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Tiny Tim, the Cleveland Browns and a bear made a sword and sorcery movie
11.09.2018
08:30 am
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As an answer to “The Super Bowl Shuffle,” the 1986 Cleveland Browns released this short fantasy film on home video. It co-stars Tiny Tim and a trained bear.

Masters of the Gridiron concerns a beautiful dream Browns center Mike Baab has after sustaining a massive head injury on the field—you know, the kind that causes permanent brain damage in people who play football. After losing consciousness, Baab awakes in an enchanted realm, transformed into a sword and sorcery hero, “the Baabarian,” who must confront Tiny Tim’s evil Lord of the League in the quest for a magic ring. Hometown heroes the Michael Stanley Band provide the soundtrack for the Browns’ LARP battles with the bear and some ninjas, filmed at the local landmark Squire’s Castle.

I’m sure this movie contains a lot of inside jokes for football fans; I don’t understand the rules of football, or why it is played, or how it is watched, though I have a vague sense that the Cleveland Browns must be all right, because Pere Ubu probably roots for them. I just like Masters of the Gridiron because it contains some of Tiny Tim’s best work. He is riveting as the Lord of the League, who issues his challenge in verse.

Talking to USA Today in 2013, Baab said Tiny didn’t work with bears:

He was terrified of the bear and would not come down from the top of the Squire’s Castle until the bear was back in his trailer. He thought the bear wanted to eat him.

If you watch nothing else, skip to Tiny’s first appearance at 7:18. Tell me it isn’t one of the best things you’ve ever seen.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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11.09.2018
08:30 am
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The fascinating world of tribute bands
11.08.2018
07:07 am
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Tribute
 
I’m fascinated by the subculture of tribute bands. The groups that are serious work hard to replicate whatever act they are paying tribute to, and I’m intrigued by all the different reasons why they do it. It’s not just the bands that are interesting, but also the attendees of the shows, some of whom are fanatical. In the early 2000s, a few indie documentaries concerning the subject were released, but they’ve all been pretty much forgotten. Which is too bad, as the two I’ve seen are both worth checking out.

I first saw Tribute years ago on the Sundance channel, and have watched it a number of times. The film follows five tribute bands, and I found myself mesmerized by their stories. There’s a surprising amount of drama, often reaching Spinal Tap-esque levels of absurdity. In Tribute, we get to know the people who play in these bands, and for many, performing as a member of a famous group in front of an enthusiastic audience is the thing that makes them happiest. A frequent attendee of the gigs put on by Queen tribute act, Sheer Heart Attack, is profiled. His dedication is unwavering because he gets to experience a Queen live show, despite the fact that the Queen he loves no longer exists, and gets to see the band in an up close, personal setting.
 
Sheer Heart Attack
 
Tributary – A Study of an American Pop Culture Subculture is the work of Russell Forster. The director first made waves with his 1995 documentary about obsessive collectors of 8-track tapes, So Wrong They’re Right. Tributary was his follow-up film. Forster aims for a scholarly approach here, dividing the bands into categories based on what he believes their motivations are. There are way more groups in Tributary—including the high concept and fabulous Ace’s High, a KISS tribute band whose members all dressed up like Ace Frehley—so you get more bang for your buck. At least you get more Aces…
 
Keep reading after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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11.08.2018
07:07 am
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Van Morrison abruptly releases long-sought-after ‘Catacombs Tapes’ on iTunes UK
11.08.2018
06:53 am
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Yesterday was a good day for Van Morrison completists.

Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks is one of the most important and most special albums of the 1960s. The album was recorded in New York in September/October 1968 and released a few weeks later. Morrison composed the music in Boston during the summer of 1968, and a series of gigs at a venue called the Catacombs, located at at 1120 Boylston Street in the Fenway, proved pivotal to the process.

One of the gigs during that run at the Catacombs was recorded, but the tapes have never been heard by the public.

Until yesterday, that is.

