Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Feature: Greetings From The Edge // Redux


by James M. Graham

In 1996 I was hired by AOL to be their FIRST music critic, writing a column a week. I was paid $20 per article, which even by today's standards is pretty hefty. My column was called GREETINGS FROM THE EDGE and ran for about a year and a half. I scored comp CDs, tickets to shows and attended press events. I walked out on the Echo & The Bunnymen reunion tour, cried at a Paul Westerberg show and fell in love with a band called Guided By Voices.

When AOL was bought by Warner (or someone else who regrets it, stock-wise) I was "let go" - unceremoniously. Whatever. I got paid to write about the great and not so great music I saw between 1996 and 1997. Looking back on it now for Fucking Nostalgic, I'm amazed at the number of bands that are not together anymore, the people I saw that are not alive anymore, and the general demise of everything I loved. All in 15 years.

But there is always hope. Who the hell is "Thrall?" Well, they were fucking amazing as you will soon see via my archival contributions...

As Frank Zappa once said, "Music is the best."


Lori Carson (4/23/97 - NYC)
A sold-out show at The Mercury Lounge provided an intimate little appearance right before leaving town for the tour to support Everything I Touch Runs Wild. Lori was still working out the kinks in the set, in her band and in her hands. She sat for the whole show and basically mesmerized the audience with selections from her last two albums and from The Golden PalominosPure. Lori’s hard to pigeonhole, which is a good thing and a bad thing. Good for her – originality and creative autonomy is a rare thing; bad for you, ‘cause I can’t really describe her. Okay, here we go…how about Jennifer Charles’ (Elysian Fields) big sister? Not working for you…how about Suzanne Vega with talent? Oh well, I told you it was tough. What I like about Carson is her very simple approach to song writing and her extremely honest, emotion-filled voice. Late-night sultry torch. Or something like that. And her guitar playing ain’t bad either. It’s sort of like a weird club – if you know the Palominos, you’re a fan – if not, pick up Everything… or check her out when she graces your hometown with her presence.

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The Musical Box (4/29/97 – NYC)
One of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had. Forget “weird club” – this goes straight to “cult.” Here’s the deal – there’s these Montreal-based guys who worship the Gabriel-era Genesis and they were sitting around one day and came up with the idea of recreating their entire career live. So this is basically “Beatlemania” except way more twisted. So by this point they’re actually up to the 1973-74 Selling England By The Pound Tour. For those of you that don’t know, Genesis (pre-vocal Phil Collins) used to be the ultimate prog-rock ├╝berband – each album a twisted concept unto itself and the live performances fraught with characters that freely sprung from Gabriel’s odd little mind. Legendary, in fact, and the stuff of legends. If you ever meet a dumb old man that actually saw them then, he’ll be the first to tell you. 

Anyway, given that the original performance was what it was, imagine what it’s like to sit through an “exact recreation” of the show, note for note through the actual set-list, amazingly re-created costumes, and (one assumes) actual between song banter. The lead singer, sporting the reverse mohawk look, sounded remarkably like Gabriel and the rest of the band, although not going for the visual gig, played extremely complex music like they had written it from the get-go. And here’s the drug part. If you were a Genesis fan, and knew every single note of “Trespass,” Nursery Cryme,” “Foxtrot,” and of course, “Selling England By The Pound,” through some sort of early thirties white male suburban upbringing – by the third song you actually forgot that you were not seeing Genesis in 1973. I cannot say any more for fear of personal embarrassment, except that when they return next year for The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway tour…I’ll be there riding the scree…

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Dwarves (4/30/97 – NYC)
5 songs – beer flying from the audience, violent stage-diving by Blag, the drum-kit demolished, and then a grand stage-left exit. Rock ‘n’ roll, kids, rock ‘n’ roll. If you didn’t know what you were getting into, you had no business here. He Who Cannot Be Named (on guitar) was surprisingly not masked. Blag (lead singer) was surprisingly sort of blase about the whole affair. The drummer looked a lot like Danzig, and demonstrated the scariest “I hate the audience” maneuvers. The bass player got a lot of beer thrown on him. But only for twenty minutes…

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Mazzy Star (12/01/96 - NYC)
This was gonna be all about Mazzy Star, but I missed the gig. So now I'm just waiting for Swans to come to town. Oh, and I'm gonna go see Thrall on Friday. And if Velma ever plays again, I'll be there... I'd love to see John Doe solo, but I forgot to go and well, he played here last Saturday and Sunday (I have seen Exene solo if that means anything). I will not see Buffalo Tom since I already did and I was bored. Railroad Jerk is playing again, and hell, I might go. David Thomas (from Pere Ubu) and the Two Pale Boys canceled their US tour last week, so there goes the night of the 18th at the Wetlands... How about Varnaline? Well, I just saw Space Needle... Luna on New Years Eve seems like the place to be - but I might not even be alive by then... Oh yeah, the New York Times said Mazzy Star sucked...but I don't think they went either.

10 comments:

  1. TRUE nostalgia. These are pure gems. Hope to see more of these!

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  2. this is SO fucking cool. I feel lucky to know James and got to hang out with him last night (we caught Amanda Palmer do a couple of songs) but I had NO IDEA about any of this (of course he told me about walking out on the Echo & the Bunnymen reunion tour but I didn't know the context) and am excited to hear more about his concert experiences.

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  3. Mazzy Star! waaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh

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  4. Shut up you monkeys!!!!

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  5. Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that.

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