Monday, January 31, 2005

Robert Pollard: Guided by Vices

According to, Robert Pollard is getting into the porn industry (well, soft porn):

"Guided By Voices called it a career with a two-show blowout late last month in Chicago, but frontman Robert Pollard is quickly moving forward. Beyond his usual cavalcade of projects, has learned Pollard is even in negotiations to be involved in a hush-hush soundtrack for a soft-porn film to be lensed by a major Hollywood director."

And more Pollard news:
"To kick-start his solo career, Pollard assembled recordings of his best-known alcohol-fueled stage rants and recently released them under the name "Relaxation of the A**hole" in a limited run of 500 vinyl copies via his Rockathon imprint.

Next up will be a Pollard solo single, "Zoom," which will arrive on 7-inch vinyl and CD single via Fading Captain on Feb. 28 for online orders and April 11 via traditional retail outlets. A March 29 online/April 11 retail release is also penciled in for a colored vinyl LP version of GBV's 1986 album "Forever Since Breakfast," which will be limited to 1,000 copies.

May 9 will bring a six-song EP from Moping Swans, which features Pollard teamed with former GBV bassist Greg Demos and drummer Jim MacPherson, plus guitarist Tony Conley, from Pollard's pre-GBV metal outfit Anacrusis. Pollard describes the music here as "jagged" and more "post-punk"-oriented than GBV's recent output."

He's doing about a million other things too. I think Pollard is addicted to making music. The guy just never stops!

Where the Family Members Have No Name

The Edge news from Launch:

"The Edge, the lead guitarist of U2, is fighting an Irish newspaper in court over its report into a relative's serious illness that forced the Irish rock band to delay the start of its next world tour. A High Court judge in Dublin agreed Monday to a two-week delay to the hearing of rival lawsuits between The Edge and the Sunday World newspaper. The Dublin-based tabloid identified the relative and condition the person was suffering in a front-page story Jan. 8, but withdrew the report from later editions when The Edge's lawyers immediately obtained a temporary injunction."

According to the article, the tabloid is claiming that the illness is "news" because it affected U2's planned tour. Whatever. But the best part of the article was not related to the lawsuits:

"The Edge, 43, has two children with Morleigh Steinberg, a belly dancer and choreographer from the band's "Zoo TV" tour. They married in 2002."

She's his second wife, of course.

Ray Davies: Science-Fiction Autobiography

I've just read a review of Ray Davies autobiography, "X-Ray: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Ray Davie," at that you might enjoy. This sentence pretty much sums up the review:

"'X-Ray' is a memoir wrapped in a science fiction story not unlike the hokey rock operas Davies was writing in the mid-seventies."

The Kinks really are fascinating, and I wish I understood them better. I heard "Come Dancing" at dinner on Saturday, and my dinner companions and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The fact that they could write a song that good that late in their careers is one of the things I point to in defense of the Advanced theory. It seems like the Kinks just decided to make a hit record (like David Bowie did with "Let's Dance"), so they did. I think Ray Davies could have written a hundred versions "Come Dancing" or even "Waterloo Sunset," but he prefered to challenge himself with those "hokey rock operas." Of course, they weren't "hokey," they were Advanced.

Dylan and Haggard

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Bob Dylan is going to tour with Merle Haggard. Worth checking out, I think.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Did Rick James Bet on Baseball?

There is an article about Rick James in the New York Times Magazine that is pretty interesting. The writer, Jonathan Lethem, attempts to show us that there was more to Rick James than his "Super Freak" image. Interestingly, Lethem refers to James as the "Pete Rose of funk." I think he's more like the Rickey Henderson of funk, but who am I to quibble with the Paper of Record?

Kid Rock: Ralph Covert

There is an article in the New York Times about Ralph Covert, who has a band called Bad Examples but also makes children's music that parents like. Apparently, his band is pretty successful in Chicago but hasn't made it nationally. After doing some work with kids, he was approached by Minty Fresh, which has a children's music division called Mini-Fresh. As I have said before, I have a three-year-old nephew, so I appreciate the need for music that pleases a child but doesn't drive adults crazy. Actually, my nephew likes to sing along with the Smiths (especially "Unloveable") and has an ear for traditional Indian tunes, so the music situation isn't as much of a problem for our family.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Stewart Copeland and Incubus

When Stewart Copeland has an itch to play live, of course he calls Incubus. Here's the story from

Recalling last month's opportunity to get back in front of a live audience during a guest spot with Incubus, former Police drummer Stewart Copeland says even though "there were a few fender benders … shows like this are such a rare treat that I feel no remorse."

...Copeland and former Police guitarist Andy Summers tackled their old band's hits "Roxanne" and "Message in a Bottle" with Incubus at KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas concert in Los Angeles, and also played Incubus' "Pardon Me" and "Megalomaniac."

"Andy and I have been trying for years to think of a way of playing Police songs together that doesn't stink to high heaven," Copeland admits. "We like the songs, and we like playing together, but Sting don't wanna. Of course, we can't be called the Police unless it includes Sting, so what can we do?"

"Life is full of rewards and miseries, but I'm very happy that shows like this come along every once in a while," he continues. "To some, it may look like Andy and I are clutching on to past glories by playing old hits rather than doing something new. But the fact is, we are both doing a lot of new stuff. Heck, I have a whole new and unrelated career as a film composer. The devil may take me, but every now and then I will reach into the cookie jar."
Damn you, Sting!

Spoken Wordaoke

Wouldn't it be fun if they made spoken-word karaoke discs? I'd love to do a little Henry Rollins.

Robert Pollard: Enough Comedy Jokes

Robert Pollard is releasing a comedy record. The story can be found at

[T]o tide fans over before the pending release of his first proper post-GBV solo album, From a Compound Eye, Pollard has issued a vinyl-only comedy album in the vein of Elvis Presley's novelty classic Having Fun With Elvis on Stage. Poorly titled Relaxation of the Asshole, the LP consists of "Bob's best routines and bits" (read: stage banter) recorded live between songs during his tenure with Guided by Voices, and features such golden memories as "Funk Zeus", "What a Mother Does for Her Son", and "Is There a Grandfather Clause for People Who Need a Cigarette Really Bad?". The funny stuff is available now via Bob's freshly launched official website.
This is the best idea I have ever heard.

Violent Femmes: A Second Look

I mentioned earlier that many Advanced artists go through religious phases that are considered wacky. Well, with that in mind, read this amusing article about the Violent Femmes' second album, "Hallowed Ground." It's by David M. Goldstein, and it can be found at

General indie-knowledge would seem to dictate that in their 20 years of existence, The Violent Femmes have one very good debut album to their name, followed by a bunch of faceless mediocrity. The late music critic Bill Wyman even once went as far to describe the majority of their back catalogue as “not so much unlistenable, as simply devoid of reasons to listen.” With all due respect to Mr. Wyman, both he, and general indie-knowledge, are wrong. The Violent Femmes’ self-titled 1983 debut is practically flawless, while it’s follow-up, Hallowed Ground, is simply very good. And while I agree that its mostly all downhill from there, concurrent Femmes albums contain just enough high school mix-tape worthy tracks (e.g. “American Music”, “I Held Her In My Arms”) to justify both the release of their 1993 hits compilation as well as their seemingly everlasting status as the band to rock your college Spring Fest.

But let’s get back to that second album now, shall we? The new Liars album notwithstanding, I can’t think of a sophomore album so designed as to alienate and confuse an established fanbase as Hallowed Ground. The difference being, I suppose, that Hallowed Ground is actually quite good, if sounding completely unlike the band responsible for releasing “Blister in the Sun” and “Kiss Off” a mere year earlier.

...So Hallowed Ground comes out in 1984, and I can’t blame anyone for hoping that it would contain more of the lonely sexual frustration that made the previous year’s record so great. Denied! Barring “Black Girls” and the stalker anthem “Sweet Misery Blues,” there’s nary any sexual frustration to be found here, that is unless said frustration stems from the inability of the Lord Jesus Christ to answer your prayers. Although I’m sure that a few owners of the Femmes’ debut record were vaguely aware of the fact that frontman Gordon Gano was a devout Christian, there’s no way anybody could have predicted the extent to which this would manifest itself on Hallowed Ground.

Gano makes some sort of reference to God in nearly every song, sings about Noah’s Ark, and even quotes the bible before proceeding with the lurching title track; an eerie nuclear war screed that sounds alarmingly prescient today. The depravity peaks with “Jesus Walking On the Water;” a fiddle laden slab of gospel punk so incredibly over the top that it was construed as parody upon release (as were most of these songs). Whereas the Violent Femmes’ debut album was rife with sarcastic wit, Hallowed Ground is a dark slab of gothic Americana; not unlike Johnny Cash, recent Bright Eyes, or 16 Horsepower (whose Gano loves so much that he demanded to play fiddle on their first record).

Hallowed Ground was a striking reversal to the idea of the Femmes becoming a major draw, and the band themselves admits that from a commercial standpoint, they’ve never fully recovered from its release. As such, I’m guessing that it’s far easier to appreciate its brilliance now as opposed to 20 years ago when it was being directly compared to the relatively light-weight album that preceded it. The quality of the songwriting equals, and sometimes surpasses, that of their debut, and tracks such as “I Hear the Rain” and “Never Tell” contain degrees of menace that few thought this band capable of. The latter is a long time favorite of many Femmes’ fans, being a multi-part seven minute epic which climaxes with Gano screaming about how he “STOOD RIGHT UP IN THE HEART OF HELL!!!” Not only does this scare the crap out of fair-weather fans when the Femmes play it at their live shows, but it earns extra points for being in D-minor, the saddest of all keys.

In addition to the darker tone, another significant difference between Hallowed Ground and the first Violent Femmes record is Hallowed Ground’s heavier instrumentation and utilization of guest musicians on a handful of tracks. You can hear this on opener “Country Death Song;” a Femmes classic driven by Tony Trischka’s banjo that somehow manages to make killing your children kind of funny. There’s some sleazy clarinet on the suitably sleazy “Sweet Misery Blues,” and the free jazz (you heard right) portion of “Black Girls” prominently showcases the “Horns of Dilemma” brass that would surface on later Femmes albums, as well as the alto-sax of none other than John Zorn. The latter song is basically about how Gano digs “the black girls oh so much more than the white girls,” and makes reference to a “faggot white boy.” This being Hallowed Ground however, such blasphemous remarks are quickly subsumed by Gano’s shout out to “the Lord of Hosts, Father, Son and the Holy Ghost” after the drum solo. Righteous!

...It’s unquestionable that The Violent Femmes threw their fans a serious curveball with Hallowed Ground, but it’s hard not to appreciate a band so determined not to repeat themselves, even at the expense of losing a serious segment of their fanbase. And if you really want to get into some speculation, you can imagine what the Femmes’ career would have been like had the record been released before their debut seeing as the songs for both were written concurrently. Hallowed Ground is probably doomed to history as the weird sophomore record that ruined the Violent Femmes’ chances at becoming indie-superstars, but it’s really due for a re-evaluation, especially in light of the recent success of the backwoods emo sounds being pushed by the Saddle Creek label. While it's hardly what I’d call an uplifting listen, it’s never less than intriguing, and deserves far more recognition than it’s gotten over the years.
Couldn't have said it better myself.

Get Fresh With LL Cool J

LL Cool J has done an ad for Caress Body Wash. Here's the story from

Rapper LL Cool J will soon be seen across America flogging women's body washes and bars on television. This is the plot of the advertisement. "In the spot, titled "Limo," two gorgeous women with glowing skin and sexy style arrive at a NYC club to the disappointing sight of a long line at the velvet ropes. But they won't let that ruin their evening on the town. When they spot a stretch limo arrive in front of the club, they quickly decide to seize the moment and jump into the limo. To their surprise they find it belongs to hip hop legend LL Cool J and as he steps on to the red carpet, the women join him without hesitation. On LL's arm, they bypass the crowds and flashing paparazzi and head straight through the VIP entrance into the club. Once the trio is safely inside, the women smile at each other knowingly and then "take off" into the club, leaving their stunned celebrity escort behind".

"These ladies were confident and beautiful ... they knew what they wanted and went after it," said LL Cool J in a statement. "Making this spot with Caress was really cool; the club setting, the energy and, of course, the gorgeous women showing off their sexy skin."
I heard that.

"Best of Bowie": Classic Advancement

If this article from thread is any indication, the Advanced Theory has not made it to New Zealand. The article has three parts, so I'll give you a sample of each section (the writer calls the sections "acts," which is Overt):

Act 1: The music
More than half of the songs on The Best of Bowie are fantastic. During the 1970s David Bowie became responsible for one of the finest bodies of work in all music. Perhaps only The Beatles can match his consistently high standard over a similar length of time. The first disc on this two CD set is nigh on impossible to fault, the only dissent could be over the exclusion of personal faves - no ‘DJ’ or ‘Aladdin Sane’, for example - but that’s my problem, not the compilers’.

The second disc is less strong. Bowie’s commercial peak – 1983’s Let’s Dance album – coincided with the beginning of an artistic decline he’s never managed to reverse. Some of the songs on disc two are plain rubbish and don’t deserve to appear on the same planet, let alone the same record as ‘Ashes to Ashes’ or ‘Suffragette City’.

Act 2: The Concept This, surely the 750th “Best Of” compilation of David Bowie’s ridiculously over-compiled career, raises several questions: Who is this disc for? Who could possibly want a Bowie compilation, yet not own one of the previous 749? Do either Bowie or his record company - remembering that Bowie has more control over his back catalogue than just about any other artist - honestly expect some punter who’s never before been moved to purchase a Bowie compilation to say, ‘Fuck me, that’s the Bowie collection I’ve been waiting for. Sod the other 749, this is the one’?

Were the aforementioned punter to purchase said Bowie collection, he or she might be told by the salesperson that this is a super-duper Bowie “Best Of”. The record company sales pitch is that it has been devised specifically for the New Zealand market, thus featuring all our faves, as based on sales in this country. ...In so many ways, this week’s Best of Bowie is offensive.

The Denouement

Of course, it’s nearly 20 years since David Bowie last had a genuine hit in this country. The 1980s were largely a wasteland for Bowie fans, and the 1990s weren’t a whole lot better. It’s conceivable that many people under the age of 30 have absolutely no idea what the fuss was all about. Maybe, after all, that is the intended audience for the album. If so, they should feel ripped off. Nobody who knows his music would say the insipid ‘Underground’ (from the soundtrack to the movie Labyrinth) or ‘Day In Day Out’ (just crap, without even the excuse of a movie attached to it) represent the best of Bowie.
Putting out tons of "Best of" collections is very Advanced. Once again, Lou Reed is the master of this. Live albums are good too.

Killer Mormon

I came across the following story at

Many aspiring filmmakers search for years to find the perfect film story. But in the case of Greg Whiteley, it just fell in his lap. Whiteley, a 1995 Brigham Young University graduate, is enjoying success at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival with "New York Doll," a documentary about the former bass guitarist for the punk band New York Dolls, Arthur "Killer" Kane, and his conversion to the LDS Church.

Whiteley said he met Kane when he became his LDS home teacher in Southern California. "I wasn't that familiar with their music, but I was familiar with their reputation," Whiteley recalled. "All I could think of when I met him was, 'He's such a quiet man.' You'd never know, never believe, that this humble, soft-spoken guy used to be a cross-dressing, glue-sniffing glam-rocker. And at the same time, his faith in God was so obvious and evident that it was contagious,"

So, using a digital-video camera, the aspiring documentarian began interviewing Kane about his experiences back when he played in the short-lived, '70s-era band, which counted Iggy Pop and David Bowie as contemporaries. "I really wasn't sure this was going to turn into anything, but I kept hoping it would."
I had no idea that "Killer" Kane converted. Many Advanced people go through a religious phase that seems wacky to their fans.

iPod the DJ, I Am What I Play

There is an article about bars that let people DJ with their iPods. You can find it at the offical paper of the iPod, the New York Times. This seems like a good idea. It's kind of like those old restaurants that have little jukeboxes at every table, except the jukebox has your own music in it.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Martha Plimpton Comes to the Cabaret

Here's the story from Slate:

[Martha Plimpton] has a budding career as a singer—and who would have thought that this punky misfit actress would turn out to be a fabulous cabaret diva? Last night, I caught her at Joe's Pub in New York's Public Theater with Julian Fleisher in a show called Save it for the Stage. (It was one night only, but they'll pop up again.) Plimton and Fleisher compare themselves to "Steve and Edie, Sonny and Cher, Bonnie and Clyde, and Leopold and Loeb," which should give you some idea of the (unrehearsed) onstage banter. But if the act borders on camp, Plimton sings with her whole heart: She has a chesty but soaring voice, and with her short blond hair and slinky body she looks great when she's contorting herself in front of a microphone.

Her rendition of "Neverland" was too earnestly plaintive, but everything else was a joy: the opening medley of "Movin' On Up" (from The Jeffersons) and "Nine to Five; "Little Red Corvette"—'70s/early '80s songs revitalized by her stylings and the witty band. Plimton will bring down the house with a number, then break character and shrug and squeal as if to say, "Was that me? Did I just pull that off?" It's so exhilarating when you discover that an actor whom you loved (and I've followed Plimton since The River Rat in 1984) has pipes.
I'm not sure how I feel about this. If she's serious about the act, it could be great. If she's being ironic, though, I'd be terribly disappointed. Of course, I'd still love her in my high-school heart.

Dory Previn: Planet Blue

Go here to hear Dory Previn's album from 2003, "Planet Blue." It is a protest album, and it is strangely affecting. There's also a little rapping.

Benjamin 2005

If there's a better song than "Tramp" by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas, I've never heard it. I was thinking earlier today that so many bands require some kind of context to understand what they are doing. For instance, the "New York Times" explained where Bright Eyes came from and their relationship with their fans (and a bunch of other stuff) in a review of a recent show. But I'm pretty sure that if Benjamin Franklin were to suddenly appear in 2005, he could get down to "Tramp" without any explanation. I don't mean to say anything negative about bands that require some kind of context, I'm just really loving "Tramp" right now. That's all.

Bowie Bonds Recap

Ever wonder what the deal was with Bowie Bonds? Read "Considering Intellectual Property" at the website of DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary. Here's the important part:

David Pullman was responsible for arranging the first securitisation of intellectual property. Musician David Bowie was looking for financing opportunities for, among other things, buying out his manager's minority share interest in his music catalogue. Bowie's objectives meant he was looking for a way to raise a lump-sum cash amount rather than to rely upon an income stream - indeed, Bowie reportedly had a regular cash flow of more than US$1 million per year from ownership rights in the copyrights in much of his music catalogue dating back to the 1960s and to the recording masters. So rather than entering into a new traditional distribution agreement at the expiration of his existing recording and distribution agreement, Pullman devised the Bowie bonds to meet Bowie's need for upfront cash.

Only limited information about the structure of the transaction is publicly available. Certainly, an SPV was formed. The assets Bowie sold to the SPV included the right to certain future royalty payments from 25 pre-1990 albums he recorded (more than 300 copyrights). The SPV issued bonds and Bowie's record distributor, EMI, provided certain credit enhancements. The bonds received a triple A investment grade rating by Moody's Investors Services.

The bonds had a 10-year average life and had a maturity of 15 years. Prudential Insurance Company purchased the bonds, netting US$55 million for Bowie. In a debt offering of this kind, the underlying copyrights would be used to secure the bonds. If the SPV defaults on its payment obligations to bondholders, the copyrights are permanently transferred to the bondholders. Until the event of default, of course, the copyright owner would retain the copyrights subject to a security interest held by the bondholders. After the bond obligations are met, the copyright owner holds the copyrights free of the security interest (just as a homeowner that has paid mortgage debt in full owns a home free of the mortgage).
I wish I could swim like the dolphins can swim.

Axl Sanctuary


Guns N' Roses main man Axl Rose has signed a new publishing deal with one of the fastest growing music groups. In recent years, Sanctuary Music Group have followed an aggressive strategy of signing established acts to its catalogue to gain market share and publishing rights. Axl Rose follows a string of high-profile artists including Lou Reed, Fun Loving Criminals, UB40, the New York Dolls and Morrissey onto Sanctuary's roster.

