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DEVO’s Jerry Casale interviews DEVO’s Gerald V. Casale
08.04.2017
09:46 am
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This is the best self-interview since David Byrne’s promotional interview for Stop Making Sense.

In this nineteen minute video, “Jerry” Casale plays the cynical straight interviewer of himself, “Gerald” Casale, bass player, vocalist, and spokesman for DEVO.

Gerald reveals to Jerry the secret behind the DEVO “energy domes” (erroneously referred to as “flower pots” by many spuds back in the day), the inspiration behind which was an art deco lighting fixture that hung from the ceiling in his grade school.

Gerald talks at length about the origins of DEVO at Kent State University, from the original concept creation with his friend Bob Lewis, to his meeting of Mark Mothersbaugh after seeing Mothersbaugh’s stickered artwork hanging in the halls of the school.

Gerald explains that the Kent State Massacre was the impetus for the creation of DEVO, conceptually and musically, as an experimental force and bulwark against the prevailing culture:

“After those killings at Kent State and the clampdown from the Nixon administration, you either had to go underground and stick to activism and possibly go to jail or be killed, or find a more creative and subversive way of reacting to the situation you found yourself in in the horrible culture.”

Gerald waxes nostalgic for the “democratic” early days of DEVO’s music when all of the members contributed to the minimalist “form follows function” vision of the band, but explains that the songwriting process went south when the technology they were using became “autocratic,” dictating the direction of the group. According to Casale, “Mark wanted it that way and I didn’t.”

DEVO’s biggest hit, “Whip It,” is also discussed, with Gerald revealing to Jerry that the basis for the song was Mark Mothersbaugh’s deconstruction of Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman,” adding a two beat space to the song’s main riff, with Casale’s lyrics being inspired by Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow.

Watch after the jump…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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08.04.2017
09:46 am
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Attention crate diggers: Next time you see a record called ‘Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog,’ BUY IT!
07.19.2017
03:12 pm
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One-hit-wonder Norma Tanega is known only for “Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog,” her soulful, folky quasi-novelty song of 1966 that reached #22 in the pop charts early that year. The whimsical song’s easy-going charm, catchy chorus and vocal harmonies are irresistible, but Tanega, who has recorded several albums worth of worthy material since, was never able to follow it up with another hit record.

Tanega was discovered while singing as a summer camp counselor in the Catskill Mountains and signed to a contact with famed songwriter/producer Bob Crewe (the Four Seasons, “Lady Marmalade,’ “Music to Watch Girls By,” the Barbarella soundtrack, etc), and his record label New Voice. “Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog” was her first single and in the wake of its success, she moved to England—at the encouragement of her girlfriend Dusty Springfield who she’d met on the set of Top of the Pops—for five years, recording an album for RCA and working as a professional songwriter. After returning to the United States, she became a percussionist, often playing ceramic instruments and taught art in Southern California. (I noticed several YouTube commenters mentioning that they’d been students of Tanega’s and writing fondly of her.)
 

 
The Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog album is pretty easy to find when you are trawling through the stacks at a used record store, usually for super cheap. The next time you see it, do yourself a favor and pick it up.
 

Performing “Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog” on (I think) ‘Top of the Pops.” Dig her cool Gibson SG Standard guitar.
 
More Norma Tanega after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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07.19.2017
03:12 pm
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Rock is Hell: Meet GOD, the teenaged Australian punk rockers and their awesome one-hit wonder
05.17.2017
12:22 pm
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The back cover of Melbourne-based punk band GOD’s 1987 single ‘My Pal.’
 
First things first. Yes, a band actually had the balls to name themselves GOD. Although historically they are not the only band to ever do so in the name of punk or rock and roll, they weren’t calling themselves the Godz or something like that, but GOD. The difference might be subtle, but it’s there.

Aside from their cheeky name, the Melbourne-based group GOD had a short but impactful history in the Australian music scene. Though they are generally characterized as a punk band, some musical historians credit GOD for one of the earliest cultivations of grungy sounding grooves that did not originate from the Pacific Northwest area back in the late 80s.

So who exactly were this GOD? Well, they were kids, teenagers quite literally, when they got their first taste of success. Vocalist/guitarist Joel Silbersher was only fifteen when he penned “My Pal” and bass player/guitarist Sean Greenway was the oldest member of the band at the ripe old age of seventeen. In fact when it came time for GOD to sign with Au Go Go Records in Melbourne the details of the contract were negotiated by their parents on their behalf. When the single hit the stores it even included Silbersher’s home address which was noted to be the address to send fan letters to the “GOD Army” (pictured at the top of this post.) That probably made things very weird, and also pretty great back when “My Pal” was the go-to song for punk youth in Australia back in 1987. Because who doesn’t want a legion of female groupies and fans camping out on your lawn when you’re just fifteen? The answer to that question is no one, because everyone does. End of story.

GOD’s first album, Rock is Hell would come out a year later in 1988 and for some strange reason did not include “My Pal.” What it does include are a bunch of kooky-titled songs like “Tommy the Toilet” (remember these are teenage boys we’re talking about), “Worm Sweat,” and “Rok Zombi.” Despite the juvenile naming conventions I just mentioned, Rock is Hell is actually a pretty great, super fuzzy listen. There is also pretty much no doubt that the boys from down under were channeling the emerging grunge sounds of Seattle and the PNW that ring clear in the songs posted below. Sadly, they would disband shortly before the release of their second and final record, 1989’s For Lovers Only which, while different sounding from their debut, really isn’t half bad either. I’ve included fantastic live footage of the band performing “My Pal” and a few other songs from both albums, as well as an adorable interview with GOD from 1988 where they talk about adjusting to their new-found fame in which vocalist Joel Silbersher is still wearing his braces. Awww
 

GOD!

See GOD performing “My Pal” live (and much more) after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.17.2017
12:22 pm
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Oral: The mysterious all-girl heavy metal band and their (maybe) connection to Lemmy Kilmister
03.08.2017
09:18 am
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The cover for ‘Oral Sex,’ the only album from Oral, 1985.
 
Oral is a strange, all-female band that somehow found their way into the NWOBHM when they got together (or were put together perhaps) in 1985. The group was comprised of three girls—Monica, allegedly a former Penthouse model on guitar, a fifteen-year-old girl named Bev on vocals, a chick named Candy on bass and another member named Dee who isn’t pictured on the album cover. Which is a little weird, right? The back of the album only complicates the Dee-situation as it features four images of the girls—the first of which includes Monica, Bev, and Candy, but no Dee, mean-mugging together behind an iron fence. Anyway, all this makes it seem pretty likely that Dee probably is/was a dude which would have wrecked the girls-only vibe of the band. Though I’m only speculating because nobody really knows much about the history of Oral.

Produced by Ralph Jezzard (the bass player for UK band Blood and Roses and the producer behind the E.M.F. earwig “Unbelievable” among other things) Oral Sex was Oral’s debut/swan song and was comprised of just six songs, a few of which were unsurprising allusions to oral sex such as “Love Pole,” “Pearl Necklace,” and “Head.” I mean, what else would you expect from an album called Oral Sex? And as the title of this post indicates, there is some belief out there that the one and only Lemmy Kilmister is responsible for teaching Monica how to play guitar. And before you start virtually shouting at me that Lemmy was a bass player—while you’d be correct—back when he was just starting out with The Rockin’ Vicars in 1965 he was an axeman.

So could Monica’s claim be true? I don’t know but I will tell you this—the first song on Oral Sex, “Head,” sure has all the calling cards of divine Motörhead intervention. And you know what else? Oral Sex (the album) isn’t half bad once you set aside any preconceived notions that the album cover put in your, ahem, head. They even do a pretty kick-ass cover of “Black Leather” originally written and performed by former Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones and Paul Cook who recorded the Lydon-free song during sessions for The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle (the song never made it onto the soundtrack).

More Oral after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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03.08.2017
09:18 am
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Deconstructing Positive K’s 1992 hip hop anthem ‘I Got a Man’
02.01.2017
10:57 am
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Bronx’s Darryl Gibson (better known as rapper Positive K) made the scene in 1989 with “I’m Not Havin’ It,” a duet with hip-hop’s pioneer feminist MC Lyte. The unique song detailed a man’s attempts to seduce a woman as she fended off his advances with hilarious comebacks. Three years later, Positive K would recreate this magic formula on his debut hit single “I Got a Man.” Due to a change in record labels, MC Lyte was not able to reprise her role on the song, which left Positive K to record the female parts himself by pitch-shifting his voice in the recording studio. This clever studio trick was extremely effective, catchy-as-hell, and the song peaked at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1993 making him one of hip hop’s first one-hit-wonders.
 
