What Rocks Us: Stereolab

from the Black Sessions (French radio?)

Alfredo and I went to see Stereolab last week (thanks Alf!), and while the show was really really great, it was the first time I’d seen them without guitarist/backing vocalist Mary Hansen, who was killed in a bicycle accident in London in 2002. The band bravely and wisely went on without her, replacing most of her vocals with french horn and trombone, which works amazingly well. I only recognized a few songs they played, it was heavy on the newer stuff, which, again, is all very good, but their spiffy professional musicianship now lacks the slacky, noisy indie charm of their first few records, in the same way that today’s Belle and Sebastian just isn’t the same as “Lazy Line Painter Jane.” Both bands have always been tight and densely layered, but both have mellowed out sonically with age.

So in tribute to Mary and the concert last week, here’s a great live version of their first Too Pure single, “Super-Electric,” with Lætitia and Mary on vocals, from French radio circa 1993. It was my favorite Stereolab song until Vina and I decided to get married while “Jenny Ondioline” happened to be playing.