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Before they were Black Flag: New book unearths shots of Panic in 1978
09.21.2018
05:30 am
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Forty years ago, the ink was still wet on Bomp! Records’ deal with a South Bay punk band called Panic. Several months would elapse before the group played its first real show at a Moose Lodge on the Pacific Coast Highway, but Panic had already committed eight well-rehearsed songs to tape, and Bomp! had agreed to release half of these on a seven-inch record before Thanksgiving. “Nervous Breakdown,” “Fix Me,” “I’ve Had It,” “Wasted”: all pure expressions of the Southern Californian desire for an immediate, total brainectomy.

Bomp! sat on the Nervous Breakdown EP. The 60-day period stipulated in the contract came and went. By February ‘79, when guitarist Greg Ginn released his band’s debut record through his ham radio mail-order company, SST, they had changed their name to Black Flag. But in October ‘78, when they were still called Panic and still expecting Bomp! to bring Nervous Breakdown into the world, Ginn sent the label a packet of photos and negatives for promotional purposes. These sat in a filing cabinet until about 2007, when they turned up in the excavation of the Bomp! warehouse that followed the untimely death of label boss Greg Shaw. Now, Ryan Richardson has collected them in the handsome hardcover volume PANIC!
 

 
It’s a mystery who shot these photos of Keith Morris, Greg Ginn, Chuck Dukowski and Robo. The letter Ginn enclosed with the pictures in ‘78 indicates they are the work of two different photographers, but Richardson tells me none of the band members recalls who they were. Producer and shutterbug Spot disclaimed the shots, Richardson says; Morris guesses that Ginn’s then-girlfriend (and co-writer of “Thirsty and Miserable” and “Room 13”) Medea Jones might be responsible for some of these pictures, or maybe not.
 

 
A few more shots, after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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09.21.2018
05:30 am
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Animated children’s stories by Nick Cave, Gary Numan, Will Oldham, Tom Waits, Laura Marling & more!


Cover illustration by Daniel Nayeri

Stories for Ways and Means is a new book that features original “grown up” children’s story collaborations by some of this era’s most compelling storytellers from the worlds of music and contemporary art. It’s being published by the long-running indie record label Waxploitation run by entrepreneur and photojournalist Jeff Antebi. The Stories for Ways and Means project lends support to several non-governmental organizations and nonprofit groups aiding children’s literacy causes around the world including Room to Read, Pencils of Promise, 826 National and many more.

Some of the featured musicians contributing to the project include Frank Black, Laura Marling, Del the Funky Homosapien, Gibby Haynes, Alec Empire, Kathleen Hanna, Devendra Banhart, Nick Cave, Alison Mosshart, Satomi Matsuzaki of Deerhoof, Will Oldham, Gary Numan and ska great, guitarist Ernest Ranglin.

You can order the Stories for Ways and Means book at SFWAM.org
 

“The Lonely Giant,” narrated by Andre Royo (The Wire), written by Nick Cave, illustrated by Anthony Lister.
 
Many more after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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09.12.2018
08:44 am
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The extraordinary work of Frank Kelly Freas, the Dean of Science Fiction Art
09.10.2018
07:08 am
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“Just Around the Corner” by Frank Kelly Freas. This painting appeared on the cover of Fantastic Universe Science Fiction in 1955.
 
Frank Kelly Freas was known as the “Dean of Science Fiction Art,” and was the second artist to be inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. For fifty years Freas’ work appeared in all kinds of science fiction publications beginning with his first sale to Weird Tales in 1950. In 1957, Freas would hook up with MAD magazine painting nearly every cover of MAD until 1962. His spectacular artwork has appeared on the covers of books by some of sci-fi’s most celebrated authors such as Poul Anderson, Robert Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov. He has been nominated for the prestigious Hugo Award twenty times—winning eleven—more than any other artist in history. In addition to his work in sci-fi, Freas also contributed to another organization obsessed with outer space—NASA—and many of Freas’ posters done for NASA hang in the Smithsonian. Lastly, if you still need to be convinced of Freas’ impact to the art world, he also collaborated with Queen in 1977 at the request of Queen drummer, Roger Taylor.

According to Taylor, he pitched the idea of using Freas’ artwork of a giant robot called “The Gulf Between” from the cover of an issue of Amazing Science Fiction published in October of 1953. After reaching out to Freas, the artist agreed to paint the cover for the band’s 1977 album News of the World with a few modifications. For the album cover, the robot, named Frank, naturally, is clutching the lifeless, bloody bodies of Freddie Mercury and Brian May, while poor John Deacon and Roger Taylor (Taylor is pictured on the back of the album) fall to the ground. In addition to the iconic album cover, Freas also created the poster artwork featuring his menacing robot for the News of the World Tour. And since I’m a special kind of Queen nerd, I should mention, to help further promote the record in the UK, EMI created a small number of four-and-a-half-foot Franks to be used as record displays in high-end record stores. In 1997 Sideshow Collectables put out a God Of The Robots Model Kit based on Frank—which is, sadly, nearly impossible to find just like the record store promotional Frank.

Much of Freas’ extraordinary work has been published in two books, 1978’s The Art of Science Fiction, and the 2000 book Frank Kelly Freas: As He Sees It.
 

1959.
 

1954.
 

 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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09.10.2018
07:08 am
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Undead, Undead: John Coulthart’s beautiful illustrations for Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’
09.04.2018
08:50 am
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dracula01.jpg
 
We all know what Dracula looks like. Bela Lugosi and innumerable Hammer horror movies starring Christopher Lee have fixed the Count in our imagination. He’s tall, gaunt, interestingly pale, with slicked back hair, and a set of unfeasibly large canine teeth. He sports a cloak, and what appears to be an evening suit which can often make him look like a nightclub doorman or a shifty croupier at a Mayfair casino dealing from the bottom of the pack. When commissioned to provide the illustrations for a new edition of Bram Stoker’s enduring tale, artist John Coulthart decided to keep his work faithful to the source material.

Coulthart had previously been commissioned by the same publisher to illustrate Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with which he had similarly “opted for fidelity to the text and period details “:

Despite its epistolary form, Dracula is much more readable (in a contemporary sense) than Frankenstein, so more people will have read Stoker than Shelley; but the sheer scale of cultural mauling that Dracula has been subject to means that—as with Frankenstein—even the allegedly faithful adaptations often deviate from the novel. The lounge-lizard vampire that everyone knows was a creation of Hamilton Deane’s 1924 stage adaptation, the success of which led to Tod Browning’s film and Bela Lugosi’s performance (which I’ve never liked); film and theatre may have made Dracula universally popular but the Lugosi stereotype has overshadowed the more powerful and violent character that Stoker gives us, with his bearded face, hairy palms and glowing eyes. So that’s who you see here, although the restrictions of time and brief (one picture per chapter) meant that some of the moments I’d have liked to illustrate had to be forfeit. Poor old Renfield gets short shrift, and some of the minor male characters are out of the picture altogether.

Regardless of the constrictions of time and remit, Coulthart’s illustrations for Dracula are among the very best ever produced, as his detailed work fully captures the intense, eerie, menacing, and almost dreamlike atmosphere of Stoker’s novel where you can “believe in things that you cannot.”

See the complete set of John Coulthart’s marvellous illustration fro Dracula here.
 
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See more of John Coulthart’s superb illustrations for ‘Dracula,’ after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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09.04.2018
08:50 am
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The Baker Street Regulars: Obscure ‘70s band that featured former members of Big Star
08.17.2018
08:56 am
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Big Star
Big Star’s original lineup. L-R: Andy Hummel, Chris Bell, Alex Chilton, and Jody Stephens.
 
Being a big fan of Big Star, I was excited to receive an advance copy of the oral history book, There Was a Light: The Cosmic History of Chris Bell and the Rise of Big Star. I started flipping through it and was immediately drawn to the story of the Baker Street Regulars. The band existed for a brief period in 1976, and featured two former members of Big Star, Chris Bell and Jody Stephens. Considering this was a seldom discussed part of the Big Star story, I asked HoZac Books if we could run the Baker Street Regulars passages in the book. They not only said “Yes,” but provided us with the majority of the images here—many of which have rarely been seen before. There Was a Light author, Rich Tupica, has even written an introduction just for us.
 
Chris Bell in Ardent Studios
Chris Bell in Ardent Studios, pre-Big Star.

Often overshadowed by his iconic Big Star bandmate Alex Chilton, the genius of the late Chris Bell wasn’t truly uncovered until years after he was tragically killed in a car wreck in December 1978. The 27-year old remained in obscurity until 1992, when I Am the Cosmos, his posthumously released solo album was finally released to much praise.

Today, Beck and Wilco cover the enigmatic songwriter’s works, while members of R.E.M. still praise his work when asked about their favorite bands—yet at the time of his death, Bell was anything but a rock ’n roll legend. After the release of 1972’s #1 Record, Big Star’s debut LP on Ardent/Stax Records, Chris suffered a bout a clinical depression and heatedly exited the Memphis-based group—the band he masterminded from the ground up. He also had a falling out with Ardent Studios owner and Big Star producer John Fry. His life was in shambles and he realized his dream of breaking Big Star into the mainstream wasn’t going to happen.

 
Chilton's bedroom
Big Star in Alex Chilton’s bedroom, posing for a ‘#1 Record’ promo photo. (Courtesy of Carole Manning)

With Bell out of the picture, Alex Chilton and John Fry took the reins and kept Big Star going for two more equally acclaimed albums, Radio City and Third/Sister Lovers—but with little financial successes, the band fully dissolved.

Meanwhile, Bell not only became a devout born again Christian, he also attempted to launch a solo career. He even moved to London with his older brother David Bell for much of 1975 and pitched his reels of solo material to any A&R rep who’d meet with them. They were ultimately turned down by every label. By 1976, America’s Bicentennial, Chris was back in Memphis living at his parent’s upper-class estate in Germantown.

For money, Bell flipped burgers at his successful father’s fast food chain, while in the evenings he played as a sideman guitar slinger alongside fellow Memphians Van Duren in a short-lived band called the Baker Street Regulars. The band would never record a single track, but its short list of dates at low key Memphis bars would be the only time a full band would ever play Chris Bell’s solo material in front of an audience. 

The following excerpt is a portion of Chapter 20 from the new oral history book, There Was a Light: The Cosmic History of Chris Bell and the Rise of Big Star (HoZac Books), details this transitional period of Bell’s life.

 
Chris Bell on stage
Chris Bell on stage during a Baker Street Regulars gig. (Courtesy of Van Duren)

Chapter 20: Baker Street Regulars: 1976
Within weeks of his return from England, Chris connected with Van Duren and promptly formed the Baker Street Regulars—a Memphis-based bar band named after the Sherlock Holmes characters. The group—which also comprised former Big Star drummer Jody Stephens and guitarist Mike Brignardello—played Van’s and Chris’s original tunes along with some semi-obscure covers. For the first time since his pre-Big Star days, Chris played music just for fun.

Mike Brignardello — Bassist, Baker Street Regulars, Nashville session player: I grew up in Memphis, then hit the road immediately after high school in the early ’70s. I was in a little club band and learning about being a musician, then I came back in the mid-’70s. Big Star had come and gone in my absence, but I heard about them when I got back. They were local heroes, already a semi-cult band. One of the first guys I met when I came back to Memphis was Van Duren. We hit it off and started playing together. He was the guy who hooked us up with Chris and Jody.

Van Duren — Musician, songwriter, solo, Baker Street Regulars: The Baker Street Regulars was the name when the band first started—Chris thought of it. In December of ’75, we started to get together and rehearse, but we had been kicking around the idea of forming a band for months before that. The first time I went out to the Bells’ house, Jody took me over there for our first rehearsal. We turn off down this street and it turned into this winding driveway. You couldn’t even see the house from the street, the property was so huge.

 
1977
Chris Bell poses in front of his parents’ home, Christmas 1977. (Courtesy of Bell Family Archive)

Mike Brignardello: Chris lived in, to my eyes—at least back in the day—a full-blown mansion. I remember turning down the driveway and driving, and driving, and driving and thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me! He lives on this estate?” I had grown up as a poor kid in Memphis. He had us set up and play in the living room because his parents were overseas for like a month. I was like, “Who goes overseas for a month?”

