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Listen to ‘Montage of Heck,’ Kurt Cobain’s mind-blowing music montage—made years before his fame
10.31.2014
11:04 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Kurt Cobain
Nirvana


 
Nobody better represented the young, angry, art school punk better than Kurt Cobain—a glance at his Journals is enough to convince that his desire to fuck shit up was bone-deep. Fortunately, his tastes for fuckuppery in music were broad and wide—as he put it after Nirvana broke big in 1991/1992,  “All in all, we sound like the Knack and the Bay City Rollers being molested by Black Flag and Black Sabbath.” The key there is that Kurt liked all four of the acts he mentioned, on some level—his fondness for ABBA, for instance, is well documented.

It comes as no surprise, then, that Kurt was enamored of putting together diverse mix tapes but, more to the point, unbelievably wacked-out sound collages that went way beyond anything as mundane as a mix tape. If mix tapes get off on juxtaposition, then sound collages are mix tapes on mescaline, with the juxtapositions colliding with each other every which way.
 

 
Kurt assembled “Montage of Heck” around 1988 using a 4-track cassette recorder. It features sounds from Kurt’s wide-ranging collection of LPs, manipulated recordings of the radio, elements of Nirvana demos, and sounds created or recorded by Cobain. The list of artists that Kurt appropriated for “Montage of Heck,” reproduced at the end of this post, is fairly mind-blowing for a 21-year-old punker with (remember) no access to Napster, Spotify, Discogs, or Allmusic.com. In short, Kurt was the real deal—as if we didn’t already know.

Kurt actually made two versions of “Montage of Heck,” which are quite different, even though they share some audio material. There’s the short mono version, which clocks in at 8 minutes, and the long stereo version, which eats up about 36 minutes. For more technical information on the tracks, definitely check out this informative post over at United Mutilations.

True to Kurt’s insatiable appetite for music, “Montage of Heck” includes snippets (and more) from Frank Zappa, Shocking Blue, Queensrÿche, the Barbarians, William Shatner, and Daniel Johnston, alongside more tried and true classic rock acts like Simon & Garfunkel, the Beatles, the Velvet Underground, Led Zeppelin, Iron Butterfly, and Van Halen. But even there, while they’re popular acts, most punks weren’t talking about Cher, Sammy Davis Jr., or the Monkees in 1988.

Just click “play” and let the weirdness take you over......
 

 
After the jump, a fascinating list of the source material Kurt used in making “Montage of Heck”.....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Beck, Thurston Moore, and Mike D’s ridiculous jam on MTV, 1994


 
Mass culture machines love the status quo—a salesman, after all, is fattest and happiest when he knows what’ll sell and how to sell it. So when a sudden zeitgeist shift catches them with their pants down, it can be illuminating to watch them try to pull them back up. When the reset button got pushed in the early ‘90s and cult figures whose worldviews revolved around aggressive abnormality suddenly became the new rock royalty, things could get pretty damn funny.

One noteworthy moment was when Sonic Youth‘s Thurston Moore guest hosted MTV’s late night alternaghetto 120 Minutes. In the 1980s, that show featured some legitimately outré artists, but by 1994 watching that show was no longer significantly different from listening to commercial radio. Because of Moore’s untouchable underground bona fides, featuring him injected a fresh dose of off-the-path credibility into that show, and his interview with the then newly-rising Beck was pretty hilarious. Watch it here, it’s worth a few minutes of your life.

But weirder still is this bit of insanity from the same broadcast—Moore, Beck, and the Beastie Boys’ Mike D collaborating on a noise jam. This is what happens when you let the freakshow into the big tent—Dada in mass media. Rigoddamndiculous.
 

 
Hat-tip to Mr. Rob Galo for this find.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Camper Van Beethoven covers Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Tusk’ in its entirety, 1987 (well, actually 2001)
10.31.2014
08:58 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Fleetwood Mac
Camper Van Beethoven


 
Few bands could generate a good mood as deftly as Camper Van Beethoven did—I keep wanting to call their low-key gems a “hoot.” An likeable band with a shambolic take on melody and a sense of humor—the gods don’t bring such treasures so often. They were like that guy you hung with after you graduated high school who was always stoned and could always make you laugh. In their original run they churned out five minor classics, of which my fave was Telephone Free Landslide Victory, with their wistful, Led Zeppelin-influenced self-titled album a close second.

Anyway, they broke up and then David Lowery went off to form Cracker, while the rest of the band (more or less) became Monks of Doom. Camper Van Beethoven wouldn’t be a thing again until roughly 1999, when David Lowery, Victor Krummenacher, and Jonathan Segel convened to create Camper Van Beethoven Is Dead: Long Live Camper Van Beethoven, which was a fake rarities compilation—that is, none of the material was actually old.

Two years later, with the same straight face, Camper Van Beethoven claimed to have discovered the 4-track tapes they’d recorded in 1987 of a song-for-song cover of Tusk, Fleetwood Mac’s 1979 follow-up to their massive success Rumours, a famous flop that is actually a pretty damn good album.

Yesterday, Marc Maron released his interview with David Lowery on his podcast WTF, in which his guest explained what actually happened with their album Tusk, released in 2001. Maron’s prompt (around minute 80) is “Why’d you guys record Tusk, the Fleetwood Mac record?” Here’s Lowery’s answer:
 

Okay so, Camper Van Beethoven really got back together in say 2001? But we didn’t really play any shows, but we decided we’d record together again, but we decided that, what we would do is, there’s an album called Camper Van Beethoven Is Dead … Long Live Camper Van Beethoven. And it’s a fake oddities record. We actually just kind of recorded it and pretended like it was an oddities album. and dropped it out there. It was very Kaufman. ... I think we were probably influenced by Andy Kaufman, right? You know, it’s like, “Let’s put out a fake oddities record as our new record!” We just put it out there, it’s like, okay. “Oh hey, we just discovered that we recorded Tusk in 1987 on our 4-track, we finally found the tapes for that.” That wasn’t true, we recorded that, the whole album then put it out as if like something we had done in 1987 and just put out there. Nobody noticed.

 
Here’s an interview item from New York Press in 2002 in which Lowery is selling the fake origin story and the NY Press is buying it hook, line, and sinker. (Why wouldn’t they?) Ahem: “About to record their third album in 1986, Camper Van Beethoven retired to a cabin in Mammoth, CA, to write songs, and ended up recording a song-for-song tribute to Tusk.” Then, quoting Lowery: “Well, 1986 was only a few years after the release of Tusk. Fleetwood Mac was completely unhip in the indie rock circles at that time - that was part of the reason we recorded it—but we also had this major Fleetwood Mac obsession, particularly Lindsey Buckingham songs….” Etc.
 

 
You know, if you pull a prank on someone and you’re super deadpan about it, you can’t be surprised that nobody figures out that a prank was played. Allmusic.com still thinks this album was recorded in 1987—again, why wouldn’t they? It’s a curious kind of prank, to say the least.

The point of the Tusk sessions was that they were a kind of throat-clearing, a test process to see if the band members could work together productively again. It’s a pretty savvy move if you look at it that way. There’s no way the album can hold a candle to the original, of course, but that was hardly the point. I’ve created a Spotify playlist in which every Fleetwood Mac song is followed up by its Camper Van Beethoven counterpart, alternating its way to the end, and I think listening to that is quite enjoyable. Not all the tracks really work—Camper’s version of “Storms” works very well, I think.

You wouldn’t expect that there would be any video material on YouTube from Camper Van Beethoven on such a tossed-off project, and there isn’t any. From Fleetwood Mac, of course, there’ll always be the very memorable “Tusk” video shot in an empty Dodger Stadium and featuring the USC Trojan Marching Band:
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘Frontiers of Progressive Rock’: Five incredible jams with ELP, King Crimson, Yes, and others


 
Lordy lord, do I love footage from the old Beat Club program from Germany in the early 1970s. (The show later turned into Musikladen). Last week we brought you some smokin’ hard rock jams including MC5, Alice Cooper, and the New York Dolls that originally appeared on Beat Club. This week we move onto prog—and the results are nearly as sublime.

This compilation is known as Frontiers of Progressive Rock (and was originally released on a Laserdisc), features five excellent prog bands in their prime, just fucking shit up. Yes, Soft Machine, the Nice, King Crimson, and the biggest seller of them all, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer are each represented with an early gem, and all of them just go to town. My favorite moment comes when Keith Emerson, dressed in glittery blue and green, hurls himself over his second organ and then rocks it back and forth from behind before playing a few notes from the “wrong” side.
 

 
I also really love how much of a premium Beat Club placed on ridiculous video effects. The ELP number has oscilloscope readings projected onto the back wall, whereas the entire Soft Machine number is enring’d in an orange halo on the screen. Meanwhile, during the Yes song a kaleidoscope effect is used wherein the center of the image is “reflected” around itself—you have to see it to get it. For some reason the Yes track incorporates a large revolving head suspended over an old-fashioned chair of some sort…. anyway, I love the intensity with which the bands play their songs, I love the varied instrumentation (violin, saxophone, etc.), and I love the acid-freakout visuals. If you’ve got nothing else going on, I recommend turning this on and finding a pharmaceutical or two to help you enjoy the day.
 

 

Track listing:
Emerson, Lake & Palmer: “Knife Edge”
King Crimson: “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic”
The Nice: “Hang On To a Dream”
Soft Machine: “Composition Based On 3 Tunes” (Medley of “Out-Bloody-Rageous,” “Eamonn Andrews,” and “All White”)
Yes: “Yours Is No Disgrace”

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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DEVO ‘busking’ on French TV, 1980
10.31.2014
06:43 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
DEVO
Stéphane Collaro


 
I’ll bet a lot of bands at the turn of the ‘80s must have envied the media penetration DEVO were enjoying around then. Even before the creation and widespread adoption of MTV, that band’s knowingly goofy presentation made them just so much fun to look at that they were able to storm not just the late night shows where adventurous music was fairly commonplace, but also blandly housewifey daytime chat shows like Merv Griffin‘s.

Here’s a rarely-seen overseas example—this comes from a June, 1980 broadcast of Collaroshow, a French comedy/variety program. DEVO mimed “Girl U Want,” the leadoff song and first single from their then brand new LP Freedom of Choice, as sidewalk buskers. It’s all done in a single camera shot (a tribute to Rope, or just cheapness?) that circles the band with vocalist Mark Motherbaugh. It’s guitarist Bob Mothersbaugh, though, who wins the day here, his energy dome roguishly cocked at an angle as he flips the bird at the camera to punctuate the song’s solo. The ice cream “microphone,” in a perfectly DEVO-ish yellow and red, is an amusing touch, too.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Ian Curtis: Handwritten schoolboy poem up for auction

0jyicurltenn.jpg
 
As a child Joy Division’s lead singer wanted to be stuntman. He went so far as setting up a specially constructed stunt that involved him jumping off a garage roof. Cheered on by friends, Curtis donned a crash helmet and took a giant leap off the roof. He landed badly and his ambitions for a career as a stuntman were over.

Thankfully, Curtis showed greater talent for writing poetry, and it would be his lyric writing and singing that eventually brought him fame. Now, one of his original poems, written circa 1966-67 when Curtis was at school, is to be sold next month at a “Beatles Rock ‘n’ Roll Memorabilia Auction,” with a starting bid of $1,200 (£1,000).

According to Tracks Auction the poem:

...is written on a piece of lined paper and is glued into a school book called Our Book Of Epitaphs along with poems from the other pupils in the class.

It reads, “An Epitaph for an Electrian (sic), Here lies Fred the electrian (sic), who went on a very fateful mission, he got a shock when tampering with a fuse, which went from his head right down to his shoes, by I. Curtis”.

Ian has also drawn a small picture of a man and a tombstone.

Hardly T. S. Eliot but certainly not McGonagall.

