Moved by the news of Donna Summer’s death, South Bronx-bred aerosol artist and DJ, SERVE (a/k/a SERVE ONE), wasted no time painting the stunning mural pictured above in homage to the late singer. With “Last Dance” – the title of Summer’s 1978 classic – emblazoned by an iconic image from the cover of her Live & More LP of the same year, it’s a beautiful piece of work. “I just had to do it…” SERVE wrote on his Facebook wall to the enthusiastic response of friends. Props, SERVE. RIP, Donna Summer.
Here’s another thing of rare beauty, Donna performing the wonderful “Spring Affair” from the Four Seasons Of Love EP on Soul Train:
I’m feeling a little spooked out right now, not just at the news that the number one Disco Queen Donna Summer has died at age 63 after battling cancer, but also because I was going to post this clip today just because it is so damn good.
Taken from a 1979 TV special, here is Donna performing a live version of her classic “Sunset People” from the Bad Girls LP. The original track is one of my all time disco favorites, and one of her best collaborations with that damned pop music genius Giorgio Moroder.
In this clip Donna performs the track live while walking down the actual Sunset Strip, and play acts different roles of some of the Strip’s denziens (starlet, showgirl, traffic cop.) The track itself is different to the recorded version too, being slightly faster and sounding more “live band” than “studio whizz.”
The reason I wanted to post this clip today, before I heard the news, is that it is awesome, a real treat for Summer/Moroder/disco fans. Only now it takes on a new gravitas as the news filters through of Summer’s untimely death. And there I was, only recently pondering the thought of a Donna Summer-revival tour. She was one of the few major (still living) solo acts from the disco period not to be out touring again, and a glaring omission from the Etam Paris Fashion week “Disco Divas” show (which featured Grace Jones, Sister Sledge, the Pointer Sisters, Chaka Khan and Gloria Gaynor - what a fucking line-up!).
There are going to be plenty of Donna Summer obituaries coming through over the next few days with the passing of this true legend. If you’re aware of my other posts over the last 18 months here on Dangerous Minds, you will have gathered by now that I am a disco music obsessive. I shouldn’t have to explain what Donna Summer means to me, or to popular music culture in general. After the male-oriented “free love” boom of the 60s, she brought assertive female sexuality to the masses with “Love To Love You Baby” in 1975. Along with Giorgio Moroder, Summer redefined pop music with the epoch-defining “I Feel Love.” Hell, I still drop that track in my dj sets to this day, and it never fails to tear the roof off.
If you’re still in doubt as to how important her work was, ask Bernard Sumner of New Order who was more important to the band - Donna Summer or Kraftwerk?
Well then, here’s to you Donna Summer, performer and co-author of some of the best songs in dance, and pop, music history. You will be missed!
Donna Summer “Sunset People” (1979 TV special version)
Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Dunn was the bass player in Booker T. and the MGs as well as a sideman to Neil Young, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Wilson Pickett and many more. He was a key player for Stax recording studios and an integral component in the soulful funkiness of the “Stax sound.”
I remember seeing Neil Young on his 1993 tour when Booker T and the MGs were his backing band. I was expecting something bluesy and jazzy (you never know with Neil), but the band rocked hard. Dunn stood in one spot, blue jeans perfectly pressed with a crease down the middle, and laid down a groove as deep and massive as the Grand Canyon without ever breaking a sweat or mussing his impeccably coiffed hairdo.
Dunn died in his sleep in Japan after playing a couple of gigs at The Blue Note in Tokyo. He was 70 years-old.
Here’s a great clip of Dunn playing with Booker T. and the MGS on 1960s TV show Shindig.
Happy Birthday Lee Brilleaux, the unforgettable lead singer of R&B band Dr Feelgood.
Born sixty years ago today, Brilleaux was raised in Canvey Island the hard-living, oil refinery community on the Thames Estuary. It was a perfect backdrop for Brilleaux to develop his taste for working class R&B, and in 1971, he co-founded Dr. Feelgood with guitarist and song-writer, Wilko Johnson. Together they became the twin poles to one of Britain’s most dynamic R&B bands.
DM’s Marc Campbell notes that last month a CD boxset All Through The City was released, and is a definite must-have for all Feelgood fans.
Meantime, here to remember Lee Brilleaux and Dr Feelgood is “15 minutes of magic in 4 songs” taken from the film Going Back Home from 1975.
Bonus clip of Dr. Feelgood on ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’, after the jump…
When it comes to booze and benzos, you either learn to navigate the fine line between being high and being dead or you end up being dead. The paradox is that when you’re on the shit you’re in no condition to get a clear read on what condition your condition is in.
As a tribute to Adam Yauch, comedian Neal Brennan, who co-created, co-wrote and co-executive produced the Chappelle Show, uploaded this video to YouTube from the unaired third season (2004) of Dave Chapelle’s cutting-edge comedy program.
I anticipate that we’ll be seeing fresh Beastie Boys photos and video footage in weeks to come. Adam Yauch’s death is hitting music and pop culture fans hard and the amount of attention his passing is generating is testimony to how magic his vibration was and continues to be. Thanks Neal for sharing this.
The Beastie Boys perform “The New Style” on a boat in New York City’s East River. Chappelle gets in on the action.
It’s still sinking in here that MCA-aka Adam Yauch- has died, and that, in effect, the Beastie Boys are no more. What a fucking bummer.
It’s an inescapable fact that the Beastie Boys are one of the bands that define my generation. If you were a child at any point from the mid 80s up until the late 90s you cannot have escaped their influence. And I’m not just talking about their music; their aesthetic reached everywhere, from film and music videos to magazine publishing and clothes lines.
I feel like my generation (and I use that term loosely) don’t have a singular iconic figure they can point too, like a Prince or a Bowie. You know, that one person that unites an entire age group through sheer talent and poise. Well, the Beasties may not have had the incredible album-a-year productivity rate of Prince or Bowie at their prime (in fact they were legendarily slow at making music,) but their extra-musicular activites more than made up for that, and meant that when their albums did drop it was a major event.
More than just the music on its own, more than the Grande Royale magazine and record label, more than fantastic the art work or the trend-setting X-Large clothing range, it was the Beastie Boys incredible videos that set them apart, and brought their diverse fan base together. They really knew how to work in different media while retaining their core identity, making them some of the first and most successful rap music entrepreneurs, and this placed them right at the centre of the 90s golden age of both hip-hop and music videos. And there steering the helm of most of those awesome Beastie Boys promo clips was Yauch himself, often in the guise of Swiss director Nathanial Hornblower.
My God, looking back now it’s startling to think of how these videos have influenced my life and my addiction to (and perception of) pop culture.
I caught the raunchy video for ‘She’s On It” on TV when I was about 8 years old and the image of Mike D sliding an ice cube down a bikini-clad model’s back has been seared into my brain ever since. I didn’t quite understand what was going on in that shot at the time (hey, I was too young and too sheltered) but there was naked flesh and it was naughty and exciting. I still remember that tingly feeling of not wanting my parents to walk in and see me watching the video. Even though that’s a feeling that returned often in my teenage years, I guess I can say that seeing “She’s On It” was one of my first childhood sexual experiences.
When I was 13 the promo for Check Your Head‘s opening track “Jimmy James” was a staple on late night European cable music channels, the kind I would creep downstairs and watch on low volume while my parents were asleep. It was hard to keep the volume on this one down, and the visuals themselves were a hypnotic template for everything I thought rocked in the world at the time - New York subways, vintage go-go strippers, dope looking rappers filmed in fish-eye lenses, burning 8mm film, Jimi fucking Hendrix. At this point the Beastie Boys were a bit of an unknown quantity in the UK press, as their reputation stemmed largely from the License To Ill “frat” period (Paul’s Boutique was still being seen as a costly, if interesting, flop.) Still, “Jimmy James” (and “So Watcha Want”) was THE SHIT, and helped spread the word of mouth amongst listeners and the journos alike about how great Check Your Head was.
Early 1994 saw the release of “Sabotage”. Sure, the clip was directed by Spike Jonze, but Yauch’s fingerprints were all over it. I don’t think I need to write much about this video, only to say that it really was a cultural milestone for people my age. Almost single handedly it ushered in a new era. Out went heroin-chic and woe-is-me grunge, and in came a new sense of fun (with a healthy dose of irony.) Here was an appreciation of pop-culture’s bargain bin that tied in nicely with Tarantino, some new looks that were equal parts vintage and street, and most importantly of all an incredibly broad musical palate where anything went.
Beyond the stone cold classic video, “Sabotage” pushed boundaries musically. Yeah, so it may be a straight forward punk song, but how many ‘rap groups’ had ever done something like that? In fact, me and my friends didn’t really perceive the Beasties as strictly a ‘rap group’ per se, even though (obviously) they rapped. They were more than that. Presumably because they were white and played actual instruments on occasion, they weren’t talked about in the same hallowed tones as Cypress Hill or Public Enemy. But they were very much a gateway to those bands, and the more commercial hip-hop that followed, and their blessing of the above mentioned acts with tours and remixes made it feel ok for middle-class white kids to define themselves as “rap fans.”
Last year’s video for “Make Some Noise” brought the band back in to the limelight, not least for the starry cast list: what other modern act would be able to convince Seth Rogen, Danny McBride and Elijah Wood to play them in a clip AND THEN rope in Ted Danson, Kirstin Dunst and Will Ferrell for additional cameos? But the real fan treat was the clip for “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win”, which featured G.I.Joe-style puppet versions of the band doing battle underwater, on ice, and even at a music festival.
Adam Yauch was a visionary, and should be remembered for his film work just as much as his music. In fact, he brought music and film together better than anyone else up to that point, and for that has to be counted as a huge influence and inspiration on the artistic endeavours of myself and my peers. I probably wouldn’t do what I do now if it weren’t for him.
