The debut album by Luna's Britta Phillips is now available to stream in full on WSJ. The album is released on the 29th April and can be pre-ordered from Pledgemusic as well as all the usual online and offline suspects.
Monday I headed home after work, grabbed a bite to eat and my son and we headed to Cafe OTO for Damon & Naomi’s London show of their short European tour - they’d played Stewart Lee’s ATP festival in Wales the day before and were heading off for a date in Spain and one in Berlin.
I was running a bit late but Chris messaged me at eight to tell me that the doors hadn’t yet opened - which seemed a bit odd but was fine because it meant I wasn’t going to miss the support act, Richard Youngs who once again was being joined by Damon on drums and voice.
We arrived not long after the doors had opened and shuffled in next to Chris who’d got a prime spot and nabbed us a couple of seats. It was heading to 8:45 before Richard and Damon took to the stage. We were told at this point that earlier in the day Damon had had a tumble down some stairs but, like a trooper, was going to take his place on the drum stool.
The show went well, they were playing through Richard’s recent album Inside the Future and Damon’s contributions didn’t seem to be too hampered by his fall, although he did seem a little stiffer than usual - but it didn’t seem to have any negative effect on a good set.
With the album over Damon headed off stage and left Richard to play his way up the guitar neck with a number of one chord songs of varying lengths.
Towards the end of the set there was some shuffling noises over my left shoulder and Richard played the last song staring, with undisguised concern, into that corner of the room.
Set over, and after a short wait Naomi and Richard appeared on stage to explain that during Richard’s solo set Damon’s condition had taken a more concerning turn and that an ambulance had been called and Damon & Naomi wouldn’t be playing. Refunds were offered (although I suspect mostly not taken) and shortly after the room was filled with the blue flashing lights signifying the arrival of the ambulance.
Damon was rushed off to A&E at Homerton hospital where the NHS did their awesome stuff with tests and drugs. Adam, Chris and I hopped on the Overground for a slightly earlier night than anticipated.
I woke to an email from Naomi sent at 3am reporting that Damon was ok and had been given the nod to head to Spain for their show in Madrid.
On Tuesday morning Adam, Hazel and I headed to Berlin for a short break that coincided with Damon & Naomi visiting the city later on the week (not unintentionally of course).
Damon & Naomi played their Tuesday night show in Madrid, although Damon didn’t take up his part in the support band.
Friday evening we took the twenty minute walk from our appartment to the venue, stopping on the way to get sneered at by a sausage vendor for trying to buy the veggie currywurst he proudly advertised, but didn’t sell!
We arrived at the Grüner Salon and headed in, found some comfy seats and bought some drinks. Damon headed over to say hello and fill us in on their adventures in London (and give us a peek at the quite horrendous bruise on his back!).
Naomi also popped over and made some fanboy spill lemonade down himself - she was sweet enough not to notice but the event gave my family hours of entertainment mocking me!
Damon was retaking his position in the support act for this show and took to the stage with Richard Youngs to once again play through Inside the Future. However the venue had somehow failed to supply a drum kit so one had been fashioned from things found around the venue.
Damon sat himself behind a wooden chair, a plastic bucket, and a chrome-effect pedal bin; he also made use of various items of crockery and cutlery. The kit was played seriously and beautifully, without any hint that it wasn’t a perfectly respectable instrument - this made the set beautifully unique and thoroughly enjoyable.
After Inside the Future Richard finished his set a capella with quizzing accompaniment from his son and vocal drone accompaniment from the audience.
Then they played through Fortune - it was my third screening of Fortune and the film is still beautiful (and baffling) and the songs are gorgeous - the album stands beautifully on its own and The North Light is right up there with my favourite Damon & Naomi songs.
The band played in a building called Moulton Union, in the main lounge. A band called The Wishniaks, from Philadelphia […] opened up. Galaxie 500 played for about an hour and really didn't seem to want to be there beforehand, although they put on a phenomenal and truly hypnotic show.
Dean drove a Dodge Dart to Maine. Damon & Naomi drove up in a blue Saab 900. Damon had a drum kit that said Galaxie 500 in silver on the bass drum. Naomi wore orange leggings. About forty or fifty people came to the show.
