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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
07.19.2016
01:54 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
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
07.14.2016
11:43 am

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
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
07.07.2016
12:53 pm

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
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…

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‘The Mountain of Dead Selves’: Video tribute to the occult roots of Bowie’s ‘Station to Station’
07.05.2016
09:15 am

Topics:
Music
Occult

Tags:
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
07.01.2016
12:24 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
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
Avant garde composer Annette Peacock belongs to a world that’s destroying itself
05.31.2016
04:43 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
David Bowie
Mick Ronson
Annette Peacock


 
Many years ago, a Japanese couple I knew in Tokyo got married and together they constructed and published a really elaborate full color book and CD (that came inside of a gatefold 12” album cover) for their wedding guests. It was an expertly made object incorporating incomprehensibly captioned Japanglish cartoons with a disc containing an almost Paul’s Boutique-level mixtape/audio collage that probably sampled 300 records in its 77-minute running time. It was densely packed with brief snippets of movie and cartoon dialogue, Moog, easy listening, garage rock, Barbarella, Morricone, 70s soul, novelty records and other obscure music and sounds. Think Future Sound of London in their “Amorphous Androgynous” guise, but mixed by a Shibuya-kei in-crowd obsessive record collector DJ and art director. Truly delightful stuff.
 

 
There was one particular song on it that I was absolutely crazy about, but I couldn’t tell who it was by, called “I’m the One.” Today we’re all carrying around devices that could quickly answer that question, of course, but this was pre-Internet. “I’m the One” sounded like something straight out of Liquid Sky, very “Me and My Rhythmbox.” Or a bratty, nasal, very American version of Nico. It was sung by a deeply bored-sounding woman with her flat vocals being modified by an analog synthesizer. In my mind I pictured a young Laraine Newman—who was an expert on playing blasé Beatnik art chick types on early SNL—doing the song. It sounded freeform, jazzy, funky, improvised, but the ennui was palpable, the languid delivery like a rap being yawned:

“I’m the one, you don’t have to look any further. I’m the one. I’m here, right here for you.”

I had to own this. Years later when I first saw the metallic foil album cover of Annette Peacock‘s I’m the One record, I knew instantly that I’d found one of my final holy grails as a record collector, and one for which I didn’t even know what the artist’s name was. Score.
 

 
1972’s I’m the One was an audaciously strange album even during an era of audaciously strange music-making. Had there been a category for its avant garde but never abrasive synthesized sounds—produced with her then-husband, the late jazz pianist Paul Bley—it would have shared this genre with the likes of Delia Derbyshire, the Silver Apples, Wendy Carlos and the nearly forgotten Ruth White. She has much in common with Laurie Anderson, too. Throughout a long, yet sporadic career—Peacock’s albums often have many years between them—she’s worked with the likes of Yes/King Crimson’s Bill Bruford, the great saxophonist Albert Ayler and Salvador Dali. She appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and hung out at Millbrook with Timothy Leary. Last Fall, at the invitation of the mighty Sunn O))), Annette Peacock made a rare live appearance at the Le Guess Who? festival in Holland. Many of her albums have been re-released on her own Ironic Records imprint. The album that preceded I’m the One, 1968’s Revenge: The Bigger The Love The Greater The Hate (originally credited to the Bley-Peacock Synthesizer Show when it was released in 1971) was retitled I Belong To A World That’s Destroying Itself for a 2014 re-release.
 

 
There was quite an interesting Annette Peacock/David Bowie career overlap around the time of I’m the One. First off the album was released by RCA, the same label as the Dame obviously. Peacock is said to have kicked Bowie out of a recording session in New York and she turned down his offer to produce an album for her, despite his advocacy of her talents to anyone who would listen. He even got her signed to MainMan, the management firm headed up by Tony Defries that also handled Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Mick Ronson, Mott the Hoople and John Cougar Mellencamp, yet she still turned him down when he asked her to contribute to Aladdin Sane and the subsequent tour. Her pianist, Mike Garson, however, went on to play with Bowie and was one of the musicians most closely associated with him over the years. Mick Ronson recorded “I’m the One” (and stole her unique arrangement of “Love Me Tender”) on his Slaughter on 10th Avenue solo album.
 
