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You make me wanna SHOUT: The Beatles, Bowie, Bee Gees, Jimi Hendrix, Sinatra and… Lulu

Scenes from an imaginary film about Lulu…


Glasgow 1951. Exterior night. A busy city street. Fogbound. Trams and buses gridlocked—their windows steamy, yellow-lit, blurred faces peering out into the darkness.

Inside one of the buses—a mother and daughter. The girl is about three years old. She is happy, singing quietly. The bus halts. People onboard groan frustratedly, complain about getting home. The girl looks at her mother. She wriggles free and stands in the middle of the lower deck of the bus. The girl is Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie. She starts to sing. She has the voice of a “nuclear reactor” with the face of an angel. The passengers on the bus are enthralled. They can’t believe this tiny child has such a powerful voice. Marie belts out one song after another. The traffic starts to move. The passengers applaud and throw coins. This is Lulu’s first experience of fame.

Scene One.

Glasgow 1962: Exterior twilight. W/S of cranes and ships along the River Clyde and docks. The evening sky is bright orange. The buildings sparkle with the light from tenement windows. There’s a sound of distant traffic—blue trains rattling to the suburbs.

Cut to:

Interior Night: The Lindella Nightclub. Blue wisps of cigarette smoke, tables along one side of room, a bar with a scrum of customers, eager to get drunk, happy to be out for the night. Backstage - a band, The Gleneagles, are ready to go on. They can hear the audience getting restless. The bass player asks if everything is okay? Over the sound system, the voice of the compere introduces the band. This is it. A ripple of applause, a rush, then the band is on stage.

At the rear, a young girl, who looks hardly in her teens, her hair bright red, sprayed with lacquer, and rolled in curlers. She has a cold, but smiles, and looks confident. She holds a beret in her hand—wondering of she should wear it or not. The girl goes on stage. A pause. There’s feedback from the speakers. She checks with the band. The audience are getting uneasy. There are mutters, snide comments (“Away back to school, hen”) and sense of menace. Now fourteen years old, Marie Lawrie is about to change her life. The band are ready. Marie starts to sing.

Lulu: Wwwwwwwweeeeeeeelllllllllllllllllllllllllllll!!!!!!!

The voice is incredible. Little Richard, Jerry Lewis and The Isley Brothers all rolled into this tiny redhead at the front of the stage.

At the back of the room—a woman stands slightly away from the crowd. She is mesmerized by the young girl’s performance. The audience that were about to riot are now lapdogs to this girl. The woman is Marion Massey—she is an agent—and she has just found her biggest act.

Lulu: (V/O) When I was fourteen, I was very lucky. I was discovered - to use a terrible term - by a person who was absolutely sincere. Since I was five, people had been coming up to me saying: “Stick with me, baby, and I’ll make you a star.” In fact, nobody ever did anything for me. Then Marion came along.

CU of Marion watching Lulu perform.

Marion Massey: (V/O) She looked so peculiar that first time I saw her. Her hair was in curlers underneath a fur beret. She had a terrible cold, was very pale and wore three jumpers. But I was very intrigued by her. There was something tremendously magnetic about this girl. I knew she had the makings of a great star.

Cut to:

London, 1964. Interior Day: Lulu performs on television.

Scene Two.

London 1965. Interior Day—a busy press conference. Behind a table covered with microphones sits Lulu with a vigilant Marion Massey. Cameras flash, TV crews jostle for best coverage, journalists talk over each other, shout their questions.

Reporter One: With all this success are you rich?

Lulu: I get £10 a week pocket money. I get through about £5 a week on taxis alone. They’re terribly expensive in London, but I don’t know my way about well enough to take buses and the only time I went on the tube by myself I got lost…

Reporter Two: What do you spend your money on?

Lulu: Shoes are my weakness, I’ve got eight pairs going at the moment plus two that have just about had it.

Reporter Three: Where are you staying?”

Lulu: At Aunt Janey’s.

Marion Massey: My Mother’s.

Lulu: Auntie Janey’s a wonderful cook. She does gefilte fish, boiled or fried.

Reporter One: Do you like it?

Lulu: Yes. I like it fried. (Pause) With ketchup.

Reporter Four: What’s going to be your next hit?

Cut to:

Interior Night: Lulu comes off-stage having finished singing “The Boat That I Row”. She is approached by writer and film director James Clavell—author of Shōgun.

James Clavell: That was wonderful.

Lulu: Thank you.

