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Rarely seen video of Little Richard and Jimi Hendrix on American Bandstand in 1965
04.29.2011
12:29 am

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History
Music

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Here’s a rare video of Little Richard performing “It Ain’t What You Do” on American Bandstand on March 6, 1965 with his back-up band The Crown Jewels. Jimi Hendrix was a member of The Crown Jewels in ‘65 and there’s some debate as to whether or not Hendrix appears in this American Bandstand performance.

Is that Hendrix in a Royal Guardsman uniform at the 1:29 point in this clip? No one seems to know. I think it is. You may not. But the one thing I think we can all agree upon is that Little Richard is wearin’ a bitchin’ wig in this video.

Sound is out of synch but this thing is still amazing.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Man on the Moon: Exclusive footage of John Phillips musical produced by Andy Warhol (1975)
04.27.2011
03:38 pm

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The following was written by Chris Campion and is taken from the liner notes of the CD release of Andy Warhol Presents Man on the Moon: The John Phillips Space Musical on Varese Sarabande Records.

The off-Broadway musical Man on the Moon was conceived by John Phillips and his third wife, the South African actress, Genevieve Waite, as a potential film or stage production originally entitled Space. John would spend more time trying to realize this project than anything else he worked on in his career; nearly five years all told, beginning in 1969 during the period he was recording his first solo album, John the Wolfking of L.A.

Space was born the day Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon. Like millions of other people, John watched the 1969 moon landing on TV. He was living, at the time, on the Malibu property rented by British film director Michael Sarne, who was under contract at Fox to direct the adaptation of Gore Vidal’s novel, Myra Breckenridge, with Rex Harrison, Raquel Welch and Mae West. Sarne had commissioned John to write songs for the film.

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The Apollo 11 moon landing became an obsession. John would watch a recording of the TV transmission made on an early video tape machine over and over. The idea of exploring this new frontier - and particularly Neil Armstrong’s scripted aside as he stepped onto the lunar surface that it was, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” - fired John’s imagination, and he began to piece together ideas for a mythical space opera set to music. “He loved myths,” says Genevieve, who was first introduced to John by Sarne that summer. “He liked Homer - The Iliad and The Odyssey.”

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John first began performing a small song cycle he had written about “space exploration” as early as the fall of 1970, as part of the short tour he undertook to promote Wolf King. Over the next two years, he and Genevieve formulated ideas for the story, and created a theatrical treatment (later adapted as a screenplay). Seeking a backer, they pitched it to Michael Butler, producer of the stage musical Hair. He provided seed money to realize a book and a score for Space, and brought a young director called Michael Bennett on board.

For several months, the Italianate mansion at 414 St. Pierre road in Bel Air that John and Genevieve were renting became a hive of Space-related activity. Among their collaborators was British costumier Marsia Trinder, who had designed clothes for Elvis Presley and Raquel Welch. “It was a very creative period for about two or three months,” says Trinder, who moved into another wing of the mansion with her then boyfriend to work on costumes for the production. “John was the key person organizing it all and coming up with ideas. But everybody was feeding into it. John felt that with all the secrets in the world, there wouldn’t be wars if people didn’t have secrets. And then they kind of figured out the plot.”

The initial story for Space gradually took shape: When a humanoid bomb left on the moon by the Apollo space mission threatens to blow itself up and destroy the universe, an astronaut on Earth is tasked with leading a delegation of interplanetary dignitaries to travel there and defuse it. Humanity is forced to curb its destructive impulses for the universal good.

 

The role of the astronaut was originally written for Elvis, whom John and Genevieve had befriended in 1971, while living in Palm Springs shortly after the birth of their son Tamerlane. “John was trying to sell him songs,” says Waite. “They would sit around and John would sing him different songs.”  At one point, Ricky Nelson was also approached for the part.

Read more about the ill-fated musical (with a second exclusive video clip) after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Houdini: Art and Magic
04.27.2011
01:00 pm

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Art
History

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I was really hoping that amazing looking Houdini show from The Jewish Museum in NYC, Houdini: Art and Magic would make it out to Los Angeles and before I could even say “Abracadabra,” poof it shows up at the Skirball Cultural Center, opening tomorrow, April 28th. Featuring Houdini memorabilia galore, the show also has a number of pieces by contemporary artsts like Joe Coleman, Raymond Pettibon and Matthew Barney that attest to the enduring cultural fascination with the legendary magician and escape artist who is still a household name nearly a century after his death.

The Skirball have actually added a second attraction, another magic-related exhibition called Masters of Illusion: Jewish Magicians of the Golden Age. They’ve done up the museum in “period” settings reminiscent of vaudeville stages and Victorian-era parlor rooms to display what remain of the almost forgotten careers of over 40 other stage magicians who were Houdini’s friends, rivals and predecessors. Stage props, photos, original posters, costumes, letters, newspaper clippings and even, I’ve read, some nearly century-old “robots.”

The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero by William Kalush & Larry Sloman is the definitive Houdini biography.
 
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Below, silent footage of the great escape artist, Harry Houdini.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Khrzhanovsky’s ‘Glass Harmonica’: Subversive surrealist late-‘60s Russian animation
04.26.2011
06:09 pm

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Animation
History
Politics

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In the opening titles of his 1968 animated short Glass Harmonica, Russian director Andrei Khrzhanovsky claims to present a cautionary against “boundless greed, police terror, [and] the isolation and brutalization of humans in modern bourgeois society.” Of course, it was more complex than that.

At the time Khrzhanovsky made the film, Russian animation had experienced a creative renaissance that spanned most of the ‘60s, fuelled by the Soviet Union’s post-Stalinist liberalization policy best known as the Krushchev Thaw. Although that period yielded cutesy and colorful satires like Fyodor Khitruk’s 1962 short Story of a Crime, Glass Harmonica—which posits music to symbolize beauty repressed by avarice—stands apart.

Amid desolate modern landscapes, Khyrzhanovsky and his dozen animators tell the tale with some industrial age and Renaissance visual elements, along with some zany zoomorphic caricatures of paranoia and envy. Buoyed sonically by Alfred Schnittke’s Quasi una sonata and drawing from Breugel, Dali and George Dunning (the director of Yellow Submarine), Glass Harmonica reaches even proto-Python-esque heights towards the end.

Despite its semi-socialist utopian resolution, Glass Harmonica comes off as surprisingly quaint and archaic, even as an indirect product of Kruschev’s less ideologically rigid era.
 

 
After the jump: check out part 2 of Glass Harmonica

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
When Dads were cooler than their kids: The Original Hipsters
04.25.2011
06:58 pm

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Your dad didn’t give a fuck before you did. He smoked, drank, fucked, fought, and pissed into the wind of life. Then one night, while jacked on mescaline, he screwed your mom. It was just supposed to be one night. But, that tryst became bastardized when you were conceived from it. Your dad had to settle down. So hipsters, next time you’re out drinking on a Tuesday night or biking without a helmet, remember you’re the bastard love baby of your dad’s not giving a fuck attitude.”

 
“Dads: The Original Hipsters” is a compendium of photographs culled from the net that illustrates that hipsterism ain’t nothing new, in fact it’s ancient. Check out these shots of dads being cooler than you.

You can view more of these groovy artifacts at “Dads: The Original Hipsters” website. The captions are often much funnier than the pictures themselves.
 

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Your dad wore Chuck Taylors before you did. Those were his “Just do it” shoes. He could run faster, jump higher and ride your mom longer because of them. The only training you hipsters have done in those shoes are Natural Spirit chain smoking marathons and smug bike rides to dive bars. I wish time travel was real, just so your dad could kick your own ass for wearing the shoes that he made a legend.”

 
More old school hipsters after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Legendary soul label Malaco Records decimated by tornado
04.25.2011
05:20 pm

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Wolf Stephenson stands in what is left of the legendary Malaco Records.

Severe storms and a series of tornadoes has plagued the Midwest and Southern states throughout April. One of the casualties of the violent weather is the legendary blues and soul label Malaco Records in Jackson, Mississippi. It was crushed by a tornado on April 15.

