Archive for Exile on Main Street

With “Muchacho,” Phosphorescent Shines Beyond Its Half-Life

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 22, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Matt Houk, who plys his trade under the band name Phosphorescent, has long been a golden-throated marvel, but on the magnificent new Muchacho, he answers three questions that long have puzzled us.

Ever wonder how good Dylan’s late-phase greats would sound if sung by someone whose voice hadn’t been dragged four times across cooling magma?  We used to joke, Mrs. Tulip Frenzy and I, about how Dylan should call Jakob to do the honors.  But the moment we we heard the magnificent “Song For Zula,” we knew Matt Houk was the only one who would do Dylan justice.  You could imagine “Song for Zula” on anything from about Time Out Of Mind on; it’s that good.

And then there’s this question that long has lingered: when will someone record an album that you could segue to directly from the second side of Exile On Main Street, you know, something that combines pedal steel and Memphis horns, something warm and bright as “Loving Cup,” with also that hazy, lazy mystery? If you’ve ever asked that question, yep, Muchacho is for you.  On “The Quotidian Beasts” and other songs we can hear echoes of that notional state where it’s 1971 all over again, and Mick and Keith are in the basement with Nicky Hopkins upstairs in the living room, and Jim Price and Bobby Keys are down the hall in that haunted Southern France mansion, as Gram Parsons lies conked out on the couch.

Speaking of Gram Parsons, our third question has for years been would anyone capture his essence the way the young Ryan Adams did on Whiskeytown’s Strangers Almanac?  If that question’s ever crossed your mind, go get Muchacho.  Like at once, hombre.

In a way, Muchacho is two records.  There are the songs, like “Song for Zula,” that really are Houk recording by himself, with strings or other instruments added on later.  And then there are songs with that full band treatment used to such great effect on Here’s To Taking It Easy, and To Willy, his album of Willy Nelson covers.  And a killer band it is, Whiskeytown being a not unfair approximation.

Phosphorescent burns tantalizingly bright in the night, and so it is with Houk, whose glow we pray last’s beyond the half-life of the artist.

Thanks Uncut, For The Deadstring Brothers, Shaky Hands

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on March 13, 2010 by johnbuckley100

In the Uncut Magazine that serves up heaping platters of remembrance and enigmatic quotes from The Glimmer Twins about the upcoming archaeological exhibit from Exile On Main Street, they include their wonderful monthly gift of a free CD, this time comprising bands that sound like they’ve spent as much time listening to the Stones as the gang at Tulip Frenzy.  Now, some of the usual suspects are present — components of the Drive-By Truckers, Dan Baird — and yet there are some notable omissions — how can you have a compilation of Stones soundalikes without anything by Izzy Stradlin and the Ju-Ju Hounds?  There are also a number of bands/artists featured that we’d either never heard of or never taken the plunge for, e.g. Deer Tick, Israel Nash Gripka.  However, there are two stand-outs so worthy of  breaking out of the pack that we choose to feature them here:

The Deadstring Brothers

The Michigan-based Deadstring Brothers are showcased with a song called “Houston” from their 2009 album Sao Paolo, and as an intro, it’s a pretty good reminder that in the early ’70s, the Stones were as much an influence on Southern Rock as on the culture at large.  I mean, “Houston” could as easily be featured on a Lynyrd Skynyrd homage.  However, the title track sounds like what might have happened if Oscar-award winner Ryan Bingham had stumbled onto the set of Performance, as it has almost perfect Ry Cooder-Keef jamming chops underneath a scratchy-voiced, hair-chested vocal.  And the whole album stakes out that region between Dallas, Texas and the Butter Queen and Mick’s estate with the Rolling Stones Mobile Truck parked out front to record Sticky Fingers. Maybe throw in Big Pink in Woodstock for a full sense of the geography they cover. What a revelation these guys are!  Nicky Hopkins has clearly come back from the dead to play the piano pieces, and is that Merry Clayton and Kathi McDonald on the backup vocals?  Sao Paolo should have been on everyone’s Top Ten list from 2009, and here’s the good news: these guys are prolific, and promise more stuff in 2010.

The Shaky Hands

This Portland, Oregon combo come out of a different Stones tradition, and interestingly enough given their rainy surroundings, it’s not the one where they’re woodshedding in Redlands with John Phillips and Marianne Faithful’s Milky Way bar.  On their 2009 release Let It Die, The Shaky Hands prove they come more out of the pop-anthemic “Start Me Up” school of Stones classicism. Remember how great that first Kings Of Leon album sounded?  You’ll love these guys: tight and twisted three-chord rockers with throbbing beats and a lead guitarist who probably thinks Steve Cropper’s guitar solos had too many notes in ’em.

Thank you Uncut for turning us on to these two bands in particular.

In Preparation For The Re-Release of “Exile On Main Street”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 12, 2010 by johnbuckley100

News that the Rolling Stones would in April release a remastered version of Exile On Main Street, complete with three songs never before released, is an event the anticipation of which led Tulip Frenzy to reach for the top shelf in the library. Around these parts, we don’t have a headful of snow, but we have roads full of it, which makes getting out of the cabin treacherous, and encourages contemplation of deep thoughts, to wit, “Is Exile the Stones’ greatest album?  Or perhaps more apt, is the making of Exile, followed by the Stones ’72 tour, the greatest of rock myths, up there with the motorcycle-shredded Dylan recording The Basement Tapes, or the Beatles, having bickered their way through Let It Be, deciding to end fittingly with Abbey Road.”

Having pondered it, we think the answer to both questions may be yes.

We have before us Bufffalo Tom  frontman Bill Janovitz’ superb book, a track by track analysis in the 33 1/3d series entitled, natch, Exile On Main Street. We have Robert Greenfield’s 2006 book, Exile On Main Street: A Season In Hell With The Rolling Stones, as well as his ’72 tour classic, STP. We finally got our hands on both the DVDs of  Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones, and Robert Frank’s tour film, C*cksucker’s Blues. Like we said, it’s been a long few weeks with few outlets.  We do not have Dominique Tarle’s book of photos, Exiles, because that goes for about $4k, and we admit we didn’t go back to the bible — Stanley Booth.  But still.

Greenfield’s book on the making of Exile, published many years after the fact, does a superb job of creating the mise en scene, as he actually was, for a time, at Nellcote, Keith Richards’ tax-exiled home in Villefranche-sur-Mer in the South of France — the former Nazi headquarters, a sprawling villa with a basement suitable of being remade into a recording studio, though as “Ventilator Blues” would illustrate, not much air.  Thirty-five years after the fact, years after being approved by Keith to do the definitive Rolling Stone Magazine interview and being invited on as a journalist member of the ’72 Stones Touring Party (STP), Greenfield has no reason to cover up Keith’s junkie behavior, and he lays it out in full.  Judging from his book, it is a miracle Exile was recorded, given the dysfunction of the band — Mick freshly married to Bianca, who was pregnant and wanted to stay in Paris, well away from the band and the record they had to record; Keith and Anita Pallenberg getting deeper and deeper into smack; virtually everyone else, save Charlie and Bill, falling down the junkie rabbit hole.  Amazing the record ever got made.

What Greenfield’s book lacks is the same thing his Stones tour book lacked: a sense, or even an acknowledgement, of the primacy of the bloody music.  (Compare STP to Michael Lydon’s brilliant, majestic Stones ’69 tour chapter in his great book Rock Folk. Lydon could cover the wackiness of a Stones tour AND serve as a great rock critic, groking on the music; Greenfield can paint a picture of what went down in the Playboy Mansion when the Stones stayed there, but we don’t get a real sense of just how magnificent the Stones were when they played that same night in Chicago.) In his book on the recording of Exile, we know who was sleeping with whom, we learn the really sad story of Gram Parsons hanging with Keith and partying with him, and then being banished because when he was around, all they did was play guitar in the garden and shoot smack.  But we don’t get what we really need, which was a view of how, exactly, was “Tumbling Dice” recorded, what happened the night they finally got “All Down The Line” in the can, etc.

Martin Elliott’s The Rolling Stones Complete Recording Sessions is, of course, even more useless, with hilarious sentences like this: “The problems of recording in a family situation at the villa were evident.  Tempers became frayed, the band being particularly annoyed when Keith Richards would disappear for hours as he put his son, Marlon, to bed.  He would reappear in the early hours ready to record until dawn.”  Isn’t that something?

Bill Janovitz does the far better job of just listening to music and telling us what he hears.  If you put together his insights as a musician with some of the interviews with Andy Johns and others over how the album was actually made, you do get a sense of the prodigiousness of Keith’s drive to get what he was hearing in his junkie-addled head onto the vinyl that emerged in May 1972.  Janowitz has a pretty fascinating point of view that many of songs revolve not around Mick writing about some woman, but about the Mick-Keith relationship, and I admit, I will never again listen to “Soul Survivor” without thinking of Jagger’s point of view that his “partner in crime” was drowning in smack.

Of course, it’s all there in the music, that clotted sound, that turgid flow.  Whole genres emerged from Exile: Alt.country came from the 2nd side, for example, and the classic Stones sound that launched a thousand bands sprang from the 4th side.

Watching Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones is a reminder that, on the ’72 tour, the Stones reached the high water mark, not just for themselves, but maybe for the art form: musically, and in terms of the tour mythos, and certainly in terms of a single band’s tour having an impact on the culture at large.  I remember what it was like to be going to the Stones’ concerts that summer: you felt as if you were entering the most important room in the world.  And of course it was.

We await the remastering of Exile On Main Street.  Spring can’t arrive soon enough.

New Songs From “Exile On Main Street”?

Posted in Music with tags , on January 16, 2010 by johnbuckley100

Uncut reveals that the remastered version of  the Rolling Stones masterpiece Exile On Main Street will be released on April 12th.  But if that information sets the heart beating fast, consider this:  It will include three previously unreleased songs.  Now, neither “Following The River,” “Plunder My Soul,” nor “Sophia Loren” show up in Martin Elliott’s The Rolling Stones Complete Recording Sessions,” and we don’t seem to have them on any of the bootlegs stored deep in the secure vaults of Tulip Frenzy World HQ.  So this is a very exciting announcement, and we’ve but 90 days or so until we see if this is right.

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