The deal, confirmed by the label yesterday (January 24), will include all Guns N' Roses back catalogue and new material. A spokesperson for Sanctuary Group told Music Week the deal represents the latest step in building the Sanctuary Music Publishing portfolio, adding 'publishing is a strategic priority for the group.' Axl Rose's now legendarily overdue new album 'Chinese Democracy' is thought to be due out this year and the new deal suggests that a release may well be imminent.
I'm not sure that Axl is as Advanced as he thinks he is.

Advanced Sanctuary

Robert Plant news from

Robert Plant will release his first album for Sanctuary, "Mighty Rearranger," on April 25 in the U.K. Credited to Plant and his current band the Strange Sensation, it's his first studio work since 2002's "Dreamland." The first U.K. single from the riff-laden 12-track set is "Shine It All Around," due for commercial release on April 18. North American release plans are not yet finalized, according to a Sanctuary spokesperson. The album was written in Snowdonia in Wales and Solsbury Hill in Somerset, England, with the Strange Sensation, which consists of guitarist Justin Adams, drummer Clive Deamer, pianist John Baggott, Skin Tyson (once of '90s U.K. rock act Cast) and bassist Billy Fuller.
Sanctuary Records is establishing itself as the label of Advancement. They are particularly interested in putting out music by bands and artists who are considered past their prime or no longer cool. And they've signed (in addition to Robert Plant) Billy Idol and Lou Reed, so what more do you need?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

I Diggle the Buzzcocks

Here's the information about the Buzzcocks' plans, from

Iconic U.K. punk quartet Buzzcocks will follow up its self-titled 2003 comeback album with an all-new studio disc this year. Due in late summer or early autumn through Merge, the album, which is still a work in progress, is tentatively titled "Flat Pack Philosophy." 2005 looks to be a busy year for the band, with a series of live dates confirmed for the U.K. between March and May. Notable among them is a "Spirit of '77" show in Manchester with the Slits' Ari Up and 999 on March 11. Another show dubbed "Academy in the U.K." is slated for May 1 in Birmingham and will also feature the Stranglers and Stiff Little Fingers. A Merge spokesperson says plans are tentative for North American tour dates to coincide with the forthcoming album's Stateside release.
The Buzzcocks were (are) one of the bands that are made great by someone other than the guitarist or singer: The bass player (Steve Diggle, I believe) is amazing. Of course, they're all great, but he made them really, really great.

From Cher to Eternity

There is an amusing article about Cher at Bay Area Living. Here's a bi about a recent show:

Cher's 90-minute presentation began as the 58-year-old California native descended to the stage floor on top of a jeweled chandelier singing U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." It's the worst moment of the show. Cher takes this majestic, spiritual song of longing, rendered so poignantly on "The Joshua Tree," and transforms it into a piece of hollow, plastic, Vegas-style schlock.

The concert isn't as much about song selection as it is about everything else — the elephant the singer rode onto the stage to perform "All or Nothing," the ringmaster's coat and accompanying whip she used while first greeting the crowd, the archival video footage that showed Cher with the likes of David Bowie and Ray Charles.
Sounds awesome to me.

Marianne Faithfull and Sofia Coppola

Bob Dylan turn-downer Marianne Faithfull has some stuff in the works. Here's the story from

MARIANNE FAITHFULL has re-scheduled her LONDON show for June. The gig, along with the rest of the singer’s dates, were pulled after she collapsed in Milan in December with chronic exhaustion. On doctor’s orders she was forced to abandon the rest of her scheduled dates. She will now play Shepherd’s Bush Empire on June 5, with other European shows expected to be re-scheduled.

...Meanwhile, Faithfull is to appear in Sofia Coppola’s forthcoming biopic of Marie-Antionette. Kirsten Dunst plays the lead role, and Faithfull will play her mother, Empress Marie-Theresa of Austria.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Stan Lee Makes Ringo Super


Ringo Starr has undertaken a joint venture with Stan Lee's POW! Entertainment to develop a multimedia franchise that will find the former Beatles drummer staring as a superpowered animated version of himself. The Starr-Lee project initially will be launched as a 60- or 90-minute DVD, but POW! and Starr's entertainment company Rocca Bella plan to explore TV, feature films and other avenues.

Starr will voice his own character and contribute original songs and incidental music. "I've been making a CD, so I have lots of ideas," Starr says. Referring to his 1990s touring group, he adds, "[The action] will be set around a band. They'll be their own characters. It'll be a very strange All-Starr Band."

Starr calls Lee "a great creator. [This project] wasn't anything I was looking for. But he had this idea of a musical superhero -- what I like to think of as a reluctant superhero ... I'll zoom in to save the world or a damsel in distress or a small village. Who knows where he'll go?"
Before you pass judgment, imagine what you would say if Stan Lee asked if he could make you into a superhero. And why wouldn't one of the Fab Four want to work with the creator of the Fantastic Four?

Making the Band: R.E.M.

Some R.E.M. news from

Former Ministry drummer Bill Reiflin has been appointed the full-time drummer for REM. Reifin, who played on their recent album Around The Sun, has now officially replaced Bill Berry who left the band amicably in 1997. Reifin joined Ministry in the late 80's. He was also a member of Ministry side-project Revolting Cocks.
I think this is a good idea for them. The records since Bill Berry left have some good moments, but in general they don't sound cohesive. Perhaps playing together as a true band will give their songs a little more focus. Also, I believe that it is often a drummer that can make a good band great.

David Lynch Embracing Family Values

I saw "The Straight Story" last night, and it occurred to me that it is a good example of Advancement. What could David Lynch have done that was more surprising than make a G-rated movie for Disney? He could have gone the big-budget action-movie route, but that would have been too easy. It was a true artisitic risk for Lynch to make a movie that tells a simple story about love, family, brotherhood, and mortality. What's interesting is that he went right back into making his usually Overt movies when he could have used "The Straight Story" as a springboard to a more commercial career. I don't know enough about movies to say definitely that David Lynch is Advanced, but I think his example his illuminating.

Ana Matronic: She's Lost Control

New Order has a new record coming out, and it is called "Waiting for the Sirens' Call." It features Scissor Sister Ana Matronic, one of the most Overt people alive. Embracing Overt newcomers is Advanced. Here's a little more from an article on something called ArriveNet:

Rejecting the obvious has always been New Order's technique. In their 28-year career, they've changed the face of pop music on more than one occasion. As Joy Division, they ripped up rock's rule book by making music that was heavy and subtle, glacial, yet full of lament. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" has just been chosen as one of The Brits 25-best songs ever written. Then, as New Order, they were light years ahead of the dance scene with the world's best-ever-selling 12" single "Blue Monday," before bringing Manchester to the masses with the platinum-selling album "Technique." As an aside, they made the only cool football anthem ever made, "World In Motion," which went to Number One, as well as having hits with various side projects such as Electronic, Monaco and The Other Two.
Having a number-one football anthem is definitely Advanced. As most of you know, embracing sports is one of the hallmarks of Advancement. I haven't listened to a ton of New Order in my life, but I'm pretty sure they are Advanced. Going from "She's Lost Control" (when they were in Joy Division) to a football anthem is pretty good.

Why Not Gang of Four? (Updated)

(This is a response to a comment) "Not Advanced" does not mean "not good." As far as I know, everybody thinks Gang of Four is great, which is why they can't be Advanced. To be Advanced is to be misunderstood by almost everyone, including your core fan base. You can be one of the greatest bands of all time without being Advanced. There's no shame in it. I have nothing bad to say about Gang of Four other than they remind me of a rather unfortunate relationship I had when I was 20. I'll research them a little more and see what I can come up with to explain it further.

Update: I think I might be able to clear this up by quoting from their biographical information on

After three consecutive sensational albums, as well as a handful of EPs and singles, Allen left in 1982 to form the more danceable and less overtly political Shriekback, while Gill, King, and Burnham recorded the misguided "radical soul/R&B" record Hard with veteran American producers Ron and Howard Albert (who'd previously worked with Stephen Stills' Manassas and Firefall). A near total disaster, Hard signalled that the end was nigh. Gill and King, who by this point had final say-so on the band's musical and political direction, sacked Burnham, and the now "Gang of Two" released a so-so live album (At the Palace) and called it quits in 1984.

The project that sounds the most Advanced is the "radical soul/R&B" record because it was an unappreciated departure from their sound. But overall, Gang of Four doesn't quite fit the profile, even though they were a good and very influential band.

Monday, January 24, 2005

What About Andrew W.K.?

Someone who has recently discovered the blog asked me about Andrew W.K. I don't know enough about him to have an informed opinion, but I saw an article on his website that was encouraging. Here's a (long) bit of it:

"It's interesting, because I don't say to myself "I gotta stay positive, I gotta stay positive..." or "I'm going to make really positive music", or "I'm just going to keep being a positive dude." I don't think of it in those kind of terms, really. I mean, maybe I could, but I more or less try to just look at things as they really are", Andrew said during our interview. "When I look at my life as it really is, I can't deny that it's good. And that's just the truth, you know what I mean? And it's not about a certain outlook or philosophy, necessarily, there's outlooks to incorporate, certainly, but the fact of the matter is, my life is good. I have food, my health is fine, all my limbs and extremities are working OK, my brain seems to be working just fine. I have good friends. I have good family. I was raised in a good environment. And, on top of that, I have one of the most amazing opportunities that anybody could ever ask for to work on every day. So that's the reality of my life, and to make music that denied that, or to live my life in a way that denied that would just be dishonest. I'm not really trying to represent myself or represent my life but, I just feel that I've gotta make the most of what I've got here, and I might as well try to spread it around as much as possible. So when I'm talking about these things in songs that might come off as being positive, or as having a positive outlook or a good philosophy or things like that, it's not so much what I think or my opinion, but just reminding us or pointing out the things that we've always known about what's right and what's good and what's true."

...Even in dealing with his record label, so often a huge problem with recording artists, Andrew chose to buck convention and be trusting. In his own words: "The one thing that I really made an effort to let them know going in is that I was happy to be with them and trusted them and valued them, and that they were not the enemy. So many people were trying to tell me that I had to fight with my label all the time, and "don't let them get too close", and "don't give them too much control", but I kind of did the opposite. Maybe it's a bad idea. I don't know really why I went that way, but I just thought "No, I don't wanna fight with them. If I'm going to be friends with anyone, these are the guys I need. I need them to be on my side. I need them to believe in this." We went out of our way to include them, and why wouldn't we? They know more about this business than I ever will. I know how to make these songs, but I don't know how to do this other stuff. So thank goodness that we've been able to build this amazing thing with them, and I have nothing but good things to say about them. So far, so good."

A great deal of "the story" with Andrew is the fact that he takes leaps of faith like this all the time and again, encourages others to do so in every aspect of their lives. "I hope that, not just with this music, but that people will have the unending courage to always seek out things that will give them a real feeling that they can believe in, that isn't just like an "Oh yeah, sure, sure, I know it..." That whole know-it-all thing leaves you without any discovery, without any mystery, without any sense of wonder, without any real passion. When you know everything, what's there left to get excited about, you know what I mean? So I hope that people can take the risk. And if they're going to take the risk, I have to prove it to them. I have to show it to them, I have to earn their respect, earn their trust, in order to jump off that cliff with them. I want them to know that they're not taking the risk alone, but that we're all in it together."
Obviously, he has not been around long enough to be Advanced. And he has a lot more to accomplish before he can even be considered a candidate. But the only person in the rock world who talks like this is Paul McCartney, so that's a pretty good start. And letting them use his song for that commercial is good too. It establishes him as a one-hit wonder (like Lou Reed), and it probably disappointed some of his fans, though I'm not sure what his fan base was before he hit the bigtime. The thing is, I can't figure out whether his music is ironic, moronic or Byronic. If it is the first two, then he is disqualified from being Advanced. If he's a true rebel, however, it will be interesting to see how he evolves over the years.

Sting: Now I'm Not So Sure

Well, the curious case of Sting just keeps getting curiouser. Here's Reuters with the news:

Sting is going back to school. The one-time school teacher has ditched his large back-up band and will launch a no-frills rock 'n' roll tour at San Jose State University in California on April 1. The Broken Music Tour, named after his memoir published in 2003, is scheduled to reach a dozen college campuses and seven other venues by the end of the month. Sting, who also plays bass, will be backed by two guitarists and a drummer, a configuration reminiscent of his days with the Police, the rock trio that he led to worldwide fame and fortune during the 1970s and '80s.

This is a big change from last year's Sacred Love tour, which featured Annie Lennox (news) as the opening act, a flotilla of musicians, giant video screens and interactive lighting. "I was ready for a change," Sting, 53, told Reuters in response to questions submitted by e-mail. "The idea of going out and playing guitar-driven music coupled with performing at colleges, something I haven't done since the Police days, was extremely exciting."

Sting, who has sold more than 95 million records during his 28-year career with The Police and as a solo artist, has yet to decide what songs he will play on this tour. "Certainly there will be songs that are guitar-driven," Sting said. "It will be pretty raw and stripped down, different from anything I've done in a long, long time."

Since the Police broke up in 1984, Sting has strayed far into the pop, jazz and world music fields, almost erasing his glorious past as an angry young punk who wrote such Police hits as "Roxanne" and "Don't Stand So Close To Me." His choice of drummer indicates he is serious about returning to his roots: Josh Freese, a session player best known for his work with hard rockers A Perfect Circle (news) and punk veterans The Vandals.
Sting is making me rethink my universe--or at least his place in it. Could he in fact be ultra-Advanced as I originally suspected? Damn you, Sting!

Their Beer Is Overpriced, Too

As many of you might know, INXS is trying to find a new lead singer by doing an "American Idol"-type show. Appreaing on (or making fun of) reality TV is offically not Advanced, but the reason I'm writing this is that I noticed that the New York audition is being held at CBGB. Even I find that depressing.

The Ineffable Effable Effanineffable Norman Cook

I suppose this story from the is worth mentioning:

’The Joker’, a reworking of the Steve Miller classic, reunites Norman Cook with his ‘Weapon Of Choice’ collaborator [Bootsy Collins]. Released on February 28 through Skint, it is the third single to be taken from the superstar DJ’s current album ‘Palookaville’. Uptempo dancefloor remixes come from ATFC and Yousef, while laid-back versions come from Lazyboy, Justin Robertson and Kid Carpet. The video was directed by Jon Watts and features a gang of kittens trying to get to a Fatboy Slim concert.
It must be awesome to be able to say, "I want a video where a bunch of cats are trying to get to my concert" and have someone say, "Great! How many cats do you need?" I like Fatboy Slim. It seems to me that he saw the lay of the land and did what it took to be successful. While that is not Advanced, I still admire him for pulling it off so well. I wonder if he's ever reworked a song by his old band, the Housemartins. It seems like "Happy Hour" would be perfect.

Ack, Ack, AacPlus

There is an article at Slate about a newish technology that is going to make Internet radio sound better:

It's a given that fat broadband lines are the future of online media. But right now, for Internet radio, the future is about slimming down—creating skinny little streams of data that don't eat up too much bandwidth. The key is a new and better audio compression format called aacPlus, or sometimes HE-AAC, which has been chosen by the industry committee that standardized MP3 13 years ago (the Motion Picture Experts Group). If you've tried to listen to online stations, you know they sound grainy if they're streamed at any less than 128 kilobits per second—maybe 96 kbps if you're not fussy. That makes a broadband connection a must. But aacPlus sounds nearly as good as a CD, even when it's compressed enough to play through a dialup line. Don't take my word for it—see the results of the European Broadcasting Union's listener tests [I didn't link to this], in which aacPlus was deemed the "clear winner" at a dialup-friendly 48 kbps.
So the key to a fat sound is getting skinny? I guess irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.

Stephen Greenblatt Must Get Stoned

Here's something from the wires: Bob Dylan has been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Here's the story:

Bob Dylan, the unofficial poet laureate of the rock 'n' roll generation, has now been officially placed alongside such literary greats as Philip Roth and Adrienne Rich, not to mention biographies of Shakespeare and Willem de Kooning. All were among nominees announced Saturday for the National Book Critics Circle prizes.

Dylan, whose memoir "Chronicles, Vol. 1" was a favorite with both reviewers and readers, is among the finalists for biography/autobiography, his competition including two acclaimed best sellers: Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton and Stephen Greenblatt's biography of Shakespeare, "Will in the World." Also nominated were John Guy's "Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart" and "De Kooning: An American Master," by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan.

...Dylan, who more than anyone inspired rock 'n' rollers to think of themselves as poets, recounts his often mysterious past in an offhand, nonlinear style, from reading Civil War-era newspapers in the New York Public Library to sharing a hamburger backstage with Tiny Tim.

..."I'm of Dylan's generation, so it's a thrill for me," said nonfiction nominee Stephen Greenblatt, a leading Shakespeare scholar who at age 61 is two years younger than Dylan. "I had never thought I would be competing for an award with him."
Here's a little background on Greenblatt:

[He] believes that the formal aspect of texts--be it historical, poetic, novelistic, or dramatic--needs to be understood through the sociological determinants at the time of production. What needs to be uncovered are the "givens" in a particular text--sexuality, identity, masculinity, and so on--in order to determine the range of possible contextual meanings as well as those meanings that are excluded by definition. On the one hand, according to Greenblatt, literature needs to be reinserted into its historical contexts; on the other, all history needs to read as literature. Greenblatt’s most recent works include Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World (1991) and New World Encounters (1990). Greenblatt also edits Representations, a Berkeley-based journal in which New Historicist articles regularly appear.

So you could see why he so thrilled.

Gang of Four: NY Times Review

Gang of Four isn't exactly Advanced (though reforming is a very nice move), but they were good and maybe even important. So I figured I'd go ahead and give you the link.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

iPod Loading: A Nice Scam

There is an article at the about "iPod loading," which is a service for people too lazy to rip their CDs and put the music in their iPod. This reminds me of when I used to solve the Rubik's cube for classmates for 50 cents. Little did they know that all you have to do is take it apart and put the blocks in the right order.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Elvis Costello Opera: Lind Me a Hans

Elvis Costello is working on an opera. Here's the story from

Elvis Costello is creating an opera based on Danish fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen's impossible romance with a Swedish woman. "The Secret Arias" is based on songs written by Andersen for Jenny Lind, a soprano dubbed the "Swedish Nightingale," whom the Dane pined for, despite her never returning his affections, said Henrik Engelbrecht, head of dramaturgy at the Royal Theater.

"Elvis immediately loved the idea and when we met him 18 months ago to discuss it, he had already a clear idea about the opera," Engelbrecht told The Associated Press on Thursday. It is believed that Andersen wrote his tale "The Nightingale" with Lind in mind. The work will open in 2006 in the new opera house's small experimental stage that can seat 200. The cast hasn't yet been decided. After Copenhagen, "The Secret Arias" likely will go on an international tour, Engelbrecht said, and be released as a CD and DVD.

You Can't Go Wrong

Want to hear the Scorpions do a live cover of "Drive"? Just go to "copy, right?" (that's the name of the blog) and scroll down a bit. There are many good covers on this site.

Podcast News, Adam Curry Edition

There is an interesting article about Podcasting at Here's some of it:

"Ninety percent of it has an amateurish vibe, which is a big part of the appeal," said former MTV VJ Adam Curry, one of the founders of the phenomenon and mastermind behind podcasting hub Curry, who hosts the podcasting show "Daily Source Code" from his home in the U.K., said he originally dreamed up podcasting four years ago when he was trying to figure out an easier way to download high-quality streaming video.

"My theory at the time was why not have the computer do things while you're not surfing the Web and have the media trickle in through whatever connection you have," Curry said. "The high-quality stuff could come in overnight, which would let you avoid clicking and waiting to download something, which is irritating."

Nothing came of the idea until two years later, when Curry met software designer Dave Winer at a blogging conference in Boston. The two hit it off and Curry got so addicted to a series of MP3 interviews Winer had posted on his popular blog,, that he vowed to find an application that would automatically seek out Winer's latest "audio blog" and download it to his iPod.