(Lulu is surrounded by fans who ask for autograph. The fans disperse happy with their prized signature. Lulu turns to Clavell.)

Lulu: Are you wanting an autograph?

James Clavell: No, no. I just want to tell you…that er…well…You’ve got the part.

Lulu: What are you on about? What part?

James Clavell: I’m doing this feature film and I want you to be in it.

Lulu: Aye, right. Your patter’s pish by the way.

James Clavell: No seriously, you’ve got the part.

Cut to: Footage of Lulu in from To Sir, With Love.
More hits and scenes from Lulu’s legendary life, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Christmas ornaments featuring Morrissey, Bowie, Adam Ant, Nick Cave, Siouxsie and more

This charming set of Christmas ornaments does a wonderful job of letting everyone in your circle know that you love St. Nick—and that the “Nick” in question is Nick Cave. Matthew Lineham designed them, and he’s done a wonderful job of working in “obscure Christmas memories and puns,” as he put it.

Many of his “obscure” references involve network Christmas programming from many decades ago. Siouxsie Sioux is transformed into Cindy Lou Who, the little girl from Whoville in Dr. Seuss’ classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Morrissey plays the part of “Snow Mozzer” and “Heat Mozzer,” the memorable characters from the 1974 stop-motion animated Christmas TV special from Rankin/Bass, The Year Without a Santa Claus. Former Oingo Boingo frontman and soundtrack maestro Danny Elfman appears as “Elfman on the Shelfman,” a reference to the 2004 children’s book The Elf on the Shelf. Robert Smith is perched atop Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and DEVO‘s familiar energy dome is cleverly done up as a Christmas tree.

Lineham calls the set “A Very New Wave Christmas” but he has sensibly gone where the name-puns and name recognition will take him rather than obey strict genre definitions. Bowie and Cave might not be your idea of “new wave” icons but they were active in the early 1980s, at least.

You can buy the rubber die cut bendable ornaments for $10 a pop (“Mozzer” pair $15), or $50 for the entire set, a significant discount. However, due to the unexpectedly high demand, Lineham wants purchasers to be aware that any ornaments ordered today will be shipped “sometime between Dec 21st & 31st,” so don’t bank on them being available for this year’s tree—however, there’s always 2017, 2018, 2019, and beyond to think of. These seem unlikely to go out of style anytime soon.


More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Behind-the-scenes footage of David Bowie & Amanda Lear from ‘The 1980 Floor Show’

Soon after David Bowie’s brief “retirement” he was already busy preparing for his first big public appearance since (apparently) leaving showbiz.

The 1980 Floor Show, Bowie’s special episode of The Midnight Special, the uber-popular US TV music program, was shot over the course of three days in October of 1973 with most of the footage being taped at The Marquee Club in London. The choreographed stage extravaganza included dancers, the members of Bowie’s Spiders from Mars band, Marianne Faithfull, The Troggs, glam flamenco group Carmen, and the transsexual muse of Salvador Dali, model and (later) singer Amanda Lear.

When it comes to the rehearsal footage in this post, as one YouTube commenter put it, you could cut the sexual tension between Bowie and Lear “with a knife.” Bowie looks ethereal clad in all in white with his signature bright red mullet and otherworldly good looks while he exchanges lines—I think from Lewis Carroll?—with Lear whose famous “come-hither” raspy voice purrs back at Bowie like a cat about to pounce on her prey. Here’s Bowie musing about why he choose The Marquee for his “happy unretirement party”:

There were a lot of clubs to go to in the Soho scene in the 60’s but The Marquee was top of the list, because musicians did hang out there, pretending to talk business and picking up gigs - but picking up girls mostly. One of my keenest memories of The Marquee in the ‘60’s was having a permanent erection because there were so many fantastic looking girls in there, it was all tourists, especially in summer, all flocking to London to get an R&B star. My final performance of Ziggy Stardust was at The Marquee. I wanted to go back there because I had so many good memories over the years.

The intimate footage shows Bowie and Lear laughing at each other as they each mess up their lines—it’s really quite something to see and feels more like a home movie than a high-powered television production. While the video quality is slightly lacking at times the audio more than makes up for it as does Bowie’s impossibly beautiful face which practically jumps off the screen. It’s yet another nostalgic and heartwarming look back at David Bowie—the indisputable personification of cool in his element. I know I’m not alone when I say that I’ll never, ever stop missing him, a feeling that this video reinforces all the more. 

Amanda Lear and David Bowie, 1973.

Charmingly intimate footage of David Bowie and Amanda Lear rehearsing for ‘The 1980 Floor Show.’

