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Rock snob comedy: In the studio with David Bowie, Brian Eno and Tony Visconti, 1976
09.15.2014
02:21 pm

Topics:
Animation
Music

Tags:
David Bowie
Brian Eno
Tony Visconti


 
“Don’t you wonder sometimes…”

This latest animated installment of a “behind the scenes” moment in the life of David Bowie from British comic Adam Buxton is very fucking amusing. What really went on with the recording of Low‘s “Warszawa”? This fly-on-the-wall speculation of what transpired at the Château d’Hérouville studio during those sessions is probably, what, 90% accurate? 95%?

All voices by Adam Buxton (damn his Bowie is good!). The animation was produced by The Brothers McLeod. More Bowie animations (and more) at Adam Buxton’s YouTube channel.
 

 
Thank you kindly to the original rock snob himself, Steven Daly!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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University pep band slays Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Bulls on Parade’
09.15.2014
11:35 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Doc Nix
The Green Machine


 
You may have already seen this excellent video of The George Mason University pep band, Doc Nix and The Green Machine, practicing Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” / “Bulls on Parade.” They “kill” it. The video made the rounds back in 2011 with much deserved fanfare. It’s worthy of an encore performance, methinks.

What I didn’t know is how beloved bandleader Michael W. Nickens AKA Doc Nix is among the students at George Mason University and folks living in Washington D.C. and Virgina. People love him so much there’s actually bobblehead made after him.

After watching the video below, I can totally see why. Just watch him in action!


Doc Nix bobblehead.
 

 
via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Real Wild Child: Iggy Pop’s electrifying 1980s appearances on ‘Late Night with David Letterman’
09.15.2014
08:07 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Iggy Pop
David Letterman

Iggy Pop
 
“I like to mix the dirt with the music.” Iggy Pop on Late Night with David Letterman, 1988

Iggy Pop appeared on NBC’s Late Night with David Letterman three times in the 1980s, and they were all memorable TV events. Iggy is, of course, as only Iggy can be, giving uninhibited performances in which he dances wildly and alternates between turning his back on the audience and confronting them. These were totally thrilling talk show segments and worth staying up (or setting your VCR) for back in the day. The Ig was also a charming and quotable interviewee; he and Dave, on the surface, seem to be hugely mismatched individuals, but they have a surprisingly great rapport, likely finding an unsaid common ground in the their shared midwestern sensibilities.

Iggy continued to pop up on Late Night and has been seen frequently on the subsequent Late Show with David Letterman over the years. You can’t beat these 1980s appearances, but he’s always waaaay more entertaining than the average boob tube talk show guest. This is, after all, Iggy Fucking Pop!

“Eat or Be Eaten,” December 8th, 1982 (unfortunately, the interview portion isn’t online):
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Discussion
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Black Belles’ Olivia Jean did an Al Jolson song, and it’s big, garagey fun: A DM exclusive premiere
09.15.2014
06:38 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Jack White
Third Man
Olivia Jean
Black Belles


 
Since the Black Belles’ gained prominence on Jack White’s Third Man label a few years ago, singer/guitarist Olivia Jean has distinguished herself not just as that band’s front-person, but as a side player for the likes of White’s now ex-wife, model/singer Karen Elson, the great rockabilly pioneer Wanda Jackson, and Mr. White himself. (Age test: did “Mr. White” make you think of Reservoir Dogs or Breaking Bad?)
 

 
Given that Jean’s shown skill with pretty much every rock instrument, a solo album was probably inevitable. Produced by Jack White (also inevitable), it’s called Bathtub Love Killings. As it’s on Third Man, there will of course be a limited colored vinyl edition on top of the usual LP/CD/digital release. The first single is “Reminisce,” and DM is pleased to be debuting it for you today. Like any given Black Belles song, it owes a lot to garage rock and ‘60s girl groups, but to my surprise, it’s a good bit less dark in its tone than the work the Belles are known for. Judge for yourself below.

