Saturday, January 30, 2010

ROCK Sex: Jacqueline Taieb, French Garage Grrrl!

ROCK Sex tells you what time it is.


Yesterday I mentioned Jacqueline Taieb, so let's get more hip to that trip.

Jacqueline Taieb was born in Tunisia but raised in France. As a very young teen in the mid-'60s, she recorded singles during the ultra-cool YeYe scene. Her biggest hit was "7 Hueres du Matin" which she also recorded in English as "7:00 AM". Garage Rock fans enjoy her because of the edgy use of guitar on this song and her hip cultural references to Paul McCartney, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and The Who.

Here's a Video tribute I made homaging her, as well as Mod clothing designer Mary Quant and the Swinging London era.

JACQUELINE TAIEB -"7:00 AM" (1966)

And here is the alternate version in French.

Here's another cool groover.

JACQUELINE TAIEB -"On Roule à 160" (1966)

Later, MAREVA GALANTER gave her own tribute with this great cover:

MAREVA GALANTER -"7 Hueres du Matin" (2006)

40 years later, Jacqueline returned to record a cool sequel called "7h du Soir", with a Dutch Garage band backing her.


© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Friday, January 29, 2010

LADIES FIRST: "Chick Habit" - France Gall > April March

LADIES FIRST brings you another classic song that 'she did first'.

Who didn't love the song "Chick Habit" from Tarantino's film DEATH PROOF? But where did the habit develop?


The original was recorded by French teen chanteuse France Gall as "Laisse Tomber les Filles" ('Forget the Girls') in 1964. The lyrics by Serge Gainsbourg had an unusually harsh and jaded worldview that caused controversy coming from a teen Pop girl's mouth.

The song's rhythm is a Rockabilly groove in the spirit of classics like "Peter Gunn" and "Brand New Cadillac".

FRANCE GALL -"Laisse Tomber les Filles" (1964)

Here is an English language response by Zoe Kouroukli and her Greek mates.

ZOE AND THE STORMIES -"Let's Shake Baby" (1964)

In the '90s, April March did both a French and an English cover of the song. It retains the Rockabilly rhythm sound while amping it up a bit. She named the English version "Chick Habit", and Tarantino used both versions in the credits of his film DEATH PROOF (2007), his half of the combo film also known as GRINDHOUSE).

APRIL MARCH -"Laisse Tomber les Filles" (1995)

APRIL MARCH -"Chick Habit" (1995)

Focusing on the song's Rockabilly rhythms, here's Switzerland's boppin' combo.


Fabienne Delsol brought it full circle by covering the original.

Once the front for the Beat revival band The Bristols, Fabienne went on to make fine Garage and Psychedelic solo albums.

FABIENNE DELSOL -"Laisse Tomber les Filles" (2004)

Soon after her but still before the film, neo-YeYe artist Mareva Galenter also covered it, along with songs by seminal French Garage Girl Jacqueline Taïeb ("7:00 AM", "On roule à 160").

MAREVA GALENTER -"Laisse Tomber les Filles" (2006)

"Hang it up, daddy,
a girl's not a tonic or a pill!

You're gonna need a heap of glue
when they all catch up with you
and they cut you up in two!"

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

BEYOND COOL: Pedro Bell, Funkadelic's visionary!

Tribute to Pedro Bell; art by Tym Stevens.
Larger here

Let's set the record straight. There are three factors that made FUNKADELIC what it was:
  • The first is the brilliant musicians, particularly the 1970 and the 1975 line-ups.
  • The second is the bent vision of GEORGE CLINTON to pull it all together on record.
  • But the third is just as crucial, and just as clear to all the real fans: the album artwork of PEDRO BELL.

Pedro Bell, with original size art for

Funkadelic had been alarming/converting audiences for around four years before he showed up. Hindsight shows that in those years, between 1969 and 1973, they were trying anything and everything like they had nothing left to lose. Which they didn't since they were on an obscure label, an erratic tour circuit, and haphazardly building a odd cult of fans while being run out of towns.

Pedro was like many of those fans, a young person into the hothouse explosion of hybrid musics that gushed over from the expansive late '60s. Like the deepheads, he loved Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Sun Ra, Sly Stone, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles. He particularly liked the distinct and disturbing packaging of Frank Zappa albums. It gave a special identity to the artist and to the fans who dug it. It plugged you into your own special shared universe. So he sent elaborately drawn letters to Funkadelic's label with other samples. George Clinton liked the streetwise mutant style and asked him to do the COSMIC SLOP album cover in 1973.

That was the moment Funkadelic became everything we think about them being.

