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That time Nirvana snuck into a TV studio and made video magic
05.24.2017
12:40 pm
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In 1989 Sub Pop released Nirvana’s first album Bleach, and word of the (at the time) startlingly heavy and catchy masterpiece recorded with a tiny budget got around the indie underground rather quickly. I was late to that game—I remember I spent the summer of 1990 playing the shit out of Soundgarden’s Ultramega OK and Mudhoney’s first album and it wasn’t until September that a friend gave me this album I absolutely had to listen to: Bleach. Then that dominated my CD player for the next year or so.

A few months before that, on March 20, 1990, Nirvana took advantage of a relatively empty Evergreen State College campus (the institution is lovingly known as “TESC”) during Spring Break to “sneak into”—not sure how literally to take that—the campus TV studio and record some footage. What that session produced was experimental, heavy as shit, and generally quite interesting.

According to Jon Snyder, the director of the session, Cobain’s intention at that moment was to put together a VHS tape for fans to buy: “The original concept was to do stuff in the studio, then go to Aberdeen and shoot a bunch of other stuff and turn it into some hour-long thing they would sell to fans.”

Knowing that the studio was equipped with a green screen for chromakey work, Cobain brought along some videotapes with amusing and/or scary footage to project over/behind the band playing. Such a simple idea, but the execution was unexpectedly effective. For “School,” the footage was a montage featuring ‘70s heartthrobs Shaun Cassidy and Leif Garrett as well as a random assemblage of informercial-type clips and footage of high school students. For “Big Cheese,” Haxan: Witchcraft through the Ages provided the doomy backdrop.

For the second rendition of “Floyd the Barber,” which pops up around the 20-minute mark, the backdrop was primarily footage of Cobain’s own art projects and dioramas. Camera operator Alex Kostelnik recalls: “He had broken dolls, dolls on fire, or stuff like in Toy Story where the dolls are all put together wrong.”

Watch after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.24.2017
12:40 pm
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Nirvana and Steve Albini prank Evan Dando about working with Madonna, 1993
03.30.2017
12:38 pm
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In 1993 the biggest act in indie rock, by far, was Nirvana, but the Lemonheads weren’t all that far behind. Both acts had enjoyed a spectacularly successful 1992: Nirvana’s Nevermind had hit #1 on the album charts in January, and the Lemonheads followed suit by placing two songs off of the band’s fifth album It’s a Shame About Ray in the top 10, the title track and a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson.”

The lead singer of the Lemonheads was a handsome young lad named Evan Dando, a polarizing figure whose beachy good looks didn’t exactly transmit the requisite values of integrity and struggle to the indie rock faithful. The Lemonheads had jumped to Atlantic for 1990’s Lovey, an act that carried far more symbolic meaning at that time than it would today. (Yes, Nirvana made a similar jump but then, Cobain wasn’t as dreamy-handsome as Dando.) 
 

The Lemonheads
 
In early 1993, Steve Albini and Nirvana were holed up at Pachyderm Studio in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, to record what would become In Utero. At that moment Dando and his band were in Australia for a series of dates that, interestingly enough, would later be documented in a VHS called The Lemonheads: Two Weeks in Australia. While he was there, Dando called up Nirvana to shoot the shit for a while.

Now, indie rockers did not generally have access to email in 1993, and intercontinental telephone calls from hotel rooms were just about the most expensive form of communication imaginable, a fact that doesn’t seem to have fazed Dando a bit. At some point the speculative size of Dando’s hotel bill must have become a topic of conversation in Minnesota because after a while the game became to find a way to keep Dando on the line for as long as possible.

Someone, I’d imagine Kurt, thrusts the receiver in Albini’s face with the mandate to make something up. Forced to improvise, Albini passes himself off as a personal assistant to Madonna, who was just indescribably huge in the early 1990s, any connection with whom would represent a BIG rise in fortune for any former Taang! Records act such as the Lemonheads.

Would Mr. Dando mind waiting on the line while Madonna attends to other business?

And waiting…. and waiting…. and waiting?

Watch Steve Albini himself tell the story after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Martin Schneider
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03.30.2017
12:38 pm
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Watch a very tired Nirvana being interviewed just a few weeks after ‘Nevermind’ came out
04.19.2016
12:25 pm
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I find it difficult to imagine what the final months of 1991 and the first months of 1992 could possibly have been like for the members of Nirvana. Nevermind came out on September 24, 1991, and has been a staple of “top albums of all time” lists ever since. It must have been a supreme mindfuck to go from believing that it would be an improbable long shot that your band would ever achieve a status comparable to their buddies the Melvins to being hailed as something akin to a Beatles for the Generation X. In a space of a few weeks, Nirvana went from a band admired by a passionate coterie to the band on everyone’s lips, and suddenly absolutely everyone wanted a part of them.

As a result, Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl were busy little beavers that winter, as this crowded chronology suggests. A couple days before the album release, on September 20, they commenced a fast tour of North America, starting in Toronto and hitting some 30-odd locations by the end of October. On November 2, the same day that Nevermind entered the top 40 (at a humble #35), the band flew to England for a European tour, the first show happening in Bristol on November 4. They hung out in England for a few dates, then played Germany, Austria, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands, returning to the British Isles for the last week in November and the first week of December. By this time Nevermind‘s status as an authentic phenomenon was sealed, as the album was certified gold and platinum simultaneously, on November 27.
 

 
During that second visit to Great Britain, Nirvana taped an appearance on Top of the Pops on November 27 and a day later taped an extensive interview with Antoine de Caunes of Rapido, which at the time had attained some status as a cult music/interview show of the type that future readers of Dangerous Minds adore.

Nirvana was in some kind of historico-cultural zone during this stretch, and the band’s appearance on Top of the Pops is an excellent case in point. The band could do no wrong by this time, somewhat like the Beatles in the U.S. in 1964. This appearance is well known as the one in which TOTP demanded that Kurt lip-sync his vocals on “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” but the band demurred, leading to a compromise in which only the vocal track would be taped live. So in protest, Kurt sang his vocal in an unnaturally (hilariously) bass register that had nothing to do with how the song’s supposed to go, while all three guys ostentatiously “non-played” their instruments with outsize gestures in which their hands were never remotely close to where they were supposed to be.

Keep reading after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Martin Schneider
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04.19.2016
12:25 pm
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Incredible early Nirvana gig at a tiny East Coast goth club, 1990
03.31.2016
02:48 pm
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Kurt Cobain playing a gig at Man Ray in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th, 1990
Kurt Cobain playing a gig at ManRay in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th, 1990. Photo by JJ Gonson.
 
So here’s something that your ears will appreciate hearing a the loudest volume possible today—a rare audio recording of Nirvana performing songs from their 1989 debut record, Bleach as well as a couple of tracks from the yet-to-be-released smash, Nevermind at a small Goth club called ManRay (R.I.P.) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
 
Krist and Kurt backstage at Man Ray in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th, 1990
Krist Novoselic and Kurt backstage at ManRay in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th, 1990. Photo by JJ Gonson
 
Kurt Cobain jumping into the crowd at Man Ray in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18, 1990
Photo by JJ Gonson
 
Krist Novoselic with Nirvana at Man Ray in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th 1990
Krist Novoselic at ManRay. Photo by JJ Gonson
 
Drummer Chad Channing crawling up to his kit at Man Ray in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th, 1990
Drummer Chad Channing at ManRay. Photo by JJ Gonson
 
Kurt Cobain diving into the small crowd at ManRay in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th, 1990
Kurt Cobain diving into the small crowd at ManRay in Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 18th, 1990. Photo by JJ Gonson.
 
Duane Bruce, legendary former DJ of Boston alternative rock station, WFNX was on hand to introduce the band, and was also was smart enough to record the raucous live set that was attended by less than 100 people on April 18th, 1990. In the audio recording I’ve posted below you’ll hear an exuberant sounding Kurt Cobain proclaim the following (at about 22 minutes in) about their upcoming release Nevermind before kicking into “Breed” and “In Bloom”:

This is from our next record, it’s gonna be out in September or something like that. It’s gonna be a rock n roll record! It’s gonna have all your rock favorites, and… it’s gonna be a blast!

Find more Nirvana after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Cherrybomb
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03.31.2016
02:48 pm
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James Dean, Picasso, Prince, Robert Plant, Nirvana, Zappa, Jimi, Iggy & more in the bathroom!
12.01.2015
09:46 am
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James Dean in the bathroom
James Dean in the bathroom “multitasking”
 
Here’s another installment of a series of posts I’ve become “known” for doing here on Dangerous Minds that features photos of famous folks hanging out and doing mundane things like we all do. This time your eyes will be treated to images of writers, artist, celebrities and musicians that were taken in, well, the bathroom.
 
Pablo Picasso, 1956
Pablo Picasso, 1956
 
In this massive post, I’ve got over 30 pictures of famous faces (and their bodies in varying stages of undress) such as Serge Gainsbourg, Toni Iommi of Black Sabbath (as well as his pal Ozzy), Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen (snapped in the loo of Thin Lizzy vocalist Phil Lynott) and Pablo Picasso taking baths, spending time in a bathroom stall, or seated on the toilet. Some of the images date back to the late 30s, and others appear to have been snapped under somewhat candid circumstances. Go figure.
 
Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin on the toilet
Robert Plant
 
I mean, did you ever think you’d see a photo of one of the greatest rock vocalists of all time, Robert Plant chilling out on the crapper? Well, if you didn’t (and as I often say in my posts), today is your lucky day! As always, I’ve tried to nail down dates and places whenever possible. Also, since we’re talking about images that were taken in the bathroom, it’s likely that some of what you’re about to see after the jump could be considered NSFW. But that’s why you clicked this link in the first place, now isn’t it? Enjoy!
 
Nirvana (L-R Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl, and Kurt Cobain)
Nirvana (L-R Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl, and Kurt Cobain)
 
Prince in the bathtub (from the 1986 film, Under a Cherry Moon)
Prince in the bathtub (from the 1986 film, Under a Cherry Moon)
 
The late, great, Joan Rivers
The late, great Joan Rivers, 1966
 
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
 
Many more after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Cherrybomb
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12.01.2015
09:46 am
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Because nothing quite goes with tennis like grunge, watch John McEnroe cover Nirvana!
08.28.2015
09:39 am
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Very little information has been given on this video of famously furious tennis legend John McEnroe covering Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings,” but it is a strange and wondrous (and oddly appropriate?) sports-music crossover. Basically we know that the footage is from six days ago, and was recorded at The Stephen Talkhouse, a bar in the Hamptons—not very grunge, but can you picture McEnroe in Seattle? We can all be judgmental and shitty about this performance, but it was clearly intended as a fun night out and not some foray into a music career, so let’s just try not to be disturbed that Nirvana is being covered by dads in the Hamptons and let McEnroe have his fun, ok?

The audience apparently featured celebs like Lorne Michaels and Harvey Weinstein, and McEnroe is being backed (quite well, in fact) by his daughter Ava, and his wife Patty Smyth of Scandal. Remember her?!? (Say what you will, “Goodbye to You” is a solid bit of pop brilliance.) I guess the family that plays together, stays together, or… something.
 

 
Via Stereogum

Posted by Amber Frost
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08.28.2015
09:39 am
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‘Illiteracy Will Prevail’: Demo tape from Kurt Cobain’s pre-Nirvana band Fecal Matter
08.05.2015
03:25 pm
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Photo Credit: Charles Peterson
 
When Kurt Cobain formed his band Fecal Matter in 1985 with drummer Greg Hokanson and future Melvins drummer Dale Crover, his blazing path to superstardom as the singer, guitarist, and primary songwriter of Nirvana was still several years away. Fecal Matter recorded a single demo on a four-track under the title, “Illiteracy Will Prevail.”

Now, for the first time ever, the entire demo, lasting slightly longer than 58 minutes, has surfaced online. Cobain’s uncanny ability to wrest tunefulness out of what is otherwise a gnarly punk mess is clearly in evidence all over this demo. You wouldn’t mistake it for the output of any other band.
 

The cassette cover for the 4-track demo
 
The demo has a dozen-plus “totally abrasive” tracks on it, the titles of which are not fully agreed-upon. The last full song (at the 45:08 mark) is an early version of “Downer,” which appeared as an extra track on some versions of Nirvana’s 1989 debut Bleach.

Fecal Matter broke up when the Melvins coalesced; future Nirvana bassist Krist (a/k/a Chris) Novoselic heard and dug the Fecal Matter demo, sought out Cobain, and the rest is rock history.
 

“Illiteracy Will Prevail,” approximate tracklist:
1. Sound of Dentage (00:00)
2. Bambi Slaughter (04:50)
3. Laminated Effect (08:24)
4. Blathers Log (10:42)
5. Class of ’86 (13:19)
6. Boatakk (17:15)
7. Love My Family (19:21)
8. Accusations (28:28)
9. Spank Thru (33:05)
10. Insurance (36:55)
11. Buffy’s Pregnant (38:24)
12. Vaseline (42:41)
13. Downer (45:08)
14. Instrumental version of Boatakk (48:09)
15. Riffs & “Turnaround” by Devo (49:48)

 
Listen to the entire “Illiteracy Will Prevail” demo below:
 

 
via Consequence of Sound
 

Posted by Martin Schneider
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08.05.2015
03:25 pm
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Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ covered by hard disks and other internal computer doodads
04.09.2015
01:29 pm
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We’ve seen this a few times before, most notably with the cover of “Rock Lobster” by the “Bit52s” a couple years back. Here we have a case full of hard drives and other unidentified computer components playing what is arguably the song of the 1990s, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana.

It should be said that the “Rock Lobster” cover works a bit better, but at least this experiment establishes conclusively that robots cannot reproduce the ass-kicking righteousness of Dave Grohl’s skull-shattering drum fills.
 

 
via Das Kraftfuttermischwerk
 

Posted by Martin Schneider
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04.09.2015
01:29 pm
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Watch Nirvana sabotage Buenos Aires stadium show, opening with (still) unreleased song, 1992
01.28.2015
10:39 am
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Nirvana
 
On October 30th, 1992, Nirvana were booked to play a major show in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They were so big at that point in time that they just about sold-out José Amalfitani Stadium, which can hold nearly fifty thousand people. Prior to their set, Kurt Cobain witnessed the negative reception their hand picked opening act received, and was so incensed that he considered canceling the gig. Nirvana ultimately did perform that night, but they were sloppy and their set-list was more than a little unusual, as they purposely incorporated rare songs from their catalogue that they knew most of the audience wouldn’t be familiar with, including a couple of unreleased numbers. It ended up being one of their oddest shows, and it was all captured on videotape by a professional film crew.

Kurt later shared his memories of the gig:

“When we played Buenos Aires, we brought this all-girl band over from Portland called Calamity Jane,” Kurt recalled. “During their entire set, the whole audience—it was a huge show with like sixty thousand people—was throwing money and everything out of their pockets, mud and rocks, just pelting them. Eventually the girls stormed off crying. It was terrible, one of the worst things I’ve ever seen, such a mass of sexism all at once. Krist, knowing my attitude about things like that, tried to talk me out of at least setting myself on fire or refusing to play. We ended up having fun, laughing at them (the audience). Before every song, I’d play the intro to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and then stop. They didn’t realize that we were protesting against what they’d done. We played for about forty minutes, and most of the songs were off Incesticide, so they didn’t recognize anything. We wound up playing the secret noise song (‘Endless, Nameless’) that’s at the end of Nevermind, and because we were so in a rage and were just so pissed off about this whole situation, that song and whole set were one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had.” (from Nirvana: The Chosen Rejects)

 
Kurt Cobain in Buenos Aires
Kurt in Buenos Aires

If you watch the show (which is embedded below), you’ll realize that Kurt was misremembering or embellishing a bit here and there. While they did unearth a handful of rarities from their odds-n-ends collection Incesticide (which hadn’t been released yet), as well as “All Apologies” (it later turned up on In Utero), they also played most of Nevermind (but not “Teen Spirit,” which they teased before two songs), and a few of the highlights from Bleach. One thing Kurt failed to mention that they most certainly did do to annoy the crowd, was open with a strange, jam-like number that those in attendance had definitely never heard before.

Unavailable on any of Nirvana’s archival releases and believed to have been performed at just this show, the track has come to be known by the most-excellent of titles, “Nobody Knows I’m New Wave”—though there is no documentation available to confirm its validity. The go-to source for Nirvana bootleg info, Live Nirvana, believes it is just a jam, largely due to official biographer Michael Azerrad’s assessment in his book, Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana:

“The first thing they played was an improvised jam, which deteriorated into a fifteen minute fest from Kurt, with breaks when he would stop to glare at the crowd.”

The circulating video of the show begins with “Nobody Knows I’m New Wave,” but lasts less than three minutes, so it’s difficult to know what Azerrad is referring to. Does the tape begin twelve-plus minutes after their set started? Or has Azerrad himself embellished or misremembered the event?

Though the majority of the lyrics were probably made up on the spot (including “I promise to shit on your head”; “I’m new wave/I’m old school”) and the racket they’re generating collapses after just a couple of minutes, structurally it does have a chorus, which makes me think it was somewhat worked out beforehand. Either way, this isn’t the sort of track most groups would start a stadium concert with.

In Come As You Are, Azerrad also notes that the band “had hardly practiced, their enthusiasm was low, and they played badly.” Regardless, there are some great moments, like the especially heavy version of “In Bloom” (though Kurt messes up a lot); when Dave Grohl brings a toy drum kit to the front of the stage for “Polly” (and Kurt cracks a smile); the aforementioned catharsis that is “Endless, Nameless”; and the intriguing opener. Is it a song or just a jam to piss-off the Argentineans? You decide.
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Listen to ‘Montage of Heck,’ Kurt Cobain’s mind-blowing music montage—made years before his fame

Posted by Bart Bealmear
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01.28.2015
10:39 am
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Kurt Cobain’s suicide note printed on tacky tee shirts
01.13.2015
03:29 pm
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I’m probably not alone in this opinion… but making money from a person’s death in the form of a tee shirt seems pretty low to me. Even if that person was a world famous rockstar… it’s still incredibly tacky, IMO.

But someone—based out of Thailand with the name “Nuchyk”—is doing just that by selling tee shirts on eBay with Kurt Cobain’s suicide note in its entirety printed on the front. Apparently this has been done before on Etsy with Cobain’s letter on shirts and baseball caps. Etsy quickly pulled the items from their site due to overwhelming complaints.

You can click here to read Cobain’s final letter.

Via AV Club

Posted by Tara McGinley
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01.13.2015
03:29 pm
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Kurt Cobain and Mark Lanegan’s short-lived Leadbelly tribute band
11.25.2014
10:11 am
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Before either of their bands achieved major national prominence, Screaming Trees’ Mark Lanegan and Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain were briefly members of a tribute band honoring the great blues artist Leadbelly. The band, called “The Jury,” was ill-documented, but it’s been mentioned in passing in numerous articles, like this one in the old Seattle music mag The Rocket.

That’s also how he [Lanegan] describes the events that led to his two highly-acclaimed solo albums on Sub Pop. He says the solo records came out of some work he was doing with his close friend Kurt Cobain, and that he felt it was pretentious to release a solo album. “It happened because Kurt and I were going to do this thing—with Krist Novoselic and Mark Pickerel—of Leadbelly covers. And that just kind of fell apart. But Pickerel and Jonathan Poneman kind of dreamt up the idea of doing the solo thing. I had some demos that I’d been working on and a bunch of demos I’d done with Kurt, that I never really gave him credit for.”

Those demos were recorded with Skin Yard guitarist Jack Endino, then and still the go-to producer in Seattle for heavy rock, during two sessions in August of 1989.
 

 
Easily the best-known expression of Lanegan and Cobain’s Leadbelly fandom was Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged version of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night,” a/k/a “In the Pines.” If you were breathing, sentient, and reasonably conscious in 1994, you saw the footage of that performance about twelve million times in the months following Cobain’s suicide, but Cobain had previously recorded that song with the Jury, and it was released on Mark Lanegan’s 1990 solo debut, The Winding Sheet. Cobain appears here on guitar, and shares vocals with Lanegan, though it’s Lanegan’s voice that dominates. It’s much more stylized and menacing than Nirvana’s more organic Unplugged take on the song—and one of the doomiest versions of that much-recorded old song there is.
 

 
Other recordings of the Jury that have surfaced are an instrumental version of “Grey Goose,” a solo acoustic Cobain performance of “They Hung Him on a Cross,” and a full band version of “Ain’t It a Shame to Go Fishin’ on a Sunday.” They turned up on the completist’s goldmine 2004 Nirvana boxed set With The Lights Out, the last one’s title truncated to “Ain’t it a Shame.” Cobain is out in front on that one. Some Internet sources have it that Lanegan played guitar on this, but as far as I can tell that credit is absent from the release, and I’m unaware of Lanegan playing any instrument. When you have a singing voice like his, who needs to?
 

 
Happy 50th birthday to Mark Lanegan! Also, happy birthday and bottomless gratitude to Beth Piwkowski, whose idea this post was.

