New York, 1999: Blondie’s first show in their home city for 17-years.
Having split-up in November 1982, Blondie’s started reform as a band in 1996, when Debbie Harry and Chris Stein contacted original members Clem Burke, Jimmy Destri, and Gary Valentine. This tentative re-grouping led to a tour and eventually a mixed-bag of an album No Exit, which was recorded without Valentine, who was once again out of the band by 1997. No Exit gave Blondie, their first UK number single, “Maria,” in 20-years.
Blondie: Live in New York 1999 mixes old favorites, with new songs from No Exit. The show was originally recorded for VH1, and a longer version was later released on DVD.
02. “Hanging On The Telephone”
03. “Screaming Skin”
04. “Forgive And Forget”
06. “Union City Blue”
07. “Sunday Girl”
09. “Call Me”
10. “Boom Boom In The Zoom Zoom Room”
Blondie are currently on tour, playing the Isle of Wight Festival next weekend, details here.
Larry Wessel’s 2011 Boyd Rice documentary Iconoclast was, I thought, an interesting way to spend four-odd hours. In it, Rice does come across as a curious individual, half dark lord and half fabulous fan-boy, with a mania for tiki bars, practical jokes, and a hundred other peculiar hobbies and fixations. It was noticeable however that the film—seemingly made in close collaboration with its subject—was also something of a white-wash regarding Rice’s flirtation with white-supremacy.
It seemed significant, for example, that the following appearance by Rice on the US Nazi Tom Metzger’s self-styled “controversial pro-white TV show” Race & Reason didn’t make Wessel’s capacious final cut. When not discussing electronic music’s “intrinsic whiteness,” and deriding “pitiful liberal humanist values,” Rice, Tom Metzger, and the show’s co-host (a Neo-Nazi Hank Kingsley!) find common ground concerning Adolf Hitler’s underrated prose style. “Whenever you see Mein Kampf referred to in print,” muses Rice, “they always use the exact same words—they call it turgid prose and incoherent and stuff (…) when you read it it’s like the exact opposite.” (Which, according to the Thesaurus, throws up the following antonyms: “humble, modest, quiet, reserved, self-effacing, balanced, collected, normal, sane.” Sounds like Mein Kampf to me!)
Let’s give Dwight Twilley some love on his birthday.
The Dwight Twilley Band came along in 1976 and renewed my hope in rock ‘n’ roll. I had pretty much stopped paying attention to new music in the mid-70s. There were some exceptions—Roxy Music, Marc Bolan, Bob Marley, Toots And The Maytals—but overall I couldn’t get with most of what was being unleashed on the airwaves. I spent my time listening to jazz and the blues, when I listened to music at all. But when Twilley came along he had the energy and hooks I’d been missing in pop music since the English Invasion and the psychedelic garage rock era in America. Twilley melded rockabilly with Beatlesque melodies, suburban rec-room rock and hard-driving riffs that paved the way for power pop and punk. TDTB played loud fast songs that felt classic and fresh at the same time.
TDTB were basically just two guys, Dwight and Phil Seymour, who grew up on a diet of The Beatles and the kind of honky tonk sound that permeated their hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tulsa Cats like Hank Thompson, Bob Wills and J.J. Cale can be heard in the way Twilley and Seymour toss that roadhouse swing into the Liverpool sound. And they definitely picked up on the spirit of Buddy Holly drifitin’ east from Lubbock.
TDTB’s first two albums, Sincerely and Twilley Don’t Mind, are knockouts, filled with one great pop tune after another. With their pretty boy good looks and solid live shows, they should have been big stars, but the usual record company problems and tension between Twilley and Seymour created the kind of bad mojo that has felled many a great band.
Phil Seymour pursued a solo career, but died of cancer in 1993. Dwight Twilley hasn’t stopped writing and recording. His last two abums, Green Blimp and Soundtrack, feature Twilley fired-up and writing some of the best and most personal songs of his career. Good stuff from a rocker whose musical punch hasn’t softened as he’s grown older.
Here’s some footage of The Dwight Twilley Band with guest guitarist Tom Petty on the short-lived CBS children’s show Wacko from 1977. The YouTube clip says “1978” but I’m pretty sure that’s wrong. Wacko ran for 10 episodes in 1977. It never made it to ‘78.
