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Terrifyingly life-like Tony Montana figure, cocaine and gun included
07:20 am


Action Figures

Tony Montana from Scarface, the War Version
Tony Montana “War” figure
As of this post, all collectable action figures currently in production should just throw themselves in the trash. It’s impossible to conceive of how their poorly articulated parts could possibly stand a chance against the above 1/6 scale figure of Tony Montana from Scarface. Tiny Tony comes armed to the teeth with guns and a suitcase full of drugs. Because when you fuck with tiny Tony Montana, you fuck with the best.
Tony Montana
Tony Montana “Respect” figure
As with the high-end Mr. Bean figure featured on DM a few weeks ago, the detail on these two different versions of Al Pacino’s seminal character is nothing short of microscopic. The serene look and all too realistic appearance on the face of the “Respect” figure (pre-pile of cocaine face plant, and mansion murder-spree), and the discoloration of the teeth in the “War” version (black suit, unhinged, brain full of cocaine), is just jaw-dropping. Since I always tell the truth (even when I lie), I have to admit that I actually find it rather troubling to see inanimate objects possessing such life-like qualities. Especially when said objects are modeled after one of cinema’s greatest anti-heroes. I’m sure Mr. Pacino himself would agree. Maybe not.
Tony Montana War figure face detail
Tony Montana War version with Colt CR-15
Just like the cinematic Tony, both figures come jacked-up with weapons, drugs and other accessories including the following: two bags of heroin, one package of vacuum sealed cocaine, a Beretta 81 (pictured below), two 40mm grenades, and one Colt CR-15 assault rifle (pictured above) complete with rocket launcher.
Tony Montana Respect figure with Beretta 81
More after the jump…

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High schoolers take teacher to his very first rock show—the Stones in ‘78: Here are his photos
07:07 am


The Rolling Stones

Photographer Joseph Szabo is not one of the bigger names in photography, but his work is nonetheless influential. His book Teenage is a collection of photos of students from Malverne High School in Long Island where he taught photography from 1972 to 1999. A beautiful record of 70s and 80s adolescence, Teenage captures students in class, at home and “at play,” sometimes in fairly sexual situations. The anthology contains an introduction by writer/director Cameron Crowe, and I’d say you can see some of Szabo’s eye in Crowe’s film Almost Famous.

The work you see here is actually from Szabo’s lesser known series, Rolling Stones Fans, a document of his first-ever rock concert. If Teenage seems like the sort of thing that would get a teacher in hot water today, know that Szabo got these pictures after students offered him a ticket (and themselves as subjects) in exchange for a ride. Szabo considers his work a collaboration, with the kids posing and mugging for the camera, so the “staged spontaneity” is a lively theme to his work.

This was from The Stones’ ‘78 tour, promoting Some Girls


Continues after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
World’s oldest bongs discovered in Russia
06:58 am



Archaeologists have uncovered 2,400-year-old golden bongs used by royalty to smoke cannabis and opium in Russia. The bongs were uncovered in a secret chamber covered with clay by construction workers during excavations to install power lines. The ancient paraphernalia was found alongside 7 lbs of other gold items—three gold cups, a heavy gold finger ring, two neck rings, and a gold bracelet.

Experts believe the bongs to be the oldest in existence—used by Scythians, an ancient Iranian nomadic people who dominated the Eurasian grasslands for almost 1,000 years, roughly 800 BC to 300 AD.
The haul of bongs and jewelry.
The bongs contained a thick black residue which on examination was found to be a mix of cannabis and opium. Cannabis played an important part in the Scythian religion—smoked as a way to induce a state of trance and help with divination. It is believed this potent mix was smoked by Scythian kings before leading their armies into battle. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus (484 BC-425 BC) wrote:

“The Scythians used a plant to produce smoke that no Grecian vapour-bath can surpass” and that “transported by the vapour, [they] shout aloud.”

Antonn Gass, of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, in Berlin, Germany, believes that the Scythians used both drugs is “beyond doubt.”

“It’s a once-in-a-century discovery, these are among the finest objects we know from the region.”

The ornate bongs also tell a story. One shows a bearded man killing young warrior—or perhaps a jealous husband slaying a rival lover or son; while, the other has mythological creatures on it, including griffons ripping apart a horse and a stag—the Scythians had seven gods in their religion and sacrificed animals to them.
Painting of the ‘Battle between the Scythians and the Slavs’ by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1881.
The Scythians were known as notoriously aggressive warriors, who “fought to live and lived to fight” and were said to drink “the blood of their enemies and used the scalps as napkins.” They practiced guerilla warfare and were famed as archers—using poison dips to conquer their enemies.

The haul of treasure was found in a kurgan (burial mound) in the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia, in 2013. Due to fear of looters raiding the site, the find was kept quiet. Now the bongs and jewelry have been cleaned up and are to be exhibited in a Russian museum.
Via Daily Express, Daily Mail, and ZME Science.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
ALF made a German hip-hop single: ‘ALF Will Be Our Chancellor’
06:50 am



I remember ALF’s stateside singing career, which consisted of four flexis released by Burger King during the “Many Faces of ALF” promotional campaign, and it still strikes me as a missed opportunity. Why did ALF condescend to sing in our popular Earth idioms while the field hollers and sea shanties of his native Melmac languished in his memory?

Recently discovered ALF’s recording career auf Deutsch, and it is of another order entirely.

The sitcom must have been really popular in Germany, since Tommi Piper, the actor who dubbed ALF’s voice in German, recorded two albums and four singles as the cat-eating alien between 1988 and 1991. (Did the German audience somehow tune into the series’ sordid behind-the-scenes milieu, an infamous sewer of total depravity, where the show’s creators wallowed in every abject and wretched vice cataloged in the pages of Hollywood Babylon? No, they could not have, because the previous sentence is in no way a correct or accurate description of Alien Productions, the TV show ALF, or any person or persons ever associated with either of those entities, to the best of my knowledge, at the present time.)

Following the singles “Frohfest,” “Tujujahe (Es Tut So Wohl, Schön Faul Zu Sein)” and “Hallo ALF, Hier Ist Rhonda” (b/w “ALF’s Geburtstag’s Boogie-Woogie”) came the one that strikes me as the most bizarre: a hip-hop number called “ALF Wird Unser Bundeskanzler,” which allegedly means “ALF Will Be Our Chancellor.”

It’s not just that the idea of a puppet from a sitcom running for chancellor of Germany is eerily reminiscent of that Black Mirror episode, or that the idea of a novelty rap record promoting ALF’s candidacy reminds me favorably of Alice Cooper’s “Elected,” though I like these aspects of “ALF Wird Unser Bundeskanzler” (as I understand it). You must actually listen to this thing. Especially if, like me, you speak no German, something about the massed voices chanting, the minor instrumental passages, and the humorless Schlager bass announcing “Ich bin ALF!” to the roar of cheering multitudes sounds maybe a little, ah, sinister? For a children’s record?

“ALF Wird Unser Bundeskanzler” came out in 1989. Again, I don’t have a clue what Tommi Piper is rhyming about, but if Billy Joel can act as if he helped bring down the Soviet Union, surely ALF can take some credit for tearing down the Berlin Wall?

Too bad they never made a music video, it would have been a fuckin’ classic…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
So Radiohead named itself after ... Ned Ryerson from ‘Groundhog Day’? The truth revealed!

It’s common knowledge that Radiohead got its name from a song written by David Byrne called “Radio Head” that appears in the movie True Stories. What’s less well known is that Byrne wrote that song about Stephen Tobolowsky, a familiar character actor and raconteur whose signature role is Ned Ryerson in the classic 1993 movie Groundhog Day.

This remarkable happenstance was revealed on Tobolowsky’s recent appearance on the Nerdist podcast hosted by Chris Hardwick. The story is told around the 40-45 minute stretch of that episode.

So what’s going on? Let’s start with the premise that Stephen Tobolowsky claims to be more than a little bit psychic. Add to it the fact that Tobolowsky is credited as one of the co-writers of True Stories, along with the playwright Beth Henley. So if nothing else, Tobolowsky and Byrne were hanging out a bit during the mid-1980s, while they toiled on this movie. (In the Nerdist interview, by the way, Tobolowsky says that Byrne threw out most of Tobolowsky’s contributions as a writer.)

