Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Morrissey Sells Sanctuary?

According to billboard.com, Morrissey is angry with the official label of Advancement, Sancutary:

Morrissey took to the Internet this weekend to clarify a previously announced booking at the upcoming Isle of Wight festival, for which he claims to have been confirmed in error. The former Smiths frontman also lashed out at his label, Sanctuary Records, and declared he would sign with a different company prior to the release of a new studio album.

A statement on Morrissey's Sanctuary-run official Web site blamed the Isle of Wight confusion on the artist's busy schedule. "The pressure of preparing the new album and losing his drummer [Dean Butterworth] earlier this month has made it impossible to do the gig without massively compromising both the gig and the album," it said.

But Morrissey rebutted that information on well-respected fan site True To You, claiming, "I have not ever, at any time, agreed to play the Isle of Wight Festival. The announcement that I would play was made by Sanctuary -- and it was their error. However, record companies will never take the blame for their own mistakes and Sanctuary's press statement ... reflects this."

"In truth, I am not at all under pressure with the follow-up to [the 2004 album] 'You Are The Quarry' -- everything is in hand, and ready," he insisted. "However, my contract with Sanctuary ended last year and hasn't been renewed."
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You always have to side with the artist in this kind of thing, but something tells me that Morrissey might not be the easiest person to deal with.

Advancement in the News

My review of U2's recent show in New Jersey is up at spin.com.

Live 8: The Revenge

According to billboard.com, Bob Geldof is at it again:

Circus Maximus in Rome, London's Hyde Park and the Eiffel Tower in Paris are among the venues that will host Live 8, a series of concerts being organized by Bob Geldof, the driving force behind the Band Aid and Live Aid campaigns for African famine relief. The July 2 concerts, which will be free, also will be held at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and in Philadelphia, organizers said.

Performers include Coldplay, Madonna, Paul McCartney, R.E.M. and U2 in London; Will Smith, Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews Band, Stevie Wonder and P. Diddy in Philadelphia; Crosby, Stills and Nash, Lauren Hill and Brian Wilson in Berlin; Jamiroquai, Youssou N'Dour, Yannick Noah [no Ivan Lendl? -jh] and Placebo in Paris; and Duran Duran in Rome.
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A good cause, but Paris really got screwed on this one. But that's what happens when you reject a referendum on the constitution for Europe.

Epictetus, Montaigne, Buddha Advanced?

There is an article at TNR's website (you need a subscription) about Steve McQueen. This caught my eye:

As the descriptive term for an existential condition, "cool" has been around for a long time, and it seems to be permanently fixed in American speech. Its various essences seem to be walking slowly; speaking in a measured, unexcited manner, and usually in a deep voice; treating people who have greater power or authority somewhat haughtily, not to say insolently, while treating people with less power or authority as equals; refusing to act the way other people tell you to act; living unaffected by external forces or circumstances; preferring to be solitary rather than joining the chorus of other people; and speaking in your own original idiom, to the point of even seeming to have your very own vocabulary.

Those qualities are the rudiments of cool. In fact, they come straight out of Aristotle--his definition of the "great-souled" man--Epictetus, and Montaigne. You can find similar prescriptions throughout Western culture--throughout world culture, actually: quiet, composed Buddha was quintessentially cool--in Machiavelli and in Castiglione's famous Renaissance guide to being an effective courtier. You could say that cool reached its apotheosis in Enlightenment rationalism, disappeared in Romanticism's raptures and stayed absent during Modernism's frenzies, finally surfacing in postmodernism's paeans to the death of feeling and personality--with the critical exception that postmodern and any kind of irony is anathema to profoundly cool people.
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You could replace "cool" with "Advanced" and be right on the money. Was Aristotle the original Advanced theorist? I must look into this.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day Lull

There isn't much new out there today because of Memorial Day, so there might not be any posts today. But you never know...

Saturday, May 28, 2005

New VU Discovered

Here's something pretty incredible from the globeandmail.com:

When he paid 75 cents at a Manhattan street sale for this shellacked aluminum record with a handwritten label, Montreal student Warren Hill had no idea it was a master recording of Lou Reed's legendary Velvet Underground that would go on to change the course of rock 'n' roll. Next month, JAMES ADAMS reports, Hill's sensational find hits eBay -- with an opening bid of $40,000

...The item, as you can see, isn't much to look at -- just a circular hunk of shellacked blackness with a hole in its middle and some handwriting on a nondescript label. It is, in fact, an acetate recording of the Velvet Underground's first studio session at Scepter Studios in New York in late April, 1966. The acetate -- a sort of master recording or preliminary pressing done on brittle, cheap aluminum, covered with acetone -- contains nine songs by the Velvets that the group, which was formed in November, 1965, later rerecorded or remixed in California, then released in March, 1967, as its first official recording, The Velvet Underground & Nico.

...What makes Hill's acetate so valuable is that four of its nine songs are different takes (versions or arrangements) of the ones found on The Velvet Underground & Nico, while the remaining five feature different mixes (the balance between and among the instruments and vocals) than those officially issued. Moreover, all nine versions have never seen the light of day, either as after-the-fact recordings or bootlegs, and whatever master tapes there were have long since disappeared.
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This is pretty amazing, and I can't wait to hear them. This reminds me: If you're in a band and make any kind of recording, never throw away that recording, no matter how lousy it is. One day, someone will find it interesting, even if it's just you.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Madonna: Rock'n'Roll Never Forgets

According to billboard.com, Madonna is working on a new album:

Work is progressing on Madonna's next studio album, although details are scant at deadline. "If you haven't heard that Madonna is back in the studio recording, then you might be living under a rock," a statement on her official Web site says. "Madonna is busy in the studio collaborating with new producers that she has never worked with before."

At deadline, it was unknown when the as-yet-untitled album would be released, or with whom Madonna was working.
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As you may remember, a while back I posted something about this album. At the time, there was talk of the album having a Franz Ferdinand feel, and I said that it is Advanced to say that you are influenced by a young, cool band and then making music that doesn't sound anything like them. Well, I don't see any reference to Franz Ferdinand anywhere on her website these days, if you know what I mean.

Elvis Costello Kicks Out the Jams

According to contactmusic.com, Elvis Costello really likes his football:

"British rocker ELVIS COSTELLO angered his fans on Wednesday night (25MAY05) by watching his favourite soccer team LIVERPOOL win the CHAMPION'S LEAGUE FINAL - rather than turn up on time to his own gig. The OLIVER'S ARMY star was due to perform at Britain's University Of East Anglia, but kept his audience waiting for more than two hours in order to watch the match. And Costello further infuriated fans, by swearing at them for booing him when he finally took to the stage, prompting many audience members to walk out."

As I've said before, liking sports, especially your nation's top sport, is Advanced. It's also Advanced of him to swear at the fans.

Bodeans: Sue Your Television

According to good ol' Yahoo!, the Bodeans are $200,000 richer:

A jury has awarded the BoDeans rock 'n roll group more than $200,000 from a former manager. The Milwaukee Circuit Court jury decided Thursday that Mark McCraw was liable for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duties and improper use of property owned by a company formed by the band. It awarded $185,105 to Keshaw Inc., the firm formed by the band, as well as $17,500 in punitive damages.

...McCraw managed the group for about 20 years, but the relationship became strained during contract negotiations in 1996 as its song "Closer to Free" gained popularity as the theme song for the television show "Party of Five."
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Too bad they couldn't settle their differences like the family in "Party of Five." I guess that's the difference between TV and real life. Oh why can't life be more like TV?

Geffen Shares His Beach

According to Yahoo!, you can now visit David Geffen's beach:

Twenty-two years after mogul David Geffen promised to let the public onto the beach near his mansion, a walkway was opened and activists savored their victory under the watchful eye of security cameras and a guard.

...The DreamWorks co-founder, who did not attend the ceremony, agreed in 1983 to build a pathway across his property in exchange for permission to remodel his seafront mansion. Geffen built the paved walk but then refused to unlock its gates, arguing that the beach lacked necessary parking, lifeguards or restrooms to accommodate the public. He and the city of Malibu sued the state Coastal Commission in 2002 over its alleged failure to conduct a proper environmental analysis.

In April, however, Geffen turned over the gate keys to the group Access for All. He also agreed to reimburse California and the nonprofit group $300,000 in legal fees. The pathway was monitored by video cameras and a security guard to keep visitors off private property.
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What a heartwarming story!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Les Mis II: "Ca Ira"

According to billboard.com, Roger Waters has finally finished his opera:

Former Pink Floyd principal Roger Waters has completed work on a long-gestating project that tells the story of the French Revolution via modern opera. "Ca Ira" will arrive Sept. 27 via Sony BMG Masterworks/Columbia as a two-disc Super Audio CD set bolstered by a behind-the-scenes DVD chronicling its creative evolution.

..."It is a brilliantly creative work," Sony Classical president Peter Gelb told Billboard in 1999. "Unlike some of the orchestral pop records I've heard that are unsuccessful because they just synthesize pop material, this is an organic work written for orchestra. But it is unmistakably a Roger Waters piece, with certain effects and an atmosphere that reminds you of some of his past work, including [Pink Floyd's] 'The Wall.'"
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Why do you even bother to quote the president of the company? What can he possibly add to a report about a record he's putting out? Also, the quote is from six years ago. Nevertheless, I can hardly wait to hear this brilliantly creative, organic work. I hope it will remind me of "The Wall."

Whatever Happened to Pong: Laser-Show Edition

Things are still slow in the world of Advancement, but I found this MTV item amusing:

If your idea of a hot Saturday night is a few hours of Xbox and a trip to the local Pink Floyd laser-light show, then Video Games Live is your dream date. Kicking off with a July 6 show at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, the national touring show will feature music from some of the most popular games of all time ("Myst," "Super Mario Bros.," "Legend of Zelda," "Halo," "Sonic," "Final Fantasy") performed live by orchestras and choirs, combined with video footage, lasers, lights and live onstage gaming characters. Audience members will be chosen at each stop to compete onstage head-to-head on a massive screen.
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Why not?

Strummer 101

According to rollingstone.com, the only album by Joe Strummer's pre-Clash band, the 101ers, is going to be reissued:

Richard Dudanski, Strummer's longtime friend and former 101ers drummer, is overseeing the release of Elgin Avenue Breakdown (Revisited) (Astralwerks), which features newly unearthed live tracks that showcase Strummer's raw, R&B beginnings. "Sometimes I put it on, and I can remember every detail of the gigs," says Dudandski, who later played with Public Image Ltd. and the Raincoats. "It was a very special time."

During their two-year career, the 101ers (named for the address of the London squat where they formed) became known as one of the city's top R&B acts. They boasted a Chuck Berry jones and colorful, Strummer-derived nicknames -- Richard Nother became "Snakehips Dudanski," a handle that partially stuck. Contemporaries of such bands as Dr. Feelgood, the Strummer-fronted 101ers were part of a back-to-basics movement that cleared the decks for punk -- which ultimately enticed Strummer to leave the group and join the Clash.

...The original studio sessions are augmented by live material from a pair of cassettes Dudanski uncovered. The album's recording of the Rolling Stones' "Out of Time" comes from a high-energy show the 101ers played at Wandsworth Prison in 1976. "The last time Joe and I spoke was about four months before he died, here in Spain, and I talked about that actual gig as the best one ever, and he kind of agreed," says Dudanski. "So that was one of the reasons I wanted to put it on there."

...When Strummer left the 101ers, Dudanski says that he was also invited to join the fledgling Clash. He refused, he says, because he didn't trust the band's manager, Bernie Rhodes. And, according to Dudanski, Rhodes' insistence on erasing all aspects of Strummer's "supposedly dubious past" -- including any acknowledgment of the 101ers -- left him feeling "really pissed off with Joe."
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Later, Strummer came to acknowledge his role with the 101s, but big deal. It's not very impressive when someone does something lousy to become successful, then after they become successful, they say they shouldn't have done what they did. Like John Mellencamp changing his name to John Cougar and pretending he never wanted to do it. Don't get me wrong, I do like a little Cougar from time to time, but it's just lame.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Jack

Wow, nothing Advanced happened today. I guess that isn't so bad. Maybe we all just needed a break. Supposedly my review of U2's recent concert in New Jersey should be up soon at spin.com, so you can read that later if you're hankering for Advancement.

Have a good night.

New Radio Format Not So New?

There is an article at Yahoo! about the recent move of some radio stations to focus on variety. Some say that this is nothing new:

With names like Jack and Bob (or Fickle and Nine), radio stations promising an anything-goes mix of pop and rock hits are springing up across the country. The variety format is seen, in part, as a way to appeal to listeners used to loading their own iPods with music from different genres — or to keep those thinking about switching to satellite. [sound good so far -JH]

...The stations tell listeners "we play what we want" or "we play anything." But they're really carefully crafted to keep advertisers happy, observers say. Song choices target a lucrative but musically hard-to-define demographic, 25- to 54-year-olds, who want to hear new music but not rap and bubblegum pop, and who declare themselves too young to listen to the oldies. "This is oldies wrapped up in new wrapping paper and a new bow," said Tom Taylor, editor of Inside Radio, a trade publication owned by Clear Channel Communications Inc.
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Well, if a Clear Channel publication says it, how can you doubt it?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Costner on the Town

Here's something from contactmusic.com:

KEVIN COSTNER is set to show off his song and dance talents after signing up to star in his first musical - a remake of 1949 classic ON THE TOWN. The DANCES WITH WOLVES star, who was once a skilled ballet star, will reportedly recreate GENE KELLY's role in the project about three sailors living it up in New York on shore leave. The actor tells SKYNEWS.COM, "This will move people to me in so many different ways."
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This reminds me of the Barbara Walters spoof on SNL where she is interviewing Burt Reynolds. It goes something like this:

Barbara Walters: Burt, your career was in great peril. You lost Loni, you lost your hair. But at last, your back on top! How does it feel?

Burt Reynolds: [silent while chewing gum] Yeah.

Barbara Walters: But - but tell me, are you finally at peace?

Burt Reynolds: Peace. Yeah. Sure.

Barbara Walters: One things for sure, after your critically acclaimed performance in "Boogie Nights," directors from Gus Van Sant to Quentin Tarantino, will be banging down your door. Burt, what's your next project?

Burt Reynolds: Doing a, uh, car picture with Dom DeLouise. Funny guy.

Doobie Brother Protects the Homeland

I was sent this:

"Former Doobie Brothers guitarist Jeff Baxter is a well-known counterterrorism expert, the Wall Street Journal reports. He does work for the Department of Defense and has consulting contracts with Northrop Grumman, Science Applications International and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. He specializes in helping defense firms and government officials understand how terrorists think and behave."

Well, that makes it official: Everyone is smarter than I am.

Ringo Can't Go Home Again

According to the Scotsman, Ringo Starrr's childhood home is in danger of being demolished:

The Victorian terrace at 9 Madryn Street, in Toxteth, Liverpool, where the drummer lived for four years, is one of a number of properties earmarked for demolition under a Government-backed regeneration scheme. Starr has called for the homes to be refurbished.

But bosses at the Newheartlands pathfinder scheme stressed no final decision had been made about the future of the properties, which are known as the Welsh streets. A spokeswoman for the scheme said: "We understand the cultural significance of Ringo's birthplace and are proposing innovative ways of reflecting this in any future development. I'm sure that Ringo would welcome proposals to improve the quality of housing and potential investment of millions of pounds in the area where he grew up."

Whatever happens, they should at least save the octopus's garden. (Thank you very much.)

Tell 'Em That It's Human Nature

The new subscription services (where you pay a monthly fee to listen to as much music as you want) are great, but they deprive you of one of the great joys in the world: waking up after a night of getting wasted and realizing that you bought "Footloose" and "The Reflex" for some reason. It's not the same if you don't have to pay extra.

Monday, May 23, 2005

U2 and Leonard Cohen

According to Yahoo! potentially Advanced U2 played with probably Advanced Leonard Cohen when they had some time off from touring obligations:

Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen, Jr., and Adam Clayton joined singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen at The Slipperoom Club in downtown Manhattan, where Bono and Cohen duetted on the Cohen track called "Tower Of Song," according to u2.com. The performance was shot for a documentary being put together on Cohen. It wasn't the first time Bono has done a Cohen song. He did a version of Cohen's "Hallelujah" on the 1995 tribute album called Tower Of Song: The Songs Of Leonard Cohen. That project also featured Don Henley, Elton John, Billy Joel, and Peter Gabriel.
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That's quite a line-up. I dont' know how Billy Joel found his way in that group, but for all I know Leonard Cohen is a huge fan of "In the Middle of the Night." I know I am.

Frank Black in Nashville

There is an interview with Frank Black at rollingstone.com. Here's the intro:

"A week before launching the Pixies reunion tour last spring, frontman Frank Black headed into the studio to record his eleventh solo effort, Honeycomb. Out July 19th, the album fulfills Black's decade-long fantasy of making a Nashville record with serious Southern soul talent, with producer Jon Tiven wrangling veterans of legendary studios Muscle Shoals, American Studios and Stax Records.

Honeycomb is Americana-tinged, recorded with Tiven (Wilson Pickett, B.B. King) in only four days at Nashville's Better Songs and Gardens, owned by songwriter Dan Penn (Aretha Franklin, Solomon Burke). In addition to Steve Cropper (Booker T. and the MG's) and Spooner Oldham (Neil Young, Janis Joplin), Black played with guitarist Buddy Miller (Steve Earle, Dixie Chicks) and bassist David Hood (Traffic). As if to match the genre, the often-cryptic Black penned lyrics that are surprisingly frank, drawing on a recent breakup, his new love and fatherhood."

The interview is standard stuff, but he's always interesting. I can't wait to hear the record.

"Smile" DVD Update

There is an article about Brian Wilson in USA Today:

"Smile represents my most advanced and best work," Wilson says as he settles into the sofa of his family room. "If I hadn't finished it, I'd probably be in the dumps. Knowing what I created made me happy, but I wouldn't be so happy if it had bombed. I needed that love. When I die, I hope people remember Smile as a great piece of music."

..."My career is at a high point," he says. "I believe I can continue to record and make music and play onstage. I would like to do a rock 'n' roll album, something with a hard beat and a Phil Spector sound, something that would make people want to dance and groove."

...He has no interest in releasing the original 1967 tapes. "Never," he says. "Those are gone forever. I don't want those made public because they bring up bad memories. I don't think about the old days anymore. I never do." The new Smile "is much better," he says. "The voices are sweeter. The band is superior to the Beach Boys. They sing better than the Beach Boys. And they're more dedicated to me. For that reason, I love my band more than I ever did the Beach Boys. It's the most compatible band I've ever had. They like me, and they want to play good for me. They want to be my backup band. Brian Wilson is a famous person, and they get off on that."
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Nothing like a bunch of people kissing your ass to inspire you creatively.

"Pop: The Director's Cut"

According to nme.com, U2 is considering redoing "Pop":

Bono claims that the record was released in an unfinished and unsatisfactory state due to touring commitments. "There is still talk about the band going back in and fixing ‘Pop’, actually going in because the bones of a great album are there," he said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. "It didn't communicate the way it was intended to. It became a niche record. That's not what it was intended to be. If we'd just had another month, we could have finished it." He continued: "We did a really bad thing. We let the manager book the tour, known in this camp as the worst decision U2 ever made, and we had to wrap up the album sooner than we wanted. There were great ideas on that album... we didn't have the discipline to screw the thing down."
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I can't imagine this really happening. Besides, I think it's a pretty good record. People talk about its being an attempt to latch on to electronica or whatever, but there are only minimal elements of that. I don't like all the songs, but the good ones are great.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Neil Diamond and Rick Rubin Update

There's a great article in the New York Times about Neil Diamond's collaboration with Rick Rubin. Here's some of it:

Mr. Diamond said that they never talked about being New Yorkers in Los Angeles. "If anything, Rick is further out than L.A.," Mr. Diamond said. "He's into the Far East or something. His head is - it's not here. I can assure you it's not in L.A. He's evolved. He's gone - whew - somewhere else, and it's wonderful. I'd love some of it to rub off on me."