Thanks to simple, modern-day editing software, YouTube user Ryan McNeill has created the “De-Chipmunked Remix” of the song. As he puts it, “When the female parts are slowed to 80%, you hear that Positive K is, in fact, macking on himself the entire time.”
 

 
“I wanted to do something in rap that had never been seen before,” Positive K told the Village Voice in 2014, who carefully re-examined the song over 20 years later as a possible “example of street harassment.” After his debut album The Skills Dat Pay Da Bills failed to produce anymore hit singles, Positive re-recorded his song “Carhoppers” for the music video version as yet another duet with himself. While the Emotions sample driven remix was a pleasing and incredibly catchy tale of rejection, it failed to generate any of the attention of its prototypes.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Doug Jones
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02.01.2017
10:57 am
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The crazed death disco of Germany’s Warning, the scariest band you’ve never heard of
01.16.2017
10:30 am
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The early 80s was prime time for scary music. Blame it on Reagan and his itchy nuclear trigger finger, but in its darkest corners, rock n’ roll devolved from the freeballing hedonism of disco and the happy computer blips of new wave into the gnashing teeth and ripping claws of hardcore punk, industrial, death-rock and extreme metal. Bands like Black Flag, Hellhammer, Christian Death, Venom and Whitehouse were making records so aggressive, unhinged, or suicidally depressed that they sounded like the work of actual lunatics. But, you know, rock n’ roll is supposed to be edgy. Dance music, well, you’re just supposed to dance. But in 1982, a year that birthed Negasonic teenage warheads like Venom’s Black Metal, Walk Among Us by The Misfits, and the Birthday Party’s Junkyard, it was a mysterious synth-pop band from Germany who released perhaps the most unsettling album of the year.

It was right there in the title of the band, really: Warning. That basically says it all. The cover of their self-titled debut album is both campy and terrifying. Two black-caped, space-helmeted figures—half Black Sabbath’s Never Say Die pilot, half Darth Vader—descend an escalator, presumably to kill you when they reach the lower level. Amazingly, the music contained within is just as unnerving. A sort of unholy g(h)oulash of horror-prog, clanging disco-metal and woozy electro-pop, Warning is dance music made by people who have never danced in their entire lives. Forget new wave or even cold-wave, this was harrowing doom-wave, anchored by the alternately hilarious and soul-piercing croaks of frontfiend Ed Vanguard.
 
Ed Schlepper
 
Except that there was no “Ed Vanguard”...

It was actually the work of the positively jovial Edgar Schlepper, a turtleneck-wearing producer/songwriter known mostly for writing minor hits for minor pop singers and for “solo” records like 20 Disco Hits in Super Sound. Schlepper made happy, boring music for elevators and mall food courts, but along with his pal Hans Muller (AKA “Mike Yonder”) he created an inexplicable alter-ego so dark and disturbing that it hardly seems possible that this goofy asshole in the beige slacks could be responsible for it. Only Germans could come up with shit this wack. Warning’s crazed opener “Why Can the Bodies Fly” surged up the German pop charts, peaking at #11, despite the fact that it’s seven minutes long, has no hook, and is totally fucking crazy. It was like Daft Punk after a weeklong bath salts binge watching only Teutonic skat videos. It was also their only hit, but since when did Darth Vader care about the pop charts anyway?
 

 
A year later, Warning returned with Electric Eyes, a (very) slightly more accessible album, but it still sounded like two fleshy robots short-circuiting during the climax of Saturday Night Fever.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ken McIntyre
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01.16.2017
10:30 am
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Wham! Bam! The true history of Plastic Bertrand’s immortal 1977 Euro-punk anthem ‘Ça Plane Pour Moi’
11.03.2016
09:34 am
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“Wham! Bam! My cat ‘Splash’ rests on my bed. She’s swallowed her tongue while drinking all my whiskey.” That’s the nonsensical opening line to the 1977 radio hit “Ça plane pour moi” by Plastic Bertrand translated from French to English, however, the lyrics don’t seem to make any sense in either language. Widely considered a caricature of the punk era, the three-chord rocker “Ça plane pour moi” (which loosely translates as “This Life’s for Me”) became an anthem for a generation and remains a cult favorite to this day. However, over 30 years after its deranged pop insanity sold millions of copies around the world Bertrand finally admitted that he did not sing the vocals himself, nor indeed any of the vocals from the four acclaimed albums he released as Plastic Bertrand before vanishing from sight in 1982. So how’d this Belgian prankster pull a Milli Vanilli on the world and get away with it for so long?

In summer of ‘77, Belgian producer Lou Deprijck recorded “Ça plane pour moi” at the famous Morgan Studios in northwest London very quickly over the course of a single night. “Two hours in the studio followed by three hours in the pub next door,” Deprijck recounted. He sang the vocal track himself as a pastiche to the punk movement and an appeal to the pogo-pogo dancing punks he’d seen at nightclubs. Guitarist & engineer Mike Butcher remembers that to speed up the tempo, he did a little bit of tampering in the studio to recreate Johnny Rotten’s vocal style. “The song was recorded at a slow tempo and then accelerated afterward, that’s what gave it that particular sound.” John Valcke from the legendary Belgian pop rock group The Wallace Collection played bass and a local from the Belgian jazz and blues scene named Bob Dartsch played the drums. They were all pleased with the final product when it was complete, however, Lou Deprijck feared the song didn’t suit his particular style or persona.
 

 
A longtime friend of Lou’s, Eric Rie, knew a punk band Hubble Bubble whose 23-year-old drummer Roger Jouret fit the profile perfectly. Roger was fashionable and wore extravagant outfits that were tacky but picture perfect, to them it was as if he fell from the sky at the exact perfect moment in time. He sang terribly, however, most artists at the time were using playback during TV shows. Determined to get his song its due recognition, Lou Deprijck brainstormed a daring plan to form a partnership with Roger.  Roger Jouret was presented as the singer of the “Ça plane pour moi”, and thus Plastic Bertrand was born. “I went to London to buy him a jacket with zippers pierced with safety pins in Malcolm McLaren’s shop, the manager of the Sex Pistols” Deprijck recalls. “When I returned from vacation, three weeks after the album’s release, he was number one everywhere. Honestly, I never thought the song would trigger such a tidal wave. Looking back, I sometimes regret it.”

Keep reading after the jump…

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Posted by Doug Jones
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11.03.2016
09:34 am
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Meet Tatayet, the horrific Belgian puppet


 
Play this record if you’re having trouble sleeping at night. In the mid-1980’s Belgian puppeteer Michel Dejeneffe and his terrifying creation named Tatayet were an enormous sensation in Europe. The Tatayet Show was broadcast on RTBF (the public channel for the French-speaking part of Belgium) every Sunday evening and as result of their success, an entire discography of Tatayet LP’s and 45’s were released to widespread acclaim. The 1986 dance single “At the Graveyard” which received much radio airplay featured a memorable chorus that anybody could sing along to: “At the graveyard, stiff and ten feet underground. In a pine box, like potatoes, with a ton of earth on top of the pine box.”
 

 
More fun with Tatayet after the jump…

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Posted by Doug Jones
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10.11.2016
08:04 am
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Blonde on Blonde: That time two topless models released a disco cover version of ‘Whole Lotta Love’

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“Page Three” might not mean much to readers outside of the UK. It was a term used to describe the photographs of topless (sometimes naked) glamor models published on the third page of tabloid newspaper the Sun. It was first introduced by (who else?) Rupert Murdoch as a way to increase sales of his newly acquired but failing newspaper. The Sun was in decline having gone from the popular Daily Herald to a less successful rebrand as the Sun in 1964 before Murdoch bought it in 1968. Old Rupert thought sexy glamor models would bring more male readers to his paper. It did but Page Three wasn’t truly successful until editor Larry Lamb made them topless models. The Sun then started to sell by the millions. Lamb launched the first Page Three in November 1970. “I don’t think it’s immoral or indecent or anything,” said Rupert Murdoch later said of Page Three.

But show it to me in any other newspaper I own. Never in America, never in Australia. Never. Never. Never. It just would not be accepted.

Though it did increase sales and made several of the Page Three models rich and famous it was never quite fully accepted by everyone in the UK. Page Three was a source of great controversy and considerable feminist anger—leading to one famous campaign to have Page Three banned. Eventually the Sun agreed it was no longer suitable and the Page Three girls stopped appearing in the paper in 2015.
 
