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Easy riders: The Runaways, Marc Bolan, Frank Zappa & many more rock stars on motorcycles
05.30.2018
10:10 am
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The Runaways and their bad motorscooters.
 
It has been a while since I’ve put together a mega-post full of images of rock stars engaged in activities such as hanging out at the beach, playing records, or roller skating. This time around I’ve managed to cull photos of rock royalty with their motorcycles—or just posing along with a sweet Harley Davidson or classic Triumph. Much like a motorcycle, the idols in this post are synonymous with badassery—just like weathered battle jackets, dirty leather, and doing 60mph on a tight curve.

In January of this year I wrote a post about the time Judas Priest vocalist/motorcycle enthusiast Rob Halford challenged Queen’s Freddy Mercury to a “motorcycle race” after he saw Freddy glamming it up with a bike in the video for “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” Halford was miffed at Mercury for using the bike as a prop and wanted him to prove he was man enough to ride one. If there is one thing I believe we can all agree on, it is the following: Rob Halford and Freddie Mercury are both quantifiable badasses, and they both look great in leather chaps. I’ve posted photos of other musical luminaries you’d expect to appear in this post such as Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead, members of Led Zeppelin, life-long biker Sly Stone, and Marc Bolan because, in general, Marc Bolan loves riding on top of things. And just so you know there are a plethora of photos featuring cool girls getting their bad-motor-scooting on such as Françoise Hardy, The Runaways (pictured at the top of this post), Debbie Harry, Chrissie Hynde, and the great Doro Pesch of Warlock. Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!
 

1975.
 

KISS, mid-70s.
 

Sid Vicious.
 
More motorcycle madness, after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.30.2018
10:10 am
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Frank Zappa, serial killers and the all-girl dance troupe L.A. Knockers


Members of the dance troupe/cabaret L.A. Knockers getting ready to take the stage at the Playboy Club in Los Angeles in the late 1970s.
 
I’ve learned many things here writing for Dangerous Minds—one that there is always more to a picture than meets the eye. Which is why I took it upon myself to find out more about mid-70s all-girl dance troupe/cabaret act, L.A. Knockers. Their act was a fan favorite in the Los Angeles club scene where you could find the girls performing at The Starwood, The Troubadour, The Comedy Store, The Matrix Theater, and the Playboy Club. The shows curated exclusively for the Playboy Club included a strange sounding sexed-up comedic version of a 1978 medley by The Village People, “The Women” featuring members of the Knockers dressed as John Travolta (in Saturday Night Fever mode), Dracula, Superman, King Kong and Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. And that was just for starters.

The members of L.A. Knockers would grow through the dozen or so years they were together and they performed all over the country to packed houses, but most often in Las Vegas and Reno. Knockers’ principal choreographer Jennifer Stace would bring the dance-magic to the group as did choreographer, Marilyn Corwin. Corwin worked her disco moves with The Village People, for the movie, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo (1984) and with Frank Zappa during some of his live performances. The Knockers caught the eye of Zappa, who, according to an article published in 1981 in Italian magazine L’Espresso, wanted to take the Knockers on tour with him, a claim that perhaps at first sounded like it had no legs, but it much like the Knockers, actually did. On New Year’s Eve in 1976, Zappa played a show at the Forum in Los Angeles which included members of the L.A. Knockers dressed like babies in diapers and white afro wigs. Hey, even Frank Zappa thought they were cool as fuck, which, without question, they were.

Any story worth reading must include a twist, and this is where the part about the Hillside Stranglers, the horrific serial killers and cousins Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, comes in. Twenty-one-year-old Lissa Kastin, an original member of L.A. Knockers would become Bianchi and Buono’s third victim. In 1985’s The Hillside Stranglers by Darcy O’Brien, the author notes that Kastin was not “an attractive enough victim” for the degenerate cousins who were put off by her “health nut looks” and “unshaved legs.” In some true crime circles, Kastin would be referred to as “the ugly girl” among the Hillside Stranglers’ female body count thanks to a photo used by the newspapers—an image that looked almost nothing like the young, rising star.

Below are some incredible photos taken by Elisa Leonelli which lovingly chronicle the L.A. Knockers’ decade-plus career in showbiz as well as a compilation video of the troupe performing live which you simply must see. Some of the images which follow are slightly NSFW.
 

Original members of L.A. Knockers, Jennifer Stace (left), Lissa Kastin (RIP, center) and Yana Nirvana (right).
 

1978.
 
More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.01.2018
09:37 am
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‘King Kong’: Watch a 10-year-old blind pianist play Frank Zappa’s concert showstopper
04.25.2018
12:10 pm
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In the clip below you can watch a 10-year-old blind Swedish pianist by the name of Mats Öberg play the shit out of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention’s sixties concert centerpiece “King Kong.” Not only is the interview (which is translated) charming, the performance is solid.

Mats, who is blind since birth, is backed by his drum-playing pal, then 13-year-old Morgan Ågren and apparently Morgan’s dad on bass. Morgan and Mats joined forces that year in a project called Zappsteetoot and they are still playing and recording together to this day as the Mats/Morgan Band. Morgan Ågren also plays with the reunited 70s Swedish progressive rock band Kaipa.

Mats and Morgan were invited by Frank Zappa himself to do a guest performance at his Stockholm performance in 1988. From Morgan’s website:

In 1988 when Frank came to Stockholm with the Broadway the Hard Way- tour, me and Mats got to meet and play with Zappa on his gig in Stockholm, as guests ! Mat’s uncle (jazz pianist Berndt Egerbladh) had contacted Frank’s tour leader and informed him about us, that we were in this band called Zappsteetoot, that Mats had listened to Franks music since he was 8 years old, and that he knew all of his music. So when Frank got to hear about us, he said he wanted to meet us. Me and Mats sneaked in to Frank’s soundcheck and afterward Frank’s tour leader came out and told us Frank was waiting for us backstage.

We walked to Frank’s room, and there he was - our teenage idol and major influence ! We shook hands and sat down on a couch. Frank started to ask us how we were doing, which of his material we knew etc. Me and Mats ended up playing on our knees and singing. Frank said: “do you know this…have you played that…” After a while he said: ” well I’m amazed that two young guys from a little town called Umeå, knows so much about my music.” Then turning to Mats he said: “You have listened to my music so much, - you should know what I look like.” Frank took Mats hand and laid it on his forehead, and Mats began to feel how Frank looked! And Frank said: “Don’t forget the famous nose!” Frank was so incredibly nice to us and we had a wonderful time. We also gave him a tape with our own music, including one Zappa piece, “T’Mershi Duween,” which surprised Frank cause it wasn’t released at the time, but we knew it from a bootleg. Frank didn’t listen to the tape; there wasn’t even a tape recorder there, but he said: “Maybe we should do something…” We didn’t have a clue what he was thinking. He scratched his head and said : “Would you like to come up and play “T’Mershi Duween” as guests? We gonna do “Big Swifty” tonight, and in the middle section of the song there is this open part were everything can happen! So if you walk behind the stage when you hear the “Big Swifty” theme, I’ll introduce you after a while, okay?”

The thing was that it was only 30 min before the show, and the audience was already inside the hall, so no time to try the keyboards or the drums. What sound will be on the keyboard? What kind of sticks does Chad use? Questions natural for us to ask ourselves before going up on stage with Frank Zappa facing a crowd of 10.000 people.

To me, most part of Franks show was hard to enjoy - I had other things on my mind. We were soon suppose to go up and play, and I couldn’t even remember the fucking song that well either, so I had to think about how it really went. We had only played it once before, a year earlier - the version we gave to Frank on tape.

Showtime!

When the “Big Swifty” theme came we left our seats, and walked backstage. After convincing one of the guards that we were about to go up and play with Frank, my next problem was I desperately needed to go to the toilet. I had lost the ability to feel needs like that- I had other things to think about. Another 5 min passed and I really had to go. I started to feel pain, I got totally confused; what would happen if Frank introduces us for 10 000 people, and I’m at the toilet unable to even hear him ? No thanks. I even asked a guy from the crew if I could make it. As if he would know! But now I just had to do it, I was in such pain I probably wouldn’t even play properly. I told Mats: “I gotta go, you wait here.” Mats were sitting on a case just behind the stage. I ran backstage rooms and found a toilet. Finished my business and just as I opened the door from the backstage rooms, I could hear Frank introducing us. I ran like a maniac, grabbed Mats arm and we went up on stage. Lucky us I was fast!

A huge round of applauds welcomed us. We were at home, and a lot of people knew about us. The applauds just got even louder as I walked Mats over to Bobby Martin’s keyboards. Bobby said: “Here’s a Yamaha DX-9, and here is the Yamaha electric grand - good luck! ” The band kept a reggae beat going during our entrance, which was good; if it had just been silence it would have felt strange, but now we could sort of start our jam from the groove already going. I led Mats behind the keyboards and adjusted the mikestand a little, then I walked to the drum set. A guy from the crew came from nowhere and put a new pair of drumsticks in my hands. Luckily they were the same model I used to play at the time. When Chad saw me coming he stood up, but kept the beat on the hi-hat.

I sat down and continued where Chad left off, but me and Mats soon started to loosen in up to something else. We had to do our thing, so we just jammed for a couple minutes, like we always use to. The drums felt okay, the keyboards too, I think. I felt high up there, it was just totally amazing. I don’t like using standard phrases like “a religious feeling” but this was something else, it really was. I was in heaven. Much because of the fact I could see Frank standing in front of the drumset with a BIG smile holding his conductor stick. He really liked what we were doing, and that gave us a big kick. We missed a little during the “T´Mershi Duween” theme, but we had probably never played as good before as we did then. Scott played along a little and so did Ed and Mike. After we finished, I left the drum seat, and ran to get Mats away from the keyboards, cause the “Big Swifty” theme had just started again, and Bobby Martin was about to play again, but Mats were sitting in his way. Mats, who is blind, was waiting for me to pick him up! I got Mats and passed Frank as we were leaving the stage. Frank stopped conducting just for a second to applaud us, and the audience followed with even more volume than before. We walked of the stage and got back to our seats to see the rest of the show.

At the end of the show, Frank introduced the band like he always use to, with a chord in the background, saying: “Ike Willis, Scott Thunes etc. AND…Mats Öberg & Morgan Ågren, thanks for coming to the show, hope you liked it. Good night! ” We were sitting in the audience listening to Frank Zappa - introducing us!! When they came back for an encore, Frank grabbed the microphone and said: “Those guys were great!” So guess if we were excited!

After the encores we met in Frank’s room backstage again. He said we have to do this again sometime and we exchanged addresses. Frank told us that he was looking for a new drummer and keyboard player, and then he just kind of stared at us without really saying anything more. I think he wanted to tease us a little bit too, because he was obviously talking about me and Mats. Frank even wrote down some notes on a piece of paper which showed his way of notating drums, he gave it to me and told me to get used to it. Then it was time to go home; go home and wait for the phone to ring…

Although I wasn’t aware of them at the time, I actually saw Mats and Morgan performing as part of the famous “Zappa’s Universe” concert that was held in New York at the old Studio 54 (then doing business as the Ritz) in 1991. It was just before this concert began that Frank Zappa’s children Dweezil and Moon Unit announced that their father was dying of terminal cancer and would not be performing that evening. (In the cab to that show I can also vividly recall hearing on the radio that Magic Johnson had announced that he’d contracted HIV.)

Morgan, who posted the video to YouTube himself had this to say about the clip:

“I sent a copy of this VHS to Frank Zappa just a few months before he passed away (since we play Franks piece “King Kong” on this video). Called Gail Zappa later on to express my condolences, and just before we hang up Gail says “by the way, Frank watched the video that you sent, and he really loved it”. That was great to hear cause I wasn’t sure the VHS even reached his house. ❤️”

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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04.25.2018
12:10 pm
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‘Run Home, Slow’: The obscure (and weird) low-budget western scored by Frank Zappa
03.09.2018
08:01 am
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Ad
 
The cheapo ‘60s western Run Home, Slow has largely been forgotten—I mean, have you ever heard of it? If you have, it’s surely because you know that a pre-fame Frank Zappa wrote the film’s score. But did you know Frank would re-tool some of the cues for his Mothers of Invention and solo work? As for the soundtrack, it would be decades before any of the recordings would be included on a Zappa release, and still much of it can only be heard via the film, which hasn’t been easy to see.

