Saturday, July 30, 2011

"Love Goes To Buildings on Fire" by Will Hermes

"Love Goes to Buildings On Fire" is not only one of my favorite songs by Talking Heads, but it's also a very warm and fascinating book by Will Hermes.  Focusing on the years 1973 to 1977, in New York City, is a combination social history and a love message to the artists of that era - who really defined NYC as a creative force.  A place that touched greatness from George Maciunas (one of the founders of Fluxus) to Patti Smith to Grandmaster Flash to New York Dolls to Philip Glass to Richard Hell to Suicide to Bruce Springsteen to....and beyond.

The first "other" book one would think of is "Please Kill Me," but this is different because Hermes pulls the camera back to expose all that was happening in NYC in those years.  So here you get a mixture of Salsa, disco, punk, and avant-garde jazz/classical artists.  Great snapshot of a particular time and thank (whoever) there are at least recordings that still exist.   And yeah, this book as well.

Oh and this is a galley, and the book is coming out sometime in November 2011.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

"David Bowie: Starman" by Paul Trynka

Two words, David Bowie. And its two words that i say to myself for the past 40 years or so. I wouldn't say I was obsessive about the man and his work, but for sure a fan. And I don't think he's a genius. I think he is a highly motivated hard worker who had to study his craft to become what he had become. Which, of course, is a great pop star - and an incredible singer. But also a wow gee songwriter. In other words he has the whole package. 
The theater world, the black american music world, the gay world, and of course the pure showbiz of it all that is one thing that separates Bowie from other rock artists - his love and respect for showbiz. He may grown to hate it, but he will never deny its special power over himself and his audience. 
My favorite part of the Bowie story is his young years trying to break into the pop music world. And he tried for at least 12 years before the Ziggy Stardust thing happened. No overnight success story here, but just a lot of hard work and hustling. And speaking of hustling, this bio really shines on the gay British pop music world of the early 60's. Bowie knew who was spreading the butter - and he played up to the expectations of that world. 
There are a lot of good books on Bowie and there will be more. But this is an exceptionally good biography on the man, and one still after reading it, wants to know more. And that is why he's a star.

"The Deep" by Tosh Berman

A little ditty of a tune by yours truly. The main goal was to do something catchy, but with a certain amount of tension. "Tension is important to me and the music I make.  The address is down below.  Please download.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Press Release for Boris Vian's (Vernon Sullivan) "To Hell With The Ugly"

Press Release

To Hell With The Ugly”
Boris Vian (Vernon Sullivan)
978-0-9662346-6-4 $15.95
Boris Vian, 1949 copyright afp

Translated from the French and Introduction by Paul Knobloch
Artwork and interior Illustrations by Jessica Mnckley
Book Design by Tom Recchion

Boris Vian was the leading light of the Post-War years in Paris. 'The Prince of Saint-Germain' knew everyone that was culturally important in those rich years. From Miles Davis to Jean-Paul Sartre to Jean Cocteau to Juliette Gréco.

Besides being one of the great French novelists of the 20th Century, Vian was also a translator of hard-boiled Amercian crime novels (Raymond Chandler among others), songwriter, singer, A&R man at a record company, engineer, playwrite, jazz critic, screenwriter and sometimes actor. And the leading light of the Saint Germain-des-Prés social scene. A man who knew everyone that was interesting, and yet always stood apart from any organized movement.

“To Hell With The Ugly” is a novel Vian wrote under the name Vernon Sullivan, who had a very serious scandal history with his first Sullivan novel “I Spit On Your Graves.” “To Hell With The Ugly” according to its translator Paul Knobloch is 'like a pornographic Hardy Boys novel set on the Island of Dr. Moreau to a be-bop soundtrack.'

The narration is a mixture of Young Adult adventure novel, science fiction, Los Angeles Noir, and sex romp. A group of adventursome teenagers get involved in a case where a mad doctor has an island of nothing but beautiful looking people. Clones whose purpose is to have sex with good looking people to bring more good looking people on this earth. Utopian dream or nightmare? This novel written in 1948 brings up issues that are proment in today's world. Like an early J.G. Ballard, Vian held the pulse of a culture that was about to embrace the future with teptation, fear and wonder.

Here are the critical blurbs:

“Boris Vian was a rascal, a chameleon, and a visionary. In his crime novles –channeling the elusive Vernon Sullivan—he displays America as a Left Bank fever dream, a place where Dashiell Hammett is president of the Academie and Sartre splits philosophical hairs with Frankie Yale. Go there, and you might not return.”
  • Luc Sante

“Imagine being aught in a dream in which you're still you – with all your complex cmotions, thoughts, and tastes- but the only way you can express them is through the language of a noir novel. Also, your ability to direct your own actions has been removed so the noir begins to tell your story for you, almost against your will. The end result? You are simultaneously a hero and a victim of a genre you never intended to inhabit. Such is the amazing effect of Vian's “To Hell With The Ugly, a novel about – among other things – perfection.”

- Jim Krusoe
cover by Tom Recchion

Saturday, July 16, 2011

"Dennis Wilson" by Tosh Berman

My new piece of music dedicated to Dennis Wilson and called "Dennis Wilson."  Its' free.  And its yours.

Monday, July 11, 2011

"The Marinetti Mixture Mix" by Tosh Berman

This is the extended 12 mintute re-mix of my "Do The Marinetti."  What I had in mind was a soundtrack to a sexual orgy - or the start of one.  A lot of my ideas are cinematic or has a loose narrative.  But then again as a listener, you can add your own aesthetic or thoughts with the song.  

Download the song for free here:

Sunday, July 10, 2011

"The Strangest Dance" by Tosh Berman

Here's a recent piece i composed. "The Strangest Dance" is really a picture of a beautiful woman in a short skirt dancing by herself in front of her bedroom mirror. The gentleman, fully clothed and laying in bed, is drinking brandy watching her. So I wrote this soundtrack to this visual image. Of course, you can make up your own images, etc. Do enjoy, Tosh

Here's the link:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"The Record Players: DJ REVOLUTIONARIES by Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton

Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton's previous book "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life" is probably one of the best music orientated books ever. The mighty two here goes into the culture of the DJ with all its subtitles and layers of what that means. "Last Night..." deals with the history of someone playing a recording for someone else - and therefore many sub-cultures were invented for this purpose. I think what was remarkable about this book is that I had very little interest in DJ Music. But then I read the history..... Oh man its interesting. And totally open to anyone who likes to read about pop culture history. Excellent book. 
And now we have their "The Record Players" and it too is fascinating, but it is a weaker book due that we don't have the dynamic narrative to go with it. Yet, who gives a shit. This is an essential group of interviews with important and very top DJ's. Everything from late 50's British DJ's to Techno and beyond. What is conveyed in this book is the love of the recording and its music. A lot of the key people are interviewed such as John Peel, Tom Moulton, Jimmy Savile (yes even him!), Frankie Knuckles, Afrika Bambaaataa, Francois Kevorkian, and so on. So yeah get "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life" first, but then go to this one. One can smell the DJ Booth off the page.