FOLLOW US ON:
GET THE NEWSLETTER
CONTACT US
The Yardbirds: The legendary supergroup that boasted of Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page & Jeff Beck
08.26.2016
03:10 pm
Topics:
Tags:


 
The Yardbirds are one of those groups who didn’t quite make the jump when the drawbridge goes up between the R&B and “English invasion” beat group era and what came after, i.e the psychedelia and beyond. Very few groups of their vintage did, just a small handful when you think of it—the Beatles, Stones, Who and Kinks obviously come readily to mind—but not the Yardbirds who are often thought of as a mere footnote in the later careers of Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck. The Yardbirds go somewhat a little too far back for many music fans who might otherwise love what’s on offer from them. They are seen ultimately as a B&W era rock act, if you take my point. Unlike one group of their peers—the Pretty Things—they didn’t really last long enough to bloom in that same way, although surely the promise of the Yardbirds flowered within Led Zeppelin, Cream and the Jeff Beck Group (not to mention Renaissance).

But the Yardbirds were an absolutely amazing, astonishing and astounding group. To some, who know “of” them, but not much of the actual music they produced, they have the reputation of being merely a really good English blues band when that’s not even remotely accurate, although this still might be the impression one is left with if you end up introduced to them via a crappy CD compilation (and there are dozens of crappy Yardbirds comps). These guys were insanely great musicians, way ahead of their time, adding exotic instrumentation (sitar, tabla), Gregorian chant, shifting tempos, and screaming and distorted lead guitar solos (and feedback) to the three-minute pop song before any of that stuff was routinely done. Their exemplary mid-60s hit singles are amongst the most innovative and furthest-reaching pop music of its day. Even put up against the measure of what the Beatles were getting up to at the same time, the Yardbirds’ output demonstrated that they could more than hold their own with the toppermost of the poppermost. (Worth noting that the Yardbirds opened for the Beatles at at least one concert in Paris.)
 

 
The Yardbirds (their name a nod to jazz great Charlie Parker) were originally formed in 1963 by lead singer Keith Relf and bassist Paul Samwell-Smith who’d already been in a band together. They were joined by guitarist Chris Dreja, drummer Jim McCarty and the original lead guitarist “Top” Topham, who was then just fifteen and much younger than the rest of them. Top was pressured by his parents to take his education more seriously and he recommended his school chum Eric Clapton to take his place. Within a matter of months of forming, the group was approached by rock impresario Giorgio Gomelsky—who ran the Crawdaddy rhythm and blues club in Richmond—to replace the ascent Rolling Stones as the house band at his hip nightspot. He also became their manager and record producer getting them signed to EMI for Five Live Yardbirds, a recording of one of their sets, featuring blues standards stretched to 5 or 6 minutes with wailing guitar solos and feedback, something they called having a “rave-up.”

Below “Louise” with Eric Clapton on guitar:

 
But when the Yardbirds wanted to do something a little more experimental—like their first hit single “For Your Love”—Eric Clapton got all “blues purist” on them and quit on the very day the single was released, not even agreeing to appear in the promotional film made for the record. Clapton soon joined John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Jimmy Page by that point a session musician boy wonder of some notoriety was approached to replace Clapton. Page turned them down and instead recommended that they hire Jeff Beck (who can be seen below miming Clapton’s guitar parts in the promo for “For Your Love” filmed soon after he joined the group).
 

 
With Beck in the line-up, the Yardbirds were on fire, turning out several classic hit singles and touring America many times, where they had several hit records. When Paul Samwell-Smith decided he wanted to go off and become a record producer, again the group approached Jimmy Page about joining and this time he agreed to help out, filling in on bass until Chris Dreja could learn the instrument, whereupon Page would switch to guitar. But as fate would have it, there was very little actually recorded with the dual guitar Page-Beck pairing.

The legendary guitar-smashing scene in Michelangelo Antonioni’s 60s classic Blow-Up used the Yardbirds to represent the violent energy of “mod” London. Originally—and for obvious reasons—Antonioni wanted The Who to do this, but they weren’t available. Eric Burdon turned him down, too. He thought about having the Velvet Underground in the scene but they couldn’t get a working visa in time and it would have been expensive to fly their entire entourage to London. The director thought about using a band called The In-Crowd (later Tomorrow) a group that featured future Yes-guitarist Steve Howe, but they were jettisoned in favor of the Yardbirds at the last minute. Since they’d already made prop guitars to be smashed, you’ll note that Beck is destroying a Gibson 175, the guitar Howe famously uses.

The song they’re seen performing here, one of the rare instances of a dual lead from Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck is called “Stroll On,” a rewrite of their earlier “Train Kept A-Rollin” hit with the lyrics changed by Keith Relf to avoid any legal problems with the original songwriters.
 

 
Plenty more Yardbirds after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Richard Metzger
|
08.26.2016
03:10 pm
|
Rock Against Racism: On the front line with The Clash, Specials, Undertones & Elvis Costello

10rarclash170s.jpg
 
It all began in 1968 when an old Tory coot Enoch Powell gave a racist speech against immigration and anti-discrimination legislation at his West Midlands constituency in England. Powell claimed he was horrified at what he believed was an unstoppable flow of immigration that would eventually swamp the country where “in fifteen or twenty years’ time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man.” It was an incendiary and offensive speech full bile and hate, and became known as the “Rivers of blood speech” because of Powell’s quotation from Virgil’s Aeneid about “‘the River Tiber foaming with much blood.’”

Many of the white working class supported Powell, most shamefully the London dockers’ union staged a one day strike in his favor. Powell became the pin-up of the far right and his words appeared to sanction their rise, in particular the odious neo-Nazi National Front that promoted its racist policies with the boot as much as the ballot. Against this rose Rock Against Racism—“a raggedy arsed united front” co-founded by Red Saunders, Roger Huddle and others in 1976.

At first, Rock Against Racism was just an idea—a way to bring together a new generation of youth against the stealthy rise of the far right. It may have remained just an idea had it not been for Eric Clapton announcing during a concert in 1976 that the UK had “become overcrowded” and his fans should vote for Enoch Powell to stop Britain from becoming “a black colony.” Allegedly Clapton then shouted “Keep Britain white.” His racist tirade led to Saunders and Huddle writing a letter to the music paper NME pointing out that half Clapton’s music was black. The letter ended with a call for readers to help establish Rock Against Racism. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

In April 1978, 100,000 people marched across London in support of Rock Against Racism, which was followed by a concert at Victoria Park headlined by The Clash and the Tom Robinson Band. It was a momentous event, which singer and activist Billy Bragg correctly described as “the moment when my generation took sides.”

Photographer Syd Shelton documented the rise of Rock Against Racism during the 1970s and 1980s from its first demonstrations, the concert in Victoria Park, to the gigs, bands, musicians (The Clash, The Specials, The Undertones, Elvis Costello, etc), the young activists and supporters who stood up and proudly said: “Love Music, Hate Racism.”
 
20rarclash370s.jpg
 
rar24strummer70s.jpg
 
16rarspecials70s.jpg
 
03rardemo70s.jpg
 
04rardemopolice70s.jpg
 
01rar70s.jpg
 
More rocking pictures against racism, after the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
12.10.2014
01:06 pm
|
After ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’: A gallery of Peter Blake’s pop art album covers

000phsgtbtpetblak67.jpg
The ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ tableau
 
British pop artist Peter Blake still receives copies of The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album in the mail with a fan request to add his signature and send the iconic cover back by return of post. It’s because the cover to Sgt Pepper’s is Blake’s most famous artwork—one made in collaboration with his then wife Jann Haworth.

In 1967, the year of Sgt. Pepper’s, Blake was the leading light of the British pop art movement, exhibiting alongside his fellow talents Pauline Boty, Derek Boshier, R. B. Kitaj, Peter Phillips, Richard Hamilton and David Hockney (until he moved to Los Angeles). What made Blake’s work special then (as it is now) was his ability to create an iconic and identifiable style of representation (through collage, paint and installation) that fully captured that swinging decade. His mix of pop culture ephemera (pop stars, soccer players) together with the semi-autobiographical self-portraiture (of artist as lapel-badge wearing kid in grey short trousers) maintains a traditional narrative form within a highly individual and modernist style.

Blake has continued to produce iconic and memorable art over the decades, and long after Sgt. Pepper’s he is still in great demand as a designer of album covers. This selection ranges from his early work for Liverpool Poet Roger McGough, to his work for his former art school pupil Ian Dury (Blake was, by the singer’s admission, his most important mentor) to Oasis and Paul Weller. Blake has also worked with Eric Clapton on three separate projects though briefly thought he had lost the job on his first Clapton commission (24 Nights) when he ‘fessed up to “Slow Hand” that he couldn’t abide long guitar solos.
 
fsummonkpetebmcgo.jpg
Roger McGough: ‘Summer with Monika’ (1967).
 
aabeatsgtpeblak67.jpg
The Beatles: ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ cover designed by Peter Blake and Jann Haworth, 1967.
 
cpentangpblakswe.jpg
Pentangle: Sweet Child’ (1968).
 
whfacedanwhopbalk81.jpg
The Who: ‘Faces Dances’ (1981). Designed by Peter Blake, with portrait paintings of The Who band members by Bill Jacklin, Tom Phillips, Colin Self, Richard Hamilton, Mike Andrews, llen Jones, David Hockney, Clive Barker, R. B. Kitaj, Howard Hodgkin, Patric Caulfield, Peter Blake himself, Joe Tilson, Patric Proctor and David Tindle.
 
ffbndapblak84.jpg
Band Aid: ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas Time?’ (1984).
 
plwllrpbalk95.jpg
 
plwllrpbalk222.jpg
Paul Weller: ‘Stanley Road’ (1995).
 
dddindrypeblak01.jpg
Various: ‘Brand New Boots and Panties—Tribute to Ian Dury’ (2001).
 
In 1962, director John Schlesinger approached Peter Blake to make a documentary for the BBC about British Pop Art. From the outset, the pair did not get on—Schlesinger had ambitions to make a movie (he did, it was called Billy Liar). Schlesinger left the project and was replaced by the young Ken Russell, who was fast becoming the star director at the BBC’s Monitor arts documentary series. Russell and Blake hit it off immediately and the two developed the documentary into something bigger and better. Russell brought in artist Pauline Boty, who he had wanted to make film with, while Blake brought in artists Peter Philips and Derek Boshier. Under Russell’s directorial guidance the four artists collaborated on a dazzling and highly original film that captured elements of each artist’s personality. The title Pop Goes the Easel was apparently Blake’s suggestion, but the film’s style is all Russell.
 

 
More Blakean covers, after the jump….
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
10.25.2014
03:28 pm
|
Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Neil Young & The Band in ‘The Alternate Last Waltz’
05.20.2014
02:46 pm
Topics:
Tags:


Japanese cinema poster

I was looking for something else entirely when I stumbled across THIS buried treasure: The Band’s complete “Last Waltz” concert, as shot from what must have been the house cameras at Winterland. The audio and video sound quality is amazing and best of all, this is not only how it went down, in the order that it went down, and it’s actually how it sounded before Robbie Robertson went in and overdubbed everything. (It’s also not had that blob of cocaine hanging from Neil Young’s nose edited out through frame by frame rotoscoping….)

As much as you might love The Last Waltz, this is probably even better. I do hope that several of you download this for safekeeping, ‘cos it may not last that long…

1. Introduction / Up on Cripple Creek 0:00
2. Shape I’m In 5:55
3. It Makes No Difference 10:15
4. Life Is A Carnival 17:28
5. This Wheel’s On Fire 22:51
6. The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show 27:26
7. Georgia On My Mind 31:20
8. Ophelia 35:05
9. King Harvest (Has Surely Come) 39:18
10. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down 43:26
11. Stage Fright 48:16
12. Rag Mama Rag 53:23
13. Introduction / Who Do You Love (with Ronnie Hawkins) 57:26
14. Such A Night (with Dr. John) 1:02:45
15. Down South in New Orleans (with Dr. John) 1:07:58
16. Mystery Train (with Paul Butterfield) 1:13:23
17. Caledonia (with Muddy Waters) 1:18:27
18. Mannish Boy (with Muddy Waters) 1:26:20
 

 
Part two begins with Eric Clapton coming onstage to join The Band, followed by Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond and Van Morrison and then poetry from Digger Emmett Grogan, Lenore Kandel, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure and others.

1. All Our Past Times (with Eric Clapton) 0:00
2. Further On Up The Road (with Eric Clapton) 5:39
3. Helpless (with Neil Young) 11:52
4. Four Strong Winds (with Neil Young) 18:01
5. Coyote (with Joni Mitchell) 23:52
6. Shadows And Light (with Joni Mitchell)
7. Furry Sings The Blues (with Joni Mitchell)
8. Dry Your Eyes (with Neil Diamond)
9. Tura Lura Lural (with Van Morrison) 44:10
10. Caravan (with Van Morrison) 48:15
11. Acadian Driftwood (with Joni Mitchell and Neil Young) 54:07
12. Poem (Emmett Grogan) 1:01:18
13. Poem (Hell’s Angel Sweet William) 1:02:41
14. JOY! (Lenore Kandel) 1:06:14
15. Prologue to The Canterbury Tales (Michael McClure) 1:07:36
16. Get Yer Cut Throat Off My Knife / Revolutionary Letter #4
17. Transgressing The Real (Robert Duncan) 1:10:26
18. Poem (Freewheelin Frank Reynolds)
19. The Lord’s Prayer (Lawrence Ferlinghetti)
20. Genetic Method 1:14:15
21. Chest Fever 1:20:25
22. The Last Waltz Suite: Evangeline 1:25:45
 

 
Bob Dylan and the big jam sessions after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Richard Metzger
|
05.20.2014
02:46 pm
|
‘Cry Baby: The Pedal That Rocks The World’


 
The wah-wah guitar effect pedal makes a “cry baby” sound by filtering the electronic frequencies up and down controlled by the players foot. The first one was put on the market in 1967 by Warwick Electronics Inc./Thomas Organ Company, the somewhat accidental creation of Brad Plunkett, a junior electronics engineer at the company. Plunkett’s prototype used a volume pedal from a Vox Continental Organ and a transistorized mid-range booster, but his original goal had only been to switch from a finicky tube to a much cheaper, easier to use piece of solid state circuitry. (Chet Atkins had designed a somewhat similar device in the late 1950s, which you can hear on his “Hot Toddy” and “Slinkey” singles)

Almost immediately the Cry Baby wah-wah pedal was adopted by the most famous guitar slingers in rock. One of the first was Eric Clapton, who used the effect to great effect in “Tales of Brave Ulysses.” Frank Zappa was a huge fan of the effect and is said to have introduced Jimi Hendrix to the Cry Baby who used it on “Burning of the Midnight Lamp” and quite a bit after that. One of the most famous uses of the wah-wah pedal’s “wacka-wacka” effect is heard on Isaac Hayes’ “Theme from Shaft.”

In Joey Tosi and Max Baloian’s documentary Cry Baby: The Pedal That Rocks The World, the filmmakers explore the influence of the wah-wah pedal on popular music, talking to inventor Brad Plunkett, longtime Rolling Stone contributor Ben Fong-Torres, Eddie Van Halen, Slash, Buddy Guy, Art Thompson, Hendrix engineer Eddie Kramer, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, Dweezil Zappa and Jim Dunlop, a man whose name is synonymous with the production of musical effects devices.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
|
04.09.2014
06:14 pm
|
‘The Man Behind the Bass’: Excellent documentary on the legendary Jack Bruce

image
 
You can never judge a man by his knitwear, as Jack Bruce proves in this documentary Jack Bruce: The Man Behind the Bass, in which the legendary musician returns to his homeland of Scotland, to give a guided tour through his life and career, and re-interprets 6 of his classic songs. Here are the ingredients:

Jack Bruce fronted the Sixties supergroup Cream alongside Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker, and has played with everyone from Marvin Gaye to Jimi Hendrix and from Lulu to Lou Reed. ArtWorks tells the story of his life, from childhood in Scotland to global superstardom, through some of Jack’s favourite songs and with contributions from Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Flea of Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Adam Clayton of U2.

The story encompasses some of the biggest riffs and rifts in rock, taking in family tragedy, drugs and near death. A specially chosen set of six songs mark crucial moments in Jack’s life, including Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love”. Jack rerecorded the tracks with some of Scotland’s finest musicians including folk trio Lau, percussionist Jim Sutherland, keyboard player Andy May, guitarist Taj Wyzgowski, drummer Chris Peacock, his nephew Nico Bruce on bass and string ensemble Mr McFall’s Chamber.

This is an excellent documentary, which showcases some of the best of the brilliant Jack Bruce.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

‘Rope Ladder to the Moon’: Solo genius from Cream’s Jack Bruce


 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
09.09.2012
08:18 pm
|
Eric Clapton’s DIsgusting Racist Tirade


 
I was only made aware of this speech by Eric Clapton at a 1976 gig in Birmingham, UK, the other day, but It’s truly disgusting. Here’s a relatively short sample (quoted from Rebel Rock by J. Street (1986) and sourced from New Musical Express, Melody Maker, The Guardian and The Times):

Stop Britain from becoming a black colony. Get the foreigners out. Get the wogs out. Get the coons out. Keep Britain white. I used to be into dope, now I’m into racism. It’s much heavier, man. Fucking wogs, man. Fucking Saudis taking over London. Bastard wogs. Britain is becoming overcrowded and Enoch will stop it and send them all back.

It goes on for a lot longer than that - the entire speech can be heard in the animated YouTube clip below. The “Enoch” Clapton is referring to is the notorious English politician Enoch Powell who in 1968 made the infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech, also in Brimingham. How Clapton didn’t get crucified at the time in the popular press is beyond me, as is the fact that the rest of the concert continued as normal, with no rioting or no bottling. The activist group Rock Against Racism was set up as a direct response to these remarks. Clapton has never properly apologised  - how does he still get away with receiving so much praise and acclaim? Fuck Eric Clapton.  
 

 
Thanks to Joe Spencer for alerting me to this.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
|
07.03.2011
05:08 pm
|
Cream’s Farewell Concert, 1968


 
Farewell Concert is a documentation of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker’s final concert performance together as Cream at the Royal Albert Hall on November 26, 1968. It was originally broadcast by the BBC in January of 1969. The film was directed by pioneering rockumentarian Tony Palmer.

Farewell Concert was always regarded as a bit shoddy due to the muddy sound, herky-jerky camera movement and the often out-of-sync editing. To say nothing of the annoying voice over and the fact that the whole thing consists of tight close-ups.

A new version of Farewell Concert was released in 2005 where the musical performance were shorn of the interviews and narration. Three songs were added and the audio was remixed to 5.1 DTS surround.

Embedding disabled, watch it on YouTube.

Posted by Richard Metzger
|
06.28.2011
02:53 pm
|
‘Clapton is God’: Slowhand reveals his guitar secrets, 1968
06.23.2011
04:47 pm
Topics:
Tags:


Eric Clapton at his grandmother’s house in Surrey, 1970
 
Eric Clapton explains some of the finer points of how he’s able to squeeze such amazing sounds out of his gee-tar, as Jack Bruce looks on. A four and a half minute master class on electric guitar.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
|
06.23.2011
04:47 pm
|
A double pleasure is waiting for you: Amusing Eric Clapton and Dick Sims photograph
04.05.2011
06:30 pm
Topics:
Tags:

image
 
Oh dear, who’s going to want to eat those grapes now?

(via This Is Not Porn)

Posted by Tara McGinley
|
04.05.2011
06:30 pm
|
Scientists examine ‘fever’ around Eric Clapton guitar auction
03.09.2011
04:42 pm
Topics:
Tags:

image
 
There is an interesting article the New York Times about the fever caused by an upcoming charity auction of some of Eric Clapton’s guitars. “Fever” is the right word apparently, because the desire for these guitars (and other once celebrity-owned fetish items) seems to be somehow socially contagious:

Fortunately, social scientists have been hard at work on the answers. After conducting experiments and interviewing guitar players and collectors, they have just published papers analyzing “celebrity contagion” and “imitative magic,” not to mention “a dynamic cyclical model of fetishization appropriate to an age of mass-production.”

One of their conclusions is that the seemingly illogical yearning for a Clapton relic, even a pseudorelic, stems from an instinct crucial to surviving disasters like the Black Death: the belief that certain properties are contagious, either in a good or a bad way. Another conclusion is that the magical thinking chronicled in “primitive” tribes will affect bids for the Clapton guitars being auctioned at Bonhams in Midtown Manhattan.

Some bidders might rationalize their purchases as good investments, or as objects that are worth having just because they provide pleasant memories and mental associations of someone they admire. But those do not seem to be the chief reasons for buying celebrity memorabilia, according to a team of psychologists at Yale.

The researchers asked people how much they would like to buy objects that had been owned by different celebrities, including popular ones like George Clooney and pariahs like Saddam Hussein. People’s affection for the celebrity did not predict how much value they assigned to the memorabilia — apparently they were not buying it primarily for the pleasant associations.

Nor were they chiefly motivated by the prospect of a profit, as the researchers discovered when they tested people’s eagerness to acquire a celebrity possession that could not be resold. That restriction made people less interested in items owned by villains, but it did not seriously dampen their enthusiasm for relics from their idols.

The most important factor seemed to be the degree of “celebrity contagion.” The Yale team found that a sweater owned by a popular celebrity became more valuable to people if they learned it had actually been worn by their idol. But if the sweater had subsequently been cleaned and sterilized, it seemed less valuable to the fans, apparently because the celebrity’s essence had somehow been removed.

“Our results suggest that physical contact with a celebrity boosts the value of an object, so people will pay extra for a guitar that Eric Clapton played, or even held in his hands,” said Paul Bloom, who did the experiments at Yale along with George E. Newman and Gil Diesendruck.

As someone who was bitten—hard—by the collecting bug, I can certainly attest to the fact that you want that personal touch. And since there have also been various points in my life where I’ve had the money to indulge my mania, I can also tell you that a “collector”—if they’ve got the bank balance necessary to cover the cost—WILL blow it ALL on the right item. Been there, done THAT… and more than once, too.

Had I not gotten married, I’d have continued such behavior probably for the rest of my life. Once I got married, it became harder to justify why I needed to spend $300 on yet another signed William Burroughs first edition! My wife beat the collector out of me!

Below, Derek & The Dominos performing “It’s Too Late” on The Johnny Cash Show in 1970:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
|
03.09.2011
04:42 pm
|
Yoko Ono: Twitter Q & A
09.28.2009
05:12 pm
Topics:
Tags:

image

 

Last Friday on Twitter, Yoko Ono announced that she’d answer questions tweeted to @yokoono on her website and mine was one of the ones she answered:

@RichardMetzger
Do you find that children ?

Posted by Richard Metzger
|
09.28.2009
05:12 pm
|