Zappa’s involvement with the movie came about thanks to Don Cerveris, Frank’s former high school English teacher and good friend. In 1959, Cerveris, who had quit teaching to be a screenwriter, wrote the screenplay for Run Home, Slow, and got the young FZ a job scoring the picture. The production experienced many delays. Around 1964, Frank was finally able to record his chamber music for the film, conducting a small ensemble and playing guitar. FZ was eventually compensated for his work—well, partially, at least. He used what money he did receive to buy a new guitar, and took over the lease at a local recording studio where he had been employed the past few years, renaming it “Studio Z.”
 
Studio Z
Yep, that’s Frank, sans his trademark ‘stache.

Run Home, Slow was released in 1965. The film concerns the Hagens, a strange family out to avenge their father’s murder. The powerful Judd Hagen was hanged by locals, who viewed him as a vicious man who thought he was God. They also thought he was crazy, a trait he seems to have passed on to his children. Academy Award winner Mercedes McCambridge was cast in the lead role of Nell Hagen, the gruff and manipulative matriarch of the Hagen family (DM readers might remember her as the villain in another western, Johnny Guitar). Though McCambridge is the most recognizable face here, her best-known role is for one in which she wasn’t even seen—she’s the iconic voice of the demon in The Exorcist.

Run Home, Slow is not a well-made film by any stretch, but the kooky characters and their bizarre relationships keeps things entertaining. That’s all icing on the cake, though, as we’re not really here for the story.
 
Still
The clan of weirdos in ‘Run Home, Slow’ (Mercedes McCambridge is on the far right).

The first Run Home, Slow soundtrack recording to be released came in 1985, when the main title theme was included on Mystery Disc, which, at the time, could only be had by way of the Old Masters boxed set.
 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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03.09.2018
08:01 am
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HE IS RISEN! The face of Frank Zappa has miraculously appeared on a doorknob


 
Jesus of Nazareth, known in certain circles as “Christ” and regarded among members of that fellowship as the spiritual redeemer of humanity, has a long-standing reputation as a worker of miracles. Supernatural interventions attributed to him include the transformation of matter, healing, walking on water, the resurrection of the dead, and even surviving his own execution.

But all of that was a very long time ago, and in more recent years, this allegedly supernatural figure seems to have limited his miraculous activities to causing his image to appear in various foods. And a dog’s asshole. While not unimpressive, these miracles seem rather prosaic under the long shadow cast by his divine reputation, which prompts one to wonder if that reputation isn’t perhaps a tad exaggerated? But such sightings have become sufficiently infamous that toasters and sandwich presses are available for faithful who don’t wish to wait for a miracle to be be touched by His bready visage.

And now, it seems, that this Jesus fellow has been joined by some illustrious company.

The iconic American musician and composer Frank Vincent Zappa has few miracles attributed to him in his lifetime, though he arguably cheated death in 1971. Death, as it is wont to do, finally claimed its victory over Zappa in 1993, but unlike Jesus, he has made no credibly documented miraculous reappearances—until now, in an Alabama shitter. A Fairhope, Alabama resident who boasts the wonderful name Patrick Mutual made a public Facebook post last week offering incontrovertible photographic proof of his father’s discovery of a Frank Zappa miracle bathroom doorknob.
 

 

 

 

 
As is clear if you read the post, Mr. Mutual is attempting to sell the doorknob for a hefty premium, but though the FB post states a $30K asking price, the actual eBay listing sports a Buy It Now price of only $25,000 plus $3.64 shipping. (Dangerous Minds officially loves anyone who’d sell a doorknob for 25K and still add a shipping charge.) As this is the only big ticket Zappa-related sale we know of in the last couple years that doesn’t benefit the massively depressing Zappa Family Trust, and because he’s committed 20% of the final sale price to benefit African Children’s Charities, we wish Mutual the best of luck in finding a buyer.
 

 
Much worldly love to Matt Verba for hipping us to this religious experience.
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Cheesus Christ, the grater story ever told
Everything you need to know about the Frank Zappa auction
You can own Frank Zappa’s Thing-Fish mask
Woman convinced toaster possessed by Satan, 1984

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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01.17.2018
07:48 am
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Frank Zappa’s disastrous 1982 European tour ends with a full-scale riot
12.22.2017
07:02 am
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Poster
 
Frank Zappa’s 1982 European tour was anything but conventional. Shows were booked in unusual venues with odd stage configurations that, on at least one occasion, contributed to violence breaking out. 

In May 1982, Frank and his group began their three-month European trek, which was in support of his latest album, Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch. The record includes “Valley Girl,” FZ’s collaboration with his teenage daughter, Moon, which became a surprise hit. The European outing ended in mid-July after a number of concerts that didn’t exactly go as planned. The artwork for Zappa’s next album, The Man From Utopia, depicted the unpleasant events of the 1982 European tour.
 
The Man From Utopia
 
In Geneva, Frank ended a gig prematurely when the crowd wouldn’t stop throwing crap at the band, beginning with a lit cigarette. Some members of the audience—once they realized the show was over—began rioting, wrecking the stage in the process.   
 

 
The Milan concert was in a vacant lot held near a lake, and when the lights went up at the start of the gig, the stage was swarmed by mosquitoes, which the musicians spent the remainder of the show trying to swat away as they played. They also had to avoid something even worse, when used syringes were tossed onto the stage by fans shooting up in the front row. Fun, right?

The final concert of the tour took place on July 14th, 1982 at Stadio Comunale La Favorita, an Italian soccer stadium in Palermo, Sicily.
 
Ticket
 
For some reason, the stage was set up in the middle of the stadium, with a large amount of empty space between the band and the audience. Fans quickly grew agitated, with some leaving their seats to sprint across the field in order to get close to the stage. Soon both the army and the police would step in to try and quell the crowd, but their tactics only riled up the audience more, resulting in a full-scale riot.

