Archive for Dean Wareham

Dean Wareham Steers Us To One Of The Great Lost Albums Of The ’70s

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2013 by johnbuckley100

On his masterful new mini-LP, Emancipated Hearts, Dean Wareham plays a cover of the Incredible String Band’s “Air.” We hadn’t thought about the ISB for some years, with the exception of reading producer Joe Boyd’s terrific memoir, White Bicycles, which came out in 2006.  We didn’t love the Incredible String Band, but we really loved the solo album, released in 1971, by Mike Heron, Smiling Men With Bad Reputations.  Let me tell you just a few things about it, which should send you directly to Amazon, which miraculously dropped a copy of the CD  off at our front door after we found our old LP was a mite too scratchy for aural bliss.

ISB was a British folk trio in a Golden Age that produced bands like Fairport Convention.  But Mike Heron, like Dylan before him, was at heart a rocker, and when it came time to step out from the Incredible String Band and produce a solo album, he did so with such friends as Steve Winwood,  Richard Thompson, Dave Mattacks and Dave Pegg, Pete Townshend and Keith Moon, Jimmy Page, Elton John, Ronnie Lane, and John Cale.  Some lineup, huh?  Members of Traffic, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Fairport Convention, the Velvet Underground, and the Faces.  The only bands missing were the Beatles and the Stones.  The album is amazing.

There are a number of highlights, but for us the big one always was the song “Warm Heart Pastry,” which in the original album cover credited “Tommy and the Bijous” as the backup band.  It was, of course, Townshend and Moon, with Ronnie Lane on bass and John Cale on viola, and it is one of the great lost rockers of the era.  The whole thing is a long-lost delight — “Beautiful Stranger” sounds like it was left on the cutting room floor when Dear Mr. Fantasy was produced.  And on the CD, two bonus tracks are included, which brings “Lady Wonder,” with a raucous Jimmy Page playing slashing slide guitar, to light for the first time.

We love the new Dean Wareham album.  We’re especially indebted to him for having given us the added bonus of reminding us about this great lost masterpiece.  Go find Mike Heron’s Smiling Men With Bad Reputations.

Dean Wareham’s Warm Heart Pastry

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Dean Wareham’s Emancipated Hearts was released today.  Not quite an E.P., not quite an album, it is — when the B-side to “Love Is Colder Than Death”  is added to the tally — six new Wareham compositions and a cover of The Incredible String Band’s “Air.”  It is a beautiful, modest collection of songs that make us yearn for more — more Wareham in any form he’s willing to give us: solo artist, in tandem with Britta Phillips, or as a leader of a band.

While “The Deadliest Day Since The Invasion Begins” hauntingly lingers in the mind, the title track, “Emancipated Hearts,” is the stunner here.  When you think about Wareham’s sensibility — writing often gorgeous melodies, post-folk sensitive songs as pretty as anything by Robyn Hitchcock — it’s a revelation to realize we’ve never really heard one of his songs with a piano on it, and only rarely with cello or viola.  Wareham has always surrounded his melodies with delectable guitar lines, so purely in the mode of Sterling Morrison’s work with the Velvet Underground that, in fact, the ur-Luna breakthrough, “Friendly Advice,” even featured Morrison.  Here, though, we have piano and viola as emollients and the resulting raga completes a circle, as “Emancipated Hearts” sounds like it could easily have been a collaboration with the fellow-traveling Velvets acolyte Anton Newcombe on some long lost  Brian Jonestown Massacre album, even as it weaves in the tune from “The Little Drummer Boy.”

On Dean and Britta’s 13 Most Beautiful, Wareham recycled Luna’s “The Enabler” as “Herringbone Tweed,” updating a melody for his post-Luna incarnation.  Here he builds “The Ticking Of The Bomb” on the chassis of Luna’s “Hello Little One,” and with the expanded instrumentation used here, it takes a pleasing melody into breathtaking sublimity.  More of this, sir, please?  In fact, the whole mini-album is a tease, like reading a short story in The New Yorker by your favorite author, and while savoring it, it produces that feeling that will only be satisfied by a whole new book.

We love that he chose to play “Air,” a song by the Incredible String Band, and wish only that he could have recorded ISB leader Mike Heron’s “Warm Heart Pastry.”  This is an aspect of Wareham’s talent that is under-exploited: reviving sounds of late ’60s British folk rock.  Again, let’s have some more of this, Dean, ok?

Last week we wondered if Wareham was hinting at a Luna reunion in his review of the new Mazzy Star album.  We don’t really care what form more music from Dean Wareham comes in: a solo album of requisite length, more work with Britta, reunion of Luna.  It has been about eight years since Luna broke up, and on 13 Most Beautiful and now on Emancipated Hearts we have a reminder of how Dean Wareham is a talent of the first rank, his heart emancipated, his songwriting reliant on more than just his magical guitar work to fulfill a song.  May we have another helping?

UPDATE: The original version of this post stated that this was the first collection ever released by “Dean Wareham.”  Our friends at A Headful of Wishes pushed back on this assertion.  So it turns out the “Anesthesia” E.P., released in 1992, really was a “Dean Wareham” release.  We stand corrected.  Because two of the three songs on it were on Luna’s initial release, Lunapark, and because we never saw the 12″ or 7″ vinyl releases, we always assumed this was Luna, and it was a mistake to credit it to Wareham.  Live and learn.

