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Freddy Krueger commands you to dance (or else!) on his 1987 novelty record
10.26.2017
07:28 am
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What would be really surprising, in retrospect, is if there had been no Freddy Krueger novelty records at all. But most of us will do much worse things for money. Aside from the Fat Boys’ “rappin’ Freddy” single, “Are You Ready for Freddy,” the big item in the child killer’s slender discography is the 1987 LP Freddy’s Greatest Hits, credited to the Elm Street Group.

The title is misleading, and not just because there weren’t any hits. Freddy’s only contribution to many songs is a joyless cackle that sounds like the devil’s laughter in Chick tracts (“HAW! HAW! HAW!”). The actual lead vocals, usually performed by one Stephanie Davy, emerge from a band that sounds like it has run out of drugs midway through scoring a contemporary Chevy Chase vehicle. Does Freddy get the chance to stretch out, to demonstrate his range, his imagination, or his gifts as an interpreter of songs? Did Freddy and the Elm Street Group keep after, say, “Moon River” all night long, through take after nicotine-stained take, until the song finally opened up like a thousand-petaled lotus long after everyone had grown too tired to think, and a hush fell over the studio as the sun stole over the horizon and the last notes died away because everyone knew they had just played “the one,” the take for all time, and they could still feel it hanging in the air? No. On his recording debut, Freddy mostly says “HAW! HAW! HAW!”
 

 
What can this flawed collection tell us about the artist? Freddy is a Boomer, apparently. Four of the nine tracks are covers of Fifties and Sixties rock hits: Freddie and the Dreamers’ “Do the Freddie,” Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs’ “Wooly Bully,” Wilson Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour” and the Everly Brothers’ “All I Have to Do Is Dream.” While the latter two selections are obvious enough jokes, the inclusion of “Do the Freddie” and “Wooly Bully” reveals a surprising dimension of Freddy’s character. He wants you to dance!

More Freddy after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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10.26.2017
07:28 am
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Rod Stewart, Freddie Mercury, and Elton John wanted to form a supergroup called Nose, Teeth & Hair
10.23.2017
01:03 pm
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Ah, to be a rock star. Reading Rod Stewart’s autobiography, aptly titled Rod: The Autobiography, it’s clear that he and Elton John are close. They twit each other, as friends everywhere do, only with the budgets of fabulously wealthy rock stars. There’s a passage recounting their playful war of Christmas gifts. One year Rod hit upon the perfect gift, a novelty portable refrigerator: “You plug it in and press the button and its door opened automatically, and it lit up and a bottle of rose out of it in a cloud of vapor.”

That year Elton made Rod a gift of an original Rembrandt drawing. As Rod writes,
 

A fucking Rembrandt! I felt pretty small-–although not as small as Elton presumably wanted me to feel when he later referred tartly to my present as “an ice bucket.” It was not an ice bucket. It was a novelty portable fridge.


 
A couple years later, Elton marked the joyous occasion of Rod’s marriage to Rachel Hunter with a Boots voucher worth ten quid and the note “Get yourself something nice for the house.”

You get the idea. Rod and Elton have the kind of expensive fun together that you would hope famous rock stars have together. On one occasion, Rod and Elton spent an evening at a Los Angeles house Queen kept there, hanging out with Freddie Mercury. During what was presumably mirthful conversation, someone hit upon the idea of joining forces for a ridiculous supergroup consisting of the three of them:
 

We traveled together a bit, too, or sought each other out when we were abroad. The band Queen rented a house in Bel Air, Los Angeles, for a while, and Elton and I spent a long evening there with Freddie Mercury, a sweet and funny man whom I really adored, discussing the possibility of the three of us forming a supergroup. The name we had in mind was Nose, Teeth & hair, a tribute to each of our most remarked-upon physical attributes. The general idea was that we could appear dressed like the Beverley Sisters. Somehow this project never came to anything, which is contemporary music’s deep and abiding loss.

