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Lou Reed, Steve Buscemi, and the death of the 90s: Maggie Estep’s cover of ‘Vicious’
10:08 am


Lou Reed
Maggie Estep

This clip is basically the most perfect eulogy for the 90s I can ever imagine.

It is not the job of the Gen X-er to lament or to wax nostalgic. We have essentially made a generational pact to shrug our collective way to the grave. And that’s cool, but still, let us count the things that once existed in this video that are, simply, no more: viable spoken word performers, viable music videos, viable indie record labels, affordable NYC art scenes, Maggie Estep (RIP), Lou Reed (RIP). The 90s really were fucking magnificent, man.

Anyway, this spoken-word cover by poet Estep was from her second album, Love is A Dog from Hell. (Bukowski reference! Everybody loved Bukowski in the 90s!) It was directed by Steve Buscemi (!) and features a cameo from Mister Lou Reed himself. Shortly thereafter “downtown” died and so did virtually everything and everybody that you love.

Oh well, whatever. Nevermind.
Watch it after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
Lou Reed and John Cale seize control of WPIX radio in NYC, 1979
09:02 am


Lou Reed
John Cale

Photo by Kate Simon.
One chilly day in January 1979, Lou Reed and John Cale visited the music station WPIX in New York City, Reed to serve as “guest disk jockey” for a stretch or so and Cale to play some songs from his live repertoire. Reed had released his live album Take No Prisoners a couple of months earlier. Cale hadn’t released a studio album since 1975, with only the compilation Guts in between, and his live album Sabotage/Live wouldn’t come out until the end of the year.

Reed arrives at the studio first and has the air to himself for a little while before Cale shows up to play his songs. It isn’t accurate to say that Reed is in a bad mood—he’s perfectly jovial and praises WPIX fulsomely—but he is simply taking no shit, very opinionated about all manner of subject, and boy, does he not like music critics, particularly Robert Christgau and John Rockwell, two prominent New York critics.

Reed fans will recall that on the very, very rambling version of “Walk on the Wild Side” found on Take No Prisoners, recorded eight months earlier, Reed complains about—guess who—Rockwell and Christgau: “Imagine working for a fuckin’ year and you got a B+ from an asshole in the Village Voice?” grouses Reed on that album. On WPIX that day, Reed is still pissed off about the music press. “It’s very sick, perverse world in the land of journalism,” he says, and later gripes about receiving a C- from Christgau (who never actually gave any Reed album a score that low but whatevs). 

Later on Reed says, “A bad review from Rolling Stone is proof to me that I’m still alive.”

During the show Reed actually takes calls from listeners—and seems to enjoy it quite a bit. There’s a great moment early on when a caller accidentally says the word “shit” and Lou has to set him straight.

Towards the end John Cale arrives and plays three songs. First up is “Jack The Ripper at the Moulin Rouge,” which was supposed to be released as a single in 1978 but never was; you can find it on Seducing Down the Door. Then Cale plays “Evidence,” best known from Sabotage/Live, and “Leaving It Up To You,” off of Helen of Troy.
Listen after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Street Hassle’: When Lou Reed met Bruce Springsteen
04:53 pm


Lou Reed
Bruce Springsteen

For his 1978 Street Hassle album, Lou Reed became the first major artist to produce an album using the “Binaural” sound recording system, a two-channel 3-D stereo technology that utilized microphones embedded into a wig dummy’s ears. The placement of the mics roughly approximates the position and distance between the average person’s ears.

Binaural albums can be played on standard record players, but need to be heard over headphones and not speakers as the effect (like you are “live” in the room with the musicians) is less impressive (not heard at all) when played on speakers. A typical effect achieved by a binaural recording might be the sound of a box of matches being shaken, first in one ear, then the other. With headphones the effect can be quite startling—you’ll hear the shaking matches as they travel around your head, it’s pretty vivid—but it needn’t be that gimmicky.

Probably the best song to really hear what they were going for is Street Hassle‘s epic 11-minute-long title suite, a shocking three-part monolog/tone poem during which a woman hires a hustler, a drug dealer gives a guy some particularly blunt advice about what to do with his dead “old lady” and then the final part, which has an uncredited Bruce Springsteen (who, sadly for Reed, was in a legal dispute at the time and needed to remain at least somewhat incognito) doing a very effective low-key mumbled rap that more than hints at whose voice you are listening to, despite the lack of acknowledgement in the liner notes:

Well hey, man, that’s just a lie
It’s a lie she tells her friends
‘Cause the real song, the real song
Where she won’t even admit to herself
The beatin’ in her heart
It’s a song lots of people know
It’s a painful song
A little sad truth
But life’s full of sad songs
A penny for a wish
But wishin’ won’t make you a soldier
With a pretty kiss for a pretty face
Can’t have its way
Y’know tramps like us, we were born to pay

On Reed’s live Animal Serenade album, he tells the audience: “I wanted to write a song that had a great monolog set to rock. Something that could have been written by William Burroughs, Hubert Selby, John Rechy, Tennessee Williams, Nelson Algren, maybe a little Raymond Chandler. You mix it all up and you have Street Hassle.”

