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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Bart Bealmear
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02.15.2019
10:22 am
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‘No more crying’: The story behind Aimee Mann’s heartbreaking song about Al Jourgensen of Ministry
02.11.2019
10:00 am
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The multi-talented Aimee Mann.
 

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

Say you’re sorry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continues after the jump…

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


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

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

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

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


Photo by Richard Kern, courtesy of Kembra Pfahler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you thinking about F for Fake?

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

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

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

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

Yeah, I did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s that?

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

I do not. Is it like a case study?

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

Continues after the jump…

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

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

 
We asked Michael a few questions via email.

How did you get involved with The Robbers project?:

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

How did you go about composing the score?:

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

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

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


                                                                *****

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

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

Fantastic audio quality on this one.
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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02.06.2019
08:08 am
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Lux Interior: Ten years gone, but his bones keep rockin’! Unheard 1981 interview!

jhsgtnoaisjfuy
 
Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of the passing of Lux Interior, the great frontman of The Cramps, one of the most influential bands of the last 40+ years. Lux lived up to all expectations and truly walked it like he talked it in such a way that he just might be in a group of one. As has been written by myself and a great many others, this band created a style. Not just music, but in every area of life from film subcultures to sexual freedom and just about everything in between, whether they planned to or not. And it’s showing no signs of stopping.

As we learn over and over again, with the Cramps, when we think there’s nothing left to find, something always pops up! Yesterday on the actual anniversary of Lux’s passing, this rare, very early unheard 1981 interview from radio station KALX appeared! This is an early (and interesting) interview as it was done right when guitarist Kid Congo Powers (who is still going strong and making incredible records) joined the band. So let’s transport ourselves 38 years back in time and listen to the beginning of a journey. Who can conceive of a band like this happening now??
 
fcxhgjy
 
And to quote that 50s rockabilly song, “Rockin’ Bones,” made popular in the punk era by The Cramps:
 

I wanna leave a happy memory when I go
I wanna leave something to let the whole world know
That the rock in roll daddy has a done passed on
But my bones will keep a-rockin’ long after I’ve gone
Roll on, rock on, raw bones
Well, there’s still a lot of rhythm in these
Rockin’ bones
Well, when I die don’t you bury me at all
Just nail my bones up on the wall
Beneath these bones let these words be seen
This is the bloody gears of a boppin’ machine
Roll on, rock on, raw bones
Well, there’s still a lot of rhythm in these
Rockin’ bones

 

Posted by Howie Pyro
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02.05.2019
12:29 pm
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Rare behind-the-scenes photos of Alex Cox’s gritty f*ck Reagan masterpiece ‘Repo Man’


Emilio Estevez on the set of ‘Repo Man.’
 
Alex Cox was thirty-years-old when he took on the task of directing his first feature-length film, 1984’s Repo Man. It’s a film which seems to perfectly encapsulate gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson’s apocalyptic quote “Too weird to live, and too rare to die” as it nears its 35th anniversary this March.

Unlike what the ravages of the aging process does to most of us mortal types, Cox’s film endured and remains as defiantly DIY as does its equally angry soundtrack, containing venomous jams from the Circle Jerks, Iggy Pop, and Suicidal Tendencies. However, Cox faced an uphill battle while trying to shop Repo Man around because nobody outside of actor and writer Dick Rude understood what the fuck the film was supposed to be about. Rude had approached Cox with his short story Leather Rubbernecks, hoping to make it into a short film but ultimately Leather Rubbernecks would become a part of Repo Man, as did Rude in his role of sushi chew and screwer Duke in the movie. At some point, the Repo Man script would end up in the hands of former Monkee and visionary in his own right, Michael Nesmith. According to folklore, Papa Nez was instantly impressed and stepped into the role of Executive Producer for the film because, as we all know, Papa Nez gets it and helped Cox (a former repo man in real life) bring Repo Man to the big screen.

Wild stories surrounding this timeless film have been discussed and dissected by writers, film historians, and scholars since its release. A few weeks ago I cracked open my copy of Criterion’s impeccable 2013 release of the film and rewatched it in all of its pissed-off glory. Of the film’s vast merits, which are too numerous to lay out in this post (all of the repo men are named after domestic beer brands, and so on, and on), let’s focus on what many consider to be Harry Dean Stanton’s best acting performance as unhinged repo man Bud (a play on the gross suds known as Budweiser).

Stanton was 58 when he took on the role of Bud (which almost went to Dennis Hopper) and had long since established his alpha hangdog status in Hollywood starring in films with elite actors like Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, and Donald Sutherland. Stanton didn’t waste any time letting everyone know, especially Alex Cox, what he was and was not going to do during filming. Within a few days, he was already refusing to learn his dialog for the film. Stanton supported his decision by citing actor Warren Oates who Stanton claimed read his lines off of cards stuck to a car dashboard while filming 1971’s Two-Lane Backdrop. All of Stanton’s complaints finally set Cox off and the director began to think it might be easier to cut their losses by writing Stanton out of any future scenes. With Nesmith’s support he shut down Cox’s quest to make Bud disappear and eventually, Stanton delivered his lines without skipping a beat. But that didn’t mean Stanton suddenly became some sort of fucking choir-boy after almost getting ghosted by Cox. And this time his bad-boy behavior involved baseball bats.
 

Stanton and his trusty baseball bat.
 
For a scene involving Otto (played by a 22-year-old Emilio Estevez), Stanton pitched the idea of using a modified baseball hand signal used in a scene to tell Otto where to park a car. Cox said no, and Stanton went off telling Cox that other “great” directors he had worked with like Francis Ford Coppola let him do “whatever the fuck he wanted.” Later in a scene where Stanton was to act aggressively with a baseball bat at competing repo dudes the Rodriguez brothers, Stanton requested he be able to use a real baseball bat claiming he could do the scene in one take. The film’s cinematographer, Robby Müller, didn’t get behind the idea of arming Stanton with a baseball bat for the scene and was afraid the combination of an unruly Harry Dean Stanton and a baseball bat equaled bad times for someone’s head or worse. When Stanton was told he would have to switch out his Louisville slugger for a plastic version he went batshit and allegedly screamed the following in response:

“Harry Dean Stanton only uses REAL baseball bats!”

The quote “Harry Dean Stanton only uses REAL baseball bats!” is on par with Dennis Hopper’s terrifying endorsement in Blue Velvet for Pabst Blue Ribbon and it’s regretful at best that no footage of Stanton screaming these words seems to exists. In closing, I would highly recommend picking up a copy of the Criterion release of Repo Man as, in addition to a fantastic booklet full of illustrations by Cox and Mondo artists Jay Shaw and Tyler Stout. I’ve included all kinds of cool visual artifacts from Repo Man below including rare photos taken on the set, vintage German and Japanese lobby cards and posters, and some of the gritty neon artwork from the Criterion release.
 

Michael Nesmith and Harry Dean Stanton on the set of ‘Repo Man.’
 

A candid shot on the set of ‘Repo Man’ of Emilio Estevez, his father Martin Sheen, Harry Dean Stanton and Alex Cox.
 

Estevez, Stanton, and Cox.
 
Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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02.05.2019
09:21 am
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Undressed to Kill: KISS’s X-rated ‘S & M’ photoshoot, 1975
02.04.2019
09:35 am
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One of the tamer shots taken of KISS and model Megan McCracken during the “S & M Session” in New York in 1975 by Fin Costello.
 
The early days of KISS were all about pushing boundaries and, let’s face it, the list of things KISS was not willing to do back in the day is pretty short and likely begins and ends with their refusal to take off their makeup for their first industry gig in New York on New Year’s Eve, 1973. The things they were willing to do became instant benchmarks for other rock and metal bands and, of course, everything from their stage shows and costumes would revolutionize how rock was supposed to look. So how does KISS follow up their infamous drunken orgy shot with Norman Seeff? They do another photo session much like it with Fin Costello and a model named Megan McCracken.

