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Holy freakout Batman! Frank Zappa and ‘The Boy Wonder Sessions’
01.25.2017
03:39 pm

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Music
Television

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The song embedded below, believe it or not, is actually a collaboration between Burt Ward, better known as “Robin” on the 60s Batman TV series, and Frank Zappa. Long circulated on variously titled bootlegs, “The Boy Wonder Sessions” were recorded in 1966 with Mothers of Invention (and Velvet Underground) producer Tom Wilson at the mixing desk. Mothers Jimmy Carl Black, Elliot Ingber and Roy Estrada are present, however Zappa himself doesn’t actually play on these sessions, although he arranged and wrote most of the material recorded. Note the bit that sounds like Zappa’s later “Duke of Prunes” composition near the end. This has Zappa written all over it in so many ways.
 

 
From Burt Ward’s autobiography, Boy Wonder, My Life In Tights:

I should have had the wisdom I now have when I signed a recording contract with MGM Records- I wouldn’t have signed it. MGM staffer Tom Scott [I think he means WIlson] was assigned as my producer. He brought in one of the visually wildest groups imaginable as my backup band, the Mothers of Invention. What a sight! Neanderthal. They had incredibly long, scraggly hair, and clothes that appeared not to have been washed in this century if ever. These were musicians who became famous for tearing up furniture, their speakers, their microphones and even their expensive guitars onstage. They were maniacs!

Of all the people in the world to team with this wild and crazy bunch, I can’t believe I was the one. The image of the Boy Wonder is all American and apple pie, while the image of the Mothers of Invention was so revolutionary that they made the Hell’s Angels look like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Even I had to laugh seeing a photo of myself with those animals.

Their fearless leader and king of grubbiness was the late Frank Zappa. (The full name of the band was Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.) After recording with me, Frank became an internationally recognized cult superstar, which was understandable; after working with me, the only place Frank could go was up.

Although he looked like the others, Frank had an intelligence and education that elevated him beyond brilliance to sheer genius. I spent a considerable amount of time talking with him, and his rough, abrupt exterior concealed an intellectual, creative and sensitive interior.

For my records, the plan was to record four sides and then release two singles prior to producing an album. After listening to me sing, Frank got a wild idea to make use of my hideous voice to do a hilarious recording with a song that had some of the Batman feel to it. He picked “Orange Colored Sky.”

I can’t bear to think of this song. The memories are too embarrassing. Though the intent was to create comedy by putting my lousy singing to good use, the actual result was so disastrous that the studio thought the tape had been left out in the sun and warped. They insisted on re-recording.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘No Nirvana’: Jane’s Addiction, Sonic Youth, Screaming Trees & more live on UK TV in the early 90s
01.25.2017
10:22 am

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Heroes
Music
Television

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An early shot of Jane’s Addiction.
 
The Late Show was a multi-topic program broadcast on BBC2 which featured issues of cultural importance such as art, books, films and segments dedicated to more socially conscience topics such as military conflicts and religion. Not to diminish such things, they also featured live musical performances by musicians and groups such as XTC, the ethereal Jeff Buckley and The Stone Roses who appeared on the show in during its first year in 1989. In 1993 The Late Show broadcast a special called “No Nirvana” that featured a collection of what is referred to as the all encompassing sounding “contemporary American rock bands” that had previously appeared on the show. 

The title of the show was allegedly intended to be a joke directed at The Late Show itself because for some reason the band had never appeared on it. Most likely because they had suddenly become the biggest band in the world after the release of their 1991 album Nevermind. The grouping for The Late Show’s late-night Contemporary American Rock lovefest delivered was to say the least, a pretty solid knockout punch when it came to the lineup. Though they were part of the original broadcast, performances by Pearl Jam (doing “Alive”) and Rage Against the Machine (performing “Bullet in the Head”) are not included in the footage below. What you will see are Jane’s Addiction pulling off a great version of “Been Caught Stealing,” Sonic Youth’s killer version of “Drunken Butterfly,” Seattle grunge heroes Screaming Trees led by a long-haired Mark Lanegan doing “Dollar Bill,” and more from the likes of Belly, Dinosaur Jr. (with a nearly unrecognizable J Mascis), Smashing Pumpkins, Minneapolis band Sugar, and R.E.M.

