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Brian Wilson’s haunting rendition of ‘Surf’s Up’ is just one highlight of this amazing 1967 pop doc


 
On April 25, 1967, CBS ran a special documentary that had been put together by David Oppenheim called Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution. The program was significant on a number of fronts. First, the hour-long program has been called in some quarters the first documentary about rock and roll ever made. There had certainly been ample treatment in feature films (mainly the Beatles) of the new forms of pop music that were budding in that decade as well as ample news coverage—whether Inside Pop merits this distinction I will leave for others to debate.

What is clearer is that the program represents almost certainly the first sustained effort to make a positive case for pop music to a mainstream audience on national TV. In other words, if the generational divide caused all cultural matters to be filtered through an “us” versus “them” filter, Inside Pop made no bones about debating the aesthetic and cultural merits of Herman’s Hermits, the Hollies, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, etc. from “their” perspective, from the perspective of those who had not instinctually embraced the new music.

Oppenheim’s resume up to that moment neatly illustrates the point, having made his reputation through working with figures such as Igor Stravinsky and Pablo Casals. Not long after making this program, Oppenheim was hired as Dean of NYU’s School of the Arts, which he has been credited with transforming into a first-rate cultural arts institution. (His son Jonathan Oppenheim edited the groundbreaking documentary Paris Is Burning.)

The program is divided into two halves. The first half is given almost entirely over to Leonard Bernstein, whose credibility as a cultural commentator to the mass audience at that moment can hardly be overstated. Bernstein had been music director of the New York Philharmonic for roughly a decade and had also composed the operetta Candide as well as West Side Story, and if you had asked ten moderately informed citizens in 1962 what American was best known for his work in classical music, probably all of them would have named Bernstein.

As stated, the first half of the program belongs to Bernstein—he is seated at a piano, playing snippets of songs by the Monkees, the Beatles, the Left Banke, and so on, and making observations about unexpected key changes as well as the skillful manipulation of Lydian and Mixolydian modes, whatever they might be. Bernstein goes out of his way to call 95% of pop music “trash” but nevertheless, his essential curiosity and openness to new forms would be impossible to miss. It would have been difficult indeed for such a presentation to be entirely devoid of fuddy-duddy-ism, but it’s truly an impressive performance—if only TV nowadays had similar semi-improv’d disquisitions on music by qualified commentators. Oh, and halfway through it all Bernstein brings in 15-year-old Janis Ian to sing “Society’s Child,” her hitherto blacklisted song about an interracial relationship, which incidentally soon became a hit after being heard on national television.
 

 
The second half of the program is a conventional narrated documentary focusing on the West Coast music scene with some British Invaders mixed in. Frank Zappa pops up and says a few sardonic things. Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits and Graham Nash of the Hollies get into an animated post-gig debate about the efficacy of pop music in bringing about societal change (Noone pessimistic, Nash optimistic). Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, still going by “Jim” at that point, materializes to tell every adult in America that “the drug revolution is just coming about and there are gonna be a lot of heads rolling from it,” which I’m sure went over like gangbusters.

The program gets a little boring around the 2/3 mark by focusing too long on Herman’s Hermits, who whatever else their virtues are don’t make a good case for groundbreaking trends in music, but hang on because Oppenheim saves the best for last, an extended in-studio rendition of “Surf’s Up” by Brian Wilson. Recorded on December 17, 1966, Wilson’s performance is made much more haunting because we have information the home audience did not, namely that Wilson was undergoing severe psychological stress at the time, that the Beach Boys nearly broke up over the Smile album (for which “Surf’s Up” was composed), and that more than three decades would pass until said album would reach the public in its final form.

Watch after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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08.21.2017
09:36 am
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When David Bowie was in Iggy Pop’s band: Their final concert
08.18.2017
10:17 am
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Moscow, 1976
 
Iggy Pop’s The Idiot LP wasn’t just his solo debut; the 1977 album marked his return after three years of laying low. Though credited solely to Pop, The Idiot was a collaboration between Iggy and his friend, David Bowie. Iggy has attributed his rebirth to Bowie, who he’s said “resurrected” him. He’s spoken many times over the years of his appreciation for Bowie’s faith in him, and for his kindness.

Here’s an anecdote from Iggy’s 1982 book, I need more: The Stooges and other stories, that took place during the recording of The Idiot:

One day we were in Chateau d’Herouville in France, outside Paris, taking a ping-pong break. Never in my life had I been able to play ping-pong. I never had the coordination—literally couldn’t play.

David said, “Come on, give me a game.”

“I can’t. I can’t play.”

But I tried it, and suddenly that I day I could play, and I’m playing and were about tied and I said, “You know, man, this is weird. Really weird. I always failed at this game and now I can play it.”

He said, “Well, Jim, it’s probably because you’re feeling better about yourself.” In the most gentlest way he said that, because usually, you know, nobody wants to be anybody’s teacher or leaner. You know what I mean? In the very gentlest way he said that. I just thought that was a nice answer. Three games later, I beat him and he never played me again. I got good REAL fast.

 
March 1, 1977 poster
 
Bowie continued to support Iggy during The Idiot era, becoming a member of Pop’s band for the six-week jaunt promoting the album. The outing began on March 1 in Aylesbury for a run of dates in England, before coming to North America mid-month. The famed Dinah! appearance was on April 15, with the final show of the tour happening the following evening.
 
Mantra
‘Mantra Studios Broadcast 1977.’ Chicago, March 28, 1977 (radio broadcast).

Bowie kept a low profile during this period, both on and off stage. Up until the Dinah! taping, he refused all interview requests, and during the shows he rarely looked at the audience, most of whom had no prior knowledge that he was part of Iggy’s group. Bowie played piano and keyboards, and the band also included guitarist Ricky Gardiner, as well as bassist Tony Sales, and drummer Hunt Sales. The Sales brothers also contributed backing vocals, as did Bowie.
 
Cleveland
‘Live In Concert – Cleveland 1977.’ Agora Ballroom, March 22, 1977.

The last date took place at the San Diego Civic Auditorium on April 16.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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08.18.2017
10:17 am
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Jodie Foster’s very, very brief pop music career
08.18.2017
09:23 am
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What were you doing when you were 15? How many movies had you appeared in? How many singles had you put out? How many books had you written? (Or read?)

That Jodie Foster, in 1977, was an unusual 15-year-old isn’t news. By that time she had already appeared in at least one box-office hit, Bugsy Malone, as well as arguably the most bracing and accomplished product of the New American Cinema ever committed to film, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. She was attending a French lycée which she once described to Andy Warhol in the pages of Interview thus:
 

It’s great, man. All the teachers are like 21 or 22 and have long hair and beards and everything. Being in this school, you don’t have to do anything.


 
A minute later Warhol offers Foster a Bloody Mary (she was 14 at the time). Foster may not have been “doing anything” at that lycée, but two things are clear: she was perfectly fluent in French by that time, and her education was at least good enough to enable her to attend Yale as well as become one of the top actresses in the world as an adult.

In 1977 Foster flirted briefly with pursuing a career in pop music. She released a couple of singles and made some appearances on French TV as a singer. She appeared on the soundtrack for a movie called Moi, fleur bleue (in America the title was Stop Calling Me Baby!) singing a song called “When I Looked at Your Face.” She released that track as a single and also put out another single called “Je t’attends depuis la nuit des temps.”
 
Watch the video after the jump, along with Foster’s rendition of a famous Serge Gainsbourg song…...
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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08.18.2017
09:23 am
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Here’s the Klaus Nomi karaoke you’ll be needing for your Eclipse Party
08.18.2017
09:05 am
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I was an eleven-year-old kid attending Catholic school in Kentucky and my parents had just gotten cable TV. It was 1982. I had gotten up inexplicably early one morning. Maybe 4:00 or 5:00 AM. I turned on the television and had my brain cracked open by an unbelievably amazing concert film called Urgh! A Music War. I was bombarded with music and bizarre performances the likes of which was unimaginable to me in my sheltered youth. I wasn’t prepared for it.

Some of it absolutely terrified me, in particular, The Dead Kennedys, The Cramps, and Skafish (who were downright blasphemous to me—I didn’t understand camp at that time). But the one act that stood out to me the most—the most bizarre thing I had ever seen up to that point—was Klaus Nomi.

I didn’t LOVE Klaus Nomi at first, nor really any of the acts in Urgh!, save for the big names I already knew like The Police, Go Go’s, and Joan Jett.  I was intrigued and confused by these performances, but in time I came to love them. I love every band and every song in Urgh! It’s a perfect concert film.

Klaus Nomi ended up becoming a bit of an obsession over time. By the time I got to college, I was already fully immersed in punk rock. I had a copy of Urgh! on VHS that I watched over and over with friends in the dorm room. And Klaus was always the highlight. The general comment whenever anyone first saw Klaus’ performance in Urgh! was “what the hell is this supposed to be?” Exactly. That’s the greatness of Klaus Nomi. Klaus’ backing band, looking like super-square rejects from an E.L.O. tribute was also a constant source of hilarious commentary in the dorm. The clash between the highly stylized other-worldliness of Klaus and his backup dancers and the backing band which just looked like “some dudes” actually seemed like calculated genius. The song Klaus and his band performs in Urgh!, “Total Eclipse,” is by now one of my favorite songs of all time.

Moving forward in time, one of the weird side-jobs I ended up doing years later was hosting karaoke. I was a karaoke DJ (or KJ, as we like to be called) for eight years. It was a fun gig and I was really good at it. I made a point to scour the planet for karaoke tracks that no one else had. It wasn’t easy to find punk rock on karaoke, but if it existed, I had it. I was even part of a cabal of “cool” karaoke hosts nationwide (there were like 6 of us) that hired studio bands to record the tracks we wanted for karaoke use, but that were unavailable on the market. As a result, the members of this cabal had dozens of tracks that no other KJs in the world had access to.

The one track I always wanted though, that we never produced ourselves or were able to find ANYWHERE was “Total Eclipse.”

Fast forward to a couple of days ago when I began making plans for an eclipse party. I happen to live in one of the few municipal areas in the U.S. that will be able to observe the full total eclipse on August 21. So, I’m thinking “man, wouldn’t it be awesome to have ‘Total Eclipse’ by Klaus Nomi on karaoke?”

So I did a search… something I had done plenty of times to no avail back when I was working in the karaoke business. But this time I hit paydirt. Some kind soul on YouTube has taken the time to create a backing track with on-screen lyrics for “Total Eclipse.”

This is seriously the best thing to ever happen in the world of karaoke.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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08.18.2017
09:05 am
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‘Jack Johnson,’ 1970 documentary about the first black heavyweight champion, scored by Miles Davis
08.18.2017
09:02 am
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Even people who don’t like Miles Davis’ electric period (!) recognize the greatness of Jack Johnson, one of John McLaughlin’s finest moments, and a record I’d heard dozens of times before I realized it was the score to a movie. Long before
Ken Burns’ Unforgivable Blackness, there was this 1970 documentary by promoter Bill Cayton and fight film collector Jimmy Jacobs.

Jack Johnson was the first black boxer to win the world heavyweight championship. The phrase “great white hope” originates from the terror he struck into the hearts of pale Americans, both by winning the title and enjoying himself in public. His success did not go unpunished. Busted under the Mann Act and sentenced to a year and a day, Johnson skipped bail and fled the country. (In one memorable scene in Jack Johnson, the champ meets Rasputin.)
 

 
In his autobiography, Davis writes that he was boxing in the spring of 1970, when he wrote the soundtrack:

The music was originally meant for Buddy Miles, the drummer, and he didn’t show up to pick it up. When I wrote these tunes I was going up to Gleason’s Gym to train with Bobby McQuillen, who was now calling himself Robert Allah (he had become a Muslim). Anyway, I had that boxer’s movement in mind, that shuffling movement boxers use. They’re almost like dance steps, or like the sound of a train. In fact, it did remind me of being on a train doing eighty miles an hour, how you always hear the same rhythm because of the speed of the wheels touching the tracks, the plop-plop, plop-plop, plop-plop sound of the wheels passing over those splits in the track. That train image was in my head when I thought about a great boxer like Joe Louis or Jack Johnson. When you think of a big heavyweight coming at you it’s like a train.

Then the question in my mind after I got to this was, well, is the music black enough, does it have a black rhythm, can you make the rhythm of the train a black thing, would Jack Johnson dance to that? Because Jack Johnson liked to party, liked to have a good time and dance. One of the tunes on there, called “Yesternow” was named by James Finney, who was my hairdresser—and Jimi Hendrix’s, too. Anyway, the music fit perfectly with that movie. But when the album came out, they buried it. No promotions. I think one of the reasons was because it was music you could dance to. And it had a lot of stuff white rock musicians were playing, so I think they didn’t want a black jazz musician doing that kind of music. Plus, the critics didn’t know what to do with it. So Columbia didn’t promote it.

Watch ‘Jack Johnson’ after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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08.18.2017
09:02 am
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‘Dark Avenger’: The brief heavy metal career of Orson Welles
08.17.2017
09:16 am
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After the breakup of the Dictators, the New York proto-punk band Richard Meltzer credited with returning “THE SPIRIT OF WRESTLING” to rock and roll, their lead guitarist, Ross “the Boss” Friedman, formed the metal group Manowar. A harbinger of today’s Viking and power metal subgenres, the band posed for press photos in silky briefs, wielding swords. Note that their name begins with the word “man.”

(Deep thinker Scott Ian of Anthrax allows as how he “kind of liked the first album” even though he thought Manowar’s image “was a bit gay.” Reading these words, I feel as if Joey Belladonna himself is pouring gallons of boiled farina into a cerebral shunt that empties just behind my right eye.)

During a recent podcast appearance, Friedman remembered how, during the sessions for their debut album, 1982’s Battle Hymns, Manowar cast about for someone to read the narrative section of their “epic” song “Dark Avenger.” Like Odin, the song’s titular hero loses an eye; unlike Odin, he waxes grievous wroth about it and rides a demon horse back home from Hell to waste everybody, “raping the daughters and wives.” Oy.
 

 
Poor penniless Orson Welles dragged his ass into the studio to narrate the Dark Avenger’s katabasis:

He was met at the gate of Hades
By the Guardian of the Lost Souls,
The Keeper of the Unavenged,
And He did say to him:

“Let ye not pass Abaddon.
Return to the world from whence ye came
And seek payment not only for thine own anguish
But to vindicate the souls of the Unavenged.”

And they placed in his hands a sword made for him called Vengeance
Forged in brimstone and tempered by the woeful tears of the Unavenged

And to carry him on his journey back to the upper world
They brought forth their demon horse called Black Death
A grim steed so fiercely might and black in color
That he could stand as one with the darkness
Save for his burning eyes of crimson fire
And on that night they rode up from Hell
The pounding of his hooves did clap like thunder.

For thematic reasons which remain obscure, in the finished album’s sequence, “Dark Avenger” leads into bassist Joey DeMaio’s solo interpretation of the William Tell Overture.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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08.17.2017
09:16 am
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Fruitopia commercials scored by Kate Bush and the Cocteau Twins
08.16.2017
08:12 am
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If I say the word “Fruitopia” to you, there’s a decent chance you’ll respond with some comment about the 1990s—the savviest among you might even say “1994” specifically. Fruitopia was the brainchild of a marketing head at Coca-Cola named Sergio Zyman—he also brought the world the overt GenX pandering elixir OK Cola right around the same time. The fruit-flavored tea concoction was a clear attempt to move in on the territory staked out by Snapple, and while Fruitopia had its day in the sun, as is often the case the first product to define a niche gets to own that niche.

Fruitopia is remembered today for its neo-hippie trappings. The flavors had names like The Grape Beyond, Tangerine Wavelength, Citrus Consciousness, and Raspberry Psychic Lemonade, and the marketing consisted mainly of trippy and “deep” kaleidoscope commercials featuring cosmic music scored and performed by Kate Bush and the Cocteau Twins and the Muffs, among others.
 

 
Marty Cooke and Andrew Chinich of Chiat/Day oversaw the campaign; they reached out to Bush and were delighted when she agreed to do nine spots for the drink. According to Cooke, Bush indicated that “she was interested in providing a lot of variety, from Japanese drummers to Moroccan music ... and she came through in spades.”

In Graeme Thomson’s book Kate Bush: Under the Ivy, we get this:
 

[Bush] accepted a commission to write several brief pieces of music to accompany the $30m US TV ad campaign for the launch of Coca-Cola’s ne fruit drink Fruitopia…. It seemed an incongruous move. Bush had consistently turned down advances of this nature….

The motivation for her changing tack wasn’t clear but was probably varied: far from the commercial ingenue she sometimes appears, certainly the financial rewards would have been extremely significant; perhaps she liked the tone of the ads, which were relatively innoative and visually stimulating and over which she was given complete artistic control. She may also have recognised an opportunity to cast the net of her music a little wider, while also finding a home for all the melodic waifs and rhythmic strays that had never quite found a home in her “proper” songs. ... [each melody hinted] at a longer piece, several reminiscent of the kind of odd, rhythmic, electronic pop she was making around the time of The Dreaming.

 
Here are the ads—in some of them, Bush supplies identifiable vocals, as in “Fighting Fruit” in which you can hear her chant “Hey hey fruit!” and “Skin,” in which you can hear her uttering a sort of “bol,” or Indian rhythmic syllable, that sounds like “digga dha.”

Kate Bush, “Fighting Fruit”

 
Much more after the jump…...
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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08.16.2017
08:12 am
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Mysterious photos of Ozzy Osbourne in the nude performing with a naked hippie band back in 1969
08.15.2017
10:17 am
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Ozzy reacting the same way I did to the news that photos from his brief stint in an all-nude hippie band have surfaced.
 
Okay, here’s the deal—I’m posting two images of what looks like a very young, and completely nude Ozzy Osbourne for a couple of reasons. Reason one is that I am a lifelong disciple of OZZ and look for any legitimate reason to write about Ozzy, Tony Iommi, and his bandmates in Black Sabbath and beyond. However, today, I’m hoping that one of our DM readers, or perhaps Ozzy himself might be able to shed some much-needed light on these mysterious images. Here’s what I know about them so far. Help us, Ozzy, you’re our only hope

According to a site once run by a Germany-based Black Sabbath fan, Black-Sabbath.de, someone sent them two photos of Ozzy from a source in Scandinavia. The first photo allegedly shows a very young Ozzy holding a what appears to be a Fender Precision bass on stage completely nude while sharing a microphone stand with a naked brunette. As much as I’d like to be, I’m no expert when it comes to band gear, and the grainy photos below make it nearly impossible—for me at least—to tell what Ozzy actually has slung over his shoulder. The rest of the all-nude-review includes a drummer—a guy with lambchop sideburns who looks a bit like Monkee Michael Nesmith hitting a bongo, and a beardie nude dude playing a stand-up bass.

The second photo features Ozzy hanging out backstage at the gig with the stand-up bass player and the buck-naked brunette. What makes this strange scenario plausible is the fact that Sabbath played a a TON of gigs in 1969 including multiple stops in Copenhagen. Since I had gone this far, I decided to research the bands Sabbath played gigs with in 1969 in the hope that one of them would reveal themselves to be the nude quartet jamming with Ozzy. Sadly, the closest I got was that perhaps Ozzy’s hippie band might have been comprised of members of English band Bakerloo who at one time were photographed as the “The Bakerloo Blues Line” along with a cute, unidentified brunette who was perhaps a member of the band. Bakerloo previously toured with Sabbath while they were still known as Earth in London and likely elsewhere. However, as there is a naked bongo player in this scenario, it’s possible that Ozzy is hanging out with members of local Birmingham band, Rare Breed.

Where are those goddamned meddling kids and their snack-happy dog when you need them?

Despite my heroic heavy metal efforts to resolve this mystery, this is where my investigation into Ozzy’s nude (maybe) Scandinavian escapade ends. You can see the intriguing NSFW black and white photos for yourself and draw your own conclusions, after the jump.

Wait are you waiting for?

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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08.15.2017
10:17 am
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Amusing vintage outsider art of Debbie Harry done by a teen fan
08.15.2017
10:09 am
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Debbie Harry and one of writer/blogger Toby Weiss’ illustrations of Harry that was done by Weiss in 1979.
 
I’ve said it before a thousand times—I love my job here at Dangerous Minds. And today that fact is especially true as I will be sharing a few choice vintage illustrations of Debbie Harry done by one of her teenage superfans.

Posted on her blog M.E.L.T., St. Louis-based writer Toby Weiss chronicled her devotion to the fabulous Ms. Harry by revealing a handful of her charming illustrations of the pop icon that she did between 1979 and 1983. Here’s a little bit from Weiss concerning her adoration of all things Debbie Harry:

“I’d never experienced anyone like her; she was so beautiful and powerful and talented that she seemed more like a comic book hero. Everything I needed to know about life, sex, fashion, and music, I looked to Debbie. And because American media was now as infatuated with her as I was, it was easy to get all the advice I needed.”

Fantastic. Weiss’ adorable, self-described “teenage scribbles” of Harry below.
 

June, 1979.
 

November, 1979.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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08.15.2017
10:09 am
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‘Starry Night’: Music from the wonderful (and criminally overlooked) Chican@ punk band The Brat
08.15.2017
09:21 am
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The influence of Mexican-American musicians on L.A. punk is undeniable thanks to key bands like the Zeros, Plugz, Bags, Stains, Suicidal Tendencies, Los Crudos et al sporting either partly or entirely Chicano/a lineups, but the full story really has yet to be told. That’s partly due to a schism in the L.A. scene—bands from East L.A. really didn’t get to participate much. In a segregated and cliquey city, East L.A. bands weren’t typically prioritized by a scene centered in the more affluent West Side areas where all the clubs were located.

But as ALWAYS happens when a sufficiently motivated creative scene is stifled or confined, a vibrant DIY ethos emerged. In 1980, East L.A. venue The Vex began supplementing a thriving gymnasiums-and-backyards gig circuit, and a creative community grew, a community that included the Boyle Heights band The Brat. Formed in 1979 and fronted by vocalist Teresa Covarrubias, the band purveyed an irresistible catchy, poppy, sound that was underpinned with punk aggression, politically conscious lyrics, and three-chords-and-a-cloud-of-dust arrangements. They were championed by Plugz/Cruzados main man Tito Larriva, who in 1980 released their 5-song E.P Attitudes on his Fatima label. They also released, on the 1983 Los Angelinos: The Eastside Renaissance compilation, a song called “The Wolf,” which sounds for all the world like an inspiration for Concrete Blonde’s indelible “Still in Hollywood” riff.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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08.15.2017
09:21 am
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