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‘Towers of London’: Must-see doc for all serious XTC fans
01.06.2016
09:55 am

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Music
Television

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In late August 1980, XTC spent an extended weekend at Richard Branson’s Manor Studio in order to lay down another version of “Towers of London,” a track that would eventually become the second single off of Black Sea, following “Generals and Majors.” Someone clever at BBC sent a camera crew along to document the proceedings, and the result is the delightful hour-long documentary “XTC at the Manor.”

The “Manor” in question was a legendary estate that Richard Branson purchased in 1971 and promptly turned into a recording studio. (The documentary repeatedly features the memorable image of Branson teetering on one of the building’s many precarious rooftops.) Many, many albums were recorded at the Manor, including Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, PiL’s Metal Box, and Radiohead’s The Bends. In 1995 it ceased being a recording facility.


 
XTC also recorded White Music and English Settlement at the Manor. An interviewer points out that the weekend ends up taking on “a bizarre quality.” Andy Partridge mentions that for the previous album, the sessions were rather “sleepy.” This 1980 stint features the band’s very own bouncy castle—acquired, of course, for the shooting of the video for “Generals and Majors.”

The late, great postpunk website Slicing Up Eyeballs refers to this documentary as airing on BBC2 on October 10, 1980. My info says it was October 8, but it don’t much matter.

This is a must-see for all serious XTC fans.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Retro chicks and robots (sometimes) behaving badly
01.05.2016
10:09 am

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Amusing
Movies
Television

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Actress Caroline Munro and
Actress Caroline Munro and “Elle” the robot from the 1978 film, Starcrash
 
I feel like I’ve been on a bit of a throwback kick for a while now, so I thought I’d keep that retro train running with a photo series depicting cool vintage chicks battling (and sometimes just hanging out with) robots. If you’re a fan of robots and girls, you’ll recognize some of the characters in this post like the Daleks from Doctor Who, “Elle” the dutiful robot who sounds like Yosemite Sam from culty-cool 1978 film, Starcrash or the gorgeous Tina Louise glamming it up with the robot that landed on Gilligan’s Island
 
Bathing beauties and a robot hanging out at the beach, 1920s
Two bathing beauties and a robot hanging out at the beach, 1920s
 
The encyclopedic site Filmsite.org has an exaustive list of films that feature robots dating all the way back to the age of silent films in the early 1900’s. And thanks to that list, I’ve added a few robot-themed films to my queue like 1965’s Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (starring Vincent Price, Frankie Avalon and a bevy of robot women in gold bikinis), which for some strange reason I have never seen. Loads of images of retro girls and robots (sometime behaving badly, making them NSFW), follow.
 
Nude dancers and a robot, 1920s
Nude dancers and a robot, 1920s
 
Bikini girls with a Dalek robot, 1950s
Bikini girl with a Dalek, 1960s
 
More retro babes and robots after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Watch two televangelists defend their private jets
01.04.2016
09:10 am

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Amusing
Belief
Idiocracy
Television
U.S.A.!!!

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Yes, because God had nothing better to do that day than ask you two nitwits about your private planes.

Here’s five nauseating minutes of televangelists Kenneth Copeland and Jesse Duplantis defending their use and ownership of private planes. It was God’s will that Grandma’s Social Security check would be siphoned off towards these gentlemen’s need to travel in style and comfort. I mean, what if they came into contact with demonic DEMONS in a municipal airport? You can’t have that! It’s God’s will.

Send them your money.

 
via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The ‘Twin Peaks’ hangover cure, because we know some of you need it
01.01.2016
01:03 pm

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Drugs
Television

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Overdoing it on New Years Eve is an old, old story, and I’m sure almost all of us over drinking age and plenty of us below it know it well. Taking care of hangover business on the morning after is a rich vein of lore going back centuries; willow bark, milk thistle and all other kinds of exotic flora turn up in that historic lode of iffy advice. My own preferred remedy is more modern: a Pedialyte Advanced Care/Alka Seltzer Plus cocktail, which may sound gross but my hand to the GODS that shit’s a hangover nuke. But the tried and true hot shower/hot coffee/greasy diner breakfast/lots of water is still a champion move, if a bit mundane. And if you’re just an irredeemable imbiber, the hair of the dog that bit you rarely fails, though it’s ultimately just a delay tactic, really.

DM has blogged about a fair few hangover remedies in our distant and more recent past, but we’ve not yet shared a true classic—Agent Dale Cooper’s advice to the ailing Sheriff Harry Truman. You can be forgiven if you missed it, it’s from the 18th episode (out of 22) of the ill-fated second season of Twin Peaks, at which point even a lot of die-hards had tuned out on the show. (The also the episode with the ultra-quotable Agent Cole line “THAT’S THE KINDA GIRL THAT MAKES YOU WISH YOU SPOKE A LITTLE FRENCH!”)

Here’s the clip. We hope it helps, and whether you over-celebrated or didn’t partake at all, we hope you have a great 2016.
 

 
Via Welcome to Twin Peaks, of course

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?’: Watch Tiny Tim’s incredible late-night disco trainwreck
12.24.2015
10:20 am

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Amusing
Music
Television

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Tiny Tim was one of the great oddballs of American popular music. Though viewed by most as a ‘60s novelty act, he was well known in the Greenwich Village folk scene for his encyclopedic knowledge of music from the early 20th Century. Bob Dylan once remarked of his contemporary, “No one knew more about old music than Tiny Tim.”

The singer, ukulele player, and musical archivist discovered his falsetto in the early ‘50s and based his performing career around it and his repertoire of songs from the 1910s to 1930s.

His unusual act lead him to a career-making guest spot on Laugh-In in 1968. He was signed to Reprise records and had a surprise hit with “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” which reached 17 on the Billboard chart.

Though his novelty seemed to wear off in terms of record sales after the release of his first album, God Bless Tiny Tim, he became a staple of TV talk shows . He was famously married to “Miss Vicki” on The Tonight Show in 1969, setting what was then a record, with 40 million viewers watching.

Tiny Tim made a return to The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1979 for this bizarre performance of Rod Stewart’s disco hit “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy.”

Tim sings the verses in his trademark falsetto, but switches to an Elvis-like lower register for the choruses—all the while pantomiming a neurotic nervousness. Halfway through the number, Tim loses his timing and gets ahead of himself with the vocal. Doc Severinsen and the band do their best to adjust the arrangement to the version Tim has in his head. The number devolves into a strip-tease, with Tiny Tim gyrating on the floor (years before Madonna turned heads at the MTV video awards!)

It’s absolutely bizarre and incredibly awesome. He goes from Woody Allen to Iggy Pop in the span of three minutes.

Carson looks completely befuddled by the end of the performance and fittingly quips “there’s just… there’s just… nothing… nothing to be said.”
 

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Have a very scary Christmas with Vincent Price
12.22.2015
09:23 am

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Amusing
Books
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avinxmasprice1.jpg
 
Habits often start through the comfort they give. While the tree may be up, the decorations hung and the lights a-twinkling I never feel truly festive without rereading Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. It’s a habit I started long ago, a ritual you might say, and each holiday I return to those opening lines:

Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge’s name was good upon ’Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

It’s the mix of atmospheric ghost story with a deeply humanist moral that makes Dickens’ tale so irresistible. There were, of course, many other ghost stories before A Christmas Carol but none that so intrinsically linked the festive season with the supernatural.

The story of the ungrateful miser Ebenezer Scrooge finding personal redemption after a visit from three ghosts was inspired by the deleterious effects of the Industrial Revolution on the children of poor and working class families. Dickens was horrified at the conditions of the poor and originally considered writing a political pamphlet to highlight the issue—An Appeal to the People of England, on behalf of the Poor Man’s Child—but thought that such a pamphlet would have only a limited appeal to academics, charity workers, liberal politicians and philanthropists.

After addressing a political rally in Manchester in October 1843, where he encouraged workers and employers to join together to bring social change, Dickens decided that it would be far better to write a story that could carry his message to the greatest number of people. Thus he wrote A Christmas Carol. Since its publication in 1843, it has never been out of print and its humanistic themes—to learn from our mistakes, enjoy the moment and find value in human life not things—continue to inspire generation after generation.

While I enjoy reading Dickens’ tale, I can think of no greater delight than hearing it told by Vincent Price—one of the few voices that could read YouTube comments and make them sound interesting. On Christmas Day of 1949, the debonair Mr. Price hosted a holiday special where he read an edited version of A Christmas Carol....

After the jump, Vincent Price and “the oldest extant straight adaptation” for television of ‘A Christmas Carol.’
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Coldwave: The Nestle ‘Alpine White’ song is the official non-denominational holiday anthem
12.21.2015
09:32 am

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Advertising
Music
Television

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Who else fucks with this jam?
 

 
The most beautiful song to ever hawk white chocolate, “Sweet Dreams,” with its coldwave synths and unforgettably emotive vocals takes a supernatural hold of the listener and doesn’t let go—transporting him or her on a flight of fancy to a magical creamy, dreamy wonderland. The jingle is the epitome of a crisp winter’s day.

The infectious mid-80s earworm, written by award-winning commercial composer Lloyd Landesman, has a frosty, ethereal majesty, making it a perfect choice as a non-denominational Capitalist holiday-season anthem. Here it is, troops! More ammunition for the (absolutely totally real) war on Christmas! Like an Alpine White bar kept in your pocket, may your season be white, sticky, and gooey.
 

 
After the jump “New Romantic Guy” dancing to our new favorite carol, plus the Faith No More cover!

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Imagine that it’s 1968 and you are hearing the Beatles perform ‘Hey Jude’ for the very first time
12.18.2015
11:26 am

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History
Music
Television

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There’s a sweet new HD Beatles VEVO channel that I wanted to call your attention to, dear readers. Utilizing clips taken from the spiffy-looking new 1+ Blu-ray box set, the channel has been uploading these sharp HD music videos for a while now and they’re adding new ones all the time (there’s a lot to work from, the deluxe 1+ BD set has over 50 lovingly restored Beatles promo films).

Embedded below is the famous performance of “Hey Jude” that was broadcast on Frost, the talk/variety show hosted by David Frost in Great Britain on September 8, 1968, and on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in the US a month later, on October 6. (Apparently there was also a version shot with Cliff Richard introducing them.)

TV’s Ready, Steady,Go! director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who would go on to direct Let It Be (and had already produced other film promos for the Fabs, such as the ones for “Rain” and “Paperback Writer”) helmed the production. Paul McCartney designed the set for the shoot, with a two-tiered riser for the orchestra, which took place at Twickenham Film Studios on September 4. It’s worth mentioning that Ringo Starr had actually announced that he’d quit the Beatles just two weeks earlier due to a dust-up with Macca, who’d criticized his drumming on “Back in the U.S.S.R.”

They shot twelve takes, but after that McCartney announced “I think that’s enough.”
 

This is how it looked for most people back in the day. Probably sounded B&W, too! We moderns can now watch The Beatles in HD on bigass flatscreens in 5.1 surround sound.

As you are watching, try to imagine what it was like to hear this for the first time, and also bear in mind that the Beatles had only just released the astonishing Yellow Submarine film a few months prior to this! “Hey Jude” topped the charts in Britain for two weeks and for nine in America, where it became The Beatles’ longest-running #1 single in the US. Without further ado, here it is, “Hey Jude” as it was more or less experienced in its premiere airing. Of course it can now seen in far, far better quality than you’d ever have been able to see it in during those original television broadcasts, back when most people in Britain and America would have been watching it on low resolution B&W TV sets. (The Beatles themselves wouldn’t have even been able to see it in this kind of quality back then either).
 

 
More Beatles in HD after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Break out the acid! Trippy animal band from 70s kids’ show covers ‘The Sweet’
12.17.2015
03:16 pm

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Music
Television

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Animal Kwackers and The Sweet
The Sweet and The Animal Kwackers
 
In addition to the acid, you might want to grab ahold of all of your stash before you watch this crazy, somewhat terrifying clip from a children’s television show broadcast on Yorkshire TV in the UK in the mid 70s called Animal Kwackers. The Animal Kwackers were a Banana Splits-esque animal rock band comprised of Rory (a Rastafarian-looking lion); Twang (a monkey); Bongo, (a dog); and Boots (a tiger).
 
Animal Kwackers!
The Animal Kwackers band in action!
 
“Block Buster!” (also known as “Blockbuster”) was The Sweet’s only UK number one hit and if the urban myth folklore about this particular episode of Animal Kwackers is correct, inside the slightly Sid and Marty Krofft-like costumes donned by the fictional four-piece pop band are rumored to be none other than the members of Slade havin’ a laugh.

The show only ran from 1975-1977 and every episode followed the same formula. Rory, Twang, Bongo and Boots get into a spaceship and make way for “Popland” where they get to help people solve problems as per their motto: “Animal Kwackers always like to help.” Awww.

Other notable songs the Kwackers performed during the show’s short stint are two hits from The Beatles, “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and “Yellow Submarine” both of which I’ve also posted below, as well as the shows glammy intro theme song. In 2012 a two-disc DVD set of all of the surviving episodes of Animal Kwackers was released and you can also get a nifty vinyl soundtrack of themes from show which also includes the Kwackers’ version of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “Yellow Submarine” but sadly, not “Block Buster.”
 

The Animal Kwackers do “Block Buster!”
 
More Animal Kwackers insanity after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘Here we come in high definition…’: See The Monkees as you have never seen them before
12.15.2015
08:19 pm

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Music
Television

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Next month will see the release of The Monkees complete TV series—all 58 episodes plus the feature film Head and the “33 and a 1/3 Revolutions per Monkee” TV special—for the first time in HD video. The deluxe 10 disc Blu-ray box set will be available only via the official Monkees webstore and you can preorder it here. Just 10,000 copies of the set, each individually numbered, will be produced. (It would make the perfect Christmas present for that certain someone, but since it won’t be out until the end of January, it means that certain someone would be getting an “IOU” under the tree.)

Recently they’ve uploaded several videos to the Monkees’ YouTube channel showing the new HD versions of the show versus the “old” versions and the difference is pretty remarkable. I have both of the earlier DVD box set releases and they look, at best, merely okay. It seems like the sources they used were maybe 80s syndication masters (probably analog videotapes) and so this new release—transfered from the original film negatives for the very first time ever—is being eagerly awaited by Monkees fanatics like m’self.
 

The casting ad for ‘The Monkees’ that ran in The Hollywood Reporter on September 8, 1965

Not to sound like a hip tailor, but dig the quality here! It’s interesting to contemplate how much better this classic series will look in 2016—fifty years after The Monkees first premiered on American television in September 1966—than it did when it was first broadcast by NBC in primetime. That year marked the very first time that the three television networks debuted an all color Fall TV line-up. But even if you had the best color TV set money could buy—and not that many Americans did have color TVs at that time—it still wouldn’t have looked anywhere near as sharp and as crisp as what you see here below. Nowhere near as good.
 

 
Beyond that, it also means that this beloved pop culture treasure will live on for another generation of kids. When I was eight, I would happily sit in front of a shitty B&W TV set and watch a Marx Brothers movie on a flickery UHF channel. No normal kid would ever do that today, but The Monkees in HD could be the kind of thing that parents weary of incessant screenings of SpongeBob SquarePants cartoons might be able to convince their kids to get into. It’s probably worth a try.

After the jump, an exclusive clip of the Monkees in HD…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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