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The gentle VHS madness of Robert Ashley’s Perfect Lives

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Electronic and text-sound music pioneer Robert Ashley‘s video opera (developed over a period of time from the mid 70’s to the early 80’s) is, in retrospect, the kind of VHS artifact you might find deconstructed at Everything is Terrible or parodied on Tim & Eric. Only thing is, this piece comes pre-deconstructed ! it’s already one of the most fragmented and inscrutable pieces of “TV” you’re ever likely to stumble upon. Following the narrative is an experience akin to being stuck inside Ashley’s mind for a long stretch. That he also happens to suffer from a mild form of Tourette’s only serves to make that mind a very interesting place.

 
More info about Private Lives
 
Get Robert Ashley’s Private Lives on DVD

Posted by Brad Laner | Discussion
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The incomparable James Jamerson: isolated
07.13.2010
05:20 pm

Topics:
Heroes
Movies

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Marvin Gaye
Motown
James Jamerson

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Motown bass deity James Jamerson had more talent and soul in one finger than in any of his peers’ standard ten. Literally. He was known amongst his colleagues as “the hook” for his single digit yet fluid as a river plucking. He also never changed his strings or messed with the controls on his instrument. Everything simply turned up to ten. I mean to feature a few isolated tracks from some of his best known sessions which are new to me and as delightful to listen to as you might imagine but I had to lead off with this already widely seen but marvelous clip of our man backing Marvin Gaye in 1973:

 
And the studio version, Jamerson’s
 

Posted by Brad Laner | Discussion
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The Pop Group to reunite !
07.13.2010
08:02 am

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Heroes
Music
Punk

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The Pop Group Reunite

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Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. The original line-up of The Pop Group are reforming for 4 dates and perhaps more this September! I’m sure it’s too much to ask for them to make it to the States, although I did once see Mark Stewart+Maffia play to about 50 people here in Los Angeles. Say the fellas themselves:

There was a lot left undone,....we were so young and volatile….Let’s face it, things are probably even MORE fucked now than they were in the early 80’s…..and WE are even more fucked off!

 

 
The Pop Group Reform (Clashmusic.com)
 
Previously on DM : The Pop Group are Beyond Good and Evil

Posted by Brad Laner | Discussion
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Harvey Pekar RIP
07.12.2010
08:46 am

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Art
Heroes
Literature
Movies

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Harvey Pekar

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A sad day for American literature, writer Harvey Pekar has passed away at age 70. My first thought is that it’s great that he lived long enough to see his work embraced by a large audience due to the success of the American Splendor film but it’s hard to swallow the loss of another singular and utterly unique American voice. Bon Voyage, Harvey.

(Cleveland) - Famed Cleveland underground comic book writer Harvey Pekar has died at the age of 70.

Cuyahoga County Coroner’s spokesman Powell Caesar confirmed the news to WTAM 1100 Monday morning.

Pekar was found just before 1:00 am by his wife, Joyce Brabner, in their home in Cleveland Heights. The cause of death is not yet known.


Coroner: Harvey Pekar dies (WTAM Cleveland)
 
thx Ned Raggett

 

Posted by Brad Laner | Discussion
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Laurie Anderson’s classic deconstruction of the Star Spangled Banner

 
Do you smell something burning ?
 
thx Buh Zing !

 

Posted by Brad Laner | Discussion
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XTC’s Skylarking as you’ve never heard it
07.01.2010
08:48 am

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Heroes
Music

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XTC
Skylarking

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I’m amazed to find this morning that one of the finest LPs ever recorded, XTC’s Skylarking has never been heard properly. Evidently during the process of re-mastering it was discovered that every version that went out to the public was out of phase ! I can tell you from personal experience that this can really take the life out of a recording. I can’t wait to hear the corrected version ! From Andy Partridge himself:

The band themselves always had a nagging doubt that the album sounded a little too thin and bass light, not like they remembered it sounding from the recording process. Well, what John has identified is that the previous vinyl and CD’s {including the flashy US Fidelity version unfortunately} have been manufactured with their sound polarity reversed. In laymans terms this mix up means that sound waves that should be pushing out from your speakers are actually pulling them back and projecting from the rear. Something as simple as a wrongly wired XLR plug in Todds studio or the Master room would have resulted in this sound mishap. Making the record sound distant and thinner. He has identified that the original tapes appear in very good condition and with this problem now rectified APE will be able to present to you shortly a splendid double deep vinyl cut of this classic XTC album as it was intended to sound, but never has done due to human error.

In the meantime, enjoy the best song The Beatles never wrote from Skylarking :
 

 
And here are the…

Posted by Brad Laner | Discussion
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“There’s no story to hip-hop—just culture”: R.I.P. renaissance man Rammellzee

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Word from a Fab Five Freddy tweet and a post on his own MySpace blog is that New York hip-hop futurist Rammellzee has passed away at age 50 from as-yet-unrevealed causes. (@149st features a great, fact-filled interview with the man.) Emerging as a teen graffiti artist in the mid-‘70s, bombing the A-train from its last stop in his Far Rockaway, Queens hometown, Rammell ended up like many of his talented peers—a multidisciplinary creative icon submerged in the nascent metropolitan hip-hop scene.  He first surfaced as a persona to the world in amazing fashion, dressed in trenchcoat and wielding a sawed-off shotgun as he MC’ed for the Rock Steady Crew in the Amphitheatre scene of hip-hop’s famous first film, 1982’s Wild Style.
 

 

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
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The Death of The Germs
06.30.2010
10:55 am

Topics:
Heroes
Music
Punk

Tags:
Darby Crash
Germs

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Although I was too young to ever see them live, The Germs loomed large in my musical upbringing. They made deliciously evil sounding records that were irresistible to my friends and I. The legend of Darby Crash made its way out to us in the suburbs of Los Angeles and tales of “Germs burns” and other sordid activities titillated us as we blasted their sole LP and gazed at the spooky photos of the band members on the back cover. I tell you this because Rhino Handmade has just put out a limited edition CD of the final Germs show from December of 1980. Now here’s the thing: The Germs sucked live. The redoubtable Jonathan Gold does a wonderful job of describing what it was like to be there, but still I must ask: Has there ever in the history of music been a singer so utterly incapable of singing in time live as Darby Crash ? Have a listen to the clip below from said show and hear for yourself, then compare that to the truly wonderful contents of their classic first E.P. from ‘78 after the jump. I’m pretty sure all I missed out on by never seeing them live was a head injury !
 

 

Posted by Brad Laner | Discussion
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Harvey Pekar and Douglas Rushkoff team up to take on Corporatism!

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Have you been keeping up with the delightful Pekar Project at the Smith website? The latest installment is my favorite, with Dangerous Minds pal Douglas Rushkoff co-starring with our hero! With terrific—kinda perfect—art by Sean Pryor.

Editor Jeff Newelt writes:

A year ago, our own cuddly curmudgeon, Harvey Pekar, joined author / media theorist Doug Rushkoff on his WFMU radio show, The Media Squat, to talk about a pet peev to both authors: the corporate takeover of society. Doug recently wrote LIFE INC: How the World Became A Corporation and How to Take It Back and Harvey legendarily bashed GE on Letterman in the ’80s, so jamming on this was a natural. To create this comic, “Pekar & Rushkoff Kibbitzin’ About How Life Got Incorporated” (part one of a four-part epic collaboration), we treated the transcript of their talk like the first track laid down for a jazz record. Harvey & Doug remixed the script and then artist Sean Pryor brought the dialogue to life. Note the masterful switch in coloring technique whenever the story shifts from the conversation itself to images of subjects being talked about. Sean first collaborated with Harvey on “Gauntet of Rock” a story for Royal Flush Magazine, and has since rocked out three Pekar Project stories, “Searchin’”, “Jungle Music,” and “Two Working Stiffs.” Sean also designed and contributed a Harvey Head to the new Pekar T-shirt.

This is fucking excellent!

Pekar & Rushkoff Kibbitzin’ How Life Got Incorporated by Harvey Pekar & Sean Pryor (Smith)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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The Pop Group: Beyond Good And Evil
06.28.2010
03:06 pm

Topics:
Heroes
Music

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The Pop Group

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It feels like a Pop Group sort of day, so here we have a couple of vintage promo clips I’ve never stumbled upon before. Having long loved the records, the clips are a bit of shock. Such wholesome looking kids in their nice new wave gear making all that racket ! I never managed to see the doc that Mr Novicoff posted about here nearly a year ago and it doesn’t appear to be available anywhere. I both snooze and lose. Still, the shriek of vocalist Mark Stewart is a true force of nature, a sound like no other !

 

Posted by Brad Laner | Discussion
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