Amoeblog

Photographic Memory, Part 2

Posted by Job O Brother, September 14, 2009 12:01pm | Post a Comment
This is another installment of music and/or movies that I’m reminded of when looking at old photos of myself, my family and my friends. It was brought to you by the letter E and the number 8. And through a generous donation from the Karen Silkwood Driving Academy. And from Viewers Like You.


"I hate you."

Here’s a picture of the dude that’s writing the sentence you’re reading right now. It was taken while he was in Kindergarten. The expression on the boy’s face sets the tone for the rest of his scholastic experience.

I don’t know what happened to make me look so surly in a photograph. It could’ve been as simple as the photographer telling me to “Smile!” which is an order I have never responded to well. I mean, if someone wants me to smile, they should be creative about it. Try saying something like:

“I’ve bought you 8 pints of ice cream and a spoon!” or

“I managed to destroy every last recording of the song ‘Entry Of The Gladiators!'” or

“I am John Gavin, and I’m going to kiss you.”

Something that would make me smile for reals. Don’t just bark orders at me! Especially to portray an emotion. That’s too personal. I AM NOT A LABRADOR RETRIEVER, PEOPLE!

Sorry for yelling. But I’m really not a Labrador Retriever, people. So stop throwing dirty tennis balls my way. Just because I always bring them back doesn’t mean I’m enjoying myself, you know. My tail lies.

By Kindergarten age, I was devoted to three albums: Simple Dreams by Linda Ronstadt


Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by… oh, what were they called? Shoot – the name slips my mind, but they were a good band. And finally, Chipmunk Rock by The Chipmunks.


An argument could be made that all the variety I now enjoy in the world of music can be traced back to these three LP’s. That argument would be wrong, but you could make it.


This is a picture I took of Noah Georgeson in front of the now defunct South Yuba Café, then located on Broad Street in downtown Nevada City, California. Working inside the Café was his then-girlfriend who was hooking us up with free ice cream and pasties. (My adolescence would not have been possible without the girls of South Yuba Café feeding me free pasties, actually. Without them, I would have had to get a job, which would have dramatically changed the course of my entire life.)

Noah and I had been in the same freshmen P.E. class at Nevada Union High School, which may account for both of us sharing similar post-traumatic stress disorders. We were also in the same punk band for a while – a lovable little outfit called Inner Frog, which would also include Hunter Burgan on drums, amongst others.

I didn’t, and don’t, know how to play any instruments, so I was what we called “lead Betty Cooper,” that is, I played tambourine and sang back-up vocals. Usually in cut-off jeans and a vintage nurse’s outfit. Conflicts arose after the band’s lead singer (who we’ll call The Virginia Beach Open) started making wild allegations and accused the rest of us of claiming she was making wild allegations.


Noah continued developing lots of music – more than I could name by the time I finish writing this sentence. Of note, he was a member of now disbanded band The Pleased, along with then-girlfriend Joanna Newsom, whose debut album he would produce. Since then, he has also become a regular contributor to the work of Devendra Banhart.


But an album that deserves greater awareness is his solo effort Find Shelter, released in 2006. It’s a dreamy album of dark folk hypnosis. Noah’s vocals are rich, deep and commanding. Don’t be content with his impressive résumé of behind-the-scenesness – check out his album, do.


Finally, here’s a picture of Carmella. I don’t have any musical memories attached to this image, but I did snap this photo in the restroom of the South Yuba Café, so it’s not without relevance. Without taste, yes, but not relevance.

More walks down memory lane to come. Stay tuned!

...Actually, don’t stay tuned. I don’t want you to waste days just sitting at your computer waiting for my next blog. As much as I appreciate your devotion, it’s important to me that you prioritize your own well-being and that of those who depend on you. So let’s just say “check in later” and leave it at that.

A little 999 on 09-09-09

Posted by Whitmore, September 9, 2009 08:35pm | Post a Comment

I know it’s officially Beatles Day across this great rock and roll landscape, but I can’t resist posting a couple of video’s from a great band from the 1970’s, 999, on this day -- 09-09-09. Named after the UK’s emergency telephone number, they were formed in London at the onset of the punk scene in 1977. 999 charted five Top 75 singles between 1978 and 1981, though only one made it to the Top 40; that track is the classic "Homicide" / "Soldier," released in October of 1978 on United Artist Records. Other great mad romps include "Nasty Nasty," "Found Out Too Late" and "Emergency." One early review complained they were “histrionic, the music embarrassingly simple, the instruments turned up to full volume and the production almost absent;” yeah, that sounds just about perfect in my book.



Photographic Memory, Part 1

Posted by Job O Brother, September 7, 2009 01:17pm | Post a Comment

"Please conjure sheets of paper to come floating out of the laundry basket below"
The author, circa 1996

I have recently come into possession of my adolescent photo collection. There was, for a period of about five years, a time when I owned a fetching Ricoh camera which had been given to me by a rad woman whom I lived with on a mountaintop commune on the outskirts of Santa Fe, New Mexico. She used to regale me with stories from her years as a hot-shot publicist, and explained to me which lines from David Bowie’s “Drive-in Saturday” had been written about her by the Thin White Duke.


Were these claims true? Who knows. But it did distract me from the profound and crippling nervous breakdown I was experiencing at the time, fuelled in part by excessive use of ecstasy as a means of spiritual enlightenment and by living with my then step-father who made such helpful suggestions as, “Maybe you have alien implants in your brain.”

“Oh, yes. Well thank you for that.”

I thought it might be fun to dip into the box and see what musical and/or cinematic associations they bring. Kind of reconsider my colorful past in terms of stuff you could purchase at Amoeba Music. For I am a salesman, ladies and gentlemen.

Let’s begin now…


Here’s a picture of me caked in drying mud on the banks of the Dead Sea. Taking the picture is my Mom, who is also slathered in earth. Supposedly there was some physical benefits in doing this, but honestly I didn’t need a reason beyond getting to rub mud all over my near-naked body. Who needs the added incentive of a health boost? What you don’t see in this picture is the gaggle of Japanese tourists shrieking with laughter as the women in the group got smeared with mud by their husbands. And what you don’t hear is that the spa where this all took place is playing Marianne Faithfull’s album Broken English over the loudspeakers. Because when you’re soaking in mineral baths and having the toxins flushed from your body, what else do you want to hear but this…


Yes, the spirit of the Essenes is alive and well on the banks of the Dead Sea.


Here’s a picture of Emilie Autumn. Emilie was famous in our hometown for a variety of reasons, one of which being that she would do things like, say, dye her skin green and wear Christmas tinsel hair extensions. This isn’t body paint, folks. This is skin dyed green, and over the course of weeks it would gradually fade away, as though Emilie were transforming from Frankenstein monster to human girl.

I spent a sizable chunk of my youth locked in Emilie’s room, smoking pot, drinking Thunderbird, eating pot, and making art with her. Music was always playing, and the most popular tunes were (in no particular order):














After being best friends for three years, Emilie and I began having sex, which made the next three years of our relationship a more stormy affair. Her creativity extended into ways of breaking my heart and I finally stopped talking to her. She was one of the great loves of my life and a part of me will always be in love with her. Green skinned or not.

Aw... More to come!

The Moon missions and the children of Major Tom -- the end of the space age and the music that followed

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 20, 2009 03:58pm | Post a Comment

It's the 40th anniversary of the first manned moon landing, and looking back at that achievement it's obvious that one of the many repercussions was evinced in the music of the era. In addition to the space rock of bands like Pink Floyd and Hawkwind and sci-fi minded funk acts like Funkadelic, the glam rock scene, which exploded around the same time, is one of the most obvious manifestations. For a couple of years, glam rock was massively popular in several countries and it spawned hordes of mylar-and-make-up-wearing rockers singing about extraterrestrial love and lonely planet boys. On December 7, 1972, the Apollo 17 was the last manned mission to the moon and the space age, shortly after, seems to have drawn quietly to a close. Glam rock seemed to fizzle shortly afterward, but maybe it just went underground, seeking out new frontiers in a different set of clothes.



First, in 1973, David Bowie retired his extraterrestrial Ziggy Stardust and released Aladdin Sane. Although hardly a radical departure, it was famously hyped as "Ziggy goes to America" and represented Bowie's efforts to move in a new direction. Then, in early 1974, glam rock's creator Marc Bolan announced that "Glam rock is dead." His February release, Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow - A Creamed Cage in August, was described by its creator as "cosmic soul." Bowie described his next direction as "plastic soul" shortly afterward. Glam's two most important stars seemed committed to moving on in spirit, if perhaps overstating the change in their music.



At the peak of glam's popularity, a slew of teen idols flooded the charts with a highly commercial T Rex-inspired version of glam, largely courtesy of RAK Records and Bell Records. By stripping away most of artistic and thematic pretensions of earlier glam, these acts made a glam racket that was recognizable in sound but more oriented toward teen idolatry than the sci-fi decadence and often distinguished as glitter rock.

 

Anyone that dared affect arty, theatrical or androgynous trappings was doomed to critical derision and/or commercial disinterest. Two who did (and were martyred in the press for it) were Cockney Rebel and Jobriath & the Creatures of the Street. Having both released their first records in 1973, they were unfairly criticized as mere glam-rock-come-latelies attempting to fill the void left by Bowie. In many ways, they were the vanguard of a new crop of glam rockers who were undoubtedly inspired by The Dame but in no way mere clones and traded many of his sci-fi aspects for the decadent sophistication associated with Roxy Music (and Bowie). Several would find a measure of popularity (though in no cases approaching the heights of TRextasy) but more remained underground, with their hype usually surpassing their sales.

In fact, many probably would reject the notion that they were glam at all, as their brand of hard-pop drew from progressive rock, soul, disco and a variety of other genres. But what unites the artists of this so-called second wave of glam is the retention of the early glam spirit that left them at odds with the corduroy/beardy/chevy van/whiskey-chugging aesthetics that marked most rock of the era.

 

1973 Cockney Rebel - The Human Menagerie, Jobriath - Jobriath






    brett smiley breathlessly brett    another pretty face 21st century rock  Skyhooks Living in the 70's
 
1974 Cockney Rebel - The Psychmodo, Sailor - Sailor, Jobriath - Creatures of the Street, Brett Smiley - Breathlessly Brett, Paul Williams - The Phantom of the Paradise, Another Pretty Face - 21st Century Rock, Zolar X - "Space Age Love" b/w "Energize Me," Skyhooks - Living in the 70's








 


Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel Best Years of Our Lives   Alastair Riddell Space Waltz    Richard O'brien Rocky Horror Picture Show Soundtrack    Skyhook Ego is not a dirty word  

1975 Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel The Best Years of Our Lives, Sailor - Trouble, Alastair Riddell - Space Waltz, David Werner - Whizz Kid, Richard O'Brien - Rocky Horror Picture Show, Tiger Lily - "Monkey Jive" b/w "Ain't Misbehavin'," Skyhooks - Ego is Not a Dirty Word, Jet - Jet








Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel Timeless Flight     doctors of madness late night movies  doctors of madness figures of emancipation      john miles rebel    

1976 Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel - Timeless Flight and Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel - Love's A Prima Donna, Sailor - Third Step, Doctors of Madness - Late Night Movies, All Night Brainstorms, Doctors of Madness - Figments of Emancipation, David Werner - Imagination Quota, Roderick Falconer - New Nation, John Miles - Rebel, Supernaut - Supernaut, Skyhooks - Straight in a Gay World

With the so-called punk explosion, the always hyperbolic British music press got Khmer Rouge style and declared it year zero. Glam continued to exist underground and many more fine albums were released, however critically ignored they were, although most of the bands began to transform into something new, in some cases influencing the punk and new wave that were supposed to be reactions against glam. As Horace wrote, "Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus."




sailor checkpoint  roderick falconer victory in rock city  metro   


1977
Sailor - Checkpoint, Roderick Falconer - Victory in Rock City, Max Lazer - "Saints of Rock n' Roll" b/w "Street Queen," Metro - Metro, Jon Miles - Stranger in the City




doctors of madness sons of survivalJapan Adolescent Sex 1978 Japan Obscure Alternatives 1978
John Miles ZaragonSupernaut the Nauts

1978
 Sailor - Hideaway, Doctors of Madness - Sons of Survival, Japan - Adolescent Sex and Obscure Alternatives, Jon Miles - Zaragon, Supernaut - The Nauts, Skyhooks - Guilty Until Proven Insane





David Werner  Flashman    John Miles Mmph

1979
 David Werner - David Werner, Flashman - Flashman, Metro - New Love, Jon Miles - Mmph

       

1980 Sailor - Dressed for Drowning, Cuddly Toys - Guillotine Theatre, Metro - Future Imperfect, Jon Miles - Sympathy, Skyhooks - Hot for the Orient, Coby and Iris Recht with Roger S. Clinton - The Apple Soundtrack






1982
Cuddly Toys - Trials & Losses

The second wave of glam and glam-influenced pop/rock was always malleable but many bands' artistic evolution paralleled the shifting directions of the still active and relevant glam pioneers, Roxy Music and Bowie, incorporating new influences and inspiring many of the new wave/punk/post-punk/goth/urban void and especially the new romantics that followed. For example, Siouxsie and the Banshees covered Roxy Music, Sparks and T Rex, Bauhaus covered T Rex and David Bowie, The Damned played on Marc Bolan's program and the Adverts mingled with Doctors of Madness. Without glam, we probably never would've had bands as wide-ranging as ABC, Adam Ant, The Cure, Duran Duran, Hanoi Rocks, Japan, Joy Division, Klaus Nomi, Magazine, Nina Hagen, Tubeway Army or a host of others. Of course, in the '80s, there probably wouldn't have been anything like glam metal, which helped promote big hair and subsequently contributed to global warming, so it's not all good.

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P.S. Here's a video for the unreleased Jobriath track, "Little Dreamer," put together by his half-brother.

...and a Jobriath cover by Def Leppard, just because these artists did mean something to later generations.



(In which we bric some brac and knick some knack.)

Posted by Job O Brother, May 11, 2009 05:46pm | Post a Comment

As God is my witness, I don't know what I'm supposed to pack my collection of vintage boxes in.


Phew! Hey – how’s it going? Oh, you’re reading the Amoeblog, I see. Well, hope I’m not interrupting you – I just needed to take a break from unpacking. I don’t know how I fit so much stuff into my previous, tiny, New York-style apartment! I mean, I don’t remember sleeping on a pile of books and LP’s eight yards deep, but I must have.

The whole process of moving can be especially complicated for those of us who are avid collectors of music and film and all manner of art-faggory. It becomes a reenactment of that crucial scene from Sophie’s Choice (I won’t include any spoilers here for those of you who’ve never seen the film; suffice it to say that, due to Sophie’s fear of baking soda, her love for the town’s baker suffers some dire tragedies. And her cat turns out to be the murderer.)

I find myself reconsidering whether or not I need a collection of punk 45’s, but before I can decide, I’m distracted by the hilarity and exuberance of the Blatz song then suddenly stuck in my head, and before I know it, everything’s in the box “to be saved” and all that makes it to the thrift store is a redundant garlic press and a cutting board whose origin I cannot recall.

I suppose I could live without my antique sextant. But what if I wanna measure the altitude of a
celestial object above the horizon while onboard a ship without electricity? ...I better keep it.

To be honest, I never really identified with the “collector” mentality. I have this many albums because I love this many (and more) and I have these DVD’s, books and posters for the same reason. I don’t keep hold of anything simply because of its cash value. I never questioned what I could sell my autographed, first pressing of Stories From the Nerve Bible for on Craig’s List – I just wanna read it again and again, ‘s all.


My boyfriend does not share my affliction, but he’s been patient and compassionate. He’s also mastered the art of walking away and waiting for me to come around. For example, when he first suggested I get rid of a few T-shirts that no longer fit me, either physically or socially, such as the muscle-T of camouflaged material held together, not with sewing thread, but dozens of safety pins and boasting a silk-screen of female breasts and the words ELVIS CHRIST* on the bosom, I turned on him, eyes bulging, and in my best impersonation of a harpy, screeched, “Well, maybe.” Sensing I was reconsidering what I wanted more, this musty rag of a top or his true and abiding love, he calmly left the discussion and returned to washing my assortment of Rocky & Bullwinkle drinking glasses.


It makes things taste better!!!

An hour later, after a misty recollection of the first time I almost barfed in the 924 Gilman Street restroom – the same night I had found said muscle-T in a free box next to the ticket counter – and after secretly putting the shirt on and coming to grips with how much my body’s grown since I was 17, I meekly approached my boyfriend – who was, by now, dusting one of my many Bibles, and announced that I had decided to get rid of the T-shirts.

He held me.

I used to think I was a collector, but that was before I started working at Amoeba Music. There are customers, dear reader, who spend longer hours there than I ever do. When do they have time to listen to all the music they’re hunting? Why do they need so many copies of the same Miles Davis album? Do their wives know these men are cheating on them with out-of-print copies of the Un homme et une femme soundtrack?


Anyway, I better get back to unpacking. These issues of Neat Stuff aren’t going to file themselves, you know.


* Time has taught me that most every city in the U.S. has, at some point, produced a punk band by the name Elvis Christ. The group to which this reference is attributed was an entirely un-famous and lovable line-up of young men from Grass Valley, California, which is why you've never heard of them.
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