Detail from COSMIC SLOP album cover (1973)

Before, Funkadelic used shocking photos of afroed sirens along with liner notes lifted from the cult, Process Church Of The Final Judgement. Very sexy, very edgy. But looking a bit too much like labelmates The Ohio Players' kinky covers, and reading like a Charles Manson prescription for apocalypse. A more cartoonish cover for the fourth album AMERICA EATS ITS YOUNG (1972) along with more coherent production and song structure was a new start. But Pedro chrystallized their identity to the world with that next LP.

In 1973, there was no MTV, no internet, no VCRs, no marketing strobe in all media. An act toured, they put out an album once a year, and they were lucky to get a TV appearance lip-synching a hit. You couldn't tape it and you were lucky to even see them. As a fan, almost your whole involvement with the band came through the album cover. It was big, it opened out in a gatefold, there were inserts and photos and posters. Sitting with your big ol' headphones, you shut off the world and stared at every detail of the album art like they were paths to the other side, to the Escape. Who were all those people in the SGT. PEPPER crowd?; what alternate reality were artists Roger Dean (Yes) and Mati Klarwein (Santana, Miles Davis) from?; why are the burning businessmen shaking hands?; is it an African woman standing or a lion's face?; does it say AMERICAN REALITY or "American Beauty" or both?


This was an art era for an art audience. Posters, T-shirts, LPs. These were your subculture badge of honor, your spiritual battle cry, your middle finger to mediocrity. They took every cent you had saved and were even harder to come by, which made it even more personal, more rebel. Your LP was a shield, your T-shirt was armor. They got you expelled, ostracised, beat up. They scared the living hell out of the straights around you...and you loved that. It reaffirmed your faith that you were into something good, something unique.

Interior art of Funkadelic from

What Pedro Bell had done was invert psychedelia through the ghetto. Like an urban Hieronymus Bosch, he cross-sected the sublime and the hideous to jarring effect. Insect pimps, distorted minxes, alien gladiators, sexual perversions. It was a thrill, it was disturbing. Like a florid virus, his markered mutations spilled around the inside and outside covers in sordid details that had to be breaking at least seven state laws.

Funkadelic, HARDCORE JOLLIES (1976)

More crucially, his stream-of-contagion text rewrote the whole game. He single-handedly defined the P-Funk collective as sci-fi superheroes fighting the ills of the heart, society, and the cosmos. Funk wasn't just a music, it was a philosophy, a way of seeing and being, a way for the tired spirit to hold faith and dance yourself into another day. As much as Clinton's lyrics, Pedro Bell's crazoid words created the mythos of the band and bonded the audience together.

Detail and textagraphic slams from HARDCORE JOLLIES, Funkadelic.

Half the experience of Funkadelic was the actual music vibrating out of those wax grooves. The other half was reading the covers with a magnifying glass while you listened. There was always more to scrutinize, analyze, and strain your eyes. Funkadelic covers were a hedonistic landscape where sex coursed like energy, politics underlay every pun, and madness was just a bigger overview.

Detail from ONE NATION UNDER A GROOVE cover, Funkadelic (1978)

Pedro called his work 'scartoons', because they were fun but they left a mark. He was facing the hard life in Chicago full-on everyday with all the craft and humor he could muster.

The uncensored cover for ELECTRIC SPANKING OF WAR BABIES, Funkadelic (1981)

Pedro's unschooled, undisciplined street art gave all the Suit execs fits, as when the cover for ELECTRIC SPANKING OF WAR BABIES caused such a scandel that it had to be censored before release. It also opened the door for all the great NYC graffiti artists of the late '70s, for the mainstream success of Keith Haring's bold line cartoons, and James Rizzi's marker covers and "Genius of Love" video animation for Tom Tom Club.

Cover for SOME OF MY BEST JOKES ARE FRIENDS, George Clinton (1985)

When Parliament and Funkadelic went on hiatus in the '80s, it was Pedro Bell's art that gave the P-Funk identity to George Clinton's albums like COMPUTER GAMES (1982), YOU SHOULDN'T-NUF BIT FISH (1983), SOME OF MY BEST JOKES ARE FRIENDS (1985), and R&B SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET (1986); as well as spin-offs like Jimmy G And The Tackhead's FEDERATION OF THE TACKHEADS (1985), and his clay figure art for INCorporated Thang Band's LIFESTYLES OF THE ROACH AND FAMOUS (1988).

He also did a spectacular animated scartoon of his original character, Larry Lazer, which was broadcast on MTV.

By the early '90s the game had changed and not to Pedro's favor. MTV had turned every song into a jingle, and every album into a quarterly marketing plan. Every star's face was in your face every place all over the place, milking an album for three years until the next committeed go-round. CDs shrunk the album cover experience into a coaster. The days of swimming in your LP cover were gone. (But conversely Rock concert poster design exploded, as fans were desperate to have some great art to fill the void.)