Reed knew Steven Van Zandt and heard that Springsteen was recording at the Record Planet. Springsteen read the part twice and both he and Reed were pleased with the result. Reed later explained how the collaboration came to be:

“Bruce Springsteen was mixing in the studio below us and I thought, ‘How fortuitous’, People expect me to badmouth him because he’s from New Jersey but I think he’s really fabulous. He did the part so well that I had to bury him in the mix. I knew Bruce would take that recitation seriously because he really is of the street, you know.”

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Lou Reed’s speedfreak symphony: ‘Metal Machine Music’ and me
11:39 am


Lou Reed

Today would have been the 75th birthday of Lewis Allan Reed and to mark this occasion, I wanted to rerun one of my favorite posts about him. This is from the Dangerous Minds archives and originally appeared on January 2, 2011 under the title “Lou Reed’s Metal Music Music and Me.” I know that Lou Reed read this as I was asked to write an essay for the program of a “Metal Machine Museum” audio installation at Cal State Long Beach. Apparently Lou also read this post and I was subsequently dropped from the project!

When I was a 10-year-old boy, in 1976, I read a review of Lou Reed’s then new-ish album, Metal Machine Music written by the great Lester Bangs in what was probably the very first issue of CREEM magazine that my innocent, unsuspecting and very religious mother ever bought for me:

When you wake up in the morning with the worst hangover of your life, Metal Machine Music is the best medicine. Because when you first arise you’re probably so fucked (i.e., still drunk) that is doesn’t even really hurt yet (not like it’s going to), so you should put this album on immediately, not only to clear all the crap out of your head, but to prepare you for what’s in store the rest of the day.

Speaking of clearing out crap, I once had this friend who would say, “I take acid at least every two months & JUST BLOW ALL THE BAD SHIT OUTA MY BRAIN!” So I say the same thing about MMM. Except I take it about once a day, like vitamins.

Here’s a link to Bang’s entire essay. As you read it, just try to imagine what a precociously deviant 10-year-old kid made of it. Even if I really didn’t know exactly what Bangs was talking about, of course, this sounded like something I really wanted to get in on. The vague promise of some sort of “aural high” or sonic sensory derangement seemed very, very attractive to me, especially since there was virtually no way I was going to be able to get my hands on any real drugs at that age.

As luck—or Satan himself personally intervening on my behalf—would have it, the very next week I found a copy of Metal Machine Music on 8-track tape for 99 cents in a cut-out bin at a crappy Hills department store in my hometown of Wheeling, WV. (I still have it, it may indeed be the oldest surviving personal possession of mine. I’d never part with it.)

Metal Machine Music has been described as sounding like “the tubular groaning of a galactic refrigerator” by Rolling Stone. The Trouser Press said it was “unlistenable oscillator noise (a description, not a value judgment).” Most people have never even sampled the album and few have listened to it all the way through. Not me! I listened to this sucker over and over and over again, with headphones I might add, in an effort to, I guess, mostly just try to understand it, or to get to the bottom of what Reed was trying to communicate. (In my defense, I will remind readers that I was ten at the time.)

It’s such a curious beastie, this Metal Machine Music. For a child with rapidly solidifying tastes—by the sixth grade, I promise you was I was an inveterate rock snob—this was a conundrum worthy of further, and deep, investigation, I felt. If Lester Bangs liked it that much, it had to be great, right? (Right?) There was also, as I was saying, the naive notion I had that it might be somehow psychoactive, or aid in blowing all the bad shit out of MY brain. (Here’s another quote from the Bangs piece that I know must’ve piqued my interest: “I have been told that Lou’s recordings, but most specifically this item, have become a kind of secret cult among teenage mental institution inmates all across the nation. I have been told further that those adolescents who have been subjected to electroshock therapy enjoy a particular affinity for MMM, that it reportedly “soothes their nerves,” and is ultimately a kind of anthem.”).

Who the fuck knows WHAT made me listen to the wailing wall of sound that is MMM over and over and over again at the age of ten? But listen to it I did. Repeatedly.

There is one factor, unique to me I suppose, worth mentioning in this context, that probably made MMM a bit more palatable to me: My father toiled for nearly his entire working life at the central switching office at the C&P Telephone Company (part of the Bell system, before it got broken up in the anti-trust court). On the floor where he worked, there were hundreds of 12 ft high banks of humming and clicking electronic circuitry, I’m talking wall upon wall of this sort of machinery, but it was all “open” and sitting on, and bolted to, industrial metal shelves. There was no casing around much of it to dampen the sound. Think of a library (in terms of how it was physically laid out), but full of the noisy, chattering circuits and switchers that made the old analog telephone system work (This machinery is what put the old school telephone operators—my mother was one—who connected your calls out of business in the 1960s, basically. I’m sure it’s all been 100% replaced by now with a waist-high rack of servers run by a small IT department).

The gear there chattered like robotic crickets and cicadas. It also reminded me of the soundtrack to Forbidden Planet, the sci-fi classic seen often on late-night television in the 70s. Precisely because there were so many of these clicking, whirling, industrious little diodes and circuits, they made a particular “music” that wasn’t as harsh sounding as you might expect. It actually sounded kind of cool. Had I not had the experience of spending so much of my childhood in that office, I’m sure that MMM would have been much harder for me to take. The point of this digression is that I had some sort of a reference point that made MMM sound much less foreign to my ears than it would have otherwise: It sounded like my dad’s office.

