WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . .

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WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . WENDY O. WILLIAMS: Baby you can trash my car

13 Jul 2015  |  5 min read

The spirit and essence of rock'n'roll is impossible to define. For some it was encapsulated by Little Richards' visceral scream and shout of “Awoobopaloobop Alopbamboom”. For others it might be more like, “Make a fucking racket, show us your tits and blow up a car”. If you are of the latter persuasion then New York's Plasmatics – fronted by Wendy... > Read more

Dream Lover

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . GEOFF LOVE: Man of international mysteries

8 Jun 2015  |  3 min read  |  1

Britain's Geoff Love has no place in the catalogue of the mad, bad, dangerous and disturbed. He was just so utterly normal. And that's why he joins our collection of odd characters in music under this banner We Need to Talk About . . . He was almost abnormally normal, and enormously prolific.  Composer, arranger, band leader and producer Love – that's his real name,... > Read more

Somewhere My Love/Lara's Theme from Dr Zhivago

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . STRINGBEAN: Long lean banjo picker

20 Apr 2015  |  3 min read

If Truman Capote hadn't already written his brilliant “non-fiction novel” In Cold Blood (about the collision of two murderers and their victims in rural Kansas in '59), and he was still sober enough to focus, he might have found a great story in the 1973 murder of country music star Stringbean, David Akerman to his parents. Stringbean was one of those idiosyncratic stars... > Read more

Stringbean and His Banjo

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . TEX WITHERS: Country'n'Western from the East End

6 Apr 2015  |  4 min read  |  1

The more you try to find out about Tex Withers, the more confusing it can become. One thing everyone agrees on however is that this country music singer in London – who insisted he had been born in the States – was a very recognisable character: He was a hunchback who stood no higher than 4'6” (137cm) and always wore classic Western attire. In later life he... > Read more

Crazy Arms

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . SPADE COOLEY: Shame on him

16 Mar 2015  |  4 min read

When country singer Spade Cooley went face down after a heart attack in November 1969 there were doubtless a few would have said he deserved to die, and that it should have happened sooner. The were ironies aplenty also: Cooley – born Donnell Clyde Cooley in Oklahoma in 1910 – was attending a benefit concert for sheriff's deputies where he played, having been released on... > Read more

You'll Rue The Day

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . FRANK ROSOLINO: The night the lights went out

20 Feb 2015  |  3 min read

He doesn't really deserve to be in the same company as the misfits, oddballs, eccentrics and the certifiably crazy-psychotic musicians in this on-going series We Need to Talk About . . . But the wonderfully expressive jazz trombonist Frank Rosolino is here because, in the early hours of November 26 1978, he did something so unexpected and unthinkable it shook the world, and most... > Read more

Twilight

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . KORLA PANDIT: The Man from the Mystic East

2 Feb 2015  |  2 min read  |  1

The exotic looking Korla Pandit – who died in 1998 aged about 77 – had a fascinating background: He was born in India to a traveling French opera singer and a Brahmin priest and eventually ended up in Los Angeles in the mid Forties after spending time in Europe and Britain. His music was just as interesting as his somewhat mysterious life. He played the organ but... > Read more

Procession of the Grand Moghul

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . DARONDO: The soul man who went AWOL

10 Nov 2014  |  4 min read

To hear William Daron Pullman tell how he got his non-de-disque at the dawn of the Seventies gives an insight into both his smarts, and how he could just as equally be seduced by the money-image thing. Although he'd been a San Franciscan musician since the mid Sixties (when as someone barely out of his teens he was known as Junior), he'd put aside the guitar and revealed himself an astute... > Read more

King's Man

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . LAIBACH: The politics of noise

12 Jun 2014  |  2 min read  |  1

Out of the old Yugoslavia in the early Eighties they came, their industrial sound grinding like tank tracks across the earwaves of Europe, their look unacceptably miltaristic, their irony bludgeoning all before them into submission. Laibach - who took the name from the German version of their hometown Ljubljana -- were a four-piece band like no other. They brandished slogans and wore... > Read more

Dear Friends

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . PETE BURNS: What's on the a-gender?

21 Apr 2014  |  3 min read

A lifetime and career trajectory from beautiful young New Wave pop-boy star to a very alarming botoxed older woman is not what most people would chart for themselves. But welcome to the world of the always androgynous Pete Burns who came to attention in the Eighties as the lead singer of Dead or Alive out of Wirral, across the Mersey from central Liverpool, and went on to become a media... > Read more

Sex Drive (Glam Driving Mix)

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . HP LOVECRAFT: High, here and gone.

31 Jan 2014  |  4 min read  |  1

Now, I'm neither ashamed nor proud of this, but some while back – decades ago – I enjoyed perpetrating pranks and hoaxes, especially postal pranks. Of the latter I would, for example, anonymously send increasingly large blocks of wood to a friend in some far flung place inviting him to join my “Plank of the Month Club”. Or I would send off elaborate... > Read more

The White Ship

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . LIBBY HOLMAN: Sex, scandal, shooting and suicide

23 Jan 2014  |  3 min read  |  1

When they found singer Libby Holman dead in her Rolls Royce of carbon monoxide poisoning in 1971, her suicide brought an end to a life marked by scandal, sexual promiscuity, one dead husband and a murder trial, overt bisexuality, the death of a son, depression . . . and some pretty steamy blues songs, although among her repertoire was the uncharacteristically domestic Cooking Breakfast for the... > Read more

Why Was I Born?

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . VERNON DALHART: Are you ready for the country?

9 Sep 2013  |  4 min read

While it's not uncommon to hear people speak of some kind of "parallel universe" where another and different version of ourselves might exist, few would actually believe it exists. But every now and again someone comes along who . . . The child, born in northeast Texas on a cattle ranch in 1883, had the perfect name for a country singer who had been brought up tough in a... > Read more

The Wreck of the Old 97

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . STRAWBERRY WALRUS: Let me take you down . . . and down

5 Aug 2013  |  2 min read  |  8

The jury will be out on "the worst album ever" until the judge directs it on exactly how we define the word "worst". For many "worst" would immediately be something by an anodyne boy band, some middle-of-the-road crooner or a cult hero like non-singer/non-player Jandek. But here goes nothing with a guy called Gary Murtha from Mississippi who writes under... > Read more

When John Met Yoko

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . KLAUS NOMI: Twinkle twinkle little star . . .

1 Jul 2013  |  3 min read  |  1

There have been some remarkable voices who have landed in rock culture -- that strange world where people like Tom Waits, Antony Hegarty (of Antony and the Johnsons), Yoko Ono and other people clearly not "rock" end up in the same magazines as Aerosmith, U2 and Lady Gaga. One of the strangest voices -- and most visually engaging images -- belonged to Klaus Nomi who began his... > Read more

Valentine's Day

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . G.G. ALLIN: Pottymouth not potty-trained

3 Jun 2013  |  2 min read  |  1

We might as well get it out of the way quickly: G.G. Allin was a shit-eater. He also threw his excrement -- poos and wees -- at his audiences, punched people in the crowd and told Jerry Springer's television show he would rape women on stage but that was okay because women at his performances should expect that so couldn't be surprised. He took as many drugs and as much booze as he could... > Read more

I Live to be Hated

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . YOKO ONO: The noises from within

11 Apr 2013  |  6 min read  |  1

Yoko is a concept by which we measure our pain -- New York graffiti, 1970. A voice that comes once in a lifetime; unfortunately it came in ours -- Critic Jim Mullen, 1992 Yoko Ono was always an easy target. Conceptual artists who mount exhibitions of chess sets where all the pieces are white, or write books which consist of ambiguously and unintentionally... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . LEON THEREMIN: The sound of sci-fi and nightmares

11 Mar 2013  |  3 min read  |  1

You gotta hand it to inventor Leon Theremin, no one else had thought of a stringless cello. And if that sounds a bit Dada or like an installation at a Yoko Ono art exhibition, be assured. It was the real thing. Theremin invented an electronic stringless cello for the British conductor Leopold Stokowski. He also developed an early form of television which his homeland, Russia,... > Read more

The Swan

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . WILD MAN FISCHER: Psycho street singer and shouter

11 Feb 2013  |  2 min read  |  2

Given Frank Zappa's proclivity towards oddball performers and different musicians -- Captain Beefheart, the GTOs, the Shaggs -- it's hardly surprising he should be the one who brought Wild Man Fischer into the vocabulary of outsider musicians. And Fischer was very outside. In '68 Zappa recorded a double album of Fischer's singing and rants as An Evening with Wild Man Fischer, the title... > Read more

Monkeys Vs Donkeys

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . ABNER JAY: Play dem bones and skulls

28 Jan 2013  |  2 min read

There is an interesting photo of singer and one-man band Abner Jay in the late Seventies playing at what is described as a folk festival. As he pours his all into whatever song has captured him, by his side is a young girl playing the bones. That is, she has what looks like the skull of a horse or cow strung around her neck and she is playing it with what appears to be a femur. The... > Read more

My Testimony (1963)