THE STONES & BRIAN JONES
When those billion-dollar lips traipse through Levi Stadium this July (the exact date being the 17th, with the cheapest ticket in the nosebleeds at $266), it will be part of a tour sponsored by AARP. Let’s pause for a moment and consider the genius marketing behind this move, but also question whether it’s too on the nose. Regardless, it makes perfect billion-dollar sense for the three remaining members of the band.
As a Rolling Stones fan, I appreciated, nay was totally obsessed with, their music up until around 1981, just before things started to feel like a cash grab every time Mick and the Boys came around. Undercover of The Night, the 1983 record they cut for the MTV generation, didn’t feel like the Stones. More like Mick eyeing Prince and MJ’s bank accounts.
But that’s a different story.
According to Bill Wyman in the Nick Broomfield documentary The Stones & Brian Jones, Brian Jones, founder of the generational band who will never stop touring, mentored Mick, and came up with the iconic lick at the top of “Paint It Black.” Jones brought the band along and taught them. Displayed inappropriate behavior to the young lads. By the time Jones died at 27 in 1969, after being kicked out of the band he formed, he had five kids by five different women.
What’s just as pivotal and devastating is that despite Jones’ personal demons, it was him, not Mick or Keef, who came up with the idea and musical approach of recontextualizing Black American blues for White America. A dollar printing machine the Stones can always count on.
While The Stones & Brian Jones is a great documentary for music nerds, a must-watch for anybody who geeks out on Stones lore—and there’s a ton—it’s a sad account of how the brainchild of The Stones never got to see the band he formed attain their world domination.
Maybe it’s for the best.
The Stones & Brian Jones is streaming everywhere.
But in the meantime….It’s Under The Stars, babe. A quasi-weekly column that presents new music releases, upcoming shows, opinions, and other adjacent items. We keep moving with the changes and thinking outside the margins.
From Pumpkin Spice to Peppermint Mocha we go…..
(I’ll just take a large coffee, two sugars, and some cream)
MARK DE CLIVE-LOWE, CHARLIE PARKER WITH STRINGS REMIXED
When I was a kid, I stumbled upon Charlie Parker with Strings record in my parents’ collection… and it added new verbiage to the Parker legacy, at least for me. I didn’t fully understand it at the time, but I could feel the combination of the beautiful strings and piano matched with the melancholic blues, elevated to a new level. The strings and piano communicated everything was going to be OK, but Parker’s horn, that tone, spoke a different emotion. This mix of vibes hit me hard, like a James Brown’s band workout, cooking at 5am, at King Studios in Cincinnati cutting a 10-minute mega-jam.
Mark de Clive-Lowe, the pianist, producer, live remixer, and composer based out of Los Angeles, has been a fixture in the futuristic jazz scene for quite some time. His new digital EP takes selections from Charlie Parker’s 1950 album with strings, produced by Norman Granz, and retools them for contemporary ears. “Repetition” is reshaped with a humid broken-beat approach, while “Temptation” is modeled for that head-nodding procedural. Both selections are sharp and intuitive, floating out the blues in modern form. However, “Temptation” is planting the flag in the ground declaration of purpose.
So many times new-jack producers get cute, choosing jazzy patches from original songs for the loop-it-up treatment that comes off cute, and most times unfeeling. Clown show, Bro.
But Mark de Clive-Lowe is not new to this.
With mini-solos from Parker draped in the modal, his blues—those tics and accents from Parker wrapped around classic boom-bap tenor, sees Mark de Clive-Lowe execute some of his most lively reworkings in a while, and that’s saying something considering his long and distinguished list of albums and singles that arrive at a pretty fast clip these days.
The sentiment here is hauntingly pensive and thumpasaurously irresistible.
Pick it up here.
NEUTRALS AT THE KNOCKOUT, DECEMBER 9
Looking for an early happy hour post-punk show featuring one of the Bay’s favorite trios? Get down to Knockout in the Mission Sat/9 at 5pm for hometown power trio Neutrals, who hails from “Oakland-SF by way of Glasgow.” This is their final show for 2023.
Neutrals recently opened for punk duo Sweeping Promises (aka Lira Mondal and Caufield Schnug from Lawrence, Kansas) at The Chapel this September, giving fans a taste of what’s to come next year. We may be a little biased, but that’s OK.
Between Allen McNaughton’s “ham-fisted post-punk guitar playing” with his recognizable Scottish accent, Neutrals’ economical songwriting and slash-and-burn guitar charm, Phil Lantz’s muscular drumming, and Lauren Matsui’s killer bass work and harmonic quotient (she’s married to drummer Phil Lantz and also plays in Seablite), this is a great Saturday show that won’t keep you out too late.
DREGS ONE & MAX KANE, 91 OWL: HEAVEN OR HELL
“My game is undeniable, ungentrifiable,” declares rapper Dregs One, emphasizing the essence of being a “Real San Franciscan.” This earned proclamation is accompanied by the trunk-rattling, grimy West Coast thump of producer and DJ Max Kane on their six-song EP 91 Owl: Heaven Or Hell. Together, they take listeners on a journey through the dense microclimates of San Francisco by way of after-hours ongoings that define our collective Sucka Free Frisco.
This record puts you on a corner in the Mission, just watching life pass by—no easy feat.
But with six songs that go full bump with no pause, this duo has unlocked our city….
Without the self-driving cars.
And that’s a reason for a proper salute.
Named after the famous Muni Late Night bus that circles the 49 square miles like no other, Dregs and Kane’s streets speak louder after dark. Wordplay and frequency convey true hip-hop and graffiti culture, undiluted. Valuable lessons are passed down to those who choose to listen.
When sunset hits and Karl The Fog rolls up to drop the temperature, the EP navigates through the shadows and fog. Just look at the album cover – images of local city fixtures like the Cliff House, Giant Value store, Creative Music from the Excelsior, the awning for New Mission Theater, and even that orange Crown Victoria always slow-rolling on Mission Street.
These priceless installations shine.
Dregs One and Max Kane flawlessly serve up that late-night cruise, getting to the heart of the matter with an EP that just vibes off that original thick shit.
Buy it here.
DON LEISURE & AMANDA WHITING, BEYOND THE MIDNIGHT SUN (FIRST WORD RECORDS)
Don Leisure, the creative doer, remains open to unconventional ideas in order to achieve unforeseen outcomes. Which oftentimes works best. Leisure is one half of Darkhouse Family, with Earl Jeffers being the other half. He has been releasing solo projects under various aliases and labels since the 2000s, covering a range of genres including drum and bass, hip-hop, and eclectic beat music. He has also done remixes for DJ Spinna and label-mate Kaidi Tatham.
In his latest album, Beyond The Midnight Sun, Leisure moves away from the beat tape format of his previous releases while still maintaining his signature sound. The album features live instrumentation and vocals, with the addition of harp player Amanda Whiting, whose talents are in conversation with Brandee Younger and chasing the greats Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane. The album is a fusion of spiritual jazz energy, hip-hop meter, psychedelics, and soul, resulting in imaginative trippy arrangements that soar.
Leisure’s previous release, Shaboo Strikes Back, was a 47-minute eccentric beat-tape that paid homage to his Kenyan-born uncle Shaboo, who emigrated to London in search of fame as an actor. It featured a mix of styles, including blaring bass, quiet storm samples, piano breakbeats, R&B vocal snippets, and Asian radio station jingles. That shit slapped for days.
“All Praises Due”, featuring Angel Bat David & Amanda Whiting, served as a precursor to Beyond The Midnight Sun.
That meeting gave Leisure the idea to travel on a journey that reaches outside formulaic patterns, and once again we reap the rewards.
Pick it up here.