Here’s a question: Have you, dear reader, ever actually heard Metal Machine Music yourself? Most people haven’t, but then again, where would they have heard it? And equally important why? It was probably never played on the radio (except by smart-ass college DJs), probably has never been played at a discotheque (except by a particularly spiteful DJ) and unless the host wants to clear the place out, it’s probably never been played for any other reason at a party, either.

Perhaps the best way to approach MMM as a listener is to simply take Lou Reed himself at his word about the project, from the original liner notes. In them, he spells out quite openly what MMM is supposed to be, and what his goals were for the piece, but few reviewers or fans at the time would have had ANY idea of what he was talking about. Try this on for size:

“Passion—REALISM—realism was the key. The records were letters. Real letters from me to certain other people. Who had and still have basically, no music, be it verbal or instrumental to listen to. One of the peripheral effects typically distorted was what was to be known as heavy metal rock. In Reality it was of course diffuse, obtuse, weak, boring and ultimately an embarrassment. This record is not for parties/dancing/background romance. This is what I meant by “real” rock, about “real” things. No one I know has listened to it all the way through including myself. It is not meant to be. Start any place you like. Symmetry, mathematical precision, obsessive and detailed accuracy and the vast advantage one has over “modern electronic composers.” They, with neither sense of time, melody or emotion, manipulated or no. It’s for a certain time and place of mind. It is the only recorded work I know of seriously done as well as possible as a gift, if one could call it that, from a part of certain head to a few others. Most of you won’t like this and I don’t blame you at all. It’s not meant for you. At the very least I made it so I had something to listen to. Certainly Misunderstood: Power to Consume (how Bathetic): an idea done respectfully, intelligently, sympathetically and graciously, always with concentration on the first and foremost goal. For that matter, off the record, I love and adore it. I’m sorry, but not especially, if it turns you off.

One record for us and it. I’d harbored hope that the intelligence that once inhabited novels or films would ingest rock, I was, perhaps, wrong. This is the reason Sally Can’t Dance—your Rock n Roll Animal. More than a decent try, but hard for us to do badly. Wrong media, unquestionably. This is not meant fo the market. The agreement one makes with “speed”. A specific acknowledgment. A to say the least, very limited market. Rock n Roll Animal makes this possible, funnily enough. The misrepresentation succeeds to the point of making possible the appearance of the progenitor. For those for whom the needle is no more than a toothbrush. Professionals, no sniffers please, don’t confuse superiority (no competition) with violence, power or the justifications. The Tacit speed agreement with Self. We did not start World War I, II or III. Or the Bay of Pigs, for that Matter. Whenever. As way of disclaimer. I am forced to say that, due to stimulation of various centers (remember OOOOHHHMMM, etc.), the possible negative contraindications must be pointed out. A record has to, of all things Anyway, hypertense people, etc. possibility of epilepsy (petit mal), psychic motor disorders, etc… etc… etc.

My week beats your year.”—Lou Reed

In prose that would be quite obtuse to most people, but plain enough perhaps for his fellow speed-freaks, Lou lays out exactly what he was trying to do: make music that mirrored the physiological experience of having methamphetamine course through your nervous system. Metal Machine Music is even subtitled, “The Amine β Ring,” in case there are any doubters that this was conceived to be a speedfreak symphony.
More ‘Metal Machine Music’ after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Jimmy Page and the Yardbirds cover the Velvet Underground in 1968

In honor of what would have been Lou Reed’s 75th birthday, here’s the Yardbirds covering the Velvet Underground in 1968.

You may recall that Michelangelo Antonioni considered the Velvet Underground for the club scene in Blow-Up before choosing the Yardbirds, but the connection between the two bands does not end there. As I learn from Richie Unterberger, the Yardbirds’ last lineup—the one with Jimmy Page on lead guitar—had “I’m Waiting for the Man” in its repertoire. A recording survives from the May 31, 1968 gig at the Shrine Exposition Hall in Los Angeles, one of the Yardbirds’ final shows.

“I’m Waiting for the Man” was a forward-looking selection in May ‘68. John Cale was still in the VU; White Light/White Heat had been out for a few months, The Velvet Underground & Nico about a year. Yardbird Chris Dreja, who remembers “hanging out with Andy Warhol at The Factory” on the Yardbirds’ first US tour, suggests the cover was Page’s idea. As a session musician and arranger, Page had worked on Nico’s 1965 debut single “I’m Not Sayin’,” whose B-side, “The Last Mile,” he co-wrote with Andrew Loog Oldham. The following year, as Unterberger points out, the Yardbirds and the VU both played at Detroit’s Carnaby Street Fun Festival.

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Lou Reed and John Cale’s soundtrack to Andy Warhol’s ‘Hedy,’ 1966

Andy Warhol and Mario Montez filming Hedy (via Continuo)
On the night of January 27, 1966, the actress Hedy Lamarr was arrested for stealing $86 worth of merchandise from the May Company department store in Los Angeles. She was not driven to crime by a condition of need: police told reporters she had $14,000 in checks when she was arrested.

