Celebrity news & gossip from the world’s showbiz and glamour magazines (OK!, Hello, National Enquirer and more). We read them so you don’t have to, picking the best bits from the showbiz world’s maw and spitting it back at them. Expect lots of sarcasm.
THIS animated interview with late great 1970s singing love walrus Barry White, throbbing growler of such bedroom-of-kitchen-sofa- you-name it-friendly hits as Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love Baby, You’re the First, the Last, My Everything, It’s Only Love Doing It’s Thing, Love Theme and the puntastic Love Making Music is a soothing appeal to our loving souls. Says Barry: “When a man is making love, the last thing he thinks about is war! The last thing he thinks about is ‘how can I blow up a nation?’.”
ELIZABETH Cotten wrote Freight Train, the song for which she is best remembered, in her early teens. Libba” Cotten (January 5, 1893 – June 29, 1987) was an American blues and folk musician, singer, and songwriter.
A self-taught left-handed guitarist, Cotten developed her own original style. Her approach involved using a right-handed guitar (usually in standard tuning), not re-strung for left-handed playing, essentially, holding a right-handed guitar upside down. This position required her to play the bass lines with her fingers and the melody with her thumb. Her signature alternating bass style has become known as “Cotten picking”.
ON January 11 1992, Paul Simon kicked off his South Africa tour. He’d visited the country before, back in 1985 in defiance of the UN-sponsored cultural boycott against apartheid. On 2 December 1968, The UN General Assembly requested all States and organisations “to suspend cultural, educational, sporting and other exchanges with the racist regime and with organisations or institutions in South Africa which practice apartheid”. Sportsmen and music acts were encouraged not to play in South Africa.
The ANC and Artists Against Apartheid were outraged. Why hadn’t Simon consulted them before arriving?
Said Simon: “You went to South Africa but you didn’t ask us. You need to ask the ANC. So that’s the kind of government you’re going to be? Check our lyrics? F*** the artists like all kinds of governments have done in the past?”
Simon’s foresight introduced much of the world to the music of black South Africa. That first trip led to his groundbreaking Graceland album, featuring South African musicians Hugh Masekela, Simon and Miriam Makeba and the Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Joe Berlinger followed Simon on his trip. In his documentary Under African Skies, we hear Dali Tambo, founder of Artists Against Apartheid and son of the late African National Congress (ANC) president Oliver Tambo. He says: “At that moment in time, it was not helpful. We were fighting for our land, for our identity. We had a job to do, and it was a serious job. And we saw Paul Simon coming as a threat because it was not sanctioned by the liberation movement.”
Simon found it absurd that artists should be viewed in the light and shadows cast by politicians. Art, said Simon, would endure.
In 1987, Simon performed his Under African Skies Concert in Harare:
When Simon returned in 1992, that boycott has been lifted. This time the ANC backed him.
Of the show in Johannesburg’s Ellis Park Stadium, The New York Times noted, “Most black South Africans could not afford to pay up to $30 for a ticket, or, lacking cars, to travel to Johannesburg from the outlying black townships.”
Entertainment Weekly surveyed the scene:
While Simon opened his two-week South Africa tour with such gentle songs as ”The Obvious Child,” ”Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and ”The Sounds of Silence,” armored police vehicles, bomb-sniffing canines, and even a surveillance helicopter patrolled the stadium. Outside, clusters of angry black protesters, representing leftist fringe groups that ferociously oppose the lifting of international sanctions against South Africa, were handing out leaflets, waving anti-Simon signs, and threatening to disrupt his concert with violence.
Not everyone could make it. One month earlier, Ladysmith Black Mambazo co-founder Headman Tshabalala had been shot dead by a white security guard. The guard had been arrested. He’d been released on $300 bail.
The day he arrived, two hand grenades exploded outside the offices of a Johannesburg company that helped arrange the tour. Complaints were also aimed at Whoopi Goldberg and the production of Sarafina!, which she is filming in South Africa.
The Baltimore Sun reviewed the show:
A small group of black activists, as many as 100 at one point, marched outside the entrance of Ellis Park Stadium in east Johannesburg with signs that said the singer had come at the wrong time with his “Born at the Right Time” tour.
The hand-lettered placards read: “Simon Go Home,” “Yankee Go Home,” “Don’t Delay Our Freedom,” and “Liberation First, Entertainment After.”
Members of a radical black group known as the Azanian Youth Organization had threatened to disrupt the concert with violence, saying that the American pop star was wrong to come to South Africa before the country’s political problems were solved.
“Artists should come after we have a democratic government,” said Kgomotse Modiselle, a 20-year-old high school student who described himself as a spokesman for the left-wing youth group. “Right now is not the right time for sanctions to be lifted.”
He said that only whites were attending the concert because blacks were opposed to Mr. Simon’s presence in South Africa. “The stadium is filled with white people,” he proclaimed.
Violence was never far away.
About a half-dozen tanks painted in camouflage colors sat near the front of the stadium.
CHERYL Cole has ago but role of “nation’s sweetheart”. But now thank to Max Clifford Solution, you can hark back to those halcyon days of Princess Diana and Jade Goody in “Together Forever” – features “two Princesses from opposite side of the track, joined forever in happiness in the hereafter.
“From the authentic matchplay-grade table tennis table, to the bats backed with genuine dimpled rubber, to the intricately sculpted angel wings, every details of this collectors’ heirloom figurine is designed to give you joy”
TOM Mix – January 6, 1880 – October 12, 1940 – was an American silent film actor who starred in hundreds of films.
* In all, he made 336 feature films, produced 88, wrote 71 and directed 117. Tom made only 9 sound feature films and the 15-chapter serial “Miracle Rider.”
AT a time when even the most obscure vintage track is just a few clicks away, it’s very hard to create a list of “underplayed” songs. Many recordings swept under the rug have now returned to the light via music blogs, YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, etc.
The list before you is to help insert some new blood into your playlists. I’m always appreciative of a recommendation, so I figured some of you would be as well.
Note: There’s a tendency in many music lists to impress the rock snobs. Nothing is ever too unknown or clever for them. I’ve tried to avoid the temptation to plumb the depths of obscurity just to show off. We’ll keep things off the beaten path, but no so deep as to unleash the Balrog.
- 1941 – Harry Nilsson
Autobiographical ditty which got him noticed by the Beatles. Legendary debauchery by Harry and Mr. Ono soon followed.
- 2000 Light Years from Home – Rolling Stones – The Stones shoot for Strawberry Fields and actually nail it. They’d be moving on to bluesier stuff in a hurry.
- A Minah Menina – Os Mutantes
Brazilian psychedelia unbelievably used in a 2008 McDonald’s commercial. It deserved the attention.
- Any Major Dude – Steely Dan
Why this wasn’t a top ten hit will forever be one of history’s greatest mysteries.
- Ballad of Danny Bailey – Elton John
With so many hits being churned out by Elton, I suppose this one got trampled and lost underfoot.
- Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft – The Carpenters
Much more palatable than the original Klaatu version. Yes, it’s cheesy and insane – but that’s not always a bad thing.
- Chevy Van – Sammy Johns
Like “Afternoon Delight”, the innocent veneer masks an extremely dirty song (about having sex with a hitchhiker)
- Circle Round the Sun – B.J. Thomas
Beautiful, damn near transcendent song that apparently was too good for radio.
- Cthlu Thlu – Caravan
Guitar noodling goes on a bit long in the second half, but HP Lovecraft still would be proud.
- Daily Nightly – The Monkees
Moog infused psychedelia that, of course, gets no respect because it’s from the Monkees.
- Disadvantages of You – The Brass Ring
Elevator music at its finest.
- Fundamentally Yours – Stackridge
Sounds more like Badfinger than Badfinger, but you cannot deny it’s a flat-perfect pop melody.
- Ghetto Child – The Spinners
May sound silly to those raised on hip-hop, but this is where talent, soul, melody and message come together.
- Hard Times – Kiss
The circus often overshadowed their talent for simple quality rock. One wonders how their music would be viewed had they had just dressed like Foghat.
- Hello Little Lover – Mahogany Rush
These Canadians can rock hard. Great music to exceed speed limits to.
- Home Is Where the Hatred Is – Esther Williams
Esther lays it all out on the table. You’ll be exhausted by the time she’s through with you.
- Houdini Said – Gilbert O’Sullivan
Well crafted, creative, melodic… the adjectives keep on coming, yet I can’t put it into a coherent description.
- I See the Rain – Marmalade
Hendrix loved the guitars – you’ll get no better endorsement than that.
- I’m Mandy, Fly Me – 10cc
The band was always wandering off the beaten path; here they take an obvious pop nugget and make it interesting.
- In the First Place – Remo Four
From the Wonderwall film; a brilliant instrumental with George Harrison as its creator.
- I’ve Got to Be Going – Peppermint Trolley Co.
The group is more known for the original Brady Bunch theme than anything else, which is a crying shame because they could craft some great bubblegum pop.
- Ladies and Gentlemen – Clouds
In a perfect world, complex tunes like this go platinum. Instead, it was lost without a trace, and can’t even be found on Spotify.
- Land of the Few – Love Sculpture
If ever there was a song begging to added to a playlist, this is it. Do it for Dave Edmunds.
- Leave It – Mike McGear and Paul McCartney
Silly and nonsensical, but McCartney’s ability to come up with a brilliant melody on a dime is unnerving.
- Life Has Just Begun – Spirit
The whole Sardonicus LP is woefully under-appreciated. The songs were just a bit too odd to become a part of classic rock mainstream.
- Lord Grenville – Al Stewart
Transcendental tune about a 17th century naval captain which circles upwards like cannabis vapors to the Heavens. “Our time is just a point along a line that runs forever with no end.” Heavy, man.
- Love Alive – Heart
The ladies did their best to be Led Zeppelin in the early days. Here’s where they came the closest.
- Man of 1000 Faces – Gene Simmons
When all four members of Kiss simultaneously released solo albums, we sensed they’d be jumping the shark soon. This one is just too interesting to ignore.
- Mary Skeffington – Gerry Rafferty
It’s about Gerry’s own mother who once was full of promise, now dodges her drunk husband’s punches. It’s simultaneously depressing and beautiful.
- Mother Freedom – Bread
Not as pillowy soft as we’re accustomed with this band, but still has that signature triumphant hook.
- My White Bicycle – Tomorrow
Best bicycle song there is: beats both Queen and Floyd.
- Nice, Nice, Very Nice – Ambrosia
One of the few prog rock bands that recognized the importance of melody. Even Vonnegut couldn’t help but sing its praises; it’s not easy to adapt Bokononism for the radio.
- Open Sesame (Groove with the Genie) – Kool & the Gang
Back when funk bands had 20 members and a horn section; this is the very definition of back porch, booger nosed funk. Can ya dig?
- Psychic Vampire – Space Opera
More complicated than a song has a right to be; yet still pleasing to the ear. I could listen to this on a loop for the rest of my life.
- Red Telephone – Love
Easily one of the greatest albums of all time, Forever Changes was widely unknown until it started popping up on “best of” lists. I’ll add my voice to the chorus.
- Rose for Emily, A – The Zombies
It wants to be Eleanor Rigby, and comes damned close. Titled based on a Faulkner novel about necrophilia.
- Satellite of Love – Lou Reed
I’ve heard this song 900 times over thirty years and I still don’t know why I like it. It’s a rock snob favorite, so I want to hate it, but can’t.
- Searchin’ So Long – Chicago
One of the great codas in rock history. Coda hall of fame: “Hey Jude”, “Atlantis” by Donovan, “Aquarius” by the Fifth Dimension, and “Head Over Heels” by Tears for Fears “… and this is my foooour leaf clover.”
