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Legendary soul label Malaco Records decimated by tornado
04.25.2011
02:20 pm

Topics:
Current Events
History
Music

Tags:
Malaco Records

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Wolf Stephenson stands in what is left of the legendary Malaco Records.

Severe storms and a series of tornadoes has plagued the Midwest and Southern states throughout April. One of the casualties of the violent weather is the legendary blues and soul label Malaco Records in Jackson, Mississippi. It was crushed by a tornado on April 15.

You can read about Malaco Records, “The Last Soul Company,” and its formidable history at their website.

Malaco Records’ flamingo-pink main office was one of the few buildings in the area when it opened in 1967 on the west end of Jackson’s Northside Drive.

“We were practically out in the country,” said Wolf Stephenson, vice president and chief engineer. “I can remember all of us sitting out in the parking lot in the wee hours of the morning, eating watermelon and listening full blast to the song mixes we were working on at the time. We wanted to see how they sounded away from the speakers.”

Stephenson, 67, managed to chuckle at the memory Monday afternoon, a few seconds of escape from the grim reality brought on by Friday’s tornado that ravaged parts of Clinton and northwest Jackson, injuring seven and causing major damage to numerous homes and businesses.

The twister didn’t spare Malaco, which has produced its share of music history. It destroyed the accounting building and shipping warehouse. The main building, which housed executive offices and the legendary recording studio, was pummeled.

There were some bits of good news: Approximately 20 employees who were at work when the storm struck escaped injury. Couch and Stephenson said they plan to rebuild. And Malaco’s thousands of precious master tapes weathered the storm in a vault-type building made of concrete blocks and supported by reinforced steel.

The recording studio was dark and dank Monday. A grand piano and a Hammond B3 organ were barely visible, buried in debris. The sound of music was replaced by the flapping of a blue tarp, serving as a temporary roof. Pieces of the wood tile floor were scattered about. Amplifiers and microphones looked soulless and lonely.

Hits were born in this room. Among them: Jean Knight’s 1971 No. 1 single, Mr. Big Stuff; King Floyd’s Groove Me, which went to No. 1 on the R&B chart; and Dorothy Moore’s 1976 classic, Misty Blue. Paul Simon recorded Learn How to Fall here. It appeared on his 1973 album There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, which earned two Grammy nominations.”

Here’s a link to a Malaco Records video mix courtesy of The CW Austin. Click here and scroll down the page for the mix.

The Malaco Records story aired on WAPT in Jackson, Mississippi in 1999.
 

 
Thanks, Mike Webber

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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The mysterious J. Bastos and his one hit wonder ‘Loop Di Love’

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Here’s the first of a series of pieces I’ll be doing on one-hit wonders. While my intent is to be as informative as possible, I’m starting off with an artist that I can find very little information on, the mysterious J. Bastos.

“Loop di Love” was recorded in 1969 by J. Bastos (Juan Bastos) and became a big hit in Holland and Germany in 1971. It kicks off with one of the more bizarre and memorable verses in pop history and goes on to tell the story of a young man’s chance encounter with a prostitute.

I saw you walking down the street
Love di loop di love
Your hair was hanging down to knees
Love di loop di love
Your waist was waving like a ship
Love di loop di love
The way you look made me sick
Love di loop di love

The only biographical information I can find on J. Bastos is that he lived somewhere in northern Germany and the song was recorded as a joke among drunken friends and became a fluke hit. And that info is from an alleged disgruntled former employee of Bastos who claims he was hellish to work for and fell into being a popstar totally by accident. It’s odd, considering the notoriety and popularity of “Loop di Love,” that so little is known of its creator. Anyone got any info on J. Bastos?

The tune is based on a Greek fishermen’s song “Darla Dirlada.”

A double dose of J. Bastos - a promo video shot in Amsterdam and a performance on German TV.

Cock-hopping at 1:27.
 

