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Uhhhhh, WHAT? Lydia Lunch covers Bon Jovi
06.23.2017
01:54 pm
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For the last few years, venerable no-wave provocateur Lydia Lunch has been collaborating with guitarist Cypress Grove, releasing in 2014 a split album with Spiritual Front called Twin Horses and a full LP called A Fistful of Desert Blues. The latter title is aptly descriptive of the moods evoked by Grove’s guitar playing—he initially gained notice as a collaborator with The Gun Club’s Jeffrey Lee Pierce, and the sounds he wrests from his guitar can recall the barrenness of Ry Cooder’s Paris, Texas soundtrack, or the lush menace of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. And Grove has in fact worked with Cave.

The duo’s new release is Under the Covers, which you’ve surely already guessed is a covers album because evidently when you make one of those you’re required to give it a title that telegraphs its content with a pun. The track list is…amusing. It includes versions of Cracker’s “Low,” Tom Petty’s “Breakdown,” Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode To Billie Joe,” and Bon Jovi’s “Blaze of Glory,” a terrible song written for the pointless movie Young Guns II, which nonetheless became a huge hit because America’s love affair with quality is motherfucking unstoppable.

In contrast with her legendary rep as the often frightening and often tuneless screamer who announced her existence to the world chanting “LITTLE ORPHANS RUNNING THROUGH THE BLOODY SNOW,” Lunch’s Bon Jovi cover is a fairly reverent take (though it should go without saying it’s infinitely more listenable). But that shouldn’t really come as a surprise if you know her career—she’s done a fair few covers that would seem out of character. On her very first solo album, Queen of Siam, she did a straight cover of Classics IV’s “Spooky.”
 
Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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06.23.2017
01:54 pm
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Todd Bridges and the ‘Whatchu Talking ‘Bout Willis Experience’ cover the ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ theme
06.23.2017
12:52 pm
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The actor Todd Bridges, best known for the role of Willis Jackson on Diff’rent Strokes, which he inhabited between the ages of 13 through 21, has precisely one credit on Discogs, the exhaustive music recording resource that you’ve probably already consulted five times this week, if not many more times than that. It’s a fascinating one, and actually, his performance pretty much puts the question of why he doesn’t have more music credits in his CV to rest.

In 1997, in the middle of a big era for hastily assembled CD compilations, Which? Records put out an amusing comp called Show & Tell: A Stormy Remembrance of TV Theme Songs, which exploited the marketable idea of having a bunch of punk and thrash bands do covers of famous TV theme songs. The Meatmen contributed two tracks, “Green Acres” and “Mission: Impossible,” Murphy’s Law did the theme to “Zoom” (with DM’s own Howie Pyro on backing vocals), and the Dickies recorded a cover of “Secret Agent Man.” It’s fun stuff—really, how could it go wrong?

The attention-getting bit of business—enough to merit special mention on the album cover, done up to vaguely resemble a copy of TV Guide—was Todd Bridges singing lead vocal on a thrashy cover of the theme song from the show he will never not be associated with. The full credit runs Todd Bridges and the Whatchu Talking ‘Bout Willis Experience cover “Diff’rent Strokes”—the familiar, perky ditty that was co-written by none other than Alan Thicke. 
 

 
Not surprisingly, there was no such thing as the Whatchu Talking ‘Bout Willis Experience, other than that record. The bassist, John Jesse, and the guitarist, Roy Mayorga, at that time were members of a band called Thorn but were rather better known for their work in the influential crust punk band Nausea. Weirdly, Mayorga is credited as playing guitar on this song but is really a drummer.

The rendition lasts a cool 50 seconds, and Bridges….... well, let’s just say holding a tune is not a big part of Bridges’ skill set.

The October 1998 issue of Vibe featured a Q&A with Gary Coleman, Bridges’ diminutive co-star on the TV show, and writer Peter Relic asked Coleman about Bridges’ recent turn as a singer:
 

Vibe: Have you been to a gig of Todd Bridges’ punk band, the Whatchu Talking ‘Bout Willis Experience?

Coleman: You’re kidding! Todd didn’t tell me about that.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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06.23.2017
12:52 pm
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‘Morrissey Rides a Cockhorse’: The Warlock Pinchers hate Moz, but love them some Satan


 
I first discovered the Warlock Pinchers while working at a record store in East LA. Buried among the piles of LPs that circulated through the store daily was what I personally consider to be one of my most treasured “finds”: the delightfully titled record, Morrissey Rides a Cockhorse. Nowadays, the lack of impulse record shopping doesn’t allow for much discoverability. I’m guilty of it, too—it’s much too easy to see an album that looks kinda cool staring back at you from the bin, but then to preview it online before you would consider buying. I guess that’s what happens as the $$$ sticker-shock for rarer records sets in. Needless to say, when someone wanted to sell off their copy of Morrissey Rides a Cockhorse, I have no choice but to blindly take the dive.
 

 
The Warlock Pinchers sound like a blend of Big Black, Butthole Surfers, and the Beastie Boys; all presented in a fury of adolescent shenanigans. The punk hip-hop pranksters and self-proclaimed “Official Sound of Satan” were the kind of people who enjoyed pissing off their fans—and if you weren’t a fan, then “fuck you!”
 

 
Sharing a record label with the Melvins, opening for the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and once having had their record reviewed by Damon Albarn for NME, sadly the band did not pick up much steam outside of their hometown of Denver, Colorado. If anything, their alleged commitment to the devil was the one thing that helped give them some form of notoriety outside of their local scene, as if spraying flames around small clubs and giving their audiences muffins and pancakes wasn’t quite enough.
 

Blur reviews Warlock Pinchers at the NME office, 1991

Fire by Nite was a Christian youth variety program that operated out of Tulsa, Oklahoma in the late eighties. By presenting in a context of “relatable” youth material, the show oftentimes tackled highly controversial subjects that have plagued (or improved) the lives of many young Christians, namely drugs, sex, and the devil. “Satanism Unmasked” was a multi-part special that saw the “real-life” testimonies of self-confessed former Satanists like Mike Warnke (later disputed as a fraud) and Lauren Stratford (ditto), and hosted a bizarre conversation with convicted murderer, Sean Sellers. Slayer is spoken about briefly, but they are quickly dethroned as a bunch of charlatans; using the devil for their own shock-value appeal.

The highlight is the exposé of Warlock Pinchers, who dismiss Jesus as the real source of evil, in favor of Satan, “the good guy.”

Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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06.23.2017
12:39 pm
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‘The Best of Times’: Bonkers TV pilot starring baby-faced versions of Nicolas Cage & Crispin Glover


Crispin Glover and Nicolas Cage react to the news that their failed television series from 1981, ‘The Best of Times’ is still kicking around out there on the Internet.
 
In 1981 both Nicolas Cage (who at the time was going by his real name “Nicholas Coppola”) and a baby-faced Crispin Glover both made their television acting debuts. However, the pilot, The Best of Times, only aired once before getting the boot from ABC.

I don’t want to ruin any of this for you, but if you haven’t seen The Best of Times—which was part musical, part teen drama, and part comedy—then clear your calendar for the next hour because you simply haven’t lived until you’ve seen an eighteen-year-old Nicolas Cage participating in a bizarre car wash sequence while his pals kick out a vanilla version of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5.” In a pair of overalls with no shirt.

Your life is also a lie if you’ve never experienced the crazy that is Crispin Glover (who was also eighteen) having a spastic meltdown about the latest Talking Heads cassette tape. Adding to the weirdness, most of the actors on the show went by their own names and there’s something very strange about hearing Glover’s real mother Betty yelling at her boy Crispin throughout the episode. But that’s ALL I’m going to say because this totally golden television oddity that really must be seen to be believed.

PS: You’re welcome.
 

An image of Cage with another star of ‘The Best of Times’ actress and future scream queen, Jill Schoelen.
 
Watch it, after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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06.23.2017
11:00 am
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Painting with Light: Incredible portrait photographs of young outsiders
06.23.2017
06:19 am
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‘Iris’ (2011).
 
At a cursory glance, I thought I was viewing some small figure detail from a Baroque painting or maybe a canvas by a Dutch Old Master. The richness, depth, and subtly of light fooled my eye. This was the photographer’s intention—to make the viewer re-examine what is seen.

The photographer is Pierre Gonnord. He previously turned his talents to photographing the last coal miners working in the pits at Asturias and Castilla y León, Spain. His portraits gave these men a dignity and nobility. They were “a tribute” to the lives being destroyed by economic cuts and governmental indifference—or as Gonnord described it “social genocide.”

Now Gonnord has thrown focus on to a series of painterly portraits of young people. He is specific in who he chooses to photograph, selecting “the person, the individual, alone in the margins of his social group…”

‘When I travel and meet a community, I have time enough to establish contacts and connections, to know individuals that move me for their charisma, sensitivity, intelligence, shyness, beauty … and this is why I decide to invite them (and no others) to do a portrait’

Gonnord takes his time photographing his subject and almost makes it sound almost like a forensic process:

‘Installed in the silence of a room, generally a very small space, sometimes with daylight, sometimes with a lamp, a flash, just one spot … in a short distance, in the same living area, I can talk with the individual, my fellow, a chosen human being, and looking at him I repeat once again this old ritual. A very short moment. Probably the most ancient since man has been on Earth. Strip little by little all the details, and in silence try to catch what maybe is under the skin’

His passion for portrait photography offers Gonnord the chance learn what he describes as “life experiences” allowing him to:

‘Learn from others, listen, watch, see, feel, express. It’s to open one’s eyes to the world, to know other universes, other realities in order to go beyond one’s own small frontiers in the urban environment and enter little by little into the sharing and the understanding of humanity’

and

‘To look into the eyes of these models is to feel in a certain way that we are looking at our own essence as human beings.’

See more of Gonnord’s portraits here.
 
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‘Attia’ (2010).
 
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‘Sophie’ (2012).
 
See more of Gonnord’s beautiful portraits, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.23.2017
06:19 am
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Manson, Larry Flynt, Abbie Hoffman, O.J. and other infamous folks depicted by court sketch artists


Abbie Hoffman’s Viet Cong flag tug-of-war with deputy marshal Ronald Dobroski during the Chicago Eight trial as depicted by Howard Brodie.
 
Courtroom sketches in the United States date back to the 17th Century Salem Witch Trials, and were a necessary staple of reporting on court cases up until recent years when the courtroom was off-limits to photographers and television cameras. It wasn’t until 2014 that all 50 states allowed cameras in the courtroom, though by the late ‘80s most states already had. 

As portraits that exist solely out of the necessity for historically documenting legal proceedings, such sketches have never been considered high art, but a current exhibition of sketches housed at the Library of Congress shines a spotlight on some of the talents behind these documents.

The Library of Congress’ exhibition, “Drawing Justice: The Art of Courtroom Illustrations,” features a selection of the Library’s collection of more than 10,000 courtroom drawings, many of which were donated to the library by the estates of the artists themselves.

From the Library of Congress’ website:

The exhibition begins with the work of Howard Brodie, who popularized reportage-style courtroom illustrations with his documentation of the Jack Ruby trial in 1964 for CBS Evening News.  Brodie supported and encouraged the first generation of artists who created the artwork for television and print media.  Brodie donated his trial drawings to the Library of Congress, which spurred the development of the courtroom-illustration collections.

In addition to Brodie, the artists represented in the exhibition include Marilyn Church, Aggie Kenny, Pat Lopez, Arnold Mesches, Gary Myrick, Joseph Papin, David Rose, Freda Reiter, Bill Robles, Jane Rosenberg and Elizabeth Williams.

The exhibition is being held in the South Gallery on the second floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building and runs through Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. It is free to the public.

Enjoy, below, a gallery of some of the more interesting pieces in the collection:


The New York Black Panther trial as depicted by Howard Brodie. Twenty-one members of the New York Black Panther Party faced charges of conspiracy to bomb several sites in New York City. They were acquitted of all 156 charges on May 12, 1971.


Bobby Seale, sketched by Howard Brodie, taking notes while bound and gagged at the Chicago Eight trial.


John Hinckley, failed assassin of Ronald Reagan, shown by artist Freda Reiter in front of a television broadcasting his obsession, Jodie Foster.

Many more after the jump…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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06.23.2017
06:04 am
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‘Metal Man Has Won His Wings’: Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa’s early ‘60s R&B band, the Soots
06.23.2017
06:04 am
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Zappa at the door to Studio Z in Cucamonga

Briefly, during 1963 and 1964, Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa were in a proto-Magic Band called the Soots, and among the numbers they recorded at Studio Z in Cucamonga was “Metal Man Has Won His Wings.” It isn’t the first recording the pair made together (that’s the my-baby-flushed-me-down-the-toilet epic “Lost in a Whirlpool,” recorded at Antelope Valley Junior College in the late ‘50s), but it’s the first instance of the Frank Zappa blues adventure style that crystallized in later classics like “Why Don’t You Do Me Right,” “Trouble Every Day” and “Willie the Pimp.”

The Magic Band’s John “Drumbo” French identifies the song as a breakthrough in his massive study Beefheart: Through the Eyes of Magic:

In Metal Man Has Won His Wings the music immediately bursts forth, a music surprisingly reminiscent of the early Magic Band. Zappa was obviously making headway in his production attempts. The young Vliet’s repetitive Wolf-esque ramblings are buried in the mix. The song is brought to a halt with a typical blues kick - something Zappa may have learned while playing at Tommy Sands’ club.

“Metal Man Has Won His Wings” (misheard by bootleggers for years as “Metal Man Has Hornet’s Wings”) first surfaced on Mystery Disc. Zappa’s liner notes shed light on how the track’s vocals came to be “buried in the mix”: Beefheart used an unorthodox recording technique, one that reminds me of his later refusal to wear headphones while overdubbing his parts on Trout Mask Replica.

In our spare time we made what we thought were ‘rock & roll records.’ In this example, Vliet was ‘singing’ in the hallway outside the studio (our vocal booth) while the band played in the other room.

The lyrics were derived from a comic book pinned to a bulletin board near the door.

 

On the road, 1975 (via beefheart.com)
 
Zappa scholar Biffy the Elephant Shrew has identified the comic book as issue #7 of the DC title Metal Men. Beefheart took part of the song’s title and “wheet! wheet!” from an ad in that number promoting the new book Hawkman:

HAWKMAN HAS “WON HIS WINGS”... AND FROM NOW ON HIS FAMOUS “WHEET! WHEET!” BATTLE CRY WILL APPEAR IN HIS OWN MAGAZINE!

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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06.23.2017
06:04 am
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Old-school action figures based on ‘Motel Hell,’ ‘Creepshow,’ ‘Salem’s Lot,’ ‘Heavy Metal’ & more!


Four action figures from the1981 film ‘Heavy Metal’ of ‘Taarna,’ ‘Harry Canyon,’ and two ‘B-17 Gunner’ variants made by hand by Aaron Moreno of Retroband, 2015. You can get a little better look at them, here.
 
So I’ve been laid up for a couple of weeks and have been watching entirely too much television—most of the time turning back the clock to eyeball what I consider a “comfort food” of sorts—vintage horror films and old-school 80s flicks. 

While my love of horror cinema spans the decades, I usually end up digging through my go-to big three—the 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s. On a recent, particularly tough day, I watched the first two seasons of Tales from the Crypt which, if it’s been a while since you’ve seen it, still holds up in my rarely blinking eyes. Now that you know this, I’m sure you can understand my sheer fucking delight when I became aware of a toy company called Retroband that makes some pretty incredible action figures based on characters from notable horror and cult films. Such as 1980’s Motel Hell, the 1979 television miniseries based on author Stephen King’s 1975 novel, Salem’s Lot, and the terrifying character “Bobbi” from the 1980 film Dressed to Kill.

Before you start screaming “shut up and take my money” it’s best that you know that Retroband’s covetable figures, which are made by hand by Retroband’s owner and creator Aaron Moreno, sell for several hundred dollars apiece when and if they ever pop up on auction sites like eBay. For instance—and because it was the first one I looked for—the figure of “Bobbi” from Dressed to Kill was listed for a whopping $299.98. Figures based on the 1981 animated film Heavy Metal, which made their debut back in 2015, will run you a hundred bucks each. If you can find them, that is. I’ve posted images of Retroband’s awesomely eclectic, highly collectible action figure line below.
 

‘A bloody version of ‘Vincent’ from the 1980 cult-horror film, ‘Motel Hell.’
 

‘Bobbi’ and her trusty switchblade from the 1980 film ‘Dressed to Kill.’
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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06.22.2017
01:16 pm
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Wild things: Were the Troggs the very first punk band?
06.22.2017
10:26 am
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Quick! Who was the first punk band? The Sex Pistols? The Ramones? The MC5? The Stooges? Suicide? That’s a parlor game lovers of rock music can play for hours and hours—or disdain entirely as irrelevant, if that’s your bent.

No matter where you stand on the issue, it might interest you to know that in December 1972, before three of those bands had so much as released a note of recorded music, the New Musical Express in England had its own idea of who the first punk was, and the answer—as well as the question itself—might surprise you.
 

Mild things?
 
Their proposition was that it was the Troggs. You know, the band that did “Wild Thing.” The Troggs were headed by Reg Presley, and by 1972 the group was truly struggling in an era dominated by funk, prog, and glam. Well, we’ll get to that.

