Nona Hendryx covering Captain Beefheart—hear the entire album here first!
07:26 am

Because her fame is perpetually tethered to her membership in the vocal trio Labelle, and because that group is most famous for the immortal disco fucksong “Lady Marmalade,” the idea of Nona Hendryx recording an album of Captain Beefheart covers with a member of the Magic Band may at first seem pretty weird.

But then it’s useful to recall that it was Nona Hendryx’s songwriting that played a large role in their successful transition from the ‘60s girl-group Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles into the more daring R&B trio they’d become in the ‘70s as Labelle. And that Hendryx’s post Labelle afterlife included a stint in the New Wave band Zero Cool, and one in Bill Laswell’s defiantly genre-indifferent jazz group Material. Just this past August she participated in a collaboration with Nick Cave at MASSMoCA. Hendryx’s admirable willingness to go off the map is a tradition of long standing, and in that context, her singing Beefheart seems like something that could have happened sooner.

When you can pull off this look, you get to cover whoever the hell you want.

Her album with latter-day Beefheart guitarist Gary Lucas (Doc at the Radar Station, Ice Cream for Crow) is due out on November 10; it’s titled The World of Captain Beefheart and it’s a goddamn stunner. It’s jarring at first to hear Beefheart songs covered by someone who can sing so well—so much of these songs’ original feel was dependent on Don van Vliet’s celebrated gravel-throated vocal stylings that Hendryx’s equally celebrated husky alto can seem almost alien to the material, but unsurprisingly, she totally slays it. Standout tracks include “Sure ‘Nuff ‘N Yes I Do,” “When It Blows Its Stacks,” and “I’m Glad”—that last one being kind of a gimme as it’s pretty straight R&B, but Hendryx nails more angular and difficult material like “When Big Joan Sets Up” equally well.

We were fortunate enough to get some time to talk with Gary Lucas about how how the project came to be

Gary Lucas: This all came about because our bass player and my co-producer on the record, Jesse Krakow, did a tribute to Captain Beefheart some years ago, in a place called the Bowery Poetry Club, and Nona was one of his guests. I was invited to come and play on a couple numbers—Jesse and I had played in Fast ’N’ Bulbous, we did two records for Cuneiform—so I met Nona at this tribute, and she was very friendly. Co de Kloet, who’s like a Beefheart/Zappa go-to guy in the Netherlands, a producer & DJ, he asked me if I would do a symphonic Beefheart night at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, and in casting about for a singer I thought Nona could do it. She was really cool, and she came and did a great job. There were some Dutch vocalists as well, someday maybe that’ll come out.

But so anyway, when that was done, I wasn’t going to wait around to get more kicks with a 65-piece orchestra, as great as that was, I wanted a way to do that with a more portable ensemble. So I stripped it down to just drums, bass, guitar, and keyboards, and Nona. It took a few years to get it done, I was busy with some other projects, but we tackled it and we nailed it, I guess it was almost a year and a half ago we turned it in. It’s been a tortuous route to it finally coming out, but it’s coming out on Knitting Factory, who’ve been very gung-ho and supportive. The package is beautiful, they really committed to it.

Dangerous Minds: There are songs on this that significantly predate your tenure in the Magic Band, was any of it new to you, or was it all material that had already been in your repertoire?

GL: Not really. Even things I didn’t actually play in the Magic Band I played in Magic Band reunions with Rockette Morton and John French, so I did that for a while, and it was a comprehensive overview of Captain Beefheart, so anything I hadn’t learned in my time with him I learned for that project and for Fast ’N’ Bulbous. Some of it I hadn’t played in some years but we definitely went into the recording very prepared and rehearsed. It was a good mix of weird dark stuff and more accessible R&B stuff. It’s a pretty endlessly fascinating repertoire with a lot of payoffs.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch
07:26 am
‘Skool Of Rock’ mix: over 60 minutes of fist-pumping Disco-Rock anthems

OK, enough of the hating between the rockers and the disco-freaks! This ain’t the damn 70s, so why can’t we all just get along? In love, peace and some sweat-drenched bell bottoms? Besides, there is a big crossover between these two supposedly “opposing” genres.

About five or six years ago, at the height of both nu-disco and the Italo revival (and while I was releasing music under the name Trippy Disco), I found myself playing more and more vintage disco records with crashing power-chords and wailing axe solos. Because of the “sell out” accusations that these kind of records attracted at the time (from both camps) it’s a side of disco that’s been neglected, even though I love those sounds. So, I decided to put together an hour’s worth of my favourite disco/rock records, and, lo, the ‘Skool Of Rock’ mix was born.

I decided not to feature anything too “New Wave” or post-punk as the disco influence on those sounds was already very obvious, though I did get to slip in a few acts who would technically be classed as “disco” but who dipped into “rock” now and again (Edwin Starr and Giorgio Moroder, for instance.) And accordingly, there’s also the obligatory disco cash-ins by some of your favourite rock acts (Queen, Bowie, ZZ Top.)  Besides that, there are some real gems here, including the Patrick Cowley remix of Tantra’s “Hills Of Katmandu” which is one the most “fuck yeah!” fist-pumping disco anthems of all time.

So, you might love this mix, you might really hate it, but either way here it is: 


ELO “Don’t Bring Me Down (Trippy Disco Re-Edit)”
ROCKETS “On The Road Again”
CHILLY “For Your Love”
KISS “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”
TANTRA “Hills Of Katmandu (Patrick Cowley Megamix / Automan Edit)”
LED ZEPPELIN “Whole Lotta Love (Acapella)”
MATERIAL “Bustin’ Out”
ZZ TOP “Legs (Metal Mix)”
MACHO “Not Tonight (Dimitri From Paris Re-Edit)”
SKATT BROS “Walk The Night (Album Version)”
QUEEN “Another One Bites The Dust”
WINGS “Goodnight Tonight (Trippy Disco Re-Edit)”

You can download the ‘Skool Of Rock’ mix here.


David Bowie performing “Stay”, live on Muzikladen, Bremen 1978:



Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
07:12 pm
‘The Tube’ 1983 NY clubbing special ft New Order, Klaus Nomi, Paradise Garage & more

The Tube was an early-to-mid 80s British “yoof” TV program covering music and fashion, hosted by Jools Holland and Paula Yates. This special report comes from sometime around 1983 (the date is unspecified but we know that Klaus Nomi has already died) when Holland and guest presenter Leslie Ash take a trip around New York’s most happening night spots. That includes the Paradise Garage, Danceteria, The Roxy and even a brief, passing glimpse of CBGBs.

If you can ignore the cheesy presenting style (“Wow! Clubs in New York stay open until FOUR o’clock!”, “I hear this club has a “happening” sound system.” etc) there are some great interviews here, as well as some priceless footage inside the clubs mentioned. So we get the likes of Arthur Baker talking about producing New Order, Nona Hendryx and Quando Quango performing live, Afrika Bambaataa on the turntables at The Roxy,  The Peech Boys backstage at the Paradise Garage, and Ruth Polsky and Rudolph of Danceteria talking about their good friend, the recently deceased Klaus Nomi: 

Thanks to Andrew Pirie.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
03:19 pm
Material, featuring LaBelle’s Nona Hendyrx, on The Dangerous Minds Radio Hour

Calling all rock snobs! In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve started to make podcasts of The Dangerous Minds Radio Hour available on the blog. Every couple of weeks, Brad Laner and I will get together and do our best to entertain you with fun, obscure, and often wacky avant garde music, hit singles and… more.!

If you were listening you’d have already heard this amazing track, “Take a Chance” by Material, featuring LaBelle’s Nona Hendryx, a fierce, spaced-out, glammed up soul diva if ever there was one.

Have a listen. You don’t know what you’ve been missing, so how will you know if your life is complete without The Dangerous Minds Radio Hour in it? Listen to show #3 here.

To download episodes or subscribe to the podcast please go to our Internet radio partner

Posted by Richard Metzger
02:08 pm