Tag Archives: American music

RIP Ric ‘Car’ Ocasek (1944 – 2019)

Ric Ocasek was an American musician famous for his work with The Cars.

I have no connection with the man, nor with his music, it’s just too much bombast for me. However, my database shows that one of their songs was featured in a film I liked in the 1990s.

The song is “Moving in Stereo” and the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982).

De mortuis nil nisi bonum, but … the problem with this kind of music is, in the words of music critic Bill Flanagan:

“Bit by bit the last traces of Punk were drained from New Wave, as New Wave went from meaning Talking Heads to meaning the Cars to Squeeze to Duran Duran to, finally, Wham!”.

Just What I Needed” (1978)

Anyway, to end on a good note, their song “Just What I Needed” (1978) is in the The Pitchfork 500.

RIP Daniel “songs of pain” Johnston (1961 – 2019)

“Urge” from Songs of Pain (1981).

Daniel Johnston was an American singer-songwriter regarded as a significant figure in outsiderlo-fi, and alternative music scenes.

Johnston’s cult status was propelled when Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain wore a T-shirt at the 1992 MTV music awards that featured artwork from Johnston’s 1983 album Hi, How Are You, a T-shirt that music journalist Everett True had given him. Cobain listed Yip/Jump Music as one of his favorite albums in his journal in 1993.

Much of Daniel Johnston’s music has focused on the subject of unrequited love, revolving around his own experiences with Laurie Johnson, an early obsession. Notably is “Urge” (above) on 1981’s Songs of Pain.

His work is collected on Songs in the Key of Z (2000), a collection of outsider music.

RIP RAMM:ΣLL:ZΣΣ (late 1960 – 2010)

RAMM:ΣLL:ZΣΣ was an American artist.

Somehow I missed this death. The passing of Pedro Bell brought it to my attention.

I want to show you three things:

RAMMΣLLZΣΣ: It’s Not Who But What (2018), a 9-minute documentary on RAMM:ΣLL:ZΣΣ in which the art of Ramm is described as Transformers meets a mad scientist.
Beat Bop” (1983), an early hip hop recording in which Ramm raps.
Style Wars, a documentary on early hip hop and graffiti which features “Beat Bop” (above).


RIP Pedro “P-Funk” Bell (1950 – 2019)

Pedro Bell was an American artist and illustrator best-known for his work for Parliament-Funkadelic.

When I discovered Parliament-Funkadelic in the 1990s, part of the attraction was the visual style and the grand narrative holding the whole project together. This style was just as much due to George Clinton as to Pedro Bell.

Bell’s unique album and liner notes contributed substantially to the P-Funk mythology and begot the Afrofuturist aesthetic evident also in Jean-Michel Basquiat (see for example the sleeve design for “Beat Bop“).

His precursors in Afrofuturism are Lee “send him to outa space” Perry and Sun “space is the place” Ra.

Unidentified cartoon film by Pedro Bell featuring devices such as a “word scrambler,” a barrel of “fun sludge,” and a drug called “Jodybuster”.
One Nation Under a Groove” (1978), artwork by Pedro Bell

“Bell is a shackle (all shackles are just as essential) in the chain of Afrofuturism, Afro-Surrealism and black science fiction.” –Sholem Stein

A seminal text in his poetic oeuvre is from the sleeve notes of Standing on the Verge of Getting It On (1974):

“AS IT IS WRTTEN HENCEFORTH… On the Eighth Day, the Cosmic Strumpet of Mother Nature was spawned to envelope this Third Planet in FUNKADELICAL VIBRATIONS. And she birthed Apostles RaHendrixStone, and CLINTON to preserve all funkiness of man unto eternity… But! Fraudulent forces of obnoxious JIVATION grew…only seedling GEORGE remained! As it came to be, he did indeed begat FUNKADELIC to restore Order Within the Universe. And nourished from the pamgrierian mammaristic melonpaps of Mother Nature, the followers of FUNKADELIA multiplied incessantly!”

Pedro will be missed.

RIP Nancy Holloway (1932 – 2019)

Nancy Holloway was an American singer and actress, a minor star who reached her zenith in the 1960s.

She covered American songs translated to French, sung with an American accent.

She had a bit part in pop art film Jeu de massacre (1967).

“T’en vas pas comme ça” (1963) an adaptation of “Don’t Make Me Over” released a year earlier.

Her song “Sand and Rain” (1974) is on the ‘Dusty Fingers volume 10’ and was sampled on “Your Revolution” (2000)

Sand and Rain” (1974)

RIP Dr. John (1941 – 2019)

Dr. John was an American singer-songwriter best-known for his single “Right Place, Wrong Time” (1973).

There are two songs from his debut album Gris-Gris (1968) on YouTube, “Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya” and “I Walk on Guilded Splinters”, both have very nice percussion breaks.

Of note is the likeness of “Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya” to the work of Tom Waits (think Swordfishtrombones, 1983), esp. the aforementioned percussion breaks.

Dr. John is one of these figures one could study for a week, there are so many connections. Below is him reading “Berenice” by Edgar Allan Poe.

Trivia: the beginning of “Right Place, Wrong Time” sounds like the beginning of “Spirit in the Sky” (1969) and the whole of “Right Place, Wrong Time” is very much reminiscent of a seventies groovy soul song with a chorus of “your love, your love” with something added like “is unforgettable” or “is extraordinary”, the title of which escapes me.

RIP Roky Erickson (1947 – 2019)

Roky Erickson was an American singer-songwriter, lead singer of the garage punk band The 13th Floor Elevators.

You’re Gonna Miss Me

He is best-known for his song “You’re Gonna Miss Me” (1966) which was featured on the compilation Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965–1968 (1972).

From his later period, this very charming “Goodbye Sweet Dreams” from the biographical movie ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’.

SHOW MORE



RIP Scott Walker (1943 – 2019)

Scott Walker was an American-born British singer-songwriter, composer and record producer.

First active with the band The Walker Brothers, Walker evolved from sappy and catchy recordings with an edge of sadness (“Make It Easy on Yourself“, 1965; and “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)“, 1966) to more experimental work (Nite Flights, 1978).

He would continue this course of experimentation in his solo work, culminating with albums such as The Drift which was as scary as it was gentle, luckily not at the same time.

RIP Andre Williams (1936 – 2019)

Andre Williams was an American musician best known for the hit records “Jail Bait,” “Greasy Chicken,” “Bacon Fat” (1956) and “Cadillac Jack” (1966).

He was also the co-author of the R&B hit “Shake a Tail Feather”.

Surprisingly, his track “Bacon Fat” can also be found on the DJ Mix album How to Kill the DJ Part 2 (2004).