While I may be somewhat jealous, and I am also in complete awe over the fact that this project is being funded this way.
I also made my largest pledge I’ve ever given to a Kickstarter campaign, because I am fan of Frank Zappa, and I would love to see the unreleased, exclusive footage that’s only being shared with certain Kickstarter supporters.
Check out this rare clip just released by the campaign – Frank Zappa is surprise-greeted by the US Navy Marching Band performing “Joe’s Garage” at the San Francisco Airport in 1980.
This week’s LOUIE came about via a Facebook post by Art Chantry…
Back in the 1970’s, Seattle had it’s fair share of “proto-punk” bands. in the very early part of the decade, there was Ze Whiz Kidz (more of a performance troupe rather than strictly a band). toward the end of the 70’s, there were early real punk bands like chinas comidas, the telepaths, the tupperwares (screamers), the lewd, the heaters,(heats), the enemy, etc. in between these two periods were the ‘proto-punk’ bands.
most of you out there may have never heard of most of those odd duck bands. they had names like lamar harrington and the lamarettes, the feelies, red dress, mojo hand, the moberleys, the mentors, clone, roland rock and (in this example) UNCLE COOKIE.
i don’t know very much about Uncle Cookie, however. they released a single. i’ve seen pictures of Conrad Uno (of Popllama records and Egg studios) performing with them. there are a few existing posters for thier performances – like this one. that’s about all.
however, the one thing i do know about uncle cookie was that artist Carl Smool was also very involved in them. he did all of their flyers, posters and their record cover. you may be more familiar with carl’s later work – especially for bumbershoot.
this little poster is for a benefit for KRAB radio – the listener supported fm radio station (one of the very first in the country). Uncle Cookie were doing a benefit show to help them stay afloat. also, KRAB was so eccentric in their playlist that they would actually let bands like uncle cookie play live on the air.
but, what i find magical about this poster is the artwork by Carl Smool. it’ so different compared to his later work. try to imagine carl’s paper mache dayglo skulls and his ‘hear no evil’ tshirts. then try to imagine him drawing this picture. i can’t do it.
.. and then Mark Campos chimed in….
This treasure catches Conrad Uno in the space between Uncle Cookie and his tenure as Popllama honcho. Here he is trying to teach himself bass and subsequently creating arguably the best cover of “Louie Louie” there is!
Don’t neglect the b-side, the “Kitchen Cantata”, with the narrator introducing the pots and pans like the parts of an orchestra and then throwing them around the room …
Shout out to Casstina, who many years ago one afternoon let me tape rarities from her collection … I taped this and Johanna Went’s “Slave Beyond The Grave” on the same tape …
This week, I’m going to do a little bit of recycling.
This week, the world is thinking about Belgium after the awful incident in Brussels.
Last year, around this time, I shared a clip that featured a performance by my friend Alexander Surmont of Belgium. He did a wonderful Italian version of LOUIE LOUIE that fit in nicely with the First Italian LOUIE LOUIE Marathon organized by Riccardo Lancioni, Caterina Di Biase & company, streamed at Ormeradio.it.
The video footage was something I shot with my then-new Panasonic GH4 camera on the first day of spring in San Francisco.
I thought Alexander did a magnificent Italian version of LOUIE LOUIE, which was initially an exclusive for the LOUIE LOUIE documentary project, but I also thought it was perfect for last year’s Italian marathon.
In this version, he rephrases the song as ‘Da lui non hai’ which translates to ‘From him, you never have.’
He also recorded two English versions and a rocking’ Flemish version… which we’ll get to … eventually, but for now here’s Alexander’s Italian LOUIE, with thoughts of Belgium….
I can’t remember the first time I ever witnessed the band in concert… whether it was at Marsugi’s, the Cactus Club, Paradise Lounge or maybe even Upstairs Eulipia, but it was during one of their visits to the SF bay area during the mid-80s, and I thought they were fantastic.
They were a band from Tacoma, Washington that was absolutely adored whenever they visited the SF bay area. It was always fun whenever they were in town, and they often stayed at my friend Myke Destiny‘s house….. which usually turned into a default party after the show!
Fast forward to the present, and they’re still an active band 30+ years later! It seems like it’s been a few decades or so since they’ve ventured back to the SF bay area, but the band is still doing shows, mostly doing gigs around the Tacoma-Seattle region.
A few months ago, I picked up a Blu-Ray of their official documentary “Strictly Sacred: The Story of Girl Trouble.”
It brought back a lot of fun memories, and I learned a lot of things about the band I never knew before
I didn’t realize that FAMILY was such an essential part of who they are. I had no idea that Bon and Kahuna were even related, much less brother and sister. Unlike a lot of other rock bands, their families were very supportive of their musical careers. The director of this documentary, Isaac Olsen, is also a family member, and there’s a cute moment in the film where his birth is part of the story.
WiG-OUT was a highly entertaining little publication put out by the band, and I didn’t realize they printed it themselves, as most of the band members work at the same print shop.
Neko Case was one of their Go-Go dancers? Yet another thing I didn’t know about…
This documentary is a wonderful cinematic representation of the band. There’s great stories enhanced by some wonderful little bits of animation, also created by director Isaac Olsen. I also loved the beautiful photography that captured the raw essence of their hometown of Tacoma.
The thing that most impressed me most about the film is how passionate the band is about staying true to the essence of who they are. Whether it’s fighting over album cover art orchestrated by record companies or the pay-to-play promoters that tried to force the band to sell tickets to their own show, Girl Trouble is a band that remains steadfast to their core convictions.
This is a great documentary on a band I really love, and I recommend it to anyone that appreciates this rock ‘n’ roll music stuff.
I recently discovered that I share something very special with this band.
We both came into existence on March 9th!
Girl Trouble made their debut appearance 32 years ago (1984) at the Fort Steilacoom Community College for a “Battle of the Bands.”
March 9 is indeed a fine day for birthdays This year, Google celebrated March 9 on their main page with an acknowledgment of the 105th birthday of Clara Rockmore, master / co-developer of the Theremin, a wonderfully quirky music instrument utilized for the soundtracks of multiple science fiction films, as well as various Beach Boys records.
March 9 is also the birthday for Amerigo Vespucci, Vyacheslav Molotov, Paul Wilbur Klipsch, Mickey Spillane, David Pogue, Ornette Coleman, Keely Smith, Mickey Gilley, Bobby Fischer, John Cale, Raul Julia, Juliette Binoche, as well as Mark Lindsay (original vocalist of Paul Revere & the Raiders) and John Kandarian (road crew veteran for the Kingsmen, and various other great bands).
I’m thinking it should probably be declared a national holiday, but I will admit to being somewhat biased….
Either way, I leave you with this inspired version of LOUIE LOUIE by the band i just finished writing a bunch of words about.
This weekend in SF Bay Area, we’re celebrating the life of Steve Mackay!
On Thursday, Feb 24th at KFJC Radio (home of the infamous Maximum LOUIE LOUIE marathon) there was a big 4 hour radio show celebrating the legacy of Steve with lots of music and interviews. We got a chance to hear some rare recordings of Steve with Commander Cody, Snakefinger, Z’ev, Smegma, Blue “Gene” Tyrrany, Andre Williams, Sonny Vincent, Violent Femmes, and of course, Iggy & the Stooges. For the next few weeks or so, you can hear the entire show by visiting http://kfjc.org/broadcast_archives/ and downloading each of the four hours.
Today, Saturday the 27th, there’s two different shows happening at Winters Tavern in Pacifica, which is about a mile or so from Steve’s old apartment.
The first show begins in a few minutes, and ends at 6:30 pm. It’s FREE to the public, but donations for Steve’s family are highly encouraged. The bands scheduled to perform include: Girls with Guns (featuring the lovely La-Ni, daughter of Snakefinger, on vocals) Joshua Brody and Roger Rocha with the TTB
The Twisting Twisters with Andy Pollack
Kimberlye Gold with Mike McKevitt and Lizie Skow
Mitch Woods, with Chris Cobb and the Third Thursday Horns
The second show at Winters, which is sold out, begins at 8 pm, includes performances by: mike watt & The Missingmen
The Hampton Wicks
The Third Thursday Band
DJ Sid Presley
Lady Monster reads the poetry of Steve Mackay
Special guest appearance by Jello Biafra
Tomorrow, Sunday the 28th, there will be yet another show for Steve, which will take place at Hemlock Tavern in San Francisco, from 5pm to 10pm. This show will include performances by: Glitter Wizard
The Third Thursday Band
So.. if you’re in the SF Bay Area, please join us there, as we celebrate the life of our friend!
The two sing, swing and engage in vocal repartee, with Jordan at one point doing an imitation of Armstrong’s scatting on Life Is So Peculiar, which was written by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen. On You Rascal You (written by Sam Theard), Armstrong and Jordan have a knee-slapping time exchanging lyrics. Armstrong blows beautiful harmony lines behind a singing Jordan while Jordan blows cool lines when it’s Armstrong’s turn to “talk about it for a while.” The joy is relentless and infectious.
“Carlos Alomar said, ‘Oh, I know that old thing [Footstompin’].’ And he said, ‘Listen, I’ve got this great riff that we could use for it.’ It was something that he’d written for James Brown, though Brown never used it…
[In 1975] Lennon said, ‘You know, let’s do something.’ I said, ‘Yeah, what can we do?’ And I said, ‘Carlos, that riff you’ve got!’
We used it for Fame but it came from our version of Footstompin’. Fame was built around a recycled riff.”
In the mid ’70s, James Brown found himself at a crossroads. Musical tastes were changing and he wanted to stay relevant. So he took some inspiration, and arguably a little more, from the hottest musician on Earth at the time: David Bowie.
In late 1974, David Bowie made an appearance on the extremely popular Dick Cavett Show. James Brown was watching and was struck by two things. First, he saw a familiar face, that of guitarist Carlos Alomar, who quit James Brown’s band five years before. Second, he heard an amazingly funky riff that Alomar was playing. “
Here’s the clip of David Bowie performing “Footstompin'” with guitarist Carlos Alomar on the David Cavett Show.
Around the same time that “Fame” was being assembled, James Brown was also in the studio, recording a song called “Hot (I Need To Be Loved),” which recycled Alomar’s riff, note for note, but with James Brown listed as the sole songwriter.
As my friend David J. Coyle pointed out, the name of the Flaresshould be a familiar name to LOUIE enthusiasts.
I didn’t even think of connecting the Flares with the Flairs….
The Flairs was the musical group that provided Richard Berry (author of LOUIE LOUIE) with his first opportunity to be signed to a record label. Originally, the band was called the Debonairs, featuring some talented teenagers from Jefferson High School in Los Angeles. As the band developed, it eventually merged with some members of a band called the Flamingos(not to be confused to with a band of the same name from Chicago). In December 1952, the band recorded some audition tracks with a local record label/ record store known as Dolpin’s of Hollywood. As there didn’t seem to be much interest in the band, they chose to look for another record label.
The band found a receptive ear with Modern Records, a label run by the Bihari brothers that had already released some successful records by B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Lighting Hopkins, and Big Joe Turner, to name a few few.
Modern decided that the Debonairs would come under the wing of Joe Bihari (the youngest of the brothers) and be placed on the (mostly Country & Western) Flair label. While the “Debonairs” wasn’t a bad name, Bihari suggested that they rename themselves the “Flairs.” The group thought it over and quickly realized that if they were named after the label, the Biharis would have a greater stake in pushing their records.
Within a few years after the band first recorded as the Flairs for the Flair label, Richard Berry left the band to form a brand new band known as Richard Berry & the Dreamers (which later evolved into the Blossoms – another interesting story). The Flairs continued with a variety of different personnel changes, changing record labels, and eventually evolving into a band known as the Flares with no members of the original band.
Despite rumors elsewhere on the interwebs, I have not found any evidence that Carlos Alomar was ever a member of the Flares, which actually split up in 1964. Carlos simply covered this Flares song when he was part of the Bowie band, and added a little extra pizazz to the mix…
During an eight-month period in 1968–69, Carlos Alomar toured with James Brown’s live band, eventually quitting after being docked wages for missing a musical cue.
Approximately five years later, Carlos Alomar joined David Bowie’s band during second portion of the Diamond Dogs tour in September–December 1974, and he came up with this particular riff for a performance of “Footstomping” during the tour. Bowie thought was “a waste” to only use this riff for a cover song, and thought it would be best to come up with a brand new song… which became “Fame.”
The Plain or Pan website shared some additional information and insight on the two songs inspired by the Carlos Alomar guitar riff:
Both tracks, it turns out, were recorded sometime in 1975 at Electric Lady Studios in New York, Bowie’s in January and Brown’s later on in the year. Carlos Alomar, having played with many of the band still backing James Brown at this time was, by all accounts, absolutely livid by the steal. Bowie was a bit cooler, agreeing to sue if the track became a hit, which it never did. It’s interesting to note that in the fully comprehensive booklet that accompanies the James Brown Star Time Box set, where recording personnel are meticulously listed, under Hot (I Need To Be Loved, Loved, Loved) it just says ‘backing by unknown personnel’, which, for me, is just about as good an admittance you’ll get that James Brown took the original Bowie track, dubbed out his voice and sang his own melody across the top. Just my theory, at any rate.
The bottom line: Carlos Alomar created some great music with David Bowie, John Lennon and James Brown – three brilliant musicians that will never be forgotten!