From 2004, Johnny Cash: The Last Great American was the first major TV retrospective of the singer’s life and times. Featuring contributions from his daughter Rosanne Cash and son John Carter Cash, longtime manager Lou Robin, and fellow musicians, Little Richard, Cowboy Jack Clement, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard and Elvis Costello. This documentary contains incredible archive and some superb performances, and is a fine testament to The Man in Black.
Here’s some fabulous 1970s footage of the New York Dolls performing, talking and hanging out. Directed by one of rock and roll’s great photographers and chroniclers of the New York music scene Bob Gruen with his partner Nadya Beck.
70 minutes of indispensable, demented, glorious punk rock history.
The young, the bad, the beautiful.
Update 12/30 5:30 central time. MVD Entertainment Group went from offering this for free to suddenly charging a $2.99 rental free. This happened within the past few hours. They must have seen the traffic Dangerous Minds was sending them and decided to profit it from it. Which is fine. But it wasn’t my intent to send people to a site where it was going to cost you money to see this video. It’s certainly worth $2.99 to rent, but still…
Sean Bonniwell lead singer and songwriter for The Music Machine has died of lung cancer at 71.
Dressed all in black, with each member wearing one black glove, The Music Machine appeared like dark lords against the backdrop of the day-glow Sixties. And in songs like their big hit “Talk Talk” their sound was hard-edged, oozing a punk attitude, that would later influence groups like The Ramones and The Dictators.
Sean Bonniwell’s career with The Music Machine only lasted two years. He later formed a group called The Bonniwell Music Machine before selling the name to his record company to be released from his contract. A solo album followed in 1969 before he retired from the music scene for good. He briefly returned to recording in 2006 when he laid down some tracks with L.A. neo-garage band The Larksmen.
For a band that only released one album and had just a couple of hits, The Music Machine left an indelible mark on rock music and it is Bonniwell’s intense presence and tough guy baritone that I’ll most remember.
Here’s the situation
And how it really stands
I’m out of circulation
I’ve all but washed my hands
My social life’s a dud
My name is really mud
I’m up to here in lies
Guess I’m down to size
Bonniwell may be out of circulation but he’ll never be down to size.
Pulsallama were an all girl percussion band in New York circa 1980 to 1982 who put out two singles and played at the Danceteria. I own both records. Their distinctive sound—think a more chaotic, New York version of Rip, Rig and Panic or early Bananarama—can work wonders on an unsuspecting dancefloor.
In 1980, this damsel moved to New York to become a fabulous nightclub D.J. and stumbled upon Club 57, church basement which was a clubhouse to Downtown celebrities such as the late, John Sex, Keith Haring and Wendy Wild where the Ladies Auxiliary of the Lower East Side (founded by Ann Magnuson - star of stage, screen and Bongwater) were banging on percussion instruments and hanging up meat bones in preparation for their “Rites of Spring Bacchanal.” Jean joined on drums and Pulsallama was born.
Pulsallama toured the East Coast as well as England and opened several shows for the Clash. They released a controversial, yet comical ditty, “The Devil Lives in my Husband’s Body,” for London’s Y Records which was a hit on alternative and college stations. Pulsallama was beloved for their rhythmic cacophony, theatrical stage antics, props and costumes, and their primal, yet glamourous absurdity. They had lots of fun, got their picture in Interview magazine and had 15 minutes of fame.
Fun fact: Jean Caffeine was also seen as the “roadkill” at the beginning of Richard Linklater’s classic cult film, Slacker.
Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.
I was foresaken by rock and roll in the early 1970s. Gene Vincent, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Brian Jones had died. The Beatles disintegrated. The Byrds broke-up and then reunited to record their worst album. The Stones released their last great one. The Who were making tedious, bombastic operas choked with bad symbolism and simple minded metaphors. Pink Floyd took the brown acid and became boring. The Dave Clark Five became Dave Clark and Friends. Phil Spector went into seclusion. Elvis went to the White House to shake Nixon’s hand. Bob Dylan went Nashville. Brian Wilson went mad and Arthur Lee wasn’t too far behind.
Top 40 radio was in dire need of a Rotor-Rooter. The pipelines were full of excremental sludge consisting of some of the worst songs to be sprung from the a-hole of rock n’ roll.
“A Horse With No Name” - America
“The Candy Man” - Sammy Davis Jr.
“Joy To The World” - Three Dog Night
“One Bad Apple” - The Osmonds
“Take Me Home, Country Roads” - John Denver
“Tie A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round The Old Oak Tree” -Tony Orlando & Dawn
” Bad Bad Leroy Brown” - Jim Croce
“The Way We Were” - Barbra Streisand
“Seasons In The Sun” - Terry Jacks
“The Streak” - Ray Stevens
“One Hell Of A Woman” - Mac Davis
All of the above were best-selling singles from 1971-74, all of them appearing in the Top Ten.
And when it came to rock criticism, Robert Christgau’s insulting and utterly clueless one-line review of Tim Buckley’s masterful 1970 release Starsailor is one of the most odious things that sandal-wearing beatnik ever wrote:
A man who was renowned for his Odetta impressions on Jac Holzman’s folkie label switches to Frank Zappa’s art-rock label, presumably so he can do Nico impressions.
Yes kids, it was a wasteland. If it was some fresh badass rock and roll you were looking for, you had to look hard. If you were lucky, you found Iggy… and eventually you’d come upon a few other shards of light within the shitstorm: Marc Bolan’s Electric Warrior and Roxy Music’s debut album, with Lou Reed’s Transformer and Ziggy not far behind. The guys with the make-up, glitter and hairspray brought something essential back to rock and roll: big hooks, guitars, a little danger and sex.
I took a pass on Bowie. Reed, as a Velvet, was already a hero. Roxy music knocked me out, but it was Marc Bolan that blew me way. Everything about T. Rex worked for me : the chugging guitar riffs, undeniable hooks, propulsive tribal rhythms, sassy vocals, surreal alliterative lyrics and Marc’s pimped out fashion sense. It all came together with a certain inspired savoir faire. Bolan, like Hendrix, Chuck Berry and Elvis, exploded fully formed out of the rock and roll godhead. He was one for the ages. His influence reached far and deep, inspiring and setting the stage for The Ramones, The Runaways, Blondie, The Clash and The Sex Pistols.
Marc Bolan:The Final Word is a BBC documentary that provides a fairly detailed overview of Bolan’s life. It’s narrated by Suzi Quatro and features contributions from his companion Gloria Jones, brother Harry Feld, producer Tony Visconti, Queen’s Roger Taylor, Steve Harley, Zandra Rhodes and more.
As I put together my annual worst Christmas songs list, I thought I’d give you a preview of things to come.
Doc Marten meets Dean Martin in Billy Idol’s plodding version of ‘White Christmas,” which has all the appeal of a Christmas stocking full of steaming reindeer shit.
The musicians backing him sound like a German wedding band after an afternoon of knocking back steins of hefeweizen at the local beer garden. It don’t mean a thing if ain’t got that swing and these cats couldn’t swing if they were hanging from a lamppost in a hurricane.
These clips are hard to find on the Internet and who knows how long they’ll last out there before the dark corporate forces wipe them from view. The teachings of the SubGenius are under relentless assault!
Devo’s appearance on Saturday Night Live on October 14, 1978 was a visitation from a rock and roll galaxy far far away and yet so near. It was as if aliens from another planet had created a concept of Earthlings based on old television transmissions they’d hijacked of industrial training films, Triumph Of The Will, episodes of Hullabaloo and Saturday morning cartoons and then spewed it all back at us in a digitized replication missing a few ones and zeros. It was an attempt at communication, not unlike Klaatu’s failed efforts in 1951.