Watch after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘Twin Peaks’ vinyl figures to be released in March
01.24.2017
09:27 am

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Pop Culture
Television

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Two months before Twin Peaks is set to premiere on May 21, toy manufacturer Funko will be releasing their Pop! Television line of vinyl figures depicting characters from the beloved reborn cult TV series. The figures are expected to be in stores by the end of March 2017.

The Pop! toys feature Laura Palmer, Dale Cooper, Audrey Horne, the Log Lady, Leland Palmer and Killer Bob.


 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Look Look,’ the XTC home video companion
01.20.2017
10:47 am

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Music
Television

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Before YouTube’s algorithm served up the XTC home video Look Look a few weeks ago, I knew of it only as the last line in the discography that concludes Chris Twomey’s fan bio Chalkhills and Children. The lone entry under “VIDEO,” sharing the book’s last page with Johnny Japes and his Jesticles’ single, “Bags of Fun with Buster,” its position in the band’s oeuvre is unexalted. But Look Look deserves better: it brings together all the videos (or “promo films,” if you prefer) XTC made between 1978 and 1982, the period of quality encompassing White Music and English Settlement.

I don’t remember seeing any XTC videos other than the one for “Dear God” when I was growing up, though I was always searching for them. MTV was too busy making our country stupid with a diet of shit and garbage. (Waiter, I can’t eat this shit—it tastes like garbage! But I did catch “Towers of London” maybe, once, late at night?) Released in PAL format in the UK and NTSC in Japan, never issued in the US, Look Look did me no good until it surfaced on the web.
 

 
The tape is about to turn 35, so I would not hold my breath waiting for it to come out on DVD. Anyway, its considerable charms are well-suited to YouTube. These low-budget videos are livened up with such props as bounce houses and banks of TVs, such special effects as rear projection and chroma key, and such unlikely characterizations as Andy Partridge’s evil clown in “Making Plans for Nigel” and Colin Moulding’s straitjacketed puzzle-factory dweller in “Ball and Chain.” Snippets from interviews with Partridge and Moulding set up a few of the clips. Oh, and look look for Richard Branson in the “Generals and Majors” video, playing one of the song’s villains.

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Grace Slick says ‘f*ck’ on American TV for the very first time, 1969
01.18.2017
05:00 pm

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Music
Television

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Watch below as Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick becomes the very first person in history to say “fuck” on American television on August 19th, 1969—the day after Woodstock—on The Dick Cavett Show. Technically the whole band pretty much sings “fuck” if you want to split hairs. Someone had to do it first, I’m glad it was the Airplane.

“We Can Be Together” was the lead-off number on the band’s politically radical Volunteers album and the B-side for the “Volunteers” single. Due to the group’s unique contract for the times—they had complete artistic control—RCA had to go along with whatever the Jefferson Airplane wanted, including “shit” and “motherfucker” appearing in their lyrics. For the single, the “motherfucker” was mixed low, but not actually bleeped.

The song’s music and lyrics are credited to Paul Kantner, who claimed to be inspired by the Black Panther Party’s use of the “Up against the wall, motherfucker” battle cry, itself a phrase 60s activists often heard coming from police and national guardsmen during that tumultuous era.

Kantner also cribbed some (nearly all) of the lyrics from something called “The Outlaw Page” that appeared apparently first as a leaflet and then in the East Village Other underground newspaper. “The Outlaw Page” was a polemic written by a guy called John Sundstrom, who was a member of an anarchist/Situationist-inspired Lower East Side-based “street gang with analysis” called the Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers [UAW/MF] whose name came from a poem titled “Black People!” by Amiri Baraka. The Motherfuckers, whose unprintable name made them virtually press-proof, were involved with storming the Pentagon, setting up crash pads in New York City for counter culture types and the occupation of Columbia University. Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse’s stepson, Tom Neumann was an early member.
 

