Solid Gold was an acutely ‘80s syndicated pop music variety show that set itself apart from similar offerings with the utterly baffling Solid Gold Dancers. The show was conceived at the tail end of the disco era, and so along with the usual hodgepodge of mimed and live music performances, the show featured disco-inspired dance accompaniments—no matter what kind of music was being featured. It was silly and often wildly inappropriate, but sufficiently distinctive that the phrase “Solid Gold Dancers” still conjures images of vapid glitz even to people who never saw the show.
It’s hard to say whether it’s a relief or a cryin’ goddamn shame that those dancers didn’t accompany the Plasmatics, but either way, the very fact that that appearance even happened is amazing. This was in 1981, the year that multiple arrests for indecency made the band’s singer Wendy O. Williams notorious outside of underground music circles, and Solid Gold was a broad appeal, all-smiles show that usually aired during the family hour. (I myself was an avid watcher at age nine, the age at which Solid Gold turned me on to a little band called Blondie. That and my discovery of DEVO that same year set the stage for a great deal of weirdness to come.) But despite the general family-friendliness of the program, nothing particularly set this performance of the Metal Priestess track “Black Leather Monster” apart from any given Plasmatics show except for a lack of breast exposure. Williams shrieked, danced suggestively, and chainsawed an innocent Les Paul while the band made a spastic punk spectacle of itself. And the segment is followed by a preposterous and wonderful interview—Williams chats (or rather, haltingly reads cue cards) with ventriloquist Waylon Flowers’ famously raunchy dummy Madame.
Billboard Dec 19, 1981, page 8
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that the band is here introduced by the show’s co-host at the time, the Bee Gees’ youngest brother Andy Gibb (the other co-host was 5th Dimension singer Marilyn McCoo). This may seem as odd a juxtaposition of punk filth with squeaky-clean pop as their booking on the show itself, but Gibb’s spotless image was a pop pretense. He would soon be fired from the show on the grounds that his apparently monstrous cocaine binges made him a frequent and unpredictable absentee from shooting.
I never know what to get people during the holidays. The Holiday season is stressful. I worry that my gifts aren’t unique enough and will end up in the trash or at Goodwill. This year, however, I’m think about giving out some throw blankets. I mean, who doesn’t need a blanket when it’s cold? EVERYONE needs a blanket. Blankets are winners, but especially these blankets.
What I like about them is that not everyone has them. The links for each one is under the image. The prices range anywhere from $49 - $129 depending on the size.
The idea that there are Bootsy Collins and Peter Sellers blankets out there in the world is kinda rad.
Velvet Underground chanteuse Nico and French avant-garde film director Philippe Garrel had a decade long romantic relationship between 1969 and 1979. Garrel, acclaimed in his youth as being a sort of cinematic Rimbaud, was much admired by Jean-Luc Godard, but is almost completely unknown in the English-speaking world. Nico appeared in seven of his films and sometimes gave him music for them that has not been heard elsewhere. Stills from Garrel’s films appeared on the covers of her Desertshore and The End albums, which show how interested she was in promoting his work. Garrel made his own clothes at the time and began dressing Nico, encouraging her to dye her hair crimson and cut her bangs. Their most significant and fully-realized collaboration was La Cicatrice Intérieure (or “The Inner Scar”), made in 1972 when Garrel was only 22.
During their relationship, the pair became hardcore heroin addicts, resorting to petty thievery from friends and acquaintances to support their habits. According to Richard Witts’ biography, Nico: The Life & Lies of an Icon, their Paris apartment was a “garret” that lacked gas, electricity, hot water, furniture and housed a gargantuan mountain of cigarette butts. The entire apartment was covered in two coats of glossy black enamel paint. Their bed, apparently, was Garrel’s overcoat.
To call Philippe Garrel’s films “tedious” and “self-indulgent” is a bit of an understatement. They’re preposterously tedious and self-indulgent—I believe the Monty Python “French Subtitled Film” sketch was directly inspired by Garrel’s work—but no more so than Matthew Barney’s movies, if you ask me. About half of her Desertshore album (and one otherwise unreleased song, the mind-blowing “König,” see below) is used as the film’s soundtrack. (This again seems worth comparing to Matthew Barney’s Drawing Restraint 9, a collaboration with his wife, Bjork, herself a big Nico fan.)
To some, Garrel, who is still making films today, is an underrated visionary genius whose work must be seen in the cinema to be fully appreciated (for years the director refused to release his films on DVD). To them he is revered as some cinephiles worship John Cassavetes. To others, his films (the ones made during his relationship with Nico at least) look like what two junkies with a camera and the financial backing of a French heiress might get up to…
La Cicatrice Intérieure‘s dialogue, mostly made up right before they’d shoot it, by Nico, consists of existential bitching, basically, as the pair walk around in barren, yet gorgeous landscapes shot in Sinai, Death Valley and Iceland. Garrel uses LONG simple linear tracking shots with minimal editing during scenes. Visually, the film is quite stunning—again think Matthew Barney—but the director forbade subtitles so unless you speak French and German, at a few places you’re bound to be confused. (A Japanese DVD with subtitles popped up in 2005).
Nico does most of the speaking in La Cicatrice Intérieure, moaning throughout the film in her humorless, stentorian voice, at times coming off like some sort of prophetess of doom. As the Time Out reviewer said of the film when it was released in 1972: “You need a bloody big spliff to enjoy this. A miserable couple who you would not wish to meet at a party [Garrel, Nico] are joined by a naked weirdo [Pierre Clémenti, best-known for his role as the gangster lover of Catherine Deneuve’s prostitute in Buñuel’s Belle de jour] with a bow and arrow and a desire to set everything on fire. That’s about it, frankly, unless I fell asleep, which is likely.”
Nico described the film like so:
“[It’s] an important film, a great film. It concerns the fragility of life. The film treats the story of a lunatic who starts to kill all of his sheep. It is not clear if he is a shepherd or a prince. He has no identity until I show up [of course!]. I am a queen on a journey. A queen finds a kingdom wherever she goes. There are more songs than dialogue in the film which I think is a good idea [of course!].
In the case of La Cicatrice Intérieure, she’s probably right about that, and although the film does have its perplexing, often gorgeous, merits, as our own Marc Campbell put it, La Cicatrice Intérieure is “a gorgeous looking folly that, despite its abundant tracking shots, is so inert it makes L’Avventura look like The Fast And The Furious.” La Cicatrice Intérieure is now in the public domain and there is even an HD version of it floating around on the torrent trackers that elevates the viewing experience quite a bit and is worth finding (Hint, looky here). Yet another fine example of an absolutely M.I.A. film that you can see today without even getting up from your seat. La Cicatrice Intérieure was once the litmus test for obscure, nearly impossible to see movies, but there’s even a quite good version of the film on YouTube (see last video).
“My Only Child” and “All That Is My Own” are heard in the following two sequences. The child is Nico’s son, Ari Boulogne. Note how the camera moves constantly.
Before he became known as the “Marc Bolan” we all know and still love (you know - the guitar-wielding god-of-glam done up with eyeliner and with tons of hair?), Bolan was still going by his birth name “Mark Feld,” and resembled Donovan more than his soon-to-be bonafide rockstar self.
Marc Bolan (who was still using his birth name of “Mark Feld”) at age fifteen modeling as a “John Temple Boy” in 1962 (far right)
A young Marc, early to mid-60s
When he was just fifteen, Bolan did a little modeling as a “John Temple Boy,” (for John Temple menswear) sporting a short, mod haircut and Savile Row-style clothing. A far cry from his future, super-glammy “I’m gonna suck you” look that Bolan would go on to cultivate during his days with T.Rex. Even the publicity photos for Bolan’s first single with Decca, 1965s “The Wizard” feature a nearly unrecognizable short-haired version of Bolan.
