Wednesday, December 31, 2008

John Cale Before And After The Velvets

Here are two clips involving John Cale, first a beautiful orchestral version of "Paris 1919" performed live in Amsterdam.

Second, a true rarity. This is Cale appearing on the game show "I've Got A Secret" in 1963 long before Andy Warhol or Lou Reed entered his life. The secret here is that he was part of a rare full length 18 hour performance of Erik Satie's "Vexations". After the panel does their guessing he then plays one run through of the piece on piano. Never mind that there's some snickering in the audience. Can you imagine any major network TV show today so much as mentioning Erik Satie much less letting somebody perform his music?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Texas - Black Eyed Boy

This is a video from Texas, a Scottish group that was big in the 90's. I know the song is ersatz Motown. It still sounds good though.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Clarke Boland Big Band

This is a clip by a big band best known in Europe in the Sixties, the Clarke-Boland Big Band even though they had a lot of famous American musicians in their ranks, including the co-leader drummer Kenny Clarke. This piece is called "Sax No End" and it showcases the incredible sax section this band had, each member introduced individually in the clip.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bill Le Sage

This is something interesting I found yesterday from a 1960's British TV show called Jazz 625. The group is a jazz with classical influences band called Bill Le Sage's New Directions In Jazz. Le Sage, who plays piano and vibes here, was a well-travelled musician on the British scene who doesn't seem to have ever recorded as a leader which is a shame. This group sounds pretty close to some of the Third Stream experiments John Lewis and Gunther Schuller were doing in America and I would have loved to have heard an album in this vein.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Captain

This just plain compelled me to post it, the one and only Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band, "I'm Gonna Booglarize You Baby". (By the way this is the more commercial sounding version of the band.)

Procol Harum - Pandora's Box

A video by Procol Harum but not one of the early songs. This is "Pandora's Box" from 1975, their last hit before disbanding the first time. BY this time I think Gary Brooker may have been the only original member left in the band.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Scott Walker

I'm finally getting around to posting something by Scott Walker. This is his first solo TV appearance singing Jacques Brel's "Mathilde" on a show hosted by Dusty Springfield. The quality of the clip isn't great but it's the best version I could find.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Portishead - Humming

There are a lot of Portishead videos on YouTube but a lot of the official ones are disabled, including the video for their masterpiece, "Glory Box". Here instead is a characteristically creepy one for "Humming".

Friday, December 19, 2008

More Steeleye

Here is another Steeleye Span clip, this from a 1988 reunion concert. The song is one of my favorites, "Thomas The Rhymer". As for Maddy Pryor's looks in this, I can just say "Wow!".

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Santa Claus, the Dutch way

For the season here is a version of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town". The singer is a Dutch woman named Joke Bruijs but the atraction for me here is the harmonica player, Hermine Duerloo who also puts in time in the madcap Willem Breuker Kollektief.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Elis Regina - Aguas de Marco

This is something I stumbled across yesterday, Antonio Carlos Jobim's song "Aguas de Marco" aka "Waters Of March" sung by a Brazilian singer I'd heard of but never really listened to before, Elis Regina. It was always a great song but she puts a lilt and coolness to it that adds extra magic.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Calling You - Holly Cole

This is a magnificent song that gets far too little attention, "Calling You" from the movie Bagdad Cafe. The performance is by Canadian singer Holly Cole.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Second Birth Same As The First

When I saw that DJ Spooky's Rebirth Of A Nation was coming to DVD I was anxious to see. DJ Spooky, real name Paul D. Miller, is known for reworking all sorts of sonic concepts including speeches and and avant garde jazz and this was his reworking of D.W. Griffith's infamous film, Birth Of A Nation, supposedly in a way that emphasized the film's underlying racism and tied it in to the present. Now I've seen the disc and my first thought was "That was it?".

The only real modifications are an interesting score performed by the Kronos Quartet occasional computer graphics to emphasize certain characters and scenes and editing about a hour out of the film that tightens the story. Other than that there is narration that calls attention to the film being a distortion of history that canonizes the Ku Klux Klan and portrays black people as either loyal childlike servants or lustful brutes out to defile white women. The thing is that any modern person with a brain in his head could see all that without having someone draw pointedtly draw attention to the facts.