The Catacombs tapes document a show from August 1968. A Boston musician and writer named Ryan Walsh has spent years trying to find them; for obvious reasons the tapes became known as “the Catacombs tapes.” Peter Wolf told Walsh that he had the Catacombs tapes in his possession but had not listened to them for years. He added that a person would have to “bake the tapes” before they could be played; that is, a specialist Wolf knew in Maine would have to literally bake the tapes in an oven, a process that would enable the tapes to withstand playback without disintegrating or being shredded.

Walsh made the Catacombs tapes a pivotal part of a book on Morrison he released earlier this year called Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968. As Walsh pertinently asks in his book, “What did the Astral Weeks songs sound like before producer Lewis Merenstein’s jazz ringers got hold of them?”

Good question.

Yesterday Walsh posted a remarkable series of tweets discussing the decision by Morrison to release the Catacombs tapes on iTunes UK for the likely purpose of retaining copyright to them. Here is that tweetstorm:
 

This is totally bananas.

Today, @vanmorrison unceremoniously released the ‘68 “Catacombs Tapes” as a live album on iTunes UK. This is the legendary recording I spend the whole #AstralWeeks1968 book trying to track down & hear…and, uh, now YOU can too! https://apple.co/2ASrhOL

1) The most sensical interpretation of the terrible cover art & UK-digital-only distribution is that this release is a “copyright dump,” i.e. its main function is to preserve Morrison’s copyright of the recording (otherwise, come January, it would become public domain).

2) Tom and John (the Boston musicians who appear on this recording) let me know they signed releases for Van’s lawyer this fall, so we suspected some kind of release was imminent. I guess we just thought, oh you know, maybe you’d design a nice cover and/or CREDIT Tom & John!

3) To hear this you will need someone in the UK to buy it for you, which is insane, I understand. I’d also imagine these files will be on…all kinds of sites now that they’ve been officially released.

4) This is the exact recording I heard and played for Tom and John except that the audio has been further cleaned and boosted, AND there’s one extra song (“Sit Down Funny Face”), but, yes, this is Peter Wolf’s recording.

5) Tom Kielbania (bass) is over the moon about this release. This is the only audio proof he had anything to do with any of this (and settles the debate about whether he indeed wrote the bassline for ‘Cyprus Avenue’ (and other AW songs) as he has long claimed)...

6)...as well as demonstrating that the Boston trio really did develop the acoustic, pastoral sound of Astral Weeks in the weeks before they were replaced by jazz musicians in New York. You’ll agree when you listen, I’m sure.

7) I still can’t tell you who slid me a copy.

8) The digital liner notes don’t mention the venue name, the other musicians, or even that it was Wolf who recorded it. They left the cool tape-unspooling noises in there instead of fading songs out, which was the right choice.

9) The poster for the concert here, courtesy of the David Bieber Archives (would have made a nice album cover, right?). Here’s Eric Kraft’s review of these concerts for Boston After Dark as well—>
 

 
10) Maybe the ownership of Astral Weeks is set to change-over to Van and he’s planning on a better release of this material as part of a box set package? Or maybe not. This whole thing is VERY Van Morrison.

11) The lone, surviving Astral Weeks studio outtake, “Train” remains unreleased still, of course. This is the song in which Van sings about Cambridge, MA like its the most mystical place you ever did encounter. It’s very cool.

12) “Train” IS on this live bootleg, but gets cut off before the verses about Massachusetts.

13) I truly am so happy you all get to hear this now. I didn’t mind getting pestered about it, but I did start to worry when ppl started asking Marissa about the tapes.

14) Now all we need is a death certificate for Mel Lyman.

 
As Walsh points out, people who do not live in the U.K. will have to wait until they hit “all kinds of sites now that they’ve been officially released.”

This picture, of (L to R) songwriter Jeff Barry, Bang Records founder Bert Berns, Van Morrison, Janet Rigsbee, and Bang Records employee Carmine “Wassel” DeNoia on a boat on the Hudson River in New York City in 1967, which I encountered during research for this article, is rapidly ascending my list of favorite things in the world.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider
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11.08.2018
06:53 am
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‘Manifesto’ or new sounds for a new decade: Roxy Music live in concert, 1979
11.05.2018
12:56 pm
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01roxmusbf.jpg
 
1979: After a four-year break between studio albums, Roxy Music regrouped and recorded their sixth LP Manifesto. The question was not whether it would be any good, but whether Roxy Music was still relevant in a post-punk world? A week may be a long time in politics, but four years is one helluva career in pop.

Not that Roxy’s key members Bryan Ferry, Andy MacKay, Phil Manzanera, and drummer “the great” Paul Thompson were slouches during the band’s downtime. Ferry had established himself as a highly successful solo artist. MacKay had worked on two seasons of the ground-breaking TV series Rock Follies for which he had co-written 49 songs. Manzanera had recorded and released two solo albums Diamond Head (1975) and K-Scope (1978), the first being correctly described by Kurt Loder in Rolling Stone as “one of the great British rock albums of the mid-Seventies.” Thompson gave his talents to his bandmates’ solo projects and played with other bands.

That’s the backstory to 1979.
 
03roxmus79.jpg
 
As a band, Roxy Music was the sound of the future filtered through the past. Just their name alone suggested a 1930s dance band with some Brylcreemed lead singer crooning love songs into a silver microphone. The music, starting with the debut single “Virginia Plain” in 1972, was unique, utterly original, and influenced a host of bands from the Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees (who apparently met at a Roxy concert) to Madness and Duran Duran. During their first decade, Roxy Music produced a body of work—eight classic studio albums—which sounds as new today as when they were first released.
 
02roxmusmani.jpg
 
Which brings us to Manifesto. Though the album was eagerly anticipated there were questions as to what exactly a group of thirtysomethings could offer the music world after the seismic shift caused by punk, new wave, disco, synth, and the early hints of New Romantics. Though the album could be described as a mix, it was still an exceptional A-.

In some respects, it was a kind of work-in-progress that tapped into the early, “futuristic sound” of Roxy and the new, mature, soulful, sophisticated rock that would reach its zenith with Roxy’s eighth studio album Avalon. Ferry was always a crooner. Listen to him on the second-half of “Mother of Pearl” or the beautiful and haunting “Chance Meeting.” He was once (aptly) described by writer Michael Bracewell as “Jay Gatsby meets Marcello Mastroianni.” He had always been a crooner, a soulful singer, who gave his very own distinctive vocal-sound to Roxy’s artpop.  Now he was creating a new sophisticated sound which was best indicated by his song “Dance Away” and those co-written with MacKay (“Angel Eyes”) and Manzanera (“Trash,” “Still Falls the Rain,” and “Manifesto”). The opening lyrics to “Trash” (“Are you customized or ready-made?”) suggest Ferry’s own ambiguous role of being both an artpop-provocateur and a traditional singer. He was moving away from the youthful “rock” to more plaintive ballads. This switch can be heard in the startling difference between the album version of “Angel Eyes,” which was more rock ‘n’ roll than the lush and superior sounding single version. Roxy Music was now on the verge of their greatest success, as Manifesto saw the band score big in the US market and become a staple of FM radio. 

More, plus Roxy Music in concert, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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11.05.2018
12:56 pm
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Nirvana, Mudhoney, and the audience battle shitty security guards during Sub Pop’s ‘Lame Fest,’ 1989
11.02.2018
09:51 am
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Lame Fest poster
 
Sub Pop is one of the most important and influential American record labels. Started in 1988 by Jonathan Poneman and Bruce Pavitt, and based in Seattle, Sup Pop put out early recordings by such groups as Mudhoney, the Afghan Whigs, the Flaming Lips, Soundgarden, the Screaming Trees, and Nirvana. Poneman and Pavitt not only have good taste and a keen sense for what will sell, but are also masters at branding and marketing. For example, their Sub Pop Singles Club, in which subscribers willingly fork over their money with no prior knowledge of the participating bands, was a game changer, and the label came up with a t-shirt with the word “Loser” emblazoned across the front, and the Sub Pop logo on the back. The shirt is now iconic.

