Because of the strangeness of 2020 I very nearly let This Is Our Music’s 30th anniversary pass by unheralded. But in the last week in August I decided that would just be like giving in to the shitshow of a year it’s been. So I put out a call, with less than two months to turn this around. The response was phenomenal.
This Music Is Ours features 10 fantastic covers of all the tracks from Galaxie 500’s This Is Our Music - plus the b-side of the Fourth of July single - and features bands from around the world putting their own unique take on the songs.
There is also a beautiful 16 page book with a piece of art representing each song on the album.
Galaxie 500 called their third album This Is Our Music. Which I suppose it was.
Within six months of its release the band had split up.
Maybe you can hear the end of the band on the album, but I never could. Maybe “way up high and going too fast” or “seems like everything is business” should have clued me in but I was never so astute.
All I heard was the band I loved still progressing, not necessarily getting better, or worse, but getting on.
When you have three near-perfect albums the very idea of ranking or rating them is ridiculous. But the internet loves a list, and music publications love a score, and when that happens with Galaxie 500 it’s This Is Our Music that invariably props up the list, and has the fewest stars.
But then you look at the track listing and you have to wonder how that can be. This is the album with Fourth of July, and Hearing Voices, and Summertime, and Listen, the Snow is Falling. It’s inconceivable that an album this strong could be anything but top of any list.
When Dean says that “half of it is good” or Kramer suggests that “it could have been twice as good” I think that they’re hearing more than the album. I think they’re hearing the making of the album, the friction, the frustration, the anger and impatience. Maybe they can hear the end of the band. I don’t hear that.
Perhaps the album’s title isn’t being said by the band - maybe it’s being said by us.
This music is ours.
Andy Aldridge - October 2020
A couple of rarely circulated Galaxie 500 recordings are currently being shared on Dimeadozen. You’ll need a Dimeadozen account to download these.
The first of which is a soundboard recording of the band at CBGBs in December 1988 - it’s been around a bit so isn’t crystal clear but for a nice early recording from shortly after the release of Today. The end of the tape also included a couple of studio outtakes, the fast version of Ceremony I’ve previously shared in a better sounding (but lossy) version, but the other track I’m not sure I’d ever heard before.
This was a benefit for See Hear, Ted Gottfried’s East Village basement zine-devoted shop over on East 7th Street, that had all of its inventory go awash in a flood. Mike McGonigal, who put out the zine Chemical Imbalance, was one of the employees, and he was the one who organized this benefit. Kramer was one of the members of B.A.L.L., and his connection to Galaxie was that he of course owned and operated Noise New York where he was the producer and engineer for all of the band’s recorded output before their breakup. He also recorded the Sonic Youth set this night which was mixed by Wharton Tiers, so there’s no reason to believe he didn’t also record this board tape.
The second recording is a really good audience recording from their last European tour.
Philipshalle, unlike the other small club recordings that have been shared so far in this series, had a seating capacity of 7,500 or so – probably 25 times the size of those other venues. Taking that into consideration, this is yet another magnificent recording. There’s a certain inescapable hollowed arena reverb but it plays up the atmospheric shoegazery of the band to full effect and expands it out into this much wider vista here. Being the sixth to last ever show they’d play in Europe, the short performance is something rather fierce and it’s up for debate whether that is a result of more polished playing over time or tensions within the band, but likely both. Hardly any flaws here, perhaps one could nitpick about some chatter over the quiet beginning of the Yoko song. The louder parts of that song almost evoke “Machine Gun” from the Band of Gypsys live at the Fillmore East with some Paul Kossoff licks thrown in for good measure.
Just put up for pre-order in Dean Wareham’s shop are some T-shirts with Brian Calvin’s lips design for “Quarantine Tapes”.
The T-shirts are available in black or light blue and cost $25 (and postage).
You can also pre-order a “Quarantine Tapes” tote bag for $15 (and postage).
If you haven’t already you should also buy the album which is available for $7 from Bandcamp and is well worth it!
On Saturday Dean and Britta played what they described as ther last live stream shows of “the season” (not entirely sure what this means but … more on that later).
