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Anarchy in Paris: Métal Urbain, classic French punk rock group
08.26.2014
09:39 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
France
Métal Urbain


 
Métal Urbain were Francophone contemporaries of the Sex Pistols and The Clash. Formed in 1976 by Clode Panik, Hermann Schwartz, Pat Luger and Eric Debris, the French punk rock group’s harsh and noisy sound replaced the rhythm section with a synthesizer and drum machine. Sonically, they came across as aggressive—if not more so—as their English or American counterparts with the exception of maybe Suicide or The Screamers. Lead singer Clode Panik sounds a bit like a French version of The Fall’s Mark E. Smith.

The group’s second single, “Paris Maquis” was Rough Trade’s very first record release and John Peel showed his support on his BBC 1 Radio show, going so far as to record a “Peel Session” with them. Sadly they never really made it and broke up in 1979 as there was no appreciable French punk scene to begin with and the media in their home country just couldn’t be bothered with them. Métal Urbain’s distinctively raw guitar sound is said to have had an influence on Big Black’s Steve Albini and The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Métal Urbain reformed in 2003 and toured the US. The New York-based Acute label compiled Anarchy in Paris! that year gathering up their complete output during the life of the band with a few outtakes and alternate versions. In 2006, Jello Biafra produced their album, J’irai chier dans ton vomi, in San Francisco. An EP followed in 2008.

Below, Métal Urbain lip-synching “Paris Maquis” on French TV in 1978:

 
More Métal Urbain after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Here are the Young Men’: Classic Joy Division live footage, 1979-1980
08.26.2014
10:19 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Joy Division


 
While you won’t find many people questioning the aesthetic merit of Joy Division’s music, it’s also hard to argue that the tragic suicide of singer Ian Curtis didn’t contribute mightily to the band’s enduring allure. But there was another component that nurtured JD’s mystique—scarcity. All a fan in the US could readily get without paying a hefty import premium were Unknown Pleasures, Closer, and the iffy, posthumous, blood-from-a-stone compilation Still. A lot of single and EP tracks were difficult to come by here until the Substance compilation arrived in 1988. The Heart & Soul set eliminated a lot of scarcity issues as regards JD material, but that didn’t arrive until the late ‘90s.

Resorting to bootlegs wasn’t such a great option, as a hell of a lot of JD boots sounded like total garbage. I remember when a much sought-after Italian JD bootleg called Dante’s Inferno turned up in a record shop I frequented, when I was 17. I snatched that thing up fast and excitedly brought it home to play it, only to find that the music was barely audible. Was I pissed off? OH YES, I was pissed off.
 

 
Concert videos were even slimmer pickings. While today, between DVD and YouTube there’s plentiful Joy Division vid easily available, in the ‘80s pretty much the only JD concert footage available through legitimate channels was the Factory release Here Are the Young Men. Inexplicably, it’s never been released on DVD (except by pirates), but if you’re the gotta-own-it type, old VHS copies are priced within reach of mere mortals. The video’s title is borrowed from the lyrics of the song “Decades,” and the video is compiled from footage shot at three shows—the Manchester Apollo on October 28 and 29, 1979, and at Effenaar in Eindhoven, Netherlands, on January 18, 1980. Included at the end, but not included in the track listing on the box, was the music video the band produced for the single “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”
 

 
Since this was pretty primitive looking stuff in the first place, worrying about finding the “best” version on YouTube would have been quixotic, and anyway, I kind of like the rawness of this. As mushy as it looks and sounds, a lot of these performances are face-melters, particularly the stuff from the Dutch show. I selected this version because a few of the band’s BBC television appearances are tacked onto the end. Enjoy.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Satan’s Stomp: The Flesh Eaters’ ‘A Minute To Pray, A Second to Die’
08.25.2014
05:06 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
The Flesh Eaters
Chris D.


 
The Flesh Eaters’ A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die album was one of the musical highlights of 1981—and certainly of the entire Los Angeles punk era—but outside of Southern California, or major cities, it wasn’t an easy record to find out about, let alone stumble across.

For A Minute To Pray, head Flesh Eater Chris Desjardins, aka Chris D., an aspiring filmmaker and writer for Slash magazine, assembled a “super group” from the LA punk scene: Dave Alvin (Blasters) on guitar, John Doe (X) on bass, Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) on sax, with Bill Bateman (Blasters) on drums and DJ Bonebrake (X) on the marimba. The group, unshackled from their “day job” bands, writes noted music maven Byron Coley in his liner notes, “all played like fucking maniacs.” (Coley also calls A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die “the best rock record ever recorded.” Whether or not this is objectively true, I’ll leave for you to decide, but hey, just having Byron Coley declare your record “the best” ever recorded is one hell of a compliment, isn’t it? The man is known for having exceptionally good taste.)

There is a dark, disturbing voodoo underpinning the album’s vision. Chris D.‘s lyrics were unique; he means to make you uncomfortable producing highly literate, yet grotesque noir poetry that went light years beyond anything Lou Reed would ever have had the guts to write about. Gothic, decadent, but in the sense of a completely bonkers, high IQ serial killer cooking up his heroin in a spoonful of absinthe. Jim Thompson meets Baudelaire at a bloody crime scene on Dia de los Muertos.


The Flesh Eaters, 1981. Photo by David Arnoff
 
Describing music in words (especially something this far out on a limb, esthetically speaking) is tricky sometimes, like asking a painter to make a sketch of a novel, but suffice to say that what we have here is a sonic maelstrom of fear and loathing, a ragged, jagged seedy sounding… I mean, the opening song sounds like a steampunk version of Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band fronted by an erudite Darby Crash. The squealing, skronky sax and pounding percussion—that marimba!!!—are striking indeed, as are the lunging, tug of war bluesy tribal rhythms. And that voice. If the lyrical preoccupations weren’t already scary enough, the spitting, crazed delivery of them will send chills down your spine. Rock scribe Richard Meltzer memorably described Desjardins’ voice as “a fully realized blabbermouth lockjaw of the soul, which you gotta admit is kinda neat.” Yeah!

Recently the ace archival label Superior Viaduct put out the first vinyl pressing of A Minute to Pray since 1981 and a newly remastered CD. I had not actually listened to the album since it came out and when the CD arrived in the post, I played it immediately. And then I played it again. And again. And again. I think I played it seven or eight times in a row that day. The next day a friend of mine came over and within about five seconds of hearing the opening whispers of “Digging My Grave”—I didn’t mention what it was—he exclaimed “I fucking love this album. I haven’t heard it… well, since I moved to LA. Saw ‘em live then, too!”

Lucky bastard. I caught up with Chris D. via email:

Missing children. Dogs licking up blood. Violent death. These were fairly novel things to sing about 33 years ago—and still are!—but your vocal delivery—so unhinged—is what sealed A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die as an authentic—albeit mutant—blues. The music is powerful and sleazy, but you just sound fucking insane. My first question is ‘so what sort of a fella were you back then, Chris?’

Well, I wasn’t crazy although I sometimes felt on the verge. I was a nice guy trying to exorcise demons, mostly relating to my love life. Much of the imagery was from films (the “dogs are licking up blood” and “squeeze out your milk on the baby’s grave” in the “Pray Til You Sweat” song were images from Eisenstein’s unfinished documentary, Que Viva Mexico.) Other lyrical influences are too numerous to mention, particularly from film, though literary giants like Poe, French symbolists like Lautreamont, Huysman, Baudelaire and pulp fiction maestros like Jim Thompson and James Cain were inspirations. There were televangelists on a local LA station that held up on camera the Minute to Pray LP cover along with some Ozzy Osbourne albums, using them as examples of satanic rock. Minute to Pray was never meant to be satanic. In fact, it was a symbolic exorcism.

How did the “supergroup” form and under what circumstances?

I got the brainstorm that it would be great to put these musician friends of mine, friends who had similar musical tastes to me, all into one group where we would try to synthesize a variety of both ethnic folk music traditions (African rhythms and chant melodies) with American pop/folk genres like 1950s/1960s swamp blues, instrumental rock & soul and late 1970s punk. Fortunately everyone brought their unique brand of aesthetics to the table, and everything blended seamlessly into an amazing hybrid.

What were rehearsals like?

