Archive for ” Galaxie 500

Tulip Frenzy’s Annual Public Service Photograph

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

Doesn’t this just make you feel a little better?

Oh, it makes you feel worse?  Sorry!

Public Service

Jim Marshall’s “The Haight: Love, Rock, And Revolution”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 15, 2014 by johnbuckley100

A couple of years ago, the estate of the great rock photographer Jim Marshall published The Rolling Stones 1972, which contained some of the most iconic photos taken of the Stones as they finished Exile On Main Street and embarked on what inarguably was their best tour.

Now we have something that is in many ways finer — Marshall’s entire oeuvre, or so it would seem, of images taken between 1965 and 1969 as the San Francisco bands, and the spirit they unleashed, changed the world.  The Haight: Love, Rock, And Revolution is the best large book of rock photos and essays since Ethan Russell’s Let It Bleed: The Rolling Stones, Altamont, And The Death of the Sixties.  And what is clear is that, in addition to the great stage shots and band portraits of the Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and the Grateful Dead, Marshall was a genuinely gifted street and event photographer, capturing not just how, say, the Trips Festival looked, but how it felt.

Jim Marshall was the only photographer allowed into the Beatles dressing room when they played their final show ever at Candlestick Park in 1966.  It is a measure of his sheer force of personality that a guy wearing a corduroy suit and with short hair and horn-rimmed glasses could have insinuated his way into the inner circle of the counterculture leaders and the great bands of the day.

The text written by Joel Selvin contains gem after gem, the details piling up in an authoritative manner.  Random sample: here is Selvin on the night in October 1967 when Grace Slick joined the Airplane:

“The first night at Winterland, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band brought onstage a friend from Chicago to jam named Steve Miller, who earned a standing ovation by announcing he was moving to town to form a band.”

Even after leafing through the book for the photos, you go back to the beginning to read every word.

Selvin’s writing, which is more than merely an accompaniment to Marshall’s images, captures the full arc of The Haight, from innocence in an environment where acid was legal, to the curdling of the movement during the Summer of Love, to its collapse amidst speed freaks and tourist busses by the end of 1967.  Read this book and then Sam Cutler’s You Can’t Always Get What You Want to see the sorry conclusion at Altamont, in December ’69.

Back to Marshall’s photographs: this visual document of the rise and fall of the Haight is also, of course, an image-drenched trove capturing both the short-lived artists who did not get out of the ’60s alive and those who stood the test of time.  Worth it alone for the pictures of Hendrix that Marshall made so famous, it is a glorious compendium.

Dean Wareham’s Living Retrospective At DC’s U Street Music Hall

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on April 5, 2014 by johnbuckley100

Wareham 2

In the art world, museums sometimes wait until an artist’s demise before putting on a full retrospective of his or her work.  Dean Wareham’s only 50, but last night at the dark and dank U Street Music Hall we were treated to almost a full career’s worth of his brilliant songwriting, canny guitar playing, his emotionally distant but vibrantly alive sensibility. The set began with “Blue Thunder,” from Galaxie 500’s On Fire, which was released in 1989, and ended with that same band’s “Tugboat.”  In between came some of our favorite Luna songs — “Tiger Lilly,” “Lost In Space” — the title track from last year’s Emancipated Hearts mini-album, and an assortment of good ‘uns from the new Dean Wareham  solo album.  His final cuts, which you knew would include covers, were the Luna staple “Indian Summer” (Beat Happening) and New Order’s “Ceremony.”  Yeah, that’s a career-length assortment, minus anything from Dean & Britta’s best — 13 Most Beautiful — which it seems he likes to play in full, not piecemeal in a set like this.

It’s been about 10 years since we’d seen Wareham, nine years since Luna, our favorite band for many years, called it a day.  We did not seen any of the shows that Dean & Britta played showcasing the Galaxie 500 songbook, so last night was the first time we ever heard them play “When Will You Come Home,” the first time out of the maybe 15 times we’ve seen Wareham play that he reached into his grab bag and uncoiled the astonishing guitar work he exhibited as a 25-year old half of his lifetime ago.  He’s got grayish hair now, and wears solid-framed glasses, looking more like a Harvard professor than the Harvard student he was when Galaxie 500 began, but he can still play. OH man, can he still play.  Which is more astonishing, the solos uncorked in “When Will You Come Home” in 1989 or last night?  Well, 25 years ago, Galaxie 500 made our jaws drop (as we heard them on record), because Wareham and his two bandmates had found a more compelling way to jack into the Sterling Morrison-led version of the Velvet Underground than any band we had at that point heard.  Today, it’s every bit as glorious.