During the decade Pedro continued soldiering on with the CD covers for P-Funk-inspired bands like Maggotron's BASSMAN OF THE ACROPOLIS (1992); FUNKRONOMICON for Bill Laswell's all-star funk collective, Axiom Funk (1995); and Enemy Squad's UNITED STATE OF MIND (1998). And of course for George Clinton's DOPE DOGS (1994),"TAPOAFOM (The Awesome Power of a Fully Operational Mothership)" (1995) and "Greatest Funkin' Hits" (1996); and P-Funk's "HOW LATE DO YOU HAVE 2 B B4 U R ABSENT?" (2005).

In the meantime his style was homaged/appropriated/bit by other artists designing for Digital Underground, Miami Bass groups, and dodgy Funkadelic compilations. But he received better due with a great write-up in the countercultural art magazine Juxtapoz (#16, Fall '98). He also had a couple of his Funkadelic covers in Rolling Stones' "Greatest Album Covers Of All Time" issue.

Portrait of Sun Ra (2006),
by Pedro Bell, Seitu Hadyen, and Tym Stevens.
Larger here

During the '90s Pedro started having health difficulties, including issues with his vision. He worked with a few friends to get his creations out there to the world. One such project was this recent fine art print of Sun Ra, based on a layout he first came up with in the '70s.

Pedro Bell is still with us, but having some hard times. Though he basically 'branded' Funkadelic's entire identity, he has seen little for it financially. In a just world, Pedro would get the Juxtapoz treatment like Robert Williams and Robert Crumb and the like, with coffee table books, T-shirts, posters, figurines, and hip retrospectives in galleries. But bad faith and ill health have prevented that.

Nowadays, awake and aware young people who are sick of the packaged machine that music has become vehemently reject it. They embrace adventurous musics from before The Slickness, wear vintage weathered T-shirts, and hang LP covers on their walls as art objects. They want it rough, real, and wide open again with weird possibility. It's these brave new souls who need to free their minds with Pedro's kaleidoscopic visions.

Pedro Bell is an unsung genius who deserves his place in the sun. Let's give it up for our Brother From Other!

© Tym Stevens, 2010.

This essay has been quoted extensively, without credit, on George Clinton's website and in Rolling Stone.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

ROCK Sex: "Oye Como Va!" - Tito Puente > Santana > Kinky

ROCK Sex says "Oye como va, mi ritmo, bueno pa'gozar, mulata!"


The original "Oye Como Va" is by Mambo bandleader TITO PUENTE.

TITO PUENTE -"Oye Como Va" (1963)

In 1970, SANTANA made it an international party anthem with their Latin Rock redux.

SANTANA -"Oye Como Va" (1970)

Here's a Funky mash-up of James Brown's "Mother Popcorn" and the Santana version of Puente.
EAST OF UNDERGROUND -"Popcorn/ Santana" (1971)

You can still hear the enduring sonic legacy of Puente and Santana in this recent Electro Rock version by Kinky from Mexico.

KINKY -"Oye Como Va" (2004)

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Monday, January 25, 2010

LADIES FIRST: "Hound Dog" - Big Mama Thornton > Elvis > Jimi Hendrix

LADIES FIRST brings you another classic that 'she did first'.

Today it's the monster classic "Hound Dog".


"Hound Dog" was written and produced by the budding talents Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, and first recorded by the irrepressible Big Mama Thornton. Along with her blues-belting style, Mama also retooled some of the lyrics, did flavorful ad libs, and hard accents in the phrasing that gave the song its fierce identity.

BIG MAMA THORNTON -"Hound Dog" (1952)

Thornton's version was recorded in 1952, but released in the spring of 1953. Within a month there were a handful of Country artists who did their take on it, like Jack Turner and His Granger County Gang, Billy Starr, and Cleve Jackson and His Hound Dogs.

One of the most unsung is this one by Betsy Gay:

BETSY GAY -"Hound Dog" (1953)

Here's a Country answer record forecasting Rockabilly.

CHARLES GORE And LOUIS INNES -"(You Ain't Nothin' but a Female) Hound Dog" (1953)

Memphis radio DJ Rufus Thomas did an answer record to it, taking mock affront to his nickname as 'hound dog'. It was too similar and Sun Records' first hit got in a lot of legal trouble. Later, Rufus and his daughter Carla Thomas recorded classics for Stax Records.

RUFUS THOMAS -"Bear Cat" (1953)

A burlesque group called Freddie Bell And The Bellboys did a campy, striptease-style take on it. Freddie smoothed over some of the lyrics, adding such pivotal lines as "cryin' all the time" and "You ain't never caught a rabbit, and you ain't no friend of mine." They performed it regularly in Las Vegas.


