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‘Come and Get Your Love’: Meet Redbone, the world’s first Native American rock group
01.05.2016
10:01 am

Topics:
Animation
Music

Tags:
Redbone
Bill Burr


 
A week before Christmas, Netflix posted F is for Family, a new animated series based on the politically incorrect outlook of acerbic stand-up comedian Bill Burr. Co-written by Burr and frequent Simpsons scribe Michael Price, the show also features the vocal talents of Laura Dern, Justin Long, Sam Rockwell, Phil Hendrie and others. F is for Family is set in 1973, a time of prog rock, when dads were kings of their castles, kids were left to play unsupervised on construction sites and “the Japs” were beating our asses with their cheap imported cars. Burr plays Frank Murphy, a rant-prone typically angry blue collar 70s dad—we all had one—who works in baggage handling at the local airport and watches a lot of TV.

I liked it a lot, but then again I get all the jokes since I was seven the year it supposedly takes place. If you like Bill Burr—and who doesn’t love a man who can do THIS—it doesn’t disappoint. It’s smart and funny, somewhat self-consciously playing like a Norman Lear comedy with a fuck of a lot more swearing.

The show has an opening title sequence that is set to 1974’s AM radio hit “Come and Get Your Love,” which I think is one of the best songs of like all time. It’s an unbelievably catchy earworm that evokes a nice summer day, with the wind in your hair, just being young and carefree and this is what we’re grooving along to as we see a young Frank graduate from high school, optimistic and flying through the clouds, ready to go out and conquer the world before a draft notice smacks him in the face. Before our eyes we see him get paunchier, a pair of glasses and a bald spot along with the nagging responsibilities of his wife and three kids (“They’re animals”). It’s the most perfect way to introduce the character of Frank—or any father of that generation.
 

 
The reason I mention this is because if you’ve seen the show—you might know the song (or have heard it elsewhere, such as Guardians of the Galaxy) but do you recall the group who did it? Probably not. They were called Redbone and billed themselves as the first Native American/Cajun rock group. They were really amazing musicians who are worthy of “rediscovery” by rock snobs.
 

 
Redbone (not to be confused with Leon Redbone, the idiosyncratic Canadian Tin Pan Alley-style singer-songwriter) was formed by brothers Pat and Lolly Vasquez-Vegas in 1969. Previously they had been hotshot LA session musicians known professionally as the Avantis and later as the Vegas Brothers—their paths crossed in the studio with the likes of Glenn Campbell, Snuff Garrett, Sonny & Cher, Delaney Bramlett, Leon Russell, Elvis and many other notables—but two Mexican guys playing surf rock wasn’t really something that they felt the entertainment industry wanted at the time, hence the switch to the more overtly Native American image with a bit of Cajun spice. They had two big hits, the first being “The Witch Queen of New Orleans” (about 19th century voodoo practitioner Marie Laveau) in 1971. By the time of Cher’s “Half-Breed” in 1973—“Redbone” being Cajun slang for someone of mixed heritage—it must’ve felt like the right moment for the group to take advantage of this nascent Native American chic.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Fred Schneider has a ‘Monster’ in his pants (and it does a nasty dance)
12.16.2015
12:56 pm

Topics:
Animation
Music

Tags:
Fred Schneider
B-52s


 
At the end of 1984, I moved to NYC and all I had to listen to was a cheapy Sony Walkman and a few cassettes—Nick Cave’s From Her to Eternity, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s greatest hits, Nina Hagen’s Nunsexmonkrock and the first Madonna album were my soundtracks to walking around and discovering New York City when I first got there. But there was one album in particular, that to me at least, was THE SOUND of the city and that record was the first solo effort from B-52s singer Fred Schneider, called Fred Schneider and the Shake Society. I listened to this album constantly then. One early morning just a few weeks after I got there, I saw a totally trashed-looking Fred walking down 6th Avenue—he’d obviously just come from a party gone out of bounds—and I’m not ashamed to admit that I was thrilled, totally starstruck and satisfied that I’d made a good move. Seeing a hungover Fred Schneider was akin to the universe smiling at me and New York was the best place in the world to be in 1984.
 

 
But back to the music: “Monster,” the single from the album, was one of those songs that was only really famous in nightclubs, but that was about it. HOW is it possible that a song with a hook this unstoppable, not to mention the over-the-top double entendre of the lyrics, wasn’t a massive, massive hit single, something that today would be justly celebrated as an iconic 80s novelty song??? It was even released twice and barely scraped the top 100 either time!
 

 
Actually, maybe it was the boldly double entendre lyrics. Come to think of it, that’s probably, uh, exactly what the problem was. Thirty years later, who would give a shit about something so innocuous?

Below, the original mix of the song as it was released in 1984 (The 1991 remix is a travesty and I was pissed off when I bought the CD and got the new version). Featured in the video are Talking Head Tina Weymouth, Kate Pierson, Keith Haring and the late, great drag performer Ethyl Eichelberger as the maid.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Terry Gilliam’s dark Christmas animation from 1968
12.08.2015
09:09 am

Topics:
Animation

Tags:
Terry Gilliam
Christmas cards


Terry Gilliam’s Christmas card of 2011, as posted to his Facebook page.

Terry Gilliam moved to London in 1967 after having paid his dues on a cutting-edge satirical magazine in the United States called Help! that was run by former MAD honcho Harvey Kurtzman. Gilliam actually met John Cleese while at Help!, having created a fumetto (photographic cartoon) featuring the gangly Brit. While in London, Gilliam worked as an art director for London Life and eventually—famously—transitioned into doing cutout animations for TV shows. 

As Gilliam described it to Paul Wardle in an interview included in the informative volume Terry Gilliam: Interviews, he was lucky to meet a TV producer with an acute eye for illustrating talent:
 

John [Cleese] had established himself in television, and he introduced me to a guy named Humphrey Barclay, who was a producer. What he was producing at the time was a show called Do Not Adjust Your Set, a children’s show that Michael Palin, Terry Jones, and Eric Idle were writing and performing. The great thing was that Humphrey was an amateur cartoonist. What he liked more than the written material that I was offering him were my cartoons. So he took pity on me and bought a couple of my written sketches, and forced them on Mike, Terry, and Eric, much to their chagrin, because it was their show. Then this loud-mouthed loud-dressing American turns up and starts invading their pitch.

 

 
In The Pythons: Autobiography by the Pythons Gilliam described his strategy for the assignment—important because this may have been the initial spark for his method, which would become much more widely known and admired when his animations turned up as the transitional bits in the Monty Python’s Flying Circus TV shows as well as essential elements of all of the Python movies:
 

I went down to the Tate and they’ve got a huge collection of Victorian Christmas cards so I went through the collection and photocopied things and started moving them around. So the style just developed out of that rather than any planning being involved. I never analysed the stuff, I just did it the quickest, easiest way. And I could use images I really loved.

 
It’s astonishing how mature the style seems—almost fully formed, one might say. It’s difficult to detect any real difference between this animation, executed in 1968, and the many he did for Monty Python’s Flying Circus from 1969 to 1974.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
David Bowie introduces classic Christmas cartoon, ‘The Snowman’
12.07.2015
03:59 pm

Topics:
Animation
Television

Tags:
David Bowie
Raymond Briggs


 
The Snowman is an Academy Award-nominated animated short based on the wordless 1978 children’s book of the same name by beloved British author and illustrator Raymond Briggs.

In The Snowman, a lonely boy makes a frozen friend who comes alive and the pair get up to mischief in the boy’s house, trying not to awaken his sleeping parents. Then they go to meet Santa Claus. Or was it all just a dream? Over the past 30 plus years it has become a Christmas tradition in Britain in the same sense that A Charlie Brown Christmas has become one in America, with annual Yuletide broadcasts.

Although the original animation, directed by Diane Jackson for Channel 4 in 1982, featured Briggs himself introducing the cartoon, the following year a second version was aired featuring a live action introduction by none other than David Bowie, who, it is implied, was the little boy in the story, with the “proof” that it all really happened being an old scarf he pulls from a drawer. It’s amusing to consider that an entire generation was introduced to David Bowie first and foremost as the adult version of the kid in this story.

A word about the soundtrack music: It’s lyrical and utterly gorgeous, the best known work of composer and pianist Howard Blake and was recorded with his orchestra, the Sinfonia of London. I have this on CD and it’s wonderful, a classic in its own right. Blake later turned The Snowman into a long-running holiday theatrical play.