 
Sweet young Joni Mitchell had just finished singing her lovely, lilting “Chelsea Morning,” when big bad Grace belted these words out to an unsuspecting America:

We are all outlaws in the eyes of America
In order to survive we steal cheat lie forge fuck hide and deal
We are obscene lawless hideous dangerous dirty violent and young
But we should be together

Come on all you people standing around
Our life’s too fine to let it die and
We can be together

All your private property is
Target for your enemy
And your enemy is We

We are forces of chaos and anarchy
Everything they say we are we are
And we are very
Proud of ourselves
Up against the wall
Up against the wall motherfucker…

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
A treasure trove of rare Monty Python memorabilia is up for grabs!
01.18.2017
02:13 pm

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Amusing
Heroes
Television

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Canned Dead Parrot. Created in 1994 by Bear, Bear & Bear LTD. Prior to obtaining an official licence from the Python’s, the company did their best to rip off the “Dead Parrot” Sketch” from 1969. Although the can does not contain any direct mention of Monty Python, it’s very clearly a reference to their famous skit. Inside the can is a plastic bird cage with a toy parrot hanging upside down. 
 
If your dream has been to one day be the proud owner of a loo roll (that’s toilet paper for our non-UK readers) officially sanctioned by Monty Python’s Flying Circus, then today my silly-walking friend is your lucky day. According to the website Monty Python’s Daily Llama there are allegedly 1,500 different items currently up for auction, such as the promotional foot that was created in conjunction with the Spamalot musical at New York’s Shubert Theatre in 2005, and an actual container of “Canned Dead Parrot” which is a clever nod to one of the most memorable moments from the Flying Circus television series (the Dead Parrot Sketch performed by John Cleese and Michael Palin). Many of the items were produced in small quantities like the 1072 bottles of “Spamalot” steak sauce that were released in 2007 in honor of the musical’s run at London’s Palace Theatre, making them incredibly rare collectibles in many cases.

If you’re a Python super-fan like I am I’m sure you’re going to strongly consider picking up something from the auction, which includes a wide array of vintage posters from the U.S. and Germany and a even copy of the 1990 Monty Python’s Flying Circus computer game from 1990. Say WHAT? More information on the items up for auction can be found on Monty Python’s Daily Llama. I’ve posted a number of my favorite items from the auction below along with some background information pertaining to their creation, rarity and history. As great as some of this stuff is I would have liked to have seen a piece of “Venezuelan Beaver Cheese,” a “hovercraft full of eels” or even an action figure based on Michael Palin’s bicycling enthusiast “Mr. Pither.” But you can’t always get what you want, can you?
 

This computer game was the very first officially licensed product by Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Made by Core Design, the same company that put out ‘Tomb Raider,’ the 2D shooter had the players help “D.P. Gumby” find four missing pieces of his brain.
 

“Gumby” plush figures. Ranging in size from nine, twelve and fourteen inches tall these plush figures were the first toys officially licensed by the Pythons.
 

Another cheeky creation from Bear, Bear & Bear LTD. Incredibly this roll of toilet paper contains famous images and quotes from the ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ TV series such as the “Ministry of Silly Walks”; “Nudge, Nudge”; everyone’s favorite gender-bending sing-along “The Lumberjack Song” and others. Comes with faux fingerprints in accordance with the box’s claim that this TP is in “slightly used” condition.
 

This promotional “coconut” was sent to members of the press and Python VIPs as a part of the “Special Edition” release of ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ by Columbia/Tristar Home Entertainment. An actual coconut it was outfitted with a zipper in the middle that when opened revealed a promotional t-shirt.
 
More Monty Python memorabilia for you to spend your money on, after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Japanese noise musicians take over Italian TV to spread disease and confusion, 1997
01.12.2017
09:02 am

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Music
Television

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Hijokaidan live (via Pinterest)
 
This would have been unthinkable on American TV in the nineties, and it was probably unthinkable on Italian TV, too. One day in 1997, Hiroshi Hasegawa and Mayuko Hino of C.C.C.C. and Junko and Jojo Hiroshige of Hijokaidan appeared on Italy’s TMC2 network to spread disease and confusion with scabrous noise alone. (I see no flying bags of urine on this tape, but I assume that’s because they each left one in the Trevi Fountain, come si deve.)

