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Found: Lost behind-the-scenes Polaroids from ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’
04.06.2016
09:19 am

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Heroes
Movies

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Imagine traveling home one night and finding a set of behind-the-scenes photos from one of your favorite shows. Well, something like that did happen to Brady Marter, who later uploaded his prized find onto the Collector’s Weekly site:

Founds these on the platform of the C train in TriBeCa in 2011. They are photos of Tim Curry and the cast of Rocky Horror during the making of the film. Some have writing on the back and Frankenfurter kissed the back of one.

Obviously, these beauties from The Rocky Horror Show weren’t just deliberately discarded or tossed out with the garbage, but were accidentally dropped by collector Larry Viezel who posted on the site:

These were part of a collection I bought from someone in New Mexico. These were used in making The Rocky Horror Scrapbook. I had it shipped to my office (I worked on the corner of Hudson and Canal) and was taking them home. A bunch fell out of my bag and I picked them up. When I got home I realized I missed one. Looks like I missed more than one! If it’s any proof, I’d be happy to show you the rest of the collection.

Thankfully, the story does have a happy ending. Larry had his lost photos returned shortly after they appeared on Collector’s Weekly, as he exclusively tells Dangerous Minds:

The guy that found them was working just a few blocks away from where I was working in Manhattan at the time on Hudson Street when I lost them. But he had since moved to the south. He was very gracious and returned them. I was incredibly grateful. He asked if he could keep one of them - the photo of the model of the church. I was happy to oblige. The photos are now back with the rest of my collection. I am very happy to have them back!

Here are those lost and found Polaroids from Larry’s collection featuring Tim Curry trying on his costume for Dr. Frankenfurter, some sets and other cast members (Richard O’Brien) from the production of The Rocky Horror Show.
 
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More, plus a behind-the scenes documentary on ‘Rocky Horror’ from 1975, after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Street art homages to Frank Zappa, Lemmy, David Bowie, Bon Scott, Ian Curtis & more
04.05.2016
09:14 am

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Art
Heroes
Music

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Frank Zappa street art mural under a bridge in London by James Mayle and Leigh Drummond
A massive mural of Frank Zappa under a bridge in London by artists James Mayle and Leigh Drummond.

I recently came across images of some beautiful street murals of both the sadly recently departed Lemmy Kilmister and David Bowie—which is what got me cooking up this post chock full of graffiti and street art homages to notable musicians and rock stars who are no longer with us.

Of the many public pieces, photographed at places all around the globe, I’m especially fond of the Lemmy/Bowie hybrid that popped up on a utility box in front of a restaurant in Denver, Colorado shortly after Bowie passed on January 10th, 2016, as well as a haunting image of Joe Strummer that was painted on the side of a rusted old van.
 
Lemmy/Bowie street art mashup in Denver, Colorado
Lemmy/Bowie street art mashup in Denver, Colorado.
 
Joe Strummer mural painted on the side of a van by French artist, Jef Aerosol
Joe Strummer mural painted on the side of a van by French artist, Jef Aerosol.
 
Inspired street art dedicated to everyone from Joy Division’s Ian Curtis to James Brown, after the jump…

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Vintage 70s Bootsy Collins ashtray will hold your funky butts
04.04.2016
11:07 am

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Bootsy Collins reacts to the vintage 1970s Bootsy Collins ashtray the way we all did
Vintage 70s bust of Bootsy Collins ashtray and the real Bootsy.
 
Currently this covet-worthy Bootsy Collins ashtray is up for auction on Ebay for a mere $19.99—a bargain at twice the price for such a funky piece of 1970s goodness. If the voice inside your head just screamed “Shut Up and take my money!” then congratulations—everyone else reading this post heard the same thing.

As the listing points out, the top of Bootsy’s head can be removed to reveal the inner sanctum where you can put your spent butts (or trinkets as I’d prefer to use it to store my collection of rhinestones). Here’s the link to the auction. GOOD LUCK! 
 
Vintage 1970s Bootsy Collins ashtray
 
More Bootsy, baby, after the jump…

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In the Flesh: Blondie’s perfect pop performance on German TV, 1978
04.01.2016
09:28 am

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Television

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Most teenage males “of a certain vintage” were hipped to Blondie by the video for the single “Denis” with a slinky Debbie Harry in a red-striped swimsuit and cascades of backlit blonde hair. Understandable. My introduction was via the radio—which meant my focus has always been on the music. I bought the 45rpm record of “Denis.” Wore it out and had to buy another copy.

Of all the bands that came out of punk or new wave, for me there has never been one as brilliant as Blondie. New wave in the UK was generally angry and political. American new wave—as epitomized by Blondie—was musical, ingenious, subversive and unforgettable.

What makes a song last more than a generation is its infectious tunefulness. Songs that connect on an emotional level, at a liminal moment of approaching joy. Blondie have a major back catalog of these kind of songs—all of which will last decades longer than their three minutes of play. Perhaps centuries, who knows?
 

 
I missed out on their eponymous debut album, but got up to speed with the second album Plastic Letters and then Parallel Lines. With Parallel Lines one would have to go back to The Beatles to find a band that produced an album filled with only quality songs of utter pop perfection. All killer no filler, it played like a greatest hits from the very first spin.

That’s not to say Blondie were sweet—their songs were often double-edged and charged with complex meanings. A cursory listen to “One Way Or Another” might make you think it’s just some old romantic song rather one about a stalker. Or, how cold is the dreamy “Sunday Girl”? And who else could write such a bittersweet disco song such as “Heart of Glass”?

More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Incredible early Nirvana gig at a tiny East Coast goth club, 1990
03.31.2016
02:48 pm

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Kurt Cobain playing a gig at Man Ray in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th, 1990
Kurt Cobain playing a gig at ManRay in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th, 1990. Photo by JJ Gonson.
 
So here’s something that your ears will appreciate hearing a the loudest volume possible today—a rare audio recording of Nirvana performing songs from their 1989 debut record, Bleach as well as a couple of tracks from the yet-to-be-released smash, Nevermind at a small Goth club called ManRay (R.I.P.) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
 
Krist and Kurt backstage at Man Ray in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th, 1990
Krist Novoselic and Kurt backstage at ManRay in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th, 1990. Photo by JJ Gonson
 
Kurt Cobain jumping into the crowd at Man Ray in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18, 1990
Photo by JJ Gonson
 
Krist Novoselic with Nirvana at Man Ray in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th 1990
Krist Novoselic at ManRay. Photo by JJ Gonson
 
Drummer Chad Channing crawling up to his kit at Man Ray in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th, 1990
Drummer Chad Channing at ManRay. Photo by JJ Gonson
 
Kurt Cobain diving into the small crowd at ManRay in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th, 1990
Kurt Cobain diving into the small crowd at ManRay in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th, 1990. Photo by JJ Gonson.
 
Duane Bruce, legendary former DJ of Boston alternative rock station, WFNX was on hand to introduce the band, and was also was smart enough to record the raucous live set that was attended by less than 100 people on April 18th, 1990. In the audio recording I’ve posted below you’ll hear an exuberant sounding Kurt Cobain proclaim the following (at about 22 minutes in) about their upcoming release Nevermind before kicking into “Breed” and “In Bloom”:

This is from our next record, it’s gonna be out in September or something like that. It’s gonna be a rock n roll record! It’s gonna have all your rock favorites, and… it’s gonna be a blast!

Find more Nirvana after the jump…

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The Kinks showcase a storming selection from ‘Sleepwalker’ live in 1977
03.30.2016
10:58 am

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1973 was not a good year for The Kinks. Personal problems, changes in line-up and a whole shift in the music scene led Kinks frontman and main songwriter Ray Davies to question what he was doing with his life. In June of that year, Davies’ wife Rasa left him taking their children with her. It sent Davies into a major depression.

During the band’s headline concert in July at the White City Stadium in London, Ray Davies announced from the stage he was quitting the band. According Roy Hollingsworth in his review of the gig for music paper Melody Maker:

Ray Davies should never have been at London’s White City Stadium, on Sunday. Physically, and more important, mentally. Davies was in no fit condition to play. And in no fit condition to stand on a stage and say that he was quitting, He was a man neck-high in troubles, and when he shouted “I quit,” he should have shouted “Help!”

Ray looked frightening in dark glasses for the sun wasn’t shining … He was a wreck that evening … Davies swore onstage. He stood at the White City and swore that he was ‘F—ing sick of the whole thing … Sick up to here with it … and those that heard shook their heads.

After this tirade, Ray walked across to his brother, guitarist Dave, kissed him on the cheek and exited the stage. He then collapsed from a massive overdose of “valium.” According to Dave Davies this was the night Ray had “tried to top himself.”

I thought he looked a bit weird after the show—I didn’t know that he’d taken a whole bloody bottle of weird-looking psychiatric pills. It was a bad time. Ray suddenly announced that he was going to end it all—it was around that time that his first wife left him. … She’d left him and taken the kids on his birthday, just to twist the blade in a little more. … I think he took the pills before the show. I said to him towards the end that he was getting a bit crazy. I didn’t know what happened—I suddenly got a phone call saying he was in the hospital. I remember going to the hospital after they’d pumped his stomach and it was bad.

During his recuperation in hospital Ray spent much of his time listening to Gustav Mahler’s Second Symphony The Resurrection—the story of one man’s redemption and resurrection after death, which Ray described as “a moving piece of music.” It made him think about taking the band in a more theatrical direction.

When Dave came to visit him, Ray told his brother he no longer wanted to just be a rock band but “wanted to explore the idea of rock theatre, something no one else had really done before.”
 
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In many respects this idea—or concept albums similar to this idea—exactly what The Kinks had been experimenting with since The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society in 1968, and had continued with in Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) (1969), Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One (1970), Everybody’s in Show-Biz (1972) and Preservation Act 1 in July 1973.

Out of hospital, Davies returned to the band and started mining his “rock theatre” idea with Preservation Act 2 (1974), Soap Opera—which was made into a TV musical extravaganza Star Maker (1974), and Schoolboys in Disgrace (1975). Though each of these albums has its merits—and all deserve considerable reappraisal—they performed poorly in the charts and did little to keep The Kinks relevant with a younger audience. In hindsight, none of this matters much as the quality of the songs and Ray’s ideas have outlasted the fickle fancies of pop fashion. However, the Kinks’ record company was not impressed and demanded that the band’s next album had to be a stand alone traditional collection of good songs—as if such a thing can be ordered to suit.

In 1976, Davies therefore started writing a non-concept album Sleepwalker, which was released in February 1977. Though the songs still reflect Davies’ own preoccupations—the title track dealt with the singer’s insomnia after moving to New York—it was the first album to give The Kinks a top fifty placing since the singles “Lola” and “Apeman” in 1970.

Sleepwalker was generally well received—Melody Maker said the record was “the group’s strongest and most organised album in years” which:

...emphatically testifies to the dramatic artistic revival of Raymond Douglas Davies, whose supreme talents as a writer have been so distressingly overlooked during the first half of this decade.

 
The Kinks showcase ‘Sleepwalker’ and more, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Frank Zappa: Shut Up ‘n’ Play yer Bike!
03.29.2016
09:41 am

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Television

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Long time ago on British TV there was what I guess you might call a talent show titled Opportunity Knocks. Each week host Hughie Greene offered young hopeful singers, comedians, magicians, variety acts, you know the kinda thing, the opportunity to make it big.

Among those who did make it big were the likes of Mary Hopkins who sang “Those Were the Days” and was quickly signed to The Beatles record label Apple. There were quite a few others who are better known over here than over in the US.

And of the many people who did take part but never made it big, there was always some kind of novelty act—a bodybuilder who flexed his muscles and inflated hot water bottles with his mighty breath; impressionists whose speciality was imitating the sound of railway engines and planes taking-off; belly dancers; bird-handlers who pushed little budgerigars on rope swings then made them hop thru flaming hoops; and last but certainly not least, those hobbyists who made music out of everyday objects such as kettles, washboards, radiators, hoover attachments and alike.
 
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These freaks reminded me of Frank Zappa’s appearance on The Steve Allen Show in 1960, when the precocious young musician impressed with his ability to play a bicycle.

At the time, Zappa was earning a living playing cocktail lounges and writing a score for a film called The World’s Greatest Sinner. As he explained to Steve Allen during his appearance he had also written a “bicycle concerto.”

I suppose I have to ask, what kind of twenty-year old goes on national TV to promote himself as a player of the bicycle other than one who is utterly desperate for recognition? Not just any kind of recognition but one that highlights an interest in the avant garde, some serious musical intent and (you guessed it) a zany sense of humor.

That Zappa pulls off all three says much for his talent, ego, and ambition.

