Here’s a little something you don’t see every day, a compilation of original video by bands associated with the “lesser” Factory-related record labels operating out of Brussels Belgium. It’s called Umbrellas in the Sun and consists of seldom-seen videos from more well-known Factory acts like A Certain Ratio, Durutti Column, Section 25 and even New Order, along with more more obscure groups like Crispy Ambulance, Josef K., The Names, Quando Quango and plenty of others.
The two Belgium-based labels, Factory Benelux and Disques de Crepescule, were founded by Michel Duval and Annik Honoré (if this latter name sounds familiar it should, as she was with Ian Curtis during the last years of his life), and featured music that didn’t exactly fit Factory’s profile or release schedule. Although practically anything that showed up on these labels was (at least!) kinda quirky, some of it was as good if not better than some of what was on Factory Records proper.
For instance, The Plateau Phase by Crispy Ambulance, was both too far out as well as perhaps too… proggy (?) for Factory, nevertheless it still sounds fantastic. Hell, this being the Internet, I can even pass you a toke (here’s “Travel Time” off that record):
In 2005, fellow Factory nut James Nice put out Umbrellas in the Sun on the LTM label. Here’s a chunk of that DVD featuring all sorts of exotic post-punk treats filmed between 1980 & 1985. Ah yes, another fine example of the Internet practically vomiting diamonds into our cupped hands. Feel free to slide them down your own gullet, though do be prepared for the fact that much of it will scratch and burn on the way down.
Last week Drafthouse Film‘s creative director Evan Husney contacted me about “co-presenting” this great new idea he’d had for a website that would be called My Dad Was In A Band.
Naturally I immediately clicked on the link and well, proceeded to laugh my ass off, not only at the astonishing Harry and the Hendersons-looking “inverted Mohawk” of the fellow above—he’s from a band called “Hot Ice”(!)—or just the hilarious concept in general, but for the fact that I personally know one of the “dads” who was initially submitted to My Dad Was In A Band.
That’s right, one of the dads who was in a band, Brian Chatton, is the father of one of my oldest friends, Charlotte Chatton. I’ve seen Brian at Thanksgiving dinners and parties going back the the mid-1990s. Now, I knew that he was a musician, and that he’d had a “one hit wonder” with his 80s group Boys Don’t Cry (remember “I Wanna Be a Cowboy”?) and that he’d been in both Meatloaf and Jon Anderson’s touring bands, but what I didn’t know was the he had recorded an ecological psychedelic rock opera in 1968 with his band “Flaming Youth” who happened to include an 18-year-old pre-Genesis Phil Collins on drums!
My dad wore a leather catsuit with domino buttons when he married my mum and his platform shoes were taller than his brides. His first band of many was called Flaming Youth, he was the lead singer and Phil Collins [third from the left in the photo above, that’s her father squatting second from left] was the drummer. Together they released a concept album called Arc 2 that told a futuristic tale about how man uses up all the resources on Earth. Even when singing about such things as civilization needing to find another planet to live on I’ve noticed that my dad has a hard time keeping a straight face on camera, he’s tickled from the inside out
Flaming Youth’s rock opera was written by the established hit-making team of Alan Blaikley and Ken Howard who penned songs for the likes of Petula Clark, Frankie Howerd, Engelbert Humperdinck, Eartha Kitt, Lulu and Elvis Presley. They were un-credited on the album, apparently so as not to jeopardize their more conventional pop careers.
Although Arc 2 came out to extremely positive reviews—it was even awarded The Sunday Times’ “Rock Album of the Year” award in 1969—it wasn’t a hit and remains virtually unheard to this day. Flaming Youth, did, however appear for a five song set on Dutch television and four of those numbers have been uploaded to YouTube.
Band members here are “Flash” Gordon Smith on guitar; Ronnie Caryl on bass; Brian Chatton, organ; Phil Collins, drums and organ. Happy Father’s Day to all of the group!
The single “From Now On” sung (lip-sync’d) by a young Brian Chatton. He’s in his early 60s now and the guy hasn’t changed a bit!
The Château d’Hérouville where David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Elton John, The Grateful Dead, The Sweet and Fleetwood Mac recorded is up for sale.
