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Never mind the Shatner, the ‘Star Trek’ cast member with the golden voice was Nichelle Nichols

May the gods eternally bless Rhino Records for so many reasons, but one of that label’s greatest contributions to weird society was the Golden Throats series of compilation albums. It endeavored—and largely succeeded—at bringing wide attention to one of my favorite vinyl collectibles sub-obsessions: celebrities not known for singing who nonetheless and against all reason recorded albums on which they sang, often very, very poorly. Adding to the kitsch appeal of the phenomenon, these albums were usually lounge or easy listening, and were often recorded in total earnest.

Notably, key Star Trek cast members William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy were disproportionally represented on those Rhino comps, appearing on all four installments in the series, and scoring four tracks between them on the first one alone. Shatner’s stilted cover songs have become legendary on the basis of just one completely bonkers album, 1968’s The Transformed Man which manages to be a major head-trip both intentionally AND accidentally. Nimoy released about a half-dozen musical albums, a couple of which are Trek themed affairs on which he sometimes sings in-character as Spock, which have moments that approach the outsidery awesomeness of the Shatner LP. The rest are straightforward folk-pop albums, which are unironically not half bad at all.

Sadly, DeForest Kelley never made a musical LP, so it’s impossible to collect a complete discography of Trek’s archetypal Freudian trio. HOWEVER, there was more music to be found on the bridge: the recordings of Nichelle “Lt. Uhura” Nichols were totally neglected by Rhino when they assembled the Golden Throats comps (probably because she was actually really good). Between 1967 and 1991, she released three full lengths (sort of), two 7” singles, and an EP. Before she blazed a massively important trail for non-servile representation of African-American women on broadcast TV, Nichols sang with both Duke Ellington’s and Lionel Hampton’s bands, and she debuted as a solo recording artist with 1967’s Down to Earth. The title was an obvious nod to her stellar day job, and fittingly, the music was anything but cosmic. It’s a lightly jazzy lounge pop album, typical of its time, and loaded with standards and showtunes.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘Raw Power’: The vintage ‘zine run by teens who took on rock & punk (and won) back in the mid-70s

The cover of Raw Power magazine featuring Iggy Pop, 1977.

“I’m gonna die anyway and I’d prefer it to be at my leisure.”

—Iggy Pop on his admission that he only planned to live “two more years” back in 1977 in an interview with Raw Power magazine

Founded by the sixteen-year-old duo of Scott Stephens (who wrote under the name “Quick Draw”) and Robert Olshever (aka “Bobalouie”) the LA-based ‘zine Raw Power got started in 1976 and almost immediately got the attention of major record labels who would give Stephens and Olshever an all access pass to rock and punk stars like Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, DEVO, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Van Halen, the Ramones and other musical luminaries that the average sixteen-year-old only got close to by way of their poster-covered bedroom walls.

The teenage masterminds behind Raw Power Magazine (L to R): Robert Olshever (Bobalouie), Scott Stephens (Quick Draw) and Murray Schwartz.
Joined later by Murray Schwartz (who would take photographs for the magazine) Raw Power would publish for about three years and routinely featured all the stuff you’d expect to find in a magazine that fused the worlds of rock and punk together like interviews, album reviews and that—according to an archive of the magazine run by Stephens—LOVED to publish unedited “letter to the editor” many of which were laced with obscenity. And here’s a rather mind-blowing revelation from Stephens which took place during an interview with Ozzy in 1979 right after Osbourne (who repeatedly “teared up” during the interview) had been given his walking papers by Black Sabbath. According to Stephens it was the boys of Raw Power who recommended pint-sized guitar virtuoso Randy Rhoads to Osbourne for his new band which at the time Ozz was considering calling “Son of Sabbath.”

Ozzy was quite depressed during this time but had recently met Sharon Arden and was in the process of putting together a new group that would eventually record “Blizzard of Ozz”. It was during this interview that members of Raw Power suggested to Ozzy that he consider auditioning a guitarist by the name of Randy Rhoads. Randy was the guitarist of Quiet Riot and Raw Power had interviewed them for a cover story for the 2nd issue in 1977. Shortly thereafter Ozzy auditioned Randy and hired him on the spot. The rest is history.