Wareham 3

In recent interviews, Wareham has hinted at a return of Luna, or at least that there is a possibility of this happening, whereas there’s no chance he’ll get back together with Damon and Naomi and play Galaxie 500 songs with the original band.  We loved Luna, and our rock’n’roll life has been just that wee bit emptier without them.  But now that Wareham has released, in the span of four or five months, two collections with songs as amazing as “The Deadliest Day Since The Invasion Began” and “Holding Pattern,” and is willing to tour dipping into a playbook that spans 25 years, we’ll be very content.

Dean Wareham’s Reemergence Is The Most Delightful Thing Happening In Music Today

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on March 15, 2014 by johnbuckley100

There’s a lot of competition for the title of “most important figure in alternative rock not grasped by the masses,” but surely Dean Wareham wins it.  Both his prior bands, Galaxie 500 and Luna, have cult followings, and interestingly they don’t completely overlap — those who adored the prior don’t necessarily love the latter, and vice versa.  We loved both, and not fully satisfied with the first couple of post-Luna Dean & Britta albums, it was a welcome development in late autumn 2013 when Wareham released a really excellent “mini album” entitled Emancipated Hearts.  This past week he released Dean Wareham, his first real solo album, and in and of itself it is worthy of celebration.  Combined with Emancipated Hearts it may justify a reevaluation of Wareham, and the critical appraisal that he’s due.

Wareham’s an unusual figure in rock’n’roll, New Zealand-born, New York City-raised, an attendee of The Dalton School and Harvard who also wrote one of the best rock-star autobiographies ever, Black Postcards, which came out in 2008, three years after Luna’s demise.  He packs a non-standard punch, insofar as Ivy League-educated alternative rock figures go, in that his singing voice has always been an acquired taste, he plays the most tasteful, masterful lead guitar, writes melodies as gorgeous as anything by Dylan or Robyn Hitchcock, and yet even as a clearly strong writer, few of his songs have much lyrical weight to them.  This is one reason, probably, why he’s never been championed by rock critters as the Living Master that he is.  His songs are beautiful, his bands are great, his singing actually is endearing, his guitar playing prompts drooling, but he’s never strived for real profundity as a songwriter.  And in fact, as soon as we heard Luna’s final album, the elegiac and gorgeous Rendezvous, we suspected things were coming to an end, because he could barely bestir himself to populate the songs with something other than nonsense couplets.

Dean & Britta’s 2010 13 Most Beautiful: Songs For Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests, a body of work commissioned by the Warhol Foundation folks in Pittsburgh, was a masterpiece.  And then a few of the songs on Emancipated Hearts, particularly the title track and “The Deadliest Day Since The Invasion Began,” revealed a lyrical weight worthy of Wareham’s obvious literacy and articulation.  He’s trying again, and with Dean and Britta having moved from NYC to a new milieu in Los Angeles, a reemerging Wareham is producing the best music of his long and glorious career.

Dean Wareham is produced by My Morning Jacket’s Jim James and it is an old-fashioned, two-sided LP.  Yes, of course, it’s a digital download and a CD, but it is structured pretty much as two distinct sides.  Something that has always been hard to reconcile is Wareham’s admiration both for the songwriting of his friend Lou Reed and his taste for Glen Campbell.  Yes, you read that right.  But on his solo album, the softer first side and the harder-hitting second half for the first time make these seemingly irreconcilable aspects of his musical personality make sense.  We have spent years culling our favorite songs from Luna albums onto play lists, which assumes also that there are songs we leave behind.  But this is an album you can play all the way through, enjoying everything.

It really takes off in the album’s final 25 minutes, beginning with the breathtaking “Holding Pattern,” but we can’t imagine dropping the first side’s songs out of any playlist.  “Babes In The Woods” finishes with a structure those who loved “Friendly Advice” from Luna’s live shows will surely recognize, and both versions of “Happy & Free” will bring a smile to the faces of anyone who’s spent the evening driving with Galaxie 500 or Luna on the tape deck.

Black Postcards was a book that reminded mamas not to raise their kids to be rock stars, but 25 years or more into his career, Wareham’s status as national treasure is more than confirmed by Dean Wareham.  We think it is his most satisfying album, and that’s really saying something.

Great Interview With Dean Wareham By Rick Moody

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , on October 24, 2013 by johnbuckley100

We are never surprised to read an intelligent essay on music by the novelist Rick Moody, whose thoughts on Brian Eno last year were, to our ears, note perfect.  Now, over at Rumpus.net, Moody has turned his gimlet eye to Dean Wareham, on the occasion of excellent new mini-album, Emancipated Hearts, which we wrote about last week.

First, have we mentioned what a joy it is to have Wareham reengaged at this level — not just putting out a solo album with songs that rank with the best of his work with Luna or Galaxie 500, but also sitting for an interview with so intelligent an interlocutor? Wareham’s sensibility has been missed.  It’s not just the melodies he writes, the tasteful lines woven by his guitar, his quirky, limited, but reassuring singing.  His is a speaking voice that needs to be heard, or at least read on the page.

Read the piece, and the interview.  It’s a calm conversation between two masters of their form.  We greatly enjoyed Wareham’s definition of what he seeks when writing a song.

Rumpus: Is a “state of bliss” the more ordinary goal of the popular song?

Wareham: Well there are different kinds of blissful states. I can get there with Brahms’ “German Requiem” or Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” but also with “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk. But if I look at my own recordings, I think generally there is a focal point within the song and often it’s the instrumental bridge or a guitar solo where we try to do something unexpected, something beautiful or weird, or beautiful because it is weird. And of course I fail half the time, but yes that is the goal, to create even a few seconds of bliss, or sadness. The electric guitar is a great instrument for doing this because it is capable of surprising you. There are so many different sounds available.

There’s more like that there.  And if you haven’t downloaded Emancipated Hearts yet, get cracking.

 

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.

Woods’ “Bend Beyond” Is A Gorgeous Psyche-Folk-Garage Melange, And A Perfect Album

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , on October 25, 2012 by johnbuckley100

If the slot for shimmering alterna-folk in last year’s Tulip Frenzy Top Ten List ™ had not been taken by Kurt Vile’s Smoke Ring For My Halo, then surely Woods’ Sun and Shade woulda made the cut.  An artisanal byproduct of Platonic Brooklyn, where everything is tasty and hand-crafted and somewhat left of center, Sun and Shade was like a Galaxie 500 record produced by Neil Young, punctuated with 7-minute ambient ragas.  It was pretty great, but excellent as it was, it is still a solid step below Woods’ astonishing Bend Beyond, available now in digital music stores hiding just behind your browser window.

Bend Beyond ranks in the Pantheon with Darker My Love’s Alive As You Are, John Hammond’s Southern Fried, Luna’s Penthouse, and The J. Geils Band.  You know where this is heading: yes, the declaration that Bend Beyond is a *perfect* record.  That’s right, perfect.  As we’ve commented before, perfect records are as rare as baseball pitchers’ perfect games.  (Even with that pronouncement, whether it will end up as Tulip Frenzy’s Album of the Year is not yet known, for as perfect as it may be, and it certainly is, the world has to account, and likely this year, for the greatness that is Ty Segall.  Does “World Historical” beat “perfect”?  We shall see.)

Bend Beyond does something we never even considered possible, it is an expression beyond our previously far too limited imagination, for it melds the aforementioned folk-rock marriage between Neil Young and Galaxie 500 to farfisa-lubricated garage rock with ambient traces of psychedelic fireworks exploding softly on the edge of your vision.  Somehow, like a Ben’n’Jerry’s flavor combo moved to the realm of geographic mash-ups, we have achieved this brilliant union of Brooklyn with Woodstock with Topanga Canyon sliding in muddy goo right on top of it, and the tasty output, while perhaps a mite bit lacking in carnivorous gristle, is nourishing and fine.

Go listen to “Find Them Empty” and tell me to my face that if it were slipped into a pail of nuggets taken from Lenny Kaye’s latest archaeological dig, you wouldn’t think it was the ’60s garage find o’ the year.

Tell me — we dare ye — that if you heard “Cali In A Cup” while lying outside on an autumn sunny day, headphones on while you stared at that red leaf falling from a maple tree, you wouldn’t contemplate chucking it all to go work in some Williamsburg wine bar, dedicating your evenings to reading Richard Brautigan novels.

Play “Is It Honest” loud from your Mustang while driving on Sunset Boulevard, and the remnants of the Paisley Underground would all march out with their hands up, their eyes blinking from behind Roger McGuinn half-shades.  “Hey man, what is that?”

It’s Woods’ Bend Beyond.

Like we said, a perfect album.

UPDATE: And so we find they are playing at D.C.’s Red Palace on November 2nd.  Ho ho ho. Can’t wait.

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