Nick Cave – a tall, wiry, spike-haired figure who has been prowling the stage with all the agitation of a condemned man about to make his final walk to the hangman’s noose – has bassist Tracy Pew in a headlock. The wriggling supplier of the low-end rumble could easily be a reject from The Village People; a moustache rests on his top lip, the cowboy hat on his head struggles to remain in place during the ensuing tussle while his black fishnet t-shirt barely conceals the underfed torso beneath.
This week, the Quietus are publishing our list of favourite tracks of the year, and, without giving away too much, it may not come as a huge surprise to reveal that The Fat White Family’s ‘I Am Mark E Smith’ makes an appearance there. And now, to coincide with its release, backed with ‘I Am Joseph Stalin’, on their Without Consent label today, they’ve unveiled the track’s video – avail yourself of that above, and then go and see them early next year on their tour of the UK.
Ian Johnston sits down with James Ellroy, veteran and pioneer of contemporary crime fiction, non-fiction and the blurring of those lines — the Demon Dog of American literature — to talk about the glossed-over injustice of Japanese-American internment in World War II, expanding Los Angeles across an entire world and his new novel, Perfidia.
Sixty-six-year-old author James Ellroy, the self-proclaimed “Demon Dog” of American literature, casts an imposing physical presence within a small office at his London publishing house. Tall, fit, well built, sporting a smart-casual jeans and checked shirt look, with a grey moustache and a severely shaved head, the six-foot-four historical novelist/crime writer possesses a penetrating gaze, only exacerbated by his oval glasses.
In 2010, Patti Smith won a National Book Award for her memoir Just Kids, making her, by my count, the only Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member to land that prize. Of course, she’s also the only person I can think of who has appeared in both a movie by Jean-Luc Godard (Film Socialisme) and an episode of Law and Order. And she’s definitely the only rocker out there who has a personal invite from the Pope to play at the Vatican.
Johnny Cash on The Ed Sullivan Show 1959- Photo: Getty images
Johnny Cash, outlaw country singer and defiant man in black, comes carefully packaged for many people through the merchandising of his life and image. From t-shirts to posters, documentaries to award-winning biopics, we know about his ornery prison concerts, drug use and arrests, noble championing of the disenfranchised, and dramatic story of pain and redemption. We marveled at the mystique around the aged Cash in his late-life revival. But many of us know little about another side of the man—Johnny Cash, genial TV personality.
For me, Bettie Page & Bunny Yeager epitomize iconic American pinup photography. Not just of the 1950s… Ever. Bettie Page had been working with Irving Klaw in NYC when in 1954 she decided she need a break and came to Miami to relax and have some fun in the sun. That’s when fate struck, and Bettie met Bunny, and the rest is pinup history. Bettie Page never looked better than in the capable hands of Bunny Yeager (herself a former model) who arguably shot the best and most famous images of the black-banged beauty– like the epic Jungle Girl shoot (shot at the Africa USA safari Park in Boca Raton), and the game-changing image of Bettie posing nude in a Santa cap for Playboy magazine in 1955.
David Lynch gets sound like few other directors. There’s an unforgettable scene in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me where Laura Palmer leads her best friend Donna Hayward into what looks like a den of iniquity for lumberjacks. It’s filled with burly men and cheap women grinding to music blaring from the speakers. Lynch lets the music roll right over top the dialogue. It was a shocking choice back in 1992 but it was the right one. The banter was intentionally banal and obscure. The grotesque faces, the ominous crimson lighting and, most of all, that utterly hypnotic music are all you need to tell the story, creating a mood of dread and decadence. The scene is a stunning fusion of image, sound and editing in an otherwise flawed work.