Located near the town of Auvers-sur-Oise, in France, the property is described as a coaching station, built in the 18th century, which includes 30-rooms, and 1,700m ² of living space.
The selling price is 1, 295, 000 Euros.
In 1962, composer Michel Magne purchased the property and developed it into a recording studio. Magne is best known for his Oscar win for Gigot.
The Château was particularly popular with British artists, starting with Elton John, who recorded three albums at the studios, Honky Chateau, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player and Goodbye Yellowbrick Road. Elton suggested the studio to Marc Bolan where he recorded his 1972 album The Slider; and Bolan recommended it to David Bowie who record Pin-Ups in July 1973, and then Low in 1977.
But the Château wasn’t just known for its considerable musical pedigree. Producer Tony Visconti claimed star-crossed lovers Frederic Chopin and George Sand haunted the building—Chopin had trysted with Sand while living at the mansion. Bowie also noted the studios supernatural feel.
Neil Young’s 2012 autobiography, Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream, contains fascinating memories and anecdotes about songwriting, guitars, folk and rock music, musicians, classic cars, Young’s impressive ongoing inventions (including an electric car and a music file format, PureTone, to rival and replace mp3’s), and, unexpectedly, model trains.
Young, like fellow rockers Rod Stewart and Bruce Springsteen, began as a model train hobbyist and collector – for the love of God, do not call them “toy trains” to a model train collector – and eventually dedicated space in his 2800-square foot barn to a massive 750-feet track layout with landscape, tunnels, and buildings. Young brought this track along on his HORDE tour and allowed fans to play with the display, carefully supervised by the six crew members hired simply to travel with, set up. and tear down the track.
Young first created a research and development company, Liontech, to help the storied Lionel, LLC train manufacturing company, founded in 1900, create model trains with sound systems and control units. Young then became part owner of Lionel, along with an investment company. It was Young’s designs and inventions for Lionel that helped to bring the company out of bankruptcy in 2008. Young’s first train-related invention was a control unit, the Big Red Button, that enabled his son, who has cerebral palsy, to control the trains. Other inventions of his include the first-ever wireless remote control device for model trains, the TrainMaster Command Control (for which he paid for the development out of his own pocket), Lionel LEGACY Command Control System, LEGACY RailSounds System, and LionVision, which provides each model locomotive with a digital camera and microphone, allowing a train-view to be shown on a video screen or online.
Young helped Lionel design their Postwar Celebration Series, re-imagining classic designs with new technological features, such as the 5344 NYC Hudson train, first manufactured in the 1930’s. In 2004 Lionel released a limited edition train set based on the Neil Young and Crazy Horse album Greendale, set in a fictional California town.
“I remember one day David Crosby and Graham Nash were visiting me at the train barn during the recording of American Dream, a lot of which we did on my ranch at Plywood Digital, a barn that we converted to a recording studio…Anyway, I saw David looking at one of my train rooms full of rolling stock and stealing a glance at Graham that said, This guy is cuckoo. He’s gone nuts. Look at this obsession. I shrugged it off. I need it. For me it is a road back.” – Neil Young, Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream
“Clyde Coil” = Neil Young’s pseudonym for train-related websites and articles. Is this video (I can’t embed it here) a “Bernard Shakey” (another of Young’s nom de plumes) production?
Now I want all future Thomas the Tank Engine movies to feature Neil Young as the voice of the conductor instead of Alec Baldwin.
Below, Young talks model trains with fellow Lionel enthusiast, David Letterman:
The Velvet Underground’s John Cale met fashion designer Betsey Johnson in May 1967, when she was designing costumes for the Edie Sedgwick movie Ciao! Manhattan. She had been using Edie as her fitting model for years and had even designed her “Edie dress,” a jersey knit creation with a criss-cross back. Johnson was dating Sterling Morrison at the time and working on her own clothing designs.
Cale wrote of Johnson in his memoir What’s Welsh for Zen? in 1999:
“Betsey took amphetamine every day—diet pills, black bombers. She was a little overweight and very sensitive about it, and she would sit up all night making clothes. Betsey was a strong individual character. When she started showing up at all the VU gigs because she could afford to, I really admired her…It seemed to me that Betsey knew everybody I knew, and she was living at the Chelsea Hotel. It was a match made in heaven.”
