Tuesday, January 12, 2016

"Now that’s the essence of Mod" - Bowie Covering the Velvet Underground Before the First VU LP Released in US/The Deviants Covering "Prominent Men" 1965-1966? [Repost 2012]

Is the music game only about one-upmanship? Who was hep to who at the earliest? Do you really care? I do. Grady has recently pointed out that Bowie covered "I'm Waiting for the Man" as early as 1967, which turns out to be before the first VU lp even came out in the US! I even had the track on the Bowie "Rare and Well Done" cd but as boots go, it had the date listed as a 1969 demo. That boot also has the track "Litle Toy Soldier" with its Small Faces-ish rewrite of "Venus in Furs" listed as 1969 as well. According to this excellent and illuminating write-up, which lays out the timeline, the who and how, it demonstrates that the proverbial race to the courthouse door does matter if you care about such things. Or is it "first in time, first in possession"? “Now that’s the essence of Mod,” Bowie boasted [about covering the VU before the lp was even out]." Turns out "Little Toy Soldier" dates from 1967 as well, again with the Riot Squad. Not so fast flash. Mick Farren had an acetate of the 1965 VU demos (stolen from Joe Boyd!) that eventually became the first disc of the "Peel Slowly and See" box set around the same time (1965-1966) so maybe he can claim the hep crown from old carrot top. We need Mick to see if he can scrape up some rehearsal tapes to back up his claim! First lets hear Bowie tackle Lou twice in 1967: What I can say with absoulte certainty is that the British were among the first to "get" the Velvet Underground in a broader cultural sense, and that the influence was seeping into the consciousness of folks like Mick Farren and David Bowie as early as 1965-1967. Makes me want to dig out my original U.S. Sire pressing of the Deviants' "Ptoof" right now. I remember reading with some astonishment Ritchie Unterberger's interview of Farren back in 1999 right here and it would behoove you to remind yourself of what their approach encompassed.
Q: What were the Deviants' inspirations when you starting coming together around late 1966?
MF: We didn't know what we were doing, for a start. The most exciting thing at the time was probably the Who. Probably what Pete Townshend was doing. But that in a way was kind of big time major hit single rock'n'roll. The two rather diverse things that we were listening to was on one hand, we were getting the first ESP records by the Fugs. And at the other extreme, I was listening to a lot of... particularly the album Mingus [did], "Oh Yeah," with Roland Kirk, with "Ecclusiastics" and "Passions of a Man" and "Eat That Chicken" and all that stuff on it. Bob Dylan of course. We were trying to like blend it all into something that made sense, without very much money. The Fugs had a certain kind of jugband appeal, which fitted our income at the time. Joe Boyd [producer of Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention, Nick Drake, and numerous other late-'60s bands] brought over some tapes of the Velvet Underground, which we stole off him, and somebody immediately stole off us. That was the most interesting thing that seemed to be a similar kind of synthesis, coming from the same sort of background. [The tapes] were pre-first album (ED: i.e. predating the Velvets' famed "Banana" LP).. I was almost beginning to think I'd dreamed them. Everybody denied all knowledge of them. We performed a song called "Prominent Men" for a while that we took off those tapes. And suddenly they resurfaced. They're the very first tapes on the Velvet Underground box set. [The tape] was ["Prominent Men"], three or four versions of "Venus In Furs," the very strange acoustic version of "Waiting For The Man," "Prominent Men," "All Tomorrow's Parties." [We were] a bunch of guys who'd really come out of the sort of British North London art school R&B band scene. Like the Pretty Things; that was really our heritage. We were trying to like push it in simultaneously a more demented and more intelligent direction. 'Cause we couldn't really be spending our time recycling old Jimmy Reed tunes. So we were looking for something to do. I think basically Lou and Cale got in there first. It was very much a sort of parallel development, London and New York. That's where we felt things were happening the most. You know, we were pretty incompetent at the start. We were pretty incompetent at the end. But more money came in. The amplifiers got bigger. We all got ourselves fierce amphetamine habits, and at that point, kind of ear-bleeding noise took over for a while. Plus we were also kind of listening to Zappa, which definitely affected the way we made the first album.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

"I Used to Sing With a Group Called the Zombies"/misty roses and wings over america/Neil McArthur Never Died [2011/2016]

[NB: When I first wrote this about five years ago, the performance on the OGWT had not yet surfaced. Hadn't thought to look for awhile so nice to finally see it and thanks to Steve T. for the memory refresh. Note the Creepy Crawl confusing set of badges in the still image lacking in the performance itself]

Looking through the March 2, 1972 issue of Rolling Stone (Dylan cover, natch) in the barn, I came across the article below on Colin Blunstone and the upcoming release of his first solo lp "One Year." I can't remember if Tim or Rubin Fiberglass was the one to first tip me off to its sublime greatness. A premier interpreter of the likes of Tim Hardin, Zombies-mate Rod Argent, Denny Laine (!) and others, the record is over before you know it. The image shows Colin recording a track for the Old Grey Whistle Test with a string section which presumably was his version of "Say You Don't Mind." Unfortunately, while that OGWT appearance has not yet surfaced, the original of Denny Laine's has (in full "Sgt. Pepper"/"Piper At the Gates of Dawn" mode), as well as a short performance by Hardin of "Misty Roses" with a brief appearance by Twiggy on her show Twiggs. Sam Rockwell as Hardin in a biopic?













Sunday, December 27, 2015

"Who's On First?"/Metal Mike California trip report, October 1971 [repost]

I have to admit that the whole Brendan Mullen/Marc Spitz/Metal Mike spat over "We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk" made me so exasperated that I felt like I was watching the great Abbott and Costello's "Who's On First" routine. Our friends over at Terminal Boredom give you the Cliff Notes version for everyone who missed it here. Thanks guys. Let's just say that Metal Mike's bona fides are unassailable. I am guessing that a lot of folks made the mistake of passing up on Metal Mike's 1999 cd called "Surf City or Bust." What they missed was the most excellent FOURTEEN bonus tracks comprising his and his brother Kevin's previously unreleased 1969 lp as The Rockin' Blewz entitled "I'm a Roadrunner Motherfucka." I first heard one track some time last century on a cd comp Chris put out. Raw and as hi-energy as you would expect from two high school brothers recording in the bedroom or family lounge. It is in Metal Mike's s own words "a pre-Beatles garage band style (2/3rds covers)... Bo Diddley, Buddy Holly, Ronnie Self, Ernie K-Doe, Shirelles--that kind of material, played with your vintage 60's Fender and Gibson equipment of the time, some pretty crude cool sounds. Wacked out 'originals' that could have been on a Bonzo Dog Band or Mothers of Invention album." Came across this great letter again recently from when Metal Mike was in the midst of his statistics degree in Austin (written from the UT library?) which had me thinking of Metal Mike. I do think Future does not get its due and "Out of the Question" is just as good as anything on the first two lps.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Rock Culture Shock/"Those great giant idiots"/Australian TV 1979/"You gotta wait till the mid1980's"

Though Leif Garrett may be the click bait (and his slightly naïve take actually would fit in interestingly with the other talking heads in The Decline Part I), let me just give you the rundown from this 1979 Aussie program with some of yer faves giving their lowdown on the punk phenomena and some very perceptive takes. You know how you wondered what say, Macca’s take on punk was (a big thumbs up if you don’t watch), you also get after the lead in live clip from the Angels: Bowie, Paul Cook, Kate Bush (in a ballet studio?), John Lydon (PIL mode), Macca, Mick Taylor (lookin' straight out of '72 in '79), Steve Harley ("I'm 28"), Leif, Stevie Wonder ("violent can be good") , Cliff Richard (copping Ron Ashton/David Fricke’s style a bit and riffing on a new wave trifecta!), Meatloaf, Maurice Gibb, Alice Cooper (hates disco!) and Peter Gabriel (as Noel Gallagher). Quite a bit to chew on, no? And with less than 50! views, the Angels on Countdown 1977:

Monday, August 17, 2015

Rodney in an Original Imperial Dogs Shirt

While it might not have the moneyed cachet of the Seditionaries collectables these days (think PUNK: Chaos to Couture at the Met ferchrissakes), and the fact that you probably can't find one outside of Don Waller and Fred Patterson's storage spaces, you know which shirt ya need. If I had one, I could send a kid to college so rare are these shirts. First in line for the rescreen!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Juncosa Pt. II!

When I was back in LA last year, I was lucky enough to head down the road from my place with Professor Darren to help Sylvia Juncosa celebrate her 50th birthday with 100 Flowers, Jon Wahl solo and then a great Sylvia power trio with Steve Reed. Yes, it was OTT and Sylvia shredded fer sure. Now, I am not sure that this photo would have registered when I originally saw it in ’82-83. Had the first Leaving Trains single even come out yet? Sylvia on KEYBOARDS. Clearly before the Warf Rat Tales comp lp (was Sylvia on those LT tracks? Too lazy to check in the barn. A lot of great comps to check out. After Yes LA and Tooth and Nail, Beach Blvd. came Hell Comes to Your House, The Future Looks Bright, Public Service, ROTR series and the Life is Cheap/Ugly/Beautiful series. Anyway, Before SWA (my new band name!) Sylvia tearing it up somewhere in Southern California.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Claude Bessy Reviews the Desperate Bicycles "The Medium Was Tedium" 45: "Back-up Vocals That Remind One of the Incredible String Band's Simplistic Moments"

"Right now the chaotic world of new single releases is the most exhilarating thing in the business": Kickboy Face at the tail end of 1977 even before the onslaught of great LOCAL singles to follow, and before he decided to sing (in public at least) with a little encouragement from this single no doubt.  One of those recent wowzer moments is when I was told that Ryan "Ryebread Rodeo" Richardson had made all issues of Slash available here for your own scholarly research with a small coin toss to Medecins Sans Frontieres. I sorta inadvertently donated to Ginn's cat rescue mission at the Hollywood Palladium so this was the least I could do. From the actual "Year One" Exene cover (Vol.1 No. 6) December 1977, Claude Bessy referencing the Incredible String Band in a review of the first Desperate Bicycles single was totally unexpected and dead on.  "Yet I like this record alot."