Thursday, August 31, 2006

Britt Weighs In on Steve Miller

The Theory's cofounder, Britt Bergman, wrote in to say:

"watch the vh1 history of steve miller-that guy is meticulous in his reworkings of 2-3 chord songs, but they are decorated perfectly. everyone wants to hear the five claps in 'rockin' me,' the sound after 'gangster of love', etc. His production is genius including the chimiest and clearest sounding guitars in modern rock music. He also has the best band name next to foreigner, in my book. advanced? he basically invented stadium rock-watch the show. and remember, he named his band 'the steve miller band'-final product.

p.s. want to see something advanced-check out the album art on his first few albums.

p.p.s. genius lyrics:'shot a man while robbing his castle'"

So that's what Britt has to say.

Doree Shafrir Should Write for the Village Voice

From the "Sticking Up for Friends of Advancement as if They Needed It Department ": I just read Doree Shafrir's incredibly snarky and witless piece about Chuck Klosterman. Shafrir is apparently not aware of the saying about judging and book covers. So for that and many other reasons, let's hope Carrie, I mean Doree, won't ever have to worry about what to put on the cover of the book version of this fascinating article about her dog's ever-changing name.

Beatles Sue EMI/Captiol, Spiral Frog a Bit Croaky, Dinosaur Jr. Get Ripped Off, Brian MaySpace, Village Voice Is the Home of Bad Writing

  • The Beatles and their families are suing EMI and Capitol Records for using "fraudulent schemes" to steal millions of dollars. If they win, they should give that money to bands who have been screwed by the record companies to sue them.
  • Spiral Frog's "free" downloads come with some strings attached and very annoying strings they are: "when consumers download the track, they'll be subjected to a 90 second audio advertisement embedded at the beginning of each track. That's 90 seconds of advertising for every song downloaded. And the downloads will only be available to the listener for six months, where upon the song will be erased from their libraries...." Sigh.
  • Dinosaur Jr.'s gear has been stolen on tour. Guys, you're supposed to back the van up against the wall of your hotel! You'd think they'd know that by now.
  • If you impersonate Queen's Brian May on MySpace, prepare to get your ass kicked.
  • The writing in the Village Voice is so bad that I might just have to start embracing it.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Watch Scarlett Johansson in Bob Dylan's "When the Deal Goes Down"

You can watch the video for "When the Deal Goes Down" starring Woody Allen's girlfriend Scarlett Johansson, directed by Capote director Bennett Miller at AOL Music. And you can also listen to the new record for free. (I've heard a little of it now, and I think he must have been listening to Leon Redbone before he made this record, which is just fine with me.)

Beating Yars' Revenge for the Atari 2600

Nothing much is going on out there, so I thought I'd give you this instructional video that shows you how to master Yars' Revenge. I chose to play this game instead of practicing the clarinet. I regret nothing.

Bob Dylan Goes Home

Columbia, South Carolina, is the birthplace of the Advanced Theory. Apparently Bob Dylan knows this because he made his pilgrimage there a couple of weeks ago. Actually, he went there to shoot this commercial for his new record, but I'll bet he was spiritually refreshed after talking to Steve Spurrier and having a Rush's milkshake.

Meanwhile, Jody Rose at Slate says that Modern Times is "a better album than Time Out of Mind and even than the majestic Love and Theft, which by my lights makes it Dylan's finest since Blood on the Tracks." Take that, you Advanced Theory nonbelievers!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Lou Reed to Perform "Berlin" in December!

Amazing news from the Gothamist:

"This December Lou Reed will do a four night run at St. Ann's Warehouse, performing his 1973 album, Berlin. Though it quickly became a cult favorite upon it's release, this is the first time the record has ever been performed live."

The press release says this is "a theatrically realized concert version of Reed’s stylized rock paean to life outside the circle, the orchestrations filled with the lyrics of the broken hearted and willfully disabled...the drifting tormented addicts of love formalizing their own downfalls in the outskirts of the divided city."

We have a lot of fun around here with some of Lou Reed's more puzzling decisions, but I am extremely excited about this concert because Berlin is such an amazing record, with or without the Advanced Theory to help it along. For a fan of his, this is almost too good to be true. And yet my credit card bill will show that it indeed going to happen.

Warner's Golden Broom, Dylan Headlines Not A-Changing, Astoria in Trouble, XTC Box Set, PETA Not Happy With Beyonce

Monday, August 28, 2006

Advanced Wiki and Brian Wilson Talks About the Advanced Theory

The Advanced Theory has arrived on Wikipedia, courtesy of one of the senior members of the Advancement Foundation. And speaking of members of the foundation, Advancement popularizer Chuck Klosterman thinks he has found the first mention of Advancement. It came from Brian Wilson, talking about "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times":

"It's about a guy who was crying out because he thought he was too advanced, and that he'd eventually have to leave people behind. All my friends thought I was crazy to do Pet Sounds."

It's worth noting that Wilson has also said that he regrets not being a part of "Kokomo."

Steve Miller: Rhymes With "Depantsed"

I promise that this will be my last Steve Miller post, but I just have to share a few things with you. First of all, the inestimable "SD" gives us this little nugget:

"Steve Miller is definitely advanced. In the late 70's (think 'Fly Like an Eagle') he declared the guitar 'dead' and said the synthesizer was the future. I distinctly remember reading an article in Creem where Ted 'The Nuge' Nugent took almost violent exception to this notion. It is also worth noting that Mr. Miller quickly returned to making blues-based guitar rock records."