Andy Warhol and screenwriter Ronald Tavel knew a good story when they saw one, and Hedy (1966)—with Lupe and More Milk, Yvette, part of the “Hollywood trilogy” about movie actresses Warhol made that year—advanced down the Factory’s film production line. The lovely Mario Montez starred in the title role, while on the soundtrack, Lou Reed and John Cale dramatized Hedy’s inner life with an ominous, bottomless noise.

via Toronto International Film Festival
Richie Unterberger’s authoritative White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day by Day files the Hedy soundtrack under February 1966:

Only Lou Reed and John Cale are heard on the soundtrack to Hedy, a Warhol film inspired by press reports of the arrest for shoplifting of 30s and 40s actor Hedy Lamarr. None of the Velvets appear in the film, but the cast does include the two most celebrated dancers of the Exploding Plastic Inevitable – Gerard Malanga and Factory newcomer Mary Woronov – as well as another EPI dancer, Ingrid Superstar, and Cale’s old friend Jack Smith.

The Hedy score is closer in spirit to the avant-garde recordings Cale and Angus MacLise appeared on during 1963-1965 than anything The Velvet Underground are currently playing. The music builds around an instrumental storm of shrieking, rumbling viola, guitar, and a rickety piano that sounds like it hasn’t been played since doing time in a 19th century saloon, while Cale’s ‘thunder machine’ – the sound made by the head of a Vox Super Beatle amp being dropped on the floor – occasionally cuts through everything else with hair-raising, high pitch bursts of feedback. This might be the closest approximation of how the nascent Velvet Underground sounded when they played, with Angus MacLise, behind the screen at Piero Heliczer’s ‘happenings,’ but those days are rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

Hear ‘Hedy’ after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Blondie, Lou Reed, David Bowie, Andy Warhol & more rendered in gorgeous knitwear

Blondie ‘Rapture’ sweater by Mary Adams.
I think it’s safe to say that for many people Lou Reed’s 1972 album Transformer was a life changing kind of record.Transformer was very much influenced by Reed’s life changing relationship with Andy Warhol. Warhol even directly inspired one of Transformer‘s best numbers, “Vicious.” According to Reed Andy had requested that he pen a tune about a “vicious” kind of person. When Reed asked Warhol to clarify his request, Andy responded by saying “Oh, you know, like I hit you with a flower.” Reed wrote Andy’s response down verbatim and the lyric “You hit me with a flower” would become part of the song.

When it comes to the influence that Transformer had on Mary Adams, the wildly talented clothing designer and sweater maker whose work is featured in this post, we can look to the iconic cover of the album that features an out-of-focus photograph of Reed taken by Mick Rock. One of the first sweaters Adams ever made was based on Rock’s photograph and her obsession with Reed would lead her to create an entire line of high-end knitwear inspired by the pioneering musician. In fact Adams’ company Small Town Girl took its name from lyrics to a song found on Reed’s much vilified collaboration with Metallica, 2011’s Lulu, “Brandenburg Gate.” Adams got her start working as a seamstress and costume designer for The Royal Canadian Ballet and Opera as well was what was likely another influential experience for her—a dreamy souding gig as the “wardrobe mistress” for the original Rocky Horror Show stage production in Australia in 1975. When she wasn’t busy doing that, she was regularly selling her sweaters at the popular outdoor Paddington Market in Sydney.

Many of Adams’ designs feature pop art images, some of which are derived from famous works by Andy Warhol who is also nicely represented on much of Adams’ knitwear. Other notable wooly famous faces include Reed’s wife Laurie Anderson, Transformer‘s producer David Bowie, Liza Minnelli, the recently departed Leonard Cohen, and Patti Smith. I’m not exactly going out on a limb here by describing Adams’ work as exquisite. She and her collaborators hand loom each sweater using pure Australian wool and then each piece is finished by Adams by hand. So it’s not hard to understand why her wearable works of art will run you anywhere from $45 for a head scarf to $470 for a Blondie “Eat to the Beat”-themed sweater which you can see below. If after checking out the images in this post you are filled with a strong desire to have one of your own, more information on how to do that is available on Adams’ Small Town Girl website.

‘Lou Reed’ sweater coat.

David Bowie ‘Ziggy Stardust’ sweater.
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Sad-looking Lou Reed sweater is sad because it costs $2,730

A spendy sweater made by LA-based company Enfants Riches Déprimés
And yes, I do realize that this image of Lou Reed is taken from the cover of his 1972 album Transformer however, you really can’t deny that Reed looks rather sad to be a part of a sweater that costs more than most monthly mortgage payments. You might call it, at $2,730, a “steal.”

In fact when you translate the name of the LA-based company that makes the garment Enfants Riches Déprimés from French to English it becomes “Depressed Rich Kids.” Which further reinforces the appearance of despair on poor Lou’s 100% merino wool face, don’t it? If the Lou sweater is a bit too spendy for you, then the same image also appears on a coat from les Enfants that will run you (just) a cool $1,160.

The Enfants Riches Déprimés brand is wildly popular with young Hollywood types whose parents pay all their bills.

Their customer base routinely shell out all kind of ridiculous cash for t-shirts complete with holes that cost $378, and jackets like this one named for Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye that retails for $800. Speaking of being depressed, Enfants even makes a $7000 cashmere noose which while posh enough for the jet-set to use to end it all, isn’t likely to be strong enough to use to actually hang yourself with. Too bad.

‘Lou Reed’ coat.

An image of the $7000 cashmere noose by Enfants Riches Déprimés .

