It seems this slice of great pop has passed me by this summer.
Sneaky Sound System are from and big in Australia and if we were still living in an era where something like a global summer hit would still have a chance to exist, "Kansas City" would have topped the charts everywhere.
Sneaky Sound System "Kansas City" Filmed in SuperMarionation:
Clips of bachelor-pad-music-god Esquivel are very rare on Youtube. Of course, Esquivel has to be heard in stereo but this can´t be the reason for his absence.
So, a group of people headed out to Coney Island and quickly shot a clip for Esquivel´s arrangement of "The Third Man Theme". A few vintage clothes and the washed out look of super-8 conjure up a pretty convincing 50s/60s atmosphere (including an Esquivel lookalike.)
I think it´s pretty clever how it transports the fairground-flair of the original music subject(Prater Park in Vienna) to Coney´s post glory days. Zu Zu Zuuu.
"Own a piece of aviation history", that´s the motto of California based custom furniture company Motoart, who make awesome and stylish furniture out of old airplanes.
I think the exhibits speak for themselves and it goes without saying that I want to have the cowlings, the chairs, the sofa, the wall divider and a few tables for my Ballard room. Oh, and the Pan-Am cuff links, please.
Seeing that the cuff links go for $ 220 - all other prices are on demand only - I guess that Ballard room will stay unfurnished for a while.
Click pics to enlarge or go to Motoart
A rare photo document (click to embig) of legendary jam sessions between Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby and keyboarder Sheriff Roland (owner of Texas Instruments and inventor of the polyphonic synthesizer whose blueprints were stolen by Japanese spies who didn´t even care to come up with an original name for their rip-off company)
They all get down at Jack´s Nightclub "Single Synths Theory" shortly before the session is raided by the police because neighbours complained about the noise. This is a recently unearthed recording of "Dancing on the Berlin Wall", which was later covered by Canadian synth-pop band Rational Youth
"We live in an amazing, amazing world and its wasted on the crappiest generation of spoilt idiots."
American comedian Louis CK reverses the tired, old "everything was better in the past"-rant (at about two minutes into this excerpt from "Late Night with Conan O. Brian".)
Todd Ford´s paintings are a cross between photorealism and commercial art, which is both very much appreciated here at StellaVista Towers.
If you open his website you will be greeted by a slideshow which blends some of his paintings into one another for a brief moment. Since I was always fascinated by double- and super exposure, I could not help to grab screenshots of this one special moment when his paintings overlapped.
Of course, Todd´s work is great by itself and I could understand if he is not happy with the way I turned his art into "faux-art". Anyway, there is something about these "mash-ups" which I really like and since they appear on his site - even only for a fracture of a second by means of a widget - it gives way to lots of theories about art, it´s depiction and the possibilities of the receptor of toying around with it.
Todd also writes a blog which shows more of his art - at times on the easel but 100% un-merged.
I came across this strange video of a Japanese artist/entertainer Maywa Denki who builds all these primitive, mechanical, noise making gadgets.
Well, the first part of this video is quite bizarre - even for a kiddie program. I immediately thought about what effect some of this would have had on me if I had watched it as a child. I would have been traumatized! There is something really eerie about those twitching "Geisha"-girls and let´s not even talk about the singing.
Thinking about this, I remembered some things that frightened me as a child. Things that nobody else would find memorable scared the shit out of me.
I remember listening to the radio while being home alone one evening. I was a single child and even up to the age of 10 I didn´t like being alone in the dark. It must have been around 1977 and the DJ enthusiastically announced a track from Kraftwerk´s new album. I heard "Autobahn" before, so I was looking forward to it. The track was "Schaufensterpuppen" (Showroom Dummies) and I remember to this day that I found it horribly disturbing.
The clanging beat, the spooky "choir" and the lifeless but threatening words worked up fear in my mind. The idea of creepy Showroom Dummies coming to life, breaking the glass and crawling the streets was really frightening me. Back then the irony of "going to the club and starting to dance" was totally lost on me. Instead I looked down the street through my window because I knew that only three houses down, there were real showroom dummies waiting...
I actually wanted to post the German version because its lyrics and sounds are much more intimidating than the English and French translations, but when I found this video-clip of "Showroom Dummies" I just had to post it. If you watch it to the end you will see Kraftwerk dancing! This will scare you too, no matter how old you are!
