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What if that Human League song were only ‘you were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar’?
07.30.2015
01:39 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Feminism
Music

Tags:
The Human League


 
File under “so dumb it’s genius.”

You Tuber svantana has reduced the lyrical content of Human League’s 1981 hit “Don’t You Want Me” to the catchiest and, perhaps, most thematically important line: “You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar.”

The gist of the entire song boils down to that anyway, right?

At 1:35 into the song Susan Ann Sulley takes up her half of the duet with Philip Oakey and responds “I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar, that much is true. I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar. I guess it’s just what I must do.”

What’s clearly important here is that both sides understand that the woman was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar.
 

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
The Rolling Stones at their worst is still better than most bands at their best (but not always)
07.30.2015
01:30 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Rollings Stones


A still from Kenneth Anger’s “Invocation of My Demon Brother

When reviewing the newest Blu-ray release from the Rolling Stone’s “From the Vault” concert series, one must take careful pains to point out that even when one is recommending it to the consumer, so should there be an extreme caveat issued: Hyde Park Live 1969 is not exactly the Stones at their in concert zenith. Not by a longshot. Never the tightest group live at the best of times, here the Stones sound like a ramshackle bar band covering their own songs.

Still, if you are a Stones freak—and even if this does happen to be a substandard performance, because that’s what it basically is—you have to have this one. It’s not like this show’s charms, or lack thereof, have ever been a secret, everyone knows that it was a bad performance, but this is also the highest quality that you’re ever going to see this show in, and I for one am glad to have that in the collection. It’s the definitive release of the Rolling Stones live in Hyde Park, 1969 (or as likely as we’re ever likely to get, this being the Granada TV “Stones in the Park” special and not the entire concert, which is annoying) and it seems like it was “kind of” mixed for 5.1, although the audio is somewhat of a moot point considering the ragged musicianship. It was $13. Hell, I’ve paid $20 for a shitty VHS bootleg of this show, so I’m happy to replace it.

But if it sounds like I’m damning Hyde Park Live 1969 with faint praise, well, I sort of am, and it does sorta suck, but at the same time, I’m glad to own it because it’s a somewhat essential historical document of the Rolling Stones, this being their inaugural outing with new guitarist Mick Taylor. The band had not played live onstage for a long time, they’d hardly had any time to rehearse with Taylor and they are… rusty, to put it kindly. In spots they rise to the occasion—like the extended “Sympathy for the Devil” with all the African drummers—but some of it just sounds like a bluesy catterwaul. (My wife asked “What the fuck is this? This is horrible.” When I told her it was the Stones, she scrunched up her face and said “It sounds like they’re a high school punk band.”)

Here’s a clip of “Satisfaction” from Hyde Park Live 1969 that’s actually not half bad:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
You know, this is—excuse me—a damn fine cover! The Joy Formidable revamps the ‘Twin Peaks’ theme
07.30.2015
12:39 pm

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Twin Peaks
The Joy Formidable


 
For over five years, Welsh trio the Joy Formidable have been making wonderful, headstrong records that combine hard-rock intensity with shoegaze’s dense trippiness. Wolf’s Law and The Big Roar are the easiest for American types to get ahold of, and if you dig bands like Curve, they’re probably well within your zone (but if I’m in the mood for this kind of thing, frankly I way prefer TJF over Curve). Just this afternoon, the band released a nicely reverbed-out cover of the Twin Peaks theme song, “Falling.” Between the series’ 25th anniversary taking place this year, and the announcement of new episodes coming in 2017, I suppose we should all brace ourselves for a LOT of this sort of thing coming up. The band told the essential Welcome to Twin Peaks blog:

“We had some time during the making of our new album to get excited that a new series of Twin Peaks is on the horizon,” the band told Welcome to Twin Peaks. “Here’s our tribute to that legendary series and it’s beautiful theme music by Angelo Badalamenti.”

