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Amanda Lear: 70s disco diva, fashion model, TV star and Salvador Dali’s transsexual muse

Model, painter, disco diva, TV personality and the absolute fiercest of the pioneering transsexuals (along with Candy Darling), Amanda Lear was born Alain Maurice Louis René Tap in Saigon, 1939. Or it could have been Paris. Or Hong Kong. The year might have been 1941, 1945 or as she now claims 1950. There is much competing information about her parents, none of it conclusive. In general, not much is known for sure about the early life of Amanda Lear and she would very much like to keep it that way. She claims to have been educated in Switzerland and she eventually made her way to Paris in 1959, taking the stage name “Peki d’Oslo,” performing as a stripper at the notorious drag bar, Le Carrousel.

Amanda Lear’s mid-60s model card.
The story goes that the gangly, yet exotic Eurasian beauty Peki had a nose job and sex change in Casablanca paid for by none other than the Surrealist master Salvador Dali, who frequented Le Carrousel, in 1963. Amanda, as she is now known, then makes her way to London to become a part of the swinging Chelsea set where she is rumored to have had a relationship with Rolling Stone Brian Jones. She models for Yves St. Laurent and Paco Rabanne and is a constant muse for the Divine Dali, but her career is held back by rumors that she was born a man or was a hermaphrodite.

‘For Your Pleasure’ cover
Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry saw Lear on the runway during an Ossie Clark fashion show and invited her to be the model for Roxy’s For Your Pleasure album cover, walking a black panther on a leash. They were briefly engaged and that image has become iconic. Lear also had a yearlong affair with David Bowie who serenaded her with “Sorrow” in his “1980 Floor Show” (broadcast on The Midnight Special in 1974). Bowie helped Lear launch her musical career and by the late 1970s she had become a bestselling disco singer and television personality in Europe with hits like “Follow Me,” “Queen of Chinatown” and “I Am a Photograph.”

The David Bailey photograph of Lear that appeared in the infamous 1971 Dali-edited issue of French Vogue
Amanda Lear’s autobiography, My Life With Dali came out in 1985 and it begins when she would have been approximately 24 or 25 years of age. Almost no mention whatsoever is made of her life before arriving in London in 1965. When Dali biographer Ian Gibson confronted her on camera about the gender of her birth in his The Fame and Shame of Salvador Dali TV documentary, Lear angrily—and not at all convincingly—stonewalled him. She has always vehemently denied that she was a transsexual despite it being a well-established fact. She even posed nude for Playboy and several other men’s magazines and often sunbathed naked on beaches to dispel the rumors. All this really proved was that she had a kickin’ bod, but if you ask me, I think it’s sad that she choses to keep up this pretense. She should be rightfully celebrated for her biggest accomplishment in life—ironically, being true to herself—but apparently Amanda Lear just doesn’t see it that way.

Amanda Lear vehemently denies having had a sex change on German television 1977.
Today Amanda Lear still looks amazing—she’s practically ageless no matter what her real biological age might be—and continues to perform all over Europe. She’s sold somewhere in the vicinity of fifteen million albums and 25 million singles. She also has a thriving career as a painter and an original painting of hers can sell for $10,000 or more. She’s done stage acting and was the voice of Edna ‘E’ Mode in the Italian-dubbed version of The Incredibles. Lear was a judge on the Italian version of Dancing with the Stars.
“The Stud” from 1979’s ‘Sweet Revenge’ album

Much more of Amanda Lear, after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
In Their Own Write: Handwritten lyrics by Nick Cave, David Bowie, Joey Ramone, Kate Bush and more

Beat writer Alexander Trocchi was wise to the easy money to be made from selling handwritten drafts of famous works of literature. When short of cash for his drug habit, Trocchi would write out in longhand one of his novels (Young Adam, White Thighs, whichever) and sell it on to some collector as the one and only original handwritten manuscript. It kept him from finding a job or worse, from writing something new. Across London and Paris there’s probably dozens of these supposed “originals” cobbled together by Trocchi in his moment of need.

If Trocchi had lived and tried the same today, he would probably have been found out for his ruse as the market for original handwritten drafts to books, poetry and pop songs is now a mega business.

Last year, Bob Dylan’s handwritten lyrics for “Like A Rolling Stone” was sold at auction for $2 million. In 2005, John Lennon’s pen-drafted words for “All You Need is Love” made $1.25 million at auction, while in April 2015, Don Maclean’s handwritten lyric sheet for “American Pie” sold for $1,205,000.

Handwritten pop lyrics are as valuable as works of art—in fact they are works of art—as in this digital age where everything is written by keyboard, the value of such pen-scrawled texts on legal pad or hotel note paper only increase in value year on year. Though the top ten most expensive lyric sheets are about 2/3 the work of John Lennon (4) and Bob Dylan (2), there are plenty of other musicians out there who are finding their first drafts to popular songs offer them or their inheritors a comfortable pension.
David Bowie’s handwritten lyrics for ‘Jean Genie’ made $29,063 at auction.
Bowie: Lyric detail for ‘Jean Genie.’
Ziggy jams with a ballpoint pen: David Bowie’s handwritten lyrics for ‘Ziggy Stardust.’
One of Nick Cave’s many notebooks with original lyrics for ‘No Pussy Blues.’
Cave’s typed lyrics for ‘Push the Sky Away.’
No notebook or typewriter for Joey Ramone—the lyrics for ‘Disassembled’ were written on an old Alka Seltzer box.
More original pop lyrics, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
That time when David Bowie’s ex-wife tried to become a TV superhero

Angie Bowie as Wonder Woman
Angie Bowie as “Wonder Woman”
Back in the mid-70s when David and Angie Bowie were pretty much the hottest couple around, Angie auditioned for the lead role in the ABC TV series based on the DC comic book character, Wonder Woman. The part would go to former Miss USA Lynda Carter who would star in the much loved ABC Wonder Woman television series during its nearly four-year run after its debut in 1975.

Not only did Bowie audition for Wonder Woman (using her modeling name “Jipp Jones”), she also managed to acquire the rights to create a TV series or perhaps a film based on the comic book characters Daredevil and Black Widow from none other than Stan Lee. Armed with some pretty cool photographs taken by Terry O’Neill (with actor Ben Carruthers in the Daredevil costume), Bowie was sadly unsuccessful in getting anybody interested in producing the project and, outside of O’Neill’s photos, it never saw the light of day.
Angie Bowie as Black Widow
Angie Bowie as “Black Widow”
Angie Bowie (as Black Widow) and actor Ben Carruthers (as Daredevil)
Angie Bowie (as Black Widow) and actor Ben Carruthers (as Daredevil)
In Bowie’s autobiography from 1993, Backstage Passes: Life on the Wild Side with David Bowie, the model, actress and mother to one of The Thin White Duke’s two children, director Duncan Jones, wrote about her experience auditioning for the part of Wonder Woman back in 1974. A role she might have lost because she wasn’t wearing a bra when she arrived for her screen test:

First I showed them the photographs, which totally flabbergasted the director- things were going well so far- but then, before I went to my dressing room to don the stipulated turtleneck, some woman from the studio came up to me. “I see you’re not wearing a bra,” she said. “You have to wear one for the screen test. It’s mandatory.” I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t worn a bra for years. “Well, if that’s what you want, okay,” I said. “But I think you’re going to have a problem finding one small enough

Angie Bowie as Wonder Woman
Bowie also writes that after shooting down a “casting couch” come-on during the audition process, she came to the realization that she was never really being considered for the role. Apparently the whole thing was a bit of a PR stunt to help promote David Bowie’s “1980 Floor Show” edition of The Midnight Special, which Bowie also detials in her autobiography. 

More photos of Angie Bowie looking hot as hell as Wonder Woman, after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Shower curtains of Adam Ant, Wu-Tang, Nick Cave, David Bowie’s mug-shot (and everything in-between!)

David Bowie mug-shot shower curtain
David Bowie mug-shot shower curtain
One of the two driving forces behind Dangerous Minds, Tara McGinley has noted in the past that she has a “slightly unhealthy” obsession with shower curtains. Something that we share in common when it comes to coveting the wide variety of shower curtains that can usually be had for less than a hundred bucks out there on the Internets. Here are some of my current favorites.
Wendy O. Williams and The Plasmatics shower curtain
Wendy O. Williams and The Plasmatics shower curtain
Wu-Tang Clan shower curtain
Wu-Tang Clan shower curtain
So, if you always wanted a shower curtain featuring David Bowie’s 1976 mug-shot (when Bowie and Iggy Pop were arrested in Rochester, New York for possessing about 6.4 ounces of marijuana and pictured at the top of this post), then today is your lucky day (and I’d act fast before those pesky “cease and desist” letters cause some of these items disappear). Most of the shower curtains in this post can be found sites such as eBay, Fine Art America (where you’ll find the most of the ones I featured today), Society6, and Angry, Young and Poor.
Fight Club (featuring Tyler Durden) shower curtain
Fight Club’s Tyler Durden
Many, many more, after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
David Bowie on ‘Stage’: ‘Low’ and ‘Heroes’ live in concert, 1978
05:01 pm