I don’t know the name of the show, but I read that it’s hosted by Italian TV presenter and punk/industrial fan Red Ronnie. Fortunately, this is not a video about which very much needs to be said; in the wise words of Aerosmith, “just push play.”

Unless you are an italophone, I would recommend skipping to the beginning of the punishment at 2:50. They stop playing for several minutes in the middle of the clip so the host can read comments off an ancient 1997 computer screen and members of the audience can express their worthless opinions of the performance. As tends to be the case with noise sets, the real shit comes at the very end, from about 14:18 on.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Before ‘Atlanta’ there was Donald Glover’s ‘Clapping for the Wrong Reasons’
01.09.2017
06:00 pm

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Hip-hop
Television

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Last night Donald Glover and Atlanta won well-deserved Golden Globes for “Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy” and “Best Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy” for the show’s creator, writer and star. Despite these awards—and a slew of others Atlanta and Glover have won or been nominated for—I’d wager that much of America has still to catch up with the FX network’s breakout new hit. If you fall into that category, you need to change that status, stat, jack.

Several friends of mine were raving about Atlanta after it premiered in September, but I was too preoccupied with hate-watching a reality show called “Election 2016” to take much notice at first. By the time I finally sat down to watch Atlanta, five episodes had already piled up and I greedily watched all five one right after the other. Had there been more I’d have watched the entire series then and there. I loved Atlanta. My wife loved it as much as I did. There is so much great television on today that to designate just one show as the very “best” is a difficult task, but even still, Atlanta is what comes immediately to mind when I ponder what that one best current TV show would be. With Rotten Tomatoes giving Atlanta a 100% approval rating and Metacritic bestowing upon it a 90 out of 100 score, clearly many other people feel the same.

It was a few episodes in—the one where Earn wants to sell his sword to raise some quick money—when I put my finger on exactly what I believe makes Atlanta feel so fresh and special—and just that much of a cut above anything else—in a sea of admittedly ultra great competitors. Dig the shot where they walk into the pawn shop. Watch the choreography of how the camera moves, watch what the actors do, notice the color palate going on. “Clearly the director [Hiro Murai] has watched every single Godard film” I remarked to my wife, but that’s what it was: Atlanta is shot like a European arthouse film that is bogged down by exactly zero of the standard tropes of American sitcoms. It’s one of the most cinematic things ever produced for TV that is, essentially still a situation comedy. Compare and contrast it with, say, Seinfeld. There are a lot of things you could find that the two shows had in common, but stylistically speaking, there are just about none.
 

 
With the sharpest writing around, a cast of some of the most charismatic young actors working today and the insanely brilliant comedic timing of Ivy League-trained thespian Brian Tyree Henry as “Paper Boi” there’s already a level of excellence afoot here, but again, it’s the attention to detail that gives the impression that we’re looking at a finely cut diamond. Another key element of Atlanta‘s success is the incorporation of casually oddball events that call attention to themselves just for a moment before the characters move on. Who doesn’t have quirky encounters on a daily basis? Atlanta is great at capturing how mundanely surreal life can be—not something that’s easy to accomplish—and does so better than anything else currently on television

Which brings me to Clapping for the Wrong Reasons, a short film that Glover wrote and starred in (playing himself to a certain extent) and Murai directed. Clapping for the Wrong Reasons was produced to promote Glover’s second Childish Gambino album Because the Internet in 2013. Filled with the same sort of attention to small details as Atlanta, Clapping for the Wrong Reasons—which takes place high in the Hollywood Hills under much different socio-economic circumstances—plays slower but has some wonderful (and wonderfully strange) moments. I don’t want to imply that it was a dry run for Atlanta—because I do not think that was the case—but if you’re hankering for something more produced by the same creative team, it’s the next best thing.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
That time Elvira & ‘Ralph Malph’ (dressed up like Gene Simmons) were on ‘CHiPs’
01.05.2017
09:58 am

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Amusing
Occult
Pop Culture
Television

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Erik Estrada as ‘Officer Frank Poncherello’ (AKA “Ponch”) and Donnie Most in character as ‘Moloch’ from the ‘CHiPs’ episode ‘Rock Devil Rock’ that aired on October 31st, 1982. 
 
