The Flaming Lips and Miles Davis

The Flaming Lips’ new record Embryonic channels Miles DavisBitches Brew. The keys and overall production quality sound like Miles’ classic record. Big ups to Wayne Coyne & Co. for their best record since the modern classic Yoshimi, and big ups to Master Davis – we’re all still figuring out how ahead of everyone you really were.

Question: What do Julian Casablancas, The Black Crowes and Natalie Merchant have in common?

Answer: They all have at one point or another worked with former members of Marmalade, which was the best band in NYC in the early nineties IMHO. There is no website to commemorate this amazing concoction of musicians and personalities and the scene that surrounded them (aside from a facebook page dedicated to those who were there), but those of us who were there know it was special. Joe Crespo, with whom I started The Locals, my first real-deal band in the late 80′s, eventually quit to play bass in Marmalade, and thus began my varied associations with this wild group of awesome musicians and freethinking individuals. (Joe’s brother Ray was the founding drummer of FRANK, and was also in the mix back in those days, though he was at college for alot of the hijinks as far as I can remember). So many stories could be told, but for now we’ll just make the aforementioned connections:

Julian Casablancas’ recently released (and excellent) solo record, Phrazes for the Young, was produced by Jason Lader, founding member and guitarist in Marmalade.

The Black Crowes, whose return to form I’ve recently written about, now feature Adam MacDougall, formerly the keyboardist and occasional drummer in Marmalade, on keys.

Natalie Merchant featured Jen Turner, former guitarist and singer of Marmalade, and Adrian Lopez-Guevarra, former percussionist in Marmalade, on the Tigerlilly record, which was by far her most successful.

What a band.

All good things flow from Levon Helm (including the Black Crowes!).

I have always been a huge Levon Helm fan. Anyone who thinks that The Band was about Robbie Robertson need only watch The Last Waltz to see and hear where the real soul was coming from. In recent years Mr. Helm has overcome throat cancer and recorded two of the best records of the last decade – check them out here and here.

Also recently, The Black Crowes recorded a live set of new material at Helm’s farmhouse/studio/concert venue in upstate NY, and it’s the best music they’ve made since their masterpiece The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion.

So much inspiring music. Rock and roll has no age limitations.