David Bowie

One of the best Bowie bootleg videos that’s been floating around for at least 30 years is the professional recording of six numbers from his 1978 “Isolar II” tour, shot on film at the Dallas Convention Center performance of April 10th, 1978. No matter the short running time, this is one of the finest live Bowie documents we’ve got and it hails from one of his most creative and fertile periods as an artist. It’s incredible to me that neither this nor the “1980 Floor Show” (Bowie’s Midnight Special special from 1973) has ever been made available for the home DVD market. According to the YouTube uploader (and Wikipedia) this was broadcast as “David Bowie On Stage” on US TV, but I can’t recall that. When this first started making its way around the VHS tape-trading underground, it was described as something that RCA did actually produce with the notion of releasing it to the consumer market, but in 1978 this would have been too early for anyone but the earliest adopters.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
F*ck yeah there’s a Tumblr dedicated to David Bowie as Aladdin Sane artwork
10:36 am


David Bowie
Aladdin Sane

Ceramic bust of Jesus as Aladdin Sane
Ceramic bust of Jesus as Aladdin Sane
Here’s a great time-killer for your Monday—an excellent Tumblr dedicated to showcasing artwork based on the cover of David Bowie’s 1973 album, Aladdin Sane.
Aladdin Sane balloon with wig
Aladdin Sane balloon with wig from the Fuck Yeah Aladdin Sane Tumblr
From knit sweater patterns (that you can actually make yourself by the way) and street art, to cookies and sculptures, the Fuck Yeah Aladdin Sane Tumblr has a pretty incredible collection of Aladdin Sane-inspired artwork and creations. I could pretty much spend an entire day looking at Bowie in his Aladdin Sane guise, couldn’t you? This makes it easier!

The person behind this excellent Tumblr encourages its readers to submit Aladdin Sane-related artwork, with the last entry going up about a month ago. And to all this I say “Fuck YEAH, Aladdin Sane” keep it coming.
Aladdin Sane 1/4 scale wax bust with cat fur by Switchum
Aladdin Sane 1/4 scale bust, wax with cat fur by Switchum
Aladdin Sane cookies are too pretty to eat
Aladdin Sane cookies are too glammy to eat
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘All the Young Dudes’: The Ballad of Mott the Hoople

It was producer-cum-manager Guy Stevens who brought the disparate members of Mott the Hoople together and gave them their iconic name. The name was lifted from a pulp novel by Willard Manus which Stevens had read while in prison—it gave the band a certain outlaw image—a bit like Alex and his droogs in A Clockwork Orange. Stevens hoped Mott the Hoople would produce a new kind of rock ‘n’ roll—a hybrid of Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones—which he finalized by replacing original lead singer Stan Tippins with songwriter/session musician Ian Hunter and his leonine curls.

They may have looked like the heshers from your high school woodwork class (or “hod carriers in drag” as Queen’s Roger Taylor once famously quipped), but their seeming ordinariness belied the fact there was no one to equal Mott the Hoople as a live band or as pioneers in progressing the rock ‘n’ roll art form. They inspired an army of fans, many of whom (including Mick Jones of The Clash, who Guy Stevens would later produce) went on to form their own bands or write/work in the music industry. But their success onstage was never quite equaled by record sales. Added to which, they were eclectic as a band—guitarist Mick Ralphs was more aligned to blues and rock, while Hunter wrote in response to Steven’s often chaotic and contradictory demands, which meant their first three albums were very different to each other—rock, dark soul-searching songs and folk rock—and seemingly at odds with the exuberance of their stage shows. However a brilliant fourth album, Brain Capers (1971), focused the group into a new direction and won them a very important fan—David Bowie—who was to bring them a much needed hit.
After a dispiriting gig at converted gas station in Switzerland, where the audience just sat and gaped, Mott decided to call it a day. Returning to England, bassist Peter Overend Watts auditioned for Bowie’s band. Bowie hearing his favorite band had split offered Mott a song. Bowie first proferred “Suffragette City” which was knocked back, then “All the Young Dudes” which Hunter later claimed was the one that made the hairs rise on the back of his neck and everyone knew it was a hit. It was a song that perfectly captured what it was like to be young in the summer of 1972.

World tours, hit singles and three classic albums followed, but Mott’s success was all too short as keyboard player Verden Allen quit, then guitarist Ralphs left to form Bad Company, and eventually Hunter himself found the pressure way too much and left. Mott the Hoople became just “Mott” with Watts and drummer Dale “Buffin” Griffin being the only remaining original members—but they never had the same success. The creative magic Guy Stevens had seen in Mott’s original members was now sadly gone—a shame for they should have kept on together for another year or two or more. But tastes change, fans grow up, and the ride still goes on somewhere else.

With contributions from virtually all of the key players, The Ballad of Mott the Hoople tells the story of one the seventies best and most loved bands from their formation to their untimely demise.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
There’s a life-size David Bowie pillow doll
11:05 am

Pop Culture

David Bowie
home decorating

If you ever wanted to eat an ice cream cone sitting on David Bowie’s lap… now is your chance! Proxy Shop on Etsy makes these life-size David Bowie pillow dolls for $400 + shipping.

The Lifesize David Bowie Pillow stands 66” tall and is the ultimate gift for a David Bowie fan’s home decor.

Sit this Bowie doll onto a daybed or sofa, against a wall as a soft sculpture artwork or on the floor as a makeshift chair.

Handcrafted from high quality printed fabric that is silky soft to the touch and backed with sturdy broadcloth, this tribute to David Bowie’s famous Ziggy Stardust costume design is an utterly unique addition to any Bowie fan’s home.

These life-size decorative pillows are all handcrafted and made to order.

Now can we have a Nick Cave pillow, please?



Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Professor vows to ‘spend a year as David Bowie’
09:27 am


David Bowie

Will Brooker, a professor of film and cultural studies at Kingston University, is going to write a book on David Bowie, and, in order to do it, intends to eat, sleep, and dress like the legendary rock and roll icon. In order to gain a better understanding of the musician over the more than 40 years of his magnificent career, Brooker will immerse himself in the trappings of the pop icon’s life in what has been dubbed “The Method,” a process of transformative immersion.

This unusual and arduous process will lead to a written account of the year-long experiment under the name “Forever Stardust.” Brooker’s areas of expertise include Alice in Wonderland and Batman. His most recent book is Hunting the Dark Knight: Twenty-First Century Batman.

Bowie was perhaps the first rock and roll celebrity who is renowned for rapid, chameleonic and experimental changes in his persona, which often inspired those in the fashion world—later musicians of this type include Madonna and Lady Gaga. It will be a challenge for Brooker to maintain so many identities in such a short time, although fortunately, as he got older, Bowie’s wardrobe became more conservative as well.

Indeed—not only his wardrobe! Bowie famously spent a good chunk of the 1970s abusing drugs and experimenting with the occult while living in Los Angeles around when Station to Station was recorded (an album Bowie does not remember recording).

As Brooker said recently on an interview on Australian radio,

I’ve been reading some of the books that Bowie read, though, and he was very much into the occult, Aleister Crowley, ah, Nazism—you know, all kinds of strange literature, and some of that reading does have an effect on your thinking, especially if you’re doing without sleep, long-distance flights, and so on, you know? If you’re reading some strange science-fiction and books about magic, you know, you can get into Bowie’s head, you can see and sometimes quite a strange place, a dangerous place, a place you wouldn’t want to live too long.

Brooker continued, “It’s fortunate that I’m going through Bowie’s career chronologically, because by ’83 he was pretty clean, so I’m kind of looking forward to that, I think I’ll get a tan, get fit.”

Brooker identifies as a David Bowie fan, of course, but—paradoxically, perhaps—not an obsessive one.


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
That time David Bowie mailed a pig fetus to a writer at Rolling Stone
10:47 am


David Bowie
Rolling Stone
Tin Machine

David Bowie
On a recent episode of Adam Carolla’s podcast, writer and Rolling Stone contributing editor David Wild revealed that David Bowie once sent him a most unusual gift.

