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Bobby Conn (live at The Lexington)

London 23 June 2013

There is a particularly caustic line in “Losing My Edge,” LCD Soundsystem’s scathing critique of changing musical fashion, that sums up perfectly much of what happened between the mid Nineties and the early Noughties:

I hear that you and your band have sold your guitars and bought turntables. I hear that you and your band have sold your turntables and bought guitars.

After 1994, with Cobain dead by his own hand and Sonic Youth showing the first signs of possible early-onset senility with the lacklustre Experiment Jet Set, Trash and No Star (thankfully a rather premature diagnosis), guitar music seemed to be everywhere in retreat. In so many places it was in a sorry state, lying in the gutter with a stake through its heart. As nature abhors a vacuum, it became instead an era of massed turntablism, of solitary combat-trousered figures hunched

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Bobby Conn – Macaroni

Fire

The hardest working little man in show-business is back. Inventor of the Continuous Ca$h Flow System™, Anti-Christ, appliqué kitten fan, Chicago’s finest Juedo-Christian edutainer, Bobby Conn has, since his first album in 1997, taken more sobriquets for a walk than Tom Cruise has made turgid sequels to Mission Impossible. In a career with ludicrous highlights such as the original video for “Never Get Ahead” (eye-shadowed Bobby in preposterous crimson shell suit falling all over the floor before gawky and bemused teens on Chic-A-Go-GO) and his eye-wateringly evil cover of “[post=bobby-conn-llovessonngs-ep text=”Without You”]” (Anton LaVey plays the hits of Badfinger!), life is never dull with Bobby around. Oh no.

And so, Mr Conn’s sixth album proper, Macaroni, arrives clad in a typically

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Bobby Conn – Winners

Label: Thrill Jockey Format: CDS

Bobby Conn - WinnersA five remix CD of a track from his album The Golden Age presents the man in full Seventies flow with lashings of Disco, Pop and Soul all decked out in fake chest wig, flares that defy measurement and cripplingly fashionable platform soles. The almost falsetto voice is all petulance with the ghosts of Marc Bolan and Michael Jackson jockeying for prominence. There are even shades of Zappa‘s cheesier Seventies horns. How could anyone resist lines like “So come on over in your Range Rover”?

There isn’t a lot to choose between the first two mixes but the “Sleeping Baby Mix” keeps the best features of the original one and shreds them, stretches them and turns the vocal into a few whispers over the guitar and horns. Similarly the final

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Bobby Conn (live)

Bobby ConnThe Garage, London 7 May 2002

The Bobby Conn Band chorus lineThere’s been a fair amount of good press come Bobby Conn‘s way since he last visited these shores in February. Appreciative album and live reviews in the national papers. A full page photo (wearing a lurid 80’s shellsuit) and enthusiastic write-up from Ted Kessler in the 4th of May edition of the NME. Badly Drawn Boy Damon Gough‘s description of The Golden Age as “the best album he’d heard in a decade,” can’t exactly have hindered the spreading of the Word either, for reasons of his celebrity if nothing else. Then there’s the upcoming show supporting Supergrass at the Royal Festival Hall on the 28th of June as part of David Bowie‘s otherwise appallingly billed Meltdown. All in all, it seems that Bobby’s star is on the rise.

I have

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Bobby Conn (live)

Monica BouBouTrash @ The End, London 11 February 2002

Bobby Conn The End is a fairly bad venue for a live gig. The room where Bobby Conn is playing tonight is wide but not deep enough to hold the capacity crowd who have sweated their way into the bar area to witness Chicago’s favourite Judeo-Christian Edutainer develop his own particlar brand of FM Radio cabaret Art-Rock. Add in the lack of monitors for the group, and it’s quite a pleasant surprise when the sound is actually acceptable after all, even if the crush is a little close for comfort. When Conn and his band eventually sweep onstage, it’s to the stunned laughter of a crowd who’ve just witnessed the sartorial elegance of a group decked out specially for the night in charity shop shell suits and Scandinavian Black

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Bobby Conn – The Golden Age

Label: Thrill Jockey Format: CD,LP

The Golden Age - sleeve detail Welcome to the end of the world. With civilization on the brink of destruction, and all those Biblical prophecies starting to look not quite so funny, the inimitable Bobby Conn bounds back onto the scene, perversely enough eschewing the eschatological apocalypses of Rise Up! and giving us an album of (among many other things), good time sleazy RAWK’n’RAWL!!! Yeah!

Coming on like a camp Lou Reed, or a butch Prince, the boy Conn kicks in with “A Taste Of Luxury”, a narcotic swoop through Jason Pierce‘s Velvet Underground collection, bombastic strings never quite hiding the Garage guitar strum below. It’s pleasant enough, though fucked. Then, however, the true madness begins with “Angels”, a tale of drug-induced psychosis and attempted suicide that starts with a kind of laid-back strut punctuated by Bobby’s whoops and

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An Interview with Mr Bobby Conn

November 2000

Mr. Bobby ConnBobby Conn does his very best to be the model of a post-Modern underground superstar. His two albums to date, Bobby Conn and Rise Up!, have placed him somewhere in a grey area between parody and genuine adulation of crooners, cabaret singers and all-round stars of the spangly stage. This interview took place after his New Orleans gig in November 2000, and as Bobby remarked “I could talk for hours about my favourite subject – myself!”. Fortunately, what the creator of the Continuous Cash Flow System has to say in person is usually as entertaining as his remarkable songs.

FREQ: What was the main motivation for you to start out portraying this particular image you have, as Judeo-Christian Edutainer, as a sort of Antichrist cabaret singer?

Bobby Conn: Egomaniacal delusions that I’ve had since I was a

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Bobby Conn/The Sex Hunter (live at the Shim Sham Club)

New Orleans 12 November 2000

The Sex HunterAgain, a third way around the world and this time for Bobby Conn. This is the Shim Sham Club, 615 Toulouse Street. A round of jokes on that one and 19,000 Heart Association convention goers available to egg it on (“Why are the French Navy’s bases on the Mediterranean like their sailor’s trousers? They are both Toulon and Toulouse…”). Other venues imitate this decor: shutters on real windows, glitter gold stage curtains, lesbian chic bathroom graffitti and the odd cobweb strung out over dark and ancient mirrors. The Amerikan accents are assaulting and this is a bit of Amerika with its own language. “Simmer down” means something here. No matter how hard I search the young faces for familiarity, I remember I am a stranger here.

To warm up the 30 odd audience is New Orleans (not so) boy

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Bobby Conn – Llovessonngs EP

Label: Thrill Jockey Format: CDS,12″

Mr. Bobby ConnFour songs of love as seen through the Continuous Cash-FlowTM filter of Mr. Bobby Conn, Chicago, hell, the world‘s most curious of crooners and estimable heir to the Seventies legacy of Funk-Soul-Rock singer-songwriter troubadour anti-messiahs. In other words, a star.

Llovessonngs - sleeveThere are two new songs from Mr. C. himself – “Free Love”, an epic, near-histrionic bass-slapping time-signature mangler and possessor of a typically twisted lyric: “Where have all the dirty, dirty people gone?” – and “Virginia”, sung as a soaring duet in French with the subject of the song herself. Then comes the eye-opening rendition of Badfinger‘s “Without You” (though apperently inspired by the Harry Nilsson version – who knows if Mariah Carey‘s aspartame massacring of the song got a look in) – slowed to a crawl, in

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Bobby Conn + Penthouse (live)

The Dublin Castle, London 16th October 1998 +Penthouse; Stoke Newington, London 17th October 1998

There can be few experiences as strange or as wonderful as when Bobby Conn and band show up in town in a flurry of wigs, imposture and post-Glam Rock attitude. Truly an eventful, landmark kind of proceeding, where the atmosphere rocks by itself, and the band play on as if they were the only group in the world worthy of an audience’s complete attention. Blasting off on at the Dublin Castle (which must be the ultimate in too-hip Camden rock boozers), Mr. Conn is suitably clad in leather trousers and aggression – hence the opening salvo “Rise Up!,” which only left “United Nations” to inform the crowd that they were in the presence of hardcore, in-yer-goddamned-face Rock Opera.

Dramatic as the opening was, it had a downside in that what followed couldn’t quite match the full-on

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Bobby Conn – Rise Up!

Label: Truckstop/Atavistic Format: CD, LP

Bobby Conn – Rise UpComing across like Jesus Christ Superstar on (more) acid, Chicago’s favourite Judeo-Christian Edutainer Bobby Conn is out to save your soul and wallet from resisting temptation. Aided in his Millenialist assault on reason by sundry members of (among others) Brise-Glase, Flying Luttenbachers, Rome and the production efforts of Jim O’Rourke, Conn conjours a straight-faced vision of an alternate universe where Seventies meet Nineties. Counterpointed by the string arrangements of Monica BouBou, Rise Up! is a concept album which exhorts America to destroy itself in readiness for the End Times, revelling in the decadence and urging further excess, just to tip the balance towards Apocalypse. That this is is acheived through alarmingly accurate pastiches of Glam Rock, Pop and Soul tunes is remarkable enough, all wrapped up in

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