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‘Oh Mummy! Oh Daddy!’ The Residents’ first show as The Residents, 1976
10.16.2014
06:08 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Residents


 
This photo, reproduced in Ian Shirley’s Meet The Residents: America’s Most Eccentric Band!, first piqued my curiosity about the 1976 show the Residents had played in mummy costumes. (Or did I first see it in Twenty Twisted Questions?) I read Meet The Residents in 1993, and a few years passed before I learned this had technically been The Residents’ first show, that the show had taken place at a celebration of the Berkeley store Rather Ripped Records’ fifth anniversary, and that the performance had been titled “Oh Mummy! Oh Daddy! Can’t You See That It’s True? What The Beatles Did to Me, I Love Lucy Did to You!” There was not even a rumor of any recording of this show, and it seemed so mysterious and significant to me that, at one point in my life, I would have parted with vital organs just to hear a tape.
 

 
Now, of course, thanks to the miracle of science, anyone can hear the whole show for free on YouTube. There is even a snippet of footage a mouse-click away. No surgery required. (If memory serves, the minute-and-a-half clip was first released in 2006 as an “easter egg” on the DVD that came with the Kettles of Fish on the Outskirts of Town box set.)

The untight performance (cut them some slack—they are playing their instruments while totally swathed in bandages) includes a bit of “Six Things to a Cycle” from Fingerprince, but the performance as a whole is closer in spirit to The Third Reich ‘n’ Roll. The Eye Guys demolish “Satisfaction,” “It’s My Party,” “Wooly Bully,” and “Wipe Out” before treating the audience to an extended version of their own “Kick A Cat” from Meet the Residents.

A description of the show from residents.com:

Oh Mummy! Oh Daddy! was a special show put on for the fifth anniversary of Rather Ripped Records on June 7th, 1976. The Residents were joined by Snakefinger and Zeibak in performances of short versions of Satisfaction and Six Things to a Cycle from Fingerprince. For this show The Residents wrapped themselves up in bandages like mummies and Snakefinger dressed as a giant artichoke. These costumes proved to be a problem, though, as the foursome had rehearsed without them and when they took to the stage they found that it was rather difficult to play their instruments in such restrictive outfits.

Aside from that small oversight, the concert was planned out very thoroughly. Amazingly enough all the music was performed live, except for some pre-recorded backing vocals from the Pointless Sisters who couldn’t attend the performance in person. In addition to Snakefinger’s guitar and The Residents on an assortment of marimbas and xylophones, the band included Don Jackovich on drums and Adrian Deckbar on violin. Vileness Fats’s Arf & Omega put in an appearance performing Kick a Cat.

Bay Area readers, the Exploratorium is presenting the Residents’ Eskimo tonight!

A short video clip of “Oh Mummy! Oh Daddy!”:

 
Audio of the complete performance:

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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Shel Silverstein: A compendium of smut and depravity from the creator of ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends’
10.15.2014
07:23 am

Topics:
Drugs
Literature
Music
Sex

Tags:


 
Shel Silverstein was more than just a quirky, kid-friendly poet with whom we youthfully chuckled while leafing through Where the Sidewalk Ends or A Light in the Attic. Indeed, as your perfectly sensible dad choked back tears while reading to you about the relentlessly cruel passage of time lovingly explored in The Giving Tree, he might well have been unaware of the epically debauched lifestyle of the bittersweet story’s wild-man author.

No doubt about it, Silverstein was an amazing guy. Case in point: he won two Grammys and was posthumously inducted into the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame on top of being a celebrated children’s author selling over 20 million book copies and counting.  But he also smoked a metric shit-ton of weed, sang obscenely, engaged in legendary partying (often on a houseboat), wrote a lot of fairly bent plays for grown-ups and obviously spent a lot of time thinking, writing and drawing about smut. In fact, some of our readers might remember that Shel Silverstein spent several years as a cartoonist for Playboy Magazine.  They might also recall that not only did Silverstein pen the lyrics to “A Boy Named Sue,” a tune made famous by Johnny Cash, and for which he won one of his Grammies, but that Uncle Shelby also wrote a sequel to “A Boy Named Sue” in which Sue’s dad turns him into kind of a live-in housekeeper/sex slave. The list goes on and on, really.
 
Shel Silverstein: Crouchin on the Outside
 
So allow me, as a primer for the uninitiated, or as a walk down a rather raunchy memory lane for those of you already in the know, to take you on a perhaps enlightening, but by no means comprehensive tour of some of the more explicit Shel Silverstein content available on the world wide web.  The stuff that follows is, of course, all pretty chuckle-worthy and, while fairly tame when judged by the standards of other smut, is in no way safe for work. 

Take for example this passage from Silverstein’s long-form poem “The Devil and Billy Markham,” a Faustian ode to the hustler that pits a down-on-his luck Nashville songwriter (Billy) against the Dark Lord himself. After the devil beats Billy in a dice match, he damns him to your standard eternity of painful hell roasting. After a while though, Lucifer realizes that unending damnation isn’t quite as shitty if people don’t get a reminder now and then about how awesome life used to be. So he sends Billy back to earth for 13 hours during which time he is allowed to lecherously fornicate with anything that walks, “man or woman or beast,” and no one will say no.  To sweeten the deal, if anyone does happen to put the kibosh on Billy’s inevitable sexcapade, Billy gets to return to earth.  Of course, all good things come to an end, and the Devil sends Billy a 30 second last call for banging as it were:

And Billy Markham, he stops. . .and he squints at the Devil. . .and says. . .“Sucker. . .I’ll take you.”

“Foul!” cries the Devil. “Foul, no fair! The rules don’t hold for me.”

“You said man or woman or beast,” says Bill, “and I guess you’re all of the three.”

And a roar goes up from the demons of Hell and it shakes the earth across,
 And the imps all squeal and the demons scream, “He’s gonna fuck the boss!”

“Why, you filthy scum,” the Devil snarls, blushing a fiery red,
“I give you a chance to live again and you bust me in front of my friends.”

“Hey, play or pay,” Billy Markham says. “So set me free at last,
Or raise your tail and hear all Hell wail when I bugger your devilish ass.”

The clippings below come from Playboy Magazine and were created as part of a series in which Silverstein traveled all over the place looking for scenes from the fringes of society. They’re hardly scandalous, but perhaps offer a slightly different take on Silverstein if you’re only familiar with “Falling Up”:
 
Silverstein Hooker
 
More Shel Silverstein after the jump…

Posted by Jason Schafer | Discussion
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Seven cover versions of ‘Ghostbusters’ from the Dream Syndicate’s 1984 tour
10.15.2014
06:57 am

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Movies
Music

Tags:
Ghostbusters
Dream Syndicate


The cover of the 1985 Ghost Busters bootleg, recorded in Frankfurt
 
In the storm of publicity attending the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters, a much more important occasion has been overlooked: the 30th anniversary of the Dream Syndicate covering the movie’s theme song. In the summer and fall of 1984, as Ray Parker, Jr.‘s damnably infectious hit saturated the airwaves of the US and UK, the Dream Syndicate worked out a simplified arrangement of the song based on the “Gloria” chords. If you listen to all seven extant versions, “Ghostbusters” might start to sound completely different; it might even start to sound like something off Dylan and the Band’s Basement Tapes.

On tour behind their second album Medicine Show in the US and Europe, the Dream Syndicate sometimes played “Ghostbusters” toward the end of the set. The earliest version—at Jimmy’s in New Orleans, with Tommy Zvoncheck of BÖC on keys—is fairly straightforward, aside from the homage to “Werewolves of London.” By the time they reach D.C., though, having ditched (or been ditched by) the keyboard player, and having reduced “Ghostbusters” to its simplest components, they can do anything with it.

At the 9:30 Club, guitarists Wynn and Precoda quote “Rock And Roll Part 2” before shredding in the style of Television—it’s a shame the tape runs out. In Stockholm, Wynn sees an opportunity to stir up the audience, and works himself into a lather setting up “Ghostbusters”:

Okay, listen, we’re doing a song that’s a big hit in the USA, but I don’t know about here. So the question is, uh, how many of you know a song called ‘Ghostbusters’? Gimme some lights. You know it? You know ‘Ghostbusters’? Get up here and sing it with us. You gotta sing it. C’mere, c’mere! Get up! Whoever can say the word ‘Ghostbusters,’ come on up. Is it a hit here? You’re shy. Alright, who can say ‘Ghostbusters’?

And in Bochum, Germany, “Ghostbusters” becomes the basis for a long jam that turns into “Suzie Q.,” “Sister Ray,” and “L.A. Woman.” Frankfurt gets a slow take on the song that is actually kind of spooky.

One of my favorite things about these performances is that, during the call-and-response section of the song, one band member—bassist Mark Walton?—screams “Ghostbusters” with a little too much spirit and freedom, as if he is belting out the chorus of Discharge’s “Why” rather than lending his assent to the innocuous refrain of a dance song for children’s parties. His commitment to the song is deserving of praise. Bustin’ made him feel bad!

The “Ghostbusters” covers commence after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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Three DVD box set pays tribute to Lou Reed, Velvets, Iggy, Bowie and punk


 
Seemingly just as Lou Reed left this earth, I noticed this box set on Amazon called Lou Reed Tribute from Chrome Dreams, a UK company that has put out some cool DVDs (this one, Frank Zappa, Keith Richards, etc.) and some stuff that puzzles me (Springsteen, Prince, Britney Spears?).

I wasn’t sure about it but it had three DVDs in a nicely designed box and it was so inexpensive that I had to get it. I had just learned about another product of theirs that looked great, a double DVD documentary about Zappa and Beefheart called When Don Met Frank: Beefheart Vs. Zappa, only to read in the reviews that it was a total ripoff and that it was two old documentaries repackaged in one set without any mention of this anywhere on the product. I was prepared for the worst.
 
z.s:d,gchm
 
Surprisingly, these were actually pretty good! First up is The Velvet Underground Under Review—yes, the awful title sounds like a science project, but inside is a concise and interesting documentary featuring interviews with at least one person I’d never seen interviewed before (Norman Dolph, who did their first demo acetate that’s been floating around the last few years and is, in fact, on eBay now for $65,000). I really liked the Billy Name segments as he was actually there on the inside in those early days, which they go into pretty deeply, including the pre-Velvets Pickwick Records budget-goofy rock ‘n’ roll recordings Lou was doing, which I love (and which were not all goofy as there was some true garage greatness in there as well). Also great are the Moe Tucker and Doug Yule interviews.

It had a good approach and really, I can watch stuff like this all day.
 
s;dkjcng
 
The second DVD is The Sacred Triangle: Bowie Iggy & Lou 1971-1973. I really enjoyed this one, though as I started to realize, Chrome Dreams is a bit of a “quickie” company and similar people were overlapped in this and the other DVDs making me realize that these were probably not originally intended to be watched back to back. This also has some amazing interviews, and again really delves into the early days of Bowie’s more whimsical period in the sixties when he was already obsessed and ripping off (and covering) The Velvet Underground, having been given one of the first and only pre first album demo acetates in 1965 or ‘66.

It goes into great detail about Bowie’s “cool beginnings” when the cast of Andy Warhol’s play Pork were in London and looking for bands to see and decided to go see an unknown David Bowie because he was wearing a dress on his then-current album cover. These people (Tony Zanetta, Cherry Vanilla, Wayne County and Leee Black Childers) all became Mainman Ltd., the bizarre company that ran most of Bowie’s affairs and mutated him into Ziggy Stardust in no time. Seeing Leee Black Childers (R.I.P.) interviewed, with him in his rockabilly best and with a big Band-aid® on his forehead said it all as far as who he was and how much he gave a fuck, one of the first true punk rockers, ever.

Similarly but multiplied by a hundred is Wayne, now Jayne County (“now” meaning for the last 35 years or so!) who is amazing in a huge red chair with a wild matching red outfit, makeup and her trademark fishnet stockings over her arms like long gloves, talking matter of factly about what really went down. Everyone knows Jayne County as a glam and then punk rock innovator, but we forget (or some don’t know) that Jayne was a real Warhol Superstar along with Candy Darling, Holly Woodlawn and Jackie Curtis. And Jayne starred in Warhol’s Pork (as Vulva, a characterization of Viva). The interviews with Angie Bowie, as always, are insane and classic. This DVD was really great and informative about my favorite small moment in rock n roll. The only annoyance is that they didn’t know who Cherry Vanilla is, and they talk about her a lot as she starred in Pork but kept showing a photo of someone else every time they referred to her!
 
egrfndtfukr
 
The last DVD, Punk Revolution NYC: The Velvet Underground, The New York Dolls and the CBGB Set 1966-1974 is also really great, surprisingly. Believe me, with a title like this, where I come from this should be a real groaner, but it wasn’t. Not to discredit some of the interviewees, but I think that a lot of bigger names wouldn’t talk to Chrome Dreams, or couldn’t, so they had to dig deeper and get some people that did not become famous, but certainly are people I know that most definitely deserve to be interviewed and put a new spin on a now pretty tired subject. So it actually worked in their favor.

A good “for instance” is Elda Stiletto (Gentile), someone I knew and someone who is the perfect bridge to the exact time frame of this documentary. Elda was married to Warhol Superstar Eric Emerson. Emerson started pretty much the first glitter band in NYC, The Magic Tramps, only to be steamrolled by the New York Dolls and all that came in their path. Eric Emerson was also the upside down figure on The Velvet Underground and Nico LP’s back cover, who sued hoping to get some quick dough, but was foiled when he just caused the LP to be delayed, first with a big sticker covering him, then with his image being airbrushed out of the photo entirely. (Why none of this was mentioned is beyond me.) Elda Stiletto then went on to form The Stilettos with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, a sort of “glitter doo wop” group that morphed into Blondie after all the other girls were gotten rid of. Two of the other gals in The Stilettos were Tish and Snooky who would go on to sing in The Sic Fucks and founded Manic Panic, a small punk store (that is now a large corporation—I was their first employee!) on St. Marks Place (just a few doors down from where The Dom was, where The Velvets played, later to become The Electric Circus where The Stooges and many others played).

Also interviewed are Suicide’s Alan Vega, Richard Lloyd from Television, Leee Black Childers and Jayne County, this time in the most insane outfit ever! She’s on a big black couch, reclining on her back, facing the camera completely covered in a ton of black fabric so she looks like a demented floating disembodied head! Ha ha!! To top it all off she’s wearing a black witchy wig and crazy electric blue makeup that is just insane looking. She never fails to blow my mind! They also talked to Richard Hell, Ivan Julian from The Voidoids, photographer Roberta Bayley, Danny Fields and more. There was oddly, no mention of The Ramones!

Ultimately all three DVDs come off like extremely dry BBC docs and there is a lot of overlap, but it doesn’t totally take away from the experience. The punk DVD just suddenly says “End of Part One” and stops, which is annoying because it actually was good. Where is part two? Sprinkled throughout these documentaries are critics like Robert Christgau and Simon Reynolds, biographer Victor Bockris and other experts.

Below, here’s the lead doc, The Velvet Underground Under Review. The quality is “eh” so you might want to get the DVDs. The Lou Reed Tribute DVD box set sells for less than $20 on Amazon. Used it’s under $10.
 

Posted by Howie Pyro | Discussion
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Never before seen photos of Sleater-Kinney


 
The turn-of-the-‘90s rock underground underwent an intense and desperately overdue conversation about the paucity of women on that scene, and the not-so-hot treatment of those who were there. Despite the inarguably crucial contributions of Siouxsie, Joan Jett, Patti Smith, Exene Cervenka, the Slits, Lydia Lunch, Kim Gordon, and on and on and on, that scene was still largely the tribal domain of amped-up dudebros and snobby, kissless record collector boys, so women in bands got catcalled, and women who dared to brave the mosh pits were typically “rewarded” by being groped or worse.

