9/30/08

Clap for the Wolfman

What's that you say? Halloween is right around the corner and you're looking for a few good songs on lycanthropy? Well, look no further.

"Reynardine" by Fairport Convention (1969) may be my favorite. The song dates back to at least 1800 and concerns a "werefox". Sandy Denny and band do an amazing job capturing the haunting mood. One of these days I need to do a post on British folk music from the late 1960's and early 1970's - some incredible recordings came out of bands like Fairport Convention, Pentangle and Steeleye Span which is woefully under appreciated in the U.S..




Of course there's the Warren Zevon classic "Werewolves of London".




And the Ozzy Osbourne song "Bark at the Moon". Click here to see him lip-synching to it on Top of the Pops.

David Naughton from An American Werewolf in London had a short lived career in music before starring in the John Landis film. His cheesy disco song "Makin' It" was successful enough to spawn a horrible TV show. Hey, I know it's not about werewolves, but it's close enough for me.




Speaking of An American Werewolf in London, the movie's soundtrack has a bunch of moon themed songs like "Moondance" by Van Morrison and "Blue Moon". My favorite moon song has to be "Moonlight Feels Right" by Starbuck. Gotta love that vibraphone.




If you want a more comprehensive list of werewolf music just go here to the Werewolf Cafe. I don't recognize ninety percent of the songs listed there, but what do I know? - I'm more of a David Naughton than Danzig kind of guy anyway.

9/29/08

Fads #3: When Musicians Got Hairy


I love to look at pictures of bands from the mid-sixties -they looked like such clean cut gentlemen. Then something happened around the end of the decade. By 1970, these bands became almost unrecognizable from their former fresh faces. These dapper young men all of a sudden became greasy hippies!

The perfect examples are the famous 1963 and 1969 pictures of the Beatles taken in a stairwell at EMI. The two images were wonderfully merged as shown above. (found here) It's striking to think that it was just a matter of six years between the two photos.

Another example is The Young Rascals, who changed their name to The Rascals and two of them got a whole lot hairier. They also mercifully ditched their Little Lord Fauntleroy outfits!

Another striking transformation was the psychedelic group, Marmalade. Look at one of my previous posts and see their metamorphosis from clean cut lads to unshaven stoners. Thankfully, they decided to no longer go by the name of The Gaylords!


Well, who are these fine young men trimming the Christmas tree? Why, it's the Beach Boys all dappered up in sweaters and slacks for the holidays!
Surely, such an upstanding group of gentlemen would never become a bunch of hippies. Right?

Wrong.

By 1979 Dennis Wilson was looking more like Charles Manson than Charles Manson!

Look here at an earlier post to see jazz flutist Herbie Mann go from mild-mannered nerd to oily sex machine.

My favorite hairy metamorphosis would have to be the Bee-Gees. From dapper gents to jive-talkin' kings of the chest hair. It's a wonder what a decade will do!

9/28/08

That Peaceful Easy Feeling

Anyone remember when almost every store was closed on Sunday? I do. Today (Sunday) I went grocery shopping and it was mobbed - in fact, grocery stores and Wal-Mart claim that Sundays are their best shopping days. We used to chill on Sunday. Now we're busting our ass all week long.

Well, I say it's time to slow down dammit. Life is too short. You've got to stop and smell the roses. Don't know how, you say? Well, here's the retrospace prescription - simply watch and/or listen to these recommendations and that peaceful easy feeling you once knew will be back again.

First, it all begins with Bob Ross. I don't care how stressed you are, this guy'll take care of what's ailing you. Watch a few episodes of The Joy of Painting, and you'll be saying "rat race, shmat race" whilst popping a cool one.

I once saw ol' Bob pull a small animal from under his shirt. The tiny woodland creature then burrowed in his thick billowing afro. Bob didn't mind, and kept on painting. True story.

In the world of Bob Ross, there are no costly errors and horrible mistakes - only "happy accidents". If only we could all have Bob as our boss.

The next step is to listen to some relaxing music. I want you to get your iPod and delete everything and replace all that Jay-Z crap with the soothing sounds of the seventies...





I don't know if it was all that marijuana smoke or they were just plain tired after the 60's revolutions, but music in the 70's was more often than not, ultra mellow.

Take for instance the Helen Reddy song above, "Peaceful". Let's not forget she was prone to sing about getting high on mescaline (see a previous post). In this song she proclaims:


'cause it's oh, so peaceful here
There's no one bending over my shoulder
Nobody breathing in my ear
Oh, so peaceful here

So many artists made a living off capturing that peaceful easy feeling. Jimmy Buffet wrote song after song about getting wasted on the high seas. John Denver sang about snow covered mountains and the open sky. Seals & Crofts sang about hummingbirds and summer breezes and Bread could sing about nuclear annihilation and it would sound soothing to the ear.

"Summer Breeze" by Seals & Crofts

See the curtains hangin' in the window
In the evening on a Friday night
A little light-a-shinin' through the window
Lets me know everything's all right
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin' through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin' though the jasmine in my mind
See the paper layin' on the sidewalk
A little music from the house next door
So I walk on up to the doorstep
Through the screen and across the floor...




Can you imagine a song like this being popular today? The lyrics are amazing at capturing that mellow feeling of the seventies.... far, far from the maddening crowds.

Sprinkle a little Seals & Crofts (and maybe a touch of Gordon Lightfoot) with your Bob Ross, and you are well on your way along the Carefree Hightway.

You're welcome.

9/27/08

Existentialism in the Sunday Funnies

Ever had a chance to visit Garfield Minus Garfield? It's a site dedicated to removing Garfield from the Garfield comic strips in order to reveal the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle. It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb.

It really is amazing how the strip takes on a whole new meaning with Garfield out of the picture. Peanuts, with no alterations needed, could be very poignant and philosophical. Of course, no one waxes existential like my main man, Calvin.

Then there's The Nietzsche Family Circus. The site pairs a randomized Family Circus cartoon with a randomized Friedrich Nietzsche quote.

For example this picture came up with the quote: You have evolved from worm to man, but much within you is still worm. Once you were apes, yet even now man is more of an ape than any of the apes.

Not usually very funny, but read enough of them and you'll start laughing nihilistically.

This next one's not exactly existential, but I love Marmaduke Explained. Each panel of Marmaduke is given a hilarious commentary, often leading to disturbing realizations about this famous dog and his owners. For example:

Commentary: Marmaduke is bi-curious. And not the least bit shy about it.

And speaking of cartoons, I made this little picture after watching the debate last night.

As you can see, I'm getting to be pretty cynical and jaded. I need to snap out of it. What I need is a little more Ziggy in my life....

9/26/08

It Should Have Been Easy

It really should have been a slam dunk for Obama. Even conservative Pat Buchanan said Obama should have had the upper hand considering the current state of the nation.

The Republican president has approval ratings consistently around twenty percent.
We are in the midst of an unpopular war.
The bottom just fell out of the economy.
Oil prices (and subsequently the cost of living) are going through the roof.
And so on...

McCain is a Republican, has voted concordant with his party almost without fail, and has been a part of the regime which, in all fairness, must take a lot of the responsibility for the mess we're in. All things considered, Obama should have eaten McCain for breakfast, yet he seemed to be on the defensive for most of the debate. What gives?

That being said, he did come off well - so there shouldn't be any complaints from the Obama camp. It's just that it could easily have been a blow out.

Then again, what do I know? I just wrote a post about a shirtless Telly Savalas. I'll try to stick to retro crap in the future, but I just couldn't help myself tonight.

Maybe Going Shirtless Wasn't Such a Good Idea

I like Telly Savalas. I'm a fan of his television and film work, and even like his music, so I mean no disrespect... but what the hell? This is just wrong.


The band claims they weren't completely nude - they had jeans on. But given that even their name is a lie (they're from Buffalo not Orleans), can they be trusted?

Well, let's hope that at least one one of them is trustworthy considering the man in the center is John Hall of the 19th Congressional District of New York.

For other horrible examples of album cover manscaping, go here (if you dare).

Thanks for the Orleans pictures and info what's the point?

Here's a little story for you before you go:

Once upon a time there was a timid young lad named Herbie Mann. He wore glasses, played the flute, and released nice albums like Yardbird Suite....


.... then the 1970's arrived and Herbie grew up. He ditched the glasses, made albums about sex, and turned his flute into a giant phallus.

The end.

9/25/08

Fact or Fiction #5: Was Monroe Raped by a Pack of Women in the Back of a Van?

