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If you love Neutral Milk Hotel (or Marc Bolan), give Raymond Listen & The Licorice Roots a try*
06:47 am


Raymond Listen
Shimmy Disc
Licorice Roots

Last week Jeff Feuerzeig, the director of Half Japanese: The Band That Would Be King and The Devil and Daniel Johnston emailed to thank me for turning him on to the Licorice Root Orchestra album. He was referring to an old DM post about the cult band Raymond Listen (aka Licorice Roots). I took a look at that old post—I think it’s one of the greatest obscure gems that we’ve ever shown a spotlight here on DM and I was disappointed to see that the YouTube counters on their videos have barely budged since that post originally went up. And that pissed me off, so here it is again. Maybe a few more of you will pick up on it this time. Trust me, kids, this one is a real treat.

*If I’d have only mentioned Raymond Listen or the Licorice Roots in the title, would you even be reading this? Probably not, right? And who could blame you? Even by obscure band standards, they’re still pretty damned obscure. Obscure to the point where pretty much no one has ever heard of them. That’s why I made the Neutral Milk Hotel comparison up front, to draw you in (For some of you, admit it, I had you at “Neutral M…”). Stay with me here, though. You will be glad you did.

Still, it’s not really that egregious of a blog “bait-n-switch” title thing, either, because if you are a fan of Neutral Milk Hotel’s classic 1998 album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea or John Lennon’s Imagine or Mind Games albums, for that matter, I can assure you that you will find a whole lot to love about the quirky low-fi pleasures of Raymond Listen and the Licorice Roots, too, in particular their 1993 debut, Licorice Root Orchestra (There was a name change after the first album from “Raymond Listen” to “The Licorice Roots,” to clarify. The leader/singer/songwriter is a guy called Edward Moyse).

I’m not going to pretend that I know anything about this band, but I’ve listened to this album, A LOT, in the past twenty years. Kramer, of Bongwater/Shimmy Disc fame produced the album and he gave me the CD when it originally came out: “This is a masterpiece,” I recall him saying in his WC Fields-esque way. “This guy is a fuckin’ genius.”

I’d have to concur. I also recall Kramer telling me that they once had about fifteen musicians onstage, all tied together (how great is that?) and that there was “one chick who just plays finger cymbals.”

When Licorice Root Orchestra came out, Melody Maker had this to say:

This, their divine debut, works as an ensemble piece. These 13 dream-dipped delights provide the perfect soundtrack to some sepia-tinted silent movie and manage to pull off the near-impossible: they are appealingly gauche but never gormless, naive but never nerdy. Most are under three minutes, their wealth of tiny details strung on a delicate, twittering frame.

“September in the Night” and “Cloud Symphonies” are pop songs like you’ve never heard them, impressionistic, hazy things that throb with wobbly, sub-aquatic strings and a piano that sounds like it’s floating up from the cellar. You can thank Shimmy’s chief kook, Kramer, for that, of course. There’s a general air of uneasiness beneath the charm, though, of Something Nasty never far away. “Lemon Peel Medallion”, for example, is full of fairground melancholy, while “Tangled Weeks” begins like the band started playing something else and then had to quickly change tack. Like most of these tunes, it moves to a strange, seesaw waltz, tinkling with glockenspiel, flute, finger cymbals, and piano.

“Licorice Root Orchestra” is a delicate work of weird genius; violet-tinted, sherbert-sweet, and lonely as Coney Island on a wet Sunday. Dip in.

Weird genius…. It’s true!

The NME sayeth:

“Syrup-sweet flute and piano ditties offer simple, magical, childlike tones.”

And like I say, it’s been nearly two decades that I’ve listened to this album a fuck of a lot. I’ve made many, many copies for people on cassette and then on CD-R. I unabashedly love the Licorice Root Orchestra album and it holds a special place of esteem (and obscurity) in my record collection. There’s something so ethereal and gossamer delicate about the sound, and then there is an element of Edward Moyse’s guitar playing that I love where he somehow always manages to sound like he’s trying to catch up to the rest of the band (and I mean that in the best possible way, he’s got an idiosyncratic guitar technique every bit as unique and off-kilter as Keith Levene’s or The Bevis Frond’s). An out-of-tune upright piano laden with reverb adds a distinctly Lennon-esque element to their sound and Moyse’s voice is a divine and languid instrument, calling to mind a blissfully stoned Marc Bolan. His/their sound has also put me in mind of Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” (the song not the album).