 
The detail that makes the anecdote is that last one, about the Beverley Sisters, who were kind of an English version of the Andrews Sisters from the United States. They sang tightly harmonized songs, several of which are Christmas classics in the U.K. Here’s a picture of the Beverley Sisters:
 

 
via That Eric Alper
 

Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.23.2017
01:03 pm
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The apocalyptic work of ‘The King of Thrash Metal Art’ Ed Repka
10.23.2017
10:10 am
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An iconic image of “Vic Rattlehead” created by artist Ed Repka for the cover of Megadeth’s 1986 album, ‘Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?’
 
Although artist Ed Repka‘s artwork has graced the covers of at least 100 metal and thrash metal records, the man himself isn’t such a huge fan of the genre and much prefers the angst of classic punk rock when it comes to his listening habits. Repka started making waves in the realm of thrash back in the 80s with artwork he created for bands like Venom, Nuclear Assault, and Megadeth. In fact, Repka’s second commissioned work appeared on the cover of Megadeth’s 1986 album, Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? which featured an image of “Vic Rattlehead,” the band’s notorious apocalyptic mascot that Repka created and owns the copyright for. Repka would collaborate with the band again in 1989 for the cover of No More Mr. Nice Guy, and later in 1990 for Rust In Peace. Unfortunately, since Megadeth vocalist Dave Mustaine is a giant dick, he continued to utilize Vic without Repka’s okay and the artist dissolved his relationship with the band that had brought him well deserved, worldwide acclaim. For many thrash and metal fans, Repka’s artwork is as important and influential as the music of their beloved headbanging, mosh pit-loving bands.

Repka starting drawing things like monsters and horror-themed comics as a child, unaware that his youthful obsession would one day be viewed by millions of metalheads around the globe. After he graduated from high school, Repka enrolled in the prestigious Parsons School of Design in lower Manhattan where he received his BFA in Illustration. According to Repka, he was also one of the first artists to use computer-generated images for album covers—specifically the 1989 album by New York thrash band Napalm and their second full-length Zero to Black. These days Repka says he uses all kind of mediums for his gory, often politically-charged artwork including airbrushing, classic painting techniques as well as digital illustration. In addition to his album art, Repka also worked as an art director for toy/action figure giant NECA and had a hand in the character design for the horror film series Hellraiser. Repka celebrated his 57th birthday yesterday, and I can’t think of a better way to acknowledge that milestone than taking a look at his groundbreakingly savage artwork below, some of which is sort of NSFW. 

Bow down to the King of Thrash Metal Art, baby.
 

Artwork by Repka for the cover of Florida-based death metal band Death and their 1990 album, ‘Spiritual Healing.’
 

The cover of ‘Visual Violence’ the 2008 album by English metal band, Pitiful Reign.
 
More Ed Repka after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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10.23.2017
10:10 am
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Lee Hazlewood gets his heart broken and records the ultimate break-up album, 1971
10.23.2017
06:37 am
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Suzi and Lee (courtesy Suzi Jane Hokom)
 
It was 1971 and Lee Hazlewood had recently left Los Angeles and his label, LHI Records, far behind, having relocated to the Scandinavian nation of Sweden. He’d also split with his girlfriend of six years, singer Suzi Jane Hokum (that’s Lee and Suzi in the above photo). Prior to their parting, they recorded a number of duets, such as the Hazlewood-penned “Summer Wine,” which Lee would re-make with Nancy Sinatra. Here’s the original Lee and Suzi version:
 

 
Following their break-up, Lee wrote a collection of songs detailing the pain of losing a romantic partner. After a first attempt at getting the tracks down on tape in Sweden didn’t work out to his liking, L.H. flew back to L.A. to record in more familiar surroundings. Supported by a small group of musician friends, including Jerry Cole of the Wrecking Crew, the album was captured in a single day—May 11, 1971. 

