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That time the Velvet Underground’s ‘Venus in Furs’ was used to peddle tires…
09.27.2017
01:21 pm
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It’s difficult to tell which lyric in Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs,” off of the band’s debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico, so causes tire manufacturers to incorporate the song into their commercials. Is it “downy sins of streetlight fancies” or “tongue of thongs, the belt that does await you”? See, rumor has it that Goodyear once made a commercial that uses “Venus in Furs” but it was clearly not shown for long, hardly anyone seems to have seen it. Somewhere there lurks a royalty-clearance attorney who knows the answer to this question.

In James Dean Transfigured: The Many Faces of Rebel Iconography, Claudia Springer mentions the Goodyear commercial one time, in between references to William S. Burroughs’ Nike ad and Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” appearing in a Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines spot. Ah, the 1990s.
 

 
That Goodyear spot is lost to the sands of time, alas—until some astute video collector finds it and posts it on YouTube, that is. But Goodyear wasn’t the only company that wanted “Venus in Furs” in its ad. Dunlop Tyres (a subsidiary of Goodyear’s) also ran a completely different commercial for tires in 1993 that used the song. Dunlop Tyres was a British concern—does the name give it away?—and the ad was a product of the ad agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO in London.

The commercial was directed by British director Tony Kaye, whose name you might recognize from the ugly fight over the Edward Norton movie American History X, which he directed and then disowned. This minute-long commercial featured tons of self-consciously “weird” imagery, such as a falling piano, a cackling voodoo master, a skull in flames, and a bald albino in a corset. Basically it’s what would happen if the album art for the Pixies’ Doolittle (or really any 4AD album) suddenly came to life. The name of the ad is “Tested for the Unexpected.” The people who made HBO’s Carnivale probably had to memorize this commercial. 

One wonders if the people who commissioned the ad ever heard of Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch, who bequeathed us one-half of the term sadomasochism? (For the record, I’m guessing Kaye had, at least.)

More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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09.27.2017
01:21 pm
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Ever wanted to play bass in Dinosaur Jr? In 1991, you could have applied for the job via fax
09.26.2017
09:34 am
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Finding new (like-minded) band members can be really hard. I mean, have you ever taken a look at the insane “Musician Wanted” fliers that people post at Guitar Center? Craigslist is even worse. What other options are there? Well, perhaps you could try national television.

If you dig deep into a lifetime of unnecessary pop culture references, you may recall the laughable, once-upon-a time reality series from 2005, Rock Star: INXS. After losing founder and vocalist Michael Hutchence to a potentially accidental, autoerotic asphyxiation death in 1997, the Australian rock group auditioned an oblivious group of starry-eyed randos in front of the entire world in hopes of “discovering” their new frontman. Competition winner JD Fortune really did become the new face of INXS for a number of years, and the group even recorded their eleventh studio album Switch with him. Fortune was eventually kicked out of the group (twice), in true rockstar fashion, all thanks to his newfound drug addiction.
 

INXS with their new replacement singer, JD Fortune
 
While an attention-seeking stunt like this may seem absurd to you, let’s take a moment to admire the time Dinosaur Jr. was a guest on MTV’s alternative music program 120 Minutes in 1991. The scenario was simple: vocalist / guitarist J. Mascis and drummer Murph joined VJ and series creator Dave Kendall on air to promote their newly-released fourth album, Green Mind. Not only was it their first to be released on a major label (Sire), but it was essentially a J Mascis solo album with him playing nearly every instrument on the record. Original bassist Lou Barlow had departed from the group years prior, in 1989, due to internal tension and they hadn’t quite replaced him in time for this major milestone.
 

 
Discontent and lacking a bass player for touring purposes, J and Murph utilized their MTV appearance as a humorous opportunity to round out their dynamic three-piece. After much withstanding and sarcastic deflection of Kendall’s prototypical interview questions in true Dino Jr. fashion, show producers flashed a fax number where one can reach out to try out for the band. According to the interview, the only requirements of the applicant was that they “had to rock” and, of course, all band members had to get along. I’m not sure if this was how replacement bassist Mike Johnson got the part later that year, but I would like to imagine Mascis choosing his application among the stacks of papers rolling out of their fax machine. The band eventually disintegrated in 1997, only to reform with the original lineup of Mascis, Murph, and Barlow in 2005.
 
