The Beatles get wild on untamed (and unreleased) outtake of ‘She’s a Woman,’ 1964
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Beatles picture sleeve
By October 1964, the Beatles were already veterans of the recording studio. When they entered Abbey Road to cut “She’s a Woman” they had released three albums and numerous singles. They had been working at a furious pace and dealing with incredible fame. Surely the Beatles were looking to cut loose.

Written primarily by Paul McCartney (years later, John Lennon remembered writing some of the words—maybe), “She’s a Woman” was recorded on October 8th, 1964. Take six of the song would be deemed best and came out in late November 1964 as the b-side to “I Feel Fine” in the UK, but in the US the sides were flipped, with “She’s a Woman” reaching #4 on the charts in the states.

Take seven was their last stab at the song. Possibly sensing this attempt wasn’t up to snuff, they might have looked at each other and figured: “Why not get crazy?” Maybe they were finally comfortable enough in the studio to goof around and blow off some much needed steam. Or were the Beatles just giddy over writing their first drug reference? Here’s John Lennon referring to the line “Turn me on when I get lonely” in a 1980 interview:

We were so excited to say ‘turn me on.’—you know, about marijuana and all that, using it as an expression.

Ten days later the band recorded “I Feel Fine,” with a happy accident leading to the use of guitar feedback as the song’s intro—widely regarded as the beginning of the Beatles experimenting in the studio. Perhaps the hair-raising joy heard at the conclusion of the final “She’s a Woman” is the moment when they gained the confidence to take a shared step into the abyss.

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
DRUGS: Trippy photos from a ‘unique’ volume of the ‘LIFE Science Library,’ 1969
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The cover of Life Science Library: Drugs

Back in the 60s LIFE had a series of hardcover books—26 volumes total—called the LIFE Science Library that tackled many subjects like Mathematics, The Mind, Health and Disease, Time, Food and Nutrition and so on. One of the volumes printed in 1967 was simply titled Drugs and it gave the history of medicines and how drugs affect the human body. Now if you were to judge a book by its cover, the LIFE hardback cover on drugs looks pretty boring, right? I woulda walked right past it without a second thought! The thing is, if you’d open it up, it’s chock full of trippy eye-candy delights.

Why such a boring cover with such delicious psychedelic imagery on the inside?




More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
There’s some doo-wop goin’ on:  Listen to Sly Stone’s racially integrated high school vocal group
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Sly Stone

Last week we posted recordings of a nine-year-old Sly Stone performing with his family in a kiddie gospel group—a testament to the Family Stone’s raw talent to be sure. However Sly’s childhood musical ventures weren’t limited to projects of familial kinship. During his teenage years he was active as a singer and in quite a few bands. One was a high school doo-wop group called “The Viscaynes,” a nod to the Chevy Biscayne, with the “V” added in honor of their hometown of Vallejo, California.

As you can see, the group was an early model for Stone’s vision of a racially integrated band. The multi-racial line-up worked in their favor, and The Viscaynes enjoyed quite of a bit of regional success around the Bay Area, getting sent to LA by a small label to re-record their songs professionally, getting some radio play, playing school dances and local TV and doing backup for other groups’ recordings.

The tracks below, “You’ve Forgotten Me,” “Yellow Moon” and “Maybe I’m Wrong” (all from 1961) are just a sampling of a pretty expansive discography. They’re dreamy and yearning, featuring Sylvester Stewart’s voice to great effect, flush with youth.


More early Sly after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Beyond Good & Evil: The Pop Group’s Mark Stewart, the Dangerous Minds interview
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The Pop Group

The Pop Group is unequivocally back. After reuniting four years ago for festival shows and limited UK and European tours, the band’s singer Mark Stewart has told Dangerous Minds that their long-promised album of new material is at last being recorded this month, and that wider tours are in the works. This news comes fairly quickly on the heels of the announcement that the band is reissuing their 1980 album We Are Time and a rarities collection called Cabinet of Curiosities this autumn.

The Pop Group began in Bristol, UK, in 1978, and established a niche all to themselves with an unabashedly abrasive ruckus of No Wave and free jazz noise, punk’s ethos of confrontation, and a rhythm section devoted to dub and straight-up funk. Atop all that, singer Stewart chanted far-left declamations in a voice that lurched without warning from warble to shriek. The effect of this melee could be caustic, disorienting, and exhilarating. The band became influential despite its volatility, and in 1981, it fractured, jettisoning its members into the bands Rip Rig + Panic, Glaxo Babies/Maximum Joy, Pigbag, and the Slits. For his part, Stewart has recorded solo and with his band the Maffia. The Pop Group’s albums Y, For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder, and We Are Time have, in the USA, at least, been only intermittently available and sometimes ridiculously expensive to obtain, so the news of impending reissues is most welcome. Because it’s 2014 and this is how it’s done now, there’s a pledge drive afoot for the releases, and some of the premiums are mighty cool. (I’m pretty sorely tempted by the Signed Ultimate Boxset Bundle.)

Earlier this week, Mark Stewart was kind enough to talk to DM at length about the band’s origins and future plans.

DM: Just this morning, I came across a news item that references The Pop Group, and I was wondering if you were aware of it— the Washington Post was reporting on a corrupt politician, and they posted a video of “We Are All Prostitutes.”

Mark Stewart: Yeah. I haven’t had a chance to check out all the details of the story yet, but a very important confidante of mine, who writes books about conspiracies in politics, says it’s the most important story the Washington Post has run since Watergate, is that true?

Possibly. The ex-governor of Virginia and his wife have been convicted of fraud and selling access. It’s pretty huge. He was a presidential hopeful once, and now this blatant corruption comes to light. But I wondered if you were aware of the Post using your song in that context, and whether you think that speaks to the Pop Group’s continued relevance?

The lyrics to that song are timeless. The second real album that we made, For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?, was a bit more time-sensitive. It was talking about things that were happening in real time in Indonesia, and coups that were happening with ITT and Allende in Chile, things that were happening in Cambodia. That was more a real time, newspapery kind of album. But the other stuff, like “We Are All Prostitutes” and Y and the stuff we’re re-releasing now, it’s weird, because for me, I’m looking at it that way as much as you, because it’s like listening to something that’s out there now.

It’s quite bizarre. Me and [Pop Group guitarist] Gareth Sager, we spent two years going through, trying to find the best stuff from that period—and I’m a fan, I’ve realized recently, with all the music I’ve made, I’m making it for myself because I have an idea of what I’d like to hear. Like mashing up a free-jazz saxophone against a funk beat with Arabic wailing or something, I’m doing it for myself, because I’m only hearing those things in my head, and making things up like a little kid, and I just want to make those things. I’m having to analyze this stuff and see it again and it’s weird. But the We Are Time album sounds like new bands I’m hearing out of London now.


Well in terms of the songs’ political content, over the last thirty years, I’m not sure so much has changed or gotten better…

Hold on! You’re like my girlfriend! I think a lot has got better! Are you a pessimist?

Ha, maybe! Some things have gotten better on the social front, sure, but in terms of the oligarchs’ takeover? At least in the United States, oh my GOD, they are winning.

Yes. And, as far as I can see some of the battles in the Middle East are between different factions in America, like an American proxy war going on there, oil companies acting like medieval dynasties, it’s bizarre. And they’re backing jealous militias.

So are you an optimist, then? What do you see getting better?

Generally I think people across the world are genuinely more aware. Right now I’m in this fishing village, and the guy who lives in a shed at the bottom of the garden knows as much about the world as I did in 1979. There’s access to more media, and people, as far as I can see, are seeing through the illusion. Back in the day they used to think politicians were correct, and they’d tip their caps in a kind of regal way. People are kind of owning and feeling the responsibility and making the connections, that the things that are happening aren’t so far away. There’s blowback, and the actions we make in everyday life are a result of these actions across the world, funding our avarice.

It’s easier to put these ideas into songs!

More with Mark Stewart after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment