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Soft Machine founding member Kevin Ayers dead at 68
02.20.2013
12:17 pm
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“Kevin Ayers’ talent is so acute you could perform major eye surgery with it.”
—John Peel

Sad to hear that founding Soft Machine member, Kevin Ayers, one of the most important characters in the history of psychedelic rock, has died at the age of 68. The singer-songwriter guitarist passed away at his home in the French village of Montolieu.

During his career that spanned five decades, Ayers worked with the likes of Brian Eno, John Cale, Syd Barrett, Elton John, Nico, Robert Wyatt, Andy Summers and Gong.

Fun fact: Kevin Ayers is “The bugger in the short sleeves fucked my wife” who is referred to in John Cale’s “Guts.” Cale caught them the night before the famous June 1, 1974 recording.

“Eleanor’s Cake (Which Ate Her)”:
 

 
The gorgeous “The Lady Rachel” from 1970’s Joy of a Toy album:
 

 
In this clip taken from the POP2 TV series, Ayers (who obviously spoke French pretty fluently in that plummy public school voice of his) performs in Paris at Taverne De L’Olympia, sometime in May of 1970. Supporting the release of his second solo album, Shooting at the Moon, Ayers plays with The Whole World, a group that included a young Mike Oldfield on bass, avant-garde classical composer David Bedford on keyboards (Bedford had orchestrated Ayers’ Joy of a Toy record previously), and the great jazz saxophonist, Lol Coxhill.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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02.20.2013
12:17 pm
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Wild Thing: Reg Presley, leader singer of The Troggs, has died
02.04.2013
05:19 pm
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Reg Presley, frontman of The Troggs, died today. The cause was cancer. He was 71.

In remembrance of Reg, I’d like to share something from the Dangerous Minds archives: Hilarious, profane and oddly sweet, this is The Troggs Tapes, the sound of a band struggling to get it just right.

Among musicians, the The Troggs Tapes is the gold standard of rock and roll memes. As band members Reg, Dennis, Tony and Ronnie desperately try to nail a take of a song, they progressively melt down, bickering, ranting, and collectively uttering more “fucks” than Tony Montana in Scarface. The tapes are claimed to have been a source of inspiration for This is Spinal Tap.

Here’s a groovy unattributed anecdote which, whether true or not, illustrates the mythology connected to this iconic recording;

Ron Wood was doing some studio work with Bob Dylan and over the course of the gig played Dylan the “Troggs Tapes”. Not unnaturally, Dylan thought they were very funny.

It turned out that Troggs singer Reg Presley was working in an adjacent studio making a demo for a commercial.

When Wood discovered this, he approached Dylan all excited, saying “Remember that guy on the tape I played you? Well, he’s next door right now!”

Dylan says, “Really?! Wow, I gotta meet him. You gotta introduce me!”

So Ron Wood takes Bob Dylan next door to find Reg disconsolately fumbling with a bass guitar.

Dylan, by way of introduction, says “Hey, I didn’t know you played bass, man. How long you been playing bass?”

Reg looks up and with a deep sigh says, “All fuckin’ afternoon, mate, all fuckin’ afternoon”.

Larry Page has posted a transcript of The Troggs Tapes here.

Here’s one of my favorite bits:

Ronnie: Whether you think so or not, that is a number-fucking one, and if that bastard don’t go, then I’ll fucking retire! I fucking do!

Dennis: I think it is a good song. I agree, it is a good song.

Ronnie: But it fucking well won’t be unless we spend a little bit of fucking thought and imagination to fucking make it a fucking number one. You gotta put a little bit of fucking fairy dust over the bastard, you know…..

 

Posted by Marc Campbell
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02.04.2013
05:19 pm
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‘Bury me with my boots on’: Sid Vicious’s death wish
01.23.2013
05:55 pm
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A few days before he fatally overdosed on some particularly strong heroin, Sid Vicious wrote what appears to be a suicide note. Sid’s mother, Anne Beverley, found it in the pocket of his jeans after his death. The note makes one wonder whether or not Vicious knew exactly what he was doing when he injected that smack into his arm.

We had a death pact. Please bury me next to my baby. Bury me in my black leather jacket, jeans and motorcycle boots.

 

Posted by Marc Campbell
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01.23.2013
05:55 pm
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Sharon Tate gives Merv Griffin a tour of London’s Carnaby Street, 1966
01.18.2013
12:41 pm
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ststpffcstshst
 
Sharon Tate takes Merv Griffin on a tour of swinging London’s Carnaby Street, in August 1966.

A poignant piece of TV history capturing much of the innocence, idealism, and happiness that seemed to infuse the sixties. All of which is usurped by our grim knowledge of what happened to Sharon Tate only a few years later.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

Blondie on Merv Griffin, 1980


 
With thanks to Simon Wells!
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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01.18.2013
12:41 pm
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R.I.P. Lloyd Charmers, reggae pioneer and NSFW tunesmith
12.29.2012
01:45 pm
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Lloyd Charmers

 
Reggae singer/session keyboardist/producer Lloyd Charmers’s death in London a few days ago brings into sharp focus the steady passing of musicians from a generation that saw Jamaica become independent during their 20s. But it also sees the passing of one of the island nation’s premier producers of the dirty reggae song artform.

Charmers was born Lloyd Tyrell in 1946 in the Trench Town district of Kingston, Jamaica, and very little is documented of his early life. After getting his feet wet in Jamaica’s late-‘50s shuffle R&B scene, Charmers started his first group, the Charmers in 1962 with Roy Wilson, and after they split, he kept using the Charmers name for many of his subsequent records. 

When The Charmers split, he joined Slim Smith and Jimmy Riley in The Uniques, a group that unleashed a crucial clutch of hits like “My Conversation”…
 

 
…and others which in true Jamaican style would be redone and revived as a “riddim” countless times to generate a bunch of other hits for the dancehalls, as represented by this mix…
 

 
After the jump: More on the Charmers legacy…

READ ON
Posted by Ron Nachmann
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12.29.2012
01:45 pm
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Happy birthday Jean-Michel Basquiat: ‘Radiant Child’ documentary in full
12.22.2012
03:18 pm
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Jean-Michel mohawk!
 
Feverishly prolific New York graf-based expressionist painter Jean-Michel Basquiat would have turned 52 today. That fact jars us because of the inevitable Peter Pan myth that accompanies the premature death of any young artist in any discipline.

Though I hate to pursue it, does it depress us to imagine a middle-aged JMB? Would he be still cocooned and slickly dressed, and now entrenched and heavily sponsored downtown, or maybe bugged-out HR-from-Bad-Brains style, redolent in gray dreads, pursued often and obtained for the occasional commission in order to keep up his paranoid existence in who-knows-where?

Of course, Basquiat’s influence dwarfs the downtown New York art scene in the way that he embodied the New York mix of hip-hop, post-punk, and fashion. But our culture also tends to rely on him in an unspoken way as a kind of purified representation of redundant cliches like doomed youth, avant-garde blackness, and the price of fame. We do best to remember each of those features as part of him—and separately, we do best to remember Basquiat as Basquiat.

In that spirit, we draw your attention to Tamra Davis’s excellent documentary, Jean-Michel Basquiat: Radiant Child, kindly uploaded to YouTube for the budget-minded…
 

 
Thanks to the excellent musician Aybee Deepblak...

Posted by Ron Nachmann
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12.22.2012
03:18 pm
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He opened doors to new worlds: Ravi Shankar, R.I.P.
12.12.2012
12:05 am
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Ravi Shankar died earlier today at the age of 92. He had been suffering from upper respiratory and heart problems and had undergone heart-valve replacement surgery last week. He died in a hospital near his home in Southern California.

Ravi Shankar was a musician that not only introduced many of us to new sounds but also to a new kind of consciousness, a state of mind and heart in which music clearly revealed its spiritual nature.

Rumi wrote “we rarely hear the inward music, but we’re all dancing to it nevertheless.” Ravi Shankar brought the “inward music” outward and suffused popular culture with his sweet celestial sound and in it we found that part of ourselves that was dancing, now and forever.

In celebration of the beauty of Ravi Shankar’s life and influence, here is an excerpt from his historic and groundbreaking performance at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967. The audience’s ovation at the end of his four hour set says it all: this truly was a moment for the ages.

The clip is from D.A. Pennebaker’s Monterey Pop.
 

 
A lovely feature-length documentary on Ravi Shankar and interviews with Ravi and George Harrison plus footage of The Beatles in India after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Marc Campbell
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12.12.2012
12:05 am
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Spirit drummer Ed Cassidy, R.I.P.
12.06.2012
10:59 pm
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Mr. Skin has died at the age of 89. At this time, cause of death has not been disclosed.

Ed Cassidy was a big reason that Spirit has always been one of my favorite American rock bands. The guy was bigger-than-life, a musician whose formidable skills were matched by his theatricality. And at a time when kids distrusted anyone over 30 and longhair was a symbol of how cool you were, here comes this old bald dude who was hipper than they were. It shattered some stereotypes. As sad as it is to see him go, the fact that he lived until the ripe old age of 89 is the equivalent of an astonishing 178 in rock ‘n’ roll years.

Cassidy played with some jazz cats like Roland Kirk and Cannonball Adderly but didn’t get into rock until he was well into his forties. He formed Little Red Rooster in 1965 with stepson Randy California, Mark Andes and Jay Ferguson. In 1967, they changed their name to Spirit and became a monolithic presence on the Southern California rock scene and eventually a world wide success. Cassidy and California were terrific musicians as well as showmen. They delivered the goods.

Here’s Cassidy and California playing in Germany in 1978.
 

 
Previously on DM: Spirit on late night TV.

Posted by Marc Campbell
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12.06.2012
10:59 pm
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Brubeck in context: The BBC’s ‘1959: The Year That Changed Jazz’
12.06.2012
04:52 pm
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Pianist Dave Brubeck’s shedding of his mortal coil yesterday reminds us how important it is to view a figure like him in relation to his time.

Luckily we have BBC4’s 2009 documentary, 1959: The Year That Changed Jazz to do just that. Produced by documentarian Paul Bernays and UK jazz DJ Jez Nelson, 1959 scrutinizes the impact of Brubeck’s classic Time Out album alongside three others from that year: Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, Charles Mingus’s Ah Um and Ornette Coleman’s The Shape Of Jazz To Come.

The main Brubeck segment starts 12 minutes in, and the doc explores both the racial politics inherent in the Brubeck phenomenon, and the influence of his band’s groundbreaking 1959 tour of the Soviet Bloc, Mideast and South Asia on Time Out. But the whole hour is worth watching, if only for the compelling close-readings of masterpieces like Davis’s iconic “So What,” Coleman’s intense “Lonely Woman,” Mingus’s firey “Fables of Faubus.” The doc’s juxtaposition of Brubeck’s ascendance to Mr. Cool-ness against Coleman’s Cold War-tinged urgency is also a nice touch.

With an interview roster that includes Hal Wilner, Lou Reed, Stanley Crouch, Charlie Haden, Sue Mingus, Herbie Hancock and Nat Hentoff, 1959 offers up some crucial background as to what made Brubeck and his contemporaries what they were.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Dave Brubeck Quartet: In Concert, Germany 1966

 

Posted by Ron Nachmann
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12.06.2012
04:52 pm
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Dave Brubeck Quartet: In Concert, Germany 1966
12.05.2012
07:59 pm
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dave_brubeck_quartet
 
Dave Brubeck claimed he had 2 ambitions when he first started out as a Jazz musician - “to play polytonally and polyrhythmically.”

He also said his inspiration for rhythm was the heart beat, for this was what we heard first, and last.

Brubeck was a giant of Jazz, whose passing at the age of 91, brings an end to one of the greatest eras of American Jazz.

He popularized Jazz like few other composers/musicians of his day, becoming a household name and the first million-selling Jazz musician, who also made the cover of Time magazine in 1954. The purists didn’t like him, and many classed his brand of Jazz as “easy listening”, but this is to do him and his music a great disservice.

Take a listen to the Dave Brubeck Quartet (Brubeck - Piano, Paul Desmond - Alto Saxophone, Joe Morello - Drums, Gene Wright - Bass), filmed in concert in Germany, November 6th, 1966.

Track LIsting:

01. “Take the ‘A’ Train”
02. “Forty Days”
03. “I’m in a Dancing Mood”
04. “Koto Song”
05. “Take Five”

R.I.P. Dave Brubeck 1920-2012
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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12.05.2012
07:59 pm
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