Thursday, July 22, 2010
Very chuffed to have been asked by the lovely folk at The Quietus to pen a piece on the world of Howe Gelb and Giant Sand. My argument is that epithets such as 'godfather of alt. country' damn Howe with faint praise. He's got nothing to do with snoozesome Whispering Bob approved MOR Americana, and much more in common with cats like Neil Young, Meat Puppets, Gun Club, X, Thelonious Monk, Tom Waits, PJ Harvey, Cormac McCarthy, Captain Beefheart, William Faulkner, Doug Sahm, Lee Hazelwood, Harry Dean Stanton, Richard Linklater and Los Bros Hernandez.
I've been a fan of Howe for years, but so vast is his discography that I only discovered certain albums for the first time, at least in full, while researching this piece. Many of these are long out of print, but happily, Fire Records have managed to license the entire Howe/Giant Sand/Band of Black Ranchette/Arizona Amp & Alternator discography - some 30 odd records - and are commencing a reissue program, starting with 1983's Valley of Rain, so you need pay ridiculous collector's prices for such classics as Center of the Universe or Long Stem Ramp no longer.
The Howe quotes in the Quietus piece are from an interview I conducted with the great man in 2006. This first appeared in Beard 6 from 2007, which is still available. My jejune attempts at scene-setting are cringeworthy, but the interview is a good read, thanks to Howe's wonderful way with words and quality anecdotes. Email us if you fancy a copy. They're cheap!
I'm very excited to say that I will be interviewing Howe again next week, the results of which will also appear on The Quietus. In the meantime, catch him with Kristin Hersh at the Barbican in London tonight and at the Sage, Gateshead on Saturday 24 July. A European tour is lined up for November, so fingers crossed for a Scottish date.
I'll leave you with a couple of videos that aren't in my Quietus piece - hell there's just too much good Howe stuff on Youtube. Gorgeous live version of Spiral, from 2008's Provisions and the video for Happenstance (such a lovely word, very Howe) from 1994's Glum.