Van Duren: Chris was different, obviously upper crust. I come from a blue-collar background, so that was a new world for me. He was from privilege and he acted that way sometimes, but he could also be quite humble. He always had a twinkle in his eye, much like Alex in a way. Sometimes you couldn’t tell if he was putting you on or being serious.

Mike Brignardello: We practiced in a corrugated-metal storage room—it wasn’t insulated or anything like that. We’d just roll the door up on hot, humid Memphis days and rehearse. My girlfriend got that photo of us in there. I thought it perfectly summed up where we were at. We were hungry to play. We sweat through those rehearsals.

 
The Baker Street Regulars
The Baker Street Regulars in the metal storage unit. L-R: Chris Bell, Mike Brignardello, Jody Stephens, and Van Duren. (Courtesy of Beverly Baxter Ross)

Van Duren: It was pretty miserable in that twenty-foot-by-ten-foot mini storage—those things were brand-new in 1976. It was on Lamar Avenue and was the first of its kind in Memphis. One day, Chris showed up two hours late for rehearsal out there. He walks in wearing these tennis togs with the sweater wrapped around his neck and says, “Sorry I’m late, Tommy Hoehn and I had a vision on the tennis courts.” I didn’t know if it had to do with his religious beliefs, or if I was supposed to take him seriously or not. I was a little bent out of shape, but I just laughed when he said that. It wasn’t the first or the last time he was late. He operated on Chris time. Even so, by January of ’76, we were out playing.

The Baker Street Regulars landed shows at now-defunct venues, like Aligahpo’s on Highland Street by the University of Memphis, Procapé Gardens in Midtown on Madison, and the High Cotton Club, just south of Overton Square.

Van Duren: We played those three clubs about three times each, but the first gig was in the springtime in Oxford, Mississippi at Ole Miss at a fraternity party. We did originals and some cover material—but the covers were Beatles, Bee Gees and a lot of fairly obscure things at the time, like Todd Rundgren. We played things nobody had picked up on yet, especially in Mississippi. We threw in my songs, some Big Star songs and a few of Chris’s songs. We’d do “I Am the Cosmos,” “Make a Scene” and “Fight at the Table.” We learned Chris’s songs by listening to what he was calling demos—what later emerged as his solo album. It was a wonderful experience, even though when we played gigs we were pretty much ignored. That’s probably why we didn’t play much in the six months we were together.

 
Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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08.17.2018
08:56 am
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Scary stories and super creeps: The illustrated nightmares of Stephen Gammell


A catchy tune and one of Stephen Gammell’s illustrations from Alvin Schwartz’s trilogy, ‘Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark.’
 
If you look at the unassuming photo used by publisher Simon and Schuster of illustrator Stephen Gammell, you will, in no way, perceive the smiling, white-bearded and spectacled man was responsible for creating images which have terrorized the minds of children since 1981. But he is, and I hope this helps reinforce the golden rule one should never judge a book (or a person) by their cover. Unless one of those books happens to be Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark. In this case, I’d recommend you let your initial impressions be your guide because Stephen Gammell’s instantly recognizable artwork is as sinister as the tales of terror spun by author Alvin Schwartz within the pages of the three-book-series.

Gammell has led a private life during his career which started in 1972, and is notoriously humble about the impact his insidious illustrations have had on generations of people. Gammell’s father was an art editor for a major magazine and would bring home art supplies for his son to help feed his appetite for art and develop his distinctive, entirely self-taught style. Here’s Gammell expounding on his very early days tapping into his gift growing up in Des Moines, Iowa:

“Some of my earliest and happiest memories are of lying on the floor in our old house in Des Moines, books, and magazines around me, piles of pads and paper, lots of pencils…and drawing. Just drawing! I was four at the time thinking that I really didn’t want to go to school next year…I just want to do THIS.”

