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This ‘King of the Hill’/‘Spiderland’ mashup could not be more perfect
03.30.2016
01:32 pm

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Music
Television

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Hey Internet, can we get this fantastic image on a T-shirt, please? Thanks so much.

Most readers of this site will be familiar with the iconic cover art of Slint‘s second and final album Spiderland, released in 1991.

This amusing reworking inserts the familiar foursome of idle males from the long-running FOX series King of the Hill into the album cover. So according to this, moving from left to right, Dale is bobbing where Todd Brashear once bobbed, Bill is Brian McMahan, Hank is Britt Walford, and Boomhauer is David Pajo.
 

 
As we learned a couple years back, the quarry in which the picture was taken is located in or around Utica, Indiana, not far from Louisville, whence the band hailed. The original photograph was taken by Will Oldham.

This clever image appears to be the product of a fellow named J.W. Friedman, who along with the intrguingly named Chris Collision runs I Don’t Even Own a Television, which is a “podcast about bad books.” Hats off to you!

After the jump, there’s an 8-bit rendition of “Good Morning, Captain”...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Kinks showcase a storming selection from ‘Sleepwalker’ live in 1977
03.30.2016
10:58 am

Topics:
Heroes
Music
Television

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1973 was not a good year for The Kinks. Personal problems, changes in line-up and a whole shift in the music scene led Kinks frontman and main songwriter Ray Davies to question what he was doing with his life. In June of that year, Davies’ wife Rasa left him taking their children with her. It sent Davies into a major depression.

During the band’s headline concert in July at the White City Stadium in London, Ray Davies announced from the stage he was quitting the band. According Roy Hollingsworth in his review of the gig for music paper Melody Maker:

Ray Davies should never have been at London’s White City Stadium, on Sunday. Physically, and more important, mentally. Davies was in no fit condition to play. And in no fit condition to stand on a stage and say that he was quitting, He was a man neck-high in troubles, and when he shouted “I quit,” he should have shouted “Help!”

Ray looked frightening in dark glasses for the sun wasn’t shining … He was a wreck that evening … Davies swore onstage. He stood at the White City and swore that he was ‘F—ing sick of the whole thing … Sick up to here with it … and those that heard shook their heads.

After this tirade, Ray walked across to his brother, guitarist Dave, kissed him on the cheek and exited the stage. He then collapsed from a massive overdose of “valium.” According to Dave Davies this was the night Ray had “tried to top himself.”

I thought he looked a bit weird after the show—I didn’t know that he’d taken a whole bloody bottle of weird-looking psychiatric pills. It was a bad time. Ray suddenly announced that he was going to end it all—it was around that time that his first wife left him. … She’d left him and taken the kids on his birthday, just to twist the blade in a little more. … I think he took the pills before the show. I said to him towards the end that he was getting a bit crazy. I didn’t know what happened—I suddenly got a phone call saying he was in the hospital. I remember going to the hospital after they’d pumped his stomach and it was bad.

During his recuperation in hospital Ray spent much of his time listening to Gustav Mahler’s Second Symphony The Resurrection—the story of one man’s redemption and resurrection after death, which Ray described as “a moving piece of music.” It made him think about taking the band in a more theatrical direction.

When Dave came to visit him, Ray told his brother he no longer wanted to just be a rock band but “wanted to explore the idea of rock theatre, something no one else had really done before.”
 
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In many respects this idea—or concept albums similar to this idea—exactly what The Kinks had been experimenting with since The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society in 1968, and had continued with in Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) (1969), Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One (1970), Everybody’s in Show-Biz (1972) and Preservation Act 1 in July 1973.

Out of hospital, Davies returned to the band and started mining his “rock theatre” idea with Preservation Act 2 (1974), Soap Opera—which was made into a TV musical extravaganza Star Maker (1974), and Schoolboys in Disgrace (1975). Though each of these albums has its merits—and all deserve considerable reappraisal—they performed poorly in the charts and did little to keep The Kinks relevant with a younger audience. In hindsight, none of this matters much as the quality of the songs and Ray’s ideas have outlasted the fickle fancies of pop fashion. However, the Kinks’ record company was not impressed and demanded that the band’s next album had to be a stand alone traditional collection of good songs—as if such a thing can be ordered to suit.