As the band were playing a new tune, “Cocaine Decisions,” they were startled by an unexpected noise in the crowd. The moment was included on You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 3. Here’s Frank (taken from the set’s liner notes):

You can hear a loud ‘crack’ as the first tear gas grenade is launched, causing all of us to fumble in confusion momentarily. We couldn’t see what was going on out in the middle of the soccer field. The army and the local police (who didn’t like each other, and were completely uncoordinated) began a random process of blasting these little presents into the crowd. We could see fires in the distant bleachers. Tear gas seeped onto the stage. We continued the show in spite of this.

Continues after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Bart Bealmear
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12.22.2017
07:02 am
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You can own Frank Zappa’s Thing-Fish mask
10.27.2017
08:43 am
Topics:
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Here’s an uncontroversial opinion: Frank Zappa’s Thing-Fish is totally insane. It’s a 1984 parody of a Broadway musical that attempted to satirize the AIDS crisis, South African Apartheid, the Religious Right, and a host of other social concerns by positing a government conspiracy to turn homosexuals and African Americans into duck-billed, potato headed monsters called “Mammy Nuns.” Much of the plot is narrated by one of these mutants, who happened to be Kingfish Stevens from the old Amos ’N’ Andy show. To be clear, it wasn’t supposed to be actor Tim Moore, who played the character on TV, it was supposed to be the actual character Kingfish. In any case, by 1984, hardly anybody remembered that show anymore.
 

Thing-Fish, left; Kingfish, right. Who could have foreseen that this opus would be viewed as problematic?

It’s a mess that tries to do way too much (it was initially released as a triple LP), and at the SAME TIME it’s lazy as all hell—it’s full of callbacks to older Zappa albums, and too many of its tracks are old instrumentals repurposed with Ike Willis’ narration. But most fatally of all, the work availed itself HEAVILY of the tropes of minstrelsy. That conceit was intended by Zappa as a means to attack bigotry and to underscore ongoing unfair media representation of African Americans, but it’s easy to see it as cringeworthy as all fuck even if you know Thing-Fish’s backstory and you get its in-jokes. Though the maddeningly continued relevance of its satire has somewhat rehabbed its reputation in hindsight, and all the callbacks are fun for devoted Zappa trainspotters, it was seen as a deeply alienating failed work in its time, and it remains justly regarded as a monumental dud from Zappa’s most creatively fallow period (it arrived on the heels of The Man From Utopia, saving THAT album from being regarded as Zappa’s worst).

But whether the LP succeeds conceptually or not, it birthed some of the most bizarre and indelible imagery of the rock era. The Mammy Nuns themselves, based on the title character’s depiction on the LP cover, look like Howard the Duck sculpted from feces.

Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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10.27.2017
08:43 am
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‘Cocksuckers’ Ball’: The story behind the X-rated ‘50s doo wop song that was covered by Frank Zappa
10.12.2017
08:01 am
Topics:
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FZ and the Clovers
 
In the early 1950s, a highly successful doo wop group recorded a track so filthy that if Mike Pence heard it—if his wife would let him—he’d self-destruct. The song wasn’t released. Well, not officially, anyway. Years later, a certain mother (no, not Pence’s wife) performed a version of the obscure tune for amused audiences the world over.

The Clovers were one of the most popular doo wop acts of the 1950s. From 1951-1956, they scored nineteen R&B hits for Atlantic Records, including “Fool, Fool, Fool” and “One Mint Julep”. In 1957, the risqué “Down in the Alley” was released, but didn’t chart. Their final hit Leiber & Stoller’s “Love Potion No. 9,” came in 1959.

In his 2011 book, Filthy English: the How, Why, When and What of Everyday Swearing, author Peter Silverton wrote about an usual Clovers recording session:

In 1953, doo wop group the Clovers turned up for a session at their record label Atlantic’s central Manhattan studio. They told their label boss and producer, Ahmet Ertegun, that they wanted to record something of their own this time. This was something of a surprise to [Ertegun]. Like most R&B acts of the day, the Clovers sang songs that were given to them to sing. Still, they were one of Atlantic’s biggest acts. So, he decided to humor their request to record one of their own songs. They stepped up to the mikes. The engineer set the tape rolling.

Singing acapella, the group laid down a track that surely shocked Ertegun with its over-the-top raunchiness. The name of the song? “Rotten Cocksuckers’ Ball.”

 
The Clovers
 
What the Clovers recorded was a parody of the jazz standard “The Darktown Strutters’ Ball,” which written in 1917. Here’s a version sung by Ella Fitzgerald from 1936:
 

 
The term “Darktown” was a reference to a Chicago neighborhood. “Darktown” is outdated language and surely offensive to most in 2017, but there wasn’t any racist intent by the composer, Shelton Brooks, who was black. Read an interesting, in-depth analysis of the song here.

If you’re an American and at all wondering about the use of the term “cock” in “Rotten Cocksuckers’ Ball,” you’re not alone. In the north, “cock” is slang for penis, but in the south, for hundreds of years “cock” referred to female genitalia. That’s largely changed in the past couple of decades, but was still in vogue when the Clovers recorded the song. So, we can surmise how the members of the group—who hailed from Washington D.C., which is below the Mason-Dixon line—used the word.
 
The Clovers
 
As you may have guessed, the Clovers’ X-rated send-up wasn’t meant for public consumption, but it did eventually make it out into the world, obviously. It appears it was first bootlegged on record in the early 1970s. The version embedded here is taken from the compilation, Copulatin’ Blues, Volume 2.
 
45
 
Frank Zappa was a Clovers fan, and his love of doo wop, in general, is well documented, with the genre proving to be an influence throughout his career. You can hear it on such FZ records as Freak Out! (1966), the first Mothers of Invention full-length, and Cruising with Ruben & the Jets (1968), Frank’s homage to doo wop and early R&B. The Mothers 1970 album Burnt Weenie Sandwich opens with a cover of a doo wop song by the Four Deuces, “WPLJ.”

Zappa had a fondness for lyrics that the general public would consider “off color,” and for his 1984 world tour he worked up his own version of “Rotten Cocksuckers’ Ball.”

Continues after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Bart Bealmear
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10.12.2017
08:01 am
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Stuck in the Mudd! Four decades later, the doorman of the wildest nightclub in NYC lets you in!

