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Excellent Sparks live footage from 1974
09.03.2011
12:48 pm
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Man I love Sparks! They are simultaneously the geekiest AND coolest band in the history of rock. We need to be showing more love to the brothers Mael and their highly literate, fun, sexy and intelligent music here on DM - they are California boys after all. This bizarrely brilliant short concert film is the perfect excuse to post about them.

Sparks always move with the times, and frequently they were well ahead of it. In 1974 they took baroque opera-pop to the top of the UK charts, a whole year before Queen did the same thing to more acclaim. In 74/75 they pretty much invented New Wave (the proof lies in this film)  and 4-5 years later when it had caught on Sparks had already moved on to inventing that staple of 80s pop, the synth-duo (through their incredible work with Giorgio Moroder). That’s not even taking into account the theory that 1976’s Big Beat album paved the way for power-pop. By the early 80s the brothers had settled down and repositioned themselves as perhaps THE quintessential New Wave band, hooking up with uber-fan Jane Weidlin of the Go-Gos along the way, and delivering the MTV staple “Cool Places”. Sparks were on the ball with their music videos too, recognising that the moving image was going to be key to music in the coming decades, and hiring a certain director called David Lynch to helm the promo for their classic 1983 stomper “I Predict”.

And that brings us back to this concert film. It is of course a brilliant look at the Sparks live set-up of the mid-Seventies post-glam era, but it also gives us some unintentionally funny moments too. It must have been a bit of a nightmare for the record company to position this brainy, sarky, odd-looking band as being another teeny-bop pop product, but boy did they try. See the over-enthusiastic reaction from the crowd to every single move the band make! Hear the roars that sound like they were from a different concert! Feel the prodding from assistant directors for bored audience members to get up and dance! Still, none of this hides the true, what-the-hell weirdness that shines out of Sparks, and particularly Ron Mael. Just check the moment at 1:40 when Ron gives a wry smile to an audience member and we see her shocked reaction.

This film is pretty short and only features four songs (“Something For The Girl With Everything”. Talent Is An Asset”, “B.C.” and “Amateur Hour”) and pop spotters will also be interested to see that Sparks are given an introduction by none other than Keith Moon and Ringo Starr:
 
Sparks Live 1974 Part 1
 

 
Part 2 after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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09.03.2011
12:48 pm
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More pioneering synthpunk from Futurisk
09.03.2011
10:44 am
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More early 80s synthpunk madness, this time from South Florida’s Futurisk. These guys are pretty obscure and information on them is limited, but according to their website they formed in 1979 when teenager Jeremy Kolosine won some time in a recording studio, and their music was usually:

recorded by Richard Hess and the band in the rooms of Ron K’s house. The drum sound, gotten in a bathroom, rocks, even today. Reportedly, Futurisk may have been the 1st synth-punk band in the American South…or something, and 1981’s track ‘Push Me Pull You (pt. 2)’ was an early pre-‘Rockit’ excursion into electro-funk.

The revival of interest in the band was sparked when James Murphy included one of their tracks on a DFA mix for the French boutique Colette in 2003. Last year the Minimal Wave label released a retrospective of the band’s work called Player Piano, and earlier this year the band put out a remix 12” of the track “Lonely Streets”, one of whose remixes came from the mighty Chris Carter. Here’s a couple of videos of Futurisk in action:

Futurisk - “Meteoright”
 

 
After the jump the original video for the classic “Army Now”, and more Futurisk…
 
If you like what you hear, and you want to pick up Player Piano, you can get it here.

READ ON
Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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09.03.2011
10:44 am
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Coffee Jerks
09.02.2011
12:05 pm
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Redditor Oppositeofprogress says, “My friend took a series of 1950s/60s-era coffee commercials and edited them down to just the moments when the guys were the biggest jerks to their wives about coffee.”

Posted by Tara McGinley
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09.02.2011
12:05 pm
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Queen Elizabeth’s Magician: a docu-drama about Dr John Dee
09.01.2011
09:07 pm
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A couple of months ago Damon Albarn premiered his new work Dr Dee: An English Opera as part of the Manchester International Festival. As the name would suggest, Dr Dee concerns the life of the Elizabethan mathematician, cartographer and magician John Dee, with original music composed by Albarn (singing and conducting a chamber group live on stage throughout the show). Well, maybe it was because I was so blown away by Bjork’s magical Biophilia show a few days earlier at the festival, but I found the opera to be a massive let down. You can read more of my thoughts on Dr Dee An English Opera here.

