Madeline

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Fab Faux - Live @ Radio City

  - 10th Anniversary Concert

 September 20, 2008

By Madeline Bocaro

This is just an informal review for my friends who weren't there, and those who were in a boat on a river with tangerine trees and marmalade skies.

I'm really not big on imitations, especially when it comes to The Beatles, but this is an exception. This was the biggest show ever for the Fab Faux, on their 10th Anniversary. It's the closest you'll ever come to experiencing the Beatles live. Every note of every instrument is re-created as near to perfect as it is on each of their multi-tracked albums.

This particular show – the psychedelic Beatles - took these songs out of the studio at last, which was not possible for the Beatles to achieve in their time. The Fab Faux are Will Lee from David Letterman's show, Jimmy Vivino from the Conan O'Brien show, plus three more incredible musician/lead vocalists - Rich Pagano, Frank Agnello, and Jack Petruzzell who play various instruments. There were at least a dozen people onstage at all times, including wonderful augmentation by the Hogshead Horns and Crème Tangerine strings.

We set off on a two-hour long 'Magical Mystery Tour' (the first song of the night) through 30 Beatles classics, with stunning projected imagery. The evening was surprisingly Harrison-heavy; 'All Too Much', 'The Inner Light', 'Within You, Without You', 'Blue Jay Way'… with an abundance of Indian instruments. They even rolled out one of Radio City's two historic 75 year old Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organs for a theatrical rave-up prior to 'Only A Northern Song'.

Many thanks were given from the stage to each Beatle, to their producer George Martin, and to Abbey Road engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott who helped the band to achieve these sounds in the studio. The instrumental 'Flying' was a very cool surprise.

John was represented on 'I'm Only Sleeping', and 'Good Morning'. The warped tempo and pitch changes from the tape splicing on 'Strawberry Fields Forever' were right on key. For 'Tomorrow Never Knows', a tweaked megaphone was used for the spiritual vocal effect that Lennon wanted and described to Emerick years ago; 'like the Dalai Lama chanting on a mountaintop miles away'. 'I Am the Walrus' was sheer perfection. 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' was magical. The rare bird-chirping opening prefaced a glorious harp on 'Acrosss the Universe'. 'Rain' was incredible - backwards and forwards!

Paul's tunes were impeccable as well; 'Penny Lane', 'The Fool On The Hill', 'Baby You're a Rich Man', 'Got To Get You Into My Life', 'Good Day Sunshine', 'Lovely Rita', and of course 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' (Parts 1 and 2).

'Yellow Submarine' brought everyone to their feet. Most thrilling was the infamous grand octave-climbing orchestral crescendo at the end of 'A Day In The Life'. The sustained, dramatic final note would have been the perfect ending to the evening, as it was quite mesmerizing, but there was much more yet to come.

'All You Need is Love' was heralded by the oh-so-familiar trumpeting trumpets. 'Glass Onion' was announced as 'the last psychedelic Beatles song'. The show-stopper was 'Hey Jude'.

The Fab Faux will probably be in your area one day soon, performing any combination of Beatles sets; entire albums, the Cavern era, etc... Go and see them at least once in your lifetime!


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Klaus Nomi - Riding The New Wave


by Madeline Bocaro

The transitional period between decades is highly charged with the excitement of things to come, and with nostalgia for an era coming to an end. The 1970s ended with punk rock stomping out Disco. By 1979 the New Wave was already upon us. Simmering beneath the deliberate crudeness, realism and rage of Punk was a brightly coloured, cosmetic, futuristic fantasy world. The movement’s forerunners were fans of British Glam rock, especially of David Bowie. They had an ironic affection for the danceability of Disco, hoping to replace it with a more whimsical, eccentric and sardonic genre. It was time for some fun. The Rocky Horror Picture Show was back in town!

 New York City had a healthy club scene in 1979. CBGB still hosted local bands like Blondie, the Ramones and Talking Heads. Hurrah! was the New Wave dance spot. Danceteria and the Mudd Club hosted rock bands. Discos were booming. Studio 54 and Max’s Kansas City coexisted. Music was becoming more synthesized and Euro-flavored, ever since the Giorgio Moroder-produced Donna Summer hit, ‘I Feel Love’ (1977) inspired electronic experimentation within dance music. This was usually reserved for New Age or Jazz, but now dance music could be taken to the outer limits as well. This new sound was known in Europe as New Romantic. The dawn of MTV forced musicians to be more concerned with visual appearance. Heavy Metal became Hair Metal. Soon came the wrath of Madonna.

Meanwhile, a strange looking, brilliant futuristic fellow from a distant galaxy (Germany) had been living quietly in New York City since 1972. His name was Klaus Sperber. He developed an act and a persona to complement his extraordinary singing talents and transformed into Klaus Nomi. His story is short, but sweet - and so was he! Had he lived a full life, the 80’s surely would have been more noteworthy. The musical climate was perfect for what he had to offer. Nomi could see the future clearly – in fact, he was already living in it. French TV Interview: It was said about you that you were either the 8th wonder of the world, or a tragic accident of the nature. What do you think of this definition? Klaus: ‘Oh it’s wonderful, it’s extraordinary. I hope it’s true!’

Soon our paths would cross. In 1978, I became a regular shopper at the trendy NYC fashion spot, Fiorucci where the Day-Glo colored clothing was made of leather, plastic, rubber and vinyl. Fiorucci was not just a store, but also a brand new synthetic scene. They sold clothing by new cutting edge designers, and their own Fiorucci brand. Andy Warhol frequented the store, which also sold all the latest fashion magazines. The newest, coolest music was played there; Kraftwerk, The B-52’s, Blondie, Devo, Bowie.  In-store dance parties spilled over into the store’s 59th street storefront windows.

I bought a new Fiorucci outfit each week. My hair was purple (Manic Panic’s Crazy Color brand – Aubergine) with flaming pink streaks. A Fiorucci manager named Joey Arias (the now world-famous diva!) outfitted me in fabulous clothes. Joey’s hair was a different florescent color each week. Once it was stenciled in a leopard print!

At Christmas time in 1979, Fiorucci sold a postcard with a picture of a strange looking fellow which read, “Klaus Nomi". Thinking it meant ‘Merry Christmas’ in German, I bought the card. 

On December 15, 1979 David Bowie was the musical guest on NBC’s Saturday Night, a live TV show taped in New York City. This performance is now legendary. It was impossible to get a ticket, but my friend’s dad (a VP at WNBC television) apologized for not getting us a seat inside the studio, but we could stand in the hallway outside the control room. This was even better, since it was right outside the dressing rooms! We attended the afternoon run-through rehearsal at 4:00 pm, and went home that night to watch the live broadcast

The studio was buzzing with excitement. Jane Curtin and Larraine Newman were jumping around yelling, “BOWIE IS IN THE BUILDING!!” I suddenly recognized Joey from Fiorucci (who was also a member of Nomi’s band) in the hallway. Joey excitedly explained that Bowie had asked him to sing back-up vocals on the show! 

It was incredible to meet Bowie, who was stunningly ethereal and very sweet. Bowie stood with a peculiar little guy dressed in black. He kissed my hand and proudly introduced his new friend, ‘Klaus Nomi’.  I was excited to see my postcard photo come to life! These three creatures in exquisite makeup enraptured me, as did Nomi’s pointed hair-style and German accent. Klaus smiled sweetly he also kissed my hand, and his eyes twinkled. He wore the softest black leather elbow-length gloves - quite glamorous! I asked who did their fabulous makeup (the meticulous details were not visible on TV). They boasted that they had decorated each other. “Joey did mine and I did his, and we did David’s!” Boys will be girls!

First they performed ‘The Man Who Sold The World’. Joey and Klaus had to carry Bowie on-stage because his bizarre sculpted Dadaist costume completely encased his legs. Klaus and Joey sang backing vocals. You could hear Nomi’s authentic, immaculate countertenor quite clearly - a wondrous gift that would evoke emotion and astonishment in any listener. Back to the dressing room…

Bowie emerged for his second song ‘TVC 15’ – in drag! It was a drab gray Communist China style airline stewardess suit with a calf-length skirt. David’s look was inspired by a work of the father of photomontage, Jon Heartfield. The outfit was accessorized with hideous gray suede sling-back shoes and black stockings. If I had not been leaning on a wall, I surely would have fallen over backwards and fainted!  It was delightful to see that Bowie was back to his old glam/drag tricks!

The trio then rehearsed their ‘macho’ dance moves for ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ in the hallway. For the broadcast, Bowie’s torso was replaced by a puppet’s body, which he wore over a green leotard. Bowie manipulated the puppet’s dancing legs, with his own body blocked out, using green-screen effects. Although a ‘questionable’ lyric was muted, (‘other boys check you out') the censors did not notice the puppet’s ‘excitement’ below the belt at the song’s climax, cunningly reserved for the live broadcast!

I accepted Mr. Nomi’s invitation to his next concert at Hurrah! I was honoured to see him perform many times thereafter. Each highly theatrical performance begat gasps and rapturous applause. Anyone could appreciate his pop-operatics. His songs were keyboard-laden with melodic guitar, and Nomi’s stunning vocals. The classical arias were captivating, especially with the freaky visual juxtaposition. This was something else completely - something special!

Klaus Sperber was born on January 24, 1944 in Immenstadt, Bavaria, Germany. As a teenager, Klaus worked as an usher at the Deutsche Oper in West Berlin. He would climb onstage and serenade his co-workers after the shows. Klaus also sang operatic arias at a gay Berlin discothèque called Kleist Casino. His favourite singers were Elvis Presley and Maria Callas.

Klaus came to New York’s Greenwich Village from Germany in 1972 and became a pastry chef. His Lime Tart recipe is now legendary! However, he yearned to use his operatic voice in the pop/rock arena. He would pose in the window of Fiorucci as a mannequin for hours, never blinking his eyes once, and performed an in-store live concert. Klaus was an excellent mime and a rare talent. His range from baritone to soprano was beyond belief, coupled with his spiked blue-black hair and matching lipstick, white painted face and his twinkling eyes. In his white gloves, shiny monochromatic plastic space tuxedo, pointy elf boots and black spandex leotards (he must have frequented the most elegant space places!), Klaus resembled a real-life toy  - a cross between Mickey Mouse and the Tin Man! 

Klaus adopted the name ‘Nomi’ - an anagram of Omni, a science-fiction magazine. “It could be any nation, because I see myself as universal, not as German, American, French or whatever you want, cause we are all on this planet, we’re all living on the earth.”

Nomi appeared in a satirical camp production of Richard Wagner's Das Rheingold with Charles Ludlam's Ridiculous Theater Company in 1972. He played the Rheinmaiden and the Wood Bird.

Despite the freaky façade, Klaus was a really sweet, adorable guy, in love with life. He would kiss my cheek and leave a black lipstick print every time! You could see him walking down New York’s St. Mark’s Place in his fuzzy electric blue coat and full makeup in broad daylight. 

His first appearance as ‘Klaus Nomi’ was in 1978 at Tom Scully and Susan Hannaford’s New Wave Vaudeville Show, directed by East Village legend Ann Magnuson. He was an overnight club sensation. One of Nomi’s earliest costumes worn at his debut featured a clear plastic cape, which was a vintage raincoat originally belonging to New York rocker Howie Pyro’s mother! Joey Arias soon introduced Klaus to the fashions of Thierry Mugler and Yamamoto.   

Nomi’s iconic space tuxedo was inspired by the one Bowie wore while singing ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ on SNL. It was based on a costume designed by Sonia Delaunay and worn by 1920s Dadaist artist Tristan Tzara for the play Le Cour a Gaz (The Gas Heart). The hard plastic sculptural silhouette, mimicking a tuxedo completely encased David’s legs. It was accented by an oversized striped bowtie. The costume was designed by Bowie, with Mark Ravitz of Brooks-Van Horn Costume Co. Bowie’s written instructions to Ravitz read, “Access into and out of to be easy. (back door/gate?)”  

Replicating Bowie’s monochrome Dadaist outfit would cost $1,500, which Klaus, the pastry chef could not afford. However, the costumer was so moved by Nomi’s passion that he agreed to make him a triangular shiny plastic tuxedo bodice. 

The ball gown/stockade was another masterpiece! Nomi’s pointed monochrome outfits became popular decades later - adapted by director Tim Burton for Johnny Depp’s look in the film Edward Scissorhands, used as the basis of Jean-Paul Gaultier’s Spring 2009 couture runway show, and endlessly pillaged by Lady Gaga.

In SNL’s popular skit Sprockets, Mike Myers played the character Dieter, a bored, disaffected German  expressionist /minimalist who would apathetically interview celebrities. Although the character’s monkey was named Klaus, Myers has stated that Klaus Nomi inspired his Dieter character.

 Nomi’s now infamous TV appearance with Bowie secured a deal with RCA records in 1980. Nomi’s debut album consisted of originals (penned by his brilliant new musical director, Kristian Hoffman of The Mumps) and covers of pop and opera classics by Lou Christie, Marlene Dietrich, Lesley Gore, and Harold Arlen’s ‘Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead’. 

A European tour ensued. At a show at Le Palace, the entire fashion community showed up because they were intrigued by Nomi’s angular, polished and glossy look. Everybody who was anybody in Paris wanted to meet him. Nomi then recorded his second album Simple Man (1982), including two arias by 17th century composer Henry Purcell from the opera King Arthur.

Nomi’s amazing stage visuals were a sort of Kabuki-Cabaret. Klaus descended from outer space in a cloud of smoke (dry ice actually, showering the audience with a cool heavenly mist). The band was hidden behind a curtain while Klaus and his mime troupe - Joey and a couple of exquisitely made-up Martian girls and boys - performed alien theatrics, churning out strangely yet accessible cover tunes; ‘I Feel Love’ (the Donna Summer hit), Lou Christie’s ‘Lightning Strikes’ and Chubby Checker’s ‘The Twist’. Nomi’s other songs (penned by Kristian Hoffman, with great contributions from Joey Arias and George Elliott) were melodic Euro-pop tunes with otherworldly lyrics about outer space, death and the distant future. The Nomi character and his evocative vocals brought warmth to the otherwise cold synthetic sound - Kraftwerk with personality. Klaus closed each show with the operatic aria ‘Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix’ ("My heart opens to your voice") from Camille Saint-Saëns' 1877 opera Samson et Dalila, astonishing the crowd every time.

