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‘Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street’: German TV thriller directed by Sam Fuller with soundtrack by Can
02.11.2016
03:46 pm

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Can
Samuel Fuller


 
My mother was from Austria, and it’s through her that I came to learn of the incredible Tatort TV series that has existed in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria since 1970. There’s nothing really comparable to Tatort in America, although CBS’s practice of setting up CSI franchises in different cities provides a starting point to an explanation, as does the revolving door of homicide detectives in Law & Order.

The basic idea of Tatort is that it’s a police procedural series that exists in roughly a dozen different German-speaking cities—all at the same time. So think of it as a dozen different series with different police protagonists, all of which use the same basic template. Berlin has its Kommissare (police detectives) who work for the Mordkommission (homicide department), and Hamburg has its Kommissare, and so do Munich and Cologne and Leipzig and Münster and Dortmund and on and on. If you shoot a handful of episodes every year in twelve different cities for 40 years in a row, eventually you’ll end up with quite a massive project, and sure enough, as of this writing they’re zeroing in on their thousandth episode.
 

 
Tatort means “scene of the crime,” and one of the central ideas of the series is to take that word Ort (place) very seriously. All episodes use a good deal of on-location shooting, so that viewers can really see the different cities in which the shows take place. In a more general way, it’s part of the series mandate for the shows of each city to have some regional spirit—as an example, the various regional accents one encounters in the different episodes are quite noticeable.

Every episode of Tatort is 90 minutes long, without commercial interruption, and a great many of them start with the discovery of a murder victim’s body and the associated crime scene/forensic palaver with which we’re all familiar. The running length is a mixed blessing: it allows the episodes to probe deeper than comparable American shows, but it’s a bit too long for what is ultimately a formulaic exercise, and I’m not the first to notice that many episodes tend to sag around the midway point. Still: if at its worst a Tatort episode would be on the level of any forgettable Kojak, at its best the episodes attain the same general excellence of something like The Silence of the Lambs.

For those who are interested in the series, Michael Kimmelman’s astute writeup, which appeared in The New York Times in 2009 is worth a read. 

The 25th episode of Tatort aired on January 7, 1973: The episode was called Tote Taube in der Beethovenstraße (“Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street”)  The director was none other than that great American character Samuel Fuller, responsible for such masterworks as Pickup on South Street and Shock Corridor, and the music was provided by a German outfit, credited as “The Can,” that just a few months before had released its fourth album, Ege Bamyasi.
 

 
The episode is set in Bonn and Cologne, mostly. I’ve watched the episode in full, and there’s no denying that it has a certain pulpy pizzazz—Fuller does know what he’s doing—but it’s not much more than a collection of espionage tropes jammed together without too much rhyme or reason. My knowledge of German didn’t enable me to follow the plot, so you shouldn’t worry too much about understanding it, either. A major character is named Charlie Umlaut, which is a tiny bit hilarious. Apparently the plot was inspired somewhat by the Profumo affair in the UK.

In the opening sequence viewers will hear the familiar strains of Can’s hit “Vitamin C,” which was also used to strong effect in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘We Are All Prostitutes’: Lost Pop Group vid discovered days before the song’s reissue. Coincidence?
02.11.2016
11:21 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
The Pop Group


 
When it was released in 1980, Bristol funk terrorists the Pop Group’s second studio album For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? was pretty widely panned. Though the band’s disorientingly noisy No-Wave/punk/funk musical attack had become significantly tighter than on their debut LP Y, singer Mark Stewart cut the brake cables on his lyrical politicking, adopting an uncompromisingly agit-prop “no one is innocent” ethos that was really, REALLY easy to hear as self-righteous finger-pointing. And I get it—one could get ballpark-similar musical kicks from the Contortions or the Birthday Party without feeling like one was being scolded for merely having been born in the First World.

That album has been extremely difficult to obtain legitimately since its first issue in 1980, (further editions do exist, but they’re few, and were released only in Japan) but despite its scarcity, it’s gone on to become the band’s definitive work, along with its contemporary single, “We Are All Prostitutes.” That single had everything that was essential to a Pop Group song—Stewart’s accusations chanted in a terrifying warble, rubber-band bass that sounded like a blind-drunk Larry Graham, guitars so sharp they could cut your throat, and drumming that threatened to shove the rest of the band down a flight of stairs.
 

 
On February 19th, both Mass Murder and the “Prostitutes” single will finally be re-released, after 36 years. The LP is a straightforward re-issue with no bonus goodies save for the addition of “Prostitutes,” and the single contains a non-album track. (The band’s best unreleased material was already compiled on 2014’s Cabinet of Curiosities.) The album’s reputation has significantly grown, in part because the band’s influence has reverberated through the decades despite the difficulties encountered in actually procuring its work, and in part because oh my fucking god we’re seriously still struggling against everything Stewart was yelling about 35 years ago. An edifying exchange between Stewart and Simon Reynolds appears in the latter’s indispensable book Totally Wired:

Reynolds: After Y came “We Are All Prostitutes” and For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder… The lyrics went from being abstract-expressionist to propagandist. Pretty direct protest.

Stewart: The first album was written when I was sixteen or seventeen. But on Y there’s “Don’t Call Me Pain,” about torture, and “The Boys From Brazil,” about Nazis hiding out in South America. So yes, the first one is more mystical, but there’s songs about issues. “Don’t Sell Your Dreams” is one of my favorites of that period—it is poetic but it’s incredibly idealistic and it’s really out there, as pure as you can get.

Reynolds: Still, there was a period around that time…where it seemed like the Pop Group had decided that there was no room any more for music as sheer entertainment or art for art’s sake. That the political imperatives of the time were to urgent to allow for such decadence. In one interview [Pop Group guitarist] Gareth Sager even says it’s trivial to use interview time to talk about the music when they could be talking about serious political issues.

Stewart: It wasn’t really conscious, but there was a fire in our belly. The idea was that if there was a space to use in any kind of media, you had to use it to get out what you really wanted to talk about. It was connected to hanging out with all these radical groups, like People United in Southall, and Race Today. That was a really good magazine run by Linton Kwesi Johnson and Darcus Howe, based out of Brixton, and it was going on about the “Sus” laws—stop and search—which I sang about in “Justice” and “Forces of Oppression” on How Much Longer. Loads of black people were dying in custody. Demonstrations were getting broken up. Race Today was the only thing putting out that information at that time. For us, it was all part of the same thing—the fire, the music and the desire to get these things across. Nobody was talking about it really. It wasn’t party political; there was just this fire about different injustices. It wasn’t this worthy thing, you know. It wasn’t really preaching. The things that excite me—be it a musical form or a lyrical form—often the singing is buried inside the music. So it’s not like giving a fucking speech.

The use of torture is clearly far from a settled matter if you’ve suffered even one GOP presidential debate, and who could fail to see screamingly obvious parallels to the Black Lives Matter movement in that last response? Oh, how far Western Civilization hasn’t come. Stewart may have protested that singing a song is “not like giving a fucking speech,” but when his lyrics are clear, as in the pensively dubby j’accuse “There Are No Spectators,” and the completely fucking groovy indictment of authoritarian corruption “Justice,” um, yeah, it kind of IS like giving a speech.
 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘Nappy Happy’: Radical thinker Angela Davis interviews Ice Cube, 1991
02.11.2016
09:12 am

Topics:
Feminism
Hip-hop
Music
Race
Thinkers

Tags:
Angela Davis
Ice Cube


 
Before the release of Ice Cube’s Death Certificate, renowned black radical Angela Y. Davis interviewed him for Transition Magazine. It’s probably the first and last time a magazine has used a Gramsci quotation to introduce its readers to Ice Cube.

Davis, a former student of Herbert Marcuse, had been targeted by Governor Ronald Reagan in 1969 and 1970, when she was an assistant professor in UCLA’s Philosophy Department. At the governor’s urging, she was fired (twice), and Reagan vowed that she would never teach at the University of California again. Because who was better qualified to evaluate the work of philosophy professors than like Ronald Reagan? (Today, Davis is Distinguished Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies Departments at UC Santa Cruz, and “Reagan” is a pair of syllables that stands for mental decay.) In ‘80, a decade after she was arrested because of her association with the Soledad Brothers, and again in ‘84, she was the vice-presidential candidate on the Communist Party USA ticket.

Ice Cube was coming from a different place. You couldn’t call his analysis Marxist, and “feminist” would have been a real stretch: he was reading The Final Call, not People’s World. This was during the period of Cube’s loudest advocacy for the Nation of Islam—before Friday, long before Are We There Yet?—when he was advocating black self-reliance (“We’ve got to start policing and patrolling our own neighborhoods,” he told Davis), endorsing an anti semitic NOI book called The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, and arguing that the Hon. Elijah Muhammad was more important than Malcolm X. He and Davis had plenty to talk about.
 

Angela Davis and Ice Cube in Transition #58
 
Hip-hop historian Jeff Chang, who thinks this meeting likely took place in July of ‘91, writes in Can’t Stop Won’t Stop that publicist Leyla Turkkan set up the interview, hoping it would position Ice Cube as “an inheritor of the Black radical tradition.” Chang continues:

The interview was a provocative idea—one that both Davis and Cube welcomed. But none of them had any idea how the conversation would turn when they got together in Cube’s Street Knowledge business offices.

To begin with, Davis only heard a few tracks from the still unfinished album [Death Certificate], including “My Summer Vacation,” “Us” and a track called “Lord Have Mercy,” which never made it to the album. She did not hear the song that would become most controversial—a rap entitled “Black Korea.” In another way, she was at a more fundamental disadvantage in the conversation.

Like Davis, Cube’s mother had grown up in the South. After moving to Watts, she had come of age as a participant in the 1965 riots. While Cube and his mother were close, they often argued about politics and his lyrics. Now it was like Cube was sitting down to talk with his mother. Davis was at a loss the way any parent is with her child at the moment he’s in the fullest agitation of his becoming.

Cube sat back behind his glass desk in a black leather chair, the walls covered with framed gold records and posters for Boyz N The Hood and his albums. Copies of URB, The Source and The Final Call were laid out in front of him. Davis asked Cube how he felt about the older generation.

“When I look at older people, I don’t think they feel that they can learn from the younger generation. I try and tell my mother things that she just doesn’t want to hear sometimes,” he answered.

There’s more, after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Louder than a bomb: Public Enemy’s intense extended live set on Dutch TV from 1988
02.11.2016
08:50 am

Topics:
Heroes
Hip-hop
Music

Tags:
1980s
Public Enemy
Holland

Public Enemy - Chuck D, DJ Terminator X and Flavor Flav
Public Enemy - Chuck D, DJ Terminator X and Flavor Flav
 
1988 was a huge year for Public Enemy. That year they released their second record, one of the most important records in history (hip-hop or not), It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and toured all around the world in support of the album, to insanely enthusiastic, packed house crowds.

I saw PE on that tour, and it was like nothing else that I’d ever seen before. Everything about that show was in fact, harder than the hardcore. Love them or hate them, everybody knew who Public Enemy was in 1988. Even in the Netherlands.
 
Public Enemy, 1988
 
During the tour, PE found themselves in Holland and made an appearance on a Dutch music television show called Fa. Onrust. During the show, Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff, and DJ Terminator X rip through “Night of the Living Baseheads,” “Rebel Without a Pause,” “Bring the Noise,” and “Don’t Believe the Hype.” If that’s not enough for you, Run DMC just happened to be in Holland themselves at exactly the same time, and Joseph Simmons/DJ Run and Darryl “D.M.C.” Matthews joined PE on stage to kick out their 1988 track, “How’d Ya Do It Dee?” from Tougher Than Leather. Damn.
 
Public Enemy and Run DMC on Dutch television, 1988
Public Enemy and Run DMC on Dutch television, 1988. Chuck is asking the audience to throw up the “peace sign”
 
Despite all the good times that you will see in the video below, there is a slightly uncomfortable interview segment with the two (rather clueless) female hosts of the show. The interview was already going off the rails—thanks to the always brutally honest Professor Griff)—but then the always eloquent Chuck D. decides to give a pop quiz his hosts about the Netherlands’ political system, which they obviously don’t know a lot about…

Here come the drums!
 

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
An actual rose bush plays ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn’
02.10.2016
02:31 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Music

Tags:
Poison
pain


 
What’s that, friend? You say you’re narcotized by modern life, and Cupid’s arrow has lost its sting? Love just doesn’t hurt like it used to do?

If hearing Bret Michaels serenade Rock of Love contestants with his 1988 hit “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” wasn’t painful enough for you, artist Michael Ridge has come up with just the thing to give this hoary old power ballad some spice. With the aid of a contact mike, Ridge has figured out how to play Poison’s hit on his turntable using a branch from a rose bush in place of a stylus arm, and like actual thorns doing the needle’s job.

Remember that one relationship that “really put you through some changes”? It felt just like this sounds. As I type this, I am suffering serious chest pain!
 

 
Thanks to Aaron Dilloway and John Olson of Violent Ramp

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Doin’ the do with Betty Boo, the original spice girl
02.10.2016
12:22 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Betty Boo


 
If you are say, 35 years of age and up, hearing the opening bars of “Doin’ the Do,” the 1990 smash hit single by Betty Boo will probably bring an instant smile of recognition to your face. I could easily “name that tune” with just the very first note, and so can many of you reading this very sentence, I’m pretty sure. If you are younger than 35, however then you probably only know it as that catchy song they always play at LA Fitness during your spinning class.

