The Breeders - Joanne (Filmed at Electrical Audio, Chicago)
All Nerve is out March 2 on 4AD. “Joanne” is not on the album.
“Joanne” is one of my favorite songs of all time. I first heard it back in college when Leppotone supergroup Twister covered it live at Club Soda in Kalamazoo. I was already a huge Monkees fan but had not yet discovered the solo work of Mike Nesmith. It quickly became an obsession as I gathered up as many Nez albums as I could find in the used record bins.
Just recently, Nesmith reformed his “First National Band” and played some shows in California. Nez is the only original member since pedal steel virtuoso Red Rhodes and bassist John London are dead and drummer John Ware was not interested. But it’s still awesome that Nesmith is back into playing the style of country rock that he helped create years before Glenn Frey ever met Don Henley. (Just listen to “Papa Gene’s Blues,” which Nez wrote and produced for the first Monkees album in 1966.)
Anyway, Kim Deal does a fine acoustic cover, recorded — and apparently filmed — by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio in Chicago. And while “Joanne” is not included on the upcoming Breeders album, it does appear as the b-side of the “Wait in the Car” single that is included in the vinyl bundle from 4AD.
Shellac is a magnificent punk band in Chicago whose three members I’ve been friends with for years and years. If we haven’t gotten together on record before, it’s only because we have absolutely nothing in common, musically speaking. After hearing our collaboration, you may still think we have nothing in common.
Everything Fulks has said about this album leads us to believe that it’s going to be very, very far removed from the stripped down, acoustic renditions of these covers that initially won us over. Instead, what he’s describing is a much weirder and potentially more fascinating project than just a country singer with a beat up Martin doing quirky covers of soul-pop songs.
In this issue, the First Year Anniversary Issue, there is a Ruthless Records feature with segments related to Big Black, Effigies, Naked Raygun and Circle Seven (check out the they goofy inset photo of [Steve] Albini), an awesome piece called “1983’s Favorites Predict the Best Of 1984”, a story about Jonathan Richman, and an Albini-penned profile of Glenn Branca. There are also regular columns like “New Matter”, “Matters Of Fact”, and Albini’s “Tired Of Ugly Fat”. This issue is awesome.
It really is awesome. So cool to be able to travel back in time and check out such a clear snapshot of a scene that no longer exists. Jonathan Richman talking about Prince: “I usually don’t like synthesizer, but he can make the thing talk. But like, why’s he screaming so much about sex all the time?” Albini’s rant on poverty, Boy George (“Shit, that little fart doesn’t deserve the twenty-bucks-a-blowjob he’d probably be making on Carnaby Street if he weren’t such a good friend of Malcolm McLaren“), and Duran Duran (“those overfed Pillsbury Doughstars”) is classic.
Chicago Sun-Times pop music critic Jim DeRogatis takes a look back to the promising music scene in Chicago in the mid-90s: The curse of alternative nostalgia: What the heck happened to the Class of ’93? For those of you too young to remember or too otherwise occupied to give a shit at the time, the Class of ’93 included Urge Overkill, Liz Phair, Veruca Salt, and Smashing Pumpkins. DeRo checks back after a decade and a half to see where they are now:
“Alternative to what?” we may once again ask, and finally the answer is obvious: “Absolutely nothing.” Like so many rock bands before them, 15 years down the road, the most promising members of the Class of ’93 are treading dangerously close to that sad but true scene in “Spinal Tap” where the aging metal legends find themselves playing at the state fair.
In your rush to pat these three pandering sluts on the heinie, you miss what has been obvious to the “bullshit” crowd all along: These are not “alternative” artists any more than their historical precursors. They are by, of and for the mainstream. Liz Phair is Rickie Lee Jones (more talked about than heard, a persona completely unrooted in substance, and a fucking chore to listen to), Smashing Pumpkins are REO Speedwagon (stylistically appropriate for the current college party scene, but ultimately insignificant) and Urge Overkill are Oingo Boingo (Weiners in suits playing frat party rock, trying to tap a goofy trend that doesn’t even exist). You only think they are noteworthy now because some paid publicist has told you they are, and you, fulfilling your obligation as part of the publicity engine that drives the music industry, spurt about them on cue.
Does rockcrit get any better than the phrase, “Weiners in suits playing frat party rock”? I’m going to incorporate that phrase into my everyday language.
Practical considerations weigh very heavily in a lot of my decisions. A lot of the bands I work with have extremely limited budgets; they’re sort of spending their rent money to come and make a record at all. As a matter of simple human decency, I don’t want to waste their time. I don’t want to indulge myself in experimenting and trying to find some nerdy, perfect thing when the meat-and-potatoes thing is fine.
Gear junkies will drool, basement recording hobbyists will learn, and emusician.com will receive a lot of hits. Plus, in the bonus section, Albini explains the perfect building material for studios: adobe.
It’s wild how anxious and insecure Watt is about working with his heroes: “I’m really looking to all these guys for direction cuz I don’t wanna fuck up and know in my mind I want it to be all about them w/me as far as removed as ego could be. obviously it’s about me be insecure but I also want ron to know I’ll play anything he wants to.”