Is Dean Wareham Saying What We Think He’s Saying?

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , on October 11, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Yesterday, Dean Wareham (Luna, Galaxie 500, Dean & Britta) posted an excellent review of the new Mazzy Star albumSeasons of Your Day.  It was a smart, thoughtful take on an album that, frankly, we’d found disappointing.  It led us back to the album, and yes, its quiet charms revealed themselves as we listened to it longer.  We’re appreciative of  Dean Wareham’s impetus for a reconsideration.

That Wareham is — in addition to being an elegant guitarist and the writer of some the best songs of the last 25 years — a strong writer is not a surprise to us.  Black Postcards, his autobiography, sits on a nearby shelf.

And that his new solo album, out Tuesday, is available for streaming over at Spin.com has been one of the delights of our week.  It’s a partial album — six songs, plus a bonus track — and like 2010’s 13 Most Beautiful: Songs For Andy Warhol — it has tantalizing morsels that remind us of why, when we launched Tulip Frenzy several years ago, our description of it was as “a blog focusing on favorite artists such as Luna…”  There’s a reason why Luna came first in our list of favorite artists.  From 1995 til their breakup in 2005, Luna was, by a long margin, our favorite band.  While we understood why they broke up — an inability to have their music heard by, and their records sold to, a large enough audience; the hard life of a mid-tier band — when they walked away from their goodbye show in New York, it was a dark day around our house.  Wareham’s book was a revelation — other than Keith Richards’ Life, the best rock’n’roll autobiography of all time — but his recorded work with wife Britta Phillips has come out in smallish batches, we missed his touring last year with his Galaxie 500 songbook, and as excited as we are about the gorgeous Emancipated Hearts, we know already it will only pique our yearning for something more, something bigger, a fuller album.

Which is why, when we read yesterday’s review of Mazzy Star’s first record in 17 years, this jumped out at us:

“I have to think that maybe an extended hiatus is a good idea for a band — if you can afford it — just step off the treadmill of touring and writing and recording, and return when you have something to say, when the songs are ready. Aside from the challenge of having to write new songs year in and year out, making records over a long period of time means you have to make an effort to remember your strengths, or what inspired you to make music in the first place, and stay true to that, blocking out extraneous noise from radio, from advisers, fans and critics, magazines and blogs (this last one not even a word when the previous Mazzy Star album came out in 1996).”

Is Dean Wareham hinting that Luna could, under the right circumstances, be reformed?  Is he envisioning a moment when the time for a Luna reunion could be ripe? We can only hope.

The Lost Glove Is Happy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 8, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Some months ago, we commented on the phenomenon of discovering Dean Wareham’s reference to “the lost glove is happy” had an antecedent we’d forgotten about in Nabokov’s Pale Fire.  And then we saw this…  Leica M, 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph.

The Lost Glove

The Lost Glove Is Happy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 5, 2012 by johnbuckley100

For much of the past week, we have been thinking about synchronicity.  No, not the Police album.  More like the theory outlined in Arthur Koestler’s The Roots Of Coincidence, which described causally unrelated events occurring.

This flows from the following: last Saturday, while traveling, we began reading Pale Fire for the first time since college… for the first time, come to think of it, since we read Koestler… and we chuckled when Nabokov’s gloriously unreliable narrator Charles Kinbote relates a proverb from the mythical country of Zembla, that goes, “The lost glove is happy.”  Kind of struck a chord, but we chalked it up to having read the book so long ago.

And then on Monday, for some strange reason, we played Luna’s great 2003 album Rendezvous, whose first song is “Love Dust.”  And about three verses in, Dean Wareham sings:

I’m bad with faces

And worse with names

But the lost glove is happy

It’s all the same

And we about launched from our driver’s seat.  What are the odds of that?  Haven’t played “Love Dust” in a year or more…

Rare Footage Of Luna Playing “23 Minutes In Brussels” From 1995

Posted in Music with tags , , , on March 11, 2012 by johnbuckley100

From Dean Wareham/Galaxie 500/Luna fan site A Head Full Of Wishes comes this fun video of Luna playing “23 Minutes In Brussels” from 1995.  Stanley is still the drummer, Sean still has long hair, and the band sounds good.

Dean Wareham Is Preparing To Record A Solo Album

Posted in Music with tags , , , on January 17, 2012 by johnbuckley100

In a brief and illuminating interview that was published last week, ex-Luna leader Dean Wareham outlines plans for a solo album.  Yes, Britta will be on it, so there’s no news there.  He just avers the boy-girl song-trading has limitations.

Oh, and by the way, his tour diary from the recent Japanese shows he did of Galaxie 500 material was published in the Paris Review.

Here’s a sample:

From the stage tonight I notice three different people crying as I sing “Blue Thunder,” which is a song about the power-steering action in my old 1975 Dodge Dart and doesn’t quite seem worth crying about, though admittedly it is also a song about being alone behind the wheel, and I wail about driving “so far away,” so maybe that’s what did it.

I recently played this song in São Paulo and young Brazilians sang and smiled and danced; it’s odd that the same song evokes smiles in São Paulo and tears in Tokyo. Of course there can be joy and sadness in a song at the same moment, and when you have been waiting five or ten or twenty years to hear a song live, it can hit you with surprising force.

Read the whole thing.  It’s fun, and as we know from Black Postcards, the man can write.

 

%d bloggers like this: