Monday, November 21, 2011

1978-Alright Cowboys! The Sex Pistols in San Antonio

                                                      Sex Pistols Live in San Antonio

On January 8th 1978 the Sex Pistols played Randy's Rodeo in San Antonio, Texas to a sold out crowd of roughly two thousand.  This was the third date of their American tour, two days later they played Dallas, which was the extent of their appearances in Texas.  The Dallas show is great and you can find footage of that show in its entirety online.  But the show at Randy's placed the band in a much more hostile environment- the audience was a truly strange assortment of early Texas versions of punks (basing their look on major media reports on the music, many still with beards!), along with rednecks, freaks, cowboys, and Mexicans.  The audience bootleg I've uploaded is of rough quality but it definitely gives you a feel for the electric atmosphere of the show.

San Antonio was the gig where Sid took his bass off and hit somebody in the head with it, which you can see at the end of the clip below. McClaren's decision to have the band avoid their major markets on both coasts and instead play Texas and the South was a stroke of genius, at least from the stand point of maximizing confrontation, thereby giving the band something challenging to play off of - a real culture clash.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

1969-1971 All The Tired Horses
As the 1960's drew to a close with Dick Nixon in the White House, no end in sight in Vietnam, multiple political leaders assassinated in rapid succession, and infighting amongst radical groups (much of which was instigated by the FBI's COINTELPRO) leading to further fragmentation of what was from the start a shaky alliance of various stripes of students, militants, hippies and minorities, the mood of the culture began to shift, there was a feeling of weariness in the air, a realization that the societal and political changes that had seemed so imminent as to be inevitable during the period of 1966-68 had in many ways amounted to little more than, as Lennon put it, "just more kids walking around with long hair". 

These feelings of fatigue and defeat -of the wind going out of the sails of the counter culture - were reflected in much of the music of the time, which had begun to celebrate a return to a rural lifestyle and adopt a more personal and apolitical stance. The records of the leading lights took on a decidedly mellow and pastoral/bucolic feel.  This trend would eventually devolve into the banality of the Eagles, Bread and James Taylor, the kind of bloodless navel gazing singer songwriter records that made punk so necessary, but despite this eventual descent into formulaic blandness there was a great deal of compelling music made in the period of 1969-1971.  All the Tired Horses is my take on this period. 

1. All The Tired Horses- Bob Dylan
2. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere- Neil Young & Crazy Horse
3. Heart of the Country- Paul McCartney
4. The Seeker- The Who
5. Pass Me By- The Hello People
6. Feel Flows- The Beach Boys
7. The Moonbeam Song- Harry Nilsson
8. Dead Flowers- The Rolling Stones
9. Gettin' By, High and Strange- Kris Kristofferson
10. Alberta #1- Bob Dylan
11. Baby- Os Mutantes
12. Oklahoma U.S.A.- The Kinks
13. Hold On- John Lennon
14. Look at Me, Mama- John Buck Wilkin
15. Lookin' At Tomorrow- The Beach Boys
16. The Losing End- Neil Young
17. These Dreams of You- Van Morrison
18. Man We Was Lonely- Paul McCartney
19. Fearless- Pink Floyd
20. Helpless- Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
21. Singalong Junk- Paul McCartney
22. Chestnut Mare- The Byrds
23. Last Of The Unnatural Acts- John Phillips
24. Moonlight Mile- The Rolling Stones

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Royal Jelly-Dewey Cox & Dirk McQuickly

Imaginary readers, for your consideration here are four of my favorite scenes from the movies "Walk Hard" and "All You Need is Cash"- Dewey Cox in his Dylan phase and Eric Idle as the McCartney-esque Dirk McQuickly - followed by Dewey's infamous meeting with the Beatles and John Belushi as Ron Decline (Allen Klein).

Monday, November 7, 2011

Marianne Faithfull-Absolutely Fabulous

I've been enjoying Marianne Faithfull's autobiography, Faithfull,  the last month or so.  It's not a long book but I've been reading it slowly along with other books and comics, as is my wont.  This book must definitely set the record for the most appearances of the phrase 'in flagrante' in one place!  For kicks and to amuse yourself try reading it out loud in an exaggerated English accent.  It also makes a nice companion read to League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume III Century # 2 1969.

One of the stories she tells that I hadn't heard was that she was dating a heroin dealer in Paris in the early 70's (don't have the book nearby and can't recall his name, something French) who was called over by Pamela Courson the night Jim Morrison died, Marianne begged to go along to meet Jim, but was left behind, the guy returned later very freaked out and they fled to Morocco (natch).  Another great story she tells is Dylan seeking her out in the late 70's after Broken English was released, and how she ended up playing the record for him over and over again while quizzing him "do you understand what this song means?" as he had done with her and his record in their last meeting in the mid-60's. She says he really enjoyed it.  She also explains the circumstances behind her voice seizing up during her early 1980 appearance on Saturday Night Live.

Here are some clips of the absolutely fabulous Marianne in action through the years!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tony Hendra-Genius is Pain!

Former editor of National Lampoon, Tony Hendra, who most Americans will remember best as Ian Faith, the manager of Spinal Tap recorded this parody of John Lennon titled "Magical Misery Tour" on the National Lampoon album Radio Dinner released in 1972.  The song might require more than a cursory familiarity with Lennon to appreciate its humor, but trust me its brilliant satire.  Part of the genius here is that the lyrics are taken in large part (with allowances for repetition, paraphrase and occasional rhyme schemes- I don't think he said "pardon me sir" or "the sky is blue"), albeit out of context from a bitter soul baring interview that John did with Rolling Stone in 1970-71, not long after his experience with primal scream therapy and the break up of the Beatles and accompanying legal hassles, which goes some way in explaining the "mood" he was in.  

For maximum effect Tony Hendra and collaborator Michael O'Donoghue cherry picked the most outrageous and off the wall bits and Hendra then delivered them in a voice approximating the most anguished vocal moments from the first Plastic Ono Band album - primal screaming and all making it sound that much more obnoxious and funny, though if you listen to, or even read the actual interview in context it's surprisingly calm and reasonable and certainly makes more sense and is less obnoxious than what you will hear in the clip below. 

I'm an unabashed fan of Lennon but I've found it only increases one's love and appreciation to be able to laugh at the more ridiculous aspect of the things and people we love, their foibles if you will.  One of my favorite things about John was that he did seem to be more genuinely honest and open than most "performers" and for that reason had these public moments that run the gamut from total insecurity to ridiculous egomaniacal behavior, from thoughtfulness and insight to obnoxiousness personified, he as they say put it all out there, you know, human frailties. All that being said I suspect Lennon would have found this amusing if he ever heard it, he seemed to have a good sense of humor about himself and his failings and did reportedly love the Rutles, which was a more affectionate satire but still had its biting moments (I'm thinking of the portrayal of Yoko in particular).  Enjoy!

I've been rereading the Lennon Rolling Stone interview, eventually published in hardback, since posting this and want to point out for the record that John had many nice things to say about the Stones and to a certain extent Jagger in the course of the interview.  And Jagger and Lennon rekindled a friendship of sorts later in the 70's during John's estrangement from Yoko.  Clearly their relationship always had a fair amount of tension due to competitiveness, as this clip from the Stones Rock n' Roll Circus nicely illustrates.

Lennon is somewhat surprisingly less charitable overall to Dylan in the Rolling Stone interview, which might be due to his own self consciousness about being at one time so heavily influenced by Bob.  Speaking of tension and one-upmanship this is probably as a good an opportunity as any to post the infamous outtake sequences from Eat the Document of a very fucked up Dylan and fairly sober and uncomfortable Lennon exchanging jokes, barbs and awkward silences in the back of Limousine in England circa 1966.