In his college years, Tobolowsky more or less stumbled on psychic powers of considerable potency, if the stories he tells are to be believed at all. As he puts it, he developed the ability to “hear” or “read” people’s “tones,” that is, to intuit a whole lot of private and even situational information about a person just by being in the same room with him or her. One story involves blurting out that a quasi-mentor of his was living under an assumed name and that his initials were actually “M.L.” or “M.K.” (they were “M.K.,” in the event). He tells a couple more stories of that level of mind-boggling ability—stories that, if true, would cause quite a few skeptics to give up the argument entirely. Tobolowsky continues:

So my girlfriend Beth at the time thought, “We have a real money-making thing here! ... You know, we’ll have people pay a quarter or a dollar and have you read their tones.” She would round up people, bring ‘em in to the green room or whatever, and you would think it would be funny, but I would go, like, “Ah, you just got an inheritance and you want to know how you’re going to spend that money,” and they would get up and cry, and everyone would have these creepy, creepy, creepy feelings.

Beth loved me for it, and she thought, “This is so cool, what are my tones?” and I said, “I gotta quit doing this, because this is way creepy, and I don’t really like it.” So—while that nineteen furious days that we were working on True Stories, Beth says, “Tell David. Because David wants to put all these true stories in his movie, Stephen. Tell him the true story about you hearing tones.” And I said, “No, baby, no, I don’t want—” “No, tell him the story about you hearing tones.”

So I sat and told David the story of me hearing tones. And he looked and says, “You’re kidding!” And I said, “No, David, that’s really the story but I don’t do it anymore, I don’t like to do it anymore, it was too creepy, and I don’t like to do it anymore.”

So anyway—sure enough, a year later, David has written into True Stories a character that hears tones, and he wrote the song, that day he came over and played “Wild Wild Life,” he says, “Here is a song that I wrote for you, Stephen.” And we put it in the thing, and it was “Radio Head.”

[Hardwick gasps.]

“I’m pickin’ up somethin’ good…. Radio Head….”

So Radiohead got their name from the song David Byrne wrote based on my psychic experiences when I was in college!

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
It is what it is: Head-spinning supercut of ‘The Wire’
12:01 pm


The Wire

In The Wire, you know, the writer is the writer, and the script is the script, and the text on the page is what it is. You say “Action!” whenever you say “Action!” and the actors’ll say whatever they’re going to say.

Look: HBO is HBO, you know? The Wire is The Wire, and you’re going to watch whatever you watch.

This video is the video:

via Slate

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The wild wild world of Japanese rebel biker culture
11:50 am

Pop Culture


Former bosozuku leader, Kazuhiro Hazuki

“I was interested in them because they were punks and they were against society.”—Kazuhiro Hazuki, Narushino Specter gang

Back in the 1970s the term bōsōzoku (or “speed tribes”) was first used to describe Japanese biker gangs that routinely fought in the streets with rival gangs and the police. Often dressed like Kamikaze pilots, the bōsōzoku wreaked havoc speeding through the streets on their illegally modified bikes, blowing through red lights, and smashing the car windows of any motorist that dared defy them with baseball bats. Foreigners were an especially favorite target of the bōsōzoku’s aggression.
Bosozuku photo from a Japanese biker magazine with modified bike and helmet
Bōsōzoku biker with illegally modified bike and helmet (taken from a Japanese biker magazine)
Bosozuku bikers, 1970's
Bōsōzoku bikers, 1970’s
Bosozuku biker with his bike and bat, 1980's
Bōsōzoku biker, 1980’s
Bosozuku biker with bike and bat
The earliest incarnation of the bōsōzoku, the kaminari zoku, appeared in the 1950’s. Not unlike their idols from the films, The Wild Ones or Rebel Without a Cause, the group was formed by the youthful and disenchanted members of Japan’s proletariat, and the gang provided a place for the emerging delinquents to call their own. A fiercely disciplined and rebellious group, the bōsōzoku once boasted more than 40,000 members. By 2003 the bōsōzoku’s numbers had dwindled to just over 7000. According to first-hand accounts from former senior members, the modern version of the bōsōzoku (known as Kyushakai) no longer embody the rebel spirit of their predecessors. In fact, some have returned to homaging their rockabilly idols by donning elaborate Riizentos, a style of pompadour synonymous with disobedience. These days many ex-bōsōzoku parade around on their bikes in non-disruptive groups and enjoy dancing, performing music and socializing in groups in Harajuku, an area well known for its outrageous fashion.
Harajuku Black Shadow dancers (ex-bosozuku), 2008
Harajuku Black Shadow dancers (ex-bōsōzoku), hanging out in Harajuku, 2008
Ex-Bosozuku hanging out in Harajuku, 2008
Many factors are to blame for the demise of the traditional bosozuku. A former leader of from the Narushino Specter gang in the 90s (and one time Yakuza loan shark), Kazuhiro Hazuki recalls that the police were once content to allow the bōsōzoku to run riot and no matter how many times they were arrested, a gang member never had their license revoked. Over the years, revised traffic laws have led to a rise in the arrest and prosecution of the bōsōzoku. Some also point to the inclusion of women as bōsōzoku riders, now a common sight in Japan, and a less than robust economy (many bōsōzoku bikes can cost as much as ten grand) for the drastic reduction in the gang’s numbers.
Modern day Bosozuku
Modern-day bōsōzoku
Bosozuku biker girl
Modern Kyushakai bikers
Modern Kyushakai bikers
If this post has piqued your interest of vintage Japanese biker culture, there are several documentaries and films based on the bōsōzoku and other speed tribes in Japan, such as 1976’s God Speed You! Black Emperor, 2012’s Sayonara Speed Tribes, a short documentary that features historical perspective from the aforementioned Kazuhiro Hazuki, or the series of films from director Teruo Ishii based on the bōsōzoku that began in 1975 with, Detonation! Violent Riders. If you are a fan of Japanese anime, the story told in the cult film Akira deeply parallels the real world of the bōsōzoku in their heyday. Many images of the bōsōzoku of the past and their mind-boggling motorcycles follow.
Bosozuku biker, early 1970's
Bōsōzoku biker, early 1970’s
More after the jump…

