Richey James Edwards

25 01 2009

Unexplainable mysteries in music always intrigue the hell out of me.  As I compose this, I can’t think of any other music mystery that intrigues me more than the disappearance of Richey Edwards of the Manic Street Preachers.
On January 31, 1995, The Manic Street Preachers checked into the London Embassy Hotel in preparation of leaving for their American tour the next day.  Richey speaks to his mother and states that he’s not looking forward to touring America.  The next day, Richey checks out of the hotel, stops by his apartment to drop off some things, and is never seen again.
 
When Richey didn’t arrive in America by February 2nd, a missing person’s report was filed.
 
During the month of February ’95, Richey is reportedly spotted several times.  During the two weeks following his leaving the Embassy Hotel in London, Richey is supposedly spotted at the passport office in Newport; at the Newport bus station; and picked up by a taxi driver.
 
In May ’95, Manic Street Preachers met with Richey’s parents to discuss continuing on with the band.
In November ’96, a college lecturer from South Wales, supposedly sees Richey at a market in Goa, India.
In November ’98, a British-born barmaid on the island of Fuerteventura, supposedly sees Richey in the Underground Bar in the town of Corralejo. When a patron of the bar shouted “‘You’re Richey from the Manic Street Preachers!”, Richey turned around and ran out the door.
In January 2002, almost 7 years after his disappearance, Richey’s parents state that they will never have him declared dead.
In October 2004, Richey is supposedly spotted on Famara beach, Lanzarote.
November 23, 2008… Richey’s missing person’s case is officially closed after, by court order, his status is changed to “presumed dead.”
 
Manic Street Preachers are currently working on their next album which will comprise only of lyrics Richey had left behind.
The Manics still put 1/4 of their album royalties into an account for Richey just in case he comes back.
 
This picture was taken as Richey was walking off stage as a member of the Manic Street Preachers for the last time.

This is the last known photograph ever taken of Richey James Edwards (possibly taken at the passport office in Newport?)

I received all of my information from this website, where you can find a more detailed chronology which also details Richey’s self destruction a little bit more.





Two-Lane Blacktop

19 01 2009

 

I finally bought Two-Lane Blacktop; a cult classic starring James Taylor and Dennis Wilson.  I rented this movie in the middle of last year and watched it twice before bringing it back.  It’s a movie about cars.  I’m not a gearhead by any means.  The big draw for me is Dennis Wilson, of course.  But there is something about this movie that holds my attention despite having minimal dialogue.  I can’t put it into words, so I’ll let Richard Linklater do it for me.

Ten (sixteen, actually) Reasons I Love ‘Two-Lane Blacktop’ by Richard Linklater
Because…
1. … it’s the purest American road movie ever.
2. … it’s like a drive-in movie directed by a French new wave director
3. … the only thing that can get between a boy and his car obsession is a girl, and a Laurie Bird perfectly messes up the oneness between the Drive, the Mechanic and their car.
4. … Dennis Wilson gives the greatest performance ever…by a drummer
5. … James Taylor seems like a refugee from a Robert Bresson movie, and has the chiseled looks of Artaud from Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc
6. … there was once a god who walked the earth named Warren Oates
7. … there’s a continuing controversy over who is the actual lead in the movie. There are different camps. Some say it’s the ’55 Chevy, some say it’s the GTO. But I’m a Goat man, I have a GTO – ’68
8. … it has the most purely cinematic ending in film history
9. … it’s like a western. The guys are like old-time gunfighters, ready to outdraw the quickest gun in town. And they don’t talk about the old flames they’ve had, but rather old cars they’ve had.
10. … Warren Oates has a different cashmere sweater for every occasion. And of course, the wet bar in the trunk.
11. … unlike other films of the era, with the designer alienation of the drug culture and the war protesters, this movie is about the alienation of everybody else, like Robert Frank’s The Americans come alive.
12. … Warren Oates, as GTO, orders a hamburger and an Alka-Seltzer and says things like “Everything is going too fast and not fast enough.”
13. … it’s both the last film of the sixties – even tough it came out in ’71 – and also the first film of the seventies. You know, that great era of “How the hell did they ever get that film made at a studio?/Hollywood would never do that today” type of films.
14. … engines have never sounded better in a movie
15. … these two young men on their trip to nowhere don’t really know how to talk. The Driver doesn’t really converse when he’s behind the wheel, and the Mechanic doesn’t really talk when he’s working on the car. So this is primarily a visual, atmosphereic experience. To watch this movie correctly is to become absorbed into it.
16. … above all else, Two-Lane Blacktop goes all the way with its idea. And that’s a rare thing in this world: a completely honest movie.
The more I watch this movie, the more I love it.  In my opinion, it’s not the type of film you’d put on during the day just because you want to watch a movie.  I’d say it’s more the kind of film you’d put on real late at night, and as Linklater stated, you become absorbed into it.  Despite the fact that it stars two musicians, they don’t perform any songs at all.  James Taylor doesn’t decide to have a quiet inspirational moment under a tree, finger picking his guitar.  Nope.  Not like now days where if a singer takes on a movie role, they almost always have a part where they sing…even if it’s just in the shower.
There aren’t very many songs in the movie itself. So, there isn’t an official soundtrack to accompany it.
In 2003, a tribute soundtrack was compiled entitled You Can Never Go Fast Enough.  It features contributions from Sonic Youth, Leadbelly, Giant Sand, Mark Eitzel, Wilco, Calexico, Cat Power covering the Rolling Stones and a track by Will Oldham & Alan Licht called “Don’t Cry, Driver.”
“Don’t Cry, Driver” is a 9 minute song that features Will Oldham singing for 2 minutes and that after that, Alan Licht recites every single one of James Taylor’s lines from the movie.
It’s an odd but satisfying tribute album.  If you can find it, and you like the artists I mentioned, you should pick it up.  And if you’re one who truly appreciates films, I’d suggest you check this movie out.




