never going back to Tucson…

Have I told you about Dan Stuart?

So here we are with The Unfortunate Demise of Marlowe Billings. This time Dan is collaborating with lucha libre masked Danny Amis of Los Straitjackets. It’s been a long strange trip as they say. We have travelled through anger, pain, revenge and now here we are with our hero staring through the bottom of a Tequila glass and reflecting on travels, travails and sorrows.

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There is still a sense of bitterness and anger, tempered by a much wearier sound. Almost soul music at times distilled through a peyote fueled nightmare and a world weary world view. It is the music that happens after the bad trip. As with the other Marlow Billings album there is a sense of autobiography about the album, a weariness and a sense of no regrets.

It’s a great end to a recording career apparently. Stuart has expressed a disatisfaction with the current habit of listening to records on shuffle. He has therefore decided to stop recording albums, he is however committed to continue recording songs. 

Dan Stuart still sounds dangerous and there is a feeling that he would be very happy to set aside the gentle Americana vibe, strap on his Gretsch and blow your mind with some significantly raucous punk rock roots rock. The characters of his songs slink through life creating havoc, ripping you off and leaving you penniless and alone wondering what happened. It’s a life you want to look in on but nor have roll around in.

Day 8 zero records bought.

your the one I used to love, now I’m dancing with the whores above…

With an album cover that reminds us all of a certain age that we are all declining in some way. An aging rock star stares bemusedly away from the camera overseen by the fearsome clowns of our past looking over his shoulder.

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At one time we were all fierce rock and roll warriors blazing a trail of glory through the seedy firmament of back street clubs and festivals. Time has however caught up with us with spreading waistlines and the creeping tiredness that happens when we contemplate standing in a sweaty club to listen to new music for hours. My friend and I laugh at the idea of having become the creepy guys swaying at the back to the latest band on the stage, able to appreciate but not truly immerse ourselves in the experience that at times seems exclusively reserved for the youthful. We have become what we rebelled against, the establishment. We can no longer join the union because we are now the man.

Dan Stuart in 2012 crawled out of his own creeping malaise to start making records again. He was inspired by the pain of a lost love and the thought of what that means to an older man. He followed it up with Marlowe’s Revenge in 2016. There is still the anger of loss but now the darkness of retribution.  It’s a beautiful powerful angry fuck you of an album. It’s a wailing album that manages not to be self pitying, it’s like the conversation you may have at the bar with a friend years after the divorce, and six shots into the night. He is backed by the Twin Tones a young band of Mexican musicians that bring back bite and sneer to his music. He is the old uncle having a pull on the whiskey bottle and a bong hit before stepping unsteadily to the stage to show the young bucks how it was done back in the punk rock days.

It is not many an ex-punk that can muster a good record never mind several. Stuart has never been concerned about his image or people liking him. He describes himself in his fake memoir as:

“I’m not a particularly nice person and if you have to worry about whether you like me or not then we’re both wasting our time.”

And on songwriting:

“Songwriting is easy.

Don’t pick up that shitty old guitar until you have to. Be fucked up but with the clarity of a monk. Fear noodling and embrace the obvious. Keep the windows open, it’s just notes and shit.”

I’ve made it to page 25 and there is a quotable moment on every page, I may be a bit of a fan of Dan and his alter ego Marlowe Billings.

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yesterdays hazy, tomorrows a blur…

The dysfunctional 80’s have come full circle in more ways than one. The political ramifications of, well I am not going to bleat on, but we are currently experiencing the final outcome of dissolving the power of collective bargaining. In another full circle for me Dan Stuart has now drawn a line under his career maybe.

So I have been enjoying Dans music recently, actually since the first time I heard Green on Red I have been enjoying Dan’s music. It is some of the rawest, emotional and honest songwriting around.  Yes throughout most of the 80’s/90’s Dan and Green on Red were on the messier side of live performances, they could however be totally captivating in their own manic way.

Dan is now an older wiser but just as cynical on his new album the Unfortunate Demise of Marlowe Billings. He is in a reflective mood it seems, looking at his own past and his current situation. He has been forced into more of folk/songwriter than rock star, there I however a sense that he is ready to bust out the electric and rock it up at any time, maybe just waiting for the right invite.

 

Her body language says I’d be better off dead…

I just realized I missed a free show by Dan Stuart (a.k.a. Marlowe Billings) in September at the Alberta St. Pub in Portland Or. This has caused no level of frustration after all a free show is one I can afford. However if you are in Liverpool on November 27th this year you can see him live at the Naked Lunch Cafe, this show however does not appear to be free.

I am kicking myself so hard it hurts.

The Marlow Billings trilogy began in 2012 with The Deliverance of Marlow Billings, IMG_1085loosely connected to his unofficial memoir of the same name. Funnily enough I just ordered the book and the record. I have had the CD for awhile, I know that is allegedly an alien format saved only for dire circumstances. This must really be one as I am currently what we call Spotifying the thing. This is truly an act of desperation as the CD’s are all boxed up in the shed and I no longer have a working CD player anywhere.

Neil Young has the Ditch and Dan Stuart has Marlowe Billings, the alter ego rock star bent on destruction. The first installment of this trilogy chronicles the demise of a love affair. As you stagger with Marlowe through his story there can only be one apparent end.

Green on Red could be a harrowing experience on record and live. Dan Stuart solo has all the intensity and violence inherent in the band distilled to 100 proof shit kicking moonshine. It’ll leave you reaching down deep to drag the last vestiges of empathy across the broken whiskey bottles of life. There have been many a confessional album over time  but not many have been this totally fucked up.

Apparently Stuart survived the break up, the asylum and life on the road. He moved south of the border to a gentler calmer life style and started to get the story of Marlowe Billings down on record. Sometimes the songs are light and airy as if the Springfield and The Byrds got together for an afternoon in the sun, other times it sounds like that sunny afternoon suddenly took a turn for the dark, the vocals suddenly become more claustrophobic and real and then you know your hearing something too real.

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The record has been ordered and this album will become one of the many I now own in two formats. Pretty soon I may end up stopping the CD buying.