And he did it while wearing a ginger wig and lederhosen. Here’s a strange (and strangely touching) short film of Yauch David Cross [? - what’s going on here?] as Hornblower, shooting the shit on a NY Street and engaging in a game of chess with a labrador:
Adam Yauch, aka MCA, aka Nathanial Hornblower (August 5, 1964 – May 4, 2012.)
Rest In Peace.
After the jump, videos for the above mentioned Beastie Boys songs, and a 1992 interview with the band featuring Yauch (yes, definitely Yauch this time) in full Hornblower attire…
The artist Edward C. Zacharewicz died yesterday at a hospital in New Jersey, he was 51. A message on his website Decay Art reads:
Sadly, on Friday May 4th 2012, Edward passed away. He leaves behind him a legacy of creativity and a large community of friends and supporters who will carry on his memory. He has enabled and encouraged many other people to follow their creative dreams and become the artists that they were meant to be, and he will be sorely missed. We love you Ed. This world lost a great artist and a great man.
I never met Edward, our friendship came by chance 2 years ago, I saw some of his paintings (breath-taking) and this led to our introduction. The conversation started and grew through messages and emails, wee small hours discussions about painting, deppression, happiness and life. He was a kind, thoughtful and wonderful man, and I greatly admired him and his artwork.
In 2010, I interviewed Edward about his art and life, and only last month we planned to do a follow-up piece. Here is an extract from that original article in tribute to Edward C. Zacharewicz.
The artist, Edward C. Zacharewicz has a large collection of antique paintings and religious prints. The collection is a reminder of the images from his childhood that inspired him to start painting.
‘I was kid and going to Catholic Church with my parents and sitting there and just looking at the paintings and murals and how beautiful they were.’
It was the colours of the paintings – the bright flame of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the royal blue dress of the Virgin Mary, the scourged body, the pierced side, the hues and textures of the crucified Christ.
Colors were important even then. His parents bought him painting-by-number sets and Edward filled them diligently.
‘I always enjoyed coloring, still do. I actually didn’t start to draw until I was 8 or 9 years old. I think it was working with color that led me to paint in the style I do.
‘Color can show much emotion without being in a physical form.’
For me, Zacharewicz’s paintings are amongst the most powerful abstract paintings of recent years.
When you look at a Zacharewicz, you can understand why his favourite painter is William Turner, the man he describes as ‘the master of making colour show power and emotion.’
Turner was the ‘painter of light’. His work anticipated Impressionism, and his use of brush on canvas suggested elements of Abstract art.
Like Turner, Zacharewicz creates layered puzzles.
‘All my paintings have to do with something from my life, a situation, a feeling, a thought, a person or place. I never decide, it just happens. I have a title for the work before I start.
‘I really don’t have a routine….sometimes I go weeks without painting, then all of a sudden I get this burst of wanting to paint…it might be a situation, it might be a spoken word.’
One of his most recent paintings was inspired this way.
‘It’s Not That Kind Of Party came from a conversation I was having with my friend Jessica Paris, who is the singer for Honey Spot Blvd.
‘I don’t even remember what we were talking about, but somehow that was said in the conversation and I told her I was going to use it as a title for a painting. The colors I used were based on her – bright, happy colors that work well with others.’
‘Sometimes, it takes me days to finish a painting, when there has been times were I have finished one in a few hours. It depends on the colours, if I want to blend them, layer them, or drag them.
‘I basically paint with acrylics, sometimes I do add oils to a painting because I love the texture it can give. Also on some I have used oil pastel crayons for a different look.
‘There are times when I look at a painting for a few hours figuring out if it is done or not. But, I always know when it is finished.’
R.I.P. Edward C. Zacharewicz 1960-2012
Love and Sorrow (2010)
More paintings by Edward C. Zacharewicz, after the jump…
Adam Nathaniel Yauch, “MCA” (August 5, 1964 - May 4, 2012)
May he rest in peace.
In the video below, the Beastie Boys when they were all about 19 or 20 years old on the Manhattan Cable cable access program, The Scott & Gary Show on Valentines Day, 1984. Kate Schellenbach, later of Luscious Jackson, was a Beastie girl, playing drums in the group from 1979 to 1984, when they were basically a lighthearted punk band.
After the jump, an interview with the young Beastie Boys (and girl)
On the surface Dick Clark looked about as hip as Dick Nixon and as a kid I thought Clark was somewhat dubious as a purveyor of youth culture, but over the years I’ve come to appreciate his massive contribution to rock history, particularly when he went out on the limb and booked edgy acts on American bandstand, including Pink Floyd Public Image, Captain Beefheart, Bubble Puppy, Love, and X.
Here’s something I’d never seen before and I think it demonstrates just how on top of the rock scene Clark could be. Pink Floyd on American Bandstand