Peter Murphy putting on his makeup before their first Chicago gig at ‘Space Place’ in 1980. Photo by Brian Shanley.
Chicago-based photographer Brian Shanley was on the scene when Bauhaus landed in Chicago for the first time (a staggering 36-years ago this month) and was was able to get up close and personal with the band during their gig at Space Place, an industrial-looking nightclub in Chicago’s meatpacking district.
According to Shanley he was allowed to photograph Bauhaus during candid moments and even got close enough to capture the Godfather of Goth, vocalist Peter Murphy, putting on his makeup. After the show Shanley partied with Bauhaus which included a rather life-defining moment in which he watched a VHS copy of John Water’s Pink Flamingos with the band, which they had never seen before. Damn.
It’s also worth mentioning that Murphy was a mere 23 years old at the time and the band had yet to release their debut album In the Flat Field. Their first single, goth blueprint “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” (you can hear a live recording of the number at Space Place, here) was already deeply implanted in their fans’ brains. If you’re a fan of Bauhaus, Shanley has a large array of gorgeous black and white photos for sale.
And since we are speaking of Bauhaus, the group’s drummer Kevin Haskins is about to publish a coffee table book titled Bauhaus - The Archives. Haskins has amassed a huge collection of Bauhaus artifacts since the late 70s including vintage setlists, fan club fodder and handwritten lyrics—most of which have never seen the light of day, like the photographs in this post. Pre-orders for Haskins’ book are going on now with an expected ship date sometimes in November, 2016.
We’re closing in fast on Cassette Store Day (yes, there is such a thing). It’s October 8, and former Sonic Youth member Thurston Moore, is using the celebration of tape culture as an occasion to release a song in support of the campaign to free U.S. Army Private Chelsea Manning, who in July 2013 was sentenced to 30 years in military prison for sharing information on WikiLeaks. The information Manning (then known as Bradley Manning) released included footage of a U.S. helicopter attack that killed a dozen Iraqis plus uninvestigated reports of casualties, torture, and corporate interest in international diplomacy.
On August 22, 2013, the day after sentencing, Manning’s attorney made it known to the press his client was a female, and requested that she be referred to by her new name of Chelsea and feminine pronouns.
The name of Moore’s single is “Chelsea’s Kiss” with “Sad Saturday” as the B-side. The “cassingle” is being released by Blank Editions and some of the proceeds will go to the Chelsea Manning Support Network. The track was recorded by Moore, Ryan Sawyer, Deb Googe (of My Bloody Valentine), and James Sedwards (of Nøught). If you are in London on October 8, a release party will be held at Lion Coffee + Records in London.
Getting to know John Deacon with the help of Japanese fortune-teller Kiyoshibo Yasou in Music Life magazine (Japan), 1977. Larger resolution can be seen here.
“Since the left hand of the index finger is longer than the ring finger, will be successful and to work standing on top of the people.”
—Japanese fortune-teller Kiyoshibo Yasuo deciphering the hidden messages of John Deacon’s palm
A couple of weeks ago I posted about Japanese magazine Music Life and since that time I’ve continued to uncover some cool artifacts from the wildly popular vintage magazine such as this curious bit of strangeness—a somewhat clinical sounding dissection of Queen bassist John Deacon’s palm by a person the publication notes to be Japanese fortune-teller Kiyoshibo Yasou. A mysterious individual that I can find no reference for anywhere on the Internet outside of this odd little article from 1977.
Yasuo breaks down Deacon using an Astrological analysis, the process of Physiognomy (in which the evaluation of a person’s facial features is used to determine their personality type), a handwriting analysis and finally a deep-dive into Deacon’s palm to reveal his most innermost secrets. Of course when the excerpt from the magazine was translated into English using Google it produced a number of amusing, poorly translated revelations about the notoriously private Deacon that were strangely not terribly far from the truth. Such as this part of Deacon’s (a Leo by the way) astrological analysis:
Early success in life, is a lifetime of happiness. Romantic relationship too because it is (of his) masculine personality. Mote to women.
So because I’m deeply fascinated by this piece of rock and roll ephemera and a huge fan of the musical genius that is John Deacon I can tell you that Yasuo’s big reveal wasn’t that far off from reality. Deacon joined Queen when he was only nineteen-years-old which clearly equals “early success in life” by any reasonable standards. By the time he was 24 in 1975 he was already married to Veronica Tetzlaff and about to become a father for the first time after the devout Catholic become pregnant shortly after meeting Deacon at a disco. The couple has been married for 41 years have six children together which to many would be reflective of a “lifetime of happiness.”