Instead, they talked about music, Mr. Rubin said. Mr. Diamond played Mr. Rubin some old recordings by Jerry Lee Lewis and the Beatles. Mr. Rubin played old records by Mr. Diamond, including some Mr. Diamond had not heard in decades. They continued to meet for months, listening to music and discussing why they liked it, before getting down to work in January.

"We listened back to what made those old records great," Mr. Rubin said. "He got to hear things in a new way. With an artist that tours as much as Neil does, the songs kind of take on a new life, much different from the records. I wanted to go back to the feel of a singer-songwriter, not a performer."

Mr. Rubin said he saw nothing odd about his working with Neil Diamond. "There's always been a balance," he said. "When I was producing hip-hop records people told me I couldn't make heavy metal records. I always liked doing different types of music." He added: "I don't think of them as Rick Rubin albums. I think of it as a really great Neil Diamond album or a really great Johnny Cash album. It's really from a fan's point of view. These are people that I love, and trying to get them to be what I imagine they could be. This is the album I want to hear."

In the studio, it was a day for guitar players, and Mr. Diamond and Mr. Rubin were joined by Mike Campbell, who plays in Tom Petty's band, and Smokey Hormel, who has played with Tom Waits and Beck. Mr. Campbell and Mr. Hormel played on Mr. Rubin's recordings with Cash.

To prepare for this album, Mr. Campbell listened to a lot of Mr. Diamond's early songs, and was surprised to discover that many didn't have drums, just hand-claps. "He told us that was because they couldn't afford a drummer," Mr. Campbell said. "When you think about rock 'n' roll, Neil was there when it started, when it was just becoming rock 'n' roll. There's very few cats who have been around that long."

As they worked, the music's spare feel echoed that of the Johnny Cash albums, though Mr. Diamond sounds more pensive than existentially haunted.
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Sounds good to me. I love Mike Campbell.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Madness: One More Step Beyond

According to billboard.com, Madness is back:

"Esteemed U.K. ska act Madness has signed with V2, which is eyeing a July 19 North American release for an as-yet-untitled new album from the original lineup of the group. Although details are scant at deadline, the set is tipped to consist of ska, punk and reggae covers the band performed last summer when it toured as the Dangermen. However, since the sessions began, original member Chris Foreman has exited Madness, citing 'the petty, time consuming bollocks that goes on in the band' in a statement announcing his departure."

Too bad about Foreman, but I'm glad that Madness is back around. One of my favoriet moments in "The Young Ones" is when the boys go to a pub where Madness is playing. Rik goes up to Suggs and asks him if he knows "Summer Holiday" by Cliff Richard. Suggs responds, "Hum it, and I'll smash your face in."

Chinese Democracy by Christmas?

According to soundgenerator.com, a GNR record might actually be released:

"It has been more than seven years in the making, but the musical equivalent of The Lost City Of Atlantis - Guns 'N' Roses 'new' album 'Chinese Democracy' - will be out by Christmas, according to London radio station XFM. A number of tracks from the album, including 'Madagascar' and the title track, have been played at GNR's extremely rare live appearances - including their last show in Britain, at London's Docklands Arena in August 2002. But the much-rumoured, long awaited studio album has failed to make an appearance thus far. That may be about to change. An unnamed employee at Universal Music Group has been quoted as saying 'Chinese Democracy will be out by Christmas. I am quite certain of that.'"

I feel pretty rat's assish about the whole thing but I like the rumored song titles, especially "Catcher in the Rye." Hope this story isn't a phony.

Michael Stipe's Not Talking

According to nme.com, Michael Stipe doesn't want to talk about R.E.M.'s next album because he doesn't want to mislead people (and sabotage the record):

"He told Irish radio station TodayFM: 'I spoke early before the record was finished when journalists asked me what the record would sound like and I've learned my lesson on that - I'll never allow that anticipation to form into words again. Because I said it was going to be 'chaotic and political and very noisy' and it is, but it's a whisper rather than a shout. I'm not going to talk about it until it's done.'"

He feels that he got people excited about a certain kind of record, so they were disappointed when the band delivered another kind. There's definitely some validity to that, but I think no matter what he says, everyone wants another "Murmur," even though that's impossible. Perhaps one of the reasons R.E.M. has not become Advanced is because they're still worried about disappointing people who expect certain things out of them.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Reznor Gets Cross-Examined Like an Animal

Here's the latest Trent Reznor trial news from Yahoo!:

The Nine Inch Nails ringleader, who has admitted to not caring much about the business end of his alt-rock band, is suing his ex-manager for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty, alleging he was duped out of millions by onetime friend and manager John Malm. Reznor spent the better part of his 40th birthday Tuesday defending his assertion that Malm consciously and summarily ripped off the rocker off. "The last place I wanted to end up was sitting here right now," Reznor said on the witness stand. "This is like a divorce."

Reznor laid out his case Monday in court, saying he didn't realize he was in financial trouble until he requested a financial statement from Malm in 2003, which showed the multiplatinum-selling artist had less than $3.5 million in total assets and $400,00 in cash. (The Grammy winner has sold north of 20 million records worldwide since he debuted with 1989's Pretty Hate Machine.)

But Tuesday, Malm's lawyers hammered Reznor on the witness stand, forcing him to admit under cross that he knew of and signed off on several NIN-affiliated companies--effectively contradicting Reznor's contention that he was totally in the dark regarding the business end of the Nine Inch Nails empire.
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I guess after the suit is over Al Jardine won't be able to tour as Nine Inch Nails anymore.

Jessica and Willie Get Funk-Defied

As you probably remember, Jessica Simpson and Willie Nelson are doing a remake of "These Boots Are Made for Walking." Contactmusic.com has some details:

The track will be for the first single from the soundtrack to new movie THE DUKES OF HAZZARD, in which they both star. The unlikely duo have vowed to perform a "funk-defied" version of the track, with new lyrics written by Simpson - who plays the DUKE brothers' sexy cousin DAISY DUKE.

Soundtrack co-producer JIMMY JAM tells MTV NEWS, "LORETTA LYNN also did a version, so we took elements of both (Lynn and Sinatra's) and funk-defied it a little bit. "And Jessica wrote a whole new set of lyrics that put her in the Daisy Duke character in the movie."
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Sounds great, but I don't know why they want to defy funk.

Jello Biafra v. Wayne Kramer

I got this from MTV:

On June 17, former Dead Kennedys leader Jello Biafra will square off against the MC5's Wayne Kramer in the latest "Iron Chef"-inspired "Iron Composer" contest, the monthly songwriting competition that pits two musicians against each other on the stage of the Experience Music Project's Songwriting Stadium in Seattle. An audience watches as the two race to write a song on the spot; battlers get one instrument, a pencil and paper and a single member of the house band to collaborate with on the impromptu tune. Oh, and each composer must down a shot of booze during each of the five nine-minute segments. One of the judges for the next competition will be actor Dean Haglund (one of the Lone Gunmen from "The X-Files"). Among the previous competitors are members of Harvey Danger, the Presidents of the United States of America, the Fastbacks and the Supersuckers.
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I had this idea a year ago! Except there each week a new artist would have to compete with a house band. Weird Al and his band would have been perfect.

U2 Review

There is a review in the New York Times of the U2 show in New Jersey. I haven't read it because I'm going to be doing my own review for spin.com (I'll let you know when that appears), and I don't want to get influenced. The Advanced world is slow this morning, but hopefully it will pick up soon. For now, I'd like to remind you what Joe Piscopo once said of New Jersey in his spoof of "Miami Vice" (called "New Jersey Vice," I believe): "You know what they about New Jersey. It's not the heat, it's the humidity."

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Lofty Talk About Lou Reed

There is a paper called "Position Lou Reed from a Profeminist Perspective" here. A sample:

"I would like to put forward the argument that both the maleness of his visual style and his rock music are connected to this political and moral awareness and to the increasingly "artistic" (poetic) content of Lou Reed's lyrics the last 20 or so years. I will also argue that alongside with this Lou Reed has used the historical and marginal "Lou Reed" to legitimise his speech and to overcome the problematic position of a white male commentary on social and political issues."

Here's another:

"Lou Reed wants to create pure rock that carries within it an authentic honesty, a raw throat grabbing energy but at the same time this appears to be something that clearly needs to be sought for. Capturing this energy in recording demands time and careful deliberation and is nothing to be half-hearted about. This is a good example of the contradictory relation between rock's authentic male "energy" and the technology of music production and recording. By trying to "capture as much as possible of the magic" and by trying to get "as close as possible to that perfect moment" rock's ideology of realness becomes very clear. The recording itself can only possibly reflect something true and real; the raw energy of the live gig. This is a way of thinking of realness that clearly distinguishes rock from, for example, Techno or other dance genres where the difference between recording and live playing is not as clearly delineated."

So there.

Coldplay: It's a Profit Deal!

According to Reuters, Chris Martin doesn't like EMI shareholders:

British rock band Coldplay played Manhattan on Tuesday to promote their highly anticipated new album and said they are uncomfortable that they sell so many albums they can move a major corporation's stock price. EMI Group Plc, the world's third-largest music company and owner of Coldplay's label Capitol, warned in February that profits would be lower because the band took longer than expected to finish their first studio album in three years.

But lead singer and charismatic frontman Chris Martin said in an interview, "I don't really care about EMI. I'm not really concerned about that. I think shareholders are the great evil of this modern world," Martin told Reuters before a concert at Manhattan's Beacon Theatre.

...Martin said the album was delayed because their first eight months of recording sessions produced songs that lacked the "spark" of such earlier hits as "Yellow," "Clocks" and "The Scientist." "It's very strange for us that we spent 18 months in the studio just trying to make songs that make us feel a certain way and then suddenly become part of this corporate machine," Martin said backstage.

...On Monday, the band recorded an episode of VH1's "Storyteller" show and told the audience there, "Deadlines mean nothing to us. We'll sink the whole company (EMI) if we have to," Billboard reported.
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It really bothers me when a band signs to a huge label, gets very successful in part because of that label, then complains that the label expects them to make hits. It would be one thing if Coldplay were tricked into the arrangement, but they knew exactly what they were getting into when they signed to EMI (unless they've never heard of the Sex Pistols). I'm sure there were plenty of small labels with no shareholders that would have loved to sign Coldplay, and they would have given them total artistic freedom. But you don't marry Gwyneth Paltrow if you're signed to Minty Fresh.

You Say That Like It's a Bad Thing

Highlights from the Scotsman's review of Lou Reed's spoken-word performance:

"..the prelude to Reed’s performance at the forthcoming Burns Festival was nothing short of smug, egotistical self-indulgence."

"You had to admire his audacity."

"Soberly dressed, Reed made a gauche, somewhat muted entrance to the Reid Hall. He staggered to the podium, and any acknowledgement of the audience was purely minimal."

"The themes - change, memories, guilt - featured heavily, yet he seemed continually uninterested."

"Curious, but...hardly gripping."

All this adds up to, of course, Advanced.

Powell's Review: "All Yesterdays' Parties"

There is a review of the new book about Velvet Underground at powells.com (why not buy a book while you're there?). Here it is:

Nowadays all the little rock bands in downtown New York want to sound like the Velvet Underground. But way back in 1965, Lou Reed and John Cale and Sterling Morrison were the strange unknowns, sharing an unheated apartment on Ludlow Street next to the unheated apartment of a drummer who wouldn't take money for performing. All Yesterdays' Parties, a collection of writings on the Velvet Underground from their first performances in 1966 until Reed left the group in 1971, gives a sense of the band before they were imitation-worthy legends. There is the first bemused, Andy Warhol-related coverage in the New York Times, which described the Velvets' sound as "a combination of rock 'n' roll and Egyptian belly-dance music." There are the irritated reviews of Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable, which combined the Velvets with Nico, a light show, and the whip dance of Factory regular Gerard Malanga ("most of the audience… was bored—and on the verge of heat prostration"). And, soon enough, there are the worshipful pieces in the counterculture press, most of which agree that the Velvet Underground were smarter, darker, and more musically bold than any of their pop contemporaries.

All Yesterdays' Parties (edited and with an introduction by Clinton Heylin, the author of biographies of Dylan and Van Morrison), can be repetitive, and some of the contemporary coverage has, already, the watered-down sound of hearsay. But taken together, these pieces give a far more spirited (and more geeked out) account of the group than any traditional history could. Plus, they encourage you to imagine how, once upon a time, "Lou Reed, hand on hip, hand waving, head nodding with a little sneer, [made] Jagger look like Val Doonican."
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I don't know why that have to stick it to Val Doonican like that.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Mark Cuban: Give Me Five, Yahoo

Advanced Sports Owner Mark Cuban has some pretty intersting things to say about the RIAA on his website:

As Barry Ritholz smartly pointed out in his blog, the introduction of Yahoo’s Music Unlimited Service sets the new marketvalue for all the music you can download in a month…5 bucks. The RIAA can no longer claim that students who are downloading music are costing them thousands of dollars each. They cant claim much of anything actually. In essence, Yahoo just turned possession of a controlled music substance into a misdemeanor. Payable by a $5 per month fine.

Of course, RIAA staffers wont go quietly into the night. They will continue to scream loud and hard about evils of illegal downloading. The question is, will they move the money they are currently spending on court cases and filing suit, towards promoting the new subscription services that are available. Particularly  Yahoo’s dirt cheap service. Will they have the sense to say…”Ok kid, you are about to get sued, which will mean we both spend money on lawyers, and then we kick your butt in court and you pay a multi=thousand dollar settlement, OR, you can sign up for any of the all you can eat music subscriptions, Rhapsody, Napster or Yahoo Music. Your choice. 5 bucks a month. Or thousands of bucks.

Will the RIAA mitigate circumstances and turn their efforts toward promoting legal downloads, or will they still get their jollies from suing their customers ?

...By offering music so economically, Yahoo has changed how the RIAA should and can spread Piraphobia around the country. It should also change the perspective our politicians have about the subject as well. How can the Attorney General divert resources to save the music biz 5 bucks a pop ? How can bills be proposed that try to save the music industry 5 bucks a month ?

Of course it wont happen in a straight line. There are RIAA jobs and political contributions to protect. And although the Yahoo and other sub services are not perfect, they will get continuously better and support more and more devices and have increasing flexibility. This is the low point for subscription services. Which is a good thing. Its going to get better and better every year. Anyone want to show RIAA lawyers how to use Craigslist ?
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That Mark Cuban is quite a maverick, no?

CBGB Rent Update

According to billboard.com, the owner of CBGB is hoping a summer festival will save the club:

CBGB is hoping to host a 30-date festival of big-name acts this summer in a last-ditch effort to save the legendary punk rock club, founder and owner Hilly Kristal told the handful of journalists and supporters who turned out yesterday (May 16) for the start of a fund-raising push.

Kristal indicated that he would invite Patti Smith, David Byrne and many of the other one-time fringe acts who played the New York landmark on their way to mainstream stardom. "If the Beastie Boys are around, I think they'd play," said Kristal. "Green Day came in one night and just played. Maybe they'd come back. "There might be some people you wouldn't think of playing CBGBs," he added, noting that country star Alan Jackson was a fan of the venue.

The proposed string of shows could be the last hurrah for the club, which soared to fame with the rise of punk in the late 1970s. Kristal said his landlord, the non-profit Bowery Resident's Committee, is seeking to double the rent for the space, a fixture in what was a no-man's-land of flophouses and used-restaurant-equipment outlets before the area began to gentrify in recent years. "They do not want to negotiate," Kristal said. "They want me out."
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Damn those nonprofits! All they care about is money.

Reznor Got Billy Joeled

According to billboard.com, Trent Reznor feels he got duped by his manager:

Reznor testified he trusted Malm [his manager] more than anyone in his life when he agreed to let him handle his finances in the 1980s as the band signed its first record contract. "John was the business guy, and I was the guy working for nothing in the studio," Reznor told jurors. He said the pair created their own production company and managed sales of merchandise but the expenses piled up, draining large portions of the millions of dollars the band earned with its albums and concert tours. He admitted he ignored his finances and sometimes signed documents without reading or understanding them.

Reznor said he began to grow worried about finances when he was told during a meeting with Malm and a lawyer in 2002 that there was "cause for alarm." The following year, he said, he asked Malm to tell him how much money he had. He said he was sent a financial statement that revealed he had at most $3 million in total assets and as little as $400,000 in cash.
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You can send your contributions to the Trent Reznor Relief Fund care of me.

Spoken Lou

There is a review of Lou Reed's spoken-word performance in the Herald. Here's some of it:

Low-slung over a lectern in this 250-seat university hall, Reed appeared positively professorial as he announced his intention to read extracts from his 21st century reworkings of Edgar Allan Poe.

Reed has always had aspirations to be a poetic polymath, ever since his early low-life vignettes forged with The Velvet Underground, and the educational air ran on apace when he deadpanned later that "Burns is a great Scottish writer, so I thought it would be good for you to hear a great American one".

A pair of sleazy Socratic dialogues were delivered bitchily enough to recall William Burroughs, while on Changes and Who Am I, stripped of the album's arrangements and left with only his voice, such is Reed's empathy with the words it was as if he was coming to terms with his own mortality.

Finally, after an hour exactly, Reed closed with the nearest thing we're likely to get to a greatest hits set. His deep voice made the prettified neuroses of Candy Says sound even more heartbreaking than when he first sang it with The Velvets more than 35 years ago.
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I've always thought that he was one of the great poetic polymaths of rock'n'roll.

Monday, May 16, 2005

What Are Words For?

I'm listening to "Do You Want New Wave or Do You Want the Truth," and it occurs to me that in the '80s, punk rockers were very concerned about whether words described the truth or obscured it. Of course, they were using words to describe their search for truth, so I'm not sure I know what they meant.

Inside the Aural Kiosk

Here is something interesting from Yahoo!:

The concept seems great: Place CD-burning kiosks that can manufacture out-of-stock albums in retail stores and offer customized compilations, too. But after numerous false starts, retailers, hardware suppliers and the major labels say a quagmire of issues still threatens to overwhelm the initiative.

Even with the momentum of Starbucks leading the way with Hewlett-Packard kiosks, and despite numerous other hardware suppliers flocking to stake a claim in the market, retailers say that in-store CD manufacturing still has one big problem: an unprofitable business model. Key to the equation are significant hardware costs and stringent content-usage requirements from the majors.

...While all parties agree costs could decline if CD-burning kiosks are mass produced, other expenses still have to be dealt with to achieve a profitable model. As it turns out, each major label is licensing music for kiosks with its own set of strings attached. For example, Universal Music Group wants kiosks to use only special blank CDs sold by General Electric that, depending on who you ask, cost two to five times as much as normal blank CDs. And EMI Music wants the cover art printed on paper to be installed as the front sleeve of the jewelbox. Another major is said to have limitations on when and how much music can be made available for in-store burning.

"Each content company has its own set of rules, which when explained makes sense. But when you put them all together, it's a mess" -- and an expensive one, Mike Dreese says. The CEO of Brighton, Mass.-based Newbury Comics is a member of the CD-burning task force of the National Assn. of Recording Merchandisers.
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So major labels can do just about nothing and make money on out-of-print music and they're going to mess it up somehow? Doesn't it seem like they would all just get together in a room and figure this out before it became a problem. I'm sure there are some complexities to this, but this seems really silly to me.

Poly Styrene: Antichrist Not So Nice

According to contactumusic.com, Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex doesn't care for heresy anymore:

The feisty rocker - who blames her bizarre heritage for her punk leanings - was a leading protagonist of the anarchic music movement, but now she resents some of the offensive anti-religion lyrics of bands like the SEX PISTOLS.

