Fittingly, The Whisky, the Roxy and The Viper Room dimmed their lights last night for 10 minutes in Ray Manzarek's honor. A touching tribute on the Sunset Strip. Photo courtesy of Carlo Asciutti & Daisy.
This week's edition of the Stupefied playlist is from one my all time favorite frontmen, Gary Asquith, best known as a member of London's provocative and dubby Renegade Soundwave. Gary has long been involved with a bunch of interesting (no matter what, they're always interesting) projects beginning with early post punk efforts MASS, and Rema-Rema, moving on to Renegade Soundwave, and most recently with the Lavender Pill Mob, and some other more underground things.
Here's what Gary had to say: This was harder than making a record in my opinion. I want you to know that Nat King Cole is my favourite singer of all time - I grew up listening to my father playing his albums and he's god in my house. That's it. It could all change at the flick of a finger.
I worked on Mikkim's Offbeat Rhapsody album last year which won the Andel prize for Best Reggae and Ska album (an Andel award is like a Czech grammy - it means "angel" in Czech). I did three songs for the album: a reworking of "Probably A Robbery," "Air Hostess" (an old RSW track that vanished around the recording of Soundclash), and "Heaven Be Upon Us." I shall also be promoting the album by playing live with Mikkim at Glastonbury this year.
I've been recording with Japanese musician Takatsuma Mukai for his new album - a track called "The Store" - called Sunya (which is sanskrit for zero or void), and I've recorded a dubby-styled 45 under the name Renegade Connection called "I Surrender" for my Le Coq Musique label. I'm also I'm also currently working on the remixes of Rema Rema's original recordings.
Lavender Pill Mob
Visit Gary and keep in touch with his various projects via the following Facebook links:
Here's a very cool bit of ephemera as seen last week in the collection of the Archive of Contemporary Music - a cardboard box used to ship copies of the MC5's second single, 1968's "Borderline" b/w "Looking At You" on the A-Sqaure label run by Jeep Holland. Its addressed to MC5 manager John Sinclair.
The first of the two bi-annual sales at the Archive is coming up soon beginning June 8 and running through June 16. Click the website link above or visit them on Facebook here.
What a fantastic surprise! Collecting my mail after getting home from a couple of days out of the city, I received a mysterious padded mailer from the UK. Upon closer inspection, turns out it's from Mr. Dave Ruffy, the one & only drummer for Ruts DC, and it turns out it's a copy of their brand new album, Rhythm Collision Vol. 2. Life is good! Anyone who has read Stupefaction for a while now knows what a huge fan of the Ruts and Ruts DC I am.
About a year ago, I featured a new song, "Mighty Soldier," which leads off the new album and you can listen to again below. Considering that Vol. 1, released 30 years ago, remains firmly high on my desert island disc list, surviving members Segs & Ruffy (the rhythm section, wouldn't you know?), and a fantastic crew of support players, have done masterful work that just may rival the original. The overall scope and cohesion of this album as a single piece of work cannot be underestimated - this exactly how I feel about Vol. 1, and it suits this one to a "T".From the beginning, each track weaves into the next to take you on a bass heavy journey of rhythm that is incredibly rewarding. The album is twelve tracks in all - 9 on the album proper, and 3 listed as bonus cuts. It was recorded with Mad Professor, who also engineered Vol. 1 thirty years ago, and mixed by Prince Fatty. It's pedigree is undeniable.
About the album, the band says, "We have decided to release this album on our own Sosumi Recordings, embracing the DIY ethic that propelled The Ruts into the 7" vinyl market in 1978, and allowed us to release Volume 1 in '82."
p.s. From the "even more excitement department," according to the liner notes, there is a book about the band in the works by Roland Link. It will be called Love In Vain: The Story of The Ruts & Ruts DC.
Ruffy & Segs
All I can say is thank you, Ruffy & Segs. You've made this Ruts fan extremely happy. I honestly never thought I'd be listening to new Ruts music again in this lifetime.
Ruts DC have already played a few album kick off shows in the UK this month. Later this summer they'll be playing the following shows, and it wouldn't surprise me if more are added along the way:
August 10 - Blackpool - Rebellion Festival
August 25 - Penzance, Cornwall - 3 Chord Festival
September 6 - Preston - 53 Degrees
September 7 - Newcastle - North East Calling
September 13 - Reading - Sub 89
More in September - German & Scottish dates TBC
Buy the album directly from the band, or at your favorite retailer,
Launching a new book, As Seen in BLITZ: Fashioning '80s Style, by Iain R. Webb's, there will be a series of special events over the weekend at the ICA in London: A pop-up show in the ICA Theatre curated by former fashion editor Iain R Webb, a series of talks with special guests, and film screenings.
Contributors include Leigh Bowery, Amanda Cazalet, Boy George, Princess Julia, Nick Knight, David LaChapelle, Paul Morley and Anna Piaggi. Featured designers include Bodymap, Judy Blame, Dean Bright, Comme Des Garçons, Jasper Conran, John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier, Katharine Hamnett, Hermès, Pam Hogg, Marc Jacobs, Stephen Jones, Calvin Klein, Andrew Logan, Issey Miyake, Franco Moschino, Rifat Ozbek, Antony Price and Vivienne Westwood.
After - "The Beat Escape" by Fingerprintz, Virgin Records, 1981:
Long one of my favorite record covers, I've never seen the original until today. Leave it to Pete at TiH to dig it up. I've always loved the song as well. It takes me right back to 1981, and listening to the WNYU New Afternoon show in my bedroom. Classic! Here's the song:
Recently a friend of mine posted a video on Facebook of German movie & cabaret star, Marlene Dietrich, singing Pete Seeger's "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?" Now, there's something funny about this very beautiful, if a little cold & stiff (not unlike Nico), Germanic woman singing folk & pop songs. And the accent always topped it off. I've always found it funny. But Dietrich was quite a recording & concert (especially cabaret) star in her time...
After the laughter subsided, I told him my father - who, before settling down as a writer was a real life Broadway stage manager - had stage managed Dietrich in the first of two Broadway stints in 1967. She'd repeat the show again in 1968 before bringing it to television in the 70's. Anyway, it got me thinking, and I asked my dad to share his memories about the show and working with Ms. Dietrich. I hope you enjoy this:
AN EVENING WITH MARLENE DIETRICH By Daniel Broun for Stupefaction
To be a star on Broadway – to see your name above the title of the show – means that your name will sell more tickets than the name of the show. In the 1967-8 season some of the biggest stars on Broadway included Judy Garland, Ingrid Bergman, Melvyn Douglas and Burl Ives. Then, on October 9th, perhaps the biggest name to appear on the New York stage that season opened for a limited run of six weeks. She was Marlene Dietrich, film star and international celebrity then sixty-six years old who, if you were close enough to shake hands with her, looked forty-five. I can vouch for her appearance because I was the stage manager for An Evening With Marlene Dietrich, and I’m sure I shook hands with her when we started rehearsals, just as I’m certain that I did not shake hands with her at the end of the run. By then we weren’t speaking to each other.
Dietrich was an international celebrity whose friends included Ernest Hemingway, Noel Coward, Orson Welles, Gary Cooper, and John F. Kennedy. Her 1967 show on Broadway was to consist of an hour-and-a-half concert of 21 songs, most of which she’d sung in films. Her performance was arranged and conducted by composer Burt Bacharach who called Dietrich his “girl singer“ and led a 30-piece onstage band.
Bacharach proved to be a charming, talented man who often got to the theatre early – before I or anyone else did, in fact– – and composed new tunes. New songs by Burt Bacharach were and still are surprising and delightful.
My job as stage manager was to oversee everything that took place during the show – to supervise light and sound cues, to maintain order and quiet backstage, to solve any emergency that arose during a performance, and above all, to keep Marlene happy. I was equipped with a headset that kept me in touch with stagehands all over the theater, and most of the time I succeeded at calling the cues and tending to Marlene’s wishes, one of which, quite properly, was to prevent pictures being taken by members of the audience, especially by anyone using flashbulbs which crazes actors and anyone who has paid big money for tickets. Notice of this prohibition is both announced over the public address system before the curtain goes up and is printed in the Playbill. Nowadays, notice to silence cell phones is also given. But such notices are sometimes ignored.
One night, someone in Dietrich’s audience decided to disregard the ruling and began to click and flash away which, quite rightly, infuriated her. When she came offstage for a moment during her curtain calls she stopped at my desk and screamed at me to go out into the audience and stop the person taking pictures.
As it happened, as stage manager of Dietrich’s show I didn’t need and didn’t have an assistant whom I could either send out front to handle the problem or hand my headset to properly call cues for the rest of the show. So I handed the headset to her so that she could call the cues herself. My job was not as important as hers; still, it was necessary and, if ignored, would certainly have been noticed.
This incident occurred a few weeks before the end of Dietrich’s limited Broadway run, and during this period she and I never spoke to each other. We never spoke to each other again. We communicated with each other, by way of her dresser, but that was all, until closing night when she gave me a pair of gold cufflinks inlaid with precious stones. I still have them but have never used them.
