follow us in feedly
The Beach Boys’ eleven-minute disco atrocity from 1979 will take you straight to Hell
06.16.2016
08:24 am

Topics:
Dance
Music

Tags:
disco
Beach Boys


 
While Brian Wilson and Al Jardine are touring the world in celebration of Pet Sounds’ 50th anniversary, it might be instructive to compare the Beach Boys’ masterpiece, not with their contemporaries’ achievements, but with the band’s own creative nadir.

Of course I’m talking about 1979’s interminable disco odyssey “Here Comes the Night.” If only an actual sunset lasted so long. Not to be confused with Bert Berns’ “Here Comes the Night,” made famous by Them and covered on Bowie’s Pin Ups, the Beach Boys’ “Here Comes the Night” first appeared on 1967’s “white soul” album Wild Honey. The three-minute original remains a lovely, if minor, Brian Wilson composition, its chords marked by the uncanny stink of divinity.

For their 1979 debut on Caribou Records, the Beach Boys took a page out of their former collaborator Charles Manson’s book, dismembering the song, painting the walls with its blood and sticking a fork in its belly. If you think I’m exaggerating, go ahead and push “play” at the bottom of the post. Sure you’re tough enough? It’s real witchy.

(This shocking atrocity proves that, of all the songs in the catalog, only “Never Learn Not to Love” should have been considered for the disco treatment. The merciless beat would have lent itself to Manson’s pro-orgy, anti-person message. And imagine if the ‘X’ on the forehead had become part of the “disco lifestyle”!)
 

At the Reagan White House, 1983
 
It seemed that Brian Wilson had come back into full possession of his gifts on 1977’s The Beach Boys Love You, but he, or they, had gone fishin’ when the time came to work on L.A. (Light Album). Deprived of Brian’s genius, the Boys and producer Bob Esty had only their cruelty to guide them in the studio, and the result is the most punishing eleven minutes in the history of recorded music. Not that anyone noticed, if the book The Beach Boys FAQ is to be believed:

CBS and the Beach Boys ate dirt when the disco single not only failed to make the Top Forty, but the album failed to make the Top Ninety-Nine!

Hitmaker Esty was responsible for Andy Williams’ disco remake of “Love Story,” also released in ‘79, and he let it be known that he would only disco-fy songs by artists of real class. He sharply criticized Lawrence Welk accordionist Myron Floren’s Disco Polka in Billboard later that year, explaining that not just anyone could have a crossover hit. What I’m saying is, he really put Lawrence Welk accordionist Myron Floren in his place.

Duty compels me to suggest that you read up on the buddy system and safewords before listening to this recording. This is the exactly the kind of thing Tipper Gore and the PMRC should have been looking into—except the PMRC was funded by Beach Boy Mike Love (who I’ve heard is a super nice guy and whose own band knew a couple fuckwords). Could he have been paying them not to look into his past?

Listen to this four-on-the-floor Beach Boys atrocity after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘New Madness at the Discothèque’: Velvet Underground in LIFE magazine exposé of 1966’s groovy scene


 
Issues of LIFE magazine from the mid- to late ‘60s can be a real trip, because they didn’t flinch from the changes happening in Western society during that time. True to its mandate, LIFE forthrightly addressed the rise of the drug culture, shocking new fashions, and the war in Vietnam, among many other topics that would have given the average reader in small-town America occasion for wonderment and concern.

The November 26, 1965, issue is commonly cited as a turning point—LIFE put on its cover a shocking photograph of a blindfolded Viet Cong prisoner being held by Marines, under the headline “The Blunt Reality of War in Vietnam.”

Just a few months later, in the May 27, 1966, issue, LIFE took a look at the groovalicious occurrences to be found in the discotheques across the country. The cover headline ran “New Madness at the Discothèque” but inside the story boasted the even more delightful headline “Wild New Flashy Bedlam of the Discothèque.”

I’m not 100% sure of this, but I suspect that the use of the French word discothèque would have been quite a bit weirder to U.S. audiences of that moment, than it is now—in other words its deployment represented a subtle bid to shock and discomfort the magazine’s staider readers.

The article in question was really a photo essay and therefore no writer was credited, even though the pictures are accompanied by generous captions. Since the story covered dance clubs in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, LIFE relied on a team of photographers that consisted of Steve Schapiro, T. Tanuma, Yale Joel, Declan Haun, and John Zimmerman.
 

The Exploding Plastic Inevitable play the Trip, May 1966
 
The first photo in the spread, on the top of p. 72, actually shows an unnamed Lou Reed and Co. playing a club called the Trip in Los Angeles, mentioned in the caption as the Exploding Plastic Inevitable under the aegis of Andy Warhol. The Velvet Underground actually were slated to play the Trip from May 3-18 but the sheriff’s dept. closed the joint down after the May 5 show. The article mentions none of that, interestingly.

Here’s a poster advertising that run at the Trip. Jim Morrison was apparently there on opening night. VU’s openers were the Mothers of Invention, but there was some evident friction between the two bands, and a local act called the Doors was apparently considered as a replacement for the Mothers’ slot, but it never happened.

The biggest club in the new scene, according to the piece, was called Arthur in New York, which was named after a quip from A Hard Day’s Night and was located at 154 East 54th Street. It was founded by Richard Burton’s first wife.

Other clubs mentioned in the piece were Bob Goldstein’s Lightworks lab (at the time he was going by “Bobb Goldsteinn”), which was based out of the Village; Cheetah at Broadway & 53rd, which Howie Pyro looked at for DM two years ago; the pulsating Le Bison in Chicago; and an enormous venue called The World, which was converted from an airplane hangar located in Garden City, New York.

In his book The Last Party: Studio 54, Disco, and the Culture of the Night Anthony Haden-Guest provides an interesting account of Le Bison’s signature attraction, “the Translator,” which
 

coded music into electrical pulses that activated a flashing light system. You could say that Ferri was fulfilling a project of the Decadents of the nineteenth century, who had dreamed of sense swapping. In one of Rimbaud’s poems each vowel was a color, and the Marquis d’ Esseintes, the hero of a novel by Joris-Karl Huysmans, would inhale scents as though they were a symphony. The “Translator” made ear-to-eye transactions, turning thumping sound into fractious light for the new decadence.

 
More groovy LIFE in the 1960s, after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Satanic strippers: Vintage burlesque performers dance with the devil
05.03.2016
10:35 am

Topics:
Dance
Occult
Sex

Tags:
Satan
burlesque
1930s
1950s
1940s

Actress Marian Martin and a burlesque cape featuring our pal, Satan, 1930s
Actress Marian Martin in a Satan-themed burlesque cape. Martin actually played a dancer named ‘Pinky Lee’ in the 1943 film, ‘Lady of Burlesque’ which was based on the novel ‘The G-String Murders’ written by strip tease queen Gypsy Rose Lee. Martin was not a burlesque performer, but her costume is in the satanic burlesque spirit of this post.
 
Of the many fun things that comes along with being a part of the diverse compendium that is Dangerous Minds, those rare days when my feet hit the floor, and I have no idea what I’m going to write about that day, are not among them. Which is why I try to stockpile posts concerning the guy who should have built my hotrod, Satan, for those kinds of days. Because let’s face it—Satan is a big crowd pleaser among DM’s readership.
 
Burlesque performer Diane de Lys in a publicity photo for her show
Burlesque performer Diane de Lys in a publicity photo for her show ‘The Devil and the Virgin,’ 1953.
 
I hate to admit it, but sadly I know very little about the world of burlesque despite having a few friends who actually work in the field professionally. So the discovery that dancers back in the 1920s and 1930s (and beyond) used an unusual prop—a costume that was split into two distinctly different styles that was used for a “1/2 and 1/2” style of dance performance was sort of new to me.

One side would feature a “normal” kind of stage dress, and the other could be anything from a man or a maybe a gorilla (apparently, after King Kong was released in 1933, the popularity of girl/gorilla acts skyrocketed. Go figure). Or in the case of the images in this post, Satan himself! That said, I’d personally love to see this trend return to the burlesque stage (if it hasn’t already). Many of the photos you are about to see also feature burlesque performers all dolled up like the devil dating as far back as the early 1930s. They are also slightly NSFW. YAY!
 
H/T: To the burlesque treasure trove that is Burly Q Nell.
 
Burlesque performer with satan costume/cape
 
Devil and the Dancer, 1932
Early 1930s.
 
More devilish dancers and their demonic debonair dance partner after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Meet the wild child ‘Tiger Woman’ who tried to kill Aleister Crowley

01wildtigerbetty.jpg
 
The other morning here at Dangerous Minds Towers (Scotland), while I sat sifting through the mailbag looking for presents and antique snuff boxes, m’colleague Tara McGinley popped a fascinating article in front of me about a wild “Tiger Woman.”

At first I thought this tabloid tale was perhaps about the woman who had inspired Roy Wood to write his rather wonderful and grimy little number “Wild Tiger Woman” for The Move. As I read on, I realized this story of a rebellious singer, dancer and artist’s model was unlikely to have been the woman Wood had in mind when he wrote his famous song.

No, this particular “Tiger Woman” was one Betty May Golding—a drug addict, a boozer, and a dabbler in the occult. She had a string of lovers, worked as a prostitute, had been a member of a notorious criminal gang, an alleged Satanist, and had once even tried to murder Aleister Crowley. This was the kind of impressive resumé one would expect from the original “wild child.” Not that Ms. Golding would have given two hoots for any of that:

I have not cared what the world thought of me and as a result what it thought has often not been very kind… I have often lived only for pleasure and excitement.

You go girl!

Betty May was born Elizabeth Marlow Golding into a world of poverty and deprivation in Canning Town, London in 1895. The neighborhood was situated at the heart of the city’s docks—an area described by Charles Dickens as:

...already debased below the point of enmity to filth; poorer labourers live there, because they cannot afford to go farther, and there become debased.

To get an idea how deprived and “debased” this district was—Canning Town even today “remains among the 5% [of the] most deprived areas in the UK.”  Plus ca change…
 
01slumlon.jpg
A typical London slum 1909.
 
When Betty was just an infant, her father left the family home, leaving her mother to support four children on a pittance of 10/- a week—roughly the equivalent of $1.50. The family home was a hovel with no furniture and no beds. The family slept on bundles of rags, cuddling together to keep warm.

Her mother was half-French with beautiful olive complexion and almond eyes. The struggle proved too much for her and Betty was sent off to live with her father who was then residing in a brothel. Her father was an engineer by trade but he preferred to spend his time drinking, fighting and thieving. He was eventually arrested and sent to jail.

In her autobiography Tiger Woman, published in 1929, Betty described herself as a “little brown-faced marmoset ... and the only quick thing in this very slow world.” She earned pennies by dancing and singing on the street.  After her father’s arrest, she was passed from relative to relative eventually staying with an aunt who described her as “a regular little savage.”

One of her earliest memories was finding the body of a pregnant neighbor hanging from a hook. The woman had caught her husband having sex with her sister.

Her face was purple and her eyes bulged like a fish’s. It was rather awful.

Eventually Betty was sent to another aunt who stayed out in the country in Somerset. Here she attended school but soon the teenager was in trouble after having an affair with one of her teachers.

I can hardly say, in the light of what I have learnt since, that we were in love. At least perhaps he was. Certainly I was fond of him.

When their illicit relationship was discovered, Betty was given an ultimatum.

There was a great deal of fuss and it was made clear to me that unless the ­friendship came to an end it would be the schoolmaster who would be made to suffer.

After a rather tearful scene with my aunt I was packed off with a few pounds.

 
01gybetps.jpg
Betty in her gypsy dress.
 
Arriving in London in 1910 Betty could only afford one outfit:

...but every item of it was a different colour. Neither red nor green nor blue nor yellow nor purple was forgotten, for I loved them all equally, and if I was not rich enough to wear them separately ... I would wear them, like Joseph in the Bible, all at once! Colours to me are like children to a loving mother.

With her exotic looks and green eyes, Betty looked every part the gypsy and was later known for her song “The Raggle Taggle Gypsy.” The novelist Anthony Powell described her as looking like a seaside fortune teller. Betty also delighted in her costermonger background:

I am a true coster in my flamboyance and my love of colour, in my violence of feeling and its immediate response in speech and action. Even now I am often caught with a sudden longing regret for the streets of Limehouse as I knew them, for the girls with their gaudy shawls and heads of ostrich feathers, like clouds in a wind, and the men in their caps, silk neckerchiefs and bright yellow pointed boots in which they took such pride. I adored the swagger and the showiness of it all.

 
001cafer.jpg
The Café Royal in 1912 as painted by artist William Orpen.
 
At first, Betty worked as a prostitute before becoming a model, dancer and entertainer at the hip Café Royal.

The lights, the mirrors, the red plush seats, the eccentrically dressed people, the coffee served in glasses, the pale cloudy absinthe ... I felt as if I had strayed by accident into some miraculous Arabian palace… No duck ever took to water, no man to drink, as I to the Café Royal.

The venue was the haunt of Bohemians and artists—Augustus John, Jacob Epstein, the “Queen of Bohemia” Nina Hamnett, heiress Nancy Cunard, William Orpen, Anna Wickham, Iris Tree and Ezra Pound.

Betty’s flamboyance and gypsy attire attracted their interest and she had affairs with many of the regulars. She modelled for Augustus John and Jacob Epstein. Being an artist’s model was a grey area that often crossed into prostitution. Many of May’s contemporaries in “modelling” died in tragic circumstances—either by their own hand or at the hands of a jealous lover.
 
01augjoboat.jpg
The artist Augustus John looking rather pleased with himself.
 
Betty’s life then took the first a many surprising turns when she became involved with a notorious criminal gang.

In 1914, she met a man she nicknamed “Cherub” at a bar who took her to France. Their relationship was platonic but after a night of drinking absinthe Cherub attacked her:

He clasped me round the waist, pinning my arms… I struggled with all the strength fear and hate could give me.

With a supreme effort I succeeded in half-freeing my right arm so that I was enabled to dig my scissors into the fleshy part of his neck.

Betty escaped to Paris where she met up with a man known as the “White Panther” who introduced her into the one of the ciy’s L’Apache gangs. She later claimed it was this gang who nicknamed her “Tiger Woman” after she became involved in a fight with one of the gangster’s girlfriends. When separated by the gang leader she bit into his wrist like a wild animal.

Now part of gang, Betty became involved in various robberies and acts of violence—in one occasion branding a possible informer with a red hot knife. This experience led her to quit Paris.
 
01whitepant.jpg
Apache gang members or hooligans fighting the police in 1904.
 
To be honest, Betty’s autobiography reads at times like a thrilling pulp novel and without corroborative evidence seems more like fiction than fact.

Returning to London, Betty resumed work as a singer and dancer. She sought a husband and found two suitors: the first died after a mysterious boating accident; the second blew his brains out one fine summer’s day. Betty eventually married a trainee doctor Miles L. Atkinson, who introduced her to the joys of cocaine.

I learnt one thing on my ­honeymoon—to take drugs.

Atkinson had an unlimited supply of cocaine via his work with the hospital. The couple embarked on a mad drug frenzy. They fell in with a den of opium smokers. May’s drug intake escalated to 150 grains of cocaine a day plus several pipes of opium. She became paranoid—on one occasion believing the world was against her after ordering a coffee at a cafe and the waiter served it black. She decided to divorce Atkinson, but he was killed in action in 1917 while serving as a soldier in the First World War.

Betty then met and married an Australian called “Roy”—not believed to be his real name—who weaned her off drugs by threatening to beat her if ever he caught her taking any. However, she divorced Roy after catching him having an affair.

Continuing with her career as an artist’s model, Betty sat for Jacob Epstein and Jacob Kramer, who she claimed painted her as the Sphinx.
 
01betsphin.jpg
Jacob Kramer’s painting ‘The Sphinx’ (1918).
 
Her notoriety grew after the publication of a book Dope Darling by David “Bunny” Garnett, which was based on Betty’s life as a coke addict. The book told the story of a man called Roy who falls in love with a dancer Claire at a bohemian cafe. Claire is a drug addict and prostitute. Roy believes he can save Claire by marrying her. Once married, Roy gradually becomes a drug addict too.

In the book, Garnett described Claire as being :

...always asked to all the parties given in the flashy Bohemian world in which she moved. No dance, gambling party, or secret doping orgy was complete without her. Under the effect of cocaine which she took more and more recklessly, she became inspired by a wild frenzy, and danced like a Bacchante, drank off a bottle of champagne, and played a thousand wild antics

But all of this was by way of a warm-up to her meeting the Great Beast.
 
01dopedbet.jpg
‘Dope Darling’ by David Garnett.
 
In 1922, Betty met and married the poet Frederick Charles Loveday (aka Raoul Loveday). This dear boy (aged about twenty or twenty-one) was an acolyte of Aleister Crowley. With a first class degree from Oxford University and a book of published poems to his name, Loveday was utterly dedicated to Crowley and to his study of the occult.