They (or someone) also cobbled together a video compilation of scenes from the series. Which is at once quite nice and too bad—a performance video probably would have been a lot of fun.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
The Great DEVO Cat Listening Party of 2010
07.30.2015
11:26 am

Topics:
Amusing
Animals
Music

Tags:
cats
DEVO


 
In 2010, in order to promote its new album Something for Everybody, DEVO created a one-time-only “DEVO Cat Listening Party,” in which the band isolated a handful of kitties in “a specially constructed room” equipped with “an enormous blue Energy Dome scratching post.”

This event happened on June 15, 2010, at the Warner Bros. offices in Burbank, California. Songs from Something for Everybody were for about two hours while the cute kitties, provided by Jungle Exotics, frolicked and played their feline games to the socially incisive pop music.
 

 
Warner Bros. Records new media director Cara Heller stated, “We were told they like music, but we didn’t know how cats react to listening to music over long periods of time and we didn’t want to burn them out.”

The event was streamed continuously on a dedicated Ustream feed, and in fact if you go to that feed today you’ll find a 50-minute video documenting the event. It’s embedded below. Judging from the video, they also had a massive supply of blue energy domes to give away—I wish I owned one, I would have worn it while writing this…..
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
RIP Twinkle: Nearly forgotten 60s teen pop star, 1948-2015
07.30.2015
10:21 am

Topics:
Music
R.I.P.

Tags:
Jimmy Page
Twinkle


 

“I didn’t have an image made up for me by a publicity department. All you saw was what I was. I’m very rebellious, and I was terrible anxious to get in with the fast crowd.”

Some people we think of as being perpetually young, because that’s the sole image we have of them, so it was particularly jarring for me to read about the passing of “Twinkle” at the Ugly Things website over the weekend. She died a few months back, May 21 to be exact, of cancer.

Lynn “Twinkle” Ripley, better known simply as “Twinkle,” was a pretty, blonde, green-eyed teenaged pop star of mid-60s Britain who never really crossed over to U.S. popularity. Her father was a wealthy Tory MP and her older sister, Dawn James, was a well-connected music journalist.  She attended the same posh girls school as Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and the Redgrave sisters. She insisted from the age of six that she was going to be a pop star. Her biggest hit was “Terry,” a sappy, maudlin song she wrote herself. “Terry” tells the tale of an ill-fated motorcycle ride and slightly predates “Leader of the Pack” by the Shangri-Las. It’s sung like a very flat Leslie Gore. Twinkle was not blessed in the voice department, clearly.

“Terry” was not based on a true story, but the fact that it was written by teenaged girl (and not a male songwriter channeling one) makes it all the more charming. None other than Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page was a session musician on the track. The song reached #4 in the British record charts around Christmas of 1964 despite being banned from BBC radio airplay (and TV’s Ready, Steady, Go) because it was considered in “poor taste.” It’s kind of odd today to consider that when the song was banned, it was being called “sick” and “dangerous drivel” by Lord Ted Willis. Pirate station Radio Caroline continued to play the record.
 

 
Her next song, “Golden Lights,” about being the girlfriend of a pop star (she was, Dec Cluskey of The Bachelors was her then steady) was even better, but reached only #20 on the charts. (“Golden Lights” was later covered by The Smiths and is included in their Louder Than Bombs compilation).  Although she appeared on package tours with The Rolling Stones, Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders and Herman’s Hermits (Peter Noone became her boyfriend for a while), she never really made it and “retired” from the pop world before she turned 18. She later went on to write TV themes and commercial jingles for ATV Music, recording and performing sporadically throughout the decades. Her later life was primarily devoted to campaigning for animal-rights.

Below, a clip of her biggest hit, “Terry”:

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Two rare Joy Division tracks were just re-released, and you can hear them here
07.30.2015
09:14 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Joy Division
Love Will Tear Us Apart


 
Rhino Records recently did that thing they do very very well, and re-released Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures, Closer, Still, and Substance on 180 gram vinyl. My feelings are mixed on the recent flood of vinyl reissues of albums that have been widely available for decades, but the 2XLP reissue of Substance contains some items of interest that have never been featured on any release of that collection—a rare 7” b-side called “As You Said,” and the so-called “Pennine mix” of “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”
 

 
“As You Said” was released as a b-side to a flexi-disc of “Komakino” that was given away in The Öther Söund magazine. That flexi also included a version of “Incubation,” and all three tracks were outtakes from the Closer sessions, the band’s final studio recordings. It’s a significantly brighter mix than the version that can be heard on the Heart & Soul box set and the Warsaw CD, and it’s only ever been issued with this level of clarity as part of the preposterous Singles 1978-80, an ultra-limited box set of ten remastered 7"s. It’s a synth-based instrumental curiosity, likely of interest to the überfan who’s heard it all.

The Pennine version of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” was actually the rejected original recording of the song, recorded at Pennine Sound Studios in January of 1980 (the version with which we’re all much more familiar was recorded at Strawberry Studios in March). It was released as the b-side to the original 7” and 12” of “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” along with “These Days.” Some versions of the 7” dropped the Pennine recording of “LWTUA” and featured “These Days” alone. It saw a 1988 release on the “Atmosphere” 12” that accompanied the original release of Substance. In a 2010 GQ interview, JD’s drummer Stephen Morris cited this version as his preferred recording of “LWTUA:”

The Pennine version has always been there - it was on the b-side of the 12-inch when it first came out. But it wasn’t called “The Pennine Mix” or anything like that, it was just “Love Will Tear Us Apart” but a slightly different version. That version was the way we always played it live. The one that everybody knows, I actually hate.

Why, because it’s too poppy?
Just because of the bad, emotional things. Martin Hannett [Joy Division record producer] played one of his mind games when we were recording it - it sounds like he was a tyrant, but he wasn’t, he was nice. We had this one battle where it was nearly midnight and I said, “Is it all right if I go home, Martin - it’s been a long day?” And he said [whispers], “OK… you go home.” So I went back to the flat. Just got to sleep and the phone rings. “Martin wants you to come back and do the snare drum.” At four in the morning! I said, “What’s wrong with the snare drum!?” So every time I hear “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, I grit my teeth and remember myself shouting down the phone, “YOU BASTARD!” [smashes up imaginary phone.] I can feel the anger in it even now. It’s a great song and it’s great production, but I do get anguished every time I hear it.

 
Hear both songs after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘Robot Monster,’ Lux Interior’s favorite B movie, a bad movie for bad people
07.30.2015
06:44 am

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
The Cramps
Robot Monster


“At what point on the graph do ‘must’ and ‘cannot’ meet?”
 
KDOC, the Orange County station that broadcast Wally George’s The Hot Seat, was also home to a wonderful show with even lower production values than Wally’s called Request Video. After school, I would rush to the TV to watch Request Video, hoping to catch another glimpse of the Ramones.

The Cramps paid a visit to Request Video before one of their early 90s shows at the Hollywood Palladium, and their wide-ranging discussion with host Gia DeSantis touched on many things that are still of vital importance to your life, such as the size of Lux’s pumps, the band’s makeup tips, and Lux and Ivy’s favorite B movies. While Ivy picked the classic Gun Crazy, Lux named this appalling 1953 movie about a robot from the moon who looks like a gorilla wearing a diver’s helmet. Its mission, to exterminate all human beings on Earth, doesn’t sound like such a bad idea after you’ve spent a few minutes with the cast.
 

 
Lux expanded on his love for Robot Monster in a 1995 interview with Phoenix New Times:

“I’m interested in Jungian archetypes, what it is that makes people want to see movies about flying saucers and alien invasions. I’m interested why someone would write a film like Robot Monster [a notoriously bad Fifties piece featuring a monster that was essentially a gorilla with a deep-sea-diving helmet for a head]. And why a lot of people would write films that have so much in common—Robot Monster, Plan 9 From Outer Space, you name it, all those old horror movies.