 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Ecstatic Stigmatic (1980) starring Exene’s sister Mirielle Cervenka

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Special for Easter, here’s a rarely seen document from the bowels of the New York No Wave scene: Ecstatic Stigmatic directed by Teenage Jesus and the Jerks member Gordon Stevenson and starring his wife Mirielle Cervenka (older sister of Exene). Both of whom would be dead within 2 years of the film’s completion, he of AIDS and she of a hit and run driver in Los Angeles. Also appearing is DNA’s Arto Lindsay. Despite the home made proto-goth silliness this is actually pretty relentlessly creepy and the music is fantastic. Definitely worth at least one viewing and/or skimming. Extra huge thanks to our own Marc Campbell for hunting down the best possible version, cleaning it up and uploading for your viewing displeasure. Probably NSFW.
 


Posted by Brad Laner | Discussion
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Max Matthews pioneer of computer music R.I.P.
04.24.2011
12:08 am

Topics:
Music
Science/Tech

Tags:
Max Matthews
computer music

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Max Matthews was a visionary genius who helped pioneer the use of computers as musical instruments. Mathews died on 21 April 2011 in San Francisco, California of complications from pneumonia. He was 84.

In the late 1950s Max Mathews created MUSIC, the first widely used music synthesis program while working in the Acoustic Research Group at Bell Telephone Laboratories. Over the next forty years at Bell Labs and then at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics at Stanford University, Mathews advanced and refined digital computer music synthesis.”

Matthews created the Radio Baton which is featured in the video below. His enthusiasm for his invention and love for the music he creates with it is inspiring. The video was shot in 2010 when Matthews was 83 years old. A marvelous human being.

A Radio Baton is an electronic instrument with two baton controllers and a receiving base called the antenna. In the end of each baton is a small radio transmitter. As the batons are moved over the receiving base, four antennas in the base are able to determine the batons’ location in three-dimensional space. The movement of the batons through space are converted into instructions determining how the music is to be synthesized.
The Radio Baton Conductor Model uses the model of an orchestra conductor controlling the musical tempo, dynamics and expression of the piece. The Conductor program puts the pitches and the durations of the notes in a score that the computer reads as a sequence of beats in the computer memory. The conductor can move the batons around with his two hands, controlling six variables, and assign these variables to whatever functions in the music are important at any instant of the music.
When asked if the radio baton was a successful instrument, Mathews answered, “I suspect actually it was too successful. It may have made music too easy to play. But my vision there, and the vision I think I got from John Chowning was that everyone could have his own orchestra and could interpret music according to his particular feelings about it. And that this might be a much more satisfying way than simply sitting and listening to a recording or simply listening to a concert in a concert hall.”

In the video, Matthews performs pieces by by Bach, Chopin, Beethoven and Appleton, demonstrating the artfulness of electronics.

Matthews once said that “a violin always sounds like a violin, but a computer is unlimited in terms of timbre it can make, so it can enrich music.” His mission was to learn, as he put it, “what the human brain and ear thinks is beautiful. What do we love about music? What about the acoustic sounds, rhythms and harmony do we love? When we find that out it will be easy to make music with a computer.” Enjoy Max Matthews making some music with a computer:
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Hazel Dickens, legendary bluegrass singer and social activist, has died
04.22.2011
11:39 pm

Topics:
Environment
Music
Politics

Tags:
Hazel Dickens

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Painting by Kirsten McCrea
 
Bluegrass singer and social activist Hazel Dickens has died at the age of 75.

Hazel Dickens made a difference. Born into a family of miners in Mercer County, West Virginia, Dickens was a fierce defender and advocate of the rights of women, miners, the poor and the oppressed. The songs she sang came up out of her own experience living in coal mining communities and later, when she moved to Baltimore and Washington,D.C., struggling to survive in urban environments that were strange and forbidding to a young woman raised in the mountain hollows of Appalachia.

Ms. Dickens grew up in dire poverty in West Virginia’s coal country and developed a raw, keening style of singing that was filled with the pain of her hardscrabble youth. She supported herself in day jobs for many years before she was heard on the soundtrack of the 1976 Oscar-winning documentary about coal mining, ”Harlan County, U.S.A.”

Her uncompromising songs about coal mining, such as “Black Lung” and “They Can’t Keep Us Down,” became anthems, and she was among the first to sing of the plight of women trying to get by in the working-class world. She was a key influence on such later singing stars as Emmylou Harris, Allison Krauss and the Judds.”

Dickens was the first woman to receive the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Merit Award.

This is an excerpt from the documentary Hazel Dickens: It’s Hard to Tell the Singer from the Song directed by Mimi Pickering. The songs in the clip are the powerful and moving “Mannington Mines” and “They’ll Never Keep Us Down.”
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Odd photoshopped vintage LP sleeves
04.22.2011
12:58 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Music

Tags:
records
photoshop
LPs
albums
Twisted Vintage

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These cleverly Photoshopped album covers are pretty funny. I had to do a double take because I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on… I think my favorite is “I Don’t Like Me Either.”

All images are from the devious and NSFW website Twisted Vintage.
 
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Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Gallery of defaced LP sleeves

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Seb Thompson is Publicist: A one-man disco express
04.22.2011
07:33 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
disco
electronica
indie
Publicist
Weird War
Trans Am

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Fans of modern indie rock might recognise the name Seb Thompson. Apart from being an incredible drummer and a production powerhouse, he is a founder member of Trans Am and also drums for Ian Svenonious’ excellent Weird War. He now has a new solo project called Publicist that does away with rock stylings and goes straight for the disco jugular.

Publicist is essentially a one man band, that features electronics programmed by Thompson, vocodered vocals, and live drumming. Though still a pretty new concern with only a couple of singles under the belt (including “Momma” featuring vocals from Svenonious, and last year’s Keep It Off The Record 12”) even at this early stage it looks and sounds great. This shouldn’t be a surprise to Trans Am or Weird War fans, as it’s obvious from those groups how talented Thompson is. For me it’s great to see him directly expressing the electronic dance elements audible in Trans Am.

There’s not much info floating about on Publicist so far, but you can see and hear more at his MySpace (*spit*). Publicist is making a live appearance tonight at Brooklyn’s Zebulon, and for an idea of how fun that will be watch this live clip: 
 
Publicist - “Make It Right” (live)
 

 
Publicist - “Hand To Mouth”
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
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Patti Smith: Queen of the pirates

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Patti Smith plays dress-up for a pirate-inspired photo shoot by Annie Liebovitz in the London studio where the latest Johnny Depp pirate movie is being filmed for Disney. The shoot took place last September.

In the video, Patti makes the connection between rock and rollers and pirates and manages to look like both.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Rare interview with Morrissey on The Smiths, politics, song-writing and his autobiography
04.21.2011
01:58 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Pop Culture
Morrissey
The Smiths

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Morrissey gave a very rare interview to John Wilson on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row yesterday, to promote the release of The Very Best Of Morrissey, on April 25th in the UK and May 3rd the US.

In the interview, Morrissey discussed the forthcoming album, the legacy of The Smiths, his work as a song-writer, his thoughts on British Prime Minster, David Cameron‘s disclosure that he was a “major Smiths fan”, and also had time to mention his, as yet, unpublished autobiography, which he has just finished writing and would like to see published as a Penguin Classic.
 

 

 
Previously on DM

The night The Smiths stole the show and changed music


British Prime Minister confronted in House of Commons over liking for The Smiths 


 
Bonus previously unreleased tracks from Morrissey after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Stunning film clips of the Sunset Strip in the mid-60’s

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I don’t know the exact provenance of these positively gorgeous stock film clips of the nearly-mythical Sunset Strip area in our beloved city that have been popping up in the last day or two via the Vintage Los Angeles FB group and Youtuber dantanasgirl. What an incredible treat, though. The building on the right in the first clip that bears the words Come to the Party would shortly become the Whisky a Go Go and further down the road Largo would become The Roxy. Certainly two of the more significant and beloved locations for my musical up-bringing! My Grandparent’s house was mere blocks from here, so these images really tweak some early childhood memories as well. Oh, internet….
 

 

 
More clips after the jump…

Posted by Brad Laner | Discussion
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