The subsequent LP, Requiem for an Almost Lady, was released later in the year, though initially just in Sweden and Australia. Lee sets the scene before each of the stripped-down tracks, then proceeds to sing each of the songs in his distinctive dry-as-the-desert-but-still-sweet-sounding baritone, which aches like never before. The album is full of a very relatable form of heartache that’s sad, wistful, witty, vengeful, poetic, painful, and real. It speaks to the particular form of emptiness that comes when the one you love leaves. Pop music has had its share of break-up albums, but none are as spot-on as this.
 
Requiem for an Almost Lady cover
 
Lee wrote some notes about the record, which appeared on the back cover of the original LP. Here’s an excerpt:

This is a group of songs about one lady…her name is not important…she knows who she was…There was no pleasure (as there usually is) in writing this album…there was only the dull “thud” of realization that something you once took for granted is gone…

On November 3, Light in the Attic Records will reissue Requiem for an Almost Lady, along with two other Lee Hazlewood records, Forty, and the album L.H. did with Ann-Margaret, The Cowboy & The Lady; all three have bonus tracks. Various goodies are available to those that pre-order through LITA’s website. If you pick up the colored vinyl editions of each, the label will throw in a nearly hour-long cassette containing two previously unreleased Hazlewood sessions from 1969—how cool is that? If you instead decide to go the Amazon route, click on the above album titles.

Thanks to Light in the Attic, we’ve got the remastered premiere of “I’d Rather Be Your Enemy,” the song that closes Requiem for an Almost Lady. It’s delivered with the kind of wounded venom that will ring true to many, ending with a classic Hazlewood turn of phrase.
 

 
In 1999, nearly 30 years after Requiem was released, Lee once again wrote about the album, but his view of the material had changed. A selection of those thoughts:

In retrospect…These songs were not written about or for one lady or two or even three…They are a composite of all my memories, of ladies, since I became aware of memories and ladies…After breathing in and out for seven decades (as I have), you start to believe you’re wiser…You ain’t…You’re just more cautious…Here’s to the ladies…Here’s to the memories…And here’s to the songs…

 
Lee and Suzi (courtesy Mark Pickerel)
 
As a companion piece to Requiem for an Almost Lady, a short film with the same name was produced and aired on Swedish television. Directed by Torbjörn Axelman, who first collaborated with Lee on a similar project for Hazlewood’s Cowboy in Sweden LP. Both are forerunners of the video album. The Requiem movie includes most of the tracks from the record, plus a couple of added segments that were surely attempts to lighten the mood for the TV audience.
 
Watch it, after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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10.23.2017
06:37 am
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The B-52s bring their mess around to the popular soap opera ‘Guiding Light,’ 1982
10.23.2017
06:35 am
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Guiding Light holds the record for the longest run of any soap opera. It debuted in 1952 as a narrative doled out in 15-minute increments and made it all the way to 2009, when it was replaced by Let’s Make a Deal, hosted by Wayne Brady. When a show is around that long, it’s tempting to say that “everything” happened on it, but that category doesn’t intuitively include appearances by influential new wave bands. Yet that did happen too.

In 1982 the B-52s appeared on an episode during a promotional tour for their David Byrne-produced EP Mesopotamia. The premise was that there was a venue in the town, which bore the name of Springfield (yes, Springfield), in which musical artists would appear. Apparently Judy Collins appeared in another episode. 

The two YouTube clips below capture the musical performances but not the parts in which Cindy, Kate, and Fred appear in a scene with some character from the show who aspires to be a professional musician. You can see the barest snippet of that scene in the VH-1 clip below. Oddly, the band ended up playing a non-single cut called “Throw That Beat in the Garbage Can” (at the request of the Guiding Light people, it seems) and “Private Idaho,” a track off of 1980’s Wild Planet.

Of course, it doesn’t matter what song they play, you know exactly what it’s going to be like and that it’s going to be great. 
 
Watch it all after the jump…...
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.23.2017
06:35 am
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Doctor Who’s 1972 pop single on Deep Purple’s label
10.20.2017
09:54 am
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Jon Pertwee starred in the reruns of Doctor Who my local PBS affiliate started airing in the Eighties; perhaps the station decided to start with the color episodes. Ever since, when someone else is playing Doctor Who, even Tom Baker, I miss Pertwee’s lisp and Edwardian dress, his dandyish manner, the wild look in his eyes.

Doctor Who novelty records were born in 1964 on “I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas with a Dalek” by the (Newcastle) Go-Go’s. They intersected with punk on the Art Attacks’ 1978 debut “I Am a Dalek” (“EXTERMINATE! KI-I-I-ILL!”) and reached their creative peak in 1988, when the Timelords’ “Doctorin’ the TARDIS” attained the unsurpassable zenith of excellence in the genre.

Pertwee, who had a long and colorful career as a recording artist, was the first Doctor to release his own single. On 1972’s “Who Is the Doctor,” recorded for Deep Purple’s label, producer Rupert Hine added rock drums to Ron Grainer’s Doctor Who theme, and Pertwee intoned some cosmic verse about how to love your Time Lord, or something:

Is your faith before your mind?
Know me
Am I the Doctor?

 

The 1985 Safari Records issue of “Who Is the Doctor”
 
Neil Priddey’s Purple Records discography explains Pertwee’s connection to the label and notes that one of the artists on Brian Eno’s Obscure label took part in the session:

Jon Pertwee was a personal friend of [Deep Purple manager] Tony Edwards, so he asked Rupert Hine and David MacIver to write and produce this project. They tried to get the BBC involved, but (according to MacIver) they were given the cold shoulder.

MacIver wrote the lyrics in 20 minutes and Hine produced the session. Simon Jeffes [of Penguin Cafe Orchestra], a good friend of theirs, also played on the tracks with Rupert playing his ARP 2600 synthesizer.

Time is a wondrous thing. MacIver’s 20 minutes of labor paid off again in ‘82, when BBC Records reissued the single with a different B-side, and in ‘85, when the synth-pop label Safari Records repackaged it with Blood Donor’s “Dr . . . ?” Hear its total extratemporal majesty below.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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10.20.2017
09:54 am
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OK, let’s all listen to that 1970s rock opera about Spider-Man…..
10.18.2017
09:57 am
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I don’t exactly understand how Iron Man became the dominant superhero of our era, but the truth is, Spider-Man’s the greatest character that the Marvel people ever came up with, isn’t he? There’s a reason that the Tobey Maguire series of Spider-Man movies kicked off what has now become a glut of expensive movies about muscled mutants and extraterrestrials wearing colorful bodysuits battling one another for the fate of the city/world/universe/whatever.

There’s a reason we’ve had three movie versions of Spider-Man in just under two decades. Spider-Man was the first truly relatable superhero, because Peter Parker was an angsty kid growing up on the boulevards of Queens, learning to harness his phenomenal powers for good. Didn’t we all feel like our superpowers were a burden, once upon a time?

That’s what made Spider-Man the core character of the Marvel universe, and that’s the thing that drew Bono and the Edge and Julie Taymor to even consider putting together a Broadway musical about the webbed wonder (Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark) a decade ago, a production that was headline fodder for months for the many injuries that the cast members kept suffering.

Amazingly, that was not the first ambitious musical telling of the Spider-Man story. In 1975 Lifesong Records released Spider-Man: Rock Reflections of a Superhero, which told the moderately stressed-out story of Peter Parker and his tussles with Dr. Octopus, known as “Doc Ock” to you and me.

The music is credited to a band with the bland name of Hero, which in fact was a version of Crack the Sky, a West Virginia-based prog rock band that also made a splash on Lifesong Records the same year. 

One of the best things about the album is the back cover, which explains that many of our favorite Marvel pals are actually producing the music, with a lineup as follows: Black Panther on electric guitar, the Incredible Hulk on the drums, Power Man on bass, the Silver Surfer on keyboards, Captain America on “percussion” (polite term for tambourine), Thor on the trumpet, “Conan and the Barbarians” handling strings, and the Fantastic Four doing background vocals. Oh yeah, and the Falcon doing handclaps. Can’t forget the Falcon’s handclaps.
 

 
The best and most rocking song on the album is the opener, “High Wire,” which among other things addresses Peter’s frustration that “super-strength and fame ain’t all that they’re cracked up to be/‘Cause the only one that they don’t help is me.” As is almost necessary in the rock opera idiom, there’s not a little borrowing from the musical theater and especially 1950s doowop, and much of the album has its roots in folk.

Oh, and if you have issues with Stan Lee’s palpable overexposure—at the age of 94!—be aware that the album features several narrated bits read aloud by Lee, and they’re pretty bad.

How many musical treatments of the Iron Man story have they released by now? Oh, is it “none”?

More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.18.2017
09:57 am
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Nick Cave’s life & work come alive in a stunning new 328-page graphic novel ‘Nick Cave: Mercy on Me’
10.17.2017
07:48 am
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An illustration by Reinhard Kleist from his new graphic novel, ‘Nick Cave: Mercy on Me.’
 

“Floods, fire, and frogs leapt out of my throat,” he explained. “Though I had no notion of that then, God was talking not just to me but through me, and His breath stank. I was a conduit for a God that spoke in a language written in bile and puke. And for a while, that suited me fine.”

—Nick Cave ruminates on God during a broadcast by BBC Radio 3 Religious Services in 1996. Read/listen to it here.

From his origins growing up in Australia glued to The Johnny Cash Show, to his days with The Birthday Party and later The Bad Seeds—author and illustrator Reinhard Kleist has left no stone unturned when it comes to his exploration of Nick Cave’s life in his new graphic novel, Nick Cave: Mercy on Me.

Kleist uses his dark and striking illustrations to help bring out emotions such as dread, desperation, persistence, and revelation as they witness Cave’s life and long career, from his huge-hair and heroin days with The Birthday Party to his more polished yet still antagonistic times with The Bad Seeds. The book even incorporates things from 2014’s documentary, 20,000 Days On Earth. Like life in general, the book is often a grim ride—especially when it concerns Cave’s early days in and out of addiction clinics and his time in Berlin—which, according to Cave, was a moment in his life where he felt “quite lost.” There he met Christoph Dreher, founder of the post-rock band Die Haut whom Cave credits with “basically keeping him alive” for a few years (you can see a blistering performance by Cave with Die Haut back in 1992, which is depicted in Kleist’s book, here). If you’re wondering how the legendarily cantankerous Mr. Cave feels about Kleist’s book, here’s more on that directly from the man himself:

“Reinhard Kleist, master graphic novelist, and myth-maker has - yet again - blown apart the conventions of the graphic novel by concocting a terrifying conflation of Cave songs, biographical half-truths and complete fabulations and creating a complex, chilling and completely bizarre journey into Cave World. Closer to the truth than any biography, that’s for sure! But for the record, I never killed Elisa Day.”

Stop me if I’m wrong, but I do believe that Cave just gave Kleist two goth-thumbs up for his efforts. I agree with Cave’s assessment of Kleist’s work, and if you are at all of a fan of Nick Cave, I recommend picking this book up right away. An English version of the graphic novel (which was initially published in German), can be found here. In case there is still any doubt that you need this book, I’ve posted a large collection of Kleist’s starkly beautiful illustrations from Nick Cave: Mercy on Me, below.
 

An illustration from ‘Nick Cave: Mercy on Me,’ Reinhard Kleist.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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10.17.2017
07:48 am
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John Peel asks original punks the Mekons, the Slits & others about ‘punk, publicity and profit’
10.16.2017
11:42 am
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The Mekons
 
On October 6, 1978, on BBC Radio One, John Peel touted a TV program on which he appeared, to air the next week, on October 12—exactly 39 years ago last Thursday, as it happens. Here’s what Peel said: “The UK Subs are on Omnibus on next Thursday evening on BBC-1 television, along with the Mekons, the Slits, Jim Pursey, Alternative TV, the Desperate Bicycles, and the playlist committee among other things, and my good self, seen heading a football with more skill than I bet you imagined I had.”

Omnibus was a popular arts program that was in existence from 1967 through 2003. Peel’s documentary was titled “The Record Machine.” Recently the BBC Archive Twitter feed dropped a fascinating supercut from the doc featuring prominent punk bands discussing, often with great subtlety and insight, some of the issues bands were facing as to the ethical status of promotion, publicity, and product.

As the punk movement moved past its initial impact, bands had to confront some basic questions about the meaning of touring and releasing albums—in short, adopting punk as a career—when the underpinnings of the movement included a rejection of established modes and a commitment to the community of downtrodden and frustrated youth. As astute in the interviewer’s seat as he is as a DJ, Peel consistently presses the bands to explain where their heads are at in terms of signing contracts, releasing “product,” touring, and generally balancing the conflicting aims of gratifying fans, preserving artistic integrity, and making some goddamned money!
 

The Slits
 
In Leeds, Mekons manager Mick Wixey snarks that “we’re not on the verge of retirement yet” and registers the injustice of having to make an impact in London in order to get signed to a label. Jimmy Pursey of Sham 69 ruminates on the necessity of allying oneself with an established label in order to finance the process of touring before asserting that Sham 69 saved punk. Ari Up of the Slits whips a soccer ball at Peel’s head just when he’s trying to ask whether the Slits feel any political commitment to working with smaller labels (Viv Albertine says “nah”).

Mark Perry of Alternative TV—who earlier had put out one of the first punk zines, Sniffin’ Glue—relates how bummed out he was when the Clash signed with CBS and registers his disgust at the “two pound fifty” the Buzzcocks were charging for tickets at the time. The most epigrammatic of the bunch might be the UK Subs’ Charlie Harper, who reports that “we done a gig for fourteen pound—and we lost two quid.” Ouch.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.16.2017
11:42 am
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They Were There: Composite photos of Queen, Jagger, Beatles and Floyd on London streets then and now
10.16.2017
11:34 am
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00qhfhs918.jpg
 
I’m reliably told that photographs are polysemous—that is they have multiple meanings which can change depending on mood or understanding of what the image represents. Seems legit.

So let’s take, for example, the picture posted above of three long-haired guys hanging around some city street in the 1970s. It kinda looks like a regular snap of buddies hanging together. But, as soon as we realize its a pic of John Deacon, Roger Taylor, and a rather cool-looking Freddie Mercury of Queen, this picture takes on a whole new meaning.

Now that we know who it is, we probably want to know where this picture of Freddie and co. was taken. The trio was photographed standing outside 143 Wardour Street, Soho, London, in 1974. Next, I suppose we might ask, What were they doing here? Well, from what I can gather, it was taken during a break in the recording of the band’s second album, Queen II at Trident Studios directly opposite. Then we might inspect the image to glean what feelings these young nascent superstars are showing.

Photographer Watal Asanuma beautifully captured the personalities of these three very different individuals (and to an extent their hopes and ambitions) in a seemingly unguarded moment. Queen was on the cusp of their chart success with the “Seven Seas of Rhye” and the imminent release of “Killer Queen.” This photo now has a historical importance because of what we know this trio (and Brian May) went on to achieve.

I guess some of us might even want to go and visit the location to see where exactly Freddie or Roger or John stood and maybe even recreate the photo for the LOLs. It’s a way of paying homage and drawing history into our lives.

For those who can’t make it all the way to London, Music History, the Twitter presence of Rock Walk London, has been compiling selections of such pictures and making composites of the original image with a photo of what the location looks like today. Okay, so it saves the airfare but more importantly It’s a fun and simple way of bringing to life London’s rich history of pop culture in a single image.

If you like this kinda thing and want to see more, then follow Music History here.
 
01musichistoryqueen.jpg
 
09musichistorylondonq.jpg
 
02musichistoryqueen.jpg
 
More then and now pix of Jagger, Clash, Floyd, and more, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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10.16.2017
11:34 am
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