To be honest, although I listen to that first Raymond Listen album at least once a year, if not much more often than that, before yesterday, I never really looked them up on the Internet or YouTube. I was under the impression that they’d recorded just one album. There’s very little information out there about them, even the Raymond Listen website is just a few stills and no text whatsoever. The Licorice Roots website isn’t that much more forthcoming, either.

Here’s what AllMusic has to say::

What if, instead of splitting off to form Neutral Milk Hotel, the Olivia Tremor Control, and the Apples in Stereo, the original core members of the Elephant 6 collective had formed one band that incorporated Jeff Mangum’s scratchy lo-fi folk, Will Cullen Hart and Bill Doss’ trippy experimental tendencies, and Robert Schneider’s knack for clever pop hooks? The results would have sounded very much like the Delaware psych-pop trio the Licorice Roots. In fact, the Licorice Roots pre-date the recording careers of all three of those bands, but the band’s low profile, coupled with wide gaps between releases, has made them hidden treasure for all but the most devoted fans of modern psychedelia.

But before the Licorice Roots, there was Raymond Listen. Singer/songwriter and guitarist Edward Moyse and drummer David Milsom formed Raymond Listen in the college town of Newark, DE, in 1990. By 1992, organist and percussionist Dave Silverman completed the group, and in 1993 they scored the coveted Cute Band Alert blurb from the post-feminist teen magazine Sassy. Raymond Listen’s debut album, Licorice Root Orchestra, was produced by New Jersey noise pop maven Kramer and released on his Shimmy-Disc label that same year. The band added a second guitarist and percussionist for a national tour in early 1994, but split up shortly thereafter. However, only a few months later, the core trio of Moyse, Silverman, and Milsom regrouped as the Licorice Roots. Their first album under the new name took three years to complete before being released as Melodeon in 1997. A second album, Caves of the Sun, was self-released in 2003. In 2006, the Licorice Roots signed with the Chicago-based indie Essay Records and released their third album, Shades of Streamers. At the same time, Essay reissued Licorice Root Orchestra in an expanded and remastered edition under the Licorice Roots name.

Holy shit. That means there are four other albums from these guys, plus a reissued, expanded version of the one they made with Kramer? As unlikely as it seems to me that I’d never even once done a Google search for one of my top favorite albums of all time (Licorice Root Orchestra would easily be in my top 100, if not top 50 albums), I’m happy to hear more (and it’s all on Spotify). You can buy the CD of this minor masterpiece used on Amazon for as little as 70 cents, which is ridiculous.

After the jump, experience the beautiful music of Edward Moyse, Raymond Listen and the Licorice Roots….

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Gila Monster Jamboree’: Sonic Youth, Meat Puppets and Perry Farrell live in the Mojave Desert, 1985
06:01 am


Sonic Youth
Meat Puppets
Redd Kross
Perry Farrell

Sonic Youth’s West Coast debut took place at the Gila Monster Jamboree, one of three not-totally-legal shows Desolation Center put on in Southern California during the mid-‘80s. If you wanted to attend, you had to buy a ticket, sign a release form, and then make your way to a remote rock in the Mojave Desert. Run by Stuart Swezey of the great AMOK bookstore and press, Desolation Center specialized in setting up wild shows at nontraditional venues, as the ‘90s Sonic Youth biography Confusion Is Next explains:

Previous Desolation Center events had included a boat cruise around San Pedro Harbor featuring the Minutemen, and a Mojave Desert show starring the coruscating German band Einstürzende Neubauten and high-gauge explosives. The Sunday-night bill pitted Sonic Youth against the Meat Puppets, an acid-punk trio from Phoenix, Arizona, signed to SST; Redd Kross, a seventies-inspired punk band led by teenage brothers; and Psi-Com, a [sic] unfortunate group headed by one Perry Farrell—later front man for the infinitely more successful Jane’s Addiction.

A map to a halfway point, Victorville, was provided with each ticket; exact directions to the festival site were given verbally from there. Despite a rash of free LSD and a late-night slot that forced Sonic Youth into the chilly desert air, the show was an unqualified success. Regardless of the prevailing hippie aesthetic (which the members of Sonic Youth found nothing if not anachronistic), Sonic Youth for the first time met their true contemporaries face-to-face: postpunk musicians who regarded rock and punk with equal doses of admiration and derision.


Directions to Gila Monster Jamboree (larger image here)
A more recent Sonic Youth bio, Psychic Confusion, includes eyewitness detail from Sonic Youth drummer Bob Bert and Meat Puppet Curt Kirkwood:

“We went to this weird goth guy’s house the day before, to check out the drum kit I’d be borrowing,” remembers Bob. “The place was full of wild reptiles. He was the singer of Psi-Com; years later, I would realize he was Perry Farrell, of Jane’s Addiction.”

“Gila Monster was a pirate thing,” explains Kirkwood, “the kind of thing Meat Puppets used to play in Arizona, where people would bring kegs. But Stuart did it on a much larger scale.” The generator and crappy PA system were set up at Skull Rock, a knoll deep in the Mojave Desert, eight miles from Joshua Tree.


“It was well lit, because it was full moon,” remembers Kirkwood. “Clear viewing, you can go hiking around, you don’t need a flashlight or nothin’. It’s real nice. You were surrounded by the desert, you kinda had to sneak in. There was slippery stuff going on all around; there were 500 people there, and I think a lot of them were on LSD. There was this bizarre feeling of paranoia. Loads of people were just sitting there going, ‘woooah, woooah’, tripping in the desert, all these punk rockers from LA. It was a pretty SST-heavy affair. Like I said, we’re all friends, Redd Kross, Sonic Youth, all the attendant freaks from SST. It wasn’t real loud, it was pleasant.”


Sonic Youth in Southern California, 1985
I’ve yet to come across any recordings of Redd Kross at Gila Monster Jamboree, and while audio of Psi Com’s bad night (according to Perry Farrell: The Saga of a Hypester, after their set ended, the frontman hid behind a rock and sobbed) certainly exists, all the links I’ve found are dead. However, you can hear all of the Meat Puppets’ performance, comprising most of their not-yet-released masterpiece Up on the Sun, in glorious FLAC or just-fine MP3 at the Meat Puppets Live Repository.   

A ticket to Gila Monster Jamboree
And here’s Sonic Youth, two months before the release of Bad Moon Rising, busting a gut for “Brother James” under the desert stars. We learn from Lee Ranaldo’s liner notes for the VHS of Sonic Youth’s set, released in 1992, that a crew from Flipside Magazine shot the video, and that the Meat Puppets were the last band to go on, playing “on into the night as the desert cold set in, under a big ring around the moon.” If you’ve ever wondered how Sonic Youth pulled off “Death Valley ‘69” without Lydia Lunch, wonder no more.

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Gary Lucas meets Captain Beefheart
09:35 am


Frank Zappa
Captain Beefheart
Gary Lucas

One of the nice things about editing this blog is when fun—and unexpected—things arrive in your inbox, like this delightful tale from grand guitarist Gary Lucas, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the live Frank Zappa/Captain Beefheart album, Bongo Fury, which was released on October 2, 1975:

I’d originally met Don Van Vliet at Yale when I was an undergraduate there in the early 70’s. I was music director of their radio station WYBC in the fall of 1971, when he and his band came up to play a show at Yale around the release of The Spotlight Kid album, and I got the task to interview him and then do a hospitality meet-n-greet when the band arrived to play at Woolsey Hall (with performing monkeys as the opening act, I kid you not).

I had previously seen his NYC debut the previous year at a little club on the Upper West Side called Ungano’s in January 1971, and it changed my life. I vowed to myself that night:  “If I ever do anything in music, I want to play with this guy”—it was that life-affirming and radical of a show/presentation.

I always made a point after that to hang out with him backstage when he came around the NYC area to tour—I saw him at Town Hall several times with Bob Seger and Larry Coryell opening, also at the Academy of Music on 14th sandwiched between a then-fledgling Billy Joel and The J. Geils Band.