In early 1970, Ringo Starr (billed as “Peter Sellers” appearing in the role of Ringo Starr) made a memorable guest appearance on NBC’s Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In to promote his then-new comedy, The Magic Christian.
Although he is never onscreen for more than 30 consecutive seconds, in the quick-cut style of the show, Ringo still got plenty of airtime (and plenty of opportunity to promote The Magic Christian, as you’ll see). Ringo interacts with Artie Johnson, sexy Teresa Graves, (flamboyant for the times) Alan Sues, Ruth Buzzi and Carol Channing (who, oddly, hasn’t aged a bit since this was shot).
Children’s television can be absolutely unbearable if you’re not actually a child. Luckily, the smart shows know this and throw you a bone every once in a while.
The BBC’s Horrible Histories recently decided to teach the kiddies about the life of Charles Dickens with a decidedly Smiths-vibe, and it’s an eerily accurate impression. Despite his reputation for being a bit humorless, I hope Moz would get a kick out of this one—I mean, it’s totally funny, and it’s for the kids!
Fun with Ron and Russell Mael, interviewed by Julie Brown on Music Box in 1985. Ron (as one commentator notes) is particularly “perky,” perhaps due to the excellent review in Sounds that claimed he was a better song-writer than Lennon and McCartney. Ron disagrees, but admits he is maybe a better song-writer than George Harrison.
Rebels: A Journey Underground is an excellent Canadian documentary history of “the counterculture” produced for television in the late 1990s and narrated by Kiefer Sutherland. It’s the work of writer/director Kevin Alexander, who did a great job with it. More people should see it. I’m happy to see that the series has been posted in full on YouTube.
The six-part series covers a wide swath of historical countercultures moving from William Blake and 1830s Parisian bohemians to mostly 20th century movements like hippie, Jazz, Beatniks, punk, and what was at the time the series was produced, the brave new world of cyberspace.
When Malone (an extreme conservative dubbed “Darth Vader” by Al Gore) saw Disinformation for the first time, his reaction, I was told by two people actually in the room, was “We paid for this anarchist bullshit? Get rid of it!”
Talking heads include Robert Anton Wilson, William Gibson, Douglas Rushkoff, Genesis P-Orridge, John Lydon, Jello Biafra, Captain Sensible, Richard Hell, Malcolm McLaren, Don Letts, Glen Matlock, Jon Savage, Caroline Coon, Paul Simonon, John Doe, Poly Styrene, Rosemary Leary, Ken Kesey, Paul Krassner, Ray Manzarek, Michael McClure, Anne Waldman, RU Sirius, Mark Pesce, John Perry Barlow, Rudy Rucker and many others.
Part 1: Society’s Shadow
From Bohemia and 19th century European romanticism, this film looks back through history to uncover the beginning of “new vision” thinking in Western civilization and its links to what is now called counterculture. From 1830s Paris to New York City’s Greenwich Village at the turn of the 20th century, it follows the paths which brought Europe’s most rebellious voices to America. Includes profiles of William Blake, Victor Hugo, Theophile Gauthier, Charles Baudelaire, John Reed and Woody Guthrie.
Parts two through six of Rebels: A Journey Underground after the jump…
David McCallum has long been a much-loved actor and TV icon. From his early days as the pin-up secret agent, Illya Kuryakin, acting alongside Robert Vaughn’s Napoleon Solo in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., through to the excellent Colditz, the wonderfully, bizarre Sapphire and Steel, The Invisible Man and now “Ducky” Mallard in today’s NCIS.
But what is perhaps less known about this talented actor, is the fact McCallum is a classically trained musician of the highest caliber, and for a long time the blonde-haired Glaswegian seriously considered a making his career in music, as he explained to 16 magazine back in 1966:
The wonder was that David ever became an actor at all—for he was trained to be a musician from the age of four, playing the oboe with classic clarity. An appreciation of music ran deep in the McCallum family. David’s father, a famous violinist and leader of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, was taught classical music at his mother’s knee.
The McCallums came from a little Scottish mining village, Kilsyth in Stirlingshire, where David’s paternal grandfather was the village grocer. It was a deeply religious community, and David’s grandmother hoped her son would learn the harp. But no one there could play the instrument, so young David Fotheringham McCallum was taught violin instead. And his own son, David Keith McCallum—born on September 19, 1933, at 24 Kersland Street, Glasgow—inherited this musical tradition.