On June 9, 1989, Sub Pop’s “Lame Fest” was held at the Moore Theater in Seattle. Nirvana, Mudhoney, and another young Sub Pop group, TAD, were on the bill. It was a wild night, with the bands and the crowd battling the security guards.
 
Marquee
 
Dangerous Minds has an excerpt from the upcoming Gillian G. Gaar book, World Domination: The Sub Pop Records Story, in which details of the event are told. The passage also gets into the second Lame Fest, as well as the Nirvana contract, insisted upon by the band, that would one day benefit the label. The text begins with reference to the recent attention Sub Pop acts had received in the British press.

Sub Pop’s profile was further heightened stateside at the label’s first “Lame Fest,” held on June 9 at Seattle’s Moore Theatre, featuring Nirvana, TAD, and Mudhoney and billed as “Seattle’s lamest bands in a one-night orgy of sweat and insanity!” Initially, there had been doubts that the show would make any money; local bands played clubs, not a fifteen-hundred-seat theater. But the concert ended up selling out.

“Booking the Moore was an epic gesture, which is how we did things,” Bruce Pavitt notes with pride. “The bands were killing it live, so we knew Seattle would go o if we could get people there. The theater’s manager let most of his security staff go prior to the show, thinking that nobody would show up. And there was complete pandemonium. Google those YouTube videos, kids, it’s an epic moment!” The show doubled as a release party for Nirvana’s first album, Bleach (the first thousand copies on white vinyl).

 
Nirvana 1
 

Nirvana had also recently become the first act to sign a record contract with Sub Pop. Earlier in the year, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic had turned up at Bruce’s house one evening, demanding a written contract; previously, Sub Pop had only made verbal agreements with its artists. Jon [Poneman] hastily drafted a one-year contract, with options for two further years; the contract was signed on June 3 but backdated to January 1, 1989. “Righteous heaviness from these Olympia pop stars,” was the Sub Pop catalog’s assessment of Bleach. “They’re young, they own their own van, and they’re going to make us rich!”

 
Nirvana 2
 

The success of the first Lame Fest led to a second one being held overseas. “Jon and I had very little resources but a lot of enthusiasm at that time,” Bruce recalls. “And we were constantly brainstorming and trying to piece together strategies that would help convince the rest of the world that Seattle had an amazing rock scene. Once we saw that model work in Seattle, we were really dead set on getting all three bands playing in London and getting as many press people and photographers there as possible.”

With Nirvana, TAD, and Mudhoney all touring the UK and Europe that fall, a Lame Fest date was arranged for December 3 at London’s Astoria Theatre. Bruce cites the concert as “a true turning point in the international stature of the Seattle music scene.”

 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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11.02.2018
09:51 am
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RIP Hardy Fox, ‘primary composer’ and ‘co-founder’ of the Residents
11.01.2018
08:35 am
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Hardy Fox, 1945-2018 (via hardyfox.com)
 
Almost nine years ago, I was interviewing Hardy Fox, the president of the Cryptic Corporation, by Skype. He was telling me about hopes the Residents had expressed over the years for advances in stage technology: touring holographic productions that would fit on a disk, music that would cause everyone in the audience to have a simultaneous orgasm. And then he said the most surprising thing anyone’s said to me during an interview:

Actually, they always wanted to have an album, like a gatefold album that when you opened it, it was just a hole—and it would give you instant vertigo, like you would be terrified to open it because you could fall into it and get lost.

Like a bottomless pit—inside the record? Is that what you’re talking about, Hardy?

Exactly. It opens up—it would just terrify you because it would just be so empty.

I strongly suspected Hardy had more to do with the Residents than he let on, but I was too much a fan of the band to have any interest in unmasking its members, which would not only spoil the mystery, but unmask me as a discourteous jerk. Invading the privacy of the coolest people in the world doesn’t make you a brilliant sleuth; it makes you an asshole. Who wants to be the guy staking out Thomas Pynchon’s apartment with a telephoto lens? So I didn’t bring it up, nor did I have to, considering how he ended our conversation:

Actually, I feel honored that someone of your youth seems to have as much knowledge and information about things that I have spent my life working on, and so that somewhat honors me that it wasn’t just working out into the void that’s inside that album cover, waiting.

I supposed he could have been talking about all the marketing work he’d done for the Residents, but it sure didn’t sound that way.
 

 
Hardy’s former role in the Residents has been hiding in plain sight for some time now on the home page of his website. It’s right there in the first paragraph of his bio:

Hardy Fox grew up in Texas. After college he moved to San Francisco reveling in the free love days of 1967-68. He co-founded the much loved cult band, the Residents, where he was primary composer.

Hardy retired from The Residents in 2015 but continued to compose for the group through 2018. In addition to his work with that band, he has recorded as a solo artist under various names including Charles Bobuck, Combo de Mechanico, Sonido de la Noche, Chuck, TAR, among others.

Hardy talked about leaving the Residents and undergoing heart surgery in an interview with Musique Machine earlier this year. Last month, the dates “1945-2018” appeared on Hardy’s website and Facebook page, and he sent out a message to the Hacienda Bridge mailing list that began: “I’m 73. Dying of a head thing that will get me soon. So what.” On Tuesday morning, this notice turned up in my inbox, accompanied by the photo of Rod Serling below:

RIP
BRAIN CANCER
HARDY FOX
1945 - 2018

 

 
That evening, the Residents posted this obituary at residents.com:

It is with with great sorrow and regret that The Cryptic Corporation announces the passing of longtime associate, Hardy Fox. As president of the corporation from 1982-2016, the company benefited from Hardy’s instinct for leadership and direction, but his true value came from his longtime association with The Residents. As the group’s producer, engineer, as well as collaborator on much of their material, Fox’s influence on The Residents was indelible; despite any formal training, his musicality was nevertheless unique, highly refined and prolific. Blessed with a vital sense of aesthetics, a keen ear, and an exquisite love of the absurd, Hardy’s smiling face was a constant source of joy to those around him. He will be missed.

After a series of recent health problems, Hardy succumbed to a brief illness. He is survived by his husband, Steven Kloman.

Ave atque vale, Hardy Fox. Thanks for a billion hours of musical pleasure.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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11.01.2018
08:35 am
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Genya Ravan’s duet with Lou Reed
10.31.2018
08:20 am
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Lou Reed and Genya Ravan performing ‘Aye Co’lorado’ at the Bottom Line

In 1978, Lou Reed and Genya Ravan appeared on one another’s solo albums. Ravan contributed backing vocals to Reed’s Street Hassle, and Reed sang on “Aye Co’lorado,” Ravan’s song about a Puerto Rican boyfriend/dealer on the first side of her Urban Desire. (Which also had a John Cale song on side two: “Darling I Need You,” from Cale’s great Slow Dazzle.) 

In her memoir Lollipop Lounge, Ravan writes that when guitarist Ritchie Fliegler introduced the New York rockers at the Urban Desire session, Lou made a characteristically charming allusion to Ravan’s history with Goldie and the Gingerbreads:

The first thing Lou said to me after we’d been introduced was: “My grandmother bought your records years ago.”

There was a deathly silence in the studio.

I looked him in the eye and said, “Yeah, well at least someone in your family had good taste in music. What happened to you?”

He laughed, the tension eased, and we quickly became friends. He immediately accepted that I was the one in charge here, that I called all the shots.

