Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday Video Pick

Courtesy of a recommendation from our pal (and friend of this here blog) Sam Walters -- formerly the lead singer of King Hell, the greatest rap metal band out of Brooklyn ever, and currently doing similar splendid duty for monsters of rock Driven Mad (find them on Facebook and otherwise check your local listings) -- I just watched what is without question one of the most remarkable -- and remarkably disturbing -- rock documentaries ever made.


The short version: The film is a mash note from a fan to Pentagram, who -- previously unbeknownst to me -- are one of the genuine cult bands of all time, a long-running, hugely influential and commercially unsuccessful metal act featuring a notoriously self-destructive lead singer who by all rights should have died years ago; let's just say that the phrase "elegantly wasted" has never been used to describe him. It's one of the most harrowing things of its kind I've ever seen -- when people ask, I tell 'em its sort of like Anvil! The Story of Anvil if it had been directed by Tod Browning. I should add that you absolutely don't have to be a metal fan to find the film compulsively watchable, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention that it features a surprise ending that you absolutely won't see coming.

Here's the trailer, which should give you an idea.



Traditionalist that I am, I viewed the thing on DVD (available from Amazon) but I believe you can also stream it from Netflix. In any case, not to be missed.

P.S.: While doing a little Google research on Pentagram, I was positively gobsmacked to learn that one of the many guitarists who did duty in the band over its long history is none other than John Jennings, a great country/folk-rock player who wound up being Mary-Chapin Carpenter's bandleader and musical director for decades, and whose music with MCC couldn't be more stylistically different from metal.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Decibel mag (the funnier of the metal sheets) uses Pentagram regularly as a peg to describe certain bands' sounds. Their Hall of Fame (a great series in which they do a talking history of a landmark album each issue) places Pentagram's Relentless at 64, between Ace of Spades and Bloody Kisses. http://decibelmagazine.com/

buzzbabyjesus said...

I watched this on Netflix a few months back and I thoroughly enjoyed, if that's the right word, it. I need not add anything to your description.

Anonymous said...

Wow Steve! I never saw this one coming. A pleasant surprise. I bought this DVD about a year ago and love it. I turn friends on to it if I feel they would be receptive. You really can't look away.

I was introduced to this band by an east coast bootlegger in the mid-1980's. He was a major metal guy and evangelistic fan of the band. They were very Black Sabbath like.

I had major access to radio shows like King Biscuit and Westwood One stuff. You know, live stuff that my Baltimore friend could turn into boots. We'd do big deals over the phone. He thought he was a tough negotiator, but he melted with dirty talk. It's amazing what a few promised Polaroids can do to sweeten a deal.

He always paid up front with cash via Express Mail. Really ... the guy would send 15K cash with only 100 bucks insurance on it. But it always got to me. And it was pure profit since I got the shows for free. Great while it lasted.

He got busted in early 1989 for bootlegging and mail fraud, which kinda put the kibosh on all the fun. Bummer too, because I had just fronted him several thousand dollars for bootleg CD's, including quantity on the now legendary, original and much sought after, Led Zeppelin Tour Over Europe 1980 on Eagle Records (which I think was the first Zepp CD bootleg of previously unreleased material - a hissy, dry soundboard from Zurich). To his credit, even though he was hot as hell and two of his warehouses got raided, he slowly trickled the product I paid for out to me. So he was a stand up guy.

Sometimes I'd trade radio shows and blow for quantity of boots. This is when me and my old man were dealing coke. Fun and crazy times.

Anyway, he gave us multiple copies of Pentagram's first two albums. He used them as packing in his LP cartons. I'm pretty sure someone connected with the band was working for him as a shipper for his "mail order" biz.

Eventually, I actually listened to the albums. I gave them to friends of the metal persuasion of which there were quite a few in the mid to late 1980's.

Fascinating movie. All should see.

Vickie Rock

Mark said...

Must check this out, though the trailer alone generates a type of sadness I usually like to stay clear of.

Even so, I like to stay in touch with (and by that I mean listen to, occasionally) the type of old-school-you'll-excuse-the-expression heavy metal bands and many of their more contemporary stoner rock equivalents, I always thought that the Grand Funk RR-Bloodrock-Dust-Sir Lord Baltimore and add-your-fave-here end of the heavy metal spectrum, while fun at times, was a dead end. And contemporary versions of such bands, such as -- I kid you not -- Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell and others either wink at you, sometimes in name, sometimes in appearances, or and sometimes in style and sources.

What I want to know is whether this is all due to the success of Grand Funk RR here in the U.S. and Black Sabbath in Britain? And their fans?

OK, and drugs.

The very fact that Black Sabbath was able to capitalize on what at the time was a minor area of rock music and create a market for itself and and other similar bands -- and in its wake create a market for as as many sub-genres of loud dumb fun music as it has done -- has always amazed me, and for one reason.

I'm amazed because to me there is nothing as tiring as listening to a Black Sabbath album that you first heard 45 years ago.

And by the way, Pentagram's 2011 album, LAST RITES, is a lot like the cole slaw at Waldbaum's. It ain't bad.

Anonymous said...

Not sure I know what Vicki's post has to do with the topic at hand....

Anonymous said...

Well, Vickie mentioned that she owned and loved the DVD. She said it was a can't look away, must see film.

She also explained the who, what, when and where of her introduction to the band Pentagram and the circumstances under which this occurred.

She inferred that, while this is really not reflective of her taste in music, the film has merit.

Exactly what does your comment have to do with the topic at hand, anonymous?

Sandy Dempton

Brooklyn Girl in Queens said...

Sandy,

Since you now feel the need to interject on Vickie's behalf (and I assume you are the Sandy she has mentioned on more than one occasion), I feel the need to respond, as a long-time reader of this blog and a close friend of Steve's. I have held my tongue for several months now, but I'm done.

I'll bottom line it for you: Vickie always turns the conversation to herself. She is, at best, an attention addict who often hijacks a thread to absurdity --- the most recent example is a recent Listomania, in which of the 33 comments, half were hers (note to Vickie, who I am sure will be reading this: the Listomanias are usually "best" and/or "worst", not "every record ever recorded since the dawn of time").

She is very knowledgeable, but is so relentlessy self-involved that I usually wind up skipping her posts. If she wants to tell all her personal storIes, LET HER GET HER OWN BLOG AND STOP HOGGING THIS ONE.

Anonymous said...


There you go again ....

Vickie Rock



Brooklyn Girl in Queens said...

There I go again???

Really, you are too funny.

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Anonymous said...

apparently, i misunderstood; i figured 'vickie rock' was the name used by some relatively clever contributor to construct an inane, relentlessly self-referential rock-zelig satire of a dopey music fan...it's a 'real' person? who says, 'it's just a piece of cloth' in reference to the confederate flag? wow. oy oy oy.