Those Pretty Wrongs, a super duo comprised of Jody Stephens and Luther Russell, released their second album, Zed for Zulu, last week on Burger Records. If the names don’t immediately ring bells, their contributions to decades of American music most certainly do.
Stephens was the drummer for Big Star, the legendary Memphis rock band that landed three records in Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 best albums of all time. The band went onto inspire just about every 80’s and 90’s alternative rock band, including R.E.M. and The Replacements; the latter scored a hit with an ode to Big Star’s lead singer, “Alex Chilton”. Both of those bands (respectively with Green and Pleased to Meet Me), not to mention The White Stripes (Get Behind Me Satan), The Raconteurs (Broken Boy Soldiers), The Gin Blossoms (New Miserable Experience), ZZ Top (Eliminator), and current Popdose favorites Cait Brennan (Third) and Fernando Perdomo (The Golden Hour) recorded and/or mixed their epic works at Ardent Studios, which Stephens manages.
Russell recorded with the Freewheelers in the 90’s before setting off on an expansive solo and production career. He recently co-penned two songs on Weezer’s White Album (‘L.A. Girlz’ and ‘Endless Bummer’) and worked with Robyn Hitchcock. His latest solo record is 2018’s Medium Cool.
“Luther and I got together to play a few Big Star songs for a Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me documentary screening at The Nuart Theatre, Santa Monica in July 2013,” Stephens told Popdose of the band’s origins. “Other performances like KCRW and Amoeba Records were added. At some point Luther suggested we write some songs together. Relationships like this require a lot of trust but it was easy with him because he is such a positive force as well as incredibly talented.”
And here we are at album #2, from which Popdose proudly premieres the video for the single, ‘You and Me’, directed by Rachel Lichtman:
‘You and Me’ opens side two of the new record. The spirit of Big Star guitarist, Chris Bell (who died in 1978), lights up the track, as Luther’s acoustic guitar playing simmers through Bell’s original ES-330 and Hi-Watt amp, gear that was used on Big Star’s landmark #1 Record(1972) and Bell’s solo single “I Am the Cosmos” (1978). “We all lit up when we heard the first chords through Chris’ guitar,” said Jody. “I think Luther said ‘it plays itself.’ It was inspiring!”
As for the simple yet mesmerizing video, Luther said, “I’m glad Rachel agreed to do the first video for our new album. We have a lot of mutual friends and I respect her work and as usual she knocked it out of the park with a simple, yet effective concept.”
Jody added, “It was very clever of Rachel to include those iconic locations. They add some cool moments of unexpected discovery to the story line.”
Zed for Zulu is available now on Burger Records and through all streaming platforms.