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Classic rock conspiracy theory: ‘Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon,’ the dark heart of the hippie dream

The standard modus operandi of a work of “conspiracy theory” is fairly straightforward. The author/researcher takes some commonly accepted historical narrative, and lavishes scepticism upon it, while simultaneously maintaining an alternative understanding of what “really” happened, one that ostensibly better fits the considered facts.

While Dave McGowan’s Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon : Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops & The Dark Heart of the Hippie Dream, indubitably follows this approach, its focus is utterly unique. Not to put too fine a point on it, the book is no less than the Official Classic Rock Conspiracy Theory, with individual chapters tackling the unlikely subjects of Frank Zappa, the Doors, Love, the Beach Boys, the Byrds, Gram Parsons and more, the careers of which are scrutinized for the fingerprints of the secret state.

What you make of McGowan’s criteria in and of itself (which ranges fairly widely, and at times wildly, from a “tell-tale” preoccupation with the occult to heavy military-industrial family ties), to my mind the virtue of Weird Scenes dwells in the ensuing atmosphere of incredible fairy-tale strangeness—not unlike Joan Didion’s own famous look at California in the late sixties, The White Album. On almost every page, movie-star mansions, knitted with secret passages, spontaneously combust; murders, suicides and overdoses spread through the celebrity populace; cults spring up peopled with mobsters and spies… and all the while, this timeless, intriguing music keeps on geysering away. I contacted McGowan about his bizarre book earlier this week…

Thomas McGrath: Hi Dave. Could you begin please by telling us something about your previous work?

David McGowan: My work as a political/social critic began around 1997, when I began to see signs that the political landscape in this country was about to change in rather profound ways. That was also the time that I first ventured onto the internet, which opened up a wealth of new research possibilities. I put up my first website circa 1998, and an adaptation of that became my first book, Derailing Democracy, in 2000. That first book, now out of print, was a warning to the American people that all the changes we have seen since the events of September 11, 2001 – the attacks on civil rights, privacy rights, and due process rights; the militarization of the nation’s police forces; the waging of multiple wars; the rise of surveillance technology and data mining, etc. – were already in the works and just waiting for a provocation to justify their implementation. My second book, Understanding the F-Word, was a review of twentieth-century US history that attempted to answer the question: “if this is in fact where we’re headed, then how did we get here?” Since 9-11, I’ve spent a good deal of time researching the events of that day and looked into a wide range of other topics. My third book, Programmed to Kill, was a look at the reality and mythology of what exactly a serial killer is. For the past six years, I have spent most of my time digging into the 1960s and 1970s Laurel Canyon counterculture scene, which has now become my fourth book, Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon.

Thomas McGrath:  Am I right in presuming that you take it as a given fact that power networks are essentially infected by occultism? Are these cults essentially Satanic, or what?

David McGowan: Yes, I do believe that what you refer to as power networks, otherwise known as secret societies, are occult in nature. The symbolism can be seen everywhere, if you choose not to maneuver your way through the world deaf, dumb and blind. And I believe that it has been that way for a very long time. As for them being Satanic, I suppose it depends upon how you define Satanic. I personally don’t believe the teachings of either Satanism or Christianity, which are really just opposite sides of the same coin. I don’t believe that there is a God or a devil, and I don’t believe that those on the upper rungs of the ladder on either side believe so either. These are belief systems that are used to manipulate the minds of impressionable followers. In the case of Satanism, it is, to me, a way to covertly sell a fascist mindset, which is the direction the country, and the rest of the world, is moving. Those embracing the teachings think they are rebelling against the system, but they are in reality reinforcing it. Just as the hippies did. And just as so-called Patriots and Anarchists are. I don’t believe there has been a legitimate resistance movement in this country for a very long time.

Thomas McGrath: Tell us about Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon. What is this new book’s central thesis?

David McGowan: To the extent that it has a central thesis, I would say that it is that the music and counterculture scene that sprung to life in the 1960s was not the organic, grassroots resistance movement that it is generally perceived to be, but rather a movement that was essentially manufactured and steered. And a corollary to that would be that for a scene that was supposed to be all about peace, love and understanding, there was a very dark, violent underbelly that this book attempts to expose.

