‘Danger is My Beer’: Meet ultra-obscure musical cult hero Reverend Fred Lane

From the Dangerous Minds archives:

It’s difficult to describe the music, or the persona, of Reverend Fred Lane, but I will try. The above pictured album cover probably paints at least a thousand words…

Fred Lane is an ultra obscure musical weirdo cult hero along the lines of Half Japanese, Daniel Johnston, Jandek, R. Stevie Moore or Wild Man Fischer, but he’s way, way more obscure than any of these comparatively famous freaks. At least you know the general territory. Lane was/is the stage name of a Tuscaloosa, AL-based artist/sculptor named T.R. Reed who put out two albums under the Fred Lane moniker in 1983, From the One That Cut You (recorded in 1975) and Car Radio Jerome in 1986. These albums were then re-released by Kramer’s Shimmy Disc label in the late 80s.

First the music: cartoony big-band free-jazz swing skronk sometimes bordering on total cacophony with dada lyrics and elements of easy listening, 70s Zappa, spy-fi, The Residents, Spike Jones, country and No Wave thrown in for good measure.  It’s truly unlike anything I’ve ever heard before and that’s not a throwaway assessment. The music of Reverend Fred Lane exists in its own very, very specific angel dust funhouse mirror continuum in the same way that a film like Eraserhead or Forbidden Zone stands out when compared to other mere movies.

In the mid-70s there was an Alfred Jarry-influenced absurdest arts group/event in Tuscaloosa called the Raudelunas Pataphysical Revue and this is where Reed’s “Reverend Fred Lane” alter ego was born, as the joking MC for Ron ‘Pate’s Debonairs. No pants. A tuxedo jacket. Coke-bottle glasses, a leering grin and a waxed mustache made the sleazy Reverend’s mad look which was then topped off with Band-Aids. Although it is an act, it’s not one that’s completely obvious at first and Lane might seem to some listeners to be genuinely demented.

From the One That Cut You was literally inspired by an illiterate threatening love note/confession from someone named “Fuear” that was wrapped around a knife that was found in a secret compartment in a 1952 Dodge truck. Reed wrote both a song and also a stage show based on the note for his Fred Lane character.

The note read:

“I hope the paine is gone. This is the one that cut you? P.S. Don’t wear about Jimmy I will take kear of him the same way I took kear of YOU.”

Dig his song titles: “Upper Lip Of A Nostril Man.” “Car Radio Jerome.” “The French Toast Man.” “Danger Is My Beer.” Who could forget “I Talk To My Haircut”? I can’t imagine what this music sounded like to unsuspecting listeners in the 70s and 80s. And how in the world did people find out about it? (Apparently John Peel played Fred Lane on his BBC radio show. I heard of him because Kramer gave me his CD.)

Only two Fred Lane albums ever came out, A guy named Skizz Cyzyk has been working on a documentary about Fred Lane and the Raudelunas collective for over a decade now. He says of the Alabamy art/freak-out scene, “Had it been in NY or SF there would be textbooks written about it by now.”

Interesting point. The Fred Lane CDs are long out of print and sell for upwards of $75 for used copies on Amazon. Fred Lane seems like an obvious candidate for a deluxe collector’s edition CD reissue of some sort. In the meantime, there’s a download link on the Remote Outposts blog

“The French Toast Man”:

“From the One That Cut You”:

More from the Reverend Fred Lane after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Surrealists’ tarot deck
08:22 am


Andre Breton

In 1940 and 1941 André Breton, widely considered the founder of Surrealism, and a group of like-minded individuals (René Char, Oscar Dominguez, Victor Brauner, Max Ernst, Jacques Hérold, Wilfredo Lam, André Masson, Benjamin Péret) decided to design their own deck of tarot cards. The deck they finally came up with was executed in a remarkably pleasing, almost ligne claire style. In accordance with the mindfuckery inherent to Surrealism, the group rejected the courtly/medieval theme of the traditional deck and nominated their own heroes to represent the face cards, including Hegel, Freud, the Marquis de Sade, Baudelaire, and so on.

(A quick clarification: It seems evident that this is a deck of playing cards or possibly a hybrid of tarot and playing cards. Sources seem unequivocal in describing the deck as a tarot deck, and so that’s what we’re going with too.)

The Surrealist deck of cards suggests a kind of post-Enlightenment, left-wing, revolutionary, intellect-based cosmology. So the royal hierarchy of King, Queen, and Jack was replaced with “Genius,” “Siren,” and “Magus,” this last word accentuating the occult roots of the project. Rejecting the traditional clubs, hearts, spades, and diamonds as well as the traditional tarot suits (wands, cups, swords, and discs), the group invented its own symbolism, with flames and wheels constituting the red suits and locks and stars being the black ones. Flames represented love and desire; wheels represented revolution; stars represented dreams; and locks represented knowledge.

Brilliantly, for the joker, the group selected Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi (bottom).

Genius of flames: Baudelaire
Siren of flames: Marianna Alcofardo (author of Letters of a Portuguese Nun)
Magus of flames: Novalis

Genius of locks: Hegel
Siren of locks: Hélène Smith (nineteenth-century psychic)
Magus of locks: Paracelsus (Renaissance physician and occultist)

Genius of wheels: De Sade
Siren of wheels: Lamiel (from Stendhal)
Magus of wheels: Pancho Villa

Genius of stars: Lautréamont
Siren of stars: Alice (from Lewis Carroll)
Magus of stars: Freud













via Tombolare

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Rooms full of human bones: Czech master animator Jan Švankmajer’s stunning Ossuary

Described by Milos Forman as “Disney + Bunuel,” stop-motion animator Jan Švankmajer is one of the few artists to truly translate the spirit of early-20th century surrealism for the present. Folks like Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam cite Švankmajer’s late-‘80s and early-‘90s feature films like Alice and Faust as classics in the art form.

But most of all, Burton and Gilliam point to Švankmajer’s early short films from the ‘60s through the early ‘80s. One of these, the 10-minute Kostnice from 1970—known as Ossuary—isn’t stop-motion at all. Instead, it’s a beautifully stylized study of the decoratively laid-out bones of 70,000 people in the Cemetery Church in suburban Sedlec in the Czech Republic.

Shot during the dire couple of years after the Prague Spring liberation of 1968 collapsed under an invasion by Warsaw Pact troops, Svankmajer made Ossuary a grim reminder of human fallibility.

As Jan Uhde wrote in his piece on the film for KinoEye:

Film-makers, particularly those of the “Czech New Wave,” were among the most severely persecuted. The fact that a non-conformist like Švankmajer was allowed to shoot in this atmosphere at all was in part due to the fact that he was working in the relatively obscure and inexpensive domain of short film production; this may have saved him from the crackdown that struck his more exposed colleagues in the feature film studios during the 1970s.

Moreover, Švankmajer’s remarkable tenacity and creative thinking enabled him to sometimes outwit the regime’s ideological watchdogs[…] The film was commissioned as a “cultural documentary,” a form popular with the authorities and considered relatively safe politically. But the subject Švankmajer chose must have been a surprise for the apparatchiks: on the one hand, the Sedlec Ossuary was a first-rate historical site which, at first glance, suited the official didactic demand. On the other hand, there was the uncomfortable subject of decay and death as well as religion, reflecting a subtle yet defiant opposition to the loud secular optimism of the communist officialdom.


Get: Jan Švankmajer - The Ossuary and Other Tales [DVD]


Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Happy Birthday, Hitchcock: The Dali Dream of Spellbound

Dangerous Minds couldn’t think of a better 111th birthday salute to the Hitch than to review his far-too-short dream-sequence collaboration in Spellbound with the clown-prince of surrealism, Salvador Dali.

Rachel Campbell-Johnson wrote in detail about the team-up for the Times Online, and Joel Gunz at Alfred Hitchcock Geek went into Hitch’s affinity with surrealism.


Get: Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound [DVD]


Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Even—As You and I: Rare and Excellent Depression-Era American Film Spoofing the Surrealists!

By 1937, surrealism was in its second decade as a movement. Its artists and filmmakers were making inroads into London and New York galleries, and becoming media stars. The surrealist bug also bit on the West Coast, and underground gatherings like the Hollywood Film and Foto League screened European avant-garde films regularly.

Such gatherings attracted politically minded actor Harry Hay and Works Progress Administration (WPA) photographers Roger Barlow and LeRoy Robbins. After seeing a magazine ad for a short film contest, these jokers sprung into action, making Even—As You and I, a short depicting themselves as broke filmmakers who cobble together clichés from their fave avant-garde films into a dorky film-within-a-film spoof called The Afternoon of a Rubber Band. In a “D’oh!”-style ending, the three realize they’ve missed the contest’s midnight deadline.

A damn clever little underground film moment. Hay—the curly-haired guy in the group—would go on to become the godfather of gay activism, founding the Mattachine Society in the early’50s and the Radical Faeries in the early ‘70s.

Check out part 2 after the jump!

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment