12/31/2008

Roeper’s Best of the Worst

With so many year-end lists making the rounds, we thought we’d close out 2008 by going back 10 years to the American Film Institute’s 1998 list of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time, evaluated thru the eyes of noted film critic Richard Roeper, specifically those he deemed not worth of their vaulted AFI status. In his 2003 book, 10 Sure Signs a Movie Character is Doomed & Other Surprising Movie Lists (Hyperion), Roeper picks "The Worst Best Movies of All Time", a collection of highly regarded films that, in his opinion, don’t deserve to be in the AFI’s Top 100. In true movie fashion we have included quotes from Roeper for each one. (AFI ranking comes right after the year of release.)

Here they are:

The Graduate (1967) #7
"...certainly isn't a bad movie; just not a great one."

Midnight Cowboy
(1969) #36
"...the story is contrived, hokey, and flat."

West Side Story (1961) #41
"...ethnically-incorrect casting...dubbed vocals...quaint gang-rivalry-by-way-of-Shakespeare storyline."

Rebel Without a Cause (1955) #59
"...over the top performances from just about everybody, including [James] Dean."

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) #60
"...is it really the sixtieth...or even the six hundreth best American movie ever made?"

Forrest Gump (1994) #71
"Tom Hanks...showed more depth in Cast Away."

Ben-Hur
(1959) #72
"...the acting is laughable and the story drags on forever."

My Fair Lady (1964) #91
"A perfectly adequate, mainstream, big-screen adaptation...that's all it is."

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) #99
"Preachy attempt to be socially significant hedges its bets."

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) #100
"...entertainig musical that has no business being ranked among the greatest 100 movies of all time."

By the way, Roeper also mentions 10 movies missing from AFI’s list and another six released post-1998 that deserve inclusion.

12/30/2008

Vinyl Revisited

Idolator's Maura Johnston has seemingly had enough of the many 'vinyl is back' pieces that popped up in various publications this year.

For 2009, let's have a moratorium on these sorts of stories until some enterprising band out there brings back the vinyl-embedded video game.

Actually, we should wait for "some enterprising band out there" to ditch CDs completely and release their music on vinyl only, catering to those unwilling to spend on downloads but readily eager to spend $20+ on the turntable-only format. (Wasn't that Elvis Costello's plan for his most recent release, anyway?)

One person's fetish is another person's funding.

Glorious Noise: Top Shelf 2008

The folks at GloNo have compiled their contributors' respective 'best of' lists for the year, calling it "Top Shelf 2008", and included that of yours truly. But you guys already read that one, so check out what the other folks had to say/like/hate in 2008.

12/29/2008

Why Christmas Must Return to Being a Religious Holiday

The Day the Music Died

Regular readers of this blog—and the e-mail newsletter that preceded it—know all too well how we feel about the current state of music vs commerce. But in a piece published last week, titled "Songs From the Heart of a Marketing Plan", the New York Times' resident music critic, Jon Pareles, makes a point worth repeating. Often.

Musicians have to eat and want to be heard, and if that means accompanying someone else’s sales pitch or videogame, well, it’s a living. Why wait for album royalties to trickle in, if they ever do, when licensing fees arrive upfront as a lump sum? It’s one part of the system of copyright regulations that hasn’t been ravaged by digital distribution, and there’s little resistance from any quarters; Robert Plant and Alison Krauss croon for J. C. Penney and the avant-rockers Battles are heard accompanying an Australian vodka ad.

The question is: What happens to the music itself when the way to build a career shifts from recording songs that ordinary listeners want to buy to making music that marketers can use? That creates pressure, subtle but genuine, for music to recede: to embrace the element of vacancy that makes a good soundtrack so unobtrusive, to edit a lyric to be less specific or private, to leave blanks for the image or message the music now serves. Perhaps the song will still make that essential, head-turning first impression, but it won’t be as memorable or independent.

Exactly.

VHS: RIP

After a 20+ year run, the VHS cassette is finally on its way out. (Until the great VHS fetish of 2017, that is.) This past October, the last major distributor of the product--a Florida-based company--made its final delivery to a Burbank, CA reseller, who was the last of his kind in the US.

The major movie-renting chains like Blockbuster started phasing out VHS tapes from their inventory about five years ago. 2006's A History of Violence was the last major Hollywood film released on the format.

The Boss and the Evil Empire

No, were not talking about George Steinbrenner and his New York Yankees, but in fact Bruce Springsteen, who will release a budget-priced Greatest Hits, exclusively via Wal-Mart. The collection's 12 tracks will focus only on E-Street material and will not contain any unreleased tracks.

Our first question is, when did Springsteen get the rights to his Columbia catalog? And, secondly, what's behind the decision to make the material available this particular way?

The comp is due on Jan. 13th.

A new album, the Brendan O'Brien-produced Working on a Dream sees the light of day--no pun intended--two weeks later on Jan. 27th.

The Day the Music Died (part 2)

[Conversation between Kiko Jones and a self-confessed computer nerd and music fan, over drinks at a neighborhood Brooklyn bar.]

CN/MF: Man, free downloading and file sharing are gonna be awesome for music.

KJ: Really, how so?

CN/MF: It’s gonna bring music back to minstrelsy. As a musician, you won’t be able to pay your rent or bills with it, but it’ll be great.

KJ: Hey, I know it’s a bad analogy, but you wouldn’t feel that way if the government, the marketplace or whomever, arbitrarily and greedily made, say, writing computer code a non-compensated skill, right?

Listen, I’ll pay you $100 bucks a head for every musician you bring me who honestly believes that the disappearance of revenue streams is a good thing for him or her.

CN/MF: Well, um, I guess, yeah...I hadn’t seen it that way.

[Lord, save us.]

Who Pulled the Plug?

Video giant YouTube has removed all Warner Bros-related content from their site. The label says it asked for the removal when talks over licensing agreements came to a halt. YouTube countered with claims that Warner's last minute demands exceeded the financial arrangements they were willing to meet and prompted them to take action on their own.

Regardless of who did what, the end result is the videos being gone from the site. And what does that exactly portend for the parties in question?

Well, there has been talk of the four major labels (Universal, Sony, EMI and Warner Music Group, parent company of the aforementioned Warner Bros) being interested in banding together and launching a video site of their own, and these recent Warner vs YouTube developments may be a first step in that direction.

Stay tuned.

Billboard's 2008 Critics' Top Ten

The king of the music biz trade magazines has compiled year-ending Top 10 lists from editors, contributors, and columnists, as well as the magazine’s German bureau chief, and one by known hair band apologist Chuck Eddy.

Hey, it might be an interesting read…

Quote of the Day

"So my understanding is that he is leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer."

Acid-tounged writer David Mamet commenting on actor Jeremy Piven's recent departure form the Mamet-penned, Broadway play Speed the Plow, due to alleged mercury poisoning.

What We're Listening To

RUSTY ANDERSON Undressing Underwater (Surf Dog/Warner Bros)
ALEX FERREIRA Serenata de Plastico (Warner Bros-Spain)
GENESIS
Duke (Atlantic)
GEORGE HARRISON All Things Must Pass (Apple)
OASIS Don't Believe The Truth (Big Brother/Epic)

What are YOU listening to?

12/28/2008

A Tale of Two Oceans


After enjoying 2001’s Steven Soderbergh-directed critical and box office success, Ocean’s Eleven—which spawned two less interesting sequels: Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)—we became interested in learning more about the original, a Rat Pack vehicle from 1960 which had been deemed inferior to the 21st century remake.



While we admittedly never made the effort to locate a copy of the older film, when the occasion to witness the exploits of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and company, and compare it to the George Clooney, Brad Pitt and pals version recently arrived in the wee hours—no pun intended—via one of the numerous cable TV channels at our disposal, we dove in.

The main selling point of a caper movie—this one involving a massive casino heist—is how believable the plotting, execution and outcome of the task at hand is to the viewer. Now granted, this being a Hollywood flick, suspension of disbelief is a necessary currency. But it seems so unlikely that a mission of this nature could be undertaken as easily and in such relatively vague detail as in the original. (Dean Martin’s character actually admits as much in the scene where the plan is outlined to all those involved.) Yes, Soderbergh’s remake has its goofs—the bags with the flyers; and like the original, how much weight and space millions of dollars actually occupy—but it makes an effort to give us a sense of yeah, I guess you could do that, whereas, in our opinion, the 1960 film does not. Thus giving the newbie an edge. (Or maybe it was just a simpler time back then.)

With that aside, we found the original to be quite entertaining, and possessing the right balance of levity and humor to go along with the robbery plot at hand. (Any time we get to enjoy Dino crooning his classic “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” is always a good time; and a then 26 year-old Shirley MacLaine is absolutely adorable in her cameo as the drunken cutie who kisses Dean while he tries to distract her from discovering one of his cohorts in flagrante delicto. Oh, and damn, Angie Dickinson was hot!)

There are a few significant differences between these two mainstream popcorn flicks made 40 years apart, but in our view the most notable one is the turn of events that lead to the lack of a happy ending in the original. (And no, we won’t give it away.)
While we have no qualms with the final outcome in Soderbergh’s remake, the older picture not having a Hollywood ending is a nice twist that ultimately underscored our enjoyment of it. If you liked the 2001 version, check out the Rat Pack’s with an open mind and you’ll be rewarded as well.

[Poster art courtesy of Wikipedia.]

12/22/2008

Oh, the Irony: Bon Iver Covers The Outfield

We don't have a problem with contemporary artists covering cheesy tunes from the '80s. Hey, if you were into it and you want to pay tribute to the song that was playing when you lost your virginity (or dreamed of touching someone for the first time) or whatever teenage milestone you want to relive, fine by us. But, the ironic cover has become soooooooooo old by now, it's just not amusing anymore (if indeed it ever was). Except to lame-ass hipsters, of course.

So, Bon Iver, current darling of the musically ADD set, has of late incorporated The Outfield's "Your Love" to the nightly repertoire, much to his followers' gleeful delight. Don't think so? The dead giveaway is in the laughs that greeted the opening lyrics in the clip below. This shit has got stop already. Ugh.

New U2 Album Now Set for Early '09 Release

No Line on the Horizon, the 12th album from U2--and the first with a title of manageable length in a while--will see the light of day via Interscope on March 3rd, 2009, after being pushed back from a December release. (It has been said both band and label were not completely happy with the album's flow and the extra allotted time would be used to write and/or add a few songs to it.) Credited as producers are Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, and Steve Lillywhite.

Top 10 Jazz Albums of 2008

Unless you're reading specific publications catering to "America's classical music", this is the kinda list you might not come across. Slate's Fred Kaplan has this year's picks. (And audio samples, too.)

'80s Remake Overload

While perusing through a list of '80s cult classics that should be remade (?!), we came across one bonafide exception: Wisdom, the 1986 flick written, directed and starring Emilio Estevez, about a couple of bank robbers--Demi Moore is Bonnie to Estevez's Clyde--who destroy all mortgage-related records in a bid to become modern day Robin Hoods. Yes, it's sorta ludicrous, but timely. (Truth be told we haven't seen it since it came out on cable, shortly after it opened.) And better Wisdom than Rappin' or Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. Right?

Happy Birthday

Guitarist Rick Nielsen of the mighty Cheap Trick (61); Bee Gee Robin Gibb (59); Desorden Publico bassist Caplis (44), all on Dec 22nd.

12/20/2008

Our Drug Buddy

EVAN DANDO – Southpaw – Brooklyn, NY – 12/19/08
How ‘bout this for a concert moment: halfway through the second song of his set, technical problems hampered Evan Dando’s ability to continue. So, what does he do? Unplug his guitar and sans amplification serenades the now-hushed audience, who then proceed to sing along to his barely audible performance and create an instance of shared and joyous spontaneity. It was that kind of night.

Spanning his career as both chief Lemonhead and a solo artist, Dando touched upon favorites both his own (“It’s A Shame About Ray”, “My Drug Buddy” “The Outdoor Type”, “In The Grass All Wine Colored”) and not (his well-known version of Victoria Williams’ “Frying Pan”, Mike Nesmith’s “Different Drum”, Townes Van Zandt's "Pancho and Lefty", and The Frogs’ “Homos”, to name a few) during a lively hour-plus set that hovered around the two-dozen song mark, and featured a brief guest appearance by Butthole Surfers frontman Gibby Haynes.

Overhearing the complaints of a few faithful fans outside this particular venue on a snowy, sleepy Friday night—flubbed lyrics, abbreviated songs, signs of recurring drug use, etc—we found ourselves scratching our heads and wondering if they had come to the right show. For what we witnessed on stage was a loose, rambling acoustic set by a man not known to perform to the letter, but one that was undeniably entertaining and heartfelt, if not absolutely professional. But that’s what live music should be: fun and unpredictable, energetic and yes, not necessarily flawless. And in that regard, as far as the almost-capacity crowd was concerned, Dando delivered in spades.

5 of Mr. Jones’ Guilty Pleasures

[This was originally written for the 11/24/03 issue of "5", back in our e-mail newsletter days. We've decided to dig it up and share it with the larger readership we've acquired since. Feel free to submit your own. Enjoy! - KJ]

PUFF DADDY & THE FAMILY "It’s All About the Benjamins" [rock remix] (Bad Boy)
How the hell did The Artist Formerly Known as Puff Daddy ever get alt-rock icons such as Nirvana drummer/Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl and former Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson to work with him?
Granted, aside from Grohl being a clown, he does in fact relish every opportunity to get behind the drums. But did Puffy even know who Stinson was? However it went down, the latter two were featured on this particular version, which is fueled by a great distorted guitar riff, thus giving it--in our humble opinion--the extra oomph the original lacked. The video’s pretty cool, too.


MOTLEY CRUE
Although we don’t own any of their discs, they are the only hair band we’ve ever seen live–-a friend had extra tickets and dragged us along--and for the most part, actually like. "Live Wire", "Looks That Kill", "Shout At The Devil", "Wild Side", "Girls, Girls, Girls" … the Crüe had better songs and truer rock and roll attitude than most (see Bon Jovi, Winger, Warrant, Poison, etc) and as far as hard rocking acts from the '80s go, they are second only to Guns ’N’ Roses in our book.


SPICE GIRLS "Say You'll Be There" (Virgin)

The second single from their debut album Spice, "Say You'll Be There" was never as ubiquitous as its annoyingly catchy predecessor "Wannabe". But it was a tasty ear candy morsel wrapped in a pop/soul package that was definitely above average and more than anyone had a right to ever expect from them. (It does sound suspiciously similar to Carl Carlton’s "She’s A Bad Mama Jama", however.) Although we won’t be partial to it, look out for the Girls' Abba-like rehabilitation to be in full swing by 2010. Or sooner.


SHANIA TWAIN "You’re Still The One" (Mercury)
Co-written by its intended object of affection, über-producer and Shanias’s husband Robert John "Mutt" Lange, this ode to romantic bliss–-and newly minted wedding reception staple-- has always been near and dear to us. And probably always will be. There, we said it.


VARIOUS ARTISTS Music For TV Dinners (Scamp)

Despite its title the music collected on this album is more reminiscent of supermarkets than supper. You know, the kind of tunes that made Muzak the evil purveyor of bland songcraft it has become known for.
Still, there’s a nostalgic charm attached to many of the tunes included herein. Quite a few did in fact make it to TV, but if you’re over thirty you’re more than likely to recognize them as the soundtrack to many a food shopping experience. We know we do.

12/18/2008

Happy Birthday


The one and only...

[Photo courtesy of allmusic.com]

12/17/2008

25 Years of John Cusack


While on the occasion of his 25th anniversary in films there have been a few tributes to Scientology's best-known follower, we've decided to instead shine the spotlight on a less famous, less tabloid-plagued but equally, if not more talented actor whose work we've enjoyed for the last quarter century.

John Cusack may be best remembered for his role as Lloyd Dobbler in the 1989 teen classic Say Anything--especially for the film's iconic boombox scene--but since he debuted in 1983's Class, the Chicago native has worked continuously, putting in noteworthy performances in Sixteen Candles (1984), Better Off Dead (1985), City Hall (1996) [alongside Al Pacino], the film adaptation of Nick Horby's music geek classic High Fidelity (2000), Max (2001), and Runaway Jury (2003), among many others. (Interestingly, he has appeared in 10 movies with both his sister Joan, and close friend Jeremy Piven, with all three appearing in the aforementioned Say Anything and 1997's Grosse Pointe Blank. Which begs the question, when will Cusack make an appearance on Entourage?)

So, here's to John Cusack for a solid body of work and for being able to stick around this long with a few classic roles, perhaps a few questionable choices on and off camera--hooking up with Pink, really?--but ultimately for his undeniable talent and not embarrasing himself in the process. (Unlike the supposed film student in the clip below. We would've smacked her upside the head.) Thanks for letting us go along for the ride so far. Cheers, sir.

[Oh, and sorry 'bout the Cubs this year, dude.]

12/16/2008

New Sex Pistols Studio Album Rumored

Talk of punk icons The Sex Pistols reconvening in the studio next year to record a followup to their legendary 1977 debut album, Never Mind the Bollocks, has been circulating heavily ever since bassist Glen Matlock recently left open the possibility of a new album in an interview with the UK press.

Seeing as the band has been hard at work tarnishing their legacy in the last few years, why the hell not, right?

Reissue of Pearl Jam Debut Album in March

Jumping ahead of the album's 20th anniversary Pearl Jam will release an expanded edition of their 1991 debut, Ten, on March 24th, 18 years to the day of its original bow. The Seattle band's website began accepting pre-orders last week.

According to Billboard, the set...

"...includes a digitally remastered version of the original album as well as a completely new remix of the set by longtime producer Brendan O'Brien, who did not work on Ten but produced Pearl Jam's subsequent four albums" as well as "six previously unreleased songs from the era: early versions of 'Breath' and 'State of Love and Trust,' 'Brother' (with vocals, not the instrumental version from the 2003 rarities collection Lost Dogs), 'Just a Girl,' 'Evil Little Goat' and '2,000 Mile Blues,' a Stevie Ray Vaughan-inspired jam with improvised vocals from frontman Eddie Vedder."

"The 'Legacy' edition of Ten adds a DVD of Pearl Jam's previously unreleased 1992 performance on MTV Unplugged, including a never-aired version of 'Oceans.' Fans can also opt for a double-vinyl version featuring the original "Ten" on one LP and O'Brien's remix on the other."

"But the package sure to send hardcore fans into a tizzy is the 'Super Deluxe Edition,' which features two CDs, a DVD and four vinyl records. It is housed in a linen-covered, slip-cased clamshell box with a replica of an item second to none in Pearl Jam lore."

The latter being the Jeff Ament/Stone Gossard-penned instrumental demos which they sent to prospective singer, then San Diego-based, Eddie Vedder. These later became "Alive," "Once" and "Footsteps". The songs in their original incarnation--w/Vedder's vocals--will be included in a pristine-sounding cassette. (!)

More 2008 Lists

Pitchfork, the hipster online oracle [/snark], has their yearly recap up and running for the irony-trafficking, She & Him lovers--and those of us who enjoy mocking their ilk--ready for mass Kool-Aid consumption. Bottoms up!

Oh, and PopMatters has theirs, too. Which, in its introductory essay, compares 1968 to 2008 on various cultural levels and includes this nuggett:

[W]hen it comes to music, at least, it’s easy to slip into comparison-contrast mode. If 2008 was like 1968 in any way, did we see another “White Album”? Was there a new Aretha? A Hendrix? A Van Morrison? And if there wasn’t, does that mean we’re lacking in creativity and self-expression now, or is it even possible to have these lightning rods anymore?

For those of you keeping score: that's no, no, no, no, yes, no. [sigh] At least that's how we feel 'round these parts.

New Releases

Debuting this week--which might be the last official release date of the year--are:

THE ALL-AMERICAN REJECTS When the World Comes Down (DGC)
GHOSTFACE KILLAH Ghost Deini the Great (Def Jam)

MARGOT AND THE NUCLEAR SO & SOS Animal! (Epic)
DAVE MATTHEWS
Live At The Mile High Music Festival (BamaRags/RCA/BMG)
BROTHER JACK McDUFF Gin and Orange [reissue] (Cadet/Dusty Groove)

Happy Birthday

Guitarists Tony Hicks (65) of The Hollies; Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top (59) and one-time Miles Davis sideman, blues-rocker Robben Ford (57), today December 16.

Here's Mr. Ford performing our favorite tune of his, "You Cut Me to the Bone", with his trio The Blue Line, live in 1993.

12/09/2008

2008: THE YEAR IN REVIEW

[Yeah, it's about that time...and here we go adding to the pollution. Ready? - KJ]

ALBUM OF THE YEAR:
TV On The Radio Dear Science (Interscope)
The move to a major has not affected this adventurous quintet’s sense of experimentation and wonder on their third album and second for the big league imprint.

Runner up:
Death Cab For Cutie Narrow Stairs (Atlantic)
Sun Kil Moon April (Caldo Verde)


FAVORITE ALBUM OF THE YEAR: None
Nothing did it for us this year, unfortunately. Well, maybe The Golden Age (Merge) by American Music Club. But not really.


WORST ALBUM: AC/DC Black Ice (Columbia)
Even after an almost decade-long recording hiatus all they could come up with was yet another installment in their 25-year saga of diminishing returns?

Runner up:
Todd Rundgren Arena (Hi-Fi)


FAVORITE TV SHOW: The Life and Times of Tim (HBO)
Despite crude animation that makes South Park look like a Michael Bay extravaganza, this animated half-hour is pure comedy gold. The “Latino Tim” / “The Priest is Drunk” episode is especially funny.


WORST TV SHOW: That Metal Show (VH1 Classic)
Eddie Trunk teams up with 2 unfunny comedians to interview the likes of Lita Ford and Yngwie Malmsteen; give out numerous copies of the Kiss box set as prizes; keep tabs on the touring prospects of Cinderella (!) while failing to even acknowledge current metal bands like Mastodon, The Sword, etc. What’s not to love?


BEST REISSUE: Led Zeppelin Limited Edition Definitive Collection Mini LP Replica Box Set (Atlantic)
The mighty Zep’s entire catalog on CD, including several alternate In Through the Out Door covers. Sweet.


MOST WELCOME COMEBACK: Guns ‘N’ Roses
The long-awaited Chinese Democracy was no masterpiece but it doesn’t suck. Fuck you.

Runner up:
My Bloody Valentine; The Pharcyde


MOST UNWELCOME COMEBACK: Madonna
Need way say more?


BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Chris Cornell Scream (Interscope)
His second solo album was DEFINITELY NOT worth the wait; this one is just pathetic.

Runner up:
Matthew Sweet Sunshine Lies (Shout! Factory)


MOST UNDESERVED HYPE: The Noel Gallagher/Jay-Z feud.

Runner up:
Joe Satriani suing Coldplay for copyright infringement. Jeez, it’s bad enough that both artists put their names on their respective lame songs. [yawn]


BEST THING TO LOOK FORWARD TO NEXT YEAR: The implosion of blog rock
We can only hope.

Runner up:
XL Recordings goes under. (Sorry but Clap Your Hands, Say Yeah; Tapes 'n Tapes; Vampire Weekend? It's warranted.)

* * * * *

GOODBYE:

Beatles' Apple Corps Ltd honcho, Neil Aspinall; jazz guitarist Joe Beck; drummer for Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, Jimmy Carl Black; guitarist/producer Hiram Bullock; Cuban bassist and bandleader Israel "Cachao" Lopez; Brazilian legend Dorival Caymmi; influential comedian George Carlin; noted composer Alexander Courage, who wrote the original Star Trek series' theme music; the great Bo Diddley; long-time keyboardist for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, Danny Federici; producer/engineer Jerry Finn; former Replacements drummer Steve Foley; Grammy and Academy Award-winner, Black Moses himself, Isaac Hayes; blues guitarist Jeff Healey; drummer Michael Lee (The Cult, Page and Plant); Sean LeVert of ‘80s R&B act LeVert; award-winning actor/comedian Bernie Mac; Miles Davis producer, saxophonist Teo Macero; South African vocalist Miriam Makeba; comedian Dick Martin, co-creator of '60s variety show Laugh-In; jazz organist Jimmy McGriff; Jimi Hendrix drummers Buddy Miles and Mitch Mitchell; saxophonist and founding member of The Dave Matthews Band, LeRoi Moore; original Descendents guitarist Frank Navetta; folk singer Odetta; ground-breaking session drummer Earl Palmer; noted director and occasional actor Sydney Pollack; saxophonist Jason Rae, husband of Grammy-nominated British singer Corinne Bailey Rae; country music's "Guitar Man", Jerry Reed; painter, jazz vocalist and actress Esthelle Reiner; political commentator Tim Russert; original Rush drummer John Rutsey; jam band icon Merle Saunders; Queens of the Stone Age/Chris Cornell/Eleven keyboardist and producer Natasha Shneider; Dave Clark Five vocalist Mike Smith; The Kingston Trio's John Stewart; vocalist for Motown's legendary Four Tops, Levi Stubbs; original Ten Minute Warning vocalist Steve Verwolf; visionary record producer Jerry Wexler; Motown songwriter/producer Norman Whitfield; longtime Pink Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright; Classics IV vocalist Dennis Yost.