The non-LP b-side is a marvelous cover of “Toot Toot Tootsie,” a song made famous by Al Jolson (though an earlier version was recorded by Eddie Cantor) in the groundbreaking 1927 film Jazz Singer. The first ever feature film with synchronized sound dialogue and music, it basically killed off the silent film era. Before we all take to the comments, yes, I’m aware that Jolson was best known as a blackface performer, and that this is now recognized by reasonable people as racist and offensive. Accordingly, I’m sharing a Jazz Singer clip wherein Jolson sports his natural Jewface.
 

 
Here are those Olivia Jean tracks for your consideration. Both songs, by the way, are downloadable, via the graces of ScionAV. Bathtub Love Killings is due for release on October 14.
 

 

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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The Beatles get wild on untamed (and unreleased) outtake of ‘She’s a Woman,’ 1964
09.12.2014
11:14 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Beatles

Beatles picture sleeve
 
By October 1964, the Beatles were already veterans of the recording studio. When they entered Abbey Road to cut “She’s a Woman” they had released three albums and numerous singles. They had been working at a furious pace and dealing with incredible fame. Surely the Beatles were looking to cut loose.

Written primarily by Paul McCartney (years later, John Lennon remembered writing some of the words—maybe), “She’s a Woman” was recorded on October 8th, 1964. Take six of the song would be deemed best and came out in late November 1964 as the b-side to “I Feel Fine” in the UK, but in the US the sides were flipped, with “She’s a Woman” reaching #4 on the charts in the states.

Take seven was their last stab at the song. Possibly sensing this attempt wasn’t up to snuff, they might have looked at each other and figured: “Why not get crazy?” Maybe they were finally comfortable enough in the studio to goof around and blow off some much needed steam. Or were the Beatles just giddy over writing their first drug reference? Here’s John Lennon referring to the line “Turn me on when I get lonely” in a 1980 interview:

We were so excited to say ‘turn me on.’—you know, about marijuana and all that, using it as an expression.

Ten days later the band recorded “I Feel Fine,” with a happy accident leading to the use of guitar feedback as the song’s intro—widely regarded as the beginning of the Beatles experimenting in the studio. Perhaps the hair-raising joy heard at the conclusion of the final “She’s a Woman” is the moment when they gained the confidence to take a shared step into the abyss.
 

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Discussion
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There’s some doo-wop goin’ on:  Listen to Sly Stone’s racially integrated high school vocal group
09.12.2014
10:55 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Sly Stone
doo-wop


 
Last week we posted recordings of a nine-year-old Sly Stone performing with his family in a kiddie gospel group—a testament to the Family Stone’s raw talent to be sure. However Sly’s childhood musical ventures weren’t limited to projects of familial kinship. During his teenage years he was active as a singer and in quite a few bands. One was a high school doo-wop group called “The Viscaynes,” a nod to the Chevy Biscayne, with the “V” added in honor of their hometown of Vallejo, California.

As you can see, the group was an early model for Stone’s vision of a racially integrated band. The multi-racial line-up worked in their favor, and The Viscaynes enjoyed quite of a bit of regional success around the Bay Area, getting sent to LA by a small label to re-record their songs professionally, getting some radio play, playing school dances and local TV and doing backup for other groups’ recordings.

The tracks below, “You’ve Forgotten Me,” “Yellow Moon” and “Maybe I’m Wrong” (all from 1961) are just a sampling of a pretty expansive discography. They’re dreamy and yearning, featuring Sylvester Stewart’s voice to great effect, flush with youth.
 

 

 
More early Sly after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Beyond Good & Evil: The Pop Group’s Mark Stewart, the Dangerous Minds interview
09.12.2014
09:54 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
The Pop Group


 
The Pop Group is unequivocally back. After reuniting four years ago for festival shows and limited UK and European tours, the band’s singer Mark Stewart has told Dangerous Minds that their long-promised album of new material is at last being recorded this month, and that wider tours are in the works. This news comes fairly quickly on the heels of the announcement that the band is reissuing their 1980 album We Are Time and a rarities collection called Cabinet of Curiosities this autumn.

The Pop Group began in Bristol, UK, in 1978, and established a niche all to themselves with an unabashedly abrasive ruckus of No Wave and free jazz noise, punk’s ethos of confrontation, and a rhythm section devoted to dub and straight-up funk. Atop all that, singer Stewart chanted far-left declamations in a voice that lurched without warning from warble to shriek. The effect of this melee could be caustic, disorienting, and exhilarating. The band became influential despite its volatility, and in 1981, it fractured, jettisoning its members into the bands Rip Rig + Panic, Glaxo Babies/Maximum Joy, Pigbag, and the Slits. For his part, Stewart has recorded solo and with his band the Maffia. The Pop Group’s albums Y, For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder, and We Are Time have, in the USA, at least, been only intermittently available and sometimes ridiculously expensive to obtain, so the news of impending reissues is most welcome. Because it’s 2014 and this is how it’s done now, there’s a pledge drive afoot for the releases, and some of the premiums are mighty cool. (I’m pretty sorely tempted by the Signed Ultimate Boxset Bundle.)

Earlier this week, Mark Stewart was kind enough to talk to DM at length about the band’s origins and future plans.
 

 
DM: Just this morning, I came across a news item that references The Pop Group, and I was wondering if you were aware of it— the Washington Post was reporting on a corrupt politician, and they posted a video of “We Are All Prostitutes.”

Mark Stewart: Yeah. I haven’t had a chance to check out all the details of the story yet, but a very important confidante of mine, who writes books about conspiracies in politics, says it’s the most important story the Washington Post has run since Watergate, is that true?

Possibly. The ex-governor of Virginia and his wife have been convicted of fraud and selling access. It’s pretty huge. He was a presidential hopeful once, and now this blatant corruption comes to light. But I wondered if you were aware of the Post using your song in that context, and whether you think that speaks to the Pop Group’s continued relevance?

The lyrics to that song are timeless. The second real album that we made, For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?, was a bit more time-sensitive. It was talking about things that were happening in real time in Indonesia, and coups that were happening with ITT and Allende in Chile, things that were happening in Cambodia. That was more a real time, newspapery kind of album. But the other stuff, like “We Are All Prostitutes” and Y and the stuff we’re re-releasing now, it’s weird, because for me, I’m looking at it that way as much as you, because it’s like listening to something that’s out there now.

It’s quite bizarre. Me and [Pop Group guitarist] Gareth Sager, we spent two years going through, trying to find the best stuff from that period—and I’m a fan, I’ve realized recently, with all the music I’ve made, I’m making it for myself because I have an idea of what I’d like to hear. Like mashing up a free-jazz saxophone against a funk beat with Arabic wailing or something, I’m doing it for myself, because I’m only hearing those things in my head, and making things up like a little kid, and I just want to make those things. I’m having to analyze this stuff and see it again and it’s weird. But the We Are Time album sounds like new bands I’m hearing out of London now.
 

 

 
Well in terms of the songs’ political content, over the last thirty years, I’m not sure so much has changed or gotten better…

Hold on! You’re like my girlfriend! I think a lot has got better! Are you a pessimist?

Ha, maybe! Some things have gotten better on the social front, sure, but in terms of the oligarchs’ takeover? At least in the United States, oh my GOD, they are winning.

Yes. And, as far as I can see some of the battles in the Middle East are between different factions in America, like an American proxy war going on there, oil companies acting like medieval dynasties, it’s bizarre. And they’re backing jealous militias.

So are you an optimist, then? What do you see getting better?

Generally I think people across the world are genuinely more aware. Right now I’m in this fishing village, and the guy who lives in a shed at the bottom of the garden knows as much about the world as I did in 1979. There’s access to more media, and people, as far as I can see, are seeing through the illusion. Back in the day they used to think politicians were correct, and they’d tip their caps in a kind of regal way. People are kind of owning and feeling the responsibility and making the connections, that the things that are happening aren’t so far away. There’s blowback, and the actions we make in everyday life are a result of these actions across the world, funding our avarice.

It’s easier to put these ideas into songs!

More with Mark Stewart after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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‘Beach Ball’: Having a beach party with Scott Walker, 1965
09.12.2014
07:10 am

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
Scott Walker
Walker Brothers


 
When you listen to Scott Walker, do you think “beach party”? No? Well, long before “The Electrician,” before “The Plague,” even before “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore,” the Walker Brothers appeared in the drive-in movie Beach Ball (1965), starring Edd “Kookie” Byrnes of 77 Sunset Strip.
 

Scott Walker sings “Doin’ the Jerk” in Beach Ball
 
Even by the standards of the beach party genre, Beach Ball is pretty bad, though it’s considerably enlivened by the musical guests. The Supremes, the Four Seasons, the Righteous Brothers, and the surf band the Hondells (whose every song endorsed Hondas) all take higher billing than the Walkers, who had as yet no hits to their name.

The Walkers play one of Scott’s first compositions, “Doin’ the Jerk,” a tribute to the dance craze of 1964. Because their performance at the movie’s climactic rock ‘n’ roll/hot rod festival is intercut with a car chase, “Doin’ the Jerk” stretches over six minutes of film. Scott Walker-loving hodads like me will want to skip directly to 1:06:40, though I wish the best of luck to those brave souls who settle in for the whole thing.

Jazz those glassy sets!
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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Ella Fitzgerald’s totally swingin’ cover of Cream’s ‘Sunshine of Your Love’
09.11.2014
06:10 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
jazz
Cream
Ella Fitzgerald


 
In one of those often unitentionally goofy attempts of an older, established artist trying to be hep with the young cats and kittens, the great Ella Fitzgerald recorded a live set in 1969 with Ernie Hecksher’s Big Band and the Tommy Flanagan Trio in San Francisco where she mixed some pop standards of the day with some perhaps more avant garde choices. Well, at least one…

It’s fairly innocuous stuff for the most part (Bacharch and David, Lennon McCartney) but who would have expected the First Lady of Song to cover Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love”? And yet cover it she did. It’s not too bad, either. In fact, Fitzgerald made it the album’s title and a part of her live act for a while, even performing this improbable number during her concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival that year:
 

 
Thank you kindly Michael Simmons!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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The Who’s ‘Quadrophenia’ gets an impressive sonic make-o’er
09.11.2014
03:17 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Who


 
I wouldn’t describe myself as the biggest Who fan.  Although I do own nearly all of their albums recorded while Keith Moon was still among the living, the only ones I ever pull out with any regularity are The Who Sell Out or the Tommy soundtrack, which I think is a freaking masterpiece although conversely, I detest the original.

I like them fine, but I don’t really care that much about them. The one classic Who album I have never even heard, however, is Quadrophenia. The only song I knew from it, until recently, was the album’s magnificent closer “Love Reign O’er Me” which was big on FM radio when I was a kid.

I’ve never seen the film, either. Sting is in it. I don’t think I have to elaborate further there, do I?

I’m telling you all of this, not because I want to parade my ignorance of The Who or of Quadrophenia in particular before tens of thousands of readers, that’s not my goal. What I am intending to impart, though, is that I am hearing the album with fresh ears, for the very first time in September of 2014 and in the form of the newly released 5.1 surround Blu-ray put out by the Universal Music Group.

I won’t offer my opinion on the music therein, because who honestly gives a damn what I think? It’s considered a classic album. Case closed. Suffice to say, I had a terrific listening experience and I played it three times start to finish in a 24 hour period and I have to say, wow, I really loved it. Best Who album. They always seemed like a “greatest hits” band to me, but this is a truly great album and it blew my doors off, bigtime. I consider myself lucky to hear something “new” like this.

What I do wish to discuss, however, is what an amazingly high tech product this audiophile toy is. The only real information that’s important, if you care about this album is the answer to this question: “I already own this, do I really need to buy it again or not?” Right? Well, admittedly as someone who has never owned Quadrophenia before, I would say the answer is probably yes. It is done very well, to the highest specifications and produced by Pete Townshend himself.

And it’s not like you’d be merely swapping one CD for another. On the back cover it reads:

“The 96kHz 24-bit audio on this disc has 256 times more resolution than a CD, providing greater detail and reproducing the music’s full dynamic range, from the softest to the loudest sounds.”

People will argue endlessly about whether or not the human ear can detect the difference between a 320 kbps MP3 and a wav file or redbook CD, but those same people would notice it immediately if you took away their 1080p HDTV flatscreen and replaced it with a top of the line SONY Trinitron from 1999. If you’re one of those people who are fine with Spotify or iTunes or carrying around your portable AM radio rubberbanded to your ear, this post is not for you.

So many people have their living rooms wired for 5.1 surround sound to watch movies, but even here in LA where you think people would be hipper to this kind of thing, most people really aren’t. You’d think the mighty behemoth-like Amoeba Records would have the best “Pure Audio” Blu-ray section in the entire country. They do not. Really, unless you’re buying something similar to it already on Amazon, it’s getting harder and harder to even find out that this stuff exists. Many cities don’t even have a single decent record store anymore. You can’t just bump into something that looks interesting like in ye olden days. “Browsing” for digital content housed on shiny little discs isn’t done much anymore as a human sport. The music industry did a really shitty job of selling the SACD and DVD-A formats to the public. So far it’s doing marginally better with the 5.1 surround sound stuff on Blu-ray, but sales I’d imagine are 95% Amazon transactions. I’m a big fan of 5.1 surround material and when it’s done this well and is this exciting for me personally to experience, I feel like, well, telling people about. It’s my duty. If you came to my house, I’d get you stoned and sit you down in the “sweet spot” and play this for you.

This new Quadrophenia has one of the best surround mixes I’ve heard in some time. It always annoys me when there’s a conservative approach to reimagining a classic album in surround sound, where it’s sort of like a bastardized stereo and the rear speakers are providing “echo.” This isn’t a conservative mix, it’s one that completely envelopes you like the seaside mist of a British coastal town. When it wants to be, it’s powerful and bombastic, like a thunderstorm, or by turns quiet and dynamic. There is a lot of space around each instrument. It’s not overly gimmicky, either, never calling attention to itself, even as it wows you. The “tone” of Townshend’s guitar has never sounded quite as “immediate” as it does here. Moon’s characteristic flamboyant drum fills are wisely not confined to front or back speakers, giving the listener a visceral experience of his octopus-armed pounding. It’s very, very impressive (and please do keep in mind that I’m the same guy who started this review off by telling you how blasé I am about The Who).

The UMe “Pure Audio” Blu-ray of Quadrophenia has a list price of $26 but many Amazon merchants offer it for around $15. Forget about the whole “I already own this” factor, because you don’t own this version of it and it’s damned good. There’s a gallery of photos from the original Quadrophenia booklet that runs as a really gorgeous slide show and then repeats itself about about 15 minutes. There is also a flat transfer of the original master tape, but I have to say, listening to it folded down into stereo (that’s my perspective, at least) makes it sound terribly flat. If you’re already a fan of this album, it would go the other way—opening up like a 5.1 flower—and as I have been saying, the experience is a pretty spectacular one for audiophile music lovers.

My sole criticism is that there isn’t enough bass in the mix, but you can simply turn up your subwoofer if you want to hear more of “The Ox.” Otherwise, I can’t recommend this highly enough. 10/10. The Amazon reviewers seem to agree.

I’m still not planning to see the film though. Sting is in it.

After the jump Darren Lock shares his opinion of the new 5.1 Blu-ray of Quadrophenia…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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