Goldmine’s Celebrity Vocals: Attempts at Musical Fame From 1500 Major Stars and Supporting Players

Ron Lofman

Sure, we’ve all gotten a chuckle out of William Shatner’s bloated “Mr. Tambourine Man,” but how about J.R.R. Tolkien singing in “Elvish”? Let’s stretch out a little and really groove… celebrity style! The chuck-wagon vocal screechings of Walter Brennan, James Dean jamming on conga drums, Jim Nabors belting out show tunes and Cole Porter, African revolutionary leader Kwame Nkrumah’s solo LP, Marilyn Chambers’ 7-inch release, Joan Collins in a duet with Bing Crosby, David Hasselhoff crooning “How Deep Is Your Love” (German-only release), Telly Savalas’ three classic LPs, Rodney Allen Rippy disks and so much more. Fifteen hundred “celebrities and other interesting folks” with recordings to their credit are listed, with Rev. Louis Farrakhan’s singing career being notable by its omission. Author Lofman also has the temerity to answer the burning question “Why do they do it?” SS

Publisher: Krause
Paperback: 448 pages

Graven Images

Ronald V. Borst

The owner of the Hollywood Movie Posters shop has put his extensive personal poster collection of classic science fiction and horror movies into a lavish show-stopper of a massive full-color tome. Borst has solicited the likes of Stephen King, Forrest J. Ackerman, Clive Barker, Robert Bloch, and Harlan Ellison to set the stage with essays on the lore and fascination of horror and SF movie posters. Wisely, the collection ends with the 1960s, since the movie-poster-as-art-object sadly seems to have become a distant memory. SS

Publisher: Grove
Hardback: 256 pages

A Heart at Fire’s Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann

Steven C. Smith

Compelling biography of the colossus of soundtrack music: from Citizen Kane to Taxi Driver with The Day the Earth Stood Still, Psycho, Vertigo, and It’s Alive in between. A Heart at Fire’s Center emphasizes how Herrmann, an artistically ambitious romantic in a field originally filled with mediocrities, was able to master the use of music to give cinema its power over the psyche.
In addition to bringing his tempestuous life into focus, the author does a comprehensive score-by-score analysis of each soundtrack including illuminating interviews with directors with whom Herrmann worked with such as Scorsese and DePalma. Ends with a fascinating transcription of a talk by Herrmann analyzing the use of music in drama dating back to ancient Greek theater and discussing the first original film score (The Brothers Karamazov, 1931). SS

Publisher: University of California
Hardback: 415 pages

The Japanese Tattoo

Donald Richie and Ian Buruma

Two of the leading Western authorities on Japanese culture-Japanese film expert Donald Richie, who wrote the text, and Behind the Mask author Ian Buruma, who took the photographs—have collaborated on this scholarly, almost anthropological look at Japanese tattooing. Richie’s text covers the history of Japanese tattooing, its iconography, social significance (are all tattooed Japanese Yakuza?), the influence of woodblock prints, tattooing techniques, and “a frank discussion of its sociosexual implications.” Buruma was able to shoot his photos only after obtaining the trust of the hermetic world of Japanese tattoo artists. SS

Publisher: Weatherhill
Paperback: 120 pages

Kraftwerk: Man, Machine and Music

Pascal Bussy

“Ein, zwei, drei, vier… “ thus begins the saga of Ralf und Florian, whose revolutionary Kling-Klang sound shook the world’s speakers to the ground and whose robotic emanations are still pulsing around the globe from Detroit to Goa. This is as inside a view as we will probably ever get into the construction of the Kraftwerk audio-conceptual mystique. Witness avant-garde music students Ralf and Florian dropping acid before a Stockhausen concert; their first group, Organization, and its improvisational beginnings at German art-scene happenings; Kraftwerk’s relationship to German experimental music explorers Can and Neu!; their hidden conceptual “guru” Emil Schult and his role in crafting their anti-individualist Eurocentric image; the influence of the groundbreaking English art duo Gilbert and George and other conceptual artists; film director Fassbinder’s on-set Kraftwerk obsession; the pair’s love for the minimalist rock of the Stooges and the Ramones; a top-secret summit meeting between Ralf and the reclusive Michael Jackson in New York; and many other elusive glimpses behind the Man-Machine’s hermetically sealed façade.
The story of Kraftwerk also becomes, by necessity, the history of the early years of electronic pop music, or as they describe their sound, “industrial folk music.” Some milestones: their first use of a treated rhythm machine and a vocoder on “Pineapple Symphony”; their first mini-Moog, which cost them the price of a new VW; their first use of a synthesizer—which, surprisingly was not until their fourth album, the global sensation Autobahn. As Ralf Hütter describes their appeal: “The dynamism of the machines, the ‘soul’ of the machines, has always been a part of our music. Trance always belongs to repetition, and everybody is looking for trance in life, etc., in sex, in the emotional, in pleasure, in anything, in parties… So, the machines produce an absolutely perfect trance.” SS

Publisher: SAF
Paperback: 192 pages

Look! Listen! Vibrate! SMILE!