“I think it has something to do with the collective unconscious. I feel like watching these films to be just like dream interpretations. When I see an old horror movie, it really strikes a chord in me, and it’s because I’m connected to the same thing that the person who wrote the movie is connected to.”

Lux pauses briefly, then provides a summation: “I think the reason I do things is a lot like the same reason Johnny Rotten did what he did, or the same reason Marcel Duchamp did the things he did. We’re all connected together in one aspect of consciousness.”

 

Ro-Man’s hideout in Griffith Park
 
Screenwriter Wyott Ordung talks about working on Robot Monster in the book 3-D Revolution: The History of Modern Stereoscopic Cinema. Though he doesn’t shed much light on Lux’s concerns, he does relate that the movie’s reception nearly proved fatal for him and director Phil Tucker:

When I went to see the picture, I was sitting in the Hollywood Paramount [theater]. It’s funny now—it wasn’t funny then—and as I’m walking out of the theater the manager of the popcorn stand says “We should skin the writer alive.” [...] The next thing I know Phil Tucker tried to commit suicide. There was a picture of him in the Los Angeles Mirror on the front page. He was lying there clutching the cans of film. Was it because of the film? I think he wanted publicity. That’s what I think. Young genius thinks he made a great picture for $45,000. People are not going to the movie and so on and he ended up in Camarillo [State Mental Hospital].

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Hear the Dead Kennedys as a five-piece with KEYBOARDS, play a Rolling Stones cover
07.30.2015
06:25 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Dead Kennedys
Screamers
Paul Roessler


 
I recently finished reading Michael Stewart Foley’s excellent 33 1/3 series book on the Dead Kennedys’ Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables album. 

Rather than merely analyzing recording minutae or picking apart lyrical content song-by-song, the book documents the socio-political climate of late ‘70s San Francisco, exploring the environment that existed which precipitated the need for a Dead Kennedys. It’s incidentally got me on a personal kick of revisiting a lot of DK music, particularly from that early, formative era—when Jello Biafra was writing songs instead of diatribes.

When I’m not wasting my time obsessively A/B-ing different pressings of Fresh Fruit to detect subtle differences in the mastering quality, I’m double checking to see what blessings the gods of the Internet have offered up as gap fillers in the Kennedys’ historical record. A few months ago I wrote here about an incredible 1982 live video from Vienna. Although the recording I’m presenting today is audio-only, it’s a far more interesting historical artifact than even that Vienna show (which totally blew me away). Today we’re going to listen to Terry Hammer’s recording of Dead Kennedys from Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco from June 14, 1980.
 

Dead Kennedys played with Paul Roessler’s band, Bent, and the Subhumans from Canada.
 
Terry Hammer was an audio engineer during the heyday of first wave punk in San Francisco. He maintains a mind-blowing YouTube channel upon which he has graciously decided to share dozens of live recordings he engineered for Bay Area radio stations KALX, KTIM, KSAN, KSJO, KUSF, and KSFS. The channel features no less than five different (crucial) Dead Kennedys recordings—all worth investigating.

I’ve previously gushed all over Dangerous Minds about Hammer’s recordings of DEVO and Husker Du. The quality of this recording exists somewhere in between those two, preserving, with remarkable clarity, this point in the Kennedys’ history where they were feeling more comfortable in their arrangements and picking up the tempos (but before going full hardcore with the replacement of original drummer, “Ted,” with D.H. Peligro).

But what’s really, truly astounding about this recording is the inclusion of Paul Roessler on keyboard for the final five songs of the gig. At twenty-eight and a half minutes in, Jello sardonically introduces Roessler (brother of Black Flag’s Kira Roessler) as the “Remora of Rock and Roll.” Roessler was known up to that point for his work with the Screamers, Nervous Gender, Mommymen, Bent, and Silver Chalice. Bent had opened for Dead Kennedys on that night’s bill.

“Torture those keys,” directs Biafra, and Roessler does, with distorted organ sounds blaring even more raw, jagged and cutting than East Bay Ray’s bright surf-overdrive guitar damage. Roessler performs on “Stealing People’s Mail,” “Drug Me,” “Holiday in Cambodia,” “Too Drunk to Fuck,” and a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “The Last Time.”

