When I saw Them Crooked Vultures at their first show at the Metro, nobody knew what to think of “Interlude with Ludes”, with John Paul Jones coaxing a cheesy tune from a keytar and Josh Homme vamping around the stage like a campy seductress, but it at least showed Homme’s supreme self-confidence and disregard for a stodgy, hypermasculine stomp-rock image, for what people expect him to be. The same will probably go for Julian Casablancas on Conan, where instead of standing behind a mic stand and rolling his eyes, he dances around like a bizarro Tom Jones. My thoughts cycled from “I can’t believe he’s doing that” to “I can’t believe he’s making it look cool”, from “is that actually cool?” to “who cares?”. The performance is more fun for it. It’s not like he could sing this song and not dance.
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—Raymond Chandler, “The Simple Art of Murder”
In attempting to distinguish the hard boiled detective story from the kind of “parlor” detection of traditional British detective fiction, Raymond Chandler suggested that a distinct difference emerges in the interests of these two subgenres of mystery. The latter “classic” form is concerned with solving a formal problem. Hard boiled or American crime fiction is more concerned with setting a tone and resolving mysteries through movement, intrigue, cross-purposes, and the elucidation of character. What this difference boils down to in practice is that detectives like Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, and Hercule Poirot become logicians that draw conclusions based on careful studies of evidence and formal problem solving all while sipping tea in the parlor. Detectives like Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade don’t so much investigate by reasoning out solutions as much as they get their hands dirty by wading into the muck of the world that a crime takes place in in order to see what might shake out.
The British detective is brilliant, insightful, and driven by logic. The American detective is persistent.
This song is brand new, taped from the audience with surprisingly good fidelity at the NBC Experience Store.
Question: What happens when you put members of the Stooges and the MC5—two of the rawest, most powerful bands of their day—in a band together? You end up with the five minutes of sustained awesomeness that is “City Slang”.
Sonic’s Rendezvous Band featured drummer Scott Asheton and guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith from the aforementioned Detroit protopunk groups. After those ensembles imploded in the early 1970s, Smith assembled the band and cut “City Slang”. Due to internal band tension, the planned b-side “Electrophonic Tonic” was pulled prior to the single’s 1978 release. But in a maneuver of sheer ballsy simplicity, the group remedied the situation by simply placing “City Slang” on both sides of vinyl, in mono and stereo version.
Now, any rock song of that breaches the five-minute mark (much less one that appears on both sides of a vinyl single) needs to have either an interesting composition, a hypnotic quality, or tons of charisma to keep listeners engaged. Sonic’s Rendezvous Band opted for the latter, delivering a powerful rocker with lurching grooves and a stuttering vocal hook. There’s a killer bass breakdown in the middle, and a great ending where the band just rides out chord progression as Smith’s guitar delivers pummeling eighth-note rhythms. The group even works in a piano into its assault. To think, this was the only material released while the band was still active. In a time when punk was insisting that rock had to be short, fast, and loud, Sonic’s Rendezvous Band demonstrated to the new kids that two out of three could be even better.
Underground filmmaking goes episodic! 664: Neighbor of the Beast is a guerrilla web series in its second season. Rife with unabashedly campy humor melded with a dab of the macabre, each webisode crams a surprising amount of character and plot development into its ten-minute (or less) installments.
The brainchild of director/producer George O’Connor, 664 was conceived as a contest entry to create a television pilot. O’Connor enlisted local, amateur filmmakers and pals, Gary Greenbaum and Alex Kaloostian, to help. Their entry didn’t win the contest, but the fleshed-out (albeit low-budget) concept of a suburbanite family that moves next door to a surprisingly congenial Satanic Majesty proved so popular, they decided to turn it into a web series. O’Connor’s wife, Tracy, along with fellow lead actors Arthur Laurie and Tony DeMauro pull double-duty as part of the show’s writing team, as well. For an amateur production squad of just six people, 664 manages to be highly entertaining on a shoestring budget. 664: Neighbor of the Beast can be seen on YouTube or on the Lazy Horde Productions website.