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Nick Cave, Mark E. Smith and Shane MacGowan arguing in a pub
09:06 am


Nick Cave
Mark E. Smith
Shane MacGowan

Years ago, I read the transcript of this NME “summit” on some Fall obsessive’s fansite: it’s Nick Cave, Shane MacGowan and Mark E. Smith arguing in a pub in 1988 (published in 1989). I searched for it the other day and found that the Quietus reprinted this latter-day symposium in 2012.

If you like Mark E. Smith at his most truculent, you’re going to love this conversation. Cave is laconic (hates journalists), MacGowan is affable (loves drink), and MES is as voluble and contentious as ever. He complains that Fad Gadget (a/k/a Frank Tovey) “was doing incense and headstands” before a show, that the only good Bob Dylan album he’s heard is The Traveling Wilburys Volume 1, and that Morrissey is an Irish person. As always, there are splenetic outbursts concerning the many things Mark E. Smith doesn’t need to be told about, pal:

There’s nothing new in Acid House for me, pal. I’ve been using that process for years. Bloody years. It might be new for you but don’t assume it’s new for anyone else, because you’re fucking wrong, pal.

We had jazz arrangements in ‘82 when the rest of those tossers were playing cocktail lounge music and fucking pseudo new wave, so don’t talk to me about it because I know what I’m talking about pal.

Don’t tell me about oppression, my parents and grandparents were exploited to the hilt. Sent to wars, they had gangrene in their teeth.

But this is Smith dancing like a prizefighter. Just wait until MacGowan (whom MES addresses as “Sean”) calls Nietzsche “a fascist maniac posing as a philosopher.” Friend, do you hear that bell? That’s Mark E. Smith, and school is back in session:

MES: If we’re gonna talk philosophy, that’s a load of crap! The Nazis adopted his creed and distorted it, they misquoted him all the time.

SM: The Will To Power. Try reinterpreting that statement. You can’t, it says what it says.

MES: He wasn’t a Nazi – you’re only saying that ‘cos some polytechnic fuckin’ lecturer told you he was.

SM: I’m saying it ‘cos I read two of his books where he dismissed the weak, the ugly, the radically [racially?] impure, Christianity, Socrates, Plato. He was anti anyone who hadn’t got a strong body, perfect features…

MES: That’s the coffee table analysis. He was the most anti-German, pro-Semitic person…

SM: His books were full of hate.

MES: You just said you’re full of hate when you go on stage.

SM: I don’t go round saying Socrates was a c***, Jesus Christ was an idiot, do l?

MES: Jesus Christ was the biggest blight on the human race, he was. And all them socialists and communists – second rate Christianity. It’s alright for you Catholics. I was brought up with Irish Catholics. Some of my best friends are Irish Catholics.

SM: Listen to him.

MES: Hitler was a Catholic vegetarian, non-smoker, non-drinker. The way you’re talking about Nietzsche is that anyone who’s a non-smoker, non-drinker is a Nazi. That’s the level of your debate, pal. You don’t know fuck all about Nietzsche, pal!

In the Cave biography Bad Seed, an eyewitness to the summit reports that while Cave (who had just spent seven weeks in rehab) was clean and sober, MacGowan had “done some Ecstasy and had drunk a bottle of whisky on the way down.” MacGowan picks up the story:

I was out of my brains, Cave was dead straight, drinking tea, and Mark E. Smith was pissed on bitter and very belligerent. It must have been really difficult for Nick but I wasn’t in that position, you know what I mean. We were ranting and raving and Nick was very quiet that day. I was amazed how together he was, considering. At the time I was really pissed off with touring and I was going on about that in the interview, and he said, “Well, why don’t you just stop?” and I couldn’t think of a good reason because I was on the treadmill and you can’t get off it. Nick turned out to have a savage wit. He’s an intense person. It was a great interview, two soul brothers and Mark E. Smith. Cave was winding both of us up, he basically instigated the fight between me and Mark Smith. He was shit-stirring, seeing how far it was going to go. Mark E. Smith was saying things to me I couldn’t let him get away with, stuff about Ireland and the British Army. [Reporter] Sean O’Hagan went loony as well, he’s from Armagh, a Catholic. Nick was enjoying it as it got more and more intense and the reporters joined in and I started going barmy.

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
The dopey paintings of Sylvester Stallone
08:09 am


Sylvester Stallone

“Finding Rocky”
You’ve only got two more days to do it, but if you’re reading this in Nice, France, and would like to see paintings by the muscular star of Rhinestone, Over the Top, and Stop! or My Mom Will Shoot, then hurry on over to the Galerie Contemporaine du Musée de Nice, which is currently mounting an exhibition of Stallone’s work called “Real Love: Paintings 1975-2015.” The show has been on since May 15 and ends May 30.

Look, I think Stallone gets a bad rap for being a dumb guy, he’s clearly a formidable fellow and more intelligent than it might at first appear. One of the things he’s gotten flak for in Hollywood is his apparent need to mess with the scripts of his movies (check out his voluminous screenwriting credits). That may make him an egomaniac or worse, but the criticism that he wants to write all of his movies isn’t consistent with his occasional depiction as an idiot.

I’m no art critic and I have little way of differentiating good art from bad. But… let’s see—subjects including boxing gloves, Rocky, Joan Crawford, some of it in a loosely abstract expressionist style and other parts vaguely conceptual (one of his paintings, “Backlash,” is half-painting, half-mirror)... I submit that if I told you that Stallone was a painter, this is exactly the type of stuff you’d expect out of him. He’s no better or no worse than Ronnie Wood, which is not necessarily a compliment.

“Behind the Mind”

“The Arena”

“Untitled (Michael Jackson)”
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Rihanna farts in bathtub
07:53 am



Musicless music videos can sometimes reveal an unexpectedly amusing moment of bathos—like this clip of Rihanna apparently accompanying herself in the bathtub to the song “Stay.”

Of course we all fart and that’s why farting is funny—it levels, usurps vanity and pretension, and is comic—and has always been so. Fart jokes are pebbledashed throughout ancient literature and history—from plays by Aristophanes to the Roman Emperor Elagabalus, who kept a pig’s bladder he used as a whoopee cushion to prick any pomposity at the dinner table. In more recent history, Benjamin Franklin penned a letter to the Royal Academy of Brussels, or “the Royal Academy of Farting,” in which he poked fun at the pretensions of European academies and their increasing obsession with the impractical, and extolled them to fart boldly and proud.

‘Nuff of the history, here’s Rihanna…

Via Nerdcore

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
THOUSANDS of pot plants ‘accidentally’ planted on city center flowerbeds
07:29 am



The streets of the Kazakhstan capital Astana City may not be paved with gold, but their flowerbeds are planted with marijuana.

On Auezov Street, the city’s main thoroughfare, the smell of cannabis plants alerted authorities to “thousands” of marijuana plants flourishing at the side of the road. Local resident Mihail Malorod was one of the first who noticed the plants.

‘I was walking down the street when I saw these cute plants at the junction of Auezova Street and Dzhangeldina Street,’ he said.

‘What a nice little flowerbed, I thought.’

But not everyone is happy about weed growing on the city’s highways.

The city council has launched an investigation into who planted the cannabis? Was it an accident? Or an act of “guerilla gardening”?
For years, Kazakhstan’s government has been “working in vain” to destroy crops of cannabis that grow wild across the country.

