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“Rap Sabbath?”: Black Sabbath’s bizarre collaboration with Ice-T in 1995
02.18.2019
11:02 am
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Ice-T and Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi.
 
By the time Black Sabbath took ten days to record their eighteenth record Forbidden, they had parted ways twice with vocalist Ronnie James Dio, as well as another Sabbath vocalist, Tony Martin. Dio would go back to his solo work, and Martin would return to Sabbath for Forbidden. Dio really dodged a bullet as Forbidden would go down in history as one one of the Black Sabbath’s biggest blunders, kind of like Metallica’s Lulu. This is not meant to knock Iommi’s superior riffs or the thunder brought by Bill Ward’s replacement, Cozy Powell, or to be dismissive of the multi-talented Tony Martin who, among other things, can play the fuck out of the bagpipes. Alas the combination of star power and talent does not always result in righteous ear candy.

For many fans, Forbidden falls below the categorization of “For Fans Only” to a spot lower on the rock and roll ruler somewhere around, as Blender magazine called it, “the band’s worst album.” Of course, not everyone hates Forbidden, including Tony Iommi who began the process of remastering the album in early 2018 saying he hoped to release it sometime this year. In all honesty, I do not hate this record and if you think you do, or should, maybe give it another listen. So how was Ice-T enlisted to provide some vocal assistance for the song “Illusion of Power,” which was written by Ice and Tony Martin?

For Forbidden, Sabbath brought in Detroit-born guitarist Ernie C (Ernie Cunnigan) to produce the album. Ernie and Ice-T go way back to high school, where they first met in 1975, and has been playing with Ice in Body Count for nearly three decades. Ernie headed to Par Street Studios in Liverpool to record with Sabbath completing it in just ten days. Here’s more from an interview with Tony Martin and Cozy Powell talking about when they heard Ice-T was going to “rap” on the album:

Tony Martin: We had a phone call basically. He wanted to work with us. Tony went to meet him, they got on well, and from Ice-T, Ernie C was recommended to us as a producer for some of the tracks on the album, so it all started to develop, step by step. And in the end, Ernie ended up producing the whole album, which is quite good. His input really was a “feel”-thing, all the songs were already written by the time he got there. Well, you see, we didn’t know what he was gonna sing…In fact, he didn’t know what we were gonna write, and we didn’t know what he was gonna rap! So it was kind of rap by post if you like. We did the songs in the UK, sent one of them over to him, he rapped on it and sent it back. It turned out quite good.
Cozy Powell: I mean, if it had been a typical rap-thing with us it would have been ridiculous, but what he’s done on the track is actually really good.
Tony Martin: It is different, but that’s the point, it was supposed to be.
Cozy Powell: It was meant to be a guest appearance on one track, nothing more. It’s just a little bit different.
Tony Martin: We had to ask a lot of questions… It’s not something that sort of came up, like, “oh yeah, let’s do that,” we all looked at each other and went: “Are you sure ??” Do we really wanna do this? But it turned out good.
Cozy Powell: I think Ice and Ernie were a lot influenced by Sabbath anyway, so…That was where the connection originally came from, not that we absolutely wanted some rappers on a Sabbath-album..!
Cozy Powell: Goodness only knows…! We’ll probably have Madonna on the next!
Tony Martin: (laughs) NOT!!”

Martin has also been quoted saying that during the process of recording Forbidden, the band seemed to be okay with making what he called a “rap Sabbath” record. Which really makes no sense as Ice’s lyrical contribution to the song is a whopping sixteen seconds long. And he phoned it in from Los Angeles, so there’s that. The song is posted below. You have been warned.
 

“Illusion of Power” featuring vocals by Ice-T.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The curious case of Black Sabbath guitar god Tony Iommi and his very 70s sweater collection
‘Kiss My Baadasssss: Ice-T’s Guide To Blaxploitation’
Black & Blue: The infamous riot at a Black Sabbath & Blue Öyster Cult gig in Milwaukee, 1980
Black Sabbath’s 1972 cocaine budget: $75,000
Did Black Sabbath lift the opening riff from ‘Paranoid’?
Metal Gods: Rob Halford of Judas Priest fronts Black Sabbath in 1992

Posted by Cherrybomb
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02.18.2019
11:02 am
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Big Star’s Alex Chilton and his darkly upbeat song about the AIDS crisis, ‘No Sex’
02.15.2019
10:22 am
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No Sex French sleeve
 
Alex Chilton’s 1986 EP, No Sex, was his second release after a period of self-imposed exile. Following the debaucherous recording sessions that resulted in his chaotic 1979 LP, Like Flies on Sherbert, Alex took a step back from recording and touring as a solo act, preferring to play the role of sideman. He eventually moved from Memphis to New Orleans, where he cleaned up a bit. He worked jobs outside of the music business for a while, before easing back into performing, playing anonymously in various bands. The 1985 EP, Feudalist Tarts, marked his return to releasing studio records, and it was a fine effort, for sure, but nothing on it was as great—or shocking—as “No Sex.”

