Robert Reed (1938 – 2014) considered Plum Nellie, Sea Stone (1972) as a landscape. In it, a clearly defined rectangle of exposed canvas draws the viewer’s eye to the middle of the painting. Bold purple strokes of paint jostle at the rectangle’s sides. The work is part of Reed’sPlum Nellie series, which was exhibited in his solo show at the Whitney in 1973. In addition to referencing its color palette, the title recalls the southern expression “plum nelly.” Reed remembered the phrase to near “damn near,” suggesting that his relationship to abstraction is as much about the process of getting there as it is about arriving at a destination.
An early practitioner of Op Art, a movement that emerged in the mid-1960s and prioritized optical illusionism, Edna Andrade (1917 – 2008) used geometry and color to create abstract interpretations of organic ratios, biological systems, and natural rhythms. Summer Game (1972) features a vibrant palette and an irregular grid that appears to expand and contract, project, and recede, creating a sense of playful, kinetic energy.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
The iconic Bocca Sofa (also unofficially known an the Lips Sofa) was created by the radical Italian design team Studio 65 for the famed Italian manufacturers Gufram back in 1972. Based on an original design by none other than Surrealist Salvador Dali, who took Mae West as his inspiration, Studio 65 looked to that other iconic beauty, Marilyn Monroe, to create this famous sofa. Both Studio 65 and Gufram are known for being places where the art world and design world collided, and their kaleidoscopic fusion of pop art, conceptual art and modernist design reached their zenith with this piece.
Andy Warhol based his Mao paintings, drawings, lithographs, photocopy prints, and wallpaper on the same image: a painting by Zhang Zhenshi that served as the frontispiece for Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung (known in the “West as The Little Red Book”) and was then thought to be the most widely reproduced artwork in the world. Warhol chose the image of Mao — then chairman of the Chinese Communist Party — after reading news coverage of President Richard Nixon’s trip to the People’s Republic of China in February of 1972, an unprecedented act of cold war diplomacy that marked the first act by a sitting American president to the nation, which at the tie was considered an enemy of the state.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again, at the Whitney Museum of American Art Through March 31st, 2019.
Sears & Roebuck released this colorful set of Pink Flamingos bed sheets in 1972, and it mysteriously disappeared almost as quickly as it hit store shelves. The sheets were made available two weeks prior to the release of the film, and within two months they were nearly impossible to find. Sales records indicated that only 500 to 800 units were sold nationwide, though Sears reports that over 5,000 units were actually produced. Where did all of the missing bed sheets end up? No one really knows, but it is speculated that they were pulled from shelves and junked by retail biddies who objected to the content of the film. Each set contained a fitted sheet, top sheet and two pillow cases.
Have you seen American Hustle yet? It is the best movie, about a story that happened during my favorite decade: the 1970s. The Seventies were a time of amazing visual stye in everything from furniture design to fashion, but it was also the decade of the best music ever. Just think about it: the worldwide phenomena that was Disco book-ended by The Beatles and Punk Rock. Wow. Mind blowing. It all happened in The Seventies!
It stands to reason then that American Hustle’s Original Motion Picture Soundtrack would be liberally studded with some serious seventies musical gems. There is something for every musical taste on this disc, from big band action courtesy of Duke Ellington’s “Jeep’s Blues” to timeless classic rock (Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”), to an original instrumental track by veteran soundtrack composer, Danny Elfman. There may not be any Beatles’ songs on here, but Paul McCartney (the world’s first Billionaire Rock Star) makes an appearance with his post-Beatle’s band, Wings, delivering the epic spy film theme song, “Live and Let Die.”
Not unexpectedly, revisiting songs that I first heard when I was a pre-teen music snob has inspired me to have a bit of an epiphany. America’s mega-hit from 1972, “A Horse With No Name” was dismissed by me at the time of its release as a Neil Young rip off full of lyrical nonsense. But in a modern day context, the part where the narrator is “looking at a riverbed” and reflecting that, “The story it told / of a river that flowed/ made me sad to think it was dead” is positively sobering. Because remember: he’s in the desert. This song is genius.
Of course, it would not be a full-on 70s experience without some crotch grabbing disco fun, and Music Supervisor Susan Jacobs hits it out of the park by including Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” — a song that says more about the pervasive hedonism of Disco culture with just three words and a wildly hypnotic, insistent electronic beat than any other song ever has. And while I was originally bummed that the included performance of “Don’t Leave Me This Way” is by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes rather that the classic Thelma Houston version, I got over it pretty quickly.
Speaking of covers, I very much enjoy the faithful-to-the-original arrangement of Jefferson Airplane’s classic “White Rabbit” sung in Arabic by vocalist Mayssa Karaa.
But the song which has unarguably received the biggest shot in the arm for its inclusion in the film is Electric Light Orchestra’s prophetic and compelling “10538 Overture,” which has probably been downloaded a hundred times since you started reading this review. I can’t believe I have survived for forty years without having this song at my finger tipis to replay over and over and over again. Seriously, this song is just insane. ELO appear again with “Long Black Road” and vocalist Jeff Lynne also contributes “Stream Of Stars,” a previously unreleased instrumental track that just takes its own little journey to the center of your heart in under three minutes.
Tom Jones, Jack Jones and Chris Stills (son of Stephen Stills, providing the only song not actually written and previously recorded in the seventies) round out this A+ collection of songs that rank as a must own album for any music fan.
American Hustle – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Track Listing:
1. Jeep’s Blues | Duke Ellington
2. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road | Elton John
3. White Rabbit | Mayssa Karaa
4. 10538 Overture | Electric Light Orchestra
5. Live And Let Die | Wings
6. How Can You Mend A Broken Heart | Bee Gees
7. I Feel Love | Donna Summer
8. Don’t Leave Me This Way | Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
Alice Cooper with Dennis Dunaway Clone to his Left
It’s not exactly a secret that singer Alice Cooper has a small part in the new Tim Burton film version of the 1970s Gothic TV Soap Opera Dark Shadows. What I didn’t know until I saw the film yesterday is that it’s not justCooper but the entire original band called Alice Cooper that’s recreated for several scenes taking place during a ball at the Collin’s family mansion, Collinwood. For these scenes, Alice fronts a group of actors who mime to the band’s hit “No More Mr. Nice Guy” as well as the fan favorite “Ballad of Dwight Fry” from 1971’s Love It To Death. I must say that Burton did a terrific job of casting actors who look remarkably like original band members Glen Buxton, Mike Bruce and Dennis Dunaway (see photo above). And while the actor playing drummer Neal Smith is mostly hidden behind Alice during the performances, at least he appears to have Smith’s trademark long blond hair.
Worleygig.com has learned from a source inside the Alice Cooper camp that the concept of giving the audience an authentic, 70s-era Alice Cooper Band experience is owed not just to Tim Burton but also primarily to Johnny Depp (who must be a fan) and Burton’s team executed it beautifully, and as well as they could given the infinitesimally brief amount of screen time given to anyone other than Alice. It is certainly a deserved homage to one of the most innovative and enduring American bands of the seventies. What makes this story even more interesting though is the fact that Cooper’s former band mates (who were all inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011) apparently had no idea they were being represented in the film. Apart from being aware that Alice had a cameo in Dark Shadows, drummer Neal Smith told me on the phone that Alice hadn’t offered him any details on the part and that he was hearing about the entire original band being represented in the film for the first time from me. One might think that with the Hall of Fame induction last year, Cooper would consider that having their likenesses portrayed in a major motion picture would be newsworthy to his former band mates. But then again, why would he. Overall, I really loved the film, even though I was expecting to be disappointed, and thought the Alice Cooper band bits were lots of fun, “No More Mr. Nice Guy” being my favorite song from the original band and all. it Have you seen Dark Shadows? If so, what did you think?