Nomi’s performance at the disco Xenon on February 25, 1980 was simply magnificent. The oblivious dancing crowd was unaware there would be a show at all, and when their precious disco music suddenly stopped and the curtain rose on-stage, they hissed and booed. Klaus immediately entranced them with his sublime vocals and self-created illustrious character, transporting everyone to his planet. At the end of the forty-minute performance, he disappeared into the vaporous stratosphere from which he came. Everyone screamed for an encore!  First there was the dead silence of disbelief, then bewildered cries of, “What was that?!” then a thunderous burst of wild applause. 

Nomi performed a stunning two-night engagement at Hurrah! on March 18-19, 1980. Even the audience was quite glamourous! We were sure that we had witnessed the beginning of something big.
  
Klaus last performed in New York at the Mudd Club in 1982 - out of costume, but still in full make-up. 

For his final performance ever (an intensely stunning and regal performance of ‘After The Fall’ / ‘Cold Song’ with a full orchestra on German TV) Klaus wore an ornate Baroque outfit complete with a grand ruff collar. Then he suddenly and mysteriously disappeared forever. Joey Arias remembers, "I still get goose pimples when I think about it... It was like he was from a different planet and his parents were calling him home. When the smoke cleared, he was gone." 

Klaus died of AIDS at age 39 on August 6, 1983. It’s tragic that it all started and ended so quickly. Nomi’s ashes were scattered in New York City. 

I will always remember his sincere, sweet smile and the twinkle in his eyes. He was so happy to finally be on the road to success after the big thrust that Bowie had given his career. Klaus touched many people with his wonderful gift. His golden voice lives on. 

Shortly before his death, Klaus was asked what project he would have most like to perform. He said, ‘Hänsel und Gretel’ (the opera by Engelbert Humperdinck). And which role?  Klaus smiled, raised his hands in an operatic gesture, and said, “The Witch, of course!”

The wonderful Klaus Nomi is still admired by countless musicians, artists and designers worldwide, such as Morrissey who still plays Nomi recordings prior to his own gigs. (“Nomi sang like a man trapped in the body of a dead girl.”) 

(All three of Bowie’s SNL costumes, along with the pink poodle prop, are on tour with the David Bowie Is exhibit worldwide, which debuted in 2013 at the V&A in London!)

Must See:
The Nomi Song - Documentary film, now available on DVD.
www.thenomisong.com

Za Bakdaz
Klaus Nomi’s Unfinished Opera
Heliocentric
by Madeline Bocaro
www.zabakdaz.com

As one of the few lucky humans to have witnessed Nomi’s brief earthly visitation, it is with mixed feelings that I write. Arriving within a third-life of Haley’s comet - 25 years after his death - a new disc of unreleased Nomi product is a treasure, no matter what. Perhaps so many years without a new utterance from this astroNOMIcal being brings too many great expectations. Therefore, five words sum it up - is that all there is?

After recording only two studio albums for RCA in 1981 and 1982 and making a splash on the new wave scene with his extraordinary live shows, the strangely gifted, bizarre and alluring Nomi died in 1983. His early collaborators, George Elliott and Page Wood have resurrected some experimental demo tapes made in New York on home equipment in 1979, and assembled them into a gorgeous, artful package in dedication to their winged friend Klaus. The lengthy fictitious, nonsensical sleeve notes prove that they are indeed in their own galaxy, as was their other-worldly pal. However, it is presented as a new Nomi disc - his ‘unfinished opera’ - when it is in fact an Elliott/Wood production, sampling Nomi’s vocals.

The alien soundscapes of Za Bakdaz literally seem to frame the wailing of a sad, distant ghost. Fragments of precious operatic Nomi vocalizations (mostly phonetic, and therefore even more haunting) are interspersed with classical and spacey orchestrations. Nomi loved and merged retro and futuristic genres in his lifetime.

There are flourishes of brilliance, but not on every track. “Finale”, “Overture” and “Za Bakdaz” are basically the same piece of music, and the entire opus runs just over 30 minutes. Some of this material was released on the Za Bakdaz single in 1998, including Nomi’s flippant “Silent Night”.

When we find fault in this, we should ask, ‘Should these few precious Nomi gems have been left in a shoebox in the closet, or released for the world to hear?’ If this is truly all the vocal material Elliott and Wood had to work with, they certainly did the best they possibly could.

Nomi’s eyes welled up with sincerity during each live performance, and his pure emotion transcended on record. He would disappear in a mist of dry ice at the end of each spectacular performance, leaving his audience paralyzed with reverence. Klaus returns on this disc, ever so briefly, then quickly vaporizes into the ether - freezing again to death. But I have a strange feeling he’ll be back!

A "biographical musical fantasy" entitled You Don't Nomi was written by French playwright Baptiste Delval. A play entitled Klaus Nomi – Angel of Suburbia by Sven Henriksen was staged (April, 2011) in Oslo, Norway. Nomi was played by countertenor/actor Oystein Elle.


KLAUS NOMI - COLLABORATIONS / TV/ FILMS / AFTERMATH

• In the late 1970s while performing at various New York City clubs (Club 57, The Mudd Club, The Pyramid) Nomi assembled a group of up-and-coming models, singers, artists and musicians to perform live with him. They included Joey Arias, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, John Sex and Kenny Scharf. He also appeared on Manhattan Cable's TV Party.

• In 1980, Klaus played a supporting role as a Nazi official in Anders Grafstrom's underground film The Long Island Four. The 1981 rock documentary film, Urgh! A Music War features Nomi's live performance of ‘Total Eclipse’.

• Art exhibits based on Nomi were held in San Francisco at the New Langton Arts gallery, and in Milan (Italy), entitled: Do You Nomi? In 2001 German band Rosenstolz, featuring alternative pop stars Marc Almond and Nina Hagen, covered ‘Total Eclipse’ for a maxi single CD release.

• A cartoon version of Klaus Nomi appears in a 2-part episode of animated comedy/adventure TV series The Venture Bros. In Showdown at Cremation Creek (Part I), he appears as one of David Bowie's bodyguard henchmen (with an animated Iggy Pop). "Klaus" attacks his opponents with ultra-high-pitched singing and the over-sized bow tie of his famous costume, spins and ejects as a battering weapon. In Showdown at Cremation Creek (Part II), ‘Klaus’ is killed after betraying Bowie (when he and Iggy Pop are called ‘stooges’ Klaus says "I wasn't in the Stooges!")

• Nomi's cover of Lesley Gore's 1964 hit ‘You Don't Own Me’ has been featured on the nationally broadcast radio show The Rush Limbaugh Show as the ‘Gay Update Theme.’

• Nomi's visual aesthetic has been an influence on women's fashion designers such as Boudicca, Givenchy, and Paco Rabanne, and also men's fashion designers such as Gareth Pugh and Bruno Pieters for Hugo Boss. Jean Paul Gaultier's Spring 2009 couture was influenced by Nomi. Gaultier used Nomi's recording of ‘The Nomi Song’ in his runway show.

• Two of Klaus Nomi’s costumes - donated by Joey Arias, are part of the Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990 exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Nomi’s costumes, and also video projections of him singing, are among 250 objects across all genres of art and design, revisiting a time when style was not just a ‘look’ but became an attitude. The exhibit runs from September 2011 through January 2012.

KLAUS NOMI - COLLABORATIONS / TV/ FILMS / AFTERMATH

In the late 1970s while performing at various New York City clubs (Club 57, The Mudd Club, The Pyramid) Nomi assembled a group of up-and-coming models, singers, artists and musicians to perform live with him.  They included Joey Arias, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, John Sex and Kenny Scharf. He also appeared on Manhattan Cable's TV Party.

In 1980, Klaus played a supporting role as a Nazi official in Anders Grafstrom's underground film The Long Island Four. The 1981 rock documentary film, Urgh! A Music War features Nomi's live performance of ‘Total Eclipse’.

Art exhibits based on Nomi were held in San Francisco at the New Langton Arts gallery, and in Milan (Italy), entitled: Do You Nomi? In 2001 German band Rosenstolz, featuring alternative pop stars Marc Almond and Nina Hagen, covered ‘Total Eclipse’ for a maxi single CD release.

A cartoon version of Klaus Nomi appears in a 2-part episode of animated comedy/adventure TV series The Venture Bros. In Showdown at Cremation Creek (Part I), he appears as one of David Bowie's bodyguard henchmen (with an animated Iggy Pop). "Klaus" attacks his opponents with ultra-high-pitched singing and the over-sized bow tie of his famous costume, spins and ejects as a battering weapon. In Showdown at Cremation Creek (Part II), ‘Klaus’ is killed after betraying Bowie (when he and Iggy Pop are called ‘stooges’ Klaus says "I wasn't in the Stooges!")

Nomi's cover of Lesley Gore's 1964 hit ‘You Don't Own Me’ has been featured on the nationally broadcast radio show The Rush Limbaugh Show as the ‘Gay Update Theme.’

Nomi's visual aesthetic has been an influence on women's fashion designers such as Boudicca, Givenchy, and Paco Rabanne, and also men's fashion designers such as Gareth Pugh and Bruno Pieters for Hugo Boss. Jean Paul Gaultier's Spring 2009 couture was influenced by Nomi. Gaultier used Nomi's recording of ‘The Nomi Song’ in his runway show.

Two of Klaus Nomi’s costumes - donated by Joey Arias, are part of the Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990 exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Nomi’s costumes, and also video projections of him singing, are among 250 objects across all genres of art and design, revisiting a time when style was not just a ‘look’ but became an attitude.  The exhibit runs from September 2011 through January 2012.

In 2013, Nomi collaborators Joey Arias and Kristian Hoffman united for a Klaus Tribute show, Lightning Strikes which debuted in L.A., and toured to Portland, Salt Lake City, Seattle and New York. Their 2014 European tour coincided with what would have been Nomi's 70th birthday.

Albums:

• Klaus Nomi 1981 / Simple Man 1982 / Encore 1983 / In Concert 1986 / Za Bakdaz 2007 (posthumous compilation of an unfinished opera)

Singles:
• ‘You Don't Own Me’ / ‘Falling in Love Again (Can't Help It)’ (1981)
• ‘Nomi Song’ / ‘Cold Song’ (1982)
• ‘Lightning Strikes’ / ‘Falling in Love Again (Can't Help It)’ (1982)
• ‘Simple Man’ / Death (1982)
• ‘Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead’ / ‘ICUROK’ (1982)
• ‘CUROK’ / ‘Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead’ (Canadian 12")
• ‘Za Bak Daz’ / ‘Silent Night’ (CD single, 1998)
• ‘After the Fall’

• Music Videos: (Japan VHS): ‘Falling in Love Again’, ‘Lightning Strikes’, ‘Nomi Song’, ‘Simple Man’

• Movie appearances: Urgh! A Music War (1982) / The Long Island Four (1979) - Klaus sings ’Falling In Love Again’ in the night-club scene. (Now available on DVD) / Mr. Mike's Mondo Video (1979)

Iggy & The Stooges-Live in NYC 2008

MONSTERS of Rock

IGGY & THE STOOGES – Live at Terminal 5 – New York City

August 8, 2008

By Madeline Bocaro

 

Statistically, they should all be dead. Some of them are. But Iggy and the surviving Stooges prevail. They defy evolution, yet they survive and persevere thanks to their primal instincts. Last week, their equipment was stolen in Canada, leading us to wonder if the reunited Sex Pistols had been in town at the time. If so, this would have been the biggest heist for Steve Jones to date (second only to Bowie's Spiders From Mars equipment which he made off with in the 70s!). Garbage cans and kazoos would have sufficed, but quickly rented equipment was set up and ready for the Stooges in New York City.

 

The Stooge machine is switched on, all the amps are cranked up to eleven, and the auditory assault begins. Once the Stooges get going, it sounds like the fight scene in Godzilla vs. Mothra repeating on a two-hour loop. We, the audience are the terrorized little people of Tokyo, knowing instinctively that we should run away, but we can't take our unblinking eyes off the astounding spectacle onstage. The translated subtitles in word-bubbles above our heads read, 'WOW!' 'HOLY CRAP!' 'WHAT THE F…?!'

 

Iggy remains free from the constraints of convention, corruption and clothing. We catch a glimpse of his saggy old butt. He bursts out of the gate with 'Loose' looking sublime with blonde streaked hair (imagine him sitting in the salon with foil wraps on his head, getting his highlights done!) He is tanned, lithe and wild. Within minutes, he's drenching himself in water, climbing the Marshall stacks and diving into the crowd, barking and morphing into The Legendary Wild Creature.

 

He stomps like King Kong – not the Kong who terrorizes New York City, but the primal beast who rules Skull Island, the earth shaking beneath his feet, where dinosaurs fear him and humans cower in terror and in reverence. Somehow, this small, 61 year old guy with a limp from a leg injury can still pull this off. Why? Because he's NOT KIDDING!

 

Bodies fly onto and off of the stage. Iggy dives off, moshers dive on, people are upside down, pushing and shoving – it's brutal. BUT…the ideal stance at a Stooges gig is to remain completely still and let the deafening psychedelic buzz / drone vibrate through your body and jiggle you around like a blob of Jell-O while your throbbing brain does the Stooge groove.

 

During "No Fun" Iggy sings the immortal lines, "C'mon Ronnie, lemme hear you tell 'em how I feel!" Ron Asheton told us 40 years ago on the record, and he's here telling us again now, cranking out the scientifically formulated noise that only he can create. It's a blessing to also have his brother Scott here on drums! Mike Watt is an animal on bass. Iggy invites the crowd onstage, and hundreds r.s.v.p. He leaves them up there, joining us down front, drenching us in bottled water and sharing a drink. Oddly, there are no edible missiles, or smeared condiments in sight this time around (it is legendary that 70s Stooges fans brought their own arsenals). We got through '1969' and '1970' completely food free! 'TV Eye' and 'Real Cool Time' preceded a few tunes from Iggy's Skull Ring album.

 

Steve MacKay appears on shrieking sax for 'Funhouse' (the blues jam like no other). The ruckus he creates resembles the deafening collective cries of the Earth monsters upon the arrival of giant mutant three-headed lizard King Ghidorah in Destroy All Monsters (also the namesake of Ron Asheton's former band).

 

They venture into Raw Power territory this time including 'Search And Destroy'. Asheton pulverizes Williamson's guitar bits and boils them into the current Stooges stew. Appropriately, the name of the venue included the word 'Terminal'. This could be fatal.  Another feral howl begins 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' for the second time. They've been playing this song twice in their set ever since they reunited, because it's so great that it needs to be played twice! 'I'm Fried' from the Stooges' latest album, The Weirdness closed the show.

 

I scooped up my brain from the floor, tucked it under my arm and went home to scoff at my entire music collection in disgust, deeming none of it as worthy as the Stooges LIVE! Serious fun!

 

WE WILL FALL

IGGY POP TRIBUTE ALBUM

 

A version of the Stooges' "No Fun" by the Sex Pistols (1977) was probably the first officially recorded cover of an Iggy Pop song. The most famous was Bowie's defilement of "China Girl" in 1983. The music of Iggy and the Stooges has transcended three generations. In fact, they've been credited for wiping out the sixties entirely! Even George Clinton claims to have transformed Parliament into the wilder, free-form Funkadelic after witnessing a live Stooges performance.

 

In their day, the Stooges were highly unmarketable and unfashionable. However, the course of history would have been severely altered without the steadfast foundation they built in the late 60's on solid rock. The Stooges erupted in a loud explosion of raw nerves and energy, similar to the big bang which created the planet earth. You might call it a natural disaster!

 

Iggy revered Hendrix, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley and the blues bands of Chicago in the mid 60's. He tried to convey the passionate style of the blues players to his stoned delinquent Stooges friends. Their interpretation was a strange hybrid of black rooted music merged with the problems, anger and frustrations of five white boys who could barely play their instruments. This wasn't just another pretty white boy singing the blues like Elvis (although Iggy was kinda charming in his own sick way). This was an ugly, fierce unit - the scum of the earth and proud of it - emerging from the streets of Detroit to perpetrate their own sonic pleasures upon the masses. The Stooges stomped on what we knew as music at the time and brought it back down into the street where it belongs. Their music was indulgent and often violent. It took the glam out of glamour, the pop out of pop, invented heavy metal and revered soul, rhythm and blues.

 

Representatives spanning three decades have contributed to We Will Fall, a twenty-track Iggy tribute album; from the 70's (Jayne - formerly Wayne - County, Joey Ramone, Lenny Kaye, Blondie - under the alias Adolf's Dog, and The Misfits), the 80's (Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Bush Tetras), and the 90's (New York scenemakers DGeneration and NY Loose, Lunachicks, Sugar Ray, Superdrag and more). It is their reverence of the subversive revolutionary music of the 70's which bonds these artists - from Glam to Punk and most of all, the unique, raw and savage sincerity of the transcendent Iggy Pop.

 

These hypodermic covers are so true to the originals that should you blink an ear, you'd mistake them for Iggy himself! Every performance shines on this collection. Iggy's music is in the blood of these artists (after all, it was their youth's inspiration) right down to their seemingly Ig-possessed yelps and yowls.

 

The standout cuts are a thrashed-up "Lust For Life" by NY Loose, and an even racier "Funtime" by Blanks 77. DGeneration render a faithfully beautiful "I Got Nothing". "Sister Midnight" by Bush Tetras features some bone-chilling guitar work. Joey Ramone's tribal "1969" reverberates through to the 90's. The most deviant interpretation is Jayne County's campy "Down On The Street/Little Doll". Jayne is the only artist who dared to revise the lyrics, but not the spirit. The Red Hot Chili Peppers rip open "Search & Destroy". Sugar Ray's "Cold Metal" is their best effort since their version of Howard Stern's "Psychedelic Bee"!

 

It's disappointing that nobody chose to cover "Rich Bitch" but perhaps we can look forward to this in the future. How about it, Madonna? Britney? Anyone? And where's Snoop's cover of "I Wanna Be Your Doggy Dog"?

 

The music of Iggy and the Stooges seduces, assaults and reminds you that you are alive. It's no surprise that their legacy, and the unstoppable Iggy Pop will continue into the next millenium. Pop maintains his solo career as a living legend, and at age fifty, has successfully expanded into film and TV, attaining the mainstream recognition he deserves.

 

Turning the tables, some songs Iggy has covered are James Brown's "Sex Machine" appearing on a 1996 CD single B-side, and he also appears on the James Bond covers album performing "All The Time in the World". But Iggy's most magnificent cover is his version of Richard Berry's "Louie Louie" of course. I especially love the Metallic K.O. version with X-rated lyrics -- it's so romantic!

The Stooges - The Weirdness

THREE STOOGES ARE BETTER THAN NONE!

By Madeline Bocaro

 

The Weirdness is certainly not normal. If it's the worst Stooges album as many are saying, then maybe it's the best Iggy Pop album (besides Lust For Life, or The Idiot – but that's another story). We've already read many harsh reviews, and a few politely praising their first album in 34 years. Old timers are complaining, newcomers act as if they know what's missing (drugs obviously), but nobody's really appreciating the fact that we have three living Stooges recording together again in our lifetime! This alone is a miracle! And their sax player has also survived the Funhouse! This time around however, true to form, they have NOT pleased the masses!

 

Ever since the early 70's, Iggy & The Stooges fathered every despicable new form of rock music to crawl up from the street, and onto the radio. In their day, they were pariahs - highly unmarketable, unfashionable and outcast by the mainstream, yet adored by a cult of rock purists. Music history would have been radically different without the steadfast foundation the Stooges built with blood and guts. There was no calculation in the band's formation. It just happened - a primal force of nature. The Stooges erupted in a loud burst, similar to the big bang that created planet earth. You might call it a natural disaster! They took the pop out of pop, wiped out the sixties, inspired heavy metal and revered soul, rhythm and blues.

 

Fast forward to spring, 2007. While taking a neighbourhood walk, listening to the new Stooges offering in my iPod expecting the worst, the first song began. I was immediately transformed back into the teenage delinquent outcast I had been almost forty years ago (while enjoying Funhouse on my 8-track)! I now felt a mischievous smirk emerging on my face and my head began bobbing. I reveled in the fact that I'm currently unemployed, and my stride hit a major groove – the Stooges are back! As folks jogged by, I knew for sure that whatever shlock they were listening to was not nearly as fucked up as "Trollin'"! I wish my parents were still alive – not so much because I miss them, but just so I could see their faces grimace when hearing this all too familiar glorious noise once again! That was half the fun, wasn't it?

 

Track one is encouraging. It gives hope that the rest of this damned album will be a masterpiece. However, we hear very few glimmers of greatness until the final song, "I'm Fried' when Steve Mackay's sax impressively replicates a stampede of irate elephants, hyenas and cows during an air raid, in unison with some sublime Asheton guitar wailing. Somewhere in between the first and last tracks are a few laughs, some kick-ass riffs, classic wah-wahs, and whiny vocal over-indulgence by Iggy. If there is anyone to blame for the flaws on this album, it's the grumpy old front man!

 

The Weirdness is just as lyrically juvenile (if not more so) than the gems these guys produced in their day, but unfortunately not as pure, exciting and minimal. While yelps, growls or two-word repetitive mantras used to be quite effective, the wordiness here is too much information! They should have stuck to this brilliant method, recently described by Iggy to David Fricke at SXSW; "When Ron started jamming the chords in 'No Fun,' I knew instantly that we would be in the book...As for the lyrics of that track, I always thought that 'no' is a great word. One of my favorite parts of the Rolling Stones' Satisfaction is when Mick goes "No no no." And then, on the other hand, you had the Beach Boys, another great band, who had this song where they kept repeating "Fun, fun, fun", so I thought to myself, "Well, there you go.""

 

The Asheton brothers (Ron and Scott – guitar and drums) rock out like no one else – no question. Bassist (ex- Minuteman) Mike Watt blends in well. No amount of inane or excessive lyrics can deny the power of the band, but something is definitely lacking…perhaps more cowbell? After all, they used sleigh bells on "I Wanna Be Your Dog"!

 

Living up to their own incomparable legacy would be impossible, yet considering that The Stooges have actually gone overboard and did too much thinking, it's all pretty ironic. They've become more savant than idiot! That they've learned to play their instruments better doesn't help the situation. The dum dum boys should have just gone dummer!! Fortunately, no track is too long that it becomes uninteresting. Unfortunately, no track is long enough to evolve into a free-form primal beast, encompassing blues/jazz and hysteria that was the Stooges' trademark. Anyway, if you really wanna dig this album, you've gotta play it LOUD!

 

Producer Steve Albini wasn't to heavy handed on the mix, so he is probably not to blame. Yet, we must consider who produced the other three Stooges albums and successfully conjured up their magic; The Velvet Underground's John Cale, (The Stooges) the Kingsmen's Don Gallucci - who played the timeless keyboard riff on the 1963 hit "Louie Louie" at age 15 – (Funhouse) and David Bowie (Raw Power).

 

I'm torn. It's enjoyable. It's fun. It's actually growing on me. But the Stooges' allure was that they were sick, crazed, dangerous, unpredictable and SERIOUS! Nowadays, everything around us is sick and dangerous - including Britney Spears who has apparently cracked up - so the Stooges now sound somewhat safe. However, seeing them live next week should be fun. They are still the greatest live band around! Three Stooges are better than none!

 

(There are four extra tracks on the vinyl version of The Weirdness; "O Solo Mio", "Claustrophobia", "I Wanna Be Your Man" and "Sounds Of Leather").