She says, "My great grandfather was chief of British Somaliland and when the British left, all his people were murdered because they'd worked with the British. My father escaped as a stowaway on a navy ship.

"Although I always felt British, I felt spiritually different to everybody else. At first I thought punk was a home, but today I wonder how I could ever have liked (the Sex Pistols') ANARCHY IN THE UK. It says, 'I am the antichrist.'

"Now I think that's not a very nice lyric."
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Plus, he rhymes "antichrist" with "anarchist."

Lou Reed Interview

Peter Ross interviewed Lou Reed for the Sunday Herald. Here are some choice bits (this is kind of long):

"Reed is notoriously difficult; he is to journalists what Cape Horn was to 18th century sailors – a vicious hunk of rock given to unpredictable storms, which draws you with its legend then dashes all your hopes. Even the celebrated rock critic Lester Bangs, who admired Reed so much he wrote he would gladly perform a sex act upon him, was moved to describe his hero as a bibulous bozo, a death dwarf and an emblem of absolute negativism.

Conditions were placed upon our interview, which was eventually scheduled to take place in Denmark. It would not include lunch or dinner with Reed, a man known for his nutritional fads, who according to former Velvet Underground bandmate Sterling Morrison, 'once went on a diet so radical there was no fat showing on his central-nerve chart.' And I was told I must write that he has recently signed a worldwide recording deal with Sanctuary Records. Sanctuary CEO Merck Mercuriadis told me that he intended for the release of Reed’s album in 2006 to feel like a real event. He also said that, 'Lou definitely views journalists as the enemy.'"

"The tour manager, Mike de Lisle, meets me in the lobby. Sorry, but the interview has been put back by 30 minutes, and Lou wants to shave 10 off the end. I’ll have to make my own way to the room. Lou’s Tai Chi instructor Master Ren Guangyi is flying in from New York and needs to be picked up from the airport. 'The exercise is very important to Lou.'"

"He cuts in. 'I can’t emphasise to you enough: I am not. A. Robert Burns. Expert.' Right. I’m not saying you are an expert. But there is something within his work that draws you? 'What do you think is the answer to that question?' I think there must be, otherwise you wouldn’t be playing. 'There you go. You could do both sides now, all by yourself.' He’s acting as if I’m attacking him. I try again –Could you ... – but he interrupts: 'No. I can’t.' You can’t say what you particularly like about his work? 'No, no. I’m not a critic. I don’t do things like that.' I wasn’t asking you to take a critical stance, I say, just give a personal response. He pauses and takes a slug from his water bottle. 'How can anyone not like, "A man’s a man for all of that, for all of that, for all of that"? I mean, he’s a great writer. I don’t know what you want me to say. I could recite clich├ęs to you all afternoon if you want.' He starts to do so, sarcastically. “‘Great rhythm. Terrific choice of words. Really tremendous subject matter. Very, very great empathy with working people.’ Is that okay? Do you think?'"

"Back in the room with Reed, the conversation twists and jerks like a fish on a line. It turns out we had both seen Robert Carlyle playing Hitler on TV the night before, and he can’t stop talking about how great he (Carlyle not Hitler) was. Then he wants to know who else is performing at Burns An’ A’ That (“Billy O’Connolly?”) and which is the better city for taking photographs, Glasgow or Edinburgh. We touch, too, on the recent Channel 4 poll of the 100 greatest albums of all time, which I tell him included Transformer and the first Velvets album. 'That’s all? I shoulda had the first 30.'"

"I tell him that I was 15 the first time I ever heard The Velvet Underground song Heroin and was amazed by the way the sound mirrored the words. Was he aware then that he was doing something new?

'We didn’t know about it being new, but the basic idea was that the music should always match the lyrics. Heroin is a perfect example. So is Venus In Furs and All Tomorrow’s Parties. The same idea runs through every song I’ve ever written.

'But we were having fun. You must understand that we weren’t critics, only players. Players play and they don’t sit around assessing it. At least this one doesn’t. We certainly did enjoy what we were doing and we were very pure. One hundred per cent devoted to music as music without any other considerations. That’s why it was great to be picked up by Warhol, who loved us just the way we were and didn’t try to change anything, except, y’know, give us a chanteuse. I guess he thought we needed someone who was really good looking.'"
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And it goes on like this for some time. It's amazing how many interviews are out there where the interviewer talks about how difficult it is to interview him. I've yet to see one where the writer admits that the questions really were stupid, but almost all say, "I love Lou Reed. Why is he treating me this way?"

Sting Strips

The New York Times tries to figure out what sting is up to:

No keyboards, no horns, no backup singers, no video screens showing rain-forest fantasies. Sting came to Jones Beach Theater here on Friday night with just a four-piece band for the last public show of his Broken Music tour. It was a rejuvenating return to the kind of lean, limber band that Sting hasn't led since the Police, a trio, broke up in 1986.

...Sting promised to play songs he hadn't performed in "many, many years" (not counting previous tour stops). That meant going back to his songs for the Police and the way they turned rock inside out. With Sting on bass as the band's main songwriter, and with ears tuned as much to reggae and jazz as to punk rock, the Police often used the guitar for translucent washes of harmony and texture while bass and drums moved into the foreground.

At Jones Beach, Sting revived Police songs like "Demolition Man" and "Spirits in the Material World" in which bass lines are the true hooks. His band unabashedly reclaimed the Police sound, from the crisp snare-drum snickers and cymbal flurries of Josh Freese (from A Perfect Circle) on drums to the watery effects of Dominic Miller and Shane Fontayne on guitars.

... Through his solo career, determined to keep trying new things, Sting has piled on instruments and exotica, literary flourishes and sometimes strained concepts. Peeling them away for this tour is partly a retreat, an admission that some of his best music was made two decades ago in a fractious band, before he was fully in charge. But it could also be a turning point: a rediscovery of the old artistic axiom that less can be more.
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I saw Sting on David Letterman's show. (That particular show, by the way, was hilarious. I haven't watched it in a really long time, so it was good to see that he is still funny.) The drummer was amazing, but I felt sorry for the guys playing guitar. At least one of them has been playing with Sting a long time and presumably writes some with him, so it must be a real drag playing Police stuff that he had no hand in.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Willie and Jessica

From MTV:

Jessica Simpson is teaming up with her "Dukes of Hazzard" co-star Willie Nelson for her next variety show, "Nick & Jessica's Tour of Duty," airing May 23 at 9 p.m. on ABC. In the couple's third variety special, Nick Lachey and Simpson perform for more than 6,000 service men and women at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, starting by exiting a C-130 aircraft and singing "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A." The concert also includes Simpson and Lachey paying homage to Bob Hope with "Thanks for the Memories," Lachey's duet with Brian McKnight on "Superstition," Nelson's duet with Simpson on "These Boots Were Made for Walkin' " from the "Hazzard" soundtrack," Big & Rich's performance of "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)," and an all-star finale of "America the Beautiful." Nick and Jessica also take a few lessons while they're on the German base, as Nick learns to fly an F-16 fighter jet and Jessica goes to the rifle range before heading to the U.S. Army base in Tikrit, Iraq, to surprise the troops there.
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Sounds truly wonderful. I'm going to Atlanta now, so I probably won't be posting anything until Monday.

Off Topic, Sort Of

Peter O'Toole and Samantha Morton are going to be in the new Lassie movie.

Bob Dylan: How Many Roads Must a Man Walk Down

According to the startribune.com, Hibbing, Minnesota, is honoring its "favorite son":

"The street where music icon Bob Dylan grew up is being given the name "Dylan Drive'' in his honor. It's the first time the city of Hibbing is doing something permanent to honor him. The city had issued a proclamation on May 24, 2001, Dylan's 60th birthday, but that was just a one-day event. The street sign will be permanent. The sign is honorary only, meaning Seventh Avenue will remain the official name of the street, and residents won't have to change their addresses.
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Seems like they could do a little better than an honorary sign. I would have named his street "Positively Seventh Avenue" had they asked me.

"Last Days" at Cannes

According to the globeandmail.com, the new Gus van Sant movie is going to be shown at Cannes:

"Two years ago, U.S. director Gus van Sant, who took the Palme d'Or for his film Elephant, a dramatic reconstruction of the Columbine high school massacre. This year he offers 'Last Days,' obviously, if loosely, based on the last days of suicidal rock star Kurt Cobain. Using long, distant takes, a score that ranges from Lou Reed to the sounds of church bells, the film serves as a kind of simulation of the rock star's alienation fragmented mental state. Experimental, brooding and strange, 'Last Days' is one of those films so out there it can earn either adulation or approbation. Personally, I'm on the fence: I was fascinated by what Van Sant is trying to do, but the experience of the film makes my brain tired."

I don't know about this movie. The idea seems a bit cheap to me, though maybe the execution of the movie will make up for that. It just seems morbid and exploitative. But I guess I can't judge the movie until I see it. Nice that there's Lou Reed music in the movie in any case.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Radio on a First-Name Basis

According to Yahoo!, radio stations would like for people to listen to them:

As more consumers turn a deaf ear to traditional radio, stations increasingly are switching formats. The Internet, iPods, computer games, podcasting, commercial-free satellite radio and staid programming have combined to slice average weekly listening time 9% since 1998, prompting many "terrestrial" commercial stations to jettison even relatively strong formats, such as rock, in several big markets.

[One hot concept is] Jack. Aka Bob, Alice and other first-name monikers, the format focuses on '70s, '80s and '90s hits, sprinkled with current tunes. Target audience: twenty-somethings to baby boomers. A hit in Canada since 2002, Jack could be in 100 U.S. markets this year. Jack is often backed by "throw away your iPod" marketing hype because it employs playlists of 1,200 or more songs - triple most oldies-style music stations and a bit closer to iPod capacity. "Jack's a reaction to stations that are tightly formatted and predictable," Inside Radio editor Tom Taylor says. Baltimore station WSQR jettisoned its 17-year-old oldies format for Jack on May 4. "With Jack, people don't know what to expect, and we hope that's what they'll gravitate to," says programming director Dave LaBrozzi.
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As with the "Bob" station I wrote about, I imageine the "Jack" people think that Jack is an extremely funny name, but they have the right idea about making radio better. I bet that as more and more radio stations switch to the "shuffle" concept--where the listening experience is more like listening to your iPod--people will get nostalgic about stations that play just one format. It's like those times when you get sick of shuffle and just want to listen to an entire album, but it's nice to have both options. The main thing that radio needs is more variety (stations with traditional formats would play more bands in the genre they play), better DJs, and fewer commercials. I know they are working on the first and third things, but good luck with the DJs. [By the way: Did you ever notice that the DJs who are the worst technically--bad voice, dead air, etc.--play the best music?]

"All Yesterdays' Parties"

I once suggested to Britt that we read about Velvet Underground in the library (he still makes fun of me). Well, now I can just go to Amazon and order "All Yesterdays' Parties." Here's a description of the book:

An evocative portrait, in words and pictures, of the Velvet Underground in their day

The Velvet Underground are among the most influential bands of all time. Their trademark sound is easily detected in David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Talking Heads, R.E.M., Jane's Addiction, Yo La Tengo, Luna, and the Strokes, and they are also credited with creating a streetwise, pre-punk sensibility that has become inseparable from the popular image of downtown New York. "Discovered" by Andy Warhol in 1966, the VU-with their original line-up of Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, and Mo Tucker-would soon become the house band of the avant-garde, composing songs simultaneously furious in their abrasiveness and beautiful in their pathos, standing in striking contrast to the prevailing flower power of the era.

With such a notorious pedigree, it's only natural that the story of the VU has become shrouded in myth and hyperbole. All Yesterdays' Parties gathers for the first time almost all of the published writings contemporary with the band's existence-from sources as mainstream as the New York Times to vanished voices of the counterculture like Oz, Open City, Fusion, and Crawdaddy! It's an invaluable snapshot of an era by trailblazing rock writers such as Lester Bangs, Robert Greenfield, Sandy Pearlman, and Paul Williams. With the most complete VU discography assembled to date, a biographical overview by editor and author Clinton Heylin, and photographs, posters, and other visual evocations of the period throughout, All Yesterdays' Parties is an invaluable resource, a trove of lore for anyone interested in the VU, their roots, and legacy.

About the Author
Clinton Heylin is the author of Despite the System: Orson Welles Versus the Hollywood Studios, Can You Feel the Silence?: Van Morrison-A New Biography, Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades, Bootleg!: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Recording Industry, From the Velvets to the Voidoids, and many other indispensable books. He lives in Somerset, England.
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In case you're wondering, yes, I do have a wish list at Amazon!

Meltdown Festival: I Got My Chips Cashed In

According to nme.com, Patti Smith has quite a festival brewing:

"More names have been added to the swelling line-up for PATTI SMITH’s MELTDOWN FESTIVAL. The annual season at London’s South Bank Centre will this year be curated by the punk icon to mark 30 years since the release of her seminal work ‘Horses’. Smith performs the album in full on June 25 at the Royal Festival Hall. Smith’s peers Television play two shows at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on June 20-21. Meanwhile, the punk reunion will also see former Voidods leader Richard Hell, who retired from music in 1984, reading from his new novel ‘Godlike’ on June 18. Elsewhere, Tori Amos and Marianne Faithfull join Smith, Yoko Ono, Beth Orton, Sinead O'Connor and Kristin Hersh on the ‘Songs Of Innocence: Protest Song and Lullabies’ line-up at the Royal Festival Hall on June 18."

I don't really like Patti Smith (though I know I'm supposed to), most likely because she is still so Overt. I do like "Because the Night," which I realize is like saying that I don't like the Grateful Dead except for "Touch of Grey." Actually, my true Dead favorite is "Truckin'."

I Want My Podcast

There is an article about podcasting in the New York Times. Here's some of it:

Podcasts are the natural technological offspring of Web logs or blogs, those endlessly meandering personal Web musings that now seem to be everywhere online. [Don't you hate those? --JH] Similarly, many podcasters have a diaristic bent, ranging from Mr. X, in upstate New York (ifthensoftware.blogspot.com), who has recorded his ruminations while driving to work, to Dan Klass, an underemployed actor in California whose podcast, "The Bitterest Pill" (www.thebitterestpill.com), has been known to feature invectives against Elmo.

There are celebrity podcasts like Paris Hilton's (houseofwaxmovie .warnerbros.com), intended to promote movies. Another, more high-minded site, Catholic Insider (www.catholicinsider.com), links to podcasts of Pope Benedict XVI from Vatican Radio.

Many radio stations are embracing the technology. WGBH in Boston, Q107 in Toronto and BBC Radio are already offering regular podcasts. Tomorrow, Sirius Satellite Radio will begin broadcasting a best-of-podcasting program with the podfather of podcasting, Adam Curry, formerly of MTV, as host.

Taking the experiment a step further, Infinity Broadcasting plans to restart its San Francisco talk station KYCY-AM (1550) with an all-podcasting format beginning Monday. KYCY's broadcasts will feature amateur programs from around the Web, but because of Federal Communications Commission regulations, each will be screened in advance.

Record companies are also beginning to use podcasts to fish for fans. "We think podcasts are a great way to form a relationship with our fans," said Damian Kulash, the lead singer of the rock band OK Go, which has an album coming out this summer on Capitol Records. When the band is on tour, OK Go phones in its podcasts (www.okgo.net).
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It goes on to tell you how to find and listen to podcasts and how to make your own. I really love that Adam Curry got all this started (more or less). I wonder if Jesse is working on any new technologies...

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Whatever Happened to Pong?

According to Reuters, there is a "Taxi Driver" game in the works:

"Majesco Entertainment Co. has acquired a licensing agreement with Sony Pictures Consumer Products to publish ['Taxi Driver'] as a video game. Edison, N.J.-based Majesco said Tuesday that it will publish a video game next year for next-generation consoles to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the film.

...The original movie was nominated for four Academy Awards, including best picture. '"Taxi Driver" remains one of the most iconoclastic films of our time,' Majesco marketing vp Ken Gold said. 'Compelling and powerful, the movie ensnares viewers in the seedy urban world of New York cabbie Travis Bickle, and we hope to do likewise with our game.'"

We are so close to the "My Dinner With Andre" video game, I can almost taste it.

Mike Love: Yes, You've Finally Made a Monkee out of Me

According to rollingstone.com, the Beach Boys are getting their own monument:

Brian Wilson will serenade the crowd at the dedication of a Beach Boys monument in his hometown of Hawthorne, California, on May 20th. He will play a short set on the site of the Wilson family house, where he and his late brothers Carl and Dennis first harmonized together. The location, which received landmark status twenty years after the house was demolished to build a freeway, will be marked with a statue built by one of Dennis Wilson's sons, Scott.

"If you go over to England, they've got everything dedicated to the Beatles," says Scott Wilson, a building contractor. "The Beach Boys brought a lot to California -- the whole image of surfing, the beach and fast cars. Why can't we have something here?"

The twenty-foot monument features a stone image of the band's 1963 Surfer Girl album cover, surrounded by a brick stage with six gold records cast in bronze, and a sign commemorating the site as California Historical Landmark No. 1041. The Wilson family selected the design over several submitted by fans to the Web site beachboyslandmark.org.

...Former Beach Boys members Al Jardine and David Marks will also perform brief sets at the ceremony. But Wilson cousin Mike Love, the only other surviving founding member, declined his invitation.

"I'm going to be making a living," he told Micky Dolenz on the former Monkees' New York morning radio show. The current Beach Boys lineup -- featuring Love as its only original member -- is scheduled to perform in Florida on May 20th.
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I like the idea of Mike Love talking to Micky Dolenz on the radio.

Loving the Allen

I just got this in a news roundup: "Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen has been paying a fortune to Paul McCartney, Bono, Greg Allman and other rock legends to record their tracks for his private music library - so the frustrated rocker can jam with them on his guitar whenever he want." Once again, who says money can't buy friends?

Willie and the Dukes

According to the journalstar.com, Willie Nelson has turned down the opportunity to have a road named after him: "A state legislator had proposed naming a stretch of Texas Highway 130, part of the Central Texas Turnpike Project, in honor of the 72-year-old country music legend. But a lawyer for Nelson said the singer-guitarist 'simply does not feel that the naming of a toll road in his honor comports with his world view on either a personal or an artistic level.'" And yet he will be in "The Dukes of Hazzard." Actually, that makes sense.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Rolling Stones: Search for Satisfaction Continues

According to billboard.com, the Rolling Stones are going back on the road:

As expected, the Rolling Stones today (May 10) announced another mega world tour during a media event at New York's Juilliard School of Music. The Rolling Stones On Stage outing begins Aug. 21 at Fenway Park in Boston, and tickets to many dates go on sale this weekend. As on the 2002-2003 Licks tour, the band will play clubs, theaters, arenas and stadiums, with each sized venue boasting unique production elements and set lists.

Longtime Stones tour promoter Michael Cohl tells Billboard.com the production for the stadium shows will be the biggest and "most interesting" the Stones have ever attempted, including a feature that will allow 400 fans to view the show from the stage. "You'll get a great view of our bums, so we're going to have to work on them a bit," Mick Jagger said with a laugh.

..."We haven't really done the set list for the tour," Jagger said. "I dare say we'll work up some songs that we've never done before. Perhaps we'll dig into the catalog and find some songs we haven't done for awhile." Added guitarist Keith Richards, "Sometimes they choose themselves."

...With the new album on the way, this will be the first time since the Bridges to Babylon tour in 1997-98 that the Stones have toured in support of new material. "We tried to make this album a very direct album," Jagger offered. "It's a simple album with a lot of different ideas as far as lyrics are concerned. We tried to make it very wide-ranging and very hard-hitting, though it's got its sensitive moments." Richards added, "It kicks some ass."