12/08/2008

Strawberry Fields Forever (for John Lennon)

Satch Sues Coldplay For Plagiarism

Alleging copyright infringement of his instrumental track "If I Could Fly" by their song "Viva La Vida" noted guitarist Joe Satriani is suing Coldplay. There's a clip on YouTube that compares the two, and frankly, they are very similar. But as any rookie entertainment lawyer will tell you, that's not enough to win this sort of case. If we're not mistaken, one must prove access by the alleged party to the creation of the song in question. Having heard the song broadcast, no matter how widespread its distribution or its popularity, does not constitute actual access in legal terms.

These cases are routinely fought between relatively unknown plaintiffs and well-known artists and are almost never won by the former. The odds don't fare much better for the plaintiff even if they are both famous, George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord"/"He's So Fine" case being the rare exception. (Interestingly, according to music biz insider Moses Avalon, in his book Confessions of a Record Producer: How to Survive the Scams and Shams of the Music Business, Satriani's one-time boss, none other than Mick Jagger himself, was sued by Jamaican reggae artist Patrick Alley for allegedly ripping off "Just Another Night" which Alley had recorded in 1979 and released in 1982. Alley was able to prove access in the form of legendary session man Sly Dunbar who played on both Alley's and Jagger's versions of the track. Avalon states that while testifying on the stand the famed drummer stated he couldn't remember playing on the original version. Jagger was subsequently cleared.)

In any event, we doubt anyone in Coldplay has ever heard a Satriani song, let alone copy one. They were probably too busy aping Radiohead circa The Bends, anyway.

Here's the aforementioned clip:


Real World Turns 21 in Brooklyn

We were hoping it wouldn't happen: MTV's original lame-ass soap opera/reality show will celebrate its arrival to legal drinking age with The Real World: Brooklyn, airing on Jan. 7th. Featuring 8 cast members instead of the usual 7, these include "an Iraq war veteran, a former beauty queen, a hip hop dancing hippie, a punk rock Mormon, a dolphin trainer, a computer geek, an abs model and an advocate for victims," according to a press release by the former cable music channel, which bills itself these days as "the dynamic, vibrant experiment at the intersection of music, creativity and youth culture." Yes, and we're the heirs to William Shakespeare.

We're just dying for these knuckleheads to stroll into any of our nabe's watering holes and have some of the locals put the fear of God into 'em. Or at least some sense. (Nah, they'll probably just hook up with some low self-esteem, attention-starved posers. But one can dream, huh?)

Dark Knight To Be Re-Released in Theatres

On Jan. 23rd Warner Bros. will roll out The Dark Knight for the big screen one last time. Released on DVD this past week, the Batman film is the second largest domestic draw in history with a box office total of $530.3 million. (Its foreign take is $465.9 million, $4 million shy of the 1 billion mark overall.)

"We wanted to provide one more opportunity for moviegoers to experience it on the big screen as it was meant to be seen," Warner's president of domestic distribution, Dan Fellman, announced last week.

And indirectly giving the late Heath Ledger some added publicity vis-a-vis a possible Oscar nomination never came up, right?

Grammy Nominations Announced

Yeah, forgot about that: if you're interested, the complete list of nominees for the 51st Annual Grammy Awards can be found here. The award show will take place Feb. 8, 2009, at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

New Releases

Here's a list of some of the discs that have seen the light of day in the last few weeks:

BELLE & SEBASTIAN
The BBC Sessions [Deluxe Edition] (Matador)
ISOBEL CAMPBELL/MARK LANEGAN Sunday at Devil Dirt (Fontana)
THE FIREMAN Electric Arguments (ATO)
DAVID HOLMES The Holy Pictures (Mercury)
THE KILLERS Day & Age (Island)
FEMI KUTI Day by Day (Mercer Street/Downtown)
MAGAZINE The Complete John Peel Sessions (EMI/Virgin)
PHISH At the Roxy [Atlanta '93] (Jemp)
R.E.M. Murmur [Deluxe 25th Anniversary Edition] (IRS/Universal)
THE SWORD Age of Winters/Gods of the Earth (Kemado)
SCOTT WEILAND Happy in Galoshes (Soft Drive)
KANYE WEST 808s & Heartbreak (Roc-A-Fella)

12/02/2008

The Return of the Rocket King


[Album cover courtesy of allmusic.com]

GUNS 'N' ROSES

Chinese Democracy

(Geffen-2008)


It’s been over a week since the most talked about album of the decade finally saw the light of day and the reviews have been plentiful. Because of the nature of the circumstances surrounding this release—mainly, the inordinate length of time taken by the artist to complete it—we decided to take it slow and listen intently before rendering our verdict on the album that caused our wisecracking about its title to become obsolete with its arrival. (You know, the one about democracy coming to China before its release. Anyway...)

In any event, if you have yet to hear Chinese Democracy, here’s our take.

First the bad news: the most self-indulgent thing about this album is not how long it took to make but Axl Rose’s kitchen sink approach to arranging the material. There’s dilettante touches of latter day R&B and hip-hop (“Better”), nu-metal (“Shackler’s Revenge”), power ballads (“Sorry”), and nauseating Freddie Mercury-type piano pieces in search of some long-lost Phantom of The Opera musical-to-be (“This I Love”, “Street of Dreams”).

But…

If you ever loved GnR “I.R.S.” will remind you why you did and why this album deserves your attention. Oh, man! Nuanced, well-paced, rockin’ as hard as anything from their past, and with a chorus the size of a house, this tune alone is worth the trip to Best Buy (the album's exclusive retail outlet). “I.R.S.” single-handedly announces the return of Axl and co. in a big way. Yes, it’s that good.

‘Not so fast,’ say the goofy-titled “Riad N the Bedouins”; “Scraped”; and the title track, stomping rockers each and every one. This is the man’s forte: the aggro-rock swagger and attitude of his youth still suits him in the midst of middle age better than almost all of his contemporaries and some of his still-active forebearers. (We’re looking at you, AC/DC.)

Our verdict? Chinese Democracy expands on the panoramic scope and indulgences of Axl's last two albums of original material, Use Your Illusion I and II, while still bearing the stamp of Appetite for Destruction. But, was it worth the wait? Nope. It's not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination. And after this long of a delay nothing short of a magnum opus could make up for it. But it's a solid rock record and a lot better than anyone ever expected it to be. More importantly, this is the result of an uncompromising artist who, love him or hate him, chose to make Chinese Democracy his way or the highway and followed thru on his vision. In addition, with its release, like the seminal album that put GnR on the map two decades ago, Axl has shown impeccable timing.

