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Tuxedomoon’s bizarre version of the Stones’ ‘19th Nervous Breakdown’ might trigger yours
01.25.2017
09:00 am
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SecondHandSongs lists over 30 covers of the Rolling Stones’ 1966 single “19th Nervous Breakdown.” The song was Mick Jagger’s takedown of the neuroses of overprivileged youth—and according to Simon Philo in British Invasion: The Crosscurrents of Musical Influence it may have even been a swipe at model Chrissie Shrimpton, who was Jagger’s girlfriend until the year that song came out. But I suspect its durability lies more in its catchiness—the interplay between Brian Jones’ and Keith Richards’ bouncy guitar lines probably held more appeal for the dozens of artists covering the song than Jagger’s contempt for poor-little-rich-girls.

But there is one cover that eschews basically everything that makes the song recognizable—even the lyrics—and surely qualifies as the single strangest cover of the song in existence, stranger even than Nash the Slash’s. I refer to the version by San Francisco’s Tuxedomoon. Like Pere Ubu and Cabaret Voltaire, Tuxedomoon were way ahead of the pack, forming and codifying familiar post-punk tropes during a time when punk itself was still on the rise. They were part of a wildly experimental Bay Area scene that included the likes of The Residents, Chrome, MX-80, Pink Section, and Dead Kennedys, and as such they were part of the compilation Can You Hear Me? Music From The Deaf Club in 1981, a collection which includes their Stones cover.
 

 
The Deaf Club, located at 530 Valencia Street, was discovered by Robert Hanrahan, the manager of The Offs. The small space—full name the San Francisco Club for the Deaf—was in fact a social club for deaf people to hang out in and could be rented on a nightly basis. As far as the regulars, they were content with the music being played as loud as the bands wanted. The San Francisco Chronicle once reported the temporary closing of The Deaf Club due to neighbor complaints with the amusing headline: “Deaf Club Closed Due to Excessive Noise Levels.” (Edward Jauregui, executive director of Deaf Self Help told Chronicle columnist Herb Caen, “We all like to dance, and we can feel the vibrations.” When Caen asked about the neighbors, Jauregui told him “They’re going crazy. They keep calling the cops, complaining the noise is deafening. Isn’t that rich?”). John Waters even stopped by when he was in San Francisco to see what the fuss was all about.

Keep reading after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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01.25.2017
09:00 am
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Tuxedomoon, Cult With No Name & John Foxx make music inspired by ‘Blue Velvet’


 
In 1985 a German photographer named Peter Braatz traveled to North Carolina and ended up filming a good deal of behind-the-scenes footage of the making of one of the best movies of the 1980s, David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. Diverging from what most people would have done, I’d say, Braatz declined to make a regular documentary and opted instead to make a free-standing work of art called “No Frank in Lumberton”—we wrote about it a while back.

In late 2015, as part of its “Made To Measure” series, Brussels-based label Crammed Discs put out an “original soundtrack” composed by Tuxedomoon and Cult With No Name for the documentary Blue Velvet Revisited, a more recent reworking that Braatz forged from his original footage. In 2013 and 2014 Braatz came to realize that the contributions of Cult With No Name and Tuxedomoon would complement his images perfectly—in short order an agreement was made for the two groups to create a “joint soundtrack.”

Of the collaboration, Braatz commented:
 

In July 2013 I first heard the album ‘Above as Below’ by Cult With No Name. As the song ‘As Below’ came on I immediately had the idea to use it for my ‘Blue Velvet Revisited’ project, and to edit a trailer to the track that would showcase my footage.

...

I was keen to hand over the making of the soundtrack to one group of musicians, particularly as much of my film would have no dialogue. The soundtrack would need to carry the feel of ‘As Below’ throughout. Erik Stein revealed to me that the amazing trumpet part on ‘As Below’ was played by Luc Van Lieshout of Tuxedomoon, a group I also knew well and greatly admired. Because it was the trumpet part that I found so perfect, we soon pitched the idea of a joint soundtrack between Cult With No Name and Tuxedomoon.


 
Later on Braatz added a track by John Foxx, the original lead singer of Ultravox. Originating in the Bay Area, Tuxedomoon were one of the most important and influential bands of the post-punk movement. Self-described “post-punk electronic balladeers” Erik Stein and Jon Boux collaborate as Cult With No Name.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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12.23.2016
01:22 pm
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The Residents, Chrome & Tuxedomoon covering ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco.’ Sort of
11.30.2016
09:36 am
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While discussion of the rock music of San Francisco tends to revolve around It’s a Beautiful Dead Airplane and the Holding Messenger Service, all us really good weirdos who read and/or work for Dangerous Minds know that the truly insane stuff landed after the hippie era. The moment in 1972 when The Residents moved to S.F. and established Ralph Records to release their work and the music of other like minded head cases was a bellwether event in freakmusic; Ralph would go on to release underground classics by fellow San Franciscans like Tuxedomoon, Rhythm & Noise, MX-80 Sound, and Voice Farm, all innovators who were too weird to quite fit the mold of the city’s storied punk and hardcore scenes. (They released much excellent non-S.F.-based music too, it merits mentioning, including Art Bears, Snakefinger and Yello.)

Ralph label compilations were always worth picking up—they were doorways to a distinct kind of weirdness no other American label would touch. Releases like Frank Johnson’s Favorites, Potatoes, and the Buy or Die 7” series introduced a much younger me to excellent art-rock oddities well beyond my imagining. But the one that’s stuck with me most is 1979’s Subterranean Modern—which apart from a Schwump 7” in 1976 was the first Ralph release to include artists other than The Residents or Snakefinger—a four-band V/A release that introduced me to Chrome. Their three songs on that comp constituted the total of all music Chrome released on Ralph, and it included a warped, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it “cover” of Tony Bennett’s signature song “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” Indeed, all four bands on the comp covered that tune in some fashion, the other three being The Residents (naturally), art-punk guitar terrorists MX-80 Sound, and gloomy experimenters Tuxedomoon. Bonus: cool Gary Panter cover art.

Chrome’s version of the song is a noisy psych swirl all of 27 seconds long, fading out as quickly as it fades in, and you can hear someone saying the title if you listen closely enough. The track would eventually resurface on Cleopatra Records’ Chrome Box. MX-80’s is an instrumental that I expect few listeners could peg it for a cover were it not for the title. The Residents’ version is a typically Residentsy transformation, perfectly in step with that band’s many, many, other cover songs, warping the original to the edge of recognizability and drenching it in synthesized menace. Along with the other 3 Residents tracks on this comp, it appeared on the CD reissue of their album Eskimo. Tuxedomoon’s offering is another quickie, a minute-long harmonica rendition of the original underneath a recorded phone call in which a man tries to prove residence in guess which city in order to collect welfare from the state of California. That track eventually re-surfaced on the band’s Pinheads on the Move collection.

Despite the fact that every band pretty much completely jettisoned the actual song they were supposedly covering, the album notes credit the remakes to original composers George Cory and Douglass Cross. It really couldn’t be more obvious that that Chrome, Tuxedomoon and MX-80 bristled against the stipulation of covering that song and contributed piss-takes. In fact, a contemporary NME article explicitly spells it out:

The most controversial aspect of the album is the inclusion of “I Left My Heart In San Francisco,” a rather sickening piece of hackwork popularized by Tony Bennett. None of the groups, with the exception of the Residents, were thrilled about recording the song. Chrome sarcastically included less than a minutes’ worth of white noise as their “interpretation.” Tuxedomoon recorded a one minute conversation between an unemployed transient attempting to qualify for welfare and a welfare office bureaucrat, while the melody to “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” is played on harmonica in the background. MX-80 Sound cut the song as an instrumental, giving it a full force heavy metal reading.

“It’s not that great a song,” says [Residents spokesman Hardy] Fox, “Who wants to do something that you don’t think is too great? It was a challenge. But it is the official San Francisco song. Sanctioned by the city. So we had no choice.”

More after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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11.30.2016
09:36 am
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No tears: Tuxedomoon’s Bruce Geduldig dead at 63
03.09.2016
02:30 pm
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I was sorry to hear of the death of Bruce Geduldig of Tuxedomoon.  He died after a long term illness on Monday, his 63rd birthday.

