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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

Topics:
Music
One-hit wonders
Punk

Tags:
New Wave
Plastic Bertrand


 
“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…

Posted by Doug Jones | Leave a comment
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…

Posted by Doug Jones | Leave a comment
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….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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 | Leave a comment
‘Uptown Top Ranking’: Insanely catchy reggae one-hit wonder by Althea and Donna, 1978
05.03.2016
02:22 pm

Topics:
Music
One-hit wonders

Tags:
reggae
Althea and Donna


 
“Uptown Top Ranking” is an infectious hit single that knocked Wings’ Christmas blockbuster “Mull of Kintyre” off the #1 spot on the British pop charts in February of 1978. Although it only reached that peak for a single week after climbing the charts for months, the playful and whimsical rap, performed by teenaged Althea Forrest and Donna Reid, or Althea and Donna as the duo were known, is still fondly remembered. I’m surprised it hasn’t been used in a car commercial. Perhaps it already has been?
 

 
The number was produced by reggae great Joe Gibbs, apparently for fun. Perhaps it was intended to be a novelty record of sorts, as it was a female “answer” song aimed as a comeback to Trinity’s hit “Three Piece Suit and Thing.” Both tunes utilized the riddim from a soulful and romantic Alton Ellis song from 1967 titled “I’m Still In Love with You.” It was popularized in the UK by BBC DJ John Peel.
 

 
Forrest and Reid, were just 17 and 18 years old, respectively, when their unmemorable album was recorded and frankly they probably had just the one good song in them. But hey, what an amazing song it was! Their brief Wikipedia entry doesn’t really say what happened to Althea and Donna after their brief brush with pop fame.

They were named-checked in the lyrics of the Psychedelic Furs song “We Love You” in 1980:

I’m in love with Althea and Donna and
all that shit that goes uptown top ranking

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
A sweet vintage Christmas jam from members of Thin Lizzy and the Sex Pistols: ‘A Merry Jingle’

The Greedies (aka
Members of The Greedies/The Greedy Bastards

Today’s Christmas-themed post brings to light yet another reason why the 70s were fucking awesome. Back in summer of 1978, Thin Lizzy vocalist Phil Lynott got the brilliant idea to recruit a few of his famous friends like former Sex Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook, the great Gary Moore, his Thin Lizzy bandmate, Scott Gorham, guitar hero Chris Spedding and Dio/Rainbow bassist Jimmy Bain to play a few live gigs together and The Greedies (formerly known as “The Greedy Bastards”) were born. Now if that isn’t the personification of a “supergroup” I do not know what is.
 
Phil Lynott and Steve Cook
Phil Lynott and Paul Cook

Later on in 1979, Lynott, Jones and Cook along with Thin Lizzy’s Scott Gorham and Brian Downey recorded The Greedies’ one and only song,  “A Merry Jingle,”  a riff on two classic Christmas songs—“We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and “Jingle Bells.”

Since we all know that great things usually don’t last, The Greedies and their superstar friends only played four gigs before moving on to other things. Cook and Jones formed The Professionals and Lynott soon released his first of three solo records, Solo in Soho. Amusingly, the “B” side of “A Merry Jingle,” called “A Merry Jangle,” is the A-side played backwards. Nicely. There are a few copies of the single out there on eBay if you’re wanting to add this to your record collection.

The clip of The Greedies performing “A Merry Jingle” on UK television in 1979 follows.
 

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Unbelievable! Holy grail footage of The Shaggs from 1972 FOUND!

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Of all outsider music, none is further outside than The Shaggs. Three young sisters from Fremont, New Hampshire whose harrowing story is like no other pop music story in history, is known at this point far and wide. Their father took them out of school, harassed and abused them to force them to “make music,” hoping to hit it rich off that new rock and roll fad. Since they didn’t have one iota of knowledge about music, the girls invented their own music. An amazing otherworldly music like nothing anyone’s ears have ever experienced! And being that they were young girls, this music had a great innocence to it, coming through guitar bass and drums. Now I don’t just mean they wrote songs, but that they reinvented music almost in an autistic way. Not knowing their back story early on, it’s amazing that this was created under duress. Everyone that heard it thought it was just the bizarre childish ramblings of the weirdest teens on earth! And they were, but still…
 
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To implement their father’s bizarre plan, these girls (Dot, Betty, and Helen Wiggin) were also forced to play every weekend at Fremont Town Hall where, it is said, that they were endlessly abused by rotten kids for doing the “Shaggs’ Own Thing,” yet they soldiered on weekend after weekend because they had to. Next was to record an LP and here is where their magic was set in stone. Released in 1969,The Shaggs’ Philosophy Of The World came and went and legend tells of them being thrown in a dumpster by the studio owner/co-producer (with their dad, Austin Wiggin). Either way 900 of the thousand LPs disappeared, so right off the bat it was incredibly rare. Being the most famous weirdo of his time the record made its way into the hands of none other than Frank Zappa who went on a radio interview in 1970 with the Shaggs LP under his arm and famously during the interview proclaimed “this band is better than the Beatles” and then made them play a song—the first public mindblower the band created. They kept playing until the day their father died of a massive heart attack in 1975 and then just stopped.
 
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Ten years after its original release, at the end of the first punk wave, mega record collector Terry Adams, singer for cult rock-n-roll band NRBQ, got his record label (Rounder Records) to re-release the LP. The minds punk opened were endlessly searching for weirdness in records, movies and pop culture. People like myself scarfed up the Shaggs LP and were mesmerized by its unique weirdness. It started being used as the measuring stick for weird music. People like Kurt Cobain put it in his top five favorite records of all time. In 1999 for the 30th anniversary NRBQ celebration concert they put on a show in New York That was one of the greatest and most bizarre nights of my life. I went with Shaggs megafan and one of my best friends, the late Bill Bartell (aka Pat Fear of California punk band White Flag) and it was a true mind bender. The Shaggs, playing their first show ever outside of Fremont, NH had the middle spot between Sun Ra’s Arkestra and NRBQ! Possibly the weirdest bill ever. I secretly recorded it, and it sounds exactly like the record. They read the music off of the original handwritten charts and only did four songs because they could only find those four pieces of sheet music! I had Dot Wiggin recreate the drawing of her cat Foot Foot from the back cover of the LP—made infamous in their “biggest hit” song “My Pal Foot Foot”—on my ankle and had it tattooed on the very next day! (I already had a tattoo on my actual foot foot.)
 
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Here’s Pat’s recounting of the show on Popshifter

Pat Fear: When I went to New York in 1999 to see the Shaggs when they played with NRBQ at their 30th Anniversary concert, I ended up getting to know them. They didn’t understand that they were going to be mobbed and I ended up being their handler. They had never experienced anything like being mobbed for autographs, so I set them up with a table for merch and stuff and ended up being their manager for a day. So I got to know them pretty well over the course of the two days.

They were really nice. It was only two of them; Helen wasn’t well enough to play [The Shaggs were comprised of three sisters: Dot, Betty, and Helen Wiggin; Helen died in 2006] so it was just Betty and Dot. That was the first time they had played since they broke up in 1975. I went to the soundcheck because I was not going to miss one second of Shaggs performances!

I met them and they were just standing around, these two, nice, older women—normal people who looked like middle-aged housewives—but they had guitars with them. And I barely recognized them. I said, “Look I don’t want to bother you but I came from California to see you. This is a big thrill and I’ve always liked your music.”

And they were like (adopts Shaggs-like accent), “Oh, that’s so nice!” They talk just like they do on the records. I was like, “Wow, this is actually happening.”

Dorothy [Dot] had a PeeChee folder in her hands and she opened it up right before they were about to do the sound check and she said (in Shaggs voice), “Oh, we’re only gonna do four numbers because we didn’t have time to study them.” And she opened this PeeChee folder and there was handwritten sheet music to “My Pal Foot Foot.”

Popshifter: Oh my goodness.

Pat Fear: Those songs were written out and scored on sheet music, by hand! And when she said “study” she meant, study the sheet music.

Popshifter: How is that even possible? (laughs)

Pat Fear: Jaw on the floor! I was with Howie Pyro [D Generation] and we were both like, “Oh. My. God. You don’t know how much I want that piece of paper.”

More after the jump…

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
They didn’t write that?: Hits you (probably) didn’t realize were cover songs (Part Five)
09.24.2015
12:10 pm

Topics:
Music
One-hit wonders

Tags:
cover songs


 
This is the final installment of a five part series. Part One can be found HERE, Part Two can be found HERE, Part Three can be found HERE, and Part Four can be found HERE.

Recently a friend hipped me to a song that I had NO IDEA existed, having thought for decades that the COVER of it by an ‘80s one-hit-wonder band was the original and only version that was ever recorded. This led to a conversation about hit songs that we didn’t at first realize were covers—sometimes not discovering the original versions until many years after the fact. A few friends joined in and at the end of the conversation I had a list of over 50 songs that were “surprise” cover versions.

As a public service to Dangerous Minds readers, I’m sharing this list so that you can wow your friends at parties with your vast musical knowledge. Granted, our readership is a smart and savvy bunch, so undoubtedly you’ll come across songs on this list and say “I already knew about that.” Of course you did, but indulge the rest of us. Hopefully, though, something here will surprise you.