Solo albums #6

17 01 2009


Saw Franz Nicolay at the Triple Rock on Friday and I was very pleasantly surprised. He is, of course, the keyboard player for the Hold Steady (who happen to be one of my favorite bands, and is definitely my favorite to see live) and I like to try to support members of bands I like when they take on a solo project.

It was a solo show by every sense of the word. The stage basically looked like it does in the picture below plus an acoustic guitar. Every song done by just the man himself. He was a true performer and I must say I was captivated.

Franz was hilarious and his humor was dry. He reminded me of Mitch Hedberg with his between-song-banter. Mitch, of course, being my favorite comedian. Here are a few of the things that had me in stitches.

“I’m working out the kinks, which I maintain should one day be the title of a Ray Davies exercise video.

– (after someone in the crowd said “You’re a funny guy…”) “You should have seen me in Buffalo. I was f_cking hilarious!” (definitely a Hedberg moment)

– (Lifter Puller was the first band to play at the Triple Rock Social Club. The singer and guitarist of the Hold Steady played those respective roles in Lifter Puller. Franz thanked Triple Rock for having him and an audience member said “I saw Lifter Puller here.”) “Yeah? I didn’t…AND I wasn’t in that band.”

“If any one has any suggestions on how to improve my show, please write them down on a piece of paper and hand them to Kat (singer of openers The G_d Damn Doo Wop Band), she will then hand them to Ryan at the merch booth. Ryan will set them on fire; the smoke will float to the ceiling and drift down to me where I will smell it and know what your suggestion was.”
During his next song, someone did as instructed and the merch guy set the piece of paper ablaze and waved it in the air.

Franz asked “What are you waving at me?”
“It’s on fire!” was the reponse.
“It’s on fire??”
Members of the audience started yelling “smell it!!!”
“Aaaaah. You’re going off my own joke from earlier that I’ve already forgotten”Cracked me up! Easliy amused? Yeah, maybe sometimes.

Before strapping on his banjo to play “Cease Fire, or, Mrs. Norman Maine” he said that Willie Nelson had, at one point, stated that the sound of a banjo makes people happy and that a sad song could never be performed on the banjo. “Apparently, he’s never heard ‘Rainbow Connection“, Franz pointed out and then went on to say that his next song was also a sad, banjo song.

One of my favorite moments was a song Franz wrote as a member of World/Inferno Friendship Society. The song is called “Trains”. “That was a World/Inferno song I decided to resurrect.” I loved it. I thought it was a great song. So, I went to the merch table after the show to buy the CD with that song on it, but was informed that it is unreleased at this time.


As I stated, the solo performance was bare bones, and I loved it. I think if it can hold up by itself without a band, it speaks volumes for the songwriting. The album has a couple of jazz numbers, a couple of songs with a sort of punk tendency and of course, a few songs that resemble the Hold Steady. I find this album incredibly refreshing. I love the music and I especially love the lyrics. I am big on good lyrics and I really love these lyrics. Well done Franz!!!





Solo Albums #5

14 12 2008

I was a huge fan of Scott Weiland’s first solo album, 12 Bar Blues.  I use this word a lot, but I found it extremely “refreshing.”  I will always respect ANY artist for trying something different, no matter the outcome.  If 3 Doors Down decided to add Postal Service type electronic-flourishes on their next album….it’d probably still be a par for the course crappy album, but I’d actually respect the hell out of them for attempting something other than the same-old-same.

“Happy” In Galoshes delivers more of the same as we heard on 12 Bar Blues.  I’m very pleased with Weiland’s solo output.  He doesn’t try make another Stone Temple Pilots album and definitely isn’t trying to appease the Velvet Revolver crowd.

There are a couple of songs that sound like they could be STP tracks (“Missing Cleveland”, “Blind Confusion”), and at least one where he brings out his inner Bowie (“Paralysis”).  Of course, there’s the Bowie cover (“Fame”) which is fairly faithful, but unnecessary.

“Killing Me Sweetly” recalls “Son” from 12 Bar Blues which was one of the high points of that album (and most definitely the sweetest song).

