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Sgt. Pepper’s redux: Should you buy the $$$ new version of the Beatles’ classic or save your money?
05.26.2017
05:05 pm
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“It was 50 years ago today, that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play…”

Whenever I write a “review” of something that’s universally acknowledged to be a masterpiece, I usually try to go out of my way to explain to the reader that just as I don’t care what their opinion is of [fill in the blank with names like Neil Young, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, etc.] I really don’t expect them to give a fuck what I think of [fill in the blank again] either. You don’t really think Tonight’s the Night is such a great album? Can’t get into Meddle? Love Court and Spark but Uncle Meat never did it for you?

Who gives a shit, asshole? Not me, not anyone. Taste is subjective but certain great artists are beyond “opinion.” The Beatles top that list. I’m not about to volunteer my opinions on the music contained on the new 50th-anniversary box set of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band but rather try to answer questions regarding its consumer value like: “Did they do a good job with it?” and “Is it worth a pricey upgrade for your music library?” On matters of this sort, I am happy to be of service.

Now… having said all that, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band has really never been one of my favorite Beatles albums. I’ve owned it since I was a little kid, and although I had most certainly played it enough back then to have every bit of it memorized and etched into my DNA, I honestly don’t think I’ve purposefully pulled out Sgt. Pepper’s and played it more than once (when the remastered Beatles CDs came out in 2009) since the early 80s. It’s just not got a single one of my favorite Beatles’ tracks—I far prefer what was released on either side of it. I mention my “opinion” here in passing only to explain what I felt like going in...

When the package arrived last week containing the six-disc deluxe edition, I assumed, due to the HEFT of the thing that I had just gotten a care package with about 25 albums in it from one of the labels. Nope, just one BIG box set and one that’s very heavy. The slipcase is a spectacular and eye-popping re-rendering of the famous “people we like” artwork by Peter Blake and Jann Haworth in the form of a glued-on 12” by 12” 3-D lenticular. It’s seriously cool and positively shouts “first class” and signals “archival edition” from the very start.

You slide that off to find a replica of the box containing the master tapes. Open that and there’s a high gloss recreation of the original album jacket which houses six discs—4 CDs (new stereo mix, outtakes, 1967 mono mix, element reels), one Blu-ray with a 5.1 surround mix done by Giles Martin (and some video material) and one regular DVD with the same material in lower resolution. There’s also a really good 144-page hardback book with fascinating essays, as well as nicely printed recreations of a full-color vintage UK in-store marketing poster for the album, the original “cut outs” insert and—and this is ABSOLUTELY SWELL—the Victorian-era circus poster that inspired John Lennon to write “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite.” Don’t tell me that’s not an inspired inclusion! It’s also something completely essential to a better understanding of the music and there for a reason (unlike the fucking marbles that came with The Dark Side of the Moon box set. MARBLES!) Many will already know the backstory, but if you don’t, and even if you do, having that poster in front of you as you contemplate the creation of that song as it’s playing is positively delightful in every way. And that sort of attention to detail is yet another reason why this box set is a cut above so many others.
 

 
The main events here, of course, are the newly minted stereo and 5.1 surround mixes by Giles Martin. Both are absolutely incredible. If you don’t already have a 5.1 listening situation in your home, now might be the time to upgrade. Seriously. Hearing Sgt. Pepper’s in surround offers sonic revelation upon sonic revelation and is a deeply satisfying audiophile listening experience. Sgt. Pepper’s has always been a particularly good-sounding album, after all it was recorded in one of the very best studios in the world by perhaps the greatest record producer who has ever lived—but in this enhanced state, with the playback given room to breathe via five speakers and a subwoofer, it’s a different beast altogether from what we’re used to hearing. The music—which employs one of the most original and varied palettes of rainbow-colored sounds ever devised—is sharper, crisper, tighter, more alive sounding, etc., etc. than I’d have ever thought possible. At the time of the original recording, limited by how many tracks were available (four), the Beatles and George Martin would build source reels of overdubs and sound effects and then these element reels would be “bounced down” ultimately to the two-track stereo master or the mono mix. With analog audio tape, each layer or generation introduces an additional level of tape hiss. Add too many and it starts to sound murky.