A lot of fun, but very efficient because everyone intuitively knew what they needed to do to make their parts fit. I think we only rehearsed 8 or 9 times before we started recording. And we recorded everything, including the overdubs, in one night (some of the first take rough vocals were kept, though I don’t remember which ones). Mixing took about a week.

You played just a handful of gigs with the A Minute to Pray line-up, for the obvious reason that everyone else had their own bands. Was there anything particularly memorable about those shows?

They were all exhilarating. Not to disrespect any of the other great musicians I’ve played with, but it was phenomenal as these guys each brought something unique to the table, and there was a synchronicity to it all that we really didn’t have to work at. We were all on the same wavelength. My only lament is it is very difficult getting everyone together for reunion shows. We did 3 in California and 1 in the UK in 2006 – The first time since 1981. We’ve been talking about trying to do a few shows on the west coast in January 2015, so hopefully those will happen. On a side note, my ex-wife and co-lead vocalist in my other band Divine Horsemen, Julie Christensen, and I have been talking about possibly doing some Divine Horsemen reunion shows as well.

A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die is a seminal album, but not one that a whole lot of people have actually heard. It was never all that easy to hear back in the day—I for instance, taped it from a friend’s record—so for many people, this new re-release from Superior Viaduct will be their introduction to this 33-year-old album. Aren’t many more people likely to hear A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die in 2014 than heard it when it first came out?

That was always the case with records released by Ruby Records (Slash Records “budget” subsidiary). A Minute to Pray has actually been reissued on CD twice by Slash in the early-to-mid 1990s and then twice again by Rhino/WEA in the early 2000s, but then you would never know it because they did virtually no promotion (especially Rhino/WEA) and I don’t think they sold very well. The fans, they search that stuff out. But finding a new audience, it’s been hard. Superior Viaduct is doing a superior job (sub-licensing from Rhino) – this is the first time it’s been reissued on vinyl and the first time the CD actually has liner notes.  They also have a genuinely great publicist working the release, and hopefully this will also be the case with the follow-up LP Forever Came Today by the Flesh Eaters from 1982, when it is reissued by them on vinyl, and out on CD for first time ever, early in 2015. That one is, I think, just as good as A Minute to Pray and much less well-known. So I’m hopeful a younger audience will rediscover both!

The vision on A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die is a dark one, but it was recorded a lifetime ago. How do you relate to those lyrical preoccupations today?

A lot of those preoccupations are still the same but I’ve achieved some transcendence and letting go of anger that I did not have back in 1981. Still the last year has not been a happy one and coincidentally, for the same time period, I’ve had writer’s block, which is devastating when writing is one of the ways I exorcise the demons. Between 2009 - 2013 I published 5 novels, 1 short story collection and a huge non-fiction volume Gun and Sword about Japanese yakuza films. But since around this time last year – as far as writing – nada. I’ve actually tried to write some song lyrics in the last couple of months but feel just so-so about the results.

I recently heard a hipster DJ—someone with very carefully sculpted sideburns and facial hair, you know the type—mash-up “Cyrano De Berger’s Back” with “Tenth Ave. Freeze Out.” Care to comment on this?

I didn’t even know what “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” was until I looked it up on YouTube! Not a Springsteen fan so I think I’ll let it go at that.

I can’t let you go without asking what are some of your favorite things that would go into an updated “Chris D.’s Video Guide” feature?

Oh, jeez, there is so much stuff. For folks inclined towards a really detailed answer, they can pick up my anthology book, also titled A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die [Highly recommended—RM] , off Amazon which not only has all my lyrics and poetry but also a listing (in the last 5 or 6 pages) of somewhere between 400-500 movie titles, with release dates and directors, that are recommended. As far as watching stuff at home lately,  I’ve recently revisited some noir like Out of the Past, On Dangerous Ground, They Live by Night, David Lynch films Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and Mulholland Drive, Elio Petri’s Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion and A Quiet Place in the Country, Friedkin’s Sorcerer, any samurai films directed by Hideo Gosha. Some stuff I caught in the theaters in the last few years that made an impression: Rust and Bone, A Place Beyond the Pines, Drive, Only God Forgives, Out of the Furnace, Cold in July and The Rover.

Chris D.‘s novels, Dragon Wheel Splendor and Other Love Stories of Violence and Dread, No Evil Star, Shallow Water: A Southern Gothic Noir Western and Mother’s Worry, along with his Japanese gangster encyclopedia Gun and Sword, are all available from Amazon.
 

