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Traffic: The low spark of high-heeled boys, amazing live footage from 1972

It’s remarkable to consider that Steve Winwood was not yet even 19 years old when he formed Traffic and they recorded Mr. Fantasy in 1967. Of course, he had been playing professionally since his early teens, along with brother Muff Winwood in various bands and was the lead singer of the Spencer Davis Group when he was but fifteen, but Traffic’s sound was especially sophisticated coming from someone so young.

Some of the greatest groups of the 60s and 70s are woefully under-documented on film. I’m not aware, for instance, of an entire Allman Brothers concert film, and I’ve never seen more than a handful of clips of Frank Zappa and the original Mothers of Invention that capture what I always imagined their shows must’ve been like. There are only two sync-sound document of the Velvet Underground. Even David Bowie didn’t accumulate all that much concert footage during his prime years as a performer. Nor, when you get right down to it—considering the amount of gigging they did—did the Grateful Dead. Except for a few pop shows in the US, Britain, plus The Beat Club in Germany and POP2 in France, many groups would have fallen through the cracks of moving documentation altogether. Full concert films were expensive to mount back then and very rarely green-lighted. There were simply few places to exhibit them theatrically. They lost money.

A group like Traffic, with their jazz/rock fusion sound and 12-minute FM-radio friendly epics like “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” would have been a difficult band to book on most TV variety shows of the day, so it was nice to watch the concert documentary of Traffic Live at Santa Monica 1972 and see them in all their jammy, muso glory.

The set begins with a bravura rendition of “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.” Jim Capaldi, who co-wrote the song with Steve Winwood had this to say about the lyrics to one of their most notable numbers:

It seemed to sum up all the people of that generation who were just rebels. The ‘Low Spark,’ for me, was the spirit, high-spirited. You know, standing on a street corner. The low rider. The ‘Low Spark’ meaning that strong undercurrent at the street level.

There’s also an outstanding rip through “John Barleycorn” but wait for the final two numbers, a delicate “40,000 Headmen” and a powerful take of “Dear Mr. Fantasy” featuring an awe-inspiring guitar solo from Winwood. The whole set is scorching from start to finish. As this 64-minute long performance is the only extended live footage of the group, good thing it’s so incredible.

Set list:
“The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys”
“Light Up or Leave Me Alone”
“John Barleycorn”
“Freedom Rider”
“40,000 Headmen”
“Dear Mr. Fantasy”

Traffic were at this time: Steve Winwood, vocals, guitar, keyboards, bass; Jim Capaldi, percussion, vocals; Chris Wood, flute, saxophone; Rebop Kwaku Baah, percussion; Roger Hawkins, drums; David Hood,bass.

Posted by Richard Metzger
05:37 pm
Creepy, Sleazy & Well-Hung: Wicked Wall-Candy from Cult Movies, Sex Flicks and Bloody Slasher Films
03:54 pm
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‘School of the Holy Beast’ Japanese
We first discovered the extraordinary movie posters of
Westgate Gallery a few years ago.  Their annual Cruel Summer Sale is ending soon, but if you’re into such things and haven’t taken the plunge down their “macabre, salacious” rabbit hole, there’s still time to grab some incredible finds and bargains at 50% Off Listed Prices.  What makes Westgate Gallery stand proudly apart, beyond the insanely wide selection of 100% original pieces from all over the world, is the expertise of its poster concierge Christian McLaughlin, whose obsessively deep knowledge of classic, cult, exploitation horror, XXX-rated and Giallo films—and the posters created to promote them—puts his competitors to shame.  For Christian, offering merely cool, rare and eye-popping “wall-candy” isn’t enough — unlike other higher-end movie-art boutiques online, he wants you to know as much as possible about the actual films behind the posters, and in so many cases, you’ll find a wide variety of artwork you never realized existed for movies you love or have only heard about.

A quick survey of Westgate’s Recent Arrivals section reveals what may be their most impressive selection yet.  Where else can you find four different posters for the
1965 Russ Meyer/Tura Satana psychotic go-go dancer masterpiece Faster, Pussycat! Kill Kill!?  We especially like the German one featuring full-color cartoon Satana art, from a 1980 re-release (they also have the original German release version)… alongside a hella-rare unfolded 40x60” for Dario Argento’s baroque splatter epic Suspiria, notorious Japanese nunsploitation classic School of the Holy Beast (if you think the poster’s wild, wait til you see the movie), a 46x61” and French Grande for minimalist 1974 John Carpenter sci-fi satire Dark Star.  Speaking of dark, how about convicted pedophile/sexual predator Victor Salva’s 1989 debut Clownhouse — produced by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Sam Rockwell?  Like clowns in horror films weren’t effed-up and scary enough already…

If you’re a Rocky Horror Picture Show cultist, a Kenneth Anger fan or both, point your peepers toward the very rare Japanese 20x29” beauties for RHPS and the Magick Lantern Cycle, refrain from drooling and remember they are, like everything else at Westgate, currently 50% Off (Discount Code No Longer Required)!  Christian’s obvious love for Italian shockers means not only choice oversize posters for everything from lurid trash (1974’s Nude For Satan; Jess Franco’s sinister and psychedelic 1969 Venus In Furs, with Eurotrash royalty Klaus Kinski) to arthouse transgression (Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Criterion-approved Salo, 1975), but also reimagined stunners for Michael Crichton’s Westworld (1973) and—let’s get super-obscure!—Eyes of Hell, the trippy 1961 Julian Roffman flick about a shrink and his patients bedeviled by an ancient nightmare-inducing mask that subjects its wearers to extreme hallucinations then turns them into murderers.  When shown in theaters, the mask sequences required 3D glasses… but no special equipment is required to bask in the glory of Sandro Symeoni’s wall-size 55x78”.

Of course one of Westgate Gallery’s specialties is painted/illustrated posters, both foreign and domestic, for adult films from the Golden Age of hardcore (1970-1989ish).  No wonder Robin Bougie tapped WGG for rarities to include in his essential coffee table book Graphic Thrills 2.  These saucy specimens superbly demonstrate the art of the tease — in an era long before anyone with a cell phone could access an endless array of pornography with titles like ‘Busty Stepmom’s Anal Gangbang’, the charmingly naughty 1-sheets for 1979’s Librianna, Bitch of the Black Sea (with its shamelessly phony “Filmed in Russia” claim), Punk Rock (1974), Lialeh (the first African-American porno movie, 1974) and Bextsrack 2-Tier Countertop Fruit Basket Bowl with Banana Hanger (1980, complete with a C3PO-headed robo-stud) had the tough task of enticing patrons into their local Pussycat cinema while still maintaining enough decorum for exhibition on Main Street USA.

At the moment, Westgate also features a healthy assortment of softcore posters, displaying a wide range of styles from Pop Art (1968’s Big Switch, directed by UK future-horror maverick Pete Walker) to the old-timey carnival vibe of Switcheroo (1969) to the classic grindhouse delights of Ramrodder (a western roughie from smut-filled ’69—wink wink—costarring then-Manson Family members Bobby ‘Cupid’ Beausoleil and Catherine ‘Gypsy’ Share) and 1972’s Harry Novak spoof Please Don’t Eat My Mother, which devotees of Something Weird Video will fondly recall as the unauthorized raunchy redux of Little Shop of Horrors… in which the carnivorous monster plant enjoys a steady diet of nudie starlets, including chipmunk-cheeked fan-fave Rene Bond.

Let us assure you — the above sampling barely scratches the surface of Westgate Gallery’s remarkable collection, now numbering Over 5000 Posters… and be aware that several of their Recent Arrivals we planned to include in this post were snatched up within 48 hours of being listed.  Honestly, what are you waiting for?  Faster, pussycats!  Shop!  Shop!

The Westgate Gallery’s Cruel Summer 2021 50% off sale sees every item in stock at—you guessed it—50% off the (already reasonable) normal price. Discount is automatic at checkout. No code needed. Ends on September 21 at 11:59 PM PST

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! German Re-release

Suspiria US 40x60

ZXCVBN Mattress Japanese-Style Futon Mattress, Thick Floor Tatam

Clownhouse Japanese

Rocky Horror Picture Show Japanese
More after the jump…

Posted by Moulty
03:54 pm
A Momentary Lapse of Reason: When Dario Argento Interviewed Pink Floyd in 1987 

Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour and director Dario Argento.
Let’s get a few fun facts out of the way before we take a look at the eight or so awkward minutes shared between Pink Floyd vocalist and guitarist David Gilmour, drummer Nick Mason and Italian horror master, Dario Argento. For Pink Floyd, 1987 was a new beginning without bassist Roger Waters—a founding member of the Floyd along with Nick Mason. After years of legal hassles, the Waterless version of Pink Floyd released A Momentary Lapse of Reason. The subsequent tour (which started before the album was completed), was full of challenges, legal and otherwise. When it was all said and done, the tour in support of A Momentary Lapse of Reason would be the most successful U.S. rock tour of 1987. And that’s saying something, as David Bowie’s Glass Spider tour played 44 U.S. dates that same year. When it comes to Dario Argento and his relationship with Pink Floyd, we go back to 1975 when Italy’s version of Alfred Hitchcock tried, unsuccessfully, to engage the band to record the soundtrack for Profondo Rosso (aka, Deep Red, and The Hatchet Murders) as they were deep in work on their ninth album, Five Piece Shoe Shine Set, Stainless Steel Black Leather Case,. This, of course, didn’t turn out to be a bad thing. It gave us all the gift that is Italian prog-rock pioneers, Goblin, who were engaged to rewrite the score composed by Giorgio Gaslini, who had previously composed the score for Argento’s 1973 film The Five Days. It would also leave room for Argento’s collaboration with Keith Emerson of ELP, who composed the insanely good soundtrack for Argento’s 1980 film Inferno

Now, let’s get back to the eight minutes of international time-delayed satellite video connection which had to be translated live in Italy and New York City. You might want to sit down because the combination of Dario Argento and members of Pink Floyd can make one quite dizzy. 

Dario Argento was perpetually busy in the 1970s and 1980s. But he still somehow found time to do a self-hosted television show in Italy called Gli incubi di Dario Argento (The Nightmares of Dario Argento). Only nine episodes of The Nightmares of Dario Argento were filmed as part of the television series Giallo. He was often joined by Italian actress Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni dolled up like Siouxsie Sioux. You may recall, Cataldi-Tassoni was the star of Argento’s 1987 film, Opera. Though it’s a little unclear exactly when this segment aired, Pink Floyd was noted to be in New York City at the time. Since the video shows both Gilmore and Mason staying at the Ritz Carlton’s Central Park location, that would probably put the filming of this magic mushroom moment sometime during their three-night stint at Madison Square Garden. At the beginning of the “interview” Argento praises A Momentary Lapse of Reason, calling the album “stupendous.” Then, Argento’s complex, esoteric questions seem to mystify both Gilmour and Mason—and the live translation, which at times is not accurate, does not help matters one bit. I don’t want to reveal any more of what goes down in this very strange video, but had Roger Waters seen it back in the day, it would have pissed off his already very pissed off self.

Dario Argento interviewing David Gilmour and Nick Mason of Pink Floyd in 1987 via satellite. What a world.

Another segment of ‘The Nightmares of Dario Argento.’

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Can’t look away: Go behind the scenes of films by Dario Argento, John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper & more
Dario Argento’s horror classic ‘Suspiria’ and the most vicious murder scene ever filmed, 1977
First look at Waxwork’s expanded soundtracks for three Dario Argento classics
Stunning fluorescent stills from Dario Argento’s horror masterpiece ‘Suspiria’
The creeptastic ‘mad puppet’ in Dario Argento’s shocker ‘Deep Red’ will haunt your dreams
Watch Keith Emerson and Dario Argento work on the soundtrack to ‘Inferno’ in 1980
The original ending for Dario Argento’s 1971 thriller, ‘The Cat O’ Nine Tails’ (a DM premiere)
Illustrations of films by Dario Argento, David Cronenberg, Ridley Scott & more from Cinefantastique

Posted by Cherrybomb
11:41 am
Extreme Record Collecting part II: There’s only one way to find Better Records

When I recently wrote about being an analog vinyl snob, I made mention several times in that essay of Tom Port, the proprietor of OEM Exhaust OE1783 Exhaust Muffler (OEM 15X4.5X9.75 1.75/1.75 O/. Port claims that the copies he sells of classic albums sound better—much better—than others. He calls them “Hot Stampers” and he sells them to a well-heeled audiophile audience who can afford to spend $500 on, say, the perfect copy of Aqualung. But when I wrote of the Hot Stamper notion, I was not writing from firsthand experience, but because Port’s offerings at Ultra Soft Strong Toilet Paper 20Supreme Rolls = 99 Regular Ro was conceptually an easy thing for the reader to grok. Once the concept of doing a shootout between dozens of copies of the same album to find the best sounding one is understood, the rest of what I was banging on about came into sharper focus.

After he read Extreme Record Collecting: Confessions of an Analog Vinyl Snob, which was crossposted at Robert Brook’s Handmade Wood Stainless Steel Purpleheart Bottle Stopper blog, Tom got in touch through Robert and offered to send me a Hot Stamper of Steely Dan’s Aja that had a scratch rendering it unsaleable so that I could see just how much better his Hot Stampers were compared to an average, run of the mill copy of Aja.

Aja was a particularly fortuitous selection, not just because it’s considered by many to be the best sounding album of all time, but because I once had the good fortune to take a tour of the legendary Village Recorder studios in Los Angeles which culminated in getting to listen to the first side of Aja made from a dub of the master tape in the studio it was mixed in, on the very same speakers! Imagine that, right? I still have a strong sense memory of it and with an experience like that under my belt, there was probably no better test of the Hot Stamper concept that he could have sent me.

The record arrived two days later, packaged far better than anything that I have ever been sent by a Discogs dealer. I was excited to get it, I must say. I really wanted to hear an “official” Hot Stamper. This was going to be fun.

So I got super baked and put the record on. The outer groove was dead quiet and clearly it had been properly cleaned. (Pay attention to that subject below, it’s very, very important.) In the second or two before the music started, I wondered how much confirmation bias might be present when someone has spent $500 on a single record album. I imagined that they probably would be more inclined to agree that they possessed one of the world’s very best copies of album X for the simple reason that… it cost a lot more? Of course I hadn’t paid a small fortune for this album, and so I wasn’t quite invested in that way, but I still really wanted for it to sound good. I didn’t want to be disappointed.

When the music began, well, these sorts of thought immediately flew out the window. This record was clearly superior to any Aja on vinyl or CD that I have ever heard BY FAR and I realize that to many of you reading this what I am about to write next might seem pretty daft, but about a minute or two in, the thought occurred to me that this Aja Hot Stamper actually sounded better to me than the dub made from the master tape that I heard at Village Recorders. Yeah it sounded that fucking good, it really did. And if you know how painstakingly edited together that album was, you wouldn’t necessarily expect it to soundstage like a motherfucker either, but it sounded like the Dan were in the room playing live right in front of me. I was truly blown away. Rest assured that if I had paid $299 for this album, it would have been money well spent (although my wife might not see it the same way!)

I asked Tom Port some questions via email.

What is a Hot Stamper? Please define the term and how this concept first occurred to you. Can I presume that it was a slow process and that it dawned on you gradually?

Tom Port: The easiest and shortest version of the answer would be something like “Hot Stampers are pressings that sound dramatically better than the average pressing of a given album.”

My good friend Robert Pincus coined the term more than thirty years ago. We were both fans of the second Blood, Sweat and Tears album, a record that normally does not sound very good, and when he would find a great sounding copy of an album like B,S &T, he would sell it to me as a Hot Stamper so that I could hear a favorite album sound its best. Even back then we knew there were a lot of different stampers for that record—it sold millions of copies and was Number One for 15 weeks in 1969—but there was one set of stampers we had discovered that seemed to be head and shoulders better than all the others. Side one was 1AA and side two was IAJ. Nothing we played could beat a copy of the record with those stampers.

After we’d found more and more 1AA/ IAJ copies—I have a picture on the blog of more than 40 all laid out on the floor—it became obvious that some copies with the right stampers sounded better than other copies with those stampers. We realized that a Hot Stamper not only had to have the right numbers in the dead wax, but it had to have been pressed properly on good vinyl. All of which meant that you actually had to play each copy of the record in order to know how good it sounded. There were no shortcuts. There were no rules of thumb. Every copy was unique and there was no way around that painfully inconvenient fact.

For the next thirty years we were constantly innovating in order to improve our record testing. We went through hundreds of refinements, coming up with better equipment, better tweaks and room treatments, better cleaning technologies and fluids, better testing protocols, better anything and everything that would bring out the best sound in our records. Our one goal was to make the critical evaluation of multiple copies of the same album as accurate as possible. Whatever system our customer might use to play our record—tubes or transistors, big speakers or small, screens or dynamic drivers—our pressing would be so much better in every way that no matter the system, the Hot Stamper he bought from us would have sound that was dramatically superior to anything he had ever heard.

