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Metal gods Judas Priest cover Joan Baez, Fleetwood Mac, and Spooky Tooth
04.11.2017
06:58 am

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Defenders of the faith, Judas Priest.
 
If you’ve found yourself with a bad case of the heavy metal bed spins after reading the title of this post, you have my sympathy fellow headbangers. And I’m going to tell you right now that you are not alone as many Priest fans are completely unaware that the epic 1978 jam most would credit JP for, “The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown),” was originally done by Fleetwood Mac in 1970 while guitarist Peter Green was still with the band. According to folklore surrounding the song, the influential Green has said that it was the product of a drug-soaked dream involving a green dog. While the revelation that “The Green Manalishi” isn’t a Priest original might be a surprise to some, Green’s drug use, especially the psychedelic variety, was well-known. Shortly after the release of what the guitarist referred to as his “least appreciated” song, Green would succumb to the side-effects of his overuse of party favors and mental illness and bow out of Fleetwood Mac.

Interestingly, after Rob Halford returned to Judas Priest in 2004 following his departure in the early 90s, bassist Ian Hill said that when the band finally got to perform again the first song they would rip into was “The Green Manalishi.” Nice. So how did one of the heaviest bands from the NWOBHM get the idea to put their own spin on Joan Baez’s devastating, “so long love” song about her ex, Bob Dylan? Vocalist Halford recalls it happened like this:

It was 1978 and I remember we were all together and someone from the label or the management came in and said, ‘Listen to this song. The label would like you to consider covering it.’ And when we put it on, all we heard was Joan Baez singing this song with the guitar, and your knee-jerk reaction is, ‘Are you fucking crazy? We are a heavy metal band.’ But again, typical of Priest, we’re like, ‘What’s the logic behind this?’ And then after a couple of listens, we decided it was a good song. And a good song will take any kind of interpretation. It opened the door for us in radio in a lot of ways, and I think that for the first time, a metal band was able to get the kind of accessibility.

 

Dylan and Baez in happier times.
 
So what did Baez think when she heard Priest’s version of “Diamonds and Rust?” She loved it, just like I do. Now, let’s get on to JP’s cover of a Spooky Tooth song found on the final album from the Carlisle band with their original late-1960s lineup, “Better by You, Better than Me.” If you had a pulse and paid attention to the news during the mid-80s, you will likely recall that the song brought a lot of horrifically unwarranted heat on Priest after the 1985 suicide/suicide attempt of Raymond Belknap and James Vance who both shot themselves on a church playground after a six-hour long alcohol and drug infused session listening to Priest’s 1978 album Stained Class. Belknap’s death was instantaneous, however, and despite the fact that he suffered massive facial injuries, Vance would survive though he never quite recovered from the incident physically or mentally. Three short years later he was dead, too.

In court, the song became one of the primary targets of the prosecution who alleged it was a harbinger for subliminal suicidal messages that infiltrated the drug-addled minds of the two young Judas Priest fans. The story is immensely troubling and it is difficult to comprehend how “Better by You, Better than Me” could be considered the impetus for what Belknap and Vance did at the behest of imaginary hidden messages on the version recorded by Judas Priest.

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‘An ABZ of Love’: Kurt Vonnegut’s vintage go-to guide on sex and sexuality
04.10.2017
07:14 am

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The great Kurt Vonnegut.
 

“An erect penis has no resemblance to the kind that they have seen on statues in parks or on small boys paddling the seashore.”

—Authors of An ABZ of Love, Sten and Inge Hegeler on what it is like seeing a penis for the first time.

 
Inge and Sten Hegeler were a bit like the Danish version of Masters and Johnson, the transformative American research team that revolutionized human sexuality. Hegeler was a psychologist and author who specialized in sexology. In 1948 Hegeler published the book Hvordan, Mor? ( How, Mother?) which was considered one of the first books of its kind to detail such direct, honest advice on how to provide sexual education to kindergarten-aged children. After getting his own psychology practice up and running he and Inge would go on to publish a few other notable books including one that Kurt Vonnegut kept on his own library shelf, An ABZ of Love.

Vonnegut was so taken with the publication that he wrote a letter to his wife letting her know where she could “find” the book in his library. The book itself, which was self-published by the pair in 1962, was exhaustive when it came to its range of information. And I mean they covered everything including topics that were (and are still by some) considered taboo which made ABZ a rather boundary-smashing publication that voiced a clear, positive opinion about equality and its relation to gender, color or one’s sexual identity. They were also fond of using proper words such as “cock,” “pussy” and “fuck” to describe specific actions or attributes within the book’s nearly 300 pages. No wonder Vonnegut adored it enough to write his wife a love-letter of sorts about it. In fact, here’s a short epigrammatic passage from ABZ that sounds a whole lot like Vonnegut wrote the advice himself.

So there are two paths we can take: one is try to deny and suppress our emotions and force ourselves to think sensibly. In this way we run the risk of fooling ourselves.

Hi ho. At this point, it seems pretty clear to me that everyone should own a copy of An ABZ of Love. It is also quite possible that there are many among us that could use a little refresher course on the ins and outs of what we all think about every single day, sex, as it just doesn’t come in one flavor. You know like vanilla? I’ve included many illustrations by Krag from the vintage book, which has been published in fifteen different countries, along with their often amusing captions below. Many are NSFW.
 

Text reads: “It is possible to be lonely in a group, too.”
 

 
More after the jump…

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Super rare David Bowie promotional items from the 70s and 80s
04.07.2017
07:34 am

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An image of David Bowie used for a poster put out by RCA Japan in 1980. Bowie was in Japan filming a television ad for Takara Shochu “Jun” Sake. The image was later recycled for the sleeve for the 1980 Japan exclusive instrumental single “Crystal Japan.”
 
I recently came across some pretty amazing images of David Bowie that were taken for various promotional endeavors in the 70s and 80s. Some were a part of press kits assembled for various films featuring The Thin White Duke, some from his record marketing collateral as well as some incredibly rare posters that were only released in Japan and the UK. Some of the scarce items showcased in this post include promotional “mobile displays.” Here’s the thing about mobile displays, since they were made in super small quantities and most ended up getting carried off or ruined by wear and tear, they are incredibly difficult to come by. Especially if it happens to involve David Bowie. They also tend to be expensive when you do find them/

A few of the photographs and other ephemera I’ve posted below are actually for sale at collectibles site Rock Explosion though some contain the requirement that you inquire as to their cost—and you know what that means. If you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it. So in light of that, I suggest that you kick back and enjoy looking at our dearly departed David below.
 

BBC publicity photo of Bowie from the production of Bertolt Brecht’s ‘Baal’ taken in 1981.

 

An almost unrecognizable Bowie in a promotional poster for the EP release of ‘Baal,’ his last with RCA, 1981.
 

A cardboard standup display of Bowie holding a glass of milk for ‘Young Americans’ 1975.
 
More after the jump…

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Kitchy vintage dishware with images of Prince, David Bowie, Robert Smith, Lemmy, Moz & more!
04.07.2017
06:21 am

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A vintage plate with an image of Robert Smith of The Cure and a kitty by Miss Scarlett of Dirty Lola. Get it here.
 
Today’s “take my money please” post features beguiling, vintage dishware that has been reworked to include images of David Bowie, Robert Smith of The Cure, Lemmy Kilmister, Morrissey, Prince and a few other famous faces.

Miss Scarlet is a professional illustrator who has also honed her artistic craft in the mediums of watercolor, digital illustration, and graphic design and she has really done a fantastic job of selecting ornate vintage dishes to use as the base of her clever designer “for display only” dishware. Which makes sense as the talented artist has also spent time working as a designer for the fashion houses of John Galliano, Dior, and Christian Lacroix. There are over fifty different designer plates avaliable at Miss Scarlett’s Etsy store, Dirty Lola that come in various sizes and run anywhere between $29.99 to $75 bucks. I’ve posted a few of the most covetable ones below.
 

 

 

 
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Meaty, Beaty, Big and Beardy: Behold the hairy glory of the 2018 ‘Whimsical Woodsman’ calendar
04.05.2017
10:47 am

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Tim Wilson, a full-time Arizona wildlands firefighter and part-time model with his trusty chainsaw. All photo credits to Chronicker Photography.
 
2018 will mark the third year that The Whimsical Woodsman and Friends have published a calendar featuring photos of rugged pin-up dudes such as “The Majestic Mountain Man” and kilt-lifting bad-boy “The Wistful Warrior” cavorting in the woods and such.

While it would be relatively easy to dismiss this awesomeness as a purely money-making gimmick at the expense of body shaming the burly calendar boys, I’m not going to do that for many reasons including the fact that body shaming is reserved for low-lives and Internet trolls. Also, when you purchase one of the calendars a portion of the proceeds from the sale goes to support the Arizona charity Books to the Rescue, a cause close to the hearts of the calendar’s creators Chad Castigliano and his wife Jasmine. The organization provides services to children in crisis by helping to provide comfort items to first responders such as cuddly stuffed animals and of course books. If that’s not do-goody enough for you, the calendar also works pretty hard to promote body acceptance—something we all benefit from.

I’ve posted images of some of the manly men that will be a part of the 2018 wall-candy calendar below. If you’d like to pick on up for yourself or a friend, more information on that can be found here.
 

 

 
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Duran Duran’s John Taylor stars in the sleazy skin flick ‘Vegas, City of Dreams’
04.04.2017
10:41 am

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The blog Preppies of the Apocalypse from writer, publisher, and lover of pop-culture Morgan Richter posted some amusing analysis regarding Duran Duran bassist John Taylor and his 2001 movie, Vegas, City of Dreams. The film was a direct-to-DVD release and likely made the rounds on sleazy subscription cable channels such as Cinemax and satellite TV in South America and the Caribbean.

Though Taylor has been clean and sober since 1994, he played the role of super shady “Byron Lord,” (geddit?) a character who straight-up oozed bad times, blow and booze with sleazy-ease. Perhaps Taylor ripped out a couple of pages from his own personal playbook when it came to finding the proper inspiration for his portrayal of Byron Lord. Who knows?. When it comes to the film, which also goes by the titles of C.O.D. and Marked for Murder , it was directed by Lorenzo Doumani, a casino mogul/filmmaker and the son of M.K. Doumani who owned the famous La Concha hotel in Las Vegas. In addition to Taylor, the film also includes a plethora of Playboy models in almost every female role, lots of sex scenes involving Taylor (including a little bondage action, hello!), post-coital murder and the girl everyone was in love with in 1989, Playboy Playmate Erika Eleniak. With all that going for it, how could this film possibly fail? Well, as Richter eloquently points out, “it’s mostly John’s fault.” Not even appearances by the great Joe Don Baker or actor Paul Winfield could help elevate this mess. In fact, there is at least one scene in Vegas, City of Dreams where, while Taylor is taunting Winfield’s character the actor actually looks as though he’s quite literally regretting his decision to be in the film right then and there. Oof.

After the jump, a sampling from ‘Vegas, City of Dreams’ featuring several scenes with John Taylor doing all kinds of bad stuff…

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Remember the Alamo: The lengthy list of crimes committed by the members of Black Sabbath
04.03.2017
09:37 am

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Black Sabbath clearly thinking about doing all kinds of illegal stuff.
 

“I wonder what jail I’ll wake up in tomorrow?”

—Black Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne musing about what might happen after one of his routine drug and alcohol induced blackouts back in the day.

If you could only use one word to describe what it’s like to be a part of the world of rock and roll it is this one: dangerous. First of all, the job isn’t really built for longevity, and it’s well known that many notable icons punched out of their mortal time clocks before they reached the age of 28 (aka, the 27 Club). There are the non-stop parties involving two good old heathen vices—sex and drugs, which at some point catches up with you in one way or another. Another job hazard of this (apparently) illustrious gig includes the occasional skirmish—or worse—with law enforcement. Let’s face it. If you’re in a successful touring rock band and you don’t already have a mugshot in your photo album, just wait. It’ll probably happen. And this leads me to the following breakdown highlighting the many crimes committed by the members of the greatest heavy metal band in history, Black Sabbath. And since Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne’s rap sheet is the longest, let’s start with him, shall we?

Though Ozzy’s bad behavior is infamous, he was apparently never arrested while he was with Sabbath, despite the fact that he was prone to relieving himself in places other than a toilet and was stark-raving drunk most days. Prior to joining the band, Ozzy held several strange jobs including working in a factory that produced car horns, a funeral home, and even a slaughterhouse. Since Ozzy and a straight job didn’t really get along, he turned to burglary to make a living. This landed the great and powerful Ozz in Winson Green prison for six weeks for petty theft after his father refused to pay his bail. While behind bars, Ozzy gave himself his famous “OZZY” knuckle tattoo using a sewing needle and graphite polish, as well as getting the two adorable smiley faces that adorn his kneecaps.
 

Ozzy being Ozzy in the 1970s. 
 
While Sabbath’s antics are about as epic as they come, Ozz would completely run amok once he was kicked out of the band in 1979. His arrest record would grow to include public urination and intoxication after he took a piss close enough to the beloved historical landmark the Alamo in 1982 (wearing a dress no less) that he was banned from entering San Antonio for a decade. This was also the same year that Ozzy famously bit the head off of a live bat on stage in Iowa. In 1984 Ozzy was once again arrested for public intoxication and was sent off to the drunk tank after being found completely inebriated traipsing up and down the streets of Memphis’ Beale Street entertainment district. In 1989 he was charged with the attempted murder of his wife Sharon Osbourne whom he tried to strangle with his bare hands while completely blotto on whatever he could snort, pop or swill. Let’s also not forget that before Ozzy’s wife Sharon took over as his manager during his solo career, it was her father Don Arden (known not-so-affectionately as the Al Capone of pop managers), who called the shots. Arden was quite literally one of the most feared members of the music scene in England and once hung rival manager Robert Stigwood (Cream and the Bee Gees) by his feet from his office window over a dispute involving the Small Faces. Damn.

When it comes to Tony Iommi and breaking the law we start back In 1968 when the buzz-killing police raided Iommi’s home in Birmingham and found *gasp* marijuana residue for which the guitarist received the British equivalent of probation for two years. In 1973 he nearly lost his life to an overdose, technically a crime in itself, at a Sabbath show at the Hollywood Bowl. And that was after helping his bandmates snort $75K worth of blow in 1972. In 1983 he blew up a bunch of prized carp belonging to businessman and airline mogul Richard Branson while the band was recording Born Again at Branson’s studio in Oxfordshire. Then he trashed drummer Bill Ward’s car at a go-cart track and let it burn after it caught fire. Iommi has a long history of getting his kicks by blowing stuff up which he thankfully documented in his 2011 book Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath.
 
More after the jump…

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Of broken teeth & David ‘Boo-wie’: Iggy Pop’s endearing first Letterman appearance, 1982
03.31.2017
11:09 am

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I’m very terrified of this country, the USA…some of the values are so foul and so wicked… It’s very wicked the way people are restrained, and I’m in favor of something else.

—Iggy Pop predicting our current reality in his 1982 book I Need More: The Stooges and Other Stories

I make no apologies for looking for any opportunity to write about Iggy Pop. He is as close to a god walking among us and the only deity I’d be likely to bow down to if the situation ever presented itself. Today’s deep-dive into Iggy’s illustrious past involves his very first appearance on Late Night with David Letterman in December of 1982.

Iggy had just penned his book I Need More: The Stooges and Other Stories and was on the show to promote the book as well as his latest album, Zombie Birdhouse. After being introduced by Dave, Iggy jangles out onto the stage wearing bright red boots, turquoise blue eyeshadow, fierce black cat eyeliner, and blush. He spazzes brilliantly through the frenetic single “Eat or be Eaten” and then heads to the couch for the interview segment with Dave. And that’s when we get to the really good stuff.

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She’s the other funky drummer (and every woman, too): Chaka Khan in the 1970s
03.29.2017
02:01 pm

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A young, fierce-looking Chaka Khan behind the drum kit for Rufus back in the early 1970s.
 
Unless a significant generation gap presented itself, I would find it hard to trust someone who was not familiar with the “Queen of Funk” Chaka Khan. Likewise, I’d probably have trouble hanging out with someone that actually didn’t at least enjoy grooving to a few songs from Chaka’s vast body of work. I mean, saying you don’t dig Chaka Khan is pretty much the same thing as hating on Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner or Donna Summer. And you don’t want to be that guy, do you, dummy?

Born Yvette Marie Stevens, Chaka came into the world in 1953, a few years before the Chicago music scene exploded once again in the 60s and 70s. Meaning that she was old enough to properly bear witness to the baffling number of musical acts making things happen then. I’m talking the Staple Singers, the Chi-lites, Minnie Ripperton and Earth, Wind & Fire. And this is just a small sampling of the kind of musical genius that surrounded the soon-to-be-funky-as-hell singer during her most formative years. At the age of eleven, Khan (who was still going by her birth name Yvette Stevens) was already performing with her first band, the Crystalettes along with her sister Yvonne. As she entered her teen years Chaka was exposed to the messages and activism of the Black Panther Party and at the age of fourteen, she became a part of the radical political organization. It would be during her time with the Panthers that she would acquire her new name Chaka Adunne Aduffe Yemoja Hodarhi Karifi. She became deeply involved in working with underprivileged youth in Chicago. Chaka soon dropped out of school and embarked on what would be a long musical career that continues to this day.
 

The “curve-some” Chaka Khan in action with Rufus back in the 1970s.
 
When she was discovered by members of Chicago band Rufus singing in a local club in 1972, Chaka was nineteen and already divorced from her first husband Hassan Khan whose last name she decided to keep. The timing was perfect as Rufus would sign on with ABC Records in 1973 with the enchanting powerhouse that is Chaka Khan at the helm. Her partnership with Rufus would prove to be hugely successful and the band would produce six gold and platinum records over the course of four short years. And that was just a start for Chaka as her solo career would arguably eclipse her time with Rufus starting with a song that propelled her debut record into the funky stratosphere (and one that everybody knows at least seven words to), “I’m Every Woman.” Here’s the thing, I’m only really able to scratch the surface of Khan’s compelling and complicated life here today, so I’ll leave you with my final thoughts as to why we should all have the love for Chaka Khan.

In 1984 Khan got the idea to cover a song from Prince’s self-titled 1979 album called “I Feel For You.” Highly influential producer Arif Mardin was able to secure the services of both Stevie Wonder to play the harmonica on the single, and hip-hop god Grandmaster Melle Mel to provide opposing vocals to Chaka’s. While Prince never released the song as single, it was a goddamn smash for Khan and the album as a whole has stood the test of time. By the way, as mentioned in the title of this post, Khan has always been a pretty great drummer, so I posted a short vintage video of Chaka behind her kit below. I’ve also included a number of images of Chaka Khan in action, as well as videos of Khan working her magic with Rufus live back in the day. Bow to the Queen of Funk, baby.
 

 

 
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Wild portraits of Dali, Bowie, Jimi, Jagger, Bruce Lee, Basquiat & more made from junk
03.29.2017
11:22 am

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A portrait of David Bowie made out of junk by Bernard Pas.
 
French painter, photographer, and sculptor Bernard Pras has been creating pictures out of everyday objects such as toys, wood, clothing and whatever else he happened to come across for over two decades. Many of the finished products are remarkable portraits of some of the world’s most famous faces such as David Bowie, Andy Warhol, Bruce Lee and Jack Nicholson as “Jack Torrance” from The Shining.

Pras is very discerning when it comes to the selection process for his individual pieces—and it is that thought process that helps the the dexterous artist create a sense of life in his elaborate portraits and other works comprised of objects that he perhaps collected from Goodwill bargain bins filled with doll parts, bits of clothing and even food. I’ve included a nice selection of Pras’ portraits, one of which is quite NSFW which you can see at the very end of this post.
 

Jack Nicholson as his character “Jack Torrance” from ‘The Shining.’
 

Jimi Hendrix, 2000.
 
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