Advanced, indeed. Second, I'd like to point out that in "The Joker" he employs my favorite lyrical technique (rhyming a word with itself) twice:

"Some people call me the space cowboy, yeah
Some call me the gangster of love
Some people call me Maurice
Cause I speak of the pompatus of love"

"Lovey-dovey, lovey-dovey, lovey-dovey all the time
Ooo-eee baby, Ill sure show you a good time"

Finally, he rhymes "wrong" with "home." It doesn't get any more awesome than that. Ever since I first wrote about the pompatus of love, I have not been able to get "The Joker" out of my head. I love the song, but it's time to move on.

P.S. In "Abracadabra," he rhymes the title word with "grab ya."

A Good Question About the Eagles

Nora Poling-Bergman (wife of Advanced Theory cofounder Britt Bergman) has a question for the Eagles: Do they want her to take it easy or to take it to the limit? Perhaps the Eagles' indecision as to where one should take it was the source of their breakup.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Bob Dylan on "Dharma and Greg"

Part One

Part Two

I don't think I need to explain why this is Advanced.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Were the Hampton Grease Band Strenturgent?

I might have told you all about his before, but since people seemed to enjoy the post about the pompatus of love, I thought we'd revisit another legendary made-up word, "strenturgent," which was invented by the Hampton Grease Band. But let's let them tell the story:

"When Music to Eat was released in 1971, it received very little support from the label. Columbia felt they had already put out the money for promotion to Walden, but he didn't seem interested in putting any of the money he'd made on the band into promoting the record. Both Columbia and the band felt cheated.

Complicating things further, the sales people at Columbia didn't know what to make of the record. They frequently marketed it to stores as a comedy album, where it was filed alongside Don Rickles and Bill Cosby.

In a desperate attempt to try to straighten things out, our manager, Frank Hughes, began to hold frequent meetings with the band. Before the meetings, the band would make up a catch word, like 'strenturgent.' We'd use the word throughout the meeting, to see if we could get Frank to start using it. We'd continually complain of Columbia's 'strenturgent' treatment of the group and by the end of the meeting Frank would be saying, 'I don't think Columbia is treating the group strenturgently.'"

I really enjoy that one, mostly because it's such a rare thing for a band to treat their label badly rather than the other way around. (Also, I imagine Frank Hughes looking like Paul Shaffer in Spinal Tap). I wonder if Kevin Shields ever accused his label of being strenturgent.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Jimmy Page at Age 14: Momma Don't Allow No Skiffle!

The drummer steals the show.

Bob Dylan on Google Video

Google Video has some Bob Dylan (pre- and post-atrocious era) stuff for you to enjoy as you consider buying his new record, including:
  • Johnny Cash Show "On his 1968 Nashville Skyline album, Dylan was one of the first rock artists to go country, shown here on the Johnny Cash Show."
  • Isis "One of Dylan’s most extreme performances live from the 1975 Rolling Thunder Review." [This rocks quite hard, I have to say. --JH]
  • Political World "From Dylan’s 1989 Oh Mercy, with the video is directed by John Mellencamp."

It's pretty Advanced when you're Bob Dylan and you get John Mellencamp to direct your video.

Megadeth's Role on Security Council Imperiled by Mustaine's Candid Assessment of U.N.

According to CNN, Megadeth's Dave Mustaine is no fan of the United Nations:

"I was watching TV and saw the trucks that said 'UN' on them and said, 'Man, you are so uncool, ineffective, anything," the singer/guitarist said in a recent Billboard interview. "I thought, 'Wow, I've got to run with this. I got it -- United Abominations, 'cause it's an abomination what they're doing!' "

Oh, now I get it.

Is Godfried-Willem Raesm the World's Most Overt Artist?

Nothing is happening today, so I thought I'd send you over to Music Thing for the classic three-part series on one of their heroes, Godfried-Willen Raesm, who I believe is maybe the most Overt artist ever. In fact, he's so Overt that he almost loops back around into being Advanced. Here's a bit why he is their hero and why he is also Overt:
  • He was thrown out of Ghent Royal Conservatory in 1971 for being ‘antimusical’ because of his experiments in electronic music. He is now professor of experimental music composition there.
  • In 1968 he founded the Logos Foundation, which explores new musical interfaces, including “wireless gesture control, microwave radar, acceleration sensors, pyrodetectors, lightsensors, myoelectric devices, brainwaves, EEG and ECG”.
  • He’s created his own computer language for music composition, GMT which he uses to drive an orchestra of robot instruments.
  • He wrote a symphony for bicycles.
  • He has a fantastic beard, smokes a pipe, and is usually nude during performances (unless he's wearing a silver jumpsuit).

Be sure to read the whole series so you get to see the wonderful pictures.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Patti Loveless: Kevin Shields Works With Smith

According to NME, Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine fame is collaborating with Patti Smith. Let's take a look:

"Shields is set to collaborate with Smith on a live recording of Smith's 'The Coral Sea' on September 12 at the South Bank Centre in London.

"The gig will be divided up into two parts. The first half will be a combination of new songs, spoken word pieces and overdubs from Smith plus other musicians.

"Shields will act as musical director, in the second half, for a performance of 'The Coral Sea', Smith's tribute to photographer Robert Mapplethorpe."

Shields is disappointingly Overt (make some records already!), so maybe this will be a step in the right direction. Though not making any more My Bloody Valentine records is Overt, I should add that, if true, it's pretty funny that he got Island to "finance" his band to the tune of 500,000 pounds without having to produce anything.

The Epismetology of Pompatus

We all know that Steve Miller is sometimes called Maurice because he speaks of the pompatus of love, but what does pompatus mean? Wikipedia has the probably made-up answer:

"The word pompatus is used in the lyrics of Steve Miller's 1973 pop-music song "The Joker":

Some people call me the space cowboy.
Yeah! Some call me the gangster of love.
Some people call me Maurice,
'Cause I speak of the pompatus of love.

The words "space cowboy" and "gangster of love" are both references to previous Miller songs. The "pompatus" line is also a reference to an earlier song of his, "Enter Maurice," which was recorded the previous year:

My dearest darling, come closer to Maurice
so I can whisper sweet words of epismetology
in your ear and speak to you of the pompatus of love."

It's possible that he got the word from Vernon Green, too. Apparently the word is talked about at length in the movie The Pompatus of Love, but I didn't see it. So maybe everyone knows all about the history of pompatus, but if I've helped just one person, I've done my job. (By the way, there is a debate raging in the Advanced Community about whether Steve Miller is Advanced. I think he is, but I'm on the fence.)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Advanced Irritant Bob Dylan: No Decent-Sounding Record in 20 Years

Bob Dylan is not very enthusiastic about the quality of modern recordings. In fact, he says it is "atrocious." Let's take a look:

"'I don't know anybody who's made a record that sounds decent in the past 20 years, really,' the 65-year-old rocker said in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine.

"Noting the music industry's complaints that illegal downloading means people are getting their music for free, he said, 'Well, why not? It ain't worth nothing anyway.'

"'You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sound all over them,' he added. 'There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like ... static.'"

It is unusual to hear an Advanced Artist speak this way. Typically, they will tell you that music now is greater than it's ever been and records have never sounded better. Of course, with someone as Advanced as Bob Dylan, it's easy to lose track of what stage of Advancement he is. Perhaps he is disguising himself as a fogy to enhance his Advanced Irritant (an Advanced Artist who makes people mad apparently just to make them mad) status . There's no telling, of course. But I do predict that within a year he will say something that will directly contradict everything he has said here. And that is Advanced.

Flash Gordon's Football Fight

How lucky was it that a quaterback happens to encounter football-shaped objects on an alien planet? By the way, I have to give major credit to the person who posted this on YouTube. His name for the video, "Flash Gordon's Football Fight," is totally brilliant.

Pixies Documentary, Clash Singles Set, Outkast's November Rain, "Pet Sounds" Podcast, Origin of "Discreet Music"

  • The Pixies aren't happy with the way their personal issues are portrayed in a new documentary about them. They hate each other, sure, but not the way the movie shows.
  • The Clash are releasing a box set of all their singles, including original artwork and some rare stuff. I'll tell you what's rare: a good Clash song!
  • Outkast premiered their movie on Monday and are also releasing their new 25-track CD. I'm afraid this is going to be their Use Your Illusion moment. Let's hope I'm wrong.
  • Kingblind has the Pet Sounds Podcast schedule, where the songs are all broken down by somebody. At least that's what I think it is.
  • Here's something I didn't know: It's 1975, Brian Eno has been hit by a taxi and "While recuperating at home in Maida Vale a friend brings over a recording of harp music for him to listen to. Incapacitated and unable to adjust the low volume of the music from his bedside, Eno listens as the harp intertwined with the sound of rain and traffic from outside the window. Eno draws on this experience in the studio to produce Discreet Music. An atmospheric sonic wash that utilises the unstable oscillation of an aging EMS Synthi processed through a tape driven Gibson Echo Delay and bounced between 2 revox A77's." Learn more about Brian Eno at

Monday, August 21, 2006

Ian Gillan: Where There's Smoke There's Fiction

Ian Gillan of Deep Purple has written a novel. Here's the story:

"Gillan, 61, said he had already lined up a publisher for his novel, which is a political thriller titled Wessex. 'This is my one and only novel. This really is a labor of love. It's the only idea I have ever had for a book which has inspired me to write it,' Gillan told Reuters in an interview on Monday while on a solo tour on North America called 'Smoke This!'"

I wonder if it's hard to be taken seriously as a novelist while on a tour called "Smoke This!"

The War on Guitar-Tab Sites

I'm not a believer in illegal downloads, but I think that going after guitar-tab sites is a little ridiculous. The New York Times has the story:

"In the last few months, trade groups representing music publishers have used the threat of copyright lawsuits to shut down guitar tablature sites, where users exchange tips on how to play songs like 'Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,' 'Highway to Hell' and thousands of others.

"The battle shares many similarities with the war between Napster and the music recording industry, but this time it involves free sites like, and and even discussion boards on the Google Groups service like and, where amateur musicians trade 'tabs' — music notation especially for guitar — for songs they have figured out or have copied from music books.

"Assuming a tablature site musters the legal resources to challenge the publishers in court, some legal scholars say they believe publishers may have difficulty arguing their complaints successfully. Jonathan Zittrain, the professor of Internet governance and regulation at Oxford University, said 'it isn’t at all clear' that the publishers’ claim would succeed because no court doctrine has been written on guitar tablature."