The young and barely-known Elvis Presley saw their show and put it in his rep for fun. When he appeared on the huge TV hit, "The Milton Berle Show", Milton urged him to leave his rhythm guitar and stand out front. The song's strippery rhythm and Elvis' startlingly sexual gyrations (and air of threatening menace) caused a storm of shocked controversy and made him a national star overnight.

This may have done as much to inject Rock'n'Roll into world awareness as any other event.

ELVIS PRESLEY -"Hound Dog" (1956)

Rock'n'Roll was written off as dumb Pop for juvie kids by the robot mainstream of the times. They probably thought it was cute to trot out little Brenda Lee like Shirley Temple in the family parlor. But it backfired, because you can still hear all the raw Blues anger and cocky swagger in Brenda's great voice.

BRENDA LEE -"Hound Dog" (1956?)

Cliff Johnson's answer song aims to make Elvis high-tail it.

CLIFF JOHNSON -"Go Away Hound Dog" (1957)

Betty Everett ("You're No Good") brings some Soul swing go it.

BETTY EVERETT -"Hound Dog" (1964)

Jimi Hendrix loved Elvis and also all the Blues greats like Big Mama Thornton, who was on the bill at many of the same Blues and Rock festivals reclaiming her song (with her cool penchant for wearing mens' clothing). Here he is jotting off genius like it was a gesture.

JIMI HENDRIX -"Hound Dog (acoustic)" (1968)

And chasing this tail 'round to its front again, here's Blues powerhouse Koko Taylor...

KOKO TAYLOR -"Hound Dog" (1993)

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Sunday, January 24, 2010

ROCK Sex: "Rebel Girl!" - Dean Carter > Bikini Kill

ROCK Sex thinks 'she's the queen of the neighborhood'.


Today's connection is the running theme of rebel women.

Dean Carter straddled Rockabilly and Garage Music better than anyone in the mid-'60s.

Here's his roaring homage to his Rebel Girl.

"There's a strange quiet girl I long to meet/ wears tall black boots, walks down the street!"

(Dean also produced acts from his home studio, and the compilation "The Midnite Sound Of The Milky Way" includes two great covers of this cool song; listen to #3 and 20.)

DEAN CARTER -"Rebel Woman" (1967)

Here's the dance band DNA sampling David Bowie's "Rebel Rebel" behind their freestyle Rap:

DNA -"Rebel Woman" (1991)

And of course here's Kathleen Hanna and Bikini Kill adoring their favorite Riot Grrrl:

BIKINI KILL -"Rebel Girl" (1993)

Which undoubtedly inspired the group REBEL GIRL into action. And these cohorts.


"That girl thinks she's the queen of the neighborhood
I got news for you, SHE IS!"

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Friday, January 15, 2010

LADIES FIRST: "I'll Keep On Holding On!" - The Marvelettes > The Action

LADIES FIRST spotlights another classic that 'she did first'.


Today's song is the Motown classic, "I'll Keep On Holding On".

Written by the prolific pens of stalwart writers Mickey Stevenson and Ivy Jo Hunter, The Marvelettes broke back into the charts with this hip-swaying hit. Wanda Young (later Wanda Rogers) swaggers the lead vocal:

THE MARVELETTES -"I'll Keep On Holding On" (1965)

The Mod scene in Swinging London of course adored Motown, Stax, and all directions Soul, so The Action did their equally-loved take on it.

(Fans of the NUGGETS II Box Set will recognize it along with their own "Shadows and Reflections".)

THE ACTION -"I'll Keep On Holding On" (1966)

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Thursday, January 14, 2010

BEYOND COOL: The Love Me Nots!

BEYOND COOL is about things I love, like celebrating this brilliant band.


The Love Me Nots are a modern Garage Rock band from Phoenix, Arizona.

If you don't know, it's time to get with it, baby!

THE LOVE ME NOTS -"Move In Tight" (2007)

After a rhythm section shift, singer/oraganist Nicole Laurenne and guitaristb Michael Johnny Walker blazed on without a blip to hotwire your car for more torrid road trips!

THE LOVE ME NOTS -"You're Really Something" (2008)

They will come to your town and burn it down. And you'll be an accomplice.

THE LOVE ME NOTS -"You're Bringing Me Down" (2010)

Show THE LOVE ME NOTS some love:

Buy "Detroit" here

Buy "Upsidedown Insideout" here

"Atomic....Furious...Upsidedown Insideout raises the bar, with twelve catchy, immediately-classic songs that all sound like potential hit singles."
- Rolling Stone

"This Phoenix outfit turns a geeky garage schtick into white heat."

