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Van Halen cover Bowie and KC & The Sunshine Band (while judging a dance contest!) in the 70s
05.19.2016
10:02 am

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Amusing
Heroes
Music

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Van Halen during their ‘house band’ era at the Sunset Strip club, Gazzarri’s (mid-1970s).
 

“One day, we’re going to be the the Kings of Gazzarri’s.”

—A teenage David Lee Roth accurately predicting Van Halen’s future

 
The person who uploaded the audio of Van Halen performing as a “cover band” places the year at 1975—not long after VH had transitioned from the name Mammoth, and were in the process of blowing the fuck up after Sunset Strip club Gazzarri’s (RIP) gave the band their first big break.
 

David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen on stage at Gazzarri’s, mid-70s.
 
 
An early shot of Van Halen and the band’s first logo design created by original VH bassist, Mark Stone (Stone is pictured to the far left).
 
And when I say big break, I mean that before Gazzarri’s, DLR and the boys were literally playing house parties and high schools. After getting the green-light to play Gazzarri’s by the club’s owner, Bill Gazzarri (who initially didn’t like the band, he later maintained that Van Halen was the best band to every play there), the band became Gazzarri’s house band playing the club several nights a week and would often run the dance contests held at Sunset Strip club. VH vocalist David Lee Roth recalls that in addition to getting paid $75-$125 bucks a night, another perk was getting to watch Gazzarri’s famous “Go-Go” dancers who also performed at the club regularly. It was a huge upgrade from their usual gigs. 1975 sounds like it was a pretty sweet time if your name was (or was associated with), “Van Halen.”

VH drummer Alex Van Halen remembers that the “crowd” at the band’s first gig at Gazzarri’s consisted of about four fans. Van Halen would go on to play approximately 90 gigs at Gazzarri’s to ever-growing crowds before Eddie Van Halen told Bill Gazzarri that they were “never going to get anywhere” by honing their ability to kick out disco jams like the 1975 hit by KC and the Sunshine band, “Get Down Tonight.” And as much as I love that song (I don’t judge and neither should you), he wasn’t wrong. Sometime in 1976 KROQ DJ Rodney Bingenheimer met up with KISS loudmouth Gene Simmons to see one of VH’s gigs at Gazzarri’s. Simmons dug what he heard and got the band to record a demo, but things didn’t pan out. Luckily, Warner Brothers Records producer Ted Templeman (the famous voice behind the line “Come on Dave, give me a break” from the Van Halen’s 1981 classic “Unchained”) caught a live gig of the still under-the-radar band, and ushered the boys into the studio to record what would become VH’s seminal debut record, 1978’s Van Halen.

As I’m a huge fan of digging up interesting historical rock and roll artifacts, I have to say I was super entertained listening to 32 minutes of the then-emerging young Van Halen covering songs by David Bowie (specifically “The Jean Genie” during which Roth amusingly confesses to forgetting the lyrics), Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, and “Twist and Shout”—all while emceeing one of Gazzarri’s many dance contests. While the audio isn’t good (and the band doesn’t really sound that great either), it truly has its priceless moments. Mostly due the antics of the then just 21-year-old “Mr. Entertainment” David Lee Roth. I’ve included a number of photos of Van Halen’s days at Gazzarri’s as well as a few cool other artifacts from that mythical time when it seemed that most people in LA didn’t know who Van Halen was. Yet.
 
Much more early Van Halen after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Unearthed footage of Pink Floyd performing ‘Atom Heart Mother’ at The Amsterdam Rock Circus, 1972
05.18.2016
05:07 pm

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This remarkable footage of Pink Floyd live at “The Amsterdam Rock Circus” was shot on May 22, 1972. The festival was held at Olympic Stadium and the other acts included Donovan, Gene Clark, Dr. John, The New Riders Of The Purple Sage and Buddy Miles. Pink Floyd were the headliners.

This admittedly ragged, yet still quite compelling document is notable for so many reasons: First of all, there is so very little footage of Pink Floyd just before (and after) The Dark Side of the Moon came out in 1973. They were obviously a pretty well-documented band from the very start of their career, but there’s only a small amount of live visual Floyd material from this particular era.
 

 
Second, the band is on fucking fire here. Please don’t take my word for it. It starts with an orchestra-less “Atom Heart Mother” (which includes a berserk David Gilmour guitar solo) and then goes into an extra dramatic and extra heavy “Careful with that Axe, Eugene” complete with a massive “festival-sized” pyrotechnics display during “the scream” bit. From the looks of the pyre they had going on there, this cool-as-shit conflagration probably singed some fringe off at least a few of the hippies in attendance that night. There was more fire during Nick Mason’s drum solo as he pounds on a giant flame-encircled gong. They also do “Saucerful of Secrets.”
 

 
Lastly, it was the final ever live performance of “Atom Heart Mother.”

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
We’ve been expecting you: George Harrison’s charming ‘Crackerbox Palace’ short directed by Eric Idle
05.18.2016
02:32 pm

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Music
Television

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George Harrison’s 1976 hit “Crackerbox Palace,” the second single from his Thirty Three & 1/3 album, is one of those vaguely worded songs (Sample lyric: “Sometimes are good . . . sometimes are bad. That’s all a part of life”) that could be just about anything. It’s a happy little tune that you could project just about any happy thoughts onto while you hum along.

In actual fact, the song was written about his visit to the Los Angeles home of the great Beatnik comic, Lord Buckley, after a chance meeting with Buckley’s former manager George Grief in France. Harrison was a big admirer of Buckley (as was Frank Zappa) and thought the name of his house would make a great song title. The song includes references to both George Greif (“I met a Mr. Greif”) and to his Lordship (“know that the Lord is well and inside of you”).
 

 
Monty Python member Eric Idle directed a promo film for “Crackerbox Palace” that was shown on SNL (along with another for “This Song”) that featured Neil Innes (in drag and in other weird costumes). Harrison appeared—as himself and as “Pirate Bob” his sea-shanty singing alter ego—on Idle and Innes’ BBC Rutland Weekend Television, on the show’s Christmas special.
 

A compilation of Harrison’s bits on the ‘Rutland Weekend Television’ Christmas special
 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Expat punks Round Eye totally nail American right wing authoritarianism and paranoia in ‘Billy’
05.18.2016
11:29 am

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Music
Punk

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In 2010, a mononymous musician going by the handle “Chachy” needed a change. His Florida-based prog-punk band Libyan Hit Squad had finished half an album with Black Flag’s Greg Ginn, but he was enduring a serious employment drought and mourning the suicide of his band’s drummer. Attracted to the rather incredible post-punk scene happening in Beijing, he severed his lease and some personal ties and made his way to China. There, he joined up with another American expat, a Southern Rock drummer named Jimmy Jack, with whom he formed a freakish art-punk band with the pre-emptively othering name Round Eye, whose first release was a 2013 split LP with Libyan Hit Squad, a bridge between Chachy’s past and future titled Full Circle. In 2015, an eponymous LP followed.

Based in Shanghai, Round Eye are set to release a new LP this summer—one which happens to feature the final recordings by ex-Stooges saxophonist Steve Mackay—and they’ve made a brutal video for their single “Billy,” a caustic indictment of American police culture’s pathologies that in its anti-authoritarian ethos recalls the finest and most scathing moments from the heyday of ‘80s I-hate-Reagan hardcore. While China is hardly an apt place from which to lob brickbats against abuse of power, Round Eye’s critique is nonetheless dead-on in its depiction of the US right wing’s paranoid fantasies about Muslims, gays, the urban underclass, and non-white people.
 

 
Chachy was kind enough, despite a 12-hour time difference, to answer some questions via online chat.

Dangerous Minds: So you moved to China and formed a new band, and obviously you’ve been following the news from home. You clearly agree with a growing number of Americans that police culture is getting out of control.

Chachy: It’s insane. You know, it’s even more striking and vibrantly illustrated to us how bad things are when we tour the US now having our lives anchored in China, seeing our home as visitors.

Dangerous Minds: Could you talk some about the inspiration for the song and video? There are clear references to specific incidents…

Chachy: When I lived in the States, I was so used to the chaos of being inundated by everything that was happening socially. It’s a common topic right? No one is surprised by racism, bigots, over saturation of pop culture and violence in America. It just is. The Wild West with iPhones and Facebook. DE-evolution has truly arrived. But now, being away from American culture for so long things look sharper and more potent.

Our only news of the west comes from the sensational news headlines and articles on the Internet and whatever the Chinese media platforms will allow to enter the mainland. It’s almost like a perpetual stream of very bad and horrible news.  It’s funny, Chinese media is using what’s happening with Trump and America as an example of why Democracy doesn’t work. Trayvon Martin and the countless other victims of cop insanity, the Klan, the Muslim stigma, LGBT discrimination, all flowing from what seems like one place and then I turn off the computer.

I try to think “it’s the just the news and what they want to show”; surely things can’t be that bad in the States can they? But then we go on tour in the U.S. for something like 60 dates in the deep south and I’m quickly shown that yes, indeed, things are on a very dark path. Shanghai, 24 million people and I’ve never, not once, ever experienced fear in the streets. No guns in China. Then we go play a gig in podunk Florida and 30 minutes after we leave the bar four people are shot and killed over a drunken brawl in the very bar we were at. I kept the news article on that particular incident. I simply couldn’t believe it.
 

 
Dangerous Minds: Yeah, the cherry-picked news info may have a propaganda agenda, but it DOES underscore a valid point: The encroachment of authoritarianism here is really fucking alarming, and it’s accelerating after 30-35 years of steady growth. I trust you’ve been following the presidential elections. What do American expats think about the rise of Trump? And what do the Chinese people think of it, is there a broad consensus?

Chachy: Shanghai’s expat community is very very mixed.  People from all over the globe. In fact I don’t have that many American friends here. They’re from Russia, South Africa, England, Oz, Tazzy, France, etc. etc. etc., so I get a good earful of global opinions on how America is presenting itself and trust me, it’s universally laughed at. They laugh at the fact that it’s gotten this far, and trust me, I laughed with them. It’s all “can you believe this is really happening.” I remember a time only a few months ago when most of my expat/Chinese friends weren’t aware of who Trump was; this is when the astonishment sets in—now everyone knows who he is. Everyone sees the social nightmare he’s dredged up and they start to realize that what was once an American issue is now getting dangerously close to becoming an international one. Not laughing as much anymore.
 

 
Dangerous Minds: So this begs to be said—China is arguably kind of a HUGE glass house from which to be throwing anti-authority stones. How does Round Eye reconcile that stance with living in such a rigidly policed nation?

Chachy: Yeah, totally understand. China is indeed an extremely authoritarian place. There is no freedom of speech here and we’ve felt the influence of the Ministry of Culture quite swiftly when we had a tour cancelled and banned due to ‘unharmonious’ art for a flyer [NSFW-ish image at link]. But when it comes to these sorts of issues with China we feel that we’re in more of a position to support rather than to lead. We’re not Chinese. It’s not our place to criticize Chinese policy within its barriers but it is totally our responsibility and right to criticize American policy. I admire the hell out of the Chinese bands like SMZB, PK14, and Pangu who take a very very real risk in voicing their indignations.  I mean Pangu have been living in exile for nearly a decade because of their support for Taiwanese independence and their seditious content in their music.

But that being said, the line between what is allowed to be criticized and what is not, what is allowed to be played and what is not, who is allowed to perform and who is not, is a VERY blurred one but it’s generally always understood that Big Brother is definitely watching. With “Billy” we were a bit concerned with how the Chinese government could react to this. There isn’t any criticism of Chinese matters, but the very nature of this video and song go very much against Chinese political ideals. The fact that we’re directly addressing problems within our own government could be seen as an ‘unharmonious’ incentive for Chinese citizens to do the same themselves.  We haven’t released this video in China yet, but we may very shortly, and what follows, no one really knows. We’re a bit nervous to be perfectly honest.
 
Watch the video for “Billy” after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
A Minimoog beanbag sofa can be yours
05.18.2016
10:02 am

Topics:
Design
Music

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What you’ve been waiting your whole life for but you just didn’t know it, right? A Minimoog beanbag sofa! Still, while I appreciate the idea, I’m not so sure I like the execution. It looks a tad bit uncomfortable (like you’d roll right off it). I could be wrong as I’ve never actually tested this thing. Maybe it’s super-duper analog synth comfy?

Woouf! brands makes this Minimoog sofa, but I couldn’t find it on their actual website. I did, however, find it here for 381,20€ (or for around $429.42).


 

 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
There’s an accordion cover version of ‘Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables’ by Dead Kennedys
05.17.2016
01:00 pm

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Music

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It doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes—or should I say Dorlock Homes, which is what Daffy Duck calls himself when he pretends to be Sherlock Holmes?—to realize that an album called Fresh Duck for Rotting Accordionists might have something to do with the Dead Kennedys’ album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables. Sure enough, Fresh Duck for Rotting Accordionists is a track-by-track reworking of the DKs’ 1980 classic album that was released in 2008 by Duckmandu!—complete with exclamation point.

Duckmandu! is a San Francisco-based accordionist named Aaron Seeman, whose repertoire includes “70’s rock, Broadway, klezmer, classical, country, Sousa marches, punk rock, and even a polka or two.” According to Duckmandu!’s website, Klaus Fluoride, the bassist for the Dead Kennedys, reproduces his vocal parts on five of the tracks. Also, Duckmandu! persuaded Winston Smith to do his own duck-centric version of his cover art for the DKs’ In God We Trust, Inc.
 

Aaron Seeman, a.k.a. Duckmandu!
 
After warming up to Richard Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra—you know, the majestic music from 2001: A Space OdysseyFresh Duck for Rotting Accordionists then settles into the project of presenting every song on Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables in order, although it unaccountably leaves out the DKs’ reworking of Elvis’ “Viva Las Vegas,” which closes out the album—maybe there was a legal issue with the rights?

To make up for that, Duckmandu! adds a few other classics from the heady days of the early 1980s, like DEVO’s “Girl U Want,” Black Flag’s “Police Story,” and Minutemen’s “Jesus and Tequila.”

Duckmandu! is justifiably proud of a writeup that appeared in Maximum Rock ‘n Roll, in which Henry Yu wrote that “Duck did a vocal performance that was a warble-for-warble spot-on Jello.”
   
In 2011 Duckmandu! came out with Quack Rock, which purported to present “five duckades of accordion mega-hits,” ranging from “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to “Highway to Hell” and beyond.

“Holiday in Cambodia”:

 
After the jump, hear “Girl U Want” played on the accordion…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Boy George ‘Karma Chameleon’ telephone is the best/worst (and saddest) thing of all time
05.17.2016
09:05 am

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Advertising
Music

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Culture Club and their gender-bending lead singer, Boy George, were top hitmakers in the ‘80s, selling more than 50 million records. Ten of their singles reached the Top 40 in the United States, and they dominated the early days of MTV (back when MTV still aired music videos).

Despite the fact that by the turn of the 21st Century, the ten-hit-wonder group was already practically a footnote in music history, some marketing genius in 2003 came up with this fucking thing:
 

 
This is the “Karma Chameleon” telephone, which was sold via television marketing at the “low, low price” of $69.95 (marked down from $89.95).

It’s a cheap plastic telephone in the shape of a chameleon and ladybug. When the phone “rings,” it plays the Culture Club hit “Karma Chameleon.” The animatronic lizard “sings,” while the ladybug plays the harmonica. The tacky chameleon lights up in the “red, gold, and green” from the song’s lyrics.

Boy George himself actually shows up in the commercial to hawk this item. How badly did he need the money at that point? It looks like they shot him with a VHS camcorder.

When I first saw this, it seemed so over-the-top stupid that I assumed it had to be a put-on—it’s SO “Tim & Eric”—but, no, this was a real, actual thing. Here’s a 2003 Entertainment Weekly article on it, and you can still find the phones on eBay from time to time.

I have to admit, now I kind of want one.
 

 
What it looks like in real life, after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Vintage air guitar on Craigslist, $799
05.16.2016
02:09 pm

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Music

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Some wag in Illinois’ Champaign-Urbana area has put up an ad on Craigslist for a sweet “Vintage Air Guitar” that his uncle gave him after securing it at a Thin Lizzy concert in the 1970s. The instrument is described as a “chick magnet.” Because of the high value of this item, the seller requests “no lowball offers or scams please.”

Here’s the description, in full:
 

Reluctantly parting with this awesome vintage air guitar. My uncle saw some dude in the audience playing this at a Thin Lizzie concert back in the 70s. Long story short, my uncle ended up trading the dude a lid of Acapulco gold for it and then gave it to me about 20 years ago. I’ve taken it to more concerts than I can remember and always get great comments about it. It’s definitely a chick magnet, especially if you’re working the has-been tour circuit (Rick Springfield, Bon Jovi, Kansas, Cheap Trick, whatever). The only reason I’m selling is to fund my lifelong dream of an overseas snipe hunt. Otherwise I’d never let this one go. No lowball offers or scams please.

 

(BTW This has nothing to do with Dave Hickey’s classic book of art criticism Air Guitar, which is available used on Amazon for less than four bucks.)
 

 
If you buy this you can train for the annual Air Guitar World Championships. The current titleholder is Kereel “Your Daddy” Blumenkrants, watch his prize-winning performance here:

 
h/t: Ned Raggett

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
De La Soul’s epic (and slightly awkward) appearance on Dutch TV from 1989
05.16.2016
01:27 pm

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Hip-hop
Music

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Don’t let the flowers and peace symbols fool you, De La Soul are not hippies.
 
It has been 27 years since hip-hop pioneers De La Soul released their groundbreaking album, 3 Feet High and Rising on Tommy Boy Records. I recently pulled my copy of the record out for a spin at the request of my twelve-year-old son, no less, who had just heard “Me Myself and I” on the radio in the car and wanted to know who was responsible for the infectious track. I don’t often brag about my parenting skills, but when I do, musicology is involved.
 

De La Soul on Dutch TV show, Fa. Onrust, 1989.
 
So let’s go back to the magical number year of 1989 and De La Soul’s trip to the Netherlands. The trio appeared on Dutch television show Fa. Onrust and performed three songs from 3 Feet High and Rising, “The Magic Number,” “Plug Tunin’” and “Me, Myself, And I.” To say that De La’s performance is anything less than completely stellar, would be a vast understatement as it could easily be considered a historic piece of hip-hop flavored performance art that beautifully expressed the band’s culturally rich message. A message that still strongly resonates today.

More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
David Bowie and Jeff Beck together as NOT seen in the ‘Ziggy Stardust’ movie
05.16.2016
11:19 am

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Movies
Music

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“I know what kind of welcome you’re gonna give to JEFF BECK!”

Although it’s widely known—or at least widely known among David Bowie fanatics, MOJO subscribers and guitar otakus—that Jeff Beck was the “special guest” at Ziggy and the Spiders’ send-off show at the Hammersmith Odeon on July 3rd, 1973, Beck’s cameo appearance was cut from D.A Pennebaker’s documentary film of the event, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Beck joined Bowie onstage for a blistering two song encore consisting of “The Jean Genie” and a cover of the Chuck Berry number “Around and Around.” There have been several home video releases of the film over the decades and yet none of them have ever restored the Beck footage or even had it as a DVD extra.

It’s not 100% clear why Beck insisted that his footage be edited out of the film, but it’s most likely to do with him not liking what he was wearing onstage that night. Apparently no one had informed the guitarist that the show was being filmed. Even Mick Ronson, no slouch at the time in the goofy clothes department said of Beck’s outfit:

“I was too busy looking at his flares. Even by our standards, those trousers were excessive!”

By the guitar god’s own admission, though, it might’ve been his shoes. In a 2009 interview with The Sunday Times, Beck revealed that it wasn’t his massive flares, but rather his footwear (“the most disgusting pair of dirty-white stack-heeled shoes you’ve ever seen”) that was the reason. He wouldn’t relent:

“Bowie rang me about 10 times and said, “Look, man, I understand about the shoes, ‘cos I didn’t like what I was wearing either.”

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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