Johnson began making elegant dark stage clothes for the band and hanging out at New York clubs with Andy Warhol and Cale. In 2008, Johnson told Woman’s Wear Daily: “I always made John his black canvas suits with big hunks of ruffles and bows coming out, which were gorgeous. And Lou [Reed] wanted his crotch to be big, so I would always cut him a crotch.”
On her wedding day in 1968, Betsey was turned away from New York City’s City Hall for wearing pants as part of her self-designed red velvet pantsuit. She returned wearing the shortest miniskirt she could find. Cale wrote, “I made her cry on the day of her wedding because I forgot to buy her a corsage.”
During their short marriage the couple lived together in a beautiful loft on La Guardia Place but were seldom home at the same time. Cale did not take well to being married to such an ambitious working woman:
“Betsey worked hard all the time, like Andy. She would be in her showroom, and she often spent weeks in San Francisco or Los Angeles, where her factories were…I realised our career paths were so divergent that we actually lived in completely different worlds. Betsey seemed able to pass in and out of my world with ease, but I could not negotiate hers. I felt stymied by it. At that point I would get lonely and find somebody else. Betsey and I were both interested in our careers to the exclusion of personal relationships.”
Cale divorced Johnson in 1971 after relocating to Los Angeles to work as a solo artist and producer and upon meeting Cindy Wells, a.k.a. Miss Cindy, one of The GTO’s, the girl group formed by Frank Zappa.
This painting was painted using a post-card sized photograph. It is very well-detailed and quite clear. The light does not reflect as much as the photo shows. It was given to me as a birthday present and portrays me (John “Drumbo” French) playing a specially-designed kit by Gon-Bops (Mariano Bobadillo specially created the kick and floor toms for me) in 1970. The photo was taken at Ludlow’s Garage, which I believe was in Cincinnati Ohio, in 1971, in the month of January.
You know how there are certain albums that a husband and wife can agree on for the soundtrack to a weekend’s house cleaning? It has to be something completely acceptable to both parties, and so I think it says a lot, well at least something, that Tara and I often collectively choose to tidy up the place to the music of the twisted dark lord of low-fi analog electronic dance music, Tobacco.
We’re equally agreeable on the subject of Tobacco’s incredible psych-pop band Black Moth Super Rainbow (“Do you wanna hear this one again?” “Fine with me”).
But Tobacco’s music is not only for making unpleasant household chores more bearable. It’s music that wants to fuck your head up.
Behold the video for “Demon Practice” from Tobacco and Tucson, AZ-based weirdo MC, Zackey Force Funk, working under the moniker Demon Queen. The demonic duo’s upcoming record Exorcise Tape is out Aug. 6th on Rad Cult. Also on the track is Zackey’s cousin and fellow freak MC, N8NOFACE.
You’ve definitely heard her play guitar and bass. Statistically, you’re likely to own albums she played on. Your parents almost certainly did. According to her, she is responsible for many of the famous Motown bass lines usually attributed to James Jamerson, including “Bernadette,” “Reach Out,” “I Can’t Help Myself” and “I Was Made to Love Her.” She influenced The Beatles’ musical direction from Revolver onward. And it’s quite probable that you’ve never even heard her name.
Carol Kaye was one of the most prolific session musicians in American music in the ‘60s and ‘70s. In the male-dominated world of Los Angeles session players (sneered at in The Kinks’ song “Session Man”), Kaye was a rarity and a powerhouse. She began playing music professionally at 14 in 1949, playing guitar in big bands and bebop jazz groups, playing in clubs and giving lessons around Los Angeles. Her first recording sessions, beginning in 1957, were on guitar for Sam Cooke, Richie Valens, and the Righteous Brothers. From 1964-1973 she primarily played bass and appeared on over 10,000 recordings of pop songs, jazz standards, television show themes, and movie scores. She was one of the few female members of “The Wrecking Crew,” the name given by drummer Hal Blaine to the mostly anonymous first-call L.A. session players in the ‘60s.