You can read about Malaco Records, “The Last Soul Company,” and its formidable history at their website.

Malaco Records’ flamingo-pink main office was one of the few buildings in the area when it opened in 1967 on the west end of Jackson’s Northside Drive.

“We were practically out in the country,” said Wolf Stephenson, vice president and chief engineer. “I can remember all of us sitting out in the parking lot in the wee hours of the morning, eating watermelon and listening full blast to the song mixes we were working on at the time. We wanted to see how they sounded away from the speakers.”

Stephenson, 67, managed to chuckle at the memory Monday afternoon, a few seconds of escape from the grim reality brought on by Friday’s tornado that ravaged parts of Clinton and northwest Jackson, injuring seven and causing major damage to numerous homes and businesses.

The twister didn’t spare Malaco, which has produced its share of music history. It destroyed the accounting building and shipping warehouse. The main building, which housed executive offices and the legendary recording studio, was pummeled.

There were some bits of good news: Approximately 20 employees who were at work when the storm struck escaped injury. Couch and Stephenson said they plan to rebuild. And Malaco’s thousands of precious master tapes weathered the storm in a vault-type building made of concrete blocks and supported by reinforced steel.

The recording studio was dark and dank Monday. A grand piano and a Hammond B3 organ were barely visible, buried in debris. The sound of music was replaced by the flapping of a blue tarp, serving as a temporary roof. Pieces of the wood tile floor were scattered about. Amplifiers and microphones looked soulless and lonely.

Hits were born in this room. Among them: Jean Knight’s 1971 No. 1 single, Mr. Big Stuff; King Floyd’s Groove Me, which went to No. 1 on the R&B chart; and Dorothy Moore’s 1976 classic, Misty Blue. Paul Simon recorded Learn How to Fall here. It appeared on his 1973 album There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, which earned two Grammy nominations.”

Here’s a link to a Malaco Records video mix courtesy of The CW Austin. Click here and scroll down the page for the mix.

The Malaco Records story aired on WAPT in Jackson, Mississippi in 1999.
 

 
Thanks, Mike Webber

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The mysterious J. Bastos and his one hit wonder ‘Loop Di Love’
04.24.2011
05:36 pm

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Amusing
History
Music
One-hit wonders

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Here’s the first of a series of pieces I’ll be doing on one-hit wonders. While my intent is to be as informative as possible, I’m starting off with an artist that I can find very little information on, the mysterious J. Bastos.

“Loop di Love” was recorded in 1969 by J. Bastos (Juan Bastos) and became a big hit in Holland and Germany in 1971. It kicks off with one of the more bizarre and memorable verses in pop history and goes on to tell the story of a young man’s chance encounter with a prostitute.

I saw you walking down the street
Love di loop di love
Your hair was hanging down to knees
Love di loop di love
Your waist was waving like a ship
Love di loop di love
The way you look made me sick
Love di loop di love

The only biographical information I can find on J. Bastos is that he lived somewhere in northern Germany and the song was recorded as a joke among drunken friends and became a fluke hit. And that info is from an alleged disgruntled former employee of Bastos who claims he was hellish to work for and fell into being a popstar totally by accident. It’s odd, considering the notoriety and popularity of “Loop di Love,” that so little is known of its creator. Anyone got any info on J. Bastos?

The tune is based on a Greek fishermen’s song “Darla Dirlada.”

A double dose of J. Bastos - a promo video shot in Amsterdam and a performance on German TV.

Cock-hopping at 1:27.
 

 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Richard Hell And The Voidoids’ ‘The Kid With The Replaceable Head’ cartoon
04.24.2011
01:50 am

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Animation
History
Punk

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Fun, fun, fun cartoon music video of Richard Hell And The Voidoids “The Kid With The Replaceable Head.”

The version of “...Replaceable Head” used in the cartoon is the remixed and partially re-recorded version that appears on the Destiny Street Repaired album which was released in 2008, a reconstruction of 1982’s Destiny Street. The history of the record is an interesting one. In his review of Destiny Street Repaired, Bill Meyer gives us some insight to the album’s resurrection. Here’s an excerpt from Meyer’s article:

It took Hell five years to get around to recording a follow-up to Blank Generation. The Voidoids had been defunct for over a year and the man was soul sick, junk sick, and ready to give up the rock game. But he had some songs, a label ready to give him some money, a palpable need for that cash, and guitarist Robert Quine’s phone number, so in 1982 they pulled together a band — Hell on bass, Quine and the one-named Naux on guitars, Fred Maher on drums — to make one more record. Things went as planned for a week or two, but after cutting the backing tracks Hell lost his nerve and refused to come into the studio for a week and a half. According to Quine, he and Naux spent that time overdubbing every idea they’d ever wanted to try, which depending on your perspective turned the music into either “high-pitched sludge” (per Hell in the liner notes to the Spurts career retrospective) or the aforementioned glorious mess. After Hell finally dragged his sorry ass into the studio to finish the record, it sat in bad business limbo for another year before Line Records finally put it out.

Ever since then he’s expressed his disappointment with the result, and in 2008 Hell geared up to put it right by re-recording the vocals and lead guitars over rough mixes of the rhythm tracks.”

Hell brought in Bill Frisell, Ivan Julian and Marc Ribot to contribute to Destiny Street Repaired and the result was an album shocked like Dr. Frankenstein’s monster into new life. As Meyers puts it, the album is “more full and satisfyingly full-on.”

Despite the fact that overall there are fewer guitar tracks, the guitars are actually louder on Repaired than they are on the Line LP, and any record that showcases Ribot, Julian and Frisell in a rocking mood is nothing to ignore. The weirdly striated frequency spectrum of the original mastering job, which seemed as thin as mountain air in the higher frequencies, has been replaced by something much more full and satisfyingly full-on. And as a singer, Hell Mk 2008 manages to hit more of the notes with more force than his more desperate and debilitated self a quarter century earlier without going for any misguided notion of perfection.”

Bill Meyer’s entire review of Destiny Street Repaired can be read at Dusted.

Update 4/25: Meyer gives credit to German label Line Records for being the first label to release Destiny Street, which may be true for Germany but not the USA. In fact, it was released in the States on Marty Thau’s legendary Red Star records. In France, it was released by Celluloid. All in 1982. As to the source of the money for the making of the record, my bet is on Thau. I’ve e-mailed Marty and am waiting to hear back.
(Thanks, Mona).

Update 4/25: The always gracious Marty Thau responded to my questions regarding Destiny Street and its intriguing history:

Red Star financed the original version of Destiny Street and eventually licensed it to Line Records in Germany, who didn’t pay royalties until they were caught years later. 

Not only did Red Star finance the original version of “DS” but it’s distributor, Jem Records, manufactured it for Red Star before anyone else in the world. History must not be rewritten no matter how bad the vibes might be.

Red Star’s version of “DS” was chosen as the #3 best record of the year by the NY Times in ‘82 by Robert Palmer. I believe that Richard’s new version of “DS” doesn’t improve upon the original, as much as he’d like to think it does.
Back in the day Richard was a useless drug addict who didn’t live up to his promise. He’ll admit to that.”

“The Kid With The Replaceable Head (2008)” is available as part of the Richard Hell retrospective cd and can be purchased here.

Here are both versions;
 

 
Personally, I prefer the sludgy, raw basement sound of the original recording. The re-recorded version is a little clean with a slick sheen and the poppy background vocals up in the mix work against the punk Voidoid vibe. But, either way, it’s a great song and Richard Hell is undoubtedly a legend not to be messed with…unless he doin’ the messin.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
‘In The Land Of Giants And Pygmies’
04.23.2011
01:24 am

Topics:
Environment
History
Movies

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Shot in 1925, Aurelio Rossis’ fascinating film diary of his trek into the Belgian Congo, In The Land Of Giants and Pygmies, has been restored from two stencil-colored 35mm prints found in a camera store in Lyon, France.

A time lost forever if not for this amazing footage.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
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