Don eventually gave me his phone number and we drew closer, with marathon phone conversations that would last an hour. We lost touch when he did his “Tragic Band” thing on Mercury. I didn’t have the heart to go see it live, having loved the old band and songs but in 1975 I was home in Syracuse NY when I saw in the newspaper that Don would be the special guest of Frank Zappa at the Syracuse War Memorial.

I had to see that—especially as his last words to me about Frank hadn’t been too favorable. He came out in the show and did the great cameos which are featured on Bongo Fury which came out later that year. He was still great!

When the show was over and they were packing up, I approached the stage and there he was, looking lost amidst the chaos, clutching a paper grocery bag filled with sketch books, harmonicas, cigarettes. I called his name and he yelled my name: “Gary!”—and came over and hugged me.

He was hungry and wanted to eat barbecue, so me and a pal drove him to a midnight barbecue pit known as “Tobe’s” that this old black guy Tobe Erwing ran after hours in his backyard in the ghetto of Syracuse,
you had to drive up a gravel road to get there. Amidst the midnight ribs chowdown, after Don, delighted by this scene, sang some a cappella blues while Tobe sat around looking bemused packing heat in his apron,
I revealed to Don that if he ever wanted to put his band back together I’d love to audition for it.

“You play the guitar?!?” he asked incredulously.

I’d never revealed this to him before as I was a) shy and b) didn’t want to offer my services until I was convinced I could handle his music, which I’d been secretly wood-shedding on.

“Come on up to Boston where I’m playing with Frank on Friday night, and bring your guitar” he instructed.

We caroused around some more in downtown Syracuse, eventually Don and myself bringing Frank back a bag of Tobe’s ribs (we found him in his bathrobe watching some cheesy Skiles and Henderson-like comedy duo in the top floor revolving restaurant of the Holiday Inn where they were staying).

I went home to crash about 6am, and got up around 10am to race back downtown to Syracuse University’s Crouse College Auditorium for the press conference of Frank and Don for invited students—the Soundcloud clip is just one excerpt from a fairly hilarious hour.

Later that week I duly took the Greyhound bus up to Boston with my ‘64 Stratocaster in tow… crashed with my Yale pal Bill Moseley (whom I ran a successful midnight horror film society with—Things That Go Bump in the Night—at Yale; Bill is now worldwide horror icon as Texas Chainsaw Massacre II‘s “Choptop” character, and has starred in a couple of Rob Zombie’s films). We went to see Frank’s Boston show with Don and then I went back to Don’s hotel room, where I proceeded to play for him.

“Great!! We’ll do it!” 

But when? He was vague… and I had a ticket to go to Taiwan in a few weeks to start work for my uncle (my parents attempt at shipping me off overseas to free me from the clutches of a 56-year-old Italian-American shaman-ess whom I’d been living with…)

We parted as friends—and I knew I was destined to play with him.

It did take a few years, but in 1980 things fell into place with Doc at the Radar Station …but that’s another story.

Guest post by Gary Lucas

Below, a brief excerpt from a Bongo Fury-related press conference at Crouse College of Music auditorium, Syracuse University, 4/23/75. My late friend Jamie Cohen (A&R maven for EMI, Columbia Records, and Private Music) was a student at Syracuse University back in 1975 when he asked Don Van Vliet this question at a press conference I also attended the morning after Frank Zappa and the Mothers—with special guest Captain Beefheart—performed at the Syracuse War Memorial:


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘All Things Under Heaven’: Listen to the blistering evil of the new album from The Icarus Line
12:41 pm


Joe Coleman
The Icarus Line
Joe Cardamone

There is a blistering, hypnotic, exciting new album by The Icarus Line titled All Things Under Heaven that drops today. In fact, it’s dropping right into your lap, right here, right now if you are willing to just hit play.

All Things Under Heaven is a ferocious beast. Pulverizing. Intense. A snarling motherfucker of an album. I just just finished listening to it and it’s a real headfuck. (Alternately, it’s like having your head smashed against the sidewalk repeatedly, but I mean that only in the best possible way. I’m already going back for more of this punishment)

Last night, Icarus Line mainman Joe Cardamone sent out the following missive announcing the release of All Things to the faithful:

My People

It’s Christmas eve for everyone who gives a fuck about The Icarus Line. Tomorrow All Things Under Heaven will be released into the wild.  The savage hordes can rip it to shreds and devour the carcass. I don’t need to get into the details here but it was a long few years leading up to this release.  We had to endure some of the most trying circumstances even set in front of us, and that my friends is saying a lot.  I am positive all of these moments are captured in this document that we have made.  There was no better way of explaining it, so the record had to be made.  When it was done being recorded I knew that we could have gone no further, not at that moment. Everything was left there on the tape. I hardly look back on these records we make.  It’s not my record to experience any longer, making it was enough.  Now it’s offered to you.

You will have a chance to stream the album in its entirety courtesy of the great folks at Dangerous Minds. They will have it streaming for some period of time then it will shut off.  I do want to raise this notion though; if you think it’s a compelling ride, buy yourself a copy. Buy a hard copy.  All Things is made to be experienced in full, much like a film. It will hardly make any sense if you skip through or listen in the style that we are quickly being programmed to do. The fidelity of a stream will somewhat cut you off from the contents and you will have robbed yourself of a total immersion.  If you have a long drive to do, this is made for that.  Try replacing the meal that a film was supposed to fill. Having a full definition CD or LP will offer you a window into some real shit.  This document is walking into hospitals and watching people fall away from light.  It’s also heavily propelled by unconditional love for the subjects that offered its muse. Nothing is an accident but yet it all seems like one big accident. Important things get by us every day. All Things Under Heaven is a pure cut. If you have had the itch now is the time to scratch it.  This will be an exercise in burning the past. Tell the world around you and do not miss out. 

Tomorrow we give you the whole heart, the real shit, new old language,  the stuff that’s bent back into shape.  See you all very soon.

Note the part about listening to All Things Under Heaven during a road trip. I’d say don’t put it on until the wee hours. Wait until about 2am and then let this demon posses you.

I asked Joe Cardamone a few questions via email this morning:

Richard Metzger: Most artists are starting to orient their careers more to the single, whereas this is a two-record longplayer. What sort of journey is the listener in store for?

Joe Cardamone: The listener is in store for something more akin a film in spirit. Although there are some near bite-sized scenes on this LP, most of it was conjured in the moment that it was recorded. In that sense we didn’t have a hell of lot of control over how long some of the pieces would be. We just rattled the room until shit was happening.

Where does your lyrical subject matter come from?

Joe Cardamone: My high school best friend who ended up on meth and in the mental ward. My man’s best friend who died on me. Another best friend from back in the day who started running hard on dope and threw it all away. He gave me all his belongings one day, because he knew he might die soon and he wanted his shit to be in safe hands. Basically just the people I came up with who would have never had anything written about them if I didn’t write about them. That and the war of good vs evil that is raging in the world right now. Seems to be a battle for the soul of the planet.

Speaking of a burnt past, a few weeks ago my old buddy Travis Keller and I did a lengthy conversation about the road leading to this very moment. I haven’t heard it but people say it’s a good listen.

The great heroic painter Joe Coleman is on the record. How did that come about?

Joe Cardamone: I have been a fan of Joe for some years and I had always loved that speech. While making this record that speech kept playing in the lounge at the studio, I think dvd was stuck in the player. My friend Asia Argento showed up one day to hear the progress of this very album and I knew Joe had drawn a portrait of her. I asked her if she knew him and she did, very well.  Asia put me in touch with Joe and I went to visit him in NY to ask for permission on the clip. When I met Joe at his place in NY he was gracious and we got along like gangbusters. By the end of the night he was down to let the clip be part of the album. I am honored.

What are you doing to promote the record?

Joe Cardamone: We are holding a ceremony to celebrate the release this Friday here in our home of Los Angeles. Everyone is invited but it will be especially holy to have those who have had some little hand in its creation at hand. You may not even know that you are on the record, but if you think you might be, then you probably are. I write about the folks that I know because no one else is writing about them and because the lives they lead amaze me at every turn.  We will broadcast the full LP at some point in the evening and let it soak up the air. Endurance time and party time. And we’re touring.
Listen to ‘All Things Under Heaven’ after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The original sketches for Parliament’s famous Mothership stage element
08:54 am


George Clinton
Jules Fisher

As Chris Richards of the Washington Post once wrote, Parliament’s Mothership stage element “might be the most awe-inspiring stage prop in the history of American music.”

