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‘A Short Movie About Suicide’
07.20.2016
09:14 am

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Movies
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November 1970 poster for a series of Suicide shows at “A Project of Living Artists” on 729 Broadway

The news of the death of Alan Vega of Suicide came down over the weekend. As all such deaths do, it has given rise to an outpouring of heartfelt reminiscences, providing an occasion to reflect on what a blazing, contradictory, committed, special band Suicide was. Famously early in defining the possibilities of the term “punk music” (via 1970 gig ads, one example of which is above), Suicide became one of those rare bands you absolutely had to have a reaction to, as they perhaps learned to their chagrin when they accepted an offer by the Clash to open for the London-based punk band in Britain in 1978. Many of the punks in the audience despised Suicide, leading to an incident in Glasgow in which an audience member threw an axe at Vega’s head.

Living up to its name, “A Short Film About Suicide” (2007) lasts roughly 15 minutes. It mostly consists of Vega talking, which is an unimpeachable strategy. The movie opens with Vega recalling the September 3, 1969, gig at the Pavilion on 42nd St. when the Stooges opened for the MC5 and Iggy (and, improbably, Johann Sebastian Bach) changed Vega’s life forever. The movie features Vega and Martin Rev, of course, plus Chris Stein of Blondie, Mick Jones of the Clash, and others. Howard Thompson tells of hearing Suicide’s incredible first album for the first time (mistakenly playing side B first) and then realizing that he absolutely had to put it out in the U.K.

If “A Short Film About Suicide” lasted 5 hours, no part of it would be boring.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Trump’s house band—led by guitar buffoon G.E. Smith—trash David Bowie tune
07.19.2016
06:00 pm

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Music
Politics

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The eternally uncool G.E. Smith is leading the house band at the Republican National Convention. I’ve never been able to stand this guy and his support of Trump has doubled his loathsome quotient. Kids, being in a band doesn’t automatically make you cool. G.E. Smith is to rock and roll what Pia Zadora is to acting.

No matter who Smith played with, whether it was Dylan or Bowie, he always tried to upstage the artist he was supposed to be supporting. With his rigor mortis grin and guitar-slinger grimaces, Smith is one of the most inauthentic musicians on the fucking planet. Nothing notable about his style at all. A hired gun who can play some fills and solos while the front man grabs a fresh beer or a bottle of water from the drum stand.

Remember Smith’s insufferable mugging on SNL? Buffoon rock.


 
In the video below, watch Trump’s house band desecrate David Bowie’s “Station To Station.” Smith’s prior work with Bowie notwithstanding, would Smith and his band of whores have dared to do this if Bowie were still alive? And what did all those old, white conventioneers think of lyrics like:

It’s not the side-effects of the cocaine
I’m thinking that it must be love
It’s too late to be grateful

I’ve always had big ideals regarding rock and roll. You know, that it stood for something. That it was music of rebellion and hope. That rock and roll could change the world. And for awhile it did. The Beatles being the main force of raising consciousness. But I’ve been consistently disappointed over the years by bands selling out and selling out to Trump is particularly egregious in my opinion. Things have gone from “I sold my soul for rock and roll” to “I sold my rock and roll and my soul.”
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
David Bowie: Rare footage of the ‘Diamond Dogs’ tour, 1974
07.19.2016
01:54 pm

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As David Bowie fans are all too well aware, there’s very little professionally shot footage—almost none—of his theatrical “Diamond Dogs” tour from 1974. The best filmed example we have of what that stage set looked like comes from Alan Yentob’s famous BBC documentary Cracked Actor. Yentob must’ve chosen his title before shooting Bowie’s performance at the Universal Amphitheater on September 5th, 1974 as he concentrated resources on shooting the number that provided his (rather apt) title. When Bowie performed “Cracked Actor” on that tour, he donned a cape and “celebrity” sunglasses, singing into a skull ala Hamlet. He even French-kissed the skull as makeup artists and photographers fussed around him, an irresistible visual showpiece for the documentarian trying to make sense of his glamorous but enigmatically alien subject.

But there were no complete songs in the film. That’s where Nacho Video comes in. He’s the YouTuber who created the amazing edit of “Station to Station” we recently featured here:

I have been asked many times to create some videos for Bowie’s ‘74 tour. There is very little material available, but I have gathered all the footage that’s out there, I think. Among the Super 8 stuff there are some possibilities, tho’ a lot of labor will be required.

In the meantime, I’ve taken the obvious easy road of first working on the footage from the wonderful 1974 Alan Yentob BBC documentary, Cracked Actor. The in concert materiel it contains is really well filmed, as one would expect from the BBC. Unfortunately, it contains no complete song.

Therefore some imagination and technology is required. Here, I am more or less retreading what others have tried before, but not at this quality.

Dig it.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘I find them very depressing’: 80s pop tart Samantha Fox reviews The Smiths and The Fall in 1986
07.19.2016
11:53 am

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Music

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Samantha Fox and Lemmy Kilmister.
 
Samantha Fox was technically still a very popular topless Page 3 girl in The Sun and not yet an 80s pop star when she was asked for her opinions on two new singles by The Smiths and The Fall for UK music magazine Smash Hits in July of 1986. Apparently she was not terribly impressed by either single and took them to task using insightful words like “crappy” to tear apart The Fall’s “Living Too Late.” When it came to Miss Fox’s thoughts on The Smiths the target of her disdain would of course be directed at moody vocalist Morrissey. Here’s Fox dissecting Moz as only a misguided 20-something could in 1986:

I’m sorry to say but I find them very depressing. The lead singer’s voice sounds like he’s in pain—is that Morrissey? He can’t sing and it gives me a headache. In all his interviews he’s “Mister Nasty” too and goes moan, moan, moan.

Well, at least Samantha got one thing right here because of COURSE Morrissey is in pain. Anyone who writes songs about how getting mowed over a ten-ton truck being a “heavenly way to die” or wishes you an “Unhappy Birthday” then proceeds to note that he’s going to “kill his dog” is clearly in pain. But I digress. If you’d like to read Samantha Fox’s thoughts in full on The Smiths, The Fall as well as Prince, Julian Lennon and Bryan Adams, I’ve posted a few of her amusing reviews for you below. You can also read all of Fox’s deep thoughts during her brief stint with Smash Hits as a record reviewer over at the fantasitc online archive for the magazine, Like Punk Never Happened run by the excellent Brian McCloskey.
 

Samantha Fox on The Smiths and The Fall from Smash Hits magazine, July, 1986.
 

 
Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
When half of Throbbing Gristle ended up on a UFO LP cover, making out pantsless
07.19.2016
10:52 am

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Art
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In 1975, the notable British buttrock band UFO released Force It, a barrage of boogie riffs and and double-entendre lyrics about fucking. As hesher-metal albums go, it was fairly interchangeable with a lot of the era’s hard rock, but its cover art has proven durable even as the band’s sound has aged. It’s a photograph depicting what could be read as a coercive sexual advance between a couple of indeterminate sex, one of whom is sans pants. Collaged into the photo are many, many faucets.

Faucet. Force it. You get it, ha ha, let’s move on.

The cover was designed by one of the era’s most distinctive and forward-thinking design studios, Hipgnosis. The firm consisted of designers Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell, and were responsible for singularly surreal album art for Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, and Led Zeppelin, among many, many other clients. Force It was hardly their only controversial work, but it ranked high on that score. The US version of the cover was censored, by making the aggressively embracing couple half transparent. The irony here is that the models for that cover were already known for works that made the Force It cover look kid-friendly. From Neil Daniels’ High Stakes & Dangerous Men: The UFO Story,:

The artwork was risky for the time and because of the amount of flesh on display was almost banned—well, it was the 1970s, a non-PC age, but also surprisingly prudish too. It was toned down for the USA release, where they were even more prudish. One point of interest, is that the gender of the couple remained a cause of debate amongst UFO fans, but the couple turned out to be Genesis P. Orridge [sic] and his then girlfriend Cosey Fanni Tutti.

 

Kissing and buttocks mercifully ghosted for delicate American sensibilities.

Many of this blog’s regular readers know that Genesis P-Orridge and Cosey Fanni Tutti were, at the time, the principals behind COUM Transmissions, an art group known for incredibly transgressive performances that included heavy doses of kink, up to and including unsimulated bleeding and vomiting, violence, and even live sex—so this “controversial” photo was actually one of the tamest things they’d ever done. The year after Force It, COUM would evolve into the pioneering industrial band Throbbing Gristle, and Throbbing Gristle included in its membership one Peter Christopherson, who in the mid ‘70s was an assistant at…Hipgnosis.

More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘The Kate Inside’: New book has never-seen photos of Kate Bush
07.18.2016
01:20 pm

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Art
Books
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Filming “Rubberband Girl” on the set of “The Line, the Cross, & the Curve,” 1993
 
Photographer Guido Harari, who has a book of Tom Waits photographs to his credit, worked closely with Kate Bush in a strongly creative period stretching from 1982 to 1993, during which Bush released The Dreaming, Hounds of Love, and The Sensual World, among others, as well as her musical short film The Line, the Cross, and the Curve, an offshoot of her 1993 album The Red Shoes.

Harari has a new book coming out with dozens of never-before-seen pictures of the noted experimental pop singer, who is arguably England’s unparalleled Brontë interpreter.

Roughly 300 pictures are in the book, the bulk of which came out of official press photo sessions for Bush’s albums of that era. Many of the photos feature Bush hard at work with Lindsay Kemp, the choreographer who worked closely with the singer from the very start of her career.
 

 
The majority of the photos have never been published in any form, a group that includes test Polaroids, contact sheets, film outtakes, and personal notes from Bush.

The book is called The Kate Inside (obviously a reference to Bush’s 1978 debut album The Kick Inside) and is expected to become available in September. You can pre-order it from Wall of Sound. The regular edition is priced at 90 Euros (about $100) and the deluxe edition, personally signed by Harari and Kemp, will go for 390 Euros (about $430).

An exhibition in London’s Art Bermondsey Project Space will coincide with the book’s publication (September 13-30).
 

With Gary Hurst and Douglas McNicol, shoot for “The Dreaming,” 1982
 

“Hounds of Love” shoot, 1985
 
Many more photos after the jump…....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Hip hop pioneer Egyptian Lover offers up hand-drawn 12-inch covers
07.18.2016
09:20 am

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LA hip hop and electro music pioneer, Egyptian Lover released some of the earliest rap LPs but is more widely known for his twelve inch singles, particularly 1984’s “Egypt, Egypt” which was a hugely influential track.

Currently Egyptian Lover is still releasing music, but also making available to fans hand-drawn art covers for his singles. The graffiti style decorations touch on the themes of the Lover’s biggest hits.

He’s selling the pieces for $150 each, which is not bad for original outsider art from a hip hop luminary. Some of the original 40 pieces on offer have sold, but many are still available. You can contact Egyptian Lover through his Facebook page.
 

 

 
Many more after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
John Cage’s 4’33” performed on a refrigerator
07.18.2016
09:20 am

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Amusing
Music

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01cagefridge.jpg
 
When John Cage started out on his career as a composer he was all for noise—for creating “more new sounds.”

In 1937, Cage developed his ideas about noise in an essay The Future of Music: Credo in which he said:

Wherever we are, what we hear is mostly noise.  When we ignore it, it disturbs us.  When we listen to it, we find it fascinating.

Noise was the spur. Cage wanted a “revolution, a healthy lawlessness.” He thought this possible by “hitting anything”—tin pans, rice bowls, iron pipes, whatever came to hand—something he later demonstrated on the TV show I’ve Got a Secret in 1960.

Not only hitting, but rubbing, smashing, making sound in every possible way.

All this changed when Cage met musician Gita Sarabhai in the 1940s who told him:

The purpose of music is to quiet and sober the mind, making it susceptible to divine influences.

It was a major epiphany for Cage. It changed his ideas about “noise” and led him to pose the question why do humans compose music? He said he was “embarrassed” by his search for new sounds and by 1948 had conceived of an idea of creating a piece of music called Silent Prayer consisting solely of “uninterrupted silence” performed for about three or four-and-half minutes (the length of most “canned muzak”) the ending of which “will approach imperceptibility.”

Cage realized silence was as important as sound in composition—but silence shared only one characteristic with sound—time. Silence can not be described in terms of pitch or harmony but only in duration of time. This led—by one composition and another—to his composing 4’ 33” in 1952.

This wasn’t the first time Cage had used silence in his music—his Duet for Two Flutes from 1934 opened with silence. Similarly in his Sonatas and Interludes (1946–48) and Waiting (1952) silence was integral to their musical structure. The idea of “silence” had been percolating in Cage’s mind for some time.

4’ 33” was first performed by pianist David Tudor at a recital of contemporary music at Woodstock, New York on August 29th, 1952. It was performed in three parts of 33’, 2’ 40” and 1’ 20”—each section timed by use of a stopwatch. Tudor indicated the beginning and end of each part by closing and opening the keyboard lid.

Hear 4’ 33” performed on a refrigerator after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Ghost Rider’: Amazing new video surfaces of Suicide, live in 1980
07.17.2016
06:21 pm

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Art
Music
Punk

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This newly re-mastered and edited video by Merrill Aldighieri captures Suicide performing “Ghost Rider” in 1980.  It is some of the best footage you’ll ever see of the legendary rock pioneers.  Alan Vega shines in an atypically subdued but still pretty intense performance. Edgar Allan Presley.

As the resident video jockey at New York City rock club Hurrah, Aldighieri documented some of the best live performances by cutting edge bands of the early 80s including
Gang Of Four, Magazine, Bush Tetras and Suicide. In this edit,  Aldighieri has incorporated the older footage with new imagery filmed at a retrospective of Alan Vega’s paintings and sculptures in Lyon, France that took place in 2009.

Merrill Aldighieri’s website ARTCLIPS is a marvelous compendium of digitally re-mastered Hurrah concert videos made between 1980-1981 among many other delightful things. Visit it.

Merrill is a friend and shot footage of my band at Hurrah in 1980. I asked her for a comment about Alan Vega and this is what she wrote:

The night I met Alan, Oct. 1, 1980 on stage at Hurrah, I was terrified by his unbridled passion. It took all my courage not to turn away. The next time I met him was in his loft downdown. We talked for hours. He did not shy away from anything. His life was an unsolved mystery and you were invited to be a witness, a participant. Humility and talent in equal generous doses. I guess that’s why he was such a good collaborator. He was very proud and in wonderment at the joy of being a father too. He did not hold back.

Legendary punk rocker and Dangerous Minds’ contributor Howie Pyro knew Alan quite well and describes him as…

a man so ahead of his time he left us all in the dust. One of the first times I ever went out to a club in 1976 I saw Suicide open for Blondie & was not prepared for the onslaught of volume, sound, blood, real violence, art, and true rock n roll but with NO guitars or drums!! It blew my mind & I grew up a lot that night…had I known I would be recording with “that guy” 20 years later I’d have (happily) fainted…

Ironically, a man in a band called Suicide approached this mortal coil with the kind of no bullshit intensity that makes life way too interesting to abandon.
 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Ian Curtis of Joy Division, his final interview
07.15.2016
12:03 pm

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Music

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Ian Curtis would have turned 60 today. Two years ago, the website post-punk.com celebrated Curtis’ birthday with a fascinating contribution to Joy Division studies, a complete transcript of one of the few surviving interviews with Curtis that exist.

The interview took place on February 28, 1980, before JD’s gig at Preston Warehouse. (In 1999 a recording of that show was released as Preston 28 February 1980, as it happens.) “Spyda” from Burnley Musician’s Collective interviewed Curtis for a BBC Radio Blackburn program called “Spinoff.” You can actually hear the rest of the band doing a soundcheck in the background.
 

 
In 1988 the interview appeared on BBC Manchester with some previously unheard snippets. The interview is variously called the BBC Blackburn interview or the Radio Lancashire interview. This is actually considered to be the last interview Curtis ever gave.

In the interview Curtis, asked about “the current state of new wave,” replies thus:
 

Don’t know. I think it’s, a lot of it tends to have lost its edge really. There’s quite a few new groups that I’ve heard.. odd records. Record or have seen maybe such as, eh, I like, I think it’s mostly old Factory groups really, I like the groups on Factory; A Certain Ratio and Section 25. I tend not to listen, when I’m listening to records, I don’t listen to much new wave stuff, i tend to listen to the stuff I used to listen to a few years back but sort of odd singles. I know somebody who works in a record shop where I live and I’ll go in there and he’ll play me “have you heard this single?” singles by er the group called The Tights, so an obscure thing … and a group called, I think, er Bauhaus, a London group, that’s one single. There’s no one I completely like that I can say “well I’ve got all this person’s records. i think he’s great” or “this group’s records” it’s just, again, odd things

 
Bauhaus had released “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” in 1979. Aside from that, the band released “Dark Entries” in January 1980 and that was the entire Bauhaus catalog when Curtis did that interview.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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