"FOUR STARS. One of the more exciting rock acts of the moment. DETROIT is Stunningly feverish. Disc of the month."
- Rolling Stone

"Top 10 Albums of 2008. DETROIT will make the hair stand up on the back of your neck."
- Bill Holmes, The Village Voice

"If the gospel according to The Love Me Nots is 'give em what they want,' then this is it. Brilliant."
- BBC Radio

"Enough full-throated, '60s soul, Mosrite fuzz, hip-shaking, back-alley stomp to rock the door off the garage."
- San Francisco Bay Guardian

"Atomic guitar licks that make your legs shiver."
- Kick Out The Jams (Spain)

"This band is on fire. Led by punk pin-up Nicole, a great garage party that would make neighbors seriously consider moving."
- Garage Greaser (Brazil)

So act like you know and let's go go go!

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

ROCK Sex: "Teenage Kicks!" - The Undertones > Sahara Hotnights > Sunshine And The Rain

ROCK Sex gets its kicks right through the night.

Today's culture hand-off follows the song "Teenage Kicks".


It was first done by Irish Punks The Undertones in 1978. DJ John Peel immediately considered it one of his favorite songs of all time and helped push them to success on the charts and Top Of The Pops. But the single was only a warm-up for the astoundingly rock solid first album, "The Undertones".

THE UNDERTONES -"Teenage Kicks" (1978)

Sweden has a storied history of great Garage Rock bands from the '60s to today. The recent wave included luminaries like The Hives, Mando Diao, The Flaming Sideburns, and Sahara Hotnights. The latter did this adrenalized cover which was included in an expanded version of their breakthrough album, "Jennie Bomb".

SAHARA HOTNIGHTS -"Teenage Kicks" (2001)

The standard has also been covered by The Vibrators, U2, Supergrass, Franz Ferdinand, Nouvelle Vague, Green Day, Skunk Anansie, Rasputina, The Coral, and The Raconteurs (with Jack White).

Here's a new variant on the main riff.

SUNSHINE AND THE RAIN -"I'm Not Your Girl" (2017)

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

BEYOND COOL: Cambodian Garage GRRRL! - Ros Sereysothea

BEYOND COOL is a new rotating feature here starting today.

With ROCK Sex entries I trace the cultural hand-off and odd connections of pop songs, while LADIES FIRST showcases the often unacknowledged women who did the first versions of classics we take for granted. With BEYOND COOL, I'll just spotlight things I think are beyond cool.


Rock'n'Roll had immediate impact all around the world, with thriving scenes following or advancing every changing trend through the decades. Record collectors who once helped excavate and archive all the great '60s Garage Rock eventually spread into the international variations of it. Today we are still catching up with thriving scenes from France, Japan, Italy, Sweden, Hong Kong, and Australia, to name a few.

Here is a young woman from Cambodia named Ros Sereysothea.

This song sounds like a crazed jam between Asha Bhosle and Creedence Clearwater Revival! Asha, of course, is the reknowned queen of Bollywood soundtracks who sang all female leads for decades. Ros' register is similar but her rocking sentiment is notably more freewheeling. (As for CCR, Ros also did a cover of John Fogerty's "Proud Mary".) And that big chunky rhythm they settle into is a monster groove!

ROS SEREYSOTHEA -"I'm 16 (Chnam Oun Dop-Pramp Muy)" (197_)

Now the sad part.

It is feared that Ros Sereysothea may have been among the millions killed in Cambodia in the 1970s by the murderous Pol Pot and his hideous Khmer Rouge. This butcher regime was simply Fundamentalism at its most base and naked, destroying every expression of humanity solely for power under the guise of divine order.

The only revenge we have against holocausts like this, besides not repeating them, is to fight back against any repression and regression when we can. The huns attempted to erase history. But Ros' legacy lives on defiantly in current bands like Dengue Fever and Cambodian Space Project who keep Cambodian Rock a living culture.

DENGUE FEVER -"One Thousand Tears Of A Tarantula" (2005)

CAMBODIAN SPACE PROJECT -"i Am Sixteen" (2011)

Crank it up like you're dancing on Pol Pot's grave.

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

> "Dengue Fever presents: Electric Cambodia", a compilation of 1970s Cambodian Rock
> Sleepwalking Through the Mekong, a documentary about the revival of Rock in Cambodia

Monday, January 11, 2010

LADIES FIRST: "I'm Blue!" -The Ikettes > Shangri-Las > Salt-n-Pepa > KILL BILL

Ladies First = She Did It First

LADIES FIRST hopes you're reading this right.


The song "I'm Blue (The Gong Gong Song)" was first done by The Ikettes, the back-up singers for Ike & Tina Turner. Fronted by the powerful belting of Dolores Johnson, this single was meant to expand the Turner brand into the market.

THE IKETTES -"I'm Blue (The Gong Gong Song)" (1962)

Here's ingenue Sylvie Vartan blasting it out in French.
SYLVIE VARTAN -"Gong Gong" (1962)

Here's a refreshingly genderless take shortly thereafter...

THE NEWBEATS -"I'm Blue (The Gong Gong Song)" (1964)

True to form, The Shangri-Las bring moody production and their underrated Soul to it.

THE SHANGRI-LAS -"I'm Blue (The Gong Gong Song)" (1966)

The Shangri-Las version was sampled in this masive HipHop hit.
SALT-n-PEPA -"Shoop" (1993)

The original was featured int John Waters' HAIRSPRAY (1988), but it got its biggest fame blasted out Garage Rock style by The in their showstopping preformance in the film KILL BILL, Vol. 1.

The's -"I'm Blue" (2004)

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Sunday, January 10, 2010

ROCK Sex: "Misirlou!" -The Deep History of Dick Dale's Surf Classic

ROCK Sex pulps fiction for facts.

Today's culture relay is about the classic Surf rocker "Misirlou".


The song originates from Greece in the 1920s as "Misirlou", first performed by MICHALIS PATRINOS' band and then recorded in 1930. He then did a New York recording the next year. It quickly became a standard within the Greek, Turkish, and Arabic immigrant communities in America.

Wikipedia informs us that "the Greek word Misirlou refers specifically to a Muslim Egyptian woman (as opposed to a Christian Egyptiotissa); thus this song refers to a cross-faith, cross-race, relationship, a risqué subject at its time." That makes the song even better.

MIKE PATRINOS -"Misirlou" (1930)

Here's a terrific overview of ensuing versions compiled by Joe Graziosi on YouTube:
Includes TETOS DEMITRIADIS (1940) / MARIA KARELLA-ROUMEL ('41) / DIMITRIS 'BEBIS' STERGIOU ('62)/ DEMETRIOS PAPPAS & The Amphion Choir ('60)/ GUS VALI ('60)/ HRACH YACOUBIAN ('61)/ -"Misirlou"

KORLA PANDIT, the organ maestro and early television pioneer, did an amazing version. Watch him give Grandmaster Flash and Jimmy Smith a run for their money with his deft moves at 1:14:

KORLA PANDIT -"Misirlou" (1951)

And then of course there is the champion. DICK DALE was familiar with "Misirlou" from his Lebanese family members, and when a fan dared him to play a song on one string, Dick unleashed this tsunami:

DICK DALE & The Del Tones -"Miserlou" (1962)

Catching the wave, The Beach Boys released a Dale-inspired cover. The session work is by 'Wrecking Crew' stalwarts, an informal gathering of the L.A. studio sessionists that at times included guitarist Glen Cambell, pianist Leon Russell, bassist Carol Kaye, and drummer Hal Blaine:

THE BEACH BOYS -"Misirlou" (1963)

Most know Bobby Fuller from his Buddy Holly style and hit cover of The Crickets' "I Fought the Law".

But Surf fans love his ferocious live take on "Misirlou", especially the freeform climax.

BOBBY FULLER FOUR -"Misirlou" (1964)

If you want to sing along, here's a really fun vocal version by Connie Francis!

CONNIE FRANCIS --"Misirlou" (1965)

Surf ferocity energized much of Punk, particularly in Los Angeles, as proven by this cover version.

AGENT ORANGE -"Misirlou" (1982)

And of course the song was catapulted to world fame by its use in the opening credits of Quentin Tarantino's film PULP FICTION.

Tarantino equated the mediterranean melody and stinging Surf of Dale's version with the Spaghetti Western soundtracks of Ennio Morricone, such as THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY. In truth, the Surf songs with international riffs had inspired Ennio's approach to Westerns in the first place.

Opening Scene: PULP FICTION (1994)

A sample of this rode another wave in HipHop Pop.

BLACK EYE PEAS -"Pump It" (2006)

"My Miserlou, has lit a flame in my heart,
Your two lips are dripping honey, ah!"

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

-Shock Waves: How SURF MUSIC Saved Rock'n'Roll!, with 2 Music Players
-How SPAGHETTI WESTERNS Revolutionized Rock Music! , with 3 Music Players

Friday, January 8, 2010

LADIES FIRST: "Out In the Streets" - The Shangri-Las > Blondie

Ladies First = She Did It First

LADIES FIRST knows that "he don't hang around with the gang no more".


The original "Out In the Streets" was by the great Shangri-Las, whose middle ground between uptown girl and biker girl made this song a perfect choice, and set the stage for acts like The New York Dolls, Suzi Quatro, and The Runaways after them.

The lead vocal is by the thespianic Mary Wiess, and the moody production by Shadow Morton.

THE SHANGRI-LAS -"Out In the Streets" (1965)

Blondie let its mid-'60s roots show constantly, with their retro Mod clothes, "With The Beatles"-style album covers, and Girl Group harmonies. One of the first things they ever recorded was a demo of this song.

BLONDIE -"Out In the Streets" (1976)

"He grew up on the sidewalk
Streetlight shinin' above
He grew up with no one to love"

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

(1 of 2)
-YOU DON'T OWN ME: The Uprising of the 1960s GIRL GROUPS, with Music Player
(2 of 2)
-SHE'S A REBEL: Decades Of Songs Influenced By The GIRL GROUPS, with Music Player

Thursday, January 7, 2010

ROCK Sex: "Sour Times" - Lalo Schifrin > Portishead

ROCK Sex is 'left with memories of yesterday'.


Today's cultural relay is about Portishead's "Sour Times".

It interpolates a theme that reknowned score composer Lalo Schifrin did for the "Mission: Impossible" TV series called "The Danube Incident".

Schifrin is revered for his classic scores for "Mission: Impossible", "Bullit", and "Enter the Dragon".

LALO SCHIFRIN -"The Danube Incident" (1968)

Portishead was in the forefront of acts who melded hiphop and soundtrack motifs into moody dance music.

Kindred spirits included Massive Attack, Morcheeba, Bjork, Hooverphonic, Tricky, Barry Adamson, and The Propellorheads. They were often blanketed with the term TripHop which is actually very apt.

Listen for some of chameleonic singer Beth Gibbons' Billie Holiday influence at 1:36...

PORTISHEAD -"Sour Times" (1994)

"Sour Times" has been covered by Bryn Christopher, The Blank Theory, Marsha Ambrosius, and this moody duo.

THE CIVIL WARS -"Sour Times" (2013)

"Scattered seeds, buried lives
Mysteries of our disguise revolve...
'Cause nobody loves me, it's true
Not like you do"

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

-JOHN BARRY: The Influence Of The JAMES BOND Sound On Pop Music, with 2 Music Players

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


STARSTRUCK, the illustrated Sci-Fi masterpiece where Riot Grrls take over the galaxy, has new pages on FACEBOOK!

> STARSTRUCK official website

We all know that the '80s renaissance of comix included WATCHMEN, DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, AMERICAN FLAGG, MIRACLEMAN, and LOVE & ROCKETS.

But easily as bold, much more ambitious, and far more funny was STARSTRUCK. Yet the acclaimed series by Elaine Lee and Michael Kaluta was criminally overlooked. And let's face it... it's because it starred kickass funny women instead of terse aggro men. Now it has returned in monthly issues with expanded art and stunning color.

Time to catch up to the better revolution and support STARSTRUCK today!

> IDW Publishing

© Tym Stevens

See Also:

-The Return of STARSTRUCK! Or, Riot Grrrls Conquer the Universe!,
the triumphant return of STARSTRUCK Comics
-STARSTRUCK Strikes Back!,
the History of STARSTRUCK from Stage Play to Comics
-The Big Bang of STARSTRUCK: The Roots and Branches of Elaine Lee & Michael Kaluta's space opera;
how it synthesized all Sci-Fi culture into something new, and predicted everything we've enjoyed since

LADIES FIRST: "Love's Gone Bad!" - Chris Clark > The Underdogs

Ladies First = She Did It First

LADIES FIRST says you can't "live life without love".


Chris Clark cut a startling figure at Motown Records, a six-foot blond goddess belting out Soul songs like "Love's Gone Bad".

Despite the stewardship of friend Berry Gordy, this fantastic song wasn't the hit it should have been. Later Chris was nominated for an Acedemy Award for co-writing the Billie Holiday biopic LADY SINGS THE BLUES (1972). She then became a Vice President in Motown's film division. She's now a photographer and sings better than ever.

CHRIS CLARK -"Love's Gone Bad" (1966)

The Underdogs, a Rock act on Motown, hit the big time with their classic "Time Won't Let Me". But as all NUGGETS Box Set and Garage Rock fans know, they also knocked out a mean cover of Chris' song.

THE UNDERDOGS -"Love's Gone Bad" (1967)

The song has also been covered by The Jackson 5, Cadillac Kidz, The Seatbelts, The Trypt Up, and 45 Spider.

"I see a rainbow all in black
Must be a sign that you ain't comin' back
Heart feels sad 'cause love's gone bad"

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

ROCK Sex: "Live" - The Merry Go Round > The Bangles

ROCK Sex says 'don't waste a day'.


Today's carousel of culture is about the song "Live", first done by cult tunesmith Emitt Rhodes and The Merry Go Round.

Emitt Rhodes did excellent solo albums in the early '70s that are worth seeking out by fans of The Beatles, The Raspberries, Badfinger, Harry Nilsson, Paul McCartney, Lenny Kravitz, Chris von Sniedern, Ed Harcourt, and Jim Noir.