I must say that overall I found Deacon’s amusing palm reading revealing as well as silly at times. Especially when it comes to the state of his gastrointestinal health and the skill of “standing on top of people” (included in the assessment of “Figure A” at the top of this post). Stay with me because here we go!
Figure B: the index finger and intelligence lines between the middle finger has stretched. This sweeping is the proof of good head.
Figure C: The horizontal line often is the lonely shop.
Figure D: Emotion line is divided for many present, one of them has been elongated. This is the person who sweeping have easy element becomes emotional. *(Analysis had been resting on another issue) * It does not have much thickness of the overall hand. Internal organs, care must be taken so easy especially break the gastrointestinal. It is not fatally bad phase, but as many fortune of something to struggling unfortunately.
“Shirley Collins is a truly amazing figure. She… is the very spirit of folk music, and has always been in a kind of awkward relationship with it, as the kind of music that Shirley has always espoused is the oldest, truest, perhaps darkest form of folk music, with all of these fantastic dissonances, all this bloody and tragic history distilled into every verse…’—Alan Moore
While making “Ekki múkk,” a film for Icelandic rockers Sigur Rós, I was looking for someone to play a kindly snail, and when David Tibet of Current 93 suggested Shirley Collins. I thought she would be perfect, and she was. Shirley is a legend within folk circles, and I have loved her channeling of an English folk tradition from the moment I first heard her Anthems in Eden many years ago.
In November, Domino Records are releasing her first recording for 38 years, Lodestar, and I was pleased as punch when Shirley asked if I would make a film to accompany the track “Death and the Lady.” I was surprised as anyone, as at the time I had no idea she had been recording anything! This video in many ways is a companion piece to “Ekki Mukk,” sharing as they do themes of nature, life, death… the big themes!
“[The video]… captures the sinister quality of the song, the inevitability of Death coming to us all. The setting in the ossuary at Hythe is chilling, yet calm, almost tender; and the appearance of the hooden horses is so wonderfully strange and unsettling.”—Shirley Collins
The skull which contains a robin’s nest in it in the video was not a prop, it really is a feature of the ossuary—a robin really did once make its nest within that broken skull! The memory of this nest from some long ago holiday is what drew me back to film at St Leonard’s in Hythe in Kent. It seemed like such a unique location, a reminder of the constant coexistence of life and death. The song itself has Kentish roots, and the horseskull creatures are inspired by the Kentish tradition of the Hooden Horse, where a horse skull would traditionally be used in performing an ancient folk custom about death and resurrection—although these were later replaced by painted wooden horse heads, in order to be less scary.
And finally, artist Cathy Ward—who grew up nearby—had designed some amazing corn dollies, woven in the traditional manner, yet utterly modern, alien and mysterious, all at once.
The film is fairly elemental, using water, air, earth and especially fire as textures to layer over Shirley and the landscape. When visiting her to discus the video, I saw some old photographs of her taken by Alan Lomax, the seminal field collector of folk music, and she was kind enough to let me include these in the clip. They seemed to fit well with the themes of vanity and death, and added an extra level of poignancy, contrasting with the Shirley of today.
And if the end of the video seems to echo the famous “Dance of Death” at the end of Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, that’s because it turned out that both Shirley and I had independently thought about that scene when thinking about the song’s lyrics. I asked Shirley why she had not recorded for 38 years. She told that when she discovered her then-husband was having an affair, she “went through … a loss of confidence in my ability to sing well, leading on to dysphonia, where sometimes I couldn’t even make a sound.”
When I was young, copies of Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass‘s chart-topping album Whipped Cream & Other Delights could be found nearly everywhere you looked. In record stores, in every garage sale, and most probably in your father’s record collection. Maybe you noticed this too? It was a hard one to to miss!
Suave and good-looking, the dapper and charismatic trumpet player provided the perfect soundtrack to the archetypal bullfight poster-clad swinging bachelor pad of the 1960s—not to mention a James Bond movie. If your parents went to Vegas, they might’ve come back with a tale of seeing a fiery set by the Tijuana Brass.
Even if Herb Alpert was pretty cool, he was still your dad’s generation’s idea of “cool” (or perhaps your grandfather’s by this point). His songs were played during The Dating Game and Alpert frequently appeared on the most staid and middle-of-the-road TV variety shows. Not unfairly he is considered somewhat of a “show biz” performer of the “easy listening” variety, but he produced some of the most iconic and pleasing pieces of instrumental pop music of the 1960s, at times outselling even the Beatles and shifting some 70 million albums.
A sundae kind of love?
Best of all? He co-owned the record label (Alpert is the “A” in A&M Records, the “M” is his business partner, Jerry Moss). Your father’s idea of cool, perhaps, but the motherfucker was a gangsta businessman, too, raking in millions selling crate-loads of Carpenters, Cat Stevens, Sting, Janet Jackson, Supertramp and Peter Frampton albums.
In 1978 Gary Numan, then still with Tubeway Army, did the vocals for a commercial for the English jeans manufacturer Lee Cooper. The commercial featured some hyper-fashionable Londoners with pasty skin and glowing green and blue eyes. In the commercial, Numan sings a song called “Don’t Be a Dummy” with the following lyrics:
Don’t be a dummy!
Move like honey
Don’t be a dummy!
Use your money
Come out proud, don’t hide in the crowd
Find the gear of love to grind
Find the gear to suit you
Mine’ll suit ya!
Interestingly, according to an article by Nick Robertshaw that appeared in Billboard in October 1978, music executives pushed hard for Numan to release the song as a single, but he wouldn’t do it:
Isabella Ibarra at the Southeast Career Technical Academy deserves a big round of applause for these excellent compilations she put together featuring the patrons of the Stratus Dance Club in the San Diego area (actually Spring Valley) in 1986 and 1987 dancing their asses off.
This was East County, and Stratus was an all-ages club that catered heavily to the new romantic and goth crowds—these videos are all labeled “The Metro Beat and Club Sanctuary Nights” which was surely a regular rendezvous for the new wavers in the area. Jane’s Addiction actually played Stratus right during this period, in the spring of 1987.
Back in the Canterbury Apartments days of Los Angeles’ punk scene Alice Bag, of the Bags, met neighbor Shannon Wilhelm whom she eventually ended up living with. After the end of the Bags—and more or less the end of the seedy Canterbury Apartments—Alice Bag was recruited to play bass for a new band called Castration Squad.
This early deathrock band was made up of Shannon Wilhelm (vocals), Mary Bat-Thing (vocals), Tiffany Kennedy (keyboards), Alice Bag (bass), Tracy Lea (guitar) and Elissa Bello (drums). The fairly unknown band was comprised of some quite legendary female rockers. All female bands were still quite a novelty at this time so it’s noteworthy that not only this was a proto deathrock band but also that there were six women in it. Mary Bat-Thing was known as “Dinah Cancer” as part of 45 Grave; Elissa Bello joined after a brief stint in the Go-Go’s and Tracy Lea was in Redd Kross. Lesbian folksinger Phranc (who’d been in Nervous Gender) also played with the group.
We’re a little short on details, but on Saturday afternoon the Chicago-based archival record label known as Numero Group—you’ve seen their box sets at the record store, you know you have—put up a cryptic tweet that seems to suggest that a Hüsker Dü reissue product is on the way. The tweet consisted entirely of the words “Seven years in the making. It begins.” along with a photo of a demo tape with an early, soon-to-be-abandoned Hüsker Dü logo on it.
For Record Store Day 2013, Numero Group put out four early songs by Hüsker Dü—actually a reworking of the band’s first single, “Amusement/Statues.” That first 7-inch had been conceived as a four-song 10-inch release but the eventual product had only the two songs; “Writer’s Cramp” and “Let’s Go Die” had to be left off. The Numero Group package combined all four songs as originally imagined, albeit on two 7-inches. Here’s an AV Club writeup of that release announcement.
The photo in Numero Group’s message is of a cassette, on the cover of which handwritten text “MAC-BRUCE DEMO TAPE” can be discerned. It seems likely that the cassette contains the Bill Bruce demos, which Hüsker Dü recorded in May 1979. The demos consist of six songs, including “Do the Bee” and “MTC.” That session appeared on the 2010 Personal Choice release The Truth Hurts along with the Northern Lights demos from Winter 1979 and sessions with Colin Mansfield.
A huge tip of my hat goes out to the excellent Boston-based music and culture blog Vanyaland and their equally excellent editor-in chief Michael Marotta for posting this previously unseen footage of The Police performing at legendary Boston club “The Rat” (or the Rathskeller if you prefer) back in 1978. The footage was captured during the band’s four-night stand at the Rat in October just before Halloween.
The legendary ‘Rathskeller.’
During the club’s heyday it played host to pretty much every band you’ve ever loved like Mission of Burma, Thin Lizzy, the Ramones, Sonic Youth, Talking Heads and the subjects of this post, The Police are just a few off the top of my head. Local rock and roll radio station WBCN (where yours truly got her start as an engineer and producer during the late 80s) was championing the single “Roxanne” from the band’s 1978 debut Outlandos d’Amour which was also rotating heavily on college radio airwaves. According to Jan Cocker who shot the footage, nobody—not the band themselves—has ever seen it. Until now.