Archive for December 2010

Dropping the Iron Curtain

2010/12/29

Nowadays, American bands don’t just influence American bands. American bands also influence British bands, Canadian bands, Australian bands, heck, American bands influence at the very least bands all over the world, if not also in places that aren’t even planets, like Pluto. (sorry Pluto)

The same was the case during the Cold War. Despite the USSR’s official rejection of western culture, all things American were slipping through the Iron Curtain. Music was no stranger to this transmission into Eastern Europe and the USSR. Musicians picked up from acts like Iggy Pop and the Stooges, the Velvet Underground, and of course later punk bands like the Talking Heads. I know this to be true because I read about it in a fanzine called Flagpole Magazine, from Athens, Georgia.

BIX

In 1991, a band called BIX came across the Atlantic to perform across the United States. They were from Lithuania, a country that had just declared independence from the Soviet Union. Already veterans of playing throughout Europe, and at a short 1990 US tour including a stop at the New Music Seminar in NYC, BIX was back for their second tour of America.

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Spam might not be real food, but it’s a real American hero

2010/12/26

Don’t tell the terrorists, but America’s secret weapon is none other than SPAM. And it has been since World War II.

the real key to a woman's heart

Kevin Connolly from the BBC provides some Spam trivia:

-The US supplied huge amounts of Spam to the USSR in WWII
-Its original name was Hormel Spiced Ham – the name Spam was chosen in a competition
-Production in the UK (in Liverpool) ceased in 1998
-Hormel Foods sued Jim Henson in 1995, after an “evil” boar called Spa’am featured in a Muppets movie
-Spam email is said to have been named after the Monty Python sketch, where the word takes over the dialogue
-A web archive of haiku about spam (or “spam-ku”) contains 19,000 poems

Kevin Connolly from the BBC also provides this article on Spam, American influence abroad, and a little town called Austin, Minnesota:

“How the US cemented its worldwide influence with Spam”

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the future is still unwritten

2010/12/26

This is Tom Morello‘s recent article on the lasting impact of the Clash, and the late and legendary Joe Strummer:

Joe Strummer, 1952-2002

The Clash Legacy

by Tom Morello

I had the good fortune to see the Clash play at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago when I was a teenager. It was an experience that changed my life. Even before the first note was played the transformation began. I bought a t-shirt in the lobby. I was used to buying heavy metal t-shirts with lots of garish wizards and dragons on them, but this Clash shirt was different. It just had a few small words written over the heart. It said, “the future is unwritten.”

debunk an academic myth

2010/12/21

Want the honor of putting the letters “d” and “r” in front of your name without having to go to medical school?

Well, if so you should probably read this article in the Economist first:

The Disposable Academic: Why doing a PhD is often a waste of time

Here Comes the Sun, part II

2010/12/19

You know, you’re right to say that Sam Phillips sure recorded a lot of good black and white artists down in Memphis in the 1950s.

The Fantastic Four

BUT – how the heck did he do it? What happened to musicians having to go to major music industry centres like Los Angeles or New York to get a start on their recording careers? For example, didn’t Ray Charles have to leave Seattle in just 1950 for California to get going on what would eventually culminate in Jamie Foxx getting famous and Kayne West shamelessly ripping him off?

The thing of it was, there were big changes to recording technology following World War II. And when an innovator like Sam Phillips came along to seize on untapped talent that was the Memphis region’s musicians, well, the rest is history.

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Here Comes the Sun, part I

2010/12/19

You know, you’re right to say that Sam Phillips recorded white guys like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and some upstart named Elvis (I can’t remember his last name).

BUT – he had his hand in recording black cats too. B.B. King for one, and here’s another:


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punk’s passionate heart

2010/12/18

Compare, if you will, the following two songs:

The Ramones, “Judy is a Punk” 1974

Talking Heads, “Psycho Killer” 1975

Boy, each band sure does have sonic uniqueness. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t both punk.

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