In 2012, The Snowman and the Snowdog, a sequel to the original film was broadcast by Channel 4.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Um, wait, so is EVERYONE in this town a pedophile? Watch insane cartoon ‘The Cautious Twins,’ 1960
11.25.2015
09:22 am

Topics:
Amusing
Animation

Tags:
The Cautious Twins
Sid Davis


 
Last weekend I was privileged to have attended a performance by Mystery Science Theater 3000 writers/puppeteers/mad scientists Trace “Dr. Clayton Forrester” Beaulieu and “TV’s Frank” Conniff. They did live movie riffing in the now-familiar MST3K style, and it was really quite an excellent time. They have two shows coming up in the next few months, In St. Louis on Saturday, December 12, 2015, and as part of the San Francisco Sketchfest on January 15, 2016. If you’re an MST3k fan at all, this is a show you really have to see, especially since Beaulieu and Conniff are not going to be a part of Joel Hodgson’s forthcoming reboot of the series. (I’m optimistic about the performers chosen to serve as the new host, mad scientist & robots, though.)
 

 
I won’t reveal the feature film they riffed just in case they plan to use it at any of the forthcoming shows—I’d hate to spoil a welcome surprise. But as a warm-up, the pair also ably mocked a couple of preposterous cartoon shorts, one of which was so completely around the bend that they could have kept their mouths shut and it still would have been a riot to watch. It was a don’t-talk-to-strangers scare PSA produced by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, called “The Cautious Twins,” and was the animated counterpart to a contemporary pamphlet.
 

 
The titular twins Dorene and Dan have the opposite of a helicopter mom, who sends them off to explore the town on their own. (To be clear, I’m not being critical here, I grew up really free-range, myself.) But mom might reconsider her permissiveness if she properly understood that every adult male in town save for one cop is a sleazy, leering, predatory pedophile. In fact, merely being more watchful might not suffice. She should really consider moving as far away from this nightmarish place as possible. Her poor kids can’t go ANYWHERE without getting hit up by a creeper.
 

 

 

 
That the story is told with cheap, stilted, limited-motion animation, and narrated in awkward doggerel over a calliope soundtrack elevates it from merely creepy to completely demented, and the wide eyed, perma-grin expressions the preternaturally chipper twins wear only add to that effect.

Notably, “The Cautious Twins” was directed by one Sid Davis, a director and producer who also gave the world scare films like “The Dangerous Stranger,” “Say No To Strangers,” and the massively homophobic “Boys Beware.” If you happen to be a collector of such oddball cultural produce, you might like to know that “The Dangerous Stranger” and “The Cautious Twins” are included as extras on Something Weird’s DVD release of Hitch Hike to Hell.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
This moody 1953 animation of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ was the first X-rated cartoon
10.22.2015
09:42 am

Topics:
Animation
Books

Tags:
James Mason
horror films
Edgar Allan Poe

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I first read Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” during library class at the local Catholic school I attended in Edinburgh. I was about nine or so, and had this devilish love of horror stories, detective adventures and science fiction. Each week our class was told to bring a book we liked to help encourage our reading—this was the one subject for which I needed no encouragement, my only problem was having enough time to read all the books I wanted to read. It was really a free period and usually a cinch for the teacher.

It was nearing Christmas holidays—the first snow had fallen and the trees were blackened fish bones against the sky. Our teacher, a florid Christian brother with squeaky shoes wandered round the class checking-up on what we were reading. He stopped at my desk, and pushed back the book’s cover for approval.

“Edgar Allan Poe? Edgar, Allan, Poe.” It didn’t sound like a question—more like a terminal diagnosis to an unsuspecting patient. “What would the Holy Father say?”

I had no idea the Pope was a literary critic, and so brightly enquired—what did the Holy Father think of Poe?

“Don’t be impudent, boy. That’s the kind of talk that will get you six of the best,” he said, meaning six wallops with a belt, “And this,” holding the slim paperback aloft between finger and thumb, “isn’t the kind of thing you should be reading in class. It’s unsuitable, far too macabre. I’ll have to confiscate it.” The book quickly disappeared into one of his pockets. “Now next time, bring in a proper book. I don’t want to see this sort of thing again.”

I was supposed to feel chastened, but didn’t. If anything I felt his whole response absurd, and for the first time realized books could be dangerous, and reading subversive.

Undaunted, the following week, I chanced my luck with an Algernon Blackwood, which only merited a tut and a sigh.
 
