Tuesday, 17 September 2013

11 September 2013 Dr Sketchy Set List

/ Cult movie actress / burlesk artist / convicted felon / naive outsider painter / gangster's moll ... the fabulous Liz Renay (1926 - 2007) /

For this Dr Sketchy, Frankie Von Flirter and Violet Strangelove performed and modeled, and the cadaverously elegant Dusty Limits injected a bit of Weimar Republic decadence into proceedings as emcee.

As usual, when the Royal Vauxhall Tavern was dark, candle-lit and gradually filling-up I cast a pagan and taboo spell with some ethereal Mondo Tiki tropical lounge music (the operatic ululations of Peruvian high priestess Yma Sumac, Les Baxter, Martin Denny), gradually cranking up the tempo (and lowering the tone) with bump-and-grind titty shakers and greasy rhythm and blues.  

At Dr Sketchy I also aim for a touch of Continental sophistication, and love to drop in some foreign language exotica. On this night the musical globe-trotting encompassed Japanese (Eartha Kitt’s ultra-kitsch Japanese language version of Rosemary Clooney’s "Come-On-A My House" from her essential 1965 Eartha Kitt in Person at The Plaza live album; a Little Richard cover by the Japanese Elvis, Masaaki Hirao) and even more French chansons than usual, via Brigitte Bardot, Anouk Aimee, Juliette Greco and gravel-voiced German diva Hildegard Knef crooning en francais.

Elsewhere, I also amused myself by weaving in some conceptual / thematic musical connections. For example, I paid tribute to two of my favourite filmmakers: John Waters (by playing a track each by two of his wonderful character actress stalwarts Edith Massey and Mink Stole) and David Lynch (a song from his ghostly angel-voiced chanteuse Julee Cruise; Milt Bruckner’s sleazy instrumental “The Beast” featured in Lynch’s 2001 film Mulholland Drive).  Later on I offered a musical valentine to the divine Jayne Mansfield (my patron saint) by playing “I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield” by Japanese girl band The 5,6,7,8s followed by “That Makes It!” by Mansfield herself (she coos this song in the 1966 B-movie The Las Vegas Hillbillys).

/ "Oooh baby that makes it!" I've almost certainly posted this clip from The Las Vegas Hillbillys already but hell - it's a rancid classick! /

/ The regal Queen Mutha of Rock'n'Roll Little Richard in the 1960s /

I also worked in a topical honour to the perennially fierce Bronze Liberace Little Richard (the king and queen of rock’n’roll) by playing Masaaki Hirao’s Japanese language interpretation of “Lucille” (it rocks!) followed by perhaps the Georgia Peach’s own definitive statement, “The Girl Can’t Help It.” As you've probably already heard, Little Richard announced his retirement last week and reportedly intends to spend his remaining days praying and designing clothes. I revere Little Richard as one of rock’s true pioneering wild men (and someone who injected an unapologetic queer sensibility into rock’s DNA). But when I saw him headline at the 2013 Viva Las Vegas rockabilly weekender (you can read my account here) it was a mesmerising but messy and bittersweet car crash of a concert. 80-year old Little Richard (wheelchair-bound and visibly and audibly ailing) was clearly a performer in decline. For me, this announcement is therefore a relief. His legacy is certainly secure. Let’s hope Little Richard is able to enjoy a serene and well-deserved retirement. 

/ Masaaki Hirao: The face of Japanese Rockabilly /

Back to Masaaki Hirao: I recently acquired an Ace compilation CD of his material called Nippon Rock’n’Roll: The Birth of Japanese Rokabirii 1958 – 1960, containing what the liner notes accurately describe as “raw late 50s live and studio rockers from Japan’s answer to Elvis.” Backed by his crack band All Stars Wagon, Hirao certainly tears through desperate and genuinely tough cover versions of rock’n’roll standards like “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”, “Jailhouse Rock”, “Little Darling” and “Jenny Jenny” with verve, style and conviction (usually with the verses in Japanese and the choruses in English), while on heartbreak ballads his teen idol voice soars and throbs sweetly. I live for shit like this! The liner notes give a concise and fascinating social history of the rise and rise of the rockabilly (or rokabirii as it's called in Japanese) subculture in late 1950s Japan.  (I've learned some useful phrases: for example, rokabirii buumu means “rockabilly boom”; rokabirii zoku means “rockabilly tribe”). The Japanese variation of rockabilly was inevitably distinctive due to both social and musical factors, shaped by its own unique challenges. How, for example, to rebel in a tradition-steeped, conformist culture with a great emphasis on respecting your elders? In terms of roots, Japan obviously had no black American Rhythm & Blues tradition to draw on – but it did have jazz, and a surprising amount of Country and Western bands clad in cowboy garb that had formed to entertain American GIs during the post-WWII occupation, ready to be pressed into action as rock’n’roll combos once popular tastes changed. Wanda Jackson’s “Fujiyama Mama” had been a surprise Japanese hit in 1957 (surely Japanese audiences would have found that song tasteless?); American juvenile delinquent films like Blackboard Jungle and Rebel without a Cause caused a sensation amongst the teen-aged Japanese rokabirii zoku – all paving the way for Masaaki Hirao’s emergence as the face of Japanese rokabirii (and a very pretty face at that). Anyway, I can’t recommend the CD highly enough. Read more about it and listen to some snatches of it on the Ace website. 

Further reading: An attendee of this Dr Sketchy posted this lovely blog about the night. Check it out - it incorporates some great photos of Frankie Von Flirter and a scantily-clad Violet Strangelove (Minnie Mouse has never looked kinkier!). For regular injections of NSFW kitsch, homoerotica and vintage sleaze, follow me on tumblr

Jungle Madness - Martin Denny
Tuma (Earthquake) - Yma Sumac
Misirlou - Martin Denny
Monkey Bird - The Revels
Lust - Les Baxter with Bas Sheva
Kizmiaz - The Cramps
Mamma's Place - Bing Day
Egg Man - Edith Massey
Sometimes I Wish I Had a Gun - Mink Stole
Drive-In - The Jaguars
One Monkey Don't Stop No Show - Big Maybelle
Little Queenie - The Bill Black Combo
Where's My Money? Willie Jones
Night Walk - The Swingers
Eight Ball - The Hustlers
I Can't Sleep - Tini Williams and The Skyliners
Wiped Out - The Escorts
I Love the Life I Live - Esquerita
Treat Me Right - Mae West
Night Scene - The Rumblers
Mambo Baby - Ruth Brown
She Wants to Mambo - Johnny Thunders and Patti Palladin
Bombora - The Original Surfaris
You're Driving Me Crazy - Dorothy Berry
Here Comes the Bug - The Rumblers
Little Miss Understood - Connie Stevens
Je Me Donne a Qui Me Plait - Brigitte Bardot
Accentuate the Positive - The Bill Black Combo
Come-On-A My House - Eartha Kitt (in Japanese)
La Java Partout - Juliette Greco
La fille de Hambourg - Hildegard Knef
Hand Clapping Time - The Fabulous Raiders
I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield - The 5,6,7,8s
That Makes It - Jayne Mansfield
Welfare Cheese - Emanuel Laskey
Tina's Dilemma - Ike and Tina Turner
Boss - The Rumblers
No Good Lover - Mickey and Sylvia
Lola - Anouk Aimee
Lazy - The Nuns
You're My Thrill (instrumental) - Chet Baker
Up in Flames - Julee Cruise
The Beast - Milt Buckner
Bachelor in Paradise - Ann-Margret
Angel Face - Billy Fury
Whistle Bait - Larry Collins
Lucille - Masaaki Hirao
The Girl Can't Help It - Little Richard
Dragon Walk - The Noble Men
Jim Dandy - Sara Lee and The Spades
Cooler Weather (Is A-Comin') - Eddie Weldon
The Big Bounce - Shirley Caddell

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