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Boredoms collect 77 drummers in Brooklyn for the ultimate mind-blowing drum circle
10.05.2017
12:56 pm
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Any discussion of fucked-up Japanese music has to begin with Yamataka Eye or Yamatsuka Eye or Yamantaka Eye or whatever he’s calling himself in 2017. In the 1980s he was in the Osaka-based outfit Hanatarashi (which means “sniveler” or “snot-nosed”), whose extreme shows are still the stuff of legend—Eye quit the band after seriously injuring himself in the leg with a chainsaw during a gig. Top that one, you pikers in Einstürzende Neubauten!

In the 1990s Eye founded the provocative Boredoms, which straddled that elusive line between “destroying all conceptions of rock music” and “staying together long enough to release a whole bunch of albums.” Douglas Wolk’s quasi-intentionally uproarious writeup of their work in The New Rolling Stone Album Guide calls their early release Onanie Bomb Meets The Sex Pistols
 

a total mess—they’ve clearly decided that they want to destroy everything predictable about music, but haven’t a clue what to replace it with. There’s a lot of vehement shrieking in a made-up language, riffs that self-destruct after a few seconds, and incoherent clattery mayhem.

 
Wolk calls a later album, Pop Tatari, “hilariously berserk.” But they were just getting started.

About a decade ago, Eye started a loose series of concerts to celebrate various pleasingly symmetrical calendar dates—07/07/07, 11/11/11 (known in some circles as Corduroy Appreciation Day), and so on. The first show, the 7/7/7 one, is probably the best-known, because it attracted a large audience of New Yorkers and also ended up as a DVD product available from Thrill Jockey.
 

 
In June of 2007 word spread that there was going to be a massive Boredoms-organized drum event, to be held on July 7. The show was to be held underneath the Brooklyn Bridge at Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park. Admission would be free, but an RSVP would be required. It became one of those events in New York that rapidly generate an urgent, must-see vibe among the self-appointed cognoscenti. About 4,000 attended, and those who ended up getting excluded became pretty annoyed about it. Amusingly, some used the bridge itself as a vantage point to take in the action, as seen below.

The name of the show was 77Boadrum (sometimes styled “77 Boa Drum”). Obviously, the time to start an event with 77 drummers on 7/7/7 is 7:07 p.m., which was the case. It was presumed (or possibly announced) that the ultra-large combo would play for 77 minutes (does make sense, no?) but apparently they played for almost two hours. Every drummer was provided with the same setup, a full 5-piece, 3 cymbal drum kit, all of which would be arranged in a large spiral (to mimic DNA, supposedly) with the Boredoms at the center. Eleven “drum leaders” were selected to occupy strategic positions in the spiral to keep the stragglers on track and on tempo.
 

Photo credit: BrooklynVegan
 
It goes without saying that this collection of percussionists was quite impressive. Among the drum leaders were Kid Millions (Oneida), Tim Dewit (Gang Gang Dance), and Brian Chippendale (Lightning Bolt), and the full ensemble included figures such as Andrew W.K., Sara Lund (Unwound), John Moloney and Taylor Richardson (Sunburned Hand of the Man), Matt Schulz (Holy Fuck), Josh Madell (Antietam), Jason Kourkounis (Bardo Pond), and Chris Brokaw (Come). Check here for a fuller list.

Okay, enough of my yakking…

READ ON
Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.05.2017
12:56 pm
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Fred Schneider of the B-52s sings Harry Nilsson’s ‘Coconut’ with two different Nineties supergroups
10.05.2017
07:38 am
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People usually look at me skeptically when I put a copy of Fred Schneider’s second Reprise album in their hands and command them to buy it. The reaction used to puzzle me, but now I think I understand: the retail price of a used CD of Just…Fred hovers around $1. While this price point makes us old folks of slender means rise from our Rascal electric scooters and dance in the Kmart aisles, fanning the air with fistfuls of coupons, today’s jaded shoppers read such a heavily discounted sticker as a guarantee of worthlessness. So I am taking a different tack. I hereby command you to purchase the rare white vinyl pressing of Just…Fred, which starts at $49.99 and goes for up to $199.98, so you can truly appreciate its quality.