Watch Dinosaur Jr.‘s hilariously awkward appearance on ‘120 Minutes’ below:
 

 

Dinosaur Jr. perform “Raisins” on MTV Europe’s edition of ‘120 Minutes’ in 1994
 

Posted by Bennett Kogon
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09.26.2017
09:34 am
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A young Pete Townshend co-stars in little known art school student film ‘Lone Ranger,’ 1968
09.25.2017
06:08 pm
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Royal College of Art student Richard Stanley was pals with the Who’s Pete Townshend (at one point staying the summer at the guitarist’s flat at 20 Ebury Street) and convinced him to play a character, based on himself to a certain degree, in Stanley’s student film Lone Ranger. Townshend also did the music for the short which was edited by longtime Robert Wyatt collaborator (she’s also married to him) Alfreda Benge. The great Storm Thorgerson served as Stanley’s Assistant Director. The 22-minute long 16mm film was Stanley’s Diploma film for his M.A. from the R.C.A. in 1968. Apparently just a single, scratchy German distribution print of the film survives today: “The dirt and scratches do not come from a plug-in” writes the director on Vimeo who goes on to add that “the budget, as I recall, was 50 quid, but of course everyone worked for free.”

The first idea for the film came out of many conversations with Pete Townshend about music and film, and his expressed interest in making a movie soundtrack. He was also thinking about Tommy in the same period.

The idea developed in conversations with fellow students Storm Thorgerson (later founder of Hipgnosis) and David Gale (later founder of improvisational theatre group Lumière & Son). Their good friend (and thereafter mine), Matthew Scurfield, became the main actor at the urging of Storm and Dave.

Lone Ranger was shot in South Kensington and Knightsbridge during January and February of 1968:

We were all living in London at the height of its swingingness. But strangely, in spite of a great feeling of social change in the air, it all seemed normal to us. Looking back, it is more documentary than I thought at the time.

None of us was quite sure what we are creating. A lot was improvised during shooting, although the scenes were all written as sketches of action and location. I specialized in camerawork at the RCA and was heavily influenced by French New Wave cameramen such as Raoul Coutard and Henri Decae. “The camera is a pen.”

Amidst all this chaos, three people were key in holding it all together: Chris Morphet, the cameraman, whose friendly cynicism has trimmed my bemused pomposity since 1963, and Alfie Benge, the editor, who somehow managed to build a new genre out of this bundle of sketches. And Pete, whose music somehow ties the whole thing together.

John Pasche, who did the graphics, was also the designer of the 1970 Rolling Stones’ lips and tongue logo. So Lone Ranger is perhaps the only project to unite creative connections between The Who, Pink Floyd and the Stones.

The star of the film is Matthew Scurfield, whose acting, it must be said, was rather uninhibited. This is a good thing.
 

From left: Chris Cornford, Matthew Scurfield, Pete Townshend
 
Amazingly, this eccentric little film was seen as controversial:

The board of the Film School tried to ban Lone Ranger from a show at the British Film Institute. Thanks to the protests of my fellow students, it was reinstated. The film went on to win a Golden Hugo at the Chicago film festival, and a script prize at the Nyons Film Festival.

Watch ‘Lone Ranger’ after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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09.25.2017
06:08 pm
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Turns out, it’s crazy easy to write a Morrissey song
09.22.2017
09:00 am
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Who knew how ridiculously easy it is to write a song in the style of Morrissey?

Musician Andy Wood reveals the “one weird trick” in this brief three-minute tutorial.

Wood demonstrates that Morrissey’s melodies tend to be one note—the major third of whatever key you are playing in. He demonstrates this by playing chords in the key of E, while singing in the major third, G sharp.

Wood says that in order to sing like Morrissey you must always avoid singing the root note, because to do that would give the melody a beginning or an ending and a Morrissey song “starts in the middle, ends in the middle, and in the middle it has more middle.”

Even more “middle” after the jump…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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09.22.2017
09:00 am
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Having fun with the Doors’ collected singles in mono, stereo and quad
09.22.2017
08:32 am
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Spare a thought for the Doors fan who has already spent time with 13, Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine, The Best of the Doors (1973), Greatest Hits, The Best of the Doors (1985), Classics, The Doors (Original Soundtrack Recording), The Doors Box Set, The Best of the Doors (2000), The Very Best of the Doors, Legacy: The Absolute Best, Love/Death/Travel, Scattered Sun, and The Platinum Collection. You could forgive such a person for regarding a new Doors compilation with suspicion, if not hostility. Again the Lizard King is passing the hat? Now he wants a swimming pool for his celestial mansion, I suppose?