As I mentioned, Gammell is a private person and historically has scarcely spoken about his most notorious work with Alvin Schwartz—the word-writing creep behind the trilogy Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark. Starting in 1981, the spine-tingling tales of Scary Stories hit the shelves with Gammell’s terrifying cover artwork. Schwartz’s inspiration for much of the trilogy was found in vintage books archived by the American Folklore Society (housed at the Library of Congress). They were, of course, a runaway hit, especially with kids. And being popular with “impressionable” kids seemed to be the number one reason Gammell and Schwartz collectively became public enemy number one with parents and educators. When Schwartz passed away in 1992, his books were already being submitted to the Office For Intellectual Freedom (OIF) in the hope they would be added to the list of “challenged books” maintained by OIF and eventually banned. Complaints regarding Schwartz’s tales accused the writer of being cool with various nefarious activities including cannibalism, necrophilia, and the occult. An article from 1993 published by the Chicago Tribune notes one particularly angry parent likening Schwartz to the serial killer and actual cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer because of the short story “Wonderful Sausage” where a butcher converts his wife into a bratwurst. Here’s a quote from the article by Sandy Vanderburg, a mother of two, and one of Schwartz and Gammell’s biggest haters:

“If these books were movies, they’d be R-rated because of the graphic violence. There’s no moral to them. The bad guys always win. And they make light of death. There’s a story called `Just Delicious’ about a woman who goes to a mortuary, steals another woman’s liver, and feeds it to her husband. That’s sick.”

 

An illustration by Gammell for Schwarzt’s short story “Wonderful Sausage.”
 
For the love of Sweeny Todd and those meddling kids, Hansel and Gretel, get a fucking GRIP, Sandy. Given the outrage over Scary Stories, it’s important to be clear about the Schwartz/Gammell/Scary Stories success story. As nutty as Schwartz’s fables were, what any “reader” remembers most are Gammell’s illustrations of ghouls materializing through the mist, and unfortunate characters like Harold—the impaled scarecrow. Gammell’s impact on Scary Stories fans was magnified in 2011 on the occasion of the series’ 30th anniversary when Harper’s Collins decided to replace Gammell’s original artwork with toned-down images drawn by artist Brett Helquist. With respect to Helquist, the publishers’ actions made absolutely no sense, seeing that their support of the books never wavered despite consistent, decades-long efforts to have them banned. In 2017 Harper’s came to their senses and re-released the series with all of Gammell’s diabolical illustrations intact.

2012 saw a television adaptation of the books, and in 2017 a documentary on the legacy of Scary Stories was released. In April of this year (2018) director, Guillermo del Toro confirmed he had the backing to make the film version of the trilogy, and plot details of the flick finally were revealed in early August. In addition to his chilling work for Scary Stories, Gammell’s art has appeared in 50 other non-nightmare inducing children’s books, the most recent of which tells the story of a kid who loves mud. Right on.

I’ve posted Gammell’s eerie illustrations below from the Scary Stories series. Maybe keep the lights on until you’ve seen them all (some are slightly NSFW).
 

 

 

 
Many more macabre illustrations from Stephen Gammell, after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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08.13.2018
07:51 am
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William S. Burroughs’ time-traveling experimental flexi disc, ‘Abandoned Artifacts’
08.10.2018
07:04 am
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Talk Talk Vol. 3, No. 6, cover art by William S. Burroughs

The Lawrence, Kansas label Fresh Sounds had a long-standing relationship with William S. Burroughs. In ‘81, owner and proprietor Bill Rich introduced Burroughs to Fresh Sounds recording artists the Mortal Micronotz, to whom the author gave his song lyric about child-chewing, “Old Lady Sloan.” Burroughs later read his Civil War tale, “Death Fiend Guerrillas,” for a Fresh Sounds compilation, and he recorded his own interpretation of “Old Lady Sloan” for a 1995 Mortal Micronotz tribute album.

Bill Rich also edited a magazine called Talk Talk, some of whose numbers came with Fresh Sounds flexi discs. One such issue was Vol. 3, No. 6, published in September ‘81, with cover art by WSB and, inside, a square, six-inch disc of the author reading from the first chapter of The Place of Dead Roads (page 10 in the Picador paperback)—or, more precisely, three Burroughses reading the same text at three different points in space and time. Abandoned Artifacts superimposes recordings from performances in Toronto, Chicago, and San Francisco, and it is downright spooky when they match in cadence and tone. Percussion by one Martin Olson juices the passage’s weird, incantatory power.

The interview with Burroughs from Talk Talk Vol. 3, No. 6 helps make sense of the title Abandoned Artifacts, especially if you don’t have The Place of Dead Roads handy:

Mr. B.: We are squandering time and time is running out. We must conceive of time as a resource. That is one of the concepts central to this book. Another is that people are living organisms as artifacts made for a purpose, not cosmic accidents, artifacts created for a purpose.

TT: What are some of the purposes?

Mr. B.: Space. Leaving the planet. We are here to go. This first chapter shows you the concept of living beings as artifacts which is developed much more in the rest of the book. Artifacts created for a purpose, just like arrowheads.

TT: Have you decided on a title?

Mr. B.: Oh, yes, Place of Dead Roads… The planet earth, place of dead roads, dead purposes.

Leaving the planet? Yes, please!
 
Have a listen after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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08.10.2018
07:04 am
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Acid Ranch: The wild and secret pre-Guided By Voices project that was never meant to be heard
08.09.2018
08:22 am
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GBV
Photo shoot for the Guided By Voices album ‘Sandbox,’ 1987. (Courtesy: Robert Pollard)

Robert Pollard, majordomo for Guided By Voices and a host of other projects, isn’t just a prolific songwriter, with over 2,000 published tunes; he’s also one of the best. Pollard’s greatest songs are up there with the finest rock-n-roll ever committed to wax. I’m convinced the Dayton, Ohio, native will one day be called a “national treasure,” but for now, he’s a cult artist with a fanatical following that gobbles up everything he produces—which includes over 100 albums. But it was a long road to respectability and success for Pollard. It would be years before very many people heard Guided By Voices, and along the way, nearly everyone close to him said he should quit fooling around with this music thing.

One of Bob’s early, pre-Guided By Voices undertakings was dubbed Acid Ranch, an endeavor that also included future GBV members Mitch Mitchell and Bob’s younger brother, Jimmy. The trio recorded stealthily in Bob’s basement studio, which he named “the Snakepit.” They had the freedom to do whatever they wanted—both musically and otherwise—and shit did get wild.

Acid Ranch is a key element in Robert Pollard’s development as a songwriter, but it hasn’t been recounted in much detail. That’s about to change with the upcoming biography, Closer You Are: The Story of Robert Pollard and Guided By Voices. Dangerous Minds is happy to have the Acid Ranch section of the book to share with you.

“The most interesting, spontaneously creative, and psychotic, moronic thing we did, we labeled Acid Ranch,” Bob recalls. “You know, secretly. In the lab.” It was the secret part that allowed them to experiment so freely. “Acid Ranch was fearless and ridiculous, because we knew no one would ever hear any of it.”

Recording sessions in the Snakepit circa 1981–1982 were extemporaneous, marathon affairs accompanied by copious amounts of beer, pot, and coke. “We’d go to the point of semi-exhaustion.”

They turned on all the amps, started the tape rolling, and recorded everything—song, interview, or fart. The plan was total creativity, and beyond that there were no further rules. Bob experimented with vocal delivery, falsetto, harmonies, wordplay, and accents ranging from British to a carnival barker’s brassy tone.

 
Pollard brothers
Jimmy Pollard (left) and Bob Pollard (right), 1982. (Courtesy: Robert Pollard)

They got the name Acid Ranch from Spahn Ranch, the Manson’s Family’s hideout, but it was also a play on acid rain. It was only one of the band names Bob and Mitch—and Jimmy once he was back home—recorded under, but it was a favorite. (They were Mailbox when a drum machine was included. “Mailbox was a little bit more refined,” Bob says. “We were influenced by the Smiths and shit.”)

They played whatever was at hand: someone would bang out a rhythm on the clothes dryer or a plastic bucket, Bob played an acoustic guitar or Mitch played bass, they warbled a cappella barbershop harmonies, or even used squeaking squeeze toys—as in the song “Mongoose Orgasm,” a frantic blood relative to the Residents’ Duck Stab and Pink Floyd’s “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict.”

