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Circus Magazine commercial from 1978
06.27.2012
03:13 pm

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Music
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Circus Magazine TV commercial from 1978.

“The toughest, timeliest, gutsiest magazine around.”

Circus Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Gerald Rothberg (seen in the commercial) stopped publication of the magazine in 2006 and sent the following soul-baring letter to its contributors:

It is with sadness and a deep sense of loss that I must inform you that I’ve experienced great financial loss, which includes Circus Magazine. Over the last year, I’ve tried my best to hold on to Circus Mag, selling all my personal possessions, including my home, pumping the money into the mag. And I’ve lost all. I’ve held off contacting people because of the shame and humiliation I’ve experienced. I’m broke. I feel like Humpty Dumpty who had a great fall.

A rather sad end to a magazine that during its heyday in the mid-1970s to mid-80s featured an editorial staff that consisted of some real rock critic heavyweights, including Lester Bangs, Nick Tosches, Paul Nelson, John Swenson, Jim Farber, Kurt Loder, David Fricke, and Fred Schruers.

Personally, Circus wasn’t a magazine I paid much attention to, it seemed geared to teenage boys and focused on bands heavy on metal and pomp-rock, but its punchy covers (designed by Milton Glazer) always added a splash of color between the racks of the more muted facades of Hit Parader, Creem and Rolling Stone. I later discovered, via my friend John Swenson, that Circus had a pretty dynamic record review section that had little to do with the rest of the editorial content of the magazine. It was there that many of the critics mentioned above were given free reign, under Swenson’s guidance, to write about records of their choosing. Perhaps now would be a good time to unearth some of those reviews for a book or Internet archive. In the meantime you can visit Running Away With Circus, a loving tribute to the magazine by some of writers.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The 10 Commandments of Bowieism
06.27.2012
02:51 pm

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Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Steve Martin reading a book on Bob Dylan circa 1970
06.27.2012
02:38 pm

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Books
Literature
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Just thought I’d share this great photo of Steve Martin—long before his hair turned gray—circa 1970. Martin had been a staff writer for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour which had been canceled by CBS the year before.

Source: Mr. Garcia at Flickr.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:

Steve Martin promo video for ‘A Wild And Crazy Guy,’ 1978

Steve Martin’s funny response to fan mail

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Spirit in the Sky’: You’ve known the song your entire life, here is the music video
06.27.2012
11:57 am

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Music
One-hit wonders

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Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” is one of the great greatest one-hit wonders of the rock era, selling over 2 million copies for Warner-Reprise Recorsds in 1969/1970. Although the song has been used in several TV commercials and Hollywood films—and made its composer quite rich, I’d imagine—most people know the song, but there is little cultural memory of the man who wrote it, sang it and played its proto glam-rock fuzz box-drenched guitar riff.

“Spirit in the Sky” has been used in “Rock Band 2” and in films like Forrest Gump, Evan Almighty, Saving Grace, Contact, Apollo 13, Remember the Titans, Oliver Stone’s W, Wayne’s World 2, The Longest Yard, Knocked Up and many others. On TV we’ve heard it in Big Love, House, Law & Order and My Name Is Earl and in ads for Gatorade, Nike and American Express. [Although the song will undoubtedly still be listened to (and licensed by Hollywood soundtrack supervisors) until the end of time, “Spirit in the Sky” was inexplicably put on the list of “questionable” songs after 9/11. (Huh?)]

Still, I have to confess, after loving that song for years and always feeling happy whenever I hear it, I had no idea what the guy who made it looked like or much about him. The mental image the song called up for me was of the Doctor and the Medics music video, so I searched online and found basically one music video that was made for the song, and it’s pretty cool, so then I read up on how this classic came about.

Greenbaum, who was, and is, a practicing Jew, was inspired to write his version of a gospel song by Porter Wagoner, although Greenbaum’s song was meant to be more about a gunslinger wanting to die with his boots on than the reference to a having “a friend in Jesus” might indicate

Greenbaum used a Fender Telecaster with a fuzz box built into the body to achieve the song’s unique guitar sound, but it was a guy named Russell DaShiell who was the lead guitarist for the session. DaShiell explained how he got that “beep beep beep” sound to Spirit Guitar:

“I actually played the lead guitar parts on Spirit, using a 61-62 SG Les Paul, a 68 Marshall Plexi 100w half stack and a home-made overdrive box in front of the Marshall. Regarding the ‘beep beeps’ as I call them, when the producer asked me to play some fills in between the verses, as a joke I said how about something spacey like this and I did the pickup switch/string bending thing. I saw him stand up in the control booth and he said “that’s it! let’s record that!” so we did. (There was no slide involved, just my fingers, and I used the bridge humbucker and the pickup switch). The fuzz part is Norman with a built-in overdrive circuit built into his Tele pickguard.”