Like many of you, I spent much of my youth just like the character of “Mike Teavee” from the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory did—watching a ridiculous amount of prime time televison programming. What’s especially fun about reflecting back on many of those shows are the occasional appearances of rock and roll luminaries like Suzi Quatro jamming with her fictional band on Happy Days as the awesome “Leather Tuscadero,” Debbie Harry canoodling with Kermit on The Muppet Show, or Plasmatics powerhouse Wendy O. Williams and her Emmy-worthy performance as the ass-kicking “Big Mama” on an episode of MacGyver (“Harry’s Will”). Today I’ve got something that transcends all that as it involves actor Donnie Most who played “Ralph Malph” on the aforementioned Happy Days and his appearance on the goofy TV cop drama based on the California Highway Patrol CHiPs playing “Moloch.” Moloch was a satanic mashup of Gene Simmons and King Diamond in full makeup, clad in red spandex and a fucking cape. And he was played by Ralph Malph of all people!

If you’ve never seen this episode of CHiPs (which is completely understandable) you are in for a treat as it also features Cassandra Peterson all dolled up like her gothy alter-ego Elvira and get this—current Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo (who was only eighteen at the time) playing a character called “Flippy.” Flippy! I’ve included a few images of Mr. Most getting into character as well as some faux concert footage and an amusing Moloch “video shoot” that must be seen to be believed. If you need another reason to watch then here it is—Donnie “I still got it!” Most provided his own vocals for the song “Devil Take Me.” Fuck yes. You can watch the entire episode on iTunes for three bucks and it’s worth every goddamned penny.
 

 

 
More ‘Moloch’ after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘Listen to Me Now’: John Belushi’s high school garage band was actually not half bad!
01.03.2017
11:26 am

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Music
Television

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Last summer DM told you all about the time that the late, great sketch comic/actor John Belushi sat in on drums with The Dead Boys at CBGB in the ‘70s. We noted in that post that Belushi’s best known connections to the music world were his creation of that most transcendent of all wish-fulfillment projects The Blues Brothers, and his championing of the notorious punk band Fear as musical guests on Saturday Night Live. A commenter on that post helpfully pointed out that Belushi’s interest in music didn’t just strike him when he became known, he had a history in the ‘60s garage rock scene, and there’s a collectible artifact to prove it.

In 1965, Belushi was the drummer for a band called the Ravens, who made the 40-minute trek east from Wheaton, IL to Chicago to record a single. The A side was an original called “Listen to Me Now,” and the flip was a Kingsmen cover, “Jolly Green Giant.” Online sources vary in this estimate, but as few as 40 and as many as 200 copies may have been pressed. It’s unclear how popular the band was—they’re mentioned in Dean Milano’s The Chicago Music Scene: 1960s and 1970s, but judging by the brief and modest description, that noteworthiness is clearly a product of Belushi’s later fame moreso than the band’s contemporary following:

Before he became known and loved by the world through his comedy, John Belushi played drums in a rock band called the Ravens in his hometown of Wheaton. The band played the local youth center and area high school dances. Members included Belushi, Phil Special, and Dick and Mike Blasucci. Eventually Belushi’s drums were sold to a local music store where they were used to give drum lessons to aspiring rock and rollers.

If you’re interested in that detail about the afterlife of Belushi’s drum set, it’s related in more depth here.

In 2011, the Chicago-based garage/psych/punk label Alona’s Dream reissued that lone Ravens single, which had the amusing unintended effect of making John Belushi posthumous labelmates with Rights of the Accused and The Necros. The reissued 7” was pressed in an edition of only 200, so it’s still a scarce item. YouTube was unaccomodating of our wish to share “Jolly Green Giant” with you, but thanks to the reissue, “Listen to Me Now” is easy enough to hear. It’s a first-person account of a guy with a new girlfriend who’s nonetheless still pining for his ex.

Guys can be dicks like that, sometimes.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
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