The keys are particularly effective on “Too Drunk To Fuck,” changing the entire vibe of the song, giving it a campy horror sound, not far from the early death rock of bands like 45 Grave (whom Roessler was also a member of).

Roessler had previously worked with Dead Kennedys, in the studio, where he played keyboard tracks on “Drug Me” and “Stealing People’s Mail” for the Fresh Fruit LP. According to Alex Ogg’s book Dead Kennedys: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables: The Early Years, “Stealing People’s Mail” was musically influenced by Roessler’s group the Screamers.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
‘Hype!’: The 1996 documentary that captured grunge’s explosive rise (and immediate co-optation)
07.29.2015
08:46 am

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
documentary
grunge
Hype


Vogue’s 1992 grunge feature, “Grunge & Glory,” becasue nothing says “grunge” like Naomi Campbell in Perry Ellis!
 
The “grunge speak” hoax of 1992 may be the greatest youth culture response to unwanted media hype in the history of “shut up, old man!” A reporter for The New York Times was working on a grunge story for its Style of the Times section—a little exposé on the scene’s hip, new slang. Trouble is, there really wasn’t such thing as a grunge slang, so when the Times contacted Sub Pop Records receptionist, she just made up a bunch of silly shit. The result was a comically ridiculous list of phony jargon titled “Lexicon of Grunge: Breaking the Code.” When Thomas Frank over at The Baffler pointed out that no one was calling anyone a “cob nobbler” or a “lamestain,” the Times was so miffed that they demanded Frank apologize before finally realizing they’d been had.

Like the grunge speak hoax, Hype! is a fascinating record of the grunge phenomenon, specifically because it’s about the tension between the scene and the media. The bands themselves tell the story (and I mean nearly all the bands—Mudhoney, Nirvana, Soundgarden, The Gits, The Melvins, Mono Men, Pearl Jam, 7 Year Bitch and a host of less famous acts), and though there is a genuine love for the Seattle scene and the community it produced, there is already a bitter awareness of grunge’s fate. Members of 7 Year Bitch point out the sexism of the coverage women in bands receive, Eddie Vedder expresses anguish over the immediate commercialization of the grunge phenomenon and the discomfort of living the shadow of Kurt Cobain looms large for many bands.

Far from the bitter, childish personas so often associated with angry young people and their guitars, the subjects of Hype! are thoughtful and clear-eyed, still professing a genuine love for the music and the organic nature of the scene, despite the obvious reality that Grunge has been thoroughly appropriated for mass consumption.
 

 
Via Network Awesome

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Cover versions: Debbie Harry stars in pulp romance novels based on Blondie songs
07.29.2015
07:08 am

Topics:
Art
Music
Punk

Tags:
Blondie
Debbie Harry

Debbie Harry faux pulp novel
“Rip Her to Shreds” faux pulp romance novel cover. Title taken from a song found on Blondie’s eponymous 1976 debut album

These clever faux pulp romance novels featuring Debbie Harry by Atlanta-based pop artist, Zteven are pretty much the best things I’ve seen this week. And I see a lot of cool stuff on a daily basis.

Not only did Zteven manage to portray Harry as one of the coolest salacious sirens to ever grace the cover of a smutty, old school pulp romance novel, he also incorporated the lyrics of songs from Blondie’s catalog in the titles and descriptions. There are even a few sly nods to Blondie co-founder and guitarist Chris Stein, as well as songwriter and producer Mike Chapman who worked with the group on their breakthrough 1978 record, Parallel Lines as well as Eat to the Beat (1979), Autoamerican (1980) and The Hunter (1982). The set of four prints, framed, will run you $40.
 
One Way or Another faux pulp novel with Debbie Harry
“One Way or Another” faux pulp romance novel cover. Title taken from a song that appears on 1978’s Parallel Lines
 
More Blondie cover versions after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
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