We were scheduled to go on at nine that night, but the opening band played for an hour and a half while we waited in the green room that the students had set up for us. […] We sat in that green room getting more and more irritated. And that was our final show. An annoying evening at Bowdoin College.
I made it through the set, loaded my amplifier and guitar into the back of my blue '75 Dodge Dart and drove all the way home to New York City.
On the Monday morning (8th April 1991) Damon rang Dean about the planned tour of Japan…
Damon called me first that morning - to book plane tickets for a Japanese tour. I said I didn't want to go. Isn't that how people often leave a band? Someone is informed about an upcoming gig and they say, you know what, I'm not going
I regret it ended badly - but that's how things often end.
What happened was simply that Dean quit, more or less out of the blue, on the telephone one day […] in fact he didn't even place the call! It was after we had finished what turned out to be our last tour, which was an opening slot for the Cocteau Twins in the States; we had an upcoming tour to Japan […] so I called Dean to say "let's buy our tickets", and he said no, I quit. No explanation, just "there's nothing more to talk about" and that was it. A lot of years of friendship, not too mention the band, down the drain in a minute.
Damon called Dean to say he was going to buy our plane tickets to Japan for the tour we had booked there, and Dean said he quit.Damon asked why and Dean said he had nothing more to say to us. I couldn't believe Dean could just throw everything away so carelessly and not even want to discuss it. I got on the phone and did something I had never done before: I yelled at him and told him he was lazy and a selfish coward. Then I hung up.
And on that heartbreakingly sad note Galaxie 500 came to an end. A tiny news item appeared in the Melody Maker a month later and we were left with three perfect albums and the memories.
The Pledgemusic store is packed with goodies including signed test pressings, t-shirts, rare vinyl, Luna posters, and handwritten lyric sheets - as well as, of course, CD and vinyl copies of the album itself - and with all the extras being posted (see below) you'd be silly not to head over to Pledgemusic and order something.
If you haven't put your order in you've been missing out on posts:
… about the recording process…
Then Dean played guitar on 3 more songs – we kept his original guitars on "Landslide" & "Fallin' In Love." I kept my original demo guitars on the 4 songs I play on. I especially like what I played on the song "Luck or Magic," but I’m not really a guitar player…
… stacks of downloads of full tracks, demos, snippets etc. Including both sides of teh Fallin' In Love/Hey Paula single; a couple of Jem era tracks; early demos of her cover of Drive (The Cars)
Damon & Naomi's short European jaunt in April now includes a stop in Spain.
The duo will play Clamores in Madrid on the 19th April, following shows as part of ATP's festival in Prestatyn and a show at Cafe OTO in London and before finishing their tour up with a date in Berlin.
All shows will also feature Richard Youngs and Damon will be playing drums with Richard.
The show is another of kubacheck's recordings and is from the 9:30 Club in Washington DC on the 6th October. Here's how NYCTaper describe it:
This DC show is notable for the minimal amount of stage banter and for a real workman-like but very strong run through the best material from the tour. For a topper, Luna came back out a second time for an encore and delivered a bit of a rarity — a sharp cover of Donovan’s "Season of the Witch".
The article also includes the premiere of the video for Britta's cover of Drive. The video was directed by Debra Scherer of The Culture Crush who has previously made videos for a number of other Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips songs - check them out.
First of all, I never would have picked "Drive" and "Landslide" to cover. Those were Scott Hardkiss's choices. He picked all these really huge hits, which I try to steer clear of, but I was intrigued by the fact that he really wanted me to do these, so I gave it a go. I was surprised that it came out that way. That's part of the reason why we used the title Luck or Magic.
Luck or Magic will be release in April and you can pre-order the album (and buy lots of other goodies - including the fab poster below) on Britta's Pledge Music page
At this Q&A with Beat Happening's Calvin Johnson he recounts the story of playing with Galaxie 500 at the YWCA Hall in Boston.
The Q&A took place with journalist Everett True at Rough Trade East in London in November 2015 - the Galaxie 500 question arrives about 4'30" in.
We thought the music was quite calming, but the lyrics were on the verge of hysteria, and we liked that. He was singing about being a tugboat captain in a context that it felt as though you wanted to edge away from him very slowly so that you wouldn't want to alarm him in any way, and this we found very attractive - we liked it.