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Spooky Tooth: The lost broadcasts

Spooky Tooth were an incredibly proficient gaggle of musicians whose individual talents were often greater than the sum of the band—when they were good, they were brilliant, but when they were okay, well they were just okay. The original line-up included two powerful keyboard-playing lead singers Gary Wright and Mike Harrison, a brilliant guitarist in Luther Grosvenor (who became equally famous as Ariel Bender with Mott the Hoople), bassist Greg Ridley (who was a founding member of Humble Pie with The Small Faces’ Steve Marriott) and drummer Mike Kellie (a future member of The Only Ones). Later, the line-up included Mick Jones who (of course) went onto world domination with Foreigner—yeah, I know, but somebody had to do it.
The debut Spooky Tooth album ‘It’s All About’—you can see they’re wanting to be hip & trippy.
Originally tinged with psychedelia and early prog rock, Spooky Tooth’s musical focus was shaped by the songwriting talent of Gary Wright over the first two albums—It’s All About (1968) and Spooky Two (1969). But this nascent potential was literally destroyed by the strange collaboration with electronic wizard Pierre Henry for their third album Ceremony (1969), which Wright claims ended the band’s career:

Then we did a project that wasn’t our album. It was with this French electronic music composer named Pierre Henry. We just told the label, “You know this is his album, not our album. We’ll play on it just like musicians.” And then when the album was finished, they said, “Oh no no — it’s great. We’re gonna release this as your next album.” We said, “You can’t do that. It doesn’t have anything to do with the direction of Spooky Two and it will ruin our career.” And that’s exactly what happened.

Like a hole in the head—a collaboration too far? The now praised sonic experiment ‘Ceremony’.
Devastated, Wright temporarily quit, and Spooky Tooth’s next album (billed as Spooky Tooth featuring Mike Harrison) was a rather mixed bag of covers The Last Puff (1970)—though it did contain the greatest ever Beatles cover “I Am The Walrus.”
New line-up, same jeans. Spooky Tooth in ‘73.
Then Grosvenor and Kellie quit, Jones joined and Wright returned to the fold penning nearly all of the songs for their bizarrely titled fifth album You Broke My Heart So…I Busted Your Jaw (1973). It was another mixed bag, and felt like the band had been treading water for three years rather than moving towards some recognizable goal.

Next came Witness, which was Harrison’s last album with the band, before the arrival of the more poppy The Mirror (1974), which was generally well received.  The band split—Jones went onto greater success, while Wright released his million-selling solo album Dream Weaver, which was the kind of thing that punk was invented for.
‘The Mirror’-an album Julian Cope rather liked—and not just for its awful cover.
Spooky Tooth deserve attention not just because of the quality of their disparate players, but also because of the quality of their early and late music—which can partly be seen in these “lost broadcasts” where Spooky Tooth perform “The Weight” on Beat Club in 1968, followed by “Old As I Was Born,” two versions of “Cotton Growing Man,” “Waiting For The Wind” and two versions of “Moriah” for Musikladen in 1973.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The video Jim Jarmusch made for Big Audio Dynamite

1986’s No. 10, Upping St. was kind of an amazing album for Big Audio Dynamite. That was the band Clash Guitarist Mick Jones formed upon his ouster from that seminal punk band, and he used the freedom that came with being HMFIC to explore a mix of club and hip-hop influences with the rock and reggae influences he’d already been known for. And yet, Upping was co-written and produced by his evidently no-longer-estranged former bandmate Joe Strummer! Jones would never re-join the Clash (who, as a result, would suck mightily until they packed it in), and so that B.A.D. LP would be the only Strummer/Jones reunion that ever took place. Jones revealed last year that he and Strummer were working together again in the 21st Century, but that renewed collaboration was cut short by Strummer’s 2002 death.

Three videos were made from that album, “C’mon Every Beatbox,” “V. Thirteen,” and “Sightsee M.C!” That last was noteworthy for having been directed by the pioneering independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch. The director had already become a celebrated figure for Stranger Than Paradise and Down by Law, but the only music video he’d made before was for Talking Heads’ “The Lady Don’t Mind.” In spite of Jarmusch’s high status among indie musicians as well as film afficionados, and his frequent casting of musicians (including Joe Strummer) as actors in his features, ”Sightsee M.C!” remains one of only seven music videos he’s directed in his long career. In a 1992 issue of Film Comment, he had this to say on the matter:

I don’t generally like music videos because they provide you images to go with the songs rather than you providing your own. You lose the beauty of music by not bringing your own mental images or recollections or associations. Music videos obliterate that. That said, one of the better videos I’ve seen is not a music video at all: it’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” where Dylan just stands there with the cards - it’s one single shot. They lifted that out of Don’t Look Back and showed it on MTV. I saw a good video the Butthole Surfers did, directed by the actor from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Alex Winter; very weird, not your MTV fare. Julia Haywood’s Talking Heads video “Burning Down the House” was interesting - projecting fire onto the house itself, and images onto the road and re-photographing them. Zbigniew Rybczinski has done amazing things. But mostly I like videos that don’t get too complicated.


Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Happy Birthday to Mick Jones of The Clash!
10:08 am


The Clash
Mick Jones

Mick Jones was kind of The Clash’s George Harrison. He’s a gifted and distinctive guitar soloist, and was inarguably crucial to the band’s founding and sound, but he was rarely the guy out in front, and like the man said, “It’s the singer, not the song.” But imagine The Clash catalog without “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” “Train in Vain,” “Protex Blue,” or “Police On My Back?” (Yes, the last one’s an Equals cover. Whatevs, Jones completely slayed the lead vocal, and anyway, we just covered how it’s the singer not the blah blah blah, right?) And of course, the one Clash album he’s not on is the one they’d love you to forget ever existed. Jones was born on June 26, 1955, and so the punk rock pioneer who went on from The Clash to found Big Audio Dynamite turns 59 today.

Here’s a 2004 interview on Later with Jools Holland, where Jones joins not just the erstwhile Squeeze keyboardist, but Clash bassist Paul Simonon as well. There’s some great archival footage of a performance of “Clampdown,” and you can catch glimpses of one of the show’s other guests, Green Day, waiting in the wings to shit up the program. Towards the end, Holland asks Jones and Simonon if they’d ever work together again, and predictably enough they hedge, but several years later, they did play together again, as members of Gorillaz’ touring band, and on their Plastic Beach LP.

This footage of Jones out in front of The Clash on the London Calling tour, singing “Train in Vain” for a Paris audience, is mighty damn good.

Jones’ final performance with The Clash, at the US Festival in San Bernardino, CA, May 1983. He’d be ousted from the band just a few months later. This has turned up on YouTube before, but while individual tracks seem to live on uploads of the full show keep getting pulled. Enjoy it while you can.

“The Bottom Line” with his post Clash outfit, Big Audio Dynamite:

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
The Clash: On the Road Across Scotland, 1980

‘We seem to attract quite a bit of it,’ Mick Jones said about the interest of the local Bobbies in Dundee, in this short film of The Clash on the road across Scotland, from February 1980.

Joe Strummer joked The Clash were giving the Tayside police a change from the usual drunks, giving them the opportunity to have some fun with some lads from down south. ‘And we could do well without it,’ Jones added.

An hour before their concert in Edinburgh, Strummer preps his voice with some honey and lemon. Outside young fans, some without tickets, have been waiting since 2 in the afternoon just to get a glimpse of their idols. Later, the band will let in a few of these youngsters into the concert for free.

This is The Clash when they were still living a precarious existence, hand-to-mouth, constantly on the move.

With thanks to Nellym.

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The Clash: Live at the US Festival 1983

This was Mick Jones’ last performance with The Clash in front of an audience of 140,00, headlining at the New Wave Day for the US Festivals, Saturday May 28th 1983. The support was an odd mix for New Wave, consisting of Divinyls, INXS, Men At Work, Flock of Seagulls, The Stray Cats and Oingo Boingo. The quality is rough and watery VHS, but it all adds to its appeal.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
TV weirdness: Joe Strummer accepts music award from Bob Mould on behalf of Mick Jones!
02:44 am


Joe Strummer
Mick Jones
Bob Mould

Ron Reagan Jr. and Sandra Bernhard introduce Bob Mould who presents Big Audio Dynamite with a music award. Joe Strummer accepts!

1986. From the short-lived New Music Awards.

Another winner from Mick Stadium.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The best documentary ever made about The Clash


Probably the best documentary ever made about The Clash - Don Letts’ Westway To The World.

Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Nicholas ‘Topper’ Headon give their personal account of The Clash. The interviews are simply shot by Letts, who has mixed the interviews with live footage and rare film, which plays out against the individual memories of triumphs and frustrations. Listen to the emotion in Strummer’s voice when he talks about the band’s demise, or Headon’s humble (and moving) apology for his drug abuse. This is a classic piece of documentary film-making - catch it while you can.

Previously on Dangerous Minds

The Clash on Broadway



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Joe Strummer’s bizarre film ‘Hell W10’ starring The Clash, from 1983

The Clash’s Joe Strummer wrote and directed this rather strange gangster filck, Hell W10, which stars fellow bandmates, Paul Simonon as Earl, and Mick Jones as kingpin gangster, Socrates. The film centers around a tale of rivalry and ambition, murder and violence, mixing the style of 1930’s gangster movies with 1980’s London. It’s a reminiscent of something Alex Cox might have made (who later directed Strummer in the punk spaghetti western Straight to Hell), and while the film self-consciously meanders, it holds interest, and is aided by a superb soundtrack from The Clash. Watch out for Strummer as a mustachioed cop.


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PJ Harvey performing live at the NME Awards in London
09:03 pm


PJ Harvey
Mick Jones
NME awards

Mick Jones gives PJ some sugar
PJ Harvey receives an award from Mick Jones and Don Letts and performs “The Words That Maketh Murder” at New Musical Express awards show in London, February 23.

In live performance, I prefer PJ in her rock and roll guitar-slinging goddess mode as opposed to the new autoharp-strumming hippie thing. But her new album, Let England Shake, is as satisfying as anything she’s ever recorded. It’s the rare collection of songs that rewards repeated listening.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The Clash action figures

Sorry folks, it looks like The Clash action figures from Locoape have been cancelled. They did retail for $59.95.

This Clash action figure set is part of Locoape’s Icon figure series and includes an action figure of Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Topper Headon. Each 6” Clash action figure features each band member, their respective instrument, accessories, action figure base with “The Clash” logo name plate and one of four randomly inserted “The Clash” action figure back drops

Locoape “The Clash” Music Action Figures Set

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment