Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hippie Comic Art reaches Mainstream

Hippie Art and Comics Books have been a strong left-field influence upon modern culture in the 20th Century. Both have transitioned through a myriad of changes ranging from it's being a social phenomenon and targeted at the youth audience and later splintering to appeal to the more sophisticated reader. Modern day subscribers follow each new volume in search of trippy novels and underground comixs. This artwork and banter has survived through the process and produced meaningful social purpose for both the clueless moron and the academically advanced. Plus, they're always fun to view. Throw in a little political satire blended with a touch of sophomoric humor and you got a message from a 'higher' power. But you may ask, what does all this artwork represent and what does this all mean? As Mr. Natural says above, "Don't Mean Sheeit."

Ah yes, here's one of my favorites. Here you've got a startled observer on the left and shocked at what he's viewing. Sitting next to him is a towel-headed pied piper from the Salvation Army. But here's where cartoon gets interesting as the music begins to entrance the red-headed Amazon who is wearing a chastity belt donated to her from the WWF. And now all of a sudden she's digging the tune and starts to dance. Whoa...Can you feel the earth shake?

(Editors note: For those of you who are musically educated and can read sheet music, you'll probably notice the musical notes from above are from the Isley Brothers classic song "Shake Your Tail Feather.")

This one kills me as I have been in this situation before. In this Hippie Comic, less explanation steps aside for viewers to openly invite their own interpretations. (Double-click to enlarge)

Won't go here either. Go ahead and let your mind roam.

In closing, here you have sweet-sweet Hedi the Photolog Chick expressing her impatience towards the next posting. Ain't life grand? In the Hippie Art world, even Blog Editors have cartoon groupies!

Artwork from Wolfgang's Vault and John Lustig

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Gentrys "Keep On Dancing" turns 42

If you're still around from those innocent days and remember the classic song "Keep On Dancing" by The Gentrys...well then my friend...you're getting old. That was 42 years ago. As a matter of fact, for us baby-boomers to recall anything from that era is quite an accomplishment. It's a daunting prospect for anyone (and I should know) to shake-off the cob webs and reminisce those days. Yet, while discussing the song just recently, my better half surprised me when she boastfully declared, "Of course, I remember 'Keep On Dancing.' She continued with her testimony, "My sister and I actually went to the record store and purchased the record." Hmm...hard to believe. But she was telling the truth as she revealed that her copy of "Keep On Dancing" was by... The Bay City Rollers.

Oh, the horror of it all.

The Gentrys were the eternally youthful 60's garage band from Memphis that recorded the original song in 1965. Produced by legendary producer, Chips Moman, "Keep On Dancing" was the second release for the band on the Youngstown label. The trendy song started it's life as a mere B-side when it was 'flipped-over' by WMPS disk jockey Roy Mack after the A-side petered out. Across town at radio station WHBQ the request lines received immediate response in support of the upbeat dance song. That's when record giant MGM Records stepped in and purchased the distribution rights from Youngstown and released the record worldwide.

The Gentrys "Keep On Dancing" would go on to conquer the Billboard Charts with a gold record peaking at #4. Quite an accomplishment for a group of high school seniors from Treadwell High. The band was formed in 1963 by vocalist-guitarist Larry Raspberry and joined by members Jimmy Hart, Bruce Bowles, Larry Wall, Pat Neal, Bobby Fisher and Jimmy Johnson. They were a handsome crew and lived-up to their name with band outfits of matching blue blazers, turtle neck sweaters and high-heeled Beatle boots. The band's leader, Larry Raspberry (as seen below), was quite the showman and many local musicians aspired to parallel his band's success.

Oozing with talent and gifted with an unflappable sense of humor, Raspberry's leadership was the spearhead of the band. On nights when the group struggled with various stage elements, band members simply jumped on his back as he carried the weight throughout the performance. Pictured above is a classic photo revealing Raspberry pointing a orchestra baton to a poster of keyboardist Stuart Payne's mutilated foot. Quite typical of Raspberry's wacky shenanigans.

Although the band would continue to evolve in the coming years with other talented members, The Gentrys would go on to record additional albums on both MGM and also SUN Records.

In this later version of The Gentrys (seen below), perhaps this group was the tightest unit to hit the road and stayed together for an extended period. (L-R) Jimmy Hart, Sonny Pittman, Bruce Bowles, Larry Raspberry, Stuart Payne and Mike Gardner.

In another classic photo, below Road Manager Phillip Rauls trys to hold back a muted laugh while band leader Larry Raspberry squats beside him and accidentally let's one go prior to the camera snapping the picture. Got Beano?

Copyrighted (c) photos and material by Phillip Rauls - All Rights Reserved