Now, this is a wonderful subject for a book:

Begin the Begin is the first biography of R.E.M. wholly researched and written since they disbanded in 2011. It offers by far the most detailed account of the group's formative years--their early lives, their first encounters with one another, their legendary debut show, early tours in the back of a van, initial recordings, their shrewdly paced rise to fame. The people and places of the American South are crucial to the R.E.M. story in ways much more complex and interesting than have previously been presented, claims Robert Dean Lurie; he explores the myriad ways in which the band's adopted hometown of Athens, Georgia--and the South in general--shaped its members and the character of their art. The South is much more than the background here; it plays a major role: the creative ferment that erupted in Athens and gripped many of its young inhabitants in the late 1970s and early '80s drew on regional traditions of outsider art and general cultural out-thereness, and gave rise to a free-spirited music scene that produced the B-52's and Pylon, as well as laying the ground for R.E.M.'s subsequent breakout success. Lurie has tracked down and interviewed numerous figures in the band's history who were underrepresented in, or absent from, earlier biographies--they contribute previously undocumented stories and cast a fresh light on the familiar narrative.

There are so many myths around R.E.M. They were just like every other band, but they broke through and reached a level of commercial success that probably made them feel excited and horrified at the same time.

The value of this book is likely going to be judged on several levels. Will it honestly address the efforts that the band made to keep their secrets from getting out? Will it deal with everything that happened to Jefferson Holt? What was the price of fame? Did Peter Buck spend 1985 wearing a bathrobe?

Barbed Wire Kisses: The Jesus and Mary Chain

The Jesus and Mary Chain are a band that defies every label that you can throw at them. They have built a career out of being difficult on purpose, no matter what the cost. 

If they became disciples of feedback in the eyes of the media, they would abandon feedback and hire a drum machine. If they became a little too dance oriented, then they'd swallow their pride and hire a real drummer. If the songs became too poppy, they'd throw violent imagery into the lyrics and abandon all pretense of being commercial. And just when their music label would reject an album, they would sign with the original label that discovered them and forge ahead.

No one ever did more to sabotage their career than the Jesus and Mary Chain. They would turn up drunk, alienate the promotional apparatus of the entire British music industry, and play 15 minutes before walking off of the stage. Whenever they needed to speak to someone influential or important, they would take the piss and say the wrong things. They soared high with Creation's Alan McGee and dumped him as soon as they saw the bags of cash that a major label were willing to throw at them. When years of debauchery and infighting left them "stoned and dethroned," no one wanted to put out their album Munki. But it was McGee who welcomed them back into the fold and saved them from embarrassment. Loyalty is hardly the watchword for a band that dispensed with members as often as the Mary Chain. It has always been a William and Jim Reid situation; they even sacked their faithful drum machine. The book should have spelled out what happened to the device that featured so prominently in their early years. Were it not for the fickle, drum machine-averse American audiences, that thing would probably still be on tour with the bad this very summer.

Reading this book made me angry that I can't go see them. All they had to do was find a way to make it to Texas, and I would be there. Hey, maybe next time.

Everything is chronological, and that makes sense in that the story of the Mary Chain is one of rolling through the thick fog of pop music history. This is primarily how the book flows. The band would do something massive, and then fuck it all up. They would write a beautiful song and mangle how it would be presented to the public. At exactly the point where appearing on Top of the Pops or the BBC would have thrown them into the realm of superstar acts, they got themselves banned. When they needed to play a great show in front of a large crowd, they would walk off after abusing them with curses and feedback. It is exhausting to read, but essential for understanding how they created artistic success without ever selling out. That's the explosive, vital lesson of the Mary Chain--you can make it in spite of yourself, and you can do great things without having to compromise your integrity. Rock and Roll is not about playing a perfect set for 90 minutes to an adoring crowd that gets every hit they want to hear. It's about danger, mistakes, and passionately fucking everything up in front of people who get everything they weren't expecting.

Several celebrities have cameos in the book, but none more hilarious than a hapless Paul Weller, who crossed paths with the band and gave them passive aggressive advice and things to laugh at. None of this degrades the legend of the Modfather in any way, shape or form.

I have a very personal connection to how they subverted everything in the 1980s, but I would not consider myself an obsession fan. I discovered them on MTV like everyone else because the American Midwest was never friendly for Indie bands from England.