The song focuses on the then-developing HIV/AIDS crisis. AIDS was first identified in 1981, and in the mid ‘80s there was a lot of confusion surrounding the disease. It was still unclear how it was spread, but sexual contact had been identified as one way the disease was acquired. There was no treatment, no vaccine, and no cure. People were scared. In January 1986, the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) revealed that in 1985 more people were diagnosed with AIDS than in all previous years combined. The following month, Alex Chilton went into the studio to record “No Sex.” His lyrics address a new, stark reality—sex was a possible death sentence.
 
No Sex US sleeve
 
If you’ve never heard “No Sex” before, you’re probably assuming it’s a depressing tune, but despite the bleak subject matter, it’s actually an overall upbeat number, reflecting Alex’s off-kilter sense of humor, while giving voice to the anxiety of the times. Much of its tone has to do with the music, an infectious (sorry, no pun intended), blend of rockabilly and Stax-like soul, executed in a tight yet loose fashion. Even with its profane refrain of “C’mon baby, fuck me and die,” the song did receive some college radio airplay—it’s that good.
 
Shades
 
Doug Garrison, who played drums on the track, gave us some insight into the recording of “No Sex,” as well as Chilton’s general production methods.

I’d be surprised if there were more than two or three takes on this. Alex didn’t like to belabor the point. His producing style was to preserve the edge, the little mistakes that give character to a performance in the studio. The first song I ever recorded with him was done in one take.

“No Sex” has been included on one of two new Alex Chilton collections recently released by Bar/None Records. From Memphis to New Orleans is a best-of spanning the years 1985-89, featuring a mix of solid originals and inspired covers. Songs from Robin Hood Lane highlights Alex’s love of Chet Baker and jazz standards. Amongst the fabulous recordings on this set, which all date from the 1990s, are four previously unreleased cuts.
 
Mountains
 
The newly remastered “No Sex” is embedded below. Log in to Spotify to hear the whole song, or listen to it on YouTube.
 

 
We’ll part with video of an Alex Chilton performance from 1985.
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Alex Chilton’s rarely heard ‘tribute’ song for the Replacements
What’s Your Sign?: Big Star’s Alex Chilton and his obsession with astrology
Tav Falco and the meaning of ‘anti’-rockabilly (with special guest Alex Chilton)

Posted by Bart Bealmear
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02.15.2019
10:22 am
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This Valentine’s Day, tell them you hate them with ‘The Hate Poems’
02.14.2019
08:57 am
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John Tottenham

In Los Angeles, where it is many people’s full-time profession to be cheerful and healthy, John Tottenham’s scowl hits you in the eye like a stream of exudate from a suppurating lesion. Actually, jets of pus are far more common features of LA nightlife than scowls; one minute you’re dancing to the Maytals without a care in the world, the next—splosh!—you’ve got tertiary syphilis. Anyway, when our mutual friend Jessica Espeleta introduced us more than a decade ago on an Echo Park dance floor, it was love, or tertiary syphilis, at first sight.

Ever since, when I ran into John, we would spend a few minutes being clammy and unhappy together, talking country blues and gloomy thinkers. John is the only person I know who could have introduced me to the profoundly dejected philosophy of E.M. Cioran. And to give you some idea of the measure of the man, not only could John have told me about Cioran’s life and thought, but in fact, he did. That’s the kind of person John is. (As you see, I like to refer to him as “John,” in the way people who knew Bob Dylan in the Village never stop calling him “Bobby,” to make a big show of our personal acquaintance.)

But those, as the song says, were different times, before Apollo crowned John with the laurel wreath and anointed his tongue with the Muses’ sweet dew, and accolades fell by the dozen from his praise-occluded ying-yang. Today, he is our city’s poet of failure and regret, though his meditations on these universal themes belong to the world and all its children. He is the poet demanded by the age: the one who takes up the lyre to sing, not of arms and the man, but of “Liquid Consolation and Knob Relief.”

Writing of “icy Retz or La Rochefoucauld aphorisms, shining with hate-filled economy,” the art historian T.J. Clark might have been describing the style of “A Richer Victory”:

Broke, bitter and alone.
What more could I ask for?
I have failed, at last,
beyond my wildest expectations.
I don’t understand
why I’m still not satisfied.

There are three slender volumes of John Tottenham’s poetry, all highly recommended. His first, The Inertia Variations, now in its second edition, has been set to music and otherwise interpreted by The The. His second collection, Antiepithalamia & Other Poems of Regret and Resentment, permanently befouled the conjugal bed. His latest—his last?—excursion in verse is The Hate Poems, published last September. Exclusive footage of John reading from The Hate Poems at the Cha Cha Lounge on December 21 follows our email interview, below.
 

 
Is hate really the motivating force behind these poems? Often, disgust seems to get the upper hand.

The title is a cheap ruse designed purely to get attention. ‘Poems of Regret and Resentment’ would have been a more appropriate title but it was used for the previous volume. Nobody is going to pick up a book called The Inertia Variations or Antiepithalamia based on the title. We needed something catchy and declarative with a photograph of a kitten on the cover to get some traction in today’s marketplace.

Regret, resentment, revulsion and resignation are my stock-in-trade. I excel, if anything, at the negative; it just happens to be my lot in life.