“I was doing a story with David Bowie when he was in Tin Machine. This is early ‘90s. He was somehow there when I got a gift from Tom Petty, who sent me an Indian peace pipe. He [Bowie] goes, “I gotta get you a gift at the end of this piece?” I said, “No, no. You don’t have to do that.” He then went on tour with Tin Machine, and was somewhere in Asia, and he called and goes, “I just got you the perfect gift.” It was a pig fetus in glass. He sent this to me…. The border police, they absolutely shut it down, and it never got to me. But there were weeks and weeks of him checking in to see if a pig fetus had ever arrived. I personally was actually very glad it never came.”

So, apparently Bowie meant this offering to be a genuine “thank you”? It sure seems that way. How would you feel if David Bowie mailed you a pig fetus in glass? On one hand, it’s gross and weird, but on the other hand, you’d have a gift from David Bowie!! It’d sure make for an interesting conversation starter…
'Heroes' cover shoot
Below is a fan-shot video of Tin Machine from a concert held at Civic Hall in Wolverhampton, England on November 2nd, 1991. In the clip, the band is covering the Pixies number “Debaser,” which was part of their live set at the time, though they never released a recorded version of the tune. Perhaps the gruesome imagery conjured up by the lyric “slicing up eyeballs” was part of what endeared the song to Bowie.

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
Excerpts from the secret ‘autobiography’ David Bowie gave Cameron Crowe in the mid-‘70s: EXCLUSIVE
11:56 am


David Bowie
Rolling Stone
Cameron Crowe

Mid-1970s Bowie is my favorite Bowie. 1975-1976, living in the Los Feliz house of Glenn Hughes, bassist for Deep Purple. Bowie’s coked out and coked up, obsessed with the occult and given to paranoid delusions. Bowie consorting with witches. Bowie starring in Nicolas Roeg’s excellent The Man Who Fell to Earth and releasing Station to Station, perhaps his most scorchingly funky album and also, as it happens, my favorite of Bowie’s albums. These were the “Thin White Duke” years, as the first line of that album has it; whatever was possessing Bowie, to quote the same song, “It’s not the side effects of the cocaine / I’m thinking that it must be love.”

The primary chronicler of this period in Bowie’s life was unquestionably Cameron Crowe, whose youthful journalistic exploits for Rolling Stone were depicted, after a fashion, in Almost Famous. Not only did Crowe write a cover story on Bowie that appeared in the February 12, 1976 issue; he also interviewed Bowie for the September 1976 issue of Playboy, an interview that featured several remarkable statements, most prominently, that “yes, I believe very strongly in fascism.” Amazingly, Crowe was a teenager when all of this was happening—he turned 20 in July 1977.

If you are a David Bowie addict, it’s fairly likely you have read these lines, which appeared in Crowe’s 1976 feature on Bowie for Rolling Stone:

Bowie announces that he’s got a new project, his autobiography. “I’ve still not read an autobiography by a rock person that had the same degree of presumptuousness and arrogance that a rock & roll record used to have. So I’ve decided to write my autobiography as a way of life. It may be a series of books. I’m so incredibly methodical that I would be able to categorize each section and make it a bleedin’ encyclopedia. You know what I mean? David Bowie as the microcosm of all matter.”

If the first chapter is any indication, The Return of the Thin White Duke is more telling of Bowie’s “fragmented mind” than of his life story. It is a series of sketchy self-portraits and isolated incidents apparently strung together in random, probably cutout order. Despite David’s enthusiasm, one suspects it may never outlast his abbreviated attention span. But it’s a good idea. At 29, Bowie’s life is already perfect fodder for an autobiography.

The article in Rolling Stone also included an excerpt, in a box. It looked like this:

So Bowie gave Crowe a manuscript of some sort. What was in it? Has it ever been published in full?

This “first chapter” of The Return of the Thin White Duke clearly has never been published. I consulted ten book-length treatments of Bowie’s life and career (a list of these works can be found at the bottom of this post), and only 2 of them even bothered to mention it, and neither dwelled on it for very long. It’s abundantly clear that not many people know anything about this text.

Bowie: A Biography by Marc Spitz includes the following on page x of the introduction:

Bowie’s autobiography, purportedly entitled The Return of the Thin White Duke (after the opening lyric to the 1976 song “Station to Station”) has been rumored for years as well, but either the asking price is too high or it’s a bluff; or it’s really in the works, and like Bob Dylan’s Chronicles volume one, it will arrive when it’s the right time.