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Here’s a drink ticket—enjoy the post!

“If you’ve been standing here for more than ten minutes you’re not coming in” announces Richard Boch in a stern but cute, almost teenaged stoner way. Don’t get me wrong, he means it. This was how “normal people” were greeted much of the time at the door of the Mudd Club (and many other ultra hip clubs in New York City at the time). This made getting in a huge badge of honor and being turned away a major disgrace. Imagine riding on THAT possibility just to pay to go into a nightclub? An anonymous “sniper” refused entrance once even hit Boch with a dead pigeon from a few yards away and sped off in a taxi cab!

Back then these normal people showing up at Manhattan nightclubs were mostly referred to as the “bridge and tunnel” crowd (Queens, Jersey, Brooklyn) a term not heard much these days, but once heard hundreds of times every night in NYC clubs. Some were 9-5ers, some wealthy disco-types expecting to stroll in on the doorman’s view of their Rolex or hot girlfriend. These regular folks were basically told to cool their heels or fuck off while an 18-year-old kid like me dressed to the hilt in what may have looked to them like idiotic rags, parted the seas and strolled in like I was Mick Jagger. This was not Studio 54 as they would find out soon enough. What it was, though, was a trip into known and unknown galaxies of hip culture throughout history, like a living, breathing museum/funhouse/drug den/concert hall/discotheque, mixed with nitroglycerine and LSD and thrown into a blender to create the unknown. The future. THE NOW!

The Mudd Club was almost literally unbelievable. Inmates running the asylum on an outer space pirate ship. This vessel was founded, funded and schemed by Steve Mass, who was on every side of the street all at once. When I first met Steve, he was roommates with Brian Eno and got that input, but he STILL drove me out to my parents’ apartment in Queens to help pull my record collection from under my bed, my parents shrugging their shoulders until reading about us a year later in the New York Times, thereby making it “Okay.” But really he was always very curious, constantly grilling me, getting inside my head. I once told him I thought he should round off the corners and ceiling of the Mudd Club like a giant cave and have live bats flying around the club. He actually considered it! He did this with certain other kids, rock stars, Warhol superstars, models, designers, Hollywood royalty, junkies, freaks and lord knows who else. We all had a bit of our heart and soul in that place.
 
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Mudd Club owner Steve Mass. Photo by Kate Simon

The above mentioned Richard Boch is the author of a incredibly well-written new book from Feral House titled The Mudd Club. Boch was the main doorman there and the book is his autobiography or a coming of age story told in pretty much the aftermath of the glorious Sixties during the truly, in retrospect, harsh, dark, real version of what was hoped for, but lost in that previous decade. Richard’s story is all of our stories, those of us lucky (or unlucky) enough to have grown up or wound up in New York City’s grimy punk/art/drugged musical and historical mish-mosh. It was the Velvet Underground’s songs come to life after waiting a decade for the world to catch up to it, or crumble to its level.
 
To quote Richard:

I’ve always referred to the Mudd Club as the scene of the crime, always meant as a term of endearment. It was the night that never ended: the day before never happened and the day after, a long way off. There was nothing else like it and I wound up right in the middle. I thought I could handle it and for a while, I did.

 
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Author Richard Boch. Photo by Alan Kleinberg
 
Boch was given marching orders orders early on to avoid bloated seventies superstars and the limo crowd. On one of his first nights of work he was faced with a huge, loud, and very sweaty Meatloaf. “Definitely not something I wanted to get close to, physically or musically,” Boch says, and ignored him. My first ever DJ gig was early on at the Mudd Club and I was told told by Steve Mass to do things like play Alvin and The Chipmunks records when it got a bit crowded, to “make everyone uncomfortable,” including myself. Of course I had the record. I also gouged a 45 with scissors insuring the record would skip horribly and then pretend that it wasn’t happening. Just long enough to get the asylum to freak out a little bit.

Later this stuff went out the window but it was quite a formative experience. Humor filtered through even to the most deadly serious moments there. The Mudd Club was a place where twenty people could literally have had twenty different experiences on the same night during the same hour as there was just so much happening on different mental/pharmaceutical levels and different floor levels. Everywhere you turned there was someone amazing. From the way I had grown up, seeing Andy Warhol, John Waters, David Bowie and the Ramones within a twenty minute span was “my” Studio 54. Watching Screamin’ Jay Hawkins while standing next to Jean-Michel Basquiat, seeing the Soft Boys, girl groups like the Angels and the Crystals, Frank Zappa, Bauhaus, Nico, the Dead Boys, Captain Beefheart, John Cale, a Radley Metzger film presented by Sleazoid Express or an impromptu freakout by Warhol Superstar Jackie Curtis, well this was my dream come to life!

My dream hasn’t changed in 40 years. I’m still in awe that it happened. And in the middle of all that I was allowed to put on my own demented conceptual events with friends (“The Puberty Ball,” etc.) and be a regular DJ. The people I came to know in the punk world who wanted more found it at the Mudd Club. Our mad obsession with the Sixties, especially the Warhol/New York sixties, informed much of what we did, and at the same time the Warhol Factory itself became more corporate. The Superstars were by then getting older and pushed out, but they were looking for more themselves, and they were looking to us to inform them, making for some extremely insane morality and immorality plays coming to life before our eyes. Mudd had the pull of what the press called “downtown,” and for the downtown types, well our voices were about to be heard loud and clear.
 
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David Bowie and Dee Dee Ramone. Photo by Bobby Grossman
 
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Howie Pyro deejaying at Mudd

Richard Boch understood all this, and was also an artist himself so he knew who everyone in the art world was, as well as all the new punk stars and celebutantes, no wavers, new wavers, culture vulture gods and the ones who would become gods themselves in a year or so. In the book he talks about being nervous about starting working there but man, he was the one for the job. In the pages of The Mudd Club, Boch’s quite candid about everything you’d want to know (gossip but not mean gossip: sex, drugs, more drugs, and getting home at ten AM, having done every drug and a half dozen people along the way—normal stuff like that). It reads in one, two, or three page sections, my favorite kind of book. You can put it down in ten-minute intervals or read it in any order you want, IF you can put it down at all. I have literally read certain sections backwards for 40-50 pages while looking for something and didn’t really notice. It made me laugh out loud, and it brought tears to my eyes. It’s kind of like “Please Kill Me, the Day After,” though it’s not an oral history as such, as it is written from Richard Boch’s point of view, but it has the same immediate anecdotal feel.
 
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‘TV Party’ at Mudd. Photo by Bob Gruen
 
The club’s benevolent benefactor, Steve Mass, was responsible for making this incredible witches brew keep bubbling and kept the happenings happening. He was willing to do anything, just for the sake of doing it. Steve originally owned an ambulance service. For my 19th birthday they had a huge party for me on the second floor of the Mudd Club. Since Steve had medical connections, and since we were ALL junkies (well, a good 85% of us were), he furnished a massive cake with dozens of syringes with the plungers & needles removed so they could put the candles in the open syringes. This of course turned into a massive cake fight with the participants looking like the Little Rascals (with pinned eyes). Steve was always down for this sorta stuff. As for the main floor, the bands, writers and performers that I saw in a single month’s time was staggering! More than some people see in a lifetime.
 
From the book:

January 1979. The Cramps freaked out The Mudd Club with a loud Psychobilly grind that included such hits as “Human Fly” and “Surfin’ Bird.” A few months later, the “big names” started to appear…

He goes on to say:

The legendary Sam and Dave got onstage a few weekends later, and it was the first time on my watch that I got to see the real deal. By late summer, Talking Heads took the stage while Marianne Faithful, X, Lene Lovich, and the Brides of Funkenstein waited in the wings.

There were so many great performances: Scheduled, impromptu, logical and out of left field. The locals and the regulars were the staple and the stable and performed as part of the White Street experience. They included everyone you could imagine and some you never could. John Cale, Chris Spedding, Judy Nylon and Nico, John Lurie and Philip Glass were just a few. Writers and poets such as William S. Burroughs, Max Blagg, Cookie Mueller, and “Teenage Jesus” Lydia Lunch all wound up on the Mudd Club stage. The talent pool was so deep and occasionally dark that even Hollywood Babylon‘s Luciferian auteur Kenneth Anger got Involved.

Steve’s willingness and generosity along with his guarded enthusiasm offered support to a local community of artists, musicians, and filmmakers. Together with Diego (Cortez)’ and Anya (Phillip’s) short-lived but “dominating” spirit, the Mudd Club became an instant happening, a free-for-all with No Wave orchestration and very few rules.

Diego described the Mudd Club as “a container, a vessel, but certainly not the only one in town.” What made the place unique was its blank-canvas emptiness. When the space filled up, IT happened and everyone wanted to be a part. A living, breathing work of art, it was beautiful and way off center, a slice of golden time.

I was lucky, and soaked it all in.

 
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Nico playing her wheezing harmonium. Photo by Ebet Roberts

All of us who got to be there were lucky. This was a timeless world of it’s own. A world that could be compared to any and all magical artistic movements, scenes or spaces. Dada. Warhol’s Factory, the Beats in NY and SF, Surrealism, etc.—times, places, people all endlessly written about as there’s just so much to say. Everyone involved had a unique experience, true to themselves. This wasn’t just a nightclub, it was so much more. It almost seemed like a private place where, on the best nights, people’s lives and fantasies were put on display and the public was allowed to watch. The public who just came to do coke and dance (as we all did) but who accidentally got touched by a bizarre and wonderful world that lived in the shadows of the city then, usually just brushing against them like a ghost in the night. Whether they even noticed or not, well, who cares?

This first book on the subject (I guarantee it will not be the last) is Richard Boch’s own experience, peppered with those of us who he interviewed for the reminders. This book is about his eyes opening, his chain-wielding power stance, his blowjobs, his drinks, his drugs, all of which are plentiful. It includes a little of most of us, the people we loved, the ones we lost, the games we played, and the love we shared of each other and our mutual history. Still though, there are a million stories in the Mudd’s microcosm of the naked city, this is just one of them.

And what a glorious place to start: right at the front door.
 
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The trailer for the book
 
More Mudd Club after the jump…

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Posted by Howie Pyro
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09.19.2017
02:47 pm
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Rare concert photos of Blondie, Zappa, Iggy, Fugazi and more, from the Smithsonian’s new collection


 
In December 2015, the Smithsonian Institution began an ambitious crowdsourced history of rock ’n’ roll photography, calling on music fans to contribute their amateur and pro photos, launching the web site rockandroll.si.edu as a one-stop for accepting and displaying shooters’ submissions. One of the project’s organizers, Bill Bentley, was quoted in Billboard:

We talked about how it could be completely far-reaching in terms of those allowed to contribute, and hopefully help expose all kinds of musicians and periods. There really are no boundaries in the possibilities. I’d like to help spread all styles of music to those who visit the site, and show just how all-encompassing the history of what all these incredible artists have created over the years. What better way than for people to share their visual experiences, no matter on what level, to the world at large.

The project, sadly, is now closed to new submissions, but it’s reached a milestone in the publication of Smithsonian Rock and Roll: Live and Unseen, authored by Bentley. The book is a pretty great cull of the best the collection had to offer, full of photos rarely or never seen by the public, chronologically arranged, and dating back to the dawn of the rock era. Some of them are real jaw-droppers, like the concert shot of Richie Valens taken hours before his death, Otis Redding drenched in sweat at the Whiskey a Go Go, Sly Stone looking like a goddamn superhero at the Aragon Ballroom in 1974. From Bentley’s introduction:

Although the sheer breadth of the offerings was overwhelming, that fact only underlined the importance of an organizational strategy. The publisher sorted through the submissions, categorizing them by performer and date to create a complete historical timeline of rock and roll. Approximately three hundred photographs are included in the following narrative, many of them by amateurs whose enthusiasm and passion for their subjects are here presented to the public for the first time. The balance of the photos were taken by professional “lens whisperers,” whose shots were selected to flesh out this overview of rock and roll. The results, spanning six decades, aim for neither encyclopedic authority nor comprehensive finality, but rather an index of supreme influence.

Smithsonian Rock and Roll: Live and Unseen isn’t due until late in October, but the Smithsonian have been very kind in allowing Dangerous Minds to share some of these images with you today. Clicking an image will spawn an enlargement.
 

