It is kind of hard to imagine that it's taken until 2020 for the identity of the woman on the cover of Black Sabbath's heavy metal masterpiece, Black Sabbath, to finally be known. The woman has been identified as Louisa Livingston. The image was shot by photographer and album designer, Keith "Keef" Macmillan.
The photographer opted for Oxfordshire's Mapledurham Watermill because it fit the band's sound in his opinion. Louisa told Rolling Stone:
"I remember it was freezing cold. I had to get up at about 4 o'clock in the morning. Keith was rushing around with dry ice, throwing it into the water. It didn't seem to be working very well, so he ended up using a smoke machine.
"It was just, 'Stand there and do that.' I'm sure he said it was for Black Sabbath, but I don't know if that meant anything much to me at the time."
As a teenage headbanger, I spent countless record-spinning hours poring over every inch of this haunting cover, completely enthralled by the creepy building and the beautiful green-skinned witch in front of it. It is probably a good thing that I (and every other pubescent teen listener) was ignorant of this fact:
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"She wasn't wearing any clothes under that cloak because we were doing things that were slightly more risqué, but we decided none of that worked.
"Any kind of sexuality took away from the more foreboding mood. But she was a terrific model. She had amazing courage and understanding of what I was trying to do."
According to a piece on Deadline, 70s prog rock behemoths, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, are having a movie made from their 30-minute sci-fi song suite, "Karn Evil 9", from 1973's Brain Salad Surgery.
Centered on a society that has drained all its blood with a dependence on technology, the film will explore the world controlled by a pervasive and dictatorial technocracy. The annual “Karn Evil” — a macabre rite of passage — is a young person’s once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience unbridled freedom, before subjugating themselves to the ruling class. When people stop returning from their Karn Evil experience, fear drives a revolution to topple the status quo and the artificial intelligence discovered at its heart.
The film is being produced by Radar Pictures, producers of the Jumanji films. The screenplay is being written by best-selling author Daniel H. Wilson:
Wilson, the author behind bestselling sci-fi novels Robopocalypse and The Andromeda Evolution, has adapted several of his works for the screen, most recently penning the script to Robopocalypse for DreamWorks and Michael Bay.
“I’m incredibly excited to partner with Ted and Radar to explore Karn Evil 9—a unique and thrilling world,” said Wilson. “I couldn’t ask for better collaborators and I can’t wait to help add the Karn Evil 9 franchise to the Radar family.”
Read the rest here.
Here is ELP performing "Karn Evil 9 Third Impression" at 1974's California Jam.
ELP fun-fact: "Karn Evil 9" was co-written by Peter Sinfield, the poet and lyricist best-known for his writing on the first four King Crimson records, including the hugely influential In the Court of the Crimson King and In the Wake of Poseidon. Read the rest
The UK's Far Out Magazine has posted the playlists of 27 songs that Lou Reed was listening to when he died in 2013 of liver disease.
Reed continually kept his finger on the pulse of contemporary and popular music. Taking a hands-on approach to the developing technology around him, Reed controlled his own Spotify account which hosted several different playlists of songs he liked from the radio, or, alternatively, general songs he was listening to at that time.
Entitled ‘What I’m listening to’, Reed’s final contributions to his creative Spotify account was to curate two playlists for his followers. Combining some more predictable selections with the likes of Roy Orbison, Prince, Tom Waits and more, Reed also managed to raise a few eyebrows when he includes artists such as Nicki Minaj, Robyn and more.
Read the rest of the piece and access the playlists here.
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On Legs McNeil's Please Kill Me, Michael Shelly interviews the legendary bass player, Carol Kaye. Unless you're a hardcore music nerd, you may not know who Carol Kaye is. You need to fix that.
Carol Kaye is the bassist on thousands of 20th century recordings, from The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds to Nancy Sinatra's These Boots are Made for Walkin', to Glen Campbell's Wichita Lineman. Oh, and she also played on the Mothers of Invention's Freak Out! and the Batman theme song. The list goes on and on and on.
Get this woman into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, stat!
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PKM: When producers, like Brian Wilson with “Good Vibrations,” would do a single song in parts over many sessions was that frustrating or fun for you?
Carol Kaye: You know Brian was a nice young kid. We worked for a lot of those young guys back then and Brian had something special about him, and he grew with every date. You saw his talent getting better and better and better. He’d only do one song for a three-hour date and that does get boring after a while, but he would come in and he’d give you this handwritten, kind of funny sheet music with stems on the wrong side of the notes and sharps and flats everywhere. He would sit down at the piano and play the song, to kind of give us a feel for it, and then he’d go in the booth and take charge from there.
Here is another fabulous list of important records, this one organized around the theme of "most drug-addled." As with the avant-garde list, this author's choices are ripe for debate. The writing on the entries is also fun.
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RAMPANT MADNESS, cheap powder, and the whiskey river: below are the 50 most debauched, sodden, and certifiable records in music history.
The rules are simple: being merely eccentric while swathed in outlandish clothing fails to qualify. Having done an epic amount of street powder while getting handjobs in the groupie van is not enough. Hell, Steven Tyler claims to have spent $3 million on cocaine over the years, but would Aerosmith have sounded one iota different if they’d been straight edge? It’s the same reason Mötley Crüe doesn’t warrant space on this list. Sure, they snorted live ants (actually, that was Ozzy) and mainlined Jack Daniel’s to stave off epic boredom, but their music would have been exactly the same steaming pile of hair regardless.
No, to make this list, the music on a given album has to bleed chemical influence while also leaching a very specific brand of desperation and/or madness. The vocals, the rhythm, the melody–all have to be drenched in reverb, compression, and frighteningly altered states that could not have been recorded any other way.
Except through a blind leap into the void. Roll it, pour it, cook it, crush it, or just get stone-cold crazy; the needle will drop into the groove either way.
But excess is never enough.
It's hard to wrap one's head around the fact that, this year, Black Sabbath's eponymous debut album turns 50. It's also hard to wrap one's head around the seismic impact this record and this band would have on modern music.
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“We knew instantly that ‘Black Sabbath’ was very different to what was around at the time,” guitarist Tony Iommi says of the piece that gave the group its name.
“We always wanted to go heavier than any other band,” bassist Geezer Butler says.
“I thought the song would be a flop, but I also thought it was brilliant,” drummer Bill Ward says. “I still think it’s brilliant.”
“When we played that song for the first time, the crowd went nuts,” Butler says.
Half a century has passed since Black Sabbath first scared the bejesus out of rock fans with their eponymous anthem. The song opens with the sound of a powerful thunderstorm and ominous church chimes before crashing into its lumbering, iconic riff. The guitar chords lurch seismically, each one like a gut punch before quieting down just enough for Ozzy Osbourne to paint his own vivid portrait of fear — “What is this that stands before me/Figure in black which points at me?” It’s a scene so unnerving that he eventually pleads to the heavens, “Oh, no, NO, please God help me,” before the guitar riff and church bells come around again to strike him down. “Is this the end, my friend?” he wonders aloud. The six-minute horror vignette was spooky yet thrilling, and the song, “Black Sabbath,” would serve as the prototype for a genre poised to captivate the world.
Imaging walking into the Toby Jug Pub in Tolworth, England on February 10, 1972 expecting to see a folkier, more mellow David Bowie and encountering Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars instead. The world didn't know it yet, but it shifted on its cultural axis that night.
This video is from later in the year, stitched together from various bits of footage and synced with the audio from Bowie's Oct 20th Santa Monica show.
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Andy Gill, founding member, guitar player, and "Supreme Leader" of the hugely influencial post-punk band, Gang of Four, has died. He was 64.
Members of the current Gang of Four line-up tweeted the following:
“This is so hard for us to write, but our great friend and Supreme Leader has died today,” Gang of Four wrote. “Andy’s final tour in November was the only way he was ever really going to bow out; with a Stratocaster around his neck, screaming with feedback and deafening the front row.”
The band continued, “One of the best to ever do it, his influence on guitar music and the creative process was inspiring for us, as well as everyone who worked alongside him and listened to his music. And his albums and production work speak for themselves. Go give ’em a spin for him…”
Read the obit at Rolling Stone.
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The Psychedelic Furs have just announced a spring release for their eight studio album entitled "Made of Rain." It's been a 29 year wait. The first single off of the record, "Don't Believe," has been posted to YouTube.
The album is now available for pre-order. Read the rest
In this video, basically an ad for the upcoming Sony 360 Reality Audio, brilliant record producer and criminally underappreciated bassist, Tony Visconti, listens to the original 1969 mono demo, the '69 studio mix, and his 2019 remastering of David Bowie's breakout track, "Space Oddity." At the end, he listens to the remixed Sony 360 Reality Audio version and talks about how it especially serves the idea behind the song (traveling through space) and that David would've loved this new audio technology.
Tony talks about how incredibly modern and ahead of its time "Space Oddity" was, and how in his 2019 remastering, he remixed it to be fuller, wider, and so that you could hear elements you may not have heard in the original recording. Bringing the kick drum up in the mix, for instance, you realize what a funky track it was, Tony comments. The most interesting moment in the video is when he talks about David, many years later, explaining to him what the song was really about:
David said it was actually a song about isolation and he used the astronaut in space as the metaphor...The song was written in that spirit, being isolated in this little capsule, but seeing the Universe from your window. This is what I'm trying to get across in the mix. You are going to be traveling through this mix. Things will go by you, around you, behind you, in front, come towards you.
Here is the result of Tony's efforts, the 2019 remastering of "Space Oddity" (not the 360 RA mix). Read the rest
So, a gaggle of doctors discovered that I had an 80% blockage in one of my arteries: the result of bad genetics and my former attempts to kill myself with food and booze. There's a stent in me now and, although my mind is still right fucked up with all of the medical goings on, I'm still here. They found the issue without my having to have a heart attack first. I dodged a bullet.
You can't kill me.
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Robbo writes, "Gerald Casale, founder of DEVO, has written an open letter in response to the band being inducted into the Rock 'N' Roll Hall Of Fame."
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A piece of American rock 'n' roll history was discovered in western Massachusetts: the original Aerosmith tour van.
In a recently aired episode of the hit History Channel show, “American Pickers,” hosts and antique scavengers Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz tracked down the band’s original tour van in Chesterfield that the group used to schlep to gigs around New England in the early 1970s.
Not much was initially known about the rusted, 1964 International Harvester Metro van, buried in the woods, said the property’s owner, identified only as Phil, who told Wolfe and Fritz the vehicle was there when he bought the land.
Founding Aerosmith member and guitarist Ray Tabano confirmed the find, calling it the band's "rolling hotel." Wolfe and Fritz purchased the historic van for $25,000.
(Nag on the Lake)
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