It was indeed a slow process, and a frustrating one. Lots of technological advancements were needed in order to make our Hot Stamper shootouts repeatable, practical and scalable, and those advancements took decades to come about. When I got started in audio in the ‘70s, there were no stand-alone phono stages, or modern cabling and power cords, or vibration controlling platforms for turntables and equipment. No tonearms with extremely delicate adjustments. No modern record cleaning machines and fluids. Not much in the way of innovative room treatments. A lot of things had to change in order for us to reproduce records at the level we needed to, and we pursued every one of them as far as money and time allowed.

Our first official Hot Stamper offering came along in 2004. We had a killer British pressing of Cat Stevens’ Teaser and the Firecat which we had awarded our highest grade, the equivalent of A+. Having done the shootout, I wrote up the review myself. At the end I said, “Five hundred dollars is a lot for one record, but having played it head to head against a dozen others, I can tell you that this copy is superior to every copy I have ever heard. It’s absolutely worth every penny of the five hundred bucks we are charging for it. If no one wants to pay that, fine, no problem, I will put the record in my own collection and thrill to its amazing sound for the rest of my life.”

As you can imagine, it sold immediately. That told us that the demand was there. To provide the supply, we eventually ended up needing about eight of us working in concert. It takes a crew of people to find a big batch of vintage LPs of the same title, clean them, do the Hot Stamper shootout, then check the playing surfaces on each side from start to finish, and finally describe the sound of each individual record on the website to the best of our ability.

We like to tell our customers exactly how to go about finding their own Hot Stampers, how to clean them, how to do shootouts with scientific rigor, but honestly, if you do it right it’s just a crazy amount of work. However, since it’s the only proven way to find the best sounding records in the world, to us we think it’s worth it.

Obviously the concept is controversial—to say the least—among record collectors. I’ve noticed an attitude on the Steve Hoffman Forum and elsewhere towards the hot stamper notion where someone almost takes offense, as if it suggests their records are somehow inferior. Any kind of audiophilia brings out the folks who say “I can’t hear it”—never a winning argument to begin with—and accusations of snobbery and snake oil. Was there a lot of pushback when you first started?

There has always been a lot of pushback and the pushback continues to this day, easily found on any audiophile forum you care to name. The psychology behind it is pretty well documented by now. I have read a dozen books about the cognitive biases that feed into confirming that whatever you want to believe is actually true, and written scores of commentaries connecting these ideas to a better way to pursue audio.

All of our work is entirely evidence based. Pressings that sound better than other pressings do not need to be explained. They simply do sound better, and rarely does it take a pair of golden ears to hear the difference.

But it does take a good stereo, and I talk about this issue a great deal as well. Even as recently as the early 2000s, I could easily name dozens of Heavy Vinyl pressings that I very much liked the sound of. Embarrassing as they are, I made a point to keep the old catalogs from those days. They are full of positive reviews for the Heavy Vinyl titles I was recommending at the time. They are undeniable proof of what I really believed back then. Of how mistaken I was. And I had already been in audio for twenty five years by then! After this last twenty years of working on my system and the hundreds of changes it has gone through, I would be very surprised if I could sit through one out of ten of those records now. Their shortcomings have become much too obvious to be ignored.

But… for the first time in a very long time, I actually played two outstanding Heavy Vinyl pressings just this year—the Led Zeppelin II from 2014 and the Chris Bellman cutting of Brothers in Arms, also from 2014. They went head to head against my best White Hot Stamper Shootout Winning pressings. Unlike almost all the other Heavy Vinyl records I have played over the last five to ten years, especially everything Half-Speed Mastered, both of these records sounded, gulp!, very much like good originals. in the case of Zep II, the uptake of my review would be that you simply cannot buy any version of this record outside of a Robert Ludwig original that will be able to hold a candle to the new recut. Yes, it’s that good. Brothers in Arms you can beat, but you have to work at it, and unless it is a favorite album of yours, why would you bother? The new one is probably good enough.

Even more surprising to most anyone reading this interview is the fact that I am happy to be proven wrong about Jimmy Page’s remastering project. I actually have a section on the blog for records we got wrong, with 80 entries to date. Who else points out to the world the records he was wrong about? No record dealer or record reviewer I am familiar with. But being wrong today simply means that I’ve learned something I hadn’t known before, and learning about records is what I’ve been doing for more than fifty years. And for the last 34 of those I’ve done it for a living, five days a week with plenty of weekends thrown in for good measure.

I hated what Page did to the sound of the first album in the Zep series, but I love the sound of the second album. Which just goes to show that records should not be judged by any process other than playing them. We endlessly talk about that subject on the blog. It’s a long-dead horse we just can’t seem to stop beating. Here is a sample:

We talk a lot on our site about the need for basing your audio—whether it be equipment, records, tweaks, cleaning methods or anything else associated with the hobby—on evidence.

In other words, don’t believe what you read, believe what you hear. Don’t take anything on faith, test it with your own two ears and record the data.

The only way to understand this Hot Stamper thing is to hear it for yourself, and that means having multiple copies of your favorite albums, cleaning them all up and shooting them all out on a good stereo. Nobody, but nobody, who takes the time to perform this little exercise can fail to hear exactly what we are talking about when we say no two records sound the same.

Or you can join the other 99% of the audiophiles in the world. They’re the ones who don’t know anything about pressing variations on records. Some very large percentage of that group also doesn’t want to know about any such pressing variations and will happily supply you with all sorts of specious reasoning as to why such variations can’t really amount to much—this without ever doing a single shootout!.

Such is the world of audiophiles. Some audiophiles believe in anything—you know the kind—and some audiophiles believe in nothing, not even what their own two ears are telling them.

But shooting out multiple pressings of records is work, more often than not hard and frustrating work. You can’t do that kind of work and type on a keyboard at the same time. It’s not about sitting at a computer and opining. It’s about sitting in a listening chair and gathering evidence that either confirms or disconfirms the opinions you held. If you haven’t done the work, you shouldn’t have much to say about the subject until after you have done the work. You can’t really talk about the results of an experiment you haven’t run, can you?


Where do you source your records from?

Local stores, eBay and Discogs are our main sources for records.

Isn’t ordering them from Discogs cheating?

It’s not cheating, it is in fact one of the best ways we know of to get exactly the pressing we are interested in. It’s difficult because many records are listed incorrectly, and most are graded too generously, and usually only visually. But finding a Pink Floyd import with the right stampers is not going to happen locally. That can only be done over the web.The mistake sellers make about us is that they think we buy the record from them and if it doesn’t have the Hot Stamper sound we’re looking for, we return it. That has never happened. Most records do not go into shootouts until many months after we buy them, sometimes years. The only thing we check is that the surfaces are passable and there is no groove distortion. Other than that, we won’t know how good the record sounds until it gets cleaned and played in a shootout. Many of our top dollar titles only get put into shootouts once every one or two years. Any Mingus record would work that way. How many years does it take to find four or five nice copies of Ah Um? Three to five years would be my guess. And we cannot afford to hurry up the process by spending more time looking for clean original pressings. They just don’t come up for sale all that often.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger
08:21 pm
Completely brilliant sculptures of the cast of UK cult TV show ‘The Young Ones’
05:55 am

A sculpture of actor Adrian Edmondson in character as Vyvyan Basterd from the UK cult televsion series, ‘The Young Ones.’
At Toy-Con in London in 2020, one of the exhibitors was UK sculptor, artist, and toymaker Mike Strict, who we can all thank for making our mid-80s dreams come true by sculpting up figures based on the unforgettable characters from the UK sitcom The Young Ones. Only twelve episodes exist of The Young Ones, but the impact the show made is still felt by its dedicated fan base to this day. Strict chose to create three sculpts/figures of fictional Scumbag University undergrad students Vyvyan Basterd; an angry heavy metal fan and medical student, played by Adrian (Ade) Edmondson; Rick, a sociology student and genuinely unlikable make-believe anarchist, played by the late Rik Mayall; and Neil Wheedon Watkins Pye, the lentil-loving, suicidal hippie played by Nigel Planer.

Usually, Strict is a strictly one-off kind of toy/figure/sculptor, but this time he did create more than one of his Young Ones figures, sold at Toy-Con. It’s not clear how many Strict made, but what I can tell you is that it appears they were all, rather unsurprisingly, sold. However, that does not mean you are out of luck if this is exactly what your collectible collection is missing, as Strict does accept commissions. At Toy-Con, his Rik, Vyvyan, and Neil figures sold for $75 USD—something to keep in mind if you’re going to try to acquire one. Much of Strict’s work is dark and creepy (YAY!) and includes nods to horror films. So if you’ve ever wanted a play-set based on the 1973 film The Wicker Man starring Christopher Lee, then Strict is your man. Or, perhaps you’ve been pining away for a sculpted diorama of Chuck D and Flavor Flav of Public Enemy, featuring their iconic image of a man in a hat caught in the crosshair of a weapons scope. Because, yeah, Strict made one of those in 2019.


Neil and his everpresent pot of lentils.



More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb
05:55 am
Major Exhibition of cult psychedelic artist Burt Shonberg opens at Museum of Witchcraft and Magick

It’s Friday the 13th: Probably an auspicious time to announce a new major exhibition of the cult psychedelic artist Burt Shonberg at the Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick in Cleveland, Ohio, which runs from August 17th until November 1st. This is the first exhibition of Shonberg’s work since his one and only exhibition in 1967. It includes rarely seen paintings and some of Shonberg’s work belonging to the late science fiction writer, George Clayton Johnson.

Shonberg was an artist who perception of the world was seriously altered after he took part in Dr. Oscar Janiger’s experiments into the impact of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide 25 (LSD) on the creative processes.

During his first session, Shonberg received an injection of 100ml of LSD. This led him to see a hidden structure to the universe where “Humanity is literally hypnotized by the Dream Reality of momentum caused by life (meaning external influences).”

There is an illusion of movement in life which is not the truth. This all relates to so-called time. Time is motion—is evolution. One might say that the Big Criminal in all this is identification. To be apart from the form is the answer to real vision—consciousness. To be awake is to be really alive—to really exist.

March 1961: Janiger carries out a second experiment with Shonberg upping the dose of LSD to 150ml. At first, the artist didn’t think the trip was working but suddenly he was propelled into an experience that led him to believe he had left the clinic and had witnessed an undiscovered world where giants danced in the sky. He quickly understood that this “psychedelic experience” could “possibly reach to actual magic and beyond.”

There are, of course, certain things that one experiences in the transcendental state that are not possible to communicate in the usual way, so new types of parables would have to be created to get the message through. These discoveries I refer to could be insights or revelations into various aspects of the world we live in, nature, the mind itself, the universe, reality, and God.

The experiments radically altered Shonberg and his approach to painting. He continued experimenting with LSD which eventually led him to believe he was a living embodiment of Baphomet—“a divine androgyne, a unification of light and darkness, male and female and the macro and microcosm,” or Aleister Crowley’s pagan, pre-Christian deity, or “the Devil in all his bestial majesty.”

Shonberg’s reputation has come under considerable reappraisal of late, especially after Spencer Kansa wrote the first biography on the artist GO2552300210 - Sorbion Sana Gentle 3-1/2 x 3-1/2 three years ago. This summer a documentary called Out Here is described as an “in depth look at the famous Hollywood LSD painter” with contributions from the artists, actors, and friends who knew him.

More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
05:46 am
Michel Polnareff is France’s greatest living pop music genius

Although not nearly as prolific—or as world famous—as Serge Gainsbourg, there’s an easy argument to be made that eccentric French popstar Michel Polnareff comes right after Serge on the official list of Gallic musical geniuses. That so many music fans outside of France revere Gainsbourg yet have probably never even heard of Polnareff is a shame, both for them and for this unfairly overlooked performer. The simple fact is, there are very few truly great French rock musicians, and Michel Polnareff stands heads and tails above the likes of Johnny Hallyday and Téléphone.