In 1976, Davies therefore started writing a non-concept album Sleepwalker, which was released in February 1977. Though the songs still reflect Davies’ own preoccupations—the title track dealt with the singer’s insomnia after moving to New York—it was the first album to give The Kinks a top fifty placing since the singles “Lola” and “Apeman” in 1970.

Sleepwalker was generally well received—Melody Maker said the record was “the group’s strongest and most organised album in years” which:

...emphatically testifies to the dramatic artistic revival of Raymond Douglas Davies, whose supreme talents as a writer have been so distressingly overlooked during the first half of this decade.

 
The Kinks showcase ‘Sleepwalker’ and more, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Frank Zappa: Shut Up ‘n’ Play yer Bike!
03.29.2016
09:41 am

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Amusing
Heroes
Television

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Long time ago on British TV there was what I guess you might call a talent show titled Opportunity Knocks. Each week host Hughie Greene offered young hopeful singers, comedians, magicians, variety acts, you know the kinda thing, the opportunity to make it big.

Among those who did make it big were the likes of Mary Hopkins who sang “Those Were the Days” and was quickly signed to The Beatles record label Apple. There were quite a few others who are better known over here than over in the US.

And of the many people who did take part but never made it big, there was always some kind of novelty act—a bodybuilder who flexed his muscles and inflated hot water bottles with his mighty breath; impressionists whose speciality was imitating the sound of railway engines and planes taking-off; belly dancers; bird-handlers who pushed little budgerigars on rope swings then made them hop thru flaming hoops; and last but certainly not least, those hobbyists who made music out of everyday objects such as kettles, washboards, radiators, hoover attachments and alike.
 
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These freaks reminded me of Frank Zappa’s appearance on The Steve Allen Show in 1960, when the precocious young musician impressed with his ability to play a bicycle.

At the time, Zappa was earning a living playing cocktail lounges and writing a score for a film called The World’s Greatest Sinner. As he explained to Steve Allen during his appearance he had also written a “bicycle concerto.”

I suppose I have to ask, what kind of twenty-year old goes on national TV to promote himself as a player of the bicycle other than one who is utterly desperate for recognition? Not just any kind of recognition but one that highlights an interest in the avant garde, some serious musical intent and (you guessed it) a zany sense of humor.

That Zappa pulls off all three says much for his talent, ego, and ambition.

Watch the video, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘We’re addicted to making fools of ourselves’: The Replacements’ ‘shaved eyebrows’ interview, 1987
03.28.2016
09:30 pm

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Music
Television

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The Replacements had a reputation for unpredictable live shows—gleefully raucous one night, drunk and disorderly the next. With the 1986 sacking of founding lead guitarist Bob Stinson—a move the band made, in part, due to his increasingly erratic behavior—many assumed the ‘Mats would clean up their act.

With new guitarist Slim Dunlap in tow, the unit hit the road in the spring of 1987 in support of their latest LP, Pleased To Meet Me. Though they were indeed more reliable, the band didn’t exactly get sober, and they could still flop like murder on stage, especially if there was something at stake. For a June gig in L.A., in which numerous staff from their record label were in attendance, they rose to the occasion by performing a set of songs that consistently didn’t reach the finish line (reportedly only one was seen to completion), and handing off their instruments to audience members. They would return to the west coast for a final run of dates in December, with pals the Young Fresh Fellows as their openers, culminating with a now legendary disaster of a show in Portland (the night ended with the Replacements playing in their underpants). ‘Mats ringleader Paul Westerberg felt so bad about the performance that he wrote the song “Portland” as an apology.
 
Portland
Members of both bands on stage during the infamous Portland gig.

Prior to the concluding shows of the Pleased To Meet Me outing, the Replacements were having drinks with Scott McCaughey, the singer/guitarist of the Young Fresh Fellows. Perhaps the rigors of touring (along with the alcohol) had gotten to them, as the boys decided to do something most wouldn’t do if you paid them: They shaved their eyebrows. The episode was recounted in Bob Mehr’s fantastic biography, Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements.

On December 1st, the band was hanging out at Seattle’s Mayflower Hotel bar with Scott McCaughey when Westerberg suggested they all shave their eyebrows. “By the time we actually got done with it,” said bassist Tommy Stinson, “the feisty stage was over, and it was like, ‘Oh . . . shit. I’m going to bed. I hope this goes away by the time I wake up.’ It didn’t.”

McCaughey later recalled that his eyebrows took months to grow back and that he looked like a “cretin” without them.
 
Horsing around
The Replacements and the Young Fresh Fellows horsing around in 1987. Note: Eyebrows still intact.

The below interview with the Replacements was recorded for MTV’s The Cutting Edge Happy Hour, hosted by Peter Zaremba of the Fleshtones. The show taped in Hollywood, so the segment was likely videoed when the band rolled through Southern California a few days after the Seattle incident. Looking as they did—ragged from the road and just plain weird without their eyebrows—most groups would’ve cancelled a scheduled television appearance, but not the Replacements. After all, this is the rock-n-roll combo that took the concept of shooting yourself in the foot and made it into an art form.

A variety of topics are covered in the clip—as well as excerpts from their contrary videos—including the elephant in the room: Why’d they shave their eyebrows? According to Westerberg, they did it in order to prank McCaughey’s band-mates.

But who was the joke really on?!
 
Paul Westerberg
 
The picture quality ain’t the greatest, but it’s classic ‘Mats, so just watch it already.
 

 

 

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
‘Love Bites’: Watch the Buzzcocks on ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test,’ 1978
03.28.2016
12:16 pm

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Music
Television

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When Howard Devoto left the Buzzcocks in 1977 to found Magazine, it left full control of the creative direction the band in the hands of Pete Shelley. The Buzzcocks’ first full album, recorded without any Devoto involvement, was Love Bites, released on September 22, 1978. A couple of months later, on November 14, 1978, the Buzzcocks took to The Old Grey Whistle Test to play two of its standout tracks.

The appearance of the Buzzcocks on The Old Grey Whistle Test was something of an innovation for the show. Annie Nightingale, shown in this clip presenting the band, had already created history by becoming the first female presenter on BBC Radio 1; in 1978 Nightingale became a new presenter on the program, and she was responsible for steering the show away from the country, blues, and prog that had been its bread and butter and for integrating underground music, including punk, into the show’s rotation.
 

 
Not that the Buzzcocks were the first band with any punk/underground cred to appear on the show; they weren’t—preceding them in the calendar year of 1978 were Talking Heads, XTC, the Vibrators, Television, the aforementioned Magazine, and the Ramones; less than a month later X-Ray Spex would appear on the show.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Pee-wee’s Playhouse’ trading cards were the absolute best, right? You betcha!
03.28.2016
09:48 am

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Art
Games
Television

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Last week it seemed like all of America (certainly everyone on my Facebook feed) had taken time out to enjoy the latest installment of insanity from Pee-wee Herman, as Netflix started streaming Pee-wee’s Big Holiday on March 18. I thought it would be a good moment to look back at one of the most exceptional aspects of Pee-wee’s original TV show Pee-wee’s Playhouse that doesn’t get talked about so much anymore, that being the utterly amazing set of trading cards that Topps unveiled to promote the show in 1988.

Seriously, I don’t think trading cards ever got any better than this.

Every package of the Pee-wee’s Playhouse trading cards was conceived as a “Fun Pak” that included a mishmash of items, including cards, stickers, temporary tattoos, and curious little lenticular images. It was truly a bounty—every single package came with enough brightly colored whimsy and silly puns to satisfy even the most immature middle schooler.

This is what a package (in rear) and its typical contents looked like:
 

 
A blog dedicated to the “Topps Archives” provides some crucial detail to the way this set worked, calling it “one of the most innovative sets [Topps] ever produced.” The good writer, going by “toppcat,” points out that “an artist, puppet master and set designer named Wayne White had something to do with the quirky look of the show and presumably the design of the cards. ... Pee-wee’s Playhouse must have been a risk as the show was mid-run in 1988 but that did not stop the creative team from going bonkers.”

The set featured bewildering variety for those accustomed to a simple 34-card series of Planet of the Apes images or whatever. No, the Pee-wee’s Playhouse cards defied the entire concept of sequence lists and categories, with confusingly repeating and mismatched fronts and backs and subsets, which leads to explanations like this: “The lovely Miss Yvonne, the Most Beautiful Woman in Puppetland is not actually #3, that is merely her sub-series number; a total of six represent various characters. Another sub-series is the multi-sticker, of which there are eight….”