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘She asked for my love and I gave her a dangerous mind’: Goodbye David Bowie from Dangerous Minds
Amanda Lear: 70s disco diva, fashion model, TV star and Salvador Dali’s transsexual muse
Ziggy Stardust’s last stand: David Bowie’s ‘1980 Floor Show’ Midnight Special

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Punk rock knitting: These cult figure sweaters are easily the most amazing sweaters money can buy

Kraftwerk sweater by by Amimono Horinouchi
I’m not the sort of person to really care all that much about, or even notice, expert knitting or “crafting” or embroidery or anything remotely like that. This very sentence will probably mark my first time using the word “felted” and it might very well be the last. I’ve got no business being in a Hobby Lobby. I’m not putting it down, but it’s not my area of interest.

That was until I saw the jaw-dropping sweaters made by Amimono Horinouchi, a 49-year-old knitwear artiste based in Tokyo. THIS is where my own esoteric interests hit the Venn diagram with wool sweaters hard. When I saw the Kraftwerk sweater, my eyes practically bugged out—they’re all so amazing: Debbie Harry, Ramones, Bowie, YMO—but what could possibly top that insane Kraftwerk sweater???

And then I saw the one on his website of Throbbing Gristle-era Genesis P-Orridge and was completely and utterly floored.

Amimono Horinouchi‘s knitwear might be “fashion,” but it is also art.

According to his Etsy page, which has prices in dollars, the bags sell for less than $200, and the sweaters go for about $600 which I think is a great bargain. He also takes commissions and will even do a sweater of your beloved dog or cat. I’d love to see him working in large tapestries. Incredible!

Follow Amimono Horinouchi on Twitter.

Genesis P-Orridge

Debbie Harry
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Color me impressed: Lemmy and David Bowie-themed coloring books are here!

The cover of ‘Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead: Color the Ace of Spades’ coloring book by Feral House.
We can now thank the fantastic publisher of fringy Feral House for two more things—a pair of new coloring books based on the dearly departed Lemmy Kilmister and the Thin White Duke himself, David Bowie.

The cover of ‘David Bowie: Color the Starman’ coloring book by Feral House.
Of the things you get to color in the Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead: Color the Ace of Spades book are images of Lem as a metal version of Jesus’ crucifiction into the famous “Warpig” logo and shooting you the bird (because, Lemmy) as well as works by Joe Petangno, the artist behind the cover of Motörhead’s 1986 album Orgasmatron. Bowie’s book, David Bowie: Color the Starman includes artistic contributinons by filmaker and artist Mica O’Herlihy, illustrator Tony Millionaire, Plastic Crimewave (aka Chicago-based music historian and doer of many cool things, Steve Krakow), and underground comic hero Mike Diana.

I’m sure one or both of these coloring books are somehow going to find their way to a large number of our Dangerous Minds readers immediately. I’m also pretty sure either of these books would make a great gift for your Bowie and Lemmy-loving pals. I’ve posted images from inside the pages of both books below which are available now via Feral House for $15.95.

And as if this news isn’t cool enough Feral House is also running a coloring contest that kindly requests that you send a finished photo of your favorite images from either coloring book to them via Your handiwork will then be featured on Feral’s social media and you’ll be entered to win a copy of two of Feral’s upcoming coloring books for 2017—Muhammad Ali—The Greatest Coloring Book of All Time and one that you’ll only really need a purple crayon for, Prince—The Coloring Book.

Lemmy and the ‘Warpig.’


Hawkwind (Lemmy pre-Motörhead).
More after the jump…

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Vince Taylor: The leather messiah who inspired Ziggy Stardust

Everything  comes from something else.

David Bowie’s chance meeting with a faded rock star who thought he was Jesus Christ was the first of the building blocks that led to Ziggy Stardust.

Bowie was a teenage Mod fronting his band the Lower Third when he regularly bumped into Vince Taylor at the La Gioconda club in London. Taylor was an “American” rocker who had been a major star in France. By the time Bowie met him, Taylor was a washed-up acid casualty who had fried his brain after ingesting waaaaaay too much LSD.

Taylor was born Brian Maurice Holden in Isleworth, England in 1939. He was youngest of five children. In 1946, the family emigrated to New Jersey, where Taylor grew up on a diet of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent. When his sister Sheila dated Joe Barbera—one half of animation team Hannah-Barbera—the family moved to California.

Like millions of other young American teenagers, Taylor wanted to be a rock ‘n’ roll idol. His singing was so-so but he could do a good Elvis impersonation. Barbera offered to manage him. Through Barbera’s contacts Taylor got his first nightclub bookings singing rock standards with a band. He later joked he was only ever chosen to be the singer because of his teen heartthrob looks.

While rock ‘n’ roll was ripping the joint in America, Taylor was surprised to find that back in his birth country the biggest star was a toothsome all-round entertainer called Tommy Steele. With his boy-next-door looks and wholesome cheeky chappy banter, Steele was loved by both the moms and daughters across the land. Taylor figured if this was English rock ‘n’ roll, then he would clean-up with his Elvis routine.

(Sidebar: While Taylor clearly pinched Presley’s act, Elvis later pinched Taylor’s black leather look for his 1968 comeback show.)

When Joe Barbera traveled to London on business—he took Taylor with him. This was when Brian Holden adopted the name “Vince Taylor.” “Vince” from Elvis Presley’s character “Vince Everett” in Jailhouse Rock. “Taylor” from actor Robert Taylor.
Taylor adapted his stage act from Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis. He added a biker boy image—black leather jacket, pants, gloves, and winklepickers. He wore makeup and mascara. What he lacked for in voice, he made up in performance. Taylor was a wild man. Utterly unrestrained. His body jerked as if he’d been hit by 100,000 volts of electricity. He wiggled his hips and thrust his pelvis at the hormonal teenyboppers who screamed his name. He was sex on legs. Vulgar. Nasty. Every parent’s nightmare, every teenage girl’s pinup.

His early shows in England during the late fifties-early sixties brought him a record deal. He cut a few disc and wrote the classic song “Brand New Cadillac” (later recorded by the Clash). Taylor garnered mega column inches in the music press. But when he should have been heading to the top, Taylor sabotaged his own career by failing to turn-up for gigs. The reason? His jealousy.

Before a gig he would phone his girlfriend to check up on what she was doing. If she didn’t answer the phone—off Taylor would pop to hunt down his girl and the man he imagined she was with. This meant his backing band the Playboys often performed the gig without their iconic front man. This unreliability damaged Taylor’s reputation in England. The Playboys split-up and reformed around the band’s one consistent member—the drummer.

To make money to pay his debts, Taylor took a gig in Paris in 1961. He was bottom of the bill. Top of the bill was Wee Willie Harris (later immortalized in “Reasons to Be Cheerful—Part Three” by Ian Dury). Taylor was pissed with the billing. He decided to show the promoters who was King. During rehearsal for the show, Taylor gave one of his greatest most violent most outrageous performances. He was a rock ‘n’ roll animal. The promoters saw their error and gave Taylor top billing.

This gig made Taylor an overnight star in France.
More on the rock-n-roll ‘Naz(arene) with God-given ass,’ after the jump…

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Rare photos of David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Frank Zappa & more from Japanese magazine ‘Music Life’

A beaming Hoshika Rumiko with The Beatles on the cover of issue number eight of ‘Music Life,’ 1965.
According to fans the Japanese magazine Music Life (published by Shinko Music Entertainment) is considered the greatest music publication in Japan. The magazine got its real start sometime in 1951 after a failed launch five-years earlier in 1946. When a former member of the magazine’s editorial staff, Hoshika Rumiko, took over as the magazine’s editor in 1964, she also became the first Japanese journalist to interview The Beatles in London and then once again when the band came to Japan in 1966. Rumiko even appeared on the cover of Music Life in 1965 along with John, Paul, George and Ringo dressed in traditional Japanese attire. When her interview with the Fab Four was published the magazine sold 250,000 copies—a far cry from their usual distribution of 50,000-70,000 copies per issue.

Known for its high-quality photographs printed on thick glossy paper Music Life was reportedly one of Japan’s best selling magazines during the 60’s and 70s and featured photos and interviews with EVERYONE that was anyone especially musical acts that were “big in Japan” like David Sylvian (of the band Japan), Queen, The Runways, David Bowie, Debbie Harry, Frank Zappa, and of course KISS. Most of the images I’ve included here I’ve never laid eyes on myself, like one of an eighteen-year-old Peter Frampton with a brown Beatle-esque haircut from 1968 and another of Iron Maiden posing the cover of Music Life in 1981 with a heavy metal-looking Kabuki entertainer instead of their faithful mascot Eddie.