Someone with way too much time on his hands wants to know. My last few posts have focused on the "fact or fiction" theme and, unfortunately, it still isn't out of my system. I am plagued by the memory of a Too Close for Comfort episode where the ever-so-gay Monroe Ficus is raped in the back of a van by a group of women. Whether this really happened, I can't say for sure - it just seems too bizarre to have really occured. Yet, there are many people out there with the same vague memory (many of you have thankfully repressed it). Well, I've tried to do some research and come up completely empty. There's a bunch of people out there wondering the same thing (notably at Jump the Shark and the AV Club), but no definitive answers yet. Supposedly, on the VH-1 show "Super Secret TV Formulas" episode 1 there is an actual clip and comment on this legendary scene. However, I haven't been able to confirm it, or find a clip of it on YouTube. What was it with all those sitcoms during this period? Why did they think sexual assault would make a good topic for a zany sit-com? Yet, there's numerous examples. My favorite (or should I say, worst) was the episode of Diff'rent Strokes where Gordon Jump plays a pedophile bicycle shop owner. I'm still recovering from that one.

If you have an answer to the infamous Monroe rape scene, please let me know. Also, (so that I can put the whole "fact or fiction" thing to rest) if you get a chance to look at this picture - I am real curious if it's a fake. It's from a post back in June, but no one really read my blog back then, and so I never got a response. The picture features a group of groovy looking secretaries and one is holding a picket sign that says "Long Copies, Short Copies, Dimensional Copies" with the letters LSD standing out. Is the drug reference real or Photoshop? Retrospace wants to know.

9/23/08

Fact or Fiction #4

This Star Wars trading card would seem to give us our answer. C-3PO should definitely think about slipping into a pair of slacks, or maybe some cargo pants ... something.


According to StarWars.com, the picture was taken at the exact instant a piece of the robot costume fell off - lining up perfectly and giving the illusion of a fully erect robot penis. Hmmm... I'm not sure I'm buying this explanation. Snopes isn't buying into the explanation either.

This reminds me of the Infamous Sears 1975 Peek-a-Boo Catalog Controversy where a male model on page 602 appears to be sporting more than just underwear, if you know what I mean. Click on the image to enlarge (sorry about the pun). Also, check out Plaid Stallions for more info on it.


And finally, speaking of unintentional exposures, there was the infamous episode 161 of Three's Company where Jack Tripper is wearing a pair of loose fitting shorts and plops down onto a bed, revealing some of John's Ritters, so to speak. The incident yielded one of my favorite quotes of all time. When asked by The New York Observer whether they should edit the scene for future broadcasts, Ritter responded:
"I've requested that Nickelodeon air both versions, edited and unedited, because sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you don't."

Fact or Fiction #3: The Legend of the Screaming Funk Model

Snopes.com is great at taking all the enjoyment out of our urban legends. It's much more fun to believe that they might actually be true - reality is often so much more mundane. Here Snopes tries to totally ruin one of my favorite legends regarding the funk band, the Ohio Players.

The legend goes that the girl featured on the fold-out cover of their Honey album was brutally murdered. Her screams can be heard at the beginning of their song "Love Rollercoaster".
As to exactly how she was killed and how the screams ever got recorded depends on who's telling the story. One thing is for certain, the scream sounds completely out of place. It's blood curdling - not something you'd expect to hear in the background of a lively funk song. Snopes has an audio clip of that portion of the song for those of you who haven't heard it.

Perusing the internet, it won't take you long to find a wonderful variation on the story. For example:


A girl wanting to become a model runs
away from her family. They never hear from her. The Ohio Players see her and use her for their album "Honey". The album cover depicts the model nude and kneeling in glass while drizzling honey over herself. The glass was actually fiberglass. When it mixed with the honey, it caused a chemical reaction, causing the fiberglass to be bonded to the girl's legs. She tried tearing it off of her legs, but only succeeded in tearing the skin off. This ruined her hopes of ever becoming a professional model. Clearly she was pissed off. So she ran into the studio where the band was recording "Love Rollercoaster". She was screaming at them, claiming
she would sue them for everything theywere worth. The band's manager dragged her outside the studio, and murdered her. Her screaming was audible, evern oustide the studio and the band left the sound there as "a sick tribute".
Whether the frightening screams are from the Honey model is certainly up for debate. Supposedly, the model is Ester Cordet, who was a stewardess at the time and the October 1974 Playmate of the Month. Apparently, she is currently married to this smarmy guy, Robert Ringer.


His bio on his website says: "Ringer is the author of three #1 bestsellers, two of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time. All of his books combined have been read by more than 10 million people worldwide." Not surprisingly, there's nothing said about his oft-naked wife.

Interestingly, the Honey model was photographed by Richard Fegley, who had also photographed Sharon Tate - another model brutally killed.... you see where I'm going with this. Embellishing urban legends can be fun!

At least there's one urban legend out there that Snopes hasn't demolished yet - the freakish face under the bed at the beginning of the conjoined twins comedy, Stuck on You. Kindertrauma has a nice little post on it. Click on the image to enlarge or go here to see an enlarged image that's been lightened to see the face better.



9/22/08

Morticia & Co.

We're closing in on October, so I'm in the mood for something a little bit horror related. Here's a list of some of my favorite goth queens and ghoulish gals who take a page from the Morticia Addams playbook.

First up is, of course, Morticia Addams: Originally a comic strip, the character was played to perfection by Carolyne Jones, ex wife of Aaron Spelling. I really love Combustible Edison's groovy lounge-tastic tune "Morticia's Theme".



Lily Munster: Yvonne DeCarlo is probably more glamorous and beautiful than anyone in this list. She had quite the resume before becoming a Munster including being Moses' wife in The Ten Commandments.

Check out The Drunken Severed Head's post on Yvonne, which includes a link to her record Yvonee DeCarlo Sings.
Click here to check out probably the best spot for good quality vintage photos of DeCarlo.


Elvira: Cassandra Peterson is literally the queen of all media. She's done everything from "The Fall Guy" to Coors beer commercials, to hosting her own show, to having her own pinball machine, to starring in movies... you name it, she's done it. She claims to have even slept with Elvis.

Below is a clip from her days hosting "Midnight Madness", where she would basically lounge on a couch and say horrible puns. It was great fun, though, and this clip really shows why: not only do viewers enjoy the lovely Elvira, but they got to learn some fun trivia about the movie being shown.



Siouxsie Sioux: The first media appearance of Siouxsie Sioux came on Bill Grundy's show where he made a flirtatious comment towards her. As it happens, The Sex Pistols were also present and Steve Jones calls the host a "dirty sod" (among other things) on live television. This incident caused a public scandal and ultimately led to the demise of the Pistols. Click here to view it - I find it hilarious when the closing elevator music fades over the drunken cursing punk mayhem happening onstage. Definitely worth a look.

Vampira: Before there was Elvira, there was Vampira (Maila Nurmi). For a truly bizarre little clip check out Vampira dancing with Liberace - there's no sound, but very odd indeed. I was surprised to learn she was pretty well connected. She dated Orson Wells, was good friends with James Dean and married the guy who would later write Dirty Harry.

Lydia Deetz: Winona Ryder's character in the film Beetlejuice; also featured in the animated series. Basically a goth girl icon.





Bella LaGhostley from one of my favorite cartoons, The Groovie Goolies. Do you notice a faint resemblance to Vampira?





and finally...
Bellatrix LeStrange
: An evil character from the popular Harry Potter series. She is played by Helena Bonham Carter in the films (whom I happened to meet at a Barnes & Noble.... sorry for the namedropping, but I thought it was really, really cool).

9/20/08

Fact or Fiction #2: The Mysterious Mrs. Drake


More elusive than Bigfoot, more perplexing than the identity of Jack the Ripper, I give you..... Joyce!

The hunt for the woman behind this infamous record has been ongoing for years. A favorite among aficionados of bad album covers, the true identity of "Joyce" remains a mystery.


Knock it all you want, tracking down and identifying these mysterious figures from old record covers can be very interesting.
Take for example, Beverly Massagee (pictured to the left), who ended up possibly being a central figure associated with the JFK assassination (read about about it in a previous post).


Here's a few theories and speculations on the enigmatic Joyce.

It is believed that her full name is Joyce Drake.

There is evidence to support that she was the pastor's wife at First Assembly of God in Sealy, Texas during the 1970's.

This gravestone could mark the final resting place of an offspring of the mysterious Mrs. Drake, but a 1924 date of birth would seem too early.
There is speculation that it could be simply a persona - that of British actress, Maureen Lipman, who used to put on a one-woman show called Joyce!, where she was made-up to look similar to the woman depicted on the album. However, this is just speculation at this point.
By the way, Joyce! is based on the life of actress, comedian, and singer/songwriter Joyce Grenfell. The talented Grenfell appeared in the 1963 Hammer remake of James Whale's classic The Old Dark House.
You can listen to a song from her album here. There are only ten known copies in existence, so savor every word.

9/19/08

I Was Born in a Crossfire Hurricane

I just noticed that the new Classic Rock magazine is releasing their "greatest rock movies of all time" issue. Seems like every magazine has to unveil some silly list every other month. Well, I'm pretty sure the Rolling Stones film, Cocksucker Blues, probably didn't make their list.

If the Rolling Stones had their way, this 1972 documentary of a debauchery-filled tour would never have seen the light of day. As it stands, it can only be seen via bootleg copies and YouTube (here). This quote from Film Threat:

Because of a bizarre court order, Robert Frank’s legendary Rolling Stones documentary is the most underground of all underground films: it literally can’t be shown unless the director is present at the screening, and even then with much legal difficulty. This makes such screenings more precious than a layman’s chance to see the insides of a Mormon church.

... and this quote from director Robert Frank:

Jagger, I suspect, wasn't so much afraid of the film's lurid and potentially incriminating images -- the heroin use, Jagger masturbating, or even the extended sequence of questionably consensual group sex with a reluctant groupie at 30,000 feet (after all, this was rock and roll) -- what Mick probably found most disturbing was the bleak and accurate portrait of the obvious despair and loneliness of life on the road. Frank's obsession with pursuing truth destroyed the illusion of glamour for the world's most famous rock and roll band. (source here)

A few good places to read about it are: a TIME magazine article called "The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen" and here at the culture court.

Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, commenting on Cocksucker Blues, called it "definitely one of the best movies about rock and roll I've ever seen. . . . It makes you think being a rock and roll star is one of the last things you'd ever want to do."

... and speaking of the Rolling Stones: Rock and Roll Circus is another good rock flick to check out. The funny thing about this one is that the Stones are the least interesting musicians in it. The Who put on an absolutely unbelievable performance, totally upstaging the Stones in their own movie! That's why it took so long to get released, and that's why you should watch it.

9/18/08

2 Songs About Something (#5): Nature

1. "The Eagle and the Hawk" by John Denver

At the 1975 CMA ceremony Charlie Rich was supposed to announce the Entertainer of the Year Award. Instead of reading the name of the winner, John Denver, Charlie pulled out a cigarette lighter and lit fire to the envelope.

What a dick move.

John Denver has been unjustly maligned over the years, and it is really a sad shame. Denver's music was obviously from the heart, and spoke to some inner longings deep within all of us - for the simple life, for a less materialistic life, for the pleasures of nature. I think the artsy fartsy types hated it because it often happened to be wholesome (eegad!). At least Charlie Rich had an excuse - he was drunk off his ass.

Denver could be wholesome as in "This Old Guitar", but he was also brilliant at capturing the majesty of nature. "The Eagle and the Hawk" is perhaps his best example at doing just that.

John Denver - The Eagle and the Hawk .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine

2. "Seven Island Suite" by Gordon Lightfoot

In "Rocky Mountain High", Denver proclaims his regret at man's destruction of nature, and his delight at the joy which nature can bring.

And the Colorado rocky mountain high
I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky
I know he'd be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly
Rocky mountain high


Do you remember that anti-pollution ad with Chief Iron Eyes Cody? I think it was so effective because it was so true - deep down we know what we are doing is not right.

This is a blog and not a public service announcement, so I'll refrain from pontificating. However, I will say that Gordon Lightfoot touches the subject of man's disconnect with nature in "Seven Island Suite" better than any song ever written. Jethro Tull's entire Into the Woods LP doesn't compare to one stanza of Lightfoot's masterpiece.


Living high in the city, guess you think it's a pretty good way
You get to learn but when you get burned you got nothing to say
You seem to think because you got chicken to go you're in luck
Fortune will not find you in your mansion or your truck
Brothers will desert you when you're down and shit out of luck

Laugh at Lightfoot all you want for his "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", Gordon in his Sundown days kicked some ass. In "Seven Island Suite" he rejects all the hollow frills that life in the city has to offer. But what's the alternative to modern day materialism? Lightfoot has the solution:


It's time you tried living on the high side of the bay, you need a rest
Any woman or a man with a wish to fade away could be so blessed

He's not talking about a trip to the Hamptons. It sounds cliche, but he's talking about a trip inside yourself - and the only way your going to find yourself is by getting out of the fast lane, and taking a stroll amongst the trees....