I first heard of Michel Polnareff via mid-70s ads for his albums in Circus magazine and knew that he did the soundtrack to Margaux Hemingway’s notorious rape revenge film Lipstick, but he was just someone I saw in magazines. I heard none of his music until decades later, but when I discovered his 1971 album Color Mulberry Paper Variety 8 Pack - Hanji - 색한지, I played it obsessively. If it was candy, I’d have gorged myself on it until I was sick and then just kept eating. It’s really one of the most amazing and musically audacious albums of the era, up there with what someone like, say, Todd Rundgren was doing at the time (both were extreme multi instrumentalist perfectionists), but heavily influenced by the likes of Burt Bacharach, maybe the Turtles and Moody Blues and certainly Scott Walker and Gainsbourg, too. Meant to be listened to as a single suite of music, like Abbey Road or OK Computer, Polnareff’s is a grandly ambitious and brilliantly realized Baroque orchestral pop album with not a single bad track in the bunch. I’ll go so far as to say that Killer Filter Replacement for AIR SUPPLY 19-1336 is probably the second best French rock album of all time, after L’histoire de Melody Nelson. Again second to the great Serge Gainsbourg, but I mean Monsieur Polnareff no disrespect here, obviously. (Third on my list of great French rock albums would be Les Rita Mitsouko’s The No Comprendo, so as you can see, DaJiKan Bicycle Mudguard Mountain Bike Fenders Set Mud Guards Bi is bookended by greatness in my estimation.) It’s really one of the most amazing records ever made. Don’t believe me? AllMusic’s Thom Jurek, a man known for his refined rock snob tastes calls it a “psychedelic pop masterpiece.” It is! He also writes that “it’s like an early model for the excesses of Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk.” Right again!

Finding the musicians and recording studios of Paris insufficient for his needs, Polnareff’s first hit was the unstoppably catchy “La poupée qui fait non” recorded in 1966 when he was just 21 and featuring the then-prominent London session musicians Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones. The song was covered by Ronnie Wood’s mod group The Birds, Jimi Hendrix and Saint Etienne.

More Michel Polnareff, after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger
09:12 am
Super Elaborate David Bowie Cosplay Costumes

If I was a bit younger, I would buy this one. Not for Halloween, but for everyday wear around the house.
The other day, whilst looking for something else entirely, I stumbled upon these amazing David Bowie cosplay/Halloween costumes. It really seems quite necessary to me for someone to have done this, you know? This was needed, I believe.

Most of these costumes are by Wanda Cobar Costumes. She also does Freddie Mercury, Elton John and Cherrie Curry cosplay outfits. Check her gear out here.

Can you rock and roll with this?

Freak out in a white satin daydream, oh yeah…

This Ziggy Stardust toddler jumpsuit makes a great gift for when you not sure if it’s a boy or a girl…
More Bowie cosplay after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger
09:42 am
Extreme Record Collecting: Confessions of an analog vinyl snob

Sorry, but this is not going to be one of those analog vs. digital rants that goofball audiophile types like to indulge in at the drop of a hat. In fact I probably should have just called it something like “Why you should never buy new vinyl versions of classic albums.”

Actually I like digital audio just fine. In fact, until four years ago, I’d have told you that I preferred it. SACDs, HDCDs, High Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-Rays, 24-bit HD master audio files, 5.1 surround sound, DSD files—I have a large amount of this kind of material, both on physical media and with another ten terabytes on a computer drive. I like streaming audio very much. Roon is the bomb! Let me be clear, I’ve got no problem with digital audio. Even if I did, 99.9% of all music made these days is produced on a computer, so there’s really no practical way to avoid it. Analog and digital audio are two very separate things and each has its own pluses and minuses. I like them both for different reasons.

Please allow me to state the obvious right here at the outset: Most people WILL NOT GIVE A SHIT about what follows. One out of a hundred maybe, no, make that one out of a thousand. Almost none of you who have read this far will care about this stuff. If you are that one in a thousand person, read on, this was written especially for you.

Everyone else, I won’t blame you a bit if you want to bail.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger
03:00 pm
Song of the Summer: Wet Leg’s ‘Chaise Longue’ is catchier than the Delta variant

If this isn’t the catchiest song since, I dunno “Crazy” or “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” then I don’t know what would be. All I know is that I wish this song was 24 hours long and had 2000 verses.

Already feeling a strong “Song of the Summer” vibe about this one. My summer anyway!

So far Wet Leg‘s Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers have only released one song, via the Domino label, and this is it. There’s little information about them, other than what appears on the Domino website:

Amidst a night of hazy scenes in their native Isle of Wight, Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers found themselves at the summit of a Ferris wheel.

They decided to start a band. The band is called Wet Leg.

Arming themselves with guitars, a penchant for French disco, effervescent imaginations and a shared love of the The Ronettes and Jane Birkin, through to Ty Segall and Bjork, they set about making some recordings of their own.

Is that a Faust sample loaded into their drum machine?

Wet Leg will be performing next weeked at the Latitude Festival in Suffolk, England. If you go, mask up for God’s sakes!

Posted by Richard Metzger
09:36 am
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