Thomas McGrath: How convinced are you by it and why?

David McGowan: Very convinced. It’s been a long journey and virtually everything I have discovered – including the military/intelligence family backgrounds of so many of those on the scene, both among the musicians and among their actor counterparts; the existence of a covert military facility right in the heart of the canyon; the prior connections among many of the most prominent stars; the fact that some of the guiding lights behind both the Rand Corporation and the Project for a New American Century were hanging out there at the time, as were the future governor and lieutenant governor of California, and, by some reports, J. Edgar Hoover and various other unnamed politicos and law enforcement personnel; and the uncanny number of violent deaths connected to the scene – all tend to indicate that the 1960s counterculture was an intelligence operation.

Thomas McGrath: You propose that hippie culture was established to neutralise the anti-war movement. But I also interpreted your book as suggesting that, as far as you’re concerned, there’s also some resonance between what you term “psychedelic occultism” (the hippie counterculture) and the “elite” philosophy/theology? You think this was a second reason for its dissemination?

David McGowan: Yes, I do. Hippie culture is now viewed as synonymous with the anti-war movement, but as the book points out, that wasn’t always the case. A thriving anti-war movement existed before the first hippie emerged on the scene, along with a women’s rights movement, a black empowerment/Black Panther movement, and various other movements aimed at bringing about major changes in society. All of that was eclipsed by and subsumed by the hippies and flower children, who put a face on those movements that was offensive to mainstream America and easy to demonize. And as you mentioned, a second purpose was served as well – indoctrinating the young and impressionable into a belief system that serves the agenda of the powers that be.

Thomas McGrath: One thing your book does very convincingly, I think, is argue that many if not most of the main movers in the sixties counterculture were, not to put too fine a point on it, horrendous, cynical degenerates. However, one might argue that a predilection for drugs, alcohol, and even things like violence and child abuse, does not make you a member of a government cult. You disagree?

David McGowan:  No. I’ve known a lot of people throughout my life with a predilection for drugs and alcohol, none of whom were involved in any cults, government or otherwise. And I don’t believe that a predilection for drugs makes one a degenerate. The focus on drug use in the book is to illustrate the point that none of the scene’s movers and shakers ever suffered any legal consequences for their rampant and very open use of, and sometimes trafficking of, illicit drugs. The question posed is why, if these people were really challenging the status quo, did the state not use its law enforcement powers to silence troublemakers? I do have zero tolerance for violence towards and abuse of children, which some people in this story were guilty of. But that again doesn’t make someone a member of a cult – though it does make them seriously morally challenged.

Thomas McGrath: You say in the book that you were always a fan of sixties music and culture. Weirdly, I found that, even while reading Weird Scenes, I was almost constantly listening to the artists you were denouncing. I mean, I found albums like Pet Sounds, Forever Changes, Return of the Grievous Angel,et al sounded especially weird in the context, but I still couldn’t resist sticking them on. I was wondering if you still listen to these records yourself?

David McGowan: Yes, I do. The very first rock concert I ever attended was Three Dog Night circa 1973 – a Laurel Canyon band, though I did not know that until about five years ago. To my mind, the greatest guitarist who ever lived was Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin was arguably the finest female vocalist – in terms of raw power and emotion – to ever take the stage. I don’t know that it is accurate to describe my book as “denouncing” various artists. Brian Wilson, who composed Pet Sounds, is described as the finest and most admired composer of his generation. The guys from Love, architects of Forever Changes, are presented as among the most talented musicians of the era. Frank Zappa is acknowledged as an immensely talented musician, composer and arranger. And so on. It is true that I believe that some of the most famed artists to emerge from Laurel Canyon are vastly overrated, with Jim Morrison and David Crosby quickly coming to mind. And it’s true that on some of the most loved albums that came out of the canyon, the musicians who interpreted the songs weren’t the ones on the album covers. And it’s also true that, unlike other books that have covered the Laurel Canyon scene, Weird Scenes doesn’t sugarcoat things. But the undeniable talent and artistry of many of the canyon’s luminaries is acknowledged. And the book also shines a little bit of light on some of the tragically forgotten figures from that era, like Judee Sill and David Blue, which could lead to readers rediscovering some of those artists and the talents that they had to offer.
Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops & The Dark Heart of the Hippie Dream is available now in special pre-release hardback only from Headpress. The paperback is out next month, and should be available from all strange bookshops.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Beyond the Doors: Conspiracy theories about the deaths of Jimi, Janis and Jim

