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Julian Cope interviewed by a computer on ‘Star Test,’ 1989
08.27.2015
06:22 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Julian Cope
Channel 4


 
The title suggests a contest like Star Search, but the UK’s Channel 4 series Star Test was an interview show with a gimmick: a bleeping and whirring computer host. The guest sat alone in a big, white, reverb-y room with stained glass windows and potted plants (a budget version of the room at the end of 2001? a sanitized Cathode Ray Mission from Videodrome?), choosing categories from a touchscreen menu and fielding questions that were more often insipid (“When did you last cut your toenails?”) than inspired. Wendy James of Transvision Vamp, Bernard Sumner of New Order, and Peter Gabriel all sat in this sterile technochapel and took part in its weird ritual.

YouTube user Tony Payne uploaded the Julian Cope episode of Star Test last week. Aired on June 13, 1989, it picks up right where Cope’s autobiography Head-On left off, with Ian McCulloch refuting a fortune-teller’s prediction by living through his 30th birthday that May.
 

 
Cope was then between his late-80s pop confections, Saint Julian and My Nation Underground, and his unpolished early-90s deep skull dives, Skellington and Droolian, which prepared the way for the prophetic Peggy Suicide trilogy. Unhurried, slightly bored, and whip-smart, he dispatches some questions with a few syllables—Hell is “a loop tape of U2,” the person with the most power over him is “me”—and uses others to propel himself to sublime heights most other musicians don’t even know are there:

What’s the best reason for being alive?

Um… just ‘cause it’s such a break, you know? I just think this is the best break that anybody could give anybody, and I kind of, I feel that with all the people who are in such a bad place, a bad position in the world, you know, that I’ve got to be good at being what I am, ‘cause it’s like—as an analogy, say life is like a play or something. I’m standing at the front, somebody’s given me a really good ticket, so it’s my duty to enjoy the play I’m in, because it’s rude of me not to, ‘cause there’s all these people starving around the world. They’re the people who’ve got a really, really bad break, and they’re standing at the back, and they’re all smaller than everybody else, and they can’t see over, so they never even get to see what life is, they never even got to see the start, you know?

People just say, “Work, and you’ve got a chance.” That’s complete garbage; it’s just rudeness. There’s so much rudeness. So much rudeness in our society, as well, which really kind of gets to me. Some people, they just physically can’t get it together, they can’t mentally get it together, you know? I’ll apologize for them if it makes, kind of, people in power feel any better. Sometimes you can’t get out of your room. Sometimes the world just completely bewilders you and does your head in, you know? And going out is the same as being dragged and knocked senseless by a bunch of muggers, and that’s just sometimes they way it is.

~snip

How do you react to criticism?

I really like a good slag-off, ‘cause a good slag-off can really kinda like erupt you inside. And you can be full of crap a lot of the time; you need to have somebody kickin’ around inside you. If there’s no friction in what you do, then there’s no way that you’re gonna get on, you know? The best way to make great art is to have it trivialized by other people as much as possible—that way, you fight, and fight, and fight.

~snip

What is your most wicked fantasy?

My most wicked fantasy? An evil fantasy? Well, if it’s a fantasy, maybe my most evil fantasy is that the white race doesn’t actually belong here, and was put here to mess everybody up, and everything that I do as like a total kind of WASP that I am is gonna destroy the rest of the world with its half-assed evangelical calling. But I don’t even know if that’s a fantasy, see, ‘cause I kind of believe that.

You see, the Drude is dispensing the psychedelic wisdom you need for your life, in a convenient 25-minute TV dose. (The show is half as long as it appears to be—like the Circle Jerks’ Group Sex cassette, it plays through twice in a row.)
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
OMG, there are ‘Doctor Who’ Weeping Angel lights that blink at one another
08.20.2015
09:47 am

Topics:
Amusing
Television

Tags:
Doctor Who
Weeping Angel


 
What a brilliant and clever idea: Doctor Who Weeping Angel string-lights that blink at one another.

Multiple strings can be plugged into each other, so you can basically have as many Weeping Angels in one place as you’d like. Honestly, one is too many for us. And yes, like we said above, the you can set the lights themselves to blink. We’re not entirely sure what that means in terms of quantum locking, but with Weeping Angels it’s pretty safe to assume it probably isn’t good.