 
The A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die line-up (Chris D., John Doe, Dave Alvin, Bill Bateman, Steve Berlin, D.J. Bonebrake) live at The Whisky a Go Go in 1981. The Gun Club (Chrs D. co-produced their Fire of Love album) were the opening act that night:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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California Dreamin’: Listen to The Mamas & the Papas’ acapella vocals
08.25.2014
07:34 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Mamas and the Papas
Barry McGuire


 
“California Dreamin’” was literally written about a dream of California, and it was somewhat of a prophetic dream at that. At the time of its composition in 1963, future Papa John Phillips and future Mama Michelle were a part of Manhattan’s folk scene as members of “The New Journeymen,” but in his dreams the West coast beckoned. He awoke his young wife to help him write the song.

In 1965 Barry McGuire, formerly of the New Christy Minstrels (a group that also launched the careers of Kenny Rogers, The Association’s guitarist Larry Ramos, Byrd Gene Clark and Kim Carnes) introduced Phillips to Lou Adler of Dunhill Records, who promptly signed The Mamas & the Papas. That year McGuire had a massive hit single with “Eve of Destruction” and to repay the favor, the group let him record “California Dreamin’” for his This Precious Time album and performed the backing vocals, before using the same vocal and instrumental tracks for their own version. Denny Doherty’s lead vocal, an alto flute solo by Bud Shank and P. F. Sloan’s guitar introduction were added to complete this immortal pop classic.
 

 
Dunhill Records decided to release the number as The Mamas & the Papas’ second single in December holding off on McGuire’s version so there wouldn’t be competition from an established artist (and in turn allowing The 5th Dimension to score a hit single with an almost note-for-note cover of “Go Where You Want to Go,” after the group’s version failed to chart and was ostensibly pulled). “California Dreamin’” reached #4 in the US record charts in March after a February appearance on ABC’s American Bandstand.

McGuire was named-checked (for “gettin’ higher” with Roger McGuinn of The Byrds) in their autobiographical song “Creeque Alley,” about the group’s early years. The song ends with the line “And California Dreamin’ is becoming a reality.”
 

 
Michelle Phillips and Mama Cass’s backing vocals, along with McGuire’s totally wrong lead vocal and a harmonica solo where you’d expect to hear Bud Shank’s flute:

 
The instrumental backing track, McGuire’s original vocal was not completely wiped and can be heard briefly on the left channel at the beginning. That’s Hal Blaine on drums, Larry Knechtel on keyboards and Joe Osborn on bass guitar. Papa John played 12-string guitar and the session was engineered by Bones Howe:

 
A strange semi-lip synced television performance:

 
BONUS: “Monday, Monday” with filtered backing vocals:

 
Hat tip to Dangerous Minds pal Chris Campion, who is presently writing the authorized biography of John Phillips

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Wow’: Milli Vanilli, the opera
08.22.2014
07:11 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
opera
Milli Vanilli


 
Opera is renowned for its receptivity to the most intensely dramatic moments, which may be why there has lately been something of a trend in the world of modern opera to turn to celebrity headlines and reality TV for fodder—witness the mid-2000s phenomenon of Jerry Springer: The Opera as well as the more recent opera Anna Nicole, about the curtailed life of former Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith, which had its U.S. premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last September. (At the New York City debut of Jerry Springer: The Opera at Carnegie Hall in 2008, Harvey Keitel played the role of Jerry Springer—I sure wish I had seen that.) Last November DM reported on the existence of a Toronto production of Rob Ford: The Opera.

So it may not be so terribly surprising that the brief and controversial career of Milli Vanilli would eventually become the inspiration for a serious opera. To recap for the uninitiated, Milli Vanilli consisted of Robert Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan, who under the guidance of producer Frank Farian became a German R&B pop duo responsible for several hits, most particularly “Girl You Know It’s True.” “Rob and Fab” didn’t have the best command of English, which prompted some observers to wonder about their verbal fluency on their songs.
 

 
As Wikipedia tells it,
 

The first public sign that the group was lip-synching came on July 21, 1989 during a live performance on MTV at the Lake Compounce theme park in Bristol, Connecticut. As they performed onstage live in front of an audience, the recording of the song “Girl You Know It’s True” played and began to skip, repeating the partial line “Girl, you know it’s…” over and over on the speakers. They continued to pretend to sing and dance onstage for a few more moments, then they both ran offstage. According to the episode of VH1’s Behind the Music which profiled Milli Vanilli, Downtown Julie Brown stated that fans attending the concert seemed neither to care nor even to notice, and the concert continued as if nothing unusual had happened. In a March 1990 issue of Time magazine, Pilatus was quoted proclaiming himself to be “the new Elvis”, reasoning that by the duo’s success they were musically more talented than Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger.

 
That last sentence is a doozy, illustrating the perceived need for the comeuppance Milli Vanilli would soon receive. Curiously, it would take more than a year for the ramifications of that lip-synch incident to become clear. In February 1990, Milli Vanilli was awarded the Grammy for Best New Artist; only nine months later did Farian reveal to reporters that Rob and Fab had not actually sung on any of the records (the real singers were named Charles Shaw, John Davis, and Brad Howell). Milli Vanilli’s Grammy was withdrawn before the week was out (the only time such a thing has happened). Arista Records dropped Milli Vanilli from its roster and deleted their album and its masters from their catalog, making Girl You Know It’s True the largest-selling album to ever be taken out of print. A court ruling in the United States entitled anyone who had bought the album to a refund.

If nothing else, the backlash against Milli Vanilli reeked of excess. The public vitriol was intense; Milli Vanilli was instantly transformed into a laughing stock, an easy punchline. Rob Pilatus spent most of the next few years battling substance abuse, and on April 2, 1998, he died of an overdose of alcohol and prescription pills in Frankfurt.

Milli Vanilli were victims of shitty timing, to some extent. Obviously their success came at a time when the delicate technology of CD playback enabled the possibility of an embarrassing “skip,” although really any fakery always has the potential to be exposed in a humiliating fashion; for proof of that, just watch Singin’ in the Rain. But the timing of the public’s perception of artifice versus authenticity would end up punishing Milli Vanilli. When their story broke, nobody had any way of knowing that the most talked-about band in the country not even a year later would be Nirvana, whose very existence represented a punk-y rebuke to the likes of major touring acts like Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi, etc. Whatever else they were, Kurt Cobain and Nirvana were perceived as being very strongly anti-artifice, and they and several other Seattle-based bands would spearhead the grunge movement, which would take as its symbol par excellence the material of flannel, available not in haute couture design houses but in every Salvation Army in America. Furthermore, the new technology behind Soundscan was bringing new rigor to the process of tracking America’s #1 hits, and the payola-ish forces that enabled Milli Vanilli’s very existence would come to feel a thing of the past very quickly.
 

Christian Hawkey, Joe Diebes, and David Levine
 
The story of Milli Vanilli has it all: a fast rise and a faster fall, issues of powerful inclusion and exclusion, race (Milli Vanilli were a multi-racial outfit), temptation and exploitation. ... above all it has everything to do with the authenticity of the human voice, which is the kind of thing an opera can make hay with. As a child of grunge myself, I’m not alway so predisposed to let Milli Vanilli off the hook; their prefabbed sound represents the polar opposite of, say, Jesus Lizard. And yet the notion that Milli Vanilli was essentially crucified to make a lavish point about integrity in the music industry seems entirely inarguable.

Such a notion has inspired composer Joe Diebes, librettist Christian Hawkey, and director David Levine to pursue a remarkable operatic work about the Milli Vanilli scandal that has been several years in the making. It’s called “Wow,” and it was performed at BRIC House in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, earlier this year. In the piece, librettist Hawkey takes pains to bring in some notable examples of mass media fakery in the pop culture arena that failed to elicit comparable outrage, including Audrey Hepburn lip-syncing her songs in the movie version of My Fair Lady, the use of a dancer in Flashdance, as well as the Monkees, who were a TV band before they became a real band. Any opera that features the line, “but the ass of the woman in Pretty Woman was not real….” has got to be worth a listen.
 

