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The Fantastic Adventures of Mr. Rossi: The melancholy and oddly psychedelic children’s cartoon
05.09.2017
02:15 pm
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Signor Rossi—or as he was variously known, Herr Rossi, M. Rossi, Mr. Rossi and Señor Rossi—was the creation of famed Italian animator Bruno Bozzetto when he was just 22 years old. The character debuted in 1960’s Un Oscar per il Signor Rossi. Signor Rossi is a middle-class “everyman” (Rossi is the most commonly found last name in Italy) who would just like to live the easy life (have a vacation, buy a car, go on a safari, win an Oscar, etc.) but somehow always sees his dreams flounder around him. His comic misadventures, often undertaken with his sidekick dog Gastone (“Harold” in English-speaking countries), reflected the social changes then happening in postwar Italian society, including being over-worked and dealing with all manner of pointless bureaucracy. The trippy, ultra-colorful style of animation looked not unlike something that Peter Max might have produced. There were four Signor Rossi shorts made in the 1960s and another three were made in the 1970s before the theme music was changed in 1975 to Franco Godi’s impossibly catchy song “Viva Felicità” (“Viva Happiness”):

Viva, viva happiness,
Tried to catch it, no success,
Viva, viva happiness,

“Hello, I’m Mr. Rossi”

Mr. Rossi, what you want?
All the tray of ice cream cones,
A cocoa castle for a home

Custard cakes, coffee breaks, holiday, we’re all the same.

And then? And then? And then?
Mr. Rossi, what you want?
To drive a fancy rocket car,
Take a shower with champagne,
Tuxedo, Rococo, break(a) the bank at the casino…

And then? And then? And then?

Viva, viva happiness,
Tried to catch it, no success

[spoken quickly:]

Gonna-do-the-happy-dance,
happy-happy-dance,
viva-viva-happy-dance,
over-here-over-there,
over-here-over-there,
should-be-watching-aware
should-be-watching-aware

Sunshine (Sunshine)
Yellow (Sunshine)
Ocean (Ocean)
Lazy (Ocean)
Loving (Loving)
Someone (Loving)
Flowers (Flowers)
Daisy (Flowers)

This is what makes happiness,
You have more than you can guess,
viva, viva, happiness….

 

 
As there was almost no dialogue, the original cartoons had no barriers to being enjoyed by anyone in any language and the show became incredibly popular in Germany, Spain, France, and England. (The Disney Channel in America aired the cartoons in the early 80s). Godi’s theme song undoubtedly helped with the show’s success around the world. Once you have heard its whimsical melody, it’s difficult to ever forget it. If Mr. Rossi kinda/sorta seems familiar to you, all you have to do is listen to his iconic theme music.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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05.09.2017
02:15 pm
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That time the FBI investigated the alleged murder of Trent Reznor
05.09.2017
10:58 am
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Other than the fact that the FBI, the Michigan State Police and Chicago’s finest all believed that Nine Inch Nails vocalist Trent Reznor was dead, 1989 was a pretty good year for NIN. The band released their first album, Pretty Hate Machine which contained the soon-to-be smash single “Down In It” that would help propel NIN to early stardom. Prior to the release of the first song ever written by Reznor, NIN headed to Chicago to shoot a video for the single. And that’s when this story starts to get very, very weird.

In order to achieve the aerial shots for the video, the crew attached balloons to a few cameras. One of the cameras decided to go rogue and floated over 300 miles to Michigan before landing in the middle of a cornfield (I told you things were going to get weird). The camera was then found by a farmer who, after looking at the footage of Reznor covered in cornstarch (in order to enhance his dead-guy look), surrounded by guitarist Richard Patrick and drummer Chris Vrenna, turned it into the police. The footage appeared to be authentically nefarious in nature to the cops who were convinced that the footage in the camera was either the product of some sort of satanic ritual, gang-related slaying or even a suicide.

