The Unsound Validation of Joni Mitchell’s Blackface Pimp Persona

Joni Mitchell As Art Nouveau: Male Blackface Pimp Joni Mitchell: media doll, marketable name, innovative artist. She was a huge figure in her day, lauded for being one of the first successful female folk singers and the first big-time female singer inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame. While all of these achievements are admirable, there are some overlooked instances of full-on bigotry that seriously deaden the glow of her career, and rightly so. In an interview with Angela Lagreca in 1976, Joni Mitchell explained the inspiration for her just-publicized blackface male pimp persona, Art Nouveau. I was […]

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All Out Kraut: Amon Düül II HiJack Conventional Rock

Amon Düül II was by far the most politically charged, radical, and musically variable krautrock group. It’s no wonder considering they formed out of the political and musical commune Amon Düül during the student movement of the 1960s – hugely infamous for their political activism. When the musically proficient members wanted to focus on music rather than politics, they left the commune and Amon Düül II was born. There was also Amon Düül O, a short lived musical experiment that owes a lot to free jazz, especially Ornette Coleman. Both Amon Düül and Amon Düül II disbanded in the early […]

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Felt & Lawrence: Down But Not Yet Out

Felt are loved or hated – there is no middle ground, no gray area of indifference. Fronted by the eternally enigmatic Lawrence, and Martin Duffy (later of Primal Scream) they occupy a strange realm somewhere between early indie pop and clichéd adolescent mood music. Lawrence (whose surname remains a mystery some 30 odd years since his first appearance in the musical world.) formed Felt in 1979, when he was just 16 years old. Felt would continue to release 10 singles and 10 albums over 10 years – disbanding soon after. This sequence of 10 gives them the aura of an art project as […]

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David Sylvian: Beautiful Woman, Beautiful Man

David Sylvian made for a beautiful woman. The frontman of the new romantic and glam powerhouse that was Japan completely redefined what it meant to be androgynous. He was the ideal synthesis of discord and equivalency – beautiful when playing up his feminine features, beautiful when embracing his masculinity. The makeup, the long blonde hair, and his clothes were nothing without his voice – rich, sonorous, and entirely unexpected. Sylvian was a fucking anomaly.     I’m always disappointed that Japan never had much of a presence in the 70s and early 80s. Their debut album Adolescent Sex (’78) was fun, […]

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Sparks Require Your Immediate Attention

Since the late 60s the Mael brothers have been releasing music together under the label of Sparks. They played the LA club scene in the early 70s, weren’t very popular, toured England, and were huge in Europe. Pioneers of glam rock , pop, power pop, and electronic dance, they are constantly reinventing themselves. Well into retirement age, they have not slowed down. They are known for their quirky approach to their lyrics and music, both of which are provided by Ron, and sung by Russel in an incredible falsetto. Their work explores the absurdity in rock, pop, and popular culture. […]

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