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Leave a comment
Literary Youth: Kim Gordon to publish two books, make cameo on HBO’s ‘Girls’
07:28 am


Kim Gordon

Kim Gordon has reportedly begun writing her autobiography—just one of two books she will be publishing soon, the second will focus on her writing for art magazines in the 80s. She’s also slated to appear in the third season of HBO’s Girls. Via NME:

Set to be titled Girl In A Band and published by HarperCollins, it will “chronicle her choice to leave Los Angeles in the early ’80s for the post-punk scene in New York City, where she formed Sonic Youth”. Gordon was a member of the iconic group from their foundation in 1981 until 2011, when the band went on hiatus after her separation from bandmate and husband Thurston Moore. She has since formed a new band, Body/Head, with Vampire Belt member Bill Nace.

Another book due to be released by Sternberg Press will collate essays the musician wrote for art and culture magazines in the 1980s. Meanwhile, Gordon is also exhibiting a retrospective of her own visual art at New York gallery White Columns. The exhibition features her work from 1980 right through to 2013 and, according to the gallery’s own website, “a new limited-edition vinyl solo recording by Kim Gordon will accompany the exhibition, and a publication anthologizing Gordon’s activities as an artist will follow in the fall.”

The world of book publishing isn’t entirely new for Ms. Gordon. In the mid Oughts she released Chronicles, Vol.1 and Vol. 2, and another artist’s book, Performing/Guzzling, followed in 2010.

Body/Head’s Coming Apart album is released today

Below, Body/Head (Kim Gordon and Bill Nace) at Kunstencentrum, Belgium on February 24th 2012.

The good Reverend Gordon marries Rufus and Lily on Gossip Girl:

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Indie rock versus mainstream pop: Who do you love?

A couple of interesting music related articles have popped up in the last short while that I want to share here. Both have instigated some heated debate, but it seems to me like they both represent different sides of the same coin, namely the age old battle between the supposedly “authentic” nature of rock music and the disdain that rock snobs in turn show for “pop” music.

The first of these articles appeared in the Guardian on Thursday, and is titled “Indie Rock’s Slow and Painful Death,” by Dorian Lynskey. I’m pretty sure you can guess the content of the article by the headline alone, but here’s a taster anyway:

Just before Christmas US music writer Eric Harvey compiled a list of sales figures for the top 50 albums in Pitchfork’s end-of-year poll, inspiring the Guardian to conduct a similar exercise [re-published at the bottom of the article]. Each list prompts much the same conclusion. Of the five albums in Pitchfork’s list that sold more than 100,000 copies in the US in 2011 only two (Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes) are indie artists. In the Guardian’s top 40 the only alternative acts to pass 100,000 (the benchmark for a gold record) are Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Noah and the Whale, PJ Harvey, Radiohead and Laura Marling.

Of course critics’ polls are not an authoritative measure and other indie artists exceeded 100,000 sales in the US (including Wilco, Feist, the Black Keys, the Decemberists, My Morning Jacket), the UK (Elbow, Kasabian, the Vaccines, Snow Patrol, two Gallagher brothers) or both (the Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead). If you really stretch the category then Coldplay, Foo Fighters and Florence + the Machine also did the double, and if you count 2010 releases you can add Mumford & Sons and Kings of Leon. And let’s note that, because of Spotify and YouTube, sales figures aren’t the only measure of success. That said, it’s still an unforgiving climate for the kind of crossover alternative rock act that not so long ago was taken for granted, especially when so many of the bands mentioned have been around for a decade or so and selling to loyalists rather than new fans. This sobering data invites two questions: how long will indie’s big slump last? And does it matter?