I have carved out a little niche for myself, one that nobody else would want.

There’s a thin line between exploring a subject to the point of exhausting it and repeating oneself, and that’s the space this book exists in.

It’s a desperate last bid before retiring from the futile, thankless and masochistic pursuit of poetry. I stopped poeticizing entirely three years ago, on doctor’s orders.

After many years of struggling with form, I finally acknowledged that I had no grasp of plot, character or dialogue, and decided to write a novel, which is how I’ve been squandering the last three years.

When did the relationship monumentalized in these poems end? Has your former partner responded to The Hate Poems?

The poems are not directed at or inspired by anybody in particular. They are based entirely on my observations of other people’s relationships.

The process is more sculptural or surgical, a gradual chipping away at slabs of text and grafting together of fragments. It’s not a natural process. There’s nothing organic about it.

I always employ the Universal ‘I’. Everybody feels some degree of ambivalence towards romantic involvement, so people do relate to this stuff.

Love and hate are not antithetical forces, the opposite of love is indifference.

In 1580, Sir Philip Sidney bemoaned poetry’s fall “from almost the highest estimation of learning. . . to be the laughing-stock of children.” Now it sounds like a pretty good gig, to be the laughing-stock of children. Will poetry ever hit bottom?

Sidney wrote a couple of sonnets that are among the only direct precursors to the mean-spirited love poems in Antiepithalamia and Hate Poems that I was conscious of: “Desire, desire, I have too dearly bought, with price of mangled mind, thy worthless ware,” etc.

As Louis Pipe points out in the introduction: “Ironically, to call an artist or a filmmaker a poet—i.e. ‘Lou Reed is a poet,’ ‘Tarkovsky is a poet of the cinema,’ etc — is to bestow the highest honor upon them, but if one actually is a poet, one is a nobody.”

In his study of Nietzsche, Walter Kaufmann writes: “Riches, honors, and even scholarship are merely futile multiplications of a value that is zero to start with.” But there is no limit to the number of possible multiplications, and each one is different, even if the result is the same. How can the poem honor the haecceity of each individual’s worthless achievement?

To write as impersonally as possible, while bringing as much personal experience to it as possible; to provoke, console or inspire. If a poet is accessible to people who don’t normally read poetry, i.e. everybody, then he disposes of the middle-man, the critic, and is ignored by the literary establishment, which is an ideal predicament. To be accessible to the reader is to be inaccessible to critics.

How was the show with the Flesh Eaters and Mudhoney?

I’ve covered the waterfront, performed at every toilet in this town—at literary gatherings, comedy clubs, and rock shows—offering tragically comic relief, amplified self-deprecation, stand-up poitry.

It’s too poetic for the stand-up crowd and too comedic for the poitry set, so I often end up performing at rock clubs.

Please tell us about the video of the reading embedded below. The audience is either having fun or doing a very good impression.

It channels the audience’s feelings of failure, bitterness, regret, etc, into something entertaining and cathartic. People seem to relate; they laugh when they recognize felicitously-phrased truths. That’s the triumph of failure.

There was a lot of positive energy—love, if you will—in the room that night. Love for Hate.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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02.14.2019
08:57 am
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Oliver Reed as a prototype Alex from ‘A Clockwork Orange’ in ‘These are the Damned’

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At one point, Ken Russell was the favored director for a movie version of A Clockwork Orange supposedly starring the Rolling Stones. What Russell would have made of Anthony Burgess’s novel is a moot point. However, it is more than conceivable that Russell would have cast Oliver Reed as Alex, the sociopathic gang leader who together with his “droogs” unleash acts of opportunistic “ultra-violence,” rather than Mick Jagger. Reed would have been an interesting fit though a bit too old for the role of teenager Alex.

Reed had played such a brooding, nasty, thuggish type before. Two years prior to the publication of Burgess’s novel, Reed played King, a psychopathic prototype-Alex in Joseph Losey’s These are the Damned (aka The Damned). Dressed in a tweed jacket, collar, tie, silk scarf, black leather gloves, and carrying an umbrella with an eight-inch blade hidden in its handle, Reed could easily have been auditioning for the role of Alex. His gang leader King terrorises tourists at a small seaside town, using his sister Joan (Shirley Anne Field) to ensnare unwitting victims for a bit of the “old ultra-violence” or as the film’s trailer puts it:

Black leather, black leather,
Smash, smash, smash.
Black leather, black leather,
Crash, crash, crash.

 
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Reed ready for a bit of the ‘old ultraviolence.’
 
Director Joe Dante has described These are the Damned as “an undeservedly obscure British science-fiction picture…unjustly neglected…[which] is really…one of the key films of the 1960s.” High praise for a low budget feature shot quickly over a few weeks in May 1961. Produced by Hammer Films, the company best known for their hugely successful series of horror films starring Peter Cushing and Christopher starting in 1956 with The Curse of Frankenstein and then Dracula (1958) and the big screen adaptations of TV’s sci-fi classic Quatermass. These are the Damned was an odd fit for the company’s roster with its strange mix of gang violence and disturbing (yet topical) science-fiction plot.