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Glamor model and former Page Three girl Jilly Johnson on the cover of ‘Hot Hits Volume 19.’
 
Being a Page Three girl was like being a Playboy Bunny—it was a means to achieving a better career. Among those many women who became famous from appearing topless in the Sun were Samantha Fox (who went onto become a pop star and actress and infamously co-hosted the Brit Awards with Mick Fleetwood), Debee Ashby (who had a fling with Tony Curtis—“He wanted company. It wasn’t just my boobs…”), Geri Halliwell (aka Ginger Spice of the Spice Girls), Penny Irving (who became an actress in Are You Being Served? and House of Whipcord), Melinda Messenger (now a TV host and celebrity), Jayne Middlemiss (TV host) and Jordan (aka Katie Price who’s now a multimillionaire TV star, celebrity and author).
 
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Glamor model and former Page Three girl Nina Carter on the cover of ‘Top of the Pops Volume 44.’
 
Nina Carter and Jilly Johnson were two of the early Page Three girls. Both were highly successful glamor models in their own right and were famous from their work on fashion shoots, magazines and album covers. Nina and Jilly were two of the best known glamor models working in Britain during the 1970s—both earning the nickname “The Body” long before Elle Macpherson—though they probably weren’t the first.

But wait—we’re not here to talk about Nina and Jilly’s long and successful modeling careers but rather about the time they formed a band in the late 1970s called Blonde on Blonde.
 
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Blonde on Blonde ‘Whole Lotta Love.’
 
Blonde on Blonde was a short-lived pop band that made little headway in the UK but was a big hit in Japan. “We have Japanese men coming up to is and begging us to let them be our slaves!” Nina told the Evening Times in 1978. Nina and Jilly were serious about their pop career but as Nina explained at the time:

Unfortunately we are having difficulty persuading the music business in this country to do the same. People tend to dismiss us a gimmick.

More from Blonde on Blonde after the jump….

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.07.2016
12:20 pm
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Gulf War kitsch: Some red-white-and-blue numbnuts reads his ‘Letter to Saddam Hussein,’ 1991


 
I’ve been waiting for this primo item of Desert Storm-abilia to turn up on YouTube for years, and Lord knows I have waited patiently; for as the Good Book reminds us, “the race is not to the swift” (Ecclesiastes 9:11), and some of these fuckers are anything but swift.

Back in ‘91, Jerry Martin (a/k/a Jerry Buckner) rode the tide of blood unleashed by the first Gulf War all the way to #71 on Billboard’s country chart. I’m still struggling to understand how this epistolary spoken word release qualified as a country song, but I’m going to bet it had something to do with the kinds of radio stations that played it and the obscure regions of our nation to which their signals penetrated. A cassingle issued in a plain gray sleeve, Martin’s “Letter to Saddam Hussein” had little in common with Jello Biafra’s contemporary Gulf War cassingle, “Die for Oil, Sucker,” which pointed out that we might not be fighting for the noblest of causes.

Martin left that kind of thinking to eggheads, Poindexters and Philadelphia lawyers. On his cassingle, he allowed as how he didn’t know much of anything, because being so ordinary, regular and real didn’t leave a lot of time for studies. But there was one thing he did know: our pride would be Saddam’s shame.
 

 
I mentioned that Jerry Martin was the pseudonym of Jerry Buckner. Now, I can’t be sure this is the Jerry Buckner of “Pac Man Fever” fame, but I do wonder how many vocal talents named Jerry Buckner might plausibly reside in the Atlanta area. To whom was Saddam supposed to address his reply? Whatever, I bet the dictator thought twice about showing his face down south after this tape came out. Cut way down on his trips to Georgia.

Now a quarter-century old—its sleeve no longer the shiny gray I remember from my Sam Goody youth, but the dull gray I see in my Sam Elliott beard—this curiosity fetches outrageous prices on Amazon. I can’t imagine why. I hope it’s because there are a lot of Big Lebowski and Nevermind fans researching the beginnings of American history’s most bogus journey.

Without spoiling the dramatic ending of “Letter to Saddam Hussein,” I can tell you that we kept its promise. Our boys showed Saddam who was boss, thereby transforming the entire Fertile Crescent into a fiery whirlwind of widows’ blood and children’s limbs. Now our boys will be there showing Saddam who’s boss forever!

Mission accomplished, numbnuts!
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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05.26.2016
01:21 pm
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