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Some Led Zeppelin songs that you’ve probably never heard before
08.19.2015
01:51 pm

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I had listened to every Led Zeppelin album so many times by the age of 14 that I went from playing their records constantly to not listening to them at all again for many, many years. Decades even. It’s not like I ever stopped loving Led Zeppelin, it’s just that I overdid it. Like eating the same thing every day for years, even something awesome like Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese, it simply gets tired. Until the new reissues started coming out last summer, the only Led Zeppelin album that I actually owned on CD was Physical Graffiti.

Like many of you reading this, I got massively into those remastered albums. On a good stereo system they sound quite wonderful. I’ve played “When the Levee Breaks” from Led Zeppelin IV on repeat for hours on end on full blast. (I am a bad neighbor, true, but it’s as addictive as crack, that song.) Of all the 2014 and 2015 editions, it was the three-disc expanded release of Coda, their odds-n-sods 1982 swansong, that I was looking forward to the most, not the least reason being that it’s the only one that I never owned, and had never actually even heard all the way through. In other words, an entirely new Led Zeppelin album. Lucky me. What a fun experience to have, right?

The expanded 3 disc deluxe Coda is well worth your attention, rock snob readers. Let me count a few of the ways…

In some of the interviews Jimmy Page has given to publicize the most recent (and final) spate of Led Zeppelin releases (Presence, In Through The Out Door and Coda), he mentions that although Coda was in fact, a bit of a “contractual obligation album” (as well as an anti-bootlegger move), he knew that they had the stunning John Bonham drum solo “Bonzo’s Montreux” (with electronic treatments added later by Page) as the centerpiece, so he was confident that it would all hold together as a coherent listening experience. Even if that is only partially true—it’s all over the place—Coda is still pretty amazing. Unreleased Led Zeppelin tracks are not exactly plentiful—I’m certainly not complaining—but it’s a stylistic mishmash. And this is in no way a bad thing!

Here’s the rollicking instrumental “St. Tristan’s Sword,” which was recorded during the sessions for Led Zeppelin III in 1970. It comes from the same session that produced “Gallow’s Pole” and you’ll note a similar drum sound there:
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The time a small town booked a Rage Against the Machine show then shat its pants about it
08.19.2015
09:56 am

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Media
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Television

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Sometimes when I despair at the abject cluelessness and parochialism of local news “journalism,” I’m reminded that at least I live in a city, and could have WAY WORSE local news pickings were I to forsake easy access to museums and concert clubs for the quiet life. Take the small town of Spanish Fork, Utah. A quick jog south of Provo, it’s bisected by a Main Street that runs a whoppin’ five miles from its northern to southern borders, and with a roughly 10% Hispanic population, Spanish Fork doesn’t boast a whole lot of Spanish speakers. This is no bastion of urbanity, and of course that’s fine, not everyplace has to be.

But when their fairgrounds manager booked a Rage Against the Machine show, the residents and the local news all UTTERLY FLIPPED THEIR LIDS.

Local lore holds that the booking was made under the misapprehension that “Rage Against the Machine” was the name of a touring tractor-pull or monster truck rally. The fairgrounds manager and city manager both deny that in a City Weekly article published last year, but whatever the reason for the booking, hysteria ensued. A contemporary article in the LDS-owned Utah paper Deseret News reported thusly:

A rally at the city park organized by Shelley Matterson expressed some residents’ own rage against the booking of the group but acknowledged that fairgrounds manager Steve Money, who scheduled the band at the Spanish Fork Fairgrounds, did so in error. “He’s devastated,” said Ann Banks, daughter of Mayor Marie Huff. Banks said her mother had been subject to verbal attacks by residents who called the mayor, wondering how the controversial group could have been booked to appear there.

Most residents expressed fear that the group - known for its loud music and rough lyrics - was coming to Spanish Fork. Tash Johns urged the council in absentia to “take the bold stand and cancel the concert. We will stand behind them if they take this stand of courage,” she said.

Residents said they feared the lyrics that will be heard well beyond the fairground’s wooden fences as well as the rocker fans that would be there and the potential for injuries that one man who favors the concert said would likely result. Others expressed concern about lawsuits that could result if someone is killed or injured during the concert. They also fear a discrimination lawsuit if the concert is canceled.

Wouldn’t want the rocker fans to kill anyone now…

But that article is quite measured. It’s local TV news where out-of-touch bafflement and old-people paranoia really shine brightest. This news report was completely alarmist even though it was produced after the concert took place—and of course nothing bad happened except that a terrible rap-metal band that made “anti-establishment” “socialist” records to profit the international corporation Sony played its shitty high-fivin’ bro-down music. I kinda lost it a little at the remark about the “big city rock band.”
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Professor vows to ‘spend a year as David Bowie’
08.19.2015
06:27 am

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Will Brooker, a professor of film and cultural studies at Kingston University, is going to write a book on David Bowie, and, in order to do it, intends to eat, sleep, and dress like the legendary rock and roll icon. In order to gain a better understanding of the musician over the more than 40 years of his magnificent career, Brooker will immerse himself in the trappings of the pop icon’s life in what has been dubbed “The Method,” a process of transformative immersion.

This unusual and arduous process will lead to a written account of the year-long experiment under the name “Forever Stardust.” Brooker’s areas of expertise include Alice in Wonderland and Batman. His most recent book is Hunting the Dark Knight: Twenty-First Century Batman.

Bowie was perhaps the first rock and roll celebrity who is renowned for rapid, chameleonic and experimental changes in his persona, which often inspired those in the fashion world—later musicians of this type include Madonna and Lady Gaga. It will be a challenge for Brooker to maintain so many identities in such a short time, although fortunately, as he got older, Bowie’s wardrobe became more conservative as well.
 

 
Indeed—not only his wardrobe! Bowie famously spent a good chunk of the 1970s abusing drugs and experimenting with the occult while living in Los Angeles around when Station to Station was recorded (an album Bowie does not remember recording).

As Brooker said recently on an interview on Australian radio,

I’ve been reading some of the books that Bowie read, though, and he was very much into the occult, Aleister Crowley, ah, Nazism—you know, all kinds of strange literature, and some of that reading does have an effect on your thinking, especially if you’re doing without sleep, long-distance flights, and so on, you know? If you’re reading some strange science-fiction and books about magic, you know, you can get into Bowie’s head, you can see and sometimes quite a strange place, a dangerous place, a place you wouldn’t want to live too long.

Brooker continued, “It’s fortunate that I’m going through Bowie’s career chronologically, because by ’83 he was pretty clean, so I’m kind of looking forward to that, I think I’ll get a tan, get fit.”

Brooker identifies as a David Bowie fan, of course, but—paradoxically, perhaps—not an obsessive one.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Heavy Metal Parking Lot ‪Alumni: Where Are They Now‬?’
08.18.2015
06:06 am

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The saga of Heavy Metal Parking Lot is practically indie-filmdom’s Greatest Story Ever Told. In 1986, Jeff Krulik and John Heyn brought a camera to a Judas Priest show and interviewed the fans milling about in the parking lot. The result was just about the funniest 17 minutes of nonfiction film ever produced—drunken, stoned, and just plain old amped-up metalhead kids mugged and preened for the cameras, and generally just obliged the videographers by absolutely reveling in the attention being paid to them. It’s people being people in some of the best slice-of-life filmmaking ever made, and no less an indie-film godhead than John Waters is said to have claimed that the film gave him the creeps.

Krulik went on to a career in video, working for Discovery Networks and the National Geographic Channel among other enviable gigs, and the notoriety of HMPL (nth-generation VHS dubs were practically a required possession of any self-respecting weirdo by the early ‘90s) allowed him to continue making short docs exploring the endearingly odd fringes of American culture. Most of them by far were NOT about parking lots, but the theme proved durable. In 1996, ten years to the day after he shot HMPL, he went back to the same concert arena to make Neil Diamond Parking Lot, which IMO was seriously way more fucked up than its forebear. The actually quite charming Harry Potter Parking Lot followed in 2000, and in 2004, the now-defunct Canadian cable channel Trio even commissioned Krulik to produce a parking lot documentary series called—yeah—Parking Lot.
 

 
HMPL was released on DVD in 2006. Rights issues concerning Judas Priest songs made it hard to release legitimately for a long time, though a legit-enough-seeming underground VHS compilation of Krulik films was commercially available at one time, if you were resourceful enough to find it. The DVD is blown out with extras, one of which is a wonderful short documentary Heavy Metal Parking Lot ‪Alumni: Where Are They Now‬, wherein Krulik and Heyn tracked down four of the people featured in the film (three quite prominently, one for literally half a second), all by then approaching middle age. Amusingly, for years, none of them had even the foggiest idea that they had been part of an underground sensation. In fact, the iconic “Zebra Man,” a loudmouth young guy in an amazing and preposterous zebra-striped jumpsuit who made himself a spectacle by loudly proclaiming the merits of metal and calling Madonna a “dick,” is shown on camera as an adult watching HMPL, of which he’s inarguably one of the stars, for the first time. (There’s another revelation about the guy that I thought was HILARIOUS, but which I will not here spoil.)