Compiled by Domenic Priore

Look! Listen! Vibrate! SMILE! is a book-length monument to the great lost Beach Boys opus Smile assembled by a brilliant pop archaeologist. Encounter the moment when Brian Wilson was walking the razor’s edge between psychedelicized madness and pop perfection through an obsessive free-associative scrapbook of fan-magazine interviews, photos, record company promo materials and other Beach Boyana surrounding the recording of the ill-fated masterpiece. SS

Publisher: Last Gasp
Paperback: 298 pages

Modern Music

Paul Griffiths

Writing about music is acknowledged to be hard. Writing a general history of atonal and aleatoric avant-garde music this full of passion and excitement would seem to be damn near impossible. This modest volume is a superb introduction to all the “serious” music and composers that have followed Wagner’s sublime Romantic bombastics. From Debussy’s impressionistic exoticism to the pioneering tape collage experiments of musique concrète, from the occult ecstasies of Scriabin to the Zen minimalism of John Cage, from the invention of the Theremin to the academic acceptance of the electronic compositions of Stockhausen, author Paul Griffiths’ contagious enthusiasm for his often-intimidating subject matter sweeps the reader into this 20th-century stream of sound. SS

Publisher: Thames and Hudson
Paperback: 216 pages

Running With the Devil: Power, Gender and Madness in Heavy Metal Music

Robert Walser

The author, a professor of music at Dartmouth College and “professional musician who has played with metal bands,” applies both analytical music theory and academic critical theory to the Spinal Tap realm of Metal. He is actually very insightful in his intellectual take on Metal music and culture, but the ultimately ridiculous nature of his quest makes for an astounding read. Examples abound: “‘Runnin’ with the Devil’ makes its Aeolian basis clear immediately. Over a pulsing pedal E in the bass, guitar chords move from C to a suspended D, then finally resolve to the tonic E. This is the VI-VII-I harmonic progression discussed by Wolf Marshall; its affective character is discursively coded as aggressive and defiant (in part of its difference from the tonal syntactical norms that underlie other popular music).” Rock on! SS

Publisher: Wesleyan University
Paperback: 242 pages

Television Theme Recordings: An Illustrated Discography, 1951-1994

Steve Gelfand

Flipping through this alphabetical guide to TV theme music can be a mind-wrenching experience for the dedicated vinyl wiseguy. Some of the greatest music of the 20th century was recorded to accompany the mass worship of the “eye of hell”—Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn Theme,” Nelson Riddle’s “Route 66,” Neil Diamond’s “I’m A Believer,” The Ventures’ “Hawaii Five-O Theme” and Lalo Schifrin’s “Mission: Impossible Theme,” to name but a few—but what about “Kaptain Kool and the Kongs,” “Makin’ It,” “The New Zoo Revue” and “H.R. Pufnstuf”? Yes, they’re all here too-annotated, price-coded, and waiting for your disposable income. SS

Publisher: Popular Culture Ink
Hardback: 332 pages

Zines! Volume 1

V. Vale

Zines!, edited by V. “formerly co-publisher of RE/Search” Vale, is a collection of interviews with a selection of zine editor/publishers and one zine distributor in the now-familiar Re/Search Q-and-A format. From overeducated thrift shop aficionados and a connoisseur of Ike-era sexual stereotyping to insurgent teen riot grrrls, Zines! profiles some of the quirky personalities behind the xeroxed, self-publishing boom. A high-powered, back-of-the-envelope socioeconomic analysis of the global zine situation (now also a steppingstone to hip, corporate website employment) is provided by Ramsay Kanaan from the anarchist publishing and distribution cooperative AK.
Part of the appeal of a zine is obtaining some very personal insights from people you might never meet (or get up close and personal with anyway) in the usual course of events. While Zines! doesn’t offer the libido-dripping cultural musings of horn-dogger extraordinaire Lisa Carver (Rollerderby) or the turbo-charged venom of Answer Me!’s Jim and Debbie Goad, it does provide some knowing words of wisdom from Ask Gear Queen of Fat Girl—the zine-organ of the dyke “thunder-thighs” sexual-liberation collective of the same name—on ass-wiping for the big-is-beautiful set: “The basic problem is a species design flaw. Arms don’t grow longer as needed. As the depth of your body grows the distance from armpit over belly to asshole increases, and there comes a point where your hand just can’t reach your asshole anymore. But fear not! Depending on the configuration of your body and the arrangement of the toilet area in question, there are all sorts of things you can do… Use something to extend your reach. It can be anything that is long enough, appropriately soft and absorbent, and washable and disposable. I remember women at the NAAFA gathering suggesting the kind of kitchen pot scrubbers with a foam head and hollow handle designed for liquid soap.” SS

Publisher: V/Search
Paperback: 184 pages