You’ll have to excuse me for raising this odious question, but in the interest of complete honesty and for the good of rock ‘n roll, here goes:
For god knows what reason a recent issue of Rolling Stone has a cobbled together piece on The Clash. I love The Clash and for years read everything I could on them, but there came a point when I could no longer stomach another hashed-over exercise in myth-making. Tell me something I don’t know already, maybe even some details on how particular records were made. Instead, as this Rolling Stone article does, it’s more of the same-old, same-old: band members from broken homes, The 101’ers, Keith Levene and the London SS, the dawn of Thatcherism, idealism of The Clash contrasted with the nihilism of the Sex Pistols, Bernie Rhodes, the sprawling blah blah blah of London Calling, etc. Enough! The same goes for another one of my favorite bands, The Beatles.
I’m finishing a biography of Elvis Presley, written by one of his Memphis Mafia cronies. I think this is the first Memphis Mafia memoir I’ve read. His close personal friends shed new light on the man. Last night I read about the time he smoked pot. For me, at least, there may be plenty more to learn about the King. I feel the same way about Bob Dylan. Until I see a police report and photos from his motorcycle accident, I hold out hope for learning new details about this great artist.
For what favorite artist would you like to see a moratorium placed on new biographies? Is there anything new you may learn about one of these artists? Perhaps a fellow Townsperson can revive your interest in reading a new biography on said artist. For instance, if anyone can tell me a single new thing about The Clash that I don’t know already, I’ll promise to finish reading this boring Rolling Stone article.
Mach schau practioner Roy Head appears, briefly, in a book I’m currently reading, Elvis: My Best Man, by George Klein with an old college friend and musical mentor, Chuck Crisafulli. I thought of Townman hrrundivbakshi when I read the following passage. Rather than share it with him alone or post it on my damn Facebook page, beneath the all-important photos from the life of a 47-year-old, white, middle-class man, I invite all of you to admire the following tale of Mach schau!
One of my long-unfulfilled rock performance dreams is to have a gig in which my band sets up and “performs” in rehearsal mode: that is, facing each other, playing for each other, having the right to stop songs in midstream, adjust part of an arrangement, and criticize each other. We would completely block out the crowd and just do our thing, the way our thing is meant to be done.
Every once in a while I stumble across a video of an artist rehearsing for a gig or studio recording. I LOVE THIS STUFF! As a music lover, I’m as interested in experiencing what goes on behind closed doors as I am listening to or making music myself, also behind closed doors. Don’t get me wrong, the thrill of playing out or seeing a band out in the wild can be tremendous, but there are less opportunities for catching knowing glances, intimate gestures, and tossed-off asides and fills.
Today I kick off what I hope will be an occasional series on just such rehearsal tapes. Come with me, to a 1970 Elvis Presley and band rehearsal of “Santa Claus Is Back in Town” as part of his Las Vegas International Hotel stint. Dig the wide-collared, printed and striped shirts that have me salavating each time I watch this! Dig Elvis working “blue” around the 37-second mark! Dig the rhythm guitarist’s supreme concentration following that ad lib! Dig the knowing glance of the guy playing the Telecaster following a little guitar slide, at the 1:01 mark! Just dig it in ways no concert film will allow you to dig musicians in action!
In the above clip, one of Prog-Rock’s Sexiest Men, Chris Squire, and Yes bandmates Steve Howe and Alan White, humorously discuss the halcyon days of rock cape-wear. It’s fitting that they should have the first word on the matter because, along with their bandmate Rick Wakeman, they took The Cape about as far as it has gone in rock ‘n roll history to date. The Cape is our latest subject in an ongoing series assessing of Rock’s Unfulfilled Fashion Ideas. Maybe you can help us better understand the cape’s appeal and possible resurgence in rock ‘n roll style.
Recently I had the pleasure of being contracted to design the art for the latest release by Philly phaves, Nixon’s Head. The Enemies List (available for purchase here) cover was an exercise of almost pure creativity. Listening and then designing.
The back cover though was a joy for different reasons. The band wanted the back to be a take on the back of The Beatles Rubber Soul. (I derive an odd pleasure from finding/duplicating just the right font.)
This got me thinking about album parodies and more specifically album backs. There are loads and loads of album parodies. Not the least of which include Townsman mrclean’s band, The Dead Milkmen’s Smokin’ Banana Peels cover: