Recently unearthed Can and Kraftwerk live footage wows fans

Both recorded in 1970 in Soest, Germany, these newly discovered performances are rare glimpses into the early days of two icons of experimental music.

Kraftwerk (long before their hit Trans Europe Express) is all but unrecognizable in leathers and sporting long hair while the Can footage captures the band shortly after Damo Suzuki was added to the fold. In each instance, the audience looks on in mute confusion.

It’s awesome.

Can – a documentary

CanMonsterMovieAlbumCoverThe ground breaking experimental rock group from Germany, Can has a unique and tremendously influential sound that has transcended generations of listeners and musicians. From the calming and melodic tempo of one track to the screeching nonsense-speak of Damo Suzuki in the next, there’s just nothing else around like it.

The varied backgrounds of its individual members and their totally divergent approaches to music fuse into a soundscape that is entirely new yet partly established… just in different genres or regions. It’s word/funk/jazz/electronic/rock from another dimension.

Unfamiliar with their work? Well luckily there’s this awesome documentary I can direct you to.

Via the excellent blog Biblioklept

The Big Gundown- John Zorn Plays the Music of Ennio Morricone

Zorn_BigGundownAlthough I was raised around Sergio Leone movies, I only recently started to explore the Spaghetti Western genre. Of course I started with ‘Once Upon a Time in the West,’ which was to be Leone’s final outing in Westerns before he was pulled back in for ‘Duck, You Sucker!’. Co-written and directed by Dario Argento and Bernardo Bertolucci, ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ received mainly negative reviews upon release but has since been restored to its full run time on Netflix and is gaining new popularity.

The music of Ennio Morricone is so distinctive and closely associated with the Spaghetti Western (one can hardly see Clint Eastwood’s face without hearing the signature tune from ‘The Good the Bad and the Ugly.’ Ennio Morricone is so particular to the look and feel of this type of film that he provided the score for Quentin Tarrantino’s latest film ‘Django Unchained.’ Add revolutionary musician John Zorn to Morricone’s scores and you get something truly special.

I have followed Zorn since I first found a cassette of Naked City in a used music shop and this album is among my favorites. Hearing everything from the title track ‘The Big Gundown’ to ‘The Ballad of Hank McCain’ translated through the screaming cacophonous filter of Zorn’s ear is a treat. Recently I was stuck driving on the highway through torrential rain and listening to this album made it… epic.

If you are a fan of this kind of thing, I recommend the following. If you aren’t, investigate because you are missing out my friend.

A Fistful Of Film Music: The Ennio Morricone Anthology

The Big Gundown: John Zorn Plays The Music Of Ennio Morricone

The Sergio Leone Anthology (A Fistful Of Dollars / For A Few Dollars More / The Good, The Bad And The Ugly / Duck, You Sucker)

Ennio Morricone (Book with CDs)

Once Upon a Time in the West [Blu-ray]

Bowie’s new single ‘Where are We Now?’

I’ve been a big fan of David Bowie’s music since I was a kid. Along with the Stones, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Who, Rush, Van Halen, Joy Division and the Police, his music was a mainstay of my upbringing (may parents were pretty cool that way).

I delved very deeply into his catalog when he made the press with Outside (a high concept album that appealed to a select few) and gained a greater appreciation for his massive body of work and its varied facets. I even got to work at Rykodisc and met with some of the people who worked on the reissues that introduced a whole new audience to his work while remastering each album in loving detail (even later, less stellar material such as Never Let Me Down).
Bowie_66
Released just yesterday, the new video from Bowie arrives on the heels of his 66th birthday. The ‘Thin White Duke’ delivers a mournful lament that ponders existence as the camera roams through his former apartment. His face projected onto a Siamese twin stuffed doll, the singer painfully mouths the lyrics as they appear across the screen.

His first studio album in about ten years, The Next Day will be released on Columbia Records in March. The Next Day is produced by Tony Visconti, the same man behind T Rex’s Electric Warrior and the Bowie albums Man Who Sold the World, Young Americans, the Bowie/Eno trilogy Low/Heroes/Lodger and Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps).

[More info here]

As an added note, here’s an excellent tune that my brother brought to my attention from his previous album in 2003 Reality called Bring Me the Disco King.

Skinny Puppy’s iconic albums by Steven R Gilmore

I have been a fan of Skinny Puppy since my friend Pete first played me ‘Chainsaw’ on a ride through the suburban night of my teenagerhood back in the day. Their sampling of classic TV and horror, looped sounds and distorted instruments accompanying the strained screaming of front man Nivek Ogre remain one of the most amazing musical experiences ever. Along with their sound, the look of each of their albums is equally iconic.

I was surprised to learn that many of their covers were designed by one man, Steven R Gilmore. Gilmore was interviewed over at the graphic design site RockPaperInk and shared some thoughts about his relationship with the industrial band and the creative process.

Skinny Puppy – Rabies

You’ve been working with Skinny Puppy since 1984—do you approach projects with them differently than you do for new clients? Are you keenly aware of the large body of past work you’ve created for them?

SG: My main approach to Skinny Puppy has always been to try and create something graphically and emotionally different for each release. Having said that, I guess it does make me aware of the body of work I have created for them over the years. That’s something I’ve never really thought of before.

Skinny Puppy – VIVIsectVI

In an interview with Spinner.com, Ogre was quoted as saying, “As musicians, we have been dealing with a business that is eroded to such a degree that you can’t really make a living off of it. How do I exist in this world? Hawking T-shirts? All I wanted to be was a musician, and now I’ve started to become a bill collector.” Do you feel similarly about how the changes in the music industry have affected you as a designer?

SG: Because of the economy, designer’s roles have changed all across the board in recent years, but I think one of the biggest negative impacts has been within in the music industry. Besides the budgets for sleeve designs steadily decreasing, the music industry is still undergoing a major transition into the digital domain. There have always been rather pedestrian album sleeve designs out there, but sadly digital downloading has taken mediocrity to a new level. What is seemingly important now is that the front cover information can be deciphered quickly at 300 x 300 pixels.

But all is not lost for consumers who would like to see artwork for their favorite artists. Vinyl has seen a huge resurgence lately, and besides the digital booklets that iTunes has included with albums for a number of years, they are now featuring much larger embedded cover art. When all is said and done, it really is a shame that most music consumers will never experience the sheer tactile joy of holding an album package in their hands, or even a CD for that matter.

Lastly, what is your favorite work with the band? Why?

SG: My personal favorite of all the sleeves I have done for Skinny Puppy is still VIVIsectVI, which I did in 1988.

Yes! This is in my top five favorite sleeves…

SG: From the x-ray collage on the front cover (which unintentionally looks very similar to the collage I just did forHandover), the gatefold sleeve, the custom vinyl labels (a rarity for Nettwerk in those days), to the photograph of the band on the inside by Kevin Westenberg, everything just fell together so flawlessly. It will always be something I’m very proud of.

Skinny Puppy – HanDover

Recommended:

Skinny Puppy -handOver (2011)

Skinny Puppy- Rabies (1989)

Skinny Puppy – Vivisect Vi (1988)

Supreme boutique shop releases Daniel Johnston Captain America shirts

An accomplished lyricist and cult icon, Daniel Johnston started his career as a musician by simply recording his music performed in his basement on cassettes and handing them out to whoever took them. When he started getting name-dropped by Kurt Cobain, his fame began to take off. His music certainly isn’t for everyone, but even he admits that his first album was recorded during a nervous breakdown.

I had the good fortune to see Daniel Johnston in concert at a very small venue in Cambridge, MA some time ago. It was just him, an acoustic guitar and a piano. I can attest to his weirdly magical stage presence and the strength of his lyrics and musical ability. He is also obsessed with Captain America. All of his drawings depict a seemingly manic version of the character staring back at the viewer in utter confusion, usually in situations that have nothing to do with the comic book creation. Maybe he read Jack Kirby’s Mad Bomb issues and they hit home? It’s not clear exactly what any of this means to Mr. Johnston, but it is very important to him.

Finally (?) these images are making their way to the mass market.


Daniel Johnston has designed a collection of T-shirts for Supreme, the long-running skate company beloved and often repped by Odd Future, as Complex reports. The shirts are available online and in stores in New York, L.A., and London on June 14, and in Japan on June 16.

(Via Pitchfork Media)

The documentary ‘The Devil and Daniel Johnston’ details Daniel’s tragic but never dull life and is highly recommended.

Beatles film Yellow Submarine finally on Blu-ray

In the time when I was born
Lived a man who sailed to sea
And he told me of his life
In the land of submarines…

I know that I already opened the door by stating that my psyche was formed by Sid and Marty Krofft, but there’s more. As a child, my local UHF channel regularly showed the Beatles animated movie Yellow Submarine, a film that I never missed. My parents were pretty hip and owned many of the Beatles albums on vinyl, but this was probably my in-road to their music. Put this together with my love of the early 1960’s psychedelic Dr Who, Philip K Dick, garage rock and Gerry Anderson productions and you may think that I’m far more interesting than I really am.

Rumor has it that the Beatles had no interest in a cartoon film and only became invested after seeing the script. Appearing only briefly in the final product, their contribution was minimal, but it is widely accepted that the screenwriters and animators had a perfect grasp of the Lennon/McCartney/Starr/Harrison material. It is a celebration of their music and embodies the thoughts and feelings that were so unique to the Beatles. It also premiered several of my favorite Beatles songs such as ‘Hey Bulldog.’

Directed by innovative animator George Dunning, the movie uses a stunning color pallet and features designs that would later appear in the pop art of Peter Max, Yellow Submarine remains one of the most important pieces of animation and entertainment in general. The script may be corny at times, but it is also timeless and shows insight into what would become the future of pop culture.

