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The Boston Typewriter Orchestra is better than Bachman-Turner Overdrive
03.12.2019
02:00 pm
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Somewhere Tom Hanks is weeping. For when the Boston Typewriter Orchestra performs, the primary musical technique consists of beating holy hell out of a bunch of vintage typewriters. The filmic embodiment of Chesley Sullenberger is known to be such a fan of old typewriters that he recently published a moderately typewriter-themed collection of stories called Uncommon Type, which (of course) was written on a vintage typewriter. 

The Boston Typewriter Orchestra doesn’t collect typewriters—it punishes them. In their promotional materials they claim (boast?) that typewriters do not last longer than two years once they have been recruited as instruments for the waggish collective.

The combo, which occasionally calls itself “BTO,” has been in existence since 2004 and has a 2008 album and a 2017 10-inch to its name. It has never been idle, performing multiple times in every calendar year since then; despite logging dozens of performances in the New England area, they have never ventured further south or further west than Washington, DC. That changes next month when they play Phyllis’ Musical Inn in Chicago.
 

 
As will readily be imagined, the BTO’s primary mode of music is percussive, although they do get a lot of mileage out of the damned bell that chimes whenever the typist reaches the end of a line. (Then again, bells are percussion instruments too—Wikipedia’s description of a bell runs “a directly struck idiophone percussion instrument,” ahem.) Suffice to say that with a gizmo as complicated as an old typewriter, there are a lot of solid moving parts to fiddle with—you can bash the keys, bang on the housing, crank the platen around, slam the carriage back, and (as mentioned) twiddle on the bells.

Who are the relevant comps for a band like this? The BTO strikes me as a hipster’s cheeky version of a jug band, although I can see an argument for Einstürzende Neubauten. Visually the gang tends to adopt the garb of a midcentury office drone, meaning lots of jackets and ties.

It’ll be a while before the Boston Typewriter Orchestra passes the “other” BTO in terms of sales. I refer of course to Winnipeg’s greatest contribution to boogie rock, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, who released five gold albums during the 1970s. When are the typists going to release their version of “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”?

In 2017 the group released a 10-inch (the title is adapted from George Michael) called Termination Without Prejudice, Volume 1. Etched in the runout of side 1 is the phrase “HOW MANY WORDS PER MINUTE?” You can buy it on Bandcamp.
 

 
Here’s Termination Without Prejudice, Volume 1, available on Bandcamp:

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The Vienna Vegetable Orchestra covers Kraftwerk’s ‘Radio-Activity’

Posted by Martin Schneider
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03.12.2019
02:00 pm
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‘F*ck the Army’: When Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland toured their anti-Vietnam War show, 1972
03.12.2019
08:33 am
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Bob Hope was late. Ten minutes late. But it was a ten minutes that probably saved his life. Hope was en route to entertain US troops stationed in Vietnam in December 1964. These troops were officially documented by the White House as being there in an “advisory capacity,” which gave Hope the opening for his show:

Hello, advisors! I asked Secretary McNamara if we could come and he said, ‘Why not, we’ve tried everything else!’ No, really, we’re thrilled to be here in Sniper Valley.

Hope’s flight had been rescheduled from landing at Saigon to the US air base at Bien Hoa. Saigon was considered too dangerous. The Viet Cong might just take a pot shot at the comedian. In fact, it turned to be something far more deadly.

After the show, Hope was to head off by car to the Caravelle Hotel in Saigon, but as his cue cards, on which his jokes were written, had become mixed up, his assistant, Barney McNulty was tasked with sorting them out. This delayed Hope and his entourage, which included Jill St. John and singer, former Miss Oklahoma and well-known homophobe Anita Bryant, by ten minutes. As they were driving to their destination, a car bomb exploded outside the Brinks Hotel just about a block from the Caravelle. If he’d been on time, Hope and his crew would have been toast. Instead, they got a ringside seat of the blast and its devastation which killed two, injured 60, and destroyed the Brinks Hotel.