The poem is described as being in “excellent” condition and measures 6.5 inches x 3.75 inches. It is contained within a larger book of poems by fellow classmates which has some wear and tear and a few of the poems have become detached from the book.
 
pmncrpm111.jpg
 
A letter confirming the poem’s authenticity from the owner and former classmate of the singer is included. The letter reads:

“I grew up on Hurdsfield Estate, Macclesfield where I attended Hurdsfield Junior School. I started Hurdsfield Junior School in 1963 where I met Ian Curtis, he was a fellow pupil in my class and we went through school together. Mr Young was our teacher when this piece of work was carried out, he himself has got a poem in the book along with myself and all the other pupils in the class. This poem was written in 1966 or 1967. I was presented with the book at the end of the school year for being head boy. At the time the head teacher was called Mr Tattasall. Ian Curtis lived on Grey Stoke Road, Hurdsfield Estate, I lived on Delemere Road, Hurdsfield Estate, Cheshire”.

As far as pop culture goes, it seems everything and anything is up for grabs, and amongst the other lots going under the hammer are Adam Ant’s 1981 “Prince Charming” shirt, Kate Bush’s handwritten lyrics for “Wuthering Heights,” various signed singles, albums, posters and concert programmes, and a shed load of Beatles’ memorabilia. I’m sure these will all make more than their asking prices and if you fancy bidding check details they are here.
 
pmncrtsjydvsnpm2.jpg
 
pmncrtspm.jpg
 
Below Kate Bush’s handwritten lyrics for ‘Wuthering Heights.’
 
bukabnh111.jpg
H/T Letters of Note
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Why DID Bad Brains frontman H.R. duct-tape himself to a chair?
10.30.2014
09:11 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music
Punk

Tags:
Bad Brains
H.R.


H.R. smoking the good stuff with a Brooke Shields look-alike (or is it really her?)
 
Bad Brains bassist Darryl Jennifer recounts the tale of one of the band’s more memorable shows… This happened sometime in the 80s when frontman H.R. had himself duct-taped to a chair while the band performed on stage. According to Darryl, no one knew in the band exactly why H.R. had decided to do this. They were a little surprised themselves:

So I know this one night my big brother H.R. seemed a little uncomfortable. And you know I, you know everyone knows H.R. can be eccentric, you know? But he seemed a little uncomfortable. So I was like ‘What’s up?’ and he said, ‘I’m good, I’m good.’”

snip~

I see my man sat down on stage and on top of that my man had one of the techs come out and duct-tape him to the chair. So you know, I figure it’s Bad Brains. Even me I’m in the band and I’m like what happens must be some wild punk shit I don’t even know about.

Annnnd, the rest is history, folks. Watch this amusing animated tale below to find out the real reason why H.R. had himself duct-taped to a chair.

 
Via The World’s Best Ever

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Blackout! The mysterious story behind Black Sabbath’s first US gig
10.30.2014
07:26 am

Topics:
Heroes
Music

Tags:
Black Sabbath
folklore
mysterious

Black Sabbath 1970
Black Sabbath, 1970
 
On this day 44 years ago, Black Sabbath played their first-ever show on U.S. soil. However, as the headline of this post insinuates, the actual location of the gig is some debate, depending on the sources you choose to believe.
 
Black Sabbath London 1970
Black Sabbath, London 1970
 
Riding high (quite literally) on the huge successes of their first two albums, Black Sabbath (released on February 18th, 1970) and Paranoid (released on September 18th, 1970), both Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi and vocalist Ozzy Osbourne historically credit the location of their first U.S. show in their respective autobiographies as legendary Manhattan club, Ungano’s. In his 2012 autobiography, Iron Man: My Journey through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath, Iommi recalls showing up to Ungano’s and was horrified at what a “shithole” the club was. Their roadie plugged their Euro gear into Ungano’s U.S.-only sockets and subsequently blew the club’s fuses. After a short unplanned pre-show intermission, the power went back on and Black Sabbath’s first gig was history. Or was it?
 
Black Sabbath at Glassboro Esby Gymnasium, October 30, 1970
Black Sabbath jamming at Esby Gymnasium at Glassboro State College?
 
Other sources claim that the band’s first gig took place at Glassboro State College (now known as Rowan University) in New Jersey. And the story is quite similar to Iommi’s. Claims made by rock promoter Rick Green, the brother of Stu Green who with his brother ran Midnight Sun an influential music promotion company that started out in Pennsylvania in early 70’s, has been quoted as calling himself the “promoter” of Black Sabbath’s “first U.S. gig” at Glassboro. On the surface, it’s not hard to believe. The Greens booked everyone from Lou Reed and Alice Cooper to the Patti Smith Group at the historic Tower Theater in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, not far from Glassboro State.

In aninterview that Rick did in 1992 with The Philadelphia Daily News, he spoke about the gig in strangely similar detail to Iommi’s recalling that Sabbath blew out the power after plugging in their amps into incompatible sockets. This caused the gig to be rescheduled until the end of Sabbath’s inaugural tour. Hmmm. So what about Glassboro? Was it real, or was it just a bad memory? Here’s another version of the Glassboro story, according to an article from The Seth Man, a journalist who writes over at Julian Cope Presents Head Heritage. The post also cites Rick Green’s Daily News interview as a source, but includes more detail:
 

The band’s (Black Sabbath’s) passage through customs at Kennedy Airport in New York proved to be “a day-long trauma that left the group tired and humiliated,” causing them to be three and a half hours late for the gig. Finally appearing onstage at 1:00 in the morning, the power to their sound system cut out during the first song. It was fixed within a few minutes, but once they recommenced they caused a second power outage that not only knocked out their sound system but the power to the gymnasium, the campus and “...most of the power in the neighborhood. The street lights were out and there was darkness.” Appropriately enough, the date was Mischief Night: exactly half a year away from Walpurgisnacht on October 30th.

 
Is this Black Sabbath? The SG Gibson may provide a clue
Black Sabbath, perhaps snapped during the Esby show
 
As I mentioned earlier, there are many resources, some trustworthy, that credit Glassboro as Sabbath’s first American gig, including British author Garry Sharpe-Young (specifically in the book, “Metal: The Definitive Guide”) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s timeline on Sabbath. I’ve even read accounts that seem legit that tell the tale of a young Ozzy Osbourne, allegedly so distraught during the Glassboro gig that he wandered off into a messy pile of tears in corner of Glassboro’s Esby Gymnasium (where the mythological gig was held), while shouting “I hate America and I want to go home!” Of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that said article spelled Ozzy’s name “Ozzie” and also notes that Ozzy was 20 at the time, when he was actually 22. I’m probably nitpicking here, but for what it’s worth, I’d like to present another piece of this very weird puzzle.  Below is a strange show poster for the Glassboro show, supposedly created by promoter Rick Green’s little sister. The poster went to auction at Christie’s in 2007. The auction item’s bio states a bit of maybe-history noting that after the power went out during the first song, Sabbath wasn’t able to continue and the show was made up later at neighboring Montclair State University.
 
Black Sabbath Glassboro show poster Christies
Black Sabbath show poster for Glassboro State College. Christies auction 2007.
 
So what to believe? In my mind, it’s hard to conceive that Tony Iommi’s recollection of Sabbath’s first gig would be incorrect. I mean, he was there, man. And despite the fact that it’s nothing short of a miracle that Ozzy remembers anything from those early days (although in his book “I Am Ozzy,” which I’m currently reading, he remembers a lot), the fact that he corroborates Iommi’s heavy metal history lesson just adds credibility to the show taking place at Ungano’s. So let’s put an end to this folklore once and for all. In the pages of the the Fall 1998 issue of Rowan Magazine the University historians took a look back at the many famous visitors they have hosted through the years such as Blondie, Elton John and Jane Fonda. The publication, that the University publishes itself, makes no mention of Black Sabbath. So there you have it. Black Sabbath’s first live U.S. show PROBABLY took place in a small, skuzzy club in Manhattan on October 30th, 1970, not some upper-crust college in New Jersey that was more accustomed to the stylings of Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra. The END (or is it?).

Posted by Cherrybomb | Discussion
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Less with the raw, still with the power: James Williamson resurrects lost Iggy & the Stooges songs
10.29.2014
06:32 am

Topics:
History
Music
Punk

Tags:
Iggy Pop
James Williamson
Stooges


 
The last five years must have felt like a triumphant return for Iggy and the Stooges’ James Williamson. After a decades-long alienation from the music business, during which he improbably landed a job as an electronics executive—not even a slightly typical afterlife for a proto-punk rager—the man best known for his sick guitar playing on the epochal 1973 album Raw Power reunited with his old band in 2009, and recorded the album Ready to Die with them last year. But with that band on hiatus again after a 2013 world tour, Williamson turned to some long-unfinished business. There was a very very large pile of old songs, dating back to the ‘70s, that he’d written with Stooges singer Iggy Pop for the intended follow-up to Raw Power, but which had never been recorded in a studio. A few were on the live Metallic K.O. album, some had circulated among obsessives as really rough-sounding bootleg dubs, and many of them turned up on the Open Up And Bleed! live collection released by BOMP! Records in 1995. But those were the only traces of those songs; sketchy-sounding live versions.

The Stooges, minus Iggy, have remedied that. With the Stooges’ touring band, that being bassist Mike Watt, drummer Toby Dammit, and saxophonist Steve Mackay, Williamson has recorded Re-Licked, a 16-track collection of those old songs, with a revolving door of singers. The lineup of vocalists is impressive—it HAS to be right? They’re standing in for a young Iggy Pop! I’d love to call it an all-star lineup, but a lot of these people aren’t really quite “stars,” though pretty much all of them kick high ass. The BellRays’ amazing Lisa Kekaula, Jello Biafra, Ariel Pink, ex-Dicks Gary Floyd, former Foetus honcho J.G. Thirlwell, Mark Lanegan, Alison Mosshart, and Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie all make appearances. Last April, a Record Store Day 7” teaser single was released, with the gifted Austin, TX blues belter Carolyn Wonderland singing “Open Up and Bleed” and “Gimme Some Skin.” Both also appear on Re-Licked, which saw its release this week.

Williamson was kind enough to make some time to talk to Dangerous Minds about the album.

You joined the Stooges after Fun House, but they broke up. Then when they were reconstituted as Iggy and the Stooges, you played on Raw Power. After that, you appeared on a couple of Iggy albums, and that’s pretty much it, right? What did you do in all the years since then?

After we were unsuccessful at finding a record label, Iggy and I kinda gave up on the Stooges. He went off with Bowie, who’d offered to take him under his wing, and that launched his solo career, and I was kind of fed up with playing music at that point so I went to work at a recording studio in Los Angeles. I learned a lot there, but one of the things I learned was that I really wasn’t cut out to be a recording engineer. It was the disco era by then, and I couldn’t stand the work. One thing is worse than playing with musicians you don’t like, and that’s recording them every day. It was a training ground for me, though, because it got me interested in electronics, and since those were the early early days of the personal computer, that led to an interest in the possibilities of computers, so I decided to become a real electronics engineer. I got a job in Silicon Valley, and I’ve been here ever since.


 
And what got you back into playing?

I had a 25-30 year career in electronics, and ended up as an executive at Sony. Around when Ronnie Asheton died in 2009, I was toying with taking early retirement. With the economy, these companies were offering that, and it looked attractive. At the same time I got a call from Iggy asking if I wanted to rejoin the band. At first I turned him down. I couldn’t imagine doing it, and I wasn’t even sure I could do it, since I hadn’t been playing at all. But I decided I owed it to them to give it a try, and I could do it because of the retirement. Then it turned out that Sony didn’t want me to leave so they hired me back as a consultant, but still I had some time to do some woodshedding, and I got good enough to play the first gig in Sao Paolo, Brazil, to a HUGE audience compared to anything I’d ever seen before. So I was back. A lot of things happened all at once.

So the material you recorded for Re-Licked was late Iggy and the Stooges stuff that never got released on an LP. There’ve been two Stooges albums since their reunion, The Weirdness, which you’re not on, and Ready to Die, which you’re on. None of these dormant songs turned up on either of those albums. How come?

We did discuss it. We had that conversation. The fans always wanted that album, and the bootlegs are out there, so people are familiar with it. What we decided was if we did an Iggy and the Stooges album, it was a given that it’d be compared to Raw Power, and it probably would be a difficult comparison with the old Stooges vs the young Stooges. Iggy’s voice has changed a great deal, like everyone’s does, with age, and I’m not even sure he could sing some of these songs now, they’re not all easy to sing. In the end we decided that rather than beg that type of comparison, let’s just write new songs. Sure, it’s still going to get compared, but it’s going to get compared as new stuff. I’m very proud of Ready to Die, we spent a lot of time writing it, Iggy stepped up on the lyrics and the vocals, it’s a good album.

The fact was that we still hadn’t done these songs, though, and I had it in mind that I really wanted to do them. Once we stopped touring last September, I had the time. I only started out with one song, I rearranged “Open Up and Bleed,” and my wife and I were talking about it and thought it would be great to get a Janis Joplin type singer for it. So I searched and searched and searched, and finally an old friend of mine In Austin sent me a link to Carolyn Wonderland. She did like three takes and it was over, and I was so blown away I said, even before I came back from Austin, yeah, I can do this, I could do a whole album. Luckily for me I found a lot of people of that caliber who could do it.

How did you choose the singers? There are some inspired choices. Gary Floyd doing “Cock in my Pocket,” I just love. And the guy singing the other version of that song, he’s from the Hellacopters, right?

Yeah, Nicke Andersson. Those were people who were recommended to me, so were a lot of people on the album. I got lots of recommendations. There was a lot of interest in doing this album, so I didn’t have any problem attracting people. Where I did have a problem was I didn’t know a lot of them, so I would go and if they had any material I could get access to or if I could watch them on YouTube, I’d get a feel for their style. So the people that actually ended up on the album were narrowed down from a very big list. I didn’t really have anyone who turned me down. There were a couple of people who couldn’t do it because they were busy, but no one was disinterested. That’s one thing I really like about this album, you can hear the singers’ enthusiasm about it, it just feels like they’re into it and they’re bringing their A-game to these songs.

It’s interesting that there are so many female vocalists on the album.

Well, it all started with Carolyn, and after her I thought, well, this works pretty well. The Stooges never had any women on anything, so it was a different thing, but it worked really well. This isn’t a Stooges album, it’s a tribute to those songs, so I didn’t want think about making it sound like the Stooges, but just bring the best people on that I could find.

Yeah, Lisa Kekaula, especially, she’s pretty fabulous.

Oh, MAN, yeah!


 
Have you seen the BellRays live? You must have, right?

No! What happened was I was down at Joe Cardamone’s, he’s the Icarus Line’s singer. I worked a lot with him, he let me use his little studio for stuff where a little studio would work, and I was sitting with him and was looking for another vocalist, and he asked if I’d ever heard Lisa Kekaula, and I said no, and he said to call her. She just came right over, and I only had one track available at the time, that was “I Got a Right,” and she came in and just NAILED that song.  My jaw dropped. Unbelievable. So I had to do a single with her, so later I came back and recorded “Heavy Liquid” for her. It was a lot of fun to do these sessions.

So is this it then, these are the canonical studio recordings of these songs? The Stooges won’t finally make the lost album?

I don’t see that as being in the cards. I made an open invitation to Iggy to sing on these. He wrote them with me, so he has every much a right to sing them as I have to play them. But I sincerely doubt that we’ll do that. Frankly I don’t know if we could improve on this.

How do you imagine it’ll be received? People who know these songs at all only know the really really gnarly versions from nth generation dubbed tapes, or else from K.O. or the Open Up and Bleed live thing.

