Archive for 2015

At The High Heel Race

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 28, 2015 by johnbuckley100

High Heel Race

One of the great events in Washington, D.C. is the annual High Heel Race, in which ladies dress up and run down 17th Street as the pre-Halloween crowds cheer them on.

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Queens greet their subjects…High Heel Race-11

And all the beauties come out…High Heel Race-14

And some people take it very, very seriously.

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We love the way it has become a family event, and the crowd it draws is a mixture of the real D.C. — black and white, gays and straights, young and old.High Heel Race-7

Who knows where everyone goes during the daylight hours.High Heel Race-8

All we know is that as Halloween nears, inhibitions seem to drop, and you meet the most interesting people.High Heel Race-13

There’s drama and fun, and wild-side walking makes for a gorgeous evening.

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Until next year.

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All images taken with a Leica Monochrom (typ-246) and 50mm Noctilux.

With The Live Material From 1971 Included, The “Sticky Fingers” Re-release Gets Us Closer To The Promised Land

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 9, 2015 by johnbuckley100

Bardists, as they like to be called, dream of finding an unpublished Shakespeare play.  Our needs are simple: we’ve only been waiting for 40+ years for a decent live album from the greatest tour of all time — the Rolling Stones’ 1972 foray across the U.S. — to emerge from the gauze of bootlegs and into the bright shimmering light of an official release.  As of today, we’re very, very close.

For those who signed up for the Extra Super Duper release of Sticky Fingers, or whatever it’s called, last night came a happy email: all 33 tracks had, like the Midnight Rambler himself, vaulted our hedge and hidden away deep in our iTunes collection.  Yeah, yeah, an acoustic version of “Wild Horses,” and all that.  As far as we’re concerned the release of the Eric Clapton version of “Brown Sugar” simply drives down the value of our red vinyl pressing we’ve carried us with everywhere since 10th grade. The good stuff is the 18-songs worth of live material, recorded on the Stones’ 1971″Farewell Tour” of England, prior to loudly going off as exiles on the main street near St. Tropez.

It’s not the ’72 tour, but it’s the same band with the essential sidemen: Mick Taylor on guitar, Nicky Hopkins on piano, and Jim Price and Bobby Keys on horns.  We call Taylor a sideman, and that’s not really fair, but let us just posit that these four, added to Jagger, Richards, Watts, and Wyman completed what is unquestionably the greatest rock’n’roll live band of all time — a band that could swing, and turn on a dime, and kick at the stall all night.

Some weeks ago, a friend sent us someone’s long rave about how the version of “Midnight Rambler” on the officially released “Brussels Affair” is, I don’t know, the Stones’ most transcendent moment.  Yeah, but that had Billy Preston on it, playing organ! These tracks have Nicky Hopkins.  On piano.  Game over.

It’s weird that we have a partial album recorded at the end of the tour at the Roundhouse in London — “Live With Me,” “Stray Cat Blues,” “Love in Vain,” “Midnight Rambler,” and then “Honky Tonk Women.”  Where’s the rest of me?   Then there is what we assume was the entire set of a concert at Leeds University — “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Live With Me,” “Dead Flowers,” “Stray Cat Blues,” “Love In Vain,” “Midnight Rambler,” “Bitch,” “Honky Tonk Women,” “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Little Queenie,” “Brown Sugar,” “Street Fighting Man,” and “Let It Rock.”  (An aside: whomever was student music coordinator at Leeds U in the ’70/’71 school year deserves to be knighted, for he/she booked, in the same year, the Stones and The Who, out of which came Live At Leeds, and now this. But we digress.)

We’ve heard much of the Leeds set on the bootleg Get Your Leeds Lungs Out, but the sound here is just: So. Much. Better.  We always knew what that show musta sounded like, because the version of “Let It Rock” has been around forever: it was what they had to press onto the Spanish release of Sticky Fingers after the Franco government banned “Sister Morphine.” Here everything is to that level, though perhaps not at a Get Yer Ya-Yas Out level of fidelity.

On both collections, the Stones have some ragged moments, as of course they did: Keith singing off key, Mick Taylor missing his entrance.  But all in, these are fantastic performances by a band approaching its peak.  A song like “Stray Cat Blues” isn’t improved over what came out of the ’69 live recording — you don’t need piano and horns on this relic.  And of course on the ’72 tour, and subsequently over the years, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” came near the end of the set, and Taylor had developed an entire vocabulary of tricks to work into his leads as the show climaxed.  But what’s apparent here is how quickly the Stones incorporated horns and piano into what would become the ephemeral, yet greatest sound of their career, rambling on, as it has done, for 50 years and counting.

We can see why they included the Roundhouse set — it’s better, the band a little crisper, the sound a little warmer.  And after listening to, oh, two dozen boots of different shows from the ’72 tour — such that we can tell you, definitively, the version of “All Down the Line” recorded in New York on July 24th was better than the version they’d played in Ft. Worth — we really don’t mind having versions of “Live With Me” to choose between.  If you are downloading songs one by one, start with the Roundhouse versions.

Last year, when Reprise, or whomever controls the Captain Beefheart estate, released the full Lick My Decals Off, Baby, we checked off one of the key missing pieces of our musical collection.  I guess we can say we are still living for the digital release of Henry Badowski’s 1981 masterpiece, Life Is A Grand.  But honestly, now that we have heard Nicky Hopkins tickle the ivory while the greatest Southern horn duo ever backs up the Stones on a non-bootleg version of “Bitch,” we are just that much closer to the Promised Land.

Wire Plays A Pearl Of A Well-Made Show At D.C.’s Black Cat

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on June 7, 2015 by johnbuckley100

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Almost 40 years since creating the most intriguing, and in many ways, long-lasting debut of the punk era, Wire came to DC last night to play a show that was sinewy, powerful, and occasionally transcendent. From the opening “Blogging” — which kicks off their eponymous 2015 album Wire — to the gorgeous encore close of “Used To” from 1978’s Chairs Missing, Wire proved they are no oldies act.  This was one of the strongest shows we’ve seen in years, old masters comfortable in their skins, who can still show the young ‘uns a trick or two.

When you’ve been around as long as Wire, there are distinct eras, or at least clusters of albums connected by time and personnel.  What’s most delightful about the Wire of today is that, like Dylan on his great run between Oh Mercy and Modern Times, they’ve shown themselves at ease working within the construct that made them great as young men, while still putting out music more vital than most other working bands.  With 2011’s Red Barked Tree, 2013’s Change Becomes Us, and this year’s Wire, their output is, sure, not as “important” as 154 was in 1979.  But that’s like saying Love and Theft isn’t as important as Bringing It All Back Home.  Who cares? Wire’s most recent albums make the case for one of the most vital acts in rock music history, and it’s an exceptionally high quality output for any band, not to mention one formed in 1976.

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Robert (Gotobed) Grey and Graham Lewis still have the metronomic precision of the Atomic Clock, and it was a joy to hear Lewis sing “Please Take” and “Blessed State.”  Grey looks like a beatific and elongated version of Jeff Bezos, closing his eyes in meditation as he directs the band with the certainty of a Swiss train conductor. Colin Newman has always done double duty as an effective punk shouter and a pretty pop singer; harder to do these days live, but all in, his voice was fine.  What was really fun to see was how young Matthew Simms can extend and augment Newman’s guitar playing, occasionally playing these John McGeoch-like leads, often letting Newman carry the song on his electric 12-string.

Many years ago, when assigned to review Document And Eyewitness for NY Rocker, and thinking that the band was kaput (they broke up in 1980, only to come back five years later), we said that Wire was at its most interesting precisely at the moment when its reach exceeded its grasp.  That was true then, but there’s little outside its grasp today.  Last night’s show at The Black Cat saw a band pulling off the hardest trick imaginable: playing a set mostly with songs from albums four decades into their run, leaving no room for nostalgia.

And This Is What They Fought For

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 25, 2015 by johnbuckley100

Memorial Day’s eve, Washington, D.C., May 24th, 2015

Memorial Day Color Speed Racer Crop

Memorial Day Color 2

Memorial Day Color kayaks

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