The set included puzzle cards, temporary tattoos, activity cards, stickers, “nutty initials” (this one being a reworking of a 1967 Topps series), wigglers, “flying things” cards, playhouse foldies, puppet cards, door cards, disguise cards, and who knows what else!

As an adult looking back on these images, it’s impossible not to see it as the entire run of Art Spiegelman’s RAW repurposed and made accessible (and just as importantly, made more FUN!) for the brighter-than-average teen. The importance of Gary Panter in defining the Pee-wee aesthetic has been well documented, but these cards also featured the artistic input of such comix stalwarts as KAZ and Charles Burns.

Seldom has the trading card public been as dazzled by so much generous variety within a single line! Every single card is brimming with an infectious vitality.
 

 
Much, much more after the jump…....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Peepshow: Watch over two hours of incredible Siouxsie and the Banshees TV performances
03.23.2016
01:29 pm

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Music
Punk
Television

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Fans of Siouxsie and the Banshees had their minds melted when Universal released the three CD and one DVD box set At the BBC back in 2009. At the BBC collected 84 BBC radio sessions, live concert tracks and TV performances recorded between 1977 and 1991. (You can find it reasonably priced used on Amazon these days, for around $20.)

The DVD featured over two dozen live-in-concert sessions shot for The Old Grey Whistle Test, Rock Goes to College, The Oxford Road Show and of course some (barely) lip-synced Top of the Pops appearances. It’s a fantastic visual chronology of one of the greatest and most powerfully iconoclastic bands of the era. Truly this was a group who did things their way. The Cure’s Robert Smith is featured on guitar on several songs, including an early TV session from 1979. We also see the great John McGeoch and their early guitarist, the unsung and underrated John McKay, in action with the Banshees as well.

Most of this stuff has been on YouTube for years, but never before in this sort of quality.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Egyptian Lover’s new ‘infomercial’ is a hilarious tribute to ‘80s late-night ad kitsch
03.23.2016
08:35 am

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Amusing
Hip-hop
Music
Television

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An amusing side effect of rapid technological change is nostalgia for dying and dead formats. It’s not a universal phenomenon—nobody’s misting up over DAT tapes—but it’s certainly prevalent. For my part, I abidingly LOVE vinyl records. But it ain’t 1997 anymore, and lossless digital boasts a demonstrably better frequency range and less harmonic distortion than vinyl, period—that those distortions may sound pleasing doesn’t make them not distortions. For every delusional LP junkie who holds vinyl to be a superior sound reproduction format, there’s also an even MORE delusional record-head who insists that the scratches, pops, and hiss of a beat-ass record actually sound good. That’s freakin’ NUTS—that’s just a consequence of the media’s physicality, if musicians wanted hiss and pops they’d have recorded them and baked them into the mix, and that to me is the end of the discussion unless you want to bring up Christian Marclay. But those flaws that obscure the message the medium is intended to deliver are exactly the things we seem to miss when progress obsoletes a familiar media format.

VHS tape is an apt case in point. For folks like me who are of let’s just say “a certain age,” nth-generation VHS dubs were the lingua franca of video sharing. The distortions that came with multiply dubbing that format were amazing. Colors would sometimes fade, sometimes drastically oversaturate, sound would unpredictably wobble and drop, the tape itself could stretch in spots causing playback to weirdly slow down for just a second, pausing for a long time could cause the play heads in the tape decks to rub the magnetic oxides off the mylar tape… It was kind of a shit medium, optical video media was MILES better and high def digital better still, but since those distinctive distortions were the haze through which I first saw weirdo touchstones like mondo documentaries and the oeuvre of John Waters, I kind of love them. I don’t love them to the point where a transparently exploitative contrivance like “Videotape Store Day” could ever make off with an assload of my money for movies I’ve already seen, but still, I love them.
 

 
A recent example of VHS love gone wonderfully right is videographer Zev Deans’ new ‘80s inspired infomercial for hip hop/electro pioneer The Egyptian Lover, who’s releasing a box set with the self-explanatory title 1983-1988 next month on Stone’s Throw. The video is a dead-on accurate throwback/homage to the era when ads for albums ran on TV with tremendous frequency. Typically these would be thrown-together compilations of whatever could be licensed—classics of the form include “Hey Love” and “Freedom Rock,” or best-ofs for fading fogey country singers like Boxcar Willie and Slim Whitman. The Egyptian Lover video nods to all the foregoing with lashings of degraded VHS distortion, and to boot it throws in a period-appropriate satire of psychic hotlines that features L.A. synth musician/spectacle purveyor Geneva Jacuzzi, herself no stranger to throwback video. There are other bonuses for trainspotters as well, and videographer Deans offered this:

Egyptian Lover is a legend, and for this project, I wanted it to feel like we were digging up a relic from Los Angeles in 1984. Most of this was shot in the back of Good Fred’s LaRutan Barber Shop, and legend has it that Jheri Curl was first bottled and sold at this location. Back in the day, Egyptian Lover’s Egyptian Empire Records office was on the second floor, with the entire 1st floor warehouse used as a dance floor for parties and record storage. You can still see the Giant mural of Egyptian Lover from the street on W54th street!

 

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Siouxsie & The Banshees, Kraftwerk, Suzi Quatro, AC/DC & more on German TV show ‘Rockpop’
03.21.2016
11:00 am

Topics:
Music
Television

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AC/DC rehersing with Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielson for German music TV show
AC/DC jamming with Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielson during rehearsals for the German music TV show “‘Rockpop’ in 1979. You can see footage of Cheap Trick on ‘Rockpop,’here.
 
Today I have the perfect remedy for it sadly being Monday—again!—some incredible footage of bands such as Siouxsie & The Banshees, Kraftwerk, AC/DC, Suzi Quatro, and a number of other notable musical acts performing on German music television’s Rockpop in the late 70s.
 
Suzi Quatro performing on
Suzi Quatro performing on “Rockpop” in 1979
 
Rockpop was aired on German public-service television broadcaster, ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen) starting in 1978 and running until 1982. The show would feature several performances from its diverse selection of musical guests on each episode. Some even performed live, not just miming along to their tunes, like AC/DC, Suzi Quatro, and Wayne County & the Electric Chairs did in 1979.

I’m especially fond of the clip of Siouxsie & The Banshees performing their 1978 single, “Hong Kong Garden” on Rockpop in 1979 (during which a 22-year-old Siouxsie Sioux does a sweet punk rock aerobic routine on stage) to a virtually motionless, rather serious-looking studio audience. In addition to the bands I’ve already mentioned in this post, I’ve also included clips from Rockpop featuring heavy metal heroes like the Scorpions and Judas Priest because the crystal clear footage (in most cases), is just too good not to share.
 

AC/DC performing “Highway to Hell” live on ‘Rockpop’ live in September of 1979.
 
More from ‘Rockpop’ after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
The Munsters live at the Hollywood Bowl, 1964
03.18.2016
08:50 am

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Music
Television

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I know where I would rather be right now: watching the Munsters at the Hollywood Bowl with 10,000 screaming teenagers. Just me, Yvonne De Carlo, and Pat Priest sharing a vanilla Coke in one of those fancy boxes up front as the Munster Koach revs, the Munsters band rocks and the go-go girl frugs. Why, that sounds just fine…
 

 
This audience footage of the Munsters comes from “Y-Day in Hollywood,” which apparently was an annual event sponsored by the YMCA. It sounds more like a county fair than anything the Bowl hosts these days; according to a contemporary newspaper account, the prizes at Y-Day included “enough pancake batter to feed 1,000 people.”

From the October 18, 1964 issue of the Valley News:

The show is being put together by master-of-ceremonies Art Linkletter and will include acts to interest every age group.

Entertaining will be Linkletter, Fess Parker, James Drury and Randy Boone of “The Virginian,” Paul Petersen and Fluffy the lion.

Others are Ray Walston of “My Favorite Martian,” Al Lewis, who plays Grandpa on “The Munsters” and the Munster Singers. Teenage musical favorites on Y-Day include Round Robin, the Superbs, Jan and Dean and John Andrea.

 

 
The Munsters: A Trip Down Mockingbird Lane says the Munsters’ appearance was broadcast on Art Linkletter’s Hollywood Talent Scouts, but fails to report that it is on a constant loop in my beautiful daydreams.
 

 

 
H/T Tom Recchion

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
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