Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

New Model Army Rock the Bell House

Imagine if the Clash never broke up and that Joe Strummer was still alive. That’s a fair if not completely accurate approximation of what New Model Army sounded like at the Bell House last night. They’re playing two sets again tonight starting at 9. Thirty years after the British rockers began, they roared through two hours of fiery, politically charged anthems, a mix of hits from the 80s and 90s alongside newer material which is just as relevant and memorable as their best-known songs. Frontman Justin Sullivan started the show playing acoustic, joined by lead guitarist Dean White, who often switched to organ on some of the early numbers and then stayed on keys for the second set. Twenty minutes into the first set, the rest of the band was up onstage, and they were on their game. Even the quieter, more folk-oriented numbers took on an anthemic grandeur, aloft on the roar of the guitars and the swooping organ. With its Atrocity Exhibition drum rumble, Drummy B became more of a funeral march than an elegy for a friendship gone sour. The 1987 Orwellian nightmare scenario Courage, and Fate, from the 1993 Love of Hopeless Causes album, were especially amped, as was a ferocious version of Today Is a Good Day, a sardonic response to the 2008 global market crash: “And the birds of prey love September, flying like the harbingers of the winter,” Sullivan snarled.

The second set concentrated on the hits. NMA’s game plan for their 30th anniversary tour has been to do two stands in each city, two sets a night, neither repeating any of the previous night’s material – which they can do since their back catalog is so vast – and so strong. They dedicated a roaring, punked-out version of 51st State (as in “51st state of America”) to Brooklyn, stomped through the hypnotic, swirling biotech-apocalypse scenario White Coats, a characteristically sarcastic take of the 1981 hit A Liberal Education and ferocious versions of Vengeance and White Light, with its nimble bass riffage. The biggest crowd-pleaser was a surprise, the wistful, folk-tinged Green and Grey: referring to the cities to the south that lure kids from their northern England homes, Sullivan changed the lyric to “the land of unemployment that beckons to us all.” As the second verse began, he turned the mic over to the audience, who by now were well-oiled, knew all the words and were only too glad to join in. Whether critiquing the wave of destruction unleashed by Margaret Thatcher and her cronies, the evils of globalization or just fondly remembering the woods and fields of his youth as he did with that song, Sullivan and the rest of the band had the packed house energized, and if only for a couple of hours, fused as one against the forces of evil. Even a somewhat comical little fender-bender outside the club – “Didn’t know there’d be three sets tonight,” said one bemused onlooker – couldn’t distract from the intensity onstage.

September 4, 2010 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 4/29/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Thursday’s song is #91:

Pulp – I Spy

Every workingman’s fantasy – to screw the rich guy’s piece of ass. Even better – spirit her away to a better place, away from the evil boss, and turn her against him. All this and more set to a deliciously sweeping, epic synth-noir spy theme. From Different Class, 1996.

April 28, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 4/5/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Monday’s song is #115:

Supertramp – A Soapbox Opera

The lyric to this one is at best inscrutable and at worst doesn’t make much sense at all. It’s the melody – Rick Davies’ hushed, upper-register piano against lush string synth orchestration – that makes this swaying backbeat ballad so wrenchingly beautiful. Originally released on Crisis? What Crisis? in 1975, the best version is on the 1979 live Paris album. Or look for a bootleg from that era: there are some good ones out there.

April 4, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 3/23/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Tuesday’s song is #128:

The Wild Swans – Now & Forever

Nonchalantly chilling new wave pop semi-hit from 1988 from the Bringing Home the Ashes album, an overcast British wintertime tableau that doesn’t exactly exude optimism:

You want the life you can’t afford, after all that you’ve been through
Soon it will be over
Boy has this town crippled you

March 23, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 3/6/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Saturday’s song is #145:

The Fabulous Poodles – Suicide Bridge

Absolutely haunting, scurrying, morbid violin-driven new wave from the surreal British band’s Think Pink album, 1979. The way the violin solo trades off to the guitar is transcendent. No streaming audio that we can find; the album was finally re-released digitally as a two-pack with the band’s first US release, Mirror Star, last year, so now there are torrents out there like this one.

March 6, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 2/18/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Thursday’s song is #161:

String Driven Thing – Suicide

Just so you know, we deleted Decades by Joy Division to make room for this somewhat more direct, fiery blues-rock song by the cult band responsible for the 1972 The Machine That Cried album. This one’s from the band’s 1992 Live in Manchester reunion tour cd, a bitter rocker’s graveside tableau:

The T in contract

The I in impasse

The M in muzak

The E in Ex-lax

The S in suicide

The long, Dave Swarbrick style violin solo winds this up ferociously.

February 18, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 2/10/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Wednesday’s song is #169:

Elvis Costello – The Other Side of Summer

The one standout track on the otherwise forgettable Mighty Like a Rose album, 1991, this gorgeous janglerock gem is a richly sarcastic swipe at sunniness in all its forms. Believe it or not, it was once used in an episode of Beverly Hills 90210.

February 10, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 2/9/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Tuesday’s song is #170:

The Jam – Mr. Clean

“And if I get the chance I’ll fuck up your life, Mr. Clean,” Paul Weller snarls. One of the great anti-yuppie diatribes ever; sweet Bruce Foxton bass groove too. From All Mod Cons, 1978; Foxton and drummer Rick Buckler continue to play this one live in their From the Jam project.

February 9, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 2/4/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Thursday’s song is #175:

String Driven Thing – Starving in the Tropics

Labelmates of Van Der Graaf Generator, British folk/blues rockers String Driven Thing are best remembered for their 1972 cult album The Machine That Cried. This one’s a searing, bluesy eco-disaster anthem from the Keep Yer ‘And On It lp, 1975. If you can find a link to a digital recording (it was never reissued), let us know. Frontman/guitarist Chris Adams still maintains a myspace page for the band.

February 4, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 1/23/10

Til the next post, as we do every day the best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues all the way to #1. Tuesday’s song was #191:

The Electric Light Orchestra – Whisper in the Night

Roy Wood’s greatest moment in the band is this towering, haunting anthem, a rustic mix of plaintive acoustic guitar and a million cello and other string overdubs. Also from No Answer, 1972.

Wednesday’s was #190

Elvis Costello – Red Shoes

Trivia question – in 1977, on My Aim Is True, Costello was backed by what future million-selling, cringeworthy 80s hitmakers? Answer: Huey Lewis & the News! To the King’s infinite credit, he gets them to do a credible Byrds imitation here.

Thursday’s was #189:

Erica Smith – Jesus’ Clown

Sean Dolan’s lyric is a clever fly-on-the-wall take on the Stations of the Cross from a nonbeliever’s perspective. Behind Smith’s understatedly haunting vocals, Love Camp 7 guitarist Dann Baker adds a forest of searing overdubs that do Neil Young one better. Unreleased but ostensibly due to see the light of day sometime early in this decade.

Friday’s was #188:

The Sex Pistols – Did You No Wrong

Musically, with all those searing layers of Steve Jones guitar, it’s arguably the Pistols’ most interesting song, an outtake from Never Mind the Bollocks first issued on Flogging a Dead Horse in 1978. Which begs the question, why was it left off Never Mind the Bollocks? Maybe because it’s a Glenn Matlock tune?

And today’s is:

187. Angelo Badalamenti – Moving Through Time

The haunting centerpiece of the 1992 Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me film soundtrack, Bill Mays’ macabre piano cascading around an eerie two-chord chromatic vamp.

January 23, 2010 Posted by | Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Literature, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment