Friday, June 29, 2007

Free Prince CD: Record Sellers Don't Like It

This is an amusing story about the incredibly brilliant record-store industry (from the Guardian):
The eagerly awaited new album by Prince is being launched as a free CD with a national Sunday newspaper in a move that has drawn widespread criticism from music retailers. The Mail on Sunday revealed yesterday that the 10-track Planet Earth CD will be available with an "imminent" edition, making it the first place in the world to get the album. Planet Earth will go on sale on July 24.

One music store executive described the plan as "madness" while others said it was a huge insult to an industry battling fierce competition from supermarkets and online stores. Prince's label has cut its ties with the album in the UK to try to appease music stores.

The Entertainment Retailers Association said the giveaway "beggars belief". "It would be an insult to all those record stores who have supported Prince throughout his career," ERA co-chairman Paul Quirk told a music conference. "It would be yet another example of the damaging covermount culture which is destroying any perception of value around recorded music.

"The Artist Formerly Known as Prince should know that with behaviour like this he will soon be the Artist Formerly Available in Record Stores. And I say that to all the other artists who may be tempted to dally with the Mail on Sunday."

What would we do if we couldn't buy Prince's (or other artists') music at record stores? Where could we go? By the way, this free-CD promotion is Advanced.

Lou Reed in Time

There is a little thing about Lou Reed's Berlin revival at Here's a bit:
While the singer shares his tales of depression, drug abuse and disoriented expats, the audience for the most part sits quietly in their seats. The choir and orchestra add a strangely upbeat air to the songs, the bleakness of which had irritated critics when it was released. There is not much movement on stage, except a background singer in a red dress gently rocking back and forth in a chair. One cannot help but wonder, has Berlin become re-unified but boring? A clean, family-entertainment culture, as one man describes the show afterwards, "worse than Las Vegas"?
First of all, the "worse than Las Vegas" man is obviously an idiot (appreciating Las Vegas is Advanced). But second, I'd like to talk about the headline of this article: "A Walk on the No-Longer-So-Wild Side." It's yet another example of the heroic lack of effort so often evident in articles about Lou Reed. Time gets extra credit, though, for creating one of the clunkiest headlines I've ever seen. It's worse than Las Vegas.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Paul McCartney's In-Store Show

There's an article in USA Today about a show Paul McCartney did in a record store. Nothing too surprising. However, I thought the list of celebrity attendees was amusing/interesting. Here's who was there:
  • Michael Eisner
  • Alanis Morissette
  • Joe Walsh
  • Rick Rubin
  • Jeff Lynne
  • Woody Harrelson
  • Jennifer Love Hewitt
  • Cybill Shepherd
  • Twiggy
  • Rosanna Arquette
  • Victoria Tennant
It always breaks my heart to think about Twiggy waiting for Elwood. (My heart breaks for him, not her, of course.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Theory of Advancement in the Independent (or CK in the UK)

As most of you know, Chuck Klosterman wrote about the theory in Esquire, which was quite something. An unfortunate side effect of having someone way, way, way more popular than you write about something you've come up with is that people forget that the way, way, way more popular person didn't invent it. The latest example is in an interview Klosterman did with "MT" from the Independent:
MT: My favourite essay in your new collection is the one about people who are "advanced". [Klosterman argues that certain artists reach a point where they often lose their audience because they've advanced beyond normal comprehension.] I love what you write about Liz Phair heading towards "advancement" as her music becomes harder for an audience to cope with, or how Lou Reed became advanced with his album Animal Serenade. In that essay, you really seem to define something accurate and true about pop culture. What inspired this "theory of advancement"?
Fortunately CK set MT straight:
CK:It's not my theory. I just explained the theory as it was explained to me. I'm still trying to figure it out in totality. But it's essentially a way to understand the nature of genius, particularly in situations where that genius is not self-evident.
This kind of honesty is the only way we'll keep our Wikipedia pages separate. I wonder if people think that he just invented me. I guess if I didn't exist, he would have had to.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Internet Radio Day of Silence

I just tried to get on my Pandora station and found this:

Hi, it's Tim from Pandora,

I'm sorry to say that today Pandora, along with most Internet radio sites, is going off the air in observance of a Day Of Silence. We are doing this to bring to your attention a disastrous turn of events that threatens the existence of Pandora and all of internet radio. We need your help.