I shouldn't get involved, because I have a personal stake in this. After all, without tab websites, I could have never figured out that the chorus of"Waterloo Sunset" is G/D/E.

"D" Is for Dylan, Bands Avoid iTunes, Lordi Gets Love, Jerry Schilling's Book About Elvis, Willie Nelson for Energy Czar

  • The Washington Post's Chris Richards says that Bob Dylan sounded like Cookie Monster with a head cold at a recent show. I think that might be a compliment because Cookie Monster is one of the finest singers I've ever heard.
  • Greed and stupidity keeps some of our favorite bands away from iTunes. Thanks a lot, greed and stupidity.
  • Lordi just keep capturing the people's hearts. And then eating them!
  • Elvis pal Jerry Schilling has written a book about his friendship with the King of Rock'n'Roll. Peter Guralnick wrote the foreword, so I'm guessing it's not another Elvis, What Happened?
  • Kinky Friedman, who is running for governor of Texas as an Independent, would appoint Willie Nelson energy czar if elected.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

"Modern Times": Bob Dylan Works on His Chops

There's an article in the New York Times about Bob Dylan's new record, Modern Times, that I think you might enjoy. My favorite line: "The new songs are even further away from the hints of Orthodox Judaism he dispensed in the mid-1980’s; in the album’s first track, he’s eating pork chops."

Friday, August 18, 2006

Aura of Art: The Benjamin Starship

I was thinking about Walter Benjamin's "Aura of Art" concept, or my misinterpretation of it, in relation to Advancement. My simple understanding of his idea is that a work of art takes on elements outside itself (reputation, timing, etc.) until it is eventually eclipsed by those elements. For instance, it is nearly impossible to tell anymore whether Picasso was really as good as he is supposed to be because he's "Picasso." I'm sure there's more to it, and surely someone would say that I've completely missed the point (I know that the idea goes into how the availability of reproductions affects the aura, but that's when Marx takes over, and if you want to talk about Chairman Marx, don't you know you can't me out). But let's take if for granted that what I'm talking about does occur. What does that have to do with Advancement?

The Advanced Theory came about to counteract the other side of the aura: People know that an artist has only so many good years in him, so his later stuff must be bad. In other words, the artist's aura works against him. What the theory says is that an Advanced Artist's later work must be good because his earlier work is so great and he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

The Advanced Listener can take this a step forward and say that any work of art can be good because liking everything is superior to liking just some things using arbitrary criteria. What this is all leading up to is that everyone agrees that "We Built This City on Rock and Roll" is the worst song ever recorded, but I'm not so sure anyone's actually listened to it. The thing is, the production is dated (but so is White Light/White Heat, the difference being everyone likes the date), but the song's not so bad if you give it a chance. So the next time it comes on, ignore the "worst song ever" aura (otherwise known as the hoopla) and enjoy it.

Elvis Presley and Cirque du Soleil: It's What He Would Have Wanted

Elvis is coming back to Vegas, Cirque du Soleil-style. Let's take a look:

"Known for its extravagant theatrical performances combining live music, dance and acrobatics, the Quebec-based circus troupe has teamed with CKX Inc., and its subsidiary, Elvis Presley Enterprises, to create the show. The show will have a permanent home at MGM Mirage's CityCenter hotel-casino when it opens, scheduled for November 2009, officials said in a statement.

"'I am pleased that during this time, when we remember Elvis Presley and celebrate his life, we are able to announce his return to Las Vegas, a place where he truly rose to iconic status,' CKX chief executive Robert F.X. Sillerman said in a statement.

"'Elvis has a unique relationship with his adoring fans in Vegas and a large part of our mission is to recreate the excitement and the spirit of joy he generated here,' said Guy Laliberte, founder of Cirque du Soleil."

Though I prefer to talk about Lou Reed, Elvis was actually the first Advanced Rock Artist. He had the hair, the sunglasses, and the leather (just take a look at the '68 comeback special). He was an innovative solo artist and had hits over a long period of time. He loved rock'n'roll, and he had a huge band with lots of African-American women backup singers. He was into the martial arts. His performances were mystifying to critics, and his live performances were designed as if he were daring his audience to enjoy them. He had a mystical-religious phase. He is called the King of Rock'n'Roll, but he never wrote a song. He loved Las Vegas, at one time the most Advanced city in America. In other words, I think he would have enjoyed this.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Tom Waits Empties the Vault With "Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards"

If you're a Tom Waits fan, November will be a good (and expensive, I'll bet) month for you because he is releasing a three-disc collection called Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards with 54 tracks, of which 30 are new, and a 94-page booklet. Here's more from Billboard:

"The 'Brawlers' disc is dominated by Waits' more blues-leaning material...'Bawlers' features ballads, waltzes and Celtic tunes.... 'Bastards' loads up on Waits' experimental side via such songs as 'King Kong,' 'Spidey's Wild Ride,' 'Army Ants' and 'Book of Moses.'

"Waits says the album is full of 'songs of dubious origin rescued from cruel fate and now left wanting only to be cared for. Show that you are not afraid and take them home. They don't bite, they just need attention.'"

Tom Waits is by far my favorite fraud.

Yoko Has Wail of a Time in Oslo, Best Song in Last Ten Years, Watch Out ABBA fans, Lordi Soda, Ray Charles Duet with Count Basie

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Leslie West and Lou Reed Together

It looks like I haven't given enough credit to Leslie West. (Thanks to Philco Brothers for the picture.)

Mountain's Bob Dylan Tribute Album, Featuring Ozzy Osbourne

I don't remember if I've written about this yet, but Mountain is working on a tribute album to Bob Dylan, and they've asked Ozzy Osbourne to help out:

"Singer-guitarist Leslie West and drummer Corky Laing have recorded a number of Dylan songs for the project, including 'Subterranean Homesick Blues,' 'Gotta Serve Somebody,' and 'Blowing in the Wind.'

"They've also enlisted some all-star help, including Allman Brothers Band and Gov't Mule singer-guitarist Warren Haynes and Ozzy Osbourne. West told that he recently got together with Osbourne and gave him a set of lyrics: You know, I rearranged these Dylan songs, and I picked a really great one for him to do with me -- 'Masters Of War.' So he's got it, and as soon as he finishes OzzFest, he's gonna sing it. We'll alternate verses and do the choruses together... It's really (a) thrill. He's so great, man. He's still freakin' got it."

Pretty amazing stuff. Leslie West didn't do enough to be called Advanced, but this is fine effort. I also appreciate his look these days, especially his choice of guitar. Of course, he looked pretty amazing in the old days, too.

"Modern Times" on XM, plus RIAA Has a Heart, YouTube Worth the Salt in My Tears, David Bowie in Tesla Movie, Danzig vs. Henry Rollins

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Pete Townshend: Talkin' 'Bout My Mini Opera

Like talking about weed, there is no way not to sound stupid talking about your rock opera. Take this quote from Pete Townshend about the Who's new mini(!) rock opera, rumored to be called "The Glass Household." He says it's about:

"three kids who form a band and they discover a stash of papers by some has-been rock star, talking about a massive internet experiment."

Obviously this is awesome and quite Advanced, and I'm hoping the "massive internet experiment" turns out to be iTunes, Wikipedia, or eBay. At any rate, you'll be able to hear it on the BBC's "Electric Proms" in October.

Johnny Cash: What You Don't Know or Don't Want to Know

There is not much going on this morning, but there is a lengthy article about Johnny Cash at Slate. The point of the article is that his stuff with Rick Rubin was kitsch. Here's a few bits:

"[F]or all their greatness, the Cash-Rubin records give off an unmistakable whiff of cheese. It feels peevish to find fault in albums that contain indelible performances by one of the 20th century's singular troubadours. But if it's possible for music to be both great art and shameless kitsch, look no further."

"[T]he American Recordings albums include some of the most purple musical moments this side of Mantovani. Cash's emotional forthrightness was a refreshing change from irony-choked popular culture. Still, sometimes too much is too much. Many a pop balladeer has been raked over the coals for lesser sins than Cash's corn-pone recitation of the Old West poem 'A Cowboy's Lament.'"

"The problem with all this Cash-worship is that it's reductive. Cash had a long and varied career as an entertainer. Sure, he specialized in gothic country songs and murder ballads, and yes, he had a drug problem, wrecked some hotel rooms, and did other 'rebellious' things. But he also recorded albums of children's music and clowned around with the Monkees on The Johnny Cash Show, a tacky ABC variety program he hosted for two years."

I guess this might all be true, but I don't know why we should care that much. Music journalists love to tell us that we really don't know the truth about our favorite artists and then try to explain to us why our love for those artists is problematic. But has any actual person thought "I love Johnny Cash, but I'm concerned that my affection for him might be reductive"? Maybe there should be some kind of spoiler alert attached to these articles so we'll know that we're going to be told how little we understand our favorite artists. Then we can stay in the dark if we want to.

Monday, August 14, 2006

From Robert Altman's "Popeye": Shelley Duvall Sings "He Needs Me" (by Harry Nilsson)

This is one of the great vocal performances of all time. I was sad and happy to hear this song in Punch-Drunk Love. Sad because I don't like to share "my songs," but happy because it's always great to hear it. Anyway, all the music in the movie (by Harry Nilsson and Van Dyke Parks) is amazing, but this is "the one." Especially when she says, "But he does." Enjoy.

Ten Best Beat-Making Videos, plus RIAA Is After Your Children, Radiohead Goes Crunk and Lullaby, Elvis Costello Download, the "Times" Loves Slayer

Friday, August 11, 2006

Everyone Stares at Sting

I watched the Stewart Copeland documentary about the Police (it's on Showtime OnDemand right now--I think it's called Everyone Stares). Other than making me very nostalgic, it made me think once again about whether Sting is so Advanced that I can't see it or was always awful and just got lucky to be in a band that made him look good.

If you don't know about the documentary, it is basically a bunch of backstage and offstage footage that Copeland shot on his little camera. The footage spans from nearly the beginning of the band (when they were driving to gigs in cars) to the end (when they were in a jet and counting their piles of money), but one scene convinced me that Sting is indeed Advanced:

It was during the recording of Zenyatta Mondatta, and Sting and Andy Summers are playing guitars together, working on "De do do do, de da da da." I realized after a moment that Sting was actually teaching it to Summers, and it sounded more or less like the final version. Now I always knew that Sting wrote most of the songs, but I always felt that Summers took the original ideas to a place that Sting would not have. If that footage is any indication, it was almost all Sting. Which isn't to say that Summers didn't contribute, it's just that Sting had amazing ideas of his own, not just good ideas to build around. "De do do do..." is not only unbelievably catchy, but it's also brilliantly constructed, and it appears that Sting gets the credit.

Copeland says that as time went on, Sting stopped bringing in half-written songs and started calling all the shots. That was around the time of Ghost in the Machine, which is one of the best albums ever made. And if that was all Sting, I have no choice but to give him the benefit of the doubt. I've been struggling with this for a long time, but what else can I do? The opening of "Demolition Man" alone is almost enough to declare him Advanced. Throw in "It's a big enough umbrella" (which radio DJs love to cut off for some reason), and you've got a pretty convincing case.

But I might change my mind because the music he's made the last twenty years or so has been so Advanced I can't even begin to understand it.

Bob Dylan and the Alicia Keys to Advancement

There is a nice article in Slate about one of the most Advanced artists of all time:

"Bob Dylan's 44th album, Modern Times, isn't coming out until Aug. 29, but it's already planting stories in the press. The album's title alludes to Chaplin and possibly Sartre, but a shout out to an R&B diva born in 1980, the year of Dylan's Saved, has already generated advance buzz. 'Dylan Searches for New Soul Mate,' blared a headline from the Guardian, offering as evidence the following lines from 'Thunder on the Mountain,' the album's opening track:

I was thinking about Alicia Keys, couldn't help from crying
When she was born in Hell's Kitchen, I was living down the line
I'm wondering where in the world Alicia Keys could be
I been looking for her even clean through Tennessee."

It goes on to talk about how Dylan has often been "besotted" by African-American woman singers. As you may remember, Advanced musicians love to use African-American (or, even better, African) backup singers, and Dylan was no different:

"By 1978, when Dylan embarked on what was cynically called his 'alimony tour,' he provided spectacle by adding, along with disco arrangements and Neil Diamond-style jumpsuits, a group of African-American backup singers."

One of the things I've learned from reading his autobiography is that Bob Dylan always knows exactly what he is doing and how it will be perceived. And then he does it anyway, because he's Advanced.

Lou Reed's "Original Wrapper" Video

I was all set to report that there's nothing to report when I went over to YouTube to see if there was anything good I could post instead of news. Well, it doesn't get any better--or Advanced--than this.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Rolling Stones Play for Bill Clinton, Jarreau and Benson: Death by Smooth Jazz, Byrds Box Set, U2 Tower, Arthur Lee Obit

  • The Rolling Stones are going to play Bill Clinton's birthday party. I wonder if he can pull of the "Waiting on a Friend" sax solo.
  • Al Jarreau and George Benson are teaming up to do a covers album that you will be hearing in New York taxis for the next 20 years. Paul McCartney makes an appearance too.
  • The Byrds' four-CD/one-DVD box box set will arrive on September 26. I like the Byrds, but I think I can do with just the original greatest hits record.
  • Dubliners protested against a proposed "U2 tower." The head of the protestors, Buck Mulligan, said the tower was a "snotgreen tower. A scrotumtightening tower."
  • Slate has an obituary for the "first black hippie," Arthur Lee. He did have a good look, that's for sure.

Ray Davies Officially an Icon, plus Mick Jagger Hires a Voice Coach, Rush Loses Lawsuit, Jeremy Spencer's Kids Hold On One More Day, Eno's Latest

  • Ray Davies is going to be given the BMI Icon award in October. The best part about that is the free pancakes.
  • Mick Jagger has hired a voice coach, but that's not the best part of this article. Here is the best: "Ronnie Wood admitted that he had not seen Kasabian despite the fact they are supporting the Rolling Stones on their world tour. He said: 'If I get time I may check them out.'" In other words, I'd like to talk with you, but I have to go wait in the lobby for the limo.
  • "Claims that Canadian rockers Rush missed out on gig revenue following a 2003 altercation with police have been dismissed by a federal judge." The judge did not dismiss Neil Peart's drumming on "Tom Sawyer" because that would be impossible.
  • The kids of Jeremy Spencer (of the earlier version of Fleetwood Mac) are forming a band. Watch out Wilson Phillips! By the way, did you know that Spencer disappeared and joined a religious cult?
  • Brian Eno's got something interesting going on for a change: His 77 Million Paintings software "uses the screens of computers or televisions to create a constantly evolving painting. "

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Iron Maiden Hawks Hawk

From a press release:

"Iron Maiden have released the first video from their highly-anticipated forthcoming album A Matter of Life and Death (September 5, Sanctuary) on their official website. The video is for the album's first single 'The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg' and features images from the band's three decades long career.

Iron Maiden has also contributed one of the album's tracks, 'Different World,' to the Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam video game. The title is the first downhill skateboard racing game based on the wildly popular Tony Hawk franchise and will be released by Activision in the Fall for the Wii, Nintendo DS, and Game Boy Advance."

I'm glad to see Iron Maiden reaching a new audience, and I absolutely love the title "The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg." Good for them! (Also, you must click on the awesome picture attached to this post.)

Prince at the Super Bowl, plus NME Looking for Writers, Bring Back Buster Poindexter, CBGBs Stories Wanted, Rock'n'Roll Gave God to You

  • Prince is reportedly in secret talks to play next year's Super Bowl half-time show. That's pretty much the most Advanced gig in the biz.
  • NME is looking for writers on the west coast of the U.S. If you live out there, get that job and spread the word of Advancement!
  • I think I'm tired of the New York Dolls reunion already. Is it too soon for the return of Buster Poindexter?
  • Indie Music wants your CBGB stories. I have one: $6 bottle of Dos Equis.
  • Lou Reed once said, "My God is rock'n'roll." That brings up an interesting scenario if you believe that God gave rock'n'roll to you.

McLaren Peed on Richard Branson's Rug, plus the Dao of Diamond Dave, Bryan Ferry to Model, Hit Factory Condos

  • Malcolm McLaren had a perfectly good reason for micturating on Richard Branson's rug. He can also get you a toe if you need a toe.
  • David Lee Roth has extended his tour, but what I'm interested in his the book he's working on, The Tao of Dave: Rock 'n' Roll Philosophy with David Lee Roth. There's going to be loads of Advancement in that one.
  • Bryan Ferry has finally realized his lifelong dream to be a male model. A true inspiration.
  • New York's Hit Factory studio is being converted into condos. I considered getting into a lather about this, but you should see the layout of the units!
  • “He who knows how will always work for he who knows why.” - David Lee Roth

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Duran Duran: Second Life

From a press release:

British rock stars, Duran Duran, will make Internet history once again with the creation of their own, 'virtual universe' inside the leading online virtual world, Second Life.

Although details are yet to be unveiled, the five original band members [Simon Le Bon, John Taylor, Roger Taylor, Andy Taylor and Nick Rhodes] announced today that they have commissioned their own custom-designed avatars who will live out a genuine 'second life' on a fantasy, luxury island, with 'in-world' concerts and media appearances taking place alongside the band's media, public and live engagements in the real world.

Currently in the middle of recording their next album, keyboardist Nick Rhodes said of the project: "Second Life has brought a third dimension to the internet; it is the new frontier where dreams have become reality. Whatever you can imagine is now possible. When the video revolution began we instantly saw the opportunity to experiment and explore a new form of expression to enhance the musical experience. Second Life is the future right now, offering endless possibilities for artists. Our community will be able to help develop the island into a fully functional, futuristic utopia, where you can never be quite sure what to expect. All visitors are welcome! Duran Duran are thrilled to be the first band to become citizens of Second Life and are rehearsing now for our first concert there in the coming months. I think I can safely say that it will be filled with surprises".
Okay, I'm not going to sit here and say that Duran Duran are Advanced. But I'm not going to sit here and tell you they aren't, either. I will say that they are underrated as musicians, and I particularly enjoy the bass playing. In any case, this "Second Life" business is a great move.

Bob Dylan's iTunes Presale, Ronnie Wood Retrospective, How Many Points for "?"?, Frank Black Tour, Willie Nelson's Lost Years

Sexy Music Is Sexy

There's not much to report this morning (it must be August), but there is this nice little article about how sexy music makes teens want to have sex:

"U.S. teenagers who listen to music with sexually degrading lyrics tend to begin having sex at an earlier age, a Rand Corp., study published Monday said. Rand researchers surveyed 1,461 adolescents ages 12 to 17 across the nation in 2001, then did follow-up interviews with them one and three years later. The study found sexually degrading lyrics are related to changes in adolescents' sexual behavior. Such lyrics depict men as sexually insatiable, women as sexual objects, and sexual intercourse as inconsequential."

This is probably true, especially with regard to the Ludacris song "I'm Sexually Insatiable, You Sexual Object, So Let's Have Some Inconsequential Sexual Intercourse Right Now."

(By the way, I know Barry White didn't use degrading lyrics, but since he's an icon of sexiness, I thought I'd use his image.)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Chris Isaak Himself, plus Web Exposure!, Frank Black Frank, Figuring Out Johnny Marr, OK Go, on Treadmills

Not much going on today but...

  • Chris Isaak is making a record that sounds like Chris Issak.
  • Reuters still thinks it's amazing that people that people use the Web to get exposure.
  • There's an article in the Village Voice about Frank Black. He thinks his fans are the Chinese. Thankfully, Robert Christgau didn't write the article, so it really is about Frank Black instead of a Voice writer's relationship to the music of Frank Black.
  • I'm still trying to figure out the Johnny Marr-joins-Modest Mouse news. Actually, I'm trying to figure out my relationship to the news.
  • Finally, if you haven't seen the OK Go treadmill video, you must.

Gene Simmons Inspired by Jiminy Cricket, plus Kiss Fans Storm Hall, Michael Hutchence Biopic a Head Trip, Denver Post Abides, Bono Buys Into Forbes

  • Gene Simmons was inspired by Jiminy Cricket as a boy. Now he's inspired by "puss."
  • More Simmons news: A bunch of angry fans protested at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because Kiss hasn't been inducted yet. I wasn't there, so I guess I'm going to have to give up my Kiss Army status. (In my defense, I signed up only for the reserves and had things to do this weekend.)
  • Two filmmakers are working on a Michael Hutchence biopic: "What we are aiming for is the journey through a person's life via their head." In other words, the devil inside.
  • The Denver Post sides with the Dude on the Eagles question.
  • Bono has bought a piece of Forbes magazine. In his press release, he said that he liked the magazine's consistent philosophy and added that he is abandoning his debt-relief work in favor of a new crusade for the implementation of the flat tax.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Weird Al Out of Time, The Tony Bennett Century, Warner's Wants You to Pay More for Less, Bob Dylan's Motorcycle Mystery, "Chronic Town" Still Good

  • Weird Al's new album is calledStraight Outta Lynwood, a take-off of Straight Outta Compton. Nothing like a little timely satire.
  • Tony Bennett is being honored with Billboard's Century Award. Wait, I thought he was only 80. (By the way, Alec Baldwin's Tony Bennett is awesome.)
  • Warner's wants you to by DVDs instead of CDs or downloads. What's really great is that the DVDs don't play on your CD player and you can't upload them onto your computer. And they burn your eyes if you look at them too long and make you sterile and profits go to Lyndon LaRouche. (Speaking of timely satire.)
  • People are still excited about solving the "mystery" of Bob Dylan's motorcycle accident. What's the mystery? Before it he was Overt, after he was Advanced.
  • This isn't news, but somehow "Gardening at Night," and really all of Chronic Town, still seems magical to me.

Kanye Opens for the Stones, plus Modest Mouse and Johnny Marr, The Moon's Bulge, Bob Dylan Musical Abstract, Goodbye Sleater-Kinney

  • Kanye West will open for the Rolling Stones during their upcoming tour. Sorry, he will be their "special guest." I don't know if you've ever seen how the opening band for the Stones is received, but it is no wait to treat a guest.
  • Somehow Modest Mouse have convinced Johnny Marr to record and tour with them. That guy (the frontman) is going to be impossible to be around for at least a couple of months.
  • Moon: Is that the result of your moving in an eccentric oval-shaped orbit 100 million years ago when you were in a molasses-like state or are you just happy to see me?
  • The star of the Bob Dylan musical tells us why his jukebox musical won't be like other jukebox musicals. The answer: It's abstract art. Should be a big, big hit.
  • There is an obituary for Sleater-Kinney at Slate. Seems like the perfect place for that, doesn't it?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Re-Pretenders

Rhino doesn't want to be outdone by Universal, so they've announced that they will release expanded versions of the Pretenders' first two albums. Here are the details:

"'The bonus disc included with the band's 1980 debut features unreleased songs such as the 1978 demos of album tracks 'Brass in Pocket,' 'The Wait,' 'Kid,' 'The Phone Call,' and 'Stop Your Sobbing.' The set also includes live performances of''Precious,' 'Tattooed Love Boys' and 'Sabre Dance.'

The second disc of Pretenders II, originally released in 1981, features several songs that were originally included on the promo-only release of 'Pretenders Live at the Santa Monica Civic,' such as 'Talk of the Town,' 'Birds of Paradise,' 'Message of Love,' and 'Bad Boys Get Spanked.' The set also includes an unreleased demo version of 'Talk of the Town,' the guitar version outtake of 'I Go To Sleep,' and the radio mix outtake of 'Pack It Up.'"

Those two albums feature some of my favorite songs, so this is welcome news. However, I have to confess that while I always support reissues (and re-reissues), the add-ons usually just end up bothering me, especially if they are on the same disc. I listen to the demos and say, "Wow, they really changed those" or "Those songs were great from the start" but then never listen to them again. Live versions I usually don't give much of a rat's. Maybe Rhino is planning to rerelease these reissues later without the extras, just as I advised Rykodisc with the Elvis Costello reissues.

Damon Albarn Says He Wants a Revolution, Bob Dylan Exhibit, Eagles to Record, Head-Butt the Musical, Robert Christgau l.u.v.s Robert Christgau

  • If you want to avert World War III, you better send in the Gorillaz.
  • The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is doing a bunch of stuff to go along with their Bob Dylan exhibit, including an evening with the Band. Just an evening?
  • The Eagles are thinking about recording a new album. Fine, but that better not distract Joe Walsh from the James Gang reunion.
  • The French really know how to take a World Cup head-butt and run with it.
  • Robert Christgau managed to wait until the second paragraph of his New York Dolls article to use "I." But he couldn't avoid using "triptych" and "votary of l.u.v."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Elvis Costello Reissues: The New Formula

You thought you had the definitive Elvis Costello reissues, but the audacious folks at Universal Music's reissue arm (!) says you were wrong:

"[Universal] plans to re-release the British musician's material via deluxe editions, compilations and box sets. The albums acquired begin with Costello's 1977 debut, My Aim Is True, and continue through This Year's Model, Armed Forces, Get Happy!!, Almost Blue, Trust, Imperial Bedroom, Punch the Clock, Goodbye Cruel World, King of America and Blood and Chocolate. Although these albums have already been reissued in expanded form by Rykodisc as well as Rhino, Universal Music Enterprises promises its new versions will be the 'definitive reissues.'"

If I were Rykodisc, I'd reissue the original reissue, this time without the extra tracks, then sell it as a box set named Elvis Costello Classic. Then after five years, I'd reissue the original reissues in another box set. Then five years after that, I'd sell a box set that would combine the two reissue box sets.

A Bootsy Collins Christmas

There's not much going on in the Advanced world at the moment, but I did happen to run across this item at

"Snoop Dogg, Buckethead and Charlie Daniels are among the varied guests contributing to funk legend Bootsy Collins' first holiday album, Christmas Is 4-Ever. Due Oct. 31 via Shout! Factory, the album includes four Collins originals plus nine takes on such seasonal favorites as 'The Christmas Song,' 'Winter Wonderland' and Donny Hathaway's 'This Christmas.'"

Even without the guests I would be tempted to get this one. (Hating Christmas music is about as Overt as you can get, by the way.) But now that I have my newfound respect for Charlie Daniels, I've got to get it.