Ever wonder what’s weird about the infamous Rick Astley video (to whom the younger generation were introduced during the “rickrolling” pranks of ’07-’08)? He’s British! Everyone thinks he’s from LA and those were San Fernando blondes. They’re British! It’s quaint now, but everyone loved Rick Astley for quite a few years – with no irony! It’s a fun video, even now.
“Taking the Park – Pt. I”
“Taking the Park – Pt. II”
I don’t know where the hell this is or what festival (it’s very late in TD’s career (widdled down to Edgar Froese as only remaining member), but it reminds me so much of how totally INSANE bands can then come down down-to-earth after they’ve totally blown you away on stage.
I’ve seen it…I bummed the lead singer of Witchburn a smoke outside of Chop Suey after they put on a Pantera-esque, EXTREMELY well put-together concert – and me handing Jamie Nova a cigarette seemed so mundane – yet not…(for the record, she was standing against the wall outside chop suey, same place as I am here (photo below)
Just an odd juxtaposition seeing legendary Edgar Froese here fiddling w/ pens and album sleeves and LPs (I saw a glimps of Phaedra. Such critical work in the pantheon of rock history (much less electronic music history) Our human imagination building Idols is what it is. It’s just dust to dirt in the end, as many of these types – famous rock groups and singers – would tell you.
I don’t know if San Francisco is like this all the time but the concert at Golden Gate Park next weekend leaves Bumbershoot, Seattle Folklife Festival, etc. in the dust (or out in the rain, more likely) - and it’s free. FREEEEEEEEE!!!!!!eeeeeee……. However, this may mean ten million bastards stuffed into a pickle jar, i.e., Golden Gate Park, but hey, San Francisco the city is almost that way as it is!
Sarah Lee and Johnny are on the list - among my favorite folk acts. Favorite of folk acts that I’ve heard, anyway. Anyone can be a folk act, and the more persons playing the merrier I suppose. Some would say folk music can only be folk music when played in front of folks!
Po’ Girl (Deer in the Night, 2008) are among my favorite acts, but they too I’d only heard of because they’ve been promoted by this or that for-profit enterprise. Well, in point of fact I learned of Po’ Girl through Columbia City Bike Works annual benefit, and they’re a co-op…but the email came to me via Gmail ; )
Big names include Indigo Girls, Patti Smith, Elvis Costello, etl.al., with up to eight or nine stages according to Sunday’s section of San Francisco Chronicle. The Chronicle had a special section devoted to Hardly Strictly and it’s billionaire founder/benefactor/banjo enthusiast Warren Hellman ( the mayonnaise?). The Chronicle also says Earl Scruggs, Joan Baez (really?), Roseanne Cash, etc., etc., plus a slew of largely unknown folk groups, many of which I’m sure will be fantastic!
It’s hard to believe they won’t be forced to turn people away, but it’s Golden Gate Park so I don’t know how that would work. I’m not huge on attending shows so I don’t how something like this goes down.
But to see Sarah Lee and Johnny would be badass. What little I could find of them and of Sarah Lee and father Arlo on Youtube is bomb.
Stick out Arlo’s speech at the beginning (and end) of this rendition of Woodie Guthrie’s old song “Union Maid” — worth checking out (this vid also includes Woodie Guthrie’s original short tune “Ladies’ Auxilliary”, done ad hoc by Guthrie, by request from someone in the audience at a 1950s Guthrie set in New York City.)
…the songs that regular people were singing were just as important (if not more important) than the songs that was gettin’ played on the popular radio…you weren’t hearing some of these things on the popular radio…country ballads, chain-gang songs, mining-disaster songs, cowboy ballads, trail tunes, lumber tunes, murder-ballads (you know, lots of murder ballads from everywhere)…
- Arlo Guthrie
Never thought I’d have the opportunity to see Sarah Lee Guthrie in person. Hope I can make it!
Sigur Røs are an exceedingly unique and organic rock slash folk slash pop ensemble who came home to Iceland in 2006 to play a series of unannounced, free concerts in various outdoor venues and near various Icelandic villages who have had little exposure to live popular music.
The result is is Heima (roughly “home” in Icelandic). Heima includes shots of the band and audiences in diverse settings all over Iceland.
It’s an amazing film; the cinematography has a true-to-life tonality and contrast that both showcases Iceland’s long, long history; and its famously serene yet severe, stark landscape. A wonderful film with a documentary-like approach devoted as much to the unique landscape and unique people of that isolated island nation.
Which came first, Bladerunner or this Missing Persons vid? Bladerunner! And shades of Lady Gaga here?
Experimental Rock and Roll
Tangerine Dream was formed in the late ’60s. Many people think of TD (not incorrectly) as “new-age” – purely synthesizer driven, with crazy elaborate techno-stage setups and laser-lights, no guitars or singing. But Tangerine Dream is rooted in the 1960s rock-and-roll heyday – specifically “psychedelia” and progressive, or “prog” rock. They were in the vanguard of that scene in Germany in the late ’60s.
(One interesting fact that may or may not say something about TD’s artistic approach is that Edgar Froese, arguably the main force in the group’s founding and development, was a protege of Salvador Dali and influenced by the “Surrealists” art movement.)
Out of that cloud of new vibes swirling in the West, Tangerine Dream materialized around Edgar Froese and Klaus Schulze sometime between ’65 and ’67 (purportedly September 1967) in West Berlin.
If you don’t believe Tangerine Dream were psychedelic/prog-rock rock pioneers, check out this movie clip, the so-called “Bath Tube Session” from West Berlin, 1969. Supposedly it was broadcast on German TV. - WestGerman, of course…
Tangerine Dream became more and more experimental, settling on the utterly unique synthesizer-driven sound that became their signature. TD went through lineup changes early on and continued to switch-up band members, though the Edgar Froese/Klaus Schulze duo have always comprised the core.
To help track its 40-years (and counting) trajectory, Tangerine Dream’s career, lineup, and discography breaks down into a neat color scheme representing each “era” (a simplification, but useful).
Their psychedelic, guitar-rock phase is known as “the Pink Years.” TD never did totally abandon the guitar – in 2008 Froese was seen playing a long solo at the Lorely Prog Festival in England.
Next came the “Virgin Years”, beginning with Atem.
TD were among the first bands signed with then fledgling Virgin Records. Their breakthrough LP, Atem, bore an unmistakably Surrealist, Dali-esque cover. John Peel named it ”album of the year” for 1973 (John Peel of the UK’s famous Peel Sessions).
1971′s Alpha Centauri (Polydor Records) garnered Tangerine Dream its initial international attention. With a savvy (for the time!) tripped-out album sleeve with pitch-perfect psychedelic font typeface, the LP was popular through mail order in Britain.
Maybe the band placed ads in all the sci-fi fiction that blew up in the ‘70s around the 1969 American moon-landing – it’s unclear. But these mail-order sales numbers purportedly tweaked the interest of Virgin’s founder Richard Branson (now Sir Richard Branson) who signed them sometime in ’72 . Branson and Virgin guided distribution and marketing and helped boost Tangerine Dream’s record sales and name-recognition; as well as, importantly, introducing TD to the lucrative U.S. market.
They remained signed with Virgin for 12 years, ending with Hyperborea and culminating with their vanguard, first-of-its-kind concert tour of Communist Poland.
Warsaw, Winter 1983
Tangerine Dream’s 9 Dec. 1983 concert in Warsaw was, I’ll argue, among the most important and progressive electronic live shows ever done – both in the musical and in a socio-political sense. Thankfully it was accompanied by reasonably decent videography so we can still catch a glimpse, however incomplete, of that special time and place (see link above for the three-part YouTube vid – amazingly well-recorded considering time and place).
The music of “Poland” marks a definite high-point in Tangerine Dream live performances. It came just before the advent of sampling and digital manipulation (and before the 1985 departure of Johannes Schmelling), but shortly after the start of Music Television/MTV.
It would not do justice to attempt to describe the music (it speaks for itself). I would submit, however, that Tangerine Dream’s 9 Dec. 1983 concert represents a pinnacle of live progressive rock: “Poland” rolls and rolls along on one long-tape, with interludes that break down and build tension in tandem.
Note: Those familiar with the splendid three-part Youtube vids may be slightly disappointed in the Poland: The Warsaw Concert album, as the title song “Poland” has been cut down and and divied up to comprise the three following “cuts”, “Tangent”, “Barbakane”, and “Horizon”. According to Wikipedia’s entry on Poland: The Warsaw Concert,
Out of twelve CD releases, only two have the complete album, all others are either missing “Tangent” or have a truncated version of “Barbakane.”
- (1984) Jive/Teldec 8.28638
- (1984) Relativity 88561-8045-2
(I am unaware of any official video/DVD release of the Warsaw Concert, and so I strongly recommend the Youtube videos. All three parts may be set in hi-definition and render well at full-screen.)
The Warsaw concert and subsequent Polish tour was fully vetted by the Polish authorities and accompanied the general déténte of the Soviet-bloc with the West. With their 1980 East Berlin concert, Tangerine Dream had the privilege of being the first Western “rock” group allowed a full-on concert tour behind the Iron Curtain. They brought that status with them on the Poland tour.
Polish Solidarity was also gathering steam at the time. One could argue that the ’83 tour, commenced during the Gorbachev-era “thaw”, only furthered it in that country; aligning, as music and art are apt to do – in a palpable yet inchoate, unnamed way – with the spiritual/emotional zeitgeist.
Keeping in mind the external societal and political factors, TD’s stage setup is fascinating. Projected on a large screen are still-shots of McDonald’s restaurants and constant, revolving images of contemporaneous western-style fashions and make-up (on manikins instead of real models – so as to remain neutral between East/West?) The iconography speaks to an unspoken granting of a bit of that Western cultural “mana”, so to speak, that the Communist countries’ populations were craving. It would be interesting to know whether and State minders had a hand in the stage production.
For a list of the concert equipment used, visithttp://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/(Poland)_album
“I want my MTV!!!” MTV was born in 1981, propelling and transforming rock music in the West. The rise of “pop” – the commodification of rock music – surely were not unknown to the populace of Communist countries. Perhaps nothing is as “viral” as music on the radio. Radio Free Europe probably had a hand in it, too.
Imagery of Polish statues and World-War II-esque cityscapes, three separate choreographed dances by the Polish Ewa Glowacka (choreographed also by the Polish Marzena Gorska) plus a late interlude of melodies sounding like the Polish national anthem – all of this indicates an empathy on the part of the German visitors, and it’s a nice touch. (Did the Authorities have a hand in the stage/screen imagery?)
The “Blue Years”
For the band, that concert tour marked also the end of the “Virgin Years”, as Poland: The Warsaw Concert was released as a live album under Jive Records. Tangerine Dream’s Jive tenure is known as the “Blue Years”. Are these color labels a synaesthetic descriptor alluding to the color of “the Dream”? Did “the dream” shift colors through the years?
Always keen on new ideas and inventions, Tangerine Dream very early discovered Robert Moog’s new synthesizer and the other electronic technologies transforming rock during that late ‘60’s to ‘70s pivot. By 1979′s Force Majeure and the addition of young Berlin-based synth-expert Johannes Schmelling, the group was headed for that multi-keyboard, synthesizer-based, highly layered, kinetic sound for which they are best known.
17 – 20 Sept 2009
Tangerine Dream album covers are reproduced with credit to the respective copyright holders (Virgin Records and Polydor Records).
Please visit Tangerine Dream’s official sitehttp://www.tangerinedream.org.
Throbbing Gristle. They make visceral music. What catches your attention here is that drifting, androidic Vangelis “Memories of Green” synthesizer effect. But after seeing a BBC5 documentary on the London scene including Gristle and where they lived – on top of the “plague pits” as Fanni Tutti says – I’m looking at a cultural and historical approach…etc…
Throbbing Gristle are the originators of industrial and are living legends!