Meanwhile, in The Man Who Sold the World, Peter Doggett writes on page 285:

Much of The Man Who Fell to Earth was filmed in Albuquerque—the so-called Duke City, having been named for the Spanish duke of Albuquerque, Spain. And it was there that David Bowie, who was unmistakably thin, and white, began to write a book of short stories titled The Return of the Thin White Duke. It was, he explained, “partly autobiographical, mostly fiction, with a deal of magic in it.” Simultaneously, he was telling Cameron Crowe: “I’ve decided to write my autobiography as a way of life. It may be a series of books.” Or it might be a song—or, as printed in Rolling Stone magazine at the time, the briefest and most compressed of autobiographical fragments, which suggested he would have struggled to extend the entire narrative of his life beyond a thousand words.

In 2012 the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened its Library and Archives in Cleveland, Ohio, and one of the institution’s most intriguing holdings is the Rolling Stone Collection, which contains the editorial files, notes, work product, etc. for all issues starting in 1974 and stretching all the way to 1989. It’s a lot of super-interesting material to which all rock journalists should be paying attention.

The manuscript of chapter 1 of The Return of the Thin White Duke that Bowie gave to Crowe is in those files, and I’ve read it in its entirety.

Rolling Stone’s arrangement with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives does not permit visual reproduction of its work product, so it is not possible for Dangerous Minds to post the pages of this manuscript here. However, researchers are permitted to quote portions of items found in the Rolling Stone Collection—I was told that I am permitted to quote 10% of the manuscript as “fair use.” I’m going to do just that, in a minute.

When I first encountered this at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives, I excused myself from the archive (cellphones are not permitted in the room itself) and Googled a few choice phrases to see whether anyone else had ever published it. I came up with zero hits in all instances.

The manuscript is nine pages long, typewritten. What’s contained in the archive is a Xerox copy of the original; where the original is, I have not the slightest idea. On the top of the first page is typed, in allcaps, “THE RETURN OF THE THIN WHITE DUKE.” Underneath that, in someone’s handwriting—perhaps the author’s, perhaps Crowe’s—are the words “BY DAVID BOWIE.”

It is quite a remarkable document, with Bowie inserting often mundane impressions of the past into a grandiloquent, over-the-top sci-fi allegorical construct reminiscent of Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway or, indeed, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. (Just to give you an idea, the named characters in the manuscript include the “Thin White Duke,” the “Finder,” the “Fatal Father,” and “Magnauseum.” I think.) As for the more workaday parts, there’s a paragraph comparing the relative merits of chisel toes versus high pointers (these are types of shoe), with Bowie, in whatever fictive guise, preferring the chisel toe. Another longish passage is dedicated to the decisions involved in painting his home: “Deep blue was the color that I took to every dwelling,” starts Bowie on that subject.

The text is broken up into many, many shorter sections, most of which are just a paragraph or two long. For some reason Hebrew letters are used to distinguish the sections (ALEPH, BETH, GIMEL, DALETH, HE, VAU, ZAIN). In between the more prosaic bits that are apparently about Bowie’s own life are sections in which the Thin White Duke and possibly others—it’s not quite clear—present their verbose and overblown pronouncements about life and music and fame.

Oh, also? There’s a fair bit of sex in it. A couple of the passages are quite steamy.

Much, much more after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘I am a DJ’: David Bowie spins his favorite records at the BBC, 1979
10:03 am


David Bowie

A terrific find from John Coulthart. It was “a bit grey out today” on Sunday, May 20, 1979, when the BBC turned Radio One over to David Bowie for a couple of hours. The results were simply delightful—and the session is available in full on YouTube.

Bowie in 1979 was pretty near the top of his game, but then again he seldom seems very far off his game. The tracks Bowie chose to play are as fascinating as those he left off. Several of the artists are to be expected, others entirely unexpected. Bowie, the great popularizer of our time, the man through whom so many influences of the 20th century flowed and were given vital form, you can hear that deep need to show, to bring listeners something new, in every word Bowie utters.

It’s extremely interesting to hear Bowie refer to tracks that are fairly familiar to any decently informed music fan as if nobody knows about them—a lesson in the benefits the Internet (not to mention stacks of CD reissues) has brought, if nothing else.

We’ve tucked the track listing behind the jump, but it’s far more amusing to listen without knowing, don’t you reckon?

Track listing after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Join The Coffee Achievers: David Bowie, Heart & Kurt Vonnegut pimp the caffeine lifestyle, 1984

Instant? Ziggy, you surprise me.
Whenever some foodie gets snooty about Starbucks, it’s helpful to keep some historical perspective. Before the mass coffee chain invaded every strip mall in suburbia (plus half the truckstops in bumfuck), you were likely purchasing disgusting grocery store mud on your way to work. So yes, Starbucks is a homogenizing blight of cut-throat capitalist banality, but it has raised coffee standards for your average American, who otherwise would still be choking down Folgers.

Apparently during the early 80s young people stopped drinking coffee entirely. Soda was tastier and it didn’t make you feel like an old man punching in for his day at the mill. Okay, I just made that up, but still coffee had yet to hook the MTV generation!

In 1984, The National Coffee Association launched a campaign called “The Coffee Achievers”—trying sell coffee as young and hip. It’s not exactly clear who was a spokesperson for the ad, and who was just pasted in without their consent. I find it somewhat unlikely that NFL quarterback Ken Anderson, Jane Curtain or David fucking Bowie knew that footage of them was being used to promote coffee, but it looks like Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart were enthusiastically on board, literally; note the coffee mug being set down right on the expensive mixing board. Cicely Tyson was obviously a willing participant—and you will note that coffee makes her want to hit someone—but Kurt Vonnegut? Looks like it. The ELO soundtrack isn’t half bad, but I’m willing to bet Starbucks and the exporting of Seattle’s grunge culture did more for youth coffee consumption than the oh-so-hip Jeff Lynne.

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
David Bowie stars in Bertolt Brecht’s ‘Baal,’ 1982
01:13 pm


David Bowie
Bertolt Brecht

Baal was the first play written by Bertolt Brecht, in 1918 at the age of 20 as a student at Munich University. It’s a strange piece of work, a hybrid of the classic nineteenth-century drama of Strindberg and Ibsen and Chekhov and something rawer that belongs to the twentieth century. Brecht had not hit on his radical methods yet, but his basic bitterness and skill with words is already present.

The title might lead one to expect a play about topics bestial and Biblical, about the Canaanite god of thunderstorms, fertility and agriculture or a 17th-century demon “said to appear in the forms of a man, cat, toad, or combinations thereof,” but no. While it shares something of that Biblical feeling in the chorus’ allegorical songs and the main character’s wanderings in the middle of the play, the play is set squarely in the 20th century and is about an ostensibly mortal man, a poet in fact.

It is my belief that Baal, in addition to whatever other virtues it has, also served as some kind of wish-fulfillment for Brecht. The main character, Baal, is a poet of enormous talent who is irresistibly attractive to women and who also is willful enough to scorn several benefactors in the face of his own short-term self-interest. Here are two lines that illustrate the point. Early in the play a man says to Baal, “I can understand men giving their hearts to you . . . but how do you manage to have such success with women?” Yeah, right. Later on a woman tasked with looking after his garret whines about discovering yet another young woman in his bed: “Dawn to dusk – his bed not allowed to cool off!”

In 1982 the esteemed TV director Alan Clarke filmed Baal for the BBC with David Bowie in the title role; he also sings the songs of the chorus that punctuate the play. It’s fair to say, I think, simultaneously that everyone involved did a fine job and that it doesn’t really work. Baal is part of the distant past, and therefore it requires extraordinary efforts to make it resonate in our age, otherwise you are left with a bunch of senseless declaiming. Bowie has a number of songs in the show, and I think it’s not unkind to say that he succeeds as a singer and not as an actor. The skills required of a flamboyant rock star are antithetical to quality acting—as good as he is, Bowie never quite gets lost in the role.

Additionally, the production is rather stagebound—I presume it was some species of a filmed stage production—and the quality of the transfer ain’t great either. I found it very hard to get into until I downloaded the approximate text of the play (.doc download) and read along as I watched the play, and then it began to cohere far more.

It’s easy to see why Bowie was attracted to the material—it’s a Brecht play in which he’s an artistic genius/super-stud and he also gets to sing and act. In 1982 Bowie released an EP entitled David Bowie in Bertolt Brecht’s BAAL, whose primary purpose in life has been to puzzle crate diggers momentarily as they hunt for a mint copy of Aladdin Sane.


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Cars, McCartney, and Bowie, remade by Replicants: When Failure formed the greatest cover band ever

I’ve been fairly unrestrained in expressing my abiding fandom of the commercially underachieving ‘90s rock band Failure, both in real life and on Dangerous Minds. They had everything I loved—dense and creamy distorted guitar tones, gripping tension-and-release dynamics, emotive, anxious melodic and lyrical content that FAR surpassed the one-dimensional angst typical of the period’s radio rock. The poor sales of their masterpiece Fantastic Planet contributed to the band’s end, though time has rehabilitated the album and it’s now considered an influential classic, which set the stage for Failure’s reunion last year. The announcement of that tour made me as giddy as a kid on Christmas morning, and I drove three hours to once again catch a band I utterly adored but hadn’t seen in concert since 1992.

As it happens, there was more than just a tour in the offing—Failure have fully reactivated, and their first album in 19 years, The Heart Is A Monster, will arrive next week. I’m confident that fans of Fantastic Planet will be more than satisfied—I typically take a dim view of reunions, and if Monster was in any way unsatisfactory, I’d be properly bitching up a storm about it. But no. It’s goddamn glorious. The band conceived Monster as a continuation of Planet, and even picked up the numbering of its interstitial segues from where the prior album left off. I’ll not subject you to lengthy gushing, it’s streaming in its entirety on Entertainment Weekly’s web site if you want to judge for yourself. I recommend listening from beginning to end in a sitting if you can swing the time. (I should add that they’re on tour now, and later in the summer they’re doing dates with another neglected ‘90s favorite of mine, Hum, about which I’m kinda headsploding.)

One of Failure’s most illuminating, and just flat out most fun albums wasn’t even a Failure album, but a 1995 time-killer project. Waiting for Fantastic Planet to be released and unable to tour, Failure prime movers Ken Andrews and Greg Edwards teamed up with ex-Tool bassist Paul D’Amour and keyboardist Chris Pitman (Tool, Blinker the Star, and I shit you not Guns N’ Roses) to record a superb album of transformative ‘70s and ‘80s cover songs under the name Replicants, a winking Blade Runner reference. What could have just been a goof turned out as an extremely strong work in its own right, and their eponymous album is not just my favorite covers album, it’s been one of my favorite albums period for 20 years.

A contemporary article in the UCLA Daily Bruin of all places provided a look at the band’s formation and intent:

Ken Andrews, lead singer of the Replicants, has been stuck in a “Warehousy loft-type space” for about a year. Tired of the white-walled complex and its “big air conditioning ducts,” he wants to be out and on the road. But the tortured musician must continue mixing and producing in his “utilitarian” studio.

“I’m really sick of it. I really want to play live now,” complains Andrews. However, the current band member of Failure and frontman for his side project the Replicants manages to remain laid back and positive. And with good reason. The Replicants have just released a self-titled album of covers of tunes ranging from the Beatles to the Cars. Snatching countless enthusiastic reviews, the project includes the talents of one Tool member (Paul D’Amour), one Eye In Triangle musician (Chris Pitman), and one other Failure member (Greg Edwards). And, once Andrews’ soon-to-be-released Failure album hits stores, he will be able to return to his beloved stage.



Strangely, a four-track demo tape of the haphazard group landed on a desk at Zoo Entertainment. Before they knew it, the Replicants were an official band with an offer to record an entire album of cover songs. “At that point, we had no idea what to do,” explains a baffled Andrews. “Everyone would just bring up songs and either we would all agree or we wouldn’t and I think everyone sort of got their one song that maybe other people didn’t want.” However, they could all agree on one thing: The Replicants would have their own musical freedom.

“We like doing the Replicants because we could do different versions of these songs in ways that Failure or Tool wouldn’t,” Andrews says. For instance, neither spawning ground for the creative forces of the Replicants would think to record Missing Persons’ “Destination Unknown” with an industrial/techno spin. Each song was dealt with individually, following no preconceived notion of the album’s overall sound. This system provided a good musical balance for Andrews and his associates.

Some of the transformations are huge (John Lennon’s “How Do You Sleep?”), some are closer to mere production-values updates (obligatory cover-band “Cinnamon Girl”), but pretty much every revamped tune on the CD has some kind of a tonal shift to the darker. One simple and actually sorta brilliant minor-key modulation imparts a wholly unexpected sense of dread to Replicants’ version of the Cars’ bouncy “Just What I Needed.” See if you ever unhear it.

More Replicants, after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
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