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Cranky Lou Reed interview from 1975 is full of hilariously nasty gems
Lou Reed’s sweet side: Behind the scenes of the ‘Transformer’ documentary

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Sucking on a ding-dong (for twelve minutes): The blowjob edit of ‘Sister Ray’
10:37 am


Lou Reed
Velvet Underground
Sister Ray

This twelve-and-a-half minute edit of the Velvet Underground’s classic “Sister Ray” distills the entirety of that song to one of its more memorable lines: “Too busy sucking on a ding dong/She’s busy sucking on my ding dong.”

The seventeen minute one-riff wonder was conceived on a train ride home from a bad gig, and in its recorded form it takes up most of side two of White Light/White Heat. Its lyrics comprise a laundry list of debauchery in which a handful of drag queens and sailors score and take drugs. Someone gets shot, someone else gets a blowjob, and the cops show up. It’s undiluted insanity, and some of the most glorious noise the ‘60s ever produced. Per V.U. singer/honcho Lou Reed, quoted by biographer Victor Bockris in Up-Tight: The Velvet Underground Story:

When it came to putting the music to it, it had to be spontaneous. The jam came about right there in the studio. We didn’t use any splices or anything. I had been listening to a lot of Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman, and wanted to get something like that with a rock & roll feeling. When we did “Sister Ray”, we turned up to ten flat out, leakage all over the place. That’s it. They asked us what we were going to do. We said “We’re going to start.” They said “Who’s playing bass?” We said “There is no bass.” They asked us when it ends. We didn’t know. When it ends, that’s when it ends.

Since the improvised song, minus solo breaks, is basically one riff, the “Ding Dong” edit is hardly distinguishable from the original if you’ve got it going in the background, which won my laugh. Also, I must note that “Smack Daniels,” the YouTube user who uploaded (and presumably made) this unleashed it to the world in early November of 2013, shortly after Lou Reed died. There were a lot of extremely weird tributes to the man—which of course is perfectly fitting—but I think this one kind of wins, and I wish I knew about it when it was new.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘Lou Believers’: Sonic Youth in the weirdest Lou Reed ‘tribute’ you’ll ever see
Cranky Lou Reed interview from 1975 is full of hilariously nasty gems
Lou Reed and Brian Eno, together at last: it’s ‘Metal Machine Music For Airports’

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘The biggest thing since World War III’: Lou Reed, Debbie Harry, and Iggy Pop talk ‘Rock and Rule’

The 1983 animated rock and roll movie Rock and Rule was a failure at the box office but found its audience on cable TV a couple years later. Produced by the Canadian animation studio Nelvana, the movie is a sci-fi rock and roll allegory between good and evil, pitting a rock band of cute mutants called the Drats against an ageing, Mephistophelian rock star/sorcerer named Mok who is intent on securing a special voice capable of unleashing a powerful demon from another dimension who will make Mok immortal. Rock and Rule had a similar look and feel to Heavy Metal, which came out in 1981.

Heavy Metal, true to its title, used music by Blue Öyster Cult, Journey, Grand Funk Railroad, Nazareth, Sammy Hagar, and, er, Donald Fagen, and similarly, Rock and Rule benefited from the contributions of Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire as well as Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, and Chris Stein and Debbie Harry of Blondie.

Nelvana released a 25-minute promo documentary about the making of the movie.  “Making of” documentaries of animated movies always have the potential to be dreadfully dull (due to the exacting and painstaking process involved), but in this case, since the subject matter of the movie is so much about rock and roll itself, it’s only appropriate to feature a lot of interviews with the musicians, which is the strategy adopted here.

Interestingly, both Maurice White and Chris Stein separately offer the perspective that they like writing music for movies because the overall artistic direction is already decided. Producer Michael Hirsh notes that Debbie Harry and Chris Stein were good choices as musical contributors because it was so exceedingly likely that they would give so much of themselves to the project.

Lou Reed, composer and singer of “My Name Is Mok,” had this to say about the movie’s heavy:

I felt very positive towards Mok because there are many things to work with, with him, I could identfy with him up to a point, but he was—the way he looked, the things he said, the kind of things he believed in, there were a lot of ways I could relate to that, and even though I don’t necessarily think that way I could really bite into his character and become that way with him, you know, and make him live and breathe like a real person.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
High-end plush dolls of Frank Zappa, Robert Smith, Kraftwerk, Jim Jarmusch & more, that you NEED!

Kraftwerk plush dolls by Uriel Valentin
Kraftwerk plush dolls by Uriel Valentin

Uriel Valentin is the talented Argentinian-based doll maker and artist behind a massive line of plush, hand-painted dolls that are about to send you running for your credit card. I often blog about these kinds of collectibles here on Dangerous Minds but didn’t know until today how much I needed a plush Robert Smith doll clad in look-alike pajamas like the ones that he wore in the 1989 video for “Lullaby.” Did you?
Robert Smith of The Cure in his Lullabye pajamas
Robert Smith of The Cure in his “Lullaby” PJs
Frank Zappa plush doll by Uriel Valentin
Frank Zappa in his iconic “PIPCO” shirt.
Among the illustrious and eclectic inhabitants of Valentin’s cool world are plush versions of everyone from famous punks like Elvis Costello, director Jim Jarmusch, Charlotte Gainsbourg (covered in blood clutching the disemboweled fox from Antichrist), Andy Warhol and Jean Basquiat (wearing boxing gloves and attire no less, as in the poster for their 1985 collaboration), Iron Maiden’s “Eddie” (as well as Maiden bassist Steve Harris, squeee!), two delightful versions of Robert Smith of The Cure and every member of fucking KRAFTWERK.

Valentin’s figures stand about fourteen inches tall, are hand-painted and sealed with a transparent acrylic varnish, and have wire inside of them so they are able to be put into posed positions. I’ve included over 40 (!) images of Valentin’s dolls for you to digest after the jump that will run you around $100 (including international shipping). The talented Argentinian also does custom orders (which are $115) - contact him via his Flickr page for more information.
Jim Jarmusch
Jim Jarmusch
Bette Davis and Joan Crawford from the 1962 film, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Bette Davis and Joan Crawford from the 1962 film, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
Hedwig (played by actor James Cameron Mitchell in the film and play Hedwig and the Angry Inch)
Hedwig as played by actor James Cameron Mitchell from Hedwig and the Angry Inch)
Way more of these amazing handmade dolls after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Velvet paintings of Divine, Die Antwoord, Lou Reed and others (& I want them ALL!)

Die Antwoord velvet painting
Die Antwoord velvet painting
Today I have pulled together a post that features a pretty solid collection of highly desirable velvet paintings from a cast of characters that runs the gamut from pop culture phenoms such as Weekly World News cave-dwelling poster child, Bat Boy, to the bad-ass South African duo, Die Antwoord. How’s that sound to ya’?
Divine black velvet painting
Divine (as Babs Johnson in Pink Flamingos)
Most of the paintings I’ve featured can be had for a couple of hundred bucks or so. Could there possibly be anything cooler than a slightly inception-esque velvet painting of the Velvet Underground’s Lou Reed by artist Diane Bombshelter? Probably not. But I’ll let you dear DM readers be the judge of that.

If while scrolling through this post you find the next thing you never knew you couldn’t live without, most (with the exception of Lou Reed and Morrissey) can be obtained by way of Ebay or Etsy.
Lou Reed black velvet painting by Diane Bombshelter
Lou Reed black velvet painting by Diane Bombshelter
Bat Boy velvet painting
Bat Boy
Robin Williams velvet painting
Robin Williams (RIP) as Mork (from the TV series Mork & Mindy)
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Lou Reed peels off wild guitar solos during first Velvet Underground gig without John Cale, 1968
09:18 am


Lou Reed
John Cale
The Velvet Underground

La Cave
By September 1968, Lou Reed was hell-bent on kicking John Cale out of the Velvet Underground. Reed and Cale started the band, but after two albums, Lou was no longer interested in working with the Welsh musician. It’s always been unclear as to why Reed felt this way, but the most plausible reason is that he sought to make the Velvets more accessible, while Cale wanted to keep one foot in the avant-garde. Regardless, in late September, after what would turn out to be Cale’s final concerts with the group, Reed met with drummer Maureen Tucker and guitarist Sterling Morrison and gave them an ultimatum: Either Cale goes or the band is finished.
John Cale and Lou Reed
John Cale and Lou Reed in New York City, 1968

Reluctantly, Tucker and Morrison agreed to sack Cale. But with Cale’s exit and upcoming concerts scheduled for the first week of October, a replacement needed to be found—and fast. Doug Yule, a Boston musician who was friendly with the band, was quickly brought into the fold. Yule would have to swiftly learn a set of songs, many of which he hadn’t heard before because they hadn’t been released yet. He made his way to New York City to rehearse for shows booked at a small venue in Cleveland called La Cave. Yule’s first gig with the Velvets is usually cited as having taken place on October 2nd, though in his exhaustive book, White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-by-Day, author Richie Unterberger writes that Yule’s debut was October 4th. Either way, the band’s new member had little time to prepare.
The new VU
The new VU, 1968

The Velvet Underground played two sets that first night in Cleveland with Yule, and thanks to recordings which were subsequently bootlegged, we can hear what they sounded like during this historic show. Incredibly, Yule already appears to be a good fit. He’s obviously up for the task, coming up with interesting bass lines—even singing background harmonies—on songs that he had just learned. His harmony vocal gelling perfectly with Reed’s during a lovely version of “Jesus” is just one of many cool moments. Reed’s guitar work is also noteworthy, like during the wild and weird middle section of “I Can’t Stand It,” but it’s the track that opens the first set that takes the cake.

“What Goes On” was one of many numbers played that first night that Yule barely had time to acquaint himself with (the tune would be included on their next album, The Velvet Underground, which came out the following year). There’s nothing all that interesting happening here at first (though Yule once again contributes some mighty fine harmonizing); that is, until Reed kicks off the initial solo with a fierce blast of noise. He follows up with melodic lines that resemble what would be heard on the now-familiar album take, but while the guitar tone on the LP version is psychedelic, here it’s all about volume and distortion. During the second and final solo, after a similar melodic passage, Lou lets it rip. At around the 4:52 mark, he goes into hyperactive overdrive, whipping up an atypically riotous, face melter of a solo that’s downright giddy in execution. It’s the sound of a man set free.
Lou Reed
This joyfully savage version of “What Goes On” would appear decades later on Peel Slowly and See, VU’s 1995 boxed set, and to date it’s the only track from the Cleveland concerts to be officially released. In his liner notes for the box, David Fricke is suitably inspired by the rendition, writing that it’s “rich with pyro-fuzzbox spew and climaxes with a staccato rush of tonal destruction over Sterling Morrison’s implacable, syncopated rhythm clang.”
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
Lou Reed, Tom Waits, Marianne Faithfull and more performing the music of Kurt Weill

Whether for his avant-garde work of the Berlin Cabaret scene or his later Broadway scores, Kurt Weill is synonymous with forward-thinking musical theater. It’s hard to imagine the 20th Century pop canon without standards like the indelibly swinging “Ballad of Mack the Knife” or the sentimental “September Song,” and in 1985, producer Hal Wilner conceived a tribute album, featuring a lineup of talent that ranged from actual rock stars like Sting and Todd Rundgren to avant/underground figures like Henry Cow/Art Bears singer Dagmar Krause and Downtown NYC jazz figurehead John Zorn.

The album, Lost in the Stars, was the third in a series of composer tributes put together by Wilner, whose prior similar projects included the Nino Rota tribute Amarcord and A Thelonious Monk Tribute called That’s the Way I Feel Now that featured admirably counter-intuitive contributors like Was (Not Was) and Peter Frampton. Wilner’s well-received tribute series may well have helped kick off the fad for tribute albums in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s; his Stay Awake and Weird Nightmare albums, tributes to Disney soundtracks and Charles Mingus, respectively, certainly benefited from appearing towards the beginning of that long-lived vogue.

Here’s Lou Reed, doing “September Song.” He’d record that song again ten years later, and it would serve as the title track to yet another Wilner tribute to Weill. That later album was more focused on historical recordings, and aside from excellent contributions from Nick Cave and William S. Burroughs, it mostly lacked the underground appeal of Lost in the Stars.

Tom Waits doing music from The Threepenny Opera isn’t exactly a stretch, but it’s as awesome as you’d think. His version of “What Keeps Mankind Alive?” and much much more after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Little-known Lou Reed poem about ‘Janis, Jimi, and Me’ from 1971
01:04 pm


Lou Reed

In the July 4, 1971, issue of Crawdaddy there appears a most curious article authored by Lou Reed, recently of the Velvet Underground, on the subject of spectacle. This poem appeared during one of the most interesting phases for Reed, after his departure from Velvet Underground but before his trip to London to record his first solo album with Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe, among others. Months before that solo album appeared on the horizon and having recently worked in his father’s accounting firm, in the spring of 1971 Reed might well have thought of himself as a “former” rock musician and more of a poet, or a hybrid of the two.

As a rock and roll musician, Reed, in the prose section of this Crawdaddy contribution, understandably isolates “spectacle” as the terrain dominated by big, famous rock groups with large-scale, expensive stage shows, what was surely the state of the art in spectacle at that moment. Is there any envy in these words, or more like an avant-garde artist’s insistence on the values of a smaller coterie?

Prancing and dancing, mincing and twisting, jerking and bumping and grinding to the incessant pounding, to the beat of the drums, as they say, and back to the burlesque houses and g-strings and fingers inserted in orifices, drugs ingested so the audience won’t miss a thing, the air thick with pot, the belly dancer with the snake round her spine, the carnavore guitar, the mountainous amps, the display of POWER, electrical power interplaying with the sinewy vibrations of the many-tentacled audience, writhing in collective spasms for the moment, waiting for the moment it will happen, and all will explode in a giant frenzy of shriek, howl and whistle, stomp, boot, clap and coo.

From this slightly contemptuous portrayal of big expensive showbiz (so very Greenwich Village of him), Reed then transitions to the question of what is the version of that spectacle scaled down to the level of the individual, rather than the group, and concludes that the natural representative of spectacle is ... the town drunk. Reed argues that the aimless patter of the dipsomaniac harks back to the oral tradition as embodied by The Iliad, and from there to the ballad as “a fine method of enlightening others and boring some, a situation which can only be termed successful when the person involved has been bodily ejected from the pub, hence, made a spectacle of himself.”

Tongue lodged firmly in cheek, Reed tells of a “ballad I found written on the men’s room wall of the Houston St. subway station,” which he claims to have memorized and intoned at “the Third Avenue Blarney Stone,” an act that caused him to be ejected from the premises. The title of that ballad is “There Are Devils Outside That Door.” Then, confusingly, Reed then switches from that song to a second “tasteless morsel” called “Janis, Jimi, and Me” that he discovered a “14-year-old derelict” singing in Tompkins Square Park. Reed insists that it should be “recited in a nasal, twanging monotone, preferably with the sounds of sniffing and supplied by a friend.”

The article ends with that ballad, a long one, with thirty verses, most of them quatrains, a poem with what appears to be two titles (both titles would fit the material equally well), a poem to which Reed assigns two different provenances (subway graffiti & the teenage derelict). Reed was working overtime to obscure his authorship of this bitter little piece of versification.

But here’s the strangest aspect of this bit of poetry: I can’t find the merest reference to it on the Internet, and that includes any reference to the Crawdaddy prose section, which is entitled “Spectacle and the Single You.” By “Google” I am also referring to plenty of full-length books about Reed and VU, of course, although that investigation is necessarily incomplete. If anyone out there is aware of this Reed composition, they’re doing an excellent job of concealing it. I couldn’t find any of the titles associated with this article in conjunction with Reed, and I also couldn’t find several of the lyrics when entered into Google as a string.