To an extent pop trends are cyclical. To borrow the language of economics, after each speculative bubble bursts (grunge, Britpop, mid-00s indie) there’s a market correction that leaves many casualties. In 1999 and 2000 there were many brilliant records but they were disparate and rarely suited to magazine covers, throwing both Select and Melody Maker into first panic and then closure, when just five years earlier it had seemed like the stream of charismatic, platinum-selling, magazine-shifting rock bands would never end. Of course just a few months later the Strokes and the White Stripes heralded a vibrant new phase, which led to the Libertines and Franz Ferdinand and then another bubble: landfill indie. By the time radio and magazines were pushing dreck such as the Automatic and the Pigeon Detectives the writing was on the wall.

While I think the thrust of this article is applicable in both the US and the UK, I feel it’s important to note that in the UK “indie rock” is seen as an actual genre of music rather than just a descriptive term for independent artists. Because to these ears “independent” is the last term that comes to mind to describe acts like Oasis, Snow Patrol, Foo Fighters, the Strokes and Mumford & Sons, and it seems somewhat absurd to judge the success of supposedly “alternative” acts on how much they sell. Also, the term “landfill indie” refers to a glut of bands whose names begin with “The” and who tend to dress similarly and make similar sounding records, who get signed for a year and release a “buzz” album, before being dropped once the PR budget runs out. 

I think the real subtext of Lynskey’s article is that there is a crisis in mainstream music journalism. As less and less genuinely interesting music reaches journalists’ desks through the traditional PR channels they have relied on since the 1990s, the journalists in turn cry that “music is dead!” Because surely excessive PR spin is the only rational explanation for the acts mentioned above being considered “alternative” or “independent”? And speaking of Spin, I think it’s the same reason that magazine has decided to abandon music reviews in favour of tweets, while claiming that there are “fewer and fewer actual music consumers” (a claim which is demonstrably false, by the way.) There is no dearth of interesting and forward-thinking music being made in the world, but as is repeatedly pointed out in the article’s comments section, journalists need to look a bit harder to find it now.

The second article I have read lately that has provoked some commentary is Wallace Wylie’s “Why Pop Music Matters (No Matter What Age You Are)” on the Collapse Board website. While, again, the content of the article is explained pretty succinctly in the headline, this time it’s a bit more composed and thoughtful than Lynskey’s piece, taking in as it does criticism of both rock and pop:

The tragedy of rock music is that it went from cutting edge rebellion to conservative defender of values in a very short amount of time. Music magazines still run stories of Dylan going electric as a singular moment in rock history, and each person who reads this story shakes their heads sadly at the idea that anyone would castigate Dylan, thinking that, obviously they would have embraced this thrilling new sound. These same people then decry the current state of music and complain loudly at almost every new development, claiming that the current version of pop is some degraded, commercialised bastardisation of what music once was. Despite the obviousness of the historical lessons above, each generation still produces thousands of individuals who imagine that THIS time music really has drifted too far from its roots, that some essential quality is missing, that music has become meaningless.

Utimately, nobody can prove one way or the other whether ‘music’ was ever good or bad, and to think that anybody can launch a rational argument based around the idea that the entire musical output of a new generation is somehow not meeting some in-built standard is foolish beyond words. No art form or style has ever held firm amid the onslaught of modernisation and emerged the victor. The only thing able to somewhat succeed in ending innovative thinking and inevitable change thus far has been murderous totalitarian governments. Left to their own devices, many artists willfully experiment, and those in the commercial field are no different. This is not to say that pop music is above criticism. If pop music has a problem, however, it is in its process and in its reception. While the music plays on regardless, an intellectual war rages beneath the surface. With charges of frivolity thrown constantly at pop, postmodernism came to its rescue, bringing a brand new set of problems in its wake.

There is something rotten at pop’s core. While it is undoubtedly more welcoming to women and non-whites, it has a tendency to use and discard those same people at will. Women’s looks are under constant scrutiny in the world of pop, to the extent that a little extra weight can undermine a performer’s entire career. Once a person’s moment under the spotlight is over, hosts of cackling jackals take great delight in declaring that person a non-entity. Pop worships at the altar of youth and beauty, and anyone deemed old or ugly should probably wander off into the cold and die the moment their time in the spotlight is over.

It’s important to note that there are differences, of course, between popular music culture in the US and the UK, but Wylie addresses this in his article (being a British writer based in America writing for an Australian site, he’s well aware of these differences.) But I’m with Wylie on this. “Pop” is just as valid a “genre” as any other you’d care to mention, and I have an innate distrust of those who dismiss pop music out of hand. It seems nonsensical to me to disregard any music simply because it is popular, just as it would be nonsensical to dismiss all music made before an arbitrary year like, say, 1974. It’s not a sign of having more developed and advanced taste I’m afraid, it’s actually the exact opposite - your taste must be pretty weak if it is swayed by the amount of people who enjoy a song rather than the song itself.

What is more interesting to me though are the core arguments that get bandied about in relation to the perceived “authenticity” of rock music as opposed to pop, and how these notions can lead to enjoyment of pop music being seen as shameful. As Wylie mentions in the comments to this piece, an artist like Neil Young is perceived as being somehow more “authentic” than, say, Missy Elliot, despite coming from an upper middle class family with a famous father, while Elliot came from a truly impoverished broken home and had to fight harder to achieve her popular status. There is another excellent Collapse Board article on this same issue that music fans should also read: “Everything Is Plastic: The Corrupting Ideal of Authenticity In Music” by Scott Creney.

There’s much food for thought to chew on in these articles, but it’s important for me to re-state here on DM—a site where only last week a newish rock band experimenting with electronics called Errors got dismissed as being clones of, err, Hawkwind?!—that following music is now easier than ever. It’s as accessible as simply surfing the net, and as mystifyingly off-putting to older generations as that pass time can be, too. It’s the lame-ass reason that Spin is cutting its reviews (because the audience can hear the music before the review is read - yes, that is what they said!), it’s why Dorian Lynskey’s desk is overflowing with dross, and why shitty “indie rock” matters less now than it ever did.

NOBODY is too old for pop music, or even the music of the younger generations, regardless of genre. I’ll leave you with this quote from Wallace Wylie:

When a music fan starts to imagine that the essential sprit of music lies in holding on to an old idea rather than embracing a new one, it’s probably fair to say that they have become something of a musical conservative. I say this without labeling myself the most forward thinking of listeners. I merely state it as an absolute, unarguable fact.

Further reading:

Wallace Wylie: “Why Pop Music Matters (No Matter What Age You Are)
Dorian Lynskey “Indie Rock’s Slow & Painful Death
Scott Creney “Everything is Plastic: The Corrupting Ideal of Authenticity In Music “Spin Magazine To Review Albums On Twitter: Is This the Death Of Music Criticism?

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
‘Fuck You’: A psychedelic rarity from mystery band Lucifer
11:12 pm

Pop Culture

Fuck You

Much debate revolves around exactly who Lucifer was. One of the only points of agreement is that the band wasn’t actually a band but the product of one person. The question is: who was that person? Legendary British hash smuggler and provocateur Howard Marks claims in his book Mr. Nice that Lucifer was Denys Irving, a pioneering computer arts geek, and that Marks financed his experimental recordings. Others, including a writer on Julian Cope’s blog, say Lucifer is Peter Walker, a former member of Manchester, England psychedelic band The Purple Gang. Based on the information in Mark’s book, I think Irving, who died in a hang gliding accident in 1976, was Lucifer. As far as I know, Peter Walker ain’t talking.

In all of the mystery surrounding Lucifer’s identity, the one thing that is certain is that the artist’s first record was a limited edition 45 r.p.m single “Fuck You” released in 1972 and made available through mail-order only. You’d have to have seen an ad in underground magazines like Australia’s Oz or British music weekly New Musical Express to know the record even existed.

Described by Lucifer as “fuckrock,” here’s the obscure, and yet legendary, “Fuck You” recorded four decades before Cee Lo Green’s hit of the same name.

And if you dig this, stay tuned. I’ll be uploading more of Lucifer’s music shortly.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
‘1-2 FU’: A personal odyssey through British Punk Rock

I first met Peter Boyd Maclean about twenty years ago, when he was about 12, or so it seemed, as he was precociously young and at the same time incredibly wise, and most annoyingly Talented with a capital ‘T’. He had arrived from the ether to work at the Beeb as a top director / producer, having made a splash on that TV earthquake known as Network 7. He was funny, witty and always made work fun. I recall at the time Peter had just “Shot the shit” out of some island to placate his over-zealous exec, who repeatedly demanded “Pictures! Coverage! More pictures! More coverage!” every 10 minutes by ‘phone, fax and pigeon post. Since then m’colleague, has gone on to greater achievements and awards and hairstyles of interesting description.

He also made this rather super documentary on Punk, 1-2 FU with Jonathan Ross taking a personal odyssey through the music of his youth. It’s quirky, orignal, and has an impressive line-up of the punk bands who most effected the TV showman, including Steven Severin, Ari Up, The Damned, Adam Ant, etc. Like the best of Peter’s work, F-U 12 takes an original approach to a subject, rather than the usually biblical reverence of “In the beginning was Punk and the Punk was with…” etc. Of particular note here, is Jonathan’s bus tour of London’s punk clubs, and his rendition (as in torture) of “Anarchy in the U.K.”

Now here’s more of the same from the official blurb:

1-2 FU

Jonathan Ross presents the ‘Memoirs of a Middle-Aged Punk’ in this authored documentary charting the rise and demise of the most nihilistic movement in the history of British music.

Jonathan delivers a fast and furious rant confessing his passion for punk and the lasting effect it’s had on everything, from music and fashion to art and television.

As a forty-something whose life has been defined by punk and all the anarchy it stood for, Jonathan sets out to discover if punk really changed the world or was it all overblown hype?

To fully explore the legacy of punk, Jonathan gets a Mohican and grabs Captain Sensible to join him as he transports an open-top bus full of punks on a tour around London’s most notorious punk hotspots.

Finally, it’s Jonathan Ross as you’ve never seen him before when he fulfils his ultimate punk fantasy performing with Vic Reeves as The Fat Punks for one night only.



Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Backstage footage of the Rolling Stones: Hampton Coliseum, VA, 1981

Video filmed backstage at a Rolling Stones concert, from the Hampton Coliseum, Virginia, in 1981.

Alway wanted to know about the backstage antics???
Here’s your chance to be with the Stones before they go on stage.
I guess the routine of touring has gotten to the point of ...well this!
Warming the crowd before they go on is George Thorogood & the Destroyers, on stage in the background.

Your Backstage pass says “ALL ACCESS”.
Please follow through this door and onto your left!

Taken from the December 18 performance, this was broadcast as The World’s Greatest Rock’n’Roll Party on pay-per-view and in closed circuit cinemas - the first use of pay-per-view for a music event.

It’s interesting footage, inasmuch as it belies the backstage tales of excess most associated with the “World’s Greatest Rock’n’Roll” band.

With thanks to Vince Giracello

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
A Brief History of Recent Pop Culture as told through Photographs of Alice Cooper and Friends

A brief history of recent pop culture, as told through various photographs of Alice Cooper and Friends.
Marxism: Alice and Groucho.
The Super Group: Alice, Keith Moon, Harry Nilsson, Marc Bolan, 1973.
Surrealism: Alice and Salvador Dali.
Popism: Alice, Ray Manzarek, and Iggy.
Previously on Dangerous Minds
When Alice Cooper met Colonel Sanders
Culled from various but special thanks to This Is Not Porn
More photo-history with Alice plus bonus clip, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Original Photo-spread for Ken Russell’s ‘Lisztomania’, 1975

This year marks the bi-centenary of Franz Liszt‘s birth - that legendary composer, pianist and mad shagger.