Tuxedomoon’s Blaine L. Reininger shared the news of Geguldig’s passing on their website:

Our erstwhile colleague and collaborator, Bruce Geduldig has died, on the occasion of his 63rd birthday, March 7, 2016. He departed from his home town, Sacramento, California, attended by his family and friends. He had been suffering for many years from liver complaints. We will miss him sorely.

After a period of working with Winston Tong on his quirky theatrical shows in San Francisco, Bruce Geduldig joined Tuxedomoon in 1979 to add a visual element to the band’s concerts via film projections, video art and other multimedia elements. (At a particularly amazing mid-80s Tuxedomoon show that I saw at the Palladium in NYC, Geduldig swung a hot oil projector/smoke machine-type thing around the stage. A big glob of burning hot oil from his infernal device went right onto my friend’s nose—SPLAT—leaving a burn mark he feared would be permanent. Luckily it wasn’t.)

Geduldig’s wife, filmmaker Bernadette Martou, who he met while living in Brussels, died before him, in April of 2015.

After the jump, Tuxedomoon live in Hamburg, 1985…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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03.09.2016
02:30 pm
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The roots of San Francisco punk: The Deaf Club, 1978-1980
10.22.2014
02:38 pm
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When punk hit San Francisco in the late 1970s, it needed a venue. Typically, the S.F. venues generally gave punk the cold shoulder, so a more creative solution proved necessary. Robert Hanrahan, manager of The Offs, was able to take over what had actually been a club for the deaf that had existed in that location (16th and Valencia) since the 1930s and turned it into a vital, scorching venue for bands like Dead Kennedys, D.O.A., The Subhumans, Tuxedomoon, X, Flipper, and The Germs. It didn’t last long, but while it was open it provided the Bay Area punk scene with its first legendary venue. It opened on December 9, 1978 and closed in the mid- to late 1980. As Jello Biafra himself said, “The magic of the Deaf Club was its intimate sweaty atmosphere, kind of like a great big house party.”
 

 
Robert Hanrahan remembered finding the place: “I bought a burrito at La Cumbre and noticed a sign on the fire escape across the street. It said ‘Hall for Rent.’ I went up the flights of stairs and saw two guys watching TV with the sound off. After a very short while, I realized we weren’t going to communicate, so I wrote on a piece of paper that I wanted to rent the place. Bill—I never knew his last name—was a mustachioed, lascivious, cigar-chewing character who apparently was in charge. He wrote ‘OK & $250,’ so I wrote ‘OK.’”

On Found S.F., there is an invaluable page describing some of the history of the Deaf Club. The first show featured The Offs, The Mutants, and On the Rag. The show was “dark & very crowded.” Sensing a fracas, the cops showed up but didn’t stick around. My favorite bit from account of the first night: “Lots of hand signals between old & young club members.”
 

 
A possibly unique aspect of the club was the constant presence of actual deaf people in the hall, who didn’t know what to make of their unruly musical cohorts—but counterintuitively, they did seem to enjoy the music. Indeed, punk music might be tailor-made for deaf people to enjoy, because of the constant frenetic thudding of the 4/4 beat that can be sensed as vibrations. As Penelope Houston of The Avengers said, “It was kind of amazing. I think they were dancing to the vibrations. The deaf people were amused that all these punks wanted to come in and rent their room and have these shows.” According to artist Winston Smith, “They put their hands on the table and they could hear the music. It was music they could appreciate because it was so loud.”
 

 
Nothing was easy for a venue like the Deaf Club, whose main strategy for staying open was to keep a low profile. Essentially it was scarcely known outside the punk community. The cops, however, frequently instigated temporary closures due to complaints about the noise from neighbors. The Chicano community in the vicinity “resented what they considered a “punk invasion” of their territory — like one night 3 young machos gangbusted up the stairs & immediately started slugging men & women alike until they were finally forced out by sheer numbers of a surprised/rallied crowd just drinking & dancing.”

In 1980 Gammon Records released Can You Hear Me? Music from the Deaf Club, a compilation featuring many of the club’s mainstays, including the Offs, the Mutants, Pink Section, Dead Kennedys, and so forth. In 2004 the Dead Kennedys released Live at the Deaf Club. Interesting aspects of the show include the purportedly “disco version” of “Kill the Poor” as well as their closing covers—the Beatles’ “Back in the U.S.S.R.” and Elvis’ “Viva Las Vegas.”
 
Some terrific full-length concerts from the Deaf Club after the jump…...
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.22.2014
02:38 pm
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Tuxedomoon were postpunk during the punk era
10.16.2013
04:15 pm
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Recently, when I posted about the Public Image Ltd.-related rarity, Steel Leg Vs. The Electric Dread, DM reader “Mr. Clam” left the following comment:

While Richard is right when he said First Issue was “thee line of demarcation between punk rock and post punk music”, the reality was that post-punk was inevitable. Indeed, it may have paradoxically predated punk itself (see Pere Ubu). Also, Joy Division/Warsaw was already heading into post-punk territory.

That’s a pretty interesting point. Pere Ubu’s Ohio mutant compatriots DEVO also come readily to mind in that way, and so do Suicide. The band that I feel illustrates his theory best though, are Tuxedomoon. When Tuxedomoon formed in San Francisco, punk was at its 1977 height in London and in New York, but the Sex Pistols were still copping Chuck Berry riffs while the Ramones were aping surf rock and Phil Spector. The evil-sounding avant gardists of Tuxedomoon were in many ways closer to prog rock than to punk, stylistically speaking, if not in attitude. Certainly they were “postpunk” before the era began or the term was ever coined. Check out this early video recording of Tuxedomoon produced when they were doing a week-long “artists residency” at The University of Colorado in 1977 and see if you don’t agree.

The numbers performed here are “Litebulb Overkill,” “New Machine,” “Lili Marlene,” “Pollo X,” “Cybernetic Cowboy” and “Joeboy The Electronic Ghost.” This is included in the truly astonishing 35th anniversary Tuxedomoon box set 77o7 Tm that was released in 2008.

Superior Viaduct is reissuing Tuxedomoon’s early EPs on vinyl this fall.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
PiL rarity ‘Steel Leg Vs. The Electric Dread’ is the missing link between ‘First Issue’ & ‘Metal Box’

Posted by Richard Metzger
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10.16.2013
04:15 pm
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Tuxedomoon: No Tears for the Creatures of the Night
10.20.2010
07:12 pm
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The following is a slightly expanded version of a post I did on Boing Boing last year when I was guest blogging,

While the Sex Pistols were regurgitating old Who and Chuck Berry riffs in London, and the Ramones were dumbing down the Beach Boys’ sound in New York City, something truly weird was going on in San Francisco. Formed in 1977 by multi-instrumentalists, Blaine L. Reininger and Steven Brown (and later joined by Peter Principle and puppeteer/weirdo, Winston Tong) Tuxedomoon are a group that, like their singular Ralph Records label-mates, The Residents, fall into exactly one category, the category of Tuxedomoon. With a sonic aesthetic difficult to describe (electronic, erudite, evil, with lots of strings and a sleazy sax, if that helps) but once called the sound of “ectoplasmic formation” (any better?), Tuxedomoon never fit into the San Francisco punk scene, they were viewed as “too European.” Not surprisingly, the band decamped to Rotterdam, then Brussels in the early 1980s where they were more warmly received. Since then, Tuxedomoon have rarely played in America—just five concerts—and I can count myself as lucky enough to have attended one of them.
 

 
Tuxedomoon celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2007 with a box set,77o7 Tm consisting of a then new album (Vapour Trails), a CD of the new album played live, a rarities disc and a nearly three-hour long DVD of their multi-media film works and performance documentation. A friend gave me this box set and it absolutely floored me. I played it for weeks on end and the video material was a joy for a longtime fan to behold. There’s a definitive 450-page book book written on the group titled Music for Vagabonds - The Tuxedomoon Chronicles by Isabelle Corbisier.
 

 

 
Many more Tuxedomoon videos after the jump!

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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10.20.2010
07:12 pm
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