If you’re a fan of NIN you may already be acquainted with this bizarre bit of history, especially if you also watched the television tabloid show Hard Copy back in the early 1990s. Hard Copy took NIN and Reznor to task then when they ran an exposé on the faux-murder and its lengthy criminal investigation. During the broadcast which originally aired on March 5th, 1991, the show used cheesy “re-enactments” of the “crime” as well as providing equally cheesy and condescending commentary by way of host Alan Frio and the glib curator of the segment, actor Rafael Abramovitz. They even included an interview segment with Reznor himself during which he shared his thoughts about the bizarre debacle:

“When the news came through that this was some sort of a cult killing, and that I had been killed, this great story, my initial reaction was that it was really funny, that something could be that blown out of proportion, and so many people were working on it. And I felt kinda good that the police had made idiots of themselves.”

More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.09.2017
10:58 am
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The low-watt spandex thrills of ‘Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills’
05.09.2017
08:58 am
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Once upon a time, there was a video series called Bikini Crime Fighter—now scrubbed from the internet—that was basically just fledgling actresses in bathing suits running around a park while some wheezy kid with a camcorder chased them.  The best part, really, was that he had no windscreen on the microphone, so all of the dialogue was, basically, “WHOOOOOOSH.” I’m not sure why that technically-challenged auteur took down his work, but I thought it was the stuff of inept, accidental genius, and I haven’t stumbled on anything quite as wrong-headed since. Until now.

This is not a hallucination caused by decades of cathode mind-rot, although it certainly feels that way. This was an actual show on an actual TV network (well, USA), targeting actual tweens in that hazy mid 90’s, pre-internet cultural wasteland when Friends was the biggest show on television and everybody was listening to the fucking Offspring. It was not a popular show and were it not for the now equally flat-lined DVD market that spawned a scruffy reissue set five years ago, it might’ve stayed dead forever. And that would’ve been a shame because Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills was clearly one of the nuttiest, kookiest, kinkiest kids’ shows of all time.
 

 
Inspired by similarly themed Japanese shows and riffing off of Power Rangers and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, TTAFFBH was about a Godlike blob from outer space who forcibly tattoos four rich kids and makes them fight rubber monsters to save the Earth from some asshole named Gorganus. That’s it. That exact plot, over and over, for 40 episodes. The “teens” were all pushing 30 and their outfits consisted of skin-tight spandex and chrome faces that made them look exactly like they were huffing paint shortly before wandering on set.
 

This bird was once a member of The Squigtones.
 
The only cast member of note was David L Lander, AKA Squiggy from Laverne & Shirley. He voiced the bad guy’s pet bird. It’s lame and incredible all at once. It looks like it could devolve into porn at any moment or escalate into a blood-spewing gorefest. It never does either, which is probably why it was canceled in a year. Still, if you like high weirdness on a low-budget, this is well worth a look. It will steal a good chunk of your sanity, but everything’s got a price.
 
Watch it, after the jump…

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Posted by Ken McIntyre
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05.09.2017
08:58 am
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‘It’s Slade’: Glam rock’s fun-loving rowdies
05.04.2017
12:23 pm
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Slade was a uniquely British phenomenon, charting #1 hit after #1 hit in the U.K. from 1971 to 1973 while scarcely making a dent in the U.S. charts (they never cracked the U.S. top 40 in their prime). It’s Slade is a BBC documentary from 1999 that lovingly documents the phenomenal success of the biggest rock stars Wolverhampton ever produced.

The documentary has some slight resemblance to This Is Spinal Tap, particularly the early b/w Thamesmen-ish TV footage of short-haired Dave Hill and Noddy Holder giving McCartney’s “Martha My Dear” their finest effort—and later on, This Is Spinal Tap is referenced in the doc itself in connection with some early Australian dates Slade undertook.

Slade was renowned for intentionally misspelled song titles, mirrored hats, and insanely high platform boots. Their hits “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” and “Cum On Feel the Noize” were appropriated wholesale by Quiet Riot for the MTV generation, but in England they are probably most known for their undying holiday hit “Merry Xmas Everybody.”

More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.04.2017
12:23 pm
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Inside the Batcave: A 1983 news report on the legendary London goth club
05.04.2017
10:11 am
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Liori Patterson at the Batcave, photo by Pierre Terrasson (via Pinterest)

In 1983, the London Weekend Television series Reporting London paid a visit to the Batcave, the discotheque where Bauhaus, Virgin Prunes, Southern Death Cult, and Alien Sex Fiend performed and Siouxsie Sioux, Nick Cave, Marc Almond, David Tibet, and Youth enjoyed themselves. Everyone says it was goth ground zero.

If you use this for makeup tips, bear in mind that it took more than style alone to create a fabulosity so fabulous. David J remembers that people who frequented the Batcave didn’t take themselves too seriously and liked to laugh, and speaking to LWT 34 years ago, Olli Wisdom, who ran the club and sang in the band Specimen, agreed:

It’s the people that make the atmosphere. It’s not “Suck your cheeks in and pose in the corner.” It’s very friendly. Basically, it’s about fun. It’s about having your tongue firmly in your cheek and being able to laugh at the realities of the day-to-day existence.

 

Batcave membership card (via Archive of Ephemera)

The music in the clip may not strike you as especially goth—lots of Bowie, a little Stray Cats and Gary Glitter, even a bit of “Radar Love”—nor the Batcave’s clientele, for that matter: one of the dancers is Morten Harket, the singer of a-ha. No, the evil goth darkness is provided by a Welsh miner named Glyn Jones, who appears on camera drinking a pint with his son, a Batcave habitué:

The first time he comes home, I don’t recognize him. I was repulsed by it. He’d been up in London about a fortnight, and he came home one day with his hair blond, and makeup all over his face, and he took one step in front of the door. I caught him by the throat, and I said, “If you ever come home to Ynysybwl, leave your makeup in London where you can wear it, but down here you just don’t do that sort of thing.” The youngsters up there, you know, you live in a different type of world than we do, simple as that.

 
Watch after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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05.04.2017
10:11 am
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The White Stripes were no Donny & Marie
05.04.2017
09:19 am
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Around 2000 it didn’t take too much of a clue to realize that there was a lot of cool shit going on in Detroit. The powers that be declared it a garage revival, but what it was was just vital rock and roll in the city that had given us Motown and the MC5 and the Stooges. Bands like the Von Bondies, the Detroit Cobras, the Electric Six (formerly the Wildbunch), and the Dirtbombs were on everybody’s lips. The White Stripes’ album White Blood Cells came out in the summer of 2001 and catapulted them to a whole new level.

In 2001 the Dutch TV station VPRO sent a crew to Detroit to document the goings-on, with a focus on (of course) the White Stripes. The program was directed by René Hazekamp and the interviews were conducted by Helmut Boeijen. The Dirtbombs’ Mick Collins is the closest thing the show has to an MC, we follow him around on Detroit’s People Mover as he explains the nuances of the Detroit scene. (Can’t help but think of the Electric Six song “Egyptian Cowboy,” in which Dick Valentine sings that “there’s never any people on the People Mover.”)

Technically, the title of the show is Detroit Rawk!!! In addition to the White Stripes and the Dirtbombs, the program checks in with the Demolition Doll Rods and the Paybacks.

In Jack White: How he Built an Empire from the Blues, Nick Hasted writes:
 

In early November [2001], ahead of the White Stripes’ European return, Dutch TV station VPRO filmed an evocative documentary showing a Detroit scene on the cusp of change. Mick Collins optimistically opined that if the White Stipes were its Beatles, “the Dirtbombs are the Rolling Stones,” while the Paybacks’ Wendy Case described a community that was finally “coalescing,” with bands “helping each other and booking shows together.” ... Did [White] feel obligated to pay attention to other Detroit bands, his interviewer, Helmut Boeijen, perceptively asked. “It feels good to take another Detroit band on tour with us,” Jack said. “They deserve it,” Meg loyally put in. Now he was home, Jack could duck fame’s chores like a naughty kid, as with the previous day’s phone interviews. “I just had my roommate [Ben Swank] do ‘em,” he laughed.

 
Towards the end of the program Jack is explaining that they had turned down a million bucks from the Gap to do a Christmas commercial, and makes the mistake of invoking Donny and Marie. Their friend and manager Arthur Dottweiler hilariously gives them endless shit for it. “You guys are not Donny and Marie!! You think you’re Donny and Marie?? Do you guys have your own network prime time television program??”

Dude did have a point.

Watch it after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.04.2017
09:19 am
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Finally, you can watch David Bowie and Iggy Pop’s daytime TV appearance on ‘Dinah!’ in full
05.03.2017
11:07 am
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The August 1990 issue of SPIN—which came out closer to the Beatles’ appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show than to Lorde’s appearance on SNL a few weeks back—was dedicated to “35 Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” The issue contained a feature that purported to list “35 Greatest Moments in Rock ‘n’ Roll Television.” Here is a sample entry from the list:
 

April 15, 1977: Iggy Pop and David Bowie were guests on Dinah’s Place. Promoting Lust for Life, Iggy and David, along with Tony Sales on bass and Hunt Sales on drums, performed “Sister Midnight” and “Fun Time.” During the interview segment, Bowie was shown in tears from trying to stifle his laughter when Dinah Shore asked Iggy what it felt like to crawl around on broken glass.

 
This was Iggy‘s first appearance on television—if you don’t count Midsummer Rock a television program based on the infamous Cincinnati Pop Festival of 1970—as he says during the lead-in to “Sister Midnight.” As is well known (and as Iggy mentions), the father of the Sales brothers was none other the children’s TV personality Soupy Sales. Ricky Gardiner played guitar that day, Bowie was on the keyboards.

In the pre-Wikipedia days of 1990, it would have been hard to know that Dinah’s Place ended in 1974 and that the show Iggy and Bowie appeared on was called Dinah! Also, Iggy was promoting The Idiot—both of the songs he played are on The Idiot. Lust for Life didn’t come out until August (it was a good year for Iggy, indubitably).

Seated on the panel alongside Dinah is Rosemary Clooney, aunt to George and a successful singer in her own right. It’s hard not to notice that the interface of Dinah/Rosemary on the one side and Bowie/Iggy on the other is a very unusual transmission of the punk/glam ethos to a mostly unsuspecting audience. Iggy is super likeable here, but then again he is usually very likeable.

Dinah asks if Iggy has ever influenced anybody, and he retorts that he “helped wipe out the ‘60s.” This gets a huge laugh, most notably from Bowie himself. Later on Bowie beats himself up for adopting an “American accent.”

SPIN’s account notwithstanding, the moment when Bowie really loses it is during the standing interview segment before “Sister Midnight” when Iggy describes losing his teeth because of “getting too violent onstage” (Iggy’s parents helped pay for the replacements). Dinah wonders whether Iggy’s parents mind that he performs without a shirt—he says they’re OK with it.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.03.2017
11:07 am
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Acid Mothers Temple’s cover of eerie ‘Twin Peaks’ song to be released next week
05.02.2017
01:29 pm
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The whole world is waiting impatiently for the return of Twin Peaks later this month on Showtime. The original run of Twin Peaks on ABC in 1990 and 1991 is one of the pivotal junctures of television history, as the surrealist master David Lynch and his co-consipirator Mark Frost brought new levels of atmosphere and lust to the normally PG-rated confines of network TV, baffling and exasperating audiences with an occult-laced, nightmarish gee-whiz take on the Pacific Northwest that crossed Lynch’s prior hit Blue Velvet with an FBI murder mystery.

After nearly three decades, Lynch is reviving the show, and a certain group of Japanese freaks has taken notice. On May 12, in plenty of time for the premiere of the reboot on May 21, Self Sabotage Records is releasing a split 12-inch with Acid Mothers Temple and The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. from Japan and ST 37 from Texas, U.S.A. both contributing covers of Angelo Badalamenti/Lynch songs from the original run of Twin Peaks. Acid Mothers Temple is covering “Sycamore Trees,” a song sung by Jimmy Scott (as the singer at the Black Lodge) in the final episode of Season 2, and ST 37 is contributing a cover of “Just You,” which appears in the second episode of Season 2.
 

 
The “Just You” scene is one of the more interesting in the first half of season 2. The song itself has a completely otherworldly vocal quality, somewhat like “In Heaven” from Lynch’s masterpiece Eraserhead. In the scene James (played by James Marshall) sings the song in the Haywards’ living room, during which Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) realizes that she is in danger of losing James to Laura Palmer’s cousin Maddie (played, like Laura Palmer herself, by Sheryl Lee). I like the song (and the scene), but a LOT of people find the whole thing cringeworthy. It’s definitely up there in the Lynch pantheon of weird/awesome scenes.

ST 37 is psych/space rock band that was formed in 1987 in Austin, Texas. They’ve put out more than a dozen albums since 1989, the most recent of which is 2014’s I’m Not Good. Describing Acid Mothers Temple is a challenge: It’s the main band of a number of psych rock offshoots founded by guitar legend Kawabata Makoto, who sought to create “extreme trip music” influenced by prog rock and krautrock. Befitting a band that is making trippy jam albums somewhat à la Sun Ra, their (often 2-LP) albums have wordy, spacy titles like The Penultimate Galactic Bordello Also the World You Made or Crystal Rainbow Pyramid Under the Stars.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.02.2017
01:29 pm
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The Replacements get drunk (surprise!) on MTV, 1989
04.28.2017
01:00 pm
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Shortly after the release of Don’t Tell a Soul in 1989, Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson of the Replacements consented to an interview with MTV’s Kurt Loder. I’ve noticed that a few people are suffering from the misapprehension that the Replacments had gotten sober around this time—this video should be enough to convince anyone that this was not the case.

Westerberg and Stinson are funny and charming as fuck and don’t take a damn thing seriously. Loder’s first question involves the band having taken a “new direction” on the latest album—invoking “Gepetto,” Westerberg blurts “Well, we’re ‘mature’ now…..” while pantomiming his nose growing by three feet.

While Loder is inordinately interested in topics that retrospectively seem entirely uninteresting—music videos, the joys of residing in California, sampling, and how the 1980s will stack up in the annals of music history—Westerberg and Stinson ain’t buying.

The ‘Mats had long enjoyed an informal competition with R.E.M. ever since opening for the Athens indie rockers on a mini-tour in the summer of 1983—and this competition was quite mutual, Peter Buck paid close attention to the Replacements’ releases. In Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements, Bob Mehr reports that Westerberg was initially relieved that Don’t Tell a Soul was so much better than Green, but R.E.M.‘s album rapidly hit gold while sales of Don’t Tell a Soul never got off the ground. Westerberg makes a crack to the effect that apparently only “half the people who bought the last one” chose to plunk down their cash for Don’t Tell a Soul.

More of the ‘Mats, after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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04.28.2017
01:00 pm
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Get down, get funky with the Yellow Magic Orchestra on ‘Soul Train’
04.28.2017
10:07 am
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Ten artists who have performed on Soul Train, but one is a lie: Earth Wind & Fire, James Brown, Sugarhill Gang, Stevie Wonder, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Jackson 5, Curtis Mayfield, Otis Redding, Sly Stone, Aretha Franklin. The natural assumption would be to guess YMO, but you would be mistaken. Otis Redding passed away four years prior to the show’s premiere. And as odd as it sounds, YMO were on Soul Train!

Originally airing on November 29th, 1980, the Yellow Magic Orchestra feature on Soul Train was well out of the ordinary; but in no way was it out of place. Playing to an enthusiastic crowd (including their manager dressed as a camera-festooned Japanese tourist), the electronic music pioneers opened with their suitable rendition of Archie Bell & the Drells’ classic 1968 R&B funk track “Tighten Up” followed by their own hit, “Firecracker.”

Having released their first record two years prior, the Yellow Magic Orchestra were the biggest band in Japan by the time they appeared on Soul Train. An even more gratifying accomplishment was YMO’s lasting contribution to the music world as early innovators of the electronic dance music genre. During the brief interview that follows the performance, Don Cornelius asks drummer Yukihiro Takahashi what current sound YMO best resembles? He pauses for a long time before answering. There really was nothing else like the group at that time except, perhaps, for Kraftwerk (who Cornelius was clearly not familiar with).
 
Watch Yellow Magic Orchestra on ‘Soul Train’ after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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04.28.2017
10:07 am
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