The following theatrical season, Dietrich performed on Broadway again, and asked the producer to hire me again as stage manager. I was busy, however, and said no.
This week's edition of the Stupefied playlist comes from longtime friend, Medium Medium's drummer, Steve Harvey. Best known for the neo-funk post punk of "So Hungry, So Angry," Steve and the guys have been fairly active over the years, and have never stopped making music of some sort - whether with Medium Medium, or in other projects.
Following several reunion shows over the last few years, here's what Steve had to say about current events: As for promotion, we recently compiled some tracks for a cassette-only release due soon on My Dance The Skull in London. It’s a compilation of demo and radio session recordings from the very beginning of the band to early 1981, featuring the original lineup of the band (not me – I joined in summer 1981). Most of it is previously unreleased, and would only have been heard if you saw the band live at that time. One track was so obscure that no one could even remember the title! It also includes the original punk version of “Guru Maharaji.”
We currently also have the two vinyl split-LP releases on Der Schöne-Hjuler-Memorial-Fund of live tracks from 2008 and 2009 recorded at Echoplex in Los Angeles. I think copies can still be found online, and we have some – contact us directly. They feature original artwork, numbered and signed; every one is unique. (See part one here, and part two here.)
We hear that a couple of other small labels might be interested in live and obscure tracks from our back catalog. We’re also working on some new studio tracks. We work very slowly, but they might see the light of day this year, if we can find an outlet for them. They include previously unreleased material plus two covers: The Temptations’ “Ball of Confusion” and King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man.”
And let us not forget Steve's kitschy jazztopian-elevator-ukelele-punk-with-a-mellotron cover band, Sartre's Lobster. In his spare time, he writes for Pro Sound News, amongst other outlets.
BIG thanks to Steve for the great list...be sure to check out his notes about each track below!
Medium Medium, 1981 and 2008: John Rees Lewis, Graham Spink, Alan Turton, Andy Ryder, Steve Harvey. Graham is not in the second shot.
1. The Teardrop Explodes – Reward
Joyous. I must have played this twice a day for months. I worked for a production sound company, SSE Hire, between MM tours and had the great pleasure of seeing the Teardrops multiple times while babysitting the PA rig when they did a weeklong residency at Liverpool’s Pyramid Club, Christmas 1981. Bless my cotton socks…
2. Comsat Angels – Independence Day
In 1977 or ’78 I saw a band called Radio Earth at a pub in Nottingham and booked them for a Sunday night gig at my college. I think we paid them £35. Mik Glaisher’s drumming was an inspiration. The following year they changed their name to Comsat Angels and in 1981 released this, which rarely left my turntable for the following year.
3. David Bowie – Stay
Hard to pick just one track from such a constantly evolving artist, but “Station to Station” is a favorite album. What great players he had during this period: Dennis Davis, George Murray, Carlos Alomar, Adrian Belew, Robert Fripp, Earl Slick (MVP on this track).
4. Siouxsie and the Banshees – Spellbound
The Banshees’ concert in Nottingham in 1981 still stands out in my memory. The light show was one of the most inventive I can remember seeing, and guitarist John McGeoch was a revelation. Budgie was definitely an influence on my playing at the time, pre-MM.
5. Talking Heads – The Great Curve
“Remain in Light” is one of my top 5 all-time favorite albums. In 1982 we learned that we had a good shot at opening for Talking Heads at a big venue in Holland, along with the Tom Tom Club and U2. The Alarm’s record label apparently promised “tour support” and got them the opening slot instead. I only recently discovered that The Alarm never showed up for the gig.
6. Ministry – Work For Love
“With Sympathy” is up there with the great synth-pop albums of the era. Ministry opened for us on our March 1982 U.S. tour, before they were signed. The van bringing our backline equipment from New York was totaled on the way to meet us at O’Hare Airport so we ended up using Ministry’s gear. The Gun Club opened for both bands in Minneapolis.
7. Brian Eno – St. Elmo’s Fire
From “Another Green World” – Best. Album. Ever. I first heard Roxy Music on John Peel’s radio show, and got to see them in 1972 and ’73 while Eno was still with the band. His first four solo albums, especially, are classics.
8. Roxy Music – The Bogus Man
Roxy Music was a life-changing experience for many people of my age, especially musicians, I think. They might as well have arrived from a different dimension. Plus, they completely bypassed that period in every other band’s existence where you had to run around in a Transit van playing every toilet in England, making them the envy of us all. They were probably the first rock artists to put as much emphasis on fashion (through Anthony Price) as music (as did Bowie, too; Grace Jones and Madonna would follow suit – pun intended – later).
9. Aswad – Warrior Charge
Syn drum! British reggae has a sound all its own, and Aswad was one of its pioneers. They were especially notable for creating dub effects live through their playing, not just effects. MM played numerous gigs with reggae artists (this was the era of Rock Against Racism) before I joined the band, including Aswad, Prince Far I and Creation Rebel.
10. Gregory Isaacs – Night Nurse
Kids today don’t know this, but back in the day certain record labels had reputations for quality and innovation. With some labels you could almost guarantee that any release would be great. Look at Island Records: the Cool Ruler himself, of course, plus Grace Jones, Aswad, Roxy Music, Eno, King Crimson, 801, Bob Marley, Black Uhuru, Fairport Convention, Ultravox, B-52s, Free, Mott the Hoople, U2, King Sunny Ade, Third World, Kid Creole, Tom Tom Club, Steel Pulse, Sly & Robbie, Shriekback. In other words, the sound of my youth.
11. Can – Vitamin C
We only recently learned that there are 3 artists that all 4 members of the current MM lineup appreciate: Can, Capt. Beefheart and King Crimson. Can’s Jaki Leibezeit and Kraftwerk/Neu drummer Klaus Dinger were among my early idols when I first started learning to play in 1973.
12. C Cat Trance – Dreams of Leaving
Rees (singer, sax) left MM at the end of 1981 to form C Cat Trance, with original MM drummer Nigel Stone. They pioneered the amalgamation of world music with indie rock, borrowing melody lines and rhythms from North Africa and the Middle East, especially Turkey. I played on one album, co-produced a single and toured with them as driver, tour manager and percussionist. I love the internal rhymes on his lyrics on this track.
13. Gang of Four – To Hell With Poverty
Jon King and Andy Gill came to see us play at a club called 1st City in Manhattan in June 1983 (I think that was the one Joey Ramone also attended). Not long after they called to ask if I would audition for Go4. They’d just completed “Hard,” using programmed drums. We were on the verge of disbanding anyway. According to my diary I auditioned at 2pm on Monday, July 25th, at Atlanta Rehearsal Studios on Chalk Farm Rd. in London. Steve Goulding (The Rumour) got the gig. Andy called to tell me I was their second choice. He probably told Dave Palmer (ABC) the same thing; still, that was nice of him.
14. Skyy – Call Me
When we toured the U.S. in the early ‘80s we listened almost exclusively to R&B radio (as it was then called) in the van, especially KISS FM and WBLS in New York. This track is just one great example: it could as easily have been Shannon (“Let The Music Play”) or Luther Vandross (“Never Too Much”) or SOS Band (“Just Be Good To Me”) or The Time (“777-9311”) or…
15. Miles Davis – E.S.P.
Oh, so many choices. I have more albums by Miles than any other artist. I grew up listening to jazz; my parents listened to a lot of Dave Brubeck and took me to the first concert I can remember, Errol Garner, when I was still very young. Over the years I’ve seen Dizzy, Blakey, Mingus, Brubeck, Sonny Rollins, and on and on…but never Miles.
16. Billy Cobham – Stratus
Already a fan of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, I discovered Cobham’s first solo album as an import at a local record store in Leicester, where I grew up, in 1973. I knew I was never going to play like him, but he’s always been inspiring. Whatever he played it was always funky. Guitarist Tommy Bolin is fantastic on this album.
17. King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues In Aspic (Part 2) (see video below Spotify playlist)
As prog as prog can be. More metal than the most metallic metal. And one of my favorite rhythm sections, growing up: John Wetton and Bill Bruford.
18. Massive Attack – Angel
Massive Attack, like King Crimson, are masters of dynamics. They’re sublime on record, and live they are a wonder to behold. I love almost everything they’ve done, and everything they stand for.
19. Underworld – Rez
I’ve been a fan since 1994’s “Dubnobasswithmyheadman.” Their “RiverRun Project” is currently in heavy rotation when I take Tilda the dog for her walks.
20. LCD Soundsystem – Dance Yrself Clean
We reformed in 2004 for a couple of shows, and have played a handful more since. In 2007 we contacted LCD to see if we could open for them. James Murphy’s manager very generously replied that he had a policy of not playing with his heroes and influences (Tim Sweeney had already warned us this might be his answer). In ’08 and ’09 we got to play with some of our contemporaries, including A Certain Ratio, Section 25, The Raincoats and Pylon, which was fun. We’re always open to offers…
Here's a very decent 1992 doc about the mysterious Robert Johnson. No original Johnson recordings are used, but narrator John Hammond does a good job in his renditions. "Honeyboy" Edwards and Johnny Shines also appear, as well as Eric Clapton and Keith Richards. Thanks to T. Tex Edwards for this one.