Fear of Music: Amazing early Talking Heads doc from 1979

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Fear of Music: Amazing early Talking Heads doc from 1979

“A loft in Manhattan, New York, 1979: Talking Heads are working on their latest album Fear of Music. A TV crew from England are present making a documentary for the UK arts series The South Bank Show. They interview and film the band at work—writing, rehearsing and recording songs. At times, listening to Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth, Jerry Harrison and David Byrne talk they all make it seem what they’re doing is really quite ordinary, almost mundane. Frantz says he considers his life quite normal when not on tour. He gets up early rather than sleeping all day and going to the clubs at night. Byrne, who sounds at times like Andy Warhol—nervous, shy—discusses his thoughts about dressing like ordinary working people in ordinary everyday work clothes, though he soon discovered keeping up with ordinary fashions was expensive. Tina Weymouth points out the band plays under full house lights and eschew spotlights on solos. They are earnest, conscientious, and make it sound as if what they are doing, what they are creating, is quite workaday when in truth this talented quartet are producing something very, very extraordinary.

As the documentary develops, the disparity between their artistic aspirations and their personal points of view of what they’re all about becomes apparent—with Frantz musing on whether it’s good old rock ‘n’ roll or actually art that they are producing. History’s jury has already returned the verdict on that—a unanimous decision in favor of art—great art

Weymouth, Frantz and Byrne first played under the name The Artistics. They had an idea of “combining conceptual and performance art with popular music (their sound earned them the nickname The Autistics).” Then a friend suggested the name “Talking Heads” lifted from the TV Guide—which appealed as it had no genre defining angle. Dressed in button down shirts, sensible shoes and corduroy in amongst the ripped T-shirts, leather jackets of New York’s punk clubs, Talking Heads was a vision of the future, belonging to no genre or scene, ultimately. This became more than evident through the eight studio albums the band produced between 1977 and 1988.

Fear of Music was Talking Heads’ third studio album—a powerful rich and diverse record that was rightly voted album of the year by the NME in 1979. It was also the bridge between More Songs About Buildings and Food (1978) and the gold standard of Remain in Light (1980).
 
A loft in Manhattan, New York, 1979: Talking Heads are working on their latest album Fear of Music. A TV crew from England are present making a documentary for the UK arts series The South Bank Show. They interview and film the band at work—writing, rehearsing and recording songs. At times, listening to Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth, Jerry Harrison and David Byrne talk they all make it seem what they’re doing is really quite ordinary, almost mundane. Frantz says he considers his life quite normal when not on tour. He gets up early rather than sleeping all day and going to the clubs at night. Byrne, who sounds at times like Andy Warhol—nervous, shy—discusses his thoughts about dressing like ordinary working people in ordinary everyday work clothes, though he soon discovered keeping up with ordinary fashions was expensive. Tina Weymouth points out the band plays under full house lights and eschew spotlights on solos. They are earnest, conscientious, and make it sound as if what they are doing, what they are creating, is quite workaday when in truth this talented quartet are producing something very, very extraordinary.

As the documentary develops, the disparity between their artistic aspirations and their personal points of view of what they’re all about becomes apparent—with Frantz musing on whether it’s good old rock ‘n’ roll or actually art that they are producing. History’s jury has already returned the verdict on that—a unanimous decision in favor of art—great art
 
Weymouth, Frantz and Byrne first played under the name The Artistics. They had an idea of “combining conceptual and performance art with popular music (their sound earned them the nickname The Autistics).” Then a friend suggested the name “Talking Heads” lifted from the TV Guide—which appealed as it had no genre defining angle. Dressed in button down shirts, sensible shoes and corduroy in amongst the ripped T-shirts, leather jackets of New York’s punk clubs, Talking Heads was a vision of the future, belonging to no genre or scene, ultimately. This became more than evident through the eight studio albums the band produced between 1977 and 1988.

Fear of Music was Talking Heads’ third studio album—a powerful rich and diverse record that was rightly voted album of the year by the NME in 1979. It was also the bridge between More Songs About Buildings and Food (1978) and the gold standard of Remain in Light (1980).

A necessary footnote—The South Bank Show has produced many of the greatest arts documentaries of the past five decades—all of which has been under the editorship of producer and presenter Melvyn Bragg, who has been the single most important figure in the dissemination of great artistic culture to all—long may this tradition continue.”

Posted by Paul Gallagher – Dangerous Minds https://dangerousminds.net

120 Minutes’ Rewind: PiL’s John Lydon in Tijuana with Dave Kendall — 1992.

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120 Minutes’ Rewind: PiL’s John Lydon in Tijuana with Dave Kendall — 1992.

“For this week’s “120 Minutes” Rewind, we flash back to 1992 for a walk through Tijuana, Mexico, with John Lydon and host Dave Kendall. This appears to actually be an MTV news piece, likely repackaged from segments produced for a July 1992 episode of “120 Minutes” that featured the Public Image Ltd. frontman as co-host.