Betty Boo was the original Spice Girl—it’s fairly well documented that Chris Herbert, one of the music biz managers who originally “manufactured” the Spice Girls was looking for “five Betty Boos”—but this is not to imply that Boo—real name Alison Clarkson—was a pre-fab pop star because she was anything but, not only writing, but producing much of her debut album, the platinum-selling Boomania. She was the real deal, even if this was not widely recognized during her brief fame.
 

 
When she was 16 and still in school, Clarkson joined a Salt-n-Pepa influenced rap trio called She Rockers. In a chance encounter in 1988 with Public Enemy’s “Minister of Information” Professor Griff in a McDonald’s in Shepherd’s Bush—incredibly caught on video—the cheeky young Clarkson performed an impromptu rap with Griff’s “beatbox” accompaniment. This led to She Rockers going to New York where Griff produced their debut single “Give it a Rest.” She Rockers also opened for PE during some American tour dates, but Clarkson soon left the group.

Back in London, she attended a course at the Holloway School of Audio Engineering and sang as a guest vocalist on a hit single by the Beatmasters, “Hey DJ / I Can’t Dance (To That Music You’re Playing)” in 1989, which led to her getting signed as a solo artist. With the financial windfall from the Beatmasters collaboration, Clarkson loaded up on audio equipment—samplers, sequencers, keyboards—so Betty Boo could do her own do. Boomania, which spawned three hit singles, was largely self-produced on her own equipment in her own bedroom, and written by Clarkson herself.

When Boomania came out, I played the shit out of that record. Pure pop perfection in a glossy pop art package. What’s not to love? The album’s first single was “Doin’ the Do.” The way she spits out her brassy, sassy rap out here is razor-sharp. Monie Love-level good!
 

“Doin’ the Do”

If you don’t think that song is absolutely amazing, please stop reading this blog. I hate you.

Annoyingly, she was seldom given full credit for her accomplishments, not even for her own highly original fashion sense!

Clarkson lamented to The Independent in 1992:

‘When you’re a girl and you make pop music, it’s assumed you haven’t got a mind of your own. But it was me who wanted the Emma Peel look.’

And she chose her musical style, too, that blend of rap and frothy pop. ‘I like the Beatles, the Monkees. I like dinky sounds. I’d like to sound like the young Michael Jackson - sweet.’ She did a course at the Holloway School of Audio Engineering and co-produces her recordings. She says it sometimes irks her how little credit she gets for that, but she offsets her frustration with the thought that ‘the people who buy my records like the sound of my voice and the tune; they’re not interested in credits’

 

 
I met Betty Boo in New York in the summer of 1990. It was in a nightclub where I was working at the time called Mars on the Westside Highway just below 14th street. I think it was her publicist from Sire Records who introduced us. I told her that I really loved Boomania and congratulated her on the clever use of the “morse code” Reparata and the Delrons interpolation (it’s not really a sample) from “Captain of Your Ship” in “Doin’ the Do,” which she seemed quite pleased someone had noticed. Obviously, she was a complete knockout and although she would have only been 20 at the time, she was reserved and serious, giving the impression of being someone who was very much in control of her own destiny. She didn’t in any way act all full of herself, either, as you would expect a young person thrust suddenly into that kind of rockstar fame might behave. I thought she’d go on to become a big star, but her second album, Grrr! It’s Betty Boo—which is excellent, too—sold disappointingly. She was on the verge of signing with Madonna’s newly formed Maverick Records—Madonna has praised Betty Boo several times in interviews—when her mother became terminally ill and she took time off to care for her, and later her grandmother, effectively abandoning her performing career.
 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Stranger in a Strange Land’: 1987 documentary on Nick Cave from Dutch TV
02.10.2016
11:53 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Nick Cave


 
One of the first images in “Nick Cave: Stranger in a Strange Land” is a glimpse of the Berlin Wall, which (it’s strange to imagine) would only be in use for a couple more years. “Stranger in a Strange Land” was produced in 1987 by Bram van Splunteren, and it appeared on the Dutch TV channel VPRO. I saw the second half of this movie when I was living in Austria in the early to mid-1990s, so it’s a pleasure to come across it again!

Cave lived in Berlin in the 1980s, during which he appeared in one of the greatest movies of all time, Wim Wenders’ Das Himmel Über Berlin, known to English speakers as Wings of Desire.

Giving the crew a tour of his digs, Cave says one of those things only Nick Cave would say, glumly referencing “my collection of German Gothic paintings, my gun, and my desk.” Later he grabs his “little black book,” which is a little album containing some startling religious iconography, some of which made it into the artwork for the 1986 album Your Funeral ... My Trial.

There’s some bracing footage of Cave with the Birthday Party as well as rehearsals with the Bad Seeds, during which Cave belts out the chorus to “Yesterday,” of all possible things. In the rehearsal we see them do a version of “The Singer,” which appears on Kicking Against The Pricks.

The voiceover is in Dutch, but the interviews with Cave, Blixa Bargeld, Mick Harvey and so on are in English. Mark E. Smith pops up unexpectedly, Cave makes a joke about “two hugely intelligent frontmen.”
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Guided By Voices on ‘Oddville, MTV,’ 1997


 
Just a year and a half since Dangerous Minds reported on Guided By Voices’ breakup comes the news that the band’s ringleader and lone constant member Bob Pollard has reunited the band yet again—kinda. The group was announced as the headliner of the Sled Island festival in Calgary, Alberta, and various credible outlets have reported that a new GBV album is in the works with Pollard playing every instrument. Which would seem like less of a “reunion” and more of an indication of Pollard’s evident willingness to keep hauling the GBV name out of storage for as long as obsessives are willing to line up to buy yet another GBV album—with the recent release of the fourth installment of the blood-from-a-stone “Suitcase” series of multi-CD sets full of alternate takes and discarded songs only underscoring that point. The move of calling a solo album Guided By Voices might not sit well with those subsets of the band’s fandom that hold that it’s not truly Guided By Voices without early ‘90s guitarist Tobin Sprout or later-era-defining guitarist Doug Gillard, but then this turned up on Twitter:
 

 
Bobby Bare, Jr. is a highly noteworthy roots rocker. Kevin March was the drummer of GBV’s previous final lineup. Nick Mitchell is Pollard’s (and March’s) collaborator in the band Ricked Wicky, and Mark Shue was the bassist for The Library Is On Fire, connected to GBV via producer Todd Tobias. This is just the live lineup, and there’s no indication that this will be a creative unit, but whatever shows that ensemble does should probably be pretty goddamn good. Snobbier uberdorks who haven’t gotten over the fact that Guided By Voices is whatever Bob Pollard wants it to be are 100% guaranteed to cry foul about the lack of past members anyway, but this sort of thing has happened before.
 

 
In 1997, Pollard jettisoned the band’s entire lineup and replaced them with the arty glam-punk band Cobra Verde, a supergroup with members of Death of Samantha, garage-punks The Reactions, and power-metalists Breaker. That version of the band committed the GBV sacrilege of recording most of the album Mag Earwhig! in an actual multitrack studio, an apostasy that was rewarded when the Gillard-penned single “I Am A Tree,” originally released by his own band Gem, became one of GBV’s most revered fan-favorites. “Guided By Verde” only lasted the one album; ironically, that major GBV lineup shuffle provoked a major shakeup in Cobra Verde, as well. Gillard remained in GBV with Pollard (and quite edifyingly, at that) while CV’s honcho John Petkovic ended up carrying on with an entirely new band, himself.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
5 minutes of Judas Priest’s frontman Rob Halford holding that high note of his
02.10.2016
09:07 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music

Tags:
Judas Priest
Rob Halford


 
What I like about this video is that’s it’s a supercut of Rob Halford’s infamous high note. It’s not just one long 5-minute high note to test your patience. I watched this all the way through and afterwards immediately grabbed a glass of water to whet my whistle because… ouch. I don’t know how he does it.

 
via WFMU on Twitter

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Vintage 1970s Warhol / Velvet Underground-inspired banana record player


 
Over on Etsy, there’s a Warhol/Velvet Underground-inspired portable banana-shaped record player from the 1970s for sale. The asking price is $1500. That seems a bit steep to me, but truth be told, I’ve never seen one of these before. They must be pretty scarce!

From the write-up on Etsy:

Ok, folks. I bought this record player because the time to buy something you have never seen is when you see it. And I am a huge Warhol fan. At the time, I could find no information on this. A friend was able to find this old advertising for it in an old Speigel catalog. In searching the internet, there are only 2 of these known. There is one in Indianapolis that a guy has from his youth- a present from his grandmother. The other one is in the Banana Museum in California. I even wrote to the Warhol Foundation to find out if there was any kind of affiliation, but they had never heard anything about this and had no record. They came up with the same information I did. Mine is not perfect, it shows wear and I cannot determine if the black markings on this have been redone or if they are original- looking at the picture in the ad, it is still hard to tell, but they look rough to me. I still love this. It runs properly at all 3 speeds, but it will need a needle. The cord is in good condition and the case locks as it should. The ad touts that this will play in any position, even upside-down, but I would not suggest such a thing, as it cannot be good for your records.

If you’re interested in it or want to contact seller, click here.


 

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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