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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

Topics:
Activism
Heroes
Music

Tags:
1970s
1980s
Chicago
Rufus
Chaka Khan


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.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Spoonful: ‘Hot Thoughts’ is the greatest of Spoon’s many great albums
03.29.2017
11:58 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Spoon


 
The nation’s critics have duly bestowed their substantial and yet lukewarm praise on Hot Thoughts. In truth, it’s Spoon’s best and most accomplished album in what has been a staggering run starting with Telephono in 1996. The only competition for their best LP is Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, but then Transference is terrific too. Conventional wisdom notwithstanding, Hot Thoughts is not the “interesting” late-period effort of established pros. No, it’s the bracing fulfillment of promises made as far back as that first album.

In the past few years Britt Daniel has had the artistic integrity to push himself ever deeper into adventurous climes, and the result has been a series of riotously propulsive and intermittently messy masterpieces that nevertheless seldom feel anything less than contemporary and wrought. Together, Daniel and Eno have been defining the state of the art of rock music for a stretch now. In the vibrancy of their textural landscapes and the density of their musical ideas, they resemble nobody as much as ... well, Kanye West comes to mind.

In case you didn’t know: I’ve followed Spoon as closely as I’ve followed any band. In 1998 I saw them play to an audience of eight in Providence in what was probably the same week that Elektra unceremoniously dumped them. In 2002 I was in the exultant Bowery Ballroom audience that, as with one voice, welcomed Britt Daniel to his rightful place among indie rock royalty after a season or three in the wilderness—a coronation that featured a bouquet of roses lofted at the stage during the sweaty second encore. In 2010 I watched a triumphant Daniel, at the cavernous arc that is Radio City Music Hall, crash up against the strict midnight curfew in a show he clearly wished would never end.

When Spoon first arrived, the obvious touchstone was Wire. The unexpected glory of Britt Daniel is that he was not content to run Texas’ most honed and enignmatic power trio. The man has evidently been inhaling Philip Glass and Brian Eno of late; in their spirit, every album sets standards that are unmistakably its own.
 
Bandwagoneers fond of stumbling upon Spoon’s music in automobile advertisements or Will Ferrell vehicles will insist that Spoon’s strongest period “obviously” starts with Girls Can Tell. Don’t believe it. That album and the next two merely laid an inoffensive foundation for the intrepid and great albums that begin with 2008’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. That run of releases has catapulted producer Jim Eno (who also drums) into a category of one; nobody in the landscape is producing albums with as much care and skill. (Here’s a lofty comparison: If Girls Can Tell is Spoon’s Revolver, this latest album is something like their Abbey Road/White Album, as you please.)

The Spoon albums of the last decade bear some similarities to the second half of Beck’s career, during which he has put out a lot of accomplished, resonant albums that never quite got their due, c’est la vie. But Daniel is undertaking comparable feats with no net, cutting songs off mid-phrase, generating soundtrack music for a very cerebral Charles Bronson movie of my invention. Every Spoon song sounds confident as fuck, and that’s the residue as well as the purpose of Eno’s production. The background is constantly pulsating with gusts of chord.

One doesn’t exactly go to Spoon for sincerity; Daniel’s enigmas were always unresolvable and, by the bye, vastly more fun unresolved anyway. Ever the searcher, Daniel has always absorbed his influences with unusual diligence. For years now he has assigned himself the obligation of honoring all of his influences as unremittingly as he is capable ... This year the murderer’s row consists of Coltrane, Moroder, Grandmaster Flash, John Carpenter, Kraftwerk, Bowie circa Lodger, Jim O’Rourke….. that weight can’t be easy, but well, he manages it.

It’s a fact that Hot Thoughts grows unkempt as it careens toward its beatific conclusion. The album’s first two songs, “Hot Thoughts” and “WhisperI’lllistentohearit,” combine funk, atmosphere, and forward momentum as well as anything Spoon has done since “Finer Feelings” off of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. The album’s hypnotic and endlessly interesting fulcrum, “Pink Up,” which carries the listener to the second needle drop, resembles a locale Yo La Tengo would’ve loved to stake out but could never quite find. Some of the late numbers overstay their welcome by a modalic cycle or two, a point that all the reviews dutifully mentioned. The criticism has no bite, however, for the simple reason that every passage on the album is so pleasurable in a pure sonic sense, and that’s a tradeoff I’ll take every time.

More Spoon after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Wild portraits of Dali, Bowie, Jimi, Jagger, Bruce Lee, Basquiat & more made from junk


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.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Months later, Bob Dylan is STILL trolling the Nobel Committee! (Updated)
03.29.2017
09:31 am

Topics:
Literature
Music

Tags:
Bob Dylan
Nobel Prize


 
After last year’s surprising choice of Bob Dylan to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, some observers surely saw it coming that the prototypical trickster Dylan would largely ignore the experience and—implicitly—deny the Nobel Committee’s authority even to make such a distinction.

Initially, Dylan did not deign to mention the fact of the award in public, maintaining a silence so thorough that it tolerably irked the Nobelites: A few days after the announcement, writer and Swedish Academy member Per Wastberg referred to Dylan as “impolite and arrogant” for neglecting to utter a word on the matter. Interestingly, a few days after that Dylan positively gushed over the event, calling it “amazing, incredible” and asking “Whoever dreams about something like that?” But he soon announced that “pre-existing commitments” would force him to miss the ceremony. Patti Smith performed a Dylan classic in his stead.

Dylan never really stops touring, and 2017 is no exception. Dylan has a six-week tour of Europe coming up, and the first two shows take place in Stockholm on April 1 and 2.
 

 
According to literary omnivore Michael Orthofer, who helpfully deciphered some foreign-language reports, even though he will be a matter of blocks away from the Swedish Academy, Dylan has not made contact with the Swedish Academy in any way:
 

But, as the lady in charge, Sara Danius, now admits/reveals… well, they apparently haven’t been able to get him on the phone for months. So they have no idea what his plans are, or aren’t. As she says: “Vad han sedan beslutar sig för att göra är hans ensak”.

 
Interestingly, delivery of a lecture is practically the only demand placed on Nobel laureates, and Dylan’s apparent lack of interest could theoretically endanger his receipt of the hefty check that also comes with the Prize—Danius has indicated that failure to comply would result in nonpayment.

The prevailing theory is that Dylan is wealthy enough not to mind losing the check.

As Orthofer snarked, “This continuing humiliation train-wreck is something to behold. But I bet they all have their concert tickets…..”

Update: Much to the relief of the Swedish Academy, mere hours ago Dylan agreed to accept the Nobel Prize in Literature. Sara Danius, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy quoted above, commented:
 

The good news is that the Swedish Academy and Bob Dylan have decided to meet this weekend.

The academy will then hand over Dylan’s Nobel diploma and the Nobel medal, and congratulate him on the Nobel prize in literature.

 
The ceremony will be “small and intimate,” with no media present. Danius added, “Only Bob Dylan and members of the academy will attend, all according to Dylan’s wishes.”

Dylan will submit a taped version of his required lecture, which is not unprecedented. Much as Michael Orthofer predicted, the Swedish Academy does have a group outing planned for one of Dylan’s Stockholm performances.

It’s good that Dylan does actually have the basic politeness not to snub the Swedes as thoroughly as seemed to be the case just a few hours ago. Dangerous Minds still holds to the view that Dylan is doing the absolute minimum he can do to acknowledge the award and still collect his 8 million Swedish Krone, which is after all nearly a million dollars.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Country Mike’s Greatest Hits’: The Beastie Boys’ secret country album
03.28.2017
12:28 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Beastie Boys
Country Mike


 
In the 1990s, from certain corners of the indie music landscape writ large, there cropped up a strange little genre we’ll just call “shitty country”: country music done without really the slightest attempt to carry it off properly, executed of course with a good dose of irony and, yes, condescension.