When the 2000 film by Cameron Crowe Almost Famous came out many of folks in the trio’s circle immediately thought that the flick was about them—which should help put some perspective on how much of an impact Raw Power made in its short run despite its humble design and young founders. As I mentioned Stephens runs an archive for Raw Power where you can read through three issues in full, which I did and I can’t lie—it was a blast. I’ve posted a few images from the magazine as well as some fantastic vintage photos of Stephens and his cohorts cavorting with the likes of Ronnie James Dio, Iggy Pop, Geezer Butler and Ozzy among others. Raw Power was also one of the only publications to have the opportunity to get some great live shots of Van Halen (taken by Murray Schwartz) while they were still performing in the LA club scene back in 1977. These had never been seen outside of the magazine until they were posted over at the Van Halen News Desk in 2014.

Scott Stephens of Raw Power Magazine with Iggy Pop, 1977.

Stephens with Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath.
More ‘Raw Power’ after the jump…

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Van Halen wanted to crush a Volkswagen Beetle with a tank in 1979… just to piss off Aerosmith
08:59 am


Van Halen

Van Halen on top of a Sherman tank at the CaliFFornia World Music Festival in LA, 1979.
Today’s rock and roll history lesson comes courtesy of David Lee Roth’s highly entertaining 2000 autobiography Crazy From the Heat in which DLR recalls the details about the time VH rented a Sherman tank so they could destroy a vintage VW Bug—all to spite Aerosmith. According to Roth the occasion would mark the last time that he would ever speak to Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and the rest of the boys in Aerosmith. Say what you want about Aerosmith but if you’ve got Boston blood flowing through your veins then you also know how to hold a wicked long-term grudge, pal.

Van Halen at the CaliFFornia World Music Festival, 1979.
The story goes that back in 1979 were a part of the CaliFFornia World Music Festival held at the LA Coliseum and on the second night of the two-day festival Van Halen was co-headlining the gig with Aerosmith—who would to on to temporarly implode six-months later after the release of their sixth record Night in the Ruts (or as we called it back in the day in Boston “Right in the Nuts”). In an effort to one-up Aerosmith, the troublemakers in Van Halen cooked up a plan that involved renting a Sherman tank from a local Hollywood prop shop and the purchase of a couple of yellow VW Beetles. The idea was that announcements made over the Coliseum’s PA system would lay the groundwork for folks to think that one of the members of Aerosmith parked the Bug illegally and were asking for it to be moved. The “punchline” in all this excessive craziness was that the tank would roll out just as Van Halen took the stage, crushing the Bug to bits. Sadly someone in VH’s camp must have been a Boston native because Aerosmith caught wind of Van Halen’s shenanigans and had already come up with a plan of their own to one-up the tank gag and VH aborted their awesome caper.

Since Van Halen does not fuck around when it comes to fucking around they actually tested out the prank by having a hired driver roll the tank down some stairs over one of the yellow Beetles which sent debris hurtling in all directions including one of the doors that Roth still has in his massive collection of Van Halen related artifacts. Luckily a few images of the mighty VH riding on top of the tank and Roth taking a swipe at the pile of rubble that was formerly a VW bug like the charming ringmaster of mayhem that he is exist which I’ve posted below. In my mind if VH had actually pulled this one off the already dangerously drug-addled Aerosmith might have called it a day right then and there and we never would have had to endure the shambolic record that is Night in the Ruts (full disclosure—I love that record and I welcome your hate mail). I’ve included some other photos taken at the festival like the little people security detail “employed” by Van Halen and a few other gems that will make you wish you were there yourself (though I’m sure that at least a few of our DM readers probably were).

More after the jump…

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Elf: Early recordings of Dio covering Led Zeppelin, Chuck Berry & Black Sabbath in 1972

Like many of our DM readers I’m a huge fan of everything that the late Ronnie James Dio did during his time walking among us mere mortals. Dio’s love of music started early and by the late 50’s at the age of fifteen he was already gigging regularly with a band. When it came time for Dio to graduate high school he apparently turned down a scholarship (which he earned for playing the trumpet, a discipline that Dio credited his powerful vocal range to) at the plush and prestigious Juilliard School to pursue a career in rock and roll. The band that Dio started out with, The Vegas Kings went through several name/lineup changes until they ended up settling on the proggy sounding The Electric Elves that in turn evolved into the more metal-edged sounding moniker Elf sometime in the early part of 1970s.

Once the 70s rolled around Dio (and most of the rest of Elf) ended up hooking up with one of the guitar gods Dio would perform with during his career Ritchie Blackmore, and that relationship produced three Rainbow albums including one of my favorite records of all time 1978’s Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll. The reason I’m giving you my take on what the heavy metal history books refer to as Ronnie James Dio 101 is because when I mentioned in the title of this post that Dio was “covering” Black Sabbath I thought it might cause a few of our readers to throw a massive lump of “duh” in my general direction. But this is RJD circa 1972—a full seven years before he would front the sludgy outfit after Sabbath fired Ozzy who had become so “undependable” in 1979 that he stopped showing up to most of the band’s rehearsals. So to hear Elf along with Dio slaying one of Sabbath’s most epic jams, 1970’s “War Pigs” for a full nine-minutes in 1972 is rather surreal to say the least.

Ronnie James Dio, Ritchie Blackmore and Mr. Blackmore’s very metal Pilgrim hat.
The other notable covers that Elf performed live and recorded as demos back in 1972 (that became the bootleg known as Elf: War Pigs ‘72) are a mish-mash of hits from bands like The Who, Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin and even the odd Rod Stewart song. As a forever fan of all things Black Sabbath it’s nothing short of thrilling to listen to Dio take on Chuck Berry’s 1959 classic “Little Queenie” and win. I’m not going to go so far as to tell you that the all of the recordings are good, because they aren’t. But I did post a few of my favorite tracks from War Pigs ‘72 and feel like it’s an interesting snapshot into where Dio was headed and something that any hardcore fan of RJD would brag about owning just for its high (and slightly odd) nostalgia factor. I also included an original Elf track called “Driftin” which is a dreamy track reminiscent of Queen that really showcases Dio’s remarkable vocal range. Devil horns OUT!
Listen to early Ronnie James Dio after the jump…

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‘Divine decadence, darling’: Photos from behind the scenes of Bob Fosse’s ‘Cabaret’

In the right circumstances of time, place and imagination—it is possible to time travel. This was firmly impressed upon me in my teens while reading Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin. I had just moved to Glasgow as a student and was renting a room in an apartment owned by a birdlike lady who whistled music hall songs and sniffed pecks of snuff from the back of her hand. She was retired. Renting a room supplemented her meagre state pension. Now here’s the connection: she had once been a furrier in Berlin during the 1930s and had witnessed at first hand the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. She had seen the Jewish shops vandalized and some of her Jewish friends disappear to who knew where?

It wasn’t just the fact this dear old lady had an experience of the events which I was reading in Mr. Isherwood’s book—but the flat in which I was a lodger had been untouched since the 1930s. The whole interior decoration, the heavy furniture, the coal fire, the carpeting and rugs, the cast iron bed, the wooden mantlepiece, the dressing table with vanity mirror—everything in the apartment was as it had been in the days before the Second World War.

Only in the kitchen was there any capitulation to modern technology. A 1950s fridge and an electric cooker unused—still wrapped in its protective polythene. I cooked simple meals off a bunsen burner gas ring—a blackout cooker as my landlady called it. It was winter. The apartment was cold. At night I could hear, like Isherwood’s central character, the men outside whistling in the dark. Except these men were not calling to their lovers to come to the windows but to their dogs in the small misty park nearby. In such circumstances of place and time and imagination, it was all too easy to find myself transported to the decade of Goodbye to Berlin.

That snowbound Christmas I watched Cabaret on television. A multi-award-winning film version of the musical inspired by Isherwood’s Berlin novels. I must have seen that film about thirty times since. It is an almost perfect movie—story, character, sex, politics, and a powerful overarching narrative. Not to mention Liza—with a “Z”—Minnelli at the very height of her talents. Based mainly on the short story “Sally Bowles” from Goodbye to Berlin and John Van Druten’s adapted play of the book I Am a Camera, Bob Fosse’s film Cabaret captured the mood of Isherwood’s writing.

The film starred Michael York as Isherwood’s alter ego—named here Brian Roberts, Liza Minnelli as night club singer Sally Bowles, Helmut Griem as rich playboy Maximilian von Heune and the incomparable Joel Grey as the Master of Ceremonies at the Kit Kat Klub.

Apparently director Bob Fosse wanted to play the MC himself but the studio insisted on Grey. The film was shot at the Bavaria Film Studios in Germany—well out of Hollywood’s reach. One day the studios cabled Fosse to say he was spending too much money on smoke for the nightclub scenes. Fosse read the telegram out to the assembled cast. Then he ripped it up and threw it over his shoulder. That was the end of Hollywood’s involvement. Fosse had been considered a risky choice as director. His previous film Sweet Charity had flopped disastrously. Away from the studio’s interference, Fosse was able to achieve what he wanted. Cabaret swept eight Academy Awards from ten nominations.
Joel Grey as the Master of Ceremonies.
More photos from the making of ‘Cabaret,’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The owls are not what they seem: Intimate photos taken on the set of the original ‘Twin Peaks’

Agent Dale Cooper (played by Kyle MacLachlan) having fun smashing glass with his head on the set of ‘Twin Peaks.’

I have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.
Agent Dale Cooper

Many of the photos in this post captured while the cameras weren’t rolling on the set of Twin Peaks were taken by actor Richard Beymer (who played ‘Benjamin Horne’ in the series) after the photographer hired to take promotional shots for the film quit (you can still buy a few of Beymer’s beautiful photos here). Others are what appear to be candid photos including an amusing polaroid of director David Lynch yelling into the ear of actress Grace Zabriskie (who played Laura Palmer’s mother Sarah in the original series) with a megaphone.

Deputy ‘Tommy Hawk Hill’ (played by actor Michael Horse) hanging out with a deer head.
As pretty much everyone on the face of the earth has been following along with the drama that has surrounded the return of Twin Peaks to TV (predicted to occur sometime in 2017) after Lynch said sayonara to the folks at Showtime via a series of Tweets to his “Twitter Friends” noting that he had himself began to notify the cast that he was no longer attached to the shows revival. Thankfully for lovers of the Log Lady about a month later the one-of-a-kind master of cult films decided to come back as did pretty much every one of the members of the original cast. And if that’s not enough for you to get excited about the fact that television is about to get really fucking weird again the show will start shooting scenes in location around Washington State specifically North Bend—the home of Twede’s Cafe that still serves up “Twin Peaks” signature cherry pie and of course “a damn fine cup o’ coffee.”

Loads of cool behind-the-scenes shots from 1990 series follow.

Actress Grace Zabriskie (Sarah Palmer) and David Lynch on the set filming one of the last episodes of ‘Twin Peaks’ on March 13th, 1991.

‘Caroline Powell Earle’ (played by Brenda Mathers), David Lynch and ‘Annie Blackburn’ (played by Heather Graham).
More after the jump…

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Early-Black Sabbath ephemera including postcards from a young Ozzy Osbourne head to auction
02:23 pm


Black Sabbath
Ozzy Osbourne

An early shot of Black Sabbath.

Arrived here safely, but it is not a very nice place, I don’t think the people like long hair.

Black Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne in a postcard to his parents while the band was on tour during their early days.

Memorabilia from the early days of Black Sabbath including a rare show poster advertising the band under their original name “Earth” will head to an auction at the end of September at the Sheffield Auction Gallery. According to the house the items were discovered by a resident of the the town of Sheffield in a building that was set to be torn down in the London Docklands area in the 1980s.

In addition to the Earth-era ephemera are early publicity photos of the band as well as handwritten lyrics and a large number of postcards written by Ozzy Osbourne to his family (including Ozzy’s first wife Thelma Mayfair) while the band was out touring the world. And while I’m on the topic of the postcards from Ozz I took the liberty of transcribing one note Mr. Osbourne sent to his Mom and Dad from France that is so sweet it might hurt your teeth while reading it. Unless you’re reading this somewhere in France of course:


Dear Mom + Dad

Arrived here safely but IT IS NOT a very nice place, I don’t think that the people like long hair. We start playing tomorrow afternoon at 3-OCLOCK until 7-OCLOCK on the night. But apart from that I am still in one peace. By the way don’t forget we are on the radio next Saturday, I hope Iris and the baby are alright. I might phone Jean on my birthday. See soon.

Lots of Love, John xxxxxx

Awww. The heavy metal artifacts (that date from the years 1968-1973) are being presented as one lot which means everything in it goes to one buyer and is expected to fetch anywhere between $2500-$3800 bucks. Images of a few of items in the lot follow.

Earth-era show poster, late 60s.

Handwritten lyrics for ‘The Wizard’ that would appear on the Sabbath’s eponymous debut.

Handwritten lyrics from the ‘Earth’ era of Black Sabbath called ‘Changing Phases.’ The song would become ‘Solitude’ from Sabbath’s 1971 record, ‘Masters of Reality.’

Two postcards written by Ozzy to his parents while the band was off on tour. Awww.
H/T: Antiques Trade Gazette

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R. Crumb illustrates incest, murder & other sordid situations from the ‘Book of Genesis’ (NSFW)
12:18 pm


R. Crumb
Book of Genesis


It was hard to draw God. Should God just be a bright light? Should I use word balloons? Should God be a woman?

—R. Crumb on his 2009 illustrated version of the “Book of Genesis”

According to seminal underground comic book artist and illustrator of gargantuan women Robert Crumb, his unique artistic style was the product of good old LSD. Prior to taking his first trip in 1965 Crumb was newly married to his soon-to-be ex-wife Dana Morgan and unhappily employed as a greeting card illustrator. As drugs were still legal at the time, Crumb decided to drop acid one weekend and by the time the workweek arrived on Monday his entire perspective on pretty much everything (including his art) had changed for the better.

R. Crumb on ACID.
We have so many illustrated oddities to thank Crumb and his pal LSD for from Zap Comix, Mr. Natural and the weirdos within the pages of Crumb’s long-running Weirdo. And if anyone could possibly make anything related to one of the greatest works of fiction otherwise known as The Bible more interesting it’s Mr. Crumb. Which is exactly what Crumb did back in 2009 when he published his own 200+ page illustrated take on all 50 chapters that make up Genesis, The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb. Though not a fan of organized religion himself, Crumb’s take on Genesis was brutally faithful to its ancient predecessor and is full of comic-styled depictions of sex, murder and debauchery that so displeased “God” that he decided to wipe out his creations in a flood.

Much like the disclaimer on the book’s cover Crumb truly left “nothing out” of his adaptation of Genesis—which likely riled up religious types when they saw passages from the first book of the Old Testament detailing incestual situations illustrated by the sex-obsessed cartoonist. But I’m not one of those types so I wholehearted endorse Crumb’s herculean effort. If this R. Crumb artifact if missing from your collection, you can get a copy here.

Images from The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb follow and as you might imagine are NSFW.


More after the jump…

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Stop what you’re doing and watch footage of The Cure in Orange in 1986

Some of you reading this may have already had the good fortune to have seen this vintage footage of The Cure performing at the breathtaking Roman-esque theatre in Orange, Vaucluse, France known as Theatre Antique d’Orange back in 1986. I also have no doubt that some of you might even possess copies of the show (known as The Cure in Orange) on VHS. If you fall into neither of these categories, then you are in for a treat as the show recently popped up on Vimeo.

Robert Smith of The Cure debuting his new short hairdo at ‘Theatre Antique d’Orange’ in France in 1986.
Shot over the course of two nights by longtime Cure collaborator director Tim Pope, the out-of-print footage contains a staggering 23 songs from The Cure’s mid-80s catalog (like The Head on the Door) as well as 1980’s Boys Don’t Cry and 1993’s Show and other assorted gems. It was also the apparently the first time Smith debuted his new short haircut much to the dismay of his gothy followers.

Though Smith himself has promised that The Cure in Orange would be released to DVD sometime in 2010, that never happened—though you can find bootlegged copies of the show for sale out there on various music-loving Internet sites as well as copies of the original VHS tape. As in the past when this extraordinary footage has made its way online it will likely once again quickly disappear so stop what you’re doing now and watch it before it vanishes.

‘The Cure in Orange’ was filmed over the course of two days in France at Theatre Antique d’Orange in 1986.
H/T: Slicing up Eyeballs

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Lemmy Kilmister homaged with sick new custom Motörhead ‘Warpig’ bass

Custom ‘Lemmy Bass’ by Cynosure Guitars.
Set to make their debut to the word at massive UK heavy metal festival Bloodstock are two new custom bass guitars that were created to memorialize the forever frontman of Motörhead, Lemmy Kilmister.

Paul Raymond Gregory the man behind Bloodstock commissioned Cynosure Guitars to make two different Lemmy inspired basses—“The Lemmy Bass” with a body carved in Wenge wood (found in Central Africa) in the image of Motörhead’s famous “Warpig” (also known as “Snaggletooth” complete with a nose ring and Zebra wood eyes that function as volume controls) and a more classic bass with touches inspired by Lemmy’s love of German WWII military artifacts.

In addition to getting an eyeful of both incredible bass guitars the bar at Bloodstock has been renamed “Lemmy’s Bar” in honor of the rebellious Kilmister who as we all know had a nearly life-long relationship with booze—specifically his beloved Jack and Coke. While I know many of our readers are big Motörhead fans and are probably saying out loud “shut up and take my money!” both fully-functional basses are at this time one-offs and do not appear to be for sale. Yet.

More after the jump…

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