Crowley first met Loveday at a dive in London called the Harlequin. He liked Loveday—saw his potential and claimed he was his heir apparent—but he said this about many other young man that took his fancy. He was however reticent in his praise for May—describing her as a “charming child, tender and simple of soul” but impaired by an alleged childhood accident he believed had “damaged her brain permanently so that its functions were discontinuous.” This condition was exacerbated by her drug addiction—though he was complimentary in her strength of will in curing herself.

Crowley believed he could save Loveday from the “vagabonds, squalid and obscene, who constituted the court of Queen Betty.”

In his Confessions, Crowley recounted a typical scene of Betty “at work” in the Harlequin:

In a corner was his wife, three parts drunk, on the knees of a dirty-faced loafer, pawed by a swarm of lewd hogs, breathless with lust. She gave herself greedily to their gross and bestial fingerings and was singing in an exquisite voice ... an interminable smutty song, with a ribald chorus in which they all joined.

 
02crowleyshadowpuppet.jpg
Aleister Crowley
 
Crowley moved to Sicily where he established his Abbey of Thelema at Cefalu. He wanted Loveday—and to a lesser extent May—to join him there. However, Loveday had been ill after an operation and several friends including Nina Hamnett warned him off going. But Loveday was determined and the couple traveled to the Abbey.

Arriving there in the fall of 1922, Betty and Loveday were soon party to various sex magic rituals under Crowley’s direction. On one occasion, Betty chanced upon a box filled with blood soaked neckties. When she asked Crowley what these were, he replied that they had belonged to Jack the Ripper and were stained with the blood of his victims.

Crowley may have tut-tutted about Betty’s sexual hi-jinks with other men in the club, but he didn’t seem to mind all the fucking and sucking that went on at the Abbey. Betty was unsure about Crowley. She was intrigued by the occult and her superstition kept her belief from wavering. But she never fully trusted him.

Everything came to a head after a black mass where Crowley commanded Loveday to kill a cat and drink its blood. Crowley claimed the cat was possessed by an evil spirit. Loveday beheaded the cat and greedily drank its blood. Within hours he fell ill and died, on February 16th, 1923.

Betty blamed Crowley for her husband’s death and swore revenge—deciding to kill him.
 
More on Betty May and her life of sex and drugs and the occult, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Happy 22nd birthday to the legendary 88-year-old burlesque queen Tempest Storm!
02.29.2016
09:23 am

Topics:
Dance
Sex

Tags:
burlesque
Tempest Storm


 
Cheers to all the Leap Day babies, for they stay forever young! Some notable Leap Day birthday celebrants who may be of interest to DM readers include the mononymic Brazilian illustrator Jaguar, the extraordinary experimental hip-hop artist Saul Williams, and the serial killers Aileen Wuornos and Richard Ramirez. But today, we’re concerned with an iconic burlesque artist with a redundant stage name: Tempest Storm. Born Annie Banks 88 years ago on February, 29th, 1928, she celebrates her 22nd birthday today.
 

 

 
Along with Blaze Starr (RIP 2015), Storm was one of the performers who sat squarely atop that great last gasp of American burlesque that existed on the west coast in the mid-1950s, when cinematic expressions of the form like Striporama, Varietease, and Teaserama brought a tame form of striptease to New Yorkers and hinterlanders, where many actual strip clubs had been put out of business by social puritans. In person, though, it was anything but tame: Storm distinguished herself not just with a massive chest (though obviously that would hardly have been a demerit), but with a larger-than-life persona and outsized stage moves which not only bolstered the flagging form, but which spoke directly through the decades to the burlesque revival currently ongoing. From Rachel Shteir’s Striptease: The Untold History of the Girlie Show:

In the South and the West, a flamboyant striptease was emerging. The woman epitomizing this style was Tempest Storm. Beginning in the early 1950s at the Follies Theater and the El Rey in Oakland, Storm stripped and did highly exaggerated bumps and grinds. Journalists described her as “a force of nature,” as they had Ann Corio in the 1930s, but here the phrase was meant to be even less glamorous and more parodic. “The ‘Storm’ Returns,” one of Storm’s posters read. Storm wore a leopard-print bra in pinup photos and even considered recording an album, which she wanted to call Stormy Weather.

Born Annie Blanche Banks in Appalachia in 1928, Storm escaped into stripping from a turbulent home life. She fled an abusive father at age sixteen, and after a few years’ worth of detours and marriages, came to Los Angeles after the war. She first stripped at the Follies Theater at the end of 1951, under the name Stormy Dan. Quickly, she changed it to Tempest Storm. In keeping with the national trend of “oversized” strippers, Storm’s appeal relied less on grace or charm than on her dimensions. A 1955 Playboy pictorial, “Tempest in a C-Cup,” did exactly that.

 
More Tempest Storm after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
The Pet Shop Boys’ ‘West End Girls’ was the #1 single 30 years ago. Feel old?
01.21.2016
03:13 pm

Topics:
Dance
Music

Tags:
Pet Shop Boys


 
For a certain cohort among our readership, the next sentence will undoubtedly cause a collective sigh, groan, gasp, wince… what have you: It was thirty years ago this month that the Pet Shop Boys single “West End Girls” became #1 on the UK music charts and soon thereafter in America too.

That information came to me via the Pet Shop Boys’ Twitter feed this morning and boy did it make me feel old. For whatever dumb reason, I can actually recall exactly where I was when I first heard the tune myself.

And then I realized that this “certain cohort” (i.e. people my age) are dwarfed in size, by quite a hefty margin, of our “millennial” readers who would most likely know the song, first and foremost, by its inclusion on the Grand Theft Auto V soundtrack in 2013. It’s all relative how we got here, but most people can probably agree that it’s a great song, no matter the decade.
 

 
I was fortunate enough to see the Pet Shop Boys, in their prime, on their world tour of 1991 during a two-night, sold-out stand at Radio City Music Hall. It was an amazing spectacle, very much along the lines of an extremely elaborate Broadway musical, an all-singing, all-dancing over-the-top extravaganza that saw Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe traipsing through their greatest hits in a tightly choreographed two-hour set with an intermission. Practically every other song was a production number with a different scenario, setting and costumes. (“It’s a Sin,” for instance had horny boarding school boys reading porn mags with flashlights under the bedsheets after the headmaster turns the lights out, before the female dancers enter. In another number Neil Tennant was dressed as Elvis as a bunch of pigs pranced around him.)

The vocals, by Neil Tennant and others, were live, but the music was more or less canned, with an offstage guitarist and keyboardist. Chris Lowe mostly looked dour and said about as much as Harpo Marx, but this is what the fans wanted, of course. I’m sure there might have been a few women there, but my memory of it is that there were very, very few ladies in attendance. (Unlike, I might add, when I saw Maxwell at Radio City a few years later and was probably the only guy in the entire audience.)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘80s goths spied dancing in their natural habitats
12.23.2015
08:54 am

Topics:
Dance
Pop Culture
Punk

Tags:
goth
dancing


 
I always get a little excited when I run across some previously unseen vintage footage of dancing goths that has bubbled up to the surface. There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of documentation of early ‘80s goths dancing in their natural habitats. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that goths have traditionally been viewed as terrible dancers? We’ll just roll the footage and let our readers be the judge of that.

First up on this goth dancing hit parade is a clip which purports to be from 1983. The song in the clip is the extended single mix of The Cure’s “Let’s Go To Bed” which was released in 1982. Unfortunately the upload doesn’t offer more info as to the location of the club. If anyone knows, please comment. Some of the outfits here are wonderfully racy.
 

 
More dancing goths from the 1980s, after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Dance troupe interprets Neil Young’s ultra-depressing 1974 album ‘On the Beach’
12.14.2015
04:11 pm

Topics:
Dance
Music

Tags:
Neil Young


 
Released in 1974, On the Beach is one of Neil Young’s more intriguing efforts. It’s also one of Young’s albums that could fairly be called “elusive”—it took an online petition to secure a CD release of On the Beach, which finally occurred in 2003. The LP went out of print in the early 1980s, making it an especially rare find for vinyl enthusiasts.

In the liner notes to Young’s compilation album Decade, the songwriter wrote, “‘Heart of Gold’ put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch.” From this turn of phrase sprang forth the notion of Young’s “Ditch Trilogy,” which includes On the Beach, 1973’s Time Fades Away and culminated with Tonight’s the Night.
 

