The crazed death disco of Germany’s Warning, the scariest band you’ve never heard of
01.16.2017
10:30 am

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Music
One-hit wonders

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The early 80s was prime time for scary music. Blame it on Reagan and his itchy nuclear trigger finger, but in its darkest corners, rock n’ roll devolved from the freeballing hedonism of disco and the happy computer blips of new wave into the gnashing teeth and ripping claws of hardcore punk, industrial, death-rock and extreme metal. Bands like Black Flag, Hellhammer, Christian Death, Venom and Whitehouse were making records so aggressive, unhinged, or suicidally depressed that they sounded like the work of actual lunatics. But, you know, rock n’ roll is supposed to be edgy. Dance music, well, you’re just supposed to dance. But in 1982, a year that birthed Negasonic teenage warheads like Venom’s Black Metal, Walk Among Us by The Misfits, and the Birthday Party’s Junkyard, it was a mysterious synth-pop band from Germany who released perhaps the most unsettling album of the year.

It was right there in the title of the band, really: Warning. That basically says it all. The cover of their self-titled debut album is both campy and terrifying. Two black-caped, space-helmeted figures—half Black Sabbath’s Never Say Die pilot, half Darth Vader—descend an escalator, presumably to kill you when they reach the lower level. Amazingly, the music contained within is just as unnerving. A sort of unholy g(h)oulash of horror-prog, clanging disco-metal and woozy electro-pop, Warning is dance music made by people who have never danced in their entire lives. Forget new wave or even cold-wave, this was harrowing doom-wave, anchored by the alternately hilarious and soul-piercing croaks of frontfiend Ed Vanguard.
 
Ed Schlepper
 
Except that there was no “Ed Vanguard”...

It was actually the work of the positively jovial Edgar Schlepper, a turtleneck-wearing producer/songwriter known mostly for writing minor hits for minor pop singers and for “solo” records like 20 Disco Hits in Super Sound. Schlepper made happy, boring music for elevators and mall food courts, but along with his pal Hans Muller (AKA “Mike Yonder”) he created an inexplicable alter-ego so dark and disturbing that it hardly seems possible that this goofy asshole in the beige slacks could be responsible for it. Only Germans could come up with shit this wack. Warning’s crazed opener “Why Can the Bodies Fly” surged up the German pop charts, peaking at #11, despite the fact that it’s seven minutes long, has no hook, and is totally fucking crazy. It was like Daft Punk after a weeklong bath salts binge watching only Teutonic skat videos. It was also their only hit, but since when did Darth Vader care about the pop charts anyway?
 

 
A year later, Warning returned with Electric Eyes, a (very) slightly more accessible album, but it still sounded like two fleshy robots short-circuiting during the climax of Saturday Night Fever.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
Boss Babes: A Coloring & Activity Book for Grown-Ups
01.16.2017
09:06 am

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Books
Feminism

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Since the Women’s March on Washington is coming up on January 21, I thought that it be a good time to blog about this coloring book: Boss Babes: A Coloring & Activity Book for Grown-Ups. The fun-filled book is by Michelle Volansky and it’s an ode to strong women.

BOSS BABES is a coloring and activity book filled with fun facts and whimsical black-and-white line drawings celebrating female powerhouses from Beyonce to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Dolly Parton to Malala, Tina Fey to Serena Williams. On every page is a portrait to color or an activity to complete: Connect the dots to conjure J.K. Rowling’s patronus. Complete the Beyonce crossword (12-DOWN: Who run the world?). Decorate Flo-Jo’s nails, decode Cher’s most recent tweet, design a new jabot for RBG, color in Frida Kahlo’s flowers, and more!

Even though it says in title that it’s a book for “grown-ups,” I think it would be an awesome activity book for little girls (and boys, too). Kids are wiser and hipper nowadays, so I’m sure they’d totally get the references in it. Be warned, though, there are a few “naughty” words.

It’s a 96-page paperback activity book and sells for $10.95 here. Dig it.


 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
An unexpected William S. Burroughs/Beatles connection
01.16.2017
08:57 am

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History
Music

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We all know that author William S. Burroughs is one of the “people we like” on the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s album cover, but did you know that Burroughs was actually around when Paul McCartney composed “Eleanor Rigby”? Apparently so. Over the weekend, I noticed the following passage in the book With William Burroughs: A Report From the Bunker by Victor Bockris:

Burroughs: Ian met Paul McCartney and Paul put up the money for this flat which was at 34 Montagu Square… I saw Paul several times. The three of us talked about the possibilities of the tape recorder. He’d just come in and work on his “Eleanor Rigby.” Ian recorded his rehearsals. I saw the song taking shape. Once again, not knowing much about music, I could see that he knew what he was doing. He was very pleasant and very prepossessing. Nice-looking young man, hardworking.

The connection here was, no doubt, author Barry Miles. Miles started the Indica Bookshop in London with McCartney’s financial backing. Miles states in his book In the Sixties that Burroughs was a frequent visitor to the shop. When the Beatles started their experimental label Zapple, with Barry Miles at the helm, the idea was to release more avant garde fare, such as readings by American poets Michael McClure, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Richard Brautigan and comedian Lenny Bruce. McCartney set up a small studio that was run by Burroughs’ ex-boyfriend, Ian Sommerville, who also lived there, and this is why Burroughs would have been around.

It’s always thought that John Lennon was the far-out Beatle, but it was in fact Macca who was the one obsessed by Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Cage and Morton Subotnick, not Lennon (he got there later, via Yoko).
 

The “Eleanor Rigby” section from ‘Yellow Submarine.’

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Satan teens, blood, guts, LSD, murder and chaos: ‘Where Evil Dwells’ has it all but a plot
01.13.2017
12:42 pm

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Art
Movies

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01whereevil.jpg
 

“Ricky was of the devil. When he was on acid, he’d go back into the dark woods, up in Aztakea, and he would talk to the devil. He said the devil came into the form of a tree, which sprouted out of the ground and glowed. I tried to question him about it, but he said, “I don’t like to talk about it. People think I’m nuts.”

Ricky would take ten hits of mesc in a night. He would take three; ten minutes later he’d take another three; and two hours later he’d take four more. He’d figured it out in his mind how to take the most without ODing Ricky is the acid king. “

—Mark Fischer, friend of “Acid King” Long Island teen murderer Ricky Kasso, in Rolling Stone magazine.

What the fuck did I just watch? is often the response to Tommy Turner and David Wojnarowicz‘s cult 1985 no wave/transgressive film Where Evil Dwells. Not because some viewers of this splatterfest are uncool dickheads but because there is no real cohesive story or structure to Turner and Wojnarowicz’s film—and people really do prefer things like structure and stories. Just ask James Patterson. Our savvy public are none too appreciative of being buttonholed by a would-be weirdo rambling incontinently about conspiracy theories, Satan, murder and devil dolls—people get enough of that shit on the evening news.

Moreover, to give 28 minutes over to watching this is a considerable investment of time for something that may not be that good after all—especially true in a world that’s marked out in 140 characters or less. But wait, let’s not be too hasty or too cynical, for there’s a reason there is no real story to Where Evil Dwells. It is (apparently) because this is all that remains of a much longer intended feature length project which was lost in a fire. The only footage that survived was put together for the Downtown New York Film Festival in 1985, which makes Where Evil Dwells interesting for what it could have been. And it certainly does contain some very interesting things.
 

 
Where Evil Dwells was loosely based on the PCP-fuelled murder of young Gary Lauwers in Northport, New York, on June 16, 1984. His killer, 17-year-old hesher Ricky Kasso was painted by the press as an occult dabbling, drug-addled Satan freak, and not without good cause. In an attack that went on for longer than an hour, Kasso burned Lauwers, gouged out his eyes and stabbed him somewhere between 17 and 36 times. At some point during the attack, Kasso is said to have commanded Lauwers to “Say you love Satan,” but Lauwers is said to have replied, “I love my mother.”

After Kasso bragged about Lauwers’ murder to several of his friends, claiming the killing was a “human sacrifice” that Satan (via a black raven) had commanded him to carry out, even taking some of them to see the decomposing body, an anonymous tip was made to police. On July 7, two days after his arrest, Ricky Kasso committed suicide by hanging himself in his jail cell.

The Long Island Satan teen murder case was made famous nationally in a widely read 1984 Rolling Stone article (”Kids in the Dark” by David Breskin in the November 22 issue) and in the (nearly fictionalized) lurid “true” crime novel Say You Love Satan. Kasso—basically a troubled AC/DC loving idiot who became a very sucessful fuck-up—was almost made out to be the “new” Charles Manson by the likes of Sonic Youth, Big Audio Dynamite, the Electric Hellfire Club and the Dead Milkmen. Where Evil Dwells is not the only film or documentary to be made about Ricky Kasso, although it was the first.

More murder, LSD and Satan teens after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment