The War On Drugs – Lost In The DreamMark Dohmann
|Label:||Secretly Canadian – SC310|
|Format:||2 × Vinyl, LP, Album|
|Released:||18 March 2014|
“Did the earth move for you Nancy?”
So sang Simply Red Mick Hucknall on their debut album track “Moneys to tight to mention”.
Verse 3 “We talk about Reaganonics, Oh lord down in the congress, They’re passing all kinds of bills, From down capitol hill, we’ve tried them”.
Then in the Outro “I’m talkin’ about money, money (x4), Eh, I’m talkin’ money, I’m talkin’ about running, running (x3), Did the earth move for you, Nancy? (x4), Yeah, I’m talking, Nancy (x5), Yeah, I’m talking ’bout it, Yeah, yeah, yeah, Oh, I want some money, money, money, Read my heaven, oh my, The sight of all that money”.
Nowadays one can look back at the Reagan era politics with different coloured glasses. The 1980’s President was derided at the time for being “a dumb actor” by some of his critics. But look back at his appearances on Johnny Carson talk shows and various Dean Martin roasts and you’ll learn he had a degree in Economics and a good sense of humour. His wife Nancy was lampooned some by Mick Hucknall most likely in reference to her “Just Say No” to drugs campaign.
One thing that those growing up in that era would have felt is the threat of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) as the heavyweights on the geopolitical stage slugged it out. Wars were being fought on multiple fronts. One war that was raging since Richard Nixon became President in 1969 was a war on drugs. Shortly after Ronald Reagan became president in 1981, he delivered a speech on the topic. Reagan announced, “We’re taking down the surrender flag that has flown over so many drug efforts; we’re running up a battle flag.”
Reagan was able to pass the Anti-Drug Abuse Act through Congress. This legislation appropriated an additional $1.7 billion to fund the War on Drugs. How has that battle faired? In the real world I can’t see much progress to stem the illegal tide and in a lot of places the movement is towards legalisation. Having a bunch of mates who worked in enforcement I personally think only HBO and Netflix has won. The Wire, Breaking Bad, Narco’s are all addictive series to watch as the protagonists’ battle it out for supremacy as the subject matter is about the ongoing war on drugs.
The War on Drugs is an American rock band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, formed in 2005. The band consists of Adam Granduciel (lyrics, lead vocals, guitar), David Hartley (bass guitar), Robbie Bennett (keyboards), Charlie Hall (drums), Jon Natchez (saxophone, keyboards) and Anthony LaMarca (guitar). The band’s musical style has been described as indie rock, heartland rock and neo-psychedelia, as well as part of the Americana music.
Founded by close collaborators Adam Granduciel and Kurt Vile, The War on Drugs released their debut studio album, Wagonwheel Blues, in 2008. Vile departed shortly after its release to focus on his solo career. The band’s second studio album Slave Ambient was released in 2011 to favourable reviews and a lengthy tour which proceeded.
The band’s third album, ‘Lost in the Dream’, was released in 2014 following extensive touring and a period of loneliness and depression for primary songwriter Granduciel. It was released to widespread critical acclaim and increased exposure. Previous collaborator Hall joined the band as its full-time drummer during the recording process, with saxophonist Natchez and additional guitarist LaMarca accompanying the band for its world tour. Signing to Atlantic Records, the six-piece band released their fourth album, A Deeper Understanding, in 2017, which won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.
So why name your band the War on Drugs?
Granduciel explains the band name origin: “My friend Julian and I came up with it a few years ago over a couple bottles of red wine and a few typewriters when we were living in Oakland. We were writing a lot back then, working on a dictionary, and it just came out and we were like ‘hey, good band name?’ So eventually when I moved to Philadelphia and got a band together I used it. It was either that or The Rigatoni Danzas. I think we made the right choice. I always felt though that it was the kind of name I could record all sorts of different music under without any sort of predictability inherent in the name.”
The War On Drugs’ 2014 Lost in the Dream record topped numerous end-of-year lists of the best albums, including those of Consequence of Sound, Uncut, Q magazine, Paste and Under the Radar. In addition it came top of Metacritic’s compilation of 139 different Top Ten lists for 2014 published by a variety of music sources.
Adam Granduciel was plagued for three or four years by a chronic back problem. It started out as a bulging disc, but gradually escalated from annoying too debilitating. By October 2016, when he was trying to complete A Deeper Understanding, the agony was unbearable.
“It was bad, bad, bad, bad, bad,” he told Q Magazine. “I was in pain all the time. I couldn’t sit in a chair for more than a couple of minutes. I couldn’t stand and hold a guitar for more than a minute. I was 8 months into making the record and I had to get it fixed or I wouldn’t have been able to get it done.” The War on Drugs front man finally had surgery November 2016 and his ordeal inspired the song “Pain.”
I was introduced to the band by my buddy Josh H and Mark O who said it was the album of the year for him when it was released. Shortly afterwards War on Drugs would tour Australia and we got tickets at the Forum. You can appreciate a similar performance recorded in Holland.
I can describe it as an all-enveloping embrace of a tidal wave of keyboard infused rock with hints of Roxy Music, Krautrock (think Can, Neu, Manuel Göttsching’s E2-E4 (you all know I’m a huge fan of “zees Germans”)).
It’s like jumping into a deep natural pool at dusk and just floating about. No need to swim, just float and look into the night sky. Kind of like a sensory deprivation tank only your senses are being mashed with layers and layers of beats, brass, strings, boards in long instrumental breaks. Make sure you play the YouTube link all the way to the Encore: 13. Your Love Is Calling My Name. You don’t want it to stop.
From the Forum night George Moraitis, my daughter and I left that concert in a dream like state. We didn’t take one iota of chemical enhancement to get a euphoric rush. Days later we were still in the daze of just how good this band is. I guess I have to change my viewpoint and admit the War on Drugs has been won. The earth did move at The Forum Nancy! ;-)
I’m not sure if Chemist Warehouse dispenses vinyl LP’s yet, so I had to get my fix from the pusher man on Discogs. Package arrived in a brown paper envelop so my missus didn’t twig as to the contents (only an illusion in my mind – she knows).
It’s an addictive hobby this one!
Adam Granduciel and his band have worked out a way to deliver a good dose of healing.
A1 Under The Pressure 8:51
A2 Red Eyes 4:59
A3 Suffering 6:01
B1 An Ocean In Between The Waves 7:11
B2 Disappearing 6:51
C1 Eyes To The Wind 5:54
C2 The Haunting Idle 3:07
C3 Burning 5:48
D1 Lost In The Dream 4:09
D2 In Reverse 7:41
Baritone Saxophone – Jon Natchez
Bass – Dave Hartley*
Drums, Percussion – Charlie Hall (7)
Synthesizer [Arp 2600] – Michael Johnson (9)
Vocals, Electric Guitar, Piano, Synthesizer, Other [MS16 Dubs] – Adam Granduciel