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Metal gods Judas Priest cover Joan Baez, Fleetwood Mac, and Spooky Tooth

Defenders of the faith, Judas Priest.
If you’ve found yourself with a bad case of the heavy metal bed spins after reading the title of this post, you have my sympathy fellow headbangers. And I’m going to tell you right now that you are not alone as many Priest fans are completely unaware that the epic 1978 jam most would credit JP for, “The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown),” was originally done by Fleetwood Mac in 1970 while guitarist Peter Green was still with the band. According to folklore surrounding the song, the influential Green has said that it was the product of a drug-soaked dream involving a green dog. While the revelation that “The Green Manalishi” isn’t a Priest original might be a surprise to some, Green’s drug use, especially the psychedelic variety, was well-known. Shortly after the release of what the guitarist referred to as his “least appreciated” song, Green would succumb to the side-effects of his overuse of party favors and mental illness and bow out of Fleetwood Mac.

Interestingly, after Rob Halford returned to Judas Priest in 2004 following his departure in the early 90s, bassist Ian Hill said that when the band finally got to perform again the first song they would rip into was “The Green Manalishi.” Nice. So how did one of the heaviest bands from the NWOBHM get the idea to put their own spin on Joan Baez’s devastating, “so long love” song about her ex, Bob Dylan? Vocalist Halford recalls it happened like this:

It was 1978 and I remember we were all together and someone from the label or the management came in and said, ‘Listen to this song. The label would like you to consider covering it.’ And when we put it on, all we heard was Joan Baez singing this song with the guitar, and your knee-jerk reaction is, ‘Are you fucking crazy? We are a heavy metal band.’ But again, typical of Priest, we’re like, ‘What’s the logic behind this?’ And then after a couple of listens, we decided it was a good song. And a good song will take any kind of interpretation. It opened the door for us in radio in a lot of ways, and I think that for the first time, a metal band was able to get the kind of accessibility.


Dylan and Baez in happier times.
So what did Baez think when she heard Priest’s version of “Diamonds and Rust?” She loved it, just like I do. Now, let’s get on to JP’s cover of a Spooky Tooth song found on the final album from the Carlisle band with their original late-1960s lineup, “Better by You, Better than Me.” If you had a pulse and paid attention to the news during the mid-80s, you will likely recall that the song brought a lot of horrifically unwarranted heat on Priest after the 1985 suicide/suicide attempt of Raymond Belknap and James Vance who both shot themselves on a church playground after a six-hour long alcohol and drug infused session listening to Priest’s 1978 album Stained Class. Belknap’s death was instantaneous, however, and despite the fact that he suffered massive facial injuries, Vance would survive though he never quite recovered from the incident physically or mentally. Three short years later he was dead, too.

In court, the song became one of the primary targets of the prosecution who alleged it was a harbinger for subliminal suicidal messages that infiltrated the drug-addled minds of the two young Judas Priest fans. The story is immensely troubling and it is difficult to comprehend how “Better by You, Better than Me” could be considered the impetus for what Belknap and Vance did at the behest of imaginary hidden messages on the version recorded by Judas Priest.

More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Tusk’ is the best classic rock box set of the 2015 Christmas season
09:32 pm


Fleetwood Mac

When I was a boy, Fleetwood Mac were “the enemy.” I just hated their soft “stadium rock” and you simply could not escape them on radio at the time. I was into David Bowie, the Velvet Underground and the Sex Pistols. None of my musical heroes had long hair or beards. None of that hippie shit for me, 9-year old budding rock snob that I was.

Then, as it happened, a few years later I got a cassette tape of their Tusk album sent to me by mistake by Columbia House, which for those of you too young to remember was a “Twelve albums for a penny!” deal advertised in TV Guide and the Sunday paper. Once you got your initial dozen albums, you had to buy like six more at full list price with exorbitant postage and handling charges tacked on. Each month they’d send you a printed catalog along with a card that you had to put a stamp on and return refusing the automatic selection of the month or else they’d send you whatever “popular” album they were featuring and send you a bill for it. (This is how I came to own Ted Nugent’s Free for All, Robin Trower’s Bridge of Sighs and Jethro Tull’s Songs from the Wood.) Although I didn’t actually decide to purchase Tusk and as a two-record set with the extra high list price of $15.98 (a small fortune back then) it was an especially galling thing to get a bill for, I had to admit that I was crazy about the title track, which was on the radio at least once every few hours throughout 1980. I had one of those tape decks that would play to the end of one side and then the heads would flip over and play the other. What went from me playing “Tusk” (the song) over and over and over again ultimately became me listening to the entire album over and over again. During an an era where I mostly listened to XTC, Talking Heads, the Clash and things like that, I really got deeply into Tusk. I know every crevice, nook and cranny of that record. I think it’s an absolute masterpiece, sonically, from a songwriting, vocal, production and performance point of view, the total package, it was the creation of a group of truly great musicians at the height of their powers. With a practically unlimited budget.

A big part of Tusk‘s mythology has to do with the fact that it was the most expensive album ever recorded, with the final tab running over a million dollars. It was recorded in “Studio D” of the legendary Village Recorder in West Los Angeles. Much of the outrageous expense was due to the studio being kitted out to the group’s exacting specification, including 72 digital faders and an exact replica of Lindsey Buckingham’s home bathroom, where one can suppose he liked to… think? God knows how much more money was spent on cocaine. Only the accountants and the dealers and the dealers’ accountants and the dealers’ Maserati dealers know for sure.

Last year I had a chance to tour “the Village” and I’ve been in the very rooms where Fleetwood Mac were holed up for better than a year recording Tusk. I stood in the vocal booth where Stevie Nicks lit candles and incense and laid Oriental rugs and pillows. I imagined the exotic instruments and wall coverings, the actual tusks and the shrunken heads that sat around the room. I imagined the feasts fit for rock’s richest royalty that must have been served there day after day. It was a fascinating superstar “inner sanctum” for a fan to be allowed to enter. (And yes, I saw Lindsey’s personal crapper, but I did not use it.)

With the new 5.1 surround mix of Tusk available on Rhino’s new box set 5CD/1DVD/2LP deluxe release of the classic album, you can hear how at least some of that money was spent. Sounding better than it ever has, Tusk in surround is exactly the sonic revelation that I hoped for and wanted it to be.

When I get a box set, I want to lose myself in it. Smoke a joint, sit back, relax and listen to music. Not passively. I want to really get into it. Actively listen. When it’s over I want to play it again. And again. And over again. Folks, believe me when I tell you that I spent all weekend stoned, laying on the couch listening to Tusk to the exclusion of practically all other activities. I played all the outtakes and alt mixes (the way the title number was birthed is worth listening to) and the great live material from the Tusk tour of 79/80. It’s all good stuff and it has some of the more engrossing liner notes I’ve read in a long while, nice packaging too… but the 5.1 surround mix. Oh man. If you care about such things—and you should—it’s a truly peak experience when it comes to achieving an Earth-shattering high fidelity eargasm. “Sara,” the classic Stevie Nicks ballad, sounds like the gossamer and fine lace Stevie was probably wearing when she sang it. Christine McVie’s “Honey Hi” and “Think About Me” are pure pop perfection as is Nicks’ stunning “Beautiful Child.” Although I’m reasonably sure that most of the vocal and instrumental performances on Tusk were recorded individually and then stacked up on the mixing board and diced and sliced by Buckingham, when you hear those incredible harmonies coming at you from all corners of the room, each voice with a speaker to itself, it’s as if you are in Studio D of the Village and standing in the room as Tusk is being played live.

Tusk was always one of those albums that got pulled out for stereo demonstrations at the hifi stores of its day like a cliché, but until you have heard Ken Caillat’s stunning surround mix of the title track, you haven’t experienced the best of how a rock classic like this can sound reimagined for a 21st century audio system. “Tusk” starts out with the loopy drum loop played on a box and builds up to a thunderous and dramatic climax with the USC marching band’s participation taking it all to an outlandish level of sonic excess and gloss. The way the overdubbed voices and layered guitars leap out of the speakers is damned impressive. One is also really impressed by Lindsey Buckingham’s lightning fast finger-picking/strumming style as the 5.1 surround format puts a lot of space around what he was doing. The “wow factor” here is off the scale. I could listen to that one song for hours on repeat.

All in all, Rhino’s new deluxe Tusk box set is the classic rock box set of the 2015 Christmas season. No one who finds it under their tree on Christmas morning is going to be disappointed. The definitive edition of an essential album. A+


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Camper Van Beethoven covers Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Tusk’ in its entirety, 1987 (well, actually 2001)
11:58 am


Fleetwood Mac
Camper Van Beethoven

Few bands could generate a good mood as deftly as Camper Van Beethoven did—I keep wanting to call their low-key gems a “hoot.” An likeable band with a shambolic take on melody and a sense of humor—the gods don’t bring such treasures so often. They were like that guy you hung with after you graduated high school who was always stoned and could always make you laugh. In their original run they churned out five minor classics, of which my fave was Telephone Free Landslide Victory, with their wistful, Led Zeppelin-influenced self-titled album a close second.

Anyway, they broke up and then David Lowery went off to form Cracker, while the rest of the band (more or less) became Monks of Doom. Camper Van Beethoven wouldn’t be a thing again until roughly 1999, when David Lowery, Victor Krummenacher, and Jonathan Segel convened to create Camper Van Beethoven Is Dead: Long Live Camper Van Beethoven, which was a fake rarities compilation—that is, none of the material was actually old.

Two years later, with the same straight face, Camper Van Beethoven claimed to have discovered the 4-track tapes they’d recorded in 1987 of a song-for-song cover of Tusk, Fleetwood Mac’s 1979 follow-up to their massive success Rumours, a famous flop that is actually a pretty damn good album.

Yesterday, Marc Maron released his interview with David Lowery on his podcast WTF, in which his guest explained what actually happened with their album Tusk, released in 2001. Maron’s prompt (around minute 80) is “Why’d you guys record Tusk, the Fleetwood Mac record?” Here’s Lowery’s answer:

Okay so, Camper Van Beethoven really got back together in say 2001? But we didn’t really play any shows, but we decided we’d record together again, but we decided that, what we would do is, there’s an album called Camper Van Beethoven Is Dead … Long Live Camper Van Beethoven. And it’s a fake oddities record. We actually just kind of recorded it and pretended like it was an oddities album. and dropped it out there. It was very Kaufman. ... I think we were probably influenced by Andy Kaufman, right? You know, it’s like, “Let’s put out a fake oddities record as our new record!” We just put it out there, it’s like, okay. “Oh hey, we just discovered that we recorded Tusk in 1987 on our 4-track, we finally found the tapes for that.” That wasn’t true, we recorded that, the whole album then put it out as if like something we had done in 1987 and just put out there. Nobody noticed.

Here’s an interview item from New York Press in 2002 in which Lowery is selling the fake origin story and the NY Press is buying it hook, line, and sinker. (Why wouldn’t they?) Ahem: “About to record their third album in 1986, Camper Van Beethoven retired to a cabin in Mammoth, CA, to write songs, and ended up recording a song-for-song tribute to Tusk.” Then, quoting Lowery: “Well, 1986 was only a few years after the release of Tusk. Fleetwood Mac was completely unhip in the indie rock circles at that time - that was part of the reason we recorded it—but we also had this major Fleetwood Mac obsession, particularly Lindsey Buckingham songs….” Etc.

You know, if you pull a prank on someone and you’re super deadpan about it, you can’t be surprised that nobody figures out that a prank was played. still thinks this album was recorded in 1987—again, why wouldn’t they? It’s a curious kind of prank, to say the least.

The point of the Tusk sessions was that they were a kind of throat-clearing, a test process to see if the band members could work together productively again. It’s a pretty savvy move if you look at it that way. There’s no way the album can hold a candle to the original, of course, but that was hardly the point. I’ve created a Spotify playlist in which every Fleetwood Mac song is followed up by its Camper Van Beethoven counterpart, alternating its way to the end, and I think listening to that is quite enjoyable. Not all the tracks really work—Camper’s version of “Storms” works very well, I think.

You wouldn’t expect that there would be any video material on YouTube from Camper Van Beethoven on such a tossed-off project, and there isn’t any. From Fleetwood Mac, of course, there’ll always be the very memorable “Tusk” video shot in an empty Dodger Stadium and featuring the USC Trojan Marching Band:


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Stevie Nicks’ selfies from the 1970s
12:05 pm

Pop Culture

Stevie Nicks
Fleetwood Mac

Never-before-seen—until now, naturally—Stevie Nicks self-portraits from the mid-1970s. There are a lot wickedly cool Nicks selfies in this collection—all of which were shot with a Polaroid camera.

(Eat your heart out Kardashian clan! Your selfies got nothin’ on Stevie!)

Some people don’t sleep at night - I am one of those people. These pictures were taken long after everyone had gone to bed - I would begin after midnight and go until 4 or 5 in the morning. I stopped at sunrise - like a vampire… I never really thought anyone would ever see these pictures, they went into shoeboxes, where they remained. I did everything - I was the stylist, the makeup artist, the furniture mover, the lighting director. It was my joy - I was the model…

Leaving aside the matter of what was keeping Ms. Nicks awake in the 70s, the Morrison Hotel Gallery is doing an exhibition of her photos in Los Angeles and New York City. You can buy prints online if any image strikes your fancy.



A few more images after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Exclusive Premiere: Ships release new song ‘Places’

After a couple of years of “hanging out, sizing up, and rigorous sound/soul searching” musicians and artists Simon Cullen and Sorca McGrath have brought their talents together to form Ships, a collaborative synth project, which is winning considerable attention at home, in Ireland, and across the water.

Cullen is a former member of Les Bien, the core of Lasertom and The Blast Crew, and a pivotal member of the arts/music/film/video collective Synth Eastwood. McGrath is a singer/songwriter formerly with Palomine. Having established themselves as independent artists and performers, McGrath and Cullen brought their shared interest in Fleetwood Mac, Prince and Moloko (together with “honorary” member Cian Murphy of I Am The Cosmos), to create their upbeat, emotive and fruitful collaboration Ships. They have already released 2 singles, “You’re Gonna Feel It” (which was part of a release with I Am The Cosmos) and “Two Hearts”.

Now, here is Dangerous Minds’ exclusive premiere of Ships’ latest track “Places”.

Bonus tracks from Ships, after the jump…
Previously on Dangerous Minds

I Am The Cosmos: Exclusive premiere of track ‘Lost Rhythm’


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The sustaining power of rock and roll: A compendium of rarely seen music vids

Revolution is in the air and we’re all feeling the first rumblings of what may become a long hard winter of discontent. Destiny is kneeling at the hem of absolute reality altering the 13 inch pegged pants that Jesus wore to Elvis’s and Priscilla’s wedding. Gene Vincent’s blue suede shoes have turned a whiter shade of pale and Lou Reed is breaching the tight tangle of his own decadent and decaying bunghole only to discover there’s little velvet left in his underground. At the outer rim of what we have come to accept as the entirety of our little world there’s a fluttering of moth-like wings which, to everyone’s surprise, is the hypnogogic light show palpitating on the moist pink plasma of our eyelids. As we lay dumbstruck on a bed of lavender-scented panty shields, a large shadowy figure hovers above us: the ghost of Canned Heat’s Bob “The Bear” Hite in coitus with a giant rubber replica of Timothy Leary’s pineal gland. Our silent awe is violently interrupted by the lower intestinal flubbering of Mr. Kurt Cobain sucking the last sustaining droplets of Lil Wayne’s bottle of drank while Thom Yorke, wearing a thong made of Gypsy foreskins, cowers in a dark, dank, moldering corner cluttered with the remains of Bob Guccione, Miles Davis and Stiv Bators. As a thousand angels weep, Pete Townshend fumbles for his eyeglasses, slaps them to the bridge of his nose, and places his long calloused fingers upon his computer’s monitor screen where an image of a young Bob Dylan in flannel pajamas sullenly strokes the head of a tattered Teddy bear.

At times like these I always turn to music to recharge the cells that fire the cylinders of change, renewal and transformation. Rock and roll is the soundtrack of my life, perhaps it’s your’s as well.

Here’s a fistful of musical dynamite to detonate within the circle that encloses our dreams, hopes and desires. Let the walls dissolve as our flesh extends into eternity like infinite tendrils of meat, sweat and cum.

Squares, you’ve been warned. Stand clear, run for your lives, or loosen your belts and join the party.

Rarely seen videos from The Music Machine, Baris Manco, Steppenwolf, Fleetwood Mac (with Peter Green), Frumpy, MC5 and Iggy Pop.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The Green Manalishi with the two prong crown
07:53 pm


Fleetwood Mac
Peter Green

The final volley from Peter Green before leaving the band he formed, this dark and turbulent 1970 masterpiece is the sound of an acid fried young genius being torn apart psychologically by the evil god of money. Indeed as this was being recorded Green was actively trying to convince his bandmates to begin giving away all of their then considerable wealth.

Green has explained that he wrote the song after experiencing a drug-induced dream, in which he was visited by a green dog which barked at him. He understood that the dog represented money. “It scared me because I knew the dog had been dead a long time. It was a stray and I was looking after it. But I was dead and had to fight to get back into my body, which I eventually did. When I woke up, the room was really black and I found myself writing the song.

In any case this is a hell of a guitar workout with amazing chord progressions and has been covered by everyone from Judas Priest to The Melvins, but none matches the vibe of the original.


Posted by Brad Laner | Leave a comment