LIVE - Luna (The Arena Rock Recording Co.)
After the 11th of September, I couldn't listen to music for about two weeks. It seemed a frivolous distraction, and I was too busy watching the continuous news broadcasts. Even after those stopped, I found it hard to give a shit about rock'n'roll. I wanted to spend time connecting with the people who are important to me - family and friends, both nearby and scattered around the globe. I didn't stop playing music, though - rehearsing the band my guitar partner and I have come to think of as "the children's crusade" seemed like therapy. I needed to be DOING something, and I found that even though we were spending what some might deem an inordinate amount of time coaching and training young, inexperienced players (a vocalist with the pipes, if not the control, of a young Grace Slick, and two bassplayers of varying knowledge/ear/work ethic), teaching them our songs AND the fundamentals of performance, I liked watching them develop, and sometimes when we'd play, I'd actually feel us entering that psychic/spiritual/interpersonal space that's like heroin to anyone who's ever experienced it...a GROOVE was starting to emerge.
I was on a "material search" one day (looking for a copy of "Rock and Roll Animal" after reading Geoff Ginsberg's interview with Dick Wagner that you'll be able to read soon on the Bar) and stumbled on a copy of this album. Both Geoff and Rev. Wayne Coomers of the First Church of Holy Rock'n'Roll swear by these guys (although they're curiously divided on the subject of Joe Levy's liner notes for this alb - Geoff hates 'em, the Rev. loves 'em) - high recommendation. Their proximate model, supposedly, is the Velvet Underground (the gentle and lyrical side of), and I've always been a sucker for that kind of jive...in fact, what with the imminent release of the first volume in the long-rumoured "bootleg series" (which I first heard of when I interviewed Doug Yule and Mo Tucker for my very first foray into rockjournalismo a coupla years back), I'm about due for a Velvet (and fellow-travelers) binge. (I just ordered the first Modern Lovers alb from Half.com so I can put "Roadrunner" on a tape I'm making for Peta to listen to in the car, now that she has her license.)
First impression: how sexy this music is...for a bunch of wimps. Dean Wareham might not be as TUNELESS of a vocalist as Lou, but he definitely has about as much vocal dynamism as Doug Yule did, or Lou at his most flaccid. As a gtrist, it's hard not to notice that Wareham and his partner Sean Eden are the kinda players who rely on devices for their tones, but that's nitpicking. There's something about this music...the easy, rhythm guitar-driven groove; the detail and humour in the lyrics ("You're out all night chasing girlies/You're late to work and you go home earlies"; "Exhibit number two/A piece of white chocolate...Exhibit number eight/Aww, don't be late")...that makes it seem like the perfect fuck soundtrack for intelligent people. Sure, it's possible listen to the album song-by-song, playing "spot-the-Velvets-inspiration" (mostly third and fourth album), but it's so much more enjoyable to just lie back and let the poppy chorus and soaring guitar jam of "Friendly Advice" wash over you, or savor the moment when lovely bassist Britta Phillips sings in French. Sonic similarities to the VU aside, the songwriting's really more redolent of late-period (post-"New York") Lou, and that's a compliment.
All I know is that this rec has been the soundtrack of my life for the past coupla weeks...some profoundly satisfying jams, and a heart-healing listen. - Ken Shimamoto
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