Watch the video, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Hail the King: Muddy Waters rules the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, 1968
03.22.2016
10:36 am

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In his later years, when Muddy Waters started making the money he was long overdue, he’d call up his friend John Lee Hooker and the pair would jokingly brag about the cars they owned. If Waters said he had a new Mercedes then Hooker would call back a few weeks later and tell Waters he had just bought a Mercedes with a phone in the back. It was a small perk in a long career of endless nights gigging, playing or recording for little return.

For playing blues didn’t make money unless you were somebody, as Waters told the N.M.E.‘s Charles Shaar Murray in 1977:

The kind of blues I play, there’s no money in it. You makes a good livin’ when you gets established like I am, but you don’t reach that kind of overnight million dollar thing, man…no way.

If you play nuthin’ but blues, it’s hard to get big off of it. It takes years and years and still the kids come in and go, ‘Who he?’

That night in 1977, Waters was playing a gig with Johnny Winter at some small deathtrap venue in the village of Willimantic—which according to folklore means the “Place of the Swift Running Waters.” As journalist Murray discovered, Waters was right the audience knew more about Johnny Winter—ironically the whitest blues musician of all time, as the Texas guitarist, was of course an albino—than the legendary king Muddy Waters—even after forty years of hard work.

Forget Elvis—Muddy Waters is the true King of modern rock, r’n'b and all the rest. Without Muddy Waters things would have been a whole lot different and sure as hell not nearly as good.

McKinley Morganfield was born on April 4, 1913 or 1915—depending on who you believe—in Rolling Fork, Mississippi.  He was the second son of farmer Ollie Morganfield. When his mother died in 1918, McKinley was sent off to live with his grandmother in Clarksdale, who first christened the boy “Muddy”:

‘I was raised in the country, and out there they didn’t have no concrete, ya know… just muddy country roads and people used to clean their feet off on our front porch. I’d be playing around crawlin’ in the mud, probably eatin’ it…and my granmother started callin’ me her little muddy baby.

‘I started to play harp [harmonica] when I was seven. At nine I was really tryin’ to play. At thirteen I thought I was good. The kids I used to sing to would call out “Hey Muddy Waters play us a piece.”

‘I didn’t like that “Muddy Water” thing, ya know…I didn’t mind my grandmother calling me Muddy, but that whole Muddy Waters thing, I didn’t like it. It just growed on me.’

As a teenager, Waters picked up his first influence, bluesman Charley Patton. Then Son House—from whom he learnt the finer points of bottleneck guitar—and Robert Johnson—whose style Waters copied before finding his very own distinct voice. He traded in his harmonica and took up the guitar.  Waters had known for some time he was going to be a musician—he was going to be someone. Ever since he could remember music was what he wanted to do. If he couldn’t make it music, he figured, then he’d be a preacher, a ball player—“something outstanding.”

‘I didn’t want to grow up with no one knowin’ me but the neighbourhood people. I wanted the world to know a lot about me. I thank my God I got it through…’

By day, Waters worked on the cotton plantations. But he was soon earning more in a night playing blues than he made in a week working for someone else. His early recordings were for the Library of Congress in 1941—an organization which Charles Shaar Murray points out “treats folk musicians as wildlife specimens rather than artists.” Waters never made money on these recordings until about a quarter of a century later when they were released as Down on Stovall’s Plantation.

In 1943, Waters moved to Chicago to become a full-time musician. He earned his money playing bars and clubs. In 1944, he made a major change to his sound by purchasing his first electric guitar. With the release of his single “I Can’t Be Satisfied” in 1948, Waters changed the course of modern music—its beat and loud powerful electric sound announced the imminent arrival of rock ‘n’ roll.

As Murray writes in Shots from the Hip:

[Waters] consolidated his success with a series of harder, heavier, more passionate and more electric hits, and began to assemble, member by member, the toughest and most exciting band in town. Muddy Waters’ Blues Band was to become, not only the best and most influential band in Chicago, but what was for all practical purposes, the first electric rock band.

More Muddy Waters, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
30 gorgeous black & white photos of Frida Kahlo
03.14.2016
11:31 am

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Art
Feminism
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Frida Kahlo in the artist’s studio by Manuel Alvarez Bravo, 1932

I’m posting these gorgeous B&W portraits of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo because A) they’re all simply wonderful and B) there’s never enough Frida as far as I’m concerned.

