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A super glam-looking Layne Staley performing with his high school band ‘Sleze’ in 1985
11:21 am


Alice in Chains
Layne Staley

Layne Staley attending the Shorewood Prom in 1986
Layne Staley, his amazing hair, and his date attending the Shorewood High School prom, 1986
Now here’s something you don’t see every day. The video below of Layne Staley (the late vocalist of Alice in Chains) performing with his band Sleze was shot in 1985 at Lakeside High in Seattle. It was one of many local high school gigs the band would perform, fully two years before Alice in Chains would come to be.

According to Johnny Bacolas, the founding member and guitar player of Sleze who uploaded the video, the band mostly stuck to playing cover versions of Slayer and Armored Saint songs. As a matter of fact, the video captures Staley looking rather glam in a ripped-up shirt and striped blazer, while banging out Armored Saint’s 1984 knuckle cracker, “False Alarm.” The drummer (James Bergstrom) is wearing dark lipstick and a choker, and the bass player (Chris Markham) is shirtless and wearing striped spandex pants and some sort of skirt made out of what looks like plastic. It’s first-rate, car-crashy heavy metal goodness.
Layne Staley on stage with Sleze 1985/1986
Layne Staley on stage with Sleze, 1985/1986
Sleze never played many clubs due to the then-recent passage of the notoriously awful Teen Dance Ordinance, which made it nearly impossible for clubs to accommodate underage clientele (the law was repealed in 2002), so most of Sleze’s gigs took place at local high schools. Despite the fact that Staley didn’t actually go to Lakeside (He went to Meadowdale in Lynwood, about fifteen miles away from Seattle), it’s still a pretty incredible snapshot into the past life of the greatest grunge-era vocalist ever.

How could this get any better? Maybe the fact that the name Armored Saint is spelled “Armoured Saint” on the bottom of the screen? How fucking adorable. Oh, high school…. how I miss being high in high school.

Full disclosure: The video sadly cuts off just as Sleze breaks into an excellent jam called “Burning Star,” a song recorded in 1984 by the Texas metal band Helstar. To make up for that, I included a quick clip of Staley and Sleze in action in the straight to Seattle Public Access TV cable movie, Father Rock. Also, the audio isn’t the best, but it’s still a must-watch.

Sleze performing “False Alarm” on June 4, 1985, at Lakeside High School in Seattle, Washington

Layne Staley and Sleze and their huge hair making their “acting” debut in Father Rock

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
The Muppets awesomely cover ‘Jungle Boogie’
10:29 am


The Muppets
Kool and the Gang

Not sure what the Muppets are promoting during this fine, sultry August week—maybe it’s just their bad selves.

But if you combine Kool and the Gang‘s classic funk jam “Jungle Boogie,” which was of course made extra super famous by Pulp Fiction, and make Sam the Eagle the cranky frontman, and you really can’t go wrong.

This was clearly the song Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem were put on this earth to play. Enjoy!


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Yo La Tengo have started a Spotify playlist of the songs they’ve covered
09:05 am


Yo La Tengo

It may be impossible, I suspect, to fully catalog every song that Yo La Tengo has covered. Between their legendary request sets during WFMU’s frequent telethons (call in and pledge a donation and they’d play, live on air and on-the-spot, whatever song you asked for) and their 12-year run of guest- and covers-heavy Hanukkah shows at the late lamented Hoboken venue Maxwell’s (so it’s clear: the Hanukkah shows were for all eight nights of the holiday), the number of covers they’ve done in their thirty-some-odd years of existence surely must run over a thousand.

And yet, the band has begun a Spotify playlist to collect, in once place, the songs they’ve covered. These are mostly the originals, not YLT’s versions, with the exception of their new version of the Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love” (we told you about that one not so long ago), so they’re limited by what’s even on Spotify to begin with, and they’ve got a long way to go. The list currently stands at only 56 songs. To illustrate how ridiculously short that falls of the band’s actual covers repertoire, the 2006 album Yo La Tengo is Murdering the Classics alone sports thirty covers, plus a medley of 8 more. Eleven of the sixteen songs on their classic album Fakebook are covers. And well over half of the forthcoming Stuff Like That There…. you get the point, right? So I’m assuming the playlist is a work in progress. By all means give it a listen and have fun cruising the series of tubes for YLT’s versions. It’s a worthwhile timesuck if you like rock music—you like rock music, right? Meantime, I’m going to a share few YLT covers that I consider essential but are absent from the list.