More Annette Peacock after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Labyrinth’ becomes a board game, complete with ‘Goblin King Jareth’ figure!
05.31.2016
01:49 pm

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
David Bowie
board games
Labyrinth


 
I recently checked up on the progress on the excellent looking board game adaptation of the 1986 film by Jim Henson, Labyrinth by game maker, River Horse and boy, am I glad I did as it appears that the game is nearly finished. Squeee!

Today is the last day to pre-order the game which is set for release this summer in the US, UK and EU. Game play has two stages—one has players traveling through the labyrinth in search of the Goblin King while trying to not fall into “oubliette” (you know, the place where you put people to “forget” about them?), and the second stage pits players against David Bowie’s character in the film, Jareth the Goblin King, in an effort to set Sara’s baby brother free from his clutches.

In addition to the highly detailed game board and a replica of the clock Jareth uses to count down the thirteen hours he gives Sarah to solve the puzzle of the labyrinth, there are also five game-play figures modeled after key characters in the film, loveable Ludo; the dwarf Hoggle; the worst babysitter ever, Sarah (played by actress Jennifer Connelly), Sir Didymus and his four-legged pal Ambrosius; and of course, Jareth the Goblin King, as played by David Bowie. It appears that the game will retail for about $50 and as I mentioned earlier, can be pre-ordered through the end of today, here. Images of the soon-to-be greatest board game ever, follow.
 

Game board and the sculpted figures from the upcoming board game, Labyrinth.
 

 
More after the jump…

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David Bowie and Jeff Beck together as NOT seen in the ‘Ziggy Stardust’ movie
05.16.2016
11:19 am

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
David Bowie
D.A. Pennebaker
Jeff Beck


 

“I know what kind of welcome you’re gonna give to JEFF BECK!”

Although it’s widely known—or at least widely known among David Bowie fanatics, MOJO subscribers and guitar otakus—that Jeff Beck was the “special guest” at Ziggy and the Spiders’ send-off show at the Hammersmith Odeon on July 3rd, 1973, Beck’s cameo appearance was cut from D.A Pennebaker’s documentary film of the event, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Beck joined Bowie onstage for a blistering two song encore consisting of “The Jean Genie” and a cover of the Chuck Berry number “Around and Around.” There have been several home video releases of the film over the decades and yet none of them have ever restored the Beck footage or even had it as a DVD extra.

It’s not 100% clear why Beck insisted that his footage be edited out of the film, but it’s most likely to do with him not liking what he was wearing onstage that night. Apparently no one had informed the guitarist that the show was being filmed. Even Mick Ronson, no slouch at the time in the goofy clothes department said of Beck’s outfit:

“I was too busy looking at his flares. Even by our standards, those trousers were excessive!”

By the guitar god’s own admission, though, it might’ve been his shoes. In a 2009 interview with The Sunday Times, Beck revealed that it wasn’t his massive flares, but rather his footwear (“the most disgusting pair of dirty-white stack-heeled shoes you’ve ever seen”) that was the reason. He wouldn’t relent:

“Bowie rang me about 10 times and said, “Look, man, I understand about the shoes, ‘cos I didn’t like what I was wearing either.”

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
1970s glam rockers Cuddly Toys cover ‘Madman’ a song written by David Bowie & Marc Bolan
05.04.2016
09:39 am

Topics:
Heroes
Music
Punk

Tags:
David Bowie
Marc Bolan
1970s
Cuddly Toys


The Japanese 7” for Cuddly Toys’ cover of ‘Madman.’ A song written by David Bowie and Marc Bolan.
 

We always had ideas above our station, and wanted to be a bit more interesting than the rest of the punk groups who only wanted to sing about being poor and ugly, even though we were poor and ugly.

—Faebhean Kwest, Cuddly Toys guitarist

I know that many of you die-hard glam rockers out there will probably already own the stellar album Guillotine Theatre by Cuddly Toys (which was originally released in Japan in 1979 then remixed and released in the UK a year later). However, if you do not, then I’d highly advise you that you add this fantastic record to your collection as soon as possible.