So far the responses and reviews are incredibly good. It’s exceeding my expectations by a long shot. There’s always going to be people that don’t like something, and there’s a lot of “Iggy bigots” that are gonna hate it because he isn’t on it. I’ve always had to live with the people that wouldn’t recognize anything that came after Fun House. But so far, on balance, the responses are really amazing, if for no other reason than that, because of all the people singing on it, this is reaching people that possibly wouldn’t have listened to the Stooges. All of these different people bring their own audiences into play, so there’s this wider group you’re exposing this music to.

So is there anything happening with the Stooges in the future?

We haven’t discussed it. I’m beginning to have my doubts, because next year, Iggy’s going to be 68 years old. Think about going out and like, stage diving, at 68 years old. Think you could do it?

I’M NO IGGY POP!

*laughs* Well, the only thing that makes me say it could happen is that if anyone will do it, he will. I have doubts. And I also have to admit I’m a part of that equation, and right now I don’t have to think about it, but if I had a serious offer to do it, I’d really have to think about it. I’m not getting any younger either, but then, all I have to do is play guitar. So I could go out and do that, but I also feel a kind of duty to uphold the honor of the name. I don’t want us to be like the Rolling Stones. To me, they’ve ruined their brand. They’re just too frickin’ old. They’re still really cool guys, but they’re really cool REALLY OLD guys. I’d never go see ‘em anymore. So do I want the Stooges to be like that? No, I want people to remember us like, even the last tour we did, we were still really burning up the stage, some people at any age can’t do that. That’s what I want the memory to be. At this point I’m open to it if we can pull it off, but there are lots of reasons not to do it, too.
 

 
Williamson was right about these songs getting compared to the old versions, because we’re going to do that right now. Here’s the Stooges’ demo for “I Got a Right.” This has ended up on various bootlegs, and even got a small but legit release, on a super limited deluxe edition of Raw Power. This song completely fuckin’ smokes.
 

 
And here’s a teaser of the version with the BellRays’ Lisa Kekaula. This also completely fuckin’ smokes. If you’re watching at work, be advised there’s a stripper in the video.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Talking Heads: Max Headroom interviews Sting and David Byrne


 
Max Headroom, now there was a weird-ass experiment. In hindsight the digital character is the very definition of a “curio.” It takes only a few seconds of watching Max to remember just how irritating he was, a stuttering, condescending, smarmy non-entity (literally) who is devoid of content (making him a natural pitchman for Coca Cola, which he was for several national advertising campaigns). Watching authentic artists like Sting and David Byrne interact with Max is a little painful. 

Before the narrative sci-fi show Max Headroom descended on U.S. shores in 1987, British audiences had been “enjoying” The Max Headroom Show, which featured interviews and music videos, throughout 1985 and 1986. In the first clip, Sting is promoting The Dream of the Blue Turtles as well as The Bride, his first movie after Dune, so it must be 1985. True to Max’s essential vapidity, they discuss shoes for most of the interview. The strategy of intersplicing unmotivated stock footage resembles nothing so much as a short film by Lelaina Pierce as recut by Michael Grates, to invoke the Winona Ryder and Ben Stiller characters from Reality Bites.
 

 
Of course Sting is inherently annoying—check out his shades—but it’s really not his fault in this case; David Byrne’s naturally distanced temperament works a lot better. Unfortunately, the clip, put up by the official Talking Heads YouTube account, gets badly out of sync after a couple of minutes, but given that it’s Max Headroom, it hardly matters. Byrne is there to promote True Stories, his only directorial feature, so it must be about a year later than the Sting interview.

The Max Headroom Show, not to be confused with the narrative show Max Headroom, was the original Short Attention Span Theater. As many have noted, it was the perfect plastic entertainment for the Reagan era, so much so that Garry Trudeau in Doonesbury turned the sitting president into an unfunny imitation called Ron Headrest.

In retrospect what’s interesting is that the technology was so evidently driving the car—the technical feat of an electronic Matt Frewer cackling at Sting is actually impressive, but the form was miles ahead of the content. Space Ghost Coast to Coast, which hit in the 1990s, evened the scales a bit more successfully.
 
Max Headroom interviews Sting:

 
Max’s interview with David Byrne after the jump….

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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