Exposed: Songs for Unseen Andy Warhol Films curated by Dean Wareham

A few more details are emerging about the event that popped up here a few weeks back…

So far the following dates have been confirmed (hopefully more to follow)

Created in celebration of The Andy Warhol Museum’s 20th anniversary, this multimedia performance event comprises 15 never-before-seen films captured by Andy Warhol between 1963 and 1968 on his original 16mm Bolex camera. Five songwriter-composers, reflecting the generational trajectory, musical lineage, and influence of New York-based artists from the post-Velvet Underground 70s through the present day perform original 22 scores to these rare Warhol selections—a combination of portraits and actualités featuring such superstars and luminaries as John Giorno, Marcel Duchamp, Mario Montez, Jim Rosenquist, Billy Kluver, Marisol, Taylor Mead, Mary Woronov, Edie Sedgwick, and Andy Warhol.

Five songwriter-composers who reflect the generational trajectory and musical influence of post-Velvet Underground 70s to today — Guest Music Curator Dean Wareham (Galaxie 500, Luna), Tom Verlaine (Television), Martin Rev (Suicide), Eleanor Friedberger (the Fiery Furnaces), and Bradford Cox (Deerhunter)—perform live original scores to these unseen celluloid gems from one of America’s most iconic art-makers.

This work was commissioned by The Warhol Museum, The Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 2014 Next Wave Festival and Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA.

In 2008 the Warhol Museum commissioned Dean & Britta to produce music for 13 Warhol Screen Tests, 13 Most Beautiful has toured the world in the six years since then.

Dean & Britta's "13 Most Beautiful"
Dean & Britta performing 13 Most Beautiful in Melbourne in 2009

Pitchfork has a small item on the shows.

Happy 25th birthday to Galaxie 500’s ‘On Fire’ – come ride the fiery breeze

Galaxie 500 – On FIre, available on LP CD MC

Today[1] is the 25th anniversary of the release of Galaxie 500’s masterpiece 2nd album On Fire.

THEN there was The Great Chicago Fire. I was there. The stories of how the fire began were wildly contradictory, but I was there. Some people say the fire was started by a stampede of cows. Some say it was just one cow. Some tried to blame it all on someone they didn’t like. One fella tried to blame it all on his own brother, just because his brother had stolen away his girlfriend and married her. The wedding took place in Las Vegas. It was a modest affair of about 150 guests, non-denominational (which really pissed off the parents of the bride, but hell, you can’t please everybody). During the ceremony, some rotten little punks yelled “Fire! Fire!” and the whole place cleared out in no time. The maid of honor even broke her ankle in two places after being shoved down the altar by the always overly zealous justice of the peace. Well, the ankle was pretty back and the maid of honor had to be shot, and exactly one week later the entire block burned to the ground. Even the bricks burned.

But at least nobody tried to blame it on a cow. And the wedding went ahead as planned.

And some people actually believe that Nero fiddled as Rome burned, and that he really did look like a badly aging Peter Lorre. On Sunday nights we’d all gather ’round the television set to watch the Disney show, and I would always fall asleep from boredom. But I had a big old Siamese cat named Butch who’d always loved to play with my face moments after my head hit the pillow. So I’d awake startled, sometimes, crying, sometimes covered with blood and crying, staring into the idiot box. Sometimes I’d see Walt himself, sometimes Mickey or Goofy. But sometime I’d see a thousand bright blue caribou racing a dust storm to the finish line, neck and neck all the way like nature’s own Indy 500! Flesh and blood against the elements! And I remember wondering to myself, “Why are they racing?” THEN one fine day I understood why the race took place. It was because the hairs on those caribou necks were being tickled by the instinctual knowledge of a fire raging not too far away, and most certainly headed this way. Humans often get the same feeling…like an oddly warm breeze malevolently fueled by the maddening flames behind it. Come ride the fiery breeze of GALAXIE 500!
-Kramer, NYC, July 1989

Galaxie 500 - On Fire

If a Pyrrhic victory means triumph won at such cost you may as well have lost, then Galaxie 500’s music is the exact opposite: a statement of defeat that resounds like a glorious triumph
-Simon Reynolds – Melody Maker 28th October 1989

Here are some quotes lifted from the thoroughly brilliant “Temperature’s Rising: Galaxie 500 an oral and visual history” by Mike McGonigal…

We made that record so easily! I’m not even sure there were any second takes. It’s one of the easiest records I ever made.
-Kramer

Making On Fire was a very happy experience. I think we were at a point where we were accomplished enough musicians that we were able to play what we had in our head. There was a generally optimistic feeling about the direction of the band and we were getting attention from the critics. It was a lot of fun and the possibilities seemed endless, something that I feel I was very lucky to experience. A very joyful, youthful moment.
-Naomi Yang

On Fire - Galaxie 500 cassette

On Fire inhabits an awesome, distorted reality. The band, ostensibly a trio of guitar, bass and drums, sound more like a sun carriage. Damon Krukowski’s cymbals and Dean Wareham’s falsetto become lead instruments. Naomi Yang doesn’t so much play as paint with her bass. These abstract tones and spots of primary colour are the sound of three people locked somewhere in a beautiful space, the midpoint between telepathy and propulsion. From the languorous opening bars of ‘Blue Thunder’ to the euphoric closing refrain of “What a pity, what a pity” the record moves back and forward allowing waves of electricity to swell and break across its ten tracks. Few songs have been more appropriately titled than ‘Snowstorm’ and few bands have been in such graceful control of a maelstrom. Has anyone played a wah-wah with such equine grace as Dean Wareham? Each note in the solo crystallizing the reverie of a snowflake hitting the ground.
-Richard King – sleeve notes to the 2010 Domino reissue

Snowstorm lyrics
Snowstorm lyrics
Why today?
I haven’t figured out exactly when Galaxie 500’s On Fire was released but I think 23rd of October is the most likely date – I came up with it becuase…

  • Simon Reynolds review of the album was in the 28th October edition of Melody Maker
  • MM always came out the Wednesday before the date on the cover which would have been 25th October
  • Records in the UK were released on the Monday and you’d want the record to be in the shops when folk opened their MM on Wednesday – so On Fire must have been released on the 23rd October

A US press release dating from August 1989 when Galaxie 500 signed to Rough Trade, suggests the album would be released on 20th October, but as that’s a Friday I’ll dismiss it.

Records in the US are apparently released on a Tuesday – so US release date was possibly the 24th October… so we can party tomorrow as well!

Feel free to correct me if you think I’m wrong.

Photos: Dean & Britta playing Unseen Warhol in Pittsburgh

Some photos of last weekend’s premiere of Unseen Warhol have been posted on Flickr by stupid blue

Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films
Dean & Britta perform while Antoine and Nico eat bananas

Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films
Dean & Britta, and Susan Bottomly with a whip
Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films
Dean & Britta play while Gerard Malanga kisses Mary Woronov’s boot of shiny, shiny leather
Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films
Britta playing behind Eleanor Friedberger (and in front of Edie Sedgewick)

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a review of the show:

You know what you’re going to get from Dean & Britta (Phillips) and it’s always good and Velvety. He put his psych guitar tone on surfy rocker “Paraphernalia” (Susan Bottomly dancing with a whip) and “Where Did Everyone Go?” to accompany Nico eating a banana (seductively, of course) with Antoine in front of the iconic Warhol/VU banana logo. The couple went a few shades darker for the black-and-white “Kiss the Boot,” which had poet/filmmaker Gerard Malanga lying submissively at the feet of Warhol superstar Mary Woronov.

The show, which also features Martin Rev (Suicide) and Tom Verlaine plays at Royce Hall, Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, Los Angeles on Friday (24th October) and then BAM in NYC from the 6th to the 8th of November.

Originals: Femme Fatale by The Velvet Underground (covered by Damon and Naomi)

Betty Amann in de film Asphalt
Another one that slipped through the net (and another one that I missed in the Fs – I was obviously a bit careless back then).

Femme Fatale was written by Lou Reed when Andy Warhol asked him to write a song about Edie Sedgewick. The song was sung by Nico and was on their 1967 LP The Velvet Underground & Nico LP (and on the b-side of a Sunday Morning 7″).

Here’s Nico with Cale and Reed performing it in 1972

Damon and Naomi recorded the track with Ghost (at Ghosts suggestion) in the sessions for their album Damon & Naomi with Ghost however the track never got released until the 2012 reissue of the album when it appeared on a bonus 7″ single with some copies (the other side of the 7″ also got missed in this series – that’s coming next week!).

You can still buy copies of the LP with the 7″ single from Damon & Naomi’s shop.

I actually don’t have this track digitally so you’ll have to imagine how great it is… and it is at least that!

Originals: You Turned My Head Around by Ann-Margret (covered by Dean and Britta)

1966 ... Ann Margret as paintbrush!
You Turned My Head Around was written by Lee Hazelwood and first released by singer and actress Ann-Margret on a single on LHI Records in 1968. It also got released (as You Turn My Head Around) on the re-issue of the Lee Hazlewood/Ann-Margret CD The Cowboy and The Lady in 2000.

Dean & Britta’s cover was on their 2007 album Back Numbers and was called You Turned My Head Around, it was accompanied by this lovely video, where it’s called You Turn My Head Around.

The inconsistent naming was beginning to bother me… so much so that I wrote a blog post moaning about it… Dean then emailed me to clear things up (a little)…

My original 7″ single calls the song “You Turned My Head Around”, which is how it is registered with the songwriting society also, so that’s what I went with for our CD.

But on the Lee Hazlewood CD “The Cowboy and the Lady” (the song was not on the original vinyl release of that album, but was added as a bonus to the CD) it is listed as “You Turn”.

Watch Naomi Yang’s film ‘Fortune’ online, plus upcoming Brooklyn screening

Naomi Yang’s film ‘Fortune’ is now available to stream on Vimeo. The 30 minute film features a soundtrack of new Damon & Naomi songs accompanying the mysterious and dreamlike images of a man encountering the legacy of his recently deceased father.

Fortune from Naomi Yang on Vimeo.

The film is also getting a screening, with a live accompaniment from Damon and Naomi, at The Body Actualized Center, 143 Troutman St, Brooklyn, New York on 14th October.