A Head Full of Wishes

A Head Full of Wishes is a site for Galaxie 500, Luna, Damon & Naomi, Dean & Britta and Dean Wareham. With news, articles and lists of releases and past and future shows.

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Happy 25th birthday to Luna's Penthouse

Luna - Penthouse cassette (Beggars Banquet, 1995)

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:

Laura Lee Davies in Time Out, August 1995

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.

Stephen Dalton in NME, 12 August 1995

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.

Mark Luffman in Melody Maker, 12 August 1995

“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:

Penthouse deluxe (2017)

… better late than never - happy birthday you beauty!