You see, while Appetite showed up just in time to save hard rock from its then poofy-haired merchants and certain mainstream oblivion, Chinese Democracy is the last of the "event" albums. In a way, it's actually the last grandiose album of the 20th century. That's why in these times of overly self-conscious, pre-fab, researched-to-the-core, beer-commercial-soundtrack rock albums, the over-the-top Chinese Democracy is a reminder of a time when—however self-indulgent—artists had true ambition and were willing to take risks and follow their muse, no matter what. And for that, but not exclusively, Axl gets our $15.

As David Fricke states in his Rolling Stone review of the album,

"To [Axl], the long march to Chinese Democracy was not about paranoia and control. It was about saying 'I won't' when everyone else insisted, 'You must.' You may debate whether any rock record is worth that extreme self-indulgence. Actually, the most rock & roll thing about Chinese Democracy is he doesn't care if you do."

Amen.

Highlights: “I.R.S.”, “Riad N the Bedouins”, “Scraped”, "Catcher in the Rye", and the title track.

11/30/2008

Led Zeppelin's Greatest Hits



Despite going through a bit of Led Zeppelin withdrawal during the ‘90s—not shunning them; just simply caught up in the music of our peers and general vibes of the times—the collective work as a unit of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham is without a doubt firmly lodged in our musical DNA. Fuelled by the timely acquisition of the band’s choice recent CD box set—not only do we finally own the catalog on CD, we got a steep discount from a friendly retailer on this set of mini LP replicas, which we were wonderfully surprised to discover we had inadvertently purchased the twice as expensive, higher-fidelity Japanese version!—we’ve been on a Zeppelin binge of late.

But no matter how much we may love the mighty Zep, we are not oblivious to the numerous charges of plagiarism levied against the legendary quartet—quite a few of them substantiated by lawsuits won against the band over the years. Which brings us to Wilson and Alroy.

Even though they know their music and can put a couple of coherent sentences together, Wilson and Alroy are not music journalists. Just a couple of opinionated, Gen-X pricks—we mean that as a compliment—that aren’t always on point (their Black Sabbath reviews are pretty lousy and off-base; especially the ones covering the classic first four albums) but get it right most of the time.

One cool thing about their site is that they've gone through the trouble of compiling a list of songs that Led Zeppelin partially and/or completely ripped-off and tried—successfully, in most cases—to pass off as their own. Sure, songwriters always nick a bit here and there, but c'mon. This is what they've compiled:

Now by popular demand! A list of some of the songs Zep stole from other artists:

* "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" - A folk song by Anne Bredon, this was originally credited as "traditional, arranged by Jimmy Page," then "words and music by Jimmy Page," and then, following legal action, "Bredon/Page/Plant."

* "Black Mountain Side" - uncredited version of a traditional folk tune previously recorded by Bert Jansch.


* "Bring It On Home" - the first section is an uncredited cover of the Willie Dixon tune (as performed by the imposter Sonny Boy Williamson).


* "Communication Breakdown" - apparently derived from Eddie Cochran's "Nervous Breakdown."


* "Custard Pie" - uncredited cover of Bukka White's "Shake 'Em On Down," with lyrics from Sleepy John Estes's "Drop Down Daddy."


* "Dazed And Confused" - uncredited cover of the Jake Holmes song (see The Above Ground Sound Of Jake Holmes).


* "Hats Off To (Roy) Harper" - uncredited version of Bukka White's "Shake 'Em On Down."


* "How Many More Times" - Part one is an uncredited cover of the Howlin' Wolf song (available on numerous compilations). Part two is an uncredited cover of Albert King's "The Hunter."


* "In My Time Of Dying" - uncredited cover of the traditional song (as heard on Bob Dylan's debut).


* "The Lemon Song" - uncredited cover of Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor" - Wolf's publisher sued Zeppelin in the early 70s and settled out of court.


* "Moby Dick" - written and first recorded by Sleepy John Estes under the title "The Girl I Love," and later covered by Bobby Parker.


* "Nobody's Fault But Mine" - uncredited cover of the Blind Willie Johnson blues.


* "Since I've Been Lovin' You" - lyrics are the same as Moby Grape's "Never," though the music isn't similar.


* "Stairway To Heaven" - the main guitar line is apparently from "Taurus" by Spirit.


* "White Summer" - uncredited cover of Davey Graham's "She Moved Through The Fair."


* "Whole Lotta Love" - lyrics are from the Willie Dixon blues "You Need Love."


I'm not listing covers that the band credited to the actual authors ("You Shook Me") or the less blatant ripoffs (the "Superstition" riff in "Trampled Underfoot"). If you have anything to add to this list, please tell me. (D B Wilson)


To state that Led Zeppelin’s musical influence is undeniable is a monumental understatement. But that influence sometimes reaches way past sound and fury and into the area of legality. To wit:

In the late ‘90s Colombian rockers Bloque recorded a latin-flavored version of “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” in Spanish called “Nena”—which translates as “Babe”—on their self-titled debut, echoing Zeppelin’s recording of the song on their self-titled debut some thirty years prior. However, upon further inspection of the album’s credits, the song is listed as written by Ivan Benavides and Ernesto Ocampo, Bloque’s main songwriters!

Talk about a wide-spread influence…

11/22/2008

Matthew Not So Sweet These Days

In a post titled "Ugly Truth Rock: What Does Matthew Sweet Owe Us?" folks at Idolator take the power pop maven to task over recent performances while touring behind his most recent album Sunshine Lies, particularly a San Francisco date which only drew 200 in a 600 capacity venue. And for being overweight.

One of our all-time favorite concerts was Sweet's March 25th, 2000 date at Irving Plaza, NYC. If we recall correctly this was the tour in support of In Reverse, the first of his albums that really didn't do anything for us. But regardless, we got tickets and brought a date, (who turned out to be--unbeknownst to us--a minor celebrity who got us into the VIP area) and elated from the show rushed out to Queens to play a set with our own band, energized by the stellar performance we'd witnessed earlier.

But more importantly, and to the point, we've always considered that night's concert as the ideal performance. Why? The band was in top form; the sound was decent; Sweet performed 22 songs (7 from the new album and 15 from his catalog), and we got to hear everything a devoted fan would want to, within reason. (Maybe 5 tunes from In Reverse would've been enough, but hey…)

As longtime fans of Sweet's it saddens us to hear that the recent SF show is a common example of what this tour is like. (Not being thrilled with his latest album and lousy weather kept us from his recent NYC stop.) Someone with a catalog as sizeable as Sweet's should play longer shows and even mix it up a bit with an acoustic set, as was suggested by one Idolator reader. As for the size of the crowd, that's beyond his control, and if he's touring without his own sound man, that's one more thing left to chance. (Then again, the house sound guy has very little excuse for not pulling it off: you work the joint every night, for Pete's sake!)

Truthfully, while Sweet isn't likely to pick up any new fans at this point, that sense of resignation shouldn't extend to taking his followers for granted in any way shape or form. It's not like he can afford to lose/alienate followers at this stage of his career. And 13-song sets half-devoted to a new album is a step in that direction. Granted, there's nothing wrong with showcasing a good chunk of your new record--that's why they're out there touring--but an established artist can't get away with a set consisting of 50% new tunes, either. (Having said, the AC/DC model is also not a good choice: Bon Scott-era tunes and Back in Black, plus "For Those About to Rock", "Thunderstruck" and 2 songs from whatever new album they've just released. But maybe that's EXACTLY what their fans want.)

For whatever reason, Sweet chose not to do a 15th anniversary Girlfriend tour two years ago. Maybe it would've been more feasible had he gone on hiatus for a while, but Sweet has not been MIA: he's actually released 3 solo albums of new material this decade, one of which, Kimi Ga Suki, is up there with his very best. (It also features the closest thing to a reunion of the Girlfriend lineup.)

As for Sweet's girth, if it indeed is affecting his health and ability to perform on stage, that is a legitimate concern. Otherwise, let the man be. He's 44 yrs old, he's been big for at least a decade now, and not everyone on stage needs to look like John Mayer, despite what anyone says.

11/20/2008

Troublemaker

As we stated previously, Weezer's most recent self-titled release--aka The Red Album--has been a disappointment 'round these parts: tired and uninspired is how described it, with drummer Pat Wilson's "Automatic" the only other song on the disc we can get with. But like another similar album by the Los Angeles quartet--2002's Maladroit--we've fallen in love with a simple, but quite rockin' tune included therein, regardless of the ineffective lure of the rest of the record.

We're referring to lead-off track "Troublemaker", an irresistibly catchy 2-chord rocker with silly lyrics that just begs to be sung along to. (Although, this may be a bit of a challenge: it probably has more words than a classic Public Enemy song.) If you've missed it, well here is its equally funny and goofy video clip, courtesy of Spinner.com

11/17/2008

MTV Pulls Plug on TRL, Thousands Yawn

MTV's long-running music countdown show is no more: Total Request Live has been cancelled after a ten-year run. Debuting as the rise of the late '90s rap-rock, nu metal, and the teen pop/boy band phenomenon were implementing their chokehold on the mainstream music-buying public, the once highly-popular show had been floundering for years. This probably means more airtime for The Hills or whatever other nonsense they air these days.

What We're Listening To

ERIC AVERY Help Wanted (Dangerbird)
THE CURE Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me (Elektra)
GUIDED BY VOICES Live from Austin, TX (New West)
KING CRIMSON Red (EG)
WEEZER self-titled [The Red Album] (Geffen)

The Dead Album

Are any of you into Weezer's most recent? Aside from the kick-ass lead-off track "Troublemaker" and drummer Pat Wilson's "Automatic" it sounds tired, uninspired and rehashed to these ears.

What say you?

New Star Trek Trailer

Yes, finally a glimpse of the upcoming Star Trek movie, due to open in theatres on May 8, 2009.

We were never crazy about the choice of J. J. Abrams--of Lost fame--as director of this latest installment of Gene Roddenberry's baby, and if this preview is any indication, it's gonna be one big Michael Bay movie set in space.

Keep hope alive, though.

No.5: Low Numbered Original 'White Album' on eBay

If you've got in excess of US$15 grand at your disposal, feel free to bid on it and get yourself an original copy once in the possession of John Lennon right in time for the album's 40th anniversary (Nov. 22).

And, of course, you can read our review of the album itself here.

Just Like Heaven

Wow...has it really been 20 years?

The third single from 1987's Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, in 1988 The Cure had their first American top 40 hit with a song that has won them numerous accolades and been the subject of quite a few cover versions. Their best pop song and undoubtedly one of their very best overall--not to mention, quite possibly, the one Cure song everyone knows--it is 3 and a half minutes of, well, heaven.

And that first verse? It's what clever love songs are made of:

"Show me how you do that trick
The one that makes me scream" she said
"The one that makes me laugh" she said
And threw her arms around my neck
"Show me how you do it
And I promise you, I promise that
I'll run away with you
I'll run away with you"

And yes, it rocks:



A timeless classic, indeed. Wonder if it's too late to learn that hug-inducing, scream-and-laugh-provoking trick?

[Video courtesy of MTVmusic.com]

11/10/2008

RIP

Miriam Makeba, the South African legend considered by many to have been the musical voice of the anti-apartheid struggle, died in Italy on Nov. 9th, after collapsing onstage from a heart attack.

She was 76.

11/06/2008

New Releases

We've been kinda preoccupied with other things but here we are with this week's newbies:

PETER BRÖTZMANN The Brain of the Dog in Section (Atavistic)
DENNIS BROWN The Best of Dennis Brown: The Niney Years (Universal)
RODNEY DANGERFIELD Greatest Bits (Shout! Factory)
KLAUS NOMI Za Bakdaz: The Unfinished Opera (Heliocentric)
Q-TIP The Renaissance (Universal Motown)

Deftones Bassist In Coma After Car Crash

Billboard:

Deftones bassist Chi Cheng is in a coma after being involved in a car accident Monday in Santa Clara, Calif., according to the Sacramento Bee. Frontman Chino Moreno confirmed Cheng's condition but declined to give further details.

"I don't know everything that's going on -- I just know it's very serious," Moreno told the Bee, adding that he was on his way to a San Jose hospital to be with Cheng's family.

The accident was confirmed by Warner Bros. Records, who said Cheng was in "serious but stable condition" but did not provide specifics.

"Chi is one of the strongest people I know, and I'm praying that his strength will get him through this," Moreno added in a note on the Deftones' blog. "Please say a prayer for him as well."

Cheng, 38, has been in the studio with Deftones working on the band's next studio album, "Eros," which is due in spring 2009 via Warner Bros. The Deftones' most recent live show was in mid-September in Peoria, Ariz.

RIP

Jimmy Carl Black, drummer for Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention passed away on Nov. 5th. He was 70 years old.

11/05/2008

Right Here, Right Now

"I was alive / and I waited...waited / I was alive and I waited for this / right here, right now / there is no other place I wanna be"

11/04/2008

(don't) Wait Until Tomorrow

We don't talk politics here on "5" but today is Election Day in the US, and we choose to show our support for one pioneering African-American by showcasing another trailblazer:

James Marshall Hendrix, "The Star Spangled Banner" - Woodstock (1969)

10/31/2008

Goodbye Rocktober...

We'll miss you. See ya in '09.

Diminishing Returns: The Current State of Music

Whenever discussing one of our favorite topics—which are currently politics, baseball, music; in that order—we find ourselves lamenting the lower standards in all of these. But what is at the root of this situation? Are politicians less challenging and ambitious or are people simply more narcissistic? (i.e. voting not necessarily for resume or intellect but for someone that resembles them and/or with whom they’d like to have a beer with); has the expansion of the American pastime, with now 30 teams in Major League Baseball, diluted the pool of available talent and as such compromised the quality of the sport? Are people more susceptible to crappy artists and their disposable music more than before?

(For the record, politics: the latter; baseball: yes; music: yes.)

Regarding the third category, when we refer to sub par music we’re not talking about the stuff within the parameters of the Britneysphere. That junk has always been around and always will be; the packaging gets changed every few years and presto! No, we’re alluding to the fresh-faced upstarts that everyone seems to be bringing up in conversation lately, of which we have very little or no interest in.

Since we write about music and pop culture here, we felt we’d be remiss if we didn’t put in the time to check out these artists that the likes of Pitchfork, Stereogum and the rest of the hipper than thou blogosphere are always going on about. Boring exercise in futility it turned out to be, for the most part. Why? Well, it doesn’t help that we’re not won over by any of these amateurish upstarts. (And before you get off on a ‘hey, they don’t all have to be musos’ rant, can we state that The Ramones were amateurish but had lotsa heart? And tunes, too.) This latest batch of newcomers seem to approach making music as something to do while they figure out where to go for an MBA; a 'first job out of college' experience, if you will. Zzzz.

But, here’s the more important and determining issue: in the end, none of these bands will be around 5 years from now—oh, XL Records: so much to answer for—either by design or as a result of the fickle nature of their increasingly pliable fanbases, which are either bored or—depending on the speed and level of notoriety gained by the artist in question—consumed by the spirit of backlash 6 months into the artists’ arrival on the scene. Despite a band’s ardent desire to make a realistic go of it, no one with that kind of following can aspire to any sort of longevity. Of course, we suspect that these artists have no intent to do so, and their fans, cut from the same cloth of ADD, know this and react accordingly.

So, tell us again why we should give a damn.

The Double Album, RIP?

Frankly, with so many artists barely able to put out one album's worth of halfway decent music this one's a no-brainer. But, you know, hope springs eternal, and all that.

Inspired by The Cure's recent double album nixing by their label, The Guardian weighs in on the subject.

Zep's New Singer?

Myles Kennedy formerly of The Mayfield Four and Alterbridge--aka Creed 2.0, heh heh--is rumored to be at the top of the list of candidates to front Led Zeppelin for an upcoming tour.

While original frontman Robert Plant has told the press he'd be taking 2 years off from any touring commitments, solo and otherwise, sources inform us that at the heart of Plant's decision not to tour with Zeppelin is his inability to properly sing many of the band's classic tunes, and thus, to not shortchange the band's fans. Quite noble, indeed.

Meanwhile, we have a question: how is it that the 1980 death of drummer John Bonham precluded the remaining members from continuing but now they have no problem cashing in without their iconic lead singer as well?

(PS: If Alterbridge is inactive during that Zep reunion could it mean the return of Creed??!!)

The Jackson 4?

The Jacksons will reunite in 2009 sans guess who?

Happy Halloween!

Don't ruin yours and everyone else's by picking lame subjects to dress up as.

Like these 3 dudes doing "Flight of the Conchords" whose concept is as lame as FoC is unfunny:




The 3 chicks version is no better:

Yikes!
[photos courtesy of Pop Candy]

10/30/2008

Magical Mystery Game

The Beatles will join video gaming culture with their own upcoming venture into that market. But instead of simply licensing their music to one of the existing music-related video games out there—Guitar Hero, Rock Band, etc—a brand new game will be designed for Fab Four, with its music content supervised by Giles Martin, who oversaw the Love album and is the son of famed Beatles producer George Martin. None of the music tracks included will be remixed or remastered versions. The game is due to be released for the 2009 holiday season.

Joaquin Phoenix Quits Hollywood

The 34 year old actor has tired of movie-making and is said to be concentrating on music from here on in. According to Charlatans UK frontman Tim Burgess, who is collaborating with Phoenix on an upcoming album, “Once he learnt guitar he found that he had quite a lot of demons inside himself that he wanted to expel through music.” Phoenix played the legendary Johnny Cash on the big screen in 2005’s Walk the Line.

Hey, if this turns out to be interesting, maybe Greg Dulli can play him in the movie.

What We're Listening To

THE BEATLES self-titled [aka The White Album] (Parlophone)
THE PRETENDERS self-titled (Sire)
RADIOHEAD OK Computer (Parlophone)
STEELY DAN A Decade of… (MCA)
MIKE STERN Upside Downside (Atlantic)


What are YOU listening to?

We Are Soooo in the Wrong Business

Those overflowing with cash are paying anywhere from $50 to $250/hr for audio stylists to program different playlists for their homes, depending on the room, mood and/or time of day. “I love that I don’t have to think about what to put on. It’s already done for me,” says one happy homeowner. “Does This Song Match My Sofa?” indeed.

RIP

Painter, jazz vocalist and actress Esthelle Reiner—wife of Carl, mother of Rob—best known for her iconic scene in When Harry Met Sally (“I'll have what she’s having”) passed away at her Beverly Hills home on October 25th. She was 94.

First Yes, Now Zep?

Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, to the BBC about the increasing possibility of hitting the road sans lead singer Robert Plant:

"We want to do it. It's sounding great and we want to get and get out there. It's got to be right. There's no point in just finding another Robert."

We're speechless.

10/29/2008

Seen Your Videos

MTV has set up MTVmusic.com (what genius came up with that one?) where they now have some 16,000 videos available for viewing, from David Bowie's "Space Oddity" to Britney Spears' "Womanizer". More clips are being added daily.

Here's an old fave that pays tribute to our neck of the woods:


By Any Other Name

In an effort to make Seattle a music mecca, a new initiative geared towards having the city considered “a home to music business, musicians and live music" will include a $13,000 yearly grant by the Sub Pop label to help new, developing artists “get their music business ideas off the ground”.

Um, isn’t that called a record deal?

Happy Birthday

Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon hit the big 5-0 on Oct. 27th; actress Winona Ryder (37) on Oct. 29th.