Early in 2004, Curry created a crude application that did just that, then launched and asked other geeks to help him refine it. "Then something beautiful happened," he said. "They corrected the script and made it better and better."

Winer calls the rapid evolution of the podcasting software the blogging equivalent of "the first mammal taking a step out of the ocean onto land."
That might be exaggerating things slightly, but it is pretty cool.


I get so much pleasure from the wonderful and ridiculous "Lucky Man" by Emerson, Lake and Palmer. I especially like to imitate the synth sound at the end.

Listen to Antony

You can hear Antony and the Johnsons at Slate. Here's what they say about "I Am a Bird Now":

"Hope There's Someone," the opening track on the second album by Antony and the Johnsons, begins with a startling sound: A singer's voice, trembling with vibrato, climbs over some plaintive piano chords into an eerie falsetto. The singer is Antony, a pudgy New Yorker with shaved eyebrows and a songwriting gift to match his remarkable voice. On I Am a Bird Now, Antony has gathered several arty downtown friends (including Rufus Wainwright and Lou Reed) and created 10 songs of disarming intimacy; it's a shock to hear pop music that strives for beauty and pathos without resorting to a single distancing wink. "For Today I Am a Boy" is a portrait of the drag queen as a young man that builds to a magnificent gospel-like crescendo of rolling piano chords; "Hope There's Someone" proves that the right singer can make banalities ("Hope there's someone who'll take care of me/ When I die") sound profound.
Striving "for beauty and pathos without resorting to a single distancind wink" is at the heart of the Advanced Theory.

Queen Paul

Here's the latest about the Queen reunion, from

...Since the death of singer Freddie Mercury in 1991, Brian May and Roger Taylor have regrouped a number of times for one-off events with singers including Elton John, Robbie Williams and boyband Five.

...The addition of Rodgers came about after he performed with guitarist May at the Fender Stratocaster 50th Anniversary show in London in September. As well as Queen classics, the supergroup will perform songs from Rodgers’ back catalogue like ‘All Right Now’ and ‘Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love’.

Brian May said: "I never thought I would be doing this again. I was always against the idea of putting someone in there trying to impersonate Freddie in any way. Then suddenly I’m looking at this guy who doesn’t in any sense try to take the place of Freddie. He’s nothing like Freddie because he comes from his own place.

"Suddenly I thought, ‘Yes, we can do this’ - we could do one more tour and the songs would mean something new. This would not be like rehashing, trying to pretend Freddie’s still here; suddenly we can reinterpret these songs with someone who understands what he’s about, someone who relates to us. Suddenly it felt right. It’s colossal, and I can’t quite believe it."
I have a feeling that there are a lot people who can't quite believe it.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Pair Thee Well: Super Bowl Music

Here's another little thing from

The performance slate for the Super Bowl pre-game festivities will bridge the generation gap, with Gretchen Wilson tapped to perform with the Charlie Daniels Band and Black Eyed Peas collaborating with Earth, Wind & Fire on Feb. 6 inside Jacksonville, Fla.'s ALLTEL Stadium.

Alicia Keys will perform "America the Beautiful," popularized by the late Ray Charles, who grew up in the Jacksonville area. Keys will be joined by 150 students from the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, which Charles attended as a child. The students will accompany Keys with singing and perform the lyrics in sign language.

Before the contest, Kelly Clarkson and John Fogerty will perform as part of Fox's "NFL Tailgate Party" outside the stadium.

Fiery Furnaces: Now That's More Like It

Attention, Oasis! From

With an eye towards a summer double-disc release that will feature packaging in the vein of OutKast's "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below," the Fiery Furnaces' prolific sibling team of Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger is currently working at a rate that is nothing short of frenetic.

..."She's a great character and she's always been a musician," Eleanor says of her Chicago native grandmother. "She's been the choir director of her church since the '50s. And if anyone in our family was supposed to make records, it was probably her. She has a real diva personality and is always telling lots of funny stories. And she has a great voice and has a great presence."

Tentatively titled "Garfield L," the project includes the title track and "Zapped by the Zombie," which Eleanor says is about her grandmother getting drunk the night she was supposed to meet her father-in-law for the first time.

As for the accompanying disc, the Friedbergers are currently working on "short, poppy songs" in a Benton Harbor, Mich., studio. While Matt has tentatively titled the album "Singing to Speak Chinese," which includes new tracks "Teach Me Sweetheart" and "Nevers," Eleanor says a decision on the final title hasn't been made.

Leading up to an appearance at California's Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival (April 30-May 1), the Fiery Furnaces will head to Australia and Japan in March and return for a month's worth of U.S. college dates in April. The twosome expects to be back on the road in the fall in support of "Garfield L," which hasn't received official label approval.

"Who knows if [Rough Trade] will do that," says Eleanor. "I'm optimistic, especially if we keep talking about it in the press. Then they have to do it. That's what happened with the grandmother thing. We talked about it for about a year or so and they couldn't really say no."
This is an Overt project, of course, but Oasis could learn a lot about label bullying from Fiery Furnaces. I understand, by the way, that their (FF's) live show is amazing, so check them out if you get the chance.

Oasis, Pearl Jam, and the Hampton Grease Band

Oasis has decided not to put out a double album, and their reason is very overt: They want to stick it to Sony. Here's the story from (where else?):

Noel Gallagher has said Oasis planned to release a double album – but they decided against it to piss off their record company.

The album, which is rumoured to have a working title of ’Don’t Believe The Truth’, is now nearing completion and is set for release in mid-May.

Speaking in the current issue of Nuts magazine, Gallagher said they had "66 songs" for the record, but have decided on 11 or twelve.
He said: "The album’s finished. We recorded it three times. It’s been a major pain in the arse but it’s come out really good. We’ve written 66 songs between the four of us and I think there’s 11 or 12 on the album. We were going to do a double album, but we don’t want to give Sony too much ‘cos it’s our last one, so fuck 'em."
This is Overt because there is no risk at all in putting out a single album or pissing off the record company they are leaving. If you want to piss off a major label, do it like the Hampton Grease Band. Unlike Oasis, no one had heard of them, so upsetting their record company actually had some consequences. Oasis's stance is a lot like Pearl Jam's decision not to make videos. They had already sold millions of records with the help of the "Jeremy" video, so it was a pretty empty gesture to turn their backs on MTV.

But back to Oasis: It seems like bands at the stage Oasis is in always have tons of songs to record, but few of them are very good. It seems like the quality of an album is inversely proportional to the number of songs that are written for it. (This goes for non-Advanced musicians, of course.) I wonder if the real reason that they are releasing a single album and not a double is that they are aware that most of the songs aren't very good. But then that would suggest a level of self-awareness that Oasis rarely displays (until it's too late). By the way, I love "Champagne Supernova."

It's Oh So Quiet

Not much happening out there today. Sting likes to ski at Jackson Hole, U2 is playing the grammys, and Dave Matthews is letting his driver take the fall while journalists all around the world have fun with "dump." I'd like to go on record as saying that I would prefer not to be exhumed and moved to Ethiopia. So if my wife announces she's planning to do this, please stop her. I saw the Killers on SNL this past weekend. They were okay, but their singer has that suave-asshole quality that I don't like very much. The drummer was good, but he just had to wear a suit. I'm learning a lot about different types of pooters, and I'm not talking about Dave Matthews' driver. The Beach Boys musical was panned in the NY Post, but the aritcle is so mean-spirited that I chose not to link to it. Speaking of which, I had some reservations about posting the link to the Bill Gates pictures, but it was all in good fun.

So that's that for now. Let's hope something interesting happens in the next couple of hours.

Bobby Went A-Courtin'

Turned down by Francoise Hardy, spurned by Marianne Faithful, Bob Dylan turned to Mavis Staples for love. I'll leave the rest up to hiphoprnbsoul ("where hip-hop, R&B, and sould collide!"):

Mavis Staples, singer from the legendary soul group the Staples Singers, recently admitted to having a romantic relationship with fellow music icon Bob Dylan. In a recent interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the 63 year-old vocalist, known for 1970s classics "I'll Take You There" and "Let's Do It Again,"  spoke about their secretive trysts in the early 1960s when they would meet up at folk fests. "We courted awhile," she admitted. "We were an item, but nobody knew it but us."

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Didn't Queen Latifah and Jimmy Fallon Already Do This?

I don't know if I believe this, but I guess it's true:

Screen legend ROBERT DE NIRO has reunited with iconic director MARTIN SCORSESE to work on a sequel to their classic movie TAXI DRIVER. The OSCAR-winning actor, who starred as disturbed Vietnam veteran TRAVIS BICKLE in the 1976 film, has confirmed the movie veterans are mulling over script ideas for a follow-up to the gritty original.

Apart from his comedy turn in MEET THE PARENTS and its recent sequel MEET THE FOCKERS, De Niro has starred in a series of flop films - and critics are hoping Travis Bickle's resurrection will restore his reputation as one of the greatest dramatic actors of all time. De Niro, 61, says, "I was talking with Martin Scorsese about doing what I guess you'd call a sequel to Taxi Driver, where he is older."
This idea might not be that good.

Andre 3000 in "Charlotte's Web"

Here's an "Andre 3000 Backlash Watch" update from

Andre 3000 of Outkast has been confirmed to lend a voice in the Australian production of the major motion picture version of Charlotte's Web. Andre 3000 joins an all-star cast including Julia Roberts as Charlotte, John Cleese as Samuel the sheep, Oprah Winfrey as Gussy the goose and Reba McEntire and Kathy Bates as cows.

Andre 3000 (Andre Benjamin) will play the part of Elwyn the crow.
"Oh, I never look under the hood." --E. B. White

Czech Berry

Chuck Berry played Prague recently. Here's the story from AP:

Rock 'n' roll pioneer Chuck Berry enjoyed a sold-out show in what was billed as his first appearance in the Czech capital. "Czech me out," Berry told thousands of fans Sunday night in the Lucerna Palace in downtown Prague.

Berry charmed the crowd, which included President Vaclav Klaus, with his hits including "Maybellene" and "Johnny B. Goode" and glimpses of his famous duck walk. "He may be 78, but what an entertainer," Klaus said after the concert.

Czech fans have waited a long time to see authentic rock 'n' roll stars such as Berry, whose music wasn't appreciated by the communist authorities before the 1989 Velvet Revolution.
Prague is an Overt place to visit (it's like the Austin of Europe), but it is really asserting itself as one of the most Advanced cities in the world. And aren't we all thankful how easy it is to make puns with "Czech"?

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Bill Gates in "Teen Beat"

Go to to see a picture of Bill Gates looking dreamy in a "Teen Beat" from 1983. Link thanks to slashdot.

If anyone ever asks you to do a photo shoot, before you do it, ask yourself how it will look in twenty years.


Willie Nelson is getting into the biodiesel industry. The Arizona Central:

On the Road Again means something new for Willie Nelson these days - a chance for truckers to fill their tanks with clean-burning biodiesel fuel. Nelson and three partners recently formed Willie Nelson's Biodiesel, which is marketing the fuel to truck stops. The product, called BioWillie, is made from vegetable oils, mainly soybean, and can be burned without modifying diesel engines.

It may be difficult to picture the 71-year-old hair-braided Texas rebel as an energy company executive, but the singer's new gig is in many ways about social responsibility - and that is classic Nelson. "There is really no need going around starting wars over oil. We have it here at home. We have the necessary product, the farmers can grow it," Nelson said. Nelson said last week that he began learning about the product a few years ago after his wife purchased a diesel car in Hawaii, where the star has a home. "I got on the computer and punched in biodiesel and found out this could be the future," said Nelson, who now uses the fuel for his cars and tour buses.

Peter Bell, a Texas biodiesel supplier, struck up a friendship with Nelson after filling up one of the tour buses, and the business partnership came together just before Christmas.

..."What Willie brings to this is the ability to communicate directly with a truck driver. That kind of community is hard for people to get to," Bell said. "When he starts talking, these folks really listen to him. ... It's like having Tiger Woods talk about golf clubs."
A few thoughts about this: Every news outlet I read used some kind of reference to "On the Road Again" when reporting this story. I love the idea of Willie Nelson sitting down at the computer and typing "biodiesel" into a search engine. And having Willie Nelson talk about biodiesel is not exactly like having Tiger Woods talk about golf clubs. It's more like having Tiger Woods talk about golf carts. If Willie Nelson were to lend his name to a guitar, that would be like Tiger Woods talking about golf clubs. Nevertheless, I'm listening, which is like Tiger Woods listening to NPR.

Stereolab and Joe Buck

I've been meaning to say publicly that much of Sterolab's music (for instance, the first couple of minutes of "Double Rocker" from "Sound Dust") sounds a lot like the music playing in the party scene from "Midnight Cowboy." There, I've said it. I don't hold it against them or anything. In fact, I've always enjoyed that music. I'm just saying.

South by Southwest Gets More Advanced

I'm beginning to think I should be at South by Southwest. From

The revival of Brian Wilson's long dormant "Smile" album will be the subject of an all-star panel discussion at this year's South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas. Wilson will be on hand for the March 18 panel in Austin, Texas, alongside longtime lyricist Van Dyke Parks, producer Mark Linette and author David Leaf.

Leading the list of newly confirmed acts is Elvis Costello, who will be making his first appearance at South by Southwest. Also new to the lineup are Ambulance Ltd, Lou Barlow, the Soundtrack Of Our Lives, Bloc Party, Vic Chesnutt, the Dears, the Donnas, Kathleen Edwards, Hot Hot Heat, Isis, Kings Of Convenience, Ulrich Schnauss, Magnolia Electric Co., Sleater Kinney, Nada Surf and Stephen Malkmus.

They join previously confirmed artists such as Robert Plant, Doves, Beth Orton, Fatboy Slim, Mavis Staples and Billy Idol.
I would love to talk to Elvis Costello, Lou Reed, Robert Plant, and Billy Idol about the Advanced Theory. Something tells me that Billy Idol would be especially receptive.

Karen (I mean Kim) or Jaco?

Today on the treadmill, I heard "Dream Police" and was thoroughly rocked by the drums, especially toward the end during the buildup to the final chorus. (Do you think Bun E. Carlos is friends with the bass player from Huey Lewis and the News or Leon Redbone?) After that, "I Fell in Love With a Girl" by the White Stripes came on. It's a great song, but the drumming is so mediocre, as it is in all their songs. I got to thinking about whether the White Stripes would be better if Bun E. Carlos were the drummer. Or is there some magic that happens between the two of them that would be ruined? I guess it's hard to say because what makes a good band is pretty mysterious. Plus, as a fan, if you know the band is lacking an original member, you don't like it as much automatically, even though the new musician might be "better." A friend of mine (who was a defender of Karen (I mean Kim) Gordon's playing) used to joke that Sonic Youth would be a lot better if only Jaco Pastorius were the bassist. So I suppose that it's best for Bun E. Carlos to stay with Cheap Trick.

Update: Sorry about that Karen/Kim problem. I have a friend named Karen Gordon, and she is a bit of a kool thing herself! Oh well, we all make mistakes.)

Gadhafi My Cloud

Here's something from the AP via Launch:

A new opera based on the life of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, featuring a rapper as Gadhafi and a chorus of all-female bodyguards, highlights the new season of the English National Opera. The program of London's second-largest opera company will be the first season fully curated by the company's new artistic director, Sean Doran.

The Gadhafi opera, created by the dance-hip-hop collective Asian Dub Foundation, and an opera based on Rainier Werner Fassbinder's film "The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant," are among new works scheduled.
Sounds Gadawful.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Advancement Lovers' Pizza

I just read that Ringo Starr did a commercial for Pizza Hut with the Monkees.

Dave Stewart Is Golden, Advanced?

I see that Mick Jagger won a Golden Globe for his work with Dave Stewart. I'm starting to wonder about whether Dave Stewart is Advanced. I think he might be. I seem to remembe his wearing dark sunglasses a lot, and also I believe he and Annie Lennox wore all-camouflage outfits that were pretty Advanced. I'll have to look into it.

Dylan: Doubting Thomas

There is a story about Martin Scorcese's Bob Dylan documentary at Jam!, which is some kind of Canadian entertainment website (I think). I found this pretty funny:

"I'm looking for clarity," Scorsese told reporters Saturday at Universal City, Calif. That's been an elusive target where Dylan is concerned. Scorsese says Dylan (born Zimmerman) even quibbles with the long-held notion that he took his professional name from the poet Dylan Thomas. "Dylan just says basically, 'I really don't care what I said then and I honestly don't care what I say now, either,' " says Scorsese.

You must click the link to see the picture of Bob Dylan. It is extremely Advanced.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Can't Get No Girlie Action Blues No. 2

First we find out that Francoise Hardy was not interested in Bob Dylan (she preferred Mick Jagger). And now, from, it turns out Marianne Faithfull turned him down too. Here's the rest of the story:

Rocker MARIANNE FAITHFULL owes her close bond with BOB DYLAN to the fact she shunned his sexual advances in the 1960s. During a joint tour, Dylan furiously tore up a romantic poem inspired by Faithfull when he discovered she was pregnant with her son NICHOLAS and engaged to her first husband JOHN DUNBAR.

...She says, "We were on tour together and he was at the typewriter and I dared to ask, 'What are you writing?' He gave me a burning look and said, 'A poem. About you.' I told him I was pregnant with Nicholas and about to get married and he tore it up. "But we're sill close friends - probably closer than we would have been if we did f**k."
He wrote a poem to Hardy as well. Let this be a lesson to you: If you are the voice of a generation, do not write poems for a woman if you want her to sleep with you.

By the way, why people like Marianne Faithfull is a total mystery me. Also, I don't usually post blog entries on the weekend. But I had the time, so why not?

Friday, January 14, 2005

Wolfman Mac

From the Wolfman Jack Museum website:

For millions, Wolfman Jack--indisputably the world's most famous DJ--was the master of ceremonies for the rock 'n' roll generation of the '60s on radio, and later on television during the '70s. In the early 1960s, when much of the airwaves were segregated, Bob Smith created his shadowy wild man alter ego so that he could DJ on the radio the "rhythm and blues" race records n he loved so much. As the enigmatic Wolfman Jack, the young white man from one of Brooklyn, one of New York's toughest neighborhoods, could easily hide behind a voice that masked his true ethnic roots. Many teens first discovered The Wolfman while scanning the AM radio band as they cruised Main Street U.S.A. Out of the night came a howling, guttural, ethereal voice amid a collection of rock 'n' roll, inner-city ethnic rhythm, and deep south blues records that wouldn't be found on any "legal" radio station.

Indeed, Wolfman Jack held Court over his young audience from XERF-AM, just south of Cuidad Acuna, Mexico, where the 250,000 watt signal -- five times more powerful than any U.S. radio station -- blanketed most of North America. Without the benefit of traditional advertising, it was word of mouth that spread the news about the provocative Wolfman and his nonconformist style -- the kind of style that horrified parents, making it all the more appealing to a growing legion of young followers.
Wolfman Jack was Advanced and fascinating, but that's not why I'm writing this. I've always been fascinated by the Mexican-radio phenomenom, and, like many others I'm sure, have wondered if maybe satellite radio or streaming radio stations would be the next Mexcican Radio. I'm strating to think now that maybe it will be audio blogs or maybe even Podcasts. (Pirate radio stations are nice, but no one can hear them.) The key I guess would be getting the music to cars. Unfortunately, I don't know much about the technology involved.

I'm on a Bus on a Psychedelic Trip

I heard "Eyes Without a Face" by Billy Idol this morning, and I was struck by Steve Stevens' guitar playing. It would have been at home on "Here Come the Warm Jets." That Stevens seems like an interesting guy, what with the hair and the collaboration with Michael Jackson. Anyway, "Eyes Without a Face" is a masterpiece, I think. It also fits in well with my U.K./France theme.

Interact With Gerald Casale

Here's something interesting from

Gerald Casale, the bass player for 70s alt-Rock band Devo, has produced an interactive video for A Perfect Circle's version of "Imagine."

You can't get much more Advanced than this: A former member of Devo producing an "interactive video" for some band's cover of an uncoverable song by John Lennon. By the way, Devo's version of "I Can't Get No (Satisfaction)" is the best cover an uncoverable song ever. I think the Butthole Surfers' version of "American Woman" might be the second best.

Go here to see the "Imagine" video.

David Bowie: The Very Overt Years

Two "rare David Bowie films" are being released on DVD. I'll let the Belfast Telegraph tell the story:

The release of two rare David Bowie films offers a revealing insight into the singer's pre-Stardust career, says Tim Cumming.
14 January 2005

The release on DVD of two long-unavailable television films from the period sheds a new light on those years, revealing a startlingly different Bowie at a crucial transitional point. The man who would change the face of Seventies pop was still learning to put on his make-up, but learning fast.

Bowie had begun 1969 as far from his pop ambitions as he'd been throughout the Sixties in a succession of bands, the King Bees, Manish Boys, the Nazz, the Buzz, and as the leader of Davey Jones (his real name) & The Lower Third. In January, he appear-ed in a Lyons Maid advert for an ice cream. More significant-ly, he co-founded the Beckenham Arts Lab at the Three Tunns pub, playing host to Steve Harley and future Spider from Mars Mick Ronson, as well as a motley selection of poets, artists and performers.

The projectcrucially gave Bowiespace to experiment. He worked on "Space Oddity" there, and by November, with the single's unexpected success, hadprogressed to concerts at the Purcell Room, with the NME carrying news of a TV special "devoted to him singing everything from folk to rock'n'roll and ballads".

But Love You Till Tuesday, a 40-minute showcase produced by Bowie's then-manager Kenneth Pitt, was never broadcast. It is a poor-quality staple of the bootleg circuit among the Bowie faithful. Its accompanied on DVD by an equally obscure gem, The Looking Glass Murders, a musical pantomime Bowie created with Lindsay Kemp after joining Kemp's Underground Mime Troupe in 1967. "It's so naive, I cringe," Kemp says today. "But back then it was buried, it was considered too risqué."

...Bowie proved a willing pupil; they not only worked together, but were reputed to be lovers, until Kemp discovered Bowie was sleeping with a female dancer. "We led the most degenerate bohemian life," Bowie recalled in the early 1980s. "So French - Existentialism, reading Genet and listening to R&B." He toured with Kemp for a year before leaving to form his own troupe, Feathers. It was short-lived, but what Bowie had learnt would help to fashion his future stage personae.

The Looking Glass Murders was filmed at Edinburgh's Gateway Theatre in January 1970. "I was living in Scotland," says Kemp. "David came up, and we spent two days working on it." Bowie's performance is haunting. "David was beautiful," says Kemp. "He playeda balladeer, and kept the story together with his songs." The spare musical backing of organ, guitar and voice is in pleasurably stark contrast to the Sixties-style bombast of Love You Till Tuesday.

Most of Tuesday's songs were from his 1967 debut, a collection of nightmarish show tunes that Bowie performs here like a mutant Anthony Newley dressed as Jason King. There are highlights, such as "Sell Me a Coat", and with the rockier "Let Me Sleep Beside You" you catch sight of the emerging legend. Bearing a stage-prop white guitar, Bowie suddenly becomes recognisable, as he delicately apes the guitar-wielding theatrics of Hendrix to a distinctly glam-like groove.

But the moment when past and future combine to stunning effect is with the opening chords of a stripped-down version of "Space Oddity". As Bowie mimes a brilliantly simple enactment of Major Tom's ascent, you glimpse the sound and look of the new de-cade. The Sixties are over,and everything is about to change.
Glad to see that when he was Overt he was still doing adverts.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Talking Heads: Classic Rock?

Here's something I've wondered for a long time: When did "Burning Down the House" and the Talking Heads in general become classic rock? I think it might have started with "Take Me to the River," but I can't be sure.

Giving Your Seven Inch to Lou Reed

According to, Lou Reed will be at South by Southwest:

Reed will submit to a formal interview March 18 at the Austin Convention Center as part of the conference, then play that night as a headliner at the BMI showcase at the Austin Music Hall. Reed joins former Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant, who will deliver SXSW's keynote speech and also perform at the annual music industry gathering.

Reed will be releasing a new album this year, his first since changing labels, from Warner Bros. to Sanctuary. He kicks off a European tour April 14 in Oporto, Portugal.
I'll see you in Oporto! (Austin is too expensive.)

Francoise Hardy

I figure since the blog has been leaning to the European (and particularly French) side of things that I would link you to this article from the Telegraph about Francoise Hardy. I don't know much about her, but apparently she was pursued by Bob Dylan, but she preferred Mick Jagger.

Duke Ellington Advanced?

There is an article at Slate about Duke Ellington's underappreciated later work. I don't know enough about jazz to really add anything to this, so I'll just quote some of the article:

"He produced music that would not only extend the reaches of jazz but would become one of the largest and most original bodies of American music ever created. Ellington's early classics, produced between 1927 and 1940, have been often and rightly praised; his late work has been largely neglected. But the late work offers plenty of masterworks for the listener of sufficiently refined taste, or the one willing to sophisticate his or her taste. Put simply, Ellington's late work is largely a secret treasure. Anyone purporting to be civilized, or who desires to be, should have as many late Ellington recordings as possible in his or her audio collection.

"In conventional jazz writing, Ellington is said to have reached his musical peak in the three years of 1940 to 1942, when there is supposed to have been an unimpeachable balance between composition and personnel, resulting in stellar renditions and eloquent improvisation. But Ellington's ongoing evolution, from 1943 to the end of his life, runs counter to the standard critical take. In that last 30 years of band-leading and composing, Ellington achieved a remarkable range and authority. This was the result of both the time he had spent in the musical game and the vast technical and human experience his players were able to bring to the music, resulting in an abundance of varied tonal depth, emotional expansion, and subtlety—all of which is revealed in an increasing number of reissues and remixes now available. These recordings, stretching from the '40s to the '70s, demonstrate just how brilliantly Ellington and his band developed, decade by decade, almost right up to his death in 1974."

No Argument Here

This morning I had the pleasure of experiencing the phenomenon where the ten minutes between my hitting the snooze button and the sound of the alarm feels like three days. During these days and minutes, I dreamt that I was thinking of Aristotle and how wrong many of his theories were, which led me to the thought that often it is not the quality of an idea that counts so much as the argument that proves it. When I woke up, that idea had stuck with me, and I realized that it might have something to do with Advancement. I think maybe that Overt artists try harder to persuade us that their ideas are good, using arguments that are designed to please us, whereas the Advanced artists, having already proven to themselves that they can persuade people that their art is worthwhile, let their work stand on his own. I could be way off, but maybe there's something to it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Bad Habits

According to Frank Black, the PIxies are staying away from alcohol to support Kim Deal, who has had problems with drugs and alchohol. Take it away,

"'Kim said to me, 'Charles, I really hope you understand that I really want this tour to be a dry tour because I'm not drinking right now and I don't want to start drinking again.' Once I realised that, I was like - oh this is going to be a lot easier. "The fact that she's not drinking has caused everyone else not to drink, because we're all trying to be supportive, and as a result everyone is pulling together. "No one's drunk, no one's high, everyone's on top of it and not tired because they're hungover."
Using hard drugs is very Overt, but so is being what we used to call straight edge. In other words, making a statement either by using or not using drugs/alcohol is Overt.

Spamalot Update

"Spamalot," the musical written by Eric Idle and directed by Mike Nichols has opened in Chicago to "rave reviews." I'll let the take over:

Former Monty Python Eric Idle’s new show Spamalot has opened to acclaim in the United States.

Billed as “the musical lovingly ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, Spamalot won rave reviews for its first night in Chicago. Directed by Mike Nichols and starring David Hyde Pierce, Hank Azaria and Tim Curry, Spamalot is “poised to give a mediocre theatre season a much needed lift”, said the New York Post.

...Fears that Python sketches would fall flat if performed by anyone other than the original Pythons were quickly allayed.

“They and the rest of the cast seem to have channelled the original Pythons, while bringing their own sharp comic instincts to bear on the characters,” the Post said. Idle said he had no concerns about casting other actors in Python roles.
Recasting classic sketches--this whole endeavor really--is Advanced. As I've said before, Eric Idle is the most Advanced member of Monty Python.

Back in the New Yorker Groove

There is an article in the New Yorker about U2, the Pixies, R.E.M., David Bowie, and Bob Dylan. Actually, it's about how these acts, particularly the Pixies and R.E.M., deal with growing older. I haven't read it yet, but I would imagine it's interesting.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Radio on the Radio

Radio is spending $28 million to promote radio on...the radio! Here's the story from the

The radio industry plans to promote itself in coming weeks via a string of high-profile print and on-air ads featuring testimonials from music stars such as Nelly, Alicia Keys and Ludacris, as the medium finds itself the latest of a number of aging industries fighting back against new-tech rivals.

In the past three years, the nation's nearly 14,000 AM and FM stations have come face to face with a new threat: satellite radio. Washington's XM Satellite Radio and New York's Sirius Satellite Radio charge a monthly fee to beam more than 100 channels of largely commercial-free radio to customers. Both services started with zero subscribers and have grown to a combined 4.3 million as of the end of 2004.

Though that number represents only about 1 percent of the total radio audience, traditional radio executives have grown tired of satellite radio's claims -- that AM and FM radio is canned and over-formatted, devoid of personality and new music and too full of commercials and repetitious playlists.

This comes at a time when radio -- following a wave of late-'90s consolidation -- has settled into single-digit revenue growth. The average time spent listening has dropped from 20 hours 45 minutes per week in 2000 to 20 hours per week in 2003, according to Arbitron Inc.

"There have been a lot of urban legends and falsehoods articulated in the public of late, and radio operators are stepping up and telling their story," said David J. Field, president of Entercom Communications Corp., the nation's fourth-largest radio chain, with 100 stations, and one of the companies behind the campaign. "Some of the arguments about being homogenous or not being innovative are absurd. We are more innovative today than ever before."

The promotional ads, sent to thousands of radio stations yesterday, include the tagline: "Radio. You hear it here first." The campaign is designed to show AM and FM radio as the place that exposes listeners to new music.

Nearly every major radio chain -- including Clear Channel Communications Inc., Infinity Broadcasting Corp., Emmis Communications Corp., Radio One Inc. and Bonneville International Corp. -- is donating airtime, which the industry estimates is valued at about $28 million. Additionally, a print campaign will launch in youth-oriented magazines such as Vibe, Spin and Entertainment Weekly, all aiming to run through February.

The newspaper industry -- which has faced declining circulation since 1987 and continues to lose readers to the Internet -- fielded a similar promotional campaign some years ago, featuring celebrities such as former NFL great John Elway reading newspapers.

...Field said none of the artists are receiving compensation, either in payment or promised airplay for their music.
This is dumb. And it really calls attention to satellite radio. Check out all the links to XM and other satellite companies.

No. 1 Baby

Frank Black has a son. Here's the story from

Pixies frontman Frank Black has become a first time father. Black (whose real name is Charles Thompson) and partner Violet, became the parents of Jack Errol Thompson on January 7 at 3.59pm in Springfield, Oregon. According to Black, "He's perfect and 7 pounds and 9 ounces of pure handsome".

The picture they show of the Pixies is slightly outdated. They all have hair, and Frank Black looks like he's about 7 pounds and 9 ounces. Also, I'll bet that baby can scream.

Proustian Rush

I came across a quote in a biography of Marcel Proust that is germane to our discussion: "This voluntary subjugation is the beginning of freedom. There is no better way to become aware of what one feels oneself than by trying to re-create in oneself that which a master has experienced. In this profound effort that we make, it is our own way of thinking, together with the master's, that we bring to light." Proust made a habit of worshipping people ("voluntary subjugation"), then distancing himself from them, then using what he learned to create his own unique set of aesthetics. He was certainly flawed--I would never go to him for dating advice--but I bring this up because the Advanced theory deals with many artists who have started their careers consciously rejecting (not necessarily explicitly, but certainly within their work) their idols but then eventually come back around to embrace them. Bob Dylan is a great example. He started out wanting to be Elvis, then Woody Guthrie, and eventually became something of both, which was an entirely unique and authentic creation: Bob Dylan. This goes to the heart of the Advanced Theory, which says that doing the opposite of what is expected is just as easy as doing what is expected. Evolving the way that Bob Dylan (or Proust) did, makes an artist difficult to understand, but they are ultimately much more interesting than those who either reject their heroes or mimic them.

Antony and the Johnsons

There is a review in the New York Times of the peculiar singer Antony. As you may remember, Lou Reed is his "mentor." Here are some bits:

...He calls himself Antony and his loose-knit group Antony and the Johnsons. On Sunday night, Antony appeared at Joe's Pub cloaked in nothing more outlandish than a dark dinner jacket. He was joined by the five Johnsons: a guitarist, a bassist, two violinists and a cellist. And from the moment he folded himself onto a piano bench and sent his beautiful voice wafting out into the room, this was a witty, almost perversely casual concert.

The songs inspired an intense, hushed joy. You could see it on the candlelit faces of the people in the audience; some had their eyes closed. But Antony kept puncturing the mood, as if he were playing some sly game, and maybe he was. He would noisily adjust the microphone before the music had died down, or follow a sublime performance with some ridiculous aside. After one soaring song, he half-jokingly apologized: "Gosh, sorry, I got a little screamy on that one."

...Antony once told an interviewer, "The faggotry of what I do is so extreme," and his songs evoke a world as powerful and unsteady as his voice, full of characters trying to figure out the distance between what they are and what they love. One of the first songs he sang was "My Lady Story," from his new album "I Am a Bird" (Secretly Canadian), due out Feb. 15. "My lady story is one of annihilation/My lady story is one of breast amputation," he murmured, pouring his voice into the notes until they overflowed.

...The album also includes contributions from Lou Reed, who has become a mentor to Antony, and the eccentric folkie Devendra Banhart, along with Boy George, who joins Antony on a weird, luminous love song, "You Are My Sister." When Antony sang it alone, at the end of the set, it was hard to tell whether he was pining for the voice that wasn't there or celebrating the one that was.

He returned after a few moments for an encore, although he stopped himself after a few bars. "Do I sound like Tori Amos?" he wanted to know, and after the crowd assured him that he did not, he rewarded them with a mean little story about Ms. Amos. The night eventually ended with a glowing version of "I Fell in Love With a Dead Boy" (in which he croons, "You're such a beautiful boy/I ask him, are you a boy or a girl?"), and while the last chord was still ringing, Antony said, "O.K., so we're done for the night," and soon he was gone.
I might have to give this gentleman a listen.

Monday, January 10, 2005

U.K. More Advanced?

Reissues are all the rage in the U.K. singles chart. We pick up the story from

Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock" (RCA) entered the U.K. singles chart at No. 1 yesterday (Jan. 9), the day after the King would have turned 70 years old. The title took over the top spot despite posting the lowest weekly sales totals in the chart's history (21,262 copies).

..."Jailhouse Rock" thus becomes the 999th No. 1 in the history of the British chart, having also been the 67th in January 1958, when it was the first disc to enter the survey at No. 1. Today, RCA reissues Presley's next U.K. bestseller, "One Night," and speculation is rife that next weekend it could become the 1000th No. 1 since the 1952 inception of the chart.

Another reissue of somewhat more recent vintage, Iron Maiden's 1982 hit "The Number of the Beast" (EMI), hit the new singles chart at No. 3, having only reached No. 18 its first time around. Another veteran chart act reappeared at No. 4, as "Breathe" (Mute) became the 17th U.K. top 10 hit for British pop duo Erasure over a period of more than 18 years. It's the lead track from the upcoming album "Nightbird" (Mute), and its first set of original material since 2000's "Loveboat."

New at No. 5 was "Filthy/Gorgeous," the fifth single from the Scissor Sisters' self-titled Universal debut album, which returns to No. 1 on the U.K. album chart in its 49th week. It took 22 weeks to reach the top of the British chart for the first time in July, with a second brief stint two weeks later. The U.K. sales total of "Scissor Sisters" is now 1.63 million, according to the label.
Also, "Heroes" by David Bowie was just named best British song since 1970-something. Is it me, or is the listening public in the U.K. more Advanced than that of the U.S.A.? Or are they more Overt? I'm confused.

Update: I think I'm going to have to say that America is more Advanced because they like Oasis way too much over in the U.K.

Love Me: Dudley Moore and Peter Cook

Many years ago, a band I was in from time to time recorded an album in New Jersey. The studio, which was attached to the producer's house, had sleeping accomodations, so we stayed there for a week or so. We were not allowed to go into the house very much, but we were allowed to watch one of the many videos this person owned. (At the time, it was a bit of a rarity for someone to own a lot of movies.) Two movies that I saw there for the first time were "Putney Swope" and "Bedazzled," starring Dudley Moore and Peter Cook. At the time, I only knew Moore from "Arthur" and "10." What struck me most at the time was a scene where he plays a rock star who sings a very great song that includes begging the woman of his dreams to love him (it's called "Love Me"). The woman is crazy about him until Peter Cook sings a song that literally says "I'm not available," which makes the woman love him instead. Peter Cook, by the way, plays the devil. Anyway, the songs are great, and you can hear them here. When you get to the site, just do a search for "F12710" or just scroll down. The songs are really great.

Where's Their Courage?

I recently started listening to "Three-Way Tie (for Last)" by the Minutemen, which got me to thinking: Do kids in high school today listen to them these days? I know that some kids still listen to Black Flag, or, at least, they are familiar with their logo (I still see it drawn on blue-jean jackets), but I don't know that anyone in high school still listens to the Minutemen. I guess the larger question is whether they translate today, and, if not, were they that good in the first place? In any case, I think they were good and interesting, though they did occasionally get a little too jazzy for my tastes.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Digital Killed the Analog Star

According to an article at slashdot, the "last manufacturer of pro analog audio tape" (Quantegy) has closed. Here's the story of the plant closing as well as an interesting bit of history:

"Quantegy, Inc. has ceased operations pending restructuring. This is due to financial issues that have plagued the industry and Quantegy for some time. All employees are on lay off pending further notice," according to a brief press release issued by the company Friday. The Opelika plant, once employed some 1,800 workers, has recently filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Almost 60 years ago, the story was different. "In 1945, after capturing several German 'Magnetophon' tape recorders from Radio Luxembourg, the American Signal Corps recorded a speech by Gen. Dwight Eisenhower to be played to the people of occupied Germany. Due to a shortage of recording tape, the speech had to be recorded on a reel of used German tape.

Due to a problem with the German tape recorder, the tape was not completely erased and the voice of Adolph Hitler was intermittently heard along with Eisenhower's voice. This caused a great deal of fear and confusion among the German people and obviously a great deal of embarrassment for the Allied Signal Corps.

Gen. Eisenhower issued an immediate order that no more captured German tape was to be used and assigned Maj. John Herbert Orr to develop an American magnetic tape manufacturing facility.

Maj. Orr located a German scientist, Dr. Karl Pfleumer, who gave him a basic formula for magnetic tape. Within two weeks, Maj. Orr had managed to manufacture his first reels of usable audio tape. After returning to his home in Opelika, Alabama, Orr set up a magnetic tape manufacturing facility and soon afterwards began marketing his own tape under the "IRISH" brand name. Orr continued his manufacturing operation and in 1959, Orradio Industries became part of the Ampex Corporation.

Founded by Alexander M. Poniatoff, The Ampex Corporation had been developing audio tape recorders since the end of WWII starting with its model 200. The company's first sales of the Model 200 were to Bing Crosby Enterprises and the American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). In 1956, Ampex announced a historic breakthrough - the first practical video tape recorder.

Shortly after this introduction Poniatoff and Orr entered into negotiations and in 1959, Orradio Industries became the Ampex Magnetic Tape Division of Ampex Corporation. In November of 1995, the Ampex Recording Media Corporation was put up for sale, and the recording media pioneer became Quantegy Inc., according to Fast forward 2005...

"It's like Happy New Year - you don't have a job," said one former Quantegy employee. "Most of these employees have worked there 28 to 30 years - they don't know anything else; they are a different breed of people, dedicated to the company. The average age is 50 plus, and no matter what they say - it's not easy to start over."

Quantegy management could not be reached Saturday.