Negativland Live - "Helter Stupid Tour" 1989
At the time this excellent board tape was made, multi-media collage/ performance art/ prankster legends Negativland had been around since the early '80s, releasing several albums that served as warm-ups for their glory years of the late '80s/early '90s, when they ruled college radio, signed to the indie label everyone wanted to be on (SST Records), and generally moved from being mere (if brilliant) performers/recording artists to becoming a genuine cultural force, merry pranksters manipulating the gullible mass media, and daring to pull down the pants (so to speak) of some of the biggest figures in the music industry. They paid for their hijinks big-time, but ultimately came out the other end bloodied but unbowed. Lo these many years later, as seen in today's post-internet media-overload environment of mashups, youtube, etc., they seem positively visionary. And this performance finds them at the top of their game. Even if you're very familiar with Negativland's "Escape From Noise"/"Helter Stupid"/"U2" era (as I would imagine many, if not most, Maniacs are) this is still a fresh experience, as they take elements from their album tracks and rework them into lovely new mutations.
Negativland Live - Hampshire College 1989
1 - Christianity Is Stupid
2 - Helter Stupid
3 - Escape From Noise
4 - Time
5 - Another Perfect Cut
6 - Free TV Or Pay TV
7 - The Playboy Channel
1 - Playboy Channel 2
2 - Why Don't They Blow Us Up?
3 - I'd Like A Piece Of Meat / Michael Jackson
4 - U2
5 - Car Bomb
This comes to us from maniac Bob Berger. Can't thank him enough. He writes: "Recorded off the sound board onto Maxell XLIIS cassette with whatever tape deck was present, this tape has been legendary among all of my friends for many years. The sound quality is amazing... I've never heard Negativland recorded quite so well... Given our state(s) of mind at that show, I have no idea how we managed to capture this as well as we did... but here it is. At home, I've chopped these bits up into each track as best I could, but I figured that it would be best to preserve the whole show's continuity as two sides of the, now infamous, cassette.
And - hey! - let's not forget to salute "guest vocalists" like the recently departed Casey Kasem, and L.A newscaster Hal Eisner. When on those rare occasions I stumble across Eisner's TV appearances, I chuckle, almost expecting him to say, "This is Hal Eisner. This is stupid."