 
Continue reading after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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08.09.2018
08:22 am
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‘I went straight to Hell’: Philip K. Dick did NOT like LSD
08.03.2018
08:25 am
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‘The cross took the form of a crossbow, with Christ as the arrow…’
 
The interview with Philip K. Dick embedded below, recorded in Santa Ana on May 17, 1979, touches on many of the author’s experiences and obsessions—the combat his father saw in World War I, how he came to join the Episcopal Church (“My wife said if I didn’t, she’d bust my nose”), the dying rat who shook his faith, the coming of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s Omega Point, contemporary attitudes towards homosexuality, compulsory ROTC at the University of California, the time he got pancreatitis from using “bad street dope” cut with film developer, the constant threat posed by authoritarian movements—but I’ve cued it up to this vivid description of a bad, bad trip he had in 1964:

I only know of one time where I really took acid. That was Sandoz acid, a giant horse capsule that I got from the University of California, and a friend and I split it. And I don’t know, there must’ve been a whole milligram of it there. It was a gigantic thing, you know, we bought it for five dollars and took it home and we looked at it for a while—looked at it, we were all gonna split it up—and took that, and it was the greatest thing, I’ll tell you.

I went straight to Hell, is what happened. I found myself, you know, the landscape froze over, and there were huge boulders, and there was a deep thrumming, and it was the Day of Wrath, and God was judging me as a sinner, and this lasted for thousands of years and didn’t get any better. It just got worse and worse, and I was in terrible pain, I felt terrible physical pain, and all I could talk was in Latin. Most embarrassing, ‘cause the girl I was with thought I was doing it to annoy her, and I kept saying Libera me domine in die illa. You know, and Agnus dei qui tollis peccata mundi [...] and especially, Tremens factus sum ego et timeotimeo meaning “I’m afraid”—and I said Libera me, domine! Whining like some poor dog that’s been left out in the rain all night. Finally, the girl with me said “Oh, barf” and walked out of the room in disgust.

It was a little bit like when I rolled my VW. I mean, it was all very messy and strange. The only good part of it was when I looked in the refrigerator, and I hadn’t defrosted the refrigerator for a long time, and there was nothing in the freezer compartment. I looked in, and I saw this giant cavern with stalactites and stalagmites, and I thought it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. Ashtray, with cigarette butts in it? Most horrible smell I’d ever smelled! But music sounded very beautiful.

About a month later, I got the galleys for Three Stigmata to read over, and I started reading the galleys, and I thought, “Oh dear, I can’t read these galleys. They’re too scary.” Because all the horrible things that I had written about in Three Stigmata seemed to have come true under acid. So I used to warn people then, that was ‘64, and I used to warn people against taking it. I begged people not to take it.

 

 
Dick put one of the characters in A Maze of Death through the same religious bummer, and he wrote about the ways the psychedelic experience resembled mental illness in two mid-sixties essays, “Drugs, Hallucinations, and the Quest for Reality” and “Schizophrenia & The Book of Changes.” The latter includes a passing reference to the eternity he spent in Hell one night:

Yes, friends, you, too, can suffer forever; simply take 150 mg [sic] of LSD—and enjoy! If not satisfied, simply mail in—but enough. Because after two thousand years under LSD, participating in the Day of Judgment, one probably will be rather apathetic to asking for one’s five dollars back.

Biographer Lawrence Sutin reports the eyewitness account of Dick’s friend Ray Nelson, who remembers the author “sweating, feeling isolated, reliving the life of a Roman gladiator, speaking in Latin and experiencing a spear thrust through his body.” Sutin also quotes this portion of a 1967 letter Dick wrote to Rich Brown, which discloses a few more details of the acid vision of God:

I perceived Him as a pulsing, furious, throbbing mass of vengeance-seeking authority, demanding an audit (like a sort of metaphysical IRS agent). Fortunately I was able to utter the right words [the “Libera me, Domine” quoted above], and hence got through it. I also saw Christ rise to heaven from the cross, and that was very interesting, too (the cross took the form of a crossbow, with Christ as the arrow; the crossbow launched him at terrific velocity—it happened very fast, once he had been placed in position).

