“He’s just a big schlub from Detroit. He’s fat and he’s got a mustache. I wouldn’t shit in Lester’s nose.”

Lou Reed, in a jab at Lester Bangs after the rock critic referred to his transvestite (but possibly transsexual) lover Rachel as “the bearded lady” in a column — in an interview with “Zig Zag” magazine, circa 1973.

Lou Reed – Lester’s nose

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“Purely strange, a mother lode of unholy awe. If the album ‘Berlin’ was melted down in a vat and reshaped into human form, it would be this creature.”

Lester Bangs, from Jim DeRogatis’ biography of Bangs, “Let It Blurt,” describing Bangs’ impression of Rachel, a transvestite (but possibly transsexual) Lou Reed was dating and who was in tow when Bangs interviewed Reed at the Detroit Hilton in 1973. More info and photos of Rachel and Lou here.

Lester Bangs – Rachel the transvestite

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“It isn’t necessary to imagine the world ending in fire and ice — there are two other possibilities: one is paperwork, and the other is nostalgia.”

Frank Zappa, in his 1989 autobiography, “The Real Frank Zappa Book”

Frank Zappa – end of the world

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“Cutting ‘Anarchy in the U.K.’ out of the market just as it was reaching its audience, EMI, the Sex Pistols’ first label, dropped them after the televised ‘fuck’ that made Declan McManus’ day, recalled the records, and melted them down. … The press contrived a moral panic to sell papers, but the panic seemed real soon enough: the Sex Pistols were denounced in Parliament as a threat to the British way of life, by socialists as fascist, by fascists as communist. … The group itself had become contraband. In late 1975, when the Sex Pistols first appeared, crashing another band’s concert and impersonating the opening act, the plug was pulled after ten minutes; now to play in public they were forced to turn up in secret, under a false name. The very emptiness of the terrain they had cleared — the multiplication of new voices from below, the intensification of abuse from above, both sides fighting for possession of that suddenly cleared ground — had pushed them toward self-destruction, into the silence of all nihilist noise.”

Greil Marcus, discussing the Sex Pistols in his 1989 book, “Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century”

Greil Marcus – Sex Pistols

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Lowell Fulson, “Tollin’ Bells”

Before Otis Redding, there was a brief period in the mid-1950s where blues guitarist Lowell Fulson experimented with a soulful singing style. The Tulsa, Okla.-born musician in the 1950s worked with Chess Records’ musician/songwriter Willie Dixon, who is to rock ‘n’ roll what Alfred Hitchcock is to suspense.

Dixon wrote or performed on nearly every classic by Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Howlin’ Wolf — songs that would later be refurbished by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and the Stones. Case in point is the lesser-known Dixon-penned tune, “Tollin’ Bells,” from 1956. It’s a dirgy, reckless tune, the protagonist having just learned that his baby is not coming back — just a slow piano rag, weeping horns and a big pile of woozy despair belching forth from Fulson’s lungs. The song would later be covered by Paul Butterfield and Robert Cray.

(A note about the video below. It says Willie Dixon, but it is in fact Lowell Fulson singing.)

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The Twilight Sad, “Nil (Liars remix)”

I’m not really a fan of remixes and/or extended mixes, just as I’m not generally a fan of sequels (unless you tell me Al Pacino is the villain in an upcoming Stan Lee joint). Remixes by nature are just filler to keep you on the dance floor longer, even if we’re talking about a goth remix — which should be an oxymoron — and said club-goer is just going to be holding up the walls all night in some dark corner.

I’m, of course, referring to the “goth” culture before it had a name and was then promptly sold to Disney, before people tweeted misery to other antisocial “nonconformists” who also dress up like Tim Burton characters. Does anybody remember The Cure’s abomination, “Mixed Up,” a collection of its hits in New and Improved 30 Percent Larger Fun Pack versions? On “Lullaby” alone, listeners are left stuck — like a spider’s meal — in a hepped-up groove somewhere near the beginning of the song for nearly eight torturous minutes. It’s embarrassing to say it now, but there was a time when Robert Smith could do no wrong, and I listened to “Mixed Up” as faithfully as all the rest of his output, even side project The Glove.

But I digress. My point here is that the Liars’ remix of The Twilight Sad’s “Nil,” (off the latter’s third full-length, “No One Can Ever Know”) is one of the best remixes I’ve heard. I’ll admit that I am perhaps just flogging a dead horse, as in the evolving climate, the line between remixes, sampling and covers is quite blurry. In any case, the only peers to this remix that spring to mind are a few entries off 2012’s “Dross Glop,” reinterpreting The Battles’ “Gloss Drop,” such as The Alchemist’s remix of “Futura.”

Ultimately, I think a good remix is able to give the original new appeal, which is what happened in the case of “Nil.” I’d sort of passed by The Twilight Sad’s catalog with barely a glance before hearing the gussied-up Liars mix. Now, I know better.

 

SEE ALSO: EARGGH! reviews Liars, “Loose Nuts on the Veladrome”

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“I once proposed the construction of an apparatus which would have been a cross between a gallows and an old-fashioned shower stall. The shower curtain was to have been an American flag, and behind it, hanging from the gallows, was to be a side of beef (at room temperature). I proposed to roll this out at the end of each show, play a fanfare and open the curtain, releasing flies into the audience.”

Frank Zappa, detailing his early exploits, circa the summer of 1967, which he referred to as “the early Mothers of Invention ‘entertainment statement,'” and also included ACTUAL rotting vegetables and whipped cream covering a stage in a stuffy, AC-less, run-down Greenwich Village theater the band was regularly gigging at that summer, detailed in his autobiography, “The Real Frank Zappa Book”

Frank Zappa – meat flies

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Skinny Puppy, “God’s Gift (Maggot)”

MTV’s once golden empire has long been reduced to a mere polished yellowing turd. Which isn’t much in the way of a revelation, but it’s my clever way of introducing the review. It started off so promising back in 1981, when nobody really knew what they were doing, but more than made up for any misreads with unbridled enthusiasm. And thanks to a college circuit that was beginning to churn out the bucks, they had a lot of good music to share, which gave you insta-cred back in the dark pre-Napster era.

But all good things must come to an end, by which I mean that all creative output eventually gets filtered through The Corporation, often re-emerging as something mostly inhuman (Lady Gaga, Nicky Minaj, Ke$ha, Adam Lambert), little happening beneath the surface other than botox poisoning and cow-tissue injections — but also because corporations AREN’T REALLY PEOPLE.

But hell, the United States limped its way into the 1970s before the American Dream completely came out of the closet as fiction, propped up by little more than Richard Nixon and “Mr. Ed” reruns. Then Dickhead packed up his angoras and tape recorders, and headed back to Oz, leaving Gerald Ford to sign the ownership papers over to the People’s Republic of China.

I’ve always believed that — like a one-two punch — MTV’s collapse began with the realization in 1993 that “The Real World” would last longer than one season; the follow-through coming a year later with Kurt Cobain’s suicide, exposing the grunge gravy train for the dog and pony show that it was, egg-faced network big wigs from that point on creating their own reality to eliminate the element of chance.

Which is a long way to get to my Skinny Puppy review. But relevant, because it was thanks to the MTV program, “120 Minutes,” that I saw a video for Puppy’s song, “Stairs and Flowers,” in late 1986. The network had launched the 2-hour late-night weekly program in March of that year, featuring songs that were doing well on the college charts. I can also thank the show for introducing me to the likes of Husker Du, The Replacements and Smashing Pumpkins before they became household names.

I quickly went out and bought the album with “Stairs and Flowers,” Puppy’s wonderfully titled, “Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse.” Living in my very Christian home at the time, it was the sort of album I could only listen to with headphones on, which made it MUCH MORE INTENSE. So intense, in fact, that by the time the second song, “God’s Gift (Maggot),” rolled around, I got scared and had to turn it off. I didn’t get the courage to listen to the album again until two years later, after I’d tried LSD. At which time, it became essential listening, and I quickly bought up the rest of the band’s catalog.

“God’s Gift” has been a favorite since my early-’90s industrial rock conversion. It’s also about as sludgy and provocative as electronic music ever got before Ministry opened the floodgates with “The Land of Rape and Honey” in 1988. By the way, many ecologists and health specialists probably do consider maggots to be a gift from our creator, but the fact that Puppy’s song contains references to eye sockets makes it a safe bet the band mates just happened to be watching a lot of old Vincent Price movies.

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“People say, ‘Nirvana killed heavy metal,’ and they didn’t. If you had any type of music scene that is so weak that another band can come on playing a different type of music and kill your scene, then your scene wasn’t good enough in the first place.”

Riki Rachtman, host of “Headbangers Ball” when Nirvana members Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic showed up for an interview in November 1991, in a 2011 interview. It’s notorious in that Cobain wore a bright yellow gown and was obviously under the influence, and the appearance for many symbolizes the death of “hair metal,” i.e. pop metal — of which Def Leppard is a perfect representative. Read the interview here. Watch the “Headbangers Ball” segment here.

Riki Rachtman – Nirvana

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“I’m tired of men who aren’t professional or even accomplished musicians continually offering to ‘help me out’ (without being asked), as if i did this by accident and i’m gonna flounder without them. … I’m sad that my desire to be treated as an equal and as a human being is interpreted as hatred of men, rather than a request to be included and respected.”

Excerpts from a blog post/rant by Grimes (the stage name of Claire Boucher), viewable in full on her Tumblr

Grimes – Tumblr rant

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