 
In an interview with the New York Times, Diebes said, “Aside from their story being inherently operatic, in terms of the Faustian bargain the duo made with the German pop producer Frank Farian. ... I am interested in the machinery that surrounded and ultimately destroyed them, and what that can tell us about our contemporary digital situation. It’s significant to me that they emerged at the same time as digital culture went mainstream, and MIDI sequencers and drum machines became common.”

As Brooklyn Paper reported earlier this year,
 

Diebes’ score is a deconstruction of Wagner’s “Der Meistersinger von Nurenberg,” which will be fed to the singers and orchestra live on video monitors, making for a new show each night. Levine’s staging is inspired by the act’s music videos.

“They had an extraordinary amount of charisma and were able to create an act that was totally singular,” said Hawkey. “There was a level of choreography and even costume that was just utterly fantastic. I love shoulder pads, and they knew how to rock them.”

“I remember feeling at the time when the scandal broke that they had been wronged,” said librettist Hawkey, a poet who teaches at Pratt Institute. “That they were probably victims of a larger corporate system that gobbled them up and spit them out.”

 
Here’s a workshop of the “untitled” piece dating from 2011, in which you can hear some of the key arias:
 

 
More after the jump…..

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Hot damn: Incredible footage of Django Reinhardt’s guitar technique
08.22.2014
07:03 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Stéphane Grappelli
Django Reinhardt


 
Django Reinhardt is one of the undisputed guitar jazz masters. Is he the most important jazz guitarist of all time? I don’t even know who else would be in the running for that…. Wes Montgomery, Charlie Christian? Django’s pretty close to the top, by anyone’s reckoning. Reinhardt gets extra coolness points for being a gypsy, for possibly being illiterate, and for losing the use of his ring finger and pinky in a fire when he was 18 years old.

That fact, of Django’s maimed hand, has heightened interest in his technique, because if nothing else it forced him to rethink his approach to the instrument.

In 1939, a promotional film in English was made for Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli and the Hot Club of France. The title of the video is “Jazz ‘Hot.’” It’s possible that the video was generated for a tour of Britain the Hot Club would do that year. The first half of the video is a little introduction to jazz; the second half of the video is a performance by the Hot Club. If you’d like to see Django’s fingers dance all over the guitar with a camera placement designed to showcase it in all its glory, here’s your chance. Stéphane Grappelli, of course, also appears on violin.

Absolutely astonishing footage.

Unfortunately, embedding is disabled on the video, but you can watch it here.
 

 
via Lawyers, Guns & Money

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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The Standells rock with Bing Crosby, 1965
08.22.2014
06:20 am

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture
Television

Tags:
Bing Crosby
Standells


 
There’s a TV law of nature that describes a very nearly universal tendency in sitcoms: if a show stars a performer already well known from an entertainment industry sector other than television, and the main character’s first name is the same as the performer’s, and that shared name is not “Bob” or “Lucy,” odds are extremely high that the show will fall somewhere between unrelentingly bland and totally unwatchable.

So did you even know Bing Crosby had an eponymous domestic sitcom for two years in the ‘60s? Despite his extremely high stature as a widely beloved singer and movie star, his completely unexceptional show was apparently no one’s favorite. Crosby played Bing Collins (there’s your red flag), a former singer who gave up the limelight to teach at a small college. His wife hated campus life and craved a return to showbiz glitz. They had two daughters, an airhead and an egghead. I got bored witless just typing that—care to sit through a few episodes? I think I’m safe in guessing not. In fact, while Der Bingle’s feature films and Christmas specials are readily available on DVD, I’m unable to find evidence that his sitcom was ever anthologized for home video in any format.
 

 
But just as bright children can be born to dull parents, even this puddle of middling televisual goo begat a moment worth preserving. In the aftermath of the Beatlemania bankability exploison, when countless also-ran bands could land on TV simply because anyone with guitars and shaggy hair would do, The Bing Crosby Show aired an episode guest starring the godfathers of garage rock, the Standells. Before they became known for their seminal single “Dirty Water,” that band made a fair few TV appearances, including on The Munsters and the medical drama Ben Casey. On Bing, they portray the Love Bugs, a not-trying-very-hard counterfeit of the Beatles. (That sort of thing was even more blatant in their Munsters appearance—they actually played “I Want to Hold Your Hand!”) Girls scream. Teenagers frug. Parents don’t quite get it. Blah blah blah. It’s worth it for the mimed performances of early tunes like “Come Here,” the inspired “Someday You’ll Cry,” and a take on the oft-covered Leiber/Stoller classic “Kansas City” with an amusing vocal turn by Crosby—it’s almost enough to make you forget what a twisted child abuser he was! Luckily, the YouTube user who posted this cut out most of the dismal sitcom crap in-between the tunes.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Vintage MTV: ‘Punks and Poseurs: A Journey Through the Los Angeles Underground’
08.21.2014
09:29 am

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture
Punk
Television

Tags:
MTV
The Dickies
GBH


This kid.

Knowing firsthand that MTV didn’t always totally suck asswater really dates you. When I have occasion to mention how, once upon a time, that justly-reviled network actually played some seriously cool shit, I half wonder if I’m coming off like my grandma used to when she talked about the Great Depression. But it’s true, even before long-running bones thrown to the weirdos like 120 Minutes and Headbanger’s Ball found their footing, MTV broadcast stuff like IRS’ The Cutting Edge and Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes, which often rivaled even the USA Network’s mighty Night Flight for genuinely informative freak-scene value.

One jaw-droppingly excellent MTV show was the one-off special Punks and Poseurs: A Journey Through the Los Angeles Underground. A big mover behind its production was Charles M. Young, who, as sad fate would have it, passed away this week after a standoff with a brain tumor. He’s the guy at the beginning of the video, speaking with early VJ Alan Hunter, and while he looks for all the world like an unreconstructed Little River Band fan, don’t be faked out by appearances. Young was one of the first mainstream music journalists to take punk’s aesthetic merit as a given, and for that, we owe him a debt of gratitude. May he rest in peace.

At its core, “Punks and Poseurs” is a narration-free concert film, but it’s cut with terrific interview footage that explores the changing nature of punk, from insider and outsider perspectives. There’s a lot of great footage with writer/performers Pleasant Gehman and Iris Berry, torpedoing the influx into the music scene of neophyte phonies who just didn’t get it, explaining title of the program. (After this first aired in 1985, a bunch of the new waver/Durannie chicks at my high school—which is to say all the girls who were trying their suburban Ohio best to look like Gehman and Berry—started calling everyone “poseurs,” which was pretty funny.) There’s also a hilarious interview with employees at a store called “Poseur,” which sold punk fashions and accessories—people had to get that shit somewhere before Hot Topic forever banished punk to the mall, no?  Also keep an eye out for the kid giving a primer on how to fashion liberty spikes with Knox gelatine.

The performance footage mostly focuses on excellent, high-energy sets by The Dickies and GBH —the latter of whom were quite radical by MTV’s regular programming standards (and British, contra the program’s subtitle, but the concert took place in L.A., so whatever, I guess). There’s also an early glimpse of the excellent and still active Italian hardcore band Raw Power. I harbor serious doubts they’ve ever been spotted on that network again.
 

 
Many thanks to upstanding journalist and total fucking poseur Mr. Erick Bradshaw for this find.

Previously on Dangerous Minds
‘Way USA’: Sleazy punk comedy travelogue is the greatest cult video you’ve probably never seen
The time Ian McKellen jammed with the Fleshtones on MTV in 1987
Debbie Harry, Ramones, Nick Rhodes, Courtney Love and more on MTV’s ‘Andy Warhol’s 15 Minutes’

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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‘Christianity is Stupid’: Negativland takes on religion in ‘It’s All In Your Head’
08.20.2014
02:20 pm

Topics:
Belief
Music

Tags:
Negativland


 
The other day I was pondering how I would explain the whole “Why are we here?” / “Is there a God?” concept to my (hypothetical at this point) child and discussing this with my wife who is about as religious as I am (i.e: not at all). When I was a kid, raised in a very Christian home in West Virginia, it was a pretty straight line between reading Thor comics, then Edith Hamilton’s Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes before I was already having my doubts about “church.” If the Norse gods, like the Greek gods, were all just myths, wasn’t the whole Judeo-Christian thang on a similarly shaky epistemological foundation? What’s the difference? I couldn’t see one. From a very young age, religion had no credibility with me, but I was lucky. Christianity ultimately had very little effect on me.

How to discourage an irrational belief in the bearded sky god without being too heavy-handed about it and causing the hypothetical kid to go in the other direction to rebel will be an interesting road to navigate. Then again maybe not. As everyone knows millennials have left their parents’ religion in droves. Nearly two-thirds of under 30s subscribe to no organized religion. At the current rate of attrition, by mid-century Christians may no longer even constitute the majority in America.

For all kinds of reasons, the movement away from religion has picked up some serious speed in the past few decades, with this in mind, I laughed out loud reading the press release for Negativland’s new album, It’s All In Your Head which describes the double CD set (packaged in an actual Holy Bible repurposed into a “found” art object, modified by hand) as being “millennia-in-development.”

It’s true if you think about it. They wouldn’t have been able to get away with something this cheeky in previous decades. In 2014, it’ll be a sought after collectible, of course. They wouldn’t have had the source material to work with, either. It’s All In Your Head provokes and entertains listeners with Negativland’s signature mix of found music, sounds, radio dialogue and original electronic noises, bleeps and boops fashioned into a musical essay that looks at “monotheism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, neuroscience, suicide bombers, 9/11, colas, war, shaved chimps, and the all-important role played by the human brain in our beliefs.”

It’s monotheism, but it’s in stereo, putting me in mind of the Firesign Theatre crossed with Richard Dawkins crossed with Madlib. If that sentence is even halfway intelligible to you, the “trailer” for It’s All in Your Head, below, is required viewing, freak.

It’s All In Your Head comes out on October 28th, but if you preorder it, you’ll get it two weeks before that (I have one already and highly recommend it).
 

 
Bonus: “The Mashin’ of The Christ” music video:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Fugazi: Red Medicine for the White House, live in Washington, DC, 1991
08.20.2014
10:44 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Fugazi
Ian Mackaye


 
Dischord Records, the independent punk label of immeasurable historic importance founded by Minor Threat/Fugazi/Evens singer Ian Mackaye, made an intriguing announcement recently:

In January 1988, after only ten shows, Fugazi decided to go into Inner Ear Studio to see what their music sounded like on tape. They tracked 11 songs, ten of which were ultimately dubbed to cassette tape and distributed free at shows, with the band encouraging people to share the recording.

The only song from the session that has been formally released was “In Defense of Humans,” which appeared on the State of the Union compilation in 1989. Now, some 26 years later, Dischord is releasing the entire demo including the one song (“Turn Off Your Guns”) that wasn’t included on the original cassette. The record has been mastered by TJ Lipple and will be available on CD and LP+Mp3.

This release will also coincide with the completion of the initial round of uploads to the Fugazi Live Series website. Launched in 2011, the site now includes information and details on all of Fugazi’s 1000+ live performances and makes available close to 900 concert recordings that were documented by the band and the public.

 

 
The label’s coyness about the actual release date of the demos is a bit of a drag, but it may have something to do with the near impossibility of getting timely vinyl pressings done these days. Given that these are finally being widely issued, perhaps one can hope that someday we’ll get an official release of Steve Albini’s demos for the album In On the Kill Taker? They’ve been repeatedly taken down from various blogs, but if you can track them down, you may agree with me that they kicked a lot more ass than Albini or Fugazi ever gave them credit for.
 

 
Those Fugazi Live Series pages are worth a good, thorough combing-through if you’re a fan. They not only boast an exhaustive list of the band’s concert dates (what would you give to have been at “Jan 20, 1988, East Lansing, MI, USA, Matt Kelly’s Basement?”), but also offer recordings of many of them, some made by the band, some by fans. Where they exist, the recordings are offered for sale at the price of—all together now—five dollars per show, in a surely intentional echo of Fugazi’s eminently fan-friendly move of demanding that their concert admissions be capped at $5. One almost has to half-kiddingly wonder if Mackaye’s bed isn’t literally stuffed with five dollar bills.

Since the US is evidently going to be in Iraq for freakin’ ever, it seems fitting to punctuate this post with the show that serves as the subject of Fugazi Live Series FLS0308, the Gulf War protest in Lafayette Park, Washington DC, January 12, 1991. I was in DC for those protests, but to my lasting regret, I had no idea this show was happening right in front of the White House.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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