Thinking about this I remembered a website called Kindertrauma ("Your happy childhood ends here) which recollects and re-visits scenes and moments of cheesy horror flicks which scared you as a toddler.
Kindertrauma is of course dealing with the horrors American TV was inflicting on kids. It is full of retro-stuff you might not know if you haven´t watched US channels in the seventies or eighties.
Interestingly there are also contributions by younger readers who share their traumatizing Tv-moments. A Pepsi-Ad from 1995 was seen by some as nightmare inducing as a Busta Rhymes Video.
Ahh, that Busta Rhymes clip for "Gimme some mo`"! While I was 30 when this was on the air, I can totally understand the effect this could have on kids. The Bernhard Herrman -sample from Psycho alone makes the song creepy and there is something about the whole look of this thing that is very unsettling. This was directed by Hype Williams who did some of the most memorable videos during the last half of the nineties (and one of the best ever with "She´s a Bitch"). I wonder why he never moved into feature films.
"Here I am, vogueing pretty in some club deep in the city."
One year of international Vogue-covers superimposed into one image.
Watch while listening to Malcom Maclaren and Bootzilla Orchestra´s legendary Deep In Vogue, which rocked the world a long time before that Madonna woman stole the trend and claimed it as her idea.
I really think that 1988 was indeed a musical year that tore down many barriers. The explosion (and implosion) of Hip Hop and Acid House brought new and radical sounds and the public was more than ready to listen while dancing their asses off.
Mark Stewart and the Mafia, Public Enemy and Meat Beat Manifesto were working at the edges of music with their brutal methods of decomposing sound and rhythm.
Give Your Body It´s Freedom! is the most radical version of Meat Beat Manifesto´s third single "Strap Down".
Everything in this track is designed to jump in your face: the stupendous bassline, the insane whistles, adventurous drum-programming and a harsh mix make this an adrenaline rushing disco-destroyer that sounds like a work-out program for malfunctioning robots. After listening to this at maximum volume you feel exhausted.
I was eagerly awaiting MBFs first album which was then lost in a studio fire. The re-recorded album was actually a double-12" with four songs in four versions. While "Storm the Studio" was very good, it lacked the energy and boldness of tracks like this one.
As true forefathers of Prodigy and Chemical Brothers, the band released a new album in 2008.
Some interesting new print-ads that cought my eye on Pixelpasta:
Very clever ad for fruit-flavoured condoms from Germany. Tagline: Tastes like real fruit!
Creepy New Zealand ad for the "fastest Vespa ever":
Hey little Canadian gothic girl, watch out you might get a milk beard:
Just perfect! Special ad for the last week of the "Andy Warhol: Other Voices, Other Rooms" exhibition in Stockholm.
Click on ads for full size!
Fashion stylist Devon Walker photographed by Altamira
I love how he manages to mix the look of Grace Jones, Kid ´n Play and Kim Jong Il without any trace of irony - and getting away with it.
Five months after they dropped the bomb with "Blue Monday", New Order released their follow up single "Confusion". In between their second album "Power, Corruption and Lies" had hit the shops. While the sleeves for all three releases follow the same theme (Titles and Band-name are encoded in an obscure colour-code), none of the singles appear on the album.
For the production of "Confusion" the band went to New York to collaborate with Arthur Baker, the hottest producer of the moment.
I actually prefer "Confusion" to "Blue Monday", maybe because I heard the latter far too often. I can still listen to all four mixes of the original 12" back to back without getting bored. I love the clarity of the sound (especially the instrumentals).
The video shows the band performing on stage, posing for photos and later on their way to the legendary Funhouse Club (or is it Danceteria?). I always wonder if this is a subtle hint that the band had not that much to do during the session with Baker, who is seen working in the studio without the band and who was clearly attempting to get some of the fame as the producer for himself.
Intercut we see a young girl working in a Pizzeria and getting ready to go out to the same club.
This harks back to Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever, and also works as a future echo for Daft Punks amazing clip for "Revolution 909", which also adds a italo-american touch to it´s story.
While The band is getting frisked to get into the club, Arthur Baker (who looks like a twin-brother of Rick Rubin) hands a Reel-tape with the rough-mix of "Confusion" to resident DJ Jean "Jellybean" Benitez who puts it on immediately. Everybody´s dancing.