One of the main complaints levelled at Albarn’s production was that its oblique nature did nothing to explain the fascinating story of John Dee to an audience unfamiliar with the man. I was lucky enough to have some knowledge in advance and was able to spot some of the key moments in Dee’s life - but even then the narrative felt scrambled and made little use of some incredible source material (namely the man’s incredible life story). That’s despite this promising write up in the MIF’s program:

There was once an Englishman so influential that he defined how we measure years, so quintessential that he lives on in Shakespeare’s words; yet so shrouded in mystery that he’s fallen from the very pages of history itself.
That man was Dr Dee – astrologer, courtier, alchemist, and spy.

Queen Elizabeth’s Magician - John Dee is a 2002 television show produced by the UK’s Channel 4 for their Masters of Darkness series, and tells the man’s incredible story in a much more accessible way. While perhaps not revealing anything that the more avid Dee student wouldn’t already know, the show is informative and entertaining (if slightly cheesy) and serves as a good introduction to the man and his legacy. It’s also a good watch for fans of Alan Moore, who appears throughout the show and talks of Dee’s magical practices and their influence - and the three-note “spooky” sax motif is more memorable than anything in Albarn’s opera: 
 

 
Previously on DM:
Dr. Dee: sneak preview of new Damon Albarn opera about 16th Century Alchemist

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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09.01.2011
09:07 pm
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Marilyn Monroe’s ‘The Last Sitting’ by Bert Stern gif’d
08.31.2011
06:12 pm
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These iconic images of Marilyn Monroe were taken in June 1962, six weeks before her death.

(via Ronny)

Posted by Tara McGinley
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08.31.2011
06:12 pm
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David Bowie with a moustache, 1966
08.31.2011
12:57 pm
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No, not here, in the video…

Cor blimey! David Bowie with a bleedin’ moustache? Even if it’s a fake one, he’s the LAST guy in the world I would have expected to sport facial hair (at least until that regrettable “Tin Machine” era goatee).

Is there a never-ending supply of previously rare David Bowie material out there? Sure seems like it. Here’s the video for “Rubber Band,” the third single from his David Bowie album on Deram Records, 1966. This is, of course, when Bowie was heavily into his twee Anthony Newley phase. Some people don’t like this material. Not me, I find Bowie’s early work absolutely charming and play it often. How I wish there was a video for “The Laughing Gnome.”
 

 
Via Bedazzled/Thank you Tony Dicola!

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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08.31.2011
12:57 pm
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‘Watch Out Kids’: Legendary UK underground publication
08.31.2011
11:38 am
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Dangerous Minds pal Mick Farren will be performing at SPACE Exhibitions in London this Thursday night, where the 1972 alternative comic he put together with the late underground psycheledelic cartoonist, Edward Barker will be be on display. Watch Out Kids features Barker’s own work along with work by Spain, Robert Crumb, Malcolm Livingstone, Gilbert Shelton and others. From Mick’s email:

The event is a re-examination and maybe a celebration of the agitprop tome Watch Out Kids that Edward Barker and I put together way back in the 20th century. The book was a highly subjective compendium of counterculture graphics and the rogue philosophy of the psychedelic left. Since a gallery show, by definition, is primarily visual, the major tribute is really to the work of the late great Edward. But I will be showing up with master guitarist Andy Colquhoun - a once and future Deviant and Pink Fairy - plus our new friend and percussionist, Jaki Miles-Windmill, to perform poetry and other rhymed writings.

The deal is that doors open at 6.00pm; allowing us to stand around, drink free beer, pose and chat, observe and be observed, until sometime just after eight, when we the performers get down and perform. Finally after the show, we head into the after-party at which a good time will be had by all.

For the exhibition at SPACE the entire book will be displayed on the Library walls alongside a video archive featuring a new interview with Mick Farren by SPACE curator Paul Pieroni. As a lifelong Mick Farren fan, I am gratified to see that this national treasure is beginning to be properly respected about a year in from his move back home to England. (Farren lived in New York, then Los Angeles, where I know him, for many years). People of Great Britain, a counterculture legend walks among you (again).

Preview Thu 1st Sept, 6 - 9 pm at SPACE Exhibitions, 129-131 Mare Street in Dalston. 020 8525 4330

Below, Mick Farren interviewed about the underground press by John Peel.
 

 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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08.31.2011
11:38 am
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Hit the North: Lindsay Anderson’s ‘The White Bus’, 1967
08.28.2011
08:01 pm
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The year before he made If…, Lindsay Anderson produced and directed The White Bus, a short film adapted by Shelagh Delaney, from her short story “Sweetly Sings the Donkey”.

The White Bus was originally commissioned as one third of a three-part film RED, WHITE & ZERO, to be directed by Anderson and his “Free Cinema” collaborators, Tony Richardson and Karel Reisz. It proved an ill-fated project, and The White Bus was the only part to be finished and given a cinematic release.

Delaney was best known for her play A Taste of Honey, while Anderson had established himself as critic and as a documentary film maker, winning an Oscar for one of his first films, Thursday’s Children in 1954. Anderson was also Britain’s leading theater director.

In 1963, Anderson directed This Sporting Life, starring Richard Harris and Rachel Roberts, and based on a novel by David Storey.

Writers were important to Anderson, and he formed highly successful collaborations with a handful of playwrights and authors. In theater,his work with David Storey produced the acclaimed dramas In Celebration, Home, The Changing Room and Life Class. While his collaboration with David Sherwin led to the Mick Travis trilogy, If…, O, Lucky Man! and Britannia Hospital.

The White Bus has many of the hallmarks of Anderson’s later films (most notably O, Lucky Man! ), and suggests that the teamwork of Anderson-Delaney could have led to greater works. One can only wonder how Delaney’s film, Charlie Bubbles would have turned out if Anderson had directed it.

The White Bus stars Patricia Healey, and features Arthur Lowe, Anthony Hopkins, and is the story of a young woman numbed by London life, who returns to Salford in search of her northern roots.

Through the eyes of her disillusioned protagonist, Delaney creates a beautifully warped city symphony about an industrial town vivid with history yet ever-changing.

 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.28.2011
08:01 pm
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Edwardians in Color
08.26.2011
06:59 pm
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The long summers of Edwardian England were a product of the 1920’s imagination, when those who had been children during that decade looked fondly back to a time of seeming innocence. This in part became a theme central to a generation of British artists and writers - Christopher Isherwood, W. H. Auden, Nancy Mitford, George Orwell, Francis Bacon, Evelyn Waugh - all Edwardian children, who produced work that reflected the loss of certainty and identity caused by the Great War.

These photographs of Edwardians in color capture some of the wistful nostalgia that the ubiquity of cameras and film usage helped develop during the century.
 
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Previously on Dangerous Minds

Color Photographs of Russia from a Century Ago


 
Via How to be a Retronaut
 
More Edwardians in color, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.26.2011
06:59 pm
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‘City of Shadows’: Alexey Titarenko’s haunting photographs
08.25.2011
06:11 pm
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Alexey Titarenko has photographed Saint Petersburg since he was 8-years-old. In fact, he says, he has dedicated his whole life to the city. Titarenko sees his photographs as reflecting the history of his city, and Russia, over the past 20 years. 

“Through the prism of my native city, I attempt to show events that occurred not only here, but throughout the country - the changes, the catastrophies, and the human tragedies, which have swept this city and the people of this land.”

In the 1990s, Titarenko was working on a series of photographs about totalitarianism, centered on the signs and statues that were crumbling around him as Soviet communism failed. Poverty spread as rationing was introduced.

“Food was rationed. To obtain food in exchange for the ration tickets, people would run from one store to another, with a desperate air, and their eyes full of sorrow. I’d place my camera at the subway entrance and take photographs.

“The activity around the station, which was located in a shopping district, overlapped with the sensations I felt when I listened to certain musical compositions, Shostakovich’s 13th Symphony in particular, the movement entitled “At the Shop”.

“The mass of people flowing around the subway station formed a sort of human tide, giving me a sensation of unrealness, of phantasmagoria, These people were like shadows, one would meet in the Underworld. I decided to express that feeling in my work, to convey my personal expressions. I had to find a visual metaphor that would enable the viewer to share my feelings as acutely as possible. That is what prompted me to try a long exposure process.”

Titarenko’s pictures were haunting, disturbing, like malevolent ghosts crowding the frame. He called the series City of Shadows,
 
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Via My Modern Met. With thanks to Tara McGinley
 
More hauntings pics, and rest of documentary on Alexey Titarenko, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.25.2011
06:11 pm
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