Loosely adapted from the novel The Children of Light by H. L. Lawrence, These are the Damned was directed by blacklisted director Joseph Losey, who’d been kicked out of Hollywood due to his allegiance to the Communist Party, which he’d joined in 1946. Losey considered working in Hollywood as “useless” and his association with the Communist Party made him feel “freer” and “more valuable to society.” Through politics, Losey believed he could make films of substance. What was America’s loss proved to be England’s gain, as Losey directed a string of classic films including a trio in collaboration with Harold Pinter The Servant (1963), Accident (1967), The Go-Between (1971), alongside The Assassination of Trotsky (1972), Brecht’s Galileo (1975), and the opera Don Giovanni (1979).

Losey was never quite happy with These are the Damned. Constrained by studio demands to make a commercial sci-fi flick, Losey “possessed little if any interest in science fiction as a literary mode and consequently threw out pretty much all of the novel, except for the image of the gang of teddy boys, led by King (Oliver Reed).”

He felt the rough framework of the book might act as the vehicle for a commentary upon the proliferation of atomic power and the potential debacle that could lead from its irresponsible use by high-minded technocrats. What more immediately attracted him was the setting he chose for the piece: Weymouth, an out-of-the-way part of England that is bleak, wild and ancient, and associated by the literary with the novels of Thomas Hardy and John Cowper Powys. Losey envisioned the kinds of contrasts that could be drawn between the isolated seascapes that housed the cordoned-off research laboratory overseen by Bernard (Alexander Knox) and the urban hubbub of the town crisscrossed by the motorcycles of King’s cohorts. In his mind, alien as these individuals and their surroundings seemed to be, they shared a common propensity for violence: “one was paralleling different levels of the same society which in effect were, in their own way, doing the same thing: the politicians and the hoodlums.”

What starts out as a film about gang violence and the sexual relationship between Joan and “an innocent American abroad: Simon (MacDonald Carey)” quickly develops into a dark and disturbing tale of the consequences of nuclear war. Joan and Simon discover hidden among the seaside caves groups of children who are being held captive and have been experimented upon and irradiated as a form of inoculation by a sinister secret military organisation in readiness to repopulate the planet after an imminent nuclear war.

The film was highly prescient, tapping into fears made real by the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. However, Hammer and its distributors didn’t know what to do with the film. It was passed uncut by the British Board of Censors in December 1961, but was only released in an edited form first in the UK in 1963 and then in the US as a support feature with further cuts in 1965.

However, it’s Reed who attracts the most interest and almost steals the film from Carey and Field with his turn as the psychopathic King. For a then relatively unknown and inexperienced actor, Reed showed his prowess in front of the camera and his ability to add depth and considerable menace to his role. It was the start of a series of films which have often, until more recently, been overlooked—films like Paranoiac (1963), The System (1964), and The Party’s Over (1965)—which revealed Reed’s talent as an actor which at its best placed him as the equal of Albert Finney, Peter O’Toole, Richard Harris, and Richard Burton.

Happy Birthday Oliver Reed.
 
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Shirley Anne Field.
 
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More production stills, after the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
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02.13.2019
09:43 am
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Goofy 1980s ‘Video Aspirin’ technique might just give you a headache
02.12.2019
12:38 pm
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In the 1980s, the widespread availability of VCR technology represented a palpable opportunity for some. Porno peddlers, schlock horror directors, and innovating game designers all saw new possibilities in VCR distribution. But they were not the only ones. There was also a wave of direct-to-video holistic health merchants looking to improve the lives of middle-class TV viewers all across the country.

Readers perusing the November 1, 1987, issue of The Daily News—less than two weeks after “Black Monday,” the severe dip in the stock market that would mark the beginning of the end of the economic boom associated with “Reaganomics” and would incidentally also inspire a 2019 Showtime series starring Don Cheadle—were confronted with a full-page feature titled “Calling Dr. Video!” which drew attention to a handful of videocassettes competing for inclusion in your “video-medical library” at home. One of them was a curious videocassette called Video Aspirin, the handiwork of a Woodland Hills-based psychologist named Barbara Cheresnick-Rosenbaum (Ph.D.).
 

 
It is possible that the use of the term “aspirin” in the video’s title was a wee bit misleading. I am doubtful that Dr. Cheresnick-Rosenbaum (Ph.D.) herself ever expected her techniques, which used the mnemonic C.A.L.M. (Creating Circulation, Applying Pressure, Life’s Breath, & Muscle Relaxation), to have the instant efficacy with headaches that Bayer’s most famous product does. Rather, it was a way of implanting the idea that yoga-ish meditative practices can have tangible health benefits, a premise that I think few people today would have a big problem with.

I’m not going to say there’s a single thing wrong with the content of the video, which appears to have preceded the eventual popularity of the term “mindfulness,” usage of which hit a dramatic spike right after this video was made. However, something about the video testimonials of that era induced their makers to employ a rather stilted rhetorical style, the primary strategy of which was to enunciate everything in the slowest terms imaginable, and repeat everything a lot. I think they figured VCR owners were just dim. The music, credited to “Aaron” of “Studio West Productions,” constitute an unimpeachable argument in favor of hiring a pro.
 

 
via Obscure Videos

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Watch Mike from ‘Better Call Saul’ in a bizarre 1980s motivational video

Posted by Martin Schneider
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02.12.2019
12:38 pm
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‘No more crying’: The story behind Aimee Mann’s heartbreaking song about Al Jourgensen of Ministry
02.11.2019
10:00 am
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The multi-talented Aimee Mann.
 

The look on her face, it just gives her away, she can’t take any more
Hoist up your white flag, call for a truce
Try separation, we both stand to lose
She looks in your eyes as we say our goodbyes and she says

Say you’re sorry.

—lyrics for “Say You’re Sorry” from Ministry’s 1983 album With Sympathy.

Of the many, many things Al Jourgensen wrote about in his 2013 tell-all autobiography Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen, one concerned his short romantic liaison with Aimee Mann.  In the book, Jourgensen speaks fondly of his time with Mann when they were seeing each other in Boston in the early 80s noting that he was the inspiration for the band’s worldwide smash, “Voices Carry.” Here’s more from Uncle Al on Aimee from page 53 of his autobiography:

“The only good thing about being in Boston was hooking up with Aimee Mann. She split her time between her place and mine where she was living with another guy. What we had was much more than just a fling, and we’ve stayed in touch over the years. She told me the hit song she did with ‘Til Tuesday, “Voices Carry” was about me, which was very flattering.”

In a 2013 MTV interview, Jourgensen was asked about his relationship with Mann, and he reiterated, quite coyly I might add, that “Voices Carry” was about him. Al then seems to lose his memory about what the name of the song is, and admits he’s never even heard it, nor seen the nearly ubiquitous 1984 music video that made ‘Til Tuesday famous. If the idea of Aimee and Al being a thing is all kinds of difficult to wrap your mind around, perhaps you’re just stuck on the Psalm 69 version of Ministry from 1992. The early 80s version of Ministry was, as you may know, much different than when Al and the band had Jesus build that hot rod for them. It was all synths and if you are familiar with the band’s debut With Sympathy, then you probably already know where I’m going with this: pretty much every song on With Sympathy is about shit going sideways with a girl. Also important to note is that after parting ways with her band Young Snakes, Aimee would become a part of Ministry for a short while at the behest of Jourgensen, during which time she said she “learned how to write efficiently” and build her confidence—eventually forming ‘Til Tuesday in the early 80s.
 

Uncle Al in the early 80s.
 
So, does this mean that “Voices Carry” is not about Al? The definitive answer comes from Al’s former flame who, you know, wrote the song:

On November 22, 1985, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel published an interview with Mann conducted by Rolling Stone journalist David Fricke, in which she discussed the inspiration for “Voices Carry.” Originally, Mann penned the song while thinking about a skittish girlfriend of hers which left Epic Records executive Dick Wingate feeling as though Mann was pining away for a girl, giving the song a “gay vibe.” Mann reworked the words, replacing “he” with “she” as she reflected that the song was indeed about a “relationship” she was going through at the time. It’s also been said that Mann drew inspiration from her failed relationship with Michael Hausman, ‘Til Tuesday’s drummer and later Mann’s manager.

In another interview with Fricke on Friday, October 18th, 1985 in Colorado’s Gazette Telegraph Mann plainly stated that the song “No More Crying” on Voices Carry was about Al Jourgensen and “nothing else.”

Continues after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Cherrybomb
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02.11.2019
10:00 am
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Listen up liberal loonies: Right-wing talk show host Wally George’s 1984 novelty record


 
America doesn’t need another Wally George. He was host of the Hot Seat - a reality talk show that ran locally on Southern California cable network KDOC between 1983-1992. Best known as the “Father of Combat Television,” a sensational form of tabloid programming that would eventually be emulated by the likes of Jerry Springer and Morton Downey Jr, Wally was a right-wing, god-fearing extremist with a sleazy white combover and a profound admiration of President Ronald Reagan.
 
Every Saturday night, Wally would invite those with opposing viewpoints—adult entertainers, satanists, punk rockers, human rights advocates—onto his “hot seat” to discuss topics of old-school patriotism, invigorated by a raucous studio audience of suburban teenage degenerates. People like Timothy Leary, rape-rock band The Mentors (led by El Duce), Angelyne, GWAR, Rick Dees, Night Flight’s Stuart Shapiro, and countless other “ludicrous liberal lunatics” have all taken insults from the farcically contrarian Wally George. Revisiting old episodes of the Hot Seat on YouTube, it’s almost painful to find pleasure in its psycho-babble, given the shitty climate of Trump’s America. But for what it’s worth, the show was often brilliant.
 

‘Wally! Wally! Wally!’
 
An incident in 1983 saw special guest Blase Bonpane, an alleged pacifist, overturn Wally’s desk during a crossfire argument on the invasion of Grenada. The incident received national attention and as a result, the Hot Seat gained syndication. It was a period of peak acclaim for the small budget talk show, so Wally George did what many low-brow personalities were doing at the time, he put out a novelty record.
 

