It’s arguably the greatest LP gatefold image of all time: the drool-inducing food porn Mexican spread from the inner fold of ZZ Top’s 1973 Tres Hombres album. Only Coven’s Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reap Souls comes close to matching it’s exemplary use of the medium, but as far as gatefold images go, it’s hard to top THE TOP.
In what is destined to be the the greatest short film of 2016, Austin chef Thomas Micklethwait lovingly re-creates this enviable meal and proceeds to eat the shit out of it.
As someone who has often dreamt of being at that fabled table, all I can say is kudos to the chef for allowing me to live vicariously through him and yet not have to experience the following day’s Afterburner tribute.
Billy Squier’s “Rock Me Tonite” is infamous in the annals of rock history as the video so completely terrible that it torpedoed the artist’s career, a feat that’s arguably never been repeated. Squier became a freakin’ HUGE rock star at the turn of the ‘80s, when his second album Don’t Say No sold all the copies and spawned four hits. He even became an unlikely figure in hip-hop when everyone sampled his early single “The Big Beat”—look up the song on whosampled.com, it’s got 16 pages of citations. His stature grew to the point that he could get Andy Warhol to design the cover art for the follow-up album, which also sold about a gazillion copies. He looked to be pretty well set.
BUT THEN CAME THE DAMN VIDEO. My esteemed DM colleague Marc Campbell wrote about it a few years back, and I’d direct you to his post for the comprehensive dope, but here’s the tl;dr: Squier wasn’t entirely without crossover appeal, but his fan base was mostly unreconstructed classic rockers—bemulletted devotees of Foreginer, Journey, et al—so it’s unclear why the video director thought it was a good idea to dress the artist up like he’d been kicked out of Kajagoogoo for outdated hair and film him prancing around a bedroom, preening at his own reflection, playing air guitar, and tearing off his shirt.
The video was seen by the artist’s core followers as really super ultra gay, and while gay acceptance began its upswing in the ‘80s, 1984 wasn’t exactly rainbow-topia among the Canadian Tuxedo brigades. While the album from which “Rock Me Tonite” was culled still sold millions, Squier’s rep took such a beating that his next album—and all subsequent albums—arrived to zero fanfare whatsoever, although since artists of Squier’s ilk were on the way out by the mid-‘80s, who’s to say his Learjet days weren’t already numbered?
But you know, the song was crap anyway. The riff is meh and the lyrics are a lazy cliché storm (“Moonlight in the city brings the magic to your eyes?” FUCK YOU, dude…) And as it turns out, the already unintentionally hilarious video is all the funnier without the song. We’ve posted “MusiclessMusicVideos” before, but I’m going to call this one a tie for first with the Jagger/Bowie “Dancing in the Street” coke freakout.
Before Otis Redding became a star in America, he was already a superstar in Europe. He was feted by The Beatles, hailed by the NME and Melody Maker as the world’s greatest male vocalist, and had major record sales and sellout concerts wherever he appeared. A generation of young singers ranging from Rod Stewart—who claims he modeled his singing style on Redding—to Bryan Ferry were in awe of The Big O: Mr. Otis Redding—the King of Soul.
By 1966, Redding was so popular in the UK he was given his own one-off special in the primetime music show Ready, Steady, Go!. Redding joined a very select band of artists who were honored in this way—the others being The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who.
For Otis and the other Stax artists who toured the UK and Europe during the mid-1960s, the biggest surprise was discovering it was the white kids who idolized them. Unlike America, there was was no racial segregation in Europe. No color bar. No diners or rest rooms for “whites only.” None of the brutal racism blacks encountered in their homeland on a daily basis. It was a discovery that altered all of these artists’ belief in themselves and was a sign that right was on their side and the times they were a-changin’.
Otis Redding on ‘The!!!! Beat,’ 1966.
One of those small shifts in change with seismic importance happened fifty years ago this week, when ABC affiliate station WFAA recorded the first of their music series The!!!! Beat in Dallas, Texas. Hosted by legendary DJ Bill “Hoss” Allen—who played blues and black gospel on his radio show during the 1950s—his beautiful piece of delicious pop history ran for one season of 26 episodes in 1966. It was one of the very first music series to be shot on videotape and in color. The!!!! Beat showcased such legendary artists as Otis Redding, Percy Sledge, Etta James, Carla Thomas, Sam & Dave, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Joe Tex and many, many more. If asked what my idea of heaven would be—if heaven was a TV show—I would reply something like The!!!! Beat with its wall-to-wall R ‘n’ B and soul artists.
Watch the first five episodes of ‘The!!!! Beat’ after the jump…
A young Steven Morrissey contemplating the state of punk rock
Recently, I spent some time collecting for you my dear Dangerous Minds readers, numerous amusing pieces of personal correspondence (adorable typos and all) from a young, pre-Smiths Morrissey. Even back then, Morrissey was busy cultivating the melancholy persona that we all know and love today.
The home address of a teenage Morrissey
Part of a letter from a young Morrissey to his pen pal, Robert Mackie, October 22nd, 1980
In addition to excerpts from many of his pen pal letters to Robert Mackie, I’ve included a few of Morrissey’s letters to various magazines and several of his reviews of bands like Depeche Mode and The Cramps that appeared in the weekly British newspaper, the Record Mirror from 1980.
I’m especially fond of the then teenaged Morrissey’s review of a live gig in April of 1980 by The Cramps at Manchester Polytechnic (which you can read below) that he wrote for Record Mirror in which he muses “Is it true that guitarist Ivy Rorschach sets fires to orphanages when she’s bored?” If only. What follows makes for some fantastic reading, enjoy!
A review of a live show of The Cramps at Manchester Polytechnic that appeared in the Record Mirror, April 4th, 1980 written by a 21-year-old Morrissey
In Spring of 1980, just as Robert Smith was about to turn 21 years old, the Cure, supporting their sophomore release Seventeen Seconds (and new single “A Forest”) made their first trip to America. They played six dates, including three in NYC at the Hurrah’s nightclub, where Chris Stein and Debbie Harry turned up to meet them.
On 10 April, The Cure went to America for the first time.
Robert: “We’d obtained cult status out there but we only played New York, Philly, Washington and Boston. We played three nights - 15, 16 and 17th - at Hurrah in New York and it was packed.”
Simon: “It was done on a shoestring budget but it was lots of fun. Instead of having cans of beer backstage, we’d have shots of Southern Comfort!”
Robert: “It was like a holiday. Even at this point, everything we did, we didn’t think we’d be doing again so we used to go to bed at about five in the morning and get up again at eight just to go out and see New York.”
On his return, Robert told Record Mirror how America meant “being bombarded by people who all ask the same questions and all want to shake your hand . . . you just find yourself getting sucked into the whole rock ‘n’ roll trip which we’re trying so hard to get away from” while Sounds’ Phil Sutcliffe, who’d accompanied the band to New York. told, in an article “Somebody Get Me A Doctor,” how Robert had done his utmost to avoid having his picture taken with Debbie Harry.
Although these two videos from one of the nights at Hurrah’s were posted by the creators, Charles Libin & Paul Cameron, ASC, a few years back, they’ve had precious few plays. If only all shot from the audience videos of the punk/post-punk and new wave era were done this well.
“A Forest” was the set closer, while “Secrets” was the first encore, played next.
Attention Ministry diehards! (If there are any still out there.) Al Jourgensen recently announced that three hundred lucky Ministry devotees will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pay for the privilege of a big bath of Ministry love (including “access to band rehearsals” and “access to band’s soundcheck before show”) all while staying at the swanky Freemont Country Club in downtown Las Vegas at the end of May.
The whole affair is called “Ministry Boot Camp,” and it’s basically a massive Ministry fantasy weekend in which you can spend three nights in a fancy hotel room and have a Q&A session with Jourgensen, attend a Ministry show in the “VIP area,” get shit signed (one item only, greedheads!), and so on.
The full weekend has a tiered pricing structure in which you can pay $2,000 to become a Ministry “Sergeant,” $3,000 to become a Ministry “Major,” or $4,000 to become a Ministry “Colonel.” (I love the military metaphor, it’s just like joining the KISS Army!) The three packages are distinguished by how nice a room you get and if you can pick your roommate and stuff like that. But all three packages receive the following:
Three nights accommodations at The Golden Nugget (Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
$50 food and beverage credit per day (Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
Welcome reception with the band Friday night
Access to band rehearsals Friday & Saturday night
Access to band’s soundcheck before show on Sunday night
Access to full live show on Sunday night with VIP area
Q&A session w/ Al Jourgensen and Ministry
TBA daytime activities with Al Jourgensen and Ministry
Meet and greet with Al Jourgensen and Ministry including individual photograph and signing of one item (With Sympathy excluded)
Ministry merch goodie bag
Remember, don’t bring a copy of With Sympathy and expect Al to sign that shit! It ain’t gonna happen.
Upon reading this announcement, a friend wondered, “Does this mean he didn’t meet his Patreon goal?”
Turns out, that witticism may be dead-on accurate. Late last year (sometime in November, it seems) Jourgensen actually did start a Patreon crowdfunding project with the stated goal of generating $5,000 a month—as of now the page has stalled at $525.44 per month (which is still kind of impressive).
In the ‘70s, Warner Brothers records released an amazing series of compilations. They were officially dubbed the “Loss Leaders” for exactly-what-it-says-on-the-box reasons; for a paltry $2, you’d get a double LP (some were single-platter, at least one was a triple), packaged with an ample book of liner notes and stuffed with songs from superstars, cult artists and new signings alike. The idea was that though you bought it for the huge hit or rare track by Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Rod Stewart, or whoever, you’d also end up hearing left-field stuff by the Fugs, Deaf School, Talking Heads, Wild Man Fischer, Captain Beefheart, et al ad infinitum. If any of the lesser-known tracks connected with listeners, that would translate into more records sold at full price. They made dozens of those comps, and a great many of them were compiled and liner-noted by Barry “Dr. Demento” Hansen. They were available by mail-order between 1969 and 1980, when the campaign abruptly and sadly ended.
(It merits mentioning here that the final Loss Leader, 1980’s Troublemakers, features Gang of Four, PiL, DEVO, Wire, and John Cale, and so might be of extremely high interest to a hell of a lot of this blog’s followers. I’d even venture to guess that that very comp could be the very record that made a few of our readers realize they were mutants to begin with.)
Warner resurrected the “Loss Leader” idea in name only for a couple of giveaway comps in 1995 and 1999, but the cheap-o label sampler idea was such an obvious winner that indie/underground labels began to take up that torch the ’80s, and some of those collections have become legendary. In 1997, Matador records released a ridiculously generous 2XCD comp called What’s Up Matador, which sold at a very low retail price. The idea was the same; Teenage Fanclub, Pavement and Guided By Voices would sell the comp to people who would hopefully then get hip to quality lesser-knowns like Bardo Pond, S.F Seals, and Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 (and by the way, getting hip to Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 wouldn’t be such a terrible use of your time), and hopefully those smaller bands enlarged their audiences.
That comp came out when I was neckdeep in my college radio years, and naturally it got a ton of spins during my airshift, but what I wasn’t aware of—because I was a dumb dipshit who never even once bothered to read the liner notes—was that What’s Up Matador was also a completely bonkers video compilation. No mere digest of promo clips, the video was shot as a fake children’s TV show, with preposterous “educational” segments by the label’s roster of weirdo musicians, hosted by the then-renowned TV smiler Bill Boggs (I recognized him from a late night satellite dish infomercial). Segments include a pedalboard demo by Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan, a marvelous storybook history of Matador illustrated by Railroad Jerk’s Marcellus Hall, a damn near obscene theremin demonstration by Jon Spencer, and a hilariously stilted fake interview with Liz Phair. The video was written and directed by Clay Tarver, guitarist for the Matador band Chavez (one of my top-tier favorite overlooked ‘90s bands, as it happens), who was kind enough to take some time to talk with me about it.
CLAY TARVER: I had been doing some video work, and when Matador was going to put together this compilation, I pitched this video idea because I wanted to do more of that. I really racked my brain about what would be the most ridiculous thing to do, and the idea I started with was to do a sort of Reading Rainbow type show. It seemed funny to me to have someone like Jon Spencer sitting down reading to a bunch of kids, but to do it in a way that made more fun of Jon Spencer than it did the kids. Then it all came together when we cast Bill Boggs with the idea to make it as straight as possible. The guiding creative principle was to make it not winking or campy, but to do it like a real show. Bill knew Matador was a hip thing, and while we didn’t want to fuck with him or make him the butt of the joke, we also didn’t want to correct him in those moments when he wasn’t entirely clear on how sarcastic this would be, that we were making fun of indie music as much as we were making fun of kids’ shows.
I also got an illuminating earful from Matador label honcho Gerard Cosloy…
GERARD COSLOY: We wanted to do a Matador compilation similar to things like the Warner Brothers Loss Leader comps, Blasting Concept, Wailing Ultimate, as a cheap introduction to the wonderful world of Matador, and we needed a concept. We had the idea to do an accompanying video just cobbling together a bunch of videos from the period, but that wasn’t very ambitious, so we wanted to have a narrative to it. We kept thinking about infomercials and instructional films, and we also thought about very awkward situations, like how this could be for children, like a child’s primer on the world of Matador, or record manufacturing and whatnot, just to add to the incongruity of the whole thing. Clay understood the idea right away. Some of the vague inspirations included the WOR TV show Wonderama, Uncle Floyd, Major Mudd, these sorts of kids shows with very poor production values, that are a little too earnest and a little wrong.
We were initially thinking of going for the laugh factor instead of playing it deadpan, and one of us—meaning me—had my heart set on Richard Bey, who was a shit-TV fixture on the East Coast from that era, who had a very exploitative, silly show. I thought he’d be perfect because he was so smarmy and creepy and weird, the least hip human being in the entire world. Having him in front of a room full of kids talking about music would be wrong in every conceivable way. His casting agency wanted some astronomical amount of money for him, they wanted something like $15,000. I think we budgeted something closer to $3,000. The agency suggested Bill Boggs, which was kind of incredible, because in a lot of ways he was a much bigger coup with a way more respected resume. He’s hosted daytime TV, he had a late night show in New York, I think he was the original executive producer of The Morton Downey Jr. Show. His credentials a both a totally generic host and as a guy who’d worked on really wacky TV was impeccable. He was just perfect for the job, because he was so deadpan that it made for much better comedy. Bill gave it a measure of gravitas—and it doesn’t make any sense, because there’s no way you could watch this and think it was real!
In conjunction with the launch of a new “This Day In Matador History” web site that seeks to engage music fans with the label’s now 27-ish years of output, the What’s Up Matador video is being released online for the first time ever today. Until now, it’s been a VHS collectable, and it was bundled as an add-on to the later Everything Is Nice DVD. As it happens, the mechanics of the cassette format led to a fucking hilarious manufacturing error in the video’s initial run.
Here’s that story in Gerard’s words, it’s pretty amazing:
GERARD COSLOY:The video duplication company that was in charge of manufacturing and packaging the VHS tapes was also handling the Michael Flatley Lord of the Dance videos, which were very very popular, he sold hundreds of thousands of those—God knows to who. There was a manufacturing error, and I don’t know exactly how many, but a good portion of the early shipments of What’s Up, Matador, people got their videocassettes, put them in their VCRs, and instead of seeing Bill Boggs, Ira Kaplan and Liz Phair, they were seeing Michael Flatley dance routines! We had a number of kinda angry consumers, and I hope that we got them all the right videotapes once the dust eventually cleared, but it was a long time ago. There was some ill will over that which probably cost us some word-of-mouth. I think we tried to explain to people that the Flatley tape was like $60 and they only paid $15. Our customer service back then wasn’t very sophisticated.
William Friedkin’s 1973 masterpiece, The Exorcist, was a landmark in horror cinema, a cultural phenomenon, and (if adjusting for inflation) the ninth highest-grossing film of all time.
The film makes minimal use of music—a stylistic choice which gives the film an air of stark realism despite the supernatural events depicted onscreen. Of the minimal music used in the film, most famous is Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells,” which went on to become a smash so huge that it essentially birthed the Virgin empire.
Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells,” used as the main theme for ‘The Exorcist.’
Before Friedkin settled on Oldfield’s prog masterpiece, he had originally commissioned a score from Lalo Schifrin, who had famously done soundtrack work for Cool Hand Luke, Dirty Harry, and the instantly recognizable Mission Impossible TV show theme.
Composer/conductor, Lalo Schifrin
Schifrin’s atonal Exorcist score was very much in the vein of Krzysztof Penderecki (whose “Cello Concerto No. 1” of Polymorphia was used in the film’s final edit) with the addition of Bernard Herrmann-esque “fright stabs.”
This score was used in an advanced trailer which some have called the “banned trailer.” As the stories go, this trailer literally made audiences sick when it was shown. It’s unclear if the sounds and images were simply upsetting or if the flashing images actually caused seizures in some viewers.
Schifrin, speaking to Score Magazine revealed some of the history of his work and Friedkin’s reaction:
The truth is that it was one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life, but I have recently read that in order to triumph in your life, you may previously have some fails. What happened is that the director, William Friedkin, hired me to write the music for the trailer, six minutes were recorded for the Warner’s edition of the trailer. The people who saw the trailer reacted against the film, because the scenes were heavy and frightening, so most of them went to the toilet to vomit. The trailer was terrific, but the mix of those frightening scenes and my music, which was also a very difficult and heavy score, scared the audiences away. So, the Warner Brothers executives said Friedkin to tell me that I must write less dramatic and softer score. I could easily and perfectly do what they wanted because it was way too simple in relevance to what I have previously written, but Friedkin didn’t tell me what they said. I´m sure he did it deliberately. In the past we had an incident, caused by other reasons, and I think he wanted vengeance. This is my theory. This is the first time I speak of this matter, my attorney recommended me not to talk about it, but I think this is a good time to reveal the truth.
Finally, I wrote the music for the film in the same vein as that of the trailer. In fact, when I wrote the trailer I was in the studio with Friedkin and he congratulated me for it. So, I thought i was in the right way… but the truth was very different.
Reportedly, Friedkin was so displeased with the partial score that Schifrin had submitted that he literally threw it out of the studio window—mirroring the second story window ejections of Burke Dennings and Father Karras in the film. It’s no wonder Schifrin called it one of the “most unpleasant experiences” of his life.
After the jump, hear the full terrifying (and rejected) Lalo Schifrin score for ‘The Exorcist’...
The guillotine used during Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies tour in 1973
Alice Cooper drummer Neal Smith will be auctioning off some of his career memorabilia including what Smith says is the guillotine used during the tour in support of Billion Dollar Babies in 1973. Nice.
Neal Smith’s mirrored drum kit
Other items of note in the auction held by Heritage Auctions which is set to begin sometime in early February are Smiths’ mirrored drum kit that he used during the Billion Dollar Babies tour, and a load of glammy clothing Smith wore on stage in the late 60s and early 70s. Some of my favorite items from the auction follow.