Coming up: "Cafe Exil - New Adventures In European Music 1972-1980" - sounds that inspired, and were inspired by, Bowie, Eno and Iggy
This is another of those great Ace Records sets co-compiled by British music writer/musician Bob Stanley. If you haven't read his excellent book on the history of pop, check it out.
Details on this new album from Stanley's co-compiler, Jason Wood:
When David Bowie and Iggy Pop escaped LA to go Interrailing in the mid-70s, they heard a new European music that was largely devoid of Anglo-American rock influence: the German motorik sound, flashes of jazz, experimentation and electronica. In West Berlin, one of their favourite haunts was Kreuzberg’s Cafe Exil, a smoky hang-out for beats and intellectuals. This is its imaginary soundtrack.
I imagine like many an Ace compilation, the impetus for “Cafe Exil” came from a record-playing session. One Sunday afternoon Bob and I were pleasantly pulling out LPs. Everything we played had a mildly electronic and European feel, perhaps as an antidote to the dreaded and then still looming Brexit. The majority of records we spun were fairly extensive in length, largely instrumental and hailed from the mid to late 1970s, with a few just edging into the following decade. Over subsequent conversations, we began to imagine ourselves going back in time and enjoying a pan-European sojourn, soaking up the sounds and cultures of the rapidly shifting time.
David Bowie, of course, had done something similar, becoming a kind of cultural antenna as he sought to expand his horizons and open himself up to new influences. Though he had flown for the majority of his 1973 Ziggy Stardust tour schedule, after completing concerts in Japan, Bowie convinced his record label that he would require safe passage back to England by sea and land. Initially travelling from Yokohama to Nakhodka aboard the SS Felix Dzerzhinsky, Bowie travelled onwards with childhood friend and back-up singer Geoff MacCormack via the Trans-Siberian railway from Vladivostok to Moscow. The trip concluded with a stopover in Moscow, the witnessing of the May Day parade and a visit to the Kremlin and the GUM department store. A second Russian train trip occurred in April 1976 during the tour to promote Bowie’s “Station To Station”, this time in the company of his formidable assistant Coco Schwab, photographer Andrew Kent and Iggy Pop. Bowie and Iggy relocated to Berlin following the recording of Iggy’s “The Idiot”, abandoning bad finances, the trappings of Bowie’s stratospheric stardom, failing marriage and perilous cocaine addiction for an apartment in the relatively working-class Schöneberg district in West Berlin, which was then home to many of the city’s gay clubs. Living in Berlin from 1976-1979, Bowie was attracted both by the emerging Kosmische music and the cheap living and anonymity it afforded him.
So what then are some more of the actual parameters for the songs you are about to listen to? In attempting to conjure the musical mood in the period referred to above we wanted to try and imagine some of the sounds and musical textures that fed into them and then expanded out of them. To do this we set ourselves a timeframe of 1972-1980. We were originally going to choose only instrumental tracks with a strong electronic element but then took various deviations and detours as we tried to imagine ourselves speeding through strange European cities and landscapes, meeting in cafes and soaking up new sounds and visions. We wanted to try and capture a mood and tone rather than something entirely concrete (or concrète), so have drawn upon motorik, library music, progressive rock, Italian folk fusion and more. There is a balance that leans quite naturally towards German artists and the inclusion of a track by Eno that acknowledges both his role as a sonic alchemist and his ability to act as a conduit and conductor for all music that is dictated by mood but not constrained by boundaries. The whole exercise came together quite seamlessly, really, the only thing that Bob and I still haven’t agreed on is which of us is David and which of us is Iggy.
- Way Star - Rubba
- Pony - Annette Peacock
- Tommy - Focus
- A Morning Excuse - Amon Düül II
- Octave Doctors - Steve Hillage
- Jennifer - Faust
- Feuerland - Michael Rother
- Eileen - Streetmark
- L'Eroe Di Plastica - Toni Esposito
- No One Receiving - Brian Eno
- Hüter Der Schwelle - Popol Vuh
- Penny Hitch - Soft Machine
- Don't You Know - Jan Hammer Group
- Canoe - Piero Umiliani
- Troupeau Bleu - Cortex
- Sowiesoso - Cluster
A big new book collects Jack Kirby's complete Eternals run and then some. You can order it at Amazon here.
Details from Marvel:
When Jack Kirby returned to Marvel in the 1970s, scores of amazing concepts would spring forth from his limitless imagination - and THE ETERNALS was his mind-blowing masterpiece! Kirby unveiled a secret history of humanity, races known as Eternals and Deviants, and a host of towering Celestials come to bear judgment on the Earth! It was a jaw-dropping saga that could have only come from the King of comics. And after Kirby's tenure ended, creators including Peter B. Gillis, Sal Buscema, Walter Simonson, Roy Thomas and Mark Texeira continued to weave stories within the epic mythology that he created! Now, thrill to the complete classic saga of the Eternals!
COLLECTING: ETERNALS (1976) #1-19, ETERNALS ANNUAL (1977) #1; ETERNALS (1985) #1-12; ETERNALS: THE HEROD FACTOR (1991) #1; NEW ETERNALS: APOCALYPSE NOW (2000) #1; IRON MAN ANNUAL (1971) #6; AVENGERS (1963) #246-248; material from WHAT IF? (1977) #23-30
In this ever-complex era of watching TV it's become a challenge watching shows you always watch during the holiday season. That's why you see tons of stories online about how to watch 50-plus year-old TV specials, such as the perennial favorite "A Charlie Brown Christmas."