In 1996, for instance, Ween unexpectedly put out an album called 12 Golden Country Greats (which of course had 10 tracks on it). Ween went to the trouble of hiring a bunch of experienced Nashville session musicians to lay down the tracks, without ever telling them that the album was a bit of a put-on—my understanding is that the session guys got all pissed off when they heard the final product, which from the Ween fans’ perspective makes the whole escapade all the better. That album is both a put-on and an honest showcase of outstanding country musicianship.

Four years later, the Beastie Boys spent an afternoon in the studio (I’m guessing) and emerged with a Christmas present for a few hundred of their closest friends. For the recording it was necessary to create a quasi-fictional character known as “Country Mike,” a signal that Mike D. would be handling most of the vocals. The album was called Country Mike’s Greatest Hits, and it featured a baker’s dozen of half-assed and wildly entertaining country ditties.
 

Every recipient of the album also got this Christmas card
 
The initial pressing probably numbered about a thousand copies—if that many. Recipients received a Christmas card in a rustic style. Because of the private nature of the enterprise, scoring copies for regular fans has become difficult indeed. An original black vinyl pressing will run you $250 on Discogs, and the red vinyl pressing is available for $400. The situation at Amazon is similar. Fortunately, there’s an unofficial British release from last year which is priced in the same range as any other new LP.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Extreme as F**K: That time Death Squad held its audience hostage by gunpoint
03.28.2017
09:33 am

Topics:
Art
Drugs
Music

Tags:
Noise
Guns
power tools


 
“Power electronics” is not listener-friendly music on a good day. A cacophony of power drills, feedback, short-circuiting amplifiers, panicked screeching and walls of static, it’s fucking useless to dance to and mostly makes sense to budding serial killers, adolescents who can’t figure out how to play guitars, and lonely dudes with severe social anxieties. Whitehouse were/are the reigning kings of the form, but other notable power electronics artists include Grunt, Atrox Morgue, Brighter Death Now and Genocide Organ. Bands in the genre generally self-release, cassettes and CD-Rs, mostly, sometimes in packages that will maim you when you try opening them. There is a very good book, Fight Your Own War: Power Electronics and Noise Culture, that explains the whole sordid power electronics story far better than I can.
 

These tapes can give you hepatitis.
 
Anyway, west-coast noiseniks Death Squad already had a reputation for taking things beyond the pale. Even the description of his/their 1996 cassette release, Cutting Myself Open To See And Feel Blood, is enough to leave you whimpering in the corner:

“Contains individual photo, used razor blade and blood smeared tapes packaged in an Abbott OPD Reagant (hepatitis test kit!) box. Edition of 20 copies released at the “Blood And Self Mutilation” performance in City College Of San Francisco May 8th 1996.”

But in 1999, the one-man noise unit performed at a club called Lab in San Francisco, and it just might be the most over-the-top “musical” performance of all time, power electronics, GG Allin or otherwise. The wordy flyers for the gig did have a few red flags—they prominently featured a gun, a syringe and razor blade, and the text-dense manifesto included lines like “Small measures of terrorism are the only hope for the collapse of your perception and constantly programmed ideologies.” So, you know, it wasn’t gonna be an easy ride anyway. But the fifty or so aggro-music enthusiasts in attendance definitely got a lil’ more than they bargained for. Forget the wall of screeching, blood-curdling noise that ripped away at the speakers, that much was a given. It was the crazy shit going down onstage that really put it over the top.
 

Original flyer for the notorious performance
 
The show opened in typical 90s industrial/noise fashion, with Death Squad main man Michael Nine seated at a desk, illuminated only by a small lamp. Behind him, a film screen projected the usual edge-wizard atrocities: animal abuse, “true gore” clips, the whole life-is-horror trip. So far, another ho-hum night in 1999. And then things went over the rails.

Ximena Quiroz was in the audience that evening and posted her experience on a Yahoo Forum for fans of Einstürzende Neubauten shortly after the show:

“The desk [Nine] was sitting at had a syringe, razors, a little cup with some sort of liquid in it, a box of bullets, and a gun. The gun and the bullets were real. During the video, he proceeded to inject himself with something (heroin, maybe?). Then he took the razor and began to saw his arms with it until he was bleeding profusely. At first, I thought he wasn’t really cutting himself, but he wouldn’t stop bleeding, even when he wasn’t cutting himself.”

Okay, so far we’ve got heroin use and self-mutilation. And the dude is only getting started. At this point, it’s probably time to pack up and go home. Half the audience did, in fact.  But Ximena stuck around, and things quickly escalated.

More after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
Amusing ‘Punk!’ pinball machine from the early 1980s hints at certain bands to avoid paying them
03.27.2017
10:21 am

Topics:
Games
Music
Punk

Tags:
punk
pinball


 
I’ve never liked arcade video games much, but I’ve always been really into pinball machines. So much so that in the last few years I’ve joined a local pinball league (great fun!) and visited a few pinball conventions. I’ve even driven way out of my way to visit specific coffee shops and pizzerias just because some model I hadn’t played before was available to use.

So over the weekend I come across an amazing image of a “Punk!” pinball machine from D. Gottlieb & Company, universally known as “Gottlieb,” that dates from the year 1982. I’ve never even seen an image of this game before, much less played it. Every DM reader is aware of the cross-pollination involved between punk and new wave, there’s a lot to be said on that subject, and yet….. there’s something off about this game.

It’s amusing to see how some of the major punk acts are “implied” in a non-licensed way by having scrawled graffiti with certain letters blocked out so that nobody could really say which band starting with “S-I-O” is being referenced.

So you can spot Siouxsie Sioux being invoked on the right-hand side; at the bottom you have “EAD BO” which is surely the Dead Boys. At the top you’ve got the Ramones and the Jam and the Clash being signaled. Interesting to see Joy Division tucked away up there as well. On the backglass, behind the guitarist’s left leg, you have what appears to be the word “DAMNED” partially blocked, all the more enticing to a teen demographic because it involves a curse word.

But wait—what’s that on the left-hand side there? “PECH—M—”? How did Depeche Mode get involved with this?? They are definitely not punk!

Remember, 1981 was the high point of the synth-pop movement, with Soft Cell, Ultravox, and OMD all in their prime. This machine may say “Punk!” on it but it mainly has me thinking of Square Pegs and Valley Girl.

On this Pinside forum there’s a lively discussion about the game—not surprisingly, Punk! is a very difficult game to find from a collector’s perspective. One observer comments that “it is among the most difficult and nearly impossible pins to aquire.” Fewer than 1,000 were made, and even though the gameplay does not look all that interesting, it’s such a great item to have around that people who have it probably seldom let it go. 

Price estimates run around $800, which is a fairly ordinary price for a machine of this type. Given its rarity, if the gameplay were actually engaging the sky would be the limit here!
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Yes Sir, I Can Boogie!’: The fantastic 70s K-Pop disco funk of Bunny Girls


The cover of the 1978 album by South Korean duo Bunny Girls.
 
The obscure South Korean girl group that went by both Bunny Girl and Bunny Girls were around for over a decade, and the music they put out under both monikers is full of funky disco-synth goodness.

If my research is correct, Bunny Girls put out their first album Yes Sir, I Can Boogie in 1978 at the height of the disco craze in the U.S. and continued to release a few albums and singles throughout the end of the 1980s. So obscure are the adorable duo that despite my efforts to dig up much more on them In English, I came up pretty empty handed—except for the four tracks posted below—one which includes South Korean psych-guitar god, Shin Joong Hyun. Though one of the songs as well as the title of their debut album share the exact same title as the disco smash by Spanish duo Baccara, it doesn’t appear to be a cover of Baccara’s 1977 single, “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie.” Flash forward to 1989 and we hear Bunny Girls sound as if they went back to 1985 for inspiration by way Oingo Boingo’s bouncy hit, “Dead Man’s Party.”

If any or all of this sounds good to you then you’re in for a treat because the music of the mysterious Bunny Girls is addictive ear candy that will leave you wanting to hear more. Which will sadly prove to be a difficult task though I’m sure some of our more intrepid disco fans will give it a shot. It’s also probably worth noting that Bunny Girls’ obscurity in the 70s was likely a result of the repressively dark political environment in South Korea thanks to the president and military general Park Chung-hee who lived to prevent musicians from making music during his time in office. In fact, after Bunny Girls’ fuzzy collaborator Shin Joong Hyun flatly refused to write a song for the strongman in 1972, he was blacklisted from the music industry in his homeland and his music was banned. A few years later Hyun got popped for marijuana possession and spent several years traveling between psychiatric hospitals as well as prison, where he was tortured. Which all proves at least one thing pretty clearly—if you were making pop music in South Korea in the 1970s, you were a goddam hero.

But enough of that—let’s get down to the sounds of the Bunny Girls, shall we? Yes, sir we can boogie, after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Glass night lights of David Lynch, John Waters, Robert Smith, Sonic Youth and many more!
03.27.2017
08:56 am

Topics:
Movies
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
night light


David Lynch

I have a thing for night lights. Probably because they work. They make the dead of night less creepy and I never stub my toe in the dark. So I was pleasantly surprised to discover these handmade glass night lights by Etsy shop Hunky Dory Studio.

There are over 345 different night lights for sale on the Hunky Dory Studio Etsy page. I picked the ones I liked. If you don’t see anything you dig, I’m almost certain you’ll find something on their page. 

Each night light sells for $30.00.


Lou Reed
 

John Waters
 

Sonic Youth
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Acoustic KO’: Stooges classics stripped down by James Williamson and Radio Birdman’s Deniz Tek
03.27.2017
08:44 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
James Williamson
Stooges
Radio Birdman
Deniz Tek


 
Though he achieved his greatest notoriety as the founder of Australia’s punk progenitors Radio Birdman, Deniz Tek is a Detroit kid—no surprise, as guttural guitar ferocity like his has the Rust Belt written all over it. Radio Birdman were shot through with Detroit influences, specifically via the Stooges—their name came from a misheard Iggy lyric, and their rehearsal space/clubhouse was dubbed the Funhouse.

In later post-Birdman years, Tek would play in bands with ex-Stooges, like New Race with Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton, and the short-lived (exactly two gigs) and underdocumented Dodge Main, whose live lineup featured the MC5’s Wayne Kramer, Stooges’ Scott Asheton, Sonic’s Rendezvous Band’s Scott Morgan, and The UP!’s Gary Rasmussen, with Jimmy Zero of the Dead Boys.
 

 
Now Tek is releasing a four-song E.P. with later Stooges guitarist James Williamson, titled Acoustic K.O. a play on the title of Iggy and the Stooges’ live album Metallic K.O.. It features four Williamson compositions—“Penetration” and “I Need Somebody” from Raw Power, and “Night Theme” and “No Sense of Crime” from the 1977 Pop/Williamson album Kill City. The acoustic transformations are startling and quite effective. Per Williamson:

The songs of Acoustic K.O. are pearls from my youth, which are almost equally familiar to Deniz Tek from his. In fact the same could be said for the others on this record, to varying degrees. The process of recording them acoustically enhanced their luster with new clarity from re-interpretation. We love how it turned out.

He ain’t wrong—“I Need Somebody” seems a natural for an acoustic treatment, and the new version with Tek maintains the original’s menacing stomp. A more substantial transformation occurs on “Penetration,” but the E.P.’s real stunners are “No Sense of Crime,” on which Tek duets with Annie Hardy of Giant Drag, and “Night Theme”; the original on Kill City it’s a noisy-ish guitar theme-and-reprise suite that straddles the LP’s two sides, but here it’s a lush instrumental featuring a full orchestra.

It’s DM’s pleasure today to premiere the stream of the entire release…listen after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
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