Saturday, July 03, 2010

"A Little Respect" by Erasure

At this time, in the space of days that separate Canada Day from Independence Day, it is the mandate of the Pop Culture Institute to encourage men of all nations to come together in brotherly love - and not just in a gay porn way, either, although it scarcely needs to be said we're totally cool with however you choose to do it - so long as you'd be so good as to send us a video file of your raunchier efforts.

A Little Respect earned itself and its performers - Vince Clarke and Andy Bell of Erasure - considerable respect; the band's tenth single, the song was actually the third European (and second American) release from the band's 1988 album The Innocents, which was itself their third studio recording. It's shown here in a live version from the Prince's Trust concert in 1989.

Whereas I once found this track's synth-driven opening sterile and lacking in the atmosphere I normally look for in pop music, over the years I have come to give it a lot of respect; in 1990 I attended a concert by Erasure in Vancouver's Pacific Coliseum as a reviewer for the now-defunct publication Angles, and the fact that they nearly brought down that gloomy old concrete monstrosity with their high energy live show and particularly spirited rendition of this very song did much to encourage my appreciation of it - an appreciation which now borders on reverence.
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Happy Birthday Vince Clarke

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWhat straight man has given more to gay music than Vince Clarke?

As part of Depeche Mode, Yazoo, and finally Erasure, Vince Clarke is responsible for much of the world's cardio; my Body Mass Index* and I will be forever grateful to you, sir.

(True Story: When I once asked for this haircut - way back in those halcyon days of circa 1984 - my mother almost died. Alas, she lived, and I never got the haircut. Now I haven't got enough hair to complete this look, but if I ever do get hair plugs it'll be so that I can, and this time the old bag can just suffer...)**

*Or at least the Body Mass Index I had when I was 20...

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"Dawn's Highway" by Jim Morrison

Indians scattered on dawn's highway bleeding
Ghosts crowd the young child's fragile eggshell mind.
Me and my -ah- mother and father - and a
grandmother and a grandfather - were driving through
the desert, at dawn, and a truck load of Indian
workers had either hit another car, or just - I don't
know what happened - but there were Indians scattered
all over the highway, bleeding to death.
So the car pulls up and stops. That was the first time
I tasted fear. I musta' been about four - like a child is
like a flower, his head is just floating in the
breeze, man.
The reaction I get now thinking about it, looking
back - is that the souls of the ghosts of those dead
Indians...maybe one or two of 'em...were just
running around freaking out, and just leaped into my
soul. And they're still in there.
Indians scattered on dawn's highway bleeding
Ghosts crowd the young child's fragile eggshell mind.
Blood in the streets in the town of New Haven
Blood stains the roofs and the palm trees of Venice
Blood in my love in the terrible summer
Bloody red sun of Phantastic L.A.
Blood screams her brain as they chop off her fingers
Blood will be born in the birth if a nation
Blood is the rose of mysterious union
Blood on the rise, it's following me.
Indian, Indian what did you die for?
Indian says, nothing at all.
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"Touch Me" by The Doors

Released in July 1969, The Doors' fourth studio album The Soft Parade represented a change in tone and style for the ever-inventive band; replete with brass and string arrangements, it was also one of their most productive albums, yielding a total of four singles despite the controversy the album caused amongst fans and critics.

One of those singles was Touch Me - released in December 1968 in advance of the album, with the track Wild Child on its b-side; it would become the band's third #1 in the US, and also top the charts in Canada as well as graze the Top Ten in Australia, although it never even charted in the UK. Following the innovations of The Soft Parade, The Doors returned to a more pared-down sound for their next two albums - Morrison Hotel and L.A. Woman.

Here - on the anniversary of the 1971 death of Jim Morrison - is a little of his magic captured on film...
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Pop History Moment: The Death of Jim Morrison

On this day in 1971 Jim Morrison - formerly lead singer of The Doors and at his peak the sexiest man who has ever lived - was found dead in Paris, a bloated ruin at the age of 27...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWhether Morrison was or is a visionary artist or a drunken buffoon is and always will be irrelevant, since he was obviously both of these and more. How else to explain the cult that has since sprung up around his personality? Oliver Stone's 1991 film The Doors (as much as Val Kilmer's electrifying performance of him) are, despite their individual inaccuracies, the ultimate two-handed reacharound by a pair of Hollywood veterans at the top of their respective games; all that rubbing burnishes and buffs Morrison's best feature* to a very high gloss indeed.

For everyone of us who loves and admires a goody two shoes, there are a hundred of us who find arrogant douchebags more irresistibly charming by far, especially if they have cheekbones you can cling to and a bottom lip seemingly made of chewing gum. Oh, and that floppy hair... Hair as lustrous and touchable as the rest of him.

Waitaminnit... What were we talking about again?

Oh yeah! Blah blah blah on this day in 1971 Jim Morrison was found dead under suspicious circumstances** by longtime girlfriend Pamela Courson, but the French authorities ruled that since there was no evidence of foul play no autopsy would be performed. Morrison was later laid to rest in Paris' landmark Père Lachaise Cemetery, where his celebrity has persisted well after his death, as in life making things difficult for his neighbours owing to the constant presence about his once-mouldering person of vast crowds of over-emotional females with a frightening penchant for mob mentality.

Still, weep not for our fallen idol; as they say, 'like attracts like', and in his heyday no one got more cunt than Jim Morrison. Famous***, infamous, or wannabe - they all fell before the might of the Lizard King... Hell, he still gets more tail dead nearly forty years than most men get alive in their lifetime, mainly because he wrote poetry; let's face it, Jim Morrison may not have become a rock star for applause, but he surely became a poet for pussy. The fact that all he would have needed to get it was to look the way he did is neither here nor there.

His was the ultimate 'good life well-lived', which unfortunately made it one of the harder ones to survive, and so for maximum entertainment value was best executed by a celebrity; what, I find myself wondering as I ponder his legacy, would he have done differently had he known beforehand how it was going to turn out?

*Often referred to by the feeble euphemism 'charisma', by which one actually means 'cock'.
**In a bathtub, in France...  Most mysterious: what the bathtub was.
Nico, Grace Slick, and allegedly Janis Joplin!

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POPnews - July 3rd

[We at the Pop Culture Institute make no bones about the threat to humanity posed by the internal combustion engine - in fact, we'll witter on about it ad nauseum to anyone fool enough to listen; we do accept, though, that what we consider to be the greatest invention of all time - namely photography - may have enemies of its own.]

324 CE - At the Battle of Adrianople - during one of the Roman Empire's occasional civil wars - Constantine I defeated Licinius, who then fled to Byzantium.

987 CE - Hugh Capet was crowned King of France, thereby establishing the Capetian Dynasty, which ruled that country until the French Revolution swept it from power in 1792.

1608 - Québec City was founded by Samuel de Champlain.

1754 - During the French and Indian War, George Washington surrendered Fort Necessity to the French - an incident most famous today for having been referenced on The Simpsons in the classic episode Bart Gets an F.

1767 - Adresseavisen, Norway's oldest extant newspaper, published its first issue.

1778 - During the American Revolution Loyalist British forces led by Colonel John Butler killed 360 American Patriot men, women, and children in 45 minutes, then burned their village to the ground, in the Wyoming Valley Massacre; Butler was aided in his task by Seneca warriors Sayenqueraghta and Cornplanter of the Iroquois Confederacy.

1844 - The last pair of Great Auks were killed on the Icelandic island of Geirfuglasker by Jón Brandsson and Sigurður Ísleifsson.

1863 - The final day of the Battle of Gettysburg culminated with Pickett's Charge.

1866 - The Austro-Prussian War was decided at the Battle of Königgratz, resulting in Prussia taking over as the prominent German nation from Austria.

1886 - Karl Benz officially unveiled the Benz Patent Motorwagen – the first purpose-built automobile.

1890 - Idaho became the 43rd US state.

1898 - During the Spanish-American War the Spanish fleet, led by Pascual Cervera y Topete and moored at the Cuban port of Santiago, was destroyed by the US Navy.

1913 - Confederate veterans at the Great Reunion of 1913 reenacted Pickett's Charge; upon reaching the high-water mark of the Confederacy they were met by the outstretched hands of friendship from Union survivors.

1938 - The world speed record for a steam railway locomotive was set in England, by the Mallard, which reached a speed of 126 mph (203 km/h).

1940 - The French fleet of the Atlantic based at Mers el Kébir was bombarded by the British fleet, coming from Gibraltar, causing the loss of three battleships: Dunkerque, Provence and Bretagne. 1,200 sailors died in the raid.

1962 - The Algerian War of Independence against colonial rule ended with the proclamation of Algeria as an independent state by French president Charles De Gaulle; two days later the fledgling nation's Provisional Executive re-made the declaration - on the 132nd anniversary of the invasion of Algeria - which is the day still celebrated there as the country's real Independence Day.

1988 - Istanbul's Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge was completed, providing a second connection between the continents of Europe and Asia over the Bosphorus, the first being the Bosphorus Bridge, opened in October 1973.

1996 - The Stone of Scone was returned to Scotland from its opulent captivity within St. Edward's Chair, which itself sits at the heart of the most sacred precincts of Westminster Abbey; it currently resides in the very different (although entirely equal, as per EC regulations) splendour of Edinburgh Castle.

2004 - Bangkok's subway system was officially opened.
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