One downer: they didn’t find the shirtless dudebro in suspenders who seems to have rather brashly called Judas Priest singer Rob Halford’s homosexuality a dozen years before Mr. Halford actually came out—or at least that’s what I always assumed his “Robert Halford, I don’t know about you” remark was supposed to mean. I don’t want to call some guy out as a homophobe if I’m misunderstanding what he’s trying to get at, but either way, there doesn’t seem to be any way that could have been an uninteresting follow-up interview. UPDATE 08/20/15: Via internet magic, he found me! He’s Zev Zalman Ludwick of Silver Spring MD, and since HMPL he’s become a Hasidic Jew, a bluegrass musician, and an aquarium designer. (There’s auto-playing media on that last link.) We had a lovely chat on the phone, and he confirmed that his remark in the film was indeed a potshot at Halford’s homosexuality, but that time has softened his views on gay people considerably. He also confirmed that he was, indeed, an interesting follow-up interview.

If you have a Roku device, both the original doc and the alumni follow-up can be seen on the SnagFilms channel (or you can watch the follow-up right here at the end of this post). And really, if you haven’t seen the original, it’s on YouTube. You should get on that, there’s a reason it’s been a stone classic for almost 30 years. Plus, absent the context of the original, I can’t imagine Where Are They Now having a whole lot of impact.
 

 
Propers to Mr. Marty Geramita for suggesting this post.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
The Cult tearing it up on ‘The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers’ in 1987
08.17.2015
09:03 am

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Ian Astbury, Billy Duffy and Joan Rivers circa 1987
 
The Cult were riding high on their 1987 release, Electric when they made this blistering appearance on The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers in May of 1987. Rivers was fired from The Late Show later that month and celebrated in rock star fashion by trashing the set with toilet paper and shaving cream with the help of Wendy O. Williams of all people. But I digress.

In the clip below, The Cult deliver a completely raw and raucous performance of two songs from Electric “Lil’ Devil” and “Born to Be Wild” (complete with full-on big hair headbanging). It also just so happened to be the 25th birthday of vocalist, Ian Astbury. During the interview segment the phone on the stage rings (an actual landline phone mind you), and on the other end was none other than Astbury’s father who was calling to wish his son a happy birthday. I’m not usually one for getting all mushy over lovey-dovey stuff, but this moment made my eyes a little leaky. I should probably get that checked out. The video, which should be turned up as loud as possible for maximum pleasure, follows.
 

The Cult on The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers. Episode #146, May 14th, 1987

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘In Heaven’: The Lady in the Radiator from ‘Eraserhead’ live in concert
08.17.2015
08:14 am

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Welcome to Twin Peaks has just announced that Laurel Near, the dream-haunting Lady in the Radiator from David Lynch’s debut feature Eraserhead, will perform her character’s signature song “In Heaven” in Philadelphia, as part of PhilaMOCA‘s annual Eraserhood Forever Lynch tribute. The event is being held on Saturday, October 3rd.

The Lady In The Radiator from Eraserhead, Laurel Near, is set to perform Peter Ivers’ haunting “In Heaven” song LIVE at PhilaMOCA‘s 4th annual David Lynch celebration, Eraserhood Forever. The event space is a former tombstone and mausoleum showroom located right in the middle of the neighborhood that inspired David Lynch for his first feature as he lived there across the old city morgue on 13th and Wood. To make it even more otherworldly, the actress/singer will be backed by the Divine Hand Ensemble, an enchanting chamber orchestra led by Mano Divina on theremin.

 

 
Eraserhood Forever is becoming quite the large event—a call for artists was recently issued for a related art exhibit, and the full lineup includes Lynch-themed bands, audiovisual works, DJ sets, and even Lynchian burlesque which could either be the hottest or most terrifying thing ever.

Here’s the song. If you’re totally unfamiliar with Eraserhead, this is going to seem utterly baffling and nightmarish. Don’t worry, I’ve seen it a zillion times and it’s still baffling and nightmarish to me, too. This is actually quite calming compared to her OTHER scene.
 

 
And for no other reason than that it’s awesome, here’s the Pixies’ cover of the song.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Who was that mysterious middle-aged bald guy that appeared in like EVERY early ‘80s MTV video?
08.17.2015
07:15 am

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Music
Pop Culture
Superstar
Television

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When MTV first debuted in 1981, few people believed in the fledgling network and its concept of airing music videos 24 hours a day. Their launch was plagued with technical problems and the station itself was starved for content.

