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Singles 25th Anniversary

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25 years ago today, Singles (finally) debuted at a theater near you. If you haven’t done so, explore the Singles section of The Uncool where you’ll find Deleted Scenes from the script, Locations Then & Now, a collection of foreign posters and so much more. We hope you like the (never before seen) alternate shot from Poster shoot above and the negatives from Citizen Dick at the Java Stop below!

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Sep 18, 2017

Steely Dan Thrills Early and Often

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Happy Friday. We dug this out of the archives today as one last tribute to Walter Becker and Steely Dan. This short piece is from the February, 1973 issue of Zoo World as the band reflects on their new found success with their first hit single, “Do It Again” of their new record, Can’t Buy A Thrill. 

Steely Dan

“Well, I imagine you’ve seen it,” Steely Dan manager Gary McPike sighed as he withdrew a well-fingered, almost crumbling, clipping from that morning’s Los Angeles Times.

It was a critical review of the band’s recent appearance at the Whiskey. A quick scan revealed it wasn’t as crippling a write-up as the concerned McPike’s attitude may have implied. The music was fantastic, contended the reviewer, but the band’s drab attire was inexcusable. This lack of showmanship, concluded the piece, revealed an inherent disregard for the audience.

“I like movement,” remarked Wait Becker, the group’s bassist and one half of their composing team, “and I’m all for the visual side of rock ’n roll, but the music is the most important thing. When the visual aspect gets in the way of the music. I’d rather forsake it.”

It’s not as if Steely Dan hides behind their sound equipment while performing their set, however. Lead singer, David Palmer, performs as spirited a set as anybody else, and the rest of the band does their share of bopping as well, but some people you just can’t please.

“As far as that one review is concerned,” added Donald Fagen, organist, sometime lead-vocalist, and the other half of the aforementioned writing duo, “I think the person who wrote it has an unusually high interest in men’s fashions.” Fagen pauses a moment to laugh, then continues, “I mean if a person is that disinterested in the music, I’d just as soon they go elsewhere.”

Steely Dan is a new band. Emerging out of the ruins of several other bands that barely missed making it or just plain never did, (their present line-up (Jeff Baxter on guitar, Jim Hodder on drums, Becker on bass, Fagen on keyboards and Palmer on vocals) was settled upon as recently as last August. Their first dose of recognition came with an irresistible single by the name of “Do It Again.” Steely Dan passed that first hurdle on their way to large scale success, which was a new experience for the former members of Jay And The Americans and Ultimate Spinach. So Steely Dan has reached a position in four months, most bands can’t reach in years.

Perhaps most responsible for the group’s following is the extremely accessible composing talents of Becker. Do It Again, according to the writers, was not intended to be a single. “In fact,” Faqen-one of your more obvious New Yorkers – continues, “we didn’t try to record or write any of our tunes catering to any particular market. But, as it turns out. I guess we’re just naturally commercial.”

Can’t Buy A Thrill, Steely Dan’s impressive debut album, looks like it’ll produce several more hit 45’s before the band’s follow-up Lp hits the stands in a couple months. But, the question appears to be, does the group intend to be a singles band or an albums band.

“Both…I hope,” Becker responds. “We try to make every cut as good as we can, not really thinking whether it’s adaptable to AM or not.”

Needless to say, things have not always been on the up-and-up for the Becker-Fagen team. Writing together long before their involvement in Steely Dan, the two kept themselves alive for two years by playing in Jay And The Americans’ back-up band.

“We worked about two weekends a month on that job,” remembers Becker. “That paid the rent. The rest of the time we just hung out, wrote songs and threw them out the window. Our publishing company was actually non-existent, and we ended up writing songs for other people who never did them. We wrote some songs for Barbra Streisand…she actually did one of them, “I Mean To Shine.” It’s on her Barbra Streisand album. “We wrote songs for Dusty Springfield. I don’t think she ever got to hear them. Then we wrote some non-pop songs that no one got to hear.”

“Denny Doherty recorded one of our songs,” Fagen mutters, “but the album it was on never got released. His contract had ended.”

From there the two migrated down to Los Angeles from New York, where they met the other future members of Steely Dan, formed the band and began work on Can’t Buy A Thrill.

With the fickleness of the record industry and it’s audience being what it is, how does it feel, you may be wondering, to be in the depths of frustration one day and be topping the charts and accepting superlative praise the next. How does it change an artist’s life? Donald Fagen and Walter Becker can only speak for themselves.

“Well,” begins Fagen, “I used to have a lot more leisure time…like all the time…”

“As for me,” Becker interrups in a bored monotone, “I gained twenty pounds.”

Courtesy of Zoo World – Cameron Crowe – February 3, 1973

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Sep 15, 2017

Saying Farewell to Walter Becker of Steely Dan

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Sad day today as we’ve lost another great musician and human. Our best to Walter’s family, Donald Fagen and the Steely Dan community. They were, in their own particular and wickedly subversive way, the Coen Brothers of Rock. Here is Cameron’s ’77 story about Steely Dan.

Steely Dan Springs Back: The Second Coming

Their new album, held throughout product-glutted summer for just the right moment, accidentally came out the same afternoon as the new Rolling Stones LP. Their first tour in three years was canceled. They haven’t had a hit single since 1974’s “Rikki Don’t Lost That Number.” And still, their sixth and most esoteric effort yet, Aja, is one of the season’s hottest albums and by far Steely Dan’s fastest-selling ever. Suddenly, against all the odds, it’s Steely Dan fever.

They are the unlikeliest super-group – perhaps because there is no group. Two blurry character named Walter Becker and Donald Fagen write and construct the songs, then hire highly skilled studio musicians to execute the parts. They even play themselves, but less and less, it seems, each album. (“It wouldn’t bother me at all,” says Becker, “not to play on my own album.”) The infrequent product of their labors is labeled a Steely Dan album. Any further details are subject to Becker’s and Fagen’s notorious distaste for facts.

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Sep 3, 2017

Raspberries – Pop Art Live

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I got some pretty cool news to share today. More than 30 years after the original members of Raspberries last played together, Omnivore Recordings is releasing a 2-CD/Digital set entitled Pop Art Live on August 18, 2017. The show captures their November, 2004 reunion show at Cleveland’s House of Blues. Along with “Go All The Way” (featured in Almost Famous), 27 additional Raspberries classics will be included. Cameron provides his thoughts in the liner notes, along with longtime Raspberries experts Bernie Hogya and Ken Sharp. As always, it will be available at your favorite independent record store or through Amazon. We will share Cameron’s piece when the triple LP colored vinyl is released in November.

 

 

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Aug 17, 2017

Neal Preston – Exhilarated and Exhausted Book!

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“I want the reader at the end of this book to feel like they’ve just spent a year on the road with Zeppelin with one day off, then six months with Guns ‘n’ Roses, with one day off and then five years with Bruce Springsteen. Exhilarated and exhausted.” -Neal Preston

Legendary rock photographer Neal Preston has officially announced his new book, Exhilarated and Exhausted. In addition to a collection of amazing photographs, the 336 page book is crammed with personal stories, backstage intrigue and plenty of Neal’s humor. It’s really much more than just a collection of photos, it’s an insightful look from Neal documenting his 50 years in the business. The book will also include an introduction by Cameron. The book will be released on October 24, 2017.  You can pre-order your copy now at Amazon.com. More to come!

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Aug 7, 2017

Fast Times Deleted Scene – Spicoli on Merv Griffin

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We thought it would be fun to wrap this Fast Times 35th anniversary celebration with this Spicoli scene that was not to be. In Cameron’s book, Spicol’s dream sequence occurs on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. After Johnny turned it down, it was written for Merv Griffin, Tom Snyder and finally David Letterman. All of them graciously turned it down for a variety of reasons (more here), so the scene was re-written as a surf competition interview with Stu Nahan. We thought you might like to read the Merv Griffin version. Enjoy!

DARKNESS

We are in the middle of a deep, dark void. After a

moment, a pinprick of light appears in the

distance. We head towards the light. We are being

led somewhere important.

 

As we draw still closer, curtains suddenly part to

reveal a wildly cheering studio audience. We hear

the voice of Merv Griffin.

 

MERV GRIFFIN (O.S.)

Will you please give a warm welcome

to… Jeff Spicoli!

 

The Merv Griffin Show band begins playing a Merv

Griffin Show version of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell”.

Someone hands Jeff Spicoli a microphone. He works

the studio audience into a frenzy as he sings the

words to “Highway to Hell”: Merv Griffin show

style.

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Aug 4, 2017

Fast Times 35th Anniversary Screening This Weekend!

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As we previously mentioned, Fathom is hosting the TCM 35th Anniversary screening of Fast Times at Ridgemont High this weekend on over 750 screens. These screenings will take place this Sunday and Wednesday, but check for theaters and times in your area over at the official site. The screening will be hosted by TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz.Check out the trailer above and the poster below!

 

 

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Jul 28, 2017

Summer Screenings

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Hi all. Long time, no talk. Sorry for the lack of updates, but things should be heating up again soon as summer is in full swing. Speaking of summer, we wanted to share a few film screenings we’ve heard about around the country. If we missed some, please let us know.

July 20th – Almost Famous – Rooftop Cinema Club – Montalban – Los Angeles, CA

July 30th/Aug 2nd – Fast Times at Ridgemont High – Fathom/TCM Classics – U.S.

August 9th – Almost Famous – Rooftop Cinema Club – Brooklyn, NY

 

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Jul 11, 2017

Mike Finger’s The Blue and the Black