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A Rolling Stone’s trippy ‘Last Supper’: That time Brian Jones thought he was a goat and ate himself

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In 1968 the artist Brion Gysin invited Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones to record a group of traditional Jbala Sufi trance musicians—better known as the Master Musicians—perform at the village of Jajouka in northern Morocco.

Gysin had long been familiar with the Master Musicians having been introduced to them and “Joujouka” music by writer Paul Bowles in 1950. Gysin thought the music of “the people of Pan” would be of some interest to Jones. Jones agreed. He traveled with Gysin to Jajouka, accompanied by his then girlfriend Suki Potier, recording engineer George Chkiantz, and painter/folklorist Mohamed Hamri.

Morocco was a favorite holiday destination for the Rolling Stones as it offered easy access to marijuana. Keith Richards later described the experience as a fantasy where they were “transported” and…

You could be Sinbad the Sailor, One Thousand and One Nights.

Jones used a Uher recorder to capture the songs performed by the Master Musicians. These recordings included songs for Jajouka’s “most important religious holiday festival, Aid el Kbir” when a young boy is dressed as Bou Jeloud the Goat God in the “skin of a freshly slaughtered goat.” The boy then runs around the village as the music becomes increasingly frenzied. Gysin claimed this was a ritual to protect the villagers’ health. He said the festival harked back to an ancient pre-Roman festival Lupercalia, held in mid-February as a cleansing and fertility ritual to ward off evil spirits.
 
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As Gysin later told Stanley Booth (and a very drunk William Burroughs) in a rambling tale in 1970—as recounted Booth’s book The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones—Jones and his companions were guests at traditional meal in the village, when Jones had an epiphanic vision—or more likely he tripped out—and believed himself to be a goat.

‘I would really like to talk about Joujouka and what that music is and what Brian got on tape and how it ever happened that he got there. How does he [Jones] appear in your book?’

‘Brian? As—well—sort of—as a little goat god, I suppose.’

‘I have a funny tale which I’ll tell you about just that. A very funny thing happened up there. The setting was extremely theatrical in that we were sitting under a porch of a house made of wattles and mud. Very comfortable place, cushions were laid around like a little theatre, like the box of an old-fashioned theatre, and a performance was going on in the courtyard. And at one moment—dinner obviously had to be somewhere in the offing, like about an hour away, everybody was beginning to think about food—and we had these acetylene lamps, giving a great very theatrical glow to the whole scene, rather like limelight used to be, a greenish sort of tone.’

[Okay Brion we get the picture it was very very very very very very theatrical…now get on with the story….]

‘And the most beautiful goat that anybody had ever seen—pure white!—was suddenly led right across the scene, between Brian and Suki and Hamri and me [...] so quickly that for a moment hardly anybody realized at all what was happening, until Brian leapt to his feet, and he said, “That’s me!” and was pulled down and sort of subsided, and the music went on, and it went on for a few minutes like that, and moments lengthened into an hour, or two hours, which can sometimes be three hours or four hours or five hours—-’

‘Long as it takes to kill a goat,’ Burroughs said.

‘—and we were absolutely ravenous, when Brian realized he was eating the same white goat.’

‘How did he take that?’

‘He said, “It’s like Communion.”’

‘“This is my body,’” I [Booth] said. ‘But Jesus didn’t eat himself, he fed the others.’

‘If he’d been sensible, he’d have eaten Judas,’ Burroughs said. ‘I’m gonna eat Graham Greene next time I see him. Gulp!’

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Meet The Liverbirds: The all-girl Beatles who once toured with the Kinks and Rolling Stones

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“Girls with guitars? That won’t work,” quipped John Lennon as he watched four girls take the stage of the Cavern Club, Liverpool in 1963. The band was The Liverbirds and Lennon’s attitude was the kind of dumb prejudice these four faced every time they picked up their guitars and blasted an audience with their hard rockin’  R’n'B.

The Liverbirds were formed in Liverpool 1963. The original line-up was Valerie Gell (guitar), Mary McGlory (bass), Sylvia Saunders (drums), together with Mary’s sister, Sheila McGlory (guitar) and Irene Green (vocals). The band’s name was lifted from the liver bird—the mythical bird (most probably a cormorant) that symbolises the city of Liverpool and they were all girls (“birds” in the youthful parlance of the time). The group practiced every day until they were better than most of the local boy bands who were merely copycatting local heroes The Beatles.

The Liverbirds were apparently so good (if a bit rough around the edges) they were snapped up to tour with The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Rockin’ Berries. However, it was soon apparent that the girls—unlike the boys—were were being cheated out of a big part of their fees by booking agents—a crushing disappointment that led to the loss of their lead singer and guitarist to other bands.
 
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It was beginning to look as if Lennon was right, but the girls refused to give up and continued touring with The Kinks. Unlike their northern counterparts, London’s all male bands The Kinks and The Stones were supportive of The Liverbirds—as Mary McGlory recalled in a letter to the Liverpool Beat in 2014:

The Kinks took us down to London to meet their manager, even booked us into a hotel, and told us to come to the studio tomorrow and bring our guitars with us (maybe there might be time to play a song for their manager). When we arrived there, the roadie came in and told The Kinks that their guitars had been stolen out of the van – so this was how The Kinks played our guitars on their hit recording of “You really got me“.

This isn’t exactly how it happened as the legendary Dave Davies of The Kinks points out regarding Mary’s claim over the stolen instruments:

Absolute nonsense- they were a cool band but this DID not happen.

On YRGM I use my Harmony meteor thru the elpico green amp and ray used his tele and pete used his blue fender bass…what a load of bollocks.

However, The Kinks did help save The Liverbirds from splitting-up by suggesting they bring Pamela Birch in as vocalist. Birch was a big blonde bee-hived singer/guitarist. She had a deep bluesy voice which harmonized beautifully with Valeri Gell’s vocals. Birch was a perfect fit for the band.

They were a hit at the Cavern Club. They were a hit across the country. They were a hit on tour. But the band hailed as the all-girl Beatles at the height of Beatlemania couldn’t even get a record deal in England. However, things soon started to shift.
 
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First Kinks’ manager Larry Page and then Beatles manager Brian Epstein wanted to sign The Liverbirds. But the girls were off to Hamburg to play the Star Club. The band was an instant hit in Germany as Mary McGlory recalls:

We arrived in Hamburg on the 28th May, 1964 and played the same night. The crowd was great and loved us right away. The Star-Club owner Manfred Weissleder became our one and only MANAGER.

A few days later he sent us to Berlin to play at a big concert with Chuck Berry, shortly before we went on stage we were told that it was forbidden to play any Chuck Berry songs. Well that was impossible for us, so when Val went to the mike and announced “Roll over Beethoven”, Berry’s manager ran on stage and tried to stop us playing, Val pushed him away and told him to “F. Off”.(She had probably had a shandy). Back in Hamburg, Manfred called us to his office, we thought he was going to tell us off, but no such thing, Chuck Berry’s manager wanted to take us to America. Manfred said he would leave the decision up to us, but then he added – he will probably take you to Las Vegas, and there you will have to play topless! Well of course that was his way of putting us off. After all, the club was still crowded every night.

The band had hits with the songs “Peanut Butter,” “Too Much Monkey Business,” “Loop-de-Loop,” and “Diddley Daddy.” Although in performance they played the very same Willie Dixon and Chuck Berry covers favored by the Stones and other boys, Birch also started writing original numbers, producing such favorites as “Why Do You Hang Around Me?” and “It’s Got To be You.” Though pioneering and incredibly popular, the girls (now in their late teens-early twenties) still faced the everyday sexism from record industry supremos who thought young girls should be on the scene, but not heard. Not unless they were in the audience screaming. These men wanted girls who dressed to please—not girls who played instruments better than the boys. Girls with guitars? That won’t work. Except for that, of course, it did. Splendidly!
 
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In 1968, on the cusp of a Japanese tour the band split:

Until 1967, we played nearly all over Europe, recorded two albums and four singles for the Star-Club label and appeared on many television shows. Our drummer Sylvia married her boyfriend John Wiggins from The Bobby Patrick Big Six and left the band. Shortly after Val married her German boyfriend Stephan, who had a car accident on his way to visit her and was since paralyzed. So when we got an offer from Yamaha to do a tour of Japan at the beginning of 1968, Pam and I had to find two German girls to replace them. Japan was great, and the Japanese people really liked us, but Pam and I did not enjoy it anymore, we missed the other two, the fun had gone out of it. We thought this is the right time to finish, even though we were still only 22 and 23.

Today McGlory, Gell and Saunders continue with their post-Liverbirds lives. Sadly, Pamela Birch died in 2009. However, this all-girl guitar band should be given credit for pioneering rock and roll, R ‘n’ B and being right up there for a time with The Beatles, The Kinks and The Rolling Stones.
 

The Liverbirds perform on ‘Beat Club’ 1965.

More from the female Fab Four after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Incredible auction featuring handwritten Bowie lyrics, Dylan paintings, signed Stones posters, more

 

Brixton Pound, A3 print of B£10 “David Bowie” note
Estimate: $1,000-$1,500

 
The Paddle8 auction website has an incredible auction right now featuring a huge amount of remarkable memorabilia from the greatest musical acts of the 20th century, including David Bowie, the Beatles, the Stones, Bob Dylan, and the Notorious B.I.G., just to name a few.

Unfortunately, the auction, going by the title “Legendary,” ends at 1 p.m. today Eastern time, right around when this post is set to appear live on our website. Presumably DM readers are more interested in viewing the auctions than they are in actually buying the (very expensive) stuff.
 

David Bowie, “Fashions” Mobile Display
Estimate: $400-$600

 
Some of the bigger-ticket items include signed items from the Beatles and the Stones, original handwritten lyric sheets from Bob Dylan and David Bowie, original painted canvases by Bob Dylan, rejected cover art for David Bowie’s album Station to Station, and a jacket worn by the Notorious B.I.G. The auction casts a wide net, including items from the Clash, the Cramps, the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix,
Motörhead, the Sex Pistols, the Slits, X-Ray Spex, and Led Zeppelin.

As always, the details of the items only increases one’s interest in them. The paintings by Dylan are known as the “Drawn Blank Series,” watercolors and gouaches depicting “hotel room and apartment interiors, land- and cityscapes, views of sidewalk cafes, train tracks, and wandering rivers.” Dylan’s handwritten lyric sheet for “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” actually dates from 2013, with “the 31 lines written out by Bob Dylan in black ink on a page of Holmenkollen Park Hotel Rica, Oslo stationary.” The full-color proof of the Station to Station album art was rejected by Bowie because he “felt that the sky looked artificial.”

Biggie’s jacket “features an embroidered logo reading ‘Flip Squad’ on its front and an applique ‘Funkmaster Flex’ logo on its back,” while the large Decca poster of the Stones was signed by Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, and Charlie Watts on Monday, October 19, 1964 “at the Locomotive nightclub in Paris during a press event in advance of their concert at the Olympia theatre the following day.”

Excuse me, I have to see my bank representative about a loan…..

Here are some images of the items to be auctioned; click on any image for a larger view.
 

The Beatles, Autographed “Meet The Beatles” Album
Estimate: $100,000-$150,000

 
More incredible items to be auctioned after the jump…..
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The controversial (and lampooned) bondage-themed billboard for The Rolling Stones’ ‘Black and Blue’

The bondage-themed print ad for The Rolling Stones record, Black and Blue, 1976
The magazine version of the controversial advertising campaign for Black and Blue from 1976

In 1976, the Rolling Stones released Black and Blue, their first record with new guitarist, Ronnie Wood. To help promote the record, a billboard was erected over the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. The boundary pushing advertisement featured a racy image of model Anita Russell (who Mick Jagger originally considered “too pretty” for the part).
 
The billboard hanging above Sunset Strip, 1976
The billboard on the Sunset Strip, 1976

Jagger took one for the team and tied Russell up himself for the bondage-themed photo shoot. In the 14 x 48 foot billboard that hung above one of the busiest thoroughfares in Hollywood, Russell is tightly bound, her clothing ripped and the inside of her legs are bruised, as she sits spread eagled on top of the gatefold cover of Black and Blue with the caption:

I’m “Black and Blue” from The Rolling Stones—and I love it!

For some weird reason nobody in the Stones PR camp thought that the billboard would bother anyone, much less send the message that female fans of the Rolling Stones like to be physically abused. Of course the outcry to remove the billboard, especially from feminists who defaced the billboard with red paint, was immediate and it quickly disappeared.

But the news about the controversial photo and message had already garnered the band worldwide press coverage, and Black and Blue (a record infamous rock journalist Lester Bangs called “the first meaningless Rolling Stones album”—he was right) eventually went platinum in the U.S.
 
Mick Jagger and Anita Russell in a promo for Black and Blue from National Lampoon, 1976
The tables turn on Mick in this spoof that ran in National Lampoon’s “Compulsory Summer Sex Issue” in August of 1976

And because now I’ve got Black and Blue on the brain, here’s the band (with Billy Preston) looking like absolute plonkers in the “Hey Negrita” video.
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Mick Jagger goes to the beach in astro-pervert hot pants, 1973

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
The Stones & Alice Cooper add zest to vintage documentary on Canadian music scene from 1973

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During the opening sequence of this documentary on the Canadian music industry from 1973, The Rolling Stones rip through “Jumping Jack Flash” as the crowd at the Montreal Forum go wild. Mick Jagger struts across the stage, before dousing the audience with a bucket of water and handfuls of rose petals—why? I dunno, each to their own, I suppose…

Not to be outdone, Keith Richards plays his guitar as if each chord struck will bring pestilence, plague, death and disaster down on some faraway land. Richards plucks at his guitar with great gothic dramatic posturing—while in the background Mick Taylor plays the tune.

By 1973, the rock ‘n’ rollers of the early 1950s were middle-aged, mostly married with kids. The new generation of youth who filled their place were long-haired, turned on, tuned in, many believing that music could change the world. Where once rock had been about having a good time, now the feelings it engendered were the driving force for political change. Pop music made the kids feel good—and that feeling was how many thought the world should be.
 
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Well, it never happened, as music—no matter how radical—is in the end… entertainment. Those who took their political education from twelve-inch vinyl platters were quickly disappointed and soon awakened by pop’s utter failure to liberate the world, bring peace and harmony and all that. Nice though this idea certainly was, it was all just a pantomime—like Keef having fun hamming up his guitar playing.

Of course, the music industry is a far more sinister business than this—as this documentary Rock-a-Bye inadvertently points out. From the start, our choice of music was manipulated by long hairs with no taste in fashion as shown by their suits and ties and ill-fitting tank tops. These men picked the records that received the necessary air time to guarantee their success—thus making billions for the music industry. As Douglas Rain quotes one cynical record plugger in his commentary, who claimed if he played the British national anthem “God Save the Queen” on the radio often enough it would be a hit. The youth were only there to be manipulated and sold product—plus ça change….

This is a good illuminating documentary and apart from The Stones, there are performances from Ronnie Hawkins (plus interview), Muddy Waters and Alice Cooper. There’s also an interview with Zal Yanovsky of the Lovin’ Spoonful who lets rip a four-letter word (mostly bleeped out) tirade on the state of music in the 1970s. What Yanovsky forgets is that music is a business and only the amateurs and the rich will play for free.
 
Watch the entire documentary, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Take a look at The Rolling Stones 1966 tour program

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The even numbered years seemed to have been more successful for the Rolling Stones than the odd. The band formed in 1962, had their first number one album and number one single in ‘64, made their breakthrough album in ‘66, released Beggar’s Banquet, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Street Fighting Man” in ‘68, released Exile on Main St. in ‘72, Black and Blue in ‘76 and Some Girls in ‘78. While the odd numbers came at a price—in 1965 Richards was nearly electrocuted onstage, then came the drugs bust, chaos and disintegration of Their Satanic Majesties Request in ‘67, Brian Jones’ death and the murder of Meredith Hunter at Altamont in ‘69, the fires at Richards’ homes in ‘71 and ‘73, or his arrest for heroin in Canada in 1977—it’s all enough conspiracy to make a numerologist’s head spin.

1966 was a good year for the Stones—they released their fourth studio album Aftermath, which was their first album to be compiled of songs written solely by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards; they had successfully toured Australia, Europe and America before returning to England for a tour of the UK and were well out of the shadow of their rivals The Beatles. 

The band was also in negotiations to make a movie, Only Lovers Left Alive, adapted from the novel by Dave Wallis, and to be directed by Nicholas Ray of Rebel Without a Cause fame.
 
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According to the Stones, they had “waited a long time and spent a lot of time trying to find the right story for [their] first film,” and seemed to have hit on the right subject with Wallis’s sci-fi tale of tribal youth gangs terrorizing London. It was topical, apt, and tapped into both the hopes and fears of what the swinging sixties’ youth revolt may bring. Alas, the deal fell through and no movie was made until Jean-Luc Godard’s One plus One (aka Sympathy for the Devil) or The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus both 1968.

The Stones’s ‘66 tour had incredible support from the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, The Yardbirds (with Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page) and Long John Baldry, whose band around this time had included Elton John on keyboards. It was a lineup worthy of a mini-festival. A copy of the tour program can fetch $125 a copy, but why pay that when you scan through the pages here?
 
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More pages from the Rolling Stones’ past (darkly), after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
High schoolers take teacher to his very first rock show—the Stones in ‘78: Here are his photos
05.29.2015
10:07 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Rolling Stones
photography


 
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
The Rolling Stones take over ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ 1965-66

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“The weekend starts here!” was the opening catchphrase for Ready, Steady, Go!—the preferred pop show of choice for millions of British youth between 1963 and 1966. Filmed in a small studio in central London, Ready, Steady, Go! was the first pop show (from 1965 onwards) to present bands playing live—unlike its rival Top of the Pops that continued with predominantly mimed performances until the late 1990s.

Though it may not seem it now, Ready, Steady, Go! was revolutionary television when first broadcast, leading one TV historian to see the program as “a line of demarcation drawn between one kind of Britain and another.”

The “Queen of Mods,” Cathy McGowan was the program’s best known host, who had originally been hired as a production advisor after replying to an advert looking for “a typical teenager.” Other presenters included the (middle-aged) Keith Fordyce and (briefly) singer Sandie Shaw. Unlike most music shows at the time, Ready, Steady, Go! brought in a live audience that could be seen dancing, cavorting and occasionally mobbing the acts.
 

 
The show also benefited from allowing artists to play full versions of their songs, and one of the highlights was the specials featuring bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Animals showcasing recent hits.  Between ‘65 and ‘66, The Rolling Stones made two showcases performing a variety of tracks including “Under My Thumb,” “Paint It Black” and “Satisfaction.” These sets have since been edited together as a Ready, Steady Go!: Rolling Stones Special which was aired on Channel 4 some thirty-odd years after first broadcast.

Watch the Rolling Stones on ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Rolling Stones, Phil Spector and Gene Pitney get drunk and record the X-rated ‘Andrew’s Blues’

Boozing it up
Boozing it up (L-R): Phil Spector, Gene Pitney, Brian Jones, Andrew Loog Oldham, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, and Mick Jagger

On February 4th, 1964, the Rolling Stones entered Regent Sound Studios in London for a session. The group had released a couple of singles at this point, and the studio was quickly becoming their go-to spot. For this recording, the band was joined by some special guests: singer/songwriter Gene Pitney, Graham Nash and Allan Clarke from the Hollies, as well as genius record producer Phil Spector. By night’s end their combined efforts resulted in a few completed tracks, including one called “Andrew’s Blues,” which is quite possibly the raunchiest song the Stones have ever committed to tape—yes, rivaling even this infamous number.

In his autobiography, Stone Alone: The Story of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Band, bassist Bill Wyman wrote about the wild session, which was produced by their manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, the subject of “Andrew’s Blues”:

We’d become friendly with Phil Spector and attended a star-studded party in his honour thrown by Decca a week earlier; so he continued the friendship by dropping in our recording. Graham Nash and Allan Clarke of the Hollies also came and later Gene Pitney arrived direct from the airport, with duty-free cognac. It was his birthday, and his family custom was that everyone had to drink a whole glass. Pitney played piano while Spector and the Hollies played tambourine and maracas and banged coins on empty bottles. We recorded three songs, ‘Little by Little,’ ‘Can I Get a Witness’ and ‘Now I’ve Got a Witness,’ which we invented on the spot. The session then degenerated into silliness, but everybody had a great time cutting ‘Andrew’s Blues’ and ‘Spector and Pitney Came Too’-—both of which were very rude.

Though officially unreleased, “Andrew’s Blues” changed hands for years before the Internet and is now readily available via YouTube. The tune is a twelve-bar blues and very much resembles another number with the same structure, Tommy Tucker’s “Hi-Heel Sneakers,” which had been released just weeks earlier (the song was part of the Stones’ live sets for a time, and a studio take has been leaked).

The main vocalist on the track is Gene Pitney, who became the first artist to cover a Jagger/Richards composition when his version of “That Girl Belongs to Yesterday” was released as a 45 in January of ‘64. Pitney was introduced to the Stones by Oldham the previous November and promptly demoed the song with the band. Oldham, in addition to his duties managing the Stones, would soon become Pitney’s publicist.

The boys lovingly take the piss out of Oldham in “Andrew’s Blues,” but they also mock the hell out of Sir Edward Lewis, the founder and chairman of Decca Records—the Stones’ label—and the track as a whole can be seen as a commentary on the music business. Or just a drunken lark.

Here’s a lyrical sample:

Yes now Andrew Oldham sittin’ on a hill with Jack and Jill (Jack and Jill)
Fucked all night and sucked all night and taste that pussy till it taste just right
Oh Andrew (yes Andrew), oh Andrew (yes Andrew)
Oh suck it Andrew (go on Andrew), fuck it Andrew (go on Andrew)
Oh Andrew Oldham (yeah), a guy who really know his way around (down down down down)

In his book Phil Spector: Out Of His Head, author Richard Williams called the track “startlingly obscene,” and fifty years on it still manages to shock. This is partly to due the fact that the lead vocals are largely handled by Pitney, who had a very straight-laced public image.

As for “Spector and Pitney Came Too,” a song with that title has been bootlegged, but is essentially an instrumental version of “Andrew’s Blues” with some hot lead guitar added.

Okay, escort your mom out of the room, ‘cause here comes “Andrew’s Blues”:
 

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
A Dark Korner in the Blues Room: Another view of the ‘Founding Father of British Blues’ (Part 2)
09.16.2013
05:17 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Rolling Stones
Blues
Alexis Korner
Free


 
This is a guest post by Stephen W Parsons. Read part one of A Dark Korner in the Blues Room: A dissenting view of the ‘Founding Father of British Blues.

By 1961 Alexis Korner had created a successful Trojan-horse musical outfit with a floating roster of talented players including Jack Bruce and Charlie Watts. In order to get plenty of work they sometimes masqueraded as a New Orleans jazz band but Korner knew which way the wind was blowing and made sure the band kept one foot in the blues.

When Brian Jones saw them play in his home town he realized that it was actually possible to play blues music and make money while doing so. He made a beeline for the suave and charismatic bandleader at an after-gig drinking session and pestered him with questions. Korner responded by inviting the young man to stay with him in London. The historical narrative is that Korner helped to create a stage character for Jones as a slide player named “Elmo Lewis” who opened shows as a solo performer and then introduced him to a couple of other blues crazy lads named Mick and Keith. He also generously donated his drummer to Brian’s new outfit: The Rolling Stones. This would all have been contemplated and planned during late night jamming sessions fuelled by hashish and vintage wine. Korner considered himself to be a connoisseur of both relaxants.

The older man had clearly seen something of himself in his young apprentice’s cultured manner and slightly shifty sense of mischief. As an amateur psychologist he must also have noticed the swarm of unresolved complexes beneath Jones’s polite veneer. Nevertheless he took the time to instruct his protégé on the subtleties of running a profitable blues band and I suspect he found it an interesting experiment. But there was a profound difference between the two men. Jones had talent, an abundance of it, and a face for the sixties. Despite a disgraceful four decades-long campaign by the remaining Rolling Stones to denigrate his abilities, both the records and surviving footage tell a different story. He also looked the business when the Glimmer Twins were still pimply young wannabees impersonating their American heroes such as Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. In the live arena he projected a concentrated sexual atmosphere that would set young girls squirming in their seats.

No wonder the others resented him, exploited his personality defects and got rid of him at the earliest opportunity.

We now enter the thick fog of Pygmalion territory, of stewardship and responsibility, accompanied by Henry Higgins, Charles Manson, Svengali, Lermontov from The Red Shoes, and Hannibal Lecter, whose most terrible achievement was the manipulation of his psycho-analytical client roster to create other serial killers. It’s a place where nothing can be verified, only inferred, because the bond between sorcerer and apprentice is unspoken. In my own experience the best musical mentors teach mostly by example, make a few pertinent critical comments and stay well-clear of giving advice on personal matters. To step further is to invite what mind doctors call transference and unless the mentor is of sound and balanced character then this is very dangerous territory indeed. 

Korner’s experiment with Jones and company was an undoubted success, but I suspect that the meteoric rise of his young acolytes actually shook him to the core. Imagine being in the right place at exactly the right time without the talent or the image to really get in the game, never mind profit from it. Condemned to be, at best, a “talismanic figure” to the real stars, sidelined and footnoted by history—always a bridesmaid never the bride.

Korner was intelligent and self-aware enough to see it all coming. The music he had preached and championed as a youthful outsider was suddenly mainstream entertainment. It was confirmed in 1964 when the Stones topped the pop charts for the first time with a slice of raw blues. “Little Red Rooster,” featuring the moaning slide guitar of Elmo Lewis, blared out from every juke box and transistor radio in the land. Overnight Alexis Korner, at 33 years of age, had become a respected veteran.

How that must have hurt.

By 1969 Brian Jones was dead in the swimming pool, but the blues explosion was continuing to reverberate. It had also cast a beneficial spotlight back on the surviving American blues legends who were finding new audiences, and better paydays, in Britain and Europe. Alexis Korner played generous host and “fun guide” to these veteran performers when they came through London. One time the Muddy Waters’ whole band spent the night at his Bayswater flat.

Domestically his reputation as the godfather of the blues scene was now under threat. It was his sole medal from the revolution he had put so much energy into and a new contender, with more musical ability, was emerging. His name was John Mayall and he had assembled a star-studded blues band that actually sold records. Jack Bruce had jumped ship from Korner’s outfit in 1965 putting his considerable talent behind Mayall and his new guitar hero, Eric Clapton, before forming the first ever supergroup: Cream.

Jack, Eric and Ginger Baker, who also had a brief stint with the Korner roadshow, took a pocket storm of dynamic blues back to America and broke every box office record as they did so. The previous arrival of British beat groups such as The Rolling Stones and The Animals had provided an interesting hybrid of pop/rhythm and blues for the US teens but nothing to match the scale and solemn intensity of Cream in full flow.

While his ex-sidemen were busy tearing up the world, Alexis Korner was still playing the same round of pubs and clubs and the hot young players were now looking elsewhere for career platforms. Mick Taylor had gravitated to Mayall’s band before moving on and up to The Rolling Stones. Fleetwood Mac with Peter Green on guitar and vocals were adding a strangely dignified lyricism to the 12 bar cannon and Jimmy Page was envisioning an outfit that would expertly blend hard rock, eastern scales and psychedelic music with the dirty soul of the blues. It would be an outfit that rendered all sterile arguments about “the real thing” totally redundant.

Korner woke up one morning and found a 15-year-old boy of mixed race sleeping on his sofa. Andy Fraser was a musical prodigy, who was already playing bass guitar in John Mayall’s band and dating Korner’s daughter Sappho. In his recent autobiography Fraser writes that Korner was ‘almost a father figure’ to him. I am sure Brian Jones would have said the same if he’d lived long enough to write a book about himself.

Korner took the boy under his wing and, as with Jones, introduced him to other brilliant teenage talents who had come under his tutelage: Paul Rodgers, Simon Kirk and Paul Kossoff. He blessed this outfit with the inspired band name Free. It was the Rolling Stones story all over again. The young band members were bound for glory, but like all aspects of the Korner narrative there was a curse alongside the blessing. His professional advice ladled out between fat hash joints was now tainted with a bitterness: there were “breadheads” everywhere, musicians were selling out, becoming pop stars rather than soulful players and, after Plant left him in the lurch, blaming much of the decline on the all-conquering Led Zeppelin. He was filling the impressionable young man’s head with impossible notions of purity which have troubled him, and dogged his career ever since.  The kid had it all. He could compose hit songs, arrange like a musician twice his age, play piano and was a bass giant with a firm reductive style. Check out Free’s biggest hit “All Right Now,” where he has the steely nerve to lay out of the song’s verses then come thundering in with an irresistible bass line on the chorus. 

Free should have been superstars, but Andy Fraser carried his Korner-nurtured demons into the Free camp. They played magnificently and fought like alley cats–broke up–reformed –broke up again and reformed without Frazer before mutating into Bad Company, which signed with Led Zeppelin’s record company and prospered. Their original guitar player Paul Kossoff didn’t live to see the good times. He died on an aeroplane from a heart attack brought on by hard drug abuse.

I first met Korner in 1973 when I sang in a band formed by Andy Fraser: The Sharks. Fraser was heavy company to say the least. I lived in his country cottage for a few months. The House of Usher must have been a more pleasant abode; long silences, abrupt mood swings and a superior air were the hallmarks of the Fraser experience. He was twenty years old at the time, a year younger than me, and acting out like an embryonic Phil Spector.

Every so often we would swing over to Korner’s London flat to pick up a block of black hash. I loathed that place. It had a fusty quality, with Korner radiantly charming at its center. He monopolized the conversation and what used to be known as “mind games” were the order of the day. Even casual, offhand remarks were loaded traps for the unwary. Kossoff was present a couple of times but in no state to chat. Korner’s two teenage sons Nico and Damien were also usually in attendance. It seemed obvious to me that the father of British Blues was keen surround himself with younger men who were easily impressed by his undoubted intelligence and ability to express himself with a sage-like clarity. I had met a few sophisticated bullshitters before so I was impervious to his cultured performance. Others didn’t seem to be so lucky.

Fraser didn’t last long with The Sharks and, despite my enormous respect for his talent, I wasn’t sorry to see him go and, as far as I was concerned, Alexis Korner went with him.

Five years later Korner reappeared in my life when, by coincidence, we were both signed to the same management company. The financial success of his unmusical activities on radio and television had mellowed him somewhat; he seemed less imposing and a little fragile. A long term combination of drink and dope will do that to a person. His musical ventures from that period to the end of his life consisted mainly of profitable European tours in a series of duos with highly talented younger players such as Peter Thorup and Colin Hogkinson.

When I sang with Ginger Baker in the 1970s, Alexis Korner played at Ginger’s 40th birthday party in a duo with Steve Marriott. Despite Marriott’s spine-tingling voice, they were sloppy and disappointing. I remember asking my own mentor, the Grand Master of Percussion, for his view on Korner and it is the pragmatic Ginger who gets the last word on the matter:

‘Musical tosser who surrounds himself with talent so he can look cool’

This is a guest post by SWP aka Snips/Stephen W Parsons/Steve, the founder of the Scorpionics self-improvement system. He sang for various beat groups until 1982 and then pursued a more successful career as a composer for hire until 2004. Since then he has voyaged into peculiar seas. His latest musical adventure is The Presence LDN which will be releasing product in October 2013. His younger, and more handsome self can be seen singing with Ginger Baker in the video below:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Who the hell are these people?: Rolling Stones jigsaw puzzle is puzzling
07.16.2013
02:33 am

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Music

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The Rolling Stones


 
The puzzle is in trying to figure which, if any, of these guys look like a member of The Stones.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Stones in the Park: Sit and watch as time goes by?
07.08.2013
04:28 am

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Music

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The Rolling Stones


A still from Kenneth Anger’s Invocation of My Demon Brother, which has a solo Jagger soundtrack

Might the Rolling Stones be about to… finally retire?

The name of their current tour, “50 & Counting,” may suggest otherwise, but they are looking at a perhaps irresistible opportunity to go out on a relative high. After all, not only are Mick and Keith pushing seventy—with the latter really starting to seriously lose it on guitar—but they’ve just had a widely celebrated (and long awaited) appearance at Glastonbury, and only this weekend returned to Hyde Park for the first time since their famous free concert in 1969. It’s only rock-n-roll, but surely no future tour can hope for any greater poignancy, unless, I suppose, one of them drops down dead “right on the stage.” You kind of suspect that Mick, for one, might be thinking along these lines.

Anyhow, given the weekend shenanigans at Hyde Park (where tickets were this time weren’t free, but £90 because, you know, the Stones need the money), what better time to watch or re-watch Grenada’s entire 1969 Stones in the Park documentary, a suitably impressionistic portrait of one of London’s hazier days? Besides Jagger’s white dress, his butterflies and his Shelley poetry, there’s Mick Taylor’s unveiling, and plenty of UK Hell’s Angels—a scrawny, malnutritioned bunch who look the obvious inspiration for Billyboy’s gang in A Clockwork Orange. These UK Angels handled the Hyde Park security, but thankfully made a rather less lethal meal of it than their beefier US cousins, who would of course man Altamont’s notorious barricades later that same year.

As for the Stones, I can’t tell if they’re shit here or great. Bit of both, probably. I am, however, suddenly quite daunted by the thought that they won’t be around for ever.
 

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Leave a comment
The Rolling Stones continue their long march toward self-annihilation
06.05.2013
05:23 am

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Music

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The Rolling Stones
Taylor Swift


 
Taylor Swift may look the part but but she’s no Marianne Faithfull. Not by a long fucking shot. Not only can’t Swift sing, she has no emotional grasp of the song she’s singing. “As Tears Go By” is one of the most beautifully melancholic songs ever written. Swift and the increasingly pathetic Jagger do a staggeringly insensitive and clueless rendering. Tears? Indeed.

Rolling Stones, you’ve managed to wipe out your own fucking legacy. You’ve stomped it into the ground and turned it into something that no longer remotely resembles the rock ‘n’ roll you once made that changed my life. Go fuck yourselves!
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Don’t Mess With Keith Richards

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Don’t mess with Keith Richards: The Stones legendary guitarist doesn’t hesitate or flinch when dealing with a “rogue” fan during a concert. Mick Jagger meanwhile…
 

 
With thanks to Carl Hamm
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Weekend Starts Here: The Best of ‘60s Brit Pop from ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’

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This is what cultural revolution looked like in the early 1960s: youngsters dancing in a cramped television studio, as smartly dressed men and women mime love songs.

From its opening line: “The weekend starts here!” Ready, Steady, Go! was one of the most revolutionary and influential programs on British TV.

Between 1963 and 1966, Ready, Steady, Go! brought pioneering performances by the biggest pop names to millions of homes across the country. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield, Lulu, The Animals, Cilla Black, Gerry and The Pacemakers, The Searchers, and even Peter Cook & Dudley Moore—who later parodied the show in their film Bedazzled.

The miming eventually stopped in April 1965, after the show moved to a bigger studio and artists were asked to play live—most notably now legendary sets by The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Manfred Mann and The Walker Brothers. It gave the show an immediacy and power its rivals could only dream about, but by 1966, as the beat revolution moved on, Ready, Steady, Go! was canceled.

Ready, Steady, Go! had an unprecedented influence on shaping musical taste, and youth fashion, and in 2011, The Kinks’ Ray Davies paid homage to RSG! with a recreation of the show at the Meltdown Festival.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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