From The Desk Of Luther Russell: “Bayou Maharajah”

You might not know Luther Russell by name, but you’ve probably heard music he’s made with the likes of Jakob Dylan (Wallflowers), Jody Stephens (Big Star), Brian Bell (Weezer), Ethan Johns (Emmylou Harris, Ryan Adams) and countless others. Selective Memories: An Anthology, out February 23 on Hanky Panky, is a two-CD compilation of Russell’s material that’s a stellar introduction for newcomers to this musician’s musician. Russell will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Russell: One of the best music documentaries ever committed to celluloid, Lily Keber’s very recent and relentless masterpiece tells the tragic and hilarious story of one of the few piano geniuses of the 20th century: James Booker. He was an one-eyed gay junkie with more soul in his left pinky than half the doo-wop groups named after birds. His playing was a gumbo of Longhair, Chopin, Gershwin and Ellington, and that was just his left hand. First-time director Lily Keber masterfully unfolds this unique man’s story through interviews with those that knew him, including Harry Connick Jr. and his district-attorney father, who allowed this crazed genius access to his 13-year-old son because … New Orleans in the late ’70s, that’s why. Mixed with evocative stock footage of the Big Easy in those pungent, festive classic days, you get a colorful biography of a truly great artist that you can literally take a bite out of. And like the great American city itself, it tastes funky but goes down smooth.

From The Desk Of Luther Russell: “Trouble Boys: The True Story Of The Replacements” By Bob Mehr

You might not know Luther Russell by name, but you’ve probably heard music he’s made with the likes of Jakob Dylan (Wallflowers), Jody Stephens (Big Star), Brian Bell (Weezer), Ethan Johns (Emmylou Harris, Ryan Adams) and countless others. Selective Memories: An Anthology, out February 23 on Hanky Panky, is a two-CD compilation of Russell’s material that’s a stellar introduction for newcomers to this musician’s musician. Russell will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Russell: Being a die-hard Replacements fan, I rushed out to buy this tome by great Memphis writer Bob Mehr. How could it not be a well-researched, thoughtful and empathetic portrait of one of the most brilliant and fucked-up bands in history? Well, it was so much more. It’s an example of what a rock bio can be when it is searching and driving and relentlessly works its way to the truth. And the truth is: You thought the Who were dysfunctional?? Ha ha. The Replacements were fucking meta. When there was nothing left to burn, they found a way to burn a little more. God, and those songs. That’s the amazing thing about Westerberg; you learn that he must have fed off the chaos, for where else could his witty blood letters come from? The book goes a long way to fleshing-out his and his bandmates backgrounds and sets a bleak, yet extraordinary context for how this desperate music inspired a generation to take its ’80s ennui and turn it into something creative. I’ll forever be altered by this band and its amazing spirit, hooks and soul. And this book explained to me the reason why.

From The Desk Of Luther Russell: “Fear” By John Cale

You might not know Luther Russell by name, but you’ve probably heard music he’s made with the likes of Jakob Dylan (Wallflowers), Jody Stephens (Big Star), Brian Bell (Weezer), Ethan Johns (Emmylou Harris, Ryan Adams) and countless others. Selective Memories: An Anthology, out February 23 on Hanky Panky, is a two-CD compilation of Russell’s material that’s a stellar introduction for newcomers to this musician’s musician. Russell will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Russell: A close friend of mine, poet/writer John Tottenham, once put the song “Buffalo Ballet” on one of the many mix tapes he’s made for me over the years. It’s only recently that I’ve picked up a copy of the record this song lives on. To say Fear has blown me away is an understatement. This is great songwriting, performing and an eerie sense of what lies “ahead” in music—to the point that it still sounds fresh today, more than 40 years later. I guess it makes sense Cale recorded it concurrent to producing groundbreaking tone poems like Horses by Patti Smith. The opening track, “Fear Is A Man’s Best Friend,” has to have one of the best drum sounds I’ve heard on a rock record. The ending dissolves into a frustrated strangle of the elements that make up the body of the track. Elsewhere on the record are weddings of cascading piano to stuttering, staccato guitar to remind anyone listening that the artist is constantly on the creative search, like a musical shark in murky, anodyne waters.

From The Desk Of Luther Russell: “Little Big Man”

You might not know Luther Russell by name, but you’ve probably heard music he’s made with the likes of Jakob Dylan (Wallflowers), Jody Stephens (Big Star), Brian Bell (Weezer), Ethan Johns (Emmylou Harris, Ryan Adams) and countless others. Selective Memories: An Anthology, out February 23 on Hanky Panky, is a two-CD compilation of Russell’s material that’s a stellar introduction for newcomers to this musician’s musician. Russell will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Russell: I’ve always loved the 1970 movie starring Dustin Hoffman and Faye Dunaway, but nothing could prepare me for the sheer wit and depth of the original novel by the late Thomas Berger. Dave Sobel, former organist for my old band the Freewheelers, gave me the book and insisted it was a masterpiece and I would love it. And he was so right. Berger inhabits the only slightly dependable 121-year-old narrator Jack Crabb as if he has astrally projected into a real-life frontier character—one he made up from thin-air, no less. A boy is taken by the Cheyenne in a raid on the prairie and is raised as one of their own then spends his life flitting back and forth between the Nation and “civilized” society. In this picaresque piece, Berger makes you feel like you are right there amongst the legends of the day, like Wild Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill and George Armstrong Custer—and he pokes holes in all of them. With his wicked sense of humor, Berger wraps your head around the sheer hypocrisy of the times, a mere precursor to our own modern travails. Now obsessed with Berger, a master storyteller practically on par with Twain, I have found many of his books, and am about to break open Vital Parts and The Feud.

From The Desk Of Martin Carr: “Buck Rogers: Planet Of Zoom”

Martin Carr first made a name for himself in the early ’90s as the guitarist/songwriter of the Boo Radleys, whose Everything’s Alright Forever (1992), Giant Steps (1993) and Wake Up! (1995) remain essential listening from the Britpop era. The Boos disbanded in 1999, and Carr began releasing records under the bravecaptain moniker for the better part of a decade before issuing Ye Gods (And Little Fishes) under his own name in 2009. Carr is back with third solo LP New Shapes Of Life (Tapete), a compact, sophisticated and personal pop album inspired in part by the death of David Bowie. Carr will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Carr: In 1983, me and Sice spent an awful lot of time on Victoria Road in New Brighton playing video games or trying to win money to play video games. Victoria Road in the 1980s was packed with pubs, gift shops and arcades but lacked one thing: people. All the arcades are gone now, and quiet houses stand in their place. In 1983, Space Invaders had lost its novelty and Dragon’s Lair was impossible so we spent whatever money we had on this game. I can still recall every level—or at least as far as we got. I would think about it all day in school, trying to work out the best way to get through the plethora of alien craft without dying.

From The Desk Of Martin Carr: Marijuana

Martin Carr first made a name for himself in the early ’90s as the guitarist/songwriter of the Boo Radleys, whose Everything’s Alright Forever (1992), Giant Steps (1993) and Wake Up! (1995) remain essential listening from the Britpop era. The Boos disbanded in 1999, and Carr began releasing records under the bravecaptain moniker for the better part of a decade before issuing Ye Gods (And Little Fishes) under his own name in 2009. Carr is back with third solo LP New Shapes Of Life (Tapete), a compact, sophisticated and personal pop album inspired in part by the death of David Bowie. Carr will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Carr: I didn’t really smoke dope when I was younger. I preferred my kicks fast and trippy, but as I’ve gotten older, there is nothing I like more than rolling a slow one after putting my kids to bed. I don’t need much, a couple of tokes to put me over the line. The stresses and aches of the day fall away, and making music becomes even more magical. I’m not a weed nerd, don’t know my sativa from my elbow, but what I do know is that it helps me sleep and stops me worrying about my hair.

From The Desk Of Martin Carr: Books And Records

Martin Carr first made a name for himself in the early ’90s as the guitarist/songwriter of the Boo Radleys, whose Everything’s Alright Forever (1992), Giant Steps (1993) and Wake Up! (1995) remain essential listening from the Britpop era. The Boos disbanded in 1999, and Carr began releasing records under the bravecaptain moniker for the better part of a decade before issuing Ye Gods (And Little Fishes) under his own name in 2009. Carr is back with third solo LP New Shapes Of Life (Tapete), a compact, sophisticated and personal pop album inspired in part by the death of David Bowie. Carr will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Carr: Book and records, records and books. If I had all the money I’d spent on records and books over the last 40 years, I would spend it all on books and records.

From The Desk Of Martin Carr: Old Photographs

Martin Carr first made a name for himself in the early ’90s as the guitarist/songwriter of the Boo Radleys, whose Everything’s Alright Forever (1992), Giant Steps (1993) and Wake Up! (1995) remain essential listening from the Britpop era. The Boos disbanded in 1999, and Carr began releasing records under the bravecaptain moniker for the better part of a decade before issuing Ye Gods (And Little Fishes) under his own name in 2009. Carr is back with third solo LP New Shapes Of Life (Tapete), a compact, sophisticated and personal pop album inspired in part by the death of David Bowie. Carr will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Carr: I’ve always been fascinated by old photographs, whether they’re of people or places. I am happy to look at anything but prefer it if it’s somewhere or something I know. Pictures of Wallasey and New Brighton, Liverpool, London and Cardiff. I have a box of photographs of my grandfather working in New York in the 1930s, my Dad as a tubby teddy boy in the early ’60s and my mum when she lived in California around the same time. I think they ground me. I’m distracted and dislocated, but looking at old photos give me a sense of continuity, that I am part of something, however cosmically insignificant.

More photos after the jump.

Continue reading “From The Desk Of Martin Carr: Old Photographs”

From The Desk Of Martin Carr: Pubs

Martin Carr first made a name for himself in the early ’90s as the guitarist/songwriter of the Boo Radleys, whose Everything’s Alright Forever (1992), Giant Steps (1993) and Wake Up! (1995) remain essential listening from the Britpop era. The Boos disbanded in 1999, and Carr began releasing records under the bravecaptain moniker for the better part of a decade before issuing Ye Gods (And Little Fishes) under his own name in 2009. Carr is back with third solo LP New Shapes Of Life (Tapete), a compact, sophisticated and personal pop album inspired in part by the death of David Bowie. Carr will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Carr: If I had to choose one room in which to spend the rest of my life it would be in a pub. The Lexington in London, perhaps, or The War Room in Ye Cracke in Liverpool, The Chain Locker in Falmouth or The Lansdowne in Cardiff. They aren’t the same as the pubs I frequented as a youth, packed and noisy with clouds of smoke hanging from the ceiling, but they are comfortable and safe and I feel at home in these places, whether I’m having a quiet pint on my own or two or three with friends. There is a pub where I grew up called The Cheshire Cheese, and me and my mate Sice would stand outside as kids waiting for the door to open so we could take in that lovely warm pub smell, beer and cigarettes, aftershave and perfume, and hear the raucous shouts and laughter. Many of the pubs that I have loved have been torn down, but they’re still here in my heart and soul.

From The Desk Of Martin Carr: Chickpea

Martin Carr first made a name for himself in the early ’90s as the guitarist/songwriter of the Boo Radleys, whose Everything’s Alright Forever (1992), Giant Steps (1993) and Wake Up! (1995) remain essential listening from the Britpop era. The Boos disbanded in 1999, and Carr began releasing records under the bravecaptain moniker for the better part of a decade before issuing Ye Gods (And Little Fishes) under his own name in 2009. Carr is back with third solo LP New Shapes Of Life (Tapete), a compact, sophisticated and personal pop album inspired in part by the death of David Bowie. Carr will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Carr: I love my little Welsh cat. When she was young, she would play fetch like a dog, chasing and returning crumpled balls of paper. Then we had had children and neglected her a bit. She was in the way, another annoyance, until one evening we were watching a nature documentary on the telly about big cats, and I noticed her for the first time in two or three years.