Originally known by the not-so-catchy name of “Raped”—the title of their first EP was also a cringer called Pretty Paedophiles, yikes!—the band’s guitarist Faebhean Kwest, claims that he was once asked by Malcolm McLaren to audition for the Sex Pistols, but turned the offer down. Early in 1979, the band changed their name to the less aggressive sounding Cuddly Toys at the suggestion of none other than legendary Radio One DJ, John Peel. Influenced by bands like Richard Hell and the Voidoids and (naturally) the New York Dolls and the Sex Pistols, the Toys boys were soon rubbing shoulders with many of their idols like Sid Vicious and Generation X.

Shortly before Marc Bolan’s untimely death in 1977, he co-wrote the song, “Madman” with David Bowie. Recordings and rough demos of the sessions in which “Madman” was birthed exist. The Cuddly Toys covered the song and released the track as their very first single. To help promote the song Cuddly Toys played a gig at The Music Machine in London. According to an interview with the band, the show was attended by a few famous admirers such as David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Paul McCartney—not too shabby of a start for the up-and-coming glam rockers who would call it quits in the early 80s.

Keep reading after the jump…

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‘Shame’: Just what you needed, a Christian ‘parody’ of David Bowie’s ‘Fame’
04.20.2016
01:22 pm

Topics:
Belief
Music

Tags:
David Bowie
Christians


 
The YouTube account with the handle TheParodyQueen is dedicated to Christian parodies of popular songs. As the Queen describes herself, she’s “a wacky blonde who loves writing parodies of all genres with Christian lyrics.”

In fairness, the covers aren’t bad at all and she certainly doesn’t seem very censorious or forbidding about any of it. It’s evident that the Parody Queen and her guitarist know David Bowie’s “Fame” inside and out and even seem to be grooving to it.

Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

Shame
Keeps a man from the mirror
Shame
Steals hope from tomorrow
Shame
Makes you weep and brings you sorrow
Shame
A ball and chain through your veins is entertained by bringing you ...
Pain

-snip-

Is it any wonder
It infects and hurts?
Shame
Is it any wonder
How Jesus took the curse?
Shame

 
The curious are welcome to peruse the account, which has Christian parodies of songs by Led Zeppelin, the Bee Gees, Gloria Gaynor, CCR, and so on.
 

 
via Christian Nightmares

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘Star Tract’: Demented Christian ‘Star Trek’ parody

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Fanny: The Great Lost Female Rock Group of the 1970s
04.18.2016
01:40 pm

Topics:
Feminism
Music

Tags:
David Bowie
Fanny


 
Years before the Runaways or the Go-Go’s, there was pioneering “chick rock” band, Fanny. Fanny was formed in 1969 by teenaged guitarist-singer June Millington, with her sister Jean and drummer Alice de Buhr, as “Wild Honey.” When Nickey Barclay, a keyboard player who toured with Joe Cocker’s infamous “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” group joined them, the band was renamed “Fanny.” In the UK, where the word means “vagina” and not “butt” like it does in the USA, Fanny were thought to be quite outrageous by radio programmers. More outrageous than I think they intended.
 

 
Along with Suzi Quatro’s early band, The Pleasure Seekers and before them, Genya Ravan’s girl group Goldie & the Gingerbreads, Fanny was among the very first real female rock groups signed to a major label (Reprise Records, the artists first label started by Frank Sinatra, who was the “Chairman of the Board”). They worked with famed producer Richard Perry (Carly Simon, Ringo Starr, Harry Nilsson, etc) and later Todd Rundgren. They recorded at the Beatles’ Apple Studios and backed Barbra Streisand on her Barbra Joan Streisand album. They toured opening up for huge 70s acts like Slade, Jethro Tull and Humble Pie, but sadly, they are little more than a gender pioneer footnote today.

Fanny were nothing short of incredible, as you will hear, but they never made it as big as they should have. It’s unfair.

David Bowie, in a 1999 Rolling Stone interview, said of the group:

“One of the most important female bands in American rock has been buried without a trace. And that is Fanny. They were one of the finest… rock bands of their time, in about 1973. They were extraordinary: They wrote everything, they played like motherfuckers, they were just colossal and wonderful. They’re as important as anybody else who’s ever been, ever; it just wasn’t their time. Revivify Fanny. And I will feel that my work is done”

More Fanny after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
David Bowie’s stunning (and epic) hippie anthem ‘Memory of a Free Festival’
04.07.2016
12:25 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
David Bowie


Illustration by Bowie’s childhood friend, George Underwood, who once famously punched him, causing one of Bowie’s blue eyes to turn brown.

David Bowie’s eponymous 1969 release David Bowie (in America it was titled Man of Words/Man of Music and then Space Oddity) is an album that includes some of my favorite “underdog” deep catalog cuts from Bowie’s discography, namely “Cygnet Committee,” “Janine.” “Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud” and the epic seven-minute-long hippie anthem “Memory of a Free Festival.” I think of it as Bowie’s “Hey Jude” knock-off. It isn’t, exactly, but that there is an obvious similarity few would deny.
 

 
“Memory of a Free Festival” is a ghostly-sounding evocation of what seems to be some mind-blowing Hair-like manifestation from long ago and far away, but the actual event it celebrates (the Beckenham Free Festival of August 16, 1969, organized by Bowie and Mary Finnigan) was only about three weeks in the rearview mirror when the song was written and recorded (and it took place in dreary old Croydon, not exactly the fairy wonderland implied by the song’s blissed-out chant.) It could be thought of as a British variation on the same themes of transcendant longhaired communal spirituality as explored in Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock.”
 

 
“Memory of a Free Festival” is essentially two separate songs: the long, slow build-up, with Bowie accompanying himself on a cheap Rosedale Electric Chord Organ, and then the long drawn out chorus/chant fade: “The Sun Machine is coming down and we’re gonna have a party,” a line that is repeated 27 times. Marc Bolan, Radio 1’s “Whispering” Bob Harris, his wife Sue, and future SONY bigwig Tony Woollcott were among those recording the overdubbed background vocals and crowd noises. The two songs were connected by the sound of a cymbal being struck by a small rubber mallet and then slowed and manipulated on tape.
 

 
At the request of the American label, Mercury Records, the song was re-recorded as a harder-rocking “electric” version—and split into an A and B side of a 45rpm single—by a pre-Spiders from Mars band that included Mick Ronson (his first session with Bowie), drummer Mick Woodmansey and producer Tony Visconti, who played bass. This version also has a Moog synthesizer played by classical music producer Ralph Mace, who would play the electronic instrument again on The Man Who Sold the World soon afterwards.

The US single was a huge flop, selling but a few hundred copies, which probably shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise considering that the really, really catchy bit doesn’t even start until around the three-minute mark, and thus the B-side.

Continue reading after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Street art homages to Frank Zappa, Lemmy, David Bowie, Bon Scott, Ian Curtis & more

Frank Zappa street art mural under a bridge in London by James Mayle and Leigh Drummond
A massive mural of Frank Zappa under a bridge in London by artists James Mayle and Leigh Drummond.

I recently came across images of some beautiful street murals of both the sadly recently departed Lemmy Kilmister and David Bowie—which is what got me cooking up this post chock full of graffiti and street art homages to notable musicians and rock stars who are no longer with us.

Of the many public pieces, photographed at places all around the globe, I’m especially fond of the Lemmy/Bowie hybrid that popped up on a utility box in front of a restaurant in Denver, Colorado shortly after Bowie passed on January 10th, 2016, as well as a haunting image of Joe Strummer that was painted on the side of a rusted old van.
 
Lemmy/Bowie street art mashup in Denver, Colorado
Lemmy/Bowie street art mashup in Denver, Colorado.
 
Joe Strummer mural painted on the side of a van by French artist, Jef Aerosol
Joe Strummer mural painted on the side of a van by French artist, Jef Aerosol.
 
Inspired street art dedicated to everyone from Joy Division’s Ian Curtis to James Brown, after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Starring David Bowie as Abraham Lincoln (???)
04.04.2016
12:54 pm

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:
David Bowie
Abraham Lincoln
Robert Wilson


 
Today’s remarkable bit of David Bowie information comes from a somewhat unlikely source: the May 1984 issue of Star Hits, a fan magazine for teenagers that achieved the difficult feat of covering the Clash and Menudo on the same page.

Tucked between an announcement for a contest to win a “video six pack” featuring footage from Kajagoogoo and DEVO and a report on the Lords of the New Church the reader will find a monthly feature called “Get Smart,” an avowedly pre-internet page dedicated to answering music questions sent in from readers.
 

 
As you can see above, Sarah Williams of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania wanted to know this: “I heard David Bowie was going to be in a play called The Civil Wars as Abe Lincoln. I was wondering exactly when and where this is going to take place?”

The reigning matron of the “Get Smart” page, known as “Jackie,” provided this answer:
 

David has shelved plans to appear as Honest Abe in Robert Wilson’s marathon theater piece The Civil War, scheduled to be presented at the Los Angeles Olympics. The play does have music by Talking Head David Byrne. It would have been Bowie’s second big trip to the boards, though: he got rave reviews as The Elephant Man on Broadway in 1980.

 
Intriguing! I can’t improve on the reaction penned by the unnamed contributor to Retronaut (where I first saw this): “David Bowie was going to play Abe Lincoln… in a play with music by David Byrne… to be performed at the Los Angeles Olympics?.... What?”

“What?” indeed. Yes, it’s all true. In 1984 the Olympics were held in Los Angeles, and for reasons that aren’t too clear the experimental theater director Robert Wilson decided that an international collection of decathletes and volleyball players was the perfect occasion for a sprawling, challenging, 8-hour work called the CIVIL warS: a tree is best measured when it is down, to take place in six different world capitals. Wilson had already become renowned for his production of Philip Glass’ Einstein on the Beach and some years later would direct The Black Rider, Tom Waits and William S. Burroughs’ adaptation of a German folktale called “Der Freischütz.”

Here’s Wikipedia on the massive undertaking:
 

The Civil Wars was conceived as a single daylong piece of music theatre to accompany the 1984 Summer Olympics. Six different composers from six different countries were to compose sections of Wilson’s text inspired by the American Civil War. After initial premieres in their countries of origin, the six parts were to be fused in one epic performance in Los Angeles during the games, a parallel to the internationalist ideals of the Olympic movement.

The premiere of the full work was cancelled when funding failed to materialize (despite the Olympic Committee’s offer of matching funds) and deadlines were not met. But four of the six sections had full productions under Wilson’s direction in Minneapolis, Rome, Rotterdam and Cologne, with workshop productions of the other two sections in Tokyo and Marseille.

 
History professor Thomas J. Brown, in his book Remixing the Civil War: Meditations on the Sesquicentennial, notes that “plans for rock star David Bowie to deliver the Gettysburg Address in Japanese particularly troubled potential sponsors.” (Given any knowledge of Wilson’s previous work or the fact that the title of the thing was going to be styled the CIVIL warS in the first place, why exactly would Bowie reading the Gettysburg Address in Japanese trouble anyone?)
 

Robert Wilson
 
Interestingly, it does not appear that Lincoln reading the Gettysburg Address actually happened in the final work. The character of Lincoln did appear in one of the final works, that being the Rome section, which had its premiere in March 1984 at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, conducted by Marcello Panni. Lincoln was played not by Bowie but by Franco Sioli. Opera magazine published the following account of the piece’s action at the time—we’re just showing the Lincoln parts here:
 

The first scene presents Garibaldi in a box looking at the stage where a Snow Owl (Seta Del Grande) is seated; to the right a gigantic Abraham Lincoln (Franco Sioli) and at the centre Earth Mother (Ruby Hinds). ... The background to this episode depends on the vain efforts of Lincoln to enrole [sic] Garibaldi in the Federal army in 1862. The third scene is in a desert landscape: in the background is a spaceship and through a porthole we see a man floating in the absence of gravity: the man is Robert Lee, Confederate commander in chief. A mourning Mrs Lincoln (Ruby Hinds) enters followed by eight black-clothed figures (octet): the scene is conceived as a homage to the negro spiritual.

[Later] From a spaceship, Mrs Lincoln as a young girl recites an infantile speech announcing the end of the war. A human-sized Lincoln descends from the sky and reiterates the text sung in the first scene.

 
Human-sized Lincolns are my very favorite kind of Lincolns!

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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