When the family moved to Bracknell Gardens, Hampstead, in London, David went to University College School, and musical evenings became a feature of this childhood. He was taught violin and piano, but it was the oboe that he mastered. However, David secretly harbored a longing to become an actor, so when one of his uncles needed an oboe, David offered his—cheap!—and started out on his acting career. Though he laughingly calls the oboe “...an ill wind nobody blows good,” David still admits, “I always knew that I could turn to music if I failed as an actor.”
McCallum was given a recording contract, and between 1966 and 1968, released four albums on Capitol Records: Music…A Part Of Me, Music…A Bit More Of Me, Music…It’s Happening Now!, and McCallum. However, rather than singing his way through these discs McCallum, together with producer David Axelrod, created a blend of oboe, French horn, and strings with guitar and drums, for musical interpretations of hits of the day. These included “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”, “Downtown”, “Louie, Louie”, “I Can’t Control Myself” and his own compositions, “Far Away Blue”, “Isn’t It Wonderful?” and “It Won’t Be Wrong”.
The best known McCallum tracks today are “The Edge,” which was sampled by Dr. Dre as the intro and riff to the track “The Next Episode,” and “House of Mirrors,” sampled by DJ Shadow for “Dark Days”.
“The Edge” - David McCallum
“House of Mirrors” - David McCallum
David McCallum introduces TnT Show with ‘Satisfaction, while Ron and Russell Mael (Sparks) watch from the audience
Bonus clips (with Nancy Sinatra) and tracks, after the jump!...
A few months after the release of Midnight Love in 1982, Marvin Gaye told N.M.E.:
I don’t make records for pleasure. I did when I was a younger artist, but I don’t today. I record so that I can feed people what they need, what they feel. Hopefully, I record so that I can help someone overcome a bad time.
Midnight Love was to be Marvin’s last complete album, and was the biggest selling record of his career at that time, selling 6-million copies worldwide. Its release, coming after a self-imposed exile in Belgium, marked a major development in Marvin’s song-writing and performing talents, with its eclectic mix of influences, Soul, Funk, Synth Pop, and Reggae, that the “Prince of Soul” made unmistakably his own.
Midnight Love was considered by many critics to be the album of the year, and in June 1983, Marvin showcased (lip-synched) a selection of songs from this classic album on a special edition of Soul Train.
Happy Birthday Sir Christopher Lee, actor, singer and cinematic icon, who celebrates his 91st birthday today.
I can still recall the fabulous thrill of seeing Lee’s performance as the gruesome “Creature” in The Curse of Frankenstein (1956), where he managed to make the brutally disfigured creation both pitiful and terrifying. He achieved greater success as the Count in Dracula (1958), a performance that established him as an international star. Lee made the role of Dracula his own by bringing a charm, sophistication, intelligence and sexual attraction to the role.
In both films, Lee played against his friend and colleague Peter Cushing (who would have been 100-years-old yesterday) and together they dominated the box-office from the late 1950s-to mid-1970s, with a range of classic Horror movies, including The Gorgon, Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, The Skull, Scream and Scream Again, The House That Dripped Blood, Dracula 1972 A.D., Nothing But The NIght, The Creeping Flesh, and Horror Express.
Of course, there were also his solo turns with The Devil Rides Out, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, The Wicker Man, The Three Musketeers and The Man With The Golden Gun.
But unlike Cushing, or Vincent Price (whose birthday is also celebrated today), Lee wanted to be more than just a Horror actor, and therefore moved to America in the 1970s, where his starred in a variety of films—some good, some not-so—which ranged from Airport ‘77, 1941 and Gremlins 2.
Most careers would have finished there, but not Lee’s. He return to form and greater success with roles in Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow (1999) and then the BBC TV-series Gormenghast (2000), all of which led onto Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy and episodes 2 and 3 of Star Wars.
At 91, Sir Christopher is making 2-to-3-films-a-year, and has just recorded and released a Heavy Metal album, Charlemagne: The Omens of Death.
Happy Birthday Sir Christopher and thanks for all the thrills!
Behind the scenes with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing on ‘Dracula 1972 A.D.’
A preview of Christopher Lee’s heavy Metal album ‘Charlemagne: The Omens of Death’