Some of the best known songs featuring Carol Kaye’s work are Richie Valens’ “La Bamba” (on guitar), Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair,” Lalo Shifrin’s themes to Mission: Impossible and Mannix, The Monkees’ “I’m A Believer,” Ike and Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High,” The Lettermen’s “Going Out of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Sixteen Tons,” Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” Sonny and Cher’s “The Beat Goes On,” and The Beach Boys’ “California Girls,” “Sloop John B,” “Help Me, Rhonda,” and “Heroes and Villains.” She also played on Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention’s Freak Out and Absolutely Free albums. All this while raising a family.
Carol Kaye was confident, reliable, and able to keep up a rough studio schedule that sometimes stretched into 12-hour days. She was also very opinionated and known for refusing to take any shit from her male colleagues. When session guitarist Tommy Tedesco once insulted her in the studio, she verbally ripped him a new orifice.
Note Carol Kaye in background during this mid-Sixties Beach Boys session
Even today, there are those who simply refuse to believe some of Carol’s assertions, such as her claim to have played on Motown songs credited to James Jamerson and on Beach Boys songs like “Good Vibrations,” where a different bassist’s work may have been used on the final version. Detractors claim that she is either a bitter, jealous liar or a senile old lady with a failing memory. Whether that is misogyny/sexism or a blinkered refusal to admit that the sun did not always shine out of Jamerson’s ass alone is an ongoing matter for debate.
“Smile was originally conceived as an extension of the experimentation of the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, the album that Paul McCartney acknowledges as having transformed his approach to the bass, in addition to prodding The Beatles to employ the studio more adventurously. McCartney has repeatedly cited Wilson’s bass playing in the era of Pet Sounds and Smile as the inspiration for the lyrical, contrapuntal bass style that he developed around the time of Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The problem is, the bass player on nearly all of both Pet Sounds and Smile was not Brian Wilson. It was a jazz musician and studio pro in Los Angeles named Carol Kaye.”
And so Paul McCartney once said of Carol Kaye’s bass technique (without, apparently, knowing that it was her talents he was admiring):
“It was Pet Sounds that blew me out of the water. I love the album so much. I’ve just bought my kids each a copy of it for their education in life ... I figure no one is educated musically ‘til they’ve heard that album ... I love the orchestra, the arrangements ... it may be going overboard to say it’s the classic of the century ... but to me, it certainly is a total, classic record that is unbeatable in many ways ... I’ve often played Pet Sounds and cried. I played it to John so much that it would be difficult for him to escape the influence ... it was the record of the time. The thing that really made me sit up and take notice was the bass lines ... and also, putting melodies in the bass line. That I think was probably the big influence that set me thinking when we recorded Pepper, it set me off on a period I had then for a couple of years of nearly always writing quite melodic bass lines. ‘God Only Knows’ is a big favorite of mine ... very emotional, always a bit of a choker for me, that one. On ‘You Still Believe in Me,’ I love that melody - that kills me ... that’s my favorite, I think ... it’s so beautiful right at the end ... comes surging back in these multi-colored harmonies ... sends shivers up my spine.”
Outside of her years in the studio Carol worked as a music teacher, including a seven-year stint as on-staff Bass and Jazz Educator at the Henry Mancini Institute at UCLA and teaching courses at other universities as well. She’s written over thirty bass education books (Sting told talk show host Arsenio Hall that he had learned how to play bass from one of her books), made instructional DVDs, wrote a column for Bassics magazine and given hundreds of bass seminars. Carol continues to teach and offers bass lessons via Skype.
Dangerous Minds is a compendium of oddities, pop culture treasures, high weirdness, punk rock and politics drawn from the outer reaches of pop culture. Our editorial policy, such that it is, reflects the interests, whimsies and peculiarities of the individual writers. And sometimes it doesn't. Very often the idea is just "Here's what so and so said, take a look and see what you think."
I'll repeat that: We're not necessarily endorsing everything you'll find here, we're merely saying "Here it is." We think human beings are very strange and often totally hilarious. We enjoy weird and inexplicable things very much. We believe things have to change and change swiftly. It's got to be about the common good or it's no good at all. We like to get suggestions of fun/serious things from our good-looking, high IQ readers. We are your favorite distraction.