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‘Miles Davis bores us’: Miles gets knighted in France, 1991
06:50 am


Miles Davis
Legion of Honor

On July 16, 1991, just two short months before his death, iconic/iconoclastic jazz trumpet legend Miles Davis was honored with knighthood in France’s Legion of Honor, one of the highest cultural honors bestowed by that nation. From a New York Times wire service article:

Jack Land, French culture minister, described Davis as “the Picasso of jazz.”

“With Miles Davis, you are in constant musical adventure,” Lang said. “He has been able to cross all the eras while staying eternally avant-garde.”

Davis, 65, has recently given several concerts in France, which have not been well received. The headline on an article in Libération, a left-of-center national daily, read: “Miles Davis Bores Us.”


It’s tempting to write that kind of dismissal off as French radicals being, well, French (Libération was founded by Jean-Paul Sartre, so it can hardly get any more radical or any more French in this particular instance) but by that time, Davis’ output was basically slick pop like Tutu, and his close-but-no-cigar attempt to catch up to acid jazz on the posthumously-released Doo-Bop. Trombonist and Village Voice jazz writer Mike Zwerin, who forever cemented his untouchable credibility by playing on Davis’ Birth of the Cool, wrote in an article in the International Herald Tribune the following day:

This summer he blanketed Europe under kliegs, playing not only a bass-heavy backbeat but also his hits of yesteryear (“Boplicity,” “Sketches of Spain”) and leading an all-star assortment of ex-employees (Jackie McLean, Herbie Hancock). For at least a decade he has refused to look back, and I cannot help but wonder if this unexpected flurry of eclectic activity at age 65 is some sort of last roundup.

His current working sextet has been playing pretty much the same set and solos night after night, including Michael Jackson’s tired “Human Nature,” which has become his “Hello Dolly.” The band has lacked creative energy since freethinkers like Al Foster and John Scofield left in the ‘80s. No longer leading the way in the ‘90s, he is getting by on his (considerable) charisma, which is holding up better than his boredom-detector. When the French minister of culture, Jack Lang, made Miles Dewey Davis a knight of the Legion of Honor on Tuesday, it seemed somehow like final punctuation.

The article’s complete text is here. It’s excellent, very personal, and given how short a time Davis had to live, it serves accidentally as a fine eulogy.

Enjoy this brilliant footage of Davis in 1970, with Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, and Jack DeJohnette, among others, at the Tanglewood Festival, performing “Bitches Brew.”

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Hear the 1978 sampling record championed by John Peel, Throbbing Gristle and Julian Cope

The second release on the tiny English label Waldo’s Records was a 45 credited to one “Nigel Simpkins.” The three songs on X. ENC. (1978), Simpkins’ only record, organized alien found-sound collages around a single, insistent drum loop. In the single’s fold-out liner notes, beneath numerous shots of the pseudonymous musician with his face obscured, a note from Waldo himself alluded darkly to the mystery man’s recent troubles in the music biz: “Nigel,” whoever he was, was forced to record incognito “to avoid 3 years of lawyer trouble he’d just left behind him, after leaving his previous band.”

Waldo was goofing. As it turned out, the man behind the shades was Martin “Cally” Callomon, a member of The Bears (see Waldo’s first release) and the Tea Set (see Waldo’s third release), who would soon manage the mighty Julian Cope and, later, the estate of Nick Drake. Cope remembers the impact of the Nigel Simpkins 45 in his second memoir, Repossessed:

[...] Cally Callomon had a punk pedigree, an experimental pedigree, a Krautrock pedigree, the lot. He knew his music because he had lived it. For fuck’s sake—this man was Nigel Simpkins.

