If you think that Warner/Chappell's copyright control over the song Happy Birthday is an absurdity, how about EMI's strict licensing enforcement over many of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speeches, including his historic "I Have a Dream Speech," delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial 50 years ago today.
I discovered this while performing research for an episode of my radio show that aired last night honoring the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. I was aiming to air King's entire speech and was having trouble finding clean audio of it. In my hunting, I came upon articles (here and here and an op-ed in the Washington Posthere) chronicling the history of the King family estate's battles to preserve ownership of MLK's "performances."
In just the sort of act of civil disobedience Dr. King championed, the entire speech does keep popping up on Youtube and elsewhere, but the copyright cops keep getting them taken down.
The sale and broadcast of Henry Hampton's award-winning 1987 documentary Eyes on the Prize was held up for ages because the King Estate sued the filmmaker over use of unlicensed footage of King, including his "I Have a Dream" speech. Ironically, Hampton's film was further legally entangled by its inclusion of another piece of historic footage: a scene depicting Martin Luther King's staff singing him "Happy Birthday."
Your Tax Dollars at Work "Folk Music in America is a series of 15 LP records published by the Library of Congress between 1976 and 1978 to celebrate the bicentennial of the American Revolution. It was curated by librarian/collector-cum-discographer Richard K. Spottswood, and funded by a grant by the National Endowment for the Arts. The music, pulled primarily from the Library of Congress Archive of Folk Song (now Archive of Folk Culture), spans nearly a century (1890-1976) and virtually every form that can be considered American music. This includes native American songs and instrumental music, music of immigrant cultures from all over the world, and uniquely American forms like blues, jazz and country." (Description by Dinosaur Discs)
Still working my way through the last few months of live performances on the My Castle of Quiet program, we find ourselves now at this haunting session from late May by Pat Murano and Tom Carter.
This is an exciting time for improvised music in general, and the releases on Murano's Kelippah label, including the Carter/Murano LP, are at the very forefront of this exciting post-everything era in the genre. Here, we're "after" Krautrock, after 90s space-rock (Carter being a veteran of the much-respected, much-loved Charalambides), after the Parker/Bailey EMANEM-label vibrations from the UK, after doom/drone/"organic" improv, and basically that's all a good thing, as anything goes—one can tweak and kerplunk, be melodic, be massive, be subtle and contemplative, and give bursts of electronic noise, all in the course of one session, or even one piece.
Carter and Murano seem to guide one another into vast fields of arcing melody and rhythm, and at least for this session (one must consider all the Murano / Carter works to really get the gist, including the aforementioned LP, and NATCH 4, also offered on our Free Music Archive), we're in blooming meadows of post-Kraut brilliance. Especially in "Music #2," Murano's synth figures weave intricate spiderwebs over and under Carter's Michael Rother-like, slow-burn guitar improvisations, before collapsing into a welcome noise-gasm in the concluding minutes.
Yet again, that "magic room," also known as WFMU's studio B, and the forum of the My Castle... show, seem to have provided the comfortable environment for another history-making session to occur. And though kraut/space might be the listener's initial reaction, absolutely nothing is off the table, and I hear elements of dub, doom, and wild, free noise in these tracks. Lie back, with or without your inebriant of choice, and enjoy.
Huge thanks to Tom and Pat (Mr. Murano having the dubious distinction of being the most-often-featured live performer on The Castle, having played this session, as well as ones with Malkuth, K-Salvatore, solo as Decimus, and also on Brian Turner's program in the duo Key of Shame), and to engineer extraordinaire Juan Aboites, and to Tracy Widdess for yet another varicolored photo manipulation of my scrappy captures.
It's vacation week for me, so I'm offering up text and audio that are both short and sweet. I have a reel of tape which contains four totally unrelated segments of programming from the legendary classical station WFMT in Chicago. The two sections I can date are both from 1968, so I'm guessing that the others are, as well. They are edited together on a reel at random, so that if you play the reel, two of them are heard backwards, and two forwards on each side.
One track contains Tom Paxton talking about, then playing, a song he wrote for a memorial TV show after the death of Robert Kennedy. Another contains a dull interview with a classical conductor. The third is nothing more than part of a coloratura soprano aria.
Ah, but between the last two mentioned segments is some real weirdness. Clearly this was meant to be funny, but it's far less humorous than it is very peculiar. It portrays a phone call of complaint from a man, to a harried sounding WFMT announcer, who has taken the call while the currently scheduled record is playing. Perhaps this was met with great laughter at a WFMT staff meeting - that's one reason that occurs to me as to why it exists - but as I said, I just find it sort of intoxicatingly odd.
Last week here at the Comics Supplement we enjoyed the second appearance of strange villain The Minstrel, and this time we're going to back up and check out his first battle with Doll Man from two months earlier in DM's own magazine, from July 1949, as written once again by Bill Woolfolk and most likely drawn by Alex Kotzky.
Get set for some hot and nefarious banjo-pickin' licks from this crazy-looking fella (particularly in this episode) and learn about the possible reason that his design was completely revised between this adventure and his next outing barely two months later.
More exciting musical criminal action right after the jump!
The 3-D craze of nineteen fifties cinema was incredibly brief. 1953 was its banner year with at least thirty 3-D pictures released to the hordes. Although it quickly became associated with all-things juvenile and a ready replacement for the Saturday afternoon serials, the 3-D onslaught produced a few highly unlikely and decidedly mature little gems.
Take for instance Inferno starring Robert Ryan and Rhonda Fleming in multiple dimensions (skip your Rhonda Fleming joke, please). The premise was not for the kiddies. Fleming and a virile new man enjoy a torrid affair behind husband Robert Ryan's back. They scheme a way to get rid of him. Rhonda and Robert take a jaunt to a remote desert. Rhonda abandons him when he isn't looking. Rhonda speeds off and poor Robert is left to fend for himself amid heat and vultures. The rest of this incredible movie consists of Ryan's struggle to get back, griping and plotting his revenge, a sweaty, agitated internal monologue that drives the rest of the picture. Along the way he breaks his leg, nurses an infection and watches as an old prospector's house burns down, burning him alive, a grisly scene of a charred codger's corpse. Oh, and it's all in eye-popping 3-D.
Inferno is just one of several films being screened this September at the World 3-D Expo. It is not an annual event. To the contrary, it is as rare an event as some of the films themselves. Sure, plenty of rep cinemas around the world have a week or two where they showcase House of Wax with its obvious overwrought paddle-board-flying-in-your-face 3-D sequence. And sure, you may have attended a midnight screening of Friday the 13th 3-D, in which a group of teenagers hand the joint they're smoking right to you through the screen. However, any 3-D film you may have seen in a theater before was not projected as they will be this September, unless of course you were there in the nineteen fifties to catch 'em the first time round.
It took more than a pair of flimsy cardboard glasses to make 3-D movies work. It took two simultaneous projectors beaming two simultaneous images to create that original 3-D look. The World 3-D Expo - September 6 through the 15th - is projecting the films with dual projectors. Sound insufferably nerdy? Sure, it is, but attendees gave up the prospect of getting laid a long, long time ago. It's a unique experience and among some typical 3-D films come many you had no idea were meant to be viewed with cardboard eyewear. There'll be plenty of robot monsters and creatures in lagoons, but there's also the comedy team Martin and Lewis 3-Ding their supperclub shtick and a number of Looney Tunes cartoons you had no idea were originally shown in theaters in 3-D.
Here's an interesting little novelty 45 from circa 1958. It's "Froggie" Landers and his trusted by The Cough Drops, performing the song "RIver Rock".
Froggie sings in a Popeye-ish throat singing style, and while he doesn't have a whole lot to say, he sure says it in a memorable fashion. I also particularly like the addition of the bassoon adding a single deep note here and there, echoing the tone of Froggie's singing.
All the worthwhile bits of this record can be heard on the a-side. Perhaps due to having no other ideas at the moment, those behind this record put elements of the backing track on the b-side, with a couple of rough edits, one of them truly awful, and a reprise of the vocal near the end.
"Froggie" Landers was apparently the same person as Bob Landers, who made a single (and collectable) 45 for the Specialty label in 1956. But the most interesting thing about this record may be that the song was written by two men, unknown at the time, who were each about to start off on the legendary parts of their respective careers: Lou Adler and Herb Alpert!
Recently, while researching an upcoming blog post in this Comics Supplement series, I came across this second appearance of a villain called The Minstrel, a banjo-picking criminal. Unfortunately, when I looked The Minstrel up in the Grand Comics Database, I read the data wrong, and looked in the wrong place for the first Minstrel tale, so we'll look today at his second and final battle with Doll Man; perhaps I'll track down the first story someday. As soon as I saw a cover with a looming banjo-clad bad guy I thought it might make a good feature for a future blog.
The Doll Man was created in 1939 by the powerful team of Everett M. "Busy" Arnold and Will Eisner and he ran for 14 years in Feature Comics and then his own book. This particular story, late in his career, comes from Feature # 138, and is written by prolific comic book scribe William Woolfolk and possibly drawn by Bill Ward.
"Ohh, I'm a singin' minstrel man ... I sing and rob wherever I can!" Sound like my kinda musician! Let's join this concert of crime right after the jump!
UPDATE to this post: I just located the FIRST appearance of The Minstrel character (in Doll Man # 23) and I'll be posting it here in B.O.T.B. in my next installment, on August 17th.
As I said to the members of Bludded Head, for a good, long while, I'd been subsisting on the two, outstanding tracks from their debut 12"—and with great enthusiasm, am now proud to bring you live versions of these four, new compositions from this unique Texan doom outfit. Studio versions of the songs are also available from the band on limited CDr.
With two new members added to the lineup (and the original, intact core of Nevada Hill and Darcy Neal), these songs find BH in the realm of even greater dynamics and subtlety when compared to the tracks on their debut; the addition of double bass and an accomplished new drummer having opened up the compositional palate of the band considerably. None of the crunch has been sacrificed though, and Nevada's outrageous screams still ride atop the steamrolling melee of Bludded Head's mighty downbeats.
Doom bands come and go, many sounding similar to one another, with the greatest emphasis being placed on how far apart those gut-punch downbeats can be spaced; not so for Bludded Head, who seem in it to write, arrange and execute great songs, several worlds apart from the sameyness that characterizes many of their peers in the genre. My Castle of Quiet and WFMU caught up with the band mid-tour, and it shows, such that the freshness and intensity of these selections are at a dazzling peak.
Huge thanks are due to engineer Juan Aboites, for capturing the acoustic and electric powers of Bludded Head in equal measure, and creating a terrific, rich mix for broadcast. Thanks again to Tracy Widdess of Brutal Knitting, for the Alchemical process she always applies to my pixel-challenged captures of the band, weaving mediocre photo-snapping into art.
Last month's 1950's ads and jingles were well received, so for this month's reel, I got out a non-descript five inch reel - one that came to me with no writing, and no box - which contains nearly 20 nice radio ads and music beds.
I assume that the tape originated with whatever advertising agency produced all of these commercials, perhaps as a demo reel. The ads flow one after the other, with no leader between them, and sometimes virtually no tape space between them.
They range from barely 15 seconds to a few which go well over a minute (those that do almost fade out at the one minute point then come right back for another 10-15 seconds, perhaps for use by announcers who have more to say over the music.
The commercials are for both extremely well known brands, such as Green Giant, Chevy and Keebler, to companies I've never heard of, including Nekoosa Paper and Bernie Brothers (and I can't tell what the name of gas company is, in track two).
There are four tracks which are simply music beds (presumably for whatever use the station had in mind) and a fifth which only mentions the product at the end. There are even two ads which seem to be advertising the general use of an item, rather than a specific products - specifically, use of electric products (track 9) and use of sugar (track 16).
Today's Comic Supplement brings you jitterbugging animals - lots of them. If you are halfway hep to the jive, slip a nickle into the nearest jukebox and grab a partner to swing along to these two jumping stories from Hi-Jinx magazine, as published by B&I Publishing and edited by Richard E. Hughes.
The Dan Gordon-esque art runs throughout the book, as well as the wiggly-line, brush-drawn panel borders, making for a consistently attractive product. This is the only issue of the magazine available to me right now, and the art is unsigned, but is certainly by the very prolific artist and animator Jack Bradbury, who has a site all his own here.
Join us for two funny-animal adventures from just after the war: the first involving a jukebox rental, and in the second, we learn the 'hep' vocabulary for various instruments in a music store (with guest star 'Tommy Horsey'), right after the jump!
This year, I saw two Independence Day-themed exhibits, of
which it would be easy to categorize one as real and one as not, except that,
technically, both are “real.” Or maybe one is just as much a figment of
meaning-projection as the other. I can’t decide.
The first display was at the New York Public Library, which
was showing an original draft of the Declaration of Independence, as
written by Thomas Jefferson, along with one of the original 14 copies of the
proposed Bill of Rights. Both these documents are extremely rare, and the
Library has never exhibited them together before. Because they're so fragile,
they were on display for only three days, July 1–3.
I went to see them after work on
Tuesday, when the library was open late, and stood in line for 45 minutes,
which was totally worth it. It’s hard to write about the experience without
sounding like a Frank Capra film. The crowd was large and diverse, and
noticeably respectful. Even standing in line, everybody was polite and patient,
which is something I don’t recall ever experiencing in an NYC queue before. The
crowd fanned out once we were admitted to the room where the documents were in
three displays: Jefferson's two-sheet (front and back) Declaration, sandwiched
in glass inside two separate vitrines, so you could read all four pages; and
the large, printed Bill of Rights (one of only 14 original copies known to
exist) laid on a slanted backing inside another, much larger display case. Even
though people were allowed to crowd around the displays at will, there was no
bad behavior that I saw: Everyone waited patiently for their turn and looked as
long as they liked.
As the last hours of the festive Independence Day long weekend pass us by, here's an appropriate record for the holiday. It's a piece of patriotic drivel written by someone named Michael Quirk, and titled "Have You Thought About Freedom Lately?". Quirk himself recorded the piece at some point, and his version can be found a few places on the internet. But for this release (which the record label oddly shows to have a running time which is over a minute more than its true length), the artist is Eddie Paul:
Today we'll have a light and fun post for the WFMU Comic Supplement: a very cute little five-pager
illustrated by Jim Tyer, as published in Giggle Comics volume one, number 10, from July 1944.
The 'star' artist of the book was Dan Gordon, but this well-done series of animal funnybooks features many other fine cartoonists, such as Lynn Karp and Ken Hultgren.
Tyer's exuberant and frantic drawings in this story give a good idea of how his work would appear in full motion; sight gags abound and there is heavy character distortion and rubberiness, which I always enjoy. His wild and stylish work in animation is well known and spoken about here and here.
So let's join our pals from Giggle Comics at the premiere of The Great Symphony - right after the jump!
The 1960’s Brazilian art movement, Tropicália, began as a youthful
challenge to convention, and fell into being a youthful rebellion
against an unjust and militaristic government. Like many musicians
around the world at the time (Bob Dylan, The Beatles), these ones found
themselves thrust into the center of the 60’s political activism
movement, whether they were willing or not.
Tropicália began as an art movement by young Brazilians of the 1960’s
to bring the musical and cultural offerings of their nation to the
world. As a result of this desire, musicians incorporated
non-traditional instruments into their native music, primarily guitars.
The common rock ‘n roll instrument was regarded by artists of the Bossa
Nova movement, and other traditional artists, as a cheapening of
Brazilian music. It showed a disregard for heritage, and the ‘true’
sounds of Brazil. It was this music that had to come up
This session is a monster, black-metal fire that strafes the earth and then salts it for good measure. Fuckin' unbelievable.
Speaking very generally, black metal can be divided into two, distinct subgroups; the raw and the dirty, with its roots in punk, and the more "musicianly," with expert playing, and grander, more-"orchestrated" concepts. Either way, to pass my filter, the songwriting is key, and has to be there to bring the sound across.
Naturally, there's been significant cross-pollination of these two basic styles over the years, and One Master are perhaps the finest example of a band that has chops to spare, with longer, epic songs, but with not an ounce of grit sacrificed—in fact, the sheer gut-punch of this session, as well as One Master's two full-lengths and split cassette with Glass Coffin, will simply bowl you over like a life-affirming ass-kicking. Even as I listen now, after many a deep sit-down with the material, the ferocity of One Master's Castle session is staggering and the first thing your ears will notice—melodic riffs, deftly arranged and well-written songs, delivered with mighty, mighty force.
These guys were also great to hang with, and we had lots to jaw about off-air, with our shared obsessions for classic horror / exploitation film and the like. These are men you can have a beer with, and talk about Cannibal Ferox on into the night. I recall saying, "Is there any scene in Requiem for a Vampire other than the basement-torture scene? 'Cause if there is, I don't remember it...." hehe....
Thanks a fuck-ton to the band for bringing their exquisite black-metal art to WFMU, and to engineer Juan Aboites for creating a clean, solid and forceful mix for the broadcast. Thanks also to Tracy Widdess of Brutal Knitting for re-crafting my shitty iPhone band captures.