The whole package ends with the unlisted song “Be Not Afraid” which is a Catholic hymn.  I can only speculate that he recorded this for his dearly-departed brother.  Whatever the reason, it is a beautiful song that brings to mind Jeff Buckley’s rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.

Hipsters need not apply.

Scott Weiland – January 31 @ Pantages Theater





The Veils/Liam Finn @ 7th St. Entry

3 10 2008

Wednesday night, I headed to the 7th Street Entry for the first show I’d seen in a little while.  (Can’t remember at the moment the last show I saw.)  I went specifically to see Liam Finn, offspring of Crowded House front man, Neil Finn.  I like Liam’s debut solo album.  I haven’t listened to it in a while, but when I found out he was coming to town, I marked it on my calendar.

The Veils, whose album Nux Vomica I purchased in Summer ’07, opened the show.  I was very impressed with their show, stage presence and between song banter.  I went into it feeling indifferent, and came out impressed with their show and looking forward to their new album, which sould be released early 2009.

Liam….Liam…Liam.  I was quite disappointed.  I don’t know what the name of the fx pedal is, but you know the pedal that allows you to record a guitar part, play it back and then record another part while the first part is playing?  Well anyway, that’s how his show went.  It was more or less a one man band (I’m not going to count his annoying sidekick EJ who stood in front of her tiny percussion set up and sang background vocals).

I was expecting a full band rock show.  But I got a one man band with an fx pedal.  He was quite good on the drums, though.  But the icing on the last straw for me was when they announced they were going to do an audience participation jam and record the audience shrieking and making noises and then incorporate that into the next song.  That’s when I turned around and walked out.

In most cases, I feel that seeing a band live can affect your opinion of an album, or even enhance it.  In the case of the Veils, their show enhanced my listening experience of Nux Vomica.  In the case of Liam Finn’s live show…..I haven’t gone back to his album which I previously thought was good……I’m scared to.  I don’t want to dislike it.

Everyone at the show seemed to dig the hell out of his fx pedal style of recording a one man band performance.  At one point, he even mentioned that a critic recently said his show was “gimmicky”.  I couldn’t agree more.  That style of performance is kind of neat for maybe one or two songs.  An entire show??  It gets tiring very, very quickly.





Sigur Rós // Twins

23 09 2008

  

I watched the Minnesota Twins play the first place Chicago White Sox tonight.  The Twins are 2 ½ games out of first place, so this is the biggest series of the year.  White Sox were in first place for nearly the entire year.  Then the Twins came back in August and the two teams have traded off first-place leads pretty much ever since then.

The game started off with two half innings of three up, three down baseball.  But the White Sox drew first blood in the 2nd inning, taking the lead 1-0.  At the bottom of the 2nd inning, that’s when I decided to turn the sound all the way down and watch the game with only the sound of Sigur Rós playing.

It’s the damnedest thing.  That’s when it started…the Twins put on a clinic.  Starting with a lead off walk by Justin Morneau, followed by a two-run home run by Jason Kubel (who ended up hitting 2 homeruns and a triple in the game), followed by a single by Delmon Young (who hit a homerun on the very next pitch after Kubel’s second homer of the game and was a triple shy of the cycle).

Am I on to something?  Watching the Twins with the bleating commentary of Bremer & Blyleven being substituted by the ethereal sounds of Sigur Rós?

Since this is such an important series (actually, all of the remaining 5 games are critical), I will definitely try this again tomorrow during game two.  If the Twins sweep the Sox, while I’m at home watching the game with the sound off and listening to Sigur Rós, then on Friday when I’m at the Dome for the Twins v. Royals game, you can rest assured (if you’re a Twins fan) I’ll have my ipod with me.

If you wish to try it out with me, this is the formula I followed. Listen to these albums, in this order:
1. Ágætis byrjun
2. Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
3. ( )
 
Of course, no genre of music from anywhere in the world can help Guerrier who gave up a two out, two-run homer to Griffey in the 9th.
Twins win 9-3
Sigur Rós as a soundtrack to Twins baseball. What an interesting concept.




Adorata

2 09 2008

After years and years of adoration for Greg Dulli and all the pictures I’ve seen of him online, I’ve actually come across a picture I’d never seen.  It was completely unexpected though.  Look at it. St. Gregory barbecuing in an alley.  I like this picture a lot.

Today is a good day.  The second Gutter Twins release of the year was released today.  Exclusive (hopefully only for the moment. I need a tangible album) to itunes, Adorata is an 8 track EP comprised of 6 cover songs and two Gutter Twins originals.

 

Adorata tracklisting:

1. Belles (Vetiver)
2. Down the Line (José González)
3. Deep Hit (Primal Scream)
4. Flow Like a River (Eleven)
5. St. James (Trad., Lanegan prev. released this song w/Isobel Campbell on lead vocals on their Ramblin’ Man EP)
6. Duchess (Scott Walker)
7. Spanish Doors (original)
8. We Have Met Before (original)