Called the “S & M Session,” Costello, who had shot the band on many occasions, traveled to New York on August 23, 1975, to again photograph the band. Megan McCracken was living with KISS manager Bill Aucoin at the time—although her participation in the shoot has been noted to be a “last-minute” kind of thing. McCracken wore strange satin overall shorts and nothing else and, during several shots, is completely nude. Props for the shoot include a cat o’ nine tails, assorted bondage gear, and fake blood—you know, just a regular day for Ace, Gene, Peter, and Paul in 1975. According to at least one KISS fan, t-shirts with Costello’s X-rated images were a thing, as well as iron-on transfers. And while I’ve never had any luck tracking one down, I believe they existed based on the stuff I saw with my own eyes during the same period when I was a kid. Porn star Marilyn Chambers had one of her own back in 1973, and I know she wasn’t the only naked lady to become an adult-oriented iron-on transfer—this is a fact. Those were good times. 

Photos from Costello’s NSFW S & M shoot with KISS follow.
 

 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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02.04.2019
09:35 am
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Cosey Fanni Tutti talks with Dangerous Minds about her first solo album since 1983


Photo by Chris Carter

Next week, Cosey Fanni Tutti—visual and performance artist, author of Art Sex Music, member of Throbbing Gristle, COUM Transmissions, Chris & Cosey, Carter Tutti, and Carter Tutti Void—will release her first solo album since 1983’s Time to Tell. The erotic undertow and ghostly foreboding of the music on the new LP, Tutti, which originated as the soundtrack to the autobiographical film Harmonic COUMaction, take me to a wonderful place. Cosey kindly spoke with Dangerous Minds by phone on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

What are the sources that you used for this album? How did you record it? The press materials say that it’s mostly based on source material from throughout your life.

Yeah, that’s right. All the audio sources for the album were taken from recordings throughout my life, whether they were audio voices, phone calls, anything like that, which we’ve always recorded and I’ve always recorded for a long, long time now. And because the original music for Tutti was done as a soundtrack for a film that was based on images throughout my life, that’s why I used the audio for the same thing, so they both married up, and they represented me, basically. Yeah, and then I manipulated it all, so that’s where it all came from.

That’s so interesting, because the only vocals I recognized are on the song “Heliy.”

Yeah, I was singing live.

Can you identify any of the people whose voices appear on the album in different form?

No. [laughter] I can but I won’t. It’s people that literally have been in my life, and it’s not so much about recognizing their voice so much as. . . it’s just the essence of everything that contributed to making me who I am, and it was like that with the visuals and with the audio.

Is this the Harmonic COUMaction movie? Can you describe it for me?

Well, it’s like I said, they’re still images taken right from my birth, it begins with—to put it in context, when I was asked to do something for the Hull City of Culture, which, Hull is where I was born and where COUM really started, began there, and I was asked to do something there and put together a COUM Transmissions exhibition, retrospective. So I was working with all that material, and then I was asked to do a live performance, and at the same time I was doing my autobiography, so everything kind of came in right at the correct moment for me, so one thing fed the other. And I decided to do a film, like I said, of visuals that represented who I was from the town where I was born, where the exhibition and the City of Culture was taking place, and that’s when I put all the audio together for it as well.

In the film, there’s images of me, there’s my parents when I was born, my sister, where I lived, so there’s geographical references as well as personal references to people. And I did it so they’re all morphing into one another, a kind of visual representation of me being formed, basically. So everything is, like, running and melting from day one, and people turn into other people, into buildings, into—even my pet dog Tremble is in there. Everything is there that was really important to me throughout my life and recorded, and it all just becomes transformed into me, as this metamorphosis of who you are and what formed you. So the visuals are like that, and there’s like things collapsing in and then reforming into something else. That’s how I visually decided to present how I felt about my life.

It sounds like a representation of your “art is life, life is art” philosophy.

Well, yes, it’s all there. It is, actually; that’s what it is, you get the impression, then. That’s where my work is based and continues to be based, is how I traverse this planet, basically, and how it affects me and how the people I come into contact with affect me, and all the forces at play: emotional, physical, geographical. It’s important, ‘cause that’s how we all are, to be honest.
 

 
Can you tell me a little about that event? Was there any kind of a COUM reunion? I don’t know who’s still around from that period.

Yeah, it was quite sad, actually, because we’ve lost some people along the way, like everybody has. For the exhibition, I did a new piece as well, which was called “COUM Talks,” and it was basically talking heads of seven original members of COUM. And we lost one of those after I interviewed him. All these people, I had filmed, with just a few questions about COUM—when they joined, when they left, what it meant to them, any particular part of COUM that stood out to them as a memory—and then after that they could talk about what they wanted, really. So I had these seven screens in the exhibition room, and each person was reflecting on COUM and what it meant to them and their little memories, it was really interesting.

And Tim Poston, one of the first founding members of COUM, as well, was the one that sadly passed away. But it’s quite serendipitous, really, ‘cause when I was putting this together, he’d got in touch with me before I got in touch with him [laughs], and he was working in India at the time. You should look him up, he’s an incredible person. When I met him, he was telling me about figuring out how to get ultrasound to work to help irrigate arid areas and things like that. He’d also done research and provided a really cheap way of testing eyesight in India, in the villages there, so people could get treatment, that kind of thing. He was an incredible person. He got in touch with me, and I told him about what was going on, and he happened to have a brother who lived in the same area of the UK as me, and he was going to visit him. So we met up, and I said, “Do you want to do this interview for the exhibition?” And we met up and filmed him, had a lovely time together, and then about six months later he passed away. It was really sad. But then again, I think it’s quite wonderful that he was recorded. His piece, in particular, people absolutely adore, because he has a very. . . peaceful demeanor. He looks like Gandalf, for a start [laughs], so you get some idea. And he has this beautiful staff that he’s always carried around with him, so he’s been Gandalf before. . . maybe he took it from Gandalf. So we met him here, and had a wonderful time with him, and then lost him, sadly. But he was in the exhibition, which was wonderful, and COUM meant such a lot to him. And that’s a new piece that I did for the exhibition as well.

Was it strange at all to be recognized as sort of “official culture” in Hull? I imagine that would be gratifying, but it seems so different from the way COUM was received at the time.

Yeah, it was a funny one, really. That kind of acknowledgement had gained momentum over the past, I guess, 15 years, where I’d been included in group shows in my own right, as well as contributed for COUM, over the years, so it wasn’t so strange. But I kind of thought it was quite ironic. It’s the kind of thing that we would have embraced as COUM, if COUM had still been going. Kind of, like, Yeah, that’s a little bit unexpected, but great! We’ll run with that.

I was given the option of different spaces to do the exhibition: the Ferens Art Gallery, which is kind of, like, quite institutional, and there’s one at the college, the Philip Larkin Gallery, which were both really beautiful. But then I was given the option of a place that could be refurbed, which was bang in the middle of where we used to do all the COUM street actions, and that just felt so right, even though it was derelict at the time [laughs] when I went ‘round, had a look. I said, “Oh, it’s got to be here, because this is where we were, this is where the spirit of COUM was.” So it was carefully planned in that respect. So to be accepted, but then at the same time impose the actual spirit of COUM on it as well, that, Yes, we’ll have that, but we’ll want this space here—that’s the best place, because it’s where we worked.

It sounds like some serendipity was involved overall.

Yes, definitely. It was quite uncanny. There was a lot of things like that going on at the same time. The momentum of that element of serendipity kind of went through the whole, well, two years of preparation, yeah.
 

 
I listened to the audiobook of Art Sex Music, which is really wonderful. I know that you were estranged from your family; had it been a long time since you’d gone back to Hull?

No, I’d gone back to Hull ‘cause my sister still lives there, and Les has lived there, has never moved out. So I’ve always gone back to visit Les, right from. . . yeah, when Nick was born, ‘82, we were back in Hull with Les. I’ve always gone back, I’ve never felt estranged from Hull at all, it’s just my place there has changed in itself.

It’s not the Hull I remember—even more so now, because there’s been a lot of regeneration going on because of the Hull City of Culture. It’s not the Hull I remember like London isn’t the London I remember, either, when I go back there. Places change, and what it means to me, it doesn’t mean that to people who are there now [laughs]. But I still have a real fondness for my time there because it was instrumental in a lot of things I do, and informing me, and forming me, from the very beginning. That was where things began for me.

Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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01.31.2019
08:20 am
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