Hope toured US military bases in Vietnam from 1964-1972. His intention was to boost the soldiers’ moral, and let them know the folks back home were thinking about them. His intentions may have been honorable but to many back home, Hope came to represent the folly of America’s involvement in Vietnam. It led to the saying “Where there’s Hope there’s death.”
 
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In response to Hope’s “hawkish” pro-war tours of Vietnam, Jane Fonda started touring army bases in 1970 giving voice to the many dissenting soldiers and veterans who were against the war. She then teamed up with Donald Sutherland in 1971 to perform with a troupe of entertainers under the name F.T.A. which was sometimes known as the “Free Theater Associates” or more (in)famously as “Fuck the Army.” The idea for the tour came from dissident Howard Levy who wanted “to stage an anti-war response to the touring shows of Bob Hope, who thought the war was just peachy.”

These F.T.A. shows originally came out of the G.I. coffeehouse movement—“the loose network of coffeehouses that had sprung up around U.S. military bases as a way for GIs to plug into the movement in the U.S. against the Vietnam War.” The group performed satirical sketches and songs opposing the war. Though they faced objections from some senior military personnel, F.T.A. managed to perform at military bases in Fort Bragg, Okinawa, the Philippines, Japan, and all along the Pacific Rim. Fonda and Sutherland produced a movie documenting these shows which was released in 1972 but was “mysteriously” pulled from screenings not long after its release due to fierce criticism from politicians, the media, and (surprise, surprise) top army brass.

Directed by Francine Parker, who was one of the first female members of the Directors Guild of America, F.T.A. documented Fonda, Sutherland, folk singer Len Chandler, singers Holly Near and Rita Martinson, writer/actor Michael Alaimo, and comedian Paul Mooney performing a variety of skits and songs including Sutherland as a sports announcer describing an attack on a Vietnamese village as if it were a ballgame and Fonda as Pat Nixon. This was all interspersed with interviews from many of the men and women involved in the war—including African-American GIs describing the racism they faced in the field.
 
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The film is a bit rough around the edges but is an important testament to the many soldiers (and performers) who opposed the war in Vietnam. The film ends with Sutherland reading from Dalton Trumbo’s 1938 novel Johnny Got His Gun:

Remember this well you people who plan for war. Remember this you patriots, you fierce ones, you spawners of hate, you inventors of slogans. Remember this as you have never remembered anything else in your lives. We are men of peace, we are men who work and we want no quarrel. But if you destroy our peace, if you take away our work, if you try to range us one against the other, we will know what to do. If you tell us to make the world safe for democracy we will take you seriously and by god and by Christ we will make it so. We will use the guns you force upon us, we will use them to defend our very lives, and the menace to our lives does not lie on the other side of a nomansland that was set apart without our consent it lies within our own boundaries here and now we have seen it and we know it.

 
Watch it, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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03.12.2019
08:33 am
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Cherie or Carrie?: Rare photos of Cherie Currie of The Runaways drenched in blood
03.11.2019
08:42 am
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Vocalist for The Runaways Cherie Currie on stage at the Starwood in West Hollywood covered in fake blood. This and the other photographs in this post were taken by veteran rock/nature/surfer photographer Brad Dawber. Dawber has generously allowed Dangerous Minds to publish his rare photos of Currie. Use of these copyrighted images without consent will get you in trouble.
 

I’m a blond bombshell, and I wear it well
Your momma says you go straight to hell
I’m sweet sixteen and a rebel queen
I look real hot in my tight blue jeans

—lyrics from “Dead End Justice”

It’s well known that The Runaways vocalist Cherie Currie drew inspiration from David Bowie for her own stage persona, as did the rest of the band who aligned themselves image-wise with other musicians like Suzi Quatro and even Gene Simmons.  Photographer Brad Dawber was at the Starwood one summer night in 1976 and would capture Currie and The Runaways performance during which Currie would end up covered in fake blood. Here’s more from Dawber on that night and others he spent at the Starwood:

“Rodney Bingenheimer introduced the band that night. After the show, we went to Bingenheimer’s English Disco, and it was another scene there. Band guys, groupies, wannabes, etc. Sometimes Iggy Pop would make an appearance.”

As far as the theatrics behind the bloodbath are concerned, here’s a little backstory on the concept: During the band’s set, Currie “pretended” to hurt her ankle during the song “Dead End Justice.” Jackie Fox (Fuchs) and Lita Ford then used their guitars to “shoot” Currie, following up the fictional assault by “stomping” and “kicking” Currie while she was lying on the stage floor. During the for-show skirmish Currie would periodically puncture the blood packs she was armed with, and when she finally stood up after her beating, she looked like something out of a horror movie. The girls pulled off this show-stopper pretty regularly during “Dead End Justice” but nobody ever managed to capture it as vividly as Dawber.

The images shot by Dawber during Currie’s complete transition from ass-kicking vocalist to blood-drenched vixen are extremely rare, and it appears no video footage of the show that night exists. However, as it has been said before, sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words—and Dawber’s NSFW photos of Currie looking more like horror-film icon Carrie (played by actress Sissy Spacek in the film of the same name) at the Starwood absolutely fall into this category. Interestingly, Carrie was released in November the same year as these photos were taken—maybe Brian De Palma caught one of The Runaway’s shows during their blood splatter phase? A girl can dream about such things being true, can’t she?

Many thanks to Brad Dawber for letting Dangerous Minds share his incredible photos of Currie below. Dawber has been taking photographs for decades, and I highly recommend checking out his site and Instagram to see more, as many of his other images of Debbie Harry and other notables are available for purchase.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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03.11.2019
08:42 am
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The Scorpions’ stealthy, stellar Sweet covers on scarce ‘75 single
03.08.2019
08:39 am
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Scorpions Sweet collage
 
The German hard rock/heavy metal band, the Scorpions, has existed in one form or another since 1965. A decade in, they were still years away from achieving mainstream success. In 1975, the group covered two tracks by the popular glam act, Sweet, with the Scorpions using an alias when the recordings were released on a 45.

The single, credited to the Hunters, was put out by the German label, Colorit Records, and was distributed in that country by Electrola, a subsidiary of EMI. The covers of “Fox on the Run” and “Action” were sung by Scorpions vocalist, Klaus Meine, in the German language, with the titles changed to “Fuchs Geh’ Voran,” and “Wenn es Richtig Losgeht,” respectively. According to Wikipedia, the German lyrics for “Fuchs Geh’ Voran” concern a literal fox being pursued by fur hunters.
 
The Hunters
 
Though there are no personnel credits listed anywhere on the record, it’s believed the 45 was produced by Dieter Dierks, who first hooked up with the band for the Scorpions third LP, In Trance, which also came out in 1975. Dierks was at the helm for a number of subsequent Scorpions records, including their international breakthrough album, Love at First Sting (1984).

As there’s very little information online concerning the Hunters single, I’m going to go out on a limb here and speculate a bit. Regarding the purpose of the release and why it wasn’t put out as a Scorpions record: the original Sweet recordings of the songs had been big hits in Germany, and the 45 was an attempt to capitalize on that success by issuing cover versions specifically for the German speaking market; the project was a way for the pre-fame Scorps to make a few bucks on the side, and was never intended to be released under their established moniker (the band was signed to RCA, so they had to use an alias, regardless). 
 
The Scorpions 1
 
One thing that’s certain is that the single failed to sell. The 45 is now quite rare, and when it does show up, usually sells in the $250 range. Currently, there are a few copies listed on Discogs.

Keep reading after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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03.08.2019
08:39 am
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‘Blast’: Kool Keith remixed by Planet B, featuring a member of the Locust (a music video premiere!)
03.07.2019
09:01 am
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Kool Keith’s ‘Blast’ b/w ‘Uncrushable’ on Three One G

If you’re looking for one of those doctors who has taken the Hippocratic oath, Kool Keith may not be your man. “Fuck it, he’s dead,” Keith’s alter ego, Dr. Octagon, pronounced on his 1996 debut, as his latest patient expired of cirrhosis of the eye and a horse wandered the halls of the hospital. Truth be told, the bedside manner of his alter alter ego, Dr. Dooom, was not very comforting either. Doing harm was pretty much his bag.

But if you’re looking for a barber surgeon of the medieval period, who’ll do you for a bloodletting, a leeching and an enema—a specialist in taking apart who still needs some practice putting back together—no one will slice and dice you like Kool Keith. I think that’s why the line “Do not be bougie with the facelift” on “Blast” chills me to the bone: can you imagine how your face would look after a few hours in the operating room with Kool Keith? Emerging from anesthesia, feeling the new apertures for undiscovered bodily functions with which he’s pimped your head? Looking in the mirror through the eyes of an alligator and a shark? As Keith feeds you sashimi cuts of your own brain?
 

Heather Hunter Photography
 
Speaking of horrors, one of the best performances I have ever seen in my life was Kool Keith’s set at the 2004 Coachella Festival, the only year I attended the Southland’s annual historical reenactment of a dysentery outbreak in a Civil War infirmary. About 20 minutes in, Keith stopped rhyming and started counting: “one. . . two. . . three. . . four. . . five. . .” He counted to, I think, 27 before making an abrupt exit (“Fuck it, Coachella, we out!”—mic drop) that left his nonplussed hype man swaying on the stage, eyes darting anxiously from side to side.

So I’m pleased to introduce the music video below, a short slasher movie dramatizing Planet B’s (i.e., Justin Pearson and Luke Henshaw’s) remix of “Blast” from Kool Keith’s new EP on Three One G. (The record concludes with a mashup of “Uncrushable” and “Church of the Motherfuckers” by Dead Cross, the supergroup with members of Faith No More, Slayer and Retox.) Unless you work in a charnel house, it is NSFW.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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03.07.2019
09:01 am
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That time Elton John crashed a Stooges show wearing a gorilla outfit
03.06.2019
08:19 am
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You don’t normally think of Elton John and Iggy Pop together, but the two highly expressive musicians do know each other and did enjoy at least one noteworthy incident, when Elton pranked the Stooges by dressing up as a gorilla and interrupting a gig halfway through, without any prior notice. Remarkably, the prank came about as part of what seems to have been a serious bid to sign the Stooges to Elton’s Rocket label, which ultimately proved unsuccessful.

The year was 1973. The venue, Richard’s Club, in Atlanta, Georgia. According to diehard Stooges fans Per Nilsen and Jim Lahde, in mid-October 1973 the Stooges played Richard’s on several dates over the course of about a week—it’s worth noting that the energetic Stooges were playing two shows a day during this stretch! Elton was in the middle of his own rather more remunerative U.S. tour at the same time. On October 19 Elton John played the Georgia Coliseum in Athens, Georgia, but that show actually occurred a few days after the Stooges were done in Atlanta. It seems likely that Elton flew in on a free day expressly to prank the Stooges.

The legendary Detroit-based magazine Creem seems to have been involved with the prank on some level, and the whole thing appears to have been at least partly motivated by a desire on the part of Elton to sign the Stooges to his label, the Rocket Record Company, the lineup of which featured Cliff Richard, Neil Sedaka, Colin Blunstone of the Zombies, and the Dutch band Solution.

There’s been plenty written about this so I’ll turn the topic over to the more accredited chroniclers.

Let’s start with Paul Trynka, whose Iggy Pop: Open Up and Bleed tells the story as follows:
 

Several of the band’s fans, including Ben Edmonds of Creem, conspired to raise their morale with endorsement by Elton John. Elton was sweeping across United States on a hugely successful stadium tour that significantly outgrossed the performances by his friend and rival David Bowie, with whom Elton was engaged in semi-friendly sniping. Elton decided to signal his support for the Stooges, plus his own general zaniness, by renting a gorilla suit and planning a one-ape stage invasion during the Stooges’ stint.

