Robert Frank is Dead.

Frank created a book of photographs called The Americans back in the 50s. It’s a terrific book of strikingly straightforward and revealing images full of, um, Americans.
Jack Kerouac wrote the introduction to The Americans, an obvious choice at the moment On the Road ruled the world. Kerouac also wrote and narrated Frank’s first film, a shambling tale of New York City’s bohemian lives, called Pull My Daisy. You can view it here. Frank, of course, took the photos that made up the collagey cover of the Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street.
Frank also made a tour documentary with the Stones at about the same time. It is called Cocksucker Blues and the Stones, who have said they thought the film was excellent, sued to keep it from being released because its explicit sex and drug scenes were too much even for them. A deal was reached that allowed Frank to show the movie five times a year provided he was in attendance. I remember one year leaving the Rolling Stone magazine Christmas party early to see the film at the Anthology Film Archives on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. You can find the film in pieces on You Tube, from time to time. Frank clearly wasn’t policing the copyright, nor were the Stones, as evidenced by this music video that uses some of the film.
Frank also made some dramatic films that drew notice, though the only one I saw was a shambling road picture featuring a who’s who of cool rock dudes in the late 80s (I’m talking guys named Johansen, Waits and Strummer, plus Leon Redbone).
This is the trailer with French titles.
This seems to be the whole film with German titles.
Final bonus video with Frank’s Super 8 film of the Stones.

It Should Have Been Me X 2

My friend Rael posted about a girl group called the Fortune Cookies on Facebook. They have a record called It Should Have Been Me. Good song, standard girl group arrangement. The video uses The Graduate well. https://youtu.be/a7da84nRkKY But of course things don’t stop there. There is, it turns out, another song called It Should Have Been Me with a wedding theme, and a totally different sound. Also well worth hearing.

The Royal Guardsmen, Snoopy vs. The Red Baron

I just finished a 10 day challenge to name my Top 10 influential albums in 10 days, and then nominate 10 poor sods to do the same. The lesson of this exercise is you have to cut a lot of good stuff out. So from now until whenever I stop, here’s some other albums that meant a lot to me. With a song from each. The album this song came from was the first rock/pop album I ever owned. It also has a great version of The Battle of New Orleans, but I think this bit of cheese has legs. I’m not saying it’s a great song, but for a 10 year old? Killer.
This was my first pop music album. Influential? Yep.

Darlingside, Hold Your Head Up High

I wrote about these guys a few years ago, posting one of their new wavey songs with an excellent video. That was then. After they made that good song their drummer left, and rather than replace him they remade themselves as a bizarrely earnest harmony band. They stand on the stage, no matter how big, closely together so they can hear their partners and make incredibly lovely harmonies. They played tonight in the park by our house, and we were jazzed. This is music that is far from rock, but also music that has no genre. I think sometimes they sound like Mumford and Sons, revivalists with big ideas, but they resist that. They aren’t old style. They’re still new-wavey, only they eschew the drum kit (they have a kick drum) and they love their voices, which they surely should. Moyer will roll over tonight. Good for him.
So, YouTube fed me this one I didn’t know. I like this band.

Wicked Lady, Plastic Queen

Live and learn. I found the source for my Wicked Lady post. Dangerous Minds. There was also a band called Wicked Lady in the Netherlands in the late 70s. This clip is from 1981.
If you listen to the songs linked in the Dangerous Minds story you’ll find some good sounds with some pretty weak songs. This might be the best of them, if you don’t count Girls cover of Cherry Bomb. Plus that’s a nice guitar solo. Not that punk.

Wicked Lady, Run The Night

I don’t really know how I found this. I think it was a story about girl rock bands from the 60s, though when I found a short biography of the band it was quickly clear that these were blokes in this band. These were Englishy blokes who got together in 1968 and quickly had a following of bikers who discouraged club owners from booking the band. After too much drinking and too many drugs they broke up, then reformed with a new bass player and recorded their songs, which were then pressed in a very limited run for band members and their families. They seem to have had a bad attitude, they reportedly played the same song over and over again at one gig until the owner threw them off the stage, and once again broke up, this time for good. All this biography is from a page at AllMusic.com. At some point a compilation of Wicked Lady’s song was released by Kissing Spell Records, which is when the band went from anonymous bangers to psychedelic revival candidates. One of their newly found fans created this excellent home made video on YouTube in 2012. You can find their tunes on Google Music and Spotify. In the end, it looks like Wicked Lady is kind of immortal.
Another home made video for this song.
Seems that the music is now licensed to YouTube by a Spanish record company called Guerssen.

Lawr Michaels, Have Fun Til the End

I became friends with Lawr, like most, because of our mutual loves of baseball (real and fantasy) and rock ‘n’ roll, but much of our chatter when we would get together was about literature and storytelling, or food and cooking, or politics and wishing.

For most of the history of the Fantasy Baseball Guide Lawr put together the Mock Draft, assembling All-Star casts from his wide circle of friends and experts. Back in the early days his wife, Cathy, worked as proofreader and copyeditor on the Guide. She passed away not long after from cancer, and as one got to know Lawr one learned that his grand passion and enthusiasm for doing things came from a shadow of tragedy that trailed after him his whole life.

In 2011 he released a full album of original songs called Downward Facing Dog. I reviewed it on Amazon, where you can now find a copy for $32 cheap, to support my friend but also because I think it’s a terrific piece of work. 

Lawr was diagnosed a few months ago with some potentially serious problems and set himself on an even better diet than the good diet he already followed, and he tried to strengthen up by taking care. He said he would work on the Guide this year, but then stepped back. He passed on our Tout Wars meetings, and said he had Rock Remnants pieces to write but had to get better first. When I heard he’d taken a turn for the worse a few days ago I thought of his love for the Kinks and Richard Thompson, but when I’d heard the bad news this morning I thought of this Lawr original song.

Well, I thought of the studio version, which is neater, but this rougher version has video of Lawr himself, which is just a moment of comfort at this sad time.

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