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Black Sabbath’s cover of ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ from 1970 is a lyrical massacre
10:42 am


Black Sabbath

Ozzy Osbourne, photo by Chis Walter
Don’t worry, I know the shoes!
Back in 2004 when Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi was working the press circuit for the release of Black Box: The Complete Original Black Sabbath (1970-1978), he noted that the collection would include the band’s obscure cover of Carl Perkins 1955 rockabilly classic, “Blue Suede Shoes.” The track was also released by New Millennium Communications in 1999 on a compilation called, Black Mass.

According to Iommi, Sabbath decided to play the uptempo number during one of their recording sessions for the German TV show Beat-Club in May of 1970. Their performance (which aired on Beat-Club episode #55) of “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Black Sabbath” were both recorded on Beat-Club‘s soundstage. The band then recorded two other tracks, “Iron Man” and “Paranoid” at Radio Bremen studios in Bremen, Germany that would later air as part of their appearance on Beat-Club on episode #59.

During the interview, Iommi makes it pretty clear that the decision to play “Blue Suede Shoes” was a “joke” and really just “a run-through for the cameras.” Something that the band never intended or expected to be seen by anyone outside of the studio, much less heard. The greatest part of all this is the fact that Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne really didn’t know the lyrics to the song at all. I give you this fantastic example straight from Ozzy’s mouth:

I know a girl who lives next door/she’d be in the kitchen/with an eye on the wall

And it only gets worse. Damn. How the band keep a straight face during this performance is beyond me. Perhaps the LSD hadn’t kicked in yet? Maybe Ozzy was sober? Whatever the case may be, it seems that this was the one and only time the band was captured on video performing “Blue Suede Shoes”. 
Black Sabbath circa 1970's
Black Sabbath and rubber chicken
The video below includes onscreen subtitles for Ozzy’s mixed-up lyrics. It is two-minutes of hilarity. I’ve also included video of the band’s entire appearance on Beat-Club from 1970 for your viewing pleasure. Double O, double Z… why? FTW!

Black Sabbath performing “Blue Suede Shoes” on Beat-Club (episode #55) with Ozzy’s new “lyrics.”
More Sabbath after the jump…

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‘They call me Jurassic Mod’: Brits of a certain age, still deep into their subcultures

Isobel Varley
For his series Rebels Without A Pause, British photographer Muir Vidler captured the most daring and stylish renegades “of a certain age.” Muir seems to specialize in surreal portraiture, extreme events and settings with the odd flash of quiet. Other series include Israeli death metal fans, a circumcision party in the Maldives, and a beauty pageant in Libya, complete with a cameo by the late Colonel Gaddafi. His elder rebel study however, has an intimate feel, with little sense of spectacle to the staging.

Take for example, Isobel Varley (above), who held the Guinness World Record for the most tattooed female pensioner up until her death just this last May at the age of 77. Varley only started getting tattoos at 48, but went on to cover every square inch of her body except her face, her ears, the soles of her feet, and parts of her hands—even her scalp is tattooed, underneath the cute blond coif. Varley isn’t the only local celeb either. You can see video below of one of Muir’s most charming subjects, Paul Elvis Chan, who used to perform his Elvis impersonation act before a delighted audience at his Chinese restaurant.

My favorite though is Danny Lynch—aka, the Great Stromboli, who did his fire-breathing act for Muir with his adorable wife in the background. Muir remembers her as very hospitable:

Yeah, she was going into the house to make a cup of tea. She said, “Cup of tea darling?”, I said OK, then all of a sudden he was blowing fire and she was dashing off to put the kettle on. With the dog and the station wagon in the photo too, it was a very suburban backdrop.

Isn’t it so terribly quaint?


Mick and Peggy Warner, whose son is a Teddy Boy

John G. Byrne, gay skinhead since 1969

Sid Ellis, who says “In my spare time I either go to fetish clubs or do needlepoint. I like medieval tapestries.”
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘It Conquered the World’: The sci-fi atrocity that inspired Frank Zappa
07:11 am


Frank Zappa
Roger Corman

“Cheepnis,” from Roxy & Elsewhere, is probably the most upful rock number in Frank Zappa’s catalog, celebrating two of the maestro’s favorite pleasures: eating hot dogs and watching monster movies. The song begins with a short monologue about Roger Corman’s 1956 no-budget classic, It Conquered the World:

