Johnny Marr will release numbered limited edition 7” singles of “I Feel You” for Record Store Day on April 18th. The b-side is a live version of The Smiths’ “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want.”
In an alternate universe somewhere, the arrival of Johnny Marr would’ve been covered by hovering helicopters and satellite news trucks. I mean, how often does one of the greatest guitarists the world has ever known and the founding member of one of the most influential bands in the history of music come to your town?
While the public at large may have been blissfully unaware, the assembled crowd at the Granada Theater Saturday night knew exactly how special this show was. Continue reading
Weekend one of Coachella 2013 is complete — one of great success for those who long for the good old days. While the kids in SoCal bemoaned the influx of old British dudes in this year’s lineup, it was a victory lap for the artists who paved the way for anything resembling “indie” today.
The highlight of the weekend, and this post, was the triumphant stateside return of Blur. With Graham and Damon reunited and 25 years worth of material to pull from, the Britpop kings were at the height of their powers. From opener “Girls and Boys” to closer “The Universal” they touched on almost all of their many incarnations and threw down the gauntlet for the rest of the weekend’s headliners. Watch the full set:
Arguably more important, but certainly not as well-oiled, was the reunion of The Stone Roses. Incredible that this ever happened — the Roses in a headlining slot at an American festival after years of John and Ian refusing to even speak to each other. Unfortunately, this isn’t a full set but you can check out an extended jam of “Fool’s Gold” plus “Made Of Stone” and “This Is The One”:
Perhaps the most talked about item from the weekend, besides the Daft Punk trailer, was the guest appearance from R. Kelly during the Phoenix set. The French band are in full promo mode for next week’s release of Bankrupt!, and the buzz from this unlikely pairing will definitely help. Enjoy the full set:
A few more full sets worth your attention… the return of onetime indie darlings Franz Ferdinand, a blistering math rock set from Oxford’s Foals, and the jangle of Northern Ireland’s Two Door Cinema Club:
Of course New Order and Johnny Marr, who have teamed up for some gigs around the two weekends of Coachella, are the most influential of the old guard infiltrating Indio. Unfortunately, haven’t been able to track down full sets but you can get the flavor with clips of “The Perfect Kiss”, “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” and “Sun And Moon”:
This Friday they’ll do it all again, but no webcast for weekend two. I want to go to there.
With the recent album remasters, Johnny Marr’s solo album, Morrissey’s bleeding ulcer and persistently false reunion rumors, The Smiths have been in the news pretty often lately for a band that’s been defunct for 25 years. Here’s another reason to revisit their greatness — a rare rehearsal cassette recording has surfaced from May 1983, nearly a year before the release of their debut.
It’s rough around the edges, but it’s an amazing snapshot of a band that seems to have been at the height of its powers from conception. User bellapintura posted the tape at a Smiths forum earlier this week, with this back story:
In May 1983 (exact date unknown), while preparing to record their first album, The Smiths ran through a selection of songs at a rehearsal in a room in manager Joe Moss’ jeans warehouse. The tape was recorded for Troy Tate, in order to give him something to work with before going into the studio. It’s pretty rough but considering it was only recorded on cassette with a stereo mic pointing into the room, the quality isn’t too bad. Morrissey’s vocals are a bit distorted – maybe singing too close to the mic or maybe the cassette mic was too close to the PA – but everything else is surprisingly clear. There is some tape flutter at various points.
I was lent the master cassette by a source close to the band who made the recording – let’s call him Pablo Cuckoo – in 1997, with a view to trying to put it out as a semi official release, as it was recorded before the band had signed to Rough Trade, so technically he had the rights to the recording. But a combination of the poor sound quality and threats from Warner Bros, meant that the idea was shelved. The master cassette was transferred to DAT at that time but the DAT copy disappeared shortly afterwards. To my surprise it resurfaced a few weeks ago while I was going through some boxes of old tapes. The quality is a lot better than I’d remembered too!
If you’re into the torrent thing, grab it here (you’ll have to register with the forum). Otherwise, you can stream it below thanks to youtuber hipsterdisco. To imagine such legendary figures banging through this virginal material in a cramped rehearsal space with just a lone microphone to capture it is fascinating. Enjoy:
(new link – thanks somedizzywhore)
- You’ve Got Everything Now
- Accept Yourself [04:26]
- What Difference Does It Make [08:46]
- Reel Around The Fountain [12:52]
- These Things Take Time [19:28]
- I Don’t Owe You Anything [22:37]
- Hand In Glove [28:06]
- Handsome Devil [31:04]
- Miserable Lie [34:11]
So yesterday guitar icon and God-like Genuis Johnny Marr did the “Ask Me Anything” bit on Reddit. The site can be rather clunky, so I cherry picked the best parts for your multimedia enjoyment right here. If you want to see the whole thread, do so here — or just skim Marr’s answers here.
He gave some insight into his personal tastes (including a little known punk band from Lyon, France) and many band experiences, all the while confirming that he’s amongst the coolest people to have ever lived. Cheers.
I’m a Johnny Marr fanboy. The man can do no wrong in my eyes. I did my best to love Boomslang… and when they told me The Messenger was *really* his first solo record I just nodded my head in agreement.
So here we are, some 26 years after the end of The Smiths and about eight months shy of Marr’s 50th birthday, finally graced with his solo artistic statement. Out next week on Sire, it’s 12 tracks of pure britpop. In fact, he moved from Portland back to Manchester to record in an effort to ‘keep it real’.
Marr has said he made this album for his fans, returning to the sound “rooted in the New Wave shows I used to sneak in to see when I left school.” Certainly good news, and a promise he fulfills with varying degrees of success. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, and occasionally it swerves into the ditch, but after all it’s Johnny Freaking Marr — let’s not quibble as we bask in greatness.
Stream it in full thanks to Rolling Stone and follow along with the track-by-track comments below.
“The Right Thing Right”
A proper opening jam, it’s got some of Marr’s more relaxed vocals, a great breakdown and magical overdubs.
“I Want The Heartbeat”
Angular and muscular, the densely layered track is weighed down by vocals that test the limits of Marr’s range. The bit where he mimics his guitar is charming and unexpected — so much so he cracks himself up doing it.
A bit of The Smiths with the edge of his work with The Cribs, this is the kind of jangle fans were hoping to hear.
The lead single, it’s rather nondescript britpop with the exception of discofied bridges that bring in just enough Marr flourish.
A simple tune that’s unremarkable but is saved by the rich tone of Marr’s fantastic lead part.
A great hook, killer bassline, subtle synths and a sweet backward solo. Oh, and handclaps. Don’t forget about the handclaps.
The first half of the song is dreadful, but the guitar interlude and subsequent solo are worth waiting for.
The closest Marr gets to a ballad, his newfound vocal confidence really shines. The emulated strings are overkill, but it’s an admirable attempt at epicness.
“Sun And Moon”
Another instance of the vocals taking away from an otherwise cracking track. One of my favorite guitar sounds on the album.
“The Crack Up”
A stand out, it’s got a bit of a Phoenix vibe and packs in the most ideas per minute.
“New Town Velocity”
The acoustic guitar strum makes this the warmest, most comforting track on The Messenger, and the chiming lead guitar begs to be paired with Morrissey’s crooning.
“Word Starts Attack”
A full on disco assault, would be better suited as a b-side than an album closer.
The incomparable Johnny Marr will finally release his solo debut early next year (evidently Boomslang was a “Healers” album). Recorded in Manchester and Berlin and mastered at Abbey Road, The Messenger is the guitar icon’s first real crack at a post-Smiths artistic statement.
The title track and first single pretty well encapsulates what he’s been up to since his break-up with Morrissey. There are the slightly jangly hooks from his days with Modest Mouse and The Cribs mixed with the atmospherics and studio polish of Electronic.
His vocals are more confident — and more processed — than his work with The Healers, but they’re secondary to the fretwork. The song begins simply enough, but the bassline groove helps build to a densely layered finish highlighted by handclaps and a trippy backward guitar solo:
Not necessarily groundbreaking, but more than enough to leave me wanting for more. The Messenger arrives February 26th on Warner Bros.
“Christmas is a special time, there’s no denying it. Some of us embrace our loved ones and some don’t, fair enough. The important thing is that we look around with Christmas Eyes and also Christmas Hearts and see that we are all in it together. Amen.”
Those are the sentiments of the venerable Johnny Marr, who just issued his first post-Cribs release — a little holiday instrumental entitled “Free Christmas” with his band The Healers. It’s not like getting a treasure trove of unreleased Smiths material for Christmas, but when it kicks in with the faint sounds of a holiday choir at the minute mark I think you’ll be pleased:
For a Christmas song of the cover variety, Baltimore’s Wye Oak just stopped by The Onion’s AV Club. The proud owners of #26 on our best albums of 2011 list did a little known Brenda Lee tune “Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day.” Not quite as much of a downer as Gruff Rhys’ Atheist Xmas, it actually turned out rather pretty:
And finally, Rolling Stone offers up a whiskey soaked gem from Blitzen Trapper. This year, the Portland, Oregon band released an underrated album of AOR-influenced road trip jams, American Goldwing. “Christmas Is Coming Soon” recalls their more Americana moments, with a tale “about the real Santa Claus, who we all know lives in southern Oregon in a double wide trailer and drinks too much peppermint schnapps from a straw”:
Happy holidays, all.