Enjoy!


Frida Kahlo by Lucienne Bloch, 1933
 

Frida Kahlo by Lucienne Bloch, 1935
 
More Frida after the jump…
 

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Fascinating vintage promo film on the making of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’
03.12.2016
08:39 am

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In 1964, Stanley Kubrick wrote to Arthur C. Clarke.  He told the science fiction author he was a “a great admirer” of his books, and “had always wanted to discuss with [him] the possibility of doing the proverbial really good science-fiction movie.”

Kubrick briefly outlined his ideas:

My main interest lies along these broad areas, naturally assuming great plot and character:

The reasons for believing in the existence of intelligent extra-terrestrial life.

The impact (and perhaps even lack of impact in some quarters) such discovery would have on Earth in the near future.

A space probe with a landing and exploration of the Moon and Mars.

Clarke liked Kubrick’s suggestions. A meeting was arranged at Trader Vic’s in New York on April 22, 1964, at which Kubrick explained his interest in extraterrestrial life. He told Clarke he wanted to make a film about “Man’s relationship to the universe.”

The author offered the director a choice of six short stories—from which Kubrick picked “The Sentinel” (published as “The Sentinel of Eternity” in 1953). The story described the discovery of strange, tetrahedral artefact on the Moon. The narrator speculates the object is a “warning beacon” left by some ancient alien intelligence to signal humanity’s evolutionary advance towards space travel.

Over the next four years they worked together on the film—two of which were spent co-writing the screenplay they privately called How the Solar System Was Won.
 
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Director and Author.
 
Kubrick and Clarke decided to write a book together first then the screenplay. This was to be credited: “Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, based on a novel by Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick.” It turned out slightly differently as the book and screenplay were written simultaneously. While Kubrick made the film “a visual, nonverbal experience,” Clarke widened the story out, explaining many of the events Kubrick left open-ended. The director wanted to make a film that hit the audience “at an inner level of consciousness, just as music does, or painting.”

In an interview with Joseph Gelmis in 1970, Kubrick described the genesis of both the book and script:

There are a number of differences between the book and the movie. The novel, for example, attempts to explain things much more explicitly than the film does, which is inevitable in a verbal medium. The novel came about after we did a 130-page prose treatment of the film at the very outset. This initial treatment was subsequently changed in the screenplay, and the screenplay in turn was altered during the making of the film. But Arthur took all the existing material, plus an impression of some of the rushes, and wrote the novel. As a result, there’s a difference between the novel and the film…I think that the divergences between the two works are interesting.

Clarke was more direct. He wrote an explicit interpretation of the film explaining many of its themes. In particular, how the central character David Bowman ends his days in what Clarke described as a kind of living museum or zoo, where he is observed by alien life forms.
 
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The director on a sound stage at MGM Studios, Borehamwood, England.
 
Kubrick was less forthcoming. Though he did share some of his thoughts on the meaning and purpose of human existence in an interview with Playboy in 1968:

The very meaninglessness of life forces man to create his own meaning. Children, of course, begin life with an untarnished sense of wonder, a capacity to experience total joy at something as simple as the greenness of a leaf; but as they grow older, the awareness of death and decay begins to impinge on their consciousness and subtly erode their joie de vivre, their idealism – and their assumption of immortality. As a child matures, he sees death and pain everywhere about him, and begins to lose faith in the ultimate goodness of man. But, if he’s reasonably strong – and lucky – he can emerge from this twilight of the soul into a rebirth of life’s elan. Both because of and in spite of his awareness of the meaninglessness of life, he can forge a fresh sense of purpose and affirmation. He may not recapture the same pure sense of wonder he was born with, but he can shape something far more enduring and sustaining. The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death – however mutable man may be able to make them – our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfilment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.

 
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Similarities between shots and designs in ‘2001’ and Pavel Klushantsev’s ‘Road to the Stars’ (1958).
 
Kubrick involved himself in every aspect of the film’s production—from costume and set design, technical specifications, the requirements of specially designed cameras, to the building of a 32-ton centrifuge used to create the interior of a space craft. Kubrick was greatly influenced by Pavel Klushantsev’s Road to the Stars from 1958—and exploited many of the designs, crafts and ideas featured in that film.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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