Creem had prepared a photographer for the stunt. Unfortunately no one had prepared Iggy. Indeed, the previous night he had disappeared off with the usual local “Rich Bitch,” to use the Stooges’ term of endearment. Early in the morning she brought him back to the band’s hotel unconscious; she’d gobbled down her entire supply of Quaaludes. Scott Asheton and a friend of the band, Doug Currie, were called to lift his dead weight out of her Corvette; carrying him into the hotel, they dropped him and were overcome with a giggling fit, seeing him peacefully sleeping, sprawled over a spiky Mediterranean bush.

Jim was still hardly conscious that evening when Doug and Scotty carried him into the club (“God knows what the poor club owner thought!” laughs Currie), and after a quick discussion of what to do, Doug announced that he had some speed. James Williamson managed to find a syringe, and they duly shot their singer full of methamphetamine sulphate in order to get him onto his feet.

Unsurprisingly, during the performance for which Elton had planned his jolly jape, Iggy was “unusually stoned to the point of being barely ambulatory, so it scared the hell out of me,” he says. For a couple of seconds, as Elton emerged from the wings in his gorilla suit, Iggy thought he was hallucinating, or else a real gorilla was raiding the stage. The Creem photograph documenting the event is hilarious, showing James Williamson transfixing the uppity ape with a malevolent glare that signals, he says, his intent to “take him out. He lucked out, because he was smart enough to take his head off to let people know who he was, just in time.”

Once Elton had discarded the ape mask and revealed his cheery face, Iggy realized what was happening, and he danced around with the fur-clad Elton for a song or so. The event was duly plugged in Creem, with Iggy telling the magazine “Elton’s a swell guy.” (Off the record, he would tell people that Elton only pulled the stunt because he wanted to get in tough-guy guitarist James Williamson’s pants.) Yet, although there would be ongoing discussions with Elton’s manager John Reid, and his record imprint, Rocket, the encounter failed to lift the Stooges’ spirits, and soon the band was becoming more obviously frazzled.

 
Here’s the picture of the moment, as it appeared in Creem just a few weeks later:

 

 

This next bit comes from Gimme Danger: The Story of Iggy Pop, by Joe Ambrose:

 

At a Stooges show in Atlanta, Elton John showed up with his pop star retinue, commandeered The Stooges dressing room, and walked on stage wearing a gorilla suit. Iggy was in pretty bad shape when Elton chose to join him. He’d spent the previous night taking a mountain of downers and sleeping in the shrubbery. When he woke up in the bushes he couldn’t speak a word. “A doctor had to shoot me full of methedrine just so I could talk,” he said. “I was seeing triple and had to hold on to the microphone stand to support myself. Suddenly this gorilla walks out from backstage and holds me up in the air while I’m still singing. I was out of my mind with fear. I thought it was a real gorilla.”

Chris Ehring: “I went back to the dressing room when someone tried to physically stop me. I said, ‘This is our dressing room!’ Someone from the club said, ‘Elton John is in there.’ ‘Big fucking deal! What’s he doing in there?’ I go in and there’s Elton John getting into a gorilla outfit. ‘He’s going to go up on stage and sing with Iggy.’ I just laughed. ‘Fine. Maybe I should warn the boys?’ ‘Oh, no, she wants it to be a surprise. He wants to come out during ‘Search and Destroy’. He was supposed to scare Iggy! Scare Iggy in this gorilla suit? ‘You don’t seem to understand what these guys are about. They are from Detroit. They’re not going to let you up on the stage!’ Moments later, out of the dressing room comes Elton dressed as a gorilla, and he goes up on the stage. The band all look at him. ‘Who is this?’ James looks at me and shrugs his shoulders. Iggy looks over and walks away. The gorilla starts chasing him, pushing him away. It’s really bad.”

“Elton’s a swell guy,” gushed Iggy after the incident. “Be nice to see this mutual admiration turn into something more concrete,” said Creem.

After the performance out and told Creem: “I simply can’t understand why he’s not a huge star.”

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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03.06.2019
08:19 am
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The horror film that inspired Billy Idol’s ‘Eyes Without a Face’ & how he almost lost his eyeballs
03.05.2019
08:20 am
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Billy Idol.
 
Today on Dangerous Minds I present to you two of my favorite things; a vintage, upper-tier European horror film paired with the punk rock icon Billy Idol. The film in question, Les Yeux Sans Visage (Eyes Without a Face) is quite horrifying, though its director George Franju (the co-founder of Cinémathèque Française, an organization that holds one of the largest archives of film documents and film-related objects in the world), didn’t see it that way. Instead, he classified his film as a story revolving around grief and despair, and what can happen once one has reached the very depths of both valleys. Franju’s film was based on the 1959 book Les Yeux Sans Visage by Jean Redon for which Redon had already written a screenplay. Redon’s adaptation would be augmented by French fiction crime author Pierre Boileau, and the film would make its debut in Paris on March 2, 1960. When it was shown at the Edinburgh Film Festival later in the year, it was reported that seven people in the theater fainted during the surgery scene—and if you have seen Les Yeux Sans Visage yourself, this is entirely understandable.

One of my favorite pieces of horror history inspired by this film concerns that maverick of the horror genre, John Carpenter. Actress Edith Scob wore several different masks in Eyes Without a Face which were cast from her own face. Some were created for the many close-up scenes of Scob in the movie which, according to Scob felt like “thin skin glued around the eyes and lips” as well as a thicker mask which could be more easily removed. Carpenter has said the mask worn by Scob played a very important part of his concept for maniac slasher Michael Myers and the mask he wore in 1978’s Halloween.

Others have also been inspired by the film, including Billy Idol who penned what would become his first top-ten hit in the U.S., “Eyes Without a Face” in 1983. Now that the song is perhaps rolling around in your head, the dreamy words cooed in the chorus by Perri Lister (Idol’s girlfriend at the time) are sung in French “les yeux sans visage” and this is a super obvious hat-tip to Franju’s frightening film. The accompanying video for “Eyes Without a Face” was shot in a mere 48 hours during which Idol neglected to take out his contacts. Here’s more from Billy and his actual eye emergency (as told in his fantastic 2014 book Dancing with Myself):

“Back in the 80s I wore hard contact lenses, and after shooting “Eyes Without a Face” for 48 hours, I flew to the next gig in Tucson, Arizona. At that point, I had been wearing them for 36 hours. I hadn’t slept that much—if at all. While waiting for the sound check, I went outside to lay down and passed out on the cool grass outside the college venue. I still hadn’t removed my contacts, until, without warning, I was awakened rather rudely by a sheriff pointing a gun directly at me. I could only hear his voice distant and hollow in my head. When I opened my eyes, I could only make out the outline of his weapon, while tears came pouring from my eyes. Something was wrong! The pain was so intense, and my eyes were gushing. They rushed me to a hospital, and my eyes remained bandaged for two days until my corneas had healed.”

Hearing Idol talk about the pain he was in when his contacts fused with his corneas churns my gut much like the film which inspired his kind-of-creepy hit song. Criterion released a digitally-restored Blu-ray of Les Yeux Sans Visage in 2013, and it is full of some great extras including insightful vintage interviews with Franju, and a recent interview with Edith Scob. As I’d hate to spoil the film for anyone, I’ll refrain from posting images from Les Yeux Sans Visage. Instead, you can watch the trailer which should be plenty enough to entice you into seeing this film as well as footage of Idol, Steve Stevens, and Perri Lister looking good while lip-synching “Eyes Without a Face” during the Saint Vincent Estate music event in Italy in 1984.
 
Watch after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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03.05.2019
08:20 am
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Mingering Mike was an imaginary soul singer who dreamt of superstardom
03.04.2019
08:07 am
Topics:
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Mingering Mike dreamed of making it big. The D.C. native came into his own during a period of turmoil in the nation’s capital, where drugs, crime, and political frustration ruled the streets around his home. His mother died from leukemia when he was six and without a father figure present, Mike’s oldest sister Cathy raised him and his siblings when she was just a teenager. Mike was shy growing up, still is today. He preferred to watch the world go by at his window. It was a challenging upbringing, but he had his music.
 