Kazakhstan’s Chu Valley is twice the size of France and is riddled with cannabis plants. However, although consumption and dealing marijuana is illegal, the ready availability of the plant makes it impossible to police effectively.

To counter the problem, last year politician Dariga Nazarbayeva suggested turning over swathes of cannabis covered land to pharmaceutical companies to cultivate for profit.

Or, perhaps why not use this freely available plant as a lure for weed aficionados to holiday in the country?

Meantime, the gardening company hired by the council to plant flowers have started their own internal investigation into what happened claiming they will “weed out” all the cannabis plants.

In 2003, writer/presenter Simon Reeve discovered how easily marijuana grows in Kazakhstan when he traveled across the country for his TV series Meet the Stans.

H/T the Metro

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Ash from ‘Evil Dead’ fights Marvel Zombies in this ultimate mashup fan film
06:24 am


Marvel Comics
Evil Dead

Ash uses a repulser beam on superhero zombies.

Slash/Up is a fan-film web-series specializing in unlikely mashup “what if” shorts like Sarah Connor vs. Jason Voorhees.

According to, Slash/Up are “currently hard at work on Ash vs. the DC Dead, which they say ‘is basically a gigantic middle finger to the house of mouse.’”

Ash vs. the DC Dead is a sequel to this short, Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness, which had previously been removed from YouTube.

Well, for now, it’s back up—so check this out while you can! It’s an extremely well made fan-film, shot for “the cost of a Macbook Pro.”

Zombie Iron Man and Zombie Spider-man.
Quick, before the angry YouTube gods pull it down again!


Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
It’s safe to assume that the kid who took this lunchbox to school got beat up every day

On December 23rd, 1975, Gerald Ford signed the reasonable Metric Conversion Act into law, stating, “the truth is that our continued use of the English system of measurement was making us an island in a metric sea.”

School curriculums were altered to teach the metric system, despite the fact that converting was overwhelmingly unpopular with Americans, who were used to doing things the ‘murican way—not no pansy, pussy-ass European way.

In 1982, progressive agent of change, President Ronald Wilson Reagan officially disbanded the U.S. Metric Board—the government organization charged with “increasing the use” of the metric system in the United States. Reagan did so citing efforts to “reduce government spending,” but really it was because America, fuck yeah.

In 1976 King-Seeley Thermos Company released what has to have been the worst-selling lunchbox of all time:

The Exciting World of Metrics lunchbox!
It’s safe to assume that whatever kid was unfortunate enough to have been sent off to school with this box in tow, was beaten mercilessly within centimeters of his life.

Luckily, ‘70s lunchboxes were made out of HARD metal with a swingable handle, so at least the kid had a fighting chance!





Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Win oceans of mind-blowing live Yes at their peak in 1972, courtesy of Rhino
12:02 pm




In late 1972 Yes was on fire. Close to the Edge, arguably their greatest album, had come out in September, and their previous two efforts were the groundbreaking Fragile and The Yes Album. If ever there was a moment you wanted to see that band live, it was right then.

Fortunately, Yes supported Close to the Edge with ambitious live shows, as audiences around the world packed arenas to see the legendary group perform their unbeatable harmonies. This was the tour captured on Yes’ first live album, Yessongs, a triple LP that came out in 1973 and sold over a million copies (Roger Dean’s trippy and iconic artwork in particular blew many minds).

Credit: Roger Dean
If you just can’t get enough vintage Yes at their artistic pinnacle, then you’re going to love Progeny: Highlights from Seventy-Two and Progeny: Seven Shows from Seventy-Two, two new releases from Rhino featuring recently discovered recordings of seven complete concerts from the weeks leading up to the shows heard on Yessongs. The latest audio technology was used to restore the reel-to-reel recordings and bring out incredible sonic detail, creating an open, immediate sound that drops listeners right into the front row.

Progeny: Seven Shows from Seventy-Two is fourteen whopping discs that contain every note from all seven shows recorded between October 31 and November 20 of 1972, in locales like Canada, Tennessee, and North Carolina. This comprehensive set comes in a cigarette-style flip top box with stunning new artwork by Roger Dean. Recorded three months into the tour, these powerful performances attest to how quickly the new lineup gelled musically as they navigate hits like “Roundabout” as well as complex pieces like “And You and I.” Even though the setlist didn’t vary much from night to night, the individual performances are strikingly different.

This was Yes’ first tour with drummer Alan White, who’s been with the band ever since. He replaced Bill Bruford, who recorded Close To The Edge before leaving to join King Crimson. White only had three days to learn the band’s live show before his first night on stage with Jon Anderson (vocals), Steve Howe (guitar), Chris Squire (bass) and Rick Wakeman (keyboards). 

If seven full concerts is too much music for you, fear not! There’s also Progeny: Highlights from Seventy-Two, a more modest set that features highlights from the same seven shows. With seven outstanding concerts to choose from, rest assured that you will hear top-notch renditions of Yes classics like “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Heart Of The Sunrise.”

Below, a live “Close to the Edge” from 1972:



Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
A young Jim Jarmusch reports on Cleveland’s foremost post-punk heroes, Pere Ubu, 1977
10:10 am


Jim Jarmusch
Pere Ubu

In the early 1970s, Akron native Jim Jarmusch, born in 1953, transferred from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University to Columbia University, receiving his diploma in 1975. He took full advantage of the opportunitis Columbia afforded him, editing The Columbia Review and moving to Paris for a stretch, which is where his lifelong love of film was born. After his return to NYC, Jarmusch enrolled in NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and also hung out at CBGB’s a lot.

At some point he had the bright idea to return to the big midwestern metropolis from his home state of Ohio—that is, Cleveland—and report on some of the major rock doings going down in that city. In the 7th issue of N.Y. Rocker, which came out in the spring of 1977 (May-June), there appears a lengthy interview with Pere Ubu’s resident genius David Thomas with the byline “Jim Jarmusch.” As I read through it, it took an effort of will not to call to mind the wintry, winsome, and downtrodden feel of the Cleveland section of Jarmusch’s 1984 breakthrough (I would also say masterpiece) Stranger Than Paradise.

I’m currently a resident of Cleveland, having moved here from NYC (reverse trajectory to Jarmusch’s, hmmm) in 2013. I put on Pere Ubu’s 1978 12-inch Datapanik in the Year Zero, which I purchased in Cleveland last year, before writing this post. I’ve met people in the current incarnation of Pere Ubu and visited the Agora, where Ubu played in December 1976, but much more to the point, Jarmusch’s interview with Thomas resonates in a far more general way with me, now that I live here (and like it). On the second page of the interview is a blurry, wintry snapshot of Cleveland’s most prominent building, the Terminal Tower, with a raised drawbridge in the foreground, and you know, that picture now has a homey familiarity for me.

One portion of the interview was conducted at Tommy’s Restaurant on Coventry Road, and that restaurant is still there and thriving. The first part of the interview was conducted at the Pirate’s Cove in the Flats district of Cleveland, which is no more; Cobra Verde frontman and Cleveland Plain Dealer writer John Petkovic described it as a venue that “will go down in Cleveland rock lore as the host of shows by the Dead Boys, DEVO and Pere Ubu—back when the Flats was a rough-and-tumble working-class drinking spot.”

In the interview, Jarmusch and Thomas (winkingly identified as “Crocus Behemoth” throughout) discuss the finer points of Laverne and Shirley, the appeal of Nero Wolfe and Raymond Chandler, and the “repulsive” nature of poetry. At one point Thomas/“Behemoth” appears to set up Pere Ubu as a kind of Beach Boys for the industrial midwest:

A lot of our songs are about driving. Like “Street Waves” is like, you know, in California they got the surf, and in Cleveland, in the summer, if you work real hard at it, there’s a surf that comes down the streets. And if you work real hard, you can ride that surf. And in Cleveland, that’s real bizarre. You get out on West 25th and Detroit and ride the surf and its real good. Really good. That’s our big summertime thing—you get out there in a car with a radio in it, “a car that can get me around,” and you know, we dress in our swimming trunks and just surf down the streets…...


We’re not innocent, like the Beach Boys are innocent, cuz nobody can be innocent anymore. But we know what innocence is, and we know we have to try to get back there, even if it is tinged with reality.

In the third and final part of the interview, Jarmusch and Thomas are cruising around the city in a 1966 Dodge Dart. They have the AM radio station CKLW on, which is cycling through some recent hits, to which Thomas reacts. When Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s the Night” comes on, it spurs Thomas to a mini-manifesto of sorts:

This is one of my big faves, too. I like all kinds of shit. I think ABBA’s real superb. I like all kinds of crap. Like, I consider Pere Ubu to be a pop band. Like, we don’t really do long songs. Pop is an art—to do something really new with pop is an art.

Read the original article after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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