Their WFMU cover of Daniel Johnston’s “Speeding Motorcycle,” with Johnston himself literally phoning in the vocals, is still legendary after 25 years. It even got a painfully limited 7” release once. It’s easier to come by on the album Genius + Love = Yo La Tengo. Or you could just check it out right here.

A whole lot more music after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Mashing up the Commodores and the Cure is a shockingly good idea
07:04 am


The Cure
The Commodores

Who knew that Robert Smith would have made quite an effective Elton John/Billy Joel type in an alternate universe? I wonder how Billy Joel would fare if he were charged with belting out all the tunes from, say, The Head on the Door....

The second proposition will have to wait, but as for the first, we have some notion of what that might have sounded like, thanks to Daniel Barassi of BRAT Productions, who recently concocted the track “Easy Like Heaven,” which mashes up The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” and The Commodore’s “Easy.”

[Update: Reader Scott F. Griffin points out that this has been bouncing around for quite a while.]

via Sonic More Music
Thank you Fred Gunn!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Excerpts from the secret ‘autobiography’ David Bowie gave Cameron Crowe in the mid-‘70s: EXCLUSIVE
08:56 am


David Bowie
Rolling Stone
Cameron Crowe

Mid-1970s Bowie is my favorite Bowie. 1975-1976, living in the Los Feliz house of Glenn Hughes, bassist for Deep Purple. Bowie’s coked out and coked up, obsessed with the occult and given to paranoid delusions. Bowie consorting with witches. Bowie starring in Nicolas Roeg’s excellent The Man Who Fell to Earth and releasing Station to Station, perhaps his most scorchingly funky album and also, as it happens, my favorite of Bowie’s albums. These were the “Thin White Duke” years, as the first line of that album has it; whatever was possessing Bowie, to quote the same song, “It’s not the side effects of the cocaine / I’m thinking that it must be love.”

The primary chronicler of this period in Bowie’s life was unquestionably Cameron Crowe, whose youthful journalistic exploits for Rolling Stone were depicted, after a fashion, in Almost Famous. Not only did Crowe write a cover story on Bowie that appeared in the February 12, 1976 issue; he also interviewed Bowie for the September 1976 issue of Playboy, an interview that featured several remarkable statements, most prominently, that “yes, I believe very strongly in fascism.” Amazingly, Crowe was a teenager when all of this was happening—he turned 20 in July 1977.

If you are a David Bowie addict, it’s fairly likely you have read these lines, which appeared in Crowe’s 1976 feature on Bowie for Rolling Stone:

Bowie announces that he’s got a new project, his autobiography. “I’ve still not read an autobiography by a rock person that had the same degree of presumptuousness and arrogance that a rock & roll record used to have. So I’ve decided to write my autobiography as a way of life. It may be a series of books. I’m so incredibly methodical that I would be able to categorize each section and make it a bleedin’ encyclopedia. You know what I mean? David Bowie as the microcosm of all matter.”

If the first chapter is any indication, The Return of the Thin White Duke is more telling of Bowie’s “fragmented mind” than of his life story. It is a series of sketchy self-portraits and isolated incidents apparently strung together in random, probably cutout order. Despite David’s enthusiasm, one suspects it may never outlast his abbreviated attention span. But it’s a good idea. At 29, Bowie’s life is already perfect fodder for an autobiography.

The article in Rolling Stone also included an excerpt, in a box. It looked like this:

So Bowie gave Crowe a manuscript of some sort. What was in it? Has it ever been published in full?

This “first chapter” of The Return of the Thin White Duke clearly has never been published. I consulted ten book-length treatments of Bowie’s life and career (a list of these works can be found at the bottom of this post), and only 2 of them even bothered to mention it, and neither dwelled on it for very long. It’s abundantly clear that not many people know anything about this text.

