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Happy 75th Birthday John D Loudermilk!

Posted by Whitmore, March 31, 2009 09:57pm | Post a Comment

Today is the 75th birthday of a legendary songwriter most people have never heard of, but as the story so often goes, you may not know the name but you know the song. The songs of John D. Loudermilk have been recorded by hundreds and hundreds artists over the last fifty plus years. From Rockabilly greats like Arnie Derksen, Marvin Rainwater, Jimmy Newman, and Billy Lee Riley to Country Music Hall of Famers like Webb Pierce, George Jones, Kitty Wells, Brenda Lee and Hank Williams Jr. to soul, jazz and funk artists like Nina Simone, Ramsey Lewis, Brother Jack McDuff, William Bell, Solomon Burke and even James Brown. In the rock world Loudermilk’s songs have been recorded by everyone from Jerry Lee Lewis to Jefferson Airplane to Jimi Hendrix and The Jayhawks.
 
John D. Loudermilk was born in Durham, North Carolina March 31, 1934. He wasn’t the only family member with some musical chops; his cousins are Ira and Charlie Loudermilk, better known to country music fans as the Louvin Brothers.  
 
In the mid 1950’s Loudermilk got his start recording some of his own material on the Colonial Record label based in North Carolina under the stage name Johnny Dee. After signing with Columbia Records, he began using his own name and had a Top 20 hit in the UK with "Language of Love" in 1962. Though he continually recorded many solo albums and singles into the 1980’s, his lasting mark on music history is that of a solid first class tunesmith. Loudermilk not only could write some serious songs for serious people but he had an unusually successful career on the novelty side of things.
 
Starting in late 1956, Loudermilk’s songwriting career took off with "A Rose and a Baby Ruth" -- a top 10 country hit in 1956 for "George Hamilton and the Country Gentlemen." (Later to be covered by, of all people, John Fahey!) Later that same year Eddie Cochran recorded Loudermilk’s "Sittin' in the Balcony," becoming Cochran’s first top 20 single, which has since become something of a rockabilly standard. In 1959 Loudermilk scored his first huge international hit with the song “Waterloo” as recorded by Stonewall Jackson, which hit the top of the US Country charts but also saw chart action around the world.
 
But no doubt, Loudermilk's signature song is “Tobacco Road.” He likes to say it’s partly autobiographical, but I suspect that’s just good old fashion bullshit. Tobacco Road is a section in East Durham near to where Loudermilk grew up. There, bails of tobacco are rolled down the way to the warehouse, hence the name. According to almost everything I’ve ever read about it, Tobacco Road did have something of a bad ass reputation, and was known as quite the unsavory neighborhood and a part of town where after dark even the police department avoided entering. This song was a huge hit during the first British invasion, sung by the Nashville Teens in the summer of 1964. What works so perfectly in their version is the harsh, desperate spin they put to the lyrics and melody. It still sounds raw today. “Tobacco Road” has since been covered dozens of times from a wide variety of artists like Richard 'Groove' Holmes, the Blues Magoos, Jimi Hendrix and even David Lee Roth recorded a Spanish version, “La Calle Del Tabaco,” in 1986. Actually, any garage band worth its beans has rocked this classic tale of woe … I believe it's required playing.
 
Another top 40 pop-rock classic, "Indian Reservation," was originally written by John Loudermilk in 1959 and recorded by Marvin Rainwater, as "Pale Faced Indian." Later on Loudermilk reshaped some of the lyrics and released it in the mid 1960s as "The Lament of The Cherokee Reservation Indian." In 1969 Don Fardon shortened the title to "Indian Reservation" and scored a mammoth worldwide hit everywhere except here in the states, which was very fortunate for The Raiders featuring Mark Lindsay. Two years later their version mimicked Fardon’s interpretation almost note for note and scored a huge hit in the US. According to lore, Loudermilk was once asked by Casey Kasem of American Top 40 Radio about the back story of “Indian Reservation.” Loudermilk concocted a tall tale about being rescued by Cherokee Indians after crashing his car in a blinding blizzard only to be held captive by his rescuers. He was finally released once he promised he would write a song telling of their plight. The story appeared several times on the show; Kasem is quoted as saying, "one of the most incredible stories we've ever told on AT40." I bet!
 
One of my favorite John D. Loudermilk songs is “Torture.” Originally a top 20 hit for Kris Jensen in 1962, there is a slightly obscure 1980 version released as a single by the French cult artist Hermine Demoriane. I love her version! She sounds a bit like Nico, but pulls out a bit more drama in the delivery. I know very little about Hermine except she was supposed to be married to the English poet Hugo Williams and performed in the film Jubilee (1977). And though I don’t believe much of anything I read on the internet -- actually very little, and that includes my own blog -- Hermione supposedly studied and practiced tightrope walking and wrote a book about it called Tightrope Walker.
 
In 1969 Loudermilk temporarily tripped out, got hip and underground, and released the soon to be classic, neo-psych album The Open Mind of John D Loudermilk. Finally in recent years it has been re-released on CD. I recommend it, though it is ever so slightly peculiar, but in just … I don’t know … that peculiar, peculiar way.
 
John D. Loudermilk was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1976.
 
Here is a small list of some of his other classic songs:
 
Angela Jones” -- Johnny Ferguson version peaked at #27 in Billboard's but the version to hear is by Milk and their bubble gum version from 1969
 
Break My Mind” -- covered by both Linda Rondstadt and Gram Parsons
 
Ebony Eyes” -- the Everly Brothers' perfect version was a huge tear-drop rock hit in 1961, reaching #8
 
Google Eye” -- kind of a ridiculous novelty song, though it was a big hit in France, sung in French by the neo Ye-Ye group Les Lionceaux
 
Norman” – Sue Thompson’s biggest hit peaked at #3
 
Sad Movies (Make Me Cry)” -- another big hit for Sue Thompson, this one reached #5 on the Billboard charts. This song was also a hit in France, this time for Sylvie Vartan in the French version: "Quand le film est triste." During her career, the Ye-Ye singer Vartan recorded several Loudermilk songs.
 
Talk Back Trembling Lips” -- A #1 hit by country singer Ernest Ashworth. This song has probably been covered a least a hundred times, and almost always by Country music artists.
 
Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” -- an absolutely great and beautiful song, probably the most recorded tune of John Loudermilk. There may be as many as 200 versions floating around; the most successful version was by The Casinos in 1967.
 
This Little Bird” -- was once recorded by Marianne Faithfull in the mid sixties. Her version reached # 5 in the UK, but only #32 in the US. Later it was recorded by Nancy Sinatra and by Jewel.
 
Thou Shalt Not Steal” -- from 1964, a classic track, became one of Dick & Dee Dee’s biggest sellers
 
Turn Me On” -- Nina Simone did a great early version of this song, so incredibly laid back. Just a few years back, Norah Jones re-did it in a similar manner
 
Anyway, Happy 75th Birthday John D. Loudermilk!




The Crying Light - Antony and the Johnsons

Posted by Miss Ess, March 31, 2009 08:02pm | Post a Comment
Antony of Antony and the Johnsons has created a more than worthy followup to his wonderful I Am A Bird Now. This new album is called The Crying Light, and it is as hauntingly gorgeous as anything else Antony has put out.

the crying light by antony and the johnsons

On The Crying Light there are some beautifully unexpected moments and, as always, a lot of vocal vibrato. Through it all, we glimpse Earth though the eyes of a keen observer of the natural world, who penetratingly sees both its agony antony and the johnsonsand ecstacy. Strings abound on the first track "Everglade," while the second song "Epilepsy is Dancing" is delicate and features guitar and wind instruments. "Aeon" is an awesomely gorgeous torch song and plea dedicated to the universe and its eternity. One of the record's centerpieces, "Another World" (also included on this past fall's ep Another World), longs for a place beyond our planet, a place that is not so limiting and broken. There's a quite a bit of sonic variation for someone who has been so critically defined merely by the timbre of his voice. No doubt, that voice is there in all its smoky, vibrating glory. It blankets every track in its special, warm glow. The release, the silences, the showiness of it all is just perfection. But the music that flows through this album is just as glorious as the otherwordly vocals.

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Frightmare

Posted by phil blankenship, March 31, 2009 07:56pm | Post a Comment
Frightmare Horror VHS  Frightmare horror movie

Frightmare plot synopsis

Vestron Video VA 3026

From the women's picture to the chick flick

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 31, 2009 05:52pm | Post a Comment
30 Helens

I wrongly assumed that it would be easy to fire off a blog briefly summarizing the history of women’s pictures. When I began, I quickly realized that it is a genre that’s simplistically treated as synonymous with both weepies/tearjerkers and their near opposite, the rom-com; it quickly proved to be more than I bargained for, which is why it’s showing up on this, the last day of Women’s History Month. The history of the genre occupies an interesting position, little discussed and yet obviously affecting and responding to the Hollywood narrative, the larger global film market, and broader history. Anyway, it proved to be a bit too much so, here's the fast & furious driveby account of a genre that deserves more.


First of all, tear-inducing films are by no means all women's pictures, which is why someone coined the annoying term “guy cry” for young male-targeted stories/films about dying dogs (e.g. My Dog Skip, Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, &c). For adult males, sentimental melodramas (usually tempered by the macho backdrop of war, the wild west or sports (e.g. Bang the Drum Slowly, Brian’s Song, Knute Rockne) allow men the opportunity to cry with less shame. But, whereas men generally try to resist crying, telling themselves in the heat of a battle scene as the hero lies dying in his buddy's arms, "It's only a movie. It's only a movie. You will not cry!"; women, it is assumed, seek out movies with the hope that they will have "good cry." I have no doubt that this is part of why women’s pictures have rarely been afforded serious critical examination and were only lauded, for the most part, near the beginning of film history.

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KUTMASTA KURT INTERVIEW

Posted by Billyjam, March 31, 2009 06:20am | Post a Comment
kutmasta kurt
Kutmasta Kurt
is the ever- active Los Angeles based producer, turntablist/DJ, and label owner of Threshold Recordings. The Bay Area transplant, who started out at KZSU radio and who released his first record twenty years ago, is best known for his longtime collaborations with such artists as Kool Keith and Motion Man with whom he  worked jointly on the Masters of Illusion project and also individually on numerous other projects. 

Kutmasta Kurt embarks on the Dr. Dooom Vs. Dr. Octagon tour this week with former Ultramagnetic MCs frontman  Kool Keith. The two artists have worked on such projects as Dr. Dooom and Dr. Octagon as well as such Kool Keith albums as Sex Style, Diesel Truckers, and Matthew. Kutmasta Kurt also produced the Ultra (Kool Keith + fellow former Ultramagnetic MC Tim Dog) album Big Time in 1996.

Additionally he occassionally dons a long fake beard (see pic left) and morphs into his fun Funky Redneck alter-ego. As such he released the 2004 album RedNeck Games, whose original name had to be changed due to pressure from the Olympics Committee.

I recently caught up with Kurt to ask him about this run in with the Olympics folks and the reaction his Funky Redneck persona typically generates, his illustrious recording career, the status of his record label in these digital downloading times, his favorite recording equipment, and his earliiest hip-hop memories.

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