Listen to what the man says, after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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08.03.2018
08:25 am
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Shaken Not Stirred: Recipes for James Bond Cocktails

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At the height of Bond-mania during the Cold War in the 1960s, some sixty applications arrived every week at the desk of Lieut.-Col. William (“Bill”) Tanner, Chief of Staff at the British Secret Service. That might not seem much in today’s money considering how many billions of texts and emails randomly ping across the world, but these letters were long-considered, deftly-composed, neatly hand-written in the applicant’s best script, and then posted via mail in an envelope with a stamp purchased from the post office (closed Sundays, half-day Wednesdays and Saturdays) to arrive a day or two later on Lieut.-Col. Tanner’s desk.

The writers of these letters were not applying for “clerical or menial grades” but wrote in the hope of being trained as an agent in the “00 Section, the one whose members are licensed to kill.”

Unfortunately for these well-intentioned young men and women, this was not the way by which the Secret Service recruited its spies. Lieut.-Col. Tanner wrote back to each hopeful applicant to say so—but this “went against the grain. So much keen ambition and enthusiasm shouldn’t be allowed to go to waste.”

When he retired from the Service, Tanner decided to do something about this. He compiled The Book of Bond or Every Man His Own 007, which contained “a mine of information for would-be Bonds.”

Of course, Lieut.-Col. William (“Bill”) Tanner (retired) was a fictional creation—the nom de plume of that brilliant writer Kingsley Amis, who was a long-time fan of Bond and his author Ian Fleming. Using Fleming’s novels as his source material, Amis compiled “[a] glorious [tongue-in-cheek] guide to easy Do-It-Yourself Bondmanship…how to look…what to wear, eat, drink and smoke…”

Under the opening chapter on “Drink,” Amis listed James Bond’d favorite cocktails, which included “The Vesper” as featured Fleming’s first Bond novel Casino Royale. This is a “dry martini” served in “a deep champagne goblet” as Bond described it:

“...Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel…..”

Bond describes this concoction as his “own invention,” one that he planned to patent.

“I neve have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be a large and very strong and very cold and very well-made, I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad.”

But note, Bond’s favorite tipple can no longer be made with Kina Lillet or Lillet Vermouth, as they are no longer produced—see below.
 
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In The Book of Bond, Amis detailed the recipes to Bond’s five favorite cocktails as follows:

From ‘Thunderball,’ Ch. 14.

The Old-Fashioned

Made as follows—you don’t do the making, of course, but you should know how: Dissolve a level teaspoon of castor sugar in the minimum quantity of boiling water. Add three dashes of Angostura bitters, squeeze of fresh orange-juice, large measure of bourbon whiskey. Mix. Pour on to ice-cubes in short tumbler. Stir. Garnish with slice of orange and Maraschino cherry.

From ‘Doctor No,’ Ch. 14.’

The Martini.

Made with vodka, medium dry—say four parts of vodka to one of dry vermouth—with a twist of lemon peel. To be shaken with ice, not, as is more usual, stirred with ice and strained.

The full-dress, all-out version of this is

From ‘Casino Royale,’ Ch. 7.


The Vesper.

You will have to instruct the bartender or waiter specifically as follows:

Take three measures of Gordon’s gin, one measure of vodka, half a measure of Lillet vermouth. Shake very well until ice-cold. Serve in a deep champagne goblet with large slice of lemon peel.

...

When the drink arrives, take a long sip and tell the barman it’s excellent, but would be even better made with a grain-base vodka than a potato-base one.

i) The original recipe calls for Kina Lillet in place of Lillet vermouth. The former is flavoured with quinine and would be very nasty in a Martini. Our founder slipped up here. If Lillet vermouth isn’t available, specify Martini Rossi dry. Noilly Prat is good for many purposes, but not for Martinis.

ii) Make sure the barman is very ignorant, or very deferential, or very both, before talking about vodka bases. Potato vodka is the equivalent of poteen, or bath-tub gin, and getting hold of a bottle of it through ordinary commercial channels wouldn’t be easy even on the far side of the Iron Curtain.

More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.20.2018
10:25 am
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