Thursday, August 16, 2007

that voice (slight return)

Ted Wilkison of lateadopter blog tells me that the lead voice if not the lead face of the Carrie Nations in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls was one Lynn Carey, a Los Angeles singer in various 1960s and 1970s bands. However she was, owing to a dispute between labels, replaced for the soundtrack album. Which means for the full might of that voice there's no substitute for watching the film for the umpteenth time.

Ted's email reminded me of the question I forgot to ask with the previous post: where did that voice come from? Lynn Carey's use of the word "belt" or "belting" in this interview reminded me that somewhere I read that Dorothy Moskowitz of United States of America, as well as studying with electronic/concrete pioneer Otto Luening, had also done some show tunes singing. Is that perhaps the secret source of the purity/power 1960s white-girl sound? Where show tunes meets LSD... I'd always thought Jefferson Airplane like most of the San Francisco groups were folkies before they went electric, but perhaps in Grace Slick’s case that’s where her voice came from too, at least in part. And wasn't Marty Balin the other principal voice in the Airplane actually more of show biz/cabaret type singer than a blues/folk dude?

Talking of Jefferson Airplane and acid rock, New Yorkers hurry down to catch the Summer of Love art exhibition at the Whitney before it closes on September 14. (On the way out pick up a copy of the exhibition book in which I have an essay on psychedelic rock). This is the show that debuted at the Liverpool Tate a couple of years back. Along with photographs, paintings, record covers, posters, flyers, underground magazines and other period ephemera, there are recreations of various light-art installations, Op-Art-meets-mandala style motion sculptures and wall hangings, chill out rooms with cushions and colored-oil-and-condom projections dappling the walls, and so forth. One of these spaces, a strobe room created by an outfit called USCO, provided Tasmin with the second major aesthetic experience (visual arts division)of her life: it's a chamber full of sheets of foil hanging down from the ceiling, which ripple and kink and crinkle and crackle when you bump into them, and in combination with the fast-flicker of the strobes, sends rivulets of dazzle everywhichway... well Tazzy went mental as you can imagine, kept charging in and out of the room like a tiny blissed-out bull. Unphotographable, cos of the oscillating light, the USCO exhibit, but another one she and Kieran loved was the Phantasy Landscape Visiona II, a sort of cross between a lava lamp and wall-to-wall carpeted living room, you can see it here. Fun for all the family, this exhibition!

As to the art itself, well, the British stuff (UK and America get a floor each) stood up far better, on the whole. Great to see Richard Avedon's portraits of the Beatles, including the one below of George Harrison, as appropriated by my fave ardkore club Labrynth as its mascot-logo on flyers like this one.

Also loved all the fantastical playful building plans designed by impossibilist architect team Archigram. Overall the British stuff of that era, while just as dated and daft and kandy-kolored kitschy if you wanna be stern about it, just looks way better than its American counterpart. Where the latter is all fugged up and frowsty with the Beat influence, the British work has more of a Pop Art influence, it's more stylized and stylish. In some of the photographs of rock bands and scenesters you can see the seeds of glam. No British group of the Sixties would let themselves look as shit as, say, Jerry Garcia and the rest of the Dead. (Even after the the mustaches came in big-time, they were more shapely, stylized mustaches in the UK.)

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