Monday, September 27, 2010

'Stop, Children, What's That Sound?': From Buffalo Springfield to Public Enemy

"Young people speaking their minds/
Getting so much resistance from behind"

"Stop, Children, what's that sound?/ Everybody look what's going down."

Here's how a local youth revolt became a momentum that spans decades, continents, and generations.

By the mid-60's, the Sunset Strip district in Los Angeles had lost its allure for the movie star crowd. A wave of Rock'n'Roll clubs brought in the disaffected young people and a new outlook in music, style, and philosophy. It was in clubs like the Whisky A Go Go, The Trip, Bido Lito's, and The Troubadour that the LA counterculture flourished, with bands like THE DOORS, LOVE, THE BYRDS, SPIRIT, THEE MIDNIGHTERS, THE TURTLES, and THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION.

The sight of young people dressed like Native Americans in large crowds outside their doors made local merchants freak out. The time-honed reflex of capitalists to anything with imagination was to call in the law. Police began harassing the youth and the youth tried to complain. Headlines blazed with "the riots on the Sunset Strip" that the kids were inciting.

Hollywood was the source of most film and TV at the time, but there was little outlet for the youth to show their side of it. Here's Ayn Rand's posterboy, Jack Webb, chomping out another one of his bitter fear rants at a caricature of Timothy Leary.

"DRAGNET" TV show (1968)

Hollywood at the time was in its deepest decline. It was pumping out expensive musicals that everyone was skipping to watch TV. While The 60's was shaping up as one of the most dynamic sociopolitical decades in the country's history, Americans were tuning out to watch fantasy escapism like talking horses, suburban witches, and spies in Hefner fantasias. The young people dropped out of both by seeing smart foreign films in arthouse and college theaters.

This left only the exploitation movie market, which tended to turn every trend into a bombastic cartoon. Very quickly the whole thing was flipped into "RIOT ON THE SUNSET STRIP" (1967). These types of films were made on the cheap and usually exploited the allure of the forbidden while ultimately condemning it. But whether it was a dawning sense of empathy with the young rebels or just seeing a new audience to market, the film actually gives the kids' view a fair shot, considering.

(Ironically, it was through the exploitation market that 'hippie radical' filmmakers revolutionized and saved Hollywood in the next few years.)


The film is a favorite of Garage Rock fanatics for its great appearance by THE CHOCOLATE WATCH BAND, as well as this performance of the title song by THE STANDELLS.

THE STANDELLS -"Riot On The Sunset Strip" (1967)

The so-called "riots" of young people protesting about being bullied by the police spawned songs by their bands. Here's FRANK ZAPPA and his accomplices radicalizing "Louie Louie".

THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION -"Plastic People" (1967)

Tired of being called the Prefab Four, THE MONKEES started rejecting their TV constraints by writing and playing their own songs, going more political and experimental, and ultimately committing glorious career suicide with the amazing film, "HEAD".

Mickey Dolenz was the third person in the world to own a Moog synththesizer, which he used on their song inspired by the Sunset Strip rebellion.

THE MONKEES -"Daily Nightly" (1967)

But by far the most influential song triggered by the "riots" was this one by BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD and writer/performer Stephen Stills.

With its signature guitar intro, clear-eyed tone, and anthemic call-and-response, the song struck an immediate chord that never stopped resonating. Many folks think the song was about Vietnam or Kent State, but it preceded them. Though it was meant about the Sunset Strip, its general message became an anthem for rebels and protest movements worldwide and across time.

BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD -"For What It's Worth" (1967)

Here's one of the first examples, where THE STAPLES SINGERS make it a gospel that speaks as much to the Civil Rights Movement specifically as the counterculture in general.

THE STAPLES SINGERS -"For What It's Worth" (1967)

Here's LED ZEPPELIN doing it live. It almost seems like Jimmy Page wanders into it for mood, but the crowd is so responsive that (at 0:45) you can hear an audience member goad Robert Plant with "Sing it!" Clearly the song is a bonding anthem for the entire generation, a rebel yell and a communion psalm.

LED ZEPPELIN -"For What It's Worth" (live, 1970)

But a good song surpasses any borders. As many of the late 60's/early 70's philosophies and styles were resurrected by the counterculture's children in the late 80's/early 90's, the song again came around. This version retains all of Stephen Still's roots guitar licks.

OUI 3 -"For What It's Worth" (1993)

And PUBLIC ENEMY retained Stephen Stills himself, who came in especially to resing and play his timeless parts for their remake.

PUBLIC ENEMY -"He Got Game" (1998)

So, vital people of now, I say this:
if you feel you live in a era when greedy conservatives misuse the law to bully you down, where free speech is Zoned, where peaceful protests are met with batons and tear gas, where the media is run by tonedeaf pawns, where dynamic politics is ignored by people tuning out to escapist fantasy TV and overly expensive movies...

Riot in your mind and write a good song.

Check out:

San Franciso NUGGETS Box Set



Saturday, September 18, 2010

STARSTRUCK Upside The Head!: Get The New AUDIO PLAY!

STARSTRUCK is about to invade your ears!

The legendary Sci-Fi series now corrupts the sound barrier with an all-new recording of the stage play on double-CD and MP3-downloads!

Pre-Order Now!

STARSTRUCK is most known by the critically-acclaimed graphic comix written by Elaine Lee and illustrated by Michael Kaluta. This series grew out their original collaboration, a stage play written by and starring Elaine and her sister, Susan. Created in NYC during the PostPunk/HipHop fusion heyday, the play was an acerbic SF farce which inspired a cult following that continues growing to this day.

GALATIA 9 (Elaine Lee); BRUCILLA THE MUSCLE (Susan Norfleet)

STARSTRUCK now inspires a new wave of riot grrrls and noize boys with the current comics from IDW Publishing, with expanded Kaluta art stunningly colored by painter Lee Moyer.

The remastered STARSTRUCK, IDW Publishing, 2010.

On the heels of that recent success comes this new production of the stage play by the AudioComics company. Elaine Lee revised the script for a new cast, and the performances, music, and sound effects were then mixed in one of the most prestigious mixing studios in the recording industry; The Studio has won multiple Grammies for their state-of-the-art production on CDs by Bruce Springsteen, U2, and The Rolling Stones.

The new Audio Play will release on October 30, 2010. Just in time for all of us to have our own costumed freakout!

This Audio release is not available in music or comic stores, so order it directly from the AudioComics site.

Order Right Now While Supplies Last!

New art for the Audio Play by
Michael Wm. Kaluta and Lee Moyer.

The perfect holiday gift! Whether they're into comics, Science Fiction, STAR WARS, STAR TREK, Monty Python, Firesign Theatre, Riot Grrrl, Alan Moore, LOST, Love And Rockets, FIREFLY, PowerPuff Girls, FUTURAMA, Barbarella, Tank Girl, Funkadelic, or Le Tigre...this one has it all!

Give Them The Present That Everybody Wants!



Elaine Lee
Michael Wm. Kaluta
Lee Moyer



-"The Return of STARSTRUCK":
The greatest comic you've never read!

-"STARSTRUCK Strikes Back!":
The history of the play, the comic, and more!

-"The Big Bang of STARSTRUCK!":
The inspirations for it all and how it connects to everything you enjoy now!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

'Exile On GRRL Street', Or How THE STONES Can Do Riot Grrrls Doing Them!

Imagine THE STONES honoring women who have honored them! Videos and Playlist below!


Or, 'I Bet You're Papa Don't Know You Can Bite Like That'

THE ROLLING STONES went into tax exile in 1971 to avoid England's insane tariff fees. The resulting double-album "EXILE ON MAIN STREET" has a sloppy grace to it, recorded by shifting members with bad habits in the basement of a French villa. That shambling excess and ruined glory parade had a huge impact on bands from Glam to Punk, from The New York Dolls and Patti Smith to Husker Du and Sonic Youth.

Keith Richards had a signature hit with his 'stud on the run' anthem, "Happy".

RS -"Happy" (1972)

That song is the obvious blueprint for John Cougar (pre- Mellencamp)'s boneheaded "I Need A Lover". But it also triggered this scorching riposte from LIZ PHAIR.

LIZ PHAIR felt like an outcast in a male-driven Chicago music scene. Her 1993 debut album "EXILE IN GUYVILLE" leveled the playing field, routinely voted as the best Indie album of the year. Before her, Pussy Galore had done a cassette-only remake of "Exile On Main Street" in their trademark 'rip it up and fall apart' Punk style. But Liz's album was a song-by-song response of original songs.

Her response to "Happy" is a scalpel stripping away stupid male bullshit. After years of 'personal freedom' songs by selfish guys who just treat women like groupies, this song killed all that flat dead with a cold stare and a wounded heart. And it has a great riff, too!

LIZ PHAIR -"Fuck And Run" (1993)


Or, 'Have You Seen Your Daughter, Baby, Stepping Out Of The Shadows?'

My fantasy is that THE STONES should cock a snook at their own studboy stance in their finest androgyne tradition and record a cover album of female rockers' songs influenced by them.

Here's a video set-list of songs they should do, or you can listen to a playlist instead.


S I D E / O N E

BETTY DAVIS -"They Say I'm Different" (1974)

IKE & TINA TURNER -"Baby Get It On" (1974)

THE RUNAWAYS -"Hollywood" (1977)

SUZI QUATRO -"Tear Me Apart" (1978)

PATTI SMITH -"25th Floor" (1978)

CANDY SLICE (Gilda Radner) -"Gimme Mick" (1979)

(Just begs for a duet of Mick and Marianne playing the two parts...)
MARIANNE FAITHFULL -"Why'd Ya Do It?" (1979)

S I D E / T W O

HEART -"Even It Up" (1980)

(In the spirit of "Miss You"...)
GRACE JONES -"Pull Up To The Bumper" (1981)

(In the spirit of "Shattered"...)
BUSH TETRAS -"Too Many Creeps" (1982)

THE PANDORAS -"Want Need Love" (1984)

THE BROOD -"Satisfyin' " (1988)

EURYTHMICS -"I Need A Man" (1988)

(This was Liz's response to "Loving Cup" from "Exile On Main Street"...)
LIZ PHAIR -"Mesmerizing" (1993)

PJ HARVEY -"Rid Of Me" (1994, live 2001)

S I D E / T H R E E

(In the spirit of "Dead Flowers"...)
HOLE -"Doll Parts" (1994)

ELASTICA -"Never Here" (1995)

THE HEADCOATEES -"Punk Girl" (1997)

(For the title alone...)
TRACY BONHAM -"You Can't Always Not Get What You Don't Want" (2000)

BOSS HOGG -"Whiteout" (2000)

GARBAGE -"Cherry Lips" (2002)

S I D E / F O U R

THE KILLS -"Cat Claw" (2002)

(Just for the genderfluck chorus "Boy, you're such a stupid bitch and girl, you're just a no-good dick" alone...)
YEAH YEAH YEAH -"Black Tongue" (2003)

(In the spirit of "Wild Horses"...)
GILLIAN WELCH + David Rawlings -"Look At Miss Ohio" (2004)

THE DIRTY BURDS -"Sick Bitch" (2004)


PEACHES + Joan Jett -"You Love It" (2006)


C'mon, Mick and Keith, it's a win-win. You bring all their audiences into yours, stay hip, honor those who honored you, get them some really deserved royalties, put some perverse verve back into your image, don't strain for any new songs, and inspire a lot more young women out there. It's all good!

Ah well, this awesome album will probably never happen. You can't always get what you want.

I know, it's only ROCK Sex, but I can fantasize! (Yes, I do!)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

STARSTRUCK #13, The Surprise Coda, Is Out Now!

A Bakers' Dozen surprise!

Now that the 12-issue saga of Book One has just ended, for dessert we get a surprise new story all about the Galactic Girl Guides' very first trip to the hedonistic free-for-all of Recreation Station 9!

The Rec Station is notorious to all travelers of the galaxy as a wretched hive of scum and villainy, but can even it withstand the onslaught of the little girl Brucilla The Muscle?

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

You can join the Group page...

...and also become a Fan...

Starstruck Galatia & Brucilla

We all know that the 80's 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!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

'That'll Be The Day": John Wayne> Buddy Holly> The Beatles> David Essex

"That'll Be The Day" has its day!

In the classic Western "THE SEARCHERS" (1956), John Wayne often snarls the disgusted phrase, "That'll be the day."

Here's a trailer for the film. The narration is unintentionally comical as it portrays Wayne as Manifest Destiny on legs with hard nationalistic zeal. In truth, this film undermines that 50's jingoism by showing Wayne as an obsessive zealot who might kill his own daughter out of bigotry, and the tension of the film is whether he will.

"THE SEARCHERS" trailer, (1956)

Out in Texas BUDDY HOLLY was taken by that phrase and made one of the best Rock'n'Roll songs ever with his band THE CRICKETS.

BUDDY HOLLY & THE CRICKETS -"That'll Be The Day" (1957)

Over in Liverpool, this became the first song ever recorded by a local combo called THE QUARRYMEN. They had some other great songs afterward and are remembered fondly by many.

THE QUARRYMEN -"That'll Be The Day" (demo, 1958)

The Western film also gave the name to the British Invasion band THE SEARCHERS. Here's a lesser-known single with a great touch of fuzz to it. Why does this relate really? Because the original song was recorded by THE HOLLIES who, you guessed it, got their name from Buddy Holly.

(See, everything is connected. By the way, I'm your third cousin. How about a fiver?)

THE SEARCHERS -"Have You Ever Loved Somebody?" (1966)

Bringing it full circle, Buddy's song title inspired a film about the 1950's Rock scene in England. Spurred by the success of "AMERICAN GRAFITTI" and the debt of Glam Rock to classic Rock'n'Roll, the film stars RINGO STARR (a later drummer for The Quarrymen) and DAVID ESSEX.

"THAT'LL BE THE DAY" scene (1973)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Say What?!: 'Funky Stuff', Kool & The Gang

Answering the lyrical question, "Wait, what did they just say?"

Nobody can get enough of that "Funky Stuff" by KOOL & THE GANG. (We've tried, we've tried!)

Everyone's yelling out ad libs during this party pumper. At one point someone shouts "Keep on truckin' " (1:35). Then five seconds later someone blurts "Keep on Funkin'"...orrrr maybe it's "Keep on F#*@%ing". You listen and decide for yourself.

K&TG -"Funky Stuff" (1973)

Friday, September 3, 2010

'I Lit A Fire, Isn't It Good?': Beatles> Dylan> Murakami> Cornershop

Today's pop baton is "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" by THE BEATLES.

John Lennon's serpentine symbology, meant to hide an affair from his wife, immediately led everyone on a chase parsing out the lyrics. But despite its title, the song had a seismic impact on culture in regards to India instead of Norway.

George Harrison had been impressed by Indian musicians during the filming of the "HELP!" (1965) film, and during the recordings for this song he spontaneously tried his hand at a recently acquired sitar. George's faith, his mentor RAVI SHANKAR, sitar music, and Indian mysticism then rolled through late 60's culture and into the global mainstream for decades afterward.

THE FABS- "NW (TBHF)" (1965)

BOB DYLAN released a song soon afterward that is debated as an homage or a spoof of "Norwegian Wood". Dylan claims he played the melody to Lennon before The Beatles recorded their song. Whatever the case may be, as usual great songs by great artists earn their own merit.

(The back-and-forth game of inspiration between Dylan and The Beatles extended for years, and I should do a column on it in the near future.)

BD- "Fourth Time Around" (1966)

Once you put an idea out there, it's owned by everyone. Anything can happen and here it does. Wrap you head around this combination of the lyrics of "Norwegian Wood" with the music of Lalo Shifrin's "Mission: Impossible" theme!

ALAN COPELAND SINGERS- "Mission: Impossible"/ "Norwegian Wood" Medley (1968)

In 1987, Haruki Murakami wrote a popular novel called "Norwegian Wood"/ "ノルウェイの森"/" Noruwei no Mori", which was the protaganist's favorite song.

Now this book has been made into a film...

"Norwegian Wood" film trailer, (2010)

Bringing it all wonderfully full circle is CORNERSHOP.

The band was formed by two British/Indian brothers, Tjinder and Avtar Singh. Here is their terrific version of the song sung entirely in Punjabi.

CORNERSHOP -"Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)"