No regrets. For founding Clash singer/guitarist Mick Jones, it’s a good motto to live by. “We didn’t even have time to think about what we were doing,” he says. “The train was going 1,000 miles an hour before it crashed at the end.” The occasion for such reflection? The recent The Clash—The Singles (Epic/Legacy), a boxed set featuring all 19 of the band’s original a- and b-sides in replica sleeves (with numerous bonus tracks on the CD edition); the DVD release of the quartet’s ’78 flick Rude Boy (Epic Video/Legacy); not to mention Revolution Rock, a Clash-centered exhibition currently on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The 51-year-old Jones, of course, has soldiered on since the Clash with successful follow-up Big Audio Dynamite and a production gig with the Libertines. His latest project is Carbon/Silicon, a collaboration with Tony James (Generation X, Sigue Sigue Sputnik), who founded pre-Clash outfit the London SS with Jones in 1975. But Jones’ Clash profile haunts him to this day, he happily admits: “I never would’ve thought that the Clash would’ve carried on like it has. Thanks to all these re-releases, it’s gonna carry on to the next generation, and they seem interested.” Regrets? There might be a few, but Mick Jones certainly did it his way.
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Despite being the band’s sole proprietor since 1990, why would Evan Dando go back to being a Lemonhead? He released his first solo album in 2003 (the well-received Baby I’m Bored) and hasn’t used the Lemonheads name since 1996’s Car Button Cloth. Maybe he’s resurrecting the moniker because, deep down, he’ll always be a noisy pop/punk guy who’ll gather old hardcore buddies (J Mascis, Descendents Bill Stevenson and Karl Alvarez) to make an album for Vagrant called The Lemonheads that’s vicious and twitchy without lacking lyrical maturity.
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Once known as the anguished voice of emo pioneers Sunny Day Real Estate, Jeremy Enigk has done a lot of growing up in public. At 21 years of age, Enigk sacrificed Sunny Day—a band on the verge of a commercial breakthrough—in favor of Christianity, announcing his religious convictions in a 1994 e-mail to friends. Enigk later rejoined his bandmates in various configurations (both in the Fire Theft and a reunited Sunny Day, which split for good in 2000), and he issued an ornate, orchestral-pop solo album, Return Of The Frog Queen, in 1996. The new World Waits (the first release on Lewis Hollow Records, which Enigk started with manager Steve Smith) contains songs written over the past decade and revisits the grandeur of Frog Queen. Enigk creates a multi-tracked choir over transcendent swells of organ (“Been Here Before”), contemplates forgiveness while delicately strumming (“River To Sea”), then segues into a slick, nocturnal Billy Idol send-up (“City Tonight”). Enigk’s singing conveys a chilling world-weariness without emitting a single crack, each note thin, smooth and amazingly resilient—a far cry from his speaking voice when MAGNET caught up with him the morning after his 32nd birthday. Raspy but still energetic, Enigk “whooped it up a little bit” the night before, having spent his birthday at the house of longtime friend and bandmate William Goldsmith, barbecuing, enjoying champagne and chatting with friends.
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Whether playing Camper Van Beethoven’s lysergic brand of cheerfully insane indie rock or prying Cracker’s bourbon-stained mother lode from roots rock, David Lowery has always been an American storyteller. Cracker was twice anthologized in 2006: Once by its former label, Virgin, in the form of Get On With It: The Best Of Cracker; and the other courtesy of the band itself, which re-recorded its songs for Greatest Hits Redux. Cracker also has a new studio album, Greenland (Cooking Vinyl), which weaves gritty blues, country folk and even Indian raga into its dusty, grand design. Corey duBrowa caught up with Lowery to get his take on the group’s warring best-ofs.
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Pearl Jam is either album number eight or 188 from Eddie Vedder and Co., depending on whether you include official bootlegs (there’s 176 of them), live records (two), best-ofs (one) and odds ‘n’ sods collections (one). Either way, the 13-track LP is easily the Seattle quintet’s best studio effort since 1998’s Yield and a welcome return-to-form following 2002’s awkward Riot Act. Pearl Jam left longtime label Epic in 2003 and signed to J Records, the imprint run by 74-year-old music impresario Clive Davis. (The band’s new labelmates include Barry Manilow, Kenny G and Whitney Houston.) For a group as self-sufficient as Pearl Jam, something as cosmetic as changing record labels has zero effect on its musical output. Nonetheless, a change in scenery seems to have re-energized the band. While Pearl Jam finds Vedder once again raging against the machine (he has made no secret of his opinion of the Bush administration and the war in Iraq), this time out, his anger is focused and perfectly suited to these mostly hard-rocking songs that address the current state of the Union.
The 41-year-old Vedder spoke to MAGNET from Pearl Jam’s Seattle warehouse space.
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