Nigel Simpkins had released the first ever sampling record in 1978, to tremendous applause from the underground scene. ‘Time’s Encounter’ [the A-side of X. ENC.] had taken a drum demonstration record and added snippets of every hip record in the world to its Krautrock stew. Neu! Can, Stockhausen, SAHB, Amon Duul 2, Meryl Fankauser [sic], Dr. Z, Soeur Sourire, Metal Urbain, Doctors of Madness, Runaways, Residents, George Harrison’s Wonderwall Music, Pierre Henry, Charles Ives, Dashiell Hedayat’s Obsolete, Hymie Kangaroo Downstein’s classic Australian glam album Forgotten Starboy, it was all on that record, even Godley & Cream’s [sic] Consequences and the T. Dream freakout from Sci-Finance, where Lulu finds the guy’s head on the hot beach. The sleeve featured “Nigel” as a guy with Madcap Laughs-period Syd Barrett hair, wearing seven pairs of shades at the same time—it was an image that Robyn Hitchcock would copy a year or so later.

‘Time’s Encounter’ had sold truckloads and never been off the John Peel show, though Cally treated it as an inspired joke at best. What? Throbbing Gristle had cited it as one of the most forward-looking 45s of its time and everybody had run to cop some of its trip. Planks all, said Cally.

Admittedly, even after narrowing Cope’s list of sources down to those that actually existed, I can’t identify note one when I listen to X. ENC. However, I don’t listen to this 36-year-old disc to hear familiar samples—I listen to it because it resembles a crude field recording from a society that does not yet exist, and so sounds more futuristic to my ears than any EDM.

X. ENC. side A: “Times Encounter”

X. ENC. side B: “Scattered Strategies” and “Oblique References”

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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Tommy Ramone on The Replacements
12:17 pm


The Replacements
Tommy Ramone

Clint Weiler at the MVD Entertainment Group was kind enough to alert me this morning to this complete and unedited interview with the late Tommy Ramone (Tommy Erdelyi) that was conducted for Gorman Bechard‘s documentary Color Me Obsessed: A Film About The Replacements in 2011.

Erdelyi produced Tim, The Replacements major label debut for Sire Records in 1985. The Ramones drummer, the last surviving member of the original group died at his home in Ridgewood, Queens last week following treatment for cancer of the bile duct.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Great 1979 footage of Patti Smith at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ now online
10:41 am


Patti Smith

A lovely soul at Music Vault (a beautifully curated YouTube channel) has uploaded some amazing footage of Patti Smith from a 1979 show at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic. The Jersey girl could not have been met with a more enthusiastic home turf crowd, and it’s a really great performance. Smith is at home onstage, sweet and familiar—at one point she introduces a song by Lenny Kaye to a cheering crowd by saying, “Oh thank you; I have to go to the bathroom.”

She’s going a bit hoarse throughout, but it only seems to add to the growl of an animal performance. This was just after the release of Easter, her most commercially successful album, but the show has some great material from my fave, Horses. Check out the sexy rendition of “Redondo Beach,” which gets the sapphic intro, “Redondo… Beach… is the beach… where…women… love other… women.” She also absolutely destroys “Revenge,” and does a few mournful bars of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”

Check out the rest of the show on their Patti Smith channel.

More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Legendary jazz bassist Charlie Haden plays with Minutemen, 1984
08:36 am


Charlie Haden

Revered jazz bass player Charlie Haden died on Friday at the age of 76. One of the hallmarks of his illustrious career (in which he won four Grammys) was his eclecticism, his ability to play with a wide variety of artists, a list that included musicians as disparate as Keith Jarrett, Ornette Coleman, Ginger Baker and Norah Jones. In the early 1980s, through his children’s listening habits, Haden became interested in the burgeoning American rock scene, including Meat Puppets and Black Flag.

In 1984 he booked seminal San Pedro punk pioneers Minutemen as an opening act at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. During the set he came out and joined the trio for “Little Man With a Gun in His Hand” from their hastily recorded EP Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat.
Minutemen and Charlie Haden
The above picture comes from Mike Watt’s website; Watt’s caption reads, “santa monica, ca - 1984 / (from left) d. boon, charlie haden and mike watt (behind) / at mc cabes’. charlie jammed w/us in the tune ‘little man w/a gun in his hand.’”

This video comes from the never-released SST video Corndogs!, the only copy of which was stolen out of a van before it could be sent to the duplication plant—bootlegs of various bits have floated around for decades now. The quality of the video is pretty shitty, especially in visual terms, but even though the sound isn’t great, the overall effect still makes for pleasurable listening to my ears.

Here is a longer version of the same video, front-loaded with three other songs (“Two Beads At The End,” “Nothing Indeed,” “No Exchange”)—“Little Man With a Gun in His Hand” comes at the end.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Original DJ playlists from Manchester’s Haçienda glory days
06:31 am


Factory Records

Maybe you were born in the wrong decade or country to be part of the legendary Haçienda dance club (1982-1997) and its attendant “Madchester” scene in Manchester, England in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Our own Paul Gallagher described the much-missed club, owned by Factory Records and New Order, as the ”night club where you could see Madonna one night and William Burroughs the next…The mix of who played there reads like an A & R man’s wet dream and included, New Order, The Happy Mondays, The Smiths, OMD, The Birthday Party, Husker Du, The Stone Roses, Oasis, James, Echo and The Bunnymen, A Certain Ratio, and Divine, amongst others. Mike Pickering, Graeme Park and Dave Haslam were host DJ’s, and in the late 1980s and 1990s, the club was the catalyst for Madchester - the music and drug fueled Second Summer of Love.” 

Original photos and videos of that time period are somewhat rare and, well, hazy. Anyone who was even close to a regular there can be counted on for an arsenal of entertaining war stories. However, now original playlists from Hacienda DJ’s like Graeme Park, Daniele Davoli, Lil Louis, and Sasha are available at Mixcloud and, for now, Old Skool Raver’s YouTube Channel.

More DJ playlists from the legendary Haçienda after the jump…

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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Classic album covers minus deceased band members

Over the weekend, when the sad news spread about the passing of Tommy Ramone, a really touching image circulated online, showing the Ramones debut LP, then the same cover with Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee Photoshopped out, and then, at last, Tommy removed as well. Dangerous Minds even shared it on our Facebook page.

The middle image, of Tommy standing alone in front of that iconic brick wall, seems to have come from a Tumblr called “Live! (I See Dead People),” which is devoted entirely to skillfully removing deceased musicians from their LP covers—sort of like “Garfield Minus Garfield,” but with a more serious intent. The subjects range from cult figures like Nick Drake to canonical rock stars like Nirvana and The Doors, and the results are often quite poignant. The blog hasn’t been updated in almost three years, so it seems unlikely the artists behind this project, Jean-Marie Delbes and Hatim El Hihi, will re-do that Ramones cover. Indeed, their Morrison Hotel still features Ray Manzarek, who passed on a little over a year ago.

New York Dolls, s/t

Ol Dirty Bastard, Return to the 36 Chambers

Nick Drake, Bryter Layter

The Who, Odds & Sods

Johnny Thunders, So Alone

George Harrison, All Things Must Pass

Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit

Jeff Buckley, Grace

The Doors, Morrison Hotel

John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Double Fantasy

The Clash, s/t

Elvis Presley, s/t

Hat-tip to Derf for this find.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Trailer for Nick Cave in ‘20,000 Days on Earth’

20,000 Days on Earth is a semi-fictional “day in the life” documentary about Nick Cave directed by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard. The film combines mostly unscripted scenarios depicting Cave’s creative process, Cave interacting with songwriting partner Warren Ellis, Kylie Minogue and actor Ray Winstone, watching Scarface with his twin teenage sons and some in concert performance footage from a show at the Sydney Opera House. Cave’s voice-overs were scripted and each shot was planned out like it would be in a Hollywood film.

The film is currently on a sort of road show put together by Alamo Drafthouse Films that seems to bump into the current Bad Seeds American tour at several select junctures. Remaining screening dates here. The UK premiere of 20,000 Days on Earth at London’s Barbican will take place on September 17th and be broadcast live to 150 participating movie theaters.

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Serge Gainsbourg’s reggae version of ‘La Marseillaise’ that earned him death threats
08:19 am


Serge Gainsbourg

Serge Gainsbourg offended many of his patriotic countrymen in 1979 when he rewrote the French national anthem “La Marseillaise” as a reggae number, “Aux armes et caetera.” The song was the title track from his 13th album, recorded in Kingston, Jamaica, giving him the distinction of being only the second (to Mick Jagger, who dueted with Peter Tosh) major white European performer to record there. Serge did not anticipate the shitstorm that followed the TV premiere of his song, including death threats from nationalists and threats from soldiers to kick his ass if he performed the song in public. The French embassy’s website still has a reference to this controversy:

The French national anthem has had a turbulent past. Every now and then, there is an outcry to have it banned, or at least updated; it has been a long time since the Revolution was endangered by bordering European monarchs. Some people are offended during national ceremonies, when they hear such vengeful verses as “these ferocious soldiers who slaughter our sons and wives” or demanding “that impure blood flow in our fields.” But the majority of French people do not wish to change so much as a comma in their national anthem. Didn’t the members of the Resistance in WWII sing it as a final and supreme challenge to Nazi-occupying forces as they fell beneath the bullets of the firing squad?

The extent of the attachment of the French to their national anthem was revealed in the 1970s, when President Giscard d’Estaing attempted to impose “his” Marseillaise by having it played to a slower tempo in order to give it greater solemnity. The President’s initiative raised a storm of protest and Hector Berlioz’s orchestration was maintained. Late controversial singer and composer Serge Gainsbourg tried to rewrite the Marseillaise his own way in 1979 by having the national anthem played by a reggae band. The reception was less than stellar: A group of legionnaires threatened to give him a hard time if he performed his new version in public. Gainsbourg did sing the Marseillaise, but a cappella. One cannot tamper with that which is sacred!


A little gallows humor on the cover of Hara Kiri magazine
When a group of paratroopers caused a 1980 concert in Strasbourg (where “La Marseillaise” was written) to be shut down, Gainsbourg defiantly sang an a capella traditional version instead of “Aux armes et caetera” and was joined by the paratroopers! A year later in a defiant but classy move he bought an original manuscript of the anthem’s lyrics by Rouget de Lisle at an auction in France. Gainsbourg then proved to the public that his version—and the controversial “et caetera” of the title—was in fact, more faithful to the original than any other version: de Lisle, in fact, did not write out repeated verses by hand, but merely wrote “et caetera, et caetera, et caetera”!

Serge Gainsbourg, “Aux armes et caetera”:

Serge Gainsbourg sings the original “La Marseillaise” to calm everyone down, and at 2:09 the auction for the lyrics’ manuscript begins:

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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Mute Records drops The Acid’s ‘Liminal’
03:06 pm


The Acid

Coming out next week on Mute Records in North America will be Liminal, the moody, haunting debut album by The Acid (it’s already out in the UK/Europe via the Infectious Music label.)

The difficult to describe trio create a genre-less sound consisting of elements drawn from EDM, noises from nature and city life, there are shimmering guitar layers, stretched out drones and delicate heartbeat-like electronic pulses. The group consists of Steve Nalepa, an LA-based musician/producer and professor of musicology (who once lost an awful lot of money on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?); Grammy-nominated DJ and producer Adam Freeland (”We Want Your Soul”) and LA-based Aussie artist/producer Ry X (Berlin EP, Howling) who sings and also co-directs their videos.

Because of the globe-trotting nature of their careers, they recorded song sketches on iPhones while collaborating on the album. The Acid themselves weren’t even sure exactly what they were coming up with. As vocalist Ry tells it:

“It’s like painting before you know what you are painting. You’re stuck in the process before you’ve got an idea of what you’re making. The beauty of that is complete freedom.”

Later this summer The Acid will be performing at both the Longitude and Latitude festivals. In fact, they’re going to be touring worldwide pretty much through November. Liminal comes out in North America on July 14.

The video for “Fame” was co-directed by Ry X and The Directors Bureau’s Dugan O’Neal. The video features dancers/choreographers WIFE.


The gorgeous “Basic Instinct” as heard on the season premiere last week of Under the Dome.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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