The Mothership made its first appearance on the cover of Parliament’s 1975 album Mothership Connection, although the stage element didn’t much resemble the UFO object on the album cover, as you can see.

On WNYC’s show “Soundcheck” recently, Clinton reminisced about the Mothership:

When I told him [Dave Kapralik] after we got the hit record, you don’t get paid for records in the tail end anyway but you can get help with promotion. I said, “buy me this spaceship,” and I didn’t have to finish the sentence. He went and got me a loan from the bank for a million dollars. Jules Fisher built the spaceship, did all the costuming. I told him we wanted to be able to land it on the stage…It was a funk opera.

We landed the spaceship at five o’clock in the morning right in Times Square, right in front of the Coca Cola sign. With no permit in ‘77. The only person who came out was Murray the K, the DJ. He was ripped, he was drunk. He said, “Dr. Funkenstein, welcome to planet Earth. I am Murray the K, the fifth Beatle.” It transported us for 10 years all the way up to “Atomic Dog.”

Jules Fisher had been David Bowie’s tour producer and was also responsible for the stage concept for the Rolling Stones’ 1975 tour. He designed the Mothership, which was 20 feet in diameter. His designs for the Mothership currently reside at the Rock Hall’s Library and Archives, which is located at the Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts on Cuyahoga Community College’s Metropolitan Campus in Cleveland, Ohio. Fisher graciously agreed to grant Dangerous Minds permission to reproduce these original sketches for the Mothership.

The first appearance of the Mothership was in New Orleans on October 27, 1976—but they made a basic mistake by using it at the start of the show instead of in its natural spot as a show-ender. Nothing could follow the Mothership. They soon made the necessary adjustments. The Mothership’s lifespan as a stage element lasted five years, with its last appearance occurring at the last Parliament-Funkadelic show in Detroit in 1981. (According to this listing of P-Funk concerts, at a 1981 gig in Washington, George Clinton emerged from the Mothership naked! Can anyone confirm this?)

Click on any of the images for a larger view.


More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Sweet old-school pins featuring PiL, DEVO, Iggy Pop (and MORE!) from 70s and 80s
07:56 am


Elvis Costello
vintage pins

Vintage 70s Devo flicker/flasher pin
Vintage 70s DEVO flicker/flasher pin
Of the many random things I remember about my youth, one of them was the excitement of visiting the merch table at a live show. Honestly, I’ve never really grown out of that pursuit, and seldom leave a gig empty-handed.

Like a lot of 70s and 80s kids, I was a HUGE fan of covering my trashy Levis or Baracuta jacket with badges, pins and patches. So I nearly lost my mind when I happened upon the vintage 70s DEVO “Flicker” pin (sometimes called a ” flasher” pin), above.
Nixon campaign flicker/flasher pin, late 1960s
Nixon campaign flicker/flasher pin, late 1960s
Flicker pins were big during the 60s - for instance, politicians running for office used flicker pins (see our pal, Tricky Dick above) to display not only an image of themselves, but also their message. Because when you tilt the pin, the image changes. So naturally, curiosity got the better of me and off I went in search of pins and badges from 40 years ago. Because, why not? And my search unearthed some pretty cool and fairly rare old-school swag.
Elvis Costello vintage mirror badge, 70s
Elvis Costello mirror badge, late 70s, early 80s
Iggy Pop
Iggy Pop New Values  mirror badge style tour pin, 1979
In addition to the flicker pins, mirror badges were sort of like the crowning jewel when it came to pins (much like the enamel “clubman” style pins you probably remember ogling at Tower Records, or Spencer’s Gifts at the mall that put a giant hole in your clothes). Mirror badges were usually large and actually had a piece of glass placed on top of the image which made them rather heavy.

Vintage mirror badges are really hard to come by these days and believe it or not, sell for a good bit of cash. As do any vintage flicker pins or promotional buttons/badges/pins that were sold at live shows. Would you pay $54 bucks for a vintage 70s promotional flicker pin that was sold at a performance Alice Cooper did in Las Vegas at the Aladdin Hotel when he recorded his 1977 live album The Alice Cooper Show?
Alice Cooper 1977 promotional flicker/flasher pin
Alice Cooper 1977 promotional flicker/flasher pin
I know I’m not alone when I say, yes. Yes, I probably would. In case that seventeen-year-old kid inside you just said yes, too, pretty much everything in this post is out there somewhere for sale. Tons of images follow. I also included some vintage enamel clubman pins because I couldn’t help myself.
Public Image mirror badge, early 80s
Public Image mirror badge, late 70s, early 80s
Lene Lovich mirror badge, 80s
Lene Lovich mirror badge, 80s
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Joy Division: The Documentary
07:12 am


Joy Division
Ian Curtis

It hardly seems like thirty-five years since Joy Division’s lead singer Ian Curtis committed suicide and brought to an end one of the most promising bands since The Beatles. Though perhaps not unexpected, Curtis’ suicide came at a crucial moment for Joy Division on the eve of a major US tour. Guitarist Bernard Sumner later said that if Curtis had decided on killing himself, then there was nothing anyone could have done to prevent him from doing so. Indeed, Curtis often confided in his wife Deborah that he had no desire to live past his twenties. It was a romantic notion of the artist as tortured poet. Deborah thought Ian was just going through a phase that he would eventually grow out of. However, when she discovered some of Ian’s early teenage poems she understood that the singer was darkly troubled.

As TV presenter and record company supremo Tony Wilson once remarked, punk rock said “Fuck off,” Joy Division said, “We’re fucked.” The idea of being fucked came in part from Curtis’ own sense of alienation and the environment in which he, and his fellow bandmates Sumner, Peter Hook (bass) and Stephen Morris (drums) grew up—a dilapidated industrial wasteland being slowly bulldozed to make way for high rise buildings and shopping centers.
This was Britain in the seventies: a twice bankrupted country, deprived inner cities with no amenities, where buildings were collapsing, services defunct, unemployment and poverty rife. This is all too easy to list, but take one example of what conditions were like—this was a country where a vast number of homes did not have indoor toilets. The demand for change was not just inspired by a sense of political or social justice but by the arrival of American television programs—detective shows like Cannon, Columbo, Ironside, and kids shows like The Monkees and even The Banana Splits—which presented an alternate technicolor world where people had spacious apartments with central heating, air conditioning, hot and cold running water, matching curtains, scatter cushions and an affluent lifestyle. Joy Division’s hometown of Manchester—like Glasgow or Newcastle or Liverpool or Leeds or Birmingham—was Dickensian in comparison, and the lack of shared communal, creative experiences led many to focus inwards.

When punk arrived in the form of a Sex Pistols gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall, Manchester in 1976, Curtis and co. saw a way out. Joy Division: The Documentary tells the story of Ian Curtis, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris from their beginnings as a punk-inspired band Warsaw to recording their seminal and generation defining records Unknown Pleasures and Closer. It’s a story of how lasting success is created by the disparate involvement of managers, producers, designers, club owners, friends, but most importantly talent.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Watch ‘Slade in Flame,’ ‘the ‘Citizen Kane’ of British pop movies’
06:34 am



Slade in Flame (a/k/a Flame) is a lot of fun—duh, it’s got Slade playing in it—but it’s also the only rock movie I know of that shows how desperately sad and awful show business can be. Set in the ‘60s, the movie starts out in the dingy, Broadway Danny Rose world of small-time entertainers: the cramped offices of talent agents who book jugglers and rock bands alike into bingo halls, wedding tents and bars. From there, Slade’s alter egos, Flame, climb to the top, but I wouldn’t say things get better for them.

Andrew Birkin (brother of Jane) based his screenplay on road stories he heard from Slade and their manager and producer Chas Chandler, who had a story or two to tell, having played bass in the Animals and managed Jimi Hendrix. Slade wanted Birkin and director Richard Loncraine to put the harsh reality of the rock biz onscreen, as Noddy Holder explained in a 2002 interview about the movie (embedded below):

When we read [the treatment], we liked the story, the basic idea of the story, but it wasn’t true to life of what a band’s all about. Unless you’ve been in a band, [screenwriters] tend to write about the myth of rock ‘n’ roll, not the reality of rock ‘n’ roll, and we wanted to show what rock ‘n’ roll was really like behind the scenes, not what the fantasy out front is, y’know, that everybody sees, the glitz and glamour and the parties and all that—we wanted to show the other side of the business.

Though the soundtrack and book were enormously successful in the UK, drummer Don Powell’s book, Look Wot I Dun, reports that Slade didn’t see any profits from the movie itself. However, Slade in Flame has consistently appeared in best-of lists since its release, and critic Mark Kermode has called it “the Citizen Kane of British pop movies.”

Watch it here before it gets yanked!

After the jump, a nearly hour-long interview with Noddy Holder that was an extra on the 2004 DVD of ‘Slade in Flame’...

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Toke up for the Mystery Tour: Wu-Tang meet the Beatles
10:51 am


Wu Tang

When Danger Mouse released The Grey Album, his notorious—and quite illegal—mashup of Beatles tunes and Jay-Z’s a cappella wordplay in 2004, EMI Records immediately issued a cease and desist order. The album became a bit of a cause célèbre, with the “information wants to be free” types providing download links and seeding torrent files all over the Internet. Take that, evil EMI!

Cut to today and the mashups genre has a pretty well-established presence on the Web and, well… yawn. Who cares, right? Most mashups are clunky ear-bleeders, better read about than actually listened to, the main joke being, “Hey, I remixed Patsy Cline with Black Sabbath” or “Hey I mixed Glen Campbell with Sunn O)))!” or whatever zany thing those crazy kids on the Internet will think of next. Amusing? Kinda of, in a very last decade sort of way, but do you actually want to listen to it?

But sometimes—not often—something wonderful happens when two great tastes that shouldn’t necessarily taste great together get mashed up anyway.  In 2010, an Englishman named Tom Caruana decided to take some Wu-Tang raps and painstakingly construct a new song using Beatles samples on his Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers project. And what’s even more surprising than his flagrant flaunting of EMI’s copyrights is that the resultant mashups are really good! If Wu-Tang’s resident geniuses ever decided to delve deep into the Beatles catalog instead of soul obscurities for inspiration, this is the album they might have come up with. While most mashups sound like horrible musical Frankenstein monsters created in Pro Tools, this one sounds less like a mashup and more like an actual Wu-Tang record that uses Beatles samples. You can hear the Beatles, clearly, in the mixes (as well as Beatles songs covered by orchestras and “easy listening” combos) but it’s more covert than overt in this case.

Listen to Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers via the Tea Sea Records website. The enterprising Caruana has also bumped Wu-Tang into Jimi Hendrix for Black Gold.


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
That time Peter Cook plugged Sparks with a hidden message on their singles

There is a well-worn myth about Peter Cook that his career went into sad, alcoholic decline after his longtime comedy partner Dudley Moore, who became a famous Hollywood star, ended. Poor old Cook supposedly spent his days pissed out his brains, counting his millions, bemoaning the loss of his once great talent while raging with jealousy over Moore’s success. Of course the truth is never quite as simple or as boring—in fact Cook rarely stopped using his talents to amuse, entertain, experiment or just fuck about for the hell of it—albeit at times on a somewhat smaller stage.

In 1979, while bringing down the house as the judge in The Secret Policeman’s Ball—where he ruthlessly lampooned the dubious summing-up in the infamous trial of Liberal politician Jeremy Thorpe for the attempted murder of his alleged lover Norman “Bunnies” Scott—and hosting the chaotic punk music TV show Revolver, Cook squeezed in time to record two improvised adverts for Sparks’ album No. 1 in Heaven. These ads were hidden on the inner grooves of the twelve inch singles for the Mael brothers’ hits “Beat the Clock” and “Tryouts for the Human Race.”
Picture discs, colored vinyl, 12-inch singles and alike were all part of the many gimmicks used to sell records in the late 1970s, and credit must be given to whoever it was that thought up the jolly wheeze of hiding a wee plug from the subversive Mr. Cook on the latest toe-tapper from Sparks—it was certainly a novel way to shift merchandise.
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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