But The Singles is a welcome addition to the Doors catalog, especially because of its mono and quad content. The mono tracks walk up to you, poke you in the chest and box your ears. It is startling, for instance, to hear “Hello, I Love You” in its radio version, so mixed as to sound kickass on a 1968 clock radio or the fillings in your teeth. Something unwholesome has been restored to it, and when it ends, I expect to hear “Double Shot (Of My Baby’s Love)” or “Louie Louie.”

Disc two presents the five singles the Doors released after Jim died, making this the first collection to acknowledge the Other Voices and Full Circle years, a period other retrospectives pass over in embarrassed silence (cf. the Clash, Cut the Crap). While I doubt the appearance of “Treetrunk” on CD will bring anyone to orgasm, it is interesting to hear “Tightrope Ride,” “Ships w/ Sails” and the rest of the trio’s 45s in the same sequence as “Roadhouse Blues,” “Riders On The Storm” and the other FM evergreens (though not “L.A. Woman,” an album cut).

Thirty-five minutes of post-Jim Doors is a lot of time to reflect. Why should it be the case that some qualities are pleasing in the human voice, and others less so? The songs are pretty good, even—Densmore’s “The Piano Bird” is class all the way—but again and again, there’s that disorienting shift in lyrical perspective. “The year 2000 is the cutoff point,” Ray warns mysteriously on one song. “It wouldn’t matter but it’s time to meditate,” Robby sings on another. Huh?
 

 
Balancing the contraction of the mono material is the expansion of the The Best of the Doors (1973), here on Blu-ray in its original Quadradisc mix. For all the 40th anniversary surround mixes’ fine points, some of their novel presentations lacked the immediacy and clarity of the originals. While the placement of instruments in the quad mix may be crude at times, it deserves credit for enlarging the hits without fucking around with them so much.

The Quadradisc opens with the monstrous “Who Do You Love?” that starts Absolutely Live. At “Somebody scream!” a lone WAUUUUUGH! erupts from the right back channel. Too, Jim’s ghost whispers in your ear during “Riders On The Storm.” Heavy! But the best way to have fun with this Blu-ray is to walk around among the four channels of “Hello, I Love You” as if you were at a freshman mixer. You pay a visit to the fuzz guitar for a minute, and then you go check in on the keys, see how their summer was. Mingle.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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09.22.2017
08:32 am
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Kate Bush’s charming Japanese TV ad for Seiko watches, 1978
09.21.2017
08:50 am
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As quickly as the young Kate Bush had won over the British public, she was even more of an overnight sensation in Japan where she performed “Moving” at the Nippon Budokan arena during the 7th annual international Tokyo Music Festival. The performance was broadcast on Japanese television on June 21, 1978 and was watched by an estimated audience of 35 million people. Bush came in second, awarded the silver prize, to American soul singer Al Green.

You’ll note that her microphone is nestled inside of the flowers that she’s wearing, allowing her free movement during a song called… “Moving” (inexplicably retitled as something that translates as “Angels and Little Demons” when it was released in Japan as a single). The song was from her debut album The Kick Inside and is a tribute to Lindsay Kemp, who taught Bush (and before her David Bowie) mime in the mid-Seventies.
 

Kate Bush performs at the Tokyo Music Festival in June 1978.
 

 
Bush may not have nabbed the top prize at the contest, but an offer did come her way immediately afterwards for a lucrative commercial sponsorship deal for Seiko watches that must’ve taken the sting out of losing.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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09.21.2017
08:50 am
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Monkee Python: Micky Dolenz directs Michael Palin and Terry Jones in ‘The Box’
09.21.2017
06:13 am
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Micky Dolenz directing the final episode of ‘The Monkees’
 
After the Monkees, after Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart, after the stage show of Harry Nilsson’s The Point!, Micky Dolenz spent a few years working as a TV director in London. He nearly made a career out of it. Dolenz was behind the camera of the robot sitcom Metal Mickey (namesake of Suede’s second single), the British version of Fernwood 2 Night (LWT’s For 4 Tonight), and the Bill Oddie series From the Top.

