Le Blues De Memphis

A terrific clip making the rounds, featuring studio footage from FAME and Stax, plus an Isaac Hayes-led horn section rehearsal — in a conference room.


And be sure to check out more from Spike Priggen‘s Scopitones/Bedazzled treasure trove.

— CL

Dean Carter and the link between Elvis and Chrome

Dean Carter! It was Wayne Rogers, guitar shredder for Major Stars/Crystalized Movements/Twisted Village label who first pointed me to the wild sounds of this nutzoid Illinois shoulda-been-a-rockabilly legend; upon first listen of his 1967 take on “Jailhouse Rock” and its overloaded guitar destruction I can understand Wayne’s being stoked. Carter’s psycho-beat approach not only reflected a crossover into some of the more fuzzified primitive garage rock of the era, but a wider worldview that mirrored (intentionally or not) the expansive basement soundworld of Joe Meek.

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Why Empty Stores?

Our friend and photographer/artist, Wolfy,  has been in Cleveland recently. Visit his blog on the changing face of Euclid Square Mall in Ohio.


You Have to be Lazy

The Los Angeles Review of Books has published an extraordinary essay on Townes Van Zandt by Aretha Sills. The essay is part memoir, part interview, and part meditation on the ethics of interviews. In her snapshot of Townes’ final few years, Sills shows how easily our efforts to connect as mere human beings can be derailed by the masks we wear: “artist”, “journalist”, “fan”, “tortured soul”.

— CL

Van Halen at Cafe Wha?

A few years ago, a friend took me to see Van Halen at Madison Square Garden. It was a special gig: after a couple of decades, and years of rumors, the band had reunited with its original singer, “Diamond” David Lee Roth.

The beers at the Garden are size XL.

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The Last Holiday

An excerpt from Gil Scott-Heron’s forthcoming posthumous memoir is available at the Independent.

— CL

The Hag’s Pickers

I’ve been really enjoying the guitar playing on the early Merle Haggard records. Hard to find information on who plays what on specific songs; I know Roy Nichols was a mainstay on Telecaster for the Strangers. And wikipedia lists James Burton in the credits on Swinging Doors.

Here is some terrific footage of Merle’s group at a California honkytonk in the mid-60s. It’s from a PBS special on another Tele-master, Roy Buchanan, who taught Robbie Robertson everything he knew about pinch harmonics when the two of them were backing up Ronnie Hawkins.

— CL


Crosby, Still, Nash, Young…and Jones?

A totally unexpected delight. SS tells me TJ sang lead on this because Crosby was still too devastated by girlfriend Christine Hinton’s recent death in a car accident. I’ll stop here as the performance speaks for itself…


— CL

10 Films

Leaving aside the classics (Woodstock, The Kids Are Alright, Rust Never Sleeps, Don’t Look Back, Monterey Pop, Performance, Cocksucker Blues, This Is Spinal Tap, The Last Waltz), here are 10 (or so) great music films to check out:

Two Lane Blacktop (1971)–not a music film per se, although it stars James Taylor and Dennis Wilson–but I always think of this laconic road movie as kind of a tour film without the concerts…and the look and attitude of Taylor and Wilson’s characters anticipates the blank generation punk vibe too…

The World’s Greatest Sinner (1962)–written, directed and starring character actor Timothy Carey (http://www.absolutefilms.net/tim_carey/psychotronics.html), playing an insurance salesman who quits his job to became a Presley-style singer/messiah-figure; with a score by a very young Frank Zappa

Payday (1973)–Rip Torn as a country star on the way down; written by cult novelist Don Carpenter, makes Crazy Heart (which I liked) look like Hee Haw…

Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2008)–feel-good documentary about terminal loser (or is the proper term “hoser”?) Canadian metal band from the 80s who never gave up no matter what; after the film came out AC/DC picked them to open a world tour!

Groupies (1970)–amazing doc about the NY/LA groupie scenes with great club footage of Joe Cocker doing “Delta Lady” and an astounding glimpse of Ten Years After’s Alvin Lee mauling his guitar with a drumstick–an unlikely antecedent to messrs Moore & Ranaldo, but the camera doesn’t lie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIy3m9XuuoQ

A Film About Jimi Hendrix (1973)–made by producer Joe Boyd, some cool and unexpected talking heads (including Lou Reed) discussing Hendrix only a year or two after he died, plus great concert footage

Rock My Religion (1982–84)–video by artist Dan Graham that synthesizes the Shakers, Jerry Lee Lewis, JIm Morrison, Patti Smith, hardcore punk and Sonic Youth, essential viewing (and reading, it came from his essay of the same name). Dan also made a video of a Minor Threat show at Great Guildersleeves c. 1982 that is, for my money, the best hardcore punk footage anywhere…

Decline of Western Civilization (1981)–Penelope Spheeris’ doc of the original LA punk scene, with X, Black Flag, the Germs, etc. Bracing, to say the least; totally changed my life when I saw it at the Quad on 13th St. upon release

The Buddy Holly Story/American Hot Wax (both 1978)–my two favorite Hollywood 50s rock movies, which I also saw in the late 70s when they first came out. Not many people know that Gary Busey, Don Stroud, and Charles Martin Smith actually play the instruments themselves in the Buddy Holly movie–and Don Stroud had never played drums before! American Hot Wax is the Alan Freed story, and was directed by Floyd Mutrux, who does a lot of Broadway jukebox musicals now but back in 1971 made a semi-doc about LA street life called Dusty and Sweets McGee which is one of my favorite movies (and has a “Solid Gold Weekend” oldies radio soundtrack which predates the similar device in American Graffiti by two years)

All Dolled Up (2005)–available as a DVD, photographer Bob Gruen’s video footage of the New York Dolls’ first (and only?) trip to LA; for a similar video look at Memphis around the same time (including appearances by the legendary Jim Dickinson), see Stranded in Canton (1974/restored 2008) by William Eggleston (another photographer, who took the photos on Big Star’s Radio City and Alex Chilton’s Like Flies On Sherbert).

Alan Licht


Tonight In Person – BBC

I stumbled upon this new-to-me video of Tom Waits while searching for an appropriate  song to add to my blip site . Filmed in 1979 for the  BBC program ‘Tonight In Person’. 9 songs in total performed for this program.

[01]. With a Suitcase
[02]. I Never Talk to Strangers
[03]. Step Right up
[04]. On the Nickel
[05]. Red Shoes
[06]. Burma Shave
[07]. Kentucky Avenue
[08]. Small Change
[09]. Closing Time