 
Moody and unsparing, jammed with images of loneliness and apocalypse, On the Beach miraculously avoids succumbing to bleakness; instead Young manages to transcend and transmute the innate pessimism of his vision. Ironically, considering that the album incorporates visions of assassinating noted cinema personalities from Laurel Canyon in their cars, the recording sessions for On the Beach were “Hollywood Babylon at its fullest,” as bassist Tim Drummond observed. As Jimmy McDonough wrote in Shakey, a biography of Neil Young, “It was a nonstop sleazefest,” with porn star Linda Lovelace and various Playboy bunnies making regular appearances. The edgy languor of the album surely a product of the “honey slides” everyone involved consumed during recording. “Honey slides” were a combination of pan-fried marijuana and honey dreamt up by musician Rusty Kershaw’s wife “until a black gooey substance was left in the pan,” as Young wrote in his memoir Waging Heavy Peace. “A couple spoonfuls of that and you would be laid-back into the middle of next week. The record was slow and dreamy, kind of underwater without bubbles.”

Young, of course, is Canadian—perhaps the most famous Canadian musician of them all. Earlier this year a dance troupe in Winnipeg known as Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers decided to honor their countryman with a dance performance inspired by On the Beach. The project, called For the Turnstiles after the fourth track of the album, was the brainchild of Brent Lott, who enlisted John K. Samson, formerly of Propagandhi and the Weakerthans, to compose an original live score with the assistance of Christine Fellows, Ashley Au, and fellow Weakerthans member Jason Tait. The performances were held at Gas Station Arts Centre in Winnipeg from May 7 to 9, 2015.
 
In an interview with CBC, Samson discussed the evolution of the For the Turnstiles project and the special qualities of the album On the Beach:
 

 
The following photographs from the production are by Winnipeg photographer Leif Norman:
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Trick or treat? The best/worst ‘Thriller’ dance routine will give you nightmares forever
10.26.2015
05:00 am

Topics:
Dance
Music

Tags:
Michael Jackson
Stairway to Stardom
Thriller


 
Here’s a Halloween treat for our readers. Or maybe a trick?

It all depends on your tolerance for inept dance moves and tacky ‘80s public access production values.

Stairway to Stardom was a New York City public access variety show that aired from 1979 to the early 1990s. Many of the guests had questionable talent and clips from the show were circulating even pre-Internet among VHS tape-traders looking for the next weirdest thing. The appeal of many of the show’s “stars” had more to do with the effects of schadenfreude rather than distinguishable talent. The show’s producers were gloriously non-discerning.

The advent of YouTube has brought a lot of gems from Stairway to Stardom to light. Personally I’ll always recommend Lucille Cataldo’s “Hairdresser” and Precious Taft’s dramatic monologue, but today we’re going to take a look at Lola Perazzo who does an unbelievably stiff, awkward, herky-jerky interpretive dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in a tragically ill-fitting body-suit—capped off with a classic “is it over yet?” finale.
 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Over 35 years later, the first ‘hardcore’ record gets a music video—with tap dancing
10.22.2015
08:46 am

Topics:
Dance
Music

Tags:
hardcore
Middle Class
Rob Zabrecky


 
Released in early January 1979, the debut seven inch EP by Santa Ana, California’s Middle Class is considered by many punk historians to be the first “hardcore” record.

That is to say, it was the earliest release that displays a stylistic shift from what was known at the time as “punk rock” to a shorter-faster-louder style of playing that would come to be associated with the burgeoning hardcore scene. It is certainly ranked among Black Flag’s Nervous Breakdown EP (released late January, 1979) and Bad Brains “Pay to Cum” single (released June of 1980) as the earliest stylistic harbingers of “hardcore.”
 

 
While the Middle Class are certainly less known and regarded than their contemporaries Black Flag and Bad Brains, their importance to the late 70s California punk scene should not be dismissed. Now, more than 35 years after its release, the title track from their Out of Vogue EP may finally get some recognition.

Classic independent LA punk label, Frontier Records, have released a brand new music video for the song. Instead of cobbling together some grainy super 8 or primitive video footage of the band, the bold directorial choice was made to have a middle-aged man tap-dance to the song on a sidewalk.

The dancer in the clip is Rob Zabrecky, who will be known to many of our readers as the singer of the (fucking great) 90s band Possum Dixon.

Zabrecky also happens to be one of the best magicians I’ve ever seen live, in addition to being a vocalist and (exquisite) dancer.

Certainly this is what no one expected, but the aesthetic fits the idea: OUT OF VOGUE.

We don’t need your magazines
We don’t need you fashion show
We don’t need your TV
We don’t want to know

We don’t need we get our fill
It’s esoteric overkill
It’s a shiny new aesthetic
Get us out of vogue

Everything about this performance SCREAMS “out of vogue”:
 

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Page 1 of 19  1 2 3 >  Last ›