New Order: Confusion (1983)
Daft Punk: Revolution 909 (1997)
Only a month later another British band went to Baker for a production job. "I.O.U." by Freeez is actually a far more poppy and polished take on Baker´s sound and it became one of the biggest hits of 1983 and the electro era. While "Looking for the perfect beat" and "Planet Rock" were also massive, it was the crossover appeal of Freeez that made "I.O.U." a true classic.
The video also shows the strategy that was behind Freeez: Originally a five-piece band, they are now presented as a duo. Maybe the airfare for the video-shot was too tight or management decided to chose only the two most Wham-ish looking members?!
However, one can´t help noticing that the breakdancing in the video is handed over to the white kids. The much better and talented black dancers are actually pushed into the background. "I.O.U." ends with the band entering a club, 7" white-label single in hand. They throw the single to the DJ who puts it on immediately. Everydody´s dancing.
Freeez: I.O.U. (1983)
While the New Order video works as a time-capsule offering a mostly accurate look at an existing scene, the Freeez video is already coming across as a cynic exploitation of a marketable fad.
The white kids have taken on black music and culture once more and are now literally throwing it back at them.
Interesting to see that "I.O.U." was done only one or two months after "Confusion".
Today marks the 80th anniversary of Mickey Mouse appearing in it´s first talking film, the smart-aleck, boring, humourless and all around conservative icon for blandness (can you tell I am more of a Donald Duck-person?) appeared before, but this date is widely seen as it´s birthday.
As we all heard, Mickey was the brainchild of Disney´s colleague Ub Iwerks, who turned out not to be such a ruthless sales and marketing genius as uncle Walt, who claimed the idea to be his own. Well, maybe it was better this way, "Iwerksland" would have sounded a bit strange, after all.
Here is to the dark genius of Walt Disney and the forgotten talent of Ub Iwerks: The legendary Sparks performing "Mickey Mouse" during their only gig at Saturday Night Live. This memorable clip features an introduction by Danny DeVito, a speech AND a creepy breakdance performance by Ronald Mael mid-song.
Disclaimer: The last time I wrote about Disney´s attempt to destroy the rainforest (not the real one) the Disney crawlbots (or top management) paid me a visit within five minutes after hitting "publish post". So I want to make sure that my readers are aware of the fact, that the pictures in this post are not showing the real Mickey Mouse, which was -as we all know- conceived, painted, animated and voiced by the real Walt Disney.
I tried to do without any lame dick-references in the title, but who am I kidding?!
Anyway, this is a great and long documentary about the amazing Philip K. Dick which the BBC produced and aired in 1994 as a part of its "Arena"-program.
The ill-fated Dick was one of the most prolific and visionary sci-fi authors, whose vision and impact was only beginning to be felt shortly after his death, when "Blade Runner" made him a household name.
In a way PKD is the American counterpart to J.G. Ballard. Whereas JGBs characters tend to embrace global catastrophy and social decline as a chance to find a sort of inner freedom, Dicks protagonists wander through dystopian landscapes with a piercing objectivity that offers the reader a look at the present as if seeing it through a one-way mirror.
Both authors refrain from moralizing and at times they thrill us with the idea that they actually do enjoy the situations they dreamed up for their protagonists.
While Ballard was seen as burning more bridges behind and in front of him with the release of "Crash", Dick was more or less ignored as a pessimistic sci-fi author by the American public.
The docu features has many "guest appearances" by BBC regulars such as Terry Gilliam and Elvis Costello, but there are also some acidic remarks in interviews by colleagues, such as fellow sci-fi author Thomas M. Dish, who recently decided to end his life.
The whole thing consists of six parts which you can see here:
2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6
This is the opening scene of "Rope". I wonder how this passed the production code of the era? Could "Hitch" have been any more obvious? The dialogue gets even better after this clip ends. "I wish we could have it done without the curtains closed, in the bright sunlight."
Besides being incredibly kinky and sexually repressed (like any Hitchcock film), "Rope" is memorable for another thing.
No, not the "one shot"-look.
It´s got one of the most fascinating film sets in history. When the constant bitching of the characters passes you by, you can still marvel at the ever changing, artificial skyline of New York City with it´s strange clouds drifting by.
I always liked "Star Test" because of the "Dark Star"-sci-fi voice and the ridiculous concept. Here is the chance to watch a complete edition of the show with the great, undervalued and misunderstood Danielle Dax.
She might look a bit like Sandra here, but she is lovable, intelligent, witty, reads Tama Jamowitz, adores J.G. Ballard and hates Televangelists. What more do you want from a perfect pop-star?
Watch part two and three.
Dax recorded a string of incredibly strange records on her own "Awesome Records Label" in the mid eighties pre-dating trip-hop by ten years. I always think that she was wrongly labelled as "Goth", although she did come across as a one-woman Siouxsie Sioux at times, her music lives in its own universe of banghra-country-disco-folk with a heavy pop appeal.
After an attempt to break out of the underground she seemed to have retired from the music-biz with the release of a best-of album, aptly titled "Comatose Non-Reaction - The thwarted pop career of Danielle Dax".
She does have a sloppily maintained MySpace site, and her
Wikipedia claims that she recently suffered from ill health. So here is hope that this StellaVista Ultramodel will get better soon.
Meanwhile listen to the hauntingly minimalistic The Spoil Factor from the "Jesus Egg That Wept"-EP.
Taking a different route to our favourite bar yesterday we passed a sinister place called "Blue Boy" which seems to have a very special clientele. Instead of reminding me of "Remember Me", the late 90s big cross-over hit by Blue Boy, I immediately gave a rendition of this old German cover version of "Lonely Blue Boy".
Originally performed by Conway Twitty, the German version sung by American-GI-stationed-in-Germany- Gus Backus transforms this basic blues ballad into a cinematic piece of schmalz-deluxe with its night-club trombone and lush strings.
Gus Backus, became incredibly successful in Germany in the first half of the sixties with a string of novelty hits which he performed with a charming American accent.
During this decade the German audience welcomed singers from all over the world who sometimes were practically unknown back home but made a good living with a hefty dose of faux-folklore in Wirtschaftswunder-Germany.
This went so far that even some German singers acquired a slight fantasy-accent to appear a little bit more exotic.
His "Blue Boy" was only the flip-side of one of his biggest hits, which was one of my favourite singles from my parents collection. Together with the over-the-top arrangement and the ridiculously nihilistic lyrics "Blue Boy" is a forgotten "Schlager" masterpiece.
"I have no home
I have no friend
I live without the sun
´cause it won´t shine on me
Yeah, the whole town is calling me Blue Boy
My life is lonely
My life is empty
I live without love
and this is so hard
Yeah, the whole town is calling me Blue Boy
I walk the streets every evening
but luck wont find my way
A man who was forgotten by the stars
happiness will always pass me by."
After his success had died down he returned to the USA to work on the oilfields. The German audience believed he was dead, but he later returned to try to cash in on a Schlager revival, which did not really work out all that well for him. Today Gus is still performing on a very small level and he maintains a website.
Here is the original version "Lonely Blue Boy" by Conway Twitty:
Music! Music! Music! Wohoooo!
Judging by the comments and my own memory on "Muzik Xpress", everybody remembers when and where they had heard this dance classic for the first time. I danced to this awesome track at various clubs in Germany, London and NYC back in ´93 and the reaction of the crowd was the same everywhere: They went batshit crazy!
"Muzik Xpress" by X-Press 2 is one of the most effective and infectious dance records ever. The slightly bouncing rhythm and the two simple vocal samples are creating an immense positive energy that promises a massive release from the very beginning. And when this release/breakdown finally comes (shamelessly fired on by screaming crowd noise) it tears up the roof of every club and people are screaming their heads off.
It´s one of those timeless dance tracks that completely revolves around itself. It is functional, calculated and actually it is not even music, but it has a soul of its own!
Countless similar tracks were following the pattern of "Muzik Xpress" and the build-up/big breakdown soon became a tired cliché. Even X-Press 2 tried the formula again with the great "London Xpress" but it misses this mystical quality of its predecessor that made people all around the world smile and scream on the dancefloor.
Apparantly the prejudice that Swedes are all blond and good looking has to be re-evaluated. Judging by the mind boggling collection of
Swedish Dance Bands of the 70s they are just blond.
The costume designer for ABBA must have learned one or two things from acts like Tickies and Tonix.