Previously on Dangerous Minds
Cheer up with your very own Mark Lanegan bobblehead
Absolute Nirvana: new Steve Albini mixes push ‘In Utero’ anniversary set into essential territory

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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11.25.2014
10:11 am
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Listen to ‘Montage of Heck,’ Kurt Cobain’s mind-blowing music montage—made years before his fame
10.31.2014
02:04 pm
Topics:
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Nobody better represented the young, angry, art school punk better than Kurt Cobain—a glance at his Journals is enough to convince that his desire to fuck shit up was bone-deep. Fortunately, his tastes for fuckuppery in music were broad and wide—as he put it after Nirvana broke big in 1991/1992,  “All in all, we sound like the Knack and the Bay City Rollers being molested by Black Flag and Black Sabbath.” The key there is that Kurt liked all four of the acts he mentioned, on some level—his fondness for ABBA, for instance, is well documented.

It comes as no surprise, then, that Kurt was enamored of putting together diverse mix tapes but, more to the point, unbelievably wacked-out sound collages that went way beyond anything as mundane as a mix tape. If mix tapes get off on juxtaposition, then sound collages are mix tapes on mescaline, with the juxtapositions colliding with each other every which way.
 

Photo: Krist Novoselić
 
Kurt assembled “Montage of Heck” around 1988 using a 4-track cassette recorder. It features sounds from Kurt’s wide-ranging collection of LPs, manipulated recordings of the radio, elements of Nirvana demos, and sounds created or recorded by Cobain. The list of artists that Kurt appropriated for “Montage of Heck,” reproduced at the end of this post, is fairly mind-blowing for a 21-year-old punker with (remember) no access to Napster, Spotify, Discogs, or Allmusic.com. In short, Kurt was the real deal—as if we didn’t already know.

Kurt actually made two versions of “Montage of Heck,” which are quite different, even though they share some audio material. There’s the short mono version, which clocks in at 8 minutes, and the long stereo version, which eats up about 36 minutes. For more technical information on the tracks, definitely check out this informative post over at United Mutilations.

True to Kurt’s insatiable appetite for music, “Montage of Heck” includes snippets (and more) from Frank Zappa, Shocking Blue, Queensrÿche, the Barbarians, William Shatner, and Daniel Johnston, alongside more tried and true classic rock acts like Simon & Garfunkel, the Beatles, the Velvet Underground, Led Zeppelin, Iron Butterfly, and Van Halen. But even there, while they’re popular acts, most punks weren’t talking about Cher, Sammy Davis Jr., or the Monkees in 1988.

Just click “play” and let the weirdness take you over......
 

 
After the jump, a fascinating list of the source material Kurt used in making “Montage of Heck”.....

READ ON
Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.31.2014
02:04 pm
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Classic album covers minus deceased band members


 
Over the weekend, when the sad news spread about the passing of Tommy Ramone, a really touching image circulated online, showing the Ramones debut LP, then the same cover with Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee Photoshopped out, and then, at last, Tommy removed as well. Dangerous Minds even shared it on our Facebook page.
 

 
The middle image, of Tommy standing alone in front of that iconic brick wall, seems to have come from a Tumblr called “Live! (I See Dead People),” which is devoted entirely to skillfully removing deceased musicians from their LP covers—sort of like “Garfield Minus Garfield,” but with a more serious intent. The subjects range from cult figures like Nick Drake to canonical rock stars like Nirvana and The Doors, and the results are often quite poignant. The blog hasn’t been updated in almost three years, so it seems unlikely the artists behind this project, Jean-Marie Delbes and Hatim El Hihi, will re-do that Ramones cover. Indeed, their Morrison Hotel still features Ray Manzarek, who passed on a little over a year ago.
 

New York Dolls, s/t
 

Ol Dirty Bastard, Return to the 36 Chambers
 

Nick Drake, Bryter Layter
 

The Who, Odds & Sods
 

Johnny Thunders, So Alone
 

George Harrison, All Things Must Pass
 

Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit
 

Jeff Buckley, Grace
 

The Doors, Morrison Hotel
 

John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Double Fantasy
 

The Clash, s/t
 

Elvis Presley, s/t
 

 
Hat-tip to Derf for this find.

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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07.15.2014
09:21 am
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‘No Slam Dancing’: Black Flag, Dead Kennedys and… Jon Stewart?


Henry Rollins and Greg Ginn during a Black Flag show
 
I’ve read an absolutely embarrassing amount of books on pop music for someone who’s never read Dostoyevsky, and over the years I’ve learned to make my recommendations with care. I’ve found out the hard way that not everyone is as interested in Ronnie Spector’s autobiography as I am (ingrates), and that it’s difficult to convince someone that you don’t have to be a metal fan to enjoy a book on the history of heavy metal. However, I’m completely serious when I say everyone will enjoy No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes: An Oral History of the Legendary City Gardens—it’s just that universal.

To give you some background, City Gardens was a music venue in the most unlikely of places, Trenton, New Jersey, a city that’s been on the rapid decline for decades. After the assassination of Martin Luther King, riots ravaged the downtown, and even the cops were looting (for welding masks and catcher’s helmets to protect their faces from flying debris). Insurance companies began to drop businesses’ claims, deindustrialization exacerbated unemployment, and suburban flight grew in droves—Trenton, NJ remains a pretty dismal place, economically.

However, where there is a void, there is also opportunity, and a giant warehouse in a rough part of town became the site of a musical oasis, all through the tireless efforts of a few committed fans and staff. The actual City Gardens building had been re-purposed many times before, from a grocery store to a car dealership, but when it was reopened as a disco in 1980, local DJ Randy Now approached the owner, hoping to find a venue receptive to his New Wave tastes. What began as a few weekly dance nights quickly paved the way to booking some of the best bands in underground music.
 

The Descendents in front of their perilous tour bus
 
Before you write off City Gardens as just another scummy punk venue, realize two things. First, the Trenton neighborhood it called home was volatile. While slam-dancing can certainly incur some injuries, to say City Gardens was merely “violent” is an understatement. It saw a lawsuit in 1981, not a year after it began booking bands, when a woman was brutally beaten with a pool cue in inside the venue. And this is to say nothing of the skinhead riot that occurred later. The late Dave Brockie, better knows as GWAR singer Oderus Orungus, said City Gardens was so bad, they’d never go there as fans. Second, when I say “some of the best bands in underground music,” I think City Gardens’ booking philosophy is best summed up in Mickey Ween’s forward when he said, “they did not cater to the audience.”

This was not just a punk or hard rock club. For every Black Flag and Danzig (who had their very first show there), there was a Bo Diddley, Sinead O’Connor, Lydia Lunch, Iggy Pop, DEVO, Bauhaus, The Ramones (who played numerous times), Ricky Nelson, The Violent Femmes, RIcky Nelson, or Toots and the Maytals! The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart was bartending during a Butthole Surfers set with a topless dancer and some careless DIY pyrotechnics! The Beastie Boys almost didn’t play and got their tires slashed, presumably for being late! Someone threatened to break down the dressing room door to stab Jello Biafra! The chaos and sheer wildness of City Gardens is what truly made it unique, and it even hosted all ages shows!
 

Al Jourgensen of Ministry
 
Co-Author Amy Yates Wuelfing pinpoints the preposterous success of it all:

City Gardens was in the middle of nowhere. Not Philly, not New York, but it was still a big club.  That fact that it was so close, and in the middle this dead zone, made the community of people who went there stronger and tighter. It was almost like college, you saw the same people all the time so they became your friends. That was the main thing for me. And unlike the clubs in Philly and New York, the pretentious element wasn’t really there.

What’s truly captivating about No Slam Dancing is the story-telling—it’s a complete oral history, meticulously collected from the memories and reflections of bands, employees, regulars, and all manner of City Gardens alumni. Over a hundred interviews were conducted to create an amazing compendium of anecdotes, and they don’t pull punches. Not everyone comes off well, and sometimes everything goes wrong, but the spirit of the moment is exciting and ambitious, and it’s all the more inspiring when you realize the entire fourteen year musical renaissance of Trenton, New Jersey was built from the ground up by Randy Now, the hobbyist DJ with a day job as a mailman. It’s an insane story, and I highly suggest you pick it up.

Below, Jon Stewart, Ian Mackaye and others talk about City Gardens in a trailer for Riot on the Dance Floor: The story of Randy Now and City Gardens.
 

Posted by Amber Frost
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04.09.2014
02:48 pm
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Nirvana nightmare: Apparently Kurt Cobain is alive and well selling beer in the Netherlands
03.25.2014
11:04 am
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Here’s a commercial for Bavaria Radler beer where it shows the likes of Kurt Cobain, Tupac Shakur, John Lennon, Bruce Lee, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis chilling on a tropical island drinking some cold brewskies.

I’m sure Mr. Cobain—who famously feared being a sell-out—would have just loved this concept. Doubtful that it’ll cause Yoko Ono to yuck it up much either. I smell a lawsuit!

Posted by Tara McGinley
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03.25.2014
11:04 am
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