The magazine called it a day in 1998 and Rumiko is currently working to complete her biography detailing her life as a pioneering female journalist in Japan (something I will absolutely be reading when it comes out in English) sometime late this year. As I know many of our Dangerous Minds readers enjoy collecting vintage music magazines, copies of Music Life are fairly easy to come by and will run you anywhere from $20 to about $75 bucks an issue on eBay. If you dig what you see in this post, you can also see more of the magazine’s cool covers that date back to 1968 at this archival site.

Marc Bolan of T.Rex on the cover of issue number twelve of ‘Music Life,’ 1972.

Adam Ant, 1981.

Frank Zappa, 1969.

Much more ‘Music Life’ after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Crystal Japan: David Bowie live at Budokan, 1978
12:32 pm


David Bowie

From his sake commercial, to his adoration of Yukio Mishima to his canny deployment of Kansai Yamamoto’s bizarre costumery to his leading role in the 1983 Nagisa Oshima movie Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, it’s been abundantly clear that David Bowie always felt a kinship with Japanese culture.

Whether that means that a Bowie show in Japan would be different than any other Bowie show is a matter for debate, but on the evidence of this pro-shot set from the Budokan in December 1978, he certainly didn’t mail it in. The footage was shot for a very Japanese-sounding show focusing on rock music: The Young Music Show.

This was the Isolar II tour from 1978. Brian Eno was supposed to take part in the tour but health reasons interfered. The most notable players are Adrian Belew and Carlos Alomar. Low and “Heroes” had both come out the previous year, so it’s not surprising that nine songs from the set come from those two albums. In the middle of the show there is a series of six songs from Ziggy Stardust. The Isolar II tour started in March and lasted until this show in December. In fact, this was the last concert he would play for several years, until the Serious Moonlight tour in 1983.

For the tail end of the concert Bowie dons a white captain’s hat, which only serves to show that Bowie could make anything look fashionable.
Full concert after the jump….....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Becoming Bowie: High-end made-to-order ‘Ziggy Stardust’ and ‘Aladdin Sane’ costumes!
03:16 pm


David Bowie
Ziggy Stardust costume

Space Oddity’ custom-made costume by Wanda Cobar.
So if after reading that headline you went running for your credit card (like me) then congratulations—you my friend have good taste and a great sense of adventure just like our dearly departed David.

A lovely and talented individual by the name of Wanda Cobar has created a number of made-to-order costumes based on some of the most memorable stage outfits worn by David Bowie during his time as “Ziggy Stardust” and they are not your average run-of-the-mill “Costume Superstore” type of get ups by any means. Cobar actually made the material herself for the “Space Oddity” jumpsuit (pictured at the top of this post) because she wasn’t satisfied with the conventional offerings available to her and ZOWIE did she nail it. The same goes for Cobar’s fantastic interpretation of Bowie’s little fishnet number with strategically placed lizard hands on the chest. When the original costume attempted to make it’s debut on The Midnight Special (as part of Bowie’s “1980 Floor Show”) it caused quite a stir, as the Dame recalled in 2002:

I did one particular song, can’t remember what it was now but I had a strange kind of string knitted costume made with three hands on. Two of them on my chest, looking like I was being gripped from the back…And a third one on my crotch. I nearly started a riot with the Americans. They said: “Oh we can’t show that, that’s subversive.” We went through hell, so I had to take the hand off my crotch. And then of course they didn’t like the black pouch piece that was down there, that the hand was stitched to…so I had to change all that. So, like the ‘Diamond Dogs’ thing that they airbrushed the dick off, I was having more erasure problems. It followed me all through the Seventies. It’s funny that I can remember the costume and not the song, totally indicative of what the time was like.

I’m pretty sure the price tag on Cobar’s incredible costumes might give you sticker shock—which is understandable as they range in price from $179 to $699 for an one-of-a-kind girlie version of Bowie’s “Space Oddity” suit that comes complete with red wig and gold crown. If for some inexplicable reason Bowie isn’t your thing, Cobar also has a couple of sweet Prince-inspired costumes such as a full-on polka-dot number that the Purple One wore in the late 80s and a pretty cool version of the two-piece number Prince wore on the cover of 1986’s Dream Factory mashed up with the iconic purple suit worn from the 1984 album Purple Rain. Images and links to Corbar’s soon to be super busy Etsy page follow.