Giles Martin and his team went back to these four track element reels and reassembled Sgt. Pepper’s from these earlier generation tapes, which had been kept in the EMI vaults. The results, whether the new stereo mix or the surround treatment, are remarkable. From the opening moments of the audience anticipating the start of a rock concert, you just know that you are about to experience something amazing—what audiophiles call an “eargasm.” It made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck as if I was really there standing among the audience—or in Abbey Road studios—waiting for the show to begin. Red lights, green lights, strawberry wine, if you know what I mean. And then BOOM it’s on. The title track rocks like a motherfucker.

As the story goes, it took the Beatles and George Martin three weeks to mix the mono version of the album, but after that, the band left and Martin mixed the stereo version alone in just three days. In 1967, stereo was still seen to be as much of a gimmick as 5.1 surround would be today. Most people owned a “record player” at the time with but a single speaker (and a carrying handle). George Harrison once described how the Beatles felt about hearing their music in stereo vs. mono: the stereo versions always sounded like “less” to them. By 1968 mono was already quickly being phased out and the stereo Sgt. Pepper’s became the default version. Most people have never even heard the mono version and although until now most of us haven’t had anything to compare it to, retroactively the “classic” stereo version seems much weaker than the more worked-over and considered mono mix. McCartney’s bass was much less focused and punchy; the same can be said for Ringo’s drums. What we are used to hearing is flatter and doesn’t necessarily feel like all of the musicians were playing together at the same time. The new stereo version corrects these deficiencies for 21st century sonic expectations and modern audio systems. Macca’s bass contributions are nimble, better-defined, more muscular and rubbery. Ringo’s kick drum thuds and his snare cracks without worry that the needle will jump out of the record’s grooves. There’s significant detail in the high end for the cymbals and hi-hats. The bottom end is never flabby or muddled, but now the rhythm section will vibrate the foundation of your house.

With the new 5.1 mix the soundstage is opened even wider, and although Martin’s mixes (both the new stereo and the 5.1 mix) have a respectful fealty to the original 1967 mono mix done by his father and the Fabs, here the listener is able to detect individual Beatle voices amidst densely layered harmonies and see even deeper into creation of the music.  Sound effects, like the swirling circus sounds in “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” are particularly three-dimensional. The sitars and tablas of “Within You, Without You” felt like psychedelic leaves falling around me, but no one can accuse Giles Martin of doing anything other than what should have been done. No more, but no less either. If you were hoping for something showier than the conservative 5.1 mixes on 2015’s Beatles #1 video set, Martin’s sparkling new Sgt. Pepper’s surround mixes do go a bit further out, but by and large expect immersion, not gimmickry. There’s still quite a bit of difference between music coming at you from two speakers vs. standing right in the middle of it in a concert hall. You can’t please everyone, but I feel like Martin hit the absolute sweetest spot here. Even the overly opinionated ponytailed baby boomer guy at the record store won’t be likely to cry “sacrilege” at this one.
 

 
Someone I know who also scored a review copy said that this new edition of Sgt. Pepper’s was like going from VHS to 4K.  Whereas I appreciate the point he was trying to make, let me remind you that Sgt. Pepper’s has never sounded bad! However, I would say that comparison holds up if he’d have said it’s akin to going from watching a DVD on a standard def TV circa 1999 to a SONY 4K OLED flatscreen today (have you seen this?) with a full complement of speakers and a subwoofer pumping out 5.1 surround. That’s still saying a hell of a lot.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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05.26.2017
05:05 pm
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Big hair, big muscles, totally 80s: Glorious images & footage of the lady wrestlers of ‘GLOW’
05.26.2017
11:59 am
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A few of the girls of ‘GLOW’ back in the 80s.
 
Next month, on June 23rd Netflix is launching the highly anticipated series based on the gonzo television series Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling or GLOW that got its start in Las Vegas back in 1986. I can’t lie—I’m one of those people who can hardly wait to binge-watch the series because I was a huge fan of the original TV series as well as the early days of the World Wrestling Federation (or the WWF) that dominated the television airwaves during the 80s.

If just the mere mention of GLOW makes you think you smell the heavy fragrance of Aqua Net while feeling terribly nostalgic for the gift that was bad television programming from the 80s, you are not alone. The decade was jam-packed with awesome and strange shows like Night Flight, The Young Ones, and Pee-wee’s Playhouse just to name a few. That was back when you could solve all your problems just by watching the tube while under the influence of Budweiser (tallboy, of course), and a $2 joint. Sure, I could easily reproduce that very same cheap buzz I just described but it just wouldn’t be the same now, would it? Getting back to GLOW, if you recall anything about the show you recall how purely campy it was, especially when the girls tried their hand at performing comedy skits. Then there was the cultivation of the right image for the fictional characters the women played on the show. For instance, there was Queen Kong (aka Dee Booher who also played “Matilda The Hun” on GLOW) who looked like a mashup of Divine and Fred Flintstone, and the blonde duo of Brandi Mae and Malibu looked like castoffs from another show that was still on the air during the 80s, Hee-Haw.

My personal favorites were always the girls who were decked out like the wrestling version of former Warlock vocalist Doro Pesch, who painted their faces like King Diamond, with glitter or Halloween spray-on hair color on their heads. There were a few that took on that style during the good-old-days of GLOW, following in the footsteps of season one stars Spike and Chainsaw Wilinsky, “The Heavy Metal Sisters.” There was also seemingly no need for political correctness on GLOW and often girls would portray a character that was based on their actual or perceived ethnicity. “Palestina” (Janeen Jewett) was supposed to be some sort of Middle Eastern terrorist with a penchant for wrestling and Latino stuntwoman Erica Marr was dubbed “Spanish Red.” One of the show’s more popular attractions was Samoan wrestler “Mt Fuji” (Emily Dole), who was descended from actual Samoan royalty. Back in 1976 while she was still in high school Dole nearly made it to the Olympics, thanks to her shot putting skills. And it would seem that having the ability to hurl heavy, metal balls long distances also translated to being able to twirl a girl over her head before tossing her out of the ring. GLOW was good times.
 

A group shot of the girls of GLOW.
 
Don’t get me wrong here, despite its high levels of soap opera silliness, the girls of GLOW were mostly tough women who worked out hard, lifted weights and liked to show their guns off like Hulk Hogan. Some were even stuntwomen (like Erica Marr) who were trying to break into Hollywood by pretending to break their opponents’ bones in the ring. The concept of doing a show featuring female wrestlers following a scripted storyline was the genius idea of David McLane. McLane got his start working with Dick the Bruiser—the former 260-pound NFL star who started his three-decade-long wrestling career in the 1950s. McLane would quickly excel as a promoter and later as a blow-by-blow commentator for the WWA (World Wrestling Association). Now here’s where things get a little bizarre—McLane would reach out to Jackie Stallone, you know, Sly’s mom, who was running a ladies-only gymnasium in Las Vegas called Barbarella’s. He pitched his show to Stallone who in turn gave him access to the girls who frequented her gym. The pair then enlisted the talent of Italian producer, director, and screenwriter (who was also briefly married to Jayne Mansfield before she died), Matt Climber, and GLOW was born.

The show itself was shot in a ballroom at what used to be the Riviera in Las Vegas before it was demolished last year, and if there’s a more appropriate setting for a wrestling match featuring gorgeous half-dressed women, I don’t know what would be. The girls of GLOW lived in Vegas and when they were out in public the ladies were required to stay in character. Split into two classes, the “good girls” and the “bad girls” the wrestlers were not allowed to fraternize with members not in their designated groups and would be fined if they did. Many of the girls lived full-time at the Rivera which the management of GLOW paid for and received $300 bucks a week and free tickets to the hotel’s buffet for their work on the show. If all this has gotten you chomping at the bit in anticipation of the new series then I’d suggest you check out the fantastic 2012 documentary GLOW: The Story Of The Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling. I don’t want to give anything away about that but my eyes leaked a little when some of the former cast members were reunited, many of whom hadn’t seen or spoken to each other for two-plus decades. I’ve posted some great vintage shots of the girls of GLOW below as well as some footage from the original show, including the infamous “GLOW Rap” that opened season one. I also threw up the trailer for upcoming series of GLOW on Netflix in case you haven’t seen it yet.

If this trip down memory lane doesn’t make you smile, your lips might be broken. You should probably have that checked out. Some of the photos are slightly NSFW.
 

Dee Booher as “Matilda the Hun.” Booher has fallen on hard times and is currently trying to raise some much needed cash for medical expenses. Help out if you can here.
 

Spike and Chainsaw Wilinsky aka “The Heavy Metal Sisters.”
 
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Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.26.2017
11:59 am
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Try to imagine how insane this TV footage of Roxy Music (with Brian Eno) looked in the early 1970s

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Roxy Music: Not just another guitar band.
 
The great Roy Wood said on some late-nite radio show that for a long time he thought Ike and Tina Turner were a cool-sounding R&B band called I Can Turn A Corner. Easy mistake. For a long time, I thought Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music was singing about “wee-wees up the walls, and mashed-potato smalls…” when he sang “weary of the waltz, and mashed-potato schmaltz” on “Do the Strand.”

That I thought Roxy Music could sing about urination as decoration or squidgy y-fronts and not consider it at all out of place in their repertoire gives but some small idea as to how radical, how shocking, how breathtakingly original Roxy Music seemed when they first landed. Their debut single was named after a packet of cigarettes (“Virginia Plain”—actually a painting of a packet of cigarettes). They sang about blow-up dolls (“In Every Dream Home a Heartache”), and a kind of Ballardian love interest contained/hidden in a car’s license plate—the CPL 593H on “Re-make/Re-model.” So why not edible undergarments? It seemed all too feasible in an era of instant mash, Angel Delight, moon landings, Teflon frying pans, group sex, safari suits, and silver hot pants.

Roxy Music sounded as if they had just beamed down from outer space and brought along the music of the spheres. In fact, they had. Roxy Music was the sound of the future—but we just didn’t realize it then. Roxy was so overwhelmingly new. No one knew what to think. The group was originally comprised of Bryan Ferry (vocals, keys, and chief songwriter), Graham Simpson (bass), Phil Manzanera (guitar), Andy Mackay (saxophone and oboe), Paul Thompson (drums and percussion), and last but not least, Brian Eno (VCS3 synthesizer, tape effects, backing vocals and “treatments”). Ferry had started the band alongside Graham Simpson. The cool suave vocalist came from a poor working class background. His grandfather had courted his grandmother on a horse and plow for ten years before getting married. Times were tough. Ferry later claimed his parents lived “vicariously” though they were always better dressed than everyone else. It was via his mother that Ferry got his introduction to rock ‘n’ roll—she took him a Bill Haley concert in the 1950s. But Ferry preferred jazz and soul and his ambition was for a career in art and possibly teaching if that didn’t work out.

This all changed after Ferry hitchhiked to London to catch an Otis Redding concert. Redding was one of the greatest soul singers/performers of all time. It was a life-changing experience. Ferry knew he had to be a singer.
 
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Roxy model for the IKEA catalog.
 
Most of his life Ferry had felt out-of-step with his contemporaries. He felt like “an oddity.” It wasn’t until he started studying Fine Art under the tutelage of pop artist Richard Hamilton at Newcastle University that he found the confidence to push forward with his own ideas and believe in his own talents. Inspired by Redding and by Hamilton’s pop art aesthetic, Ferry started writing songs. He also started singing and performing. Graduating in 1968, Ferry moved to London. After a couple of false starts with the bands the Banshees and Gasboard, Ferry formed Roxy Music with Simpson in 1970. Andy MacKay and Eno soon joined, then Thompson and finally Phil Manzanera.

As Manzanera later recalled, the rich diversity of those early sessions together created Roxy sound:

“We’d start off with ‘Memphis Soul’ Stew, and then we’d go into ‘The Bob (Medley)’, this heavy bizarre thing about the Battle Of Britain with synths and sirens. We had everything in there from King Curtis to The Velvet Underground to systems music to ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll. At the time we said this was ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s rock’n'roll. Eno would respond to something that sounded like it came off the first Velvets album, then Ferry would play something ‘50s and I’d play my version of ‘50s. I was always a terrible session player. I could never learn a solo and I stuck that ‘not quite right’ approach onto Roxy. Six people in a band created this hybrid.”

More early Roxy Music, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.26.2017
11:41 am
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VHS fan builds a functional video rental store in his basement: ‘It’s like the 80s threw up’
05.26.2017
09:43 am
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Though the advent of streaming video has made nearly any programming under the sun just a few quick clicks away, some of us still miss the ritual of going to a video store and spending quality time browsing the aisles searching for a particular title that struck our fancy.

There was something really special about investing such time planning for how you would further invest your time later in the evening with whatever stack you decided was worthy of a viewing. The video store experience allowed us the opportunity to peruse and investigate and make decisions based upon lurid box art or recommendations from geeky employees or the fact that the movie we really wanted to see was already checked out, but this other, more obscure film, in the same genre is available.The video store experience gave us the thrill of the hunt, and made the reward of that particular two-day-rental that much sweeter. Algorithms that tell us what we are likely to enjoy remove the sense of discovery that the video store provided.

One Houston, Texas-based VHS collector has taken his nostalgia for the video store experience to a level of awesome that most would never consider. He has recreated an ‘80s style video store in his basement.

Jason Champion’s Champion Video is a fully-functional video rental outlet that issues memberships and boasts over 4,500 titles. True to the era, memberships and rentals are tracked on an ancient Commodore 64 computer with a spreadsheet program.

In an interview for Lunchmeatvhs.com, Mr. Champion details the shop’s authenticity:

There is a display case with candy, trading cards, VCRs, blank tapes, tape rewinders, and popcorn for people to “buy.”  Also, I have a horror themed arcade set on free play, since a lot of old video stores used to have them. Oh man, there’s so much more stuff like video store promos, posters, horror and 80s collectibles all over the place, it’s like the 80s threw up everywhere.

Lots of people have basement “man-caves,” but it’s really something else to completely recreate a specific environment that harkens back to a simpler time. I’ve got to hand it to Mr. Champion, this is beyond cool.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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05.26.2017
09:43 am
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Unhappy meal: McDonald’s ‘Free Razor with Breakfast’ 1978 promotional campaign
05.26.2017
09:40 am
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In the mid-1970’s disposable razors hit the market and were all the rage which led to a very bizarre tie-in with USA’s largest fast food chain restaurant. In 1978 (and then again in 1986) McDonald’s launched a nationwide “Free Razor with Breakfast Entree” promotional campaign. Apparently back then it never occurred to anybody that eating and shaving are two things that should never be combined.
 

 
With the launch of their very first breakfast menu in 1985, Wendy’s jumped on the razor bladewagon as well. They offered the exact same “Free Razors with Your Breakfast” promotion, although they exercised a bit more caution: while McDonald’s gave the razors to any kid who was accompanied by an adult, Wendy’s required all customers to be over eighteen. Naturally, lawsuits followed, many customers attempted to sue the fast food chains, and over the years dozens of customers alleged to have found razors inside of their Egg McMuffins.
 

 

Posted by Doug Jones
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05.26.2017
09:40 am
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The B-52s’ lost recipe for sweet potato cornbread
05.26.2017
09:24 am
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Some principles are non-negotiable. I like talking to people whose views on religion, politics, food, the environment, hairdos and footwear differ from my own. But I stand firmly behind Dangerous Minds’ “zero tolerance” policy for anyone who doesn’t like the B-52s. Those jerks can wash down a plate of boiled shoe leather with a cold glass of splinters. The rest of us will be borne aloft on the angelic sounds of Ricky Wilson’s guitar and the subtle flavors of Cindy Wilson’s sweet potato cornbread.

This recipe ran in the B-52s’ fan club newsletter. I came across it on the blog Evenings with Peter, which also broke the story of Fred Schneider’s Italian-style Soba noodles.

CORN BREAD WITH SWEET POTATO IN IT

2 cups cornmeal
1 cup flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
⅔ brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 medium size sweet potato (cooked and mashed)

1. Preheat oven to 450.
2. Sift dry ingredients together.
3. Beat egg, add wet ingredients, mix together.
4. Coat cast iron skillet with cooking oil. Put in oven to get hot. When hot, pour in batter.
5. Leave in oven about 20 minutes.

A regular baking pan can be used instead.

After the jump, the B-52s go in search of “Quiche Lorraine” in Passaic, NJ…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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05.26.2017
09:24 am
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Your Mother Should Know: Newly unearthed 1967 Frank Zappa interview taped at a Detroit head shop
05.26.2017
09:22 am
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Mothers ad
 
On November 13th, 1967, Frank Zappa was interviewed by two radio DJs at a head shop in Detroit. The conversation aired on the 18th and was promptly forgotten about. Recently, one of the DJs found the recording, which has been digitized and uploaded for the world to hear.

At the time, Zappa was promoting the upcoming Mothers of Invention gigs in the area. The band were scheduled to perform on December 1st at Ford Auditorium in Detroit, and on the 2nd and 3rd at the Fifth Dimension in Ann Arbor. The interviewers, Joe Doll and Dave Pierce, were involved with the University of Michigan’s student-run community radio station, WCBN. Their 30-minute chat with Zappa aired on Doll’s program, Strobe.
 
clipping
 
Topics include the holdup of the release of the next Mothers album, We’re Only In It For The Money; why rock music is the best means to express his beliefs; questioning societal conventions; and lighter fare like Frank’s thoughts on the Beatles, and his pending appearance on The Monkees. I especially enjoyed hearing FZ talk about marketing, advertising, and sales figures related to the Mothers’ output, partly due to those subjects being taboo for most ‘60s counter-culture acts. The interview does get a bit quarrelsome at times, which makes for stimulating listening, that’s for sure! Mixed Media, the bookstore/head shop where the chat took place, was located in the area of Detroit now called Midtown.

It was Joe Doll who found the tape not long ago, and the recording recently aired on WCBN once again. The audio sounds fantastic, especially when considering it’s nearly 50 years old and was previously thought to have been lost. Listen via Doll’s website, where the digital file is also available to be downloaded for free.
 
FZ
 
Audio from the Mothers of Invention’s performance in Ann Arbor on December 3rd, 1967:
 

Posted by Bart Bealmear
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05.26.2017
09:22 am
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Of Skinheads, Suedeheads and Knuckle Girls: The gritty novels of Richard Allen
05.25.2017
04:02 pm
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In the 1960s the New English Library, a British subsidiary of the New American Library, had been plodding along churning out westerns and science fiction novels, but after approximately 1970 the imprint stumbled on a new audience that would make it lots of money. For young men who grew up in Britain during the era, the New English Library was an endless source of high-octane pulp fiction about the rough and tumble of the urban street.

The name applied to the genre eventually came to be “bovver,” as in “bovver boys” or “bovver boots”—it was a corruption of “bother”—but many also simply think of them as the Skinhead books. They were geared toward a working-class youth audience and saw opportunities in the mostly white subcultures that were coming into being at the time, skinheads, punks, bikers, and mods, with attention also paid to girl gangs. Using photographic covers for automatic authenticity, the books crammed as much telltale detail of “the life” as possible. Many readers were certain that the author must be “one of them”—which was not really true.

As Harry Sword wrote in his memorable VICE story about the publishing company from 2014 “The New English Library was the maniacal king of pulp publishing in 1970s Britain.” “Maniacal” was an apt descriptor: One of the hallmarks of this new type of fiction was that books were churned out at an incredibly fast rate. Sword quotes Mark Howell, employed by “the NEL” in the early 1970s:
 

That damn delivery schedule was the most driving force I’ve ever met in publishing. You just had to get it out there—it was breakneck, insane. I started a series called Deathlands, and the first writer I gave it to had done a wonderful first story and was given the green light—and spent his entire advance on heroin, which, back in those days, was not unknown. It was crippling for some, but most of our writers were addicts of the typewriter, and one of the glories of this was that it was a conveyer belt—we thoroughly addicted our readers. It was endless repetition stemming from unresolved anomaly.

 
The most successful books of the NEL were the Skinhead series, which focused on a “misanthropic 16-year-old thug” named Joe Hawkins. The Skinhead books were incredibly violent and trafficked heavily in racism, rape, robbery, and gang beatings. To read one of the Richard Allen books was to enter a world of “cold rain, futility, bad sex, spilt blood and stale beer” set in an indistinguishable series of East London tenements.

The books were credited to “Richard Allen” but the identity of the author was actually James Moffat, a Canadian-born author who cold generate 10,000 words a day and published roughly 300 books over his long career. He died in 1993 at the age of 71.

As Howell says, “We had a market who were always hungry for more. The James Moffat Skinhead books sold in their millions.” The first novel of the Joe Hawkins series, Skinhead, was published in 1970. A year later the book Suedehead came out. Those two books as well as Skinhead Escapes were reprinted in 2015 by Dean Street Press.
 

 

 
Much more after the jump…....

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.25.2017
04:02 pm
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Death is My Lover: The Decadent Erotic Art of Takato Yamamoto (NSFW)

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Some artists keep their lives hidden so the focus remains solely on their work.

Takato Yamamoto appears to be such an artist.

Outside of Japan, there is little known about Takato Yamamoto other than he is a Japanese artist who produces beautiful, dark, exquisite paintings of sex and death. Type his name into any search engine and up will pop the words “beautiful,” “dark,” “exquisite,” “sex,” and” death.” 

There is also the standard paragraph biography:

Takato Yamamoto was born in Akita Prefecture (Japan) in 1960. After graduating from the painting department of the Tokyo Zokei University, he experimented with the Ukiyo-e Pop style. He further refined and developed that style to create his “Heisei estheticism” style. His first exhibition was held in Tokyo, in 1998.

Yamamoto tags his work “Heisei estheticism.” But this doesn’t really mean much. It’s just a nominal title for something created during the Heisei period. The Heisei period started on January 8th, 1989, with the death of Emperor Hirohito and the ascension of his son Emperor Akihito. It’s little more than a descriptive time frame like saying Shakespeare’s work is Elizabethan drama. The “estheticism” bit references the Aesthetic Movement, which believed in “art for art’s sake” with an emphasis on “the visual and sensual qualities of art and design over practical, moral or narrative considerations.”

The Heisei period is supposedly about the promotion of peace. Yamamoto’s response to this is not only simply aesthetic but also decadent as in the Decadent art movement of the late 19th-century. The French author and pioneer of the Decadent movement, Charles Baudelaire described “decadence” as a preference for what is beautiful and exotic, a literal surrendering to the fantastical. This could be a description of Yamamoto’s work. A closer look reveals there are also some other influences—some Art Nouveau and more than a hint of the Symbolists.

Let’s start with Yamamoto’s mix of sex and fantastical horror which suggest the Decadent paintings of Félicien Rops. The pig motif recalls Rops’ Pornokratès. While his imagery of death contained within the embrace of love recalls Rops obsession with women as potential destroyers—an obsession born out of his fear of syphilis. Add in some other Decadent themes like vampirism, torture, disembowelment, the old favorite of young girls in bondage, and some delicate homoeroticism featuring some beautiful whey-faced androgynous boys, then we have the full checklist.

Then there is Yamamoto’s intricate and exquisite style which recalls the illustrative work of Art Nouveau artists Aubrey Beardsley and Harry Clarke.

All of these clues reveal a highly cultured and intelligent artist creating his own distinctive and, let’s be frank, deeply personal style through the prism of past artistic movements. It’s post-modernist pick ‘n’ mix. Part graphic novel, part Decadent fantasy, part Heisei esthetic, wholly Tamako Yamamoto.
 
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See more of Yamaoto’s work, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.25.2017
12:21 pm
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‘Female Trouble’ dolls and other imagined retro toys based on John Waters films
05.25.2017
10:01 am
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Divine as “Dawn Davenport” doll
 
Opening today at La MaMa Galleria at 47 Great Jones Street in Manhattan (and there until June 24) is “Lost Merchandise of the Dreamlanders” a show featuring shouldabeen toys and other fake retro “merchandise” based on characters and situations from the films of John Waters:

Do you remember eating Divine breakfast cereal or sleeping on Pink Flamingos bed sheets when you were a kid? Neither do we, but you just might upon viewing this oddball array of rare collectibles. Lost Merchandise of the Dreamlanders is a showcase of kitschy and ironic retail items based on the early films of Baltimore director John Waters. Discover forgotten toys, home decor, and seasonal artifacts featuring familiar Dreamlander movie personalities. Presented in the spirit of a Sunday morning garage sale, the exhibit revels in the strange, nostalgic appeal of the 70s and 80s.

The Dreamlander exhibition is the brainchild of Tyson Tabbert, a sculptor at New York’s Asher Levine fashion house, who looked into officially licensing some of John Waters characters for the toy market a few years ago, but found that this probably wasn’t in the cards:

“I was initially able to contact someone at Warner Brothers to discuss the possibility of making the figures legit. But the possibility of licensing them was, as I interpreted it, slim at best.”

Undeterred, Tabbert got some artist friends together to create some of the products he had in mind for an art show. Everything in the show is a period piece (ahem) designed to look like vintage toys. There’s even a bedspread! Tabbert self-financed much of the work, which also includes plastic Halloween masks of Connie and Raymond Marble from Pink Flamingos, a Desperate Living tea service and a metal ashtray inspired by Lobstora, the giant lobster that rapes Divine in Multiple Maniacs.

If you are looking for some officially licensed Divine swag, there’s an online Divine shop that sells T-shirts, tote bags, pins and other stuff.

 
The final scene from ‘Female Trouble’
 

Taffy’s parents, Dawn and Earl (both played by Divine) meet cute in a tableau inspired by a scene in ‘Female Trouble’
 

Metal Lobstora ashtray
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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05.25.2017
10:01 am
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