We’ve rolled this list out in parts over the past few weeks. In no particular order, this is Part Five of Dangerous Minds’ list of hits you (probably) didn’t realize were cover songs.
 

 
The song: “Do Wah Diddy Diddy”

You know it from: Manfred Mann

But it was done first by: The Exciters

“Do Wah Diddy Diddy” was written by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich and originally recorded in 1963, as “Do-Wah-Diddy”, by the the Exciters. Manfred Mann’s version was recorded the following year and went to number one on both the UK and US singles charts. The Exciters’ original has that classic ‘60s girl group sound.
 

 
Many more big hits by their original artists after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
They didn’t write that?: Hits you (probably) didn’t realize were cover songs (Part Four)
09.14.2015
09:08 am

Topics:
Music
One-hit wonders

Tags:
David Hess
cover songs


 
This is the fourth part of a continuing series. Part One can be found HERE, Part Two can be found HERE, and Part Three can be found HERE.

Recently a friend hipped me to a song that I had NO IDEA existed, having thought for decades that the COVER of it by an ‘80s one-hit-wonder band was the original and only version that was ever recorded. This led to a conversation about hit songs that we didn’t at first realize were covers—sometimes not discovering the original versions until many years after the fact. A few friends joined in and at the end of the conversation I had a list of over 50 songs that were “surprise” cover versions.

As a public service to Dangerous Minds readers, I’m sharing this list so that you can wow your friends at parties with your vast musical knowledge. Granted, our readership is a smart and savvy bunch, so undoubtedly you’ll come across songs on this list and say “I already knew about that.” Of course you did, but indulge the rest of us. Hopefully, though, something here will surprise you.

We’ll be continuing to roll this list out in parts, as we have for the past next few weeks. In no particular order, this is Part Four of Dangerous Minds’ list of hits you (probably) didn’t realize were cover songs.
 

 
The song: “All Shook Up”

You know it from: Elvis Presley

But it was done first by: “David Hill” (AKA David Hess, star of The Last House on the Left)

“All Shook Up” was a number one hit single for Elvis Presley in 1957. Penned in 1956 by Otis Blackwell, the first recorded version of the song was recorded that same year by “David Hill,” which was the stage name of David Hess. Hess’ recording was a flop, but he later achieved fame as an actor in Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left, as well as other horror films such as The House on the Edge of the Park, and Hitch-Hike.
 

 
Many more after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
They didn’t write that?: Hits you (probably) didn’t realize were cover songs (Part Three)
09.08.2015
09:48 am

Topics:
Music
One-hit wonders

Tags:
cover version


 
This is the third part of a continuing series. Part One can be found HERE and Part Two can be found HERE.

Recently a friend hipped me to a song that I had NO IDEA existed, having thought for decades that the COVER of it by an ‘80s one-hit-wonder band was the original and only version that was ever recorded. This led to a conversation about hit songs that we didn’t at first realize were covers—sometimes not discovering the original versions until many years after the fact. A few friends joined in and at the end of the conversation I had a list of over 50 songs that were “surprise” cover versions.

As a public service to Dangerous Minds readers, I’m sharing this list so that you can wow your friends at parties with your vast musical knowledge. Granted, our readership is a smart and savvy bunch, so undoubtedly you’ll come across songs on this list and say “I already knew about that.” Of course you did, but indulge the rest of us. Hopefully, though, something here will surprise you.

We’ll be rolling this list out in parts over the next few weeks. In no particular order, this is Part Three of Dangerous Minds’ list of hits you (probably) didn’t realize were cover songs.
 

 
The song: “Girls Just Want to Have fun”

You know it from: Cyndi Lauper

But it was done first by: Robert Hazard

Cyndi Lauper’s 1983 smash-hit feminist anthem was originally written and recorded by a man in 1979. The song was originally a demo track from Robert Hazard who later had a minor MTV hit with the song “Escalator of Life.” Some readers who have been following this series on Dangerous Minds may cry “foul” in that Robert Hazard’s original version of the song was a demo and not available as a consumer release. Fair enough, but Hazard’s little-heard version is so remarkable that the urge to share it couldn’t be resisted.
 

 

 

 
The song: “Hello Hooray”

You know it from: Alice Cooper

But it was done first by: Judy Collins

One of the most-memorable tracks from Alice Cooper’s 1973 platinum-selling Billion Dollar Babies album is “Hello Hooray.” The song was actually written by Rolf Kempf and was recorded five years earlier by Judy Collins. There’s certainly no confusing Alice’s and Judy’s versions:
 

 

 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
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