Friday, May 27, 2016

LL Cool J freestyle @ After Midnight in Philly (1985)
Killin' It!

you can't front on this:

from the YouTube uploader :
Say what you will about crossover TV/ Movie star/ Mr. Hey Lover, LL Cool J. Just don't forget to mention that the man was a rap beast in the days of real rap... Energy for days! Originally recorded live from After Midnight in Philly. This is from Lady B's Street Beat radio show circa 1985 on Power 99 FM. "...On Sunday afternoons from one to five/ She's the lady with the juice that's kickin it live...Street Beat Lady B". 'Nuff Respect!

Besides that they use a bunch of my photos in this lo-res clip, here's a great photograph that appears in my MY RULES book and one at the top of this post that didn't make the cut, both from the same roll of film around the same time as this 'freestyle'.

BONUS: from The Roxy Live , 80's sometime:

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Adventures of Schoolly D: A Gangster's Story

Schooly D's influence is immeasurable amongst the practitioners during the Golden Era of Hip-Hop in the mid-late 80's. He made classic tracks and had a classic style, songs he made then stand the test of time. P.S.K., Gucci Time, Saturday Night are undeniable killers. He's one of a handful of artists from the era I wish i had the opportunity to make pictures with, but never got to.


We this found on Dangerous Minds Yesterday, from our friend Richard Metzger:

At the risk of sounding like a middle-aged white guy character in a Mike Judge film, the improbable soundtrack to my life for the past two weeks has been Schoolly motherfuckin’ D. For whatever reason, I pulled out an old CD of his—maybe for the first time this millennium—to listen to in the car the other day and now I can’t get enough of it. Alone in the car I play “P.S.K. (What Does It Mean?)” at an ear-splitting volume that I’m pretty sure bounces my conservative European automobile like a low-rider with tricked-out suspension. I probably look like an idiot, I grant you, but I don’t really care. This shit is amazing. I appreciated it when it came out—I saw him live—but why it captured my attention so much again thirty years later I couldn’t tell you. It just did.

Probably the original original gangster rapper—even Ice-T admitted in his autobiography that he might’ve taken a bite out of Schoolly D‘s style—the Philadelphia native, on his self-released records at least, perfectly played the role of the scary black gang member/rapper, alluding to, cataloging and boasting about the nefarious activities of the “Park Side Killers,” the local posse of bad boys he ran with. Schoolly—real name Jesse Weaver Jr.—was backed by his DJ Code Money and rapped about violence, guns, raunchy sex, “bitches,” crack and “cheeba”—Salt-n-Pepa or Run DMC were never going to mention such things, or use the “N” word in their raps. Schoolly D shied away from none of these topics or that word.

He told the Philadelphia Citypaper about where his lyrical inspiration came from in a 2004 interview:

“A couple of guys I know, Abdullah, Disco Man and my man Manny, were like, “Why don’t you write a song about us, why don’t you write a song about Parkside Killers?’ It was one of the easiest songs I’d ever written. I wrote it sitting at my mom’s dining-room table, smoking some weed at 3 o’clock in the morning.”

Armed with his newfound inspiration and a large amount of weed, Schoolly hit the studio. Out of necessity he was forced into recording in a studio designed for classical music.

“They had these big plate reverbs, that’s why you got the “PSK’ sound because nobody used the real shit. We did everything live, and if you listen you can hear my fingers programming the drum machine. We just kept getting higher and higher and higher, and smoking and smoking and all of a sudden the song just took on this whole other life because we were just so fucked up. It just made this sucking sound like “boosh, boosh’ and we just looked at each other and were like, “Yeah, do more of that shit.’”

The “boosh” sound is what really made “PSK” stand out as something that, until that time, had never been done. The tweaked-out reverb bass caused a sensation.

“I got home and I put the tape in the tape recorder and I was like, “What the fuck did I do?’ Nobody had ever done something like that before, with all the reverb, nobody. And I was like, “I gotta go back and take some of that reverb out because this shit just sounds kinda crazy.’ But I didn’t know that everyone else was making tapes and passing out copies to everyone in Parkside, so by the time that I wanted to go back to the studio it was already out everywhere, and motherfuckers was going crazy, they was like, “That’s the baddest shit we ever heard in our whole fucking life.’”

It is. If you’ve never heard this one before, turn it up loud and pulverize yourself with it. It’s got to be LOUD. There’s no music video for “P.S.K. (What Does It Mean?)” or most of Schoolly D‘s best songs, but it would probably seen less threatening if there was something to watch, so enjoy this for the perfect “thing” that it is. Who needs a music video when you’ve got this?



The funny thing is, what seemed so “real” at the time, to be perfectly honest, does sounds in retrospect like two young guys getting fucked up and fucking around with a drum machine. The main beat was preprogrammed into the Roland TR-909 Rhythm Composer—you can also hear it in Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Kiss Them for Me”—and the outrageous raps seem in hindsight to be more juvenile hijinks than anything else—which is not to take anything away from it. I think it’s more just describing it accurately. (They’re still pretty NSFW, even 30 years later.)

In the same Citypaper article, Weaver said that his infamous “Saturday Night” was about “my 17-year-old Saturday night” and that the song was not meant to be taken literally. He admitted that he “did come home once with a girl and I forgot my key and my mom was pissed off, but she didn’t pull a gun; she’s never owned a gun in her life.”

Below you can see pretty much the only live footage of Schoolly D in his youthful prime, shot at the Latin Quarter nightclub in New York in 1986. I was at this very show when I was 20 years old. My girlfriend at the time worked at a hip-hop label and she was hip to Schoolly D, pretty early on and played his records (and performed his raps) around our apartment all the time. She got on the guest list and we went. The Latin Quarter was a real “check your gun at the door” kinda place, which meant it had the perfect ambiance for a Schoolly D show. The set was shot for Big Fun In The Big Town, a Dutch TV documentary about hip-hop and I remember the camera crew being there because they ruined the intimidating mood I expected. In any case, seeing this footage so many years later, I’m glad in hindsight that they were there. Who needs memories when you’ve got YouTube?



In recent years Schoolly D’s been perhaps best known for his contributions to Adult Swim’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force and he’s performed as part of a hip-hop oldies package tour. He’s also a painter (he drew the self portrait at the top of the post). Abel Ferrara used his music to great effect in The King of New York.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

LSD’s Long, Strange Trip
from the New York Times Retro Report

In bold documentary style, Retro Report looks back at the major stories that shaped the world using fresh interviews, analysis and compelling archival footage. Produced by Retro Report for The New York Times.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Ground Zero DETROIT Rock'N'Roll:
Louder Than Love - The Grande Ballroom Story
Essential doc on Detroit venue where the Stooges & MC5 made their marks

from Dangerous Minds:
Louder Than Love: The Grande Ballroom Story


“Detroit made you good.” –Alice Cooper

Louder Than Love: The Grande Ballroom Story is a must-see film for anyone who gives a shit about the history of rock-n-roll and ‘60s counter culture. The tale of the Grande Ballroom, the legendary Detroit venue, is one that’s needed to be told for some time. Hell, just for the fact that the Stooges and MC5 made their marks there is reason enough, but the ballroom was also a popular stop on the touring circuit, with some of the biggest acts of the period gracing its stage. Through archival footage and photographs, plus new interviews with those who were there (many of whom have since passed on), first time producer/director and Detroit native Tony D’Annunzio lays out how it all went down, making us wish we could’ve been there to see it. As a Detroiter, I was often beaming with pride as I watched the documentary, despite the fact that I was only a couple of years old when the Grande closed its doors.

The Grande Ballroom is a building that drew artists of all sorts into its vortex, and is still revered by those who set foot in it. It’s a venue where bands had to give their absolute best in order to impress Detroit audiences. It’s a place that—like Alice says—made you good.

Opening night

Outside the Grande on opening night, October 7th, 1966 (photo: Emile Bacilla)

Designed in the Moorish/Art Deco style and located on Detroit’s west side, the Grande Ballroom opened in 1928. The venue hosted big bands and was a mecca for dancing couples for decades (it could hold as many as 1,500 boppers), but by the early ‘60s, times had changed significantly and the Grande closed its doors. Fast forward to 1966: Detroit area DJ and school teacher Russ Gibb was attending a Byrds concert in San Francisco at Bill Graham’s Fillmore West, an updated dance hall. Inspired by the sounds and sights (he was especially blown away by the psychedelic light show) of the city’s burgeoning counter-culture scene, Gibb was determined to bring what he experienced to Detroit. After investigating several locations, he settled on the shuttered Grande Ballroom. Much like it had been during its initial heyday, the Grande would once again become the place to be.

Grande Ballroom poster

Poster art: Gary Grimshaw

Local band MC5 performed as part of the opening festivities at the Grande Ballroom, which took place on October 7th and 8th, 1966. Russ Gibb had his friend Gary Grimshaw design the poster, and Grimshaw would continue to create advertisements for Grande events. His artwork is now synonymous with the psychedelic ‘60s. Leni Sinclair, wife of MC5 manager, John Sinclair, was part of the crew responsible for the light shows, but she is best known for the photographs she took at the Grande, as well as her films of the the Stooges and MC5. Many of the images she captured are now iconic.

Back In The USA cover

Cover of the second MC5 album, ‘Back in the USA’ (1970). Photo snapped by Leni Sinclair backstage at the Grande.

Other area rock acts that honed their chops at the Grande include the Amboy Dukes, the Spike Drivers, SRC, and the Rationals. Bands that made appearances at the Grande while on tour include the Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd, the Mothers of Invention, Sly and the Family Stone, Howlin’ Wolf, the Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, and the Who. Tom Wright, who managed the Who at the time and would later oversee the Grande, said that he “had never seen the Who try harder” than during their 1968 show at the ballroom.

The Who

The Who (photo: Tom Weschler)

Jimmy Page

Jimmy Page, The Yardbirds


Iggy Stooge/Iggy Pop, The Stooges (photo: Leni Sinclair)

Wayne Kramer

Wayne Kramer, MC5 (photo: Charlie Auringer)

Unlike the “peace and love” hippie outfits that made up the bulk of the San Francisco scene, the Detroit bands were raw and gritty. One such act was more associated with the Grande Ballroom than any other, and that was the all-powerful MC5. Known for their explosive performances, the band became a staple of the venue. The 5 were keenly aware they would have to work hard to earn the love of the blue collar Detroit audiences, and incorporated the Detroit work ethic of the city’s auto workers into their act. Every group that shared the stage with the 5 learned they too had to bring it, which subsequently made them up their game—or risk leaving the place hanging their collective head in shame. In addition to being on the bill for the ballroom’s 1966 opening, other notable happenings in MC5 history took place inside the building: It’s where they recorded their debut album, the seminal live LP, Kick Out The Jams (1969), and where they played their final show the night the Grande closed for good, New Year’s Eve, 1972.



Louder Than Love: The Grande Ballroom Story has had a successful worldwide run on the festival circuit since the documentary premiered in 2012, and received a low-key video release last year. Producer/director Tony D’Annunzio has inked a deal with distributor MVD Entertainment Group, which will soon give the film the wide release it has always deserved.

Dangerous Minds recently asked Tony D’Annunzio some questions via email.

Tells us about your background.

Tony D’Annunzio: Born and raised here in Detroit. I have been in the broadcast television field for almost 30 years. I’ve had the pleasure of working with almost every network, including ABC, HBO, NFL Network, CNN, just to name a few. I had started as a production assistant in 1987 and was working my way to producing/directing award-winning broadcast television segments, commercials, and music videos. I recently was awarded the Kresge Foundation Fellows for Film, and was nominated for “Best New Filmmaker” for the LA New Filmmakers Film Festival.

What inspired you to make the documentary?

Tony D’Annunzio: I had always wanted to make my own documentary, but as I started to work in the production field I was really enjoying the commercial and live music video aspect of my profession. At the 20 year mark in my career (2008), I decided to go for it and start making the film I had been wanting to make. My love for music is one of the reasons I got into the business, and that coupled with my love of documentary films, lead me to start researching a music-based topic for my film. Although I was too young to attend the Grande Ballroom in its heyday (I was born in 1966, the same year the Grande opened as a rock palace), I had friends and family members that went there. If you grow up in Detroit, the stories, myths, and legends of the Grande are part of your DNA. After much research, I found out that a definitive story of the Grande era had not been done yet.

Did you have a narrative that you stuck to throughout the editing process or did the structure evolve over time?

Tony D’Annunzio: Great Question! The film actually started out as a music documentary, but as the interviews started coming together the film actually turned more into a cultural piece (with a lot of killer Detroit music). As someone that hadn’t attended the ballroom during its gloried past, I couldn’t figure out why it played so heavy into the musicians, poster artists, and attendees hearts. Although the music brought the people to the ballroom, it was the cultural and creative collective that inspired musicians and artists to keep coming back and performing there.

How long did it take to make the film?

Tony D’Annunzio: The film took 3.5 years to make. It was an independent film in the truest sense. I wrote, research, produced, set up interviews, and shot it on a very tight budget. I waited for the artists to come through Detroit to avoid travel expenses, and my wife Sharri even helped with catering the crew meals. You have to remember that during the making of this film I was also full time in the broadcast television field, so it was a bit of a balancing act to get the film shot and produced while still maintaining my day job.

At the very beginning of the film it was entirely self financed. We ended up having a couple benefits to not only raise funding, but to raise awareness of the project. I was contacted by a band in Australia (Young Doctors) that were such fans of the Detroit music from that era that they decided to have a benefit for me in Sydney. At that point, I knew I was really onto a compelling story that could reach out passed the Detroit area and even beyond the US.

There’s a fair amount of talk in the film concerning the idea that the Detroit work ethic impacted both local and touring acts. What’s your take on this concept?

Tony D’Annunzio: Having grown up here you don’t realize there is this work ethic ingrained in you. We work hard and we play hard! As I started to travel the globe for my profession, I became more aware of it. Detroit is a tough town, and in order to make a difference you really need to be dedicated to your profession and passionate about it. I’ll put it to you this way, I just recently saw Iggy Pop in Detroit and here is a 69 year old man that it still working his ass off and whipping the crowd into a frenzy. It’s inspiring to watch and amazing to feel that Detroit work ethic come to life on the stage!

You interviewed some pretty famous folks for the documentary, including Alice Cooper, Lemmy, and Roger Daltrey. How were you, a first time producer/director, able to convince these icons to appear in your film?

Tony D’Annunzio: Very early in the filmmaking process we cut a short trailer that I was able to send out to the artists I wanted to interview. I really believe that after the artist management and PR companies saw the level of production that I work at, they become very comfortable with allowing the musicians to be a part of it. Another big reason so many music icons made themselves available for the film is because the Grande Ballroom and the Detroit music scene has had such a big impact on all of their careers. I would always ask managers just to simply ask if the Grande and/or Detroit played a role in their artist’s career, and nine times out of ten it was a resounding YES!

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects you have in the works?

Tony D’Annunzio: Although I really love rock and roll, I have a passion for jazz too. I’m just starting the research process about the incredible jazz eras in Detroit, and since I was recently awarded the Kresge Foundation Fellows, and have been introduced to various other foundations because of this honor, I’m looking for funding to start this project. I already know I can make a good film with no budget, so I’m excited to see what I can do with one!

Grande doors

Pre-order the DVD of Louder Than Love: The Grande Ballroom Story through MVD

or Amazon. You can watch the trailer via the MVD link, but before doing that, check out a segment assembled just for Dangerous Minds. In the clip, James Williamson, Wayne Kramer, Alice Cooper, and others speak on the Detroit work ethic of the local bands, while super-fans Slash and Henry Rollins praise the power those groups wielded. You’ll also see awesome footage of the Stooges and MC5 on stage at the Grande.

Monday, May 23, 2016

School of Life Monday:
SOCIOLOGY - Auguste Comte

The 19th century thinker Auguste Comte invented a religion without a God in it. It was a fascinating move that deserves to be studied today.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Fela Kuti’s jazzy, pre-Afrobeat party music

from Dangerous Minds

Before the completion of his political radicalization, the great Nigerian creator of Afrobeat music Fela Kuti was a purveyor of another acutely African music called Highlife. Highlife was, at the time, a dance music that married African percussion and Western-style horn and guitar sections, creating a specifically Nigerian/Ghanan jazz sound. Around the 1930s, the style spread through the continent, and a modernized version remains popular today. From The Encyclopedia of the African Diaspora:

In 1930, Sibo, a Kru man, established a brass band in Ghana that played both African and European music; in Nigeria about the same time, the Calabar Brass Band moved to Lagos. Bothe events established the roots of highlife music in the two countries. Generally, as the music and its accompanying highlife dance spread across West Africa, each region maintained its ethnic specificity by composing songs in the local language, and some bands, especially the multinational ones, created compositions in English or pidgin English. Typical highlife songs covered topics ranging from love to social, philosophical, and the occasional political commentary.

Several factors contributed to the decline of highlife music. One major factor was the wave of independence sweeping through colonial Africa in the 1960s and 1970s. As countries attained independence, they lost vital connections they once shared through the British colonial system. Each new nation turned inward, focusing on developing independently. Closely related to this were the political unrest in Ghana and Nigeria. The 1965 coup d’etat that swept President Nkrumah from power also stifled his favored projects, including the state patronage of highlife music. The Nigerian Civil War (1969-1971) had an even more devastating impact because many of its prominent musicians were located in Biafra where the war raged the most. Finally, there was the widely, internationally popular soul music with its strong appeal to the younger generation, and West African youths proved to be no exception. Suddenly, highlife was no longer hip; it slipped into the memory lane of the middle-aged.

Photos circa 1966, give or take.

During the 1960s, after returning to Nigeria from his formal music studies in London, Fela led a Highlife band called Koola Lobitos. The band, like the music itself, was a mix of Africans and Westerners, and Kuti experienced success in the form. He was plentifully recorded, but little of that documentation made it to the west (an insanely thorough discography of those years can be seen at this link, revealing a massive trove of tantalizingly rare Fela records). The best record we’ve had of those years was The ‘69 Los Angeles Sessions. The tracks were recorded, like it says on the box, in 1969, in Los Angeles, under time duress as the band had been reported to the INS as being in the country without work permits!

But entirely legal or not, it was during his US visits that Kuti encountered the Black Power movement and books like Black Man of the Nile, which sped his already growing politicization, transforming him into the active revolutionary, wildly innovative and prolific musician, and controversial figure (he was also a prolific polygamist) who became famous in the ‘70s for the captivating, hypnotic chimera of Highlife, funk and free jazz he called Afrobeat.

Kuti’s Afrobeat phase was long and amply documented, lasting the rest of Kuti’s life (he passed in 1997 of AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma)—in fact, all of his Western releases are legitimately streaming for free, if you’ve got any curiosity to sate—but new compilation from Knitting Factory of his Koola Lobitos years aims to fill in the gaps in Westerners’ knowledge of his early years. Highlife-Jazz and Afro-Soul (1963-1969) was released last week, and while the collection contains some overlap with the 1969 sessions release, plenty of it has been mostly unheard in the West. Check out the genre anthem “It’s Highlife Time” and the almost Stax-y “I Know Your Feeling.”

Given that we’re talking about Fela and this weekend is (ugh) Record Store Day, we’d be remiss if we neglected to mention one of this year’s pitifully few genuinely interesting RSD releases—a 10” single of “I Go Shout Plenty” b/w “Frustration.” The songs were recorded in 1976, for an intended 1977 release, but the Nigerian government’s infamous and shocking attack on Kuti’s communal home, during which his mother was killed by defenestration, waylaid that and other Kuti releases. Both songs eventually made their way onto releases in the 1980s.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The inside story of when Run‑DMC met Aerosmith

My photograph of RUN-DMC was used for the cover of this epic single.

It was the first "picture sleeve" single they at "Profile records" ever did, before that they had only used generic label sleeves. I was offered $100, this is all we're willing to spend they said, and told me, "If you don't give it to us to use for $100, we'll just stick with the generic cover..." so I gave in, just wanting to be a part of a record of two great groups that i was into in their early years.

Run, himself, to his credit, when he heard of my generosity, took four hundred dollar bills out of his pocket from his wad of cash and said "Thank you Glen, here's my contribution and thanks" ... for dealing with those assholes at the label...

The Washington post ran a great story on the recording, check it out here:
The inside story of when Run‑DMC met Aerosmith and changed music forever

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

This is Hart Island in New York City

from The New York Times:

An uninhabited strip of land off the coast of the Bronx in Long Island Sound has been the final resting place for New York City's unclaimed dead since 1869.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Monday, May 16, 2016

School of Life Monday:
on LITERATURE - Voltaire

Voltaire was one of the wisest, funniest and cleverest people of the 18th century. He continues to have lots to teach us about toleration, modesty and kindness.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Watch the Buzzcocks;
farewell concert before they split in 1981

One of my all time favorite bands...

from Dangerous Minds:
The story of the Buzzcocks begins with an ad on a college notice board in 1975. The ad was placed by a young musician named Howard Trafford at the Bolton Institute of Technology. Trafford was looking for like-minded musicians to form a band. A student called Peter McNeish replied and the band that was to become the Buzzcocks was born.

McNeish changed his name to Pete Shelley. Trafford changed his to Howard Devoto. A drummer and bass player were recruited and the foursome played their first gig in February 1976.

They had ideas, they had a sense of what they wanted to do, but it didn’t really all gel until Shelley and Devoto traveled to London to see the Sex Pistols play. This was the kind of music they wanted to play—fast, furious, with purpose and edge. Being enterprising young lads, they booked the Pistols to play a gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester—the venue Bob Dylan played in 1965 when he went electric and was called a “Judas.”

The Sex Pistols first appearance at the Lesser Free Trade Hall was in June 1976. It’s been well documented and fair to say it was one of those gigs that changed musical history.  Among the 35-40 people in attendance that night were Mark E. Smith who would form The Fall, Steven Patrick Morrissey who would go on to form The Smiths, Ian Curtis who became the lead singer of Joy Division, Paul Morley who would write for the NME before becoming involved with record label ZTT and the Art of Noise, and er…Mick Hucknall….which proves that not all revolutionary events end in change.


He was there: Pete Shelley showing the poster for the Sex Pistols second appearance at the Lesser Free Trade Hall with support from the Buzzcocks.

The Buzzcocks were supposed to support the Pistols that night—but Shelley and Devoto couldn’t rally any musicians together. This led to a more professional attitude and a new more permanent line-up. Steve Diggle joined on bass guitarist with John Maher on drums. When the Pistols returned in July, the Buzzcocks did support them this time. The Buzzcocks name came from a magazine headline—a review of the Rock Follies TV show—containing the words “buzz” and “cock.” You can see how this Sex Pistols-inspired name appealed to a group of young guys.

The band formed a record label, New Hormones, to release their first EP (the third ever punk single in the UK) “Spiral Scratch.” Unexpectedly, Devoto quit the band. Shelley took over lead vocals and shared songwriting duties with Steve Diggle—who had moved from bass to guitar while Stephen Garvey eventually joined as new bass player.

Over the next four years, the Buzzcocks produced a selection of powerful, memorable and infectious songs (“What Do I Get?” “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t've),” “Harmony In My Head” and “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays” to name but four) that were sharp and clever and often lyrically as good as songs written by Ray Davies for the Kinks but with a more frenetic beat.


The Buzzcocks should have been massive. They should have been one of the major bands of the 1980s. But somehow it never happened. Musically they had evolved from punk into New Wave—which Shelley described as a bit of “spring cleaning”—into their very own idiosyncratic style. But somehow the audience didn’t go with them. While the Buzzcocks matured as a band, the fans had moved on to, say, Gary Numan, electronica, and the lipstick and powder of the New Romantic groups like Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran and Culture Club.

On January 23rd 1981, the Buzzcocks played their final gig before splitting-up in Hamburg. It was a superb farewell concert that makes you wonder why the hell they didn’t continue.

Track listing: “Why She’s a Girl From the Chainstore,” “What Do I Get?” “Fast Cars,” “Fiction Romance,” “Harmony In My Head,” “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays,” “Lipstick.” “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t've),” “Something’s Gone Wrong Again,” “Airwaves Dream,” “Strange Thing,” and “Noise Annoys.”

The Buzzcocks reformed in 1989 and are currently on a 40th anniversary tour in North America and Europe, details here.


One of my top 10 LP's: