Amoeblog

R.I.P. Willy DeVille

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, August 7, 2009 07:50pm | Post a Comment

The former frontman of Mink Deville passed away yesterday from recently found pancreatic cancer; he was 55. Making his initial splash with Mink Deville during the mid/late 70's in the early days of the CBGB's scene. The band, like many of their contemporaries, got lumped in with the then-fashionable punk scene.  For Mink Deville this was especially ridiculous, as their whole schtick was about as far from the Dead Boys as you could get.

Their first LP, produced by Jack Nitzsche and called Cabretta, is an important piece of the late 70's NY puzzle. To me, it gives the listener a real street level glimpse of the time period that few other records from the era can match. Kill City by Iggy & James Williamson and Lou Reed's infamous ranting on Take No Prisoners cover similar bar sleaze territory, but Cabretta tempers all that with soothing background singers, classic pop songwriting and great percussion arrangements. Willie also brought to the mix a true believer's approach to mythmaking and storytelling that keeps songs such as "Venus of Ave. D" from falling into camp territory. I've spent many a drunken evening listening to him spin his street tough yarns on both Cabretta and its follow up, Return To Magenta, but I never acquired a taste for his more polished 80's & 90's work. "Spanish Stroll," featured on Cabretta, was a top 20 UK hit and his song "Miracles," featured in the Rob Reiner film the Princess Bride, was nominated for an Academy Award. Willy even performed it at the awards ceremony.  His live performances were legendary, pleading on his knees and pouring his soul into heartbreaking ballads.

Although his stateside career never broke big, in Europe his career was quite healthy-- even if his decades of heroin abuse weren't. With a reputation second only to Johnny Thunders, Willy indeed lived the life he sang about. Drugs, suicides and broken marriages paved over much of his intense life. In fact, he was the person that had to identify Johnny Thunders' body in New Orleans, as he was the only person in town who knew him. There's some excellent interviews regarding Johnny's death in the Thunders documentary Born To Lose. It seems that life had, in recent years, picked up for Mr. DeVille. But, upon preparations for Hep C treatments, a nasty bit of pancreatic cancer was found and it only took a couple of months to take him out...


Chico Mann

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, June 28, 2009 01:59am | Post a Comment
Chico Mann, aka Marcos Garcia, has a new album. However, like many releases these days, it is only being released digitally. However, Amoeba Hollywood was fortunate enough to get a few CD copies of the tour edition of his latest release, Analog Drift Muy Esniqui, straight from the man himself.
.
Analog Drift... recalls the days back in the 80's when musicians from the U.S. and England started listening to African and Cuba music. Artists such as The Talking Heads, Grace Jones, Hector Zazou and even Michael Jackson had elements of African music in some of their biggest hits. Chico Mann merges his love of funk and freestyle with Afro-Beat and Afro-Cuban music making this an infectious low-key dance record.

Part of this album's appeal is its marriage between lo-fi and hi-fi. On one hand we have Marco with the Casio and hand claps; then you have collaborators such as Victor Axelrod (better known as Ticklah), who is a highly sought remixer as well as a former member of Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings and current keyboardist for Antibalas adding his thing to the mix. Also, the album is vocal rich, with Marco performing most of the vocal duties with help from Mayteana Morales (Akoya Afrobeat, The Pimps of Joytime) and Vinia Mojica, who sang back-ups on many classic 90’s Hip-Hop albums by artists such as A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Jungle Brothers, and last but not least, Mos Def and Talib Kweli.

Analog Drift includes a charming cover of The Talking Heads' "Once In A Lifetime," a song I never really cared for until this version. Analog is the kind of album that reminds me how cool New York was in the late 70’s/early 80’s, and perhaps how cool their music scene is today.

Once again, we only have a few, so get them while you can!

TECHNO IS BLACK!

Posted by Mike Battaglia, February 2, 2009 11:00am | Post a Comment

              

Even five short years ago, many clubbers, ravers and dance music fans would be hard pressed to recognize the names Ron Hardy or Larry Levan (above, R-L), let alone acknowledge African American influence on the music they get freaky to on the weekends. Even in the black community, whole generations seem completely oblivious to this part of their musical heritage. Thankfully, that's changing. With a renewed interest in disco, 80's uptempo R&B aka boogie, techno and early house music over the past few years, knowledge of dance music's history and the role blacks (and gays and latinos) played in its inception is growing. Nightclubs where the music was allowed to evolve, like Levan's Paradise Garage (right) in New York, Hardy's Music Box and Frankie Knuckles' Warehouse in Chicago (the latter being where the name House Music was coined) and Detroit's Music Institute remain legendary not because of the venues themselves or the people who owned them, but due to the DJ's who made those places immortal by performing an aural alchemy that transformed the American soundscape.

In honor of Black History Month 2009, I plan on taking a look at these legends so that they might gain a foothold with a new audience. People like The Belleville Three, legendary innovators of techno music from Detroit, or DJ's and producers like Tony Humphries at New Jersey's Zanzibar, that bridged the gap between disco's firey, racist and homophobic "death" and the birth of house and techno. I'd like to visit the lives and careers of people who changed the face of music forever, as well as ask a few questions. Questions like: Why is it that DJ's like Tiesto, Sasha & Digweed, Paul Oakenfold or Paul Van Dyk remain the most recognizable faces in mainstream dance music while Theo Parrish (left) remains an "undiscovered talent," or that popular knowledge of its history seems to go no further than the 90's, when white folks finally caught on en masse to what black folks in Chicago, Detroit and New York had already known for years? Or that the most popular strains of dance and electronic music seem to have erased all trace of African American influence? In a press release for a 2006 conference on techno's black origins at Indiana University, author and professor of folklore and ethnomusicology Portia Maultsby said:

"It is interesting how the music migrated from Detroit to Europe, and...became associated with rave parties, and then migrated back to the U.S., and Americans became involved...and the African American identity became invisible. Music can be appropriated and re-appropriated, and history can be distorted as a result of that ...Very few people associate techno with its African American origins."

                     

(The Belleville Three, L-R - Derrick May, Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson)

I may not even have answers to these questions (but would love to hear people's ideas in the comments), but I think raising them is almost enough. Questioning the status quo has never been a popular idea in dance music, but it's something that skeptical ol' me is hardwired for.

Now, obviously things are changing. These men have been regarded as gods in the underground for nearly 20 years and as new generations discover this music for the first time, it seems that it's the essence they immediately attach themselves to; the music's late 70's and early 80's beginnings are attracting the kids and new artists alike, such as Hercules and Love Affair or New York's DFA label, headed by LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy. These artists either consciously or unconsciously are realizing a concept-- that house/dance/electronic music (whatever you want to call it) has lost its way and needs to step back a bit to reflect, to capture what made it great in the first place. To remember the groove.
 

Continue reading...

Passing Strange

Posted by Whitmore, July 11, 2008 10:34am | Post a Comment


First the bad news: Passing Strange, the critically acclaimed Broadway Show about a young musician’s journey through sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, will close on July 20th in New York at the Belasco Theater. But the good news is that director Spike Lee plans on making a film version of the musical.

Written by native Angeleno and local musician Stew --who has played in such bands as Gutbucket, The Lullabies and most notably The Negro Problem-- and longtime musical collaborator Heidi Rodewald, formerly of Wednesday Week and also TNP, Passing Strange was originally work-shopped at the Sundance Institute in Utah and the Berkeley Repertory Theater in Berkeley before becoming an off-Broadway sensation last year. Passing Strange opened in February on Broadway to rave reviews and received seven Tony Award nominations, winning the prize for Best Book for its co-creator and star, Stew.

Overall, the musical will have played 165 performances and 20 previews by the time it closes at the Belasco Theater. Live stage footage will be shot on July 19 at both the matinee and evening performances, so all you west-coasters still have time to buy a plane ticket and reserve a couple of seats.


out today 3/25...hercules & love affair...

Posted by Brad Schelden, March 25, 2008 01:11pm | Post a Comment
I have been really obsessed with Antony & the Johnsons since I moved to Los Angeles. I'm not really sure why. I did first listen to him when I initially moved to Los Angeles in 2001, so maybe I have him attached to Los Angeles in my mind. I was immediately in love with him. He was like a stretched out version of Marc Almond-- a bit more intense and not as flamboyant. I guess he had a different kind of flamboyance. He's also incredibly interesting and completely engaging. I wanted to know more about this man. My love for him grew after I eventually moved back to San Francisco. After recently finding myself living back in L.A. once again, I inevitably began listening to all his albums. I listened to them over and over again as I unpacked and rearranged my new apartment. I even broke out a live bootleg album that a friend of mine had made for me. I normally stay away from the live albums-- I would rather physically be there at a live show-- but I even became obsessed with this live album and soon had all his comments to the crowd memorized as if they were part of the album. So of course I was excited to find out that Antony would be featured on a new album coming out this year. Hercules & Love Affair just released their self titled album in the U.K. on DFA Records. You might have to wait a couple months for a domestic release, but in the meantime it is more than worth the import price for this amazing new debut album. You will find Antony on the vocals for four of the ten songs. He also sings some back up on an additional song.


I was really not a fan of Greek mythology in high school. I actually failed the test we had on the subject and had to take a creative writing class that same year to make up for my failing semester of AP English. My English teacher was obsessed with mythology and I seriously think 95% of the semester was devoted to mythology, just as 95% of my junior high English class had been devoted to Anne Frank. But things tend to always happen for a reason. My creative writing teacher was one of those inspiring teachers you have that you remember forever. The class was fantastic and I ended up writing some fantastic little stories and even wrote a whole play about high school angst with one of my classmates. The class opened up my mind and really helped me to start seriously thinking about life and literature. Still though, any time I hear anything about Greek mythology I get a really sick feeling in my stomach. Homer's Odyssey still gives me chills when I think about it. Maybe someday I will try and tackle it again. I may have a better ability to understand it after watching all these movies about Hercules.

In spite of my gut reaction to mythology, The Clash of the Titans was one of my favorite movies as a kid. I think it might have just been because of my senior year high school teacher. Perseus, played by Harry Hamlin in Clash of the Titans, was the great grandfather of Hercules! There was actually a film made out of the Odyssey in 1997 starring Armand Assante, Greta Scacchi, Isabella Rossellini, and Bernadette Peters. I only wish this had aired on television when I was still in high school-- I may have done better in the class. Hercules has been the subject of many films over the years. Lou Ferrigno played him the 1983 movie of the same name. Kevin Sorbo played Hercules in the 90's television show. Ryan Gosling played "Young Hercules" in 1998.

Continue reading...
BACK  <<  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  >>  NEXT