Amoeblog

Grebo -- Spotlight on the spotty

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 28, 2008 11:57am | Post a Comment
Grebo was the name given to a short-lived music scene/subculture in the late 1980s/early 1990s which was centered in England's Midlands region. Key bands in the scene were Pop Will Eat Itself, Ned's Atomic Dustbin, Carter USM and The Wonderstuff. Other bands associated with Grebo to varying extents include The Levellers, Zodiac Mindwarp, Crazyhead, The Bomb Party, The Hunters Club, Scum Pups, Gaye Bikers on Acid, The Senseless Things, Mega City Four and New Model Army. These musically diverse bands on the surface had little in common with one another but were united in their incorporation of (to varying degrees, given the band in question) musical influences taken from many of the more marginal scenes of the day such as heavy metal, alternative, dance, glam, hip-hop, punk and industrial. Though rarely, if ever, termed Grebo; Jesus Jones and EMF applied a strong pop sensibility to an undeniably Grebo-esque formula which carried them to considerable, though short-lived, heights.



Still, where there is little recognizable commonality to the musicologist, there is an undeniable vibe evident in their attitude, sartorial sense and Chaz's Grebo dance, which the subcultural anthropologist can recognize easily. The Grebo look often involved dreadlocks, topknots, crimped hair or otherwise unflattering, grubby coifs. The clothing often saw long-sleeved lumberjack shirts or Ts combined with shorts and heavy boots.  Skate brands and surplus were often topped off with odd hats which were popular in the early 1990s and will prove an essential, if unflattering, ingredient in any upcoming 90s revival. The result was deliberately ugly, comical and political, in keeping with most of the music.

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Laserdisc Blowout Ending Soon

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 25, 2008 05:07pm | Post a Comment


Right now there's a raging Laserdisc blowout occurring on the mezzanine here at Amoeba Hollywood. The big, shiny discs with the high mass are blowing out at low, low prices.


Most kids today, when they see a laserdisc, assume that they're silver vinyl soundtracks but some of us remember the extinct format, especially if we're Japanese.


Laserdisc technology was developed in the late 1950s and demonstrated for the public in 1978. Laserdiscs were first sold in Atlanta, possibly because of its reputation as "The City Too Busy To Hate." The first title available was, ironically, Jaws, a low budget monster film about a shark with nothing to do but hate.


Over the next 12 years, dozens of titles were released on the format. Common complaints against Laserdiscs were the limited catalog and high prices ($89.99 for Honey I Blew Up the Kid). Also, you couldn't tape your stories on 'em and you had to flip them over just when the kid is growing into a giant! The most common rejoinder I've heard for the latter gripe is, "That's when I get up and get a beer!" There's a lot of "You too, I thought I was the only one" moments in the laserdisc section, which is one of the great things about the medium. Also, you can freeze frame and get a clear picture, maybe glimpsing some naughty bits on a cartoon character snuck in by a frustrated Disney animator.

Hello Degrassi!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 26, 2008 03:14pm | Post a Comment
I've been commissioned to write a blog about one of my favorite Canadian bands. As someone who spent a year and a half in rural Iowa with no friends and a satellite dish, I spent many Mountain Dew-fueled hours watching Much Music with the VCR remote in hand hoping to tape videos by the likes of the Dream Warriors, Zumpano, Leonard Cohen, Trans-X, Lime, Skinny Puppy, Frontline Assembly, or Eric's Trip whilst adroitly changing the channel within microseconds of a Bootsauce song's opening notes.



But there was one band who, I don't think, ever got any airtime on Much and will not likely ever be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. That band is ...  Zit Remedy. They formed in 1985 and only recorded one song, "Everybody Wants Something," which they sold for 2 dollars (Canadian) which, echoing Peter Saville's costly New Order packaging for "Blue Monday," cost less than the blank tapes they were recorded on. There's a Zit Remedy website that does a good job of providing the biographical information for the seminal band. I will say that a bit of the information is wrong, or out of date. Anyone who keeps up with Degrassi knows that after Craig Manning's dad died, he formed a band Downtown Sasquatch with Spinner, Jimmy and Marco which practiced in... legendary Zit Remedy frontman Joey Jeremiah's garage. And he performed his song "What I Know" at the Degrassi Battle of the Bands as a sort of apology to Ashley Kerwin. So, obviously there's a lot of musical talent coming out of Degrassi. In fact, there's a wikipedia entry devoted to them.

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Crime & The City Solution and Simon Bonney -- Criminally Underrated

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 21, 2008 10:51pm | Post a Comment
CRIME & THE CITY SOLUTION

Crime & the City Solution 31 December, 1977
Crime & the City Solution 31 December, 1977 (image source: Phil Turnbull)

It seems that almost from their inception the band Crime & The City Solution they were cursed to never be spoken of without a mention of famous Australian Nick Cave. It's really no one's fault. They were part of a incestuous web of musicians with frequent Nick Cave collaborator Mick Harvey at the center, a man who though a talented multi-instrumentalist, can only play one one band at a time, resulting in other pursuits being put on hold whilst he focused on his main gig.

Crime & The City Solution formed in Sydney, Australia in 1977. Their original line-up included vocalist Simon Bonney (the band's only permanent member, fresh from a brief stint with The Particles), Don McLennan on drums, Harry Zanteni on guitar, Phil Kitchener on bass and Dave MacKinnon on soprano and tenor saxophones. Simon Bonney, whilst born in Sydney, had spent some time on his family's remote farm in Tasmania where his they grew wheat, barley and opium poppies.

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Happy Australia Day

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 26, 2008 09:23am | Post a Comment
  
The Flag of Australia                                             The Australian Aboriginal Flag        The Flag of Torres Strait Islanders


Australia was discovered about 45,000 years ago when they either walked or made short sea-crossings from Papua to the north in what is now the Torres Strait. In Australia they grew into diverse cultures with around 250 languages spoken by nations such as the Koori, Murri, Noongar, Yamatji, Wangkai, Nunga, Anagu, Yapa, Yolngu and Palawah, who together may've numbered around 3 quarters of a million.  43,830 years later (give or take a few thousand) it was claimed, like a quarter of the planet, by the tiny, faraway island of Great Britain.


   
Initially, it served as a penal colony set up at Port Jackson on January 26, 1788, which is why it's Australia Day today. 50% of the indigenous population died from smallpox within the following years. Massacres and land seizures reduced the indigenous population another 30%. Often the convicts sent to Australia were charged with minor offenses. In the 1850s, the Gold Rush began and with it, an Americanization of the language. For example, "bonanza" (borrowed from Spanish) became "bonzer." By 1827, Australian English was already diverging significantly from British English. Author Peter Cunningham noted a distinct vocabulary and a non-rhotic accent that owed heavily to Cockney. It is typically divided into three accents which owe less to region than UK English or US English.

      Broad: Exemplified by larrikins Paul “g’day mate” Hogan, Steve “crikey” Irwin.
      General: The typical Australian of Cate Blanchett, Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman.
      Cultivated: The British-sounding manner of Geoffrey Rush or Judy Davis.

None of the examples above probably say "shrimp on the barbie" since "shrimp" are called "prawns" in Australia.
     
Most of the wildlife and plant life is endemic. It's the flattest country on Earth, mostly desert and covered with the least fertile soil. It seems like wherever you go in the world, you run into loads of Australians. Luckily, they all have multizone DVD players.

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