The article, by Pete Phillips, highlighted an uptick in Troggs interest in the U.S. and posed the question why that was not happening in the U.K. as well. The article kicks off with an explicit frame of the Troggs as a much-needed antidote to the up-and-coming impulse of glam rock—er, “the Bowie-Bolan syndrome”—which is defined by “glitter, eye-shadow and platform heels.” It’s interesting that punk is so strongly identified as a conservative impulse, a “basic” reaction to the “fancy” stylings of the glam movement. When the real punk movement hit in the mid- to late 1970s, it was often placed in opposition to (a) overblown studio-oriented rock like the Eagles, and (b) disco. The Troggs were self-consciously presented as Neanderthals, a thudding, crude—and catchy—rebuke to fancy music of any stripe.

What’s fascinating about Phillips’ article is that anyone would have been asking the question in the first place—it implies an active debate on the question. What’s clear is that the term punk was of quite recent vintage. In March 1970 the Chicago Tribune quoted main Fug Ed Sanders to the effect that his solo album was “punk rock—redneck sentimentality”—this is widely regarded as the first use of the phrase. Such references are scattered all over the early 1970s. Suicide advertising a November 1970 gig with the phrase “punk music,” Lester Bangs calling Iggy Pop a punk, Lenny Kaye describing what we would today simply call garage rock bands as “classic garage-punk.” For Christ’s sake, Ellen Willis was using the term in the pages of The New Yorker. It was a thing, and everybody had a different take on what “punk music” was and what it meant. It was, in short, a moniker looking for a movement. A certain kind of music fan was looking for something, but didn’t quite know what it was.

Kaye’s “garage” association is clarifying here. Later years, with the addition of politics, safety pins, and breakneck (i.e. sloppy) guitar work, would render the designation of the Troggs as the world’s first punk band just a bit absurd, but they clearly did have a fuzzy, loud sound and they did have some hits. Phillips describes the Troggs as “that nasty, lumpy group with the parted thighs and the loud, dirty music.” It’s worth reading the item in full, which you can below.

I’ll never have as good a chance to tell this story, so here it goes: In the early 1990s I was living in Vienna and I DJ’d an event, a birthday party for a prominent Austrian journalist. I didn’t have many LPs at my disposal and what I had was mainly classic rock, but I did the best I could. As the hours passed and the revelers danced (and got drunker), eventually I heard this highly inebriated male voice bellowing “DIE TROGGS!! SPIEL DIE TROGGS!!” at me. I looked down from the booth and who should it be but the leader of Austria’s Green Party, the equivalent to Jill Stein, if you will, desperately wanting me to put on some Troggs—which I didn’t have with me. I guess the Greens are used to setbacks, huh. 

I can’t think of the Troggs without remembering that moment.

Here’s the article, you can enlarge it for easier reading:

 
More Troggs after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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06.22.2017
10:26 am
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Adam Ant, John Cale, Ad-Rock and others guest star on ‘80s crime drama ‘The Equalizer’


Edward Woodward and Adam Ant on the cover of Ant News Today, 1985
 
The Equalizer was a crime drama starring Edward Woodward (The Wicker Man‘s Sgt. Howie) as Robert McCall, a secret agent turned private detective. Like the contemporary Miami Vice, The Equalizer brought in guest-star musicians to play the sinister jerks peopling its slough of rank criminality.

Also like Miami Vice, it was considered racy. Comparing the two series’ depiction of “raw, sometimes shocking underworld grit,” the LA Times reported in October 1985 that “several advertisers pulled their sponsorship of the [recent Equalizer] episode titled ‘The Lock Box,’ which starred Adam Ant as a purveyor of bizarre and forbidden sex.”

Many full episodes of this morally corrosive, sexually perverting entertainment are now playing on the world wide internet, and collected here are the ones with famous rockers. Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz (not yet 20!) plays the title role in “Mama’s Boy,” in which he gets mixed up with such drug dealers as Alex Winter’s Jeffrey. John Cale of the Velvet Underground wears his Songs for Drella ‘do in the role of “Aryan Leader” in “Race Traitors.” David Johansen of New York Dolls and Buster Poindexter fame and Stewart Copeland of the Police (writer of the series’ theme song) appear in “Re-Entry.” Though I haven’t watched Meat Loaf’s performance as Sugar Fly Simon in “Bump and Run,” I’m sure it’s some of his best work. And Adam Ant forces nice young women into prostitution in “The Lock Box.” (I haven’t been able to find the Quentin Crisp or John Cameron Mitchell episodes, but they must be on the DVD set.)

After the jump, watch John Cale’s, ah, “understated” performance as a neo-Nazi in the episode “Race Traitors”...

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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06.22.2017
10:04 am
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