Of course, the obvious rejoinder to the complaint that there weren’t enough women on the scene was “so start a band.” And holy shit, did young women ever do so in droves. The early ‘90s saw an explosion in female-led, female-dominated, and entirely female bands, most notably in the Riot Grrrl movement, which grafted then-nascent third wave feminism and queer theory onto punk’s who-needs-virtuosity ethos, resulting in some of the era’s most politically charged and musically potent rock. That outburst had a bland mainstream counterpart in the whole Lilith Fair trip, but Joan Osborne and her fake-ass nose ring never delivered anything like the visceral and cerebral thrills of Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and the Riot Grrrl band that found the widest audience, Sleater-Kinney.
 

 
Sleater-Kinney was formed in Olympia, WA by Corin Tucker of the ur-Riot Grrrl band Heavens to Betsey, and Excuse 17 guitarist Carrie Brownstein, now surely much better known for IFC’s hipster-poking sketch comedy series Portlandia. Their first three albums made them critical darlings, but 1997’s Dig Me Out is an undisputed classic, and was their first with drummer Janet Weiss, of the excellent and still active band Quasi. Four more albums followed, all of high quality—for what it’s worth, I’m most partial to One Beat—and in 2001, no less a monster of crit than Greil Marcus called S-K “America’s best rock band” in Time Magazine. Sleater-Kinney went on “indefinite hiatus” in 2006. Two and a half years ago, Brownstein told DIY Mag that Sleater-Kinney would play together again, but that again was two and a half years ago. In the meantime, the band’s members have played in Wild Flag and the Corin Tucker Band.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Sleater-Kinney’s formation, Sub-Pop is releasing a posh, limited box set called Start Together, containing all seven Sleater-Kinney LPs on colored vinyl (they’ll also be available separately on CD and plain old unspectacular non-showoffy puritanical black vinyl). Unfortunately there’s no rarities disc, but the set will come with a hardcover book containing scads of never before seen photos culled from the band members’ personal archives. Dangerous Minds was given a few of them to share with you.
 

 

 

 

 
Here’s something not enough people have seen—it’s Sleater-Kinney’s segment in Justin Mitchell’s 2001 documentary on D.I.Y. bands Songs For Cassavetes. The footage was shot in the Dig Me Out era, and includes live performances of the songs “Words & Guitar” and “Stay Where You Are,” plus some terrific interview footage.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Remember that time David Bowie recorded that shitty song with Mickey Rourke?
10.13.2014
11:26 am

Topics:
Heroes
Music

Tags:
David Bowie
Mickey Rourke


 
In 1987 David Bowie recorded the album Never Let Me Down. What I didn’t know and perhaps you might and are still trying to forget is that a track on the record called “Shining Star (Makin’ My Love),” includes a rap by actor Mickey Rourke mid-way through the song.

Sometimes the world doesn’t make sense, and this is one of those times. The story goes that after meeting Bowie in London while filming A Prayer for the Dying, Rourke approached the Thin White Duke about making an artistic contribution to Never Let Me Down. Bowie agreed and now we can all cross “hearing Mickey Rourke rap on a David Bowie album” off of our collective bucket lists.
 

Posted by Cherrybomb | Discussion
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FUG YOU! The Fugs invade Cleveland, 1967
10.13.2014
08:13 am

Topics:
Music

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The Fugs


 
On May 14, 1967, a benefit was held in Cleveland to assist two local figures on the local literary scene, bookseller James Lowell and poet d. a. levy (who styled his name lower-case), who had been arrested for distributing obscenity. The venue of the concert was Strosacker Auditorium on Case Western campus in Cleveland’s East Side, an edifice that still stands today. The benefit featured free speech hard-liner Allen Ginsberg and New York City punk/folk weirdos The Fugs. In his book Fug You: An Informal History of the Peace Eye Bookstore, the Fuck You Press, the Fugs, and Counterculture in the Lower East Side, Fugs cofounder Ed Sanders called levy “one of the nation’s first Pot Martyrs, a Martyr of the Mimeograph Revolution, and a Martyr for the Right to Read Erotic Verse.” Sanders and legendary Beat figure Peter Orlovsky had both been involved in the distribution of the Marijuana Newsletter, which Sanders had sent to levy.
 

Lowell, levy, and Ginsberg
 
In November 1966 the police arrested levy at a reading at Cleveland’s Gate, a “a gathering place for college students founded by a Christian youth group,” according to a 2007 article in Cleveland Magazine, and a couple of weeks later, Lowell’s Asphodel Book Shop on Cleveland’s West 6th Street was raided by the police which seized “nine crates of d.a.‘s publications on the grounds that they advocated the legalization of hemp and a mimeograph machine,” according to Sanders.
 

 
The next day the following report appeared in the Cleveland Press, a daily newspaper (original typos preserved):
 

Benefit Boosts Fund for Levy and Lowell

A fund for the legal aid of poet D. A. Levy and bookstore owner James R. Lowell stood at $1000 today following a benefit performance by poet Alan Ginsburg and a folk-singing group from New York City.

Jasper Wood, chairman of the Lowell-Levy defense fund committee, said $3000 still is needed.

Levy is accused of disseminating and reading obscene poetry and Lowell is charged with selling obscene material.

Wood reported no police harassment at the session in Case Tech’s Strosacker auditorium. A capacity audience of 600 was on hand to hear the idols of New York’s Greenwich Village.

Ginsburg, who is probably the best known of the nation’s beat poets, read one of the poems for which Levy was arrested.

Levy read two poems.

Ginsburg, and the folk-rock group called the Fugs, donated their services. The Fugs, who flew here from Madison Wis., are on a national tour.

Wood said another poetry reading, by Robert Creeley, described as one of the top American contemporary poets, was scheduled for a later date.

Western Reserve University physics professor Paul Zilsel presided.

He told the audience: “I can go down Euclid Ave. and buy all the commercially produced literature I want.  As far as I am concerned, Mayor Locher’s callousness is obscene, the Hough riots are obscene, the war in Vietnam is obscene.

“I would rather listen to Ginsburg.”

Although Case officials had been subjected to some pressure to cancel the concert, no disturbances were reported. One student placed a sign in his dormitory window which said, “Draft Poets, Not Engineers.”

 

 
According to Cleveland Magazine, “In early 1968, the prosecutor agreed to drop the obscenity charges against levy and Lowell, citing liberal Supreme Court rulings. Levy’s lawyer convinced him to plead no contest to the juvenile charges to avoid a felony conviction, prison or an expensive legal fight. Levy agreed to pay a $200 fine and no longer associate with juveniles or give them his poetry. ... ‘We probably made a mistake in that case,” Gold says. “Even though there was no real sanction imposed, it was an inner sanction with him. I think it broke his spirit a lot.’”

On November 24, 1968, levy shot himself in his East Cleveland apartment. Lowell died in 2004.

Here’s a brief clip of The Fugs from the Cleveland benefit concert:
 

 
There is a second clip of levy from the same May 14, 1967, event reading from his works that is not embeddable.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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You gotta have ‘Fwends’: Flaming Lips’ Beatles tribute to benefit animal charity
10.10.2014
01:54 pm

Topics:
Animals
Music

Tags:
Flaming Lips


 
When we last saw our friends (and former Dangerous Minds guest editors) the Flaming Lips, they’d just released Musik, Die Shwer Zu Twerk (“Music that’s hard to twerk to”) as their prog meets krautrock alter egos Electric Würms.

That was in August and already Oklahoma’s ever-prolific fearless freaks are back with their song-for-song Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Band tribute album, recorded with a little help from “heavy fwends” like Miley Cyrus, Moby, My Morning Jacket, J. Mascis, Dr. Dog, Phantogram, Tegan and Sara, and Grace Potter. As Electric Würms, The Lips offer a druggy take on “Fixing a Hole.”

All proceeds from sales of With A Little Help From My Fwends will be donated to The Bella Foundation, a non-profit organization based in the band’s hometown of Oklahoma City that assists low-income, elderly, or terminally ill pet owners with the cost of veterinary care.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Is banned art-film, ‘Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story,’ the weirdest music movie ever made?


