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February 10, 2011


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Chris O.

Mr. Frere Jones and I have differing opinions on the latest from PJ Harvey, but the opening paragraph of his pan made me chortle a little:

Glenn Kenny

Feh. I DO have to give The New Yorker credit; I can't think of another outfit that can compel artists to actually pose for photo portraits to accompany a review in which the artist is more or less shat upon. Because that's what Frere-Jones is doing, in his polite, equivocating way. Therefore I wondered why he would want to leave such a gig, but further research showed that he was gonna keep his New Yorker berth while editing the culture section of The Daily. That "band" of his must really need some new gear, or something. I understand I could be napalming a potential bridge here, but who cares? It's fun, and as far as I'm concerned, Frere-Jones hasn't even come close to apologizing enough for smearing Stephen Merritt, who I'm not even that big a fan of.

But none of this is really about him. It's about ME! In A TAFFETA GOWN! What the hell's wrong with you, Chris?


Honest to gosh, I thought that was a young Springsteen.

Earthworm Jim

But who's the actual chick in that photo?

Glenn Kenny

The "chick" to whom you refer shall not be named. The young lady in question was my first, ahem, "proper' girlfriend, who was good-hearted enough not to complain o'ermuch when I'd force feed her Art Bears records. Even got off, slightly, on the sheer perversity of the somewhat harsh approach the combo took to its material. Had/has other nice qualities, too; we're still in touch. Not that I'm one of those simps who stays on good terms with all of his old girlfriends, just so you know. But anyway. I place the shot at Halloween 1978. Good God. I'm not even gonna tell you what my future wife was up to then.


Ha, ha, Kenny immortalizing the infinitely weird moment in BOBBY DEERFIELD where Pacino breaks out his Mae West imitation.

No idea why I actually own that movie on DVD. I was fascinated by it when I was 14 and at the height of my Pacino mania.

Chris O.

Sorry, Glenn... but you ain't showing your gams so I don't feel I can fairly answer the question at hand.

It does raise the question of whether or not you showed up to an Artificial Intelligence rehearsal wearing this same getup, pitching the group's glam rock potential.

Phil Freeman

I LIKE the new Harvey disc, a lot, and I'm not even a huge fan. It's part Kate Bush, part Siouxsie, and part Fairport Convention/Pentangle. If any of those things appeals to you, you'll dig it. (SFJ is a vastly overrated critic and thinker, by the way.)

Glenn Kenny

@ Chris O.: Well, A.I. didn't really get off the ground, such as it was, until a couple of years later. My stage outfit was more often than not a cheap suit, which I'd fuck up by rolling around like a maniac and slamming myself into the walls at the back and sides of our "stages," such as they were. Last weekend I saw Dave Weckerman and a couple of other Feelies-and-other-Haledon-related affiliated combos playing at a song swap in Milburn, and speaking with Dave afterwards he told me how badly my stage manner scared Richard Barone back in the day. It was both embarrassing and strangely gratifying to hear. I'll have to make sure to invite Richard to one of our reunion gigs this June.

@Phil: I'm looking forward to the new Peej disc myself. She's right up there with Assayas in my "can do little if any wrong" pantheon, I freely admit. I don't mind SFJ as much as I'd like people to believe, but since we're enumerating his sins, let me bring up his appalling "I saw Led Zeppelin and had a great time but they should never play again for the likes of YOU LOSERS OUT THERE" piece, a nadir/acme of the "bad" elitism...

Chris O.

@Phil & Glenn: He is a bit harsh on "White Chalk." I think it's gutsy to learn to play the piano for a specific album and tell the label that's what you're doing. Anyway, if you're interested in hearing the new one sooner than later, Glenn, it's streaming at NPR:

I'd first heard of Richard Barone on that Harry Nilsson tribute album that came out about sixteen years ago. He did a song himelf and I think he played, I think, on some other tracks, including guitar on Fred Schneider's hard rocking version of "Coconut" (produced by Steve Albini). Nonetheless, that's a cool anecdote.

Richard Barone

@Chris O.: Hmmmm... I'm trying to remember when a stage manager scared me... Come to think of it, I suppose most stage managers sometimes scare me! Also, Fred Schneider's "Coconut" from the Nilsson tribute album is not the same as the one Albini did on Fred's solo album of a year later. I produced Fred's tribute version (BTW, it is an AWESOME performance !!!) The arrangement was by me & Fred. The Albini version uses our arrangement, but it is an entirely re-recorded in his style. My song on the Nilsson cd is "I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City" - and it was a very special project to be a part of. Thanks for the mention! All my best,

Glenn Kenny

Now might be a good time to point out that Richard's most recent record, "Glow," is really something special.

Chris O.

@Richard: Thanks for the clarification! Interesting that he re-recorded the same arrangement. But, yeah, it's a wonderful tribute album. (For others reading, Aimee Mann's version of "One" from the same project re-appeared, of course, in PTA's "Magnolia.") And I'll definitely check out "Glow."

The Siren

Ou sont les robes d'antan?

Glenn Kenny

I kept that gown a rather unconscionably long time. I'll have to take that up with my therapist. I wonder if I could fit back into it now?

James Keepnews

Elliot Gould called from the set of Little Murders 41 years ago -- he wants his wig back.

I came to appreciate SF-J's writing after being primed by the transfixing music created by his superb, >ahem<, post-rock band Ui in the 90's. Two basses and drums never sounded more expansive or texturally intrigung, not even if Coxsone Dodd was recording it. Or Spinal Tap.

In the main, I like his writing not-as-much, but plenty enough, with a couple few caveats. E.g., that white-man's-burden 2.0 essay will more and more prove "White Negro/My Negro Problem" embarrassing for the Mr. F-J as time wears on, but what can I say? I'll go see the Bad Brains or TV on the Radio -- Christ a'mighty, to say nothing of Other Dimensions in Music! -- in a cracker heartbeat over Animal Collective or fill in the Kings County band blank. And, anyways, us musician/writer types gotta stick together...right, Dave Barry?

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