BOB PEAK: American Illustrator Superstar

This piece was originally published June 1&th, 2013

Bob Peak Icon TemplateThere are times here at Mystery Box H.Q. when I set out to write about a subject that I feel is so undeniably a legend, so incredibly talented beyond mere words, and such a large influential part of the fabric of popular culture, that I start to feel…to say it in two words— humbly intimidated.

Bob Peak is one of those subjects.

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SURF ROCK GOES “TOO FAR” WITH THE RETURN OF SUSAN SURFTONE

This piece was originally published June 3rd, 2013.

Susan Surftone Too Far Icon TemplateAh, it’s almost Summertime again my friends.

Nothing goes better in these warm, delightful days of the Sun, than a few road trip adventures motoring off to a little seaside vista accompanied by some wild and woolly instrumental surf rock.

Simply put, well played surf rock never goes out of style.

Like many fans of the surf rock genre, I have never actually surfed, but since I was a child, the early Beach Boys records made an indelible impression. Like many other “Kooks,” I too have been catching that mythical wave and mentally “getting barreled” for years.

More recently, I have been digging a superb practitioner of this music, Susan Surftone. She is easily one of the best boss gals to ever sling a guitar and create her own wonderful surf rock sounds.

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THE MUSEUM OF BAD ART

This piece was originally published May 20th, 2013.

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“An artist is somebody who produces things that people don’t need to have.”

— Andy Warhol

 

“Most people in America think Art is a man’s name.”

— Andy Warhol

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You’ve heard of Night Gallery? The Rod Serling television series that was his brilliant follow up to The Twilight Zone and featured a gallery of horrific and nightmarish paintings tied into each episodes’ plot that still resound with an eerie intensity with viewers decades after the show’s original airing.

Well this is more a case of welcome to a world of art that one might say is best viewed with the lights out at night…

 

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John Currin’s 1991 painting Bea Arthur Naked recently sold for 1.9 million dollars at Christie’s auction house.

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Remembering SEAN HARTTER: Awesome Across The Universe(s)

This piece was originally published May 6th, 2013.

SH Post TemplateI still find this difficult to believe and am writing this piece while still in a state of grief and sadness.

On Friday April 27th, 2013 without warning, the world lost illustrator/comic book artist Sean Hartter at the early age of 39.

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Yazoo Records delivers us THE STUFF THAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF

This post was originally published April 22nd, 2013.

Robert Crumb Blues Icon TemplateWhen I think of the most obsessively fanatical collectors that populate our planet, I have to give the prize to record collectors. 

Even well beyond folks that seek out rare comic books, watches, autographs or toys, it is the passion of music enthusiasts seeking out that rare vinyl LP, forgotten release, or long thought lost recording.

This obsession can turn many an individual into a deviously sneaky, frothing at the mouth, crazed vinyl addict.

 

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As evidenced by this past weekend’s annual holiday for the record collecting fan, Record Store Day, turnouts around the world were huge, as independent music shops celebrated what has become their biggest retail day of the year.

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Folks swarmed shops everywhere in an attempt to purchase the many exclusive limited edition vinyl titles that record labels the world over released on this special day.

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Music fans are still crazy for vinyl, and the demand for LP’s and singles is increasing by the year.

Some things never change.

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THE ROLLING STONES: SOME GIRLS Live in Texas ’78

This piece was originally published April 8th, 2013.

Some Girls still stCharlie Watts Some Girls Icon Templateands today as one of The Rolling Stones last incredible album masterpieces.

While they certainly made some outstanding albums afterwards—Tattoo You and Undercover are both high points—there were none that would be so perfectly complete as Some Girls.

Released in 1978 and quickly becoming a #1 album, it is hailed as an across the board classic, and one of their all time best selling studio albums.

Recorded in ’77 & early ’78, the writing and sessions were done amidst a time of even more internal turmoil than usual for The Stones, with Keith Richards’ looming Toronto drug bust a concern as to whether he could be imprisoned for years, and the challenge of responding to punk rock’s ground zero takedown of the dinosaurs of many of rock and roll’s giants.

 

The original cover art (there was also another color variant cover) to the 
Some Girls album, spoofing a wig ad is brilliant. The cover was quickly changed 
when copyright issues came up regarding the various female celebrities depicted.

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THE UNDERGROUND X-RAY RECORDS OF THE SOVIET UNION

This piece was originally published March 25th, 2013.

Soviet X Ray Records IconIt’s easy to take entertainment for granted.

In our present day we have the ability to purchase and enjoy so many recreational items: play a video game, listen to whatever it is we want, watch whatever we want, and, though there are still many folks out there who wish they could control our choices, read any books we can find.

Folks happily embrace the technology that has made obtaining our selections quick, simple and affordable, and we think nothing now of versions that exist only on the ether, or rather—on a cloud.

Still others, myself included, like to seek out older formats and what some will call obsolete mediums.

Some of these formats such as the vinyl LP have actually increased in their yearly sales and there are constantly new purveyors now marketing records, both for new album releases and reissuing older releases.

The annual April celebration event for small independent record shops around the world, Record Store Day, has increased popularity and made it a huge success. For many of these brick and mortar stores and the independent record labels that send exclusive items for sale on that day, it is their best retail day of the year.

Long thought dead formats such as 78 r.p.m. records, 8-track tapes, cassettes, VHS tapes and laser discs, still have numerous aficionados and collectors that will readily discuss at great length their obsessions and collections. In fact, there are even record labels, bands and filmmakers that choose to only release their output on some of these “antique” formats.

It wasn’t always this easy though…

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Bryan Ferry’s THE JAZZ AGE: A Masterpiece In Mono

This piece was originally published February 25th, 2013.

The 1920’s was a time not that unlike the 1960’s in that it was a period when new fashions, new music and new freedoms were celebrated with a youthful exuberance that sought to shake off those of the older established mainstream.

It was a time of partying and cheering for the end of the previous dark period of World War I, a time where women’s suffrage was peaking and was subsequently celebrated with the rise of the independently-minded, adventurously daring Flappers.

Most notably, it was a glorious time for a musical genre called Jazz that had seen its birth in the African American communities of New Orleans, and was now seen as the dance band choice of the young and young-minded everywhere.


Image of Bryan Ferry Orchestra


With radio broadcasts playing a large part in spreading the zest of Jazz, as well as folks flocking to dance-halls to see the bands themselves, Jazz became the rebellious music.

Bryan Ferry is no stranger to rebellion. Beginning as a part-time art teacher, his band Roxy Music released their stunningly original self-titled debut album in 1972.

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BEWARE OF MR. BAKER: GINGER BAKER VS. HIMSELF

This piece was originally published February 11th, 2013.

Even when I thought I knew just about everything creative, compulsive and crazed when it came to tales of the man and his music, I saw this film and realized my knowledge was only a small part of a wilder story.

  Beware of Mr. Baker is a documentary on the life of the legendary British rock drummer with a mane of flame and the eyes of a madman, Ginger Baker.

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THE REPLACEMENTS: REUNITED FOR SLIM

This piece was originally published January 28th, 2013.

Formed in 1979 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, The Replacements were one of the great groups that merged a love of classic rock, hook-laden bands such as The Beatles ( they named one of the albums Let It Be ), The Rolling Stones, and Badfinger with the proto-punk of The New York Dolls and the more recent snap of The RamonesThe ClashThe Jam and The Dead Boys.

In their early sloppy, alcohol-sopped party rock days, when they weren’t downright terrible, they could be a short distance from their musical heroes, The Faces

 

The Replacements, Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, Chris Mars, Bob Stinson, Slim Dunlap, Steve Foley

Rod Stewart and The Faces defined great drunken Rock and Roll

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When they summoned up a melodic beauty in a song’s refrain, they could reach the cosmos of one of their other major influences, Big Star

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The Replacements, Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, Chris Mars, Bob Stinson, Slim Dunlap, Steve Foley

Big Star with Alex Chilton (right)

Through their earlier days the line-up was founder/guitarist Bob Stinson who, in an effort to keep his little half-brother out of trouble, presented Tommy Stinson with a bass. Adding their friend, guitarist turned drummer Chris Mars, the new band, Dogbreath, would cover Ted Nugent, and Aerosmith, standard stuff for 70’s kids to play.
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