It was Ken Russell who first saw the similarities between Liszt and the excesses of modern day rock stars. Liszt’s concerts were attended by hundreds of young women, who screamed their hearts out at the composer’s flowing locks, long, dextrous fingers and incredible virtuosity at the piano. He was mobbed by these fans, who tore at his clothes, and ripped souvenir handkerchiefs that had been cast into the crowd (just like Elvis would do over a century later) to shreds. Liszt’s concerts were said to raise the mood of an audience to “mystical ecstasy”, all of which led to the term “Lisztomania” to describe the public’s excessive adoration of the randy composer.

Lisztomania became the title of Russell’s “scandalous” and “outrageous” 1975 cartoon bio-pic, starring Roger Daltrey as Liszt, with Paul Nicholas as Wagner, Ringo Starr as the Pope, Fiona Lewis as Marie d’Agoult and Sarah Kestelman as Princess Carolyn. As Films and Filming noted in this pictorial preview it was to be Russell’s “most spectacular and controversial” film, and while it turned the critics off, it is a film that has grown in reputation and influence since its first release. While not Russell’s best work, it’s still sand-in-the-face to the majority of pap pumped out into today’s multiplexes.

Previously on Dangerous Minds

Original Photo-spread for Derek Jarman’s ‘Jubliee’

More pics from ‘Lisztomania’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Bruce Springstone - ‘Meet the Flintstones’

Bruce Springstone is Tom Chalkley and Craig Hankin, two Baltimore singer/songwriters who recorded this piss-take of Bruce Springstein in 1982.

Bruce Springstone: Live at Bedrock” was released in September ‘82 by Clean Cuts Records. The A-side features “Bedrock Rap/Meet the Flintstones,” a parody of Springsteen singing the Flintstones theme; the B-side is a Springsteenesque arrangement of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Chalkley does the lead vocals, Hankin plays rhythm guitar.

Other musicians featured are John Ebersberger (drums), Ron Holloway (saxophone), Tommy Keene (lead guitar), Suzy Shaw (keyboards) and Gabor Lutor (bass). Hankin and Chalkley wrote the arrangements. Jack Heyrman produced the record which was engineered by Steve Carr at Hit & Run Studios in Rockville, MD. Chalkley and Ebersberger did the cover art.


With thanks to Tommy Udo

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Aging of Mark E Smith: Various interviews through the Years
03:56 pm


Pop Culture
The Fall

I wonder if somewhere in Mark E. Smith’s attic there’s a beautiful painting of him as a Salford adonis?

Here is Manchester’s finest talking about music, art, this and that from the 1980s to 2010.


More from the mighty MES, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Rock Stars and their Mustaches
04:13 pm


Pop Culture

In no particular order, a fine selection of mustachioed rock stars.
Nick Cave - I wonder if he dyes his collar and cuffs to match his ‘tache?
Biffy Clyro auditioning for Jesus Christ Superstar.
More hirsute musos, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Pop Art: 5 celebrity artists

A selection of artworks by artists better known for their work as actors, musicians and writers.
William Burroughs
Burroughs explains his shot gun art:

“Once you know where to point, all you have to do is get out of the way and let this thing happen [...] and letting what you really know take over.”

More celebrity artists, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Debbie Harry talks and models Stephen Sprouse, from 1979

The always beautiful Debbie Harry talks fashion, clothes and style, before modeling a selection of Stephen Sprouse’s designs, in this interview from 1979.

Interviewer:  Did you grow up around fashion?

Debbie Harry : No, not really. I grew up in New Jersey.


Previously on DM

Blondie’s ‘Autoamerican’: A Lost Classic


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Dare’ Producer Martin Rushent has died

It’s been a bad week for music with the passing last week of Gil Scott-Heron, and on Friday Andrew Gold. Now we have the sad news that producer Martin Rushent has died at the age of 63.

Rushent was one of the most influential producers of the late 1970s and 1980s, who created the soundscape that defined the era. If you turned on the radio back then, you were guaranteed to hear a Rushent-produced track within minutes, for Rushent was the touch of genius on some of the best work released by The Human League, Altered Images, The Stranglers, Generation X, The Associates and The Buzzcocks.

Though Rushent may be best remembered for his work producing (and performing on) the Human League’s album Dare and its hit single “Don’t You Want Me”, for which he won Best Producer at the 1982 Brit Awards, his influence was not kept to one band.

There was a trick I once heard, which claimed: if you ever travel around London, vaguely point in the direction of old churches and say Hawksmoor, you’re bound to be right, so prodigious was that architect’s work. The same can be said for Martin Rushent, hear any track from the late 1970s and especially the early 1980s, and if you can’t name the band just say, Martin Rushent and you’re bound to be right, for so prodigious, and impressive, was his output.

Dare proved “that synths and drum machines could be used to create mainstream pop.

Rushent also produced The Stranglers first three albums, which as Louder Than War states:

Rushent, born in 1948, produced the Stranglers first three albums – creating that classic sound that was clear, punchy, dark and sleazy and groundbreaking all at the same time. With The Stranglers third album, ‘Black And White’ Rushent with engineer Alan Winstanley created a soundscape that was post punk before the term was even thought of.

He had a trademark sound. Each instrument had its place. he could make the complex sound simple and harnessed The Stranglers weird imagination and pop nous into something totally original and very commercial making them the best selling band of their period with a bass sound that launched a generation of bass players.

In an interview with Uncut Rushent recalled recording The Buzzcock’ biggest hit:

“Pete [Shelley] played me ‘Ever Fallen In Love…’ for the first time and my jaw hit the floor. I felt it was the strongest song that they had written-clever, witty lyrics, great hooklines. I suggested backing vocals-to highlight the chorus and make it even more powerful. No one could hit the high part-so I did it. I’d sung in bands in my youth and I also worked as a backing singer.”

Before his career with Punk, New Wave and Electronic bands, he worked on records by T Rex, David Essex and Shirley Bassey.

Rushent was said to be working on a 30th anniversary edition of Dare at the time of his death.

A Facebook page has been set up by Martin Rushent’s family to collect memories of the great man, which you can add to here.

The Stranglers - ‘No More Heroes’

Human League - ‘Open your Heart’
More Rushent-produced classic tracks, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘I shall die, and my friend will die soon’: Sid Vicious interview with Judy Vermorel from 1977

A revealing interview with Sid Vicious conducted by Judy Vermorel in August, 1977. In it Vicious rails against “grown-ups” and “grown-up attitudes”, TV host Hughie Green, insincerity, and why “the general public are scum” (his opinion about “99% of the shit” out on the street).

Vicious sounds incredibly young, perhaps because he was, and claims he “doesn’t like anything particularly” and that, “Nobody has to do anything”. There is some interesting thoughts on Russ Meyer’s plans for a Sex Pistols’  movie, which Sid dismisses as a “cheap attempt to get money.”

At the end, he rails against Malcolm McLaren, slightly incredulous to the information that Johnny Rotten and Paul Cook thought McLaren was the fifth member of the Pistols:

The band has never been dependent on Malcolm, that fucking toss-bag. I hate him..I’d smash his face in…I depend on him for exactly nothing. Do you know, all I ever got out of him was, I think, £15 in all the time I’ve known the fucking bastard. And a T-shirt, he gave me a free T-shirt, once, years ago. Once he gave me a fiver, and I stole a tenner off him, a little while ago, and that’s all. I hate him.

..But he’s all right. I couldn’t think of anyone else I could tolerate.

This is the interview where Vicious famously made an eerie prediction:

“I shall die when I am round-about twenty-four, I expect, if not sooner. And why my friend will die soon.”

His friend was “that girl” Nancy Spungen, who can be heard in the background of this interview.

Elsewhere on DM

Sid Vicious’ handwritten list of why Nancy Spungen is so great

Sid Vicious does it his way, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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