I saw Birth Of A Nation in a unversity film class back in the Seventies and there the entire class took note of the film craft but laughed at the now-absurd portrayal of the Klan as heroes. It was obvious then and it's obvious today. Of course that was an era when the Civil Rights struggles were still fresh in people's minds and movies like Blazing Saddles really lampooned racism.

What really annoyed me about the DVD presentation was that it came off like this propaganda had always been taken seriously without any dissenting viewpoint ever arising since 1915. In reality black society denounced the film almost as soon as it came out. One particular section with a white Southern family in a cabin besieged by black soldiers actually reminded me of a film that came out a mere five years after Birth, Within Our Gates by early black filmmarker Oscar Micheaux. I don't know if it was meant as a response to Birth but it did have a similar scene that was far more based in reality with jealous Southern whites terrorizing and burning out a successful black family. It even included the grim image of a lynched black man. No, it certainly wasn't as well known as Birth but it shows that alternatives to Birth's idyllic white South have always been out there.

The Tee Set

I mentioned 1970's short lived "Dutch Invasion" a few weeks ago. Here is one of the other bands that was a part of it, The Tee Set, doing their biggest (in relative terms) American hit, "My Belle Amie".

Monday, December 8, 2008

Beth Gibbons - Funny Time Of Year

I was clued into this gem by my favorite film writer, Tim Lucas of Video Watchdog magazine on his blog. This is Beth Gibbons from one of my favorite bands, Portishead, and her solo Rustin Man project performing the song "Funny Time Of Year". I never even knew this band had played live. This sounds like Sylvia Plath singing with Pink Floyd.


As I've said before an amazing amount of old and obscure TV shows are being released on DVD. One of the recently surprising to me is a cop show called Brenner.

This wasn't even a regular series. It was a CBS summer replacement show that premiered in 1959 and was repeated in subsequent years until new episodes appeared in 1964, all as summer series. The hook of the show was that it was about father and son policemen in New YOrk Coty, Roy and Ernie BRenner, played by Edward Binns and James Broderick. It was unsusal for its day in that at least the five episodes I've seen so far weren't the usual crime stories, butg dealt more with the personal lives and attitudes of policemen than any other show of the time that I know of. There were episodes about a cop ashamed of a hoodlum father, a police captain with a thieveing son, a DA pressuring a cop to lie and so on. It did as well with these stories as you could in a half hour time frame and had a nice low-key New York flavor but the show's most distinctive feature may have been its theme song, a haunting atonal duet of kettle drums and bassoon.

The few episodes I saw had some familiar faces but mostly familiar character actors like Robert Webber, George Matthews, Michael Conrad and JOhn Karlen later best known as Willie Loomis in the Dark Shadows series. There were two "Before They Were Stars" type appearances though, Gene Hackman appearing uncredited as a uniformed patrolman and Grandpa Munster himself, Al Lewis, as a hood.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Culture clashing

This is what you got in the 60's when that strange music called rock and roll was infiltrating the scene and television had little idea what to make of it. Here is the Vanilla Fudge doing their biggest hit, "You Keep Me Hanging On", on a TV show hosted by Ray Anthony, a big band trumpeter whose own biggest hit had been a version of the "Dragnet" theme back in the 50's. Anthony is game in his introduction but he sounds like he has no idea what to make of this band. The slow motion go-go dancers also make a nice production touch.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Godlike Genius of Spike Milligan

Spike Milligan is probably the seminal figure in post-World War II British comedy. He took the Irish penchant for absurdity (See also: James Joyce, Laurence Sterne, Samuel Beckett) and used it to create head-spinning, brilliant insane comedy. His most famous and enduring project was the radio program, The Goon Show and he was an inspiration to the Monty Python crew and generations of comic writers and performers. He also did a lot of TV work, none of which to my knowledge has made it to DVD yet. Here is a bit of lunacy from his show, Q5.