The ‘Jean-Genie’ costume.
More after the jump…

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DIY models kits (apparently) of Lou Reed, Frank Zappa, ‘Diamond Dog’ Bowie, Marc Bolan & more

Now who does this rock ‘n’ roll animal resin kit look like to you?
Monsters in Motion, the self-described “one-stop monster shop” based in Placentia, California sells many strange things. Things like a replica of the bloody shirt that Bruce Willis’ character wore in Pulp Fiction. There’s so much strange ephemera to sift through on their website that I decided to go directly for the “Rock & Roll Collectables” category to see what kind of weirdness was being offered up there.

If you came into this world at a certain time period you remember building models of hot rods because that was where it was at. While you won’t find a kit that helps you build a 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 (my vintage getaway car of choice) you will find several DIY kits that allow you to create your own tiny versions of (allegededly) Lou Reed, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger-there’s even a resin facsimile of David Bowie as rendered by artist Guy Peellaert on the cover of his 1974 album Diamond Dogs.

The images are a bit tatty, but see if you can make out who they’re supposed to be.


The Lizard King
More after the jump…

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David Bowie: Rare footage of the ‘Diamond Dogs’ tour, 1974
01:54 pm


David Bowie

As David Bowie fans are all too well aware, there’s very little professionally shot footage—almost none—of his theatrical “Diamond Dogs” tour from 1974. The best filmed example we have of what that stage set looked like comes from Alan Yentob’s famous BBC documentary Cracked Actor. Yentob must’ve chosen his title before shooting Bowie’s performance at the Universal Amphitheater on September 5th, 1974 as he concentrated resources on shooting the number that provided his (rather apt) title. When Bowie performed “Cracked Actor” on that tour, he donned a cape and “celebrity” sunglasses, singing into a skull ala Hamlet. He even French-kissed the skull as makeup artists and photographers fussed around him, an irresistible visual showpiece for the documentarian trying to make sense of his glamorous but enigmatically alien subject.

But there were no complete songs in the film. That’s where Nacho Video comes in. He’s the YouTuber who created the amazing edit of “Station to Station” we recently featured here:

I have been asked many times to create some videos for Bowie’s ‘74 tour. There is very little material available, but I have gathered all the footage that’s out there, I think. Among the Super 8 stuff there are some possibilities, tho’ a lot of labor will be required.

In the meantime, I’ve taken the obvious easy road of first working on the footage from the wonderful 1974 Alan Yentob BBC documentary, Cracked Actor. The in concert materiel it contains is really well filmed, as one would expect from the BBC. Unfortunately, it contains no complete song.

Therefore some imagination and technology is required. Here, I am more or less retreading what others have tried before, but not at this quality.

Dig it.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
David Bowie punks the art world, 1998
11:43 am


David Bowie
William Boyd
Nat Tate

David Bowie and art critic Matthew Collings at the the launch party for William Boyd’s book on Nat Tate, 1998. Jeff Koons is in the background.
This week it was announced that David Bowie’s private art collection will be revealed to the public for first time, in an exhibition to be held at Sotheby’s in London starting July 20 as well as other locations. An auction of the works is expected eventually.

The collection of Bowie, who passed away this January, was held in high regard and included notable works by Damien Hirst, Henry Moore, Gilbert & George, and Patrick Caulfield. One of the most prized items in the collection is a 1984 canvas by Jean-Michel Basquiat called Air Power, which is expected to fetch in excess of $2 million at auction.

Bowie is said to have had excellent taste in art, which makes perfect sense. The occasion of an exhibition and auction of Bowie’s art holdings is also a reminder of a curious episode from the late 1990s when Bowie totally punked the New York City art world.

In 1998 Bowie joined the editorial board of a magazine called Modern Painters, and he also set up a publishing company called 21 that would focus on art books. One of 21’s first books was a volume by noted novelist William Boyd (Brazzaville Beach, The Blue Afternoon) celebrating an artist whose life had been cut short with the title Nat Tate: An American Artist 1928-1960. You can buy that book today on Amazon.

Nat Tate was born in 1928 in New Jersey; his father was absentee, and his mother died in a car accident when Tate was eight years old. His mother had worked as a maid for a wealthy family in Long Island—upon the death of Tate’s mother her employers adopted the child. Tate studied under Hans Hofmann in the late 1940s and became part of the abstract art scene in New York in the early 1950s. Tate was an alcoholic who was obsessed with the work of Georges Braque. In early 1960 Tate committed suicide by jumping off the Staten Island Ferry. Somewhat like Franz Kafka had intended, Tate had a tendency to destroy his own work, and left little in the way behind for audiences to appreciate.

