With CBGB closed for good, it seems like an appropriate time for the DVD release of Bad Brains: Live At CBGB 1982 (MVD). This frenzied performance of a now-legendary act before an appreciative audience epitomizes the cutting-edge status the club once enjoyed. (If only Live At CBGB 1982 included more footage taken outside the club; there’s just an agonizingly short intro that shows two cops walking by the entrance.)
It’s about time someone made a documentary about Gram Parsons: He’s only been dead for 33 years. Often called the father of country/rock, Parsons brought the two genres together during his time with the International Submarine Band, Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers. He made listening to—and liking—country music hip for the rock set. German filmmaker/musician Gandulf Hennig has dibs on the first-ever Parsons documentary, the revealing Fallen Angel, set for a DVD release July 11.
If you’ve ever attempted to bust a move to Mogwai or the Kronos Quartet, you might be aware that a pop-and-lock routine just won’t do. Modern-dance troupes, however, have found the cinematic end of the underground-rock scene useful, commissioning music from Washington, D.C.’s Tone and Portland, Ore.’s Menomena.
Tone, a 15-year-old instrumental ensemble whose members’ lineage stretches back to punk bands the Teen Idles and Government Issue, began working with the Bowen McCauley Dance Company in 2004. In January, Tone provided the music for Amygdala, a Lucy Bowen McCauley performance at the Kennedy Center.
It’s been reported you spent 18 months working on your new album, Hello Young Lovers (In The Red). Yet the opening track quite clearly and quite often proclaims that “All I do now is dick around.” What are we supposed to believe?
Sparks’ Russell Mael replies: It’s all hard work. Humorous elements in our music are sometimes mistaken for frivolity or novelty. For every song like “Dick Around,” there are several months of agonizing work, trial and error and experimentation to be able to do something musical that isn’t based on tried-and-true conventions of pop music that have been around for 50 years. We take the craft of making our type of music very seriously. In order to have 20 albums and still be able to do music we feel pushes the boundaries within pop is a task that few in our position seem willing to adopt. We approach every new album with the idea that it might be the first album a listener may hear from us and it has to stand on its own without reference to past music we’ve done. In that sense, Hello Young Lovers is our debut.
John Martyn is too tough to be the folk singer you remember from the ‘60s. Enduring several storied decades of music making his legacy continues with a new set of modern classics. By Mitch Myers
John Martyn sits at a hotel bar in downtown Chicago. The 50-year-old Scotsman is relaxing after a weekend of stirring live performances, including a minor spot on the summer’s Fleadh Festival. His face is swollen, and I’m positive that it’s a side effect from decades of serious drinking. Then the singer casually informs me, “I got hit on the side of my head with a baseball bat in New York a few days ago. Mugged just a few yards from my hotel. I wish I felt better, I’m still a bit off.”
Message received: Never assume that you know a man before he tells you his story.