My brother Josh pointed out another perfect one in the form of “She Brings The Rain” by the venerable Can. DM reader Jason W points us in the direction of this description of the film from which it originally came. Somebody needs to dig that film up, pronto !
Before there were iPods, or even CDs, and around the time cassettes let break dancers move the party to a cardboard dance floor on the sidewalk, there were boomboxes. It’s been 20 years since the devices disappeared from the streets. It’s high time to press rewind on this aspect of America’s musical history.
Back in the day, you could take your music with you and play it loud, even if people didn’t want to hear it. 150 decibels of power-packed bass blasted out on street corners from New York City to Topeka. Starting in the mid-‘70s, boomboxes were available everywhere, and they weren’t too expensive. Young inner-city kids lugged them around, and kids in the suburbs kept them in their cars.
They weren’t just portable tape players with the speakers built in. You could record off the radio, and most had double cassette decks, so if you were walking down the street and you heard something you liked, you could go up to the kid and ask to dub a copy.
They were called boomboxes, or ghetto blasters. But to most of the young kids in New York City, they were just a box.
Why hello there everyone. First of all much thanks to Brad, Richard, Tara and Jason for having me here. I shall do my best to keep pace (a little) with your collective geniuses.
I thought I might begin by offering a sampling of the mysterious South Korean chanteuse Kim Jung Mi. I’ve been bewitched by her stylings and especially the raw production and playing on her early 70’s records ever since being introduced to her by the amazing vinyl archivists over at Mutant Sounds (about whom much more in future posts). I’ve found virtually nothing on her in English so I certainly welcome information from any Korean pop aficionados out there. So far the best bit I could glean was from YouTube user “ProudKoreanGuy” who claims : “Her songs kept getting censored so much by the South Korean government at that?ج
When I moved to Los Angeles from New York in 1991, one of the first things I noticed right off the bat (besides the 99 Cents Only stores, the vast number of strip malls and the LA Weekly ads for butt cheek implants) was how great L.A. radio was. Notice I wrote was... as in past tense.
Cut to 2009 and the radio landscape in the City of Angels is getting kinda lame. If you’re not into the far right talk of Dr. Laura, the all reggaeton, all the time stations or Britney Spears, you’re pretty much out of luck these days. When Indie 103.1 morphed into the Latin format of El Gato earlier this year, it really felt like the final nail in the coffin for L.A. rock radio. High-profile rock DJs like Henry Rollins and Sex Pistol Steve Jones were cut adrift from their loyal listening audiences and there was sadness in the streets.
But now rock fans, rejoice, for Jonesy is back! Jonesy’s Jukebox is operational again, but this time on the Internet, streaming live for one hour a day on the www.iamrogue.com website run by producer Ryan Kavanaugh.
Now L.A.‘s finest DJ can spin for the rest of the world. I, for one, certainly will be listening.
Below: Young Mr. Jones and some of his mates swearing on live television in 1976:
If you’ve never heard of Jobriath Boone, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Obscure even by “rock snob” standards, Jobriath was the first really openly gay rock star. David Bowie and Lou Reed flirted with bisexuality, nail polish and make-up, of course, but Jobriath was in his own words, “a true fairy.” He wasn’t just “out of the closet” he was out like a police siren with the volume turned up to eleven!
I’ve been a Jobriath freak for about 20 years, dating back to when I stumbled upon his first second LP at a New York City flea market. “What is THIS?” was my initial reaction to the cover, obviously influenced by the artwork for David Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs.” [I’m wrong about this, see comments]. Clearly from the image on the cover, Jobriath was a 70s glitter rock wannabe. Make that perhaps a “neverwas,” for aside from a massive advertising campaign that saw his image on 250 New York buses and a 40 foot high poster in Times Square, two solid LPs (recorded with the likes of Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones and Peter Frampton) and a memorable Midnight Special performance, Jobriath was a massive flop at the time.
Too gay for mid-America in 1974? For sure, but that hasn’t stopped Jobriath’s Broadway showtunes meets glam rock oeuvre from being rediscovered by fresh ears this decade. Championed by Morrissey, Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys and singer-actress Ann Magnuson (who once told me that I was “the only straight guy in the world who’s ever even HEARD of Jobriath” back in the early 90s), the tiny cult of Jobriath got a lot of new members when the CD complation Lonely Planet Boy was released in 2004. His life was also a major part of the inspiration for Todd Haynes’ Velvet Goldmine although few people realize that fact (the “Maxwell Demon” album covers are direct homages to the original Jobriath records). Admittedly, his music isn’t for everyone—some people just HATE it—but for those of you who embraced the once equally obscure Klaus Nomi, you’ll probably love Jobriath.
I think it’s safe to say that all four of us here at Dangerous Minds are big Julian Cope fans. Jason and I are HUGE fans and I have loved The Teardrop Explodes and followed Cope since I was a teen. The guy’s as cool as anyone’s ever been, he doesn’t care what you think about him and he can write the best guitar riffs since Ray Davies. I’ve seen him in concert four times, read all of his books and I interviewed him once around the time Peggy Suicide was released, in 1991. He was a fascinating guy to talk to, full of energy, his mind wandering off in every direction at once. My guess is also that he was probably pretty stoned that day!
My friend Wm. Ferguson and I met the Arch Drude at the Island Records offices near Tower Records in lower Manhattan. During the interview Cope told us about the mystical experience he had that led to his vision of the earth dying that inspired Peggy Suicide’s somewhat bleak environmentalist message. I recall that we discussed a certain book about Helena Blavatsky which he and I had both read and he compared the physical sensation of his mystic moment to the first time a pubescent boy masturbates, not quite pleasurable and very confusing, a sort of mental orgasm felt in the brain. I asked him if he felt conflicted about bringing a child into a world—his wife Dorian was then pregnant with their first daughter—that he so obviously thought was terminal. He paused and said, “Well, yeah the world is fucked, but it’s not THAT fucked that it can’t be saved, certainly. We’ve got to try.” I then voiced my own skepticism about bring new life into the world—I was 25 at the time—and he said something that I will never forget and have repeated to friends expecting children several times: “If people like you and I stop having children, we’ve ceded our world to the idiots. All intelligent people should have as many babies as possible to prevent all the thick, ungroovy Christians from taking over.”
When we were leaving, I mentioned in passing that I’d seen the infamous Hammersmith Palais show of his first UK solo tour in 1984, a concert that saw Cope performing a bloody act of self-mutilation. During the encore of Reynard the Fox, Cope snapped his mike-stand in half and proceeded to rake the jagged edge across his chest, back and stomach drawing lots of blood and generally freaking out the entire audience! Up until the very end it had been a slick, professional rock show. A girl standing near me puked when she saw what he had done. It cemented Cope’s reputation as a Syd Barrett-like acid casualty.
Cope laughed sheepishly and pulled out his wallet. “Well, you’ll appreciate this: Whenever I’m feeling like I am fucked in the head, I pull out this picture—” it was of a bloodied Cope from the concert I’d seen “—and I remind myself that however fucked up I think I am I am still not THAT fucked!”
And with that he was off. It’s often said of Cope that he’s the last of a dying breed or something to that effect. Not true. This implies that there were more like him, but Julian Cope’s a one off. All hail the Arch Drude!
Above, Julian Cope, tripping on LSD during a Top of the Pops performance of Passionate Friend. Read about this experience in Cope’s own words here.
Maybe I’m just getting old and cranky, but I found Your Scene Sucks rather amusing. From the website:
everyone seems to be involved in some sort of strange contest where the winner wears the tightest jeans, puts on the silliest looking makeup, and sports the worst haircut. in the end, everyone loses. you all end up looking the same.
referring to the kids involved with today’s music scene, my good friend dave mcwane once said, “it’s not a fucking fashion show.” truer words have never been spoken.