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In 1953, esteemed actor James Mason narrated an animated version of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, which was the first cartoon to be given an “X” certificate by the British Board of Film Censors. It’s a rather splendid animation which was nominated for an Academy Award—though sadly lost out to Walt Disney’s Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom. It’s a creepy and highly atmospheric little film that fully captures the terror and madness of Poe’s classic tale.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Anti-capitalist artist trolls Kellogg’s and Tony the Tiger AND IT IS DARK and EPIC


 
A couple weeks ago the most amazing thing started to percolate around social media, but then it was apparently stopped by lawyers from Kellogg’s. The “amazing thing” I refer to is the ultra-elaborate trolling—allegedly orchestrated by the brilliant Finnish anti-capitalist artist Jani Leinonen—of Kellogg’s and their Tony the Tiger mascot.

For generations, kids the world over have grown up eating Kellogg’s sugary, nearly nutritionless breakfast cereal and getting positive reinforcement from Tony’s “They’re GRRRREAT!” catchphrase, but some of the child actors who were actually in these commercials have apparently had tragic difficulties later in their lives.

Each new video that appeared saw Tony addressing the problems—via the use of his simplistic catchphrase basically—of a prostitute, a brutal cop and a suicide bomber.

Here’s the first one, launched on October 7th:
 

 
What Leinonen (I’m pretty confident he’s the mastermind)—whose “School of Disobedience” show is currently on exhibit at the Finnish National Gallery Kiasma—has done is, well, as I said before, ultra-elaborate trolling. Culture jamming of the Banksy or Ron English school and of the highest order, not only in terms of the wit employed, but in how perfectly this prank was pulled off. What you are about to see aren’t some amateurish commercial parodies, they are as professionally realized as something that you might see on Saturday Night Live, or indeed, as any “real” TV commercial for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes. I used to work at a commercial production studio in New York that specialized in mixing live action and animation, usually in the employ of selling sugar to children, natch, and lemme tell ya, back then this would have taken a small army to pull off. This guy is a maniac! I really admire his dedication and work ethic. He might want to destroy capitalism—but Jani Leinonen is anything but lazy. He must be the hardest working anti-capitalist around.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Vintage ‘Op art’ book covers from the 50s, 60s and 70s animated with psychedelic results
10.16.2015
11:10 am

Topics:
Animation
Art
Design

Tags:
Henning M. Lederer


 
German motion designer Henning M. Lederer animated 55 retro “Op art” book covers from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. The results are beautifully psychedelic and quite hypnotic.


 

 
The animation, after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
SpongeBob sings Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’ and it’s excellent!


 
I have no clue how on earth I missed this video as it’s almost a year old now. But I did. Thankfully WFMU tweeted it yesterday and hipped me to this excellent video of SpongeBob belting out Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.”

If you’ve already seen it, scroll past. If you haven’t, do yourself a favor and watch it! You’ll be a better person for it.
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Bound to Let You Down’: Eyelids video premiere from ‘Rick and Morty’ animator
10.13.2015
12:47 pm

Topics:
Animation
Music

Tags:
Rick and Morty
Eyelids


 
In the Dangerous Minds household, each new episode of Adult Swim’s geenyus Rick and Morty cartoon is greeted as a sort of gift from God—or at least the God of Dimension C-137, rumor has it that the show is absolute shit in other dimensions and produced by Chuck Lorre, not Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland—so I am more than happy to premiere the new video from Portland’s Eyelids directed by R&M animator Jack Cusumano. Come in for the nifty animation, stay for the catchy song!


 
The main Eyelids are John Moen from Decemberists and Chris Slusarenko of Guided by Voices and Boston Spaceships. For their Eyelids collaboration the duo indulge their fondness for earworm California “sunshine pop,” New Zealand’s Flying Nun Records groups and the jangly guitars of the early 80s Los Angeles “Paisley Underground” psych scene. Their new self-titled, four-song EP, produced by REM’s Peter Buck features two originals—“Bound to Let You Down” and “Broken Continue” as well as cover versions of John Cale’s “Only Time Will Tell” and The Dream Syndicate classic “Halloween.”

The new Eyelids EP, on limited edition colored vinyl from Jealous Butcher / Schizophonic Records, comes with a download card featuring three exclusive live videos (including Stephen Malkmus performing “Hey Joe” w/ Eyelids).
 

 
Eyelids will be touring with The Charlatans on their upcoming US cross-country trek, culminating in a hometown gig:

Nov 9 Milwaukee, WI Turner Ballroom
Nov 10 New York, NY Webster Hall
Nov 12 Washington, DC Howard Theater
Nov 13 Chicago, IL House of Blues
Nov 15 Los Angeles, CA The Fonda
Nov 16 San Francisco, CA The Regency
Nov 18 Sacramento, CA Ace of Spades
Nov 19 Portland, OR Crystal Ballroom
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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