 
 
Wal-ly! Wal-ly! was a four song “mini-album,” released in 1984 by Rhino Records. Running at just twelve minutes in length, the record is seething with conservative agenda and nuances of sexism, homophobia, racial stereotyping, and other laughable qualities of nationalist scum. The title track, a “Louie Louie” parody named for the show’s anthemic crowd chants, is a reaffirmation of Wally’s commitment to exposing the liberal conspiracy and making right for our beloved country. What type of music do you think Sean Hannity would make, if given the opportunity?
 
Listen up you liberal loonies, stream Wally George’s 1984 novelty record, after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Bennett Kogon
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02.08.2019
09:24 am
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Kembra Pfahler on 30 years of the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, with exclusive Richard Kern pix!


Photo by Richard Kern, courtesy of Kembra Pfahler

On February 15, Marc Almond, the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, Sateen, Hercules & Love Affair, and DJs Matthew Pernicano and Danny Lethal will perform at the Globe Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. This absolutely mental, once-in-a-lifetime bill will celebrate the second anniversary of Sex Cells, the LA club run by Danny Fuentes of Lethal Amounts.

Because I am so eager to see this show, and because the life of a Dangerous Minds contributor is high adventure, last Sunday I found myself speaking with Karen Black’s leader, the formidable interdisciplinary artist Kembra Pfahler, by phone, after she got out of band rehearsal in NYC. My condensed and edited take on our wide-ranging conversation follows. If I’d noted every time Kembra made me laugh with a deadpan line, the transcript would be twice as long.

Kembra Pfahler: My guitarist is Samoa, he founded the band with me; he’s the original Karen Black guitarist, Samoa from Hiroshima, Japan. And then Michael Wildwood is our drummer, and he played with D Generation and Chrome Locust, and Gyda Gash is our bass player, she plays with Judas Priestess and Sabbathwitch. I just came from band practice, and I am one of those folks that really enjoys going to band practice. Doing artwork and music isn’t like work, and being busy is just such a luxury. It’s been very pleasant preparing for this show we get to honorably do with Marc Almond. We’re so excited!

We played with Marc Almond at the Meltdown Festival that was curated by Ahnoni in 2011. That was a great show with Marc Almond and a lot of other incredible artists. And I have an art gallery that represents me in London now, which is called Emalin, and I had an art exhibit there, and Marc Almond, thankfully, came to it. He’s friends with one of my collaborators called Scott Ewalt.

I’m not a religious person, but I did think I had died and gone to heaven. When artists that you have loved your whole life come to, for some strange reason, see the work that you’re doing, it’s one of the truly best things about doing artwork. I’m very much looking forward to this concert.

Can you tell me what you have planned for the show? I’m sure you want to keep some stuff a surprise, but is the disco dick in the pictures going to be part of the set?

You know, the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black has always made a lot of props and costumes, and I never really just buy things. I’m not much of a consumer. I’m an availabilist, so I usually make the best use of what’s available, and we are going to have a lot of props and costumes in this show that I make myself, and I have art partners in Los Angeles, collaborators. We’re going to have a big grand finale sculpture that’s going to be my Black Statue of Liberty holding the pentagram. That’s a huge pentagram sculpture. I made that with a friend of mine called Brandon Micah Rowe.

That sculpture lives on the West Coast, and it comes out when I go to the beach and go surfing. I usually take the Black Statue of Liberty with me, ‘cause it’s a great photo opportunity on the beach. And the last time I was photographing the Black Statue of Liberty—‘cause of course I have several—I took this Black Statue of Liberty in a truck and drove down to Sunset Beach, right at the end of Sunset Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway, and I just have a great memory of almost drowning with the Black Statue of Liberty. It was very much like reenacting Planet of the Apes. That was the impetus for the Statue of Liberty; I’ve always loved the last scene in Planet of the Apes where Charlton Heston realizes that the future is just a disastrous, anti-utopian, dead planet. Kind of similar to what’s happening to us now.
 

Photo by Brandon Micah Rowe
 
[laughs] Yeah, it’s uncomfortably close to the present situation.

To me, it’s very close. I mean, film has always been very prophetic, to me. Orson Welles always talks about magic, and historical revisionism, and truth, and the ways that film can actually inform you of the truth in politics, mythological truth, cultural truths. And I’ve always learned the most just by watching films. That’s why I named the band Karen Black, because I was so educated by the films of Karen Black. I know that sounds sort of wonky, but what I’m getting at is I love listening to Orson Welles speak about magic and truth and film as a way to articulate that truth.

Are you thinking about F for Fake?

I’m thinking about the little tricks and happy accidents that occur in film that are what Orson Welles spoke to. I mean, Kenneth Anger talked about magic and film constantly, and light, and Orson Welles just had a different articulation of the same side of the coin.

I grew up in Santa Monica, so I always loved Kenneth Anger; I was always happy that I lived near the Camera Obscura on Ocean Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. I thought, I don’t fit in with any of these other Californians, but Kenneth Anger was here at the Camera Obscura. I can’t be doing everything wrong.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and my family was in the film business, and I left for New York because I wasn’t accepted by my family and the community, because I was interested in music, and it wasn’t fashionable to be a goth or be into punk when I was in high school. So I moved to New York. But no one was going to New York when I first moved there. I really just moved to New York to be as contrary as possible, and I knew no one would follow me at the time.

You moved to New York in ‘79 or thereabouts, right?

Yeah, I did.

I think the LA, probably, that you were leaving was more, I don’t know, provincial. . . I can imagine the appeal that New York would have had in 1979.

Well, also, the thing was that I really wanted to be an artist, and I got accepted to School of Visual Arts when I was in 11th grade at Santa Monica High School. That’s why, really. The Los Angeles that I was familiar with wasn’t provincial at all. I mean, there’s been generations and generations of weird Los Angeles. My grandparents met on the baseball field: my grandmother was playing softball, my grandfather played baseball, and my father ended up being a surfer, and I’ve always had exposure to a really incredible kind of lifestyle that I think people mostly just dream about. Like, Beach Boys songs at Hollywood Park race track in the morning and surfing in the afternoon. If you think about being born into this time when the Beach Boys and the Stones and the Beatles are playing, and then Parliament-Funkadelic’s playing, and then. . . just the most incredible exposure to music and art and nature, surfing even, surf culture. I mean, when most people are born in countries where they can’t even eat dirt for breakfast, I was born in the most incredible place, that I’ll never forget.

It’s such a huge part of my work, I named my interdisciplinary music and art class at Columbia University “The Queen’s Necklace.” Because when I was a child, I used to meditate on all the beach cities. Starting from Zuma Beach, I would meditate on the cities by saying: [chants] “Zuma, Malibu, Topanga, Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Venice, Torrance, Palos Verdes”. . . I’d say all of the cities that represented the Santa Monica Bay area. That was in my field of vision, that was what I saw every day. All those piers, all those waves, and all of the mythology that I grew up with was all about beach culture.

So Los Angeles, I feel closer to writers like John Fante than anyone else. Do you have books in your library that you’ve had your entire adult life that you would say represent your thinking, more so than any other books? Do you have your favorite, favorite books? One or two books that always are with you.

Oh my God, I’d have to think about it. 

I do. I mention that because one of them is Ask the Dust. Another one is David J. Skal’s Cultural History of Horror.

What’s that?

It’s a great book that talks about the horror film genre being quite prophetic, and it’s kind of what I was trying to speak about, as far as how film and horror kind of teach us about the future. That’s one book, and also Klaus Theweleit’s Male Fantasies, Volume 1 and 2 is important to me. Do you know that book?

I do not. Is it like a case study?

It’s a case study of men’s relationship to women during World War II and pre-World War II. It’s about men’s relationships to the women in their lives, in Germany, particularly.

Continues after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Oliver Hall
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02.07.2019
01:18 pm
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Stellar unreleased music from Michael Rother of krautrock greats Harmonia and NEU! (a DM premiere)
02.07.2019
08:45 am
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Michael Rother
 
My favorite of the so-called German “krautrock” groups from the 1970s has always been NEU!. The band was formed by Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger after they left an early version of Kraftwerk, and Rother’s magical, rhythmic guitar work is a big part of their appeal. During the mid ‘70s, he hooked up with the members of Cluster to form Harmonia, another exceptional ‘70s German outfit; Brian Eno was a big Harmonia fan, and ended up collaborating with them for a period. In 1977, Michael Rother’s debut solo album, Flammende Herzen, was released. The record’s atmospheric music is like a soundtrack for a film that didn’t exist—yet. The following year, a movie, inspired by and including music from the album, appeared in West German theaters.
 
Flammende Herzen
 
Michael Rother’s first four solo records, Flammende Herzen, Sterntaler (1978), Katzenmusik (1979), and Fernwärme (1982)—all solid efforts—will be included on his forthcoming box set, Solo. The collection also includes a disc of previously unreleased film scores by Rother, entitled Soundtracks, plus an LP, only available with the vinyl edition of the box, Remixes & Live.
 
Katzenmusik era
A ‘Katzenmusik’ era image.

The scores on Soundtracks were composed for the films Houston (2013) and The Robbers (2015). Dangerous Minds is happy to have for you the premiere of our favorite piece from The Robbers.
 

 
We asked Michael a few questions via email.

How did you get involved with The Robbers project?:

Michael Rother: In 2013, I was approached by an agent working for the film company that produced The Robbers. They asked me whether I would be interested in contributing a score to the film. I don´t know why the company decided to reach out to me but I was definitely interested. Just a few months earlier I attended the Sundance Film Festival where the film Houston was premiered, for which I had created the score a year before. The world of film has always inspired me. One of the two directors of The Robbers, Pol Cruchten, sent me a rough cut. I liked the drama and so I felt thrilled by the challenge of creating music for The Robbers.

How did you go about composing the score?:

Michael Rother: Reflecting on the film as a whole and on specific scenes, some music sketches/memos in my archives came to my mind, and I thought they would work well with the atmosphere of the story. I chose a selection of basic ideas for four different scenes and presented my ideas to the director and his editor who came to visit me in Hamburg. They were happy with my general approach to the film, and things moved forward very quickly. I then spent about 6 months working on the score, adding new recordings and shaping the themes for the individual scenes. It was an inspiring process right until the final stage when I joined the director and his team in Brussels for the audio mixing sessions.