I gave him the handwritten lyric of “Aye, Co’Lorado” and we went into Studio A. The mikes were already on, ready to go, and we stood facing each other. We ran the song down to the track. It was great!

“Okay,” said Lou. “I think I got it now.” I grinned. I’d let him believe we were just rehearsing, but in fact I’d signaled to the engineer to get the tape rolling. It was a deliberate deception on my part, one I often practiced with singers when I wanted to get a “live” feel . . .

I let Lou do three more takes of the song with me, out of respect for his wishes, but as I’d thought they would they all sounded a bit cold after that, lacking in the real feel. That first take was the one we used. Lou agreed with me after hearing all the takes he’d done.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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10.31.2018
08:20 am
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Hey! Ho! Halloween! Ramones fans decked out in costume at a gig in a college gym, October 1978
10.30.2018
08:45 am
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A flier for a Halloween-themed dance party in a gym belonging to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) on October 28th, 1978.
 

“The Ramones are on the verge of making it big. Their dreams will come true in their quest for stardom. Now that bands like Black Sabbath and Foreigner are letting the Ramones be their opening act, it will eventually lead to the others’ demise and the Ramones’ rise. Johnny is confident that the kids will see the difference in energy, and finally let bands like Black Sabbath fade and die.”

—the words of a journalist for the Commonwealth Times going by the name “Million Dollar” Gamble in a review of the Ramones’ Halloween gig at the Franklin Street Gym.

In September of 1978, the Ramones released their fourth album, Road to Ruin which included the sing-along anthem, “I Wanna Be Sedated,” a song Joey Ramone often referred to as his favorite recording with the band. It was also the band’s first record with Marky Ramone (Marc Steven Bell) who replaced original drummer Tommy (Thomas Erdelyi). In their review for the record in 1978, Rolling Stone called it a “really good album” noting while Road to Ruin didn’t have the power of their 1976 self-titled debut, this was in no way an indication the Ramones were “losing their grip.” Since 1976 their tour schedule was relentless taking them around the world—in 1978 alone they played approximately 147 shows often playing bigger venues and college campuses sharing bills with Blondie, The Heartbreakers, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, The Cramps, and Patti Smith. One such show went down in the gymnasium of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) the Saturday before Halloween on October 28th, 1978. VCU billed the event as a “Halloween Dance” and if you were a student attending in costume, tickets were only $2.50 with the promise of a certain “golden beverage” being on hand at the show.
 

Illustrations and signatures from Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee, and Marky Ramone published in the Commonwealth Times, 1978.
 
As a veteran participant of all things Halloween (I went out to a party last weekend dressed as Ronnie James Dio because of course, I did), I can assure you the Saturday preceding Halloween is serious business for revelers like myself. So when VCU put out the word the Ramones were playing the annual Halloween Dance and there was going to be beer, you better believe the kids came out in costume to see it all go down. A few weeks later, and as noted by “Million Dollar” Gamble, the Ramones would play a gig with Black Sabbath and Van Halen during VH’s first world tour. This event also relates back to what Gamble said in the quote at the top of this post indicating it was time for bands like Black Sabbath to “fade and die” as the original version of Sabbath was about to implode anyway. In addition to the review of the show, I also came across a very cool recollection from a former VCU student named Doug who was not only at the show, but held the dream-job position of “dressing room security.” Get ready, because Doug’s story is really, really something:

“My favorite Ramones memory was at a 1978 VCU Halloween concert in Richmond. I had just joined the school Concert Committee and was assigned to dressing room security. Basically, the job entailed hanging out with the Moans before and after the show and attending to their simple needs. I remember running back to my dorm room to get my crappy black & white TV so the boys could watch the KISS movie (Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park) before their turn on stage. I also did a horrible poster for the show with a silhouette of the band from their first album cover. Tommy had left by then, so when I got the band to autograph it, Marky Xed out Tommy’s head before he signed.

Other fond recollections include watching Dee Dee use his switchblade to carve the lining out of Joey’s new leather jacket ‘cause it was “too hooooot.” Sitting in and asking a question or two during the prerequisite backstage interview. Joey whining cause he couldn’t find his mineral water. Johnny being quiet and sweet. Marky acting dumb and silent. And Dee Dee drawing vaguely fascist graffiti on the chalkboard.

Ah, youth…”

As they say, not all heroes wear capes, but, as this was a Halloween-themed event, perhaps Doug was wearing one that night. At the very least I hope he wears one when he tells this story. Thankfully, a photographer with the Commonwealth Times was there taking snapshots of fans at the show, as well as a few black and white shots of the band on stage in the gym, which you can see below. I also included the official video for “She’s the One” shot in 1978 which, until recently, had resided inside a nondescript 16mm film canister for 40 years. Rhino unleashed the video in conjunction with the release of a 40th anniversary box set for Road to Ruin late last month. Hey! Ho! Let’s GO!
 

Photos from the VCU gym show.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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10.30.2018
08:45 am
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I Walk with Demons: Roky Erickson depicts selling his soul to the devil on public TV, Halloween ‘84
10.30.2018
08:23 am
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Does it get any more Halloween than Roky Erickson? The ex-13th Floor Elevators frontman has been at the center of our Hallows’ Eve playlists since his “Bleib Alien” years. With songs depicting themes of old sci-fi and horror films, plus an unsettling personal struggle with mental illness, Roky makes Ozzy look like the Easter Bunny!
 
In 1984, Erickson appeared on Austin Community Television for a music documentary titled Demon Angel: A Day and Night with Roky Erickson. The hour-long special features a rotating interjection of interview and performance segments, with an ever-so cheery and quick-witted Erickson on the devil’s holiday, Halloween.
 

 
The interview portion, which may have taken place on a different day than Halloween, is conducted by Swedish writer Georg Cederskog. The two can be found hanging out and blazing cigs in a sunny backyard somewhere in Austin, Texas. They discuss a variety of topics, including Roky’s belief that he is the only “horror rock artist” and that Bob Dylan is some sort of a demon from another planet. The type of demon that won’t hurt you, however. He then proceeds to play a cover of Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.”
 
When asked if he likes cops, Roky responds “Sure, I like to wait awhile and then watch their program. They’ve got a show on at night called COPS.” The two talk about serious subjects too, like whether or not Erickson thinks we will ever have to worry about atomic warfare (“I’ve always believed in America”) and if he likes Ronald Reagan (“I’ve liked all the presidents”). They even touch upon Roky’s stint in the state hospital, as part of an insanity plea for possession of a single marijuana joint in 1969. It was during this time, in between electro-shock treatments, that Erickson wrote his poetry book Openers under the name “Roky writing as the Reverend Roger Roky Kynard Erickson.”
 

 
Around the thirteen-minute mark, Roky and George discuss a subject that Erickson has sung about many times before: the devil. Roky claims that he sold his soul to the devil, “about 4-5 years ago.” He then goes on the describe the process - he was alone and “all these pieces of paper appeared” for him to sign his life away. Ironically, this would have been when Roky entered into a record deal with CBS Records Europe (Columbia) for his first solo record, Roky Erickson and the Aliens (1980). He claims that the reason he signed was so the devil would always have possession over him, and therefore he “can never make a mistake.” Don’t shake me, Lucifer!
 
Perhaps even more interesting is the location of the live performance, which liner notes indicate was filmed somewhere at an eerie “underground creek.” Most of the songs are played solo acoustic and electric, with some featuring guitar accompaniment by local producer, Mike Alvarez (the man behind the “Woodshock” festival). They play a dozen-or-so Roky Erickson classics, including “Two Headed Dog,” “Night of the Vampire,” “Starry Eyes,” “Cold Night for Alligators,” and two Elevators’ favorites, “Splash 1” and “You’re Gonna Miss Me.” The entire thing is truly haunting.
 
Spend your Halloween with Roky Erickson in 1984, below:
 

 

Posted by Bennett Kogon
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10.30.2018
08:23 am
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‘Ballad of Jimi’: The song that ‘predicted’ the death of Jimi Hendrix
10.26.2018
11:49 am
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Jimi Hendrix
 
As any self-respecting rock fan knows, Jimi Hendrix’s electrifying performance at the June 1967 Monterey Pop Festival made him a star. During the years leading up to his fame, Hendrix was a sideman, playing live and recording in the studio with such acts as Little Richard and the Isley Brothers. An R&B singer named Curtis Knight was another performer Hendrix worked with, becoming a part of the singer’s backing band, the Squires, in 1965 (in 2015, we first told you about the Knight/Hendrix association). In October of ’65, Hendrix played his first recording session with Knight. That same month, Knight introduced Hendrix to Ed Chalpin, a producer who also owned an independent record company. Jimi then famously signed a three-year contract with Chalpin for $1—a decision that would later result in major legal battles for Hendrix, which went on for the rest of life, and continued for decades after his death.
 
Hendrix and Knight
Hendrix and Knight on stage at the Cheetah in New York City, circa May 1966.

Once Jimi hit it big, Chalpin licensed the Knight songs Hendrix played on to a myriad of record labels for singles and albums, which were subsequently issued in a number of countries. A tune called “Ballad of Jimi” was frequently amongst the track listings of these releases, including the widely distributed 1968 edition of Get That Feeling on London Records. The LP was credited to “Jimi Hendrix and Curtis Knight,” and featured a photo of Jimi shot at Monterey Pop. Knight received songwriting credit for “Ballad of Jimi,” also known as “Ballad of Jimmy” and “My Best Friend.” The lyrics concern a girl that the singer of the song (Knight) and his best friend both dig. The girl goes out with the buddy, who dies in a car wreck on their first date. The singer later marries the girl on the fifth anniversary of his best friend’s death.

For the track, Jimi used a wah-wah pedal, and his guitar playing can be heard throughout.
 

 
Hendrix overdubbed the part when he reunited with Knight and Chalpin for two session dates in July and August 1967. Inconceivable, considering Chalpin was, at the time, attempting to legally stop the release of more Jimi Hendrix Experience albums. Studio chatter captured on tape reveals Hendrix telling Chalpin “You can’t use my name,” in relation to the recordings they were making, to which the producer laughs and tells Jimi not to worry about it.
 
1968 single
Danish picture sleeve, 1968.

Hendrix died on September 18, 1970. By years’ end, “Ballad of Jimi” had been re-released as a single.
 
1971 single
Dutch picture sleeve, 1971. The photo of Knight and Hendrix was taken at the July 1967 recording session.

After Jimi’s death, Knight and Chalpin went back into the studio and re-cut’s Knight’s vocal (which isn’t particularly good on either version), and the lyrics were altered. The focus of the song was now the best friend, Jimi/Jimmy, a guitar player who foresees his own demise (“Five years, this he said.”). As evidence that the track was cut five years—to the day—prior to Hendrix’s passing, an alleged copy of the session log was included with a German pressing of the “Ballad of Jimi” 45.
 
Session log
 
Putting aside the distastefulness of the endeavor, there are quite a few holes in this fantastic story. First of all, Hendrix first went into the studio with Knight and Chalpin in October 1965, weeks after the September 18 date. Secondly, “Ballad of Jimi” had been already out a few years, with significantly different lyrics. Thirdly, the wah-wah pedal didn’t hit the marketplace until early 1967—well after the claimed 1965 date.

Experience Hendrix, the company owned and operated by the Hendrix family, now has the rights to not only the Curtis Knight recordings Jimi played on, but all of the tapes that had been controlled by Ed Chalpin.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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10.26.2018
11:49 am
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