THE MERRY-GO-ROUND -"Live" (1966)

Emerging from the revivalist Paisley Underground scene of the early '80s, The Bangles did a letter perfect rendition of it. Their stellar debut album "All Over the Place" (1984) is a gem that I will never tire of promoting; a must for fans of Mersey Beat, NUGGETS, and Girls In the Garage (hint, hint).

The Bangles traded singing leads and this one is sung by drummer Debbi Peterson.

THE BANGLES -"Live" (live, 2006)

Later, Emitt Rhodes was backed by the Peterson sisters from The Bangles, and guitarist Richard Thompson.
EMITT RHODES -"This Wall Between Us" (2011)

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Sunday, January 3, 2010

LADIES FIRST: "Go Now" - Bessie Banks > Moody Blues > McCartney >Simply Red

Ladies First = She Did It First

LADIES FIRST doesn't 'want to see you go'.


Another classic from the "she did it first" file.

Soul singer Bessie Banks recorded the original "Go Now", written by her husband and produced by the esteemed Lieber And Stoller:

BESSIE BANKS -"Go Now" (1964)

Singer Denny Laine fronted The Moody Blues' hit version of the tune, showcased in this groundbreaking video.

THE MOODY BLUES -"Go Now" (1964)

Later, as a cohort with Paul McCartney, Denny performed it again on their huge 1976 world tour.

WINGS -"Go Now" (1976)

Later it was been rethought in a more upbeat PopSoul style.

SIMPLY RED -"Go Now" (2008)

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Saturday, January 2, 2010

ROCK Sex: "I Fought the Law and I Won!" - The Crickets > Bobby Fuller > The Clash > Metric

ROCK Sex joins in fighting the power.


Today's musical relay is all about the pinball journey of "I Fought the Law".

It was triggered by Buddy Holly, with his zigzag guitar rhythms and galloping delivery, as heard in songs like this one.

BUDDY HOLLY -"Rave On" (1958)

In the wake of Buddy's tragic death, his band The Crickets carried on the legacy with this very Holly-esque raver, the original verison of "I Fought the Law". It was written by member Sonny Curtis, who also wrote perennials like "Walk Right Back" (Everly Brothers, Anne Murray), "More Than I Can Say" (Leo Sayer), and "Love Is All Around" (The Mary Tyler Moore Show theme, Bob Mould, Joan Jett):

THE CRICKETS -"I Fought the Law" (1959)

But it was The Bobby Fuller Four who made it a smash hit. Tragically, Bobby Fuller died soon after in strange circumstances. While many people believe it was a murder, the legal verdict that it was a suicide despite clearly botched evidence lent a deeper resonance to the lyrics of the song.

BOBBY FULLER FOUR -"I Fought the Law" (1965)

Soon after, the all-female rockers THE SHE TRINITY put another slant on it.

THE SHE TRINITY -"He Fought the Law" (1966)

For many people the definitive version is by The Clash. They were recording their second album in San Francisco when they heard Fuller's single on a local jukebox. In some ways this song sums up their whole rebel stance and puckish humor more than their own.

THE CLASH -"I Fought the Law" (1978)

Meanwhile the San Francisco Punks DEAD KENNEDYS had their own take on it, recorded in the wake of the brutal murders of Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. Singer Jello Biafra defiantly changes the chorus to "I fought the law and I won!":

DEAD KENNEDYS -"I Fought the Law" (1978)

Because of The Clash many current punk bands like Green Day have covered it.

But Canada's Metric brought another new dimension to it. In the wake of the massive public outcry and bitter frustration against Bush's engineering of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, they summed it up with "I fought the war but the war won't stop, for the love of god/ I fought the war but the war won."

They also allude to the symbolic death of Bobby Fuller: "Daddy Warbucks up against Bobby Fuller/ and it beat him hands down..."

METRIC -"Monster Hospital" (2005)

Bite the hand that beats you!

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Friday, January 1, 2010

LADIES FIRST: "I Can't Let Go" - Evie Sands > The Hollies

Ladies First = She Did It First

LADIES FIRST just can't let it go.


Another great song from the "she did it first" file is "I Can't Let Go".

Brooklyn's Soul dynamo Evie Sands belted out this killer single in '66, with its propulsive rhythms, catchy back-ups, and full-tilt vocal.

EVIE SANDS -"I Can't Let Go" (1966)

Unfortunately, because of bad luck with label issues, it didn't get the promotion it deserved and missed the charts. This was terrible luck for Sands, but worked in favor of The Hollies, whose cover version reached #2 in the UK:

THE HOLLIES -"I Can't Let Go" (1966)

Later, Linda Ronstadt did another tribute to her roots with this swaggering cover.

LINDA RONSTADT -"I Can't Let Go" (1980)

"You Do Something Strange To Me, Baby"

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

-WOMEN OF ROCK: The 1960s, with 2 Music Players