I’m not kidding. Those who know, know. In a sane world, the Steve Albini-produced masterpiece would have a place on every American mantel, and there would be compulsory shining of its cover once a week. Backing Fred on the momentous solo joint were Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet, Six Finger Satellite, and an ad hoc supergroup called Deadly Cupcake, comprising the Didjits’ Rick Sims on guitar, Tar’s Tom Zaluckyj on bass, and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s Russell Simins on drums. This last band propelled the album’s four-minute cover of Harry Nilsson’s “Coconut,” which reimagined the laid-back novelty hit as a punk complaint.
 

 
Schneider had already recorded “Coconut” for the previous year’s Nilsson tribute album with a completely different supergroup, this one featuring Ivan Julian from Richard Hell & the Voidoids and Tracy Wormworth of the Waitresses. Owing, perhaps, to its relative familiarity in 1995 as the song from the end credits of Reservoir Dogs, “Coconut” was chosen as the tribute album’s single, and Schneider went on Late Night with Conan O’Brien to sing it.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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10.05.2017
07:38 am
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Post-punk and post-rock albums redone as postage stamps on Swiss modernist design principles
10.04.2017
09:51 am
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In a certain way, there’s nothing less “rock ‘n roll” than the Swiss poster design of the mid-twentieth century. The International Typographic Style and its design analogue, while frequently alluring, are stiff and unspontaneous, rife with right angles, straight lines, spare layouts, and immaculately kerned letters. They appeal to the part of the mind that cries out for order.

Both the post-punk and post-rock movements took a step or two away from the overtly rage-derived music of the Sex Pistols or X-Ray Spex, finding solace in “cooler” and oftentimes more robotic music that cloaked its emotionalism in tempered musical styles. This isn’t to say that there’s no emotion in Joy Division, Radiohead, Gang of Four, or Tortoise, merely that those groups and their ilk are more interested in seeking out the boundaries of form rather than letting their “wet,” subjective feelings take center stage.

In her book Exploring Typography, Tova Rabinowitz has this to say about the Swiss font-heads of decades past:
 

Around 1945, two former Bauhaus students, Théo Ballmer and Max Bill of Switzerland, recognized that increasing globalization with creating a need for a visual language that would be suitable for international communication. The style they developed—which was based on a clear arrangement of elements, photography, abstract designs, and sans-serif typefaces—came to be called the International Typographic Style (also called Swiss International Style). ... Any elements that might be confusing to an international audience were excluded. Unemotional layouts were composed that relied heavily on mathematical modular grids and a hierarchical organization of information. All elements were selected and sized to create direct and informative layouts. The calm objectivity of the International Typographic Style gained popularity, especially among corporate interests, and was dominant in America and Europe throughout the 1950s. International Typographic Style typefaces were sans serifs, based on geometric shapes. Helvetica, designed by Max Miedinger in 1952 ... became one of the most widely used typefaces in history. Univers, designed by Adrian Frutiger in 1957, gained immense popularity because of its extensive range of type styles.

 

For such reasons one might argue that Swiss modernism and post-punk/post-rock are natural partners. Not long ago the good people of Bleep.com unveiled two breathtaking posters celebrating the landmarks of post-punk and post-rock. For each genre “Dorothy” generated an incredible poster of 42 postage stamps, each celebrating a different album. Both posters are 4 colour print with silver foil and measure 80x60 centimeters. The post-punk poster features seminal albums such as Throbbing Gristle’s 20 Jazz Funk Greats, The Teardrop Explodes’ Kilimanjaro, The Cure’s Pornography, and The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Psychocandy. Meanwhile, the post-rock album celebrates Slint’s Spiderland, Stereolab’s Dots and Loops, Mogwai’s Young Team, Radiohead’s Kid A, and Tortoise’s Millions Now Living Will Never Die. In every case the album is represented by a spare, “Swiss”-inspired visual motif and lists the name of the artist, the album title, the running time, the label, and the release date—thus proving that the International Typographic Style is an efficient method of transmitting information.

Both posters cost $45.50 but the post-punk one is temporarily out of stock; however they are “expected soon.”
 
Catch the posters after the jump…........
 

READ ON
Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.04.2017
09:51 am
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Jean-Luc Godard and the catchiest song ever written about a brutal dictator
10.03.2017
08:02 am
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A few weeks ago I signed up for a new membership at the Cinematheque in Cleveland, and I’ve been attending movies there at a far higher rate than I was before. One of the previews I ended up seeing several times was the utterly infectious trailer for Jean-Luc Godard‘s La Chinoise, which was until very recently unavailable on DVD and a new digital restoration of which has been making the rounds of the art-house circuit this year.

A bizarre adaptation of Dostoevsky’s novel The Demons, La Chinoise puts five French-speaking radicals in a tidy Paris apartment decked out in appealing primary colors and festooned with slogans, as they push forward their Maoist agenda. This movie came out a year before the widespread unrest in Paris 1968, and not unusually Godard had his finger on the pulse of something. Godard’s wife, Anne Wiazemsky, plays the most radical (i.e. most bomb-throwing) character, and the final act of the movie centers around a lengthy debate on a moving train about the utility of political violence with an actual professor named Francis Jeanson who had been tried for treason for his radical activities in connection with the Algerian War. Jeanson argues against political violence in La Chinoise, while Godard piped in his own retorts into Wiazemsky’s earpiece during the take.
 

 
The movie La Chinoise is diverting, but in all honesty it tested my ability to stay out of REM state. The movie poses the as-yet-unasked question of what would happen if Wes Anderson directed a script by Yvonne Rainer, whose movies (I find them compulsively watchable) sometimes include characters reading political tracts aloud as dialogue. (To be fair, it’s a testament to Godard’s prodigious gifts that he could plausibly anticipate both Anderson and Rainer.)

I saw that preview probably five times and as a result, the featured song, “Mao Mao,” sung by Claude Channes and written by Channes, Gérard Guégan, and Gérard Hugé, would always get relentlessly lodged in my head for days afterward. Part of the song’s charm is the French pronunciation of “Mao”—at least in this song—with two strong syllables, “Ma-Oh,” whereas in English it’s a one-syllable word. The decision to end every line in the verse with “MA OH MA OH” and the infectious chorus apparently sung by children (or at least recorded to give that effect) makes this one hell of a song.
 

 
Not surprisingly, the song is about .... uh, Chairman Mao, supreme leader of China for a generation, known then in English as Mao Tse-Tung and today universally as Mao Zedong. It’s tempting to try to figure out whether the song is pro- or anti-Mao….. it’s a fool’s errand. The lyrics make references to both “renouncing” and “following” Mao and the song should most clearly be seen as the taking up of Mao as a pop subject. One might say that it’s postmodern in the sense that the status of Mao’s pluses and minuses take a back seat to his incomparable there-ness—as the leader of Communist China during the Vietnam War and having recently overseen the Cultural Revolution, Mao was there to be discussed, debated, apprehended no matter what.

La Chinoise is worth a look but what remains is the song (which does appear in the movie). I’ve seldom found a ditty about a brutal dictator as engaging as Channes’ masterpiece, and I had to pass it on to the faithful Dangerous Minds readership. Here are the lyrics in French and an English translation, followed by the trailer, which is a must-see for those who like odd, catchy songs.
 

Le Vietnam brûle et moi je hurle Mao Mao
Johnson rigole et moi je vole Mao Mao
Le napalm coule et moi je roule Mao Mao
Les villes crèvent et moi je rêve Mao Mao
Les putains crient et moi je ris Mao Mao
Le riz est fou et moi je joue Mao Mao

C’est le petit livre rouge
Qui fait que tout enfin bouge

L’impérialisme dicte partout sa loi
La révolution n’est pas un dîner
La bombe A est un tigre en papier
Les masses sont les véritables héros
Les Ricains tuent et moi je mue Mao Mao
Les fous sont rois et moi je bois Mao Mao
Les bombes tonnent et moi je sonne Mao Mao
Les bébés fuient et moi je fuis Mao Mao
Les Russes mangent et moi je danse Mao Mao
Giap dénonce, je renonce Mao Mao

C’est le petit livre rouge
Qui fait que tout enfin bouge

La base de l’armée, c’est le soldat
Le vrai pouvoir est au bout du fusil
Les monstres seront tous anéantis
L’ennemi ne périt pas de lui-même
Mao Mao
Mao Mao
Mao Mao

========

Vietnam burns and me I spurn Mao Mao
Johnson giggles and me I wiggle Mao Mao
Napalm runs and me I gun Mao Mao
Cities die and me I cry Mao Mao
Whores cry and me I sigh Mao Mao
The rice is mad and me a cad

It’s the Little Red Book
That makes it all move

Imperialism lays down the law
Revolution is not a party
The A-bomb is a paper tiger
The masses are the real heroes
The Yanks kill and me I read Mao Mao
The jester is king and me I sing Mao Mao
The bombs go off and me I scoff Mao Mao
Girls run and me I follow Mao Mao
The Russians eat and me I dance Mao Mao
I denounce and I renounce Mao Mao

It’s the Little Red Book
That makes it all move

 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.03.2017
08:02 am
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That time Francis Ford Coppola wrote John Lennon about ‘Apocalypse Now’
10.02.2017
11:43 am
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01frankjohnapocpo.jpg
 
The writer and director Cameron Crowe recently tweeted an impressive piece of pop culture history. It was a photograph of the correspondence between Francis Coppola and John Lennon, in regard of the former-Beatle hanging out with the famed director in the Philippines and maybe writing/contributing some music for Coppola’s movie Apocalypse Now.

The pair had obviously met at some point and an idea had been suggested. What exactly this idea was, and how far or how seriously it was taken, well, we just don’t know. What seems apparent is that Coppola was feeling a tad lonely working and living 24/7 on location and the “rarified air” of the Philippines was having its own effect.

The letter starts off like a typical fan letter but Coppola probably lost Lennon at the line where he says he is living inside a volcano.

March 24, 1977

Mr. John Lennon
Lennon Music
1307 Avenue of the Americas
New York, New York 10019

Dear John:

We’ve never met but, of course, I’ve always enjoyed your work.

I am presently in the Philippines making “APOCALYPSE NOW”. I’ve been here eight months, expect to be here another several months. I live inside a volcano, which is a jungle paradise, where there are beautiful mineral springs; and thought of ever you were in the Far East or if ever you would enjoy spending a little time talking about things in general and some distant future projects that I have in mind, please, I would love to cook dinner for you and just talk, listen to music and talk about movies.

If coming to the Far East is difficult, then someday in the future, either in Los Angeles, San Francisco or New York, I would like to meet you.

Sincerely,

Francis Coppola

 
02frankjohn.jpg
Coppola feeling the pressure during ‘Apocalypse Now.’ After the jump Lennon’s letter of reply ...

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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10.02.2017
11:43 am
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Nirvana’s first & only (?) fan newsletter, written just before ‘Nevermind’ changed the world
10.02.2017
09:43 am
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In 1989 Nirvana released its debut album Bleach, famously recorded at Seattle’s Reciprocal Recording for six hundred bucks (this information was cheekily included in the album art). It was difficult to conceive of an album as sludgy and heavy as that becoming an authentic indieland sensation, but that’s exactly what happened. Bleach was one of those albums that, all through 1990 and the first half of 1991, got passed around endlessly on homemade cassette (it wasn’t shared on CDR because CD ripping technology had not yet reached the home consumer). I know, because I probably made a half-dozen dubs for friends.