MTV co-founder, Les Garland, details the shaky beginnings in a New York Post interview:

There was some fear, because we didn’t get the instant distribution some people thought we would. We used to hear, from cable operators and advertisers, “nobody’s gonna watch music on television 24 hours a day. That’ll never work.” Heard it from people in [our own] management, too. It was closer to touch-and-go than people realized. There were threats of pulling the plug.

Given the newness of music videos, the channel had only around 250 to choose from at the beginning.

One demographic that may have been initially counted out, but who undoubtedly contributed to the success of early MTV, was elementary through high-school-aged kids who had loads of free viewing time on their hands. Kids who would end up spending hours a day obsessing over this new medium—a medium which moved so much faster than what they had been used to seeing, having grown up on network television. MTV ushered in the age of ADD.

I was one of those captivated kids, and what a fascinating time it was to become “musically aware” with this brand-new, content-starved format repetitively pumping-out clips from whatever handful of (mostly new wave) acts that were forward-thinking enough to devote the time and energy to shooting videos. Suddenly bands you would NEVER hear on the radio, were appearing on TV screens nation-wide and the kids were eating it up.

In those early days of obsessive MTV viewing, I began to notice this one guy. This one middle-aged, balding, bespectacled man. This one guy who was conspicuous for his squareness among pretty boy rock stars and hot models. This one guy who seemed to be in like EVERY freaking video. Was he a video director inserting himself Hitchcock style into his clips? Was he a record label president? Was he the bands’ coke dealer? Who the hell was this guy?
 

 
And so, for more than thirty years this man has been in the back of my head as “that ubiquitous middle-aged ‘80s video bald guy.”

I was recently tooling around You Tube, watching the video for Haircut 100’s classic hit “Love Plus One” and had my memory jarred. “Oh yeah,” I thought, “there he is!” “There’s that guy! The headmaster from the Bonnie Tyler video! The guy who struts down the street next to Joan Jett! The dad from the Squeeze video! The shaky-handed martini-drinker from the Billy Joel video! WHO IS THIS GUY!?”
 

 
This being 2015, and having the luxury of google and the Internet, I went to work searching for something, anything on this mystery man. Amazingly, I turned up nothing—except for other people asking the exact same question: “Who is the guy in every early ‘80s video?” 

So, next I contacted Nick Heyward of Haircut 100—because, again, we live in the future and you can just instantly access ANYONE. I sent Heyward a photo and asked “do you remember who this guy is?” Heyward replied almost immediately:

He was the wardrobe guy/actor/extra. Nice chap. Pop was a closely-knit family in those days.

There was a lead, but not much. Searches of “‘80s music video wardrobe guy, bald” turned up nothing.

From there, I took my quest to MTV’s Mark Goodman, to see if he had any inside information. Goodman responded: “No clue who the dude is but pretty funny you spotted him. You must have lots of free time!” So, great, childhood icon, MTV’s Mark Goodman, thinks I’m a total loser.

Subsequent sleuthing started to reveal a connection between the various videos that the pervasive bald guy was appearing in: a production company called MGMM.

MGMM was THE go-to company for music video production in the early ‘80s—mostly because they were one of the first companies to specialize in it. The company’s partners Brian Grant, Scott Millaney, Russel Mulcahy, and David Mallet were essentially the top directors in the burgeoning field. Their content DOMINATED early MTV, which, as we noted earlier, was quite sparse early-on. The most ground-breaking, iconic, most memorable music videos of the first three years of MTV were by-and-large all produced by MGMM. So the clues began to come together. Could the mystery middle-aged bald man be a costumer for MGMM?

Attempts to contact former partners of MGMM went mostly unanswered, but someone from David Mallet’s production company did get back to me with a name. That name was “Michael Baldwin.” Finally! A name to go with the pate!

Mallet’s company did not wish to comment any further or give additional information—and of course there’s stuff I’m still dying to know. Was it a goof among the production to have him turn up so often, or was it simply a matter of being short-staffed for extras? How many videos did he appear in? I know of at least 20. Were there more? Unfortunately, I can’t ask Baldwin himself—his Facebook page indicates that he sadly passed away due to an illness in October of 2014.

Baldwin was indeed a costumer, and an accomplished one at that. His website displays some stunning examples of his work, and clearly it was what he should be remembered for rather than his myriad of video cameos. That website is well worth a visit for Baldwin’s audio commentary on the gallery photos of his designs. He did a lot of work in the early ‘80s dressing pop stars, and obviously dressing sets with himself. But his work goes all the way back to the early ‘60s. He was even responsible for costumes on the Rolling Stones famous train-wreck Rock and Roll Circus. The guy had an impressive career outside of his bit parts in music clips.

As much as is left still unanswered, at least we can finally answer the question of “Who is that ubiquitous early ‘80s music video bald guy?”

His name is Michael Baldwin.
 

 

 
More Michael Baldwin than you can shake a stick at, after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
DEVO becomes public art, streets of Akron, Ohio are overrun with Booji Boys
08.17.2015
07:04 am

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On Saturday August 15, 2015, Akron Ohio’s finest post-rubber export DEVO were honored in their hometown with the dedication of a piece of public art. The iconic 1978 Janet Macoska photo of the band in full stage uniform in front of the late, lamented hot dog stand Chili Dog Mac was colorized, enlarged to life size, and placed over that onetime landmark’s former facade next to the Akron Civic Theatre. This dedication is the first part of a planned renovation of that entire block, which has become a bit rundown and suffered vacancies despite having an anchor in the popular theater.

The event was a stone hoot. DEVO’s bassist/co-mastermind Jerry Casale and photographer Macoska were present, free chili dogs were available to all assembled, and the event began with a surreal and hilarious stunt, the Running of the Booji Boys. A couple dozen revelers in identical Booji Boy masks and blue jumpsuits danced in the middle of South Main St while a DJ pumped out DEVO music. The masks, not incidentally, are recreations by Akron’s SikRik Masks. DM has told you about them before. (All photos are by Ron Kretsch except where noted.)
 

 

 

 
Much more DEVO after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘I am still indestructible’: Lemmy has switched from whisky to vodka for health reasons
08.14.2015
11:47 am

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Drugs
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Lemmy Kilmister of the legendary heavy metal band Motörhead recently announced that he’s abandoned his beloved whisky in favor of vodka. He’s been suffering lately from gastric distress and dehydration, and gigs have been cancelled as a result.

Instead of instead of his customary Jack Daniels and coke, Lemmy now quaffs vodka and orange juice to help keep his diabetes in check.

Personally, for me that would be too high a price to pay. But that’s just my opinion.

As usual, Lemmy’s quotes on the subject were pretty choice.

“I like orange juice better,” he told The Guardian. “So, Coca-Cola can fuck off.”

He also said, “Apparently I am still indestructible.” To which we all say, Amen!

Here’s Motörhead giving Toronto the business in 1982:
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Just a nice Jewish boy: A young Gene Simmons on ‘The Mike Douglas Show,’ 1974
08.14.2015
08:12 am

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A couple of weeks ago, DM’s Amber Frost showed us a pretty ridiculous TV news feature taking the gargantuan ‘70s arena rock band KISS to task for having the temerity to market themselves. The whole thing was full of tedious old-fart tut-tutting, and it frankly felt like the band wasn’t actually being scolded for their publicity machinery, but rather for being young and nothing at all like Tony Bennett.

So when I ran across this Gene Simmons interview on the old Mike Douglas show from 1974, I expected more or less the same vibe—the show, after all, was one of the champs of a soon-to-be-obsolete style of daytime variety programming that gave a reliable home to fading stars and alter kocker holdovers from the late vaudeville and early television eras for a demographic of stay-at-home housewives that was about to shrink significantly. So when it turned out that Douglas and his other guests reacted to Simmons’ startling kabuki-ghoul appearance in stride and just joked with him like anyone else, it was quite a surprise.
 

 
This was in the early days of KISS, so Simmons didn’t really have his schtick nailed down yet, and his efforts to project a menacing, demonic character fall WAY flat, as if to answer the question of what shock-rock looks like without shock. His professed desire to drink the audience’s blood and his self-characterization as “evil incarnate” barely seem to elicit much more than a shrug from the audience.

The interview is saved by a pretty amazing exchange between Simmons and old-school comedienne Totie Fields, who joked that it would be funny if Simmons, under the makeup, turned out to be “just a nice Jewish boy.” Simmons, of course, is not just an actual Jewish boy, but an Israeli sabra born Chaim Witz, and he drolly (and pretty Jewily) retorted “You should only know…” Fields owned the moment by interjecting “I DO! You can’t hide the hook!” Fields herself was born Sophie Feldman, and could probably spot a Member of the Tribe using a showbiz pseudonym a mile away.

The appearance also includes Douglas interviewing the winners of a kissing contest (*eyeroll*), and a band performance—as in an actual live-in-studio performance, it’s not mimed—of the early song “Firehouse.”
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
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