Ignoring all rationality and responding only to the lobbying of the RIAA, an arbitration committee in Washington DC has drastically increased the licensing fees Internet radio sites must pay to stream songs. Pandora's fees will triple, and are retroactive for eighteen months! Left unchanged by Congress, every day will be like today as internet radio sites start shutting down and the music dies.

A bill called the "Internet Radio Equality Act" has already been introduced in both the Senate (S. 1353) and House of Representatives (H.R. 2060) to fix the problem and save Internet radio--and Pandora--from obliteration.

I'd like to ask you to call your Congressional representatives today and ask them to become co-sponsors of the bill. It will only take a few minutes and you can find your Congresspersons and their phone numbers by entering your zip code here.

Your opinion matters to your representatives - so please take just a minute to call.

Visit to continue following the fight to Save Internet Radio.

As always, and now more than ever, thank you for your support.

I don't much about this, but feel free to click the links. I'm not so sure the day of silence is a good thing, as it punishes the people who listen, but I guess they wanted to make a bold statement.

**Update here.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sonic Youth Teams With Starbucks

Sonic Youth is teaming up with Starbucks to release a covers record. From Digital Music News:
The release, a limited-edition compilation of Sonic Youth covers by well-known contributors, is expected in early 2008. It will be jointly released by both Starbucks Entertainment and Universal Special Markets, and will not be positioned under the freshly-launched Hear Music label, according to the representative. "This is not a Hear Music release," the representative underscored. But the album will be structured like "other joint venture releases," including the highly successful project involving Ray Charles, Concord Music Group (now a partner in Hear Music), and a number of big-name collaborators.
This is a sweet move by Sonic Youth if you ask me. And it also reminds me: It is very Overt to hate Starbucks. If you don't like the coffee, fine, but otherwise you're just being Overt if you aren't drinking a delicious venti coffee of the day (and M&M cookie) every day. One last thing: Is it me, or has Starbucks been playing a lot of great old R&B these days?

P.S. I like Starbucks coffee.
P.P.S. If they had asked me for something to add to the compilation, I would have contributed a version of their version of the Carpenters' "Superstar." But that might be Overt of me, so never mind.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Steve Martin Talks Banjos

There is a lengthy but interesting interview with Steve Martin (it's from Banjo Newsletter). He talks about banjos, his weird album "The Steve Martin Brothers," how he stopped playing, how we started again, what banjos he likes, what players inspired him, and all kinds of other stuff. Like this:
I had a party over here the other night, a couple of months ago with John; Kevin Nealon, who plays the banjo well - he was on "Saturday Night Live" - a funny comedian; Eric Idle [from Monty Python] plays guitar really well - it's folky, but everything is backed up with all the cords, not just the basic ones, and he's a songwriter, too; and Billy Connolley - do you know him, the Scottish comedian? - he's a frailer - real good. They were all at the house and we had a little session. Martin Mull he played guitar.
I wish he would have called me. I would have enjoyed that. Maybe next time.

Me? Not a Fan

I've been trying for a long time to put something together about musicians who wouldn't seem to be fans of their own music. I guess you could say that they are cooler or more interesting or smarter than the music they make. The key to them, though, is that they really do like what they do, which is why it is fascinating. I can understand why Aerosmith would do a song by Dianne Warren (because it will be a hit), even though they would probably like to write another "Dream On" or "Sweet Emotion." With the people on this list, they are making the music that is a true artistic expression. As an Advanced Listener, I have to add that I like most of these artists, it's just that I can't imagine that they do. Unfortunately, I can come up with only five solid contenders and one alternate:
  • Garth Brooks - Amazing on SNL, seems like a smart guy, has a sense of humor about himself; I just don't see him running on the treadmill with "The Thunder Rolls" on endless repeat. Side note: Chris Gaines rules.
  • Cher - I actually like almost all of her hits from every era. But I just can't imagine Cher popping in a recent Cher CD, even if I could turn back time.
  • Alice Cooper - I'll never exactly figure out who the real Alice Cooper is. But does he play "Welcome to My Nightmare" when he drives to the golf course?
  • Jimmy Buffet - There a couple of exceptions, especially "Come Monday." That song is impossible not to love.
  • Meat Loaf - He is probably the best example of the phenomenon. I actually think he is just Advanced, and I just haven't quite gotten a hold of how "Fight Club" and "Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose" fit together.
  • Bruce Springsteen - I know, I know. But if you think about it, he kinda fits.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Top Ten Rules for a Guitarist (Captain Beefheart Edition)

Here are the "so Overt he might just be Advanced" Captain Beefheart's 10 commandments for guitar players:

1. Listen to the birds
2. Your guitar is not really a guitar
3. Practice in front of a bush
4. Walk with the devil
5. If you're guilty of thinking, you're out
7. Always carry your church key
8. Don't wipe the sweat off your instrument
9. Keep your guitar in a dark place
10. You gotta have a hood for your engine

Music Thing has the list, along with the explanation of each commandment. A sample, for number three, "Practice in front of a bush":

Wait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grained bread and play your guitar to a bush. If the bush doesn't shake, eat another piece of bread.

You can also make a bid on Freddie Mercury's piano while you're at Music Thing.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Dolly Parton: Girl Scout for Life and more...

Good headlines today:
Sorry I've been away the last couple of weeks, but I'm back now.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Stewart Copeland on the Police's Disaster Gig

It's good to know that gigs like this happen to the best of them:
A philosophical Stewart Copeland unleashed his vitriol in a posting on his Web site on Thursday, a day after the band played its second show in Vancouver, the Canadian city where it began its first world tour in more than 20 years on Monday.

"This is unbelievably lame," Copeland wrote of Wednesday's show at the GM Place arena. "We are the mighty Police and we are totally at sea."

Copeland started the show off on the wrong foot, literally. He tripped as he took to the stage, and then banged his gong at the wrong time so that "the big pompous opening to the show is a damp squib." He did not hear Summers' opening riff to "Message In a Bottle," and Sting in turn misheard Copeland's drum intro -- "so we are half a bar out of sync with each other. Andy is in Idaho." They quickly recovered, but then Sting got his footwork wrong as he leapt into the air to signal the end to a shambolic version of their rat-race rant "Synchronicity II."

"The mighty Sting momentarily looks like a petulant pansy instead of the god of rock," Copeland reported. "And so it goes, for song after song," he wrote, with tunes such as "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" and "Don't Stand So Close To Me" reduced to ruin.

"It usually takes about four or five shows in a tour before you get to the disaster gig. But we're The Police so we are a little ahead of schedule," he said.

If you've ever been in a band, you know all too well what he's talking about. The worst one I experienced was when my band Spigot played what we called "The Astonishing 3-D Event." We had two slide projectors project the same image not quite on top of each other, and gave out 3-D glasses like in the old days, so the images looked like they were in 3-D (we used red and green acetate on the projectors and in the glasses). We also got an apple-scented fog machine for some reason. It was our first headlining show and the placed was packed. The first song went great, but that's when the strings started breaking. I broke I think four strings on three different guitars that night. Because I hadn't played live much, I didn't know to have backup guitars at the ready (I had to borrow guitars from the opening bands), so the whole thing ground to a halt again and again. Eventually there were no more guitars to play (though there was still plenty of apple-scented fog), and we just had to stop. I think I'm still depressed about it.

Anyway, I think Stewart will be fine.