To celebrate Bertolt Brecht’s birthday, here is David Bowie in the BBC production of Brecht’s play Baal, from 1982. It was directed by Alan Clarke, the talent behind such controversial TV dramas as Scum with a young Ray Winstone, Made in Britain, with Tim Roth, and Elephant.
Baal was Brecht’s first full-length play, written in 1918, and it tells the story of a traveling musician / poet, who seduces and destroys with callous indifference.
Françoise Dorleac made her first film when she just 15. “A photographer asked if I would model for some fashion pictures and I said fine. A producer saw my pictures in the press and hired me for a small role for a film during the school holidays.” Acting was in her blood. Her father, Maurice Dorleac, was a veteran character actor of stage and screen; her mother, Renee Simonot, was an actress who revoiced Hollywood films, including Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz; her younger sister is Catherine Deneuve.
Françoise was as beautiful, as talented, and as big an international star as her younger sister. However, Françoise wasn’t as ambitious or as wild as Catherine.
“I see myself as a girl who is always dreaming of romance, and the man she wants to marry, a girl who dances when she is happy.”
Françoise made sixteen films during her short career, including Roman Polanski’s classic film Cul de Sac, in which she brilliantly captured the self-obsessed Teresa against the weak and dominated, Donald Pleasance, as George. Françoise gave substance to Francois Truffaut’s tale of adultery La Peau Douce (aka The Soft Skin), and was almost a match for Michael Caine’s Harry Palmer in Ken Russell’s greatly under-rated The Billion Dollar Brain .
On 26 June 1967, Françoise died in an horrific accident when she lost control of her rented car on the Esterel-Côte d’Azur freeway. She was traveling to Nice airport to fly to London, where she was to finish filming on The Billion Dollar Brain . The car flipped over and burst into flames. Witnesses saw the actress struggle to escape the vehicle, but she was unable to open the door. Police identified Dorleac from a stub of her check book, her diary and her driving license.
Her early death at the age 25, has often over-shadowed the quality of her work - both as actress and singer - and it robbed cinema of “a tried and true talent and incomparably beautiful mademoiselle who showed every sign of taking Hollywood by storm.”
Here is something to remember her by: the beautiful and wonderful Françoise singing, Mario J’ai Mal. Plus a bonus clip of Françoise with her sister Catherine Deneuve in the candy-colored musical Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (aka The Young Girls of Rochefort), in which they co-starred with Gene Kelly.
Bonus clip of Françoise Dorleac and Catherine Deneuve, after the jump…
When Oliver Reed met Keith Moon their lives changed forever. Together Moon and Reed formed a bizarre, unholy and incredible friendship that brought them both to the edge of madness and ultimately lead to their untimely deaths.
Their friendship began during the making of Ken Russell’s Tommy, as Lee Patrick recalled on olliereed.co.uk:
I was living with Keith Moon at the time and they were just about to start filming Tommy, Keith and I had spent all morning driving Soho’s sex shops buying dildoes, rubber stuff etc for Keith to use as props for Uncle Ernie.
At lunch time Keith decided to drop into Ken Russell’s office and mentioned that he’d like to meet Ollie before they started filming, Ken immediately got on the phone to Ollie and suggested a meeting, Ollie invited us to Broome Hall afternoon so we were off to Battersea Heliport where we boarded a helicopter to take us there. We arrived on his front lawn shortly afterwards, unfortunately frightening his pregnant horses, Ollie was standing there in the doorway holding 2 pint mugs whisky for us. He was a charming host and invited us to stay for dinner.
Dinner was served on a huge medieval oak table and before we started eating Ollie jumped up and grabbed two large swords which were hanging on the wall, giving one to Keith. The two of them ended up having a sword fight up and down the table, that was the appetiser! After dinner Ollie invited us down to his local pub, The Cricketers, where we all got very drunk, with Ollie and Keith undressing, each one trying to outdo the drunken antics of the other, they were so alike that it was no wonder they became great friends.
Later on, back at Broome Hall, Ollie insisted we stay the night, we were up for that, expecting to be sleeping in a magnificent bedroom, however, his entourage took up all the furnished bedrooms and we were led out to the stables!! Keith said we would pass up his invitation and go home, but Ollie would have none of it, and next thing we knew he was standing there pointing an old shotgun at us, so we said OK we’ll stay, we ended up sleeping on couches in the living room!
At the time of their meeting, in the mid-seventies, Reed was Britain’s most successful and highest paid film star, something he was always keen to let any scandal-mongering press know:
‘I’m the biggest star this country has got. Destroy me and you destroy the whole British film industry.’
He had also been voted the sexiest actor alive and told Photoplay magazine:
‘I may look like a Bedford truck, but the women know there’s a V-8 engine underneath.’
Though he also claimed the film world wasn’t where his ambitions lay:
‘I have two ambitions in life: one is to drink every pub dry, the other is to sleep with every woman on earth.’
It was disingenuous, for Reed was serious about his acting and was “always word perfect and unfailingly courteous to colleagues and technicians.” Reed was well respected as an actor, and a professional, and once came within “a sliver” of replacing Sean Connery as James Bond in the film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but Reed’s reputation as a hell-raiser meant the part went to George Lazenby.
Even so, by 1975, Reed had made an impressive range of films, including I’ll Never Forget What’s ‘Is Name (the first film to have the word “fuck” in it); The Jokers; The Assassination Bureau; Hannibal Brroks; The Shuttered room; Women in Love (first male-full frontal nudity, a scene which was not in the original script, and was only included after Reed encouraged Russell to film it); Sitting Target; and perhaps his best film, The Devils.
Reed had formed a creative partnership with Ken Russell, the director he called “Jesus Christ,” since they had worked together on the BBC TV drama The Debussy film. It was because of this partnership that the non-singing Reed was cast in the role of Frank in the musical Tommy. As Reed and Moon capered and drank copiously off-set, it was to have a debilitating effect for Moon on-set:
Reed’s part got bigger and bigger as Keith Moon’s got smaller and smaller, probably due to Ken Russell’s familiarity with Oliver, and the fact that he could drink himself into stupor at night and show up on time and line-perfect in the morning, while Moonie remained stuporous.
Their friendship was an unstable chemical compound based on drink, drugs, sex and pranks, as Reed was to remark:
‘I like the effect drink has on me. What’s the point of staying sober?’
The life of excess has but one destination, and as Cliff Goodwin wrote in his definitive biography of Reed, Evil Spirits, the end came during Reed’s 40th birthday party at a swanky hotel in Hollywood, when Moon decided to liven things up with his impersonation of a “human helicopter”. Moon jumped onto a table, grabbed the blades of an overhead fan, and began to spin around, above the heads of the invited guests. Unfortunately, the blades had slashed Moon’s hands and arms and he splattered the A-list guests with gore.
It was the moment that Reed realized the genie was well and truly out of the bottle and that he or Moon would die from their life of excess. Tragically, it was Moon who died six months later. Reed never recovered from Moon’s death, and later claimed a day didn’t go by when he didn’t think about Moon the Loon.
Will George O’Dowd still be Boy George when he hits his half-century later this year? Man George doesn’t have the same hook to it - sounding like something a porn star would use; and we can never think of him as Middle-Aged George, even though that’s closer to the truth. For the wonderfully soulful-voiced O’Dowd has been a fixture of pop culture for thirty years, and he is now as lovable a character as the Queen Mum was to London cab drivers. Add to this his back catalog of hits and a shelf-full of notable tales - from his own fair share of ups and downs as internationally successful pop star, actor, writer, ex-druggie, ex-convict and DJ - and you’ll see why Boy George is a modern pop culture hero.
In 2000, George presented The Chemical Generation a fascinating documentary examining “the Acid House, rave and club culture revolution and also the generations favourite chemical - ecstasy.” This gem was first broadcast in the UK on Channel 4, on the 27 May 2000, and it is:
...the story of British club and drug culture from the early days of acid house. The documentary includes interviews with promoters, bouncers, drug dealers and the clubbers themselves, shot in clubs and bars around London and club footage from across the country. Interviewees include (DJs) Danny Rampling, Judge Jules, Nicky Holloway, Pete Tong, Lisa Loud, Mike Pickering, Dave Haslan, along with Ken Tappenden (former Divisional Commander of Kent Police) and writer (Trainspotting) Irvine Welsh.
The background to rave in the UK goes something like this:
In 1987 four working class males, Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling, Nicky Holloway and Johnny Walker found themselves in clubs across Ibiza, listening to the music which was to make them legends in the dance scene and transform the face of youth subculture in Britain. Not only did they discover the musical genre of Acid House, played by legendary house DJ’s Alredo Fiorillio and Jose Padilla in clubs such as Amnesia and Pacha, they were also crucially introduced to the drug MDMA, more commonly known as ecstasy. Johnny Walker describes the experience:
“It was almost like a religious experience; a combination of taking ecstasy and going to a warm, open-air club full of beautiful people - you’re on holiday, you feel great and you’re suddenly being exposed to entirely different music to what you were used to in London. This strange mixture was completely fresh and new to us, and very inspiring”
The Chemical Generation covers their story and more, and giving an excellent history of Rave Culture, its drugs, its stars, and its music.
Bonus clip, Boy George sings ‘The Crying Game’, after the jump…
Charles has created a superb blog Archived Music Press, which contains scans of old copies of the UK’s N.M.E. and Melody Maker from 1987-1996, featuring articles on Public Enemy, The Happy Mondays, Radiohead, Pulp, Kurt Cobain and many more. As Charles explains:
I recently retrieved a large pile of old N.M.E. and Melody Makers from a dusty attic. Most of my copies are from around 1987 to 1996. Somehow can’t bring myself to throw them out so I thought I’d start scanning in some of the more interesting covers, reviews and articles at a decent resolution so they can be linked to, read, printed and generally preserved for posterity. I figure someone’s bound to have a use or interest in this stuff if I keep at it. If I feel particularly inclined I might write a few words about the musician, band or journalist.
It’s also my way of saying thank you to all the people who’ve taken the trouble to upload material I’ve gratefully found on the web over many years. All pages will be scanned full size at 150dpi. In simple terms this means you’ll be able to re-produce any page you find here to good quality on A3 size paper.
According to the gospel of Saint Anthony H. Wilson, Manchester, England, was the center of the universe during the 1980s and 1990s. Not only for its music, its talent, its imagination, and sheer brass neck, but also because it had the Haçienda, the fabled night club where you could see Madonna one night and William Burroughs the next.
Designed by Ben Kelly, The Haçienda opened its doors on Friday May 21st 1982. Owned by Factory Records and New Order (the latter plowed most of their earnings into the venue), it was given the Factory catalog number FAC51. The mix of who played there reads like an A & R man’s wet dream and included, New Order, The Happy Mondays, The Smiths, OMD, The Birthday Party, Husker Du, The Stone Roses, Oasis, James, Echo and The Bunnymen, A Certain Ratio, and Divine, amongst others. Mike Pickering, Graeme Park and Dave Haslam were host DJ’s, and in the late 1980s and 1990s, the club was the catalyst for Madchester - the music and drug fueled Second Summer of Love.
Yet, as it is said, all good things must end and the Haçienda closed down in 1997; and the club was demolished to make way for “luxury apartments” in 2002.
When Peter Hook (legendary bass-player with Joy Division and New Order), guest-blogged on the NME back in 2009, he recalled his top 10 Haçienda memories. At number three, was William Burroughs performance at The Haçienda, October 1982, of which Hooky wrote:
“That was one of those nights when there was hardly anyone in but it was quite intense because of what William Burroughs was doing. The funny thing was that one of Joy Division’s first gigs abroad was with William Burroughs, a William Burroughs evening in the Plan K in Belgium so we had a little bit of history with him ‘cos he’d told Ian to fuck off when he asked for a free book. Even at The Haçienda I didn’t ask for a free book either. I was as scared of William Burroughs as he was.
Burroughs was always impressive when presenting his work on stage, and this clip, posted by orange object, is a great piece of pop and literary culture.
Perhaps best known for their brilliantly-colored, wall-sized paintings, artists Gilbert and George have been working together since they first met at St. Martin’s School of Art in London, 1967. The pair claim they became friends as George was the only person who could understand the Italian-born Gilbert’s poorly spoken English. “It was love at first sight,” they have since claimed. It was while they were students that Gilbert and George first devised their trademark performance art called Living Sculptures, where they wandered through the city streets covered in metallic make-up. The idea was to “collapse the distance between art and artists.”
In 1970, Gilbert and George developed this further and first performed their famous Singing Sculpture, at the Nigel Greenwood Gallery. Again coated in metallic make-up, the duo stood on a table and moved in robotic movement to comedy double-act, Flannagan and Allen’s 1930’s music hall song “Underneath the Arches” - about the homeless men who slept under railway arches during the Great Depression. Their show proved controversial and divided audiences, which is will no doubt happen with the pair’s latest show, The Urethra Postcard Art of Gilbert and George, which has just opened at the White Cube Gallery in London.
For this latest show, Gilbert and George have created 564 pieces of art from their personal collection of tourist postcards and telephone booth sex cards, advertising prostitutes’ services. Collecting the tourist postcards was easy, the call girl cards more difficult, as they explained to the Guardian:
The phonebox sex cards were trickier. When they saw one they liked – “Luke man 2 man horny fit lad 27 years” – they would dive in and grab it, but would then have to scour the area looking for 12 more. “Transexual Linda new in town” must have found business collapsing as all the ads within half a mile disappeared.
The prostitutes’ cards are a vanishing artform, along with the phoneboxes themselves – “almost fizzled out now,” George said mournfully.
Icelandic singer Bjork is hosting a three-day karaoke marathon to draw attention to her country’s natural resources and a possible takeover by a Canadian energy company, the Toronto Sun reports.
The off-beat singer has launched a petition to call for a referendum to stop the takeover of HS Orka by Vancouver-based Magma Energy.
HS Oka produces geothermal and thermal power.
Concerns raised last summer after the sale was made public were put to rest in September, Magma Energy said, after a special committee appointed by the Icelandic government “concluded that Magma acted in full compliance with Icelandic law.”
Even though Magma Energy announced on its website in December is has completed obligations for the purchase of 98.53% of HS Orka, the wire service AFP reported Bjork said “the fight to keep it in the hands of the Icelandic people is not over,” during a press conference Thursday.
On her website, Bjork encouraged people to come to the event and sing their favourite songs.
“Elves, hidden people, sports people, hobby musicians and professionals ... everyone who cares for Iceland, come and join forces and perform a powerful ode to the nature of Iceland,” a press release for the event said, the Iceland Review reported. “Let’s bring our natural resources back to us with song.”
Bjork was set to perform along with other well-known Icelandic musicians.
For more information about the campaign, check here and click English version. Now, here’s a video, via Icelandic Chronicles, of Bjork singing Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” at the karaoke, from 6 January 2011.
As James St. James says over at the fab World of Wonder site this “Must be seen to be believed.” Rock Hudson and Bea Arthur sing about acid, weed, cocaine and booze in the song “Everybody Today Is Turning On”, a toe-tapping moment from Bea Arthur’s Emmy-nominated TV special, aired on 19 January 1980, on CBS. The song comes from the 1977 Broadway Musical I Love My Wife.
It’s with profound sadness that we have to inform you that Mick finally lost his battle with cancer and passed away peacefully at 4.30pm today, 4th January 2011 at home in Chelsea, London. He was surrounded by his family and friends and will be deeply missed by all.
Karn was an intrinsic part to the success of Japan which, under David Sylvian’s talents, fused synth-pop with elements of Bowie and Roxy Music. They first came to prominence in the mid-1970s, and went onto produce the highly acclaimed albums Quiet Life, Gentlemen Take Polaroids and Tin Drum; as well as the hit singles “Ghosts”, “Quiet Life” and “I Second That Emotion”. Japan’s music was to prove greatly influential over the next decade. After the band’s demise, Karn collaborated with Bauhaus singer, Pete Murphy on the seminal album The Waking Hour. He also worked with Gary Numan and Kate Bush.
This should have been something: When Sparks met Jacques Tati in 1974, to discuss Ron and Russell Mael’s’ starring roles in the French comedy legend’s next feature Confusion. N’est-ce pas incroyable, non? As the brothers explain over at the fabulous Graphik Designs website:
Russell Mael: “We were discussing with a guy from Island Records in Europe fun things to do that weren’t involved with being in a rock band and how to just kind of expand the whole thing… JacquesTati’s name was brought up and we just kind of laughed it off. Anyway, he approached Jacques Tati and somehow got him to come meet us. Jacques Tati didn’t know anything about Sparks because he was 67 years old and doesn’t listen to rock music.”
Ron Mael: “We were to be in Tati’s film Confusion, a story of two American TV studio employees brought to a rural French TV company to help them out with some American technical expertise and input into how TV really is done. Unfortunately due to Tati’s declining health and ultimate death, the film didn’t get met.”
Confusion was to be a “visionary project” in which Tati offered a critique of the encroaching globalization of the world through advertising and television. It was planned as a follow-up to his masterpiece Playtime that dealt with the damaging alienation caused by modern corporate life. Tati had even decided on a shock opening to his new feature. In the first reel, his famous comic alter-ego, Monsieur Hulot would be killed off, in a mix-up with a real and prop gun.
The film had Hulot working in a rural TV station and his death leads to the arrival of two young American TV execs (Ron and Russell), who have plans to modernize the TV station.
What should have been one of the greatest pop-comedy films ever made, sadly never happened after Tati went bankrupt and his declining health put the project on hold. However, Sparks did write a song for the film, Confusion, which appeared on their Big Beat album. Instead of starring roles, the brothers made a cameo appearance in the 1977 blockbuster Rollercoaster. Plans to film Confusion lingered on for a few years, until Tati’s death in 1982 brought the project to a close.
Bonus clips of Sparks, plus their demo ‘Landlady, Landlady, Turn-up the Heat’ after the jump…
They were two men best known by their surnames, two giants of their disciplines, but when Warhol met Zappa in 1983, on the Pop Artist’s TV show, it was less a meeting of great minds than a few questions from fan Richard Berlin, who did the interviewing for Warhol. Zappa briefly talked about fans, music and fun, and, well, gee, that’s about it. I was left wanting to know what was said off camera. Answers on a postcard, please.