Dolenz also directed the TV film of a one-act play by Michael Palin and Terry Jones. The Box was based on Buchanan’s Finest Hour, the second of two short plays that made up Palin and Jones’ Their Finest Hours. A footnote in Palin’s diaries gives these plot summaries:

Underwood’s Finest Hour is set in a labour room with a mother straining to give birth and a doctor straining to listen to a particularly exciting Test Match. Buchanan’s Finest Hour is about a marketing idea gone awry. The cast, including the Pope, are trapped inside a packing crate throughout.

Watch ‘The Box’ after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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09.21.2017
06:13 am
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Their gender has everything (and nothing whatsoever) to do with what made the Slits so great
09.20.2017
03:13 pm
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Typical girls?

Everyone has something—that ONE THING—from their youth that they wish they had kept and still had today. Mine? The most regrettable thing I’ve ever loved and lost? A nearly lifesize cardboard cutout “standee” advertising the Cut album by the Slits. All three of them, covered in mud and at least 4 1/2 feet tall. In pristine condition, too. Yep, I used to own that. I can psychically feel the envy of several of you reading this. I bought it for eight pounds at the Portobello Market sometime in 1983 and carefully dragged it home via the London underground back to my squat on Coldharbour Lane in Brixton. I loved that thing. It was unquestionably my prized possession at the time. Problem was, when I moved to New York in late 1984, there was no practical way to get it across the Atlantic that wouldn’t have been prohibitively expensive to then 19-year-old me without bending it and fucking it up too much. It was too fragile and unwieldy for anything other than fine art shipping, so I ruefully gave it to a friend who was more than happy to eagerly take it off my hands.

I’m bummed out just thinking of it. It sucked then and it still sucks today, some 33 years later. Don’t think I haven’t scoured eBay for years searching for another! Can you imagine how much such a museum-level artifact of punk would go for today? SHIT!
 

 
I bought Cut when it first came out and I saw it filed in the “import” section of the local mall’s Musicland store (the same bin where I’d also discover X-Ray Spex, Henry Cow, Peter Hammill and Tubular Bells). Its punky reggae sound was very, very appealing to me straight off the bat. I’d read about the Slits, in books like Caroline Coon’s 1988 and in the few issues of Melody Maker that made their way to my rust belt hometown, but they were probably the last of the formative punk bands to put a record out. When I did finally hear them, Cut was a bolt from the blue to my teenaged, rock-crazed brain and the Slits more than lived up to the larger-than-life idea that I already I had of them. It sounded exactly like I expected it to, in other words. The Slits were, to my young ears, amongst the most sonically “far out” and experimental of the post-punk groups, in the same category as Public Image Ltd. (who were my #1 favorite band) in terms of the astonishing originality of their music.

For the Slits’ sound was like none other, a perfectly melded hybrid of playfully loopy, almost itchy punk, dub-drenched reggae and Afro-pop with the riotous white-Rastafarian-cum-St. Trinian’s-girl-run-amok front woman in the form of Ari Up (who was all of fourteen when she joined the group). Truly the unruly, inspired, nearly uncategorizable MUSIC of the Slits deserves a better place in the history of modern music than it’s been accorded thus far. Of course, their gender has everything and nothing whatsoever to do with what made the Slits so great.
 

 
One reason for this disconnect between their by now historically well-established reputation as formative feminist icons of British punk and how amazing and special their actual music was, is clearly the fact of the relative unobtainability of Cut‘s arguably better follow-up Return of the Giant Slits. That album was never released in America at all. Additionally, for the better part of 26 years it was only ever available from 2004 on as a pricey Japanese import CD until it was finally reissued in 2008 by Blast First. Sadly, to this day few people know the album, including no doubt many, if not most, of the people who profess to love its more roughly-hewn predecessor.

Return of the Giant Slits represented a huge leap forward for the group who were joined on drums and percussion by Bruce Smith of the Pop Group. Aside from Ari’s almost childishly obnoxious vocalizing, there was precious little in common with their first album. The shambolic, off-kilter feel of Cut was replaced by a lighter, more nimble sound. Viv Albertine’s guitar sound went from being (perfectly) plodding to scratchy, skittish, skipping, full of uniquely oblique angles and wonderfully complemented by Smith’s complex Afrobeat-inspired percussion and Tessa Pollitt’s rubbery bass. Much credit is deserved by the noted British multi-instrumentalist Steve Beresford whose tripped-out, atmospheric sound effects, melodica and trombone contributions—he’s all over the album—elevate the proceedings to another level entirely. Once I was able to get my hands on some “real” (Jamaican) dub, I was disappointed that it seldom lived up to the psychedelic standards set for me by Return of the Giant Slits.

Take a moment, won’t you, and LOUDLY play “Earthbeat,” the incredible lead off track from Return of the Giant Slits:
 

 
Much more Slits after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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09.20.2017
03:13 pm
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Get your very own David Bowie life mask
09.20.2017
12:52 pm
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David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve in ‘The Hunger’
 
Before the advent of photography as a widespread practice available to common citizens, it was not unusual to take casts of the faces of prominent personages in the moments after death. For those who had logged noteworthy accomplishments, it was a way to fix the memory of that person, to remind one of his (seldom her) reality. A quick round of Googling reveals the existence of death masks of such well-known folks as Abraham Lincoln, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Napoleon, Ludwig van Beethoven, Benjamin Franklin, Ulysses S. Grant, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin), Martin Luther, Richard Wagner, and Isaac Newton.

Once you hit the mature years of the 20th century, death masks become far rarer. For some reason there is one for James Dean, and Nazis are statistically overrepresented in the group, there being death masks for Reinhard Heydrich, Heinrich Himmler, and Erwin Rommel. It’s not a thing we do anymore. In the age of Facebook, even un-famous people are often photographed incessantly, so the need is not as pressing to fix our memory of a person’s visual appearance. There’s always plenty of pictures out there!

To the best of my knowledge, there never was a death mask taken of the distinctive visage of David Bowie, but a “life mask” was taken, during the making of Tony Scott’s moody vampire flick The Hunger. In one point in The Hunger, the vampire John Blaylock rapidly ages several decades, so it was necessary to depict Bowie as an old man. Rather than subject Bowie to extra makeup sessions, the life mask was taken to make life easier for Dick Smith, in charge of makeup effects for the movie.
 

 
The process of making “old Bowie” is documented in Anthony Timpone’s Men, Makeup, and Monsters: Hollywood’s Masters of Illusion and FX, of which a relevant page is shown above.

At the risk of being called morbid, it would certainly be an apt sign of devotion to have a casting of Bowie’s life mask in your living room, and just such a possibility is currently being provided by Kirstie Hewer of Classic Castings, located in Warwickshire, England. They are made from plaster of Paris and come in white, silver, and copper as well as an iconic Aladdin Sane face paint version. The price for the single-color version is £40; the Aladdin Sane one is £60 (shipping in the U.K. is £6.50; international £30).
 

 

 
More looks at the Bowie masks after the jump…....
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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09.20.2017
12:52 pm
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Stuck in the Mudd! Four decades later, the doorman of the wildest nightclub in NYC lets you in!
09.19.2017
02:47 pm
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Here’s a drink ticket—enjoy the post!

“If you’ve been standing here for more than ten minutes you’re not coming in” announces Richard Boch in a stern but cute, almost teenaged stoner way. Don’t get me wrong, he means it. This was how “normal people” were greeted much of the time at the door of the Mudd Club (and many other ultra hip clubs in New York City at the time). This made getting in a huge badge of honor and being turned away a major disgrace. Imagine riding on THAT possibility just to pay to go into a nightclub? An anonymous “sniper” refused entrance once even hit Boch with a dead pigeon from a few yards away and sped off in a taxi cab!

Back then these normal people showing up at Manhattan nightclubs were mostly referred to as the “bridge and tunnel” crowd (Queens, Jersey, Brooklyn) a term not heard much these days, but once heard hundreds of times every night in NYC clubs. Some were 9-5ers, some wealthy disco-types expecting to stroll in on the doorman’s view of their Rolex or hot girlfriend. These regular folks were basically told to cool their heels or fuck off while an 18-year-old kid like me dressed to the hilt in what may have looked to them like idiotic rags, parted the seas and strolled in like I was Mick Jagger. This was not Studio 54 as they would find out soon enough. What it was, though, was a trip into known and unknown galaxies of hip culture throughout history, like a living, breathing museum/funhouse/drug den/concert hall/discotheque, mixed with nitroglycerine and LSD and thrown into a blender to create the unknown. The future. THE NOW!

The Mudd Club was almost literally unbelievable. Inmates running the asylum on an outer space pirate ship. This vessel was founded, funded and schemed by Steve Mass, who was on every side of the street all at once. When I first met Steve, he was roommates with Brian Eno and got that input, but he STILL drove me out to my parents’ apartment in Queens to help pull my record collection from under my bed, my parents shrugging their shoulders until reading about us a year later in the New York Times, thereby making it “Okay.” But really he was always very curious, constantly grilling me, getting inside my head. I once told him I thought he should round off the corners and ceiling of the Mudd Club like a giant cave and have live bats flying around the club. He actually considered it! He did this with certain other kids, rock stars, Warhol superstars, models, designers, Hollywood royalty, junkies, freaks and lord knows who else. We all had a bit of our heart and soul in that place.
 
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Mudd Club owner Steve Mass. Photo by Kate Simon

The above mentioned Richard Boch is the author of a incredibly well-written new book from Feral House titled The Mudd Club. Boch was the main doorman there and the book is his autobiography or a coming of age story told in pretty much the aftermath of the glorious Sixties during the truly, in retrospect, harsh, dark, real version of what was hoped for, but lost in that previous decade. Richard’s story is all of our stories, those of us lucky (or unlucky) enough to have grown up or wound up in New York City’s grimy punk/art/drugged musical and historical mish-mosh. It was the Velvet Underground’s songs come to life after waiting a decade for the world to catch up to it, or crumble to its level.
 
To quote Richard:

I’ve always referred to the Mudd Club as the scene of the crime, always meant as a term of endearment. It was the night that never ended: the day before never happened and the day after, a long way off. There was nothing else like it and I wound up right in the middle. I thought I could handle it and for a while, I did.

 
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Author Richard Boch. Photo by Alan Kleinberg
 
Boch was given marching orders orders early on to avoid bloated seventies superstars and the limo crowd. On one of his first nights of work he was faced with a huge, loud, and very sweaty Meatloaf. “Definitely not something I wanted to get close to, physically or musically,” Boch says, and ignored him. My first ever DJ gig was early on at the Mudd Club and I was told told by Steve Mass to do things like play Alvin and The Chipmunks records when it got a bit crowded, to “make everyone uncomfortable,” including myself. Of course I had the record. I also gouged a 45 with scissors insuring the record would skip horribly and then pretend that it wasn’t happening. Just long enough to get the asylum to freak out a little bit.

Later this stuff went out the window but it was quite a formative experience. Humor filtered through even to the most deadly serious moments there. The Mudd Club was a place where twenty people could literally have had twenty different experiences on the same night during the same hour as there was just so much happening on different mental/pharmaceutical levels and different floor levels. Everywhere you turned there was someone amazing. From the way I had grown up, seeing Andy Warhol, John Waters, David Bowie and the Ramones within a twenty minute span was “my” Studio 54. Watching Screamin’ Jay Hawkins while standing next to Jean-Michel Basquiat, seeing the Soft Boys, girl groups like the Angels and the Crystals, Frank Zappa, Bauhaus, Nico, the Dead Boys, Captain Beefheart, John Cale, a Radley Metzger film presented by Sleazoid Express or an impromptu freakout by Warhol Superstar Jackie Curtis, well this was my dream come to life!

My dream hasn’t changed in 40 years. I’m still in awe that it happened. And in the middle of all that I was allowed to put on my own demented conceptual events with friends (“The Puberty Ball,” etc.) and be a regular DJ. The people I came to know in the punk world who wanted more found it at the Mudd Club. Our mad obsession with the Sixties, especially the Warhol/New York sixties, informed much of what we did, and at the same time the Warhol Factory itself became more corporate. The Superstars were by then getting older and pushed out, but they were looking for more themselves, and they were looking to us to inform them, making for some extremely insane morality and immorality plays coming to life before our eyes. Mudd had the pull of what the press called “downtown,” and for the downtown types, well our voices were about to be heard loud and clear.
 
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David Bowie and Dee Dee Ramone. Photo by Bobby Grossman
 
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Howie Pyro deejaying at Mudd

Richard Boch understood all this, and was also an artist himself so he knew who everyone in the art world was, as well as all the new punk stars and celebutantes, no wavers, new wavers, culture vulture gods and the ones who would become gods themselves in a year or so. In the book he talks about being nervous about starting working there but man, he was the one for the job. In the pages of The Mudd Club, Boch’s quite candid about everything you’d want to know (gossip but not mean gossip: sex, drugs, more drugs, and getting home at ten AM, having done every drug and a half dozen people along the way—normal stuff like that). It reads in one, two, or three page sections, my favorite kind of book. You can put it down in ten-minute intervals or read it in any order you want, IF you can put it down at all. I have literally read certain sections backwards for 40-50 pages while looking for something and didn’t really notice. It made me laugh out loud, and it brought tears to my eyes. It’s kind of like “Please Kill Me, the Day After,” though it’s not an oral history as such, as it is written from Richard Boch’s point of view, but it has the same immediate anecdotal feel.
 
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‘TV Party’ at Mudd. Photo by Bob Gruen
 
The club’s benevolent benefactor, Steve Mass, was responsible for making this incredible witches brew keep bubbling and kept the happenings happening. He was willing to do anything, just for the sake of doing it. Steve originally owned an ambulance service. For my 19th birthday they had a huge party for me on the second floor of the Mudd Club. Since Steve had medical connections, and since we were ALL junkies (well, a good 85% of us were), he furnished a massive cake with dozens of syringes with the plungers & needles removed so they could put the candles in the open syringes. This of course turned into a massive cake fight with the participants looking like the Little Rascals (with pinned eyes). Steve was always down for this sorta stuff. As for the main floor, the bands, writers and performers that I saw in a single month’s time was staggering! More than some people see in a lifetime.
 
From the book:

January 1979. The Cramps freaked out The Mudd Club with a loud Psychobilly grind that included such hits as “Human Fly” and “Surfin’ Bird.” A few months later, the “big names” started to appear…

He goes on to say:

The legendary Sam and Dave got onstage a few weekends later, and it was the first time on my watch that I got to see the real deal. By late summer, Talking Heads took the stage while Marianne Faithful, X, Lene Lovich, and the Brides of Funkenstein waited in the wings.

There were so many great performances: Scheduled, impromptu, logical and out of left field. The locals and the regulars were the staple and the stable and performed as part of the White Street experience. They included everyone you could imagine and some you never could. John Cale, Chris Spedding, Judy Nylon and Nico, John Lurie and Philip Glass were just a few. Writers and poets such as William S. Burroughs, Max Blagg, Cookie Mueller, and “Teenage Jesus” Lydia Lunch all wound up on the Mudd Club stage. The talent pool was so deep and occasionally dark that even Hollywood Babylon‘s Luciferian auteur Kenneth Anger got Involved.

Steve’s willingness and generosity along with his guarded enthusiasm offered support to a local community of artists, musicians, and filmmakers. Together with Diego (Cortez)’ and Anya (Phillip’s) short-lived but “dominating” spirit, the Mudd Club became an instant happening, a free-for-all with No Wave orchestration and very few rules.

Diego described the Mudd Club as “a container, a vessel, but certainly not the only one in town.” What made the place unique was its blank-canvas emptiness. When the space filled up, IT happened and everyone wanted to be a part. A living, breathing work of art, it was beautiful and way off center, a slice of golden time.

I was lucky, and soaked it all in.

 
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Nico playing her wheezing harmonium. Photo by Ebet Roberts

All of us who got to be there were lucky. This was a timeless world of it’s own. A world that could be compared to any and all magical artistic movements, scenes or spaces. Dada. Warhol’s Factory, the Beats in NY and SF, Surrealism, etc.—times, places, people all endlessly written about as there’s just so much to say. Everyone involved had a unique experience, true to themselves. This wasn’t just a nightclub, it was so much more. It almost seemed like a private place where, on the best nights, people’s lives and fantasies were put on display and the public was allowed to watch. The public who just came to do coke and dance (as we all did) but who accidentally got touched by a bizarre and wonderful world that lived in the shadows of the city then, usually just brushing against them like a ghost in the night. Whether they even noticed or not, well, who cares?

This first book on the subject (I guarantee it will not be the last) is Richard Boch’s own experience, peppered with those of us who he interviewed for the reminders. This book is about his eyes opening, his chain-wielding power stance, his blowjobs, his drinks, his drugs, all of which are plentiful. It includes a little of most of us, the people we loved, the ones we lost, the games we played, and the love we shared of each other and our mutual history. Still though, there are a million stories in the Mudd’s microcosm of the naked city, this is just one of them.

And what a glorious place to start: right at the front door.
 
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The trailer for the book
 
More Mudd Club after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Howie Pyro
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09.19.2017
02:47 pm
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