Blondie at CBGB, New York City, 1976. Photo Roberta Bayley /Smithsonian Books
 

The Clash at the Orpheum Theatre, Boston, September 19, 1979. Photo Catherine Vanaria /Smithsonian Books
 

Frank Zappa at Maple Pavilion, Stanford University, CA, November 19, 1977. Photo Gary Kieth Morgan /Smithsonian Books
 
Many more after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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09.18.2017
11:00 am
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Freak out: That time Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention were in Archie Comics…
09.06.2017
11:56 am
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Okay, okay, perhaps that title is just a little bit disingenuous, but it’s still “close enough for government work,” as the old saying goes.

So no, Frank Zappa didn’t actually bring his rockin’ teen combo to fictional Riverdale High School, and no, this isn’t from Archie Comics either, it’s a National Lampoon parody by Michel Choquette from the September 1970 issue. But it’s probably exactly what would have happened had The Mothers of Invention roared into town.

Betty and Veronica probably would have gotten VD, too.

If you click on the images you’ll get to larger, easier-to-read versions.
 

 

 
Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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09.06.2017
11:56 am
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Brian Wilson’s haunting rendition of ‘Surf’s Up’ is just one highlight of this amazing 1967 pop doc


 
On April 25, 1967, CBS ran a special documentary that had been put together by David Oppenheim called Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution. The program was significant on a number of fronts. First, the hour-long program has been called in some quarters the first documentary about rock and roll ever made. There had certainly been ample treatment in feature films (mainly the Beatles) of the new forms of pop music that were budding in that decade as well as ample news coverage—whether Inside Pop merits this distinction I will leave for others to debate.

What is clearer is that the program represents almost certainly the first sustained effort to make a positive case for pop music to a mainstream audience on national TV. In other words, if the generational divide caused all cultural matters to be filtered through an “us” versus “them” filter, Inside Pop made no bones about debating the aesthetic and cultural merits of Herman’s Hermits, the Hollies, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, etc. from “their” perspective, from the perspective of those who had not instinctually embraced the new music.

Oppenheim’s resume up to that moment neatly illustrates the point, having made his reputation through working with figures such as Igor Stravinsky and Pablo Casals. Not long after making this program, Oppenheim was hired as Dean of NYU’s School of the Arts, which he has been credited with transforming into a first-rate cultural arts institution. (His son Jonathan Oppenheim edited the groundbreaking documentary Paris Is Burning.)

The program is divided into two halves. The first half is given almost entirely over to Leonard Bernstein, whose credibility as a cultural commentator to the mass audience at that moment can hardly be overstated. Bernstein had been music director of the New York Philharmonic for roughly a decade and had also composed the operetta Candide as well as West Side Story, and if you had asked ten moderately informed citizens in 1962 what American was best known for his work in classical music, probably all of them would have named Bernstein.

As stated, the first half of the program belongs to Bernstein—he is seated at a piano, playing snippets of songs by the Monkees, the Beatles, the Left Banke, and so on, and making observations about unexpected key changes as well as the skillful manipulation of Lydian and Mixolydian modes, whatever they might be. Bernstein goes out of his way to call 95% of pop music “trash” but nevertheless, his essential curiosity and openness to new forms would be impossible to miss. It would have been difficult indeed for such a presentation to be entirely devoid of fuddy-duddy-ism, but it’s truly an impressive performance—if only TV nowadays had similar semi-improv’d disquisitions on music by qualified commentators. Oh, and halfway through it all Bernstein brings in 15-year-old Janis Ian to sing “Society’s Child,” her hitherto blacklisted song about an interracial relationship, which incidentally soon became a hit after being heard on national television.
 

 
The second half of the program is a conventional narrated documentary focusing on the West Coast music scene with some British Invaders mixed in. Frank Zappa pops up and says a few sardonic things. Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits and Graham Nash of the Hollies get into an animated post-gig debate about the efficacy of pop music in bringing about societal change (Noone pessimistic, Nash optimistic). Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, still going by “Jim” at that point, materializes to tell every adult in America that “the drug revolution is just coming about and there are gonna be a lot of heads rolling from it,” which I’m sure went over like gangbusters.

The program gets a little boring around the 2/3 mark by focusing too long on Herman’s Hermits, who whatever else their virtues are don’t make a good case for groundbreaking trends in music, but hang on because Oppenheim saves the best for last, an extended in-studio rendition of “Surf’s Up” by Brian Wilson. Recorded on December 17, 1966, Wilson’s performance is made much more haunting because we have information the home audience did not, namely that Wilson was undergoing severe psychological stress at the time, that the Beach Boys nearly broke up over the Smile album (for which “Surf’s Up” was composed), and that more than three decades would pass until said album would reach the public in its final form.

Watch after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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08.21.2017
09:36 am
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‘Metal Man Has Won His Wings’: Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa’s early ‘60s R&B band, the Soots
06.23.2017
06:04 am
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Zappa at the door to Studio Z in Cucamonga

Briefly, during 1963 and 1964, Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa were in a proto-Magic Band called the Soots, and among the numbers they recorded at Studio Z in Cucamonga was “Metal Man Has Won His Wings.” It isn’t the first recording the pair made together (that’s the my-baby-flushed-me-down-the-toilet epic “Lost in a Whirlpool,” recorded at Antelope Valley Junior College in the late ‘50s), but it’s the first instance of the Frank Zappa blues adventure style that crystallized in later classics like “Why Don’t You Do Me Right,” “Trouble Every Day” and “Willie the Pimp.”

The Magic Band’s John “Drumbo” French identifies the song as a breakthrough in his massive study Beefheart: Through the Eyes of Magic:

In Metal Man Has Won His Wings the music immediately bursts forth, a music surprisingly reminiscent of the early Magic Band. Zappa was obviously making headway in his production attempts. The young Vliet’s repetitive Wolf-esque ramblings are buried in the mix. The song is brought to a halt with a typical blues kick - something Zappa may have learned while playing at Tommy Sands’ club.

“Metal Man Has Won His Wings” (misheard by bootleggers for years as “Metal Man Has Hornet’s Wings”) first surfaced on Mystery Disc. Zappa’s liner notes shed light on how the track’s vocals came to be “buried in the mix”: Beefheart used an unorthodox recording technique, one that reminds me of his later refusal to wear headphones while overdubbing his parts on Trout Mask Replica.

In our spare time we made what we thought were ‘rock & roll records.’ In this example, Vliet was ‘singing’ in the hallway outside the studio (our vocal booth) while the band played in the other room.

The lyrics were derived from a comic book pinned to a bulletin board near the door.

 

On the road, 1975 (via beefheart.com)
 
Zappa scholar Biffy the Elephant Shrew has identified the comic book as issue #7 of the DC title Metal Men. Beefheart took part of the song’s title and “wheet! wheet!” from an ad in that number promoting the new book Hawkman:

HAWKMAN HAS “WON HIS WINGS”... AND FROM NOW ON HIS FAMOUS “WHEET! WHEET!” BATTLE CRY WILL APPEAR IN HIS OWN MAGAZINE!

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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06.23.2017
06:04 am
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Your Mother Should Know: Newly unearthed 1967 Frank Zappa interview taped at a Detroit head shop
05.26.2017
09:22 am
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Mothers ad
 
On November 13th, 1967, Frank Zappa was interviewed by two radio DJs at a head shop in Detroit. The conversation aired on the 18th and was promptly forgotten about. Recently, one of the DJs found the recording, which has been digitized and uploaded for the world to hear.

At the time, Zappa was promoting the upcoming Mothers of Invention gigs in the area. The band were scheduled to perform on December 1st at Ford Auditorium in Detroit, and on the 2nd and 3rd at the Fifth Dimension in Ann Arbor. The interviewers, Joe Doll and Dave Pierce, were involved with the University of Michigan’s student-run community radio station, WCBN. Their 30-minute chat with Zappa aired on Doll’s program, Strobe.
 
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Topics include the holdup of the release of the next Mothers album, We’re Only In It For The Money; why rock music is the best means to express his beliefs; questioning societal conventions; and lighter fare like Frank’s thoughts on the Beatles, and his pending appearance on The Monkees. I especially enjoyed hearing FZ talk about marketing, advertising, and sales figures related to the Mothers’ output, partly due to those subjects being taboo for most ‘60s counter-culture acts. The interview does get a bit quarrelsome at times, which makes for stimulating listening, that’s for sure! Mixed Media, the bookstore/head shop where the chat took place, was located in the area of Detroit now called Midtown.

It was Joe Doll who found the tape not long ago, and the recording recently aired on WCBN once again. The audio sounds fantastic, especially when considering it’s nearly 50 years old and was previously thought to have been lost. Listen via Doll’s website, where the digital file is also available to be downloaded for free.
 
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Audio from the Mothers of Invention’s performance in Ann Arbor on December 3rd, 1967:
 

Posted by Bart Bealmear
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05.26.2017
09:22 am
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‘Rosebud’: Oddball 1971 album originally released by Frank Zappa’s label to be reissued
05.12.2017
09:26 am
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Gig poster
 
As part of Frank Zappa’s deal with Warner Bros., two imprints were established, Bizarre and Straight, on which FZ would release his own albums, as well as those artists he signed. Those signees included Captain Beefheart, the GTO’s, and Wild Man Fischer, amongst other outsiders. In 1969, Straight released Farewell Aldebaran, the debut LP from Judy Henske & Jerry Yester. Like most of the non-Zappa albums on Bizarre/Straight, Farewell Aldebaran sold squat at the time, though it later developed a cult following, thanks to its unconventional contents. Lesser known is the 1971 album the duo recorded with their band, which is about to be reissued with a slew of previously unreleased tracks.

Jerry Yester, a multi-instrumentalist and session musician, was also a member of a few groups (the Lovin’ Spoonful being one). He’s perhaps best known today as a producer, as he’s been at the helm for a number of recordings, including the debut albums for both Tim Buckley and Tom Waits. Singer Judy Henske, like Yester, came from the folk scene, and was an established recording artist when the two married in 1963.
 
Back cover
 
Farewell Aldebaran, the sole LP the couple released as a duo, is a pleasingly strange affair. Psychedelic blues rock mixes with heavy bubblegum, old timey country, a scary lullaby, and hymn-like tracks that are emotionally powerful. Yester’s musical foundations are expertly executed, while Henske’s vocals alternating between Nico’s gothic approach and Janis Joplin-like frenzy. Encouraged by Zappa, Henske based her lyrics on poems she had written (sample title: “Horses on a Stick”). Everything on the record sounds a bit off, which is partly the reason it failed to find an audience in 1969, but is precisely why Zappa, and, much later, fans of unusual music were drawn to the LP. Out of print for decades, Omnivore Recordings offered up the first authorized reissue of Farewell Aldebaran in 2016.

After their album failed to sell, the couple licked their wounds and decided to change direction. For the Rosebud project, they recruited former Turtles drummer, John Seiter, and songwriter/musician, Craig Doerge, who had worked with Henske in the past. The songs on their lone LP, Rosebud, possess many of the peculiar qualities found on the Henske/Yester record, and is stylistically similar, just a little less out there. Not a surprise, considering the presence of others, and the fact the Doerge co-wrote, with Henske, four of the record’s ten tunes.
 
Rosebud
 
“Panama,” the first song on Rosebud, is as off-kilter as anything heard on Farewell Aldebaran. The track opens with sound effects, then morphs into a piano ballad—with Henske’s eccentric vocal affectations firmly on display—before shifting into a funky, world music-like number, complete with African drums. Other highlights include “Reno,” a groovy cowboy song with synth, as well as the bubblegum country rock mixed with gospel that is “Yum Yum Man.” Both “Western Wisconsin,” a lovely tune passionately sung by Doerge, and “Le Soleil,” a showcase for Rosebud’s group harmonies, are fine examples of the numerous hymn-influenced tunes on the album. The record ends with the dreamy “Flying to Morning,” featuring a fantastic vocal performance from Henske.

As the recording sessions for the album were coming to an end, bassist David Vaught was brought into the fold, making Rosebud a five-piece.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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05.12.2017
09:26 am
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