Mike still hasn’t learned to play a musical instrument. Cathy was part of two spiritual groups and would often sing at home. Mike liked to sing, too. He performed his songs in the bathroom where the acoustics were better. Oftentimes family members would contribute to his original compositions, lending an additional voice to mimic instrumentation. To date, Mike has written over four-thousand original songs, but only a few rough demos were ever recorded. When I spoke with him, Mike told me that he wants a hypnotist to help him recall some of his vast, forgotten discography.
 

Mingering Mike’s “There’s Nothing Wrong with You Baby.” Recorded in 1969
 
Music of the District’s African American community flourished in the Sixties. At the center of it was the historic Howard Theatre, where Mike’s older brother was a manager. The time Mike spent watching performers at the Howard, along with an early-age obsession with record collecting, led him to fantasize about the life of a famous musician. So he decided to become one.
 

 
With limited resources, Mike created his first album in 1968; the appropriately titled Sit’tin by the Window. The record was the first of many chart-topping hits, jumpstarting a prolific music career that would last Mike ten years. When he called it quits in 1977 to get a real job, Mingering Mike had self-released over fifty full-lengths on record labels he also founded. Of these releases were smash-hit live albums, greatest hits compilations, a tribute to Bruce Lee, a benefit for sickle cell anemia, and soundtracks to his many films. That’s right - Mike wrote, directed, and starred in over nine feature length films. He also produced and collaborated on legendary works by artists like Joseph War, Audio Andre, and the Outsiders. The ensemble traveled the world together and performed to sold out crowds.
 
It was a music career of infamy, but the thing was, Mike never actually released any music. In fact, his name isn’t even Mike. His LPs were one-of-a-kind, painted record sleeves with fake liner notes, copyright info and packaging. Each release even came with a cardboard cutout “disc,” complete with painted grooves. It was in Mike’s imaginative world that he was the soul superstar that he often dreamt about.
 
The records promoted social justice, protested the Vietnam War, decried drug usage. Like a true musician, Mike expressed his heartfelt emotions through his albums. When the draft slip arrived for Vietnam, Mike wrote the hit song, “But All I Can Do is Cry.” Refusing to serve, Mike went AWOL and spent most of his time working on music indoors, hiding from the military police. The unsettling environment of the era gave him a lot to think about.
 

 
Despite leading a bountiful career in an imaginative cardboard world, the fable of outsider artist Mingering Mike had remained unknown to anyone on the outside. After calling it quits in showbiz, Mike took a final bow and his discography was placed in storage. Once he fell behind on a payment, his entire collection and was sold off. In December 2003, crate-digger and soul devotee Dori Hader was scoping bins at a D.C. flea market and stumbled across the myth of Mingering Mike. Confused at its significance, Dori posted photos on the record collector forum Soul Strut and he, along with fellow discoverer Frank Beylotte, were able to track Mike down at home. Today, his story can finally be told.
 
In 2007, Hadar published the book Mingering Mike: The Amazing Career of an Imaginary Soul Superstar. The book contains scans of Mike’s incredible album covers and backstory. The Smithsonian acquired the collection and in 2015, exhibited Mike’s discography at the American Art Museum. David Byrne had even reached out to produce a tribute album based on the enlightening story. Today, Mike’s album imagery lives on through releases by Daptone’s The Ar-Kaics and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck. It had been nearly fifty years, but Mike had finally gotten the spotlight he had once envisioned.
 
Take a look at some of Mingering Mike’s iconic album covers, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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03.04.2019
08:07 am
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A short film on the making of Mark Stewart’s ‘Learning to Cope with Cowardice’ (a DM premiere!)
02.28.2019
01:14 pm
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Mark Stewart and the Maffia live in Kentish Town, 1986 (Photo by Beezer)

Last month, when Mute brought out a double-LP reissue of Mark Stewart’s solo debut from 1983, Learning to Cope with Cowardice, we interviewed the man about the record and its historical, political, and musical context. Now we have a new short film by Charlie Marbles about the making of the album to show you.

If you’ve never heard Learning to Cope with Cowardice, it is a collection of sounds that wraps your nervous system around the spools of a cassette deck, then uses your brain to degauss the tape head and your cerebrospinal fluid to lubricate the capstan: a variegated cut-up of genres, styles, media, times, places, and identities. In the film below, Stewart and producer Adrian Sherwood describe the mixing and editing techniques they used to make this mental work of art, some imported from New York hip-hop and other audio collage forms—Stewart, in particular, credits Teo Macero’s work on On the Corner and William S. Burroughs’ tape experiments as inspiration—and some invented on the spot and probably never yet repeated, such as “scratching” multitrack tapes.

The singer and producer describe Stewart’s desires for unconventional sounds (Sherwood remembers a snare so trebly “it was actually cutting your eyeball off”) and his struggles to get them through the technocracy of the mastering process onto the finished record. Stewart:

I was constantly fighting with engineers about buzzes and hisses and noises, and trying to make helicopter sounds, and then they’d try and change it, they’d try and normalize you. I’m not gonna be fuckin’ normalized!

Learning to Cope with Cowardice plus The Lost Tapes is available on double vinyl (benefiting Mercy Ships) and double CD. Check out Mark Stewart’s new political resistance playlist, too.
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Mark Stewart talks with Dangerous Minds about ‘Learning to Cope with Cowardice’
Dub visionary Adrian Sherwood talks about his legendary career in music

Posted by Oliver Hall
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02.28.2019
01:14 pm
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David Bowie wanted Flo & Eddie of the Turtles to star with him in a film he wrote
02.28.2019
08:51 am
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In the mid 1970s, David Bowie was working on a script that he wanted to turn into a film. The movie, conceived as a comedy, would star Bowie and the duo known as Flo & Eddie (Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan of the fabulous Turtles). Volman and Kaylan are funny dudes, and Bowie felt they were the guys to help make his film a cinematic success. 

In late March 1976, Bowie flew Volman and Kaylan to New York City to meet and discuss his script notes, which were several hundred pages long.
 
Flo and Eddie
Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman.

In his autobiography, Shell Shocked, Howard Kaylan wrote about the Bowie project.

Bowie flew Mark and me into New York at the end of the month to meet about his screenplay. It was a first-class journey that wound up at his Madison Square Garden concert, backstage. Then we went to the Village for more of the same. Limos took us everywhere, although we got to see David for all of about ten minutes. Still, I don’t think there were any complaints about the trip. Whatever Bowie wanted.

There was a screening of The Man Who Fell to Earth, starring Bowie, at a theater in Westwood. David had sent us our invitations in a large cardboard box. What the hell? Ah, also enclosed were two copies, some 750 pages each, of David’s screenplay notes for a feature film to be called The Traveler. The film was to deal with the very real alter ego that Bowie had created for himself, that of the Thin White Duke. Eschewing air travel, David would only travel to and from American via ocean liner where, once aboard, he would assume a disposable two-week identity where his lines between fact and fiction blurred and he regaled the other passengers with amazing tales of his conquests and heroics.

There was a lot to take and it offered a great many opportunities for fantasy and wordplay. I was excited. It took many hours to read this “outline,” as David called it.

About a year and a half later, Volman & Kaylan returned to New York to go over the film idea with Bowie in more detail. They met up at the Mayfair Hotel, where Bowie was staying. The three spent the next couple of days hanging out, culminating with Volman and Kaylan interviewing Bowie for the Canadian TV program, 90 Minutes Live. After the interview, Flo & Eddie hugged Bowie and said their goodbyes.

The duo never heard another word about The Traveler.
 
Bowie after show party
Mark Volman, Ronnie Spector, David Bowie, and Iggy Pop. New York City, March 26, 1976.

A portion of the 90 Minutes Live interview is embedded below. The segment aired stateside on The Midnight Special in April 1978.
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘I’m gonna kill you, Tin Man!’: Axl Rose’s knuckle-brawl with David Bowie over a girl, 1989
Little Ziggy: Photographs of a young David Bowie
When David Bowie was in Iggy Pop’s band: Their final concert
Happy Together: The Turtles in the 1960s

Posted by Bart Bealmear
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02.28.2019
08:51 am
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