Saturday, May 29, 2010

DENNIS HOPPER 1936 - 2010

The dude seemed everywhere. For the last several decades, he was always lurking somewhere. In a movie, at an art opening, Cannes, taking photos, hobnobbing with A-list artists, Venice... Even though he was known primarily as an actor, he really was one of us, and by that I mean culture junkies. The difference was that he created and digested. He never really stopped either. Even when he wasn't working on a film, Dennis Hopper was taking pictures, making art, or hanging out with like-minded friends.

"There are moments that I've had some real brilliance, you know. But I think they are moments. And sometimes, in a career, moments are enough. I never felt I played the great part. I never felt that I directed the great movie. And I can't say that it's anybody's fault but my own ... I am just a middle-class farm boy from Dodge City and my grandparents were wheat farmers. I thought painting, acting, directing and photography was all part of being an artist. I have made my money that way and I have had some fun. It's not been a bad life."

He really did just about everything...but music. Which made it hard to justify this post, on a music blog. But, my hesitation was quickly overridden when I found an mp3 of my favorite line from "Blue Velvet" (see link below).

Dennis Hopper (re: beverages) mp3 sound bite, from "Blue Velvet"
(I would turn this one up all the way, so the whole office can hear it.)
The Byrds - Wasn't Born to Follow mp3 (from "Easy Rider") at Groovers Paradise
(NOTE: The quote above was lifted from Groovers Paradise)
Roy Orbison - In Dreams mp3 (from "Blue Velvet") at Fuck Yeah, Go Team
Steppenwolf - The Pusher mp3 (from "Easy Rider") at KinoSport
More Blue Velvet soundbites at LynchNet
Dennis Hopper : Photographs 1961 - 1967 at Taschen Books
(Check the index to skip to his photography)
Dennis Hopper article at the N.Y. Times
Dennis Hopper obituary at the N. Y. Times

Sunday, May 23, 2010


The Stones were just getting their wings when they entered Chicago-based Chess Studios in 1964, and they had to have been humbled. In the first two days alone, they were visited by Chuck Berry, Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters; three men without whom they may not have had careers.

They recorded at Chess on four dates (three in 1964 and one in 1965), netting 20+ cuts, mostly covers. Captain's Dead recently posted 25, including alternate versions of "Time is on My Side" and "2120 South Michigan Ave." Go get 'em.

Rolling Stones Chess Sessions mp3s and zip file at Captain's Dead
(NOTE: Right click on titles for mp3s)
Chess Records, with roster of artists, at Wikipedia
History of Chess Records

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Listen up. I don't ever do back-to-back posts about the same artist, but in this case an addendum to my last post wasn't going to do it. It was lacking the one particular song that really made me drool. I'll try not to overstate this: "Baby You Crazy" is the best new rock n' roll song I've heard in a very long time. If it doesn't grab you, then I give up. Mantovani has won.

Everything about the song is dead-on. The vocals, the instrumentation, the production, the lyrics,...hell, even the length of it. If this doesn't get you to put aside your adult issues for a couple minutes and relish complete rock n' roll abandon, there is no hope.

Nick Curran and the Lowlifes - Baby You Crazy mp3 (Note: Right click title to save) at Licorice Pizza (Ignore, if you will, the somewhat stupid look of the photo that accompanies their post. I can get past it, so you should too.)

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Nick Curran & the Lowlifes are the hottest shit I've heard in a while. I should probably leave it at that... Really, I'm surprised that I never heard of them. At first listen, they reminded me of Don & Dewey, an early rock n' roll duo (and label mates with Little Richard). That's probably a little obscure as a reference point, so in trying to come up with something a little more universally understood (rather, less obscure), I narrowed it down to Gerry Roslie (from the Sonics), fronting a hopped-up Blasters, and recorded in an old vintage studio.

As it turns out, I only had to go to their MySpace page to see it all spelled out for me, with the "Official Nick Curran Cocktail Recipe." They name all of the ingredients, and I wasn't far from the mark. Amongst others, they name Little Richard, Glenn Danzig, Gerry Roslie (!), Johnny Watson, Cliff Gallup, Angus Young, 50's B.B. King, and Johnny Ramone. No mention of the Blasters or Don & Dewey, but guess what? Curran is pals with ex-Blaster Phil Alvin, who (of course), covered Don & Dewey's "Justine." So the circle is pretty much complete. (Okay, that's a stretch...) Seriously, if you like high energy, somewhat irreverent, old school rock n' roll, with someone who isn't afraid to shred his vocal chords, this is it.

Nick Curran and the Lowlifes - Kill My Baby mp3, and interview at MOKB
Nick Curran and the Lowlifes - Five videos at Electro Groove Records (NOTE: Start with the last one, "Baby You Crazy,' loud.)
Streaming preview of latest album,"Reform School Girl," (again check "Baby You Crazy") at Electro Groove (bottom of page)
Don & Dewey - Justine mp3, Little Richard - Lucille mp3, and about two dozen other songs the Blasters have covered at Beware of the Blog
Nick Curran & the Lowlifes MySpace page

Monday, May 10, 2010


Oooh yeah, Kraftwerk. The band that always had your rock-only friends scratching there heads ("you like this shit?"). Say what you will, no one has been able to fully replicate their sound: German, mechanical, synthetic and oddly soothing. It's hard to say when they first became acceptably "cool." Back in 1974, when a severely edited "Autobahn" was played on FM stations, stoners and proto-geeks delighted. A few years later, when Bowie and Iggy were recording in Berlin, they were gushing all over them. Bowie went as far as naming a song after Florian Schneider, one of Kraftwerk's co-founders ("V2 Schneider"). Then there was Afrika Bambaataa sampling them in "Planet Rock," an early rap milestone. (It pretty much started the whole "where the fuck did they get that?" brand of unlikely samples). And there's one somewhat refreshing reason to like them: they're not fame whores. They do what they do, exceedingly well, without excessive flash. They pretty much keep their mouths shut and let everybody else try to make sense of it. Those smart passive-marketing Germans...

I came across a handful of videos on Mojo's site, and, if you're into Kraftwerk, a couple of them are noteworthy. There's an early one ("Tanzmusic") when the were still using regular instruments (Florian on flute!), yet still sound like Kraftwerk (pretty amazing how contemporary even that sounds). There's a clip from Top of the Pops, of them playing "Autobahn" (with some slightly annoying voice-over narration). But the humdinger in my book, is just a short part of the "Showroom Dummies" video. Are you ready for this? At 2:07, it's 24 seconds of...Kraftwerk dancing! It's fucking hilarious, had me in stitches, all ten times I watched it. It's some sort of constrained "running man" dance. While they may have been trying to dance like machines, all I could think of was "Wow, they even invented bad dancing."

Kraftwerk's Greatest Clips at Mojo Magazine's site

Kraftwerk - Trans Europe Express mp3 at Loft and Lost
Kraftwerk (early) - Ruckzuck mp3 at The Walrus (+ two Neu!)
Kraftwerk - Man Machine mp3 at Golden Bloggen
Kraftwerk - Radioactivity mp3 at KinoSport
Kraftwerk's Official site
List of sampled Kraftwerk cuts at The Kraftwerk Influence
I Believe the Truth is Out There, another fan site

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


I was entering a chain book/music store about seven years ago, when I was stopped dead in my tracks. Over the sound system, usually reserved for bland current releases, they were playing what sounded like Wanda Jackson. It was "Let's Have A Party," a song I knew well, but it was a different version, so I asked one of the clerks what was playing, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that it was, indeed Wanda Jackson, and that it was a new release. The album, "Heart Trouble," was a return to rock n' roll for Jackson, who for the past several decades had been singing primarily country & western and gospel. After a look at the back cover, and seeing the song listing included collaborations with, amongst others, Dave Alvin and the Cramps (actually just Lux & Ivy), I headed straight to the register. While it wasn't quite as energetic as her records from the late 50's and early 60's, her voice was remarkably the same. (And the addition of Lux & Ivy on "Funnel of Love" makes it sound ten times creepier than the original, which, of course, made it worth the price of admission.)

Since then, she's has been back out playing live, enjoying her "old fart is hip again" period. Well, good for her. Like a lot of my friends, I've dug her for decades (crazy, considering our introduction was well after her "Rockin' With Wanda" days), so it's kinda comforting to hear that familiar voice again. Especially if you thought she'd thrown in the rockin' towel for good. Now comes word that Jack White has produced some new material. The only one I've managed to find is a cover of Amy Winehouse's "You Know That I'm No Good", that sounds exactly like you'd expect, if you know the song and you know Wanda Jackson. In other words, it sounds like Jackson backed by the Daptone horns (which doesn't bode well for White's originality, but sounds swingin' nonetheless).

If you don't know Wanda Jackson's music, you better run yourself right down to the record store and pick up one of the budget priced reissues of her early work. This is essential stuff we're talking about. Oh, and if you're already a Wanda freak, did you know that you can get an autographed 8 x 10 at her website for a paltry seven bucks? Go on, git!

Wanda Jackson - You Know That I'm No Good and Whirlpool mp3s at Tastes Like Caramel
Wanda Jackson - Fujiyama Mama, My Big Iron Skillet, Honey Don't mp3's at 27 Leggies
(Download links at top right of second screen)
Wanda Jackson - Funnel of Love mp3 (right click) at Clumsy & Shy
Wanda Jackson's Official Site
Wanda Jackson's channel on YouTube
Wanda Jackson at the Smithsonian Channel