For the LP Soundtracks, which is included in my new box set Solo, I enjoyed reworking the main themes of the score to The Robbers extensively so that they made musical sense on their own and when disconnected from the visuals/story of the film.
 
The Robbers
 
What’s next for you?:

Michael Rother: At my concert at Under the Bridge in London on 05 April 2019, I will perform my complete second solo album Sterntaler live for the very first time ever. Transferring the individual tracks from my 24-track recording machine to the computer a few weeks ago, I was yet once again overwhelmed by the amazing work Conny Plank contributed mixing the album and by Jaki Liebezeit´s incredible drumming. 


                                                                *****

Solo will be released on February 22nd by Groenland Records. Pre-order the box via Groenland’s site, or get it on Amazon (the LP version is here, and the CD set is here).
 
Michael Rother 1976
Michael Rother, 1976.
 
Kraftwerk days
Kraftwerk days, c. 1971.
 
NEU 1972
NEU!, 1972.
 
Harmonia and Brian Eno
Harmonia with Brian Eno, 1976.

We’ll leave you with video of Michael Rother’s 2015 appearance at artFREQ in Copenhagen. For this performance, he was joined by Hans Lampe, who played drums on NEU ‘75, and Franz Bargmann.

Fantastic audio quality on this one.
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Krautrock legend Michael Rother talks about the new Harmonia box set, plus exclusive footage!

Posted by Bart Bealmear
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02.07.2019
08:45 am
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‘Hope for Happiness’: The Soft Machine live in Paris, 1967

04softmaclp.jpg
 
The Soft Machine line-up was always kinda fluid but didn’t fully set until Kevin Ayers (bass, vocals) joined Robert Wyatt (drums, vocals), Daevid Allen (guitar), and Mike Ratledge (organ) sometime in the summer of 1966. Wyatt and Allen had played together in the Daevid Allen Trio in 1963, before Wyatt, Ayers, Ratledge and Hugh Hopper formed the Wilde Flowers which would later include members of Caravan.

The Soft Machine (always the Soft Machine until 1970) took their name from the book by William Burroughs. Allen had stayed at the “Beat Hotel” in Paris when Burroughs, Ginsberg, Gysin, and co. were in residency. He had been “the friendly straight with those guys.” He took drugs, made music (composing the soundtrack for a short film version of Burroughs’ novel The Ticket That Exploded), and soaked up the free-wheeling bohemian lifestyle. By the time he hooked-up with Wyatt, Ratledge and Ayers, Allen was a seasoned musician, poet, beatnik, and proto-hippie traveler.

Ayers arrived in England from Malaya at the age of twelve to attend “any school that would have me.” This turned out to be a high school in Canterbury called the Simon Langton Grammar, where he met Wyatt and Ratledge. Wyatt was into a range of music from jazz to classical, while Ratledge starting to experiment with tape loops. This potent mix of music and experimentation found its full expression in the Soft Machine.
 
01softmac4.jpg
The Soft Machine as a four-piece with Daevid Allen.
 
The band moved through various lineups before settling on the foursome of Allen, Ayers, Wyatt, and Ratledge. The band were resident at the legendary underground club UFO alongside house band Pink Floyd. There was a rivalry between the two until the Floyd trumped their opposition with the pop single “Arnold Layne.” The Softs were never as commercial (though they did release what is arguably the first psychedelic single “Love Makes Sweet Music” in February 1967) as they preferred live improvisation and experimental sounds. Theirs was truly the music of the underground and a sound that would see them rightly hailed as “one of the more influential bands of their era, and certainly one of the most influential underground ones.”

According to Allen, the Softs first gig as a quartet was at the launch party for IT (the International Times) which quickly turned into a happening when Yoko Ono joined the band on stage and encouraged the audience “to touch each other in the dark.” A motorcycle was brought onto the stage and a microphone placed against the cylinder for “a good noise.” According to IT publisher Barry Miles in his memoir In the Sixties:

They also gave young women rides around the outer rim [of the venue] the Roundhouse on [the bike], bumping through the dirt and debris, raising clouds of dust.

The Softs were under Chas Chandler’s management, ex-bass player with the Animals who was also manager to Jimi Hendrix. Through Chandler, the Softs toured Europe and as support to Hendrix in America. However, after a tour of France, Allen was refused re-entry into England as he had an Australian passport and no visa. Allen quit the band, returned to Paris and set about forming the prog rock Gong. After recording and releasing their brilliant and seminal eponymous-titled debut album in 1968, Ayers quit the band to pursue a solo career. That was almost the end of the Softs, but due to contractual reasons Wyatt, Ratledge and Hugh Hopper reformed the band to release Volume Two in 1969. Since then, Soft Machine has continued under different line-ups (though lacking its original members) right up to the present day.

In October 1967, Ayers, Wyatt, and Ratledge were filmed performing “A Certain Kind,” “Save Yourself,” “Priscilla,” “Lullabye Letter,” and “Hope For Happiness” for the French TV show Ce Soir On Danse, which was broadcast in August 1968.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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02.06.2019
08:08 am
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