Archive for October, 2009

The Reigning Sound’s “Love And Curses” Is Sovereign Over All

Posted in Music with tags , , on October 16, 2009 by johnbuckley100

The Governor of North Carolina has a weekend retreat high above Asheville, North Carolina.  It would be a nice place for a tea party — or the rockingest hoedown with local garage rock royalty, The Reigning Sound.  I can see the ghost of Zelda Fitzgerald doing the frug with Root Boy Slim, and Thomas Wolf twisting with Andie McDowell.

What is a band that make such a din doing in the Smoky Mountains? Much to the chagrin certainly of record store clerks, possibly of bartenders, and undoubtedly all the hep cats in Memphis, Tennessee, Greg Cartwright up and left for Asheville sometime after Time Bomb High School. With a voice that can range from John Lennon circa “Twist and Shout” to Plimsouls-era Peter Case to Paul Westerberg on “Sadly Beautiful,” Cartwright runs the gamut from blue-eyed soul to roots rock belters. I liked Too Much Guitars, but let’s just say there was truth in advertising when it came to that 2004 album.   Love And Curses, which is tearing up the charts at least on my iPod, sounds like it was produced by Alan Betrock, from session tapes bootlegged from Crawdaddy rehearsals.  Fast or slow, hard or soft, The Reigning Sound sits on the true throne of real rock’n’roll.

Garage rock is a lost art, like changing your own engine oil.  Recondite skills are needed, rites to be observed.  Let’s face it, we love him, but don’t really know what to make of King Khan, and now that The Soledad Brothers have bitten the dust, and The Chesterfield Kings are wheezing, only The Fleshtones seem to know the way to Hitsburg, USA.

Ah, but in a world dominated by bar codes and not nearly enough bar chords, Love and Curses shines through.  Give it up for royalty, these blue bloods of rock’n’roll play the hemophiliacs’ twang.  Go listen to “Broken Things” or the Mekon-esque “If I Can’t Come Back” and banish all the pretenders.

Punk Takes The Top Slot

Posted in Music with tags , on October 13, 2009 by johnbuckley100

It’s been a long time since there was a punk record atop o’ the pops.  Maybe it’s been 18 years.  Oh, I know, Green Day’s an alleged punk band and they’ve had some hits. But Green Day’s a Top 40 band with a three-chord wind up. It actually took Pearl Jam’s Backspacer to do what hasn’t been done since cross-town rivals Nirvana got there almost a generation ago: get punk played according to the loudfast rules at the apex of the Billboard.  Surely “The Fixer” is the best and hardest-rocking song to promote an album on a national television ad since, ok, “Vertigo.”  And while some of the album sounds like it could have been made by Cracker — I’m serious, listen to “Got Some,” which even has a title like it’s a Cracker song — it would take a hard heart not to appreciate how much fun Eddie and the boys appear to be having on this one.  There have been comparisons to R.E.M.’s Accelerate — an abbreviated set that sounds like the studio walls probably collapsed from the sheer sonic propulsion — but Pearl Jam not only kicks harder, unlike R.E.M., this band was actually constructed to play punk rock (those early two-by-fours whacking us across the head with earnestness notwithstanding.)  They’ve always had a Ramones underbelly, sometimes hidden, sometimes scratched, but who knew they had a Dave Edmunds thing going on, too (“Supersonic.”) It’s always good to hear punk rock excellently made, and that the kids seem to like it augurs well for Western Civ.

The Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on October 11, 2009 by johnbuckley100

Leica M9.  Summilux 35 at f/1.4, 1/400oth, ISO 160


Tinariwen’s Desert Blues

Posted in Music with tags on October 11, 2009 by johnbuckley100

The  best blues band in the world comes from the Sahara, not the Mississippi Delta.  WhenTinariwen’s Aman Iman: Water Is Life came out a few years ago, I found it soothing as a sirocco wind that had made its way from the Atlas Mountains to a Portofino cafe.  Imidiwan: Companions has a bit more grit to it.  The entire oasis comes out to sing in the background while the menfolk dig into these sinuous guitar lines that would make Buddy Guy and Hubert Sumlin reach for the axes, and scorpions skitter under palm trees.  Tuareg folks songs are a long way from Robert Johnson at the crossroads, but maybe not so far.  Maybe from Mali to the Okavango Delta is as far as it is from Chicago to Clarksville, Mississippi.  All I know is Imidiwan: Companions proves not everything that Gaddafi had his hand in turned out to be bad. (Yes, there is some limited truth to the rumor that the band formed from Muammar al-Gadaffi’s machinations against his Maliean neighbors.  It appears there really was this camp where soldiers trained, and at night they listened to desert blues around the campfire, and yeah, Tinariwen was the house band. Or so they say.) Under the sheltering sky, I can’t think of better music to listen to, and you can be sure that when Tulip Frenzy assembles its list of the 10 best albums of 2009, it won’t find ten others to push this one from the position it so richly deserves.  It might not find one.

M9 And Autumn Fields In Maryland

Posted in Uncategorized on October 10, 2009 by johnbuckley100

Leica M9, Summilux 21_-6

Do The Rolling Stones Finally Get It?

Posted in Music with tags , , on October 9, 2009 by johnbuckley100

On November 3rd, not quite but approximately the 40th anniversary of the Rolling Stones’ epic three-night Thanksgiving Weekend stint at Madison Square Garden in New York, the former “greatest rock’n’roll band in the world” is releasing a big box set commemorating the occasion.  What’s notable is that, for the first time, the Stones are digging into the vault and releasing live material we haven’t heard before.*

Yes, they pad the box set with a CD of Ike and Tina Turner and BB King’s performances as warm-up acts — where’s Terry Reid? — but the big news is this box set has the Stones performing “Under My Thumb” and “I’m Free,” as well as “You Gotta Move” and “Prodigal Son.”  Seems like a mighty big effort, and a big expense, just to get one’s paws on those four songs, but it’s the precedent that matters.  Other than on the great bootleg Liver Than You’ll Ever Be, and in snippets from Gimme Shelter, we haven’t heard these songs from this tour (‘less you were there.)

My theory on why the Stones have never dipped into their back live catalogue — most especially the soundtrack to the 1972 tour’s concert film Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones — is because decades after the Stones have had anything memorable to say, and years after they were anywhere close to being “the greatest” anything other than maybe moneymakers, they don’t want people to compare their current performances to the old ones.  Let’s face it, the moment Mick Taylor walked out the door and Ron Wood stumbled in, it was over as far as the Stones’ greatness on stage was concerned.  So they suppress the back catalogue of live shows.

They are the opposite of Bob Dylan, in every way.  Dylan is as vital in this decade as as he was in the 1960s, and in my opinion, more vital than he was in the ’70s and ’80s.  He keeps giving us these gifts in The Bootleg Series of shows and sessions we never thought would see the light of day.  He operates with vitality in the present tense and astonishes us with these remnants.  The Stones are parsimonious with their back catalogue and are just going through the motions as a “band” today. (It’s Mick, Keith, and Charlie, affixed to Ron Wood, who I still wish could be traded back to The Faces for a plectrum and a drum kit to be named later.)

So breaking into the vault for the four songs from 1969, when the Stones shook the rust off and officially ended the ’60s playing Chuck Berry as well as the greatest rock songs of all time — “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Street Fighting Man,” and a list too long to mention here– to audiences that couldn’t believe their good fortune, is a real occasion.

It’s a good move.   Please, sir, may I have more?

* Yeah, I know they put out a “rarities” album a year or two back, which did include the version of “Let It Rock” they played in the early ’70s, but we already had that from the Spanish version of Sticky Fingers as the substitute for the banned “Sister Morphine.”  All the other live songs came from the time following Moment It All Went Downhill — Ron Wood’s arrival.

Leica M9 Lifts Fingerprints From Glass

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on October 6, 2009 by johnbuckley100

75mm Summilux, wide open at ISO 160


Black Mountain’s “Druganaut” In Buick Lacrosse Ad

Posted in Music with tags , on October 6, 2009 by johnbuckley100

Pigs fly, cows jump over the moon, ice cubes rattle in the devil’s tumbler.  I just was watching the Packers and Vikings on Monday Night Football when what did my little ears hear but Black Mountain’s “Druganaut” in a Buick ad.  Black Mountain!  “Druganaut”!  Here’s hoping Stephen McBean gets a ski chalet at Whistler Mountain out of the deal.  Does the US government know that taxpayer dollars are funding “Druganaut” to market those crappy Buicks?

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