They played two sets once again using the Veeps platform and, once again, were enhanced with the addition of Roger Brogan on drums, SFX and technical support. Both sets opened with a video of various clips of Dean & Britta (some I’d not seen before) playing while Roger DJ-ed for half an hour before show time.
On time, and without any noticeable technical issues this time (save for the slight annoyance of the video struggling with autofocus) - Dean and Britta took the stage - and, this time, the stage didn’t involve a sofa - the shows were to be played standing up.
The first set opened with The Incredible String Band’s Air followed by Night Nurse and Galaxie 500’s Pictures. The duo seemed relaxed and were on good chatty form and the periodic dip into the chat-room didn’t seem as intrusive as it sometimes did in earlier shows. That chat-room was lively and fun and added to the enjoyment of the show.
Dean & Britta have announced another couple of live stream shows for the 26th September - they will be playing an early show at 12:00 PDT, which is a suitable time for European fans, and a later show at 18:00 PDT.
Once again the shows will be streamed using Veeps and tickets are $11.50 per show (of $23 with an audio download after the event).
More details and links to buy tickets can be found here:
On Thursday evening, ahead of Galaxie 500’s Copenhagen arriving on vinyl for the first time on Saturday, (Damon Krukowski @dada_drummer) will be on Twitter listening to the album and chatting/commenting on it - and answering questions.
The online listening party will be hosted by @newburycomics and we’ll all be pressing play at 7PM EDT on Thursday 27th August (that’s midnight in the UK and Portugal and 1am in the rest of western Europe) - follow the hashtag #Galaxie500xNewbury.
Listen along using one of the following methods (or one of your own)
- Your Galaxie 500 Copenhagen CD
- Galaxie 500 - Copenhagen on Bandcamp
- Galaxie 500 - Copenhagen on Spotify
- Galaxie 500 - Copenhagen on YouTube
- The cassette you taped off a mate like it was 1990
Copenhagen will be hitting your local indie record store of choice in the first of the Record Store Day drops on Saturday - check with your store to find out how they’re managing things in the current climate - some are opening physically while others will be doing online sales only. Good luck.
OK, I’ve left this a bit late so timescales are a bit short but I think, if I can get enough interest I’d like to do something for the 30th anniversary of This Is Our Music which will be in October.
I’d like a cover version of each track on the album and, if possible a piece of visual art (preferably square or as close to square as possible).
This will be released as a CD(R) and a booklet.
If you’re interested in contributing please give me a shout and suggest which track you might like to cover (it might help if you have a second choice in case the first has already been assigned).
Please NOTE the short timescale - I would like all contributions in by the end of September.
If you can contribute please get in touch - if you know a band or artist who might like to contribute please pass this information on to them.
- Fourth of July
- Hearing Voices
- Way Up High
- Listen, the Snow Is Falling
- Melt Away
- King of Spain Part Two
This is what was released for On Fire’s 30th last year - still available to buy over on Bandcamp!
1996 to 1999 era Luna have just released a cover of Television’s Marquee Moon. The track was recorded in Auckland (Justin), Los Angeles (Dean), Austin (Lee) and San Francisco (Sean) in June 2020 and mixed by Justin.
Here is how we did it. Lee Wall laid down a drum track at his home studio in Austin. Sean mapped out and played the bulk of the electric guitars in San Francisco, I sang and added a bit more guitar here in Los Angeles, and Justin recorded the bass in Auckland, New Zealand (where he has lived since leaving the band some 20 years ago); he also mixed the track and made a very cool video which he assembled from iPhone footage we each sent him.
Update: Now with a video…
During the current pandemic, with Luna members spread around the globe, our former bassist Justin Harwood suggested that we record Television’s epic track “Marquee Moon.” We recorded the song one instrument at a time in four different locations; Lee Wall recorded his drum track in Austin, Sean Eden tracked the guitars in San Francisco, Justin played the Fender bass in Auckland, New Zealand, and Dean Wareham sang and added guitar in Los Angeles. Britta Phillips sat this one out but does appear in the video. Justin Harwood mixed the song and assembled the video from iPhone footage made by the band members.
Available now from Dean Wareham’s website is this lovely box set of lathe-cut singles all recorded during Dean & Britta’s lockdown in Echo Park either during their live sessions or in their home studio. They are also available from the PIAPTK website
The box-set contains six square, clear plastic, two-sided 7” singles and will come with a bonus star shaped (although … is that a star?), one-sided single.
Track listing as follows:
- Massachusetts (The Bee Gees)
- Air (The Incredible String Band)
- Sadness (Donovan)
- Ride Into The Sun (The Velvet Underground)
- Neon Lights (Kraftwerk)
- Neon Lights (Holy Shit remix)
- I’m So Bored With the USA (The Clash)
- Drive (The Cars)
- Most of the Time (Bob Dylan)
- Indian Summer (Beat Happening)
- He Dines Out On Death (Cristina)
- 23 Minutes in Brussels (Luna)
These six singles can also be bought separately for $12.99 and includes a download of all the tracks.
Bonus “star” shaped single only available with the box
- Parking Lot (Galaxie 500)
You can also buy downloads of all the tracks except Plastic Bird from Dean & Britta’s Bandcamp
Happy 25th birthday to Luna’s third album, the masterpiece that is Penthouse!
Obviously an efficiently run fan-site would have been ready for such a milestone but as yesterday was the anniversary and this morning I’m hastily throwing together this celebration it would seem I’ve rather failed in that!
But here goes anyway:
In the opening “Chinatown” and the lilting “Moon Palace” the album sprawls its soft, sleek self out like a pet waiting to be adored
Whatever the mood, though, “Penthouse” is Dean Wareham’ achieving low-slung, urban cool without having to try too hard, which is the only way it should be done.
It’s a safe bet that Dean Wareham’s record collection is huge,meticulously catalogued and cross referenced to death. His anal fanboyapproach has often stymied previous Luna outings with AOR staidness,but now, perhaps mindful of this, he’s made his most feisty album yet.The Prozac has worn off, his eyelids are propped up, and Luna areready to rock. Sort of.
“Penthouse” is one of those records with its own internal logic, one of those records that, for one delicious moment, shifts your perspective. After playing it, the next dozen records you play, no matter what they are, will all sound strangely WRONG.
Dean was interviewed about Penthouse for the Life of the Record podcast
It was a good time to be in Luna. We were having fun, I think. I mean not that there weren’t some struggles in the making of this record, and was it a little more difficult than we anticipated. But yeah, I guess we took like, I’d say this record took seven weeks to make, which was certainly the longest I had spent making a record. But that’s nothing compared to some other people. When you’re signed to a multi-record deal to a major label, there’s this impetus I suppose to get off the road and you’re like, “Ok we better make a record so we can get paid again” (laughs). There’s good and bad in that. It’s not a terribly good reason to make a record but on the other hand actually it is a good reason to make a record (laughs). It’s pretty understandable. And like I say, it gets you working.
Well Penthouse remains my favorite Luna record. It’s unusual that you hear a record that works from beginning to end and I think this one does that just kind of casts a spell and maintains this mood from track one to track ten. Often times, it’s just like two interesting songs and a bunch of filler. But I think this one, Penthouse, really captured us at our best.
The always fab NYCTaper has a couple of recordings of Luna playing the album in full:
In October 2015 Luna played Penthouse in full for the first time in Atlanta.
In October 2019 Luna played three albums over three nights at The Bowery Ballroom, here’s a full download of the Penthouse show.
The album, famously, turns up in Rolling Stone’s 100 best albums of the 90s
Dean Wareham made his name with the Eighties dream-pop trio Galaxie 500, but he really found his muse in these scandalously beautiful guitar ballads. His foxy voice slinks along the languid guitars as he plumbs his foolish heart in the back of a New York cab, going home alone after another night of fancy drinks and lucky toasts. Wareham purrs some sly one-liners (“It’s no fun reading fortune cookies to yourself”) but the music celebrates the pleasures of being too young, too rich, too pretty and too single, shopping for true love while getting lost in Chinatown.
Back in 2017 a double LP deluxe edition of Penthouse was released for Record Store Day - I think some Spotify regions might have it to listen to - but if not it’s worth hunting down - you can stream/download it from Amazon.
I Hope the band don’t mind me popping this up here but this is an early/rough of Moon Palace from the Penthouse sessions:
Source: Penthouse Rough Mixes and Outtakes
… better late than never - happy birthday you beauty!