- Seven Island Suite – Gordon Lightfoot
Epic dirge to escape the rat race. Rarely are songs this exultant.
- She Was Naked – Supersister
Speaking of codas: this one starts off worrisome, then ends with a roundhouse kick to the solar plexus.
- Some Gospel According to Matthew – Roberta Flack
Before American Idol infected the world with melisma, and before autotune turned the singers of a generation into synthetic ventriloquist dummies – there was Roberta.
- Song of the Viking – Todd Rundgren
Playful on the surface, but bizarrely beautiful. Obviously written by a mad genius.
- Summer of ’71 – Helen Reddy
Hearing Helen sing about getting high on mescaline is reward enough. The fact that it’s a great song is the cherry on top.
- Theme One – The George Martin Orchestra
The Van Der Graf Generator did a respectable cover, but nothing tops the original sonic grandeur composed for Radio One.
- Vacuum Cleaner – Tintern Abbey
If you’re not pleasantly surprised by this oft overlooked psychedelic gem, you’re just being stubborn
Over to you…
THE Topps Company didn’t just make baseball cards with a stick of chewing gum in each packet. They made cards for non-sporting endeavours. Collect them. Trade them. The Garbage Pail kids cards sold well. So too Pokemon. But what about these?
In 2013 Topps created Lollapalooza Trading Cards.
But before that, they made these.
The Bay City Rollers
The girls will go wild for the Scots rockers. Back in the 1970s, it was Rollermania as Eric Faulkner and Stuart Wood, Les McKeown, Alan Longmuir and drummer Derek Longmuir emerged from Edinburgh to make tartan cool.
DISNEY are a problematic bunch at the best of times, and unfortunately for them, they’ve been very successful and for a long, long time, which means they’re subject to the kind of scrutiny that not many other organisations are.
THE Coachella Festival is back, announcing the 2014 line-up, much to the excitement of people on Tumblr who are hipster enough to fawn over it, but alas, too poor to actually afford to attend.
The big news is that the festival will have a recently reformed Outkast headlining, which is good news for all. Also topping the bill are Muse and Arcade Fire (Queen 2.0 and Music For Dads, respectively).
In a post on Twitter, the festival revealed the line up for the April event, with the message “Share it like a polaroid picture”. You can see that here.
MUSICIANS aren’t known for telling the truth very often. When they break up bands, they cite ‘musical differences’ rather than ‘we all pretty much hate each other now and couldn’t convince the record label to let us have a break, so we’re going to argue about music until we can’t look each other in the eye’.
When they nearly kill themselves with drugs and booze, they pretend they’ve got ‘nervous exhaustion’. When they refuse to do promotional work for new records, they know that that, in itself, is promotional work and it works very well thank you very much.
IT’S UNFORGIVABLE to squander excellent source material in favour of garbage. Anyone who read World War Z and saw the film can vouch for that. Well, the same sad fact is true for most DVD covers. An excellent movie poster exists, but the distributor opts for a poor substitute thrown together and Photoshopped in two minutes.
Before anyone points out that movie posters have an edge via larger canvas size – I’ll acknowledge that. But there’s plenty of awesome paperback artwork – the smaller canvas didn’t seem to handicap Frank Frazetta or Robert McGinnis. So, I’m not going to give DVD covers a pass.
No excuses. And to prove my point I’m going to show you some side by side comparisons (DVD abominations are always on the right). Young children may want to shield their eyes.
2014’s Bafta film nominations have been announced, which is particularly good news for London’s cocaine dealers as they prep themselves for one of their busiest awards of the year.
Leading the pack is Gravity with 11 nominations and true stories dominate the main categories (which probably means all our fiction writers are either rubbish or they’ve given up through a lack of funding) with all but two films (Gravity and The Selfish Giant) falling into that pocket.
It’ll be a good night for Dame Judi Dench too. She’s got a nod for Philomena, which gives her a whopping total of 15 Bafta film nominations – the most nominated actress in the history of the event.
HAPPY birthday David Bowie, for us and Flight of the Conchords:
In 1978 Muhammed Ali Boxed Marvin Gaye, Sammy Davis Junior, Richard Pryor – The Story And Some Great Photos
ON May 8, 1978, Muhammad Ali delivered a punch to the body of entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr. during their benefit fight and show at the Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles.
On Feb. 15, Ali had lost to Leon Spinks in a 15-round fight in Las Vegas. Ali was crestfallen. Superman was defeated. But Spinks was too tough.
World heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, right, is shown at a press conference in New York, January 31, 1978, with promoter Don King, left, and Herbert Muhammad, center, to plug a comic book in which he beats Superman. Ali holds a copy of the comic book.
On Aug. 15, Ali won the rematch at the New Orleans Superdome, again after 15-rounds.
Ali had become the first man to win the heavyweight championship three times.
In between those epic bouts, he entered the ring with the fearsome Sammy Davis Junior:
BEFORE we carry on with the list, let’s define what we’re talking about here. “Inconceivably Awkward” simply means it contains both of the following qualities:
- It is so terrifyingly uncomfortable you instinctively flinch as if you’ve been punched squarely in the genitals.
- It is so unimaginably awful you question whether the director suffered head trauma and should seek medical attention.
I should also mention that this isn’t a “top five” list as there’s plenty worse out there. These are just five scenes (plus a runner-up) which spring instantly to mind when thinking of the worst of the worst.
RARE footage of Nirvana playing their last ever LA gig has been put online by someone who knew the band. Within months of the recording, Kurt Cobain would cut his life short and rid us all of a band who, whether you liked their music or not, were really fun to be around.
TWENTY years ago, the BBC was celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of one of its most ‘iconic’ shows.
Ten years ago, the BBC was celebrating its 40th anniversary.
There was a problem, however. During the first decade of the show – which also unfortunately happened to be its heyday – most of the episodes were erased on the grounds that videotape was expensive, and television was considered an ephemeral medium. Posterity was not a consideration.
In the past decade, some missing footage has been retrieved from private collectors, which boded well for the big 50th anniversary. Or so you might think.
In fact, the BBC has removed footage from the clips that are available, and decided not to celebrate the anniversary at all.
The reason, guys and gals, is simple: the programme in question was Top of the Pops, and the TV studio in which it was filmed served as an HQ for the nefarious activities of Jimmy Savile and his pop pals. Hence Jim’s introductions and performances from certain artistes are now strictly verboten.
None of which will stop Anorak from picking some top pop moments from the show’s golden years – erring on the side of the hidden gems –in this unofficial celebration…
RICHARD Pryor could sing. Before the comedy hits came, Pryor headed to New York City and sang the blues:
THE animatronic band of animals that once rocked the Showbiz Pizza Place restaurants have been reprogrammed by fan Chris Thrash to play Pop, Lock and Drop It.
Pizza and robots. Live the dream, kids.
The Rock-afire Explosion rock on. Before the song, let’s introduce the band:
Billy Bob Brockali (bear / bass)
Fatz Geronimo (gorilla / keyboards)
Mitzi Mozzarela (mouse /vocals)
Dook LaRue (dog / drums)
Beach Bear (bear / guitar)
Rolfe & Earl (wolf / puppeteer)
Looney Bird (bird / vocals)
Inventor Aaron Fechter’s band starred in The Rock-afire Explosion, a documentary about their lives and loves:
* The movie focuses on one fan in particular, a small-town roller-rink DJ from Alabama by the name of Chris Thrash. Thrash has actually installed a fully working version of the Rock-afire Explosion in his home, and eventually brought the group new exposure in the 2000′s when he began programming the robots to sing along to current popular music and released videos of it on Youtube.
Fechter’s story of how he came to create the Rock-afire Explosion is told in the movie, and it’s an interesting and even inspiring one – a struggling inventor trying to door-to-door sell a pool-cleaning device he had created, he just happened to knock on the door of a businessman looking for someone to build him a mechanically operated shooting gallery.
In 2013, the guys and gals played with Cee Lo Green:
* We’ve seen the RF band appear in music videos and feature films, and today the band takes up residency as part of Cee Lo Green’s live Vegas show at Planet Hollywood opening the show with a rousing Rock-afire rendition of “F*** You”.
According to the imdb:
* “The Rock-afire Explosion” is the story of a small-town disc-jockey, a struggling inventor, and an animatronic rock band, that quickly becomes an eccentric portrait of childhood memories, broken dreams, and the resilience of the human spirit.
In this clip the band plays Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) by Arcade Fire:
In October 2013, Aaron Fechter’s downtown Orlando warehouse fell victim to an exploding gas tank. The Rock-afire Explosion went ka-boom.
* An inventor with a flair for music and a degree in finance, Fechter was a CEO and millionaire before he was 30. In 1982, Fortune Magazine called him “a prodigy of automatons,” when his creatures — created in the Orlando warehouse — became headliners at ShowBiz Pizza Placejoints across the country…
As ShowBiz expanded, so did Fechter’s company, Creative Engineering Inc… At its peak, CEI had 300 employees building 70 shows a year. Fortune said each cost $90,000.
When ShowBiz opened its 100th store — in Texas — Fechter donned a Billy Bob suit and arrived by helicopter to mingle with fans. “It was like being a rock star,” he says.
But like every good rock-‘n’-roll story, it couldn’t last. And in 1983, Fechter got a call from ShowBiz. Stop production, the company said, we’re not opening any more restaurants. The company had grown too quickly, expenses had soared, and ShowBiz couldn’t afford Fatz and friends.
ShowBiz merged with rival Chuck E. Cheese, which was also struggling, ultimately asking for the rights to the Rock-afire Explosion. Fechter refused.
“These were my characters, and I thought I might do something with them in the future,” he said. “So I walked away.”
If you like what you’ve heard, the whole film is here:
IN 1982, The Who took the corporate coin and sold out to Schlitz.
WHEN Bad Romance landed, it looked like Lady GaGa was going to conquer the whole world, forever. For a time, she could barely put a foot wrong. Each video was a huge pop event, each single had a chorus destined to remove all the tops on all the dancefloors.
Then, something fell flat. GaGa lost momentum. GaGa went from delightfully divisive and ambitious to being stuck in a rut. The talent, clearly still there and the comforting kookiness still shone, but there was something missing and suddenly, she didn’t have ‘it’, whatever ‘it’ was.
YEARS AGO in days of old when magic filled the air, people did their workouts at home by their turntable. Generally, the needle bounced and scratched from all the flopping around. Plus, record players were usually centrally located, which meant you had to get sweaty and embarrass yourself in front of everyone in the living room. It wasn’t until the advent of the Walkman and the proliferation of health clubs that workout music got practical. Of course, this meant the demise of the fitness LP.
Thankfully, the fossilized remains of some of these albums have been uncovered and are well worth a look.
The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute To The Beatles May Well Be The Worst Karaoke Gig Ever
AMERICA’S fondness for The Beatles is unwavering and borderline bizarre. Of course, The Beatles are brilliant and hugely significant, but it isn’t like The States have a plethora of heroes to celebrate that belong to their shores.
Either way, they’ll be celebrating The Fabs again with a show called The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute To The Beatles, which will be recorded at the Los Angeles Convention Centre on January 27.
BREAKING news from Aspen, Colorado. CNN has it:
Celebrities tweet reaction to a small plane crash that occurred at the airport in Aspen, Colorado.
The report adds that “many of the rich and famous” holiday in Aspen. Maybe they can tweet CNN to show us that they are still rich and famous?
I hope they celebs are ok…
WOMEN. You bodies are shapes. Not shapeley. Just shapes.
In “Hourglass figure is a thing of the past… we’ve all gone square”, the Sun produces its guide to celebrity womanhood.