Trouble was, there never was any such artist as Nat Tate. Boyd, with a key assist from Bowie, had made him up. A lot of people took the bait, and claimed to remember exhibitions of Tate’s that had never happened. People should have given more thought to Boyd’s profession of novelist.

William Boyd
It was a thoroughly successful literary, or artistic hoax, à la Sidd Finch or Ern Malley. It’s also a bit reminiscent of a hoax of 2006, in which British art students invented a German noise rock band from the 1970s named Lustfaust—we covered that one here.

Boyd delivered a hifalutin justification for the prank, saying, “I’d been toying with the idea of how things moved from fact to fiction, and I wanted to prove something fictive could prove factual.” But it’s pretty obvious that the primary motivation was that it’s fun to catch a lot of supposed art experts out on their own terrain. Also, it’s just fun to concoct fake footnotes and stuff like that:

Much of the illusion was created in the details, the footnotes and in getting the book published in Germany to make it look like an authentic art monograph. ... I went to a lot of trouble to get things right. I created the “surviving” artworks that were featured in the illustrations and spent ages hunting through antique and junk shops for photos of unknown people, whom I could caption as being close friends and relatives.

Gore Vidal (in on the joke) supplied a suitably gushing pullquote for the cover. Picasso’s biographer, John Richardson, gave them a bogus anecdote:

Vidal allowed himself to be quoted in the book saying, ‘Tate was essentially dignified, though always drunk and with nothing to say,’ while Richardson told of how Tate had been having lunch with Picasso when he came to visit. It was these details that made it. People stopped wondering why they hadn’t heard of Tate when Vidal, Picasso and Richardson started appearing.

At the launch party for Boyd’s book on Tate, which was pointedly held on April 1, 1998, David Lister, arts editor for the Independent at the time who was also in on the hoax, spent the event asking guests for their reminiscences about Tate. Curiously, a fair number vividly remembered attending a retrospective of his in the late 1960s.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Restored version of David Bowie in ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ heading for Fall theatrical release
12:53 pm


David Bowie
Nicolas Roeg

Nicolas Roeg‘s heady 1976 movie The Man Who Fell to Earth is probably about as close to being a part of David Bowie‘s discography as a movie can possibly be. Biographically, Bowie was in the middle of an adventurous phase that would produce Station to Station and he was about to head for Berlin, where he would make Low and Heroes, he was thoroughly coked up and paranoid and more than dabbling in the occult, and the album art for Bowie’s Station to Station derived from his work on Roeg’s movie. Watching the movie is an essential rite of passage for any David Bowie fan.

How happy, then, to learn that the 40th anniversary of The Man Who Fell to Earth is slated to receive a spiffy new restored version and a theatrical release. The movie will return to theaters in digital 4K under the guidance of the movie’s cinematographer, Anthony Richmond.

In the movie, Bowie plays Thomas Jerome Newton, an extraterrestrial on a mission to bring Earth’s plentiful water back to his parched home planet—however, distracted by material concerns, he uses his planet’s advanced technology to become a dissolute millionaire.

The Man Who Fell to Earth has already been released as a Criterion edition DVD. A collector’s edition of the movie is due to be released on Blu-Ray and DVD and for download this autumn. The restoration had been in the works since late 2015, predating Bowie’s death this January. StudioCanal’s Vintage Classic line will be handling the home video release.

The Man Who Fell To Earth will commence a theatrical run on September 9 and be available to own on October 10. It should be fun to attend screenings with a crowd full of like-minded Bowie fans—a perfect occasion for pharmaceutical enhancement.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘The Mountain of Dead Selves’: Video tribute to the occult roots of Bowie’s ‘Station to Station’
09:15 am


David Bowie
Ferric Lux

One of the intriguing residues of the near-simultaneous release of Blackstar and the sad passing of its creator was the apparent wardrobe callback Bowie threw into the video to “Lazarus.” In the video, Bowie is wearing a dark bodysuit with diagonal silver stripes, definitely a reference to Steve Schapiro’s famous “Kabbalah” photographs taken prior to the release of Station to Station in 1976 (see above). In the pictures, Bowie is shown drawing a sketch of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life on the floor.

Bowie’s references to Kabbalah are not limited to promotional pictures, however. In the title track of that album, Bowie sings the following lines: 

Tall in this room overlooking the ocean
Here are we, one magical movement from Kether to Malkuth
There are you, you drive like a demon from station to station

“Kether” and “Malkuth” are two of the ten Sephirots in the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Not long after Station to Station came out, Bowie recorded “Breaking Glass,” which would appear on Low, in which the following line appears: “Don’t look at the carpet, I drew something awful on it, see.” Some people have taken that as a reference to Bowie’s habit of drawing the Tree of Life on floors around that time.

For a group exhibition called “Constructing The Self: David Bowie” at Vivid Gallery in Birmingham, England, Ferric Lux (real name: John Bradburn) has created a compelling short video called “The Mountain of Dead Selves” The video, which plays on a loop at the show, is “based on the occult themes of David Bowie’s album Station to Station,” according to the artist.

The exhbition website has this to say about the video:

‘The Mountain of Dead Selves’ is a six panel video work exploring the psychic states at play in the construction of Bowie’s 1976 album, Station to Station. The work explores Bowie as mystery school as much as art school.

“Bowie as mystery school”! That’s pretty great. I’ve gotten mildly obsessed with the video, trying to tease out how its six panels relate to the album’s six songs, which are, let’s recall, “Station to Station,” “Golden Years,” “Word on a Wing,” “TVC 15,” “Stay,” and “Wild Is the Wind.” Who knows if they match up one for one, but the fact of there being six panels, however, does seem significant.

Watch the video after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Thin White Duke/White Heat: Amazing unseen footage of David Bowie live in 1976
12:24 pm


David Bowie

Just in time for the long holiday weekend…

This was put together by a dedicated Bowie fanatic who goes by the nom de YoutubeNacho Video.” He saw one minute of this footage—originally shot Philippe Bergeron 40 years ago—posted on YouTube the day that David Bowie died and contacted him.

Around that time I had been scouring the web, for material to flesh out my “TVC-15” video. There is virtually no decent footage available from the ’76 tour. According to legend, a French TV station shot five songs at the final Paris show. A few minutes of that footage was shown on French TV, and featured fragments of three songs. And those fragments make up most of my “TVC-15” video. According to the same legend, unfortunately, the reels of the five songs were misplaced when the TV station moved their archive, and they remain lost.

Philippe’s one minute of footage was only Super 8, but it was very well shot, and unlike anything I’d seen before. So I immediately contacted him, basically asking, “Is there more than 60 seconds, and can I have it please?” Eventually, we talked on the phone a bit, and Philippe agreed to let me have his footage for my use.

What came exceeded all expectations. It was beautiful material - close ups, long shots, pans and zooms and, unusually, plenty of band shots, from at least 5 totally different locations in the venue. The footage astonished me, I could hardly believe what I was seeing. However, it was silent, and moreover, there was no complete song, or even lengthy take. Just very short scenes, mostly less than 10 seconds, sometimes only 2 or 3 seconds, filmed throughout the entire show.

The detective work began to ascertain what songs were being performed to decide out what the best use of the footage would be. Breaking the reel down into its separate components meant I then had well over 50 mini scenes. Anyway, to cut a very long story short, among the other songs I did eventually identify, there was – crucially - several verifiable fragments of “Station To Station.” Although these “Station To Station” fragments only totaled less than a minute, an idea began to predominate: to re-purpose the entire footage, use every scene, avoid dipping into any other source, and synch it to the Nassau live version, and try to create the video that we have here.

I managed to use almost every second of Philippe’s footage. Where I have used a verified “Station To Station” scene, in its correct place, I have left it naked. In other places, the long cross fades, the superimposing, and other effects are devices to distract us from noticing that Bowie is not in fact singing the correct line, or indeed even the correct song. So, with that in mind, it would perhaps be best if you don’t pay too close attention to Bowie’s lips and the players hands!

I don’t know how many millions of digital manipulations I’ve made to produce this thing, but certainly more could be done to improve it. There are some compromises in this video that I am not content with, but after in excess of 200 hours of obsessive and often frustrating work, including stretches of profound desperation when there were many minutes of blank void to fill, and no material or imagination to fill them, I’ve decided that this will have to do.

Before the band took the stage during David Bowie’s “Isolar” tour in 1976, there was a pre-show screening—the opening act, so to speak—of Salvador Dali and Luis Buñuel’s silent surrealist masterpiece Un Chien Andalou. If you’ve ever seen the film, you can only imagine how audiences comprised of stoned 70s concertgoers must’ve reacted to the eyeball and razor scene. At the beginning of this, you can hear one of the songs Buñuel added to the film in 1960,  “Tango Argentino” by the Vicente Alvarez & Carlos Otero et son orchestre.

Thank you Spencer Kansa, author of Wormwood Star: The Magickal Life of Marjorie Cameron for sending me this!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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