“I’ve been asked a lot over the years how I did the ‘beep beep’ guitar parts on Spirit, so for any guitar players out there who would like to learn how, try the following: Using a 2-pickup Gibson, set the neck pickup volume to zero, bridge pickup volume to max, with the pickup switch in the middle position (with Gibson wiring this gives you silence in the middle position). Do a string bend, picking the B & E strings together with one hit, just ahead of the beat, then use the pickup switch to kick in the bridge pickup in triplets (6 per bar) as you let the B string bend down two frets.”

“I mainly used two positions on Spirit, which is in the key of A. For the low position, fret a stationary C note (8th fret) on the E string while bending the B string up to an A note for your starting-position, then pick the two strings together once while the guitar is silent and work the pickup switch as you let the A note bend downwards to a G. For the high position, do the same thing at the 15th fret holding a stationary high G note on the E string while bending down from E to D on the B string.”

“I must give credit to Jimi Hendrix as my inspiration for this technique (as well as for the double-string riffs I did at the beginning of the Spirit solo tail section). I saw him perform live in a small club in Madison, Wisconsin and loved the way he used his Strat pickup switch to create staccato feedback on songs like Voodoo Child. The difference is, on a Gibson you can start from silence and create the on/off effect, which worked well with the downward string bending thing I did on Spirit.”

Greenbaum’s psychedelic gospel music was finished with booming drums, hand claps and gospel singing trio the Stovall Sisters (who did their own version) layered atop it. “Spirit in the Sky” became the blueprint for the glam rock sound, especially the music of Gary Glitter and Alvin Stardust (who ripped it off shamelessly for “My Coo CaChoo” in 1974).

Norman Greenbaum is thought of as a one-hit wonder, but he actually had an earlier song of some notoriety to Dr. Demento fans: As a member of Dr. West’s Medicine Show and Junk Band, Greenbaum composed the alien invasion novelty record, “The Eggplant That Ate Chicago” in 1967. Now 69, you can still see Greenbaum from time to time on Vh1. His website is Spirit in the Sky.

Below, the one and only music video I could find on YouTube for the original version of “Spirit in the Sky.” The quality is slightly ropey, but it’s still totally watchable and the sound is great.
 

 
After the jump, a bonus clip of Pan’s People dancing to “Spirit in the Sky” on Top of the Pops in 1973

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Life’s patterns: An interview with Blixa Bargeld
06.26.2012
09:22 pm

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Art
Music

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Musician and poet Luke Rathborne spent an afternoon in March of this year with Blixa Bargeld discussing, among other things, Bargeld’s art show “Einschüsse” at the Galerie Hunchentoot in Berlin-Mitte, Germany. Lukas, a friend and follower of Dangerous Minds, was kind enough to provide us with this exclusive video interview with Bargeld.

Blixa is a word that is a hum in Berlin.

When I met up with Blixa he had a wisp in his hair.

I had been up the whole night.

A friend in Tokyo said Blixa was doing an art show here called, “Einschüsse”, meaning bullet holes, shots.. (or an ember that, “encases fossilized remains,” Blixa said.)

When I met Blixa it was at an old bar across the street.

I had flown from Paris to play at an abandoned subway station in Kreuzberg, staying with a girl in the top floor of a burnt out apartment building in East Berlin. The punks slept in the alcove of the stairs.

You can’t get rid of the punks in Berlin, everyone has tried.

In France, a punk with a dog is called, “punk-a-chien”. To be a, “punk-a-chien” is worse than just being a punk or just being a dog.

We set up in the hotel room and I felt like more like a dog than a punk. Then Blixa started to speak.” L. Rathborne

This is quite lovely, relaxed and free-flowing. Rathborne is clearly enthralled by his mentor and gives Bargeld plenty of room to expound on his art, music, influence and the nature of being Blixa.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Easy listening medley of Hawkwind, T-Rex and Alice Cooper by The James Last Orchestra, 1973
06.26.2012
08:12 pm

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I could hear this playing in the other side of the house on my wife’s computer. “It isn’t?”

Oh, but IT IS: Mr. Dante Fontana of Mod Cinema has posted this clip of fab German bandleader James Last and his Orchestra performing an indescribably great medley of Hawkwind’s “Silver Machine,” “Children Of The Revolution” by T-Rex and Alice Cooper’s anthem to juvenile delinquency, “Schools’ Out.”

How lucky are we that this clip exists in the world: The James fucking Last Orchestra playing a decidedly UN-IRONIC (but truly incredible) big band version of Hawkwind’s greatest hit in 1973??? I mean, for that alone, sign me up, but throw in T-Rex and Alice Cooper covers in this style, too? That’s a party. A voodoo party.

Dig the fashion-forward stripey shirt and tie combo on some of the band members. That look takes “power clashing” to a whole new level. Makes it into an art form.

This is heavenly and I think you’ll think so too!
 

 
Via Mod Cinema/WFMU

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Anger Me’: A documentary on Kenneth Anger
06.26.2012
07:02 pm

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Art
Movies
Music
Occult
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As a film, Anger Me is almost the antithesis of a Kenneth Anger film . It’s about as artful as an industrial training movie. But it does feature one of the great visionaries of cinema speaking to a camera for 70 minutes and for fans and admirers of Kenneth Anger, that is something to be grateful for. This is a talking head well-worth listening to.

Director Elio Gelmini clearly believes that Anger can carry the film on his own and given Anger’s fascinating history and storytelling gifts the film succeeds despite its threadbare production. The film would have greatly benefited from a more expansive approach. As Anger discusses his work, scenes from his films have been added to a blue screen background and the effect diminishes the evocative mystery of Anger’s imagery. You yearn to enter the mystical caverns of Anger’s world, but instead are left with a kind of retro MTV effect. Ironic, considering Anger hugely influenced the world of music videos, pointing a direction away from glossiness into something more magical and dreamlike. But putting aside my criticism of the film’s technique, I applaud Gelmini for shining a light on one of the most remarkable human beings to have had an impact on my life.

So here have it, Anger Me. For those unfamiliar with Kenneth Anger, this is a solid introduction. Watch it and then seek out his work on DVD. It’s mindblowing stuff.
 

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‘Voyage Of The Rock Aliens’: Pia Zadora’s stupendously goofy space odyssey
06.26.2012
06:34 pm

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Here’s something very special for fans and friends of Dangerous Minds: the ultra-fabulous, wildly synthetic and cute as a bug’s ear Pia Zadora in the stupendously entertaining sci-fi/musical Voyage Of The Rock Aliens.

This goofy flick contains more spandex, hairspray and lip gloss than Divine’s overnight bag. And it features the video mega-hit “When The Rain Begins to Fall”, in which Zadora and Jermaine Jackson emote like black and white Ethel Mermans while wearing outfits lifted from a discofied mashup of the Road Warrior and Saturday Night Fever.

Who could not love a movie that has the credit “Ruth Gordon as The Sheriff?”

Break out the bath salts and be prepared to eat your own face as you watch Voyage Of The Rock Aliens.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Why Photographers are Boycotting The Stone Roses
06.26.2012
05:44 pm

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Current Events
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Something has happened to The Stone Roses and it’s not good. Over the past week a battle has been taking place over who owns the rights of any professional photographs taken of the band during their forthcoming reunion concerts.

The original contract offered to photographers stated:

(For) the payment by us to you of the sum of £1 The group (to keep) all Rights in perpetuity throughout the world so as to enable us to exploit the Photographs and the Rights as we (and/or they) deem fit without further reference or payment to you. You agree to provide us with digital copies of any or all of the Photographs upon request.

Photographers and artists own the rights to their images unless they sign those rights away. The Roses wanted them to sign all future rights away for a lousy quid, or around a buck-fifty.

As acclaimed photographer Ian Tilton told Dangerous Minds, ‘This kind of contract maybe standard when a band pays for a dedicated professional photographer to shoot a performance, but not for invited Press Photographers.

‘A standard contract would always agree to credit the photographers name.

‘A photographer employed by a top band to take photos at a gig, to be used by the band for publicity purposes only would earn £350-£1000 to take the photos. If the band then want to use the photos in a book the payment would be £80 to £250 per picture. If they wanted to use it on a CD or DVD cover the fee would be an extra few hundred pounds. The Stone Roses were just willing to pay £1 for an ALL RIGHTS buyout. This is insulting exploitation at its worst. - sign the contract and give the Roses ALL RIGHTS or they won’t allow the photographer to take any pictures at the gigs.’

