Sunday, 26 March 2017

Lobotomy Room at Fontaine's DJ Set List from 24 February 2017

From the Facebook event page:

“It’s just what you need when you’re down in the dumps / One half hillbilly and one half punk …”

It’s back! The first Lobotomy Room of 2017!

Revel in sleaze, voodoo and rock’n’roll - when incredibly strange dance party Lobotomy Room returns to the Polynesian-style basement Bamboo Lounge of Dalston’s premiere Art Deco vice den Fontaine’s! Friday 24 February! 

Lobotomy Room! Where sin lives! A punkabilly booze party! Sensual and depraved! A spectacle of decadence! Bad Music for Bad People! A Mondo Trasho evening of Beat, Beat Beatsville Beatnik Rock’n’Roll! Rockabilly Psychosis! Wailing Rhythm and Blues! Twisted Tittyshakers! Punk! White Trash Rockers! Kitsch! Exotica! Curiosities and other weird shit! Think John Waters soundtracks, or Songs the Cramps Taught Us, hosted by Graham Russell (of Dr Sketchy and Cockabilly notoriety). Expect desperate stabs from the jukebox jungle! Savage rhythms to make you writhe and rock! Now with vintage erotica projected on the big screen all night for your adult viewing pleasure! Come for the special offer cocktails - stay for the putrid music and dirty movies!

Admission: gratuit - that’s French for FREE!

Lobotomy Room: Faster. Further. Filthier.

It’s sleazy. It’s grubby. It’s trashy - you’ll love it!

A tawdry good time guaranteed!

/ No sin too great ... no lust too degrading ... at Lobotomy Room! /

Good lord! I’d better post this unblushing revoltingly candid scene report / exposé about last month’s Lobotomy Room because soon it will be time for this month’s! (The March instalment of Lobotomy Room at Fontaine’s is Friday 31 March. Read the full squalid details here).

February’s incredibly strange dance party was a bit different because the Polynesian-style basement Bamboo Lounge was booked for a private party, so Lobotomy Room had to re-locate upstairs to the main bar. That meant I couldn’t project my usual flickering, grainy black-and-white vintage erotica on the big screen, but it worked out OK. We just had to work a bit harder to generate our own ambience of sleaze instead!

This Lobotomy Room was also noteworthy because it represented the “hen party” of my friend Rachael, who’s getting married in the beginning of April. (North American readers: you would call it a bachelorette party). The bridezilla (sorry, bride-to-be) looked radiant in a vintage dress. 

For once, I have some photo documentation from the night.

/  Christopher and Pal /

/ Stylish ginger trio /

/ Rachael and I /

/ Rachael and I /

/ Rachael and I. Rachael is seemingly channelling Divine as Babs Johnson in Pink Flamingos? This is a rare shot that gives you an indication of Fontaine's beautiful Art Deco-style decor (note the golden palm tree) /

/ Yorkshire's finest: Rachael and Christopher /

Anyway, here's what I played:

Handclappin' Time - The Fabulous Raiders
Little Queenie - Bill Black's Combo
Fujiyama Mama - Annisteen Allen
Treat Me Right - Mae West
Intoxica - The Revels
Fever - Edith Massey
Three Cool Chicks - The 5,6,7,8s
I'm Blue - The Ikettes
Mau Mau - The Fabulous Wailers
Monkey Bird - The Revels
Wimoweh - Yma Sumac
Kismiaz - The Cramps
Beauty is Only Skin Deep - Robert Mitchum
Dona Wanna - Wanda Jackson
Go Calypso - Mamie Van Doren
Blockade - The Rumblers
How Much Love Can One Heart Hold? Joe Perkins and The Rookies
The Flirt - Shirley and Lee
She Wants to Mambo - Johnny Thunders and Patti Palladin
I Was Born to Cry - Dion
Little Darlin' - Masaaki Hirao
I've Told Every Little Star - Linda Scott
I Wanna Be Sedated - The Ramonetures
Fools Rush In - Ricky Nelson
Devil in Disguise - Elvis Presley
Be Bop A Lula - Alan Vega
My Baby Does the Hanky Panky - Rita Chao and The Quests
Saber de gostaria - Wanderlea
You Sure Know How to Hurt Someone - Ann-Margret
Shout - Johnny Hallyday
Woman - Peggy Lee
Treat Me Right - Mae West [played in error!]
Boss - The Rumblers
What Do You Think I Am? Ike and Tina Turner
Tornado - Dale Hawkins
I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield - The 5,6,7,8s
That Makes It - Jayne Mansfield
Wildwood - Sil Austin
Big Bounce - Shirley Caddell
Woo-Hoo - The Rock-A-Teens
Let's Go Baby - Billy Eldridge
Savin' My Love - Wanda Jackson
Wild Wild Party - Charlie Feathers
Hillbilly Surfer - Whitey White
Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad - Tammy Wynette
The Swag - Link Wray
Lucille - Masaaki Hirao
Jim Dandy - Laverne Baker
Wiped-Out - The Escorts
Your Phone's off the Hook - The Ramonetures
Breathless - X
Rock Around the Clock - The Sex Pistols
Heartbreak Hotel - Buddy Love
You're Driving Me Crazy - Dorothy Berry
He's the One - Ike and Tina Turner
Whistle Bait - Larry Collins
Action Packed - Ronnie Dee
Jim Dandy - Sara Lee and The Spades
Somethin' Else - Sid Vicious
Viva Las Vegas - Nina Hagen
Atomic Bongos  - Lydia Lunch
Jukebox Baby - Alan Vega
Batman Theme - Link Wray
Shortnin' Bread - The Readymen
Muleskinner Blues - The Fendermen
Surfin' Bird - The Trashmen
Margaya - The Fender Four
Wipe-Out - The Surfaris
Surf Rat - The Rumblers
Suey - Jayne Mansfield
Pass the Hatchet - Roger and The Gypsies
Chicken Grabber - The Nite Hawks
Vesuvius - The Revels
Dance with Me Henry - Ann-Margret
Here Comes the Bug - The Rumblers
Bikini Girls with Machine Guns - The Cramps
C'mon Everybody - Sid Vicious
Johnny Hit and Run Pauline - The Ramonetures
Year 1 - X
Teenage Lobotomy - The Ramones
Lightening's Girl - Nancy Sinatra
Vampira - The Misfits
Salamander - Mamie Van Doren
Touch the Leather - Fat White Family
Harley Davidson - Brigitte Bardot
Viens danser le twist - Johnny Hallyday
Peter Gunn Locomotion - The Delmonas
Peter Gunn Twist - The Jesters
Khrushchev Twist - Melvin Gayle
Twist Talk - Jack Hammer
Twistin' the Night Away - Divine
Ultra Twist - The Cramps
Sweetie Pie - Eddie Cochran
Hoy Hoy - The Collins Kids
Bossa Nova Baby - Elvis Presley
Beat Girl - Adam Faith
Jim Dandy - Ann-Margret
Roll with Me Henry - Etta James
I Love the Life I Live - Esquerita
Goodbye So Long - Ike and Tina Turner
Rock-A-Bop - Sparkle Moore
These Boots are Made for Walkin' - Mrs Mills
Big Girls Don't Cry - Edith Massey

Further reading:

Read about all the previous antics at Lobotomy Rooms to date hereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehere , hereherehere, hereherehere, herehere, here and here.

Follow me on tumblr for all your kitsch, camp, retro vintage sleaze and fifties homoerotica needs!

Follow me on twitter!

"Like" and follow the official Lobotomy Room page on Facebook if you dare!

Scrawl the date in blood! The next Lobotomy Room punkabilly booze party at Fontaine's is Friday 31 March 2017! Details here. 

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Reflections on ... Sentimental Eartha (1970)

A few days ago, I scored the obscure oddity Sentimental Eartha (1970), widely regarded as sultry atomic-era chanteuse Eartha Kitt’s strangest album. In her case that’s really saying something: Eartha Kitt (1927 - 2008) was a strange woman who made strange records. The CD version released on an independent label in the nineties is long out of print and now ultra-pricey. On Amazon it routinely goes for between £75 - £400.  Miraculously, I nabbed a used copy for only about £3 from Germany!

By 1970 Kitt was still in-demand on the glitzy cabaret circuit but the hits had well and truly dried up. Sentimental Eartha showcases the slinky feline temptress’conscious effort to update and reinvent her image and sound “with it” by embracing modern rock trends. Many of the other post-war pop and jazz divas of Kitt’s vintage were also experimenting with a more contemporary “groovy” direction. Around this time, Peggy Lee re-interpreted songs by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding and Sly & The Family Stone. On Julie London’s unintended camp classic Yummy, Yummy, Yummy (1969) she applied her breathless sex kitten coo to “Louie Louie” and “Light My Fire” by The Doors as if they were Cole Porter standards. A few years later saw Miracles (1972), on which Peruvian high priestess of exotica Yma Sumac explored trippy fuzzed-out acid rock. 

Sentimental Eartha bombed upon release and is pretty much forgotten today. It deserved a kinder fate. As her biographer John L Williams would later assert, “The innocuous title gives little indication that this would turn out to be far and away Eartha’s most experimental album and one of her best.”

Sentimental Eartha’s cover features Kitt lounging in a woodland setting amidst autumn leaves clad in an animal-print maxi-dress, floppy black hat and the long straight wiglet familiar from her stint as Catwoman on TV's Batman. On the psychedelia-tinged music within, Kitt gamely tries on the unfamiliar roles of hippie maiden, soul sister and earth mother by tackling Herman’s Hermits “My Sentimental Friend” and three songs by singer-songwriter Donovan: “Wear Your Love Like Heaven”, “Catch the Wind” and best of all, “Hurdy-Gurdy Man”, on which Kitt cackles like a witch and suggests a sorceress casting a spell.

On some of the more delicate songs Kitt seems to deliberately and audibly mute some of her signature purring mannerisms. On others (like the ultra-dramatic opener “It Is Love”), she roars in full feline attack. And when “The Way You Are” ends with campy ad-libbed comedy Spanglish, it could only be Miss Eartha Kitt.

In his 2013 biography America’s Mistress: The Life and Times of Eartha Kitt, John L Williams interviewed the producer of Sentimental Eartha, Denny Diante.  (The album was recorded in Los Angeles for a British label). The producer recalled Kitt as enthusiastic: “She was thrilled to death; she couldn’t thank me enough for pushing the more contemporary stuff. She was very contemporary herself, very progressive in her thinking.”

Kitt promoted her new material with a German TV special. It was obviously produced on a shoestring budget. Check out that frugal set (decorated with office furniture? Hotel lobby furniture? What’s the deal with the coat stand? And why during “Sentimental Friend” does it repeatedly cut away to photos of spaghetti western actor Franco Nero?). But durable pro Eartha belts out the songs with style, sex appeal and conviction. And while the band may look square in their tuxedos, they’re tight, dramatic and swing hard. 

Thankfully there are plentiful clips from Kitt's 1970 TV special on YouTube. I've tried to assemble them all here:

/ Above: "Hurdy Gurdy Man" and "Catch the Wind" /

/ Above: "It Is Love", "My Sentimental Friend" and "The Way You Are". The dramatic spoken intros are something else! Kitt also seems to be doing some intense Method Acting with her performances. Check out her smouldering eye contact during "The Way You Are" and the way she moodily smokes and sips champagne  /

/ Above: "Genesis". Eartha at full-throttle tigress assault mode. Like Nina Simone, the volatile Kitt was the mistress of abrupt mood swings /

/ "Once We Loved": fierce! /

/ "Wear Your Love Like Heaven": Eartha Goes Psychedelic, Baby  /

/ "I remember what you said about me. You said I was a very beautiful brown Helen of Troy ..." An epic performance of that world-weary anthem "When the World Was Young" - which also featured in the Marlene Dietrich songbook /

/ One of the few nods to the old days: "C'est Si Bon", one of Kitt's first and biggest hits in the fifties /

As Williams argues, the TV special’s high-point is Kitt’s impassioned performance of the ballad “Paint Me Black Angels” (a Mexican song she’d already recorded in the fifties as “Angelitos Negros” with its original Spanish lyrics). Kitt delivers it in extreme close-up with a stark simplicity and a few tears rolling down her face. What a mesmerising presence she was!

Nonetheless, Sentimental Eartha bombed in the UK and was never even released in the US.  Kitt never pursued modern rock music again. It was a doomed but noble effort. As with Peggy Lee and Julie London, Kitt’s experimentations baffled her existing mature fans and failed to engage with a new younger audience.