A few evenings ago I watched the documentary Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and the Story of Smile by filmmaker David Leaf on Showtime. Although the backdrops for the talking heads—ranging from Elvis Costello to Roger Daltry, from Jeff Bridges to a bunch of people who were with Wilson in the early days—were distracting and annoying, the story Leaf and those talking, especially Sir George Martin acknowledging the brilliance of Wilson, more than eclipsed that.
One of the most-striking aspects of Beautiful Dreamer—and let’s note that the song “Beautiful Dreamer” was written by Stephen Foster, who lived only until age 38—is how young Wilson appears in the studio when he is crafting extraordinary works like Pet Sounds. And what is even more startling is how fragile he seems when preparing to finish and perform Smile live in London in 2004.
While it is encouraging that Wilson was able to pull himself out of the psychological miasma that he was long working through, it gives me pause to think that it seems like a good idea to someone that the Beach Boys, a version that has the person who was most instrumental in creating what we think of when that title is used, not the version that has been playing at state fairs and corporate gigs, get together to perform live and to record.
There’s magic. Then there’s merchandise. And the Beach Boys circa 2012 is probably going to be more about the latter.
Well, the NME has done it again. Whether through constant haranguing via the publication of rumors, amazing sources with inside information, or dumb luck and wishful thinking, the voice of British music news has seemingly brought about another reunion. And this is no ordinary reunion, but one of the least likely and most wanted among anglophiles: The Stone Roses.
After 17 years, the band that launched Madchester will play two confirmed dates in June, 2012 and then a reported “world tour” to follow. Additional dates have not been announced and this is where I get worried: June is a long ways away and the Roses have never been the most reliable band. Not to be a buzz kill on your ecstasy-fueled rave, but a lot can happen in eight months…or worse, nothing at all.
The Stone Roses’ fame begins in earnest in the summer of 1989 when their debut album spread its druggy-pop sensibilities around the world, from one hip record store to another until little baggy jean communities popped up like pimples on a fresh face. Despite their legend, the Roses were never a HUGE band on the scale of U2 or Depeche Mode, but their influence was felt and it was deep. The release of their nearly ten minute dance-rock classic “Fool’s Gold” (originally the b-side to “What the World Was Waiting For”) established the band among the hip as THE BAND of the moment, especially in the UK where they were a big commercial success.
Whether tempted by dollar signs or friendlier confines, the Stone Roses decided it was time to leave their label Silvertone and fulfill their promise to rule the world. Little did they, or anyone else, know that they’d be tied down in court for four years unable to release new material until they’d extracted themselves from a five-year contract.
Never one humbled by their fame, The Stone Roses finally returned with their second album, The Second Coming. While aging better than initial reviews would have you believe, it was less than rapturous and the band finally broke down in 1996 when guitarist John Squire left the band barely a year after drummer Reni had already called it quits. It was a whimpering end to a spectacular band.
For nearly two decades the band’s image grew beyond its actual history and a band with two albums and a handful of singles was now revered as “the last great British band.” Nobody—not Oasis, not The Libertines, not The Arctic Monkeys—could touch their legacy. It was such that John Squire scrawled the following words on a piece of his art in 2009:
“I have no desire whatsoever to desecrate the grave of seminal Manchester pop group The Stone Roses.”
Which leads us to this week. Rumors of their reunion have come and gone for years. It seemed ridiculous to even consider given the public acrimony between Squire and singer Ian Brown. But time heals and here we are. And make no mistake, I am excited. Enough that I have already declared that I will break my top price ceiling of $50 to see any artist live. I will do what I must to see any US dates. But I am worried. The Stone Roses were never a great live band. Ian Brown’s not a strong vocalist and Squire’s guitar playing hasn’t been heard in years. Reni himself said that drummers should hang up their sticks when they hit 35—this was AT the press conference announcing their reunion!
But let’s not dwell on all that. One of the pillars of musical upbringing has reunited to shower us in their house music-inspired pop. Let’s rave on and hope that the wheels don’t come off until we’ve had a chance to dirty up our baggies and sway in our bucket hats one more time.
That’s a photo of the Dean and Britta set list for Saturday night’s show in Chicago. My cousin got to see them as they revisited Galaxie 500’s material for their latest tour.
Like Jim DeRogatis mentioned in his blog, I had a little trepidation when I heard that Wareham decided to return to the Galaxie 500 catalog, but without Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang being present for the unveiling. I’m sure he has his reasons for not considering a complete reunion, but none of those possible reasons seemed to be as legitimate as what Damon or Naomi might have considering how Galaxie 500’s breakup went down.
Shortly before the Jesus Lizard made their way on stage Saturday night, a crewmember brought out a wastebasket and a chair. I assumed both items were for David Yow; the wastebasket would prove useful if Mr. Yow had consumed too much alcohol before the show and he needed an easy-to-reach receptacle for vomiting.
“If we don’t do it very soon, one of us is gonna check out,” McLagan says. “I’m 64, for chrissakes! We’ve been waiting and waiting for Rod to say yes; now he’s finally said no. He’s busy doing other shit. So we’re gonna do it.”
The dude from Simply Red though? Really? I bet it would be a lot of fun to see Ron Wood, Ian McLagan, and Kenney Jones playing together, but it’s not the Faces without Rod Stewart, is it? Come on. They played a charity show a couple weeks ago and used a bunch of guest vocalists and Bill Wyman on bass. For a 2010 tour, since Wyman doesn’t fly, “McLagan says his first choice on bass would be original Sex Pistols member Glenn Matlock.” Okay…
Check out some YouTube footage of the reunion show at Royal Albert Hall on October 25 after the jump…
No, not the Stooges. Iggy and the Stooges. The Stooges released two albums: their self-titled debut and Fun House. Iggy and the Stooges released Raw Power. Got it?
What’s the difference? Well, the Stooges were Iggy Pop on vocals, Dave Alexander on bass, and brothers Ron and Scott Asheton on guitar and drums, respectfully. For Raw Power, Alexander was kicked out of the band while Ron Asheton was demoted to bass, and James Williamson took over on lead guitar.
Pop said that while the original Stooges ended with Asheton’s death, “there is always Iggy and the Stooges, the second growth of the band”.
“I had a meeting in LA last week with James (Williamson),” Pop said. “It was the first time we had seen each other in 30 years. So we talked about doing something together. Raw Power would be the repertoire.”
Since bass players are obviously expendable, Watt will continue his role with the new band. Could be interesting…
The NME reports on the Libertines Reunion that took place this weekend in London’s Rhythm Factory:
Then after the closing notes of ‘Albion’ soaked into the walls, Adam and Mick headed off… Gary leaped behind the drum kit and Carl strode on, the crowd erupting into Beatle fan-like screeches as they clicked what was happening. No long intro, no over-sentimental love-in, the four-some (Drew playing bass) launched into ‘What A Waster’ with adrenalin-surging vigour.
I’ve never seen such on-stage chemistry since I last saw The Libertines play the Cardiff Barfly many, many moons ago. Sharing a microphone the pair attacked their guitars, fingers blurring, spittle crossing in the air as they traded lyrics.
‘Up The Bracket’, ‘What Katy Did’, ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’, ‘Time For Heroes’, ‘Death On The Stairs’ – it was enough to reduce a Libs fan to mush.
The NME has the videos and a photo gallery. Exciting stuff. Let’s hope this is the kick in the ass these guys need to get them back together. Whatever you think of their solo efforts, the Libertines were definitely a case where the whole is far, far greater than the sum of its parts.
Looks like that’s changing. Billboard reports, Jayhawks Reuniting For Summer Shows. The reunited Jayhawks played a festival in Spain last August, and they’ll be playing some more this summer:
[Olsen:] “That was the first time I’d played with the Jayhawks in over 10 years. It was really fun. It was Karen [Grotberg] and Tim [O’Reagan] and Marc [Perlman] and Gary and me. We played pretty much all of “Hollywood Town Hall” and “Tomorrow The Green Grass.”
“I have some friends in Spain who were very persistent about getting a Jayhawks show there and they really wanted the ‘Green Grass’ lineup,” says Louris, who owns a house in Spain and splits his time between there and Minneapolis. “Since Mark and I are now buddies again, and the fact that Karen is now willing to do some shows because now her daughter is old enough for her to leave for periods of time, its just become more viable.”
The Specials‘ founder, keyboardist, and songwriter Jerry Dammers says he’s been excluded from the band’s upcoming 30th Anniversary reunion dates, thanks mostly to the efforts of singer Terry Hall. Dammers says that he was involved in some early rehearsals, but that’s only because word of the meetings slipped out to him.
“The fact is that I would not have been invited to the first ‘reunion’ meeting at all had [drummer] John Bradbury not told me about it,” he said in a Guardian piece. “It was generally agreed to get together and commence rehearsals, by everyone except him [Hall].
“Shortly after the meeting, however, [guitarist] Lynval Golding phoned me saying that I was not required for the band – ‘like Bill Wyman from the [Rolling] Stones’ were his exact words. Terry’s manager circulated emails from which I was excluded. Rehearsals were held without me, and I only managed to attend two – one of which was attended by only four people.”
Ouch. Dude is the founder of one of the most influential 2 Tone ska revival bands and can’t even get those guys to return his calls?
Looks like a lot of the issue is around what kind of reunion dates they play with Hall favoring an extended tour in smaller venues and Dammers preferring a couple large-scale shows, mostly in London and Coventry.
The Specials will play UK live dates next month and will play at the T In The Park, Oxegen and V Festival.