This year it'll be broadcast on Sunday, Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m. ET on PBS and PBS KIDS and it will stream starting Dec. 4 on Apple TV+, which also will make it available to non-subscribers from Dec. 11-13.
Alternatively, you can free yourself from this annual stress by just buying the damned thing. It's available on DVD and Blu-ray from Amazon and, I'm sure, elsewhere, too. You also probably have it on a taped-from-TV VHS somewhere in your house, too, but that could just be me...
And, before you ask, you also can get the animated Grinch special (not that cringey Jim Carrey thing) on disc, too.
German-based Bear Family Records is one of the world's best reissue labels. For decades now, they've issued both single CDs and expensive, behemoth box sets specializing, mostly, in vintage U.S. country, pop and rock'n'roll. And, over the past few years, they've been issuing great Christmas compilations featuring tunes culled from those larger collections.
I've been keeping up with these releases and plan on getting both of these, too. If they're anything like their predecessors, the sound and liner notes are great (and in English) and the price is right (cheap). Groovy cover art, too.
Check 'em out. Click the links to order from Amazon. The details on each release come from the label.
- Georgie Auld & His Orchestra feat. Bill Darnell - Christmas Ball
- Louis Prima & His Orchestra - Shake Hands With Santa Claus
- Bill Bronson s Overtones with The Tommy Ferguson Trio - Christmas Is On Its Way
- Roy Milton & His Solid Senders - Christmas Time Blues
- Jo Stafford - Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
- Knuckles O'Toole & The Brigadiers - Jingle Bells
- The Andrews Sisters - Jing-A-Ling, Jing-A-Ling
- Benny Goodman & His Orchestra feat. Peggy Lee - Winter Weather
- Georgie Auld & His Orchestra feat. Bill Darnell - It Ain't Snowin' Outside
- Leroy Anderson & His ''Pops'' Concert Orchestra - Sleigh Ride
- Art Mooney & His Orchestra - The Christmas Choo Choo Train
- Lawrence Welk's Little Band feat. Janet, Brian, Cubby & The Lennon Sisters - Outer Space Santa
- Barry Gordon - Zoomah, The Santa Claus From Mars
- Fred Waring & The Pennsylvanians with The Glee Club - Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer
- Dorothy Collins - Mister Santa
- Cary Grant - Christmas Lullaby
- Mickey Rooney - Susie, The Snow Girl
- Kay Martin & Her Body Guards - Come On Santa, Let's Have A Ball
- Kay Martin & Her Body Guards - Santa's Doing The Horizontal Twist
- Dinah Washington - Ole! Santa
- Ramsey Lewis Trio - Christmas Blues
- Dave King & The Keynotes - Hotta Chocolata
- Tina Robin - Winter Wonderland Cha Cha
- The Enchanters - Mambo, Santa, Mambo
- The Surfers - Here Comes Santa Claus In A Red Canoe
- Louis Armstrong - Christmas In New Orleans
- Noël Chiboust Et Son Orchestre, feat. Django Reinhardt - Noël Blues
- Jerry Lewis - I've Had A Very Merry Christmas
- Johnny Otis & His Orchestra - Happy New Year, Baby
- Ramsey Lewis Trio - What Are You Doing New Years Eve
- Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians - Auld Lang Syne
- Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys - When It's Christmas On The Range
- Wilf Carter (Montana Slim) - Jolly Old St. Nicholas
- Gene Autry - Here Comes Santa Claus
- Bill Monroe - Christmas Time's A-Coming
- The Louvin Brothers - It's Christmas Time
- Ray Salter & The Twin City Playboys - Christmas Decoration
- Little Jimmy Dickens - No Place Like Home On Christmas
- Tex Ritter - Christmas Carols By The Old Corral
- George Morgan - Blue Snowfall
- Ernest Tubb - White Christmas
- Cliff Bruner & His Texas Wanderers - Snowflakes
- Eddy Arnold - Christmas Can't Be Far Away
- Kitty Wells - Christmas Ain't Like Christmas Anymore
- Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys - Empty Chair At The Christmas Table
- Jim Reeves - Blue Christmas
- Brenda Lee - I'm Gonna Lasso Santa Claus
- Billy Briggs - North Pole Boogie
- Red Foley - Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer
- George Jones - New Baby For Christmas
- Wilf Carter - The Night Before Christmas In Texas, That Is
- Nelson Young - Home At Christmas
- Skeeter Davis - Santa Claus Is Coming
- Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys - Santa's On His Way
- The Prairie Ramblers - Cowboy Santa Claus
- Terry Fell - We Wanna See Santa Do The Mambo
- Ray Salter & The Twin City Playboys - I Wish Every Day Was Christmas
The beginning of a new year is a good time to make a change, so I wanted to let you know that I've decided to put this blog on hiatus for much (maybe all) of 2020, as I wrap up a long-in-the-works writing project.
I figure I will be back, so please stay tuned for updates here and on our Facebook and Twitter feeds.
Also, if you're a Beatles fan, please check out my other blog, The Glass Onion Beatles Journal. I will continue posting there regularly, as it's related to the project I mentioned above (hint, hint, hint).
I'm leaving up all my thousands of posts here for browsing, so there's plenty to keep you busy if you like.
Wishing you a great new year! I hope to see you near the end of it or soon after!
-- John F.