 
Director Todd Haynes is well-known for his arty, fictionalized depictions of music iconography. Velvet Goldmine was a glam rock epic, with characters modeled after Bowie and Iggy, while I’m Not There features seven different actors portraying “fictional” facets of Bob Dylan’s personality or mystique. Both films blur reality with stylized interpretations, but neither takes even a fraction of the liberties Haynes exercised with his 1987 grad school student film, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story.

The film opens up on Karen’s death, then flashes back to narrate her rise to fame. It’s a spasmodic format—switching between interviews with peripheral music industry people, random footage and fascinatingly elaborate mise-en-scène reenactments staged with Barbie dolls and melodramatic voice-overs. In reference to Karen’s anorexia, Haynes actually whittled down her Barbie effigy with a knife for later scenes, mimicking the progressive emaciation of her body. It’s a dark portrayal of a slow death, Karen and Barbie, both icons of American perfection, wasting away before our eyes.

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story is technically illegal to exhibit, although since the advent of YouTube, it’s a bit of a moot point (the upload embedded below was posted in 2012). Karen’s brother Richard sued Haynes for copyright infringement. MOMA has a copy but even they aren’t allowed to screen it. Even if Haynes hadn’t used Carpenters songs, there’s a good chance Richard Carpenter would’ve found basis for a lawsuit. Haynes portrays Karen as the victim of her narcissistic and tyrannical family, even suggesting Richard was closeted.

It’s difficult not to be sympathetic to Richard Carpenter who probably viewed the film as mere ghoulish, exploitative sensationalism. It’s a strangely invasive and voyeuristic piece of art, and the argument could be made that it’s totally unethical in its ambiguous, semi-biographical fiction. It’s also totally hypnotic, with a compelling narrative and a pioneering experimentalism that makes it one of the great cult classics.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘Combat Shock’: The Troma film inspired by Suicide’s ‘Frankie Teardrop’
10.10.2014
08:03 am

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
Suicide
Troma
Combat Shock


 
Frankie’s having a terrible day. His wife and infant son are starving. He’s run out of money and food. Now he’s going to be evicted. He’s got a gun. Let’s hear it for Frankie…

If this sounds familiar, it’s because the story of the 1984 Troma movie Combat Shock bears a striking resemblance to that of Suicide’s harrowing song “Frankie Teardrop.” The movie concerns the struggle of a young man named Frankie to feed his wife and child in blighted Staten Island, and if you’ve heard the song, I don’t have to tell you that it ends pretty badly for Frankie, his family, you, me, and the entire human race.

Frankie isn’t a factory worker in this version of the story, but an unemployed Vietnam vet whose days and nights are continually interrupted by flashbacks of ‘Nam and the torture he suffered at the hands of the VC. These, in turn, lead to flashbacks within flashbacks where, for purposes of exposition, Frankie relives arguments with his father, now estranged because a) Frankie has refused to carry on the family legacy of race hate and b) Dad disapproves of Mrs. Frankie. Suffering through the exposition of any movie is itself a form of torture.

However, these gestures toward the conventions of plot are mercifully few and brief, and Combat Shock soon makes with the laffs and gasps you crave from late-night horror fare. Much of the pleasure of watching Combat Shock comes from the genre detail writer, director, producer and editor Buddy Giovinazzo adds to extend Suicide’s story to feature length. For instance, because of Frankie’s exposure to Agent Orange, and because this is a Troma movie, the child looks like a cross between the Eraserhead baby and Edvard Munch’s screamer.

Until the awful climax, the movie takes its time presenting a loser’s-eye view of urban anomie. If you’ve ever lived in a place that had a TV set, you already know all these characters: Frankie’s slow descent into madness involves demoralizing encounters with small-time hoods (Frankie’s creditors), child prostitutes, junkie thieves and social workers (one of whom is missing a Ronco Veg-O-Matic). There are also one or two thrilling surprises, even for the very jaded.
 

 
And in case you somehow feel cheated of your full share of human misery after watching Combat Shock, here’s a kind of sequel to “Frankie Teardrop,” Alan Vega’s 12-minute bum-out “Viet Vet.”

 
Thanks to Greg Bummer of Azusa, CA!

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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