The poem itself is written in an “old-timey” mode, something akin to an Irish drinking song or a pirate shanty, or both. The poem, if it means anything, is about the perils of the local wastrel taking his or her gift for spectacle on the road in search of a wider audience, i.e. rock superstardom. The poem is about a blacksmith who joins “a minstrel show” and betrays his beloved Rosie with “that harlot Red Mary.” Eventually the poem segues to the subject of Woodstock—the spectacle to end all spectacles—and ends as a kind of joyous death dirge, complete with gongs being chimed (BONG), for the untimely demise of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, who had died about a year before this poem saw publication.

What to make of it? Now, I’m completely ready to accept this as a Lou Reed composition. There’s only one detail that seems out of place, and that is the copyright credit after the poem, which reads, “Lyrics Reprinted with the Permission of Cowardly Lion Music.” Which is supposed to mean one of two things, that “Cowardly Lion Music” is a reference to Reed’s publishing company or that this song had appeared in a musical or something. Again, Google was no help.

It’s difficult for me to credit Lou Reed actually seeing Jimi and Janis with an un-jaundiced eye, but I wouldn’t have necessarily guessed that Reed would have written “Jesus” either, if all I knew about him was “Walk on the Wild Side” and “I’m Waiting for the Man.” The poem is in that old-timey register, which doesn’t seem all that Reed-ish, and its apparent valorization of Hendrix and Joplin is double-edged at a minimum.

There is sanctity in my domain
that separates us from evil
If you cross the door no good will come
for outside there are devils.

I was a blacksmith years ago
I made the anvil ring
But since my Rosie up and died
niether of us sing.

My children went away long ago
to far and distant shores
leaving me to beg and steal
copper pennies from the whores.

Often when it rains out
I make a spot of tea
and concentrate on consequence
and how I left Rosie.

And seeing how you look so much
as she once did before
I thought that I would tell you
There are devils outside that door.

When I was but a smirky youth
I joined a minstrel show.
I covered my face with red paint
And told a joke or two.

I thought that I was quite the lad
but experience has shown
I was only made of wood while
castles require stone.

Rosie saw my failure, clown,
and loved me with it all.
A mother’s heart beat in her breast
as it does in women all.

So I opened up a smythe shop
and shoed the horses round
till sin came on silken heels
And took my Rosie down.

Her name was Mary, what a laugh
no Virgin Mary she.
Her perfume took my breath away
and liquor made me sing.

I did for her my minstrel prance
and even got a laugh.
But the joke was on me for that night of stealth
snuffed out my Rosie’s life.

My daughter, an apprentice seamstress,
was wandering through the snow
and hearing her dear father’s song did
peer through the window.

And Savage Grace please set me loose
the night that she did see
was her own father intimately intertwined
with that harlot Red Mary.

And I like drunken sailors do
the next morning had a head
and when I went unto my berth
I found my Rosie dead.

In her hand I found a note
Crushed to her still opened eyes.
In it she’d writ in letters big
“There are Devils Loose Outside”

So you see my dear
why I’ve brought you here
Please let an old man speak
For your eyes are clear
and you have no fear
and I am far too weak
to ask but only for one thing
and it will not take long,
let an old man spill his heart
out in a little song:

“Oh fairy maid and garden rose
I’ve loved you for a time
and if I send for Black McGhee we’ll
have a good old time.

“The waters flow and dancers strut
for camaraderie now
so let’s get off to the beerman’s pub
and laugh and drink and love.

“Oh I’m a friend of Black McGhee
and he’s a friend of me
and both of us have had our sport
of life without money.

“And though our wives be black as death
we’ll always have our times,
so here’s to sport and here’s to love
and here’s to my friend McGhee.”

So you see my girl it isn’t long
to have your portrait done
I do it with my eyes and words for
of paint I do have none

But my mind has of late come obsessed
all stories sound the same.
Rain to me seems winterish
and sunshine lays no claim.

McGhee is gond, my children too
and Rosie far too soon.
while age creeps round me like a withering vine
that makes me seem the prune.

So I hope that you will understand
when I say as but before,
be careful when you leave this room
there are Devils outside that Door.

* * *

I am no longer afraid of dying
I am no more afraid of death
for I know what does await me
when I take that final step.

I will go to Woodstock Heaven
and listen to the guitars there,
all the singers who are waiting
to serenade me in the sky.

Ohhh Janis, Jimi, and me
will dance among the moonbeams and the clouds,
and no one there will ever hassle us,
it’ll just be Janis (BONG) Jimi (BONG) and me.

I no longer listen to the radio,
my favorite music is no more,
all the musicians are in the Woodstock Choir
following the manic depressives law.

There is Frankie Lymon in his Golden robe
and Brian Jones is on the flute
and Baby Huey is softly playing
in a beautiful silver suit.

Oh I’m going to Woodstock Heaven
and dance among the moonbeams and the clouds.
And no one there will ever hassle us,
It’ll just be Janis (BONG) Jimi (BONG) and me.
BONG . . . . . .BONG . . . . .BONG

Janis, Jimi, And Me: Lyrics Reprinted with the Permission of Cowardly Lion Music) (BMI). C. 1971

Here’s the page from Crawdaddy; you can see a larger version by clicking on this image.

I found this issue of Crawdaddy at the Rock Hall’s Library and Archives, which is located at the Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts on Cuyahoga Community College’s Metropolitan Campus in Cleveland, Ohio. It is free and open to the public. Visit their website for more information.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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