The footage would have been filmed, however, on or near Feb. 7, 1992, the date PiL filmed the video for “Covered,” the first song released off That What Is Not, at a Tijuana rock club called Iguana’s. There’s footage of that video shoot in this clip, as well — which has great personal memories for yours truly, as I was in the audience that night.

My three main memories: 1.) Lydon came on-stage being carried atop a surfboard, 2.) Mike Joyce of The Smiths played drums that night, and, 3.) stopping a show mid-set to lip-sync to the same song over and over and over again can get pretty boring. Still, great experience. And when the video finally debuted on “120 Minutes,” my friends and I taped it, then pored over the footage looking for our heads — or any other flying body parts — in the crowd shots.”

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Echo and the Bunnymen “Shine So Hard” Movie – Directed by John Smith, 1981.

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Echo and the Bunnymen “Shine So Hard” Movie – Directed by John Smith, 1981.

By mid-December 1980, Echo and the Bunnymen had concluded the tour promoting their debut album “Crocodiles”. There was to be a lull in live shows until April the following year, while the band rehearsed and recorded material for what would become their second album, “Heaven Up Here”. 

However, Bill Drummond – Bunnymen manager hatched a plan for a one-off gig on 17th January 1981. It was to be a special event, a mystery show. Ads were placed in the music press, informing Bunnymen fans to write to Zoo to obtain free passes for the event. 500 lucky fans each received a pass and a map, which advised: “BE PREPARED. THIS IS AN ATLAS ADVENTURE”. The secret location was stated as “Gomorrah”. But the venue was, in fact, the Victorian concert hall at the Pavilion Gardens in Buxton, a quiet spa town in Derbyshire’s picturesque Peak District. And for those without cars, for the fairly nominal fee of £5, coaches were also available from London, Liverpool and other cities in the UK. The tickets for the event stated: ”This is an official pass to enable you to participate in the shooting of the live footage for ‘THEY SHINE SO HARD’.”

The event was to be used as the basis for a short film that was being commissioned by the band’s label, Warner Brothers. Bill Butt, the Bunnymen’s lighting engineer was the producer of the film: ‘Bill Drummond and myself knew it was time to have a Bunnymen video, but none of us wanted to do a straight promotion thing and we’d already considered a film. The idea of a mystery gig seemed to tie in with the film… And I thought it was important to get footage of the early gigs’.

The film ended up being called “Shine So Hard”. It documents the event, which was to be the final show of the Bunnymen’s apocalyptically staged “Camo Tour”. Dramatic back-lighting, a stage draped in camouflage netting, clouds of billowing smoke and the band all dressed in army surplus, produced what Ian Pye of the Melody Maker described as ‘A Coppola inspired vision of Armageddon’.

Originally Bill Butt was to direct the film. But at that time ACTT, the film union, was a closed shop, and to have a film distributed commercially everyone in the crew had to be a union member. So the young film director John Smith was chosen to direct. He was one of the very few young experimental / artist filmmakers in the country that had managed to get a union ticket, having directed a film when he was still a student at the Royal College of Art. 

The “Shine So Hard” film was released on the 13th of August 1981. It was screened at London’s ICA for two weeks, and elsewhere in the UK. The British Film Institute September 1981 Monthly Bulletin declared: ‘John Smith’s film matches conventional, excellently shot material of Echo and the Bunnymen live with footage that attempts to locate the band in a context of more abstract imagery. Smith deliberately and jokingly, allows the two sections to collide rather than attempt to blend them… a rather arty, anti-Last Waltz joke.’ Lyn Barber, reviewing “Shine So Hard” in the Melody Maker in August ’81, was less impressed, opining: ‘…the film fails to achieve any real coherence or thematic unity…”. She did concede that it contained, “…a wealth of brilliantly photographed images”, and, “…the ambiance of the Buxton Pavilion lends added impact to the Bunnymen’s powerful stage presentation…’.

In 1982, the limited edition of 500 home videos of “Shine So Hard” was released. These were (supposedly) only made available as mail order, for those with a voucher obtained at the show. Regardless, copies cropped up in record stores that year. 

.nacho videos

The Clash talking about the song “White Riot”.

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The Clash talking about the song “White Riot”.

A very hot summer in 1976 saw a riot at the Nottingham Hill Carnival, when police attacked the West Indian festival. 

Carnival-goers fought back, including the Clash’s Joe Strummer and Paul Simenon, who describe the events below.

Strummer was inspired to pen “White Riot,” a call to arms for white punks against the police and far right, and the band moved increasingly toward reggae, including a cover of Junior Murvin’s “Police & Thieves.”

From the documentary: Westway of the World.

.open culture

“Rip It Up And Start Again” Post-Punk Documentary to be Released.

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“Rip It Up And Start Again” Post-Punk Documentary to be Released.

Are you ready to wander back in time through the streets of cities like New York, London, Manchester, and Sheffield to explore the burgeoning post-punk scene?

An enticing trailer has descended upon us for a new documentary based on Simon Reynolds’ 2005 book, Rip It Up And Start Again. Filmmakers Nikolaos Katranis, Russell Craig Richardson, and Academy-award winner Leon Gast chronicle the evolution of the chaotic punk spirit as it splintered into new genres.