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  • David McCallum: Chill to the now sounds of the Musician from U.N.C.L.E.
    10:27 am

    Pop Culture


    I guess you can call me a fan of NCIS—the long running hit TV series about a group of agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. In large part, I watch the series to keep abreast with one my childhood heroes David McCallum.

    McCallum plays Donald “Ducky” Mallard, the wise, witty and slightly eccentric NCIS’ Chief Medical Examiner. No matter the storyline, McCallum is always enjoyable on screen—adding tension and fun to whatever he does.

    For those of certain generation, McCallum is best known for his performance as the iconic Ilya Kuryakin in the glossy swinging sixties spy series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Though the series starred Robert Vaughn as the debonair agent Napoleon Solo—a character created by the author of the James Bond novels, Ian Fleming—it was always McCallum’s Kuryakin who drew the interest. Perhaps, I’m biased over my fellow Scot—though I think fan ratings from the day may prove me right.

    McCallum is one of these actors whose career spans not just decades but several generations of fans—The Man from U.N.C.L.E., wartime drama about POWs Colditz, The Invisible Man, and that classic inter-dimensional cult sci-fi series Sapphire and Steel. Yep, I was a fan of all these.
    A few years ago I punted the idea of a documentary on the great man making a return to his hometown of Glasgow in Scotland. It seemed an obvious win/win situation for BBC Scotland—but the powers at the top thought otherwise and alas this project was never made. However, when prepping the idea, one day and literally out of the blue, David McCallum phoned me at the office and gave his support to the project. He talked about his career and his memories of Glasgow and TV/Film and theater work. Never meet your heroes, they say. Well, I’ve met quite a few over the years and can honestly say I have yet to be disappointed. And talking with Mr. McCallum that rainy day in office in Anderston was a privilege and an utter delight. Maybe the BBC should rethink their demurral and make something soon….

    But it’s not just his talent as an actor (or a writer) that makes McCallum special—he is also an accomplished musician who produced four groovy records in the 1960s.

    McCaullm was born on September 19, 1933, at 24 Kersland Street, Glasgow, into a very musical household. His parents were both highly respected musicians—his father leader of the London Philharmonic—and they wanted their young son to follow in their footsteps:

    ...[T]hey suggested I take violin lessons—like father like son. Then they suggested the violincello—mother played the violincello. Then the piano—grandfather taught the piano!

    Finally I gave in—my choice, much to their surprise—being oboe and English horn. I played both these instruments for many years and even studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

    But then, McCallum decided he wanted to be an actor and a decision had to be made.

    I had a choice: the theatre or music. I chose the theatre, and I was soon forced to give up all ideas of a musical career. I sold my oboe and I sold my English horn. But the desire to express myself in music never left and I still studied, including harmony, and the theory of music.

    His acting career led him to America where he was soon a star—thanks to films like The Great Escape and of course The Man From U.N.C.L.E. on TV. McCallum was then offered the opportunity to his love of music.

    In the fall of 1965, I devised an idea for a record album…born out of my past and out of my enjoyment of the music today. I wanted a sound that could play the current hits and at the same time possibly project something of me—a part of me.

    McCallum took the idea to Capitol Records who liked the idea and within ten days the first session had been recorded.

    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.
    Together with famed producer David Axelrod, McCallum created a blend of oboe, English horn and strings with guitar and drums. They recorded interpretations of such hits as “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” “Downtown,” “Louie, Louie,” “I Can’t Control Myself” as well as some of his own rather tasty compositions, “Far Away Blue”, “Isn’t It Wonderful?” and “It Won’t Be Wrong”.

    ‘The Edge’—David McCallum.
    McCallum wrote “The Edge” which was later 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”.

    More McCallum after the jump…

    Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
    Hot Stuff: Glowing neon strip club and peep show signs from around the world
    09:36 am



    Neon sign for the
    Neon sign for the (or at least ‘a’) “Sex Palace” in Amsterdam.
    After finding myself in a typical Dangerous Mindset “research” kind of rabbit hole, I spied a few of the naughty neon signs you’ll see in this post that help advertise the availability of strip clubs, peep shows and other “establishments” that help aid the hot-blooded pursuits for sex from around the world.
    A neon strip/sex club sign in Bangkok
    A neon strip/sex club sign in Bangkok.
    A neon strip/sex club sing in Hong Kong
    A neon strip/sex club sing in Hong Kong.

    “Super Pussy” neon sign, Bangkok.
    Neon sign with a stripper on a pole
    Neon sripper sign
    It’s pretty easy to procure these kinds of neon signs for your own personal display - if you’ve got a few extra hundred bucks lying around, such a sign can be yours.

    Grab a roll of dollar bills as loads of sexy, slightly NSFW-ish signage from Bangkok, Germany, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and of course, the good-old U.S. of A. follow.
    Neon strip/sex club sign, Costa Rica
    Costa Rica.
    More after the jump…

    Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
    This ‘King of the Hill’/‘Spiderland’ mashup could not be more perfect
    01:32 pm



    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
    ‘Your Groovy Self’: Watch Nancy Sinatra do something really amazing (with very little effort)
    11:50 am



    Speedway is a typical lightweight Elvis romp from the ‘60s co-starring Nancy Sinatra who plays a sexy IRS agent who comes to audit racecar driver Elvis, whose business manager (Bill Bixby) is an idiot addicted to gambling. She succumbs to the King’s charms, natch. There are songs and even a plucky homeless family living in their car. That’s Speedway‘s plot in a nutshell.

    Carl Ballantine from McHale’s Navy and Gale Gordon, best known as Mr. Mooney from The Lucy Show are also part of the cast. One production number, for a song called “He’s Your Uncle, Not Your Dad,” takes place in an IRS office! It’s perfectly dreadful, if entertaining, drivel, but it does have two great numbers in it. Elvis does a rocker called “Let Yourself Go” that was released as a single, but flopped, which is a shame, because it’s one of my own personal very top favorite Elvis tracks. (Glenn Danzig must feel the same way, he recorded a credible cover version in 2007.)

    And then Nancy Sinatra performs a swingin’ little number called “Your Groovy Self,” complete with decidedly minimalist mod choreography. It’s also one of her best songs: written and produced by Lee Hazlewood, she’s backed by a brassy configuration of the Wrecking Crew. It’s most certainly one of her best performances on film and the sole track by anyone other than Elvis himself to appear on the soundtrack album to one of his movies.

    Two fun facts: First, Speedway was originally written for Sonny and Cher!

    Second, take a look at the nightclub: Quentin Tarantino’s set design for Jack Rabbit Slims in Pulp Fiction was inspired by the campy racecar decor of the Hangout, where Speedway’s in-crowd mix.

    The plot device that gets Nancy to sing is when Carl Ballantine, the maitre’d of the Hangout shines a spotlight on her, and for some arbitrary Elvis-movie logic, she has to “get up and do something.”

    See what she did, after the jump…

    Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
    The Ramones should have had their own Saturday morning cartoon
    11:44 am



    Last year DM writer Marc Campbell alerted readers to two excellent animations by British animator Neil Williams of “Chainsaw” by the Ramones and “Pay to Cum” by Bad Brains. As he wrote at the time, “I wish there was one of these cartoons for every Ramones song ever recorded.”

    I’m happy to report that there are more Ramones cartoons by Williams, and they are well worth a look. On this page you can watch full cartoons for “I Don’t Wanna Go Down To The Basement” and “Listen To My Heart” off of the Ramones’ first album as well as “Commando” from Leave Home.

    All three of these videos have a distinct theme. “I Don’t Wanna Go Down To The Basement” is a fun and spooktacular Halloween romp, placing the punk quartet alongside the gang from Peanuts, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Lugosi’s Dracula, Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein’s monster, and zombies from The Night of the Living Dead. “Listen To My Heart” pretty much inserts the, ahem, “Ramonestones” into an episode of The Flintstones, while “Commando” takes inspiration from the song’s military imagery, incorporating Boris and Natasha, Sgt. Bilko, Apocalypse Now, and so on.

    If nothing else, the videos clearly make the case that TV executives missed a great opportunity back in the day. There actually was a TV cartoon that featured the Jackson 5, but most of that group were ciphers compared to the distinctive personalities of the Ramones. No band was ever more fun than the Ramones—they pretty much were cartoon characters anyway! They totally should have become a staple of the Saturday morning rotation of cartoons and groovy children’s classics, alongside Scooby-Doo, Capt. Caveman, Wacky Races, H.R. Pufnstuf, and Land of the Lost.

    “Bow bow bow bow bow, bow bow bow bow, I wanna be an-i-mated.”
    “I Don’t Wanna Go Down To The Basement”:

    Great cartoons for “Listen To My Heart” and “Commando” after the jump…...

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



    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.”
    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
    Doll parts: A terrifying glimpse inside doll-making factories from around the world
    09:49 am

    Pop Culture


    Talking dolls waiting around in a doll factory in France, 1930
    Dolls waiting around in a doll factory in France, 1930.
    When I came across these photos I immediately drew the conclusion that they could have been shot by Alfred Hitchcock during his downtime, as most of them are (and I’m pretty sure it’s intentional), as terrifying as fuck.

    Taken over the course of two decades from 1931 - 1955, the images were culled from photos of doll factories in the United States, England, Germany, France and Italy. And I’m not kidding when I say these photos will give you the creeps -  because the photos, such as the one of a group of disembodied, freshly cast doll heads impaled on iron stakes, or say dangling doll legs that are hanging up to dry (pictured below), look like they belong at a gourmet cannibal meat market run by Hannibal Lecter. You can thank me later for not sleeping tonight after checking out the rest of the photos. If you need me, I’ll be under the bed.
    Dangling doll legs in a factory in England, 1951
    Dangling doll legs in a factory in England, 1951.
    Drying doll heads, 1947
    Drying doll heads, 1947.
    Trimming doll eyelashes, 1949
    Trimming doll eyelashes, 1949.
    Various, not terrifying at all dolls being painted in a doll factory in Italy, 1950
    Various rather terrifying looking dolls being painted inside a doll factory in Italy, 1950.
    More scary dolls after the jump…

    Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
    Portraits of skinheads, 1970-1990
    01:14 pm



    One way or another, skinhead culture has been with us since the 1960s. Since skinheads can range from white supremacist to avowedly anti-racist, it’s a slippery thing trying to define a group with as much internal variation as that. And yet…

    It’s safe to say that skinheads were strongly influenced by the rude boys of Jamaica and the mods of London and that it is primarily a working-class phenomenon as well as a reaction to the long-haired hippie types. You see, long hair and factory labor with a lot of large and powerful moving machine parts isn’t a good idea. (Also, you can wear your steel-toed workboots on the job, no problem.)

    Furthermore, in London at least, working-class whites tended to share the same working-class neighborhoods with new immigrants from the Caribbean, and that exposed them to lifestyles and fashions defined by soul, ska, and reggae. And then somewhere along the line the boots and braces become the uniform of a racist subculture.

    Having delivered that preamble, here are some striking images of skins, both male and female, from the 1970-1990 period.

    Click on the images for a larger view.



    More skinheads after the jump…

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    Beautiful women from over 100 years ago as seen on vintage postccards
    12:56 pm

    Pop Culture


    Flickr user Postman has amassed a terrific collection of vintage postcards dated from around 1900 to the 1920s featuring gorgeous women from around the world. I just love these. Not one duckface to be seen among them.

    Beautiful then, and beautiful now. How did the standard of beauty come to be the Kardashian sisters? It must’ve crept up on us at some point.



    More after the jump…

    Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
    ‘Bacteria Cult’: Stream the new album by Mike Patton and John Kaada exclusively on Dangerous Minds
    11:04 am



    As out there as they are, Mike Patton’s best known rock bands Faith No More and Mr. Bungle have rarely engaged me as much as his more nakedly avant-garde work. The first taste I got of Patton’s deeper weirdness was with the 1996 album Adult Themes for Voice, an entirely a capella disc that consisted of nothing but processed vocal sounds arranged into very strange compositions. He followed that a year later with Pranzo Oltranzista, a weirdly food-themed suite for a voice/cello/sax/guitar/percussion quintet. The sax on that album was played by John Zorn, whose Tzadik label released both of those albums, and with whom Patton has done some of his most edifying non-rock work.

    Patton is on the cusp of releasing a new LP with yet another of his more outré collaborators—the wildly eclectic Norwegian singer, soundtrack composer, and member of the avant-rock trio Cloroform, John Kaada. Due to the duo’s shared fandom of film music (Patton already paid tribute to the form on the Fantômas album The Director’s Cut in 2001, the same year as Kaada’s recorded debut), their ongoing collaboration is significantly less noisy then most of the work Patton’s known for, but while it’s less fitful, it’s every bit as much of a trip through seemingly incompatible genres as Mr. Bungle can be. Their work is informed by Romantic and Baroque classical, carnival music, Spaghetti Western soundtracks, Berlin Cabaret… The resulting music is evocative, moody, and just plain HUGE. The pair’s first collaboration was 2004’s Romances, and a 2007 live DVD documents a Danish festival performance they undertook in Romances’ wake. They’re set to release their second album this week. Bacteria Cult features eight songs composed jointly by the duo, orchestrated by Kaada, performed by Norway’s Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, and naturally featuring vocals by Patton, who had this to offer when we asked about the reactivated collaboration:

    Getting a chance to work with John Kaada is always a joy and an honor for me. He is a truly creative musician. When I heard these songs I knew I wanted to be part of this project and John welcomed me with open arms. It’s shocking to me that filmmakers are not knocking down John’s door to hire him.

    The album’s lead-off track “Red Rainbow” has been streamable on Bandcamp for a little over a month now, but it’s Dangerous Minds’ privilege today to serve as the exclusive host of the complete Bacteria Cult album stream. Listen after the jump…

    Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
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