Let me tell you something, do you like monster movies? Anybody? I love monster movies. I simply adore monster movies, and the cheaper they are, the better they are. And cheapness, in the case of a monster movie, hsa nothing to do with the budget of the film—although it helps—but true cheapness is exemplified by visible nylon strings attached to the jaw of a giant spider. I’ll tell you a good one that I saw one time, I think the name of the film was IT CONQUERED THE WORLD. Did you ever see that one? The monster looks sort of like an inverted ice cream cone with teeth around the bottom. It looks like a teepee or sort of a rounded-off pup-tent affair, and it’s got fangs on the base of it, I don’t know why, but it’s a very threatening sight. And he’s got a frown, and, y’know, ugly mouth and everything, and there’s this one scene where the monster is coming out of a cave, see? There’s always a scene where they come out of the cave, at least once. And the rest of the cast—it must have been made around the 1950s—the lapels are about like that wide, the ties are about that wide, and they’re about this short, and they always have a little revolver that they’re gonna shoot the monster with, and there’s always a girl who falls down and twists her ankle. [Laughs] Of course there is! You know how they are. The weaker sex and everything, twisting their ankle on behalf of the little ice-cream cone. Well, in this particular scene—in this scene, folks, they didn’t want to retake it because it must have been so good, they wanted to keep it—but when the monster came out of the cave, just over on the left-hand side of the screen, you can see about this much two-by-four attached to the bottom of the thing as the guy is pushing it out. And then, obviously, off-camera somebody’s going “No, get it back!” and they drag it back just a little bit as the guy’s going [gunshots]. Now that’s cheapness. And this is “Cheepnis” here.


It’s hard to believe Peter Graves was ever this young. He plays the wholesome scientist Dr. Paul Nelson, who plays by the rules and approves of the status quo, as against his best friend Dr. Tom Anderson (Lee Van Cleef), the movie’s Promethean/Satanic figure, who wants to improve humanity by subjecting it to the rule of a superintelligent Venusian he talks to on his ham radio. To that end, he helps the space creature land in a cave in the West Valley, which it prefers to the doctors’ neighborhood, Beachwood Canyon (superintelligent, huh?). From its subterranean lair in Agoura Hills, the monster gives birth to space bats that enslave the powerful by biting their necks, and suddenly everyone’s a pod person. See what happens when you try to improve humanity? When will we ever learn to accept things exactly as they are?

Incidentally, Beverly Garland’s character, who Zappa remembers as “the girl who falls down and twists her ankle,” is the only badass in the movie; she tells the space creature “I hate your living guts!” and “I’ll see you in hell!” before she makes it eat lead. Also featured: the most clueless impersonation of a Mexican person in the history of celluloid.

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
The Grateful Dead guide to dealing with a bad LSD trip
12:24 pm


Grateful Dead

This weekend, the Grateful Dead is playing their last shows ever in Chicago, so they won’t be needing these notably square-minded security guidelines as to how to deal with LSD, instructions that were recently “leaked” according to WAXQ-FM 104.3 radio station in New York City, also known as “the Q.”

For a larger image of the guidelines, click here.

According to the sheet, “Guests may ‘see’ images, ‘hear’ sounds, and/or ‘feel’ sensations that do not actually exist.” The flyer breaks down good versus bad experiences, with the latter, a.k.a. an “upsetting experience,” consisting of the following:

May be combative.
Pose a danger to themselves or other guests,”
Disregards the presence and personal space of other people.
Poor judgement, may misjudge distances, height, and strength.
May act on their increased sensuality (removing clothes, PDA, etc.)
Confused or disoriented to their surrounding.


This flyer was clearly intended for security personnel and not regular concert attendees, but even so, it strikes me as a little bit judgy for a Dead show.

Interestingly, the flyer also states that you should not refer to people under the influence of LSD as “tripping”—they are experiencing “IPR” (intense psychedelic response).

I always figured that at Grateful Dead shows, they just showed everyone there President Carter’s solution for dealing with a bad trip, as embodied by Dan Aykroyd on Saturday Night Live in March 1977. Jimmy’s idea was, take some Vitamin B-complex and some Vitamin C-complex and have a beer. Then mellow out to some Allman Brothers or perhaps even….. the Grateful Dead.

via Death and Taxes

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Rare and treasured 1977 LP by heavy teen rockers Midnight to be reissued by Drag City
09:47 am


private press
'70s rock

Into The Night cover
In 1974, four teenage kids from the Chicago area formed the rock band Midnight. The boys, Dave Hill (organ, vocals), Frank Anastos (guitar), Scott Marquart (drums), and John Falstrom (bass), met while taking lessons at an area music store. Inspired by the rock titans of the day (including Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, and Deep Purple), the group developed a raw, heavy sound. By 1975, they were performing at high schools and parties. Fast-forward a year, and they were gigging at colleges and clubs in and around Chicago, even though they were still in high school at the time. Mixed in with covers of tunes by their heroes, Midnight had started working original compositions into their live sets. In the fall of 1977, mere months after they graduated high school, they went in the studio to record the songs that would make up their lone LP.
Labor Day, 1976
Labor Day, 1976

While the songs on Into The Night show the influence of the groups they loved, the guys incorporated the styles of those bands in a way they could call their own—the heaviness of Sabbath, the metallic crunch and acoustic touches of Zeppelin, the organ rock of Deep Purple, and the swagger of Aerosmith. It’s all there, but woven into a sound that’s uniquely Midnight. Interestingly, there are moments when they bring to mind a more obscure outfit, Pentragram, one of the first American groups to show an obvious debt to Sabbath. I recently corresponded with bassist John Falstrom, and he told me that they didn’t know about Pentagram back in the day, so it’s just a case of heavy minds thinking alike.

Naturally, the songwriting has much to do with their distinctiveness, with Dave, Frank, and John all contributing. Lyrically, the ten tunes on Into The Night alternate between straightforward tales concerning girls and the band itself, and more out-there subject matter. John says that one his numbers, the brooding title track, is about “invisible vampires that would come and take you away with their claws and burn you at the stake to rid the world of all of its liars.” A song like Frank’s “Smoke My Cigarettes” may be more standard, lyrically, but rocks with a fire that can’t be extinguished. As for the arrangements, the band worked on them as a unit, cooking up tracks that were all about dynamics. The material is played on a pro level—one that belies their years—yet passionately executed. The actual recordings have a rough edge, resulting in an LP that sounds a whole lot more alive than the polished major label rock albums of the era.
Dave Hill’s choice of organ was another element that made Midnight distinctive. Dave used a Vox, once favored by ‘60s garage rock bands, but its thin sound was out of vogue by the time the ‘70s were in full swing (imagine if Deep Purple had hired the “96 Tears” organist). Dave also sang lead and the group recorded four of his tunes for Into The Night. His mysterious “Auto-Kinetic Illusion” is among those in which the text is difficult to penetrate. It’s also the most dynamic track on the album, with many shifts in mood and tempo. A microcosm of the entire LP in four minutes; as the band moves between their quiet and heavy sides, the lyrics are clear-cut, metaphoric, and indecipherable. John: “The song evolved out of Dave staring at the dark sky at night for hours and images (illusions) would appear.” At times, the words seem to allude to death. Dave’s father was in a state of decline around the time “Auto-Kinetic Illusion” was written, which John believes influenced the content. Dave did not respond to Facebook messages asking for his input with this article.

The group self-released Into the Night, pressing up 500 copies for an early 1978 release, though they didn’t bother to promote it much. This was largely due to the fact that they were evolving as a unit at a fast clip—so much so, that they rarely played the material in a live setting. To the band, the songs that made up Into The Night were already old news.

Midnight called it quits in 1980. Frank and John still play in a band together, and they both teach music lessons at the same store where the boys of Midnight met all those years ago. At some point, collectors became aware of the greatness of their 1977 LP, and in 2012 a copy of Into The Night sold for 200 bucks.
Thankfully, the good folks at Drag City (in conjunction with Galactic Zoo Disk) are re-releasing Into The Night at a much more affordable price on July 17th. In the meantime, check out audio clips and pre-order the LP.

Here’s “Auto-Kinetic Illusion”:

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
They have Nick Cave dolls now? I want one!
08:12 am


Nick Cave

L.A. based pop-artist Plasticgod has created a series of Nick Cave figures that he’ll be debuting at San Diego Comic-Con on July 9th. (Also debuting at Comic-Con: new Star Wars Stormtrooper figures. Different strokes for different geeks, right?) Each is based on a Cave song title. There’s the “Red Right Hand

Two slightly different designs for “Babe, You Turn Me On



More Nick Cave dolls after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Check out the Pink Mice, Lucifer’s Friend’s amazing classical-prog side project
07:52 am


Lucifer's Friend
Pink Mice

If the early works of prog-metal eclecticists Lucifer’s Friend aren’t on your radar, you’re missing out. Their incredible self-titled debut sat comfortably between Sabbath, Purple, and Zeppelin, and easily equaled all three bands on the mohs scale, establishing norms that would eventually serve as an acknowledged influence on plenty of underground metal to follow, especially doom. (The horn parts on “Ride the Sky” also sparked a still unsettled debate over whether they or Zeppelin ripped off “Bali Ha’i” first…) Their second album, Where the Groupies Killed the Blues, spiked that sound with tricky, meandering, jazz-inspired passages, adding another layer of depth. It was pretty much all downhill from there—I’m Just a Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer was a disappointing stab at commercial hard rock that just sounds like better-Styx-meets-worse-Grand-Funk, and though they’d rebound with 1974’s Banquet, they never again reached their early heights. The predominately German band’s lone English member, singer John Lawton, bailed in the mid-‘70s to join swords-and-sorcery-rockers Uriah Heep, and the band continued with various lineups until 1982. A 1994 reunion under the name Lucifer’s Friend II wasn’t worth the trouble, and they released another reunion album, Awakening, earlier this year. I haven’t heard it, but the fact that keyboardist Peter Hecht isn’t on it doesn’t bode well. I could be wrong.

That’s Lawton on the left. You can disregard him for the rest of this post.

Contemporary to the band’s early, top-shelf work, Lucifer’s Friend minus Lawton had a lesser-known symphonic rock project called the Pink Mice, whose two albums, In Action and In Synthesizer Sound, are both worth digging for. Both albums are entirely comprised of rock versions of classical pieces, but unlike ELP’s tediously bombastic, showoffy take on that shopworn prog conceit, Pink Mice actually ROCK. Check out their update of Beethoven’s indelible “Für Elise” and “Moonlight Sonata.” Shit gets hectic about five and a half minutes in…

Here’s “Anita’s Dance, ” from Edvard Grieg’s music for Peer Gynt, act 4. Awesome, but even though a million other prog bands have done it, I wish they’d also recorded “Hall of the Mountain King” from act 2. You’d know it if you heard it.

More Pink Mice after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘The world’s worst orchestra,’ featuring Brian Eno on clarinet
06:34 am


Brian Eno
Portsmouth Sinfonia

Do orchestral musicians really have to practice four to six hours a day? Yes and no. It’s true that groups like the Chicago Philharmonic expect their members to know “notes,” “chords” and “scales.” If you don’t, they won’t let you join, and they won’t even let you play along with them during their concerts. But not all classical musicians are such fucking snobs. If your body temperature is in the neighborhood of 98 degrees Fahrenheit, congratulations! You’ve just passed the audition. You’ve got all the chops you need to play in Gavin Bryarspeople’s orchestra, the Portsmouth Sinfonia.

Inactive since the 70s, the Sinfonia once welcomed musicians and non-musicians alike, though people of talent were expected to play instruments on which they were not proficient, and all members were expected to play the repertoire to the best of their abilities. The result was a special kind of cacophony: every familiar theme (Also sprach Zarathustra, the William Tell Overture, Beethoven’s Fifth), though played as ineptly as possible, was approached with respect and even care. You will instantly recognize every tune they attempt, and you will probably bust a gut.

The orchestra’s most famous member, Brian Eno, produced (and played clarinet on) the debut album Portsmouth Sinfonia Plays The Popular Classics. Eno also appeared on the live Hallelujah, a recording of the orchestra’s triumphant 1974 performance at the Royal Albert Hall, and the Sinfonia put in an appearance on Eno’s Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), contributing the seasick strings to “Put A Straw Under Baby.” In this short clip from the Royal Albert Hall show, you can see Eno singing the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah (scroll down for more of this performance):

From the sleeve of Popular Classics, here are Eno’s reflections on the Portsmouth Sinfonia:

The Portsmouth Sinfonia usually claims a membership of about fifty – the number fluctuates. Within the orchestra is represented the full range of musical competence – some members playing difficult instruments for the first time, others, on the other hand, of concert standard. This tends to generate an extra-ordinary and unique musical situation where the inevitable errors must be considered as a crucial, if inadvertent, element of the music.

It is important to stress the main characteristic of the orchestra: that all members of the Sinfonia share the desire to play the pieces as accurately as possible. One supposes that the possibility of professional accuracy will forever elude us since there is a constant influx of new members and a continual desire to attempt more ambitious pieces from the realms of the popular classics.

My own involvement in the Sinfonia is on two levels – I am a non-musician in the sense of never having “studied music”, yet at the same time, I notice that many of the more significant contributions to rock music and, to a lesser extent, avant-garde music have been made by enthusiastic amateurs and dabblers. Their strength is that they are able to approach the task of music-making without previously acquired solutions and without a too firm concept of what is and what is not musically possible. Coupled with this, and consequent to it, is a current fascination with the role of ‘the accident’ in structured activities.

Legend has it that Beethoven, among other composers, enjoyed performances of his music by enthusiastic music-makers who may well have possessed a similar range of abilities to those of the members of the Sinfonia.

Whether he would have enjoyed our rendering of his Fifth Symphony is, of course, something we will never know.

Eno Sept. 1973

More from the Portsmouth Sinfonia, after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
King Buzzo goes mansion shopping
06:20 am


King Buzzo

An amusing side-effect of the ‘90s post-Nirvana OMFG SIGN EVERY BAND WITH WEIRD CLOTHES RIGHT NOW moment was the attention given to quality strivers who would likely have escaped the mainstream radar altogether had the corporate music sector not taken to throwing entire scenes at the wall to see what would stick. And while yes, we had to suffer the temporary ubiquity of 4 Non Blondes and Crash Test Dummies, moments like this almost made up for it: sometime in the mid-‘90s, MTV took Melvins singer/guitarist King Buzzo mansion shopping in Beverly Hills.

I’m having trouble pinning down the actual date of this, but judging from Buzzo’s hair, my best guess would be between 1994-1996ish, give or take. (And I love the idea of Buzzo’s hair functioning as rock ‘n’ roll carbon-dating. Surely someday it’ll serve as an oracle.) This was squarely within the short period during which Melvins were on Atlantic records, but though they’d influenced very very successful bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden, the Melvins themselves weren’t really filling stadia in accordance with their accolades. Which, along with Buzzo’s natural charm and warped sense of humor (that ridiculous fake evil laugh gets me every time), is exactly what makes this video hilarious—America’s love affair with quality notwithstanding, he’s not a guy who’s ever going to be buying a Beverly Hills mansion.

Hanging with Kim Thayil? Cool, no doubt, but no mansion. Maybe a nice bungalow?

Hanging out with Kurt Cobain? STILL no mansion. Sorry, Mr. Influential.

And he hammers that point home at the end, attempting to pay for the place with indie-cred, in the form of magazine articles full of accolades for how influential he was. But of course, all that influence didn’t really make Melvins any real cash. The real estate agent, who took this shameless waste of her time in admirable stride, then proceeds to state the incontrovertible fact artists of all stripes have been trying to tell cheapshit clients for ages: praise and exposure for your work don’t support you if you don’t get MONEY for it. And really, in that era of overwrought and myopic Fugazi-purity, that it took a goofy prank on a real estate agent to point out something so screamingly obvious is actually kind of unsurprising.

By the way, Melvins are on tour, and Butthole Surfer Jeff Pinkus is serving as their bassist (he and BHS guitarist Paul Leary played on the last Melvins album Hold It In). If there’s a show coming your way, do try to make it out to see them. After over 30 years, they still bring it HARD.

Thanks, Rob Galo, for letting me know this exists.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘The Name is Bootsy, Baby,’ the 1996 Bootsy Collins cartoon that never quite got off the ground
06:10 am


Bootsy Collins

Bootsy Collins is very much responsible for the insane cartoon pilot you see below. Named after his 1977 album, “The Name is Bootsy, Baby” is actually pretty fantastic; our titular hero uses his superhuman funk powers to surf through space (on his magical star bass, of course), fight crime, save hot ladies, and… battle vikings and dragons? He still makes time for the music and his legion of fans, but when some wannabe suit tries to jack his spotlight, Bootsy is forced yet again to battle the forces of anti-funk. Okay, so the premise is a little thin, but I remember 1996, and there were way more abominable attempts to sell merchandise and breakfast cereal than this one.

The cartoon wasn’t some two-bit operation either! Executive Producer Abby Terkuhle was responsible for some of MTV’s best animation—Aeon Flux, Daria, and Beavis and Butt-Head, just to name a few. Mike Judge, who gave us the voices of Beavis, Butt-Head, Hank Hill and more, lent his ridiculous vocal cords to the project. Bootsy voiced himself of course, and composed the music, but he also received a writer, director and producer credit. Obviously, “The Name is Bootsy Baby” never really got off the ground, but it’s rumored the cartoon was played before shows, making animated Bootsy his own opening act. That is some seriously meta-funkiness!

Via Network Awesome

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
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