When the film was screened in 1968, it stood out as the first serious animated film since Disney’s Fantasia. It also contains a narrative format that would fit in with not just children’s literature but comic books as well. Liverpool is presented as a bleak colorless landscape and the various seas that the Yellow Submarine takes the characters through are wild and uninhibited by rules. The laws of physics change gleefully according to their location as does the nature of the inhabitants that they encounter. Only the Blue Meanies seem to stand in the way of happiness, and of course their chief weapons of apples and a weird massive blue glove.

The film’s new version is apparently a fancy 4k digital restoration, conducted by a team at Triage Motion Picture Services and Eque Inc. Instead of relying on automated software, the “delicate nature” of the touch-ups meant specialists had to clean the movie frame by frame. The Blu-ray package also includes the original theatrical trailer, interviews, stickers, pencil sketches, and Mod Odyssey, a behind-the-scenes film. Pixar founder John Lasseter has written an accompanying 16-page essay.

Ahead of Yellow Submarine’s CD and DVD release, Candlewick Press will publish a book of the screenplay on 24 April, the tome showcasing “the light-hearted wit of the film’s script alongside original artwork from the movie”. A digital version of the book is already available.
(Via GuardianUK)

On May 29th, a restored version of the Beatles ‘Yellow Submarine’ will be released on Blu-ray, each frame hand-cleaned by Apple Corp. The soundtrack will also be re-issued to coincide with the release.

(Thankfully, a 3-D CGi remake has been shelved, so there’s another reason to be happy.)

Pre order Yellow Submarine Blu-ray from Amazon

Long Lost Top of the Pops Bowie video Jean Genie Found!

The news below broke just yesterday about a BBC cameraman John Henshall finding a long lost David Bowie performance from Top of the Tops. Unseen since 1973, this is an amazing piece of lost TV footage showing Bowie and his Spiders in full form.

Christmas is coming early for Bowie fans… tonight in the UK (and soon after on YouTube and torrent trackers for the rest of us). From the NME:

Rare footage of David Bowie performing on Top Of The Pops is to be broadcast on BBC 2 tonight (December 21).

The footage, which sees the singer play “The Jean Genie’” had been lost until last week, when retired TV cameraman John Henshall came forward with a copy of the performance. It was previously believed that every copy of the UK Number 2 hit had been destroyed.

The four-minute clip will now be included in tonight’s Top Of The Pops Christmas Special at 7.30pm (GMT).

Executive producer of Top Of The Pops 2 Mark Cooper told BBC News:

“Bowie singing ‘The Jean Genie’ is electric and the kind of piece of archive that not only brings back how brilliant Top Of The Pops could be, but also how a piece of archive can speak to us down the years.”

(Via DangerousMinds)

But say you’re not a Bowie fan… I can almost forgive that… The even more exciting news is that this could be the tip of the lost footage iceberg as Hebshall has hinted at even more footage in his possession.

This could mean more announcements regarding ‘lost’ Doctor Who being released in 2012!

Special thanks to John Caples and Mark Duncan

The American Revolution- The story of WBCN

Growing up in New England, I was exposed to music at an early age. The home of the Pixies, Galaxie 500, Buffalo Tom, Sebadoh, Dinosaur Jr. and more, the radio was always introducing me to something new. My whole family was into music, actually, my mom was a big Elvis fanatic, my dad was into the Stones, my brother brought home Joy Division and the Sex Pistols.

The hub of my musical beginnings was WBCN, a radio station that once upon a time played wicked awesome tunes. This was before Jane’s Addiction and Nirvana were heralded as the second coming of music and the term ‘alternative’ was coined, ending an era of a station playing simply good music. WBCN was shut down by CBS in 2009 but continues in digital form as two stations still streaming a mix of classic and alternative rock.  Though the station had declined to a large degree over the years and was at best a shadow of its former self, the haunting outro of  the Cosmic Muffin marked the end of an era.

The documentary The American Revolution celebrates the history of the ‘Rock of Boston’ in style, bringing back memories to my generation and beyond of the station that acted as a staple of Massachusetts.

WHAT IS “THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION”?

For the past five years, I have been working on a feature-length documentary film called The American Revolution. This ground-breaking production chronicles the untold story of free-form radio station WBCN-FM, and underground media in Boston from 1968 to 1974, and how it reflected and promoted the profound social, cultural and political changes that took place during that era. In an era before Facebook and Twitter, these forces combined to end a war and help drive two unpopular sitting presidents from office.

Amidst this political upheaval, virtually every American cultural institution went through a dramatic change as the anti-war and civil rights movements were joined by women’s and gay liberation, and the emergence of environmentalism.

The spirit of the times was reflected through the transformation of rock and roll into a cultural force, and was heard on the station’s airwaves, including such live performances as Jerry Garcia and Duane Allman who stopped by the station at 2AM following a concert at Boston University to play their acoustic guitars live on the air, and Bruce Springsteen’s first radio interview and performance ever.

The American Revolution is the story of how a radio station, politics and rock and roll changed everything.

Against the backdrop of today’s movements for change, from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street, the film has become more timely and vital than ever

And now we need your help to finish it!

Trailer

Excerpt- Kent State and Nixon

Pledge by visiting the Kickstarter page.