Outraged by The Stone Roses’ contract demands, Tilton organized a campaign via his Facebook page, for press photographers to boycott The Stone Roses tour. After a flurry of texts of emails, a new photo release form was issued on behalf of the band, which now included the following:

The license hereby granted to you to photograph the artist is limited to the above grant only and NO right to sell, license or reproduce the material for advertising or commercial purposes (e.g., for use as posters, calendars, T-shirts, biographies, etc.) either to be sold, to be distributed free or to be otherwise exploited in any manner whatsoever. Nor may any material arising from the said session be reproduced in any publication devoted exclusively or predominantly to the artist unless prior permission has been obtained from THE STONE ROSES and their management.

It would seem that The Stone Roses have become so greedy that they not only want to control their image, but want to exploit others’ work.

As Tilton explained to DM, the reason it is important for photographers to own copyright of their work is because:

‘Photographers employed by magazines get paid only around £40-£80 per shot. Most online magazines pay expenses only. If photographers sell their images on after this ‘first use’ (called syndicating via an agency) they can earn between £20 and £250 per image - and the agency takes 50% of this amount. So you see how important it is to be able to syndicate images after their first use. The better the photo - the more chance it will get used again and again in the future.’

In a statement posted on his FB page, Ian Tilton explained why he and other photographers are against signing this new contract:

‘No - not signing it as it stands. It gives away most of our legal rights to earn future money off our photos. I refuse to sign their contract. I refuse to be made to ask the Stone Roses if my photos can be published in books or used in exhibitions in the future. They should not have control over my ‘art’ - I am the creator and I will control who uses it. That is what the current British law says so why do they want to change it and control our photographs, and control our financial income, outside of the British laws.

They were going to spring the original ‘exploitation contract’ on us when we arrived at Heaton Park but we found out about it. Their new replacement contract is controlling, immoral and takes away our rights that have been hard-won by brave people over the past few decades.

We have the choice to carry on with the boycott and be empowered now and for the future or….we set a precedent to be controlled and disempowered by greedy people.

EACH OF YOU is individually responsible for your own future as photographers and the future of all working photographers YES YOU ARE.’

Ian has also sent the following letter to The Stone Roses Press and Publicity Agent, Murray Chalmers:

Letter to STONE ROSES Press/Publicity Agent - Murray Chalmers at 1pm on Tuesday:

Murray,

It gives away most of our legal rights to earn future money off our photos. I don’t want to sign a contract that means I will have to ask the Stone Roses if my photos can be published in books or used in exhibitions in the future. They should not have artistic control over my art - I am the creator and I will control who uses it. That is what the current British law says so why do the Roses want to change that and control our photographs, and control our financial income, outside of the British laws.

Most photographers who will be photographing them live at Heaton Park will only be earning between £40 and nothing for their efforts. They rely on being able to syndicate their images to earn extra monies to pay the rent and afford that expensive equipment needed to take great pictures. Surely having great photos of the band freely circulating this can only be good for the band.

They were going to spring the original ‘exploitation contract’ on us when we arrived at Heaton Park but we found out about it. Their new replacement contract is still controlling, immoral and takes away our rights and income that have been hard-won by brave people over the past few decades.

Please will the Roses open communication with us and share their thoughts and feelings. They too are artists so surely, there are no major differences between us.

I’m finding it hard to reconcile that this contract has come from the band I know and love. It is inconsistent with the characters of the individuals I worked with, respected and was friends with when they were on their rise.

They were exploited by record companies and managers so I hoped they would have empathy and understanding for us photographer/artists, borne out of their difficult past personal experiences.

I love the Roses and feel saddened by all this.

Ian Tilton

The Stone Roses, or those representing them, have got this wrong, and the sooner this error is corrected, then the better it is for the rights of photographers to earn a living from their work.

Check out Ian Titlon’s work here and here.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
ABBA Russian nesting doll set
06.26.2012
05:23 pm

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Amusing
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Yes, totally ridiculous, but I would still own ‘em!

I found a few sets on Amazon for $31.00.

And lastly, for a total mindwarp, ABBA’s “Money, Money, Money” played backwards…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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