Bowie: A Biography by Marc Spitz includes the following on page x of the introduction:

Bowie’s autobiography, purportedly entitled The Return of the Thin White Duke (after the opening lyric to the 1976 song “Station to Station”) has been rumored for years as well, but either the asking price is too high or it’s a bluff; or it’s really in the works, and like Bob Dylan’s Chronicles volume one, it will arrive when it’s the right time.

Meanwhile, in The Man Who Sold the World, Peter Doggett writes on page 285:

Much of The Man Who Fell to Earth was filmed in Albuquerque—the so-called Duke City, having been named for the Spanish duke of Albuquerque, Spain. And it was there that David Bowie, who was unmistakably thin, and white, began to write a book of short stories titled The Return of the Thin White Duke. It was, he explained, “partly autobiographical, mostly fiction, with a deal of magic in it.” Simultaneously, he was telling Cameron Crowe: “I’ve decided to write my autobiography as a way of life. It may be a series of books.” Or it might be a song—or, as printed in Rolling Stone magazine at the time, the briefest and most compressed of autobiographical fragments, which suggested he would have struggled to extend the entire narrative of his life beyond a thousand words.

In 2012 the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened its Library and Archives in Cleveland, Ohio, and one of the institution’s most intriguing holdings is the Rolling Stone Collection, which contains the editorial files, notes, work product, etc. for all issues starting in 1974 and stretching all the way to 1989. It’s a lot of super-interesting material to which all rock journalists should be paying attention.

The manuscript of chapter 1 of The Return of the Thin White Duke that Bowie gave to Crowe is in those files, and I’ve read it in its entirety.

Rolling Stone’s arrangement with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives does not permit visual reproduction of its work product, so it is not possible for Dangerous Minds to post the pages of this manuscript here. However, researchers are permitted to quote portions of items found in the Rolling Stone Collection—I was told that I am permitted to quote 10% of the manuscript as “fair use.” I’m going to do just that, in a minute.

When I first encountered this at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives, I excused myself from the archive (cellphones are not permitted in the room itself) and Googled a few choice phrases to see whether anyone else had ever published it. I came up with zero hits in all instances.

The manuscript is nine pages long, typewritten. What’s contained in the archive is a Xerox copy of the original; where the original is, I have not the slightest idea. On the top of the first page is typed, in allcaps, “THE RETURN OF THE THIN WHITE DUKE.” Underneath that, in someone’s handwriting—perhaps the author’s, perhaps Crowe’s—are the words “BY DAVID BOWIE.”

It is quite a remarkable document, with Bowie inserting often mundane impressions of the past into a grandiloquent, over-the-top sci-fi allegorical construct reminiscent of Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway or, indeed, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. (Just to give you an idea, the named characters in the manuscript include the “Thin White Duke,” the “Finder,” the “Fatal Father,” and “Magnauseum.” I think.) As for the more workaday parts, there’s a paragraph comparing the relative merits of chisel toes versus high pointers (these are types of shoe), with Bowie, in whatever fictive guise, preferring the chisel toe. Another longish passage is dedicated to the decisions involved in painting his home: “Deep blue was the color that I took to every dwelling,” starts Bowie on that subject.

The text is broken up into many, many shorter sections, most of which are just a paragraph or two long. For some reason Hebrew letters are used to distinguish the sections (ALEPH, BETH, GIMEL, DALETH, HE, VAU, ZAIN). In between the more prosaic bits that are apparently about Bowie’s own life are sections in which the Thin White Duke and possibly others—it’s not quite clear—present their verbose and overblown pronouncements about life and music and fame.

Oh, also? There’s a fair bit of sex in it. A couple of the passages are quite steamy.

Much, much more after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Honey, I Shrunk the Autobahn: Rick Moranis sings Kraftwerk
07:21 am


Rick Moranis

This is good fun, and it’s a damn shame it’s not more widely known—in 1989, comedic actor Rick Moranis released a Kraftwerk cover on his album You, Me, the Music and Me. Moranis became known in the ‘80s as Bob McKenzie in SCTV’s “Great White North” sketch and its feature film Strange Brew, as Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors, and for damn near movie-stealing supporting roles in Ghostbusters and Spaceballs. In the ‘90s he softened his image to suit the family-oriented Honey, I Shrunk [whatever] franchise before real-life family matters prompted his mid-decade retirement.

Despite having been released on the highly notable indie label IRS Records, the album just doesn’t exist anywhere anymore. For some reason, there was no CD issue despite the 1989 release date, and Spotify, iTunes, et al seem to have never heard of the thing. (I’d bet rent money Grooveshark had it, but sadly, that service and its founder are both gone now.) As of this posting there are zero copies for sale on Amazon, Discogs or MusicStack, so unless a copy happens to find its way into your hands on a digging expedition, the debut solo LP by a beloved performer is effectively unobtainable.

‘80s graphic design. Hey, it’s been 30 years, isn’t this style due for a revival?

And it’s kind of a bummer that the album seems to be such a total ghost. I’d like to check it out even just once, even though I don’t have the highest expectations for it. Moranis’ 1981 Great White North LP with Dave Thomas is one of the all time great comedy records, and there’s just no way You, Me, the Music and Me could measure up. Judging by the credits, Moranis seems to be assuming the guise of a DJ, commenting on various musical phenomena—already a played-out premise even then—as well as covering tunes like “A Day In The Life” and “Light My Fire.” Um, OK. Though very little of the album exists in Internetland, one thing that IS available is the “Ipanema Rap,” an ‘80s white-guy rap parody of “The Girl From Ipanema.” You’re groaning, aren’t you? You’re right to be groaning. It’s pretty awful. The video is worth a look, if only so you can marvel at how a video from 1989 looks so much like a video from 1981. IRS was apparently pretty tight-fisted with all that R.E.M. money.

But the album ends on a really high note—Moranis’ fairly reverent cover of Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn.” It’s only four minutes long, which is a mercy, it wouldn’t be very amusing for the full 22+ minutes of the original, but the material actually suits him quite well. The spoken bit at the end is clearly a part of the album’s DJ conceit, and can be ignored.

After the jump, Rick Moranis turns Japanese…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
NBC explains KISS to old people, 1977
06:56 am



From Kiss’s 1977 special edition Marvel comic. They said that drops of the band’s own blood had been mixed in with the ink.
Gimmicks get a bad rap, and the music snobs who supposedly abhor them tend to be very inconsistent in their denouncements. No one would talk shit on Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ manic voodoo schtick for example (unless, I guess, they’re just openly anti-fun). Likewise, “serious” music nerds love bands like The Spotniks, and “Swedish science fiction bluegrass surf” is about as “novelty act” as you can get. But mention KISS in a Pitchfork crowd and you will inevitably encounter at least one disdainful scoff—if not the entire room—but if you can’t appreciate a man in glam rock alien makeup vomiting blood onstage, I feel sorry for you. Take this 1977 NBC mini-doc—“Land Of Hype And Glory”—as your cautionary tale.

The piece starts with scenes from a carnival, which is actually a decent metaphor for the band (carnivals are fun! People love carnivals, and people love KISS!). But the narration goes for the P.T. Barnum angle—“there’s a sucker born every minute”—implying that KISS fans are somehow being swindled by enjoying a sensational live show. (Fun and entertainment? Whatta bunch of suckers!) The reporter goes on to ask the band if they’re “bludgeoning rock to death,” and interrogates Gene Simmons on KISS’ “less-than-average” music. Simmons is quick to point out that their songwriting is intended to be “accessible,” rather than “self-indulgent.” Intended as a denunciation of hype, the entire feature comes off as a besuited old man scolding a group of professional showmen who aren’t taking themselves too seriously.

You don’t have to be a fan, but KISS are dumb, loud and easy, and if you can’t appreciate that, you’re really missing something fundamental about rock ‘n’ roll. And now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to run away before I am pelted by Sleaford Mods and Brian Eno CDs…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
What if that Human League song were only ‘you were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar’?
01:39 pm


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)
01:30 pm


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
12:39 pm


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
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