...With the Stones' members now well into their 60s, could this be the final world tour blowout? "We don't really plan tours and we certainly don't announce the tour as the last tour," Jagger said. "That's a trap to try and get people to buy your tickets. We take each tour as it comes."
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I guess Mick Jagger regrets singing "I hope I die before I get old" now!

Jimmy Buffet: The World's Greatest Man

I just got this:

Singer/songwriter/author  Jimmy  Buffett and SIRIUS Satellite Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI)  today  announced  an agreement to present a Radio  Margaritaville  music  channel  exclusively  for SIRIUS subscribers. The  new  24-hour  channel,  featuring  a  wide  variety of music, live broadcasts of Buffett's concerts and other unique  programs, will debut this summer.

"I first listened to SIRIUS' incredible  programming  in  my  car and my boat," said Jimmy Buffett. "We designed Radio  Margaritaville  after the old  pirate  radio  stations  that  sat  offshore  and played  what they wanted. When I saw how SIRIUS is changing the way radio is being  heard, I welcomed  the opportunity  for  Radio  Margaritaville  to join  them."

...Jimmy Buffett launched Radio Margaritaville in 1998 as an  Internet-only channel, which will still be available  at  www.radiomargaritaville.com. Now, for the first time, Jimmy Buffett fans across America can  hear the channel in their cars, on their boats and on the go by  becoming  SIRIUS subscribers.

SIRIUS will also broadcast Radio Margaritaville live on  a regular basis from  a studio  located  at   Buffett's   Margaritaville   restaurant at Universal City Walk in  Orlando,  Florida.  The  channel  is expected to broadcast from its other Margaritaville Cafes and Restaurants  currently located in Key West,  New  Orleans,  Las  Vegas,  Jamaica  and  Cancun.

...Also an author, Jimmy's new novel, A Salty Piece Of Land,  was  released and immediately entered the New  York  Times  Bestseller  List.  The New York Times said it "is very possibly Buffett's best work  to date." With Jimmy's three previous No. 1 bestsellers, he is one of only six  authors in the history of the New York Times  Bestseller  List  to have  reached No. 1 on both their fiction and non-fiction lists.
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If Jimmy Buffet ever gives you advice, I'd take it if I were you.

Willie Nelson: "Countryman"

My computer is back, but I have no time. But here's something from Yahoo!:

On August 2, Lost Highway will release "Countryman," the long-awaited reggae set from Willie Nelson. "Countryman" features 12 tracks, including two excellent covers from Jimmy Cliff's reggae classic "The Harder They Come" (title track and "Sitting In Limbo"). "Countryman" also includes the Johnny Cash/June Carter Cash penned "I'm A Worried Man," which is given a reggae sunsplash by Nelson and Toots Hibbert, of the legendary Toots and the Maytals.

"Countryman" also includes nine songs written by the Red Headed Stranger, including reggae-styled versions of "Darkness On The face Of The Earth," "One In A Row," "I've Just Destroyed The World" and "I'll Still Be Thinking of You."

The history behind "Countryman" dates back to 1995, when Nelson, his manager Mark Rothbaum and producer Don Was traveled to Jamaica for a meeting with Island Records founder Chris Blackwell to discuss a reggae-infused country album. Blackwell loved the idea, but made the deal based on hearing another project Willie had given him, which would become Nelson's acclaimed album "Spirit." "Spirit" was released in 1996, while Blackwell gave the okay to begin recording the reggae set. This was the official beginning of Nelson's relationship with Island Records.

Over the next two years, the music that would become "Countryman" was being recorded, Universal bought Polygram, which owned Island. Shortly after, Blackwell parted ways with the company, and the project no longer had its champion. Was and Nelson finished recording the basic tracks and the music was shelved unfinished.

Fast forward to 2001, Island merged with Def Jam, Nelson moved over to the newly formed Lost Highway, where label founder Luke Lewis and Nelson discussed the reggae project. In 2004, Lost Highway VP of A & R Kim Buie hired producer Richard Feldman (who produced Toots & The Maytals Grammy-winning CD "True Love") to finally mix the album and add some production. And now, at long last, Willie Nelson's "Countryman" will see the light of day on August 2.
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No "Blue I and I's in the Rain"?

Technical Difficulties

I'm having some problems with my Internet connection, so I might not be able to post for a while.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Macca Hits the Skins

According to rollingstone.com, Paul McCartney has lots of stuff going on, including taking a large share of your entertainment dollars:

"The concert business fell into a malaise last summer, and even Madonna and Prince couldn't bail it out. Can McCartney's fall arena tour of the U.S., which begins on September 16th, help reverse the trend? Some wonder if too many expensive superstar tours -- McCartney charges up to $250 per ticket, the Rolling Stones are expected to be comparable and U2 are close -- could spread fans' entertainment budgets too thin. 'There's only so much money,' says Dennis Arfa, agent for Metallica and others. 'Those who get on sale later, they're going to be hurt by the money that's not available.'

...McCartney plans to release an album to coincide with the tour. He reportedly intended to bring a band into the studio, but instead, his new producer, longtime Radiohead collaborator Nigel Godrich, suggested he make it alone. So McCartney played most of the instruments, including fluegelhorn and drums, which he played sporadically in the Seventies while fronting Wings."

I love it when Paul plays the drums, though I don't like it so much when he plays the fluegelhorn.

Brian Wilson: Christmas Is Special

According to rollingstone.com, Brian Wilson is making a Christmas album:

"The former Beach Boy will release What I Really Want for Christmas, his first holiday-themed solo album, on October 18th.
'Christmas has always been a special time for me and my family,' Wilson says. 'And this year will be even more special because I'll have a new album of songs to celebrate the holiday season. I hope the music means as much to other people as it does to me.'

The title track features lyrics by longtime Elton John collaborator Bernie Taupin, while Jimmy Webb ('Wichita Lineman,' 'Up-Up and Away') penned the words to 'Christmasey.' Wilson, who produced and arranged the album, revisits 'Little Saint Nick' and 'The Man With All the Toys,' two chestnuts from 1964's The Beach Boys' Christmas Album, and tackles standards like 'Auld Lang Syne,' 'Deck the Halls' and 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.'"

There are lots of elements of Advancement here: collaboration with Jimmy Webb, "revisiting" songs that people would prefer to be left alone, and doing overdone standards. However, I don't think Brian Wilson is Advanced exactly. The issue is clouded by his drug use and mental illness. Perhaps he was so Advanced his mind couldn't take it. In any case, I'm glad he's made something of a recovery.

Lou Reed: If It's Not Scottish...

According to the Sunday Herald, Lou Reed is going to do a spoken-word performance in Scotland:

Rock legend Lou Reed will stage his first spoken-word concert in Europe in front of an audience of just 200 in Edinburgh later this month. The event is being staged by Regular Music and the Sunday Herald at Edinburgh University’s Reid Hall on Monday, May 16.

Reed...suggested the concert to tie in with his performance at the Burns Festival in Ayrshire on May 20. “Reed’s agent called me and said he had some time off and wanted to do a different kind of show before the Burns Festival, a totally unique evening of spoken word,” said Mark Mac kie, director of Regular Music.

“I knew exactly what he meant, and Reid Hall immediately sprang to my mind as the perfect venue. It’s a fantastic place for this type of event – small, intimate, with wonderful architecture. It has just the right feel about it. He’ll have a great night.”

...Reed told the Sunday Herald: “The Robert Burns Festival is singing, so we are going to go to this other place which only holds 200 people and do a reading for an hour. In Edinburgh I am going to be reading from my own book of lyrics. We thought it would be fun to do.”

He added that he wouldn’t be adding any of Burns’s work to his repertoire for his Scottish visit. “I wouldn’t want to do the famous Robert Burns in Scotland without a Scottish accent. That’s unthinkable,” he said.
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I'd really like to hear his version of a Scottish accent for some reason.

Friday, May 06, 2005

John Lennon's May Days

I'm leaving you with a long post because I'm going out of town in a few minutes. It is from an interview with May Pang, John Lennon's secretary and girlfriend (during the "lost weekend"). It's from the Belfast Telegraph:

Pang is visiting the UK to prepare for a launch of her feng shui jewellery - small pieces of stainless steel, worn as pendants, displaying Chinese symbols and her signature. "I grew up with feng shui," says Pang, "but I never saw any jewellery that would give me the energy I needed and also looked good. The one I'm wearing says 'happiness' and the others are for harmony, infinity and enlightenment. Isaac Hayes wears one, and so do Nile Rodgers from Chic and Phoebe Snow."

"I was born to Chinese immigrant parents, who came from Taiyuan," she says. "My father arrived in America first and sent for my mother. My parents worked in a laundry in Harlem. I have a brother and sister, but I was the only one born in America."

...In 1973, John and Yoko acquired the lease of an apartment in the Dakota building, where they could also house their staff, including Pang. But Lennon was in artistic crisis. In 1972, he and Ono had released an agitprop double album, Some Time in New York City. Reviews and sales were abysmal. "Weird and tuneless," was Robert Christgau's verdict in Village Voice. "John was hurt by the reviews and went into hiding," Pang says. "I didn't see him much for some time. He was in the back somewhere and he never went out."

When Ono hired some top New York musicians for her own album, Feeling the Space, John told Pang that he had the urge to work again. "John said he wanted to go into the studio, but he was unsure about it. He said, 'You've got to book it or I'll never do it.' I booked it for two weeks' time and in that fortnight, he wrote the whole of Mind Games."

Mind Games was successful and Lennon was back on track, but his relationship with the manipulative Ono was crumbling. Pang gives her version of events: "Yoko came to me at 9.30 in the morning - I hadn't even had my first cup of coffee - and said, 'May, I've got to talk to you. John and I are not getting along,' which I knew because the tension was thick. She said, 'He's going to start going out with other people.'

"She said, 'I know you don't have a boyfriend and I know you are not after John, but you need a boyfriend and you would be good for him.' I said I didn't think so, but she said, 'You don't want him to go out with somebody who is going to be nasty to him, do you?' I said, 'Of course not,' and she said, 'You will be perfect,' and walked out."

Lennon and Pang moved to Los Angeles. Pang says it wasn't the drink-and-drugs-fest many believe. "John wasn't into many drugs, although he would have coke if he was offered it. There was a lot of drink, but that was down to Harry Nilsson. There were nights where we ran into problems. We got thrown out of the Troubadour, and something else happened, and the press kept bringing it up. It was Harry who started the trouble, but it made better copy when you read it was John. In fact, he was telling Harry to stop."

Lennon decided to record an album of rock'n'roll favourites, but made the mistake of telling the producer Phil Spector he could have full control. "I will never forget that first night," says Pang. "I remember counting a lot of musicians. There were 27 there - some brilliant ones, like Barry Mann, Leon Russell, Hal Blaine and Jim Keltner."


...The album, to be called Rock'n'Roll and crediting Pang as "Mother Superior", ground to a halt. "Then Nilsson said, 'I wish you'd produce me,' and John said, 'What a great idea.'"

Nilsson had a remarkable voice, although the drinking had left its mark and he rasped his way through the sessions. Lennon decided to take the tracks to New York and re-record Nilsson's voice there, where at least Nilsson would be separated from his buddies.

Pang recalls: "That album includes 'Many Rivers to Cross', with a great orchestral arrangement in the middle by John. He thought it was too good for the record and said, 'I'm going to write another song and use that.' He had a dream and that led to the lyric, 'No 9 Dream'. I'm whispering 'John' on that record and singing in the background."

"No 9 Dream" was a key track on Lennon's 1974 album Walls and Bridges. Pang recalls: "The first song written for that album was 'Surprise Surprise'. It was written on the first night John and I had been intimate with each other. The next morning he said, 'I want you to hear something, I wrote this for you,' and he sat there with an acoustic guitar and just played it for me. It was lovely."

Lennon and Paul McCartney had been sounding-boards for each other's ideas, and Lennon missed that. Pang says: "He was always saying, 'I wonder what Paul is doing.' When John and I were together, and this is about a week or two before our relationship ended, I remember him saying, 'Do you think I should write with Paul again?' I said, 'Absolutely. You should because you want to. The two of you as solo performers are good, but together you can't be beaten. We thought of going to New Orleans to see Paul and Linda, who were making Venus and Mars there."

But Lennon did collaborate with David Bowie, and in an unexpected way. "John had heard a disco hit he liked - 'Shame Shame Shame' by Shirley and Company - and he couldn't get the riff out of his head. We were visiting Bowie when he was recording [Lennon's song] 'Across the Universe' and John was talking to the guitarist Carlos Alomar about the riff. They went into the lounge area of the studio and were fooling around with it. Bowie walked in and said, 'What are you guys doing?'

"He felt left out. He said, 'Do you have any words for it yet?' John said, 'No.' He went off and 20 minutes later, he came back with 'Fame' and it turned out to be a wonderful record."
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I'll be back on Monday.

"Lennon" Update

From rollingstone.com:

The producers of "Lennon" are reworking the musical before it hits Broadway.... "We're retooling the first act to make the storyline more linear," says director-writer Don Scardino. "The goal is to clarify it so that people who don't know the story can connect with it . . . I was surprised to learn that a lot of people aren't familiar with John's story."

The show features two previously unreleased Lennon songs, "India India" and "I Don't Want to Lose You," but none of Lennon's Beatles material. "It was my idea that if we were going to do Lennon's story, it should be told singularly," says Scardino, a longtime Beatles fan who was at the gate when the group touched down at New York's J.F.K. airport in 1964. "To quote John, 'The Beatles were an important part of my life, no more so than any other and possibly less than some.' The Beatles catalog is well covered, and I felt the Lennon songs told the story better."
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So you make a musical about John Lennon but leave out the stuff he did for the Beatles but include songs people don't know. Good plan!

Neil Diamond on the Today Show

One of the TVs at my gym was playing the "Today" show, which featured Neil Diamond. Though I couldn't hear the song, I was pleased to see that his band consisted of two drummers, two keyboard players, two guitarists, four guys on horns and a few backup singers. Also, I noticed in the closed captioning that the song was about "freedom."

Thursday, May 05, 2005

New Eno

According to billboard.com, Brian Eno has a new album coming soon:

Legendary artist/producer Brian Eno will release what is described as his first "solo song-based work in decades" this summer. "Another Day on Earth" will arrive June 14 as the first release on the revived Hannibal imprint via Rykodisc.

Here is the track list for "Another Day on Earth":

"This"
"And Then So Clear"
"A Long Way Down"
"Going Unconscious"
"Caught Between"
"Passing Over"
"How Many Worlds"
"Bottomliners"
"Just Another Day"
"Under"
"Bone Bomb"
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I love the title of that last song. I really can't wait for this record to come out.

Sting Is Driving Me Crazy

According to rollingstone.com, Sting is considering being good again:

On April Fools' Day, Sting walked onstage at San Jose State University's Event Center in California and kicked off his Broken Music Tour by performing the Police classic "Message in a Bottle." In the next eighty minutes, he and his stripped-down backing trio shocked the crowd by dusting off eleven Police songs, including deep cuts like "Demolition Man" and "Invisible Sun," which Sting hasn't performed since he was in the band.

...Regarding his decision to play campuses, he adds, "I thought it was an interesting idea, to play to general-admission houses and a younger demographic. It's been exciting -- it's brought out a side of me that's been buried for a while."

...In addition to the Police songs, the band throws in a cover of the Beatles classic "A Day in the Life." "People think that the Beatles broke up after that song because they couldn't play it live," he says. "So we get a lot of satisfaction showing that they could have, if they'd tried." Is he surprised about the rave reviews on this tour? "No," he says, laughing. "I think they're right."
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As many of you know, I can't quite figure out whether Sting is Advanced. I thought that perhaps he was always boring but happened to be in a band that made him look good. I thought that his departure into smooth jazz showed that he didn't believe in rock'n'roll, which is a prerequisite for my kind of Advancement. But now I'm thinking that maybe he's Advanced after all. Playing "A Day in the Life" to show that it can be played live sounds pretty Advanced to me, and it sounds like he is committing himself to rock again. What we might be seeing is his development into being a Second Stage Advanced Weirdo, where someone who has become Advanced suddenly becomes good (in the traditional sense) again. Most Advanced artists go through this phase. I have to say that if Sting is Advanced, and I'm not totally convinced that he is, he was very Advanced because the music he has been making the last fifteen years or so is painful. But is it painfully Advanced? I guess I'm going to have to listen to it all again to see.

Substandard

According to Yahoo!, Carly Simon is set to release a collection of standards. The album features "interpretations of such standards as 'I've Got You Under My Skin,' 'In the Still of the Night,' 'How Long Has This Been Going On,' 'Moonglow,' 'Where or When' and 'I Only Have Eyes for You,' among others." I'm working on a collection of standards myself. It will be called "Perfecting the Classics." Basically, I will try to correct the mistakes made by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Judy Garland and people like that.

You Don't Have to Be a Genius

Well, some guy at the Cornell Sun thinks he has it all figured out:

Are the Velvets worthy of the almost unfathomable amount of hype they receive? Who knows, but it is undeniable that they are both directly and indirectly responsible for a lifetime's worth of good music across a multitude of genres. You could probably make a CD-R box set of bands whose entire existence can be traced back to the song "Pale Blue Eyes" alone (not that anyone would ever want to).

Still, I often worry that I like the Velvet Underground solely because of those that they've inspired, or just because I should -- two very stupid reasons to listen to anything. The first time I heard The Velvet Underground & Nico, the thirteenth greatest album of all time, I was thoroughly underwhelmed. I've since come around, and I don't question its importance, but part of me continues to wonder if it's praised as highly as it is merely because of its famous followers rather than its actual content.

However, I have no trouble recognizing the free-minded and free-fingered greatness of White Light/White Heat, the band's second album and their final one with John Cale. Its November 1967 release gladly transported whatever aimlessly idealistic hippies who'd heard it from the Summer of Love into a jarring and frigid winter from the colorful illusions provided by LSD to the dark reality of life on heroin. The album crescendos toward its epic finale, "Sister Ray," the 17-minute calculated improvisation that scores points for being one of the only songs classified as avant-garde that you can sing along to (or vice versa). "Sister Ray" captures the Velvets at their wildest and at their moment of greatest cohesion in the studio.

Whenever I hear an all-time superlative bestowed upon the Velvet Underground, I still scoff, but at least the argument for them goes beyond somebody attempting to sound cool. That their influence is as easily identifiable as it is massive lends their supporters instant credibility; they aren't forced to venture into hyperbolic Lou-Reed's-a-genius territory. Ultimately, this benefits everyone, because let's face it, songwriters are no geniuses.
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This guy has a lot to learn!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Wheel in the Sky Keeps on Touring

According to billboard.com, Journey is going on tour to support their 13th album, "Generations":

"We'll play songs from the very first record and everything else from there on out, including music from the new album," guitarist Neal Schon says of the group's planned three-hour show. "We're going to be taking fans through a time trip here."

Taking a page out from Prince's 2004 Musicology tour, Journey will include a copy of "Generations" with each ticket purchased at most shows on its North American tour. A traditional retail release of the album will follow once the trek is complete. Although the band has spent its entire career on Columbia, it is unknown what label will issue the new set.

"Generations" was recorded earlier this spring by the band's current lineup, which is completed by bassist Ross Valory, keyboardist Jonathan Cain, singer Steve Augeri and drummer Deen Castronovo. Augeri has been in the fold since 2001, taking over the frontman role from Steve Perry, who led the band during its most commercially successful years in the late 1970s and 1980s.
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I love how journalists have to find another way of saying "The real singer isn't in the band so this is basically karaoke." Even I can't understand why someone would want to see Journey without Steve Perry. And yet, I fully support Queen's touring with Paul Rodgers fronting them. Though at least he has a history of his own. And yet, I didn't support Sammy Hagar's joining Van Halen. Things sure get complicated when bands stick around after original members leave.