Point being, when Nevermind came out that September, there was plenty of built-up demand, but even so, nobody was expecting a cleanly produced grunge masterpiece whose infectious hooks and palpably felt angst would power the album to #1 on the Billboard charts. Even after “Smells Like Teen Spirit” became the earworm of the autumn, none of my circle of friends knew which one of the trio blurrily pictured in the CD art was “Kurdt Kobain,” as he sometimes styled it. Indeed, I can remember one chum asserting that he fervently hoped it wasn’t the jerky-looking blond dude in the middle.
 

One of these dudes is the genius who wrote ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’......
 
Those few months to close out 1991, while we all grooved to “Come As You Are” and “Polly” and “Territorial Pissings,” the band members, whose latest album was not a product of Seattle’s Sub Pop but was their first release on Geffen, were looking to reach out to the weird freaks who had gotten on board the Nirvana express in a timely fashion (they didn’t know it, but never again would they be able to distinguish for certain their “true” fans from meatheads who banged their heads to the big dumb riffs). In October of 1991 they sent out a witty, playful newsletter to their “fan club” (well, actually not, as you’ll read) that I believe is the only such missive the band ever sent out (the Internet doesn’t seem to have any others, anyway).

To read that “form letter” is to enter a pre-Internet realm in which access to an Apple IIe and a copy shop provided the chance for countless struggling musicians to forge connections with their peers and fans—and generally crack wise. The double-sided sheet is festooned with some vague precursor to clip art—consider it was less a badge of honor than a positive survival requirement for any self-respecting DIY visual artist (Kurdt definitely had strong leanings in this direction) to hoard any curious or odd-looking printed matter for collage/inspiration purposes later on.

I don’t think I’d sent my name and address to Seattle, but a good friend of mine had. I can vividly remember poring over this exact newsletter at a pizza place in the West Village…. the only thing I actually remember was the funny reference to Dinah Shore Jr.—the light bulb on that pun went on as we consumed our slices. When I saw the images of the newsletter on the Internet recently, the first thing I did was to seek out that reference, and sure enough, there it was, just as I had remembered. Similar is the silly business about the band’s first drummer, Chad Channing, being the son of actress Stockard (not true).

People may have forgotten, but Nevermind‘s ascent to the very peaks of pop acceptance did not happen quickly. It hit #1 in January of 1992, five months after it had come out—during the same month, the band appeared on SNL and Kurdt and Krist (still going by “Chris” at this point) made out during the closing credits to goose the intolerant dumbasses in the home audience. So this newsletter is basically the last moment before Cobain and Co. hit the big time, became disillusioned with success, and all that jazz. Those tragic later circumstances make this a poignant read indeed, esp. when the band shrugs off a request for more precise lyric sheet with the tip to insert “gun” or “I don’t care” whenever one isn’t sure what Cobain is yammering on about.
 

 
Read the rest of the newsletter after the jump…....
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.02.2017
09:43 am
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STOP what you’re doing! We found more bad-ass live footage of John Lee Hooker that you MUST see
10.02.2017
09:22 am
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John Lee Hooker
 
In 2015, we strongly urged you, the reader, to drop whatever you were doing and watch this amazing live footage of John Lee Hooker. Many of you rightly heeded our advice, resulting in one of the most popular Dangerous Minds posts of the last few years. The video clips in that post are from a 1970 TV broadcast of Detroit Tubeworks, which was shot on the campus of Wayne State University in Detroit. Hooker moved to the Motor City in the late 1930s, and, beginning in the late 1940s, recorded all of his initial classic tunes (including his debut, “Boogie Chillin’”) at United Sound, which is a stone’s throw from Wayne’s campus.

This year marks the 100-year anniversary of John Lee Hooker’s birth (he was born on August 22, 1917). With an event held on the day of the centennial, the Detroit Sound Conservancy celebrated by making JLH their first Hall of Fame inductee. It was the only happening in the city supported by the Hooker estate (I’m on the Board of Directors at the DSC).
 
Fantasy photo
 
Another estate-sanctioned undertaking that’s been in the works is a new John Lee Hooker boxed set. Due on October 6th, King of the Boogie is a 100 track, 5 CD set spanning his entire career, with rare tracks and a disc of live recordings, plus a 56 page book. Various bundles are available to pre-order in the store on the official John Lee Hooker site. The standard edition of the box is on Amazon.
 
King Of The Boogie
 
One of John Lee’s most famous numbers is “Boom Boom,” a #1 R&B hit from 1961. It was written in Detroit and inspired by a phrase regularly directed at him before gigs at a local venue. This place, like United Sound, is a Detroit music landmark.

“I come in the club that night – they called it Apex Bar. I was playing there every weekend. And every night there’d be a girl in there. Her name was Willa. She was a bartender. I never would be on time; I always would be late comin’ in. And she kept saying, ‘Boom, boom – you late again.’ Every night: ‘Boom, boom – you late again.’ I said, ‘Hmm, that’s a song!’ I put it together and I was playin’ it there in the club before I recorded it. People would really get up and go wild when I played that song. They would get on their feets and holler, ‘That’s a great song, man.’ I recorded it, and it just took off like wildfire.” (from the King of the Boogie liner notes, written by Jas Obrecht)

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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10.02.2017
09:22 am
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‘Gundella, the Green Witch’ of Detroit explains how to cast spells
09.29.2017
10:17 am
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Gundella, 1983
 
If you’re lucky, every once in a while you’ll catch wind of a super-interesting individual from your home turf that was previously unknown to you. I’m from the Metro Detroit area and only recently became aware of Marion Kuclo, an amazing woman from the same region. Kuclo is remembered by locals as Gundella, a/k/a “The Green Witch.”

Born Marion Clark in Port Huron during the Great Depression, she was raised in Northern Michigan, before eventually relocating to Garden City, which is near Detroit. She grew up Protestant, but was also taught the pagan traditions of the Wicca religion. She came from a long line of witches and traced her genealogy back to the Green Witches of Scotland, a cult active in the 15th and 16th centuries. There were three primary witch cults based around colors, and her ancestors would smear green vegetable coloring on their faces to identify themselves.

Marion became a witch when she was initiated into a coven at age 18, taking on the Wicca name, Gundella. She believed in magic, reincarnation, and that there is a universal power source within us all that can be conjured up at any time. An elementary school teacher by trade, a chance encounter when she was around 40 years of age altered her path in life. During a Halloween party in 1969, she met the Head of Psychology at the University of Michigan, which led to her teaching class there, as well as giving lectures on witchcraft off campus. By year’s end, Gundella was a local celebrity.
 
Gundella, c. 1971
c. 1971 (courtesy of the Walter P. Reuther Library).

Seen by the community as a “good” witch, Gundella didn’t identify herself as such, believing it’s the individual who is good or bad, not the practice of witchcraft.
 
Gundella, 1973
Wyandotte Public Library appearance, August 10, 1973.

She wrote several books, and beginning in 1975 she had her own column in the local newspaper; it was called “Witch Watch.”
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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09.29.2017
10:17 am
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That time David Bowie & John Cale got fucked up and jammed, 1978
09.29.2017
10:12 am
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The bootleg’s rudimentary cover art

The year varies—it was either 1978 or 1979 (or even earlier)—but by John Cale’s own admission, both he and David Bowie were pretty blasted when these two numbers were recorded during a druggy jam session in New York City whenever it was that the pair first met. Bowie, of course, was a massive Velvet Underground fan, having recorded what is historically probably the very first Velvet Underground cover version with a band called the Riot Squad in 1966. Bowie’s then manager Ken Pitt had visited Andy Warhol’s Factory studio and returned to London with an acetate of The Velvet Underground & Nico and his young client was immediately infatuated with the album.

The description on the back cover of the 45 rpm 7” bootleg vinyl single read:

On October 5, 1979, David Bowie and John Cale went into the Ciarbis studio, which is located on top of a house or apartment complex in the city of New York. They recorded some songs there. Here are some results of these uniQue rehearsals!!

Cale had this to say about meeting Bowie:

“David and I didn’t actually meet until I first went back to New York, after I’d done Patti [Smith]. When we did that bootleg, it was like the good old bad old days. We were partying very hard. It was exciting working with him, as there were a lot of possibilities and everything, but we were our own worst enemies at that point.”

“We also played that show for Steve Reich and Philip Glass. That was a lot of fun. That was when we were hanging out, so I asked David if he’d like to come and play Sabotage with me. I ended up teaching him the viola part, which he had a whack at and then ended up playing on stage for the first time.”

“Did I ever want to produce Bowie? After spending time with him, I realised the answer was no. The way we were then would have made it too dangerous. Nowadays it would be different, though. He could improvise songs very well, which was what that bootleg was all about. The great thing about when we met and then started hanging out in the ’70s was that he would say [puts on thick Welsh accent] “That’s Dai Jones from Wales, isn’t it?” He loved all that. That set us off. We got along really well, but most of what we were doing was just partying.”

Have a listen, after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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09.29.2017
10:12 am
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The electro-alien intergalactic disco of Rockets
09.29.2017
08:19 am
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Rockets.
 
Okay, all you adventurous Dangerous Minds readers—come take a ride with me to early 1970s Paris to witness the birth of “space rock” band Rockets. As this post does not include any herbal cerebral enhancement other than the words I’ve written about Rockets and the out-of-sight images of the band dressed up like disco versions of KISS’ Ace Frehley, you might want to take a moment to enhance your perception before continuing with a lil’ “entertainment insurance.” Of course, this is merely a recommendation and should not be taken seriously (yes it should) as I don’t advocate the use of drugs, alcohol or other party favors (yes I do) to help one fully appreciate a visual/auditory experience such as this. Half-assed disclaimers out of the way, let’s learn more about France’s electro-extraterrestrials, Rockets.

In the early 70s, the band was playing bars sans space gear and calling themselves “Crystal” until sometime later in the mid-70s when they decided to change it to “Rocket Men,” known also as “Rocketters” (and then Rockets). Not to be confused with long-time Detroit rock band the Rockets, Rockets went all in with their kooky outer-space look with all five members painting their skin silver and decked out in futuristic-looking spacesuits. Their live shows were as spectacular as you might imagine a gig by a bunch of French disco-loving aliens would be. And more. There were of course lasers, vocoders (a type of “talking synthesizer” that modulates speech) and Rockets vocalist Christian Le Bartz would often regale the audience by spraying them with sparks and smoke that spewed from a sort of cannon gun while he robotically marched around on stage.

So what about the music of Rockets? Well, it’s pretty groovy if you dig Krautrock, DEVO and disco (because, who doesn’t), and for a short time the band was very commercially successful. After releasing their first self-titled album in 1976, Rockets would start making a name for themselves thanks to their live shows and their notorious television appearances. Their second album, On the Road Again,  sent Rockets touring across the world including stops in the U.S. for the first time. In 1979 they released Plasteroid, which sold over 200,000 copies in Italy alone. The follow-up to Plasteriod, 1980’s Galaxy would eclipse this achievement by selling over a million copies worldwide. Despite this success, by 1983 the group began to dissolve starting with the departure of Le Bartz and drummer Alain Groetzinger. Bassist Gerard L’Her would say farewell a year later in 1984.

Far-out footage of Rockets performing numbers from Galaxy and On the Road Again is posted below as well as some surreal photos of the band in their intergalactic getups from back in the day.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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09.29.2017
08:19 am
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