The very first thing I ever read about them was a baffled album review in People Magazine from 1985. What the hell was Psychocandy? Who the hell were these guys? Good God, no one knew, but they were slightly blasphemous and they had the right hair so they had to be good, right? It was the innovation, dummy. They were influencers without figuring anything out. They were shy but abusive, reclusive but on tour constantly.

Nobody ever took a bigger right turn from a debut album to a second album than the Mary Chain. Go back and listen to "April Skies" and then listen to anything from Psychocandy. Who reinvents themselves like that? Who says, "Alright, that's enough of what just made us huge. Here's something completely different." No two albums sound alike and nothing could illustrate their artistic merit better than the diversity of their sound and the reach of their efforts to eliminate everything boring from music.

Where do you slot them? Which genre describes them? Who gets to claim them--noise merchants, shoegazers, 90s alt-legends, or aging hipsters? They have credibility everywhere and belong to no one. They are the closest thing there is to a slightly different, but wholly separate version of Echo & the Bunnymen; when all other comparisons fail, just put them in the bucket with "English and accomplished" and leave it at that. The parallels are stark, but the Mary Chain never made an Electrafixion record and they never made a sleepy stinker like What Are You Going to Do With Your Life. They have their clunkers, but don't we all? Show me a great, interesting band and there will be at least one or two things that make you look away out of embarrassment.

The reason why this book works as a career narrative is because it doesn't shy away from explaining just exactly what they did right and wrong in equal measures. It focuses on the songs, the albums, and the tours and it breaks down the way they dissolved into dysfunction and thrown punches. It takes you through the embarrassing, cliched use of alcohol and drugs without looking for pathos.

There's even a disastrous detour through the Far East, replete with cancelled gigs and confused fans. The band went from broke to rich to broke to whatever they are now without abandoning whatever it is that passes for artistic credibility. There isn't even a butter ad in their immediate past, but how could you sell butter with one of their songs? You might be able to sell your soul to the devil for an album like Automatic, but why would you want to? The Reid brothers were there first, and they suffered on the cross for everything they did. They have lived and died for your rock and roll sins.

Isn't that enough?

Creation Stories


Creation Stories is a book I enjoyed reading, but it did leave me wanting more.

I should state, up front, this review of the book is not a normal one. The book came out two years ago, and I just got around to it recently. I do recommend this for fans of the British music genre known as "Britpop" because you'll get a fair amount of background information from the book. You'll want to view it as a historical look at British independent music from the early Eighties until the end of the Nineties. It is not comprehensive, but there are a fair amount of good anecdotes to give you a superficial understanding of where Creation Records and Alan McGee fit into everything.

McGee downplays himself throughout the book. He could rightly call himself a genius at several things, but specifically he was enormously gifted when it came to spotting talent. This is a combination of knowing how to size up people, evaluate their skills, hear what they could do on stage, and make a business judgment about them relative to the music industry. Many people have done this and done quite well; McGee found the biggest band since U2 and a dozen other bands that were both commercially and artistically successful. He found Oasis, the Jesus & Mary Chain, Primal Scream, and a slew of other bands. He made millions for himself and for the artists that he worked with. He had his finger on the pulse and built a successful company.

Now, the fact that he did all of that while out of his mind on drugs is neither here nor there. The book details his prowess finding artists and it reveals the failures he had both professionally and personally. This is an honest book, through and through.

McGee could have been more specific and he could have researched dates and times and really looked at how Creation Records moved and shaped the culture. He could have done one book separately on Oasis and one on the company; it all blends together after a while. He is probably on the hook for another telling of these stories, and that's all right--there's so much more happening that you miss out on. I would have liked more focus on the business side of things, just to get more of a feel for how he ran things. What I came away with was an understanding that this wasn't a madcap laugh or a lucky break. Building Creation Records wasn't just what he did while on drug holiday or while sleeping on trains. He bridged the music scenes from Manchester, Glasgow, and London and made local acts global stars. He put music in the hands of people who never would have discovered it. He spent millions on records that otherwise would have never been heard. 

I do think it was a good read. I do wish there were specific year by year breakdowns and summaries of how big the company got, how big was the roster, why bands would come and go, and how it all compared to other labels in the same business. He breezes through some of these details and you don't really get the whole story of what happened when Oasis dwarfed the rest of their roster of bands and why some acts broke out and why some faded away. I don't know if he's trying to be even-handed or spare feelings, but he's relentlessly hard on himself and honest about his failings. In and of itself, McGee's harrowing descriptions of life at home and his health scares makes this a worthy read.

If McGee gets around to writing about more of the things I've outlined above, then all the better.


"Annapolis" was taken June 30, 2009. This particular shot happened entirely by accident in the marina and was not staged. The two people in the background were not aware of this shot even though they are perfectly positioned to make the photo work. This was just a lucky shot with my old Canon digital camera and has gone completely undiscovered for over seven years.

This photo is "busy" in the sense that the composition seems to be confused. The angles and lines of the boat in the foreground and the positioning of the people in the background makes it look cinematic for a moment, but it really isn't. I think the blue hull of the boat in the upper right hand corner really makes it all come together.

I had gone to Annapolis to see The Church play at Ram's Head Tavern and it was a tough tour for the band. They were supporting Untitled #23 and were going around in two small vans. The show opener, Adam Franklin, was powerful and it was a momentous thing to see him and his band play.

But The Church, still with Marty Willson-Piper at that time, levitated the building. Decades of experience has given them a confident live presence that defies explanation. They filled that room and they played an enormously important set, curated down to the moment and designed to allow them to walk off leaving no one untouched. To hear selections from The Blurred Crusade era was a marvelous experience. The show was heavy on selections from the beginning and end of their catalog.

This photo reminded me of that night, and I didn't even know it existed until a little while ago.

Wyatt at the Coyote Palace

Kristin Hersh continues to move the world in her direction. Not content with a mere album, she's releasing a book to coincide with the music she's written and she's going to tour the British Isles in November:

Kristin Hersh returns again to Ireland and the UK for a rare solo tour in support of her highly anticipated new double CD and book, “Wyatt At The Coyote Palace” (Omnibus Press) due out October 4th, a 24 track collection of brand new songs. Pre-orders for “Wyatt” will be available very soon on this site. “Wyatt” is the third release in the groundbreaking book/CD format that Kristin began with her most recent solo album “Crooked” and the Throwing Muses 2013 release “Purgatory/Paradise”. “An Evening with Kristin Hersh” includes readings and songs from her works spanning her entire career.

1 November 2016 – Dundalk, Ireland – Spirit Store – tickets
2 November 2016 – Dublin, Ireland – Pavillion Theatre – tickets
3 November 2016 – Cork, Ireland – Triskel Christchurch – tickets
4 November 2016 – Galway, Ireland – Roisin Dubh – tickets
5 November 2016 – Limerick, Ireland – Dolans Warehouse
7 November 2016 – Portsmouth, UK – Wedgewood Room – tickets
8 November 2016 – Bristol, UK – Lantern Theatre – tickets
9 November 2016 – Exeter, UK – Phoenix – tickets
10 November 2016 – Cardiff, UK – Clwb Ifor Bach – tickets
11 November 2016 – Aldershot, UK – West End Centre
13 November 2016 – Manchester, UK – Gorilla – tickets
16 November 2016 – York, UK – Crescent – tickets
17 November 2016 – Edinburgh, UK – Summerhall
18 November 2016 – Glasgow, UK – Mono – tickets
19 November 2016 – Liverpool, UK – Philharmonic Music Room – tickets
20 November 2016 – Hebden Bridge, UK – Trades Club
21 November 2016 – Norwich, UK – Norwich Arts Center
22 November 2016 – Brighton, UK – Komedia – tickets
24 November 2016 – London, UK – St John in Bethnal Green – tickets
25 November 2016 – Folkestone – Literary Festival – info

Who else has the range and the ability to do something like this? 

MTV Never Had a Clue About Anything Important

The idea that MTV had an understanding of American musical culture or the arts in general is laughable. You only had to live through the 1980s to know this:

With the benefit of hindsight, 1991 was a watershed year for rock music. That was the year of Pearl Jam’s Ten and Nirvana’s Nevermind. A documentary released in 1992 even referred to it as The Year Punk Broke. The alternative revolution was just entering its golden age, as evidenced by the popularity of the inaugural Lollapalooza. But MTV’s Kurt Loder and Tabitha Soren did not have the benefit of hindsight when they made a recap special called The Year In Rock: 1991, a long-forgotten program that has resurfaced, thanks to Reddit. What did Loder and Soren see when they looked back over the previous 12 months? “A pretty bad year” of slumping album sales and half-empty concert tours. Pearl Jam is not mentioned in the special, and Nirvana is relegated to a spotlight on new artists, alongside Color Me Badd and Marky Mark. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is briefly used to accompany a segment about the Persian Gulf War.

Because MTV was situated in the Northeast of the United States, everything that it did was based on pressure from record companies. American music has always had a regional flavor, and that was ignored by the cultural elites based in New York City. If a certain label wanted an artist to break, they would put heavy pressure on MTV to play their video and on New York based publications to provide positive coverage. This could also mean gaining favorable coverage through what was loosely termed "MTV News" by making the artist available for exclusive material. If you deliver content, you can demand that it gets airtime. And if you were in the business of keeping these people happy, why wouldn't you look up the sales information and run with that? There was no alternative back then--you took what the labels handed you and you dealt with it. Now, you can tell them to fuck off. 

Remember when Pidlar made a video with Nick Offerman? That's a video you would never have seen on MTV in the 1990s. Good God, they were so prudish it was a wonder anything made it onto the air.

I am so glad I ignored MTV for all of those years. It's always a shock for me to go and find the "official" video for songs from the 1980s and 1990s that I liked; I never had a chance to see any of that stuff because I couldn't be bothered to engage "music television" at all. And, yes, MTV's 120 Minutes was a joke then and it's a joke now.

The Raunchiest Photo Simply Won't Do

Hating Zooey Deschanel

With Gawker seeming to dominate the news this week, I thought I would dig up this rusty, worn-out old post about how they have relentlessly targeted Zooey Deschanel and serve it up like something I just found.
Even today, whenever Gawker posts about Deschanel, I usually just ignore it. However, in the comments, people are basically calling out the site and pointing out that bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have similar bans on the use of phones. So, you know, blog fail or whatever.
This is the 'mean girls' aspect of Gawker that doesn't get enough attention. Why do they go after people like Deschanel and why is it newsworthy? She's a celebrity, she can probably handle a fair amount of attention, but Gawker usually goes above and beyond normal decency. We saw that last week and I think we'll see it again unless someone dismantles Gawker and fires everyone.
The gist of my original post centered around trying to get people to watch the show instead of taping it on their phones. Artists have begun trying to separate fans from their phones and from the practice of holding this rectangular plastic thing in front of them so that they can claim to have watched the show in person. How that translates into an experience is beyond my grasp. Why not enjoy what you are seeing without worrying about your phone?
If you have to record something just to remember it, your mind is already gone.

Who Cares What Lana Del Rey Was Paid?

No one would ask a male singer what he was paid to sing for a wedding, so why does it matter if Lana Del Rey was paid to sing for a private event?

There is a double standard out there for performers and for the arts--it only matters if a woman is paid for something (and thus, she must be some sort of a prostitute). A male can whore himself out--and Elton John, cough cough, the entire world is looking in your direction--and no one says anything at all.

Charles Taylor is Hilariously Wrong About Music

It's just too easy sometimes:
Music continues to be the prime cultural vehicle each generation uses to identify itself. It’s also the means each generation uses, no matter how hypocritically, to proclaim its superiority over succeeding generations. Nothing has ever summed up that attitude like the installment of Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury that ran in Sunday papers on August 26, 1979, in which Mark, the radical DJ, is ordered by his station manager to play more disco. “Let’s start out with the Village People’s ‘YMCA’ and Donna Summer’s ‘Bad Girls,’” he says, “two exciting testaments to the social sensibilities of disco. One of them is about meeting adolescent homosexuals in a public gymnasium, and the other is a celebration of prostitution.” A strip to make William Bennett or Donald Wildmon smile. Trudeau is telling us that the drugs and sex he and his contemporaries engaged in was about changing the world. This new stuff? It’s just hookers and queers cruising the showers.
Music has lot a great deal of cultural importance over the last decade or so. And if you want to see where the culture is headed, look no further than the fact that I can find five Game Stops any day of the week but I can't find a single place to buy new music that isn't a severely over-priced retail outlet like Target or Wal-Mart that seems to actively shrink the size of their music department on a monthly basis.

Remember the days when Best Buy and Circuit City had a price war over CDs and that meant being able to find virtually every title available by damned near every good band for $11.99? Yeah, me neither.

I do think Taylor is honest about wanting to make the band Wussy relevant but there's no way to do that without coming across as being old and grizzled and out of touch. No matter how hard you try to get people to care, they just don't anymore. The last three albums of original songs by The Church, for example, were absolutely stunning works of art. If you stacked Untitled #23, Uninvited Like the Clouds, and Forget Yourself against everything out there and judged them fairly, you'd have to conclude that the Church are criminally ignored everywhere in the world, and have been so for over twenty years. People tuned them out and moved on, and nothing they do seems to catch on anymore, no matter how good the work and no matter how often they go on tour.

This is because music doesn't matter anymore. Entertainment has to be a video game or a television show to resonate with people. They have their throbbing beats in their ears but that's only to drown out other sounds and isolate them from weirdos on the street. How is it that Dr. Dre can get rich slapping his name on headphones with heavy bass built into them and virtually no one making the music played through those devices can ever count on a decent royalty check for providing the very thing that makes the headphones relevant in the first place? Device makers and streaming service providers are filthy rich--iPods, Spotify, Beat Sounds--you name it. If you are the maker of some product that can steal music from artists or change it in any way, you can count on making cash. But if you actually make that music, go fuck yourself for wanting to get paid. See Sean Parker on your way out the door for an explanation as to why you're stupid for thinking you should get paid for making him a billionaire douchebag.

For every ten listeners of music, is there one person who could engage something like Wussy? Good luck competing for that person's attention.

I get that people want to be in their forties and still get excited about bands and albums and vinyl and continue working retail jobs and not having kids, but when you actually grow up and pay attention to the world, stop condescending to anyone with a different path through life. The central conceit of the Baby Boomers was the supremacy of all of their cultural touchstones. On further review, none of their bullshit could stop wars, end poverty, end racism, or change the hearts of the record company execs who stood by and let Napster, et al, eat their business and shit it out before their eyes. Where there were once piles of cash and cocaine now sit pennies from Spotify. Suck on that and try to live.

Take a Cultural Treasure Away From the British

Kelly Clarkson has been gracious, but there's no reason why she has had to be. Her decision to accept the sale of Jane Austen's ring back to the English speaking people of what they call Great Britain now is admirable. I come down on the side of history. Let the highest bidder walk away with items that are privately owned.

The British government has appropriated untold numbers of treasures from other countries. Sending back the cultural artifacts of Greece alone would involve removing massive numbers of items and sending them back to the Greece. And we're having a conniption about one ring?

The conqueror and the thief have reigned for thousands of years and now we're going to deny the purchasing power of the pop princess who wants to take something she's willing to pay for home with her? Something is a little out of whack here.

Yes, You Gotta Pay For Stuff

I found this attempt to look at what illegal music sharing has done for non-traditional and classical artists very interesting:
Over the past fourteen years, since the launch of peer-to-peer filesharing service Napster, those rights have been harder and harder to protect, whether you’re Domingo, Dylan or Diddy. The recent news that global recorded music revenues are growing for the first time since Napster’s launch in 1999 must therefore be cause for tentative celebration – even if the growth is only 0.3%. 
But the menace of illegal music-sharing still looms large. “Our markets remain rigged by illegal free music,” says Frances Moore, Chief Executive of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, whose latest findings estimate that a massive 32% of all internet users still regularly access unlicensed music sites. 
This turns what’s left of the legal online music space into a vicious turf war where the rules of engagement change constantly and a titan like Apple – which, according to Asymco analyst Horace Dediu, controls around 75% of the $9.3bn digital music space – must watch its back. Witness the launch later this year of iTunes Radio, intended to counter the attack from subscription services like Spotify and Pandora, that now boast tens of millions of users worldwide and whose profits make up more than 10% of overall digital revenues. 
But if life in the small, legal digital space is tough for the mainstream record industry and content-distribution companies, it’s even more precarious for those in classical music, whose audience has traditionally exhibited very different buying, listening and collecting habits to those in the pop world.

The problem is, no one is going to pay for music in the future. It will continue to vanish as the years progress, and if classical artists can't survive, then they will simply stop making music.

No one could possibly live off of revenues from Spotify. I don't even know how that would even begin to compensate a classical music ensemble. If you had a popular quartet, how would they even begin to subsidize their future recordings from a Spotify account? It's mind-boggling. You gotta pay for stuff.

Would it be rude to point out that a massive amount of wealth was stolen from artists and concentrated in the hands of an immature manchild who believes himself entitled to fairytale weddings that destroy the environment?

Can It Create Inspired Mistakes From Scratch?

They've invented a computer program or a complex piece of software that can compose music, and, somehow, this is supposed to revolutionize the way music is now composed. And that's fine--someone has to justify all of that time being wasted on things no one wants to hear.

In reality, though, the idea of making complex musical pieces has been with us for a long time. Composers in this modern era have been making dense, complex music for decades and decades and there is an audience for this art. It doesn't really contribute to the consciousness of the world, however, because it is of limited and esoteric value.

My favorite pieces of music are inspired trips through mistakes and false starts. The beauty of a Replacements album or a Slowdive track or a Radiohead throwaway freebie album isn't found in the obvious choices made by the composer. What makes them great is that they are slowed down trips through instruments that aren't operating properly or played in a conventional fashion.

When a computer can make something like shoegazer music, then I think there will be something to this.

Spin Magazine Has Been Sold Again

Someone has decided to sell Spin Magazine, and someone else has decided to buy it:
Spin Media, the company behind the alternative-music magazine Spin, has been sold to Buzzmedia, a portfolio of music and celebrity Web sites, in a deal that could expand Spin’s reach online but also calls into question its future as a print publication. 
Buzzmedia, which owns or sells advertising for music blogs like Stereogum,Hype Machine and Idolator, and also runs sites for Kim Kardashian and other celebrities, will get Spin’s 27-year-old print magazine as well as its Web site, iPad app and live event business, the two companies announced on Tuesday. 
Financial terms were not disclosed. The last time Spin was sold, to the publisher McEvoy Group in 2006, the price was reportedly less than $5 million.
What's it really worth? Well, probably less than your house, sir.

The image I've posted above is a reminder from my own days of reading music magazines in the late 1980s. This particular issue sat on the shelf for several months--months--because Spin was shut down by Bob Guccione. His son, Bob Jr., decamped to another location and put the magazine out for another decade or so before selling it.

I preferred Musician magazine back in the day, but all of those issues are, essentially, lost. If someone were to convert them all to an e-reader format, I'm sure that they would make interesting reading, albeit, only to middle-aged music snobs and to people who were paying attention to the music of that era. 

You basically had to be into mainstream music to want to read Rolling Stone, and I have never bought into what Rolling Stone thought music was supposed to be about. What little they would publish about the bands that I cared about wouldn't fill a single issue, I suppose.

Back then, there were so few music magazines, I read it by default, even though I did not and still don't care about the Grateful Dead or the Stones, and I don't care about the Beatles or whoever else they have exalted over the decades. The influence of Rolling Stone has been detrimental to the history of recorded music, primarily because they spent the 1980s encasing in gold the idea that the music of the 1960s was superior to everything else and that there were "cool" bands and you had to listen to them or you weren't cool. This is the business model of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and nobody that Jann Wenner doesn't think is cool need apply for entry. I'm talking to you, Moody Blues.

No publication in the history of anything has ever spent more time trying to sell Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica to the masses, and, I'm sorry, but Captain Beefheart is just hipster bullshit. And Rolling Stone is nothing but a purveyor of soft-core underage porn and hipster bullshit.

What I liked about Spin was that they never tried to sell that stuff. I used to read it fairly religiously, being a grocery store employee. When you work in a grocery store, you get to read the magazines for free, homes. It's true. And Spin was one that I read whenever I could. They never forced anything, aside from trying to make John Cougar Mellencamp the heir apparent to Bruce Springsteen, and that failed, miserably.

Anyway, in about three years I'll be glad to drop five grand on Spin and buy it, if anyone is interested.

The Great Gatsby Looks Like a Sickening Mess

Baz Lurhman does not "update" this retelling of The Great Gatsby in the way that he updated Romeo + Juliet, but the frenetic trailer indicates to me that it has the potential to be a sickening mess. 

The yellow car you see above is a prominent part of the film; I think that, for the period, it drives way, way too fast--more like a Maserati than a vintage 1920s car. This in a detail that throws things off for me, but I'm weird like that.

Why would they cut a trailer full of frenetic energy when the subtlety of the book--the story at the heart of it all--is anything but frenetic? Jay Gatsby's story is about control, and how it slips away. A story paced and delivered with this slipping control would be welcome; anything that makes Perez Hilton can't be all that good.

Of particular concern is the use of the U2 song "Love is Blindness" and whatever other tunes Luhrman has shoehorned into the production. The thing about the 1920s is, the songs of that era were highly appropriate for any retelling of the story; why go with anything else?

You cannot review a film based on the trailer, but you can review the trailer and I think that this one is a turgid mess. It does not make me want to see this film. 

Here is the trailer, in HD: