Tuesday, September 24, 2019


When all of your favorite Nineties bands realized that they could get back together and play live in front of people, I’m sure there were a few groans. Everyone has their preferences, and let’s leave it at that. I thought that Slowdive and Suede did it right, and I thought that the Verve and the Stone Roses let a lot of people down for various reasons, either by breaking up again too soon or by not putting out anything worth listening to.

There are only a handful of artistically successful “reunions” as far as I am concerned, and Ride has been the most artistically satisfying and accomplished that I have seen so far. This is their second proper full length “reunion” album and this stop on the tour to promote This is Not a Safe Place was an ear-ringing infusion of incredible style and accomplishment.

Nobody had more fun the night that I saw Ride than the band itself. They were in extremely good form and there were no false starts, no missteps, just a relentless assault on the senses and a pursuit of perfection that must have made rehearsals go on forever.

They played the old songs and the new songs equally as well, and this is what was so great about the show—nothing was out of place. No filler, no clunkers, just a desire at the end to hear a few more songs. There were whole albums worth of material that didn’t even get a hearing, so that’s where the show went. I was hoping to hear Pulsar, from the EP that they put out between comeback albums, but oh well. For a good fifteen years, the very idea of new music from Ride was an impossibility, so I’m happy to have heard what they played.

And really, what was impressive is that they made it all so immediate and relevant. Even in the ultra-modern, eclectic confines of the 9:30 club, the songs made a room for themselves and held up. There is still a place out there for guitar music, played loud, and in a genre that doesn’t mock itself and devolve into power chords and Chuck Berry riffs. It was soulful and drove home the need to give live music a place to be heard.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Beatles

Virtually everything written about the Beatles is wrong, and it will take decades of scholarship to figure it all out. I have nothing to back that up, because, just like everyone who wrote about the band 50 years ago, I’m making it all up in order to make myself famous:

Renowned rock historian Mark Lewisohn gave The Guardian access to a tape of a meeting held 50 years ago this week, which seemingly shows The Fab Four at loggerheads. Having finished the recording of ‘Abbey Road‘, it features audio of John LennonPaul McCartneyand George Harrison meeting together at Apple HQ in Savile Row.

The meeting was recorded by Lennon for the benefit of drummer Ringo Starr – who was undergoing hospital tests for an intestinal complaint.

The first major revelation comes when Lennon discusses the prospect of their next album after ‘Abbey Road’ – with plans for a single to be released in time for Christmas. Although their last album recorded together as a band (although ‘Let It Be’ was the last to be released), it was previously considered that Lennon played a major role in the band’s split.

“It’s a revelation,” Lewisohn told The Guardian. “The books have always told us that they knew ‘Abbey Road’ was their last album and they wanted to go out on an artistic high. But no – they’re discussing the next album. And you think that John is the one who wanted to break them up but, when you hear this, he isn’t. Doesn’t that rewrite pretty much everything we thought we knew?”

There is very little valid rock and roll history material that isn’t unadulterated, self-serving bullshit. Hardly any of it stands up to scrutiny, and almost none of it is of any value. Much of it was poorly written because, and this is an actual fact, virtually everyone was abusing drugs and alcohol.

Think of that whole period of 1964-2000 as a vast wasteland of nonsense in terms of what people say happened. Unless you have dates, facts, figures, receipts, and transcripts, I doubt hardly any of it could be authenticated. That especially goes for everything written about the Beatles that wasn’t actually agreed upon as fact by more than one of the band members. It was not uncommon in those days for one of them to float bullshit in order to serve their own interests, and that was true of virtually every other band that ever existed.

We saw this when they released the Esher Tapes; there was evidence that the Beatles were getting long with one another and having fun when, at the time, they were telling everyone that they were miserable. Well, what’s true? The actual recordings that show one thing, that are preserved historical records in a way, or their half-remembered, likely stoned recollections?

I don’t know how you could read anything written about rock and roll without questioning whose agenda was being served by the material and if it was, in fact, true or not.