Friday, July 25, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains

Following on from last week's post about Streets of Fire here's a post about the other Diane Lane movie in which she plays a musician. Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains is a 1982 movie directed by Lou Adler, about three teenage girls who start a punk band. Diane Lane plays Corinne, Marin Kanter plays her younger sister Tracy, and Laura Dern plays their cousin Jessica. Dern successfully sued for emancipation from her mother Diane Ladd in order to play the role.

The Stains: Tracy (Marin Kanter), Corinne (Diane Lane) and Jessica (Laura Dern)

Prior to producing and directing feature films Lou Adler had worked as a music producer. He managed Jan & Dean and produced Sam Cooke, The Mamas & the Papas, Barry McGuire, Scott McKenzie, Spirit and Carole King among others. In fact he was the producer of King's Tapestry LP. 

In 1975, Adler produced the cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show and, in 1981, its follow-up, Shock Treatment. In 1978, he directed the movie Up In Smoke, starring Cheech & Chong. Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains came next in 1982.

Corinne Burns (Diane Lane) plays a a frustrated teenager living in a nowhere town until she catches a gig by punk band The Looters and metal hair band The Metal Corpses. Bewitched by the whole punk scene, she and her band, The Stains, are invited to join the tour, and in no time at all become media magnets. The band forms a rabid following of young girls, while Corrine begins a relationship with Looters singer Billy (Ray Winstone).


Alongside Ray Winstone the other members of The Looters are played by Steve Jones and Paul Cook from The Sex Pistols and The Clash's Paul Simonon. Fee Waybill and Vince Welnick from The Tubes play the singer and guitarist of The Metal Corpses. 

The movie's a real lost classic and well worth tracking down. My own introduction to the movie came via the Portland, Oregon band Yacht. Back in 2009 the band released a 7'' on Marriage Records featuring covers of two Stains tracks Waste of Time and Professionals. Their brilliant version of Waste of Time is below.

Caroline Coon was the Designer and Production Consultant on the movie and her brilliant designs can be seen here

Songs to Learn and Sing - Episode 515

Songs To Learn And Sing
103.2 Dublin City FM
Thursdays @ Midnight

Last night's show featured music from Cold Pumas, Conor Oberst, Dawes, Biblio. We also played a few classics from Dead Moon and Cocteau Twins as well as feturing three tracks from Elastica's 1995 debut. We also played two from Andrew Bird's Handsome Family covers album and finished up with the title track from Gallon Drunk's latest LP. Enjoy!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Walter Hill's Streets of Fire

On the last episode of Songs to Learn and Sing I played two tracks from the soundtrack to Walter Hill's 1984 movie Streets of Fire. I've been listening to the rest of the album and I have to say that the record holds up far better then the movie. Don't get me wrong - I love the movie - but the soundtrtack is fantastic.

Walter Hill described the movie as "comic book in orientation, mock epic in structure, movie heroic in acting style, operatic in visual style,  and cowboy cliche in dialogue. In short a rock 'n' roll fable where the Leader of the Pack steals the Queen of the Hop and Soldier Boy comes home to do something about it."

The heroine is the singer Ellen Aim (Diane Lane), the villain is a biker-gang boss (Willem Dafoe), and the hero is a lone urban cowboy and Army veteran (Michael Paré). Ellen's band are The Attackers and the two songs that they perform in the movie were written by Jim Steinman. Lane's vocals were sung by Steinman collaborator Holly Sherwood. In typical Steinman fashion thery're both over-the-top Wagnerian mini rock operas.

The soundtrack also features two tracks from The Blasters (who appear in the movie performing them), longtime Hill collaborator Ry Cooder also contributes a song and wrote the score. One of the biggest radio hits of the 80s is also on the OST - Dan Hartman's I Can Dream About You. Overall it's a cheesy, overblown record - what's not to like.

Streets of Fire was the second time that Diane Lane had played a singer but more on that in another post.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Songs to Learn and Sing - Episode 514

Songs To Learn And Sing
103.2 Dublin City FM
Thursdays @ Midnight

Last night's show started with two tracks from Walter Hill's 1984 "Rock & Roll fable" Streets of Fire. A silly comic book movie with a brilliant soundtrack. This episode also features a few tracks from Green On Red, Popsicle, The Chills, the Pretenders, Hefner and new music from Comet Gain, Fink and A Winged Victory for the Sullen.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Fatima Mansions - Ticket Stubs and Setlist

I recently scanned some old flyers and ticket stubs for the Sir Henry's Exhibition that is currently taking place in UCC's Boole Libary in Cork. The Henry's related stuff was passed onto the Exhibition but I'll post some of the other old stuff here on the blog. First up its a few ticket stubs from the early 90s from The Fatima Mansions. They were an amazing live band.

The Fatima Mansions - DeLacy House, 31 May 1991

This was the first time that I saw the band live, I can clearly remember Cathal Couglan wearing a Ministry t-shirt on stage and the band also played an amazing version of Stigmata, which appeared on the Hive EP.

Cathal Coughlan and Andrias O'Gruama of The Fatima Mansions - Photo by Piers Allardyce, from a Melody Maker review of a 04 June 1991 gig at the Limelight in Belfast, a few days after the DeLacy House gig. It's a brilliant photo - Keep Music Evil indeed!

The Fatima Mansions - Sir Henry's, 19 March 1993

This was on the Valhalla Avenue tour, support on the night was the brilliant Nine Wassies From Bainne.

Setlist from Sir Henry's gig in 1993

The Fatima Mansions  - Tivoli, 23 September 1994

The Tivoli gig was part of the band's tour in support of Lost in the Former West, support on the night was once more the Nine Wassies From Bainne.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Songs to Learn and Sing - Episode 513

Songs To Learn And Sing
103.2 Dublin City FM
Thursdays @ Midnight

This episode starts with Einsturzende Neubauten's Blume from their brilliant 1993 album Tabula Rasa, it features new music from St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Astronauts, Fink and Atom and some older classics from Modern English, Killing Joke and A.R. Kane. I also play three from Life Without Buildings classic 2001 album Any Other City. The record was reissued for this year's Record Store Day and is without doubt one of the best records of the 2000s. In the second hour you'll hear Stectrum's gorgeous version of Daniel Johnston's True Love Will Find You In The End and we close with XTC's The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul, from the recently released Corrected Polarity version of 1986's Todd Rundgren produced Skylarking.

Friday, July 04, 2014

David Ackles - American Gothic

Exactly 42 years ago today, Elektra Records released American Gothic the third album by singer-songwriter David Ackles. American Gothic was produced by Bernie Taupin, Elton John's long-term collaborator, and conducted by Robert Kirby, best known for his work on Nick Drake's Five Leaves Left and Bryter Layter.  Pictured below is my own copy of the album that I managed to find for €5 on a recent dig.

 David Ackles - American Gothic (Elektra Records, 1972)

The sleeve is in very good condition with only minor edgewear and the vinyl is in excellent condition, I was really surprised that this copy still had the original lyric sheet and on closer inspection I discovered that this was in fact a white label Elektra Radio Promo copy.  

American Gothic takes its name from the famous 1930 Grant Wood painting of a farmer standing beside his daughter infront of their farmhouse. The farmer holding the pitchfork represents hard labour and the farmer's daughter dressed in a colonial print apron suggests domesticity. Ackles parodied the painting on the back of the album's sleeve with his wife Janice. 

American Gothic by Grant Wood (1930, oil on beaverboard)

American Gothic is a quintessential American record, steeped in American imagery but it was recorded in London, on the back sleeve Ackles explains: "It is now two years since the last album... I've been living in England for part of that time in a house in the country with apple trees and swans and a river running past the back porch. It seems like you get a sharper perspective on your own country when you're away from it, so the time has been a great help in a lot of ways. This album is a result of distance and peace and a lot of patience and kindness from a lot of friends." 

In the liner notes of the 2000 reissue of the album Bernie Taupin told Richie Unterberger: "Why go to England to record an album so steeped in American imagery? He always said to me that in order to get a perspective of your own country, you have to leave it. I believe that's very true. He certainly encompassed it in that record."

Press Advert for American Gothic

Elektra gave Ackles a big budget for the record and indeed the pre-release of American Gothic was hyped by the label as can be seen in the above print advert. The connection with Bernie Taupin came after Ackles had co-headlined with Elton John at The Troubadour in LA in 1970. The record didn't perform as expected and it would be the last he recorded for the label. Ackles would record one more album, Five & Dime for CBS Records in 1973. Ackles died in 1999. 

American Gothic is definitely worth checking out, for me it's up there with Lou Christie's Paint America Love in the lost classics pile. Brian Mathieson's description of Ackles in his obituary for The Independent sums it up perfectly: "The title track of American Gothic said in four minutes what it took David Lynch a complete television series to describe. He then went on to produce a series of vignettes that summed up life in his home country in the late 20th century."     

Elektra White Label Promo - Radio Station Copy

Further Reading: Ptolemaic Terrascope has an interview with Ackles from 1998 here.