I was a big fan of Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross’s two-volume Star Trek oral history The Fifty-Year Mission, so I fairly leapt at the chance to review Nobody Does It Better, their new oral history of the James Bond movies, for the Paper of Record. It’s not as illuminating or contradictory as their Trek books, though I was delighted to find some comments from my pal Matt Gourley within its (seven! hundred!) pages.
My first Washington Post byline in two years in a review of Steven Hyden’s new book Twilight of the Gods: A Journey to the End of Classic Rock. I had it with me on my own journey to the end of classic rock, when I caught an Amtrak up to New York two months ago to see Springsteen on Broadway. (I wrote up my impressions for Slate.) Strangely enough, my prior Post item was a review of Hyden’s previous book, Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me. That book was good. This one is better. Maybe your mom would enjoy receiving a copy on Sunday. I don’t know. I don’t know your mom.
“Passion without pressure” is how Roger Moore describes the kissing technique he says in his (second) memoir that Lana Turner taught him in 1956, a century or so before he replaced Sean Connery as 007. Gross. This poor girl. Gross.
Roger Moore was 45 when he made his first debut as James Bond — older than Sean Connery, who’d played the role in five films before he got fed up and abdicated, then was coaxed back and quit a second time – and approximately 110 by the last the last of his seven appearances as 007 12 years later. On the DVD extras for Live and Let Die, his 1973 debut as the superspy he and no one else refers to as “Jimmy” Bond, Moore tellingly bemoans the “30 minutes of daily swimming” he endured to develop the not-particularly-athletic physique he displays in the movie. In the three Bonds he made in the 80s, he rarely looked hale enough to survive a tryst with one of his decades-younger leading ladies, much less a dustup with punch-pulling henchpersons like Tee Hee or Jaws or May Day.
Such was the strength of the Bond brand: Audiences would buy that this guy, who looked and acted like the world’s most condescending game show host, was an elite assassin, as long as he looked good in a tuxedo. Which just happened to be Moore’s primary, not to say only, skill.
My review of Ron Perlman‘s autobiography Easy Street (The Hard Way) is in the Arts/Style section of this Sunday’s Washington Post. But you can read it now.
Perlman’s frequent deployment of the phrase, “Any muthafucka but this muthafucka!” really endeared him to me. I’ve always liked him as an actor, though. I watched Beauty and the Beast when I was a kid because I had a crush on Linda Hamilton stemming from The Terminator.
I was pleased when Ron Charles, the Washington Post‘s book critic and one the Style section’s very best writers, reached out to ask if I’d like to review a trio of upcoming auto/biographies — that’s two autobios, one bio — by artists. The first of those, in RE: Daryl Easlea‘s new biography of prog-rock provocateur-turned-adult-rock-minimalist Peter Gabriel, is the Sunday Arts section and online now.
Writing it last weekend inspired me to play some Gabriel albums for the first time in many, many years. Easlea repeats the conventional wisdom about how Gabriel’s last album to have any notable chart impact, 1992’s Us, was the denser, more difficult follow-up to his five-million-selling So. I loved Us when I was in high school, which gives you a hint what kind of 16-year-old I was. Most of it still sounds good to me.
My interest in Christmas music could not be described as casual, and I’ve long admired the songwriting of Nick Lowe, the onetime Jesus of Cool.
So his first — and probably last, but who can say? — holiday album, Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection for All the Family, is pitched squarely at me. I talked to him about it for Sunday’s Washington Post.
Been a while since my byline showed up there. Nice to be back.
I was asked to provide a sidebar for my Washington Post essay (in today’s Sunday Style insert, with Helen Mirren on the cover, which actually came out Friday) about making my annual yulemix. We didn’t have room for my brief rationales for choosing the Twelve Songs of Christmas that I did, so I’m posting it here. Bow your heads and tremble before Twelve Songs of Christmas!
(Not the twelve songs, as if there could be such a thing. Merely a dozen yule-sides that ring my Christmas bell, presented chronologically.)
I’m sorry to say that Cat Power’s concert at the 9:30 Club last night was another heart-rending chapter in her sad history as a panicky, fragmented performer. It’s always agonizing to watch someone on stage who clearly doesn’t want to be there. I hope she’ll get the help she needs. The club was sold out, so clearly her fans haven’t abandoned her. Last night’s audience struck me as uncommonly respectful, sympathetic and forgiving. Continue reading
Alabama Shakes opened the great show I saw the Drive-By Truckers play at the 9:30 Club with Booker T. Jones on New Year’s Eve. Their debut album, Boys & Girls, dropped this week.
I reviewed Alabama Shakes’ headling gig at Ram’s Head Live! (sic) in Baltimore Saturday night for the Washington Post.
And here‘s my Washington Post review of The Budos Band‘s headling gig at the 9:30 Club Thursday night. Wish I’d seen opener Charles Bradley’s full set, because when he returned to sing “Why Is It So Hard” with Budos during their encore he fairly mopped the floor with them. Continue reading
British folk phenom Laura Marling.
And Now for Something Ever-So-Slightly Different: My Washington Post review
of British folkie Laura Marling
‘s concert at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue last night.
Gillian Welch posted her Strathmore setlist on her Twitter feed this morning.
Ain’t never heard a horse sing no song.
I reviewed Gillian Welch and David Rawlings‘s concert at the Music Hall at Strathmore last night for the Washington Post. It was great. It was better than that. There wasn’t a bum note all night. Continue reading
So I’ve mortgaged my soul away to the Washington City Paper‘s Fringe & Purge blog, all about the Capital Fringe Festival, for another July, just like I did last year. Come see what we’re cooking over there.
But here‘s my Washington Post review of R. Kelly‘s not-nearly-freaky-deaky enough Verizon Center show from Independence Day weekend. I really wish they hadn’t cut the phrase “singing Tourette’s.”
Oh, and here‘s a really flattering, kind of embarrassing thing Andrew Beaujon for TBD wrote to pimp my participation on a panel about John Guare‘s play Six Degrees of Separation at the Phillips Collection last week.
I am very sorry I haven’t called you back or answered your e-mail. September is looking very good for that.
A perfectly cromulent lede except for being two years too late:
In a better world than this, Fleet Foxes is an all-female professional motorcycle racing team that dabbles in counterterrorism and sometimes unwinds by playing Runaways covers in their garage. In our imperfect realm? They’re Seattle dudes, vegans surely, at least half of whom have beards and wear stocking caps even when visiting Washington, DC in the summertime.
Here’s the review as it appeared in the Paper of Record.
Jeff Tweedy maintains that Wilco is a collaborative enterprise, though he's the man who wears the hat.
I conducted this interview with Jeff Tweedy on June 17. It was excerpted for a “Conversations” box that appeared in the Paper of Record on Sunday, July 5. Here’s the interview in something close to its entirety, albeit lightly edited for clarity. It’s up on Post Rock, too. Wilco are at Wolf Trap tonight with Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band.
There are bands that have sold more records during the past decade than Wilco, but few have been the subject of more discussion among rock’s cognoscenti. Guided by the songs and voice of Jeff Tweedy, 41, every Wilco album since 1996’s Being There, (with the arguable exception of 2007’s Sky Blue Sky) has explored new subjects, textures, and song structures.
Stop the Presses: I’ve got a little bit on St. Vincent nee Annie Clark in the Paper of Record’s Sunday Style + Arts roundup of musical young comers who’ll be playing around town in the next month or so.