In the 2001 book, Glam Musik: British Glam Music ‘70 History, Bolan’s future publicist Keith Altham said Marc would frequently walk into a bar called the Brewmaster with his new record in tow proclaiming that he was going to be “the greatest thing since Elvis Presley.” And he sure wasn’t wrong about that bit. Loads of photos of a young Marc Bolan (many of which were taken in the early to mid-60s), follow.
Already famous in hip-hop circles as the DJ in Stetsasonic, Prince Paul was much in demand as a producer after he worked on De La Soul’s momentous debut 3 Feet High and Rising. In addition to De La’s second and third albums, he produced Boogie Down Productions, Slick Rick, Queen Latifah, 3rd Bass and Big Daddy Kane; as “the Undertaker,” Prince Paul formed the pioneering “horrorcore” group Gravediggaz with RZA, Frukwan of Stetsasonic, and the late emcee Poetic.
So hot a property was Prince Paul that Russell Simmons gave him his own label, which Paul named Dew Doo Man (sometimes stylized Dewdooman) Records. The debut of a trio called Resident Alien, It Takes A Nation Of Suckers To Let Us In, was to have been the first album on Dew Doo Man—the November 1991 issue of SPIN even included it alongside Nirvana’s Nevermind in the list of staff favorites—but Rush giveth, and Rush taketh away: the label was scuppered and Nation Of Suckers was never released. Alex Ogg’s The Men Behind Def Jam quotes Paul on Dew Doo Man’s sad story:
[Prince Paul had] been approached by [Lyor] Cohen and [Russell] Simmons after De La Soul’s 3 Feet High And Rising made him one of the hottest producers in rap. “I was like, quote, this up-and-coming producer that crossed a lot of quirky rap over to pop audiences,” Prince Paul recounts of their overtures, “[and they were] pricing dollar signs, ching ching… ‘Paul, do this label. We have RAL [Rush Associated Labels], whatever you want to call it.’ I said, ‘No, I don’t want to do it.’ I just want to produce records. I’m just so happy, I was like a really naive kid, I want to produce records, don’t want to do nothing else. Then I was getting calls at the house: ‘Paul, why don’t you think about doing the label?’ ‘No, I don’t want to do the label.’ At the time I had Russell managing me, and then my lawyer starts calling me: ‘Russell’s calling me up and wants to know if you want to do the label.’ So I’m like, ‘OK, I’ll do the label, fine.’”
So he dutifully set about rounding up some neighbourhood friends, including Resident Alien and Mic Tee Lux, before producing a series of demos. According to Prince Paul, Simmons thought they were “dope” and green-lighted the project. But when it came to releasing the records he demurred, which hit Paul straight in the pocket because he’d financed most of the recording costs and had been turning down other production work in the meantime. “I just lost a whole lot of time and when everything was said and done, it was like, I got jerked. You know what I’m saying, it wasn’t Russell’s fault. I mean I could get mad at him all day, but I was just dumb and young and I just went, crawled [out] under the pressure.”
Prince Paul’s mid-90s business card
Of the Resident Alien album’s 20 tracks, only the single “Mr. Boops” and the twelve-inch promo “Ooh The Dew Doo Man” entered circulation before Simmons pulled the plug on Prince Paul’s label. During the recent period of internet-enforced glasnost, videos for both songs (embedded below) have surfaced, as have sound files of every song on It Takes A Nation Of Suckers To Let Us In. This YouTube playlist is missing a few tracks from side two, so if you want to hear the full album, you’ll have to go to the blogs. Assuming Double Brain, Dragon and Mr. Bug still have their green cards, would a reunion be too much to hope for?
“Stickball” is an improbably strange—and very NSFW—adult novelty record from the early ‘70s, apparently the work of singer Tony Bruno working under the pseudonym “P.Vert.” I found my copy at Downstairs Records in New York (which was actually upstairs) at some point in the mid-80s and I still have it. It’s a 45rpm single backed with another song—a pretty-sounding ballad—called “Fuck Me Forever” by Connie Lingus.
Wouldn’t you buy that? Well I did.
About a week later I was in the same store with my old friend Nate Cimmino and he scored a copy of “Stickball,” too. Nate worked part-time behind the counter of the legendary New York record store Bleecker Bob’s, which was owned by the notorious Bob Plotnik, a man who was not afraid to tell you exactly what he thought of you, let’s just say. A cantankerous fellow. Some might—charitably—describe him as an “obnoxious asshole.” (Like the real life “Soup Nazi,”he was even parodied on Seinfeld.)
One day I went into the shop to say hi to Nate and Bleecker Bob was there. He said “Metzger, you’re so fuckin’ smug, you think you know everything, but YOU DON’T KNOW SHIT. I am the mogul of moguls. Name me any record title and I will tell you the artist. Name me any artist and I will tell you at least one of their song titles.”
Nate and I looked at each other, each knowing what the other was thinking.
“Stickball,” I replied confidently. It was the single most obscure thing I could think of, sure to stop him dead in his tracks.
Bleecker Bob laughed his loudmouthed Brooklyn wiseguy laugh.
“YOU FUCKIN’ ASSHOLE!! I PRODUCED FUCKIN’ P.VERT! YOU TRIED TO STUMP ME BY NAMING MY OWN FUCKIN’ RECORD! HAHAHAHAHAHA….”
He spun around and pulled a copy right off the shelf. The producer’s credit he pointed to on the label read “D.Ment.”
What were the odds?
He gloated, but I thought that it was extremely funny and so did Nate. I mean seriously, what were the odds of that occurring? And to be bested by an asshole like Bleecker Bob in such a manner of my own choosing, ultimately? Well, try having that experience in a New York record store these days, kids! Priceless!
So I had posted the above text on Dangerous Minds back in 2010. We’ve changed content management systems since then, but not long after I originally posted it, Tony Bruno himself left a comment saying that he’d never even heard of Bob Plotnik and that he didn’t produce that single or to his knowledge have anything whatsoever to do with it, which to my mind makes the story even better.
Like many Americans, my first exposure to Kate Bush was via her fourth album, 1982’s The Dreaming, for despite being a chart-topper the world over, and with a 1978 appearance on SNL under her belt, Bush had virtually zero profile in America before it. The Dreaming is also my favorite Kate Bush album, although it doesn’t have a single one of my favorite Kate Bush songs on it.
Even during a period of popular music that produced such off-kilter masterpieces as PiL’s The Flowers of Romance, Japan’s Tin Drum and Nunsexmonkrock by Nina Hagen, The Dreaming was still an album that was difficult—at first—to get your head around. It’s an album that requires three to five listens before it “clicks,” but when it does, the listener is rewarded with one of the most dazzling, ambitious and audacious things an artist has ever attempted, before or since. In this case, by an artist who was then just 23!
As a song cycle, The Dreaming is a complex and accomplished work, practically demanding to be listened to all the way through (if only out of respect for the genius who created it). Although I went backwards through her first three albums, in retrospect, The Dreaming—produced by Kate alone for the first time—is an abrupt (make that very abrupt) break with what had come before. Gone were the intimate observations on life, the intensely passionate musings on love. sexuality and England’s green and pleasant land—indeed all of the pretty songs that her fanbase obviously expected—to be replaced with poetic and cinematic narratives that evoked far off exotic lands, paranoia, fury, a quest for learning, a stymied oneness with God and comedy. The Dreaming is the work of a great talent operating totally free of any outside pressures or concerns. It would be ridiculous to call it the first “real” Kate Bush album, but there is certainly a clear line of demarcation between Never for Ever and everything that comes after it.
Obviously there was always something monumentally idiosyncratic about Kate Bush, but with The Dreaming, the eclectic nature of her mature vision became boldly manifest for the first time.
“Sat in Your Lap” is the album’s frantic opening number. One of the engineers Bush used on The Dreaming was Hugh Padgham, the man responsible for achieving the famous “gated drum” sound of Phil Collin’s “In the Air Tonight” number, and I would imagine he’s probably responsible for the fantastic drum sound on “Sat in Your Lap” (I could be wrong about this because Padgham brought in Nick Launay, PiL’s engineer for the heavily percussive The Flowers of Romance album, for The Dreaming and it might be he who recorded the drums here, I’m not sure) (Here’s a link to a demo of the song)
To go to show how lyrics can get misconstrued and yet still end up communicating the exact thing the artist wanted to say, the “Gaffa” of “Suspended in Gaffa” is not a place (as I assumed it was, like Goa or the title of Aldous Huxley’s novel Eyeless in Gaza, which for whatever reason, I have always associated with this tune) but, in fact, refers to gaffer’s tape, the heavy, super strong sticky stuff used on film sets. Whether she’s literally trussed up in gaffer’s tape, bemoaning her lack of a relationship with her maker or stuck cooling her heels in some remote part of the globe, the meaning is probably exactly the same, don’t you think?
As a former fan club member of more old-school fan clubs than I care to mention (you know, the ones you used to have to MAIL away for), I thought many of you would dig revisiting the days when for a few dollars you could become a member of your favorite band’s fan club.
Slayer “Slaytanic Wehrmacht” fan club application
The Cramps fan club application
Back in the day, most fan clubs would charge fifteen bucks or less for membership and you would get a bunch of cool swag from buttons and patches, to letters, exclusive magazines or “signed” photos of your idols. Some of you may even remember that members of The Plasmatics fan club (known as The Plasmatics Secret Service, pictured below) got their very own card with their name on it.
The Plasmatics “Secret Service” fan club card
While I sadly missed out on that one (which included a list of “posers get lost” responsibilities on the back of the card which I still take very seriously anyway), I still have a small box full of my KISS Army gear as well as other fan club memorabilia that I’ll never part with. So without further delay, check out some of the sweet vintage fan club applications, mailers, letters and cards from the last few decades from The Cramps, Slayer, LA punks the Screamers and many more. They almost make me want to write to the old addresses just to see if anything comes back.
This is totally a one-note joke, but it could also be argued that Diamond Dave is a one-note singer.
YouTube user and goddamned genius Jim Haney took that Van Halen vocals-only track from “Runnin’ With the Devil” that’s been floating around the Internet for a few years and laid it over the top of an edited version of Can’s “Mother Sky.”
The result is magical.
This is the dumbest, most crucial thing you’ll hear all day:
Being a “band geek” has rarely ever won a high school student cool points. One would expect that a “Catholic high school band geek” might fare even worse—yet one marching band of young badasses in Atlanta is bucking the trend.
Let me note here that I personally reaped the rewards/suffered the consequences of a Catholic grade school education myself—and I’m still a “geek,” and consider the word a term of endearment—lest anyone think I’m being unfair to Catholics or geeks or whatever. Continuing…
Saint Pius X’s Marching Golden Lions are winning the Internet this week with their renditions of DEVO, Gary Numan, Berlin and other new wave bands’ hits.
The Marching Golden Lions
The Marching Golden Lions seem to be having fun with their arrangements of ‘80s new wave standards which can be seen in the video clips below.
We’re not sure how much influence band director Chad Paetznick had over the choice of songs performed by the band, but even if it was all his idea that’d still make him one of the coolest Catholic high school marching band directors ever. If the students picked the songs, then we’ll just say that they have excellent taste in golden oldies.
Paetznick’s still gotta win some kind of “coolest band director” award though: according to Saint Pius X’s school newspaper, he took the band to the Third Man Records studio to record their drum cadence and fight song with Jack White while they were in Nashville for the Vanderbilt Marching Invitational. Not every high school marching band in the world gets to record with Jack White.
You’ll want to check out all three clips here. These kids rule.
Here’s the Saint Pius X Marching Golden Lions performing DEVO’s “Girl U Want.” Dig the dude walking by who gets really into it at 0:37 and check out the breakdown at 1:30: