Laffoley “one of the most unusual creative minds of our time.”

Too true. And now he’s gone.

An overview of Paul Laffoley’s work, courtesy of yours truly…

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
What have you done to BRAD? Meet the new ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ action figures

Rocky Horror Picture Show action figures by Funko (coming in December, 2015)
Rocky Horror Picture Show “Reaction” figures by Funko (coming in December, 2015)
As hard as it is to believe, 2015 is the 40th anniversary of one of the greatest cult films of all time, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Dr. Frank-N-Furter action figure by Funko
Dr. Frank-N-Furter “ReAction” figure by Funko
In addition to the latest collectible Blu-ray that was released in honor of this milestone in late September (which included pair of fishnet stockings and pink gloves as worn in the film by actor Tim Curry as “Dr. Frank-N-Furter, squeee!), Everett, Washington-based toy giant Funko is set to release six, fully poseable action figures based on characters from the beloved film. The collection (due out this December) includes the Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Riff Raff, Brad Majors, Janet Weiss, Riff Raff’s sister Magenta and glitter-loving groupie, Columbia. While the figures are not quite as cool as the set released by Vital Toys back in 2000 (which marked the films 25th anniversary - feel old yet?), I think that collectors and the hardcore fanbase that still lives for the 1975 flick, will quickly snap them up.

My only minor complaint about this set is the omission of Peter Hinwood’s character, the glammy hot-pants wearing creation of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, “Rocky Horror.” There’s also no Eddie (the ex-delivery boy played by forever Bat out of Hell, Meatloaf) but that’s just me being wishful that such things existed. Images of the fantastic plastic Rocky Horror figures follow.
Riff Raff
Riff Raff
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Insane footage of The Plasmatics annihilating the stage on German TV show, ‘Musikladen’ in 1981

The Plasmatics, 1981

I don’t like fashion. I don’t like art. I do like smashing up expensive things.
Wendy O. Williams

Over the years here in at Dangerous Minds many of the excellent punk rock-loving contributors have dug up fantastic vintage footage of bands performing on various music television shows around the world like Beat-Club (Germany), and UK shows such as Top of the Pops, The Old Grey Whistle Test and The Tube.

That said, I find it hard to conceive of any band ever out-cooling this mind-melting performance by The Plasmatics on German music television show, Musikladen (formerly known as the Beat-Club) from 1981. In twelve short minutes, Wendy Orlean Williams has no less than three “wardrobe” changes, destroys a guitar with a chainsaw, and a television and a car with a sledgehammer before blowing up said car.

In addition to the top-notch chaos that the band was known for bringing to their live performances, The Plasmatics also rip through three songs from their 1980 debut record, New Hope for the Wretched—“Living Dead,” “Butcher Baby,” and their psychotic cover of Bobby Darin’s 1959 hit, “Dream Lover.”  That same year, talk show host Tom Snyder called The Plasmatics “the greatest punk rock band in the entire world.” And guess what? He was fucking right.

A word of caution before you hit the play button for the video below - it’s NSFW. And that’s exactly why you must watch it.

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Whining Maggots: Members of the Dead Boys and Pere Ubu covering Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and the Beatles!
09:36 am


Pere Ubu
Dead Boys

Here’s a rare and long-dormant artifact of classic Cleveland punks in a once-in-a-lifetime configuration. In the late ‘90s, guitarists Jimmy Zero of the Dead Boys and Jim Jones of Pere Ubu (RIP 2008) formed the Whining Maggots with members of obscure but high caliber CLEbands like New Salem Witch Hunters, Death of Samantha, Easter Monkeys and Prisonshake. The band name was likely cribbed from a line in No Cure For Cancer by Denis Leary, of whom Zero was a fan, and the group played exactly one show ever.

The band was organized by Zero to serve as the draw for a benefit, the beneficiary being noted independent filmmaker Robert Banks, who needed funds to complete a work in progress (I’ve forgotten which film it was, but I think it was probably “Jaded”). Banks was making his living as a life-drawing model at the time, so he appeared at the benefit nude, and donors scotch-taped cash to his body all night. As the evening wore on, other folks got it into their heads to get naked too. It was quite a time. Frankly, I got so hammered that night that 18 or so years later I’m getting a fierce hangover just watching this video.

The set was a high-spirits covers affair, largely comprised of classic proto-punk tunes nobody in the band probably needed to spend much time learning—it was surely stuff they all cut their teeth on anyway—and some old songs by the Easter Monkeys, one of the bands with whom Jones played before he ascended to Pere Ubuhood. Other notables here include drummer Scott Pickering of the bands Prisonshake and Gem, the latter being the group that spawned Guided By Voices’ Tim Tobias and Doug Gillard, and who originally wrote and recorded GBV’s very popular single “I Am A Tree.” Also present was John Petkovic of Death of Samantha and Cobra Verde, who’s made a bigger name for himself as a member of Sweet Apple, his band with J Mascis. Here’s the set list as best as I could piece it together, the video follows. By the way, I didn’t notice any of the aforementioned nudity in the video, so this should be safe for work, at least on that count. 

1) Funtime (Iggy Pop) 00:00
2) Satellite of Love (Lou Reed) 04:57
3) Underpants (Easter Monkeys) 08:40
4) Cheap Heroin (Easter Monkeys) 11:26
5) Shake Appeal (Iggy and the Stooges) 14:46
6) I Am the Walrus (Beatles) 17:52
7) TV Eye (The Stooges) 23:20

SERIOUSLY obliged to VidMag Productions for making this video available, and to messers Pickering and Petkovic for the memory jogs I badly needed in order to get this post together.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Big Beat:  Watch a complete Sparks concert from 1976
10:01 am


Ron Mael
Russell Mael

Sometimes a band’s best recorded work is never truly appreciated until long after its original release. This has long been the case for brothers Ron and Russell Mael of Sparks, whose god-like output is still being discovered, rediscovered, and praised many years after it first made vinyl.

Forty years ago this week, the brothers Mael offered up their fifth studio record Indiscreet to a seemingly indifferent public. Produced by Tony Visconti Indiscreet should have been a crowning moment for Sparks, as the record seamlessly developed themes from their previous hit LPs Kimono My House and Propaganda to create a beautiful sonic concoction. Alas, the music press were overly harsh in their reviews, being too busy finessing their hyperbole for the next big thing to appreciate the quality of riches on offer from Ron, Russell and Tony. The album punctured the UK’s top 20 chart, while the two singles “Get in the Swing” and “Looks, Looks, Looks” haunted the lower regions of the top 30 for a few weeks. Disappointed, the Maels disbanded their latest incarnation of Sparks and decided to return to their hometown Los Angeles.
Sparks’ superlative fifth album ‘Indiscreet’ produced by Tony Visconti.
However, the return to the nest was interrupted by a stopover in New York, where the brothers had picked-up on the buzz over punk rock. With a briefcase full of unrecorded rock songs—a few of which were staples of their live set—Ron and Russell decided to record their sixth album Big Beat in the city. Stripping down their lush, instantly recognizable sound to a more basic strum and bang of guitar and drums—a return of sorts to the sound of their early Todd Rundgren/James Thaddeus Lowe-produced albums Sparks and A Woofer in Tweeter’s Clothing. To augment the sound, the brothers considered signing-up David Bowie’s “Spiders” guitarist Mick Ronson to join the band. A series of demos were then recorded with Ronson on guitar, but Mick had to pull out due to his other commitments—recording with former Mott the Hoople frontman Ian Hunter and playing as part of Bob Dylan’s “Rolling Thunder Revue.” The Maels therefore signed-up a group of talented session musicians as their backing band and set about recording a more raunchier, rockier more muscular Sparks.

Sparks hoped their slightly harder sound would give them another hit album in the US, and plans were hatched for a tour with the Patti Smith Band (which never came off) and they signed up for an appearance in the blockbuster movie Rollercoaster, where they performed two songs—the album’s opening track (and first single) “Big Boy” and (its B-side) “Fill ‘er Up.” There were also plans for a recording of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” with Marianne Faithfull, who dropped out at the last moment leaving Russell to sing it on his own.
After the Marx Brothers, the Sparks Brothers.
Big Beat is undoubtedly more appreciated today than on its first release. It may have been a transitional record of apparent off-cuts, B-sides and startling outstanding originals, but there was enough toe-tapping thrills to write home about. The opening track “Big Boy” is a delightful crowd pleaser, while “Fill ‘er Up” and “White Women” poke a tongue at certain elements of the traditional white rocker’s love of women and speed—with a pointed aside about the racism therein. The doozy is “Confusion” which was intended for a film the boys worked on with great French comic Jacques Tati. “I Bought the Mississippi” harks back to very early Sparks, while “I Like Girls” and “I Want to be Like Everybody Else” could have sat comfortably on Kimono My House or Propaganda.

I clearly recall the week Big Beat came out and when my brother brought it home how we spent many hours listening to this leftfield record, marveling at the manner in which Sparks had once again produced something wonderfully unexpected, original, challenging yet utterly engaging. I suppose my brother and I were the odd ones out, as everyone else in the UK seemed to be preoccupied by ABBA, Rod Stewart, Frampton Comes Alive! and the imminent arrival of punk. Similarly, the kind of clever, ironic social commentary the Maels dished up to the delight of Europe was not going to find an instant audience with an America enamored by Kiss, The Eagles and MOR. Sparks were not to have another hit until their teaming up with Giorgio Moroder for the album Number One in Heaven in 1979.

In November 1976, Sparks appeared at the Capitol Theater, NJ, where they ripped through a powerful set of hits and tracks from their latest album Big Beat. Track listing: “Nothing To Do,” “I Want To Be Like Everybody Else,” “Something For The Girl With Everything,” “White Women,” “Talent Is An Asset,” “I Bought The Mississippi River,” “Everybody’s Stupid,” “B.C.,” “Equator,” “This Town Isn’t Big Enough For The Two Of Us,” “Amateur Hour,” “Big Boy,” “Fill-er-up.”

The whole of Sparks concert plus bonus newbie track for Udo Kier movie ‘The Forbidden Room,’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Andy Warhol, Grace Jones, Bettie Page & more roller skating (because roller skating rules!)

Andy Warhol roller skating
Andy Warhol roller skating
If you keep up with my posts here at DM, you know I often put together cool photo-sets featuring famous people doing things that we all like to do like hitting the beach or lying in bed. This time around I’ve pulled together something fun for you to kill time with this Friday - images of people way cooler than us on roller skates.
Bettie Page and Gus the Gorilla roller skating, mid-1950s
Bettie Page and Gus the Gorilla roller skating, mid-1950s
Some of the images are from the wide variety of films with either roller skating themes or scenes in them such as Raquel Welch tearing it up on the derby track in the 1972 film, Kansas City Bomber. Others are from the late 70s and 80s when Roller Disco was all the rage. There’s even a few that go way back in time that I slipped in because they were just too cool not to share.

I’ve also included a video that features Dutch girl band, the Dolly Dots roller skating around in leotards lipsynching to their 1979 track, “(They Are) Rollerskating.” Because, like I said, roller skating RULES!
Grace Jones roller skating at Compo Beach, 1973
Grace Jones roller skating at Compo Beach, 1973
Judas Priest roller skating in 1981
Judas Priest, 1981
Many more famous rollerskaters, after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
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