In the photographs they show the Weeping Angels strung high on a porch, but I’d much rather see them lighting up a Christmas tree. Why? Because there’s also a Weeping Angel Christmas tree topper. I mean, if you’re going to do it you might as well do it right.

The Weeping Angel light set can be purchased at Think Geek for $24.99.


 

 
via Laughing Squid

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Intimate Catherine Wheel performance on Italian television, 1998

Catherine Wheel circa 1992
Catherine Wheel circa 1992

Here’s a pretty rare glimpse at an intimate performance from 1998 by the Catherine Wheel on TMC2 or Telemontecarlo, a now defunct Italian language television network that was broadcast out of Monte Carlo from 1996 to 2001.

So unseen is this footage that Catherine Wheel’s bass player, Dave Hawes posted the ONLY comment below the video saying he had never seen footage in its entirety. It was also the first time the band had ever been to Italy which is revealed during one of many interview segments that are conducted on the stage by host Red Ronnie (aka Gabriel Ansah) and CW vocalist, Rob Dickinson.

There is some additional banter during CW performance that is insightful, silly and enjoyably awkward. Especially when Red Ronnie coyly asks Dickinson if he knows Iron Maiden vocalist, Bruce Dickinson (the two are real-life cousins). It is one of many moments that makes this video time-capsule a really fun watch.
 
Rob and Bruce Dickinson keeping it in the family
Keeping it in the family. Rob and Bruce Dickinson

The band performs three songs from from their excellent 1997 album, Adam and Eve -  “Delicious,” Ma Solituda,” and “Phantom of the American Mother” as well as a killer version of the song “Heal” from CW’s 1995 album, Happy Days and “Crank” from their 1993 album, Chrome. Dig it!

 

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
The time a small town booked a Rage Against the Machine show then shat its pants about it


 
Sometimes when I despair at the abject cluelessness and parochialism of local news “journalism,” I’m reminded that at least I live in a city, and could have WAY WORSE local news pickings were I to forsake easy access to museums and concert clubs for the quiet life. Take the small town of Spanish Fork, Utah. A quick jog south of Provo, it’s bisected by a Main Street that runs a whoppin’ five miles from its northern to southern borders, and with a roughly 10% Hispanic population, Spanish Fork doesn’t boast a whole lot of Spanish speakers. This is no bastion of urbanity, and of course that’s fine, not everyplace has to be.

But when their fairgrounds manager booked a Rage Against the Machine show, the residents and the local news all UTTERLY FLIPPED THEIR LIDS.

Local lore holds that the booking was made under the misapprehension that “Rage Against the Machine” was the name of a touring tractor-pull or monster truck rally. The fairgrounds manager and city manager both deny that in a City Weekly article published last year, but whatever the reason for the booking, hysteria ensued. A contemporary article in the LDS-owned Utah paper Deseret News reported thusly:

A rally at the city park organized by Shelley Matterson expressed some residents’ own rage against the booking of the group but acknowledged that fairgrounds manager Steve Money, who scheduled the band at the Spanish Fork Fairgrounds, did so in error. “He’s devastated,” said Ann Banks, daughter of Mayor Marie Huff. Banks said her mother had been subject to verbal attacks by residents who called the mayor, wondering how the controversial group could have been booked to appear there.

Most residents expressed fear that the group - known for its loud music and rough lyrics - was coming to Spanish Fork. Tash Johns urged the council in absentia to “take the bold stand and cancel the concert. We will stand behind them if they take this stand of courage,” she said.

Residents said they feared the lyrics that will be heard well beyond the fairground’s wooden fences as well as the rocker fans that would be there and the potential for injuries that one man who favors the concert said would likely result. Others expressed concern about lawsuits that could result if someone is killed or injured during the concert. They also fear a discrimination lawsuit if the concert is canceled.

Wouldn’t want the rocker fans to kill anyone now…

But that article is quite measured. It’s local TV news where out-of-touch bafflement and old-people paranoia really shine brightest. This news report was completely alarmist even though it was produced after the concert took place—and of course nothing bad happened except that a terrible rap-metal band that made “anti-establishment” “socialist” records to profit the international corporation Sony played its shitty high-fivin’ bro-down music. I kinda lost it a little at the remark about the “big city rock band.”
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
The Cult tearing it up on ‘The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers’ in 1987
08.17.2015
09:03 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Joan Rivers
Ian Astbury
The Cult

Ian Astbury, Billy Duffy and Joan Rivers circa 1987
 
The Cult were riding high on their 1987 release, Electric when they made this blistering appearance on The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers in May of 1987. Rivers was fired from The Late Show later that month and celebrated in rock star fashion by trashing the set with toilet paper and shaving cream with the help of Wendy O. Williams of all people. But I digress.

In the clip below, The Cult deliver a completely raw and raucous performance of two songs from Electric “Lil’ Devil” and “Born to Be Wild” (complete with full-on big hair headbanging). It also just so happened to be the 25th birthday of vocalist, Ian Astbury. During the interview segment the phone on the stage rings (an actual landline phone mind you), and on the other end was none other than Astbury’s father who was calling to wish his son a happy birthday. I’m not usually one for getting all mushy over lovey-dovey stuff, but this moment made my eyes a little leaky. I should probably get that checked out. The video, which should be turned up as loud as possible for maximum pleasure, follows.
 

The Cult on The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers. Episode #146, May 14th, 1987

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Who was that mysterious middle-aged bald guy that appeared in like EVERY early ‘80s MTV video?
08.17.2015
07:15 am

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture
Superstar
Television

Tags:
MTV
videos


 
When MTV first debuted in 1981, few people believed in the fledgling network and its concept of airing music videos 24 hours a day. Their launch was plagued with technical problems and the station itself was starved for content.

MTV co-founder, Les Garland, details the shaky beginnings in a New York Post interview:

There was some fear, because we didn’t get the instant distribution some people thought we would. We used to hear, from cable operators and advertisers, “nobody’s gonna watch music on television 24 hours a day. That’ll never work.” Heard it from people in [our own] management, too. It was closer to touch-and-go than people realized. There were threats of pulling the plug.

Given the newness of music videos, the channel had only around 250 to choose from at the beginning.

One demographic that may have been initially counted out, but who undoubtedly contributed to the success of early MTV, was elementary through high-school-aged kids who had loads of free viewing time on their hands. Kids who would end up spending hours a day obsessing over this new medium—a medium which moved so much faster than what they had been used to seeing, having grown up on network television. MTV ushered in the age of ADD.

I was one of those captivated kids, and what a fascinating time it was to become “musically aware” with this brand-new, content-starved format repetitively pumping-out clips from whatever handful of (mostly new wave) acts that were forward-thinking enough to devote the time and energy to shooting videos. Suddenly bands you would NEVER hear on the radio, were appearing on TV screens nation-wide and the kids were eating it up.

In those early days of obsessive MTV viewing, I began to notice this one guy. This one middle-aged, balding, bespectacled man. This one guy who was conspicuous for his squareness among pretty boy rock stars and hot models. This one guy who seemed to be in like EVERY freaking video. Was he a video director inserting himself Hitchcock style into his clips? Was he a record label president? Was he the bands’ coke dealer? Who the hell was this guy?
 

 
And so, for more than thirty years this man has been in the back of my head as “that ubiquitous middle-aged ‘80s video bald guy.”

I was recently tooling around You Tube, watching the video for Haircut 100’s classic hit “Love Plus One” and had my memory jarred. “Oh yeah,” I thought, “there he is!” “There’s that guy! The headmaster from the Bonnie Tyler video! The guy who struts down the street next to Joan Jett! The dad from the Squeeze video! The shaky-handed martini-drinker from the Billy Joel video! WHO IS THIS GUY!?”
 

 
This being 2015, and having the luxury of google and the Internet, I went to work searching for something, anything on this mystery man. Amazingly, I turned up nothing—except for other people asking the exact same question: “Who is the guy in every early ‘80s video?” 

So, next I contacted Nick Heyward of Haircut 100—because, again, we live in the future and you can just instantly access ANYONE. I sent Heyward a photo and asked “do you remember who this guy is?” Heyward replied almost immediately:

He was the wardrobe guy/actor/extra. Nice chap. Pop was a closely-knit family in those days.

There was a lead, but not much. Searches of “‘80s music video wardrobe guy, bald” turned up nothing.

From there, I took my quest to MTV’s Mark Goodman, to see if he had any inside information. Goodman responded: “No clue who the dude is but pretty funny you spotted him. You must have lots of free time!” So, great, childhood icon, MTV’s Mark Goodman, thinks I’m a total loser.

Subsequent sleuthing started to reveal a connection between the various videos that the pervasive bald guy was appearing in: a production company called MGMM.

MGMM was THE go-to company for music video production in the early ‘80s—mostly because they were one of the first companies to specialize in it. The company’s partners Brian Grant, Scott Millaney, Russel Mulcahy, and David Mallet were essentially the top directors in the burgeoning field. Their content DOMINATED early MTV, which, as we noted earlier, was quite sparse early-on. The most ground-breaking, iconic, most memorable music videos of the first three years of MTV were by-and-large all produced by MGMM. So the clues began to come together. Could the mystery middle-aged bald man be a costumer for MGMM?

Attempts to contact former partners of MGMM went mostly unanswered, but someone from David Mallet’s production company did get back to me with a name. That name was “Michael Baldwin.” Finally! A name to go with the pate!

Mallet’s company did not wish to comment any further or give additional information—and of course there’s stuff I’m still dying to know. Was it a goof among the production to have him turn up so often, or was it simply a matter of being short-staffed for extras? How many videos did he appear in? I know of at least 20. Were there more? Unfortunately, I can’t ask Baldwin himself—his Facebook page indicates that he sadly passed away due to an illness in October of 2014.

Baldwin was indeed a costumer, and an accomplished one at that. His website displays some stunning examples of his work, and clearly it was what he should be remembered for rather than his myriad of video cameos. That website is well worth a visit for Baldwin’s audio commentary on the gallery photos of his designs. He did a lot of work in the early ‘80s dressing pop stars, and obviously dressing sets with himself. But his work goes all the way back to the early ‘60s. He was even responsible for costumes on the Rolling Stones famous train-wreck Rock and Roll Circus. The guy had an impressive career outside of his bit parts in music clips.

As much as is left still unanswered, at least we can finally answer the question of “Who is that ubiquitous early ‘80s music video bald guy?”

His name is Michael Baldwin.
 

 

 
More Michael Baldwin than you can shake a stick at, after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Just a nice Jewish boy: A young Gene Simmons on ‘The Mike Douglas Show,’ 1974


 
A couple of weeks ago, DM’s Amber Frost showed us a pretty ridiculous TV news feature taking the gargantuan ‘70s arena rock band KISS to task for having the temerity to market themselves. The whole thing was full of tedious old-fart tut-tutting, and it frankly felt like the band wasn’t actually being scolded for their publicity machinery, but rather for being young and nothing at all like Tony Bennett.

So when I ran across this Gene Simmons interview on the old Mike Douglas show from 1974, I expected more or less the same vibe—the show, after all, was one of the champs of a soon-to-be-obsolete style of daytime variety programming that gave a reliable home to fading stars and alter kocker holdovers from the late vaudeville and early television eras for a demographic of stay-at-home housewives that was about to shrink significantly. So when it turned out that Douglas and his other guests reacted to Simmons’ startling kabuki-ghoul appearance in stride and just joked with him like anyone else, it was quite a surprise.
 

 
This was in the early days of KISS, so Simmons didn’t really have his schtick nailed down yet, and his efforts to project a menacing, demonic character fall WAY flat, as if to answer the question of what shock-rock looks like without shock. His professed desire to drink the audience’s blood and his self-characterization as “evil incarnate” barely seem to elicit much more than a shrug from the audience.

The interview is saved by a pretty amazing exchange between Simmons and old-school comedienne Totie Fields, who joked that it would be funny if Simmons, under the makeup, turned out to be “just a nice Jewish boy.” Simmons, of course, is not just an actual Jewish boy, but an Israeli sabra born Chaim Witz, and he drolly (and pretty Jewily) retorted “You should only know…” Fields owned the moment by interjecting “I DO! You can’t hide the hook!” Fields herself was born Sophie Feldman, and could probably spot a Member of the Tribe using a showbiz pseudonym a mile away.

The appearance also includes Douglas interviewing the winners of a kissing contest (*eyeroll*), and a band performance—as in an actual live-in-studio performance, it’s not mimed—of the early song “Firehouse.”
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Heavy Ned-al: there’s a Ned Flanders themed metal band called Okilly Dokilly


 
God save us all, some Simpsons fans in Phoenix have started a Ned Flanders-themed metal band called Okilly Dokilly. They’ve only been together about a month, so they seem to have more band photos than songs at this point, but what band photos!
 

 

 

 
The band is singer Head Ned, keyboardist Red Ned, bassist Thread Ned, guitarist Stead Ned, and drummer (and pseudonym winner) Bled Ned. Head spoke with Rip It Up about the band’s formation.

Myself and our drummer were in line at a grocery store, entertaining ourselves by coming up with really cutesy names for really hardcore, brutal bands. The name Okilly Dokilly came up and was very funny to us. We ran with it. I contacted a few friends, and here we are. Most of us have played in other bands around our hometown. This is definitely the heaviest sounding project any of us Neds have done.

And in case the thought crossed your mind, yes, Head Ned is left-handed, so hooray for cosplay authenticity. The band’s debut performance is scheduled for September 5th, so Phoenician DM readers, mark your calendars. The rest of us will have to be content with scouring YouTube on the 6th, to see if Okilly Dokilly is as good in concert as all-time dork-metal champs BlöödHag.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
John Belushi and Joe Flaherty on Death Row, in a sketch from 1971


 
Listing the notable talents who learned their craft at Chicago’s improvisational theater The Second City is de rigueur for any article that covers the troupe’s illustrious past, so that’s what I’ll do right here. The early casts included Alan Arkin, both Mike Nichols and Elaine May, Del Close (who essentially founded the rigorous form of improv that has blossomed in the last 15 years or so), Joan Rivers, Fred Willard, Peter Boyle, and Robert Klein. In the early to mid-1970s a healthy chunk of the people who would dominate American comedy for the next few decades passed through its doors, including Harold Ramis, Brian Doyle-Murray and his little brother Bill, Shelley Long, Dan Aykroyd, and virtually the entire cast of SCTV, which isn’t very surprising, considering that the name stands for “Second City Television.”

John Belushi was the closest thing American comedy had to a rock star in the 1970s, and his untimely death in 1982 from a cocaine overdose only cemented his outsized legend. By the time he hit Saturday Night Live, Belushi had honed his ungainly and manic brilliance through years of training on stages like that of Second City. Joe Flaherty, while never as big a star as Belushi, was and is similarly a consummate pro, doing a ridiculous number of celebrity impersonations on SCTV as well as enhancing projects as diverse as Johnny Dangerously, Heavy Metal, Detroit Rock City, Used Cars, 1941, Stripes, and, best of all, Freaks and Geeks.

The comedy blog Splitsider recently posted a delicious clip, from Second City’s own archives, that dates from 1971, and it just has to be one of the very earliest records we have of John Belushi plying his craft. Deriving from Second City’s 41st revue from 1971, titled No, No Wilmette, the sketch is called simply “Jail” and it’s a pleasure to watch Belushi’s patient and skillful underplaying. It’s not every sketch that features the hasty preparation for a suicide, as this one does, which might serve as an index to the “revolutionary/countercultural” identity of the Second City players at that time.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Like a great big chicken just waiting to be plucked’—‘Scarface’ edited for TV is plucking HILARIOUS
08.12.2015
07:24 am

Topics:
Amusing
Movies
Television

Tags:
Scarface


 
When I’m King of the Universe, it will be a law that all home video releases of films must include the option of watching the edited-for-broadcast version wherever one exists. I first began to lean toward this policy when, stoned as fuck, I caught The Breakfast Club late at night on a local UHF station (yeah, I’m kind of old.…) and found myself howling with laughter at some of the preposterous dialogue substitutions—for example, the immortal “hot beef injection” line was bowdlerized into “some hot wild affection,” as if the original line wasn’t a euphemism in the first place. But the need for such a law was confirmed to me when, one Christmas, my then-girlfriend gifted me a boxed set of the 1983 Al Pacino remake of Scarface.

It merits mentioning, so I may as well mention it here: Scarface isn’t nearly as good a movie as its reputation would suggest. Which is not to say that it’s bad. It’s not. It’s just not a great movie. If you’re in the mood for astoundingly over-the-top tough-guy posturing and GIANT FUCKING MAYHEM, it’s one of the single most badass films in history, but as a narrative work in the immigrant crime drama genre, it’s far eclipsed by plenty of films you could name, a fair few of which also star Al Pacino. And of course, it distinguished itself in its day as one of the most unabashedly profanity-laden mainstream films ever released, almost in a class all it’s own before the f-bomb-a-thon The Big Lebowski emerged as a challenger. And one of the DVD extras in that boxed set was a montage comparing the original dialogue to the censored scenes in the movie’s broadcast TV version. It’s some pretty entertaining shit. I honestly would have thought it couldn’t be done, and really, I was kinda right.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
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